Two months ago, I took a break from baseball writing to help relocate our family of six from Georgia to upstate New York. We sold and purchased a new home, packed eight U-Boxes without any help from movers and drove the 940 miles to a sleepy suburb outside of Rochester.
The Mets are on the verge of having a dominant starting staff and Zack Wheeler is a key component. Armed with an upper-90’s fastball and knockout curveball, the 24-year old enters the 2015 season primed for a breakout. In nearly 300 innings and 49 starts at the big-league level, great strikeout and ground ball rates point to ace potential. However, command has always been Wheeler’s Achilles heel and pitchers who walk too many batters don’t become frontline starters. The Solo Home Run Situations series has tackled added stress resulting from pitch selection — Wheeler presents an opportunity to revisit the series to explore how walks affect the young right-hander’s prospects.
Between packing what seems like an endless number of boxes in anticipation of the big move to New York, Joel Henard and I were able to record a two part ROTOscouting baseball podcast. In episode 9, we talk postseason awards, whether or not they matter and if the right players won. From a highly contested American League Cy Young race between Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber to Clayton Kershaw winning both the National League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards, we cover them all.
Episode 8 of the ROTOscouting Baseball Podcast features Joel Henard and I breaking down the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller trade from both the Cardinals and Braves perspective. Also, was the Russell Martin signing going to take the Blue Jays pitching staff to the next level? Can the Mets swing a deal for Starlin Castro? We even find time for a little craft beer talk. No interviews this week, but it allowed us to record back-to-back episodes and make up for lost time. Enjoy our 5-star rated podcast and share with a friend or 10.
Today, the Braves traded once franchise player Jason Heyward to the Cardinals for former first round pick Shelby Miller. Reliever Jordan Walden and volatile pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins also changed hands and helps frame the argument. Atlanta made a deal out of desperation while the Cardinals traded in an attempt to win the World Series in 2015.
In the Eastern League, baseball prospects are just a step or two away from a Major League debut. Sometimes, the best prospects in baseball will jump from Double-A to the show, but this group of players is still developing and a year or two away from MLB. After a handful of scouting pieces on the best prospects scouted in a series between Trenton (Yankees) and Bowie (Orioles), these notes on select Yankees and Orioles prospects empties the notebook so to speak. Gary Sanchez is the headliner, but several names can fill big league roles — especially if negotiations with David Robertson go wrong.
Considered a reach as the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Hunter Dozier tore up the lower levels of minor league baseball. And with the Kansas City Royals organization lacking a true big league caliber starter at the hot corner, Dozier has a chance to move quickly. However, a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals saw his numbers fall dramatically from .295/.397/.429 to .209/.303/.312. Are the top-100 prospect’s upper-level struggles a sign of things to come, or a blip on the radar as he makes adjustments?
Only one team had a less productive outfield than the Mariners in 2014. With 31 combined home runs and a .242 batting average, Seattle finished in the bottom five of MLB in both areas. No one had envisioned this out of the Mariners several years ago as Baseball America once ranked Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders as top-30 prospects in all of baseball. Both players showed signs of life in 2014. Can Saunders remain healthy and build on his .273/.341/.450 triple slash line?
It wouldn’t be a Cubs off-season without Starlin Castro trade rumors to the Mets. Last winter, the question was if Chicago would sell low to clear space for a plethora of near ready shortstop prospects. For New York, Zack Wheeler was the clear cut second fiddle to Matt Harvey and destined to become a star in his own right. 12 months later and every scenario discussed prior to the 2014 season has proven wildly misguided at best and sheer idiocy at worst.
Michael Cuddyer’s two year, 21 million dollar pact with the Mets was a surprise. Between the multi-year offer to a declining player and New York’s willingness to part with the 15th overall pick in the 2015 draft, one has to wonder if this is the first of a flurry of moves. Unfortunately, fantasy baseball owners are unable to sit with Sandy Alderson at the General Manager’s meetings and learn what other plans are in store. For now, we can only glean insight from what’s already happened.
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