Best places to watch elite prospects.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Thursday is Opening Day for the minor leagues, and final rosters have been appearing online over the last 24 hours. Christopher Crawford has compiled lists showing where the top 10 prospects in each organization have been assigned, and here I'll highlight six rosters in particular that are loaded with top prospects or other guys I'd gladly travel to go watch.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals, high Class A)
Top 100 prospects: SS Raul Mondesi Jr., RHP Miguel Almonte
Former top 100 guys: OF Bubba Starling
First-round picks: IF Hunter Dozier (2013), LHP Sean Manaea (2013), Starling (2011)
Other prospects of note: RHP Aroni Nina, C Zane Evans, C Cam Gallagher, RHP Christian Binford
I may be biased, but the team in my own backyard might just be the most loaded roster in all of minor league baseball. The Blue Rocks begin the season with two top-100 prospects, including the Royals' top three position player prospects and two of their top three arms after the injured Kyle Zimmer.
The rotation should be very strong with power from Almonte, deception (and a pretty good slider) from Manaea, and command from Binford. They'll have lots of athleticism up the middle, including former two-way player Evans, who also pitched at Georgia Tech, but will have to share catching duties with Gallagher, the Royals' second-round pick from 2011. Starling is the man under the microscope, however, coming off a lousy 2013 season in which the scouting reports were even more negative than the stat line.
Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros, high Class A)
Top 100 prospects: SS Carlos Correa, RHP Mark Appel, RHP Vincent Velasquez
First-round picks: Appel (2013), Correa (2012)
Other prospects of note: RHP Lance McCullers Jr., 3B Rio Ruiz, RHP Kyle Smith, LHP Josh Hader, OF Teoscar Hernandez, OF Danry Vasquez
The Astros' system is the strongest of all 30 teams, which means they've got a good bit of talent on all four of their full-season affiliates, with Triple-A Oklahoma City also boasting a very strong roster.
The Lancaster team is the best in the California League, with two of the top dozen prospects in the minors in Correa and Appel, both of whom acquitted themselves well in major league spring training. Correa, Appel, McCullers, Ruiz and Velasquez racked up more than $16 million in bonuses when they signed their first pro contracts, and so far all have performed at or above initial expectations.
The club is also a repository for the products of some of the Astros' trades last summer, with Smith (Royals), Hader (Orioles) and Vasquez (Tigers) all coming in from other organizations. The rotation should be very strong for as long as the Astros choose to leave their pitchers in such a hitter-friendly environment -- Appel, McCullers, Velasquez, Smith and Hader bring a good mix of power and control and the quintet likely includes at least three big league starters.
If watching 20-run games in the Cal League isn't your thing, but you want to watch future Astros, the Oklahoma City club will start the year with George Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Mike Foltynewicz, all top-100 prospects, as well as catcher Max Stassi, right-handed reliever Nick Tropeano and outfielder Domingo Santana.
West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates, low Class A)
Top 100 prospects: Austin Meadows
First-round picks: Meadows (2013), C Reese McGuire (2013)
Other prospects of note: OF Harold Ramirez, RHP Luis Heredia, C Wyatt Mathisen, IF JaCoby Jones, OF Barrett Barnes, LHP Cody Dickson
The Power are one of several prospect-laden clubs in the low-A Sally League -- Charleston, the Yankees' low-A affiliate, is also very strong -- with an intruiging mix of prospects, three top guys and a number of high-beta prospects who are in prove-it years.
Meadows and McGuire were the team's two first-round picks from last year, with the extra pick coming because the team couldn't sign Appel in 2012, and both look like at least everyday big leaguers with a chance to be much more. Ramirez, born in Colombia and signed for just over $1 million, fits into the same category, less explosive than Meadows but with a very advanced feel to hit for his age (19) and experience level.
In the latter group are guys coming off injuries, Mathisen and Barnes; the college draftees who underperformed at school but have better tools than their stats showed, Jones and Dickson; and Heredia, the $2.6 million bonus baby signed out of Mexico in 2010, but whose body and stuff haven't progressed as hoped. The Pirates have plenty of talent at higher levels, too; their high-A Bradenton affiliate will feature top pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Josh Bell.
Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox, Double-A)
Top 100 prospects: Henry Owens, Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts
First-round picks: Swihart (2011), SS Deven Marrero (2012)
Other prospects of note: 2B Sean Coyle, 1B Travis Shaw, OF Keury de la Cruz, LHP Miguel Pena
The Red Sox's system is strong top to bottom, but they've spread their prospects out enough that a fan hoping to see their top 10-15 guys will have to put some miles on his or her car to get it done.
