With today being President’s Day, I thought I’d commemorate the occasion by putting a baseball spin onto things, and covering an abbreviated history of United States Presidents who have thrown out a first pitch at a Major League Baseball game.
The inaugural presidential first pitch came back on April 14, 1910, when William Howard Taft (seen above) threw out the first pitch to Walter Johnson, on Opening Day for the Washington Senators, at National Park. Taft did so from his seat in the stands, not the pitchers mound, as would be the tradition for many years to follow.
Since Taft, every president has thrown out at least one ceremonial first pitch, with Franklin Roosevelt having thrown out the most first pitches, with eleven. Roosevelt also holds the distinction of being the first president to throw out the first pitch of an All-Star game.
Every president that has thrown out a first pitch has done so on at least Opening Day, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, whose only first pitch came before game 7 of the 1979 World Series. Once again, Franklin Roosevelt makes his mark in the history books as the only president thus far to have thrown out the first pitch of an Opening Day, All-Star game and World Series game. (That guy really liked his baseball.)
Historically, not including the All-Star games, the win-loss record for the home team in games when a president throws out the first pitch is nearly equal, standing at 39-37. Leading to the conclusion that there’s no real advantage or disadvantage of having a president throwing out the first pitch.
Woodrow Wilson became the first president to throw out the first pitch of a World Series game, when he did so on October 9, 1915. Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush are the only other presidents to have thrown out a World Series first pitch since Wilson, however, Bush’s first pitch is probably the most memorable and meaningful pitch of them all; perhaps the most significant pitch in the 100 year tradition.
Coming a mere 48 days after the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch before game 3 of the 2001 World Series, in front of a sold out Yankee Stadium. Bush gave a quick thumbs-up to the crowd, as if to say “we’ll get through this, together”, before throwing a strike down the center of the plate. The Yankees would win the game, however, they would go on to lose the World Series to the D-back’s in game 7.
The most recent presidential first pitch came from current President Barack Obama at National’s Park, on Opening day in 2010. Having been elected in November to a second term, odds are that Obama will throw out another first pitch; the only question being when and where. If Obama can schedule out a World Series first pitch, he will join Franklin Roosevelt as the only other president to have ever thrown out an Opening Day, All-Star game and World Series first pitch.
If I were Obama, I’d figure out a way to make it happen.
Although Spring Training games have yet to begin, the current speculation is that Rays’ phenom Wil Myers will start 2013 with AAA Durham, instead of with the big league club, down in Tampa, regardless of how he performs over the course of the next month. This leaves many people (myself included) to ask the question: Is this the right decision for Myers?
I’m not 100 percent sold on the idea.
This past season, before getting traded from the Royals to the Rays, in December, Myers batted .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI’s, between AA North West Arkansas and AAA Omaha. The expectation was for Myers to receive a September call up from the Royals, however, that didn’t end up happening. Leaving many people scratching their heads.
In response to not calling up Myers, the Royals made the statement that they didn’t feel he was big league ready. While that might be true, I still don’t understand why they didn’t give him a shot for the last few games of the season, especially with them not being in play off contention; just as I’m not fully understanding the Rays’ logic with Wil Myers, going into the 2013 season.
According to Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, the decision to keep Myers down in the minors, to begin the season, is merely a “baseball decision”, that would give Myers a greater chance of success once he makes the transition to the major league level, sometime this season. Maddon is known for preferring this type of strategy, as his recent comments would suggest:
“I just think that it’s easier for a player with that kind of expectation level to get some time under his belt on a Minor League level, get it rolling, get the feel going, when you know it’s going well, then walk into a big league situation. Not as difficult as opposed to leaving a camp with all this expectation, all this hype then having to match up to that on a Major League level right out of the chute.”
I sort of understand where Maddon is coming from, though I still have to disagree.
While it’s vastly debated as to whether or not Maddon’s approach with Myers is the correct one, there’s no argument when it comes to if Myers has enough natural talent, and potential, to perform at the big league level. Anyone can see that, just by watching the guy play. No one more so than Rays’ hitting coach, Derek Shelton, who, after day one of Rays Spring Training, had this to say about Myers, and his talent level:
“The thing that’s the most impressive is the bat speed. The way the ball comes off his bat….You don’t see very many people who generate that kind of bat speed….It’s loud. It’s a different sound….You don’t hear many guys that can create that sound….it’s exciting to see.”
After reading all of what Shelton had to say, combined with my personal observations of Wil Myers’, and his stats from 2012, if it were up to me, I’d choose to let him loose to see what he can do at the major league level. Worst-case scenario, Myers doesn’t produce, and the Rays could then decide to either work through it or send him back down to the minors. But there’s always the possibility that Myers could hold his own, picking up where he left off in 2012, absolutely tearing it up out of the gate.
To me, the mere chance that Myers could be an impact player for the Rays to begin the season is enough to give him a shot. Playing in the somewhat difficult American League East, if the Rays want a chance to win their division, I’m not sure they can afford even a few weeks without Myers.
Today marks the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers to Spring Training, and therefore, after nearly four months since the Giants won the 2012 World Series, it’s officially time for baseball once again. For die-hard baseball fans, like myself, this long awaited day couldn’t have come sooner.
