This probably won’t become a new thing, especially since I share YouTube videos on random days all the time. The only unifying links between these two videos I’m going to share is that they’re about baseball and they’re housed on YouTube, hence YouTube Thursday!
The first may require earplugs. The sound off of Jorge Soler’s bat when he treats this ball how Chris Brown might a woman was insane:
Update: Harry Pavlidis shared this Javier Baez video with my co-host Jason Collette while they were discussing Soler’s blast.
The next is a video-cast (a vodcast perhaps? I’m sure someone has called it that before) between two industry stalwarts, Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss of Rotowire, discussing position scarcity.
I’m in the home stretch with the SP Guide which is why content here has been a bit light. It’ll pick back up once we release (target date remains: 2/28-3/1).
I saw this excellence this morning courtesy of Kurt Mensching over at SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish:
I’d love to know how long this took the creator to complete. It brought many of the LOLs.
On Thursday the Red Sox are playing a pair of split-squad games against a pair of colleges, on Friday there are real fake games, and then Saturday at noon, we get real fake games on MLB Network.
Plenty of non-PaulSporer.com goings on lately including:
- Tonight is the LABR mixed league draft. It’s my first “industry expert league”. I have done mocks for magazines before, but never a full league. Jason and I will be co-owning, but I’ll have the reins tonight at the draft with J out for family duty. If there was ever a reason to miss, it’s family stuff! If you’ve listened to the podcast at all, though, we have the same brain so it doesn’t really matter if one of us couldn’t make it. We got saddled with the 14th pick which might not be so bad when you really think about it. There’s the top three, another handful going in that four to seven range, and then a giant cluster of like-valued guys so picking near the end of that clump and then again quickly in the second round won’t be so bad. If you want to follow the draft live this evening, you can do so here. I’m fairly certain Jennifer Lawrence will be following along in the chatroom cheering me on. I mean, it’s whatever.
- In addition to our regular podcast, the Towers of Power Fantasy Hour, I’ve appeared on another BP podcast twice in the last couple of weeks. Effectively Wild is doing their team-by-team previews and I did the Tigers one (obv) plus I contributed to the Cleveland Indians one. I’ll be on for the Nationals and Phillies in the future as well. BTW, I’d bump my Indians win projection by about 3-4 games with the Michael Bourn signing. I could reasonably go high since it’s the adding of him and subtraction of Drew Stubbs, but I’ll stick w/3-4. Speaking of these two podcasts, this probably shouldn’t surprise you because I’m a titan:
Meanwhile, here are some random things interesting me at the moment:
-Between Two Ferns Oscar Buzz Part 1, and Part 2: SO GOOD!!!! Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Bradley Cooper, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, and of course Zack himself. Just so much greatness here.
-Harlem Shake everything!
-House of Cards
-Texas being awesome & Beyonce making a semi-duck face look cute as hell
-Jennifer Lawrence is the best. No one is more real during her interviews
-Pitchers & Catchers reporting all over the MLB:
Found this circulating in my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning. It’s from Trevor Bauer on January 25th when he answered a YouTube viewer’s question about his pitch grips. He proceeded to go through each one of his grips explaining how he does it with little tips and tricks and insight into the kind of movement he expects based on pressure points or arm/wrist movements. Remarkably fascinating stuff and a must-watch for baseball fans, in my opinion. I imagine this would be really cool to see as a teenager who pitches as I’m sure you could pick up a thing or two to take on the mound your next time out. Instead I’ll just have to try these out next week when warming up for softball.
“Hey idiot, stop throwing crappy-ass backup sliders in the dirt with a softball, you’re doing it wrong and I’m tired of chasing after them.” -Paul’s throwing partner before next week’s game
In the 8th inning of Sunday’s Diamondbacks-Dodgers game, color guy Mark Grace takes a few jabs at Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo for recently hitting the disabled list due to anxiety. Grace’s partner, Daron Sutton, appears (to my ear) to be a bit uneasy with the ribbing, but in my judgment doesn’t do enough to dissuade Grace from the path he is headed down. I have listened to these two a lot in the past (and generally enjoyed them, I might add) and I know they have a close enough relationship to where they can tell one another anything including “knock it off” if one is getting a bit out of line.
I felt this would have been one of those times. What do you think? Let me know on Twitter (@sporer) or in the comments.
Daron Sutton: Hong-Chih Kuo, to be specific, placed on the DL for an anxiety disorder.
Mark Grace: What was the problem? Making too much money?
DS: I don’t think so.
MG: Playing major league baseball for a living… that’s high anxiety… man, I dunno if I’d be able to handle that.
DS: Well you actually did.
MG: (softly) That’s what I’m saying.
(h/t to @HJBosch21 for letting me know about it. I wasn’t watching this game at the time & I’d have been watching Vin if I was.)
I remember seeing Brandon Belt (1B) here at the University of Texas in a handful of games I attended across the 2008 and 2009 seasons. My thought coming away was always, “How is he not better?” He definitely looked like a ballplayer and he would have good plays here & there, but terribly inconsistent. He hit a pedestrian-for-college .321 in 124 games but showed exceptional plate discipline (67 BB to 74 K) and a modicum of gap power. The only thing that really jumped off of the stat page was his 15 steals in 2009. You just don’t expect 6’5”/195 first basemen to run much at all let alone swipe double digit bags.
To be 100% honest, I kind of forgot him once he left. It wasn’t until early this summer that I saw he was in the San Francisco system putting together a solid beginning to the season. Earlier this month I saw him at the Arizona Fall League in Phoenix and came away with a completely different outlook on him. I learned from some scouts that the Giants completely reworked his swing from the ground up in hopes of better utilizing his plate discipline and extracting the power locked up in that sizable frame.