Portland gets the edge for me as Boston's most prospect-laden club, edging out Pawtucket, which has four of the team's top 10 prospects but also a lot of journeymen filling out the roster. The Sea Dogs have three of the team's top 10 in Owens, Swihart and Betts, and most nights the infield will be loaded with guys who are young enough and talented enough to be worth watching; even infielder Derrik Gibson, an off-the-charts athlete who's never filled out or added enough strength to hit quality pitching, is on the bench and will probably be the backup infielder.
Shaw is a bounce-back candidate, a bat-only guy with feel to hit and above-average power. The rotation is the weak spot -- after Owens, Pena is the only other pitcher young enough to call him a serious prospect, and he's probably a reliever, if anything, down the road.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers, high Class A)
Top 100 prospects: C Jorge Alfaro
Former top 100 guys: RHP Cody Buckel
First-round picks: RHP Alex Gonzalez (2013)
Other prospects of note: 3B Joey Gallo, OF Nomar Mazara, 2B Chris Bostick, OF Nick Williams, RHP Keone Kela, LHP Victor Payano
Wilmington has some competition for the best roster in the Carolina League -- and it comes from the team the Blue Rocks host in their home opener Tuesday.
While Myrtle Beach has just one top-100 guy right now in Colombian catcher Alfaro, who has a plus-plus arm with plus-plus power and minus-minus patience at the plate, it's loaded with guys who could become top-100 guys in a year or so, depending on their development.
Gallo, a third baseman with similar skills to Alfaro's -- 80 grade power, 80 arm, but a lot of swinging and missing even at pitches in the zone -- will face a new challenge in Myrtle Beach, which is a severe pitchers' park. Kela sits 99-100 in relief with a plus slider and could move very quickly through the minors depending on his ability to repeat his delivery and his fastball command.
Buckel, who missed all of 2013 while battling the yips (aka Steve Blass Disease), is listed on the team's roster as “active” right now, although I'll believe that when I see him throw a complete inning -- the list of pitchers who've had that malady and recovered is quite short, and there's usually a surgery involved in there somewhere.
One surprise: Center fielder Lewis Brinson, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2012, will repeat low-A Hickory to start the year rather than moving up to Myrtle Beach.
Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs, Double-A)
Top 100 prospects: 3B Kris Bryant, OF Jorge Soler, RHP C.J. Edwards
First-round picks: Bryant (2013)
Other prospects of note: RHP Pierce Johnson, RHP Corey Black, RHP Armando Rivero, OF Zeke DeVoss, 2B Stephen Bruno
Two big bats and a bunch of arms, including one of the better rotations of any minor league club with Edwards (acquired in the Matt Garza deal last summer), Johnson (former second-round pick), and Black (acquired in the Alfonso Soriano deal, also last summer) leading it off.
Bryant and Soler are the main attractions, of course, both big-time power guys, Bryant the more advanced hitter, Soler the more explosive at the plate but without Bryant's great work ethic. Rivero, a Cuban defector, signed last spring but barely pitched in three brief stops last summer, so this year will give everyone a better idea of what kind of prospect he might be.
Bruno's a bat-first second baseman coming off Tommy John surgery that ended his season in May 2013, and DeVoss is at least interesting for his speed and high walk rates, although it would be great if he could hit a little more. Those guys are secondary attractions, though, as the rotation and the two thumpers are reason enough to make the trip.
Assignments for Law's top prospects.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
With the help of Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider, we have compiled the minor league assignments for all prospects in Keith Law's organizational top 10 rankings.
Law's prospect rankings
Farm system rankings
HOU No. 1 Insider | MIN close Video | Luhnow
Top 100 prospects
No. 1-50 Insider | 51-100 Insider | Law chat
AL top 10s by team
East Insider | Central Insider | West Insider
NL top 10s by team
East Insider | Central Insider | West Insider
Breakout prospects: AL Video | NL Video
Due to injuries and late assignments, some minor league rosters are not yet official. In those instances, we took our best guess as to where those prospects will be assigned to begin the year.
Note: Players with an asterisk have been traded since the top-10 lists came out, and they are listed with their assignment for their new club. There are two such cases: Drew Vettleson, listed with the Rays, is now with the Nationals, and Nate Karns, listed with the Nationals, is now with the Rays.
When it says "extended" next to a player's name, that means he is in extended spring training.
