Archie Bradley Rumors
Padres fans got some welcome news this evening, as it was announced that Time Warner Cable will begin airing Padres games for the coming season, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs has explained, the failure of Time Warner (and, at the time, AT&T U-verse and DISH Network) to agree to the Fox Sports San Diego subscriber fee not only left many fans without access to games, but put a significant dent in the Friars' expected annual payout. Here's more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:
- When the Padres inked reliever Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $14MM deal earlier in the off-season, it raised an immediate question whether he or incumbent Huston Street would close. As Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, both back-end arms are content with the situation and their roles. "[Street] is going to shut the door," said Benoit, "and I'm going to try to give him as many games with leads as I can." For his part, Street -- whose deal includes a $7MM club option for 2015 -- says that he understands the business side of things and hopes only for success for his new teammate. "It's a smart move on the Padres' part," he said. "It gives them options for 2015. It gives them options if I go down. It gives them options if I struggle."
- After a breakout campaign last year put him in position for a nice payday as a Super Two, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has yet to reach agreement with his club on a price for his 2014 season. The sides' filing figures ($3.6MM against $2.05MM) are the furthest apart in relative terms among remaining arbitration cases. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, however, it remains likely that a hearing will be avoided, as team and player both recently expressed an expectation that a settlement will be forthcoming.
- Despite adding another rotation arm in Bronson Arroyo, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that top prospect Archie Bradley can still earn a starting spot out of camp, reports FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder. "We want to get out of the gate quick," said Towers. "I've said from the beginning, with Archie, it's not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he's ready coming out of the spring and we're a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he's going to be there." Putting the 21-year-old on the MLB roster for Opening Day would mean giving up the ability to extend team control for an extra season, but Towers' statement indicates that is still a real possibility. (On the other hand, given that factor and Bradley's limited seasoning, it will probably be a tall order for him to unseat one of the expected five as a practical matter.) Fellow righty Randall Delgado would likely join the bullpen if he does not earn a turn in the rotation, said Towers, since he is out of options.
- The Arroyo signing has earned mixed reviews; as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth opined, for example, the $23.5MM guarantee that he received is a debatable investment in a market that promised Paul Maholm just $1.5MM. One under-the-radar issue with Arroyo, argues Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, is that his pronounced struggles against lefties have been masked somewhat by pitching in a division (the National League Central) that has not featured the volume of left-handed bats to take full advantage of the platoon split. In particular, Cameron says, should the Diamondbacks reach the post-season, Arroyo's achilles heel could significantly impair his usefulness to his new club.
It remains to be seen whether or not Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but if he is and the Diamondbacks have yet to address their starting pitching needs, expect Arizona to place a bid on the Japanese right-hander, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Here's more on the D-Backs and a pair of their NL West rivals:
- Kevin Towers and the D-Backs don't mind waiting on Eric Chavez, who is deciding where he wants to play and monitoring Arizona's moves, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).
- Asked about the possibility of trading Archie Bradley, Towers suggested today that it would be "very, very tough" for the D-Backs to do so, tweets Gilbert.
- The Padres have interest in Scott Downs, among other southpaw relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. San Diego's Josh Byrnes confirmed that the team is casting a wide net for bullpen help, indicating that he has touched base with "most" available left-handed relievers (Twitter link via Adam Berry of MLB.com).
- According to Berry (Twitter links), Byrnes said the Padres have weighed "six or eight ideas" and have meetings set up to discuss free agents and trades. Byrnes also shot down the latest round of Chase Headley rumors, stating that the team views the third baseman as part of its 2014 plans.
- Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area has some details on the Giants' search for an outfielder, tweeting that the Giants called three times on Norichika Aoki before the Brewers decided to send Aoki to the Royals. In a second tweet, Baggarly says the Giants are interested in Michael Morse and Corey Hart, but probably not at the years and dollars those players will command.
- John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle provides a couple more Giants updates, reporting that no teams have inquired on San Francisco's five starters, but that the club's young pitching has drawn some interest. Shea adds that the team appears unlikely to bring back Chad Gaudin (Twitter links).
