Tag: Rankings/List

MLB Spring Training 2017: The Top 10 Catchers to Watch

Whether it’s at the lowest levels of amateur baseball or in MLB, few positions have a bigger impact on a team’s success—or lack thereof—than catcher. Not only are these players expected to contribute offensively, but they must masterfully handle a pitching staff and control the opposition’s running game.

Teams spend years trying to develop them and, when they develop a keeper, are hesitant to let one get away. For it can take years to find a suitable replacement. Just ask the Chicago White Sox, a team that has yet to recover from A.J. Pierzynski’s departure as a free agent following the 2012 season.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a list or ranking of the best catchers in baseball—that’ll come as we get closer to Opening Day. Rather, this is a look at catchers who, for a variety of reasons, are among the most intriguing at their position as spring training approaches.

It’s a list that includes current (and former) highly thought of prospects, as well as players who are working their way back from injuries. There’s even one catcher who, thanks to his athleticism and his team’s needs elsewhere, could transition from a full-time backstop into a utility player, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

About whom, and what, are we talking? Let’s take a look.

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All 30 MLB Teams’ Updated To-Do List Heading into 2017

As always, it’s been a busy offseason around Major League Baseball, with teams already crossing off a number of items on their winter shopping lists.

Earlier this offseason, a piece entitled “All 30 MLB Teams’ Blueprint to an ‘A’ Grade in the 2016-17 Offseason” was written by yours truly as a to-do list of sorts for each team to follow.

As we get set to flip the calendar over to 2017, now seems like the perfect time to look back on that piece and provide an updated look at what each club has accomplished and still needs to accomplish before the start of spring training.

Ahead you’ll see the same to-do list we offered up for each team back on Nov. 10, with certain items crossed out based on what additions have already been made and a full breakdown of each item.

Also included are a few new shopping-list items for some teams, which are noted with a “New Addition” mention.

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2016-2017 MLB Offseason ‘Recruiting’ Updates for All 30 Teams

Let’s pretend for a moment that each MLB team’s offseason was evaluated in a way similar to that of a college football or basketball program. Free-agent signings and trade additions would be assigned a rating from 1-5 on the “star” scale, and the complete class of new additions would be graded from there.

Rather than assessing how well needs were filled, how much money was spent by each team or how much cumulative talent was added compared to who was lost in free agency and trades, the focus would solely be on how much overall talent was added to the roster.

First, we need to decide what constitutes a 5-star player, 4-star player and so on. Here is my take on who belongs in each category:

  • 5-Star (10 points): A superstar-caliber position player, front-line starting pitcher or elite closer.
  • 4-Star (7 points): An above-average everyday position player, middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher or plus late-inning reliever.
  • 3-Star (3 points): A league-average everyday position player or reserve likely to see extended playing time, No. 5 starting pitcher/swingman or above-average reliever. High-upside bounce-back candidates can be found here.
  • 2-Star (1 point): Solid organizational depth likely to be on the big league roster at some point, if not on Opening Day. Rule 5 draft picks can be found here.
  • 1-Star (N/A): Everyone else. Players signed to minor league deals and unlikely to make any sort of impact at the big league level this coming season. Not included here; don’t count toward a team’s overall offseason rating.

From there, points were awarded to each recruit as listed above, and each team’s total recruit point total was determined. Players were graded based solely on their expected contributions during the 2017 season, so prospects were evaluated on their expected big league contributions for the upcoming season and not their overall ceiling.

Teams were then ordered from worst to first based on the overall level of talent they’ve added so far this winter. The tiebreaker in the case of two teams having the same score was which team has added more high-star players.

For example, a team that added one 5-star player (10 points) ranks ahead of a team that added one 4-star player and one 3-star player (10 points).

As with college rosters, returning players are not considered recruits, so anyone re-signing with the team he played for last year was not considered for this. That means no Yoenis Cespedes, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Rich Hill or Carlos Gomez, among others.

The end goal here was simply to put a different and fun spin on evaluating what each MLB team has done so far this offseason. So take this for what it is, and enjoy.

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MLB Teams Needing a Big Winter Splash

Desperation can only be born out of an impending deadline. As it pertains to sports, that boundary could be a trade deadline or the beginning of the season.

In the case of baseball and this offseason, that’s the start of spring training in 2017. But that’s only a hard deadline for those teams looking to compete this summer. Those in rebuilding mode don’t need to concern themselves with 2017, as they can make a deal when the time feels right or an enticing offer comes along.

So consider this a list of playoff contenders—or those, at least, that can compete—that need to become more active as we enter the final stages of the offseason. 

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Each MLB Team’s Prospect Who Will Become a Household Name in 2017

Not every baseball fan keeps an eye on prospect development and the minor league ranks, but most are familiar with the top prospects around the league.

It wasn’t just Boston Red Sox fans and Washington Nationals fans whose ears perked up when they heard that Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito had been traded during the winter meetings.

