International prospects are among the most mysterious — but potentially impactful — elements of the baseball transactional world. If you’re interested in learning more about this year’s class, and have a Baseball America subscription (as we’d heartily recommend), then be sure to check out Ben Badler’s round-up of the latest array of young talent. Per Badler, the Rays and Twins are expected to land two of the top players in this year’s class: switch-hitting shortstops Wander Franco and Jelfrey Marte. The new CBA rules will be in effect as of the new July 2 signing period, and you can find details of those here.
Here are a few more stray notes from around the game:
- The BA staff has also released its spring organizational prospect rankings, with the Braves, Yankees, and Astros receiving the three highest grades. The Dodgers and White Sox round out the top five, while the Diamondbacks, Angels, and Marlins received the lowest overall ratings for pre-MLB talent.
- Over at Fangraphs, David Laurila spoke with several general managers about strategic decisionmaking. You’ll want to read the piece in its entirety, of course, but it’s interesting to note the subtle variations in thinking. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti emphasizes that every market imposes different limitations on a team’s front office. Jerry Dipoto of the Mariners says that his front office has worked to acquire and develop certain types of players. Several execs noted the difficulty of committing to a rebuild, while also emphasizing the need to avoid being stuck in a middle-ground. For White Sox GM Rick Hahn, who has launched a rebuilding effort, “staying the course is essential once you pick a direction.”
- Speaking of the White Sox, former lefty Mark Buehrle discussed the team’s just-announced decision to retire his number. As Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the veteran hurler says he’s “blown away and floored” at the honor — though he’s also apprehensive of the public-speaking duties that will come with it. Buehrle says he more or less decided he’d retire not long after signing his last contract, a free-agent deal that took him away from the Chicago organization for the first time as a professional. “The reason I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want all the attention,” he said of his quiet exit from the sport, which had left many wondering whether he’d pitch again. “I’ve always told people I was a young guy that came into the big leagues unknown. Kind of snuck into the big leagues and I wanted to kind of sneak my way out.”
- Whereas Buehrle entered the game quietly and steadily flourished, righty Daniel Bard flashed great promise before washing out of the majors with sudden control problems and injuries. Now, he’s back in camp with the Cardinals, and as GammonsDaily.com reports (with a video), Bard hasn’t lost any of his arm strength even as he works on a new delivery.
- Bard’s career path mirrored somewhat that of former Cardinals hurler Rick Ankiel — who later reinvented himself as an outfielder. As Derrick Good of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, Ankiel has decided to tell his story of dealing with the sudden inability to command the baseball. That’ll be available in full on April 18th, when Ankiel and Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown will release a book titled “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch That Changed My Life.” For now, you can check out that article and a recent podcast with Goold’s interview of the former phenom.