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November 13, 2012

BP Daily Podcast

Effectively Wild Episode 81: The Angels, the Reds, and Two Conflicting Closer Philosophies

Ben and Sam discuss the Reds' and Angels' approaches to bullpen-building, how Cincinnati's philosophy affects Aroldis Chapman's future, and which way the wind is blowing where the closer role is concerned.

Ben and Sam discuss the Reds' and Angels' approaches to bullpen-building, how Cincinnati's philosophy affects Aroldis Chapman's future, and which way the wind is blowing where the closer role is concerned.

Episode 81: "The Angels, the Reds, and Two Conflicting Closer Philosophies"

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Minor League Update

Games of November 12

Notes from the AFL as the rest of the leagues were off on Monday.

All notes are from the Arizona Fall League as all other leagues were off on Monday, aside from one makeup game in the Dominican Winter League. Two of the offensive stars in that 15-6 victory for the Estrellas de Oriente were journeymen minor leaguers Ed Rogers (3-for-5, RBI) and Alex Valdez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI), who have played in over 2100 minor league games combined in their career.

  • Nick Ahmed, SS, Braves (Phoenix): 2-for-3, RBI, BB, K, SB (5). Blocked at shortstop by Andrelton Simmons for the unforeseeable future, Ahmed would give the Braves a valuable asset if he has a good season in Double-A Mississippi next season. The 22 year-old plays solid defense at a premium position, has good speed (40 SB in 130 games), and flashed some extra-base power (36 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR) with Hi-A Lynchburg in 2012. 
  • John Hellweg, RHP, Brewers (Phoenix): IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 2 K, Sv (2). His future role is undetermined but Hellweg has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the AFL, allowing just 3 ER in 12 IP with 7 BB and 8 K. The 24 year-old still has a ways to go, regardless of his role, but his upper 90's fastball when working as a reliever combined with very tlittle bullpen depth in Milwaukee could could make this an easy decision for the Brewers. 
  • Jake Marisnick, CF, Blue Jays (Salt River): 1-for-3, 3B, SB (5). The Blue Jays' farm system is stacked with talented starting pitchers in the lower minors that could begin arriving in Toronto between 2014-15. Marisnick should also get to the big leagues during that span but don't expect him to be overshadowed. The 21 year-old, who has 14 hits in his last 33 at-bats in the AFL, is a 6-foot-4 center fielder with five-tool potential. He'll likely return to Double-A New Hampshire in 2013.
  • Jiovanni Mier, SS, Astros (Mesa): 3-for-5, 2B, 2 K.  The 21st pick in the 2009 draft, Mier's stock had already fallen by the time the Astros drafted 'Shortstop of the Future' Carlos Correa as the 1st overall pick in this year's draft. Mediocre offensive seasons in 2010-11 and the acquisition of another shortstop with a much higher ceiling (Jonathan Villar) knocked Mier off the prospect radar. The 22 year-old wasn't able to do too much during an injury-plagued 2012, although he had an .805 OPS in 46 Cal League games and has had a few moments in the AFL, including a three-hit game on Monday. He could start 2013 with Double-A Corpus Christi, where he'll continue to fight an uphill battle into the future plans of the Astros.
  • 
Mike O'Neill, OF, Cardinals (Surprise): 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB, K. He'll be 25 at the start of next season and has exactly 1 HR in 211 career minor league games, only 13 of which have been played above A-ball. He's also not a speed burner and his primary position is left field. So why is this O'Neill guy the least bit relevant? The 5'9" lefty has a career .337 BA and .443 OBP. He also hasn't slowed down a bit in the AFL with a .367 BA and .457 OBP. The overall skill set probably won't translate to success as a big league starter -- 4th OF is likely his ceiling -- and that's OK. I wouldn't bet against him, though.
  • Joe Panik, SS, Giants (Scottsdale): 2-for-4, K, SB (4), E (6). With each and every Brandon Crawford defensive gem in 2012, Panik's future as the Giants' shortstop became bleaker and bleaker. His 6 errors in 19 AFL games haven't helped much either. While his offensive potential is much greater than what Crawford will ever provide at the plate, it's unlikely good enough to offset the defensive drop off. Thus, a move to second base in the near future wouldn't surprise me at all, maybe even as early as the start of 2013 with Double-A Richmond.
  • Kevin Siegrist, LHP, Cardinals (Surprise): 4 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 8 K. Take out one bad start on October 24th and Siegrist has allowed just 1 ER in 17 IP with 5 BB and 25 K in 5 AFL games. The 23 year-old lefty is buried on the Cardinals' depth chart behind hard-throwing prospects like Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, and Trevor Rosenthal, so it was important that he pitched well while they weren't around to take away all the attention.
  • Matthew Stites, RHP, Padres (Peoria): 1.1 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 2 K. Teammate Kevin Quackenbush has been the star reliever in the AFL, not allowing a run or hit through his first 9.1 IP before a rough outing on Saturday, while Stites has quietly put up numbers that are equally impressive. After striking out two in 1.1 scoreless innings on Monday, the 22 year-old has 14 K in 13 IP with just 1 BB. In 48.2 IP with Lo-A Fort Wayne in 2012, Stites held opponents to a .148 BA with 3 BB and 60 K. Next up, in all likelihood, will be the closing gig for Hi-A Lake Elsinore in the Cal League, where Quackenbush dominated in 2012.

