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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 765

post #22921 of 72837
Congrats to my boy Kenny Giles for getting his first K in the big leagues pimp.gif first pitch at 100mph, even tho he gave up a HR later in the AB laugh.gif

If he stays healthy and keeps working on his command he could be a stud soon
post #22922 of 72837
Kevin Gausman's stuff is FILTHY.

Only giving up 3 runs in the past 36 innings is impressive by the O's pitching staff. KEEP IT UP!
Originally Posted by dmxfury View Post

JJ - is the area around Camden decent? Good part of town?

Sorry, DMX....just seeing this now. Area around OPACY isn't bad. Just look for a hotel (if you're planning on visiting) around Pratt St, which will make it a very easy walk.

It's one of the best venues in MLB and great seats are inexpensive. Make sure you get some Natty Boh before leaving the city. If not, I'll slap you.
Edited by JJs07 - 6/13/14 at 5:04am
post #22923 of 72837
Originally Posted by Ballerific703 View Post

Originally Posted by JohnnyRedStorm View Post

btw is awesome. wish i signed up sooner.

It's ridiculous. I buy it every year for that Father's Day promotion. You get so many damn games and it's still the cheapest package out of all three major sports smokin.gif
It's phenomenal. Yesterday I listened to the Red/Dodgers game at the gym and at night I usually just toggle between the pitchers I like seeing. Really awesome stuff.
post #22924 of 72837
Without, id be a miserable person.
post #22925 of 72837
Welp, it's nice to see the Braves haven't changed one bit. David Carpenter's a lame.
post #22926 of 72837
Thread Starter 
Don't sell farm for Samardzija.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Another year, another Chicago Cubs starting pitcher on the trade market. As was the case with Ryan Dempster in 2012 and Matt Garza and Scott Feldman in 2013, the Cubs again have a desirable starter available to trade in Jeff Samardzija, who could very well be moved by the July 31 deadline.

Though the argument exists that the Cubs might be best served by signing Samardzija to an extension and having him around as their enviable collection of young hitting prospects arrives, it seems more likely they are looking to trade him to add more youth.

Samardzija is in the midst of the best season of his career, and he and David Price are the two best pitchers who are seemingly available this summer. That being the case, some team is going to pay dearly to obtain him -- contenders in Oakland, Toronto, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore and Anaheim -- among others -- could all use a rotation boost, and since Samardzija is controlled through 2015, the price will be even higher. Think about the bounty Chicago extracted from the Texas Rangers last season for two months of Garza -- the one that Rangers GM Jon Daniels admitted already regretting earlier this year -- and go up from there.

Then again, Samardzija isn't the only pitcher likely to be available this summer, and the biggest purchase isn't always the best one. In fact, there are a few other seemingly available National League pitchers who can put up similar production to Samardzija at a fraction of the cost.

Options aplenty

Look at Samardzija alongside three other potentially available NL pitchers and their 2014 performances. Like Samardzija, they play for losing teams who will likely be sellers. All four are righties; all four are between 29 and 31 years of age. Two are free agents following the season, two have one year of arbitration remaining.

Solid alternatives
Jason Hammel, Ian Kennedy and Brandon McCarthy compare favorably to Jeff Samardzija.

85.0 21.7 6.9 14.7 7.7 3.03 3.27 1.8
78.1 23.3 5.3 18.0 6.0 2.88 3.44 1.9
86.2 25.9 5.7 20.2 9.4 2.94 3.02 1.6
79.0 21.4 4.2 17.2 21.4 3.80 2.75 0.8
With one exception that we'll get to at the end, what you have there are four pitchers with very, very similar performances in terms of strikeouts, walks and expected outcomes, even if you don't necessarily think of Jason Hammel, Ian Kennedy and Brandon McCarthy as being the same caliber of pitcher as Samardzija. Teams aren't -- shouldn't be, anyway -- buying names, ERA or win/loss record. They simply want to get the pitcher who does the most with what he can control, and if you strip out the things that absolutely don't matter, Hammel and Kennedy are pitching exactly as well -- in some areas, better -- than Samardzija is.

Now, it's fair to say that players can't simply be judged on the first few months of the season as though no information about them existed before Opening Day, and were we to have run this dating back to the start of 2013, it's clear that Samardzija is the best of the group. But the point isn't to say that any of the others are definitively better. It's to say they will undeniably be cheaper -- potentially considerably so -- and are likely to offer enough similar value to Samardzija at a fraction of the cost.

Take your pick

For starters, it's not like the others have never experienced success. Kennedy, for example, finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting in 2011 and gave the Arizona Diamondbacks solid performances in both 2010 and 2012 as well. But after he struggled to begin 2013, he was dealt to the San Diego Padres for what seemed a surprisingly underwhelming return -- Joe Thatcher, though effective, was still a 31-year-old left-handed relief specialist.

[+] EnlargeIan Kennedy
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Kennedy is fanning more than a man per inning for the first time in his career.
Once in San Diego, Kennedy's mechanics were changed by Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. The result? Kennedy's fastball, which had averaged barely 90 mph by the end of 2012, is now at nearly 93, the hardest he's ever thrown. Unsurprisingly, Kennedy's strikeout rate has shot back up, to the point that his 25.9 percent whiff rate is the 12th best in baseball. Like Samardzija, he's arbitration-eligible next year; despite similar 2014 performance and a higher peak in his past, it seems unlikely the Padres would ask for as much for Kennedy as the Cubs would for Samardzija.

Hammel, on the other hand, will be a free agent this winter, giving the Cubs another good trade chip. Hammel put up a few solid, if rarely noticed, years for the Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles before collapsing due to a 2012 knee injury and 2013 arm trouble. Healthy again this season, Hammel has all but abandoned his curve and changeup in favor of his slider, and with good reason -- over 40 percent of swings against it have ended in a miss. A .234 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) indicates some amount of regression is coming, but as long as Hammel is walking fewer than two batters per nine innings, he can limit the damage.

As for McCarthy, that's admittedly a tougher sell: Even when you know better than to look at such things, it's going to be hard for people to get past 1-8, 5.13 ERA. It should be remembered that the Diamondbacks are among the worst teams in baseball -- it took Samardzija nearly two months to get a win himself -- which doesn't help, but neither does McCarthy's unusually high home run rate.

Of course, most of that was concentrated early in the season (he allowed seven homers in his first five games, and only five in his past eight) and his ground ball rate of 55.5 percent is by far the best of his career.

Combined with increased velocity, as he's shockingly touching 95 mph with regularity now, he's striking batters out more than ever. More strikeouts plus fewer walks plus more ground balls generally leads to good things, and McCarthy is a great candidate to improve.

Remember, a pitcher traded at the deadline will make approximately 12 starts for his new team. Over that span, Samardzija might -- might -- be worth one extra win over the others. Yes, you get Samardzija for more than just this year, which has value, but if your primary goal is adding a pitcher for the 2014 playoff chase, there are other reasonable alternatives out there who will cost a lot less.

Five teams with new No. 1 prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The 2014 Rule 4 Draft is over, which means every club just got an influx of top talent into its farm system. Assuming all these top picks sign, here are five teams who just acquired a new No. 1 prospect as well as notes on two other teams' first overall picks and where they might slot into the prospect rankings of each organization.

Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon, LHP

The White Sox's top two prospects coming into 2014, Erik Johnson and Matt Davidson, have disappointed thus far. (Johnson has also lost eligibility for the list by passing the 50-inning threshold.) That makes the top of their list muddled. There's Courtney Hawkins, who is having a strong second go with Winston-Salem of the high-Class A Carolina League; Tim Anderson, who is hitting for average (.309) and playing good defense at shortstop for Winston-Salem but has shown poor plate discipline; and Micah Johnson, now up in Triple-A after a brief but successful run with Double-A Birmingham.

Rodon passes all three as a near-MLB-ready starter with a grade-70 slider and above-average fastball. Issues with Rodon's delivery have led to command problems and slightly reduced velocity, but the White Sox have an excellent track record of working with pitchers with unusual or difficult arm actions. Getting Rodon better extension out front and a cleaner finish will help him throw more strikes and maybe add more to his fastball. If all goes well, he should be in their rotation by this time next year -- perhaps with Micah Johnson playing somewhere behind him.

Los Angeles Angels: Sean Newcomb, LHP

The Angels didn't have a top-100 prospect coming into 2014, but they almost certainly will this offseason with Newcomb, a power lefty from the University of Hartford who has been up to 96-97 mph and can sit 92-94 with minimal effort, flashing two above-average secondary pitches in a curve and changeup. He's a clear starter who is probably just two years away from the majors as he works on improving his command and control; both were better toward the end of the spring.

Newcomb needs to develop more consistency with his off-speed stuff, probably by ditching the slider to focus on the curveball. He's an easy choice over two teenage arms in the Angels' extended spring training, Hunter Green and Ricardo Sanchez, as well as fast-rising shortstop Jose Rondon, who is hitting .333 for high-Class A Inland Empire.

Seattle Mariners: Alex Jackson, C

The Mariners' top prospect coming into the year was Taijuan Walker, but he has missed the majority of the season with recurring shoulder soreness, a malady likely caused by an upright finish in his delivery that has also softened his once-plus (and sharp) curveball. Walker is still a promising starter if he can get and stay healthy, but the risk, now even greater than the risk normally associated with pitching, slides him just behind Jackson, one of the best prep hitters in the draft class.

Jackson projects to hit, and for serious power. While he is fully capable of catching in pro ball, the general sense in the industry is that his team would pull a Bryce Harper/Wil Myers and move Jackson to third base or right field. He slots in ahead of D.J. Peterson, whose stat line is artificially boosted by playing his home games in the hitter-friendly park in High Desert, and Austin Wilson, who's too old for the low-Class A Midwest League and should have started the year with Peterson in high Class A.

Detroit Tigers: Derek Hill, CF

The Tigers had one top-100 prospect coming into 2014, Nick Castellanos, who has since graduated from the list and locked down an every-day job in the majors. No one else was particularly close. Eugenio Suarez has had a great 2014 season and provides huge value on defense, but he's also in the majors and I don't think the Venezuelan shortstop is heading back to Toledo at any point.

That leaves a big void up top for Hill, a plus runner and plus defender in center with a compact swing and plenty of physical projection to add some pop as he matures. The cousin of Darryl Strawberry and son of a longtime Dodgers scout, Hill spent most of his childhood in Iowa and played only the last three years in NorCal, so he's not quite as experienced as your typical California high school pick. Still, his thin résumé presents the potential for tremendous growth. I had him as the 11th-best player in the draft, and the Tigers nabbing him at 23 seems like a steal.

New York Mets: Michael Conforto, OF

This is a toss-up for me between Conforto, an advanced college hitter who had a .504 OBP this year at Oregon State, and Noah Syndergaard, who came back from a forearm strain only to hurt his nonthrowing shoulder in the first inning of his start Thursday. Syndergaard's injuries aren't a concern for his long-term outlook, but he's a pitcher. Given the choice between a topflight pitching prospect like Syndergaard (also known as "Thor") and a topflight hitting prospect like Conforto, I lean toward the latter for the simple reason of predictability.

Conforto could go right to high Class A or Double-A with his approach. If the Mets want to be aggressive, he could an option for their major league outfield by the end of 2015. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo is a solid No. 3 on this list. I'm also not concerned about Dominic Smith's stats to date because low-Class A Savannah has a horrendous ballpark for left-handed power hitters.

Close but not quite

San Francisco Giants: Tyler Beede, RHP

Righty Kyle Crick has more upside and southpaw Edwin Escobar is closer to the majors, but if Beede can throw enough quality strikes, he has the potential to be better than both of them. Still, given Beede's history of inconsistent command and poor responses to on-field adversity, that's an enormous "if."

Beede will pitch at 92-95 mph and has a plus changeup that he can cut or fade as needed. His breaking ball varies from start to start, but it's fair to call it a future grade-55 pitch. If I were reordering the Giants' top 10 right now, I would slot Beede in third, but he's close enough to the top to mention here and monitor going forward. If the Giants get him out to a full-season affiliate, we'll get to see if his command is any better.

Houston Astros: Brady Aiken, LHP

Aiken was the best player in the draft class and the first overall pick, but he's entering the majors' top farm system. Shortstop Carlos Correa is the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, behind only Minnesota's Byron Buxton, and I believe reports of Mark Appel's demise as a prospect are exaggerated, as he has still been hitting 95-97 despite struggling with a nerve issue in his thumb and having no command in his last outing for Lancaster.

I'd put Aiken after those two but ahead of right-hander Mike Foltynewicz and third baseman Rio Ruiz.

Complete AL draft breakdown.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Here are my team recaps of the drafts so far, through 10 rounds, for all 15 American League teams. I'll have a similar piece up on Monday for the National League.

Note: We use the 20-80 grading scale for all MLB prospects.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles didn't pick at all on Day 1; their first selection was Brian Gonzalez at 91st overall (Round 3), a lefty from Florida's Archbishop McCarthy High School, at which his pitching coach was former big leaguer Alex Fernandez. Gonzalez is very interesting for a third-rounder, built like a big league starter already and showing three pitches. His velocity is mostly in the 89-93 mph range, and he has a plus changeup in the upper 70s that he just needs to hide a little more out of his hand. Fernandez’s curveball is developing but has good shape, and his command is solid for his age. He's got a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.

Right-hander Pat Connaughton (Round 4) played hoops and pitched for Notre Dame; he's been up to 98 mph but sits in the low 90s with a good changeup that was wildly overused by coach Mik Aoki (the same coach who threw a reliever 150 pitches while he was at Boston College); he needs to switch from a curveball to a slider to have a chance at a good breaking ball. Right-hander David Hess (Round 5) is more interesting, a soundly built starter who's touched 97, with an average curve and fringy changeup, needing work on command and control. Tanner Scott (Round 6) is a left-hander at Howard JC with outstanding arm strength but below-average control (45 walks in 63 innings); his brother Tyler just signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent. After that, the Orioles went for discounted players, taking four college seniors.

Boston Red Sox

The Sox added a lot of right-handed power, along with several interesting arms, in a typically strong draft. Michael Chavis (Round 1), a shortstop from Sprayberry High School outside Atlanta, projects to hit and hit for power, with a little tendency to overswing and need to adjust better to breaking stuff. His is a bat that should play at second or third; he's filled out physically but plays with very high intensity and gets more out of his body than you'd expect.

Texas prep righty Michael Kopech (Round 1A) throws a ton of strikes with a very quick arm and a funky delivery that provides a lot of deception, like he's got limbs coming at you from every which way. And oh, by the way, he's up to 98 mph and has a short, sharp breaking ball. I do think the Sox will have to quiet down the delivery for health and command reasons eventually. Sam Travis (Round 2) was one of my favorite second-tier college bats in the draft, a first baseman who's a good athlete and has a very short, direct swing with line-drive power. An aggressive hitter, he hunts fastballs early in the count and played all 2013 with a broken hamate bone. Jake Cosart (Round 3), younger brother of Houston Astros pitcher Jarred, probably isn't a starter in the long term, but he does have a super-quick arm and has run it up to 98 with downhill plane and a pretty good curveball. Kevin McAvoy (Round 4) of Bryant University works mostly at 89-92, though he has huge sink on the pitch, getting a 72 percent ground ball rate with a fringy slider. He touched 96 and sat 93-94 at Bryant's first-ever regional appearance last month.

Danny Mars (Round 6) is a 55-60 runner with a plus arm and can play center field; he's got some pop but can bar out his lead arm and has to be a little more flexible at the plate. Kevin Steen (Round 9) is a 6-foot-3, 170 pound right-handed prep pitcher who was playing basketball to the end of March, going to the state championships in which his school, Oak Ridge (Tennessee), lost by just two points. He didn't start pitching in games until late April, but his arm is quick and he's been picking up velocity late, much as you'd expect from a kid in the Northeast who started late due to cold weather.

New York Yankees

The Yanks didn't pick until the middle of the second round, 55th overall, at which they grabbed one of the best college relievers in the draft in Mississippi State lefty Jacob Lindgren (Round 2), who has a wipeout slider and the second-best ground ball rate of any pitcher in Division I this year. Austin DeCarr (Round 3) is a 19-year-old right-hander at the Salisbury School in Connecticut -- committed to Clemson -- and throws mostly 90-93 now with a chance for an above-average curveball; he's been pitching full time for only two years, so there might be more development ahead in his command and feel than for the typical 19-year-old.

Lefty Jordan Montgomery (Round 4) modeled himself after his former teammate, Michael Roth, as a soft-tossing lefty who relies on deception and changing speeds. Roth pitched with a 40-grade fastball, but Montgomery has a little more velocity -- just not enough for him to start. The Yankees took Jordan Foley (Round 5) out of high school in the 26th round, but he chose to go to Central Michigan; he's consistently in the 90-95 range but doesn't have an average breaking ball yet, using a splitter as his primary out pitch.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays wanted a college bat at pick No. 20 and got one of the most accomplished ones in Casey Gillaspie (Round 1), younger brother of the Chicago White Sox's Conor; Casey is a switch-hitter and much stronger than Conor is, but like his brother, he doesn't use his lower half well, and he's limited to first base. Cameron Varga (Round 2) was a likely top-20 selection at the start of last summer, when he was among the two or three best pitchers at the Perfect Game National showcase, but he's struggled since then with a stomach cyst and shoulder issues. Scouts told me he gave max effort this spring, grunting on pitches, yet still couldn't match his previous velocity. He's a lottery ticket -- if the Rays can get him healthy, they just stole a first-rounder.

Brent Honeywell (Round 2B) was a clear money-saver, a junior college lefty who throws his fastball at 91-95 with a screwball and is almost certainly a reliever in the long run. Brock Burke (Round 3) is a very projectable prep lefty from Colorado, 86-91 mph with some sink, but needs a lot of work on his curve and change; he's an intriguing long-range prospect because his arm works well, but he doesn't use his lower half enough yet and has room to fill out physically. Blake Bivens (Round 4) works in the low 90s but has a plus curveball -- a mid-70s downer that might be a spike given how sharp its break is -- but needs a third pitch and has to show he can throw that curveball for a strike. Michael Russell (Round 5) is a high-contact hitter who will move to second base in pro ball, and possibly lacks the power to play every day. If Varga clicks, this'll be a good draft for them, but as someone who's lighter than most on Gillaspie's bat, I wouldn't call this one of my favorite draft classes.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays have had their troubles in the first round in recent years, but I think they made up for it with their Day 1 selections this year. Right-hander Jeff Hoffman (Round 1) was projected to be in the top four picks before he blew out his elbow; the Jays can go for a deep discount here, since he won't pitch until late May of next year, and still have an 85 percent chance or so to get an elite talent, perhaps a top-of-the-rotation starter -- although he wasn't a finished product before his elbow snapped. Max Pentecost (Round 1) can catch, throw and run; he doesn't have power, but he has a good approach and feel to hit, although I don't love the way he loads with his hands holding the bat angled backward, which makes it hard to get it into the hitting zone in time.

