Coming into the season three prospects stood out above all the rest: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, and Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
Every major prospect analyst had them 1-2-3 on their list, with the only differences being the order. Baseball America ranked them Harper, Moore, Trout. ESPN.com ranked them Trout, Harper, Moore. Baseball Prospectus ranked them Moore, Harper, Trout.
Harper and Trout have been making headlines all season by performing remarkably well for a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old, but Moore has mostly gone unnoticed in Tampa Bay despite the fact that he’s pitching pretty damn well for a 22-year-old.
He got off to a slow start and has a misleadingly ugly 2-5 record, but after six strong innings against the Orioles on Sunday he has a 4.45 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 63 innings overall. That isn’t going to bump Harper or Trout off the front page, but in the grand scheme of things a 22-year-old rookie striking out a batter per inning with a decent ERA bodes extremely well for his future.
Moore just happened to be a rookie during a season in which two of the best prospects in recent memory are also rookies and have thrived immediately. Don’t be surprised if he finishes the season with numbers that would make him a viable Rookie of the Year candidate in many years and don’t be surprised if he’s still an ace very soon.
Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.
This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.
So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.
The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.