Can the Seattle rookie parlay a hot spring training into a successful season?
Let’s dip into the Minor League Ball mailbag for a question on Seattle Mariners prospect Mitch Haniger:
Mitch Haniger is having a great spring training. He caught my eye last year and I was surprised when the Diamondbacks traded him. Will he break out?---J.T. in Colorado Springs
Good question, J.T.
Coming into the spring, Haniger ranked seventh on the Minor League Ball list of Top 20 Seattle Mariners 2017 prospects with the following assessment:
7) Mitch Haniger, OF, Grade B-: Age 26, first round pick by Brewers back in 2012 from Cal Poly, traded to Arizona in 2014, then on to Seattle in Taijuan Walker deal; hit .321/.419/.581 with 25 homers, 69 walks, 99 strikeouts in 458 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A, then .229/.309/.404 in 109 at-bats in the majors; an older prospect with a mixed track record, development was slow due to injuries and fouled swing mechanics but has always had good tools including at least average power, decent speed, and a strong arm; step forward in ’16 seems legit although a lot of his power production was in the friendly PCL; realistically should be able to hit .260 with good power; ETA 2017.
As J.T. notes, Haniger has had a strong spring, hitting .400/.443/.667 in 65 at-bats. He’s knocked two homers but what really stands out are ten doubles. He’s also stolen three bases in three attempts. On the negative side, his BB/K ratio is not very good with three whiffs and 12 strikeouts, though obviously this hasn’t impacted his production.
Shortly after the Mariners acquired Haniger in November, Jake Mailhot at Lookout Landing filed this report on the changes in Haniger’s swing that resulted in his production outburst last year. It appears that he’s maintained those changes this spring. Of course, as the saying goes, it is only Spring Training. The key will be maintaining this in April and May and in the dog days of summer.
Objective projection systems like ZIPS or Steamer look at the entire body of Haniger’s career and aren’t aware of the swing changes. They aren’t especially optimistic: ZIPs projects him at .237/.302/.409, Steamer at .249/.315/.414. On the other hand, Baseball Prospectus is more sanguine at .254/.328/.450.
My personal opinion is that Haniger will be able to maintain most of this progress and will hit around .260 with good power, close to the Prospectus numbers.
I want your opinion!
Going into the 2017, I’m trying to make the draft content I produce the best I’ve ever done, but writing takes time. Therefore, I’m doing prewrites for the articles that are going to be published on this fantastic website and the other two I write for, Bless You Boys and Purple Row, who focus on the Tigers and Rockies, respectively. I’ve written about 3B Jake Burger, RHP Shane Baz, and LHP Jacob Heatherly so far, but after that, I’ve hit a bit of a brick wall.
So, who do you want me to write about?
I am willing to do any prospect that is recognized by at least two national services. If the guy you want isn’t in the poll, then drop a comment, and vote on that using recs. Please do not suggest someone who has already had a full profile written. You can find the full list here. Thanks!
2017-03-28T11:57:29-04:00The Rule 5 pick is hitting just .155 this spring. Should the Padres keep him? On my morning internet stroll through baseball prospect news, I came across this article at Gaslampball about San Diego Padres infielder Allen Cordoba. The author, roydjt, examines the similarities and differences between 2016 Rule 5 pick Cordoba and 2014 Philadelphia Phillies Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera, who parlayed that opportunity into a 2016 All-Star slot and a new five-year contract. As roydjt points out, one large difference between the two is experience level: Herrera had a year of Double-A under his belt when the Phillies plucked him out of the Rangers farm system, while Cordoba is attempting to make a much more difficult leap from rookie ball to the Show. And the difficulty of that leap has been evident this spring: he's hitting just .155/.222/.172 in 58 at-bats. Still, the Padres have seen fit to give him considerable playing time, he has yet to get sent back to the Cardinals system, and there's still a chance he could make the Opening Day roster as a utility man. And apparently it is not a small chance: the Padres are doing "everything possible" to find a way to keep Cordoba in the organization according to Derrick Goold at the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “What drew us to him in the first place was just his overall athleticism,” Padres manager Andy Green told MLB.com. “That gives him a fighting chance to make the roster. He can run, so he’s a pinch-runner. He’s looking at that 25th spot, and he’s fighting hard.” Put another way, they don't care that he's hitting .155. They are looking at the other things he can do while hoping that the bat comes around a few years down the road. What do you guys think about Cordoba? If you were the Padres, would you give him the roster spot? Or perhaps work out a side deal with the Cardinals to keep him? Poll What should the Padres do with Allen Cordoba? Keep him on the 25-man at all costs Try to work out a trade with the Cards, but let him go if it doesn't work out Send him back 236 votes | Results [...]
