Results tagged ‘ Chris Archer ’
Will Leitch, one of America’s best sportswriters, has a feature in the current issue of New York Magazine called “The Glass Arm: Inside the art and science (but mostly still art) of keeping pitchers from getting hurt.” Check it out here.
On a warm, windy day in Tampa, everyone—fans, coaches, other pitchers—stops what they’re doing to watch Brett Marshall throw. It’s just a warm-up, with no actual game action scheduled for a few more days, so he’s not really letting it fly, but he doesn’t have to. Everyone is still staring.
It’s not the velocity, although that’s there. It’s not the distinctive thump of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt the way it does only for those blessed with such lightning arms. It’s how easy it looks. Each motion looks like the last motion, which looks like the last motion, which looks like the last motion. The fastball comes in at a consistent 94 mph, but it’s the changeup, widely considered his best pitch, that you have to keep an eye out for; the arm action is perfectly deceptive for being so repeatable. Marshall looks fluid and simple, like he could throw forever. To watch him pitch is to think that throwing a baseball is the most natural thing in the world. When he finishes, a group of fans standing on a walkway above burst into applause. He has simply been playing catch.
In the clubhouse afterward, Marshall is taking a sip of water and checking his iPhone with his non-throwing hand. He is 22 years old and seems unaware of the show he’s just put on. The display is over, just another workout session in a career full of them. Marshall has been in the Yankees organization for five seasons, and has climbed through the team’s minor-league ranks at the exact pace you’d want him to. He will likely spend this season in Triple-A Scranton, one stop from the bigs, where guaranteed contracts and the major-league-minimum salary of $490,000 a year, at the very least, await. If he puts up the kind of numbers scouts think he’s capable of—double-digit wins, with a 4.00 ERA, 175 innings a season, say—he could well earn $10 million a year or more. He’s on the verge of becoming a millionaire and playing for the New York Yankees in front of the entire world. And he knows it could all blow up in a second. “You just want your arm to hold up,” he says. “You have to not think about it. I do not, man. Not at all.”
Marshall is a Texas kid (baseball scouts have long had a fetish for Texas pitchers, from Ryan to Roger Clemens) who exploded on the scouting scene his junior year in high school. The fact that he had started out as a shortstop made many scouts believe he would be less injury prone because he’d thrown fewer pitches (the “you only have so many bullets in the gun” theory). Marshall lost the last start of his high-school career when he hit a batter in the state semifinals to force in the deciding run. It was his 146th pitch. The Yankees drafted Marshall in the sixth round in 2008. He pitched a total of twenty games (poorly; his ERA was 5.21) before his arm started feeling sore and the Yankees shut him down. He then had Tommy John surgery. He was 19.
This got me thinking about how many pitching prospects still in the Minors have undergone the operation we most associate with baseball’s best hurlers. So I wondered how many of the 29 pitchers that I interviewed in-depth last season for our Prospect Pitch series (first edition here, and you can click to other editions using the drop-down menu in the middle of the story) went under the knife. Here’s what I found:
Have undergone Tommy John:
- Cam Bedrosian (Angels) – “It’s frustrating. It is,” he said. “Coming back from it, it’s been tougher than I first imagined. I thought, ‘Once I get to about 12 months and get back in the system and throwing again, I’ll be all ready to go.’ But it’s been a lot tougher getting a feel for everything. My first couple of starts were a little — I was a little wild. It was hard to control the fastball and other pitches. Each time I throw, I feel a little bit better.”
- John Gast (Cardinals) – “I was more of a slinger — I had a lower arm slot in high school — and I had Tommy John surgery and changed my motion. [The slurve] was a little easier to throw when you’re slinging across it. I’m a little more on top than I was, but not by much. The action of the pitch hasn’t changed; the hitters are just better.”
- Drew Hutchison (Blue Jays) — Had the surgery not long after we spoke.
- Brett Marshall (Yankees) – “My first year, I threw a lot of curveballs. Every day, even after a start, I’d throw 100 curveballs on flat ground, just spinning ‘em, trying to get a feel for it. So after Tommy John [surgery in 2009], I was like, ‘Give me my sinker back. That’s what I had when ya’ll signed me, and that was one big thing that got me drafted.’ I have been throwing it ever since.”
