My Top 30 Prospects for 2011: Part 5

Thirteen prospects in the books, we’ll cover 3 more today. No clowning around, lets get to it.

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

14. JC Ramirez, RHP
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2010 Summary: With Tyson Gillies and Phillippe Aumont struggling/injured, Ramirez ended up having the best season of the 3, posting solid numbers in the FSL before earning a promotion to 2A. Though he had an uneven season, he did manage to improve his control at both levels after getting out of the CAL League.

Strengths: Ramirez continues to confound. His arm strength is still there, his fastball can still sit in the 91-94 range, and he’ll show promise with his changeup and curveball. He struggled in AA, but was only 21. He has a prototypical pitcher’s frame, built to absorb innings. He has no major red flags in his delivery, and generates good power with his lower body.

Weaknesses: His major issues stem around his command, his secondary offerings and his consistency across the board. As you can see in his delivery here (wait till the video turns right side up mid way through) he has a high leg kick and breaks his hands early, which could lead to him getting out of sync and not repeating his mechanics. For a guy with a power arm, he doesn’t miss as many bats as you’d think he should, and his flyball tendencies were punished at the more hitter friendly Reading.

Best Case: Having just turned 22 in August, Ramirez still has time, especially because pitchers can move fast when the light goes on. His power arsenal is well suited for late inning relief, but he could still be a starter if he can refine his changeup and find consistency in his mechanics.

MLB ETA: Probably 2013 at this point.

Ranking Difficulties: In a way, I’m kind of still willing to bet on Ramirez in the same fashion as I’m betting on Domingo Santana. He has a power arm, but he’s still unrefined. The light may never turn on, but if it does, he has all the tools needed to pitch in the middle of a big league rotation. I could have dropped him a bit lower, but I have a decent feeling about him in 2011.

Final Thoughts: This is the first spot on the list where I really debated 4-5 guys. I ended up going with Ramirez because he reached AA before his 22nd birthday, and because his raw arm and frame point to a potentially solid starting pitcher, and his fallback option, an 8th inning reliever, isn’t the worst outcome. If he can put together a solid 2011, improving his secondary stuff and his consistency, I think he’s an easy top 10 guy next year.

15. Aaron Altherr, OF/3B
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2010 Summary: Altherr had a solid 2010 season across 2 levels, and it was just confirmed that he will be moving from the outfield to 3B in 2011, as long as he has a solid showing in spring training.

Strengths: Altherr’s athleticism has been praised since high school, as he was the shortstop on his team and also a basketball recruit. At 6’5/190, he’s the poster boy for projection, as he should fill out and add strength to his frame, which should mean more power. He stole 12 bases in 2010, and in a full season, he should steal 20. If he can re-adjust to the infield, he becomes the Phillies top 3B prospect by a wide margin.

Weaknesses: While Altherr offers lots of projection, his now skills are limited. He made good contact in 2010, but he didn’t show much power, his 12 SB were a decent total, but not plus, and and its unclear how his bat is going to progress. He didn’t show a ton of patience at the plate, though his walk rate did improve at Williamsport.

Best Case: Its hard to say what Altherr will become at this point. He hit for average, but not much else, though the projection is still there. If he fills out in the same mold as Domonic Brown, obviously he’ll be an every day player. I guess I’m just somewhat hesitant at this point, because I’m not sure I see him being more than a 20 HR guy per year, or a 20 SB guy per year.

MLB ETA: Altherr was already a long way away from the majors, and the position switch, if its a go, will likely slow him down a bit as well. At this point, he’s 3+ years away.

Ranking Difficulties: Numerous difficulties. Altherr didn’t do anything “wrong” in 2010, but I also struggle right now to see a potential star. The move to 3B is intriguing but I’m not quite sure it enhances his overall value, as CF is probably slightly more valuable in terms of the defensive spectrum, though the Phillies lack anything resembling a 3B prospect in the system. I suppose I could have ranked him a few spots higher, certainly no lower, but I just don’t really know what to feel about him going forward.

Final Thoughts: I may be selling Altherr short, but I just don’t really know what to make of him. His ability to make contact is impressive, but the rest of his performance was average in terms of his peripherals. The NYPL isn’t an easy hitting environment, and he held his own, but I don’t see one knockout tool in his box. That sounds weird. But I’m keeping it. I hope he proves me wrong and takes off in 2011, because from everything I’ve heard, he’s a bright kid with a solid work ethic.

