Results tagged ‘ Wil Myers ’

Frontrunners For MLB Awards At the All-Star Break

The final MLB games until after the All-Star break were played on Sunday, and although the baseball world is buzzing about Yoenis Cespedes winning the 2013 Home Run Derby, with it being half way through the season, I figured I’d post a blog entry not on the derby, but on the players who I feel stand the best chance, as of right now, to win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. All three awards have several players who could be argued are worthy, but I have my own opinion as to who deserves each award the most.

Most Valuable Player Award

BS sp-orioles-twins-p30 lamAmerican League: It’s a two-man race for who deserves the MVP award for the American League. Both Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera have already posted numbers that would be a great full year for many players, and there’s still nearly three more months left until the end of the season. But I’m going to have to go with Chris Davis, as of right now. Davis has been one of the best players in all of baseball for the past year, and if he can keep up the pace, should be the AL MVP.

National League: It’s a little more of a challenge to pick one player for who will inevitably win the National League MVP, assuming they keep on playing the way they have been. With guys like Yadier Molina, Michael Cuddyer and Buster Posey in the running, it’s not a very obvious choice. I’m going to go with Michael Cuddyer, though. While Posey and Molina are having great years, Cuddyer is making a bigger individual impact on whether or not his team wins than anyone else in the NL.

Rookie of the Year Award

Wil+Myers+Tampa+Bay+Rays+v+Boston+Red+Sox+vTHBR4fXaxixAmerican League: This was the easiest of all of the categories, for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that Wil Myers deserves the American League Rookie of the Year award. Altough I gave a bit of consideration to both Nick Franklin and David Lough, I just feel that Myers is going to have an even better second half to the season than any rookie in baseball. If he can play to his full potential, he should be able to blow away all of the other competition.

National League: It came down to Yasiel Puig, Matt Adams, Jedd Gyorko, Evan Gattis and Marcel Ozuna, for the player I felt most deserved the National League Rookie of the Year award, as of right now. All of them have been having fantastic seasons, and while they should continue to have great years, I had to go with Matt Adams. I still like Puig, and feel he will be a super star for years to come, but Adams deserves the award, in my opinion. The way he’s been contributing is truly incredible.

Cy Young Award

Clayton+Kershaw+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+v+St+Louis+tphRSOeazpAxAmerican League: When you have to pick between Felix Hernandez, Bartolo Colon and Max Scherzer, for American League Cy Young, it’s not an easy choice. All have been having great seasons, and you can make an argument for and against each player. But after going back and forth between them, I ended up going with Max Scherzer. While it would appear an easy decision, with Scherzer’s record of 13-1, it wasn’t. Eight AL pitchers have a better ERA, but when you combine everything, I still have Scherzer for the Cy Young.

National League: I had several different pitchers on my list of players deserving of the National League Cy Young award, including guys like Matt Harvey, Jeff Locke, Adam Wainwright, Patrick Corbin, Jordan Zimmermann and Madison Bumgarner, but I didn’t go with any of them. I ended up going with Clayton Kershaw. While I’m a huge fan of Harvey, and could’ve easily picked him, Kershaw is having the overall better year, and that’s why I have him winning the award.

But there’s still plenty of time left in the season, and anything can happen.

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With all of that said, this will be my last blog post for a good bit of time.

I’m going on a 24-day road trip around the country, starting Wednesday, and won’t have the time to put in the effort necessary to keep up this blog. Though I hate breaking one of my original goals of blogging at least once every four days, it can’t be helped; but I’m still on pace for my goal of 100 posts for the year. At least I’m incorporating baseball into the trip, among numerous other things, as I’ll be attending the Mariners game in Seattle, on July 26th, versus the Twins. So that should be fun. (I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be blogging about the game.)

Therefore, this is all for awhile. I’ll be back in a month.

Wil Myers to Make Major League Debut On Tuesday

The decision by the Royals to not call up Wil Myers towards the end of last season, in which he batted .314, with 37 home runs and 109 RBI’s, left many people scratching their head. Then, after an offseason trade that sent Myers to the Rays, many expected Myers to get moved to the big league club fairly quickly, especially with the great spring training he had. But once again, it didn’t happen. Myers was sent to Triple-A Durham, where he spent 65 games, before finally receiving the call that everyone has been waiting for.