Sean Reid-Foley (Round 2) had first-round buzz with a not-great delivery that he repeats very well -- he takes a huge stride, straightening his front leg like he's applying to the Ministry of Silly Walks, but he pronates his arm late. He's got three pitches and throws strikes, touching 95 mph but sitting more 90-93. Nick Wells (Round 3) was a slight reach for me, as he'd shown third-round potential but slipped in the second half of his season. He's a 6-6 lefty with a true curveball with shape and depth, a potential plus pitch down the road if he adds some velocity and arm speed as he fills out.

Catcher Matt Morgan (Round 4) receives well with an average arm, but he tends to get under his throws and arc them rather than throw them on a line. He's got a balanced approach and line-drive swing path, so he might profile as an offensive catcher. Right fielder Lane Thomas (Round 5) was the best prep position player in Tennessee this year, a power/speed guy with a very inconsistent, loose swing and a well below-average hit tool. The real value in this draft was the first three picks, after which they continued to hunt for prep guys with tools but might have reached for those next three picks before switching to college players.

Cleveland Indians

USF outfielder Brad Zimmer (Round 1) had no business sliding to the 21st pick; he's a center fielder now who has a good approach and sound swing, and I think he'll develop at least average power, giving him a chance to be an impact player as long as he stays in the middle of the field. Justus Sheffield (Round 1A) was one of the best prep lefties in the country, a 90-94 mph fastball, a solid curveball, above-average changeup and a very good delivery; area scouts love his makeup, and, despite a commitment to Vanderbilt, he made it clear he wants to play pro ball.

UVA first baseman Mike Papi (Round 1A) was one of the most disciplined hitters in Division I this year, tying for third in walks drawn behind only Casey Gillaspie and Michael Conforto; he also has above-average power and has the arm and average running speed for an outfield corner. Right-hander Grant Hockin (Round 2), grandson of Harmon Killebrew, has an outstanding delivery and was 90-94 mph with his fastball and an above-average slider by year end; he's projectable but shows enough present stuff to merit a second-round pick. First baseman Bobby Bradley (Round 3) was a minor steal at 97th overall, a left-handed hitter with great bat speed and a balanced swing, projecting to hit for above-average to plus power; the track record of prep bats from Mississippi is poor, but the third round is a good spot to take on this kind of risk.

Minnesota high school lefty Sam Hentges (Round 4) is a lottery-ticket pick; he's 6-6, 235 pounds but is a long way off, currently in the upper 80s with his fastball and some feel for a curveball. Outfielder Greg Allen (Round 6) can really run but has no power -- he didn't homer in his junior or sophomore seasons and hit just .302 this season with a lower contact rate than a speed guy should have. I think he's probably a 4A guy or organizational player rather than a fifth outfielder. Shortstop Alexis Pantoja (Round 9) was the best prospect in Puerto Rico this year, a slick-fielding shortstop who has a long way to go with the bat to project even as a backup. Overall, it's an outstanding haul, a mixture of probability and upside that adds both arms and polished bats to the system.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers went against type by taking a prep bat in the first round, center fielder Derek Hill (Round 1), a plus defender already who can run and who has a sound, compact swing that should lead to plenty of contact and possibly average power down the road. Alabama right-hander Spencer Turnbull (Round 2) is built like a starter and sits 92-96 with his fastball in that role with a short slider that's a fringy pitch right now; his delivery is a little stiff, and he needs a better changeup to be a starter, so his range of outcomes is mid-rotation starter to power arm in the bullpen, with the latter a little more likely now. Grayston Greiner (Round 3) is a polished college catcher who should be at least a backup in the majors and who's had to catch a variety of pitching styles while at South Carolina.

Adam Ravenelle (Round 4) is more of a typical Tigers draft pick, a hard-throwing college reliever with an above-average slider and developing changeup and someone who should move quickly but needs to throw more strikes to do so. Third baseman Joey Pankake (Round 7), aside from having a great name, is a good value pick in the seventh round. He started the year as a possible third- or fourth-rounder but had a disappointing season that caused him to slide, with concerns about his ultimate position also hurting his stock.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals will have done very well with their Day 1 picks if the gambles they took on two pitchers with shoulder issues work out. TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan (Round 1) was headed for a top-10 spot before his shoulder barked; he came back healthy, but the injury highlighted concerns about his 5-10 stature and late pronation in his delivery. He looks like a reliever but has had so much success as a starter that the Royals have to leave him there and see if he can develop into a No. 2 or No. 3. Lefty Foster Griffin (Round 1A) is a three-pitch starter with some projection left; his velocity varied over the spring -- sometimes average, sometimes approaching plus -- and I think his curveball will improve as he fills out and can generate more arm speed with his legs.

Chase Vallot (Round 1A) is an offensive catcher who can hit and hit for power and earns raves for off-the-charts makeup, but he's a project behind the plate and might move to third base or right field because his bat is too good to wait for his defense to catch up. The other pitcher with shoulder issues was prep righty Scott Blewett (Round 2) from upstate New York. He was probably going to go as the Royals' first pick before he was shut down, making just one final outing before the draft, which the Royals attended heavily.

They took another college lefty in Central Florida's Eric Skoglund (Round 3), a tall, skinny southpaw with three average pitches and a frame that should be projectable, although he'll be 22 in October and should have started to fill out by now. Brandon Downes (Round 7) started the year well, homering twice off first-rounder Jeff Hoffman on the season's second weekend, but had a slightly disappointing season overall and might be a tweener as a corner outfielder who doesn't have the power to profile there.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox landed the draft's best college pitcher and one of its only prospects with a chance to be a quick impact guy in the majors, North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon (Round 1), whose slider was the best pitch in the entire draft class: 88-91 mph with vicious late bite. He's mostly 90-94 mph with the fastball now but has reached 96-97 and might be able to do so more consistently if the White Sox lengthen his delivery out and let him finish more smoothly. Rodon was worked too hard by the Wolfpack this spring, but Chicago is among the best organizations at keeping pitchers healthy.

Spencer Adams (Round 2) is a fastball/slider right-hander from an Atlanta-area high school; he's a superb athlete who looks like he could put 25 more pounds on his frame and has a chance for an above-average or better curveball. However, scouts didn't love the delivery with his late elbow pronation. Oregon State lefty Jace Fry (Round 3) is a potential back-end starter, a solid pitcher with good feel but average stuff across the board. The name Brett Austin (Round 4) should be familiar to Padres fans, as he turned down $1.5 million from them in 2011 and won't get close to that after two disappointing years at NC State. But he had a nice bounceback in his junior year, leading the Pack in average and slugging and coming in second in OBP on the roster. He's most likely a quality backup. Brian Clark (Round 9) was in Kent State's rotation, but I think his best chance to see the majors is as a fastball/slider guy out of the pen.

The Sox also took a flier on a very difficult sign on Day 3, right-hander Bryce Montes de Oca (Round 14), a 6-7, 265-pound right-hander with a lightning-quick arm and fastball up to 98 mph. However, he pitched only briefly this spring after a return from 2013 Tommy John surgery.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins had made it pretty clear they were taking Nick Gordon (Round 1) with the fifth overall pick, as Tom's son was the best all-around high school position player in the class. Gordon is a true shortstop with good hands and a plus arm who got stronger last winter and improved his hit tool and showed a little more pop as well. He projects to be an above-average, everyday shortstop with low risk of failure given his instincts, athleticism and bloodlines.

After that, the Twins decided to just go draft an entire bullpen, taking five straight college relievers headlined by the two hardest throwers in the class, Louisville's Nick Burdi (Round 2) and San Diego State's Michael Cederoth (Round 3), both of whom can hit 100 mph. Burdi shows better command and a wipeout, 90-92 mph slider along with it. I thought Jake Reed (Round 5) was the fourth-best college reliever in the class, a converted starter who sits in the mid-90s with plus-plus life, getting ground balls on 74 percent of his outs in play this spring. I saw Sam Clay (Round 4) in early April in a mediocre outing during which he had just average stuff, but he's shown better velocity in other outings.

Houston Astros

The Astros took the top player on my board with the first overall pick, San Diego high school lefty Brady Aiken (Round 1), an athletic, quick-armed starter who regularly reaches 95 mph, already averages 90-93 and has the makings of a plus curveball and changeup. Aiken's arm works very well, and he's been handled carefully by his coaches and father, so if there's such a thing as a high school pitcher with a lower risk of injury, this would be it. He's been compared to Clayton Kershaw, which is unfair to any prep pitcher, but it's better to say this is the Clayton Kershaw Starter Kit: If you were looking for someone with a one percent chance of developing into Kershaw (instead of the zero percent chance everyone else has), he'd look like this.

The Astros weren't done adding top talent, though, nabbing Derek Fisher (Round 1A) from Virginia with their next pick. Fisher has some of the best tools of any college player in the draft and turned down first-round money from the Rangers out of high school. He can run and has bat speed and raw power, but he's still unrefined as a player, especially in left field, where he often has FEMA on standby. A.J. Reed (Round 2) got my vote for this year's Golden Spikes Award, excelling at the plate and on the mound; he's at or near the top of the class for raw power and has a good approach, although his bat speed is just average and he's going to have a major adjustment to make in Double-A when he's consistently seeing good velocity.

The Astros went for even more power with J.D. Davis (Round 3) out of Cal State Fullerton, a first baseman with 70- or 80-grade raw power who had a disappointing year that probably slid him down a round in the draft. He has a plus arm but is so big he's limited to first base. Texas A&M right-hander Daniel Mengden (Round 4) pitched with a stress fracture in his back for much of this year, but when healthy, he's got above-average velocity and is an incredible competitor. Mengden might have two plus pitches in a relief role, but he's had enough success to start in pro ball and see if the lack of fastball life becomes a problem for him.

Jacob Nix (Round 5) was a fringe first-round candidate early in the year, but a strong commitment to UCLA and inconsistent velocity in March and April caused him to slide; he had a firm number for signability, and I imagine his selection here means the Astros believe they can sign him. I thought he was a potential first-rounder in 2017, given his size and chance for three above-average pitches at a program that has churned out some pretty good arms recently. The Astros might have enough money left for another over-slot pick on Saturday, too, which would make a very good draft class even better.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels got the draft's No. 2 college lefty, University of Hartford starter Sean Newcomb (Round 1), with their first-round pick: a big southpaw with three above-average pitches when he has all three working. Newcomb's velocity comes very easy, and he needs work on subtler things like fastball command and mixing his pitches, not on stuff. Joey Gatto (Round 2) fell out of my rankings after a very volatile spring, during which his command and control wavered; he was more popular with cross-checkers than area scouts, as his stuff -- a fastball from 90-94 and a curveball with good shape -- didn't always play up to potential. He does have the body and delivery you look for in a prep righty.

Chris Ellis (Round 3) also has the size to be a starter and the fastball/changeup combination to do it, probably at the back of a major league rotation; his fastball should have more plane, and he should probably switch from a slider to a true curveball given his arm slot. Both Jeremy Rhoades (Round 4) and Jake Jewell (Round 5) project as power bullpen arms. Rhoades features a potential out pitch in his slider, while Jewell hits 97 mph frequently and averages 93-95 with an above-average breaking ball. Georgia prep outfielder Alex Abbott (Round 6) has some raw power, but it doesn't show up in games yet; he's headed for a corner-outfield spot, and, at 19 years old, has less development time left than your average high school draftee.

Oakland Athletics

The A's took an elite defender with their first pick, nabbing Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman (Round 1) at No. 25 overall. Chapman has power but hasn't hit well for average over his three years in college; he's a difference-maker in the field, however, with a plus-plus arm that gives the A's a fallback option of putting him on the mound if he's an unexpected disaster as a hitter. Clemson right-hander Daniel Gossett (Round 2) has had success as a starter with an average fastball and above-average slider combo, but he's only about 5-10 and doesn't get plane on his fastball. He cuts himself off at his landing, and his late arm acceleration might point to a future in the bullpen.

Missouri right-hander Brett Graves (Round 3) should have been a Day 1 pick, and I think playing for a terrible team this spring might have hurt his stock; he has the fastball and the control to be a big league starter, needing to refine his two off-speed pitches -- a slider and changeup -- so he can miss more bats. Heath Fillmyer (Round 5) was a popup kid at a New Jersey junior college, rising up to 96 mph on his fastball with a solid breaking ball and athletic delivery, though he needs a third pitch and fell off down the stretch after being a converted position player who threw only nine innings in 2013. Trace Loehr (Round 6) earned a lot of comparisons to Rays prospect Ryan Brett, as both are undersized middle infielders from the Pacific Northwest who have short, contact-oriented swings and play like their hair is on fire. Loehr, like Brett, is probably destined for second base in pro ball.

Brandon Cogswell (Round 7) was moved off shortstop by freshman Daniel Pinero at UVA this spring, but he should return to shortstop in pro ball and could profile as a good utility infielder who makes a ton of contact and slaps his way to the big leagues. Branden Kelliher (Round glasses.gif was an interesting pick so late in the draft, a 5-11 high school righty who is committed to the University of Oregon. Kelliher has an average fastball and above-average curveball. If the A's can sign him, they should tell him to just follow Sonny Gray around all winter and spring.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners put most of their eggs in two baskets: catcher Alex Jackson (Round 1) and outfielder Gareth Morgan (Round 2A), both likely over-slot signings but players with huge offensive upside. Jackson, taken No. 6 overall, had the best pure high school bat in the class, projecting to hit for power and unlikely to remain a catcher because the bat is too advanced. He will most likely end up in right field, with third base also a possibility. The biggest knock on Jackson has been maturity and attitude, but the key baseball tools are all there for him to become a middle-of-the-order bat.

Morgan provides real right-handed power and kept getting better as the spring went on, going from a crude, power-only goof last summer to a more complete hitter with a cleaner swing by the time the draft arrived. Austin Cousino (Round 3) was one of the best defensive players in Division I this year, a true center fielder who has bat speed but no approach at the plate and well below-average power. Dan Altavilla (Round 5) became the first player ever from Division II Mercyhurst to be drafted in the top 10 rounds, beating out David Lough, who was an 11th-rounder in 2007. Altavilla touches 94 mph with his fastball, will average 91-92 with inconsistent secondary stuff and led all of Division II in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. The Mariners took some money-saver picks after that, which will likely help them stay under their cap and still sign their first two picks.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers didn't have a true first-round pick after they gave one up to sign Shin-Soo Choo but did get pick No. 30 for losing Nelson Cruz. They used it on a true first-round talent in right-hander Luis Ortiz (Round 1A), a potential top-15 pick before a forearm issue caused him to miss a few starts. He came back healthy with the elbow intact and once again showed elite stuff, with easy velocity up to 96 mph and the makings of two above-average to plus off-speed pitches already. The biggest knock on him is his size, and he'll have to work hard to maintain his conditioning, but in baseball, you're not fat if you throw hard enough.

Ti'quan Forbes (Round 2) is a projectable athlete from Mississippi, a typical Rangers reach-for-the-stars pick, crude like most prep hitters from that state but with a great frame and chance for future power. He's very unlikely to stay at shortstop and will probably end up in the outfield with at least a shot for third base. UCLA commit Josh Morgan (Round 3) will probably move from short to second base in pro ball but does have a compact swing and above-average speed, more of a fourth- or fifth-rounder for me because of the lack of offensive upside. That's nitpicking at this point of the draft. After that, the Rangers took some gambles on arm-strength guys like Nick Green (Round 7) and Erik Swanson (Round glasses.gif, both junior college right-handers from Iowa, or projection guys like Brett Martin (Round 4), a very raw lefty from Walters State Community College in Tennessee. Many of these guys will sign under-slot deals with savings going to the team's top three picks or maybe an over-slot guy in Saturday's portion of the draft.

Complete NL draft breakdown.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Following up on my American League recaps from Saturday, here is my team-by-team draft breakdown for every National League club.

Note: We often use the 20-80 scouting scale when discussing prospects.

Arizona Diamondbacks

I liked the D-backs' draft from the get-go. At 16, they took high-upside right-hander Touki Toussaint (Round 1), an athletic, loose-armed prep pitcher who will show a plus fastball and curveball, but this spring showed better command and a new changeup. Cody Reed (Round 2) could be a steal if the Snakes can keep his weight down. Reed sits 92-94, holding it deep into games, and will show an above-average breaking ball, but he's approached three bills and has a high flameout risk if he doesn't buy into a pro conditioning program.

Marcus Wilson (Round 2A) is a huge upside play, a plus runner with very quick, loose wrists who projects to have above-average power when his frame fills out; he overstrides in the box and loads his hands very high and deep, so he can be late to adjust to changing speeds and limits some of his power by getting on his front side too early.

Isan Diaz (Round 2A) is at the opposite end of the high school hitter spectrum, an advanced hitter who's hit with wood bats all through high school, boasting a short, balanced swing for line-drive contact. He's a shortstop now but a near lock to slide to second base in pro ball. Evaluating prep players' hit tools, especially when they play weak competition in school, is very difficult, but I was impressed by Diaz' performances last summer in showcases like the Area Code Games and the Metropolitan Classic at Citi Field.

Matt Railey (Round 3) has very quick wrists and might have above-average power if he can cut his stride and keep his front side firm; he's an average runner but might have the instincts to remain in center, which he'll probably have to do to profile as a regular or better. Cornell righty Brent Jones (Round 4) can run it up to 96 but without command; he profiles as a two-pitch reliever with a curveball as his out pitch. Mason McCullough (5) was kicked off the Tar Heels last year, transferred to Division II Lander, and then walked a man per inning facing far worse competition than he had at Chapel Hill. He can hit 100 mph, sits 94-96, has to be a one-inning reliever at this point, and might be this draft's Jason Neighborgall.

Middle Tennessee State's Zac Curtis (Round 6) led all of Division I in strikeouts this year, with two more than LSU's Aaron Nola, but profiles as a tough left-on-left reliever in pro ball. Junior college left fielder Grant Heyman (Round glasses.gif has huge raw power from the left side but not much else so far. Vanderbilt's Jared Miller (Round 11) has a chance to be a lefty reliever in pro ball, lacking the command to start. Kevin Cron (Round 14) has never shown the power at TCU that he showed back in high school, and he might want to go back for his senior year; he's the younger brother of the Angels' C.J. Cron. The D-backs also took three likely unsignable high school players in J.B. Bukauskus (Round 20), Willie Rios (Round 26), and Cam Bishop (Round 32), with Bukauskus telling scouts this spring he'd prefer to matriculate at UNC than sign.