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November 12, 2012

Wezen-Ball

"Skyfall" and Baseball's Golden Age

The newest James Bond movie offers a reminder that things today really can be better than the golden age we remember.

"Skyfall", the newest entry in the James Bond franchise, earned $87.8 million in its US debut this weekend. Starring Daniel Craig as Bond (his third film as the good-looking spy), Dame Judi Dench as M, and "No Country For Old Men's" super-freak Javier Bardem as Silva, the creepy cybervillain with M---- issues, the film takes Bond and company on a long, gorgeous journey back to where it all began. Refreshingly, Silva's motives are grounded in a reality that anyone used to a Roger Moore- or Pierce Brosnan-style Bond won't recognize. Meanwhile, Bond himself re-introduces the audience to some familiar 007-tropes before first deconstructing and then reassembling them for the modern audience. With beautiful direction from Sam Mendes and a serious script that actually makes Bond's trials relatable to the viewer (unlike, say, trying to prevent a worldwide crime syndicate from starting World War 3 by abducting space vessels from orbit ), "Skyfall" is quite probably the best James Bond movie ever, a special feat considering the franchise's 50 years and 23 movies. However, much like making the bold statement that baseball today is better than it ever was in any of the "golden eras" some cling to, it's a statement that will anger many fans still grasping for their youthful memories.

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Minor League Update

Games of November 9-11

Notes on players in the AFL, DWL, and PRBL.

