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The last twenty comments in true blog fasion, with the links to their authors and the player commented upon.

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Kole Calhoun Arizona Diamondbacks

I agree with Howard this should be under Hosmer (36 RBI in 38 games) but the question here is why did Calhoun slug so well batting cleanup (51 AB) and so much worse batting first (.206/.351/.492 in 63 AB) and at all batting second (.190/.306/.405 in 42 AB)?

Yes, they are all small sample sizes but it sure looks like he had a whole different attitude batting cleanup.

Alex Patton Alex
Randy Jones New York Mets

9 signature pitches from Padres history

Of course my fav is #2 ...

2. Jones' sinker
Without context, Randy Jones' numbers in 1975 and '76 are almost laughable. The left-hander compiled more than 600 innings across two seasons with a 2.50 ERA -- but he recorded only 196 strikeouts in the process. Jones was able to do so because of the pitch that came to define an era of Padres baseball: his sinker. The pitch tantalized opposing hitters, then darted below their barrels, as Jones became the king of weak contact. The pitch was easy to connect with but impossible to square up, and Jones used that to his advantage, amassing 43 complete games across two seasons. (For context, no pitcher has more than 24 complete games in the past decade.) On the strength of that sinker, Jones won an ERA title in '75 and the NL Cy Young Award in '76. He became one of the most beloved players in franchise history in the process.

Howard Lynch LynchMob
Eric Hosmer San Diego Padres

Repost under the player most surprising to me ...

Top 5 NL Cleanup Hitters SLG

(minimum 56 PA)

Kole Calhoun .804

Brandon Belt .743

Dominic Smith .655

Eric Hosmer .644

Marcel Ozuma .583 

Howard Lynch LynchMob
Helcris Olivarez Colorado Rockies

Helcris Olivarez, LHP, Rockies

Olivarez jumped on the scouting radar last year and took another step forward during instructs. He showed a fastball up to 97 mph, an improved changeup and better control, continuing an upward trend that has evaluators intrigued to see what comes next.

Alex Patton Alex
Justin Martinez Arizona Diamondbacks

Another in the Baseball America 19 -- players who impressed scouts in the instructional league. Do they all throw in the high 90s?

Justin Martinez, RHP, D-backs

Outfielders Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas received positive reviews, but Martinez was often the first name evaluators brought up from D-backs camp. The 19-year-old righthander showed a fastball up to 97 mph, a breaking ball with solid depth and deception that helped his stuff play up.

Alex Patton Alex
Josh Jung Texas Rangers

Defense? Not a category.

From Baseball America, a player who stood out in the just-completed instructional league. Drafted in the first round, 8th overall, in 2019.

Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers

Like Busch, Jung impressed offensively in Arizona and drew consensus reviews as a plus hitter with plus power. His defense received less favorable appraisals, but his bat was enough for evaluators to project an impact player.

Alex Patton Alex

In addition to Arihara, the Fighters are also going to post centerfielder Haruki Nishikawa. "The Nippon Ham Fighters have agreed to post ace pitcher Kohei Arihara and center fielder Haruki Nishikawa, both 28, Sports Nippon first reported Tuesday, news that has since been confirmed by multiple outlets." Arihara will generate interest. Nishikawa, probably not so much. He's the prototypical leadoff bat. A very good one, but slap hitting speed guys aren't on many MLB shopping lists. Here are their career stats for your perusal. 

https://npb.jp/bis/eng/players/51155130.html

https://npb.jp/bis/eng/players/21225133.html  

Tim McLeod tlmcleod
Carlos Martinez St. Louis Cardinals

Carlos Martinez (P) STL - Nov. 23

https://www.rotowire.com/baseball/player.php?id=761687

Martinez (oblique) was not arrested Monday for violating social-distancing protocols in the Dominican Republic, contrary to previous reports, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: Initial reports indicating that Martinez would be facing legal trouble for hosting a large gathering in violation of the country's COVID-19 protocols, but both the pitcher's agent and the Cardinals denied those allegations. He does appear to have taken part in the event but is not facing any charges. The incident appears to have disappointed his team, which put out a statement which reads, in part, "Certainly, we would not condone anyone from our organization knowingly violating community laws or health regulations," but he doesn't appear to be facing any long-term consequences. 

Alex Patton Alex

Kohei Arihara (P) - Nov. 23

https://www.rotowire.com/baseball/player.php?id=761688

Arihara is expected to be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters this offseason, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: The 28-year-old righty has been one of the top pitchers in Japan for the past few seasons. As is typical of many Japanese pitchers, he has a diverse repertoire, throwing a four-seamer, two-seamer, slider, cutter, changeup and splitter, with the changeup serving as his best secondary offering. Arihara's best season came in 2019, when he cruised to a 2.46 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. His numbers slid back a bit this past season, though his 3.46 ERA and 1.17 WHIP were both fine marks. He struck out 19.4 percent of the batters he faced in 2020 while walking just 5.5 percent.

What's his spin rate, Tim?

Alex Patton Alex
Seth Johnson Tampa Bay Rays

Baseball America reporting on what scouts saw in the instructional league.

Seth Johnson, RHP, Rays

Johnson was the most commonly cited standout in a talented group of Rays' pitchers. After impressing in his pro debut last year, he made significant strength gains and showed a fastball up to 99 mph with a wipeout slider that earned above-average to plus grades.

