Why should Massachusetts be the only state with a weird holiday no one has heard of?
Yesterday was Patriot’s Day. Most people outside of Massachusetts don’t know what it is beyond the day the Boston Marathon is run, if they even know that. The best part about Patriot’s Day, if you don’t get the day off like everyone in the state? Early morning baseball. Because 11 am baseball is such a treat, we decided every fanbase deserves a heretofore unknown holiday to take the day off and watch baseball while drinking their mid-morning coffee. —Craig Goldstein
The Situation: Shin-Soo Choo’s hamstring injury has opened the door for Nomar Mazara, the Rangers top prospect, to get his first taste of big-league action. The Rangers have opted for the sweet-swinging lefty, over previous call up Joey Gallo, who they’ve left in Triple-A to get more time at third base.
No, really: Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner are the Mike Trout, the Steph Curry, the Tesla battery of... batteries.
There are a lot of easy storylines when considering the coming season for San Francisco. It’s 2016, which is, by my calculation, an even year, so we could talk about their forthcoming championship season in that light. There’s the departure from previous norms in regards to spending as they’ve rebuilt their rotation from scratch. There’s the incredible amount of homegrown talent they feature, including their new-found ability to channel #CardinalsDevilMagic by churning out above-average bats from seemingly middling (offensive) talent (Crawford, Panik, Duffy). But there are a couple obvious reasons why the Giants are poised to challenge for a fourth championship in seven years, too. In the words of our dearly departed R.J. Anderson “we’ll spend a thousand words on Austin Hedges but can’t do the same for Buster Posey because he’s old.” Let's rectify.
Notes on Cody Ponce, Zach Davies, Jorge Lopez and more.
Cody Ponce, Brewers, RHP
The hulking Ponce—all 6-foot-6, 245 pounds of him—was Milwaukee’s second-round pick in the 2015 Draft. He was a somewhat-late bloomer, growing into more strength and velocity later in his college career at Cal Poly Pomona. He put himself on the map with a strong Cape Cod League showing the summer prior to his draft year, displaying velocity from a physical frame and mixing in a quality cutter. Size, velocity, and the ability to get good action on his cutter are still Ponce’s calling cards—overall, though, Ponce’s control and usage of secondary pitches had improved since my looks at him as an amateur.
Ponce’s delivery seemed stronger through its balance point, leading to a more linear drive down the mound and increased ability to fill the strike zone. In his three innings of work against Team Germany, the fastball worked between 91-94 (sitting 93-94) with natural, heavy burst when angled to the lower third. His primary non-fastball remained a potentially above-average cutter in the high 80s, but it was encouraging to see Ponce trust a more complete arsenal of pitches the second time through the lineup. He showed more feel for a circle-change at 82-85 than in previous viewings; showing turnover action down and to his arm-side. Ponce leaned on his change more to left-handed bats, as you might expenct, consistently avoiding the heart of the plate with it. His breaking ball is a curveball between 77-79 mph. Readers shouldn’t expect the pitch to ever play legitimately above-average, but he showed between 45-grade and average shape on the pitch.
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An update on the BP Prospect Team and our vision going forward.
I’m excited. I’m excited to officially introduce myself to you as Minor League Editor (I’m Craig, by the way, the pleasure is all mine). I’m excited to (re)introduce you to the BP Prospect Team as a whole. And I’m excited to tell you about our plans for covering prospects going forward.
It’s not a secret but a point of pride that there has been a loss of institutional knowledge on our team over the past few seasons. Still, this presents us with challenges, as our coverage has had to adjust to our personnel. We cannot ignore when we lose a staff member, be it Kevin Goldstein or Jason Parks and Cole or Al Skorupa or Ezra Wise and on down the line. Rather, it is our responsibility to reevaluate our strengths and weaknesses, and subsequently develop an approach that works best with our current staff.
We are looking to bulk up our prospect coverage for the 2016 and are looking for reinforcements. Could you be who we are looking for?
Join Baseball Prospectus, be a part of the BP Prospect Team, and work with other members in support of 2016’s minor league coverage. The BP Prospect Team is looking for motivated individuals across the country who are capable of getting to ballparks in support of video and scouting projects. Successful candidates will demonstrate the ability to work within a team structure while also tackling independent assignments and, most importantly, being eager to learn. The successful candidates will also be ready to spend the season in the field, with an eye toward contributing to overarching reports and prospect vehicles.
In the wake of the Fowler spinaround, a look at the deleterious effects and simplest solutions to our collective qualifying offer problem.
Let’s start with the notion that it’d probably be for the best if free agent compensation, and for that matter, the draft itself, were eliminated entirely. Let’s then accept the notion that the latter might not ever happen, and the former is at minimum a major bargaining chip in any CBA talks.
What seems likely to happen, if anything, is some modification to the existing system of compensation for signing and/or losing free agents, because the current system isn’t tenable. On the one hand, it’s working in ownership’s favor on the whole: Suppressing salaries is the name of the game when it comes to free agent compensation, and we’ve seen Howie Kendrick and Dexter Fowler settle for below-market deals to return to the team that wouldn’t lose a draft pick by signing them. While someone gets left out in the cold every year, we’ve seen Diamondbacks’ GM Dave Stewart admit that the Diamondbacks were reluctant to give up their second pick (37th overall at the time), even if they were getting a major-league upgrade in the process. This process seemed to repeat itself in Baltimore with Fowler.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that clubs are less likely to punt on a given draft by signing multiple QO’d players and absorbing the losses of several rounds of picks than to space out those losses over several years, deciding when and where to lose a first-round pick. It appears, based on their actions and words, that clubs are intensely valuing not just the picks that they speak of but, more accurately, the slot money associated with those picks.