Total Pageviews


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pirates-Cubs NL Wild Card Pitching Preview

Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64), who have the third best record in the organization's history (and best since the World Series Champion 1909 team) take on the Chicago Cubs (97-65) who make their first postseason appearance since 2008 and attempt for their first World Series title since 1908.  This matchup of the two teams with the second and third best records in MLB is the best postseason matchup since the 103-win Yankees took on the 97-win Angels in the 2009 ALCS, and is sure to be a highly rated affair.  Many outlets are making their postseason picks, but let's take a quick look at how the two teams' pitching compares ahead of tonight's likely pitching duel.

Starting Pitchers: Cubs' Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA) vs.  Pirates' Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60 ERA)

Advantage: Cubs

Jake Arrieta has followed up his 2014 break-out season with a year that has flat-out stunned everyone.  After four seasons with the Orioles and a combined 5.46 ERA, Arrieta was traded to the Cubs during the 2013 season and immediately began to improve.  The Cubs were able to get Arrieta to throw his slider more frequently, and coupled with a hard fastball, Arrieta's results improved drastically.  With a focus on the new repetoire and a greater feel for pitching, the Cubs' ace has become arguably the best pitcher in baseball at age 29.  

Gerrit Cole, 2011's first overall pick has emerged as the Pirates bona fide ace, throwing 208 innings with a 1.09 WHIP and 202 strikeouts.  Cole has similar home and road splits, with a better home winning percentage and WHIP, bit worse ERA.  He is also a pitcher that relies heavily on a fastball-slider combination and does so to great effect.  Cole has been great in four starts against the Cubs this year, with a 2.13 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.

While Gerrit Cole has been great against the Cubs, Jake Arrieta has been even better against the Pirates.  In five starts against the Pirates, Arrieta has pitched to a 0.75 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 36 innings.  The Pirates have not had any success against Arrieta this year and it is difficult to imagine them having much success against him tonight, but yet again it was tough to see the Pirates hitting well against Johnny Cueto in 2013.


Advantage: Pirates

The pitching staffs are set for the wild-card game and they are designed to help win this crucial one game playoff.  The Cubs and Pirates have nearly identical bullpens, with 2 lefties in each, solid middle relief and dominant back-end pitchers.  Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop have been quite successful as the seventh and eight inning guys for the Cubs, with ERA's in the low 3's and strikeout rates over 10 per nine innings.  Hector Rondon has been one of the best closers in baseball this year, with a 3.17 ERA, low walk and home run rates, and a high strikeout rate.  The Pirates, meanwhile, have Joakim Soria and Tony Watson as the set-up men for Mark Melancon.  Soria and Watson are both capable of closing out games, have dominant stuff and have been incredibly successful in their careers.  Melancon has emerged as one of the best if not the best closer in baseball, leading the league in saves this year.  While not having overwhelming stuff, he hits his spots well and has a great feel for pitching.  Although these bullpens on paper are nearly even, having home field advantage should give the Pirates a slight advantage in this game.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What to Expect with September Call-ups

          For years, September call-ups for the Pirates essentially meant that the team would begin tryouts for the following season, but over the past four years, September has been meaningful for the organization, and as such, the roster expansion in September has been used to add valuable pieces that otherwise would have been unable to fit on the Pirates roster.  Last year, eight players got the call to the majors from AAA Indianapolis, and I would expect a similar number this year.  Typically, players are called up who are already on the 40-man roster, but in some cases a player is added to the 40-man roster in order to be called up to the majors in September.  With that said, the most likely candidates to come from the 40-man roster are LHP Bobby LaFromboise, RHP Rob Scahill, C Tony Sanchez, 1B/RF Corey Hart and OF Jaff Decker.  

          LaFromboise was claimed by the Pirates from the San Diego Padres last August and was a September call-up last September.  He was used sparingly as a lefty specialist and totaled 3.2 innings, allowing 1 run, 3 hits, no walks and 4 strikeouts.  LaFromboise did not make the opening day roster this season, and although he was called up twice, once in May and again at the end of July, he made only one appearance, pitching an inning, allowing 1 hit, no runs, no walks and a strikeout.  The only other time the 29-year old was in the major leagues was briefly in 2013 for the Seattle Mariners, were he pitched  10.2 innings with a 5.91 ERA.  LaFromboise has pitched consistently well in the minor leagues and has been one of his best seasons.  On the year he has pitched 53 innings, has a 2.72 ERA, with a WHIP of 1.09 to go along with 50 strikeouts.  He would look to be a very solid option against lefties in a similar role that Antonio Bastardo has played this year and could challenge to take over that spot for next season.  

          Rob Scahill is currently on a rehab assignment in AAA Indianapolis and has been quite successful in his brief time there.  In 8.2 innings, Scahill has pitched to a 2.08 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP.  Before being sidelined by injury, Scahill had pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 26 innings for the Major League ball club.  He will be a good relief depth option in the middle innings for the Pirates once he comes off of the DL in September.

          Tony Sanchez has taken a bit of a roller coaster ride for the organization since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Boston College.  His development was stunted by injuries and under performance, and now he is a 27-year old stuck in a time share with new Pirates-catcher-of-the future Elias Diaz.  Diaz and Sanchez have posted similar offensive numbers this season, but Diaz is considered to be the superior defender and is 3.5 years younger as well.  Diaz would be a better option for the Pirates to call-up to be the third catcher, but he does not provide enough value to be worth starting his service clock at the moment.  Sanchez has been a decent hitting catcher during his time in the bigs, but has lacked the defensive fortitude to be a solid backup catcher for a contender.  With that said, he can provide the Pirates with some catching depth and capable pinch hitting during the month of September.

          Corey Hart is a player that is a sad case of aging in baseball.  Once a star in Milwaukee, he has fallen on tough times as he has entered into his age-33 season, with injuries playing a major role in his downfall.  He struggled mightily in his time with the Pirates early in the season and has tried a couple times to make it back to the team, but has hit a few roadblocks.  Currently on a minor league rehab assignment with AAA Indianapolis, he has continued to struggle at the plate and this makes it unclear whether or not he will be granted the opportunity to return to the Majors this season or even if this may force him into retirement.  Even if he is able to make it back to the Major League club this season, he will find next to no playing time with first base and right field locked down for the foreseeable future.

          Finally, Jaff Decker is someone who will most likely be called up when the rosters expand.  Decker is still young at only 25 years old and although he has struggled in his brief exposure in the MLB, he has been largely successful in AAA, although his numbers have dropped off since last being sent down.  He is a lefty bat that can play well as a legitimate backup outfielder, something the Pirates have lacked for the majority of the season.  

          Of the position players not on the 40-man roster, the two most exciting players to watch for to come up are Travis Snider and Keon Broxton.  Snider is a familiar face to Pirates fans and had his best season last year for the Pirates, playing to a 1.6 fWAR as a part-time player.  He underperformed this year in Baltimore, but has been on fire for the Indianapolis Indians since his return to the organization, with an OPS over 1.000.  Snider should be able to take over the role as the Pirates' fourth outfielder, something that I believe should happen now in order for him to be on the Pirates playoff roster in place of Sean Rodriguez, but that is looking to be unlikely at this time.  Nonetheless, Snider should be a valuable bench piece in the stretch run in September.

          Keon Broxton is someone who is not on too many peoples' radars at this time, but a player that I would like to see the Pirates add in September.  He is a 25 year old righty outfielder that, between Altoona and Indianapolis this year has a .794 OPS to go along with 38 stolen bases and good defense in Center Field.  While other players like Elias Diaz and Alen Hanson look to have a solid chance of starting in Pittsburgh in the future, Keon Broxton is blocked by the Pirates' dream trio.  Broxton would have the opportunity to be showcased as a MLB-ready player right now to potential suitors who may have more space to add him to their rosters, while also helping the Pirates right now as a valuable backup outfielder and pinch hitter/runner.

          On the pitching side, Radhamez Liz and Tyler Glasnow are the two players who have the potential to help the Pirates in their playoff push.  Liz has been absolutely dominant since transitioning to a starter, with a 1.44 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 61.1 innings.  He could be a great pitching depth option as well as a dominant reliever if he can carry his performance over to the bullpen.

          Finally, the most intriguing, albeit unlikely wild card option of all is Tyler Glasnow.  Glasgow has dominated at every level of the minor leagues and is now putting up a sub-1 ERA in AAA.  The one catch to this is his notoriously fluctuating command.  He has the tendency to come unraveled and walk a slew of batters, but when he has everything under control (pun intended), he is flat out unhittable with a mid to upper-90's fastball and a wipe out breaking ball.  If the Pirates roll the dice and bring him up, he could step into the rotation and have flashes of brilliance and flashes of Charlie Morton meltdowns.  The Pirates could also easily slot him into the bullpen as a situational shutdown reliever of sorts.  Either way, he could be the wild card that could help the Pirates beat out the Cardinals.  Realistically, I do not see the Pirates bringing up Tyler Glasnow and do not think that they should, as the potential value he could bring is most likely not worth the service time and limited exposure he would get in the Majors, as well as the possible "rushing him to the majors" that could set back his development.  However, if called up before September 1st and thus eligible to make the postseason roster, that is a move that I would have to consider making if I were Neal Huntington. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The 21 Most Valuable Players of the Clint Hurdle Era

Yesterday I posted my "20 Least Valuable Players of the Clint Hurdle Era", and today I will follow that up with this "21 Most Valuable Players of the Clint Hurdle Era".  As a reminder, Clint Hurdle was hired as manager to begin the 2011 season, so the Hurdle era is from 2011 until now.  The rankings of this article are a little different than those of the "Least Valuable Players" article in the sense that they are fully based on the value that the player has brought to the team over the entire era, not just how good of a player they are for an individual season.  Tenure and longevity are very important to the rankings, so players who have been with the team the longest are going to receive a more favorable ranking.  Once again, I'm not going to go into more advanced stats in this article, as it is meant to be more of a fun post rather than an in-depth analysis.  For each player, I'll provide the WAR they have put up over the Hurdle era, as well as their highest WAR (high WAR) in a season, and numbers before 2011 are not included. These numbers are as of August 18th.

