Posts Tagged ‘Dodgers’

The fact these guys lead the wild card race is impressive.  Much like the Angels, a lot went south during the first half, but unlike the Angels, the Dodgers more than survived the first 81 games.

Dave Roberts is adept at balancing what Andrew Friedman demands via his over analysis of the game with Mr. Roberts experience as player and coach.  A difficult task in these days of shifts, WAR and OPS.

The obvious second half challenge for the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw’s visit to the d.l.  Will the 15 day stay become a 30 day stay?  Probably.  What then?  Panic at Dodger Stadium?  Hand wringing?  Cold sweats?  Why not.  Consider the top three starters leading the second half charge are 19-year-old Julio Urias, Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda.  Start sweating.

Is Yasiel Puig traded for starting pitching?  He still possesses value even as he makes his monthly bad decision.

Expect the Dodgers to reach deep for starting pitching in late July.  Who they dangle in trade is a challenge less Puig, but trade they must.  Most of their developed talent is found in AA and A+ ball.  Do you diminish the future for a starter or two?  Let’s watch.




San Diego makes all the right off-season moves, and the result is nothing of note in the first half, less firing Bud Black.

Catching:  Norris provides power (11/45), but a notoriously poor obp (.288).

First:  Alonso needs to stay healthy if the Pads make a wild card run (I’m choosing to assume finishing first is out of the question).  His .302/.391 is impressive and sorely needed in the Pads line-up.

Second:  Gyorko demoted will hopefully lead to Gyorko productive.  Spangenberg’s injury gives Jed another shot.  In 29 fewer at-bats, Gyorko (.292/.338) is much more the hitter than Spangenberg (.254/.304).

Third:  If Middlebrooks ever becomes a .250 hitter, rejoice.  But, I doubt the possibility.  9 dingers and 28 rbi in 240 ab is not what the Padres had in mind.  This position remains a weak point that needs to be addressed if the Padres want to make a strong finish.

Short:  Amarista is as weak as Middlebrooks.  Very little offense to offer.  While solid defensively, his offense (.212/.281) may not be worth the glove.

Left:  Justin Upton has been as advertised.  14/46 in 310 ab bodes well for the entire year.  More Padres should join him.

Center:  Venable by default due to Myers’ injury is part of the first half disappointment.  Venable is a fourth outfielder, not a starter.  Another weak point that needs to be addressed by the end of July.

Right:  Kemp is not a leadoff guy (simple advice to Mr. Murphy).  44 rbi is an impressive first half stat, but the 6 home runs are a tad to the short side.

Starting Pitching:  Shields, much like Justin Upton, is as advertised.  Worth the money.  Ross, Cashner, Despaigne and Kennedy offer enough talent, but, less Ross, the era has to head south (4.06, 4.75 and 4.84) respectively.

Bullpen:  Kimbrel, Maurer and Benoit have been good to awesome.  Maurer with a sub-two era and sub-one whip is fantastic.  Benoit (2.25/0.81) is no less impressive.  Kelly is developing well and should offer some relief (no pun intended) regarding Thayer’s trip to the d.l.  Many baseball mavens criticize the Padres bullpen, but I disagree.  These guys are a quality group.

Second Half Prediction:  Acquire a third baseman who can hit and centerfielder.  Another starting pitcher to follow Ross would be swell.  That may be enough to make take the wild card.


Arte’s boys continue to disappoint.  DiPoto exits.  On one hand, who can blame him?  But, I do lose patience with the overemphasis on saber metrics.  Strangely, Aaron, Mays, Van Slyke (Andy, not Scott), Robinson (both of them), Trammel and Whitaker all did fine defensively by paying attention to detail without the benefit of statistical reports as to where the ball might land if the pitcher hits his spot and does not shake off the catcher.

Catcher: Between Iannetta and Perez, not much offense.  They combined for 8 doubles, 6 home runs and 30 rbi as of 7/7/15.  Anemic.  Though, they both call a good game.  If offensive weakness must reside, find that weakness at catcher or shortstop.

First.  Pujols is back with a vengeance.  26/56 is overdue.  Better late than never.

Second:  Giavotella is inconsistent at the plate, but give him the ab.  32 rbi in 271 ab is enough to notice.

Third:  Freese took forever to get started, but 10/36 given that horrible start hopefully carries into the second half.

Short:  If Aybar hits above .270 and raises his obp to .320 by the end of the year, Angel fans rejoice.

Left:  I will group the disappointing Matt Joyce (how much longer until he is released or demoted?  C’mon, people.  He’s a bust), Navarro and Robertson.  The latter two splitting time is much more attractive than Joyce taking away another 217 ab for no apparent reason.  Help wanted at the seven spot.

Center:  Lord Trout remains the best baseball player on the planet.

Right:  Calhoun registering 9/46 is necessary or else all the Angels consistently register on offense is Trout and Pujols.

DH:  Cron needs to play on Sunday’s only.

Starting Pitching:  Weaver, though currently on the d.l., is amazing.  How he has four wins is beyond understanding.  A whip of 1.24 is testimony to a pitcher who can think his way through a lineup regardless of diminishing ability.  Santiago (2.40/1.09) is this year’s Shoemaker.  Wilson and Richards must continue first half success into the Dog Days or else the Angels finish third or worse.  If Heaney realizes his substantial talent, the Angels have much less concern.

Bullpen:  Street (2.34/0.89), Smith (2.80/1.08), Ramos (1.88/1.25) and Gott (1.80/0.80) allow Scioscia to sleep at night and might allow him to keep his job. Alvarez and Salas, while posting higher era than their ‘pen mates, have just as impressive whip numbers (1.07 and 1.15 respectively).

