MLB Summer Camp Snapshots: July 17 - One Week To Opening Day
Greg Jewett takes a look around today's MLB Summer camps and breaks down the top news stories of the day.
Waking up the realization a week from now, people will be discussing the results from actual baseball games warms the soul. With exhibition games on tap this weekend and rosters needing to be finalized, an interesting trade occurred overnight between Kansas City and San Diego:
Initial reports suggest Royals will send Franchy Cordero and Ronald Bolanos to their satellite site but joined the 40-man roster. Cordero owns all the tools to be successful and if he gets a chance to play soon, could be a nice power/speed combination pickup for fantasy. Bolanos represents depth at starting pitcher if needed since the Royals continue to search for a fifth starter but seem unwilling to start the clock on their bevy of talented prospect pitchers.
San Diego adds to an already stocked bullpen with another left-handed pitcher allowing them to deploy Drew Pomeranz more freely. Over the last two years, Tim Hill owns a 4.11 ERA with a three to one strikeout to walk ratio and 1.22 WHIP holding left-handed hitters to a .186 average against. Due to the Dodgers left-handed power in the lineup, this move makes sense to help navigate the deepest lineup in the division.
Plenty of injury updates and intrasquad performances to dissect in today’s Snapshots, so here goes.
Toronto Blue Jays
One player to see how 2020 evolves will be Lourdes Gurriel Jr. He’s flashed upside in small samples but also dealt with injuries his first two years with the Blue Jays. However, after his recall last season, Gurriel surged to a .295/.344/.591 slash line with 35 extra-base hits in 66 games before suffering an injury in August. Over the last two years, he’s hit .279/.310/.499 with 31 home runs in 149 games and his play in the outfield along with his performance at the plate could fuel a run towards a postseason berth.
Many await the arrival of Nate Pearson to the rotation for good reason. He faced 11 hitters on Thursday striking out six while allowing two walks and one hit. His next time out will be against Boston in an exhibition game next week. Ryan Borucki will stretch out to 75 pitches his next time on the mound continuing to stretch out his pitch total. Borucki still trails Anthony Kay for the last spot in the rotation with Chase Anderson sidelined. On Friday, Trent Thornton will try to finish at least 75 pitches in the intrasquad scrimmage.
Adjusting to team’s piping in crowd noise will take some acclimation, but Baltimore fans should be encouraged by this swing from Chris Davis :
And the crowd (noise) goes wild! pic.twitter.com/keuKXJGILz— Baltimore Orioles ???? (@Orioles) July 17, 2020
A fantasy afterthought, Davis hit well before the shutdown in March and if he can bounce back to a respectable average (.240 or better) with power, he may be worth a flier or someone to track once the season ensues. Boston’s rotation does not look overwhelming for the first weekend of games for the Orioles.
Tampa Bay Rays
Less than optimal news from Tampa Bay on Thursday:
#Rays place Meadows on IL. He tested positive for COVID-19— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 17, 2020
Thanks to a roster built on depth, the Rays can overcome this early loss to the lineup but without Yonny Chirinos in camp and other concerns, some good news would be welcomed for those projecting a Rays appearance in this year’s World Series.
Already armed with a deep bullpen, both Ryan Thompson and John Curtiss finished two scoreless innings in the team’s scrimmage. Curtiss recorded all of his outs via strikeout and if they did not make the roster, another team could scoop them up off the waiver wire.
Boston Red Sox
From Thursday’s intrasquad game, Ryan Weber worked five innings giving up four hits, two runs and a walk with four strikeouts. He tossed 82 pitches and seems to have the third spot in the rotation locked down. Colten Brewer opposed Weber, firing three perfect innings and will be an opener in Boston’s retooled rotation.
Not a concern yet, but Brandon Workman has yet to record a clean inning in his games leading up to Opening Day. As for the lineup, a potential platoon in right field with Kevin Pillar starting against southpaws and Alex Verdugo against right-handed pitching.
