The A's lefty logs his first complete game since 2006, plus more recaps from a walkoff-filled Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Fans at Oakland Coliseum were treated to a fantastic pitchers’ duel between Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday, and the visitors started the bottom of the ninth inning with a 1-0 advantage.
Kazmir was in line for a complete-game loss, in which he threw 76 of his 103 pitches for strikes and struck out eight batters without issuing a walk. The lone mistake he made was a slider left up that Torii Hunter deposited over the right-center field wall. Kazmir was able to subdue the Tigers with his changeup, as he threw 19 of his 26 off-speed offerings for strikes—nine of them of the swing-and-miss variety. The southpaw was able to hold his velocity over the course of the game, registering his fastest four-seamer of the game with his second-to-last pitch.
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These young players may have lost some of their luster, but they could still offer plenty of fantasy value next year.
Despite the addition of a second wild card in each league, the playoff races aren’t exactly scintillating this year. For many teams, the season is over and it’s time to start evaluating talent. So it goes with fantasy. As we march on toward the end of August, there are many owners who are already looking toward 2014 and can use the remainder of this season to evaluate talent. One of the most important things an out-of-contention owner can do is correctly identify talent that could be undervalued heading into the offseason.
One reliable resource of undervalued talent that I’ve found is those players who are no longer prospects (and thus cannot be kept on a minor-league roster in keeper/dynasty leagues), but who have yet to establish themselves as full-time players or known quantities. In short, they’re post-hype prospects. Obviously, these types of players carry with them significant risk, hence the potential for undervaluing them. The flipside is the potentially huge payoff if they hit, with recent examples including Domonic Brown, Patrick Corbin, Josh Donaldson, and Starling Marte. All of these players flashed at some point or another, but not being able to stash them in a minor-league system hurt their keeper value and they were likely available for less than they should have been.
A look at players who might be available to help your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres
A June groin injury followed by an awful July caused a number of standard mixed-league owners to run for the exits, as Gyorko is only owned in about 29% of ESPN leagues. If he’s available in your mixer, snatch him up. Even without taking the injuries into account, since May, Gyorko has been an offensive force. His ISO in May, June, and August has been no lower than .242. In other words, Gyorko is a legit source of power at a middle infield position. Unless you’re in a points league that penalizes severely for hitter strikeouts, there’s no way Gyorko should be a free agent. —Mike Gianella
Five Prospects Who Struggled In the 2011 Caribbean Winter Leagues
Aside from a fairly uneventful game between the Dominican Winter League and Venezuelan Winter League All-Stars, it was another slow night with only two games in Puerto Rico. So let's stick with yesterday's topic -- struggling prospects of the Caribbean Winter Leagues -- and take a look at five prospects who were terrible last winter, but eased concerns -- if there were any at all -- by putting up much better numbers during the 2012 regular season.
Playing for one category might make sense this late in the season. Here are some limited players who might nonetheless pick up a point or two for you.
On Thursday, I discussed the importance of managing your categorical needs at this time of year. By this point in the season, you could actually make a case for dropping certain would-be stars like Adam Dunn or Michael Bourn if their categories are no longer of use to you (and if you’re certain enough they won’t fall into the hands of a competitor that needs what they offer). On the flip side, players that you might have turned your nose up at earlier in the year may now be incredibly appealing. Because there is so little time left in the year, a couple of home runs or steals could mean a point or two in the standings. And if this is the case, the crappy batting average that is likely to come with it probably doesn’t matter to you. As I always say, it’s all about context. So today I return with some more one-category wonders that are worth considering for a final championship push.
My Mitch Moreland obsession is far from a secret. He was one of my preseason sleepers and I drafted him everywhere. As little love as the guy gets outside of these pages, he has 25-homer power at worst. Especially if you have the luxury of picking the days you play him (he sits against lefties), he could give you a couple of homers over the final weeks.
Blue Jays blue-chip prospect Anthony Gose has been bad in the big leagues, but has he been so bad that we should start to doubt his skills?
Last month, I wrote an article about 2012 Red Sox draftee Shaq Green-Thompson, who had begun his professional career by going 0-for-16 with 16 strikeouts. I wasn’t sure whether to write it. Baseball players go through slumps, and baseball writers write about them. That’s the way this works. But Thompson was just a couple months out of college, and his struggles were so acute that to draw any extra attention to them seemed cruel. The Red Sox source I quoted was concerned that I was out to “crush the kid.” I wasn’t, but I was worried about what would happen when other sites picked up the story. Ultimately, I decided to write about Thompson, but I tried to do it in a way that dwelt on his strengths, explained his struggles, and focused on what his streak said about baseball. It was still the first and only time I’ve felt bad about writing about a baseball player.
