Saturday, December 15, 2018

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Scouting the 2019 Draft: CJ Abrams

CJ Abrams, SS, HS.  B-L, T-R.  6'2", 180 lbs.

Abrams is a lean, wiry athlete with 5 tools out of Georgia.  He's thin enough now that his uniform kind of hangs off him but the frame looks like it can handle more bulk.  He is extremely fast with a 6.24 60 yd dash time and routinely gets down to first base in under 4 secs.  Velocity on IF throws is 91 MPH so he has the arm to stick at SS.  Power is more gap at this point but with upside.

On video the swing is pretty simple with minimal load.  He slide steps the front foot.  There is some wrap at the beginning of the swing and it looks a bit long to me, but is smooth and athletic looking.  He stops just short of barring his right arm.  He just looks a bit more raw to me than Bobby Witt Jr. but some analysts think he could surpass Junior on draft boards if his bat continues to develop.

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DrB's Updated 2019 Draft Board:

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS.

2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St).

3.  CJ Abrams, SS, HS.

Hot Stove Update: Mariners and Mets In A Blockbuster

Trader Jerry is back at it and pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Brodie Van Wagenen the new Mets GM.  Here's the deal:  M's send 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz and $20 M to the Mets and receive OF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak, OF Jarred Kelenic, RHP Justin Dunn and RHP Gerson Bautista.  I agree with Craig Edwards of Fangraphs.  This is best analyzed by breaking it town into two separate trades:  1.  Cano and $20 M for Bruce and Swarzak.  2.  Diaz for Kelenic, Dunn and Baustista.  So lets get to it!

Trade #1:

Robinson Cano:  Cano is a big star player who is in the middle of a very large contract of 10 years/$240 M.  Cano has been terrific for the Mariners over the past 5 seasons posting fWARs of 5.6, 2.8, 6.2, 3.2 and 2.9 for a value of $198.7 M, or $78.7 M of surplus value.  He still played at a high level while on the field in 2018 putting up his 2.9 fWAR in just a little over half season worth of PA's.  He missed a big chunk of the season for a hand injury and a PED suspension(furosemide/Lasix, a diuretic).  The problem with the rest of his contract is it is for 5 years/$120 M and he is 36 years old making it very unlikely that the second half will be as productive  as the first and unlikely it will be close to break-even for the team.  What make this even more problematic for the Mets is they already have a young, cost-controlled 2B, Jeff McNeil, who put up 2.7 fWAR in 2018.  The reported plan is to move McNeil to 3B.  One more tidbit:  Mets GM Van Wagenen was Cano's agent who negotiated the original contract with the Mariners.

Jay Bruce:  Bruce is well known to most serious baseball fans.  He is a slugging RF who struggles on defense. He has a 3-true outcomes type of hitter who is highly dependent on dingers for his value.  He is coming off a terrible season which was shortened by a hip injury.  He has posted just one fWAR greater than 0.4 in the past 4 seasons.  He is one year into a 3 year/$39 M contract.  It is unclear how much of that total will be assumed by the Mariners.

Anthony Swarzak:  Swarzak is a relief pitcher also coming off a terrible season in which he posted an ERA of 6.15(although his xFIP was just 4.33).  He has 1 yr/$8 M left on a 2 year contract.

Summary:  If you count the Bruce and Swarzak contracts as sunk costs and add in the $20 M cash, the M's are giving between $54 M and $57 M in salary relief to the Mets making it a net of approximately $65 M of cost for the rest of Cano's contract or approximately $13 M per year through age 41 in 2023.  While Cano may be worth that an more for the first couple of seasons, the Mets are still likely to be underwater with it by the end of the contract.  Add in that they already had a pretty good 2B in McNeil and it's hard to justify this additional commitment.  They might have been just as well or better off simply releasing Bruce and Swarzak and eating the $35 M.  As for the M's, this part of the deal likely makes them worse in the short term but relieves them of a significant long term cost. They do still have Dee Gordon who can now return to his established position at 2B, unless they find a trading partner for Gordon.  Mariners win this part of the trade mainly due to the longterm salary relief.

Trade #2:

Edwin Diaz:  Diaz was the best Closer in MLB in 2018.  Better yet, his contract is controlled for 4 more years and he is not eligible for arbitration until 2020.

Jarred Kelenic:  #6 overall draft pick in 2018.  I really like him as a prospect and would not have been unhappy if the Giants took him at #3 overall.  He got off to a nice start to his pro career:

2018 R:  .253/.350/.431, 8 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 11 SB, 11.0 BB%, 19.5 K%, 200 PA.
2018 R;  .413/.451/.609, 2 2B, 2 3B, HR, 4 SB, 7.9 BB%, 21.6 K%, 51 PA.

He looks poised to move rapidly but realistically likely won't reach the majors before 2021.

Justin Dunn:  23 yo #19 overall draft pick in 2016.  Reportedly has a 4 pitch arsenal.

2018 A+:  2-3, 2.36, 45.2 IP, 10.05 K/9, 2.96 BB/9.
2018 AA:  6-5, 4.22, 89.2 IP, 10.54 K/9, 3.71 BB/9.

Ceiling is likely a #3 SP in MLB.  He could make his MLB debut as early as midseason 2019.

Gerson Bautista:  Will turn 24 yo on 5/31/2019.  He's a hard throwing relief pitcher who doesn't always know where the ball is going.

2018 AA:  1-0, 4.82, 9.1 IP, 14.46 K/9, 0.00 BB/9.
2018 AAA:  3-1, 5.22, 39.2 IP, 12.25 K/9, 4.08 BB/9, 3 Saves.
2018 MLB:  0-1, 12.46, 4.1 IP, 6.23 K/9, 10.38 BB/9.

Ceiling is MLB Closer but has considerable work to do on his control/command to reach it.

Summary:  By trading both Diaz and Colome in the past 2 days, the Mariners signal that they are in full teardown mode rather than re-tooling.  I am not convinced that is the direction they should go, but if it is, they got a very nice haul of prospects in return for a volatile asset.  Short term win for the Mets, long term win for the M's.  Let's put it this way:  I would be only slightly disappointed if the Giants got this return for Madison Bumgarner.  I really like Kelenic as a prospect.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays, 3B.  DOB:  3/16/1999.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 200 lbs.

2018 AA:  .402/.449/.671, 19 2B, 14 HR, 3 SB, 7.9 BB%, 10.2 K%, 266 PA.
2018 AAA:  .336/.414, .564, 7 2B, 6 HR, 11.7 BB%, 7.8 K%, 128 PA.
2018 AFL:  .351/.409/.442, 7 2B, 8 BB, 6 K's, 77 AB.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is apparently a chip off the old block because if you look up the old man's numbers, put them side-by-side with the kid's without any ID, you could not tell the difference.  Maybe Jr. walks a bit more, but yeah, everything else is the same.  Vlad Jr. has absolutely destroyed the pitching at every level he's played.  We can argue over whether the hit and power tools are 70 or 80 on the scouting scale, but the bat is special.  No question!.

The only problem is finding him a position to play.  Junior is not built like his dad.  The young Vlad Sr. had amazing rawboned strength.  Junior is shorter and pudgier with a huge lower half.  I don't know if he weighs 240 lbs like one recent scouting report said but he's definitely heavier than 200. Think a young Miggy Cabrera for a body comp.  The BJ's are trying to make him a 3B.  He's probably ultimately a 1B or even DH, but the bat may make all that academic.  I did read one scouting report that had him down the 1B line in 4.28 secs, which is really fast.  If he's really that fast, which I doubt, he should be able to play a corner OF.

The bat is probably ready now.  The BJ's will probably say he needs work on his D and keep him down until about May 1, but he's almost certainly coming up in 2019 and will be immediately rosterable in all fantasy baseball formats.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Catcher Carousel

Catching seems to be in a transitional phase around MLB.  Between free agents and trades that have already been made, it seems likely that a large number of teams will have new starting catchers in 2019, but not ones who are new to the league.  There were 2 more significant moves today.

