Padres

Adding Manny Machado adds excitement and misplaced hope.  The Padres offense will sparkle during the 2019 season only to lose 8-6, 9-5 and similar scores of wasted runs.  Yes, I need pitching and lots of it before turning the corner to Happy Street near Petco Park.

Offense:  Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers and Mr. Machado likely smack 25 to 30 dingers each and drive in at least 85 rbi per.  Hunter Renfroe should join them.  Manuel Margot, Luis Urias (he should land the starting shortstop job and is the proud recipient of my #1 offensive player in the Pads minor league system) and Ian “Old Man” Kinsler will benefit from improved pitch selection with runners on base.  The catching duo of Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia will not last long.  Eventually, Mr. Mejia becomes the full-time catcher as 2019 progresses.  Franmil Reyes will make a case for playing time and press either Wil Myers or Hunter Renfroe as the year unfolds.  Or the Padres package him in late July to an unforgiving land such as Baltimore or Miami.

Pitching:  The reason why third place is the best outcome in 2019.  Joey Lucchesi (or lefty #1) had a decent 2018 and holds promise, but not as a #1 starter.  Robbie Erlin (lefty #2) pitched better than Mr. Lucchesi, yet, he too, is not a #1 starter.  Matt Strahm (lefty #3.  Yes, we have theme among starting Padres pitchers) likely emerges from the bullpen to start, though I lobby for his role as a closer.  Eric Lauer is also a lefty.  That’s all I have on behalf of Mr. Lauer, though I once spent a night in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio.  A nice place.  Bryan Mitchell appearing as a potential starter on any team is a sign of debacle.  Chris Paddack, Logan Allen and Jacob Nix will get a long look during 2019.  The bullpen is led by Kirby Yates (not a bad choice), Brad Wieck, Adam “Human Rain Delay” Warren ann Aaron Loup (when not the fifth starter during bad times).

Note:  Until Andy Green is fired, the Padres will continue to languish from unrealized offensive production and poor pitching management as nine innings flutter by.  Why a 205-281 manager is retained for a fourth year is inexplicable.  Mr. Green needs to move on.

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Angels

Behold, Arte Moreno again spends enormous, spectacular, incredible amounts of money on a single player.  But, this guy’s name is Mike Trout.  I’m fine.

Offense:  Mike Trout, Mike Trout, Mike Trout.  Yes, he’s the best baseball player of my lifetime.  When he first arrived in 2011, he caught my eye.  2012, I was sold.  Speaking of best players, Andrelton Simmons is the best shortstop on the planet.  Yes, even better than Ozzie Smith (blaspheme is some circles).  His glove, arm and brain are unsurpassed at the #6 spot on the field.  Plus, his obp has increased each year since 2015.  Albert Pujols will have a serviceable year, again, in 2019.  Guess how many times Albert drove in 100+ runs during his seven years in Anaheim?  C’mon.  You can do it.  No, not ever.  No, not twice.  Four seasons.  You didn’t know, did you?  Sure, bashing Albert for the money paid is in vogue (I do so), but he is more productive than given credit, less the injury years of 2013 and last year.  On behalf of his bat, the less he plays first base, the better.  Kole Calhoun had an awful, absolutely awful, 2018.  I’m of the opinion he is done. He can’t hit a fastball.  Michael Hermosillo is right field’s heir.  Justin Upton is Albert Pujols in the outfield.  He’ll do well enough.  Justin Bour will hit 20 home runs and drive in 75.  Yawn.  David Fletcher owns second base.  Zack Cozart played a mere 58 games last year after a breakout year in 2017.  2019 will prove 2017 to be the rule or the exception.  Jonathan Lucroy and Jose Briceno share the catching duties.  Why?  Mr. Briceno threw out 44% of base runners last year.  Mr. Lucroy should catch on Sundays only.  Shohei Ohtani will take turns at dh with Mr. Pujols until he returns to the mound.  Yes, he is the real deal both at the plate and on the mound.

Pitching:  Once, Mr. Ohtani returns, the Angels starting staff becomes deep enough.  Until his return, Matt Harvey, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Skaggs shoulder the load.  Jaime Barria should be the #5 starter, thus pushing Nick Tropeano and Trevor Cahill into the bullpen or Salt Lake City.  Said bullpen is shallow.   Cam Bedrosian, Noe Ramirez, Justin Anderson and, let’s say, Ty Buttrey make for a wobbly path to Cody Allen.

Note:  Hiring Brad Asmus was dumb.  He’s gone at year’s end.  If Billy Eppler admits a mistake sooner rather than later.

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Dodgers

Complain all you want, but Dave Roberts is arguably the best manager in the N.L.  He takes a lot of talent, keeps that talent happy (or happy enough), slogs through the inevitable late summer stall and delivers the playoffs or better.  So there.

Offense:  An outfield rotating between Joc Pederson (strikes out far too often, though 2018 was an improvement), A.J. Pollock, Cody Bellinger (no, I’m not sold on the first base change), Enrique Hernandez, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo (#1 in my rating of the Dodgers minor league system) protects against injury.  Speaking of injury, Corey Seager returns in 2019.  Shortstops and Tommy John surgery are close cousins to pitchers and Tommy John surgery.  Wait and see.  Justin Turner, Chris Taylor and Max Muncy complete the infield.  Austin Barnes and the returning Russell Martin form a passable defensive duo with little bat.  Will Smith is a year away before he becomes the starting catcher.

