Tuesday, it was time to launch our rankings of the Top 10 left-handed pitching prospects in the game. And, as promised, I wanted to post the next group of lefties to keep an eye on, as we continue to move toward the “big reveal” of the Top 100 list on Jan. 29.
So, without further ado, here are lefties No. 11-15:
Sean Gilmartin, Braves — Advanced college lefty made it to Triple-A in his first full season of pro ball.
Casey Crosby, Tigers — He’s had two healthy seasons in a row. Now it’s time for him to produce. Could have future as a reliever.
John Lamb, Royals — Before Tommy John surgery, he was one of the better southpaws in the Minors. All signs point to him reclaiming that status in 2013.
Robbie Erlin, Padres — The undersized lefty the Padres got in the Mike Adams trade missed time with elbow tendinitis, but continues to get people out with command and competitiveness.
Daniel Norris, Blue Jays — He had a rough pro debut, but the 2011 second-rounder has plenty of time to fulfill his enormous potential.
Prospect ranking season is upon us. It started on Monday with our 2013 Top 10 right-handed pitching prospects list. Each day, we’ll be revealing another Top 10 by position list, until we’re ready to unveil this year’s Top 100 on Jan. 29 (Top 50 show on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com at 9 p.m. ET). Here’s the schedule:
Tuesday: Left-handed pitchers
Thursday: Third basemen
Saturday: Second basemen
Sunday: First basemen
You may have noticed a new twitter handle introduced – @mlbpipeline — that we’re using to announce these lists. You may also have noticed that there have been some technical difficulties with it. We’re hoping those will be resolved soon and that can be THE place to find out about prospect info from us on Twitter. So keep trying if you were trying to follow and couldn’t.
In the past, when the Team Top 20 lists have launched (Week of Feb. 4, for those curious), I’ve posted something I called OMG — One More Guy. That, basically, is who would potentially be No. 21 on the list. I thought I should do something similar for the position lists, especially when seeing reaction from some about who is/isn’t on the list.
With that in mind, here are the RHP who would be 11-15, if we were to go that deep:
Julio Teheran, Braves — Star has faded a bit, but still very young and ready for another shot.
Carlos Martinez, Cardinals — Sometimes known as “Little Pedro,” he has electric stuff in smaller pitching frame
Kyle Zimmer, Royals — 2012 first-rounder could move very quickly through the KC system
Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays — There are those who think he has the most upside among all those young Jays pitchers (current and former)
Kevin Gausman, Orioles — LSU star who went No. 4 overall in last June’s Draft, should join Dylan Bundy in Baltimore in the near future
I’ll be back soon with Who’s Next for the lefties….
These days, I spend most of my time working on MLB.com’s 2013 Prospect Watch lists. Top 10 by position, Top 100 overall and, of course, Top 20 per team. The lists are more or less done and we’re in the content-writing stages now.
Any time there’s news regarding a prospect, I’m going to take notice. That’s true any time of year, as we try to keep things up to date. Now, though, I’m on hyper-alert for anything that could cause a change in rankings.
So when news came out about Astros first base prospect Jonathan Singleton’s 50-game suspension for testing positive for a “drug of abuse,” the alarms went off. I’m not exactly giving anything away by telling you that Singleton was set to be highly rated on the 2013 lists. He is, after all, currently No. 25 on the Top 100, No. 1 on the Astros’ Top 20 and the top-rated first baseman as well. He came in at No. 6 on my AFL Top 25. Here’s Singleton at the 2012 Futures Game:
I can, at this point, shift things around as needed for the 2013 lists. Nothing is set in stone as of now. So I sent out a quick survey to a number of scouts, the very ones I poll to generate the Top 100 rankings and asked a simple question:
Jonathan Singleton gets a 50-game suspension for a “drug of abuse.” What does that do to his prospect status?
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of response. This was by no means a thorough and scientific poll. But I did hear back from six, all of whom gave me some variation of “Not much.”
A couple said that the only way it would really impact him is if it turned out he had a truly bad addiction to something (most feel the “drug of abuse” was marijuana), and that it had a negative impact on his performance. One pointed out that had it been a suspension for a PED, that would be different, since it could be argued that use of that substance led to his placement as a top prospect.
Two said it would lessen his value a bit to other clubs, that perhaps other teams would be less interested in acquiring him as a result.
