February 2016

CANDID COMMISSIONER MEETS WITH MEDIA

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred met with a large group of media members on Monday February 23 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. I found the Commissioner’s comments refreshing, candid, uplifting and very hopeful.

It is important to remember that the Commissioner’s remarks come on the eve of preliminary discussions regarding the Basic Agreement between ownership and the Players Association. The Commissioner said informal talks will begin during Spring Training with negotiations taking place during the season.

I want to begin this piece with the question I asked Commissioner Manfred part way through his session. I stated that fans pay a great deal of money for tickets, hotels, food, parking, rental cars, etc. to watch Spring Training games. I stated that many fans feel it is very unfair and wrong for teams not to bring their starting lineup players to Spring Training games. In fact, there is an alleged understanding that regular roster players should be available at every spring game. Manfred was very sensitive to the issue. He said he has asked Joe Torre to monitor the matter this spring and assure teams bring their regular players to spring games. I was impressed. And pleased. It has always been an issue that I found troubling. Pay top dollar for a Spring Training game ticker and see maybe one or two familiar players known to fans. Not good.

Manfred indicated that competitive balance is crucial to the success of the game. He said that it would be much easier to schedule if there were 16 teams in each league. He said expansion is attractive because baseball is a “growth business.” However, there is no immediate timeline for expansion. He did indicate that games would be played in Puerto Rico, Mexico and maybe even Cuba if details can be worked out. In short, international growth is a high priority. He would like to see regular season games in places like Japan and London in the future.

Without naming the players, Manfred acknowledged there are three players currently being reviewed in the new domestic violence protocol. We know them to be Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees and Jose Reyes of the Rockies. He said decisions regarding two of the three will be announced this week. He said he wanted to be very thorough and complete in his review and that “control of the factual records is in the hands of law enforcement.” In my opinion, these three cases will likely set a precedent for the issue and that’s why the deliberations have taken so long.

I was most surprised at Manfred’s position regarding extending the designated hitter to the National League. Manfred feels the difference in the two leagues is crucial to success. He sees the DH as a factor separating the leagues and adding interest. He said he is a “status quo guy on the DH.” He thinks the DH debate is good for baseball.
He said he was “really, really reluctant to give up the differentiator.” However, we should keep in mind that perhaps this will be one of the give and take issues in the coming player/ownership negotiations. Time will tell.

Technology remains a crucial component of the Commissioner’s agenda. He indicated that we can look forward to more technology and constant refining of those systems in place. He said that older fans watch baseball on television while younger fans watch games on their devices. He is well aware of the need to grow the game with the type of technology that attracts younger fans.

Manfred was effusive in his praise of exciting young players that are taking the opportunity to bring the game to a new generation of fans. He named Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, and Francisco Lindor as examples of players who enhance the game along with more veteran players like Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen. He views them all as the type of players that can take the game to the next levels.

The Commissioner was asked his thoughts about teams “tanking” games on purpose in an effort to get a higher draft pick. He felt that was not the case. He indicated he did not believe a team would lose a game on purpose. He said it was “not a problem in need of an answer.”

I believe the game is in very capable hands with Commissioner Manfred at the helm. His priorities include economic development, product enhancement and fan enrichment, in any order. I found him to be sensitive to the overall landscape of the game and to the entities impacted by the game.

Thank you for reading BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD. You can find my thoughts and opinions and player evaluations all throughout Spring Training right here at this site.
We will be taking a week off from the video cast of BBW this week. Join us again on video at YouTube and Prosportsbroadcasting.com on March 4 for the next edition.

You can follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

 

Navigating The Comeback Trail

As we wait in anticipation for the start of the new season, we have a tendency to place great emphasis on high profile players. We need these guys to perform in order for our favorite teams to win games (and our fantasy teams as well).

Pitchers and catchers report this coming week. I love those words so much, I’m going to write them again. Pitchers and catchers report this coming week. It all begins.  For some guys, they will be navigating the comeback trail.  The way they rebound from sub-par performance in 2015 will have a great deal to do with their teams success (and our fantasy team’s success.

Here is a list of guys I’ll be monitoring carefully to see how they travel along the 2016 comeback trail.

VICTOR MARTINEZ-TIGERS

Oh my, did he fall off the cliff. Victor Martinez is among the best long-term pure hitters I’ve seen in the game. From his time as a great hitting prospect catcher in the Indians organization to his fabulous 2014 season of .335/32/107 in 641 plate appearances, Martinez has always been an impact hitter. And a switch-hitter to boot. Last year? Martinez, coming back from bad wheels and knees hit .245/11/64. Yikes! He went from a .409 OBP to .301. Now, in 2016 and at age 37, who is Victor Martinez?

