Due to the Dodgers’ and Diamondbacks’ opening-series that’s set to take place on March 22nd and 23rd in Australia, Spring Training action is beginning a bit earlier than usual this year. The Diamondbacks have their pitchers and catchers reporting today, with the Dodgers’ pitchers and catchers reporting on Saturday. Therefore, for the first time since the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series over three months ago, baseball is finally back.
But while the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are getting started this week, the remainder of the teams won’t begin reporting until next week, anywhere from the 11th to the 17th: The Indians report date is set for Tuesday; the Cardinals and Mariners will begin on Wednesday; the Braves, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Nationals, Angels and Padres report Thursday; the Tigers, Yankees, Rays, Cubs, Reds, Royals and Athletics arrive on Friday; the Red Sox, Astros, Mets, White Sox, Rockies, Brewers and Giants on Saturday; the Marlins, Twins and Rangers report on Sunday; and the Blue Jays begin on Monday. (The rest of the players for all the teams will report anywhere from 3 to 7 days after their respective pitchers and catchers.)
Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training on February 17th, there will be a mere 33 days until the 2014 Major League Baseball season gets underway in Australia. I, for one, can’t wait.
But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.) Every Spring Training, for the past two or three years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out a dozen, or so, TTM’s, with the best player being Clayton Kershaw.
While that might seem like a long shot — and it very well may be — Kershaw, surprisingly, has been known to sign through the mail over the past few years; the only downside being that it takes over a year for him to return it to you.
Though his recent record breaking contract, and second Cy Young award, may lead to him getting even more fan mail, causing a subsequent stop of him signing for fans that write to him, Kershaw is good enough for me to take a chance on. Even if I don’t get anything back, at least I tried.
Other MLB players I’m sending to include Taijuan Walker (who made his MLB debut in 2013), David Robertson, Kolten Wong, Cody Asche, Mike Napoli and Jake Marisnick. All of these players have been known to be decent TTM signers, with Walker and Robertson being nearly automatic over the past couple years. Asche told me that he tries to sign everything that gets sent his way, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get that one back at least.
I’m also sending to several Minor League players who were invited to Major League Spring Training this year — some for the first time ever. Those players include Archie Bradley, Kyle Zimmer, Mark Appel, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. All five of these players will be in the majors at some point over the next few years, with Bradley likely making his big league debut this season. Bradley, Zimmer and Appel have all told me that they sign TTM, so I feel like I’ll get those back. Almora has been hit and miss recently, and I doubt Bryant will, but I’m sending to both of them anyway, because you never know.
Last year I sent off eleven autograph requests to Spring Training and received back six of them, from Jason Motte, Danny Hultzen, Stephen Romero, Sonny Gray, Tyler Skaggs and Casey Kelly. That’s pretty good as far as TTM’s go. If I get back five or six of the dozen I’m sending off this year — which is what I expect to receive — I’ll be happy.
I’m planning to post a blog entry every time I receive back a couple autographs from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training, just as I did last year. Hopefully it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back for that over the course of the next couple months.
Around a month ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I’ve now gotten back half of the requests I sent out, so I figured I’d post another update:
CASEY KELLY–PADRES ORGANIZATION
Casey Kelly is currently ranked as the number 69 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. He would probably be higher had it of not been for an elbow injury he endured for most of last season. An injury that limited Kelly to just 14 games pitched; 6 of which came in the majors. In the 6 games pitched at the big league level, Kelly went 2-3, with a 6.21 ERA, but showed signs of his readiness to be a major league pitcher. If Kelly doesn’t begin the season with the Padres, it would be a real shame. He has the ability to be an impact player for an improving Padres team.
JASON MOTTE–ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Although the ink from the autograph smudged off a bit in the mail, I’m very happy to add Jason Motte’s autograph to my collection. Topping out at 100, and regularly hitting the upper 90’s, Motte’s overpowering fastball is what makes him one of the best closers in the game. Last season, Motte saved a total of 42 games for the Cardinals, recording 86 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched, on a 2.75 ERA. This season should see Motte posting more of the same type of stats as last year.
I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up.
Of the ten total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:
STEFEN ROMERO–MARINERS ORGANIZATION
Stefen Romero’s 2012 season was truly remarkable. Batting .352 with 23 home runs and 101 RBI’s, including 34 doubles, between A+ and AA, Romero showed his ability to produce stats far above what’s generally expected from a 12th round draft pick. If he can keep on producing the same type of numbers in the coming season, it shouldn’t be too long before he’s helping out the big league club, up in Seattle.
