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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Giants prospect Ryan Halstead keeps arm ready thanks to sister Paige

Gabe Kapler leaned on positivity in his first camp as manager of the Giants, and while talking a few weeks ago about this hiatus, he said it’s been encouraging to see how players are using family members to get creative and stay in shape. He’ll surely get a kick out of what one of the organization’s prospects is doing to keep his arm ready.

Ryan Halstead, a pitcher in the upper minors, went somewhat viral this week when he posted a video of a game of catch. The right-hander is firing rockets across a residential street and they’re easily being snagged by his sister, Paige.

She was the starting catcher at UCLA, where she won the 2019 NCAA softball championship. Paige also spent three summers playing for Team USA.

 

QLE Posted: April 23, 2020 at 01:51 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: brothers and sisters, giants, prospects, ryan halstead, softball

Monday, April 20, 2020

Sunday Notes: Taylor Trammell Loves Fans (and Wishes More Looked Like Him)

I’m not privy as to whether the Cincinnati Reds assign a grade to character in their draft reports. I also don’t know how much the San Diego Padres weigh that attribute when pondering possible acquisitions. I do know that Taylor Trammell projects as more than a quality big-league outfielder. He projects as a role model.

Trammell became a Padre last summer. Part of the trade-deadline deal that sent Trevor Bauer to the Queen City, he’d been selected 35th overall by the Reds in the 2016 draft out of Kennesaw, Georgia’s Mount Paran Christian School. Blessed with plus raw tools, Trammell is slotted No. 69 on our 2020 Top 100 Prospects list.

A prima donna he’s not. When he reaches the big leagues, Trammell will do so with a genuine appreciation for what life has presented him. Moreover, he doesn’t just embrace the game of baseball. He embraces the people who come to see it played.

“I have thoughts on fans,” Trammell told me in Padres camp last month. “I love them. There are people who come to games and want to heckle, and they have the right to do that. Do I agree with it? No, but if you want to pay money to come yell at us, I mean, do whatever you want. Go to a boxing match. Go to a baseball game. Go to a basketball game. Any game. When there are a whole bunch of fans in the stands, whether they’re rooting for you or not rooting for you, it’s great for baseball. They want to see a game and we’re putting on a show for them.”

Come for the stories about prospects- stay to argue the relative merits of Willie Randolph and Jeff Kent!

 


Friday, April 17, 2020

Orioles Prospect Zac Lowther Is Adding Polish to His Vexing Funk

Zac Lowther was described as having “vexing funk” when he was profiled here in August 2018. That hasn’t changed. The 23-year-old southpaw — now No. 12 on our Orioles Top Prospects list — still disrupts timing with his delivery. Moreover, he continues to flummox hitters. In 148 innings last year at Double-A Bowie, Lowther logged a 2.55 ERA, fanned 154, and allowed just eight gophers.

Prior to last season, Eric Longenhagen described how Lowther “hides his arm behind his body… and has nearly seven feet of down-mound extension.” Last week, the 6-foot-2, 235 pound lefty shared that his recent developmental strides have been more mental than physical in nature.

“A lot of it is working on consistency and how I approach everything,” Lowther told me. “I’m not throwing 96 [mph] — I’m that funky guy who kind of goes against the scouting reports — so I have to place to ball and rely on all three pitches. I need to stay within myself; I need to be in the present, but also know how that pitch takes me to the next pitch.”

Lowther’s repertoire consists of a fastball, a curveball, and a changeup. The first of the three is his best weapon, despite its pedestrian (88-93) velocity. And more than deception is at play. The erstwhile Xavier Musketeer gets good carry, and as Longenhagen pointed out, sometimes sinking and tailing action.

Well, at a time like this, someone must keep that funk alive!

QLE Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:28 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects, zac lowther

Friday, April 03, 2020

AJ Reed Announces Retirement

In news that slipped under the radar when it was announced, former top Astros prospect AJ Reed has announced his retirement. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle highlights the decision and analyzes it from the perspective of his former organization.

Reed, a former second-round pick, was once considered one of the game’s premium hitting prospects. He showed an intriguing blend of power and patience on his way up the farm. Reed generally made loud contact and plenty of it, with hefty batting averages on balls in play and unconcerning strikeout rates.

When he debuted with the ’Stros in 2016, Reed seemed quite likely to hit in the majors. After all, he mashed at every level on his way there. The real question was whether he’d do so enough to be a highly valuable player, given his limitations on the field (first base only) and on the bases.

