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: Progressive Field
2014 Finish: 85 – 77 · 3rd AL Central
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 81 · Over
What We Love:
- Power Arms and Rotation Depth: With as strong, and deep, of a starting rotation like Cleveland has, it’s no wonder they’ve been receiving so much preseason love and hype to make some BIG noise in the AL Central this season. Heading into 2014, it was the young flame throwing, Danny Salazar, who was garnering all of the preseason hype. By the season’s end, it would be another hard throwing righty that would be getting all of the press (and awards); Corey Kluber. Kluber, who came out of (seemingly) nowhere, went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and struck out 269 batters over 235 innings, on his way to edging out King Felix (Hernandez) and capturing the 2014 Cy Young Award. This season, Kluber will be (heavily) relied upon to anchor a starting rotation that has tremendous upside, but is also unproven. Even after optioning the highly talented Salazar to AAA, the Tribe (still) have a duo of hard throwing righties (Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer) that could be poised to take a big “next step” in 2015. Both Carrasco and Bauer, whom were (former) top pitching prospects for other teams before being acquired by the Tribe, set career highs in appearances, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts, in 2014. Behind that trio of righties, the Indians rotation will be rounded out by the combo of LHP T.J House and RHP Zach McAllister. Meanwhile in AAA, the Indians have the aforementioned Danny Salazar, along with RHP Josh Tomlin, waiting in the wings.
- The emergence of Yan Gomes: As a Blue Jays fan, this is a very sore topic to discuss. Let me take you back to the days (2012) when the Blue Jays had too many young catching prospects (like that’s ever a bad thing!) in their farm system and ended up including the versatile Gomes, as a THROW IN nonetheless, in a trade for a pitcher (Esmil Rogers). In the two seasons since that trade, the Blue Jays have seen the likes of JP Arencibia, Josh Thole, Dioner Navarro, Henry Blanco, Mike Nickeas (who?) and now Russell Martin, play at least one game behind the dish for them. Meanwhile, the acquisition and emergence of Gomes as an everyday catcher in Cleveland, has allowed the Tribe to move the versatile Carlos Santana to other positions of offensive need (1B/3B/DH). Besides being an above average game caller and defender, Gomes has also proven that he is no slouch at the plate. In his two seasons in Cleveland, Gomes has hit for a .284 average with 32 HR and 112 RBI in 778 AB. Bat and glove aside, the most underrated aspect about Gomes is that he may be one of the best bargains in baseball, as he is locked up through 2020 on a 6yr/$23 million dollar deal. On behalf of Indians fans around the World… THANK YOU TORONTO!
- Potential of a Francisco Lindor sighting before seasons end.
- The likelihood of a BIG bounce back campaign by 2B Jason Kipnis.
- A full season of SS Jose Ramirez’s glove and wheels.
- Fading out Chief Wahoo for the more culturally sensitive “C” logo.
What We Hate:
- The (remaining) Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher Contracts: In the 2012 offseason, the notoriously tight pocketed Indians opened up their chequebooks and signed a pair of big name free agents to four year contracts. CF Michael Bourn was the recipient of a 4 yr/$48 million dollar deal, while 1B/OF Nick Swisher was brought in on a 4 year deal worth $56 million dollars. Now two seasons into those deals and it looks like the Indians wish they had the ability to get a mulligan on those two signings. Both players have struggled with injuries and inconsistent play, and both are still owed a small fortune for the remaining two years of their contracts. Swisher, who has batted .231/30/105 in 909 AB in two seasons, is owed $30 million over the next two seasons ($15 mil per year). While Bourn, who is owed a remaining $27.5 million over the next two seasons, has hit .260/9/78 in 969 AB and has seen his stolen base numbers drastically decline (33 steals in two seasons) thanks to hamstring injuries. Besides getting a poor return on investment, the biggest issue with these two contracts is that it prevents a mid-market team like the Indians from making in-season moves to add depth to a position of need or replace an injured player. Not to mention that it prevents them from going out and splurging on the bigger free agents available. Imagine if the Tribe had the money this offseason to go out and sign one of the big name starting pitchers?
- Besides Cody Allen, bullpen could be trick or treat.
- Potential for some historically bad defensive numbers.
- Sandy Alomar Jr’s inability to find a role as a big league manager.
- Replacing Wesley Snipes with Omar Epps… like we wouldn’t notice.
Player to Watch: SP Trevor Bauer. It seems like it has been a lifetime since Bauer was drafted 3rd overall in 2011 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bauer, who was viewed as an extremely polished starter coming out of UCLA, cruised through the minors and wound up making four starts for the Diamondbacks in 2012. What seemed like a very bright future in the desert soon grew into a bitter relationship over Bauer’s unwillingness to alter his workout regime (long toss and stretching over weightlifting). The Diamondbacks viewed Bauer as “uncoachable,” quickly soured on him and flipped him for a 70% return rate (Didi Gregorious). Bauer, who is listed as 6’1, 190, modelled his delivery and mechanics off another lean and wiry starting pitcher, Tim Lincecum. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong in this argument, what matters is that the Indians absolutely pilfered Bauer from the Diamondbacks. Last season marked Bauer’s first full season in the majors and he enjoyed a bit of an up and down season. Bauer made 26 starts for the Indians, went 5-8 with a 4.18 ERA and struck out 143 batters over 153 innings. Even with his win/loss record and ERA, there was more good than bad for Bauer in 2014 and there is no reason not to expect Bauer to take another big step forward in 2015.
Top Pitching Prospect: Justus Sheffield · LHP · MLB ETA: 2018
Top Positional Prospect: Francisco Lindor · SS · MLB ETA: 2015
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=cle
Final Prediction: 1st AL Central