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.
Drafted in the 24th round out of Marshall, Straily seemed more like an org guy than a real-deal prospect. He threw in the upper-80s and his secondary stuff was fringy. At 6-2, 220, though, Oakland saw a big league frame and began tinkering with mechanics. Straily showed improvement at each level as his offerings became more advanced and his control improved. He now works with his fastball in the low-mid-90s with superb command, and counters with plus slider and a devastating plus-plus change. Stat junkies have fallen in love with Straily’s absurd numbers (171/37 K/BB this year), and scouts are equally impressed. By all accounts, he’s ready. And if he’s up anytime soon, he could offer immediate fantasy value. Billy Beane will be active around the trading deadline, as usual. And depending on how he chooses to play it, there could be a spot for Straily in Oakland’s rotation within a week or so. In that ballpark, with his stuff, he’ll be an asset in all formats.
Javier Baez | SS, Cubs | Born: 12/1/1992
Hey, look — Straily and Baez have the same birthday! That’s kinda special, huh? I didn’t plan it that way, but I might start doing it in the future. That way I can simply copy and paste these few sentences when I can’t think of any new stuff to say. I doubt you guys will notice. Anyway… Javier Baez. The Cubs held their 2011 first-rounder back in extended spring for April and May, then sent him to Low-A Peoria to get his first taste of full-season ball. I first mentioned him here a few weeks ago, but that was mostly in regard to the rather presumptuous neck tat he was sporting. Then he resurfaced in my weekly minor league report on this past Sunday, a performance-driven mention this time — Baez has been on fire.
In 47 games at Peoria, he’s batting .326/.380/.594 with 10 homers and 5 triples. Early success in the Midwest League has Cubs fans excited about what the future holds for Baez. He’ll likely remain at Peoria for the duration of this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him start at Double-A in 2013, putting him in line for arrival sometime in 2014. Don’t expect him to arrive at short, though. Because his athleticism falls a bit below what you’d expect from a typical shortstop prospect, scouts are projecting Baez to shift to third base, perhaps as soon as next year. Once he makes that shift, he’ll join a slew of elite 3B prospects, which includes Nick Castellanos (DET), Miguel Sano (MIN), Anthony Rendon (WAS), and Nolan Arenado (COL). With a tremendous hit tool and a gorgeous stroke, Baez deserves to be mentioned along with that sort of company.