Thursday, December 8, 2016

Season 36 High School Draft Review for Round 1

Friends, I have compiled the list from the High School players that were drafted in the first round.  Didn't have time to go over the later supplemental picks.  I used my notes from preparing for the draft.  Please feel free to argue or agree in the comments section.

#2 Overall - Tanner Rogers - RF - Florida Marlins

Man, did I want this stud.  In my draft notes all I had written was "Hall of Famer".  He was #1 on my board.  97 power, Splits are 83,76 and an eye of 98 make this guy the #1 overall pick in my book.  His 99 health is a bonus as well.  cyber must be ecstatic getting this guy.  By the way cyber, next year we can work out a trade???? LOL   MLB Projection:  Hitting 3rd in order for many, many years.  Will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

#3 Overall - Shane Service - LF - Texas Rangers

With the #3 overall I was praying Rogers would last to me, but I have a pretty good consolation prize.  LF Service is a great get for the Texas Rangers.  With contact at 100, power at 77, with splits of 72, eye at 98 he should be great leadoff hitter with his 98 speed and 79 baserunning.  Only knock on Service is his 65 health.  But I learned from watching the success of the White Sox, it is worth a game.  MLB Projection:  Hitting leadoff or 2nd for many years and making the All-Star Team when healthy.

#7 Overall - Ken Ward - CF-2B - Nashville Sounds

With the #7 overall Nashville grabs Ken Ward.  Ward looks to be a good defensive CF and has decent contact and power, but his 43 split against right handed pitching has to be worrysome for fallball.  Looks to be a decent on base guy, but his 65 health is worrysome as well.  I am thinking Nashville wanted one of the other guys to drop.  MLB Projection:  At worse, a platoon CF against LH pitching.  At best, a starter with a good on base percentage while providing great CF defense.  Probably a #8 or #9 hitter.

#9 Overall - Addison Unamuno - SP - Seattle Mariners

As of the printing of this article, Unamuno has yet to be signed.  Could crabman hope for him not to sign to get a better pick next season?  After looking heavily into this pitcher, there is a much to like about him,  He hits the 70s in all the major attributes of a pitcher.  This was the best rated pitcher on my board so I assume crabman hopes to get him signed.  MLB Projection:  Good #2 starter in the pitcher friendly confines of Safeco.  I see 2-3 All Star appearances for him.

#11 Overall - Pepe Lopez - 2B - Oakland Athletics

Lopez stands out at me because when the original rankings came out he was ahead of Rogers and Service.  Lopez is the type of player you would want starting the middle of the round.  As of this publishing he has yet to sign because evidently he loves hockey.  The Athletics have enlisted the help of the San Jose Sharks and their willingness to give season tickets as part of the package to sign Lopez.  Great power with good defense, eye, health, and durability make this a safe pick for billhowell.  MLB Projection:  2B starter for the A's while hitting 6th or 7th in the order.

#12 Overall - J.P. Hernandez - SP - Philadelphia Phillies

The upcoming Phillies want to add to their rotation in a few years with Hernandez.  Sporting incredible stamina and control that goes along with his sinker, Hernandez looks to make up for the lower splits (70,71).  Durability is also a question for Hernandez.  MLB Projection:  4th or 5th Starter.  May need an occasional skip start due to durability.

#14 Overall - Rich Koehlert - LF - San Francisco Giants

The Giants pick up a LF with a rare combination of baserunning and speed.  His power should maximum out at 60.  Typically your LF hits for a bit more power but the Giants hope they have power bats through the rest of the lineup.  MLB Projection:  Can hit 1st or 2nd in order, or down at the bottom.  Should be a .275 hitter with 15-17 HR.

#16 Overall - Wally Gordon - SP - Toronto Blue Jays

This may be one of my favorite picks in the draft.  I think coltonrocks got excellent value here at #16.  With 89 control, great splits (76L,82R) and an extreme groundball pitcher I think the Blue Jays are thrilled with this selection.  If his durability gets higher than projected, Gordon should be an all star.  MLB Projection:  Possible All-Star.  A definite #2 in the rotation.