The Red Sox, Rockies, Cubs and Indians had their pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Sunday, however, the majority of pitchers and catchers are set to report to camp sometime over the course of the next 48 hours: The D-back’s, Braves, Reds, Tigers, Astros, Royals, Marlins, Mets, Athletics and Pirates reporting date is today, with the Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays and Nationals set to report tomorrow. (The Phillies’ pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday.)
Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported, on Wednesday, there will be a mere 45 days until the first official game of the 2013 MLB regular season, which begins on March 31st, with the Houston Astros taking on the Texas Rangers.
But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season, just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.) Every Spring Training, for the past two or three years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out a dozen, or so, TTM’s, with the best player being Mariano Rivera.
Rivera is known to be one of the better TTM autograph signers (as far as big name players go), if you send to him during Spring Training, however, I’ve failed to get back an auto from Rivera in either of the past two years that I’ve sent to him. This year, I’m hoping to have better luck, as with this (more than likely) being Rivera’s final season, it’s basically my final shot.
While Rivera is the player that I’m most hoping to receive back, he’s not the only well known player that I’m hoping to obtain a signature from. In addition to Rivera, I’m sending out requests to guys like Jason Motte, Adam Jones, Justin Masterson, etc., who, according to what I’ve read, are decent signers through the mail.
I’m also planning to send to a few minor league players, who received an invitation to big league Spring Training, including Danny Hultzen, Casey Kelly and Stefen Romero, who are all supposed to be great about signing.
As stated, my overall TTM autograph history is a short one; I’ve only been doing it for the past few years. In that short time, however, I’ve acquired a few decent players’ autographs. My best ever success, which coincidentally was my first success, came from Mark McGwire, back in March of 2011. Apparently, McGwire doesn’t sign TTM all that often, but for some reason he decided to do so for a few weeks during Spring Training. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to get that one back.
I’m planning to post a blog entry for every autograph I receive back from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training. Hopefully, it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back for that, over the course of the next few months….
Wrigley Field doesn’t turn 100 years old until 2014, but that’s not stopping the Cubs from planning ahead. Recently announcing a rather intriguing contest, the Cubs are looking for a logo, designed by the fans, to commemorate the 100th year of baseball at Wrigley Field.
Basically, the Cubs are searching for logo submissions that somehow incorporate the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field; how you choose to design the logo is up to you. The eligible logos received by the deadline, on February 28th, will be judged on overall appearance, originality, creativity, style and quality of the design, with the finalists being announced next month.
The decision for which logo will be used will then be left up to the fans, as the finalists’ logo designs will be voted on throughout the entire months of March and April, with the winner being notified by April 30th.
The winning designer and a guest will receive a flight and accommodations in Chicago to be honored during a logo unveiling event before a late-summer home game at Wrigley Field. The winner will also receive two tickets to the game, as well as a personalized 2014 jersey. (This coming word for word from the contest’s details.)
Not a bad deal, for merely designing a logo.
If you’d like the chance to have your ’Wrigley Field 100 Year’ logo featured by the Cubs throughout the 2014 season–showing up all over the place, including the possibility of a patch on the players’ jerseys–make sure to enter by the deadline, which, as stated, falls on the 28th.
I entered the logo contest earlier today, but, although I spent a couple of hours on it, my design, in my opinion, isn’t all that professional looking (I have no photoshop talent, whatsoever), so I’m not going to be posting a picture of the design on here. If it makes it past the initial judging round, and subsequently gets posted on the Cubs’ website to be voted on, then I’ll obviously write an article on it. But I really don’t see that happening.
On a much different note, I added a countdown calendar to the sidebar, on the right (below ‘Recent Posts’). At the moment it’s counting down to when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, however, I’m planning to change it throughout all of 2013. So if ever you’re unsure of how long it is until an upcoming major MLB related event, you can check back with the countdown on the sidebar.
Jake Hager was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. Since the draft, Hager has played in a total of 161 games, over the course of two successful seasons, batting a combined .277 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI’s.
Last season alone, Hager batted .281 with 10 home runs and 72 RBI’s, including an OBP of .345, with Single-A Bowling Green. In addition to his consistency at the plate, Hager stole a total of 17 bases, showing his ability to steal a base if necessary–speed being one of the main things Hager plans to work on in the coming season.
If Hager can continue to produce the same kind of numbers, combined with his incredible work ethic, he should be able to make it to the major leagues fairly quickly. He certainly has the talent, but it will come down to whether he can keep up the performance at the plate, over the next few years. However, looking back at Hager’s professional career thus far, and even into High School, that shouldn’t be a problem, as posting great stats seems to be his specialty.
Jake Hager–prospect in the Rays organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
I started playing ball when I was about 5 years [old]. My dad inspired to me to play the game. He always brought me outside to play catch or swing the bat. Once we started tee ball I loved it ever since. Best decision I have ever made.
2.) Who was your favorite player growing up? Why?
My favorite player growing was Cal Ripken Jr. He was my favorite player because of how humble he was and how much he loved to play the game. He was a great all around player and really fun to watch.
3.) You were drafted by the Rays in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
The draft process was amazing. Seeing all the scouts from each team come to your house and talk about your future was a lot of fun. The Rays ending up taking [me] which I had a great feeling they were because they were scouting me pretty heavy. Then on draft day–I was at my house with all of my friends and family–they called me before the draft started and said they were going to take me at 31. Then at the 30th pick they called my dad saying they were taking me at 32. We all went crazy and then once Bud [Selig] said my name it was the greatest feeling in the world.
