Have you seen A Bronx Tale?
If so, perhaps the $20 lesson is enough to share the moment in my mind with your mind.
If not, I am morally obligated to recommend that film and writerly obligated to describe a small scene that has stayed with me across two decades.
Our main character sees a guy who owes him 20 bucks. The guy sees him too and takes off running. Our main character is stopped from pursuing by his, let’s say mentor, who asks if he likes this guy with the 20 bucks. No. Not at all. He does not like him. So the mentor re-frames the context. Our main character paid $20 to get a guy he doesn’t like out of his life forever. Seems like a small win in that light to our character in that moment, but to me, it landed like few lines of dialog ever have. Perspective. It’s a kind of magic we could cast a little more often with a little help from our friends.
First in line seems to be LHP Tucker Davidson, and I’m intrigued. Word out of camp was he almost won the fifth starter gig, and I’m thinking he kind of did. I mean I think he’s a key piece of this week’s Bye Felicia. (Foltycia?).
One fun thing to note about Davidson, he holds the Driveline record for velocity while wearing motion capture technology, pushing his heater up above 100 this winter. Click here for a little more on that.
LHP Kolby Allard is technically nobody’s prospect because he’s got 53.1 big league innings, but he doesn’t turn 23 until August, and he’s got plenty of runway with Kluber on the IL. Just got scooped for $2 in the CBS Analysts AL Only, so that’s about the size of news blip we’re looking at here, but it’s worth taking a look at his first turn. He was learning how to pitch with added velocity last year, and I’m curious to see what he does with it.
In other non-prospect news, I’ve added or traded for Bradley Zimmer 2.0 in all but one league where the other team got curious/reticent after a few ham-handed back and forths. I say ham-handed but I can’t say it was entirely my fault the trade fell through: Domingo German was involved and had a case of the Mondays at a critical moment and we couldn’t find our way back after that. I needed German’s roster spot in a 20-team league, but when that fell through, the other team asked for Jameson Taillon, who’s on a limitless IL in that league and a better long term bet than German, in my opinion, so that was a no go.
Then the Fantrax blurb changed to say Zimmer was 8-for-16 with 3 home runs in summer camp.
I only mention this because I thought about the trade offer for quite a while, and I really like Taillon, and I truly love stashing a potential fantasy ace on a limitless IL.
Plus I never liked Bradley Zimmer. Previous to the 2020 version, he always bailed toward the first-base sprint early and swung without incorporating his base, rolling over basically anything off speed if he was lucky enough to make contact. The changes might look subtle from the center field camera, but his front foot no longer pulls early. Whereas the foot used to land in the direction of first base, now he’s just picking it up and putting it back down. This allows him to stay on the ball longer, wait a tick longer to fire, and takes better advantage of his height to create leverage.
OF Tim Lopes is on fire. On the eve of the season, I put together a Rookie Leaderboard: Home Runs, Stolen Bases and Saves that saw Lopes finish third among freshmen with seven stolen bases. After the first two games, Lopes had yet to play, and I was thinking I’d goofed in a semi-major way on several rosters: two 20-team dynasties, one 15-team dynasty and a 12-team AL Only League. Three days and three starts later, Lopes is slashing .462/.500/.846 with 1 HR and 1 SB. Baseball, Ray. Of note: Lopes filled the DH spot and homered Tuesday after playing left and right field the previous two games. I had him penciled into an everyday role this season, but I never expected he’d DH. I am excited to see Servais already wants his bat in the lineup to that extent. I know Vogelbach is taking some time out to work on his swing, but I’m betting he’s already behind Lopes in the pecking order even if he comes back looking a little less Vogey.
RHP Cole Sulser got the first save in Baltimore. I’ve liked him for a long, long time, but he was buried in Cleveland for half a decade despite showing upper minors dominance all the way back in 2016. I was stunned when they let him walk for nothing, and not at all surprised when Tampa scooped him up. He was outstanding in AAA last year despite the juiced balls, limiting opponents to an absurd (in the setting) .55 HR/9 across 66 innings while striking out 32.6 percent of the batters he faced. He finished the year with 7.1 shutout innings at the big league level. He’s 30 years old, but a) I don’t really care in this case, and b) this Baltimore front office understands pitching. I doubt his save was some Givens-was-busy accident the way most ‘perts are playing it off. Sulser could be a dude. We might not find out in a hurry on a Baltimore team that figures to be trailing, but they’ve shown some life this early season, and I’m snapping up Sulser wherever he makes sense, which is basically all roto leagues as of today. Can just as easily drop him in a couple weeks if he’s clearly second fiddle.
In Chicago, RHP Alec Mills is a 28-year-old with 63.1 innings across five seasons, but he was ready to contribute in 2018 before getting ambushed by the juicy balls in AAA last year. He’s fine as a grounder-inducing streamer on a Cubs team that should give him a chance to collect some wins and become a bit more than that with efficient defensive positioning.
RHP Rafael Dolis came up with the Cubs but wound up in Japan and became a top-notch closer there. He’s 32 now and behind Anthony Bass for saves in a Giles-free Blue Jays bullpen, but I do think he’s next man up.
LHP David Peterson made his debut for the Mets, holding his own for 5.2 innings and earning a win for his troubles. He’s been a groundball machine in his minor league career and could have a nice few turns if he gets them. I think he’s a bit hittable for our game, posting WHIPs of 1.34 and 1.35 at AA and A+, but he’s limited home runs his whole career, and that’s more important now than ever. Used to be a guy like him (or Mills) could get nickel and dimed right out of the park, but that’s become increasingly rare in launch world.
RHP Nick Burdi got his first save and looked good doing it. He’s a must-own in all leagues. Check your waiver wires just in case.
I’ve been talking up Cristian Javier a bit in these pages, and he’ll get first crack to fill some of the Verlander void today. Nobody wants their first start to come against the Dodgers, but I’m excited nonetheless and starting him in AL Only partly because it’s a very deep league, and partly because lineups were locked on Monday.
Last note: it’s Nate Pearson Day!
Congratulations if you like watching young pitchers throw incredible pitches!
And congrats especially if you leaned in early and bought Pearson! Toronto showed us its thinking for 2020 prospect timelines when it invested in Hyun-Jin Ryu, so I’m pleased it still pays to read the tea leaves in the era of service-time. All that’s left now is for him to figure out this whole Major League Baseball thing and dodge the Rona while having no home ballpark! No big deal, right?
Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.