16. Jon Pettibone, RHP
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2010 Summary: Pettibone had a strange season in many ways. After dealing with injury issues in 2009, he stayed healthy in 2010, logging 131 innings at Lakewood. He showed much improved control, and also posted a solid 50% groundball rate.

Strengths: Pettibone’s control improved significantly in 2010, and his groundball rate increased, those are two important traits to have. After not pitching much for 2 years, it was nice to see him log innings. At 6’5/200, Pettibone has a perfect frame and should be durable going forward. While I tend to go back and forth on his delivery, he repeats it well, which will help him maintain consistency. Reports had his velocity improving from the 88-90 to the 90-93 range.

Weaknesses: For someone with a power frame, Pettibone struck out only 5.77/9 in 2010, and he did allow 10 HR in 131 innings, a highish amount considering Lakewood’s very pitcher friendly confines. Though he repeats his delivery well, he comes from a very high arm slot, which limits the movement he gets on his fastball. His changeup is still a work in progress.

Best Case: Its hard to say. With his frame, he could continue to add velocity, as he just turned 20 in July. If he bumps his fastball up to, say, 92-94, and he refines his secondary pitches there isn’t much that separates him from a guy like Trevor May. He repeats his delivery well and he’s improved both his control and his groundball rates. He really has to start striking out more hitters though.

MLB ETA: Its a ways off in the distance. 2013/2014 is realistic.

Ranking Difficulties: Pettibone is a bit of a mystery. He’s a big guy, yet he hasn’t translated the frame and stuff into swings and misses. I considered ranking him as low as 18 or 19, and as high as 10 or 11.

Final Thoughts: 2011 is a vital year for Pettibone. I mean, every year is a vital year for every prospect, but it will be interesting to see how he progresses. The walks and groundballs went in the right direction, the strikeouts went in the wrong direction. The velocity seemed to go in the right direction. If he continues to make progress and starts missing bats, he looks like a potential #3 starter.

102 thoughts on “My Top 30 Prospects for 2011: Part 5

  1. I have the same #1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12 and 14… same thoughts on Biddle, Hernandez and Ramirez… the rest of the list… eh.

    1. You realize, of course, that you agree with PP on 10 out of 16 prospects? Also, I am sure your number 2 and 4 prospects are simply switched. But when you are talking about the difference between the number 2 prospect and the number 4 prospect in a top 5 system, the difference is practically nothing. Throw in the fact that opinions on prospects range all over the board and I think your lists are pretty similar. Of course, if you were being sarcastic feel free to ignore everything I wrote…

  2. hehe… he said “knockout tool in his box.”

    Altherr is a guy I’ll be watching closely. As a toolsy outfielder, he wasn’t a standout for me – we’ve got plenty of those guys. As a third base prospect, he’s intriguing. Is it just me or is his build not really that of a third basemen? I don’t tend to think of a 3B as being a “long and lanky” type of guy.

    – Jeff

    1. I had the same concern. The only 6’5″ player I’ve seen stick at third was Troy Glaus, and even he ended up moving off the position.

      1. Not quite 6’5″ but Mike Lowell comes to mind as a tall and lean guy (6’3″ 210) who was able to field the position well for a long time. Might be a good “best case” comparable for Altherr, as he was a solid 20hr a year 3b.

        1. Are we going to have this discussion every time Altherr is mentioned? Tall people can play 3B. Fact. Everyone remember it. 🙂

          1. Also, I have no reason to doubt a 19 year old’s ability to hit for power. Let him fill out his frame and add some muscle before we criticize his inability to hit the long ball.

            1. Lets say at 23 there will be an idea and by 25 he will be nearing his ultimate power. For now let’s wait until he shaves every day.

  3. Very interesting. That’s higher than I thought you’d have ranked Pettibone, but I get it.

    1. I also think Pettibone shouldn’t be quite this high. In the first meaningful sample we have on him, his K/9 rate was pretty poor. Lots of other people have already said this, but a high K/9 rate is probably the most important indicator of future success for a young starter.