I thought 21 would be a good number of players to put on this list in honor of the most valuable player in Pirates history, Roberto Clemente.  This list will be done in countdown style, with the most valuable player coming last on the list.  Enjoy!

21.) Garrett Jones
WAR: 1.9
High WAR: 1.6 in 2012
Jones played 437 games for the Pirates across three years under Clint Hurdle mainly in a platoon situation, providing a power bat against righties.  Overall he hit 58 home runs from 2011-2013, and had his best season in 2012 when he batted .274 with 27 home runs.  He was never quite able to duplicate the success of his rookie season in 2009, but Jones offered a solid left handed bat for the Pirates during his tenure.

20.) Jeff Locke
WAR: 0.4
High WAR: 1.1 in 2013
It wasn't too long ago that a player with Locke's stats would have been seen as the ace of the Pirates pitching staff.  Although Locke has definitely seen his share of struggles, he has in reality been a solid starting pitcher for the Pirates.  He's been a mainstay in the rotation since the start of 2013, putting up an ERA of 3.88 over 427 innings.  That includes two extremely strong half seasons, including the 2013 season when he was an All-Star, showing the he has the ability to be a very strong major league pitcher.  However, we all know that he can get lit up at times when he isn't locating his pitches, but overall since 2011 he has pitched 478 innings over 86 games (84 starts), and has had two sub-4 ERA seasons as a major league starter.  His WAR number is brought down because of a combined -0.6 WAR in 2011/2012, but at the end of the day, Jeff Locke has actually been surprisingly valuable to the Pirates.

19.) Jared Hughes
WAR: 2.3
High WAR: 0.9+ in 2015
Believe it or not, Hughes has been with the Pirates during every season of the Hurdle era, pitching in 228 games over five seasons.  During those five seasons, he has put up three strong years compared to two average to below average years.  He is an extreme ground ball pitcher, with a 61.2% ground ball rate over that timespan, and has definitely benefitted from the Pirates use of defensive shifts.  Hughes has a 2.08 ERA combined over 2014 and 2015, and he adds a lot of value by looking pretty damn intimidating on the mound.

18.) Jeff Karstens
WAR: 3.5
High WAR: 2.5 in 2011
It seems to me that the performance of Jeff Karstens in the Pirates rotation was somewhat overlooked, but he was the best starting pitcher the Pirates had in Hurdle's first season.  That year, he posted a 3.38 ERA and a 2.5 WAR, a number that is pretty solid for a starting pitcher.  He only pitched in 49 games, including 41 starts, under Clint Hurdle, but he displayed great command in his 253 innings with a 1.71 BB/9 rate.  He was an underrated and dependable starter for Clint Hurdle over his first two years as the Pirates manager.

17.) Francisco Cervelli
WAR: 2.1 
High WAR: 2.1+ in 2015
Cervelli had a tough job of following Russell Martin as the Pirates starting catcher, but he has thrived in the starting role.  In his first 93 games as a Bucco, Cervelli has posted a .307 average and an .808 OPS while providing solid defensive value behind the plate.  He has worked extremely well with the pitching staff, and is the huge energy guy that every team needs.  If Cervelli wasn't in only his first season with the Pirates, he would be much higher on this list.

16.) Jung Ho Kang
WAR: 3.5
High WAR: 3.5+ in 2015
Kang and Cervelli can be interchangeable in these spots, but Kang had a significantly higher WAR and has played many different roles, so he got the advantage in the rankings.  Kang put up huge numbers in the KBO, but was the first player to make the transition from the Korean league into the MLB.  There were a lot of questions on how Kang's performance would translate to the MLB, but do you know who wasn't worried about those questions?  Jung Ho Kang.  He has responded by putting up a line of .285/.356/.444 in his first 100 games, with 10 home runs and an OPS+ of 121.  He's done this while filling in and playing strong defense at third base and shortstop, wining NL Rookie of the Month in July and being a Rookie of the Year candidate.  He is truly paving the way for other KBO players to have the chance to play this great game of baseball that brings cultures together across the world.

15.) Jordy Mercer
WAR: 4.9
High WAR: 2.8 in 2014
There was a time in Mercer's career where nobody really knew if he was on the major league team or not.  I'm referring to his rookie season when he was on the major league team, but he played so scarcely that it was easy to forget he was on the team.  However, he got the chance to be the starter for half the season in 2013, and he took full advantage of it by batting .285 with a .772 OPS that season, good for a 117 OPS+.  The Pirates have stuck with him as the starting shortstop since then despite very poor starts to the last two seasons offensively.  Nowadays, most of Mercer's value comes from his vastly improved defense, which grades out as well above average.

14.) Jason Grilli
WAR: 2.3
High WAR: 0.9 in 2011/2013
Grilli spent parts of four seasons with the Pirates, including about a season and a half as the team's closer.  Grilli earned an All-Star nod in that role in 2013, a year where he posted a 1.97 FIP.  From 2011-2013, Grilli was a dominant late inning reliever, striking out 12.4 batters per nine innings while giving the Pirates great value in their first real playoff run in 2013.  Overall, he had 47 saves for the Pirates before being traded for Ernesto Frieri after struggling in 2014.

13.) Joel Hanrahan
WAR: 3.7
High WAR: 2.5 in 2011
Despite playing only two years under Hurdle, Hanrahan made only 35 fewer appearances than Grilli did in a Pirates uniform, and was even more dominant.  The Hammer was an All-Star in both those seasons, posting a 2.24 ERA and 76 saves as the team's closer.  He struggled with his command in 2012 and was eventually traded in that offseason to the Red Sox, but he had a 2.5 WAR as a closer in 2011, including a 203 ERA+ (100 is average).  Luckily, the Pirates received another very valuable player in the Hanrahan trade that will appear on this list.

12.) Charlie Morton
WAR: 2.5
High WAR: 1.9 in 2011
Say what you want about Morton, but he has thrown more innings for the Pirates than any other pitcher during the Clint Hurdle era by a relatively wide margin.  He has made 116 starts since 2011, posting a 3.84 ERA, including a 3.26 ERA in 20 starts in 2013.  When he's on his game, he throws a plus sinker and an above average curveball that give him the makings of a mid-rotation starter.  His stats over the last five seasons would suggest that he's not too far off that mid-rotation starter mold.

11.) Josh Harrison
WAR: 7.6
High WAR: 5.3 in 2014
Before 2014, Harrison was a bench player that brought value by playing at least average defense at multiple positions.  He had always hit very well in the minors, but the opportunity wasn't there for him to start in the majors making it seem as though he would be a career utility guy.  That changed in 2014 when he finally began to receive regular starts, and he worked himself into the starting lineup as the season continued.  He finished batting .315 and finished ninth in the NL MVP voting after posting a 5.3 WAR for the season.  He's another guy that has somewhat surprisingly been around since 2011, playing 447 games over that timespan and providing value wherever he could for the team.  He's not ranked higher on this list because he's technically only had one good year, although it was a pretty special season.

10.) Tony Watson
WAR: 6.2
High WAR: 2.5 in 2014
Like Hughes and Harrison, Watson debuted with the team in 2011 and has been with them every year since then.  Unlike Hughes and Harrison, Watson provided solid value in every year of his career with a 2.57 ERA spanning 311 games with an ERA+ of 143.  He was most dominant in his 2014 All-Star season when he posted a 222 ERA+ in a league-leading 78 appearances.  In his career, he has a 1.03 WHIP and hitters have a combined .598 OPS against him, including a .555 OPS against lefties.

9.) Mark Melancon
WAR: 6.4
High WAR: 2.4 in 2014
Out of all the relievers that have pitched for the Pirates since 2011, Melancon has been the best.  He's been a two time All-Star in 2013 and 2015 and has posted an absurd 223 ERA+ in 201 games with the team.  He's recorded the most saves of any Pirates closer over the Hurdle era at 86, which ranks him fifth all-time in Pirates history.  He's had a 5.81 K/BB ratio as a member of the Pirates, an 0.94 WHIP, and the near assurance that any time he comes in for the save, he's going to get the save (please forget last night).