#17 Overall - Chris Goldberg - LF - Oakland Athletics

Oakland picks yet again in the middle of the 1st round.  They nab a LF with great contact (92) and is good against RH pitching.  He also has great range for the LF position.  MLB Projection:  Possible platoon in LF and always starting against RH pitching.  

#18 Overall - Will Mann - SP - Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore takes a starting pitcher that has many great attriubutes, but some that are scary.  Great stamina, control, and durability hope to make up for the lower splits (69,65).  I have seen many players where the stronger attributes of control, groundball ratio make up for the splits.  MLB Projection:  #4 or #5 starter.

#19 Overall - Hawk Pearson - SP - San Francisco Giants

San Francisco makes another mid round first pick and they went with pitching.  Reminds me of Will Mann who was picked just before The Hawk.  Great control and groundball rate.  Hawk wins the award for best name for a draft pick.  MLB Projection:  #4 or #5 starter.

#20 Overall - John Dickson - SP - San Francisco Giants

Dickson still has yet to sign, but that might be okay with the Giants.  His splits of 53,52 have bust written all over it.  MLB Projection:  #2,3 starter (in AAA).

#21 Overall - Julian Pineda - C - Arizona Diamondbacks

drichter must be living right because God Almighty blessed him with his pick.  I didn't see Pineda making it out of the top 10 but Arizona grabs him at #21.  Love this pick for the Diamondbacks.  Great defense and game calling to go along with 89 contact and 83 power?  Plus a batting eye rating in the upper 70s.  Great pick!  As of this publication still unsigned.  MLB Projection:  Middle of the order catcher with pop.  Can possibly win the Gold Glove.  Reminds me of Jonathan Lucroy of the Texas Rangers.

#22 Overall - Dan Black - RP - Colorado Springs Rockies

Probably the best reliever I had on my board.  When you get in the 20s sometimes the best pick is a RP.  81 splits against RH with good stamina and control.  This ends the streak of 7 high school players taken in a row.  MLB Projection:  Setup A guy that can go multiple innings.

#24 Overall - Daric Cozart - 2B/1B - Washington Nationals

Has great power (87), but everything else is pretty average.  As my wife would say, "Nothing fancy".  MLB Projection:  Utility player unless power is needed in the lineup.

#29 Overall - Enny Torres - SS - Atlanta Braves

Atlanta better be used to drafting late in the first round because their young talent should be great for a long time.  Best SS on my draft board.  Excellent pick.  Has good contact and hits well against RH pitchers with superb defense.  I'll take that at #29.  MLB Projection:  Future starting shortstop.  Will hit way down in lineup, but defense is worth it.

#31 Overall - Gene Clancy - CF/2B - New York Mets

Good pick for so late in the 1st round.  Probably a better 2B than CF because of weak arm.  Good contact.  MLB Projection:  Utility player

#34 Overall - Midre Paredes - RP - Milwaukee Brewers

Overall I think the Brewers had an outstanding draft.  They picked up mostly college players but rounded out their first round with a quality relief arm in Paredes.  Splits are good at 74,75 with 99 control.  Will give up a few home runs though.  MLB Projection:  Setup B, maybe Setup A reliever in the majors.

That's all I have.  Love being in this league with all you guys.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Season 36 NL East Preview

Washington D.C. Nationals
Season 35:  90-72
GM:  chase39

Outlook:  The Nats suffered through some sub-par pitching performances last year (Benavente - 4.19 ERA, Lee - 4.17 ERA, even the 3.63 ERA by Stevenson was uncharacteristically high for him).  So they mostly re-signed their own FA's (Petkovsek), although they did let 1B Tony Diaz leave, and geared up for another run.

