Bear with me for a moment while I venture outside stateside baseball for a look at a marvelous moment in Korean pro ball. The always great Ben Badler of Baseball America brought this clip to my attention this past Wednesday, and you really gotta give this one a look. Outfielder Jun-Woo Jeon is the batter. His team is down two runs with a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the ninth. He recognizes the fat breaker, turns on it, and lifts it to left field. He thinks it’s gone and the game tied, so he flips his bat triumphantly and does one of those cool jogging finger points toward his dugout. It’s not gone. No, the ball dies at the track, and not long after, the opposition dies of laughter. This is why you never bat flip. #Scouting.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Twins fans might be in for a frustrating year at the big league level, but trust me, the future is bright in Minnesota. No other organization can boast such a high-profile pair of hitting prospects as the Twins can with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Sano, who boasts raw power unmatched by any other minor leaguer, is simply on fire. The 19-year-old is hitting .370/.429/.765 with 9 homers in 91 trips to the plate with High-A Fort Myers. Meanwhile, Buxton, the 2nd overall pick last June, is having no trouble with his first taste of full-season baseball, batting .400/.524/.662 with 3 homers and 8 stolen bases through 82 PA. I went over my Byron Buxton fantasy the other week, in case you missed it. Judging by tools alone, these two are among the most exciting talents in baseball. The fact that they’re backing up their tools with such serious production on the field only vaults their stock to new heights — I’m talkin’ top ten overall for both. 2016 can’t arrive soon enough for Twins fans.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Archie Bradley | RHP, Diamondbacks | Born: 8/10/1992
It’s rare that a club just gives away a first round investment for pennies on the dollar, but that’s exactly what D’Backs did this past December with Trevor Bauer. Less than two years after drafting him 3rd overall, Arizona decided they didn’t like his attitude, they didn’t appreciate his stubbornness, and so they shipped him to Cleveland for Didi Gregorius and a couple toss-ins. Again, teams just don’t do this sort of trade — they don’t give a front-of-the-rotation prospect a $3.4 million signing bonus, and then cut him loose 18 months later for a defense-first shortstop simply because the kid wouldn’t listen. The Diamondbacks did, though. And they did so because they felt they had the organizational pitching depth to offset the loss. A major factor in that decision was the guy they drafted four picks after Bauer in the 2011 draft, a guy named Archie Bradley.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Jorge Soler was off to a great start at High-A Daytona, batting .435/.519/.739 with 2 homers through his first six games. The was promising news for the Cubs, who inked him to a nine-year, $30 million contract last summer. The 21-year-old Cuban is not a cost-controlled prospect — there’s an opt-out clause that would make him eligible for arbitration after three years service time, but both sides would be thrilled if it came to that. In any case, there’s incentive for the Cubs to develop him quickly in order to make sure the bulk of those nine years are spent at the highest level. Chicago was smart to make such a long-term investment in Soler — it gives them a little developmental cushion — but they’re still trying to avoid unnecessary setbacks. Things were going well in that department up until Wednesday, when Soler decided to brandish a baseball bat as he sprinted toward the opponent’s dugout following a benches-clearing incident. The league suspended him five games, which isn’t a huge setback, but the Cubs are reportedly investigating the matter further and could tack on more time. I doubt it’ll come to that, but the ordeal still raises some major character concerns. Let’s hope this was an isolated incident and that the new regime in Chicago doesn’t enable such behavior as the old group did with headcases like Carlos Zambrano.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (19) | 2011 (13) | 2010 (6) | 2009 (22) | 2008 (15)
2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] AL Central
AAA: [72-72] International League – Rochester
AA: [75-67] Eastern League — New Britain
A+: [60-75] Florida State League – Fort Myers
A: [77-63] Midwest League – Beloit (Cedar Rapids beginning 2013)
Arizona Fall League Players — Peoria Javelinas
Logan Darnell (LHP); Kyle Gibson (RHP); Caleb Thielbar (LHP); Michael Tonkin (RHP); Evan Bigley (OF); Nate Roberts (OF)
Chris Parmelee (1B/OF); Brian Dozier (SS); Liam Hendriks (RHP); Cole De Vries (RHP); Sam Deduno (RHP); Pedro Florimon (SS); Darin Mastroianni (OF)
The Run Down
There are certainly other teams in the discussion, but when evaluating the most improved farm systems in baseball over the past year, Minnesota needs to be considered near the top. Owning the #2 pick in the draft is always a nice way to bolster a club’s young talent, but the Twins went beyond that in 2012, as impact talents lived up to hype, and forgotten prospects returned to form. And they continued improving into the offseason, adding big-ceiling starting pitchers in Alex Meyer from Washington and Trevor May from Philadelphia. The Twins shipped out MLB outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere in order to acquire those arms, but with capable outfield prospects pushing through from the minors this year, the added pitching depth seems like a smart move. Do take note of this system as there’s plenty to be excited about in terms of the fantasy game, and certain prospects should be making their impacts this year.