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Noah Syndergaard Rumors
Monday was Kyle Blanks‘ first home game as a member of the Athletics, perhaps finally ending a very long stretch of suitcase living, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes. When Blanks was playing for Triple-A El Paso at the start of the season, there was construction at El Paso’s stadium, so the team played on the road. Then he got promoted to the Padres, where he lived in a hotel. Then he got traded to the A’s right at the beginning of a road trip to Cleveland, Tampa and Toronto. “In El Paso, we were on the road for 25 days and then came home,” Blanks says. “Then I went up to San Diego, so I’ve been everywhere. I’m just trying to decompress and take a deep breath.” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Padres have promoted Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who they signed in early May, to Triple-A El Paso, according to MiLB.com. Despaigne was impressive in two starts for Double-A San Antonio, posting a 1.17 ERA while striking out 12 batters and walking five in 7 2/3 innings.
- Despite the Mets‘ recent release of Jose Valverde and firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens, manager Terry Collins is “in no danger,” Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. Collins received a two-year extension at the end of last season.
- Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard has been placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes. The Mets say they believe the injury is “mild,” but Syndergaard is headed to New York for further examination. Syndergaard, 21, was a key part of the R.A. Dickey trade following the 2012 season. He currently has a 4.02 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Gavin Floyd made his Braves debut last night and halted the team’s seven-game losing streak with seven brilliant innings, allowing just a run on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts against the Cardinals. That victory gave Atlanta a half-game lead over the Nationals in a surprisingly competitive NL East. Only 2.5 games separate the Braves from the last-place Phillies in the standings. Here’s the latest from one of baseball’s most competitive divisions…
- The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff writes that for all of the successes that Sandy Alderson has had since taking over as GM of the Mets in 2011 — including the trades of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey — his inability to craft a serviceable bullpen tarnishes his reputation. As Davidoff points out, 19 different pitchers have earned a save for the Mets since 2011. He goes on to opine that if the Mets were ever to aggressively pursue veteran relief help on the trade market, this is the year to do it.
- The Mets are discussing when to promote prospects Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, assistant GM John Ricco told WOR 710 AM (via Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone). Ricco said he and VP Paul DePodesta are in agreement that they want to wait until the pitchers have nothing left to prove in the minors. Said Ricco: “…rushing one of those guys and putting on pressure and creating a situation where they’re the savior is not something we’re looking to do.”
- Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com examines Cole Hamels‘ performance since signing his six-year, $144MM extension with the Phillies and comes to the conclusion that Hamels hasn’t lived up to the expectations set forth by that deal yet. Hamels has the 44th-best ERA (3.56) since the time his extension was signed, despite being the game’s sixth-highest paid pitcher, he adds. Seidman notes that it’s understandable for the Phillies to have paid Hamels so much, given his status as one of their best homegrown talents ever, but he wonders if the team should have traded him then attempted to re-sign him the following winter.
- Following up on his colleague Adam Kilgore’s examination of Ross Detwiler‘s curious usage last night, James Wagner of the Washington Post spoke with manager Matt Williams yesterday about the left-hander’s usage. “We’d like to get him in there more. We’ll make plans to do that. [Monday] is an example of we gotta hold him, hold him because we didn’t know how it was going to go today. Turned out that Blake [Treinen] pitched well and we had to get him an inning today and it just didn’t work out. He’ll get back in there.” Wagner also looks at how Treinen has been handled curiously in the minor leagues; Treinen had pitched just one inning in a week’s time prior to Monday’s start.
Though they're in the market for a shortstop, the Mets have zero intention of parting with Noah Syndergaard in able to make a trade happen, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. New York has been connected to both Nick Franklin and the Diamondbacks' shortstop surplus (Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings). One scout that Heyman spoke with said Syndergaard is better than Zack Wheeler. Here are some more NL East items…
- The Braves announced today that Kris Medlen underwent successful Tommy John surgery yesterday, with Dr. James Andrews performing the operation. The Braves will be without Medlen for the season, but the signing of Ervin Santana will help to offset that loss to a degree. Atlanta is currently waiting to learn Brandon Beachy's fate, but Tommy John looks like the probable outcome there as well.