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta landed one of the best pure swings in the draft despite its lack of a first-round pick. Braxton Davidson (Round 1A) is a left-handed hitting outfielder who might end up at first base, but he has both patience and power; with Freddie Freeman signed to a long-term deal, Atlanta will likely give Davidson, who has a plus arm but is a 30-grade runner, every chance to stick in an outfield corner.

Texas prep righty Garrett Fulenchek (Round 2) has good sink on his average fastball, but a max-effort delivery with some head violence may push him to the pen if Atlanta can't clean him up. UNC-Greensboro right-hander Max Povse (Round 3) has good raw stuff, with a fastball at 92-97 and above-average slider, but needs to get better plane on his fastball from his 6-foot-8 frame. Atlanta might have stolen another day-one talent with South Carolina-Upstate Chad Sobotka (Round 4), who missed all of 2014 with a stress fracture in his back (I blame The Greek). Sobotka gets on top of his above-average fastball very well with a tight downward-breaking slider, but tends to fly open at release and will need to tighten that up to remain a starter -- a role where he could be a solid ground ball guy who misses bats with the slider as well.

Miami's Chris Diaz (Round 5) is a sinker/changeup lefty who gets a ton of ground balls but doesn't have the control to be a starter right now. Florida Southern's Keith Curcio (Round 6) was the Northwoods League's co-MVP last summer and whose primary skills are his plate discipline and speed, so the hope is that he has enough pop with wood to profile as a leadoff guy who plays center field. Reliever Brad Roney (Round glasses.gif was an interesting flier -- a two-way player who has a live arm but limited pitching experience, sitting low-90s with good two-seam tail on the pitch. Jordan Edgerton (Round 9) was one of the toughest hitters in Division II to strike out this year at UNC-Pembroke; he bars his lead arm but has some bat speed and good hip rotation for at least doubles power in pro ball. Overall it was among the strongest Atlanta draft classes in a while, with more polished selections but plenty of upside plays in the mix, although there were some other arms on the board in the second round I preferred to Fulenchek because of his delivery.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs reached significantly for Kyle Schwarber (Round 1), the fourth overall pick in the draft, a bat-first catcher who has maybe a 10 percent chance to stay behind the plate, and a higher chance to end up having to DH in pro ball, which might pose a problem for the Cubs unless they know something we don't about MLB rules. Schwarber does have huge raw power and a very good eye at the plate; his swing is really rotational with good leverage from his legs, but he sets up with a wide base and rolls over his front foot, which can pull him offline and hurt him against left-handed breaking stuff. I had him as more of a back-of-the-first-round talent.

The Cubs also took the draft's best college senior, Maryland starter Jake Stinnett (Round 2), who's been up to 97 from a low three-quarters arm slot and has a good slider when he doesn't get on the side of it; he has a starter's arsenal but the delivery might be more suited to relief, with a big plunge in back and trouble staying on top of the ball.

The Cubs also reached for Mark Zagunis (Round 3), a likely backup catcher who lacks power or patience but does put the ball in play a lot with a short swing after a no-load setup. After that, however, the Cubs went for pitching upside, taking three straight highly-rated high school arms as well as a handful quality college starters who were still available after the sixth round. Dylan Cease (Round 6) has the highest upside of all, hitting 98 earlier this spring with a cleaner delivery and curveball that flashed plus, but an elbow injury, reportedly a partial ligament tear for which Cease received PRP treatment rather than surgery, put him on the shelf from mid-March on. He was a top-15 pick if he'd stayed healthy and I imagine he'll expect a seven-figure bonus to buy him away from Vanderbilt.

Lefty Carson Sands (4) has three average pitches (fastball, curve, change) already with a chance to get the fastball up to a grade-60 pitch with some projection; his arm swing is a little long in back and he pronates slightly late but he stays on top of the ball well and gets some plane and tail on the fastball. Justin Steele (Round 5) is a power lefty from Mississippi whose fastball is 92-94 and he has a curveball with good shape and two-plane action. All three should have been top-three rounds selections.

Adding to that stable are the college arms I mentioned, led by St. Louis right-hander James Norwood (Round 7), who's been up to 97 but needs a viable breaking ball to go with it; and Fresno State right-hander Jordan Brink (Round 11), a former two-way player whose fastball ticked up when he started pitching full-time. Both guys are likely relievers but have sufficient chances to start that they should begin their pro careers in that role. Overall it's a good group of arms to infuse into a system that needs them, even if I didn't love the selections they made of the two college bats up top.

Cincinnati Reds

I thought the Reds reached for their first pick, Virginia reliever Nick Howard (Round 1), who has two plus pitches in a relief role but just an average fastball without life or downhill plane when starting. However, I loved their sandwich-round selection, Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino, who was among the best pure hitters in the draft class, with a great swing and outstanding plate discipline that showed this spring and last summer in the Cape Cod League as well. He's more than capable of handling third base, but many scouts liked the idea of moving him to second in pro ball, which I think wastes the value of his 55-60 arm.

Taylor Sparks (Round 2) is an all-or-nothing selection, a third baseman with plus-plus raw power -- Irvine hit 12 homers the whole season, and Sparks had five of them, as well as eight of the team's 22 triples -- but who strikes out at an inordinate rate and needs to tighten up his plate discipline to get to his power with wood.

USC's Wyatt Strahan (No. 3) can hit the mid-90s with some sink -- he didn't give up a homer all spring, although his home park helped with that -- but profiles better as a bullpen arm right now given his command and control. Oklahoma prep hitter Gavin LaValley (Round 4) fits in one of the industry's least-favorite categories, the high school first baseman, and he's not an advanced hitter, but he is very strong with bat speed, so the ball comes off his bat very well. Tejay Antone (Round 5) has a lively low-90s fastball and a loose arm, but his arm action is really long and deliberate, giving hitters a good look at the ball and making it hard for him to repeat it. Jose Lopez (Round 6) was a potential third-rounder before blowing out his elbow this spring, and he could be ready to go for spring training 2015, making his selection in the sixth round a good value play.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies took one of the more divisive players in the class, Evansville lefty Kyle Freeland (Round 1), with the eighth overall pick. If you like Freeland, you see Chris Sale Lite, a lefty with a low arm slot and a lot of deception who racks up a ton of strikeouts with his slider. If you don't, you see a power reliever who overuses the slider but still throws strikes and probably sits in the mid-90s in a one-inning role. I imagine the Rockies will give him every chance to start, given where they selected him.

Forrest Wall (Round 1A) was among the best pure bats in the high school class and is a plus runner, but his throwing shoulder never came back after 2011 labrum surgery, limiting him to second base, and he hurt his other shoulder in March. Arizona prep righty Ryan Castellani (Round 2) has a slender frame but a chance for three average pitches with good feel; if he has more room to put on weight than most scouts think, he could end up with an above-average or better fastball.

Sam Howard (Round 3) of Georgia Southern probably projects best in the pen, given his slight build and fringy off-speed pitches. Wes Rogers (Round 4) of Spartanburg Methodist College, a second-year JC player, is a true center fielder and good athlete overall who can run and take a pitch, with some length to his swing that may cause trouble when he reaches the higher levels of the minors. California prep third baseman Kevin Padlo (Round 5) is strong with present power despite barring his lead arm, and has the arm for third base; his swing and noisy lower half give him some trouble making consistent contact.

Redshirt sophomore Andrew Rohrbach (Round 9) was an interesting flier, a converted shortstop who threw four innings at College of the Canyons but became the Friday night starter for Long Beach State this year, throwing strikes and touching the mid-90s. He's a good candidate for a surprise spike in stuff when he gets to pro ball if he can avoid Tommy John surgery, the curse of so many position players who move to the mound.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Grant Holmes (Round 1) was one of my favorite prep pitchers in the class, a command guy who reached 98 earlier this spring but will probably sit 92-93 every fifth day, with an above-average curveball as well. He's very advanced for a high school pitcher, needing primarily to develop a third pitch but already showing the feel for pitching of a college guy. He was a top-15 talent and still available for L.A. at pick 22.

Alex Verdugo (Round 2) is a two-way player from Tucson who'll go out as a center fielder first, with the mound a backup option; he fell more than anything else due to makeup concerns, as he's a talented athlete who has a chance for a plus curveball and solid-average fastball on the mound, while he has a sound swing with an all-fields approach and should be a plus defender in right given time. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, he doesn't have physical projection left, but does have a lot of room for the development of other parts of his game, as long as he can stay on the field.

UNLV's John Richy (Round 3) was a surprise in the third round, 90-92 with good bore and an above-average changeup, but an upright finish and some head violence at release make him a reliever in the long run. Washington's Jeff Brigham (Round 4) will hit 95 regularly but isn't a strikeout guy, getting a 71 percent ground ball rate primarily with his fastball, as his off-speed stuff is fringy; he might have a Jake Westbrook ceiling if he can stay in the rotation.

Jared Walker (Round 5) has size and power but may end up in right field, and scouts questioned his makeup as well. California Baptist right-hander Trevor Oaks (Round 7) finished eighth in Division II in strikeouts, although he doesn't have an above-average pitch, changing speeds well with four average or fringe-average offerings. Stanford's A.J. Vanegas (Round 11) finally stayed healthy, more or less, and flashed mid-90s velocity, but his history of back problems pushed him out of the top 10 rounds. As a senior he needs to just sign and get out and pitch, since the $2 million-plus he turned down out of high school isn't coming back.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins landed the draft's hardest-throwing starter in Texas prep right-hander Tyler Kolek (Round 1), an enormous kid at 6-foot-6, 270-plus, who has hit 101 mph and can flash a plus slider; he needs work on all the finer points of pitching, from commanding the fastball to throwing the slider for strikes to developing any sort of changeup. It's a bet on tremendous raw material, the kind of bet that worked for them three years ago with Jose Fernandez, who was also a stuff-over-polish high school kid when drafted.

Blake Anderson (Round 1A) was the surprise pick of day one for me, not a top-five round prospect, a defense-first catcher with some pop but a below-average bat, and the history of Mississippi prep hitters in the draft is ugly. Justin Twine (Round 2) was a late riser this spring, a top high school quarterback who was committed to TCU for baseball, and probably moves off shortstop to second base in pro ball. He bars his lead arm a little but once he gets his hands started he's quick and direct to the ball, with line-drive power as well as above-average speed on the bases. He's a classic Marlins pick -- a two-sport guy with athleticism and significant offensive upside.

Arkansas second baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson (Round 3) is more of a utility guy than a starter, lacking a clear position in the infield but without the hit tool to profile at an outfield corner. Casey Soltis (Round 5) might be an outfield tweener, lacking the power for a corner but a little short defensively in center, although I think shortening his overly wide stance at the plate and allowing him to drive the ball better by transferring his weight will give him a chance to become an everyday right fielder.

Stone Garrett (Round glasses.gif might be a tough sign as a Rice commit and I don't think his bat is advanced enough for him to profile as an everyday player in left field. The Marlins took two familiar names to finish day two, Oregon State senior Ben Wetzler (Round 9) and Texas junior Dillon Peters (Round 10), both solid college lefties. Wetzler was the player suspended by the NCAA after the Phillies reported him for using the services of an agent when they drafted him last summer; he had a great senior year, with a 0.78 ERA, doing it more with feel and command as his stuff is fifth starter material. Peters is an undersized southpaw but has a curveball that should be very effective against lefties in pro ball.

Oklahoma prep righty Nick White (Round 11) comes straight over the top in his delivery, creating some head violence and putting pressure on the shoulder, but he reaches 94 with downhill plane and has good depth on a 12-to-6 curveball.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers needed a good draft to boost the majors' worst farm system, but it fell a little short for me, adding some upside, but zero probability. They rolled the dice on their first three picks, reaching for Hawaiian high school Kodi Medeiros (Round 1) with the 12th overall pick, a low-slot lefty with a plus slider and fastball up to 95 mph but with a reliever's build and delivery. I expect him to destroy hitters in the low minors, however, as they'll have a hard time picking up the ball from his arm slot.

Jacob Gatewood (Round 1A) was a solid second selection as a feast-or-famine pick, although I think it makes more sense to take a guy like Gatewood if you have a higher-probability pick already in the bank. Gatewood has 70-grade raw power but a well below-average hit tool, trying to pull everything rather than using the whole field and going for contact rather than big flies. He'll have to move off shortstop, probably to right field but with a chance for third base; if he changes his approach at the plate, and hits enough to get to that power in games, he'll profile at whatever position he plays.

Monte Harrison (Round 2) is also a low-floor, high-ceiling guy, a two-sport athlete committed to Nebraska for baseball and football who can run, throw, and hit for power, but struggled mightily against breaking stuff this spring and may be a two-year rookie ball guy. Cy Sneed (Round 3) was a reach in the third round, a mediocre starter for Dallas Baptist who lacks a plus pitch and doesn't have the command to get by without one.

Baltimore high schooler Troy Stokes (Round 4) is an undersized center fielder with a quick bat and above-average speed, although it would play better if he hit left-handed; he's expected to sign an under-slot deal. After that they took a number of college seniors and erratic Villanova reliever J.B. Kole (Round glasses.gif, all likely to save money to sign their first three picks. J.J. Schwarz (Round 17) will likely be a tough sign away from the University of Florida but was a second/third round talent as an offensive catcher, but if any of the big three fail to sign, the Brewers might turn to Schwarz as a solid fallback option.

New York Mets

The Mets nabbed the highest-floor hitter in the draft and one of its best pure bats in Michael Conforto (Round 1) of Oregon State, who was fifth in Division I with a .504 OBP this year. Conforto has an outstanding eye at the plate, of course, but his main tool is his ability to hit, with a simple, easy, yet powerful swing that generates hard line-drive contact as well as home run power. He's probably limited to left field but should be able to work himself up to average defensively.

The Mets lost their second-round pick for signing Curtis Granderson and took defensive wizard Milton Ramos (Round 3) with their second pick; he's a plus-plus defender and a plus runner but a minus bat right now, with a low load and weak hands that will have to improve for him to profile as a regular.

Eudor Garcia-Pacheco (Round 4) is a third baseman out of El Paso Community College who just turned 20 a few weeks ago; he'll move to first in pro ball but has very quick, strong hands, and power from the left side. Righty Josh Prevost (Round 5) had just 73 innings pitched in total over his first three years at Seton Hall, but threw 116 this year and walked only 20 men, sitting 91-94 with some downhill plane (you'd hope so, since he's 6-foot-glasses.gif and an above-average slider in the 79-83 mph range. Tyler Moore (Round 6) of LSU is a solid college catcher but probably a backup in the majors. Dash Winningham (Round glasses.gif can't run, which is just a shame.

Their late flier was on Iowa righty Keaton McKinney (Round 28), a strong commit to Arkansas but well worth a seven-figure bonus if the Mets have room for it, and they should have some extra coin left over given the signable guys they took after round three.

Philadelphia Phillies

It was an atypical draft for the Phillies, who usually go for upside and focus on high school players, but they went for probability this year and took college players with their first seven picks. Aaron Nola (Round 1) was the highest-floor college arm in the draft, boasting 70-grade command of a 91-93 mph fastball with two legitimate secondary pitches, only raising concerns because of a funky delivery and low three-quarters slot that reminds scouts of Chris Sale's arm action.

Cal Poly lefty Matt Imhof (Round 2) is also a high-floor, low-ceiling guy, missing a lot of bats in college with his slider and changeup but likely to have just an average fastball when he's going every fifth day. Two-way player Aaron Brown (Round 3) out of Pepperdine will apparently go out as a center fielder, where he has a plus arm and some power as a left-handed hitter, but his 52-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year is a little tough to take and I'd bet on him ending up on the mound eventually.

Arkansas' Chris Oliver (Round 4) could move very quickly as a pen guy, hitting 96 as a starter with a hard slurve, but he's still pretty slight and doesn't have an effective third pitch yet. Rhys Hoskins (Round 5) of Sacramento State is limited to first base but has an intriguing power/patience skill set, with good loft in his finish. Sam McWilliams (Round glasses.gif was their only high school pick in the top 28 rounds, which is a complete 180 from their typical draft pattern; he's a projectable 6-foot-7 right-hander from Tennessee with a rough arm action and no present breaking ball but has touched 94 and will probably find more than that as he fills out.

Austin Davis (Round 12) was a potential top three rounds pick earlier in the spring when he was hitting 95 for Cal State Bakersfield, but he couldn't hold his velocity and might go back for another year to try to get into the top five rounds.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates reached a little for Cole Tucker (Round 1), a prep shortstop from Tempe, Arizona, but I heard after day one that at least two other teams were on him in the next 15 picks, so the industry seemed to support his selection there. He's a switch-hitter with doubles power and above-average running speed, possibly staying at short but a little more likely to slide to second base, where his bat will still profile. Scouts adore his makeup and he was one of the best players at this year's NHSI event at the USA Baseball complex in Cary, North Carolina.

San Diego's Connor Joe (Round 1A) was a big overdraft, however, a college catcher who can't handle the position; he can hit and has above-average to plus power, but he has to find a position. The Bucs then took two outstanding prep arms, Mitch Keller (Round 2) from Iowa and Trey Supak (Round 2A) from Texas. Keller spiked to 90-94 this spring, doing it fairly easily from a 3/4 slot as his arm continues to speed up, and his two-plane curveball projects as plus if that happens. Supak has an outstanding delivery and great projection; he's got average stuff right now but everything works and he's going to fill out his 6-foot-5 frame. In a year when everyone's obsessing over pitcher injuries and deliveries, Supak should have gone higher.

They started day two with a pair of solid college bats, Fresno State rightfielder Jordan Luplow (Round 3) and Florida catcher Taylor Gushue (Round 4). Luplow is a disciplined hitter with above-average power, although he loads his hands low and locks his elbow slightly, something that works for a handful of big league hitters (Hunter Pence) but is more often an obstacle to making contact. Gushue looked at times like a day-one talent but never had the offensive consistency to get there; he's a switch-hitting catcher with some pop and an above-average arm, and won't turn 21 until December. He's got a chance to become an everyday backstop, which is an extremely valuable asset. Nelson Jorge (Round 7) is a flier on a good athlete with limited present baseball skills, one of the better prospects in a very weak draft year in Puerto Rico.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals seemed to build their draft around signing one player, Jack Flaherty (Round 1A), their second pick, a tough-sign high school right-hander with great present command of average stuff but some upside due to his frame and athleticism. Primarily a third baseman with major questions on the bat, Flaherty was frequently 89-93 but it's easy and fluid.

The Cards took FSU starter Luke Weaver (Round 1), a potential first-rounder coming into the year who showed reduced stuff, a 90-94 mph flat fastball, above-average changeup, and 40-grade slider; he's a competitor but the stuff is too hittable and the lack of fastball life makes him homer-prone.

