Because the Astros needed another young star infielder, apparently.
It’s difficult for a former no. 2 overall pick and top-50 prospect to be overshadowed in their own infield while thriving in their first full season as a big leaguer, but such is life playing alongside Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Alex Bregman takes a clear backseat in Houston’s deep, powerful, MLB-best lineup, not only to star infield-mates Altuve and Correa, but also to George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez, and at times Yulieski Gurriel, Carlos Beltran, and Josh Reddick. Bregman has spent much of the year batting seventh or eighth, only recently becoming a semi-regular in the top five spots with Correa on the disabled list.
Yet at age 23, he’s hit .270/.342/.473 with 21 homers and 71 total extra-base hits through his first 162 career games, totaling 4.1 WARP in one complete season’s worth of playing time. How does a player like Bregman make short work of the minors after being a top draft pick and consensus top prospect, and then live up to the considerable hype in the majors, all while flying under the radar? Having the best-hitting teammates in baseball plays a large part, certainly, but his initial struggles upon being called up last season also seemed to take Bregman’s hype off the burner and for whatever reason it’s still cooling.
After years of swinging at everything and frustrating everyone, Rosario may have had an epiphany.
Paul Molitor has always been a believer in Eddie Rosario’s swing. As a roving hitting instructor, Molitor worked with Rosario in the minors as far back as 2010, saying later that the left-handed hitter’s “ability to square up the ball” immediately caught his eye. Molitor replaced Ron Gardenhire as Twins manager in 2015, and during his first spring training at the helm he praised Rosario’s hitting ability on a daily basis. At the time Rosario was 23 years old and coming off a disappointing Double-A season in which he hit just .243/.286/.387 and was suspended 50 games for marijuana use, but Molitor believed.
Early that May the Twins needed outfield reinforcements and at Molitor’s urging they bypassed Aaron Hicks to call up Rosario, who was hitting just .242/.280/.379 with a 17/5 K/BB ratio in 23 games at Triple-A. For all the talk about his upside, Rosario had a sub-.700 OPS above Single-A for his career and it had been around 18 months since he was a productive hitter at any level, but as Molitor explained: “I wanted to give Eddie an opportunity to get up here. I’ve been around him enough to know that for that kid, it’s just been a matter of him learning to apply himself a little bit more consistently, and I think he’s been doing that.”
Thad Levine talked deadline deals, Tinder, analytics, and lots more at Baseball Prospectus Night in Minnesota.
As part of Baseball Prospectus Night at Target Field on August 5, Minnesota Twins general manager Thad Levine joined us for an interview and audience Q&A. The following is a transcript of his interview with me, which has been edited for clarity and brevity, as the entire session lasted more than an hour and was over 10,000 words when transcribed. You can listen to the unedited, hour-plus Levine audio, including the audience Q&A, on the "Gleeman and The Geek" podcast.
They're too good for the minors, but haven't stuck in the majors yet.
We have articles every day analyzing major leaguers and our prospect team does a fantastic job covering actual prospects, but there’s a player type that inevitably falls through the cracks. They’re too old to be considered prospects and have been deemed too flawed to be regulars in the majors, at least right now, but they’re also too good for the minors. Call them Quadruple-A guys or stat-head favorites or any number of other things. You know the type. In decades past BP championed the causes of hitters like Roberto Petagine and Erubiel Durazo, and before that Bill James (but definitely not Frank Costanza) had Ken Phelps.
Every once in awhile I get curious about those guys, if only because someone ought to be checking in on them. In looking over the current candidates I’m not sure that anyone warrants a full-blown “FREE HIM!” campaign like the old days—perhaps teams have just gotten better about giving them opportunities?—but plenty of intriguing names are having big seasons mostly out of sight. Below is my attempt to build the best lineup from Triple-A hitters who are at least 25 years old and have spent most or all of this season in the minors, with a focus on players I think could actually be assets to major-league teams.
On the 20th episode of the DFA podcast, Bryan hosts an all-star collection of BP writers in our first live episode! Listen in as Craig Goldstein, Patrick Dubuque, Jeffrey Paternostro, Emma Baccellieri, Kate Morrison, and Aaron Gleeman all share their thoughts on the major and minor moves as the deadline comes and goes. It's a must-listen!
Every contender needs rotation help and there are plenty of big-name starters potentially available.
If your favorite team is at or above .500, odds are you think they should add starting pitching help before the trade deadline. And they probably agree. As part of the Cubs’ surprisingly difficult fight to rise above .500 and properly defend their title, they kicked off the festivities by acquiring left-hander Jose Quintana (and his team-friendly contract) from the White Sox for a four-prospect package led by Single-A slugger Eloy Jimenez. Which other rotation-boosting arms may be on the move? Here’s my best guess at the top starters who could realistically be available before the trade deadline, and the pros and cons of each.