Seeing the best amateurs in the nation play in the Perfect Game All American Classic last weekend in San Diego proved to be quite the preview for the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. Nine prep pitchers touched 95 mph or higher, including San Clemente (CA) senior Kolby Allard, who put his name in neon lights high above the amateur landscape, partly because of a velocity bump to the mid-90s. That’s just one example of what occurred while the players were centered up in the MLB Network lenses. But in spending time up close with the prospects at the workouts, the meals, the awards banquet and the Rady Children’s Hospital visit, it was easy to see there were many who had solid and diverse foundations provided by families and coaches at home.
And if you coaches wonder how quickly the seeds you have planted, nurtured with baseball wisdom and guidance, might blossom, then many of these athletes were an indication that there are plenty of coachable, skilled players in the next generation. The instant coaching impact had me wondering about the lasting stories that might be told about player/mentor connections decades from now.
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How much did each move yesterday affect the playoff picture? We let PECOTA and our playoff odds answer that.
We can write about the prospects who can’t locate glove-side, we can write about the fantasy implications of a fourth-outfielder logjam, we can write about the strengths and weaknesses of each player traded and we can give our best assessment of each team’s competitive windows. But what you really want to know is this:
Are the Brewers (or the A’s, or the Orioles, or name a team) any more likely to make the playoffs today than they were before they made the TA-worthy trade? Any by how much?
Rick Porcello keeps the ball on the ground to notch a shutout, and the Angels sweep a doubleheader, plus more from Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway
After walking off against Sean Doolittle and the Athletics in dramatic fashion on Monday night, the Tigers quickly disposed of the American League West leaders on Tuesday to clinch a series win. The game breezed by in just two hours and 13 minutes, as Rick Porcello tossed his second consecutive shutout and needed just 95 pitches to complete it.
The Royals score 11 runs off a defending Cy Young winner for the second straight day, the A's continue to trouble Yu Darvish, and much more action from Tuesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
For much of Angels starter Matt Shoemaker’s career, the odds have been stacked against him. Shoemaker went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan—where he had a 4.83 ERA and 1.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three seasons—and spent parts of the next seven years in the Angels’ minor league system before making his major league debut last September. On Tuesday night, Shoemaker toed the rubber against the Indians for what turned out to be the best outing of his short big league career, and he was well on his way to a complete game before a short rain delay in the ninth inning brought a premature end to his night.
How the Manny Machado incident(s) occurred, Jose Bautista's big night, the Tigers' bullpen problems, and more, plus what to watch today.
The Weekend Takeaway
By the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale, the Athletics and Orioles had seen just about enough of each other. With the A’s up 10-0 in the rubber match at Camden Yards, Fernando Abad threw at Manny Machado twice, and the second straight tight one led Machado to chuck his bat toward third baseman Alberto Callaspo:
The Athletics' latest zig has been as unexpected in the current baseball landscape as it has been impressive.
To think Billy Beane entered the 2012 season in an unenviable position. His Athletics had won 70-something games for the third time in four years, spurring the ever-active general manager to retool his roster for the umpteenth time. Beane removed the veterans; he traded Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey for prospects, and wished David DeJesus and Josh Willingham all the best as they departed through free agency. Beane would later balance the subtractions by adding Coco Crisp and Bartolo Colon—moves that (seemingly) doubled as peace offerings to the union—but the net result was a payroll trimmed of about $15 million.
All the departures caused the A's to abandon their short-term aspirations in pursuit of the future. Beane, who has worked with a bottom-six payroll since 2011, was left to improve his roster using one of the game's best farm systems. Built mostly through trades—the A's have picked in the top-10 just once since selecting Barry Zito in 1999—Oakland's farm system entered that pivotal 2012 season ranked fourth in the league; however harmful those aforementioned trades were to fan morale, the returns had nourished a once-weak prospect stable. It's been said that in baseball you're either selling hope or selling wins.