Okay, it’s more of a blog post than an awards show, but it’s still really effing prestigious. Well, maybe it’s not prestigious either, but no one watches sports award shows anyway, and I think we can all agree that the ESPY’s would be much better if it were simply a short-form blog post. I’ll be digging into team-by-team 2013 previews in the coming weeks, so what we have for you here is one last look around the 2012 Minor League Baseball action. Enjoy.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Minor League Baseball season has reached it’s glorious culmination. Well, actually, it’s not very glorious. No, no one really cares who wins in the New York-Penn semis, or the International League title, or the Midwest League championship. It’s just not that interesting. Not even for me. Sure, organizations do their best to instill winning attitudes throughout their farm systems, and I absolutely agree that’s important. It’s why Jeff Luhnow is still tweeting crap like “#JETHAWKS WIN”. Yay, Jethawks… It’s fun for the players, I suppose. It’s fun for the small-town fans, too. And it’s a small source of pride for player development types. But that’s about the extent of it. All that said, the various MiLB playoffs are still worth keeping an eye on, if only for the handful of real-deal prospects who’re performing on a slightly grander stage than usual. So, to wrap up this year’s Minor Accomplishments series, I leave you with a brief rundown of what’s happening with some of the more notable prospects in their respective postseasons:
Mike Zunino | C, Mariners – The third overall pick this past June has been simply incredible since signing. His dominance has continued in the Double-A Southern League playoffs: Zunino’s blasted 3 homers and posted a .400+ AVG for Jackson.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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?
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?
Storylines in Minor League Baseball are sometimes too good to ignore. Take this past Wednesday, for example, when Sacramento (OAK) battled Tacoma (SEA) in an 18-inning Pacific Coast League affair. The game got away from the managers as it reached deep into extras. Having exhausted their respective bullpens, both skippers resorted to calling on position players to take the mound. Tacoma opened the top half of the 18th with Scott Stavastano, a utility player, on the bump. The 26-year-old pitched a clean frame; 1-2-3. Sacramento countered with outfielder Shane Peterson on the mound for the bottom half. Peterson had struck out the first batter when Stavastano, the utility man/pitcher of record came to the plate in a 1-1 tie. You probably can guess where I’m headed with this — Stavastano worked a full count, then bombed. A walk off to give himself the W on the box. Neat stuff.Please, blog, may I have some more?
This post concludes my little venture into draft prospecting. It was fun while it lasted, and if you’d like to take a look at either Part 1 or Part 2, go ahead and click those links. Today, I have three more first-rounders to discuss, but first, a quick recap of where everyone ended up from Parts 1 & 2:
Marcus Stroman (22nd pick – Blue Jays); Richie Schaffer (25th pick – Rays); Kyle Zimmer (5th pick – Royals); Mark Appel (8th pick – Pirates); Mike Zunino (3rd pick – Mariners); Andrew Heaney (9th pick – Marlins)
Now, these three:
Chris Stratton | RHP, Giants
Over the past decade, the Giants have been pretty successful in turning first-round arms into fantasy baseball gold. Matt Cain (2002), Tim Lincecum (2006), and Madison Bumgarner (2007) were each drafted within the first 25 picks, and each developed into a big league pitcher relatively quickly. Lincecum, the lone college arm in the group, was helping fantasy owners a little more than a year after signing. On Monday, San Francisco used the 20th overall pick to select Chris Stratton out of Mississippi State. Should things go as planned, he’ll be in the bigs as early as 2013. Stratton lacks a true plus offering, but his secondary stuff is advanced and it compliments his low-90′s fastball nicely. His well-rounded repertoire should allow him to push through the system quickly. I don’t see the same upside here that Cain, Lincecum, or MadBum were drafted with, but I do think Stratton will make for a nice #3-type starter in the bigs.Please, blog, may I have some more?
With the draft less than a week away, we’re continuing our discussion of some of the more advanced amateur prospects — guys who’ll be popping up on your fantasy radars within the next year or two. Last week we went over Marcus Stroman, Richie Shaffer, and Kyle Zimmer. You can read that post here. Today, three more draft prospects:
Mark Appel | RHP, Stanford
At 6-5, 215, Appel sure looks like a future frontline starter. A combination of size and athleticism allows him to generate mid-90′s velocity with a seemingly effortless delivery. His fastball typically sits 92-95, and he counters with a hard slider and a work-in-progress change. The consensus on Appel is that, given his outstanding athleticism, the secondary stuff will develop nicely (and quickly) in the minors, allowing his plus fastball to play as an even deadlier weapon — he’s been knocked around at times during his collegiate career when facing more advanced lineups who sit on the straight four-seamer. Even so, Appel looks like the safest option among the elite college arms, and there’s a very good chance that Jeff Luhnow and the Astros will take him at #1.Please, blog, may I have some more?