Trey Mancini, Dansby Swanson, and Albert Almora contributed more hot rookie performances yesterday
Good morning everyone and welcome to the Minor League Ball Gameday discussion thread for Tuesday, March 28th, 2017. Let’s get down to business.
****Baltimore Orioles prospect Trey Mancini went 3-for-3 yesterday with two runs scored in an 11-9 loss to the Boston Red Sox. This raises his spring line to .357 in 56 at-bats with three homers and 13 RBI.
****Atlanta Braves shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson went 3-for-3 yesterday in an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers, scoring three of Atlanta’s runs. He is now hitting .313 in 32 at-bats on the spring.
****Another good game yesterday from Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora, going 2-for-4 with a run scored in a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He’s now hitting .322 on the spring.
****Mike Petriello at MLB.com has an article up this morning about Statcast and Miguel Cabrera. Could Cabrera actually be under-rated?
****Julien Assouline at Beyond the Boxscore points out the historical uniqueness of Houston Astros star Jose Altuve. “Baseball has never had anyone of Altuve’s height perform the way he does.”
****The Chicago White Sox have sold outfielder Peter Bourjos to the Tampa Bay Rays. Jim Margalus at South Side Sox writes that this will open up a spot for outfield prospect Jacob May.
****We’ve sung the praises of New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird more than once per spring. Nicolas Stellini at Fangraphs adds another voice to the chorus.
We pegged him as a sleeper pre-season and his spring has been excellent
Back on February 22nd, we highlighted Cleveland Indians prospect Yandy Diaz. More than a month has passed so let’s check in.
It is going very well: Diaz has been the talk of Indians camp, hitting a robust .424/.537/.606 with seven walks and four strikeouts in 33 at-bats. As usual his plate discipline has been excellent. Speculation that his power will increase looks realistic. He missed time with a groin injury and despite the strong hitting has also spent a great deal of time focusing on his defense at third base, as noted last week by Jordan Bastian at MLB.com.
Diaz has quickly emerged as a fan favorite in the battle for infield playing time but there are other considerations. He is a non-roster invitee, so if the Indians want to take him north they will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. His defense, as noted, still needs work, making it less likely that Diaz is the best option to help cover for the currently-injured Jason Kipnis. As Terry Pluto at the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes, “the Indians will probably use Gio Urshela at third base. Jose Ramirez will move from third to second base as Kipnis recovers.”
This would put Diaz back in Triple-A playing regularly and working on his defense and waiting for a spot to open up. It’s a long season, and at some point such an opporunity will certainly appear as other players struggle or get hurt.
Pluto has no doubts about Diaz’s bat: “Yandy Diaz may be the best young hitter that I've seen in a Tribe spring training since Victor Martinez.”
That’s high praise. And if Diaz continues to add power to his already-excellent approach, it will be well deserved.
How would you handle the Yankees pitching prospect?
Let's revive a very old feature from the early days of Minor League Ball. Let's play "You're the Farm Director!"
You woke up this morning and discovered that you are now in charge of the New York Yankees farm system. Brian Cashman calls you up and asks you for a development plan for pitching prospect James Kaprielian. He needs it in five minutes.
You frantically do some Googling and discover this fine article at Baseball America posted this morning by Josh Norris discussing Kaprielian's spring. Then your laptop crashes and before you can reboot and reload, Cashman has called back and asks for your decision.
Where do you send Kapreilian to open 2017? How rapidly are you willing to promote him if he performs well? Where does he rank in your list of Yankees pitching prospects? Is he a candidate for promotion to the major leagues?
Take the poll question below and lay out your thinking in the comments.
Albert Almora slams two homers for Cubs and other baseball reading for your Monday
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Minor League Ball Gameday discussion thread for Monday, March 27th. Here are some baseball items worthy of your attention as the work week begins and spring training enters the final week.
****MLB Spring Training Scoreboard
****Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora hit two homers yesterday, driving in five in a 22-4 drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds.
****Andrew Benintendi hit a home run in a 7-2 Boston Red Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. He is now hitting .315/.387/.593 in spring camp.
****Joe Clarkin at Beyond the Boxscore takes a close look at Colorado Rockies right-hander Jon Gray and finds factors that could help him survive and thrive despite pitching half his games in Coors Field.
