As he does every year, Keith Law has released his organizational rankings. We’re talking farm systems here, not big clubs, as this will be followed up shortly — if form holds, tomorrow — by Keith’s Top 100 prospects list. Apologies, but both features are for ESPN Insider members only. But really, these are two of the features that make getting an Insider subscription worthwhile. If you care a lick about player development, you’ll be going back to them over and over throughout the season.
As for the systems: the Royals are at the very top. Not surprising at all given how much we’ve heard lately about how loaded their system is. The Rays are second, and will only be strengthened by an offseason that has given them a number of extra picks in this year’s draft. Other notables include the Braves at number three, the Phillies fifth, the Yankees ninth, the Red Sox 11th, the Cubs 20th, the Giants 23rd, the Mets 26th and the Brewers dead last.
As is always the case with these sorts of lists, the narrative assessment of that which is ranked is more useful than the number ranking in and of itself, so if you are able, I recommend giving Keith’s piece a read.
Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.
Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.
Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.