Archive for the ‘Baltimore Orioles’ category

Bennett Parry and Tyler J. Alexander

July 11, 2018

One problem with being a life-long baseball observer outside of the professional game is that, at the end of the day, I can only guestimate how major league organizations make decisions.  Even though a lot of input is sought by the media from major league organizations, major league organizations will provide some information, but they won’t provide everything.  Pro baseball knowledge is proprietary, and why would you put out information to the public from which another pro baseball organization might learn something with which to compete against you?

Sabrmetrics can tell us something by which we can get some idea of what MLB organizations analytics departments are looking at.  (If I had to guess, I’d say that computer simulations using powerful computers and algorithms produced by professional mathematicians are things MLB orgs are using that hasn’t yet reached the likes of fangraphs.com.)

Sometimes, I just don’t know whether the MLB orgs are missing something that seems obvious to me or they have information I don’t have, or some combination of both.  I often feel like I’m working with 1950’s inside baseball, and that the modern baseball world might well be passing me by.

Why haven’t MLB orgs re-signed either Bennett Parry or Tyler J. Alexander, as I write this.  Both started their professional careers in MLB organizations, but were late round draft picks who apparently got burned by MLB’s minor league numbers game (35+ new prospects are added by each organization every year, which is about or more than 1.5 low minor league club rosters).

Bennett Parry was a 40th round (whew!) draft pick who never pitched higher than the full season A level but still produced a 2.71 ERA with 211 Ks in 216 IP across four MLiB seasons, before apparently blowing out his elbow tendon.

He has worked his way back through the Indy-A leagues to the point where he is a starting pitcher in the Atlantic League with a 2.60 ERA with 104 Ks in 72.2 IP.  He’s a big 26 year old left-hander at 6’6″ and 240 lbs.

Tyler Alexander is another, smaller 26 year old left-hander (6’1″ and 200 lbs) without the arm injury.  He was plagued by high ERAs but with high strikeout rates in two MLiB seasons after being drafted by the Brewers in the 27th round.  He put together three fine seasons for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the Indy-A American Association and two fine winters in the Mexican Pacific League, before signing with a Can-Am League team this year, presumably to get more exposure). He has joined the Mexican Summer League for the second half season.

Left-handers with strikeout stuff are always in demand if only for the simple fact that while only one person in ten is a natural left-hander, about one-third of major league pitchers are left-handed.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why neither Parry nor Alexander has been signed by an MLB organization as of this writing.  I haven’t found anything on line suggesting a scandal involving either player, and neither is too small to suggest MLB would ignore them for this reason.

What am I missing?  The question torments me in my spare time.

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Delmon Young Sighting

July 8, 2018

Doesn’t it seem like a long time since Delmon Young last played in the majors?  It was only 2015 with the Orioles, but it feels like longer.

Young is still around, attempting a come-back in the Mexican League at the age of 32.  I was certainly surprised when I saw his name today in milb.com’s list of Mexican League hitters, because one has to think long and hard to remember that Young was young when he entered the major leagues and still young when he left them.

Young had enormous talent, enough to be the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003 out of high school.  He was a great pure hitter (.283 career batting average across ten major league seasons), and he had some pop, but he almost never drew a walk and didn’t hit with enough power consistently enough to make it as a corner outfielder.

He had a great year for the Twins in 2010, when he drove in 112 runs and had 12 outfield assists playing exclusively left field, but that was pretty much it.  Another thing that appears to have contributed to his rapid demise is that he had lost his speed by the time he was in his late 20’s.

After leaving the majors, Young played in the Dominican Winter League in the winter of 2015-2016, and he played in the Australian Baseball League the next winter, without particularly impressive results given the respective levels of competition in either league.

He has only played in 26 Mexican League games so far this summer, and he looks like the same old Delmon Young.  He can hit for a decent average with a little pop, but he still doesn’t walk much.  We’ll see how long he’s willing to play for $5,000 to $8,000 a month playing in Mexico.

Lew Ford Is Still Slugging It Out in the Atlantic League

June 28, 2018

I was surprised to notice today that Lew Ford is still playing in the Atlantic League this season.  He turns 42 on August 12.  He’s only batting .249 with an OPS below .700, but he’s currently tied for 6th in the 8-team circuit with 33 RBIs.

This is Ford’s ninth season playing for the Long Island Ducks, and since the Atlantic League salary cap is $3,000 per month, Ford, with his major league background, has probably made exactly that for all of the many, many months he has played for the Ducks.

Ford did play his way back to the Orioles for a two-month spell in 2012, where he even earned a little post-season money, and he’s played five seasons in the Caribbean Winter Leagues along with a couple of brief interludes in the Mexican Summer League, so I guess he’s somehow been able to cobble out a meager living while still playing professionally as long as he possibly can.  It’s hard to imagine having a family and supporting them in the Greater New York area on what he has likely made playing baseball since the start of the 2009 season.

Ford can start collecting his MLB pension as young as age 45, so we’ll see if he can keep playing until then.  More likely, when they finally take the bat out of his hands, he’ll become a professional coach at some level somewhere.

 

Takashi Toritani’s Consecutive Games Streak Ends at 1,939

June 2, 2018

Takashi Toritani, one of the best Japanese players of this generation who did not attempt an MLB career, had his consecutive games streak end a couple of days ago at 1,939.  It was the second longest in NPB history after only Sachio Kinugasa‘s 2,215 game streak.

