The least heralded prospect acquired by the Miami Marlins from Toronto last week was easily Anthony Desclafani. Desclafani, at 22 years old, is still a pretty good young pitcher. With the Toronto Blue Jays, Desclafani was often overshadowed by the Jays talented trio of pitchers in Lansing at the same time he was. Now with Miami, Desclafani will have to learn to locate his fastball more accurately and develop one of his offspeed pitches in order to stay relevant with the rest of Miami's young pitching prospects.
Anthony Desclafani was born in April of 1990 in Freehold, New Jersey. New Jersey, and indeed the Northeast in general, is not exactly a baseball hotbed. For this reason, pitching prospects from this area often lack the experience against higher competition that high schoolers from more traditional baseball states have. Desclafani is the only baseball player to ever be drafted from Colts Neck High School. Sclafani was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft, but he decided to go to school at the University of Florida.
As a freshman at Florida, Desclafani made a solid impression, pitching in 21 games, eleven starts, allowing only thirty-six runs in sixty-five innings. Desclafani dominated Florida Atlantic one day, striking out seven and only giving up one hit. In his sophomore season, Desclafani took a major step back. However, after an impressive run in the Cape Cod League, Desclafani had a bounce back junior season. He struck out thirty-nine batters in forty-four innings and posted an ERA of 4.33.
After the Blue Jays selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur draft, Desclafani decided to forego his senior season and sign with Toronto. Toronto inked him for a $250,000 signing bonus.
Anthony Desclafani's repertoire includes a fastball in the low 90's, a changeup, a curveball, and a slider. Desclafani's changeup needs a lot of work and neither his curveball nor his slider are major league out pitches. However, his fastball is a decent pitch with the potential to get even better. Desclafani's command and pitch location need to improve in order for his to use his arsenal to its fullest potential.
In 2012, Desclafani played the entire year with Lansing of the Midwest League. In 123 innings, he posted a 2.70 FIP and only allowed three home runs all season. His 1.83 walks per nine innings was stunningly impressive, as was his 70 percent strand rate or left on base (LOB) rate. His strikeout rate was not very impressive and the LOB rate suggested that Desclafani had a lot of luck on his side. Desclafani never dominated the Midwest League, but he definitely proved that he is ready for the next step in minor league baseball.
Anthony Desclafani probably projects as a middle reliever down the road. He lacks the plus pitch required of a starting pitcher and he doesn't have a true out pitch. However, the Marlins obviously see something in him and hopefully that will be revealed in 2013. Speaking optimistically, Desclafani will probably start out the 2013 season with High-A Jupiter. This will be a huge year in Desclafani's career, as he all have to prove that he can keep up with the other young pitching prospects on their way to Miami.
The Braves not only have the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel, but they have two of the best setup men in the game in Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters. Still, you can never have enough relievers, and while many Major League relievers are converted starters, there's a growing trend in the game of drafting college relievers and developing them as relievers. The Braves have taken part in this trend as much as anyone, as 2 of their top 5 relief prospects were college relievers, but the top 5 also includes a high school draftee with his third organization, a pitcher who missed two years recovering from Tommy John Surgery, and a converted outfielder.
1. Juan Jaime: B: R, T: R, Ht: 6'1", Wt: 230, DOB: 8-2-87
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Nationals in 2005, Jaime's career was taking off after a 2009 season that saw him go 5-2 with a 2.10 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, 12.3 K/9, 5 BB/9, and 2.5 K/BB in 55.2 innings over 14 games, 12 starts, between Short A Vermont and Low A Hagerstown and ended with him being added to the Nats 40 man roster. Unfortunately, he would undergo Tommy John surgery the following Spring, and would throw a single pitch in all of 2010 or 2011. The Nationals designated him for assignment in 2011 and the Diamondbacks claimed him, but after a few months they also designated him for assignment and he became a Minor League free agent. The Braves signed him in August of 2011, knowing he wouldn't be able to pitch until this season, and they were rewarded with their patience as he turned in a fine year with High A Lynchhburg, going 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, 12.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 2.2 K/BB in 51.1 innings over 42 games, collecting 18 saves, the second highest total in the league. After the season, the Braves added Jaime to their 40 man roster to prevent him from becoming a Minor League free agent.
Jaime's best pitch is his electric fastball, which regularly tops 100. He controls it better when he throws it from 95-97, but like any pitcher who can hit 103, he likes to light up the radar gun sometimes. He compliments the fastball with a solid slider that dives in the low 80s, which makes for a startling difference in speed. Unfortunately, his favorite pitch is his curveball, which is by far his weakest pitch. He has a tendency to hang it, and nearly every time he struggled this year it was due to the curve. Teammates questioned Jaime's approach, arguing, rightly so, that abandoning the curveball and blowing hitters away with the fastball while peppering in the occasional slider would be a much better plan of attack. No matter what pitches he utilizes, he's going to have to work on his control. His fastball was effectively wild this year, but no reliever is going to be successful if he's walking more than 5 batters per 9 innings. The Braves have been able to reign in wild flamethrowers before, with Craig Kimbrel serving as the best example, so they believe they can do the same with Jaime.
