The inevitable finally arrives.  Dean Spanos leaves San Diego and takes the Chargers with him.  This was as likely as a slow commute on the 5.

Mr. Spanos is worth approximately $2.5 billion.  That is a lot of millions to get to those billions.  Yet, Mr. Spanos refused to gather his bankers, use his lines of credit and reach into his deep, cavernous wallet to self-finance the stadium of his choice.  Rather, Mr. Spanos insisted that San Diego’s hotels and motels finance his downtown dream stadium via a tax increase to be demanded of visitors flocking to America’s finest city.  Of course, the San Diego voting public said, “Nay”.  After all, Arizona folk need an affordable place to stay during the summer.

Mr. Spanos’ best bet was to remain in Mission Valley, knock down the Q and build a shiny new stadium a few feet away.  Alas, this practical resolution was not his dream.  Now the moving vans and trucks are full of football gear, Spanos’ household goods and the disappointment of Chargers’ fans.  The last item is quite heavy.

56 years and adios.  Love ya, miss ya, bye.

Mr. Spanos chose to pay a $550 million relocation fee, host NFL football in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium for a minimum of two years, pray that Chargers fans motor north for three hours to watch bad football and three hours south to complain about bad football, become a tenant-renter-occupant of the Rams for who knows how many years and in the end fail as a L.A. franchise, thus forced into some forsaken section of Orange County.

Now for the good news.

San Diego State University football is no longer attached to the coattails of the San Diego Chargers.  Aztec football journeys alone and is relieved to do so.

SDSU has long embraced the proposal of reshaping Mission Valley.  166 acres of cracked asphalt can at last be transformed into SDSU West, livable space and sizable green belt.  As for the Q, renovate or build a smaller version.  Either option works.

Regarding the expansion of SDSU as a university, I dismiss the morons who have yet to discover or acknowledge that the university engages in biological research, embraces engineering and interdisciplinary sciences and has risen in national academic stature dating back to the days of Dr. Stephen Weber as president of the university and carried forth by Dr. Elliot Hirshman.  SDSU entering Mission Valley offers substantial opportunity to the city, county and regional economy.

Yet, let me not drift from Aztec football.  Whether we partner with the rumored Major League Soccer franchise (paraphrasing the MLS commissioner Dan Garber, “San Diego is more attractive to us” given the Chargers exit) or enjoy the support (money) of the city and county of San Diego accompanied by the influence of CSU and the state legislature leading to an exclusive SDSU football stadium, one is the other.

As for athletic director John David Wicker’s concern regarding seating capacity of 30,000 in the instance of MLS partnership in a new or renovated stadium, let me remind him that portable seating sections have been in use at the Q for decades, so employ that, um, technology to boost Aztec seating to 35,000.  Revolutionary.

The Chargers bolting (sorry, could not resist) provides a rare opportunity for Aztec football.  The long-held complaint of we-need-a-campus-based-football-stadium is soon to be addressed and solved.  The reality of an Aztec football stadium also opens doors long closed to, at the very least, actual consideration of joining another conference.  No, I’m not stating that any such invitation is in the near future.  But, the business of conference realignment is nowhere near complete.  The photo of division one football in 2016 will not resemble the near future reality of division one football as ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC broadcasting contracts begin to expire.  SDSU football will be best served with a stadium home to Aztec football.

Here’s to the immediate future.

 

 

 

This is an application of my 2016 player development rating.  To follow are specific individuals within the baseball franchises of San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles who are most likely to earn a roster spot at the end of spring training or enjoy a pre-July summons to the big club.

Padres:  A.J. “I Never Lie.  Just Ask Me” Preller may as well extend a middle finger to the free-agency market.  Padres fans are weary of the poor winter signings and subsequent bad play at Petco.  Additionally, Mr. Preller suffers from a lack of honesty when engaging in trading Padres or Padres-to-be, thus I’m guessing his phone does not ring, buzz or scuttle across his desk enough to notice.  What to do?  I know.  Use the sizable pool of talent developed the last three years.

Austin Hedges and Rocky Gale could form a functional trio of defensive catchers once they join Christian Bethancourt (by the way, the mere notion of making him an eighth inning guy or closer, as discussed within the Padres organization, is idiotic).  All three have better than average toss rates and would incline would be base stealers to think twice.  If any of the three hits .240/.330 and tosses baserunners to the tune of 33%, success!

As for the infield positions, Hector Sanchez and Patrick Kivlehan both posted above average AAA numbers in 2016.  Why not share the first base spot until one proves better than the other?  The price, major league minimum salary, is certainly right.  Or would Padres fans rather see the 2017 James Loney resurrection occur in San Diego?  Carlos Asuaje and Nick Noonan could turn two at El Paso.  Turn two in MLB.  Ryan Schimpf played 51 games in AAA during 2016, and he had a fine introduction to San Diego during his two-thirds of the schedule stay.  He and third base seem a good fit.

Jon Jay leaving San Diego for greener pastures is proof enough that signing fourth outfielders to create a core of three is shortsighted at best and reeks of bad decision making at worst (probably the latter is a better explanation).  Alex Dickerson, Nick Torres, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jabari Blash, and Luis Tejada should enjoy extended play during the month of March in an effort to choose five to live in San Diego April forward.

Sadly, pitching isn’t as loaded as the 2-9 spots.  Andrew Lockett is the best bet to land a starting rotation gig.  Aaron Northcraft needs another year as does Seth Simmons and Kyle Lloyd.  However, if the 2017 Padres resemble the 2016 Padres, Mr. Northcraft, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Lloyd will enjoy an August 1st plane ride to San Diego.

The bullpen is similar.  Perhaps Kyle McGrath makes the team in March.  Phil Maton and Elliot Ashbeck enter AA ball  and A+ ball respectively in 2017.  At least the future possesses bullpen help.

