When the Houston Astros named Jeff Luhnow their GM in December of 2011, he brought a tremendous resume with him, highlighted by his strong performance as the Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2006 through his hiring with Houston. The first three Cardinals drafts overseen by Luhnow produced 24 future major leaguers, the most of any team during that period. Several players who made important contributions to the Cardinals’ victory in the 2011 World Series, including Jaime Garcia, Allen Craig, Jon Jay, and Lance Lynn, were drafted during Luhnow’s control of scouting for the Cardinals.
1/11/2012: Claimed Fernando Martinez off waivers from the New York Mets
1/2012: Signed Hector Corpas, Jack Cust, Chris Snyder, Zach Duke, Livan Hernandez, Jordan Kreke, Jordan Brown, Mike Hessman, Jair Fernandez, Rayderson Chevalier, Carlos Vasquez, and Tomas Lopez via free agency
3/14/2012: Signed Landon Powell via free agency
4/8/2012: Claimed Justin Maxwell off waivers from the New York Yankees
5/2012: Signed Armando Galarraga, Jarico Reynoso, Randy Cesar, Jean Carlos Cortorreal, Arturo Michelena, Harold Arauz, Elieser Hernandez, Juan Hernandez, Edwin Villarroel, and Erick Hurtado via free agency
6/2012: Signed Carlos Correa, Brady Rodgers, Andrew Aplin, Terrell Joyce, Brian Holmes, Joe Sclafani, Erick Gonzalez, Ricky Gingras, John Neely, M.P. Cokinos, Daniel Minor, Dan Gulbransen, Aaron West, Austin Elkins, Angel Ibanez, Christian Garcia, Jordan Jankowski, Michael Dimock, Travis Ballew, Joe Bircher, Kenny Long, Ryan Dineen, Marc Wik, Brett Phillips, Mike Hauschild, Michael Martinez, Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, Nolan Fontana, and Tyler Heineman, all draft picks and non-drafted free agents, as well as Hector Ambriz, Hector Roa, and Rauldison Rodriguez via free agency
7/2012: Signed Luis Payano, Kristian Trompiz, Victor Tavarez, Lance Day, Edwin Gomez, Gera Sanchez, and Jon Carnaham via free agency; Signed Preston Tucker and Jesus Castillo, draft picks and non-drafted free agents; Claimed Chuckie Fick off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, Steve Pearce off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, and Mark Hamburger off waivers from the San Diego Padres;
8/2012: Acquired Garrett Mock (Boston Red Sox), Chris Devenski (Chicago White Sox), and Tyler Greene (St. Louis Cardinals) for cash via trade; Signed Brian Sanches and Edgar Gonzalez via free agency; Traded Ben Francisco (Tampa Bay Rays for Theron Geith) and Steve Pearce (New York Yankees for cash)
9/2012: Claimed Brandon Laird off waivers from the New York Yankees
10/2012: Claimed Che-Hsuan Lin off waivers from the Boston Red Sox
11/2012: Claimed Sam Demel and Jake Elmore (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Philip Humber (Chicago White Sox) off of waivers; Signed Jose Valdez, Edgar Gonzalez, Trevor Crowe, and Sergio Escalona via free agency
12/2012: Claimed Josh Fields (Boston), Nate Freiman (San Diego), and Mickey Storey (New York Yankees) in the Rule V Draft; Traded Wilton Lopez to the Colorado Rockies for Alex White and Alex Gillingham; Signed Jose Veras via free agency
Then, the 2013 season got underway. A lot of moves here. Nothing really sticks out as fantastically brilliant outside of getting Justin Maxwell for a waiver claim and getting the Pittsburgh Pirates to take on Wandy Rodriguez‘s contract while getting a couple of solid-but-not-spectacular prospects in Grossman and Owens; however, the true value in what Luhnow has done has happened in the drafts the last two seasons.
