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Detroit Tigers State Of The Union Part 1: What Will The Offense Look Like In 2014?

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Despite losing to Boston in the American League Championship Series, the Detroit Tigers had a respectable season in 2013 finishing the Regular Season with a solid record of 93-69, 24 games above .500 and AL Central Winners. To top that off, they also beat the Oakland Athletics in 5 games to advance past the ALDS .

By Dan Wanser (MLB Reports Writer)   

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Moving into 2014, the Detroit Tigers look to have a season which takes them past the ALCS where their 2013 run ended, and potentially all the way to the Fall Classic in November which was just outside their grasp.

The Tigers have made it to the ALCS for 3 straight years, and will attempt to be the 1st franchise since the Yankees made it to 4 consecutive League Championships from 1998 – 2001 in the American League next campaign.

With great players on the diamond everyday like Miguel Cabrera, newcomer Ian Kinsler, and Right Fielder Torii Hunter, Detroit is poised to make another deep playoff run not only in the upcoming season, but in many years to come.

Looking back at the 2013 lineup, there isn’t much that needs to be changed so here’s what I think their 2014 starters will look like.

2013 Detroit Tigers Pump-Up Video:

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Looking Back At Some Of The Highlights From The Marlins 2013 Season

 

The Marlins season has gone as planned, in the sense that they have been absolutely terrible; however, that's not to say that they haven't had some memorable highlights and played some tremendous games.

The Marlins season has gone as planned, in the sense that they have been absolutely terrible; however, that’s not to say there haven’t been  some memorable highlights and played some tremendous games.

Sam Evans ( Baseball Writer and Marlins, Mariners Correspondent):

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No matter how bad anyone thought the Marlins would be at the start of the season, things have managed to turn out worse.

With proven players like Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison failing to perform at the levels they are capable of and the organization starting a laughable infield for the majority of the season, 2013 has been one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

However, that’s not to say there haven’t been memorable, enjoyable, and even unforgettable Miami games and performances that have taken place in the 2013 regular season.

Here’s a look at the few unforgettable games and bright young names that will be remembered in years to come.

Marlins Outlast Mets in 20-innings

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Anthony Rizzo: His Impact On The Chicago Cubs

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Tuesday April 30th, 2013

Rizzo looks in 2013 to improve on his strong short 2012 campaign, in which he hit .285 with 15 HR and 48 RBI.

Rizzo looks in 2013 to improve on his strong short 2012 campaign, in which he hit .285 with 15 HR and 48 RBI.  He has struggled to carry a great Batting Average – but has launched 8 HRs and added 19 RBI in just 90 At-Bats heading into Monday Nights action, We at the ‘Reports,’ are calling him the NL Mendoza Line Masher.  The AL Mendoza Line Masher is definitely Adam Dunn.

By Bernie Olshansky (MLB Reports Writer):

Over the past few years, Chicago Cubs fans have not had a lot to cheer about. Anthony Rizzo is starting to break this trend. Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs from the San Diego Padres in early 2012.

The team sent Andrew Cashner—most notably—to the Padres and got Rizzo in return along with minor league pitcher Zach Cates.

Rizzo is exactly what the Cubs need in a power-hitting first baseman, and should hold down the position in the years to come. Andrew Cashner was a prized prospect at the time of the trade, but the Cubs evidently thought Rizzo was more talented and held more value.

The Padres wound up with Yonder Alonso to man First Base, so they did not lose a significant amount in the trade.

Anthony Rizzo Highlights and the song “Go Cubs Go”

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Are The Red Sox Mismanaging Their Shortstop Position?

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Thursday April.11/2013

Is Jose Iglesias the best fielding Shortstop in baseball? Maybe I'm biased but I believe he is. Keith Law called him the best defensive prospect he had ever seen. His defense has carried him thus far in his professional career, but I think his bat is ready for the Majors in 2013. It might not be at its full potential, but it is developed enough.

Is Jose Iglesias the best fielding Shortstop in baseball? Maybe I’m biased but I believe he is. Keith Law called him the best defensive prospect he had ever seen. His defense has carried him thus far in his professional career, but I think his bat is ready for the Majors in 2013. It might not be at its full potential, but it is developed enough.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Red Sox Correspondent): 

The Boston Red Sox have been off to one of their best starts in recent memory so far in 2013. At this early juncture in the season they are still in 1st place in the AL East and for the most part are performing like a team with playoff aspirations.

A lot of this is due to the reemergence of veterans who had down 2013 campaigns but there are also a developing core of young players contributing such as Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Jose Iglesias.

While batting .450 (9-20), Jose Iglesias couldn’t have done anything more to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Despite his great start he was sent down to Pawtucket (AAA) to make room for Stephen Drew who is coming off injury (concussion).

Jose Iglesias Highlights: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

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Marlins Make the Wrong Choice in Promoting Jose Fernandez

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Just two years ago, Jose Fernandez was pitching for Alonso HS in Tampa, Florida

Just two years ago, Jose Fernandez was pitching for Alonso HS in Tampa, Florida.

By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

Jose Fernandez is one of the top ten prospects in all of baseball for a variety of reasons. He has a fastball that can touch 98 MPH and a nasty curveball that will baffle hitters at any level. This weekend, the Miami Marlins promoted to their starting rotation after he continued to impress their front office in Spring Training. Having never played above High-A, Fernandez will suddenly be forced into the spotlight in the N.L. East. While it may seem that the Marlins are making the right choice in bringing him up because of how awful and unexciting their team will be in 2013, the reality is the Marlins are making a massive mistake.

Marlins-Jose Fernandez talks Spring Training 2013:


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Seattle Mariners Roster in 2013: State Of The Union:

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Thursday, January.31/2013

Felix Hernandez is still the Mariners best player without a doubt. Will he get some help shouldering the load in 2013? Either way, all of baseball should be watching when King Felix pitches, he is a true marvel on the mound.

Felix Hernandez is still the Mariners best player without a doubt. Will he get some help shouldering the load in 2013? Either way, all of baseball should be watching when King Felix pitches, he is a true marvel on the mound.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Intern):

Seattle Mariners fans must be pretty amazing, Felix Hernandez sticking with their team through recent times. The Mariners were established in 1977 and have made the playoffs just 4 times in their history. They were the AL West champs 3 times (’95, ’97, ’01) and winners of the Wild Card once (’00). They have never won a World Series, or even an AL Pennant, and in 2012 they shipped off a fan favorite, Ichiro Suzuki, to the Yankees. The AL West is a tough division. The Rangers and Athletics made the playoffs last year, and the Angels just landed the prize of the off-season in slugger Josh Hamilton. I guess one bright spot is the Astros are moving to the AL West, so the Mariners won’t be rebuilding within the brutal division alone.

The Seattle Mariners hopes and dreams start where they have for years now, on the shoulders of King Felix. Felix Hernandez is no doubt an Ace. He has pitched 200+ innings every year since ’08, and had a sub 4.00 ERA every year since ’07. Hernandez won the AL Cy Young in 2010, and is a perennial contender for the award. Last year the Seattle fireballer threw his first Perfect Game. Hernandez will once again be atop the Mariners rotation, which as of now figures to include Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, and Hector Noesi.

Hisashi Iwakuma was a pleasant surprise for the Mariners in 2012. He wasn’t a greatly sought after oversees free agent last year, overshadowed greatly by fellow Japanese hurler Yu Darvish, but proved to be a great signing. Iwakuma started 2012 in the bullpen until he later earned a spot in the team’s rotation. Iwakuma managed a very respectable 3.16 ERA in the 125.1 innings he split between the rotation and the pen. This success is part of the reason the Mariners resigned the pitcher to a 2YR/14 Million Dollar deal this past November. He figures to hold down the 2nd spot in the rotation and should do just fine if 2012 was a sign of things to come.

Blake Beavan is still just 23 Years Old, but he already has 41 Major League Starts under his belt which gives the club hope he can hold down the 3rd or 4th slot in the rotation. Beavan clearly has the talent which is what made him a 1st Round draft pick out of high school for the Rangers, and the reason the Mariners made sure he was a part of the package they received in return for Cliff Lee in 2010. Beavan’s 2012 stats won’t impress a lot of people, but they were a good start for a young player like himself to build and improve upon.

