Spring is Here (And so’s my prospect handbook!)

With pitchers and catchers reporting, not only does this week mark the official beginning of Spring Training, but it also marks my first Spring Training in baseball.  And to be honest, this is pretty cool.

Alrigh, alright, you’ve caught me in a lie.  I did take in a few Spring Training games on a family vacation a few years back.  I went to a Cardinals vs. Mets game and Orioles vs. Twins game.  I still have the autographed Yadier Molina (in red Sharpie, it’s kinda sweet) and Mike Piazza baseball cards.  The Piazza one comes complete with my dad’s thumbprint over the P.  I also got a Lou Brock autographed baseball, Justin Morneau signed card and Andres Galarraga signed ticket stub.  I also got waved at by Sammy Sosa.  He might have told me that “Baseball has been very, very good to me” but I don’t remember.  It was a pretty good haul that spring.

I did also go to a Yankees-Nationals game last March and got into the Houston Astros complex disguised (by credential) as somebody else.  So much for this being my first Spring Training, but we can still count it.

So being that this is my “first” spring, I have learned quite a few things.

1.       Pitchers and catchers report doesn’t mean all pitchers and catchers.  It’s only the big league guys.  Now maybe I look like an idiot for not knowing that, but I didn’t know that.

2.       If you want autographs games aren’t the way to go, workouts are.  You get much more up close and personal to the players and there are FAR fewer fans there so it’s easier to nab that signature.

3.       This isn’t so much something I’ve learned, but just my favorite part.  Being in the minors you don’t get to watch pitcher’s BP that much, but so far I’ve witnessed the session twice in three days.  I’m always a fan of pitchers taking batting practice.  It’s the greatest gym class hero moment in sports – all the pitchers trying to show that they can hit with the position players…one sometimes hits a homer (I didn’t see any so far) and then gets bragging rights forever.  Pitcher’s BP is a great reason to come by workouts.  Let the trash talk ensue.

On an aesthetic note, I happen to be a big fan of the Pirates new BP tops.  The look’s been sported at Spring Training and has had some joking that you don’t need the lights on in the clubhouse to see them.  I’m sure somebody has also made the obligatory “Hey! Turn your shirt down.  It’s a little loud,” remark.  I happen to think they’re pretty awesome.  I’m always a big fan of cool and different looks and thusly am usually a fan of whatever the University of Oregon decides to wear.  I was also a fan of this, which unfortunately didn’t last at my alma mater.

Morris.jpgNext topic change.  I was psyched this week to discover that my Baseball America Prospect Handbook had come in the mail.  Turns out the 2010 Marauders are well represented in the system.  We put out a release several weeks ago when the club’s top 10 prospect list was announced and included several Bradenton players.  Here’s the rundown.

2. Tony Sanchez

“He has the potential to become Pittsburgh’s first Gold Glove catcher since Mike LaValliere in 1987.”       

 4.       Starling Marte

“He could push Andrew McCutchen to an outfield corner when he arrives in Pittsburgh in a couple of years.

6.       Bryan Morris

“He rebounded in a big way last year, pitching in the Futures Game and helping Altoona win the Eastern League championship.”

8.    Jeff Locke

“Locke looks like he might be the best of the three players acquired in the 2009 Nate Mclouth trade with the Braves.”

12. Diego Moreno

“He uses a wipeout slider at 87-88 mph to keep hitters from sitting on the fastball.”

17. Nate Baker

“[His slider and changeup] both have come a long way in a short period, abd that has Pirates officials encouraged.”

19. Ramon Aguero

“The stuff is too good to ignore…”

21. Quincy Latimore

“Latimore has been a favorite of some in the Pirates front office since his draft year, partly because of a fiery competitiveness but mostly because of what they see as legitimate power.”

25. Robbie Grossman

“He was raw power, including gap to gap, from both sides of the plate.”

28. Aaron Pribanic

“Pribanic’s sinker was too good to stifle, though, and he was allowed to strut it.”

31. Phillip Irwin

“Irwin is more consistent then flashy, but he gets results.”

There is also an organizational depth chart listed in the guide.  Outside the players ranked among the 31 the guide lists, Jeremy Fall is at the top of the third base crop with Brock Holt fourth at shortstop behind Chase d’Arnaud, Jordy Mercer and Pedro Ciriaco.  Shelby Ford is listed amongst the second basemen and Calvin Anderson is fourth at 1B.  Eric Fryer checks in second behind Sanchez a catcher.  Pitcher listed include Tim Alderson, Hunter Strickland, Kyle McPherson, Tom Boleska, Brian Leach, Casey Erickson and Tyler Cox.

Of course you do have to take all of that with a grain of salt – it’s not an official listing or how guys really sit in an organization.  It’s just how Baseball America sees it.   For example I just opened my 2008 guide and flipped to a random page.  The Chicago White Sox list contained only 10 guys from the year before, with none of the 20 that were gone having made the bigs, they had all just dropped off the list (were no longer ‘prospects’), or were with new organizations.   None of this really gives us a definitive look at anything, but it’s still fun to read about it.

That’s all for today.  Until next time –




About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

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