Friday, October 14, 2011

All good things.

It pains me to say this, but I am shutting down Legends of Tomorrow. 

With the move down to Washington DC for college, the overload of work, and now the offer to work for Bleacher Report, I must say, it's been a ride. 

Thanks to Jon Springer and Ed Leyro, two Mets bloggers who were able to help me out when I ended to get started. 

Thanks to my friends and family for supporting me.

Thanks to all you readers who were there when I first started out with Bleeding Orange and Blue

You've all been great people. 

However, like I said, this doesn't mean that I'm fully done, Like I said, I now work for Bleacher Report, where I write about whatever sport I want to. I've already gotten 6 articles published, and now I'm a level 2 contributor. I hope this translates to future success, and I also hope that you all check out my written work on Bleacher Report. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lance McCullers, Son of a Gun

In 2012, one team will draft Lance McCullers Jr. in the first round of the draft. McCullers is the son of former reliever Lance Sr, who pitched 7 years in the majors most notably for the Padres and Yankees. While Lance Jr. won't find himself in pinstripes or camouflage next year, he will join the long list of fathers and sons in the majors, hopefully. Here's a scouting report on McCullers.

Lance Jr. has pretty much hit the ground running. As a sophomore, he was throwing 96 on the radar gun, not unlike the self proclaimed messiah of baseball, Bryce Harper. Like Bryce, he's a two-way star, as he plays infield too, but its widely believed that McCullers will wind up a pitcher, like his father. Since going to Tampa Jesuit, McCullers has left behind a trail of awards and top amateur team selections. He was the 2009 MaxPreps Freshman of the Year, was named to several Perfect Game USA all star teams, played in the 2011 Baseball Factory Under Armour All American game at Wrigley Field as the only non-senior, and was named a Louisville Slugger All American Honorable mention. He's committed to pitching for the University of Florida, but don't expect him to go unless Scott Boras takes him under his wing, which is highly likely.

McCullers' arsenal includes the aforementioned fastball, which as of now reaches high 90's velocity, a changeup that reaches the mid 80's, and a fast curveball that also reaches 80, all good pitches, However, sources have said that he has had struggles with command, which downgrades him a bit. Nonetheless, barring any injury, he's bound to go top 5 at the worst, top 3 at the best.

The burning question is obvious, will McCullers be the first high school pitcher taken 1st overall to make it to the big leagues? I believe it's a very slight possibility. The Astros are the presumptive frontrunners for the first overall pick though, and given that their minor league system is stacked with blue chip pitching prospects acquired from trades, McCullers may find himself dropped down to Minnesota at number 2. McCullers will make the major leagues, no doubt about it, but barring any really drastic decisions made by the Astros, who have yet to make a risky pick in the Ed Wade era, McCullers will find himself as a second option behind premier college talent Mark Appel.

In Conclusion, we can determine that McCullers is certainly a top level pitcher, but it's a long time before high school baseball starts, and to be honest, a lot can happen in a few months.

LOT Projection: Top 3 - Top 5 Pick, most likely Minnesota. Will reach majors by 2015-16, should develop into an ace if command is fixed. 10-12 year career, 2 all star selections. Capable of at least one 20 win season.

Here is video of McCullers in an interview with Perfect Game USA.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rule V and how it worked out this year

Last December, 19 somewhat major league ready baseball players got their chance to prove themselves when they were plucked from their original team's farm system, in the hope of catching lightning in a bottle. For most, their dream was short-lived, as they were soon returned after they couldn't make it out of Spring Training, for others, their work in the spring paid off. Let's take a look at how they did, and rate them on the Dan Uggla-Meter.

Those who stayed or were acquired and are currently in the majors:

Joe Paterson, Diamondbacks: Joe, a former College World Series hero at Oregon State was rescued from San Francisco, where at best he was stuck in AAA. Nonetheless, after he was taken, Paterson became a middle reliever in a solid Diamondback bullpen. His 3.60 ERA despite his 0-2 record gives him a solid mark on the Uggla-Meter.

Uggla-Meter: 7

Nathan Adcock, Royals: Adcock, who came from the Pirates, was a bullpen guy, but also started 3 games. His record was 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA and he had 35 strikeouts. In short, Adcock was good this year in a young Royals bullpen.