American League National League
1. Kevin Gausman, RHP (Norfolk-AAA)
2. Dylan Bundy, RHP (Extended)
3. Hunter Harvey, RHP (Delmarva-Low A)
4. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (Bowie-AA)
5. Jonathan Schoop, 2B/3B (MLB)
6. Mike Wright, RHP (Norfolk-AAA)
7. Chance Sisco, C (Delmarva-Low A)
8. Josh Hart, OF (Delmarva-Low A)
9. Adrian Marin, SS (Frederick-High A)
10. Tim Berry, LHP (Bowie-AA)
1. Archie Bradley, RHP (Reno-AAA)
2. Braden Shipley, RHP (South Bend-Low A)
3. Chris Owings, SS (MLB)
4. Stryker Trahan, OF (South Bend-Low A)
5. Aaron Blair, RHP (South Bend-Low A)
6. Brandon Drury, 3B/1B (Visalia-High A)
7. Jake Lamb, 3B (Mobile-AA)
8. Jose Martinez, RHP (Extended)
9. Felipe Perez, RHP (South Bend-Low A)
10. Sergio Alcantara, SS (Extended)
Boston Red Sox
1. Xander Bogaerts, SS (MLB)
2. Henry Owens, LHP (Portland-AA)
3. Jackie Bradley, Jr., (MLB)
4. Garin Cecchini, 3B (Pawtucket, AAA)
5. Blake Swihart, C (Portland-AA)
6. Mookie Betts, 2B (Portland-AA)
7. Matt Barnes, RHP (Pawtucket-AAA)
8. Allen Webster, RHP (Pawtucket-AAA)
9. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP (Pawtucket-AAA)
10. Trey Ball, LHP (Extended)
1. Lucas Sims, RHP (Lynchburg-High A)
2. Christian Bethancourt, C (Gwinnett-AAA)
3. Jose Peraza, SS (Lynchburg-High-A)
4. Mauricio Cabrera, RHP (Lynchburg-High A)
5. Wes Parsons, RHP (Lynchburg-High A)
6. Jason Hursh, RHP (Lynchburg-High A)
7. Victor Caratini, C/3B (Rome-A)
8. J.R. Graham, RHP (Gwinnett-AAA)
9. Tommy La Stella, 2B (Gwinnett-AAA)
10. Ian Thomas, LHP (MLB)
Chicago White Sox
1. Erik Johnson, RHP (MLB)
2. Matt Davidson, 3B (Charlotte-AAA)
3. Tim Anderson, SS (Winston/S-High A)
4. Courtney Hawkins, OF (Winston/S-High A)
5. Micah Johnson, 2B (Birmingham-AA)
6. Marcus Semien, IF (MLB)
7. Trayce Thompson, OF (Birmingham-AA)
8. Chris Beck, RHP (Birmingham-AA)
9. Andrew Mitchell, RHP (Kannapolis-Low A)
10. Jacob May, OF (Winston/S-High A)
1. Javier Baez, SS (Iowa-AAA)
2. Kris Bryant, 3B (Tennessee-AA)
3. Jorge Soler, OF (Tennessee-AA)
4. Albert Almora, OF (Daytona-High A)
5. C.J. Edwards, RHP (Tennessee, AA)
6. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B (Iowa, AAA)
7. Pierce Johnson, RHP (Tennessee-AA)
8. Jeimer Candelario, 3B (Daytona-High A)
9. Corey Black, RHP (Tennessee-AA)
10. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (Iowa-AAA)
1. Francisco Lindor, SS (Akron-AA)
2. Clint Frazier, OF (Extended)
3. Dorsyss Paulino, SS (Lake County-Low A)
4. Trevor Bauer, RHP (Columbus-AAA)
5. Cody Anderson, RHP (Akron-AA)
6. Jose Ramirez, 2B (Columbus-AAA)
7. Tyler Naquin, OF (Akron-AA)
8. Tony Wolters, C (Akron-AA)
9. Mitch Brown, RHP (Lake County-Low A)
10. Carlos Moncrief, OF (Columbus-AAA)
1. Robert Stephenson, RHP (Pensacola-AA)
2. Billy Hamilton, OF (MLB)
3. Phil Ervin, OF (Dayton-Low A)
4. Jesse Winker, OF (Bakersfield-High A)
5. Yorman Rodriguez, OF (Louisville-AAA)
6. Michael Lorenzen, RHP (Pensacola-AA)
7. Nick Travieso, RHP (Dayton-Low A)
8. Daniel Corcino, RHP (Pensacola-AA)
9. Chad Rogers, OF (Louisville-AAA)
10. Jackson Stephens, RHP (Dayton-Low A)
1. Nick Castellanos, 3B (MLB)
2. Daniel Fields, OF (Toledo-AAA)
3. Robbie Ray, LHP (Toledo-AAA)
4. J. Crawford, RHP (West Michigan-Low A)
5. Jake Thompson, RHP (Lakeland-High A)
6. James McCann, C (Toledo-AAA)
7. Tyler Collins, CF (MLB)
8. Cory Knebel, RHP (Erie-AA)
