This one goes to 14. An extended struggle exposes Jake Odorizzi, and Jose Fernandez shows Matt Joyce his whole arsenal.
The two longest plate appearances of 2013 (to date) took place two innings apart in Monday’s Rays-Marlins game at Tropicana Field. They both involved right-handed rookie pitchers who were facing batters for the first time in the big leagues. And like last week, I’m going to go over them both.
The Baseball Prospectus 2013 Top 101 Prospects, by Position, by Organization, and by Age
Yesterday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect crew released our Top 101 Prospects of 2013, also newly available in printed form in the now-shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The festivities were wild and raucous for all, perhaps tempered slightly for fans of the Chicago White Sox. Here is the Top 101 list displayed by position, by organization, and by prospect age. Enjoy!
The Royals summon one of their top pitching prospects to the majors for some major-league seasoning.
The situation: With the Omaha Stormchasers’ season ending this past weekend, the Royals have decided to call up top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi and give him a late-season start or two in what should be an initial gauge of whether he is ready for a spot in next year’s rotation. Odorizzi was not on the 40-Man roster, and given his Rule 5 eligibility this off-season, the promotion takes care of an inevitable roster move early while also giving him his first taste of the Show.
Interesting backstories dominate after this weekend's games, with surprise performances, defensive shifts, reclaimed prospect status, disappointing contracts, and accelerated big-league arrivals all on display.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Throughout the entire month of April, it was pretty clear that Barnes didn't belong in Low-A, as the 2011 first-round pick allowed just one run over 26 2/3 innings while striking out 42. On Saturday, Barnes showed that he might not belong in High-A either, as he whiffed 12 over six four-hit innings in his Carolina League debut. Just as important as the numbers, Barnes has started to break out the secondary stuff, as after relying primarily on a fastball that can touch 97 in Greenville, he was generating swings and misses with a curveball that has been an inconsistent pitch in the past. His ceiling hasn't changed yet, but his timetable is quickly accelerating.
While lot of what Jason sees in Arizona doesn't matter, and some of it's just shadows, there's still a lot to report from Surprise.
Day 8: 10:40 PM
It’s late, Patricia, and I’m sorry for not putting fingers to these keys earlier. The sun was magnificent today, like a big, glowing ball of headaches, disorientation, and fire. My eyes starting stinging early, and by noon I realized I was nearing collapse. After the morning workouts and the 1PM game at the big boy stadium–which I will tell you about in a minute–I bypassed a late lunch in order to cool my thoughts in a long shower. I rushed through step three of the showering process because the symptoms of heat stroke were still present and I didn’t feel confident standing in a slippery basin with my eyes closed while negotiating bouts of dizziness. It’s important to avoid cracking your head open.
Day 8: 11:00 PM
I had to drink a glass of flat water with a slice of cucumber gently floating on top. I would have preferred sparkling, but I’ve become particular about my sparkling water and I’m not about to rush into a sloppy water consumption decision just because the selection is limited and my body needs to fight off dehydration. It’s important to stay hydrated, with style when possible. I watched the Royals earlier today, as I tend to do out here in Surprise, and one player in particular caught my eye, as he has every spring since he was drafted. I sat in the scout section behind home plate, allowing the waves of Americana blasting from the stadium P.A. system to crash into my eardrums, waiting to have my eyes opened by a spectacular play or a spectacular player, when from the sky a heroic figure emerged and slowly lowered his human form onto the playing field and picked up a baseball bat. It was Eric Hosmer, and his face was bronze, and his body draped with the cloth of kings, and his skin was wet with the tears of innumerable virgins. His swing was delicious, with a robust finish that was assertive and aggressive, yet tender and passionate.
Will Myers hit? Can Bubba Starling star? Could Cheslor Cuthbert chisel his way to The Show? Why they might, and why they might not, is just a click away.
Prospect #1: OF Wil Myers Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: Myers was considered a top-ten prospect before the 2011 season by many national publications. He failed to live up to those lofty expectations in 2011, causing many to forget about the developmental aspects of the process and jump off the bandwagon when his prospect perfume wasn’t as sweet. Ah, people can be so quick to misinterpret failure. Myers has all the tools necessary to become a first-division right fielder, and the statistical setbacks that occurred in the Texas League weren’t the result of one tyrannical culprit; rather, Myers faced a series of developmental hurdles and failed to clear them on his first jump. At the plate, he has the kind of bat speed you can’t teach but can’t wait to preach, starting with fast hands, excellent hip rotation, and a clean path to the ball. He projects to hit for both average and power down the line, with the type of advanced approach that will allow for on-base ability.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: I can’t speak to the specific developmental plan the Royals have scripted for Myers, but you have to figure the 21-year-old outfielder will reach the Triple-A level at some point in 2012. It’s then that I’d like to see Myers up his intensity at the plate, taking advantage of pitches he can drive before the pitchers take advantage of him. Being patient has it’s advantages, especially against quality pitching: it can put you in favorable hitting situations, it can lead to walks, and it can force a pitcher to throw a lot of pitches while also disrupting the deception of sequence. But it can also make a hitter second-guess opportunities, especially if they come early in the count. Hitters like Myers are the opposite of complex league hitters, those that are taught to read and react, looking to drive fastballs early and often in counts. Myers has good pitch-recognition skills and can track a ball from release to glove better than a lot of major leaguers, but the best hitters also know when to attack; Myers can be a bit passive in that regard. At the higher levels, you either drive or you get driven, and without a little more intensity when the situation calls for it, Myers will remain a backseat hitter, waiting on the perfect opportunity to take the wheel. That type of approach, while applauded in certain situations, can get a young hitter run over.
Sometimes, the road to a minor-league park can be just as interesting as the prospects you'll watch in game action.
Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing close to 185 pounds, Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi is almost my preferred cup of coffee. (As you might recall, I tend to like my young pitchers in the 6-foot-3, 190-pound range. It’s just my scene, man.) Acquired in the “Really? That’s all you got for Zach Greinke?” trade, Odorizzi was widely considered to be the top prospect in the Brewers organization, but like his contemporaries in the deal, lacked the Pavlovian punch to water the national mouth. As someone who has been watching Odorizzi since his 2008 complex league campaign, I can proudly stand before you and say that my mouth was already fully salivated. Wait, that sounds bad.
With an athletic build, a deep present arsenal, and some additional projection in the tank, Odorizzi could end up the hidden prize of the Greinke haul. However, it should be said that despite being a fantastic prospect now and future projection, Odorizzi’s ceiling is probably only that of a solid third starter at the major-league level. But that’s OK, right? Quality third starters are valuable creatures. They are the Honda Accords of a rotation.
Jake Odorizzi's scouting report was already written, so why waste it?
There's nothing more frustrating than bad timing, and in that sense, this weekend was a doozy. Not only was Steven Goldman getting ready to wrap up the Brewers chapter of Baseball Prospectus 2011 to ship to our publisher, but I was working on the Brewers Top 11 for a Tuesday publication.