Monday, December 31, 2018

DrB's 2019 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #1 Joey Bart

Joey Bart, C.  DOB:  12/15/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 220 lbs.  Drafted 2018 Round 1, #2 overall.

2016(College):  .299/.351/.382, 10 2B, 4.6 BB%, 19.54 K%, 174 PA.
2017(Cape Cod League):  .309/.389/.433, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10.62 BB%, 23.01 K%, 113 PA.
2017(College):  .296/.370/.575, 13 2B, 13 HR, 7.69 BB%, 24.04 K%, 208 PA.
2018(College):  .359/.471/.632, 12 2B, 16 HR, 15.07 BB%, 20.59 K%, 272 PA.
2018(Rookie AZL):  .261/.320/.391, 2B, 3B, 4.00 BB%, 28.00 K%, 25 PA.
2018(Short Season):  .298/.369/.613, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 5.91 BB%, 19.70 K%, .318 BABIP, 1.32 GB/FB, 53.5 Pull%, 203 PA, 6 PB, 15/36 CS.

Joey Bart didn't come out of nowhere his junior season in college, but he did significantly improve on his sophomore numbers to boost his draft stock into the discussion for #1 overall.  The Tigers took RHP Casey Mize and the Giants got the guy they really wanted anyway.  You could easily make an argument that Joey Bart is the best catching draft prospect since Buster Posey in 2008 although Mike Zunino from 2012 may want to differ. At any rate, Bart did not disappoint in his pro debut.

You can nitpick the stat line, but it's a really good line for a pro debut!  I tried to compare Bart's line with Posey and Zunino at the same stage but that's really hard.  Buster Posey hardly played at all in 2008 and the Mariners were hyper aggressive with Zunino placing him in A+ and AA in 2012.  Things to like about Bart's debut line include 203 PA's of experience, the .318 BABIP which is sustainable and the relatively low K rate.  He will want to work on being a bit more selective, hopefully without blowing up his K rate.  He will also want to try to put the ball in the air a bit more.  His ratios through college and his pro debut are remarkably stable and if he just continues to do what's he's been doing, he'll be fine.

I would expect Joey Bart to start out the 2019 season in A+ with a promotion to AA about midseason if he gets off to a hot start.  If Buster Posey comes back healthy the Giants will have no reason to rush Bart.  Even if Buster's catching days are about over, the Giants should still let Bart come at his own pace and fill in the catcher position with a short term bridge.  Bart's ETA could be as early as midseason 2020 but more likely 2021 and will be somewhat dependent on Buster Posey's circumstances.  At his peak, I would expect Bart to hit for more power than Buster but with a lower BA. I think he will have more usable power than Zunino because he will hit for a higher average.  He could be an All-Star caliber catcher for several years.  He is currently ranked as the #23 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline.

DrB's 2019 Giants Top 50 Prospects

I appreciated the feedback I received from the community on my preliminary Giants Top 50 list for 2019.  I have taken the suggestions to heart and made some changes in the list to reflect it. As always, try to not get too hung up on the exact rankings.  The main point of this exercise is to get better acquainted with the Giants farm system in general and with specific prospects.

1.  Joey Bart, C.
2.  Heliot Ramos, OF.
3.  Marco Luciano, SS
4.  Logan Webb, RHP.
5.  Melvin Adon, RHP.
6.  Gregory Santos, RHP.
7.  Shaun Anderson, RHP.
8.  Aramis Garcia, C.
9.  Chris Shaw, LF.
10.  Ryan Howard, IF.
11.  Drew Ferguson, OF.
12.  Travis Bergen, LHP.
13.  Garrett Williams, LHP.
14.  David Villar, 3B.
15.  Alexander Canario, OF.
16.  Jalen Miller, 2B.
17.  Heath Quinn, OF.
18.  Sean Hjelle, RHP.
19.  Jose Marte, RHP.
20.  Jacob Gonzalez, 3B.
21. Sandro Fabian, OF.
22.  Manuel Geraldo, SS.
23.  Diego Rincones, OF.
24.  Juan DePaula, RHP.
25.  Camilo Doval, RHP.
26.  Seth Corry, LHP.
27.  Jacob Wong, RHP.
28.  CJ Hinojosa, IF.
29.  Tyler Beede, RHP.
30.  Abiatal Avelino, SS.
31.  Jacob Heyward, OF.
32.  Tyler Herb, RHP.
33.  Aaron Bond, OF.
34.  Sam Wolff, RHP.
35.  Patrick Ruotolo, RHP.
36.  Carlos Sano, RHP.
37.  Johneshwy Fargas, OF.
38.  Bryce Johnson, OF.
39.  Chase Johnson, RHP.
40.  Aaron Phillips, RHP.
41.  DJ Myers, RHP.
42.  JJ Santa Cruz, LHP.
43.  Orlando Garcia, 2B.
44. Tyler Rogers, RHP.
45.  Garrett Cave, RHP.
46.  Solomon Bates, RHP.
47.  Conner Menez, LHP.
48.  Blake Rivera, RHP.
49.  Conner Nurse, RHP.
50. Yorlis Rodriguez, 3B.

Honorable Mention:  Brandon Van Horn SS, Sean Roby 3B, Frankie Tostado 1B, Jose Layer OF, Abdiel Layer IF, Dalton Combs OF, Sam Moll LHP, Kyle McPherson 2B, John Gavin LHP, Olbis Parra RHP, Kelvin Beltre IF, Peter Maris IF, John Russell RHP,  Jordan Johnson RHP, Matt Winn C, Jonah Arenado 3B/1B, Norwith Gudino RHP, Jeffry Parra C, Ismael Munguia OF, Malique Ziegler OF, Logan Baldwin OF, Luis Moreno RHP, Jesus Tona RHP, Trent Toplikar RHP, Keaton Winn RHP, Francis Pena RHP, Ricardo Genoves C, Nico Giarratano SS, Randy Norris OF, Logan Harasta RHP, Marco Gonzalez LHP, Jasier Herrera RHP, Jacob Lopez LHP, Ben Madison RHP, Chris Roberts RHP, Julio Rodriquez RHP, Fabian Pena C, Aynesber Sivira 2B, Beicker Mendoza 1B, Austin Edgette OF, Patrick Hilson OF, Bryan Hernandez OF, Tyler Flores OF.

Dominican Dandies:  Ivan Armstrong RHP, Jesus Gomez LHP, Josdeiker Marcano RHP, Samuel Quintana LHP, Juan Sanchez LHP, Sonny Vargas LHP, Rodolfo Bone C, Luis Toribio 3B, Ghordy Santos SS, Richgelon Juliana OF, Jairo Pomares OF, Luis Matos OF.


Q: Would the community prefer if I do the individual profiles from top to bottom or in reverse order? Let me know in comments below.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Brennan Malone

Brennan Malone, RHP, HS.   DOB:  9/8/2000.  6'3", 203 lbs.(PG lists at 6'5', 210 lbs)

Young, athletic righty with a big fastball that gets up to 97 MPH in bursts but generally sits in the low 90's.  Scouts think there is more in the tank based on peak velocities and projectability.  His secondary stuff is in early development, but per Perfect Game, his curveball improved with each outing.  He is moving to IMG Academy which faces stronger competition than most high schools.

On video, Malone shows strength in his upper legs with moderate drop and drive.  His arm action is fluid with moderate effort.  The frame is strong with some projection to add weight and strength although weight could become a problem in the future.

MLB Pipleline ranks him #10.  Fangraphs has him at #20 and PG has him at #4 overall draft prospect.  I like this kid a lot although with so many great hitters in this draft, the demographic risk may be more palatable later in the first round than the Giants at #10.


DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.  5-tool athlete with MLB bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St).  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  4+ tool prospect with best wheels in draft.  Power lags a bit.

4.  Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor).   Solid catching prospect with potential for a plus bat.

5.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal).  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him better than the scouts.

6.  Josh Jung, 3B, College(Texas Tech).  Disciplined bat with power potential.  Has arm to play 3B at highest level.

7. Riley Greene, OF, HS.  Top HS bat in draft with an advanced hit tool with plus power.  Lack of speed puts a lot of pressure on the bat.

8.  Brennan Malone, RHP, HS.  Ideal pitcher's size and frame with projectability in a fastball that already reaches 97 MPH.

9.  Graeme Stinson, LHP, College(Duke).  Jumbo sized lefty with "plus-plus" slider.  Low risk/high floor prospect, but I see him as a likely reliever in the pros.

10.  Carter Stewart, RHP, JC.  Has tools to be an ace. Will need to overcome health concerns after "failing" physical with Braves last year.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Josh James

Josh James, RHP, Astros.  DOB:  3/8/1993.  6'3", 206 lbs.

2018 AA:  0-0, 2.49, 21.2 IP, 15.78 K/9, 4.15 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  6-4, 92.2 IP, 12.92 K/9, 3.79 BB/9.
2018 MLB:  2-0, 2.35, 23 IP, 11.35 K/9, 2.74 BB/9.

Josh James is a rookie who may slip under some radars on fantasy draft day.  He's ranked as just the 95'th top prospect on MLB Pipeline.  People who know who he is may recall him as a reliever in the 2018 postseason, but he actually started in 24 of 39 appearances across 3 levels including 3 of 6 in the regular season for the MLB Astros.

James had a huge breakout in 2018 mainly due to a major increase in FB velocity from the low 90's to high 90's.  He attributes his late success to treatment of his sleep apnea and improved conditioning.   In addition to the FB he throws a good changeup that is his top secondary pitch and a slider which can be an out pitch at times.  He still struggles with command at times.

The command issues may eventually force him to the bullpen full time but with the Astros losing Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury, James is the odds on favorite to win a rotation spot out of spring training even is Colin McHugh is ticketed for one of the openings.  If you target Josh James in the late-middle rounds of your draft or in the $5-10 range in auctions, you have a good chance of landing him for a great value.

Hot Stove Update: Angels Sign Jonathan Lucroy

It wasn't too long ago that a Jonathan Lucroy signing would be headline Hot Stove news.  Now, it's so insignificant, I had to debate whether to even post anything on it.  He is coming off a season in which he posted an OPS of just .617, his worst in his entire MLB career.  He also slipped in several defensive metrics although he threw out more than 30% of basestealers.  The Angels signed him yesterday for 1 yr/$3.35 M with incentives that reach to about $4.5 M.  His BABIP has been down from career norms for 2 seasons now.  Some analysts might look at that and say it's his new normal.  Others may say he's ripe for a bounceback.  For catchers at age 32, it's more likely the former.  Kevan Smith will likely be the backup C with Jose Briceno getting more salt in AAA.