9. E. Briceno, RHP (West Michigan-Low A)
10. Eugenio Suarez, SS (Erie-AA)
1. Jonathan Gray, RHP (Tulsa-AA)
2. Eddie Butler, RHP (Tulsa-AA)
3. David Dahl, OF (Ashville-Low A)
4. Rossell Herrera, SS (Modesto-High A)
5. Raimel Tapia, OF (Ashville-Low A)
6. Tom Murphy, C (Tulsa-AA)
7. Trevor Story, SS (Modesto-High A)
8. Kyler Parker, 1B (Colorado Springs-AAA)
9. Ryan McMahon, 3B (Ashville-Low A)
10. Tyler Matzek, LHP (Colorado Springs-AAA)
1. Carlos Correa, SS (Lancaster-High A)
2. Mark Appel, RHP (Lancaster-High A)
3. George Springer, OF (Okl. City-AAA)
4. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP (Ok.City-AAA)
5. Jonathan Singleton, 1B (Ok. City-AAA)
6. D. DeShields Jr., OF (Corpus Christi-AA)
7. V. Velasquez, RHP (Lancaster-High A)
8. L. McCullers Jr., RHP (Lancaster-High A)
9. Rio Ruiz, 3B (Lancaster-High A)
10. Michael Feliz, RHP (Quad Cities-Low A)
1. Andrew Heaney, LHP (Jacksonville-AA)
2. Colin Moran, 3B (Jupiter-High A)
3. Jake Marisnick, 3B (New Orleans-AAA)
4. Justin Nicholino, LHP (Jacksonville-AA)
5. Trevor Williams, RHP (Jupiter-High A)
6. Anthony Descalfani, RHP (Jacksonville-AA)
7. Brian Flynn, LHP (New Orleans-AAA)
8. Jose Urena, RHP (Jacksonville-AA)
9. J.T. Realmuto, C (Jacksonville-AA)
10. Avery Romero, 2B (Greensboro-LowA)
Kansas City Royals
1. Kyle Zimmer, RHP (Injured, TBD)
2. Raul Mondesi, SS (Wilmington-High A)
3. Yordano Ventura, RHP (MLB)
4. Miguel Almonte, RHP (Wilmington-High A)
5. Bubba Starling, OF (Wilmington-High A)
6. Hunter Dozier, 3B (Wilmington-High A)
7. Sean Manaea, LHP (Wilmington-High A)
8. Jorge Bonifacio, RHP (NW Arkansas, AA)
9. Orlando Calixte, SS (Extended)
10. Jason Adam, RHP (NW Arkansas-AA)
Los Angeles Dodgers
1. Julio Urias, LHP (R. Cucamonga-High A)
2. Corey Seager, SS (R. Cucamonga-High A)
3. Joc Pederson, OF (Albuquerque-AAA)
4. Zach Lee, RHP (Albuquerque-AAA)
5. Chris Anderson, RHP (R. Cucamonga-High A)
6. Jesmuel Valentin, SS (Great Lakes-Low A)
7. Tom Windle, LHP (Rancho Cucamonga-High A)
8. Ross Stripling, RHP (Out for season)
9. Josh Lindblom, RHP (MLB)
10. Kyle Farmer, C (Great Lakes-Low A)
Los Angeles Angels
1. Kaleb Cowart, 3B (Arkansas-AA)
2. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP (Extended)
3. Taylor Lindsey, 2B (Salt Lake-AAA)
4. Mark Sappington, RHP (Arkansas-AA)
5. Jose Rondon, SS (Burlington-Low A)
6. Kaleb Cowart, 3B (Cedar Rapids-Low A)
7. C.J. Cron, 1B (Salt Lake-AAA)
8. Mike Morin, RHP (Arkansas-AA)
9. R.J. Alvarez, RHP (Arkansas-AA)
10. Alex Yarbrough, 2B (Arkansas-AA)
1. Tyrone Taylor, OF (Brevard County-High A)
2. Devin Williams, RHP (Extended)>
3. Nick Delmonico, 3B/1B (Huntsville-AA)
4. Michael Reed,OF (Brevard County-High A)
5. John Hellweg, RHP (Nashville-AAA)
6. Jimmy Nelson, RHP (Nashville-AAA)
7. Mitch Haniger, OF (Hunstville-AA)
8. Orlando Arcia, SS (Brevard County-High A)
9. Victor Roache, OF (Brevard-High A)
10. Hunter Morris, 1B (Nashville, AAA)
1. Byron Buxton, OF (New Britain-AA)
2. Miguel Sano, 3B (Out for season)
3. Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF (Suspended)
4. Alex Meyer, RHP (Rochester-AAA)
5. Kohl Stewart, RHP (Cedar Rapids-Low A)
6. Jose Berrios, RHP (Fort Myers-High A)
7. Max Kepler, OF (Fort Meyers-High A)
8. Josmil Pinto, C (MLB)
9. Lewis Thorpe, LHP (Cedar Rapids-Low A)
10. Jorge Polanco, SS (Ft. Meyers-High A)
New York Mets