Ronnie Williams (Round 2) is a a 6-foot prep righty from Florida who's mostly 90-92 and already seems to be getting the most from his lower half, with fringy off-speed stuff. Andrew Morales (Round 2A) was a possible money-saver, a senior out of UC-Irvine who can really pitch, mostly 88-93 with some arm-side run, a curveball and changeup, but effort to his delivery with some head violence that makes his above-average control a little surprising.
Loyola Marymount's Trevor Megill (Round 3) missed the year after Tommy John surgery -- I was at the start where he got hurt, allegedly leaving because he had the flu (in his elbow, apparently) -- but was a potential day-one pick had he been healthy, sitting low 90s with a 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame. He'll probably demand an over-slot bonus because he could return to Loyola Marymount as a redshirt junior next year.

Florida Atlantic lefty Austin Gomber (Round 4) rarely walks anyone, with just 15 free passes issued out of 303 batters faced, despite a goofy delivery with a big torso-turn that doesn't generate much torque from his hips. He has three average or fringe-average pitches, mostly 88-92 on the fastball, but is slightly young for his class, which the Cardinals value extremely highly. I know some teams loved Flaherty for his command, but I don't think he's a first-round talent or a $2 million-plus guy, and after he and Megill, there isn't a lot of upside in this crop.

San Diego Padres

The Padres were over the moon to get NC State shortstop Trea Turner (Round 1) with the 13th selection, a possible top-10 pick coming into the year who struggled in the first half of the season but had a strong final push, trying to shorten up his swing and make more consistent, harder contact, even hitting for some unexpected power. He's a 70-grade runner who likely stays at short but has trouble with routine plays and could end up in center field.

They then took the biggest wild card in the draft, in my view, Georgia prep outfielder Michael Gettys (Round 2), a center fielder with an 80 arm, a 70 runner with power and maybe a 30 hit tool. If the Padres can find him a consistent, shorter swing, he could become a star, but I'd put the odds on that at 10 percent or less.

Zech Lemond (Round 3) was a great value on day two, suffering from the well-deserved reputation that the Rice baseball program has for wearing out pitchers; Lemond missed a little time with an elbow injury but an MRI was clean and he came back healthy right before the draft. Lemond projects as a starter, 92-95 with a plus curveball, needing to improve his changeup and build up more innings -- safely, not the Rice way, which involved having him start the year in the pen and immediately throwing 110-plus pitches as a starter with no transition.

Cal Poly's Nick Torres (Round 4) is an aggressive hitter (i.e., he doesn't walk) with a solid right-handed swing and plus-plus raw power, profiling as a right fielder in pro ball but of course needing to work on his patience. Ryan Butler (Round 7) was 91-95, touching 97, in his first year after transferring to UNC-Charlotte, and should go directly into a pro bullpen as he doesn't have an average breaking ball. Shortstop Nick Vilter (Round 9) out of UC-Riverside was a value play; Vilter poked 10 homers in 160 at-bats this spring but missed the end of the season after breaking his hand when he was hit by a pitch. He might stay at shortstop as a fringe-average defender there, but should profile at second or third if he has to move. The Padres took promising Florida prep right Cobi Johnson (Round 35) late, but will probably see him go to Florida State this fall.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants may have landed a top-five talent in Vanderbilt right-hander Tyler Beede (Round 1), who can sit 92-95 with a plus-plus changeup and average breaking ball but whose command and makeup posed serious enough questions for him to slip into the teens. Beede's arm works well and when he maintains his composure he's very tough for hitters to face because he can change speeds so effectively and can cut or fade his changeup to give batters different looks. He has some maturing to do in pro ball but the upside of a No. 2 starter.

FIU catcher Aramis Garcia (2) was a slight reach on day one, getting a boost from the lack of catching in this draft; he's got a very clean, short stroke, not likely to hit for power given his minimal load but likely to make a ton of contact in pro ball as he did in school. He's an adequate defender, good enough to stay there but needing some work on the finer points of the position. Dylan Davis (Round 3) was the "other" Oregon State outfielder in this draft, playing right field over Michael Conforto because he has a plus arm; Davis has nearly as much power as Conforto but doesn't have the latter's patience or pitch recognition and had just the seventh-best OBP on the Beavers' roster this year.

Logan Webb (Round 4) was a pop-up guy this spring, suddenly hitting mid-90s with an easy delivery and an above-average breaking ball, and might have gone day one if he had had any track record of doing this. He's a two-sport guy, also playing quarterback for Rocklin HS, and won't turn 18 until November. Sam Coonrod (Round 5) has a huge fastball with poor command and a fringy slider, but the Giants have taken a lot of guys like this in the middle round and tried them in the bullpen in pro ball, which is Coonrod's ultimate role.

I think Stanford's Austin Slater (Round glasses.gif can really hit, and he's a better athlete than people give him credit for; if a pro coach can get him to stop his elbows from leaking forward I like his chances to hit for average with 15-20 homer power, if not more. Siena lefty Matt Gage (Round 10) can command his fastball when he's on, needing to command his off-speed stuff better. They took a late flier on right-hander Jordan Johnson (Round 23) from Cal State-Northridge, 90-94 with a rough one-piece arm action but who might be in the mid- to upper-90s in relief with good command of the fastball.

Washington Nationals

The Nats grabbed UNLV starter Erick Fedde (Round 1) at pick 18, taking advantage of his recent Tommy John surgery to land a player who was once a near-lock to go in the top 10, possibly as high as the top four. Fedde has hit 96 but sits more 90-93 with an above-average slider and athletic delivery; he's on the slight side and needs to get some more weight on him to increase his durability.

Miami's Andrew Suarez (Round 2) has huge medical concerns, with labrum surgery wiping out his freshman year. He doesn't have an above-average pitch as a starter, although he's hit 95 working on seven days' rest this year. Jakson Reetz (Round 3) can afford to buy a "c" now; he's an offensive catcher with a plus arm and good hands, which sounds kind of like a potential All-Star to me, so I was surprised he made it through day one unselected.

The Nats also took a slew of college seniors who are likely relievers, including JC right-hander Robbie Dickey (Round 4) and big Texas State right-hander Austen Williams (Round 6). Nevada first baseman Austin Byler (Round 9) has a good swing with power that may have been underrated because he plays his home games at altitude in Reno; he played third last year and wasn't awful, but he needed a lot of help with his footwork. If the Nats rack up some savings from the five seniors they took in the top 10 rounds, they might sign one of the pricey prep players they took after round 30, such as power-hitting catcher Evan Skoug (Round 34), who's committed to TCU and probably moves out from behind the plate in pro ball.

Lackey's unique contract situation.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Let’s be 100 percent clear about this: To date, the only noise about John Lackey’s very unusual contract situation is coming from the media, including me. I’ve never spoken to Lackey about this, and as far as I can tell, the pitcher hasn’t really expressed his views on a matter that isn’t close to being a front-burner issue. For all I know, he might view it as a nonissue.

But it’s a really interesting set of circumstances that will be resolved in the months ahead. Lackey’s $82.5 million deal with the Red Sox calls for him to make $500,000 next season, at a time when the 35-year-old right-hander is throwing as well as he has in any season in his career: a 3.18 ERA in 13 starts. He made the All-Star team in 2007, and he’s got a shot again in 2014.

Here’s the background on his deal with the Red Sox. In the fall of 2009, the team was coming off a season in which it had been eliminated in the first round of the postseason, and as Jason Bay walked away, Boston’s ownership was being criticized for its lack of aggressiveness. The class of free agents was generally weak, but the Red Sox targeted Lackey, the Angels’ ace, and agreed to the framework of a five-year, $82.5 million deal.

There was one problem, however. Lackey’s physical examination revealed that his elbow ligament was in tatters, and it appeared that he was destined to lose a year to Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox proposed a solution, asking that Lackey and agent Steve Hilliard build a mulligan into the deal: If Lackey missed a season, he would pitch a season for $500,000 at the back end of the contract.

This way, Lackey would get his guaranteed $82.5 million, and the Red Sox would have some protection.

In the summer of 2011, Lackey’s elbow finally gave out, and he missed the 2012 season, as anticipated.

Now Lackey is rolling, and his fastball velocity is as good as ever (averaging 91.9 mph). “He’s throwing with easy velocity,” said one rival evaluator. “He doesn’t need a lot of effort in his delivery.”

He is in excellent condition, as manager John Farrell noted last weekend, perhaps the best of his career, and if Lackey were a free agent in the fall, he might command a deal for something in the range of $45 million over three years.

But as it stands, Lackey is set to make $500,000 next season.

Back in April, ESPN had a Wednesday night broadcast in Boston, and colleagues Rick Sutcliffe, Aaron Boone and others wondered how a player who has had that much success, with that much experience, could pitch an entire season for the minimum. Something would change, Aaron said.

He may well be right.

But it doesn’t have to change, if Boston doesn’t want it to; the Red Sox are on rock-solid contractual ground. In spite of some speculation that Lackey could pitch in Japan next season, the working agreement between MLB and the Japan League would make that impossible. Players cannot simply walk out of their contractual obligations to go play in Japan, or leave Japan to play in Major League Baseball.

If a player in Lackey’s situation decided he would rather retire than pitch for the minimum, the Red Sox could simply place the player on a restricted list -- and the last year of the deal would remain in place in the event that the player changed his mind. So it’s not as if Lackey has the option of walking away from baseball until his contract runs out. He owes the Red Sox one year at $500,000.

And you know what? That’s completely fair. Everyone involved in the negotiations made the agreement with eyes wide open, understanding exactly why the $500,000 option was put in place -- to create an avenue for Lackey to be assured of his $82.5 million, and to protect the Red Sox against an elbow injury that all sides acknowledged was inevitable. Boston paid Lackey $15.25 million in 2012, the year Lackey missed, and it’s not as if the Red Sox ever thought about asking out of the deal when Lackey got injured. Boston has honored its end of the contract, fully.

There is a way for this to come out well for all sides, of course. The Red Sox could work out an extension for Lackey that covers a season or two or three, and maybe the $500,000 season of 2015 would get folded into that. With Jon Lester’s situation uncertain, it makes sense for Boston to explore it, given that Lester and Lackey are the anchors of the Red Sox rotation.

To repeat: Only in the media is Lackey’s deal an issue, because of how unique it is, at a time when salaries have never been higher.

Around the league

• On Wednesday’s podcast, Kurt Suzuki told of coming across a shark in the waters off Maui, and Tim Kurkjian and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discussed the first days of Gregory Polanco.

• The signing of Suzuki has been crucial for the Twins, writes Sid Hartman.

• Yoenis Cespedes did it again, making another incredible throw, and Oakland avoided being swept by the Angels.

Jason Hammel
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Jason Hammel has allowed just 16 walks and five homers in 78 1/3 innings this season.
• Executives who have had contact with the Cubs sense that trade talks involving their available pitching -- Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija -- are beginning to gain traction. Chicago may well follow the same strategy that it did last year, when it moved a secondary piece -- right-hander Scott Feldman -- to help open the market for a primary target, Matt Garza.

More teams seem interested in Hammel because they expect the price tag will be lower, given that Hammel is eligible for free agency in the fall. Hammel has allowed just 16 walks and five homers in 78 1/3 innings, with a 2.53 ERA, and he could theoretically be a fit for teams needing short-term rotation help like the Blue Jays, Pirates, A’s, Orioles and Marlins. Hammel struggled Wednesday.

Samardzija will be under team control through 2015, and he is viewed as the most attractive starting pitcher in the market, so far.

• The Mariners have been asking around about available power hitting, as well as starting pitching.

• The Diamondbacks lost to Houston on Wednesday night, but Arizona has won eight of its last 12 series, and split one of the other four. Since April 29, the D-Backs are 21-17 and are within 6.5 games of the second NL wild-card spot -- not exactly close, but hardly out of contention with about 3½ months to play. So the Diamondbacks intend to wait until early July, at least, before deciding whether to sell off players. Mark Trumbo has started taking batting practice and is due to rejoin Arizona from the disabled list soon.

• If the Diamondbacks ever decide to move payroll, scouts with other teams have expressed interest in outfielder Gerardo Parra, who is making $4.85 million this year but is arbitration-eligible for 2015 and could be a free agent after next season.

• Trevor Cahill is likely to accept his assignment to the minors and prepare for an eventual return to the starting rotation, writes Nick Piecoro.

• Adam Wainwright has an unspecified elbow issue.

• The Nationals have shut down the Giants this week in the first three games of a series in San Francisco. On Wednesday, Matt Cain struggled to throw strikes, as Henry Schulman writes.

• For now, the Giants will leave a top infield prospect in the minors.

• Tanner Roark dominated. Ryan Zimmerman made a couple of good plays: here’s No. 1, and here’s No. 2.

• Masahiro Tanaka continues to justify the Yankees’ investment in him: He shut down the Mariners. New York is 11-2 in his starts.

• Hanley Ramirez has a shoulder issue. He is eligible for free agency in the fall, and this is not going well for him so far. From Dylan Hernandez’s story:
He has not been on the disabled list this season, but he did not make one start because of a bruised thumb and three more because of a sore calf. Those injuries were not considered major, and neither is this one, but the cumulative effect could be hard for the Dodgers to escape.

"Everything happens for a reason," Ramirez said. "We're playing well. Nothing negative right now."

Ramirez said he is not worried about what effect any injury might have on the likelihood of negotiating a new contract with the Dodgers.

"Contract," he scoffed, drawing out the syllables and rolling his eyes. "I don't care about that. I'm just focused on winning right now."

Mattingly said he does not feel any pressure in trying to balance the need of his team to field a healthy starting nine and the need of Ramirez to get in the lineup and produce.

"I don't worry about the other stuff," Mattingly said. "We're trying to win games, simple as that.

"You always want to protect the player. If they're banged up, we try and protect them. We don't want anybody to go out there at half-speed. I can't worry about contracts."

• Matt Kemp was ejected from Wednesday’s loss, as Bill Plunkett writes.

• As of this morning, four AL Central teams have 33 victories, and the other has 31. In other words: Gentlemen, start your engines.

• Justin Verlander lost again. Brad Ausmus sounded annoyed, as Tom Gage writes.

• The Royals completed a sweep, moving over .500. Mike Moustakas has been hitting better, writes Andy McCullough. The Indians had a sluggish loss.

• Johnny Cueto has been the best pitcher in the National League so far, and he dominated the Dodgers.

These are Cueto’s current major league rankings:

ERA, 1.85: 1st
WHIP, 0.77: 1st (Adam Wainwright is second, at 0.93)
Opponents’ average, .160: 1st
Opponents’ OPS, .479: 1st (Wainwright is second, .539)

Cueto has allowed a total of 26 runs in 14 starts this season, and a lot of those have come on home runs. But even with homers, he’s limited damage: Of the eight homers he’s surrendered, six have been solo shots, with two two-run homers.

When hitters have reached two strikes against him, they have had almost no success in digging themselves out.

When at-bats end on pitches with a 0-2 count: 4-for-29, 1 double, 15 strikeouts.
1-2 count: 7-for-65, two doubles, 37 strikeouts.
2-2 count: 3-for-60, 37 strikeouts.
3-2 counts: 8-for-44, 1 double, 2 homers, 13 walks, 20 strikeouts.
The totals: 22-for-198, 4 doubles, 2 homers, 13 walks, 109 strikeouts.

From ESPN Stats & Information, how Cueto shut down the Dodgers

A. He allowed a season-low eight balls in play.

B. He threw 32 fastballs up in the zone for 18 strikes without allowing any to be put into play. Has now thrown 71 fastballs up in the zone over his last three starts and only two have been put into play (both were outs).

C. He tied a season-high with 12 strikeouts, five via changeup (also a season-high), and all five of those were swing-and-misses.

D. He had just 13 called strikes (second-fewest for him this season) thanks to a season-high 54.5 percent swing percentage.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Manny Machado is not expected to drop his appeal of his suspension, writes Roch Kubatko; rather, he hopes the suspension will be reduced to three or four games.

2. Kevin Pillar was returned to the minors.

3. Ben Cherington is owning the Stephen Drew deal.

4. The Red Sox signed Andres Torres.

5. The Cubs signed their No. 1 pick.

6. Andrew Heaney is about to join the Marlins.

7. The Rays signed their first-round pick.

Dings and dents

1. Francisco Liriano was placed on the disabled list. The Pirates are scrambling, writes Gene Collier.

2. Cliff Lee took a small step in the rehab process.

3. Carlos Gonzalez could be out five weeks, writes Patrick Saunders.

4. Chad Billingsley has been shut down.

5. Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

6. The Yankees activated Shawn Kelley.

7. Tanner Scheppers is headed to the disabled list.

Wednesday’s games

1. The Jays’ offense continues to be flat.

2. Tyler Matzek boosted the Rockies for a night.

3. Reid Brignac walked it off.

4. Wei-Yin Chen won, shutting down the Red Sox.

5. Wily Peralta was back on track.

6. Julio Teheran had a rough start against the Rockies, and Atlanta fell out of first place.

7. Dallas Keuchel continues to mesmerize, as Jesus Ortiz writes.

8. The Rays ended their losing streak.

AL West

Yu Darvish
AP Photo/LM Otero
Texas starter Yu Darvish threw his first career complete game on Wednesday against Miami.
• Yu Darvish's short-term success could be a big-picture problem for Texas, writes Evan Grant.

From ESPN Stats & Info, how Darvish dominated the Marlins:

A. He had his first career complete game and shutout in his 73rd start, after five previous career scoreless outings with at least eight innings pitched.

B. He allowed only one runner to reach second base (Christian Yelich led off the first inning with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch).

C. He threw 28.2 percent of his pitches inside, his second-highest inside rate of the season.

D. He mixed up his pitches; 46 percent of his pitches were fastballs, the first time in four games he was below 56 percent fastballs.

E. Seven of his 10 strikeouts (70 percent) came on a splitter or cutter, up from his season rate of 51 percent on those pitches.

F. He held the Marlins hitless in 12 at-bats with men on base. He had allowed a .206 BA with runners on base in his first 11 games.

• The Angels may have benefited from a bad road trip, writes Jim Peltz.

AL Central

• Phil Coke is shocked by rumors he wants out of Detroit.

• Catching runs in the family of one player drafted by the Tigers.

• The Indians’ play has taken pressure off Jason Kipnis.

• The Twins have dominated AL East teams, as La Velle Neal writes.

• Jose Abreu did it again, and the White Sox won.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Abreu hit his 19th home run in his 52nd career game. Since 1900, only Wally Berger hit more, 20, through his first 52 career games with the 1930 Boston Braves.

• Robin Ventura talked about how teams are pitching to Abreu.