D.C. finished a close 2nd (to Montreal) in runs scored last year. The distinguishing feature is a lot of baserunners (league-leading 551 walks - 1B Purcell led with 76).  There's plenty of power, too (218 HR's - 4th), with 6 players hitting 20+ (Petkovsek paced them with 33 HR and 104 RBI).  On top of that, they're a better-than-average running team (139 SB...LF Winston 36 and CF Hughes 35).

The staff is excellent top-to-bottom.  Rotation ace Maicer Comacho had probably his best all-round season last year (22-2, 2.79 in 251 IP).  Benavente, Spruill and Lee are all high-end #2's, and Robinson Velez did a great job as #5 last year.  The pen has 4 absolute lock-down short relievers in Cervantes, Rathjen, Stevenson and Satou.  

The one crack in the armor has been below-average defense (.982 fielding %, 52/54 on good/bad plays), although they've taken some steps to improve it. New SS Rudy Blackley (7 errors in 74 games) will be a big improvement over Odalis Cantu (29 errors). Diaz was a good hitter but a mess at 1B; they didn't improve 1B by moving Purcell there, but the OF defense will be much better with Winston and Petkovsek at the corners.

This year's Nats may be slightly less explosive, but they'll play better defense and the pitching should rebound.  I think they'll top last year's 90 wins easily.

New York Mets
Season 35: 98-64
GM: z0601

Outlook:  The Mets started hot last year and won the Division impressively in GM z0601's first season.  They also made one of the more interesting off-season moves of the year.

Late in free agency, they scooped up the injured and overlooked Deangleo De Aza for 2 years, $1.6MM per.  He'll be available for the last third of this season and the playoffs and all next year for a total of $3.2MM.  Brilliant move.

The Mets also just traded for Milwaukee OF Paulo Telis.  I'm not sure how much action he'll see, but who wouldn't like having a switch-hitter of that cailber on the bench (making $378K at that).

NY's homerun-oriented (221 - 3rd) offense produced 731 runs - 5th in the league.  They expect offense from every position except the Olivo/Kim CF platoon.  RF Jemile Frazier led the team in OPS with .885 (and homeruns with 43), and 5 players topped .800 OPS.  Is it me, or has Cecil Bonilla been a bit of a disappointment with his .878 OPS over 4 seasons? Then again, zbrent and I had the same conversation about Robert Esposito before last season, and he won the NL Triple Crown (I may have just reverse-jinxed the AL East to NY).

The Mets' staff is top-notch, but highly dependent on the Big 3 of Ozuna, Day and Stevenson.  That trio threw 808 of their 1465 innings.  Lefties finally caught up with #4 starter Grant Young last year, pummeling him for an .871 OPS-against.  That won't happen again.  Neither will Ramon Wanatabe's 1.89 ERA - the bullpen is adequate but no the strength of the squad.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Season 35:  90-72, lost to New York in Round 2
GM:  blanch13

Outlook:  The Buccos lost SP Tony Baerga early last year and never quite put it together, although they did slide into the last Wild Card on the last game of the year.

Baerga returns to form Pittsburgh's own Big 3 with Milton Watson and Rolando Roque. #4 Dunham and #5 Brinson posted ERA's of 3.34 and 3.40 - they'll take that all day.  The bullpen, behind Ernesto Johnson (9 wins, 18 saves, 3.37) is good but not D.C.-good.

What might have been had Esposito (.321/52/131) gotten some help.  Expect better seasons from 3B R.A. Hollins, 2B/OF Dayton Asche, LF Brutus Prince and C Diory Esposito.

The Pirates help themselves with the glove - .985 fielding % and 115/24 good/bad plays.  Perennial GG candidate Julio Rojas (SS) leads the D.

Philadelphia Phillies
Season 35:  72-90
GM: tk21775

Outlook:  While their division mates have been battling for (and winning) WS titles, the Phils have been bringing along prospects and staying competitive with older bargain free agents.  That's the theme again this year. 