New York Yankees
For a second straight day, Aaron Judge homered during the team’s scrimmage assuaging some concerns about his health. Also, enjoy this tweet displaying the health of another oft injured teammate:
This 60-game sprint may prove advantageous to this deep Yankees lineup and if they can keep their two power linchpins on the field, it unlocks the potential of this lineup. D.J. LeMahieu reported to the facilities, but yet to take part in workouts. Perhaps Friday marks his first day at summer camp? Luis Cessa cleared health protocols, and also headed to New York to join the team. Masahiro Tanaka tossed 30 pitches in a bullpen session hitting 88-to-91 MPH with his fastball but:
Masahiro Tanaka 's 30-pitch bullpen was "very crisp" and at a "higher intensity" than anticipated according to Matt Blake. 88-91 on FB. Another bullpen Sunday, then face hitters in a simulated or BP situation early next week.— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) July 16, 2020
During today’s last intrasquad scrimmage, Gerrit Cole looks to throw 85 pitches tuning up for his Opening Day start against Washington next Thursday.
When discussing the outfield logjam yesterday in this column, one overlooked name could be Bradley Zimmer . It has been almost 800 days since his last major league hit, but he’s changed his stance and swing:
Back like we never left. pic.twitter.com/9Q32yW60jV— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 16, 2020
“The way he changed his stance,” Mike Clevinger said, “you can’t just beat him up and in like you used to. You used to be able to beat him all day inside (with) high heaters in the strike zone. He’d never get to them because of how long he is.”
Kansas City Royals
Addressing the trade from the introduction, Franchy Cordero joins the Royals satellite squad since Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling are out of minor league options. This may delay Cordero’s arrival, but his 2018 40-game sample yielded seven home runs with five doubles and in Triple-A last year he racked up 21 doubles, 18 triples, and 17 home runs. His blend of speed and power could play well in Kansas City when his chance arrives. As for Ronald Bolanos, he can touch triple digits with his fastball and recorded a 2.85 ERA at Single-A last year in ten starts. Trading Tim Hill signals the bullpen can absorb his loss while addressing other team needs. If the Royals will improve this year, the high leverage innings need to improve citing this tidbit from Alec Lewis of The Athletic:
Here are a few hard 2019 statistics that show where the Royals will be working from:
- With the score tied, the Royals posted a league-worst 5.65 ERA.
- In accordance with Major League Baseball’s “late and close” statistic, the Royals posted a league-worst 6.64 ERA.
- During the seventh inning or later, the Royals allowed a league-worst .277 batting average against.
Reports suggest Detroit could get a boost in the rotation with the pending return of Daniel Norris to summer camp. Manager Ron Gardenhire hinted Norris could work in tandem with Michael Fulmer to provide much needed innings for the team. Matthew Boyd avoided a scare and worked four innings in a scrimmage but will throw again on Sunday on short rest to prepare for his Opening Day start. Boyd’s an at-risk player with a history of asthma so any positive test proves to be a concern, with good reason, for the talented pitcher.
From camp on Thursday, this catch by a reliever provided some comedy relief by Miguel Cabrera :
This catch is incredible.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 17, 2020
But you HAVE to see the reactions. ???? pic.twitter.com/BwvqUvCc4g
Also, from Thursday’s game action Spencer Turnbull tossed four perfect innings needing only 44 pitches while racking up six strikeouts. Consistency and health plagued Turnbull prior to last season but his stuff rated as filthy by catcher Austin Romine . Beau Burrows allowed a hit to Miguel Cabrera but worked two scoreless frames. Third base tilted to Jeimer Candelario in recent days. He’s heated up with three extra-base hits the last two contests while Dawel Lugo remains mired in a slump.
Still good news regarding Byron Buxton and Miguel Sanó being ready for Opening Day. It remains to be seen if each will be in the lineup, but the upcoming exhibition games will be telling. From an “X” factor column on MLB.com, both Rich Hill and Josh Donaldson may determine how deep into the season Minnesota plays. Hill’s been snapping off his trademark curve in scrimmages and lasted five innings his last time out. Avoiding blister issues could make him a terrific upside play. As for Donaldson, his power will play anywhere but his defense at third along with leadership (seen asking Eddie Rosario to run harder from second on a single) may be a missing component for this team.
Back to pitching, with the rotation set up, the backups will be important to keep the bullpen fresh in a sprint so how Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and even Lewis Thorpe perform will also be pivotal to repeating as the divisional champ.