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring ... He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy -- he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
This Sunday is Mariano Rivera Day at Yankee Stadium -- a day set aside to commemorate the Hall of Fame career of the greatest closer in baseball history. However, as the New York Post's Ken Davidoff writes, Rivera came close to never saving a game in Yankee pinstripes. Prior to the 1996 season, the Yankees debated flipping Rivera to the Mariners in exchange for offensively challenged shortstop Felix Fermin because they weren't sure a hot prospect by the name of Derek Jeter was ready. Several members of the Yankees staff, including then-assistant-GM Brian Cashman and then-manager Joe Torre talked president George Steinbrenner out of the deal. Jeter went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award, while Rivera finished third in the Cy Young voting with 107 2/3 innings of dominant relief work. Here's more from around the league...
- Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick will be shut down after getting a second opinion on his injured right shoulder, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Though the move could be purely precautionary, Kendrick had expected to return to the rotation. As Zolecki notes, any concern over Kendrick's shoulder could play a role in the team's decision whether to offer him salary arbitration. The 29-year-old is set to reach his fourth and final season of arbitration eligibility, and will be due a raise on the $4.5MM he earned last year. He has struggled to a 4.70 ERA in 182 innings on the season, his worst campaign since 2010. Advanced metrics see things somewhat differently, though they do not necessarily make him look much more appealing in broader terms: Kendrick's 4.01 FIP and 4.15 xFIP are actually the second-best tallies of his career. By measure of SIERA, the hurler has never posted a sub-4.00 season.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that phenom Archie Bradley will not reach the bigs this year, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. "To add him to the roster in the winter when roster spots are very valuable to us -- and the team being pretty much out of contention -- didn't make a lot of sense," said Towers. The 21-year-old starter will, however, get a chance to earn a spot in the club's 2014 rotation in spring training, according to the Snakes' GM.
- Wladimir Balentien's historic season in Japan has led to speculation that he might be a big league target in spite of his long-term deal with the Yakult Swallows. For his part, however, Balentien insists he has had no thoughts of a move, per a Nikkan Sports report (link in Japanese) transmitted via Twitter by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. "No. I'm surprised that's come up," said Balentien in reference to the rumors."I'm with the Swallows for four years."
- Marty Brennaman, the Reds' radio voice since 1974, has just inked a new three-year deal at age 71, reports Nick Hurm of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Brennaman received the Ford C. Frick Award over thirteen years back, and partnered with fellow legend Joe Nuxhall for over thirty seasons.
Where did the year go?
The 2013 minor league regular season is in the books, and the lucky few are currently competing in the playoffs. We've seen a lot of exciting moments during the year. We've also seen a lot of prospects significantly improve their values. To celebrate the best of the best, MLBTR is celebrating the 2013 All-Prospect All-Star Team, which features the top players in the minors at each position. Given the depth at some positions -- as well as the lack there of at others -- this was no easy task.
The players were chosen by considering a mixture of future potential and statistical results.
Catcher: Austin Hedges, Padres -- Because of his abilities on both defense and offense, San Diego's catcher of the future narrowly edged out the Yankees' Gary Sanchez. His abilities on both sides of the ball also impressed his employers, according to Padres Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald. "He has the tools and skill set to impact both sides of the ball... and we are excited about his future with the San Diego Padres," MacDonald said.
Hedges will probably never be the strongest offensive catcher in the league but he won't embarrass himself, either. Behind the plate, he's perhaps the best defensive catcher in the minors if you take everything into consideration: arm, receiving, blocking, game calling and leadership.
First Base: Dan Vogelbach, Cubs -- This position was the hardest one to find a deserving candidate. The Astros' Jonathan Singleton missed the beginning of the year due to a suspension and then struggled with his consistency. The Angels' C.J. Cron failed to consistently tap into his raw power. Vogelbach, just 20, performed well at two A-ball levels and showed the ability to hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a solid clip.
Brandon Hyde, the Cubs' director of player development, said Vogelbach's successes came from hard work. "It was an impressive season with raw power to all fields," he said. "He has an advanced approach for his age, and he controls the strike zone."
