29 September 2016

It's Been A Successful Season For Hyun Soo Kim

Hyun Soo Kim has had a very nice first season in the majors. There's never a bad time to sing his praises, but this morning just feels right considering his massive, game-shifting (and maybe even season-shifting) home run last night.
So let's look at some Kim tidbits from this season:
  • Kim's 121 wRC+ is the second best on the Orioles behind Manny Machado (131).
  • His .382 on-base percentage is far and away the best (Machado is second at .348).
  • Kim has the lowest strikeout percentage (14.5%) among O's regulars and the third-highest walk percentage (10%).
  • Among all hitters with at least 200 plate appearances, Kim has the 21st-best OBP. That's better than Dustin Pedroia, Bryce Harper, Corey Seager, Ryan Braun, Mookie Betts, Hunter Pence, Jose Bautista, etc. 
  • If Kim finishes the year with a OBP of .380 or above, it’ll be the 62nd time that’s been done by an O’s player in the Expansion Era (since 1961, min. 300 PA) 
  • Kim has a 131 wRC+ vs. right-handed pitching and a -19 wRC+ vs. left-handed pitching. Oddly enough, he’s walked the same amount of the time vs. lefties as he’s struck out but still doesn't have any hits (23 plate appearances).
  • Tethered to the bench early in the season, Kim only batted 17 times in March/April.
  • One early concern with Kim was that he wouldn't be able to get around on major league quality fastballs. Instead, he's had more trouble with breaking and offspeed pitches
  • He can hit the ball anywhere, but his power is on the inner half (and down). All six of his home runs are to right field or right-center. 
  • His solo shot on June 30th gave the O’s the MLB record for most home runs in that month (56).
  • Kim is the best on the Orioles at making contact on pitches thrown outside the zone. He's selective, and the only player on the team who has swung less this season is J.J. Hardy.
  • He dressed up like a Teletubby.
Surely, there's more. Feel free to chime in with any interesting Kim note or nugget.

From being booed by fans on opening day for not accepting a minor league assignment, to having to fight tooth and nail to earn more playing time, it's been a year full of redemption for Kim. He's handled all adversity about as well as you could imagine, and he's doing his best -- you know, when he's actually in the lineup -- to get the O's into the postseason.

28 September 2016

Hyun Soo Kim Is The Orioles' Latest Hero

Annoying Orioles fans like me have been wondering for much of the season why Hyun Soo Kim doesn't receive more playing time. Yes, he doesn't have a hit against a left-handed pitcher yet, but it's not like the Orioles have a bunch of lefty mashers anyway.

It's still not clear why Kim hasn't played more, and it may never be explained fully. But Kim continues to excel in whatever role he's asked to fill, and that was never more evident than his enormous pinch-hit, two-run homer tonight in the ninth inning that allowed the Orioles to steal a game in Toronto.
Many fans have come around on Kim. He's not super fast, doesn't have a great arm, and doesn't appear to be anything better than an average or below average outfielder (advanced defensive metrics, in particular, have been unkind to him in his limited time in the field). But Kim has been outstanding against right-handed pitching as a platoon bat, and he's exceeded the expectations of any reasonable fan and almost certainly Buck Showalter (you'd hope).

Kim might play a larger role in the next few games and in 2017. Or he might not. But in 2016, Kim very well may have saved the O's playoff hopes. You can't take that away from him.

23 September 2016

Caleb Joseph Is Having One Of The Worst Offensive Seasons In Orioles' History

Do you remember Geronimo Gil? You should. His name is fun to say and he had a strong arm. He also could not hit. Hitting well is not a requirement for backup catchers, who are more sought after for their defensive skills. Still, you don't want an absolute zero in that spot (or any spot). That's essentially what the Orioles have received out of Caleb Joseph this year.

For the Orioles in the Expansion Era (since 1961), there have been some truly terrible offensive performances. Every team is forced to use bad hitters from time to time. Still, in that time span, nine O's hitters completed seasons in which they received at least 100 plate appearances and posted a batting average of .200 or lower and an on-base percentage of .230 or lower.