The Mariners filled the position left open by the Mike Zunino trade by acquiring Omar Narvaez from the White Sox for RHP Alex Colome.  Narvaez slashed .275/.366/.429 in 322 PA last year while filling in as the starter when Welington Castillo was slapped with a 50 game suspension.  Maybe the ChiSox thought Narvaez expendable with Castillo coming back but what if Castillo gets suspended again?  What if he gets hurt?  As for Colome, last year was a big letdown after posting 47 Saves in 2017.  He was traded from the Rays to the Mariners midseason where he was setup man for Edwin Diaz.  Both Diaz and Colome are now likely traded away by Trader Jerry.  Seems like a fairly even trade, but now what will the Mariners do for a bullpen?  Maybe this is a rare trade that hurts both teams?  It seems like both teams substantially weakened one area to strengthen another.   Stay tuned for more moves, especially from Trader Jerry.

The Indians sent Yan Gomes packing to the Nationals for a couple of prospects, OF Daniel Johnson and RHP Jefry Rodriguez.  This his a nice pickup by the Nationals who will pair up Gomes with recently acquired Kurt Suzuki for a significant upgrade of the position over last season.  What's not clear is why the Indians are practically giving away Gomes.  In-house replacements consist of extremely weak hitting Roberto Perez and prospect Eric Haase who struck out over 30% of the time in the minors and will likely struggle to hit .200 in the majors.  Maybe the Indians are going to make a run at a FA catcher, but then why didn't they just keep Gomes?  Nationals win this trade.

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The Giants signed Joe Panik and Sam Dyson to contract extensions, thus avoiding arbitration.  They also tendered a contract to Will Smith but Smith has not accepted meaning they could be headed for arbitration.  Gorkys Hernandez and Hunter Strickland were not tendered contracts and were designated for assignment.  As a writer on another blog said, if Zaidi can't find upgrades on both Gorkys and Strick, why did the Giants hire him?

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A few non-tender names of note:  Billy Hamilton, Avisail Garcia, Jonathan Schoop, Shelby Miller.  I could be crazy, but I have this feeling Shelby Miller is a big comeback candidate for 2019. If Bobby Evans were still the GM, it would be almost a slam dunk for the Giants to sign Billy Hamilton, but Hamilton seems like the exact opposite of the type of player Farhan Zaidi is likely looking for.

Hot Stove Update: Padres To Sign Garrett Richards

While we wait to see if the Mets back away from one of the worst trades in baseball history, RHP Garrett Richards announced via Twitter that he agreed to a free agent contract with the Padres.  Terms of the deal are said to be 2 years/$15.5 M with an additional $2.5 M in incentives.  Richards was one of my offseason targets for the Giants even though he will miss most or all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery.  When healthy, he's an elite hurler well worth his MLBTR projected contract. Spread over 2 years, the AAV is just $5 M which is close to a negligible hit on the CBT.  The fact he received $15.5 shows other teams viewed him the same way and he benefitted from a rumored bidding war between the Dodgers and Padres.

I still like the deal but a little less than I did at $10 M.  First of all, the Padres are guaranteed to get little or nothing in return in 2019 and while the majority of pitchers do have some form of success after TJ, it's not necessarily in the first season back and some don't come back at all, so there are real risks the entire $15.5 M goes for naught.  I'm OK with letting the Padres take that risk, but I'll grind my teeth when Richards pitches a shutout while striking out 12 Giants in a game in 2020.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Bobby Witt Jr

Bobby Witt Jr, RHP/SS, HS.  DOB:  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 185 lbs.

Bobby Witt Jr. has been on scouting radars at least since he was a freshman in HS.  He is the son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt.  2-way player in HS but will be drafted as a SS.  He can play any IF position well.  He throws 92 MPH from a mound and from the IF.  He runs the 60 yd dash in 6.4 sec which is fast.  He's hit 100 MPH with exit velocity.

On video he looks wiry strong with outstanding proportionality and smooth, athletic actions.  In other words, he looks darn good in a baseball uniform!  Swing is simple albeit a bit on the long side with a small bat wrap.  Front leg lift is simple. I would not call it a kick.

He is ranked as the #1 2019 draft prospect by MLB Pipeline and several other early rankings.  Fangraphs has him a bit lower at #9.  I don't think Witt Jr is quite in the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado tier of HS draft prospects, but he's pretty darn close.  He should rapidly develop into a perennial All-Star SS.

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DrB's 2019 Draft Board

1.  Bobby Witt Jr., RHP/SS, HS.
2.  Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St.).

Statistically the best draft demographic is college hitter and I was all ready to put Rutschman ahead of Witt Jr. until I saw the videos.  Can't pass on the athleticism and upside Bobby Witt Jr. brings.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Three Minor League Free Agents

There was a flurry of minor league FA signings with the Giants announcing 3.  Here they are:

Levi Michael, 2B.  DOB:  2/9/1991.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 180 lbs.

2018 AA(Mets):  .305/.391/.470, 30 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 13 SB, 7.8 BB%, 20.8 K%.

Former 2011 first round pick(#30) by the Twins out of North Carolina.  Has had an up and down pro career. Hits righties and lefties about the same.  Will compete with Ryan Howard and CJ Hinojosa for placement and playing time.

Zach Green, 3B/1B.  DOB:  3/7/1994.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 210 lbs.

2018 AA(Phillies):  .296/.375/.578, 17 HR, 9.0 BB%, 25.6 K%, 312 PA.
2018 AAA(Phillies):  .248/.312/.432, 3 HR, 7.2 BB%, 35.5 K%, 138 PA.

Nice power numbers but I believe Reading and Scranton-Wilkes Barre are both hitter friendly venues.

Jin-De Jhang, C.  DOB:  5/17/1993.  B-L, T-R.  5/9", 225 lbs.

AA(Pirates):  .320/.373/.410, HR, 8.1 BB%, 10.4 K%, 135 PA.

Catching depth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thoughts on Launch Angle

I could have entitled this post Thoughts on Matty and The Hat.  We've been hearing and reading a lot about the "Launch Angle Revolution" in baseball with many teams teaching their players to use more of an uppercut swing in order to hit more flyballs and give themselves a chance for more HR's through the magic of HR/FB.  I am old enough to remember when a pretty famous player and manager went the other direction with a lot of success.

This was 1966 around the time I started listening to a lot of Giants games on the radio.  The Giants and Dodgers of course had their rivalry and were about to finish 1-2 on the NL for the second year in a row with the Giants coming up just short both times.  The 3'rd best team in the league was the Pirates whose manager was a hitting guru named Harry "The Hat" Walker.  Harry Walker had won a batting title as a player and was a perennial .300 hitter and was very vocal about his hitting ideas.  Harry's success as a left-handed hitter came from hitting line drives and groundballs up the middle and to the opposite field.  He thought he could help other hitters find success by following that game plan.

I don't know if Harry Walker knew anything about HR/FB, but he clearly did not believe this was a number that normalized the same for every hitter.  Here's a quote I found in a SI article from 1983, "The greatest hitter I ever knew was Ted Williams.  He had arm strength and the quickest hips I ever saw.  But in my career of 40-odd years, God didn't give us but one man like him, so you can't say everybody should hit like Williams.  You take a guy like Harry Walker, who's below average, and you try to get the average out of him."

Mateo "Matty" Alou was a small left-handed hitter who played with his 2 brothers, Felipe and Jesus, for the Giants.  Matty was just 5'9" and was listed at 160 lbs.  He might not have been that big.  With the Giants, he swung a light bat with an uppercut swing and did not have a lot of success after his rookie season of 1961.  That season he hit .310 with 6 HR's in 217 PA which projects to about 18 HR's over 600 PA's.  From there his BA's declined to .292, .145, .264 and .232.  He was traded to the Pirates before the 1966 season which coincided with Harry Walker's first full season as Manager.