PABLO SANDOVAL-GIANTS

Sandoval left the comfort of the National League San Francisco Giants to the very high profile American League Boston Red Sox. The rest is a nightmare. Looking a tad out of shape at his reported 255 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame, Sandoval is a better defensive third baseman than his thick frame may dictate. Defense isn’t the issue though. He went from .279/16/73 in 638 plate appearances with the Giants to a brutal .245/10/47 in 505 plate appearances with the Red Sox. The Panda needs to change his brand of bamboo or find another food source, because this just isn’t working. He will be in his age 29 season, and his team needs the switch-hitter to perform.

YASIEL PUIG-DODGERS

Puig’s nose dive last season could be attributed to various injuries that included hamstring issues. However, when he did play he looked like a stale bottle of soda without the fizz. He hit .255/11/38 in his 311 plate appearances in 79 games. In the previous season, he finished at .296/16/69 in 640 trips to the plate. The Dodgers need the right-handed hitter to come back from injuries and perform as anticipated. But he also has to tone down his overall approach to the game and his demeanor in the clubhouse that has been a source of contention for his club. The man is talented-but he has to prove his worth in 2016.

JACOBY ELLSBURY-YANKEES

Do you find it hard to believe that Jacoby Ellsbury hit 32 home runs and drove in 105 runs in…wait for it…2011. Well, that was an interesting time in baseball, right? Four short years later, Ellsbury hit exactly seven. That’s seven- as in 7. That’s 25 fewer big flies. But here’s the rub. He stole 70 bases in 2009. Last season he stole 21. That was down from the 39 he stole in 2014. But last year he played in only 111 games. He hit .257 compared to .271 in 149 games in 2014. Is this decline permanent? At the age of 32 is Ellsbury toast? While there is no denying the consistent decline in his stats, Ellsbury should be motivated to renew his career. What can we expect?

LEONYS MARTIN-MARINERS

I was fortunate to scout Martin when he first arrived with Texas as a fresh young outfielder from Cuba. It took some time for the Rangers staff to work on his entire game, but they did a fine job. In 2014 he hit .274/7/40 and stole 31 bases, being caught 12 times. He was becoming a complete player—good jumps in the outfield, good offensive improvement. He had a .325 on base percentage. And then–the roof caved in. Last year he eventually was replaced in center field by the Rangers. He finished the season at .219/5/25 with 14 stolen bases. He was traded to Seattle in November. He has a new life with a new team–in the same division. He can bite the hand that once fed him. I admit I am not confident we will see the 2014 edition of Martin. But who is he? Will he be a force with the Mariners? Time will tell.

JEFF SAMARDZIJA- GIANTS

There are respected baseball analysts that place a very high value on Samardzija. He has a strong arm, great physicality and he has the look of a winner. I’m not as bullish on him as some others. Last year the White Sox thought he was among the answers for their rotation needs. The results? He went 11-13 with an ERA of 4.96 and a WHIP of 1.29. He yielded a whopping 29 home runs. And 118 earned runs. And 228 hits in 214 innings. OK- that last stat really isn’t that bad. But the ERA, WHIP, and homers are an issue. He gets a rebirth with a new big ball park in Oakland. Will it be enough for him to be a solid starter in the AL West? We’ll see. My jury is still out.

CHRIS TILLMAN-ORIOLES

Those that follow me know I’m a big Tillman fan. I was with the Mariners when Tillman was part of the huge trade with the Orioles for Erik Bedard. At the time I thought it was a mistake to give up Tillman in the package. I thought he would be a solid starter for years to come. Well, in 2014 he went 13-6 with an ERA of 3.34 and a WHIP of 1.23. He yielded 21 homers in 207 1/3 innings. Those are solid numbers.
Last year? While he got better in the second half, he finished at 11-11 with an ERA of 4.99. a WHIP of 1.38. He yielded 30 homers in 173 innings. It wasn’t consistent and it wasn’t always pretty. The Orioles need an entire season of the 2014 Tillman.

GIOVANNY URSHELA-INDIANS

None of my blogs would be complete without a mention of a Cleveland Indians player. This time it’s Urshela. Is he really only a .225 hitter? He had six home runs as a third baseman. He drove in 21. How can the Tribe keep him in a position that requires offense with those abysmal numbers? Basically, it’s all about Urshela’s defense. He helped the pitching staff with a stellar glove. He and Francisco Lindor form a terrific defensive left side of the infield. But those offensive numbers are rally killers. For a club with anemic power and a meh offense, I would think his bat will have to wake up for him to retain his job all year. The starters may pitch great and lose 3-2 or 2-1 with a pop-gun outfield offense and a woeful hitter at third in Urshela. He has to step up.

