Archive for the ‘Tampa Bay Rays’ category

Go East, Not So Young Men

October 20, 2017

Every year around this time, I like to do a post regarding MLB-system players who are good bets to be playing in Japan’s NPB or South Korea’s KBO next season.  In the past, these posts typically identify players who had great seasons in AAA, but didn’t get much MLB playing time.

This year, I’ve decided to try to be a little more thorough about the subject, including looking at contract issues more likely to push some players, but not others, to try their luck in Asia.  The biggest factors for a player entering his age 26 or older season in deciding whether to give up the MLB dream and go to Asia are likely whether he has received a major league contract offer from an MLB team and also his personal, subjective belief about his likely future chances of MLB success.

I suspect that a lot players who play in MLB for the first time in September of their age 26 or 27  seasons and play well during that cup of coffee will elect to stay in the MLB system the next season, even if they get a better offer from an NPB or KBO team.  On the other hand, players who received substantial major league playing time in their early or mid-20’s, who then spend the next couple of years mostly at AAA, have a much better idea how tenuous MLB success can be and are a lot more tempted by better offer from abroad.

Here’s my list of some hitters who are good bets to be playing in Asia next year.

Oswaldo Arcia (27 in 2018).  Arcia played in 200 games for the Twins in 2013 and 2014 at the ages of 22 and 23.  Since then, his major league career has gone straight downhill, in large part because he isn’t patient enough, i.e., he doesn’t walk enough and strikes out too much.

At age 26, Arcia led the Pacific Coast League with a 1.049 OPS.  However, he didn’t play in even one major league game because he got hurt on August 30th, right before the September roster expansions.  I wasn’t able to determine the nature of his injury, and injuries have plagued him the last few seasons.  If he’s fully healthy by December 1st, though, he’d be a great bet for an Asian team.

Bryce Brentz (29).  Brentz hit a league-leading 31 home runs (Asian teams want their foreign hitters to hit the long ball) and his .863 OPS was second best in the International League.  Even so, the Red Sox never called him up, even after the rosters expanded in September.  A player can’t get a much stronger message his team doesn’t see him as part of their future than that.

Jabari Blash (28).  Blash has a lot of talent, but through his age 27 season, he hasn’t been able to put it together at the major league level.  If the Padres don’t offer him a major league contract, he should seriously consider any Asian offers he receives.

Leonys Martin (30).  NPB teams love Cubans as much as cigar aficionados do.  Small wonder — Alex Guerrero and Alfredo Despaigne respectively led the Central and Pacific League in home runs this past season.

Martin isn’t likely to hit 35 home runs in a season even in Japan, but he could 25-30 in a season there, and he still runs well. He has more than three full seasons of MLB service time, entitling him to salary arbitration, and will almost certainly be non-tendered by his current MLB club.  I’m guessing his best free agent offer will come from Japan.

Will Middlebrooks (29).  Middlebrooks’ MLB career has gone down the toilet, but he’s the kind of power-hitting 3Bman NPB teams like.

Mark Canha (29).  I could definitely see him getting a $1M offer from the Doosan Bears this off-season, if the Bears decide to replace Nick Evans as their foreign position player.

Cody Asche (28).  Another 3B candidate with power potential in Japan’s smaller ballparks, Asche was the Phillies’ main 3Bman in 2014 and 2015.  Now he’s just another guy coming off a strong minor league season looking for a decent contract going into his age 28 season.  Still, Asian teams love past MLB experience.

Xavier Avery (28).  A center fielder whose .816 OPS was 5th best in the International League, Avery’s only major league experience (32 games with the Braves) came way back in 2012.  You would have to think he’d be receptive to a foreign offer.

Nick Buss and Brandon Snyder (both 31).  A couple of left fielders coming off strong AAA seasons.  Buss led the Pacific Coast League with a .348 batting average, and his .936 OPS was 7th best.  Snyder’s .846 OPS was 3rd best in the International League.  You can guess which of the two AAA leagues is a pitchers’ league and which is a hitters’ league.

Chris Johnson and Eric Young, Jr. (both 33).  Two aging veterans with substantial MLB experience, both played well enough in AAA to suggest they still have something left going into 2018.  Both would provide an Asian team with a certain amount of defensive flexibility.  Johnson is probably more likely to get an offer because he has more power.

