2017 Top 100 MLB Prospects

Below is a list of the top 100 prospects in MLB, as compiled by a non-scout. With spring training starting up, what better time to begin prospecting for your fantasy teams than right now. Click on the links below to view each player’s Baseball Reference page. Brief writeups for top 25 only. Enjoy, comment, and share…share a lot!

He has filled out and will fill up the stat sheets in 2017 Courtesy: Boston Herald
He has filled out and will fill up the stat sheets in 2017
Courtesy: Boston Herald

1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, BOS: Added muscle to an already incredibly talented skill-set could lead to immediate stardom in 2017.

2. Alex Reyes, RHP, STL: Suspensions are behind him. It won’t be long until he’s 1b behind Carlos Martinez.
3. Lucas Giolito, RHP, CHW: Remember the elbow issues and the babying. He’ll get a grasp on location and he’ll take off.
One of several pieces from the Sale trade, Moncada is a freak Courtesy: Zimbio
One of several pieces from the Sale trade, Moncada is a freak
Courtesy: Zimbio

4. Yoan Moncada, 2B, CHW: Freak athlete. The numbers from a 2B will make fantasy players drool.

5. J.P. Crawford, SS, PHI: Don’t expect Jimmy Rollins in his game. He’ll begin to impress as soon as he gets his first shot due to a solid approach and all-around game.
6. Dansby Swanson, SS, ATL: Atlanta will be better in their new stadium. Swanson will be one of the reasons why. Getting him for Shelby Miller will be the Braves’ version of the Jeff Bagwell deal.
7. Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS: Power potential for days. He’s going to be special.
8. Gleyber Torres, SS, NYY: The power is coming. At 19 in A+, he had 11 HR and 29 doubles. It’s a race to SS between Torres and Mateo in NY.
9. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL: There is a lot more swing and miss in his game than Troy Tulowitzki’s, but he’ll be compared to him his entire career – and for good reason.
10. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, PIT: The control can still be an issue, but Glasnow has the right pitching coach to make him an elite arm.
Robles is still in the Nats' organization for a reason Courtesy: MiLB.com
Robles is still in the Nats’ organization for a reason
Courtesy: MiLB.com

11. Victor Robles, OF, WAS: A gifted athlete with a crazy contact rate (especially for a 19-year-old in A+), he’ll utilize the entire field and be a threat on the bases.

12. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, LAD: He has nowhere to play until Adrian Gonzalez leaves after the 2018 season, but he’s nearly ready. Maybe they’ll make room for him in the OF.
13. Austin Meadows, OF, PIT: All of the McCutcheon rumors will lead to a lot of focus on Meadows. He won’t be a star but can do a lot of things well.
14. Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE: The strikeouts are a huge concern but Zimmer is a unique talent and brings a skill-set that will improve an already impressive roster in Cleveland.
The Reds need a quick moving power bat. He's the guy Courtesy: redsminorleagues.com
The Reds need a quick moving power bat. He’s the guy
Courtesy: redsminorleagues.com

15. Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN: Think of Ryan Zimmerman when you think of how quickly a player can reach the majors here. He could also produce at the same level…hopefully without the injuries.

16. Anderson Espinoza, RHP, SD: There are still a lot of things that can go wrong (he doesn’t turn 19 until March), but there are so many things that are already intriguing here.
17. Lewis Brinson, OF, MIL: Making contact consistently is a concern, but, when he does, Brinson is capable of superstardom in Milwaukee.
18. Eloy Jimenez, OF, CHC: 40 doubles at 19 in the midwest league. He’s going to turn those into HR in 2017 and he’ll be a top 5 prospect in 2018.
19. Manuel Margot, OF, SD: His numbers won’t pop and he may never lead the league in any statistic, but Margot is a smooth baseball player. He can do it all.
20. Josh Bell, 1B/OF, PIT: He never showed the power potential he was supposed to have in the minors, but he’s still a work in progress – one with an approach beyond his years.
Frazier will be an asset for the Yankees, even if it hurt to give up Miller Courtesy: Stack.com
Frazier will be an asset for the Yankees, even if it hurt to give up Miller
Courtesy: Stack.com

21. Clint Frazier, OF, NYY: The hair may be what many know him for right now. The ability will make others wish that they had curly red hair.

22. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU: As this guy grows into his 6’4″ frame, he’s going to be a monster. He had 41 XBH and 32 SB while reading A+ at 19 in 2016.
23. Michael Kopech, RHP, CHW: He throws really hard and he’s on a team that is going to give him an opportunity sooner than later. If for no other reason than these, he’s an intriguing prospect. He’s also very good.
24. Willy Adames, SS, TB: He’ll make the David Price trade look silly at some point when he debuts in 2017. He is extremely talented and will quickly become one of the Rays’ top players.
25. Francis Martes, RHP, HOU: Strikeouts jumped a bit (as did the walks) in AA last year, a wonderful sign for a 20-year-old. He throws extremely hard and is capable of becoming a frontline starter.
26. Amed Rosario, SS, NYM
27. Ian Happ, 2B/OF, CHC
28. Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS, ATL
30. Kyle Lewis, OF, SEA
31. Mickey Moniak, OF, PHI
32. Franklin Barreto, 2B/SS, OAK
33. Francisco Mejia, C, CLE
34. Jose De Leon, RHP, TB
35. Corey Ray, OF, MIL
36. Hunter Renfroe, OF, SD
37. Brent Honeywell, RHP, TB
38. Josh Hader, LHP, MIL
39. Jason Groome, LHP, BOS
40. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, COL
41. Tyler O’Neill, OF, SEA
42. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, CHW
43. Kolby Allard, LHP, ATL
44. Raimel Tapia, OF, COL
45. Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT
46. Blake Rutherford, OF, NYY
47. Braxton Garrett, LHP, MIA
48. Jorge Alfaro, C, PHI
49. Yohander Mendez, LHP, TEX
50. Anthony Alford, OF, TOR
51. Carson Kelly, C, STL
52. Luis Castillo, RHP, CIN
53. Yadier Alvarez, RHP, LAD
54. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B/OF, TOR
55. Jorge Mateo, SS, NYY
56. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX
57. Riley Pint, RHP, COL
58. Dominic Smith, 1B, NYM
59. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, TOR
60. Nick Gordon, SS, MIN
61. David Paulino, RHP, HOU
62. Amir Garrett, LHP, CIN
63. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY
64. Triston McKenzie, RHP, CLE
65. Kevin Newman, SS, PIT
66. Alex Verdugo, OF, LAD
67. Nick Williams, OF, PHI
68. Zack Collins, C, CHW
69. Delvin Perez, SS, STL
70. A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK
71. Grant Holmes, RHP, OAK
72. Brady Aiken, LHP, CLE
73. Robert Stephenson, RHP, CIN
74. Jesse Winker, OF, CIN
75. Erick Fedde, RHP, WAS
76. Willie Calhoun, 2B, LAD
77. Dylan Cease, RHP, CHC
78. Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, TB
79. Luke Weaver, RHP, STL
80. Justus Sheffield, LHP, NYY
81. Sean Newcombe, LHP, ATL
82. Matt Manning, RHP, DET
83. Brock Stewart, RHP, LAD
84. Max Fried, LHP, ATL
85. Derek Fisher, OF, HOU
86. Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL
87. Chance Sisco, C, BAL
88. Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU
89. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, MIN
90. Kevin Maitan, SS, ATL
91. Matt Chapman, 3B, OAK
92. Tyler Jay, LHP, MIN
93. Cal Quantrill, RHP, SD
94. Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE
95. Christian Arroyo, INF, SF
96. Mike Soroka, RHP, ATL
97. Isan Diaz, SS, MIL
98. Ramon Laureano, OF, HOU
99. Tyler Beede, RHP, SF
100. German Marquez, RHP, COL

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Statistically Scouting the Lower Minors – 6/11

There are a lot of things that make prospects special – their incredibly smooth deliveries, their sweet swings, and their game-changing gloves; however, I don’t have time to travel around the country. Therefore, scouting becomes what baseball is all about – the numbers. Based on the numbers, here are some prospects to watch in the coming months:

(NOTE: CLICK ON THE BLUE HYPERLINK TO VIEW PLAYER STATS!)