Pitching:  Injuries Are Us.  Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill are on the shelf.  Gonna be a sloooooooooooow start to 2019 for Dodger fans.  Prepare to lose winnable games through May.  At least.  Hyun-Jin Ryu is the #1 starter.  Kenta Maeda follows.  Candidly, these two are good, but do not replace the above mentioned.  Given the lack of depth, the rush job of Julio Urias continues.  Kenley Jansen’s long term health continues to be a question.  Joe Kelly, if healthy (there is that word again), could take the closer spot, though he is better served as the eighth inning guy.  Ross Stripling will spend time as both a starter and reliever.  Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro and Pedro Baez will be plenty busy until the starting rotation can get to the fifth inning on a regular basis.

Note:  The Dodgers run out of luck during the N.L. playoffs.  Philly and whomever emerges from the N.L. Central battle for the World Series spot.

 

 

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Let me begin by acknowledging I believe in the Albert Pujols Rule:  ten-year contracts are nut job crazy.  Bat shit crazy.  Crazy crazy.  Ask Artie Moreno.

The only ten-year good news is Manny can leave after year five.  Here’s hoping.  Face the fact that five years from now, Mr. Machado is halfway to the Hall of Fame (no) or he is breaking his surf board, swearing off non-meat and heading east (yes).

Many positive facts adorn this signing by the Padres.  First, Padres management took a chance.  Taking a chance can be applauded (successfully brewing a beer that is not an IPA) or booed (Tesla and cars).  Time will tell.  Manny is all of 26.  He has logged seven years of productive MLB time primarily with bad to average Baltimore Orioles teams and a half-year with the Dodgers.  During his Baltimore time (not a jail reference, though it could be), Manny played when all was lost by the middle of August if not before.  2012 through 2017, he played a minimum of 156 games each of those years including 162 in 2015 and again in 2018.  Less 2012, he had a minimum of 630+ at bats.  He did a lot by himself or with very little help.

179 home runs have flown from his bat the last five years.  If he stays all 10 years in San Diego that equates to 358 dingers as a Padre.  Granted, his rbi total registered only once above 100 (107 in 2018).  Only two other seasons was he above 90.  The N.L.’s long time reputation as a fastball league may well make the difference and place Mr. Machado above the 100 rbi mark on a seasonal basis.  Then again, Padres’ hitters look at on base percentage as an after thought preferring to strike out or ground out while again attempting to pull an outside pitch much to the delight of middle infielders.  And, as long as MLB continues the dreaded inter-league play, perhaps one off-speed pitch too many during a three-game series against an A.L. team will leave Manny walking to the dugout with a stranded, nay, abandoned runner on second.

His cumulative line of .282/.335 and 31/90 along with 37 doubles does not scream $300 million over any period of time.  Nor does wrapping Manny firmly in the middle of the San Diego line up full of young, frolicking, yet underachieving souls make the ridiculous sum of money for an absurd number of years any more palatable.  Yes, those of you who scream and point to increased ticket sales (and rightfully so) will fall into the grind of August playoff slippage swallowed by September’s cruel cry of “Not yet!  We don’t have enough pitching!”  Damn the Dodgers and Rockies!  But, not the Snakes because trading Paul Goldschmidt for a box fan and tube of sunscreen was dumb.  And certainly not the Giants because not having money or a minor league development system is small and short.

Fine, let’s talk about the lineup.  Do not be too quick to assume potential and power realized in the trio of Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Wil “I’m Injured” Myers.  Much good may come.  And should.  But should is a dangerous word.  I should lose weight.  I should wear my glasses while driving.  I should take out the trash.  Machado, Hosmer and Myers should do well.

What about the others?  Franmil Reyes (best player in the Padres system who must be on the 25 man roster before the season begins), Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Travis Jankowski, Luis Urias (lose Fernando Tatis, Jr. and stick with Mr. Urias.  You read that slander here first) and the catching duo of Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia would surely benefit from Machado/Hosmer/Myers.  True.  And here is the intrigue, Eric Hosmer is the old man at the age of 29.  All others mentioned are between the ages of 21 (Mr. Urias) and 28 (Mr. Myers).  Contracts are a distant concern.  The future is bright and near, not the usual dot on the Pacific’s horizon in the Padres case.

I admit that the Padres are my favorite N.L. team and have been since the days of the Taco Bell uniforms and fist fights in the left field stands at the Murph during Dodger games.  Ah, sweet times.  But, in the name of Carmelo “Except for fly balls, I like playing left field” Martinez, $300 million for 10 years for anybody is deranged.

2018 MLB Development Review

Posted: December 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

I have changed my ratings approach.  Why?  Because I wanted to.

The reason is I was spending too much time making a case for players who hit .280/.360 with gap power.  After five years of engaging in my chosen activity of rating the minor league systems of all 30 MLB teams, I grew weary of searching for reasons to find above average AAA players who rarely saw the light of day, much less created production, at the big league level.