There are more my friends. Many more players that have to have a better 2016 than their 2015 to help their clubs. And ours. This is just a small sampling.

Thank you for watching BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD ON VIDEO with host Bob Eres on YouTube or at Prosportsbroadcasting.com.

And thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff where your questions and comments are all welcome. I will make every effort to respond to them all.

BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD is for everyone. Sophisticated fans and those new to baseball. Men, women, boys, girls, young and chronologically advanced. I welcome each and every one of you and I thank you for your support. I want this blog and the video to be a meeting place for all races, creeds, religions, ages, genders, you name it. Everyone is welcome and everyone is valued.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my bride of 49 years. We had a Valentine’s Wedding in 1967.
The weather in Mansfield, Ohio that day when we were married? Blizzard and very, very cold. Much different than our home in Arizona—where it’s 80 here today.

That’s it. I’m done.

New Faces in Some Places

The past few months have been hectic for some players and a disappointment for others. Who knew Dexter Fowler would be looking for a job in February? Or how about Pedro Alvarez in a game that seeks power? Ike Davis and Corey Hart are available for those teams looking for first base depth. And Ian Desmond without a job? Again, he has that home run power that could play well in some parks. David Freese and Juan Uribe? Both hit better than Giovanny Urshela. But the Indians value defense at third base, and Urshela provides just that. David Murphy, Nate McLouth, Drew Stubbs, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Jeff Francouer, Alex Rios, Ryan Raburn and Shane Victorino are among the outfielders that are joining Fowler seeking employment. Who knew? I’m sure they didn’t.

And that’s just position players.

I think we’ll see some of those named above land a job before the first Spring Training game. But-being a free agent isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Tyler Clippard who thought he would be off the board before the calendar turned to February and he was signed by the Diamondbacks.

Speaking of Clippard, the warning bell in my head is ringing. He reminds me some of Addison Reed. We’ve seen that movie in Phoenix. Will his tendency to throw too many elevated pitches that result in fly balls haunt Clippard at Chase Field? I like his stuff, but he has to be razor sharp and keep the ball in the park to find success in Phoenix. Fly Ball Pitcher+Chase Field+Phoenix Altitude=Yikes! Watch out.

Mat Latos to the White Sox? He offers the club a right-handed arm for a heavily left-handed rotation. He’ll likely take the 5th starter’s job behind Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rondon and John Danks, all lefties. He also comes with a reputation of having ruffled many many feathers when he was still with the Reds. Which Latos shows up in Chicago? I’m not convinced he’ll be healthy and I’m not convinced that’s a good park for him. But he does offer the team some depth. I’ll politely pass in fantasy.

Reliever Craig Stammen is this year’s Indians reclamation project. Or among them I should say. If Stammen can return to health and pitch like he has in the past, I think a bullpen spot may be available for him. The Indians have long been known to try to catch lightning in a bottle with formerly injured pitchers. Some have worked out, others have not. It’s worth a try.

I’m not that bullish on Odrisamer Despaigne moving to the Orioles from San Diego.
He’ll have hitter friendly Camden Yards and some tough AL East lineups to deal with if he makes the rotation.

Count me among those that think Steve Pearce can add a nice power bat to the Rays.
He could give them 20 homers from the right side of the plate if he gets his chances. I see about 300 at-bats for him-or maybe more. But he’ll be splitting time with Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson, Richie Shaffer and James Loney for DH at-bats. Also for time at first base. So 300 at-bats may be a reach the more I think of it. I still like his chances to pop some pitches out of the park.

Howie Kendrick had to wait and wait before he returned to the Dodgers. He refused the qualifying offer but got another year on his contract. So, for two years the Dodgers have a fine hitting second baseman at a reasonable price. I still like his line drive, right-center field gap bat. He’s especially tough with men in scoring position.

Aaron Hill may be able to provide some veteran leadership to a young Brewers team. Given their lack of depth at third base, I think we’ll see a great deal of him there. I’ve seen him pull lots of balls to left field-and I think he’ll do that at Miller Park.

The next opportunity for Travis Snider is with Kansas City. Wasn’t he a top flight prospect when he was in development? Yes, Bernie, he was. Well, prospects don’t always pan out to be stars. Snider is a cat with nine lives.