After five seasons in the minor leagues, Wil Myers is going to the majors.

Pulled from Sunday’s Durham Bulls game, after doubling in the first inning, Myers is set to make his major league debut on Tuesday, up at 71326121Fenway Park, against the Red Sox. Myers truly left the Rays no choice but to bring him up, as he began to heat up over the past couple of weeks. After a short slump, Myers has been a hitting machine as of late, quickly increasing what started out as subpar numbers, by his standards, up to 14 homers and 58 RBI’s, this season at Triple-A. After the recent success, it will be interesting to see if Myers’ hot streak will continue into the majors.

But Rays manager, Joe Maddon, isn’t too concerned with Myers making a flawless transition, saying, “You’re not going to hear a lot of the high expectations coming from this particular desk or this chair. I want him to play. I want him to be a Ray. I want him to run hard to first base. I want him to try to do the right things on the field, continue to work on his defense, try to improve his baserunning.”

Many feel Myers will do all of that, and much more.

Myers is set to take over the right field position, wearing the number nine for the Rays, and is going to bat towards the bottom of the order, at least for now. As is to be expected when a player of Myers’ caliber is promoted to the big leagues–arguably the most hyped hitting prospect to reach the majors since Bryce Harper–nearly everyone is making their predictions as to how they feel Myers will perform. Having seen him play in five games this season, I have a fairly bold opinion as to how he will fare.

I may be placing the bar a bit too high for Myers, but I could easily see him hitting a home run in his first major league game. After all, the green monster at Fenway is nothing new to him, as the Bulls have a blue monster, and therefore, Myers is used to the challenge that comes along with the towering left field wall. But wall or no wall, there’s really no ballpark that can contain Myers’ power. The rare combination of the ability to hit for power AND average, as well as the skill to take the ball to all parts of the field, make Myers a very special player.

Wil Myers should become a major impact player for the Rays for many years to come.

4/24/13 Durham Bulls Vs. Toledo Mud Hens

I hadn’t been planning on attending this game–under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have–but I was trying to accomplish what I was unable to do the last time I was at the ballpark: Get an autograph from Rays’ number one prospect, Wil Myers. That was my main reason for being there, on what turned out to be a fantastic day for a ballgame: DSCN5586 I figured with it being a day game there wouldn’t be as many people at the ballpark, making it easier to get autographs. I was partially right, as while there was a decent amount of people at the game, there were fewer than usual autograph seekers. But in the end, fewer people didn’t do much good, as just like the first Bulls game I had attended, a couple weeks ago, Wil Myers didn’t sign for me. It was very frustrating.

But I didn’t let it bring me down, as the game itself was far more exciting. With there being fewer fans than usual, you could basically sit wherever you wanted, and I ended up sitting in the fourth or fifth row to start the game. The close proximity to the field made the game all that more enjoyable. (Not that I don’t always have a great time at the ballpark.)

Bulls’ starting pitcher for the game, Jake Odorizzi….: DSCN5589 ….didn’t do as well as I had expected him to (though he would get the win) giving up a solo-shot to the third batter of the game, Nick Castellanos, who would go 3-3 for the game.

The home run was a very big deal for me because (for those of you who don’t know) Castellanos is the Tigers’ number one prospect, and baseball’s 21st overall prospect. My heart literally skipped a beat when he crushed the ball out onto the center field grass and I was still seated in the infield. I looked on for a few minutes, fully expecting someone to run out there and grab it, but to my surprise, no one did. A few people went over to have a look, but no one grabbed it. I couldn’t stand to just sit there, so I decided to see if I could make it over in time to get the home run ball.

Now, something you have to realize, at the Durham Bulls ballpark, it’s not a mere walk to the outfield. There’s a big flight of stairs you have to climb before you can make the trek over. During that climb, I had my eye off of the center field grass for nearly half a minute, and I was worried that during that short period of time, someone had gone out to get the ball. But thankfully, when I finally made it to the outfield, in what must’ve been record time, I saw a little white speck over in the grass. I patiently waited for three outs to be recorded before I jumped the short fence, and trotted over to grab the ball: DSCN5602This was Nick Castellanos’ second home run of the season, and just the 19th of his career.