My offensive search is now confined to guys who jump up as obvious (to me) candidates to reach the concrete structures found in 30 locations in the U.S. and Canada.  My pitching results offer pitchers with sub-1.00 whips and without a base on balls problem, meaning less than 3 walks per 9 innings pitched.  I no longer separate starters from relievers having endured my brain exploding when average to poor MLB teams suffering from a lack of pitching talent decide in early July to take a long groomed closer and attempt (with pure disaster) to transform him into a #5 starter.

I still rate catchers separately from the other everyday positions.  Toss rates (throwing out baserunners to the unclean) of 33% or better get my attention.  If a catcher hits .250/.325, be happy.

Finally, I will list my top 10 hitting and pitching prospects for each league.  You are welcome.

A.L. East

Boston:  Finally, other than Tzu-Wei Lin, talent arrives in Pawtucket.  Michael Chavis, Esteban Quiroz and John Ockimey arrive to form a pool of late 2019 talent along with the aging (in baseball terms) Cole Sturgeon and Tony Renda.  Once the Sox take the inevitable offer for Blake Swihart, Oscar Hernandez (44% toss rate) finally gets a shot in Boston.  Pitching development is pathetic.  Only six guys made the cut.  I’m not a Jalen Beeks believer.  Travis Lakins and Matthew Gorst have a better chance than Mr. Beeks.

Baltimore:  How bad can a baseball operation become?  Three guys with offensive production found my attention.  No more.  Two catchers at the A+ level have decent toss rates.  One hits (Daniel Fajardo) and one does not (Stuart Levy).  However, pitching prospects are found in Jay Flaa, Luis Gonzalez, Branden Kline and Zach Pop.  The goal is not to rush these guys to a bad Baltimore team in 2019.  Wait.

NYY:  Ryan McBroom has the best chance of staying in the Bronx for a half-dozen years or so.  Devyn Bolasky is a stud in the making, but not until 2020.  Francisco Diaz (56% in AA and 39% in A+ and he hits!) is a prime candidate for Brian Cashman to rush and ruin given the catching circus that is Gary Sanchez.  If Mr. Diaz can spend a full year in AAA, the outcome is more likely to be a success.  The pitching available in 2019 is good and plentiful.  Erik Swanson, Mike King (especially), Stephen Tarpley, Luis Cessa and Domingo Acevedo should all see time in the Bronx this coming season.  However, eight guys who pitched in A+ ball in 2018 are the ones to watch.  Yeah, too many to name, but the 2019 NYY Trenton team should lead all AA teams in whip, era and wins.

Tampa:  Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows and Nathaniel Lowe should be Tampa bound after spring training.  Rene Pinto (A+, 47% toss rate and he hits) is the catcher of the not too distant future.  Pitching rated almost as deep as NYY.  Colin Poche, Hunter Wood and Diego Castillo arrive in 2019.  Benton Moss, Brock Burke and Yoel Espinal are not far behind, though better served in 2020.

Toronto:  Yep, Vlad, Jr. is that good.  As good as Dad?  No.  But, he is bound for Canada this coming season.  Harold Ramirez and Jonathan Davis need a couple hundred ab in AAA before leaving later in the 2019 season.  Broke Lundquist and Cullen Large are two guys to watch make their way through A+ ball and beyond.  Albert Mineo is the best of 3 rated catchers.  Justin Dillon is the Jays’ best pitching prospect.  Jose Fernandez and Sam Gaviglio are likely to join him in Toronto.

A.L. Central

White Sox:  Eloy Jimenez has the same amount of potential as Vald, Jr.  However, the White Sox quickly run out of 2019 help.  Most of the talent is AA bound.  Luis Gonzalez (A+/A) and Laz Rivera (A) shine in a shallow pool.  Seby Zavala (AA, 38% and hits with power) probably endures a rush job to Chicago in 2019.  The best of the pitching prospects are Ian Hamilton, Brandon Brennan, Colton Turner and Jimmy Lambert.  We all know the White Sox need as much help as the Orioles.

Cleveland:  They make trades for younger players for a reason:  They don’t have any ready AAA talent.  Granted, 2019’s AA team will feature Ernie Clement and Jorma Rodriguez, but the drop off is steep.  Adam Plutko, Ben Taylor, Shane Bieber and Evan Marshall all get a chance to pitch near Lake Erie this coming season.

Detroit:  The Tigers are getting better fast.  Ronny Rodriguez highlights a group including Jacob Robson, Will Maddox, Daniel Woodrow, Issac Paredes (potential plus) and Willi Castro (see Mr. Paredes).  Jake Rogers likely overtakes Grayson Greiner given his 56% toss rate at AA last year.  But, he’s not an everyday catcher in Detroit until more offensive talent arrives.  Pitching, less AA, rated well.  Johnny Barbator, Drew Verhagen, Hunter Cervanka and Blaine Hardy bid for innings pitched in Detroit during 2019.