Second Half Prediction:  A lot to solve on the offensive side.  DH, left and catching need significant upgrades.  But, Arte owes most people and their brothers a lot of salary until 2035 or thereabout (a fellow living in Texas comes to mind).  Scioscia finally loses his job at season’s end and moves to Philly.  Sorry, Anaheim.


Why do the Dodgers keep winning?  Six of eight hitters with the most at-bats have obp ranging from .348 to .390.  These guys get on base and score runs.  Also, having Greinke and Kershaw is certainly helpful.

Catcher:  Grandal is more than adequate.  Anybody who keeps Ellis on the bench is doing a fine job.

First:  As Gonzalez gets older, he gets downright cranky, but can he hit.

Second:  Kendrick’s first half power numbers of 7/37 is a distant dream for most second basemen.

Third:  Turner hitting 11 home runs, driving in 38 and hitting an amazing .314/.384 is why we watch baseball.

Short:  The only true bust is Rollins.  Better off with another player at this spot.

Left:  Van Slyke pieced together an acceptable showing of 8 doubles, 4 homers and 18 rbi in 110 ab.

Center:  Pederson is the solo home run king.  His batting average has sunk to .230, but his bop is .368.  20/39 for rookie power numbers is eye-catching.

Right:  Ethier plays and Ethier does not make the L.A. Times bitch and moan section.

Special Mention:  Puig may be trade bait come late-July.  Given Guerrero’s solid bench play (10/30 was not expected) and the return of Crawford, the Dodgers are deep in the outfield.  Dangling Puig to the right team could result in a significant return.  We shall see.

Starting Pitching:  As mentioned above, Greinke (who should have a dozen wins, if he received any run support) and Kershaw are a superb one-two.  However, Anderson (5-5, 3.12/1.31) and Bolsinger (4-3, 3.09/1.28) deserve praise.  Without these two, the Dodgers are a third place team in a weak division.

Bullpen:  Jansen, Gracia, Howell (especially) and Liberatore are fantastic, yet do not receive enough recognition regarding the Dodgers’ success.  Nicasio and Baez aren’t bad either.

Second Half Prediction:  The Dodgers do not sit still.  Deals will be made.  Look for a new shortstop and a couple of starters as of 7/31, if not sooner.


First the Padres.

Ramble:  Quality off-season.  Completely unexpected.  The Padres spending money is as rare as bad beer in San Diego.  Look for club records in home runs and rbi this year.  Padres fans actually have legitimate hope entering the 2015 season.  Buy tickets!

Outfield:  Justin Upton, Will Myers and Matt Kemp make for an average defense, but offense is the attraction.  A substantial challenge for opposing pitching.  Carlos Quentin should be traded to an A.L. team (Carlos in the outfield is similar to a guy on crutches attempting to run.  Well intentioned, but without reason).  Will Venable returns to the bench . . . where he belongs.

Infield:  Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica share the bag at first.  Both these two will benefit mightily from the presence of Kemp, Upton and Myers in the lineup.  Is Cory Spangenberg ready for the Bigs?  He skipped AAA ball when called up to the Padres last year.  Not a good move.  Jed Gyorko is developing nicely.  If Jed could become a leadoff hitter with a better than .375 obp, that would be swell.  Will Middlebrooks is looking at last chance saloon this year.  He either hits major league pitching or he bounces around AAA from one organization to another.  Yangervis Solarte is a better  choice at the moment.  Is Alexi Amarista a long term solution to the shortstop position?  No.  But, Diego Goris will arrive in 2016/17.

Catching:  Rock solid with Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz.

Starting Pitching.  Signing James Shields was as exciting for Padres fans as the Kemp moment.  Shields will do for starting pitching what Kemp will do for the offense.  Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy have a heavy load lifted from their shoulders via Shields, but deliver they must.

Bullpen:  Always a San Diego strength.  Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush (though his ip/bb ratio is a concern), Alex Torres, Frank Garces and Joaquin Benoit will give Bud Black few worries in 2015.

AAA/AA Help:  Cory Spangenberg (2b), Casey McElroy (2b.  Watch out, Cory), Alex Dickerson (of), Rymer Lirano (of), Jake Goebbert (of), Matt Wisler (starting), Joe Ross (starting) and Jerry Sullivan (relief).

Prediction:  The N.L. West will be a dogfight from Opening Day until the last day of the season.  The Padres finish second, make the playoffs as a Wild Card, win the first round, lose the second.


The Angels

Ramble:  The Josh Hamilton development is the last place to start a new season.  Good luck to him.  By and large, while acknowledging his personal challenge, Josh was not money well spent.  Alas, baseball owners, even Arte Moreno, rarely learn.  Speaking of rarely learning, on behalf of Angel fans, may C.J. Wilson win more than he loses.  Not a given by any stretch.  Howie Kendrick is gone.  Or simply a freeway or two to the north.  Drive by and say “Hi.”

Outfield:  Acquiring Matt Joyce was smart (though, my inner conspiracist says DiPoto knew that Josh had, in one sense or another, fallen from the wagon of sobriety).  And, honestly, when you have the best player in not only the game today, but one of the greatest ever, in Mike Trout, how much do you worry about the other two spots?  Yes, that was a rhetorical question.   Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill will, just as last year, serve well.  Those two are dirt dogs.  They play hard and want to play more.  Amen.

Infield:  Pujols (backed by a very capable Efren Navarro looking for at bats.  An interesting July 31 acquisition, if you ask me), the mystery man at second (I’m guessing Grant Green sticks), David Freese and Erick Aybar form a serviceable infield. Somewhere between “wow” and “meh”.