In 2012, the Astros took Carlos Correa No.1 overall. While he was worthy of the pick and has performed very well, they were able to sign him below the recommended slot, allowing the club to draft and sign Lance McCullers at No.41 overall, a young, hard-throwing high school arm. The club seems to have several very good prospects in the system from the 2012 draft, but none have the potential impact that 2013 No.1 overall pick Mark Appel could bring to Houston.
The Astros signed Appel on Saturday for $6.35 million, roughly $1.44 million under slot. This will allow the Astros to possibly go over slot to sign later picks, such as college juniors Andrew Thurman and Kent Emanuel, additional college arms that could provide solid depth to the Astros’ system.
The Astros lost 213 games in 2011 and 2012 and their minor league system was in shambles. While some solid young players are finally reaching Minute Maid Park, it will take several more years of replenishing the system to create a team capable of contending in a strong, financially top-heavy AL West. Acquiring cheap, young talent will be the best way for the club to turn things around without mortgaging too much of the club’s financial future on long-term, free agent contracts. Look for moves involving Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Carlos Pena as the trade deadline comes and goes in 2013, and while the returns may not be fantastic, it will be additional resources and bodies for a team in desperate need of talent and depth within the organization.
For the time being, these are the players to look forward to watching in Houston:
1) Mark Appel, RHP
2) Carlos Correa, SS
3) Jonathan Singleton, 1B
4) George Springer, OF
5) Jared Cosart, RHP
6) Delino DeShields, Jr., 2B
7) Lance McCullers, RHP
8) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
9) Nolan Fontana, SS
10) Jonathan Villar, SS
11) Domingo Santana, OF
12) Asher Wojciechowski, RHP
13) Max Stassi, C
14) Kevin Comer, RHP
15) Nick Tropeano, RHP
Another season, another Troy Tulowitzki injury. Yawn…
This time, the Colorado Rockies‘ shortstop will miss four to six weeks due to a broken rib on his right side. He had been dealing with the injury for the last week, but appeared to aggravate it on Thursday night and an MRI revealed the injury. With Dexter Fowler leaving Thursday’s game after taking a pitch off of his right hand, it wasn’t a good day to be a Rockies’ fan or player. Luckily, Fowler’s x-ray showed only a bruise.
Tulowitzki’s loss is absolutely huge for the Rockies. He was leading the National League in slugging and OPS while posting a .347/.414/.639 line with 16 doubles, 16 home runs, and 51 RBI for Colorado. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki is one of the most valuable players in all of baseball. He was 3rd in WAR (3.9), 3rd in UZR/150 (17.1), and 7th in total bases (141) prior to hitting the shelf once again, while showing the power and defensive skills that led to his All-Star appearances, Gold Gloves, and Silver Sluggers in 2010 and 2011.
The Rockies rewarded Tulowitzki with a contract extension after the 2010 season, so they did get the solid production from him in 2011, adding six-years and $118 million to his existing contract; however, 2012 was a disaster and the potential month-plus loss of their star could lead to a quick slide in the standings, after all, they are turning to Josh Rutledge, who was sent to Triple-A on May 22nd after struggling in the early going of 2013 at second base.
After spending 126 days on the disabled list in 2012 due to left groin surgery, is it time to wonder about the brittleness of one of the game’s most talented stars?
Tulowitzki won’t turn 29 years old until October and it could be time to wonder whether playing a different position would take some of the strain off of Tulo’s body and keep him on the field. While you can’t jump to conclusions and assume that Tulowitzki is on his way to becoming Grady Sizemore-like when it comes to injuries, this is his fourth trip to the disabled list in his eighth season in the majors. Not everyone can be Cal Ripken, Jr., but what good is your greatest asset if you can’t keep him on the field, especially after committing so much financially into his ability to produce?
Obviously, a broken rib and a torn groin aren’t really things that you can play through, but the peanut brittle consistency of joints, bones, and ligaments when it comes to star players after receiving massive contracts isn’t something that should be ignored. Just ask Carl Crawford.