Uggla-Meter: 6

Elvin Ramirez, Nationals: All that Elvin did after getting selected from the Mets was land on the 60 Day Disabled List. 'Nuff said.

Uggla-Meter: 1

Aneury Rodriguez, Astros: Rodriguez was viewed as the prize of the Rule V draft before even being selected from the Rays. Nonetheless, as a starter, he failed to live up to expectations and has since pitched out of the bullpen. He does have 62 strikeouts to his credit though.

Uggla-Meter: 4

Scott Diamond, Twins: Diamond was returned to the Braves after Spring training, but the Twins wanted him badly enough to snag him back in exchange for another prospect. He was called up in July, and has been brilliant ever since.

Uggla-Meter: 5

Michael Martinez, Phillies:  The most successful of the hitters selected, Martinez, who came from the Nationals, has earned the role of super-sub. Even though he isn't a great hitter, his defense is impressive. Martinez could possibly become the new Jayson Werth in Philly.

Uggla-Meter: 6

Lance Pendleton, Astros: Interestingly enough Lance was on 2 teams this year. He made his debut with his original team, the Yankees after Phil Hughes went down, then was later claimed by the Astros. Pendleton has gone 0-0 with an ERA over 6, and it is possible that 2011 could be his only season in the majors. Also interestingly enough, Pendleton is the only Rule V'er I have seen in person, as I was at a Nationals-Astros game on September 10th. I saw him warming up with the other relievers. I referred to him as "White-Shades" for his ridiculous looking white sunglasses.

Uggla-Meter: 2

Pedro Beato, Mets: Pedro was originally drafted by the Mets but never signed, then was drafted by the Orioles. He should have signed with the Mets. Beato has been an effective middle reliever, and a personal favorite of Terry Collins. Even though Pedro hasn't had his chance to close. Nonetheless, he has to be the best pick in the draft. with a 3.92 ERA and a 2-1 Win Record, as well as a scoreless streak to start his major league career.

Uggla-Meter: 8

Those who were returned, and made their major league debut with their original team:

George Kontos: Yankees: Kontos didn't even make it out of spring training with the Padres. Nonetheless he was a September Call-up, and has yet to impress.

Uggla-Meter: 2

Those who made it out of Spring Training, were returned, then reacquired, and are in the Minors:

Josh Rodriguez, Pirates: Josh was good enough to contend for a starting position in the infield, but was mysteriously offered back to Cleveland in June. However, he was reacquired by Pittsburgh and currently plays in AAA.

Uggla-Meter: 3

Those who didn't make it:

Jose Flores, Indians
Adrian Rosario, Brewers (Later traded to the Mets in the Francisco Rodriguez deal)
Masin Tobin, Rangers (Traded to Texas from the Cubs)
Pat Egan, Orioles
Brad Emaus, Rockies (Returned to the Blue Jays from the Mets, then later traded to the Rockies)
Robert Fish, Angels
Cesar Cabral, Red Sox
Brian Broderick, Cardinals
Daniel Turpen, Red Sox

And there you have it. Wait until December to see if there will be another Uggla in the wings.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aftermath of the Deadline, part 2: Multisport Stars (or, The Many Faces of Bubba Starling)

The Draft deadline, which was August 15th, has been over for a few weeks, and there is plenty of analysis to go through. We started off with players who didn't sign, now we go to those who were multisport athletes, most notably Kansas City outfielder Bubba Starling.

The pictures on the right are all of the same person: Bubba Starling. Starling, who was the 5th overall pick of the 2011 draft, played baseball, football, and basketball for Gardner-Edgerton High School in Kansas, earning all-state honors in each sport. Regarded as a top baseball and football talent, Starling was aggressively scouted by the Kansas City Royals, and heavily recruited by the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. After graduating, he had a tough choice to make: Go to Nebraska and play football, or sign with the Royals? It took almost 3 months, but on the night of August 15th, Starling signed a professional contract with Kansas City. The total amount he signed for was a whopping $7.5 Million, which, given that Starling's agent is Scott Boras, is not that much of a surprise.

