Tag: Partners National

MLB Prospects Proving They’re Ready for Their Big League Shot

Whether it’s with a contending team looking for a shot in the arm or a rebuilding club evaluating talent for the future, prospects often get their first taste of big league action over the final two months of the season.

Many times, a top prospect will enter The Show down the stretch with an eye toward taking on a bigger role the following campaign.

Whatever the situation, there are a number of highly regarded minor leaguers currently playing at either the Double-A or Triple-A levels who have proven they’re ready for a shot at the majors. Here is a look at 10 such players, based on their performance so far this year.


*Note: Only players with zero big league experience were considered for inclusion.

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Report Cards for Every MLB Team at the Quarter Mark

Report-card season can be a stressful time of year. Just ask clubs like the Oakland Athletics and the Milwaukee Brewers, who will be racing to their mailboxes to snag those progress reports before their owners find out just how poorly they’ve done.

While Oakland and Milwaukee have been among the game’s biggest duds, an array of clubs have aced the opening quarter of the MLB season.

In the process of dishing out grades, the win-loss record was the most important factor. After all, winning games is what it’s all about. For that reason, the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals earned some of the highest marks of all. 

A heavy emphasis was placed on the performance of each team’s rotation, but bullpen contributions and lineup production also factored into the equation. Plus, the respective preseason expectations of each club were also taken into consideration. And that’s great news for overachievers like the Minnesota Twins.

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MLB Players Who Will Blossom into Superstars in 2015

This is one exclusive club. Simply put, there just aren’t that many big leaguers who earn the title of MLB superstar.

Players like Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera easily fit the bill, and each season, a host of rising stars aim to join the ranks. “Superstar” is a tricky term to define. For the purposes of this list, the idea is to find five big leaguers on the verge of joining that stratosphere.

The first requirement is that all the players on the slides that follow must have actually appeared in a big league game. The minors are flooded with highly talented players, but it’s not fair to put them in the superstar conversation before they’ve actually stepped onto a major league diamond.

The second requirement is that none of the players who crack this list can be too established in the majors. The idea is to avoid including players who have already broken out. Think Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals, who is entering just his third season, but who earned an All-Star nod in 2014 and landed No. 5 in National League MVP award balloting. As a cutoff, any player who has already appeared in an All-Star Game is ineligible.

As a result, the five players on this list have all enjoyed some success in the major leagues, but they have yet to establish themselves as All-Star-caliber contributors. Thanks to the way these players performed in 2014 and how they have stepped up this spring, all five have the ability to take off in the upcoming campaign.

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MLB Spring Training 2015: Ranking the Most Alarming Superstar Performances

Mr. Commissioner, enough with the pace-of-play rules. For your next move as the face of MLB, can you make players wear a sign around their neck during spring training that says “WARNING: ALL STATS SHOULD BE TAKEN IN CONTEXT”?

I joke, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in meaningless spring statistics. Too often does a player look overmatched in the preseason, only to go on to produce at an All-Star level. Maybe it’s the need to analyze any little thing after a long, cold winter, but it’s a bad habit that every baseball fan takes part in. 

With that being said, we can still draw conclusions from the exhibition period in a few instances. 

Players like Brandon Phillips and Jacoby Ellsbury have struggled this spring and have shown signs of regression in recent seasons. Others, like Pablo Sandoval, have weight issues to battle, and guys like Matt Wieters and Ryan Braun have their own problems to overcome. 

We’ll rank the most alarming superstar performances of this spring over the next few slides. Ugly numbers are probably involved, but a variety of other elements could also be cause for concern regarding a player’s future in 2015. 

Let’s start with the honorable mentions. 

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3 Key Questions Facing Each MLB Team During Spring Training

Full-squad workouts are officially underway in Arizona and Florida, and a full slate of spring training games is set to kick off Wednesday as we move ever closer to Opening Day.

There is a lot to be sorted out between now and the start of the season, with position battles to be played out, injuries to be dealt with and 25-man rosters to be set heading into the year.