K.C.:  Generally, ugh.  However, Jecksson Flores and Nicky Lopez probably help in Kansas City this coming year.   The Royals suffer from AAAA development (the old joke about too good for AAA, yet nothing happens in the majors).  This organization is thin.  However, look forward to the 2020 arrival of Xavier Fernandez (AA, 41% and hits).  Speaking of catching, why did Royals management rush Meibrys Viloria from A+ ball to K.C. last year?  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  The best pitching prospects spend 2019 in A+.  Not a lot of ready talent except for Jake Newberry.

Minnesota:  Zander Wiel and Nick Gordon leave spring training with the big club.  The Twins have a boat load of talent headed to AA and  A+ ball in 2019.  Alex Kirilloff, Luiz Arraez, Royce Lewis and Jordan Gore are among the names to watch.  Wynston Sawyer is as good an immediate catching prospect as Francisco Diaz and Xavier Hernandez.  The Twins are the deepest A.L. club with eight quality defensive catching prospects.  Pitching offers no more than three 2019 candidates:  Alan Busenitz, Cody Stashak and Andrew Vasquez.

A.L. West

Angels:  Taylor Ward gets his full-time chance in 2019.  Bo Way probably arrives in early August after the Angels discover hiring Brad Asmus was a mistake.  Joe Hudson (39%) is a 2019 ready catching prospect who can also hit.  Jeremy Beasley is far and away the best pitching prospect in system.  Maybe Greg Mahle sticks next season.  The rest of the talent, unlikely to offer significant help, is 2020 bound.

Houston:  Loaded.  I know Kyle Tucker, J.D. Davis and Tyler White all had time in Houston last year, but I consider them primarily AAA talent waiting for a 500 ab season in The Bigs.  Taylor Jones (AA) and Yordan Alvarez (AA) join the talent fight in AAA this coming season.  Garrett Stubbs gets a chance to catch (45% and a productive bat)) in Houston in 2019.  James Ritchie (34% and said bat) needs to wait a year.  While thinking “The rich get richer”, may I present the Astros pitching development.  Wind.  Tumbleweeds.  Crickets.  Except for Ryan Hartman and Corbin Martin, their best is two to three years away.

Oakland:  Two guys are ready and two guys are due for a post-July 31 arrival.  Ramon Laureano and Dustin Fowler make the club during spring training.  Eli White and Luis Barrera arrive late summer.  Then, not much.  Season Murphy (33% and he hits) is the best catching prospect, but he needs a full year in AAA.  Jonah Heim (A+, 40% and hits) is right behind him.  2019 AAA pitching will develop well with the arrival of Ben Bracewell, Parker Dunshee, Jesus Lazardo and John Gorman.

Seattle:  Given the extensive player movement during the off-season, Dan Vogelbach makes the team after a good spring.  Joey Curletta is the next best bet, but later in the year.  Pitching development is horrible.  Maybe Williams Perez and Andrew Moore help in 2019.  I could not find ten pitching prospects system wide.  I found eight.  Of which four are a bit of a stretch.  Boo.

Texas:  Their offensive development resembles Seattle’s pitching “development”.  Less Hunter Cole, not much.  Five guys in AAA need to prove they are not AAAA captives.  Pitching offers Ricardo Rodriguez, Reed Garrett, Tyler Wagner and Brady Feigi (one to watch).

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Is the above a cool break or not?  I’m impressed.   You are jealous.

N.L. East

Atlanta:  Michael Reed should play permanently in Atlanta.  Sal Giardina will join him.  Alejandro Salazar, Luis Marte and Austin Riley (the best of this trio) will begin the year in AAA, and may enjoy the sight, sound and sweat of Atlanta late summer.  Four pitchers likely enjoy the big league in 2019:  Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka, Bryse Wilson and Corbin Clouse.  After years of decline, the Braves have rediscovered the value of player development.

Miami:  Austin Dean and J.T. Riddle have potential plus.  Peter Moony and Justin Twine should assist the Fish in slowly moving away from mediocrity.  Tomas Telis (52%) and Austin Nola (37%) are quality catching prospects.  Miami is loaded with outstanding pitching from AAA to A ball.  Joe Gunkel, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez and Jeff Brigham will become permanent residents of Miami in 2019.

NYM:  Jeff McNeil plays all of 2019 in Queens.  Luis Guillorme and Kevin Kaczmarski join Mr. McNeil.  Peter Alonso does not spend all of 2109 in AAA.  However, the Mets are thin in offensive development especially in AA and A+ ball.  Tim Peterson, Jacob Rhame and Daniel Zamora will complete the Mets’ 2019 pitching staff.

Philly:  Joey Menses makes the jump to the Bigs in 2019.  Austin Listi might, though he most likely arrives in 2020.  Much like the Mets, Philadelphia struggles to develop a deep pool of offensive talent in the minors.  Cole Irvin, Ben Lively (no more AAA demotions), Brandon Leibrandt, Tyler Gilbert and Austin Davis have major league ability.  Much like the Marlins, the Phillies are loaded with quality prospects from AAA to A ball.

Washington:  Rafael Bautista is the best guy in the Nats system.  Hunter Jones and Alec Keller arrive in Washington during 2019.  After these three, offensive talent thins quickly at the AAA and AA levels.  Spencer Kieboom (48%) gets another chance to stay in 2019.  Kyle McGowin, Trevor Gott and Austin Williams are the top three pitching prospects.

