2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

“Baseball is my stereo, and you're our product, and we can't very well have our products turning against us, can we?” – Dick Jones, RoboCop

Twenty-four hours after I arrived back in New York from my amazing journey to the Futures Game, where I witnessed the finest talent the minor leagues had to offer, I found myself in New Jersey watching Low-A baseball. The contrast caused a rash, and I struggled to hold back the tears during the three-day trip, and the talent on the field wasn’t the only source of the sadness. I don’t want this to come across as someone who is overly critical of New Jersey the state, because I’m not familiar with the entire state and I shouldn’t render judgments based on a very small sample of the state, but I’m not a big fan of New Jersey the state.

Not that I’m an alcoholic, but I enjoy an adult beverage after a long day sitting in the stands taking notes and keeping a focus. However, New Jersey the state didn’t want to provide me with easy options. Perhaps the creature comforts of New York City have spoiled me to the realities of other locations, just as my upbringing in Texas has spoiled me to the service of ice-cold beer delivered via a pleasant drive-thru experience in makeshift barns off the highway, so excuse me if I thought buying a chilled adult beverage would be a painless process at 10pm on a Thursday night. Nope. Upon entering the local grocery store with a smile on my face that suggested complete and total ignorance to local laws, I combed the aisles looking an adult snack, one I would be sharing with a fellow minor league prognosticator, most likely as we re-lived the evening’s on-the-field events, perhaps discussing why Jorge Alfaro refuses to take a pitch to start a sequence, or why Jordan Akins is such a beast yet can’t play baseball.

After an exhaustive search that could rival a body hunt, I arrived empty handed to the front of the store, where a kind employee dropped the disguise of kindness and announced my failures to the entire population of the cookie and pastry section. I was told that grocery stores don’t sell beer, and that I’m a fool, and that gas stations don’t sell beer either, and you can’t even pump your own gas, and that I’m a fool, and that only specifically recognized outlets can sell beer, specifically the liquor store next to the grocery store, but that they close early and I was out of luck for the evening, and that I was a fool. I thanked her for her support and I didn’t buy any cookies or pastries in her section just to spite her, and I left the relationship unfulfilled, and I didn’t want to find a bar and drink in public, so I went back to my hotel to find that their adult beverage service had concluded, and that I was a fool, and the concierge mentioned that the local strip club sold six-packs to go, and I declined the suggestion after offering a criticism of the alcohol laws, and I retired to my room where I went over the following game notes with the familiar scents of failure and disappointment escaping from my pores.  

Player: Aaron Altherr
Position: CF    
Team: Phillies
Acquired: 9th round; 2009
DOB: 01/14/1991
HT/WT: 6’5’’ 190 lbs.
B/T: R/R
Game (s): 07-12/13
Result: 6 AB, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K
Notes: Long, lanky frame; athletic; swing was easy and fluid, but loopy; triggered slow; struggled to hit inside velocity; struggled with breaking balls; didn’t control the bat well; hit tool was well below average; showed good raw power potential; impressive pop to right-center gap; average at best range in center; good speed, but didn’t show quick jumps on balls; strong arm; long action; looked raw; a prospect, but serious doubts about the bat; right field profile, good power potential; good projections; big gap between reality and dream.

Player: Kevin Matthews            
Position: Pitcher
Team: Rangers
Acquired: 1st round; 2011
DOB: 11/29/1992
HT/WT: 5’11’’ 180 lbs.
B/T: R/L
Game: 07/13/2012
Result: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Notes:  Short; very athletic; thicker build (not fat); 3/4 slot; compact and simple delivery, but finishes across body; long stride; high leg lift; fastball was soft in 88-91 range; touched 92 mph; showed some good arm side run when spotted down in the zone; didn’t miss many barrels; curveball flashed plus; worked 73-77; tight rotation; excellent depth; was able to throw pitch for strikes; big fan of pitch; changeup was below average; was instructed to throw 15 of them during start; worked 80-82, with a little, late vertical dip; lacked fading action; good deception from delivery; good fastball disguise; was too firm and lacked quality movement; overall command was below average; elevated fastball up and to the arm side; overthrew at times; delivery and athleticism points to above average command profile; arm was a little dead; fielded position well; was slow to the plate with runners on (1.6); didn’t have best stuff, but competed and battled all game; lacks projection; fastball has potential to work in the 90-93 range, with plus curveball and average changeup, good command, and intense approach; back-of-the-rotation type/reliever.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Gabriel Lino (Phillies): Big, mature body; adult strength; raw receiver; excellent catch and throw skills behind the plate; footwork needs improvement; arm is easy 7; big raw power; poor hit tool; good approach; tracks pitches well, just can’t hit them; all projection.

Jorge Alfaro (Rangers): Body is maturing; impressive strength; raw power is easy 7; impressive batting practice pop; shows some bat control; hit tool could be average; approach is very aggressive; swings early and often; soft and spinning stuff can take him out; looks to go opposite field with most offerings; well above average catch and throw skills; arm is 8; footwork looks better than ST; receiving still needs refinement; shows some leadership qualities on the field; All-Star projections, but approach could limit offensive potential.

