Archive for the ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’ category

Two More 1st Round Draft Picks Fail to Sign

July 7, 2018

Two more First Round Draft picks failed to get signed and will instead by pitching in college next year.  The Atlanta Braves failed to sign 8th overall pick Carter Stewart, and the Arizona Diamondbacks failed to sign 25th overall pick Matt McLain.  Add to those two, the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign 36th overall pick Gunnar Hogland.  For what it’s worth, all three unsigned 1st rounders and Hogland are high school right handed pitchers.

The 8th overall pick came with a $4.9807M slot value, but medical tests after Stewart was selected raised issues for the Brave, and according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the Braves’ final offer came “a lot closer” to the 40% of the slot amount ($1.992M+) the Braves had to offer to get the 9th overall pick in 2019 than the full slot amount.

Assuming that the Braves offered something around $2.5M, Stewart should have signed, but I can at least understand why he elected to attend Mississippi State with J.T. Ginn, the Dodgers’ unsigned first round selection.  It has to be disappointing to be selected this high and not receive an offer close to the slot amount when you have the leverage of being able to elect college.

On the other hand, the D’backs are reported to have offered McLain the full $2.6364M slot amount even though none of Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN, or fangraphs had him ranked in the top 50 of this year’s prospects.  McLain should have took the money.

Hoglund is another prospect who didn’t make any of the major raters’ top 50 (fangraphs had him at 55th), but didn’t sign.  However, mlbtraderumors.com doesn’t report any rumors as to what the Pirates offered him.

The four unsigned prospects is probably a single season Draft record.  Factors that may be contributing to the failed signings is that a four scholarship at a major university is now worth $200,000+.  College players at major programs get to be campus heroes and probably receive all kinds of perqs like personal tutors.  College athletes also make all kinds of connections that can help them in business after their playing careers are over.

Another factor is that MLB teams have shown that top pitching prospects can blow out their elbow tendons and still be first round draft picks.  Brady Aiken and Jeff Hoffman are two recent prospects who were drafted in the 1st round after having Tommy John surgery.  (It’s worth noting, though, that neither Aiken or Hoffman has done much yet to justify their high draft positions.)  That makes it a lot less risky for high school pitchers to elect to go to college rather than accept a $2M+ signing bonus to start their professional careers.

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Los Angeles Dodgers Fail to Sign First Round Draft Pick J.T. Ginn

July 6, 2018

J.T. Ginn is a right-handed high school pitcher who was the 30th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, which came with a $2,275,800 slot amount.  He has elected to matriculate at Mississippi State, where he can re-enter the Draft in 2020 as a 21 year old sophomore.

Without knowing what the Dodgers’ last, best bonus offer was it’s hard to know why Ginn failed to sign.  In his statement, he said that playing college baseball at Mississippi State was his “lifelong dream” but that his “ultimate goal” was to play in the major leagues.  Ginn is from Mississippi, which perhaps explains his desire to pitch for Mississippi State.

That said, if the Dodgers offered Ginn even $2.3 million, which is likely given that as a high schooler Ginn could threaten to go to college, then I think that Ginn is making a mistake.  I tend to think the odds are better that Ginn will be drafted lower in 2020 than higher than his current 30th place selection.  It’s just too easy to get hurt or have a mediocre season and have your draft stock drop.

If your ultimate goal is to be a major league pitcher, take the $2M+ and start your professional career.  You can always go to college later or in the off-season.

It’s possible the Dodgers offered Ginn as much as $2.5M or $2.6M, because the mlbtraderumors.com article I just read says that it’s believed the Dodgers have enough to give their 2nd round pick as much as $300,000 above slot, even with the loss of Ginn’s slot amount.

The loss isn’t that big a deal for the Dodgers who will get the 31st pick in next year’s draft to compensate for Ginn not signing.  Still, it’s a year deferred.  Typically, teams try to work out these issues with potential draft picks before the draft so they don’t get left high and dry on their top selections.  Apparently, the Dodgers thought they had an understanding they didn’t have, or they were hoping against hope that they’d be able to convince Ginn to sign.

Go East, Jabari Blash!

June 29, 2018

It’s definitely time for Jabari Blash to take his talents to East Asia.  He turns 29 in six days, and he’s currently playing in AAA for the Salt Lake City Bees, where his 1.237 OPS leads the Pacific Coast League by 214 basis points.  Salt Lake City has always been a great place to hit, but even so.

There’s still an outside chance that Blash could establish himself as MLB major league platoon player, but at his age it’s looking increasingly unlikely.  He’s now had exactly 300 major league plate appearances in which he’s slashed .194/.317/.320 including a 2-for-18 stint with the Angels this year.

It’s time for Blash to wake up and smell the coffee.  The talent is there, as attested by his career .918 minor league OPS in slightly more than 3,000 plate appearances, but it is time to realize that most major league teams are going to see him as a 4-A player who is just too old to give a real shot unless a couple of major league outfielders get hurt.