Catching:  While a fan of Mike Scioscia’s managing, I feel the pain of any and all system catchers finally making the big club.  Scioscia is demanding and maddening as far as rookie catchers are concerned.  Log two or three years with him, then the biting lessens, but remains sadly plentiful and painful.  Thus, look for Hank Conger to prosper in Houston.  As for Chris Ianetta, he has the experience to keep managerial critique to a minimum.  After Ianetta, the spot is thin, thus weak, especially in the Dog Days.

DH:  C.J. Cron needs to offer the team a big year if the post-season awaits.  If Pujols falls to injury again, he is the dh while first base becomes Navarro’s.

Starting Pitching:  Jared Weaver has become the Pedro Martinez of his generation.  Jared is a pleasure to watch.  He thinks as much as pitches to his benefit.  C.J. Wilson was plain old bad in 2014.  A repeat makes the playoffs very difficult for the Angels.   However, if Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs (this kid could be awesome) win at least forty-five games as a duo, coupled with the healthy return of Garrett Richards, then C.J. can have a lousy year.  As for the much ballyhooed Andrew Heaney, we shall see.

Bullpen:  Houston Street is a stud, yet the Angels hem and haw about a contract.  Dumb.  Joe Smith is a top 5 eighth inning guy.  Mike Morin was as much a surprise to the ‘pen as Shoemaker was to the starters.  Fernando Salas, Nick Tropeano, Cory Rasmus, Cam Bedrosian and Cesar Ramos are the most likely to experience Opening Day in a big league park.

AAA/AA Help:  As a side note, the Angels’ development system is awful (tied for 10th in the A.L. per me).  Jeff Bandy (c), Brian Hernandez (1b, especially if Navarro is traded 7/31), Vance Albitz (2b), Ryan Wheeler (3b), Shawn O’Malley (ss), Jairo Diaz (relief).

Prediction:  Third in the A.L. West.


The Dodgers

Ramble:  The lack of a television broadcast deal is pathetic.  Really bad.  Shame on both TWC and the Dodgers.  However, you make Arte Moreno a happy man.  Trading Kemp was, um, I will be impolite, ballsy.  He will beat the living snot out the Dodgers’ pitching staff this year.  I thought Ethier was the most likely to be traded.  Alas, given the current cast, he may be.

Outfield:  Amazingly, post-Kemp, not enough room.  The Joc Pedersen assumptions are unwise.  Hit major league pitching, then talk about starting.  Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig are the likely starting three.  I continue to await Puig severely injuring Ethier in pursuit of a gap fly ball.  Scott Van Slyke, while nothing like the old man, at least determined he could hit in the bigs last year.  Frankly, Scott in the A.L. as a dh is the true Scott.

Infield:  Jimmy Rollins at short and Howie Kendrick at second firm the middle as compared to last year.  Dodger pitchers should be quite pleased.  Adrian Gonzalez is a nice guy who plays an exceptional first base.  Oh yeah, he can hit as well.  Juan Uribe is a tribute to bad diet and lack of exercise (Pablo Sandoval is a disciple).  How he continues to play effectively is beyond me.  Justin Turner and Alex Guerrero provide quality depth.  Darwin Barney is bound for elsewhere.

Catching:  A.J. Ellis is the ultimate lunch-bucket-hard-hat-working-man catcher in MLB.   Yasmani Grandal will hopefully learn a lot.

Starting Pitching:  Clayton Kershaw is to starting pitching as Mike Trout is to the offensive side of the ball.  Mark Greinke is weird, but a quality #2 starter (#1 on most teams).  Hyun-Jin Ryu eats innings.  His value shines in August and September.  As for the last two spots, I’m guessing Joe Wieland (healthy, at last) and Zach Lee.  Just a guess.

Bullpen:  Kenley Jansen must be healthy or this is a weak point on exponents (sorry for the math reference).  Joel Peralta, Brandon League (most likely closer in waiting), J.P. Howell and Brett Anderson form a shallow bullpen waiting for a call from the dugout.

AAA/AA Help:  Chris O’Brien (c), O’Koyea Dickson (1b), Ryan Adams (2b), Miguel Rojas (ss), Erisbel Arruebarrena (ss) and Corey Seager (ss, and given Miguel and Erisbel, his ascension is anything but guaranteed).  What?  No pitching!  Indeed.  If you want to scout, draft, sign and not develop either starting or relief pitching, the Dodgers are your squad.

Prediction:  First in the N.L. West.  A stunning playoff loss to a team not from St. Louis.  Mattingly is fired.



Without aplomb, here we go:


1.  Houston (3.5 out of a possible score of 4.0):  Less catching and relief, wow-wee.  I’m not quite ready to claim the 2015 Astros will be the 2014 Royals regarding surprise, but plenty of talent has been developed within.  The organization is loaded with talent at first, second, center and starting pitching.  The starting pitching in waiting is the best of any A.L. team by far.  The following cast provides depth, choice and at the very least achieved the proverbial cup of coffee exposure in the Bigs during 2014:  Brett Berholtzer, Jake Buchanan, Nick Tropeano, Rudy Owens and Colin McHugh.  Choice is difficult, but at least available.  But, the best starter in Houston’s system may be Thomas Shirley who was impressive in AA ball during ’14.  At the end of the bullpen, look for Richard Rodriguez and Mitchell Lambson to receive long looks during spring training.  On the offensive side, look for Conrad Gregor (1b/A+/A), Tyler White (1b/A+/A), Joe Sciafani (2b/AAA/AA), Tony Kemp (2b/AA), Colin Moran (3b/AA), Rio Ruiz (3b/A+), Carlos Correa (ss/A+), Austin Wates (cf/AAA), Robbie Grossman (cf/MLB/AAA . . . time to stick, Robbie), Teoscar Hernandez (8/A+ while enjoying the wind blown advantage of playing in Lancaster, CA) and Domingo Santana (rf/MLB/AAA).  At the 1, 3, 4, 6-9 spots, Houston has candidates from AAA to A ball.  Deep development and well done.

