Prospect Pipe Line
It is very difficult to think of another season that rivals this one in terms of top prospects making their MLB debuts. The only year that really comes to mind would be the 1995 season which marked the first appearance of the Yankees “Core Four” (Jeter, Posada, Pettite and Rivera) and Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Hideo Nomo, Billy Wagner, Troy Percival, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Cameron, Phil Nevin, Brian Giles, Matt Lawton, Esteban Loaiza, Brad Radke and (current Rockies pitcher) LaTroy Hawkins.
Through 64 games this season, not only have we seen the arrivals of MLB.com’s Top 5 prospects (Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell and Francisco Lindor), but we have also had the privilege of witnessing the MLB introductions of: Joey Gallo, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Carlos Rodon, Archie Bradley, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Austin Hedges, Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez, AJ Cole, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Yasmany Tomas, as well as a trio of Blue Jays (Roberto Osuna, Miguel Castro and Devin Travis). And that is not even including the highly talked about debut of ambidextrous relief pitcher, Pat Venditte.
This year’s “bumper crop” of prospects is just the latest in a five year boom of young talent arriving at the MLB level. Since 2010 baseball fans have had the privilege of witnessing the arrivals of: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Wacha, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Zach Wheeler, Matt Moore, Corey Kluber, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Craig Kimbrel and half of the foundation of the Kansas City Royals roster (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Lorenzo Cain) to name a few .
And those are just players who were drafted through the MLB Draft; we’re not including players who were signed as International Free Agents like: Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Alex Guerrero and the rest of the Royals roster foundation (Yordano Ventura, Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera).
The funny thing is that this recent prospect yield is far from over. Obviously in the coming years we will be privy to see the arrivals of numerous prospects, but with this year not even half way over, we may be in line to witness more (young) talent embark upon their career. Depending on how the division and wild card races play out down the stretch, not to mention the rosters expanding in September, we could see the likes of Corey Seager (LAD), Mark Appel (HOU), Steven Matz (NYM), Alex Meyer (MIN), Miguel Sano (MIN), Carl Edwards (CHC), Aaron Nola (PHI) and J.P Crawford (PHI) before all is said and done.
Thoughts on the Mid Summer Classic
With EIGHT Royals set to start for the AL in Cincinnati in just under a month’s time, a lot of bitching and moaning has been cast toward the fan’s ability to vote and decide the starters for the All Star team. Even the players have been sharing their two cents. Detroit Tigers starting pitcher and an All Star himself, David Price, tweeted that the voting system “is not funny but it’s kind of a joke,” and further chided “I wanna know how many votes Jeter has right now… I know people have written him in and voted… my guess is 1.5 million.”
Despite the American League All Star roster starting to look more like a regular season affair, some of the Royals own players weighed in on the voting process. Outfielder Alex Gordon, who is currently sitting as one of the starting OF in the game, had this to say when interviewed by USA Today Sports:
“To be honest with you, I’ve never agreed with the All-Star voting, I always thought that guys most deserving, and having the best years, should go, especially now that the All-Star Game decides who wins home-field advantage. But it’s a popularity thing now, and after getting to the World Series, we got popular.”
It is hard not to agree with Price, Gordon and the side who vehemently oppose fans having the final say on who starts the All Star game. In fact, I am one of those people who believe that the system needs to be changed.
Having the fate of All Star starters rest in a fan held vote robs players who DESERVE to be there! With a fan vote, a player who is having a career year or one who is a “feel good story” might not get the chance to be named an All Star because one fan base is larger than another and voted more often for their hometown players; regardless of the season they’re having.
With that in mind, I do believe that fans should still play a role in selecting players, just not the starters. Why can they not vote on who will take place in the Home Run Derby? I understand that not everybody is an option to take part, but why can they not vote out of those who are willing to participate? I also like the idea of fans selecting the last player to be named to the All Star game. It really tends to be a selection made more for depth in case of extra innings, so why can we not limit them to voting for that, or even expand it so they can vote for the last three roster positions?
All that being said, until the system is changed, I (unfortunately) have to side with Kansas City Royals manager, Ned Yost, on the fan voting and All Star selection… “If you don’t like it, go out there and vote.”
