Hello Mother. Hello Father.
Here I am at Camp Corona.
Tests are bad here. The system’s failing.
We’re very stressed but fairly uncomplaining.
Now I don’t want this should scare ya,
But my bunkmate thinks we’ll soon lockdown this area.
Sorry for that.
But wow am I excited to be writing a prospect news piece!
First a bit of a camp-connected pitching thought.
Not unlike your annual plan to come back from camp the cool kid this school year, managers are saying all sorts of things about how they’re hoping to use pitchers. I’d bet my s’mores none of this careful pitch-count, six-man-rotation talk holds up when the season sets in. The first couple weeks, sure, just like that wardrobe reshuffle with the new attitude you brought to fourth grade science class.
Kyle Lewis is the big kid on Seattle’s playground. Might as well keep the Razz drumbeat going. He’s been hitting bombs everyday, and sure it’s happening against Seattle pitchers, but it’s better than not hitting bombs.
30 HR seems kinda bold now it’s a 60-game season, but I stan by it.
Jarred Kelenic has been palling around with Lewis, rounding the bases alongside him due to the constant home run hitting. I don’t think he can force a promotion this year, but it would be fun.
Nobody knows what’s up with Dee Gordon, but he’s missed the last couple days and has an infant at home. He’s in a utility role this year because the club wants to build a Long, Shed at the keystone.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa was winning the 3B anyway but locks it in with Solak in left.
RHP Jonathan Hernandez is regularly popping 100 with a nasty fastball. He’s been told he made the opening day 30 and is well positioned for late-inning work in a depleted bullpen missing Joely Rodriguez and Rafael Montero.
Houston’s pitching is hidden-wire thin right now at the big league level, but middle inning monsters like Bryan Abreu and Cristian Javier could paper over the holes while José Urquidy and Austin Pruitt convalesce.
Could be time for Josh James to light a bonfire.
Kyle Tucker lost the right field job to time, Dusty Baker and the contract of Josh Reddick, but early drafters who jumped the gun on him might have a Yordan Alvarez sized reprieve. He’s still not in camp, but we’re keeping a bunk reserved for him.
2020 was supposed to be the year Jesus Luzardo came back to Oakland and paired with the giant trickster AJ Puk to win the West, but we’ve yet to see Jesus. Puk looks healthy and could be a key K/inning source on a good team in the short burst.
Like Kyle Lewis is doing, young hitters have to force pitchers out of the strike zone via damage. Pitchers tend to challenge young guys until it becomes clear where the hitter wins in the zone. That’s when they work extensively outside the zone, and the hitter has to force them back in via patience and tough at bats.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. showed early in 2019 that he was dangerous, so pitchers fed him the nastiest, tastiest looking off-speed diet they could cook up.
It’s almost impossible to predict how this period of a career will go for a young bat. How long will it take for a Javy Baez to find the balance between aggression and patience? Some guys take a couple seasons. Used to be about 800 plate appearances was an arbitrary number people liked in deciding whether a guy could come through this off-the-plate crucible.
Jorge Soler took a bit longer than that but not much. And that felt like a minute, right? Because it’s rare to get a ton of plate appearances if you’re not hitting, so sometimes it takes years of back and forth. Some of this is how we end up with the 4A player. What he needs is big league reps to push through that aggression/patience paradigm, and those become increasingly difficult to come by as a player ages.
Seth Brown in Oakland is a guy I’ve said too many words about already, but I think he’s somebody who’s slept on because that’s the only piece left: just MLB plate appearances. I tend to like these guys a lot. Brown, like Tim Lopes in Seattle, has nothing more to learn or prove in the minors, and I’m excited to see what both can do.
Let’s close out by quoting that Allan Sherman classic:
“Wait a minute, it’s stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that’s bettah
Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter”
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.