As it turns out, there was a bigger problem lurking. Reed’s strikeout rate had ticked up a bit at Triple-A in 2016. It exploded in the majors. As it turned out, he’d end up taking 199 total plate appearances at the game’s highest level, carrying a 14.2% swinging-strike rate and 35.7% strikeout rate. Reed’s power stroke never played, either. All told, his career batting line sits at an awful .149/.241/.234.

A great way to feel old in a hurry: Hearing someone eight years younger than you retire….

 

QLE Posted: April 03, 2020 at 10:11 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: a.j. reed, prospects, retirements

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Rays prospect Garrett Whitley hit in face by foul ball, taken to hospital

SARASOTA — Rays minor-league outfielder Garrett Whitley was hit under the right eye by a foul ball during Monday’s game and taken to a Sarasota hospital with a facial injury.

Whitley was sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout when he was struck by a ball hit sharply by Baltimore’s Renato Nunez. It bounced through the opening between two screens in front of the dugout in the fourth inning of the 3-3 tie.

Manager Kevin Cash said Whitley, 22, did not lose consciousness and was not bleeding extensively, both good signs. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays and/or scans, then later discharged and said to be resting at home. The Rays expect to have an update on Tuesday.

“That was pretty scary,” Cash said. “From the initial test and exams, he was coherent, his eyes were moving fine. He’s going to have a pretty good welt. ... The only blood that I saw was a little bit out of his nose, and then almost like the seam of the baseball split him just a little bit (under the eye), not like a gash.”

 

QLE Posted: March 03, 2020 at 01:02 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: foul balls, garrett whitley, prospects, rays

Monday, February 24, 2020

Sunday Notes: Dodgers Prospect Kody Hoese is Calm, Cool, and Collects Hits

Kody Hoese exploded last season at Tulane. In a breakout junior campaign that saw him shoot up draft charts, the right-handed-hitting third baseman slashed a preposterous .391/.486/.779, bashing 23 home runs along the way. Duly impressed, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Hoese with the 25th pick of the first round.

He proceeded to acclimate well to pro ball. The numbers weren’t nearly as loud as they were with the Green Wave, but his .299/.380/.483 line between rookie-level Arizona and the low-A Great Lakes Loons was more than adequate. In terms of getting his feet wet, Hoese did just fine.

Asking Hoese about the sudden-rise path he took from Tulane to top-shelf prospect unearthed no great revelations. The 22-year-old Griffith, Indiana native feels that he simply matured and grew into having a more-advanced approach at the plate. “There weren’t really any mechanical changes, or anything like that.”

Hoese’s setup and stroke are anything but complicated. He presents with a “little-lower-hands slot” and a simple load where he “kind of gets into [his] back side, and then strides.” He tries to stay balanced — “centered through my body, upright” — with minimal head movement. His primary objectives are a consistent swing path and focusing on driving the ball up the middle and to the opposite-field gap.

For discussion of all those stories that we’ve otherwise missed…..


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Top pick Rutschman not awed in 1st Orioles’ big league camp

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — A year ago, Adley Rutschman was a student at Oregon State, and now he’s in his first major league camp.

Nothing overwhelming about that, he says.

Rutschman was the top pick in last June’s draft and signed with the Baltimore Orioles for an $8.1 million bonus. He’s played just 37 minor league games, and yet the 22-year-old switch-hitting catcher is fitting in fine at spring training among 67 other players who all have more experience.

Rutschman is in camp to learn from major league players and coaches — and to show a dwindling fan base there may be some hope for a team that’s averaged over 110 losses the last two seasons.

Someone to follow for the coming year- interesting to see how far he advances, given the presence of contrasting dynamics.

 

QLE Posted: February 23, 2020 at 12:55 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: adley rutschman, orioles, prospects

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hitting the right notes: Kieboom gets shot at 3rd for Nats

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — If, as he hopes, and the Washington Nationals hope, Carter Kieboom earns a job this spring as the reigning World Series champions’ starting third baseman, he’ll do so with the help of years’ worth of ideas typed into the Notes app on his cellphone.

Ever since Kieboom was in high school in Marietta, Georgia—OK, not all that long ago, given that he’s still just 22—the 2016 first-round draft pick has kept a list of tips and observations he figures will make him a better ballplayer.

“There’s no one right way to do things, which is what makes this game so special. For me, especially at a young age, we’re given so much information, and I’m constantly trying to improve my game,” said Kieboom, who split fielding reps at third with versatile veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera on Wednesday.

“It’s too much just to keep in your head,” Kieboom said. “You’ve got to put it down and read it as you go along and fall back on it.”

Ah, spring, when hope is very much in the air for us all.