I would say this signing has no impact on the Giants as I didn't see them signing Lucroy as the back up plan for Buster Posey.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Graeme Stinson

Graeme Stinson, LHP, College(Duke).  6'5", 260 lbs.

2017:  3-1, 6.67, 28 IP, 14.29 K/9, 3.81 BB/9.
2018:  5-1, 1.89, 62 IP, 14.23 K/9, 2.76 BB/9.

Stinson is a jumbo lefty who worked as a swingman last year at Duke with 4 starts out of 23 appearances.  He had the highest K/9 of any college pitcher with at least 62 IP.  His scouting report includes a low-mid 90's FB and a "plus-plus" slider that is his best pitch.  He also has a changeup but has not used it much coming out of the bullpen.  He pitched 6 shutout innings in his final appearance and is expected to be a starter for Duke in 2019.  Final ranking on draft boards will depend on how he is able to sustain a SP role.  Biggest rap on him is his unathletic body.  Obvious comp would be David "Boomer" Wells.  Not that he is a bad prospect, but the fact that he is the top ranked college pitcher on some draft boards tells you all you need to know about this year's college pitching talent.  I would estimate a greater than 50% chance he ends up as a reliever in the pros.  #9 draft prospect on MLB Pipeline.  #14 on Fangraphs.


DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.  5-tool athlete with MLB bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St).  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  4+ tool prospect with best wheels in draft.  Power lags a bit.

4.  Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor).  Solid catching prospect with potential for a plus bat.

5.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal).  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him better than the scouts.

6.  Josh Jung, 3B, College(Texas Tech).  Disciplined bat with power potential.  Has arm to play 3B at highest level.

7.  Riley Greene, OF, HS.  Top HS bat in draft with an advanced hit tool with plus power.  Lack of speed puts a lot of pressure on the bat.

8.  Graeme Stinson, LHP, College(Duke).  Jumbo sized lefty with "plus-plus" slider.  Low risk/high floor prospect, but I see him as a likely reliever in the pros.

9.  Carter Stewart, RHP, JC.  Has tools to be an ace.  Will need to overcome health concerns after "failing" physical with Braves last year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Braves Pitching Wave

If you want to give yourself a nice headache, try sorting out which of the Braves seemingly endless supply of pitching prospects is going to breakout in 2019.  There are at least 5 who could, but it's also possible none of them do.  Let's break it down(scouting reports are from Fangraphs):

Mike Soroka, RHP.  DOB:  8/4/1997.  6'4', 195 lbs.  Drafted 2915 Round 1, #28.

2018 AAA:  2-1, 2.00, 27 IP, 10.33 K/9, 2.00 BB/9.
2018 MLB:  2-1, 3.51, 25.2 IP, 7.36 K/9, 2.45 BB/9.

Soroka pounds the zone with a low-90's FB with a high-spin breaking ball and a rapidly improving changeup.  Got shut down with shoulder problems but was reportedly hitting mid-90's in simulated games late in the season.  He is probably first in line for rotation spot if healthy in 2019. If he makes it, he's probably worth rostering immediately but remember the injury.


Kyle Wright, RHP.  DOB:  10/2/1995.  6'4", 200 lbs.  Drafted 2017 Round 1 #5.

2018 AA:  6-8, 3.70, 109.1 IP, 8.64 K/9, 3.54 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  2-1, 2.51, 28.2 IP, 8.79 K/9, 2.51 BB/9.
2018 MLB:  0-0, 4.50, 6 IP, 7.50 K/9, 9.00 BB/9.

Kyle Wright is basically a scout's vision of what a pitching prospect should look like.  Per Fangraphs:  "He's a near ideal combination of frame, arm action, delivery, athleticism, broad repertoire and feel for pitching."  His FB is more of a contact pitch, but the slider is swing and miss.  He adds in a curveball and change.  Also per Fangraphs, he may need to use the slider more often at the MLB level.

Touki Toussaint, RHP.  DOB:  6/20/1996.  6'3", 185 lbs.  Drafted 2014 Round 1, #16(D'Backs).

2018 AA:  4-6, 2.93, 86 IP, 11.20 K/9, 3.77 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  5-0, 1.43, 50.1 IP, 10.01 K/9, 3.04 BB/9.
2018: MLB:  2-1, 4.03, 29 IP, 9.93 K/9, 6.52 BB/9.

Touki has long been a favorite of the readers of this blog.  I think we can all now agree that he would have been a better pick for the Giants than Tyler Beede who the Giants took at #15.  I think Touki has the highest ceiling out of this wave of Braves pitching prospects.  His FB goes mid-high 90's with a plus curveball and a hard changeup.  He still runs into command issues at times.  He may start 2019 in AAA, but is likely to be called up during the season.  His last appearance of 2018 was 1 IP with 0 BB's and 3 K's.  I could see him moving toward a closer role especially with so much competition from within the Braves organization.


Luiz Gohara, LHP.  DOB:  DOB:  7/31/1996.  6'3", 240 lbs.  International FA 2012(Mariners).

2018 AAA:  3-4, 4.94, 54.2 IP, 9.05 K/9, 2.47 BB/9.
2018 MLB:  0-1, 5.95, 19.2 IP, 8.24 K/9, 3.66 BB/9.

Big body pitcher with "high octane stuff."  Has had injury and off-field issues.  Reportedly lost a lot of weight and is in the "best shape of his life."   Of this group, he may have the biggest difference between ceiling and floor.  Success depends on health and focus. A real lottery ticket at this point.


Kolby Allard, LHP.  DOB:  8/13/1997.  6'1", 175 lbs.  Drafted 2015 Round 1, #14.

2018 AAA:  6-4, 2.72, 112.1 IP, 7.13 K/9, 2.72 BB/9.
2018 MLB:  1-1, 12.38, 8 IP, 3.38 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.

Allard is a pitchability lefty with 3 average to above average offerings. He's a bit undersized even for a lefty.  He was greeted rudely by MLB hitters in a small sample in 2018.  If his stuff doesn't play as a  SP at the MLB level, he could end up as a lefty reliever.


Chad Sobotka, RHP.  DOB:  7/10/1993.  6'7", 225 lbs.  Drafted 2014 Round 4, #133.

2018 A+:  2-0, 2.21, 20.1 IP, 12.39 K/9, 3.10 BB/9.
2018 AA: 2-3, 1.93, 28 IP, 11.89 K/9, 4.18 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  0-0, 1.93, 9.1 IP, 11.57 K/9, 8.68 BB/9.
2018 MLB:  1-0, 1.88, 14.1 IP, 13.19 K/9, 5.65 BB/9.

Sobotka rocketed up the Braves system last year and contributed in the postseason.  He's a big dude with a FB that touches triple digits.  His size and lack of athleticism make it hard for him to repeat his delivery so command issues may keep him in middle relief, but it's not impossible to see him as a future closer.

Max Fried is over the limit to be rookie eligible but he's another young pitcher who is basically in this same flotilla.  For fantasy baseball owners, it's is almost impossible to sort this out.  Each of these prospects could break out at any time, but it's not a lock that any of them will.  In redraft leagues, I advise monitoring the situation closely and try to make your move when it clarifies.  For deep keeper leagues, I am probably most bullish on Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint longterm.

I wrote this up as a Fantasy Focus, but it could easily be a Scouting the Hot Stove or Armchair GM piece.  The Braves have 3 veteran SP's on the roster:  Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and the ever-intriguing and enigmatic Kevin Gausman.  That leaves the above shipload of prospects competing for the final 2 rotation spots.  The problem for the Braves is they are built to compete for championship now and that rotation really needs an ace or at least a near-ace to lead it.  The Braves have other pitching prospects who are not quite ready yet, so there is even more depth in the system that the ones who have tasted the MLB experience.  Now, there is really only one pitcher left on the FA market who could be described as an ace, Dallas Keuchal, and that is using the term ace very loosely.  In addition, Keuchal is likely to be quite expensive.  This seems like a perfect setup for the Braves to use this incredible pitching depth to acquire an ace.  Hmm.... let me think.  What team has an ace with postseason credentials they might be willing to trade for a great return package?.......

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Down on the Farm: DrB's Preliminary 2019 Top 50 Giants Prospects

Hey team!  Hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas Day.  When I first stared my annual Top 50 Giants Prospects many years ago, my big goal was secrecy until the day it was unveiled.  I've gradually incorporated more community feedback into making the list.  The last couple of years, I've put up a preliminary list and used the feedback to produce a better final list.  Here is my 2019 PRELIMINARY list.  I welcome questions, comments and suggestions.  I will definitely take all into into due consideration when making up the final list which I plan to put out New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

1.  Joey Bart, C.
2.  Heliot Ramos, OF
3.  Marco Luciano, SS
4.  Logan Webb, RHP
5.  Melvin Adon, RHP
6.  Gregory Santos, RHP
7.  Shaun Anderson, RHP
8.  Aramis Garcia, C
9.  Chris Shaw, LF
10.  Ryan Howard, IF
11.  Drew Ferguson, OF
12.  Travis Bergen, LHP
13.  Garrett Wiliams, LHP
14.  David Villar, 3B
15.  Alexander Canario, OF
16.  Jalen Miller, 2B
17.  Heath Quinn, OF
18.  Sean Hjelle, RHP
19.  Jose Marte, RHP
20.  Jacob Gonzalez, 3B
21.  Sandro Fabian, OF
22.  Manuel Geraldo, SS
23.  Diego Rincones, OF
24.  Juan DePaula, RHP
25.  Camilo Doval, RHP
26.  Seth Corry, LHP
27.  Jacob Wong, RHP
28.  CJ Hinojosa, IF
29.  Tyler Beede, RHP
30.  Abiatal Avelino, SS
31.  Mike Gerber, OF
32.  Jacob Heyward, OF
33.  Tyler Herb, RHP
34.  Peter Maris, IF
35.  Sam Wolff, RHP
36.  Patrick Ruotolo, RHP
37.  Carlos Sano, RHP
38.  Johneshwy Fargas, OF
39.  Bryce Johnson, OF
40.  Chase Johnson, RHP
41.  Brandon Van Horn, SS
42.  DJ Myers, RHP
43.  Kelvin Beltre, IF
44.  JJ Santa Cruz, LHP
45.  Orlando Garcia, 2B
46.  Norwith Gudino, RHP
47.  Garrett Cave, RHP
48.  Solomon Bates, RHP
49.  Blake Rivera, RHP
50.  Aaron Bond, OF

Honorable Mention:  Conner Nurse RHP, Sean Roby 3B, Frankie Tostado 1B, Aaron Phillips RHP, Yorlis Rodriguez 3B, Jose Layer OF, Abdiel Layer IF, Dalton Combs OF, Sam Moll LHP, Kyle McPherson 2B, John Gavin LHP, Olbis Parra RHP......Will probably add more later....suggestions? Who did I forget completely about?