Walker thought Matty Alou would be a perfect player for implementing his hitting ideas and convinced Matty to swing a heavier bat, chop down on the ball and try to hit it up the middle and to the left side.  The results were astounding.  Matty hit .342 and won a batting title.  He was not just a 1 year wonder either.  For the next 3 seasons with the Pirates, Matty did not hit less than .331.  You may scoff about empty batting averages but Matty put up fWAR's of 2.8, 3.4, 4.4 and 4.4 during that run.  OK that's not exactly MVP range but his highest fWAR with the Giants was 0.9.

Matty Alou was not the only player who Harry "The Hat" helped turn around.  Miguel Dilone, another small but fast player saw his BA jump from .220 in 1979 to .341 after working with Harry.  Omar Moreno never hit in the .300's, but with Harry's help was able to lift his BA from Mendoza Line territory into the mid .200's which got him on base enough to steal up to 96 bases in a season.  Moreno's career had more ups and downs than Matty Alou's which Moreno attributed to his own recidivism away from Harry Walker's approach.  Again from the 1983 SI article, he got away from punching the ball up the middle and to the opposite field and tried to pull the ball, with disastrous results.  Walker was no longer the Pirates Manager and Moreno made a pilgrimage to Walker's home in Birmingham, AL:  "The last 2 years I haven't hit that well because the Pirates tried to change me, so right now I'm trying to remind myself of everything I did in 1979.  Walker added, "Instructing a hitter is not so much changing him, but finding a guy's natural style of hitting and, when he gets out of it, trying to get him back into it.  Omar needs a few days to get in the groove."  Here's another Walker quote:  "I'm tired of hearing about pulling the ball.  That's misleading young hitters. Every Scout tells them to jerk the ball out. That's asking a kid to do something he can't. If you can't jerk it out, take it to centerfield.  Make adjustments."  Other hitters Harry Walker worked with who found success included Mookie Wilson, Phil Garner and Terry Puhl.

Harry Walker's approach clearly does not work for everybody.  You would not want Willie Mays or Willie McCovey trying to put the ball on the ground and slap it the other way.  Walker's approach probably works best for players like Matty Alou and Omar Moreno, lefty hitters with little power but who can run fast enough to beat out groundballs for singles.  You also would not want a lineup full of hitters like that, but having 2 or even 3 Matty Alou's or Omar Moreno's in the lineup would make a nice fit for the Giants in AT&T Park which severely suppresses HR's.

The early word on Farhan Zaidi is that he will look in the opposite direction to try to find hitters who will follow the Launch Angle Revolution and get the ball in the air.  After years of watching hard hit flyballs die on the warning track and in Triples Alley I wonder how successful that approach will be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Victor Robles

Victor Robles, OF, Nationals.  DOB:  5/19/1997.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 190 lbs.

2018 AAA:  .278/.356/.386, 2 HR, 14 SB, 9.9 BB%, 14.3 K%, 182 PA.
2018 MLB:  .288/.348/.525, 3 HR, 3 SB, 6.1 BB%, 18.2 K%, 66 PA.

2018 was supposed to be Victor Robles' big rookie season.  He's been an elite prospect for several years and had a short callup in 2017.  Instead, he spent a significant portion of the season on the DL  but shined in a small sample size September callup.  The only question marks for Robles in 2019 are health and the unsettled Nationals OF situation which should become much more clear when Bryce Harper signs with them or another team.  Assuming Harper goes somewhere else, Robles would be the clear favorite for CF over Michael Taylor with Juan Soto who went roaring past Robles last year taking over in RF.

Although Robles has plenty of power projection, he is currently more of a contact, gap-power hitter with speed to steal bases.

Here is his Steamer projection for 2019:

.273/.334/.416, 13 HR, 28 SB's, 30 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 28 SB, 6.7 BB%, 18.0 K%, 586 PA.

Whether that is rosterable in your fantasy league depends on the size of your league and parameters.  He would be very borderline in my 10 team H2H league but the SB's would probably make him a plus on someone's roster.  He would obviously be more attractive in larger leagues and leagues with a separate CF category.  He should already be owned in deep keeper leagues.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Braves Sign Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann

The Braves signed two well known veteran players with recent injury histories to 1 year contracts today.  The biggest move was signing 3B Josh Donaldson for $23 M.  After 5 consecutive seasons of hitting 24 or more HR's with a peak of 41 in 2015, Donaldson's mustered just 8 in 219 PA over 52 games due to injuries in 2018.  What happened here is that the GM who brought Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos, is betting on a rebound season and was willing to over pay for 1 year in order to avoid a multi-year risk.  It could turn out to be a great move if Donaldson stays healthy and performs as well as he did when on the field in 2018.  Worst case scenario is Donaldson is done and they part ways after the season.

The Braves also reunited with one of their old stars, Brian McCann.  McCann was also beset by injuries last season and had just 216 PA's.  He will be 35 yo next season and his playing time and performance has been slipping over the last 2-3 seasons.  The plan is apparently for him to form a L-R platoon with Tyler Flowers. It may not be a strict platoon though as that would give McCann roughly 75% of the starts on the season and he's probably no longer up to that.  At any rate, it's essentially a no-risk deal from the Braves standpoint at 1 year/$2 M.

I would say these moves have no impact on the Giants plans as neither player was one the Giants would likely have any interest in.

Scouting the 2019 Draft: Adley Rutschman

It might be a bit early in the cycle but I'm itching to dig into the 2019 draft and see who's might be available when the Giants pick at #10 overall(They finished with the 9'th worst record, but the Braves have a compensatory pick at #9 for not signing Carter Stewart last year).  The early trend in this cycle is weak pitching, especially at the college level.  The hitting is significantly better and fairly balanced between college and HS but probably a bit deeper at the college level.  First up:  Adley Rutschman.

Adley Rutschman, C, College(Oregon St).  B-S, T-R.  6'2", 215 lbs.

2017:  .234/.322/.306, 10.93 BB%, 15.79 K%, 247 PA.
2018:  .408/.505/.628, 22 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 17.21 BB%, 12.99 K%, 308 PA.

To say he had a breakout season in 2018 is an understatement.  As for wood bat experience, he hit just .164 in the Cape Cod League in 2017 but hit .355 for Team USA in 2018 so the breakout carried over into the summer.  The reversed K/BB is a strongly positive sign.

Rutschman is a big kid who looks like a catcher with a low center of gravity which gives him a strong base.  Scouting reports have him as a plus defensive catcher with a cannon for an arm, soft hands and excellent lateral movements behind the plate.  At the plate, he's more of a line-drive hitter who is closer to Buster Posey or Joe Mauer than Joey Bart who profiles as more of a pure power hitter, but the power potential is there for Rutschman.

He's the #2 draft prospect on MLB's board and #1 on Fangraphs.  The challenge for him is to resist the pressure to improve on a season that is about as good as it gets.  We've seen other college juniors stock fall under that pressure.  If his 2019 is anything close to 2018, he'll be off the board long before the Giants pick.  I've seen comments that the Giants would not be interested because of Joey Bart, but I disagree.  You take the best player available regardless of organizational need. Having 2 future all star catchers in the organization is not a bad thing and would eventually work itself out.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Free Agent Pitcher

The Giants signed minor league free agent Kieren Lovegrove, RHP. Lovegrove hails from Johannesburg South Africa.  He is 24 years old and has spent the last 7 years laboring in the Indians organization.  Coincidently, David Laurilia had a feature on him in Fangraphs on 11/18/2018 which is a fun read.  It seems that Mr Lovegrove is a bit of a Nuke LaLoosh character who throws very hard but has little idea where the ball is going or why making him a very Giantsy FA pitcher to sign.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Kieren did have the best results on the field of his career last year working through 3 levels of play, but the wild hair was never too far away from his nose.  Here is his combined stat line for 2018:

4-0, 2.73, 59.1 IP, 31 BB, 66 K, 3 Saves.