Midwest League

This monster is a few years from crushing the ball in Wrigley Courtesy: Baseball Prospectus
This monster is a few years from crushing the ball in Wrigley
Courtesy: Baseball Prospectus

Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs

Signed as the No. 1 international prospect in 2013 for $2.8 million, the Cubs look to have another dynamic bat coming up through their system. The 6’4″, 200-pound right fielder is second in the MWL with eight home runs, while his 18 doubles show that the power is coming and will translate to future longballs. The rich are getting richer, though it will be at least a couple of more years before Jimenez is making it rain for the Cubbies.

Matt Hall, RHP, Detroit Tigers

The numbers speak for themselves with Hall, whose microscopic ERA and 10.24 K:9 scream that a promotion is needed, but not as much as his age. Though he is 22 – a bit old for the MWL, Hall was a 6th round pick in last year’s draft, so he just needed to get some innings in the minors. Still, he is ready for the Florida State League after dominating to this extent.

South Atlantic League

Brian Mundell, 1B, Colorado Rockies

Like Hall, Mundell was a 2015 college draftee (7th round), and, like Hall, Mundell is dominating his league as a 22-year-old. His 32 doubles are 11 more than the next closest player, while his .351 average is pacing the league by a whopping 26 points. Add in his solid approach (30:22 K:BB), and you have yourself a potential star in Colorado at first base…if he continues hitting like this as he moves up, which should happen soon.

Could Keller become the next homegrown talent for the Pirates? Courtesy: piratesprospects.com
Could Keller become the next homegrown talent for the Pirates?
Courtesy: piratesprospects.com

Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Keller could be creating his own version of “Mitchapalooza” by dominating and becoming the next big arm in the Pirates system. In his first taste of full-season ball, the 20-year-old, 6’4″ righty has a 69:6 K:BB and is holding opponents to a .195 BAA. When you strike out 10 per nine, don’t walk anyone, and don’t allow many hits, you can become a pretty valuable arm.

California League

Travis Demeritte, 2B, Texas Rangers

The Rangers don’t need much help up the middle, but Demeritte looks like a guy who can provide offensive production wherever he ends up playing. After ripping 25 homers in his age-19 season, Demeritte looks to be enjoying his time in the offensive heaven of the California league, having driven 15 bombs and 13 doubles in his first 58 games. There are some things he needs to work on, including his swing and miss, as his 80:31 K:BB in just 217 AB is grotesque. Plus, he was suspended for 80 games for PEDs last season. Still, power has value and Demeritte appears to have it.

Sam Howard, LHP, Colorado Rockies

Howard has received a promotion to Double-A after posting a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 65.2 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .184 average. At 23, he is right where he needs to be now, and as a college arm, Howard could jump another level in 2016. He allowed a single run over 6.1 innings in his first Double-A start, so he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Also, he’s left-handed and breathing, which is always useful.

Carolina League

Drew Ward, 3B, Washington Nationals

At 21, Ward is having his best season to date. He leads the Carolina League in OPS, matching his career-high with 10 homers this season. His 15 doubles show solid power, as well, but it is his 53:28 K:BB that shows the best improvement, as his 13% walk rate is, by far, his best in a full season league. At 6″3′, 215-pounds, Ward could continue to develop power and become a useful piece for the Nationals.

Matt Cooper, RHP, Chicago White Sox

At 24, you’re probably wondering why Cooper could be a prospect in Advance A-ball. Well, this is his first season as a starter and he has struck out 11.4 per nine. His 92 strikeouts, in 72.2 innings, top the league by 28 punchouts. The 2014 16th round pick out of Hawaii was dominant as a reliever prior to this season, and he looks like a solid late-round find by the White Sox.

Florida State League

Stewart could move quickly to Detroit Courtesy: MiLB.com
Stewart could move quickly to Detroit
Courtesy: MiLB.com

Christin Stewart, OF, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers’ 1st round pick last season, Stewart has shown impressive power (16 home runs and 12 doubles) and an advanced approach at the plate (60:43 K:BB) in his first taste of the FSL. As a college draftee out of Tennessee, he could move pretty quickly for the Tigers, who are in the middle of a “rebuild-while-winning” situation.

Chance Adams, RHP, New York Yankees

Adams was a 5th round pick last season by the Bronx Bombers. They eased him in as a reliever last season, but they have converted the 21-year-old to a starter this season. He has responded by striking out 11.4 per nine and holding opponents to a .196 BAA. At 6′, 215, he won’t intimidate, but you have to approve of the results.

 

 

The Next Big Things in 2015

Courtesy: Joey Gallo Twitter, @JoeyGallo24
Bryant and Gallo at last year’s Futures Game Courtesy: Joey Gallo Twitter, @JoeyGallo24

We’ve seen the arrivals and contributions of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant and, most recently, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo, but they won’t be the last of influential rookies to make splashes in Major League Baseball this year. With Maikel Franco, Addison Russell, Steven Souza, Jr., and Joc Pederson, youngsters will continue to create value in fantasy leagues this season. So…who is next?

C/OF Kyle Schwarber – Chicago Cubs

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 21 A+-A-A- 72 311 262 55 90 18 2 18 53 5 39 57 .344 .428 .634 1.061 166
2015 22 AA 48 201 161 32 52 7 1 12 35 0 37 42 .323 .445 .602 1.047 97
2 Seasons 120 512 423 87 142 25 3 30 88 5 76 99 .336 .434 .622 1.056 263
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

Schwarber would be best served as a DH or first baseman, but with Anthony Rizzo in town and the Cubs residing in the NL, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Schwarber has done nothing but rake since being taken 4th overall in the 2014 draft. He isn’t much of a catcher, however, allowing a whopping 45 stolen bases in 31 games behind the dish. He could certainly provide more punch in the order than Chris Coghlan in left, but he hasn’t played a game in the outfield yet this season. With Jorge Soler’s recent injury, maybe the time for a transition is coming sooner than expected.

3B Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 17 Rk-FRk 61 241 212 34 65 16 1 7 29 4 24 60 .307 .379 .491 .870 104
2011 18 Rk 66 293 267 58 78 18 7 20 59 5 23 77 .292 .352 .637 .988 170
2012 19 A 129 553 457 75 118 28 4 28 100 8 80 144 .258 .373 .521 .893 238
2012 19 FgW 20 59 49 11 13 3 0 4 14 1 8 17 .265 .373 .571 .944 28
2013 20 AA-A+ 123 519 439 86 123 30 5 35 103 11 65 142 .280 .382 .610 .992 268
2015 22 AA 46 197 166 33 42 10 1 10 33 4 26 48 .253 .355 .506 .861 84
5 Seasons 425 1803 1541 286 426 102 18 100 324 32 218 471 .276 .371 .561 .931 864
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.
Twins' 3B (or DH) Miguel Sano Courtesy: Baseball America
Twins’ 3B (or DH) Miguel Sano
Courtesy: Baseball America

Sano is back at the hot corner after missing all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery and he’s back to being a powerful producer in Double-A. While Trevor Plouffe has been providing some production at the Major League level, the Twins are in need of some help at the designated hitter spot. Sano’s ability to stay at third has long been debated, so plugging him in at DH would likely provide an upgrade to the .238/.289/.308 line that the Twins’ have received out of that spot in 2015. Sano ripped 35 homers at the age of 20, so it’s easy to see why he is someone to get excited about.

