Category Archives: Other Stuff

Around the System–Starting Pitching

Lehigh Valley

Mark Appel, 25, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 8 starts, 2-2 with a 6.69ERA; 37.2IP 44H 19BB 26K; 8HR allowed; .291 opp avg; 1.67WHIP; 4.6BB/6.2K per 9; .338 vs LHH, .253 vs RHH, .284 opp avg in May; Among the league leaders in homers allowed and walks tells the story for Appel.  It has been an ugly season coming off his 2016 injury. Gave up 7ER in 3.1IP in his last start.

Tom Eshelman, 22, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 8 starts between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 5-0 with a 2.08ERA; 52IP 42H 8BB 34K; .225 opp avg; 0.96 WHIP; 1.4BB/5.9K per 9; Has had quality starts in all 3 LV starts, going 3-0 with a 0.78ERA; .183 opp avg.  Eshelman has been outstanding all season, actually throwing better after his call up to AAA.

Ben Lively, 25, Acquired from Cinncinnati in 2014; 8 starts, 5-1 with a 2.79ERA; 48.1IP 41H 5BB 38K; 1HR allowed; .225 opp avg; 0.95WHIP; 0.9BB/7.2K per 9; .321 vs LHH, .154 vs RHH; I simply dont know what Lively has to do to get a major league start.  In 27 AAA starts spanning two seasons, he is 16-6 with an ERA of 2.97.  Lively to the Phils rotation, Velasquez to the Phils bullpen and Leiter or Garcia to the ‘Pigs is what should happen.

Ricardo Pinto, 23, SIgned as a free agent in 2011; 8 starts with a 5.85ERA; 40IP 51H 16BB 25K; .311 opp avg; 1.68 WHIP; 3.6BB/5.6K per 9; .306 vs LHH, .315 vs RHH, .393 opp avg in May; After a good first three starts, Pinto has been awful since.  Very hittable, too many walks and too few strikeouts.

Nick Pivetta, 24, Acquired from Washington in 2015; 3 starts, 3-0 with a 0.95ERA; 19IP 12H 2BB 24K; .174 opp avg; 0.74 WHIP; 0.9BB/11.4K per 9; Pivetta was outstanding in APril and got the call to Philly to replace Aaron Nola in the Phils rotation.  For Philadelphia, Pivetta was inconsistent in his 4 starts, going 0-2 with a 5.12ERA. He walked too many hitters and the opposition hit him at a .325 clip in the majors. With Nola’s return, Pivetta rejoins the ‘Pigs for some refinement.

Jake Thompson, 23, Acquired from Texas in 2015; 7 starts, 2-3 with a 4.91ERA; 33IP 32H 14BB 32K; .260 opp avg; 1.39WHIP; 3.8BB/8.7K per 9; .218 vs LHH, .294 vs RHH, .229 in May; Thompson has overcome just an awful start to throw well in  his last several starts.  Since allowing 15ER in his first two starts, spanning 4.2 innings, he has allowed just 3 ER in his next 4 starts, spanning 28.1IP.

Reading

Drew Anderson, 23, Phils 21st round pick in 2012; 8 starts; 3-1 with a 5.26ERA; 37.2IP 36H 9BB 32K; .250 opp avg; 1.19WHIP; .265 vs LHH, .237 vs RHH, .190 opp avg in May; 2.2BB/7.6K per 9; Anderson’s “stuff” is as good as any Phils starting pitcher at times, however he has been extremely inconsistent this season. Continue reading Around the System–Starting Pitching

2017 Draft Discussion: Week of May 23rd

I have no updates of individual prospects, because I received another interesting submission from John Yarusinsky.  It is a mock draft that he did, and represents a lot of work.  I appreciate this very interesting commentary and hope you enjoy it.

Thank you, John.

2017 MLB Mock Draft: Version 1.0
By John Yarusinsky
Intro

It’s Monday, May 15, 2017 and we are less than one month away from the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft that takes place on Monday, June 12, 2017. Given this amazing reality, I give to you my first ever attempt at creating a mock draft. One thing needs to be noted before I continue: 99.9 percent of the time, teams are going to select the best player available. In creating this mock draft; however, I took a plethora of things into consideration. First off, is there an organizational need? Are teams going to pass on a highly touted, but “raw” high school outfield prospect; who might reach the big leagues in five years and instead, select a college pitcher that will be major league ready in two years? Secondly, are signability concerns going to scare teams away? In past drafts, high school prodigies have strongly voiced their decision to attend college, instead of signing with respective clubs. Thirdly, MLB teams that exceed their bonus pools through the first ten rounds will face stiff financial penalties. Time is money and there’s no doubt it gravely affects how teams value a player’s worth. Lastly, where do the players reside? California and Georgia are hotbeds for prospects, whereas, Idaho; not so much. Putting up big numbers in the latter might not be that impressive to evaluators.

So with all of that in mind, let’s discuss the focus of this mock draft. Put simply, I attempt to predict the first 30 picks in round one, given all of the intricacies as described above. For each team I will list the recommended slot value for that given pick, as well as bonus pool money to spend through the first ten rounds. I will also provide a brief explanation of why this team SHOULD select this player over others. Creating this mock draft has been challenging; yet gratifying and I hope it will be informative for everyone who happens to come across it. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to email me ayarusinskyj@gmail.com.  With that, let’s dive in!