Jurickson Profar strikes me as a prime trade target. And I think he’d make a darn good center fielder. I’m just sayin.

Keep your eyes on Socrates Brito. The Dbacks have a solid, multi-tooled player there. I just wonder if he’ll get a chance to play. He can hit, and he can run. Fine right-field arm as well. I’m not a huge Yasmany Tomas fan. I’m a huge Brito fan. Same position.

Where does Peter O’Brien play? I’d keep him behind the plate and work with him. He has tremendous power and I think he can get better at blocking balls, calling a game and overall catching mechanics. With the DH a looming possibility, O’Brien is the last guy on the Dbacks roster I would trade.

Edwin Jackson is still pitching. Doesn’t it seem he began his career in 1930?

I hope you’ll watch BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD on video this week Friday on YouTube. I’ll be live again with host Bob Eres.

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for making this blog possible due to your support.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

BERNIES BASEBALL WORLD is on internet video-you can get involved

I’m really pleased to announce that I will be teaming with Bob “Kingpin” Eres to bring BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD to internet video.  The show begins Friday February 5th.  The plan is to do the videos every Friday in February and March and then determine if we are going to continue during the season.  At that is missing now is you.

Bob “Kingpin” Eres is a professional bowler. He has his own production studio and has been interviewing sports related individuals for years at Pro Sports Broadcasting. He owns the company and designs and produces all the shows.

BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD will be produced on Friday morning and be ready to be viewed by 1PM each Friday afternoon. The show will always be available at two sites and can be viewed at your leisure at any time.

You will be able to view BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD at:
Prosportsbroadcasting.com or on YouTube. Just look for BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD.

Bob will be engaging in conversation with me and interviewing me each week. We will have an emphasis on FANTASY BASEBALL information as well as personal scouting/player analysis and evaluation.

Companies, individuals or anyone wishing to purchase advertising on the show may do so by calling 480-436-1620. Advertising rates are reasonably priced at $50 per minute. There is no limit to the number of minutes or weeks that must be purchased. A pre-recorded advertisement may be submitted or the advertisement can be read on the show by either Bob or myself. A third advertising option is available. An ad card may be placed on the screen. That is also priced at $50.

UNIQUE MESSAGE BOARD OPPORTUNITY

Here’s the fun part. We are offering the opportunity for an individual to share a personal message on the show. Messages will be similar to those placed on the scoreboard of a ball park. For example:

Happy Birthday Uncle Leo-from Rollie and Jill

Linda, will you marry me?–I love you. Skippy

Follow me on twitter @cubsfan

Happy Anniversary mom and dad-The kids

To the Arizona Diamondbacks-good luck this season from Gina

Wishing you a Happy Easter-Big Bubba’s Bakery

You get the idea. Each message will cost only $15. We want it to be a fun experience.
Be creative and have fun. This is a great and very inexpensive way to send a message to someone.  Cheaper than a greeting card in today’s world.

All advertisements and personal messages will be paid for via Pay Pal.

When you call 480-436-1620 you will be asked to leave your name and your personal contact information. I will return a call to you and respond to your advertisement or personal message request.

We hope you will support this new concept by watching the show each week. Bob and I will be open to your ideas and suggestions. I will be happy to answer any of your player related questions as well.

We hope this helps you win your FANTASY BASEBALL league or that it just gives you another perspective/opinion about a player.

So- you can begin calling today with your advertisements or personal messages. Start the ball rolling and get in on the ground floor. Help us make this a great place to talk baseball and share messages each week.

Thanks in advance for your support of BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD on video. Remember to tune in to Prosportsbroadcasting.com or YouTube each week. And please—tell your friends.

We start tomorrow-February 5th. We may have a few bugs in the first show, but we’ll work them out.

Call 480-436-1620 and leave your name and contact info to advertise or leave a personal message.  We will begin posting ads and messages on our 2nd show-February 12th.

Thanks so much! And please-have fun with the show. Make it a destination stop each week and enjoy the content and the messages.

And thanks for following me @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done. Until the show starts tomorrow.

 

“Knocking On The Door” Part 6- National League West

Service time is a very important issue to both the players and the owners. Service time is one factor impacting future salaries. The time he begins to accumulate service time dictates when he is eligible for arbitration. It’s all uphill from there.

Because service time is so important, clubs use their own standards regarding player promotion to the parent club. As a result, there is no consistent approach to handling promotions. We may see players promoted sooner or later than had been projected.