I hope that Padres management recognizes the strategy (I’m kind) of the last few years has been, um, ineffective and highly disappointing to the point of despair.  Rather than throw good money after drowsy, disinterested, unmotivated, sloths of seasons gone by, let’s have fun with the kids.  You can’t do worse than 68-94.  I promise.

Angels:  This will be brief because the Angels have become pedestrian in player development.

Let me state that trading Jeff Bandy was shortsighted (dumb).  However, Jose Briceno and his 58%(!!!!) AA toss rate may be enough to convince Mike Scioscia to consider his arm in Anaheim sooner rather than later.

Ji-Man Choi returns to first base.  Why?  Because the Angels don’t have any other options at first.  No other in-house infield options exist.

Michael Hermosillo is the best 2-9 player in the Angels system.  He begins 2017 in AA ball.  Rushing him to Anaheim would be a poor decision.  2018, he likely arrives.  Prepare to be impressed.

Tyler Carpenter is the only impressive starter of note in system.  He will be Mr. Hermosillo’s teammate in AA in 2017.

Tyler DeLoach is the most likely bullpen candidate to arrive in 2017.  He begins the year in Salt Lake City.  A good couple of months means real meal money awaits him at the Big A.

Dodgers:  Andrew Friedman saw the boat fire that constituted the L.A. development system.  He pushed that boat into the Pacific, then bought a new boat, sails and oars.  Much better.

Granted, the Dodgers aren’t the Padres, but L.A. has a substantial amount of home-grown talent from which to choose and a patient manager, Saint Dave Roberts (2004.  A particular stolen base.  Heaven smiles, the Sox beat the Yankees and win a World Series) to guide said youngsters.  Who, you ask?

Austin Barnes is ready for a full-time catching slot.  Sure his bat is better than his arm, but a hitting catcher is rare and to behold.  Shawn Zarraga is on Mr. Barnes heels, and sports an impressive toss rate of 43% last year in AA.

Matt Beatty and Mike Ahmed both had impressive years in A+ ball, thus they are likely two years out.  This may coincide with the contractual expiration of Adrian Gonzalez.  Willie Calhoun had a good year in AA ball.  He stands a chance to make the squad as an extra infielder or perhaps even start at second.  Rod Segedin can play either corner.  His 2016 Oklahoma City numbers were impressive.

The L.A. outfield, always a problem for the Dodgers, may include Andrew Toles (a substantial talent), Cody Bellinger and/or Andrew Verdugo.

I view Julio Urias as a prospect, not a proven MLB starter.  2017 will determine does he stay in L.A. or does he rent in Oklahoma City.  Brock Stewart had 2016 AAA numbers comparable to Mr. Urias.  Either could land as the #4 and/or #5 starter given the calamities that usually infect Dodger starting pitching.

Grant Dayton enjoyed a call up to L.A. given exceptional AAA bullpen numbers.  He should stick in 2017.  Gus Schlosser was the victim of a 2016 rush job to L.A.  His AAA numbers are best described as “yuk” while his AA numbers were off the chart.  A good April and May in Oklahoma City should result in a proper return to L.A.  Caleb Dirks begins 2017 in AAA, but he could easily enjoy the friendly confines of dilapidated Dodger Stadium by July.

MLB Player Development, 2016

Posted: December 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

My preamble:

I rate MLB player development from A to AAA ball.  Why not A- and Rookie ball?  I do not rate 18 and 19 year olds.  Tis exhausting and beyond speculative.

Age matters.  I will not rate Will Venable no matter what kind of year he had in AAA.

I will not rate a 22 year old in AA ball who strikes out 30% of his at-bats.  I don’t care if he hits 27/80 in 430 abs.  Curing strike outs at the major league level does not happen.

Speaking of maladies, I rarely rate a pitcher (starter or closer) who walks more than 3 batters per 9 innings.  And by more than 3 , I mean 3.1, 3.2.  You get the idea.  That disease becomes raging fever against major league hitters.  Ask Kevin Quackenbush.

I do not track trades during the rating process.  Thus, if you read of a traded minor leaguer listed with the team who raised him and traded him, now you know.

I rate on a scale of 1 (worst) to 4 (best).

Here we go.

A.L

Seattle (3.8).  Go ahead.  Laugh.  Four years ago, Houston caught my attention.  If your club needs a catcher, call Seattle.  From A ball to AAA, eight guys made the grade.  All eight, less Mike Zunino, had 2016 toss rates of at least 33% with two guys, Daniel Torres (A+) and James Alfonso (A), above 40%.  The only 2-9 spot that did not rate at least a 3 was left field (ranked a 2).  All other positions are a 3 or 4.

The M’s pitching, starting and relief, both rated 4.  All starting prospects are AAA and AA with a splash of Show experience in 2016.  Relief prospects, less one, are also found in AAA and AA.

Watch List:  Marcus Littlewood (c, AAA, AA), Kyle Petty (1b, A+), Mike Freeman (2b, MLB, AAA), Adam Law (3b, AA), Guillermo Heredia (cf, MLB, AAA, AA), Braden Bishop (cf, A), Stefen Romero (rf, MLB, AAA), Tyler O’Neill (rf, AA), Edwin Diaz (starter, MLB, AA.  He skipped AAA), Andrew Kittredge (relief, AAA, AA), Steve Johnson (relief, MLB, AAA) and Jake Zokan (relief, A+).

NYY  (3.5).  Loaded at every position less second base and short.  Catching, first base and all outfield spots are especially deep and brimming with talent.  Of course, the eternal NYY challenge is not to trade talent for the Chase Headley of the future (enough said).  By the way, if Gary Sanchez gets lazy, don’t worry.  Kyle Higashioka (AA) and Francisco Diaz (AA, A+) are ready.

Starting pitching and relief is the best in the A.L. and possibly all of MLB.  Much like the Mariners, all starters, less one, are AA and up.  Relievers are all AAA and AA with the occasional cup of coffee in the Bronx during 2016.