He seems to be a 2+ pitch pitcher with a FB and Changeup.  The + comes in because he throws a 4-seam FB but when it is down in the zone it moves like a 2-seam and when it is up it moves more like a standard 4-seam.

Welcome to the Giants, Kieren Lovegrove!

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Eloy Jimenez

Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox.  DOB:  11/27/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 2015 lbs.

2018 AA:  .317/.368/.556, 10 HR, 7.9 BB%, 17.9 K%, GB/FB= 1.00, 228 PA.
2018 AAA:  .355/.399/597, 6.1 BB%, 13.2 K%, GB/FB= 1.00, 228 PA.

A couple of years ago, my fantasy baseball league added 2 N/A roster spots which allows you to keep a couple of prospects on your roster without having to drop an active player.  Last year, I kept Eloy Jimenez on one of my N/A slots all season to no avail as the White Sox found excuses to keep him on the farm.  He probably won't be added in 2019 until after approximately May 1, but he'll be worth the wait whether you have an N/A on your fantasy roster or whether you have to stash him on your bench.

Jimenez does not run or catch particularly well.  There is some disagreement from different sources about his arm with Fangraphs rating it a 60 and projecting him as a RF, but MLB Pipleline says his arm has slipped and he's now barely a LF.  Nevermind that for fantasy baseball purposes.  He's got two tools nobody questions:  Hit and Power.  It does not matter if he plays LF or 1B or DH, the bat is going to play.  Steamer has him projected to hit .293/.342/.502, 23 HR  in 2019.  It does not hurt that the White Sox crib is hitter-friendly.

The one big question mark is whether he can stay healthy.  Last year saw him come to the plate more 456 times which is approximately 100 PA short of a full minor league season and he has visited the DL for 3 consecutive seasons.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Scouting the Draft: 2017 Giants Draft Review(Rounds 2-40)

So let's finally catch up with where the Giants later round picks from 2017 stand.  With 3 HS draftees at the top, this class will take longer to make final judgement.  List is by round:

2.  Jacob Gonzalez, 3B, HS:  Low A- .227/.296/.331, 8 HR, 7 SB, 6.1 BB%, 21.1 K%, 507 PA.  First full seasons have been known to grind down some pretty good HS draftees.  Gonzalez hit a decent .252 in the first half but collapsed to .199 in the second half.  I had not heard of him before draft day even though he is Luis Gonzalez' kid.  I liked Mark Vientos who the Mets took 1 pick later.  After that, it's pretty tough to make a case the Giants could have drafted better here.  The problem for Jacob going forward is the Giants have some pretty good 3B prospects behind him who will be hunting for playing time.  Grade C.

3.  Seth Corry, LHP, HS:  R- 3-1, 2.61, 38 IP,  9.95 K/9, 4.03 BB/9.  Short Season- 1-2, 5.49, 19.2 IP, 7.78 K/9, 6.86 BB/9.  Corry has shown dominance when he controls the strike zone but has a major wild hair that can get up his nose.  He's going to be a project.  Grade C-.

4.  Garrett Cave, RHP, College(Tampa):  Low A- 6-10, 5.20, 116 IP, 9.16 K/9, 5.20 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.77.  Hard thrower with strong K and GB rates.  Another Giants project to tame his wildness.  Grade C.

5.  Jason Bahr, RHP, College(Central Florida): Low A- 6-4, 2.75, 68.2 IP, 11.53 K/9, 2.75 BB/9.  A+(Giants)- 2-0, 1.69, 16 IP, 8.44 K/9, 1.13 BB/9.  A+(Rangers)- 2-4, 5.80, 35.2 IP, 8.07 K/9, 3.03 BB/9.  Was off to a nice start to his pro career with the Giants but was included in a trade to the Rangers as the price of taking Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin and their contracts off the Giants CBT ledger.  If there was one move that could/should have cost Bobby Evans his job, it was signing Austin Jackson, which never made sense from the get-go.  Grade B.

6.  Bryce Johnson, OF, College(Sam Houston St.):  A+- .249/.339/.324, HR, 31 SB, 10.6 BB%, 22.7 K%.  No power but can draw a walk, steal a base and cover ground in CF.  Grade C+.

7.  Logan Harasta, RHP, College(SUNY Buffalo):  R- 1-1, 1.10, 16.1 IP, 15.43 K/9, 2.76 BB/9.  Jumbo body.  Not sure what he was doing in rookie ball.  Maybe coming off some sort of injury?  Grade C.

8.  John Gavin, LHP, College(Cal St. Fullerton):  Low A- 5-5, 2.08, 95 IP, 10.52 K/9, 3.51 BB/9.  A+- 1-2, 5.60, 27.1 IP, 9.22 K/9, 3.29 BB/9.  Another big body.  Dominant in Low A which is too low a level for a major college draftee.  Peripherals in SJ look better than ERA.  Grade C+.

9.  Aaron Phillips, RHP, College(St Bonaventure):  Low A- 6-7, 3.72, 101.2 IP, 10.62 K/9, 1.42 BB/9.   Very nice numbers but placement very conservative.  Grade C+.

10.  Rob Calabrese, C, College(Illinois-Chicago):  Low A- .193/.283/.320, 5 HR, 3 SB, 8.4 BB%, 29.5 K%, 227 PA.  Disappointing numbers for a prospect who put up strong offensive numbers in the same college conference as Daulton Varsho.  Grade D.

11.  Doug Still, LHP, College(Missouri St):  Low A- 0-0, 3.00, 3 IP, 3.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9.  A+- 0-0, 7.71, 4.2 IP, 13.50 K/9, 1.93 BB/9.  Short Season- 2-0, 2.84, 19 IP, 9.95 K/9, 2.84 BB/9.  Hard to know what to make of these numbers spread out over several levels.  Peripherals look good, though.  Grade C?  Breakout candidate for 2019?

12.  Aaron Bond, OF, JC:  Short Season- .268/.320/.585, 14 HR, 8 SB, 7.0 BB%, 28.9 K%, 201 PA.  Low A- .205/.301/.218, 3 SB, 12.8 BB%, 30.9 K%, 94 PA.  5-tool prospect with some pop in his bat. K rate is worrisome. Struggled in Augusta(what hitter doesn't?). Thrived in Salem-Keizer(what hitter doesn't?)  Has to get over the Augusta hump. Grade C+.

13.  Tyler Schimpf, RHP, College(Texas):  Low A- 4-4, 5.45, 38 IP, 10.42 K/9, 4.03 BB/9.  A+- 0-0, 3.86, 2.1 IP, 7.71 K/9, 0.00 BB/9.  Peripherals better than ERA.  Grade C.

15.  Orlando Garcia, SS, College(Texas Tech): Low A- .243/.342/.350, 8 HR, 9 SB, 11.4 BB%, 27.3 K%, 501 PA.  Conservative placement.  A bit of pop, a bit of speed, strong BB%, high K's.  Grade C+.

16.  John Russell, RHP, College(Connecticut): Low A- 8-5, 2.49, 61.1 IP, 10.57 K/9, 2.79 BB/9, 7 Saves.  A+- 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 11.25 K/9, 0.00 BB/9.  Could be a fast mover on the reliever track.  Grade  C+.

19.  Frankie Tostado, 1B/OF, JC: R- .281/.332/.415, 3 HR, 2 SB, 7.0 BB%, 12.3 K%.  Pro debut in rookie ball at age 20.  Nice numbers but at a low level in a strong hitting environment.  Grade C+. Grade A name, though.

