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November 14, 2012

BP Daily Podcast

Effectively Wild Episode 82: The Marlins-Blue Jays Blockbuster

Ben and Sam break down the Marlins-Blue Jays trade from every angle, or at least all the angles that occurred to them at the time.

Ben and Sam break down the Marlins-Blue Jays trade from every angle, or at least all the angles that occurred to them at the time.

Episode 82: "The Marlins-Blue Jays Blockbuster"

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Minor League Update

Games of November 13

Notes from around the Arizona Fall League and Caribbean Winter Leagues.

It was just another ordinary Tuesday until the Blue Jays and Marlins decided to make things a little more interesting with a 12-player blockbuster trade that totally revamped each team's roster (see Blue Jays offseason page HERE and Marlins offseason page HERE). Amongst all the excitement was a bevy of baseball games featuring some very interesting prospects ...

  • Jose De Paula, LHP, Padres (Cibao-DWL): 4 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K. After missing the 2012 season due to visa issues, De Paula is back on the mound in the Dominican Winter League. The 22 year-old, who was added to the Padres' 40-man roster last offseason, tossed four shutout innings in his first start with Cibao after six relief appearances.
  • Freddy Galvis, IF, Phillies (Zulia-VWL): 3-for-5, 2B, RBI. Playing at his natural position of shortstop, Galvis had three hits to push his batting average to .330 in 26 games. Barring an injury to Jimmy Rollins, the 23 year-old switch-hitter won't see much time at shortstop with the Phillies, although there's a chance he's in the mix for the third base job next spring if they fail to land an upgrade over Galvis and Kevin Frandsen
  • Bobby LaFromboise, LHP, Mariners (Peoria): IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 2 K. The Mariners already have three pretty good lefty relievers on their roster (Charlie FurbushLucas LuetgeOliver Perez) and LaFromboise could very well be on his way to becoming one himself. The 26 year-old had a few rough outings early on but he hasn't allowed a hit or run in his last 5.1 IP. Overall, he's faced 19 left-handed hitters and has allowed just one hit, no walks, and struck out 11. Can you say LOOGY
  • Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers (Licey-DWL): 2-for-4, HR (3), RBI, BB, K, 2 CS (3). Currently penciled into the starting center field spot in Texas, there's no guarantee that will be the case by the time Opening Day rolls around. The 24 year-old, who signed a five-year major league contract in May 2011 after defecting from Cuba, put up huge numbers in Triple-A last season (1.033 OPS in 55 games) but went just 8-for-46 in the majors. He has his batting average up to .293 with 3 HR in 21 DWL games.
  • Cesar Puello, OF, Mets (Surprise): 2-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, SB (10). Despite putting up solid numbers in 2011, the 21 year-old Puello repeated Hi-A ball in 2012. It may have been for good reason. Even though his OPS jumped from .710 to .751, his ugly BB/K ratio of 7/58 reminds us that he has a terrible approach at the plate and likely would've been eaten up by Double-A pitchers. He's managed a .400 OBP in 21 AFL games but it's the 25 K with only two extra-base hits that stand out more than anything.
  • Travis Witherspoon, OF, Angels (Scottsdale): 3-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI. The Halos have little talent in the upper minors unless you include Witherspoon, who played 54 games in Double-A in 2012. He didn't exactly light the Texas League on fire, which explains why he wasn't a prospect we were discussing much in the 2nd half of the season. The 23 year-old has also struggled in the AFL, although his three-hit game on Tuesday pushed him over the Mendoza Line. 
  • Steven Wright, RHP, Red Sox (Escogido-DWL): 6 IP, ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K. At 28 years of age, it's been years since Wright could be called a prospect. Now consider that he's been throwing a knuckleball for the past two seasons and making terrific progress with the pitch. All of a sudden, he's a young prospect all over again with the potential to pitch for the next 15 years if he can continue to get hitters out. In 25 starts during the 2012 regular season, Wright had a 2.54 ERA between Triple-A and Double-A while limiting hitters to a .213 batting average. His two starts in the DWL have also been impressive (12 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, BB, 12 K). The Red Sox, who acquired Wright from the Indians for Lars Anderson in July, are very familiar with knuckleballers, having employed Tim Wakefield for 17 years.
  • Mike Zunino, C, Mariners (Peoria): 3-for-5, RBI, K. The 3rd pick in the 2012 draft, Zunino is not expected to spend much time in the minors. He reached Double-A late in the season and has more than held his own in the AFL. The 21 year-old has a six-game hitting streak after his three-hit game on Tuesday. John Jaso will be the starting catcher in Seattle until Zunino is ready to take over, possibly by mid-season.  

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November 13, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Daily Draft Video: Dominic Smith

The first installment of a daily exclusive video series designed to familiarize you with the names you need to know leading up to the 2013 amateur draft.

1B/OF/LHP Dominic Smith (Serra HS, Los Angeles, CA) is one of the top bats in the 2013 amateur draft class and seven months out projects as a potential first rounder. A University of Southern California commit, Smith has impressed evaluators with a smooth lefty swing, solid approach, and emerging power. Today’s video was taken during the WWBA World Championship, hosted by Perfect Game USA. Smith was a member of the Yak Baseball West-GBG squad.

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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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