Felix Hernandez Highlights:  Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised

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Moises Sierra Has a Future in the Majors: A Blue Jays Work in Progress

Sunday August 26th, 2012

Sam Evans: When Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos traded away both Travis Snider and Eric Thames at the trade deadline, it created an opportunity for unheralded twenty-three year old outfielder Moises Sierra. Sierra has a chance to show Toronto that he should be part of their future in these final couple months of the season. With his 70-grade arm and his ability to produce runs at a solid pace, Sierra could have a job in the majors for years to come. However, Sierra has a lot of work to do to become a candidate for playing time at Rogers Centre in 2013.

Moises Sierra was signed by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005. This was before the Blue Jays dominated the scouting world, so Sierra has never been an “Anthopoulos guy”. From 2006 to 2008, Sierra had some rough numbers for different teams, but he showed enough to be promoted from the DSL, in 2006, to earning a starting job in High-A for the 2009 season. Sierra had a 122 wRC+ at High-A in 2009, but he missed most of the 2010 season due to a stress fracture in his leg and a couple of other minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 Catching Prospects in Baseball

Friday August 17th, 2012

Codey Harrison (Lead MiLB Prospect Analyst) – The second installment of a 3-part series featuring the top 5 prospects from middle of the field positions. This week we are focusing on one of the hardest positions in all of baseball to find superstars at. One of the biggest reasons is that catchers take a lot longer to progress defensively than any other position in baseball. Bryce Harper who was known for being a catcher in high school was drafted as an outfielder by the Nationals so he could make it to the Major Leagues much faster. Being able to call a game behind the plate, and knowing the angles that are needed to block pitches in the dirt can take several years to master. The wear and tear on a catcher can be a vigorous one, as most catchers only catch 140 games an entire season even if they are healthy the entire season. With current catchers in MLB who are stars like Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Buster Posey, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, and Miguel Montero, it’s time to take a look at the potential future catching stars who replace the current MLB All-Star catchers. Plus teams look to move star catchers from their primary position to save their bats and extend their careers in the process.


Travis d’Arnaud (Toronto Blue Jays AAA) - Travis d’Arnaud was the prize prospect along with RHP Kyle Drabek the Blue Jays acquired in the Roy Halladay trade. d’Arnaud was named the 2011 Eastern League best catcher by the leagues managers. For the position, d’Arnaud has plenty of future plus tools (Hit, Power, Arm, and Fielding), and is on pace to supplant current Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia by the start of the 2013 season. d’Arnaud is currently on the disabled list, but for the season with AAA Las Vegas he’s batting .333, .380 OBP, .595 SLG, with 16 home runs, and 52 RBIs. One of the very few things scouts are drawn away from d’Arnaud is his approach at the plate, as he is very aggressive having walked on 19 times, while striking out 59 times on the season. Read the rest of this entry

Weekly 6-Pack MLB Prospects: Hot/Cold Sheet – Week of August 13TH

Monday August 13th, 2012

Codey Harrison:  This is the second installment of the weekly prospect hot/cold sheet. We will feature 3 prospects that are on fire, and 3 prospects that are ice-cold. Our list of players will only include those who are still prospect eligible (less than 130 MLB at bats, less than 50 innings pitched at the MLB level). Featured players are generally players who are highly regarded amongst the minors and are regarded as legit prospects. This week’s hottest player goes to Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Tyler Skaggs who has posted a 1.70 ERA in 8 AAA starts.

HOT PROSPECTS:

Tyler Skaggs LHP Diamondbacks - The prize prospect in the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels, Tyler Skaggs has been dominant in his 2 season in the Diamondbacks organization, especially of late with AAA Reno. Skaggs has the kind of stuff scouts drool over, 3 pitches that grade out from above average to plus, to compliment his above average command. In Skaggs’ last 3 starts, he has gone 20 innings, allowing 2 runs on 11 hits, with a very impressive 25 strikeouts to only 7 walks. Tyler Skaggs is considered the best southpaw of the loaded Dbacks pitching prospects entering 2012 (Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley). Read the rest of this entry

Houston…We Have a Problem: The Astros Are in for a Painful Rebuild

Thursday August 9th, 2012

John Burns:  With a 36-76 record the Houston Astros have been the laughing-stock of baseball this season. Houston is going into a complete rebuilding phase after trading the very few veterans they had, such as: Carlos Lee to Miami, Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh, Brett Myers to Chicago (White Sox), Chris Johnson to Arizona, and J.A. Happ to Toronto. It is safe to say that Houston was definitely a seller at the recent non-waiver trade deadline and they made the right decision. They had one of the best deadlines in my opinion because they got rid of players that they were not going to win with and got very talented prospects in return. With the load of prospects Houston received, they will most definitely need several of their new young players to pan out if Houston plans to contend in the A.L. West one day. Oh yeah… I forgot to mention the worst team in baseball is going to one of the best divisions in baseball in 2013. A difficult situation is about to get a whole lot tougher. Read the rest of this entry

The MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Month for July 2012

Sunday August 5th, 2012

Codey Harrison: In an effort to bring you the excitement of the minor leagues’ best players and how well they are performing on the field, we are introducing a monthly minor league players of the month feature. From the very well-known prospects, to the not so well-known: if they are raking at the plate, or dominating on the mound for an entire month, they have a chance of winning our monthly honor. Now it’s time to find out who we feel dominated the MiLB in the month of July:

MiLB PITCHER OF THE MONTH:  JULY 2012 Read the rest of this entry

Weekly 6-Pack MLB Prospects: Hot/Cold Sheet – Week of August 4th

Saturday August 4th, 2012

Codey Harrison:  This is the first installment of the weekly prospect hot/cold sheet. We will feature 3 prospects that are on fire, and 3 prospects that are ice-cold. List’s of player’s will only include players who are still prospect eligible, less than 130 MLB at bats, less than 50 innings pitched at the MLB level. Featured players are generally players who are highly regarded amongst the minors and are regarded as legit prospects. Dylan Bundy who ranks 2nd on our mid-season top-50 prospects list gets the nod for the hot prospect after his best outing as a pro.

HOT PROSPECTS:

Dylan Bundy RHP Orioles - The 4th overall pick of the 2011 first year player draft has been dominant all season, but especially dominant of late. Bundy had arguably his best start as a pro his last time on the mound going 6 2/3 Innings, allowing 2 hits, 0 earned runs, while walking 2, and striking out 8. Overall in his last 2 starts, Dylan Bundy has posted very good numbers. 11 innings, 9 hits, 2 runs (1ER), 3 walks, and 14 strikeouts. Bundy signed a big league contract with the Orioles and management hasn’t ruled out calling up Bundy in September if Baltimore is still in the playoff race. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Trade Deadline Update #5 7/28: Segura Traded, Scutaro to San Francisco, Reds Looking for Leadoff Hitter

Saturday July 28th, 2012

Sam Evans: With the MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline coming up on Tuesday, let’s look at what trades have recently happened, and what could happen in the coming days:

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Mike Olt is One of the Best Hitting Prospects in the Minors

Sunday July 22nd, 2012

Sam Evans:  Rangers’ prospect Mike Olt is seemingly blocked in Texas. However, with his MLB-ready power bat, he’ll force Texas to either start him or trade him in the next year. Olt has tremendous raw power and a sweet swing that help make him one of the most advanced hitters in the minor leagues. It won’t be long before Mike Olt has established himself as a premier power hitter in the majors.

Mike Olt was born in New Haven, Connecticut, which isn’t exactly a baseball hotspot. At Branford High School, Olt hit .475 his senior year, and set a school record for single-season hits. Coming out of high school, Olt was undrafted so he took a scholarship to the University of Connecticut. In his first season with the Huskies, Olt struggled at third base, but was a monster at the plate. In fifty-four games, Olt hit .318 with a .577 slugging percentage. As a sophomore, Olt started to battle some injuries, and as a result, he came back to down to earth a little. He continued to struggle with his defense at third base. In his junior season at UCONN, Olt hit .318 with a .659 slugging percentage, and became the UConn career home run leader. Olt was drafted by the Rangers with the 49th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur draft. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Mid-Season MLB Top-50 Prospects

Saturday July 21st, 2012


Codey Harrison:  A Texas Rangers shortstop prospect tops our list of the top-50 MLB prospects. Jurickson Profar is so highly thought of by scouts, that they believe the Rangers may end up trading 23-year-old 2-time All-star shortstop, Elvis Andrus. Profar has all five tools (hit, power, speed, glove, and arm) and he’s proven he knows how to use all five. He’s currently raking in AA Frisco at only 19 years of age, posting monstrous numbers of .297 AVG, .371 OBP, .500 Slug, 22 doubles, 7 triples, 12 home runs, and 44 walks to 59 strikeouts. Most believe he will be a gold glove caliber top, or middle of the order run producing machine that is a perennial All-Star. Time will tell on this prospect. But in a minor leagues full of “can’t miss” prospects, Profar gets out top vote at this stage of the season.