Jurickson Profar was eight years old when future Licey teammate Jesus Colome made his major league debut in 2001 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. More than 11 years later, Profar was directly responsible for the 34 year-old Colome winning his first game of the 2012 DWL season. Details below ...
  • Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Ponce-PRBL): 4-for-9, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K. A favorite of BP's prospect expert Jason Parks, Alfaro now has a pair of hits in each of his first three games. The 19 year-old Colombian could find himself in the Hi-A Carolina League to start the 2013 season. 
  • Zach Collier, OF, Phillies (Peoria): 3-for-3, 2B, BB, 2 SB (3). The Phillies haven't gotten much production out of this former 1st Round pick (34th overall in 2008) during his minor league career but he's turning heads in the AFL with a .441 OBP and seven extra base hits (4 2B, 3 3B) in 17 games. The 22 year-old will likely be the starting CF for Double-A Reading in 2013.
  • Randall Delgado, RHP, Braves (Licey-DWL): 5 IP, ER, 3 H, BB, 6 K. Nearly traded to the Cubs last July before Ryan Dempster nixed the deal, the 22 year-old Delgado could very well be on the block again this winter as the Braves try to fill multiple holes on their roster. Pitching well in the DWL, as he did on Saturday, can only increase his trade value.  
  • Robbie Erlin, LHP, Padres (Peoria): 4 IP, ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K. Striking out two batters per inning without walking a hitter is how you get mentioned on the Minor League Update in consecutive starts. Erlin is very likely to reach the big leagues in 2013 but after missing much of the 2012 regular season with an elbow injury, his inning count is only at 79.1 IP on the year. It's probably unrealistic to think he'll be pitching late into the 2013 season with the Padres.
  • Chia-Jen Lo, RHP, Astros (Mesa): IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 2 K, Sv (3). After returning from Tommy John surgery in mid-2012, the once-promising prospect out of Taiwan allowed just 3 ER and 19 H with 6 BB and 31 K in 30 IP between the GCL and Hi-A Lancaster. The 26 year-old could be a dark horse candidate to earn a bullpen spot in Houston by mid-season. 
  • Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers (Licey-DWL): 4-for-12, HR (1), 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K. The best middle infield prospect in baseball had three hits in his DWL debut on Friday, then went 0 for his next 7 before blasting a walk-off home run against Rays prospect Enny Romero on Sunday. 
  • George Springer, OF, Astros (Mesa): 6-for-8, 2 HR (3), 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 2 BB, K, SB (5). Chosen as the #3 prospect on our recently-released Astros Top 10 Prospects list, the 23 year-old center fielder celebrated by reaching base in 8 of 10 plate appearances over the weekend, including a multi-homer game on Friday. 
  • Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Cibaenas-DWL): 3-for-6, HR (3), 3 RBI. He didn't walk off on Sunday like fellow 'top prospect in all of baseball' candidate Profar, but that's only because he was on the visiting team. A two-run homer in the top of the 11th, his 3rd hit of the game, put his team ahead for good. Former AL MVP Miguel Tejada, who is 18 years older than the 20 year-old Taveras, also had three hits for Aguilas Cibaenas. 
  • Logan Watkins, 2B, Cubs (Mesa): 5-for-10, HR (1), 2B, 2 RBI, K. The left-handed hitter is making up for lost time since replacing Javier Baez (thumb injury) on the roster earlier this month. His versatility -- he's played every position but P, C, and 1B in the minors -- and his all-around solid production in Double-A this season (.383 OBP, 9 HR, 20 2B, 11 3B, 28 SB in 133 games) make him a good bet to reach Chicago in 2013.

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November 9, 2012

BP Fantasy Podcast

Episode 23: The AFL Recap

If you love prospects and want to hear them interviewed, you'll love this episode!

Jason and Paul are fresh back from their annual trip to the Arizona Fall League and discuss 20+ prospects they saw, review recent MLB transactions, and interview some of the hottest stars in the AFL. Show friend Joel Henard assisted Jason in interviewing Anthony Rendon, Nick Franklin, Gary Brown, Mike Zunino, Jonathan Singleton, and George Springer.

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fantasyhour@baseballprospectus.com

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Total show time: 2 hours, 18 minutes

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Wezen-Ball

Stoney's Unbelievable Feat

In 1907, Stoney McGlynn claimed to have accomplished a rare feat. But did it really happen?

U.S. Grant "Stoney" McGlynn pitched for three seasons in the major league, from 1906 to 1908. His only full season was in 1907, when he pitched in 39 games for the St. Louis Cardinals -- and led the league in losses with 25. His 352.1 innings, 329 hits allowed, and 114 earned runs also led the senior circuit that season. It's a fair to say that his baseball career did not amount to all that much.

McGlynn died in the summer of 1941 at the age of 69. The headline for his obituary written by the Associated Press was "Stoney McGlynn was Baseball Wonder Man". According to the AP report (and McGlynn himself), McGlynn made history in 1907 by recording three outs without ever throwing a pitch.

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BP Daily Podcast

Effectively Wild Episode 80: Could Josh Hamilton Be a Bargain?/Are the Financially Responsible Yankees for Real?

Ben and Sam discuss whether Josh Hamilton could end up signing a reasonable contract after all and talk about whether the Yankees can commit to and compete despite their goal to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014.

Ben and Sam discuss whether Josh Hamilton could end up signing a reasonable contract after all and talk about whether the Yankees can commit to and compete despite their goal to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014.

Episode 80: "Could Josh Hamilton Be a Bargain?/Are the Financially Responsible Yankees for Real?"

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Minor League Update

Games of November 8

Notes on players in the AFL, VWL, and PRBL.