But, for the most part, even if they gave Singleton demerits for being stupid, it wouldn’t really impact his status as a prospect. Why? He’s only 21 and even after serving his 50 games, he’ll still spend more than half of the season in Double or Triple-A as one of the younger regulars at that level. Prospects have missed more than that much time with an injury, one scout pointed out, and came back just as good. With no injury here, there’s no reason not to think Singleton will be fine on the field once he comes back.
So, maybe it slows Singleton’s path to the big leagues a bit, one that wasn’t necessarily blocked by anyone long-term (Carlos Pena, Brett Wallace and Rule 5 pick Nate Freiman are the in-house options at first as Spring Training approaches). But other than that, assuming Singleton can avoid such tresspasses in the future, most think he’ll be just fine.
Over the weekend, Perfect Game held their World Showcase down in Florida. Over the years, a number of players have come through this event, a sort of kickoff to the new year on the amateur scene. Last year, Carlos Correa helped himself at the World Showcase, and we all know how that turned out.
I spoke to a scout who was in Fort Myers over the weekend to get the low-down on who stood out at the event. He gave his feedback along with the qualification that this is an event VERY early in the process. “It’s like a Spring Training game. When was the last time these kids played in a game?” he said.
He also pointed out that because it’s so early, the top-flight pitchers in the Draft class don’t tend to come anymore. Still, there were a number of pitchers who were 90+, a good sign considering it’s only early January.
The best player of the weekend, hands down, was Oklahoma-area catcher Jon Denney, currently ranked No. 36 on MLB.com’s Top 50 2013 Draft prospects. Especially given the time of year, Denney stood out. He swing the bat very well, showed power in batting practice and also looked good in his two games. He was solid behind the plate, again impressive since it’s not like Denney’s spent time recently in Yukon, Okla. catching top-notch pitching. Denney had looked really good at the Area Code Games, but hadn’t performed quite as well in Jupiter, at Perfect Game’s WWBA World Championship in October. So this was a nice move back in the right direction. He looked like a first-round pick candidate over the weekend.
Two of the top players from Puerto Rico were in attendance as well, though neither seemed to look their best, or as good as they’ve looked in the past. Both are shortstops. Jan Hernandez, from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, and Edwin Diaz, from Ladislao Martinez Otero, were both OK over the weekend. Hernandez is considered the better prospect. He played very well in October and has been on the showcase circuit and is still considered one to watch closely this spring, even if he didn’t do that much to stand out in Ft. Myers.
There were some international players at the event as well and some stood out. The first is LHP Jacob Constante. He’s 6-foot-4, 215 lbs and was 90-93 mph with a solid slider. He’s eligible to sign right now. There were some questions about his age/documentation that teams were looking into (teams always want to be sure on this front now before moving forward), but there was a lot of interest. If he’s legit, he’s going to find a deal somewhere soon.
And there was 3B/1B Rafael Devers. He’s eligible to sign this coming July 2 (the start of the international signing period) and he’s definitely one to watch. He swung the bat very well, showing an ability to drive the ball. And that’s at age 15 against more advanced arms.
Finally, a nod to 2014. There were some underclassman there and it was Nick Gordon who stood out the most. He’s the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon and, obviously, brother of Dee. He, too, is an infielder, but his future is on the mound. He’ll be one to watch in ’14.
The participating teams for USA Baseball’s second annual National High School Invitational were announced today. It was a fantastic event that we covered fully in 2012, with stories, video and game broadcasts (some of which can be viewed in archive). The 2012 champions, Mater Dei, will be returning. Here’s the field:
Bingham High School (South Jordan, Utah)
Cathedral Catholic High School (San Diego)
Christian Brothers High School (Memphis, Tenn.)
Eustis High School (Eustis, Fla.)
Florida Christian School (Miami)
Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.)
Hamilton High School (Chandler, Ariz.)
Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.)
Jenks High School (Jenks, Okla.)
Lexington High School (Lexington, S.C.)
Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Milton High School (Milton, Ga.)
T.C. Roberson High School (Asheville, N.C.)
The Woodlands High School (The Woodlands, Texas)
Tullahoma High School (Tullahoma, Tenn.)
Venice High School (Venice, Fla.)
From the group of 16 schools, there are five members on MLB.com’s early 2013 Draft Top 50 Prospects list. They are:
3 Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson
12 Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Cathedral Catholic
30 Chris Okey, C, Eustis
41 Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington
50 Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei
There are a number of other exciting high school prospects who will attend, many of whom will likely land on MLB.com’s Top 100 overall list in the spring. Some other “names to know” who will be in Durham, NC, March 27-30 for the tournament:
Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Tullahoma
Nick Longhi, OF, Venice
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Mater Dei
Looking forward to checking out this tournament for the second straight year.