4.) Being drafted out of high school, what’s the biggest difference you noticed between that and pro ball in your first few games, in 2011?
The biggest difference for me was the speed of the game–ten times faster than high school ball. Seeing 90-94 everyday was a huge difference, and the ball coming off every bat was just way different!
5.) What do you feel went well in 2012? What do you feel you need to work on for 2013?
Once I got my swing and my new stance down, everything started going great from there. Seeing the ball a lot better and swinging at better pitches helped me out a lot. I feel like [for] 2013 I just need to work on my speed more than anything. I am always working on my swing and defense, but I’m going to concentrate more on my speed.
6.) Is there any player you model your game after, or do you just try to do your own thing?
I honestly just try to do my own thing. I don’t worry about who I should be like or anything, I just want to be the player I can be.
7.) When’s the first time someone asked for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?
The first time somebody asked for my autograph was my best friend’s little cousin, when I was high school. That was the first ever ball I had signed. The oddest thing I have ever signed is [a] drawn picture of me in a Rays outfit!
8.) Favorite food?
My favorite would have to be grilled chicken right off the grill.
9.) Favorite TV show?
My favorite TV show is ‘Dexter’.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
To always work hard and don’t let anybody get in the way of your dream. Stay humble and work for your dream.
Big thanks to Jake Hager for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on twitter: @JakeHager1
The 52 finalists for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave were announced a couple of days ago, and from now until February 13th, you can vote for your favorite(s) from the fans who made the cut. The number of finalists will be narrowed down to 30 after voting has concluded, and those 30 will be invited down to Spring Training to audition to become part of the 2013 Fan Cave. You can vote for as many people as you want, as many times as you want, between now and the deadline, at MLBFanCave.com, so if you find that there are a few people who stand out in you mind, make sure to vote for them as many times as possible to ensure that they move on to the next round.
For those of you who may not know (if you’re a baseball fan I’m not sure how you couldn’t), the MLB Fan Cave, which began in 2011, is located in New York City, and houses some of the biggest die hard MLB fans you’ll ever meet throughout the entire season. The “cave dwellers”, as they’re referred to, spend the season watching EVERY single game (2,430 of them) on one the many TV screens located on the “cave monster”; a large wall of 15 TV’s. The cave dwellers, in addition to watching every game, get the chance to interact with current, and former, MLB players, as well as other celebrities, who stop by the Fan Cave throughout the season; doing interviews and short skits with many of them.
It all looks like a blast.
Now, before I continue, I’d like to point out that I’m not writing about the Fan Cave finalists because I am one of them. I wish I was, but alas I still have a few more years before I can even apply. With that said, I’m writing this post for two reasons: a) I have a few twitter followers who made the cut, and (b) I really like the whole Fan Cave concept, and wanted to bring this year’s finalists to your attention.
Before I reveal the fans I’m “endorsing”, let me point out that I’ve spent the past several hours viewing each of the 52 videos (yes, I watched all of them) submitted by the finalists, covering why they feel they should be part of the 2013 MLB Fan Cave, and naturally I have my favorites; 8 of them, to be precise. (Just because I didn’t pick any of the other 44 videos doesn’t mean I didn’t like them, I just liked these 8 the best.) Allow me to tell a little bit about each of them, in no particular order, and state why I think they’d be great for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave (click on their names to be taken to their Twitter accounts):
Calder Cahill: A Rockies fan from Colorado, Cahill states that he’d be great for the MLB Fan Cave, with his main reasons being that he’s ”a people person, lives baseball everyday of the year, and has interview and social media experience”. I agree that Cahill, with his passion for the game, would make a great cave dweller, and thus he gets my vote.
Bryan Mapes: A Braves fan from Connecticut, Mapes runs one of the top fan blogs on MLBlogs.com (Three Up, Three Down) and is extremely active on Twitter. His application video was very entertaining, and Mapes’ outgoing personality and knowledge of baseball makes him one of the top candidates for the MLB Fan Cave, in my mind.
Lindsay Beaver: A Tigers fan from Michigan, Beaver has interviewed multiple MLB stars, including Prince Fielder, and I feel that experience would come in handy in the cave. Beaver has the personality required of a cave dweller, and in her own words, she “loves people, loves baseball, and loves people who love baseball”. That’s good enough for me.
David Greenwald: A Yankees fan from New York, Greenwald states (in a song) that he would be great for the MLB Fan Cave, and I have to agree with him. I enjoyed the creativity of his application video, as Greenwald’s video was one of the more memorable videos of the finalists, and I feel he would be perfect for the cave.
Stephanie Katz: A Rays fan from Florida, Katz would be great for the Fan Cave, as she has a great personality and an immense passion for the game of baseball. Katz’s video was very entertaining and she did a great job of stating why she wants to become a cave dweller. I think she would represent her team well at the Fan Cave.
Hayden Moss: A D-back’s fan from Texas, Moss was a winner of the reality TV show, Big Brother. I was a big fan of Moss’ on the show, and therefore I know I’d be a big fan of him in the MLB Fan Cave. One of the most outgoing personalities of the people who submitted a video, as well as huge baseball fan, I feel he truly deserves to become a cave dweller.