- Dear Chipper: Tulo not moving from short (espn.go.com)
- Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki playing it safe by taking some days off (denverpost.com)
- Report: Tulowitzki (rib) could face lengthy DL stint (cbssports.com)
Strange relationship for you here:
Both of these players were shortstops in their first full seasons in the minors, but upon arrival in MLB, they were playing other positions (third base and/or outfield). In 2012, Player A’s team went 33-18 (.647) in his 51 games and Player B’s team went 56-31 (.644) in his 87 games in 2003. Both players led their surprising teams to the playoffs and both players are now dominating in 2013.
When compared to Cabrera’s first full season, Machado’s numbers won’t really measure up, but, again, he is a year younger. After all, a 20-year-old who is currently on pace for 68 doubles, 12 home runs, 85 RBI, and 12 stolen bases isn’t awful, but they don’t really touch Cabrera’s All-Star 2004 season:
Manny Machado is finally gaining the attention that is so well deserved. Not only is he producing offensively, but he has become the top third baseman in baseball. He ranks third in fielding percentage (.985 behind Placido Polanco and Juan Uribe, who are brutal as far as their range is concerned), first in range factor (3.06), and first in UZR/150 (28.2, David Wright is second with a 20.2 among third basemen).
Certainly, it seems unrealistic to label Manny Machado as the next Miguel Cabrera, as the Detroit Tigers third baseman is currently just three home runs back from Machado’s teammate Chris Davis (18 to Davis’ 21), or he would be leading in all Triple Crown categories, after becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 (Carl Yastrzemski) when he won the award, along with AL MVP honors, in 2012; however, Machado has become one of the top players in baseball and worthy of the same hype that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper had last season. While he isn’t putting up the absurd numbers that Trout did in 2012, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t just as special. After all, how soon we forget about Trout hitting .220/.281/.390 in his first 135 plate appearances.
Manny Machado’s ceiling is that of an All-Star and if he ends up back at shortstop after J.J. Hardy‘s eventual departure, you’re looking at a player that is capable of matching Troy Tulowitzki‘s production in the middle infield. Not only that, but if Machado fills out his 6’2″ frame, he could even match-up with the man that he was compared to so frequently after being drafted at of a Miami high school – Alex Rodriguez…but…since ARod isn’t really a very “clean” name right now, lets just say that Machado becomes one of the top right-handed hitters of the generation, just like Cabrera.
- It Is Time For Manny Machado To Be In The Same Discussion As Harper And Trout (mlbreports.com)
- Manny is Macho (thebaseballhaven.mlblogs.com)
- Is Manny Machado in the same echelon as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper? (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Is Manny Machado Better Than Mike Trout And Bryce Harper? (bmore2boston.com)
“The Book” says that pitchers need to protect their team, but what about when this happens.
When Ian Kennedy nearly took Zack Greinke‘s head off on Tuesday night in the Diamondbacks and Dodgers game in Los Angeles, it made me wonder the value in throwing and intentionally hitting another human being with a baseball at 90-plus miles per hour.
It isn’t because Zack Greinke makes a lot of money. It isn’t because someone shouldn’t have felt a buzzing baseball due to the aggravation and violence in the game to that point. It all boils down to the safety of an individual player.
After watching Brandon McCarthy have his skull fractured last season and Justin Morneau and other batters struggling with concussion-like symptoms from being beaned in the head, there needs to be some type of action taken to protect the individual player, and Major League Baseball should make an example out of Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy.
There is a time and a place for intimidation, but not when a livelihood of another person is at stake.
The funny thing about the melee in Chavez Ravine on Tuesday was not the aggressive nature of Yasiel Puig and the fear that I had for the Diamondbacks when I saw his muscles and rage explode into punches, along with Ronald Belisario, but the fact that old, retired players, like Don Mattingly, Don Baylor, Charles Nagy, Matt Williams, and Mark McGwire seemed to be the instigators to the continued rumble. Maybe it was the “gritty” nature of Gibson’s Diamondback squad or the “gritty” philosophy that the Dodgers and Mattingly are trying to develop that led to this brawl, but should the coaches be the issue in moments like this? Is that embarrassing for baseball when they are?