Watch List:  Tyler Austin (1b, MLB, AAA), Billy Fleming (1b, A+), Chris Gittens 1b, A), Donovan Solano (he’s 28.  Now is the time.  2b, MLB, AAA), Miguel Andujar (3b, A+), Ben Gamel (cf, MLB, AAA), Chad Green (starter, MLB, AAA), Luis Severino (post an 8-1 record by appearing in 13 AAA games, and you remain a minor league pitching prospect), Dan Camarena (starter, AA), Chance Adams (starter, AA, A+) James Kaprielian (starter, A+), Nick Goody (relief, MLB, AAA.  Lots of ability.  So NY trades him), Giovanny Gallegos (relief, AAA, AA), Jonathan Holder (relief, MLB, AAA, AA) and Travis Hissong (relief, AA, A+, A.  Mr. Hissong is the best of the lot).

Houston (3.5).  The annual reminder that their A+ club is in Lancaster, CA where the wind blows and offensive numbers soar accordingly.  Consider the reverse on behalf of A+ pitching prospects.

All 2-9 positions rated either a 3 or 4.  A deep list at catcher, first, second, center and right.

Starting pitching features Joseph Musgrove and a host of other impressive mound men (an original.  You are welcome).  Relief was thin, rating a mere 2.  This is the only weak spot in the Houston organization.

Watch List:  Garrett Stubbs (c, AA, A+), A.J. Reed (1b, MLB, AAA), Tony Kemp (2b, MLB, AAA), Alex Bergman (ss, MLB, AAA, AA), Teoscar  Hernandez (rf, MLB, AAA, AA), Preston Tucker (rf, MLB, AAA), Myles Straw (rf, A+, A), the above mentioned Mr. Musgrove (starter, MLB, AAA, AA), David Paulino (starter, MLB, AAA – a mere 14 ip – and AA), Trent Thompson (starter, AA, A+) and Brendan McCurry (relief, AA).

Minnesota (2.9).  See my Seattle comment.  Much improved development.  Less first and third, the other positions rated 3 or 4.

Starting pitching is the deepest since I have rated development (I’m sure the Minnesota organization is thrilled).  Relief rated a 3, but only because of three talented relievers with one each at AAA, AA and A+.  Otherwise a 2 would have been the result.

Watch List:  Mitch Garver (c, AAA, AA), Luis Arraez (2b, A), Nelson Molina (3b, A), Nick Gordon (ss, A+), Lamonte Wade (lf, A+, A), Byron Buxton (cf, MLB,  AAA.  2017 is the year, Mr. Buxton.  You must make the club in March and produce), Eddie Rosario (cf, MLB, AAA), Zach Granite (cf, AA), Felix Jorge (starter, A+), Fernando Romero (starter, A+), J.T. Chargois (relief, MLB,  AAA), Trevor Hildenberger (relief, AA) and Nick Anderson (relief, A+, A).

Boston (2.9).  A lack of development with third basemen and relievers prevented the Sox from a 3.0 rating.  A solid group at catcher, second (trading Yoan Moncada did little to drain the depth at second) and right.

Starting pitching is above average while the relief corps was average with a tad too many A+ guys making the grade which indicates a lack of depth at AAA and AA.

Watch List:  Jake Romanski (c, AA), Luis Alejandro Basabe (2b, A), Marco Hernandez (ss, MLB, AAA.  Now that Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada are Brewers, Mr. Hernandez has an opportunity to stay in Fenway), Mauricio Dubon (ss, AA and A+), Andrew Benintendi (cf, Boston, AAA and A+.  An extended stay in Boston does not make a starting outfielder.  Though, more than likely, yeah), Aneury Tavarez (rf, AA), Eduardo Rodriguez (see the Luis Severino comments.  Mr. Rodriguez made 7 starts and threw 38 innings at Pawtucket.  Time to stick in Fenway), Aaron Wilkerson (starter, AAA and AA) and Justin Haley (starter, AAA and AA, but I believe he was taken in the Rule 5 draft).

Oakland (2.9).  Thank their pitching prospects.  Without those two groups, the A’s would rate a 2.1.  Little to nobody at second and short.  Third is thin.  Catching, first and center have the most talent.

Starting pitching is deep, deep, deep.  The first nine are all AAA with time in the Bigs during 2016.  Relief is layered nicely from AAA to AA to A+.

Watch List:  Bruce Maxwell (c, MLb, AAA), Andy Paz (c, AA), Ryon Healy (1b, MLB, AAA, AA.  He’s good), James Harris (cf, A+), Mike Martin (cf, A), Raul Alcantara (starter, MLB, AAA), Jharel Cotton (starter, MLB, AAA ), Daniel Coulombe (relief, MLB, AAA), Andrew Triggs (relief, MLB, AAA) and Cody Stull (relief, A+).

Toronto (2.7).  Five solid prospects at first and third.  Catching, second and right are above average with the other positions thin.

Starting pitching is average.  Bullpen development is promising.

Watch List:  Jesus Montero (1b, MLB, AAA), Rowdy Tellez (1b, AA), Ryan McBroom (1b, A+), Jason Leblebijian (3b, AA, A+), Emilio Guerrero (3b, A+ and perhaps the best of the five), Richard Urena (ss, A+), Sean Reid-Foley (starter, A+), Danny Barnes (relief, MLB, AAA, AA), Aaron Loup (relief, MLB, AAA), Matt Dermody (relief, MLB, AAA, AA, A+.  Extraordinary progress in a single season) and Colton Turner (relief, A+).

Detroit (2.5).  Strong at catcher, first and left.  Average at second, short and right.  Nobody at third.  If Jacoby Jones develops in center, the position is above average.  If he has another horrible year in AAA, group center with second, short and right.

Starting pitching rated a 3 while relief development barely hit a 1.  Boo.

Watch List:  John Hicks (c, MLB, AAA), Arvicent Perez (c, A), Dean Green (1b, AAA, AA), Will Maddox (1b, A) and Christian Stewart (lf, A+).

Baltimore (2.2.).  Starting pitching and first are average while third and short are woeful.  Talent is found at catcher and second.  The three outfield spots are above average.