Thomas Roberts: A Dodgers fan from California, Roberts submitted what was, in my opinion, the most thought out and entertaining videos of all those who submitted one. Roberts has a very outgoing personality and I could see him fitting right in up in New York City, at the MLB Fan Cave, and so he gets my vote.
Andrew Fleming: A Cardinals fan from Tennessee, Fleming had one of the more creative videos of the 52 finalists, and he certainly has the baseball passion, and personality, required to be part of the Fan Cave. Fleming would be great for the cave, in my opinion, and thus should become a cave dweller for the 2013 season.
So those are the people I’m voting for (over and over and over again). Vote for whoever you like, but I ask that, if you’re reading this, you please take the time to vote for someone. Just like myself, each of the 52 finalists eat, sleep and breathe baseball, and they all worked extremely hard on their videos to make it this far.
Just remember, when all is said and done, if you don’t vote for your favorite(s), you can’t complain if they don’t move on to the next round.
The big story of the day on Tuesday was the release of a new report that linked multiple MLB players to performance enhancing drugs, including Alex Rodriguez, yet again, who admitted to having used them, back in 2009.
While the PED news was the main thing on everyone’s mind on Tuesday, I’m not going to talk about it at all. There’s still so much uncertainty, that I don’t feel comfortable writing about it; it’s not really my place to anyhow. If you’d like to read about it, a quick Google search will lead you to articles covering everything you might want to know about the subject. As far as I’m concerned, the highlight of the day was the release of the Top 100 prospects list. And that’s what I’m going to be discussing in this particular blog post.
I’m not sure what it is about prospects that intrigues me so much, but I absolutely love studying over, and basically memorizing, the top 100 prospects list; the stars of tomorrow. I didn’t really get into it until last year, as that’s when I began to get serious about autograph collecting, and I had to keep up with the prospects to know when a particularly talented player was coming to town. I suppose that’s why I love it so much, as I can’t get autographs from MLB players all that often–living 250 miles from the nearest MLB team–so I have to get them on their way up.
In this blog post, I’m going to tackle the prospects list in chunks–10 prospects at a time–but I’m not going to be talking about them all; that would take far too long, and besides, not every player of the top 100 is going to make an impact at the Major League level in 2013. Therefore, I’m only going to cover the prospects who will likely make it to the big leagues this year; including those who don’t make it out of Spring Training, but have a chance of a call up later in the season.
Keep in mind, I’m by no means guaranteeing the players I list below will make the major leagues this year; they could get delayed for whatever reason. In addition, there might end up being a few players I don’t mention that end up making it to the big leagues this season. I’m merely giving my own personal opinions as to which players I feel will make it to the bigs in 2013. With that said, let the debating begin:
Prospects Number 100-91
Gary Brown (100), Tervor Story (99), Aaron Hicks (98), Adam Eaton (97),
Jose Iglesias (96), Martin Perez (95), Henry Owens (94), Oswaldo Arcia (93),
Bruce Rondon (92) and A.J. Cole (91).
Of the ten players listed above, the only players that have a shot, I feel, of making the big league club out of Spring Training are Adam Eaton and Jose Iglesias. Both Eaton and Iglesias saw time in the major leagues in 2012, and it’s likely they’ll get a chance at a near full season this year. In 2012, Eaton was a late season call up, and batted .259 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s, in 22 games. Iglesias didn’t fair as well, batting .118 with a homer and a couple of RBI’s. Iglesias and Eaton should both get a good amount of time in the Majors this season, to redeem themselves. How big of an impact they have is yet to be seen, as they both have fairly small MLB sample sizes.
Bruce Rondon, Gary Brown and Aaron Hicks all stand decent chances at getting a call up sometime during the 2013 season, with Martin Perez standing the best overall chance of making it back to the majors; Perez is the only one of the four who has had big league experience, pitching in 12 games in 2012, and going 1-4, with a 5.45 ERA. The future closer of the Tigers, Bruce Rondon, who has been known to hit triple digits, is another guy who is likely to get a chance at pitching in the majors sometime this season, as he had an ERA of 1.53 in 2012. Brown and Hicks are still question marks, in my mind, for whether or not they’ll make it to the major league level in 2013. They may end up having to wait until the 2014 season.
Prospects Number 90-81
Roberto Osuna (90), Jarred Cosart (89), Jorge Alfaro (88), Cody Buckel (87),
Kyle Crick (86), Joc Pederson (85), Luis Sardinas (84), Michael Wacha (83),
Adeiny Hechavarria (82) and Andrew Heaney (81).
Jarred Cosart stands the best shot, if not the only shot, of making the major league club out of Spring Training, of the ten players above. Cosart possesses a great fastball, along with an above average curveball and change up, but his overall lack of control may be the one thing that keeps Cosart in the minors to start out the season. However, even if he doesn’t break camp with the Astros, you’re sure to see Cosart in the big leagues sometime this season; sooner rather than later.
Adeiny Hechavarria also has a good chance of making it back to the big leagues later this year. Spending 41 games with Blue Jays in 2012, he has major league experience, however, Hechavarria, who has since been traded to the Marlins, didn’t produce nearly as often as I feel he’s capable of, and therefore is likely to begin 2013 with AAA New Orleans. Even with a late start, Hechavarria has the ability to make an big impact for the Marlins this season. With the loss of several key players due to a questionable trade, the Marlins could use a valuable bat to help them out towards the middle to late parts of the coming season, and Hechavarria could be just the guy for the job.