In the last of my series profiling players I believe will be playing in the big leagues at some point this season, I look at the National League West. Players must have Rookie status remaining or be international signings to be included.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Socrates Brito-OF-age 23- Besides loving his wonderful name, I really, really like all the tools he brings to his game. He has speed to steal bases, a very strong arm, a loud and powerful bat, and an ability to drive in runs. A left-handed hitter, I think he’ll get plenty of opportunities to play right field for the Dbacks. He’s still under the radar.

Peter O’Brien-C/OF-age 25- What to do with Peter O’Brien? That’s the question the Yankees had before trading him to Arizona. He has improved behind the plate, but he still has work to do to be a big league catcher. But he hits long, long home run bombs. There has to be a place for his power-especially at Chase Field. But where? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dbacks field plenty of calls from AL clubs seeking DH help.

Brandon Drury-3B/2B-age 22- If Jake Lamb continues to be Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate, we could see a lot of Drury at third base. Or, he could fit nicely at second. It really is just a matter of time and circumstance before Drury brings his line-drive bat the the big league club. He has a sweet swing, is a gamer and he should fit nicely.

Zack Godley-RHSP-age 25- I can not stress enough how impressed I was with the relatively unknown Godley when he arrived at Chase Field last year. Everything he threw moved. Everything darted. Everything sunk. He was very poised and mature on the mound and I think he should be pitching in the rotation as soon as possible.
But I don’t set the roster. Godley threw to a 3.19 ERA in 36 2//3 innings. A winner.

Braden Shipley-RHSP-age 23- The Dbacks traded Aaron Blair to Atlanta to get SP Shelby Miller. Blair, like Godley is among my favorite young starters. Shipley was rated higher than Blair by many. He may get a chance to help the big club if there is a rotation melt down or injuries hit. He should be a solid performer for a long time.

Kaleb Fleck-RHRP-age 27- There is no question Fleck can throw hard. He could be a late inning reliever in the near future. Much of the Dbacks season depends upon how the pen holds up. Fleck could add some in-season help if needed.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Dustin Garneau-C-age 28- The right-handed hitting Garneau could claim the back-up catching role. He hit well at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2015 and smoked 15 Pacific Coast League home runs. He hit .274 and got a late look in Denver.

Tom Murphy-C-age 24- Murphy may be the competition for Garneau. He also hit well at Albuquerque with 19 homers. He’s younger. Much will depend upon which of the catchers is deemed to handle the pitching staff and offer defense as a back-up. He has a shoulder injury in his history, but if healthy, he could get the nod.

Christian Adames-SS-age 24- I think the switch-hitting Adames will see plenty of big league playing time. He will help fill-in if (when) Jose’ Reyes is suspended. He is a very good defensive shortstop with offensive potential. The Rocks will need that defense.

Trevor Story-2B/SS/3B-age 23- I think Story profiles best at second base. I think he’ll be playing in Denver at some point in the season. I like his hustle and his drive. He’s a good infielder with a chance to help the club with his versatility.

Jon Gray-RHSP-age 24- There was a time I thought Eddie Butler and Jon Gray would rid the Rockies of their endless pitching woes. Not so fast. I think Gray will be in the rotation, but I’m not sure he is that “can’t miss” guy anymore. I still like his stuff, but I have to remember that Coors is one tough, tough place to pitch. He;; make command strides Note: Butler has exceeded rookie limits.

Jeff Hoffman-RHSP-age 23- One of the pitchers who came from Toronto, Hoffman may be needed as early as this coming season. He’s the real deal. Tall and thin at
6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he is a former first rounder with good stuff. Long shot for 2016.

Miguel Castro-RHRP-age 21- Castro also came from Toronto. He has a big arm and can become the closer of the future for the Rockies. He could find his way to the team’s bullpen this coming season, but probably not in the 9th inning role.

Kyle Freeland-LHSP-age 22- It would probably be better for Freeland and the Rockies to give him another full year of development. However, pitching circumstances may dictate an earlier than expected arrival for him. He has deception and great late life on his fastball and follows that with a very good slider and changeup. This is an excellent pitcher who may be needed too soon.

Jairo Diaz-RHRP-age 24- He could help the club as an emergency reliever.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Corey Seager-SS/ age 21- Seager still has rookie eligibility and he should be among those considered for Rookie Of The Year honors. He’s got everything a club could want in a player. He can hit, hit for power and run a bit. He could be a doubles machine. Not the greatest defender and big for a shortstop, Seager will remain at shortstop for now.

