Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

 

Ugly was pretty.  Who knew?

The first half featured the Aztec offense wondering what game was played?  Hockey?  Softball?  Tennis?  Why is the ball weirdly shaped?  We could not have looked and played with more incompetency.  Bad is a compliment.  Seemingly, false starts were the order of the day.  We had, I don’t know, 14, 26, 37 false starts.  Sure, I exaggerate, but my point of an absent offense is well taken.  You are welcome.

The good news:  We won.  Fred Trevillion caught the first pass thrown to him.  And did not have a single drop the entire game.  New horizons for Fred.  Chase Jasmin gained the most grueling 78 yards of his life.  He left the game limping (not good news).  His pinball bounce move in the fourth quarter set up Jordan Byrd’s 72 yard run.  Without Chase reversing course, a different outcome emerges.  Kobe Smith can catch punts.  Luq Barcoo is good.  Depth charts don’t mean much to Rocky.  Darren Hall, Connor Mitchell and Damon Moore enjoyed many minutes on the field.  Darren recorded a pick and Damon a sack.  Zidane Thomas had two carries (his first carry was during our third offensive possession of the game.  You think I don’t notice).  He is the fifth running back on the almighty chart.  Who needs starters?

God bless, John Barron.  Without him, we are an average football team hanging our hat on fourth and whatever.

In addition to Darren Hall’s interception, I applaud Tariq Thompson and Ronley Lakalaka for good hands.  Kyahva Tezino will provide nightmares for Brett Rypien the remainder of the season.  Kyahva delivered many a body shiver.  Brandon Heicklen was booming the ball.  He averaged 44.9 yards on 8 punts.  Well done.

I was surprised by Boise not attempting an onside kick after the missed extra point with 5:07 remaining.  Thank you, Boise coaching staff.

As for the numbers, the Aztec defense held Boise to an average of 2.9 yards per play.  Boise had 2 rushing yards at the end of the first quarter.  At the half, they had a total of 72 yards of offense.  The Broncos ballyhooed passing game stalled at 8.1 yards per catch and a slight 178 yards for the game.  If I told you before kickoff that the Aztecs would have 9 first downs and 267 yards of total offense, you would have asked, “Did we lose by two or three touchdowns?”

Thank you, Rocky.

4-1/1-0.

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

SDSU West: Final Thoughts

Posted: October 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

SDSU West developed in full sun light.  Soccer City tried desperately to avoid the ballot, at best wanting a special election, thankfully denied by the San Diego City Council.  Numerous private discussions with Mayor Faulconer ultimately proved a waste of time.

SDSU expanding campus into Mission Valley allows the school to accept thousands of more students and graduate thousands of more students.  These young men and women enter the California work force educated and making above average salaries that in turn make our state’s economy grow.  SDSU West generates long-term economic health for decades to come.  Additionally, the university’s expansion requires more professors, academic support staff and administration to join the current SDSU work force of 42,000, which strengthens the tax base of San Diego.

Speaking of tax, SDSU West relies on zero tax payer support.  None.  Nada.  Zip.

SDSU committed more than 50% (approximately 85 acres) of the site purchase to open space via the creation of a San Diego River park, biking/hiking trails, community parks and recreation fields.  Soccer City does not have a legal obligation to develop a river park. Options rather than written commitment dominate their ideas about the development of open space.  Options that lead to little green area development other than two benches under a tree.  Wiggle room carries the day for Soccer City.

FS Investors purposefully underestimated the daily traffic generated by their retail dominated development.  FS Investors claimed daily traffic at 71,500 trips while SANDAG estimated a minimum of 97,000 daily auto excursions through Mission Valley.  Miscalculating by 25,500 (or 36%) daily auto trips is pure misrepresentation.  I suppose such gross miscalculation is never seen regarding FS Investors long-term planning.  I cannot imagine a FS Investor board member shrugging his shoulders at a meeting discussing revenue when an error of 36% is discovered.

