Minoring in Twitter: Minor Leaguers react to Paris terror attacks

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com 

Terrorist attacks around Paris shocked the world last Friday, and the baseball community took to Twitter to share their thoughts in the aftermath:

On the subject of the Paris attacks, a day after here in New York, I captured Army football’s tribute:

Minor Leaguers really like Justin Bieber

A’s prospect Matt Olson throws his support behind Justin Bieber, who is perhaps best known to sports fans as Floyd Mayweather’s bling:

David Dahl? Count him as a Belieber as well:

No, no – believe it. This is apparently a trend. Minor Leaguers really do like Justin Bieber:

MiLB feels for Ronda

Minor Leaguers had to weigh in after — spoiler alert — UFC champ Ronda Rousey was dealt a stunning knockout loss this past weekend. Now, y’all remember Cubs outfielder Anthony Giansanti and his absurdly over-publicized offer to leave Triple-A tickets for Ronda. He, like many, weighed in on her defeat:

Get over it, folks:

Dodgers Organization All-Stars extras

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com

Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler talked to MiLB.com ahead of our Organization All-Stars story. Below are additional quotes on the Dodgers’ Minor League system.

On characteristics the Dodgers seek in new coaches and instructors:

“Strong leaders, people who lead by example through diligence and work ethic on a day-to-day basis, people with a willingness to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs.”

On Minor League clubs posting winning records:

“I think every leap forward, anything we get to celebrate together in player development is a win. Our ability to be competitive at the affiliates certainly falls into that category.”

On Kyle Farmer’s hitting: 

(Arizona Fall League)

(Arizona Fall League)

“He was consistently barreling up the baseball and driving it gap to gap.”

On whether the Dodgers are looking for Cody Bellinger to strike out fewer times and boost his batting average next year:

“We’re looking for Belly to come into camp in the best physical and mental condition and trusting he will take the steps necessary to become the all-around baseball player he can be. That entails playing close attention to nutrition and strength and conditioning and working on his ability to identify pitches he can drive and continuing to develop as a human being. We believe wholeheartedly in the steps he took forward in 2015 and that he’ll continue to grow and take steps forward in 2016.”

On the likelihood of Bellinger continuing to see time in the outfield after playing second base so well:

“No matter what position we put him at, he comes ready to play every day. … We challenge our guys to come to the ballpark professionally, and he’s taken that to heart. He comes prepared to play hard at any position you ask him to play and he does so at every position. We envision him getting reps in the outfield.”

On Brandon Dixon’s intangibles:

“Something that’s been really impressive is how he can mix in at any clubhouse. I don’t know if there’s a more well-liked player in the organization. Everybody loves Brandon Dixon — his teammates, coaches, our rovers. Everybody in the organization is really high on him.”

On Paul Hoenecke’s lower homer total and higher batting average:

“Obviously, he can’t control where it goes after he hits it, but he’s certainly done a good job of finding his way onto the basepaths. If there’s something about him that’s enabled him to have success, it’s getting into firing position and utilizing his lower half to drive the baseball.”

On Corey Seager’s defense and future at shortstop:

(Bobby Stevens / MiLB.com)

(Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com)

“Sometimes we see a guy consistently make plays that look so easy and so routine that we don’t necessarily see acrobatic plays. What does that mean? He makes plays others make look acrobatic, he makes those plays look effortless. One thing that’s fascinating about Corey: the throws he makes on cutoffs and relays to cut down runners going from first to third look almost identical to the throws he makes with nobody on, when he’s just relaying the ball back. That calm. He’s got that thing that allows him to keep his body under control in high-pressure situations.”

On keys for Jacob Scavuzzo in the batter’s box:

“We wanted him to continue to identify strikes early, and he did. He did that at Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga all the way through — that’s something he’s done a good job of and being aggressive, attacking fastballs early in the count. That’s something we want all our players to do, but he’s done a good job of that.”

On expectations for Scavuzzo in the AFL: 

“I don’t know if there was anything in particular we wanted him to focus on in the Arizona Fall League, but we definitely want all of our [outfielders] to get good jumps in the outfield, and one way we ask them to do that is get into a strong athletic position as the ball crosses the plate And he’s done that.

