Monday, January 23, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Jae-Gyun Hwang; Dodgers Trade for Forsythe

The Giants had been rumored to be interested in Korean League 3B Jae-Gyun Hwang, which usually means they actually aren't interested, but this time they got the deal done.  Here's the numbers:

Jae-Gyun Hwang, 3B.  DOB:  7/28/1987.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 185 lbs.

2016 Lotte Giants:  .335/.394/.570, 27 HR, 25 SB, 522 PA.

There are several videos of Hwang out there.  I really like the looks of this guy.  Well proportioned, athletic body.  Plays with some flair(routinely epic bat flips) and generally looks like he could more than hold his own against MLB competition.  Although the KBO is well known to be an extreme hitter-friendly league, several Korean players have done well in MLB.  I mean, let's say his numbers take a hit and he "only" hits .280 with 18 HR.  Those are still pretty good numbers.  Even better, the deal is risk free in that it is a minor league deal with $1.5 M contingent upon him making the Opening Day roster.  There is another $1.6 M available in incentives.

I really like this signing by the Giants, which opens up all sorts of possibilities including potential trades.

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The Dodgers finally traded for a 2B, but it wasn't Brian Dozier.  Instead, Andrew Friedman went back to the Tampa Bay well for Logan Forsythe and got him for just Jose Deleon in a 1 for 1 trade.  Numbers:

Logan Forsythe 2B.  DOB:  1/14/1987.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 205 lbs.

2016(Rays):  .264/.333/.444, 24 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 6 SB, 567 PA.

Forsythe is not quite as scary as Brian Dozier, but he's a solid player who will upgrade the 2B position for the Dodgers.  The Dodgers lose another pitching prospect, but hang onto Julio Urias and 1B prospect Cody Bellinger.

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The Cubs signed LHP Brett Anderson. The deal is for $3.5 M if he passes his physical with incentives up to a total of $10 M.  Anderson only pitched 11.1 IP last season and has had trouble staying healthy with only has 2 seasons out of 8 in which he has made more than 19 starts.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention, Part 1

No particular order to these.  Definite tier break after #50.

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Rando Moreno, IF.  DOB:  6/6/1992.  B- R, T-R.  5'11", 164 lbs.  International FA.

2016 A+:  .248/.317/.288, 141 PA.
2016 AA:  .215/.261/.271, 189 PA.
2016 AAA:  .299/.325/ .381, 156 PA.

Moved around wherever he was needed in 2016 which tells you he is probably an "organizational" player.  Nice BA in AAA, but not so much elsewhere.  No pop.

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Daniel Carbonell, OF.  DOB:  3/29/1991.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 196 lbs.  Cuban FA.

2016 AA:  .284/.348/.384, 3 HR, 11 SB, 235 PA.
2016 MPL:  .261/.281/.413.

The guy who is built like a football wideout.  Not a lot of pop for a guy that big. 2016 was in improvement, but running out of time.

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Matt Lujan, LHP.  DOB:  8/23/1988.  6'1", 200 lb.

2016 AAA:  0-5, 4.04, 49 IP, 4.22 BB/9, 8.27 K/9.

Lujan has worked his way up the Giants organizational ladder one level at a time.  Still an outside chance to be a lefty reliever in MLB, but getting awfully old to be a prospect.

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Ali Castillo, IF.  DOB:  6/19/1989.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 165 lbs.  Minor league FA 2016.

2016 AA:  .317/.359/.392, 9 2B, 3 3B, 6 SB, 5.5 BB%, 10.9 K%, 220 PA.
2016 AAA:  .309/.342/.354, 6 2B, 3B, 4 SB, 4.2 BB%, 10.5 K%, 191 PA.

Reputed to be a defensive wizard.  Hit for average in 2016, but with no pop.  Outside chance to be a reserve IF for some team some day.

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Orlando Calixte, IF.  DOB:  2/3/1992.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 160 lbs. Minor League FA 2017.

2016 AA(Royals):  .295/ .333/.403, 9 SB, 2 HR, 14 SB, 5.9 BB%, 20.4 K%, 152 PA.
2016 AAA(Royals):  .265/.320/.428, 17 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 5 SB, 7.6 BB%, 18.5 K%, 367 PA.