1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP (Las Vegas-AAA)
2. Travis d'Arnaud, C (MLB )
3. Dominic Smith, 1B (Savannah-Low A)
4. Rafael Montero, RHP (Las Vegas-AAA)
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF (St. Lucie, High-A)
6. Kevin Plawecki, C (Binghamton-AA)
7. Dilson Herrera, 2B (St. Lucie-High A)
8. Wilmer Flores, IF (Las Vegas-AAA)
9. Cesar Puello, OF (Las Vegas-AAA)
10. Amed Rosario, SS (Extended)
New York Yankees
1. Gary Sanchez, C (Trenton-AA)
2. Tyler Austin, OF (Extended)
3. Mason Williams, OF (Trenton-AA)
4. Jon Ryan Murphy, C (Scranton-AAA)
5. Slade Heathcott, OF (Extended)
6. Aaron Judge, OF (Charleston-Low A)
7. Ian Clarkin, LHP (Extended)
8. Eric Jagielo, 3B (Tampa-High A)
9. Luis Severino, RHP (Charleston-Low A)
10. Greg Bird, 1B (Extended)
1. J.P. Crawford, SS (Lakewood-Low A)
2. Maikel Franco, 3B/1B (Lehigh Valley-AAA)
3. Jesse Biddle, LHP (Reading-AA)
4. Kelly Dugan, OF (Reading-AA)
5. Severino Gonzalez, RHP (Reading-AA)
6. Cord Sandberg, OF (Extended)
7. Roman Quinn, SS (Injured-TBD)
8. Andrew Knapp, C (Injured-TBD)
9. Carlos Tocci, OF (Lakewood-Low A)
10. Devi Grullon, C (Lakewood-Low A)
1. Addison Russell, SS (Midland-AA)
2. Billy McKinney, OF (Beloit-Low A)
3. Daniel Robertson, SS (Stockton-High A)
4. Chris Kohler, LHP (Beloit-Low A)
5. Raul Alcantara, RHP (Midland-AA)
6. Bobby Wahl, RHP (Beloit-Low A)
7. Billy Burns, OF (Midland-AA)
8. Matt Olson, 1B (Stockton-High A)
9. Dylan Covey, RHP (Beloit-Low A)
10. Max Muncy, 1B (Midland-AA)
1. Gregory Polanco, OF (Indianapolis-AAA)
2. Tyler Glasnow, RHP (Bradenton-High A)
3. Jameson Taillon, RHP (Indianapolis-AAA)
4. Austin Meadows, OF (West Virginia-Low A)
5. Nick Kingham, RHP (Altoona-AA)
6. Alen Hanson, SS (Altoona-AA)
7. Josh Bell, OF (Bradenton-High A)
8. Reese McGuire, C (West Virginia-Low A)
9. Harold Ramirez, OF (West Virginia-Low A)
10. Luis Heredia, LHP (West Virginia-Low A)
1. Taijuan Walker, RHP (MLB-Disabled list)
2. D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B (High Desert-High A)
3. Austin Wilson, OF (Clinton-Low A)
4. James Paxton, LHP (MLB)
5. Tyler Pike, LHP (High Desert-High A)
6. Victor Sanchez, RHP (Jackson-AA)
7. Edwin Diaz, RHP (Clinton-Low A)
8. Luiz Gohara, LHP (Clinton-A)
9. Tyler Marlette, C (High Desert)
10. Gabriel Guerrero, OF (Clinton-Low A)
St. Louis Cardinals
1. Oscar Taveras, OF (Memphis-AAA)
2. Stephen Piscotty, OF (Memphis-AAA)
3. Kolten Wong, 2B (MLB)
4. Rob Kaminsky, LHP (Extended)
5. Tim Cooney, LHP (Memphis-AAA)
6. Marco Gonzalez, LHP (Palm Beach-High A)
7. Carson Kelly, C (Peoria-Low A)
8. Alex Reyes, RHP (Peoria-Low A)
9. James Ramsey, OF (Springfield-AA)
10. Chris Rivera, SS/2B (Extended)
Tampa Bay Rays
1. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP (Injured-TBD)
2. Hak-Ju Lee, SS (Durham-AAA)
3. Nick Ciuffo, C (Extended)
4. Alex Colome, RHP (Suspended)
5. Enny Romero, LHP (Durham-AAA)
6. Ryne Stanek, RHP (Injured-TBD)
7. Jake Odorizzi, RHP (MLB)
8. Drew Vettleson, OF (Harrisburg-AA*)
9. O. Hernandez, C (Bowling Green-Low A)
10. Jose Mujica, RHP (Extended)
San Diego Padres
1. Austin Hedges, C (San Antonio-AA)
2. Matt Wisler, RHP (San Antonio-AA)
3. Max Fried, LHP (Extended)
4. Hunter Renfroe, OF (Lake Elsinore-High A)
5. Casey Kelly, RHP (Injured-TBD)
6. Dustin Peterson, SS (Ft. Wayne-Low A)