By comparison, Cal Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games and Lou Gehrig in 2,130.  NPB seasons are shorter, at 143 games a season currently and 130 games a season in Kinugasa’s time, so Kinugasa and Toritani had to stay healthy at least as long as Ripken and Gehrig.

Kinugasa’s and Ripken’s career batting numbers are pretty similar, although Kinugasa played 3B, while Ripken was, of course, a shortstop.

Top Prospects in the Atlantic League So Far

May 18, 2018

Courtney Hawkins is almost certainly the best prospect in the Atlantic League so far this season.  He’s currently tied for the league lead with five home runs.

The main thing to like about Hawkins is his age.  He’s only 24 this season, in league in which all the top hitters in terms of OPS are at least 27.

Hawkins had a strong year in A+ ball at the age of 20 in 2014 when he slugged 19 dingers and slashed .249/.331/.450.  However, a 3-for-25 start to his 2018 season in his fourth season at the AA level, and he’s playing in the Atlantic League now.

Hawkins’ OPS is only .788, so he needs more time in Sugar Land, Texas. At age 24, he’s definitely still young enough that MLB teams will want to sign him once some players get hurt at the A+ or AA level.

Kyle Kubitza, Johnny Bladel, David Washington and Mike Fransoso are all young enough at age 27 that they will be signed by MLB organizations if they keep hitting the way they have so far. Kubitza and Washington both have limited major league experience which will certainly increase the likelihood of their being signed by a new MLB organization.

Rey Navarro played in only three Atlantic League games before the Yankees signed him a couple of days ago and sent him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, after a 4-for-27 start for the Mariners’ AAA team in Tacoma.  He’s 28 this year.

Bennett Parry is the youngest pitching prospect I could find.  He’s 26 and leading the Atlantic League with 23 strikeouts (in 17 innings pitched with a 3.17 ERA after three starts).  However, the Dodgers have just signed Logan Bawcom who is three years older and hasn’t pitched as well so far as Parry, but has had past success at the AAA level.

Parry was pitching well as a starter for the Orioles’ full-season A team in 2015 when he apparently hurt his arm.  He made only 17 starts in the American Association in 2016 and 2017 combined, put still pitched well enough to work his way up to the Atlantic League.

Several 27 year olds are among the league’s top starter so far and will likely sign with MLB organizations if they keep pitching well, but I won’t both mentioning their names.  Approximately one-third of each Atlantic League’s roster moves up to better professional baseball opportunities over the course of each full season, enough to keep a lot of players playing at an average salary of only $2,100 per month.

Shohei Otani Beating the Shifts

May 5, 2018

One thing that has really impressed me in the last couple of games is Shohei Otani very clearly attempting to hit ’em where they ain’t by hitting the ball to left field.  Here’s video of the first double a couple of days ago, a ball that was hard hit but was playable with the 3Bman playing where he would a right-handed batter, but instead went unmolested down the line for a stand-up double with Ohtani running at only 70%.  You can see video of Otani hitting another double to left field in last night’s game for the next day or two.

If Otani can force defenses to play him straight away, I don’t see any reason why he can’t be a .300 hitter in the major leagues on a semi-regular basis.  Otani is likely to experience swings based on the fact that he will be a part-time hitter and part-time pitcher for as long as Otani wants to keep doing both.

If the hitting we’ve seen from Otani so far is for real, it’s still within the realm of possibility that he could end up as the Angel’s everyday right fielder.

Otani would not be the first great two-way player.  Jack Bentley for the New York Giants and the early 1920’s Baltimore Orioles, the last minor league team almost certainly better than the worst major league teams.

Bentley played 1B and pitched a full season of games for the Orioles for three seasons, and then pitched and pinch hit (at least 39 times) for the World Series losing 1923 and 1924 Giants.  He was probably one of the best players you’ve never heard of.

Too Soon for Orioles to Trade Manny Machado?

April 27, 2018

Only 25 games into the 2018 season and the O’s are already 13.5 games back.  Is it too soon for the Orioles to trade Manny Machado to the Yankees for Miguel Andujar and two or three more prospects?

The Red Sox look for real, and the Yankees are currently a strong second.  Andujar at age 23 is a legitimate prospect, but he’s no Manny with the glove at third base, and he’s at the beginning of his major league learning curve as a hitter.

It’s no secret that the Yankees are going to be players for Manny’s free agent services next off-season, and it would obviously make sense to bring him in now so Manny can see if he likes playing in New York during a pennant race.  Equally obvious is the fact that the sooner the Yankees were to trade for Machado, the more he’d be able to help them this season.

It probably comes down to how quickly the O’s are willing to throw in the towel on the 2018 season, and how willing the Yankees are to blow up their chances of staying under the salary cap in order to bring in Manny this year.  The latter is probably the more important factor, because if it isn’t already obvious that the O’s are going nowhere this year, it will be soon enough.  Once that decision is made, then it’s all about maximizing the return for trading Manny.

If the Yankees are willing to take on Manny’s contract, then negotiations should start immediately, even if no final agreement is reached until much closer to the trade deadline.  It’s always struck me as kind of counter-intuitive that player trade values rise as the trade deadline approaches.  Five months of Manny Machado’s performance is obviously worth a hell of a lot more than two months.