RHP Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L ERA GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 SO9 SO/W
2012 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk MIN 3 0 1.17 4 4 0 0 30.2 15 4 4 4 49 0.620 4.4 14.4 12.25
2013 19 Cedar Rapids MIDW A MIN 7 7 3.99 19 0 0 0 103.2 105 58 46 40 100 1.399 9.1 8.7 2.50
2014 20 3 Teams 3 Lgs A+-AA-AAA MIN 12 8 2.77 25 0 2 1 139.2 118 52 43 38 140 1.117 7.6 9.0 3.68
2015 21 Chattanooga SOUL AA MIN 6 3 3.25 11 0 1 1 69.1 63 26 25 20 77 1.197 8.2 10.0 3.85
4 Seasons 28 18 3.09 59 4 3 2 343.1 301 140 118 102 366 1.174 7.9 9.6 3.59
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

After some shoulder troubles in 2014, Berrios has been lights out this season. He continues to increase his strikeout rate, and, at just 21, looks like someone who can help a staff that is already 13th in starting pitcher ERA. Where the Twins lack talent is starters who can miss bats. The team has just 193 strikeouts (28th in MLB) and a .276 batting average allowed (second worst in MLB). The club has had an impressive season, but by adding Berrios down the stretch, they’d likely be adding a pitcher who is more capable of dominance than anyone on the club’s current staff.

2B/SS Trevor Story – Colorado Rockies

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 18 Rk 47 210 179 37 48 8 2 6 28 13 26 41 .268 .364 .436 .799 78
2012 19 A 122 548 477 96 132 43 6 18 63 15 60 121 .277 .367 .505 .872 241
2013 20 A+ 130 554 497 71 116 34 5 12 65 23 45 183 .233 .305 .394 .700 196
2014 21 AA-A+-A- 108 463 396 69 104 26 8 14 48 23 60 144 .263 .367 .475 .841 188
2014 21 A- 2 8 7 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 .286 .375 .429 .804 3
2014 21 A+ 50 218 184 38 61 17 7 5 28 20 31 59 .332 .436 .582 1.017 107
2014 21 AA 56 237 205 29 41 8 1 9 20 3 28 82 .200 .302 .380 .683 78
2014 21 Fal 22 97 86 8 22 9 1 1 14 3 11 26 .256 .340 .419 .759 36
2015 22 AA 48 212 180 34 55 13 4 7 30 9 26 58 .306 .396 .539 .935 97
5 Seasons 455 1987 1729 307 455 124 25 57 234 83 217 547 .263 .353 .463 .815 800
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the shortstop, even with the rumors flying that he could be dealt, but Story is more likely to develop his own narrative as the Rockies’ second baseman. The Rockies may have more interest in dealing the large contract that Tulowitzki has in order to rebuild, but D.J. LeMahieu, the club’s reigning NL Gold Glove winner at second, may be a nice asset, as well. Since he is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, he’ll likely be due a substantial raise thanks to his glove. However, his bat is playing up this season, as the 26-year-old is hitting .339/.394/.495 after posting a .276/.314/.361 line over his first 1,281 career plate appearances. Story could handle the keystone position, allowing the Rockies to clear LeMahieu and his increasing salary and surprising bat. After looking at what Story has done, he’ll be another fine offensive force for the thin-air aided Rockies.

LHP Matt Boyd – Toronto Blue Jays

Year Age Lev W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 22 A-A+ 0 3 2.62 8 5 1 0 0 24.0 14 7 7 4 23 0.750 5.2 1.5 8.6 5.75
2014 23 A+-AA 6 7 3.17 26 26 0 1 0 133.1 120 53 47 33 147 1.148 8.1 2.2 9.9 4.45
2015 24 AA 5 1 1.08 11 11 0 0 0 66.2 37 10 8 16 66 0.795 5.0 2.2 8.9 4.13
3 Seasons 11 11 2.49 45 42 1 1 0 224.0 171 70 62 53 236 1.000 6.9 2.1 9.5 4.45
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

The Blue Jays continue to develop talented pitchers and Boyd could be the next to arrive. Since being drafted out of Oregon State, Boyd has dominated the minors. He is a crafty lefty who works 88-90 with a solid change and curve. He will look the part of Mark Buehrle and could replace the aging lefty in the Blue Jays rotation when Buerhle reaches free agency after the season. He may not be an ace, but Boyd certainly knows how to pitch, and with those bats behind him, he just needs to take the next step to Toronto to continue his mature pitching approach.

RHP Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies

Year Age Lev W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2014 21 A+-AA 4 3 2.93 12 11 1 0 0 55.1 49 19 18 10 45 1.066 8.0 1.6 7.3 4.50
2015 22 AA 6 3 1.81 10 10 0 0 0 64.2 49 14 13 7 50 0.866 6.8 1.0 7.0 7.14
2 Seasons 10 6 2.33 22 21 1 0 0 120.0 98 33 31 17 95 0.958 7.4 1.3 7.1 5.59
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.
Phillies' RHP Aaron Nola Courtesy: crashandburnalley.com
Phillies’ RHP Aaron Nola
Courtesy: crashandburnalley.com

Of the many reasons that Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been mocked, one of the larger reasons was the fact that Nola wasn’t invited to spring training. It seems like a strange thing to be ridiculed over, but Nola was certainly deserving of a long look considering the club’s lack of MLB-ready talent. The right-hander hasn’t disappointed in 2015, showcasing his talent at the minor league level. While he won’t get much help from the so-called talent on the Philadelphia roster, he does have enough to be a serviceable option for the Phillies right now.

C/OF Peter O’Brien – Arizona Diamondbacks

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 A–Rk 52 227 212 29 45 10 0 10 34 0 10 62 .212 .256 .401 .656 85
2013 22 A+-A 119 506 447 78 130 39 4 22 96 0 41 134 .291 .350 .544 .893 243
2014 23 A+-AA 106 427 399 67 108 23 2 34 74 0 21 111 .271 .316 .594 .910 237
2015 24 AAA 50 208 189 35 63 15 2 12 47 1 11 42 .333 .375 .624 .999 118
4 Seasons 327 1368 1247 209 346 87 8 78 251 1 83 349 .277 .327 .548 .875 683
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

While the club is only 5.5 games out, the recent deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle is a tell-tale sign of things to come in Arizona. The Diamondbacks don’t have the talent to compete with the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres in the NL West. While O’Brien wouldn’t make the team contenders, he certainly provides more offensively than the likes of David Peralta and Ender Inciarte in an outfield corner. He got a case of the yips this spring, unable to return the ball to the pitcher from the catcher spot, so he is likely in the outfield to stay. He has power that will only play up in the desert, so continue to expect impressive power, though the batting average totals are likely to slip as he adjusts to MLB pitching.

LHP Steven Matz – New York Mets

Year Age Lev W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 Rk 2 1 1.55 6 6 0 0 0 29.0 16 10 5 17 34 1.138 5.0 5.3 10.6 2.00
2013 22 A 5 6 2.62 21 21 0 1 1 106.1 86 36 31 38 121 1.166 7.3 3.2 10.2 3.18
2014 23 AA-A+ 10 9 2.25 24 24 0 1 0 140.0 132 44 35 35 131 1.193 8.5 2.2 8.4 3.74
2015 24 AAA 6 3 1.98 11 10 0 0 0 68.1 48 17 15 23 70 1.039 6.3 3.0 9.2 3.04
4 Seasons 23 19 2.25 62 61 0 2 1 343.2 282 107 86 113 356 1.149 7.4 3.0 9.3 3.15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.
Mets' LHP Steven Matz Courtesy: NY Post
Mets’ LHP Steven Matz
Courtesy: NY Post

Matz somehow gets lost in the shuffle when the Mets’ young pitching is discussed. With Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Zack Wheeler already reaching the majors, it’s fair to wonder when Matz will get his shot. After dominating since he has returned from Tommy John surgery, Matz is likely the next arm to be called upon – should the Mets have a need. He is a hard-throwing lefty whose stuff seems to continue to gain traction. After missing all of 2010, 2011, and most of 2012, he has been creating a track that leads directly to the Mets rotation. It won’t be long before he gets that shot, which will make the Mets a viable threat in the playoffs with Harvey, Colon, deGrom, and Matz to deal with in a series.