DANNY HULTZEN–MARINERS ORGANIZATION
Danny Hultzen is currently ranked as the number 18 overall prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. Though a promotion from AA to AAA, mid-season, resulted in a bit of a struggle for Hultzen, overall, he had a decent 2012 season, posting a 9-7 record, with a 3.05 ERA. If Hultzen can find his groove again this season it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise if he receives a call up from the Mariners towards the end of the year.
SONNY GRAY–ATHLETICS ORGANIZATION
Though he had a rocky 2012 season–going 6-9 with a 4.26 ERA–many are still thinking that Sonny Gray will eventually pan out to become the front line starter he’s projected to become. I have to agree, and certainly hope so. Gray ended the 2012 season with AAA, and as with Hultzen, if he can get his pitching consistency back under control, Gray could earn a job pitching for the Oakland A’s at some point this season.
I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Casey Kelly, Tyler Skaggs, Jason Motte, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.
Today marks the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers to Spring Training, and therefore, after nearly four months since the Giants won the 2012 World Series, it’s officially time for baseball once again. For die-hard baseball fans, like myself, this long awaited day couldn’t have come sooner.
The Red Sox, Rockies, Cubs and Indians had their pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Sunday, however, the majority of pitchers and catchers are set to report to camp sometime over the course of the next 48 hours: The D-back’s, Braves, Reds, Tigers, Astros, Royals, Marlins, Mets, Athletics and Pirates reporting date is today, with the Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays and Nationals set to report tomorrow. (The Phillies’ pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday.)
Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported, on Wednesday, there will be a mere 45 days until the first official game of the 2013 MLB regular season, which begins on March 31st, with the Houston Astros taking on the Texas Rangers.
But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season, just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.) Every Spring Training, for the past two or three years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out a dozen, or so, TTM’s, with the best player being Mariano Rivera.
Rivera is known to be one of the better TTM autograph signers (as far as big name players go), if you send to him during Spring Training, however, I’ve failed to get back an auto from Rivera in either of the past two years that I’ve sent to him. This year, I’m hoping to have better luck, as with this (more than likely) being Rivera’s final season, it’s basically my final shot.
While Rivera is the player that I’m most hoping to receive back, he’s not the only well known player that I’m hoping to obtain a signature from. In addition to Rivera, I’m sending out requests to guys like Jason Motte, Adam Jones, Justin Masterson, etc., who, according to what I’ve read, are decent signers through the mail.
I’m also planning to send to a few minor league players, who received an invitation to big league Spring Training, including Danny Hultzen, Casey Kelly and Stefen Romero, who are all supposed to be great about signing.
As stated, my overall TTM autograph history is a short one; I’ve only been doing it for the past few years. In that short time, however, I’ve acquired a few decent players’ autographs. My best ever success, which coincidentally was my first success, came from Mark McGwire, back in March of 2011. Apparently, McGwire doesn’t sign TTM all that often, but for some reason he decided to do so for a few weeks during Spring Training. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to get that one back.
I’m planning to post a blog entry for every autograph I receive back from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training. Hopefully, it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back for that, over the course of the next few months….
The big story of the day on Tuesday was the release of a new report that linked multiple MLB players to performance enhancing drugs, including Alex Rodriguez, yet again, who admitted to having used them, back in 2009.
While the PED news was the main thing on everyone’s mind on Tuesday, I’m not going to talk about it at all. There’s still so much uncertainty, that I don’t feel comfortable writing about it; it’s not really my place to anyhow. If you’d like to read about it, a quick Google search will lead you to articles covering everything you might want to know about the subject. As far as I’m concerned, the highlight of the day was the release of the Top 100 prospects list. And that’s what I’m going to be discussing in this particular blog post.
I’m not sure what it is about prospects that intrigues me so much, but I absolutely love studying over, and basically memorizing, the top 100 prospects list; the stars of tomorrow. I didn’t really get into it until last year, as that’s when I began to get serious about autograph collecting, and I had to keep up with the prospects to know when a particularly talented player was coming to town. I suppose that’s why I love it so much, as I can’t get autographs from MLB players all that often–living 250 miles from the nearest MLB team–so I have to get them on their way up.
