Dave Shenin of the Washington Post doesn’t think so, and offers several
reasons why what everyone things to be a foregone conclusion is not
Among the reasons: Harper hasn’t “separated himself” from the pack like
Strasburg did; He may not stick at catcher, thus diminishing his value;
He’s a Boras client, thus inflating his price; his recent comments
about “second guessing” his fast track to the draft may make people
question his makeup; the Nats have a catching prospect already, in the
form of Derek Norris — he doesn’t mention Jesus Flores, but he’s worth
noting too; and the Nats may contend in 2011, so they might want a more
finished product than Harper.
Those are mostly decent points, though each has a counterargument or two. The one about makeup can go either way,
of course, in that his decision to skip two years of high school, in my
mind at least, raises just as many questions about his maturity and
mental preparedness as his statements showing a lack of confidence now
that he has done so. I’m also not terribly worried about whether he’ll
stick at catcher given that he appears to have a bat that is simply
awesome, not just awesome for a catcher. Not as valuable at, say,
right field as he is behind the plate, but his bat will play anywhere.
The biggest problem, Shenin notes, is that no other great first round
option has emerged yet. Some people think differently, and point to
high school pitcher Jameson Taillon, but a high school pitcher, even a
great one, is farther away from the big league level than a hitter like
Harper, so his pluses work against some of the same considerations
Shenin mentions above.
And ultimately Shenin admits that he may be over thinking things. I think he may be right.
In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.
Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.
He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.
Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!
Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.
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. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.
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. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.