 

2015 Season Previews: Colorado Rockies

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks! 

Colorado Rockies

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 71-91 (5th in NL West, 28th in MLB)

Manager: Walt Weiss (140-184 in two seasons with Colorado)

Top Three Players: SS Troy Tulowitzki (5.8), 3B Nolan Arenado (3.9), LHP Jorge De La Rosa (2.5)

Bounce-back Player: OF Carlos Gonzalez

At 28 and in the midst of his prime, CarGo had another injury-plagued season, finishing 2014 with just 70 games played for the Rockies. While the injuries allowed the club to watch Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, and Charlie Blackmon excel in bigger roles, it was still painful for the Rockies and their fans to watch both of the high-priced stars (along with Tulowitzki) miss time once again, especially with Gonzalez and his final line – .238/.292/.431. If his leg injuries have sapped his speed, his game will have changed pretty significantly from his breakout 2010, the last season that he played in more than 140 games. He just needs to stay on the field to be productive, and with all of the other strong hitters around him in the lineup, an All-Star season is within reach as long as he suits up for 130 games – if he can do that. Considering the productivity that he could have if he is healthy, he’s a nice buy-low option and a bargain in drafts. Just make sure that you have a solid backup, as the Rockies do in Stubbs.

Blossoming superstar, 3B Nolan Arenado Courtesy: Denver Post
Blossoming superstar, 3B Nolan Arenado
Courtesy: Denver Post

Fantasy Player to Watch: 3B Nolan Arenado

Arenado was once a highly touted prospect, so it isn’t as if he is an unknown name; however, it’s the fact that he’ll be just 24 in April and he has nearly 1,000 major league plate appearances under his belt that make him interesting. Arenado has struck out just 130 times in his 981 plate appearances (13.3 percent), and his ability to make consistent contact is an asset in the spacious confines of Coors Field. As Arenado has matured, he has also increased his flyball and home run rates, going from 33.7 percent flyball and 7,1 percent home run/flyball in 2013 to 41.8 percent flyball and 11.4 percent home run/flyball rates in 2014. While he is unlikely to rip 35 home runs in 2015, he will certainly improve upon his 18 home runs from 2014, as he continues to turn some of his doubles into home runs, while improving on his already impressive .213 ISO from 2014.

Offseason Overview: Michael Cuddyer left for New York and the Mets organization early this offseason, but the Rockies have plenty of outfield depth to overcome that departure. With Drew Stubbs listed as the No.4 outfielder and Kyle Parker on his way up, the Rockies can withstand injuries at first base and outfield. Additionally, the club signed Nick Hundley to provide a more defensive-minded option at catcher, leaving slugger Wilin Rosario with no real opportunities. He could be a nice right-handed designated hitter, but he obviously can’t do that in Colorado. The pitching staff is still a bit pieced together, as the club waits for Eddie Butler and Jon Gray to take on larger roles in coming seasons. While they did sign Kyle Kendrick, his 4.92 K:9 over 1,138.2 career innings means that he can’t get the ball past hitters, and more contact will likely breed more inflated ERAs for Kendrick, who has a career 4.42 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.

The Verdict: The Rockies, once again, have a gifted group of hitters, who continue to take advantage of their spacious home ballpark; however, they don’t have the pitching to become a contender, especially in the super-competitive NL West. Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek, and Kendrick aren’t going to bring nightmares to opposing hitters in the way that Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Cashner, James Shields, Zack Greinke, and Madison Bumgarner do, but if they can manage games and hope that the offense takes control of the score, then they can at least be competitive each night. Colorado has a long way to go and a lot of hope in young arms, but if they don’t reach their potential, the organization will continue to be in a pitching-induced limbo for another decade. Watch this group put up impressive offensive numbers, while continuing to waiver in baseball purgatory as they aren’t the worst team in baseball, but they aren’t close to being the best, either.

Tulowitzki: Proving the Defensive Movement Wrong

When I looked at the current 2014 statistics today, it was easy to see that one player is standing out, dominating the league with an incredible .421 batting average and a 1.317 OPS through 32 games. After the last two seasons, you may have thought that those numbers belonged to Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, maybe even Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, but you’d be wrong. In a season where we bid farewell to one of the greatest players ever, the torch has been passed along to Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to continue a tradition of slugging shortstops in an era where so many teams are focusing on strong defensive metrics up the middle.

tulo2
Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki

The thing is…Tulowitzki isn’t another Derek Jeter. Troy Tulowitzki, 29, has two Gold Gloves in his career, not that having Gold Gloves means anything when Jeter has five of them and has long been considered a defensive liability for the Yankees. The difference is that Tulowitzki is a very strong defender, posting a career range factor per nine of 5.01 (league average is 4.38) and a career fielding percentage of .986 (league average is .973), while he has a UZR of 38.7 over his career (3rd in MLB among shortstops since the start of the 2006 season). Tulo is an all-around star.

The biggest issue is his injury history. Tulowitzki has been on the disabled list five times in his career, missing a total of 267 team games since his arrival to the majors, nearly a season and a half of production, which is a big deal considering the investment that the Rockies made in their shortstop, 13-years and $167 million worth of extensions and commitments. Through the injuries, Tulowitzki continued to produce impressive overall numbers, as evidenced by his 162-game averages for his career:

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
162 Game Avg. 162 687 605 103 181 36 4 29 105 10 69 107 .299 .373 .518 .891 124 313
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/7/2014.

That’s very Alex Rodriguez at shortstop-esque, which, with continued production, could make Tulowitzki the best overall shortstop this side of Honus Wagner.

Braves' SS Andrelton Simmons
Braves’ SS Andrelton Simmons

Which begs the question, why are so many teams still settling for players who are one-trick ponies when there are still players capable of playing short and producing strong offensive numbers? It wasn’t long ago that Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, and other, non-steroid using shortstops, like Nomar Garciaparra and Jeter, were ruling the middle of the infield around the league. Now, teams seem confident running out players like Adeiny Hechavarria, Alcides Escobar, Brandon Crawford, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Zack Cozart, who have a long history of not producing OPS numbers close to .750 while putting up solid numbers defensively; however, is an out saved defensively any more valuable than an unproductive at-bat? Those unproductive at-bats appear to be the norm over the last couple of seasons from the players thought to be defensive wizards by their clubs at one time or another (yes, Cabrera was supposed to be an upgrade defensively when he replaced Jhonny Peralta at short for Cleveland in 2009).

Consider the top five defensive shortstops in baseball currently: Erick Aybar, Cozart, Tulowitzki, Pedro Florimon, and Andrelton Simmons. Only Aybar and Simmons have an OPS over .700, along with Tulo, with Aybar checking in at .710 and Simmons checking in at .731 – which would rank them slightly better than the great Emilio Bonifacio, even with his strong start, in 2014.

So, why would a team settle for that type of production when there is enough talent out there to offset whatever defensive struggles a player has with a mighty stick at the plate?

Troy Tulowitzki is not a typical shortstop, and, as Jonah Keri wrote today, he could be heading towards one of the greatest seasons in baseball history. The impressive numbers should be a reminder that there is talent out there that will overcome  and live beyond the current movement of defensive shifts, defensive metrics, and over-the-top focus on glove over offensive production. For every Didi Gregorius for Shin-Soo Choo trade, there will be a Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Francisco Lindor on the way who can produce solid offensive numbers while continuing to redefine a position.