Starling's scouting report shows that he is a true athlete, and has the potential to grow, considering he had to balance a trimester's worth of football, basketball, and baseball each year. He even admitted that he isn't in his top form, as he only played baseball for a third of his school year, and didn't have enough time to train his baseball muscles. Regardless, if he develops into the star that he should be, expect great things from him, and he should find himself in the company of current prospects, but soon to be regulars Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in 3-4 years time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Aftermath of the Deadline, part 1: Missed signings

The August 15th signing deadline passed, and as usual, most of the action happened in the final hour. All but 2 teams signed their first round and  supplemental picks, with the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres each missing one player.

Tyler Beede: the first one who got away
The Blue Jays missed out on tough sign Tyler Beede, a Massachusetts Prep product, who committed to Vanderbilt. Beede, whose situation was comparable to now-Pirates outfielder Josh Bell (see article Where will Josh Bell go?") and high schoolers Bubba Starling and Archie Bradley, who turned down scholarships to play quarterback for the Universities of Nebraska and Oklahoma, respectively, was almost 100% committed to go to Vanderbilt, and like Bell, made it explicitly clear to all teams that he wanted to attend college. Regardless, Beede will play for Vanderbilt next year, and the Blue Jays will get the 22nd overall selection as compensation.

Brett Austin: the other one who got away
As for the Padres, they signed both their first round picks, outfielders Cory Spangenberg and Joe Ross, but unfortunately, they missed Providence high school catcher Brett Austin, who decided to play for North Carolina State. Austin, who was the 2nd highest rated prep catcher behind Blake Swihart, now of the Boston Red Sox, was nabbed 54th overall in the compensation round, Austin was compensation for Yorvit Torrealba, another catcher.

Those two are the latest in a recently established line of amateur talent who chose not to sign. Beginning in 2008, when Sandy Alderson did his first draft fix, one of his stipulations was that any team who didn't sign a first round or comp round pick would be given a pick in next years draft, exactly 1 spot behind their original. Here is the history of unsigned first and comp picks since 2008, and where they are now.

Gerrit Cole
In 2008, the first year of the fixed draft, only two players refused to sign with their respective teams. Aaron Crow (Washington Nationals) and Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees). A third player, Josh Fields (Seattle Mariners) missed the deadline, but because he was a college senior, he signed in January, becoming the last official draft-and-follow, a player who isn't signed until the following year. Fields went to Seattle, toiled in the minors, then was dealt to Boston in the Erik Bedard trade. As for Crow, he pitched in an independent league, and then was redrafted 12th overall by Kansas city. He made the major league team in 2011, and was named an all-star. Cole on the other hand pitched 3 years for UCLA, made the College world series final his sophmore year, and then was drafted first overall by Pittsburgh this year. 

Matt Purke
In 2009, 3 players did not sign, 2 first rounders and a comp pick. Matt Purke (Texas Rangers), LeVon Washington (Tampa Bay Rays) and James Paxton (Toronto Blue Jays). Purke pitched 2 years at TCU and made the College World Series, but arm trouble in his sophmore year dropped his stock, and he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft by Washington. LeVon Washington went to JuCo for a year, then was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2010, in the 4th round. Paxton, who actually was pitching at the University of Kentucky, was declared ineligible after signing an agent, and pitched in an independent league. In 2010, Seattle drafted him in the 4th round.

Dylan Covey
In 2010, 3 players didn't sign, all first rounders. Barret Loux (Arizona D-Backs), Dylan Covey (Milwaukee Brewers) and Karsten Whitson (San Diego Padres) Loux was a college pitcher out of Texas A&M, who unfortunately failed his physical, drawing caution flags. Loux was left out in the wind before the Texas Rangers came to the rescue and signed him. Whitson signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Florida, on the other hand, and appeared in the College World Series championship against South Carolina.
Covey just had bad luck, as he was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. Deciding to learn how to control his condition rather than accept the money, Covey quietly enrolled at the University of San Diego, where he now pitches for the Toreros. He is expected to be a top option for the 2013 draft. 

Stay tuned for Part 2: Coming soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An August projection for Rookies of the Year: National League Pitchers (part 4 in a 4 part series)

We finish up our 4 part projection for Rookie of the Year with the top 3 National League pitchers.