In this blog post, I’m going to tackle the prospects list in chunks–10 prospects at a time–but I’m not going to be talking about them all; that would take far too long, and besides, not every player of the top 100 is going to make an impact at the Major League level in 2013. Therefore, I’m only going to cover the prospects who will likely make it to the big leagues this year; including those who don’t make it out of Spring Training, but have a chance of a call up later in the season.
Keep in mind, I’m by no means guaranteeing the players I list below will make the major leagues this year; they could get delayed for whatever reason. In addition, there might end up being a few players I don’t mention that end up making it to the big leagues this season. I’m merely giving my own personal opinions as to which players I feel will make it to the bigs in 2013. With that said, let the debating begin:
Prospects Number 100-91
Gary Brown (100), Tervor Story (99), Aaron Hicks (98), Adam Eaton (97),
Jose Iglesias (96), Martin Perez (95), Henry Owens (94), Oswaldo Arcia (93),
Bruce Rondon (92) and A.J. Cole (91).
Of the ten players listed above, the only players that have a shot, I feel, of making the big league club out of Spring Training are Adam Eaton and Jose Iglesias. Both Eaton and Iglesias saw time in the major leagues in 2012, and it’s likely they’ll get a chance at a near full season this year. In 2012, Eaton was a late season call up, and batted .259 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s, in 22 games. Iglesias didn’t fair as well, batting .118 with a homer and a couple of RBI’s. Iglesias and Eaton should both get a good amount of time in the Majors this season, to redeem themselves. How big of an impact they have is yet to be seen, as they both have fairly small MLB sample sizes.
Bruce Rondon, Gary Brown and Aaron Hicks all stand decent chances at getting a call up sometime during the 2013 season, with Martin Perez standing the best overall chance of making it back to the majors; Perez is the only one of the four who has had big league experience, pitching in 12 games in 2012, and going 1-4, with a 5.45 ERA. The future closer of the Tigers, Bruce Rondon, who has been known to hit triple digits, is another guy who is likely to get a chance at pitching in the majors sometime this season, as he had an ERA of 1.53 in 2012. Brown and Hicks are still question marks, in my mind, for whether or not they’ll make it to the major league level in 2013. They may end up having to wait until the 2014 season.
Kyle Crick (86), Joc Pederson (85), Luis Sardinas (84), Michael Wacha (83),
Adeiny Hechavarria (82) and Andrew Heaney (81).
Jarred Cosart stands the best shot, if not the only shot, of making the major league club out of Spring Training, of the ten players above. Cosart possesses a great fastball, along with an above average curveball and change up, but his overall lack of control may be the one thing that keeps Cosart in the minors to start out the season. However, even if he doesn’t break camp with the Astros, you’re sure to see Cosart in the big leagues sometime this season; sooner rather than later.
Adeiny Hechavarria also has a good chance of making it back to the big leagues later this year. Spending 41 games with Blue Jays in 2012, he has major league experience, however, Hechavarria, who has since been traded to the Marlins, didn’t produce nearly as often as I feel he’s capable of, and therefore is likely to begin 2013 with AAA New Orleans. Even with a late start, Hechavarria has the ability to make an big impact for the Marlins this season. With the loss of several key players due to a questionable trade, the Marlins could use a valuable bat to help them out towards the middle to late parts of the coming season, and Hechavarria could be just the guy for the job.
Prospects Number 80-71
Ethan Martin (80), Kolten Wong (79), Zach Lee (78), Matt Davidson (77),
I’m not sure there are any players from the group above that have a chance at making the major league club out of Spring Training. Matt Davidson stands the best chance of all of them, however, even he–with his .261 batting average to go along with 23 HR’s and 76 RBI’s–might end up having to wait a month or two. The only other players worth talking about, that could receive a call up during the season, are Kolten Wong, Allen Webster and Tyler Austin. All three have big league caliber talent already, however, it may end up being just Wong and Webster who see time in the majors in 2013, as Austin is yet to have enough minor league experience. But you never know what could happen down the road.
Prospects Number 70-61
Jake Marisnick (70), Casey Kelly (69), Courtney Hawkins (68), Kaleb Cowart (67),
Tony Cingrani (66), Gregory Polanco (65), Wily Peralta (64), Didi Gregorius (63),
Nolan Arenado (62) and James Paxton (61).