I tried to account for both ceiling and proximity to the majors and achieve a balance.  Again open to suggestions.  There is a clear top tier of Bart, Ramos and Luciano.  I think the next break comes around #28 after CJ Hinojosa which is where I chose to slide Tyler Beede.  I seriously considered leaving Beede off entirely and putting him in the HM list, but then thought there is enough chance of a bounceback to keep him in the list somewhere and that seemed to be a natural break where I could slip him in.

Merry Christmas!

Just want to which everyone a happy, peaceful day.  Hope everybody was on Santa's Nice list.

I may put up a regular post later today.


Monday, December 24, 2018

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Riley Greene

Riley Greene, OF, HS.  B-L, T-L.  6'1", 190 lbs.

Greene is regarded as the best HS bat in the 2019 draft.  He is from Florida and is well known from the showcase circuit and USA 18 and Under National Team.  He has a smooth swing with power to all fields.  Scouting reports say he already has plus pitch recognition skills and should draw a lot of walks.  The big concern is his lack of speed which will force him to a corner OF at best and possibly 1B.  His OF throws clock in at 92 MPH so he may have enough arm to play RF as long as it's not AT&T Park.

On video he looks a bit taller than 6'1" and some scouting sites list him at 6'2".  His got a big power-hitter's frame.  I'm still learning how to analyze swings but his looks a bit on the long side to me with some wrap and a hint of an arm bar.  That could be a red flag for someone who will be almost entirely dependent on his bat for success in the pros.


DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.  5-tool athlete with MLB bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St.).  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  4+ tool prospect with best wheels in draft.  Power lags a bit.

4.  Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor).  Solid catching prospect with potential for a plus bat.

5.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal).  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him better than the scouts.

6.  Josh Jung, 3B, College(Texas Tech).  Disciplined bat with power potential.  Has arm to play 3B at highest level.

7.  Riley Greene, OF, HS.  Top HS bat in the draft with an advanced hit tool with plus power.  Lack of speed puts a lot of pressure on the bat.

8.  Carter Stewart, RHP, JC.  Has tools to be an ace.  Will need to overcome health concerns after "failing" physical with Braves last year.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Willians Astudillo

Willians Astudillo, C/UT, Twins.  DOB:  10/14/1991.  B-R, T-R.  5'9", 225 lbs.

2018 AAA:  .276/.314/.469, 17 2B, 3B, 12 HR, 7 SB, 3.3 BB%, 4.6 K%, 307 PA.
2018 MLB:  .355/.371/.516, 4 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 2.1 BB%, 3.1 K%, 97 PA.
Career MILB:  .306/.336/.417, 103 2B, 2 3B, 27 HR, 13 SB, 2.70 BB%, 3.59 K%, 1813 PA.

Willians Astudillo is a sabermetric curiosity in that he just might be the greatest contact hitter in history.  He's a catcher by trade and certainly built like one, but also already played 3B, 2B, LF, 1 inning of CF and 1 inning of pitching in his brief MLB career, so there is obviously some athleticism there.  As you can see from the BB% and K%, dude just never walks and never K's.  He's got some gap power with occasional HR power.  His BA and OBP are obviously going to be enormously BABIP dependent, which is to say his BA is likely to regress to right around .300.

That profile is not generally going to excite fantasy owners much, except for the catcher part.  As we've shown in a previous post on the state of catching in MLB, you don't need that much offense from a catcher to make him a fantasy asset.  You are lucky if you can find one plus category and hope he doesn't hurt you too much in the rest.  Astudillo will likely give you a significantly better BA than most catching options without hurting too much in R and RBI and might even steal a base or 2.  He's not going to hit as many dingers as most catchers though.  He does gives you some position flexibility, although you will want to mostly play him at C.  The other issue is playing time.  Unless the Twins add a catcher in the offseason, his only real competition is from Jason Castro so it's not hard to see Astudillo as the Twins starting C.  The flexibility helps in that department too.  Fantasy owners should monitor the Twins offseason carefully and if they don't add a C, Astudillo could be a savvy steal on draft day.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Drew Ferguson

The Giants seem to be having as much trouble with their Christmas shopping as I do every year, so to distract from theirs and my shopping issues we'll continue our Impact Rookie Series.  Just to show I'm not "relentlessly negative" we'll take a look at the Giants recent Rule 5 Draft acquisition, Drew Ferguson.

Drew Ferguson, OF.  DOB:  8/3/1992.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

2018 AAA:  .305/.436/.429, 11 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 6 SB, 15.75 BB%, 20.89 K%, 292 PA.
Career MILB:  .297/.393/.455, 84 2B, 7 3B, 35 HR, 65 SB, 12.03 BB%, 19.75 K%, 1504 PA.

Of all the Giants offseason acquisitions so far, I am most intrigued by Drew Ferguson who was their second pick in the the Rule 5 Draft out of the Astros organization.  He was a senior draftee out of Belmont College in 2015 so has flown under the radar as a prospect.  What intrigues me is he has a relatively rare profile of a contact/gap power hitter who also draws a lot of walks which makes him a veritable on-base machine.  While he does not have any single outstanding tool, he does have 5 tools that are at least average.  He's capable of playing all 3 OF positions.

The Giants have needed a leadoff hitter with his skill set for years now and have nobody else that fits the profile coming into 2019 so maybe Ferguson is the guy?  He may start out as a 4'th or 5'th OF or the RH half of a platoon, but I could see him working his way into a starting job due to his elite leadoff skills.  If that happens, he would become a fantasy baseball asset in BA and Runs and would be even better in OBP leagues. Comp is Adam Eaton.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Brent Honeywell

Brent Honeywell, RHP.  DOB:  3/31/1995.  6'2", 180 lbs.

2018:  DNP(Tommy John surgery).
2017(AAA):  12-8, 3.64, 123.2 IP, 11.06 K/9, 2.26 BB/9.

Brent Honeywell was on this list last year but missed the entire season after undergoing TJ surgery.  Honeywell has a large arsenal of pitches starting with a low-mid 90's FB.  He is best known as one of the very few pro pitchers who throw a screwball which is an effective pitch for him, but also has a changeup that is rated by MLP Pipeline as plus.  He also has a standard curveball and slider.  He is able to consistently throw strikes with all of his pitches.  That profile reminds me of a certain Giants HOF RHP from the days of my youth! The Rays are notoriously conservative about promoting their pitching prospects, but it seems certain barring injury that Honeywell will see MLB action sooner than later in 2019.  Honeywell should already be rostered in deep keeper leagues.  He should be watched closely through spring training and the early season in redraft leagues and added as soon as he gets the call.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Don't Sign Mike Fiers

One rumor that seemed to have more legs than most was the Giants reported interest in RHP Mike Fiers.  Fiers has fascinated sabermetricians for being one of the first pitchers to find success throwing average velocity FB's up in the zone(Matt Cain actually did it before Fiers but we won't go there in this post).  Anyway, the A's(who else?) beat the Giants to the punch and signed up Fiers for 2 yrs/$14-15 M.  Fiers was a reliable innings eater over the past 4 seasons with IP ranging from 153.1 to 180.  His ERA's in that time ranged from 3.56 last year to 5.22 in 2017.  As you might expect from a guy with his profile, he tends to give up a lot of dingers and needs to work in a ballpark that suppresses HR's.  He's averaged just over 1.4 fWAR over the past 5 seasons.  If he continues that, he will bring back surplus value.  He may be more valuable to the A's who are likely to give him better run support than the Giants.


The Cubs agreed to terms with RHP Kendall Graveman for 1 year/$575 K. There are some quirks in this one:  It comes with a club option for $3 M in 2020 with no buyout, but if he is on the 2019 active roster for 1 day, the 2019 salary bumps up to $2 M with an additional $500 K in incentives.  Graveman is a #5 SP type who put up ERA's in the low 4's from 2015-2017.  Last year he pitched just 34.1 innings and his ERA ballooned to 7.60.  He's a pretty big risk to not be fully healthy or effective but the structure of the contract makes if essentially no-risk to the Cubs.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Jesus Luzardo

Jesus Luzardo, LHP.  DOB:  9/30/1997.  6'1", 205 lbs.

2018 A+:  2-1, 1.23, 14.2 IP, 15.34 K/9, 3.07 K/9.
2018 AA:  7-3, 78.2 IP, 9.84 K/9, 2.06 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  1-1, 7.31, 16 IP, 10.13 K/9, 3.94 BB/9.

Luzardo was acquired by the A's from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade.  He was coming off TJ surgery but had a breakout season in 2018 pitching across 3 levels with excellent peripheral stats.  He has rare combination of power and polish with FB that sits mid-90's and hits 98 MPH.  He'll likely start out in AAA, but if he continues to impress will almost certainly be called up during the season.  He'll be pitching in front of a good team in a pitcher-friendly home park.  He will be immediately rosterable in redraft leagues and should already be owned in all deep keeper formats.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Dodgers Clear Space for Bryce Harper

OK, team!  This one is a true blockbuster with far-reaching consequences.  The Dodgers found a way to unload...wait for it.....Matt Kemp AND Yasiel Puig in one big effing trade and manage to make their already impressive farm system even better.  You paying attention to this, Farhan?  Details are still emerging but the Dodgers are reportedly sending Kemp, Puig and LHP Alex Wood to the Reds for RHP Homer Bailey, RHP prospect Josiah Gray and SS prospect Jeter Downs.  Bailey is obviously a contract balancer, but I absolutely love Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray as prospects.  A new update has C/IF Kyle Farmer also going to the Reds along with $7 M in cash.  So, let's break it down:

Matt Kemp had a nice bounceback season last year slashing .290/.338/.481 with 21 HR's with 1.6 fWAR.  His production tailed off rather badley in the second half, though.  He is 34 yo and has 1 yr/$21.5 M left on his contract.

We all know who Yasiel Puig is.  I'll just say he has hit 51 HR's over the past 2 seasons.  Those numbers could improves significantly playing half his games in Great American Ballpark.  He is in his final arbitration year with MLBTR projecting a salary of $11.3 M.

Alex Wood pitched well for the Dodgers while ducking in and out of the DL which may or may not have been due to actual injuries.  He put up a 3.68 ERA over 151. 2 IP last year.  He also is in the final year of arbitration and is projected by MLBTR to make $9 M in 2019.