- Cole Hamels threw a 40- to 45-pitch bullpen session this morning and reported that he felt great afterward, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Hamels said he feels that his strength is up to 90 percent. He'll face hitters in live batting practice on Saturday and do so once more before getting into game action. At that point, writes Salisbury, he'll need roughly a month to be ready for the season, meaning the loose target for his return is still May 1.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that Jimmy Rollins wasn't shaken by a report from ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday which stated that some in the Phillies organization feel he needs to be traded as soon as possible. Said Rollins: "It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it is tried to be twisted or said, or if it is exactly how it was said, or even if it was said, I can’t be traded." GM Ruben Amaro Jr. called the report "absolute silliness," repeatedly stating that no one in the organization has a problem with Rollins.
- Manny Delcarmen spoke with the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore about his comeback from an elbow injury that has kept him out of the Majors since 2010. Delcarmen said that following the 2010 season, three doctors told him he needed a second Tommy John surgery before Dr. James Andrews said otherwise. Andrews offered Delcarmen a platelet-rich plasma injection and recommended months of rest, cautioning that his velocity was unlikely to return for quite some time. Delcarmen's velocity has slowly returned from sitting at 88 mph when he began pitching again all the way up to 93-95 mph in Spring Training with the Nats. He's likely to open the season in the minors but could see time with the big league club in the event of an injury after an impressive spring, says Kilgore.
A fair amount of ink has already been dedicated to the friction between Jimmy Rollins and new manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, and ESPN's Buster Olney now reports that there's a strong sentiment within the Phillies organization that the team would be better off trading its longtime shortstop as soon as possible (Twitter link). However, as Olney notes, Rollins has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service and five consecutive with the same team), meaning he has the right to void any trade. Rollins told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury as recently as yesterday that he has no plans to waive his 10-and-5 rights anytime in the near future: "If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes." Rollins has already said as much this spring, indicating that he'd like to become the Phillies' all-time hits leader and set some other records with the club (he's currently 60 hits shy).
More Rollins- and NL-East-related items for your Tuesday morning…
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke with team sources from the Mets and Yankees regarding potential interest in Rollins (both could use some infield help). He was told that the Yankees think it would be too awkward to bring in a name that big in Derek Jeter's final season, and the Mets source simply replied, "Don't see it."
- Also from Martino's piece, Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard was reassigned to the minor leagues today, and while he's likely to make his Major League debut in 2014, he probably won't pitch a full season until 2016. Martino reports that Syndergaard is capped around 150 innings this season, and because the team tries to limit starting pitcher increases to 30 innings per season, he'll likely be capped around 180 in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman, that the team plans to revisit the rehab process of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in an attempt to figure out why each player appears headed for a second Tommy John surgery. Said Wren: "I think we're always evaluating and looking at how we do things and why we do them and do we need to make changes? … I don't think we'll ever stop researching and analyzing. But I can't tell you today that we feel there is a common link [between Medlen and Beachy] other than that they're wearing the same uniform."
- Jamey Carroll's focus is currently on making the Nationals roster, but he tells Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com that he's intrigued with the possibility of becoming a manager somewhere down the line. Carroll has been suggested as a future manager by many of his former coaches and teammates. He calls the fact that young players have been seeking him out for advice in camp with the Nats "humbling," though he hints that when his playing career is done, he may first take some time with his family before getting back into the game.
Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
Elsewhere in the National League:
- With the possibility Niese may open the season on the disabled list, Jenrry Mejia could join Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Mets' rotation with John Lannan earning a relief role, according to Rubin.
- The Diamondbacks are another team scrambling to fill a void in their starting rotation in the wake of the news from earlier today Patrick Corbin could be facing Tommy John surgery. GM Kevin Towers, however, plans to use in-house options like Randall Delgado, Archie Bradley, and Josh Collmenter rather than seek a trade immediately, tweets Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com.