The Puerto Rico Baseball League kicked off on Thursday, featuring a handful of top prospects from Puerto Rico that include the 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft, Carlos Correa. The 18 year-old went 0-for-4 in his debut, but here are a few players who had notable performances from the various leagues that were in action. 
  • Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins (Aragua-VWL): 4-for-5, HR (3), RBI. If Josh Willingham is traded this winter, it's for a few good reasons. He's one of the more productive hitters in the game and signed for the next two seasons at a very team-friendly $7M per season, giving him a ton of value. Plus, the Twins are desperate for starting pitching and could probably land at least one very good young pitcher in a trade. And if they did pull the trigger on a deal for Willingham, having a near major league ready prospect like Arcia would lessen the blow of losing their cleanup hitter. The 21 year-old, coming off of an outstanding season between Double-A New Britain (.955 OPS in 69 games) and Hi-A Fort Myers (.893 OPS in 55 games), can flat out hit. Expect him to compete for the starting right field job in Spring Training whether Willingham is on the team or not. 
  • Wilmer Flores, 3B, Mets (Margarita-VWL): 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Still only 21 years old, Flores bounced back from a disappointing 2011 season by hitting .300 with 18 HR and 75 RBI between Double-A Binghamton and Hi-A St. Lucie last season. He hasn't slowed down a bit in Venezuela, where he has a .921 OPS in 19 games. Flores' days as a SS are behind him, as he played every other infield spot but SS in 2012 and is most likely to stick at the hot corner. If the Mets can sign David Wright to a contract extension, however, there could be a change in plans. 
  • Grant Green, IF/OF, Athletics (Phoenix): 2-for-3, HR (2), 3 RBI, BB, K, SB (1). If Green was a good enough defender to play SS regularly, there would be no question that he'd go into 2013 as the A's starter at that spot, which is vacant at the moment. Well, he's not. So, can you say super-utility man? Drafted in the 1st round as a SS out of USC in 2010, Green moved to CF in 2011 and then, in addition to SS and CF, he played 2B, 3B, and LF in 2012. The 25 year-old, who is 5 for his last 11 with 2 homers and a triple, has some pop in his bat and he's versatile enough where he could get 3-4 starts per week playing all around the diamond for Oakland in 2013.
  • Alex Monsalve, C, Indians (Scottsdale): 4-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI. The 20 year-old out of Venezuela has 11 hits in his last 17 at-bats with four doubles to raise his batting average to .359. He'll return to the Hi-A Carolina League in 2013, where he posted a .573 OPS in 34 games after a 2nd half promotion. In a system stacked with very good middle infield prospects, the 6'2" Monsalve gives the Indians a potential stand out at catcher.
  • Angel Morales, OF, Twins (Ponce-PRWL): 2-for-3, HR (1), 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Arcia, Byron Buxton, and Aaron Hicks top the list of very good outfield prospects in the Twins' farm system and Morales isn't that far behind, at least in terms of speed and power potential. The 22 year-old, who homered and reached base three times in his Puerto Rican League debut, has been stuck in Hi-A for the last three seasons and didn't show enough in 2012 to think he's ready to shine at the upper levels of the minors. He'll need to have a big 2013 or his days as a prospect could be numbered.
  • Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox (Caguas-PRWL): 3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 3 K. Regardless of the competition -- he faced the likes of former big leaguers Ruben Gotay and Ramon Vazquez -- it's a great sign to see Ranaudo shut down an opponent for a few innings. The 23 year-old, who was the 39th pick in the 2010 draft, struggled in nine Double-A starts (6.69 ERA, 27 BB, 27 K in 37.2 IP) before he was shut down with shoulder fatigue. He'll likely return to Portland in 2013, where he'll try and do a better job of living up to expectations this time around.
  • Jeudy Valdez, SS, Padres (Peoria): 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 BB. Coming off of a disappointing season in Double-A (.637 OPS), the 23 year-old Valdez is doing what he can to put himself back in the good graces of the organization. In 15 games, he has 18 hits in 56 at-bats with 9 2B, 8 BB, and 11 K.
  • Tony Zych, RHP, Cubs (Mesa): 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K. Chosen as one of the 'Factors on the Farm' (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013) in the recently-released Cubs Prospect Rankings, the 22 year-old Zych has a mid-90's fastball and good control. He's allowed three earned runs and walked just one batter with four strikeouts in 12 AFL innings. Lacking a secondary pitch that can miss bats is what limits his strikeouts, and ultimately, could keep him from becoming a big league closer someday. 

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