I played baseball and I know that I hit people on purpose, mostly because I didn’t like them, but I was 13 and 14 years old, throwing about 70-75 miles per hour tops.
What Kennedy did crossed the line. Throwing at someone’s head is totally uncalled for, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is suspended for 12 to 15 games for his actions on Tuesday night. Anything less isn’t enough. It is time for pitchers who purposely throw at opposing hitters to actually feel the wrath of a suspension, not have their turn pushed back a day or two, but to really hurt the club by sitting, unused, on a 25-man roster, hurting their team by having to play a man short. When Carlos Quentin tackled Zack Greinke after being hit, breaking Greinke’s collarbone, I heard rumblings of how Quentin should have been suspended until Greinke was able to play again, something that Mattingly actually stated. What if Greinke was never able to pitch again? What if someone got hit in the face and a career was ruined, like Tony Conigliaro?
There are too many questions about what could happen to the batter when they are thrown at on purpose. It may be a part of “The Book”, but maybe it’s time for an updated volume.
While the season isn’t quite so young anymore with roughly 100 games remaining, the early season surprises and the small sample sizes that went along with them aren’t nearly so odd. Who is legit? Who will fall off? Who is still surprising?
Surprise, surprise. When you look at Iglesias’ career .257/.307/.314 line in four minor league seasons, and then you look at this:
Iglesias’ success would still qualify as a small sample, given his 83 plate appearances, but considering his struggles in the minors, especially his .202/.262/.319 line at Triple-A in 2013, his production is absolutely incredible. His likelihood to maintain this success is slim to none, unless, of course, Iglesias was just bored playing in the minor leagues. The 23-year-old appeared to be nothing more than organizational depth or a glove-based defensive replacement as recently as a month ago. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Not many guys have their best seasons in their mid-30′s without “the cream” or “the clear”, but that is exactly what Cuddyer is doing this season:
Cuddyer is on pace to shatter his career highs in OPS, AVG, and OBP, while posting productive numbers across the board. The Colorado lineup has been tremendous this season, leading to their current 2nd place ranking in the NL West standings. With Cuddyer’s ability to fill in for the oft-injured Todd Helton at first base and solidifying one of the most productive outfields in baseball, along with Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, he continues to be a valuable, under-appreciated asset to fantasy teams and “real-life teams” alike.
What appeared to be a super-productive May has continued into June:
Brown is a superstar and his early-career parallels to Braves outfielder Jason Heyward have finally reached fruition. If you take at look at his overall numbers, below, you can see how unproductive he was during the first month of the season:
Can pitchers make adjustments to make him an afterthought again in Philadelphia? It appears highly unlikely, as Brown looks like an All-Star, who is capable of reaching 30-35 home runs this season, while pacing an aging Phillies’ lineup.
Donaldson has always had a solid, gap-power approach at the plate, posting a career minor league line of .275/.365/.470 over 2,302 plate appearances. That game has finally transitioned to the big show, as his overall line shows:
With Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie, Donaldson is giving the A’s a somewhat formidable lineup to team with its young pitching, and at 38-27 and in 2nd in the AL West, Oakland will once again be a threatening team down the stretch.
At no point during his time in the minor leagues did Corbin appear to be on the same track as Tyler Skaggs or Trevor Bauer for Arizona, a top-tier starting pitcher. Corbin seemed to have back-end stuff after posting a career 3.78 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 430.2 innings. Then, the 2013 season happened:
Corbin has dominated in several starts this season and remains unbeaten after 12 starts. While he doesn’t possess shutdown, strikeout stuff, Corbin keeps the opposition off-balance and looks like the 2013 version of Wade Miley, the Diamondbacks lefty who has struggled mightily this season, but posted a 16-11 record and 3.33 ERA in his rookie season in 2012. He’ll eventually lose a game, but Corbin should continue to solidify himself as, at least, a mid-rotation starter, capable of becoming a Tom Glavine-like winner if he maintains his success, something that could be very challenging when he is pitching half of his games in the thin, desert air in Arizona.
