The Atlanta Braves right-hander Freddy Tarnok is yet another young arm in a seemingly endless arsenal of highly-rated pitching prospects. One viewing of Tarnok and three words quickly come to mind: electric, exciting, and raw.
The Boston Red Sox are trying to keep the band together. The starting pitching staff that earned the Red Sox their fourth World Series title since 2004 is now closer to remaining complete.
Free-agent RHP Nathan Eovaldi in agreement with #RedSox, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2018
Eovaldi pitched in the majors for the first time since August of 2016 this past season. The 28-year-old righty has been well-traveled in his career, being selected in the 11th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Dodgers, traded to the Marlins in the Hanley Ramirez deal, then traded to the Yankees in the Martin Prado deal, then released by the Yankees before signing on with the Tampa Bay Rays who traded him to the Red Sox at the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline for Jalen Beeks.
Got all that?
Twenty-eight teams entered the 2018 DII football championship with national title aspirations. After 15 weeks of football, just four teams remain.
The DII football championship is broken into four Super Regions with each portion of the bracket beginning with the seven teams. Three rounds of play determine each Super Region champion which moves on to the national semifinals. Three of the four teams that advanced — Valdosta State, Minnesota State and Notre Dame (OH) — were No. 1 seeds in their respective regions. The fourth — Ferris State — was the No. 2. All four teams enter Saturday undefeated.
The Atlanta Braves are having a productive Monday. In what seemed a matter of minutes after signing veteran, fan-favorite Brian McCann to replace Kurt Suzuki, the Braves bring in third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson and Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos go back their Blue Jays roots when Anthopoulos trade four players to the Oakland Athletics to land his third baseman. That turned out to be an initial success, as Donaldson won the American League MVP that same season, slashing .297/.371/.568 with 122 runs, 123 RBI, and 41 home runs.
The 32-year-old right-hander was rumored to be on the trade block for what seemed an eternity, but an injury-plagued 2018 saw him shipped to the Cleveland Indians at the deadline for a player to be named later, hardly the value of what a healthy Donaldson should command. Donaldson played 52 games last year in a very much lost season.
This is a big signing for the Braves as Donaldson has great numbers over his eight-year career, slashing .275/.367/.507 and a .874 OPS. He can find the gaps as well as launch it out of the park with 193 career doubles and 182 career home runs. He brings a veteran presence to the heart of the lineup and stability defensively at third. While he won’t win many Gold Gloves, he has a cannon of an arm having been drafted as a catcher.
It does present several big question marks for the Braves future. With Johan Camargo becoming a reliable option at third when they needed him, where does he move? Will he shift back to the super utility role, or are perhaps, Dansby Swanson’s days numbered at shortstop? Though it is just a one-year deal, does this mean the Braves don’t believe top offensive prospect Austin Riley is ready, or possibly on the move?
Stay tuned. These questions and more will be answered in the coming hot stove weeks.
Source: James Paxton has been traded to the New York Yankees.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 19, 2018
Can confirm Mariners and Yankees are in process of finalizing a deal that will send James Paxton to NY for three prospects, including top-rated RH Justus Sheffield.
— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) November 19, 2018
We took a look last week right here at Minor League Ball at why the Yankees should pursue Paxton when the rumors began. Just days later it came to fruition, with the Yankees sending their top prospect along the way.
The prized get is lefty Justus Sheffield. This past weekend, Sheffield was one of our LHP prospects we were excited about to make their MLB debut as a starter this season (read more HERE). What did we say?
Trade rumors are swirling around the Yankees and veteran starters, and you can bet that Sheffield’s name is in the mix. That doesn’t mean he will be traded, but doesn’t mean he won’t. Either way, Sheffield should make his debut as a starter in 2019 somewhere at the very least.
Sheffield came to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal and pitched a mere 2.2 innings in the big leagues out of the bullpen before heading to his third club. He dealt with some injuries early on in his career, but he has the stuff that makes him one of the top left-handed prospect in the game. He has three plus-pitches, with an electric mid-90s fastball, and while his slider and change are exciting, they are also inconsistent in command, though much improved in 2018.