If the Padres don’t break camp with Casey Kelly in their rotation, they don’t really know what their doing as a franchise, in my opinion. You could argue that Kelly doesn’t have enough experience, or that when was called up to the majors last year that he didn’t do all that well–going 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA–but as far as I’m concerned, Kelly is the key to the Padres success in 2013, and as such, should start with the team as soon as possible. Unfortunately, however, it’s not up to me.
A few other players who stand a great chance of making it back to the big leagues are Wily Peralta, Tony Cingrani and Didi Gregorius. All three have short stints of big league experience under their belt, and all three also possess the ability to impact their respective teams this season; none more so than Didi Gregorius. Having been compared to Derek Jeter, Gregorius possesses the kind of athleticism that you don’t see every day from a short stop. His ability to make plays on balls that would normally drop for a hit gives him added value, in addition to his ability to hit the baseball in a fairly consistent manner. Peralta and Cingrani should also get recalled back to the big leagues in 2013, but won’t have nearly the impact of Gregorius, as far as I can see right now.
Prospects Number 60-51
Jesse Biddle (60), Yordano Ventura (59), David Dahl (58), George Springer (57),
Hak-Ju Lee (56), Rymer Liriano (55), Alen Hanson (54), Max Fried (53),
Brian Goodwin (52) and Robert Stephenson (51).
Hak-Ju Lee and Rymer Liriano are the only players from the group above that I feel have a chance of seeing time in the big leagues this season. If their time comes at all, it would come towards the end of the season, as both Lee and Liriano need some more minor league innings before they can be considered big league ready; not a ton more, however. Whether it’s this season or next before Liriano and Lee are ready, both will eventually be impact players for their respective teams, as both have the ability to hit for average; though, Liriano possesses a good deal more power than Lee. They both are great at fielding their respective positions, however, and should be receiving the call up to the big leagues fairly shortly.
Prospects Number 50-41
Jedd Gyorko (50), Kyle Gibson (49), Addison Russell (48), Nick Franklin (47),
Chris Archer (46), Jake Odorizzi (45), Taylor Guerrieri (44), Trevor Rosenthal (43),
Jorge Soler (42) and Mason Williams (41).
Both Jedd Gyorko and Kyle Gibson stand really good chances of making the major leagues out of Spring Training. Gyorko had a great 2012, batting .311 with 30 homers and 100 RBI’s, and should make the big leagues without a problem if he can continue to produce the same kind of numbers throughout Spring Training. Gibson, unlike Gyorko, didn’t have all that stellar of a 2012 season, but he’s one of the front-runners to make the Twins’ rotation on Opening Day, just for the fact that if it wasn’t for his health, he’d be there already. Gibson is at the point where I feel the Twins need to give him a shot, and see how he does. I feel he has the stuff to be a near front of the rotation big league starter for many years to come.
Trevor Rosenthal, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi all stand great chances of making it back to the majors in 2013. All three are pitchers, and all three saw time at the big league level in 2012. Rosenthal was the most impressive, pitching in 19 games resulting in a 2.78 ERA, however, Archer and Odorizzi weren’t far behind, as although both ended with a season ERA above 4.00, they showed off their ability to get batters out at the big league level. Nick Franklin is another guy who stands a chance at seeing big league time in 2013, however, unlike Rosenthal, Archer and Odorizzi, Franklin’s time is likely to come towards the very end of the season.
Prospects Number 40-31
Alex Meyer (40), Albert Almora (39), Matt Barnes (38), Kevin Gausman (37),
Gary Sanchez (36), Aaron Sanchez (35), Kyle Zimmer (34), Carlos Martinez (33),
Jackie Bradley (32) and Julio Teheran (31).
Julio Teheran stands the best chance of playing in the majors in 2013, of all the players listed above, but I wouldn’t rule out a call up of Jackie Bradley Jr. and/or Carlos Martinez, towards the end of the year. Teheran had a rough 2012 with AAA, going 7-9, with a 5.08 ERA, and didn’t fair much better when he received a mid season call up to the big leagues that resulted in a 5.68 ERA. While there’s not much room for error with Teheran moving forward, he still has a couple more season to figure things out, before being considered a bust, however, as far as I’m concerned, he needs to show what he’s capable of this year. Both Bradley and Martinez have the ability to receive late season call ups, but it all depends on how well they do during first half of the coming season. While a call up for Bradley isn’t out of the question, I feel the Red Sox should wait until 2014 to bring him up. He’s going to be a great player, and I feel calling him up too early would do more harm than good.