Kyle Farmer has performed well in very limited action for the Dodgers over the past 2 seasons.  He is 28 yo and will make league minimum salary next season.  He could be a decent back up C for the Reds with some versatility.

The best you can say about Homer Bailey is he pitched the most innings(106.1) in 2018 since 2014, but was ineffective going 1-14 with an ERA of 6.09.  He is in the final year of his contract and set to make $23 M as well as a $5 M option buyout for 2020.  The Dodgers are expected to simply release him and eat the $$ although that is what they were expected to do with Matt Kemp when they acquired him too, so they could give Bailey a chance to impress them in spring training before cutting him loose.

Now we get to the really sad part of this story:

Jeter Downs, SS  Drafted #32 overall in 2017 out of HS.  Now 20 yo.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

2018 Low A:  .257/.351/.402, 23 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 37 SB, 9.9 BB%, 19.7 K%, 524 PA.

I liked Downs a lot in the 2017 draft cycle and he's done nothing to diminish that admiration in his pro career.  If I was going to comp him, I might pick retired Reds 2B Brandon Phillips who had a pretty good MLB career. Fangraphs had him as the Reds #6 prospect.

Josiah Gray, RHP.  Drafted Round 2 in 2018 out of college(LeMoyne).  6'1", 210 lbs.

2018:  2-2, 2.58, 52.1 IP, 10.15 K/9, 2.92 BB/9.

Gray is a bit undersized but throws his FB in the mid-90's with excellent command.  He backs that up with a plus slider that is still a bit inconsistent.  His change-up lags behind.  He is a converted position player so does not have a lot of mileage on the arm and is still learning how to pitch.  Projects as a mid-rotation SP or a late-inning reliever.

Now, here's the even sadder part of the story:

The Dodgers just cleared out their OF logjam which would seem to be the prelude to signing Bryce Harper.  Well, of course they did!

Now I think I'll just crawl over to a corner, curl up and moan....or else go throw myself down the stairs!  LOL!

Oh, and how stupid is this of the Reds who will lose all of the top 3 acquired players to free agency after 2019 and give up 2 promising prospects in the process?


As if the Dodgers trade doesn't disgust you enough, the A's swung a 3-way trade to acquire UT Jurickson Profar, and well, of course they did!  This one is quite complicated with the A's getting Profar.  The Rangers receive IF prospect Eli White from the A's as well as LHP's Brock Burke and Kyle Bird and RHP Yoel Espino from the Rays.  The Rays get RHP Emilio Pagan, #38 overall 2019 draft pick from the A's and RHP Rollie Lacy from the Rangers.  The Rangers also receive $750 K in international bonus pool money.

Profar was once considered one of the very top, if not THE top prospect in all of baseball.  His career has been interrupted by several serious injuries.  He finally got regular playing time with the Rangers last year and had a good season:  .254/.335/.458, 35 2B, 6 3B, 20 HR, 10 SB, 9.1 BB%, 14.8 K%, 594 PA.  He was especially productive in July and August, I added him to my fantasy baseball roster mid-season and he gave me terrific production before tailing off a bit in September.  Profar will likely be the A's regular 2B in 2019.  He's moving to a more challenging hitting environment.  He is a candidate for further upside, although analysts are split on just how high his ceiling is a this point.


Emilio Pagan, RHP.  DOB:  5/7/1991.  6'3", 210 lbs.

2018:  3-1, 4.35, 62 IP, 9.15 K/9, 2.76 BB/9.  Pagan is a solid mid-late inning reliever with 4 years of contract control.

Rollie Lacy is 23 yo, 6'4', 195 lbs.  He pitched at A+ level last season for the Rangers and Cubs systems with high ERA's and walk rates. Lottery ticket.

#38 Draft Pick- there is about a 1 in 10 chance of this pick netting a player who goes on to have a significant MLB career.


Eli White, SS/2B.  DOB:  6/26/1994.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 175 lbs.

2018 AA:  .306/.388/.450, 30 2B, 8 3B, 9 HR, 18 SB, 10.7 BB%, 20.1 K%, 578 PA.

Projects as a solid utility player.  Could play in MLB as soon as 2019.

Brock Burke, LHP.  DOB:  8/4/1996.  6'4", 200 lbs.

2018 A+:  3-5, 3.84, 82 IP, 9.55 K/9, 3.29 BB/9.
2018 AA:  6-1, 1.95, 55.1 IP, 11.55 K/9, 2.28 BB/9.

Breakout season with dominance in AA.  Big downward plane on a mid-90s FB per Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs.  Apparently changed grip on change-up making it a plus pitch.

Kyle Bird, LHP.  DOB:  4/12/1993.  6'2", 175 lbs.

2018 AA:  0-2, 3.66, 19.2 IP, 10.53 K/9, 4.12 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  3-1, 1.94, 55.2 IP, 10.51 K/9, 4.20 BB/9.

Again per Longenhagen, 4 pitch mix.  Low 90's FB, crazy high spin rates.  Walks too many batters.  Projects as lefty reliever.

Yoel Espinal, RHP.  DOB:  11/7/1992.  6'2", 200 lbs.

2018 A+:  0-1, 3.86, 9.1 IP, 7.71 K/9, 2.89 BB/9.
2018 AA:  3-3, 1.98, 54.2 IP, 11.69 K/9, 4.77 BB/9.

Mid-relief prospect.  Per Longenhagen, throws hard(94-95 MPH) with a "weird sinker/power changeup in the 89-91 range."

Seems to me the clear winners in this deal are the A's who get a solid MLB player with remaining upside.  Rays get a solid MLB reliever and seemed motivated to clear out a pitching logjam in their upper minors.  Rangers get pitching depth in their farm system but lose Profar who maybe was available due to some reported malcontent issues over manipulation of his service time in 2017.


The Giants signed LHP/RHP Pat Venditte for a reported $585 K which is $30 K above the league minimum salary.  Venditte has long been a major curiosity to prospect watchers due to his ability to pitch both right and left handed.  He's kicked around baseball since since 2008 without much success in limited MLB opportunities.  He posted a 2.57 ERA in just 14 IP for the Dodgers last year but with a K rate of 5.8/9.  His FB sits in the mid-80's but plays up do to funkiness in his delivery which is close to sidearm from both sides.  He is much more effective as a LHP facing LH batters.  Right now it does not seem like he would make the Giants Opening Day roster without a trade or 2 involving lefty relievers.


It looks like the Giants are not going to trade for Domingo Santana as he is reportedly going to the Mariners for OF Ben Gamel and RHP Noah Zavolas.  Trader Jerry strikes again!  Santana has tools and had a very promising 2017 in which he hit 30 dingers and stole 15 bases.  He got lost in the shuffle after the Brewers obtains Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain for 2018 and his numbers suffered dramatically. The big rap on Santana is his high K rate.

Gamel has put up a slash line of .269/.331/.392 in 3 MLB seasons.  He is a nice 4'th or 5'th OF.  Zavolas is a pitcher from the lower minors with non-descript numbers.  Lottery ticket.

This is a very nice upside play for the Mariners who give up very little in return.  Seems like a deal the Giants could have topped.  Maybe Santana's K rates were just too much for Farhan Zaidi to stomach?


Finally, CC Sabathia reportedly underwent a coronary angioplasty with a stent placement.  Yikes! I guess size does matter and not in a good way!

Hot Stove Update: A Flurry of Signings

There was a flurry of signings around the Hot Stove yesterday, but not by the Giants.  Leading off, the Angels made their second SP signing of the week bringing in RHP Trevor Cahill for 1 yr/$9 M with an additional $1.5 M available in incentives.  Cahill has had an up and down MLB career.  He is coming off a 3.76 ERA in 110 IP for the A's but once again spent time on the DL.  The 110 IP was the most he's thrown since 2014, so even a 1 year deal is a bit of gamble for the Angels.  Still, MLBTR predicted that both Matt Harvey and Cahill would get 2 year/$22 M contracts so the Angels have landed both for about half the total cost and half the risk in years.  So, the Angels appear to be following the pitching blueprint Farhan Zaidi pioneered with the Dodgers:  Sign a bunch of injury risk pitchers stashing half of them on the DL at any given time.  Maybe that's still his plan for the Giants?


The Nationals signed RHP Anibal Sanchez to a 2 yr/$19 M contract with $6 M of the $19 M deferred to 2021 and a 3'rd year option valued at $12 M. There are also incentives for an additional $4 M so the contract maxes out at 3 yr/$33 M.  Sanchez is coming off a strong season for the Braves after several down seasons.  Secondary stats suggest he is unlikely to repeat last year's success but then the Nationals are exactly paying him to be an ace.


The Cardinals are reportedly close to a deal with LHP Andrew Miller for at least 2 years.  Miller is coming off a down season in which he battled injuries and ineffectiveness(4.24 ERA in 34 IP).  The Cardinals are obviously gearing up for a serious run in 2019, so even if they sign Miller, they may still be in the market to add a Will Smith by trade.


The Rockie agreed to terms with 2B/1B Daniel Murphy for 2 yrs/$24 M with a mutual option for 2021.  Murphy is a terrific hitter who should be even better playing half his games in Coors Field.  His D at 2B has never been great and has only gotten worse in recent years, so the Rockies may be looking at him more as a 1B option.  This acquisition creates an additional barrier for playing time for Ian Desmond, Garret Hampson, Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers.


The A's added to an already loaded bullpen by agreeing to terms with RHP Joakim Soria.  Soria is 34 years old and coming off one of the best seasons of his career split between the White Sox and Brewers.  The deal is for 2 years/$15 M.


Astros RHP Joe Smith suffered a torn Achilles tendon during offseason workouts and will likely miss a large part of the 2019 season.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Armchair GM: Trading Will Smith?

I think it's a generally accepted opinion that the Giants biggest need this offseason is to upgrade their offense, specifically their OF offense.  While Madison Bumgarner is often cited as their biggest trade chip, other teams appear to be as interested or more so in their surplus of LH relief pitchers.  The Giants have 2 of the better ones in baseball in Will Smith, who served as their Closer through much of last year, and Tony Watson, who was a reliable setup man.  In addition they have Ty Blach who was pretty good in a swingman role.  Steven Okert had a resurgent season in AAA and looked good in a SSS late season callup.  The enigmatic Josh Osich is also on the 40 man roster and is out of options but struggled again last season despite stuff that seems like it should get MLB hitters out.  On top of all that, the Giants added a lefty reliever through the Rule 5 Draft in Travis Bergen, who pitched at AA level last year. They also picked up another lefty reliever, Sam Moll, with AAA and MLB experience in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 Draft but don't have to keep him on either the 25 or 40 man rosters to keep him in the organization.  So that's a total of 6 lefty relievers on the 40 man roster and another on the AAA roster. Smith and Watson are entering the final season of their contracts.  Osich is out of options.  Bergen has to stay on the active roster or be offered back to the BJ's.  I am not sure about Okert's option status.

