Hello everyone and welcome back to the Minor League Ball Gameday thread for Thursday, March 19th. We have some very big news for everyone regarding the Gameday thread for the regular season, but before we get to that let's run down some of the happenings around the league. Some potential discussion points:
***Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich reportedly inked a seven year extension worth about $49.75M. There is also a club option for an eighth season (2022), valued at $15M with a $1.25M buyout. That brings the max value of the contract to around $63.5M over eight years. This locks down 2/3 of the talented and young Marlins outfield. What do you think of the Marlins agreement with Yelich?
***With the arm injury to left handed starter Cliff Lee, the Phillies are scrambling to fill out their rotation after Cole Hamels. They have a number of veteran options like Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, and Kevin Slowey, to go along with unproven talents like David Buchanan, Miguel Gonzalez, Paul Clemens, and Jonathan Pettibone. While Harang, Williams, and Buchanan look to have the inside track on the 2-4 spots in the rotation, that leaves the number five slot an open competition. In addition to guys like Gonzalez, Pettibone, Clemens, and Slowey, the Phillies also have a pair of starters in the minors who could make a surprise run at the opening. Joely Rodriguez, a 23 year old lefty acquired from the Pirates for reliever Antonio Bastardo, could have an opportunity to crack the rotation according to Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kaplan notes that when Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr was discussing moving Cliff Lee to the 60 day DL, he mentioned Rodriguez as a candidate for the final spot in the rotation. An impressive AFL stint and favorable comments by Philadelphia's AAA pitching coach have moved Rodriguez up the internal depth chart. My own speculation - if Joely is getting consideration without having any AAA experience, they may also look at right handed control specialist Severino Gonzalez as an extreme dark horse candidate. If you were/are a Phillies fan, would you be comfortable having a pitcher like Joely Rodriguez stepping into the back end of your rotation? If not, what moves would you try to make to improve their situation?
***Other Phillies news includes a report from Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth that they would be willing to eat $50M of the $60M owed to first baseman Ryan Howard over the next two years to facilitate a trade. While a price tag of $5M per year is much more palatable than $30M a year, Castrovince opines that with comparable first baseman like Kendrys Morales getting a two year deal for $8.5M per year, Howard could still have value at such a low price. If you were an American League club with a hole at 1B or DH, would you take a gamble on Howard?
***The Hector Olivera Saga continues with a report from CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman saying he is likely to sign by the end of the week (March 22nd). Only two offers have been confirmed - one from the Atlanta Braves at four years and $40M and a second from the Miami Marlins at seven years and $50M. A trio of NL West teams are also in the mix with the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants all being connected to Olivera, but no reports of a standing offer. Put on your GM hat one more time. What kind of contract would you offer to Olivera based on all the reports out there?
Now for the big news. I recently posted in another Gameday thread about the development of the 2015 Gameday for the regular season. Last year, we tracked John’s Top 150 Prospects for 2014, in addition to five more added later in the year. We also tracked 51 players with John’s Sleeper Alert! tags, 25 players that got off to a fast start in the Helium Tank, and 30 deep sleepers dubbed the Tempurpedic’s. Add in all 41 first round, supplemental first round, and Compensation Round A draft picks, along with 80 players from the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 international free agent signing classes. This brings us to a whopping 387 players tracked by seasons end.
Not only will we be keeping tabs daily on John’s Top 175 Prospects for the 2015 season, we will also track the 102 players mentioned as "In the Picture", and 119 players from the last three international free agent classes (complete with ages and signing bonus figures for handy reference). Throughout John's fantastic 2015 Baseball Prospect Book (the .pdf is available now at www.johnsickels.net), he noted another 60 players with either a Sleeper Alert! or High Ceiling Alert! tag. We're keeping track of all 60 of them as well. Once the season begins to unfold (probably around mid-May), we as a community will come up with 50 more players that have gotten off to a hot start to be placed in the Helium Tank. Then in June, we will add the 42 players that were selected in either the first round, the supplemental first round, or as Competitive Balance Round A selections. Also being added in June will be 25 additional prospects in the short season leagues who will be added to the Tempurpedic group.
This will bring us to a total of 573 players that we will be keeping tabs on on a daily basis. That’s right, over 550 players, every day. And don’t forget about the bi-weekly season updates for everyone as well. With a net cast that wide, you will be able to come to the 2015 Minor League Ball Gameday thread and find out how all of your favorite prospects fared the day before. I hope you guys are as jacked up and excited as I am. It's going to be a HUGE year for us and we can't wait to bring you everything you need to know about top prospects, sleepers, and rookies. If you would like to take a sneak peak at the spreadsheet, put your mouse here and click.