2016-10-21T11:00:03-07:00A look at the first basemen throughout the organization This week on State of the Farm, we’ll be taking a look at some of the more notable first base prospects throughout the system. How close is Vogelbach to being a MLB contributor? Is there anything left in the cupboard once you look past Vogelbach and Peterson? Are there any breakout candidates lurking? I did my best to answer all of these questions this week. Overview Going purely by numbers, this group of first basemen enjoyed a marvelous 2016, with multiple guys putting up some of the best numbers of their careers. From a scouting perspective, the group is rather thin outside of the two big names (Daniel Vogelbach, D.J. Peterson). The good news is that, of those two players, one already had a cup of coffee this year and the other is starting to gingerly tap on Safeco’s door. MLB-Ready Group Not only is Dan Vogelbach the best first base prospect in the system, he is also the only one of the bunch that I expect to have a legitimate shot at winning the first base job right out of camp next season. Vogelbach made his MLB debut this year, going 1 for 10 with five strikeouts before having his playing time completely dissipate due to the Mariners’ late playoff push. His at-bats weren’t pretty, but putting a significant amount of stock into thirteen total at-bats against a level of pitching he had never seen before feels foolish; there’s still plenty to love about what he brings to the plate. Despite his massive size, he isn’t a “go deep or strike out trying” archetype. Across six seasons and 2,329 plate appearances in the minor leagues, Vogelbach has posted a .391 OBP that isn’t the slightest bit AVG or BABIP-driven. He’s exhibited a strong feel for the strike zone and the ability to string together positive plate appearances on a consistent basis all throughout his career. And while he still exhibits impressive power at times, he’s willing to sacrifice some pop in order to use the entirety of the field. Vogelbach has also flashed the ability to hit lefties semi-decently, or, enough so that you wouldn’t have to plug the roster up with a first base platoon should he prove himself ready and able. Is it wise to head into 2017 with Vogelbach penciled in as the starting first baseman? Absolutely not, but of all the first base prospects, he is the most ready by a decent margin, and I expect he’ll get the longest look in March. On the Horizon D.J. Peterson put himself back on the map with a big 2016 that saw him put up a 155 wRC+ over his final ~200 at-bats in Jackson before receiving a bump up to Triple-A Tacoma, where he cooled off considerably (97 wRC+ in 192 plate appearances). Plans to teach him how to play the outfield were in place before an injury ended his 2016. Peterson is a decent athlete and drew some strong reviews for his work with the glove in Jackson, but at this point it’s impossible to predict how he’d perform as an outfielder. If he manages to be decent out there and can prove himself at the plate against Triple-A competition, he could find himself in Seattle sooner rather than later in 2017. Significant mechanical changes at the plate in 2016 seem to have him back on track from an offensive standpoint, now it all just comes down to how they’ll best utilize him and how good his bat really is. We’re going to learn a lot about Peterson in 2017, but in terms of how far he is from potentially being a contributor in Seattle, the answer is ‘not very’. Way Off in the Distance After Peterson and Vogelbach, things start getting a little fuzzy. Kyle Petty put up one of the best seasons in the entire organization at High-A Bakersfield, but he looked totally overmatched in every way during his brief stint with Double-A Jackson. He would ultimately receive a demotion back to Bakersfield, where he went right back to raking. Weirder things have happened, but those with high hopes for the 25-year-old Petty should probably purchase stock elsewhere. Dalton Kelly put together a lovely year in Class-A Clinton, slashing .29[...]
