Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Next Mike Trout?

There is nothing like covering minor league baseball and watching guys who might someday be the next big superstar. The one name that dominated minor league baseball last year,  besides Tim Tebow was teenager Ronald Acuna of the Braves organization.

He is projected as the future face of the Braves franchise and already being compared to Mike Trout. The future isn't that far away either. Acuna is now 20 years old and should be starting in the Braves outfield on Opening Day. Of course what should happen isn't what will happen. Look for the Braves to wait until a couple of months into the season before bringing Acuna up which will  delay his free agency clock. 

Keith Law came out with his Top 50 prospects in professional baseball today and he has Acuna sitting at #1. Here is Law's write up on Acuna:

 Acuna got off to a slow start in high-A in 2017 and didn't seem to be playing at full effort until Atlanta promoted him to Double-A in early May, after which he exploded, hitting .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances for Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. He even led the Arizona Fall League in homers with seven. And he did all of this at age 19, turning 20 well after the season ended.

Acuna's bat is electric. He's short and quick to the ball with exceptional hand strength providing average power already even though he's not particularly big. He's also a plus runner whose speed helps cover plenty of ground in center, although he's only the third-best defensive center fielder in Atlanta's system (counting Ender Inciarte). What sets Acuna apart from most other prospects in the minors, beyond his youth, is his approach at the plate, including outstanding plate coverage and very good ball-strike recognition. He was the only teenage position player to play in Triple-A in 2017, and his average, OBP and slugging all ranked in the top five in the International League (minimum 141 at-bats).

If Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he's going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile. Even if Acuna hits "only" about 20 homers a year, it'll come with 40-50 doubles, huge contact rates and solid OBPs. The presence of Inciarte and Cristian Pache may push Acuna to a corner for Atlanta, but he could play center field for many clubs, and it's reasonable to think he'll be a plus defender in right field anyway. There's still a little variance in how the bat projects, but there's a higher probability of Acuna being an above-average regular for a long time than any other player in the minors.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tigers Get Road Win, 8-6

It wasn't pretty as once again the Tigers offense lit up the Red Sox pitching staff. This time it was Bruce Hurst who took the beating. The Sox are off to an 0-2 start after throwing their two best pitchers. Maybe we really do need Morgan Magic!

Here is the write up of the game and the boxscore:

Tigers Get Road Win, 8-6

April 6, 1988

Detroit Tigers (2-0)0601010008141
Boston Red Sox (0-2)2101002006130

The Detroit Tigers topped the Boston Red Sox, 8-6, with first baseman Darrell Evans playing a big role. Evans was 3 for 4 with 2 home runs for the Tigers in the win.

Doyle Alexander picked up the win, improving his season record to 1-0. He struck out 3 in 6.1 innings. Detroit, at 2-0, is off to a blistering start. Matt Nokes chipped in for Detroit with a 2-run home run in the top of the second. For the game, the catcher had 2 hits in 4 at-bats with 1 home run, 1 single, 1 run scored, and 2 RBI.

 "Baseball is about momentum," said Evans, "and we feel we've got it in our favor after that win."

G. Pettis CF5001022.20003
L. Whitaker 2B5111011.22223
A. Trammell SS5030000.40001
C. Lemon RF5120013.33300
M. Nokes C4122001.50026
T. Brookens 3B4110003.16700
L. Salazar LF4000001.42901
P. Sheridan DH3221110.60001
D. Evans 1B4232011.37522
Doubles: A. Trammell (1, 5th Inning off B. Hurst, 0 on, 0 outs) C. Lemon (1, 2nd Inning off B. Hurst, 0 on, 0 outs) T. Brookens (1, 2nd Inning off B. Hurst, 0 on, 0 outs)
Triples: P. Sheridan (1, 2nd Inning off B. Hurst, 1 on, 1 out)
Home Runs: L. Whitaker (2, 2nd Inning off B. Hurst, 0 on, 2 outs) M. Nokes (2, 2nd Inning off B. Hurst, 1 on, 0 outs) D. Evans 2 (2, 2nd Inning off B. Hurst, 0 on, 1 out; 4th Inning off B. Hurst, 0 on, 1 out)
Total Bases: L. Whitaker 4 , A. Trammell 4 , P. Sheridan 4 , M. Nokes 5 , C. Lemon 3 , D. Evans 9 , T. Brookens 2
2-out RBI: L. Whitaker
Runners left in scoring position, 2 outs: G. Pettis , T. Brookens
GIDP: C. Lemon , T. Brookens
Team LOB: 5

Errors: T. Brookens (1)
W. Boggs 3B5120001.44400
J. Reed SS5131002.30001
M. Greenwell LF5110013.40001
E. Burks CF5121001.33301
D. Evans RF4021102.44413
J. Rice DH5012034.11102
T. Benzinger 1B4000015.25012
R. Gedman C4221010.25011
M. Barrett 2B4000001.12500
Doubles: J. Reed (1, 2nd Inning off D. Alexander, 0 on, 2 outs) M. Greenwell (1, 7th Inning off D. Alexander, 1 on, 0 outs) E. Burks (1, 9th Inning off M. Henneman, 0 on, 1 out)
Home Runs: R. Gedman (1, 2nd Inning off D. Alexander, 0 on, 0 outs)
Total Bases: J. Rice , J. Reed 4 , M. Greenwell 2 , R. Gedman 5 , D. Evans 2 , E. Burks 3 , W. Boggs 2
2-out RBI: J. Rice , J. Reed
Runners left in scoring position, 2 outs: J. Rice , M. Greenwell , T. Benzinger
Team LOB: 7

Double Plays: 2 (Boggs-Barrett-Benzinger, Barrett-Reed-Benzinger)
PB: R. Gedman
D. Alexander W (1-0)6.11066131122828.53
P. Gibson H (1)1.220001022150.00
M. Henneman SV (1)1.01000201490.00
Game Score: D. Alexander 31
Batters Faced: D. Alexander 31, P. Gibson 7, M. Henneman 4
Ground Outs - Fly Outs: D. Alexander 6-10, P. Gibson 2-2, M. Henneman 0-1
Pitches - Strikes: D. Alexander 122-82, P. Gibson 22-15, M. Henneman 14-9
Inherited Runners - Scored: P. Gibson 1-1 
B. Hurst L (0-1)6.011880541158212.00
M. Smithson3.030011039250.00
Game Score: B. Hurst 23
Batters Faced: B. Hurst 29, M. Smithson 11
Ground Outs - Fly Outs: B. Hurst 5-8, M. Smithson 2-4
Pitches - Strikes: B. Hurst 115-82, M. Smithson 39-25
WP: B. Hurst
Balk: B. Hurst 
Player of the Game: Darrell Evans
Ballpark: Fenway Park II
Weather: Partly Cloudy (46 degrees), wind blowing out to right at 11 mph
Start Time: 1:05 pm EST
Time: 3:06
Attendance: 29920