 

QLE Posted: February 20, 2020 at 01:10 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: carter kieboom, prospects, spring training, third basemen

Friday, February 14, 2020

Picks to Click: Who I Expect to Make the 2021 Top 100

When publishing prospect lists — in particular, the top 100 — I am frequently asked who, among the players excluded from this year’s version, might have the best chance of appearing on next year’s version. Whose stock am I buying? This post represents my best attempt to answer all of those questions at once.

This is the third year of this exercise, and last year Kiley and I instituted some rules. First, none of the players you see below will have ever been a 50 FV or better in any of our write-ups or rankings. So while I think Corbin Martin will return from Tommy John and become a 50 FV again later next year, I’m not allowed to include him here (although I just sorta did). The second rule is that I am forbidden from using players who have ever been on this list before, which means no Gilberto Celestino (on the list two years ago) or Lenny Torres (who was on last year’s) even though they might soon be 50s. McDaniel and I were right about 18 of the 63 players we picked the first year, about a 29% hit rate, and we were right about 16 of the 55 players on last year’s list, which is also 29%. Two years still isn’t long enough to know whether that’s good or not, but it does appear as though a baseline is being established.

At the end of the piece, I have a list of potential high-leverage relievers who might debut this year, because readers seem to dig that category. These are not part of the 50+ FV forecasting; it’s just a way to point an arrow at guys I like who might have real big league impact in a smaller role very soon.

I’ve separated the players into groups or “types” to make the list a little more digestible and to give you some idea of the demographics I think pop-up guys come from, which could help you identify some of your own with The Board (with The Board, through The Board, in The Board). For players whose orgs I’ve already covered this offseason, there is a link to the applicable team list where you can find a full scouting report on that player. I touch briefly on the rest of the names in this post. If you want to peek at the previous lists, here is Year 1, and here is Year 2.

Note to self: Check back in at this time or so next year, and see how many of these people made that list.

 

QLE Posted: February 14, 2020 at 01:23 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects, the future

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Red Sox prospect Jeter Downs has tough name to live up to

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Carrying one of the most hated sports names in Boston is already enough of a burden, so Jeter Downs won’t also try to be the guy who replaces Mookie Betts.

The former Dodgers prospect, who was named after Hall of Famer Derek Jeter by his Yankees-loving mother, was acquired in the deal that sent Betts to Los Angeles on the eve of spring training.

And he knew the question was coming.

“Obviously, I’m going to get bombarded with this whole name thing,” he said in the Red Sox clubhouse Wednesday before the team’s first formal workout of spring training. “It’s pretty cool. And I guess my mom, she knew what she was doing when she named me Jeter.”

I seem to remember losing $5 betting on racing at Jeter Downs in the OTB parlor of a down-market racetrack once.

 

QLE Posted: February 13, 2020 at 01:03 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: great name, jeter downs, prospects, red sox

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Fangraphs: 2020 Top 100 Prospects

Below is my list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. The scouting summaries were compiled with information provided by available data, industry sources, as well as from my own observations.

1. Wander Franco
2. Gavin Lux
3. Mackenzie Gore
4. Jo Adell
5. Adley Rutschman

JJ1986 Posted: February 12, 2020 at 03:16 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: fangraphs, prospects, wander franco

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Lots of prospects for Marlins to sort out in spring training

MIAMI (AP) — There’s only one direction to go for the Miami Marlins, who have endured 10 consecutive losing seasons and stumbled last year to 105 defeats, their highest total since 1998.

So yes, they should be better in 2020.

That might not mean much in the short term, and a .500 finish might still be a year or more away. But the Derek Jeter regime begins Year 3 optimistic the long-suffering franchise is finally trending upward.

The job in spring training will be to sort through a roster much deeper in young prospects than a year ago, and to identify building blocks for the future.

Feels like its own punchline, doesn’t it?

 


Monday, January 20, 2020

Phillies pitching prospect Zach Warren has a dirty car but a bright future

Every one of the 15 minor-league prospects that the Phillies have invited to big-league spring training camp has a story.

Zach Warren’s is unique because (in his heart) he was a Phillie before he was technically a Phillie.

Warren grew up in Vineland, New Jersey, in the “glory era,” as he correctly called it, when the Phillies were racking up National League East titles, going to two World Series and winning one of them. Young Zach rooted for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but his eye always drifted toward the work being done by Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, not surprising because Warren was a left-handed pitcher on the rise in those days.

After successful runs at St. Augustine Prep in South Jersey and the University of Tennessee, Warren is still a pitcher on the rise. Three strong seasons in the Phillies’ minor-league system earned him an invite to major-league spring training camp next month in Clearwater.

Hearing about people growing up to the Ryan Howard-era Phillies makes me feel rather old indeed….

 

QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:40 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: phillies, prospects, zach warren

 

 

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