AL East

• From the Elias Sports Bureau: Derek Jeter stole his 350th and 351st career bases to join Craig Biggio and Rickey Henderson as the only players in MLB history with 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 steals. It was Jeter’s first multi-stolen base game since Sept. 25, 2009 (against the Red Sox) and the 22nd of his career.

NL West

• Tyson Ross had a strong start, but the Padres lost.

NL Central

• The Cardinals are stacking up shortstops in their organization.

• Here is a true sign of how fatigued Yadier Molina has been, from Bernie Miklasz.

• Bob Nutting is worried that the hype might be too much for Gregory Polanco.

• The Brewers are sticking with Scooter Gennett in the leadoff spot, writes Todd Rosiak.

• The Cubs' prospects aren’t going to be here anytime soon, writes Rick Morrissey.

NL East

• The Mets have reached the intersection of patience and expectation, writes Tyler Kepner.

• Terry Collins won’t be around for long, writes Joel Sherman.

• Evan Gattis’ defense has improved, as David O’Brien writes.

• The Marlins have refused to fold, writes Craig Davis.


• Lew Wolff revealed his team’s lease details, as Mark Purdy writes.

• Tony Gwynn received his extension, writes Kirk Kenney.

• Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons wants umpires to be able to review whether batters allow themselves to be hit by pitches.

• Noah Trister writes about the upside and downside of headfirst slides.

• Vanderbilt is off to Omaha.

And today will be better than yesterday.

MLB's illogical discipline system.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A lot of National Football League teams use point systems to help with decisions in certain on-the-fly situations, so they can keep everything straight. After touchdowns, head coaches and assistants often rely on a chart to determine when it's appropriate to kick an extra point or attempt a two-point conversion, within the context of the score and time remaining. During the NFL draft, general managers use predetermined value metrics to assess what they should give or receive in a trade for a particular draft pick.

This way, the coach or the club executives have a menu to draw from, like a kid in math class determining the area of a rectangle or the diameter of a circle. This way, their choices make more sense.
This sort of problem-solving seems especially relevant in the aftermath of the discipline rendered in the cases of Manny Machado and Fernando Abad on Tuesday, which, like other recent choices, appear to have been pulled off a spinning wheel of fortune. You don't know exactly what decision will pop up.

On May 30, Rays starter David Price drilled Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in the first inning, on the first pitch of the at-bat, and plate umpire Dan Bellino saw sufficient intent in the pitch -- and why not, given the Hatfields and McCoys history between these two teams -- to issue a warning to both teams.

In the fourth inning, A.J. Pierzynski doubled with two outs, leaving first base open, and Price hit Mike Carp with his very next pitch. Price was not ejected.

Then, in the top of the sixth inning, Boston starter Brandon Workman threw a shoulder-high pitch that was a couple of feet behind Evan Longoria, a clear message. Although Workman didn't actually come close to hitting Longoria, he was ejected.

When the discipline came down, Price -- who had hit two batters and had drawn enough suspicion that he caused a warning for both teams -- was fined but not suspended. But Workman was suspended for six games, despite hitting nobody.

Are you following the bouncing ball? Because it's about to get really crazy.

In the eighth inning of Sunday's game between the Orioles and Athletics, Manny Machado -- who had raised the ire of Oakland players repeatedly over the three-game series -- came to bat against Fernando Abad. Two innings before, Machado had whacked Derek Norris in the helmet with his backswing and then not expressed concern to their satisfaction.

The Oakland reliever appeared to try to hit Machado with his first pitch, low and inside, and since Abad missed on the first pitch, he tried again -- and missed again. Machado then threw his bat, which tumbled beyond third base.

Now, a lot of folks in the sport will tell you in a private moment that they fear incidents involving a bat more than they fear a hit batsmen, because the last thing in the world they want are hitters reflexively deciding, in a moment of anger, that it's OK to use a bat as a weapon. They cringe at the thought of an enraged hitter bashing a catcher over the head, the way Juan Marichal did many years ago in the midst of a Dodgers-Giants pennant race, or running out to the mound and going all Paul Bunyan on a pitcher.

On Tuesday, Machado was suspended for five games, or half of what Michael Pineda got for using pine tar in his effort to control the baseball and not hit somebody in the head, as Pineda explained. Abad -- who had twice tried to hit Machado and missed and was ejected after Machado fired his bat -- was fined.

To review:

• Price, a starting pitcher, generated a warning for both teams by hitting one batter and then drilled another, but was not ejected. He was merely fined.

• Abad, a reliever, twice tried to hit Machado but missed down by his legs, and was ejected only after Machado reacted. Abad was merely fined.

• Machado, an every-day player, committed perhaps the most egregious act, throwing his bat. He got five games.

• Workman, a starting pitcher, threw behind Longoria but hit nobody, after a warning. Workman was suspended for six games.

• Pineda, who didn't come close to hurting anyone, got 10 games.

If you're struggling to find the threads of logic in this, just hang on, because we're going to make this really complicated.

In April 2013, Carlos Quentin -- a position player -- got nailed with an eight-game suspension for charging the mound after being hit by a pitch from Zack Greinke.

Last August, Ryan Dempster threw behind Alex Rodriguez and then subsequently drilled him. He was not ejected. Dempster was suspended for five games, one less than what Workman got.

Last summer, Tigers starter Rick Porcello got a six-game suspension for drilling the Rays' Ben Zobrist in a retaliation situation, after Miguel Cabrera was dusted.

A year ago today, Ian Kennedy -- clearly retaliating -- hit Greinke on his head and got 10 games.

Price smoked two hitters in the midst of a game in which he was deemed to have had intent, but he wasn't suspended. Dempster treated Rodriguez like he was a pin cushion and got five games. Workman hit nobody and got six games. Machado fired his bat after he wasn't hit and got five games, or three games less than Quentin, who charged the mound after he was hit by a pitch. Kennedy was zapped with 10 games.

If you're confused, you're not alone; players, club executives and agents gripe about what they perceive to be a constantly shifting landscape of penalties. Based on all that precedent, would you blame a player if he was confused about the standards of discipline? Would you blame players for appealing, because they really have no idea what the heck constitutes grounds for a suspension?

Major League Baseball should start thinking about developing a formula, just as NFL general managers have in trading draft picks, in which point values are assigned, on a graduated scale, for each of the following offenses (plus others).

1. Prompting an umpires' warning with a pitch.
2. Hitting a batter with what is deemed to be intent.
3. Throwing a pitch that doesn't hit a batter but is deemed to have been fired with intent (like those of Workman or Abad).
4. Charging the mound.
5. Acting aggressively in a fight.
6. Using a bat in an aggressive manner.

It seems kind of ridiculous that a pitcher who intentionally drills a batter before a warning receives less of a sanction than a pitcher who does so after a warning. What's most dangerous is the act of hitting a batter, not the timing of it. Why would Dempster – who clearly threw at Rodriguez over and over and smoked him – get less of a suspension than Workman, who hit nobody?

Maybe it's time for Major League Baseball to move away from trying to assess the quality of the attempt to hit a batter, because it seems that league officials have worked themselves into a murky morass. MLB believes that Abad tried to hit Machado, but because he threw at the hitter's legs, he got nothing -- and Porcello got six games for hitting a batter higher in the body? Does MLB really want to define the right way and the wrong way to drill a batter on purpose? Or would it be better to say simply: Throwing at a batter intentionally won't be tolerated.

Maybe it's time for MLB to make it very clear that using a bat in an aggressive manner will not be tolerated.

Maybe it's time for MLB and the union to review and reset and redefine what the penalties will be. The decisions have fallen off the logic cliff, and this stuff is way too important for that kind of uncertainty.

Around the league

The Orioles are hoping that Manny Machado has learned from his wake-up call, writes Peter Schmuck. Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette was forceful in his assessment of Machado. From Dan Connolly's story:
“Actually I said that the kid established himself as a big leaguer last year. He needs to make a living at the big league level, and if he can't, it's an option to send him to the minors,” Duquette said. “I think Manny needs to re-establish himself as a big leaguer this season. And I hope he can do it and it is with us.”

Machado has initially appealed the suspension -- though the appeal could be dropped before a potential hearing next week. And Duquette stressed that Machado must serve the suspension in the majors, so a minor league demotion is not impending.

Duquette also pointed out that “any player who has options can be optioned to the minor leagues. Any player.”

Still, it would be a huge surprise, and obviously would have an intended message, if Machado was moved off the Orioles' 25-man roster. He made the American League All-Star team last year and won a Platinum Glove as the AL's best defender.

The Orioles tried to control Machado's apology but it was a misfire, writes John Shea.

• Yoenis Cespedes' incredible throw Tuesday night reminds me of the throw that Vladimir Guerrero made against the Mets in 1997.

The Angels beat Oakland again, with a walk-off, as Susan Slusser writes.

• On Tuesday's podcast, Twins assistant GM Rob Antony discussed the signing of Kendrys Morales, and Jayson Stark talked about Gregory Polanco. On Monday, Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt recalled some cool stories from his career, including his memorable reaction to his 500th homer.

• Polanco made his debut and got his first hit, but the Pirates lost, and lost pitcher Francisco Liriano.

Just let the kid play, writes Dejan Kovacevic.

• The Nationals' run of starting pitching continues: Doug Fister shut down the Giants, the night after Stephen Strasburg did. From Adam Kilgore's story:
In a 2012 World Series rematch, Doug Fister outdueled Madison Bumgarner with seven scoreless innings that continued the Nationals' remarkable run of starting pitching. Werth both drove home the eventual deciding run with an RBI single in the fifth inning and prevented a run by throwing out Pablo Sandoval at the plate to end the sixth. Two of the best teams in the National League stood eye to eye all night, and the Nationals prevailed.

“That,” utility man Kevin Frandsen said, “was awesome.”

Despite seven big, fat zeroes on the scoreboard, Fister worked hard for his fifth win. He yielded eight hits and constantly worked his way out of trouble, sometimes with the help of his defense. In the sixth, with the Nationals holding a 2-0 lead, Sandoval led off with a double. Fister recorded the next two outs.

• Michael Cuddyer suffered an X Games type of injury.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Phillies should wait to trade Cliff Lee, writes David Murphy. They really don't have any choice, because other teams won't deal for him until they're convinced he's healthy.

2. The Diamondbacks need to figure out what happened with the Trevor Cahill trade, writes Nick Piecoro.

3. Tony Gwynn is expected to get a contract extension with San Diego State.

4. Jason Lane returned to Triple-A.

Dings and dents

1. Wilson Ramos left the game.

2. A Rockies pitcher has a shoulder issue.

Tuesday's games

1. Workman had a strong outing against the Orioles. From ESPN Stats & Info, how he won:

A. The Orioles chased 50 percent of his curveballs, the highest percentage in Workman's career.
B. He got seven outs with his curveball (six in his other three starts combined).
C. 76.5 percent of his curveballs were strikes (career high).

2. Josh Beckett was dominant against the Reds.

3. Derek Jeter started a couple of rallies.

4. The Rays have been shut out in three straight games. From Marc Topkin's story:
With Tuesday's 1-0 loss to the Cardinals, these Rays, the ones with the franchise-record $80 million payroll and World Series expectations, faltered to a new level of futility, a third consecutive shutout running their scoreless streak to a franchise-record 28 innings, two more than Hal McRae's 2002 bunch stumbled to in April.

"It's baffling in some regards," manager Joe Maddon said. "I've been through this before ... but not with this group of names. It's more difficult with this group of names. They're good names."
To get there, the Rays (24-42) were blanked for a third straight time (the first time in their history and the first American League team to do so in 10 years) and 10th time this season (tied for most in the majors), wasting a strong start by Jake Odorizzi.

Overall, it was the majors-worst Rays' 14th loss in a 15-game stretch in which they've scored 35 runs, hit .266 and gone 10-for-101 with runners in scoring position.

5. The Royals are back to .500.

NL East

• From ESPN Stats & Info: Jonathan Papelbon recorded the 300th save of his career. He has the third-most saves among active pitchers, trailing Joe Nathan (354) and Francisco Rodriguez (323). Papelbon also moved into a tie for 24th all-time with Bruce Sutter and Jason Isringhausen.

NL Central

• From ESPN Stats & Info: Anthony Rizzo homered off Francisco Liriano on Tuesday. This continues Rizzo's huge improvement against left-handed pitchers compared to 2013. He had a .625 OPS with 7 homers against southpaws last year, and those numbers are at 1.069 and 5 this year.

NL West

• Troy Tulowitzki stood up in defense of his teammates.

• Paul Goldschmidt remains steady.

• The Giants have a losing streak.

AL East

• Will Middlebrooks wants to have a place with the Red Sox.

AL Central

• From ESPN Stats & Info: Brian Dozier hit homers in consecutive games for the third time this year. He has 14 homers this season; he didn't hit his 14th homer last season until Aug. 29 (finished with 18).

AL West

• Gerry Fraley explained why this isn't a lost season for the Rangers.


• The news about Bob Welch is so sad.

• Here was Welch's best moment on the field, in Game 2 of the 1978 World Series. Dave Stewart is speechless.

• Steve Dilbeck remembers Welch.

And today will be better than yesterday.
post #22927 of 72837
Thread Starter 
Yoenis Cespedes’ Run-Saving Right Arm.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Yoenis Cespedes‘ defense currently ranks third in the MLB, according to UZR/150. Here’s how the third-most valuable fielder in baseball sometimes likes to play routine outfield grounders:

How in the world is this guy third-best defensively in anything? Because this is how he makes up for those gaffes:


Those throws happened in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Cespedes is now the league leader in outfield assists, with nine. Nobody else in the MLB even has eight. What’s more impressive is that eight of Cespedes’ nine outfield assists have come in the last three weeks. Yoenis Cespedes has more outfield assists in the last three weeks than any other outfielder has all year.

And four of them have come against the Angels. They’ve had enough:

Ok Cespedes. We get it. You have an arm. #Angels

— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 11, 2014

Although it took Cespedes until the middle of May to register an outfield assist, his strong arm should not come as a surprise to anyone. Looking back through scouting reports from 2012 when Cespedes defected from Cuba, you can see the arm strength repeatedly touted as one of his best tools:

From Baseball Prospect Nation:

Shows solid arm strength that could support right field. Can take a while to get rid of the ball and will need to quicken release and improve accuracy. Might be a half tick better than average. Grade – 50/50

And from Baseball America:

Cespedes has a 60 arm, which would be a weapon in center field and plenty to play right field if he loses a step or for a team that wants to sign him but already has a plus defensive center fielder. His arm stroke isn’t fluid, as it’s shorter than most outfielders and gives his throwing mechanics some funkiness. Regardless of how he does it, his throws have plenty of carry and scouts have generally been pleased with his accuracy.

“I don’t care how it looks,” said one scout, “as long as it gets there and gets guys out.”

Well, it’s getting there, and it’s getting guys out.

As previously mentioned, Cespedes is third in the MLB in UZR/150, trailing only Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward, with an outlandish total of 30.1. For reference, Manny Machado‘s amazing 2013 defensive rookie campaign carried a UZR/150 of 31.8. Cespedes has already amassed more defensive value in left field this season (6.2 UZR) than he did his first two seasons combined (4.4 UZR). And it’s come almost entirely from his arm.

Ultimate Zone Rating consists of three defensive components for grading outfielders. A range component, an error component, and an arm component. Take a look at how Cespedes has graded out this season:

Player Range Error Arm UZR
Yoenis Cespedes 1.1 -0.4 5.5 6.2
Cespedes’ range has been slightly above average. The same scouts who lauded Cespedes for his arm also mentioned that he takes less-than-optimal routes but that his speed helps make up for it. His one fielding error puts him just slightly below average and it’s obvious in the first two GIFs leading this piece that Cespedes can be a bit clumsy in the field. But, like his speed making up for his route running, his arm strength can make up for his misplays in the field. His arm alone has already been worth five and a half runs this season, tops in the league and equal to over half a win in WAR.

So, how else, other than those two throws against the Angels, has Cespedes accumulated his basically arm-only top-three UZR total?

To the GIFs!

5/14 – Gordon Beckham

The tomfoolery begins with a little help from Eric Sogard. This is the only one of Cespedes’ nine outfield assists in which a relay throw was necessary. Conor Gillaspie smacks a two-out double off the wall in left field. Beckham tries to score from first to tie the game, but Cespedes plays his home wall in Oakland perfectly and delivers a dart to Sogard, who in turn delivers a dart to catcher Derek Norris. One down.

5/23 – Brett Lawrie

Lawrie leads off the fourth inning with a single down the left field line. Cespedes actually takes a pretty clean route to this ball, but the most impressive thing is his plant. Cespedes saves himself a split second – the difference here between Lawrie being safe and out – with an efficient one-step plant and throw. He puts it right on target to second base and Nick Punto makes a nice tag to erase Lawrie’s leadoff hit.

5/25 – Jose Reyes

Two days later, in the same series against Toronto, Cespedes guns down one of the fastest players in the MLB in Jose Reyes. The bases are loaded with no outs here and Jose Bautista singles to left field. One run already scores on the hit and Edwin Encarnacion is on deck. Jose Reyes really has no incentive to test Cespedes’ arm, but does so anyway. Mistake.

5/28 – Miguel Cabrera

Here’s Miguel Cabrera, decidedly not one of the fastest players in the MLB. Cespedes tries to play the bounce off the fence, but instead the ball dies when it hits the wall. Cespedes makes up for this by barehanding it, saving himself a split second in the process. He hits Sogard on one bounce and nails Cabrera.

There were two outs in the top of the ninth inning when this happened. Cabrera tested Cespedes’ arm for the sake of potentially manufacturing an insurance run. Instead, he failed and the inning was over. Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and the Athletics won.

5/31 – Chris Iannetta

Here’s where things really start to get interesting for Yoenis Cespedes. This is his fourth outfield assist in eight days. The score was tied 0-0 with no outs in the top of the second. Again, I’m not sure why Cespedes’ opponent tried to test his arm so early in the game with no outs. Had Iannetta stayed at third, the bases would have been loaded with the top of the Angels order coming up and no outs. Instead, Iannetta went for it and didn’t get it.

Pay attention to the date, score, and more specifically, the inning of this next clip.

5/31 - Kole Calhoun

Yup. Yoenis Cespedes’ fifth outfield assist in eight days was also his second in three batters. This one makes a little more sense, given there were two outs, but the circumstances don’t matter. Test Yoenis Cespedes and you lose.

The Angels sent five batters to the plate this inning. Four singled, one struck out. Nobody scored, thanks to Yoenis Cespedes. As Mark Simon of ESPN pointed out, Cespedes was worth five Defensive Runs Saved in this game alone. Only 13 outfielders have accumulated more than five DRS all year.

6/6 – Chris Davis

Something must have been wrong with Yoenis Cespedes. He nearly went a whole week without an outfield assist! One thing worth noting in all of this: Cespedes’ teammates have done a great job helping him out with athletic tags.