Mock Draft
1. Minnesota Twins

Slot value: $7,770,700
Bonus pool: $14,156,800
Pick: Brendan McKay LHP/1B (University of Louisville)

Analysis: Evaluators alike champion high school prodigy Hunter Greene as the best two-way prospect in the country, but all McKay has done is excell at Louisville. McKay in 11 starts on the mound has pitched to a 1.92 ERA in 75.0 innings pitched while striking out 103 batters. In 47 games overall, McKay is hitting .389 including 15 home runs. He’s only struck out 22 times in 201 plate appearances. McKay is going to get a lot of money, but the Twins could sign him for under slot to save money in the later rounds. McKay is the best player available.

2. Cincinnati Reds
Slot value: $7,193,200
Bonus pool: $13,658,400
Pick: Hunter Greene RHP/SS (Notre Dame HS, CA)

Analysis: Greene is the next best available, regardless of organizational need. Recently, Greene stopped pitching in order to save his electric arm. He’s going to be drafted as a pitcher, though. His fastball has been clocked between 97-101 MPH and he’s hit 102 periodically. Greene has a college commitment to UCLA and there’s a good chance he receives slot money. His future is on the mound and lord knows the Twins need pitching which is why he could go number one overall; however, the Reds can certainly benefit from his services if McKay is off the board.

3. San Diego Padres
Slot value: $6,668,100
Bonus pool: $11,839,000
Pick: MacKenzie Gore, LHP (Whiteville HS, NC)

Analysis: Last season as a junior, Gore went 12-1 with a 0.08 ERA in 83.1 innings while fanning an astonishing 174 batters. He’s having another incredible season as expected as Whiteville is heading to another state playoff run. Although Gore has an unorthodox leg lick, he repeats his delivery with ease. Gore throws four pitches and although his secondary stuff is considered raw, he reminds a lot of evaluators of Braves pitching prospect Kolby Allard. The Padres have six pitching prospects in their top 10 and Gore could very well be the 7th. He has a strong commitment to attend East Carolina, so the Padres will most likely pay top dollar.

4. Tampa Bay Rays
Slot value: $6,153,600
Bonus pool: $12,528,100
Pick: Royce Lewis, SS/OF (JSerra Catholic HS, CA)

Analysis: The UC Irvine commit should be the next one off the board. Lewis has played the majority of time at shortstop; however, he has the agility and speed to become a center fielder. His hitting approach is considered unorthodox, but Lewis shows excellent follow through which translates to extra base hits. The Rays have whiffed on plenty of first round picks in recent drafts, so Lewis’ versatility gives the Rays options. If the Padres pass on Gore, expect the Rays to snatch him up instead of going with Lewis.

5. Atlanta Braves
Slot value: $5,707,300
Bonus pool: $9,881,200
Pick: Kyle Wright, RHP (Vanderbilt University)

Analysis: In the past two drafts, the Braves have drafted high school pitchers Ian Anderson and Kolby Allard. There’s no such thing as enough pitching, especially for the Braves who are in the middle of a rebuild. Wright is having a fine season at Vanderbilt, albeit for a few hiccups here and there; however, he’s averaging more than a K per inning. He would be a cost effective sign and can help the Braves as a middle of the rotation option in two years or less. There’s also some potential ceiling for Wright and that’s right up the Braves’ alley.

6. Oakland Athletics
Slot value: $5,303,000
Bonus pool: $11,407,500
Pick: Pavin Smith, 1B (University of Virginia)

Analysis: Next to McKay, scouts herald Smith as the next best college bat available. Although Smith is limited to first base, he provides enough offensive pop to make up for it. Smith is someone who makes contact consistently and in an expansive park like the Coliseum, Smith’s overall game would play nicely. The A’s also could use a first baseman down the road and since he’s a college junior, it would be cost effective as it would most likely be an under slot sign.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks
Slot value: $5,016,300
Bonus pool: $9,905,100
Pick: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP (North Carolina)

Analysis: The D’Backs need some serious help. After trading away Dansby Swanson and Touki Toussaint, the farm system looks famished. Things aren’t so great at the big league club, either. In 11 starts with the Tar Heels this season, Bukauskas is 8-0 with a 1.51 ERA in 71.2 innings. He’s fanned 96 hitters, good for a 12.06 K per 9 ratio. Scouts know that Bukauskas has the potential to be great; however, will he remain a starter long term? The jury is still out as Bukauskas throws two plus pitches, but his changeup isn’t a finished product. If he fails to throw it consistently, we’re looking at a future reliever long term. The D’Backs could opt for Florida’s Alex Faedo instead.

8. Philadelphia Phillies
Slot value: $4,780,400
Bonus pool: $8,729,100
Pick: Austin Beck, OF (N. Davidson HS, NC)

Analysis: If Beck is still on the board at 8th overall, the Phillies should be all over him. Beck tore his ACL in May of 2016; however, he’s led N. Davidson to another state title run. Some scouts have compared him to Wil Myers and even Mike Trout. It’s unlikely Beck will ever reach the Trout ceiling; however, the potential for five tools is definitely there. He’s committed to UNC, so the Phillies will have to come strong.

