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April 29, 2013

The Stash List

Seeing What You Want to See

by Bret Sayre


One of the greatest things about baseball is that it provides a venue in which to be surprised by something new every day. And with that comes responsibility. Today, we live in a baseball age where there is so much information available—whether it’s statistical or visual. And, sure, we’ve gotten smarter about the game as we’ve had more available to us, but it’s on all of us to not let our pre-conceived notions dictate what we see on the field and in the box score.  

On Friday night, fellow BP Fantasy writer Mike Gianella and I attended a game between the Double-A affiliates of the Red Sox and Yankees in Trenton. I made the 75-minute trek down mostly to see two things: Xander Bogaerts hit and Matt Barnes pitch. We had a great time at the game, but as baseball is wont to do, the game showed us something we were not expecting to see. Even an act as simple as watching a minor-league game can end up staring down your expectations like Zack Greinke after hitting Carlos Quentin with a pitch. All you can do as an analyst or a fan is to take a step back and not just blindly charge the mound dripping with pre-conceived notions.

The biggest bummer of the night came right at the start, as we soon realized that Xander Bogaerts was getting the day off. Of course, despite the number-one attraction being a no-show, there was still plenty of exciting talent to see between the pitching matchup of Matt Barnes versus Nik Turley and two exciting Yankee bats in Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott. By the time the game was over, we found ourselves imprinted on not by the players we expected, but by an entirely different group altogether. Three different players treated us to impressive displays of all three aspects of the game—hitting, fielding, and pitching. These didn’t come from non-prospects either, just players who are not as well known among fans and dynasty leaguers.

At the plate: Yankees catcher JR Murphy hasn’t been the most heralded of prospects, and his performance hasn’t particularly warranted it in previous years. However, on Friday night he was the most impressive hitter on the field, making consistent hard contact and barreling two well-hit doubles off of Matt Barnes. He’s off to a fast start this year, hitting .308/.418/.569 with four homers and 12 walks versus 11 strikeouts in 17 games, and that stat line did not surprise me given how comfortable he looked at the plate.

On the field: Because the Portland uniforms look exactly like their major-league counterparts from the back, it was very natural to see a catcher wearing number 33 and looking great doing so. However, this was not Jason Varitek, it was Christian Vazquez, a 22-year old backstop from Puerto Rico. Not only did he throw out both runners who tried to steal against him (Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores), but he nearly caught Jose Pirela off of third on a backpick.

On the mound: I was sure that Matt Barnes was going to be the most impressive pitcher I saw at this game, but he absolutely was not. After five innings, Nik Turley left the game, and to be perfectly honest, I was not paying that much attention to the guy who was replacing him. After a few pitches, he caught my attention with some gas. At that point, I grabbed my program to see who this was—and that’s when I realized it was Jose Ramirez (Jason Parks’ number-three Yankee prospect) making his Double-A debut. He sat 94-95 mph (when I peeked at the scout’s gun in the row in front of us) for the next four innings, as he struck out six without allowing a run. For at least one night, I could certainly see what got Jason all hot and bothered about him.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (04/29)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Stash List: First ... (04/22)
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Fantasy Article The Stash List: Pitche... (05/06)
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