Second Base: Rougned Odor, Rangers -- Second base was another tough position to settle on the winner. The Angels' Taylor Lindsey, Cardinals' Kolten Wong, and Twins' Eddie Rosario also received serious consideration before the award went to Odor. The Rangers' prospect hit more than .300 between High-A and Double-A with a strong OPS and 32 stolen bases -- all at the age of 19. The left-handed hitter also popped 58 extra base hits, including 41 doubles. With all the middle infield depth in Texas, Odor could make things very interesting -- and crowded -- in short order.
Third Base: Miguel Sano, Twins -- Sano was the runaway winner at third base, although the Cubs' Kris Bryant could give him a run for his money in a year's time (assuming both prospects are still in the minors). The Dominican native launched 35 home runs and produced a .610 slugging percentage. However, he didn't hit for a great average after his promotion from High-A to Double-A, and he combined to strike out 142 times in 123 games, so there are some holes in his game that need to be addressed.
Shortstop: Javier Baez, Cubs -- There were five players that were considered in this slot, including Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Athletics) and Carlos Correa (Astros). Baez, though, came out ahead when considering his outstanding statistical results and the fact that he has a chance to be as good as any other player on the list. Just 20, he finished the year in Double-A and hit a combined 37 home runs with 20 stolen bases and a .920 OPS.
Hyde was impressed with Baez's ability to make adjustments after being promoted to Double-A. "He hit in the middle of the order on a prospect-laden team. He made huge strides defensively and with his plate discipline," Hyde said. "He has a unique combination of raw power, speed and off-the-charts instincts, especially for a 20 year old in Double-A."
Outfielder: George Springer, Astros -- Springer, 23, had an eye-popping season while playing at both Double-A and Triple-A. He narrowly missed becoming a 40-40 player (HR-SB) with 37 homers and 45 steals while playing at the highest levels of the minors. Springer's approach produces massive strikeout numbers, but he showed improvements in that area as the year progressed.
The prospect impressed the club's front office not only with his play but also his attitude, according to Quinton McCracken, the Astros director of player development. "George is an exceptional five-tool talent, and even better person. He has great makeup, work ethic, off-the-chart intangibles coupled with incredible athleticism... He's a very special player," he said.
Outfielder: Byron Buxton, Twins -- Buxton was the biggest no-brainer on this list. Just 19 and in his first full pro season, the five-tool outfielder played at two A-ball levels while hitting more than .330 and producing double digits in doubles, triples and homers. He also got on base at a .424 clip, stole 55 bases in 74 tries and played above-average defense in centerfield. The Twins have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball and could be a massive threat in two to three seasons.
Outfielder: Gregory Polanco, Pirates -- Polanco edged out a few other players because, at a very young age, he showed a five-tool approach and had an impact in numerous areas. The 21-year-old outfielder showed that he may one day develop into a 20-20 or perhaps even a 30-30 player. After beginning the year in A-ball, he ended the season in Triple-A.
Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said the most impressive thing about Polanco's growth has been his maturity. "He has fit into each clubhouse and added value to the culture of each club that he's been on," Broadway explained. "He continues to approach the game with a learner's mentality and is always looking to find a way to get better. He's not afraid to make a mistake in the process, which has allowed him to progress well in all areas of his game."
Starting Pitcher: Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks -- Bradley and Dylan Bundy grew up playing baseball together, but the former passed the latter on top prospect lists after the Orioles' prospect blew out his elbow. Just 20 years old, Bradley spent the majority of the year in Double-A and finished the season with a combined ERA of 1.84 and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings of work. He also allowed just 115 hits.
Starting Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mariners -- Utilizing a strong fastball and excellent breaking ball, Walker, who just turned 21 on Aug. 13, made older competition look foolish as he produced outstanding numbers in Double-A and Triple-A before earning his MLB promotion. The right-hander struck out 160 batters in 141 1/3 innings while allowing just 112 hits.
Chris Gwynn, the Mariners director of player development, said Walker is oozing talent but he's also an extremely hard worker. "Going into the offseason last year he realized there were some things he needed to work on to get better," Gwynn said, listing fastball command (down in the zone, to both sides of the plate) and improved secondary pitches as two of those things. "Coming into this season he was a man on a mission... and had a dominant season in Double-A and Triple-A didn't phase him. It shows he wants it really bad."