Of the top ten rated starters, three are in A+.  Not good.  A+ is a long way from MLB.  Relief is solid, if unspectacular.

Watch List:  Chance Sisco (c, AA), Yermin Mercedes (c, A+, A), Aderlin Rodriguez (1b, A+), Corban Joseph (2b, MLB, AAA, AA) and Luis Gonzalez (relief, A+).

Tampa Bay (2.1).  Above average at catcher, first, center and left.  Average to below average at third, short and second.

Pitching development in the bullpen is awful.  One of the worst in the A.L., though two guys show promise, but are at least two years from arrival.  Starting pitching is average.

Watch List:  Armando Araiza (c, AA, A+), Brett Sullivan (c, A), Casey Gillaspie (1b, AAA, AA), Mike Mahtook (cf, MLB, AAA), Justin Williams (rf, A+), Brent Honeywell (starter, AA, A+), Kyle Bird (relief, A+, A) and Brian Miller (relief, A+).

Kansas City (2.1).  Pitching development saved the Royals from a sub 2 rating.  No development is found at third, shortstop and right field after the AAA level.  In the entire organization, one left fielder rated.  Catching, second and center are average.  First base is the only position with any depth and talent.

Starting pitching was deep at the AA level in 2016.  Relief candidates are many and talented.

Watch List:  Ryan O’Hearn (1b, AA, A+), Samir Duenez (1b, A+), Hunter Dozier (3b, MLB, AAA, AA), Jorge Bonifacio (rf, AAA), Daniel Stumpf (relief, MLB, AA.  Mr. Stumpf skipped AAA), Andrew Edwards (relief, AA) and Mark Peterson (relief, AA).

Anaheim (2.0).  Mostly average development at the 2-9 spots.  Catching and first are the only two bright spots.  Lots of A ball players made the grade, but A ball is distant.

Starting pitching rated a zero.  Awful.  Relief development is average.  Much like the 2-9 spots, a lot of A ball hopes.

Watch List:  Jeff Bandy (c, MLB, AAA, but recently traded.  Dumb), Ji-Man Choi (1b, MLB, AAA), Michael Hermosillo (cf, A+, A), Tyler Carpenter (starter, A+), Tyler DeLoach (relief, AA), Eduardo Parades (relief, A+), Kevin Grendell (relief, A), Adam Hofacket (relief, A) and Erick Alonzo (relief, A).  Remember, A ball pitchers appearing on a depth chart is not a sign of strength or depth.

Chicago (1.9).  First, left and center hold hope.  The rest, not so much.

Overall pitching development is by far the worse in the A.L.  Both starting and relief are woeful.

Watch List:  Alfredo Gonzalez (c, AA), Nick Delmonico (1b, AA), Leury Garcia (3b, MLB, AAA), Jason Coats (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Basto (3b, A+), Mason Robbins (rf, A+), Anthony Renaudo (starter, MLB, AAA), Matt Cooper (relief, AA, though he was a starter in A+ ball).

Texas (1.7).  Except for right field (loaded), not much to average.  Short and left are especially thin.

Pitching development is not as barren as the White Sox.  But close.

Watch List:  Juremi Profar (1b, A+), Scott Heineman (lf, A+), Jose Cardona (cf, A+), Eduardo Pinto (rf, AA, A.  He skipped A+ ball), Luke Tendler (rf, A+), Luis Ortiz (starter, A+), Adam Parks (relief, AA) and Nick Gardenwine (relief, A+).

Cleveland (1.6).  Center is the only above average position.  Catching and right rated a 2 while the other positions rated 1.  Yuck.

Both kinds of pitching development rated average.

Watch List:  Francisco Mejia (c, A+, A), Tyler Kriegel (2b, A+, A), Yandy Diaz (3b, AAA, AA), Greg Allen (cf, AA, A+), Nathan Lukes (cf, A), Connor Marabell (rf, A), Adam Plutko (starter, AAA, AA), David Speer (relief, A+) and Cole Sulser (relief, A+).

N.L.

Los Angeles (3.8).  Tremendous improvement.  Andrew Friedman quickly replenished the Dodgers from the bottom up.

Each 2-9 position earned a 4 less first base which received a 3.  Outstanding.  Twelve prospects at the 2-9 spots received the prized asterisk (my designation of players who have the best chance at enjoying a MLB career).  I know all twelve are giddy.

Starting pitching is deep and, no, Zach Lee did not make my list.  Good luck to Mr. Lee in San Diego.  All starting prospects are found in AAA and AA.  Relief is not as deep as starting pitching, but nonetheless above average.

Watch List:  Austin Barnes (c, MLB, AAA), Shawn Zarraga (c, AA), Will Smith (c, A+, A), Matt Beatty (1b, A+), Mike Ahmed (1b, A+), Willie Calhoun (2b, AA), Noah Perio (2b, A+), Rob Segedin (3b, MLB, AAA), Edwin Rios (3b, A+), Cody Bellinger (lf, AA), Andrew Toles (cf, MLB, AAA, AA, A+.  Impressive progress during the course of a single season), Andrew Verdugo (cf, AA), Julio Urias (starter, MLB, AAA), Brock Stewart (starter, MLB, AAA), Grant Dayton (relief, MLB, AAA), Gus Schlosser (relief, MLB, AAA, AA), Caleb Dirks (relief, AA).

Philadelphia (3.5).  Less third base, all 2-9 positions rated a 3 or 4.  A lot of depth at catcher, first and left.  Most spots have candidates at AAA, AA and A+.  Well done.

Pitching development is brimming with talent.  All rated starters are AAA or AA.