The B3 family made it back to Pittsburgh safely on Friday and we were able to enjoy a family dinner on Saturday. I’ve always felt fortunate to be able to have the kinds of feast many of us have grown accustomed to, but after our trip to Staten Island and Coney Island, I definitely felt I brought a lot more perspective to the table.
I wanted to leave you with the video from Coney Island, featuring former big leaguer John Halama and Nate Bliss from the Alliance for Coney Island. It was truly amazing what they’re doing there and again, thanks to Mr. Halama for coming out to assist.
I also wanted to remind everyone — a reminder to myself as well — that there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done in the areas devastated by Sandy. Keep that in mind as you make decisions on where to make your charitable donations moving forward.
After about five minutes on Coney Island today, that all vanished. When we decided to come, this is what I envisioned Thanksgiving Day could look like. Combined with our experiences on Staten Island yesterday, what happened today will give me and my kids (my mom, too!) some indellible memories.
The operation at MCU Park (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones) was impressive, thanks to the fine work of the Alliance for Coney Island (Once again, check out their site at coneyrecovers.org). They were handing out food, serving hot meals AND busing folks to a big catering hall for a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner. Simply amazing.
We got right to work, wherever help was needed, spending the next couple of hours bagging snacks, bagging hot turkey dinners and handing them out to people who came. And, sadly, there were a lot of people in need. I was told the line stretched out of the parking lot and down the street at 8 a.m., so even more kudos to the Alliance for Coney Island for serving all those people and helping them have some semblance of a holiday.
I’ll have video of this, with Halama and Nate Bliss from the Alliance for Coney Island, but didn’t have the wherewithal to get it done tonight. The work is just beginning. But I’ll tell you, New Yorkers are resilient. The positivity that came from these people, who have been through so much, was inspiring. As my son said so astutely, especially for an 11-year-old: “They’re all so appreciative.”
And that was my hope for this trip. To be inspired and hopefully inspire my kids. There’s a basic concept we talk about in our family — “living by our ideals” — and this felt like the perfect way to do this for this holiday. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of my children, watching them give food to families, to kids their own age at times, along with a smile. These two days are among my proudest as a parent.
So we’ll drive home tomorrow, and thanks to the wonderful Mrs. B3 and her parents (that’s right, I love my in-laws!), we’re having our own Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. Without their flexibility and support, this wouldn’t have been so easy to pull off.
And I can assure you, for me and hopefully my two kids, we will never be the same. The folks we served today were appreciative. But it us who should give thanks, to have the ability to help in a time of need, to lift spirits when they are down. As my daughter said, when I asked her about what it was like to give food to kids her own age, she said, “I thought about that if you hadn’t moved from New York, maybe we could have been hit by the hurricane.” In other words, like with any of life’s tragedies, you learn that you never know when it could be you who needs help. The fact that my kids understand that, and the need to always pay it forward, is priceless.
OK, I’ve waxed on about this for long enough, but don’t be shocked if I do throw in some more posts on baseball meeting social consciousness in the future.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
It was an eventful day on Wednesday for the B3 fam, our first full one since arriving in the NJ/NY area with a van full of canned goods. We drove to Staten Island, to the distribution center for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
The distribution center, by the way, is a sight to behold. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was an abandoned building. It’s been painted, wired for electricity and unbelievably well-organized, so folks can come in and find the things they need. I liked what the Siller Foundation was doing from afar, but seeing it up close, I am blown away by what they’ve already accomplished.
Earlier in the day, former Met great John Franco was kind enough to go to the MLB.com studios to talk about the hurricane relief work going on and how baseball is involved. He’s been working with the Siller Foundation closely and also talked about the work that ConeyRecovers is doing on Coney Island (we will be there tomorrow, so if you’re volunteering, let me know and say hello. Former big leaguer John Halama will be there to help out). It’s a great interview, so I encourage all to watch.
After dropping off all the cans — see slideshow below for the B3 kids in action — we then got the chance to ride around the surrounding area with Gary Perone of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Gary has been instrumental in getting Minor League Baseball involved in efforts here (Staten Island, Brooklyn and down in Lakewood, NJ — three minor league markets hit hard). He also helped organize the Siller Foundation’s distribution center. So many New Yorkers have stepped up to help out, and Gary has done more than most. Seeing the devastation up close after having just seen TV footage is jarring, to say the least. I remember being in New Orleans the spring after Katrina and feeling the same way. The areas we saw were startling, if not quite as horrible as the tour of the lower 9th Ward I was on back then (there are areas in Staten Island and other places that are), but in some ways it was more startling to see one spot seem almost “back to normal” and another spot nearby condemned. There’s a long way to go, for sure.