Prospects Number 80-71
Ethan Martin (80), Kolten Wong (79), Zach Lee (78), Matt Davidson (77),
Yasiel Puig (76), Tyler Austin (75), Lucas Giolito (74), Austin Hedges (73),
Justin Nicolino (72) and Allen Webster (71).
I’m not sure there are any players from the group above that have a chance at making the major league club out of Spring Training. Matt Davidson stands the best chance of all of them, however, even he–with his .261 batting average to go along with 23 HR’s and 76 RBI’s–might end up having to wait a month or two. The only other players worth talking about, that could receive a call up during the season, are Kolten Wong, Allen Webster and Tyler Austin. All three have big league caliber talent already, however, it may end up being just Wong and Webster who see time in the majors in 2013, as Austin is yet to have enough minor league experience. But you never know what could happen down the road.
Prospects Number 70-61
Jake Marisnick (70), Casey Kelly (69), Courtney Hawkins (68), Kaleb Cowart (67),
Tony Cingrani (66), Gregory Polanco (65), Wily Peralta (64), Didi Gregorius (63),
Nolan Arenado (62) and James Paxton (61).
If the Padres don’t break camp with Casey Kelly in their rotation, they don’t really know what their doing as a franchise, in my opinion. You could argue that Kelly doesn’t have enough experience, or that when was called up to the majors last year that he didn’t do all that well–going 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA–but as far as I’m concerned, Kelly is the key to the Padres success in 2013, and as such, should start with the team as soon as possible. Unfortunately, however, it’s not up to me.
A few other players who stand a great chance of making it back to the big leagues are Wily Peralta, Tony Cingrani and Didi Gregorius. All three have short stints of big league experience under their belt, and all three also possess the ability to impact their respective teams this season; none more so than Didi Gregorius. Having been compared to Derek Jeter, Gregorius possesses the kind of athleticism that you don’t see every day from a short stop. His ability to make plays on balls that would normally drop for a hit gives him added value, in addition to his ability to hit the baseball in a fairly consistent manner. Peralta and Cingrani should also get recalled back to the big leagues in 2013, but won’t have nearly the impact of Gregorius, as far as I can see right now.
Prospects Number 60-51
Jesse Biddle (60), Yordano Ventura (59), David Dahl (58), George Springer (57),
Hak-Ju Lee (56), Rymer Liriano (55), Alen Hanson (54), Max Fried (53),
Brian Goodwin (52) and Robert Stephenson (51).
Hak-Ju Lee and Rymer Liriano are the only players from the group above that I feel have a chance of seeing time in the big leagues this season. If their time comes at all, it would come towards the end of the season, as both Lee and Liriano need some more minor league innings before they can be considered big league ready; not a ton more, however. Whether it’s this season or next before Liriano and Lee are ready, both will eventually be impact players for their respective teams, as both have the ability to hit for average; though, Liriano possesses a good deal more power than Lee. They both are great at fielding their respective positions, however, and should be receiving the call up to the big leagues fairly shortly.
Prospects Number 50-41
Jedd Gyorko (50), Kyle Gibson (49), Addison Russell (48), Nick Franklin (47),
Chris Archer (46), Jake Odorizzi (45), Taylor Guerrieri (44), Trevor Rosenthal (43),
Jorge Soler (42) and Mason Williams (41).
Both Jedd Gyorko and Kyle Gibson stand really good chances of making the major leagues out of Spring Training. Gyorko had a great 2012, batting .311 with 30 homers and 100 RBI’s, and should make the big leagues without a problem if he can continue to produce the same kind of numbers throughout Spring Training. Gibson, unlike Gyorko, didn’t have all that stellar of a 2012 season, but he’s one of the front-runners to make the Twins’ rotation on Opening Day, just for the fact that if it wasn’t for his health, he’d be there already. Gibson is at the point where I feel the Twins need to give him a shot, and see how he does. I feel he has the stuff to be a near front of the rotation big league starter for many years to come.
Trevor Rosenthal, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi all stand great chances of making it back to the majors in 2013. All three are pitchers, and all three saw time at the big league level in 2012. Rosenthal was the most impressive, pitching in 19 games resulting in a 2.78 ERA, however, Archer and Odorizzi weren’t far behind, as although both ended with a season ERA above 4.00, they showed off their ability to get batters out at the big league level. Nick Franklin is another guy who stands a chance at seeing big league time in 2013, however, unlike Rosenthal, Archer and Odorizzi, Franklin’s time is likely to come towards the very end of the season.
Prospects Number 40-31
Alex Meyer (40), Albert Almora (39), Matt Barnes (38), Kevin Gausman (37),
Gary Sanchez (36), Aaron Sanchez (35), Kyle Zimmer (34), Carlos Martinez (33),
Jackie Bradley (32) and Julio Teheran (31).
