Sunday, March 3, 2019

Springfield Times Annual Mock Draft

Springfield (AP) –
There is a lot to unpack here as we enter the NASBL draft.  We have two 20 year old outfielders that have the polish of 10 year veterans.  We have a handful of guys in their late 20’s that finally got a shot.  We have a relief pitcher who struck out 143 batters.  We have a guy whose only peer with the bat is Joey Votto. 

We also have the first legitimate two-way player in major league baseball since a guy named George Herman Ruth took the field.  Fun fact - I am pretty sure that Red Robbins selected Babe Ruth with his first pick as a 20 old pitcher when he first became eligible for the strat-o-matic draft in 1915.  Red has been winning NASBL championships ever since!

Without further adieu, the following is the Springfield Times’ Annual First Round Projections.

1) Grundy County Grizzlies – Ronald Acuna (OF)

Jack Howard and the Grizz won 96 games in 2016.  Since that season, the Grizz have owned the top pick in each of the last two seasons and dealit franchise favorite Paul Goldschmidt for the 2nd pick in last year’s NASBL draft.  While the last two years have not been easy to watch for the Grizz faithful, those who believe in “the System” continue to espouse the benefits of adding generational talent to a roster year in and year out – and it is hard to blame them.  Let there be no doubt that there are two generational talents in this draft.  Ronald Acuna or Juan Soto rivals the preeminent heated barroom conversation of year’s past – Bryce or Trout.  While Ronald Acuna came into this season with all of the hype that the consensus “Best Prospect in Baseball” brings with it (see – Harper, Bryce), just as in that previous draft there happens to be another 20 year old outfielder a little further down the prospect ratings that may have outperformed the prodigious prospect (see – Trout, Mike).  That’s not to say that Acuna disappointed in any way – he hit 26 bombs in 111 games with an OPS of .917 and won MLB’s rookie of the year over Juan Soto.  Jack Howard cannot go wrong with either pick.  The only questions that remain are 1) which flavor of generational talent does Mr. Howard prefer and 2) has “the System” finally reaped enough benefits for the Grizz to return to glory? 

#2) Illinois Chow Chows – Juan Soto (OF)

As previously mentioned, the #2 pick in this draft is equal to the #1 pick in most drafts.  It is good to be Brad Sherlag.  The scraps left over from the first pick is a 20 year old with an astounding slash line of .292/.406/.517 while playing a strong defensive corner outfield position.  Easy selection for the Chows. 

#3) Slatington Bulldogs – Walker Buehler (SP)

I have talked at length about the top two picks in this draft and have yet to mention the 23 year old who had a WHIP under 1, an ERA under 3, and was throwing seven shutout innings in MLB’s World Series last year.  If I were Walker Buehler I would be offended that I am not in the previous conversation.  Maybe he should be, but Walker Buehler is three years older than Acuna/Soto.  Other players have done comparable things to Buehler at the age of 23 (not many – but others).  Also, Mr. Buehler is a starting pitcher – something that (except on rare occasions) will inevitably get hurt and crush your hopes and dreams.  That doesn’t mean that Walker is not 100% deserving of being a #3 overall draft pick – in this draft and any others.  Buehler is head and shoulders above any other young starting pitcher in this draft that will toe a rubber in MLB in 2019.

#4) Shawnee Crows – Gleyber Torres (2B/SS)
The Crows are set on the rotation front but are light on middle infield bats.  The Crows only rostered middle infielder is Jonathon Schoop – who arguably shouldn’t be manning either position for a contender – let alone try to hold down both 2B and SS simultaneously.  Torres is a perfect selection for the Crows and his talent warrants the selection here.  Gleyber was thrown into a pennant race at 21 in MLB’s toughest market and performed admirably – slugging 24 home runs and a .820 OPS in 123 games.

#5) Pocono Chin Music – Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH)

With all of the talented players in MLB – there is only one player so special that he stands out like a unicorn – with phrases tossed around like “first player since Babe Ruth” when describing his pitching/hitting exploits.  Unfortunately, this unicorn is more like a Pegasus – a Pegasus with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament that will make him unable to fly in MLB during 2019.  Shohei Ohtani’s UCL is the only reason he is available at this pick.  Ohtani will be the most fun player to have on your Strat roster and still mashes as a left handed power hitter when he is unable to pitch.  There is a reason why Shohei was MLB’s Rookie of the Year in the Junior Circuit in 2018.  The bat plays – even for next year when he is unable to take the bump.