On what they’d hoped to see from Tyler Ogle repeating the Cal League: 

“In player development, we have the expectation that a guy like Tyler will improve in everything, and that includes the mechanics of his swing, that includes his approach to balls and strikes. We focus on that in player development — we want to sharpen a player’s all-around game, including his ability to drive the ball with runners on and less than two outs, his ability to lay down the bunt, and Tyler does the little things.”

On Zach Lee’s efficiency in the PCL: 

“His command in OKC was fantastic. He demonstrated an ability to throw the ball where he wants. He works fast and deliberately, like a man on a mission.”

On what makes Julio Urias so special:

(Walter Bernard/MiLB.com)

(Walter Bernard/MiLB.com)

“He’s about as charismatic and dynamic an individual as we have in the organization. He’s super communicative and incredibly intelligent, very well liked, very prepared, very driven. With that, coupled with his athleticism and lower drive and his fastball characteristics, plus the simple grind of being a baseball dude, he has the makings of a really special contributor to our organization. He’s a guy who’s going to be good for a long time.”

Making sense of the Andrelton Simmons deal

Braves acquisition Sean Newcomb. (Mark Wagner/Arkansas Travelers).

Braves acquisition Sean Newcomb. (Mark Wagner/Arkansas Travelers).

By Sam Dykstra/MiLB.com

This is the good stuff. An offseason trade that gets the Hot Stove flaming hot and gives us plenty to sink our teeth into and chew on — for what could be the long haul too.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Angels completed a shocking trade with the Braves by acquiring shortstop and all-around defensive god Andrelton Simmons (as well as catching prospect Jose Briceno) for top prospect Sean Newcomb, right-handed starter Chris Ellis, Major League shortstop Erick Aybar and cash (reportedly $2.5 million). You can read Josh Jackson’s breakdown of the trade for MiLB.com here.

But see what I mean? That’s one major big-league player and a throw-in for an expiring contract, one quite promising Minor Leaguer, a mid-level prospect and some cash. It’s a trade that really makes you break out the theoretical scales and try to figure out if the deal was indeed equal for both sides and, also, what the transaction means for both sides.

Let’s tackle that last objective first. It’s obvious that the Angels saw a chance to replace their 31-year-old shortstop, who had just an 81 OPS+ last season and is entering the final year of his contract, with the best defensive shortstop in the game, who has been worth 3.2 fWAR over the last three seasons and is due $54 million through the next five seasons. The cost was their two best prospects, which makes their farm system quite barren with no top-100 prospects in the system. But with the club just missing out on the playoffs in 2015 and trying to get in win-now mode while they have Mike Trout and while Albert Pujols remains good, they decided to mortgage their future. The Angels weren’t dealing from a position of strength, but no one doubts that the Major League club is now stronger than it was 24 hours ago.

As for the Braves, this is just the latest move in what has been their pitching rebuild from the bottom up. Since the end of the 2014 season, they’ve acquired Newcomb (who is now their top prospect), Ellis, Touki Toussaint, Kolby Allard (through the Draft), Tyrell Jenkins, Manny Banuelos, Max Fried, Mike Soroka (Draft), Zachary Bird, Daniel Winkler (Rule 5), Rob Whalen and John Gant — and those are just pitchers who are currently ranked among their top 30 prospects. (Toss in Major Leaguers Shelby Miller, Matt Wisler and Mike Fotlynewicz.) Atlanta, which finished 2015 with the third-worst record in baseball (67-95), is banking on the idea that if it can acquire enough quality arms, enough of them (five preferably) will be ready by 2017 to form an impressive, young, financially controllable rotation a la their NL East rival in New York. It’s a gamble that any pitching prospect will pan out, but the Braves seem to hope sheer volume will be on their side.