Jaime will head to AA Mississippi as a 25 year old to start 2013, and the most important thing for him will be to have another injury free campaign. He missed a few weeks here and there for the Hillcats, but it was for the kind of arm soreness you'd expect a pitcher to have after missing 2 seasons. If he can improve his control and continue to dominate with his fastball, Jaime could find himself pitching for Atlanta by the end of the season.
2. John Cornely: B: R, T: R, Ht: 6'1", Wt: 195, DOB: 5-17-89
The Braves drafted Cornely in the 15th round in 2011 out of Wofford College and he turned in a nice debut with Rookie level Danville, going 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, 13.6 K/9, 5.2 BB/9, and 2.6 K/BB in 33 innings over 15 appearances. He moved up to Low A Rome in 2012 and turned in a decent season, going 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA, a 1.60 WHIP, 14.2 K/9, 6.3 BB/9, and 2.3 K/BB in 51.1 innings over 39 appearances, collecting 7 saves. He earned a late season promotion to High A Lynchburg where he allowed 1 hit, 2 walks, and struck out 13 in 7.1 scoreless innings over 4 appearances, collecting 1 save and was the winning pitcher in the game that clinched the league championship for Carolina, tossing 3 scoreless innings.
Cornely's best pitch is his fastball, which sits between 94 and 96 with live movement, and he compliments it with a solid sweeping slider that sits in the low 80s and a developing 12-6 curveball that sits in the mid 80s. He comes right over the top with his delivery which allows him to get on top of the ball and get the most cut on his pitches. It should also allow him to have great control, but that hasn't shown up as a professional, as he's walked 5.6 batters per 9 innings for his career. He's going to have to improve on his control if he's going to have success at the higher levels, and it was a good sign that he pitched so well for Lynchburg at the end of the year. Most players struggle and get tired by the end of their first full season, but Cornely seemed to find an extra gear and pitched the best games of his short career.
He's likely to start 2013 back at Lynchburg as a 23 year old, but with a great Spring Training, Cornely has a chance to start the year with AA Mississippi. Either way, he'll likely end up in AA by the end of the year, and if he can continue to be a dominant strikeout pitcher and improve his control, he could find himself pitching for Atlanta some time in 2014.
3. Wilson Rivera: B: R, T: R, Ht: 6'1", Wt: 195, DOB: 10-30-89
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old by the Braves, Rivera spent 3 seasons in the Dominican Summer League and 1 season in the Gulf Coast League as an outfielder, combining to hit .238 with a .673 OPS, 24 doubles, 7 triples, 4 homers, 46 RBI, and 20 steals in 604 career plate appearances. He converted to pitching in 2011 and had a great season for Rookie level Danville, going 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 7.2 BB/9, and 1.8 K/BB in 30 innings over 17 appearances. He moved up to Low A Rome this year and had another solid season, going 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA, a 1.46 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 5.9 BB/9, and 1.9 K/BB in 56.1 innings over 36 appearances.
Rivera was moved to the mound because of his arm strength, and he's shown that off with a fastball that can hit the high 90s. He controls the fastball better when it sits between 94 and 96, but he is still raw as a pitcher and control is a huge issue for him. The Braves have taught him how to throw a curveball, utilizing a motion that is identical to throwing a fastball aside from a pulling motion at the end of the delivery. It's the easiest pitch to learn, and while it's not a plus pitch for him yet, it is developing. The Braves like the way Rivera has taken to pitching, and are planning on adding a slider to his repertoire also. Hopefully, as he becomes more comfortable on the mound, he'll get a better feel for pitching, which will lead to improved control. He's done well so far despite basically utilizing just a wild plus fastball, so if he can add control to the mix, he'll be a dynamite weapon out of the bullpen.
Rivera will move up to High A Lynchburg as a 23 year old in 2013, where his lack of control likely won't be exploited as badly as it would be at higher levels. Being able to get by with some mistakes, as he has for the past few years, will allow him to gain confidence and experience as he learns how to be a pitcher. Since they've already gotten more out of Rivera as a pitcher than they ever would have gotten out of him as a hitter, the Braves will have no problem allowing him to develop at his own pace.