Prospects Number 30-21
Carlos Correa (30), Noah Syndergaard (29), Anthony Rendon (28), J. Singleton (27),
Bubba Starling (26), Shelby Miller (25), Archie Bradley (24), Mike Zunino (23),
Mike Olt (22) and Nick Castellanos (21).
Mike Olt and Shelby Miller saw big league time last season, and both have good chances of seeing it out of the gate in 2013. Receiving late season callups last season, Olt and Miller showed their ability to impact their teams, however, it’s fair to say that Miller impacted his team a good bit more than Olt. Posting an ERA of 1.32 in six games with the Cardinals, in 2012, Miller has the ability to be an incredible pitching talent, once he makes a few minor adjustments.
Mike Zunino and Nick Castellano both could see time in the major leagues in 2013, but I’d say Zunino stands a better chance than Castellanos. While Castellanos hit .320 in 2012, there’s not an open spot for him in the Tigers’ lineup, just yet, so I’d say if anything, it’ll be towards the very last portion of the year when Castellanos gets called up; if he sees MLB playing time at all in 2013. Zunino, on the other hand, could very well see time in the majors just a few months into the season. With the catching position uncertain, up in Seattle, combined with hitting .360 with 13 HR’s and 43 RBI’s, in 44 games, in 2012, I’d say it’s a fairly safe bet to say that Zunino will be playing with the Mariners sometime in 2013.
Javier Baez (16), Jameson Taillon (15), Francisco Lindor (14), Christian Yelich (13),
Miguel Sano (12) and Billy Hamilton (11).
While there may be some of you out there who disagree with my opinion, I feel the Indians need to place Trevor Bauer in their starting rotation right out of Spring Training. While he didn’t fair all that well when called up to the majors last year, with the D-back’s, Bauer is the future Ace of the Indians’ rotation, and going 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in the minor leagues, in 2012, I feel he’s ready. Only time will tell, however, if the Indians’ plan on playing it safe, or decide to give Bauer a shot to start off the season.
For those of you who felt that Billy Hamilton should’ve been a September call up to the Reds last season, you’ll get your chance to see Hamilton in action at the big league level this season; much sooner than September, more than likely. Hamilton already possesses the speed of a major league player, however, he needs to become a little more consistent at the plate before the Reds will consider bringing him up. Once there, there’s no doubt in my mind that Hamilton will be a big league fixture for many years to come, as guys with speed compared to that of Rickey Henderson don’t come around all that often.
Another guy who has a chance of making the big leagues in 2013 is Danny Hultzen. Hultzen had a fairly decent season in 2012–going 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA–however, his control was somewhat of an issue. If he can figure things out, he should be helping out the Mariners, along with Mike Zunino, towards the end of 2013.
The number one prospect in all of baseball, Jurickson Profar, should make the big leagues right out of Spring Training without a problem; the only dilemma being, where the Rangers will place him. Profar received 17 MLB at-bats last season with the Rangers, and although batting a mere .176, it’s only a matter of time before he begins to hit at a consistent level. Profar is one of the main players you need to keep a close eye on going into the 2013 season, and beyond.
You can pretty much bet on the fact that you’ll see Dylan Bundy, Wil Myers, Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Skaggs in the major leagues sometime during the coming season. All of them are special talents, however, I don’t think any of them will break camp with the big league club. Skaggs and Bundy are the only two that have seen big league innings, but Myers and d’Arnaud aren’t far from being ready; many felt Myers was ready last season. The biggest everyday impact player, of the four, I feel, is going to be Wil Myers, who batted .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBI’s in 2012. It’s likely that he could’ve held his own in the majors towards the end of last season, but he didn’t receive the chance to prove it. I look for Myers and Bundy to take the baseball world by storm in 2013, with d’Arnaud and Skaggs making a splash as well.
Oscar Taveras, Zack Wheeler and Gerrit Cole could also see time in the majors in 2013, however, I don’t see them getting the call up until the end of the season. All three have the ability to become future MLB All-Star caliber players.
I can honestly say that I agree with the top 100 prospects list, for the most part, though there were a few players that I feel should’ve ranked higher/lower than they were; but I didn’t form the list, so I can’t complain. Now that the top prospects going into the 2013 season have been announced, I ask you this: Which player do you feel will have the biggest impact at the major league level in 2013? Cast your vote below:
Feel free to leave a comment below, with your overall thoughts on the top 100 prospects list, heading into this year.