The results were amazing as he raked through three levels in his first professional season with the majority of his time with San Jose in High-A where hit posted a .383/.492/.628 line in 77 games. That earned him a promotion to AA where stayed hot to the tune of .337/.413/.623 in 46 games. He was again promoted, this time to AAA and though the batting average dropped he still went .229/.393/.563 in 13 games. Be wary of the tiny sample as 3-4 extra hits would’ve taken his average up to the .290-.310 range so the .229 is very misleading.
He has stayed hot this fall (.392/.449/.658 w/14 XBH out of 31) and looked very sharp in the three games I saw him play. He took what the pitchers gave him whether it meant blooping a ball over the shortstop’s head for a single or smashing a mistake into the gap for a double or working a walk. His approach is very crisp. Here is a look at the swings from his at-bats slowed down:
As for Belt moving forward, I see him with a Joey Votto-lite ceiling. I’m not sure he can consistently hit .320 like Votto, rather closer to .290 perhaps sprinkling a .300+ season in as his luck fluctuates, but he will likely manage .400 on-base percentages with his plate patience. For power, I have him more in the low 20s while I see Votto capable of stringing together some low 30s seasons together (his high 30s 2010 had some favorable luck behind it). And the two meet in the road the speed as they are both adept at swiping bags despite their looks suggesting otherwise.
Barring a huge spring, Belt will likely start 2011 at AAA and get some more seasoning, but he can’t be long for the minors if he keeps raking as he did in 2010. He is primarily a first baseman, but he played a little rightfield in his AAA stint. If he can adequately play either position, his chances to reach the majors sooner increase as the Giants are far from locked in at first or either corner outfield spot.
Here is another video of his whole at-bats. It is a bit sped up which I didn’t do on purpose, but it happened three different times when I uploaded it so I just left it:
The hottest name going this fall was that of Oakland A’s prospect Grant Desme. Desme played three years of college split between San Diego State and Cal Poly. He did nothing of consequence the first two seasons hitting a whopping .280 (84-for-300) with nine home runs and 50 RBIs. You can hit .280 in the majors and make millions of dollars. Heck, even .280 in the minors will at least garner some attention if you’re the right age or below for the class you’re in. But .280 in college is utter trash. It’s like .280 in softball.
His final year of college got him drafted. He nearly doubled his power (from eight to 15 home runs in the same 195 at-bat sample), raised his average 118 points to .405 and struck out less while walking more (from 2.6 to 1.4 in K:BB rate). He was drafted in the second round (74th overall) by the A’s. He played a bit in short season that year, but then lost almost the entire 2008 season to injury after just two games. It was a combination of shoulder and wrist injuries that felled him. So basically 2009 served as the team’s first real look at their second round pick. Splitting time between A and A+, Desme had a solid season hitting .288/.365/.568 with 31 home runs, 89 RBIs and 40 stolen bases. But he was also 23 years old so he was a man amongst boys.
As I mentioned earlier, he’s now tearing up the AFL hitting .344/.438/.740 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs. The question is where will he start 2010? Will he skip AA completely and go to AAA? For now, I would temper my expectations for Desme as all of his big time production has come in very favorable surroundings. I want to see how he performs when he isn’t in an extreme hitter’s league or when he isn’t the oldest of the bunch. In the meantime, I hope he keeps hitting home runs.
He is a quick breakdown of him swinging and missing badly at a pitch before bouncing back within the at-bat and getting a base hit.
I didn’t know a lot about Chris Heisey when I reached Arizona a week ago. I had heard the name a bit before and knew he was something of a prospect for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds outfield prospect I was always most interested in was Texas Longhorn Drew Stubbs. And since Heisey never turned up ahead of Stubbs on prospects lists, I assumed he wasn’t anything to write home about.
In fact, a scan of the preseason prospect lists for Cincinnati shows Heisey rated rather low, if at all:
Baseball Prospectus – unranked
Redlegs Baseball Blog – unranked (listed in the Notables)
John Sickels – 14th
Baseball-Intellect – 14th
Heisey’s biggest assets were his ability to hit for a solid average and a strong batting eye, the latter obviously helping the former. In 2008, he hit .291/.375/.447 in 515 at-bats acquired mostly in High-A with nine home runs and 32 stolen bases. He walked 60 times while striking out just 84. I guess the lack of power and the fact that at 23, he might’ve been a bit old for High-A were what kept him from drawing much attention on the prospect lists.
In 2009, he obliterated AA with a .347/.426/.572 line including 13 home runs, 13 stolen bases and even 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (34 each) in 314 at-bats. That earned him a promotion to AAA where he fell off of his AA pace, but still hit .278/.323/.465 in 271 at-bats. The power held up though as he had 27 extra-base hits (nine of which were home runs). That just about equals the pace he had in AA (33 XBH in 314 at-bats), he just had a few more doubles than home runs after the move up.
His 2009 season coupled with his hot AFL performance will likely move him up on Reds prospects lists. Not to mention the graduation of other players who were on the lists this year. I only saw him for two games so I’m not going to make sweeping judgments, but he did hit a pair of bombs when I saw him and I really like his approach at the plate. He’s been projected as a 4th outfielder in most of what I’ve read, but I think he can be an everyday big leaguer with his all-around tools.
Slow-motion look at his All Star game home run:
I’m still recovering from my trip to Phoenix for the Arizona Fall League and BaseballHQ.com’s First Pitch Forums so I’ve got just a quick post before bed. Football and baseball will be back in full swing tomorrow. More refinements to the NFL week-in-review piece and even more AFL videos. For now, enjoy the artistic stylings of Texas Rangers prospect, Tanner Scheppers.