Coors Field has become somewhat less of a hitter’s paradise since the Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidor and Dave Krieger of the Denver Post reports that they hope to deflate the ridiculous offensive numbers being posted at Triple-A by doing the same in Colorado Springs.
In general the Pacific Coast League is very hitter-friendly, but Colorado Springs takes that to an extreme. Security Service Field is 6,531 feet above sea level, which is the highest elevation of any ballpark in professional baseball, and this season the pitching staff there had a combined 6.41 ERA.
It’s nearly impossible to develop pitching prospects in that environment and even getting an accurate sense of hitting prospects’ abilities is difficult. Former first-round pick Greg Reynolds, who spent most of the season at Triple-A, told Krieger that “the ball doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do there” and “without even knowing it, you’re trying to do something a little different just to make the ball do what it’s supposed to do.”
In some sense there’s an advantage to be gained in preparing Triple-A prospects to play in the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballpark, but Colorado Springs is still going to be very hitter-friendly with a humidor or not and deflating the numbers a bit should help the pitchers focus more on development rather than simply not getting their brains bashed in.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.