So what exactly is it that makes a previously unheralded prospect a household name? We’ll lump them into two categories:

  • Breakout Prospect: If a lower-level prospect turns in a breakout season that vaults him into the top tier of prospects in his organization and perhaps onto leaguewide top-100 lists, there’s a good bet he’ll become a household name along the way.
  • MLB Impact: Even if a player is not a top-tier prospect, he can make a name for himself by contributing at the MLB level. Few knew who Ryon Healy was prior to the 2016 season, but a strong showing after he joined the Oakland Athletics made him a household name.

Ahead we’ve taken a crack at identifying one prospect from each MLB team that has a chance of falling into one of those two categories this coming season.

For the sake of clearly identifying which prospects already rank as household names, anyone that appeared on Baseball America‘s midseason top-100 list was not eligible to be included.

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MLB Power Rankings: How 2016 Winter Meetings Changed Balance of Power

The winter meetings always provide a good deal of excitement around the MLB community, and this year has been no different, with several major transactions occurring.

This will be the first time we’ve updated our power rankings since the conclusion of the regular season, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Offseason rankings are not meant to be a prediction for the year ahead. Instead, they are a look at how teams would stack up with the rosters they have if the season started today.
  • These rankings will be updated several more times between now and the start of the 2017 campaign, so if your favorite club is lower than you’d like, there’s still time.
  • A perfect example of this is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a number of holes to fill and rank low as a result. They’ll climb as the offseason progresses and they fill said holes.

Included for each team is a look at notable offseason additions, a breakdown of the club’s offseason activities, remaining needs and a preliminary 25-man roster.


Note: Players listed in bold on projected rosters indicate newcomers. Players listed in italics among notable additions indicate they are not on the 40-man roster. An (R) next to a player indicates that his rookie status is intact.

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MLB’s Top Prospects Ready to Make Waves in 2016 Winter Ball

The MLB regular season is long over and the Arizona Fall League recently wrapped up, but there’s still baseball being played in the Caribbean as a number of prospects and fringe veterans are working hard in the various winter leagues.

The Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico all play host to competitive winter leagues, with the winners from those four leagues and the Cuban national team converging for the annual Caribbean Series at the beginning of February.

These winter leagues have been going strong since late October, so let’s check in on how some of the league’s top prospects are faring in 2016 winter ball.

We’ve broken things down by position, highlighting the top two or three guys based not only on production in winter ball but on their current prospect standings.


Note: All prospect rankings courtesy of MLB.com’s Prospect Watch.

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Top MLB-Ready Prospects Who’ll Benefit Most from the Offseason Frenzy

The focus of MLB offseason conversations is generally on what players teams could potentially add to fill areas of need, but often times the answer is already in-house.

A team’s top prospects, at least the ones on the cusp of reaching the majors, can often make a bigger impact than anyone the team might acquire during the offseason.

Take the Detroit Tigers for example.

Last winter, Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey were signed in an effort to bolster the starting rotation.

However, it was rookie Michael Fulmer who wound up being the biggest difference-maker on the pitching side of things as he provided front-line production alongside Justin Verlander and easily out-performed both Zimmermann and Pelfrey.

Prospects are not always afforded a clear path to playing time as teams are wary of relying on unproven talent, but there are a handful of prospects that will find themselves in a better position once the offseason comes to a close.

Whether it’s the departure of a key free agent or a trade that could result in a roster shakeup, the following 10 prospects stand to benefit most from the offseason frenzy.

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Top Bounce-Back Candidates Available on the 2016-17 MLB Offseason Market

Superstar-caliber players generally dominate headlines each MLB offseason.

They will be agreeing to big-money deals and are often viewed as the missing piece that could push a team over the top in its pursuit of a championship.

However, scouring the market for bargains and taking a flier on a potential bounce-back candidate can be just as important in building a successful contender.

Just look at last season, when guys like Ian Desmond (TEX), Mike Napoli (CLE), Chris Carter (MIL), Matt Joyce (PIT), David Freese (PIT), Fernando Rodney (SD), Neftali Feliz (PIT), Brandon Kintzler (MIN) and Carlos Torres (MIL) all signed modest, one-year deals after disappointing 2015 seasons, only to emerge as key contributors for their respective clubs.

Meanwhile, the trade market also provided bounce-back or breakout gems, led by Jean Segura (ARI), Jonathan Villar (MIL) and Drew Pomeranz (SD).

With that in mind, what follows is a look at the 10 most intriguing bounce-back candidates on the offseason market, ranked based on upside and potential impact.

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High-Reward MLB Reclamation Projects Worth Taking a Chance on for 2017

Major League Baseball free agency doesn’t always set up great for everyone.

Of course, there are players whose outstanding 2016 seasons positioned them well for a big payday this winter. But there are also those whose campaigns took a divergent path.

A handful of players had forgettable 2016 seasons, making them reclamation projects for whichever teams elect to sign them. But some might be worth the risk in the hopes of a bounce-back season.

Who might be worth taking a chance on in this winter’s free agency?

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