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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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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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November 8, 2012

BP Daily Podcast

Effectively Wild Episode 79: Are Teams Becoming More Willing to Trade Their Young Players?

Ben and Sam discuss whether recent events and rumors portend more young players on the move, and why.

Ben and Sam discuss whether recent events and rumors portend more young players on the move, and why.

Episode 79: "Are Teams Becoming More Willing to Trade Their Young Players?"

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Minor League Update

Games of November 7

Notes on prospects in the Arizona Fall League, Dominican Winter League, and Venezuelan Winter League.

It was great to see some baseball news back on my Twitter feed, even though the only significant roster-altering move on Wednesday (Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal suspended 50 games after testing positive for elevated testosterone) hurts the team that I've been cheering for since I was a kid. Rumors are always fun, though, and there were some interesting names, including Justin Upton), mentioned as potential trade candidates and a few teams (Mariners, Orioles) being named as possible favorites in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes. Speaking of which, make sure you're getting caught up on all things Hot Stove with Daniel Rathman's Rumor Roundup here at Baseball Prospectus. Now for notes around the AFL, DWL, and VWL.
  • Logan Darnell, LHP, Twins (Peoria): 4 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 5 K. The 23 year-old, who had a 5.08 ERA in 28 Double-A starts in 2012, was impressive in his first start of the AFL season after seven relief appearances. The Twins might have the worst rotation in baseball heading into the offseason so unless they can improve significantly in that area over the next few months, someone like Darnell, ready or not, could end competing for a rotation spot next spring.
  • Yan Gomes, C/IF, Indians (Este-DWL): 2-for-3, HR (4), 3 RBI: Acquired from the Blue Jays over the weekend, Gomes broke out of a 1-for-20 slump with his 21st HR of 2012 (13 in AAA, 4 in MLB, 4 in AFL). The 25 year-old Brazilian will be competing for a bench spot in Cleveland next season and gives the team some a much-needed right-handed bat.
  • Dustin Lawley, 3B/OF, Mets (Surprise): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI: In his first full professional season, Lawley showed some offensive potential (14 HR, 14 SB, 35 2B, 50 BB in Lo-A Savannah) while playing three positions (3B, LF, CF). He'll be 24 early next season, so the Mets might want to consider jumping him to Double-A if he shows enough in the AFL. So far, so good. Lawley is 11-for-35 with a HR and 9 RBI.
  • Ricky Oropesa, 1B, Giants (Scottsdale): 3-for-4, HR (2), RBI, BB. The Giants' 3rd round draft pick in 2011, Oropesa ended his college career tied for 5th on USC's all-time HR list with 40. So his debut pro season in the hitter-friendly California League was one to watch, although his .763 OPS was a bit of a disappointment. The 22 year-old lefty was off to a slow start in the AFL (6-for-32, HR) before breaking out on Wednesday with three hits and his 2nd HR. He also walked for the 11th time in 47 plate appearances.
  • C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP, Rays (Phoenix): 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K: While he could still develop as a pretty good #5 starter down the road, a move to the bullpen could have Riefenhauser on the fast track to the big leagues. The 22 year-old lefty hasn't allowed an earned run over 11.2 IP in the AFL and struck out all three hitters he faced on Wednesday. He'll likely start the season in Double-A Montgomery.
  • Henry Rodriguez, 2B/3B, Reds (Zulia-VWL): 3-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, E. Blocked at second base by Brandon Phillips, Rodriguez has played mostly third base in 2012 as the Reds try to find out if he can handle a position where there could be more of an immediate need. He probably doesn't have enough power to become a regular at 3B, but he's only 22 and could become a valuable utilityman early on in his career if he can become at least adequate at multiple infield spots.
  • Francisco Samuel, RHP, Nationals (Oriente-DWL): 1 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, K. After missing the entire 2012 season, the once-promising St. Louis Cardinals relief prospect is hoping to come back strong next season after battling injuries and control problems throughout the last several years. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Nationals, who had contributions this season from Henry Rodriguez, who has always had problems throwing strikes consistently, and Christian Garcia, who was a highly-touted prospect in the Yankees organization before injuries sidetracked his career. So maybe there's hope for the hard-throwing 25 year-old, who has tossed five scoreless innings with two walks and five strikeouts in the DWL.
  • Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (Oriente-DWL): 3-for-4, HR (1), 2 RBI. One of the best parts about taking over the Minor League Update is being on an email list where the Baseball Prospectus prospect experts have been discussing the Top Prospect Rankings. Thus, I'm getting the behind the scenes look at how these rankings come together, which is really quite fascinating. A recent discussion on whether 2012 1st Round Draft pick Byron Buxton or Sano should be the Twins' #1 prospect has been particular interesting. The answer will be revealed in a few days when the Twins' list is released. Anyways, Sano homered and committed a fielding error on Wednesday. Just another day at the office for the 19 year-old power prospect.
  • Matthew Skole, 1B/3B, Nationals (Salt River): 2-for-4, HR (3), 4 RBI, BB. Playing at first base in the AFL to accommodate Nationals' teammate Anthony Rendon, who has been manning third base regularly, Skole might have enough power for either corner spot on the diamond. His 2012 HR total has reached 30 (27 in Lo-A, 3 in AFL) after he homered on Wednesday. Maybe even more impressive is that he has a combined 109 walks between Hi-A, Lo-A, and the AFL. If first base is going to be his calling card, he'll have to continue to show plus-power as he moves up the ladder. 

