As the 2013 season concluded, Alex Anthopoulos’ chair in Toronto was, per reports and common sense, wobbly. “He needs a winning season in 2014 or he will likely be fired,” wrote Richard Griffin, in an article that suggested opposing teams had cracked his tactics, putting the Blue Jays in a disadvantageous position on the trade market. Now, of course, the Blue Jays are the class of the AL East, the most improved team (by winning percentage) in baseball from a year ago, and as likely to make the playoffs as the Tigers are. Clearly, Anthopoulos had a tremendous offseason. Clearly, he’ll be in contention for executive of the year. Anybody who foretold his dismissal clearly didn’t see this incredible act of General Managing in the winter of 2013-2014. Let’s review the seven key moves that Anthopoulos made:
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:
Toronto wins for the 17th time in 20 games and Masahiro Tanaka gets by without his best stuff, plus more from Thursday and weekend previews.
The Thursday Takeaway Justin Verlander became the latest victim of Toronto’s explosive offense on Wednesday, as the Blue Jays cranked three more home runs and put the finishing touches on a three-game sweep over the AL Central leaders.
With three looks at the Blue Jays pitching prospect this year, Chris is able to draw some lines.
Over the course of a season, I like to get multiple looks at a starting pitcher prospect as a baseline for establishing developmental trends and gauging progression. Similar to when sitting on a position player prospect for a series or stretch of games, there can be variability from look to look in regards to what you see. It’s possible, for instance, that in an isolated appearance a pitcher is working on one particular pitch or certain aspect of his game that doesn’t reveal the full scope of his arsenal. Or, the arm just doesn’t have it, for whatever reason, on a given night. It’s important when building the book to be able to reference reports from various points in time to compare, contrast, and look for clues that assist with making projections.
Background: Stroman was a first round selection out of Duke University in 2012, coming off the board with the 22nd overall pick. Despite one of the loudest arsenals in the draft class, consisting of three potential plus-plus offerings (fastball, slider, and cutter) and an average to plus changeup, Stroman’s diminutive stature (listed at 5-foot-9) and dominant stint as closer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team led many evaluators to place the Friday night ace into the “bullpen bin.” The Blue Jays saw a starter and, after easing his arm into the pro game via the pen in late 2012, inserted Stroman into the Double-A rotation for 20 starts in 2013.
Updates on Gregory Polanco, Mark Appel, Dalton Pompey, Joey Gallo and six others.
Dalton Pompey, CF, Blue Jays (High-A Dunedin)
During the offseason, Pompey’s name was in the running for the Jays top 10 list, and after falling short of that distinction he was in the running (but not chosen) to be named a prospect on the rise in that organization. The omission is our mistake—and a foolish one at that—as the 21-year-old outfielder has blossomed into arguably the top position prospect in the Blue Jays organization, a toolsy dream of a player who is finally healthy and putting the pieces together on the field. A relatively unknown 16th-round draft pick in 2010, Pompey has struggled with injuries, most notably a broken hamate bone, but he has always flashed the promise, especially the plus-plus speed (and plus-plus baserunning) and defensive chops in center field. A switch-hitter at present, Pompey is superior from the left side of the plate, with a quick to-the-ball stroke and gap pop. While he’s far from a finished product—the right-side bat can look like a mess, with poor balance and bat control, and the defense in center is still more raw athleticism than crisp reads and routes—the step forward in 2014 is legitimate, and if Pompey can stay healthy, he should reach the Double-A level at some point during the season and emerge as a nationally recognized prospect. –Jason Parks
Updates on Hunter Harvey, Aaron Sanchez, Mark Appel and others.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles (Low-A Delmarva)
Given the volatility of young arms, along with the overall nature of the position, it’s easy to be on the conservative side when initially assessing the early stages of their pro careers. After seeing Harvey toward the end of last season, though, it wasn’t a tough call to put a 7 on the future potential. The stuff absolutely screamed “legit.” The heater effortlessly came out of his hand at 92-95 mph, with late life and jump. The feel for the curveball was advanced for a pitcher his age, and though the changeup was inconsistent, the quality arm-side fading action when Harvey did execute lent a big clue that future growth is there. It’s an arsenal of three future plus-to-better pitches.