Here are the top 3 NL pitchers who could win Rookie of the Year

Dillon Gee, New York Mets: Gee has gone from being a little-known middle round draft pick to a top notch starter. He leads all NL rookie pitchers in wins (10) and innings pitched (114.3), and has tied the Mets record for consecutive wins in starts (8, with Doc Gooden). Gee's first half was amazing, unfortunately he wasn't rewarded with an all-star nod. Nonetheless, Gee has the stuff to be a mid-rotation anchor for years to come, and should he lower his ERA and win at least 4 more games, he could be the first NL pitcher since Dontrelle Willis to win Rookie of the Year.

Vance Worley, Philadelphia Phillies: In a Phillies rotation known as the Phantastic 4, with one of their mighty arms currently on the disabled list and pondering retirement, one rookie has managed to prove himself worthy of being that pitcher's replacement. Vance Worley is the only other starting pitcher in the National League worth noting. as he has an 8-1 record with a 2.35 ERA; 2nd and first, respectively among NL rookie starting pitchers. Worley has electric stuff and the poise of a Zen master, but in order to overtake Gee as top NL rookie pitcher, he will have to blow people away and make himself a titan in a titanic rotation.

Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: John who? Craig Kimbrel has to be the best reliever that the Braves have had. He already has 36 saves, tops among rookie relievers, and is on pace to save at least 15 more games, maybe more. Kimbreal has a sub-2.00 ERA as well, and has 89 strikeouts, more than any rookie except for padres pitcher Corey Luebke and teammake Brandon Beachy. Kimbrel may be impressive, but he's not going to win, let alone finish in the top 3 unless he breaks 45 saves, and even then, he would have to beat out teammate Freddie Freeman, who in turn is also having a great season at the plate. Even though Kimbrel may have a hard time cracking the top 3, he could garner plenty of votes both in the Rookie of the Year award voting and the NL Cy Young voting.

That's the last post in this 4 part series, however there will be a bonus post which determines who will win the Rookie of the Year awards. Also, be on the lookout for the Legends of Tomorrow Awards, which will be released the day after the season ends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An August projection for Rookies of the Year: National League Batters (part 3 in a 4 part series)

We've already considered the top candidates for the American League Rookie of the Year, 3 hitters, and 3 pitchers. Now it's time to focus on the Senior Circuit, more specifically, the hitters.

Here are the top 3 candidates for Rookie of the Year, according to me.

Freddie Freeman: 1B, Atlanta Braves: Fearless Freddie, as I like to call him, could potentially run away with the Rookie of the Year, should he continue to produce at the rate that he's been going. He's tops among all non June call-ups with a .300 batting average, is second only to Danny Espinosa in home runs at 15 and RBI at 54, leads all rookies with 120 hits, and is more of a slugger than anyone else. I've actually seen Freeman in person, and he is definitely a contender for the Rookie of the Year honor, though he's still not as good as Jason Heyward was last year.

Danny Espinosa: 2B, Washington Nationals: As is the case with Blue Jays catcher JP Arencibia, Danny Espinosa is an all or nothing guy. Either he hits a big home run, or he strikes out. As previously mentioned, Espinosa is first in home runs and RBI (17 and 55, respectively)and also in stolen bases with 12, but his batting average is a paltry .226, not exactly praiseworthy. Nonetheless, Espinosa is a hustler who does everything he can to win, and he's proven to be popular with the DC crowd, as evidenced by Danny Espinosa Bobblehead day in September. Espinosa needs to go on a tear, if he wishes to at least contend with Fearless Freddie, otherwise, he'll go down the tubes.

Justin Turner: 2B, New York Mets: The last time a New York Met won the Rookie of the Year award, it was 1984, almost 27 years ago. This year, the Mets have a contender in Justin Turner. Turner may not hit as well as Freeman (.268 batting average) or as hard as Espinosa (2 home runs) but the one thing he has that could at least propel him into 2nd place is a Rookie of the Month award (Freddie Freeman recently won the award for July, which is why Turner could settle for 2nd place among hitters). Nonetheless, Turner has also set a Mets record for consecutive games with an RBI, and he went from the starting second baseman in Buffalo to the starting 3rd baseman in New York when David Wright was hurt. Turner now plays 22d base, but he could garner a few votes for his ability to handle situations and his close competition with Espinosa and Freeman.

The last post will focus on National League pitchers.