As for the shortstop position, they’re not only banking on the fact that Simmons’ bat (career 85 OPS+) won’t get better and that his defense (25 defensive runs saved in 2015, most among Major League shortstops) starts to dwindle as he gets older. (Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs provides a good study of why that may not be the case.) Aybar will be a holdover for one year, and No. 2 prospect Ozhaino Albies, who only turns 19 in January, now has a clear shot to the Majors as a plus switch-hitter with speed and solid (if not Simmonsesque) defense, although his ETA isn’t likely until late 2017 or even 2018. As J.J. Cooper noted for Baseball America, the Braves still have plenty of work to do outside pitching and shortstop, though, if they hope to contend by the time their new stadium opens in 2017.

So those are the philosophies behind why each team pulled the trigger on the deal. Now, was it an even deal?

To determine that, we’re going to use the concept of Simmons’ surplus value over the life of his contract and just how much prospects like Newcomb are considered to be typically worth in these deals.

To tackle Simmons’ surplus value, let’s establish a few things. First, he’s due $54 million over the next five seasons. That’s considered a team-friendly contract for a player who’s put up 3 WAR per year and will take him to his 31st birthday in 2020, i.e., the prime of his career. One win in WAR was considered to be worth about $8 million in 2015. To put that into perspective, Simmons was worth 3.2 fWAR, so that’s $25.7 million of value according to FanGraphs. During his Trade Value evaluations, FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron had Simmons pegged at No. 30, projecting that the shortstop to be worth 17.5 fWAR over the remaining five seasons of his contract, or roughly 3.5 WAR/year.

So we’re going to apply that $8 million/1.0 fWAR to the remainder of Simmons’ contract, multiply it by the amount of years (five) and a varying degree of projected WAR/year, going from one below FanGraphs’ projections to one above.

WAR/YR $ VALUE Surplus Value ($)
2.5 100 46
3 120 66
3.5 140 86
4 160 106
4.5 180 126

Going from $46 million in surplus value to $126 million is obviously a wide swath, but it gives you an idea of just how much value Simmons could potentially bring to the Angels, even if he doesn’t perform to everyone’s expectations.

So now that we have one side of the scale set — sidenote: Briceno obviously has some value but as a 23-year-old who had a .482 OPS at Class A Advanced, it’s essentially negligible — we have to see how much we’re adding to the other side.

We’ll start with Aybar, since he’s the easiest to quantify as a known Major League talent. He’s owed $8.5 million for the final year of his contract and, according to Steamer projections, is expected to be worth about 1.4 fWAR next season. That’s roughly $2.7 million in surplus value, which is obviously hardly a dent in the $46-126 million surplus value we’re talking about with Simmons. If we think his fWAR will be anywhere between 0.5-2.5, now we’re at a surplus value range of $-4.5 million and $11.5 million. So that’s what we’re working with for Aybar.

Establishing the values of Newcomb and Ellis are much harder but not impossible. PiratesProspects.com’s Kevin Creagh and DRaysBay’s Michael Valancius did separate pieces back in 2012 about establishing expected surplus values for prospects based on their positions and ranking among top-100 prospects. Newcomb is considered MLB.com’s No. 19 overall prospect, so that’s where we’ll put him on those scales. Creagh’s research puts Newcomb’s value at $18.89 million while Valancius pegs him for $23.76 million. Let’s consider that our range.

Let’s look at what we have so far without Ellis, including the $2.5 million in cash:

Player Low Value Medium Value High Value
Aybar -4.5 3.5 11.5
Newcomb 18.89 21.33 23.76
Cash 2.5 2.5 2.5
Total 16.89 27.33 37.76

The reason I’ve left out Ellis thus far is because there’s little research, if any, determining the worth of a prospect ranked outside the top 100. If he sat just on the cusp, he’d be worth $7.93 million according to Creagh and $14.26 million according to Valancius. But the thing is he’s not close to the top 100. Since moving to the Atlanta system, Ellis is considered the organization’s No. 9 prospect, five spots behind its last top-100 representative in Allard (Braves No. 4, overall No. 88). For the sake of this exercise, I’m going to peg his worth between $4-7 million, just under half that of a back-end top-100 prospect.  Let’s see where that gets us:

Player Low Value Medium Value High Value
Aybar -4.5 3.5 11.5
Newcomb 18.89 21.33 23.76
Ellis 4 5.5 7
Cash 2.5 2.5 2.5
Total 20.89 32.83 44.76

