I don’t often interest myself with indie league baseball, but with this whole 50-year-old Roger Clemens comeback ordeal, I just had to watch. And from what I witnessed, Clemens was good. He allowed just one baserunner (a hit) over 3.1 IP, striking out two, showing good command of a fastball in the mid-upper-80s. After watching the outing, there’s no reason to believe that Clemens couldn’t be as effective as Jaime Moyer was when he pitched with the Rockies this year. A sideshow type return to the bigs seems plausible here — scouts from the Astros and the Royals were reportedly in attendance. Of course, my cynical mind wonders how, after five years away from the game, a 50-year-old man can compete at a major league level. I can’t help but think The Rocket’s return is PED-fueled — and it’s not like there’s no precedent with this guy. Clemens has an enormous ego. That’s no secret. The past five years have been brutal on his legacy, and a “legitimate” return to the majors could go a long way in repairing his image. I’m not familiar with the PED testing policy employed by the independent Atlantic League, or if there is one at all. And obviously this is purely speculative thinking. But, c’mon. Doesn’t it seem a little fishy?Please, blog, may I have some more?
Trayce Thompson | OF, White Sox | Born: 3/15/1991
As usual, roster activity around the minors has increased greatly as the MiLB regular season approaches its final weeks. A slew of notable prospects are on the move to new clubs at new levels, and I’ve been doing my best to keep y’all informed in my weekly Minor Accomplishments posts. Well this past Sunday, I neglected to mention that Trayce Thompson, a big swinging outfielder in the White Sox system, was bumped up to Double-A Birmingham in the Southern League. The reports on Thompson have always been consistent: extremely toolsy, but extremely raw. With a huge swing from the right side he generates big time bat speed, translating to plus-plus power. Thompson hit 24 homers and posted an ISO of .216 last year at Low-A, and the power didn’t cease this year when the Sox moved him to High-A: 55 XBH (22 HR) in 510 PA, .232 ISO.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Given how much he was touted during the preseason, you’d think Shelby Miller would’ve already surfaced in St. Louis after injuries to big league starters Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia. But a poor spring training followed by a brutal first half in the Pacific Coast League forced the Cardinals to turn to Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly instead. Whatever was bothering Miller during the first four months of 2012 — mechanics, command, velocity… all of the above — whatever it was, he seems to have worked through it. In 40.2 IP over his last seven outings with Triple-A Memphis, he’s posted a 42/4 K/BB along with a 3.32 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. Miller is once again commanding his mid-90s fastball and he truly looks to be back on track as an elite prospect. With the Cardinals welcoming back Jaime Garcia to their rotation today, however, it seems unlikely that we’ll see him pitch in the bigs this year. Still, at just 21-years-old, Miller’s ceiling remains enormous. He should help in all formats next year.Please, blog, may I have some more?
I was gonna write about Jurickson Profar and his possible call-up here, but Grey ran with that yesterday and my take wasn’t offering different advice. Add him in keepers if he’s not already owned, but don’t waste much energy on him in re-draft formats as playing time will be spotty and he’s still five-or-so years away from peaking. Anyway, just one name to dig into this week:
Anthony Rendon | 3B, Nationals | Born: 6/6/1990
Prior to the 2012 season, Nationals execs would’ve been very pleased at the idea of Anthony Rendon reaching Double-A in his first year of pro baseball. In April, though, those hopes and expectations were put on hold after the 2011 1st round pick broke his left ankle on the basepaths. Injuries happen. Clubs are well versed in coping with injured prospects, with not allowing time spent rehabbing to impact player development. In Rendon’s case, however, a lengthy history of heal problems — right ankle in 2009 & 2010, right shoulder in 2011 — made this most recent setback particularly concerning.Please, blog, may I have some more?
In the wake of his promotion to Double-A, I figured now would be a good time to discuss this Xander Bogaerts guy who has Red Sox fans all hot and bothered. Middlebrooks is down, call up BOGAAAHHTS! To be clear: I don’t think that’ll come to pass this year, but Red Sox fans have good reason to be excited about this particular prospect. Bogaerts has huge power potential. That much was clear after he slugged 16 homers in just 296 PA a year ago in the South Atlantic League. In 2012, however, he’s worked hard to squash the one-dimensional projections, batting .302 and getting on base at a .378 clip through 100+ games at High-A. Those figures are up considerably from last year’s, meanwhile, his SLG (.505) hasn’t dipped. The more balanced production from Bogaerts surely contributed to Boston’s aggressive promotion of the 20-year-old. He’s now on track to reach Fenway at some point next year, although they’ll likely need to find a new position for him, as scouts don’t see his defensive tools cutting it in the bigs at shortstop.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Jorge Bonifacio | OF, Royals | Born: 6/4/1993
The first thing I notice about Jorge Bonifacio is that he’s not like his brother, Emilio. Well, perhaps they have similar personalities or something. Maybe they read the same books and watch the same TV shows and share the same wit. But I couldn’t care less about that crap. In terms of baseball, you might as well remove Emilio from your mind while considering Jorge — I don’t want the elder Bonifacio muddying your perception here. Jorge ain’t a speedster. He’s stolen only ten bags over the past two years, and he’s been caught stealing nine times during that same stretch. No, Jorge does his damage at the plate, not on the basepaths. He has an easy stroke from the right side and he barrels the ball — breaking pitches, fastballs… whatever. And while his line at Low-A Kane County (.281/.336/.433, 10 HR, 61 RBI) isn’t blowing anyone away, the vibe from baseball folks around the industry is that Bonifacio is for real. I’m just a 25-minute drive from the Kane County ballpark and I attend their games often. Bonifacio can hit, yo. His approach is a tad aggressive, but he’ll still work his way deep into counts, fouling off all sorts of pitches. He flashes effortless power, projecting to hit 20+ in the bigs. He’ll put up a nice AVG too.Please, blog, may I have some more?