This list of the 2012 mid-season MLB Top-50 prospects does not include 2012 first year player draft players. Only players with less than 130 ABs, or 50 IP at the major league level qualify. All stats are 2012 MiLB stats as of 7/21/12:

  1. SS – Jurickson Profar (AA Rangers) .297/.371/.500, 12 HR, 10 SB
  2. RHP –  Dylan Bundy (A+ Orioles) 5-3, 1.74 ERA, 72.1 IP, 88K
  3. OF – Wil Myers (AAA Royals) .317/.396/.654, 28 HR, 5 SB
  4. SS – Manny Machado (AA Orioles) .257/.343/.410, 8 HR, 12 SB
  5. RHP – Gerrit Cole (AA Pirates) 7-4, 3.07 ERA, 88 IP, 90 K Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Draft Picks: Signings, Failures, and Surprises

 

Monday July 16th, 2012


Bernie Olshansky: The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft was a good one for all of the teams except the Pirates. Unfortunately, the Pirates couldn’t ink their first round pick, pitcher Mark Appel. Pittsburgh will receive the ninth overall pick in next year’s draft, and will have to deal with the reality of losing out on a top arm. Here’s a list of some unsigned draft picks and some surprises who ended up signing:

PLAYERS THAT DIDN’T SIGN

Mark Appel, Eighth overall, Pirates

Appel was touted as a possible first-overall pick, with a plus fastball and three years of college experience. Once the Astros passed him up, many thought the Twins would pick him at second overall. When the Twins selected outfielder Byron Buxton, the Mariners seemed to be the next to have Appel as a steal. On and on this went until Appel fell to eighth overall. I couldn’t believe it, and I’m sure many were stunned. Appel seemed like a good fit for many of the teams that passed on him, but good for the Pirates—they got a steal. Now they had a possible Gerrit Cole/Mark Appel one-two punch for years to come. For the Pirates, there was a lot to be optimistic about. For Appel, not so much. In my opinion, after dropping to eighth, he was upset enough to decide to return to Stanford and try to build on a 10-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in order to be selected higher in next year’s draft. Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Urkel in Baseball, Batting Stance Guy, Beane, Future of Dempster, Hamilton’s Speed, Gathright Released and Rating Prospects

Monday July 16th, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

Jonathan Hacohen: Ok, I am going to admit it. I am 110% wiped from last night’s sleepover. The Toronto Blue Jays, like many MLB squads hold yearly sleepovers on the field. The Jays had theirs last night. Second year in a row for me and I will admit, after playing catch on the field till 1:30a.m., I am still not recovered. Call it getting old, but sometime the body just doesn’t bounce back like we want it to. That being said, the show must go on. So with apologies I am a little late this week on ATR, but better late than never!

Before I jump into your weekly baseball questions, here are some of my random baseball thoughts:

I was watching Ben Francisco of the Toronto Blue Jays last night as he was signing autographs for the fans. I wasn’t sure 100% who he was right away. But damn, he looked familiar. I looked and I looked. Then I realized what Chuck Booth (one of our Lead Writers here on MLB reports) had told me earlier in the year. Jaleel White. Steve Urkel. Man Chuck, you were bang on. Take a look at the comparisons:

Ben Francisco:

THEN JALEEL WHITE:

Ben Francisco is not the Steve Urkel type nerd. Rather, he looks like the cool and sauve Stefan. Yes, I did enjoy TGIF’s Family Matters back in the day. Whatever became of Jaleel White? Is he Ben Francisco? Or is this just a baseball urban legend? And whatever became of Laura Winslow? If you locate either one, please let Ben know. Until then, I am fairly certain Jaleel White is playing ball in Toronto. Call him Stefan…see what he says!

If you are not howling with laughter at this point, I want to introduce you to a good friend of MLB reports. If you love baseball, you have seen his work on YouTube and throughout the internet. He is a published author and all-around good guy. To his friends he is Gar Ryness. To the rest of the baseball world, he is the one and only “Batting Stance Guy”. Here is a little clip from some of BSG’s most recent work:

How are you feeling now? I know…your ribs hurt, tears are streaming down your eyes. Yes, that is the magic of Gar. The man has the ability to duplicate any batting stance going. Watching his impressions is a baseball theatrical treat. The fact that he is hilarious is an added bonus. Over the coming weeks, I will bring you more magic Batting Stance Guy clips. If you want to learn more about him in the interim, check out his site: battingstanceguy.com.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB All-Star Futures Game Preview

Thursday July 5th, 2012

John Burns: On July8th 2012, the 14th annual MLB All-Star Futures Game will be held at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

For those who do not know about the Futures Game, it is where a team of minor league baseball prospects from the United States and a team of prospects from other countries in the World compete against each other in a 9-inning exhibition game. The rosters for both teams are picked by Baseball America and all 30 teams must have at least one representative.

Here are some highly regarded names of players that will be playing in this year’s Futures Game: Dylan Bundy (BAL), Manny Machado (BAL), Billy Hamilton (CIN), Nick Castellanos (DET), Wil Myers (KC), Zack Wheeler (NYM), Gerrit Cole (PIT), Jameson Taillon (PIT), Danny Hultzen (SEA), Enny Romero (TB), and Anthony Gose (TOR). Read the rest of this entry

Wil Myers is Off to a Tremendous Start in the Minors: Royals Prospect is On the Verge

Saturday June 2nd, 2012

Sam Evans: A couple of years ago, the Kansas City Royals had not only the best farm system at the time, but maybe one of the best farm systems in the history of baseball.  Fast forward a few years later and the Royals still have a bright future, and a lot of their prospects have graduated to the major league level. One of their top prospects, Wil Myers, is on the verge of the major leagues after tearing up both Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. If he can stay healthy, he has the potential to become a perennial All-Star.

Wil Myers was born in High Point, North Carolina in December of 1990. After four seasons of baseball at Wesleyan Christian High School, Myers committed to the University of South Carolina, which was at the time, was one of the best baseball programs in the country. After the Royals selected Myers in the third round of the 2009 Amateur draft, it took a $2 million signing bonus to get Myers to turn professional. Despite the high cost, it was evident that the Royals got a very talented player in the third round of a strong draft. Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Draft Preview

Wednesday May 30th, 2012

Bryan Sheehan (MLB Writer): For those who may not know, the MLB’s first-year-player draft starts June 4th. While there may not be a huge name like Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg to create excessive buzz, this year’s draft should be interesting. The first overall pick belongs to the 2011 worst Houston Astros, who surprisingly have one of the shallowest farm systems in baseball. Though the Hunter Pence trade brought in their number one and two prospects, Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton, respectively, the organization is lacking in prospect depth overall. Picking behind the ‘Stros are the Minnesota Twins, with the Mariners and Orioles following. Predicting a draft, especially where there is no clear-cut “number one” prospect is difficult, to say the least. Teams aren’t drafting to fill immediate needs, so much as to bolster a weak area in their organization. For example: it may seem logical for the Phillies to draft a power-hitting first baseman with the 40th pick since Ryan Howard is injured, but really a 2012 draftee wouldn’t be MLB ready for a few years and therefore irrelevant to Howard’s injury. Plus with the changes in this year’s draft as to salaries, teams will no longer have “recommended slots” to play with. Translation: signability will play a bigger part in this year’s draft than ever before. With that being said, here are my predictions for the first ten names to be called on Monday.

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Michael Choice Has Tremendous Power: A’s Prospect is On the Verge

Sunday May 27th, 2012

Sam Evans: Oakland Athletics prospect Michael Choice was drafted by the A’s 10th overall in the 2010 MLB Amateur draft. Looking back at the pick, most of the players drafted before Choice have risen quicker through their respective systems, but Choice still looks like a nice selection by Billy Beane and his scouting department. Michael Choice has 70 grade power, so even though his tools are raw, it’s hard not to like a future All-Star.

Michael Choice was born in 1989 in Forth Worth, Texas. Being a young Texan outfielder with power projection, it must be pretty difficult to go unnoticed out high school. Nonetheless, Choice was under the radar coming out of high school and he eventually ended up at the University of Texas-Arlington. At Texas-Arlington, Choice began to turn some heads. In three college seasons, or 175 games, Choice hit thirty-four homers and had a batting average over .375 in all three years.  His junior year at Texas-Arlington, in 2010, Choice drew seventy-six walks and he only struck out fifty-four times.