2016-10-21T09:00:03-07:00The Good, the Bad, the Disarmingly Handsome There’s probably not a day that I don’t miss being in school. I love the rhythm of the school day, the school year: especially that last day before summer vacation, the melancholy of knowing you’re leaving another year behind mingled with the excitement of a series of warm, free days stretching ahead of you. More importantly, summer vacation provides a time to reflect and stretch into the new version of yourself; it is a time for reckoning, for tabulating, for tracking growth. With that in mind, here’s what stands out about the 2016 season in the minds of the Lookout Landing staffers, as we embark on our upside-down summer: David Skiba: This past season, while not over for the lucky few, still hasn't fully settled in my mind. I am unsure how to process it entirely, being honest. Maybe that's what this season taught me more than anything else: lack of processing. It's very difficult to cover a team that is in the thick of competition. It's even more difficult when the season looks lost and won four times over. I think, more than ever, I'm more disillusioned by advanced statistical measurement than ever in the climate of the current league. Teams are stealing outs with video replay in a sort of reverse-small ball. Talent is becoming harder and harder to find. Watching home runs reach a peak that makes the Steroid Era look weak while K rate keeps climbing poses a lot of issues for me. I've talked to multiple people in the game that it has never before been so polarizing to watch. A 5-2 game could see all the scoring on just three swings of the bat and 20 K's between the 54 outs. I learned to trust my eye more, especially if the ball is indeed juiced. It's become more apparent than ever what swings will translate into a legit tool, now that 20 bombs feels somewhat commonplace. The way I'm seeing the game has changed a lot, and in ways that I'm still unsure of, and I hope it has for you, as well. The sort of baseball that is happening now hasn't really ever happened before. I also remembered that it's really just fun to win more than you lose. Scott George: There is a song by Dustin Kensrue of Thrice when he decided to make a solo record called "Blood and Wine" and the chorus is essentially, "Once you taste blood, wine is too thin." Vampiric visuals aside, I feel like this is appropriate for the outlook of this 2016 season. We got greedy. This is the first year of this regime and I feel like a lot of us ended up pretty disappointed to miss the playoffs when we were initially going to be happy with a season over .500. I believe that I had the M's slated for 86 wins in our season prediction piece (I said I believe, don't @ me!) and there's a lot to be pleased with what we saw this year. The farm system feels like it's being rehabilitated, and turning around quickly. The major league product was very good considering the shaky pitching staff and some pretty gnarly slumps. Bottom line is that there's a lot to look forward to in the upcoming seasons. I feel like this was Dipoto's first snowball being rolled off the top of a mountain and it's quickly becoming an avalanche. In a good way? In a good way. Grant Brondson: More than anything, I think Jerry Dipoto defined the 2016 season. With Ocean’s Eleven-level heists like the Leonys Martín or Ariel Miranda trades balanced out by deals giving away Mark Trumbo and Brad Miller, the returns have been mixed. But he has undeniably put his own spin on this organization, and it’s exciting to imagine what he’ll do this offseason. I doubt we’ll see any major moves—no Robinson Canó signings or Cliff Lee trades—but Dipoto & Co. have proved that even minor tweaks can be just as effective. So, in other words, I’m excited at the abundance of competence in the front office. It would be folly to attribute this all to Dipoto, as a front office is made up of many different analysts and scouts, but it is under his leadership that they have been able to shine. This team still features stars[...]
2016-10-21T07:00:11-07:00Can you name all 16 Mariners who hit a dinger in the postseason? It is playoff baseball season (fun!), but the Mariners are not currently playing playoff baseball (sad). However, that doesn't mean that today's Sporcle can't be about the M's and their previous postseason triumphs. Today's quiz asks you to name all of the Mariners who hit dingers in a playoff game. Sixteen former M's have combined to hit a total of 40 postseason home runs. How many of them can you name? Good luck! style="width: 100%;" src="http://www.sporcle.com/framed/?v=6&pm&gid=eedf35869aa&fid=5809a86b2470a&width=580" id="spFrame5809a86b2470a" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"> At the podium for Fungo Golf:@MannyActa14 - GoldTim Bogar - SilverMike Hampton - BronzeM's Games #GoMariners pic.twitter.com/5pFLqVyHMs — MarinersGames (@MarinersGames) August 26, 2016 Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (Pitching coach and Taijuan Walker whisperer (not pictured)) Casey Candaele (Exuberant youthful elder with gum skills) src="http://m.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1151241683&topic_id=63817564&width=400&height=224&property=mlb" width="400" height="224" frameborder="0"> Mike Hampton (Bullpen coach and selfie student) Edgar Martinez (Hitting coach and future Hall of Famer) width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KWhjzhi690c" frameborder="0"> Chris Prieto (former Quality Assurance coach, now Special Projects coach), Fleming Baez (bullpen catcher), and Nasussel Cabrera (batting practice pitcher), will also all be returning for 2017. The actual big news for this blurb is that Scott Brosius, the 2016 Tacoma Rainiers hitting coach, was added to the Major League coaching staff as Assistant Coach. There will hopefully be a more in depth piece on him sometime next week, but in the meantime here are some quick facts. 2016 was his first season as a professional coach, before that he was head coach at Linfield College for eight seasons and won the national championships with them in 2013. He's a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and threw out the first pitch of a World Series game for the New York Yankees (his former team). He was incredibly well-regarded while at Linfield, and has been largely credited with Mike Zunino's turnaround in Tacoma this season. What his specific role will be, as ambiguous Assistant Coach, isn't known yet, but by all accounts this is a good move by the Mariners to add to an already strong coaching staff. [...]