Enter the Cardinals into the rumor mill.  They reportedly consider 1B/OF Jose Martinez expendable after trading for Paul Goldschmidt and are reportedly interested in trading Martinez for Will Smith.  Martinez is a late bloomer who has mashed for the past two seasons for the Cardinals:

2017:  .309/.379/.518, 14 HR, 10.4 BB%, 19.5 K%, 307 PA.
2018:  .305/.364/.457, 30 2B, 17 HR, 8.3 BB%, 17.6 K%, 590 PA.

The rap on Martinez is poor fielding at both 1B and OF, but he reportedly has a strong throwing arm. Despite the poor fielding numbers, he was worth 1.6 and 2.3 fWAR in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Now, it seems that one side or the other wants more in the trade than just a 1 for 1 of Martinez for Smith.  Some analysts think the Giants might want Tyler O'Neill who is younger, has more years of control and is a better defender in the OF instead of Martinez.  Here are O'Neill's numbers from last season:

AAA:  .311/.385/.693, 26 HR, 10.6 BB%, 24.9 K%, 273 PA.
MLB:  .254/.303/.500, 9 HR, 4.9 BB%, 40.1 K%, 142 PA.

As you can see, O'Neill hits for more power but has a higher K rate and a much shorter MLB track record than Martinez.

We also don't know that the Cardinals don't want more than Will Smith in return for Martinez.

Could the Giants get more for Smith by trading with another team?  The Brewers are probably out after acquiring Alex Claudio from the Rangers.  Almost every other contending team could use a good lefty reliever and it's too much to run down the whole list.  Other possibilities that come to mind are the Nationals who might be willing to trade Michael Taylor who is a superb defender but a questionable bat.  The Astros have not been willing to part with Kyle Tucker for JT Realmuto so it's doubtful they would give him up for a lefty reliever.  What about Derek Fisher a prospect with a lot tools and a high ceiling but who has struggle to find traction at the MLB level so far?  It seems like what the Cardinals can offer is more promising than either the Nationals or Astros.

So, you are the GM!  Do you pull the trigger on a Will Smith for Jose Martinez trade or hold out for Tyler O'Neill or keep shopping with other teams? Personally if a straight up Smith for Martinez trade is on the table, I'd do it.  Martinez may be 30 yo and a poor defender, but he's a proven MLB bat with 4 years of contract control left while Smith is due for free agency after the 2019 season. I might even be willing to include more in the deal if it's the Cardinals who want more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Carter Stewart

Carter Stewart, RHP, JC.  DOB:  11/2/1999.  6'6", 200 lbs.

Carter Stewart was the #8 overall selection in the 2018 draft by the Braves.  He did not sign after his physical revealed some sort of wrist problem and he refused to accept the Braves diminished bonus offer.  BTW, that is the reason why the Giants have the 10'th pick in the 2019 draft rather than the 9'th.  Anyway, Stewart has the height and projectable frame scouts love.  His FB sits 92-94 and peaks at 97 MPH, but his best pitch is a high spin, hard curveball.  He also shows a developing changeup.

Stewart was committed to Mississippi St but did not enroll.  He is believed to be planning to pitch for Eastern Florida State JC this spring and re-enter the draft.  If he's healthy and effective, he could return to the top 10 of the draft, possibly the first pitcher off the board. The Giants have not had particularly good results from drafting former first round pitchers who failed to sign out of HS.  Add in the medical concern and yeah, I'd stay away.


DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.  5-tool athlete with MLB bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St).  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  4+ tool prospect with the best wheels in the draft.  Power lags a bit.

4.  Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor).  Solid catching prospect with potential for a plus bat.

5.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal).  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him better than the scouts.

6.  Josh Jung, 3B, College(Texas Tech).  Disciplined bat with power potential.  Has arm to play 3B at highest level.

7.  Carter Stewart, RHP, JC.  Has tools to be an ace.  Will need to overcome health concerns after "failing" physical with Braves last year.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Pass On Dark Knight

The Giants are rumored to be committed to avoiding contract which significantly increase payroll obligations beyond 2020.  Well, Matt Harvey, a pitcher with as high a ceiling as any in this year's FA market agreed to a 1 year/$11 M contract with the Angels with an additional $3 M in incentives which start kicking in at 15 Starts.

Harvey was once one of very best pitchers in the game, a true ace.  In 2013 he sported a 2.27 ERA in 178.1 IP and in 2015 a 2.71 ERA in 189.1 IP.  In between he spent a year recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Since 2015, he's battled a series of injuries including Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and a stress fracture of the scapula.  He also was a regular visitor to the tabloid pages in New York linked to a series of romantic relationships with supermodels and developed a reputation as a hard partier.  He famously failed to show up for a game in 2017 and was suspended for 3 games.  In 2013 SI had him on their cover and dubbed him the Dark Kight of Gotham, a nickname he embraced to the point of carving it into the knobs of his bats.  The beginning of 2018 was so disastrous, the Mets tried to send him down the minors, which he refused and eventually designated him for assignment.  He was claimed by the Reds who traded of-injured C Devin Mesoraco for him.  Harvey pitched better for the Reds, but was dinger-prone and his 4.50 ERA paled in comparison to his top seasons.

So, $11 M is a lot of guaranteed money for a guy with that track record.  The key is it is only for 1 season, so the risk is quite limited and he will have a ton of incentive to make good on the opportunity and re-enter free agency for 2020.  Nice upside play by the Angels with limited risk.


Daniel Descalso signed a 2 yr/$5 m contract with the Cubs.  Check out a recent Fangraphs article entitled The Quietest Swing Changer for a read on how Descalso has changed himself into a flyball hitter and increased his offensive production over the past 3 seasons.  He enters his age 32 season coming off the best season of his career.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies.  DOB:  8/9/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 180 lbs.

2018 AA:  .275/.342/.493, 23 2B, 2 3B, 17 HR, 12 SB, 7.5 BB%, 18.9 K%, 402 PA.
2018 AAA:  .232/.264/.290, 4 2B, 1.4 BB%, 22.2 K%, 72 PA.

Rodgers was drafted #3 overall in 2015 behind Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson who are both in the majors now.  Bregman and Swanson were both college draftees while Rodgers was picked out of HS.  Rodgers has possibly taken just a bit more time to develop than expected as 2019 will be his age 22 season.  He is still listed as a SS but scouts think he will be better defensively at 3B or 2B.  With the likes of Trevor Story at SS, Nolan Arenado at 3B and Ryan McMahon at 2B, the Rockies don't have any reason to rush Rodgers and he'll almost certainly start 2018 in AAA.  His promotion to the major league level depends on his performance and Rockies team needs.  Arenado is due to hit free agency after the season so he could get traded at the deadline.  There are also injuries that could crop up.

Any good hitter playing half their games in Coors Field should interest fantasy baseball owners, although I can see Rodgers needing a bit of time to get acclimated.  He should already be owned in deep keeper leagues but owners in re-draft leagues might want to be cautious in his debut season.  Once he adjusts to the level, he should be a reliable 30 HR's per season with lots of doubles added in.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Will Not Sign Michael Brantley

The Astros reportedly agreed to a 2 yr/$32 M contract with OF Michael Brantley today taking the second of three #2 tier OF FA's off the market.  Brantley joins an Astros OF mix of George Springer, Josh Reddick, Kyle Tucker, Tony Kemp and Derek Fisher.  Brantley's best fit is LF.  The signing may increase the likelihood of a trade of Reddick or Kyle Tucker, the latter could be used to land C TJ Realmuto from the Marlins.

It's a bit surprising that the Astros were able to limit the term to 2 years, limiting their risk of injury recurrences which seems quite a bit higher than average for Brantley.  As long as he's healthy, he should more than earn back his salary.  Nice deal for the 'Stros!

Down on the Farm: Community Ranking

So, now that we're downstream from the Winter Meetings, I'm turning my attention to the annual Top 50 Prospects list.  I think it's pretty clear there is a top tier of Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano.  We can discuss exact order, but those 3 are a long ways ahead of #4 and I think it's pretty clear that's the order.  #4 is a toughie though.  Once you traverse the yawning gap from 3 to 4, you run into a huge clump of second tier prospects from multiple positions and up and down the entire farm system.  I thought I would enlist the community to help sort it out.  Do you favor prospects who are already on the 40 man roster?  Do you favor young guys with tools down in the lower minors?  Here are some names that come to mind listed roughly by level of play:

Aramis Garcia, C
Chris Shaw, OF
Mike Gerber OF
Abiatal Avelino, IF
Ray Black, RHP
Ryan Howard IF
CJ Hinojosa IF
Shaun Anderson RHP
Logan Webb RHP
Drew Ferguson OF
Travis Bergen LHP
Garrett Williams LHP
Jalen Miller, 2B
Heath Quinn, OF
Melvin Adon, RHP
Jacob Gonzalez 3B
Manuel Geraldo SS
Sandro Fabian OF
David Villar, 3B
Alexander Canario OF
Gregory Santos, RHP
Juan De Paula, RHP
Camilo Doval, RHP
Sean Hjelle, RHP
Diego Rincones, OF

That's probably enough.  Who would be your top 5 out of that bunch?  If you want to rank all of them, that's OK too.  Please explain your answers.  Where does Tyler Beede fit in, if at all?

Hot Stove Update: Giants Still In Market for Catcher

One of the best, if not THE best catcher options on the free agent market reached a deal yesterday with the Mets.  Wilson Ramos agreed to a 2 yr $19 M contract with a 3'rd year option.  I love Wilson Ramos!  He's been my go-to guy at catcher in fantasy baseball the past several years.  When he's healthy, he is one of the top 3 or 4 catchers in baseball, but he has had trouble avoiding the DL the past 2 years.  Catching has been a black hole for the Mets as Travis d'Arnaud who was supposed to be their catcher of the future has also been injury plagued and largely ineffective.  Great signing by the Mets who just massively upgraded their catching position at a reasonable price.  Now, Ramos just needs to stay healthy!

With Buster Posey coming off surgery and with Cameron Rupp and Aramis Garcia his backups, Ramos would have been a terrific signing by the Giants even at this price.  Ramos has spent his entire career on the east coast, so the Giants may have had to pay quite a bit more to get him to come west.


