Well, [sigh] it has to happen, right? I mean not everyone has a glorious, straight shot to being a big league regular right? Not even Trout or Harper slid through without some MiLB adversity. Well, maybe Trout did. He was pretty ridiculous at all times in the minors. Anyway, this is hard for me to write. I’m trying to be an upbeat guy writing upbeat type of stuff. But I’m also trying to overcome years of being a cynical prick, so every once in a while, the dark side creeps in and types something. This is that something. I’m just 100% speculating here and by no means am I wishing failure on these kiddos. I’d like nothing more than to be wrong on all accounts, but baseball is a game of failure and well…
Kellin Deglan: Folks were impressed with the signal calling and improved defensive chops. It’s the stick that’s grounds for concern, and heading to the thick air of the Carolina League ain’t gonna do him any favors- if that’s indeed where he goes. This is part of the issue with Kellin. What if the team decides it wants both Alfaro and Deglan to catch nearly everyday? Add in a sprinkling of Tomas Telis, Pat Cantwell, and Kevin Torres and you’ve got enough to keep everybody fresh. I suppose there’s a chance the club advances Deglan to Frisco ‘cause he could probably play catcher up there following 2 seasons at Hickory and a stint in the AFL, but after struggling to hit in low-A, what would he look like in AA? I know catchers don’t really need to hit, so in Deglan’s case, that’s a good thing!
Joey Gallo: Yeah yeah, shock, shock, shock. Listen people, full season ball is a grind. 140 games. Long, smelly bus rides in the middle of the night. Learning to accept being made fun of, in Spanish. Chipotle for every meal. Last year was a whirlwind for Gobbles. Get drafted, go to the hitter friendly Arizona Rookie League, face fairly inexperienced pitchers, crank a bunch of long "HOLY SHIT!" homeruns. Get a bunch of fawning press. Feeding off adrenaline and a lack of offspeed pitches, Gallo stormed north to Spokane where he showed flashes of the beast we think he can become. But even at low-A, pitchers will have changeups, and the good ones will have fastball command and the really good ones will have both, plus additional spinning and dipping stuff coming at you. I’m not saying the sky still isn’t the ceiling for Joey, it is. But give him a moment to make the adjustment from Las Vegas high schooler to professional baseball player. From kid with a big arm, to an actual 3rd baseman, if that's even where he stays. From baby monster with a long swing, to a disciplined hitter simply trying to drive the pitch that’s thrown to him. 2013 could be Gobbles’ test.
Zach Cone: He hears the thunder. He’s not a thick-minded kid. He knows they’re coming. There's a herd of teenage outfielders closing in on him. Zach knows 2013 is important, really important. I speculated in the "Arrows UP" piece a few days ago that if, in April, Hickory uses Nomar Mazara in right field and Myrtle Beach uses Zach Cone in right field, though separated by only one level, they’ll be separated by 5 years of age. That’s a lot. Zach is 23 years old and he has to hit and field and throw and he has to do it now. But Myrtle Beach is a tough place to do that. It’s a tough place to separate yourself offensively. But it can be done, and in his case, it needs to be done now.
Luke Jackson: Everybody knows LuJack is one of my favorites. He’s still pretty raw, but I’m a sucker for kids who run their fastball into the mid-90’s and who strike out 12 guys, swinging, in 5 innings of a high-A professional baseball game. I don’t think Luke’s 2013 is a difficult one because of his stuff or his makeup. I think it’s a challenging year because the club wants it to be. I’m hoping for an early call to Frisco for him. Whether that means to start the season, likely in the rotation with Buckel, or sometime in June, I think he has to face the Texas League. And that’s hard. AA hitters often have a far more refined approach than those at the lower levels. They have a plan when they step into the box. They’ll sit on your fastball if that’s what you’re known for. Even the crappy hitters can hit the ball hard if they know what’s coming and it catches too much of the plate. They control the zone unlike any of the cats in single-A ball. More often than not, a pitch needs to at least be in the vicinity of the strike zone to induce a swing. Luke is likely to spend 2013 searching for the Holy Grail for power pitchers: fastball command. That’s not an easy road for a fireballer. It’s a road full of bumps and potholes (and some ugly line scores), but if he makes it, if he drives long enough to reach smooth asphalt, he'll end up a big leaguer.
Kevin Matthews: If promoted, (kind of a big “if”, frankly) Kevin Matthews is going to pitch in Myrtle Beach. That should be a good thing for the former 1st rounder. Except generally speaking, a strike zone is a strike zone. Regardless of dense air or spacious outfields, a strike zone doesn’t really change. It changes with the batters, sure, and of course, with the umpires, but it still exists. It’s still an imagined area with very real consequences for missing it. The strike zone doesn’t change in Myrtle Beach and neither does velocity. 90 miles an hour is 90 miles an hour. The post-bat effect can be different in different climates and with different defensive abilities behind you, but as a prospect, 90 is 90. And, even for a lefty, it’s usually not fast enough. I guess it’s fast enough for guys like Robbie Erlin who can knock a thimble off a street cone from 60” 6’. (Erlin may be a bit faster- but go with me here) But if you have nothing more than a fleeting love affair with the strike zone, 90 is just kind of a mess.
Well, that wasn’t very much fun to write at all. Yuck. Excuse me while I go take a cold shower, or a hot shower, or eat a bunch of Oreos or something. I don't know, anything comforting. I hope I’m violently wrong about everything I just said. But it’s like Granny used to say, “the world ain’t all sugar and honey.” (I never really had a “Granny”, but if I did, I like to think that’s the kind of stuff she would have said) Tune in next time and I'll tell you when the Rangers will win the World Series. Thanks for reading! Enjoy baseball!