It's a rare player indeed who could make the jump Jose Fernandez made. Jason asks front office executives which ones could handle it next year.
While it might seem silly to speculate about possible 2014 assignments, the unexpected promotion of 20-year-old Jose Fernandez to the major leagues took my mind down a curious path. It’s not every day that a prospect ascends to the highest level without first making a stop in the upper minors, especially when the prospect is only two years removed from high school. It has to start with the opportunity, as unexpected injuries and limited options put the Marlins in a personnel quandary, a situation so distressed that a pitcher with only 11 starts at the High-A level was a reasonable choice to secure a spot in the rotation. What I find more interesting is not the decision itself, but the individual characteristics of the pitcher who made such a decision plausible in the first place.
The jump from the High-A level to the Double-A level is considered the second-largest talent jump in the minors, second only to the jump from Triple-A to the majors, and Fernandez is being asked to make both jumps at the same time. This is a monumental challenge that few prospects in the game could manage, both on a physical level (talent) and an emotional level (makeup). Fernandez has both, with room to spare, which isn’t to suggest his refinement level is up to major-league standards or that the decision to promote him so aggressively should be shielded from criticism; rather, Fernandez possesses the necessary characteristics to make such a leap justifiable, at least from a scouting perspective, and that puts him in elite company in that regard.
Dan takes a look at four more fringe-keepable relievers in this week's Reaper.
Brandon League | Dodgers
Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe Super Deep (200 Keepers): Fringe
Brandon League, newly rich and the Dodgers’ undisputed closer, probably feels pretty fortunate right now. By midseason 2012 (his walk year), he was toiling in middle relief in a no-name Mariners bullpen after being demoted in favor of Tom Wilhemsen, an obscure 28-year-old rookie. Then, he was fortuitously bailed out of that bleak situation when he was acquired by the Dodgers. It was one of many moves Los Angeles made during the 2012 season that foreshadowed what has become an offseason in which they’ve spent lavishly—including on the likes of League, who inked a fat three-year deal before his market ever really took shape.
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Janssen, Fuentes, and Thayer are discussed in this week's Value Picks
The debate between the old and new schools as to the usefulness of defined bullpen roles is as strong as ever, and with such a high turnover rate in the early going of this season, both sides have had plenty of fodder to build their arguments. For those of us who partake in fantasy leagues, however, such philosophical pedantry is a mere luxury. Chasing saves, after all, is a dirty game, so let’s have a look at some relievers of interest.
Addison Reed is joined by the cast of Real Genius, who collectively probably have a higher upside than Chicago's actual system.
Prospect #1: C Chris Knight Background with Player: Video analysis. Who: Catcher Chris Knight, the former top pick in the draft who many consider the best prospect in recent memory, has let his off-field issues and indiscretions affect his on-field focus. As a result, his overall production hasn’t lived up to his enormous ceiling. His raw tools are so electric that boredom has become an intrinsic byproduct; the developmental staff takes the brunt of Knight’s ennui, which usually forces the former prodigy to seek attention through histrionics. When he’s on point, there isn’t a prospect that can match his combination of tools and feel for the game.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: Professor Jerry Hathaway, director of player development and de facto mentor to the future star, has been adamant that Chris Knight won’t graduate to the majors until he finishes what he started in the minors. Knight lacks the motivation to achieve for the reductive sake of achievement, so the extra pressure being applied to the promising backstop will either propel the prospect to the heights his tools suggest are possible, or the immature talent will withdraw from the forced responsibility, and instead choose to live in the frenzied moments of his own arrested development.
With all of the big-name free-agent closers off the market, how are things shaking out at the end of each team's bullpen?
Now that the Blue Jays have signed Francisco Cordero, all of the legitimate closer candidates are now off the free-agent market. As such, now makes for a good time to check out how things look now that the closer carousel has stopped spinning.
A look at how player values have changed in mock drafts over the past few weeks
Either many mock drafters work in education or people are finally past fantasy football because there have been a lot of baseball mock drafts going on of late. When I went into MockDraftCentral to see how many drafts have been run over the past two weeks, I found 188 qualifying drafts worth of data. Pitchers and catchers are just over 40 days away from reporting and some drafts start up shortly after that, so it appears people are finally getting serious about preparing for their upcoming season. Let’s take a look at how those people are drafting so far.
Kevin remarks on his top 10 favorite prospects to follow this season.
With the minor league regular season coming to an end over the holiday weekend (the Pioneer League goes a couple of extra days for some reason), it's time to celebrate the year with my 10 favorite prospects of the year. These guys aren’t the best, simply who I would always focus on in the box score, who we learned something about, or who we simply had fun with.
With the rankings now complete, is our resident prospect man about to turn his back on who he ranked at the top of each position?
Right-Handed Starters Shelby Miller (Cardinals) The Case For: First and foremost, Shelby Miller is a Texan, and therefore already has an advantage over his competition for this title. I’m open about my bias. See the second rule.
From a scouting perspective, Miller has everything I look for in a future top-of-the-rotation arm. With prototypical size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and room for additional strength, Miller has the body and the delivery to log innings and maintain his stuff deep into games. His fastball is a legit plus pitch, and can show plus-plus velocity, as he touches the upper 90s at times. The curveball is another above-average offering, flashing plus more than it flashes the potential to be plus, with excellent depth to the break and a tight spin. As with most young power pitchers, Miller’s changeup was underdeveloped in relation to his other offerings when he was drafted, but it has quickly emerged as another plus-potential pitch. It plays well off his fastball with good weight and some arm-side fading action.
A pair of Robinsons are stating their case for a callup, while there was some weird baseball in Myrtle Beach.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi) It was easy to blow off any question as to how real Altuve was when he was hitting .400 at High-A. Sure it was awesome, as the five-foot-something (it was five, he claims six, but is now listed at seven) second baseman is hard not to love, but all anyone could really say was, “It's Lancaster, all we can do is wait and see what he does at Double-A.” That promotion came much faster than expected, and with a 5-for-14 weekend that included two doubles and two triples, he's now hitting .422/.435/.778 in his first 11 games for the Hooks. For now I get to say, “Hey, it's just 11 games...” but in the back of my mind, I'm starting to think this might be the real deal.