Versatile IF who has played a bit of OF.  Has hit for average with some power and speed.  Giants added him to the 40 man roster after signing him to a minor league deal.  Will compete with Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson for a reserve IF spot in 2017.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #50 Nick Hill

Nick Hill,  3B.  DOB:  8/2/1994.  B-R, T-R, 6'4", 190 lbs.  Drafted in 2016 Round 26 from Eckard College.

2016 R:  .263/.330/.343, 8 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 17 SB, 4.6 BB%, 24.2 K%, 9 HBP, 196 PA.
2016 SS:  .231/.231/.308, 2B, SB, 0.0 BB%, 15.4 K%, 13 PA.

Nick Hill is another guy who I think was a savvy draft pick by the Giants.  Has a lot of speed for a guy that big.  Lots of room to fill out his frame.  Drafted as an OF, but moved to 3B in his pro debut.  Giants usually use late season promos to send prospects to their probable assignment for the following season so expect Nick Hill to stay behind in camp and show up in S-K's lineup on opening day of the NWL.  Lots of room for growth in this prospect.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Dansby Swanson

Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves.  DOB:  2.11/1994.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 190 lbs.  Drafted in 2015 Round 1, Pick 1 out of Vanderbilt by the D'Backs.

2016 A+:  .333/.441/.526, 12 2B, 1 HR, 7 SB, 16.1 BB%, 14.0 K%, 93 PA.
2016 AA:  .261/.342/.402, 13 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 6 SB, 9.3 BB%, 18.8 K%, 377 PA.
2016 MLB:  .302/.361/.447, 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 3 SB, 9.0 BB%, 23.4 K%, 145 PA(129 AB).

If Dansby Swanson had just 2 more MLB AB's, he would no longer be officially a prospect, at least by BA criteria.  As it stands, he is officially a rookie in 2017 and will almost certainly be the Braves starting SS.  The power and speed might have been a big disappointing in 2016, but the hit tool is definitely there and he looks like he can play SS.  He's probably not one of the elite SS's in the league, but he'll put up solid numbers and won't tank any single category for you.

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #49 Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson, RHP.  DOB:  9/15/1993.  6'2", 175 lbs.  Drafted in 2014 Round 13 out of Cal State Northridge.

2016 A+:  8-9, 5.33, 120 IP, 2.93 BB/9, 8.33 K/9, 24 HR.

Jordan Johnson came into the 2106 season riding a wave of excitement over his 2015 performance.  After a 32/1 K/BB in the AZL, he was promoted all the way to San Jose and put up a K/9 of 9.48 against a BB/9 of 2.87 in 31.1 IP.  Those number slipped a bit over a full A+ season in 2016 but what blew up his ERA was a severe case of goferitis.  Yes, it was the Cal League, home to several well known launching pads, but the home park in SJ is actually quite pitcher-friendly and 17 of Jordan's 24 dingers allowed came in his home ballpark.  Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs reports that Johnson's velocity was down from 93-96 to the 91-93 MPH range which may be part of the problem, but yet the K/BB remained fairly strong despite the velocity drop.

2017 looms as a critical season for Jordan Johnson.  He has to get the dingers under control to progress toward a MLB career.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Jharel Cotton

Jharel Cotton, RHP, A's.  DOB:  1/19/1992.  5'11", 195 lbs.  Drafted by the Dodgers in 2012 Round 20.  Acquired by the A's midseason from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill trade.

2016 AAA(Dodgers):  8-5, 4.90, 97.1 IP, 2.96 BB/9, 11.00 K/9.
2016 AAA(A's):  3-1, 2.82, 38.1 IP, 1.64 BB/9, 8.45 K/9.
2016 MLB(A's):  2-0, 2.15, 29.1 IP, 1.23 BB/9, 7.06 K/9.

