I don’t like to regurgitate anything, whether it’s food or news stories you’ve already read elsewhere on the Internets. Most baseball sickos like me have been pretty entertained by the free agent signings lately… Jim Thome to the Twins, Ben Sheets to the A’s (for $10 MILLION?!?), Jon Garland to the Padres, an Expos hat to Andre Dawson’s HOF plaque (in spite the Hawk’s preference)… It’s typical baseball stuff.
Now, I have legitimate, honest-to-goodness, original news you won’t find anywhere else. Remember when I told you Monday that the MLB Network’s show on the top 50 prospects in baseball (tonight at 8:00) is required viewing? Well, now it’s double-secret required. Someone (possibly multiple someones) who played for the TinCaps in 2009 will be in the top 50. I can truthfully tell you that I don’t know who the player is (the only heads-up I got was that we had someone in the Top 50), but the astute observer will look at the most recent MLB.com rankings from August and see that Jaff Decker was 48th on the list. I don’t think he did anything to drag his ranking down and a few of the guys ahead of him have lost their prospect status (read: MLB rookie eligibility), so he’s my best guess. If you’re wondering, Mat Latos pitched 50.2 innings for the Padres in 2009… the cutoff is 50 innings, so he’s not considered a rookie or a prospect.
I know I said I’d shut up about it, but this afternoon I found a(nother) prospect rater oversimplifying the Jaff Decker/conditioning thing. Baseball America is a wonderful resource and they are the best in the business at what they do. BUT anybody who refers to Decker as having an “utter lack of athleticism” and infers that he doesn’t “pay attention to conditioning” hasn’t seen him play enough. I realize you can’t know everything about everyone when you work in the baseball prospect ranking business, but does anyone care that he dropped (at least) eight pounds during the season? Does anyone know how tough that is, considering minor leaguers don’t get personal chefs and that playing baseball games every day wears you out, then you have your early work and possibly a workout? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. And I hope he comes to Spring Training looking like fitness celebrity John Basedow and hits .380 in the California League. I’m not saying he’s going to be Willie Mays, but barring a catastrophe he’ll play in the big leagues. Isn’t that what every prospect wants?
Also just came across a starting list of players the Padres have invited to major-league Spring Training. I haven’t seen it posted on the Padres’ website, but I believe it’s right. It doesn’t include the recent signees like Matt Stairs. TinCaps from 2009 with invitations: Simon Castro, Mat Latos and James Darnell. Other recent alums: Ernesto Frieri, Wynn Pelzer, Jackson Quezada, Cory Luebke, Lance Zawadzki, Luis Durango, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable.
What does an MLB Spring Training invitation mean? Well, I don’t think there’s an RSVP form included with the invitation. In fact, for most young guys, it’s more of a “this is an opportunity so get your butt to camp or else,” so it’s an invitation in name only. Everybody on the 40-man roster goes to Spring Training with the big club. But, for guys who are on the 40-man roster but don’t have much (or any) major league experience, it could be a chance to make the Opening Day roster, or it could be a chance to make a good impression to become the guy who gets the call in case of an injury. For the Simon Castros and James Darnells who aren’t on the 40-man roster yet, it’s a chance to get an early start, work with the MLB coaching staff, show them what you’ve got (as Jay-Z might say) and set yourself up for a callup in the not-too-distant future. So the invitation is a good thing. It means the major-league team likes you and wants to see you play.
I think that’s all for today. Coming Friday: TSA carry-on baggage dos and don’ts. Oh baby.