N.L. Central

Cubs:  Evidently, Theo Epstein does not enjoy the work involved in developing home-grown talent.  After Victor Caratini, the wait will be long for Roberto Caro (A ball in 2018).  Notable offensive production is difficult to find in the Cubs’ minor league system.  Thankfully, two catching prospects are close.  P.J. Higgins (39%) and Jhonny Pereda (38%) can both throw and hit.  Kyle Ryan and Randy Rosario have the best chance of pitching in Chicago.  The Cubs do a better job of developing pitching than hitting.

Cincinnati:  Three players deserve the long look.  Brandon Dixon, Nick Senzel and Brian O’Grady.  Dilson Herrera is also worthy.  Lucas Sims and Austin Brile are the top two pitching prospects.  Alex Powers and Joel Bender are a year away.

Milwaukee:  Orlando Arcia makes a permanent move to Milwaukee in 2019.  Dylan Moore may join him.  Certainly no later than 2020.  Nate Orf, Ji-Man Choi and Maurcio Dubon all see time in Cincy this coming year.  Christian Betancourt (44% and a solid bat) makes the case for shedding the AAAA label in 2019.  Pitching talent is difficult to find.  Two years from now, maybe Zack Brown and Jon Olczak arrive.

Pittsburgh:  Jason Martin is the best in system, but he likely spends next year in AAA.  Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman and Jose Osuna get some time in Pittsburgh next year.  Raul Hernandez (50%) is the best of four catchers at least two years away.  Pitching help likely arrives in 2020.  Eduardo Vera, Cam Vieaux, Scooter Hightower and J.T. Brubaker all need full year in AAA.

St. Louis:  Ramon Urias and Randy Arozarena have the talent to exit AAA after their first 200 abs in 2019.  Rangel Ravelo and Tyler O’Neill make the team during spring.  Giovanni Gallegos and Tyler Webb improve the pitching staff.  Jack Flaherty gets a look.

N.L. West

Arizona:  Juniel Querecuto stays in Arizona 2019 forward.  Ildemaro Vargas, Socrates Brito, Kevin Chacon, Christian Walker and Cesar Puello create a lot of choice for Arizona management in putting together 2019’s team.  The majority of the pitching talent arrives to AAA next year.

Colorado:  With an asterisk, consider Josh Fuentes, Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman joining the big club.  Why the asterisk?  The Rockies’ AAA team is located in sky-high Albuquerque.  No major league pitching prospects were found at the AAA level.  Two at AA meaning Peter Lambert and Logan Cozart are unlikely to arrive in 2019.

L.A.:  Alex Verdugo, Edwin Rios, Andrew Toles and Connor Joe hopefully find a place to play in L.A. as 2019 begins.  Will Smith (39% and hits) is the only catcher of note.  Sadly, the Dodgers don’t excel at creating pitching talent with the same success as offensive talent.  Andrew Istler and Caleb Ferguson are the most likely to live in Smog Land in 2019.

San Diego:  I do not understand all the joy and praise aimed at San Diego’s minor league system.  I find their efforts average and not near as good the past few years.  Franmil Reyes should make the team during spring.  Luis Urias joins him.  Travis Jankowski gets one last chance.  No, I’m not a Fernando Tatis, Jr. fan.  He’s overrated.  Francisco Diaz needs ab.  Lots of ab as he handles the pitching staff.  Jacob Nix and Brad Wieck stay in San Diego the entire year.  Logan Allen, Chris Paddack, T.J. Weir and Trevor Frank arrive no later than 2020.  I do find the Padres much better at developing pitching than everyday players.

San Francisco:  The struggle is real.  The struggle continues.  Management needs to be dunked by angry water polo players.  These guys think thin is thick.  Austin Slater, Alen Hanson and Miguel Gomez all get a chance to stay in San Francisco.  Same with Ronnie Freeman (41%) and Trevor Brown (37%).  Derek Law and Ray Black make the pitching staff in 2019.  Dan Slania, Dillon McNamara and Dusten Knight need AAA time.

Top-10 A.L. Hitting Prospects

1. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr (Blue Jays,  AAA/AA).

2. Ryan McKenna (Orioles, A+).

3. Jarren Duran (Boston, A).

4 (tie). Devyn Bolasky (NYY, AA).

4 (tie). Cole Sturgeon (Boston, AA).

5. Alex Kirilloff (Twins, A+/A).

6. Nathaniel Lowe (Rays, AA/A+).

7 (tie).  Kevin Smith (Jays, A).

7 (tie).  Michael Helman (Twins, A).

8. Eloy Jimenez (W. Sox, AAA/AA).

9 (tie). Taylor Ward (Angels, AAA).

