The Royals actually open this year up with only one question mark on the team and that is who is the number 5 starter. The Royals rotation lines up to be James shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, and Bruce Chen. The fifth starter competition is between Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, and Wade Davis. Ventura, 22, made his major league debut last year and started 3 games posting a 3.52 era. Ventura is the number 50th ranked prospect, according to Keith Law and put up good minor league stats going 8-6 with a 3.14 era. Danny Duffy went 2-0 last year in 5 starts after returning from Tommy John surgery. He is only 25 and had a 1.85 era last year, but he has some injury issues as he finished last year on the disabled list with a tight forearm. Lastly, there is Wade Davis, 28, who has seen time in the rotation and the bullpen in his career. He posted a 5.67 era last year in the rotation before being pushed to the bullpen where he posted .90 era in 10 innings from the pen.
Prediction: Look for the Royals to compete for a wild card spot again this year as they are returning a very similar team from last year. As for the rotation look for Wade Davis to be back in the bullpen, Ventura to start the year at Triple-A and Danny Duffy to win the job. However, if Duffy or Chen falter look for Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer, the number 10 prospect in America, according to Keith Law, to take their spots.
Offseason, Promotion, SP
Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, James Shields, Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals, Kyle Zimmer, Royals, Spring training battles, Wade Davis, Yordano Ventura
The Tigers made a couple of headlines this off-season by trading away Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, acquiring Ian Kinsler, Steve Lombardozzi and got a first time manager in Brad Ausmus. Even with these deals the Tigers should still expect to be in the post-season come October. These trades might hurt the Tigers offensively, but look for them to be a better defensive team this year with Cabrera moving to first, Kinsler at second and Castellanos, one of the tigers top prospects, to playing every day at third base. Also the rotation, barring injury, is pretty much set with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, and Drew Smyly. The Tigers plan on starting Torri Hunter in right, Austin Jackson in center, Victor Martinez at DH, leaving the one position battle is who is going to play left field. The competitors are Rajai Davis, Don Kelly, Steve Lombardozzi, and Andy Dirks was in the competition before getting back surgery yesterday. Davis, 32, batted .260 last year with the Blue Jays with 6 home runs and 45 stolen bases in 108 games. Kelly, 34, is a career .229 hitter with only 23 home runs in 6 years. Lastly, there is Steve Lombardozzi, a career utility man, batted .259 last year with 2 home runs.
Prediction: The Tigers no matter how inexperienced their manager is, find a way back to the post-season. Look for Rajai Davis to see a lot of time in Left field to begin the year and getting a day off to Lombardozzi and Kelly against a tough righty. However, as soon as Andy Dirks is able to return look for it to be a platoon between Dirks and Davis.
OF, Offseason, SP
Ausmus, Detroit Tigers, Don kelly, Kinsler, Lombardozzi, Rajai Davis, Scherzer, Spring training battles, Verlander
The Cubs’ top prospect Javier Baez has impressed scouts, coaches, and the media recently during Spring Training to the point that many are wondering if he will make the Major League roster. Some have wondered if he could take over Starlin Castro’s position at short. Coach Renteria hasn’t confirmed such suggestions, and most signs point at Baez playing shortstop at AAA. However, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Baez is expected to get some playing time at second and third in the upcoming games. Could a move to another position signal that the Cubs are wanting to put Baez in the Cubs lineup? Friend and fellow shortstop Castro thinks that such a promotion would be a good thing, and that even though they play the same position, Baez and him remain friends.
Francisco Lindor of the Indians is showing why he is ready for Major League pitching. He recently hit a game winning 3 run HR, and a 9th inning double to seal two different victories over the Mariners. What does Coach Francona think of Lindor?
“He’s just a good player…He’s a young kid who wants to get to the big leagues as fast as he can just like every other young kid,” said Francona. “But there’s a process you have to go through. You can’t miss a step.”
This signals that he will more than likely start the year in the minors and wait for his call to the bigs to come. Asdrubal Cabrera, the short stop blocking his path to the Majors, has his contract coming to an end after this year, which could signal that Lindor will be the starting short stop in 2015.
