Dead of winter, not really, but we were short-changed with a 15-minute fall this year, so it feels like January. IF ONLY! Then we'd be closer to the return of baseball, but as it is, there's still a bit to discuss, so lets have at it.
Not many surprises here, especially after JD started publicly discussing the club's affection for 22 year-old Hanser Alberto a few days ago. Let's go with him first; Hanser has one 80-grade tool: his makeup. Everybody loves Hanser. He loves everybody. Armed with an omnipresent smile he's even become comedic foil to his colossal teammate, Joey Gallo. Watch the end of this clip verrrrry closely-- Joey and Hanser have a funny, VERY friendly greeting ritual.
Joey and Hanser, friends forever. I love Hanser as a kid, I like him as a player. The obvious thought is that he was chosen over Doobie Herrera because of his defense. Hanser really improved at SS, so much so that he won the Rawlings Gold Glove for minor league shortstops. As in, all of them, like, 120-ish other shortstops and he won the award. He's got an outstanding arm and plays 3B in the Winter League back home in the Dominican, although he hasn't played very often this season. He can comfortably hold down 3B, SS, and 2B and I expect him to be able to do that at the big league level as well. He can get a bit round in the mid-section at times, but seems to have that under control in the last couple of years as well. He's worked hard on his hitting and he'll have to keep improving to earn a shot at the ultimate level. He bends his front leg nowadays in an effort to keep his weight transfer consistent. I've seen him play about 50 times, and when his left knee is moving early (in either direction really), he just has no pop in the lumber. He doesn't walk or K very often; his contact rate is excellent, so that's good. Just gotta keep the mechanics in line and start driving the ball a bit more. The glove plays, the bat is improving, and the attitude is outstanding.
Luke Jackson was added to the 40-man because you don't expose 1st rounders who throw 96mph wiggling fastballs and offer a hammer curve and a good changeup. Still plenty of work to be done, but this one was a no-brainer. LuJax is a dude.
Jorge Alfaro was also a no-brainer. Fucking unicorn.
Jerad Eickhoff is a guy I might not have expected to be on this last had you asked me last year. But the big dude (6'4" ~235bs) just kept getting better throughout 2014 and now he's gonna make more money next season. In addition to a transposed "a" and "e" in his first name, Jerad offers a FB that regularly maintained velo in the mid-90s late into his starts, augmented with an outstanding CB that really earned its chops this season. There's a decent SL that kind of comes and goes and a CH that is a continuing work in progress. He's gonna stay a starter, but on Twitter I've remarked that he reminds me of Trevor Rosenthal when he was in the Texas League with AA Springfield. Jerad is an extremely polite mid-west kid off the field and a rather stoic bulldog on it. If he ultimately makes it as a starter the CH is gonna have to come along, but don't rule out a September cameo in the Texas bullpen. Unleashed, and expected to go only 1 inning, I'd be pretty curious to see what his premium velocity FB/hammer CB combo would look like.
I'm happy for all these kids. Ain't a shit head in the bunch and they've all worked very hard and are all home grown dudes. And now all of them are guaranteed to make at least $40,000 next year, which is much more than the ~$8,500 they made this year in Double-A.
Other random tidbits:
- Texas' minor league coaching staffs are gonna see some shufflin'. There's the obvious need for a new skipper at the AAA level after Boo was bumped up to sit on Banister's bannister, but I'm also very curious as to some of the other positions. Who wants to move to High Desert? Huh? Anyone? I'm joking, because I'm sure someone does. Actually, I'm sure several guys want that job really really badly. But will it be Myrtle Beach manager and North Carolina native Steve Mintz? Hmmm. I wasn't surprised to see Tony Fernandez's special assistant contract not renewed. He didn't have nearly the same vigor in his visits to Frisco in 2014. Speaking of instructors, who's gonna talk to the catchers? Both catching coordinators have moved off the farm with Hector Ortiz taking a job in the big league dugout and Ryley Westman being snapped up by Rangers West, the San Diego Padres. Brook Jacoby has taken a big league job, so there's another opening. I expect some of these slots to go to internal candidates, but there's gonna be enough vacancies that new and fresh faces are gonna join the family too.
- I'm not expecting Frisco's new uniforms and logo to be unveiled until after the first of the year. Sounds like they were pushing for a pre-holidays rollout, but wanted to make sure everything was just right, so holding off 'til stuff was perfect made sense. New unis and a spruced up ballpark will await another loaded Opening Day roster at the corner of Hicks and Diamond.
- Speaking of "new look" rollouts, what the hell happened to San Antonio's near-perfect mascot, Ballapeno? He's pissed off now? He's Davy Crockett now? Whatever. But if they're planning on messing with Henry the Puffy Taco as well, shit's gonna go down.
- At one point in the comments of a previous article, someone asked just how much it costs to set up MiLB.tv in a minor league park. I had no idea, but that's never stopped me before. Frisco and Round Rock have it, of course, but High Desert and Hickory do not. Most of the A-ball teams don't and here's why, courtesy of my former friends in Myrtle Beach:
- Cameras (2-5 depending on how well you want it done): $200-$5,000 per camera (our cameras are HD and roughly $1500 per)
- Cabling/running of the cables back to press box: this can be the really expensive part for a stadium not already wired. Can cost upwards of 10,000k depending on quality, materials of the ground, distance of the cabling, labor costs in states (which in Cali I'm sure is bad). This could be no cost or it could be a ton…really tough to estimate without knowing the current set up.
- Camera Switcher: $4,000-10,000
- If they have a video board and some cameras, they prob have some sort of encoder already (we use Tricaster) - If not, you are talking about $6,000-15,000
- If they want graphics - some graphic system – approx $200 plus the cost of a dedicated computer to run it
- Server to transmit to milb - $4,000
- Internet / data cost for that server - Turned on at the beginning of the year, turned off at end of season - $1075 in 2014 for us
- MiLB.tv domain cost - $40/two years
- Labor costs
- Three camera ops min (we have four)
- Graphics person (if you want graphics like score bug, lower thirds, etc)
- (if desired) Replay operator
Almost none of that makes any sense to me except for the last paragraph. Costs are "whoa" money to clubs which may have an operating budget of a million or two dollars a year. In short, don't hold your breath for High Desert or many other A-ball clubs to sign up for MiLB.tv anytime soon. Also, I really miss the fine folks in Myrtle Beach and wish them well with the damn Cubs.
- The winter leagues are pretty boring this year because, as we've noted, most of Texas' guys stayed relatively healthy this season and didn't need the extra reps. Nomar Mazara and Tomas Telis were the latest to finish up their seasons and I'm hearing Telis' injury wasn't serious (his left hand) and his time with Magallanes was almost complete anyways. Roogie Odor has joined up with the Venezuelan champs, so along with Eduard Pinto and the freshly acquired David Martinez (a strike throwing fella with average stuff whom I expect to add some depth to the AAA rotation) Texas still gets some love on mighty Magallanes. Trever Adams is hitting well in Puerto Rico, and Cody Buckel is a teammate of Kellin Deglan in Australia. Nick Williams finished the AFL with a .277/.296/.420 line despite walking only once while striking out 32 times in 27 games. That's strange and hard to understand, but that's Nick Williams.
- I had a chance to catch up with a pitcher who has faced the pitch clock and lived to tell about it. An Arizona Fall League pitcher who may or may not be a Texas prospect, told me:
So there you have it, from the mouths of hurlers. I think some variation of the pitch clock will be coming to a park near you in the next decade.
Alright, per usual, I've talked and typed too long. Gotta go.
As always, enjoy the break! Love Ya!