9 (tie).  Brandon Sandoval (Angels, A+)

10. David Fletcher (Angels, AAA).

Top-10 A.L. Pitching Prospects

1. Brendan McKay (Rays, A).

2. Justin Dillon (Jays, AA).

3. Gus Varland (Oakland, A+).

4. Justin Ferrell (Astros, A+).

5. Mike King (NYY, AAA/AA).

6. Brady Feigi (Texas, AA).

7. Zac Lowther (Orioles, A).

8. Blaine Hardy (Tigers, AAA).

9. Patrick Sandoval (Astros, A+).

10. Michael Peoples (Cleveland, AA).

Top-10 N.L. Hitting Prospects

1. Juan Yepez (St. Louis, A).

2. Alen Hanson (Giants, AAA).

3. Justin Twine (Miami, AA).

4. Randy Arozarena (St. Louis, AA).

5. Roberto Caro (Cubs, A).

6. Dylan Moore (Brewers, AA).

7. Juniel Querecuto (Arizona, AAA/AA).

8. Jeff McNeil (NYM, AAA).

9. Rafael Bautista (Nationals, AAA).

10 (tie).  Michael Reed (Braves, AAA, AA).

10 (tie).  Travis Janksowski (Padres, AAA).

Top-10 N.L. Pitching Prosepcts

1. Steve Villines (NYM, A+).

2. Giovanny Gallegos (St. Louis, AAA).

3. Austen Williams (Nationals, AAA).

4. Tyler Webb (St. Louis, AAA).

5. Kyle McGowin (Nationals, AAA).

6. Clayton Andrews (Brewers, A+).

7 (tie). Kyle Keller (Miami, A+).

7 (tie). Walter Borkovich (Braves, A+).

8 (tie).  Addison Ross (Phillies, A).

8 (tie).  Robbie Gordon (St. Louis, A).

9. Trevor McGill (Padres, A+).

10. Chris Paddack (Padres, AA).

The promising start of 6 – 1 crumbles to 7 – 6.  Four consecutive losses.  The fourth was an absolute butt kicking courtesy of the Ohio Bobcats, 27-0.  The Aztec offense imploded.  We resembled a fourth grade effort at building a papier-mache volcano project gone horribly wrong.  Crap was everywhere with nothing to show.  The game’s end shutout provides emphasis for areas to improve in 2019.  Offense, offense, offense and, um, let’s see, offense.

Rocky and Jeff need to reconsider their commitment to pound and ground given the fact that once Juwan Washington was injured three of the next four games featured SDSU rushing totals of less than 200 yards.  His first game after recovering from his injury also featured  a game total of less than 200 yards . . . as did the next two games as well.  Pound and ground?  More like slap and tickle.  This unimpressive result lies at the collective feet of the offensive line and to a lesser extent the tight ends.  Certainly, injury played a part, but which season does injury not play a part in the journey of an offensive line?  Mike Schmidt has much to fix next year during spring and summer ball.

Perhaps a more balanced offense would contribute to an improved offensive line.  Yet, I have doubts that Ryan Agnew is “the guy” for 2019.  A completion percentage of 51.6% does not create an abundance of confidence.  Granted, Christian Chapman’s 89 passing attempts given to Mr. Agnew might generate an improved completion rate and a sizable increase of his 1,651 total yards passing.  However, might implies might not.

Given the stellar years of Kahale Warring and Parker Houston at the tight-end spots, I trust coach Horton will continue to incorporate passes in their general direction.  I congratulate coach Hunkie Cooper for offering a strong three-deep on each side of the quarterback group of wide receivers during 2018.  At last, we have receivers who can stretch the field after catching the football.  Let’s stretch more often in 2019.

Returning to the running game, I feel the need to abandon the fullback as permanent partner of Mr. Washington.  How about a dual running back set more offensive snaps than not?  Also, I am unconvinced that Chase Jasmin is the #2 back.  I lean towards Chance Bell.  He runs with more abandon and inflicts pain on those attempting to tackle him.

2018 sputtered to an offensive close of 187 passing yards per game and a very un-Aztec 161.7 rushing yards per game.  Feeble, pale, unsteady.  More proof?  All four MWC losses were single digit.  By 4 to Nevada, 3 to UNLV, 9 to Fresno and 1 to Hawaii.  17 points total.  Our offense could not find 18 more points.  What about the seven wins?  The 14 point difference against Sacramento State provided the only double-digit win of the season.  “Single digit” was the Aztec offense nickname and a ready title for a convention of underachievers.  If “single digit” doesn’t motivate, what will?

As for the 2018 defense, less the first (Stanford) and last (Ohio) games of the season, the SDSU defense held their end of the bargain.  Sure, the defensive backfield can improve, but the front three and linebacking crew were outstanding.  When the opposition is held to an average of 334.6 total yards per game accented with allowing an average of only 3 yards per carry, the defense creates hope.  Also, how many head coaches and offensive coordinators (especially) would give a body part for a defense that allowed an average of 22.2 points per game?  Big-12 coaches would offer wives and children for that chance to win.  Frankly, I’m not sure how Rocky improves on giving up less than 231 passing yards per game and less than 104 rushing yards per game.  Though, he will try.

May spring and summer ball create the return of an Aztec offense that blows past 400 yards per game, one way or the other.

 

Hawaii 31, SDSU 30

Posted: November 28, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

A boggle of a loss.  Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  The perfect end to a disappointing final three MWC games (therein lies the true hurt) of the 2018 season.  The 2018 season was equivalent to an at-fault fender bender followed by losing your wallet.  On Friday night.