9. Milwaukee Brewers
Slot value: $4,570,000
Bonus pool: $10,447,000
Pick: Alex Faedo, RHP (Florida)

Analysis: The Brewers have one of the best farm systems in the business. They are still in rebuilding mode and need near big league ready talent. Faedo is that guy. His fastball sits in the mid 90’s and has a sweeping breaking ball that’s unfair against left handed hitters. He did have minor knee surgery in the past; however, he’s shown no signs of rust. I even see a bit of Max Scherzer in his delivery. His ceiling is a 2-3 in the bigs when all said and done.

10. Los Angeles Angels
Slot value: $4,376,800
Bonus pool: $8,212,800
Pick: Adam Haseley, OF (University of Virginia)

Analysis: The Angels have the worst farm system running. They are playing near .500 baseball for now, but some help is needed. Haseley has skyrocketed through the prospect rankings this season. He’s hitting .399 in 46 games and he’s walked 32 times. The impressive part? He’s only whiffed in 17 trips to the plate and in two seasons he only hit 7 home runs. He currently has 12 long balls. Haseley has the ability to play at any spot in the outfield which gives the Angels options. GM Billy Eppler loves him some toolsy players.

11. Chicago White Sox
Slot value: $4,199,200
Bonus pool: $7,921,400
Pick: Jordon Adell, OF (Ballard HS, KY)

Analysis: White Sox GM Kenny Williams selected toolsy high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins in the 2012 draft. It hasn’t worked as planned, but don’t let that fool you. Adell has been compared to Twins’ outfielder Byron Buxton for his overall athleticism and power potential. This season, Adell slugged three home runs in one game. He does have a commitment to attend the University of Louisville, but that shouldn’t matter too much. The White Sox have plenty of pitching for the time being and due to the lack of top outfield talent in their system, Adell would fit nicely.

12. Pittsburgh Pirates
Slot value: $4,032,000
Bonus pool: $10,135,900
Pick: Nick Pratto, 1B (Huntington Beach HS, CA)

Analysis: Pratto is among the best high school bats in America. He has a free and easy swing which allows for a direct swing path to the baseball. Scouts believe he can move to a corner outfield spot down the road. Pratto has dabbled with pitching, although his bat is his calling card. Pratto hits absolute ropes that can translate to more homers down the road. In the first round of the previous four drafts, the Pirates have selected a position player. Expect that trend to continue with Pratto. They have the money to get a deal done and he can be a nice project in the making.

13. Miami Marlins
Slot value: $3,875,800
Bonus pool: $9,375,500
Pick: Jake Burger, 3B (Missouri State)

Analysis: Did Derek Jeter buy the Marlins? Okay…who knows. What we do know is that Burger can rake. In 47 games, the hulky third baseman has 19 home runs and has only struck out 27 times in 232 plate appearances. Burger hit 21 long balls in 56 games last year, so he’s on pace to break his career high. Burger isn’t confused for an athletic specimen, but he can play the position well. Rumor has it that he will move to first, only increasing his versatility. After selecting high school arms in the previous two drafts, the Marlins could use an offensive mastermind like Burger.

14. Kansas City Royals
Slot value: $3,727,600
Bonus pool: $8,076,900
Pick: Shane Baz, RHP (Concordia Lutheran HS, TX)

Analysis: The Royals are going to select a pitcher. The question is, which one? In the first round of previous drafts since 2012, six pitchers have been taken. In the last two drafts, four of those pitchers were high school arms. Expect that trend to continue with Shane Baz. Albeit his bouts of wild control, Baz looks like Jacob deGrom out there and it’s not just his wavy hair. Scouts have also thrown the name Greinke around. His fastball sits in the upper 90’s and he throws four more pitches. The changeup is still lacking and Baz isn’t the biggest kid, but he knows how to pitch. The upside is tremendous. Baz does have a commitment to TCU, so it might be a tough sign for Kansas City.

15. Houston Astros
Slot value: $3,588,200
Bonus pool: $9,039,600
Pick: Sam Carlson, RHP (Burnsville HS, MN)

Analysis: This was by far the most difficult pick for me to predict. I went back and forth for a good hour, deciding on who to go with. In the past five drafts (2012-16), the Astros have selected three position players and three pitchers in the first round. In the last two drafts; however, they’ve selected two high school prep bats (Tucker and Cameron), one college bat (Bregman) and one high school pitcher (Whitley). So, I arrived at Sam Carlson over the likes of high school lefty D.J. Hall and LSU’s. Alex Lange Why? Because Carlson is explosive. His fastball sits in the mid 90’s and he hasn’t reached his ceiling by a long shot. His secondary stuff was good enough to warrant a college commitment to the Florida Gators and when you see how many Florida pitchers have been selected over the years (Puk, Shore, Anderson, Dunning), you know Carlson is legit.

16. New York Yankees
Slot value: $3,458,600
Bonus pool: $6,912,800
Pick: Griffin Canning, RHP (UCLA)

Analysis: Since the 2013 draft, every Yankees first round pick has been from California, whether it’s at the high school or collegiate level. Granted in 2014 the Yankees didn’t have a first round pick, but this fact is indicative on how the Yankees go about their business. The Yankees selected UCLA righty James Kaprielian in 2015 and it’s likely they’ll go the same route and sign Canning. Both pitchers have similar profiles. Advanced changeup, mid 90’s heater and above average breaking ball. Canning, put simply, knows how to pitch. The Yankees will most likely go the collegiate route to save money; however, if some of the better high school arms and bats fall to them, circa Blake Rutherford last year, the Yanks will change strategy in a hurry.