Last, Mitch Garver looks to build on his 2019 breakout during which he slashed .273/.365/.630 with the sixth best slugging percentage by a catcher, ever. Among American League hitters who played at least 90 games, Garver’s .995 on-base plus slugging ranked fourth. In the second half, Garver played in 55 percent of their games and hopes to play in 60 percent this season.
Chicago White Sox
A much-welcomed return to camp for White Sox fans and fantasy players alike on Thursday:
During his breakout last year, Moncada slashed .325/.367/.548 with 34 doubles, 25 home runs, and 79 RBI. Pretty, pretty good.
From the intrasquad scrimmage, Carlos Rodón logged four innings allowing two runs on solo shots by Edwin Encarnación and Tim Anderson . Opposing Rodon, Dylan Cease flashed his upside striking out five straight teammates between the third and fourth inning looking filthy:
Los Angeles Angels
Confirming reports from yesterday’s column, Shohei Ohtani will make his starts on Sunday’s this season. This means tough matchups ensue in his 10 starts facing Oakland twice, Texas two times, the Dodgers twice, and Astros twice with one start against Seattle plus one on the road in Coors Field. Factor in sitting out the day before and the day after for rest before investing in Ohtani as a hitter or pitcher this season.
Joe Maddon maintains Julio Teheran will be ready to go once he joins camp, however when this happens remains fluid.
Thursday’s scrimmage featured Zack Greinke facing Josh James . Greinke tired after 54 pitches and hopes to throw at least 75 his next time out but joked he could also toss 60 or 80 depending on how he feels. James sat 95-to-98 MPH with his fastball during 64 pitches providing hope for his spot in the rotation going forward. He will pitch in Tuesday’s exhibition game in Kansas City.
Some unsettling news regarding other Houston arms:
Dusty Baker didn't have an update today on Urquidy or Alvarez.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 16, 2020
He said Pruitt and Peacock were on the hobbled list and was hopeful they can get off the mound soon.
Osuna has also yet to get on the mound it appears.
Seeing Roberto Osuna not throwing off of a mound yet may be a factor for this team. Houston will deal with backlash this year from the cheating scandal along with trying to keep arms fresh over this 60-game sprint. It could determine their fate in a tough West division.
With innings needing to be filled this season, Daniel Mengden could be a valuable asset to Oakland and fantasy owners alike as a tandem arm. Mengden worked on cleaning up his mechanics to work faster and more efficiently. Stay tuned.
Even with no fans, here’s a video to warm our own Howard Bender’s heart:
Although it remained unlikely Julio Rodríguez would make an impact with Seattle this season, his injury proves less than optimal for his development at the satellite training site:
Julio Rodríguez has a hairline fracture in left wrist after diving for ball in an outfield drill yesterday.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 16, 2020
Tom Murphy returned to game action on Thursday going 1-for-2 with a walk as a designated hitter nursing a sore foot. His backup, Austin Nola should be on the radar in deep leagues once he gains catcher eligibility. Nola caught four games last year and will fill in at third base, first base along with designated hitter. He hit .269 last year with 10 home runs in 79 contests.
Assessing the fluid bullpen situation in Texas may require a leap of faith for fantasy and the team alike. As of now, Rafael Montero , Joely Rodriguez , and Brett Martin will not be active on Opening Day. This puts a talented rookie into the high leverage mix:
Thank you bro.!?????????? https://t.co/oLIyeNruux— Jonathan Hernández (@jonathanhdez06) July 17, 2020
Hernandez owns a heavy sinker at 98 MPH and only one run in six innings of work on five hits and a walk with nine strikeouts. He also shined during camp in Arizona. Another name to track, Ian Gibaut , had eight strikeouts in four scoreless frames giving up a hit and a walk. Gibaut struggles with command issues at times. Do not be surprised if José Leclerc struggles, Hernandez gets a look as a closer this season.
Views like this one from summer camp never get old for an Ozzie Albies truther:
During Thursday’s scrimmage, Kyle Wright tossed three solid innings in his campaign to be the fifth starter with Cole Hamels out for the start of the season. Also, in the battle Josh Tomlin and “dark horse” Tucker Davidson. One writer puts Wright ahead while another sees Tomlin taking the fifth spot. Wait for clarity here.
Manager Brian Snitker remains hopeful Freddie Freeman will be ready on Opening Day, but each passing day puts this in doubt. Will Smith and Touki Toussaint remain asymptomatic however cannot rejoin the team until clearing protocol. Friday will be an off day for Atlanta.