Starting Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, Mets -- Jameson Taillon (Pirates), Kevin Gausman (Orioles) and Robert Stephenson (Reds) also received consideration as the one of the top pitchers in the minors but the final spot went to the Mets' prospect. Syndergaard showed a rare combination of power (his fastball can tickle triple digits) and control when he struck out 133 batters in 117 2/3 innings and issued 28 free passes. Just 20, the Texas native finished the year with 11 starts at the Double-A level.
Reliever: Steve Geltz, Rays -- It's hard to find a worthy reliever because many of the best MLB bullpen aces originally come from the starting ranks. Geltz, though, is still only 25 years old and he was the hardest pitcher to hit in Triple-A (minimum 50 innings) by allowing a batting-average-against of just .152. That mark was actually the seventh lowest in the entire minor leagues. His strikeout percentage (31.3 percent) was good for 12th in Triple-A ball. Not bad for a player that went undrafted and signed with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in 2008.
FRIDAY: Despite Towers' comments, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Diamondbacks are at least discussing Jake Peavy as a possibility, noting that the White Sox have scouted Randall Delgado (Twitter link). Given the number of available relievers the White Sox have, the Diamondbacks could ask for both Peavy and a bullpen arm in a trade, though that's just speculation on my part.
THURSDAY: While many of the rumors regarding the D-Backs' search for pitching thus far have focused on starting pitchers such as Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Samardzija, GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that bullpen help is the team's bigger need:
"I'm not as concerned probably with our starting pitching and looking externally for starting pitching as much as trying to get a bullpen arm," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.
Towers feels that injured starters Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy can help to upgrade the team's rotation when they return from the disabled list. Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com echoes that sentiment (Twitter link), adding that Towers will not trade top prospects Tyler Skaggs or Archie Bradley. Skaggs had been mentioned as a possible component to a Gallardo trade.
The Diamondbacks have actually received a combined 3.33 ERA from their bullpen this season, but J.J. Putz has been injured and Heath Bell has an 8.38 ERA over his past 11 appearances. They also lost one of their top relief arms when Matt Reynolds hit the disabled list in early June. So far, the Diamondbacks have been linked to the Brewers' bullpen options such as John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez and Michael Gonzalez. Other teams such as the Marlins, White Sox and Twins figure to have bullpen arms that could be moved in the coming weeks as well.
You can't begin a month much better than Jake Odorizzi did during his start on May 5th against the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. The young pitching prospect combined with three relievers to no-hit Boston's minor league affiliate. Odorizzi worked seven innings while walking four batters and striking out three. He was removed from the game early due to workload limitations. Relievers Frank De Los Santos, Kirby Yates and Jeff Beliveau preserved the no-no.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Odorizzi, who said he had all his weapons working during the game. "Everything was going my way. The defense was good behind me. It seemed everything was hit right at someone. Just kind of one of those days where everything goes your way." He has now held opponents scoreless in each of his last two starts (12 innings).
Although it's easy to get excited about Odorizzi's quick start to the season, the hype comes with caveats. The young hurler has always been an extreme flyball pitcher and his groundball rate is well below average on the year at slightly more than 22%.
Odorizzi's pitching repertoire includes solid stuff but he lacks "plus stuff." He has average control and above-average command of his offerings: an 87-92 mph fastball, slider, curveball and change-up. In pre-season top prospects lists, Keith Law of ESPN (68th), Baseball America (92nd), and MLB.com (42nd) all ranked Odorizzi amongst the top 100 in the game. Baseball America's scouting report referred to the hurler's ceiling as that of a No. 3 or 4 starter.
Originally selected 32nd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers during that 2008 amateur draft, the Illinois native has been traded twice in his young career. He was sent to the Kansas City Royals in December 2010 during the Zack Greinke deal. Almost exactly two years later, Odorizzi was flipped to Tampa Bay in the James Shields/Wade Davis swap. If Tampa Bay -- specifically its pitching staff with the fifth worst ERA in baseball -- continues to struggle into the second half of 2013, the pitching prospect could become a big-league option later in the year.