There with two outs in the bottom of the eighth here and the score was tied 3-3. When you consider the situation, it’s not a bad idea for Davis to try to stretch this single. When you consider who’s playing left field, it starts to become a bad idea.

Yoenis Cespedes has been one of the most valuable defensive outfielders in baseball this season. Let me rephrase that: Yoenis Cespedes’ right arm has been one of the most valuable defensive outfielders in baseball this season. He has gunned nine runners on the basepaths. Five have come at home plate. He has more outfield assists in the last three weeks than any other player has all season.

The Angels and their Twitter account may have had enough of him, but the rest of us surely haven’t. Keep on firing, Yoenis.

Baseball’s Biggest Over- and Underachievers, by Position.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Take a look at this. That’s a breakdown of projected WAR, by position, for every team in baseball between now and the end of the year. Click some of the column headers to learn things that you didn’t need to learn. The Angels project to be best in center field! The Rockies project to be best at shortstop! The Mets project to be a bad team! It’s a neat page, and it’s a page that is constantly updating, based on a variety of inputs.

It’s also a page that existed before the season, the data being the same data that showed up in our 2014 Positional Power Rankings. At one point, we had projected full-season WAR by position for everybody, based on the projections and the depth charts. Now that it’s the middle of June those preseason projections mean only so much, but I thought it could be informative to compare actual positional WAR to projected positional WAR, over the fraction of the season that’s in the books. At 18 different positions, we can already observe teams who are off from their preseason projection by at least two wins. At two positions, there’s a difference of at least three wins. Let’s take a quick look at all of these over- and underachievers.

An example calculation: the Mariners were projected for 4.8 second-base WAR. They’ve played 65 games, so 4.8 * (65/162) comes out to about 1.9. The Mariners have actually produced, to this point, 1.3 second-base WAR, yielding a difference of -0.6. Hopefully that all makes sense. On now to the list.

Astros Rotation, +3.4 WAR

This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Before the year, the Astros were projected to have the worst rotation in baseball, which made sense, given that the Astros were assumed to be one of the worst teams in baseball. By this point, the projections figured the Astros would have about 2.0 starting-pitcher WAR. In truth, they’re at 5.4 as a team, and Scott Feldman hasn’t even been particularly good. This is mostly about the emergence of Dallas Keuchel. Collin McHugh, also, has been an enormous surprise, and Jarred Cosart is pitching more competently than you might’ve thought. The Astros’ staff right now ranks in baseball’s upper-third, and this is why the Astros’ rebuild might be a little ahead of schedule.

Cubs Rotation, +3.0 WAR

Six pitchers have started for the Cubs, and one has posted an FIP over 4, and he’s done so by all of nine points. Jeff Samardzija was going to be good, presumably, but the rest were all question marks. Jason Hammel has fulfilled the Cubs’ wishes by pitching at the level he pitched at the last time he was good and healthy. Edwin Jackson has been better than his ERA, and Jake Arrieta has shown a good deal of promise. This could be something of a wreck come the season’s second half, but to date, this has been a true plus.

A’s Left Field, +2.6 WAR

This isn’t entirely because of Yoenis Cespedes‘ arm, but if I said it were, some of you might believe me, given the recency bias. In truth, a chunk of this is just Brandon Moss playing left field when he’s hit some of his dingers, but Cespedes has also improved, and the A’s, of course, have been an overall terror.

Rockies Center Field, +2.3 WAR

You want to say it’s Charlie Blackmon, right? Some of it is Charlie Blackmon, sure. But Drew Stubbs, also, has batted .328 as a center fielder. And in Corey Dickerson‘s 34 plate appearances while playing center, he’s knocked 15 hits and five dingers. There’s been incredible depth, at a position that was up in the air as recently as March. The Rockies are playing without Carlos Gonzalez, and they have the personnel to survive.

Rockies Shortstop, +2.2 WAR

The Rockies were already projected to be baseball’s best at short, but Troy Tulowitzki has elected to keep himself healthy and elevate his game somehow. It seems to me, Tulowitzki has been the guy closest to Mike Trout in true talent. It was always just a matter of not ending up on the disabled list, and, so far, good news. A healthy Tulowitzki is one of the all-time greats.

Braves Rotation, +2.2 WAR

Back in March, the Braves were mourning the loss of both Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen. They were projected for a rotation FIP of 3.92. Right now they have a rotation FIP of 3.41, because Ervin Santana learned a changeup and Aaron Harang learned magic. They haven’t even been able to find much room for Alex Wood, who was awesome over seven starts. Minus two good starters, the Braves still have too many capable starters.

Brewers Catcher, +2.1 WAR

Three straight years, Jonathan Lucroy has dropped his strikeout rate. Three straight years, Lucroy has increased his walk rate. His power has been steady, and a couple years ago, he posted a 137 wRC+. Right now he’s at 154. Over the winter, there was talk that Lucroy was baseball’s most underrated player. The argument’s only been strengthened, as he’s an unknown player who’s also performed like an MVP candidate. Friday he turns just 28.

Twins Second Base, +2.0 WAR

Here, the team was projected for 1.4 WAR. Brian Dozier has already almost doubled that. Dozier, see, is a good player, who the projections thought was not a good player. That’s why this difference exists.

Marlins Right Field, +2.0 WAR

What the projections didn’t understand was that, last season, Giancarlo Stanton was hampered by lower-body problems. This year he’s healthy and he’s hitting like he’s hit before, with quality defense to boot. And because of his health, he’s barely missed any time, meaning the Marlins haven’t had to turn to Reed Johnson as a substitute. Stanton is one of the major reasons why the Marlins haven’t yet flopped in the absence of Jose Fernandez. They’re down 50% of their superstars, but the 50% remaining is one hell of a superstar.

Angels Rotation, +2.0 WAR

One thing the projections didn’t know was that Tyler Skaggs would get his old velocity back. Another thing the projections didn’t know was that Garrett Richards was going to break out. Richards was always an interesting breakout candidate, but you can never project one of those safely. Doesn’t mean they don’t happen, though. Richards alone has made this rotation acceptable.

Rangers First Base, -2.0 WAR

And now we flip to the other side. Turns out the projections assumed the Rangers would have a healthy Prince Fielder. Fielder got hurt, played hurt, and ended up sidelined, hurt. His replacement is now also hurt. Everybody on the Rangers is hurt. Which makes the fans hurt. Everything hurts.

Orioles Third Base, -2.1 WAR

It’s not amazing that the Orioles are hanging around in the race. What’s amazing is how they’re doing it. Chris Davis has taken a major step back, Matt Wieters might not play the rest of the season, Manny Machado has been a mess, and Ubaldo Jimenez has regressed. Oh, Chris Tillman, also, has struggled. This is mostly about Machado and his .266 wOBA. There’s talk the Orioles might even elect to demote him, and as insane as that seems, is it insane, really? Is it really?

Pirates Rotation, -2.1 WAR

It’s good to be rid of Wandy Rodriguez, but Francisco Liriano has gotten worse and Gerrit Cole has gotten himself sidelined. Edinson Volquez has been a problem despite seemingly taking a step or two forward, and what we’re left with is a starting rotation that simply doesn’t look good enough to carry a team to October. You never know when Liriano might figure everything out again, but then, you also never know when he might un-figure it out, afterward.

Nationals Left Field, -2.2 WAR

Bryce Harper wasn’t real good when he played, and then he stopped playing. This wasn’t supposed to be about Nate McLouth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Kevin Frandsen. Harper will be back, but his absence has helped to keep the Nationals from pulling away.

Phillies Left Field, -2.2 WAR

The one thing no one ever questioned was Domonic Brown‘s power. He had plenty of other question marks, but the power was legit. Thought experiment: take Domonic Brown, and then take away his power. And then bat him a few hundred times. And by “thought experiment”, I mean “this is what the Phillies have had to deal with.”

Red Sox Right Field, -2.3 WAR

Instead of playing a lot of Shane Victorino, they’ve been without Victorino, and they’ve had to put up with lousy performances from Daniel Nava and Grady Sizemore. Red Sox right fielders have combined to post a 48 wRC+. They’ve been good for a .248 wOBA, off from the preseason projection by 81 points. At least the defense has been also not good.

Padres Second Base, -2.7 WAR

At the start of the year, Jedd Gyorko signed a six-year contract extension. Since then, he has performed like the worst regular or semi-regular player in baseball. One season ago, he would’ve been a Rookie of the Year candidate in a league with fewer rookie superstars. Now Gyorko is the guy helping to keep some of the attention away from the similarly mysterious Chase Headley. Yonder Alonso can’t hit either. The Padres are depressing.

Rockies Rotation, -2.7 WAR

What’s gone well for the Rockies, for the most part, has been stuff with the group of position players. The rotation, though, is being out-WAR’d by Corey Kluber. A whole lot of that has to do with the number of fly balls leaving the yard, but it’s also been a problem that Brett Anderson‘s barely pitched. Not that he’s a guy the Rockies should’ve been counting on, but the projections sure like him when he’s able to stand on a mound. Jordan Lyles has kept this rotation afloat, which is not what anyone would’ve wanted to hear about the group. Jhoulys Chacin needs to be better. I see he just today turned in a solid start, but I’m going to need more convincing.

A Brief wOBA Allowed Leaderboard.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In the research for the piece I just posted on Johnny Cueto, I ended up with a treasure trove of data on pitch type outcomes during the PITCHF/x era. It is really fun information, and so I figured I’d share a few tidbits here that don’t necessarily lend themselves to an entire post. This post is basically just a list of interesting numbers without any commentary. Enjoy!

First, here are the 10 lowest wOBAs allowed for all pitch types for starting pitchers in 2014, setting a minimum of 100 pitches thrown for each pitch type.

Pitcher Pitch wOBA
Julio Teheran Change-Up 0.059
Collin McHugh Curveball 0.093
Julio Teheran Curveball 0.099
Chris Sale Slider 0.100
Gio Gonzalez Curveball 0.123
Josh Beckett Curveball 0.128
Hisashi Iwakuma Splitter 0.131
Corey Kluber Curveball 0.131
Masahiro Tanaka Slider 0.133
Masahiro Tanaka Splitter 0.140
Keep in mind that there’s a huge selection bias here, in that breaking balls and off-speed pitches get thrown primarily in pitcher’s counts, when the expected wOBA is much lower. So, you don’t want to say that Colin McHugh’s curveball is the second best pitch in baseball. It’s not. But it’s been a pretty fantastic out-pitch so far this year.

And now, the laggards, though we’ll only do bottom five in order to limit our the amount of public shaming.

Pitcher Pitch wOBA
Sergio Santos Four-Seam 0.639
Edward Mujica Four-Seam 0.617
Sean Marshall Slider 0.602
Jhoulys Chacin Four-Seam 0.596
Eric Stults Curveball 0.592
Maybe time to mix it up or just try something else entirely, boys.

Johnny Cueto’s Unhittable Fastball.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Last night, Johnny Cueto dominated the Dodgers, punching out 12 batters in just six shutout innings. This wasn’t anything new, though; Cueto has been destroying opposing hitters all season long. Hitters are batting just .158/.218/.261 against him this year, good for a pitiful .217 wOBA, and he’s the easy early frontrunner for the NL Cy Young Award.

Cueto has been very good before, but this year, he’s taking things to another level. His 28% strikeout rate is nine percentage points higher than his career average, and seven percentage points better than his career-best, posted last year. Last night was his fourth start of the season in which he punched out 10 or more batters; he’d only done that three times in his entire career prior to 2014. Cueto has always been a strike-thrower with a roughly average strikeout rate who succeeded by limiting hits on balls in play, never walking anyone, and completely shutting down the running game with the game’s best pickoff move.

Cueto is still doing all those things, only now, he’s also posting the fourth highest K% of any starting pitcher in baseball; the only guys ahead of him are Strasburg, Darvish, and Tanaka. Combine an elite strikeout rate with everything else Cueto does well, and you have something close to perfection.

But this isn’t the amazing part. The amazing part is how he’s doing it.

Cueto has thrown 435 pitches this year that the PITCHF/x algorithm has classified as four-seam fastballs. While that only accounts for 29% of his total pitches, it is the largest bucket of any pitch type, as he mixes his pitches about as well as any pitcher in the game. 67 pitchers, Cueto included, have thrown at least 400 four-seam fastballs (per the F/x algorithm) this year. The average wOBA allowed on those four-seam fastballs is .342. Johnny Cueto’s wOBA allowed on his four-seam fastball this year? .147.

Let me put that in some context for you. Here is a graph of the four-seam wOBA allowed for every pitcher with at least 400 four-seams thrown this year.

Cueto’s wOBA allowed on his four-seam fastball is nearly 100 points lower than the next lowest pitcher — Kansas City’s Danny Duffy — and 130 points lower than the third lowest pitcher. One standard deviation for this population is 48 points of wOBA; Cueto is 195 points of wOBA away from the average. That is four standard deviations from the mean. He’s two standard deviations away from the next guy.

Now, wOBA allowed for a specific pitch type isn’t actually the best to evaluate the quality of that pitch, because wOBA is only calculated for balls-in-play or walks, strikeouts, and hit batters. All of the pitches thrown that simply move the count in the pitcher’s favor don’t get counted in wOBA (or any outcome metric), so a pitcher who frequently uses a pitch to go from 1-1 to 1-2 won’t get credit in these kinds of numbers, even though getting into pitcher’s counts is a huge part of being successful. What you really want is linear weights per pitch, which takes into account the results of every pitch thrown and the change in value based on the count it was thrown in.

Thankfully, we have just such a stat. Here is the same chart as above, only based on the run value of each four-seam fastball thrown this year for those 67 pitchers. To account for different usage levels, this is runs above (or below) average per 100 four-seam fastballs thrown.

Cueto is pushing +3 runs per 100 four-seam fastballs; no one else is over +2 runs. In fact, no other starter in the PITCHF/x era has ever been over +2 runs per 100 four-seam fastballs. The results that Cueto is getting on his fastball are just unprecedented.

But, as we’ve been preaching for years, you shouldn’t just judge a pitcher on his results, and there’s no question that a large part of the crazy wOBA and run value numbers for Cueto are driven by his absurdly low BABIP. Cueto has allowed just a .167 BABIP on four-seam fastballs, and since these numbers are not fielding independent, he’s getting 100% of the credit for these outs on balls in play. You don’t need to be an apostle of FIP to guess that a .167 BABIP probably isn’t entirely Cueto’s doing, and won’t continue going forward.

But let’s be clear; this isn’t just a BABIP thing. In fact, we can highlight Cueto’s fastball dominance without ever mentioning a ball in play. For instance, let’s just look at rate of contact on pitches in the strike zone. Z-Contact% is one of the better measures of just the dominance of stuff, as getting hitters to swing and miss at strikes can only really be done with pretty great pitches. As you might expect, the in-zone contact rate on four-seam fastballs is very high; a mean of 88% and a median of 89%. As a basic rule, in-zone fastballs generate contact.

Unless Johnny Cueto is throwing them. Opposing hitters are making contact on just 78% of their swings at Cueto’s four-seam on pitches in the zone, which is easily the lowest of the 67 pitchers with 400+ four-seams that we’ve been looking at. Michael Wacha is second at 81%. During the PITCHF/x era, there have been 493 pitcher seasons in which at least 1,000 four-seam fastballs were thrown; only two of those 493 have resulted in a Z-Contact% below the 80% line. If Cueto could sustain this rate of contact on in-zone fastballs, it would be the lowest ever posted in the PITCHF/x era.

The numbers Cueto is getting from his fastball just don’t even make sense. 70% of the four-seam fastballs he’s thrown have been in the upper half of the strike zone, but when hitters put the pitch in play, it generally results in a ground ball (52%). Four-seam fastballs do not generate ground balls — the average GB% for the 67 pitchers four-seams we’ve been looking at is 39%, and the median is 38% — and no one really gets ground balls on pitches up in the zone.

There’s Cueto, though, pounding hitters up in the zone with fastballs, combining the lowest in-zone contact rate with the 6th highest ground ball rate on his four-seam fastball. And when hitters do hit his four-seam in the air, it’s not going anywhere. 35% of the fly balls the pitch has generated have stayed on the infield; that’s also the sixth-best total for that pitch in all of baseball.

If you were to rank the outcomes you’d want for a pitcher on any given pitch that a hitter decided to swing at, it would probably go something like this:

1. Swinging Strike
2. Infield Fly
3. Ground Ball

Those three events are basically all hitters are doing against his four-seam fastball this year, and the result is that the pitch has allowed just 10 hits, and nine of them have been singles. He’s the only pitcher in baseball with 400+ four-seam fastballs thrown and no home runs allowed. The only other pitcher to only give up one double on his four-seamer this year is Colin McHugh, but he’s also allowed three home runs on the pitch.

To be honest, I can’t give you a reason for why Cueto has been able to do this. The best guess I could make is that his delivery is particularly deceptive, and hitters just aren’t picking up the ball until it’s too late. There’s nothing that really stands out in terms of velocity, movement, or location that would suggest that Cueto’s four-seam fastball should be essentially unhittable. But for the first 14 starts of the season, that’s exactly what it’s been.

Tim Hudson’s Evolving Arsenal.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Two decades ago, Tim Hudson was finishing up his first season at Chattahoochee Valley Community College. He was a short righty with a sinker, a slurve and small hands. More than 3,000 innings later, that sinker’s still going — but the rest of Hudson’s arsenal’s evolved. And maybe the story of that change can tell us a little bit about sinkerballers, in general.

The first thing Tim Hudson did to become Tim Hudson was learn the splitter that summer before he went to Auburn. There’s no great back story, no grandpa behind the barn. “I was just messing around in the bullpen one day before a game, threw a couple because I didn’t have a change-up, threw it in the game a couple times, and got some swings and misses,” Hudson told me this month. “I’ve been throwing it ever since, and it’s gotten better every year.”

OK, maybe it hasn’t gotten a lot better in the last few years, but it hasn’t gotten worse. And you have to remember there’s a Tommy John surgery in there. “I definitely didn’t probably throw as many split fingers after Tommy John, for a little while,” Hudson admitted.

But he doesn’t think the pitch is related to his surgery, even if his community college coach told him he’d hurt his arm messing with the pitch. “Never thought there was much of a difference between the splitter and my other pitches” when it came to soreness or injury risk, Hudson says. He didn’t even have the soreness that some associated with learning the pitch (Brandon League said his knuckles ached for weeks when he was learning it). “It’s kind of crazy,” Hudson says now. “I have really small hands. Usually guys with big hands and big fingers can throw it really easily, but my hands are small — but my fingers are really flexible.”

His splitter grip: Notice the flexible fingers.

