If you really think about it, this is truly the best time of year if you are a baseball fan. There’s nothing like a crack of a bat, or pop of a ball hitting a glove after months without the sport to really get the juices going.
It’s a time of year when even the most pessimistic of people can find a glimmer of hope in watching the most simplistic part of the sport we love.
Over the last couple of days we’ve talked about some notable changes a few players have gone through, from batting stances, to new pitches, or to even some bulking up in preparing for the long season.
While finding the simple beauty for the game, it can be easy to fall into some of the same old clichés when gearing up for the season, like the ‘he’s in the best shape of his life’ trope, or even the clubhouse giving off ‘different vibes’.
With the veteran presence that the Pirates added in the offseason, there would be a huge issue if there wasn’t a different vibe being given off a year after yet another 100-loss season.
For those of you suffering from prospect fatigue over Pirates IF Nick Gonzalez, please just watch the ⚾️
This round was indicative of what we’ve seen so far; loud, long consistent barrels swing after swing. Near perfect in def drills too. A big season is in sight. pic.twitter.com/xMMar4R11U
— Florida Prospect Report (@FLProspectPod) February 20, 2023
But, it’s everywhere all throughout camp, and it’s hard to scroll through social media right now and not see something on the veteran presence and the impact it has had early on.
When it’s all said and done, it will be up to the core players that these veterans were brought in to help to eventually make an impact on the field. In the meantime, it’s been fun to see so many of them embrace that veteran role so quickly and seamlessly.
The Termarr Johnson Factor
I came away fairly impressed with Termarr Johnson in his brief Bradenton cameo last year. There was a lot to like in a really small sample size. Of the players in camp not expected to make the majors this season, he may be the most exciting one to watch.
When I looked up and found out he was still going to be 18-years-old, in major league camp, it impressed me even more what he did at the tail end of 2022.
It doesn’t even matter if he gets into any major league games this spring. The added knowledge he can soak in will be big, and fuel a potential big season in the lower levels this year.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Our latest article drop will have articles from Anthony Murphy, Ethan Hullihen, and myself. Anthony will have features on Endy Rodriguez and Yerry De Los Santos. Ethan will have his latest Pirates Business feature. I’ll have my ZiPS analysis of the 2023 season. Those will go up at noon today.
**Wilbur Miller has photos from the first full squad workout at Pirate City.
**In the latest Pirates DVR, Malcom Nunez gets work at third base, along with videos of Shalin Polanco and Roansy Contreras.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony wrote about the leadership that Austin Hedges has been showing early in camp.
Song of the Day
And now we need a pound of fat back drums.
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.
The saxophone was my first instrument as a kid and King Curtis has always been my favorite master of the horn. Though the jazz titans like Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker and others could probably both literally and figuratively blow King Curtis out of the water, Curtis had such as beautiful blend of soul, blues, R+B and a touch of funk that resonates deeply with me. It’s a shame he died so young and in the manner in which his life was taken.
FG and ESPN just updated their 2023 draft rankings. FG has Crews first, and ESPN has Crews/Langford as co-1’s, with Langford inches ahead. For all you pitching fools, Dollander is 5 (FG) or 4 (ESPN). Check it ahhht.
Tired: Chase Dollander
Wired: Paul Skenes
I watched Dollander live Friday Night…Not impressed. Velo and missing bats weren’t really there. It’s early, so maybe he wasn’t full throttle.
In today’s day of hard throwing Tommy John surgery pitchers, I am scared to take a pitcher number one. As far as number one picks going to pitcher Cole and Price met expectations and maybe Strasburg. The rest have been average or below. (I guess we could say most hitters don’t meet expectations either.)
Strasburg definitely has. They’re kind of the only three arms in the past 20 years to meet expectations, but there only have been seven total (Hochevar, Appel, Aiken, and Mize).
43% chance you get a stud. I say roll the dice, if all things are equal.
Aiken, Appel and Mize were all medicals. Can’t rem Hoch
Hochevar had some descent years and going all the way back to the beginning of the draft, I forgot about Andy Benes and Belcher. I don’t doubt any of today’s pitchers talents, but my point is pitchers throw so hard now, not too many of their arms last a career. Strasburg was so dominating when he came into the league(even though he wouldn’t pitch the post season his first year). I was glad he did win a world series, but feel sorry for him for what he has been going through lately….except for the $280 million dollar contract or whatever it was he signed.
Same time period for position players through 2019: four busts (Beckham, Young, Bush, Moniak). Three studs (Justin Upton, Harper, and Correa), with a good chance at another one (Adley). One solid guy (Swanson) and one who is still a bit up for grabs (Lewis), but not looking great. Too early for Tork and the ones from 2020 onward.
I think Young ate himself into a bust.
I rem years ago reading stories about Levan Hernandez taking the raft from Cuba to Miami. Saying he weighed like 150 lbs when he arrived and would drive down strips with all these fastfood joints and couldn’t decide what to get, so he got them all. He would eat Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald’s, etc in one sitting. They didn’t have that kind of stuff where he was from and ballooned right up to 230 lbs before he knew it.
Could be. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the SEC dudes do against each other as TN noted below. Gonna be tough lineups and tough arms on a pretty frequent basis.
Crews-1a,Clark-1b – Langford 3 dollander 4 , Jenkins 5.
A question I’d definitely want to ask the prospect folks is this: how is Max Clark different from Mickey Moniak profile wise? Reading his write up on FG, similar build, similar style (great contact, speed, not too much power, etc.). The guys without much present power concern me, at least in high school.
Speaking of…is Bryan Reynolds the best player to come from the 2016 draft? Sheesh.
Position player, probably. Burnes popped over 7fWAR in 2021 to elevate him, and Bieber is way up there with almost 19 fWAR.
Maybe. Bichette also went in the second round and Corbin Burnes and Shane Bieber were fourth rounders. The only first rounders who look worth anything right now are Will Smith, Dylan Carlson, and Gavin Lux (figures).
Definitely one of those years where the first round was pretty much a disaster zone, and the best players came later on.
Watch his swing and you will see the difference, 6-1 195 and will fill out and can play centerfield, also a lefty and the ball jumps off his bat.
It should be fun to follow these guys this season, and there are some SEC matchups that should be covered here. For example, March 30 will likely be Dollander facing Crews with Skenes on the mound for LSU (assuming Dollander and Skenes are the starters for the opening games of weekend series), and a week later Dollander facing Langford.
Great. Take Dollander at #1 and sign under slot and save $$$ for later round players who drop. Win-Win situation again.
At this stage, I’m not sure I’d do that. Some of these guys seem like really good options at #1 .
Well, we already know he has a sweet swing and fast hands. But, can he hit the curve? I sure do hope he has a big season and works his way back into Top Prospect territory, but I would put my money on Crypto first.