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Rougned Odor Rumors
Newly-activated Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is expected to miss a full month after being diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest was among those to report (Twitter link). The slugger returned to Texas in a complicated recent deal with the Angels.
Hamilton, 34, was off to a fantastic start in his return to Texas, sporting a .273/.385/.636 batting line with two long balls in his first 26 plate appearances. With the rest of the lineup clicking, the Rangers suddenly looked like the powerhouse offense of seasons past.
Now, Hamilton joins the outstanding Adrian Beltre on the shelf. Of course, that combination of maladies — neither of which looks to be serious concerns in the long run — has also created an opportunity for top prospect Joey Gallo.
The Rangers will need to do some roster juggling, but have plenty of options. Importantly, Hamilton’s power left-handed bat was already accompanied by a combination of Gallo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, and Shin-soo Choo in corner positions. Gallo and Moreland have both spent time in the outfield, and could see time there, while the club can also utilize speedsters Leonys Martin and Delino DeShields Jr. in that capacity.
Jake Smolinski is also on the active roster for another right-handed-hitting option, joining DeShields in that regard. And the rehabbing Ryan Rua is about two weeks away from a return, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets, providing another a righty bat. Kyle Blanks is also injured, and seems a bit further off.
Texas could also ultimately elect to bring back struggling second baseman Rougned Odor, though the team has indicated that it wants to see him get back on track at Triple-A. For the time being, Hanser Alberto is hitting well in his very first MLB action, and DeShields might also be utilized at his old position.
All said, an outside addition seems rather unlikely given the array of possibilities. But there will probably be more roster movement over the coming weeks for an organization that has paced the league in use of the DFA over the past year or so (due in large part to a nearly incomprehensible volume of pitching injuries).
From a transactional perspective, the biggest impact probably relates to the much-hyped Gallo, who was not previously expected to see big league time this soon. He has impressed in his first two games at the big league level, swatting two long balls (including one off lefty Zach Duke tonight) and creating plenty of excitement.
If Gallo can entrench himself on the roster, he has a plausible shot at earning enough service time to set himself up as a Super Two candidate down the road. Starting from his call-up yesterday, he can rack up as many as 124 days of big league time this year, which has been enough in some (but not most) recent seasons.
Odor, too, could see a similar impact if the loss of Hamilton frees up a place for him to return. He entered the year with 144 days of service, making him a likely Super Two, but a lengthy optional assignment would jeopardize his ability to qualify for an additional year of arbitration.
One of the biggest surprises of the season is that the Athletics have the third-worst record in baseball, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. The reason for Oakland’s woes, he continues, has been a bullpen that has performed dreadfully in high-leverage situations. Oakland relievers have allowed an opponent batting line roughly similar to Alexi Amarista‘s career rate in low-leverage situations, Cameron notes, but in high-leverage situations, opposing batters are hitting the A’s relief corps at a clip similar to Mike Trout‘s slash line. Cameron notes that according to BaseRuns, which estimates a team’s win-loss record based on context-neutral data, the A’s should be an 18-15 club. It’s not too late, then, for the team to expect a turnaround — especially with Ben Zobrist and Sean Doolittle nearing returns in what looks to be a weak division. However, the team has dug itself into a significant hole, so even another few weeks of poor baseball might make that hole too deep to escape.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discusses a number of AL West topics and also notes the weak nature of the division. Rosenthal writes that the Rangers, who got off to an 8-16 start, have done well to stay afloat with a 5-2 road trip that has them within striking distance of .500. With Derek Holland and Martin Perez both potentially joining the club this summer, the team could hang around in contention, though he opines that they’ll need to add two relievers to make that realistic. Rosenthal also notes that the Rangers’ front office asked a number of Pirates players about former Pittsburgh bench coach Jeff Banister before hiring him as their new skipper. Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin and A.J. Burnett were among the names to give Banister glowing reviews, and Rangers officials are quite pleased with the early returns on their hiring.