2T.  Boston (3.0):  Christian Vazquez’s quick ascension spelled the end of Ryan Lavarnway as heir apparent at the 2 spot.  I’m doubtful, but if Christian falters, Blake Swithart (AAA/AA) awaits.  Jantzen Witte (A+/A) is Fenway’s future first baseman.  Same with Sean Coyle (2b/AA), though that pesky Pedroia fellow seems to be in the way.  Carlos Asuaje (3b/A+/A) placed Will Middlebrooks on borrowed time long before the signing of Sandoval.  I choose to assume that Mookie Betts stays in Boston, but much like Mr. Vazquez, any faltering on behalf of Mr. Betts encourages the development of Derrick Gibson (cf/AA) and Manuel Margot (cf/A+/A).  Henry Ramos (rf/AA) concludes the best in system.  Starting pitching prospects, less Henry Owens (AAA/AA), are at least two years away.  The best of an above average lot are Brian Johnson (AA/A+) and Eduardo Rodriguez (AA).  Future 8th and 9th inning men are Miguel Celestino (AA), Kyle Martin (A+) and Austin Maddox (A+), though A+ ball is a long way from any MLB stadium.  The Sox did run shabby in the bullpen after A+ ball (as did the 6 spot), thus an area of improvement for 2015.

2T.  Minnesota (3.0):  Less the 3 position, the Twins’ system is either deep or possesses a very talented player at a particular position.  For instance, Chris Herrmann (c, MLB/AAA.  Time to win the 2 spot, Mr. Herrmann), Levi Michael (2b/AA/A+), Daniel Ortiz (lf/AA), Jason Kanzler (cf/A+/A) and Alex Swim (rf/A).  Deibinson Romero would be a legitimate 5 guy, but the 21 errors are far too many.  The Twins should slow down the advancement of Jorge Polanco (ss, all of 20) who skipped AAA ball before landing in Minnesota.  Never a good move.  The same critique applies to Kennys Vargas (1b).  The starting pitching prospects are woeful in AAA, but AA and A+ are relatively loaded.  Watch for Tyler Duffey (AA/A+), Jason Wheeler (AA/A+) and Jose Berrios (AA/A+) to arrive in Minnesota for the proverbial cup of coffee in September, 2015.  The trio should be fully ready in 2016.  The relief candidates are plentiful as well from AA down.  Jake Reed (A) had eye-catching numbers in ’14.

2T:  Oakland:  If you wondered why Billy Beane made those December deals, now you know.  Sure the 2-9 AAA talent is old (far too many 28 and 29 year olds), but lots of age appropriate talent at the AA and down levels calm the winds of trade.  The A’s system is loaded with potential at the 2-4 and 8 spots.  However, that is not to dismiss the talent at 6, 7 and 9.  Lots to choose from, especially at the A+ level.  The only everyday position lacking talent is third.  As for names, look for Beau Taylor (c/A+), Matt Olson (1b/A+), Tyler Ladendorf (2b/AAA), Daniel Robertson (ss/A+) and, my find of the year, Boog Powell (cf/A+/A), who, I hope, is related to the Boog Powell of the Baltimore Orioles from, oh, so long ago.  Continuing with the A+ emphasis, the majority of the starting pitching talent is found at that level (Stockton, CA . . . a beautiful city.  Ahem).  The relief squad candidates are more evenly dispersed throughout the A’s system.  Evan Scribner (closer/MLB/AAA) must stick in O-Town (pardon the Sons of Anarchy influence) in 2015.  Waiting is Tucker Healy (A+) and Brendan McCurry (A).

3.  Tampa Bay (2.9):  Castigating the Devil Rays is currently popular, but they continue to develop well.  The 2 position is absolutely brimming with talent.  The best of the seven rated may be Justin O’Conner (A+).  Ryan Brett (1b/AA) will be chased by Kean Wong (1b/A) his entire ascension to the Bigs.  Choosing between Leonardo Riginatto (ss/A+) and Juniel Querecuto (ss/A) is a problem all teams should face.  The same can be said of center field where Kevin Kiermaier (MLB/AAA), Mikie Mahtook (AAA) and Johnny Field (A+/A) offer plenty of ability.  Starting pitching holds strength at the A+ and A levels which serves as a ding to their ratings, but Austin Pruitt (A+) along with German Marquez (A) and Jacob Faria (A) hold exceptional promise.  Adam Liberatore should be closing in Tampa in 2015.  Cory Burns (AA) is a year or two away.  Watch for William  Gabay (A).

4.  Seattle (2.8):  Tampa Bay, Junior when you look at the catching talent.  John Hicks (AAA/AA), Steve Baron (AA/A+) and Tyler Marlette (A+) would all be worth a trade.  Jody Lara (1b/A+) is MLB bound in 2017.  Same goes with Zack Shank (2b/A, though not in Seattle with Mr. Cano in the way), Jack Reinheimer (ss/A+/A) and Gabriel Guerrero (rf/A+).  I imagine some mavens get excited about Patrick Kylehan (3b/AA/A+), but the 24 errors do not translate to MLB.  Sadly, the M’s pitching development from A to Z is pathetic.  Few candidates at either a starting or relief role.  All I can offer is Tyler Olson (starter/AA), Stephen Kohlscheen (closer/AAA/AA) and Mayckol Guaipe (closer/AA).  Less these three, the mound is a barren place in the Seattle system.  Given the abundance of talent at the 2-9 spots, perhaps a few of those players might be offered to bolster the system pitching staff as 2015 unfolds.  Just an idea.