In my opinion, age 27 is the ideal age for a foreign MLBer to try his luck at a successful Asian career.  Here is a list of players who will be 27 next season, had great AAA seasons, have at least a little MLB experience, but don’t look likely to receive major league contract offers for 2018: Richie Schaffer, David Washington, Christian Walker, Mike Tauchman, Tyler Naquin, Ji-man Choi, Garrett Cooper, Tyler White, Christian Villanueva, Luke Voit, Max Muncy and Cesar Puello.

Almost all of these guys will elect to stay in the MLB system, but don’t be surprised if you hear that one or two of them have signed with Asian teams later this off-season.  Tyler Collins (28) and Travis Taijeron (29) are a couple of slightly older players who are reasonable possibilities of getting Asian offers.

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The Oakland A’s Bargain Basement Sluggers, Part I

February 25, 2017

Earlier this off-season, ESPN’s David Schoenfeld wrote an article to the effect that older sluggers like Brandon Moss were having trouble finding contracts because teams were looking for the next Brandon Moss, i.e. minor league players past the age of 27 who could give a team a few productive seasons at a very low price.  At the time, I opined that the failure of these players to sign so far this off-season had more to the do with these players coming to terms with what teams were willing to pay them, rather than teams trying to find the next player of this type, because. as a practical matter, the next Brandon Moss isn’t so easy to find.

Ultimately, the St. Louis Cardinals gave Moss $12 million for two years, roughly ten times what the next Brandon Moss found now would cost his team in 2017 and 2018.

Schoenfeld’s article also drew attention from fangraphs, which wrote a piece on who would most likely be the next Brandon Moss in 2017.  Not surprisingly, about half of the players fangraphs identified will be playing in Japan or South Korea next year, because they are the kind of no-longer-prospects that NPB and KBO teams look for each off-season.

I still like 27 year old Jabari Blash, whose .914 OPS in 646 AAA at-bats suggests he’s a major league player, even if he hits .220 at the MLB level.  However, the Padres successfully passed him through waivers in January, so my opinion is apparently not shared by any of the other 29 major league teams.

Anyway, it’s all got me thinking about these kinds of players and the team, the Oakland A’s, that has made them famous.  What follows is a list of the players at least 28 years old the year they broke out in MLB, whom the A’s obtained for essentially peanuts in the last 25 years.

1.   Geronimo Berroa (28 years old in 1994; signed as free agent).  Berroa is the first of these players I remember the A’s finding.  He had three and a half terrific seasons for the A’s in which he hit 87 HRs with an on-base percentage well over .350, before the A’s traded him to the Baltimore Orioles.

2.  Matt Stairs (28 in 1996; free agent).  Stairs had one of the great major league careers for a player who didn’t have even 200 plate appearances in a season until his age 29 season.  In four and half seasons with the A’s, Stairs hit 122 HRs and posted the high on-base percentages the A’s were hoping for.

3.  Olmedo Saenz (28 in 1999; free agent).  Saenz was never an every day player in his four seasons with the A’s, but he was a valuable bench player who posted an OPS over .800 in three of his four seasons with the team and who could play 3B when needed.

4.  Marco Scutaro (28 in 2004; claimed off waivers from Mets).  Scutaro wasn’t a power hitter by any stretch of the imagination, but he was an older, undervalued minor league player whom the A’s acquired for peanuts.  He gave the A’s four strong seasons in what turned out to be a long and successful major league career.

5.  Jack Cust (28 in 2007; cash purchase from Padres).  Cust was perhaps my favorite player of the bunch, mostly because he was such an extreme example (at the time) of what the A’s recognized as an undervalued player.  Cust didn’t hit for average, and he struck out a hell of a lot; but in his four seasons with Oakland, he slugged 97 HRs and walked 377 times.  Only a decade later, this type of player is common in MLB, to the extent that teams can find them. There were so many one dimensional sluggers who had a hard time finding contracts mainly because none of them drew walks like Cust, Stairs or Berroa.

[I don’t know what the A’s paid the Padres to get Jack Cust, except that it was peanuts by MLB standards.]

6.  Brandon Moss (28 in 2012; free agent).  Moss is actually the least representative player on this list, as he played regularly, if unproductively, at the major league level in 2008 and 2009.  When he finally put it together for the A’s, he hit 76 HRs in three seasons, before the A’s traded Moss to the Indians.

