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BB Roundtable Discussion: Controversy, Futures, and Non-Pitchers Pitching

Written By on 1st July, 2013

You may recall that we used to do roundtable discussions on a regular basis, and that we hadn’t really done one in a while before the prospect list roundtable you saw last week. Now we’re going to be getting back to them on a regular basis, along with another exciting new feature we hope to be introducing soon. So without further ado, I give you the rebirth of the roundtable!

In the wake of the so-called “STFU-Gate” between Brian Cashman and Alex Rodriguez, do you think teams need to establish a better policy about their players talking about official information through social media? Also, should General Managers and other non-field staff even be commenting in the media about things like this?

John Verburg: I actually don’t really see the big issue with what Rodriguez did. It sounds like he was just excited to get some good news from his doctor. I do have a problem with what Cashman did. When you have a position of authority like that it’s never really good practice to be dropping a “shut the eff up” on your employee in public in any business. While everyone is human, it’s just not professional. I don’t really believe in teams imposing a no tweet policy or anything like that, but instead should clearly lay out what is acceptable and what is not, and then go from there with penalties.

Jeff Reese: I side with John here. He may have a massive ego, but I just don’t understand the hatred that Alex Rodriguez (or Barry Bonds before him) generates. He wants to continue playing baseball, and he thinks he’s healthy enough to return. I’d let him play; there’s a very good chance that he can help that team.

Conor Dowley: As a Mariners fan growing up, I completely get the hate that he gets, especially in the modern fan culture surrounding the steroid debacle. But in this matter, I don’t see what he did wrong. Yeah, he released some information before the Yankees were apparently ready for it to be out, but the way that Cashman publically reacted was tasteless and, frankly, classless. Upbraiding him like that in private is one thing, but to do it so forcefully in the media is a whole other inappropriate ball of wax.

Evan Rentschler: I don’t pretend to take much interest in the slow motion car crash that is A-Rod’s career at this point, and like Jeff I have a hard time mustering or understanding the excessive negativity directed toward him by fans, though there is ample basis for frustration among Yankee fans based on the contract, much less this falling star’s childish addiction to attention. I do think this is more than a simple tweet of excitement.

The doctor who “cleared” Rodriguez is his personal doctor, not a member of the Yankee’s medical staff, and there is a feeling among some that this was a passive-aggressive move on Rodriguez’s part to force the Yankees to bring him back on his schedule rather than theirs. With conspiracy theories flying left and right — from the dubious assertion that the Yankees are envisioning insurance fraud re Rodriguez’s salary to A-Rod’s wanting to return to the field only to retire immediately and avoid losing salary to a potential BioGenesis-spurred suspension — I think this tweet is just the tip of a submerged and sordid iceberg of recrimination between these two parties.

Should Cashman have behaved more professionally? Sure. But then this albatross must be starting to weigh extraordinarily heavy at this point. I’m certainly not going to sit in judgment. At least not until A-Rod’s tell-all comes out.

What do you feel about the value of a pro prospect showcase like the Futures Game? Is it of actual benefit for the players and talent evaluators, or are they just better off playing for their clubs?

John: I don’t think there is much value to be gained for the players. Though I am sure it is a cool experience to play in a big league park. And it really doesn’t mean anything for the organizations either. If they don’t know who these guys are, then frankly their scouting departments aren’t doing their jobs. I think there is some value to the fans and baseball in general though. It allows fans to see guys they might only briefly hear about, and for baseball it gets fans interested in the next crop of superstars.

Steve Fiorindo: I love the showcases, but I don’t think there is a ton of evaluating going on.  The game is for the fans, to get a sneak peak at the future.  The pitchers come in for their one inning with a closer mentality, mainly pumping fastballs.  It is great to get a look at the guys body, delivery, swing etc, but to truly evaluate a guy you need to sit on him for a while.

Jeff: Right, Steve. It is nice to see that many high end prospects at the same place, but what you see is rarely a true representation of their game. These players know that they’re on a big stage and will be trying to impress their future fans. You can get a feel for the tools that a player has – remember Wilin Rosario’s arm! – beyond that, tread carefully in the conclusions you draw.