Remember the Chargers?  The good years and all that traffic.  Imagine that four-wheel nightmare on a daily basis.  I give you Soccer City on a daily basis.  SDSU West is projected to generate daily traffic trips of 60,440 or 38% fewer trips compared to Soccer City.  Retail lives 365 days.  Imagine the grind of traffic during the holidays and summer.  The heaviest traffic load SDSU West will create is the Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. rush to class.  Remember, SDSU hits the traffic snooze button during the summer and about six weeks from December to January.

Consider the inevitable slowing economy or recession.  740,00 square feet of Soccer City retail themed development crumbles into a hollow shell of empty businesses, vacant parking lots and the formerly employed of Soccer City looking for work elsewhere.  Horton Plaza serves as a fine wreck of an example of too much retail during economic contraction.  The mere idea that Soccer City is retail dependent gives cause for pause in a city loaded with technology companies and the associated well paid work force.  A sales associate at a jewelry store instead of a technological entrepreneur?  Since when?  Which is best for San Diego?

FS Investors does not have a Major League Soccer team at the ready to deposit in their stadium.  By the way, that stadium has a mandated construction date of 2025!  They push the stadium as a center piece of Soccer City.  Yet, they seem prepared to keep the tools in the shed for a number of years.  They must admit that expanding their soccer stadium to meet the needs of Aztec football is limited and most definitely unlikely.  FS Investors is a business.  What benefit do they receive by altering their soccer stadium to placate SDSU’s desire for increased seating during football games that brings no revenue to FS Investors?

Contrast the definitely-maybe Soccer City approach to stadium building to SDSU’s much spoken, much researched and much desired need for a stadium.  Do note, that university officials, while desirous of a football stadium, do not view the stadium as the center piece of SDSU West development.  The stadium is part of the proposal.  Not the proposal.  SDSU has generated and made public their vision of a football stadium.  SDSU has a football team ready to use the stadium.  SDSU does not need to search for a team to place inside the stadium as does Soccer City.

SDSU is a research based university.  Acquiring $134 million in research funding and grants during the 2017/18 academic year does not happen by accident.  No other Cal State campus comes close and one-third of UC campuses do not secure as much funding.  SDSU has accessed similar amounts of research funding dating back to 2015.  In recent years, SDSU’s Campaign raised $815 million for campus wide funding.  The school produces more than $457 million in state and local taxes.  Expanding SDSU into Mission Valley makes these dollars grow substantially.  As FS Investors will tell you, this is all about the money.

 

 

 

 

Aztecs 28, Sac State 14

Posted: September 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

So much ugly, so little time.

We were lucky.  Sacramento State was looking like Eastern Illinois and Cal Poly SLO.  We were looking at 0-2.  Thankfully, we decided to play football the entire fourth quarter.

The offensive line disappointed consecutive games.  More sustained pushing and shoving is needed.  Juwan Washington rushing 36 times for an average of 4.3 yards per carry is an indication of an anemic o-line.

Christian Chapman is likely to miss the Arizona State game.  Ryan Agnew filled in admirably.  11/17/159 is a productive half of football.  Sure, the two picks kept Sac State in the game, but the Aztec defense allowed one score, rather than two, off the interceptions.

Ethan Dedeaux, Kahale Warring and Tim Wilson, Jr. made the most of their 6, 3 and 3 receptions.  211 of the evening’s total of 271 yards receiving were due to their talents.  Not bad and something to build on.

God bless John Barron.  Without his 52 and 32 yard scores, the first half is absolutely miserable.

Speaking of miserable, the Aztec defense held the Hornets to 1.7 yards per rush and a mere 234 yards of total offense.

Disaster averted.  Arizona State is next.  At least we are at home.

1-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

Fear not, a post-Penny letdown will not occur.

I will start with the offense.

Christian Chapman (sr) is the equivalent of a hard working spouse who never misses a day of work, remembers anniversaries and birthdays, enjoys a beer on a hot day and always wears sunscreen.  At times his average passing numbers frustrate me, but I counsel myself with the fact he is mostly mistake free and wins.  This year’s back-up is junior Ryan Agnew (a man waiting his turn if there ever was) or redshirt freshmen Mark Salazar.