21.  Logan Baldwin, OF, College(Georgia Southern):  Low A- .249/.310/.389, 6 HR, 26 SB, 5.9 BB%, 31.4 K%, 474 PA.  Like the SB's but the rest of the line is scary.  Grade C-.

22.  Greg Jacknewitz, LHP, College(Xavier): Short Season- 4-3, 6.88, 53.2 IP, 7.55 K/9, 3.35 BB/9.  Jacknewitz has yet to show he can compete with pro hitters at any level.  Grade D-.

23.  Shane Matheny, 3B, College(Washington St): Low A- .205/.292/.287, 6 HR, 9.9 BB%, 30.0 K%, 363 PA. Disappointing numbers from a guy who seemed to have strong peripherals up to this season.  Not sure where he fits from here.  Grade D.

24.  Nico Giarratano, SS, College(San Francisco):  Short Season- .269/.337/.421, 5 HR, 9.3 BB%, 21.1 K%, 193 PA.  Hit near the Mendoza line in college, but the bat was surprisingly good here.  S-K though.  Grade C+.

25.  Franklin Van Gurp, RHP, College(Florida International):  Low A- 4-0, 1.77, 40.2 IP, 10.62 K/9, 3.54 BB/9.  A+- 1-0, 6.95, 22 IP, 13.50 K/9, 8.18 BB/9.  Struggled after promotion to SJ.  K rate remains strong, though.  Grade C.

26.  Kyle McPherson, SS, College(James Madison):  Short Season- .314/.370/.493, 7 HR, 7.4 BB%, 14.1 K%, 311 PA.  Moved to 2B.  Nice hitting line in a low level, hitter friendly venue.  Grade C+.

28.  Peter Lannoo, RHP, College(Cornell):  Low A- 1-2, 3.38, 18.2 IP, 9.16 K/9, 1.93 BB/9.  A+- 1-7, 4.19, 58 IP, 6.05 K/9, 3.26 BB/9, 2 Saves.  He also pitched 1.2 shutout innings for AA Richmond.  Unimpressive numbers at age appropriate level(A+).  Grade C.

29.  Frank Rubio, RHP, College(Florida):  Low A- 0-1, 1.55, 29 IP, 9.93 K/9, 1.86 BB/9, 10 Saves.  A+- 2-2, 5.52, 31 IP, 6.68 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, 9 Saves.  Also pitched 4 innings in AA.  Seems to be on the Closer track, but peripherals in A+ not closer-like.  Grade C+.

34. Conner Nurse, RHP, HS:  R- 1-1, 3.23, 53 IP, 9.51 K/9, 4.42 BB/9.  Tall kid at 6'6".  Kid is a project but love the upside out of round 34.  Grade B.

35. Dalton Combs, OF, College(Huntington(Ind)):  .318/.375/.512, 5 HR, 5.6 BB%, 24.3 K%, 144 PA.  College corner player.  Was S-K's hottest hitter down the stretch, but at age 23.  Grade C+.

36.  Joey Marciano, LHP, College(Southern Illinois):  Low A- 4-3, 2.58, 80.1 IP, 7.95 K/9, 2.46 BB/9.  A+- 1-4, 8.33, 31.1 IP, 7.47 K/9, 4.31 BB/9.  You can really see the difference between Augusta and San Jose as time and again, pitchers put up great numbers in Augusta then faceplant in SJ.  Grade C.

37.  Andy Rohloff, RHP, College(Central Florida):  R- 1-1, 3.00, 24 IP, 10.50 K/9, 2.25 BB/9.  Should not be in rookie ball at age 22.  Grade C-.

I did not realize the Giants drafted Keaton Winn and Blake Rivera in this draft. They did not sign and were re-drafted by the Giants in much higher rounds with the requisite increase in signing bonuses.

There is still a lot of upside in this draft, especially from the HS kids, but there is also the possibility that the entire draft could end up as a washout.

Scouting the Draft; 2017 Draft Review(Selected Later Picks)

Before run down the remainder of the Giants 2017 draft, let's take a look at selected picks after round 1 with emphasis on players we scouted.

32.  Jeter Downs, Reds, SS, HS:  Low A- .257/.351/.402, 13 HR, 37 SB, 9.9 BB%, 19.7 K%.  524 PA.  Solid mix of power, speed and plate discipline.  Grade B+.

33.  Kevin Merrell, A's, SS, College(South Florida):  A+- .267/.308/.326, 5 SB, 5.2 BB%, 22.8 K%, 290 PA.  Disappointing numbers.  Grade C-.

35.  Brent Rooker, Twins, OF, College(Mississippi St.):  AA- .254/.333/.465, 22 HR, 6 SB, 9.9 BB%, 26.4 K%, 568 PA.  Aggressive placement first full season with solid numbers.  I had him as the best power bat in the draft and would not have been disappointed if the Giants took him in the first round despite his corner profile.  Could be hitting dingers for the Twins by midseason.  Grade A.

36.  Brian Miller, Marlins, OF, College(North Carolina):  A+:  .324/.358/.398, 19 SB, 5.1 BB%, 9.8 K%, 276 PA.  AA- .267/.319/.313, 21 SB, 6.3 BB%, 13.6 K%.  AA numbers were down a tick, but it's an aggressive promotion and again, midseason promotions are tough.  Grade B+.

38.  Stuart Fairchild, Reds, OF, College(Wake Forest):  Low A- .277/.377/.460, 7 HR, 17 SB, 11.2 BB%, 26 K%, 276 PA.  A+- .250/.306/.350, 2 HR, 6 SB, 7.0 BB%, 26 K%, 242 PA.  Fair numbers but conservative placement.  Grade C.

39.  Luis Campusano, Padres, C, HS:  Low A- .288/.345/.365, 3 HR, 6.7 BB%, 15.1 K%, 284 PA.  Giants were rumored to be in on this kid possibly has high as round 1. Giants fan because he's from Augusta, GA and the Greenjackets.  More likely they were looking at him for round 2.  He didn't get to them as the Padres grabbed him.  Profiled as a power bat with contact issues.  These numbers are the opposite of that.  Grade B.

41.  Drew Waters, Braves, OF, HS:  Low A- .303/.353/.513, 9 HR, 20 SB, 5.8 BB%, 19.7 K%, 365 PA.  A+- .268/.316/.374, 3 SB, 6.0 BB%, 24.8 K%, 133 PA.  Fine numbers in the SAL.  Aggressive promotion.  Better HS OF prospect than Heliot Ramos? He is a year older.  Grade B+.

42.  Greg Deichmann, A's, OF, College(LSU):  A+- .199/.276/.392, 6 HR, 9.2 BB%, 34.1 K%.  Grade  D.

47.  Griffin Canning, Angels, RHP, College(UCLA):  A+- 0-0, 0.00, 8.2 IP, 12.46 K/9, 3.12 BB/9.  AA- 1-0, 1.97, 45.2 IP, 9.66 K/9, 3.74 BB/9.  AAA- 3-3, 5.49, 59 IP, 9.76 K/9, 3.36 BB/9.  Classic polished college pitcher.  I saw him pitch in the first game of the season against the SJ Giants.  He was dominant.  Moved up quickly all the way to AAA.  Got hit hard there, but it's the PCL and his FIP and xFIP were lower than his ERA. Could make his MLB debut in 2019.  Grade A-.

50.  Calvin Mitchell, Pirates, OF, HS:  Low A- .280/.344/.427, 10 HR, 4 SB, 8.3 BB%, 22 K%, 495 PA.  I have a rooting interest in Calvin as he is related to my cousin through marriage.  Solid numbers in the age appropriate SAL.  Grade B.