For the past few weeks I’ve been super pumped for Dan Straily‘s arrival — like, Brett Lawrie-on-a-shizzload-of-RedBull pumped. I first wrote about him here, providing a little background and a brief scouting report. Then, earlier this week, I rolled out my Top Ten Prospects for the Stretch Run, and Straily topped the list. He debuted on Friday night. I watched. And what I saw was pretty much what we expected: Straily worked his fastball at 91-92, touching 93 a handfull of times, commanding it all over the zone, and drawing variable contact. He countered with his sharp slider and his fading change often. Both offerings looked like plus pitches, generating whiff-rates right around 25%. He also threw a few curveballs, but he used the pitch sparingly, and it looked like nothing more than a get-me-over type. When he needed to throw strikes, he threw strikes. And as his pitch count reached toward triple-digits, his velocity didn’t dip, and his pitch movement remained steady. There was one glaring mistake, however: the run he allowed in the fourth inning on a sac fly from Rajai Davis. Straily flat out hung that slider — zero movement, 82 mph, fat part of the plate. Davis should’ve blasted that pitch. Check it out the Brooks Baseball charts from that at bat and see what I mean. And check out the rest of Straily’s Brooks charts here — the site is off-the-chain cool. In all, though, I was impressed. The A’s ‘pen squandered his W, but Straily looks like he’ll handle himself very well going forward. Go ahead and blow out your FAAB.Please, blog, may I have some more?
A few of these guys are up as of recently. Others aren’t, but should be soon. And then a few more might not surface this year, but the mere possibility of their being called up warrants a mention. Please understand that I’m using the term “prospects” loosely here — some of the names that follow graduated their prospect status long ago. Anyway. My top ten prospect(ish) players for ROS:
1. Dan Straily | RHP, Athletics – Straily has come out of nowhere this season, but he appears to be better prepared than anyone in Minor League Baseball to make an immediate and significant impact in the fantasy game. He’ll be up soon. More on him here.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Once considered an elite prospect, Brett Wallace now has few lingering believers. The 2008 1st round pick has already been with four organizations, and is currently passing time in the Pacific Coast League at Oklahoma City, Triple-A affiliate of the Astros. Houston gave Wallace ample opportunity to prove his worth in 2011, but he effectively squandered the 350+ PA, posting a .259 AVG and a .110 ISO, which is pretty miserable coming from a 1B. During a brief stint in the bigs earlier this year, the 25-year-old was much improved, batting .333/.429/.583 in 42 PA. Granted, it’s a small sample, but it conjured memories of why we touted Wallace in the first place — outstanding plate coverage, lightning-quick hands, beautiful lefty stroke, advanced approach, power potential… the works, really, from a hitting perspective. Jeff Luhnow — Houston’s brilliant 1st-year GM, and the man who drafted Wallace in 2008 while handling player procurement for the Cardinals — recently acknowledged that the first baseman should resurface in the bigs before long, which is kind of an ambiguous timetable. Regardless, Wallace’s Triple-A production has been big of recent (.371/.476/.600 through last ten), and he could be useful in NL-Only and deep mixed formats should he return to Houston anytime soon.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Dan Straily | RHP, Athletics | Born: 12/1/1988
Dan Straily hype was virtually nonexistent during the preseason. It wasn’t yet a thing. It’s definitely a thing now, but back in the off-season, Baseball America didn’t feature him as a top 30 Oakland prospect, and Kevin Goldstein didn’t include him in his top 20 A’s prospects over at Baseball Prospectus. Fangraphs didn’t highlight him. Neither did we. Credit where credit is due, however: John Sickels ranked Straily #18 on his A’s preseason list at Minor League Ball. Outside of Sickels, though, you’d have to do some significant digging to find much info on the 23-year-old righty. Of course, it’s hard to stay under the radar when you’ve struck out 171 batters in 132 IP. Or when you’ve posted a 0.92 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP through seven starts in the Pacific Coast League. So now, along with all the other folks who ignored him preseason, I’m writing about Dan Straily.Please, blog, may I have some more?