      He got a lot better in his last 5 games (K/9 of 9.3), and some have attributed that to improvements he made, but he also could have gotten lucky or been facing worse competition. I guess we shall see…

      1. It probably wasn’t worse comp because 2 of those games were in the playoffs, in which ha started and won the the series clinching games, at least we can say he is “clutch”.

  4. I was a little down on Ramirez (did not like his numbers this year) until reading recently that he suffered from a hip issue that he addressed at the end of the year with surgery. I’ll search for a link, but there could be a nice jump in store for him this year in terms of velocity and command/control if a hip issue was corrected.

    1. Oh hell they are ALL going to be fine. What could he have learned in August that was so important?

  5. no big arguments from me on the list so far. IMO I’d swap Gillies and Santana, but whatever. I think that age seems to be one of the best things we have on our side with most of these top guys.

  6. I wonder if Ramirez has been getting a “well, he must be worth something since we got him for Cliff Lee” break. Sure he has “potential.” But I think, given his age, he has not shown that what he does is effective enough. Pettibone, at least, has age going for him. But J.C., if he’s ranked this high, should be getting better results.

    1. Ramirez is two years older than Pettibone, but two levels ahead of him. So…what’s the difference? Not sure I understand the argument. One could easily make the argument the other way, ie. “we should have never traded Cliff Lee. These guys suck no matter what they do!”

    2. Ramirez hit AA by 21–probably the same schedule Pettibone is on if he progresses. Sickels has Ramirez at 14 and BA at 17…neither of them are part of “we” as Phillies fans, so it’s tough to view this ranking as biased because of the Lee deal.

    3. Kyle Drabek (Age 21 in AA)–7.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 8.6 H/9, 0.8 HR/9

      J.C. Ramirez (Age 21 in AA)–7.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 10.3 H/9, 1.3 HR/9

      Obviously, Ramirez is not a Drabekian prospect, but in their respective Age 21 seasons, there’s not a huge difference. I don’t think PP tagging him as a guy who needs to improve some things to be a big league starter and may end up as a reliever can really be considered overvaluing him.

        1. Captains Log, Stardate 3492.43, We’re in orbit of Drabekian 5. A minor trade dispute has escalated into a shooting war and the Enterprise has been ordered to the system to mediate the dispute…

      1. Puko – There’s a huge difference between 8.6 H/9 and 10.3 H/9, (25% more hits) particularly when coupled with more than 50% more home runs.

        My point about Pettibone was that he still may hold his potential over the next two years. But, unless he has some kind of breakthrough year, Ramirez has shown more of the potential he actually has and it has not been impressive to this point.

        If Pettibone puts up numbers like Ramirez in two years, I expect he will have fallen significantly on this list, instead of rising a few spots.

        1. At this point, they’ve both pitched five seasons and Ramirez is almost a year younger. Career numbers:

          Drabek: 7.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 7.7 H/9, 0.7 HR/9
          Ramirez: 7.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 8.5 H/9, 0.7 HR/9

          I’m not a big Ramirez defender, I just think it’s inaccurate to say that what he’s shown isn’t effective enough to warrant his ranking. The hit differential between him and Drabek in Ramirez’ short stint at AA is what you would expect for a guy in the middle of the pack of a particular organization’s prospect list compared to one of the best prospects in baseball.

          1. Also, those numbers completely disregard JC’s hip issues. Food for thought? Possible canidate for big jump this year?

        1. Third base is a new assignment for Altherr which was probably first mentioned after the article was done.

          We all should hope/pray he fits well there since none other is a possibility for that position.

          That he played at SS in HS increases his chances.

    1. The two most interesting things to me are that he added 20 pounds of muscle in off-season work-outs and that the end of year fade at Williamsport was caused by a wrist injury, which is now healed. His take on how you run against the GCL catchers and pitchers who can’t hold runners is amusing. He doesn’t seem a fast enough guy to be running every time he got on first, but that’s what he said he did. He reported a big difference in NY-P league.

  7. Nice to see Altherr making an appearance. He is admittedly one of the most difficult guys to rank, but I think PP has him a little too far down the list. So far Jiwan James is the only guy I have in my top 16, whom PP has yet to list.