Something clicked for Locke when he reached Triple-A Indianapolis within the Pirates organization. After posting a career 3.92 ERA over 629 innings prior to reaching Indianapolis, Locke posted a 2.44 ERA over 170 innings there before struggling in brief auditions in Pittsburgh in both 2011 and 2012. The 2013 season has been quite different, though:
Locke, like Corbin, doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, and, unlike Corbin, he flirts with disaster, at times, due to command. While Locke still does a solid job of keeping runners off of the base paths when he is throwing strikes, it isn’t wrong to wonder if he could succumb to another Pittsburgh flop, as the team remains without a winning record since 1992. It would be nice for the organization to have a veteran arm to rely on once Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are ready for Pittsburgh, and with A.J. Burnett dominating and potentially becoming trade fodder, Locke could be that guy. If he doesn’t improve either his walk rate or strikeout rates, though, he could be heading towards a drastic decline over the rest of the 2013 season.
A tremendous athlete, Wood is finally showing the skills that made him such a highly regarded young player when he came up with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 and thrived. Things hadn’t gone so well the last couple of seasons, but things are back on track in 2013:
Not only has he been effective on the mound, but Wood could be one of the Cubs’ best hitters, having posted a .910 OPS with two home runs and seven RBI in just 26 at-bats – they should pinch-hit for the struggling Starlin Castro with him! With Wood and Jeff Samardzija around in the rotation, the Cubs have a couple of solid arms to build around…if they could just figure out a way to get rid of that now awful Edwin Jackson contract. Like Locke, Wood has spurts of control issues, but he is leading the NL in hits per nine and could well be on his way to establishing himself, along with Samardzija, as a dominant arm on the constantly rebuilding Cubs squad.
I know he’s looking all nimbly bimbly right now, going 5-for-8 with two home runs and five RBI after two games, but all of the Bo Jackson and greatest player ever stuff about Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig should probably stop. Many players have had great games, great starts, and nice stretches, only to fade into their typical, normal-guy kind of existence – like Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes after Opening Day of 1994.
Certainly, Puig is a physical specimen. Comparing him to Jackson seems normal due to photos:
Puig is listed at 6’3″, 245 pounds.
Jackson was listed at 6’1″, 220 pounds.
They both appear to be finer looking versions of what a man should look like than I am, but Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval have proven that physique doesn’t guarantee success at the major league level.
When compared to other former Cuban stars, Puig and Cespedes appear to have plate discipline skills that make other Cuban bats like Juan Miranda, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, and Kendry Morales look like Domonic Brown in the month of May (zero walks in 109 plate appearances for those of you who missed the joke, there). It tends to be unheard of for the plate discipline of Cuban imports to be so…present.
For now, Puig is full of potential. He’s 22 years old, strong, athletic, and a special talent – which led to his seven-year, $42 million deal prior to swinging a bat in the states; however, give him some time to adjust. The man only had 262 plate appearances in the minor leagues, and while he did put up an impressive .328/.405/.611 line with 14 doubles, six triples, 13 home runs, and 21 stolen bases, he was just the No.76 prospect in baseball (according to MLB.com) prior to the 2013 season.
All of the absurd physical comparisons after two games are nuts. As a Cincinnati native, I remember Glenn Braggs playing for the Reds when I was growing up. He was so strong he broke bats in half when he swung and missed.
He was a career .257/.322/.405 hitter in 2,609 plate appearances. Muscles and athleticism don’t equal success. Bo Jackson was an amazing athlete that couldn’t make consistent contact. While he was hurt while he was making a significant improvement in his baseball abilities, it doesn’t change the fact that being ripped doesn’t necessarily mean that you can rip the cover off of a baseball.