- Eric Surkamp (Giants) – Had the surgery not long after we spoke.
- Navery Moore (Braves) – “I was throwing pretty hard in high school for my age, and that’s how I got hurt,” said Moore, who was clocked at 96 mph before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow in March 2007. “I grew fairly quickly, and then out of nowhere, my body had to adjust to throwing that hard, on top of [using] mechanics that probably weren’t the best. … The hardest thing after [surgery] was getting my feel back. My arm strength was back, but it was just something about confidence and repetition to get back the feel for breaking pitches; I was trying to do too much with the breaking pitches.”
- Jake Petricka (White Sox) – Had the surgery way back in 2007.
Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
Answering Three Reader Questions on Comps: Springer V. Marte, Archer V. Odorizzi, The Brewers’ Jungmann V. The Field
1) — Richie (asked via blog post comment): “Can you do a George Springer / Starling Marte comp? Both are players with very similar plate approaches that I feel will either hinder or advance their progress in the future. Love the blog, thanks.”
This is an interesting question. Let’s break it down. Both Springer and Marte are rangy outfielders with great baserunning ability. And both are right-handed batters with pop but questions remain about their ability to make contact. I think that’s what you’re getting at regarding plate approaches — both strike out too much right now. This much is obvious. What’s less clear is whether they can cut down on the Ks without losing their power. Springer isn’t as far along in his development — he finished 2012 at Double while Marte was in the bigs — and that helps his case. Despite that, I favor Marte. From what I have seen on video, his is smoother swing and isn’t as long. I also think he’s the more complete player. But the floor comp for Springer is D-backs-turned-A’s outfielder Chris Young, so he’s going to be a Major League regular before too long, too.
2) — Pierre (asked via email): “C.Archer or J.Odorizzi for the Rays in the near future???”
Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi are both right-handers with No. 2/3 potential and both are Major League-ready or close to it. In the near future, you ask? It’s got to be Archer, who has a little but more MLB experience and a lot more time in Tampa Bay’s system. (Both were traded there, but Odorizzi has been with the club less than a month.) He will probably get the first chance of the pair to join the Rays’ rotation, which is still packed despite losing veterans James Shields and Wade Davis in the Odorizzi deal. Long-term, the educated guess here is that both will be good MLB hurlers but that Odorizzi winds up more as a solid innings-eater type while Archer fulfills his greater potential. Having studied the pitches of each (details on Odorizzi’s repertoire here, and Archer’s here), I’m convinced Archer is better equipped to do just that. Odorrizi has the deeper repertoire, but Archer has two very, very good offerings in his fastball and breaking ball. (It should be said that mine is not the popular opinion, as Odorizzi is ranked 30th overall by MLB.com, and Archer is ranked 81st.)
3) — @Andy_Birling (asked via Twitter): “What are your thoughts of Taylor Jungmann? what potential does he have? thanks”
As I alluded to on Twitter, this is a comp query. Or, I am going to make it one. As deep as the Brewers are in pitching prospects –like Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Thornburg, Wily Peralta, Jed Bradley, Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson are all ranked among Milwaukee’s nine best farmhands — Jungmann is the one that looks most like a No. 2 starter in a MLB rotation. That’s not to demean the others, particularly Nelson (in whom I am a believer), but they more likely top out as No. 3s. Jungmann needs at least two more seasons of seasoning in the Minors, but he has the stuff to keep progressing at his current pace. Jed Bradley is also a challenger for this spot (this spot being Brewers pitching prospect with the highest ceiling), as he is also well-armed repertoire-wise and is left-handed, which is always a plus. He just needs to stay healthy to catch up with Jungmann.