Troy Tulowitzki is doing his part in keeping Ernie Banks, Barry Larkin, and Derek Jeter and their production respectable. While Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, and Ozzie Smith get love for their gloves, they couldn’t carry the other’s all-around jockstraps. Give me Troy Tulowitzki and overall production and you can keep your defensive metrics.

Minor League Report – Hot April Prospects

When I search minor league stats, I look for strikeouts and WHIP leaders out of guys with solid frames at pitcher, solid plate discipline, gap power, and speed out of hitters. I am not a scout that can go to games, but I tend to find some pretty interesting talent on numbers alone, and while you can’t judge projection much while just using numbers, players have to produce to move up. Working with numbers alone worked for Billy Beane, right? Here is a list of some players to get to know or keep an eye on based on their production.

Lively
Reds RHP Ben Lively


Ben Lively
, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Not since Tony Cingrani dominated the California League to the tune of a 1.11 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over 10 starts in 2012 have the Reds had a pitcher doing what Lively is doing this season. Since being drafted out of Central Florida last season, the 6’4″ right-hander has done nothing but dominate at each stop. The control is legit and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him jump to Double-A Pensacola in the next couple of weeks, moving him on the fast tracks to the majors, while joining Robert Stephenson as a member of the Blue Wahoo rotation.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 21 -0.1 2 Teams Rk-A 0 4 0.88 13 41.0 23 9 4 0 13 56 0.878 5.0 2.9 12.3 4.31
2013 21 0.0 Billings Rk 0 3 0.73 12 37.0 21 7 3 0 12 49 0.892 5.1 2.9 11.9 4.08
2013 21 -0.8 Dayton A 0 1 2.25 1 4.0 2 2 1 0 1 7 0.750 4.5 2.2 15.8 7.00
2014 22 -1.2 Bakersfield A+ 5 0 0.31 5 29.0 13 1 1 1 1 40 0.483 4.0 0.3 12.4 40.00
2 Seasons 5 4 0.64 18 70.0 36 10 5 1 14 96 0.714 4.6 1.8 12.3 6.86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Matthew Bowman, RHP, New York Mets

Bowman is a Princeton product and, if nothing else, his intelligence could lead to long-term success; however, he seems to have some talen, as well. He is creently dominating Double-A for the Mets and continuing in his ability to keep runners off the base paths at every stop. With his continued ability to throw strikes, the Mets could team Bowman with Rafael Montero in New York to have young, strike-throwing machines within the rotation.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS GF IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 -0.2 Brooklyn A- 2 2 2.45 1 4 29.1 26 9 8 1 2 30 0.955 8.0 9.2 15.00
2013 22 -0.8 2 Teams A+-A 10 4 3.05 21 0 127.0 111 45 43 8 35 116 1.150 7.9 8.2 3.31
2013 22 0.3 Savannah A 4 0 2.64 5 0 30.2 28 9 9 0 4 26 1.043 8.2 7.6 6.50
2013 22 -1.1 St. Lucie A+ 6 4 3.18 16 0 96.1 83 36 34 8 31 90 1.183 7.8 8.4 2.90
2014 23 -1.7 Binghamton AA 3 0 1.04 3 0 17.1 12 2 2 0 5 17 0.981 6.2 8.8 3.40
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Matt Boyd, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

He’s left-handed and breathing, so he will get a long look, but Boyd has posted some pretty impressive numbers in his brief professional career. The strikeout totals are impressive for a southpaw, and it will be interesting to see how quickly the Blue Jays move him considering his collegiate pedigree.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 22 -0.3 2 Teams A-A+ 0 3 2.62 5 24.0 14 7 7 2 4 23 0.750 5.2 1.5 8.6 5.75
2013 22 0.2 Lansing A 0 1 0.64 3 14.0 7 1 1 0 1 12 0.571 4.5 0.6 7.7 12.00
2013 22 -1.1 Dunedin A+ 0 2 5.40 2 10.0 7 6 6 2 3 11 1.000 6.3 2.7 9.9 3.67
2014 23 -0.3 Dunedin A+ 4 0 0.29 5 31.0 18 1 1 1 5 37 0.742 5.2 1.5 10.7 7.40
2 Seasons 4 3 1.31 10 55.0 32 8 8 3 9 60 0.745 5.2 1.5 9.8 6.67
A (1 season) A 0 1 0.64 3 14.0 7 1 1 0 1 12 0.571 4.5 0.6 7.7 12.00
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 4 2 1.54 7 41.0 25 7 7 3 8 48 0.805 5.5 1.8 10.5 6.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

 

Rockies RHP Daniel Winkler
Rockies RHP Daniel Winkler

Daniel Winkler, RHP, Colorado Rockies

Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler get a lot of hype for their abilities, results, and projection within the Rockies’ system, but Winkler continues to post solid strikeout totals and numbers in tough environments on his way up the organizational ladder. His early-season results have been quite impressive once again, as he gets a longer look at Double-A after making just five starts in Tulsa in 2013.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 21 -0.5 Casper Rk 4 3 3.92 12 57.1 64 31 25 6 19 65 1.448 10.0 3.0 10.2 3.42
2012 22 0.4 Asheville A 11 10 4.46 25 145.1 152 80 72 16 47 136 1.369 9.4 2.9 8.4 2.89
2013 23 -0.4 2 Teams A+-AA 13 7 2.98 27 157.0 107 59 52 18 47 175 0.981 6.1 2.7 10.0 3.72
2013 23 -0.2 Modesto A+ 12 5 2.97 22 130.1 84 48 43 15 37 152 0.928 5.8 2.6 10.5 4.11
2013 23 -1.5 Tulsa AA 1 2 3.04 5 26.2 23 11 9 3 10 23 1.238 7.8 3.4 7.8 2.30
2014 24 -0.4 Tulsa AA 3 1 0.90 5 30.0 13 3 3 1 9 33 0.733 3.9 2.7 9.9 3.67
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Seth Streich, RHP, Oakland A’s

A 6’3″ right-hander out of Ohio University, Streich has put up solid numbers in the challenging pitching environment of the California League in the early-going of 2014. Improved strikeout numbers are evident, but, most importantly, he is keeping the ball in the park. With the A’s having to deal with injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them push some of their college arms who are posting solid numbers.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 -0.1 2 Teams A–Rk 4 1 2.65 4 37.1 27 13 11 1 18 48 1.205 6.5 4.3 11.6 2.67
2012 21 0.5 Athletics Rk 0 0 3.38 0 2.2 1 1 1 0 1 6 0.750 3.4 3.4 20.2 6.00
2012 21 -0.2 Vermont A- 4 1 2.60 4 34.2 26 12 10 1 17 42 1.240 6.8 4.4 10.9 2.47
2013 22 0.2 Beloit A 10 6 3.82 21 110.2 114 56 47 2 41 82 1.401 9.3 3.3 6.7 2.00
2014 23 -0.2 Stockton A+ 3 1 2.36 5 26.2 18 7 7 0 7 30 0.938 6.1 2.4 10.1 4.29
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Ryan Merritt, LHP, Cleveland Indians