Here's the list:

1 Jackie Gutierrez .414 .186 .207 152 1986 BAL 61 145 8 27 0 4 3 27 .207
2 Caleb Joseph .422 .178 .221 138 2016 BAL 47 129 7 23 0 0 7 27 .202
3 Mark Belanger .442 .174 .224 205 1967 BAL 69 184 19 32 1 10 12 46 .217
4 Freddie Bynum .444 .179 .220 121 2008 BAL 40 112 13 20 0 8 5 31 .223
5 Juan Bell .450 .172 .201 223 1991 BAL 100 209 26 36 1 15 8 51 .249
6 Glenn Davis .460 .177 .230 123 1993 BAL 30 113 8 20 1 9 7 29 .230
7 Lenn Sakata .476 .191 .221 168 1984 BAL 81 157 23 30 3 11 6 15 .255
8 Sam Bowens .495 .163 .199 222 1965 BAL 84 203 16 33 7 20 10 41 .296
9 Geronimo Gil .532 .192 .220 134 2005 BAL 64 125 7 24 4 17 5 23 .312
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/23/2016.

There's Gil, who was terrible in 2005 but not quite as bad as the rest of the group. And there's Freddie Bynum, who joins Gil and Joseph as the only other player in the 2000s. Joseph slides into the No. 2 spot on the list, and he also has the lowest slugging percentage of all nine players. Not only could Joseph end up at the very top (or bottom) of this list, but he could complete the season without driving in a single run. That's... insanely difficult to do.

Catcher is a demanding position; there's no arguing that. So it's not surprising that generally teams' worst offensive options get stuck there. For example, the league average shortstop in 2016 has a wRC+ of 93. That's second lowest (not counting pitchers), above catcher at 87. Caleb Joseph, meanwhile, has a wRC+ of 9 -- the very worst in all of baseball (min. 100 PAs).

It's been a painful year for Joseph, both at the plate and behind it. He still has a very good and accurate arm and is an above average pitch framer, but if he's even close to this bad offensively again, he might not find himself in the majors for much longer.

Cup of Oh nO's: Thoughts on Steve Clevenger's Racist Charlotte Tweets

After a gruesome four game misery fest against the Red Sox at home, it is often a good time to disengage for a bit and think about other things.  Those other things tend not to be charged up issues like the question over the lingering presence of racism in this country.  But, sorry guys, this is about race relations.  It is everyone's favorite subject where we typically discuss the feelings of white people and the life and death issues of black people on a one-to-one comparison.  Yay.  Hopefully this unedited rambling is coherent.

This current thought was spurned a little bit by former Orioles Steve Clevenger's comments on Twitter and some Facebook entry screen captures from his account that have been making the local blog rounds.  It is obvious that Clevenger's tweets were not a case of beer rabbit hole adventure with a cell phone too close by.  It appears that these thoughts are long lingering thoughts and, lets be frank, these are very common thoughts in society.

The general idea is that once the very unpopular Martin Luther King Jr. (In 1966, two thirds of America did not like him and, guess what, an overwhelming amount of that dislike came from white people--not all of us have a father who walked in Washington and other locales) had his ideas become more manifest in the Civil Rights Act that the hundreds of years of active oppression came to an end and brought in a new era of black entitlement.  This is much more feeling than fact and Clevenger is someone who seems to fall in line with this thinking if the Facebook entries are accurate.

In one of the captures, Clevenger rants about "Obama phones".  This is the mistaken belief that somehow President Obama took office and then began handing out free cell phones to black people.  This is a very commonly thought idea.  In fact, this was a program that began under Ronald Reagan's oversight by the FCC in 1984.  It is called the Lifeline Program and its intent is to subsidize phone use for poorer communities because communication is vital and is often one of the first services that the poor go without when finances start getting beyond tight.  The Lifeline Program expanded to cell phone use during the second Bush administration.  The program is open not just to welfare recipients, but for anyone who is on a social program like Medicaid.  Furthermore, it is paid through FCC fees as opposed to general taxes.

I have no interest in going through all of the minutia of false issues laid at President Obama, but simply to show how an obviously wrong idea becomes a detail in a greater narrative.  That narrative as expressed in Clevenger's tweets and alleged Facebook posts show a dehumanization of black people as well as a desire to ignore any institutionalized racism.  In one alleged Facebook post, he claims that Black Lives Matter is a racist group on par with the Ku Klux Klan.  And this might be where things get sticky in the mind of Steve Clevenger and this is conjecture.