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November 7, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Jason Bay and Evaluating This Offseason's Deals

The math of free-agent analysis is simple enough, but gets overwhelmed by the reality.

There weren't many defenders of the Jason Bay deal when it happened. Bay was a very good player, coming off a 5.9-WARP season, but to justify his four-year, $66 million contract he'd need to continue to produce about four wins per year. That seemed just a bit too much for a player who was an excellent hitter but (by most metrics) lousy on defense. Maybe three wins per year, but not quite four. That's why the Red Sox had refused to offer more than four years and $60 million. Those extra $6 million that the Mets offered sure looked like an overpay. 

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Minor League Update

Games of November 6

Notes on 8 minor leaguers playing in the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League.

The general manager meetings start today! Here's hoping we have a few free-agent signings and trades to make my day more interesting until it's time to work on the Minor League Update again.
  • David Adams, 2B/3B, Yankees (Scottsdale): 3-for-5, 2 HR (2), 3 RBI. As the Yankees work to get their payroll beneath the $189M tax threshold before next offseason, it’s important that they get more contributions from young players who'll make the minimum salary, or just above it. The 25 year-old Adams, who has a career .825 OPS in parts of five minor league seasons, could fit the bill as a backup infielder who gets significant time at third base if the 37 year-old Alex Rodriguez continues to get more and more at-bats as the designated hitter. 
  • Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves (Licey-DWL): 2-for-4, 2B. Currently penciled into my projected Braves’ starting lineup, mostly by default, Bethancourt lacks the offensive skills to succeed at the major league level anytime soon. Heck, he wasn’t very good at the plate in Double-A last season. But the plus defensive skills are obvious. And to be fair, he was only 20 years old and had a fair amount of success in 54 Lo-A games in 2011 as a 19 year-old (.753 OPS).  With Brian McCann expected to miss the start of the season after shoulder surgery and free agent David Ross no lock to return, it’s possible that Bethancourt makes his big league debut early in 2013, even if it's just a temporary stint.
  • Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, Mariners (Peoria): 4-for-5, 6 RBI, 2 2B. The Mariners' 1st Round pick in 2009 is closing in on the major leagues, thanks to an above-average hit tool that produced an .800 OPS between Triple-A and Double-A in 2012. The question is whether he'll be a second baseman or shortstop. Most scouts view him as a second baseman but his quickest path to Seattle might be at shortstop, where the all-glove, no-bat Brendan Ryan is set to start the 2013 season. As Jason Churchill pointed out in a recent story on top prospect trade candidates, the M's have depth at second base (Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager) and shortstop (Ryan, Brad Miller), and Franklin could give the team a very good trade chip. 
  • Onelki Garcia, LHP, Dodgers (Mesa): 2 IP, 0 R, H, BB, K. Yasiel Puig wasn't the only Cuban defector to sign with the Dodgers this year. The team's 3rd Round draft pick in 2012, Garcia is a hard-throwing 23 year-old who has had quite a journey since leaving Cuba in August 2010. Dodgers Assistant General Manager Logan White, speaking at the Baseball Prospectus stadium event at Chavez Ravine in September, mentioned Garcia and the process that led up to him being drafted. This You Tube clip starts at the beginning of that mention.  
  • Junior Lake, 3B/SS, Cubs (Oriente-DWL): 4-for-5, 2B, RBI: The most asked about minor leaguer in Kevin Goldstein’s twitter timeline during the 2012 season, Lake isn’t quite the prospect that Cubs fans want him to be. He can do some things very well, however, and he’s showing off his hitting skills down in the DWL. The 22 year-old has eight hits in his last 10 at-bats with four doubles. Look for him to get more time at third base, where he could get a shot in 2013 if Ian Stewart or whoever starts at the hot corner isn’t doing squat again.  
  • Chris McGuiness, 1B, Rangers (Surprise): 3-for-4, HR (4), 3 RBI, BB. Acquired in the trade that sent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox at the trade deadline in 2010, McGuiness continues to put up solid numbers in the AFL (22-for-66, 4 HR, 4 2B, 20 RBI, 11 BB, 10 K). He does have some power, but as Jason Parks points out here, the 24 year-old doesn’t appear to have the bat speed to succeed as a big league regular.
  • Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals (Salt River): 3-for-3, 2 2B, 4 RBI, BB, SB (4). If it wasn’t already, it’s becoming apparent that Rendon’s bat is just about big league ready, as was expected when he was drafted in the 1st round of last year’s draft. Still, the Nationals have given no indication that the 22 year-old third baseman will be making a position change anytime soon in order to get he and Ryan Zimmerman on the field at the same time. If he was going to make a move, the AFL would’ve been a good place to start. As they say, it’s a good problem to have. My guess is that this situation will play itself out by mid-season.
  • Carlos Sanchez, 2B/3B/SS, White Sox (Salt River): 5-for-5, 2B, 2 SB (10), 5 R. A relatively unknown before the 2012 season, Sanchez started the season as a 19 year-old in Hi-A Winston-Salem, had an impressive performance in the mid-season Futures Game, earned promotion to Double-A shortly after, and was in Triple-A by season’s end. The switch-hitting Venezuelan gives the White Sox a future top-of-the-order hitter with speed and on-base skills that they lack from their current group of infielders. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in Chicago before his 21st birthday in late June.  

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