John Barron missing from 32 was the moment.  Not to lay, nor do I dare lay, the loss on his talented foot, but if he makes that kick, we never hear the word “overtime.”  This missed kick led to Rocky’s decision to go for two and the game when a standard point after touchdown would have created a second ot and another chance to win.

Hawaii owned the first half.  Cole McDonald was Heisman material.  Then, the vaunted defensive adjustment occurred post-half time, and Mr. McDonald returned to scale, thus no longer shredding the Aztec back eight.  Registering zeros in the third and fourth quarters should have sealed an Aztec win.  But, “should” is a dangerous word:  You should take out the trash.  You should avoid the last beer.  You should eat less crap.

Finishing 7-5 and 4-4 (especially) is inexplicable.  A shoulder shrug of a season.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.  The 2018 season is to Aztec football fans what Monday morning is to a guy who hates his job, but won’t search for another.

Speaking of searching, seems to me that coaching staff changes will be made.  I will not speculate about specific coaches, but the inconsistency of the running game coupled with the o-line’s inability to block consistently will receive the cold glare of slow review from Rocky.  These guys know coaching is a business.  Things change.  Time advances.  Ideas evolve.  Do we remain Pound and Ground U?  Ryan Agnew threw enough to notice during his time in place of Christian Chapman.  I will say the wide receivers finally delivered a quality season long effort this year.  Something to shift towards or build upon for 2019?

The cold comfort of the MWC portion of our season is our total point spread for the 4 losses was 4 (Nevada), 3 (UNLV), 9 (Fresno State) and 1 (Hawaii).  All 4 losses were within our grasp, but a loss is a loss.  Will next year yield the same without change or major adjustment?

Finally, I doubt, strongly, that any bowl is interested in us given our sloppy end to a promising season.  Perhaps such polite decline is the ultimate motivator during spring ball, 2019.

 

Consecutive MWC losses since I don’t know when.  Perhaps that is a good sign.

Hanging zeros in the third and fourth quarters is proof of a struggling offense.  We gained 64 yards on the ground the entire evening.  Our struggle to block continues.  Additionally, the offense created a paltry 8 first downs the entire game.  No offense stays on the field long enough to score with that few first downs.  The only good offensive news was SDSU receivers averaging 27.2 yards per completion.  Between Christian and Ryan, 8 passes were completed.  Each lays claim to 4.  Spread the mediocrity to equal measure.  Look!  We are both crappy.

Congrats to the defense for keeping the Bulldogs far under their offensive average.  Kyahva Tezino (15 tackles) and Parker Baldwin (14 tackles) gave me a reason to continue watching the game.  At least we had the decency to sack Mr. McMaryion 3 times while he enjoyed a 17/24/267 night.

Fred Trevillion had his best game by far with a line of 4/189 and 2 scores.  Maybe he can repeat that line against Hawaii.

If you did not notice, Hawaii is tied with us for third place in the West.  Saturday night, we arrive ready to play or we end the MWC season with a rough 4-4 record.  Bowl eligible is not the same as an invitation.

7-4/4-3.

 

The Aztec offensive line needs to re-engage, recommit, re-organize.  Pound and ground is missing.  We rush for a grand total of 89 yards against an awful defensive team.  Juwan Washington was doing all the work to no avail.  The big boys need to return to a grand scale of pushing, shoving and being generally unpleasant for an entire football game, not a half or a quarter.

The Rebels wanted the game more than we did.  They arrived ready to play.  We meandered and wandered, especially during the first half.  To surrender a 24-13 lead and allow UNLV to score twice in the fourth quarter is testament to lackadaisical play and misplaced confidence.  Thomas Lexington breaking away for a 75 yard touchdown run carried the twin of ruining the Aztecs winning the West Division.  His line of 21/133 is to be applauded.  Sadly.

I disagree with Jeff and Rocky pulling Christian Chapman with 10:30 remaining in the second quarter.  Mr. Chapman was sporting a 8/10 for 92 yards effort when yanked.  I don’t buy the “more mobility” reason.  Projecting his 20 minutes of play throughout the rest of the game equates to 24 completed passes.  Ryan Agnew registered 14/26/187 accented by 3 sacks.  So much for “more mobility”.

Returning to UNLV’s effort, the Aztec’s first play of the game from scrimmage summed the game:  UNLV linebackers mugging Mr. Washington deep in his own backfield.  Again and again.  The aforementioned 3 sacks destroyed sustained Aztec offensive momentum.  The Rebels wanted the win and provided a game’s worth of effort.  Us, not so much.

Congrats to Ethan Dedeaux (7/63) and Tim Wilson (5/123 and 2 touchdowns).  Brandon Heicklen had another quality game featuring 4 punts for an average of 43 yards.  3 of the 4 landed inside the twenty-yard line.  Well done and great improvement compared to last year.

John Barron missing from 34 . . . if he makes the kick, we play from a 27-27 tie.  Indicative of the Aztecs evening.

Onward to Fresno.  May pound and ground make a timely return.  Otherwise could be a long night.

7-3/4-2.

