Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Josh Bell

Josh Bell, 1B/OF, Pirates.  DOB:  8/14/1992.  B-S, T-R.  6'2", 240 lbs.  Drafted 2011 Round 2.

2016 AAA:  .295/.382/.468, 23 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 11.8 BB%, 15.3 K%, 484 PA.
2016 MLB:  .273/.368/.406, 8 2B, 3 HR, 13.8 BB%, 12.5 K%, 152 PA.

I did some video scouting of Josh Bell before the 2011 draft and was very impressed.  He's taken his time moving up the Pirates organizational ladder, but it looks like they have a very solid player to show for it.  Bell is #1 on the Pirates 1B depth chart for 2017.  As a switch-hitter, he should not have to platoon with anybody.  His calling card is extraordinary plate discipline for a big hitter which makes him more valuable in real life than in fantasy baseball.  He'll be more valuable in OBP leagues and as a CI/UT player in leagues that carry those extra roster spots.  Definitely someone to be aware of as a fantasy draft progresses, but dingers reign supreme in standard fantasy baseball settings and he probably comes up a bit short in that category for a starting 1B.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Seth Romero

Seth Romero, LHP, College(Houston).  6'3", 240 lbs.

2016: 6-4, 2.79, 94.1 IP, 28 BB, 113 K.
2017:  6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 12 K's.

Seth Romero is a portly left-hander who put up some interesting numbers last year for Univ. of Houston.  His repertoire includes a FB that goes 92-95 MPH, a slider that has the makings of a plus pitch and a changeup that he needs to develop and use more.  He's off to a great start in in his draft season which may raise his stock considerably if he can maintain it.  Concerns about the body will likely hold his stock down some.  He was suspended at the beginning of his sophomore season for poor conditioning but has looked to be in much better shape to begin his junior season.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina).
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt).
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11. Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12. Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS.
13. Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.
14.  Brendan McKay, LHP, College(Louisville).
15.  SETH ROMERO, LHP, College(Houston).
16.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
17.  Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
18.  Jacob Heatherly, LHP, HS.
19.  DL Hall, LHP, HS.
20.  Michael Gigliotti, OF, College(Lipscomb).
21.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
22.  Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
23.  Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
24.  Cole Brannen, OF, HS.
25.  Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
26.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
27.  Alexander Toral, 1B, HS.
28.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
29.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).
30.  Corbin Martin, RHP, College(Texas A&M).

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals.  DOB:  8/21/1993.  6'2", 160 lbs.  Drafted 2014 Round 1 out of Florida State.

2016 AA:  6-3, 1.40, 77.0 IP, 1.17 BB/9, 10.29 K/9.
2016 AAA:  1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 3.00 BB/9, 6.00 K/9.
2016 MLB:  1-4, 5.70, 36.1 IP, 2.97 BB/9, 11.15 K/9.

Luke Weaver was a polished college pitcher for Florida St who has moved quickly through the Cardinals farm system while posting strong K rates and minuscule walk rates.  His big problem after a big league callup in August of 2016 was the giving up the longball which had not been a particular problem in the minor leagues.  He is definitely a flyball/strikeout pitcher whose 91-94 MPH FB is most effective up in the zone.  He pairs that up with what looks like a split change that has both sink and tail which he uses as his put away pitch to both R and L handed batters.  I think the HR/FB rate will drop once he learns better sequencing to MLB batters.  He does also need to improve his breaking ball and use it more against RH batters.

He was likely ticketed for AAA until Alex Reyes went under the TJ knife.  He will now likely compete for a rotation spot with the Cardinals.  For fantasy purposes, although I believe he will lower his HR rate and thus his ERA, I would stay away in most leagues until he proves he can better keep the ball in the yard.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Cole Brannen

Cole Brannen, OF, HS(Georgia).  B-L, T-R.  6'1", 190 lbs.

Brannen is a 5 tool HS OF out of Georgia who is well known on the showcase circuit.  His best tool is speed with a 6.18 60 yd dash under his belt which is elite or plus-plus speed.  He has also been clocked at 90 MPH on an OF throw.  He has current gap power with potential for HR power as he matures, although there is not a ton of projection in the body.  His Time to Impact is an average .116 sec. which he may need to shorten up if he wants to catch up to pro fastballs.  He has a quiet, smooth swing with gap power to all fields.  He is committed to Georgia Southern but is likely signable if drafted in the first or supplemental first rounds, possibly even second round.