Coming into the draft, Choice was considered by most as a top fifteen prospect, so the A’s selecting him at #10 didn’t surprise many. The player that went before Choice, Karsten Whitson did not sign. The player that went after Choice, Deck McGuire, is a little overrated in my opinion, but he has reached Double-A already in the Toronto organization. Read the rest of this entry

Twins Pitching Prospects to Remember

Tuesday May 1st, 2012

Sam Evans: The Twins have made it obvious they have no plans of contending this year. Their whole infield is pretty depressing and the pitching staff has looked awful. Minnesota doesn’t have an amazing farm system, but they do have some pitchers that probably will be in the majors in the coming years. Here is a review of a couple of the top Twins pitching prospects.

Madison Boer, RHP, A-Ball: Madison Boer is a twenty-two year old right-handed throwing starting pitcher. He was drafted in the 2011 2nd round out of the University of Oregon but he was born in Minnesota. His fastball sits in the low-90’s and he also has a slider and a splitter. Last year, in fifteen games pitching in relief in Rookie ball, Boer struck out thirty-one of the sixty-seven batters he faced.

In 2012, Boer has gotten off to another hot start. Facing A-Ball hitters, Boer has posted a 3.31 FIP. Unfortunately, his strikeout rates have not been close to where they were in 2011. This year, Boer has faced one hundred and sixteen batters, and only struck out twenty. He’s only had five starts, but his strikeout rates will definitely be something to watch this year. Overall, Boer could turn into a solid #3 starter for the Twins. I’m sure the Twins would be thrilled if they could get that kind of value from a second round pick. Read the rest of this entry

NL East: Value Picks, Up-and-Coming Players and Red Flags in Fantasy Baseball

Wednesday February 29th, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The National League East is filled with many big name fantasy players, particularly the Philadelphia Phillies with their starting rotation and hitters like Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, and Pence. However, this division is intriguing, because teams like the Braves have a plethora of up-and-coming players. Furthermore, scattered throughout the rest of the division are players who have potential to provide sneaky good value. Read the rest of this entry

NL Central: Value Picks, Up-and-Coming Players and Red Flags in Fantasy Baseball

Tuesday February 21st, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The NL Central loses a lot of its offensive firepower in 2012 with the departure of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Not to mention Ryan Braun’s suspension, which makes him a tough player to value come draft day. I still struggle to put a price on Braun in my league, because if his value falls too low than he can be had at a price that will be very keeper friendly in 2013. However, despite the loss of some top dollar talent, the six-team NL Central division is loaded with prospects and potential sleeper picks. At the same time there are a number of newcomers and other players who I have identified having inflated values. Read the rest of this entry

The Future of the Kansas City Royals

Thursday January 12th, 2012

Sam Evans: Over the last couple years, the Royals have finally begun the climb towards respectability in the baseball world. Not especially for their major league team, but more so due to the volume of minor league talent they have recently accumulated. In 2011, both Baseball America and Keith Law ranked the Royals first in their annual organization prospect rankings. Now, with some of their top prospects already having graduated to the majors, it’s time to see what these guys can do.

Royals GM Dayton Moore has made some questionable, and to be fair, inexplicable moves since he took over in 2006. For example, he signed Jose Guillen and Gil Meche to contracts where both players were making over ten million dollars a year. On the positive side, Moore has been valorous enough to outbid teams for young, international talent. Despite his somewhat ineffective grading of major-league talent, Moore has acquired the pieces to assemble a playoff contender in the next coming years through his development of the farm.

Sometimes people think that Moneyball was all about on-base percentage. Actually, it is about the A’s finding a way to compete with teams with larger payrolls by exploiting market inefficiencies. It seems that over the last couple of years, other small-market teams have found a way to beat the system by paying more for talented international players. The Royals have used that, along with numerous other scouting techniques, in order to attain the talent that they otherwise could not ordinarily afford.

The Royals have talent everywhere, but most of it is a couple of good years away from making a difference in the majors. Sure, in 2012, the Royals will have young studs like Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain playing every day. But they are definitely not ready yet to compete with the Tigers. Kansas City has an unexciting rotation heading into spring training, that will be probably be one of the worst in the American League, given that too many inexperienced players will be counted on to play above their heads.

The truth is that the Royals have some of the top talented prospects in the game. The top prospects don’t always pan out, while some of the lesser-known ones turn into superstars.  You just have to hope to have the right combination of  breakout players on your team to succeed.  The Royals have built a bottom-heavy organization that is a few years away from competing. Royals fans have a lot to be excited about… in the future. 2012 will most likely be another sub-.500 year for the Royals, but it will be filled with highlights and the promise of a future playoff contending team.  At least there is hope and promise!

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

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2012 MLB Hitting Prospects to Target in Fantasy Baseball

Monday November 7, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  Looking ahead to 2012, there are several potential rookies and young players that have the ability to provide value in your fantasy league, particularly as keepers.

A name to keep on your radar is Michael Taylor, an outfielder in the Oakland Athletics system. Not only do I like Taylor’s potential 5-category skill set, but with Coco Crisp, Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus all entering free agency, he will likely be given the opportunity to play in 2012. Listed at 6’5” and 255 pounds, Taylor has displayed good, but not great, power in the minor leagues. However, he jumped from 6 home runs in 464 at bat during his 2010 AAA season to 16 home runs in 349 at bats in 2011. The 2011 season was cut short due to injury, but Taylor displayed the run producing ability he will need to be successful in the major leagues. Furthermore, he is a good base runner and has the potential to be a 20/20 player. With that said, the .816 OPS he posted in last year in AAA is a little worrisome, as he will face much more challenging pitching in the major leagues. All in all, he is an intriguing prospect due to the fact that he should have the opportunity to play in Oakland and has potential to perform in all five fantasy categories.

Taylor’s AAA teammate, Chris Carter, is another name to keep your eye on. Carter has potential to be an elite home run hitter. He has hit a total of 170 home runs in 754 minor league games. However, he will need to improve shorten his strike zone and make more contact to succeed in the major leagues. Despite mashing the home runs, he has not shown much progress in improving his plate discipline during his long minor league career. But in 2012, Carter will most likely be given a shot and could therefore be a cheap source of power in fantasy leagues. However, Carter’s high strike out totals and minor league track record likens him to the “Quadruple-A” type of players, a la Kila Ka’aihue.

A young player that excites me for 2012 is Dayan Viciedo, who garnered a little buzz after being called up in 2011. Although only 22 years old and still very raw, Viciedo has hit over 20 home runs in each of has past two years at AAA. He is also improved his plate discipline and is likely to be given the opportunity to play in 2012 with Juan Pierre unlikely to return.

Across town in Chicago, Brett Jackson is an intriguing player for the Chicago Cubs organization. Splitting time between AA and AA, he hit 20 home runs and stole 21 bases in 2012. Furthermore, he improved after his call up to AAA, where he his .297 in 67 games. He also showed improved plate discipline at the higher level with a 15.2% walk percentage, although he will need to cut down on his strikeout rate. He is still young and still has power to develop, but he is already skilled enough to join a weak Cubs outfield rotation.

The last name that I will discuss is one that you should already be familiar with, Mike Trout. There has been a lot of hype around Trout, who hit 11 home runs and stole bases in just 91 games for the Angels AA team in 2011. Trout was named the Minor League Players of the Year and even had success in limited time with the Angles in 2011. Although the Angels outfield is crowded, he is guaranteed to find his way into the rotation and should eventually play everyday. He has the potential to be elite in all five categories, starting in 2012. He is surely to be drafted in your league, and with all of the existing hype, he could perhaps be overvalued.  Just remember that the hype is warranted and he is a future fantasy monster, although it remains to be seen how much of his potential he taps into in 2012.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Boston Red Sox: Who is on Their Radar? Jimenez to Indians and Trade Deadline Summary

Saturday July 30, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):   With the deadline only a day away, I expect a flurry of moves in the next 24 hours, and the Boston Red Sox are sure to get involved.  With injuries to Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, combined with the inability of John Lackey to get outs, the BoSox have been in on every rumored starting pitcher being moved.  Here’s a look at Boston’s targets, and who they would have to give up in order to consummate a deal.