4. Ryan Buchter: B: L, T: L, Ht: 6'4", Wt: 230, DOB: 2-13-87
Like Juan Jaime, Buchter originally began his career in the Nationals organization. The Nats drafted him out of high school in the 33rd round in 2005, and he spent 4 seasons in their organization, making it up to Low A Hagerstown, before he was traded to the Cubs prior to the 2009 season for Matt Avery. Avery would pitch just 1 season of AA for the Nationals before his career ended, but Buchter would pitch 2 plus seasons in the Cubs organization before being traded to the Braves for Rodrigo Lopez in late May of 2011. Buchter finished out 2011 with High A Lynchburg, going 2-5 with a 3.59 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, and 2.2 K/BB in 42.2 innings over 34 games, collecting 15 saves. He moved up to AA Mississippi in 2012, going 3-1 wit a 1.31 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, and 2.6 K/BB in 41.1 innings over 35 appearances, collecting 4 saves. He struggled after a late season promotion to AAA Gwinnett, going 0-2 with a 10.12 ERA, a 3.38 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, and 19.1 BB/9 in 8 innings over 9 appearances.
Buchter will have a career in baseball as long as he wants one, not just because he's left handed, but also because he's a lefty with a fastball that sits between 93 and 96. He also has a plus cutter that sits in the mid 80s, but his curveball needs improvement if he's going to become a successful Major Leaguer. Control remains a problem for him as well, and that was never more evident as his control imploded due to the pressure of his first taste of AAA. You would hope that a pitcher would be more refined after 7 seasons as a professional, but with his electric stuff from the left side, he's going to get plenty of chances to overcome his deficiencies.
Buchter will return to AAA Gwinnett as a 26 year old to start 2013, though he's likely to get a long, hard look in Spring Training so the Braves can see what kind of value he might provide Atlanta later in the season. He is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, so there's a good chance a team might take him and see if they can work on his control in limited Major League action. Regardless of where he begins 2013, Buchter looks like a pitcher who will eventually get a fair shot at the Majors, because lefty power pitchers are an extreme rarity.
5. Nate Hyatt: B: R, T: R, Ht: 6'0", Wt: 185, DOB: 9-26-90
The Braves selected Hyatt out of Appalachian State University in the 13th round this season, and he had a stellar debut season, beginning by going 2-0 with 3 saves, a 1.80 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, 12.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and 4.7 K/BB in 10 innings over 7 appearances for Rookie level Danville, before moving up to Low A Rome where he had 3 saves, a 1.23 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, 14.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and 4.6 K/BB in 14.2 innings over 11 appearances. His combined totals gave him one of the best debuts of any 2012 Braves draftee, as he went 2-0 with 6 saves, a 1.46 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 4.6 K/BB in 24.2 innings over 18 appearances.
Like any good reliever, Hyatt's best pitch is his fastball, which he regularly throws between 95 and 97. It has a lot of late life that allowed him to dominate both in college and in his pro debut. He also has an above average curveball and is working on developing a changeup. He has better control that most other flamethrowers, and that combined with already having a solid second pitch in the curveball puts him ahead of most relievers at the same stage in his career.
Given his college experience and his success at Rome this season, Hyatt is likely to jump up to High A Lyncburg as a 22 year old to begin 2013. The Braves will have no problem allowing him to develop at his own pace, but given his advanced ability, it's easy to see him rocketing through the organization.
I like to learn new things and one of the coolest things I learned to do this year was make GIFs and I don't think that was a coincidence. Recently, the Oxford University Press named 2012 word of the year the 'GIF,' which unfortunately for the Astros meant some of their blunders made the internet rounds. Me being a proponent of the Astros didn't just stick to highlighting blunders and also highlighted some of the good things they did.
In this post we'll take a look at some of the GIFs we're thankful for as Astros fans. Happy Thanksgiving!
Here's the first GIF I ever made
Remember when fans were excited at Jordan Schafer's hot start to the season? This was one of his four homeruns on the year, more specifically this was grand slam that just eluded the glove of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Either.
April in Milwaukee
I've never been a fan of collisions at home plate and this one involving Mat Gamels running over Jason Castro made me further dislike the play. Castro was blocking the plate, but it was pretty clear to Gamel halfway down the line that the ball was going to beat him to the plate so he made the decision to lower the boom. I think there's blame on both parties here, catchers shouldn't be blocking the plate and runners shouldn't be looking to decapitate the catcher.
Castro did hold onto the ball to complete the double play, but I'd rather give up an out and let the runner score than watch his head bounce off the ground again and again.
This could only happen to Schafer
Quiet possible the best out I've ever seen.
This was one of seven homeruns by Snyder.
Schafer with some nice defense in center
The advanced defensive numbers have never really liked Schafer's defense but that doesn't mean he didn't make a nice play or two.
Marwin Gonzalez goes deep
Gonzalez takes Joe Blanton deep.
Run Carlos! Run!
<-insert fat jokes here->
Watch Matt Garza's reaction
Jed Lowrie takes a Cubs player deep
Another awesome reaction from a Cubs pitcher
The Scorpion Strikes
This was to left centerfield.