Conclusion: Using these figures, to make this trade even, we’d have to take Simmons at his lowest projection and the group of Aybar, Newcomb and Ellis at their highest projections. Every other scenario has the Angels looking like bandits. Now, the Braves are probably quite high on Newcomb and are betting that he figures out his control issues and will prove to be worth much more than even $23.76 million while under Atlanta’s control. By the same token, the Braves are probably quite low on Simmons and are betting on him being closer to a 2.5 WAR player for the next five years than a 3.0 WAR player. Only time will tell, but for now, it looks like it’d take a pretty big stretch of the imagination and numbers to see the Braves come out ahead in this trade.

Minoring in Twitter: Verlanders golf, Glasnow feeds an elephant, Boog surfs and Reed wants to sell you his Jordans

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

It’s a slow news week here on Minoring in Twitter, but when in need, there’s always Ben Verlander:

Kate Upton was also there:

This is what Minoring in Twitter was made for: Pirates No. 1 prospect Tyler Glasnow appears to be feeding bananas to an elephant while wearing a blue denim dress:

Now hold on, there’s a valid explanation for this. Tyler is in Thailand:

Hunter Harvey went hunting in Ohio, but didn’t have much success:

Cody Decker takes a shot at the embattled Colin Cowherd:

Red Sox righty Michael McCarthy has been busy teaching baseball around the world:

Rays righty Kyle McKenzie tweets about the taste of water and dating woes:


A conversation with Pacific Coast League MVP Duffy


James Ramirez/Fresno Grizzlies

By Alex Kraft / MiLB.com

It was a pretty good year for Matt Duffy in 2015. The 26-year-old third baseman from Boston, Massachusetts played for the Triple-A national champion Fresno Grizzlies and walked away with Pacific Coast League MVP honors. In the wake of the Grizzlies being awarded the MiLBy for Best Team of 2015, Duffy took a few minutes to reflect on his experience with the team as well as a year that saw him establish several statistical bests, be a part of a 19-1 run, play alongside Carlos Correa (twice) and earn his first big-league callup during the Astros’ playoff run.

Q: When the season was getting started, what did you expect from this team in terms of what you thought this group was capable of?

Duffy: “Before the season when the rosters came out after Spring Training, a lot of guys were on the bubble for making the [Astros] out of Spring Training. So right there you know you have a talented group when there are so many guys that really had an opportunity to make the big league club.

“So I knew looking around at first that we were going to be really good. I expected us to be really good, and obviously we were really good. We had high expectations. Our coach [Tony DeFrancesco], I remember in the first meeting he said we should expect to win the whole thing and that should be our goal, and it was great to accomplish that.”

Q: At the beginning of the year you had a chance to play with big-name players such as Preston Tucker, Domingo Santana and Carlos Correa. What was it like working with them?

Duffy: “It was awesome. As you started to rattle off some of the names right there, I forgot about Santana and Tuck. I mean, the lineup was just stacked. It was crazy. It was awesome to pick those guys’ brains about hitting every day when we were in the cage and stuff.

“Everyone got along. I think that’s what made us very good in that everyone was friendly with one other. We had great chemistry and guys were really pulling for each other, whether it was talking about the pitcher and trying to help each other out or helping each other make adjustments in the cage. It was a fun atmosphere to be in, and like I said, a great group of guys.”

Q: Throughout the season your team sent a lot of talent to the Majors, but were able to integrate guys like Tony Kemp, Tyler White and Mark Appel from Double-A Corpus Christi. What were they able to bring to the table?

Duffy: “It seemed like every time someone went up, someone stepped in seamlessly and we didn’t miss a beat. We could win in multiple different ways at the beginning of the year. We had power 1 through 9, and then as the lineup kind of shifted, we became more of a small-ball team and just manufactured runs. It was really cool to kind of be there most of the year and see the multiple ways we could win a game.

“It was just really cool, and those guys did a great job. Tony Kemp, Mark Appel. They came up and they obviously were there down the stretch and were a huge part of why we won. It’s definitely a testament to the organization and how deep we are and how good the talent is and the coaching. It was definitely fun to see them have that much success.”