To put it simply, there are significant questions facing all 30 MLB teams, regardless of their outlook for the upcoming season.

What follows is a look at the three biggest questions each team will need to answer before spring training wraps up and Opening Day rolls around.

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Predicting Every MLB Team’s Best and Worst Offseason Move

Spring training is now in full swing around the league, and the 2015 MLB season is drawing closer with each day.

Full squad workouts have begun, and the first spring training games are slated to begin next week, as we are now a little over a month from Opening Day.

In the meantime, the prediction and preview articles will continue to flow, as we gear up for what promises to be another exciting season of baseball.

What follows is my take on what will wind up being the best and worst offseason move for each MLB team.

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Bleacher Report’s 2015 MLB Award Predictions at Start of Spring Training

With the arrival of spring training also meaning the arrival of prediction season, you might even say it’s our duty to take a whack at predicting who will win some hardware when it’s time for 2015 MLB awards.

So that’s what we’re here to do. Ahead of you are picks for the four major awards—Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Playerin the American League and National League, complete with what passes for reasonable analysis at this juncture.

Step into the box whenever you’re ready.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Ranking All 30 MLB Teams on Homegrown Talent

All 30 MLB teams emphasize building from within and cultivating their own homegrown talent. A lot of it has to do with payroll, as small-market teams are forced to get the most out of their controllable young assets, while big-market teams can afford to deal prospects and spend big in free agency

It’s not always related to a market issue, though. For example, the St. Louis Cardinals continue to have more homegrown big league talent than anyone despite a relatively large payroll. Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics have a somewhat small payroll to work with, but they’re also thin on homegrown players.

What follows is a look at all 30 MLB teams ranked from worst to first on homegrown talent as we get set the start of spring training.

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Predicting Final Opening Day 25-Man Rosters for All 30 MLB Teams

With Super Bowl Sunday now in the rearview and the NFL season officially over, sports fans will soon be turning their attention to sunny Arizona and Florida and the start of MLB spring training.

We are all still waiting to see where James Shields will be pitching in 2015, but for the most part, teams have a good idea of the field of players that will be competing for roster spots this spring.

So too do we analysts, and with that being said, it’s never too early to take a crack at predicting how all 30 MLB teams’ Opening Day rosters will shake out.

Obviously, the inevitable injuries, surprise performances and whatever signings and trades that take place this spring will shake things up between now and the beginning of the regular season.

Truth be told, it will be a surprise if more than a handful of these predictions turn out to be accurate, but what they do provide is an overview of how each team looks heading into the preseason.

Included with the 25-man roster predictions is a look at each team’s top roster battle to watch this spring.


Note: Players listed in italics are not currently on the 40-man roster and are in camp trying to make the team as non-roster invitees. Players with an (R) following their name have their rookie status intact entering the season, according to Baseball-Reference.

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Weary Yankees Appear Ready to Give Alex Rodriguez a Most Unwelcome Return

Pass the mashed potatoes, please, while we count our blessings.

Family? Definitely. Friends? Absolutely. Food on the table and a roof over our heads? You bet. Mom’s homemade pumpkin pie? Yessir (with whipped cream, please).

And then there are the New York Yankees.

They’re thankful for Giancarlo Stanton and his new record-smashing $325 million contract. Because it is Alex Rodriguez‘s record that he smashed. And now the Yankees no longer are in the humiliating position of paying the largest contract in history to a pinstriped scoundrel.

How do we know this?

Because Yankees president Randy Levine told us.

His reaction at the owner’s meetings last week in Kansas City belongs in some sort of Reaction Hall of Fame.

“Thank God,” Levine said after Stanton’s contract was finalized.

Then, in case he hadn’t emphasized his point enough, he repeated: “Thank God!”

After seven years of living with the modern Clown Prince of Baseball and paying him the largest sum in the history of the game, only to watch him serially soil his own bed at every turn, it is evident that the Yankees are anticipating his re-entry into the game this spring as eagerly as you’d welcome a spoiled turkey onto your dinner table this week.