Dean Whitfield came up last year and looks like he'll bean All-Star CF for years to come.  Karl Floyd arrived as well...don't think he'll have an All-Star bat but the potential's there for multiple Gold Gloves. Same with C Art Scholl, a strong-armed 4th-round DITR from Season 31. 

That's a start...the Phils have 3 top ten draft picks (and 8 #1's overall) working up the minors chain.

Meanwhile, they've assembled a rotation that's at least in the ballpark with their pitching-rich division mates.  With some judicious training and coaching spending, 36 year-olds Alvin Phillips and Robin Buford should still be going strong when all those draft picks arrive.  The bullpen is not the same caliber, but does have some talent in Season 31 supplemental #1 Theo James, 1-year FA signee Jeremi Speaker and Season 28's #1 Ross Rusch.

Philadelphia scored 578 runs last season, and it won't improve drastically this year.  Whitfield will be pretty good, but there's just not enough around him to make a big jump...this year.

Division Outlook
3 different winners the last 3 years...D.C., New York and Pittsburgh are so close it's anybody's guess.  How about a round of "They'll win it if..."

Mets:  They'll win it if they add 2 good bullpen arms (and De Aza's 1)
Nats:  They'll win it if they make one more move to bolster the defense
Pirates: They'll win it if they reshuffle some that young, pretty-good talent into 1 more big bopper at 1B or COF.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Season 36 AL West Preview

Anaheim Angels
Season 35: 70-92,
GM: kennedrj

Outlook:  A rare step backwards last year for the Angels after 17 (you read that right) straight winning seasons.  9-2 start suggests they're back on track...what did they do?

Not much, which means they didn't panic.  Turns out the Halos were victims of a rare rash of bad seasons by almost all their mainstays.

Look, their runs were WAY down last year, to 701 runs from 860 in Season 34 (and 833 in Season 33). That's a monster 18.5% drop from Season 34.  Their best hitter, Enerio Amaro, had a 175-point OPS drop. Dennis Nakajima, 78-point drop.  Lorenzo Saenz, 102-point drop.  Joakim Henriquez (since moved on to the Mets in FA), 91-point drop.  Get it?  Those are some huge downswings.

Pitching...same deal.  Team ERA was up to 4.37 last year from 3.79 in Season 34 and 3.72 in Season 33. Their best pitcher, Luis Osuna, saw his ERA jump nearly 100 points (and innings pitched dive by 70). Al Iglesias' ERA skyrocketed from 3.48 to 4.66.  Erasmo Miranda...3.93 to 4.12. of the unluckiest seasons ever (in terms of everybody having a bad year at the same time. Comeback time this year.

Seattle Mariners
Season 35:  71-91
GM: crabman26

Outlook:  No way to chronicle all crabman's off-season moves, so let's just look at his trades to try to figure out what he's up to:

Hubbard for Olmansky:  Seattle picks up a bit of a rehab project SP for an OF who won't make the Braves' ML roster.  Probably a good risk for Seattle - Hubbard's a flyball pitcher who struggled in Atlanta's neutral park...someplace like Seattle is the best place for him.

Martin & Lopez for Bravo and Crane:  Martin may end up being a Cy Young candidate in Seattle, and (barring injury) will have the longest remaining career of the 4 in this deal.  Bravo's a fascinating character coming off career highs in BA and HR (at age 30)...with his low contact and eye, he was totally misplaced in Seattle.  With declines coming soon in power, range and arm strength, he doesn't have a long career ahead of him, but certainly fits in Houston's "win now" mode.  Crane would be good anywhere...price you pay for a good SP.  I liked this trade for Houston and I like it for the Mariners too.

Grimm for Lee:  I look at Grimm and see the right kind of OF for Seattle - high contact.  Better eye and speed would help but you rarely get everything you want in 1 player.  Lee is probably not quite at the level of Hubbard - and definitely not Martins' - so this one makes sense.