The splitter is a huge part of Hudson’s success. “Same slot as your fastball, same arm speed as your fastball but if you throw it right and stay behind it, and have good action with your finish, the bottom falls out,” Hudson says. “For hitters, it’s a pitch that’s really, really hard to lay off and it’s hard to hit. But, if you don’t throw a good one, they’re really easy to hit; they hang up there and go a long ways.” Over 34,000 pitches into his career, the splitter has the second-best swinging strike rate in his arsenal (to his slider/cutter) and the second-highest home-run-per-fly-ball rate.

Unlike Jeff Samardzija, Hudson doesn’t really have two different split fingers. “The force I have on the ball is always the same,” Hudson says. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t vary the pitch a little. “It’s where on the ball that I’ll change where I hold the ball,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll hook a seam with my index finger; sometimes I’ll go straight leather, no seams. Some days, they’re better than others depending on how the balls are rubbed up.”

When told Samardzija’s splitter sometimes cut, Hudson thought that only happened in error with his version of the pitch: “Usually when they cut or run is when the release point is inconsistent. Sometimes the arm is dragging a bit, and you’re trying to catch up. Then you have the tendency to pull them. If you can get your arm slot straight up and over — stay behind it and finish it out front — it’s usually right to the plate and you want it to bounce between the plate and the catcher.”

The splitter was his first change-up, but Hudson has developed a more standard change-up since. Well, he kind of holds it and throws it like a splitter anyway.

Hudson has quietly turned to the change more often than the splitter. Even though most of the classification systems have him throwing the splitter more often for most of his career, Hudson says the systems get it wrong. “I can tell you, 95% of the time I throw a change-up it thinks it’s a splitter,” he says. “I usually throw my splits with two strikes. Early in the count, it’s usually a changeup.” But he admits they look very similar and are only about 3 mph apart, with the splitter being a little harder. You can certainly see two clusters in the BrooksBaseball chart for his splitter: One is faster with less vertical break; one is slower and has more drop.

The changeup was easy for him, though. Both the splitter and change “came pretty naturally” because most of what he throws “naturally sinks and runs.” It was the breaker that was tough on him, even though he threw that little slurve back in junior college.

“The hardest thing for me to learn was a cutter or slider,” Hudson says. And he agreed that, where some pitchers who have great breakers find their mechanics make learning a changeup difficult, he had the opposite problem, but for similar reasons. “It’s just the natural way your arm is,” he says. “Your wrist angle, where you are on the ball. I naturally throw on the inside of the ball. Most sinkerballers naturally throw on the inside of the ball.” Fade came easy to Hudson; it was the cut he needed to learn.

Hudson eventually found it. Or, better: he eventually found two breakers. “The cutter and slider, I hold them the same way,” he says. “Sometimes, you’ll manipulate it a little, make it a little bigger, and then you’ll call it a slider. Then the cutter is the one you stay behind a little more, and it’s a little harder.” That’s the slider on the left and the cutter on the right, for what it’s worth.

The differences may be subtle, at least in grip. What makes them move differently is the release. “They’re different pitches from what the hitter sees, but they’re really the same grip, except you’re a little more on the side of the ball with the slider. Cutter, you’re a little more behind the ball, but still on the right side,” Hudson says.

There’s been a bit of a change in his cutter and slider usage over the years, even if it wasn’t necessarily on purpose. Given how difficult it is to differentiate between the cutter and slider by the numbers, this table was dubious before meeting with the pitcher, especially since it wasn’t clean-cut. His T.J. surgery was in 2008. But was he moving from the slider to the cutter?

Season FC% SL%
2007 2.00% 15.50%
2008 1.80% 16.10%
2009 6.30% 15.30%
2010 17.90%
2011 3.70% 18.10%
2012 22.00%
2013 20.90%
2014 23.80%
When I asked him, Hudson to me it’s totally possible he’s moved away from the slider and to the cutter since the surgery. “Probably, maybe just after Tommy John you try not to manipulate the ball or twist so much,” Hudson said while mimicking putting torque on the ball with wrist movement.

His curveball isn’t used as often, but it’s been great this year. The whiff rate on the pitch is up to 15.1%, from his 12.5% career rate. When asked why, Hudson thought it was about timing. “I think I’m just mixing things up more, trying to be as unpredictable as you can,” Hudson said. He’s gotten more unpredictable by becoming more predictable: This year, the PITCHf/x database shows that he’s halved his usage of the pitch when behind in the count, and doubled it when ahead.

Of course, we can’t forget the sinker, even if it’s the pitch he’s throwing less often these days. His grip on the pitch is a little askew when compared to the more standard version that Andrew Cashner throws. It’s still working, as it’s still a top-10 fastball despite coming out of a 38-year-old arm.

Maybe it’s just doing so well this year because his control has been so other-worldly. His career walk rate is better than average, but this year, he’s fourth in the league in that stat. “Getting ahead of hitters more,” Hudson said, but that can’t be all of it. His current first-strike rate (63.4%) is better than the league average (60.1%) and his own average (60.3%), but not by enough to explain halving his walk rate. Maybe it’s instead about that career-low fastball velocity (89 mph). “I don’t have anything really overpowering, so I’m not overthrowing much,” he said. “My command is better because I’m more under control and my delivery is more consistent.”

Over the years spanning Chattahoochee Valley and China Basin, Hudson has picked up a lot of tricks. The split-finger was only the first. Since, he’s developed three other pitches and great sense of when to use them. Which is serving him well now in his 16th pro season. “Where I’m at in my career, there’s nothing really overpowering, so I got to mix everything in there, throw it to the wall and see what sticks,” Hudson said. “Throw the rosin bag out there a couple times.”

Prospect Watch: 2014 Improvement.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In this installment of the Prospect Watch, I examine three players who have improved markedly from my viewings in 2013 to 2014.

Robinson Leyer, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Profile)
Level: Low-A Age: 21 Top-15: N/A Top-100: N/A
Line: 62.2 IP, 72 H, 35 R, 43/21 K/BB, 3.16 ERA, 3.97 FIP
Leyer brings easy heat and knows where it’s going, and his game has taken a quantum leap forward in the past year.

I first came across Robinson Leyer last July in the Rookie level Appalachian League. I was interested in what he brought to the table mostly because his older brother, Euclides Leyer, is also a White Sox farmhand. I had seen the elder Leyer (pronounced “layer,” for those curious) several times and was intrigued by his raw stuff–a 91-95 mph moving fastball and a hard curve that flashes plus–so I was curious what the younger sibling–who bears a striking resemblance to his brother, more so than most non-twin siblings–had to offer.

What unfolded that hot July day was one of the odder outings I took in last season. For the first three innings, Robinson Leyer looked like a non-prospect. He touched 92 mph with his fastball, which isn’t half-bad for an Appy League starter, but it was anywhere from 86-92 and often slid into the lower end of that range. His curveball mostly just spun, his changeup wasn’t particularly interesting, and his control was below-average even for the Rookie level. He looked like the sort of pitcher who would…well…post a 6.35 ERA and walk almost as many batters as he struck out, which is exactly what he did that year.

And then, suddenly, in the fourth inning, Robinson Leyer started to look interesting. His velocity jumped to the low 90s, and he even touched 95 once, his offspeed pitches were occasionally solid, and he started to pitch with confidence and aggressiveness. I can’t recall another outing where a pitcher suddenly found a bigtime extra gear like that so late in his outing, but I was intrigued by it. Needless to say, that form clearly was absent more than it was present last year, judging by his subpar statistical output.

Leyer got a chance to follow his brother’s path and join the Low-A Kannapolis rotation this year, and early on, it seemed like he was as ill-prepared for that task as you’d expect a poor Appalachian League hurler to be. In his first two starts, he allowed twelve earned runs on fifteen hits and five walks in six innings. Inconsistency has been a big issue for Euclides, and it looked like Robinson was going to fall prey to some of the same issues.

Since then, though, the younger Leyer has figured things out in a way his brother–who was moved to relief this year with High-A Winston-Salem–hasn’t, putting together a 1.59 ERA over his last ten starts. He hasn’t been quite as dominant as that seems–he’s allowed more unearned runs (13) than earned runs (10) in that stretch, and batters are hitting a reasonable .262/.315/.350 off him–but he’s throwing strikes (6.8% walk rate) and keeping the ball in the park (3 HR).

More importantly, his stuff is vastly improved from the 2013 version. I took in Leyer’s most recent start on Tuesday–his best of the year (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K)–and was very pleasantly surprised on a number of fronts.

His days of throwing in the upper 80s are over. Leyer worked at 93-94 mph into the seventh, with a few 92s and 95s mixed in. He even touched 96 once, here:

Leyer didn’t need much more than the fastball to keep a talented Savannah lineup–featuring first-rounders Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini, SAL batting leader Jeff McNeil, and 2013 Appy League top prospect Amed Rosario, among others–at bay. The pitch gets on hitters quickly because of the deception on the backside of his delivery and his quick tempo to the plate, and he was aggressive with it throughout the night. He’s not quite a command artist, but he’s usually on the corners with the heater, and the majority of his misses were just overthrows that hit the dirt rather than mistakes in the zone that hitters could damage.

Leyer appears to have ditched the subpar curve he threw in 2013 for a true slider that arrives anywhere from 78-83 mph. It’s not consistent right now, to the point where it actually looks like two different pitches. At 78-80, it’s a soft, slurvy spinner that isn’t any better than his old curve, but at 82-83, it’s a power pitch with some tilt, grading out as an average offering. About three in every five fell into the latter category; given that the offering is fairly new to him, he should gain further consistency with the pitch and see it develop into a solid complement to the fastball.

Leyer’s third pitch is an 82-86 mph changeup that has similar inconsistency–sometimes it has nice sink and some fade, while other times it’s just flat. He doesn’t seem to trust it as much as the slider, and there weren’t as many good changeups in the outing as there were good sliders, but the pitch is far from hopeless. Here he uses it extensively to strike out the heralded Smith:

Given that he’s a smallish guy with a big fastball and inconsistent secondary stuff, the easy bet is that Leyer follows his brother to the bullpen, though his solid control and the intermittent effectiveness of his slider and changeup make him at least somewhat interesting as a starting pitcher. Further, he’s come a long way in the past year, and at 21, he may not be done developing. This is the sort of pitcher who could start climbing prospect lists, starting…right now.


Kelvin Vasquez, RHP, Texas Rangers (Profile)
Level: Low-A Age: 21 Top-15: N/A Top-100: N/A
Line: 51.2 IP, 44 H, 26 R, 58/18 K/BB, 4.35 ERA, 3.32 FIP

A massively improved breaking pitch and better pitchability have helped turn Vasquez from a raw power arm into a real prospect.


At the outset of 2013, the Rangers decided Kelvin Vasquez was advanced enough to go straight from the rotation of their Dominican Summer League team to that of their Low-A affiliate in Hickory. The then-20-year-old had been one of the better pitchers in the DSL the prior year, and he touched 95 mph, so it wasn’t hard to grasp the organization’s enthusiasm for the young hurler; however, it was readily apparent that he was not ready for the challenge. I took in three of the seven starts he made before he was sent back to extended spring training due to ineffectiveness (6.49 ERA, 6.18 FIP, 19/18 K/BB in 26 1/3 IP), and Vasquez was maddening to watch. This still takes the cake for the worst pitching plate appearance I’ve ever seen (at least in terms of results):

That’s a wild pitch, a missed tag, a wild throw, and a homer allowed, all in one plate appearance (against a player who hit .221/.271/.329 and was released the next spring)–a pretty impressive cornucopia of bad in such a compressed timeframe. And even when he wasn’t making such copious mistakes, Vasquez spent his outings fighting himself. Sure, he worked at 90-94 mph and touched 95, and he had a good frame, but that was the sum of his skills. His breaking ball couldn’t decide if it was a curve or a slider–the only thing about it that was consistent was that it didn’t bite. He hardly ever threw a changeup, and when he did, he made you wish he didn’t. His delivery, while reasonably sound, was too deliberate, causing him to frequently lose his balance point, causing a cascade that ended in him missing his spot badly. And with poor control and only one good pitch, he didn’t have much confidence, losing his poise as the baserunners, runs, and bad outings mounted.

Still, the kid was undoubtedly rushed, and as frustrating as it was to watch those outings, I wasn’t going to write him off. I figured Vasquez would go down to short-season ball, maybe recover some confidence, and come back the next year more prepared to face Low-A batters. After all, once in a very long while in those Hickory outings, Vasquez would do things right besides throw hard. While the vast majority of his breaking pitches were formless slurves, he did throw a couple big power breakers, and every now and then, he’d (probably accidentally) throw a pitch with a quicker tempo and much better drive to the plate. I figured that if Vasquez could do both of those things more than twice a game, he’d be something.

Vasquez went down to short-season Spokane and dominated in the second half of last year (2.13 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 26.7% K%), indicating that he was ready to try Hickory out again. And wouldn’t you know it, he showed up in 2014 having made exactly those two adjustments, and the results followed.

Vasquez appears a bit quicker to the plate in 2013, and he’s improved his leverage by driving off the mound more consistently with his back foot. He worked at 91-95 mph, touching 96, in the relief outing I saw, with the ball coming out of his hand easily and getting on hitters quickly. The curveball has turned into a hard biter at 80-82 mph that grades out as average to solid-average, giving him a second weapon to go with the heater; it could turn into a plus offering in time. He didn’t show a changeup in the outing I saw, and reports are that it’s still not much more than a show pitch, but it’s telling that he’s largely succeeded as a starter this year even without an effective third pitch.

The lack of a changeup is likely going to confine Vasquez to a relief role in the long run, but he could be a high-leverage guy if he commands his two quality offerings. He’s got plenty of projection left, so he could work more comfortable in the mid-90s as time goes on. Unfortunately, he was placed on the DL with elbow issues earlier this week, and it remains to be seen if he’ll need surgery. While that would obviously be a major setback, Vasquez is still quite young and has plenty of time to overcome the obstacle, and the Rangers will likely have plenty of patience with his live arm.


Stephen Perez, SS, Washington Nationals (Profile)
Level: High-A Age: 23 Top-15: N/A Top-100: N/A
Line: 253 PA, .293/.398/.389, 1 HR, 35 BB, 32 K

Perez is a switch-hitter who can hit a little, take some walks, and hang in in the middle infield.

I don’t have an extended story about what Stephen Perez was like last year like I do with Leyer and Vasquez, largely because when I watched Stephen Perez play last year, I didn’t see a compelling reason to pay particularly rapt attention. Leyer was interesting because I found his brother interesting, and Vasquez was interesting because he touched 95 and made a two-level jump, but Stephen Perez was a 22-year-old Low-A shortstop who usually hit ninth in a fairly mediocre Hagerstown lineup and produced a .236/.303/.326 line while getting caught stealing on nine of his sixteen attempts. It was hardly a great first full season for the 2012 eighth-rounder.

But Perez is rolling this year, having managed to turn his K/BB ratio from the 3/1 neighborhood to better than even. In fact, after posting a 14/4 K/BB ratio in April, he posted a 14/27 one in May–chew on that split for awhile. He’s also suddenly 17-for-20 in basestealing attempts. Switch-hitting shortstops who post 127 wRC+s and can run don’t exactly grow on trees.

Here’s what Perez looked like in 2013:

And 2014:

Look at how much better the 2014 swing is. It’s not a power cut by any means, but Perez keeps his hands back well, and there’s so much less pre-swing movement. He also keeps a better, more level plane. Perez wasn’t ever going to be a big power threat anyway, so he might as well give up the pseudo-uppercut and the load of his 2013 hitting mechanics. Heck, his ISO hasn’t been affected at all–it was .090 last year and .096 this year.

When you combine a lefty stroke built for contact with good pitch-recognition skills in a switch-hitting middle infielder, you get a player worthy of at least some consideration. Unfortunately, Perez isn’t a great prospect, largely because his range and arm fit best at second base rather than shortstop. A switch-hitter who can hit, say, .255/.310/.330 isn’t a bad reserve if he can play second, third, and shortstop well–Nick Punto‘s made a hell of a career out of it–but Perez is likely going to be stretched at short in the long term and he doesn’t project to stand out at either of the other infield skill spots. He does play the game hard and has clearly made great strides in the past year, so he can’t be counted out entirely, but the margin between long MLB careers and eternal Triple-A work for players like this is rather thin. Still, this is a player who looked to be on his way to release a year ago, but now it looks like he’s got a real shot to still be in organized baseball at age 30, and he has a fighting chance to make the big leagues. That might not seem like much in the grand scheme of the upside-crazed prospect world, but it really is quite something in its own right.

The Selling Process: Trade Deadline Season.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Earlier this week, we took a look at the thought process of a club that opened the season with thoughts of contention might go through when deciding whether to shift gears and sell off assets. Today, let’s take a look some of the organizational processes that lead up to the final product – a significant deal that helps set such a club up for the future.
The single most important task of any organization looking to make a significant transaction, whether they are a buyer or seller, is most often overlooked or at the very least underrated. Rule one is to know you own players, in the majors and minors, and value them properly. This may seem obvious or self-evident, but it is absolutely vital. In most cases, and almost all of them at the minor league level, these are players you drafted and developed, and you know them far, far better than any other organization, both on and off the field. Every player must be evaluated from all angles, from their on-field performance utilizing both traditional scouting and analytical methods, to their off-field makeup and how it might enhance or hamper their ability to translate their natural tools to skills at the game’s highest level.

This is a year-round process, and a great deal of it, especially with regard to a team’s minor league prospects, takes place during spring training. I’m not talking about performance in major spring training games, which is just about the least predictive indicator out there. It takes place on the back fields, in the early morning hours. A scout can literally accomplish the same amount of work in a few days in Arizona or Florida that he could in weeks once the minor league season begins. You see who put the work in during the offseason. You get a feel for players’ ability to handle the daily grind and deal with failure as they compete daily with talented organization-mates. I would always come out of spring training with an excellent feel for my club’s minor league talent, organizational strengths and weaknesses, and would always have a working mental list of players who I liked more – and less – than the industry consensus. All of the other club personnel were doing the same thing, and this information would be shared and then updated once the minor league seasons began, and put to good use when trades were being considered.

A more daunting logistical problem is the evaluation of the other 29 clubs’ major and minor league personnel. This is where a club’s pro scouting department comes into play. All major league clubs have at least six state-side minor league affiliates, and many have seven. This doesn’t include Dominican and Venezuelan Summer League affiliates. Each club must have a process in place that will enable them to bring up the right players for discussion when trade talks progress.

Clubs will break down pro scouting responsibilities in a number of different ways. Clubs might employ a pro scouting director who supervises a group of scouts in the field, and is responsible for organizing and merging their work to compile an ordered list of targets in each organization. The pro scouting director may cross-check some of the top prospects in targeted organizations, might have coverage responsibilities of his own, and in many cases works directly with an assistant GM or special assistant who has direct pro scouting responsibilities.