8.) Pedro Alvarez
WAR: 4.6
High WAR: 3.3 in 2013
If there's been a more polarizing Pirate over the Hurdle era, I haven't seen him.  Most fans have supported Alvarez throughout his career because of his potential to be one of the best hitters in the league during any given month.  We've seen that over the past month, as he's posted a .347/.382/.681 batting line with a 1.062 OPS and seven home runs in 76 plate appearances.  That has brought him up to a .785 OPS on the year, making this second best offensive season in terms of that stat.  There are players that are behind Alvarez on this list that have higher WARs, but the fact is that outside of Andrew McCutchen nobody has carried the team like Pedro Alvarez has done for extended periods of time throughout his career.  He's played six years in the major leagues and has posted only one below average hitting season, which was his second year when many players struggle with the league adjusting to them.  While Pedro never fully lived up to his potential, he has provided game changing power to the team that no other player has done, and I guarantee most pitchers are not comfortable with him at the plate.  He's led the team in home runs with 107 over the Hurdle era, led the NL in home runs in 2013, has played in 605 games, and was a Silver Slugger and All-Star in 2013.  A lot of people, including the Pirates management, wanted to see Pedro traded this season, but give the man credit when its due.

7.) Gerrit Cole
WAR: 5.7
High WAR: 3.2+ in 2015
The Pirates have not had a true, bona fide ace since the early 1990's, but it looks like they finally have one in 2011 number one overall pick Gerrit Cole.  Although some recent struggles have probably taken him out of the Cy Young race, he was looking like one of the best pitchers in the MLB this year, earning his first All-Star appearance and still being tied for the league lead in Wins.  The Pirates can't really ask for much more than his 3.13 ERA in his first 65 career starts, and just like he did in his rookie year in 2013, the Pirates will turn to him to lead the pitching staff in the final six weeks of the season heading into the playoffs.

6.) Francisco Liriano
WAR: 7.1 
High WAR: 3.0 in 2013
Liriano has probably put up the best numbers of any Pirates starter during the Hurdle era, with a 3.25 ERA in 78 starts over the last three seasons.  Before Gerrit Cole this season, Liriano was the ace that the Pirates were looking for to match up with the top starters for other playoff teams and for the most part, Liriano has done that job.  He came over as somewhat of a reclamation project, and has turned into a true number two starter for the Pirates that has the ability to pitch like a number one starter on any day.  I believe that when his command is working well and he's at his best, Liriano has three plus pitches in his fastball, slider, and changeup that make him a better pitcher than Gerrit Cole at his best.  He has struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings for the Pirates with a 7.2 H/9 rate, and finished 9th in the Cy Young voting in 2013.

5.) A.J. Burnett
WAR: 6.3
High WAR: 2.3+ in 2015
Burnett's impact and value on the team can't fully be measured by statistics, even though his stats are very good.  It was a big deal when the Pirates acquired the then struggling Burnett from the Yankees for two low level prospects prior to the 2012 season, with the team hoping he could regain the stuff that made him worth a five year, $82.5 million with the Yankees prior to the 2009 season.  He's surely surpassed all expectations that anyone could have had for him for the Pirates, with a 3.32 ERA in 82 starts and plenty of strikeouts, including 209 in 2013.  In what he has repeatedly said to be his last season, he earned his first All-Star bid after starting the season with a 2.11 ERA in 18 starts during the first half.  Most importantly, he helped to revitalize the Pittsburgh Pirates fan base and brought energy and leadership to a team that badly needed that from a player.  When he received a video tribute when he wasn't even on the team anymore last season, that showed how important he was to the team.

4.) Neil Walker
WAR: 13.9
High WAR: 3.9 in 2013
While the Pittsburgh Kid has never been an All-Star or an MVP caliber player, he's surely been valuable to the Pirates.  Despite battling injuries, Walker has put up the third highest WAR and has been one of two position players that has been a starter throughout the Hurdle era.  He's been an above average major league hitter in each of the five years under Hurdle according to his OPS+ numbers, playing in 666 games as one of the top offensive second baseman in the majors over that time span.  He won the Silver Slugger in 2014 and has been a fan favorite in Pittsburgh since 2010 when he officially became the team's starting second baseman.

3.) Russell Martin
WAR: 9.7 
High WAR: 5.5 in 2014
If you read my "Least Valuable Players" list, you would know that Martin is following the least valuable player at catcher during the Hurdle era.  He worked extremely well with the pitching staff, provided a massive upgrade defensively behind the plate, and did a solid job with his bat.  He caught 39.5% of runners compared to 6% by Rod Barajas the year before Martin came to the team, and posted a .402 OBP in 2014.  He finished in the top 25 in MVP voting in both his years with the team, and was a big reason in the development of some of the pitchers that he caught in his two years with the team.

2.) Starling Marte
WAR: 14.9
High WAR: 5.4 in 2013
This seems like it may be a little high for Marte, but this is already his fourth year in the majors and he has put up the second highest WAR of any player during the Hurdle era.  He's been an above average major league hitter in each of his four years, including a 2013 season when he put up at least ten doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases.  He's the best defender on the team and one of the best defensive left fielders in the majors, with great speed, range, and a canon for an arm.  With the ability to play Gold Glove caliber defense along with the bat to hit first, second, third, or fifth in any major league lineup, he is an extremely valuable asset.

1.) Andrew McCutchen
WAR: 31.2
High WAR: 8.1 in 2013
Who else could it be?  McCutchen has helped bring the Pittsburgh Pirates back to the national stage as one of the most exciting players in the league during Hurdle's tenure.  He's had three consecutive top 3 MVP finalist seasons, including winning the NL MVP in 2013, and has been an All-Star in each of the last five seasons.  He's also won three straight silver sluggers, played in a team high 731 games, had an OBP of .394, and has posted four straight seasons with a WAR of at least 5.7 heading into 2015.  But enough about his awards and stats.  Cutch has helped to make baseball fun again in Pittsburgh.  He has helped bring excitement to a fan base that hadn't had much for two decades.  He has been one of the best players in the majors since his debut, and is an excellent face of the franchise for one of the most historic teams in major league history.  He's already one of the best players in Pirates history, and the team, city, and fans couldn't ask for a better representative for the city of Pittsburgh.

Any questions, comments, or suggestions can be sent to me on twitter @MicMaw, or in the comment section below.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The 20 Least Valuable Players of the Clint Hurdle Era

The Clint Hurdle era, 2011-present, has been very successful for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the team has qualified for the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and is very likely to make it this year.   Over the now almost five seasons Hurdle has been the team's manager, many players have either helped or hurt the team's chances to win. Over this article and the next, I'm going to be ranking players on their value to the team, today focusing on the 20 players who have offered the least value.

To start things off, I want to explain that the rankings in this article will be decided upon differently than those in the "most valuable players" article, as it is somewhat difficult to say who really has offered the least value.  Basically, this article is really "The 20 Worst Players of the Clint Hurdle Era", but saying "least valuable" sounds a little less harsh.  The idea for this article came to me when I saw Sean Rodriguez ground into yet another double play during a big moment in the game against the Diamondbacks on Monday, making me wonder where he would rank among the worst players during Clint Hurdle's tenure.  So, I decided to look back at every player who has played for the Pirates since 2011, and rank them based on how poorly they performed.  While this article is largely based in statistical performance, it is still subjective.  For example, some players will rank higher on the list than others because they had larger expectations placed on them heading into their time with the Pirates, even though they may have actually had a higher performance level.  I also am choosing to keep this article relatively simplistic, focusing a lot on WAR, OPS, OPS+, ERA, ERA+, and other non-advanced stats. There will be 21 players on the most valuable list in honor of the value that Roberto Clemente offered to the team, and 20 on this list because I don't want Clemente's number to be associated with anything negative.  To be clear, number 1 on this list is the worst player the Pirates have had since 2011, and number 20 is the 20th worst player in that time frame.  Since I prefer countdowns, let's start with number 20.
(The Wins Above Replacement [WAR] number provided is the player's WAR with the Pirates since 2011.)

20.) Travis Ishikawa
WAR: -0.4
While Ishikawa hasn't been horrible in his time with the Pirates, he hasn't been anywhere near what can be considered "good".  In 97 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015, he has put up only a .645 OPS despite being the opening day starting first baseman in 2014.  He has also been underwhelming defensively, and is the third first baseman on the currents Pirates roster.  He hasn't been successful, but who cares?  He hit a walk off home run to go to the World Series in 2014 and ended up with a ring.  No matter how poorly he performs, he will always be remembered for that moment.

19.) Chad Qualls
WAR: -0.3
Quals wasn't originally on this list, but when I chose to expand it to 20 guys, he made the cut.  He had a 6.79 ERA over 13.2 innings, but actually had very good secondary numbers, including a 2.66 FIP.  Still, allowing 10 runs in 13.2 innings after coming over in a trade with the Yankees for Casey McGehee, expectations were a little higher than his performance given his history.

18.) Andrew Lambo
WAR: -0.6
Lambo wasn't really doing too poorly prior to the 2015 season, but a 1 for 25 start to the year before hitting the DL with plantar fasciitis has really hurt his career numbers.  He's always had the upside of an average MLB hitter, but I'd be very surprised if he receives too many chances moving forward.

17.) Matt Hague
WAR: -0.4
For some reason, I feel kind of bad putting Hague on this list, but he had a .513 OPS over 76 plate appearances during his time with the Pirates.  Hague exemplifies the notion that Spring Training numbers really don't matter that much.