51.  Joe Dunand, Marlins, 3B, College(North Carolina St):  A+:  .263/.326/.391, 7 HR, 7.3 BB%, 19.8 K%, 273 PA.  AA- .212/.276/.369, 7 HR, 6.7 BB%, 29.7 K%, 239 PA.  Has gotten some ink for being A-Rod's nephew.  Fair A+ numbers. Took a dip in AA, but that's an aggressive promotion.  Think of it as getting a head start on AA for 2019.  Grade C.

52.  MJ Melendez, Royals, C, HS:  Low A- .251/.322/.492, 19 HR, 4 SB, 9.1 BB%, 30.3 K%, 472 PA.  Strong power numbers for a HS draftee in their first full season.  Grade B+.

53. Joe Perez, Astros, 3B, HS:  R- .364/.500/.364, 14 PA.  Light tower power and can also pitch.  Made a headline or two before the draft for hitting a ball into a cloud and nobody saw it come down!  Late start on pro career due to TJ surgery.  Grade- Incomplete.

54.  Matt Sauer, Yankees, RHP, HS: Short Season- 3-6, 3.90, 67 IP, 6.04 K/9, 2.42 BB/9.  California kid who I liked before the draft.  Pedestrian K rate.  Grade C.

55.  Sam Carlson, Mariners, RHP, HS:  DNP.  Kind of a carbon copy of Matt Sauer.  Missed the 2018 season due to TJ.  Grade Incomplete.

56.  Corbin Martin, Astros, RHP, College(Texas A&M):  A+- 2-0, 0.00, 19 IP, 12.32 K/9, 3.32 BB/9.  AA- 7-2, 2.97, 103 IP, 8.39 K/9, 2.45 BB/9.  Hard thrower.  Pitched relief in junior season of college.  Was rated much higher on some pre-draft boards.  Great results so far.  Grade A-.

59.  Mark Vientos, Mets, SS, HS:  R- .287/.389/.489, 11 HR, 14.1 BB%, 16.4 K%, 262 PA.  Nice numbers but rookie ball.  Grade C+.

61.  Hagen Danner, Blue Jays, C, HS:  R- .279/.409/.432, 2 HR, 14.6 BB%, 25.5 K%, 137 PA.  2-way player in HS.  I thought he was a bit overrated.  Nice numbers but should be in full season league.  Grade C+.

63.  Cole Brannen, Red Sox, OF, HS:  Short Season- .181/.276/.205, 12 SB, 11.6 BB%, 32.0 K%, 147 PA.  Low A- .157/.246/.205, 9 SB, 9.2 BB%, 30.3 K%.  Sweet swinging lefty hitter in HS.  Struggling to get traction as a pro.  Grade D.

64.  Quentin Holmes, Indians, OF, HS: R- .158/.304/.211, 2 SB, 23 PA.  Reputed to be the fastest player in the draft.  Missed most of the season with a hammy injury.  Grade Incomplete.

65.  Wil Crowe, Nationals, RHP, College(South Carolina):  A+:  11-0, 2.69, 87.0 IP, 8.07 K/9, 3.10 BB/9.  AA- 0-5, 6.15, 26.1 IP, 5.13 K/9, 5.47 BB/9.  Pretty good numbers in A+ ball but hit a wall after aggressive promotion to AA.  Grade B-.

66.  Hans Crouse, Rangers, RHP, HS:  Short Season- 5-1, 2.37, 38 IP, 11.13 K/9, 2.61 BB/9.  Low A- 0-2, 2.70, 16.2 IP, 8.10 K/9, 4.32 BB/9.  Not quite as good after promotion to low A.  Grade B-.

67. Cory Abbott, Cubs, RHP, Collge(Loyola Marymount):  Low A- 4-1, 2.47, 47.1 IP, 10.84 K/9, 2.47 BB/9.  A+- 4-5, 2.53, 67.2 IP, 9.84 K/9, 3.46 BB/9.  Grade B+.

68. Daulton Varsho, D'Backs, C, College(Wisconsin-Milwaukee):  A+- .286/.363/.451, 11 HR, 19 SB, 8.8 BB%, 20.8 K%.  Nice numbers for a small conference college catcher.  The SB's are particularly eye-opening.  Grade B+.

72.  Conner Uselton, Pirates, OF, HS:  R- .225/.280/.250, 6.9 BB%, 17.7 K%, 175 PA.  I had this kid ranked pretty high.  Slowed by injuries.  Grade D.

74.  Zac Lowther, Orioles, LHP, College(Xavier):  Low A- 3-1, 1.16, 31 IP, 14.81 K/9, 2.61 BB/9.  A+- 5-3, 2.53, 92.2 IP, 9.71 K/9, 2.53 BB/9.  Small conference lefty who was a late riser on draft boards.  Strong start to pro career.  Grade B+.

76.  Blayne Enlow, Twins, RHP, HS:  Low A- 3-5, 3.26, 94 IP, 6.80 K/9, 3.35 BB/9.  Strong class for prep pitching.  Solid start to pro career but K rates could be higher.  Grade B-.

77.  Jacob Heatherly, Reds, LHP, HS:  R- 1-5, 5.82, 38.2 IP, 11.41 K/9, 9.31 BB/9.  Seemed like he was advanced for a HS pitcher.  Guess not.  Grade D.

81.  Nick Allen, A's, SS, HS:  Low A- .239/.301/.302, 24 SB, 6.6 BB%, 16.6 K%, 512 PA.   Diminutive stature. Reps as a defensive SS.  Showed some speed.  Grade C+.

83.  Connor Seabold, Phillies, RHP, College(Cal St. Fullerton):  A+- 4-4, 3.77, 71.2 IP, 8.54 K/9, 1.75 BB/9.  AA- 1-4, 4.91, 58.2 IP, 9.82 K/9, 2.91 BB/9.  Aggressive promotion to AA.  High floor college pitcher.  Grade B+.

84.  KJ Harrison, Brewers, C, College(Oregon St.):  Low A- .228/.298/.384, 12 HR, 8.4 BB%, 31.5 K%, 466 PA.  Grade C.

97.  Quinn Brodey, Mets, OF, College(Stanford):  Low A- .217/.287/.389, 10 HR, 7 SB, 7.5 BB%, 26.7 K%.  A+- .245/.313/.382, 3 HR, 4 SB, 8.9 BB%, 27.7 K%, 112 PA.  Grade C.

100.  Connor Wong, Dodgers, C, College(Houston):  A+- .269/.350/.480, 19 HR, 6 SB, 8.8 BB%, 32 K%, 431 PA.  3 true outcomes college catching prospect.  Grade B.

105.  Keegan Thompson, Cubs, RHP, College(Auburn):  A+- 3-3, 3.19, 67.2 IP, 8.11 K/9, 1.73 BB/9. AA- 6-3, 4.06, 62 IP, 7.84 K/9, 3.05 BB/9.  Another polished college pitcher.  Made AA.  Grade B.

119.  Colton Hock, Marlins, RHP, College(Stanford):  Low A- 9-8, 4.45, 91 IP, 7.62 K/9, 2.08 BB/9.  At one point as being touted as a first rounder.  Stock slipped badly during his junior season when he pitched mostly out of the bullpen for Stanford.  Decent numbers here, but level is too low for pitcher drafted out of a major conference.  Grade C.

120.  Michael Gigliotti, Royals, OF, College(Lipscomb):  .235/.435/.471, 24 PA.  Missed most of 2018 season with a ACL injury.  Grade Incomplete.

161.  Alex Scherff, Red Sox, RHP, HS:  R- 0-0, 1.80, 5 IP, 5.40 K/9, 1.80 BB/9.  Low A- 1-5, 4.98, 7.06 K/9, 3.18 BB/9.  I had Scherff ranked as a borderline first rounder.  I might have been a big high on him.  Grade C-.