  8. ” he becomes the Phillies top 3B prospect by a wide margin”

    The Phillies have not had a third base prospect since Scott Rolen. Haven’t paid anyone in the draft or international market to be a 3B prospect either.

    1. Well, to be fair to the Phils, they paid Travis Mattair a decent amount, he just didn’t pan out. But I agree with your general point that they haven’t gone after many young high-profile third basemen in recent years.

      1. You’re right, I forgot about Mattair. Still, Rolen was drafted in 1993.

        Of course, the year Gavin Floyd was drafted the Phillies passed over 3B Mark Teixeira. That’s why Teixeira is so good with the glove at 1B. At 3B he would likely have always been a bit rough, but he could have stuck there. Mike Arbuckle wanted him, said so publicly.

        Dave $$$ Montgomery said “Noooooooooo!”

        The now 14 year long boycott of Scott Boras clients in the draft continues. And to this day only Ryan Madson has had a contract negotiated successfully with the Phillies.

        I just checked the Scott Boras tracker at MLBtraderumors and I see that Boras has signed up Domonic Brown. I guess Brown realized that he was worth a lot more than $200,000 in the draft and he had better get some new representation for the future.

        The next Ryan Madson negotiation will be for huge dollars and it’s not far off. Look what has happened to the Angels by fighting a war against Boras.

          1. Actually on any of the major league blogs it hasn’t “slipped under the radar”, this is a minors blog and thus why it has not been touched on here…

            1. Well, I have not read those blogs.

              As far as here goes though, I’ve encountered resistance to the idea of Worley going into the pen even though he looks great coming out of there.

              The Phils pen is thin. Madson -soon to be a Boras free agent- is the only successful Phils farm product there. The last before him I believe is Ricky Bottalico.

            2. The Phillies pen is full. It doesn’t matter how many are homegrown for it to be full. Bastardo and Mathieson are both ready now and there likely isn’t a spot for both. DeFratus, Schwimer, and Stutes should be ready sometime during this season. If Rosenberg is healthy again, he is also in the mix. A number of the minor league starters, like Hyatt and Ramierez, who will be at Reading this season, also are likely to wind up in the pen long term. I do agree that Worley could join the Phillies pen if the need develops. He is more valuable as a spare starter in AAA who can come up if one of the starting five needs to miss some starts.

        1. The Phillies are not going to overpay Madson, nor should they.

          I like Madson too, but he’s the least of their concerns.

          Most likely, Madson will stay with the Phillies. He’ll be the only really experienced guy they pay. Expect something like a 3 year, $15-20 million contract unless he somehow becomes the closer this year and dominates (unlikely).

          And, this just in, the Phillies, who have shelled out $120 million over 5 years for a pitcher and will be paying their first baseman about that much money, are cheap. Huh?

          1. I would guess he gets closer to 3 years, $24-25 million as he’ll be signed to take over the Closer spot, Boras is his agent and look at what Soriano just got.

    2. On the international market…Juan Richardson and Wellington Baez were both paid six figure bonuses as third basemen…as for draft picks…Terry Jones and Mike Costanzo were early round selections for 3B. Of course, they all failed to impress.

      1. The bonuses of Richardson and Baez together were about 2nd round slot money. I was thinking at least 1st round slot money. Mattair fit that category.

        Terry Jones was a SS.

        Costanzo was a 1B in college. I’m not sure if he ever showed the ability to play 3B because his bat kept him out of MLB. BA does have listed as a 3B in the Reds organization. A 2nd round pick for slot money at any rate.

        All their cheap sign international SS prospects are always glove guys too, so no 3B potential there either.

        1. Jones was drafted as a 3B, not a SS. He never played SS for Phillies. Costanzo played 3B in college

            1. You will almost never, ever see a third baseman drafted out of high school in the first round. If a kid is good enough to merit that status he’s probably the shortstop on his team. Here’s the high school third basemen drafted in the first round who had real careers (10+ WAR).

              Dmitri Young
              Eric Chavez
              Manny Ramirez
              Bernie Carbo
              Alexis Rios
              David Wright

              That’s it. Six players in the history of the draft. And four of them moved off the position pretty quickly. If you’re judging third base talent by guys who played there as amateurs, you’re never going to find what you’re looking for.