#6) Outlaw Josey Wales – Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B/LF)
It is not hyperbole to say that the most valuable player on one of the highest payroll teams in major league baseball was a 27 year old career minor leaguer without a major league appearance in two years.  All Max Muncy did in his first full MLB season was put up 35 homers and a .973 OPS in a full 481 plate appearances, participate in the home run hitting contest at MLB’s all-star game and hit 4 postseason homers – all while playing all over the field.  Muncy’s offense is for real.  If he was five years younger he would be in the conversation for a pick above #6.  As it is, Muncy is a great pick for Outlaw and will plug in at 1B and in the middle of the Outlaw order.

#7) Vermont Fighting Sioux – Miles Mikolas (SP)
Mikolas made his MLB debut in 2012 and pitched his last innings in MLB during the 2014 season.  After that Mikolas moved on to pitch three seasons for the Yomiuri Giants where he compiled a 2.18 ERA over 424 innings of work.  This paved the way for Mikolas’ triumphant return to MLB at the ripe old age of 29.  I know that Win/Loss record will get a proverbial eye roll from the analytical baseball crowd – but anytime a guy compiles an 18-4 record over 32 starts it does beg a closer look.  Mikolas’ season more than holds it when taking such a look - with great peripheral numbers over his 200+ innings pitched.  With Patrick Corbin, Trevor Williams and Charlie Morton already in the fold, there won’t be many easy days for hitters rolling into Vermont to take on the Sioux.

#8) Lake Champlaign Cannibals – Jack Flaherty (SP)

The Cannibals appear to have a thumping lineup already set and ready to wreak havoc on the hurlers of NASBL.  What the Cannibals do appear to be missing is a few starting pitchers.  The Cannibals are especially lacking in youth in the rotation – with the other starters on the Lake Champlaign staff averaging an elderly 34 years of age.  Jack Rafe Flaherty (yes - Rafe is his real middle name) fits nicely as a 22 year old fireballer that can take the bump 28 times for the Cannibals this year and dominate NASBL hitters.  Flaherty struck out 182 MLB hitters in his 151 innings of work – while only allowing a stingy .199 batting average.  Flaherty has a bright future and should thrive under the tutelage of the plethora of veteran starters on the Cannibals staff.

#9) Canyon Country Cannons – Adalberto Mondesi (SS/2B)

The stolen base appears to be a lost art in NASBL – being pushed aside in favor of launch angle/exit velocity.  However, there is no true substitute for speed.  Mondesi swiped 32 bags in only 75 games.  This pace has not been seen in a dozen years when Jose Reyes swiped 78 bags for the Mets in 2007.  It should be noted that the son of longtime NASBL stalwart Raul Mondesi does not eschew power for speed.  Mondesi slugged 14 round trippers in those 75 games as well.  A 22 year old, great glove middle infielder with a 30/70 pace is too hard for the Cannons to pass up here.  Adalberto should serve as the heir apparent to Ian Kinsler in Canyon Country.

#10) Vermont Fighting Sioux (via trade from Ed Couch) – Miguel Andujar (3B)

Miguel Andujar showed that he could flat out rake in his debut season in MLB – hitting .297 with 27 homers and 92 runs batted across 606 plate appearances.  What I’m getting at is that MLB pitchers had a full season to adjust to Andujar and still could not get him out on a consistent basis.  As a result, Andujar finished second in the rookie of the year balloting as a 23 year old rookie in MLB.  Andujar does swing at everything – with only 25 walks in those 606 plate appearances.  He also hits everything - with only 97 strikeouts.  As an aside – it pains this writer to use the line “only 97 strikeouts” without any hint of irony.  Alas, these are the times we live in.  Grumpy old man aside concluded - the bat is special and Andujar’s offense will be greatly appreciated in Vermont.

#11) Phoenix Pony Express – Willy Adames (SS/2B

Willy Adames was a consensus top 20 prospect in baseball before making his MLB debut in late May for the Rays at the age of 22.  Adames started extremely slowly on the offensive side with a crisp .196/.248/.295 slash line in his first 33 games.  From that point on, something clicked for Adames and hit .330./408/.477 in his final 52 games of the season and was a large part of the reason the Rays surprised most pundits by finishing with 90 wins.  Great value for the Bulldogs at #11 if the 2nd half stats are any way near indicative of Adames’ true ability – something that would be wholly unsurprising based on the prospect pedigree that Adames brought into the season.