SS/2B Rougned Odor (Rangers): Lacks impressive size, but shows strength and athleticism; played both shortstop and second; arm is easy 6; can make every throw at both positions; range is better suited for 2B; good quickness; instincts for the game are obvious; high game IQ; good/clean actions; good backhand pickup; shows a lot of flash at both positions (almost to a fault); bat is extremely quick; hands are above average; impressive bat control; tracks pitches well; mature approach; surprising pop for size/age; uses an all-field approach; not just a slap hitter; drives through ball; glove is 6; arm is 6; hit tool should be at least a 6; power is 4; speed is 5; toolsier than people realize; total gamer; future major league regular at 2B in the mold of Placido Polanco; big fan.

3B Maikel Franco (Phillies): Looks heavier than listed weight; thick frame; impressive power; loud contact in batting practice; ball jumps off bat; was very aggressive at the plate in game action; swing wasn’t controlled; wild; wasn’t impressed with hit tool; looked lost against right-handers; below average speed; not especially athletic in the field; glove was fine; arm was very strong; range was below average; interesting prospect; big power potential; plus arm; might be able to stick at 3B depending on body/footwork; hit tool/approach were suspect; major league projection; not sure of position or specific offensive ceiling; 5 role.

Thank you for reading

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The note "triggered slow" is probably the cause for "struggled to hit inside velocity", correct?
Mr. Parks - a Texan criticizing another state's goofy alcohol laws? Come on - you know a part of Texas pride is knowing where you can buy that alcoholic beverage of your choice, and more specifically where you can't. Sure, a few things have gotten a bit easier in Texas over the past few years, but it's always been fun to explain why people traveling in Metroplex suburbs had to buy a "membership" to drink or explaining why some municipalities over 100,000 people are totally "dry". I think the foot might be on the other hand now, huh? ("Airplane" joke.) It's just the NJ folks sticking it to the Texan when the opportunity arose. :-)
Its the NYS that has seeped in through Jason's pores. I cannot think of a single grocery store or gas station in the Empire State that does not sell beer. Or perhaps they exist, but I would never patronize them. Transplants to NY get used to the wonderfulness, the simplicity, very quickly.

All with a little of NYS in their souls seethe a bit in other states where you have to go to strange places at strange, limited hours just to purchase delicious, ice cold beer.
Cape May and the shore south of Atlantic City are gorgeous, and I have a sneaking admiration for the broadly accented swagger of North Jersey. But, yeah, New Jersey is terrible and the sooner you come to grips with that, the sooner you can appreciate its positive qualities.

Glad to see the notes on #TheLegend, and hoping he stays healthy. Has he always been this aggressive, or is this just a lack of refinement?
If you think getting beer in NJ is tough, come out to PA for a scouting trip....
Nice RoboCop quote. I was always partial to "Bitches leave!" Are you going to be seeing the reboot?
This person stole my thunder, I was going to ask Jason if he was sure he wasn't in PA trying to buy that beer? Always an enjoyable read, and I enjoy updates on potential future Phillies. Given how this season is going, we fans don't have much to look forward to for the rest of the year, other than spoiling things for the Braves or Nationals in September (sorry Mets fans). And I hope the Phils have some kind of prospect at 3B as the sight of watching Polanco ground out repeatedly becomes tougher and tougher to watch!
Mitch Walding has been getting some positive reviews at the plate but he's had several errors at third so far. I wouldn't worry about watching Polanco much longer. He won't be back.
I would have showed some #want and gone to get the sixer to go.

I really like the comments in this thread. This is why I'm a BP loyalist. Fantastic.
I'm not sure what is worse. States where you can't buy beer in grocery stores or states that only sell fake 3.2% ABV beer in grocery stores. Damn teases. The Texas law prohibiting the sale of beer before noon on Sundays is terrible too. So, if I want to buy beer on my way to a friend's house to watch NFL games I have to either get there after kickoff or plan ahead and buy beer the day before?
I fail to see how that was a problem. You can buy Saturday night until the grocery store closes, I think.
I recall many times hitting the Fiesta after work on Saturdays late to grab some beers. Oddly enough, Fiesta had a great beer selection in 1997.
It's a problem if you're lazy and are used to living in a state where you can pick it up Sunday morning. So, yeah not a real problem but still annoying. Now that I've got a football season of experience in Texas I should be good to go.
The day following the Hickory series, Maikel Franco did unspeakable things to a baseball, crushing it past the scoreboard. 450 feet, I'd estimate. Oh, and it was on the first pitch he saw.
7/20 son plays travel hockey here in Virginia and we frequently travel to PA for games...I hate trying to find a liquor store for the parent's late night drinking. Makes you appreciate walking into 7-11 and grabbing a case that much more!
I've always invisioned a press conference with the GM saying "I had to kill the manager because he made a mistake, now it's time to erase that mistake."