7. Joe Ross, RHP (Lake Elsinore-High A)
8. Zach Eflin, RHP (Lake Elsinore-High A)
9. Andrew Lockett, RHP (Ft. Wayne-Low A)
10. Rymer Liriano, OF (San Antonio-AA)
1. Jorge Alfaro, C (Myrtle Beach-High A)
2. Rougned Odor, 2B (Frisco-AA)
3. Alex Gonzalez, RHP (Myrtle Beach-High A)
4. Lewis Brinson, OF (Hickory-Low A)
5. Joey Gallo, 3B (Myrtle Beach-High A)
6. Chris Bostick, 2B (Myrtle Beach-High A)
7. Michael Choice, OF (MLB)
8. Nick Williams, OF (Myrtle Beach-High A)
9. Nomar Mazara, OF (Myrtle Beach-High A)
10. Luis Sardinas, SS (Frisco-AA)
San Francisco Giants
1. Kyle Crick, RHP (Richmond-AA)
2. Andrew Susac, C (Fresno-AAA)
3. Edwin Escobar, LHP (Fresno-AAA)
4. Clayton Blackburn, RHP (Richmond-AA)
5. Adalberto Mejia, RHP (Richmond-AA)
6. Christian Arroyo, IF (Augusta-Low A)
7. Joan Gregorio, RHP (San Jose-High A)
8. Mac Williamson, OF (San Jose-High A)
9. Ty Blach, LHP (Richmond-AA)
10. Gary Brown, OF (Fresno-AAA)
Toronto Blue Jays
1. Aaron Sanchez, RHP (New Hampshire-AA)
2. Marcus Stroman, RHP (Buffalo-AAA)
3. Roberto Osuna, RHP (Injured-TBD)
4. Daniel Norris, LHP (Dunedin-High A)
5. Adonis Cardona, RHP (Lansing-Low A)
6. Jairo Labourt, RHP (Lansing-Low A)
7. Alberto Tirado, RHP (Lansing-Low A)
8. Franklin Barreto, SS (Extended)
9. Dawel Lugo, SS (Lansing-Low A)
10. D.J. Davis, OF (Lansing-Low A)
1. Luc Giolito, RHP (Hagerstown-Low-A)
2. A.J. Cole, RHP (Harrisburg-AA)
3. Brian Goodwin, OF (Syracuse-AAA)
4. Nate Karns, RHP (Durham-AAA*)
5. Sammy Solis, LHP (Injured-TBD)
6. Pedro Severino, C (Potomac-High A)
7. Jefry Rodriguez, RHP (Extended)
8. Jake Johansen, RHP (Hagerstown-Low A)
9. Michael Taylor, OF (Harrisburg-AA)
10.Steven Souza, OF (Syracuse-AAA)
The mystery of protecting pitchers.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Pirates' Jameson Taillon, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, is the latest to go through the process of having his elbow checked. The Mets, who have been models of restraint in the handling of their young pitchers, announced that closer Bobby Parnell has a partially torn elbow ligament.
From Tim Rohan’s story:
The Mets are often asked what reasons they have to be optimistic. Lately, their unequivocal response has been starting pitching. It is their obvious strength, now and for the future. They consider Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero precious assets. The Mets plan to be cautious with them, bring them along at the right pace and eventually ride them to relevance.
Much depends on how the Mets develop these promising pitchers.
That was why it seemed particularly concerning when the Mets announced Tuesday that Bobby Parnell, their closer, had a partly torn ulnar collateral ligament. Parnell will try rehabilitation to avoid Tommy John surgery, but if he has the operation, he will be the third Mets pitcher to have it in about nine months, following Jeremy Hefner and Harvey. Jenrry Mejia had it in 2011.
Every case is different, but general manager Sandy Alderson indicated that the Mets would review how they handled pitchers and their rehabilitation programs. He called the pitching injuries an "industrywide problem." Several top-flight pitchers had the operation during spring training this year, including the Atlanta Braves' Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, who each had it for a second time.