The Atlanta Braves are 32-22, 4.5 games in front of the Washington Nationals in the NL East heading into Saturday’s game in the nation’s capital. After starting the season 12-1, the Braves have struggled to find consistency out of two of their (expected) star, offensive talents, as B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward have combined to hit .183/.285/.244 over 305 plate appearances, with 14 extra-base hits and 16 RBI. Atlanta is doing it all with pitching, as the group has performed very well, ranking 10th in MLB in starter ERA (3.71):
With the starting rotation looking very good overall, what will the Braves do with Brandon Beachy, who has now made two rehab starts as part of his return from Tommy John surgery. Beachy has had a pretty remarkable career to this point:
Prior to his injury in 2012, Beachy was putting up ace-like numbers, and over his brief, 41-start career, he has been pretty fantastic, averaging over a strikeout per inning, as well as above-average ERA and WHIP totals. With his return, the Atlanta Braves will have a difficult decision to make with their rotation: Who goes to make room for Beachy?
If you took Tim Hudson, who has five quality starts in 11 tries (45 percent), and his numbers out of the current rotation, the staff ERA would be 3.33, which would be 3rd (behind St. Louis and Cincinnati). Hudson is in the final year of his contract and he turns 38 years old in July. One could question if he has what it takes to thrive over the rest of the season, given the team’s inability to find offensive success, especially as the races heat up in the later months of the season, but is his “experience” worth keeping around?
Julio Teheran has been nothing short of spectacular over his last seven starts, compiling a 2.49 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and a 32:6 K:BB over 47 innings. Teheran turned 22 years old in January and after being rated the No.4 prospect in baseball by MLB.com and the No.5 prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season, Teheran has reinforced his skills, his status, and his ability to contribute at the major league level; however, is his lack of extended success and experience capable of forcing the Braves to remove him from the rotation?
Kris Medlen may not have the greatest record, but he has proven himself as a starting pitcher over his career, compiling these statistics:
Medlen’s success, despite his current 1-6 record, would seemingly keep him locked into the rotation; however, due to his success in the bullpen (2.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP over 90 appearances), should the Braves consider another switch for the 27-year-old, 5’10″ right-hander?
Mike Minor looks like an ace in 2013 and he has been since the All-Star break of 2012, having compiled a 2.31 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, and a 133:30 K:BB over 160 innings. He would seem to be going nowhere anytime soon, having shown that he is a shutdown arm for the squad, in spite of his career 4.00 ERA.
Paul Maholm has been very consistent for Atlanta since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs last season. While he doesn’t thrive in any particular part of the game (ERA, WHIP, or K:9), Maholm is a very good mid-rotation starter that will give the team an average to above-average start every fifth day.
Should the club go to a six-man rotation? The move could make some sense. Why?
- Julio Teheran will be on an innings limit due to his lack of experience at the major league and minor league level
- Kris Medlen had Tommy John surgery on 8/18/2010
- Brandon Beachy had Tommy John surgery on 6/21/2012
- Tim Hudson had Tommy John surgery on 8/8/2008 and back surgery on 11/28/2011
While there has been some time between several of those surgeries and today, would the extra day of rest keep the Braves starters fresher and keep them in the rotation this season, so they don’t have to make a Stephen Strasburg-like shutdown of any of their starters when their presence matters most?
There could be injuries that ease Beachy’s transition back into the rotation or the Braves could make a trade for more offensive help, but if those things don’t happen, their pitching depth will only help them be a stronger team. It’s just unfortunate that someone may have to go to an unexpected bullpen role or be sent to the minor leagues.
- Braves Grades for Every Player in May (bleacherreport.com)
- NL East Race Already Over: Braves Win! (atlantabullpen.com)
- Brandon Beachy on track to make 2013 debut June 18 (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Beachy set to make Triple-A rehab start Friday (cbssports.com)
- Beachy has a strong rehab effort (tomahawktalkin.wordpress.com)
Domonic Brown is good. He may not be very good or ever become great, but he has shown in the month of May what he is capable of, having posted a .933 OPS with 10 home runs, 21 RBI, and three stolen bases in 27 games and 105 plate appearances. Sure, he hasn’t taken a walk all month, so his .295/.295/.638 leaves something to be desired, but with Chase Utley hurting and Ryan Howard looking like a “Big Piece” of trash, considering what he is earning ($25 million), for the Philadelphia Phillies, this is a big deal.