166.  Ricky De La Torre, Twins, SS, HS:  R- .254/.328/.396, 4 HR, SB, 7.9 BB%, 27.5 K%, 159 PA. I really liked what I saw of this kid in scouting videos.  Appy League is an advanced version of rookie league.  He's a project and not likely to stick at SS.  Grade C.

207:  Evan Skoug, White Sox, C, College(TCU):  Low A- .192/.283/.299, 5 HR, 4 SB, 10.9 BB%, 29.9 K%, 311 PA.  The bat has to play for this defensively challenged college catcher.  Unfortunately, he's struggled with the bat since the beginning of his junior season in college.  Grade D.

210:  Brewer Hicklen, Royals, OF, College(Alabaman-Birmingham):  Low A- .307/.378/.552, 17 HR, 29 SB, 6.9 BB%, 28.2 K%, 347 PA.  A+- .211/.263/.310, HR, 6 SB, 5.1 BB%, 33.3 K%, 78 PA.  Stumbled in a late season promotion to A+ which should be his age appropriate level.  Grade B-.

261.  Jared Poche, A's, LHP, College(LSU):  Low A- 8-6, 4.41, 130.2 IP, 7.23 K/9, 2.34 BB/9.  Ultimate polished college lefty.  Pedestrian numbers at too low a level.  Grade C.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Scouting the Draft: 2017 Draft Review(Picks 21-30)

So, this is the part where we take a look at who was drafted after the Giants and see who was still available when they made their pick.  The big one, of course is the Dodgers at #23.

21.  DL Hall, Orioles, LHP, HS:  Low A:  2-7, 2.10, 94.1 IP, 9.54 K/9, 4.01 BB/9.  Hall was linked to the Giants in several mock drafts throughout the cycle.  Hard thrower with reported velocities up to 96 MPH.  Strong first full season at age appropriate level.  Grade B(I'd still take Heliot Ramos long term upside).

22.  Logan Warmoth, Blue Jays, SS, Collge(North Carolina):  A+- .248/.322/.319, HR, 9 SB, 9.3 BB%, 21.4 K%.  Disappointing first full season at age appropriate level.  Grade C.

23.  Jeren Kendall, Dodgers, OF, College(Vanderbilt):  A+- .215/.300/.356, 12 HR, 37 SB, 10.5 BB%, 32.0 K%, 494 PA.  Kendall has tools galore and was the top draft prospect in most early rankings.  His stock slipped dramatically as the strikeouts piled up his junior season at Vandy.  In his first full pro season, he showed decent power, plus speed on the basepaths and a strong walk rate, but all that was undercut by the horrendous K rate which suppressed his OBP to unacceptable levels.

Here's where I stop and wonder who the Dodgers would have selected if both Heliot Ramos and Kendall were available? The Giants obviously made that choice.  I also wonder if the Giants would have taken Kendall if Ramos was off the board?   Kendall's tools are impressive and he's farther up the chain than Ramos, but can you really call this a successful season that that BA and OBP?  It seems to me Kendall is running out of time to significantly alter his approach.

Grade C

24.  Tanner Houck, Red Sox, RHP, College(Missouri):  A+- 7-11, 4.24, 119.0 IP, 8.39 K/9, 4.54 BB/9.   Another highly ranked college SP whose stocked dropped during his junior season.  He gets a point for being a relative workhorse but the rest of the line does not look inspiring.  Grade C.

25.  Seth Romero, Nationals, LHP, College(Houston):  Low A:  0-1, 3.91, 25.1 IP, 12.08 K/9, 2.84 BB/9.  Possibly the best stuff of any pitcher in this draft.  Stock dropped dramatically when he ran into a series of off-field issues which got him booted off his college team.  His agent is Scott Boras who is tight with Nationals ownership and apparently convinced them to draft him.  He got sent home from spring training for violating team rules.  Reinstated midseason, he put up some nice numbers at too low a level then underwent TJ surgery in August.  Grade F.

26.  Bubba Thompson, Rangers, OF, HS:  Low A- .289/.344/.446, 8 HR, 32 SB, 6.3 BB%, 28.7 K%, 363 PA.  Nice numbers for his first full season but he's 2 years older than Heliot Ramos.  Grade B.

27.  Brendon Little, Cubs, LHP, JC:  Low A- 5-11, 5.15, 101.1 IP, 7.99 K/9, 3.82 BB/9.  Giants drafted him in 2016. Improved his stock with a second season in JC ball.  Low A numbers not looking good.  Grade D.

28.  Nate Pearson, Blue Jays, RHP, JC:  A+- 0-1, 10.80, 1.2 IP, 5.40 K/9, 0.00 BB/9.  Hard thrower.  TJ surgery.  Grade D.

29.  Chris Seise, Rangers, SS, HS:  DNP.  Seise' stock ticked up near the end of the 2017 draft cycle.  Hit .336 in rookie ball after the draft.  Missed all of 2017 after undergoing a right shoulder "rotator cuff cleanout" procedure.  Yikes!  Grade Incomplete, but I would say future at SS is uncertain at best.

30.  Alex Lange, Cubs, RHP, College(LSU):  A+- 6-8, 3.74, 120.1 IP, 7.55 K/9, 2.84 BB/9.  Stock dropped in the draft cycle due to a stat line at LSU that looked a lot like this.  Not nearly the kind of dominance you want from a frontline college SP. Grade C.

Scouting the Draft: 2017 Draft Review(Rounds 11-20)

While we wait for Farhan Zaidi to finish scoping out the Giants organization and start making moves, we'll continue our series of draft reviews.  Heliot Ramos at pick #19 went to the Giants and we'll take a look at where is pro career stands.

11.  Jake Burger, White Sox, 3B, College(Missouri St): DNP.  Burger missed the 2018 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.  Grade Incomplete.

12.  Shane Baz, Pirates, RHP, HS:  R(Pirates)- 4-3, 3.97, 45.1 IP, 10.72 K/9, 4.57 BB/9.  R(Rays)- 0-2, 7.71, 7 IP, 6.43 K/9, 7.71 BB/9.  Mixed results in rookie ball, but still has a high ceiling. Traded to the Rays midseason for Chris Archer.   Grade C.

13.  Trevor Rogers, Marlins, LHP, HS: Low A- 2-7, 5.82, 72.2 IP, 10.53 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, GB/FB= 1.56.  Peripherals better than ERA for this high ceiling LHP.  Grade C+.

14.  Nick Pratto, Royals, 1B, HS:  Low A- .280/.343/.443, 14 HR, 22 SB, 8.4 BB%, 27.9 K%, 537 PA.  I was not excited about Pratto coming into the draft.  He as a 2-way player in HS and I thought he did not quite have the arm for pitching and not enough bat for 1B.  I am most suprised by the 22 SB.  Maybe he could play OF?  Grade B.

15.  JB Bakauskas, Astros, RHP, College(North Carolina):  R- 0-0, 10.80, 1.2 IP, 10.80 K/9, 0.00 BB/9.  Short Season- 0-0, 0.00, 8.1 IP, 9.72 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.  Low A- 1-2, 4.20, 15 IP, 12.60 K/9, 4.20 BB/9.  A+- 3-0, 1.61, 28 IP, 9.96 K/9, 4.18 BB/9.   AA- 0-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 12.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9.  AFL- 2-1, 3.33, 24.1 IP, 10 BB, 24 K.  High floor college pitcher.  Missed a couple of months with in injury but looked fine at multiple levels after return from DL.  Got in some extra innings in the AFL.  Grade B.

16.  Clarke Schmidt, Yankees, RHP, College(South Carolina):  R- 0-2, 7.04, 7.2 IP, 14.09 K/9, 2.35 BB/9.  R- 0-0, 1.23, 7.1 IP, 9.82 K/9, 2.45 BB/9.  Short Season- 0-1, 1.08, 8.1 IP, 10.80 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.  Underwent TJ surgery prior to the draft.  Came back late June with mixed results.  Last appearance was 8/5/2018.  I was not able to find why he was shut down early.  Grade C-.