Q: You guys led the PCL in runs. What made this lineup so tough to pitch to?

Duffy: “I’d break it down to every batter was a really tough out 1 through 9. We really didn’t have any weak holes, and every guy had a role and they played it well. Whether your role was to drive in runs or get on base, no one tried to get outside of their game. Everyone just stayed within themselves, and it just worked.

“We had great table setters in Tony Kemp and the guys that hit at the front of the order. Whoever it was seemed to be getting on base and the guys would try to have good at-bats behind them, and like I said, just any way we could manufacture a run. We could steal a base, we had speed, so we could do it more than one way.”

Q: As a team you opened August with 19 wins in 20 games. What was it like going on such a dominant run?

Duffy: “That was ridiculous, that was definitely the coolest. That’s when I really, really knew we were really good, ’cause I had never been a part of anything like that. It’s Triple-A, there’s great talent on all the teams in the league and great pitching. So to think that we could rattle off that many in a row, looking back, is awesome. That was something that I hope I can be a part of again at any level of baseball. That was just a great streak … we were feeling good after that going into the playoffs.”

Q: For yourself, personally, what did it mean to you to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player at the end of the year?

Duffy: “That was great. When they announced that, I was definitely happy. It was cool for my family that I got to tell them. My teammates were happy, but like I said earlier, it really helped having guys on base that allowed me to drive in a lot of runs and kind of have some big numbers because our team was so good.

“So it wasn’t like I had to put the team on my back and carry it. There was a new guy every single night. There was someone new getting the job done. It was great to win the award. It was definitely a huge testament to my team and how good my teammates were to help me get some of those numbers, but it was great. I’ll definitely remember it forever.”

Q: You got your first Major League callup while the Grizzlies were in the PCL semifinals. Obviously, you love an opportunity to get up to the big leagues, but at the same time, was it tough to leave this group that you had spent so much time with?

Duffy: “Yes and no. You’ve played with those guys all year and you form relationships and friendships, so you definitely want to be out there with your teammates trying to finish off what you started. … The first callup to the Major Leagues … there’s nothing like that. When that comes in anytime, that’s gonna be, I mean, that’s a dream come true. Obviously, you want to play with your guys and I wished them well. I still stayed tuned and knew what was going on and texted my teammates. But that callup, it was a feeling you only have once.”

Q: What was it like finding out that your old teammates had won the Triple-A National Championship Game? Was that a proud moment for you?

Duffy: “Yeah, it was awesome. So we had a bunch of guys [in Houston], I mean, I wasn’t the only one. There was a bunch of guys that started the year in Fresno and played a little bit there. All those guys were keeping an eye on the Grizzlies the whole year.

“Like I said, you become really good friends with these guys coming up, so you’re just checking in on the team to see how they’re doing. So yeah, it was great to find out. Me and Max Stassi and Tucker and Correa and all those guys were excited for the Grizzlies to win it.”

Q: You had a chance to see what’s in place (in Houston) and what’s coming up (in Fresno). How exciting is it being part of the Astros organization right now?

Duffy: “It’s awesome. There’s so much talent in this organization. I think the Astros are going to be good for a very long time. I’m happy to be here obviously. Happy to be a part of the playoff run with the Astros. I know they’ve got a boatload of talent coming up. Hopefully, I can be fortunate enough to be a part of it.”

Cubs Organization All-Stars extras

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com

Cubs director of player development Jaron Madison had plenty more to say about his system than we could fit into our Organization All-Star story. Below, read Madison’s quotes on …

The importance of winning in the Minors:

“It’s a fine line between winning in the Minor Leagues and developing players. We want to build a winning culture and we want our players to understand it’s important to have a good year statistically and help yourself move through the ranks, but at the same time, the focus is on being a good teammate, being selfless and willing to do whatever you can to help the team get a ‘W.’ It’s nice to win on the Minor League level, and it’s great that we won a championship there, but that’s just part of the process of getting to win consecutive and multiple championships at the big league level.”

