Amid the Diamondbacks’ horrible season first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is having another excellent year, batting .300 with 15 homers and a league-leading 28 doubles for a .921 OPS that nearly matches last year’s career-high of .952.
However, because the rest of the Diamondbacks’ lineup is so bad and their cleanup hitters in particular (mostly Miguel Montero and Martin Prado) have managed a measly .394 slugging percentage Goldschmidt is being pitched around more and more often.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic dug into the numbers after manager Kirk Gibson was pretty vocal suggesting Goldschmidt is seeing fewer crush-able pitches and sure enough pitchers have tossed him something in the strike zone just 32 percent of the time in the past two weeks, compared to 40 percent of the time previously.
Whenever a slugger gets pitched around much is made of the batter directly behind him in the lineup offering “protection.” And that can be true, but it’s generally less of a factor than conventional wisdom would suggest and perhaps the easiest way to ensure Goldschmidt will get more pitches to hit is to get more runners on base for his plate appearances. And so far this season Diamondbacks leadoff and No. 2 hitters have combined for a .314 on-base percentage.
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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.