Prospect season rolls on with another fresh batch of “the thinking man’s buzzfeed” pieces that rank and collate and organize players into nice, discreet tiers.
The lists are fun and also informative. From fantasy owners to hardcore baseball nerds to those who know the tender touch of a spouse or partner, it pays to know about the future of the game. As Will Leitch demonstrated at Sports On Earth yesterday, compiling lists like this is an evolution – recent lists seem much stronger than the older iterations.
To hear the like of Keith Law and some of the Baseball Prospectus guys tell it, these lists are all about approximating future production – which players have the best chance of being the best, or most valuable, pros.
Production is measured in many different ways and created by a wide variety of players. It comes in all shapes and forms, something easy to forget when reading scouting reports and pigeonholing young players.
theScore’s Steph Rogers spent a week covering the AFL, talking with many of baseball’s future stars. Check out her talk with Twins starter Alex Meyer – the biggest piece from the Denard Span trade a huge (literally) part of Minnesota’s future rotation plans. Enjoy!
theScore’s Steph Rogers spent a week covering the AFL, talking with many of baseball’s future stars. Check out her talk with Mariners pitcher Brandon Maurer, who raced up Seattle’s depth chart to make 14 starts at the big league level in 2013.
Brandon Maurer is a big presence. At 6-foot-5, he seems far too broad for the small dugout bench at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa. At 22, Maurer had never pitched an inning beyond Double-A when he won a spot in the Seattle Mariners starting rotation out of spring training. Maybe there’s an advantage to filling big shoes early on.
In Jackson with the Generals, the California-native was on cruise control through 2012. He pitched a career-high 137 2/3 innings, struck out 117 and gave up just four home runs en route to a 9-2 record with a 3.20 ERA.
Prospect watchers would know that James Paxton, and even the younger Taijuan Walker were projected to land in Seattle before Maurer, a 23rd round pick by the Mariners in 2008. Instead, the right-hander boasted an 0.90 ERA through his first 20 innings in the spring with 22 strikeouts, and stood beside Felix Hernandez when the Mariners opened at Safeco Field on April, 8, 2013. He’d earned it.
A day later, Maurer was roughed up against new AL West division rivals, the Houston Astros. He’ll talk about that moment of complete loneliness, captured by the Associated Press in a photo. It’s one of the few professional shots in existence from that outing because it was so short.
By his 23rd birthday on July 3, he was settled into the Pacific Coast League with Triple-A Tacoma. He earned a promotion by the last day of the month, easing back into Seattle’s good graces by coming out of the bullpen.
With the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball association finally in place, there is finally a new set of standards in place for passage of top professionals from Japan to the North American game. Rather than a blind bid, the Japanese side sets their “release fee” and any MLB team can meet it. The release fees can reach a maximum of $20 million USD, rather than the escalating blind binds of the previous agreement, resulting in astronomical fees for players like Yu Darvish – for whom Texas bid more than fifty million USD.
Any or all of the 30 MLB teams can the release fee, it is then up to the teams to work out a contract with the player. Only the “winning” team must pay the release fee, provided the player and MLB team are able to agree to terms within 30 days of the posting date. Whew.
No sooner was the ink dry on the fresh agreement before Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Eagles told his team that he’d like to be posted and bring his talents to North America for the 2014 season. No more debate, no more hemming and hawing – Tanaka is coming and the interested teams must prepare their best offer if they hope to land the top Japanese pitcher since Darvish.
Each fall, many of baseball top prospects descend on Arizona for the annual Arizona Fall League. A baseball wonk’s dream, some of the biggest blue chippers in the game compete in an exhibition schedule designed to showcase their talents and get much needed repetitions against top talent.
theScore’s Steph Rogers spent a week covering the AFL, talking with many of baseball’s future stars. Below is her introduction to the AFL experience and an interview with Cubs top pick in the 2013 draft, Kris Bryant. Enjoy!
The Futures game is a tidy little treat snuck into the beginning of the All Star break. Buried on Sunday afternoon when there is still real baseball to talk about, this year’s edition of the Futures Game featured many of the top prospects in the game. Like the actual All Star game, the Futures game is a revolving door of mid-game replacements and starting pitchers airing it out in one inning stints.
The big names are known to baseball wonks and prospect watchers but rarely to many fans get to see these players ply their trade. Outside the odd Spring Training cameo, it rare to catch of glimpse of most minor leaguers, let alone so much of the top baseball talent in the world in the same place at the same time.
When all the minor league talent came together last week, it was Xander Bogaerts who stole the show. The Red Sox shortstop prospect built on his great first half by putting his many skills on display for a national audience. It is becoming very apparent to those who follow other teams in the American League: Xander Bogaerts is about to become a major thorn in your side.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the signing period for international free agents – those players no currently subject to baseball’s amateur draft. Teenagers from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and beyond inked their first professional contracts, quickening the pulse of prospect watchers and interested bystanders alike.
These signings are important – very important. Major League Baseball would be nothing without the very large contingent of international players, the vast majority of which entered the big league pipeline via this exact process. But this remains a process of finding diamonds in the rough – not picking premium clear, conflict-free diamonds out of a fistful of other, less valuable diamonds.