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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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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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November 8, 2012

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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