Eleven days later, Deadspin picked up on the story (via some other site, which made me feel a bit better). By then, Thompson’s stat line looked even worse. A flurry of Thompson tweets and articles followed. Not all of them were nice. Thompson went on to finish the short season 0-for-39 with 37 strikeouts. He’ll be better at football, which he’ll play this fall. Maybe he’ll return to baseball next summer. Or maybe he’ll decide not to come back and risk causing any more crises of conscience.
The Blue Jays called up a promising minor-league outfielder to replace Jose Bautista. The Blue Jays called up the wrong promising minor-league outfielder to replace Jose Baustista.
As you’ve probably seen, the Blue Jays got some tough (and slightly weird) news on Monday night, when Jose Bautista felt some pretty powerful discomfort in his wrist after crushing a long foul ball, and had to leave the game. X-rays and an MRI all came back fine, but it nonetheless worried the Blue Jays enough that they placed him on the DL Tuesday. He’s out until at least August, meaning that Bautista—who had played in each of the Jays’ first 90 games—will be limited to no more than the 149 he played last year.
It’s a huge and potentially fatal blow to a team whose playoffchances were mostly wishes and dreams anyway, but these kinds of unfortunate events invariably mean a great opportunity for somebody. In this case, that somebody is Anthony Gose, a not-yet-22-year-old outfielder who is one of the fastest players in pro ball (and who was acquired from the Astros in 2010 in a trade for Brett Wallace, essentially his antithesis). He’s perhaps the fourth-best prospect in a very deep farm system, ranking 68th in Kevin Goldstein’s preseason top 100.
What could possibly go wrong with Toronto's top prospects? A lot, actually.
Prospect #1: C Travis d'Arnaud Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources Who: A supplemental first-round selection in the 2007 draft, d’Arnaud has slowly moved up the prospect food chain and now finds himself wearing the label of alpha catcher in the minors. The 23-year-old brings a balanced skill set to the table, with what some scouts have suggested is a well above-average bat for the position, and improving defensive chops that grade out in the solid-average range. d’Arnaud crushed last season in Double-A, hitting for average and power, and propelling himself into the major league discussion for 2012, despite the fact that the Blue Jays already have a promising young catcher penciled into the lineup. Some scouts believe d’Arnaud has multiple All-Star Games in his future, and could emerge as one of the best all-around players at his position in the majors. Lofty praise.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: With lofty praise comes lofty expectations, and in the case of d’Arnaud, I’m afraid a really good player is being miscast as a really great player. I think d’Arnaud is going to hit in the high-minors, probably not to the level of 2011, but he’s going to hit. He has a good swing that is short to the ball, and he generates good bat speed. He shows legit pop and can lift a ball over the fence, although he’s a better contact oriented gap-to-gap hitter than a sellout-for-power type. At the highest level, I don’t see d’Arnaud as a .300 hitter with 25+ home run potential; rather, I see an above-average stick for the position, but more of a .270 hitter with 25+ doubles and 10+ home runs. I think the swing and the setup can be exploited by pitchers who have location ability and sequence, and since I’ve only seen d’Arnaud crush fringy stuff, I can’t speak to how he will handle top-shelf velocity. It’s a small nitpick, but it’s the difference between a solid major league regular and a perennial all-star. What could go wrong is built into the expectations placed on the player, with the high-end ceilings making letdown and failure almost inescapable. If you think d’Arnaud is a balanced, all-around high-five/low-six type of catcher, he’s probably going to make you happy by playing good defense, hitting for a respectable average, and showing good pop for the position. If you are expecting a Gold Glove-quality defensive player with batting champ credentials and 25+ home run pop, you might be in for disappointment. If d’Arnaud had that suggested potential, he would be considered a top tier prospect in the entire minors, someone who could stand next to the Trouts of the world as a future 7 player. The scouts who put him in that class are either onto something and ahead of the curve, or they are on something and should share with the rest of the class.
A toolsy, twice-traded talent tries to put things together in Toronto.
Anthony Gose wants to be a star, and that‘s exactly what Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays are hoping he becomes. For now, he'll have to be content with being rated as the ninth-best prospect in the Toronto system by Kevin Goldstein; ESPN’s Keith Law has him at number eight, while Baseball America confidently deemed him number four.