Brown’s emergence in the power department has to be a welcomed addition to the rapidly aging Philly squad. At the age of 25, Brown could be on his way to establishing himself as an All-Star caliber talent. While his walk rate is very low due to his apparent lack of patience in May (4.5 percent for the full season), he did manage nine walks in 97 plate appearances, a 9.7 percent walk rate, in the first month of the season, and his strikeout rate hasn’t increased dramatically (17.5 percent in the first month and 19 percent in May). The patience is there to allow Brown to be a more patient hitter, especially if you consider his career .373 on-base percentage over 2,274 minor league plate appearances.
However, what if Brown doesn’t walk and he just hits home runs and drives in runs? Is that so bad? While it would affect his triple slash and his ability to post incredibly overall numbers, what is wrong with Domonic Brown becoming Alfonso Soriano?
Look at Soriano’s career:
Soriano didn’t get his career started until 2001, at the age of 25, after spending his age-19 through age-21 seasons playing in Japan. He played in three levels in his first season stateside (1999), before spending all of 2000 in Triple-A. Upon getting started in New York for good, Soriano established himself as a powerful force in the Yankee lineup. He appeared in seven straight All-Star games and was a dominant force for several years before slipping drastically in Chicago in 2009, the third year of an eight-year, $136 million deal. Whether his decline resulted in a little bad luck (.279 BABIP in 2009, career average is still .303 today) or his aging frame being unable to swing his giant bat (35 inches, 36 ounces), Soriano made an adjustment last season (32.8 ounces) in his bat to revitalize his value, although he still isn’t worth $18 million in 2013 or 2014, given his inability to show consistency at the plate over the last several seasons…but at least it isn’t Ryan Howard’s contract on the Chicago Cubs!
Regardless, Brown compares favorably to Soriano if he were to continue to produce like he has in May due to Soriano’s lack of on-base skills over his career. He has walked in just six percent of his 7,727 career plate appearances, while still finding a way to slug nearly 400 home runs and drive in over 1,000 runs. In Soriano’s first five full seasons (2001-2005), he walked just 156 times in 3,429 plate appearances, a 4.5 percent walk rate. Where did we see that number before? Domonic Brown’s 2013 walk rate is 4.5 percent, even after not having taken a walk in 105 May plate appearances.
Boom. Small sample size statistical comparison made. Now, the questions become:
- Can Brown maintain this success?
- Will Brown increase his walk rate due to his past success in his ability to take a walk?
- Can Brown become a better player than Soriano?
- Will Brown maintain this walk rate and hit for power while never taking another walk the rest of his career?
I’ve written about Domonic Brown several times in the past on this site, including: the Phillies apparent hatred of Brown, their mismanagement of their prospect, and the Phillies ineffective use of talent. Finally, the Phillies are letting him play and he is producing. As someone who has watched his career progress due to having All-Star predictions about Brown while he was a minor leaguer, the fact that he is even playing is fantastic, but the power and production, even without the walks, is even more exciting.
Didi Gregorius. A 23-year-old shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Didi Gregorius. A career .267/.319/.375 hitter in over 2,080 plate appearances in the minor leagues. Didi Gregorius. Currently hitting .324/.385/.541 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 home runs.
Can he keep this pace up?
Gregorius’ highest OPS in an overall minor league season was in 2011, when he posted a .753 OPS between High-A and Double-A within the Cincinnati Reds system. Those numbers were a tad inflated due to his time in Bakersfield, a club within the California League, where he posted a .791 OPS over 203 plate appearances. He was always pushed by the Cincinnati organization, as you can see below, only spending one season with the same club, which was his first season in the Gulf Coast League, and even moving from the Pioneer League to High-A for 22 games at the age of 19.
