Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Thomas Szapucki, Josh Bell, Aaron Judge, and Nick Neidert.
Prospect of the Day:
Thomas Szapucki, LHP, New York Mets (Short-Season Kingsport): 6 IP, 2 H, 13 K. So there’s a right way to make your first professional start, and there’s probably a wrong way or 86, and there’s the next-level ballin’ than Szapucki did yesterday. A fifth-round prep arm last June, he dominated in ways Appy League lineups just aren’t accustomed to with a low-90s heater and 11-5 hook. Lauded for his projectability and arm strength heading into the draft, he’ll be a long burn on account of his age and customary mechanical rough edges, but that was one hell of an introduction.
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This is the final installment in a series that has examined the major-league front office. If big-league players are actually just guys in funny pajamas, then the front office workers are just (mostly) guys in funny polo shirts. But who are the people wearing those polo shirts (and how can I become one)? We’ve spent the past few articles looking at that question—in BP style—using a data-driven approach.
Fielder for Kinsler was supposed to be the fix for both teams' surpluses, but the 2016 season has put the clubs' returns in stark relief.
Three offseasons ago—November 20, 2013 to be exact—Detroit and Texas made a rare one-for-one, star-for-star trade between contending teams, with the Tigers sending five-time All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder to the Rangers in exchange for three-time All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler. In addition to the obvious star power involved, this particular trade had some interesting money-related factors and featured the analytical juxtaposition of a traditional slugger with shiny RBI totals and negative defensive value being swapped for an up-the-middle defender with less of a bat and a far more varied all-around game.
Three-and-a-half years later the trade looks like a blowout victory for the Tigers, to the extent that they added one of the best all-around infielders in the league and saddled the Rangers with a bad player on an albatross contract that runs through 2020 at an annual salary of $24 million. All of which is much different than things appeared around this time last year when Fielder, not Kinsler, was chosen for the All-Star team on the strength of his .339/.403/.521 first half that seemed to be proof of a full recovery from the neck surgery that halted his first season in Texas after 42 games.
Fielder’s production fell off in the second half, as he hit .264/.348/.394, and this season he’s been arguably the worst everyday player in baseball. WARP sees him as producing the sixth-worst overall value, with all five of the lower-WARP players—A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Teixeira, Dioner Navarro, Ryan Howard, Chris Coghlan—playing part-time or sitting on the disabled list. Fielder has started 67 of 72 games for the Rangers, hitting .203/.273/.325 with his usual bad defense and poor baserunning, which is how he’s the lone big leaguer with more than 200 plate appearances and a WARP worse than -1.0. Dating back to last year’s All-Star break Fielder has hit a combined .235/.313/.356 in 140 games.
Examining a half-dozen minor leaguers who might be worth grabbing in your leagues.
Three weeks ago I took a look at seven prospects you might want to grab in deep dynasty leagues to either trade or to build around. Time has passed, and now I have six different names for you. You may read more about the premise in the first installment here. Good day.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Yoan Moncada, Charlie Tilson, Tyler Glasnow, and Christin Stewart.
Prospect of the Day: Yoan Moncada, 2B, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland): 3-for-5, 2 R.
As a guy who likes to see prospects challenged, was it frustrating to see Moncada in the Carolina League for 60 days? You betcha. Do the Red Sox give even a smidgen of a hoot about my concerns? They do not. Moncada has been sensational in 2016, and if for some reason you didn’t think 2015 established him as one of the best prospects in baseball, this should do it. I doubt you see him contribute in 2016 unless there’s an injury to a certain scrappy second baseman in Boston, but I don’t doubt that he’s ready to make said contribution.
The Mets face the World Series champs again, but their starter gets knocked out by a line drive in the first. Meanwhile, Belt whiffs against a position player pitching, and an inside-the-parker that technically wasn't.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The very first plate appearance of Tuesday night’s World Series rematch didn’t bode well for the Mets. Whit Merrifield led off with a comebacker to the mound that struck Bartolo Colon’s thumb, and after just four pitches, New York’s starter was out for the night.
Major League Baseball wants more diversity in its 30 front offices, and in the main league office as well. The league has taken steps to address the issue, including hiring former Pittsburgh Pirates Director of Baseball Personnel Tyrone Brooks this winter to be the Senior Director of its Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program.