Multiple sites including MLBTR are referring to the rumored contract between RHP Joe Kelly and the Dodgers for 3 yrs/$25 M as a done deal.  I still cannot find any formal announcement. The Dodgers own website refers to it as an "apparent" deal.  Maybe writers on these sites have just moved on to other news and don't have time to go back and formalize it?  Maybe it's not a done deal after all?  If anyone can find a confirmation, please post in Comments.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Josh Jung

Josh Jung, 3B, College(Texas Tech).  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 215 lbs.

2017:  .306/.395/.453, 14 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 12.46 BB%, 15.57 K%, 289 PA.
2018:  .392/.491/.639, 17 2B, 6 3B, 12 HR, 12.34 BB%, 10.13 K%, 316 PA.

2017 California Collegiate League:  .368/.454/.521, 6 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 11.11 BB%, 13.19 K%.

Josh Jung comes from the same college as Kelby Tomlinson and current Giants 2B prospect, Orlando Garcia.   He won Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year in 2017.  He led the conference in BA, OBP and RBI in 2018 and led the Red Raiders to the to College World Series.  His MLB profile says he consistently barrels the ball to all fields with a disciplined approach at the plate. On video, he has a short, quick stroke to the ball and keeps his elbows bent and arms close which should prevent him getting tied up inside.   He has a strong arm and has pitched a little, albeit not very successfully.  He is expected to be able to handle 3B defensively.  The MLB profile calls him a below-average runner, but the triples in his stat line suggest his speed may be underrated.  College bats are the safest draft picks and Jung looks like a good one.  He is ranked 6'th in MLB's Draft Prospect list but #30 on Fangraphs list.


DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.  5-tool athlete with a MLB bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon).  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  4+ tool prospect with best wheels in draft.  Power lags a bit.

4.  Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor):  Solid catching prospect with potential to be a plus bat.

5.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal):  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him more than the scouts.

6.  Josh Jung, 3B, College(Texas Tech):  Disciplined bat with power potential.  Has arm to play 3B at highest level.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Alex Reyes

Alex Reyes RHP, Cardinals.  DOB:  8/29/1994.  6'3", 175 lbs.

TBH, I am not sure if Alex Reyes still qualifies as a prospect or rookie or not.  He's at exactly 50 MLB IP which is the cutoff.  He is listed on MLB and Fangraphs prospect lists and darn it!  I want to to talk about Alex Reyes, to there!  I am going to talk about him!

This is the third time Reyes has made my list of Impact Rookies.  He's an incredible physical presence on the mound who is bigger than his listed weight and in a good way.  After posting a 1.57 ERA in 46 IP, in 2016, he was all set for a huge breakout in 2017 but missed the entire season with a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery.  He again appeared to be ready for his huge breakout in 2018 running up a line of 3-0, 0.00, 23 IP, 7 BB, 44 K's in 4 rehab starts at 4 levels before tearing a lat tendon 4 innings into his first MLB start of the season.

He is now reportedly fully recovered and training for a SP role.  He'll make a third try for a breakout in 2019 and I am buying!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Indians Ship Yonder Alonso to White Sox

There were several fairly low level deals done around the Hot Stove today.  The biggest was the Yonder Alonso trade from the Indians to the White Sox.  You had to sense that Alonso was going somewhere after the Indians acquired Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers in one day.  Even AL teams can only use so many 1B/DH types or their rosters.  The Indians received OF Alex Call who put up fairly average numbers in A+/AA last season.


36 yo Ian Kinsler agreed to a 2 year/$8 M contract with the Padres.  Kinsler still provided plus D and Baserunning but his offense is is fading manifested by a career-worst slash line of .240/.301/.380 with the Angels and Red Sox last season.  Kinsler and Padres GM AJ Preller know each other from when both were with the Rangers.  I'm guessing he is being brought in for the proverbial veteran leadership.


The Tigers signed former Pirates SS Jordy Mercer to a 1 yr/$5.25 M contract with an additional $250 K available in incentives.  Mercer slashes a lackluster .251/.315/.381 last year.


The Giants did not sign or trade for any players today.  None of the above transactions should impact the Giants positively or negatively.  None of the players involved would be fits on the Giants roster.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Jumpstart Rebuild.... With Rule 5 Draft

The Giants took a deep dive into the Rule 5 Draft today selecting 2 players in the MLB phase for the first time in their history and 2 more in the AAA phase.  Lets break it down.

Round 1 Pick 7:  Travis Bergen LHP.  DOB:  10/8/1993.  6'1", 205 lbs.

2018 A+:  0-1, 1.71, 21 IP, 13.29 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, 1 Save.
2018 AA:  4-1, 0.50, 35.2 IP, 10.85 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, 7 Saves.

Lefty reliever from Blue Jays organization with terrific K/BB who can face both L/R handed batters.  He reportedly has a low-mid 90's FB with high spin plus a curveball and changeup. He obviously has enough stuff to miss bats.  AA to MLB is a big jump but at least if you've pitched successfully in AA, you have a ghost of a chance of pitching successfully in MLB.  Other teams are reportedly showing a lot of interest in veteran lefty relievers Tony Watson and Will Smith, so maybe the Giants see Bergen as insurance in case they get an offer on Smith or Watson they can't refuse?  I expected the Giants to select MIF Drew Jackson from the Dodgers if he was on the board, which he was, but this is a nice pick who has a great chance to stick on the 25 man roster and could fill a key role in 2019.

Round 2(only pick):  Drew Ferguson, OF.  DOB:  8/3/1992.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

AAA:  .305/.436/.429, 11 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 6 SB, 15.8 BB%, 20.9 K%, 292 PA.

The Giants were the only team to make 2 picks in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft and they picked up an intriguing OF from the Astros with their second pick.  Ferguson missed the first 2 months of the season with a fractured hand but came back strong with a rather eye-popping walk rate and OBP, although the power is more gap than HR.  He can run some and is reportedly capable of playing all 3 OF positions which basically makes him Gorkys Hernandez with a lot better plate discipline.  The fact that he had a successful season in AAA gives him a great chance of sticking on the 25 man roster as a 4'th or 5'th OF. Another nice pick!

AAA Phase:

Peter Maris, SS.  DOB:  9/16/1993.  B-L, T-R.  5'10", 175 lbs.

2018 A+:  .320/.405/.600, 7 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 12.1 BB%, 16.4 K%, 116 PA.
2018 AA:  .248/.337/.444, 10 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 11.7 BB%, 21.8 K%, 179 PA.

Originally signed as an undrafted FA by the Rays out of UCSB and no, he's not related to Roger Maris. Versatile player who has played all 4 IF positions and even a little OF.  His calling card is also plate discipline with gap and occasional HR power.  There is no offer-back rule for the AAA phase, so the Giants can play him at any level and keep him in the organization for the full 2019 season.  Ceiling is likely utility IF.

Sam Moll, LHP.  DOB:  1/3/1992.  5'10", 185 lbs.

2018 AAA:  1-3, 5.30, 18.2 IP, 9.16 K/9, 2.41 BB/9.

Another lefty reliever with AAA experience.  He actually pitched in MLB for the A's in 2017 albeit with a 10.80 ERA in just 6.2 IP,   His FIP and xFIP in 2018 were 2.96 and 3.56 respectively so his secondary stats are much more impressive than his ERA.  Hey! You can never have too many lefty relievers, especially if you are thinking about trading 1 or 2!


The Mariners(who else?), Indians and Rays pulled off a 3-way swap while Trader Jerry was lying in a  hospital bed with blood clots in his lungs.  Yikes!  This is actually pretty much 2 separate trades but somehow the Rays are sending $5 M to the Mariners who are also sending $6 M to the Indians.  Got that?  Anyway,

Mariners get DH Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance B draft pick(currently #77) from the Indians.

Indians get Carlos Santana from the Mariners.

Indians get 1B Jake Bauers from the Rays

Rays get IF Yandy Diaz and RHP Cole Sulser from the Indians.

This trade is so confusing I have no idea who got the best of it, but I'll go with the team getting the prospects, so the Rays.


The Brewers acquired LHP Alex Claudio from the Rangers for a Competitive Balance A draft pick(approximately #40)  Claudio was the Rangers Closer in 2017 but got BABIP'd to the tune of .366 in 2018 which caused his ERA to balloon to 4.48.  That BABIP suggests he's a decent bounceback candidate in 2019.  He gives the BrewCrew another lefty in the bullpen alongside Josh Hader.  Seems like a light return for the Rangers, but they seem to be in a rebuild phase and probably value the extra draft pick a bit more than other teams.  I could see Farhan Zaidi making a deal like this to acquire extra draft picks at some point.


The Mets re-acquired RHP Jeurys Familia with a 3 year/$30 M contract.  He would seem to be in line for a set up role after the Mets acquired Edwin Diaz earlier in the offseason, but that's a pretty strong late inning combo there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Don't Join Run On Pitchers

There was a run on pitchers at the Winter Meetings today with none of them going to the Giants.  First up was a pretty big surprise with Charlie Morton, who had been rumored to be mulling retirement signing a 2 year deal with the Rays for $30 M with assignment bonuses of $1 M and $500 K if he is traded in 2019 or 2020 respectively.  There is also an option for 2021.  I really like this deal for the Rays.  Morton is 35 yo, but has been getting better with age and seems like a pretty good bet to more than cover his cost in on-field production.


The Rangers are reportedly nearing a 3 year/$30 M deal with RHP Lance Lynn, which seems to be awfully rich for a guy who will be playing his age 32 season and has scuffled a bit over the past 2 seasons.


The Reds acquired RHP Tanner Roark in a trade with the Nationals for 26 yo pitching prospect Tanner Rainey who excites scouts with a triple digit FB but has a wild hair up his nose.  Roark has put up ERA's of 4.67 and 4.34 over the past 2 seasons but has thrown 361 innings over that span.  Seems like a solid pickup for the Reds, but the Nationals were willing to essentially give him away due to a projected $9 M+ salary in 2019.


The Yankees reportedly agreed to a 2 year/$34-35 M contract with LHP JA Happ. The deal comes with a 3'rd year option.  No word yet on the buyout price.  This signing probably takes the Yankees out of any trade scenario for Madison Bumgarner.


In addition to the pitching run, the Angels signed 1B Justin Bour to a 1 year/$2.5 contract.  This one is a bit curious because the Angels already have a first baseman in Albert Pujols and a DH in Shohei Ohtani.  Bour was likely signed as a bat off the bench with depth.  He's run hot and cold over his career but his a very dangerous hitter when he's hot.


Rule 5 Draft tomorrow AM......and the Giants select IF Drew Jackson!(prediction).