- Also in Rosenthal’s piece, he notes that sources have told him that Yunel Escobar wanted nothing to do with playing in Oakland when he was originally acquired alongside Ben Zobrist in the trade that sent a package headlined by Daniel Robertson to the Rays. Escobar’s distaste for playing with the A’s helped prompt the one-for-one swap of Escobar for Tyler Clippard. Clippard has delivered perhaps the best face-value results in the Oakland bullpen, but his peripherals have taken an alarming step backwards, as he’s averaging nearly four fewer strikeouts per nine innings and walking more than an extra batter per nine as well.
- The struggles of Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor will likely get him sent to the minors soon — possibly as soon as today, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Odor’s batting line stands at an abysmal .144/.252/.233 in 103 plate appearances this season, and Grant breaks down the reasons for his struggles, most notably an inability to make any form of contact with pitches outside the strike zone. Grant breaks down the weak spots in Odor’s swing and addresses the issues he must work on to return to the Majors following his likely demotion.
- Pedro Moura and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register discussed the landscape of the AL West as well as several Angels-related topics in their latest podcast, including whether or not the team should be interested in Allen Craig and whether or not reinforcements are needed for the back of the bullpen. (Much of the roster-related banter comes in the final 10 minutes of the podcast.) They also welcomed Jose De Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle on this episode to discuss the division-leading Astros.
Today marks the 55th birthday of Padres great Tony Gwynn, a birthday that provides opportunity for reflection after Gwynn’s untimely death from cancer last June. Gwynn’s son Tony Gwynn Jr., currently an outfielder for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in the Nationals system, says he had trouble coming up with a specific tribute to his father for his team’s game against Durham today, Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The younger Gwynn notes that his father’s general policy was to “show up, do your job and go home.” Gwynn Jr. did, however, end up with two singles in five at-bats, which seems about right as a nod to his dad. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The Rangers‘ outright of Mike Kickham seems like a minor one, but it could portend more transactions in the near future, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. The move could clear space on the Rangers’ 40-man for infielder Ed Lucas, who could take over for Rougned Odor at second base, Wilson suggests. Delino DeShields could also see time at second, although probably not in a regular or even platoon role. The 21-year-old Odor has hit a meager .144/.252/.233 so far this season, while the 32-year-old Lucas has hit .316/.381/.421 for Triple-A Round Rock.
- Barry Zito, who’s with the Athletics‘ Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, is still adjusting to life in the minor leagues, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes. “I had to re-calibrate mentally and embrace the competition. It was definitely tough, and travel in the PCL is very difficult,” says Zito. “You’re up at 3 a.m., usually flying with a layover, to play a game that day. We’ve already sat on a tarmac in Abilene, Texas. There’s all kinds of shenanigans (with) commercial flights.” Zito, who turns 37 this week, has a 5.74 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings for Nashville as he attempts to make it back to the big leagues after a year away from the game.
2:14pm: Texas has also engaged the Diamondbacks in talks on starting pitching, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Wade Miley and, perhaps, Trevor Cahill are the likeliest targets, per Grant.
1:45pm: Multiple reports suggest that the Rangers and Nationals have engaged in discussions involving the Nats’ starting pitching. It appears that the sides have mutual interest, but may not see eye-to-eye on the pieces they would like to move.
Texas has inquired about righty Jordan Zimmermann, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports on Twitter. But the club has received indications that the Nationals are uninterested in moving Zimmermann, though they will listen on Doug Fister.
Meanwhile, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post hears (Twitter link) that the Rangers have expressed strong interest in the D.C. arms. The Nationals, in turn, have asked about 20-year-old second baseman Rougned Odor, with Texas indicating it is not interested in dealing him.
These clubs make plenty of sense on paper as possible trade partners, but it is not difficult to see why negotiations have landed at the apparent standoff described above. The Nationals have little reason to deal away high-end starters unless they can bring back a near-term and long-term solution at second base. And the Rangers will be loath to sell off an up-the-middle player who just hit at a roughly league average clip at age 20.