Merrit’s early-season success is very impressive, particularly the one earned run in 24.1 innings. He doesn’t miss enough bats to be considered an elite prospect within the Tribe system, but if he continues to keep runs off of the board, perhaps he could be a solid back-end of the rotation starter. You could view him as a Tommy Milone-like arm.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 19 -1.9 Indians Rk 0 0 1.08 0 8.1 10 3 1 0 2 10 1.440 10.8 2.2 10.8 5.00
2012 20 -1.2 Mahoning Valley A- 3 4 4.09 14 66.0 82 42 30 3 17 40 1.500 11.2 2.3 5.5 2.35
2013 21 -0.9 2 Teams A-A+ 6 9 3.52 25 135.1 149 67 53 11 19 97 1.241 9.9 1.3 6.5 5.11
2013 21 -0.8 Lake County A 6 9 3.42 23 126.1 142 62 48 10 18 91 1.266 10.1 1.3 6.5 5.06
2013 21 -1.8 Carolina A+ 0 0 5.00 2 9.0 7 5 5 1 1 6 0.889 7.0 1.0 6.0 6.00
2014 22 -0.8 Carolina A+ 3 0 0.37 4 24.1 14 2 1 0 6 18 0.822 5.2 2.2 6.7 3.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Another solid pitching prospect for an absolutely loaded system, Gonzales is a southpaw out of Gonzaga on the fast track to St. Louis. With a lack of left-handed options within the Cardinals’ rotation due to the constant shoulder woes of Jaime Garcia, his selection was a wise choice for the perennial contenders. Gonzales will be a solid addition to the Cardinal rotation, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the youngster end up making a dozen starts in Double-A this season.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 21 -1.4 2 Teams A+-Rk 0 0 2.70 6 23.1 18 8 7 1 8 23 1.114 6.9 3.1 8.9 2.88
2013 21 0.4 Cardinals Rk 0 0 5.40 2 6.2 8 5 4 0 3 10 1.650 10.8 4.0 13.5 3.33
2013 21 -2.1 Palm Beach A+ 0 0 1.62 4 16.2 10 3 3 1 5 13 0.900 5.4 2.7 7.0 2.60
2014 22 -1.3 Palm Beach A+ 1 1 1.90 4 23.2 22 7 5 1 6 23 1.183 8.4 2.3 8.7 3.83
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Stephen Landazuri, RHP, Seattle Mariners

At just 6′, 175 pounds, Landazuri is going to have to overcome the same “too short” labels that have landed upon Roy Oswalt, Johnny Cueto, Kris Medlen, and flame-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura. When he isn’t pitching in a challenging environment (like the Northwest League and the California League), Landazuri has posted very impressive numbers. Now, a younger-than-average starter in Double-A, the righty is striking out more than a batter per inning and keeping the opposition from getting on with just 4.7 hits per nine innings and a 0.65 WHIP after four starts. He’s someone to watch within the Mariners rotation in 2014, as they try to work through injuries to Hashashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2010 18 -2.6 Mariners Rk 1 2 3.60 3 20.0 20 9 8 0 7 11 1.350 9.0 3.2 5.0 1.57
2011 19 -2.1 Everett A- 5 4 4.35 14 72.1 73 39 35 5 29 72 1.410 9.1 3.6 9.0 2.48
2012 20 -1.7 2 Teams A-Rk 3 2 2.89 10 53.0 45 17 17 1 11 44 1.057 7.6 1.9 7.5 4.00
2012 20 -0.5 Mariners Rk 0 0 1.50 3 6.0 7 1 1 0 0 5 1.167 10.5 0.0 7.5
2012 20 -1.8 Clinton A 3 2 3.06 7 47.0 38 16 16 1 11 39 1.043 7.3 2.1 7.5 3.55
2013 21 -2.1 2 Teams A+-A 7 7 4.34 26 128.2 133 78 62 16 40 129 1.345 9.3 2.8 9.0 3.23
2013 21 -0.8 Clinton A 1 0 1.50 3 12.0 8 4 2 0 8 14 1.333 6.0 6.0 10.5 1.75
2013 21 -2.2 High Desert A+ 6 7 4.63 23 116.2 125 74 60 16 32 115 1.346 9.6 2.5 8.9 3.59
2014 22 -2.4 Jackson AA 3 1 1.96 4 23.0 12 7 5 2 3 30 0.652 4.7 1.2 11.7 10.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Chad Pinder, 2B, Oakland A’s

Pinder, a shortstop at Virginia Tech, has moved to second base this season and he has produced solid numbers in the early-going in the hitter-friendly Cal League. His 17 extra-base hits in just 24 games is impressive for anyone, let alone a middle infielder. With Eric Sogard occupying second at the major league level, Pinder could be a viable long-term option for the A’s in the next couple of seasons. Another few weeks of this type of production, and Pinder could be moved to Double-A very quickly.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 0.0 Vermont A- 42 161 140 14 28 4 0 3 8 1 12 41 .200 .286 .293 .579 41
2014 22 -0.7 Stockton A+ 24 108 102 16 33 7 3 7 21 3 5 22 .324 .361 .657 1.018 67
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

 

Rangers 3B Joey Gallo
Rangers 3B Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers

Everyone should already know his name thanks to his 40 home runs at the age of 19 in his first full season. The fact that he is showing some semblance of plate discipline this season while still showcasing his elite-level power makes Gallo one of the top prospects in the minor leagues right now. With so many slugging, elite prospects suffering through injuries this season (Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Javier Baez are all currently disabled), Gallo will shoot up mid-season prospect lists with similar months. His long-term outlook will only beam brighter due to his ballpark and offensive projection for the Rangers.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 -1.9 2 Teams Rk-A- 59 260 206 53 56 12 1 22 52 6 48 78 .272 .412 .660 1.072 136
2012 18 -1.4 Rangers Rk 43 193 150 44 44 10 1 18 43 6 37 52 .293 .435 .733 1.169 110
2012 18 -3.1 Spokane A- 16 67 56 9 12 2 0 4 9 0 11 26 .214 .343 .464 .808 26
2013 19 -2.5 2 Teams A-Rk 111 467 411 86 103 23 5 40 88 15 50 172 .251 .338 .623 .961 256
2013 19 -0.7 Rangers Rk 5 21 19 4 7 4 0 2 10 1 2 7 .368 .429 .895 1.323 17
2013 19 -2.6 Hickory A 106 446 392 82 96 19 5 38 78 14 48 165 .245 .334 .610 .944 239
2014 20 -3.0 Myrtle Beach A+ 24 106 82 24 26 4 2 9 22 0 20 28 .317 .434 .744 1.178 61
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Peter O’Brien, C, New York Yankees

Due to Gary Sanchez being in Double-A, O’Brien was forced to return to the Florida State League, but he hasn’t disappointed, posting solid power numbers in Tampa, though, he is a bit old for the league at this point. O’Brien’s ability to hit for power should make him a decent option for, at least, a backup catching spot. He’d likely have a better career than J.P. Arencibia, who could hit for power and couldn’t walk at the same clip that O’Brien has over his brief career. If he continues to hit like he has, the Yankees may move him off of catcher or use him as trade bait.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 -0.0 2 Teams A–Rk 52 227 212 29 45 10 0 10 34 0 10 62 .212 .256 .401 .656 85
2012 21 1.3 Yankees Rk 4 14 14 2 5 2 0 0 2 0 0 1 .357 .357 .500 .857 7
2012 21 -0.1 Staten Island A- 48 213 198 27 40 8 0 10 32 0 10 61 .202 .249 .394 .643 78
2013 22 -0.3 2 Teams A+-A 119 506 447 78 130 39 4 22 96 0 41 134 .291 .350 .544 .893 243
2013 22 0.4 Charleston A 53 226 194 47 63 22 1 11 41 0 22 58 .325 .394 .619 1.012 120
2013 22 -0.8 Tampa A+ 66 280 253 31 67 17 3 11 55 0 19 76 .265 .314 .486 .800 123
2014 23 0.3 Tampa A+ 24 97 91 16 30 8 1 8 16 0 4 22 .330 .361 .703 1.064 64
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Jonathan Rodriguez, 1B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals

Another solid hitter found by the St. Louis Cardinals scouting department out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Rodriguez has handled the corner infield positions throughout his minor league career, but he has only played first in 2014. With Matt Adams ahead of him, another season of solid production will likely make him trade bait for St. Louis. Solid gap power, a solid approach, and good contact skills will make this right-handed bat a decent platoon player in a worst case scenario.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2009 19 -1.0 2 Teams Rk 54 197 165 21 51 13 1 2 22 4 29 32 .309 .421 .436 .858 72
2009 19 -0.6 Cardinals Rk 30 117 97 12 34 8 1 0 15 3 18 14 .351 .462 .454 .915 44
2009 19 -1.6 Johnson City Rk 24 80 68 9 17 5 0 2 7 1 11 18 .250 .363 .412 .774 28
2010 20 -1.1 Batavia A- 69 280 244 46 63 13 5 12 40 3 28 56 .258 .337 .500 .837 122
2011 21 -0.6 Quad Cities A 118 488 394 67 99 27 0 20 70 4 77 109 .251 .389 .472 .861 186
2012 22 -0.8 Palm Beach A+ 64 248 222 24 56 16 0 6 28 2 22 68 .252 .327 .405 .732 90
2013 23 0.2 Palm Beach A+ 126 523 455 71 129 34 1 18 72 21 60 101 .284 .373 .481 .854 219
2014 24 -0.1 Springfield AA 21 91 78 11 27 9 1 4 15 1 11 17 .346 .418 .641 1.059 50
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Ryan Rua, 3B, Texas Rangers

The Rangers system may not be as loaded as it was in years past due to the failure of so many elite prospects in 2013 in Hickory with their huge strikeout numbers, but Rua can’t be grouped in with those players any longer. He is raking in Double-A now, skipping the High-A level with his assignment this season and his brief promotion last year. There seems to be his continued power with early improvements in his plate discipline, and with Adrian Beltre potentially becoming a free agent after 2015 (he has a $16 million vesting option for 2016), Rua could be Gallo to the hot corner in Texas.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 21 0.7 2 Teams Rk-A- 52 214 188 43 57 12 5 4 37 10 21 40 .303 .376 .484 .860 91
2011 21 0.9 Rangers Rk 45 186 162 41 52 12 5 3 34 10 20 34 .321 .395 .512 .907 83
2011 21 -0.3 Spokane A- 7 28 26 2 5 0 0 1 3 0 1 6 .192 .250 .308 .558 8
2012 22 0.9 Spokane A- 74 320 280 40 82 16 1 7 43 4 29 64 .293 .368 .432 .800 121
2013 23 0.9 2 Teams A-AA 127 525 453 89 112 26 2 32 91 14 56 115 .247 .347 .525 .872 238
2013 23 1.4 Hickory A 104 430 367 70 92 24 1 29 82 13 49 91 .251 .356 .559 .914 205
2013 23 -1.0 Frisco AA 23 95 86 19 20 2 1 3 9 1 7 24 .233 .305 .384 .689 33
2014 24 -0.1 Frisco AA 24 93 81 12 29 6 0 6 15 1 11 13 .358 .441 .654 1.095 53
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox

Betts is already nothing more than trade bait in Boston, given that he profiles as a second baseman and Dustin Pedroia has that spot locked down through 2021. Betts has incredible bat-to-ball skills, tremendous plate discipline, and solid speed. With his early-season production in Double-A at the age of 21, the Red Sox may be able to utilize this chip for an elite addition if they are making another playoff run in 2014.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 18 -2.0 Red Sox Rk 1 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 2
2012 19 -2.1 Lowell A- 71 292 251 34 67 8 1 0 31 20 32 30 .267 .352 .307 .658 77
2013 20 -2.1 2 Teams A-A+ 127 551 462 93 145 36 4 15 65 38 81 57 .314 .417 .506 .923 234
2013 20 -1.6 Greenville A 76 340 277 63 82 24 1 8 26 18 58 40 .296 .418 .477 .895 132
2013 20 -2.8 Salem A+ 51 211 185 30 63 12 3 7 39 20 23 17 .341 .414 .551 .966 102
2014 21 -3.6 Portland AA 22 106 93 30 40 10 1 4 13 10 11 8 .430 .481 .688 1.169 64
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.
Mariners OF Jabari Blash
Mariners OF Jabari Blash

 

Jabari Blash, OF, Seattle Mariners

I love this guy’s name and he has some intriguing tools that could even play in Seattle. His plate discipline isn’t elite, but there is enough there to be , and he has enough power and speed in his 6’5″ frame to be a very good producer, and, after being selected three times in the draft, he must have something in his game to make him an intriguing name to follow.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 20 -0.8 Pulaski Rk 32 127 109 21 29 6 1 5 20 1 13 44 .266 .362 .477 .839 52
2011 21 -0.4 2 Teams A–A 99 391 319 39 84 21 4 14 56 15 66 108 .263 .396 .486 .882 155
2011 21 -0.3 Everett A- 57 229 195 26 57 16 3 11 43 10 28 65 .292 .393 .574 .967 112
2011 21 -0.6 Clinton A 42 162 124 13 27 5 1 3 13 5 38 43 .218 .401 .347 .748 43
2012 22 0.4 Clinton A 113 471 400 71 98 20 5 15 50 13 60 134 .245 .355 .433 .787 173
2013 23 -0.2 2 Teams A+-AA 109 452 380 55 103 19 3 25 74 15 60 113 .271 .381 .534 .915 203
2013 23 0.1 High Desert A+ 80 332 283 42 73 16 3 16 53 14 40 85 .258 .358 .505 .864 143
2013 23 -1.2 Jackson AA 29 120 97 13 30 3 0 9 21 1 20 28 .309 .442 .619 1.060 60
2014 24 -0.6 2 Teams AA-AAA 26 115 89 19 22 6 0 5 20 4 22 25 .247 .400 .483 .883 43
2014 24 -0.5 Jackson AA 25 110 84 19 22 6 0 5 20 4 22 24 .262 .418 .512 .930 43
2014 24 -2.7 Tacoma AAA 1 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

The Hot Stove Has Caught On Fire

It certainly hasn’t taken long for teams to begin dishing out large contracts that they’ll probably regret in a couple of years with free agency well under way. However, the last 24 to 48 hours have supplied the greatest number of gifts, with a lot of examples of “huh”, “why”, “seriously”, and “come again” worthy reactions.

The Trades

The Doug Fister Trade

Detroit Tigers get: 2B Steve Lombardozzi, LHP Ian Krol, and LHP Robbie Ray

Washington Nationals get: RHP Doug Fister

FisterIt has to be called the Doug Fister trade because no one really cares about any of the players that the Tigers got back, right? If this wasn’t a total salary dump, I don’t know what it was, as the “prize” return for the Tigers is Ray, who was a 10th round pick in 2010 and had a 6.56 ERA in 2012 in his first attempt at High-A Potomac before bouncing back and having a solid season between High-A and Double-A in 2013, really doesn’t seem like a tremendous prospect; though, we have been proven wrong by Dave Dombrowski before. After the Tampa Bay Rays received one of the top young prospects in baseball, Wil Myers, in return for two controllable seasons of James Shields, you would think that the Tigers could have received more for Fister, who had managed to post an impressive 32-20 record to go along with a 3.29 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 440.2 innings with Detroit. Fister now joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, and Gio Gonzalez within the Washington rotation, making the Nationals strong contenders for first-year manager Matt Williams in 2014.

Winner: Washington Nationals.

Smelling Fowler

Houston Astros get: CF Dexter Fowler

Colorado Rockies get: RHP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes

Fowler1Fowler seemed to be on the trading block for some time, but he was finally dealt on Tuesday. The Astros get two affordable seasons (two-years, $11.6 million) of Fowler while they wait for George Springer to prove himself ready, or…they just acquired a nicer trade chip than what they gave up. Jordan Lyles may still be just 23 years old, but he hasn’t put it together in 377 major league innings, posting a 5.35 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and a 6.2 K/9, and it seems very unlikely that shifting to Coor’s Field is going to assist his progression to sudden success. Brandon Barnes has some ability, but it isn’t as an everyday player, as his atrocious 127:21 K:BB and .635 OPS over 445 plate appearances goes to show. Barnes could be a fourth outfielder for the Rockies, with Carlos Gonzalez sliding over to center and Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson battling it out for the left field job, or Colorado could look to free agency to upgrade in center. This deal didn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Rockies unless they saw something in Lyles and didn’t feel that Fowler would ever live up to his hot start from 2013, when he posted a 1.032 OPS and then fell off of the face of the earth. Even if Fowler doesn’t live up to those numbers, he is the most valuable piece in the deal.