7.  Stephen Vogt (28 in 2013; cash purchase from the Rays).  It’s somewhat difficult to know whether catchers count, since this is the non-pitching position at which players tend to develop at the latest age.  Even so, he was past the age 27 when the A’s acquired him, he’s hit 45 HRs in his four seasons with the A’s, and he likely cost the A’s peanuts to acquire.

Honorable Mention.  Frank Menechino (29 in 2000; selected from White Sox in minor league portion of Rule 5 Draft 12/97).  Menechino had only one season as an every day player for the A’s (2001), and he hit only .242.  However, he was a 2Bman with a little pop and a .369 OBP that year.  The A’s won 102 games in 2001, so one has to assume that Menechino had to have done something right.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Sergio Romo

February 7, 2017

I’m a bit sad the Bums signed Sergio Romo.  It’s hard to see a player you like sign with a team you don’t.

That said, it’s obviously a good move for the Dodgers.  They got Romo at a relative bargain ($3M for one season), because if he’s healthy in 2017, and the Dodgers use him as a right-handed short man and keep his innings pitched below 60, I have little doubt but that they’ll get more than their money’s worth from Romo.

At this price, it’s a little surprising the SF Giants made no effort to re-sign him.  Maybe they know more about Romo’s health than anyone else does.

Romo reportedly signed with the Dodgers for less money than the Tampa Rays offered.  However, he’s already made his money playing for the Giants, he’s much more likely to be in a pennant race playing in L.A., and he wanted to stay in California where he’s from.  As a Mexican American player from Southern California, one would expect him to be a very popular Dodger, at least so long as he pitches reasonably well.

I won’t be rooting against Sergio as a Dodger, except when he’s pitching against the Giants.

The Glut of Power-Hitting 1B/DH Free Agents

February 4, 2017

One of the things that has most captured my interest this off-season is the glut of power-hitting 1B/DH free agents, and the long slow dance that has been going on as teams have fully realized they can sign these guys for relative bargains if they just wait long enough.

Early in the off-season, it seemed likely that at least the best of these guys would do well in what was a generally weak free agent class, but it sure hasn’t turned out that way.  Edwin Encarnacion, who was probably the best of the bunch, made a whole lot less than the Blue Jays offered him before the season ended.  Mark Trumbo, MLB’s 2016 home run leader, also notably signed for a whole lot less than anyone expected when the 2016 ended.

The players who signed early did well.  In fact, the contracts that the Blue Jays gave Kendrys Morales and the Rockies gave Ian Desmond now look like wild over-pays with the market playing out the way it has.  Desmond’s deal didn’t make any sense when it was announced, but it looks even worse now, in spite of the fact that Desmond can play a lot of positions other than 1B.

Another of the remaining musical chairs was taken away today when the Tampa Rays signed Logan Morrison for one year at $2.5 million and another million in performance bonuses.  That leaves the Texas Rangers as the only team left virtually certain to sign one these guys.  They seem set on signing Mike Napoli, once Napoli agrees to the one year deal the Rangers want to give him.

That leaves Chris Carter, the NL’s 2016 home run leader, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Lind, Billy Butler, Justin Morneau and Ryan Howard with few obvious landing spots.  I’ve heard of the Mariners, the Marlins and the White Sox as possibilities, but that would still leave at least three of these guys looking at minor league offers at best.

Chris Carter has floated the idea of playing in Asia in 2017, a first for a reigning MLB home run leader.  Another sign of how bad the market for these guys is is that the Minnesota Twins just designated Byung-ho Park for assignment because they don’t think anyone will claim him because he still has three years and a total of $9.25 million left on the deal signed last year that has already cost the Twins more than $15 million when the posting fee is included.  I don’t think the Twins are writing Park off so much as convinced that no one will claim him even at this modest remaining commitment.

A KBO team, most likely the Samsung Lions, reportedly offered Mark Reynolds a $3 million one year deal, but Reynolds decided to re-sign with the Rockies on a minor league deal.  If that KBO team is willing to pony up similar money for another of these guys, I would have to think at least one of them will be playing in South Korea next year, because he sure won’t be getting a better offer in the U.S.

As a final, only tangentially related note, the Rays also signed Rickie Weeks to a minor league deal.  I’m disappointed, because it means the San Francisco Giants could have signed Weeks to a minor league deal also.  Weeks’ left field defense was terrible last year, and he hasn’t played 2B since 2014, but he hit pretty well last year, and I expect his left field defense would get better with more experience.  An experienced right-handed power hitting outfielder was something the Giants sure could have used, particularly on a minor league commitment.