#12) Slatington Bulldogs (via trade from Springfield) – Joey Wendle (2B/3B/SS/OF)

Back-to-Back Devil Rays!  Apologies, apparently MLB’s Devil Rays eschewed the “Devil” moniker a few years back.  Who knew?  Back-to-Back Rays!  The Bulldogs already grabbed a pitching ace in this draft.  Now its attention shifts to offense.  Joey Wendle hit .300 (good for 8th in MLB’s American League) and got on base at a very respectable clip in his first full season in MLB.  The fact that he did all of this while playing five different positions makes Wendle a manager’s dream.  Joey is a little old for a rookie at 28, however there is no reason to think Mr. Wendle will not be a fixture at the top of the Bulldogs lineup for the foreseeable future.

#13) Denville Ultras – Harrison Bader (OF)
Harrison Bader’s defense is his calling card.  Bader is a spark plug whose route running ability should end up resulting in a “1” across all three outfield positions for the next 5-10 years.  At 24 years old, Bader’s offense could continue to improve.  Even if it does not, Bader was above league average with the bat in his first full MLB – which is more than good enough when coupled with his speed/defense.  Strength up the middle is extremely important in NASBL – something Ken Anderson understands.  The Ultras already have a stockpile of shortstops (Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Orlando Arcia, and Matt Duffy).  The next logical step is a gold glove caliber centerfielder.

#14) Slatington Bulldogs (via trade from Georgia) – Tyler Glasnow (SP/RP)

The Bulldogs are on the clock yet again.  There are numerous directions that Adam Leickel can go with his third pick in the first round.  The Times sees Leickel grabbing a starter with the most upside with this pick in Tyler Glasnow.  Glasnow was a top 10 prospect in MLB as late as 2017, but has had some issues finding a consistent release point in MLB.  Glasnow averaged 5.8 walks per nine innings while being relegated to the bullpen for MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates.  This lack of a consistent release point is not unheard of for taller pitchers – and Glasnow measures in at a Bunyanesque 6 feet 8 inches.  Glasnow was deemed a disappointment by the Bucs and was dealt to those pesky Rays in a midseason trade/change of scenery.  Things seemed to click for Tyler in Tampa.  Glasnow put in 11 starts of dominant baseball - with only 19 free passes to go along with 64 punch-outs.  If Glasnow continues to limit walks at anywhere near this clip, the Bulldogs will have a steal at #14.

#15) Outlaw Josey Wales (via trade from Lehigh Valley) – Josh Hader (RP)

The Wales only have one carded reliever entering the NASBL draft.  That being said, it takes a special reliever to crack the first round of a NASBL draft.  There is a relief pitcher who struck out 143 batters in MLB in 2019.  I will give you a second to digest that.  I do not really need to say much more to explain why Mark Hildebrant needs some Hader-ade in his life.

#16) Dallas Fort Worth Spurs – Jesse Winker (OF
There were only nine MLB players in 2018 that met NASBL’s eligibility requirements and had an OBP above .400.  There were only four MLB players in 2018 that met NASBL’s eligibility requirements and had more walks than strikeouts.  There were only two players that met both of these criteria – Joey Votto and Jesse Winker.  What I’m saying is that Jesse Winker is a special talent with the bat.  Winker clocked in with a .405 OBP and more walks than strikeouts in his first full MLB season.  Why is Winker still available at #16 overall, you ask?  The Times will just be kind and say that Jesse will benefit greatly if MLB adapts the universal DH.  Lucky for Red Robbins, NASBL has already done so!  In other words - the Spurs have a new leadoff man.

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 Tastes Great Second Round Playoff Results

Game 1: LVI 1-GRK 5 (GRK leads series 1-0)

Center fielder Adam Jones knocked 2 homeruns and Gio Gonzalez held Lehigh Valley to 2 hits as the Georgia Roadkill topped the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs by a score of 5 to 1 at The Launching Pad.  Georgia scored 3 runs in the 3rd inning when they had 4 base hits.  The early run support proved sufficient for Gonzalez and Georgia.  That was all the run support Gonzalez required.  Georgia had 10 hits for the night.  Luis Severino took the loss.  He was knocked around by Georgia, allowing 9 hits and 4 walks in 6 and 1/3 innings.