If I were an NPB or KBO General Manager, I’d be falling all over myself trying to convince Blash to sign a contract.  Asian teams love power, and Blash has that in spades.  Players of Blash’s proven AAA abilities tend to do very well in Asian baseball unless they just can’t adjust quickly to playing abroad.

Blash was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and attended high school there for at least some time before coming to the U.S. proper (he went to a Junior College in Miami), so he’s already had to adjust to a new culture.

The Doosan Bears needed a new foreign player after Jimmy Paredes washed out, but elected to sign 31 year old Scott Van Slyke for a reported $320,000 for the second half.  Van Slyke was the safe pick based on his more extensive MLB major league experience, but Paredes’ significant major league experience didn’t pan out this year in South Korea.

The Bears are in a pennant race, so I can see why they probably thought Van Slyke would be a safer bet to hit the ground running, but in my mind Blash’s upside would have been worth $500,000 for half a season and the likely much higher transfer fee that the Angels would likely have demanded for Blash.

Van Slyke has a lot of MLB major league experience because he has dramatic platoon splits.  4-A players with dramatic platoon splits can be valuable major league platoon players.  Asian teams, who are looking for 4-A players who can play every day are almost always better off selecting a player with small platoon splits who aren’t worth as much to MLB major league teams.

Blash has big platoon splits in a limited sample size at the major league level, but he obviously has hit right-handed pitchers well enough in the minor leagues.

My Favorite Minor League Stars 2018

June 8, 2018

Every year I like to write a post about minor league players whom few have ever of, but who have either carved out relatively successful professional careers or have simply just kept playing because of their abilities and love for the game.

Mike Loree and Josh Lowey.  Two pitchers who never reached the major leagues, but have carved out professional success because they can pitch.  Loree is currently one of the all-time foreign greats in Taiwan’s CPBL, and Lowey is arguably the top starter in the Mexican League (LMB) at this moment.

Loree is in his 6th season in the CPBL (and 7th in Asia), and he was arguably the league’s best pitcher in each of his first four full seasons in Taiwan.  This year at age 33 his 4.22 ERA is currently only 5th best in a four team circuit, but he leads the league in innings pitched and strikeouts, with 90 in the latter category.  The CPBL is an extreme hitters’ league, and there is still plenty of time to put himself back on top of the league’s pitchers.

Josh Lowey is in his fifth season in LMB and his ranking in the Mexican League is so similar to Mike Loree in the CPBL that it’s scary.  Lowey is also 33.  His 2.58 ERA is 6th best in a 16 team circuit.  He leads the league in innings pitched and strikeouts, with 79 in the latter category.  Both Loree and Lowey had shots a few years back in South Korea’s KBO, but neither made it despite showing something.

I’m hoping that Josh Lowey pitches in the CPBL next year (it’s a step up from LMB), so I can see what the two do pitching in the same league.

Cyle Hankerd and Blake Gailen.  Two more guys who have never reached the MLB majors (or come particularly close) but who can play.  Hankerd, who was once a 3rd Round draft pick out of USC, is in his fifth season in LMB.  His .949 OPS is currently 22nd best in the league.

Gailen is back in the Atlantic League this year, the best of the Indy-A’s.  His .813 OPS is currently 16th best in an eight team circuit.  Gailen sometimes gets signed mid-year to play for an MLB organization’s AA or AAA team when someone gets hurt — he had a .871 OPS in 167 plate appearances for AA Tulsa in the Dodgers’ system last year — but he’s spent most of the last seven seasons in the Atlantic League.

Gailen spent two winters playing in Mexico and part of the 2014 season playing in LMB.  However, he apparently prefers to pay for peanuts in the U.S.  For players like Hankerd and Gailen, LMB and the top four Caribbean winter leagues (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela) are the end of the line, because CPBL teams no longer sign hitters and South Korea’s KBO teams want hitters with at least a little MLB major league experience.  Both Hankerd and Gailen are also 33 this season.

Chris Roberson.  Now in his age 38 season, he’s the American King of Mexican baseball.  He’s played eight seasons in LMB and at least 13 seasons in Mexico’s even better winter league (MXPW or LMP).  His .967 OPS is currently 18th best in the 16 team LMB.

Roberson is almost certainly the best paid foreign player in Mexico, and I’d guess he makes $90,000 to $100,000 a year in both leagues combined in terms of total value of his compensation (officially, LMB’s foreign players cap at $8,000 per month in salary for a 4.5 month season, but rumors have it that the perks are huge; LMP probably pays better on a monthly basis, but it’s only a 2.5 month season).  Roberson played enough in the MLB majors back in 2006-2007 to earn an MLB pension, so it’s all good for player who managed only 72 major league plate appearances.