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DrB's Updated 2017 Draft Board:

1.  Jordan Adell, OF, HS.
2.  Mark Vientos, SS, HS.
3.  Hunter Greene, RHP, HS.
4.  Tanner Houck, RHP, College(Missouri).
5.  JB Bakauskas, RHP, College(North Carolina).
6.  Jeren Kendall, OF, College(Vanderbilt).
7.  JJ Schwarz, C, College(Florida).
8.  Alex Faedo, RHP, College(Florida).
9.  Kyle Wright, RHP, College(Vanderbilt).
10.  Alex Lange, RHP, College(LSU).
11.  Brady McConnell, SS, HS.
12.  Royce Lewis, SS/OF, HS.
13.  Trevor Rogers, LHP, HS.
14.  Alex Scherff, RHP, HS.
15. Hans Crouse, RHP, HS.
16. Jacob Heatherly, LHP, HS.
17.  DL Hall, LHP, HS.
18.  Michael Gigliotti, OF, College(Lipscomb).
19.  Calvin Mitchell, OF, HS.
20.  Conor Uselton, OF, HS.
21.  Pavin Smith, 1B, College(Virginia).
22.  Brendan McKay, LHP, Louisville.
23.  Tristan Beck, RHP, College(Stanford).
24.  COLE BRANNEN, OF, HS.
25.  Blayne Enlow, RHP, HS.
26.  Hagen Danner, RHP, HS.
27.  Alejandro Toral, 1B, HS.
28.  Colton Hock, RHP, College(Stanford).
29.  Corbin Martin, RHP, College(Texas A&M).

Spring Training Update: Thoughts on a Crowded Roster

As the Giants signed player after player long after their offseason needs appeared to be met, we commented on the difficulty in sorting out the purpose of these transactions.  Do the Giants just want bodies to put on the field when several regular players are away playing for Team USA in the WBC?  Are they genuinely trying to create competition for regular season roster spots?  Are they just being nice to guys they like by giving them a shot?  Only Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean know for sure.  The main purpose of this post is to express some things I don't want to see come out of this crowded spring training roster.

Before I get to the main point though, let me just say that the Giants have a strong track record of bringing in minor league free agents and having them make major contributions to championship teams.  Andres Torres, Gregor Blanco and Ryan Vogelsong are all names that if we did not know them, the Giants probably don't win even one championship this decade, let alone 3.  So, if the Giants want to bring in a minor league FA or two to compete for the last couple of spots on the roster, hey, something very good might come of it!  On the other hand, when those guys were brought in, there really weren't any obviously better options or even ones as good.  There were truly open spots on the rosters.  Ryan Vogelsong even started out in AAA and only came up as an injury replacement.  

So here are some things I don't want to see coming out of spring training:

1.  I do not want to see Mac Williamson optioned back to AAA.  Now, I admit Mac Williamson is not a sure thing.  He's a big guy with a big swing and he may have too much swing and miss in his game.  But Mac Williamson has potential to be something really special.  His size and athleticism make him one of a very few hitters in the organization with the potential to hit 30 or more HR's while playing half his games in AT&T Park.  Both Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean have talked about the difficulty in signing established power hitters because of the ballpark and of the need for the Giants to develop their own power from the farm system.  It is now time to back up those words with actions.  Give Mac his chance!  Yes, I understand you have to have a backup plan, but there's a guy who will be playing in Sacramento named Austin Slater who will be ready to take his chance by midseason.

2.  I do not want to see Kelby Tomlinson optioned back to AAA.  Kelby may not be too impressive looking in an uniform, and he admittedly doesn't have a lot of pop in his bat, but Kelby has proven to be as tough an out as anyone on the roster over the past 2 seasons.  If you need a pinch-hit to keep an inning alive late in the game, I can't think of anyone I'd rather see at the plate than Kelby. Plus, he can play multiple positions.  We know enough about both Kelby and the guys who are competing for the reserve IF role to know the alternatives are not going to give you significantly more than what Kelby has to offer.

3.  I do not want to see Conor Gillaspie released.  It was not just the postseason last year.  Conor Gillaspie made major contributions during the regular season too with a .262/.307/.440 slash line with 8 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR in 191 PA.  He also upped his defensive game at 3B to become an asset there.  Again, I don't see spring training performance as a legitimate reason to give away Conor's role to someone with a long enough track record to know that they are not going to be better and probably a lot worse over the course of a full season.