17. Seattle Mariners
Slot value: $3,333,200
Bonus pool: $6,737,300
Pick: Jeren Kendall, OF (Vanderbilt University)

Analysis: Since selecting college left hander Danny Hultzen in 2011, the Mariners have drafted a college player every year except 2014 (Jackson) and 2015 (None). Kendall has been impressive for the Commodores through 48 games. He’s hit 13 home runs which is a career high. The problem with Kendall is that he swings and misses a ton. Scouts have an incredibly difficult time forecasting what kind of a player he will be down the road. Regardless, his athleticism and running ability provides room for growth. If Kendall shortens up his swing and develops better pitch recognition, the Mariners could use a table setter at the top of the lineup.

18. Detroit Tigers
Slot value: $3,214,600
Bonus pool: $6,520,100
Pick: D.L. Hall, LHP (Valdosta HS, GA)

Analysis: In round one the previous two drafts, the Tigers have selected a college bat (Stewart) and two high school pitchers (Burrows and Manning). Hall fits right in with the latter. He’s not the biggest kid in the world; however, Hall has a good feel for pitching. His fastball has excellent movement and his curveball is a tick above average. At times, his delivery looks fluid and other times it’s a struggle. There’s a lot of upside with Hall. He does have a college commitment to Florida State, so it’s something for the Tigers to keep in mind.

19. San Francisco Giants
Slot value: $3,101,700
Bonus pool: $6,363,600
Pick: Keston Hiura, 2B/OF/DH (UC Irvine)

Analysis: The Giants did not have a first round pick in 2016, so they’re out for redemption. In previous drafts, the Giants love their college players. Keston Hiura fits that bill. Hiura is currently hitting .405 with UC Irvine, including 27 extra base hits in 46 games. He has more walks (44) than strikeouts (30). Injuries have limited Hiura to a bona fide DH which has clouded what kind of defensive player he will be in the future. Regardless, he makes solid contact and .405 is nothing to sneeze at. Hiura should sign for slightly under slot.

20. New York Mets
Slot value: $2,994,500
Bonus value: $6,212,500
Pick: Alex Lange, RHP (LSU)

Analysis: After the Matt Harvey squabble, the Mets need help. Other starters have also gone down to injures lately and free agency will be looming over the head of the front office when it comes to their young pitchers. Lange is someone who can answer the bell in a hurry. He has two plus pitches that are major league ready. The problem for Lange is his bouts of wild control. If he can learn to pace himself, we are looking at a mid rotation starter for years to come. The Mets have also taken two college pitchers in the first round of last year’s draft, so Lange could follow suit.

21. Baltimore Orioles
Slot value: $2,892,400
Bonus pool: $6,846,700
Pick: Bubba Thompson, OF (M. Thoolen Catholic HS, AL)

Analysis: After whiffing on Josh Hart in 2013, the Orioles might try their luck with the toolsy Thompson. The Alabama commit is incredibly fast and his defensive capabilities are off the charts. The only question, is can he hit? Thompson makes solid contact at times, but there’s concern for his long swing which can offset power potential. He does have explosive bat speed which can force the Orioles’ hand. Thompson has incredibly high ceiling and although it might cost above slot to get a deal done, we could be looking at the next Adam Jones.

22. Toronto Blue Jays
Slot Value: $2,795,200
Bonus pool: $8,231,000
Pick: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (South Carolina)

Analysis: Schmidt will miss all of this season and part of next season due to the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Before the injury, Schmidt was an easy top 10 pick across draft boards everywhere. In 9 starts with the Game Cocks in 2017, Schmidt was 4-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 60.1 innings while punching out 70 before going down. The Blue Jays have two first round picks in this year’s draft (28th overall as well), so they can afford to take a gamble and sign Schmidt for cheap. When healthy, Schmidt throws three plus pitches. His delivery is easy and repeatable. He’s what they look like. Coming back from Tommy John isn’t a sure thing; however, the Blue Jays have nothing to lose.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers
Slot value: $2,702,700
Bonus pool: $5,794,200
Pick: Blayne Enlow, RHP (St. Amant HS, LA)

Analysis: The Dodgers have selected only two high school pitchers in the first round since 2010 (Lee and Holmes).There’s a good chance that Enlow will be the third. The right hander has excellent movement on his fastball and it sits in the mid 90’s. He has an above average 12-6 curve and although his changeup isn’t a finished product, it’s improved slightly. Enlow has a repeatable delivery and he throws strikes like it’s going out of style. He has an incredibly high ceiling. Enlow is committed to attend LSU, so the Dodgers will pay over slot to sign him.

24. Boston Red Sox
Slot value: $2,614,500
Bonus pool: $5,667,100
Pick: Heliot Ramos, OF (Leadership Christian Academy, P.R.)

Analysis: You have to go all the way back to 2009 in order to see the last Puerto Rican-born draft pick that Boston selected (Fuentes). Boston has a pretty good track record of making the right decision on draft day and they might score big with Ramos. The 17 year old is an imposing figure at 6’1” 188. Ramos is still growing and scouts believe the power potential is there. He has a ton of moving parts to his swing and there’s some doubts on whether or not he will make consistent contact going forward. Ramos has a commitment to attend Florida International and it shouldn’t cost too much over slot to pry him away.

