Bryce Harper No. 1, nine Royals on BA’s Top 100 Prospects

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Baseball America put out its annual top 100 prospects list Wednesday, leading off with 2010 first overall pick Bryce Harper as the top prospect in the land. Here’s the top 10:

1. Bryce Harper (OF Nationals)
2. Mike Trout (OF Angels)
3. Jesus Montero (C Yankees)
4. Domonic Brown (OF Phillies)
5. Jeremy Hellickson (RHP Rays)
6. Julio Teheran (RHP Braves)
7. Aroldis Chapman (LHP Reds)
8. Eric Hosmer (1B Royals)
9. Mike Moustakas (3B Royals)
10. Wil Myers (OF Royals)

Six other Royals made the list, including left-handed pitchers John Lamb and Mike Montgomery back-to-back at Nos. 18 and 19. The Rays placed second with seven prospects, while the Braves and Yankees had six apiece.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Brewers placed no players on the list after trading No. 40 prospect Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum and No. 69 prospect Jake Odorizzi for Zack Greinke over the winter. The Marlins’ only representitive was Matt Dominguez at No. 81.

Given BA’s reputation for valuing upside, Hellickson as the top pitcher in the rankings is something of a surprise. While there’s a good case for him, he lacks the flash of Teheran or Chapman. That said, he probably is the best bet of the group to win 200 games as a major leaguer.

And as long as I’m throwing opinions around, I’d say BA was too low on the Giants’ Brandon Belt (No. 23), the Orioles’ Zach Britton (No. 28) and the Athletics’ Grant Green (No. 63). Placing too high were the White Sox’s Chris Sale (No. 20), new Ray Chris Archer (No. 27) and Jays catcher Travis d’Arnaud (No. 36).

Mike Piazza presided over the destruction of a 100-year-old soccer team

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Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in January of 2016 and inducted in July of 2016. In between those dates he purchased an Italian soccer team, A.C. Reggiana 1919, a member of Italy’s third division. In June of that year he was greeted as a savior in Reggio Emilia, the small Italian town in which the team played. He was the big American sports star who was going to restore the venerable club to its past and rightful place of glory.

There were suggestions by last March that things weren’t going well, but know we know that in less than two years it all fell apart. Piazza and his wife Alicia presided over a hot mess of a business, losing millions of dollars and, this past June, they abruptly liquidated the club. It is now defunct — one year short of its centennial — and a semipro team is playing in its place, trying to acquire the naming rights from Piazza as it wends its way though bankruptcy.

Today at The Athletic, Robert Andrew Powell has a fascinating — no, make that outrageously entertaining — story of how that all went down from the perspective of the Piazzas. Mostly Alicia Piazza who ran the team in its second year when Mike realized he was in over his head. She is . . . something. Her quotes alone are worth the price of admission. For example:

Alicia, who refers to Mike’s ownership dream as “his midlife crisis,” offered up a counter argument.

“Who the f**k ever heard of Reggio Emilia?” she asked. “It’s not Venice. It’s not Rome. My girlfriend said, and you can quote this—and this really depressed me. She said, ‘Honey, you bought into Pittsburgh.’ Like, it wasn’t the New York Yankees. It wasn’t the Mets. It wasn’t the Dodgers. You bought Pittsburgh!”

In their Miami living room, Mike tried to interject but she stopped him.

“And imagine what that feels like, after spending 10 million euros. You bought Pittsburgh!”

At this point it may be worth remembering that Piazza is from Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania to be sure, but still.

Shockingly, it didn’t end all that well for the Piazzas in Reggio Emilia:

One week later, the Piazzas returned to Reggio Emilia, and were spotted at the team offices. More than a hundred ultras marched into the office parking lot, chanting and demanding answers. Carabinieri—national police aligned with the military—showed up for the Piazzas’ safety. The police advised the Americans to avoid the front door of the complex and exit through the back. Mike assured them it wouldn’t be necessary—he had always enjoyed a good relationship with the fans.

The carabinieri informed him that the relationship had changed. The Piazzas slipped out the back door, under police escort.

The must-read of the week. Maybe the month. Hell, maybe the year. The only thing I can imagine topping it is if someone can tell this story from the perspective of the people in Reggio Emilia. I’m guessing their take is a bit different than the Piazzas.