Astros’ top prospect Carlos Correa is showing that he is wise beyond his years, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. He will probably start the season at High A, while finishing the year at AA or AAA. GM Luhnow is taking his time with Correa, making sure that he isn’t rushing the 19-year-old.
Wilmer Flores is making a push to be the backup infielder and shortstop for the Mets this year. The Mets have an open spot on the roster for a backup, and are debating if they will use Flores there or keep him for further development in the Minors.
Ben Badler of Baseball Prospectus recently scouted the Cubs, Mets and Phillies top prospects. He had rave reviews for the Cubs prospects Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez. The Cubs offense is in good hands in the future with these three. Throw in Castro, Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, and the Cubs look to be very formidable in the near future.
He also is a huge fan of Yordano Ventura of the Royals. Ventura throws GAS and if he can locate, he may be the next Pedro Martinez.
He gave the Mets prospects some average ratings, with Dominic Brown getting the best reviews. The 18-year-old looks to be the best of the 1B prospects since that class is extremely thin right now.
The Phillies prospects have not shown up ready for camp to impress the coaches to make the MLB roster. According to Badler, Maikel Franco looks “fat” and Biddle can’t control his fastball.
Welcome to Spring Training! Game play has started up and things are happening. We will do our best to keep you all updated on what’s going on with the prospects. Here goes.
Braves prospect Gus Schlosser is making a strong case for the Braves bullpen. Last year, he dominated hitters in the minors with a third best ERA of 2.39 in 25 starts at AA. The 25-year-old has been turning heads with his first two appearances in Spring Training, and if Freddy Garcia doesn’t start the year in the rotation, Schlosser could be called on to take a bullpen spot.
Eddie Butler of the Rockies, is known for being electric. Not only does he have MLb ready stuff, but he is known for not hiding his displeasure with umpires when he doesn’t get calls his way. He is focusing on improving that part of his game, and so far in ST, he is accomplishing that feat.
As ST starts, more and more players will see minor injuries affect them. This is natural as they return to baseball form. Taijuan Walker of the Mariners, who has sat out a bit due to shoulder tightness, is set to return to his throwing program. Matt Barnes of the Red Sox, like Walker, will be shut down with tightness in his shoulder. The Sox, like the Mariners, are being overly cautious with their young pitcher.
Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays top prospect, looks to start the season at AAA. He will most likely be the first one the Jays call on if a pitcher should go down with injury. He will see some time in the bigs this year, it just is a question of when.
Scouts and coaches are loving what they see from Noah Syndergaard. The more comfortable he gets with his position, the more his personality is showing, and the coaches love his fire. He recently cussed out a coach for accusing him of leaving early to first during PFP, Pitcher Fielding Position, drills. He also made a list by Jake Seiner at milb.com of top NL rookie pitchers to see playing time in the bigs this year. Other pitchers to make this list are Mets’ Rafael Montero, Pirates’ Jameson Taillon, Diamondbacks’ Archie Bradley, Edwin Escobar of the Giants.
Rankings, September Call Ups, SP, Spring Training
Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, Pittsburg Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays
The Padres open the season with significantly fewer question marks than the Rockies in terms of who will play what position. Last year, the Padres battled the injury bug as they lost Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, and most of their starting rotation to injuries. This year, they look to be healthy everywhere in the diamond, except for their starting rotation.
To fix their starting rotation injury problem, the Padres brought in durable starter Josh Johnson (enter joke here). Josh himself has been battling his own injury battle for some time. Before he started having problems staying healthy, Johnson was once considered one of the best in the game. If he can stay healthy, he will give the Padres a boost. Cory Luebke will be out all year. Casey Kelly, the main piece in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, hopes to be healthy this year and to make the big league team sometime in 2014. He has great stuff and profiles as a number 2 or 3 starter. Kennedy and Cashner will be the one-two punch in the rotation, with Tyson Ross and Eric Stults rounding out the rotation. Look for Robbie Erlin and Burch Smith, both slated to start the year in AAA, to challenge Ross and Stults for a spot in the rotation. Their top pitching prospects, Max Fried and Matt Wisler, could see some time in the MLB in 2014, though Fried just got hurt and will spend some time on the DL.