San Francisco Giants Trade Matt Duffy to Tampa Rays

August 2, 2016

In another sign the Giants are all in for 2016, they today traded Matt Duffy and two prospects to the Rays for Matt Moore.  The Giants could certainly use another starter for the stretch run, but I’m sorry to see Matt Duffy go.

There is still some question whether Matt Duffy will hit enough to be a star at third base.  However, players often slump in their sophomore seasons, and Duffy’s .671 OPS isn’t terrible for a 25 year old sophomore season.  Players that age typically continue to get better in their third and fourth seasons.

A lot of Duffy’s value is in his glove, and it’s a little strange the Rays would want him, given that they already have an above-average defender at the position in Evan Longoria.  If the Rays don’t turn around and flip Duffy in another trade, they will assumably move Longoria to 1B, so they can get more offense out of that position than they have in recent years.

Of the two prospects the Rays also got, Lucius Fox is almost certainly the better one.  He’s a former international bonus baby, and while he’s currently totally over-matched at the plate at full season A-ball in Augusta this year (.582 OPS), he’s only 19 years old and has tools.

Michael Santos, the other prospect, is a tall, thin right-hander, who can pitch, but so far doesn’t seem to have the stuff (140 strike outs in 177.2 innings pitched, none of them in a league higher than full season A-ball) to develop into a major leaguer.

As far as I am aware, the other Giants players liked Duffy in the clubhouse, and it seems like the Giants made the move because he got hurt, the team traded for Eduardo Nunez, and suddenly Duffy was expendable if it meant getting another piece the Giants felt they needed to make the post-season.  Once again, though, I feel a bit underwhelmed at what the Giants got in exchange for a young player who looked like he was going to be an important part of the Giants’ future.

The Best and Worst Hitters’ Parks in MLB Baseball 2016

April 8, 2016

Back in the summer of 2012 I discovered that espn.com provides stats for what it calls “park factor”, which for purposes of this post means the ratio between the number of runs scored at a ballpark in any given season divided by the number of runs scored by said ballpark’s occupant (and its opponents) in away games that same season.  I’ve written several posts on this subject, which have proven quite popular, the last about two years ago, so it feels like a good time for an update.

As we enter the 2016 season, below are the average park factors for all major league ballparks over the last six seasons, 2010 through 2015 (four seasons for Marlins Park which opened in 2012).

1.  Coors Field (Rockies) 1.427.  Coors Field remains far and away the best hitters’ in MLB by a wide margin.  Every other stadium had a season or two between 2010 and 2015 well out of line with its overall average position except Coors Field.  It was the best hitters’ park in MLB five of the six seasons, usually by a lot, and a strong second in the sixth season.

2.  Globe Life Park at Arlington (Rangers) 1.144.  Globe Life Park remains the best hitters’ park in the American League.

3.  Fenway Park (Red Sox) 1.107.

4.  Chase Field (Diamondbacks) 1.093.

5.  Camden Yards (Orioles) 1.083.

6.  Miller Park (Brewers) 1.072.

7.  Yankee Stadium 1.059.

8.    U.S. Cellular Field (White Sox) 1.058.  One of the more variable parks in MLB, U.S. Cellular Field was a pitchers’ park in 2015, but a strong hitters’ park in 2010 and 2012.

9. Rogers Centre (Blue Jays) 1.047.  A pitchers’ park in 2015, Rogers Center was a hitters’ park every other year of the last six.

10.  Great American Ball Park (Reds) 1.045.

11.  Wrigley Field (Cubs) 1.034.  Long regarded as one of the best hitters’ parks in MLB, Wrigley was a pitchers’ park in 2014 and 2015, bringing it’s six year average down considerably.

12.  Comerica Park (Tigers) 1.026.

13.  Kauffman Stadium (Royals) 1.027.  25 or 30 years ago, Kauffman Stadium was one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball.  However, the newer parks built starting with Camden Yards in 1992, have for the most part been much better hitters’ parks than the ballparks they replaced.  The casual fans want to see offense, and the modern parks have largely catered to that desire with resulting attendance increases.

14.  Target Field (Twins) 1.013.  The Twins’ new ball park looked like it was going to be a pitchers’ park after the first couple of seasons of play there.  However, it now looks to be a slight hitters’ park.