Julio Teheran stands the best chance of playing in the majors in 2013, of all the players listed above, but I wouldn’t rule out a call up of Jackie Bradley Jr. and/or Carlos Martinez, towards the end of the year. Teheran had a rough 2012 with AAA, going 7-9, with a 5.08 ERA, and didn’t fair much better when he received a mid season call up to the big leagues that resulted in a 5.68 ERA. While there’s not much room for error with Teheran moving forward, he still has a couple more season to figure things out, before being considered a bust, however, as far as I’m concerned, he needs to show what he’s capable of this year. Both Bradley and Martinez have the ability to receive late season call ups, but it all depends on how well they do during first half of the coming season. While a call up for Bradley isn’t out of the question, I feel the Red Sox should wait until 2014 to bring him up. He’s going to be a great player, and I feel calling him up too early would do more harm than good.
Prospects Number 30-21
Carlos Correa (30), Noah Syndergaard (29), Anthony Rendon (28), J. Singleton (27),
Bubba Starling (26), Shelby Miller (25), Archie Bradley (24), Mike Zunino (23),
Mike Olt (22) and Nick Castellanos (21).
Mike Olt and Shelby Miller saw big league time last season, and both have good chances of seeing it out of the gate in 2013. Receiving late season callups last season, Olt and Miller showed their ability to impact their teams, however, it’s fair to say that Miller impacted his team a good bit more than Olt. Posting an ERA of 1.32 in six games with the Cardinals, in 2012, Miller has the ability to be an incredible pitching talent, once he makes a few minor adjustments.
Mike Zunino and Nick Castellano both could see time in the major leagues in 2013, but I’d say Zunino stands a better chance than Castellanos. While Castellanos hit .320 in 2012, there’s not an open spot for him in the Tigers’ lineup, just yet, so I’d say if anything, it’ll be towards the very last portion of the year when Castellanos gets called up; if he sees MLB playing time at all in 2013. Zunino, on the other hand, could very well see time in the majors just a few months into the season. With the catching position uncertain, up in Seattle, combined with hitting .360 with 13 HR’s and 43 RBI’s, in 44 games, in 2012, I’d say it’s a fairly safe bet to say that Zunino will be playing with the Mariners sometime in 2013.
Prospects Number 20-11
Xander Bogaerts (20), Byron Buxton (19), Danny Hultzen (18), Trevor Bauer (17),
Javier Baez (16), Jameson Taillon (15), Francisco Lindor (14), Christian Yelich (13),
Miguel Sano (12) and Billy Hamilton (11).
While there may be some of you out there who disagree with my opinion, I feel the Indians need to place Trevor Bauer in their starting rotation right out of Spring Training. While he didn’t fair all that well when called up to the majors last year, with the D-back’s, Bauer is the future Ace of the Indians’ rotation, and going 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in the minor leagues, in 2012, I feel he’s ready. Only time will tell, however, if the Indians’ plan on playing it safe, or decide to give Bauer a shot to start off the season.
For those of you who felt that Billy Hamilton should’ve been a September call up to the Reds last season, you’ll get your chance to see Hamilton in action at the big league level this season; much sooner than September, more than likely. Hamilton already possesses the speed of a major league player, however, he needs to become a little more consistent at the plate before the Reds will consider bringing him up. Once there, there’s no doubt in my mind that Hamilton will be a big league fixture for many years to come, as guys with speed compared to that of Rickey Henderson don’t come around all that often.
Another guy who has a chance of making the big leagues in 2013 is Danny Hultzen. Hultzen had a fairly decent season in 2012–going 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA–however, his control was somewhat of an issue. If he can figure things out, he should be helping out the Mariners, along with Mike Zunino, towards the end of 2013.
Prospects Number 10-1
Tyler Skaggs (10), Gerrit Cole (9), Zack Wheeler (8), Jose Fernandez (7),
Travis d’Arnaud (6), Taijuan Walker (5), Wil Myers (4), Oscar Taveras (3),
Dylan Bundy (2) and Jurickson Profar (1).
The number one prospect in all of baseball, Jurickson Profar, should make the big leagues right out of Spring Training without a problem; the only dilemma being, where the Rangers will place him. Profar received 17 MLB at-bats last season with the Rangers, and although batting a mere .176, it’s only a matter of time before he begins to hit at a consistent level. Profar is one of the main players you need to keep a close eye on going into the 2013 season, and beyond.
You can pretty much bet on the fact that you’ll see Dylan Bundy, Wil Myers, Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Skaggs in the major leagues sometime during the coming season. All of them are special talents, however, I don’t think any of them will break camp with the big league club. Skaggs and Bundy are the only two that have seen big league innings, but Myers and d’Arnaud aren’t far from being ready; many felt Myers was ready last season. The biggest everyday impact player, of the four, I feel, is going to be Wil Myers, who batted .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBI’s in 2012. It’s likely that he could’ve held his own in the majors towards the end of last season, but he didn’t receive the chance to prove it. I look for Myers and Bundy to take the baseball world by storm in 2013, with d’Arnaud and Skaggs making a splash as well.
Oscar Taveras, Zack Wheeler and Gerrit Cole could also see time in the majors in 2013, however, I don’t see them getting the call up until the end of the season. All three have the ability to become future MLB All-Star caliber players.
I can honestly say that I agree with the top 100 prospects list, for the most part, though there were a few players that I feel should’ve ranked higher/lower than they were; but I didn’t form the list, so I can’t complain. Now that the top prospects going into the 2013 season have been announced, I ask you this: Which player do you feel will have the biggest impact at the major league level in 2013? Cast your vote below:
Feel free to leave a comment below, with your overall thoughts on the top 100 prospects list, heading into this year.