Hot Stove Update: Andrew McCutchen Won't Be Coming Back to the Giants

The Phillies reportedly agreed to a 3 year/$50 M contract with OF Andrew McCutchen. The deal included a $15 M option for 2022 with a $3 M buyout.  Cutch was one of several 3'rd tier OF FA's after Bryce Harper(Tier 1) and AJ Pollock(Tier 2) which is itself a bit odd given Cutch's relative durability and Pollock's extensive injury history.  The rap on McCutchen is he is just not a CF anymore and is still adapting to a shift to corner OF.  Maybe the bat is a bit short for corner OF?  Still, he was the best hitter on a weak Giants team last year before a late trade to the Yankees.  He should enjoy better power numbers playing in the Phillies crib which is much more hitter friendly than AT&T Park.  

The Phillies are thought to be still pursuing Bryce Harper but the McCutchen signing takes some of the pressure off that avenue and creates some interesting trade possibilities for other members of a crowded OF.  Would the Giants be interested in Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens or Roman Quinn?


The White Sox bolstered their rotation by acquiring RHP Ivan Nova from the Pirates for a 19 yo RHP prospect.  Nova is an innings eater who will likely put up an ERA in the mid-4's.  He is entering the last year of a 3 year/$26 M contract.  The kid the Pirates are getting put up some nice K/BB ratios in the low minors last year. The Pirates also get $500 K in international bonus pool money in the deal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Don't Sign Tyson Ross, Claim Mike Gerber

Mike who?  The Giants claimed OF Mike Gerber off waivers from the Tigers who had to place him there because they are overflowing with talent.  Wait!  What?

Mike Gerber, OF.  DOB:  7/8/1992.  B-L, T-R.  6'0", 190 lbs.

2018 AAA:  .213/.277/.411, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 7.0 BB%, 32.6 K%, 316 PA.
2018 MLB:  .095/.170/.119, 8.5 BB%, 44.7 K%, 47 PA.

Gerber had put up decent minor league numbers before last season, but his walk rates had been declining and his K rates had been climbing.  When his BABIP normalized, his BA collapsed.  Yes, when BA is that low it does matter.  So, what does Farhan Zaidi see in Gerber?  Maybe the 60 power in his scouting report?  Maybe the 25 HR's/600 PA?  Maybe he spent 2018 working on a new swing? Maybe he's 2019's Max Muncy?  We'll see. The move takes up 1 spot on the 40 man roster but still leaves room for a Rule 5 pickup on Thursday.


Meanwhile, the Tigers signed RHP Tyson Ross to a 1 year/$5.75 M MLB contract with additional $250 K in bonus opportunities.  Ross pitched a full season last year with the Padres and Tigers with a pitching line of

8-9, 4.15, 149.2 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.3 K/9.

Those are not vintage Tyson Ross numbers but it was his first full season in 3 after a string of injuries.  He had an ERA of 2.73 after being selected off waivers late in he season by the Cardinals, but his peripheral stats were actually worse with the Cardinals.

Gotta say, this contract is for a good $2-3 M more than I had projected for him.  Compare his numbers from last year to another comeback pitcher named Derek Holland and I think you'd have to say Holland's absolute floor is 2 years/$15 M.  Yikes!


Billy Hamilton signs with the KC Royals.  Giants wanted to trade for him last Hot Stove League, but his numbers cratered in 2018 and I don't see him as being a Farhan Zaidi kind of player anyway.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Scouting the Offseason: Winter Meetings Preview

In the last several years of the Sabean/Evans administration, the Giants followed a fairly predictable offseason course.  They needed starting pitching?  How do you like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija?  They needed a Closer?  Well, dang! Here's the guy we should have traded for at the deadline last year, Mark Melancon!  Third base?  Hey!  We can get Evan Longoria and still stay under the CBT threshold!  Outfielder?  Andrew McCutchen would look mighty nice in a Giants uniform!

This season is different and for more reasons than a new GM.  The Giants have some clear needs but also a strong feeling that the old approach of throwing money and hoping it will plug holes has reached a saturation point and continuing to do that will just dig the hole deeper.  The Giants need to plug holes to be competitive but they also need to find ways to upgrade the overall talent in the organization.  They need to get younger, more athletic, more powerful.  They probably can't do all that in one offseason.  It's debatable whether they can do it at all without a complete teardown and rebuild which according to Managing Partner Larry Baer is "not in our DNA."

A big question none of us know is what players currently in the organization does Farhan Zaidi believe are untouchable?  Does he believe any of them are?  The one big trade chip from the MLB roster is Madison Bumgarner.  A couple of years ago, ever trading him would have been unthinkable. Now there is some question whether they can get enough in return for him to make it worthwhile.  The 2 big trade chips on the farm are Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart.  For a team that needs to get younger, more athletic and stronger, they should be untouchable, but they aren't guys that Zaidi drafted, so does he value them as much as the previous regime and most of us do?  

Baseball's Winter Meetings are really obsolete affairs in terms of player transactions.  With modern communication and travel options, there is really no need for all of MLB management to gather in one physical location to acquire players and strike deals.  Last year, not a whole lot happened at the Winter Meetings and most of the offseason action occurred much later.  This year, a whole lot of action has already gone down.  Given the state of the Giants and how fast the hot stove heated up this year, it would be disappointing if Zaidi returns at the end of the week empty handed.  It just feels like he needs to do something fairly dramatic and different than methodically plugging holes.

Will he come away with a franchise player in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?  Will he get an offer he can't refuse for Madison Bumgarner?  Will he go for volume and depth like he did in LA?

We'll be writing up Hot Stove Updates with as close to instant analysis as we can get while writing around a full work schedule, so stay tuned!

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Fernando Tatis Jr.

Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, Padres.  DOB:  1/2/1999.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 185 lbs.

2018 AA:  .286/.355/.507, 22 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 16 SB, 8.4 BB%, 27.7 K%, 394 PA.

If the thought of Franmil Reyes and Franchy Cordero in the Padres lineup for the next few years doesn't get your attention, maybe this kid will.  You will recognize the name as he is the son of a retired MLB player.  Junior is a true SS with size and athleticism.  He was headed for a 20/20 season in AA at age 19 until it was cut short with a fractured thumb that required surgery.  He finished 2017 in AA too so he could well start the 2019 season in AAA.  The Padres don't have a whole lot standing in the way of him taking over the SS position, but I'm sure they will find a reason to keep him down until the requisite service time requirements all line up.  As you can see, the K rate is up there so he may have an adjustment period and SS is a fairly strong position around MLB right now.  He should definitely be owned in deep keeper leagues.

Friday, December 7, 2018

State of the Giants: The Giants Are Becoming the A's

Farhan Zaidi is proving that even though he was the Dodgers GM for the past 4 seasons, his heart was still in Oakland, with the A's.  His first front office hiring as President of Baseball Operations for the Giants was JP Ricciardi, a founding member of Billy Beane's original Moneyball gang.  Late today, Andy Baggerly reports that Scouting Director John Barr is being replaced by Mike Holmes, the A's Assistant Scouting Director and a member of the A's front office since 2005 where he worked with Zaidi.  Holmes will be in charge of amateur scouting and the draft.  At the same time, Baggs is reporting that Zack Minasian will be the new Director of Pro Scouting. Minasian grew up with the game of baseball as his father was the clubhouse manager for the Rangers when he was a kid.  His brother works in the Braves front office.  Minasian comes over from the Brewers.

As you recall, I did an exhaustive analysis of the Giants drafts under John Barr.  Although the yield from his first round picks has been less than stellar, in most cases the next several picks taken by other teams did not pan out any better so it does not seem likely another scouting director or scouting team would have done better.  On the other hand, scouting and the draft is an area I said the Zaidi needed to take a hard look at.  Well, it seems like he did take a hard look and decided to make a change.  We'll see if getting the old (A's) gang back together will be a winning team for the Giants.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Cameron Rupp to Minor League Deal

OK, don't exhale just yet, ye who wait with baited breath.  This is not a major transaction.  The Giants signed veteran catcher, Cameron Rupp, to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training and an opportunity to earn $750 K if he makes the team.  Rupp received substantial playing time with the Phillies from 2015-2017.  He hit with some thump in his bat knocking 39 dingers in 1127 MLB PA's albeit playing in a hitter-friendly home ballpark.  He spent all of last year in the minors  with 3 different organizations and a combined slash line of .223/.320/.425.

Rupp is 30 yo and is huge, listed at 6'2", 260 lbs.  He is not considered a great defensive catcher.  His pitch framing stats have been average to poor.  What this signing means for Nick Hundley remains to be seen.  Farhan Zaidi may just want more depth at the position in light of Buster Posey's hip surgery or he may be thinking he can replace Hundley on the cheap and re-allocate the $ difference elsewhere on the roster.

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Shea Langeliers

While we wait with baited breath for Farhan Zaidi's first major transaction as Giants GM, we'll keep on scouting the 2019 draft in which the Giants will make the 10'th pick.

Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor).  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 190 lbs.

2017:  .313/.388/.540, 14 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 9.88 BB%, 15.23 K%, 243 PA.
2018:  .252/.351/.496, 18 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 13.06 BB%, 16.79 K%, 268 PA.
2017(Cape Cod League):  .234/.324/.469, 8 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 9.66 BB%, 24.14 K%, 145 PA.

Langeliers is the other college catcher rated as a top 10 pick on many early draft boards.  He's not as big as Adley Rutschman but defnitely has a catcher's frame.  Whereas Rutschman exploded offensively in his sophomore season, Langeliers shined as a freshman then took a step back in 2018.  If you look closely at the secondary numbers though, the lower sophomore numbers were almost entirely due to a BABIP drop from .337 to .263, both of which are likely to regress to something in the middle.  He hit just .234 on the Cape but more than half of his 30 hits went for XBH's.

Langeliers has a simple, quick swing with almost not load and only a minimal slide step with his front foot.  I do not see an arm bar. He is still able to generate power with quick torso rotation.  One scouting report from a professional scout on the 2080 website seemed to really like the swing and projects him as a plus hitter with power.  I actually like his body and swing mechanics better than Andrew Vaughn, plus he has the positional advantage on Vaughn.


DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS:  5-tool athlete with bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St):  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS:  4+ tool prospect with best wheels in draft. Power lags a bit.

4. Shea Langeliers, C, College(Baylor):  Solid catching prospect with potential to be a plus bat.

5.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal):  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him more than the scouts.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Francisco Mejia

Francisco Mejia, C/3B/OF.  DOB:  10/27/2018.  B-S, T-R.  5'10", 180 lbs.