              (FWIW, your results don’t get much better if you look at college third basemen in the first round.)

            2. Allan, that post should be pinned to the top of the site. It is so tiresome hearing the same uninformed commenters constantly call for the drafting of 3rd basemen in the 1st round. Totally oblivious that the best 3rd basemen are SS as amateurs.

        2. Just to set the record straight, Costanzo was a utility player in college at Coastal Carolina, playing primarily at DH because he was the team’s closer as well as the their best hitter. In the pros, he’s played 531 games at 3B, and only 83 at 1B. When the Phils drafted him, they announced him as a 3B/Pitcher IIRC.

  9. Altherr was probably my hardest prospect to rank (along with Cesar Hernandez where I debated his power/speed benefit). Scouts ranked Altherr high, he has the famed ‘tools’ label, he was considered very raw, and he had a decent showing thus far. I wonder where do his tools go?
    Like PP mentioned it does not appear that he has any specific outstanding tool (in that way I think he is like Dugan). However, a 20/20 guy hitting .300 could have one breakout an all star season at 3B with the right peripherals. Most of the other guys ranked above him have demonstrated an above average major league skill. I think Altherr will need to do a little bit of everything to make the majors but one tool could develop above the others.

  10. Altherr could show potential for great defense and I would be happy. Whitey Herzog said third was most important position in the infield. In most players it is the last ceiling to reach.

  11. I’ve been reading this site for about 2 years now, and I’m beginning to think that there’s a whole lot more to scouting and developing than I had once realized 🙂

    Thanks for the look inside this whole thing, PP. I’ve been a fan ever since I discovered it.

      1. Interesting to see Savery is on the list. I guess they want to see what they’ve got in him as a hitter.

    1. I’m not sure if this is accurate. The Phillies site has a list of its NRI and there’s no Gillies, Aumont, or Savery there. Stories from earlier in the winter indicated that after a year where Ramirez was the only guy from the Lee trade not in camp, he’d be the only one in camp this year. And there’s no way the Joe Savery hitting experiment is going to start in big league camp. Will be happy to admit if I’m wrong, but this doesn’t seem correct.

        1. My god–it was disinformation! One wonders what kind of demented mind spends his time concocting fake lists of Phillies non-roster invites.

  12. While I agree that Altherr is a top prospect, I have him at #12, I’m worried whether his skill set will play at 3B where power is usually required. I have the same concern about Dugan at 1B. The glut of outfielders is being felt. ST should be fun to see if any of them separate themselves from the pack.
    Btw, the Phils just signed Cory Sullivan. Sullivan may get a chance to compete with Mayberry and Martinez to be the back up CF. One of them has to win a spot because someone has to back up CF.

      1. Mayberry can too and he’d be the first OF called up as he can play all 3 spots at least decently as a fill-in.

  13. We’ll se how much power increase Altherr will show in ST and the season in light of the indication he gained 20 lbs plus greater muscular frame from his over-the-winter efforts.

    He is still only one full season into pro ball. He will be one of the most interesting players to watch closely in ’11. Supposedly a superior athlete which doesn’t hurt.

    1. If any player puts on 20 pounds of muscle in three of four months, it’s time for “Mitchell Report: The Sequel.” That is just not humanly possible.

      1. He probably added 20 lbs…combination of hitting, diet, and just natural for his age. Yeah 20 lbs pounds of muscle alone is too much.

        1. It’s spring training. If I had a nickel for every “best shape in his life” or “added 10-20 pounds of muscle” story, I wouldn’t have to go to work anymore.

    1. Well Brown and Singleton are ranked higher. If you mean pitchers, no. Drabek has already reached the majors at the age of 22. He only spent most of the year at AA because the Jays are stuck in an awful AAA situation in Las Vegas. Cosart has higher upside, but he’s had injury problems. Colvin’s ceiling is often said a #2, where Drabek is now.

        1. Not yet, but he’s not far off. Looking at some projections, various systems have his ERA anywhere from 3.62 to 4.04. I’d bet on somewhere around 4.25 myself. But you’ve got a 23 year old kid who is going to break camp with the big club in April. I’d take that over any of our individual pitching prospects given the choice.