16.) Corey Hart
WAR: -0.5
Hart was a very good hitter during his time with the Brewers, but injuries have derailed his career in the recent years.  He had a .597 OPS before an extended and ongoing DL trip, including a .417 OPS against lefties.  Considering he was brought in this year to platoon with Pedro Alvarez to face lefties, he has been extremely disappointing.

15.) Brandon Wood
WAR: -0.6
Wood was brought in during Hurdle's first year in hopes he would finally show the talent that made him a top shortstop prospect.  He received a good amount of playing time, but only put up a .625 OPS in 257 plate appearances with the team that year, and hasn't played in the majors since.

14.) Xavier Paul
WAR: 0.1
Paul had a .642 OPS in 251 plate appearances during 2011, which was the only year he spent with the Pirates.  While that isn't terrible, Paul kind of set the precedence for Hurdle's late game defensive replacements with players that don't offer much if anything with the bat.  What made this one confusing was that Paul wasn't necessarily a good defender with the team.

13.) Chase D'arnaud
WAR: -0.5
D'arnaud was at one point the "shortstop of the future" for the Pirates, but never came near that potential.  He received 157 plate appearances in parts of three seasons with the team, putting up a .507 OPS and an OPS+ of 42.

12.) Ryan Ludwick
WAR: -0.1
Ludwick, along with Derrek Lee, signified a change in the Pirates organization in 2011 as this was the first time in years that the team was labeled as a "buyer" rather than a "seller" at the trade deadline.  Naturally, there were high expectations placed on Ludwick because Pirates fans weren't used to new trade additions that were established major leaguers. Ludwick didn't live up to those expectations, hitting for a .671 OPS in 133 plate appearances, including a weak .330 slugging percentage and very poor defense in left field.  However, he had a .674 OPS with the Padres before the trade, so his performance was consistent throughout the year, but a disappointment to Pirates fans.

11.) Kevin Correia
WAR: 0.2
We may forget, but Correia was actually an All Star in 2011 after receiving a lot of run support that allowed him to be near the top of the NL leader board in wins before the break.  He was 11-7 with an ERA of 4.01 before the break, but in seven starts after the break, his ERA was 7.23.  Overall, he had a 4.49 ERA in two seasons with the team, but Pirates fans were never comfortable with Correia on the mound.

10.) John McDonald
WAR: -0.3
McDonald didn't receive much playing time with the Pirates, but in the 16 games he played with the team he batted .065 with a .268 OPS in 35 plate appearances.  It's hard to imagine a team that won 94 games once had John McDonald and Brandon Inge on the same bench.  Cringe worthy.

9.) Lyle Overbay
WAR: -0.5
Most of the players that have been on the list to this point have been bench/bullpen guys or players brought in at the trade deadline, but Overbay was the starting first baseman on Opening Day.  That makes his performance even worse, as a .227 average and .649 OPS while playing below average defense should be concerning for a bench player, let alone someone that received 391 plate appearances before being released.

8.) Erik Bedard
WAR: -0.6
Bedard was a failed reclamation project, with a 5.01 ERA in 24 starts after a strong first couple months.  He spiraled after May, and ended the season with a 75 ERA+.  Watching his facial expressions during games, one would have never guessed that anything was going wrong.

7.) Matt Diaz
WAR: -0.6
Diaz was brought in to be an exclusive platoon partner with Garrett Jones to face lefties, and didn't necessarily succeed in that role, with a .692 OPS against lefties despite a respectable .295 average.  However, he only had a .550 OPS against righties, dropping his overall OPS to .627 to go along with poor defense.

6.) Ernesto Frieri
WAR: -0.6
Frieri was a guy who had some success as a closer in the MLB, but was struggling in 2014.  He was dealt by the Angels to the Pirates for Jason Grilli in a change of scenery deal, but had a 10.13 ERA in 14 appearances.  Frieri was extremely hittable, leading to an 11.8 H/9 rate and a 1.78 WHIP.

5.) Sean Rodriguez
WAR: -0.5
You could argue that S-Rod doesn't deserve to be this poorly ranked, but the fact is that he has played in 99 out of 116 games this season and has been horrible at the plate.  In 191 plate appearances, he has a .566 OPS, including a .293 OPS in the month of July.  He received 56 plate appearances in that month, and before the Michael Morse trade was starting at first base against lefties.  How's he doing against lefties this year you may ask?  He's batting .192 with a .576 OPS while Pedro Alvarez is batting .295 against lefties with a .712 OPS.  Rodriguez is on the team because he can play multiple positions, but he is not much above average at first, there will soon be no need for him to play at other infield positions, and he has played poor defense in the outfield this year.  Granted, he has not committed an error yet this year, but every time he comes to the plate something bad seems to happen.  In case you haven't noticed, I'm not the president of the S-Rod fan club.

4.) Jonathan Sanchez
WAR: -0.9
It's easy to forget that Jonathan Sanchez was on the team in 2013, but he was a member of the Pirates rotation to start the season and is tied for the lead for lowest WAR during the Hurdle ERA.  In five games, including four starts, Sanchez had an 11.85 ERA due to poor command/control.  His WHIP in his 13.2 innings pitched?  2.42, allowing 25 hits over those 13.2 innings.  Thankfully the team cut ties with him early in the season.

3.) Michael Martinez
WAR: -0.3
I don't mean to sound too harsh here, but in terms of ability Martinez is the worst player on this list.  He never hit well in the minors and wasn't an exceptional defender, and his lack of ability showed at the major league level with the Pirates.  He batted .128 with a .363 OPS in 44 plate appearances with only one extra base hit, a double, leading to a .154 slugging percentage.  Here's a reminder that 100 is an average OPS+.  His OPS+ was 5.

2.) Brandon Inge
WAR: -0.5
Brandon Inge was a guy that just seemed to be on the team for far too long in 2013, making it all the way to August 1st before being released after being on the team since opening day.  He had a .442 OPS in 110 plate appearances, including a .181 average and only one home run despite having decent power in his career.  His WAR would be worse than that -0.5 number had he not played solid defense when he curiously received playing time.  I would say "Oh Brandon Inge, we hardly knew ye", but I think we knew him a little too well.

And the worst player of the Clint Hurdle era.....

1.) Rod Barajas
WAR: -0.9
Pirates fans are now accustomed to having great catchers, with Francisco Cervelli and Russell Martin providing great value on both offense and defense as starters over the last three years, with Chris Stewart joining them as a solid backup.  However, there was a time, a dark time, when the Pirates had to endure a season of incompetence behind the plate in 2012.  If you recall, the Pirates had a revolving door of catchers during the 2011 season due to injuries, and Barajas was brought in for 2012 because he was seen as a relatively durable option with some offensive upside.  While receiving the majority of starts behind the plate that year, Barajas posted a .206 average with a .625 OPS in 361 plate appearances, good for an OPS+ of 73. He did manage to hit 11 home runs but only drove in 31 runs, and while this may be hard to believe, he didn't manage to steal even one base.  The worst part of his season?  His 6% caught stealing rate.  The league average was 27% and even the slowest runners felt like Billy Hamilton against Barajas, totaling 93 stolen bases against only 6 runners caught stealing.  It was an event worth celebrating when runners were caught trying to steal.  However, Barajas may have turned out to be a good thing for the Pirates though, as he made it absolutely clear to management how important it is to have a strong defensive catcher, leading to Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli.  So to Rod Barajas, from all Pirates fans, thank you!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this list. Any questions, comments, disagreements, or suggestions can be sent to me on twitter @MicMaw, or in the comment section below.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Which Pitcher Should Fill AJ Burnett's Spot In the Rotation?

At the time of this post, the Pirates have 58 games remaining on their schedule, giving members of the starting rotation anywhere between 10-12 starts from now until the playoffs if they remain healthy.  Recently, fan favorite pitcher A.J. Burnett has gone down with a forearm injury that will put him out for an estimated four weeks.  This leaves an open spot in the five-man rotation for the at least half of those 10-12 starts, with the other four spots currently being filled by Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke.  With the Pirates currently 5.5 games back from the Cardinals in the NL Central, it will be vital for the Pirates to fill the rotation with a pitcher that can provide quality innings and be dependable enough down the stretch that team will at least still have a chance to win the division and avoid a one game playoff.
Opening the season, it looked as though the Pirates would have a lot of depth in the rotation, with top prospects Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham having the chance earn a rotation spot at some point during the season, as well as pitchers like Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler having the ability to step in for the team in case of injury.  When Charlie Morton returned to the rotation in late May, the team moved Vance Worley to the bullpen, giving the team six major league starters at their disposal.  However, the Pirates were hit hard by injuries, with Kingham and Cumpton both undergoing Tommy John Surgery, and Taillon and Sadler both likely out for the season with injuries of their own.  The Taillon injury was a particularly large blow to the Pirates, as the former number two overall pick was looking great in his return from Tommy John surgery, only to go down with an unrelated injury.  Worely was recently designated for assignment after the trade deadline acquisitions, and long story short, the rotation depth that looked so promising to start the season has been almost completely depleted.  The Pirates addressed this need in two separate moves ahead of the trade deadline, picking up Joe Blanton in a minor deal from the Royals and J.A. Happ from the Mariners in exchange for AAA pitcher Adrian Sampson, a guy who also looked like good depth after a strong start to the season.
With Burnett out for at least four weeks, who is the best option to step into the rotation and give the Pirates the quality innings they need to stay in the division race?  We look at five options for the team and what they can offer to see which pitcher would provide the most value for the Pirates.