The Return of Thor and Bitching About the Blue Jays in Bullet Points
- Grantland’s Jonah Keri put out an incredible Blue Jays article and an accompanying podcast. The Blue Jays are discussed in the first twenty minutes of the podcast and Jonah is joined by Scott MacArthur from TSN 1050 for the segment.
- Move over Mike Trout, there is a new man crush in town. Josh Donaldson seriously makes me swoon like a high school student getting noticed by their crush. I just get butterflies looking at the dude…
- Apparently I am not the only one either… The Don (Don Cherry) made a televised plea to baseball fans to vote for the “Bringer of Rain”
- I am still reeling after that 11th inning loss to the Mets on Monday night that ended the 11 game win streak. Regardless of how many runs we put up on a nightly basis, it is losses like that that will define, and subsequently doom, a season
- That Noah Syndergaard kid looked pretty damn good (6 IP · 2 H · 1 ER · 2 BB · 11 SO), but hey who needs him when you got good ol’ Runs Allowed Dickey
- More impressive than his stat line was Syndergaard’s ability to throw his secondary pitches for strikes in fastball counts, following the Bautista home run in the 1st.
- Gregg (Two G) Zaun made a decent point about our whipping boy Dickey during the pregame broadcast. He said that Dickey is effectively the same guy he was when he was pitching for the Mets, the main difference being that when he was with the Mets, he was pitching in a bigger ballpark, in a weaker division and against weaker lineups. I hate giving RA any benefit of doubt, but I do agree with Zaun’s analysis on this one.
- What I don’t agree with is anytime Zaun, or any Jays other analyst (I’m looking at you Wilner) for that matter, tries to defend trading Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for Dickey. Trading Syndergaard straight up for Dickey would have been egregious enough, let alone throwing d’Arnaud into the package. I am sure if you ask AA, he’ll agree this is one he wants a mulligan on
- I have said it before and I will say it again, but I have as much faith in Brett Cecil closing out a win, as I do in bargain bin folding chairs supporting my rotund frame
- Can we please (FINALLY) address our lack of pitching!? I fully understand that everybody fears making another R.A Dickey/Syndergaard type of trade, but you know what we really should fear?!?!? Not making the playoffs… AGAIN!!!
- I am totally on board with dealing some of our tomorrow for today! You have to be willing to take a chance in order to make it to the playoffs. It might work, it might not, but it is worth trying especially when the opportunity presents itself.
- The Giants for instance traded Zach Wheeler to the Mets for three months of Carlos Beltran in an attempt to win. Sure it didn’t work for them that season, but those are chances contenders and winning franchises make. Why can’t we?
- As much as I love prospects like Norris, Castro and Pompey, I wouldn’t hesitate to package them for a closer and a starter. You have to figure that those three (at least) get the conversation started on a Cueto/Chapman or Clippard/Kazmir deal? Hell, just one of them should be enough to land Papelbon from Philadelphia.
- If the prospects can’t contribute this season in helping us win, then why not use them via trade to help improve the roster and give us a chance this season? I completely agree with Scott MacArthur when he says that it is time to “bleep or get of the pot.”
- On a positive note, the Blue Jays have signed almost all of their draft class to contracts. This includes the top three picks, all of whom signed for or under slot value. For more info, check out the link from BlueBirdBanter:
Home Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
2014 Finish: 70 – 92 · 4th AL Central
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 73.5 · Over
What We Love:
- Thunder in the Lineup: If there is one thing that the Astros will not be short on in 2015, it is power. Although they might not have the “sexiest” of lineups offensively in MLB, what they do have is a lineup that will CRUSH pitches. Chris Carter alone hit 37 bombs in 2015; he also set the franchise record for most multi HR games (7). Top prospect, George Springer, showed off his impressive power stroke by hitting 20 in his rookie campaign, including hitting 7 over a 7 game span in May, before being shut down for the last two and a half months by a quad injury. Not satisfied by their lineups power, the Astros brought in Evan Gattis in a trade with the Braves and signed free agent, Colby Rasmus, to a 1yr/$8mil deal. In Gattis, the Astros get a player who has hit 43 career home runs in only 213 games; while Rasmus offers a left-handed bat capable of 25+ HR. If everyone stays healthy and performs up to their ability, there is no reason not to think that the trio of Springer, Gattis and Rasmus could hit 25-30 HR a piece. Carter on the other hand, could slug 40 or more in 2015.