After that tour, we met up with the folks from the Siller Foundation — meeting Frank Siller was a thrill and everyone there greeted us as family — and then headed to one of three Thanksgiving dinners being held for victims of the hurricane on Staten Island. Joining us was Major Leaguer Jason Marquis and he was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes. On the video, you can also see some footage of the distribution center.
It was an unbelievable day and evening, one we’ll never forget. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow on Coney Island has in store. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I, for one, am feeling incredibly grateful for everything in my life and all the people in it, including the ones we just met who are doing such fine work here.
You’ll have to forgive me over the next few days, as I take a quick break from the usual prospect fodder and share with anyone who might be interested in what most of the B3 clan is doing over the upcoming holiday.
After watching the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, we wanted to do something. So we packed up the van and drove to New Jersey.
No, that’s not all. First, the van was packed with can goods collected at the B3 offspring’s school (and synagogue). It was a pretty good haul.
After that was all organized, it was time for the fam to get going. In tow was yours truly, the two B3 kids and B3′s mom. (Mrs. B3 is getting a well-deserved break).
We made it to Jersey safely, where B3 headquarters will be until Friday, when we drive back to Pittsburgh. Here’s what’s on tap and I’ll try to get on here to update with photos, even video, getting the kids into the act, as time permits.
- Travel to the MLB.com studios for an interview with John Franco and all the work the New Yorker (and former closer) is doing to help in the region.
- Drive the canned goods to Staten Island, dropping them off at the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation distribution center.
- Tour some areas in Staten Island hit by the storm.
- Accompany the Siller Foundation as they facilitate three different Thanksgiving Dinners for folks impacted by the hurricane. There should be some players, current and former, joining us (more on that tomorrow)
- Head to Coney Island and help the efforts staged by ConeyRecovers. They need volunteers Wednesday and Thursday in the lot by the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones (a huge tip of the cap to the Cyclones’ Gary Perone, who’s been working tirelessly to help people in Brooklyn and Staten Island while helping to initiate the idea for these dinners). So if you’re in the area, head out and help out. The B3 will be there on Thursday to help organize and distribute food. ConeyRecovers has a big Thanksgiving Day meal planned as well.
I’m back in Arizona, watching the final night game here at Scottsdale Stadium, and started thinking about alumni from this league and how they fare during awards season. So I did some digging…
While one was unanimous and one was close, it really shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were this year’s Rookie of the Year Award winners.
It also shouldn’t shock anyone that both are Arizona Fall League alumni. For six years in a row now, at least one of the Rookies of the Year played in the AFL previously.
The Trout-Harper perfecta isn’t even that unusual. In five of the last seven seasons, starting with Huston Street and Ryan Howard’s ROY Awards in 2005, both winners cut their teeth here. The other dynamic duos:
Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Braun, 2007
Evan Longoria and Geovany Soto, 2008
Andrew Bailey and Chris Coghlan, 2009
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, 2012
Trout and Harper have something in common with Street and Howard. In both cases, the Rookie of the Year tandems both played in the AFL the year prior to winning the top rookie honor. Not only that, in both instances, the award winners were AFL teammates. In 2004, Street and Howard were Phoenix Desert Dogs. Last year, Trout and Harper played in the same Scottsdale Scorpions outfield.
There have now been 24 Rookies of the Year who once called the Arizona Fall League home.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at Cy Young Award winners.
In case you missed them, here are two more AFL team reports:
The Yankees report focuses on Mark Montgomery. Their video report takes a look at Montgomery, Slade Heathcott and Dellin Betances:
Gary Brown is the focus of the Giants report. In the video report, Brown, Joe Panik and Chris Dominguez are featured.
Finally, Stars of the Day for Monday and Tuesday:
Monday: We’ll go with Kevin Siegrist of the Cardinals, for his four-inning, one run performance. The lefty gave up four hits, walked one and struck out eight. He’s now 10th in ERA (2.37) and second in strikeouts (27).
Tuesday: The aforementioned Slade Heathcott gets the nod after going 4-for-5, including his first homer of the fall. He drove in two and scored a run. Heathcott is now fifth in the league in batting average (.371) and second in OPS (1.084).