 

Hiroki Kuroda

The Japanese import could bring a good haul for the LA Dodgers, and it is believed that they are looking for a young catcher or a starting pitcher in return.  I don`t believe the Red Sox would give up Anthony Ranaudo for him, but it is the Red Sox, and their system is fairly stacked.  Kuroda isn`t a top line starter, but could fit in nicely behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester right now.  In his last 10 starts, Kuroda is 1-8 with a 2.66 ERA, giving up more than three runs in a start only once.  He is on pace to break the 200 inning mark for the first time in his MLB career.

Prospects

I could see the Dodgers wanted a package that could involve Kyle Weiland, who has been at AAA, including a couple of underwhelming starts for the Red Sox.  He has been dominant in AAA, and while his ceiling might not be very high, Weiland could be a piece used to obtain Kuroda.

Former top pick Andrew Miller could be involved as well, as he has shown flashes of the potential that the Tigers saw to draft him 6th overall in the 2006 draft.

 

Jason Vargas (SEA), Aaron Harang (SDP), Jeremy Guthrie (BAL), Erik Bedard (SEA)

Vargas is another pitcher who hasn’t had much luck this year, going 6-9 with a 4.09 ERA.  He too is on pace to break the 200 inning plateau for the first time in his career.  He gives up a lot of fly balls and home runs, so he might not be the best fit for Fenway Park.

Harang has made the most of his move to spacious Petco Park.  In the pitcher’s haven, his ERA is 2.92, as opposed to 4.31 on road games.  Harang in Boston might not be a good fit due to his propensity to give up the long ball, but, whether it is due to the park or not, he has only given up 9 homeruns so far this year.

Playing the last five years in Baltimore will never help your win-loss record, but Guthrie has been a reliable arm for the Orioles over that time.  His career ERA of 4.16 while mostly pitching in the AL East proves that he could be a capable pitcher for the Red Sox.  Although he is 5-14, he has pitched fairly well this year, and could be great addition to the back-end of the Red Sox rotation.

Bedard’s once promising career has been derailed by injury after injury.  He has always possessed tremendous stuff, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy.  In his last ten starts, he has thrown 58 2/3 innings, striking out 64.  Bedard has never amassed 200 innings, and his career high is 196, in 2006.

All of these pitchers are available and the Red Sox are in talks with each of the respective teams.  Many of the prospects mentioned in this article will be in play, as well as Bryce Brentz, a powerful outfielder in high-A.  He needs to cut down on strikeouts but he is a solid right fielder for the future.

 

Reed Johnson

The Cubs` outfielder could bring a spark of energy to the club.  J.D. Drew is on the DL, again, so they do need an outfielder if they want to upgrade over Josh Reddick or Darnell McDonald.  Johnson plays great defense and is hitting the ball pretty well this year, so he could slot into right field well at Fenway.

23-year-old catcher Ryan Lavarnway could be involved in a deal. He is a young catcher that isn`t too far away from the big leagues.  Lavarnway has a lot of power as shown by his 27 home runs already this year.   He is known as a good game caller and a smart catcher.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez 

Ubaldo Jimenez has tremendous upside and is signed to a team-friendly contract through 2014.  The Colorado Rockies are asking for a prospect haul that most teams can’t even match.  At this point, only the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, together with the Red Sox are involved in talks with the Rockies.  Although just 6-9 this year with a 4.20 ERA, he has made some great strides in the last couple of months.  In his last 10 starts, he is 5-4 with 3.47 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings.  Jimenez has lowered his ERA almost a full run during that time.  Although some teams worry about his delivery, the big righty has been durable, throwing at least 198 innings in the last three years, and is on pace to break that mark again this year.

Prospects

Anthony Ranaudo, a supplemental 1st round pick in 2010 started this season in A-ball, but could quickly shoot up the system in Colorado if moved.  He possesses three above average pitcher and has front of the rotation stuff.  He has good control and has great makeup and poise.

Will Middlebrooks is a prototypical third basemen with a good glove.  He hits for average, and for power, evidenced by his 17 home runs so far this season.  He also has 7 stolen bases.  He possesses a good baseball IQ and he should have a long career in the big leagues.

Lars Anderson was once considered the top bat in the Red Sox system, and with Adrian Gonzalez in the mix, there doesn`t seem to be a spot for Anderson.  He has good vision at the plate, sees a lot of pitches, and has gap power.  As he continues to fill out, he will get stronger.  I expect 20 home runs and 30 doubles a year out of Anderson when he finally does make it to the Show.

 

I think that the Red Sox win the Ubaldo Jimenez sweepstakes, sending uber-prospects Ranaudo, Middlebrooks, Anderson and maybe one or two players to be named later.  This gives the Red Sox a fearsome top three starters in Beckett, Lester and Jimenez.  If Buchholz comes back healthy, they have an incredible rotation for years to come.  Reed Johnson is also a great fit for the team, and I see them making a move for him.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  Please feel free to leave comments and to welcome Rob aboard.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

 

Editor’s Notes and Trade Deadline Summary:

A great article by our intern Rob Bland.  As the trade deadline has shown already, as much as we think we can predict what will happen- surprises will always occur.  Today was the last day before the non-waiver trade deadline, Sunday July 31st.  Here is a rundown of all the trades that took place today in Major League Baseball:

Rich Harden (A’s) for Lars Anderson and Player to be Named Later (Red Sox):  Yet to be announced.  This deal has not yet been finalized and may fall through.  Likely Billy Beane is pushing strong for this one.  Boston gets Harden, a talented but very injury prone pitcher that cannot be counted on.  Oakland would get a top young hitting prospect in Anderson and a PTBNL.  Oakland wins if this one does happen, stay tuned.

Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies) for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride (Indians):  What a difference a year makes.  The Indians are going for it and have beefed up their rotation with the addition of Jimenez.  When on his game, Ubaldo is one of the best in baseball.  Further, Ubaldo continues to be under team control, so the Indians don’t simply acquire a summer rental here.  The keys to this deal for the Rockies are Pomeranz and White.  Considered to be the Indians two best pitching prospects, the Rockies add to their farm while losing their ace.  While Pomeranz is considered highly in baseball circles, I would have expected to see the Rockies get more major league ready talent.  Considering that they were supposed to get Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova from the Yankees or Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and/or Homer Bailey from the Reds, I give the Indians the edge on this deal.  Ace pitchers do not grow on trees and the Indians got one without giving up any of their major league talent or some of their other finer prospects, including Nick Weglarz.  Competing with the big boys, the Indians get the prize of the trade deadline and likely a division title as well.

Derek Lee (Orioles) for Aaron Baker (Pirates):  The Pirates are going for it and while Lee is an aging first baseman, he is an upgrade offensively over incumbent Lyle Overbay.  Baker is a Class A first baseman that is not considered a top prospect.  This trade is a draw, as the Pirates beef up for their playoff run and the Orioles auction off an impending free agent to stock their system.

Orlando Cabrera (Indians) for Thomas Neal (Giants):  This deal came out of left field, as the Indians are still contending and were expected to hold onto Cabrera.  With many young infielders on their roster, the Indians were prepared to sacrifice their utility man for one of the Giants higher rated prospect bats.  Speaking to Neal on several occasions, he is one of the nicer young men you will ever want to meet in the game.  Considered a great tools player, both offensively and defensively, the Indians have added another piece to their offensive puzzle while sacrificing a veteran that was expandable.  The Giants, with injury and offensive woes, took a chance on Cabrera, a good luck charm for each of his respective teams in the postseason.  While Neal was a big price to pay, the Giants are in win-now mode.  A draw, as both teams will away happy from this exchange.

Koji Uehara (Orioles) for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis (Rangers):  This is a good old-fashioned baseball trade.  The Rangers pick up a veteran reliever, who is enjoying his finest campaign in the big leagues and could be a setup man or closer.  The Orioles continue to stockpile prospects and add a starter and first baseman to their mix.  Davis has one of the most explosive bats in the game when he gets hot and the Orioles could have their cleanup hitter for the next 5-7 years.  Hunter should be a good #3 or #4 starter for the team.  A draw as both teams achieve their respective goals in this deal.

Jason Marquis (Nationals) for Zach Walters (Diamondbacks):  I am a fan of what the Diamondbacks are doing in Arizona, but this trade doesn’t work for me.  Marquis will pitch in Arizona, but I don’t see him being the effective starter the team needs to fight the Giants for a playoff berth.  Walters is a prospect shortstop who could have been Stephen Drew‘s replacement one day when he left the team.  Walters has a good offensive bat and was not worth the price of Marquis.  Advantage Washington for adding another prospect to its growing farm while dumping a veteran pitcher that had no place on their roster.

