First-third awards – AL Rookie of the Year

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Toronto’s Scott Richmond was the AL’s top rookie during April, but he’s
since fallen behind four players, all of whom have a case for Rookie of
the Year honors to date:

Elvis Andrus (SS Rangers) – While Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Aaron
Cunningham and others still have plenty of time to make up ground,
Andrus is the only AL rookie position player to already have two solid
months under his belt. The 20-year-old is batting .285/.333/.424 with
nine steals in 10 tries. It’s hardly a spectacular line, especially
considering that it’s being inflated by playing in Arlington. However,
it’s the smaller part of what he’s doing. His glovework at short has
been a difference maker for a team that’s going from a 5.37 ERA in 2008
to a 4.56 mark so fat this year.

Andrew Bailey (RHP Athletics) – With a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings,
Bailey has been one of the AL’s top relievers, and the peripherals back
up the numbers, as he’s struck out 40 and allowed just 20 hits on the
season. Of course, he’ll need to seize the closer’s role on a full-time
basis in order to stay in the Rookie of the Year race. Holds won’t get
it done.

Josh Outman (LHP Athletics) – An uptick in velocity has made Outman
one of the game’s hardest-throwing left-handed starters, and it’s
translated into plenty of success over the last five weeks. He’s 3-0
with a 2.49 ERA in his last seven starts. Command is an issue, so he’s
no lock to stay in the hunt. However, there’s been nothing fluky about
his success so far.

Rick Porcello (RHP Tigers) – Even though he hasn’t been allowed to
throw more than 95 pitches in an outing this season, Porcello has
managed to work deep enough into games to win six times in 12 starts.
He has a 3.70 ERA thanks to his power sinker, and if the Tigers decide
to be a little less restrictive with his pitch count later this season,
he could go after more strikeouts with his curve. The Tigers, though,
will likely be very careful with him all year long, and they’ll likely
shut him down in early or mid-September if they fall out of contention.

First-third AL ROY

1. Porcello
2. Andrus
3. Bailey

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.

The Blue Jays will . . . not be blue some days next year

blue jays logo
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The Toronto Blue Jays, like a lot of teams, will wear an alternate jersey next year. It’ll be for Sunday home games. They call it their “Canadiana,” uniforms. Which, hey, let’s hear it for national pride.

(question to Canada: my grandmother and my three of my four maternal great-grandparents were Canadian. Does that give me any rights to emigrate? You know, just in case? No reason for asking that today. Just curious!).

Anyway, these are the uniforms:

More like RED Jays, am I right?

OK, I am not going to leave this country. I’m going to stay here and fight for what’s right: a Major League Baseball-wide ban on all red alternate jerseys for anyone except the Cincinnati Reds, who make theirs work somehow. All of the rest of them look terrible.

Oh, Canada indeed.