5T.  Cleveland (2.7):  Two gaping development holes are found at second (a mere two candidates, though one is the talented Jose Ramirez) and right field (one candidate finally found in A ball, Luigi Rodriguez).  However, lots of good news at the 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 spots.  The Tribe actually encourages potential future third basemen to field and throw well.  Giovanni Urshela (AAA/AA) as well as Yandy Diaz (A+) and Paul Hendrix (A) play a sparkling defensive bag and can hit.  Roberto Perez (c/MLB/AAA) can hit and throw out runners (39% toss rate).  Erik Gonzalez (ss/AA/A+), Anthony Gallas (lf/AA), LeVon Washington (lf/A+), Tyler Holt (cf/MLB/AAA/AA.  Watch for this guy.  If your team needs a center fielder, here he is.  Go get him) and Tyler Naquin (cf/AA) are the best of the best in system.  Pitching is solid.  AAA brims with starters (T.J. House, Tyler Cloyd, Zach McAllister, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer) who spent time in MLB during ’14.  The ‘pen prospects are better than the starters which is impressive.  Look for C.C. Lee (MLB/AAA) and Kyle Crockett (MLB/AAA/AA) to impress in spring training.  Enosis Tejeda (AA) and Trevor Frank (A) are two years away.

5T.  New York (2.7):  Especially deep at first and second.  Above average at the 2, 5 and 7 positions.  Shortstop has one guy (Tyler Wade/A).  Center and right trend thin, but two of the more intriguing prospects play those spots:  Mark Payton (cf/A+/A) and Aaron Judge (rf/A+/A).  Returning to the 4 spot, either Jose Pirela (MLB/AAA) or Rob Refsnyder (AAA/AA) stick in NYC.  Francisco Arcia (c/AA) may find time in the Bronx in ’15 given desperation levels as the season unfolds (collapses).  Starting pitching prospects are deeper than relief candidates.  Jason Long (AA/A+/A.  A most impressive journey in one year) and Luis Severino (AA) are the best of the starters as well as representative of the talent found at the AA level.  Relievers with potential are found in abundance at the A+ level, thus wait and see who prospers at the AA level in ’15.

6.  Texas (2.6):  I will be polite and say “An organization in transition.”  Now for the bad news:  Zero prospects at short.  One guy at second (Odubel Herrera/AA/A+, but he can play.  Unfortunately, no other 4 guy can).  First base has only two guys (Trevor Adams/AA and Preston Beck/A+).  Catchers are plentiful and from A ball up.   Same can be said for left fielders.  Speaking of outfielders, Nomar Mazara (rf) made the rare jump from A to AA with no A+ time.  He’s one to watch at the ripe old age of 19.  Speaking of skipping A+ ball, the best of the rest are found in A+ ball:  Christopher Garcia (cf), Nick Williams (lf) and Ryan Cordell (lf/though he did begin ’14 in A ball).  Pitching prospects created the 2.6 rating.  Nick Tepesch (starter/MLB/AAA) and Alec Asher (starter/AA) are the best of an above average group.  However, please put the brakes on rushing Alex Claudio to the Bigs.  Alex began the year in A ball as a closer and spent time in Arlington.  Along the way, he started in AA and AAA, but the rise for a 22 year old was far too fast.  Spencer Patton and Neftali Feliz are the two most likely relievers to stick in Arlington in ’15.

7.  Toronto (2.5):  One guy at first (Jorge Flores/A+).  One guy at third . . . who is 29 (Jared Goedert/AAA.  I’m too nice).  Two guys in center, Darin Mastroianni (who seemingly can’t stick in MLB) and the incredibly talented Dalton Pompey who did the rare A+/AA/AAA/MLB run all that age of 21).  But, after Dalton, not much in the center field spot.  Catching features Derrick Chung (AA/A+) and Jorge Saez (A+/A).  Shane Ortiz (ss/A+, yet struggles to find innings at short) and Dwight Smith (lf/A+) end a relatively thin 2-9 system.  The starting prospects are deep and high-lighted by Marcus Stroman (MLB/AAA), Daniel Norris (MLB/AAA/AA/A+ and a classic rush job at the age of 21.  When he burns out, let me know) and Kendall Gravemen (see Mr. Norris, though Mr. Gravemen is a sage 23 and bettered Mr. Norris by beginning his journey in A ball).  The relief corps is average with most of the talent found in A+ ball.  No prospects in AAA.  A mere one in AA (Randy Boone).

8T.  Detroit (2.4):  Catching has four solid prospects.  The best are James McCann (MLB/AAA) and Grayson Greiner (A).  Dean Green (AA) provides the most hope at first.  Dean Travis (AA) does the same at the 4 spot.  Corey Jones (AA) is the same at third.  Less him, no one.  Short is loaded.  Eugenio Suarez (MLB/AAA/AA), Dixon Machado (AA/A+) and Domingo Leyba (A) are an impressive trio from which to choose.  Left field prospects (Jason Krizan/AA and Wayne Gaynor/AA) along with Ezequiel Carrera (cf/MLB/AAA) and Wynton Bernard (rf/A) are the best of a thin group roaming the outfield.  Starting pitching is average at best.  Most of the talent is found in A+ and A ball, thus years away.  Relief candidates are better scattered from AAA down, though a tad heavy to A+/A, thus nothing immediate awaits Detroit less Pat McCoy (MLB/AAA), Justin Miller (MLB/AAA) or Chad Smith (MLB/AAA/AA) having a good spring.