Winner: Houston Astros.

The Unimpressive Three-Way

Cincinnati Reds get: LHP David Holmberg.

Tampa Bay Rays get: RHP Heath Bell and cash from Arizona, and C Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati.

Arizona Diamondbacks get: RHP Justin Choate and a PTBNL

The Rays are always viewed as a smart club and they were able to land another potential closer after losing Fernando Rodney to free agency, leaving the club with Heath Bell and Juan Carlos Oviedo to battle it out for the gig. On top of that, they received an excellent framing catcher in Hanigan, who has proved to be quite valuable to Cincinnati over the last several years in game-calling, while inking the backstop to a three-year extension upon the completion of the deal. The bad part, though, is that both Bell and Hanigan weren’t very good last season, with Hanigan, in particular, looking like a nightmare offensively, posting a .198/.306/.261 line over 260 plate appearances, leading to the Reds leaning on Brayan Pena, who was signed to a two-year deal earlier this winter, and Devin Mesoraco, the young, power-hitting catcher who will finally get a full-time look in Cincinnati. The Diamondbacks dumped some salary while dealing Bell for a young, breathing body. Choate pitched in the New York-Penn League in 2013 at the age of 22 and he isn’t much of a prospect. The Reds dumped Hanigan, who was arbitration-eligible, while getting a 22-year-old left-handed starter, who posted a 2.75 ERA in 26 Double-A starts in 2013 with a 116:50 K:BB in 157.1 innings. While Holmberg wasn’t as sexy as Tyler Skaggs or Archie Bradley within the Diamondbacks system, he could become a solid back of the rotation arm or a Sean Marshall-like relief pitcher for the Reds. The good news for Cincinnati is that Mesoraco gets his shot and Holmberg adds some near-ready pitching depth after the likely departure of Bronson Arroyo via free agency.

Winner: Everyone looks like a winner here, as the deal worked well for all three teams, but the Rays received the most help in assisting the team win in 2013.

Why Did Beane Make That (Michael) Choice?

Texas Rangers get: OF Michael Choice and 2B Chris Bostick

Oakland A’s get: OF Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindblom

ChoiceThis seemed like an odd deal for Oakland and GM Billy Beane, as Gentry is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and Lindblom has been pretty terrible since being traded from the Dodgers to the Phillies in the 2012 Shane Victorino deal, as he has posted a 5.10 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 54.2 innings since leaving Los Angeles (2.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 77.1 innings prior to the trade). Maybe a return to the west coast is what Lindblom needs to be a useful reliever, but by getting the elite defensive skills and increasing salary of the light-hitting (.280/.355/.366 in 763 plate appearances), 29-year-old Gentry, and giving up the potential that still exists in the bat of Michael Choice, who is 24 and isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2017, Beane showed that he may be looking beyond three years from now and that he could be putting the A’s in win-now mode. Bostick is a nice second base prospect, having posted a .282/.354/.452 line over 555 plate appearances as a 20-year-old in Low-A in 2013, but the Rangers have quite a few young, up-the-middle prospects (Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar, and Luis Sardinas) and they don’t seem to have a need there, while the A’s have run Jemile Weeks out of town in a trade with Baltimore and Eric Sogard was very…meh…in 2013 at the major league level. Winning now is important, but it doesn’t seem like the A’s really acquired anyone who can really help them in 2014 to get over the hump.

Winner: Texas Rangers.

The Free Agent Splashes

The Yankees Spend Like Crazy…Again.

Who They Signed: C Brian McCann (five-years, $85 million); OF Jacoby Ellsbury (seven-years, $153 million);

McCannWhy It Matters: Notice that the Yankees have committed nearly $240 million after having been rumored to be on a mission to avoid the $189 million threshold of the payroll luxury tax, while not having signed their All-Star second baseman, Robinson Cano, just yet. And, don’t forget, the team is rumored to be interested in signing Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who could be had at a lesser amount after the posting fee was limited to a maximum $20 million bid on Wednesday. McCann is a huge upgrade over the combined .213/.289/.298 triple slash that Yankees’ catchers posted in 2013, while Ellsbury provides great defense and speed as the Yankees try to move on from all of the injuries that suffocated their success this past season. Even if the Yankees are done with the big name signings, including Cano, they should be a better team in 2014.

Twinkies Filled Their Rotation

Who Minnesota Signed: RHP Phil Hughes (three-year, $24 million); RHP Ricky Nolasco (four-year, $49 million);

Why It Matters: The Twins starting pitchers posted a 5.26 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 2013, worst in the majors, and the ERA was a whopping 0.45 points higher than the Toronto Blue Jays’ starters (4.81), who finished 29th. Hughes still has youth and potential, but he needs to start tapping into that potential after posting a horrific 5.19 ERA over 29 starts and 145.2 innings. Shockingly, Hughes’ numbers would have made him a solid number three starter for the Twins in 2013…they were that bad. Adding Nolasco was special, but he isn’t an ace. He will likely be the Twins’ Opening Day starter in 2014 by default and he should make the rotation slightly better; although, it couldn’t get much worse.

Kazmir Rejuvenates and Cashes In Athletically

Who Oakland Signed: LHP Scott Kazmir (two-year, $22 million)

Why It Matters: Signing Kazmir to a lucrative contract could lead to another movie about the Oakland A’s after the success of Moneyball. While Kazmir’s resurgence was quite surprising, an eight-figure deal, after making all of one total appearance in the majors in 2011 and 2012 due to severe shoulder woes, was even more surprising. Possessing a mid-90’s fastball and a left arm appears to be all that it took to find a big deal. Kazmir’s story is worthy of attention and praise, but it is a story that needs to be monitored to see if he can maintain the same success in Oakland over the next two seasons. His presence will allow the A’s and Beane to shop LHP Brett Anderson at the winter meetings next week, which could net the club some additional win-now resources.

The Tigers No Longer on the Prowl for a Closer

Who Detroit Signed: RHP Joe Nathan (two-year, $20 million)

Why It Matters: Detroit needed a lockdown closer after shuffling through Jose Valverde, Phil Coke, Jose Veras, and Bruce Rondon at closer before Joaquin Benoit took over and did a nice job over the rest of the season. They got their man after signing Joe Nathan away from the Texas Rangers. Nathan closed 80 games out the last two seasons, while posting a 2.09 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, and at 38 years of age, he doesn’t look to be slowing down after missing the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery. After dealing Prince Fielder to improve at second base with Ian Kinsler, moving Miguel Cabrera back to first, and plugging Drew Smyly into the rotation (after dealing Fister), the Tigers will have a completely new look in 2014. With their strong rotation, Nathan’s shutdown ability makes them quite dangerous.

Fish Hook Their Catcher and the Red Sox Snag Another

Who Miami Signed: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (three-year, $21 million)

Who Boston Signed: C A.J. Pierzynski (one-year, $8.25 million)

Why It Matters: With a lot of focus heading towards catcher defense and framing, highlighted by the Rays commitments to Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan this winter, other clubs continue to look towards offensive-minded catchers, and the Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox locked down their backstops this week. The Marlins seem to have very little hope for a quick turnaround and Saltalamacchia isn’t going to be the other piece to help Giancarlo Stanton and Miami to an NL East title, but it is a start…as long as they don’t trade him before the 2014 season starts. Pierzynski will be on his fifth organization and, despite being hated by some of his competition, he could be a tremendous asset to the character and chemistry that existed within the Boston World Series clubhouse. I guess he is better to have on your team than to play against him.