After grabbing the ball, I decided to stay seated in the outfield for a few more innings, just in case anyone blasted a home run onto the grass, but looking back, that was a dumb decision. I ended up getting sunburnt, and as I sit here typing this, my arms tingle with every keystroke. (Perhaps not wearing sunscreen was the dumb decision?)

Anyway, when it became apparent that no one was going to hit a home run in my direction, and that my arms were turning red, I gave up my outfield view, for my original seat, where I had begun the game: DSCN5616I know it doesn’t appear to be, but the seat I was in had just fallen into the shade. It felt good to not have my skin roasting anymore.

Since I had been in the outfield for the majority of the game up until this point, I had missed Wil Myers’ first two at-bats. Therefore, I ended up taking roughly 30 pictures of Myers (I won’t share them all, don’t worry) beginning with his third at-bat of the game….: DSCN5641 ….and continuing with him above the dugout….: DSCN5653 ….in the on-deck circle….: DSCN5658 ….and ending with him on first base, after singling in his final at-bat: DSCN5690 I went a little Myer’s-crazy. I know. I admit it. But hey, it’s Wil Myers.

The Bulls would go on to win the game, 9-8, despite an attempted comeback from the Mud Hens, who scored four runs in the top of the eight inning. I failed, yet again, in getting Myers to sign for me after the game, but I was able to get Mike Fontenot to autograph a card for me. So it wasn’t a total loss for the day, autograph-wise.

It remains a top priority for me to get an auto from Wil Myers, and although I won’t be able to attend tonight or tomorrow night’s game, if he’s still with the Bulls when they return home from an 8-game road trip, on May 6th, I plan on going back. It’s certainly a challenge to get an autograph from Wil Myers, but I generally enjoy challenges, and refuse to give up.

Top MiLB Prospects Ready To Make MLB Impact

There are numerous top prospects set to make an impact in the major leagues this season, as I wrote about a few months ago, but for this particular post, I’m only focusing on the players who are ready right now to get a callup to the big leauges; but are yet to, for one reason or another. Keep in mind, as you’re reading through my list, the players (in no particular order) I’ve included are yet to play a single game in the majors:

The first player I feel is major league ready is Wil Myers. I’ve done a few blog posts on him in the past, about how I felt Myers has been ready for awhile, and I really don’t see the point of leaving him down in the minors. Batting .304, with a homer and 12 RBI’s, so far this season, Myers is one of those players who I could see thriving at the next level. The Rays need to give him a shot, in my opinion.

Bruce Rondon is off to another great start, so far this season. Through seven innings pitched, Rondon hasn’t allowed any runs, while limiting the offense to a .179 batting average. Having been clocked at over 100 miles per hour in the past, combined with the closer role for the Tigers still a weak point, I’d say it’s time for Rondon to be called up, and just see how he performs.

A guy who’s not on everyone’s radar, but has the ability to make a big impact in the major leagues is Donnie Joseph. Limiting the opposing batters to a .125 average, including a 1.35 ERA and 12 strikeouts, through 6.2 innings pitched, so far this season, Joseph is ready, in my mind, to show off his stellar stuff in the majors, with the Kansas City Royals.

Though I’m not quite jumping onboard with the thoughts of others that Mark Montgomery will be the next Mariano Rivera for the Yankees, I do agree with many of them, that Montgomery is going to be a star at the major league level. Though he’s still young, at age 22, having only pitched in just over 100 innings, his career 1.61 ERA goes to show just how good Montgomery really is, and in my mind, how ready he is.

Mike Zunino is the last player on my list of players ready for the major leagues, but as the saying goes, he’s certainly not least. If anything, Zunino is near the top of the list, having hit 5 home runs and batted in 21, in just 13 games so far this season. These stats fall in line with his 13 homers and 43 RBI’s in just 44 games last season, and lead me to believe that he’s ready to face big league pitching.

Some honorable mentions, of player who are getting close to being major league ready, but aren’t quite, include: Bryce Brentz, Kyle Gibson, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Nick Franklin, Jarred Cosart, Michael Choice, Christian Bethancourt, Zack Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, Danny Hultzen and Nolan Arenado.