8T.  Kansas City (2.4):  The Royals have zero to one prospect at first (zero), center (one) and right (0ne).  Boo.  Such vacancy took away from a bounty of third basemen and left fielders.  Whit Merrifield (lf/AAA/AA) is one to watch.  Any MLB team looking for a ready shortstop should inquire about Christian Colon (MLB/AAA).  Starting pitching rated very well.  Look for the arrival of Christian Binford (AA/A+) and Andy Ferguson (AA) by 2016.  The relief corps was awful.  No AAA prospects, two AA prospects, four in A+ ball and one in A ball.  That adds to seven.  Not good.

9.  Chicago (2.3):  Much is lacking when any team makes the Royals’ bullpen prospects look deep.  May I introduce you to the Chicago White Sox.  The White Sox system has three guys who rated.  Three.  Their entire system from A ball up.  Three.  Bryan Bloughs (A+), Bradley Salgado (A and very good) and Jose Bautista (A) are the fortunate three.  Starting pitching ranked second from the bottom in the A.L.  No AAA prospects.  Two AA prospects (Chris Beck and Mike Recchia).  The rest are found in A+ or A ball.  A long way from the top.  However, Chicago does develop catchers.  Josh Phegley should stick in Chicago in 2015.  Behind him is Keyan Smith (AA), Omar Narvaez (A+/A) and Jeremy Dowdy (A).  Same can be said for first (Andy Wilkins/MLB/AAA the best of five) and second (Carlos Sanchez/MLB/AAA leads a strong group of three).  Short, third, left and center need many more candidates.

10T.  Angels (sorry.  I refuse the ridiculous geography, though I am an Arte Moreno fan) (2.2):  No depth to speak of at second (two quality prospects in Vance Albitz at AAA and Sherman Johnson at A+, then nothing), third (two, again), left (ditto) and right (ditto).  Jett Bandy (AA) is a quality catching prospect, but young catchers and the demands of Scioscia are often a bad fit (just ask Hank Conger).  First and center have an abundance of quality ball players.  At first, Brian Hernandez (AA) and Dennis Raben (A+) are the best of six.  Center features five of whom the most intriguing may be Bo Way (A).  The Angels inability to develop any depth in starting pitching is astounding.  From AAA to A ball, six guys made the cut.  Nate Smith (A+) is the best bet of the six.  Relievers do much better.  Cam Bedrosian (MLB/AAA/AA) suffered from a rush job, but possesses talent.  Same with Jairo Diaz (MLB/AA/A+.  Skipped AAA).

10T.  Baltimore (2.2):  Much like Oakland, a lot of 28 and 29 year olds at the top of their system.  Not good.  The O’s completely lack a right field prospect.  One at short.  A 28 and 29 year old are one-two at third base.  Two guys in center.  Concerning the 2-9 guys, hardly any quality prospects are  found at the AA level and few at A+ ball.  A bare system.  However, pitching prospects are plentiful.  Starters include Tyler Wilson (AAA/AA and quite good), Zach Davies (AA) and Steven Bault (A+/A).  Preston Guilmet (MLB/AAA) should prosper in spring, 2015 and travel north.  Brock Huntzinger (AAA) and Oliver Drake (AA) wait for opportunity in Baltimore.


1.  New York (3.5):  Loaded everywhere less left and right.  Quality prospects at all levels (AAA/AA/A+/A).  If the following players have above average springs, find a nice apartment in Queens:  Juan Centeno (c), Eric Campbell (1b), Dilson Herrera (2b), Matt Reynolds (ss), Wilmer Flores (ss), Cesar Puello (lf), Matt den Dekker (cf) and Chase Bradford (closer/bullpen).  The Mets could get better in a hurry in 2015.  Starting pitching possesses five candidates at the AAA level.  AA was deep enough to exclude from consideration any A+ or A pitcher in the Mets’ system.  The relievers have three ready at AAA (the aforementioned Mr. Bradford along with Miguel Socolovich and John Church).

2.  Washington (3.3):  Not as deep as the Mets (who is?), but plenty of quality at the 2-9 spots.  Second, short and right are the strongest everyday spots.  Less catching, the other positions all rated above average.  Starting pitching features six potential candidates, though Paolo Espino at AA may surpass them all.  From the relief corps, expect Xavier Cedeno (MLB/AAA) to remain in Washington, D.C.   He should be joined by Matt Grace (AAA).  Derek Self (AA/A+) is a year away.  If Brain Dupra (A+) and Jake Walsh (A+/A) succeed in AA ball in 2015, the future of the Nats bullpen is bright.

3.  Miami (3.1):  Weak spots are left and center (a paltry two candidates at each), but the rest of 2-9 positions rate well.  J.T. Realmuto (MLB/AA, skipped AAA) and Austin Barnes (AA/A+) are two strong catching candidates.  A third lurks in Chad Wallach (A+/A).  Mark Lanha (AAA) and Justin Bour (MLB/AAA) will forever battle for the 3 spot in Miami.  Derek Dietrich (2b/MLB/AAA) is MLB ready for 2015.  Any MLB team in the market for third basemen or right fielders should cruise the Marlins minor leagues.  Lots from which to choose.  Starting and relief prospects are deep even in light of the Andrew Heaney trade.  A lot of the Marlins depth is found at the AA level.  Potential quality starters are Justin Nicolino, Jose Urena and Jared Rogers.  Relievers at this level are Greg Nappo, Matt Ramsay, Nick Wittgren, James Nygren and Collin Cargill.  This is a point of strength in development.  Well done, Fish.