Game 2: LVI 10-GRK 3 (Series tied 1-1)

Right fielder Yasiel Puig slammed 2 homeruns as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs topped the Georgia Roadkill by a score of 10 to 3 at The Launching Pad. Puig was a one-man wrecking crew.  He smashed a two-run homer in the 4th inning and launched a Grand Slam homerun in the 5th inning.  Lehigh Valley had a total of 8 hits for the game.  Stephen Strasburg went 7 innings allowing 3 runs for the victory. Aaron Nola suffered the loss.  He gave up 6 runs in 4 and 2/3 innings of work.

Game 3: GRK 3-LVI 6 (LVI leads series 2-1)

Right fielder Yasiel Puig had 3 base hits as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs bested the Georgia Roadkill 6 to 3 at The Pig Pen.  Lehigh Valley scored 4 runs in the 5th inning when they came up with 4 base hits.  They would be enough to earn the win.  Lehigh Valley totaled 10 hits on the night.  Carlos Carrasco got credit for the victory, pitching 6 innings and allowing 3 runs. David Robertson recorded the save, his 1st.  Jimmy Nelson took the loss.

Game 4: GRK 2-LVI 8 (LVI leads series 3-1)

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs tallied 4 runs in the 5th inning and had very little trouble at The Pig Pen downing the Georgia Roadkill.  The score was 8 to 2. Dustin Pedroia enjoyed a fine evening at the plate.  He ripped a one-base hit bringing in a run in the 2nd inning and launched a Grand Slam homerun in the 5th inning.  Georgia was out-hit by Lehigh Valley, 14 hits to 11.   The victory was credited to Alex Wood who went 6 innings, allowing 1 run.  Gio Gonzalez was tagged with the loss.  He was unable to control the Lehigh Valley offense and allowed 10 hits and 4 walks in 4 innings.

Game 5: GRK 3-LVI 1 (LVI leads series 3-2)

In a good matchup it was the Georgia Roadkill 3, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 1 at The Pig Pen. Georgia scored the decisive runs in a big 9th inning plating 2 runs on 3 hits.
Giancarlo Stanton led off and started the attack as he banged out a single. Daniel Murphy stepped up next and he cracked a two-run shot.  Georgia had 7 hits for the night.  The win went to Mike Minor who allowed no runs in 1 and 1/3 innings. Ken Giles gained credit for his 1st save.  Luis Severino was the losing pitcher.  While he was the losing pitcher, he still struck out 11 batters in 8 and 2/3 innings.

Game 6: LVI 13-GRK 4 (LVI wins series 4-2)

Adam Lind had 4 hits and 4 RBI and Stephen Strasburg dominated striking out 12 Georgia batters at The Launching Pad where the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs beat the Georgia Roadkill 13 to 4.  Strasburg gave Lehigh Valley a solid outing.  He went 7 innings surrendering 6 hits and 2 walks and allowed 3 gopher balls.  Lehigh Valley bats were very productive in the 6th inning when they had 3 runs on 3 hits, the 7th inning which saw them score 3 runs on 4 hits and the 8th inning with 3 runs on 4 hits.  Offensively, Lehigh Valley was a juggernaut.  They scored in 6 separate innings.  Aaron Nola was given the loss.  He got hit hard, allowing 12 hits and 2 walks in 5 and 1/3 innings.  'I had my good stuff tonight.' Strasburg said. 'As the game went along I started to get the feeling that I was going to strike out a bunch of hitters.'

Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018 Tastes Great First Round Playoff Results

Game 1: LVI 3-SPR 2 (LVI leads series 1-0)

Cole Hamels carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning at M.Burns Memorial Field where the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs beat the Springfield Isotopes by the score of 3 to 2. Hamels (1-0) gave Lehigh Valley a solid outing.  He was stingy on the mound, allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk in 6 and 1/3 innings. The left-handed Hamels lost a no-hitter when Austin Jackson singled with one out in the 7th inning. Tyler Lyons, after tossing a perfect ninth, was credited with his 1st save. Marcus Stroman (0-1) was charged with the loss. He allowed 3 runs and 7 hits in 6 and 1/3 innings.