Juwan Washington (jr) is a mix of Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny.  A-la Pumphrey, Juwan can do the excuse-me-pardon-me side step routine or he can bowl you over and leave foot prints on your chest.  His choice.  The #2 back is a contest between Chase Jasmin (so), Chance Bell (r-fr) and Kaegun Williams (r-fr).  However, I would not be surprised to see Jeff Horton take a look at freshmen Zidane Thomas and Jordan Byrd during the Sacramento State and Eastern Michigan games.  I find Mr. Thomas to be the most intriguing of all those standing behind Mr. Washington.

For the first time since Rocky Long’s Aztec coaching tenure, a duo of fullbacks may enjoy the smacking of opposing linebackers and defensive backs.  Isaac Lessard (jr) will enjoy most of the snaps.  Chad Woolsey (sr) moves to the fullback spot on behalf of depth, talent and options for Jeff Horton.

And now, the ever under achieving wide receivers.  Hunkie Cooper gets these guys to block like linemen, now is the long overdue moment to get them to CATCH A PASS!  Fred Trevillion (sr) is far too fond of dropping his first attempt.  When Fred did hold on to a Christian Chapman toss, he averaged an eye-popping 27 yards per catch.  Sadly, that happened a mere 12 times in 2017.  Tim Wilson (so) and Isiah Macklin (so) are likely partners opposite Mr. Trevillion.  If these three disappoint, coach Cooper has 13 other wide receivers to choose from in the never-ending attempt to CATCH A PASS!

Speaking of catching passes, thank goodness for tight ends.  Juniors Kahale Warring and Parker Houston form the best tight end duo in the MWC.  Much catching and running forward awaits.

The Aztec offensive line will be the best in conference and top-5 west of the Rockies (in 2019, I will move that claim to the Mississippi River).  Tyler Roemer (so), Daishawn Dixon (jr), Dominic Gudino (so), Keith Ismael (so) and Ryan Pope (sr) will pound, push, shove and smack from left to right.  I expect Nick Gerhard (jr), Kyle Spalding (so) and Zachary Thomas (so) to push for playing time.  Please note, Ryan Pope is the only senior in that sizable (pun intended) group.  Offensive line coach Mike Schmidt sleeps well.

Now to the other side.  Rocky’s side.

Noble Hall (sr) returns to nose guard.  He will be the anchor to the swirl of Damon Moore (sr), Chibu Onyeukwu (sr), Myles Cheatum (jr), Anthony Luke (sr) and Josh Robinett (so).  Look forward to the fury.

The linebacker spot is loaded as usual.  Leading tackler from 2017, Ronley Lakalaka (jr) will start with Kyahva Tezino (jr) and Andrew Aleki (so).  Substantial minutes await Troy Cassidy (jr), Kaelin Himphill (so) and Josh Bringuel (so).  One to watch is Seyddrick Lakalaka (r-fr), brother of Ronley.

The back five will be Parker Baldwin (sr and #2 tackler from 2017), Ron Smith (jr), Tariq Thompson (so and likely candidate to intercept more passes than Damontae Kazee), Jeff Clay (jr) and Kyree Woods (jr) or Trenton Thompson (so).  In the mix is Tayler Hawkins (so), Garett Binkley (jr), Will Stricklin II (so) and Jeff Chaney (jr).  This group is experienced and deep.

The kicking game belongs to the ultra-confident John Barron II (sr).  I do not look forward to his departure at the end of this season.

The punting efforts of Brandon Heicklen must improve in 2018.  Mr. Heicklen was as consistent as a distracted five-year old in the cereal aisle.

Doug Deakin and Richard Sanchez join the coaching staff.  These two gentlemen have the sizable task of keeping the special teams to the considerable level established by Bobby Hauck.  No small duty.

The usual and frustrating challenge of putting butts in the seats remains.  Granted, attendance has improved during Rocky’s tenure.  But, the creep towards averaging a minimum of 35,000 fans is vexing.

Wins will total a minimum of 8 or a maximum of 12.  Consecutive bowl game #9 awaits.

Go, Aztecs.