4,  San Diego (2.9):  Notable depth at short and left.  Second and right are the next best developed spots followed by center.  Weak points are catching and third (below average) while future first basemen are thin with the best at A ball (Jake Bauers).  As testament to the Pads depth, consider the deep trade activity the team engaged in.  Others do pay attention.  Speaking of traded players, Joe Wieland (#1 starter) and Joe Ross (3# starter) now enjoy greener pastures outside the Padres’ system.  Matt Wisler (AA) and Kyle Lloyd (A) are the most interesting starters in system.  Jerry Sullivan (AAA) leads an average group of relievers that is dominated at the A level that leaves too much to future proof.

5.  Atlanta (2.8):  Lots of quality first base talent (Joey Terdoslavich/MLB/AAA, Ernesto Mejia/AAA, Seth Loman/AA, Rich Poythress/AA and Jake Schrader/A).  Philip Goselin (3b/MLB/AAA) should stay in Atlanta.  Cedric Hunter, (lf/MLB/AA, skipped AAA) , Todd Cunningham (cf/MLB/AAA) and Jose Martinez (lf/A+) are the best outfield prospects.  A battle rages between two quality shortstop prospects, Gustavo Nunel (AA) and Elmer Reyes (AA).  Sadly, starting pitching prospects are woeful.  Once upon a time, the Braves developed quality starters like Hostess made Twinkies.  Alas, no more.  No AAA prospects of note.  The best in system is Greg Ross (AA/A+).  While the Braves AAA efforts find only one prospect (Chasen Shreve/MLB/AAA/AA) in the bullpen, Shae Simmons (MLB/AA, sorry, a 2 game exposure at AAA doesn’t count for AAA exposure) and James Hoyt (AA) form an above average group in the system bullpen.

6T.  St. Louis (2.7):  Cracks are found.  No third base prospects.  Two left field prospects.  Two right field prospects.  Three average shortstops.  Above average development is found at the 2-4 and 8 spots. Ed Easley (c/AAA), Xavier Scruggs (1b/MLB/AAA), Greg Garcia (2b/MLB/AAA), Thomas Pham (cf/MLB/AAA) are the most likely to not play AAA ball in 2015.  The Cards create no cracks whatsoever with pitching development.  My favorite word:  Loaded.  Starters include Marco Gonzales (the highly unlikely line of MLB/AAA/AA/A+ while posting superb numbers at all stops) Tyler Lyons (MLB/AAA), Nick Greenwood (MLB/AAA), Tim Cooney (AAA), Angel Castro (AAA) and Zach Petrick (AAA/AA).  The rich get richer.  Now for the bullpen.  Jeremy Berg (AA) is the one to watch, but Dean Kickhefer (AAA), Heath Wyatt (AAA) and Jorge Rendon (MLB/AAA) are more than ready.

6T.  Pittsburgh (2.7):  Lots of outfield prospects which is indicative of the talent already found in Pittsburgh.  Any organization in need of outfield candidates need to call the Pirates   Jose Tabata and Gregory Polanco cannot both play right field at the same time.  Keon Broxton (AA), Mel Rojas (AAA/AA) and Austin Meadows (A) can hit and roam center.  Jeff Decker (MLB/AAA) needs one more year at AAA.  Catching and first base are as strong as outfield development.  Andrew Lambo (MLB/AAA) and Chris McGuiness (MLB/AAA) are a strong duo at first.  Elisa Diaz (AA) is the best of the catchers.  Second and third need work while short is a dismal failure.  Speaking of dismal, that describes the relief development.  One guy at AA (Kenn Kasparek) and three at A ball.  Yuck.  However, starting pitching is just the opposite.  Vance Worley (MLB/AAA) should not throw 46 innings at AAA in 2015.  Casey Sadler (MLB/AAA) and Brandon Crampon (MLB/AAA) should join Vance on a permanent basis somewhere in MLB land.  Nick Kingham (AAA), Tyler Waldron (AAA) and Jake Brigham (AAA) wait in the wings.

6T.  Arizona (2.7):  As bad, if not worse, than Pittsburgh in relief development.  The Snakes do slither, slide and stink after the sixth inning in developmental baseball.  I choose Silvino Bracho (A) as the sole hope of system wide relief efforts.  While speaking of bad pitching development, may I present the starters.  Below average on a good day.  Zeke Spruill (MLB/AAA), Chase Anderson (MLB/AA, skipped AAA) and Charles Brewer (MLB/AAA) alone with Bryan Woodall (AA) are, um, bright spots of a woeful group.  Moving to the offense, lots and lots of shortstops.  The deepest pool in MLB.  Nick Ahmed (MLB/AAA) leads a talented group.  Raul Navarro (ss/A+) and Ryan Gebhardt (ss/A+) will rise quickly.  Left and center are brimming with talent.  Alfredo Marte (lf/MLB/AAA), Tom Belza (lf/AA), Ender Inciarte (cf/MLB/AAA) and Mike Freeman (cf/AAA) should all find time in MLB during 2015.  Steve Rodriguez (AA) leads a talented, but young group of catchers.  First and right need a lot of work either due to age issues or lack of prospects.