Mike Aviles (Royals) for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz (Red Sox):  The Red Sox get some sort of infield insurance, which was unnecessary in my estimation with both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie on the roster.  If Lowrie is out beyond early August as projected, then this deal makes sense.  Otherwise, to give up two decent prospects for a player who has struggled this season and is unlikely to hit much in Boston does not equate for me.  Advantage Royals for dumping a player who did not fit on the team and continuing to stock their system.

Jerry Hairston Jr. (Nationals) for Erik Komatsu (Brewers):  The Brewers get depth for their playoff run and the Nationals get a marginal prospect back.  A draw.

Doug Fister and David Pauley (Mariners) for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and a PTBNL (Tigers):  For a Tigers team that was considered early in the day to be in the hunt for Ubaldo Jimenez, this one is a bit of a let down.  Fister will be a #4 or #5 starter for the Tigers, good but not great.  Pauley was having an incredible season for the Mariners in their pen and should do well in Comerica.  Wells will likely slot immediately into the Mariners outfield and the rest of the players are prospects to their stock their farm.  While I’m not excited about what Detroit received, I am equally not impressed by what they gave up.  Call this one a draw.  Middle of the road players for players at this point.

Denard Span (Twins) for Drew Storen and ? (Nationals): Yet to be announced.  This one is a real head scratcher for me.  I consider Span a good, but not great outfielder.  This trade is not completed although many outlets are reporting that this deal will get done.  The Nationals would give up their young closer if this deal happens and considerably weaken their bullpen.  Span, while playing a strong centerfield is not the offensive bat the Nationals are looking for.  After taking the Twins to the cleaners a year ago in trading Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos, this trade would be payback for the Twins.  If Storen is part of this deal, advantage Twins.  If the Nationals hang on to their closer, consider it a draw.

Rafael Furcal and cash (Dodgers) for an unknown player (Cardinals):  Yet to be announced.  With Dee Gordon in the minors and money woes being an issue, this trade for the Dodgers is about getting younger and saving money in the process.  The Cardinals are pushing for a playoff spot and if healthy, Furcal should give the team a spark offensively.  Personally, I would not trust Furcal based on his injury history.  It also remains to be seen which player the Cardinals get back.  But overall, without all the specifics, if the Dodgers can unload Furcal and have the Cardinals pick up most of his contract, I will label this trade a Dodgers win.

Ryan Ludwick (Padres) for an unknown player (Indians):  Yet to be announced.  The Indians are looking to make a strong playoff run and former Indian Luckwick would fit well in their offense this year.  It remains to be seen what the Indians have to give up, but for a player in as strong demand as Ludwick, as long as it is not too much, give the edge to the Indians.

 

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Interview with Yusuf Carter: Oakland A’s Prospect

MLB reports:  In our latest interview feature, we meet Oakland Athletics catching prospect, Yusuf Carter.  Yusuf is 26-years-of-age and currently playing AA ball with the Midland RockHounds.  Carter has the distinction of being drafted by three different major league teams, the Mariners, A’s and Cubs.  Carter ultimately signed with the Cubs and played in their farm system before joining Oakland.  The nephew of former major leaguer Joe Carter, Yusuf has graciously agreed to this interview with MLB reports.  After speaking with him, I can fully say that you would be hard pressed to find a nicer, more down to earth player than Carter.  A terrific human being and baseball player, Yusuf Carter is one of the lucky ones to play professional baseball and appreciates every minute.  He is a hard worker, does not take anything for granted and is giving it his all to make it the major leagues.  We proudly present:  Yusuf Carter, of the Oakland Athletics.

MLB reports:  Welcome to MLB reports Yusuf.  It is a pleasure to have you join us.

Carter:  The pleasure is all mine.  Thank you for contacting me and having me on board.

MLB reports:   Let’s start off with learning who was your favorite baseball player growing up.  Which player did you most idolize and pattern your game after?

Carter:  My favorite player growing up was definitely the kid, Ken Griffey Jr.  I loved the way he brought style and swagger to the game of baseball!  He was the best at hitting long home runs (and pimping them) and making highlight catches seemingly every night!  Griffey probably had the most pure talent of any player I have ever seen and I hope that he makes the hall of fame one day.

MLB reports:  To flip it around, which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Carter:  The player I most admire now is definitely Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees.  I admire the way he goes about his business and plays the game.   Jeter works very hard and plays the right way, every day.  I am also impressed that Jeter has not let stardom get to his head and has remained humble despite his vast successes in baseball.

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Carter:  Well looking at my career so far, I would have to say winning the Florida State League Championship in 2008 with the Daytona Cubs.  It was the best feeling I ever had playing baseball.  I hit a game-tying home run in a crucial game during the series and that was a pretty awesome feeling.

MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2011 season? 

Carter:  My goals are to hit  .400 with 50 home runs and 150 RBI’s!  They say it is important to dream big, right?! (laughing)  Realistically though, I am  just going to go out and play hard every day and give it my all!  I want to look back after every game and know that I never took a night off and never gave away any at bats.   As long as I play like that, I am sure that I can achieve at least half of my expected goals.  That would be pretty good!

MLB reports:  When you first found out you were drafted by three different teams in three years, what were your reactions?  Did those reactions change over time? If you can comment on each team and why you chose to re-enter the draft that would be great.  Please also tell the story of final signing with the Cubs and how you came to the A’s. 

Carter:  To be drafted at all is a pretty big deal.  After it happened 3 years in a row, I was very happy that different organizations thought I was good enough to play for them and wanted me.  That definitely gave  me the confidence that I can make it all the way to the big leagues one day and made me work that much harder on every aspect of my game.  But each situation was different for me. After considering all the factors, even when I got drafted early, I decided that I didn’t want to rush into signing and starting my career if the situation wasn’t the best fit for me at that particular stage.  The best situation was when the Chicago Cubs drafted me in 2005, so I signed with the Cubs and started my baseball career.  I played with the Cubs from 2005 -2008.  I was picked up by the Oakland A’s in the winter of 2008 in the rule 5 draft and have been with the organization ever since.

MLB reports:  Can you give an insight as to why you originally chose not to sign in the 2 previous times you were drafted before signing with the Cubs?  Did you have any fear that you may not be drafted again or not have interest if you did not sign each time you chose not to sign?

Carter:  I was first drafted out of high school by the Mariners and the offer wasn’t very much.   I knew it would be best for my career if I went to college and played more. That way I could gain more experience playing at a higher level, with the chance of increasing my value if I played well.  The second time around, I was ironically drafted by the Oakland A’s.  I was a draft-and-follow (before they got changed the system and got rid of it).   The A’s wanted me to play another year of college ball and come to a decision once the year was over.  I decided not to sign with them because they had just drafted a catcher in the 1st round that year and another catcher in the 2nd round.  Kurt Suzuki and Landon Powell were both catchers that I knew of and as it turns out, are now the starting and #2 catchers for the A’s today.  With such a backlog at the position, I thought I would have a better chance at advancing with a different organization.  That’s when the Cubs drafted me and I felt it was a good situation for me and I signed.  I definitely had a slight fear each time that I may not be drafted again by not signing.  But I was also confident in my abilities and didn’t want to sell myself short just out of fear.  I just wanted to play hard and do well and I felt everything would work itself out.  Which it did. 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Carter:  I would have to say that in my opinion and based on what most people say as well, my best skill would have to be my arm.  I like throwing guys out anyway I can.  Defense behind the plate attracted me to the position and throwing out would- e based runners is the best part of being a catcher.

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Carter:  I honestly need to improve on all areas!  But I think as a catcher, I need to focus on improving my receiving skills so that I can handle all the different pitchers I work with on a daily basis much better.  I have made already strong improvements from this spring to now in that  area of my game.  As a result, I am feeling a lot more confident as I work towards being a major league catcher one day.  But my mindset is that I can always get better!

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Carter:  They play a huge part in my game.  When I feel good and comfortable in the box, I see the ball a lot better and I don’t chase many pitches out of the zone.   That inevitably leads to more walks and better overall results at the plate.  I don’t end up getting myself out as much. But if I’m not seeing the ball as well or I’m in a little funk, like most batters I tend to chase out of the zone and swing at pitches that I should have resisted!  That ends up leading to fewer opportunities for success.  My approach at the plate is something that I definitely see changing and an aspect of my game that I have to constantly stay on top of.

MLB reports:  Long term what position do you see yourself playing?  How do you see defense as part of your overall game?