- Noah Syndergaard, who remains in the Mets' Major League Spring Training camp, was the key component in last offseason's R.A. Dickey trade, writes Matt Ehalt of the Record. "I think eventually it got to the point where we needed Syndergaard," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Mets' special assistant to the GM. "I think in order to finish it off, we needed a younger, higher prospect to make us say, 'OK, it's worth trading a Cy Young Award winner.'"
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says the team's bullpen depth is "a chance to move a guy that can go help someone else to add a piece," tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Travis Sawchik. Huntington also gave a near-guarantee Edinson Volquez will be in the Pirates' starting rotation, Sawchik tweets.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post contradicts a story from this morning the Rockies are in the market for right-handed bullpen help. A source tells Renck the club prefers to give Chad Bettis or Chris Martin a chance before pursuing a trade.
- Being forced to rush their young pitching prospects to the Majors has come back to haunt the Marlins, as Jacob Turner and Brad Hand (22 and 23, respectively) are now out of options, opines MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- The Dodgers have selected the contract of Justin Turner and will bring Chone Figgins to Australia, reports Dylan Herndandez of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes broke the news in February of Turner agreeing to a minor league contract with the Dodgers and now the 29-year-old will make $1MM as a reserve infielder. Figgins, who signed a minor league deal in January and is trying to make the squad as an utilityman, will be one of 30 players the Dodgers are taking on the trip (only 25 will be active on game day).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks | Chone Figgins | Colorado Rockies | Daisuke Matsuzaka | Edinson Volquez | Jacob Turner | Jenrry Mejia | John Lannan | Jon Niese | Jonathon Niese | Josh Collmenter | Justin Turner | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Neal Huntington | New York Mets | Noah Syndergaard | Pittsburgh Pirates | Randall Delgado
Baseball prospect rankings are always fascinating, but often unsatisfying. Once all of the exciting projecting and future lineup construction has been completed, you are left to wait for the player to develop and reach the bigs. But youthful players more generally — as distinguished from prospects — can and often are a thing of the present. So, which teams have the best assemblage of young talent, prospects or otherwise? According to Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus staff, the Cardinals lead the way in a top five that belongs to the National League. The Pirates (#4) also land in that grouping, but the rest is occupied by National League East clubs: the Nationals (#2), Braves (#3), and Marlins (#5).
Here's more from the N.L. East:
- The Mets land at 12th on that list, led of course by a trio of young pitchers. One of those – 21-year-old Mets hurler Noah Syndergaard — has always wowed scouts with his stuff, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that he has increasingly revealed a competitive personality as he's come out of his shell in New York. Mets brass is reportedly excited not only about Syndergaard's MLB-ready fastball, but also his attitude toward the role of being a starter. Of course, he does not figure to be much of a factor on the big league level this year, though scouts tell Martino that he could retire MLB batters at his current stage of development.
- Speaking of prospects, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America compiled a list of the players who received some consideration for inclusion in the outlet's Top 100. The two most notable names, perhaps, were A.J. Cole and Brian Goodwin of the Nationals, who appeared somewhere on every writer's list of the top 150 prospects and peaked at 49th and 51st, respectively. It is worth checking through the names for "just-missed" prospects from other teams.
- Freddy Garcia of the Braves is at quite the opposite side of his career at age 37. As MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports, Garcia has started the spring with a strong case for a rotation or pen slot, having now kept opponents off the basepaths entirely in his first five innings. If he ends up not receiving a big league spot, however, Garcia says that he will retire rather than spending time in the minors waiting for another shot.
The Mets didn't exactly dazzle fans with their signing of Chris Young but they could be planning to do something a little more exciting in the weeks to come. The Mets are among the clubs that have been connected to Nelson Cruz and they are still said to have interest in Curtis Granderson. If GM Sandy Alderson & Co. want to get in on Cruz, however, it could prove to be costly. The former Rangers outfielder is said to be seeking a four-year, $75MM deal. More out of Queens..