All are showing tons of major league potential, and the majority of those players should see time in the major leagues at some point in the second half of this season. The remaining few will get their first glimpse of the majors in the early part of 2014.

4/9/13 Bulls Vs. Braves–My First Ever Home Run Snag

When it was made official a few weeks ago that Rays’ top prospect, and number four overall prospect in all of baseball, Wil Myers, was going to start the season in Triple-A Durham, I knew I’d be attending one of the first home games of the season. Though I would rather have gone to Opening Day, it wasn’t possible, so the next game would have to do.

My main goal for this game was (obviously) to get an autograph from phenom, Wil Myers. I had seen on the Durham Bulls’ twitter page that Myers had signed autographs the night before, so I was keeping a positive mindset, hoping he would sign, once again. But it wasn’t meant to be, as although I was the first person to arrive down by the dugout, before the game, when Myers came up from the clubhouse, he didn’t even look over in my direction. He ended up signing for a few people down the line, but I wasn’t able to get him to come over.

This day would turn out to be a horrible one, if you’re a person like myself who loves collecting autographs. The only player on the entire Bulls team, of the players I wanted autos from, that signed for nearly everyone, was Rays’ number five prospect, Hak-Ju Lee. Lee was extremely nice about it, and I was happy to get his autograph, even if it was the only one I got before the game.

After failing to get any more autographs, I made the trek up to my ticketed seat:

DSCN5528Wil Myers, who was serving as the Bulls’ designated hitter for the night, was chilling at the top of the dugout for most of the game:

DSCN5530

As for the game itself, it was one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever seen in person. After Bulls’ starting pitcher, Alex Torres, struck out the side, in the top of the first, the Bulls proceeded to go on a tear, causing Gwinnett’s starting pitcher, Daniel Rodriguez, to be pulled from the game after only a third of an inning pitched, in which he allowed eight runs:

DSCN5544

The Bulls would end up plating two more, for a grand total of TEN runs in the bottom of the first. Five of those runs came from the bat of Brandon Guyer, who blasted two home runs–a two run, and a three run–in the first inning. (The first International League player to do so since 2005.)

Seeing that the ball was flying out of the ballpark, on this particular night, and with the outfield seats being so empty….:

DSCN5546….I decided, as I’ve done in the past, to move to the outfield seats, after the conclusion of the first inning.

It was during my walk to the outfield that one of the most unusual things to ever happen to me at a baseball game occurred.

As I was making my way through the concourse, a guy, who I had seen earlier taking photos with an old-fashion-looking camera, stopped me and asked if I had been getting autographs down by the dugout before the game. I told him yes, and he went on to tell me that he was a photographer from Minnesota that had been hired (or picked?) by the Bulls (I think?) to take photographs of people at the ballpark for an art gallery (or museum?), and wanted to know if I’d be willing to be photographed. As you can tell, I didn’t fully understand it all, but I agreed to it, nonetheless.

We both made our way out to where his camera was, which happened to be where I was headed anyway. It probably took 10 minutes for him to get the photo he was looking for, but I had nothing else to do, and was happy to do it. Here’s a picture of the camera….:

DSCN5550

….with him and his friend standing just below it, looking at the field. So if you happen to see me on a wall somewhere, now you know why; let me know if you do.

Moving back to the game, and to the reason I moved to the outfield, with there still being five innings left in the game after I finished having my picture taken, I was optimistic that someone (I didn’t care who) would hit a home run in my direction. The seats continued to empty more and more as the game went on, and I was getting more and more anxious.

When it got to be the sixth inning, and no balls had even come close to me, I began to feel it was unlikely that a home run would be hit my way, but just as the thought crossed my mind, Gwinnetts’ Ernesto Mejia blasted a moon shot (the 114th HR of his MiLB career), which barely cleared the center field wall. I wanted to just run out there and get it, but I recalled the Triple-A National Championship game, when a guy ran out onto the grass after a home run ball, and the umpires stopped the game. I didn’t want to be “THAT guy”.

So I waited patiently, hoping no one would make a run for it. A few people came over and had a glance, but they didn’t try to retrieve it, which made it extremely easy for me to jump the short fence and run over to grab it as soon as three outs had been recorded.

Here’s the ball:

DSCN5554This was the first home run ball I had ever gotten, and with the rush I got from running over and picking it up, I highly doubt it will be my last.