CJ is not pleased
This was my go to GIF for when things weren't going the Astros way (I used it a lot). There's so much going on in this GIF from Johnson's hope that he's called safe, to his reaction, to the umpire ejecting him by taking a Saturday Night Fever pose.
Wilton Lopez is pumped
One of the bright spots for the Astros this year.
Lucas Harrell tries to get his team fired up
This was my celebration GIF (I didn't get to use it nearly as much as I would have liked). Love the unfazed look of Dave Clark with someone screaming in his ear.
Justin Maxwell shows us why the defensive metrics like him
Now if only he could stay healthy.
Speaking of Maxwell, he also hits buh-buh-bombs
I showed two GIFs of Maxwell hitting bombs because I think he has one of the best bat flips in the major leagues. You know, the one that we enjoy but opposing fans hate.
CJ with some wow inducing defense
Johnson is one of the worst defenders at third base according to defensive metrics, but he always seemed good at charging balls.
Maxwell scores on a pickoff attempt
For fun compare this GIF to the Carlos Lee scoring from first GIF.
Jose Altuve with a fine defensive play
Finally, I'll leave you with a very nice defensive play courtesy of everyone's favorite little engine that could.
This post is sponsored by Jack in the Box.
This is the day we are all to be reminded to say thank you for our blessings. Just weeks after[...]
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It's been two days since MLB commissioner Bud Selig officially approved the Marlins' controversial trade with the Toronto Blue Jays that signaled what appears to be Jeffrey Loria's final blow to a Miami roster that many figured would be a contender during the 2012 season.
Among the players shipped to Toronto was Mark Bueherle. Bueherle, along with Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, was a big part of the Marlins' surprising spending spree after the 2011 season, signing a four-year, $58 million deal on December 9th. And perhaps most importantly, many figured Buehrle would be the most consistent of the free agent haul for the Fish.
Buehrle lived up to the expectations many had for him at the beginning of the year. He made 31 starts, threw over 200 innings, and finished the season with a 3.74 ERA. Not Cy Young-worthy numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but with how much shuffling and inconsistency that the Marlins' rotation showed over the course of the 2012 season, Buehrle was the constant.
After the deal was made, Giancarlo Stanton was the first Marlins player to voice his displeasure through Twitter, but today Buehrle had some not-so-kind words of his own through a joint statement released today with agent Jeff Berry.
Here is what was said, courtesy of Mike Berardino's blog at the Sun-Sentinel. First, from Buehrle himself:
I’m upset with how things turned out in Miami. Just like the fans in South Florida, I was lied to on multiple occasions. But I’m putting it behind me and looking forward to moving on with my career.
From Buehrle's agent, Jeff Berry:
In an off-season of change and uncertainty, the overriding factor in Mark’s signing with Miami was Ozzie Guillen and the level of comfort his presence provided Mark and his family. While the Marlins were the highest bidder, baseball had already made Mark a wealthy man, so money was far from the most important factor in his decision.
Throughout the recruiting process, the Marlins made repeated assurances about their long-term commitment to Mark and his family and their long-term commitment to building a winning tradition of Marlins baseball in the new stadium. This was demonstrated by their already completed signings of Ozzie, Heath Bell and Jose Reyes.
At the same time, given the Marlins’ history, we were all certainly aware of and voiced concern about the lack of no-trade protection. This is unquestionably a business, and signing with the Marlins was a calculated risk. Mark held up his end of the bargain; unfortunately, the same can't be said of the Marlins.
Even though Buehrle's statement about being lied to has made the most headlines so far, what intrigued me the most was what was said by his agent.
Berry makes it clear that both he and Buehrle understood the risks of signing with Miami, but then goes on to say that the club did not hold up their end of the bargain. Sure, the verbal assurances made to Buehrle and his family by the organization appear deceitful in hindsight, but the reality is that the "calculated risk" turned out to be just that.
The Marlins' ownership has clearly made it a priority to not give out full no-trade clauses. Mark Buehrle signed a contract without a no-trade clause. Mark Buehrle was then traded. The end.
One can understand where Berry is coming from in this situation in regards to emotions and looking out for Buehrle's family (which he has every right to do), but the reality is that the worst punishment that the Marlins have, and will continue to receive, is the perception of fans, baseball analysts and other players to their wheeling and dealing. Loria and the rest of the Miami front office will have to deal with the repercussions and fallout of the decisions they have made over the past twelve months, no matter how many players involved believe it isn't fair.
It's cliche, but baseball is truly a business, first and foremost. And as Berry points out, Mark Buehrle (and others) simply got business'd.
FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) — The Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League say they have signed former Chicago Cubs infielder Bryan LaHair to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.
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Happy Thanksgiving From ?30-Year Old Cardboard? Enjoy whatever you may have planned for the day. Thanksgiving means different things to different people. For me, it’s a nice afternoon with my family and some extra time to hang out with my … Continue reading →
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