2016-10-20T09:00:02-07:00“There is a little of everything, apparently, in nature, and freaks are common” - Samuel Beckett, Molloy Deep under Safeco is a lab where Jerry Dipoto keeps his pitchers, running tests and diagnostics on them and making them watch continuously looped footage of pitchers controlling the zone, Clockwork Orange-style. How did the weirdest examples of his human menagerie fare in 2016? RHP Dan Altavilla - Beast Dan Altavilla doesn’t pitch so much as he gives you a front-row ticket to the Shove Show. After being called up in late August, Altavilla showed why his nicknames include “Diesel” and “Animal,” exhibiting a combination of strength and ability to locate that induced a mere 16.7% hard contact rate in his brief (12.1 innings, so SSS) debut. Former Jackson teammate Edwin Díaz gets all the strikeout attention, but Altavilla showed he was able to translate his 10.32 K/9 from AA to the majors, recording ten strikeouts while issuing just one walk. Transitioning to the bullpen has allowed Altavilla, an extreme groundball pitcher, to focus on his two best pitches: the fastball and slider. His fastball has picked up considerably, clocking anywhere from 94-100 mph, and his slider regularly touches 89 or 90, the 17th fastest in the league (min. 50 pitches). The 56% swing rate on his fastball ranks 14th among relief pitchers (min. 100 pitches), and his fastball puts away batters 25% of the time, which puts him inside the top thirty. Alt is young, talented, and inexpensive, and as such, might represent the Mariners’ only attractive trade chip, so don’t get too attached. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves. RHP Anthony “Tony” Zych - Bishop I wish there was an X-Man who was acquired for a dollar, but Bishop and his bionic arm will have to do as a comp. After spending the better part of 2016 on the DL, Zych had shoulder surgery on October 11th and will presumably return with a bionic arm next year. Bishop can also absorb energy and release it in multiple ways, which seems appropriate for Tony Zych, whether it’s the triple-digits-adjacent fastball he throws with a ton of glove-side movement (tenth among all relievers!) or his slider, which Nathan dubbed “Satan’s Frisbee.” Zych has put up eye-popping K/9 rates of 11.78 and 13.83 since he became a Seattle Mariner, and a full, healthy season from him definitely has the potential to issue a concussive blast to the AL West. RHP Nick Vincent - Legion Legion has a split personality, and so does Nick Vincent, pitcher. Back in August, Ethan tracked the two faces of Nick Vincent and noted he had lost a few ticks on his slider. Vincent also struggled more with the long ball this year, giving up a career-high 11 home runs. He recorded 17 holds but had 6 blown saves—more than in every other pro year, combined. But Vincent’s peripherals suggest he is still an effective pitcher. In 2016, Vincent had the highest whiff rate on his fastball among all relief pitchers (min. 100 pitches), at 37.17%, and he got a tenth-best 57 called strikes on his slider, suggesting an ability to command that pitch around the edges of the zone. After an off-year last year, his walk rate rebounded to career levels (6.1%), and he recorded a career-best 65 strikeouts. If Vincent, who has struggled to stay healthy for most of his career, can control the parts of his personality that want to serve up dingers, driving his FIP up to 4.16, and increase his ground ball percentage (his 31.9% this year was a career low), he will be an effective member of the bullpen in 2017. RHP Steve Cishek - Elastigirl The X-Men movies are rated PG-13, which is a little too salty for one Steve Cishek. That’s fine, because his character comp is located safely within the confines of Disney/Pixar. Like Elastigirl, Cishek is able to use the suspension-bridge-in-a-typhoon of his right arm to hurl objects with surprising force and trickeration. Also like Elastigirl, sometimes those things have unintended consequences. D[...]