Erik Swanson is also heading to the Mariners. Swanson was part of the Carlos Beltran deal and never made it to the Bronx, dealing with a few trips to the disabled list in 2018. The 25-year-old, 6’3” righty was once one of the Rangers top prospects, and still has very interesting stuff and back-of-the-rotation potential. He went 3-2 in 13 starts (14 appearances) in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a 3.86 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and a 78:14 K: BB ratio in 72.1 innings. Swanson was Rule 5 eligible and was going to have a tough time finding a spot on the Yankees 40-man but has a chance to contribute quickly in Seattle.
Dom Thompson-Williams, the last prospect in the fold, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of South Carolina. The 23-year-old centerfielder split the 2018 season between Charleston and Tampa. His 10 games in Charleston, his second brief stint there, was too easy and he quickly jumped to the Florida State League. There he slashed .290/.356/.517 with 16 doubles and 17 home runs, adding 17 stolen bases. He certainly has some nice tools across the board, but in a crowded Yankees outfield, his chances of becoming more than a fourth outfielder were slim.
Twitter’s going to blow up like Ronald Acuña winning the ROY is a shock. Nothing to see here, #ChopOn
Oh, except this one more time: pic.twitter.com/EjcX3tAUvc
— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) November 12, 2018
It was no easy task in either league as the rookie talent was plentiful in both the NL and AL in 2018. Acuña had to overcome teenage sensation Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers playoff star Walker Buehler in order to take home his first of many trophies. Ohtani went head-to-head against a couple of Yankees rookies in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres and came out ahead thanks to his abilities on the bump and at the plate.
Acuña entered the season No. 1 on the Minor League Ball top 175. He finished the season slashing .293/.366/.552 with a .917 OPS 26 doubles, 26 home runs and 16 stolen bases. If you weren’t aware of Acuña’s talents in the regular season, his memorable grand slam (in the tweet above) against fellow finalist Buehler put him on the map.
Ohtani is the first player to pitch 50 innings and hit 15 home runs since Babe Ruth did it in 1919 per ESPN. And he did both well. Minor League Ball’s No. 3 preseason prospect finished an injury-riddled campaign with 21 doubles and 22 home runs behind a .925 OPS at the plate while going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA (3.57 FIP) and a 1.61 WHIP with a 63-to-22 strikeout-to-walk mark over 51.2 innings.
Young hitters keep hitting and Peoria wins again. Good morning everyone and welcome to the Arizona Fall League Morning Roundup for Sunday, November 11.
Let’s take a look at how it went down Saturday in Arizona.
The Major League Baseball hot stove season is upon us, and the trade rumors are brewing. Recently, it was revealed that the New York Yankees are in discussions with the Seattle Mariners to obtain James Paxton.
Paxton, as most people know, is Seattle’s 30-year-old left-hander. He broke out in a big way in 2017, finally showing the potential so many felt he had. He followed that up with a solid 2018 campaign, going 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA (and an even lower 3.23 FIP), a 1.10 WHIP, and a career-high 208 strikeouts in 160.1 innings while walking just 42, or 2.36 per nine.
Last week, as I flooded your email folders and social media timelines with the unannounced return of this website, my texts, email, and direct messages also imploded. So, I decided to answer some of the questions that were asked in a blog post.
As most of you know, this is the former site of The Wayniac Nation. The thrilling, three-plus year ride that evolved from my sports rage to my loyal team of fantasy and Atlanta writers that became known as The Nation, came to an end in March of 2017 in the post, ‘Adieu, adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow: Becoming The Wayniac’.
Rolling right along, Minor League Ball continues its position by position look at prospects ready for their MLB debuts in the coming 2019 season. Today we focus our attention on the catching position. But before we begin, get caught up on those already completed:
Catcher, as most of us know, is such a hard position to project. Some catchers are defense first and can’t hit a lick, while others are all bat. It doesn’t seem that there are many impact catchers ready to make a difference in 2019, but here are a few that have our attention (as always, feel free to add more in the comments).