25. Washington Nationals
Slot value: $2,530,400
Bonus pool: $5,503,500
Pick: Luke Heimlich, LHP (Oregon State)

Analysis: If Clarke Schmidt is still available, you might see the Nats pull a Lucas Giolito (2012) and select him. Assuming the Nationals don’t feel like waiting, they need players to help them get to the World Series before Bryce Harper skips town. Enter Heimlich. In 12 starts, the left hander is 7-1 with a 0.71 ERA in 88.1 innings. Opponents are only hitting .162 against him and he’s averaging more than a K per inning. Heimlich has a very low ceiling, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking a polished left hander who can easily become a back-end of the rotation option. Heimlich isn’t flashy by any means, but that’s okay too as he throws three plus pitches. He would also be cost effective.

26. Texas Rangers
Slot value: $2,450,100
Bonus pool: $7,626,600
Pick: Trevor Rogers, LHP (Carlsbad HS, NM)

Analysis: For some reason, Rogers has the Rangers written all over him. He’s a tall; projectable lefty with two near above average pitches. His changeup or lack thereof is still developing and the Rangers are masterminds at developing young arms. The knock against Rogers is that he’s tall and lanky. Some scouts believe this will lead to control issues down the road. Regardless, he has a commitment to attend Texas Tech. With two picks in the first round, the Rangers should be able to get a deal done.

27. Chicago Cubs
Slot value: $2,373,300
Bonus pool: $7,454,900
Pick: Brendon Little, LHP (State College of Florida)

Analysis: Last year the World Series champion Cubbies didn’t have a first round pick. From 2013-15; however, they’ve selected Bryant, Schwarber and Happ. In a draft short on elite college bats, it’s unlikely the Cubs will continue the trend. So, it’s time for Theo Epstein to get creative. This selection will go against the grain. Assuming every pick in this mock draft is off the board, give me Brendon Little. The knock against Little is that he pitches for a junior college. My response, is so what. In 14 games, Little is currently 4-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 79.0 innings pitched. The impressive part, you ask? He’s punched out 124 in those frames. Little possesses a major league ready fastball and slightly above average curve. His changeup is a work in progress, but there’s a lot to like about his mechanics. He’s a project, there’s no doubting that.

28. Toronto Blue Jays
Slot Value: $2,302,900
Bonus pool: $8,231,000
Pick: Brady McConnell, SS (Merritt Island HS, FL)

Analysis: The Blue Jays haven’t selected a shortstop since 2007. That is going to change with McConnell, a Florida commit. Defensively, one can argue that he is the best shortstop in this class. He has instincts that you cannot teach. He has smooth hands and slightly above average range. McConnell is never going to hit for much power, although he has a balanced approach and makes decent contact. There’s room for him to grow into his 6’3” 175 frame. Put simply, McConnell is raw, but he plays the game with passion. It might be a tough sign for Toronto due to his college commitment.

29. Texas Rangers
Slot value: $2,238,900
Bonus pool: $7,626,600
Pick: Evan White, 1B/OF (Kentucky)

Analysis: Plenty of evaluators argue that White is one of the best pure hitters in this draft. The wonky part about White is that he throws lefty, but bats righty. Regardless, White is a base hit machine. His swing doesn’t have many moving parts and his bat to ball instincts are enough to warrant a first round selection. The jury is still out on his overall power potential. In 36 games with the Wild Cats, he is hitting .394. In the field, White is a monster. His speed allows him to cut down on balls in the gap and he has a fairly decent arm. White should sign for under slot and due to his overall baseball instincts, he should move quickly through the system.

30. Chicago Cubs
Slot value: $2,184,300
Bonus pool: $7,454,900
Pick: Brent Rooker, 1B/OF (Mississippi State)

Analysis: If Rooker is still available at 30, the Cubs should be all over him. They might even take him at 27th overall because they would be anxious of him getting away. Rooker can simply rake. He’s currently hitting .404 with 19 long balls and 65 RBI’s in 49 games. There’s not much else to Rooker’s game defensively, but it’s his bat that matters. Rooker has an easy and balanced swing and home runs simply come natural for him. He has excellent bat speed and plate discipline. There’s a lot to like.

Picks 1-30 Summarized:

1. Twins- Brendan McKay LHP/1B (University of Louisville)
2. Reds- Hunter Greene RHP/SS (Notre Dame HS, CA)
3. Padres- MacKenzie Gore, LHP (Whiteville HS, NC)
4. Rays- Royce Lewis, SS/OF (JSerra Catholic HS, CA)
5. Braves- Kyle Wright, RHP (Vanderiblt)
6. A’s- Pavin Smith, 1B (University of Virginia)
7. D’Backs- J.B. Bukauskas, RHP (North Carolina)
8. Phillies- Austin Beck, OF (N. Davidson HS, NC)
9. Brewers- Alex Faedo, RHP (Florida)
10. Angels- Adam Haseley, OF (University of Virginia)
11. White Sox- Jordon Adell, OF (Ballard HS, KY)
12. Pirates- Nick Pratto, 1B/OF (Huntington Beach HS, CA)
13. Marlins- Jake Burger, 3B (Missouri State)
14. Royals- Shane Baz, RHP (Concordia Lutheran HS, TX)
15. Astros- Sam Carlson, RHP (Burnsville HS, MN)
16. Yankees- Griffin Canning, RHP (UCLA)
17. Mariners- Jeren Kendall, OF (Vanderiblt)
18. Tigers- DL Hall, LHP (Valdosta HS, GA)
19. Giants- Keston Hiura, 2B/OF/DH (UC Irvine)
20. Mets- Alex Lange, RHP (LSU)
21. Orioles- Bubba Thompson, OF (M. Thoolen Catholic HS, AL)
22. Blue Jays- Clarke Schmidt, RHP (South Carolina)
23. Dodgers- Blayne Enlow, RHP (St. Amant HS, LA)
24. Red Sox- Heliot Ramos, OF (Leadership Christian Academy, P.R.)
25. Nationals- Luke Heimlich, LHP (Oregon State)
26. Rangers- Trevor Rogers, LHP (Carlsbad HS, NM)
27. Cubs- Brendon Little, LHP (State College of Florida)
28. Blue Jays- Brady McConnell, SS (Merritt Island HS, FL)
29. Rangers- Evan White, 1B/OF (Kentucky)
30. Cubs- Brent Rooker, 1B/OF (Mississippi State)