News and stories about the Seattle Mariners and other analysis from around the league.
2016-10-19T12:03:56-07:00Have an elimination game on your lunch break. Rich Hill and Aaron Sanchez each had their best starts of the postseason last night. Both went six innings and were able to give their clubs’ taxed bullpens a bit of rest in the ‘Playoffs of the Reliever’. Today’s games feature a Toronto team still at home, still gasping for air in a Skydome Rogers Centre that is rapidly filling with water. The Dodgers will also host the outwardly calm Cubs and their outwardly panicked supporters later this evening. Cleveland at Toronto (CLE leads 3-1) 1:00 PM PT It feels like I have written as many game threads featuring Marco Estrada as I have about James Paxton. The man has been the best pitcher on the Blue Jays in these playoffs. He has gone over 8 IP in both of his starts. For Toronto, who have had the shakiest bullpen of any of the remaining teams, a similar performance would be an enormous blessing. Ryan Merritt will be the starter for Cleveland, in a fairly surprising choice. This will be the 24 year-old’s 5th career appearance, his 2nd start at the MLB level, and his first action of the postseason. While he had some success in 11 innings in the regular season, putting a 6’ tall rookie left hander who doesn't generate many swings and misses against Bautista, Donaldson, Encarnacion, and Tulowitzki doesn't seem particularly advisable. Even if the plan is to lean heavily on the bullpen, Terry Francona and Cleveland seem, externally, to be playing some long odds today. Today's Lineups CLEVELAND INDIANS TORONTO BLUE JAYS Carlos Santana - 1B Jose Bautista - RF Jason Kipnis - 2B Josh Donaldson - 3B Francisco Lindor - SS Edwin Encarnacion - 1B Mike Napoli - DH Troy Tulowitzki - SS Jose Ramirez - 3B Russell Martin - C Lonnie Chisenhall - RF Melvin Upton Jr. - DH Coco Crisp - LF Ezequiel Carrera - LF Tyler Naquin - CF Kevin Pillar - CF Roberto Perez - C Darwin Barney - 2B Ryan Merritt - LHP Marco Estrada - RHP FiveThirtyEight: 60% Toronto win. Cubs at Dodgers (LAD leads 2-1) 5:00 PM PT One of the largest age discrepancies in modern playoff histories will be on display this evening, with 20 year-old Julio Urías on the mound against 49 37 year-old grinch, John Lackey. Urías has already surpassed the somewhat vague parameters of the innings limit that had been outlined by his agent, Scott Boras, as his 119 innings during the regular season have been added to. The Dodgers have had buona fortuna starting left-handed pitchers so far against the Cubs (it helps when those lefties happen to be Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw, of course) and they will hope Urías can lead them to their third straight victory. As a lover of good pickoff moves but also fairness and sporting etiquette, I encourage you at home to get out a protractor and measure whether Urías steps at a 45 degree angle or less when making a throw to first. If there is anyone who is likely do such a thing within the stadium, it will be Lackey himself. Between stints as an unwritten rules vigilante and his modeling career as the base template for the AMPM monstrosity, Lackey has found time to be an excellent pitcher this year. He made it just four innings against the Giants in his most recent start, but has the ability to go six, or perhaps even let Joe Maddon utilize another of his aces in relief. With the entirety of the Cubs offense not named Bryant or Baez swinging with the enthusiasm of The Hound from Game of Thrones if he was hired to rescue Joffrey from a burning building, Lackey and whoever comes behind him may need to be lockdown. MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo has put up a -16 wRC+ in the postseason, and Rizzo and Addison Russell have combined to go an inconceivable 3 for 50 in the playoffs. Something has to change, or the Curse is going to add another tally to its record. Today's Lineups CHICAGO CUBS LOS ANGELES DODGERS Dexter[...]