The Outcomes discuss the things they look for when identifying trade targets, and a few players who might be worth acquiring.
This week we bring back one of our recurring segments from previous seasons wherein we discuss players that might make for good trade targets, both coming and going. We also talk about some indicators that might be useful when trying to pick out potential trade targets of your own. As always, we wrap with things we saw, and we get a little bit heavy once again. We hope you’ll join us!
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One look at the uncertainty of your favorite prospect.
Yesterday afternoon a tweet appeared in my mentions, more or less out of the blue, about a particularly impressive crop of former college baseball players in last night’s game between the Lakeland Flying Tigers and the Brevard County Manatees.
That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that most good SEC players will find their way to High-A sooner or later, and the Flying Tigers are the Florida State League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, who have pretty much drafted all my favorite college players over the past few years: In 2014 alone they picked up South Carolina catcher Grayson Greiner and his teammate Joey Pankake, whose three years in Columbia I followed and chronicled obsessively. They added Vanderbilt pitcher Adam Ravenelle and Virginia pitcher Artie Lewicki, both College World Series standouts that year, in the same draft, and a year later picked up Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart and TCU pitcher Tyler Alexander with their first two picks in 2015, then added LSU catcher Kade Scivicque in the fourth.
A second, totally different look at your favorite prospect.
Who was your favorite prospect bust? It’s not a really fun question, kind of the spiritual cousin of “What was your most heartbreaking romantic rejection?” and “What would you say is your greatest personal and professional regret?” But it is a question that I think is more likely to come up than the other two, if only because there are so many prospect busts to choose from and so many prospects tantalizing with what-will-ultimately-become-false promise. So, since we’re all friends here, I’ll ask again: Who’s your favorite prospect bust?
Mine is probably Brody Colvin. I’m a Phillies fan, and the “Baby Aces” period of farm system watching might be too particularized to be a communal memory, but you probably get the gist: There were three or four pitchers on the Phillies’ farm who looked like they might be future aces. As is wont to happen, only one, Jarred Cosart, has made the major leagues in any sustained way, and he’s currently languishing on the Marlins’ Triple-A squad. Colvin was even more disappointing. An overslot signee from the seventh round of the 2009 draft, Colvin never overpowered with strikeouts, but pitched to a 3.39 ERA/3.55 FIP at 20 years old in Single-A in 2010. There was so much to dream on there—maybe he’d put on muscle and velocity! Maybe he’d be the Roy Halladay replacement the team would need! Maybe he’d team up with Cole Hamels and solve mysteries!
Or maybe he’d be out of baseball entirely in 2014. Such are prospects, as we know all too well. I could rattle off 20 prospects, Phillies and non-Phillies alike, who I thought would be surefire major leaguers and got summarily drummed out of the prospect corps, while afterthoughts like Adam Eaton or Khristopher Davis wandered into the major leagues and hit enough to earn a full time job over a number of years. Or while pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber managed to shake their non-prospect status and become truly elite in a way that the Brody Colvins of the world could only dream of.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, though. Prospects are weird. They develop weirdly, their minor-league numbers translate weirdly, and their potential often isn’t valued properly until it’s all but determined. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go on a “prospects are just prospects” rant, like a 2005 screed being eviscerated on Fire Joe Morgan. No, I’m going to be arguing that, figuratively speaking, what we understand as a prospect has never existed. I’m taking my cue here from Jean Baudrillard’s provocatively titled The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. In this book, which encompasses three essays, Baudrillard – famous for his theories of “hyper reality” and “simulacrum” which described the anomie and detachment of postmodern, contemporary culture – is not literally arguing that the Gulf War of 1992 never happened. Rather, he is arguing that the Gulf War as we imagine we experienced it never happened: There was no “war” as we might expect, but a series of shock and awe styled attacks that overwhelmed and destroyed the enemy before war could really happen. That it is considered a war at all, Baudrillard would say, is all thanks to concerted media repackaging after the fact. In that way, glossing the politics here for the sake of brevity and sanity, the Gulf War (Such as We Imagined It) Did Not Take Place.
And in the same way, Your Favorite Prospect Bust Did Not Take Place, and also what’s more, Your Favorite Prospect Success Story also Did Not Take Place.
Brody Colvin, for instance, was not who I imagined he was. He was not some sort of saving grace for a thin-ish Phillies system; there were no “baby aces”; Roy Halladay wasn’t going to be replaced or even going to be pitching past the first month of 2012. Much of what I still understand about Brody Colvin’s life as a prospect is part of this narrative I wrote about him through the lens of my own fandom. In reality, he’s a 25-year-old dude, going on 26, who is on at least his second career, not of his own choice, and probably not because of anything that he or we can pinpoint.
Examining pitchers who've thrived early with good old-fashioned country hardball.
Who doesn’t love a good fastball? We’re still only a handful of starts into the season for starting pitchers, and it’s still pretty early to be looking at some of the performance indicators (DRA, cFIP, etc.) to draw many conclusions. But one thing that’s always worth checking out around this time is pitch movement and effectiveness, as those can clue us in early on what’s driving some of the early performances we’re seeing. Big steps forward with a particular pitch can be an indicator that initial performance is or isn’t likely to be sustainable. So let’s start where everything in pitching starts, and look at some of the best hard stuff we’ve seen in April.
Running down the moves made by the experts in the TGDX dynasty league this week.
Welcome back to TDGX Transactions, our newest weekly series at BP, providing fantasy owners with an inside look at The Dynasty Guru Experts League (TDGX), a 20-team (40-man roster) 5x5 rotisserie dynasty league. It is the literal embodiment of the phrase “deep dynasty.” It’s also populated by some of the most talented fantasy baseball analysts and competitors on the planet. This series, crafted in the style of Mike Gianella’s Expert FAAB Review, will take an in-depth look at each week’s TDGX free agent acquisitions ($100 FAAB budget per team with zero dollar bids allowed) and break down every major trade that occurs during the season.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Harrison Bader
Harrison Bader, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Double-A Springfield): 4-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR.
Bader was the Cardinals third-round selection last year, and many feel he fell to that round because there was no standout tool. The issue with this, for me, is that when you have five average ones, that can be the standout tool, especially when you can play center field. Be it as a fourth outfielder or as a starter in a premium position, Bader is going to bring value. If it’s the latter, he’ll be regarded as a draft steal.