2018 AAA(Indians):  .279/.328/.426, 22 2B, 7 HR, 5.4 BB%, 17.3 K%, 336 PA.
2018 AAA(Padres):  .328/.364/.582, 8 2B, 7 HR, 5.3 BB%, 18.9 K%, 132 PA.
2018 MLB(Padres):  .179/.258/.375, 3 HR, 8.1 BB%, 30.6 K%, 62 PA.

Francisco Mejia was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Brad Hand from the Padres to the Indians.  He's been a catcher most of his minor league career but the Indians were trying to increase his positional versatility.  Whatever Mejia is going to become in the majors, he's ready to start doing it now.  Padres seem to want him as a catcher, but they also have Austin Hedges.  Mejia could eventually be a top option at catcher, but probably not much fantasy impact right away due to playing time issues.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Nate Eovaldi Stays in Boston

Nate Eovaldi's scintillating postseason run paid off big time for him as the Red Sox agreed to pay him $68 M over the next 4 seasons to pitch for them.  Eovaldi's has always had a huge upside, but has battled a series of injuries throughout his career including 3 elbow surgeries.  Although the stuff is undeniable, his numbers have not always reflected that.  His highest K/9 in his MLB career was last season at 8.19 which is good, but not what you would expect from a triple digit flame thrower.  He ERA of 3.81 was only the second time it's been under 4.00.  So yeah, Nate Eovaldi has the stuff to be an ace but he's also a guy with a history of 3 elbow surgeries who throws extremely hard with an extremely violent delivery. What are the chances that a guy with that profile stays healthy for 1 full season let alone 4?


2B Jonathan Schoop signed a 1 year contract with the Minnesota Twins for $7.5 M.  That's more than I thought he would get after being non-tendered by the BrewCrew, but he can provide big time power from a MI position so it may work out great for the Twins and for Schoop who will be a FA again next season.


The Astros signed C Robinson Chirinos to a 1 year $5.75 M contract.  Chirinos batted just .222 last season but OPS'd .757 with 18 HR's.  He is said to be not a good pitch framer and took some blame for the Rangers pitching struggles last season.  Maybe the Astros figure they can teach him how to frame pitches?

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Andrew Vaughn

Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal).  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 214 lbs.

2017:  .349/.414/.555, 12 HR, 19 BB, 24 K, 218 AB.
2018:  .402/.531/.819, 23 HR, 44 BB, 18 K, 199 AB.
2017 West Coast League:  .235/.409/.294, 3 BB, 1 K, 17 AB.
2018 Cape Cod League:  .308/.368/.654, 5 HR, 3 BB, 10 K, 52 AB.

MLB Pipeline released their Draft Top 50 yesterday and it looks a bit different than other early rankings with college bats ranked relatively higher, which is probably more realistic.  Again, pitching looks very light.  Their #3 is Cal 1B Andrew Vaughn who raked his first 2 college seasons and performed well on the Cape this summer.  Vaughn has a relatively rare combination of plate discipline, contact and power that makes him an elite hitting prospect.  Only statistical downside is his position where he'll have to keep on raking, but he appears to have the bat to handle it.  Although stuck at 1B, he's considered a good fielder at the position with an arm strong enough to have pitched a little.  Unfortunately the video looks show a very bad body that calls to mind Dan Uggla more than Paul Goldschmidt.  He also has a hug leg kick and a swing that looks a bit on the long side.  So, do you believe the numbers or the video? The Giants have steadfastly refused to draft players with his profile in the first round under Brian Sabean, but that could change under Farhan Zaidi.


DrB's updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.  5-tool athlete with bloodline who can stick at SS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St).  Excellent catching prospect whose bat had a huge sophomore breakout.

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  4+ tool SS prospect with best wheels in the draft. Power lags a bit.

4.  Andrew Vaughn, 1B, College(Cal).  Top college power bat in the draft.  The numbers guys will like him more than the scouts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Paul Goldschmidt Leaves NL West

The D'Backs are not going to compete in 2019 and Paul Goldschmidt was not going to be a D'Back in 2020, so the D'Backs shipped Goldy and his 1 season contract of $14.5 M to the Cardinals for RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly 2B prospect Andy Young and a B Compensation draft pick.  Let's break it down:

Paul Goldschmidt- After a slow start to 2018 in April and a terrible May, Goldy raked like Goldy the rest of the way and ended up with a .290 BA, 33 HR and an fWAR of 5.1.  2015 may have been his peak season, but he's still pretty danged good.  He gives the Cardinals a huge boost in the middle of their lineup.  Matt Carpenter can go back to 3B and voila!  They have a lineup that should contend for a championship, at a very inexpensive price and very low risk.  Great add for the Cards if they are making a run in 2019, which they obviously are.

Luke Weaver- Weaver took a step back last year with an ERA of 4.95 in 136.1 IP.  But he's just 25 years old and has multiple years of control on his contract.

Carson Kelly- Kelly appeared to be the successor to Yadier Molina in St Louis, but Yadi just ain't havin' it!  Kelly scouts as a superior defensive catcher with a middling bat in the minors which so far has not translated at the MLB level but he really has not gotten many chances either.  D'Backs can now afford to give him the playing time he needs to find his true talent level in MLB, whatever that is.

Andy Young- 2018 A+:  .276/.372/.444, 12 HR, 8.8 BB%, 16.8 K%, 351 PA.  2018 AA:  .319/.385/.556, 9 HR, 4.6 BB%, 17.1 K%, 152 PA.  Young is the type of prospect the Cardinals are famous for.  Low round draft pick(37) who does a lot of things well, but nothing great.  Could be playing 2B for the D'Backs by midseason or earlier.

Analysis:  This is all about the D'Backs getting what they could for Goldy before he left via free agency.  Although all 3 return player either have MLB experience or are close to MLB ready, they all have relatively high floor/low ceilings and none of them are "sure things.".  Maybe a tad light from the D'Backs end?

As for the Cardinals, raised their odds of winning the NL Central, NL Pennant and World Series in 2019 with this move.  This puts tremendous pressure on the Cubs and BrewCrew to not stand pat.  Does it increase their interest in a certain NL West pitcher who will also be a free agent after 2019? Stay tuned.  The Hot Stove is burning up!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Madison Bumgarner's Market Boosted

Madison Bumgarner's trade market got a boost today when top pitching free agent Patrick Corbin did not sigh with the Yankees or Phillies.  Instead, he went to the Nationals who were willing to commit to a 6'th year as in 6 years/$140 M.  Now, Corbin had an excellent season last year, but if the Nationals want to invest in a 29 yo pitcher with declining velocity and an increasing reliance on the slider, hey, go for it!  I'm just happy the Giants aren't on the hook for that!

Speaking of the Giants....There is a fairly steep drop-off between Corbin and the next best lefty starter on the market.  Dallas Keuchal had 1 near-ace season, but has failed to duplicate it.  The Yankees are said to still be in the market for a front end lefty SP and the Phillies definitely are.  So, who has a low cost front end lefty SP to trade?  That would be the Giants. With Corbin off the market and the teams most analysts think might want to trade for Bum still presumably in the market, well, Bum's trade value just went up.  Not sure how much it went up, but it went up.  That is reason enough to be happy for this signing.....and that Corbin won't be pitching for an NL West team!

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Nick Senzel

Nick Senzel, 3B/2B/OF?.  DOB:  6/29/1995.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 205 lbs.

2018 AAA:  .310/.378/.509, 12 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 8 SB, 9.8 BB%, 20.2 K%, 193 PA.

Senzel was a #2 overall draft pick in 2016 as a college 3B.  He has progressed rapidly as expected.  He probably would have made his MLB debut last year but for a series of illnesses and injuries.  First there was vertigo(more on that later) then a fractured finger and finally a sore elbow that kept him out of the AFL.  He was diagnosed with bone spurs and had surgery.

The bat seems to be ready.  It's a high BA/OBP bat with gap power and moderate HR power.  The intriguing thing about Senzel is where he's going to play.  Scouts feel he has the speed and athleticism to play CF, very unusual for a college 3B, and the Reds now have an opening there.

The biggest risk with Senzel is health.  Vertigo tends to be a recurrent condition and bone spurs tend to grow back.  Whenever he debuts, he should be an immediate fantasy baseball asset.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Mariners Fire Sale Blazes On

Wow!  If there was any doubt the Mariners are in full teardown/firesale mode, it got erased today as Trader Jerry struck again.  This time he sent SS Jean Segura, RHP Juan Nicasio and LHP James Pazos to the Phillies for SS JP Crawford and 1B/3B/OF Carlos Santana.

Jean Segura:  Segura is a good player who has put up fWAR's  of 3.0 and 3.8 his last 2 seasons.  He has completed just 1 year of a 5 year/$70 M contract for an AAV of $14 M.  Fangraphs values his production for the past 2 seasons at $23.6 M and $30.1 M.  Given that he turns 29 years old in March, there is a strong probability that he brings back a strongly positive return on investment over the next 4 years of the contract.  Segura is rumored to be not the most popular player in any clubhouse and he might have been even more disgruntled if he had to go through a reload, let alone a rebuild, so maybe that factored into the decision to trade him.

Juan Nicasio:  Nicasio pitched in terrible luck last year with a ERA of 6.00 but a K/9 of 11.36 and a BB/9 of 1.07.  His FIP and xFIP were 2.99 and 3.16 respectively.  He is 32 yo and enters the second year of a 2 year/$17 M contract with a great chance to bouncback in 2019.

James Pazos:  I had never heard of Pazos before today but he pitched well for the Mariners last year racking up 50 IP out of the bullpen with a 2.88 ERA.  I believe he is pre-arbitration eligible.

JP Crawford:  Crawford is a former first round draft pick from 2013 who has worked his way up the Philly organization despite never really hitting well in the minors.  He is reputed to be a good defensive SS but his UZR stats don't really bear that out.  Last year he battled injuries and compiled an fWAR of 0.3 in 138 PA while batting just .214.  Maybe he's a late bloomer but at this point you have to seriously doubt that he will ever live up to his early promise.

Carlos Santana:  The Phillies signed Santana to a 3 yr/$60 M contract prior to last year which was probably a bit rich for a player who fits better in a DH league.  He hit just .229 last year but hit 24 dingers and maintained strong peripherals.  He's never had strong BABIP's but the .231 he had last year should be good for a positive regression.  Still, it is unlikely that he will bring back positive value on the remaining 2 years of his contract.

Analysis:  This is a terrible trade for the Mariners even if you factor in the firesale aspects of this.  They trade a player who is locked into a favorable contract for 4 more years for a player who is close to being a first round draft pick bust, and they don't even get that much payroll relief!  The only justification for this trade I can see is if the Mariners were desperate to get Segura out of their clubhouse at almost any cost.