The original plan for Alex Rodriguez, after undergoing hip surgery on January 16th, was for him to be fully recovered, and ready to play, by the second half of July; August at the latest. That plan may not pan out, however, as in an interview on Friday, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman stated that there’s the possibility Rodriguez could end up missing all of 2013, saying, “I think because [of] the serious nature of the surgery and the condition that he’s trying to recover from, you know, there is that chance.”
While Cashman’s comments are worthy of attention, for Yankees fans across the country, I don’t feel they’re worthy of panic. The Yankees have always seemed to be able to find a way to win, most of the time, even when their chances looked poor. Though the Yankees appear to have their backs against the wall, I feel, with or without Rodriguez in the lineup, the Yankees will once again find a way to make it to the playoffs in the coming season.
How deep they make it into the playoffs is yet to be seen.
Looking at the Yankees’ roster, even without Rodriguez, I see a group of players that have the ability to dominate, but it’s going to come down to whether or not they’re able to perform as well as they’re capable of, throughout the entire season. If they let up, even for a few weeks, it’s likely that either the Orioles, or the newly revamped Blue Jays, will pass them up, and never look back. That’s what I feel the Yankees need to be worried about; not losing A-Rod, but losing momentum.
For me, the key player to the Yankees’ success in 2013, as it has been for the past decade, is Derek Jeter. While the looming loss of Rodriguez is a definite blow to the team, the Yankees have a decent replacement for him, in Kevin Youkilis. Though Youkilis doesn’t have the kind of pop that A-Rod possesses, when healthy, Youkilis is just as good, if not slightly better, of a defender than Rodriguez, at the hot corner. The way I see it, right now, the Yankees can survive without Rodriguez, but in the event that Jeter doesn’t return completely healthy, the Yankees, in my mind, are set to have a very disappointing season; for their standards, at least.
As stated, I truly do feel the Yankees have the players they need to make 2013 an outstanding year. While they’ll be without Rodriguez until at least July–with the possibly of losing him for the entire year–the lineup still has enough pop to make the Yankees a great team. Although the offseason, thus far, brought the loss of Nick Swisher to the Indians, and Russell Martin to the Pirates, I don’t feel those two players leaving will hurt the Yankees all that terribly much. Thus, I like the Yankees chances in 2013; especially with a healthy Mariano Rivera.
If, however, the Yankees end up suffering in the coming season, I’m not going to throw all the blame on Alex Rodriguez. Sure, Rodriguez, when healthy, plays a major part in whether or not the Yankees win, but in the end, you have to play with the players you have. And as far as I can see, the Yankees have the players they need to win, and win often.
Ever since B.J. Upton signed with the Atlanta Braves, back in November of 2012, the question on everyone’s mind has been whether or not Justin Upton, who has been at the center of trade rumors for quite awhile, could possibly end up joining his brother down in Atlanta, with the Braves.
After months of speculation, the baseball world finally got its answer, as it was announced early Thursday that Justin Upton had been traded, and would in fact be heading down to play for the Atlanta Braves, starting this coming season.
In return for trading Justin Upton (along with Chris Johnson) to the Braves, the Arizona Diamondbacks received Randall Delgado, Martin Prado, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and Zeke Spruill.
I, for one, like the trade; for the most part.
I feel the Upton’s will bring out the best in each other, and although a lot of Braves fans seem to be upset with the loss of Martin Prado, at third, the Braves received back what I view as an adequate replacement, in Chris Johnson, who had slightly better stats than Prado in 2012. While Prado had a higher batting average than Johnson (.301 compared to .281), Johnson slugged 5 more homers as well as 17 more RBI’s. Not drastically better, but better nonetheless.
Now, while I feel the trade will benefit both sides somewhat, comparing the Diamondbacks’ side of the trade to the Braves’ portion, I’m not so sure the D-back’s received a fair deal. Sure, trading two players away and acquiring five players in return is always a plus, but the players the D-back’s received, with the exception of Prado and Delgado, are all prospects. And while Randall Delgado isn’t considered a prospect anymore–as he’s had some MLB experience–I still don’t see him making a big impact for the D-back’s in 2013, as he went 4-9 with a 4.37 ERA with the Braves in 2012.
The way I see it, the Braves received a couple of major league proven players, while the D-back’s received just one, in Martin Prado. That doesn’t seem all that even, to me.
The three prospects the Diamondback’s received back, in return for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, are Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and Zeke Spruill; all of which are (at least) a couple of seasons away from being MLB ready. That’s one of the main things I feel weighs down the D-back’s side of the trade.
Ahmed spent all of 2012 with A+ Lynchburg, batting .269 with 6 HR’s and 49 RBI’s. While he’ll still be fairly young (age 23) at the start of the 2013 season, it’ll take at least a few more seasons for Ahmed to even be close to major league ready, and unless he improves in the years to come, considering how much farther he has to go before the major league level, it may never happen at all.
Spruill is also one of those players who I’m not sure will ever make a big impact at the major league level. Spruill, as with Ahmed, is only 23 years old, however, going 9-11, with a 3.67 ERA in 2012, at AA Mississippi, it’ll take a real turn around for him to develop into anything all that valuable, as 2013 will be Spruill’s sixth season in the minors, and he’s yet to have played above the AA level.