J.A. Happ
Happ, a lefty, is the guy the Pirates are going with as of now, as he is scheduled to start Tuesday night's game against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs.  Happ has been a below average Major League pitcher since 2011, and in 2015 he has a 4.64 ERA in 21 games.  This includes 20 starts, but it is worth noting that he has slightly better FIP and xFIP numbers at 4.07 and 4.03, respectively.  In comparison, Charlie Morton's FIP and xFIP are 4.18 and 3.92, meaning Happ wouldn't necessarily be a downgrade from what's already in our rotation.  However, A.J. Burnett's numbers here are 3.07 and 3.45, and because he is the player Happ is replacing, his production does represent a sizable decrease in production for the team.  Some numbers would suggest the Happ has been slightly unlucky this year, with a decreased Left On Base (LOB) rate from his career numbers, and a .319 BABIP compared to .292 on his career.  However, while he has a solid walk rate at 2.7 BB/9, he has been very hittable this year.  His Hits/9 rate is at 10.0 and his line drive percentage is up 4.2% from his career numbers.  That being said, he's not allowing more home runs than usual, and he's keeping the ball on the ground more this year, and he will benefit from the Pirates' defensive shifts.  ZIPS has him at a 4.32 ERA for the remainder of the season, which is where I'd expect him to be given his advanced numbers.  Happ has had some success with his slider in the past couple of years, but doesn't have a real go-to pitch and lacks upside.  Basically with Happ, you know you're getting a 4.00-4.50 ERA without much upside, but he shouldn't be much worse than that.  It also helps that he is a lefty, considering the Cardinals and Cubs have some strong lefty bats in their lineups.

Joe Blanton
The Pirates got Blanton for basically nothing, but this shouldn't be considered a "why not?" move because it was followed by Vance Worley being designated for assignment when Worley probably would have been the best option of this group to take Burnett's spot in the rotation.  Blanton is a 34 year old righty that missed all of 2014 due to injury and before that hadn't been anything more than an average pitcher since he had a 3.53 ERA in 2005 as a rookie with Oakland.  Surprisingly, Blanton returned in 2015 and has been relatively decent, pitching to a 3.92 ERA in 16 games, including four starts.  He has been much stronger out of the bullpen, with a 2.88 ERA compared to a 5.30 ERA in his four starts.  His K/BB ratio has been great this year, at 8.7/1.4 per nine innings, and a relatively high H/9 rate puts his WHIP at 1.19.  His FIP and xFIP numbers indicate that he has been even better than his ERA, with those numbers being at 3.49 and 3.16.  His advanced stats are mostly around his career norms, which means there's a chance he can continue this solid level of production.  He sits around 90 MPH with his fastball and has an average repertoire, so he relies on location in order to be successful.  His ground ball rate of 46.9% this year should work well with the Pirates defense, and with the help of Ray Searage and given Blanton's history, we can expect him to be in the 3.90-4.20 range for his ERA for the remainder of the season.  However, his 5.30 ERA in his four starts is a red flag that can't be ignored, and his WHIP in those starts is 1.34 compared to 1.08 out of the bullpen.  Blanton will see the most success in a Pirates uniform out of the bullpen, as he has not been successful out of the rotation for a very long time.

Radhames Liz
Liz has had a very interesting professional career: he signed as an amateur free agent in 2003 by the Orioles out of the Dominican Republic, began his career in 2005, made his major league debut in 2007, was listed as a top 100 prospect in 2008, moved to the Padres organization in 2010, pitched in the KBO from 2011-2013, played for the Blue Jays organization in 2014, and finally was signed by the Pirates for $1 million for the 2015 season.  He began the season in the Pirates bullpen, pitching in 11 games with a 3.63 ERA, but a very high WHIP (1.73) due to control and command issues led him to be demoted to AAA.  At AAA, he has been extremely successful, mostly as a member of the Indianapolis Indians rotation.  He has posted a 1.02 ERA in 44.1 innings, with a much improved 0.97 WHIP.  He is limiting hits and while his command hasn't been great, he has lowered his BB/9 rate to 3.0, and is striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings.  Liz has always thrown hard, averaging 94.1 MPH on his fastball in his time in the majors this year, but he will only find success when he is able to locate that pitch.  MLB hitters can sit on his fastball, leading to a 32.7% line drive rate with the Pirates this year, and he doesn't have a high ground ball rate.  The best route the Pirates can take with Liz for now is to continue to allow him to refine his control as a starter in the minors, and if he can improve his mechanics enough to warrant a promotion back to the majors, he can provide a few spots starts if necessary.  He can also provide a strong arm out of the bullpen, but right now he would be too risky to throw into the major league rotation.

Chris Volstad
Volstad was seen as another reclamation project for the Pirates when they signed him in the offseason, as he was a former top 100 prospect that had success for half a season during his rookie year in 2008.  Volstad has pitched almost the entire season at the AAA level outside of two innings in the Pirates bullpen, and has seen some levels of success.  He has a 3.15 ERA in 111.1 innings to go along with a solid walk rate, but has been relatively hittable.  His 1.30 WHIP isn't great, and an extremely low home run rate suggests he may be having some luck and will be due for some regression.  He's had a high ground ball rate in his career in the majors due to using a sinking fastball as his main pitch, but that pitch has always been hittable for major leaguers.  Volstad's lack of success at the major league level has been due to the fact that he has been extremely hittable, and he hasn't done enough to show that won't be a problem if he gets a promotion.  At this point in his career, Volstad should only see starts for the Pirates if there is no other starter available.

Tyler Glasnow
Disclaimer: This option is extremely unlikely.  Glasnow is the Pirates' top prospect, and has only made one start at the AAA, where he went 5.1 innings, allowing 4 runs, 1 earned, on 9 hits while walking one batter.  Glasnow was dominant in his time at AA this season, with a 2.43 ERA in 63 innings over 12 starts.  That ERA is actually a little inflated after a start on May 17th where he was pitching with an injured ankle and allowed 5 earned runs, and his FIP was at an even better 1.96 at AA.  Throughout his minor league career, Glasnow has had very high strikeout rates and very low hit rates, and that was no different this year, with 11.7 K/9 and 5.9 H/9 rates this season.  What has been most encouraging, however, has been the decreased walk rate at 2.7 BB/9 at AA this season, as control and command of his pitches has been the main concern of his as he progressed.  We can assume that the Pirates are going to stay conservative with Glasnow as they have been with most prospects, and considering Gerrit Cole received 13 starts at the AAA level before being promoted to the majors, Glasnow will probably remain in AAA until around May-June 2016.  Still, Glasnow has made a lot of progress this year in his weaker areas, including the development of his changeup, and given that he is such a rare talent, it isn't out of the question that we see Glasnow in the majors this season.  If Glasnow were put in the major league rotation right now, we would most likely see him pitch to a 3.50-4.00 ERA, where he would look dominant in some starts and lose all his command in other starts.  We've seen guys like Jose Fernandez come up from the lower minors and be dominant from day one, so it also wouldn't be a surprise if Glasnow came up and dominated right away as well.  However, when asked about this subject GM Neal Huntington said it is very doubtful that we see Glasnow in the majors this year, which basically means he won't be in the majors this year.  That will probably be the smart choice, as Glasnow is making great progress right now and you don't want to interfere with his development.

Given this information, the best bet the Pirates have to fill their current rotation void is... J.A. Happ.  He may not be flashy, but he will deliver a predictable 4.00-4.50 ERA, with a slight chance to be better if pitching coach Ray Searage can work his magic again.  Joe Blanton has been good out of the bullpen this year and would be the second best option, but should remain in a spot where he has had success.  Liz could also provide good arm strength out of the bullpen, but is too erratic to be in the major league rotation, and Volstad is too hittable to contribute to a major league pennant race.  Tyler Glasnow could have the most success right now, but that comes with the risk of taking away from his development, which is not something that the Pirates have shown they are willing to do.  A.J. Burnett will optimistically return after four weeks, with five or six weeks being more likely, and the team will hope for the continued health of the other four members of the rotation.  Gerrit Cole would be in contention for Cy Young if Zack Greinke didn't have an inhuman 1.41 ERA, Francisco Liriano is the a true number two starter that can step up and have absolutely dominant games, and Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke have pitched to respectable 3.92 and 3.87 xFIP's, respectively.  With a solid four man rotation, the Pirates shouldn't be too negatively affected by a 4.30 or so ERA by Happ, especially if A.J. can return before the season's end.

Any questions or comments can be sent to be on twitter @micmaw, or in the comment section below.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trade Ideas For The Pirates At The Trade Deadline

It's the most exciting day of the year for baseball fans: July 31st.  The Trade Deadline.  Rumors upon rumors cause excitement (or even distress in some cases) for fans, and many of the General Managers in the majors are sitting by their phones all day after probably not sleeping much for the past week.  I'm sure this is what Pirates' GM Neal Huntington has been up to, looking for any deal to upgrade the Pirates' roster right now, as well as keeping the future intact.  With this post, I'm going to step into the GM's spot and propose 15 different deals that I would do if given the chance.  These ideas will start with trade proposals with those teams considered to be sellers, and move into those who are said to be buyers.