Which, hey, come to think of it, there are quite a few similarities there, no?

“Thank God,” Levine said a third time, even louder than the first two and now laughing, as my old colleague Bob Nightengale of USA Today related.

It has come to this: The greatest spectator aspect of MLB next summer is not going to be watching Stanton wallop homers, Mike Trout leap fences or Andrew McCutchen glide across center field.

No. Sadly, the greatest spectator aspect of the game will be the continuation of watching A-Rod stripped down for parts.

You know it. You can’t get away from it. And most of the reason you can’t get away from it is because you’re addicted to it, just like to tales of Kim Kardashian’s rear end and Justin Bieber’s egg-tossing. I’d love to not write about the guy, too, except, clickclickclickclickclick, well, you know.

Some people think I’m too mean to A-Rod. Listen. I sat through that dog-and-pony press conference to start the spring of 2009 at Yankees headquarters in Tampa, Florida, during which his teammates dutifully showed up to support him and during which the perp admitted to taking banned substances from 2001-03, apologized and promised to do better.

Then he spent the next five years spectacularly flunking Actions Speak Louder Than Words 101.

Fast-forward through the ugly Civil War he ignited with the Yankees two summers ago, through him storming out of an arbitration hearing saying it was all “b——t”, through his staunch denials, through his historic 162-game suspension.

Now cut to The Miami Herald report earlier this month that has him coming clean to federal investigators that he did, in fact, use performance-enhancing drugs purchased from Biogenesis.

Coming clean under the umbrella of immunity, of course.

After accusing MLB of a “witch hunt.” After whining two summers ago that “I am fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself, no one else will.” After saying point blank, “I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing drugs.”

No, normally you’d look at a 39-year-old has-been gimping toward a comeback on surgically repaired hips and root for him.

With A-Rod, you root for the train speeding at him.

This guy has 2,939 career hits and 654 homers, numbers that are dwarfed by the staggering metrics of his lies. As he tried to grow his legend, his stature became smaller and smaller.   

So the Yankees inch forward this winter, constructing their team for 2015, girding themselves for the coming Nuclear Spring when the Toxic One rejoins them.

Maybe they bring back Chase Headley to play third base. Maybe it’s someone else. General manager Brian Cashman, when he’s not sleeping on the streets of New York to draw attention to the plight of homeless youth (and good for him), has said that the club is attempting to acquire a third baseman.

The Yankees have kicked around the idea of having A-Rod learn to play first base. Maybe they can get their lawyers to sign off on having him work as a fry cook in one of the Yankee Stadium concession stands.

If there is any way the Yankees can duck out of the $61 million they owe A-Rod over the next three years, they’ll find it.

Me, if I’m running the Yankees, I make sure A-Rod is on every single road trip this spring. The longer the trip, the higher up the travel list he goes. I give him his playing time in the second half of Grapefruit League games, so he can’t play the first few innings and then leave early. That privilege is afforded to regulars, and those who have earned it. If A-Rod wants to play hardball, hardball it is.

What the Yankees must do is enter spring training with depth and patience. Because when we last saw A-Rod, coming back from hip surgery and with a historical suspension hanging over his head in the second half of 2014, he batted .244 with seven homers and 19 RBI in 181 plate appearances. And the paparazzi need space to park.

This game is hard. A-Rod is old. He hasn’t played competitively in more than a year. And what goes around comes around: As he cheated, lied and lashed out, in the end, he’s only made things far more difficult on himself.

That’s on him, nobody else.

Levine says that the Yankees this spring will treat A-Rod like any other player. Basically, he’ll have to make the team. You wonder whether “treat him like any other player” means that if he looks like he can’t compete early, the Yankees will tell him to go away sooner rather than later.

“Either he can contribute or he can’t,” Levine said at the owners’ meetings. “Either he can play or he can’t.

“We’ll see.”

Yes we will.

Hardball. Either the turkey can play, or he can’t. Pass the stuffing, please.

Gobble, gobble.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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