Julio Urias-LHSP-age 19- Following eye surgery, Urias should be able to step up and help the rotation once the Dodgers feel he is ready to roll. When he arrives, he will be a fixture in the rotation. Throwing a very good fastball, and excellent curveballs and changeups to complete his arsenal, the lefty has sharp control and maturity.

Frankie Montas-RHSP- age 22- Part of a major trade, Montas came from the White Sox in the off season. He has a wicked fastball/slider combination but currently lacks command and control of his arsenal. When I scouted him I saw a great arm, but he couldn’t throw strikes. Montas needs refinement, but if he’s needed during the season he could step up and offer rotation innings. But watch out in 2017.

Trayce Thompson-OF-age 24- Coming from an athletic family, Thompson is the outlier. He chose baseball as opposed to basketball. He’s tall and thin and plays a very good center field. He came from the White Sox where he began to hit in his late season call up. I think there is more consistency waiting in his bat. A good 4th or 5th outfielder.

Austin Barnes-C-age 26- Barnes was with the Marlins. He can be the guy in the organization that gets the first call if the club needs a catcher.

Jharel Cotton-RHSP-age 24- Cotton offers starting pitching depth from the right side. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League where he got valuable experience.

Micah Johnson-2B-age 25- Also coming from the White Sox, Johnson as very, very good speed and could be a base running threat. If he gets on base. I’ve seen both the good and the bad Johnson in his development. He is a marginal defender, but his quick hands at the plate and his off the charts speed project him as a starting type player. However, Howie Kendrick is back. That impacts Johnson’s immediate future.

Chris Anderson-RHP-age 23- A former first round selection, Anderson is making progress, getting innings under his belt and refining his very good fastball. His time may come as a late season call-up.

Shane Carle-RHSP-age 24- Carle could provide in season pitching depth if needed.

Yaisel Sierra-RHSP-age 25- Sierra came from Cuba as an international free agent. He is on the 40-man roster and will likely be given a good look in Spring Training.

Kenta Maeda-RHSP-age 27- Maeda was purchased from Japan and is a likely candidate for the starting rotation. He has logged 1509 2/3 innings in Japan. I have not seen him pitch and generally hold my evaluations until I have scouted a player in person.

Zach Lee-RHSP-age 24- Lee has long been touted as a potential Dodgers starter. This year he could serve as a potential right-handed starter if help is needed in the rotation. I think he might be among the first called upon to fill-in.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Jabari Blash-RHOF-age 26- A Rule 5 selection from Oakland (trade), I was surprised the Padres took him with their outstanding outfield depth. Of their many Rule 5 selections, Blash may be the one that sticks. He could be a right-handed bench option. He has a very nice power/speed combination that could surprise. He grew up in the Mariners organization and was made available. Oakland took him in Rule 5 and flipped him to San Diego.

Josh Martin-RHRP-age 26- A Rule 5 selection from the Indians, Martin would have to stick or be offered back to Cleveland. It would seem he could win a job in the pen.

Taylor Lindsey-2B-age 24- Lindsey hits left-handed. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and has not been invited to Spring Training. But it is possible he may be needed later in the season. He came over in a trade with the Angels.

Travis Jankowski-CF-age 24- I am very bullish on Jankowski. I hope he gets a chance to prove he can play a very good center field. He hustles and plays the game right. He’s a former first round draft pick, so he’ll get a big time look.

Manuel Margot-OF-age 21- Part of a huge deal with the Red Sox, this may not yet be his time. But he is a prized prospect and another piece of the Padres CF depth. I do believe he needs another year of development, but the Padres could call him in 2016.

Hunter Renfroe-OF-age 24- He’s a quality hitter. The Padres have lots of good outfield options, and like Margot, he could have to wait his turn. He is not on the 40-man and has not been given an invitation to Spring Training.

Colin Rea-RHSP-age 25- He could make his debut by mid-season if he is needed in the rotation.

Tayron Guerrero-RHRP-age 25- He offers the Padres depth from the bullpen and could be available if needed.

Blake Smith-RHRP-age 28- Smith is a Rule 5 acquisition from the White Sox. He may be a long shot to stick with the club. Spring Training will be huge for him.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Mac Williamson-OF-age 25- This could be the time for the powerful Williamson. He’s big and strong at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He can punish a pitcher’s mistakes. I think the Giants can use his power in LF. He may strike out some, but he’ll pound the ball.

Jarrett Parker-OF-age 27-Parker could provide some left-handed hitting outfield support.