          1. Look at who he is breaking camp with. I mean, you are making such a blanket assumption about him, that because he is being brought up now he must be good enough to be brought up in that spot on any team. And while the Phillies pitching staff is an anomaly, I think it’s safe to say Kyle Drabek is not a #2 on a contending team.

            1. Alan, I think Drabek would be seen as the #4 with NY. Burnett stunk last year but he still has a decent major league track record. Let’s not get carried away with Drabek yet but it seems to me that he does still have pretty nice upside.

            2. The Yankees? The Yankees with rotation issues? Just because they’re “The Yankees” doesn’t mean they suddenly have the perfect everything. Their rotation is suspect. Even if you think he’d be #3 on the Yankees, that doesn’t mean anything. Pick a team without pitching depth and try again.

            3. At best , Drabek would be a #4 on a contending team. He’ll break camp with the Jays this year and be in that range for them.

              Carrasco could and will be a #3 this year as he’s a bit more polished at the moment. Carrasco probably peaks as a middle of the rotation guy while Drabek peaks as a solid #2 with maybe a peak year as a #1 where everything goes right.

              Both were solid prospects that we gave up in very good deals for all the teams involved.

            4. You mean WITH rotation depth? The point is that Drabek is good enough to pitch in most MLB rotations right now.

              What is it about Drabek that you don’t like? I don’t see how you can credibly say he’s not as good a prospect as Brody Colvin.

            5. There’s nothing wrong with Drabek at all. Saying he’d be a #4 this year is pretty high praise all things considered.

              As it is, I think he’s a better prospect than Colvin is right now by a huge margin obviously. Colvin is all potential while Drabek is MLB ready.

  14. Worth mentioning
    In November, the Phillies added five minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster, thus protecting them from being snatched by another club in the Rule 5 draft. The players included pitcher De Fratus, first baseman Matt Rizzotti, and infielders Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Harold Garcia.

    Four of those players have something in common: They were signed by Phils’ scout Sal Agostinelli. Agostinelli had known Rizzotti for years on Long Island. He followed his progress at Manhattan College and pushed for him in the draft. In his day job, Agostinelli oversees international scouting for the Phils. Galvis, Hernandez and Garcia were all signed out of Latin America, Agostinelli’s prime focus area.

    In recent years, Agostinelli signings such as Carlos Carrasco (to the Indians for Lee) and Jonathan Villar (to the Astros for Oswalt) were used to acquire big talent that helped win division titles. Villar has been rated as the Astros’ second-best prospect by Baseball America.

    That’s not a bad haul considering numerous baseball sources have said the Phillies’ budget for Latin American signings ranks in the bottom third in the majors.

    Years ago, Agostinelli looked at a rugged second baseman in Panama and said, “Let’s make him a catcher.” He signed the kid for $8,000 and now Carlos Ruiz is one of the Phillies’ most indispensable players.

    So, as Galvis, Hernandez, Garcia and Rizzotti enter a spring-training clubhouse that already includes Ruiz, it’s a good time for a tip of the cap to Agostinelli, one of the many behind-the-scenes people who have helped in the club’s rise to elite status.

    From Jim Salisbury

    1. Another reference to Cosart’s off-field problems and makeup. It’s very odd that I can’t find a single documented case of him being problematic, but it seems to come up over and over again.

      1. I do wonder if this is another example of “Sebastian Valle’s defense is questionable and he might have to be moved to third base.”

    2. I don’t know anything about the staff at Missouri but if they are of the usual
      college mindset. Then Jarred Cosart did the right thing in signing with the Phils who nursed his injuries. Most college coaches would of just pitched his arm off.

      1. I actually live in Columbia MO, where Missouri U is located. They actually arent too bad about overworking the pitchers from what I have seen. They have produced a few guys like Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow and are a pretty respectable program.

  15. Altherr @ 6’5″ is interesting to consider at 3rd. I was trying to come up with really tall third basemen and did not do great. Ripkin is 6’4″, Arod is 6’3″ and MJS is 6’2″. In my book, when you get to 6’4″, with the right body type (proportional) you start to be a sizable person. At 190 he is string bean like, but if he can play solid third base while staying on his current path, he will have a home in the majors. I am looking forward to keeping an eye on this move.

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