Archive for August 2018

Ayami Sato — World’s Best Female Pitcher?

August 31, 2018

I saw this article linked on japanball.com today describing Ayami Sato, a Japanese female pitcher who has been dominating in international play since 2010.  She stands only 5’5″ and has a fastball that at its best touches about 80 mph, but she has a great curveball.

Sato has played in Japan’s Women’s League, about which I know next to nothing, since 2009.  As far as I am aware, she has not pitched in a men’s pro league, such as Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge (BC) League, where Eri Yoshida played without much on-field success for several seasons in recent years.

Stacy Piagno in 2017 became the first woman to win a professional game in North American men’s professional baseball since Yoshida.  She pitched in 16 games over two seasons for the Sonoma Stompers of the Indy-A Pacific Association, but her career 7.67 ERA suggests Piagno was mainly an Indy-A novelty act.

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New York Yankees Acquire Andrew McCutchen

August 31, 2018

The San Francisco Giants were able to pull the trigger on an Andrew McCutchen trade, sending him to the Yankees for minor middle infielder Abiatal Avelino and right-handed pitcher Juan De Paula.

Avelino is 23 this season. He hit well at AA, but has struggled with the bat since his promotion to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Avelino looks more like a future Kelby Tomlinson than Brandon Crawford, but we’ll have to wait and see if that turns out to be the case.

De Paula turns 21 in late September and he’s currently pitching well as a starter in the short-season New York-Pennsylvania League (A-).  He has struck out 220 batters in 228 innings pitched in the low minors and has a career professional ERA of 2.49.  Hopefully, the Giants can give him a start or two at Class A Augusta before the minor league season ends.  De Paula is a long way from the majors, but at least he appears to have some talent.

I can’t say I’m that excited about what the Giants got, but what can you expect for one month of Andrew McCutchen’s 2018 performance?  The main thing is that the Giants did trade McCutchen and got something more in return than cash considerations or $250,000 in international bonus money.

Meanwhile, the Giants have called up former 1st round draft pick Chris Shaw to take McCutchen’s roster spot.  Shaw was just O.K. at AAA Sacramento this year, slashing .259/.308/.505 in 422 plate appearances.  In other words, he’s got power (he’s currently tied for 5th with 24 HRs in the Pacific Coast League), but he doesn’t draw many walks.

I kind of expect major league pitchers will carve up Shaw in September, but at least at age 24 (Shaw turns 25 in late October), he’s getting some major league experience.  I’m not convinced that Shaw will amount to much of a major league player, but we can’t know for certain unless he gets his shot.

San Francisco Giants Take Another Hit

August 30, 2018

24 year old CF Steve Duggar has a torn labrum and will almost certainly miss the rest of the 2018 season.  It’s yet another hit for the Giants, who have had great difficulty developing in-house outfielders the last few years, because their prospects keep getting hurt.

I’m more hurt by the Giants losing Duggar than I am about the fact that Buster Posey will miss the rest of the season after hip surgery.  MLB catchers with Posey’s mileage wear out, and having his hip worked on might well make Posey a more productive hitter in 2019 than he was in 2018.

Duggar, on the other hand, is a young player of a certain age who needs to be playing every day to become a major league regular.  At age 24 this season, he’s basically on the cusp of the age at which prospects can still have a reasonable chance of turning into successful major league every day player.

Last year, Austin Slater was having a fine rookie year at age 24, until he hurt his hip in early July and only played in five September games the rest of the 2017 season.  That injury has definitely interfered with his development, as he had to return to AAA this year and earn his way back to the majors.

Mac Williamson had a major injury in 2014 that interfered with his development, and he had a minor injury this year after he was called up following a hot start at AAA.  Williamson is now 28 years old, and it looks like he won’t ever amount to much as a major league player.

Jarrett Parker looked like he was finally going to get his shot in 2017, but he broke his collar bone in mid-April and didn’t return until early August.  The Giants released him at the end of Spring Training this year, and it appears that Parker has at least temporarily retired, as I can find no record of him playing anywhere this year.

It seems like forever since the Giants developed an outfielder.  Nate Schierholtz in 2011 is the last home-grown outfielder to manage even 300 plate appearances in a season, and the Giants haven’t drafted and developed an outfielder who was even arguably worth half a damn since Marvin Benard.  Pretty pathetic!

Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Japanese Amateur Pitcher Shumpei Yoshikawa

August 28, 2018

The Diamondbacks signed 23 year Japanese pitcher Shumpei Yoshikawa to a contract out of Japan’s industrial leagues a couple of days ago.  I wouldn’t bother with a post of this signing, except for the fact that it isn’t often I get to scoop mlbtraderumors.com on a signing.

Yoshikawa was expected to be a high draft pick in Japan’s NPB next year, and he’ the first premier amateur Japanese pitcher to sign with an MLB club rather than an NPB team since Junichi Tazawa back in 2008.

By signing with an MLB team first, Yoshikawa will never be allowed to play on the Japanese National team, and as a practical matter may never be allowed to play in the NPB under NPB rules designed to punish Japanese amateurs who sign with MLB organizations.  In that case, I hope Yoshikawa got a big signing bonus or guaranteed contract, since there’s no guarantee he will be as successful as Tazawa, who has earned close to $24 million in his professional career to date.

A San Francisco Giants Coincidence

August 26, 2018

Until just this moment, I had not known that the Dominican Winter League Gigantes (de Cibao) play in San Francisco de Macoris, D.R.  (San Pedro de Macoris is where all the major leaguers come from.)

How Much Are the Boston Red Sox Willing to Take Advantage of the 10-Day DL for Chris Sale?

August 25, 2018

I and a lot of other people are wondering whether the BoSox put Chris Sale on the Disabled List for the second time since Sale’s July 27th start not because his arm was hurting, but because they want to rest Sale’s arm for the post-season.

Sale has a history of getting tired in August and particularly September that carried into the 2017 Division Series against the Astros.  It would certainly make sense to skip as many starts, up to every other one, to keep Sale’s arm fresh for October while still keeping him sharp.  There isn’t any doubt that the Red Sox will make the post-season and will need Sale to pitch like he does in June (2.54 career ERA) and July (2.40 career ERA).

So what happens if the Red Sox stick Sale back on the DL every one or two starts the rest of the way?  It might be the best way of keeping Sale fresh, but it will be obvious to everyone else that the Red Sox are taking advantage of the 10-Day DL.

I don’t see teams wanting to go back to a 15-Day DL.  Every team benefits too much from shorter disabled list minimums, particularly where the players themselves are such extreme investments that you don’t want them trying to play through pain unless the pennant or the post-season are on the line.

If other teams feel that using the DL solely to rest a player for the post-season instead of actual injury is wrong, I could see the possibility of teams agreeing to move back to a 12-game minimum for the DL. Still, it seems unlikely that a majority of teams would agree to jettison the benefits they have received from the flexibility of a 10-day DL.

Not to mention that the Players Association would hate any change in the 10-day minimum.  Teams using the DL more is obviously good for the players collectively because it means more players earning major league salaries and service time while a veteran on a guaranteed contract “rehabilitates.”

Inside-the-Park Home Runs

August 24, 2018

I can’t do better than this wikipedia article on the subject, but here are few highlights.

Jesse “The Crab” Burkett is the all-time leader with 55 career inside-the-park home runs.  Willie Wilson‘s 13 career inside-the-park sprints is the most by any player since 1950.

Wahoo Sam Crawford hit an astounding 12 inside-the-parkers in 1901 for the Cincinnati Reds.  Crawford is, of course, the all-time career leader with 309 triples, back in the days when the triple was major league baseball’s big power hit.

When Big Ed Delahanty hit four home runs in a game on July 25, 1896, two of the inside-the-park variety, making him the only player to have an inside-the-parker as part of a four home run game.

When Alcides Escobar hit an inside-the-park home run on October 27, 2015, he became the first player to do so in a World Series game since 1929.  It was fairly common before that, occurring nine times in the first 26 World Series.

Roberto Clemente became the first and only player to hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam, when he did it on July 25, 1956, during his break-out season at age 21.

Ichiro Suzuki is the only player to have hit an inside-the-park home run in the All-Star Game when he did it in 2007.

On August 18, 2009, Kyle Blanks, weighing in at 285 lbs, became the heaviest player ever to hit an inside-the-park job.

On July 18, 2010, Jhonny Peralta hit the slowest recorded inside-the-park home run.  It took him 16.74 seconds to round the bases after outfielder Ryan Rayburn crashed through the bullpen fence trying to catch the ball.