Hak-ju Lee-SS-age 25- An injury on a slide into second base while he was with the Rays hampered his development. Lee remains a marginal prospect that could help in the middle infield if his defense is needed.

Clayton Blackburn-RHSP-age 23- Blackburn offers right-handed organizational starting pitching depth.

Adelbert Mejia-LHSP-age 22- Still very young, Mejia can be an insurance policy as a left-handed starter. He needs more development time but is there if needed.

Steven Overt-LHRP-age 24- Okert throws nice and easy and could be an early recall candidate as a lefty bullpen prospect.

Kyle Crick-RHP-age 23- Still young, Crick has not lived up to the expectations scouts and the Giants had for him. Projected as a quality starter, the former supplemental first round selection has a high velocity fastball and a good slider. However, he hasn’t harnessed the command and control required of a top-notch starter. I still think he has the arm to compete and I think we’ll see better days ahead for Crick. He may find his form as a bullpen arm and then revert back to a starting role. My jury remains out on Crick.

This Friday I will begin my new project with ProSportsBroadcasting.com. Watch my twitter site @BerniePleskoff and this blog for details on how you can watch BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD on video. In my first show, I will discuss my choices as the best of the 2016 NL rookies. I will go in detail and will include fantasy expectations and value as well. Friday February 5 we will roll it out.

Thanks for reading this series and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

 

“Knocking On The Door”part 5- American League West

Depth is a critical component of every successful baseball organization. Having players available in the Minor Leagues to cover poor performance or injury is part of the lifeblood of each club.

Many of the players listed in the series may play only a game or two. They may fill in for a week at a certain position or make one start on the mound or have one performance from the pen. Their contributions are critical. The teams that are best prepared for adversity can weather the storm and proceed without much trepidation.

Today I take a look at the American League West. Some teams have greater organizational depth than others. Graduations last season and the use of prospects in a flurry of major trades this year have had an impact upon every division.

HOUSTON ASTROS

A J Reed-1B-age 22- He may need more development time and may not make an impact this year, but Reed is a left-handed hitter with some power and an ability to drive in runs. Based upon what I’ve seen in the Arizona Fall League and elsewhere, Reed is getting close to the point of graduation. He can become very relevant.

Matt Duffy-1B/3B-age 27-Older and more advanced than Reed, Duffy may be able to make the club as a right-handed hitter off the bench.

Colin Moran-3B-age 23- I admit I’ve never been a big fan of the former Marlin. He has been invited to Spring Training and has a chance to play at some point this year.

Tony Kemp-2B-age 24- Kemp is 5-foot-6, not unlike the man blocking his path, Jose Altuve. Kemp is not Altuve. He is a marginal defender, a line-drive hitter and he can accept a walk. He has speed and can get on base. He may need more development.

Tyler Heineman-C-age 24- It would be a long-shot for him to get his chance, but he may be in line as a backup behind Jason Castro and Max Stassi. He’s a switch-hitter.

Joe Sciafani-2B/3B-age 25- The non-rostered Sciafani is a switch-hitter with an invitation to Spring Training. He provides organizational depth.

Nolan Fontana-2B/3B/SS-age 24- The switch-hitting Fontana is on the 40-man roster and will be able to get a look in Spring Training.

Andrew Aplin-OF-age 24- Aplin hits left-handed and has played at Triple-A. He may be among those that are recalled at some point if an outfield bat is needed in season.

Juan Minaya-RHRP-age 25- Minaya has seven years of experience but has not made the big league club. He will likely be on call if needed for the pen.

Chris Devanski-RHSP-age 25- Devanski has been invited to Spring Training and could see big league action if he’s needed at some point.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

note: RHRP Deolis Guerra is a Rule 5 selection from Pittsburgh. He has used his rookie eligibility. He is no longer a prospect.

Ji-Man Choi-!B-age 24- He came from Baltimore as a Rule 5 selection. He’ll get every chance to stick with the club as switch-hitting 1B and pinch-hitting depth.

Jett Bandy-C-age 25- He is a right-handed hitter with a 25-man roster spot. However, Carlos Perez and Geovany Soto are ahead of him on the depth chart.

Alex Yarborough-2B-age 24- He’s a switch-hitting infielder who is not currently on the 40-man roster. However, circumstances could dictate a shot for him at some point.

Kaleb Cowart-3B/SS.LF-age 23- He’s certainly still young enough to get it going, but Cowart has been very underwhelming so far. I see more of that continuing. He hit better at Triple-A last year so there is still hope for the former first rounder.