Any time injury news crops up on the timeline with the shortened season, it raises concerns. Here’s an update on Jonathan Villar , absent from Thursday's scrimmage:
Told Villar had minor back spasms, which is why he isn't playing in the scrimmage today. Started feeling better closer to practice but #Marlins felt it best not to risk anything.— Jordan McPherson (@J_McPherson1126) July 16, 2020
For a player reliant on speed along with power a healthy back fuels his legs so here’s hoping Villar improves in short order. Almost a fantasy afterthought, this outfielder could provide some pop and much needed batting average insulation this season:
New York Mets
Could a change in scenery unlock the potential fantasy owners hoped for in previous seasons for this pitcher?
Michael Wacha was so sharp in his intrasquad start tonight that the Mets had him face three extra batters in four innings. He faced 16 of them in total, allowing his onl baserunner on an E3. Four strikeouts. pic.twitter.com/H6icjsadyr— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 17, 2020
Wacha retired 19 of the 20 hitters he faced with a wicked changeup. Robinson Canó returned to camp and hopes to be ready for Opening Day, so the infield remains fluid at this point. If Cano makes the 30-man final roster, this puts Jeff McNeil back at third and J.D. Davis in left field. Nothing will be normal this season, as evidenced here by Brandon Nimmo :
Knowing Soto is a stud, do not forget Kendrick slashed .344/.395/.572 last year with 17 home runs in only 370 plate appearances. Still no word on who will win the last spot in the rotation between Austin Voth and Erick Fedde with news coming down to the wire.
Not only can J.T. Realmuto produce in fantasy as a five-tool catcher, he’s also in mid-season form throwing runners out:
JT Realmuto ?? pic.twitter.com/uKLytFOw7Q— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) July 16, 2020
It will take some time (likely at least seven days) but Spencer Howard will debut in 2020. He tossed three scoreless frames on Thursday giving up a hit and two walks with three strikeouts. Nick Pivetta kept alive his hopes for the last spot in the rotation working four hitless and scoreless innings. Jake Arrieta recorded five strikeouts in four innings as well. A wild card in all of this, if Zach Eflin cannot open the year in the rotation, this puts both Pivetta and Vince Velasquez in it.
In Milwaukee’s scrimmage World Series, once again the Gold team prevailed behind a strong outing from Josh Lindblom :
Logan Morrison launched a three run home run off of Freddy Peralta . Peralta settled down after working 3.2 innings allowing four hits and one walk with a strikeout. Battling for spots in the bullpen, Devin Williams (four batters faced, three strikeouts) and Justin Grimm (scoreless innings, three strikeouts, one walk) both pitched well with roster decisions looming.
St. Louis Cardinals
Hits and runs continue to be tough to find at scrimmages in St. Louis. With so many pitchers trying to make the roster and rotation, situations remain in flux until clarity gets provided by the franchise. On Thursday, this outing by a new acquisition punctuates this point:
5?? IP— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 17, 2020
and a complete game win for Kim! pic.twitter.com/V3wo9AfUil
As it stands right now, Jack Flaherty will start on Opening Day with Adam Wainwright pitching on Saturday following him. Reports suggest Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson will be next in line with Kim battling Carlos Martínez for the last spot in the rotation. Martinez opposes Mikolas in Friday’s scrimmage.
How the team handles Martinez causes a ripple effect in the bullpen. Ryan Helsley tossed terrific outings in the playoffs but turned in two sideways performances recently in camp. Other names mentioned include Andrew Miller and even Johan Oviedo with Giovanny Gallegos still absent from camp. Stay tuned since this remains fluid.
Part of the wrinkles this season in 60 games in a 66-day sprint, handling pitchers and Chicago plays 17 straight games starting on July 24th. Good news for José Quintana . He threw from 60 feet on flat ground, after getting five stitches removed on Wednesday from his “knife” accident suffering a lacerated digital sensory nerve. Until his return, the Cubs will do their best to man innings at the onset of the season.