The beauty of LMB is that with its roughly AA level of play, players (mostly from Latin America) who have aged out of the MLB system can earn a living wage, at Mexico’s cost of living, playing into their late 30’s or even early 40’s if they are good enough and age gracefully.  Roberson is a poster boy, but there are a lot of other players about whom the same can also be said.

Karl Galinas and Isaac Pavlik.  Two Can-Am League pitchers, they are the modern day equivalent of Lefty George.  George was a marginal major leaguer who pitched nearly forever in his adopted home town of York, Pennsylvania, where he also ran a bar.

Galinas and Pavlik never reached the majors (or came close) but they have pitched for years in respectively, Quebec City and northern New Jersey.  Both are local boys, and it looks like Galinas in involved in the management of the Quebec Capitales, which may explain why he’s continued to be the team ace.

Alas, it looks like 2017 was Pavlik’s last season.  It was more than a good run with 13 seasons pitched for the New Jersey Jackels.  At age 38 now, it’s hard to justify spending 4.5 months each year pitching for a lousy $10,000.  You can’t live in New Jersey on that unless you spend your nights in a cardboard box or a beat-up vehicle.

Galinas has pitched 12 seasons for the Capitales, and at age 35 (happy birthday, Karl!), he’s still one of the league’s best pitchers in the early going.  Pavlik and Galinas the top two pitchers (in that order) in the Can-Am League in terms of career wins, losses, innings pitched and strikeouts.

To be honest, I’m not sure how the Can-Am League has lasted so long.  Attendance does not match that of either the Atlantic League or the American Association, particularly when it comes to the top teams.  What Galinas and Pavlik have accomplished is simply amazing.

Orlando Roman‘s baseball odyssey appears to have ended with four starts in Puerto Rico this past winter.  He pitched professionally for 19 seasons without ever reaching the MLB majors.  He used the CPBL as a spring board for four so-so seasons in Japan’s NPB where he pitched just well enough to earn more than $1 million.  With four years in the CPBL sandwiching his four years in Japan, plus all his winter league seasons, I’d guess Roman made close to $2 million in his professional career, which beats just about anything else he might reasonably have been doing.

It also looks like Brian “Beef” Burgamy‘s 16 year pro career concluded at the end of the 2017 season.  He compiled more than 8,000 professional plate appearances without ever playing above the AA/LMB level.

There are so many young or youngish or not-so-young players in the Atlantic League and LMB who can play but will likely never again play at a higher level than the top four winter Caribbean winter leagues or the CPBL that I can’t describe them all here.  Cuban defector Yadir Drake played so well in the first half of the 2017 LMB season that he got a shot in Japan, but he couldn’t cut it with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and he’s back in LMB this year.  It’s a big jump from the Mexican League to the major league money paid by the KBO or NPB, and few players can do it.

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.

Dave Roberts Gets the Kiss of Death

May 18, 2018

The dreaded vote of confidence from management to Dave Roberts.  With an under-performing team, this is more of a warning than a vote of confidence.

At least the Dodgers won 7-0 today behind Kenta Maeda‘s best start of the 2018 season.  He allowed only two hits over eight innings in only 96 pitches.

I’m definitely getting the feeling that Maeda will continue to have wild swings as a starter.  He’ll have great days and days when he gets bombed all in fairly close proximity.  Still, the current trend is good.

After today’s game, the Dodgers have scored three more runs than the team has allowed.  Their record is likely because they aren’t winning as many of the close ones, but with Kenley Jansen pitching like himself in May after a terrible first month, that could turn around in a hurry.

Matt Harvey Will Be Available

May 5, 2018

The New York Mets are reportedly going to designate for assignment Matt Harvey, and Harvey has made it clear he won’t accept a minor league assignment, so he will be available.

The Giants certainly have a need with Johnny Cueto just on the disabled list and Madison Bumgarner still a ways from coming back.

Harvey hasn’t been good since 2015, but he’s still only 29 years.  He’s worth a tryout at the minimum wage once he clears waivers, which he certainly will since his 2018 contract is a too robust $5.625 million for someone of his recent performance.

I don’t see that the Giants have anything to lose giving Harvey a few starts at the minimum wage, if Harvey is willing to pitch in San Francisco.  The Mets only gave Harvey four starts, so it’s entirely possible they gave up on him too soon.

Andrew Suarez‘s May 1st start may have made Harvey a whole lot less desirable to the Giants than they might otherwise be.  I certainly think it would be worth demoting Derek Holland to the bullpen and D.J. Snelton to AAA for three Harvey starts, since Harvey has more upside.

I have to say that the 2018 Giants season is so far better than I thought it would a week into the season.  They are a game over .500 (and leading 8-3 in the 7th today, and they’re ahead of the Dodgers.  That’s two things to be thankful for through 31 games.