Alex Patton Alex
Race Hinds Cincinnati Reds

Second-round pick in 2019. It will be interesting to see how the scouting reports from the instructional league change the 2019 rankings of the top 100 prospects.

Rece Hinds, OF, Reds

Hinds was the star of instructs for the Reds, hitting gargantuan home runs that resembled blasts from some of MLB’s top sluggers. Most importantly, Hinds showed a vastly improved ability to make contact and cut down on his swings and misses, giving him a chance to get to his power at the plate while his plus athleticism flourished in the field.

Alex Patton Alex
Michael Busch Los Angeles Dodgers

The fourth player listed alphabetically whose play in the recently completed instructional league impressed the scouts that Baseball America talked to.

Michael Busch, 2B, Dodgers

Busch earned universal reviews as the top hitter in Arizona. He took high quality at-bats, turned around upper-90s velocity and showed home run power to center field and both gaps. His balance, bat speed, hand-eye coordination and strike-zone discipline all drew high praise. Evaluators were split on Busch’s defense at second base, but he earned consistent grades as a plus hitter with plus power.

The third player listed doesn't yet have a page in our database. For future reference (if we look hard enough), he was --

Peyton Burdick, OF, Marlins

Burdick stood out in a Marlins outfield group that included J.J. Bleday, Kameron Misner, Connor Scott, Griffin Conine and Victor Victor Mesa. After an excellent pro debut last year, the Wright State product got stronger and showed an impressive combination of power and natural feel for hitting. Evaluators noted he faces profile challenges as a righthanded-hitting corner outfielder, but expressed confidence he’ll hit enough to be a solid everyday player.

Alex Patton Alex
Aaron Ashby Milwaukee Brewers

With no minor league stats to look at (and desperately in need of player comments in late November!), I'm going to little by little roll out all 19 Baseball America's Prospects Who Impressed Scouts At Instructional League in 2020.

Here's the second alphabetically.

Aaron Ashby, LHP, Brewers

Ashby arrived late to the alternate site and scuffled, but he rounded into form at instructs and earned plaudits as the Brewers’ top pitcher in camp. He showed a fastball up to 95 mph, earned plus grades on both of his breaking balls and threw enough strikes for evaluators to project an impact lefthander who could move quickly in 2021.

Alex Patton Alex
Matt Allan New York Mets

listed alphabetically, Allan is the first of 19 prospects who impressed scouts in instructional league play this fall. 

Baseball America describes what that was like.

With teams playing actual games against each other and scouts in the stands, instructional league resembled the closest thing to a minor league season in 2020. That said, evaluating player performance was particularly difficult.

For one, it was an incomplete look. Two teams, the Yankees and Cardinals, did not participate in instructional league. The Braves held camp in Gwinnett, Ga. and did not play games against other teams. Some teams, including the Twins, Phillies and Giants, did not allow opposing scouts into their facilities (although scouts could watch the Giants when they faced other teams on the road).

For the players evaluators did get an extended look at, there were more factors than usual to consider. Many players, understandably, were not up to game speed after months away from a professional setting. The pitchers were generally ahead of the hitters. The age and experience level of the players varied widely, from 17-year-old international signees yet to play a professional game to players in their mid-20s with Double-A and Triple-A experience.

The first player on the list fell between the extremes.

Matt Allan, RHP, Mets

Allan took a leap in his second year and jumped out to evaluators as one of the best pitchers in Florida. He flashed three plus pitches consistently with a lively 92-96 mph fastball, hammer curveball and improving changeup. Allan’s command is still a work in progress, but his stuff made a lasting impression.

Alex Patton Alex
Kole Calhoun Arizona Diamondbacks

Top 5 NL Cleanup Hitters SLG

(minimum 56 PA)

Kole Calhoun .804

Brandon Belt .743

Dominic Smith .655

Eric Hosmer .644

Marcel Ozuma .583 

Alex Patton Alex
Ryan O'Hearn Kansas City Royals

Top 5 AL Batting Average w/ RISP

(minimum 38 PA)

Jose Iglesias .421

Will Castro .400

David Fletcher .400

Miguel Cabrera .390

Ryan O'Hearn .387

Alex Patton Alex
Nicky Lopez Kansas City Royals

Top 5 2B Double Play %

(minimum 36 games)

Nicky Lopez .696

Cesar Hernandez .681

Rougned Odor .667

Jonathan Scope .667

Cavan Biggio .647

Alex Patton Alex

Top 5 Range Factor for 2B

(minimum 36 games)

Nicky Lopez 4.44

D.J. LeMahieu 4.42

Jonathan Schoop 4.38

Hanser Alberto 4.17

Jose Altuve 4.11

Alex Patton Alex
Carter Kieboom Washington Nationals

As unprepared as Kieboom was to face big league pitching, he sparkled in the field. His five Defensive Runs Saved tied him with Urshela for fifth most in the majors. Asdrubal Carrera also did a nice job at third when he took over; between them they combined for eight DRS. 

The total DRS for the Nationals was -45, worst in the majors. 

Alex Patton Alex
Bobby Bonilla Pittsburgh Pirates

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