Carter:  I have always been a guy that can play multiple positions, which I consider a strength for me.   By being versatile, I have more ways to stay in the line-up and gain experience in the field   But I think that if I had a choice, I would choose catching at this point.  I know that many people will call me crazy for choosing the most demanding position in the game!  But in my view, I see catchers as an important part of the game.  I have always thought that if I could master that position and be able to catch at the highest level, I would be very important to my team and organization.  As a catcher, defense is the main part of my game which always needs to be sharp!  I have to be able to do it all, including stopping easy runs from scoring by base runners advancing on balls thrown in the dirt or stealing, for example.  So yes, defense is huge.

MLB reports:  A little birdy told us that your uncle happens to be no other than…former MLB star and World Series hero Joe Carter.  Is this true? 

Carter:  Yes, indeed (chuckle).  You are correct.  Joe is my father’s brother and my uncle.  I definitely get my athletic genes from that side of the family.  Just to look in comparison, I am probably the “smallest” guy in the bunch at 6’3″ when I am around my dad’s family, including my father, uncles and brothers. My dad is 6’7″ so I got some of his height luckily (chuckle).

MLB reports:  What is your relationship like with Joe Carter?  Must have been pretty amazing.  What kind of influence was Uncle Joe on your baseball career and life?

Carter:  Joe and I always have enjoyed a great relationship.  He was one of the best uncles a nephew could ever asked for.  He has helped me and been there for me in so many ways since I started playing baseball.  Joe always gives me hitting advice if I needed it and just to talk baseball sometimes.  He always helped get me back on track and improve my game.  I had an advantage with Joe Carter as my uncle, as he always gave me good advice at each stage when I was trying to decide when and where to sign professionally. My agent happens to be also his agent that he has been with for 25 years, so I knew that he would have my best interests in mind.

MLB reports:  What was it like growing up with Joe Carter as your uncle?  I can only imagine the stories that you must have.

Carter:  Growing up with everyone knowing that Joe was my uncle was a good thing and a bad thing at times.  It was cool because I had a famous uncle to brag about if I wanted! (chuckling) Although I usually didn’t tell people about Joe often.   Having such a famous uncle got me a great deal of exposure and extra looks from scouts and teams.  The only thing was that I just did not want to be known solely as his nephew though.  I wanted to stand on my own and have people see that I could play and had talent as well.  But it was always cool going to watch him play whenever he played in New York (my hometown) against the Mets or Yankees!  I got to meet a lot of my favorite players after games waiting for him to come out.  That was always a treat.

MLB reports:  Any memories of your uncle that stick out?

Carter:  A cool time that I remember is when Joe was a commentator for the Cubs back in 2003.  That was my senior year in high school.  He set it up so that I could take batting practice on the field with the Cubs!  The team gave me a uniform and everything.  I got the chance that day to meet Sosa, Alomar and a lot of guys from both teams . I didn’t hit any out of the park that day, but it was fun!  Later, to top it off Joe brought me up to the press box with him and put me on tv with him for a bit!  I’m just lucky to have someone of his stature in the game, that has been there and to look out for me.  Joe knows what it takes to succeed in life and baseball and has always been there to give me advice and to help me out. 

MLB reports:  What have you most taken away from Joe Carter the baseball player?

Carter:  One thing that I always noticed about him when he played is that he had a constant smile on his face and looked happy to be playing the game. I definitely try to do the same when I’m out there on the field.  After all, let’s all never forget that it is still just a game!  The more fun that you have out there, the better you will play overall.

MLB reports:  I know that you must get this all the time, but we can’t talk about Joe Carter without me asking you: what are your memories from his famous walk-off home run in the World Series?

Carter:  A lot of people ask me what I thought about his walk-off home run to win the World Series for the Blue Jays back in the 1990s.   The truth is that I respond that I did not know anything about it until I was 12-years-old and started playing organized baseball!  So I actually learned about “the home run” 4 years after it happened.  Boy, I got a late start! (chuckle)

MLB reports:  What were your experiences like growing up as a baseball late bloomer?  Please give us an insight as to what your childhood was like and how that affected your playing career.

Carter:  I would say my culture or childhood affected me the most as far as playing goes.  I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in a neighborhood where I was fortunate to have many friends of the same age.  We were always involved in some type of sports every day. We would literally play all different sports throughout the day, every day.  My childhood is definitely where my competitiveness on the field comes from.  You never want to lose to another neighborhood at all, so I learned at a young age that you always have to give it your all in sports.  That is how I continue to play the game to this day.  I joined my first organized baseball team when I was 12 years old.  That is a late start for most people but I was lucky to have the raw skills from playing in the streets.  From there, I had to learn the game of baseball and the fundamentals that go with it.  But I think growing up that way taught me to work hard and always play the game the right way.

MLB reports:  How has your general interaction with fans been?  As far as autograph requests, cheering, heckling etc. please share insights.

Carter:  I always try to interact with the fans any chance I get.  I have never been a guy that takes himself too seriously, so I don’t mind small talk or signing autographs for fans if I have time.  I especially like to talk to the young kids at the game if I can.  It is important to me to make sure that the kids get the most out of their time at the ballpark.  In terms of fans cheering, I can take a joke that comes across as a good heckling.   I’ll usually laugh in those situations and not get upset.  As long as it is nothing personal or disrespectful, it doesn’t get to me.

MLB reports:  If you were not playing baseball today, what do you think that you would be doing?  When you aren’t playing baseball Yusuf, what do you do for downtime?

Carter:  If I wasn’t playing baseball, I would try my luck in acting or something.  I would be a bad guy or villain in my movies or the super cool hero! (chuckle)  Either an actor or a music producer.  I Love music, so that would be a fun role for me.  On my free time when I am not playing baseball, I usually try to kick back and relax.  Watch tv or catch a new movie that came out. I enjoy my downtime and try to let my mind and body relax and focus.  Nothing that involves baseball! (laughing)

MLB reports:  On a side note, have you ever met Billy Beane before?  If you can give any scoops as to how interactions with Billy were and/or other members of the Oakland management that would be great to give fans the inside feel.

Carter:  I don’t have much to share, sorry guys.  I have seen him before but haven’t actually met him and interacted with him.  But I would say it would be like any interaction with any management or boss.  My rule is to always do the right things.  Smile, don’t talk too much and laugh at their jokes! (laughing)  If you do that, you should be fine!

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Carter:  If I had a crystal ball I would definitely try to speed up that process as much as possible! (grin) In my estimation, if I continue to sharpen my receiving skills and work hard on the other parts of my game as well, I think I can be there in the next 1-2 years.  Until then, I will continue to work hard and bust my behind to make it happen!

MLB reports:  Keep up the great work Yusuf.  It was a pleasure meeting and speaking with you.  We hope that we can do this again soon and good luck on the rest of the season.

Carter:  Thank you for featuring me, you guys are awesome.  I read MLB reports all the time and love your articles.  This was fun! 


***A special thank you to Yusuf Carter for his time in speaking with MLB reports as part of this interview and providing several personal photos.  We look forward to Yusuf writing a blog entry for our MLB Guest Blog this season, exclusively on MLB reports.  You can also follow Yusuf Carter on twitter***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Heyward vs. Hosmer: Battle of the Prospects- Friday Faceoff

MLB reports:  Another week, another rescheduled Friday Faceoff.  Originally scheduled to go head-to-head were Jason Heyward  of the Atlanta Braves and Mike Stanton of the Florida Marlins in the battle of young and up-and-coming National League outfielders.  But with the burst of MLB reports favorite Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals on the MLB scene a week ago, we couldn’t resist switching up the story.  With the e-mailbag being flooded for Hosmer requests and the promise I made last week for a Heyward feature, MLB reports is proud to present in the Friday Faceoff:  Heyward vs. Hosmer.

Age

Both Hosmer and Heyward are still pups at the tender age of 21-years-old.  It’s hard to believe that Heyward was an all-star and finished second in the NL ROY balloting last year at 20.  Incredible.  Born only 2 months apart, Heyward was the 14th overall selection in the 2007 draft and Hosmer- the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft tie in this category.  In terms of experience, Heyward has a year’s worth of experience in the majors over Hosmer, but then he was drafted a year earlier.  A draw in round 1.