Conor: While I certainly understand the marketing draw of such an event, I’d have to think that these players are better off with their clubs. They miss several games worth of time to travel a long ways and pitch just one inning or get a couple of at bats, if even that.  That said, there is something to be said to seeing how they do “under the lights” in what’s undoubtedly a higher-pressure situation than they’d face until they reach the majors.

Evan: I think it is exactly what it says it is: a showcase. I don’t think the players get much development out of it per se, and as a scouting event it provides the same useful but limited opportunities as any other showcase: batting practice and fielding, hitters facing elite pitching and vice versa, and a look at how players handle themselves with a greater than normal media presence. For fans it’s an entertaining and sometimes memorable first look at some of the best prospects in the game. MLB is just starting to wake up to the fact that it needs to leverage the groundswell of fan interest in prospects, and the Futures Game and an improved draft presentation are the foundation of what is surely more to come on that front.

What’s been your favorite moment of the minor league season so far?

John: That’s a tough one, but it might have to be the Brooks Pounders no-hitter. I really felt when he was drafted by the Pirates that he had a chance to be real good. He hasn’t really done anything special in his minor league career, and never really reached the level I thought he could, but it was nice to see him get a no-hitter.

Steve: I’ve been doing a lot more amateur stuff lately, but I did get up to San Jose for the Cal/Carolina All Star Game.  It’s always cool to get a look at the guys coming in from the Carolina League, got to see Lindor and company.  Would have liked if they would have taken infield and outfield.

Jeff: Nothing is coming to mind as a particularly memorable event, so I’ll go with watching Roberto Osuna during the first weekend of the season. It was great to be outside in one of the few nice weeks (weather wise) this spring, and Osuna did not disappoint.

Conor: While DJ Peterson’s first pro homer was a lot of fun (to say that he mashed that ball is to participate in extreme understatement), but I’d have to say that the best is yet to come for me: I’ll be participating in the events around the Northwest League All-Star Game. I’ve been to these kinds of games before, but to actually be part of the event will be a whole new level of fun.

Evan: I haven’t personally witnessed a memorable minor league moment, but as an unabashed fan, I’ll propose Javier Baez’s four home run game on June 10. Baez started the year slowly, showing off his power but struggling to make consistent contact while also showing little patience. June has seen a slow turnaround in those struggles, while the power has only consolidated, culminating in that fireworks show. While he has had a fresh stretch filled with 0-fers since then, quelling the latest premature calls for his promotion to Double-A, he has also hit two doubles and four more homers to stoke .269 IsoP, especially impressive in the FSL with its spacious parks. A special, if flawed, talent.

Chris Blessing: I got to experience Puigmania in Chattanooga.  Everyone stopped what they were doing when he came to bat. One of the vendors told me that leading up to a Puig at bat he’d generate the most sales because people didn’t want to miss what Puig might do next.  I have been a minor league baseball fan for twenty five years and cannot remember one player generating this much excitement from the home crowd.

On the heels of Casper Wells’ inspiring relief performance on Friday, what position player do you most want to see take the mound, even if just for one inning?

John: Andrelton Simmons. He has a good frame, is athletic, and has a cannon on that right arm of his.

Jeff:  I’m always interested in the uncommon. Position players given a chance to mop up on the mound certainly qualifies as uncommon. There are plenty of arm strength guys who could probably look passable on the mound, but I embrace the rarity. Wade Boggs and Todd Zeile throwing knuckleballs; Mark Grace throwing at speeds that I could reach; are you not entertained?

Steve: I’d like to see Bryce Harper on the hill.  I always reflect back on the throw from the left field corner in the Futures Game and replay it in my head in slow motion when he aired out that throw.  Would be interesting to see him airing it out on the bump.

Conor: I can’t help but pine for the chance to see Ichiro on the mound. He asked for the chance time and again when he was in Seattle, but was never given the opportunity.
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Bullpen Banter is a conglomeration of writers from across the country, offering its readers scouting content and video of baseball prospects at the professional and amateur levels.

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