The only player I like in the D-back’s receiving portion of the trade, besides Martin Prado, is Brandon Drury. Batting .229, with 6 HR’s and 51 RBI’s in 2012, at A Rome, he’s no superstar, however, he’s the youngest of the group, at age 20, and has plenty of time to develop into the great player he’s capable of becoming.
Overall, I’d say the Braves were on the better end of the Justin Upton trade. I feel the Braves, in addition to getting a great outfielder, may have possibly received the missing piece they’ve been lacking for the past few seasons, to allow them to make a true playoff run.
In addition to making it deep into the playoffs, with Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers in the outfield, combined with an infield of Johnson, Simmons, Uggla, Freeman and McCann, behind the plate, the Braves have a real shot, I feel, of doing what they’ve been unable to do since the 2005 season: Win their division.
This is the second time I’ve conducted an interview with Jason Adam. If you’d like to check out the first one, click HERE.
In the full season in between the first interview I did with Jason Adam and this one, Adam did a great job of honing his skills as a pitcher. Lowering his ERA from 4.23 the previous year, to 3.53 for 2012, Adam showed off his ability to locate all three of his pitches consistently.
In addition to a lower ERA, Adam was also able to increase his average number of innings per game, from 5 innings in 2011, up to 6 innings; further evidence of how much Adam matured as a pitcher in 2012.
Adam spent all of 2012 with A+ Wilmington, and although he failed to end the season with a win-loss record at, or above, .500 (as was the case in 2011), as stated, he improved statistically in nearly every category that he, himself, could control. (I feel the win-loss record is overrated anyway.)
It’s likely that Adam will begin the 2013 season at AA Northwest Arkansas, however, that won’t be determined until late March. No matter where Adam begins 2013, if he can continue to develop into the pitcher he’s capable of becoming, it shouldn’t be all that terribly long before he’s on the mound up in Kansas City, pitching for his hometown Royals.
Jason Adam–top 10 prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At the beginning of last season you stated that you were looking to do a better job in 2012 of controlling the running game, along with consistently locating your three pitches. For the most part, you seemed to do just that this past season. What do you feel allowed you to accomplish those goals?
I think all that it really took was a little bit of effort. Controlling the run game is something that you can do regardless of talent level. And as far as consistently locating all 3 pitches, part of the improvement was due to another year of pitching under my belt. I also had a much higher focus level in all my bullpens and playing catch every day.
2.) Being ranked as one of the top 10 prospects in the Royals’ organization, does it have any affect on you, in terms of living up to the expectations?
I try not to pay too much attention to the prospect rankings at all. My goal is not to be a top prospect, it is to be a top MLB pitcher. If I focus on the goals I set for myself, and what the Royals organization wants me to do, then all the rest will take care of itself.
3.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?
I generally try to ignore my stats until the season is over. I don’t want thoughts of lowering my ERA clogging my head when I’m not throwing well, and I especially don’t want to get a big ego when things are going well for me. Pride comes right before the fall. I do like to look at minor stats such as first pitch strike percentage and off speed pitch percentage, because those are things I feel I can make improvements on between starts.
4.) You seemed to have a close team this past season. Do you feel your relationship with your teammates off the field transfers onto the field, in terms of playing together as a team?
I absolutely believe that a close team off the field leads to winning on the field. If you look at all the championship teams and talk to all the players, they almost always talk about how close their clubhouse was. It just makes the game more fun and when you can play the game thinking about what you can do to best serve your team instead of best serving yourself, then the results will always be better.
5.) Talk a little bit about life on the road. What’s the most difficult aspect of it? What do you do to pass the time? And although you’re playing the game you love, does it ever get old?
I don’t mind life on the road too bad. I can sleep on the bus pretty well, so most the trips don’t seem too terribly long. If I’m not sleeping I’ll just listen to music and stare out the window. It keeps me entertained enough. The only part I really don’t like is the constant packing and unpacking and basically living out of a suitcase. None of it has gotten old to me yet. And I don’t see it getting old, because hopefully before I have time to get sick of it I will be in the big leagues where travel is pretty luxurious to say the least. I’m very blessed to get paid to play the game that I love, so remembering how lucky I am helps me keep from getting sick of the travel.
6.) Obviously the ultimate goal, as it is for every MiLB player, is to make it to the big leagues. What would it mean to you to make it to the majors? (Especially with the added aspect of playing for your hometown team.)
Thinking about making it to the big leagues, with my hometown team the Royals, gives me the chills every time. It’s the place and team I grew up dreaming about playing for ever since I can remember. But I don’t just want to make it, I want to make it and be a big part of the Royals turning themselves back into a consistent World Series contender, and bring that World Series trophy back to KC.
7.) What was the most memorable moment from the 2012 season?
I would have to say when we clinched a spot in the postseason. We had just won our game, and now all we needed was the other team to lose. We were all huddled in Vance’s office around the computer, listening to the game, and when they recorded the last out we went nuts.
8.) What are your plans for the remainder of the offseason to prepare yourself for the 2013 season?
I’m living in Arizona all offseason and training at the Royals’ facility in Surprise. My goal is to put on some more good weight and refine my mechanical flaws to bring back the velocity and command that I think I should have. I’ll work as hard as I can, and let God take care of the rest.
Big thanks to Jason Adam for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on twitter: @Jason_Adam9