Watch List:  Jorge Alvaro (c, MLB, AA.  He skipped AAA), Chace Numata (c, A+), Tommy Joseph (1b, MLB, AAA).  Rhys Hoskins (1b, AA), Josh Tobias (2b, A and traded to Boston), Christian Marrero (lf, AA), Andrew Pullin (lf, AA), Dylan Cozens (rf, AA), Zack Coppola (rf, A+, A), Alec Asher (starter, MLB, AAA), Phil Klein (starter, MLB, AAA), Zach Elfin (starter, MLB, AAA), Ben Lively (starter, AAA, AA), Edubray Ramos (relief, MLB, AAA), Elvis Araujo (relief, MLB, AAA), Alexis Rivero (relief, A+), Jeff Singer (relief, A) and Grant Dyer (relief, A).

San Diego (3.3).  Fear not Padres fans, drafted and developed help is on the way.  Especially since g.m.’s are reluctant to trade with A.J. “The Truth” Preller.

Second base and short were the only average 2-9 positions while the rest rated 4.  Development is especially talented at the catching, first and left positions.

Sadly, starting pitching is woeful.  Relief is much stronger having rated above average.

Watch List:  Austin Hedges (c, MLB, AAA.  Potential plus), Austin Allen (c, A), Hector Sanchez (1b, MLB, AAA.  Another talented player), Patrick Kivlehan (1b, MLB, AAA), Carlos Asuaje (2b, AAA.  See Hedges and Sanchez), Ryan Schimpf (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Noonan (s, MLB, AAA), Alex Dickerson (lf, MLB, AAA), Nick Torres, (lf, AAA), Manuel Margot (cf, AAA), Michael Gettys (cf, A+, A), Hunter Renfroe (rf, AAA), Franmil Reyes, (rf, A+).  Any combination of Hedges, Sanchez, Asuaje, Schimpf, Noonan, Dickerson, Margot and Renfroe could easily make the team at the end of March.  Andrew Lockett, (starter, AA, A+, A), Kyle McGrath (relief, AA, A+), Phil Maton (relief, A+) and Elliot Ashbeck (relief, A).

St. Louis (3.1).  Less third, well done.  Strongest positions are first, second, left and center.

Starting pitching development is struggling.  A mere 2.  Relief rated above average.

Watch List:  Jose Godoy (c, A), Luke Voit (1b, AA), Breyvil Valera (2b, AAA.  The best 2-9 player in the organization), Casey Turgeon (lf, A+), David Washington (rf, AAA, AA), Luke Weaver (starter, MLB, AAA.  As talented as James Tailson of Pittsburgh) and Kevin Herget (relief, AA, A+).

San Francisco (3.1).  Most of the talent was at A+ ball in 2016.  Yet, unlike a lot of N.L. teams, at least talent was found.

Positions with depth are second, third, short, left and center.  The rest rated no worse than average.

Starting pitching prospects are deep while relief is above average.

Watch List:  Ali Castillo (2b, AAA, AA), Miguel Gomez (3b, A), Ruben Tejada (ss, MLB, AAA), Austin Slayer (lf, AAA, AA), Gorkys Hernandez (cf, MLB, AAA), Steven Duggar (cf, AA, A+), Dylan Davis (rf, A+, A), Ty Blach (starter, MLB, AAA), Joan Gregorio (starter, AA), Dan Slanta (starter, AA), Andrew Suarez (starter, A+), Carlos Alvarado (relief, AA), Tyler Rogers (relief, AA) and Preston Claiborne (relief, MLB, AA.  Skipped AAA).

Cincinnati (3.0).  Second, third, left and right rated 4.  Short and first rated above average.  Catching is defensively talented, but ultra-light on hitting.  Not a soul in center.

Both kinds of pitching rated above average.

Watch List:  Tony Renda (2b, MLB, AAA, AA), Shedric Long (2b, A+, A), Jermaine Curtis (3b, MLB, AAA), Nick Senzel (3b, A), Calten Daal (ss, AA), Scott Schebler (lf, MLB, AAA), Angelo Gumbs (lf, A+), Juan Duran (lf, A+), Jesse Winkler (rf, AAA), Aristides Aquino (rf, A+), Daniel Wright (starter, MLB, AAA, AA) and Nick Routt (relief, AA).

Colorado (2.9).  2-9 spots were either 4’s or barely 2’s.  Catching, third and center provide the most depth.

Starting pitching development was most impressive.  Relief development is horrible.  Whomever coaches these guys throughout the organization should be relieved (no pun intended) of their duties.

Watch List:  Tom Murphy (c, MLB, AAA), Ashley Graeter (c, AA.  Though he played more games at second.  Why a catcher then?  Because he had a toss rate of 65%!), Brian Mundell (1b, A), Wilson Soriano (3b, AA), Omar Carrizales (lf, A+), David Dahl (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  One of two very talented outfielders in system), Raimel Tapia (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  As talented as Mr. Dahl), Noel Cuevas (cf, AA), Yonathan Daza (rf, A), German Marquel (starter, MLB, AAA, AA), Harrison Musgrave (starter, AA), Parker French (starter, A+, A) and Matt Carasiti (relief, MLB, AAA – a mere 7 ip -, AA).

NYM (2.8).  2-9 represented fairly well less first and second.  Solid development at catching, third, short, left and center.

Pitching development absolutely failed in 2016.  Both starting and relief rated 1.  Boo.

Watch List:  Kevin Plawecki (c, MLB, AAA), Tomas Nido (c, A+), Patrick Mazeika (c, A), Dominic Smith (1b, AA), T.J. Rivera (3b, MLB, AAA), Phillip Evans (ss, AA), Ahmed Rosario (ss, AA, A+), Ty Kelly (lf, MLB, AAA), Michael Conforto (lf, MLB, AAA), Brandon Mimmo (cf, MLB, AAA), Patrick Bondi (cf, A+), Wuilmer Becera (rf, A+), Ricky Knapp (starter, AA, A+), Andrew Barbosa (starter, A+), Nabil Crismatt (starter, A), Tim Peterson (relief, AA, A+) and Kevin McGowan (relief, A+).

Pittsburgh (2.8).  Similar to the Mets.  First, left and center are loaded with talent.  Catching, second and third less so.  Short is average.  Right is poorly developed.