15.  Citizens Bank Ballpark (Phillies) 1.005.

16.  Nationals Park 1.004.

17.  Marlins Park (2012-2015) 1.000.  The Marlins’ new park appears to be as close to a perfectly level playing field for pitchers and hitters as currently exists in MLB, at least based on the first four seasons of play there.

18.  Progressive Field (Indians) 0.992.  Progressive Field was the second best hitters’ park in MLB last year, after five consecutive seasons as a moderate pitchers’ park.  2015 was almost certainly a fluke.

19.  Minute Maid Park (Astros) 0.987.  Once known as Ten-run Park, when it was named after failed energy company Enron, Minute Maid Park varies wildly between a hitters’ park and pitchers’ park from season to season.

20.  Turner Field (Braves) 0.972.

21.  Busch Stadium (Cardinals) 0.957.

22.  Oakland Coliseum (A’s) 0.941.  O.co isn’t as much of a pitchers’ park as it once was, more or less switching places with Angel Stadium, another now antiquated multi-use stadium from the 1960’s.

23.  PNC Park (Pirates) 0.927.

24.  Dodger Stadium 0.906.

25.  Tropicana Field (Rays) 0.894.

26.  Angel Stadium 0.877.  The fact that Angel Stadium is now one of the worst hitters’ parks in MLB gives one additional appreciation of just how good Mike Trout is as an offensive player.

27.  Citi Field (Mets) 0.876.

28.  Petco Park (Padres) 0.857.

29.  Safeco Field (Mariners) 0.842.  The Mariners and the Padres moved their outfield fences in before the 2013 season in order to goose offensive production.  It hasn’t helped a whole lot, as both parks remained among the worst hitters’ parks in MLB from 2013-2015.

29.    AT&T Park (Giants) 0.842.  AT&T varies a lot season to season, but in 2011, 2012 and 2015 it was a strong pitchers’ park.

Independent-A League Stars to Watch in 2016

February 27, 2016

Every year I like to do a piece about Independent-A League players who played so well the past year they may have the opportunity to move on to bigger and better things, particularly if they are still reasonably young.  I have a crop of these guys this year too, but I will note from the outset that almost no one really jumped out at me this year, as at least a couple usually have in past years.

Atlantic League

The Atlantic League is the undisputed top Independent-A League in North America.  It plays a  140-game schedule, roughly equal to AA and AAA, and attracts the top talent that can’t find jobs in the MLB system.

However, this year no one on either side of the ball really impressed me in terms of age and level of performance.  The most promising player I found is probably Buddy Boshers, who will be 28 this year, already over the hill in terms of professional baseball players as a group.

Boshers was good enough to pitch in 25 games for the Angels in 2013, but a bad performance in AAA in 2014 got him cut out of the MLB system.  In 2015, he had a 1.00 ERA with a pitching line of 54 IP, 39 hits and 14 BBs allowed and 71Ks.  He’s still young enough that an MLB team could sign him and send him to AA or AAA to see if the Angels gave up on him too soon.

Ron Schreurs (23 in 2016).  A player orginally from Curacao, he had a 2.55 ERA in relief with 25 Ks in 24.2 IP.  The low innings pitched total suggests he had arm problems going into or coming out of the 2015 season.

Telvin Nash (25).  Nash, a 1B/LF, has major league power but strikes out way too much.  He hit .270 with a .908 OPS in half an Atlantic League season.

American Association

The American Association is generally regarded as the next best Indy-A League, and players who play well in this league who don’t sign with an MLB organization typically move up the Atlantic League the next season.

Tyler Alexander (24) ranks as my top prospect in this league, because he’s young and pitched quite well, with a 3.31 ERA and 111 strikeouts (4th) in 111.1 innings pitched.  He’s a left-hander who’s a little wild, but he deserves another shot from an MLB organization.

John Straka (26) had a 3.27 ERA with 110 Ks (5th) in 127.1 IP.  My guess is he moves up to the Atlantic League in 2016.

Patrick Johnson (27) is getting up there in age for this level, but he went 15-1 with a 2.08 ERA (3rd) with 132 Ks (2nd) in 134 IP.  Even more impressively, he’s been one of the top pitchers in the Venezuelan Winter League this off-season, with a league leading 1.57 ERA in ten starts with 46 Ks (4th) in 51.2 IP.

