“What’s on Second?”
If you missed it–and shame on you if you did–Jonathan Mayo, who covers the June first-year player draft and the minor leagues for MLB.com, joined us on the latest “Whatâ€™s on 2nd: the Seamheads.com Radio Hour,” that aired this past Monday, May 16.Â If you are interested in the upcoming draft, Jonathan provided some great insights.
Having worked for several short-season minor league clubs over the years, I always have enjoyed watching players who break into professional baseball after being taken in the June draft.Â It doesn’t matter if they are first round picks or taken above the 20th round, they are all in the same boat in their first season of baseball.
We also chatted with Ron Kaplan, who joined us after his scheduled game got washed out.Â We talked about Ian Oâ€™Connorâ€™s book on Derek Jeter and Tom Verducciâ€™s book with Joe Torre.
I got on co-host Jess Coleman a bit for never having readÂ The Natural, but now he has a reading assignment for the summer.Â What I really couldnâ€™t believe was that Jess had never seen the movie with Robert Redford and then he tells us heâ€™s never heard of Redford.Â Iâ€™ll chalk it up to heâ€™s 17 and I am old!Â I have a feeling heâ€™ll see the movie before he reads the book.
Donâ€™t forget the Seamheads.com National Podcasting Network continues to grow and the flagship showâ€¦”Whatâ€™s on 2nd” can be heard every Monday night at 9:00 p.m. EST.
The Royals brought up another one of their top minor league talents this week with left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy making his major league debut against the Texas Rangers on May 18.Â The California native went four innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits.Â He walked six and struck out five.
I wrote about Mike Montgomery, another Royals pitching prospect, in a recent entry for www.seamheads.com and Duffy is in the same class as Montgomery according to some in the know.
Mark Nasser, who is the Omaha Storm Chasers play-by-play man, shared his thoughts on Duffy and Montgomery and their performances this season with Omaha.
â€œMontgomery and Duffy are very similarâ€, said Nasser.Â â€œBoth are young, lefthanded and have tremendous stuff.Â However, both have struggled throwing their off speed stuff for strikes. Montgomery may have a bit of a higher ceiling because heâ€™s a little taller and throws more downhill with less effort.Â But honestly, I donâ€™t feel like there is much separating the two at this point.Â With Chen and Davies hurt, KC felt that Duffy was the best pitcher at the time down here.Â And judging strictly by the numbers, he definitely was.â€
Mark, who has seen every Royals prospect from Chad Durbin and Carlos Beltran to the most recent promising lot, also shared his thoughts on Mike Moustakas.
â€œMoustakas got off to a slow start.Â It seemed like he was pressing at the plate and chasing pitches out of the strike zone.Â He struggled defensively with footwork and throws too.Â But as the season progressed, especially since Hosmer got promoted, heâ€™s become more patient and hitting for more power.Â Even though the average is down this year, compared to last, heâ€™s still producing runs as heâ€™s hitting about .380 with runners in scoring position.Â And defensively, heâ€™s smoothed out over the last couple of weeks.Â He does a lot of daily work on this with Mike Jirschele, especially when the team is home.â€
Heâ€™s found a homeâ€¦
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista can flat out hit and is fun to watch.Â For those who donâ€™t know or donâ€™t remember, Bautista was passed around a few times in 2004.Â He was selected off waivers from Baltimore to Tampa Bay on June 3, 2004 and then purchased by Kansas City on June 28.
A month later, he was traded twice on the same day.Â The Royals moved him to the Mets for Justin Huber and then the Mets shipped him off to the Pirates, his original organization when his career got underway in 2000, in a deal that brought back Kris Benson, his wife Anna, all her baggage and Jeff Keppinger.
Sugarâ€™s Random Thoughtsâ€¦
Sam Fuld may be my new favorite player to watch at the major league level.Â Itâ€™s too bad there is not a defensive skills contest during MLBâ€™s All-Star Game weekend.Â Iâ€™d pay to see 30 minutes of Fuld chasing after balls from all three outfield positions.Â He gets a 10 from me every time he leaves his feet.
Hereâ€™s hoping the UConn Huskies baseball team makes it to Omaha for the College World Series.Â The Huskies feature two potential first round picks in next monthâ€™s draft in starting pitcher Mike Barnes and outfielder George Springer.
In speaking to several scouts from National League clubs recently, the sentiments were similar in that both could go in the top 15.Â Springer, according to one scout, is an advanced hitter with solid ability in the outfield.
Here are the thoughts of a Big East coach from another program, who has seen both Barnes and Springer over the last few years.
â€œMatt Barnes is a true power arm, able to consistently throw his fastball in the mid-90s.
His arm strength alone securely puts him in the first round of this yearâ€™s draft. In order for him to be successful as he moves up the professional ladder, his secondary stuff has to improve significantly, as he does not have a true out pitch beyond his fastball. Without quality secondary stuff, he projects as a short relief bullpen guy. With it, he can be a middle of the rotation starter.
He is a completely different pitcher/person from the stretch as compared to the windup. His stuff is notably not as dominant, and doesn’t keep his composure well when up against the ropes. He will assuredly be challenged by adversity throughout his professional career, and if he doesn’t mature, he could go down the road of first-round bust, as many before him have. If he does grow up, he will have a place in professional baseball for a very long time.â€
“George Springer has been- without question- the most exciting and talented player in the Big East for the last three years. He has improved each year, and had developed offensively from a free-swinger hacker to a bonafide hitter with a plan, having bettered his strike-zone discipline and cut down on his strikeouts as compared to early in his career at UConn. He is a legitimate five tool player, with above average power and speed, and offers many different ways to help his team win every day.
He has a max-effort swing that will wow you even if he swings thru a pitch, and has the unique ability to drive the ball out of the park to the opposite field. That swing- sometimes a bit long- leaves him to struggle to get to the quality fastball on the inside corner of the plate, so he will have to make some adjustments as he starts facing pitchers who have good command. His instincts on the bases are outstanding, and he is the type of guy you know is going to steal, and you pitch out, and he still beats the throw with ease.
Defensively, he is a fun player to watch track balls down in the outfield, with his speed allowing him to cover a ton of ground. He is a freak athlete with great genes- both parents were high level athletes I believe- and his talent combined with his production over the past three years puts him in the top half of the first round, possible into the top ten overall picks.â€