****Eric Stephen at TrueBlueLA comments on the critical roster decisions facing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
****Travis A. Barnett at BucsDugout asks if Tyler Glasnow has shown enough to earn the Pittsburgh Pirates fifth starter job.
****At Fangraphs, Travis Sawchik writes about the changes that New York Yankees prospect Aaron Judge made to his swing in the off-season.
****At The Hardball Times, Ryan Pollack wonders if the Houston Astros pitching staff struggled in April 2016 because too many of their pitchers were too similar. What do the sabermetrics say?
2017-03-27T11:34:08-04:00As spring training winds down, let's revise the Top 200 prospects list Here is a revised version of the 2017 Minor League Ball Top 200 MLB prospects list. The original version as published in late February. The changes here are relatively minor: it is my philosophy to avoid wild swings in rankings to mitigate the temptation to over-react to small sample sizes. There are a few key exceptions: ****Cardinals prospect Alex Reyes has dropped from Number Four to Number 53 due to Tommy John surgery ****Pirates prospect Austin Meadows has been boosted from 20th to seventh. Spring training performance was part of that, but the main reason was that after a full review I decided his original ranking was about 10 spots too low. ****Braves prospect Ronald Acuna moved from 68th to 38th. Although there has been a lot of public buzz about him lately, this particular change was due to a tip from a trusted source. We’ll see if it pans out. ****Astros prospect A.J. Reed went from somewhere in the low 200s to 66th. The hot spring is part of that, but mostly it is because I buy into the reports that he has fixed his swing mechanics and suspect that this will be sustainable. As with the February version, think of this as tiers rather than exact placement the further down the list you go. I will be around to answer questions in the comments section. 1) Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox, Grade A 2) Yoan Moncada, INF, White Sox, Grade A 3) Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves, Grade A 4) Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees, Grade A/A- (previously 7th) 5) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates, Grade A/A- (previously 6th) 6) Amed Rosario, SS, Mets, Grade A/A- (5th) 7) Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates, Grade A- (20th) 8) Franklin Barreto, SS-2B, Athletics, Grade A- (12th) 9) Eloy Jimenez, OF, Cubs, Grade A- (11th) 10) Ozzie Albies, INF, Braves, Grade A- 11) Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox, Grade A- (9th) 12) Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers, Grade A- (13th) 13) Lucas Giolito, RHP, White Sox, Grade A-/B+ (14th) 14) Jose De Leon, RHP, Rays, Grade A-/B+ (8th) 15) Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox, Grade A-/B+ 16) Willy Adames, SS, Rays, Grade B+/A- 17) Francisco Mejia, C, Indians, Grade B+/A- (19th) 18) Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies, Grade B+/A- (17th) 19) Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Dodgers, Grade B+/A- (18th) 20) Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians, Grade B+/A- (32nd) 21) Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Padres, Grade B+/A- 22) Victor Robles, OF, Nationals, Grade B+/A- 23) Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds, Grade B+/A- 24) Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays, Grade B+/A- 25) Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates, Grade B+/A- 26) Kolby Allard, LHP, Braves, Grade B+/A- 27) Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees, Grade B+ (34th) 28) J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies, Grade B+ (27) 29) Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates, Grade B+ (28) 30) Francis Martes, RHP, Astros, Grade B+ (29) 31) Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B+ (30) 32) Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, White Sox, Grade B+ (31) 33) Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers, Grade B+ 34) Manny Margot, OF, Padres, Grade B+ (35) 35) Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros, Grade B+ (36) 36) Josh Hader, LHP, Brewers, Grade B+ (37) 37) David Paulino, RHP, Astros, Grade B+ (38) 38) Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves, Grade B+ (68) 39) Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds, Grade B+ (50) 40) Blake Rutherford, OF, Yankees, Grade B+ (39) 41) Mickey Moniak, OF, Phillies, Grade B+ (40) 42) Vladimir Guerrero Jr, OF, Blue Jays, Grade B+ (41) 43) Nick Gordon, SS, Twins, Grade B+ (42) 44) James Kaprielian, RHP, Yankees, Grade B+ (62) 45) Robert Gsellman, RHP, Mets, Grade B+ (59) 46) Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians, Grade B+ (43) 47) Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners, Grade B+ (44) 48) Jason Groome, LHP, Red Sox, Grade B+ (45) 49) Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Rockies, Grade B+ (46) 50) Erick Fedde, RHP, Nationals, Grade B+ (47) 51) Corey Ray, OF, Brewers, Grade B+ (48) 52) Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays, Grade B+ (49) 53) Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals, Grade B+ (4) 54) A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics, Grade B+ (51) 55) [...]