- Seeing the first signs of a bright future ahead: Top prospect, George Springer, made his highly anticipated debut in 2014 and did not disappoint. Astros fans can expect to see more top prospects moving up to Minute Maid Park in next year or so. There is a good chance that, given a strong performance in the minors, we could see SP Mark Appel in Houston sometime in 2015. Meanwhile, the Astros (current) top positional prospect, SS Carlos Correa, will most likely have to wait until 2016 for his call to the show.
- No more 100 loss seasons. Even though they still lost 92 games in 2014, the Astros were able to avoid making it four consecutive seasons with 100 losses or more. Given their current roster and bright future, there shouldn’t be anymore 100 loss seasons in the foreseeable future.
- Jose Altuve’s bat: Winner of the 2014 AL Batting crown with a .341 average; also set a franchise record with 225 hit
- Reinforced bullpen: The Astros signed a pair of top free agent relievers in the offseason (Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson) and brought in Joe Thatcher on a one year, reclamation deal.
- Anytime an OF has to navigate Tal’s Hill in CF.
- The Nolan Ryan era throwback jerseys.
What We Hate:
- Great Power, Greater Strikeout Rate: In the past two seasons, the Houston Astros have finished 1st and 2nd for most strikeouts as a team. In fact, the 2013 version of the Astros set a MLB record by striking out 1535 times. Last season, the Astros had seven players in their lineup strike out 100 or more times. Even with trading one of those players (Dexter Fowler) and having two others open the season in the minors (Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez), this is a lineup that could very well break their own record for most strikeouts in a season. The main reason for the potential whiff increase is the offseason additions of Colby Rasmus and Evan Gattis. Sure both players should be a lock to boost the Astros power numbers, but they should also be locks to raise their team strikeout rate too. Gattis has struck out 178 times over 213 games played, while Rasmus strikeouts an average of 157 times over a 162 game season. There is also no reason not to think that 1B Jon Singleton (134 strikeouts in 310 AB in 2014!) and 3B Matt Dominguez (125 strikeouts in 564 AB) will not be back in the Astros lineup at some point during the season.
- The whole Brady Aiken situation: The Astros drafted Aiken 1st overall in 2014 and then reneged on their original contract offer ($6.5 million) once a physical found an issue with Aiken’s UCL. The Astros attempted to sign Aiken to a lesser deal ($5 million) but Aiken refused, said he would only sign if it was a sign and trade deal, and then opted not to sign with the Astros at all. In doing so, the Astros also lost the ability to sign another high draft pick (Jacob Nix). Hindsight time… turns out Aiken does need Tommy John after all and the Astros have two picks in the top 5 of this year’s draft. So… did they make the right decision after all? Even if they did, this is still a black eye for an organization that doesn’t need any more bad publicity. Aiken, meanwhile, will undergo Tommy John surgery and will still be eligible for this year’s draft; as will the other unsigned prospect, Jacob Nix.
- Drafting SP Mark Appel over 3B Kris Bryant in 2013. Hindsight sure, but don’t you think the Astros would like a redo on this one? Carlos Correa over Byron Buxton is a little more defensible…
- Jose Altuve’s glove.
- Releasing J.D Martinez. Martinez was an absolute stud for the Tigers last season (.315/26/76) and would look awfully nice playing LF at Minute Maid.
- The whole hacking/leaking of ten months of confidential, internal trade discussions to deadspin.com in 2014 – http://deadspin.com/leaked-10-months-of-the-houston-astros-internal-trade-1597951970
Player to Watch: OF George Springer. Springer was enjoying a pretty decent rookie season in 2014, before an injury to his quadriceps forced him to miss the last two and half months. In 295 AB, Springer hit for a .231 average, added 20 HR and drove in 51 RBI; he also struck out 114 times. If he can remain healthy and cut down on the strikeouts, there is no reason not to believe that Springer cannot build upon his rookie numbers. He has the pop in his bat to hit 30 home runs and he may just accomplish that in 2015.
Top Pitching Prospect: Mark Appel · RHP · MLB ETA: 2015
Top Positional Prospect: Carlos Correa · SS · MLB ETA: 2016
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=hou
Final Prediction: 4th AL West