Johnson may have suffered an injury late in the VWL season, as he didn’t make an appearance after December 2nd.  He’s a small right-hander listed at 5’10” and 170 lbs, which certainly hurts his chances of signing with an MLB organization.  If he can continue to pitch the way he did in 2015 going forward, he could potentially pitch in Asia one day.

John Brebbia (26) and Rob Wort (27).  Two not particularly young relievers who had terrific seasons.  Brebbia posted an 0.98 ERA with a pitching line of 64.1 IP, 34 hits and 15 walks allowed and 79 Ks; while Wort had a 1.79 ERA and a pitching line of 65.1 IP, 35 hits and 26 walks allowed and 92 Ks.

Christian Ibarra (23).  Hit .278 with an .853 OPS in 58 games.

Carlos Fuentes (23).  3.38 ERA with 43 Ks in 45.1 IP.

Can-Am League

In years past, the Can-Am League has generally been regarded as about equal to the American Association.  However, attendance in the Can-Am League isn’t nearly as good, which one would think will eventually effect that league’s ability to compete for talent.

However, the Can-Am League seemed to have plenty of talent in 2015, although it may have something to do with the fact that with only six teams, the better players may stand out more.

Joe Maloney (25).  A 1Bman who can play the corner outfield positions and even catcher in an emergency, Maloney hit .337 (2nd) with 14 HRs (4th) and led the league  by a wide margin with a .991 OPS.  Were Maloney to move up to the Atlantic League this year and continue to hit, he could definitely have a future in Asia.

John Walter (25).  Walter had a 3.08 ERA (4th) with a league-leading 127 Ks in 120.1 IP.  Listed at 6’5″ and 225 lbs, he’s got a major league pitcher’s body.

Gabriel Perez (25).  Perez had a 2.90 ERA (2nd) with 109 Ks (2nd) in 108.2 IP.

Brian Ernst (25).  Ernst had a 2.96 ERA (3rd) with 100 Ks (Tied 5th) in 109.1 IP.

Ryan Bollinger (25).  Bollinger had a 3.68 ERA and 108 Ks (Tied 3rd) in 127.1 IP.

Leandro Castro (27).  Castro batted .322 (6th) with 13 HRs (Tied 5th).  He’s old to be a prospect at this level, but he played in 234 games in the AAA International League in 2013-2014, he can play center field, and he runs well (21 stolen bases in 23 attempts against the Can-Am League’s admittedly not very good catchers in 2015).  His main problems are that he walks very little and would be a below-average defensive center fielder at the major league level.  He’s another guy who might be good enough to make some real money in Asia one day.

Ty Young (23).  A player who was apparently dropped from the Rays organization by his defensive failings, Young hit .265 with a .783 OPS in 2015.

Frontier League

What struck me about the Frontier League stars this year is how not young they were.  The Frontier League is the lowest of the established Independent-A Leagues, and its rosters tend to be stocked with a lot of 22 and 23 year old undrafted former college players, so I was definitely surprised I didn’t find more promising players there this year.

Jose Barraza (21).  As a 20 year old catcher/1Bman, Barraza hit .294 with a .783 OPS.  The White Sox drafted Barraza in the 7th round out of high school, and he hit .287 with an .818 OPS in the Arizona Rookie League at age 19.  Hard to understand why the White Sox released him (and no one else picked him up), unless he has some personality problems.

Cody Livesay (22).  A young center fielder whose release by the Braves organization seems strange (he had a .362 on-base percentage in 117 games in the low minors through age 20), Livesay batted .308 with a .388 OBP in 2015.

Boo Vazquez (23) and Kyle Ruchim (23).  A couple of the undrafted college players I was talking about, Vazquez hit .287 with an .865 OPS but played in only 41 games, while Ruchim hit .304 with an .825 OPS.

Andrew Brockett (23), Lucas Laster (23) and Trevor Richards (23).  Brockett was released by the Royals organization after two seasons in which he combined for a 2.19 ERA with 46 Ks in 49.1 IP.  As the Frontier League’s top closer in 2015, he had a 1.54 ERA with 28 Ks in 35 IP.  Laster had a 3.81 ERA with 74 Ks in 78 IP, while Richards had a 3.36 ERA with 84 Ks in 91 IP.

Connor Little (25).  Little had a terrific season in relief, posting a 1.19 ERA with a pitching line of 68 IP, 41 hits and 14 walks allowed and 90 Ks.  He did it against inferior competition, but even so his numbers really do jump out at you.