1) Chicago Cubs: SS Javier Baez and 1B Dan Vogelbach for SP Nick Kingham, and the Cubs choice of Tony Sanchez and Reese McGuire, and the choice of Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler.
The Cubs have an incredibly talented system, and their future lineup includes Anthony Rizzo at first, a combination of Baez, Starlin Castro, and Addison Russell at second/third/short, and Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler in the outfield.  That leaves out top prospect Arismendy Alcantara, who can play in the middle infield and the outfield.  This theoretically makes someone available, and I believe Baez is the most likely option.  The Cubs most likely have the best minor league system in the game, but they are weak in pitching and catching, and Kingham and Sanchez/McGuire give them long term solutions at those spots.  Sanchez would be able to help right away, while McGuire would come up when the Cubs' core of offensive players are reaching their prime.  Cumpton/Sadler give the Cubs a solid back end starter, with Cumpton offering more upside.  Vogelbach is a big first baseman with some power, and would most likely be blocked with Anthony Rizzo at first, and could provide the Pirates with a solid prospect at the position.  Baez would take over at shortstop for now, and the Pirates would be able to platoon Alvarez and Mercer at third, with Josh Harrison also getting starts against lefties and sharing time with Marte/Polanco in the outfield.  Or the Pirates could move Alvarez to first and have Harrison/Mercer take over at third.

2) Philadelphia Phillies: SP A.J. Burnett for OF Harold Ramirez
In order for this to happen, the Phillies would have to eat a lot of Burnett's contract and the Pirates would want Burnett to assure them he is retiring after this season so they will not have to worry about his vesting option that will likely be over $12 million.  Ramirez is a solid outfield prospect in Low-A with a great hit tool and speed, but with the strength of the Pirates current outfield and Josh Bell and Austin Meadows, Ramirez is the definition of an expendable prospect.

3) Philadelphia Phillies: 1B Ryan Howard and basically his entire contract for OF Harold Ramirez
Howard is signed through 2016 for $25 million per year, with a $23 million option for 2017 with a $10 million buyout.  If the Phillies pay about $22 million of that per year, if not more, I'd be fine with the still powerful (16 HR this year) Howard taking over the left handed part of the first base platoon.  Once again, Ramirez is expendable.

4) Colorado Rockies: SS Troy Tulowitzki for SS Alen Hanson, OF Austin Meadows, SP Nick Kingham, SS Jordy Mercer
Tulo is the best shortstop in the league, and is signed through 2021, which includes a team option for 2021.  His contract will be worth $129 million over that span, and with the track record of his health, the Rockies would have to take on some of that contract in the deal.  If they took on a good portion, Tulo is the kind of talent you sell the farm for.

5) San Diego Padres: SP Tyson Ross for OF Harold Ramirez, SP Nick Kingham, 1B/OF Andrew Lambo
Ross, who is 27 years old, has a 2.60 ERA in 23 starts this year for the Padres, with a 3.12 FIP and a 9.1 K/9 rate, and he doesn't become a free agent until 2018.  Ramirez gives them a solid outfield prospect, Kingham could step into their rotation very soon, and Lambo would be inserted in their lineup right away, a lineup that has been one of the worst in major league history.

6) Boston Red Sox: RP Andrew Miller for SP Brandon Cumpton and OF Harold Ramirez
You can really get a gage on how expendable I think Ramirez is, as he's included in another trade here.  I don't believe in trading top prospects for relievers, and I won't stray from that in this trade proposal.  Miller has been one of the best lefty relievers in the majors this year, with a 2.34 ERA in 50 appearances with a 14.7 K/9.  However, he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, so a big prospect would be too steep a price for the Pirates.  Cumpton could be a solid back end starter for the Red Sox in the future, and Ramirez could be a starter in the future.  I don't think this would be enough to get Miller, but that's all I would give up for a two month reliever rental.

7) Boston Red Sox: SP John Lackey, 3B Will Middlebrooks, and SS Deven Marrero for SS Alen Hanson, SP Nick Kingham, OF Jose Tabata, and OF Barrett Barnes
Lackey would be placed behind Liriano and Cole in the Pirates rotation, and with a 46.9% ground ball rate, he would fit nicely into the Pirates system and could improve on his 3.60 ERA.  Middlebrooks was recently a good prospect, but has struggled greatly over the past two years, with a .629 OPS in 21 games in the majors, and a .677 OPS in the minors this year in 100 at bats.  However, he is still young enough to turn it back around, and would be an infinitely times better bench option than Michael Martinez.  Hard core Pirates fans may remember Marrero as the college shortstop who couldn't hit that the Pirates were heavily tied to in the 2012 draft.  Well, it turns out he can hit a little, with a .293 average and .783 OPS across AA and AAA this season at 23 years old.  He is not as good as a prospect as Alen Hanson at short, though he is much better defensively.  Nick Kingham gives the Red Sox a potential mid rotation starter for the future with many years of control, and Tabata gives them a bench option this year, or even a starter if needed.  Barnes has a high upside in the outfield, with a chance to be a 20 HR/20 SB player in the future, but his injury history has limited him so far.  Also, the Red Sox may be hesitant to deal Lackey, as they are always in a position to win in the next season with their budget, and Lackey is only making league minimum next season due to an option that was activated after he spent significant time on the DL due to an elbow injury.

8) Houston Astros: 1B/OF Chris Carter for SP Joely Rodriguez and C Jin-De Jhang
Carter is more likely to strikeout than Pedro Alvarez, but has 21 homers this year and would be a great option off the bench, or even in the first base platoon, as he has an .872 OPS against lefties this season.  He still isn't worth much, and SP Joely Rodriguez, a member of the Pirates' 40-man roster, is struggling this season, but still has the upside of a back-end lefty starter.  Jin-De Jhang is a catcher who is struggling at high-A, but his has offensive upside and could at least be a backup in the majors if he can hit.

9) Texas Rangers: SP Yu Darvish for OF Austin Meadows, SS Alen Hanson, SP Nick Kingham, OF Harold Ramirez
This will never happen, but I saw about a month ago that the Rangers would listen on Darvish, and with three years left in his contract that total $31 million, which is ridiculously low for his value.  This is also a guy you sell the farm for, but I still would want to avoid including top prospect Tyler Glasnow in a deal.

10) Miami Marlins: 3B Colin Moran for SS Alen Hanson
This would not affect either team this year, as it is a talent for talent trade.  I'm not as big on Hanson as others are, as I'm not sure he'll hit and there are many doubts about his ability to stick at short.  Moran was drafted in 2013 as the 6th overall pick, and could move quickly enough through the system that he could immediately replace Pedro Alvarez at third when Clint Hurdle completes his goal of pushing Pedro to leave the Pirates through free agency in 2016 (or because he's a Scott Boras client, both are equally likely).

11) Tampa Bay Rays: SP David Price for SS Alen Hanson, SP Nick Kingham, and C Reese McGuire
I'm not on board for giving up a huge prospect haul for a year and two months of Price, albeit at an affordable financial cost, and in my eyes, this isn't a huge prospect loss.  Price would be the ace of the Pirates for this year and next, and would make them the favorites in the NL Central.  As I said previously, I'm not as high on Hanson, but he is still rated as a top prospect in the industry.  Kingham gives the Rays a potential 200 inning workhorse who would fit nicely in the middle of a rotation as soon as this September.  Similarly to Hanson, I'm not as high on Reese McGuire as others have been.  I wasn't high on him heading into the draft last year, and that was due to his questionable bat.  He has only a .618 OPS in Low-A this year, but he is one of the top defensive catching prospects in the minors, and that carries a lot of value in this day in age.  If the Pirates could sign Russell Martin to an extension, this trade makes even more sense.

12) Los Angeles Dodgers: OF Matt Kemp plus Cash for the Dodgers' choice of OF Josh Bell or SS Alen Hanson, and their choice of C Tony Sanchez and C Reese McGuire
Yes, I'm being serious.  Kemp is owed a huge amount of money, $107.5 million to be exact, over the next five years, and the Dodgers do not want to pay all of that for a player they seem to no longer want.  If the Pirates end up paying Kemp about $8-10 million per year, this is a deal I would like.  Heading into 2012, Kemp was considered possibly the most valuable offensive player in the majors (Trout had yet to spend a full season in the majors heading into that year), and now has a 1.049 OPS over the last month.  The Dodgers are looking to deal him, and would be willing to eat some of his contract for a player like Josh Bell or Alen Hanson.  Tony Sanchez can step into their major league lineup at least on a part time basis right away, or if they decide on McGuire, they have their potential long term answer behind the plate.  This trade would cause a problem however, as it would give the Pirates four outfield options (another reason why the Dodgers want to deal him), and a solution could be a switch to first base for Kemp.  He's obviously athletic enough for this move, and would be able to focus more on his hitting when he becomes accustomed to the position.  If the Pirates don't think this is possible, have the Dodgers eat more of Kemp's contract and send over Starling Marte instead of Bell or Hanson.  For that trade to happen, I would pay Kemp about $5-7 million a year.