17.  Evan White, Mariners, 1B/OF, College(Kentucky): A+- .303/.375/.458, 11 HR, 4 SB, 9.7 BB%, 19.1 K%, 538 PA.  You hope to see more power in the future, but otherwise fine numbers for a first full pro season.  If he can play OF, the power might not matter as much.  Grade B+.

18.  Alex Faedo, Tigers, RHP, College(Florida):  A+- 2-4, 3.10, 61 IP, 7.52 K/9, 1.92 BB/9.  AA- 3-6, 4.95, 60 IP, 8.85 K/9, 3.30 BB/9.  I had him pegged as a pitch-to-contact innings eater when his name was at the top of mock drafts.  That's what his first pro season looks like too.  Grade B.

19.  Heliot Ramos, Giants, OF, HS:  Low A- .245/.313/.396, 11 HR, 8 SB, 6.5 BB%, 25.4 K%.  Farhan Zaidi commended Heliot just for sticking it out for a full season in Augusta which is an extreme pitcher-friendly environment in a pitcher's league.  He dropped his K rate from rookie ball and showed some pop in his bat.  Expected to see more SB's, but I'm not sure SB's in the minors are necessarily and good thing anymore.  Do the Giants keep him in Augusta for another year or promote him to San Jose where he will be very young for level and likely struggle?  I think it's almost inevitable that he repeats a year. Do you want that repeat year in Augusta or San Jose?.   Grade C+.

20.  David Peterson, Mets, LHP, College(Oregon):  Low A- 1-4, 1.82, 59.1 IP, 8.65 K/9, 1.67 BB/9.  A+- 6-6, 4.33, 68.2 IP, 7.60 K/9, 2.49 BB/9.  This is the guy I thought the Giants would draft if he was on the board and I would have been OK with it....except for the Heliot Ramos being a Dodger part.  Cautious assignments by the Mets with mixed results.  Peripherals look like a high floor college draftee. I'll still take Heliot's ceiling.  Grade B.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Scouting the Draft: 2017 Draft Review(Picks 1-10)

We scouted the 2017 draft in quite a bit of detail, so you should recognize the names of most of the players drafted in the first round.  This was the Giants Heliot Ramos draft.  I remember the exact moment I knew the Giants had to draft Ramos.  It was when I saw a mock draft that had him going to the Dodgers.  I let out an audible "oh no!" and just said, "the Giants cannot allow Heliot Ramos to get to the Dodgers!".  Seems like someone in the Giants front office might have been thinking along those same lines.  So, let's check in on how the first rounders from the 2017 draft are doing.  We'll list their 2018 stat lines and then just for fun give a letter grade based only on performance so far.

1.  Royce Lewis, Twins, SS, HS:  Low A- .315/.368/.485, 9 HR, 22 SB, 7.3 BB%, 15 K%, 327 PA.  A+- .255/.327/.399, 5 HR, 6 SB, 208 PA.  Midseason promotions are tough for prospects because all those players who started the season at a higher level have been getting better too.  High A is an aggressive promotion for a HS prospect in their first full season.  I remember being skeptical of Lewis' bat because of a slow bat-to-ball time.  That metric might not be the best measure of a batter's hit tool.  Grade A.

2.  Hunter Greene, Reds, RHP, HS:  Low A- 3-7, 4.48, 68.1 IP, 11.72 K/9, 3.03 BB/9.  HS pitchers are the highest risk demographic on draft day.  Greene was a 2-way player in HS but the Reds drafted him as a pitcher.  Peripherals look good here and he has maintained premium velocity in the pros.  Young pitchers who throw that hard tend to blow out their elbows and Greene's season was cut short by an elbow strain.  No TJ yet, but stay tuned.  Grade B.

3.  Mackenzie Gore, Padres, LHP, HS:  Low A- 2-5, 4.45, 60.2 IP, 10.98 K/9, 2.67 BB/9.  Gore was the darling of the draft analysts who proclaimed him the steal of the draft.  Peripherals look good but the season was interrupted by 3 trips to the DL.  At least the first one was due to finger blisters.  Grade B.

4.  Brendan McKay, Rays, LHP/1B, College(Louisville):  Low A- 2-0, 1.09, 24.2 IP, 14.59 K/9, 0.73 BB/9.  A+- 3-2, 3.21, 47.2 IP, 10.20 K/9, 2.08 BB/9.  Low A- .254/.484/.333, HR, 30.8 BB%, 14.3 K%, 91 PA.  A+- .210/.317/.403, 5 HR, 11.5 BB%, 27.3 K%.  College 2-way player who the Rays are allowing to pursue his dreams.  Pitching results are more promising so far.  Grade B+.

5.  Kyle Wright, Braves, RHP, College(Vanderbilt):  AA- 6-8, 3.70, 109.1 IP, 8.64 K/9, 3.54 BB/9.  AAA- 2-1, 2.51, 28.2 IP, 8.79 K/9, 2.51 BB/9.  MLB- 0-0, 4.50, 6 IP, 7.50 K/9, 9.00 BB/9.  First 2017 draft prospect to reach the majors in his first full season, no less!  Peripherals look more like a #3 profile than top of the rotation, but he should have a solid career as an MLB starter. Grade A-.

6.  Austin Beck, A's, OF, HS:  Low A- .296/.335/.383, 2 HR, 8 SB, 5.6 BB%, 21.9 K%, 534 PA.  This is where draft philosophy gets confusion.  The A's, who pioneered the concept of drafting lower cost, higher floor college prospects have gone all in for tools, tools, tools the last 2 drafts.  Beck was a late riser on draft analysts boards and was all tools.  Those are not half bad results from his first pro season, though.  Grade B.

7.  Pavin Smith, D'Backs, 1B, College(Virginia):  A+:  .255/.343/.392, 11 HR, 3 SB, 11.3 BB%, 12.9 K%, 504 PA.  With Paul Goldschmidt rumored to be on the trading block, Pavin Smith might be the D'Backs 1B of the future.  His profile is more Joey Votto than Goldy.  Power is a bit disappointing so far.  Grade B.

8.  Adam Haseley, Phillies, OF, College(Virginia):  A+- .270/.350/.380, 5 HR, 7 SB, 5.4 BB%, 15.3 K%, 354 PA.  AA- .316/.403/.478, 6 HR, 10.1 BB%, 11.9 K%, 159 PA.  We'll call this the Andrew Benintendi profile.  5-tool college OF's with plus-plus hit.  Better results after promo to AA.  Not sure what they are up to in Philly this offseason, but I could see Haseley in their OF by midseason.  Grade A.

9.  Keston Hiura, Brewers, 2B, College(UC Irvine):  A+- .320/.382/.529, 7 HR, 4 SB, 6.1 BB%, 20.6 K%, 228 PA.  AA- .272/.339/.416, 6 HR, 11 SB, 7.2 BB%, 18.2 K%.  2018 AFL MVP.  Drafted for his bat.  Seems to have recovered from UCL tear without undergoing surgery and is reportedly doing OK on defense at 2B.  Could be the Brewers starting 2B by May 1. Grade A.

10.  Jo Adell, Angels, OF, HS:  Low A- .326/.398/.611, 6 HR, 4 SB, 10.2 BB%, 24.1 K%, 108 PA.  A+- .290/.345/.546, 12 HR, 9 SB, 5.7 BB%, 24 K%, 262 PA.  AA- .238/.324/.429, 2 HR, 2 SB, 8.5 BB%, 31.0 K%, 71 PA.  Wow!  What a prospect!  What a season!  It's almost unheard of for a HS draftee to make AA in their first full season.  I called Adell having the highest ceiling of any player in the draft going in and now he's backing that up with on-field performance.  Will he play in the same OF as Mike Trout?  Grade A+!!