“We make sure guys understand, if you’re a power hitter, there might be a time when Joe [Maddon] asks you to bunt or do a safety squeeze in the National League Division Series, and you better be prepared to do it.”

On Willson Contreras’ breakout season at Double-A Tennessee: 

“Playing the offseason in Venezuela really helped him understand what he needs to do offensively, and we’re all excited for him.”

(Buck Davidson/Pro Sports Media, Inc.)

(Buck Davidson/Pro Sports Media, Inc.)

On the gap between Contreras’ strong arm and his 28 percent rate of throwing out would-be basestealers:

“That has to do with the pitchers he’s catching and the jumps baserunners get off them, but Willson also does need to work on the transfer, receiving and just the accuracy of his arm. He does have a very strong arm, but sometimes he’s overdone it [with the throw] and things get out of whack, so he just needs to let it happen and not force it.”

On Jason Rogers bouncing between the Carolina and Southern leagues: 

“We had the opportunity to move him up to Double-A when [Dan] Vogelbach went down [with an injury], and he got some experience there. And when we were able to move him back down, he picked right up.”

On whether hamstring and oblique injuries affect Vogelbach’s power numbers: 

“It’s hard to say, but I imagine the oblique would. It’s hard to do anything in baseball with a strain in an oblique. I don’t know if you can just point to that and say that’s why he didn’t hit for as much power, but, sure, it factors into the process. Now he’s completely healthy and it’s about getting pitches he can really impact and leveraging hitter’s counts, and it’s time for him to step and show the kind of power hitter he can be.”

(Marvin Gentry)

(Marvin Gentry)

On the temptations of Arismendy Alcantara’s power:

“He’s hit home runs all through his career — he hit 10 home runs in the big leagues [in 2014] — and he’s a sneaky strong guy. Now he’s working on getting comfortable with the hit-and-run, moving the runner over, doing everything he needs to do to get on base because he can impact the game with his speed.”

On Jeimer Candelario’s pitch selection and aggressiveness:

“The tools are there for him to be a really good player from both sides of the plate, and it was just a matter of everything synching up, and rather than him waiting for that absolutely perfect pitch, being aggressive on good pitches and putting the ball in play.”

On Javier Baez’s dynamism:

“Even when he’s not swinging the bat really well, he still makes an impact with his defense and his baserunning. He’s a smart player and he’s started to understand he can do other things to help the team. He’s shown the ability to produce even when he doesn’t put the barrel on the ball because he has tremendous bat speed.”

(Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com)

(Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com)

On Robert Garcia’s growth:

“He’s always been a guy that’s interesting, and we thought it was time to bring him over to the States and challenge him. He showed he can hang and handle the league and a little more advanced pitching. It put him on the radar with us, and I’m sure there are a lot of other scouts who have noticed him, too.”

On Mark Zagunis stealing 12 bases in 22 tries, compared to 16 thefts in 18 attempts in 2014:

“He has sneaky speed for a strong body guy and he can impact the game on the bases. He did a lot of work this year with [outfield and baserunning coordinator] Doug Dascenzo with baserunning and his leads and understanding the situation because he does have the tools to be an impact baserunner. He worked on understanding different pitchers’ time to the plate and pop times and catcher’s arm strength. It’s the last piece of the puzzle with his baserunning, and once everything comes together, he’s going to take a big step forward.”

On expectations surrounding Billy McKinney: 

“Now it’s just a matter of continuing to learn pitchers and making adjustments and staying healthy. Toward the end of the year, he had a knee issue, but it was exciting, a special season. It’s not something we were surprised by because he’s advanced as a hitter. He’s shown he can hit at every level since high school and against all different types of pitching.”

(Ben Sandstrom)

(Ben Sandstrom)

On Chesny Young’s versatility:

“That’s valuable, to have a guy who can play all over the field and consistently gets on base and makes solid contact. You’ve seen that Joe [Maddon’s] not afraid to mix up lineups and positioning, so that gives [Young] another advantage. We’re going to continue to challenge him and have him in the infield and some in the outfield.”