Both starting and relief received a 2.

Watch List:  Josh Bell (1b, MLB, AAA), Kevin Newman (ss, AA, A+), Adam Frazier (lf, MLB, AAA), Barrett Barnes (lf, AA), Harold Ramirez (cf, AA), Austin Meadows (cf, AA), Tito Polo (cf, A+, A), Jordan George (rf, A), James Tailson (starter, MLB, AAA.  As Joseph Musgrove is to the A.L., Mr. Tailson is arguably the N.L. minor league starter to watch above all others), Brandon Waddell (starter, A+), Mitch Keller (starter, A), A.J. Schugel (relief, MLB, AAA), Edgar Santana (relief, AA, A+), Tate Scioneaux (relief, A+, A) and Sean Keselica (relief, A).

Do note the three rated center fielders (Ramirez, Meadows and Polo).  Perhaps the Pirates dangling of Mr. McCutchen is understood.

Arizona (2.7).  The good news:  not a single 2-9 spot rated 1.  Bad news is catching, third and right are almost bare.

Pitching, starting and relief, both rated average.

Watch List:  Kyle Jensen (1b, MLB, AAA.  One of the two best position players in the organization), Ildemaro Vargas (2b, AAA), Mitch Freeman (2b, MLB, AAA), Dawel Lugo (3b, A+), Domingo Leyba (ss, AA, A+), Rudy Flores (lf, AA, A+), Mitch Haniger (cf, MLB, AAA, AA.  As talented as Mr. Jensen), Victor Reyes (rf, A+), Jimmie Sherry (relief, AA.  One of the best relief prospects in the N.L), Gabriel Moya (relief, A+) and Kirby Bellow (relief, A).

Washington (2.6).  Uneven development.  Two spots rated 4 (first and second).  Two rated 3 (center and right).  Two rated 2 (third and short).  Two rated 1 (catching and left).

Starting pitching rated 4 while relief was average.

Watch List:  Jose Marmolejos-Diaz (1b, AA, A+), Matt Page (1b, A), Grant DeBruin (1b, A), Chris Bostick (2b, AA), Max Schrock (2b, A+, A), Ian Sagdal (2b, A), Victor Robles (cf, A+, A), Luis Giolito (starter, MLB, AAA), Greg Ross (starter, AA), Bryan Harper (relief, AA) and Tommy Peterson (relief, A).

Milwaukee (2.2).  Nobody at third or short.  Two guys each at left and right.  The cupboard is almost bare.

Both starting and relief rated average.

Watch List:  Manny Pina (c, MLB, AAA), Josmil Pinto (c, MLB, AAA), Max McDowell (c, A), Mitch Ghelfi (1b, A), Jake Elmore (2b, MLB, AAA), Blake Allemand (2b, A), Lewis Brinson (cf, AAA, AA.  The best position player in the organization), Brandon Woodruff (starter, AA, A+) and Jon Perrin (starter, A+, A).

Chicago (2.0):  Strangely out of balance.  Thin as gruel at first, third, short and center.  Loaded at catching, second and right.

Starting pitching is average.  Relief development is as bad as Colorado.

Watch List:  The forever in waiting Tim Federowicz (c, MLB, AAA), Wilson Contreras (c, MLB, AAA), David Frietas (c, AAA, AA), Victor Caratini (c, AA), Dan Vogelbach (1b, AAA), Chesny Young (2b, AA), David Bote (2b, A+), Carlos Sepulveda (2b, A), Jeimer Candelario (3b, MLB, AAA), Eloy Jiminez (lf, A), Mark Zaqunis (rf, AAA, AA), Daniel Spingola (rf, A), Preston Morrison (starter, A+) and James Farris (relief, AA, A+).

Atlanta (1.8).  Not a single 2-9 position rated 4.  Only two rated above average (second and third).  Boo.

Pitching, starting and relief, rated 1.  Double boo.

Watch List:  Ozzie Albies (2b, AA), Dustin Peterson (lf, AA), Jared James (lf, A), Ronald Acuna (cf, A), Max Poyse (starter, AA, A+), Trevor Belicek (relief, A) and Devan Watts (relief, A).

Miami (1.8).  Two positions of notable development:  catching and center.  Then close the book.

Starting pitching is average.  Relief is below average.

Watch List:  Cam Maron (c, AA), Xavier Scruggs (1b, MLB, AAA), Moises Sierra (rf, MLB, AAA) and Jose Quijada (relief, A).

 

 

The first quarter was awful.  The start smelled of stale starts against Wyoming and Colorado State.  The SDSU offense was three and out the first three possessions.  The fourth possession featured our first first down due to a Houston defender running into Tanner Blain.  Next, Nick Bawden makes a circus catch for yet another first down.  My heart be still.  Are we playing functional football?  Alas, no.  Tanner Blain punts, yet again.

The second quarter begins with another three and out by the Aztec offense (or what I assumed to be the Aztec offense).  However, our next possession features Donnel Pumphrey’s first substantial run of the game which made way for John Baron’s first field goal (his season long impact cannot be overstated).

As the first half ends, we are down 10-6 which is much better than being on the wrong side of a shutout.  Additional good news was our 5 yards of offense in the first quarter became Houston’s second quarter total.  Change is underway.

Change is Kyle Kelly’s first pick at 14:05 in the third.  Yet, no score results!  Calvin Munson’s interception happens at 5:03.  This stopped a Cougar drive with the ball on the Aztec 30.  And better yet, the Aztec offense scores off the interception, 13-10.

Change becomes deeper with Ron Smith’s interception with 56 seconds remaining in the third.  Plus, his run to the end zone was perfect.  20-10, Aztecs.

The fourth quarter was a continuous Aztec defensive highlight.  Kyle Kelley begins the sack parade.  Donnel interrupts the process by breaking some type of NCAA rushing record.  The number 6,405 was mentioned.  I’m sure I’ll read about this at a later date.