XST Update: May 20th and 22nd, 2017

I hadn’t been able to make it to the XST games for a while.  But, one of our readers, Mark Wylie, sent me a batch of photos from Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays at the Complex. He provided a bit of a write up and said I could use both/either on the site.  Since I hadn’t been there, I opted to use everything he sent me.   Continue reading XST Update: May 20th and 22nd, 2017

Lehigh Valley Report

The ‘Pigs keep rolling along, completing a very successful 6-1 road trip with a win yesterday over Syracuse, giving Lehigh Valley 15 wins in their last 16 games.  The ‘Pigs , who return home this week for a 7 game home stand, now sit at 29-14 and 4 games ahead of second place Scranton in the Northern Division of the International League.

News and Notes: Lehigh Valley has now won seven consecutive series, tying their franchise record.

–Over the last 16G, the Lehigh Valley bullpen is 8-1 with 11SV to go along with an ERA of 1.15.

–After starting the year strong, P Ricardo Pinto has been really struggling as of late with a 10.78ERA over his last 4 starts.  His ERA is approaching 6 on the season.

–P Cesar Ramos continues to throw well in his role as the long man/spot starter, not having allowed an ER in his last 4 games.

–C Jorge Alfaro is in his first extended his funk of the season, hitting just .125 (4-32) over the last week.

–A nice week for SS JP Crawford, who hit .357 with two game winning hits.  The Mendoza line is quickly approaching (.191).

–After starting the season 5/28, Nick Williams is hitting .277 over the last 33 games with 5HR and 15RBI. Continue reading Lehigh Valley Report

Around the System–Relief Pitchers

Lehigh Valley

Pat Vendittee, 31, Signed as a free agent in 2017; 13 games, 3-0 with an 0.00ERA; 21IP 4H 12BB 21K; .065 opp avg; 0.76 WHIP; 5.1BB/9.0K per 9; .103 vs LHH, .030 vs RHH; .100 opp avg in May; The walk rate is high.  Everything else is off the charts positive.

Pedro Beato, 30, Signed as a free agent in 2016; 17 games, 0-1 with a 1.86ERA; 11SV; 19.1IP 13H 6BB 16K; 2.8BB/7.4K per 9; .200 vs LHP; .194 vs RHP; .107 opp avg in May; Beato has pitched extremely well this season and  currently leads the league in saves.

Casey Fein, 33, Acquired from Seattle in 2017; Has made 2 appearances for Lehigh Valley and has not given up a run in 2.1IP.

Michael Mariot, 28, Re-signed as a free agent in 2016; 12 games, 1-2 with a 5.27ERA; 2SV; 13.2IP 14H 6BB 15K; 4.0BB/9.9K per 9; .269 opp avg; 1.46 WHIP; .353 vs LHH, .229 vs RHH, .261 opp avg in May; After a very good 2016 with Lehigh Valley, Mariot has put up very average numbers through the first 7 weeks of 2017.

Hoby Milner, 26, Phils 7th round pick in 2012; 12G, 0-0 with an 0.00ERA; 15.2IP 9H 2BB 13K; .170 opp avg; 0.70 WHIP; 1.1BB/7.5K per 9; .083 vs LHH, .241 vs RHH; .148 opp avg in May; After getting selected and returned to the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft, Milner has pitched as if he has something to prove and has been lights out this year.

Colton Murray, 27, Phils 13th round pick in 2011; 7G, 1-0 with a 4.09ERA; 11IP 11H 4BB 17K; .256 opp avg; 1.36 WHIP; 3.3BB/13.9K per 9; .263 vs LHH, .250 vs RHH; Murray started the season on the DL and has thrown fairly well absent the frequent home run ball.

Cesar Ramos, 32, Signed as a free agent in 2017; 11G(2 starts); 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA; 24.1IP 15H 5BB 19K; .174 opp avg; 0.82WHIP; 1.8BB/7.0K per 9; .161 vs LHH, .182 vs RHH, .261 opp avg in May; Ramos has been outstanding in the various roles he has been asked to fill this season.

Reading

Austin Davis, 24, Phils 12th round pick in 2014; 12G, 2-0 with a 1.78ERA between CW and Reading; 25.1IP 21H 4BB 34K; .221 opp avg; 0.99WHIP; 1.4BB/12.1K per 9; 2G for Reading and has thrown 3 shutout innings.  Davis was blowing away hitters in High A and was called up to Reading last week.