For months, Colby Conway and myself drove the Mitch Keller fan club on the Fantasy Alarm podcast and finally a new pitching coach in Pittsburgh may unlock his potential:
"The thing that made me smile was watching him execute and also continuing to see his to development. As we’ve said as a group, this guy’s got a major ceiling." -Derek Shelton on Mitch Keller . pic.twitter.com/7m11hO7wgK— Pirates (@Pirates) July 16, 2020
Still no Gregory Polanco in camp on Thursday potentially weakening an already lacking lineup. Run, baby, run on the basepaths Pirates.
Trying to separate Trevor Bauer the person from the fantasy player can be difficult. Discerning his 2018 breakout and last year’s struggle also factor into evaluating him for the upcoming season. However, he looked tremendous on Thursday:
Not only the eight strikeouts, but the movement on the pitches:
Rave reviews from new hitting coach praising Jesse Winker , Eugenio Suárez , and Nick Senzel . Mike Moustakas sat out on Thursday for precautionary reasons with tightness in his groin. Insert middle high school joke here.
Los Angeles Dodgers
There’s no surprise anymore about Walker Buehler being behind in ramping up for the season. It’s also covered here:
Walker Buehler will pitch 2 innings in Friday’s exhbition game for the Dodgers, Dave Roberts said— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) July 16, 2020
Buehler will toss two innings later today in a scrimmage building up for the season only a week away. Outside of Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day, Dave Roberts will not announce the rest of the rotation until this weekend or early next week. Suffice it to say, whoever works after Buehler at the onset of the season as a piggy-back starter makes for a terrific target in fantasy for at least two outings.
Also, of note Gavin Lux would love to win Rookie of the Year honors but prefers the team winning a championship rather than personal accolades. Late to camp, the Dodgers will continue to get Lux at-bats to prepare for next week’s start.
San Francisco Giants
Knowing it’s all hands-on deck for the season, this former Rockie could do well as a tandem pitcher or even get a chance to start later on for San Francisco:
With all of the issues of the upcoming season weighing on team’s minds, this tidbit of information could delay the arrival of many top prospects from Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic:
“...according to the March agreement, the service-time denominator is no longer 60 games. It becomes three. In other words, Bart would play three games and receive a full year of major-league service. The Giants would completely waste a year of club control over a player that they view as a future franchise pillar.”
No matter how one feels regarding the archaic service time manipulation provided owners, this statement gives light to why any potential shutdown due to the pandemic creates cause to keep players like Joey Bart in satellite sites rather than in major league stadiums. Stay tuned. Until then, enjoy this work on defense by the talented prospect:
???? ???? ???? pic.twitter.com/QKLtQbvc8S— KXSF Sports (@KXSFsports) July 16, 2020
An injury update on Evan Longoria who suffered a moderate right oblique strain. Never good news for a hitter. One of Wilmer Flores , Pablo Sandoval , Donovan Solano , or Yolmer Sánchez could see time at third if Longoria lands on the injured list.
San Diego Padres
One year removed from his contract, Manny Machado could improve his average and his glove already appears in midseason form:
Adding to an already deep bullpen, Tim Hill will fit in nicely shutting down left-handed bats for the Padres. Also, of note with Franchy Cordero off the roster, perhaps Ty France gets an extended look at the team’s designated hitter. He’s been producing hard hits in summer camp and San Diego thinks he can benefit from steady at-bats.
As a hockey parent, seeing taped numbers happens at least once a season with injuries or a forgotten jersey. Still, this picture of Daniel Bard’s homemade jersey made me laugh:
It’s going to be a wild 60-game season. As for Colorado, David Dahl missed the last two days with “core soreness”. He’s slated to return to action on Friday. Dahl slashed .302/.353/.524 with 15 home runs and 61 RBI in 100 games last year. Charlie Blackmon remains on track to play on Opening Day with his injured list designation a “procedural move” according to the team. Scott Oberg has yet to appear in an intrasquad scrimmage but should over the weekend. Oberg went 6-1 last year with five saves and 58 strikeouts in 56 innings.
With games less than a week away, perhaps some more good news about games going live:
Another set of encouraging results… pic.twitter.com/8Xs9H0Xo7R— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 17, 2020
However, the NFL could go through some tough negotiations soon about their return to play protocol:
Hey, I've seen this movie before! https://t.co/cdUdPrcrJx— Trevor “IamTrevorMay” May (@IamTrevorMay) July 17, 2020
Until next time, be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition across all fantasy formats and be safe.