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wonders if the Mets are going to make a big splash this winter. Martino hears that the Mets were scared by the two-year, $16MM deal that Marlon Byrd landed. At the same time, the Mets have decided to hold a hard line on trading young pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. It's hard to see how they can land an impact bat without dealing one of their desirable impact arms. Martino adds that there is "gossip" around the Mets about GM Sandy Alderson engaging clubs in talks for three-way deals.
- Agent Chris Leible tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) that client Johan Santana is now throwing from 90 feet in Florida and his shoulder feels much better. There's currently no timeline set for the one-time Mets ace to sign.
- More from B-NS, who hears from agent Mike Mosa that Tim Byrdak wants to continue pitching. Byrdak recovered from left shoulder surgery to pitch in eight games for the Mets in September. The 40-year-old has a 4.32 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 across parts of three seasons with the Mets. MLBTR's TIm Dierkes noted ten days back (via Twitter) that two clubs had asked for medicals on the southpaw.
The Mets are looking for players to buy into their offensive philosophy, and that means finding guys with discipline at the plate, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. That might help to explain why the free-swinging Daniel Murphy has found himself on the pages of MLBTR over the last week or so. Marlon Byrd, who signed a lucrative two-year deal with the Philies, didn't show up on the Mets radar because he also doesn't fit the bill for what the Mets are looking for. Possible target Curtis Granderson, however, boasts a solid walk rate. Here's more out of the AL and NL East..
- It was hard to find an executive at the GM Meetings who didn't expect to see Robinson Cano back with the Yankees, but almost everyone expects a leverage battle between the two sides, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman suggests that the Bombers could invoke a similar strategy to what they did with Andy Pettitte after the 2008 season. The Yanks offered the hurler a pay cut from $16MM to $10MM and when he declined, they cautioned that the offer would go down if they signed someone else. After they spent megabucks on Mark Teixeira, Pettitte (reluctantly) accepted a $5.5MM deal.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Mike Francesa of WFAN Radio that he wouldn’t trade Noah Syndergaard under virtually any circumstances, according to Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.
- The Nationals have interest in free agent Oliver Perez, a person familiar with the situation tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Left-handed batters hit .238/.358/.288 against the 32-year-old reliever last season.
- After numerous conversations with player agents and other teams, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman headed home from the GM Meetings with a better sense of potential moves, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays are looking for a first baseman, catcher, and one or two late-inning relievers. Friedman isn't sure if their next move is a trade or signing, but he "would be surprised" if nothing happened between now and the winter meetings on December 8th.
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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks | Austin Hedges | Byron Buxton | Chicago Cubs | Dan Vogelbach | George Springer | Gregory Polanco | Houston Astros | Javier Baez | Miguel Sano | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | Noah Syndergaard | Pittsburgh Pirates | Prospect Rumor Roundup | Rougned Odor | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Steve Geltz | Taijuan Walker | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers
The Prospect Rumor Roundup returns for a second week with a look back at the biggest trade of the offseason…
With Toronto almost 10 games out of first place at the beginning of May, and with the bandwagon already set ablaze by fickle fans, it's safe to say that this is not the type of start to the year that the Blue Jays front office was expecting. The organization orchestrated two key trades during the 2012-13 offseason, which brought a number of high-profile veterans north of the border, including R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio. A month into the season, those five players have accumulated a combined 0.3 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement).
With arguably a top five minor league system prior to the deals, Toronto mortgaged a good deal of its future for a chance to win now. While the veterans are struggling, the majority of the prospects — no longer under the Jays' control — are thriving in their new digs.
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud reportedly came close to winning a big league roster spot out of spring training with the Mets. He was assigned to Triple-A where six of his nine hits went for extra bases. He also added 12 walks before going down with a broken foot. He'll miss about eight weeks, but veteran catcher John Buck is holding down the fort in the Majors. D'Arnaud was added to the 40-man roster in November 2011 and is currently in his second of three option years, so he'll have to establish himself in the Majors by the end of the 2014 season to avoid being sent through waivers to be demoted to the minors.