"It's something we constantly look at," Alderson said Wednesday. "But I don't think we have -- or the industry has -- any solid answers. That’s for sure."
Alderson speaks the essential truth: The industry has been trying to find solid answers and they don’t have much to show for it. They’ve been constructing pitch counts and innings limits and adhering to them closely, doing everything they can to develop pitchers while protecting them at the same time, and pitchers continue to break down.
With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it's possible that the constricted pitch counts have made little to no difference. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s possible that the innings limits have made little to no difference.
The one conclusion that a lot of general managers have reached is that there is no one-size-fits-all set of rules, no magic formula. One hundred seventy innings for Matt Harvey is not the same as 170 innings for Kris Medlen, or Chris Sale.
A general manager noted that in the season Sale was drafted, in 2010, his team passed on Sale -- as many teams did -- because his unusual, herky-jerky mechanics were a clear indication that Sale could be headed for an arm injury. As the White Sox drafted Sale, they initially used him as a short reliever.
But Sale won the right to transition into a starting pitcher, and now he's one of the best in the big leagues. "There's so much we don’t know," the GM conceded.
In a meeting in another organization last summer, one executive says that the conversation turned to prescribed innings limits. "If anybody says they know what the right number is," the executive said to his staff, "he's lying."
The number that teams have focused on increasingly is six. That's the number of years that a team can control a pitcher, and given the unknown about predicting injuries and protecting pitchers and assessing risk, more and more teams are reaching the conclusion that they should just use pitchers when they have them, short of abusing them. Because every pitcher is different, physiologically and psychologically and structurally and mechanically.
The Holy Grail for protecting pitchers may simply not exist.
• Meanwhile: Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt wonders if the Australia trip contributed to the injuries of pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson, as Dylan Hernandez writes.
From his story:
Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt wasn't as certain the condensed camp was responsible, but he didn't rule out the possibility, either.
"There's no way anybody could," Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt was critical of how little time his pitchers were given to prepare for the season. As it was, the Dodgers had a shorter offseason than usual because they played into October. Of the Dodgers' early-season and spring schedules, he said, "I don't think enough thought's been put in that process."
Honeycutt, who was pulled aside by a Dodgers public relations manager before speaking to reporters, made it a point to say of the Australia trip and Kershaw's injury, "I hope there's no correlation. I'm not saying that's the reason."
However, he later said, "I just feel like you always put health in front of the situation."
Honeycutt said that he would have liked his starting pitchers to pitch in a minimum of five spring training games. Kershaw pitched in four.
Kershaw wouldn't speculate what led to his injury.
"You can look back on a lot of different things and second-guess, but at the end of the day, it happened, so I'm trying to not to think about what you could have done better because I felt I was as prepared as I possibly could be for the season," Kershaw said. "I felt great all spring training. It's just one of those things."
This is something for the Dodgers to think about, for Major League Baseball to think about, and, in particular, for the players' association to think about. Because the overseas trips cannot happen without the union's approval.
Around the league
• Jonathan Papelbon coughed up a lead and looked awful.
From Matt Gelb’s story:
The $50 million closer stared skyward and abandoned the field as Texas once again danced on the infield. It was a complete meltdown. Papelbon faced eight batters. Seven reached base.
Jim Davis/Getty Images
Jonathan Papelbon allowed seven of eight batters he faced reach base on Wednesday night.
Until Papelbon imploded, Kyle Kendrick and Mario Hollands quelled a powerful Rangers lineup. Ryan Howard's two-run blast in the third inning appeared to provide enough support.
But, later, Papelbon was perturbed at his teammates' defensive alignment. He said McClure visited the mound and said, "OK, let's get a ground ball." Bench coach Larry Bowa signaled for "three" depth, which meant the priority for the infielders was eliminating the runner at third on a grounder, but a double play was still possible because the infield was not completely brought in.
Leonys Martin singled past Utley to tie the game. The next two Rangers walked.
"Obviously I don't know whether that's called for the bench or called from the middle infielders, but less than two outs I'm thinking ground ball and I'm thinking let's get this double play and go home," Papelbon said. "Obviously I'm not going to second-guess my teammates or my coach."
His manager, Ryne Sandberg, said Papelbon was too erratic. He threw his fastball at an average velocity of 91.6 mph, according to PITCHf/x data, which is a far cry from the 93.8 mph he averaged in 2012.
"He was just up in the zone," Sandberg said. "He featured a lot of fastballs. They just happened to be up. Even a 0-2 fastball shoulder-high was a hittable pitch."