Joe DeNato, 25, Phils 19th round pick in 2014; 8G, 2-1 with a 1.69ERA; 10.2IP 9H 5BB 10K; .220 opp avg; 1.31 WHIP; 4.2BB/8.4K per 9; .222 vs LHH, .217 vs RHH; DeNato was activated three weeks into the season and has thrown well.

Mario Hollands, 28, Phils 10th round pick in 2010; 9G, 1-0 with a 3.27ERA; 11IP 12H 10BB 9K; .279 opp avg; 2.00 WHIP; 8.2BB/7.4K per 9; .235 vs LHH, .308 vs RHH; Hollands hasn’t been the same since his surgery and is going nowhere quickly walking almost a hitter an inning.

Miguel Nunez, 24, Signed as a free agent in 2009; 13G, 0-2 with a 1.88ERA; 3SV; 14.1IP 6H 12BB 12K; .130 opp avg; 1.26 WHIP; 7.5BB/7.5K per 9; .043 vs LHH, .217 vs RHH; .056 opp avg in May; The Phillies have put a lot of time and energy into Nunez and he is at times unhittable.  Also, at times, he has little idea where the ball is going. Continue reading Around the System–Relief Pitchers

Around the System–Catchers

Lehigh Valley

Jorge ALfaro, 23, Acquired from Texas in 2015; .289/.313/.430 in 128AB; 3HR 19RBI; 1SB; 2%BB/32%K; .321 vs LHP; .267 vs RHP; .232 in May; 28 games caught without an error; 5 passed balls; 6/17 CS (35%); Alfaro started very hot and has cooled down a bit of late.  His defense is showing progress.

Logan Moore, 26, Phils 9th round pick in 2011; .300/.326/.500 in 40AB; 2HR 10RBI; 5%BB/33%K; 11 games caught with 1 error; 0 passed balls; 3/9 CS(33%); Very limited playing time for Moore who has played well when in the lineup.

Reading

Chace Numata, 24, Phils 14th round pick in 2010; .263/.342/.374 in 99AB; 2HR 6RBI; .194 vs LHP; .294 vs RHP; .357 in May; 10%BB/15%K; 26 games caught with 3 errors (.987); 2 passed balls; 9/20 CS(45%); Excellent throwing out would be base stealers and has been handling the bat competently.

Joel Fisher, 24, Phils 23rd round pick in 2014; Hitting .174 in 23AB with 1HR and 2RBI; 8 games caught with 1 error and 1 passed ball; 3/6 CS(50%); So far this season FIsher has the prototypical stats of a minor league back up catcher.

Clearwater

Deivi Gruillon, 21, Signed as a free agent in 2012; .291/.294/.410 in 117AB; 3HR 11RBI; 1%BB/25%K; .300 vs LHP; .287 vs RHP; .319 in May; 29 games caught with 4 errors and 4 passed balls; 10/31 CS (32%); A very good season thus far for Gruillon who is progressing well. Continue reading Around the System–Catchers

2017 Draft Discussion: Week of May 16th

Just four weeks until the the Rule 4 Amateur Draft.  Here is the weekly discussion thread for the draft.  I provided updates for the four college players profiled in last weeks discussion.  It is nearly impossible to get individual stats on the high school players, so I don’t have updates on them.   Continue reading 2017 Draft Discussion: Week of May 16th

Around the System–Corner Infield

A first look at corner infield production.  Next up: Catchers.

Lehigh Valley

Rhys Hoskins, 24, Phils 5th round pick in 2014, .345/.432/.655 in 119AB; 9HR 28RBI; 13%BB/17%K; .262 vs LHP; .390 vs RHP; .357 in May; .333 with RISP; 34 games at 1B with 1 error (.996); Hoskins has probably been the Phils minor league MVP through the first six weeks of the season producing excellent numbers across the board.  BB/K rate is much improved from years past and his defense has looked much better as well.

Taylor Featherston, 27, Re-signed as a free agent in 2017; .306/.375/.403 in 72AB; 0HR 7RBI; 3SB; 10%BB/18%K; .300 vs LHP; .310 vs RHP; 19 games at 3B with 1 error (.972); 2 games at 2B without an error; 2 games at 1B without an error.  Featherston has been a steady piece of a prolific ‘Pigs offense.

Hector Gomez, 29, Signed as a free agent in 2017; .158/.180/.263 in 57AB; 1HR 5RBI; 3%BB/17%K; .143 vs LHP; .167 vs RHP; 19 games at 3B with 3 errors (.933); Very little production for Gomez after a productive 2016 overseas.

Reading

Kyle Martin, 24, Phils 4th round pick in 2015; .139/.246/.317 in 101AB; 5HR 19RBI; 11%BB/37%K; .098 vs LHP; .167 vs RHP; .133 in May; 27 games at 1B with 3 errors (.987). Other than showing power in the few times he has made good contact, the beginning of 2017 has been very poor.

Mitch Walding, 24, Phils 5th round pick in 2011, .144/.291/.322 in 90AB; 4HR 11RBI; 17%BB/34%K; .161 vs LHP; .136 vs RHP; .069 in May; 26 games at 3B with 4 errors (.932); See Martin, Kyle.

