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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

 

 

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