13) Kansas City Royals: 3B Mike Moustakas and either 3B Hunter Dozier or SP Sean Manaea for either SP Edinson Volquez or SP Vance Worley, along with RP Jared Hughes
The Royals are looking for starting pitching, and both Volquez and Worely would be upgrades to their rotation.  Moustakas, much like Will Middlebrooks, is a former top third base prospect who has struggled at the major league level after some amount of success in their rookie seasons.  He has become expendable for the Royals, and could be a nice bench/future corner infield starting option for the Pirates.  Volquez/Worley is worth more than Moustakas right now, so the Royals would have to add a prospect, ideally one of Dozier or Manaea, both 2013 draft picks.  I would prefer Dozier, but Manaea offers a higher upside.  The Pirates would be selling high on Jared Hughes' success this season as they couldn't get a top prospect and Moustakas for just Volquez/Worley.  If the Pirates could get it done with Vin Mazzaro instead of Hughes, that would be preferable.

14) Los Angeles Angels: 1B C.J. Cron and 3B Kaleb Cowart for either SP Edinson Volquez or SP Vance Worley and 1B Gaby Sanchez
Cron would give the Pirates their long term answer at first, and the Angels would have another starting option for the pennant race.  Gaby Sanchez would step in at first or the DH spot for the Angels, with proven success against left handed pitchers.  It may take Ike Davis to get this deal done, which is still a trade that I do, as I'm a big fan of Cron.  Cowart was a top prospect, but has struggled these past two seasons in AA, with a .580 and .623 OPS, respectively.  At 22 years old, there still is time for him to turn it around and become a potential third baseman of the future for the Pirates.

15) Seattle Mariners: SP Taijuan Walker, 1B/3B D.J. Peterson, 1B Jesus Montero, 2B/SS Nick Franklin for OF Starling Marte, SS Alen Hanson, SP Brandon Cumpton, OF Barrett Barnes
This would be a huge trade, centered around Walker and Marte.  Walker is currently pitching in the majors for the Mariners, but is still one of the top prospects in the game, and could push the Pirates over the top in the NL Central with a rotation of Walker, Liriano, Cole, Morton, and Locke.  The Pirates would lose Marte and his team friendly contract, but they have Josh Harrison to take over as the starter in left until Josh Bell reaches the majors.  The Mariners are looking for an outfielder to help in the Wild Card race, and Marte could be a major boost offensively and defensively.  The rest of the deal is basically Peterson, Montero, and Franklin for Hanson, Cumpton, and Barnes, with some excess value from Marte due to his contract.  Peterson would become the Pirates' first baseman of the future, although there is a chance he could play third, Nick Franklin becomes the shortstop of the future, and the Pirates hope they can get Montero, the former #3 prospect in baseball with the Yankees, back on track.  Hanson is similar to Franklin, and both are similar in value, but Cumpton and Barnes are worth more together than Montero, making the deal fair for both sides.

Hopefully one of these trades get done!

Any questions or comments?  Send them to me on twitter @MicMaw.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 MLB Draft Board

It's draft day in the MLB, and for die hard MLB fans it's almost as exciting as a birthday, and sometimes with all the excitement, it can get out of hand (too bad he didn't sign).  But in all seriousness, draft day is extremely important for many organizations, as it is their main avenue to infuse their system with quality talent, especially with the small market clubs.  This years draft is relatively weak when compared to recent years, with not a lot of "can't miss" talent, rather a lot of raw players that could become All-Stars, but are just as likely to never become productive starters in the majors.  The strength of this draft is left handed pitching, as the highest end talent can be found with them, and high school pitching in general should be in abundance at the end of the first round.

This year I will be using the 20-80 scale to provide the upside of the player (Ceiling), and the more conservative/if things don't go as expected outlook of the player (Floor).  Many people use the 20-80 scale differently, and here is how I use it for this draft board:

80: Potential top 3-5 player in the game, once in a generation talent.
75: Perennial Cy Young/MVP candidate, top 10 starter in MLB, #1 Starter on any team,  top 3 player at their position, middle of the order bat.
70: Cy Young/MVP candidate possible in their prime, consistent All-Star, #1 starter on most teams, middle of the order bat.
65: All-Star regular, top of the rotation upside, #1-2 starter, could contend for Cy Young or MVP in career year, middle of the order bat, .300 hitter or 30 homer hitter.
60: Above average regular, #2-3 starter, 200 inning starter or elite closer, 1-5 hitter in the lineup with good average and/or power, elite defender, possible All-Star.
55: Slightly above average regular, #3-4 starter, innings eater or good closer/elite reliever.  Great defender, good hitter without defense, or leadoff/ 4-7 hitter in the lineup.
50: Average regular, #4-5 starter, good reliever, average regular with .280-.290 average or around 20 homers, or a good defender/basestealer.
45: Below average regular/bench option.  #5 starter, decent reliever.  Bottom of the order hitter or decent defender with little offense, or some power but low average.
40: Bench option/reliever on bad team.
35: AAA player that could see some major league games.
30: May reach AAA, organizational player
25: Tops out at AA, organizational player
20: Never leaves A-ball.

This is my draft board, meaning how I would rank the players and choose my draft picks if I was in the position to make the picks, and this is not a mock draft.  I provide brief scouting reports for the first 25 players, then the Ceilings and Floors for the next 25, then continue to rank the top 80 players on my board.  Enjoy!