On Ryan Williams’ 98 strikeouts over 141 2/3 innings:

“I think the strikeouts will come as he learns how to set hitters up and exploit weaknesses or get them when they’re being really aggressive, but he’s a guy who doesn’t always like to get to two strikes. He likes to get them quicker than that, but as he grows and as he moves up, he’ll understand that he has to miss more bats.”

On Justin Steele’s limited innings: 

“We wanted a few more innings out of him, but he had a little arm setback, nothing major. We just decided to be cautious with him and shut him down for a little bit. He’s out here [in Arizona] working with our strength and conditioning [staff], but we really want to help him get in a position to get deeper into games, build on pitch total. He’s an exciting guy. We were expecting a little more [innings], but you can’t always control what happens when injuries pop up and sometimes we have to decide on what we think will work best in the long term, and we limited his innings.”

On P.J. Francescon’s M.O.:

“He’s confident and he knows he can handle the situation late in the game. He has the makeup and aptitude to challenge guys late in the game, and he goes right at guys. He’s not going to try to trick you. He’s going to come right at you and try to get outs as quickly as he can, and he did.”

“He could have moved up to Triple-A sooner than he did, but we had a lot of guys at the Triple-A level doing well, so he got the opportunity a little later on and he continued to have success. He’ll come into Spring Training and we’ll try to get in as much work for him as we can, and we’ll make sure the big league guys see him, too, just to get him that exposure.”

Minoring in Twitter: A comprehensive chronicling of Halloween costumes in the Minors

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

Halloween has sadly passed — I wish October would just continue on for another five months — but at least we can now look back on the ridiculous costumes Minor Leaguers donned for parties and team photos. Sit back, there’s a lot to see:

Yankees prospect Tyler Wade:


Angels Organization All-Stars outtakes

Kaleb Cowart hit .323/.395/.491 for Triple-A Salt Lake this season. (Paul Asay/MiLB.com)

Kaleb Cowart hit .323/.395/.491 for Triple-A Salt Lake this season. (Paul Asay/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan/MiLB.com

Over on the site, we published the 2015 Angels Organization All-Stars, detailing the top players at each position in the organization. Because Bobby Scales, the director of player development, had plenty of things to say about his system, we have some bonus content. Plus, there are a few players that deserve honorable mentions for their respective seasons.

Catcher — Taylor Ward, Orem (32 games), Burlington (24 games): It didn’t take long for Ward to prove why he was the Angels’ first-round pick in this year’s Draft. The 21-year-old out of Fresno State hit .349 in Rookie ball and wasn’t fazed when he made the leap to Class A, finishing the campaign with a .348 average and 31 RBIs in 56 games.

Outfield — Alfredo Marte, Salt Lake (97 games), Los Angeles (five games): The Angels claimed Marte off waivers from the D-backs in October of 2015 and saw big league potential in him. While bouncing between Triple-A and the Majors four times, the left fielder maintained a .318 average with the Bees and a .333 mark with Los Angeles.

Utility Grant Green, Salt Lake (93 games), Los Angeles (21 games): Another solid callup option for the Angels, Green hit .306 with 43 RBIs in the Minors. Defensively, he moved around the diamond and outfield as he garnered four trips to Anaheim, seeing playing time in “The Show” for the third straight year.

On what Kaleb Cowart had to deal with: 

“When you’re a high-profile pick, high-round pick and got a lot of money, it’s pressure. It’s a different kind of pressure than the 25-round pick that got $1,000 because that guy’s not supposed to do it; you’re supposed to it. And when you don’t, people start asking questions and rightfully so in some cases — but I’m so proud of him… To his credit, he took off and the young man got to the big leagues. He did it. I’m happy for him.”

On David Fletcher‘s defense:

“People love to put the David Eckstein comp on him and I think it’s accurate. Nothing he does is ever going to jump off the screen, tools-wise, but he just gets it done. He gets it done everywhere we put him, we put him a shortstop, he gets it done. We put him at second base, we did some of that in instructional league, it looks like he’s played there for 10 years; he’s a baseball player.”

On closer Greg Mahle‘s nature:

“He’s uber competitive. Greg’s the type of kid that if you went to the water fountain, he’s going to try to drink water faster than you can. That’s what you want out of your back-end guys. They don’t care how they’re going to do it, they don’t care what it looks like, but at the end of the day, they want to beat you; that’s his mentality.”