I stayed in the outfield for one more of Wil Myers’ at-bats, but after he failed to hit a home run, I made my way back to where I had begun the game.

The Braves would make things interesting, scoring two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth, to make it a 12-8 ball game, but that would end up being the final score. As soon as the final out had been recorded, I quickly headed down to the dugout, with a dozen others, to try for an autograph from Myers, but once again, he didn’t even look up.

I did succeed in getting an autograph from the star of the game, Brandon Guyer, afterwards, and he was extremely nice about it. He seems like a really great guy in general, as before the game he went out of his way to ask how everyone was doing, when he came up from the clubhouse. It’s guys like that, that you want to see do well, and I wish him the best moving forward.

I’m not sure when my next MiLB game will be, or whether it will be a Mudcats or Bulls game, but if it’s half as great as this one was, it’s sure to be a fun time.

My First Two MiLB Games of the 2013 Season

Opening Day for Major League Baseball took place on Monday, however, Opening Day for the Carolina Mudcats (A+ affiliates of the Indians), of hawkinsthe Carolina League, is taking place later tonight. For the second season in a row, I’m attending tonight’s game, once again versus the Winston Salem Dash (A+ affiliates of the White Sox), and I’m extremely excited. This year’s Opening Day game is packed with top notch talent.

For the Carolina Mudcats, while their pitching staff isn’t too fantastic, their position players include the organization’s number one prospect, Francisco Lindor, 2012 1st round draft pick, Tyler Naquin, along with top prospect, Tony Wolters, who is making the transition this season from short stop to catcher. Wolters played with the Mudcats last season, and I really enjoyed watching him play. I’m looking forward to seeing how the move to behind the plate plays out.

As far as the Dash go, the highlight of the team is undoubtedly Courtney Hawkins, who was drafted 13th overall in last year’s draft; doing a backflip afterwards. Though Hawkins won’t be doing any backflips (as far as I know), I’m looking forward to seeing the White Sox’ number one prospect in action–maybe he’ll even blast a home run. If nothing else, I’m certainly going to try for his autograph, as I’m also planning to do from the Mudcats’ Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin.

But when it comes to autograph collecting, no other game throughout the entire rest of the season will have more highly ranked prospects than 579585_10151513541113908_2023782346_nthe April 9th Durham Bulls game I’m planning to attend. Having been traded from the Royals’ organization to the Rays, in the 2012 offseason, the number four prospect in all of baseball, Wil Myers, will be there and is sure to draw a huge crowd, so autographs may be hard to come by. I’ll just have wait and see how it goes.

A few other Bulls’ players worth mentioning, that I’m hoping to get autographs from on Tuesday night, include Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, who are the Rays’ third, fourth and fifth ranked prospects, respectively. In all, the Bulls are beginning the season with 7 of the top 20 prospects in the organization. I can’t think of a team in all of minor league baseball with more talent, which is why I’m going to be blogging about the game. It will likely be posted on Wednesday afternoon.

So that’s the basic plan for my first two minor league games of the year. I’m not sure when, or where, the rest of the year will have me going to games; the only game set in stone is the June 3rd Bulls day game, when they take on the Red Barons (Yankees affiliate). But one of the games during the series when Billy Hamilton comes to Durham with Louisville is almost a sure bet, as well. Other than that, I don’t know.

Top 10 Story Lines I’m Planning to Watch In 2013

We’re just over 48 hours away from the start of the 2013 MLB regular season, and I couldn’t be more excited. Baseball fans everywhere are making final predictions as to how they feel things will play out, as players are making their final preparations for the long 162 game season. As my last blog post until the season begins, I wanted to do a brief overview of the top story lines I’m planning to keep an eye on in 2013. They may differ slightly from yours, but I feel I covered nearly all of the major topics:

1. How the Astros will fare in the American League:

Having lost 107 games in the National League in 2012, I’m watching the Astros, not for how good they’ll do, but for how bad they’ll do. Sorry to any Astros fans reading this post, but there’s no denying that the odds are against the Astros going into the 2013 season. Playing in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, with the newly revamped Angels, they’re likely to have just as bad of a season as last year, if not slightly worse. I’d say it would be considered a good year for the Astros if they finish with less than 100 losses.