The outfield just lost Cameron Maybin to injury, so expect Will Venable to take over center field all year long, while Seth Smith and Chris Denorfia will probably platoon in right. Chase Headley will start at third this year, though he also is a frequent flier to the DL and recently acquired Brandon Wood and Alberto Gonzalez will battle for backup to Headley. Wood has the higher ceiling of the two, though he hasn’t performed to expectations, so I predict the Padres will turn to Gonzalez first.
Prediction: The rotation will include one of Smith or Erlin, forcing Stults out, while Gonzalez will start the year up as back up infielder to Headley. Huston Street will still serve as closer, but will get the occasional day off to Benoit.
The Colorado Rockies enter 2014 with some question marks regarding their roster. The top of their lineup in left them wanting last year. Losing Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to injuries last year hurt their offense, and left them trying to find players who can step into the top of the lineup. They traded away leadoff man Dexter Fowler, and are thinking about putting CarGo as the leadoff man. The Rockies have a starting rotation that is a work in progress; they recently added Brett Anderson and Franklin Morales. Todd Helton retired, leaving the Rockies to look for a first baseman for the first time in over a decade. So many question marks, so many chances for someone to earn a full time job.
Let’s talk about the starting rotation first. The only person really “guaranteed” a spot in the rotation is Jorge De La Rosa. He is the “ace” of the staff, though he doesn’t have ace stuff. The future ace will be Jon Gray, followed closely by Eddie Butler. They both could make the starting rotation out of Spring Training, depending how aggressive the Rockies front office will be. Butler is almost a lock to make it the team out of Spring Training, while Gray may start in the minors since he only has one year of professional experience under his belt. Jhoulys Chacin just got hurt and may start the year on the DL, and Franklin Morales will probably serve better in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will probably make the rotation as well as Anderson, though he has been hurt more often than not.
The infield looks to have Arenado at third and Tulo at short, whose places are solid barring health issues. DJ LeMahieu will probably start at second while Rutledge, who can play short, will be the utility infielder. First base belongs to Justin Morneau, who could be a huge sleeper this year hitting in friendly Colorado.
The outfield will look different this year. The Rockies added Brandon Barnes, who will probably take Charlie Blackmon’s spot in the outfield and serve as the backup outfielder. Cuddyer and CarGo will man the corners while I predict Corey Dickerson will win the center field spot over Drew Stubbs.
Prediction: Corey Dickerson wins center field duties, while Eddie Butler makes the rotation until Chacin comes back. Once he does, Morales will move to the bullpen. Gray will be called up mid year, probably for Brett Anderson who will probably get hurt.
The Tampa Bay Rays are always an intriguing team because they are one of the small market teams who have figured out how to win on a consistent basis. Look for 2014 to be no different, as the Rays only have one battle to keep an eye on. That is, the last spot in the rotation between Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome and Erik Bedard. The competition would have been tougher if not for Jeremy Hellickson getting elbow surgery and being out till late May. Odorizzi is 23 and a former first round pick of the Brewers. Last year, he appeared in 7 games and started 4 producing a 3.94 era in almost 30 innings. Alex Colome, 25, started 3 games last year with a 2.25 era in 16 innings with the big league club. Colome threw well in the minors the last couple of years with back to back sub-3.5 eras. Erik Bedard, 34, has played for 5 different teams in both starting and relief roles. Last year, with the Astros he posted a 4.59 era in 150 innings. However, Bedard is a spring training invite trying to make it on the Rays.
Prediction: Look for Jake Odorizzi to win the job based on his age and his showing last year. Colome will probably start the year in Triple-A and Bedard lands in the bullpen. However, if Odorizzi struggles before Hellickson can return look for Colome to get the opportunity before Bedard.
According to Mike Berardino, the Twins beat writer, on twitter Miguel Sano will have Tommy John surgery. Sanaa is the number 8th prospect in all of baseball, according to Keith Law. This is a big blow to the Twins, but look for Sano to come back next spring and compete for a spot on the big league club.
Taijuan Walker, the top Mariners prospect, was shutdown for at least a week today with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Walker was all but guaranteed a spot in the Mariners rotation after pitching well in his three starts last year. If Walker has to be shutdown longer this is a big blow to the Mariners, who are looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.