4.  I do not want to see Gordon Beckham win a roster spot just to humor Buster Posey and I do not want to see Aaron Hill win it for, well, for Veteran Savvy!  Jimmy Rollins?  I'm not sure where to even start.  No thank you!

So, barring injury, that sets 3 of a potential 5 non-pitching roster spots that are currently open.  Here are some things I would be OK with:

1.  Jae-Gyun Hwang wins the starting 3B job.  Hwang is a potential game-changer that I could be happy with.  The Giants obviously see something in Hwang.  If he can provide what Jung-Ho Kang gives the Pirates(hopefully without the off-field drama), then by all means, put him out there.  That could force Eduardo Nunez into Kelby Tomlinson's role and that kind of depth would not be a bad thing.  I happen to think the Giants might get more out of Nunez by trading him in that scenario, but yeah, I could live with him moving to the bench.

2.  Justin Ruggiano and Michael Morse win the 2 backup OF spots.  This would make Gorkys Hernandez the odd man out and I really like Gorkys, especially the way he plays defense in CF.  But if  Ruggiano makes it through spring training fully healthy and shows he can play CF and hits 6 dingers and the Giants want his RH bat off the bench, I'm OK with it.  Likewise, if they think they have room on the roster for Michael Morse to do nothing but PH, then I'm OK with that too.  I just don't want to see Morse or Ruggiano displace Mac from what I think should be a starting gig in LF.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe

Manuel Margot, OF, Padres.  DOB:  9/28/1994.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

2016 AAA:  .304/.351/.426, 21 2B, 12 3B, 6 HR, 30 SB, 6.4 BB%, 11.3 K%, 566 PA.
2016 MLB:  .243/.243/.405, 4 2B, 3 B, 2 SB, 0.0 BB%, 18.9 K%, 37 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .257/.298/.375, 25 2B, 9 3B, 7 HR, 27 SB, 5.2 BB%, 14.3 K%, 581 PA.

Margot can fly and he'll get a chance to fly around the basepaths with the Padres in 2017 as they are rebuilding, have no expectations and have no reason to be cautious with their baserunning.  Margot is a high contact guy with gap power.  He's a nice cheap source of SB's in deeper fantasy leagues.

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Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres.  DOB:  1/28/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 220 lbs.

2016 AAA:  .306/.336/.557, 34 2B, 5 3B, 30 HR, 5 SB, 3.9 BB%, 20.4 K%, 563 PA.
2016 MLB:  .371/.389/.800, 3 2B, 4 HR, 7.8 BB%, 13.9 K%, 36 PA.
2017 ZIPS:  .240/.278/.426, 28 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 5 SB, 4.8 BB%, 27.6 K%, 586 PA.

Hunter Renfroe is a guy a lot of Giants prospect and draft watchers wanted them to draft back in 2013. Renfroe has worked his way up the Padres system and shown impressive power in the minor leagues albeit with a lot of K's and a relatively low BB%.  He should start in RF on a rebuilding Padres team and as we all know the first step to fantasy baseball value is having a steady gig on the field.  He's probably not for guys like me who play in 10 team mixed leagues, but should be a cheap source of power in deeper leagues.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants sign Slade Heathcott

Slade Heathcott, OF.  DOB:  9/28/1990.  B-L, T-L.  6'0", 195 lbs.

2016 AAA(Yankees):  .230/.271/.310, 5 2B, 3B, 5.2 BB%, 32.0 K%, 97 PA.
2016 AAA(White Sox):  .258/.407/.366, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 18/5 BB%, 25.3 K%, 119 PA.

The Giants signed former Yankees first round draft pick Slade Heathcott for a minor league contract with a spring training invitation.  Heathcott is a tremendous athlete who can play above average D in CF, but whose bat has never really developed.  Heathcott has a history of substance and alcohol abuse problems as well as anger management issues, but reportedly is clean now with help from AA and finding religion.

Heathcott will be 4 OF's fighting for a bench role who can reasonably play CF, Gorkys Hernandez, Justin Ruggiano, Wynton Bernard and Heathcott.

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The Giants have signed Vince Coleman(yes, THAT Vince Coleman) to be a roving minor league baserunning instructor.