I watched the end of this game and Papelbon looked so awful, so out of sorts, that one of the first things you wonder is whether he’s healthy, or if he’s working so hard to find some of the velocity he has lost that his mechanics are in disarray.
• The Padres' Bud Black wanted to challenge a call, but was told his challenge wasn’t timely enough.
Fieldin Culbreth is a really good umpire, but his description of a "timely" challenge illuminates another problem with the challenge system.
From Bernie Wilson’s story:
"I challenged and the first base umpire said, 'OK,' then they convened and they said they were not going to allow it," Black said.
Black said he was told that [Tyson] Ross had already gotten back on the rubber and Hanley Ramirez was in the batter's box.
"Like I told those guys, I thought the message was to get the play right," Black said. "I don't have a timer with me. But I thought I went out there in due time to issue the challenge."
Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth didn't agree.
"There is some judgment involved and there are some things that make it specific," Culbreth said. "We had the play. Some significant time had gone by. They had been on the phone. I want them to challenge it if that's what they need to do. That's what we are here for. That's how this thing is going to work. My thing is, if you come out, maybe we can put the brakes on it then. But if we can't get you out there, then it comes down to the timely manner.
"To me, at some point, we had gotten out of the range of what was timely," Culbreth said.
This is yet another example of why the managers should be taken out of the loop. Either "timely" needs a number or specific action tied to it, or it needs to be eliminated.
• A lengthy replay affected the Twins' pitching Wednesday, writes Mike Berardino.
• Watched a lot of Tony Cingrani's outing against the Cardinals, when he and Michael Wacha traded zero for zero, and the left-hander was extremely impressive in how he cut up the strike zone. Chris Heisey capped off the game for the Reds.
• Tim Hudson was dominant against the Diamondbacks.
• The Mariners are perfect.
• Some stuff is starting to come together for the Rangers: Yu Darvish will return to the rotation Sunday, Colby Lewis is making progress, Matt Harrison makes his first minor league start today, and Derek Holland threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time since his knee surgery.
• It's a big time for fatherhood: Jimmy Rollins went to be with his wife and newborn child.
• New Nationals manager Matt Williams isn’t messing around with his lineup.
• Max Scherzer needs to get through 34 to 40 starts over the next seven months to make his negotiation gamble pay off -- and so far, so good, after his first outing.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Rays signed Chris Archer to a long-term deal, and they may have plans to do the same with Alex Cobb, as Marc Topkin writes.
2. Jean Segura got a day off.
Dings and dents
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos had surgery this week for a broken hamate bone in his left hand.
1. Wilson Ramos had surgery on his hand, writes James Wagner.
2. The Mets’ Chris Young has a quad problem.
3. Jesse Crain wants to be back by May.
1. Gio Gonzalez pitched and hit his way to a win.
2. The Yankees are 0-2, having lost twice to the Astros. Mark Teixeira and the Yankees look lost at the plate, writes John Harper.
3. The Pirates ripped the guts out of the Cubs, again.
4. Mark Buehrle was "the man." He has the look of someone who could help a contender down the stretch if the Jays are out of contention, although the settlement of the remaining dollars on his back-loaded contract would be problematic.
5. The Rockies got on the board.
6. I picked the Angels to win the AL West and the Mariners to finish fourth, and so far, that’s looking really good.
7. Oakland’s Jim Johnson was shaky and the Athletics settled for a split.
8. The Rangers won weirdly.
• Henderson Alvarez had a tough day.
• Craig Kimbrel is inching toward a record, as David O’Brien writes.
• Cardinals fans should enjoy watching the team grow.
• The Cubs are going to see a whole bunch of left-handers.
• The Ricketts family seems to win even if the Cubs lose, writes Rick Telander.
• Miguel Montero has a fresh outlook.
• Rockies owner **** Monfort is excited about changes at Coors Field.
• Yasiel Puig says he is listening.
• Seth Smith is off to a good start.
• Nelson Cruz is making a good first impression.
• Ned Yost didn’t want to hurt Alcides Escobar's confidence.
• The Royals lost two replay challenges.
• Michael Brantley helped the Indians earn redemption.
• Felipe Paulino had a nice first outing.
• Dexter Fowler had a big day.
• The Angels make it hard to be charitable, writes T.J. Simers.
• Mike Napoli appreciated the chance to visit wounded veterans.
• David Ortiz says his selfie was not part of any deal with Samsung.
• Derek Jeter was a man of few words in the first ceremony held to honor him. The Jeter farewell tour has started horribly.
• The rooftop owners may sue the Cubs.
• A friend of Wade Miley is on the mend.
• Russell Wilson threw out a first pitch.
• Tim McClelland’s career as an umpire may be over, writes Bryce Miller.
• Frank Viola is resting comfortably.