On Bo Way as a basestealer:

“One thing we really wanted him to work on was his ability to steal bases. He was a little bit hesitant to go early in the year, but as the season went on, he understand when to go, what are good percentages, what are good times, what are the pitchers doing and he got really proficient at stealing bases; he did a nice job.”

Rockies Organization All-Stars Outtakes

Jesus Tinoco dominated for Class A Asheville after being acquired in July. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

Jesus Tinoco dominated in Class A after being acquired in July. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com

Our Rockies Organization All-Stars story dropped Wednesday, but Colorado’s system had far more to cover beyond the 12 honored players. The Rockies organization is in a state of transition after Troy Tulowitzki’s departure, with perhaps more big moves on the way this offseason. Colorado senior director of player development Zach Wilson and Class A Asheville manager Warren Schaeffer were kind enough to entertain all of my questions about the club’s acquisitions from Toronto, injury updates, reflections on top 2015 picks Brendan Rodgers and Mike Nikorak and much more.

Wilson on Colorado’s midseason acquisitions from Toronto, No. 4 prospect Jeff Hoffman, No. 10 Miguel Castro and No. 18 Jesus Tinoco:

“We’re very excited about those guys. Our professional scouts did a great job of identifying each one of them. They all put up extremely good numbers as soon as they stepped into our organization. Their mentality was a good one because it’s not easy when you’ve got to change organizations, particularly in the middle of the year, but they came into it with an open mind. (more…)

Kaminsky: Indians prospect reminisces on ‘glamour’ of the Minors 

kaminsky_blog_headerKaminsky blog

Kaminsky headshotBy Rob Kaminsky / Special to MiLB.com

Indians Minor Leaguer Rob Kaminsky recently wrapped up his third season in professional baseball, one that saw the 2013 first-round Draft pick get traded at the deadline from St. Louis to Cleveland. The 21-year-old left-hander joins MiLB.com’s PROSPECTive Blog to share his memories, insights and thoughts on life in the Minors. Read more of his posts on RobKaminsky.com.

The Minor Leagues are far from luxurious. But then again, the Minors are the stepping-stone to get to where we all want to be, so complaining is pointless… But while it may not be too lush an experience, it does have some unbelievable benefits including a multitude of opportunities unavailable elsewhere, and many important life lessons to be learned.

When I got sent to the Midwest League to play with the Peoria Chiefs, it was the first time I would be spending more than just a few days in the Midwest. I am from New Jersey, three miles from New York City. The Midwest was something I only saw in the movies or read about in books. I never thought I would end up there for an extended period of time.

Lo and behold, baseball brought me there. As a nineteen-year-old “city” kid (as some more suburban folk have labeled me), playing in the Midwest with kids from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, etc. was an enlightening experience. It opened up my eyes to how diverse the world is and how different people can be. At the end of the day, it made me more whole of a person.

Baseball has facilitated many of my friendships that will last a lifetime. No – the Minor League experience is not some fairytale where everyone is best friends and gets along. But trust me: when you know you’re going to be being crammed on a bus for ten hours straight or in a hotel with only one restaurant within a twenty mile radius, you try your best to keep the peace in every sense of the word.

B4DoInfIUAEc0iAThough for the most part, we do all get along. We make the most of a unique and sometimes trying experience. In baseball, and particularly in the Minor Leagues, there are many things to be learned – on and off the field. And for the latter, there are many unwritten rules, which inevitably result in significant individual maturation and lots of team bonding.

The MiLB executives don’t expressly teach you how to handle your first ten-hour bus ride or how it might be a worthwhile investment to learn the basics of a new language in order to be able to communicate with some of your fellow teammates. We are constantly discovering these things ourselves and learning to adjust, as did the players who came before us. The journey is an incredible, eye opening experience.

And every player who came before us did exactly what we’re doing: bonding over Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches with the new friends we’ve found in teammates from other places around the world, and otherwise figuring it out as we go along.

Follow Rob on Twitter @Kaminsky21 and on RobKaminsky.com


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