UPDATE: It’s official, he made the team as one of four rookie relievers.
Tim Collins has become sort of a cult favorite among prospect buffs for his small stature and big strikeout totals.
He’s listed at 5-foot-7, might be an inch or two shorter than that, and struck out 108 batters in 71 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
And it wasn’t a fluke, as Collins also racked up 116 strikeouts in 77 innings in 2009 and 98 strikeouts in 68 innings in 2008. Add it all up and the 21-year-old left-hander has a remarkable 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings for his four-season pro career.
Whether or not his exceptional bat-missing ability will translate to the big leagues remains to be seen, but the Royals are apparently very close to giving him a chance to find out. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that manager Ned Yost “wants to open the season with two lefty relievers” and “there is no obvious second choice to Collins.”
Reds reliever Danny Hererra is the only pitcher 5-foot-7 or shorter to throw at least 50 innings in a season in the past 10 years. In fact, during the past 35 years the only 5-foot-7 or shorter pitchers to log 50 innings in a season are Herrera, Bill Simas, and Richie Lewis. Collins has much better raw stuff than most diminutive pitchers, as his fastball typically clocks in around 93 miles per hour, and his minor-league numbers are so spectacular that it’d be tough for the rebuilding Royals not to give him a shot. Whether or not he’s ready to thrive at age 21 is another issue, but it’d be fun watching him either way.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.