1.) Brady Aiken--LHP--6'4--200--High School
Big lefty with fastball sitting 92-94 and touching 97 with solid command.  His curve is an easy plus pitch and his change could end up plus as well, with some saying it could be even better than his curve. Great pitchability and repeatable delivery give him the chance to be a frontline starter.
Ceiling: 70
Floor: 55
2.) Carlos Rodon--LHP--6'4--235--College Junior--NC State
Unique delivery that adds deception, throws his fastball at 91-94, touching 97 with movement.  His big breaking slider is a plus-plus pitch that could be the best breaking pitch in the draft, but his changeup is more of an average pitch right now.
Ceiling: 65
Floor: 60
3.) Tyler Kolek--RHP--6'5--250--HS
Could have the best fastball in the draft, sitting mid 90's and frequently hitting triple digits.  His curve and slider both have the chance to be above average pitches, or even plus offerings, but his changeup needs to develop.  His fastball can get straight and he can lose his command at times, but he has #1 starter potential.
Ceiling: 70
Floor: 50
4.) Alex Jackson--C--R/R--6'2--215--HS
Considered by many to be the best bat in the draft, Jackson has the ability to hit for a good average with plus power in the future.  He has a good arm behind the plate with solid pop times, but his receiving skills need work and could cause a shift to one of the corner outfield spots.  While his swing can be inconsistent, it should still be enough to provide value at any position.
Ceiling: 65
Floor: 45
5.) Grant Holmes--RHP--6'2--190--HS
Fastball that sits 92-94, but has hit the high 90's and touches 97 deep into games.  He pairs that with a plus curve in the low 80's, along with a change that could be plus, as well.  There is little to no projection left in his body, but as a polished pitcher out of high school, he has the ceiling of an ace and a relatively low floor.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 50
6.) Michael Conforto--OF--L/R--6'2--217--CJr--Oregon State
He's an on base machine with an OBP of over .500 this spring, and is seen as a relatively safe pick.  He can hit for a solid average along with above average power, but may not produce at an All-Star level.  Not much of a defender, and he will most likely end up in left field, where he has the ability to hit 30+ homers a year if everything goes right.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 55
7.) Bradley Zimmer--OF--L/R--6'4--185--CJr--San Francisco
Toolys player with nothing that currently stands out, but his swing can generate plus power in the future, and there's still room to add strength in his frame.  He's a slightly above average runner and has a good arm in the outfield.  There's a chance he could play center, but he'll probably end up in a coerner outfield spot.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 50
8.) Aaron Nola--RHP--6'2--170--CJr--LSU
Considered a safe pick as a pitcher, he has put up great stats but his upside may be limited.  Fastball sits 91-93 with good sink and plus command, and his curve and change could both be above average pitches.  He reminds me of Danny Hultzen, but a right handed version.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 55
9.) Nick Gordon--SS--L/R--6'2--170--HS
Athletic infielder who possesses good fielding ability and above average speed on the base paths, pointing to the idea that he could be a player similar to his brother Dee Gordon.  He makes solid contact, but probably won't have much power in the future.  He uses the whole field as a hitter, but his speed and defense are what put him this high on the board.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
10.) Jeff Hoffman--RHP--6'4--185--CJr--East Carolina
Underwent Tommy John Surgery in May, meaning he won't be able to pitch until mid-2015.  He had top of the rotation stuff before the injury, and many considered him to be in the mix for the top overall selection.  Fastball sits in the mid 90's with a plus curve and the potential for an above average change, as well as a good feel for pitching.
Ceiling: 65
Floor: 45
11.) Touki Toussaint--RHP--6'2--185--HS
Erratic pitcher, but when he's on he has the potential for two 70 or better pitches on the 20-80 scale.  His fastball sits in the low 90's, but he has touched 97 in the past.  His best pitch could be his mid 70's curveball, which has ridiculous break that make it difficult for both hitters and catchers, and could be the best curve in the class.  He's developing a changeup, and command can be a major problem.  He has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, but needs to develop a quality changeup and improve his command in order to reach that ceiling.
Ceiling: 65
Floor: 45
12.) Tyler Beede--RHP--6'4--215--CJr--Vanderbilt
A former first round pick in 2011, Beede has been inconsistent in both performance and draft rankings.  He has great stuff with a fastball that sits 92-94 and frequently hits the mid 90's, and a plus change and potentially above average curve, but control issues take away from the pitches.  He has the upside of a #2 starter, but there is a small chance he ends up in the bullpen if his control doesn't improve.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
13.) Max Pentecost--C--R/R--6'2--190--CJr--Kennesaw State
A great defensive catcher with good arm strength behind the plate, pairing that with solid receiving skills that make him a near lock to stay at the position.  He has a short swing that can generate solid contact, but he hasn't produced much power to this point.  He could hit for a decent average with the possibility for 15 homers, and also has surprising speed.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 50
14.) Jacob Gatewood--SS--R/R--6'5--180--HS
A big shortstop with plus raw power that could be the best in this draft class, but there are major concerns about his hit tool and swing.  He has a strong arm and the athleticism to stay at short, but it is very possible that he ends up at third or in a corner outfield spot.  His huge raw power gives him a lot of upside, but the development of the rest of his game will determine how far he can go.
Ceiling: 65
Floor: 40
15.) Sean Newcomb--LHP--6'5--240--CJr--Hartford
Fastball sits 90-94, but hits 96 frequently with an easy delivery.  He has the potential for an above average slider, with a curve and a change that should be average pitches.  His control can be poor, but a  solid four pitch mix make him a good prospect.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 50
16.) Monte Harrison--OF--S/R--6'4--180--HS
Three sport star in high school, and is also a Wide Receiver recruit for Nebraska.  He is extremely athletic with plus speed and could be a plus defender in the outfield, as well.  He's very raw at the plate, but has the ability to hit for average and above average power.  He has great arm strength, and has a very high upside as possibly the best 5-tool prospect in the draft.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 40
17.) Trea Turner--SS--R/R--6'1--170--CJr--NC State
Plus plus speed and is a safe bet to stick at short int he pros.  His bat is a question, but he has made consistent contact in the past and could even be a .280-.300 hitter in the future.  Power is not part of his game, but as a shortstop who could hit for a good average with 40 stolen base potential, he is a clear first round talent.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
18.) Derek Hill--OF--R/R--6'2--175--HS
An athletic outfielder who has plus speed, running a sub 6.4 60, along with plus defense in centerfield.  He's not projected to hit for much power, but 10-12 homers a season is reasonable.  His hit tool is also a question mark, but he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average at the professional level.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 40
19.) Kyle Schwarber--C--L/R--6'0--230--CJr--Indiana
Power is the biggest part of his game, with plus raw power but there are potential holes in his swing that could cause high strikeout rates int he future.  He could hit for average, but is more likely a .250-.260 hitter with power.  There are questions as to whether he can stay behind the plate, and he could end up in a corner outfield spot.  He needs to work on the accuracy of his throws as a catcher.
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 50
20.) Kyle Freeland--LHP--6'4--185--CJr--Evansville
Projectable body that could add velocity to his 90-93 MPH fastball that can already reach the mid 90's.  His slider can work as an above average pitch, and his change could be slightly above average, as well.  He has very good control and has drawn comparisons to Chris Sale.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
21.) Erik Fedde--RHP--6'4--170--CJr--UNLV
Underwent Tommy John Surgery in May, and won't pitch until mid 2015.  Sat 91-93 with movement, touching 96 at times before the surgery, but struggled with his command despite low walk totals.  He has a potential plus slider along with a change that could be slightly above average.  He has a projectable frame that could see in increase in velocity, but he will be 22 by the time he pitches next.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
22.) Michael Gettys--OF--R/R--6'2--205--HS
Very toolsy player with plus speed, plus fielding ability in center, and a plus-plus arm.  His bat is a huge question, as he didn't perform well this spring.  His swing is solid, allowing him to generate good power in batting practice, but he hasn't made the same consistent hard contact in games.  If he would have hit, he could have been a top 10 pick this year.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 35
23.) Brandon Finnegan--LHP--5'11-185--CJr--TCU
Dealt with a shoulder injury at the end of the year, but when healthy he was one of the top performers in the NCAA.  Fastball that sits 93-95 that can hit the upper 90's with good control, along with a potentially above average slider/slurve in the low 80's.  Could have a slightly above average change, but because of injury and size concerns and great two pitch mix, many see him as a great reliever/closer in the future.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
24.) Luis Ortiz--RHP--6'2--190--HS
A forearm injury raises a lot of concerns for scouts, but still sat 92-95 after the injury.  He has hit 97 and has the potential for an above average slider, with the makings of a curve and a change that could be average, along with average command.
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 40
25.) Ti'Quan Forbes--R/R--6'4--170--HS
Raw player that could end up above average across the board.  His swing has a hitch in it that will need to be corrected if he can tap into his potential above average power and hit tools.  He's very athletic and could stay at short, but could also be a solid fielder in the outfield.  He already possesses above average run and arm tools that could play at any position on the diamond.
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 30
26.) Derek Fisher--OF--L/R--6'3--210--CJr--Virginia
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 40
27.) A.J. Reed--1B--L/L--6'4--245--CJr--Kentucky
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 50
28.) Braxton Davidson--OF--L/L--6'3--215--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 35
29.) Justus Sheffield--LHP--6'1--180--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
30.) Scott Blewett--RHP--6'6--210--HS
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 35
31.) Jake Bukauskus--RHP--5'11--180--HS
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 45
32.) Mac Marshall--LHP--6'2--180--HS
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 40
33.) Alex Blandino--3B--L/R--6'0--190--CJr--Stanford
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 50
34.) Casey Gillaspie--1B--S/L--6'4--230--CJr--Wichita State
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
35.) Forrest Wall--2B--L/R--6'1--180--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
36.) Garrett Fulunchek--RHP--6'4--185--HS
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 30
37.) Spencer Adams--RHP--6'4--180--HS
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 40
38.) Foster Griffin--LHP--6'5--190--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 40
39.) Kodi Medeiros--LHP--6'0--185--HS
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 40
40.) Nick Burdi--RHP--6'3--220--CJr--Louisville
Ceiling: 60
Floor: 30
41.) Spencer Turnbull--RHP--6'3--195--CJr--Alabama
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 40
42.) Jacob Lindgren--LHP--6'0--190--CJr--Mississippi State
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
43.) Michael Chavis--3B--R/R--6'0--185--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
44.) Sean Reid-Foley--RHP--6'2--210--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 40
45.) Jakson Reetz--C--R/R--6'1--195--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 30
46.) Alex Verdugo--LHP--6'1--190--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
47.) Cameron Varga--RHP--6'3--205--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 40
48.) Michael Kopech--RHP--6'4--195--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
49.) Gareth Morgan--OF--R/R--6'4--210--HS
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 30
50.) Chris Ellis--RHP--6'5--205--CJr--Ole Miss
Ceiling: 55
Floor: 45
51.) Mike Papi--OF--L/R--6'3--210--CJr--Virginia
52.) Marcus Wilson--OF--R/R--6'3--170--HS
53.) Keith Weisenberg--RHP--6'4--185--HS
54.) Mitch Keller--RHP--6'3--195--HS
55.) Dylan Cease--RHP--6'2--175--HS
56.) Bobby Bradley--1B--L/R--6'1--225--HS
57.) Zech Lemond--RHP--6'3--175--CJr--Rice
58.) Matt Chapman--3B--R/R--6'2--205--CJr--Cal State Fullerton
59.) Matthew Railey--OF--L/L--5'11-195--HS
60.) Dylan Davis--OF--R/R--6'0--200--CJr--Oregon State
61.) J.D. Davis--1B--R/R--6'3--215--CJr--Cal State Fullerton
62.) Matt Imhof--LHP--6'5--220--CJr--Cal Poly
63.) Luke Weaver--RHP--6'2--170--CJr--Florida State
64.) Jack Flaherty--RHP/3B--6'3--190--HS
65.) Daniel Gossett--RHP--6'1--175--CJr--Clemson
66.) Jake Stinnett--RHP--6'4--205--CSr--Maryland
67.) Milton Ramos--SS--R/R--6'2--165--HS
68.) Sam Travis--1B--R/R--6'0--205--CJr--Indiana
69.) Jaren Kendell--OF--L/R--5'10--175--HS
70.) Chase Vallot--C--R/R--6'1--205--HS
71.) Cody Reed--LHP--6'3--260--HS
72.) Bryce Montes De Oca--RHP--6'7--265--HS
73.) Carson Sands--LHP--6'3--200--HS
74.) Taylor Sparks--3B--R/R--6'4--210--CJr--UC Irvine
75.) Grant Hockin--RHP--6'3--195--HS
76.) Cole Tucker--SS--S/R--6'3--165--HS
77.) Trey Supak--RHP--6'5--210--HS
78.) Brett Graves--RHP--6'1--190--CJr--Missouri
79.) Chris Oliver--RHP--6'4--185--CJr--Arkansas
80.) Nick Howard--RHP--6'3--215--CJr--Virginia

If you would like me to go into more depth on a player, just tweet @MicMaw, and I will provide you with any info you may need.