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.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.