Anyway, sack #2 of the fourth quarter happens at 9:05.  Greg Ward, Jr. is tad woozy and uncertain at this point.  Playing quarterback against a swarm of directed chaos is no fun.

Christian Chapman hits Curtis Anderson for a touchdown of the passing variety.  We go up, 27-10.

Brent Musburger re-states that this game is a match between a “stable coaching staff” versus “better athletes”.  Indeed.  Though, any commentator, observer or maven of college football who believes SDSU is shy of “athletes” should grab his ankles and pull.

Shame on me.

The sacks continue:  9:19, 4:27, 3:59 and 2:57.  In between, Juwan Washington scores the final Aztec touchdown.  34-10.

Finally, Kyle Kelly enjoys interception dos with 17 seconds remaining.  Joy.

Items of note:  We had one more yard of offense than the Cougars (255 to 254).  The Aztec defense allowed an average of 0.6 yards per rush and 3.4 yards per Cougar play.  Impressive.  Houston ran 75 offensive plays.  The Aztecs ran 51.  The 7 Aztec sacks accounted for 51 yards while the 4 picks racked 87 yards and the Ron Smith td.  A healthy crowd of 29,286 watched a dominating SDSU football team.  Plus, the traveling Aztec faithful were quite loud the entire second half.

11-3.  Done.  Bring me next year.

 

 

 

The two game skid comes to a halt.

The key:  The Aztec offense has the ball for 10:24 in the fourth quarter.  As in, Wyoming no-touchy the football.  Very effective.

A deep bow on behalf of John Baron and his accurate foot.  His 20 yard field goal is the winning margin.  Speaking of feet, Tanner Blain blasts 6 punts for an average of 45.5 per punt while landing half of his effort inside the 20.  Nothing like a long field on behalf of the Aztec defense.

As for the Aztec defense, Kyle Kelley chose the perfect time to have the game of his life with 2 sacks and 14 yards lost.  The SDSU defense registered a total of 32 lost yards against the Pokes offense.  A complete reversal of two weeks ago which featured Josh Allen and company marching up and down the field with the help of one short third down after another.  Last night, not so much.  The Cowboys were a lousy 2/14 on third down and 0/3 on fourth down plus their offensive line yielded a total of 4 sacks and 25 lost yards.

Mr. Pumphrey and Mr. Penny had solid games with 110 and 117 yards respectively.  The three touchdowns were more important.  How many teams throw the ball for 85 yards and win?  The Aztecs and nobody.  How many teams lose 2 fumbles and win?  The Aztecs and nobody.  Ugly, effective football.

And we wait for the bowl assignment.

10-3/7-2 (I’m counting the conference championship win as a conference win.  So there).

 

 

The outcome was an old fashioned butt kicking.  Expose butt, please kick.  Repeat.  Repeat.

The Aztecs were ugly, uninspired and unsuccessful.

The Rams took the game from the beginning snap.  The Aztec defense was reminiscent of the pre-Rocky days (those were bad defensive teams).  Nick Stevens, an average qb, was 10/15/210 without a single interception.  Our front three peppered with the occasional linebacker or two could not reach Mr. Stevens.

Do you want more proof regarding Aztec lack of preparation?  Two CSU running backs ran for better than 100 yards each.  Mr. Gallup (well named) caught 7 balls for 139 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The Rams were 8/12 on third down conversions (that’s a stunning success rate of 66%).  Ram receivers averaged 19.6 yards per catch.  The Ram running game averaged 6.3 yards per carry.  507 total yards of offense swept by a bewildered Aztec defense.

Enough.

Consecutive MWC losses must not become three.  We have one week to prepare for Wyoming.  Will we make their qb look like a future first round pick or will we meet the challenge of arriving in a bad mood?  Will we contain Mr. Hill or allow him to look like Donnel Pumphrey once looked?

Stay tuned.

9-3/6-2.

 

 

 

What a game, what a game.

Best loss of Rocky’s tenure.  Why?  Because we marched 99 yards in 1 minute, 7 seconds and scored.  Christian Chapman looked like a quarterback.  No offense (or pun), but at times I wonder if he can throw for 200 plus yards on a regular basis.  He did so Saturday.

As for Rocky’s two-point conversion call that failed, to those of you whining, stop.  Rocky being Rocky is part of Rocky.  Also, this is the second loss of the season and first MWC loss.  Remember the days when we dreamed of a two loss season?  Wouldn’t that be swell?  Guess what?  Two losses is swell.

I listened to the game on the phone for one very good reason:  Finding a bar in Pacific Beach that features C-CBS is akin to finding fresh water in the Pacific.  I do enjoy listening to Uncle Teddy broadcast Aztec athletic events, but I must ask Ted to refrain from the “depleted defense” comments.  No we are not.  Na’im McGee, Randy Ricks, Tyler Morris and John Carroll have been sidelined most of the year.  We are fine.  Losing Derek Babiash, Billy Vaughn, Jr and Fred Melifonwu to self-inflicted idiocy was also overcome.  The Aztecs are loaded with talented football players.  No more “woe is us” dear Uncle Teddy.

However, I felt that we arrived not ready to commit to the season long, less South Alabama, idea of arriving in a bad mood to greet opponents with football in hand.  We were lethargic especially the defensive back 5.  Tackling with both arms and wrapping up seemed to be optional.  I trust this will not be an issue for the remainder of the season.

Hats off to Jay Henderson.  I do not know the football sin committed by Ryan Dunn, but Mr. Henderson was a more than able replacement.  Another deep sweep of the hat to Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington.  These two make for an ultra talented pair of kick off returners on an extraordinary level.  A side comment to Mr. Penny regarding his runs from scrimmage, please stop running out of bounds.  Take a hit and get another couple of yards.

I opened with referencing the closing drive, I must also mention the end of the first half drive.  Not quite the length of the field, but close.  And a touchdown as well.  The SDSU offense does impress when time is of the essence.