Game 2: LVI 1-SPR 2 (Series tied 1-1)

Brent Suter delivered 3 solid innings as the Springfield Isotopes bested the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in 10 innings 2 to 1 at M.Burns Memorial Field. The game was deadlocked at 1 after nine full innings. Springfield won it in the 10th inning.  Kevin Kiermaier drew a walk.  Jake Lamb followed next and he drew a walk. Jon Gray then laid down a sacrifice bunt. Jacoby Ellsbury was up next and he lined a base-hit resulting in a mighty exciting win for Springfield and the 49,696 home town fans in attendance.  Springfield ended up with 7 hits for the game while Lehigh Valley had 4. Darren O'Day (1-0) went 1/3 of an inning allowing no runs for the win. David Robertson (0-1) was given the loss in relief.  He allowed 1 run and 1 hit in 1 inning.

Game 3: SPR 1-LVI 0 (SPR leads series 2-1)

Max Scherzer allowed 2 hits while blanking Lehigh Valley as the Springfield Isotopes topped the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs by a score of 1 to 0 at The Pig Pen. Scherzer (1-0) dominated Lehigh Valley hitters. He allowed only 2 hits and 1 walk in 9 innings. Scherzer whiffed an impressive total of 10 Lehigh Valley batters. Lehigh Valley threatened in the 9th but Springfield was able to put down the rally. Carlos Carrasco (0-1) was charged with the loss. 'When Scherzer is on like that it is a tough game to play, no doubt about it,' Kevin Burns said. 'He always pitches well against us.'

Game 4: SPR 3-LVI 11 (Series tied 2-2)

Luis Severino racked up an impressive total of 12 strikeouts at The Pig Pen where the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs beat the Springfield Isotopes by the score of 11 to 3. Severino (1-0) was very good in the win.  He surrendered only 6 hits and 4 walks in 9 innings.  Lehigh Valley rapped out 13 hits for the night. Marcus Stroman (0-2) was tagged with the loss. The Lehigh Valley fans were thrilled by the performance put forth by Severino, but it was clearly his strikeouts that they enjoyed most. 'When he reached 10 strikeouts the fans showed him their appreciation with a loud cheer.' Kevin Burns said following the game.

Game 5: SPR 0-LVI 3 (LVI leads series 3-2)

Stephen Strasburg whitewashed Springfield on 3 hits as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs bested the Springfield Isotopes 3 to 0 at The Pig Pen. Strasburg (1-0) was indeed brilliant as he hand-cuffed the Springfield offense. He didn't give up much, just 3 hits and 3 walks in 9 innings. Strasburg recorded 11 strikeouts.  The pitchers took over after the 4th inning as neither team was able to score again.  Jon Gray (0-1) was hit with the loss. 'Strasburg took our guys to school' Doug Sherlag said. 'Too bad he doesn't pitch for us - it would make my job a whole lot easier!'

Game 6: LVI 2-SPR 6 (Series tied 3-3)

Travis Shaw cracked a homer as the Springfield Isotopes topped the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs by a score of 6 to 2 at M.Burns Memorial Field. Springfield took the lead for good in the 6th inning plating an isolated run on 2 base hits. After two outs Matt Olson was walked intentionally. Josh Reddick stepped into the batter's box and he delivered a single. Jose Ramirez then lashed a single scoring the run. Springfield had 9 hits for the game and Lehigh Valley had 3. Felipe Rivero (1-0) went 1 and 1/3 innings allowing no runs for the win. The loss was charged to Ryan Madson (0-1) in relief. He pitched 1 and 1/3 innings allowing 3 hits and 1 walk.

Game 7: LVI 6-SPR 1 (LVI wins series 4-3)

In a one-sided affair at M.Burns Memorial Field the final score was the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 6, the Springfield Isotopes 1. Cole Hamels (2-0) contributed a pedestrian performance to earn the win.  He went 5 and 1/3 innings and surrendered up 6 hits and 4 walks dropping his ERA from 2.84 to 2.31. Lehigh Valley totaled 11 hits on the night. Juan Nicasio (0-1) took the loss in relief. He allowed 3 runs and 2 hits in 1 and 1/3 innings.