One of three top young arms in Toronto's system prior to being dealt to the Mets, Noah Syndergaard has a 3.24 ERA in five High-A ball starts. He's been even better than it appears, though, as he allowed seven of his nine earned runs on the year in just one start. Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com recently spoke to the prospect's A-ball pitching coach to learn more about his approach. The Texas native is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2014 so he'll have to be added to the 40-man roster after next season to avoid being snatched away from the Mets.
Outfielder Wuilmer Becerra suffered a scary injury last year in rookie ball when he was hit in the face during an at-bat, ending his season after just 11 games. The 18-year-old was originally signed out of Venezuela for $1.3MM and was considered one of the top Latin amateur free agents in 2011. He's currently playing in extended spring training and should be assigned to a short-season club in June.
Adeiny Hechavarria was signed out of Cuba by the Jays and has taken over the starting shortstop gig in Miami, although he's currently on the disabled list. His offense hasn't kicked in yet but he's playing steady ball in the field and is known for being a plus defender capable of providing a ton of value with his glove alone. Hechavarria's traditional three option years expired at the end of 2012 but he was granted a rare fourth option year for the 2013 season, so he can be sent down to the minors this year — if need be — without being exposed to waivers.
Like Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino was a member of Toronto's top pitching trio. The Florida native has enjoyed his time in the Miami Marlins organization despite an inconsistent year to date and has a 3.60 ERA in five starts in the High-A Florida State League. Nicolino's adjustment to his hometown organization was recently outlined by Guy Curtright at MiLB.com. He doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season. I recently spoke with Marlins Director of Player Development Brian Chattin, who said the organization was happy with all the players they acquired. "Nicolino has shown an above-average changeup and a mature approach to his development," he added.
An injury to outfielder Jake Marisnick kept him on the sidelines until this past weekend. After spending 55 games at the Double-A level in 2013, he got his feet wet back in High-A ball before moving back to Double-A. He has plus defensive skills but a front office contact within the Jays organization told me during the offseason — shortly before the big trade — that he's still getting used to some adjustments made to his batting stance and swing mechanics. Chattin told MLBTR, "[Jake has] excellent makeup, he's a well-above-average athlete, impressive defender in center field and has the tools to be an impact major leaguer." Marisnick will have to be added to the 40-man roster this coming November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
The lesser known name of the group of prospects sent to Miami, Anthony DeSclafani arguably has had the most success of the four players. The University of Florida alum has a 0.44 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 20.2 innings pitched. A reliever with inconsistent results in college, the organization is trying to stretch him out as a starter in pro ball. "Anthony has thrown strikes and lived at the bottom of the zone in each of his starts," Chattin told MLBTR. "We are allowing him to use his curveball in addition to his slider/fastball/changeup combination. He has confidence in his curveball and is using it well as a complement to the rest of his arsenal." Like Nicolino, DeSclafani has to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2014 season.
Prospect Tidbits: With the recent success of 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball is enjoying renewed popularity. Orioles minor leaguer Eddie Gamboa is attempting to become the next successful big league knuckleballer. Benjamin Hill of MLB.com explained that the pitching prospect received some guidance from Hall of Famer Phil Niekro during spring training. Gamboa said that he's currently throwing his new pitch about 50 percent of the time in game situations, much to his surprise. Said Gamboa:
"I always put up okay numbers, enough to keep getting a job again but not enough to get a promotion… My game was stuck… The knuckleball was always something that I had practiced just in case, but I didn't think that just in case was going to be this year."
A talented two-way player in high school, Stetson Allie signed with the Pirates for a $2.25MM bonus in 2010 and began his career on the mound. When he was unable to harness his control (29 walks in 26 innings in 2011), the organization took a huge gamble by shifting the strong-armed prospect to first base. It took a year of struggling to find his footing but Allie is finally tapping into his plus raw power and has eight home runs in 24 A-ball games. Mike Newman of FanGraphs.com recently watched the Pirates prospect play and he also spoke with Allie, as well as Pittsburgh's assistant general manager Kyle Stark.