Wyoming’s qb, Josh Allen, is a first round pick in the making.  Impressive arm and decision making.  The Wyoming defensive line was also effective.  Donnel Pumphrey rarely found a rushing attempt in excess of four yards.  Cowboy linebackers were quick to fill the rare hole.

Returning to the Aztec defense, allowing 5.8 yards per play while showing the Pokes 84 offensive plays is the perfect recipe for a long day.  Further testament to the lackluster effort of the back 5 was Mr. Allen’s 17.6 yards per completed pass.  Far too much grass was given.  Also, when was the last time an opposing qb threw 31 attempts while rushing for 69 yards?  Tis a no-no.  Finally, Wyoming enjoying 9/17 on third down conversions and 2/2 on fourth down is not to be repeated.  A poor Aztec defensive effort.

Colorado State closes the MWC season less the conference championship game.  Hmm.  Senior day.  Alex Barrett, Kyle Kelley, Calvin Munson, Austin Wyatt-Thayer, Malik Smith and Damontae Kazee all say “good-bye” to the Q and Aztec faithful.  Motivated?  Good luck to the Rams offense.  The flip side features Kwayde Miller, Nico Siragusa, Arthur Flores, Daniel Brunskill, Curtis Anderson and a running back by the name of Donnel Pumphrey playing together for the last time down the street from the beach.  Should be fun.

9-2/6-1.

 

I’m officially spoiled.  Any time the Aztec defense gives up a pass of more than 10 yards or a run greater than 5 yards, I smirk and shake my head.  What a lovely problem.

First, kudos to Nick Bawden for shoving the slow to remove himself from Donnel Pumphrey Nevada linebacker after Donnel’s touchdown.  Thou shalt not mess with thy teammates.

Next, Ty Gangi went from thinking, “Their defense isn’t so good” to “What the hell is going on?” by the second quarter.

The end of the second quarter Aztec drive resulting in John Baron’s field goal is another indicator of a competent offense that takes advantage of available time.  As was scoring after the first two interceptions.

Tanner Blain punted once.  Well done, offense.

620 yards of total offense with 474 yards rushing.  Rashaad Penny finishes 10/208.  Donnel Pumphrey ends the evening with 26/198.  Juwan Washington chips in with 5/73.  Just another night on the field.

Christian adds 2 more touchdowns to bring his annual total to 15 while throwing no interceptions and a line of 11/16/146.  He ain’t rewriting Aztec record books, but he is effective and he wins.

7/9 on third downs.  Impressive.  5/5 in the red zone.

Hats off to Kameron Kelly, Ron Smith and Parker Baldwin for their interceptions.

The Wolf Pack joins the legion of teams with less than 100 yards rushing (90) after playing the Aztecs.

Consider the following:  15.2 points, 86.4 yards rushing, 196.1 yards passing, 282.5 total offense.  The average offensive production of Aztec opponents as of 10 games played.

Wyoming is next.  May the weather behave.

9-1/6-0.

While the score was impressive, so was 41,000+ in the seats.  A trend?  Here’s hoping.

The Aztec defense holds Hawaii to 48 yards rushing, 215 total yards and 5/16 on third downs.  Insult to injury:  8 punts.  Oh yeah, the two Hawaii quarterbacks were a combined 25/45 with 4 interceptions.  Third and fourth depth chart Aztecs stopped a fourth quarter drive as well.  Rocky was most pleased.  Returning to the 4 interceptions, those errant passes generated 109 yards of “offense” for the Red and Black.  The 2 scores were most helpful.

John Baron misses from 51 yards out.  Amazing.  He’s human after all.  2/3 was well done.

Quest Truxton is the Rashaad Penny of punt returns.  Quest seems to dip himself in grease prior to the punt.  Lots of misses.  4 returns for 73 yards speaks of twisting, turning and talent.  Touchdowns are next.

Speaking of Mr. Penny, he rejoins Donnel Pumphrey in the 100+ list.  8/109 (13.5 per carry) while Mr. Pumphrey rushes for 118 yards.  A tip of the helmet to the Hawaii defense.  Donnel’s first quarter effort indicated 200+ yards for the night, but the Rainbow Warriors adjusted nicely.  At least against Donnel.  Juwan Washington continues to impress.  5/48 and 2 scores.  He runs pads to pads.  I’m a fan.

Three to go.  With Nevada’s loss to New Mexico, we are in the MWC championship game on December 3rd.  No time for slippage.

8-1/5-0.

 

 

Pound and ground was on display.  The offensive line and Nick Bawden were out in force.  Utah State’s defensive line and linebackers were walking backwards the entire game.  400 rushing yards is phenomenal.  14 passing yards?  Not so much.

Donnel Pumphrey runs the ball on 32 occasions for 223 yards (7 yards per carry).  Juwan Washington shows the future with a line of 14/143 for almost 10 yards per carry.  Oy vey!  Plus, Mr. Washington scores twice.  The offense registering 7 for 14 on third down conversions is further proof a good night on the field.  As was 4 red zone scores.

Dominating Utah State at Logan in the rain is testament to preparation and a lot of hard work on the practice field.  This game was ripe for difficulty, especially with the Aggies scoring on their first possession.  Alas, difficulty was not the case.  Maybe for Utah State.

A big night for John Baron.  4/4!  Nice range from 21 yards to a maximum of 43 yards.  Change nothing.

The defense was the usual blur of chaos.  3 sacks, Malik Smith’s interception and touchdown, and Aztec tackling resulting in 23 yards lost at the expense of the Aggies’ offense.  11/26 is reflective of a quarterback struggling.  Utah State averaged a paltry 2.5 yards per carry.  A hand shake to Ron Smith on substantial playing time in the defensive backfield and the tipped pass in the fourth quarter that fell to the ground.  Given the effective play of Kyaha Tezino and Jay Henderson at linebacker, Randy Ricks’ injury is not as problematic as first thought.

Back to the Q this Saturday.  The Rainbow flies in from the islands.  Hawaii is much improved.

7-1/4-0.