Texas has several irons in the fire. Here’s the latest:
- The Rangers are fielding strong interest in their middle infield group, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Jurickson Profar is among the names that has been asked about, and Texas has received particularly strong interest in Rougned Odor.The Rangers are not shopping Odor, who is still only 20 years of age and had a solid MLB debut last year. That pair of youngsters is joined in the Texas infield by incumbent shortstop Elvis Andrus and 21-year-old Luis Sardinas. The potential logjam up the middle has yet to materialize with Profar’s recent injury troubles, though the team could feel free to deal from depth depending upon his progress.
- Meanwhile, the Rangers and Padres are still talking pitching, Sullivan tweets, though Texas has more interest in Tyson Ross than in Andrew Cashner because of the latter’s health concerns and road numbers.
- San Diego is interested in Profar, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But he says that a straight swap of Profar for one of the Friars’ three best arms (Ross, Cashner, and Ian Kennedy) is not going to get done.
- Sullivan also notes on Twitter that teams remain intrigued by the upside potential of outfielder Michael Choice, who had a rough 2014, but that clubs looking to plug an immediate hole do not see him as a solution.
The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.”
In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:
- Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
- Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
- The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, who is in the midst of his first MLB stint at age 20, has switched agencies, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The Venezuelan has returned to Beverly Hills Sports Council after spending time under the representation of Relativity Baseball.
Odor is one of the game’s better-regarded middle infield prospects, appearing consistently on top-100 prospect lists and rating as high as 42nd overall (by Baseball America). He is off to a solid start in his first big league action, especially given his young age and the expectation that he would take somewhat longer to reach the game’s highest level. Through 55 plate appearances, Odor has posted a league-average 100 OPS+ (.275/.283/.451) with one long ball. (He has, however, been thrown out on three steal attempts without successfully swiping a bag.)
If Odor plays his way into a permanent role on the big league club, he would stand to add 143 days of service this year and be well-positioned to achieve Super Two status. Of course, he will face significant competition for a place on the active roster both this year and into the future, with youthful middle infielders Jurickson Profar and Luis Sardinas also in the mix along with incumbent shortstop Elvis Andrus.
As always, you can find player representation information in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
The Rangers will execute a series of roster moves, the club announced. Texas will designate righty Scott Baker and infielder Josh Wilson to help create roster space for the call-up of top prospects Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor.
In the aggregate, the moves represent a fairly substantial re-working of the club’s roster as the injuries continue to mount. Also involved in today’s moves were infielder Donnie Murphy, who was placed on the DL, and righty Justin Germano, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A.
Baker, 32, made just one appearance for Texas, throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing just two earned runs. The veteran had decided not to exercise his opt-out clause with the team, and was rewarded at the time with a call-up. The 33-year-old Wilson had taken 72 plate appearances with the team, putting up a .224/.257/.269 triple-slash.
Both Odor and Sardinas are 20-year-old middle infielders out of Venezuela — though the latter is actually nearly a year older — who have consistently been ranked among the team’s top prospects by evaluators. Baseball America put Odor at 42nd on its top 100 list, while predicting a 2015 arrival. Other observers, such as ESPN.com’s Keith Law (64th) and MLB.com (54th) roughly concurred with that placement. Sardinas, who already received a cup of coffee in 2014, landed at the 70th overall slot on MLB.com’s rankings, though he did not appear it the top 100 of either of the other two.
Before the season, BA called Odor the club’s top prospect. In that publication’s view, while he is somewhat undersized, Odor’s raw tools play up due to an outstanding swing and approach, strong baserunning instincts, and overall positive intangibles. While Odor is heralded mostly for his bat, Sardinas is a glove-first prospect. Speed, range, arm strength, and contact at the dish are the calling cards for the youngster.
The pair of middle infielders entered the year without any MLB service time. Were they to stick on the active roster from this point forward, both players would stand to pick up 143 days of service and position themselves as fairly sure bets to achieve Super Two status. (As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently noted with respect to the call-up of Marcus Stroman, the highest level of service required for Super Two status in recent years has been two years and 146 days. This year, it projects to land at just 2.128.) On the other hand, given their youth and the presumptive return of Jurickson Profar and Murphy, this call-up may not be permanent.
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.
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