Rafael Ortega-OF-age 24- A left-handed hitter, Ortega has a spot on the 40-man and will be in Spring Training. He came over from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nick Buss-OF-age 29- Buss hits left-handed and has been invited to Spring-Training.
He has been with the Dodgers, the A’s and the Dbacks. It’s time got for him to rev up the engine.

Nate Smith-LHSP-age 24- Smith offers a left-handed arm to the organization. He could show up at some point in the season. Not on the 40-man, he has not been invited to Spring Training as of this writing.

Kyle McGowan-RHSP-age 24- See Smith. They are in the same situation and came from the same 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Matt Olson-1B-age 21- A left-handed hitter with power, Olson may make his debut this year. I’ve seen what he can do with the bat, and it can be impressive. He has to gain more pitch recognition and add some patience, but he has a bright future.

Sean Manaea-LHSP-age 23- The big lefty has a chance to be a fixture in the team’s rotation. I see him as a late season call-up with a complete repertoire. He has had health issues and has to prove he can stay healthy and repeat his delivery .

Renato Nunez-3B/1B-age 21- Like Manaea, I got to see lots of Nunez in this past Arizona Fall League. He has a powerful bat and can really add some much needed pop to the club from the right side of the plate. I like his chances later this year.

Joey Wendle-2B-age 25-Wendle came from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss deal. He’s a scrappy player who needs a chance. He can hit. Line drives and gap doubles in his big home park should be in his future. He’s a left-handed hitter, and that helps.

Chad Pinder-2B/SS- age 23- He’s a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. I see him more of a 2017 grad, but it’s very possible the infield situation with the A’s could lead to them needing him this year. He’s a right-handed hitter. I saw him in the AFL.

Rangel Ravelo-1B-age 23- He’s on the 40-man roster and was originally in the White Sox organization. He provides depth at first base as a right-handed hitter.

J B Wendelken-RHRP-age 26- He could offer organizational bullpen depth. He came over in a trade with the White Sox.

SEATTLE MARINERS

D J Peterson-3B/1B-age 24- He may need another full year of development. The Peterson I saw again in the Arizona Fall League did not impress. He’s a former first rounder and much was expected. There is time for him to find a louder bat.

Boog Powell-OF-age 23- No relationship to THE Boog Powell, this Powell is a left-handed hitting CF with a nice swing, a complete game, some real speed and a chance to help off the bench as a 4th or 5th outfielder during the season. Plays good defense.

Mayckol Guaipe-RHRP-age 25- He will serve as right-handed pitching depth. He’s on the 40-man roster and will been seen during Spring Training.

Jonathan Aro-RHRP-age 25- Like Guaipe, Aro can use his spot on the 40-man to show the club his stuff during Spring Training. He came over from the Red Sox.

Steven Lerud-C-age 31- He was a free agent signing from the Nationals. Because he hits left-handed, he could have some value if a need arises at the catching position.

TEXAS RANGERS

Joey Gallo-3B/OF-age 22- This will be a tough call for the club. There is no doubt about his light tower power. There is great doubt about his ability to play defense. Still very young, I think he will benefit by an entire year of Minor League play. But fans will clamor for his booming bat. The left-handed hitter can be a game-changer. If he arrives at all, I think it will be late in the season. This debate could be intense.

Nomar Mazara-OF-age 20- Another bright light in the Rangers system, Mazara will benefit by another year in the Minors. However, I think we’ll see him in September. He can be a middle-of-the-order impact bat. He could claim LF for years to come.

Lewis Brinson-CF-age 21- I actually saw Brinson come to life and improve dramatically in the Arizona Fall League. He reminds me of OF Chris Young with a more consistent bat. He plays excellent defense, has speed, and has pop in his bat. I think he’s close.

Tony Barnette-RHRP-age 32- Barnette was with the Diamondbacks organization, went to Japan and has now returned. I think he has a shot to make it to the Rangers pen.

Drew Robinson-INF-age 23- A left-handed hitter, Robinson can serve in a utility role at some point in the season because of his versatility. He’s a non-roster invitee.

Patrick Kivlehan-3B/OF-age 26- Kivlehan may be called upon at some time during the season as a a right-handed hitter with some versatility. He came over from Seattle.

Beginning Friday February 5, 2016 I will be bringing BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD to video on the internet. I’ll be doing a video cast with Pro Sports Broadcasting that can be viewed at prosportsbroadcasting.com, iTunes and elsewhere.

Please watch my twitter feed @BerniePleskoff for details of the new show.

Thanks so much.

That’s it. I’m done.