OK, so far we see crabman picking up starting pitching and defense, and swapping out power hitters for the high-contact Grimm.

Odor for Clark:  Not sure I get this one.  OK, Odor is probably at best a backup OF/1B, but why pick up a 30 year-old power hitter with contact and eye ratings exactly the opposite of what you want in Safeco?

Bush for Becker:  Bush might have been a viable #5 starter or LR for Seattle, but no matter; guys like that are pretty easy to come by and Becker is at least a rare lefty-hitting 3B.

Cook and Harville for Castillo:  Once again, the right kind of hitter for Safeco with that extreme batting eye.  Cook and Castillo both could make it to the majors (IF they get closer to their projections than most prospects do).  Reasonable deal for Toronto to make in rebuild, and a good trade for Seattle.

So those trades give us a decent idea of where the Mariners are headed:  contact/batting eye hitters, good defense, and pitching that's able to get away with flyballs.  

Except that the Clark trade tells me I have no idea what I'm talking about, so we'll see as the season progresses.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Season 35: 86-76, lost to Minnesota in Round 1
GM:  drichter

Outlook:  The Division Champs only lost some aging vets in free agency, and picked up 3B Lenny Taylor and RP Dom Humphries, so the prospects for another successful season should be good.  

Arizona features a balanced power attack that plated 831 runs last year (3rd in AL).  By "balanced" I mean no less than 12 players hit double-figure HR's (Luis Mendoza led with 32), and 6 drove in 70 or more (1B Carmen Woods led with 91).  With the FA departure of D.J. Nicholson, it looks like Vince Hawkins will man CF.  I've always thought he could be an MVP contender in his best seasons...maybe playing multiple positions will get him more voter attention (if it doesn't keep him off the ballot altogether).

The Snakes have won the West 2 years straight despite having their pitching staff rank in the lower half of the AL in ERA.  Erv Daley certainly lived up to his potential last year (15-6, 2.68), but Patrick Hunter, despite winning 15 games, continued to disappoint (4.51 ERA) in his 4th full season.  If he ever puts it together (6.75 ERA so far this year, but only 3 starts), Arizona will immediately become the team nobody wants to face in a playoff series.  I also think Martin Clayton will improve in his 2nd full season, and there's no way Midre Espinosa lays another egg like that one (4.70 ERA last year was by far the worst of his career).  They certainly have yet to actually do it, but this is potentially the AL's best rotation.  

Humphries certainly won't hurt the lackluster pen, but this team's fortune will rise or fall with their starting 5.

Oakland Athletics
Season 35: 72-90
GM:  billhowell75

Outlook: Oakland continues it rebuild, letting veterans walk in free agency and filling in with almost-ready prospects.  

1B Stevie Foltynewicz (.274/22/95) and C Tony Chirinos (.282/21/86) remain their top run producers, although 3B Juio Crespo contributed 62 extra basehits last year.  The outfield is not very productive, but Andino (LF) and Torrealba (CF) should both at least draw enough walks to be respectable.  

#1 starter Al Rosado remains a top SP...I'm sure he'll be the ongoing subject of trade rumors, with only his salary delaying potential trades.  The rest of the rotation is pretty solid, and is probably the component most responsible for keeping the A's competitive.  Season 32 #1 pick (#23 overall) Greg Simmons looked pretty good as a rookie; he joins Hector Romero to form the core of their "bullpen of the future".

Divison Outlook:

The Angels will be back, but I think the Diamondbacks have surpassed them.  I like what Seattle did in the off-season, but it's not quite enough to move into the top 2.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Season 36 AL North Preview

Chicago White Sox
Season 35:  106-56, won Division, lost to Minnesota in 2nd Round
GM: pfontaine

Outlook:  6 straight 100-win seasons and a World do they do it?