2. If Bryce Harper and Mike Trout can keep up their 2012 R.O.Y. seasons:103057-768-0

Posting some incredible stats, leading to one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history, I’m going to keep a closer eye on Mike Trout than I am Bryce Harper, but I’m planning to watch Harper nonetheless. Both won the Rookie of the Year award in 2012, for their respective leagues, and it should be interesting to see if their amazing rookie years will transfer into the 2013 season. I’m predicting Trout will once again have a 30/30 season, with Harper possibly recording the first 30 home run season of his career.

3. Who will hit the most home runs in 2013:

The 2012 home run leaders consisted of Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton, as the 1-2-3 guys, and if it wasn’t for an injured Granderson, I could see all three being near the top of the rankings again in 2013. However, with Granderson out with an injury for the first portion of the year–while I see Cabrera once again leading all players in homers, with Hamilton coming in a close second–it will likely be a new face who will round out the top three. Maybe it’ll be a guy like Adam Dunn, who’s a free-swinger? Or maybe a guy no one saw coming, who will have a breakout season? It will certainly be fun to keep track of.

4. If A-Rod comes back healthy, if at all:

While it’s 100 percent certain that Alex Rodriguez won’t return to the Yankees’ lineup until late July, there is the slight chance that he could miss the entire season. However, if A-Rod is able to work his way back this season, after having hip surgery in January, it should be very interesting to see if he can become a decent player once again. While Rodriguez will never be the great player he once was, if healthy, he has the ability to make an impact for the Yankees. Although I’m not the biggest fan of A-Rod, I still hope he comes back healthy. But I find it very unlikely that he will ever again play at a competitive level.

5. How the rookies, such as Wil Myers, will impact their teams in 2013:

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays-Photo DayI discussed this a couple months ago, in my blog post on the Top 100 prospects going into the 2013 season, but this time around I’m only focusing my attention on a handful of rookies who I feel will have the biggest impact for their team this season. Wil Myers is the number one guy on my radar, with Shelby Miller, Jurickson Profar and Billy Hamilton being the other three main rookies I plan on keeping track of. Myers was the minor league player of the year, in 2012, and I fully see him posting more of the same stats, as he begins the the year with AAA Durham. Of the four, Miller is the only player that is starting in the majors to begin the year, but they should all make it to the big leagues at some point this season, and are sure to each play a key role in their teams’ success.

6. How the Upton bro’s do for the Atlanta Braves:

You could argue that, with the addition of both Justin Upton and B.J. Upton to roam the outfield with Jason Heyward, the Braves have the best all-around outfield in all of baseball. All three players have great range, giving them the ability to make plays on balls that other outfielders couldn’t get to, but furthermore, they all have the talent to impact their team offensively as well. Both Upton’s, as well as Heyward, have the ability to blast 25+ home runs and 85+ RBI’s, as well as steal a good amount of bases. If they can perform to their potential this season, combined with the great lineup and pitching rotation they already had, the Braves could be an outstanding team.

7. What kind of a year players who ended 2012 injured will have in 2013:

The reason A-Rod had his own category, and wasn’t included in this one, is merely because his return is uncertain. All of the players in this category didn’t play at all after their injury in 2012, and will make a guaranteed comeback, within at least the first few weeks of the season. With that said, the most impactful players to end last season with an injury, that I’ll be watching in 2013, include Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki and Mariano Rivera.

Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in May, while Derek Jeter fractured his ankle in October, with neither playing any more games for the remainder of the year. Rivera is expected to be ready to go Opening Day, though a slight setback for Jeter will force him onto the disable list to begin the year. In my opinion, the 2013 performances of both Jeter and Rivera will be the deciding factor for what kind of season the Yankees have. If Jeter can return quickly, and Rivera can post his usual stellar numbers, I see the Yankees being just fine.

Troy Tulowitzki injured his groin in May of last season, and although it appeared he would return towards the end of the year, he remained sidelined for the remainder of the season. A healthy Tulowitzki can impact the Rockies more than nearly any other player in all of baseball, though he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for the majority of his career. While I can’t see the Rockies finishing any better than last in their division, I’m planning to watch “Tulo” nonetheless, to see if he can finally have a successful, fully healthy season.