Let’s keep this all very simple and put it in bullet-form. According to a report Friday from the venerable Jeff Passan:
- the Royals are willing to trade their top prospect — and, perhaps, baseball’s top prospect — Wil Myers
- the Royals will seek young, front-line starting pitching in any deal for Myers
- the Royals have discussed such a swap with the Rays, the D-backs, the A’s and the Mariners
As much as it might seem a surprise for a down-and-out, on-its-way-back team to be “dangling” or “shopping” such an impactful slugger with zero Major League service time, this news should not, in fact, come as a surprise. Let’s stay simple and explain why:
- the Royals appear set with their outfield to begin 2013 — and unwilling to make room for Myers (he could force the issue with a big Spring Training)
- the Royals appear set with an offensive nucleus of young sluggers (which includes the names Butler, Gordon, Moustakas, Hosmer, Perez — not Myers)
- the Royals do not appear set with their starting rotation (in no small part because prospects Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer have stalled in the Minors)
Which brings us to the Rays, the D-backs, the A’s and the Mariners. What Passan doesn’t tell us, I will. What he doesn’t tell us, of course, is which pitching prospects Kansas City might be targeting from each of these four potential trading partners. Let’s take them one at a time:
- Major League rotation: James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb/Jeff Niemman
- Expendable prospects: Chris Archer (AAA), Alex Torres (AAA), Alex Colome (AAA), Enny Romero (High-A), Felipe Rivero (A), Taylor Guerrieri and Blake Snell (Low-A)
- The proposal for Myers: Chris Archer and Taylor Guerrieri for Myers
- Why it Wil/won’t work: The Rays will be loathe to part with two elite hurlers and may insist on an Archer-and-anybody-but-Guerrieri package, but including their 2011 first-round draftee probably puts them ahead in the race to land Myers. And Tampa Bay might overpay (in its mind) to get a can’t-miss slugger that it can control contractually for the next six years. … Don’t discount Romero or Rivero, who like Guerrieri are far away from the Majors, but have very live arms.
- Major League rotation: Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Hudson, Wade Miley, Pat Corbin/Tyler Skaggs
- Expendable prospects: Trevor Bauer (AAA), David Holmberg (AA), Anthony Meo (High-A), Archie Bradley (A)
- The proposal for Myers: Trevor Bauer, David Holmberg and Anthony Meo for Myers and SS/2B prospect Christian Colon
- Why it Wil/won’t work: We’ve seen national reports that — before they were shot down — depicted the D-backs making and taking calls on Trevor Bauer. So this could be the trade makes the most sense: Arizona trades a pitcher it undervalues to Kansas City for a slugger it undervalues. Has there ever been a prospects-only deal that could also be a change-of-scenery-needed swap for both players? … I expanded my proposal above to include two more Arizona hurlers because we know that the D-backs are starving for a shortstop and that the Royals’ Colon, while not a plus defender at the position, can hit enough to play there. (And Colon is obviously blocked in K.C. by Alcides Escobar.)
- Major League rotation: Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, Bartolo Colon/Brandon McCarthy (free agent)
- Expendable prospects: Dan Straily (AAA), Brad Peacock (AAA), Sonny Gray (AA), A.J. Cole (High-A)
- The proposal for Myers: Dan Straily and Brad Peacock for Myers
- Why it Wil/won’t work: What do Billy Beane and Co. in Oakland have going for them? They may be the lone club of the four that can offer Dayton Moore two Major League-ready, top-of-the-rotation pitchers. The Royals could insist on the more-proven A.J. Griffin or the higher-ceiling Cole, but it’s hard to imagine them not being at least instrigued by a Straily-Peacock combo. … One flaw in this proposal is really two: Peacock, for all of his stuff, had a 6.01ERA at Triple-A this year, and it would behoove GM Moore to wonder if he is too much like another exiled Athletic right-hander: Vin Mazzaro.
- Major League rotation: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez
- Expendable prospects: Danny Hultzen (AAA), Taijuan Walker (AA), James Paxton (AA), Brandon Maurer (AA), Jordon Shipers (A)
- The proposal for Myers: Danny Hultzen and Jordan Shipers for Myers
- Why it Wil/won’t work: Of the four, this deal has the most obstacles to getting done. The Mariners will offer Danny Hultzen, the Royals will want Taijuan Walker, and the Mariners will not want to counter with the logical next best thing: Hultzen AND James Paxton. And I don’t blame them. The M’s MLB rotation is thin, and all three members of the Hultzen-Walker-Paxton trio will probably be needed in Seattle by 2014. Pulling off this transaction would be as gutsy as that Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero memory of last offseason.
