For one night, the White Sox look like the team to beat in the AL Central.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The White Sox entered last night’s matchup with Justin Verlander with a .237 team TAv, the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins, at .231, had been less potent at the plate as a group, and Mike Redmond’s bunch did not have the benefit of a designated hitter. Among junior-circuit clubs, the Yankees, 11 points ahead of the White Sox at .248, were the next-worst squad.
The American League’s least productive lineup, one with only two starters toting on-base percentages higher than .310, is not supposed to collect 23 hits in a game against Verlander. But on Tuesday, the White Sox did.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Fredi Gonzalez began the year with a strong group of starters—even with Tim Hudson on the disabled list—and plenty of possible reinforcements. When Jair Jurrjens coughed up five home runs and 10 walks in his first four starts, Atlanta had the luxury of sending him down, because Hudson was finally healthy and Randall Delgado was emerging as a reliable rotation piece.
The punches keep on coming for the Mets, while other players deal with various sprains, bruises, and soreness.
David Wright, New York Mets (Partial Rectus Abdominis Tear)
Things just got worse for the Mets. After further tests, Wright was diagnosed with a partially torn rectus abdominis muscle toward the left side of his abdomen, which is in the same areas as the obliques. The treatment won’t be much different from oblique treatment; Wright will initially focus on rest and modalities like ice and gentle motion. Wright will then move to strengthening exercises and, eventually, baseball-related activities.
Wright’s soreness lingered longer than expected, so he had an ultrasound-guided injection to help calm the inflammation. The third baseman feels like he should be back in time for Opening Day, but that might be overly optimistic when you consider his comps are Ryan Zimmerman (who needed surgery) and Kevin Slowey (who didn’t). Both missed a little over two months’ time because of their partial tears, but the range of a “partial tear” is quite large. It looks like Wright will be back before the two-month mark, but we need to keep the extended timeline in mind. Both hitting and fielding can aggravate the injury, so we will have to wait and see how he responds to those activities.
Some young prospects might be getting their assignments to minor league camp right now, but not before scouts get to see who has impressed and who has not.
Now that we're approaching mid-March, early cuts have begun at spring training sites. For some this makes the games more interesting, as the big leaguers play more innings; for others, the earlier games are the ones to watch since the younger players get to play more, even if they're not as polished. Many scouts fall into the latter group, as early games mean extended looks at 2011 draft picks, or introductions to big-name prospects who play for organizations the scouts don't normally cover. So before all of the prospects head down to minor league camp, here are some players opening scout's eyes–for good or bad reasons–in Florida so far.
Best- and worst-case scenarios for Tiger cubs ranging from Turner to Paulino.
Prospect #1: RHP Jacob Turner Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: After being selected ninth overall in the 2009 Rule Four draft and signing a major league deal that included a $4.7M bonus, it quickly became apparent that Jacob Turner was in fact a dream come true, a Ken doll of pitching characteristics with prototypical size and strength, a clean and easy delivery that allows for repeatability and a potentially plus command profile, a lively plus fastball that can touch higher, an above-average 12-6 curve with tight rotation and excellent depth, a changeup with good action, and good overall feel for sequencing and situations.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: After reaching the majors last season, Turner will have every opportunity to claim a rotation spot during spring training. This is a huge jump for a young arm, regardless of the polish and punch of the arsenal, and Turner could face a harsh reality. Turner has advanced strike-throwing ability, but that shouldn’t be confused with advanced command. With the ability to throw his three-pitch mix for strikes, Turner can manage the intensity of the arsenal and force poor contact rather than go for throat rips with every at-bat. Against superior competition, throwing strikes is a good way to win the hearts of the hitters you face, as they can send you a flowers and chocolates after they victimize your offerings. At the major league level, you have to up the intensity of the arsenal while not only maintaining the ability to throw strikes but also refining the ability to throw quality strikes. With the training wheels still on the bike and the minor league blueprint for success still fresh in the mind, 2012 will be a developmental year for Jacob Turner, one that will feature a few highs and more than a few lows, especially if the 20-year-old is thrown to the major league wolves.
Looking ahead to who could top next year's prospects lists in the junior loop.
One of the most frequent questions I get, be it via e-mail, chats, or the comment sections in the articles, is which player on [insert team here] has the best shot at moving into the Top 101. That's a much different question from who is the best prospect not in the Top 101, as the focus needs to move solely to growth potential. Building on last year's "Future Top Dogs" series, let's keep that category in this year's version, while also taking an honest list at last year's prognostications.
One expert's educated guesstimate on how things will go down later today.
This one could be a mess folks, and it's all about bonus demands at this point. Right now, you have as many as four high school pitchers-Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke, and Shelby Miller-looking for big, big money, with the first three all telling teams they're looking for Rick Porcello-level deals (or more). This has the potential to blow the first round wide open, and turn it into into a very college-oriented first 30 picks, with numerous top talents falling to later picks than initially expected. One team picking in the top ten I spoke to this morning said he still had very little idea of who was going to be picked ahead of his club's choice.