Prospect Tidbits: Selected 46th overall in the 2012 amateur draft, Colorado Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler is off to a hot start to his career. Beginning the 2013 season in A ball, he's allowed just 18 hits in 41 innings of work. If the Radford University alum continues to pitch like this he could make quick work of the minor leagues.....The Miami Marlins brought in a lot of minor league talent during last November's shocking trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite that, prospects originally drafted by the club continue to see their values soar. Outfielder Christian Yelich went 5-for-6 with two triples and a home run on May 8th. As MiLB.com's Ashley Marshall tells us, the performance also caught the attention of his manager. "It was one of the most impressive displays of a young hitter I have ever seen," Andy Barkett said. It raised Yelich's average to .343 on the year.....Baltimore's Dylan Bundy reached the big leagues in his first full pro season in 2012 but his development in '13 was halted by an injury. The bad news gives his Oklahoma high school opponent and friend Archie Bradley a chance to close the gap between the two a little bit. After five dominating starts in the potent California League (43 strikeouts, 1.26 ERA in 28 2/3 innings), the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted the pitching prospect to Double-A and he's struck out 11 batters with a 1.13 ERA in eight innings over two starts.
The Diamondbacks have signed seventh overall pick Archie Bradley for $5MM, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). BBI Sports Group represents the high schooler. The sides may have agreed to a two-sport deal.
Though he's a football standout, Bradley prefers the baseball diamond to the football field and said after being selected that "the frontrunner has always been baseball." Bradley is friends and workout partners with Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' top pick in the 2011 draft.
With today's deal, the Diamondbacks have officially signed both of their top picks, Bradley and Trevor Bauer, who has a 1.93 ERA with 16.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in his first 14 innings as a pro.
You can keep track of which top picks have signed with MLBTR's list.
The Mets released Wily Mo Pena on this date two years ago. The slugger resurfaced with the D'Backs yesterday, when he homered in his first MLB game since 2008. Here are some links for Wednesday night as Pena attempts to hit another homer or two...
- A scout tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Twins seem less likely to become sellers than they were a few weeks ago (Twitter link). Minnesota has re-entered the playoff race thanks to a 14-3 tear.
- Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group hears that the Giants are not one of the six teams on Mark Ellis’ no-trade list (Twitter link). Ellis has lost his starting second base job in Oakland and the Giants have had internal talks about obtaining him.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com hears that top draft choices Gerrit Cole (Pirates) and Danny Hultzen (Mariners) will sign for roughly $10MM or so. Two high school arms, Archie Bradley (D’Backs) and Dylan Bundy (Orioles), will likely obtain $6-7MM and some executives see high school outfielder Bubba Starling (Royals) signing for more than Cole or Hultzen.
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick examines the case for expanding active rosters to 26 players. Teams now have sprawling bullpens and demanding travel schedules, so there's support for bigger rosters from Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd, Marlins infielder Wes Helms and others.
After out-matching the opposition all season long, it was Archie Bradley’s turn to be overwhelmed. The 18-year-old right hander could barely contain himself when the Diamondbacks selected him seventh overall in tonight’s draft.
“I almost broke down in tears,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “For me to finally hear my name called was amazing.”
The Broken Arrow high school product posted a 0.37 ERA with 137 strikeouts and 11 walks in 71 1/3 innings this year (while hitting .395 and leading the team with nine homers). He’s just a teenager, but D’Backs’ director of amateur scouting Ray Montgomery says he already compares favorably with older players.
“The tools Archie Bradley brings fits with what we were looking at with the guys on the college front, and he happens to be two years younger,” Montgomery said. “Bradley is big, physical, athletic and has the stuff to be in our starting rotation in the future.”
He also has the stuff to start at quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. The 6’4” 215 pound Bradley has signed a letter of intent to play football at Oklahoma, which gives him a negotiating tool that others don’t have.
Bradley says “the frontrunner has always been baseball,” though he loves football as well. He declined to say whether he and advisor Jay Franklin would accept ‘slot’ money to sign with Arizona.
“I have no comment on that,” he said. “I’m still just enjoying the moment. That comes later down the road.”
The D’Backs have until August 15th to sign Bradley, third overall selection Trevor Bauer and the rest of their picks.