|2009||19||2 Teams||2 Lgs||CIN||72||299||275||36||82||14||1||1||18||8||13||36||.298||.341||.367||.708||101|
|2010||20||3 Teams||3 Lgs||CIN||163||717||653||84||167||21||13||6||50||20||45||81||.256||.311||.355||.666||232|
|2011||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||CIN||84||363||336||48||97||18||4||7||44||11||19||50||.289||.324||.429||.753||144|
|2012||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||CIN||129||561||501||70||133||21||11||7||54||3||41||80||.265||.324||.393||.717||197|
Gregorius has a .926 OPS, as I write this, and, after 124 plate appearances with Arizona, we should wonder now why he CAN’T keep this up. The young shortstop has several statistics playing in his favor:
- A .364 BABIP: While 45 stolen bases over six seasons leaves a lot to be desired in the speed category, Gregorius clearly has solid gap power and an ability to put the ball where fielders aren’t. The friendly-confines of Chase Field should be taken into consideration for his ability to continue to drive the ball, as well.
- A 9.5 percent HR/FB rate: Considering the top five HR/FB rate in MLB are Pedro Alvarez (29.4), Bryce Harper (29.3), Chris Davis (28.8), Justin Upton (28.0), and Adam Dunn (26.1), Gregorius and his 9.5 percent HR/FB are right in line with “league average”, so he could very well continue to put together numbers like he has to this point.
- A 31.3 O-Swing percentage: Gregorius is a smart hitter, working counts (3.94 pitches per at-bat) and swinging at strikes (O-Swing is percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone).
- A 22.0 line drive percentage: Gregorius would rank right around 67th (with Andrelton Simmons and Gerardo Parra) with his current line drive rate. While that isn’t the upper echelon of hard hitters, it is right around the 20 percent league average (according to FanGraphs)
Gregorius is still highly underrated in fantasy leagues, ranking 21st among shortstops in ESPN’s Player Rater. He is no Troy Tulowitzki but he does have a similar career line as Jean Segura (without the speed), whose .969 OPS through 210 plate appearances was legit enough for ESPN to rank him as the No.1 shortstop.
The time may be now to buy into Gregorius. While he has a small sample size showing what he has, there may not be much more time to get him cheap, and the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks sure seemed to find a lot of value in him this offseason when the three team deal with Cincinnati involving Trevor Bauer and Shin-Soo Choo was consummated.
The Baltimore Orioles had an exciting debut Thursday night when 22-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman took the mound at Rogers Centre in Toronto against the Blue Jays. While I’m not a scout or genius, this is what I saw:
- Very good fastball, touching 98 mph several times
- Pretty straight fastball, which could lead to some issues as the opposition adjusts to him
- A very good offspeed pitch that was sitting in the mid-80′s with hard downward break
- Very good deception: Gausman hid the ball in his glove and went directly behind his right side, allowing the ball seemingly explode towards home, which makes that 98 mph fastball that much more impressive
- The solid minor league command didn’t seem to transition tonight
- Nerves combined with overthrowing resulted in the command issues
- The command issues weren’t overwhelming (just two walks), but Gausman was high or outside several times due to the overthrowing
His overall line (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) wasn’t awful; however, the Orioles will certainly hope for more out of him going forward considering his impressive numbers, to date, in the minors:
The 62:6 K:BB in 61.1 innings was absolutely tremendous and the 58 strikes in 89 pitches (65.2 percent) shows that he can pound the strike zone.
Going Forward: Gausman has some impressive stuff. He seemed like he was trying to strike a lot of guys out tonight and will probably have a discussion about trusting his defense, which is wise considering the incredible defense behind him in Baltimore (the O’s are first in MLB in team fielding percentage, .992). With the injury to Wei-Yin Chen and the presence of Freddy Garcia in the Orioles rotation, Gausman is likely to maintain a rotation spot over the rest of the season, or at least until he reaches around 130 innings, which would give the youngster approximately 175 innings in 2013. He is a legitimate top prospect worthy of rostering in all fantasy baseball leagues, and worthy of admiration by all baseball fans. The numbers didn’t show his potential tonight. If Dylan Bundy‘s elbow doesn’t need surgically re-attached, the Orioles have a dynamic combination forming out of their top two prospects.