Examining a handful of players who might pique your interest in deep leagues.
Mookie Betts, OF/2B, Red Sox
For the third time this season, Betts finds himself as a member of the Boston Red Sox. This time, his promotion very well could be permanent, as the 21-year-old has continued to mash at the Triple-A level while his MLB counterpart, Jackie Bradley Jr., ranked as one of the worst hitters in the majors. Bradley should be stuck in Pawtucket until September, and even then, the Sox are unlikely to want to stifle Betts’ development, so it looks like fantasy owners have been gifted an interesting, useful outfielder for the remainder of the season.
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Taijuan Walker nabs the no. 1 spot in the last top 20 of the season.
It’s been another very fun season of writing the Stash List, but all such things must come to an end. This will be the final installment of the 2014 season, so I hope it’s been helpful to you guys, and let’s do it again in 2015, shall we?
The Graduates: Dexter Fowler (2), Mookie Betts (3), Michael Pineda (4), Rafael Montero (6)
Fowler has returned with a vengeance from his intercostal strain, hitting .389/.522/.556 in his first five games back. I like him to close the season strong in an improving offense. The news was relatively sour on Betts until Monday, when Jackie Bradley Jr. was sent back down to Triple-A because his ineptitude at the plate finally overshadowed his delightfulness in the field. Betts should be playing pretty close to every day for the foreseeable future, and should be improved over his first stint, but don’t expect the light bulb to just turn on brightly. Off days for the Yankees have given Pineda some extra rest after his first start back—which was a positive sign—and he won’t toe the rubber for the second time since returning until Wednesday. The upside is still high, especially if you’re chasing strikeouts. Meanwhile, elsewhere in New York City, Montero is trying his hardest to satisfy the Mets faithful who really wanted to see Noah Syndergaard instead. He followed a weak start against the Nationals with a strong one against the Cubs, and fortunately for Montero, the Mets have a reasonably tame schedule the rest of the way.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs shortstop Addison Russell and Astros righty Nick Tropeano.
Hitter of the Night: Addison Russell, SS, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the Cubs, who have more shortstop depth than any organization in recent memory. Starlin Castro’s reemergence has pushed Javier Baez to second base, but Russell could be a more complete (note that choice of words very carefully) player than either of them.
Pitcher of the Night: Nick Tropeano, RHP, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K.
Tropeano has done all he can to prove himself in the minors, which has included showing that he can continue to miss bats at the highest level despite a mediocre fastball. The key to that is a plus changeup, which can be the great equalizer for any pitcher. It’s not a high ceiling, but he’s going to be a major league pitcher, and there’s no reason he can’t stick at the back end of a rotation for a while.
Minor leaguers are barely adults. What are teams doing about that?
Let’s play Family Feud. Name something that you need to be able to do on your own in order to be a functioning adult. I’ll wait while you write a few things down. Here, I’ll even give you a little room
The Perfect Game All-American Classic was fertile ground for watching the next generation of batsmen.
Going to San Diego for the Perfect Game All-American Classic was an experience I will never forget. I got to see the best amateur hitters in the country show off their craft. I saw lots of good things and lots of things I would change if I could. For all the attention these kids are getting, they are just that: kids. I work with athletes like this every day and I know all of these players have swings that are constantly evolving. Keeping that in mind, I won’t nitpick my way through their swings and flaws. Rather, I want to celebrate particular hitters that caught my eye.
The most talked-about hitters in the draft are Daz Cameron and Brendan Rodgers. They put on shows as expected. I knew they would be elite and they did nothing to diminish this standing. Therefore, I want to explore some of the less hyped hitters:
Yesterday's extra-innings fun and today's top-notch pitching matchups.
The Monday Takeaway
Late-inning drama was the theme of Washington’s sweep of Pittsburgh over the weekend, as the National League East leaders took a trio of one-run games, with the final two coming in walk-off fashion. The Nationals made it three in a row Monday night as Adam LaRoche delivered the decisive blow to the Diamondbacks in a contest that saw several late rallies.
Arizona took advantage of an uncharacteristic leadoff walk issued by Jordan Zimmermann in the fifth inning to get on the board first. Mark Trumbo worked a seven-pitch free pass and moved up to second base after a Miguel Montero single. Trumbo would come around to score later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jake Lamb.
A look at the upcoming AL-vs-NL and NL-vs-AL matchups, and how they might affect teams' lineups.
Please note that in the “DH” column, the player listed is the player that has been added or removed from the lineup, not necessarily the player in the DH slot. For example, if the Phillies move Domonic Brown to DH and put Tony Gwynn Jr. in the OF, then I will list Gwynn Jr. in the “DH” column because he is the player who is gaining at-bats.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Brandon Nimmo, Eloy Jimenez, and Raimel Tapia.
Friday, August 15th
Jesmuel Valentin, 2B, Dodgers (Great Lakes, A-): 3-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. Valentin is getting his footing back this season after a struggle last year in his first full season and is holding his own as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League.
The Brewers backstop has emerged as a darkhorse MVP candidate, but his is improvement at the plate sustainable?
Approach at the plate has been on my mind in recent weeks. I’ve been specifically ruminating on the learned aspect of plate discipline; for example, how gifted 20-something hitters who have otherworldly hand-eye coordination can learn to eschew a simple bat-to-ball approach and focus on quality pitches to hit. That is to say, how can hitters develop the inner filter to discern between pitches they can hit and pitches they should hit, or which pitches they can merely hit and which pitches they can drive.
Obviously, such a development would be desirable for any player, and it can happen for many different reasons. Maybe it’s a maturation process. Maybe it’s a new pitching coach who presents the information in a different way. Maybe it’s trial and error. Maybe it’s studying the numbers. But I’ve been more convinced that most big-league hitters are only able to carve out sustained success over multiple seasons if they can adjust and refine their approach at the plate, at least to some degree.
Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league
Chicago White Sox Jake Petricka has been the most reliable and healthy reliever in the White Sox bullpen this year. It’s been a nice surprise, but I’ve never thought of Petricka as a high-leverage reliever. He has a strikeout rate that is approaching acceptable at 18 percent, but generally, if you’re looking at relievers who operate lower in the strikeout rate department, you want a guy who has command. Petricka also loses the zone enough for an 11 percent walk rate. That’s unacceptable considering how many bats he fails to miss. Matt Lindstrom was activated off the disabled list and had a bad outing against Toronto this past Saturday. I believe in Lindstrom more than I do in Petricka as a speculative saves play down the stretch.
San Diego Padres Joaquin Benoit is dealing with a barky shoulder, which is a situation that absolutely deserves monitoring. Benoit is having a tremendous season at 37, as he has a 0.85 WHIP and a 31.1 percent strikeout rate. He is slated to be available on Tuesday, but I think it would be prudent to check up on Kevin Quackenbush and Dale Thayer in the Padres bullpen. Quackenbush is the logical next man up.