 

Our offense is best described as procrastinating.  We wait and wait.  Score enough to hang around.  Wait some more.  You know what is fun?  Three downs and a punt.  Let’s do that a few times.  Wait.  Then we finally score enough to win.  Rocky’s brain must want to explode.  I sometimes wonder if Jeff Horton turns complete beach on Rocky and whispers, “Dude, we’ll get there.  I totally promise.”

Down 9 points with ten minutes remaining had me leaning towards the unthinkable loss at Albuquerque.  This cannot be.  And, thankfully, was not as the Aztec offense tumbled, rolled and generally fell forward for 17 points via Kahale Warring’s 19 yard catch, John Barron’s 32 yard field goal and Juwan Washington’s 50 yard td run.  Thank you, one and all.

Speaking of Mr. Washington, welcome back to both he and Christian Chapman.  Mr. Washington had a tidy line of 95 yards for 8.6 ypc.  Mr. Chapman was 13/19 without an interception.  As economical as ever.  Though, I’m not complaining.

The Aztec defense was once again superb.  Kyahva Tezino had a fantastic night:  12 tackles including 2.5 sacks.  The Aztec defense dropped the Lobos quarterback 6 times.  They held the Lobos running backs to an average of 2.7 yards per rush, 4.6 yards per completion (now that is impressive) and Lobo offense to only 142 total yards.  Tayler Hawkins enjoyed his first start at the Warrior position while Luq Barcoo made his first pick of the year.

Other first time starts belonged to Isiah Macklin and Elijah Kothe at the wide receiver spots.  Well done.  Tim Wilson had 3 catches for 63 yards leading the way for all Aztec receivers who caught a total of 17 balls for 240 yards.  Not bad.

The winner of this week’s who-can-catch-and-advance-a-punt contest was Garrett Binkley.  He caught 4 for 54 yards which is lightyears ahead of all other efforts not involving Juwan Washington.

Who was the guy on the LSU campus with the John Barron for Heisman sign?  Best moment of the year on ESPN’s national pre-game show.

Three games remain.

7-2/4-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

 

We started as the proverbial house afire.  Two sustained drives of 12 plays and 75 yards followed by 8 plays and 80 yards.  14 points.  I’m thinking the offense finally arrives.

Not so.

Yet, the Aztecs were seemingly dominant.  24 first downs to Nevada’s 14.  173 yards rushing to their mere 62.  Even Ryan Agnew posted better numbers than Ty Gangi:  283 passing yards and 3 tds compared to 235 yards and 2 tds.  Tell me those facts before the game and I’m looking at win number 7, not loss number 2.

Chance Bell (5.2 ypc) continues to impress.  He makes Chase Jasmin (5.3 ypc) a better runner.  Nothing like competition to fan the flames of playing time.  Congrats to Kahale Warring for an evening of 6/95 and 2 tds.  Brandon Heicklen punted the air out of the football.  6 punts for an average of 44.8 including one at the Wolf Pack 4 yard line.

Jordan Byrd dropping the punt and returning all punts for 4 lousy yards needs to be fixed.  Now.

A by and large lucky season to date given the number of freshmen and redshirt freshmen on the field at the skill positions of wide receiver and running back.  The kids have logged major minutes during the course of the season.  Granted, when Juwan Washington returns, the march of underclassmen at the running back spot stops.  While Ryan Agnew has performed admirably, I want Christian Chapman to start against UNM.  Work out the rust long before the Fresno State game.

6-2/3-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

I don’t know if we are lucky or good.  Maybe a bit of both.  Nevertheless, this game was heavy to the yuck factor.

Thank God for John Barron.  The game winner from 51 yards out (or 52 depending who you listen to) was the perfect final score to a game featuring incompetent offense.  The Aztec offensive line was marginal.  Far too much SJSU pressure was delivered to Ryan Agnew.  He scrambled like eggs on a Saturday morning.  The Spartan defense was camped in the Aztec backfield causing lost yards snap after snap on behalf of Chase Jasmin, Chance Bell and Kaegun Williams (don’t fumble and you get to play).  Ryan Agnew was, again, pedestrian.  His 7/11 featured a miraculous 12.3 yards per catch.  How is that possible?

The Aztec defense saved the night.  Especially holding San Jose State on 4th and 2 deep in the fourth quarter.  Tariq Thompson’s interception highlight was the 41 yards he advanced the ball.  SJSU averaged 1.8 yards per rush and registered only 295 total yards for the evening.  Josh Love posted the most ineffective 26/36 effort of any quarterback this season.  All for a paltry 215 yards passing.  Without a touchdown.  If Ryan Agnew or Christian Chapman ever threw the ball 36 times in a game, I would assume that Jeff Horton was not on the field.

A tip of the hat to Brandon Heicklen averaging 41.8 yards per punt.  Sorely needed and thank you.

Congrats to Damon Moore, Tayler Hawkins, Connor Mitchell, Chance Bell (I like what I see.  He should be “the guy” until Juwan Washington returns) and Daniel Bellinger logging minutes that mattered at game’s end.

6-1/3-0.  Bowl eligible.  Rocky coaches his 100th game as a head coach.  And wins.  Courtesy of a kicker he actually talks to on the sidelines.

“Can you make a fifty harder?”

“Sure.”

“Let’ go.”

Go, Aztecs.