Always in the top 3 in scoring, mostly by getting on base (league-leading .344 clip last year), but they were also 3rd in Slugging % and steals.  3-time MVP Magglio Rodriguez and CF Elvis Snow pace the on-basers (111 and 76 walks, respectively).  6 hitters routinely top 20 HR's (Shawn Quinn tops with 31)...Snow actually led the team with 116 RBI.

Rather than a dominant ace and a clear #2, the rotation features 5 pretty interchangeable starters (although each can have outstanding seasons, as CY's for Johnson and Ayala demonstrate).  They spread the saves around, although middle relievers Esmil Gonzalez and Kevin Chong get the bulk of them (and the bulk of the innings).

The defense is solid (.985 fielding %, 65/35 on good/bad plays), although considering the quality of the lineup it's outstanding.  Snow, 3B Jake Nelson and 1B Stan Duran annually post double-digit + plays.

Detroit Tigers
Season 35:  95-67, Wild Card, lost to Tampa Bay in Round 1

Outlook:  New owner jsturgis sparked a 15-win improvement and a playoff berth in his first season.

How's the encore looking?

Well, it's a challenging start with Manuel Cano's 100-day elbow.  Pedro Nunez steps into the #1 slot...he certainly brought it last year with a 19-9, 2.55 ERA in 247 innings.  The rest of the staff (with the exceptions of relievers Park and Palmeiro) doesn't look particularly impressive, but it delivers - they tied the Twins' staff for top AL ERA last year (3.45).

You'd expect scoring runs to be tough in Comerica...703 is actually a pretty impressive total.  It's a contact-oriented (.266 BA - 4th) station-to-station attack (14th in both HR's and SB's).  Multi-position guy Sid Swann (.301/14/56) is probably their best all-round hitter, with LF Philip Schultz the top HR threat with 24.

I don't know how many wins their defense gets them, but it's a positive number.  .987 fielding % and an impressive 98/7 +/- split...SS Al Vincente had 19 good plays versus no bad plays.

Minnesota Twins
Season 103-59: Wild Card, advanced to ALCS and lost to Boston
GM:  zbrent716

Outlook:  The Twins play incredible D (World-leading +111 (122/11) on good/bad plays last year), and steal bases at double the rate of their nearest competitor (366, although that's down from their 400+ of the previous 4 seasons), although they seemed to get a little more conventional with their pitching last year by going with a 4-man rotation (and they tied for the league ERA lead with 3.45).

Looks like they've gone back to their Petit/Williams 2-man rotation and 6 innings of matchups with their tough relievers.  

As good as their defense is, it's pretty amazing they get as much production as they do (821 runs - 4th). They mostly do it by getting on base frequently (.334 OBP - 4th), and of course, stealing.  But slugging % is right at the league average - KEY TO THE SEASON:  1B Michael Aoki has OPS'd .900+ the last 2 seasons, and they really need him to come through again.

About that ridiculous +/- split:  22 different players posted good plays for the Twins!

Toronto Blue Jays
Season 35:  76-86
GM:  coltonrocks


Outlook:  Lost in the 3-playoff team performance of the AL North last year was the 21-win improvement of the Jays.  

Repeating that may be tough, as it's virtually an entirely new lineup this season.  Gone are longtime faces of the franchise Jimmie Castillo, Joe Hughes, Bruce Smith.  

Indication of a rebuild (not a bad idea when your 3 division mates could all win 90+ again):  they wisely filled in with older, low-budget free agents like Rodney Simmons ($2.3MM) and Yuuta Abe ($3.5MM) and kept the total payroll under $60MM.

Their best prospects (Richie Clifton, Earl Cook, Matty Spillbourghs, Brett Milton, Perry Sutton) are all in the low minors, so we may see a couple of seasons of this.  Let's hope their pitching staff can repeat their 5th-ranked 4.05 ERA of last year.

Division Outlook

Not sure the Tigers can hang with Cano out for so long.  Logic says the conventionally-dominant White Sox win again, but I'm picking the crazy base-stealing, relief-pitching, defense-playing Twins in an upset.