Power

Looking at Jason Heyward’s numbers from a year ago, I am completely blown away.  By hitting 18 home runs last year with a .456 SLG, Heyward was one of the most consistent Braves hitters last year.  This year, Heyward already has 7 home runs, although his SLG is down to .433.  The trouble with measuring Heyward so far this year is that he has been bothered by a sore shoulder early on, missed some games, taken his cortisone shots and may only fully return by early next week.  While he is ready to pinch run and may pinch hit soon, Heyward’s health is a question mark at this point.  Comparatively, Hosmer had 3 home runs in his first 26 games at AAA this year and 2 home runs in his first 6 games since being called up.  While Hosmer has flashed power in the minors, including 20 last year between A+ and AA last year, Heyward has shown the steady power in the majors already.  Heyward for me is already at the 30+ home run capabilities while Hosmer is more of a 15+ home run hitter for me at this stage of his career.  Based on raw power, Heyward wins this round.

Patience and Batting Eye

Good luck in finding two better hitters with strong eyes at the plate compared to Heyward and Hosmer.  Heyward finished with 91 walks last year, unheard of for a 20-year-old hitter in the majors.  The strikeouts though did pile, up as Heyward whiffed 128 times in 2010.  This year Heyward has a 18/32 BB/K ratio, good for a young player but not quite the level we expect from our budding superstars.  Part to blame is his shoulder woes and the rest is the developing patience at the plate.  Hosmer on the other hand, is slowly becoming the new MLB king of patience.  In 2010 in the minors, Hosmer had a 59/66 BB/K ratio, almost 1-1.  In his call-up this year, Hosmer sits at 5/5 BB/K ratio.  With high walks and low strikeouts, round 3 goes to Eric Hosmer.  Heyward ranks high in this category, just not Hosmer good.

Batting Average

This category, as with the others, is based on a small sample size and considers results to-date and expected performance.  Some categories are easier to predict than others.  This one appears very apparent to me.  While I see Heyward having more future long balls, I can see Hosmer finishing with a higher batting average.  Heyward had close to a .400 OBP last year  and his .270-.280 average potential with 100 walks per year are fantastic numbers.  But Hosmer has the .300+ average potential and will likely exceed a .400 OBP year-in and year-out.  Last year in the minors, Hosmer had .338 AVG and .408 OBP.  In AAA this year, Hosmer was hitting .439 with a .525 OBP and is already hitting .333 in the majors with a .444 OBP.  The result is another victory for Hosmer.

Stolen Bases

A tricky category to utilize in comparing the two sluggers, who are known more for their bats than their speed.  Heyward had 11 stolen bases last year, although he was caught 6 times.  So far this year Heyward has only stolen 2 bases.  Hosmer himself is not much a burner, although he did steal 11 bases last year while only being caught once in high A ball.  On the season, Hosmer has stolen 3 bases in AAA and 1 steal in the majors, while not getting caught at either level.  My impression overall is that Heyward will steal more bases as he will take more opportunities, while Hosmer will take fewer chances but have a higher success ratio.  Pick your poison, I am calling this one a draw.

Verdict

A great matchup this week of two future MVPs and part of baseball’s changing of the guard as the kids begin to take over.  I am very excited about the prospects for both Heyward and Hosmer, as both are complete packages and truly the real deal in my estimation.  It is always my goal not to go too far in projecting prospects as too many factors can take over, including : injuries, faded confidence, legal troubles, bad teams, bad lineups…you name it, one factor can arise and sideline a bright star in a hurry.  Watching both Heyward and Hosmer, I have the impression that both are intelligent young men with good heads on their shoulders.  Both play with enthusiasm and heart, two strong qualities I look for future in players.  Going head-to-head, both are very young, with Heyward having a year experience on Hosmer.  Both are showing good power, although Heyward has greater power.  Hosmer though won out on batting average and batting-eye, displaying in his career patience personified, exceeding even the talented Heyward.  After both players tied in the stolen base category, this week’s winner is Eric Hosmer.  The future of the Kansas City Royals along with Moustakas and Myers, the George Brett comparisons are already ringing in for Hosmer.  My hope is that he will handle them better than once golden boy Alex Gordon, who has finally got his career back on track this season after enduring many hardships and failed expectations along the way.  Heyward, on the other hand, is becoming the new face of the Braves as Chipper Jones slowly begins to play out his last string.  Both are excellent players with each team very high on its respective budding superstar.  But the winner tonight is new MLB sensation, Eric Hosmer.

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On the Verge: Moustakas, Hosmer and Myers, Kansas City Royals

MLB reports:  The long-suffering fans of the Kansas City Royals have reason to celebrate.  Their team has played fairly steady baseball this year, sitting above .500 at 15-13.  The young bullpen has been lights out and Alex Gordon is reborn and hitting the cover off the ball with Billy Butler.  But in the hope, continued promise exists.  The Royals have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball and have been ranked number one on many experts lists.  A big reason for the top mark is the three prized hitters looking to graduate to Kansas City in the near future:  Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers.  With so much fanfare and excitement surrounding these top prospects, who are receiving press through MLB circles, let’s take a look at how each player has fared thus far this year: starting with the top prospect, Mike Moustakas.

MIKE MOUSTAKAS

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
OMA PCL .227 22 88 16 20 1 1 4 20 35 9 15 0 0 .299 .398 .69

2011 has not been kind thus far to the third baseman of the future for the Royals.  Moustakas has been walking at a decent clip but striking out far too much for AAA.  His .227 average, to go along with four home runs says that the power is there, but the strike-zone discipline is still developing.  After miscalculating on Alex Gordon, the Royals are by no means in a rush to promote Moustakas to the majors.  Likely to finish below .500 on the season, the Royals are prepared to give Moustakas a full season at AAA with a possible September call-up depending on his progress.  The talent is off the charts and we are looking at a possible forty home run caliber hitter in the future.  But at 22 years old, the former #2 overall pick has time on his side.  Based on his free swinging ways, Moustakas actually ranks third on my list of top Royals prospects.  But he has the most potential for power and with the admiration for the long ball, we will see Moustakas arrive to great fanfare once he gets the call in the next year or so.

ERIC HOSMER

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
OMA PCL .422 24 90 19 38 5 0 2 12 49 16 14 3 0 .505 .544 1.049

At 21 years of age, Hosmer is a year younger than Moustakas but playing at the same level in Omaha.  Hosmer has been the strongest out of the game for the Royals and making the push for an early season call.  With a 16/14 BB/K ratio, 1.049 OPS and .322 Average, the Royals will not be able to keep this future star in the minors for long.  Kila Ka’aihue has not hit much going into May and is looking to wind down his Royals career.  Kila is long considered a AAAA player, too good for AAA but never able to adjust to the majors.  Hosmer is blessed with the same strong batting eye and sweet swing, but will make a stronger impression once he joins the Royals.  The only knock on Hosmer is the two home runs thus far.  But when he is hitting the ball otherwise at the rate that he is, the Royals will be patient in waiting for the power to develop.  A mirror image of Logan Morrison in Florida, Eric Hosmer is my pick for the top Royals prospect, most likely to make the majors this year from this list and a future all-star and batting champion in the making.

 

WIL MYERS

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
NWA TEX .261 12 46 6 12 2 0 2 8 20 3 12 2 1 .300 .435 .735

The youngest player on this list, Myers is playing in AA at the tender age of 20.  Considering his age, the numbers thus far have been decent.  A .261 average combined with two home runs for a teenager can be considered promising.  His 3/12 BB/K ratio and .735 OPS suggests that he remains a work in progress.  A converted catcher, the Royals moved to Myers to the outfield to allow his developing bat a chance to make it to the majors soon.  The Bryce Harper express route as I call it.  Myers, while not quite in the Harper mold, is as solid as they come.  With time, Myers will challenge Moustakas and Hosmer for top spot on the Royals, as the batting eye and power are all within this kid.  He will require time for seasoning and a year or two at AA is not out of the question.  I do not expect the Royals to rush him, as 2013-2014 is the expected time frame for the top Royals prospects to reach the show and play together.  I was hoping for bigger things from Myers this year, but it is early and there is still a lot of baseball to be played.  The key with prospects is to be patient and give them time.  By season’s end, the good ones usually end up rising to the top.

By 2014-2015, imagine a Royals lineup with Butler, Gordon, Moustakas, Hosmer and Myers.  Kansas City is clearly on the rise and building their team in the right mold.  The road to respectability has been a long and painful one for this one perennial successful franchise.  But strong drafts and development has led to a farm that is producing top prospects at a rapid rate.  While Hosmer is likely the first to make the leap, Moustakas and Myers will get there in their own time.  The Royals have decided to manage their farm system in the right manner and not rush and burn out their future stars.  The fans of Kansas City are grateful, as the promised land lies up ahead.

 

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