8. How the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels perform with their new additions:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Introduce Josh HamiltonThe Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels made the biggest splashes of nearly every other team in all of baseball this past offseason; at least of the teams that stand a chance of competing. Many have the Blue Jays going the distance, and winning it all, with the key additions of Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, to name a few, though I don’t see it happening. I find myself siding more with the opinions of those who are betting on the Dodgers and Angels to have a great season.

The Angels’ major addition of the offseason was undoubtedly Josh Hamilton, who, with the help of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, has the ability to transform the Angels into an extremely competitive team. Hamilton might end up being the piece the Angels were missing last season, that will help them make the playoffs in 2013.

The number one addition of the offseason for the Dodgers was Zack Greinke, though they also acquired Hyun-Jin Ryu, the highly praised LHP from Korea. Adding them both, to go along with their already deep pitching rotation, could end up making the Dodgers a team to be reckoned with in 2013.

9. Whether or not the Nationals make it to the World Series:

Last season, Nationals’ manager, Davey Johnson, made the bold statement that he should be fired if the Nat’s didn’t make the playoffs in 2012. Luckily for Johnson, they did, for the first time since 1933. This season, however, it’s “World Series or bust” for the Nationals, and although I was a bit skeptical last year, I’m not putting it past them to make it all the way to the World Series this season, for what would be the first time in Nationals’ franchise history. With a fantastic lineup, as well as one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball, they should go far in the coming season, though they’ll have to make it past the favorited Braves, who many (myself included) have winning the division.

10. Which team(s) will have an unexpected breakout season:

Every season, it seems, there is a team or two that unexpectedly takes the baseball world by storm. On paper, they shouldn’t be winning, but yet they come together as a team and are able to do amazing things. The 2012 example would be the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles, as the majority of baseball fans, going into the 2012 season, didn’t see the O’s and A’s exploding the way they did. Truly showing that baseball is extremely unpredictable. Any team has the chance to defy the odds, which is part of what makes baseball so great. Anything can happen.

Which story line from above are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

Chapman Prefers Closing; Myers To Begin 2013 In AAA

When it was first reported that the Cincinnati Reds had plans to convert Aroldis Chapman–known for his overpowering fastball, that’s been clocked up to 106 MPH–from closer to a starter, to begin the 2013 season, I couldn’t help but question the decision.mlb_u_chapman_b1_400

Chapman struggled a bit last year after pitching in multiple outings in a row, so I don’t understand what good would it really do to make him a starter. And now, with the recent comments from Chapman himself that he would prefer closing out games over starting, I question the change even more.

“In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know,” Chapman stated in an interview. “But as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game when the game is more exciting and has more meaning, I kind of liked it. Yeah, the adrenaline goes up and I like to be in that situation. I would like to be a closer, yeah, but there are some things that I can’t control.”

I understand that the Reds would like for Chapman to have a greater impact on the entire game, rather than just the ninth inning, but I feel they should just leave things the way everyone’s used to: With Chapman as their closer. That’s where Chapman feels the most comfortable, and where he has proven to be the most dominant–recording 38 saves off a 1.51 ERA, with 122 strikeouts in 71.2 inning pitched, last season.

To me, there’s too much uncertainty to have the move work out in the long run, especially with Chapman not fully on board.

In other news, Wil Myers was reassigned to minor league camp on Saturday, ensuring that he will begin the 2013 season with Triple-A Durham. Thus finally answering the question everyone had on their minds throughout the entire offseason, of whether or not Myers would break camp with the big league club.

Myers seems to be taking the news well, stating, “It was something I knew was going to come eventually. It wasn’t a surprise at all…I’m really looking forward to getting down there [to minor league camp] and getting some at-bats….I really enjoyed my time here, it was a blast. But now I’m ready to get down to business.”

While I somewhat disagree with the Rays’ decision, Myers beginning the year with Durham guarantees the opportunity for fans, like myself, to see the number four prospect in all of baseball in action. So I can’t really complain all that much.

UPDATE: 3/21/13

The Reds have made the decision to leave Aroldis Chapman as their closer.

Should Wil Myers Begin 2013 In the Minor Leagues?

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 wil-myers-landov2(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.

Top 100 Prospects List Released

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.

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