Harold Martinez, Phils 2nd round pick in 2011, .286/.388/.429 in 42AB; 1HR 3RBI; Decent out of the gate for Martinez, who is entering his 3rd week on the DL. Continue reading Around the System–Corner Infield

Interview with Cord Sandberg: 2017

I’m going to publish a series of interviews with various players in the Phillies organization.  The interviews were conducted by Steve Potter, an author whose book I plugged last season.

Steve and I were going to enter into a joint venture for a book this season.  The premise was to expand on his previous compilation of the 2016 season, and attempt to provide similar coverage of the 2017 season, interspersed with the personal experiences of a dozen or more players in the organization.

Steve had conducted introductory interviews with most of the players, but some concerns arose and we decided to shelve the project.  But, we still have the interviews.  They provide a different look at the players.  Steve has already posted them on his blog, http://www.facebook.com/Clearwatersprngbaseball/ , so I asked if I could publish them here to share with you.

Spotlight : Cord Sandberg

Cord Sandberg was the Phillies 3rd round draft choice in the June 2013 draft. He was selected out of Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida and was also a highly accomplished quarterback while in high school. Cord had a football scholarship to attend Mississippi State but decided to forgo college and sign with the Phillies.

During his high school football career Cord led his team to a state championship during his junior year and the club was ranked # 1 nationally during his senior season. He chose to play baseball as he also projected to have great success in that sport as well. Sandberg’s initial contract with the Phillies included a clause that will pay for his college education in addition to his signing bonus.

He began his pro baseball career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in the summer of 2013 playing 48 games that summer. The close proximity to home allowed family members to attend many games. In 2014 he went to short season Williamsport. 2015 was his first full season assignment with the Lakewood Blue Claws where he hit .255 with 5 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 499 at bats. In 2016 he was a member of the Clearwater Threshers, however, his season was cut short when he was hit by a pitch in the face in early August. This year he opened the season with Lakewood and has gotten off to a very hot start hitting .367 in his first 49 at bats. He’s still just 22 years old and has plenty of time to climb the baseball ladder. Here’s a question and answer session I did with him recently.

Cord, first off, great start to the season. I watched you in spring training as well and you were hitting the ball well. Were you surprised at being assigned to Lakewood again to start the season?

“I was disappointed to start in Lakewood but at the same time I was understanding of the talent we have in the organization and that guys were where they deserved to be.”

You suffered a scary injury last summer when you were hit by a pitch, any lingering repercussions from that?

“Yes, getting hit in the face was crazy but it happened at the best possible time. I was able to have surgery and recover in time to get my training in to be ready for the season. With my protective flap on my helmet I feel good and am back to feeling normal in the box.”

I read that you had incorporated into your contract funding for college. Have you been able to attend classes at all during the off seasons?

“I haven’t done anything with school yet. Just have to play that year by year depending on where I am in my career.”

In the 2015 winter season you played in Australia, what was that experience like and what did you enjoy most about it?

“Playing in Australia was one of the best times of my life. Getting to play with guys from different walks of life and being able to travel the country while playing a game I love was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed being around a different culture for a few months and hearing the accents. HaHa!”

You are a young man of deep faith, how has that helped you in daily life and also the stress of being a professional ballplayer?

‘My Faith has been and will be the most important thing in my life. Without it I would be lost. The game of baseball has so much failure and can be stressful on guys who play it. To know that the Lord has a plan for my life and that He has me right where He wants me takes all the worry away. On and off the field I’m doing the best I can to glorify him with the talent he has given me.”

I have to ask since you were such an exceptional talent in football and you are just 22 years old, if baseball doesn’t work out will you consider going to college and playing football? At what point would you make that consideration?

“If it’s not in the Lord’s plan for me to be a major leaguer than I would definitely want to play college football. I don’t really have a time table but I’ve always said as long as I think I can be a major leaguer and a team wants me to play for them I’m gonna play baseball. My mindset is that I can still play in the big leagues so I’m playing baseball.”

This year you have gotten off to a good start, is there anything different in your approach, are you more relaxed for some reason?

“My approach this year has been to hit the ball in the air and try and do damage every time I step in the box. I want my barrel to be in the zone as long as it can be.”

Are you a goal oriented person? If so what is your goal for this season?

“My goals this year are like any other year. Make improvements and become a better player. Obviously the main focus is getting better as a hitter and continue to become a better ball player.”

You become Rule 5 eligible this coming off season, do you consider that as a crossroads or milestone marker in your baseball career?

“Like I said before, if I think I can play in the major leagues and a team wants me to play for them I will continue to play baseball regardless of the rule 5.”

You won a minor league gold glove for the 2015 campaign, have you always been an exceptional fielder?

“Yes, I would say defense has always been a great part of my game. The bat isn’t always going to be there so I take pride in being an elite outfielder day in day out.”

Any player you try to emulate?

“Kevin Kiermaier is a guy I like to watch and who I would love to play against some day.”

What should Phillies fans know about you in regards to how you play the game?

“One thing people should know about me is that every time I step on the field I’m playing for an audience of one, that being Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior. Whatever I do in this life on and off the field I’m giving everything I have to be successful and I’m doing it for Him. My dad always told me, don’t be a “what if” guy. In 20 years I don’t want to say what if I would have done this, what if I would have done that. When my career in sports is over whether that’s 2 years or 20 I want to be able to say I gave it everything I had and don’t have any regrets.”

Thanks to Cord for doing the interview with me, I wish him the best of luck and truly hope he gets to the major leagues!

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