We often read or hear about a pitcher's "stuff."  What is "stuff", anyway?  We know it is not the same as performance.  Often the term is used to describe a pitcher whose pitches look great but somehow are not getting batters out.  Often it it used as a synonym for velocity.  Eno Sarris and Alex Chamberlain, who write for Fangraphs, have made an interesting attempt at quantifying "stuff."  Roughly, the method looks at outcomes for individual pitch types such as groundballs, pop ups, swinging strikes, etc, gives them weights based on percentage of usage by the pitcher and impact of each parameter in getting outs and comes up with a single score they have dubbed Weighted Arsenal Score.

It speaks well of the method that the names at the top of the list include well recognized aces such as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard.  Jharel Cotton ranked #13 on that list.  Of course his numbers are based on a 29 inning sample size, but still, Jharel Cotton has "stuff."  What Cotton has is 3 plus pitches, FB, cutter and changeup, all of which he has plus command over.  It appears from Fangraphs metrics that the FB is actually split about 2/3 and 1/3 between a 4-seam and 2-seam grip so some analysts would say he has 4 pitches, but the WAS score did not differentiate between the 2 fastballs.

Jharel Cotton was on my final fantasy team roster.  Our commissioner is starting a keeper system which allows us to keep 2 position players and 2 pitchers from last year.  I am seriously considering making Jharel Cotton one of my 2 pitcher keepers.

Hot Stove Update: Bautista and Trumbo Off the Market; An Interesting Trade

Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo resigned with the the Blue Jays and Orioles respectively.  Bautista got a little more than if he had accepted his QO with a 1 year/$18 M contract with an option for 2018 with a buyout of $1M.  This deal make sense for the Blue Jays but has to be a big disappointment for Bautista who made some rather exorbitant demands last year for a contract extension.  Trumbo's deal is for 3 years/$37 M and is a good fit for both the Orioles and Trumbo who is a 1 dimensional player who should continue to thrive playing in dinger friendly Camden Yards.

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The Reds traded SP Dan Straily to the Marlins for 3 prospects including Luis Castillo, a former Giants farmhand who reportedly was hitting triple digits last year in the Marlins minor league system.  The Reds also got RHP Austin Brice and OF Isaiah White in the deal.  This trade is a nice flip for the rebuilding Reds who picked him up off waivers last year and got a solid season out of him which rebuilt his value.  Straily has had an up and down career and would seem likely to regress again in 2017, but Marlins Park may be a boon to his flyball style.

Castillo is 24 yo and has not pitched above AA.  He is most likely a future MLB bullpen arm.  Brice is your average RP prospect with middling numbers in the minors.  White is a sleeper who hit just .214 last year, but has plus-plus speed and a plus defender in CF.  He is just 20 yo, so has time to develop.

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The Phillies signed OF Michael Saunders to a 1 year/$9 M contract with a team option for 2018 with a $1 M buyout.  Saunders had a great first half last year but was terrible in the second half.  His 140 Games last year was his most since 2013 as he has had recurrent injuries and has a bum knee.  This is a bridge signing for the Phils who are rebuilding.  It's a bit of a head scratcher what the Phils are thinking here as they might be better off in the long run to play Aaron Alther and/or Roman Quinn and give them MLB experience.

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Oft-injured RHP Josh Johnson announced his retirement from baseball after signing a minor league contract with the Giants earlier in the offseason.  You have to think his rehab from his 3'rd Tommy John surgery was not going well.

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The Gregor Blanco era is apparently over in San Francisco as the White Shark signed a minor league deal with the D'Backs.  From 2012-2015, Blanco accumulated a total fWAR of 9.3 as the Best 4'th OF in Baseball.  He played the game with enthusiasm and never complained about starting jobs being handed to others who were not as good all-around players.  His two signature moments were a stunning catch to save Matt Cain's perfect game and as the first leg of a relay throw that nailed Prince Fielder at the plate in the 2012 World Series.  Blanco's defense started to slip the last two seasons which robbed him of a big part of his value.  He also struggled at the plate in 2016 putting his fWAR into negative territory.  While Blanco was one of the best values in baseball for the Giants, he also did quite well for himself financially earning a total of $12.8 M in his 5 seasons in San Francisco.  He should get a lot of very loud cheers at future Giants championship team reunions for the rest of his life.