7.  Los Angeles (2.6):  A system of extremes.  Plenty or famine.  Plenty at the 2, 4, 6 and 9 spots.  Famine at third, left and center.  Only first offers in between.  Why Tim Federowicz (c/MLB/AAA) does not stick in L.A. is a mystery.  Chris O’Brien (c/AA) will soon push Mr. Federowicz.  Since the Dodgers traded for Howie Kendrick, I imagine Alex Guerrero (2b/MLB/AAA) and Ryan Adams (2b/MLB/AA, skipped AAA) are available.  Corey Seager has been crowned heir apparent at short, but Miguel Rojas (ss/MLB/AAA) can also hit and field as can the tongue twister Erisbel Arruebarrena (ss/MLB/AAA).  Speaking of heir apparent, Joe Pedersen (cf/MLB/AAA), despite impressive numbers, may be available post-spring given the eternal log jam in the Dodgers’ outfield, Kemp reduced or not.  Starting pitching is as substantial as gruel.  Candidates do not exist above the A+ level.  Pin hope on Jonathan Martinez (A).  The relief group is slightly less thin.  One AAA candidate and one AA candidate.  Then the gruel returns.  The Dodgers have the worst pitching development in minor league baseball.  The worst.

8.  Cincinnati (2.5):  The 2-9 spots are weak in AA development.  Not a good long term sign.  Neftali Soto (3b/MLB/AAA), Jake Elmore (2b/MLB/AAA), Bryan Anderson (c/MLB/AAA/AA) and Rey Navarro (ss/AAA) are the best bets to remain out of AAA in 2015.  After the less than thick offering of AAA help, we skip AA for the most part (Seth Mejias-Brean/3b/AA/A+ holds the greatest hope) and we drop to A+ ball for the majority of the prospects.  Returning to the Dodger crown of horrible pitching development, the Reds are not far behind.  Both starters and relievers rate below average.  The most promising starters are Ben Lively (A+) and Daniel Wright (A+/A).  The upper levels of relievers are just as unspectacular as starters, so I offer Juan Gonzalez (A+), Layne Somsem (A) and Nolan Becker (A) as future bullpen Reds.

9.  Chicago (2.4):  Not a single shortstop or centerfielder in their system.  Two in left.  Granted, two each at third and right, but two of those four are Kris Bryant (3b/AAA/AA) and Jorge Soler (rf/MLB/AAA/AA).  Thus, forgiveness is granted.  Catching is loaded.  Most interesting is Kyle Schwarber (A+/A), but he has plenty of competition above and below.  First and second are the next two spots offering choice, but with Rizzo at first Lars Anderson (1b/MLB/AAA/AA) is bound for elsewhere, though he can play.  The same fate awaits Mike Olt (1b/MLB/AAA, though he was once the third baseman of the future for Texas, thus he has position options).  Starting pitching is full of talent.  Consider the possible inclusion of Eric Jokisch ((MLB/AAA), Kyle Hendricks (MLB/AAA), Dallas Beeler (MLB/AAA), Chris Rusin (MLB/AAA) and possibly Joe Gardner (AA).  As for the ‘pen, Marcus Hartley (AAA) and Andrew McKirahan (AA/A+) are the best of a less than impressive group.

10.  San Francisco (2.3):  Sparse development.  Nobody at first.  One guy at short (Matt Duffy/MLB/AA, skipped AAA).  Two guys in right (though, Juan Perez posted very strong numbers.  MLB/AAA).  Center has no prospects at AAA or AA.  We witnessed the rise of Joe Panik (2b/MLB/AAA), though he may well be pushed by Blake Miller (2b/AA/A+).  Most of the 2-9 talent is found at the A+ level.  Pitching development is average.  The best starter is Clayton Blackburn (AA).  Hunter Strickland (MLB/AA, skipped AAA) and Cody Hall (AA) are the best relief prospects of a group that registered six system wide.

11.  Colorado (2.1):  Ugh.  Meh.  The future is, um, in the distance.  The following 2-9 guys in A ball are worth a watch:  Joe Briceno (c, 44% toss rate), Raimel Tapia (lf), David Dahl (cf), Ashley Graeter (c, 36% toss rate), Patrick Valaika (ss) and Dillon Thomas (lf).  Rarely do I see a team with few A+ prospects, but the Rockies fell into that hole.  Rarely, do I see 4 (the number between 3 and 5) prospects at a AA, but the Rockies fell into that hole as well.  Starting pitching development is average.  Daniel Winkler (AA) is the best in system.  Five guys made the cut as relievers.  You guess.  You choose.

12.  Milwaukee (1.9):  Positive spin . . . they have catchers.  An absolute log jam at AA (Shawn Zarraga, Adam Weisenburger and Joey Paciorek).  Plus one guy at A+ (Parker Berberet) and guy at A (Rafael Neda).  First is barren, less the mystery of Matt Clark (MLB/AAA) who should have logged year 5 in MLB a long time ago.  Two prospects at third:  Jason Rogers (MLB/AAA/AA) and Taylor Smith-Brennan (A).  The rest of the 2-9 development is a shoulder shrug.  But, wait!  The Brew Crew develops starters.  Jimmy Nelson (MLB/AAA), Tyler Cravy (AA), Jed Bradley (A+) and Taylor Williams (A+/A) are the best of a solid core.  Relievers, not so much.  The majority of the talent lies in A+.  Overall, average at best.

13.  Philadelphia (1.3):  I’m so sorry, Phillies’ fans.  Your organization does nothing well regarding development.  You scout, draft, sign and develop as well as SONY decides to release film.  The only spots that ranked average were catching and right field.  The rest are bad, stinky, yucky and road kill-ish (new word).  And now for pitching.  I’m so sorry, Phillies’ fans.  Okay, I’ll stop.  Both starting pitching and relief rated below average.  Here are two names, both starters:  Aaron Nola (AA/A+) and Ryan Demmin (A+).  I rated seven relievers system wide.  Maybe Hector Neris (MLB/AAA) sticks in the Bigs.  Maybe Tyler Knigge (AAA/AA).  Does anybody believe in explosives?