Pro scouts may cover specific organizations, or leagues, or parts of the country. Any of these methods of work distribution can work – it comes down to the quality of the individuals doing the work, be it the scout in the field, or the supervisor or support personnel back in the office.

Usage of analytics in the pro scouting process varies widely throughout the game, but it can be safely said that all clubs implement them, at least to some extent. The goal of analytics at any level is to separate the true talent of the player from the context surrounding him. At the major league level, this is done in an extremely granular manner these days, with the introduction of batted-ball data via pitch and hit f(x). This isn’t quite the case at the minor league level, though the implementation of batted-ball systems like Trackman in some minor league ballparks have allowed some clubs to make positive strides. At this stage, however, you’re just not going to get a 100% batted-ball sample in the minors, so such data must be used carefully.

The individual ultimately responsible for each club’s pro scouting effort, be it the director or the AGM/special assistant, is responsible for bringing all of the scouting and analytical data together, and reconciling the sometime large gaps between them on key prospects. The scouts may love the toolsy, raw-power swing-and-miss outfielder or the hard thrower with the poor results, while the analysts do not. The analysts might love the high-OBP “ballplayer” type, or the pitcher who pitches above his tools, while the scouts are unimpressed. The responsible individual needs to be very well versed in both scouting and analytics, as neither side is right 100% of the time. The numbers sometimes lead you to something important on the scouting side, and the scouting data might lead you to something important on the analytical side. An organization that exclusively relies on one side or the other is going to make mistakes a high percentage of the time. The GM obviously has the final call, but he has many responsibilities to juggle on a daily basis, and he relies heavily on the findings and opinions of those who report to him. Good process and good people often but not always leads to good results.

Let’s take a step back and apply some of this to an ongoing real-world situation – the Rays’ potential shopping of David Price. The club very likely had offseason discussions with multiple clubs regarding their ace lefty, who had two years of team control left entering this season. The Rays obviously did not receive an offer that met their deservedly high standards – they rightly fancied themselves a contender entering this season – and held on to Price to have him lead their potential playoff run. The season has obviously not gone the way the Rays had hoped, to say the least. What type of thought process might an organization in their shoes go through at this point with a player as valuable as Price?

Step 1 might be to consider whether a player might be an ongoing fit with the organization on a long-term deal. Unfortunately for the Rays, this does not appear to be a viable consideration for them. Given their limited budget and ongoing stadium situation, the Rays simply can’t play ball in the deep end of the free agent market. Price, on the low-end, should get a Cole Hamels deal, and more realistically toward the high end, a Felix Hernandez/Zack Greinke-type deal. It’s time to move on to Step 2, which is where the Rays are now. Let the season play out, see if contention is in the cards, and if not, allow the trade talks to begin and eventually intensify.

When you have a player as good as Price who is, on paper, as sure a bet to be moved as Price is, you don’t have to call other clubs to kindle interest – they call you. There are many clubs out there who would love to have David Price in their rotation, but who simply lack the goods to get a deal done. As poor a season as the Rays are having, they are not a total teardown and rebuild – they possess a roster that, if healthy, can be good to go and contend in the AL East as soon as next year. They are not going to move Price for a package of A-ball prospects, unless one of those guys is named Buxton. The Rays are going to desire quality and quantity. Quality, in that at least one of the players received is projected as an above-average MLB player with below average risk. Quantity, in that just that one guy isn’t going to get it done. There will need to be one or more high-ceiling, potentially high-risk prospects behind the leading talent received, and perhaps even an established, lower-ceiling current MLB regular.

This might sound like a lot, but this is David Price, who with the possible exception of Jeff Samardzija, is a different animal than anything else on the market this summer. The Rays likely already have in mind what would be a satisfactory return for Price. If they are offered such a package, they must decide whether to pull the trigger, or roll the dice and see if the July 31 trading deadline creates a feeding frenzy of sorts and raises the bar on their potential return.

And oh, that deadline. Human nature being what it is, deadlines attract activity like light attracts insects. Trade talks often evolve over long periods of time, with clubs reluctant to put their best foot forward until the deadline forces their hand. That one high-ceiling prospect or incumbent MLB regular that the Rays may be eyeing might be off of the table until right before the deadline. The Rays are clearly in a commanding position with regard to the Price situation – they possess an asset that just about anyone would want, that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the market. They’ll either get a very good return now, or potentially an even better one just before the July 31 deadline. What of the other, somewhat lesser lights that could be “sold off” as the summer progresses?

The Phillies are another club that had playoff aspirations once the season began, only to find abject disappointment not too far down the road. They don’t possess a David Price to kickstart what needs to be a fairly significant overhaul at the major league level. They possess some mid-market tradeable assets, such as Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and possibly Jimmy Rollins, if he waives his 10-and-5 rights. They may not get an avalanche calls on these guys, as they all carry fairly significant salaries that aren’t too far out of whack with their production. One could argue that there are more attractive deadline targets than these players, but once the dust settles after July 31, some teams that didn’t get what they wanted could target them as August trade targets.

Yes, you can make a trade after the July 31 deadline, provided a player clears trade waivers. At some point during the month of August, virtually every player in baseball – with the possible exceptions of the Mike Trouts and Felix Hernandezes of this world – will be placed on trade waivers. Then the gamesmanship begins. A waiver claim is awarded to the claiming club with the worst record in that player’s league. (If no team in a waived player’s league claims him, the process is repeated with the clubs from the other league.) That team may actually have an interest in trading for that player – it is the only club that may do so – or it may just be interested in blocking a trade to a club with a better record. The risk of making a claim is that you may wind up stuck with the player – and his contract – as the White Sox were when they claimed Alex Rios a few years back. If a player goes unclaimed, he may be traded to anyone, just as he could have been prior to the July deadline. So let’s say a contending NL club loses their shortstop to injury in early August. They are faced with a decision – fill the hole from within from a list of unappetizing options, or claim Jimmy Rollins on trade waivers and try to make a deal. Rest assured that other contending clubs ahead of them in the waiver order would be on top of this situation as well, and might make a blocking claim of their own.

Before too long, the summer hot stove will surely heat up. For every one or two deals that go down, there are a hundred deals that are discussed but not eventually consummated. Each team must be ready to provide a wish list of MLB players and minor league prospects from any other organization at a moment’s notice. The work of a diverse group of scouts, analysts and administrators must be integrated at a moment’s notice, as organization-defining moves are made. The best process in the world can lead to less than stellar results, and the exact opposite can also occur, but over time the organizations with the best info, the best people and the best instincts and sense of timing can use this key portion of the baseball calendar to propel themselves forward.

Prospect Watch: MLB Draft Debut Projections – Aiken, Rodon, Conforto.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Brady Aiken, LHP, Houston Astros
Age: 17
School: Cathedral Catholic HS
Status: Signed ($6.5M)

MiLB Debut – Gulf Coast League Astros – Gulf Coast League: In recent years the Astros have shipped their high school pitching draftees to an affiliate rather than keep them in extended spring training. In 2010 — before the Jeff Luhnow era — Michael Foltynewicz began his career with the Greeneville Astros in late June. Two years later, Lance McCullers Jr. would debut with the Gulf Coast league in July before advancing to Greeneville. Expect Aiken to follow suit. At best, Aiken could see the New York – Penn League by the end of the year.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox
Age: 21
School: North Carolina State
Status: Unsigned (Represented by Scott Boras)

MiLB Debut – Winston-Salem Dash – Carolina League: Last year, Dave Cameron discussed the leverage Mark Appel had in his negotiations with the Houston Astros. Rodon, considered by many to be the best talent in the draft, is in a similar situation as Appel. While Boras may scare some White Sox’s fans, it’s expected Rodon will sign. The most obvious development arc to compare Rodon to that of Chris Sale. Sale pitched 103 innings in his final season at Florida Gulf Coast before he made 4 starts at Winston-Salem and then 7 starts with Triple-A Charlotte. When he debuted on August 6th of that year, the White Sox were in first place and 62 and 47. Rodon had a similar college workload. In his final season with the Wolfpack he pitched 98 innings (injuries and a failed playoff birth limited the total). With the White Sox battling in the tight American League Central — the Twins, Indians and White Sox all have 33 losses, 1 less than Kansas City and 5 less than Detroit — it’s possible Rodon could join the team in August or September like Sale did. The White Sox’s bullpen is poor, the owners the third worst bullpen FIP, and Rodon would be an elite addition.

Michael Conforto, OF, Mets
Age: 21
School: Oregon State
Status: Unsigned
Michael Conforto, OF

MiLB Debut – Brooklyn Cyclones – New York – Penn League: Conforto’s debut is interesting because, outside of Kevin Plawecki, the Mets have drafted high school position players in the early rounds during the Sandy Alderson era. Further, Conforto is a bat-only left fielder in an organization with poor hitting environments in the low minors. Conforto will debut in Brooklyn, but only briefly. Brooklyn serves the dual purpose of allowing the Mets to keep an eye on Conforto while also hyping him to the fan base. Like Plawecki, Conforto is an advanced hitter and should dominate the NYPL. However, left field in Brooklyn’s MCU Park overlooks the water and is death on left handed power. Skipping Brooklyn for Savannah may be unwise too, as it’s one of the least hitter friendly parks in the minor leagues. It would be in the Mets’ interest to send Conforto to St. Lucie after he gets his feet wet.

Evan Longoria is Missing the Best Part of His Game.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Mike Trout has been baseball’s best and most dominant player since 2012, so a little earlier this year, when he encountered something of a slump, it was a newsworthy event. Trout seemed almost perfect in all things, so it raised more than a few eyebrows when he started striking out fairly often. Before Trout, there was no Trout, but between 2009 – 2011, no one accumulated more WAR than Evan Longoria. He was perhaps baseball’s best young player, and it’s not like he fell off a cliff after that; Trout was just better. But Longoria was an awesome young superstar, and he, too, seemed impervious to trouble. It would’ve been hard to imagine Longoria going through hard times.

Yet here we are now, and Longoria’s hit some hard times. Fortunately or unfortunately for him, it’s been partially masked by the whole Rays team dropping out of the race, and it’s not like Longoria’s been bad, but something’s been missing, something of great importance. He’s still just 28, so it’s probably too soon to talk about a decline, but to this point Longoria’s been without his greatest strength. And it’s a mystery as to why that is.

The defense is still there. Longoria’s always been awesome on defense. He’s not having unusual trouble making contact. He’s not chasing unusually often out of the zone. In terms of his skillset, Longoria doesn’t seem like a different player, but now check out some heat maps. On the left, we’ve got Longoria, from 2011 – 2013. On the right, we’ve got Longoria, this year. These are run-value heat maps by pitch location, where positive numbers are good and negative numbers are bad. I don’t need to call your attention to anything; your attention will be called.

All the samples, of course, are limited. We’ll never be able to get around that. But look at pitches inside. Used to be, Longoria punished those pitches. This year, he’s not just punishing them less — he’s not punishing them one bit. Against inside pitches, Evan Longoria in 2014 has been a disaster.

Let’s deal with all of Longoria’s batted balls, broken down by pitch location. In one category, we’ll look at pitches over the inner third, or beyond. In the other category, we’ll look at the remaining pitches. Basically, let’s split Longoria’s batted balls by inside pitches and non-inside pitches. The following graph will include both batted-ball batting average and batted-ball isolated slugging. This graph, to me, is an absolute shock.

This year, Longoria’s performance against inside pitches has plummeted. His batting average has tanked, and his power has also tanked. Against all the other pitches, Longoria has been more or less fine — his power’s been down a bit, but his average has been up a bit. Always, Evan Longoria has controlled the inner third. This season, Longoria’s greatest strength has been his greatest weakness.

Among right-handed batters, between 2011 – 2013, Longoria ranked 19th in batting average on inside pitches, at .378. Last season, he ranked 23rd. This season, he’s second-worst. He’s batted .204 on inside pitches, against last year’s .398.

And, among right-handed batters, between 2011 – 2013, Longoria ranked fourth in isolated slugging on inside pitches, at .428. Last season, he ranked seventh. This season, he’s second-worst. He’s at .056, against last year’s .406. Put another way, a year ago, Longoria’s slugging percentage on inside pitches was north of .800. This year he’s shy of .260, on more than 50 balls in play.

It’s been a catastrophe. Longoria has hit one inside pitch for a home run, but that’s it as far as power is concerned, and there also haven’t been enough singles. Of some note: Longoria’s groundball rate on inside pitches is the highest it’s ever been. And also, you figure inside pitches should get pulled, deep. Here are Longoria’s rates of balls hit in the air to left on pitches in:

2008: 34% balls in play hit in air to left
2009: 30%
2010: 30%
2011: 30%
2012: 28%
2013: 30%
2014: 15%

Before, Longoria was extremely consistent. Of all the balls he hit fair on inside pitches, he hit about 30% of them in the air toward left. That’s where power would come from. This season, that rate has been halved, and here’s some visual help, from Baseball Savant. First, Longoria against inside pitches from 2011 – 2013. Then, Longoria against inside pitches in 2014.

There’s just nothing to left, and nothing to left-center. It would be one thing if Longoria had always been like this, but he’s actually been the opposite. These are the pitches Longoria should’ve been driving. He’s driven almost none of them, in particular to the pull side, and it’s curious. It makes you wonder about his mechanics, his approach, and his health. There’s nothing that’s immediately apparent, but the numbers themselves all but beg for further investigation. You start with the data, and you look for an explanation, until you’re satisfied that an explanation exists, even if you have to settle on bad luck. For some reason, Longoria hasn’t been turning on pitches in, and that used to be something he did better than almost anyone else.

I’ll say this — that one home run came a week ago, against 93 mile-per-hour heat. Longoria yanked it on a line, and then on Tuesday, Longoria pulled another inside pitch for a liner, this time one that found a glove. These could be signs that Longoria is getting things straightened out. You’d expect him to do that, if there isn’t anything deeply wrong; with a guy that young and that good, it takes a lot of evidence to believe a strength has become a vulnerability. Our assumptions should always start with, good young players remain good young players.

So it could just be an ugly-looking slump, a slump that happens to be ending. In which case, nothing to really worry about. But the numbers are still striking, and so Longoria isn’t out of the woods. He needs to punish those inside pitches consistently, again, or else he’s not going to be the same player. And the Rays are really fond of the awesome version of Evan Longoria. If this is the start of something, it’s hard to imagine how Longoria could turn out better for it. When one strength disappears, it’s tough to find a new one.
post #22928 of 72837
Originally Posted by macbk View Post

Taking my dad to the Mets game on Father's Day. He hasn't been to a game in at least 4 years.

Look on his face was everything pimp.gif .
Should have hit me up.
post #22929 of 72837
Originally Posted by JJs07 View Post

Kevin Gausman's stuff is FILTHY.

Only giving up 3 runs in the past 36 innings is impressive by the O's pitching staff. KEEP IT UP!
Sorry, DMX....just seeing this now. Area around OPACY isn't bad. Just look for a hotel (if you're planning on visiting) around Pratt St, which will make it a very easy walk.

It's one of the best venues in MLB and great seats are inexpensive. Make sure you get some Natty Boh before leaving the city. If not, I'll slap you.

Hotel is like the Hotel Harbor of something like that. I guess near aquariam, harbor, etc. I'll confirm. Can't wait to go and thanks fellas for the suggestions

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation
post #22930 of 72837
Oh random Q but does any mass transit go to the Balt airport?

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation
post #22931 of 72837
post #22932 of 72837
I'm sorry, that cap is ugly.

More teams should do deals like the Boston/Lackey deal.

He got his $82.5 million, and earned a good chunk of it while he was out. Now he is pitching well, and has to pitch for $500k. Sounds like a fair deal.
Instagram: backyardlobo
Instagram: backyardlobo
post #22933 of 72837
That looks terrible on the Yankee jersey
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
PSN: Aiinatural
Go Hawks, Mariners, Ducks
post #22934 of 72837

Shouldn't look too shabby.
post #22935 of 72837

The Yankees one looks horrible. They should've let the teams decide if they want red or blue caps. Probably would've looked better in blue like the Nats one. 

Originally Posted by ooIRON MANoo View Post

I'm sorry, that cap is ugly.

More teams should do deals like the Boston/Lackey deal.

He got his $82.5 million, and earned a good chunk of it while he was out. Now he is pitching well, and has to pitch for $500k. Sounds like a fair deal.


He may be pitching for $500k but I'm sure that's not what he counts towards their AAV.

post #22936 of 72837

Blues look better but they are still ugly
post #22937 of 72837
The only team that'll look good will be nats on the 4th. M'erica
post #22938 of 72837
& Braves
post #22939 of 72837

I gotta wait until I see the players wearing them or I see them in public before I can really judge them. Some of them, like the Nats and Braves look good. While others like the Yankees and Red Sox ones CC and Ortiz are wearing look horrible. But maybe its just the pics.

post #22940 of 72837
Originally Posted by bronconation24 View Post

The only team that'll look good will be nats on the 4th. M'erica

Yep...everything else is 🚮
post #22941 of 72837
I remember 1 that the A's wore a White Jersey with Red/Blue Athletics script with Red White and Blue hat pimp.gif
post #22942 of 72837
post #22943 of 72837
I can't tell if it's sergio romo or jim johnson
post #22944 of 72837
Originally Posted by bronconation24 View Post

I can't tell if it's sergio romo or jim johnson


Baseball isn't all about the box score sometimes you actually watch the game (which it sounds like you didn't) to see what is going on.

Please feel free to talk **** just know what the **** your'e talking about wink.gif
Edited by LB510 - 6/14/14 at 5:05pm
post #22945 of 72837
Romo killed me yesterday in my other fantasy league. -22 from that outing.

Watched the Cubs, and White Sox today while at the beach on my phone pimp.gif
post #22946 of 72837
Astros win again. Find us a decent SS and another OFer and we could make a run at the wild card. It's been a different team since Springer has been called up and Tony Sipp and Fields have been great in the pen recently.
post #22947 of 72837
This is the same guy who said that Gentry was best defensive CF'er in baseball laugh.gif dont pay him attention
post #22948 of 72837
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

This is the same guy who said that Gentry was best defensive CF'er in baseball laugh.gif dont pay him attention

post #22949 of 72837
Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

This is the same guy who said that Gentry was best defensive CF'er in baseball laugh.gif dont pay him attention

Originally Posted by bronconation24 View Post

Gentry and crisp.. Best defensive center fielders
post #22950 of 72837
Lol the sensitivity man... I'm not even talking ****. Don't run with everythjng and say it's talking ****. I'm just taking a slight jab at Sergio's two blown saves. He just reminded me of our 10 million dollar man. That's all..
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