2011 XM All-Star Futures Game

Bryce Harper, Wil Myers finish among AFL’s top performers

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The Arizona Fall League regular season came to a conclusion Thursday, so let’s take a quick look at some of the stats.

Here are the OPS leaders:

1. Jedd Gyorko (3B Padres): .437/.500/.704, 5 HR in 71 AB
2. Mike Olt (3B Rangers): .349/.433/.764, 13 HR in 106 AB
3. Wil Myers (OF Royals): .360/.481/.674, 4 HR in 86 AB
4. Robbie Grossman (OF Pirates): .375/.472/.625, 7 HR in 104 AB
5. Michael Choice (OF Athletics): .318/.423/.667, 6 HR in 66 AB
6. Nolan Arenado (3B Rockies): .388/.423/.636, 6 HR in 121 AB
7. Kevin Mattison (OF Marlins): .349/.433/.624, 6 HR in 109 AB
8. Bryce Harper (OF Nationals): .333/.400/.634, 6 HR in 93 AB
9. Scooter Gennett (2B Brewers): .411/.470/.556, 2 HR in 90 AB
10. Jefry Marte (3B Mets): .333/.436/.538, 4 HR in 78 AB

A lot of strong numbers there, as usual. The AFL OPS as a whole was right around .815. For comparison’s sake, the league OPS in the majors this year was .720.

Myers, whose name came up in the Jair Jurrjens/Martin Prado talks with the Braves, had a disappointing season in Double-A before rebounding. He’s just turning 21 next month, so he still ranks as one of the game’s very best outfield prospects. Of course, Harper is a bit ahead of him there. Harper, who finished third in the league with 26 RBI in 25 games, turned 19 last month.

Disappointments include the Angels’ Mike Trout (.245/.279/.321 from a player who figured to dominate the competition in Arizona), the Marlins’ Matt Dominguez (.210/.278/.383) and the Mariners’ Chih-Hsien Chiang (.263/.337/.368).

On the pitching side, Seattle’s first-round pick, Danny Hultzen, had the best ERA among starters, coming in at 1.40 in 19 1/3 innings. Next up was the White Sox’s Terry Doyle, who went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. Pirates first-rounder Gerrit Cole, with a 3.00 ERA and a 16/4 K/BB ratio in 15 innings, is another who impressed.

Among the pitchers who struggled were Tigers left-hander Andrew Oliver, who had a 5.82 ERA and 16 walks in 17 innings, and Cubs prospect Trey McNutt, who had a 5.00 ERA and just eight strikeouts in 18 innings. McNutt’s name has been bandied about in the Theo Epstein compensation talks with Boston.

Former Padres prospect Nick Schmidt struck out 26 in 23 1/3 innings, but he finished with a 5.40 ERA anyway and he’s now expected to be left off San Diego’s 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

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Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.