Put this on your hot stove and cook it: We are still three weeks from baseball’s Winter Meetings and already the names of Minor League prospects — not just Major League players — are being bandied about as trade bait.
This is the world we live in — a world in which national, rumor-mongering ball writers and fans are growing increasingly savvy about not only teams’ complete 25-man roster, but their 40-man and beyond. If you’re anything like them, you’re also highly aware of many of your team’s Top 20 Prospects, guys who are perhaps years from getting to the bigs.
Which explains why there are already talks about the Reds potentially moving shortstop Didi Gregorius, the D-backs maybe (but probably not) parting with pitcher Trevor Bauer, among other ideas (that’s all they really are at this point) about clubs shipping off untested twenty-somethings.
So jumping in on the speculation? Don’t mind if I do. In fact, the next piece I will be working on for MiLB.com will focus on what type of “prospect packages” Major League execs need to be presented with to end, say, the Justin Upton Era in Arizona or the Jacoby Ellsbury Era in Boston.
As much interest as there is in prospects, however, it is still the the established Major League player that is the conversation-starter. The Red Sox would call the Giants to initiate Ellsbury-for-Gary Brown talks — it’s very unlikely such a deal would come about the other way around.
With that fact in mind, I present a list of prospects who could be moved based on their respective organizations’ depth (irrespective of their rumored interest in a big-time big leaguer like, say, the Rays’ James Shields or the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera because such interest is more likely to be rumored than real). Here are guys who are potentially expendable if their teams want to trade up this offseason:
Tampa Bay Rays – Starting pitcher Chris Archer or Alex Colome – Some would have you believe that GM Andrew Friedman needs to trade Shields or fellow vet starter David Price before their price tag gets out of hand, but Shields has club-friendly options through 2014, and it will be difficult to get equal value for Price. Friedman’s shortcut: Deal Archer or Colome and still have more than enough pitching both in the bigs and the pipeline.
Oakland A’s – Infielder Grant Green – The A’s are not in the habit of trading Major League-quality hitters with zero Major League service time, but this is a unique case. GM Billy Beane and brass need a shortstop and, by their own evaluations, Green is a below-average defender there. This is why they have tried Green in center field (unsuccessful), third base (ehh) and, most recently, second base (adequate). It’s all well and good that Green could be a good utility man, but his bat is too good to not play everyday. Swapping him for a player the A’s do deem a two-way player at short (Gregorius?) would seem to make the most sense.
Seattle Mariners – Infielder Nick Franklin or Stefen Romero –The M’s have and like Dustin Ackley at second and, apparently, don’t see Franklin as a strong enough defender at shortstop. (Another prospect, Brad Miller, who will begin next season at Double-A, could be the long-term solution there.) That leaves Franklin and, to a lesser degree, Romero (who could move to third base) stuck behind Ackley. For all the talk about dealing lefty starter James Paxton, why not keep their potential super-rotation intact.
More musings: If the Rangers deal a shortstop this winter, expect it to be Class A slick fielder Luis Sardinas. … If the Braves decide they can spend to resign catcher Brian McCann past the 2013 season, that would make defensive-minded backstop Christian Bethancourt expendable. … Speaking of catchers, the Marlins could deal J.T. Realmuto given the show Rob Brantly put on this year. … If the cash-poor Mets can reach an extension agreement third baseman David Wright, Wilmer Flores could be a casualty. … What do the Nats do with Anthony Rendon, a plus defender at third base, with face-of-the-franchise Ryan Zimmerman signed through 2019. Rendon, Washington’s top pick in 2011, will likely begin ’13 at Double-A and isn’t far from Show-ready. … Even if the D-backs don’t give up on Upton, it would seem logical to include A.J. Pollock in an offseason deal. He’s not in the team’s plans the way that Adam Eaton is.