LHP Sean Manaea
Pitcher’s body; 3/4 arm slot; thick lower half but comfortable; athletic; stands tall throughout delivery; crossfire action, foot lands on first base side of home; hips rotate with shoulders and back leg swings through post-release; has good momentum to the plate; keeps good balance throughout even though has back leg swing; longer arm action and arm got offline at times, varying his release point; big deception in delivery; hides ball a long time and gets on hitters fast; varies times to home to hold runners, will mix in high leg kick with slide step; front side and hips opened early, causing arm to drag through and command to get loose; was corrected after mound visit. 1.37-1.66 range. Fastball 89-96; sat 91-93 early on and touched 95, 96 twice; then went 89-90 later; missed bats at any velocity; ball jumps out of his hand with arm-side run; also throws some with sink; was still missing bats at 89; want to see the velocity tick up and sit but huge deception and movement pitch; did not get squared one time all night. Changeup 80-84; parachute action; arm-side fade; plays extremely well off fastball because of arm action; feed it to righties to get swing and misses; tough to pick up because of delivery. Slider 76-81; plus spin and tilt; good bite and late break; will add and subtract to vary break and depth; at lower velocity still had good shape and effectiveness.
2nd viewing: Sat 92-94 early; got comfortable in 89-92 range; touched 95 early; can reach back for more velocity when needed; showed ability to cut the ball at 89-90, effectively used to get inside to righties; broke Hawkins' bat with it (shocking); pitch rarely got squared; double-digit swing and misses with it. Future 70 grade. Changeup 81-84 all game; big deception; same pitch I saw first viewing. Future 60 pitch. Slider 79-84; velocity was up; plus spin and tilt; great shape; good bite and late break; added and subtracted well; varying depth and break; stays effective at lower velocity with bigger break; produces massive numbers of swings and misses. Future 70 pitch.
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These promising minor leaguers saw their stocks tumble in 2013 but have started 2014 on a high note.
This is the time of year when every article begins with the caveat that stats aren’t worth much right now, but, hey, here are some stats. Well, this is like that except it’s fully acknowledging that the stats aren’t worth anything. All they’re here for is to key in on some players who were highly thought of at one point who struggled through a rough 2013 and have come out of the gates quickly. This isn’t to impart meaning to those good starts, but just identify them as prospects to monitor as the season progresses:
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Astros first baseman Jonathan Singleton and Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman.
Hitter of the Night: Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, HR, K.
Apparently the mantle of “best hitter in Oklahoma City” isn’t too much for Singleton to handle now that George Springer is in the big leagues. He won’t be too far behind Springer, though the Astros will probably wait until June to promote him.
Pitcher of the Night: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (Buffalo, AAA): 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Remember when Stroman struggled badly this spring and everyone worried about whether a short pitcher would be able to generate enough downward plane to miss bats? Well, he’s still short. When Stroman keeps the ball down, he’s lights out, thanks to a plus change-up. He can get hurt when he misses up, but who doesn’t?
A return to the Twin Cities seems to have done Kubel a world of good, and injuries to Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia have converted Kubel from a platoon player into a full-timer. The fun isn’t going to last forever, but as long as Kubel is swinging a hot bat he is fine as a mixed league play in the outfield. Your best bet is to try to make sure that the Twins are facing a right-handed heavy group of pitchers before setting your line-up for the week; losing Kubel two or more times a week or having Ron Gardenhire stick Kubel in there against a lefty isn’t the best use of a roster spot in mixed.
Scouts' takes on Bryce Harper, Justin Upton, Courtney Hawkins, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
Johnny Cueto's gem and other action from Wednesday, plus what to watch today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto enjoyed a career year in 2012, when he compiled a 2.78 ERA over 217 innings despite pitching half of his games in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. But the then-26-year-old’s ascent toward stardom was halted by a lat strain that he suffered last April and nursed for a month, only to have it recur twice and limit him to 11 starts.
The Situation: Underperformance in the Astros’ outfield and the passing of enough days to guarantee that coveted seventh year of team control has opened the door for the promotion of the organization’s no. 2 prospect on Jason Parks’ 2014 team rankings and the 20th-ranked prospect overall on Parks’ 2014 Top 101. The powers that be in Houston are ready to show off to the franchise’s patient fan base another young piece of what they hope will become the foundation for future competitive Astros teams.
Background: Springer, a University of Connecticut product, was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2011 draft. Considered perhaps the toolsiest player in an absolutely stacked draft class, Springer was a divisive collegiate player for evaluators due to the nature of his aggressive approach and the amount of swing-and-miss in his game. Even with a troubling start to his junior season, Houston was not dissuaded and jumped on the opportunity to add his potential plus power/speed talent as the cornerstone of their rebuilding process.
Advice to help you avoid being steered off course by April results.
The 2014 season is not even 20 games old, but we are already at the height of confirmation bias season. After spending the offseason (or some portion of the offseason) analyzing players for the upcoming season, and after acting on that research and analysis in offseason trades and in our drafts and auctions, we have a strong desire to see a return on the time and effort invested, to see our decisions pan out.
Obviously, it is too early in the season for there to be much, if any, information to actually confirm or disconfirm our assumptions. There really is no short-term risk in seeking this confirmation bias; rather, the danger lies in how seeking confirming information will impact our future decisions. If we continue to ignore information that disconfirms our beliefs (player A is bad because of X), while seeking out information that confirms our beliefs (player X is good because of Y), we will tend to overvalue our players. The more we overvalue our players, the less we will look for opportunities to improve our team and the greater the chances of us passing up or missing opportunities to improve our team. By knowing how we allow ourselves to fall victim to confirmation bias (traps) and with a few tips on how to fight those instincts (solutions), we can free ourselves, at least a little bit, from the downsides of confirmation bias.
A look at the waiver-wire pickups you might want to consider in deep leagues.
Injuries suck, and baseball has been an especially cruel mistress this season, depriving us of many of the game’s most exciting pitchers and some dynamic hitters, too. There’s been some bad news for just about every deep league owner this season —trust me, I own Mat Latos in two of them—but out of these injuries come opportunities for savvy owners to make some important waiver-wire pickups and trades.
Plus, as much as Jon Stewart feeds off of Fox News, this column needs injuries to remain fresh and topical, so I shall stop biting the hand that feeds.