Murphy is the 24-year-old backstop out of Wright State that the A’s nabbed in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Just three short years later, it looks like they have a solid backstop on their hands.
Murphy entered 2018 as our own John Sickels’ No. 10 prospect on the A’s, with a very positive B- grade. Here’s why:
Age 23, third round pick in 2016 from Wright State University; hit .297/.343/.527 in 165 at-bats in High-A but slumped to .209/.288/.309 in 191 at-bats in Double-A; excellent throwing arm and a reliable defensive catcher, will get to majors on his defense alone but future will depend on the bat; flashes above-average power and will draw walks but uncertain what his batting average will look like against the best pitching, has never hit particularly well with wood; some caution with the hitting is advisable but overall I like him. ETA 2019.
So here’s the skinny. Sources, like Baseball America for example, have his arm labeled at an 80. He’s thrown out over 35 percent of base runners in his career and has allowed just 14 passed balls in 182 games behind the plate. And whatever ailed him in 2017 in the Texas League, he fixed in 2018.
Murphy slashed .288/.358/.498 with a modest 16.3 strikeout percentage and a very reasonable 8.0 walk percentage. He still hits way too many ground balls, but it seems like the power is there and he could be a 10 home run catcher at the next level. He has just eight at bats over Double-A, but with Josh Phegley the only catcher on the current 40-man roster, the job is Murphy’s for the taking.
Zack Collins, Chicago White Sox
Collins was one of the best power bats in the 2016 MLB Draft, and he homered in the College World Series almost immediately after the White Sox snagged him in the first round to prove it. He’s been a work in progress ever since but is certainly ready for a taste of the bigs on a restructuring White Sox team.
The big — he’s listed at 6’3” and 220 and looks every bit of it — left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing backstop has two tremendous positives. He has monster power that goes to all fields and he has incredible plate patience that pays off in walks and in waiting for the right pitch to drive. Last season he may have struck out 158 times, but he walked 101, 24 better than his 2017 career-best. Despite the contact concerns, Collins still got on base at a .382 lick, so there is definitely value there.
Along with perfecting his contact skills, Collins, as most big catchers do, is still honing his craft behind the plate. His footwork is much improved and he has a cannon, albeit somewhat inconsistent. If he continues to work on framing his pitches, he could very well be a viable backstop for years to come.
Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ruiz is a bit of a stretch, as almost every publication feels his ETA is 2020. That’s fair, considering the switch-hitting catcher is still a mere 20 years of age. But with only Austin Barnes on the 25-man and THE Kyle Farmer and Rocky Gale as the backups on the 40-man, well, why not?
The Dodgers have never been shy about playing their young prospects, and if injuries strike, Ruiz could at least get a quick cup of coffee in 2019. Here’s why Ruiz is so special. The Dodgers inked him as a defensive-first catcher… and he has been a solid hitter with nice speed. And the defense hasn’t suffered at all.
You can look at the fact that Ruiz has just 23 home runs in his career, but 18 have come since his July 2017 promotion to the California League. He has already shown an ability to make contact, and now his power is clearly developing. His batting average struggled this season, but he did show the most power of his young career as a 20-year-old in Double-A. He’s only thrown out 26 percent of base runners in his career, but he doesn’t make many mistakes with solid blocking skills and good mechanics behind the plate.
The Dodgers could wait until 2020, but without many options at the big league level, we may see Ruiz this year.
Another to watch:
Taylor Gushue, Washington Nationals: There are better catching prospects on the Nationals. Raudy Read will likely get the first shot and Tres Barrera may be a quick mover, but Gushue is ready for his big league debut to at the very least, see what he can do. The power-first catcher is now 24-years-old and has been working in the Dominican Summer League so it’s safe to assume his MLB debut is close.
Chadwick Tromp, Cincinnati Reds: I don’t know anything about him, his stats aren’t very good, but the 23-year-old backstop has a fun name (keep your politics out of this please) and that is worth an MLB debut alone.