I imagine it is true that when he says he would be appalled if someone thought him to be racist.  He almost assuredly does not see himself as a racist, but more someone who is a speaker of truths.  From his perspective, some blacks take advantage of weak liberals and mooch off the system.  In his alleged post, he calls liberals who empathize with Black Lives Matter as trash and a problem.  And perhaps this is where we get to Charlotte.

Black Lives Matter is not racist.  Black Lives Matter is coined that because of the perspective they have that their lives are not being viewed as equal to white lives.  It is not about Black Supremacy, which is what the KKK is.  It is a false comparison.  Facts are mushy because we tend not to spend money to evaluate programs, particularly programs that judge the government, but it is pretty certain that police activity has racial bias.  This has been studied to a great degree.  Being black (when controlled for neighborhood, income, etc.) means you will be stopped more frequently by police than if you are white.  Beyond that nugget, things get more complicated.  But that kernel is not really deniable and people should look at this issue with an open mind and show an open heart for people who think America has chosen that they as a people, as a product of their skin, are not considered equal citizens in America.

Maybe Clevenger is racist, maybe he is not.  Maybe Clevenger is classist, maybe he is not.  Clevenger did express racist thought and his alleged writing combines that racist thought with classism.  Words like racist and other classifications are often too broadly applied.  The reality is that we all are prejudiced to some degree.  It is a product of how our brain works and it is how we deal with anxiety about unfamiliar situations.  Where the problem comes in is when you shut off your ability to process logic and fully embrace your prejudice without challenge.  Racism is not the issue, really.  What is the issue is the acceptance of racism.

That acceptance of racism is what has brought about such horrible terms from the past as "Good German" in reference to those who went along with the Nazi Party because it personally did not impact them.  A society, a great society, is one that is cognizant of those most vulnerable and is concerned with their well being.  A great society is one that will listen to those who scream of oppression and, with an open mind, try to find resolution.

Over the past several years, I have found that people settle on an idea and then supplement that idea with a foundation that is in agreement without trying to figure out if their newly found foundation is actually true.  People often connect the worst aspects of this cry to justice with Black Lives Matter without the self awareness of how they would appear if they were defined by the worst turned events produced by white people.  Blacks have experienced this for centuries, this double standard.  Muslims experience this here, too.  Hispanics experience it.  Most of our forefathers experienced it when they emerged from cramped ships full of lice to settle down in cramped Nationalized urban centers full of dismay.

I do not comprehend this lack of empathy.  Regardless of what you think the solution is, people are calling out for help and evidence gives credence to their call.  If your response to these people is to call them animals, think hard about what that says about you.

22 September 2016

Orioles Don't Have Many Options To Jump-Start Stagnant Offense

If you want to write off the Orioles, go ahead. They've lost three straight games at home to the Red Sox, and they're currently clinging to a one-game lead over the Tigers and Astros for the second wild card slot. The Mariners (two games) and Yankees (two-and-a-half games) aren't far behind. Really, they've been up and down for much of the season.

Some people dismissed the O's chances of contending before the season, when they failed to reel in Dexter Fowler and didn't do a whole lot to address their pitching staff. Many wrote off their chances of reaching the playoffs when Chris Tillman was placed on the disabled list in August and it was unclear if he'd pitch again this season. O's starters, while scary to watch at times, have mostly held up their end of the bargain since, or at least provided what could have reasonably been expected. Much of the credit goes to Kevin Gausman, the O's best starting pitcher, and Ubaldo Jimenez, who is on a current run of being adequate (no small feat).

Instead, the offense has been the club's main problem since the all-star break. And unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be much Buck Showalter can do about it with so little time left in the season.

The Orioles are built on power and don't have much speed or on-base abilities, so it's not like they can start deploying an efficient small-ball or contact-oriented attack overnight (even if you think it would help). In fact, the O's only have two players with on-base percentages over .350: Hyun Soo Kim (.381) and Manny Machado (.351). And Kim and J.J. Hardy are the only regulars who have struck out less than 15% of the time. The Orioles have some very good power hitters, but as I noted yesterday, the O's are only American League team with a collective OBP under .300 in the second half. A huge drop-off in batting average on balls in play has also contributed to a lack of runs.

Clearly the O's need more wins, in a hurry. And they must score more runs in their remaining 10 games. But how can they turn things around? I could only think of a couple minor solutions to get the O's out of their current funk. There's really no panacea, though, and if more hits don't start dropping in or clearing the fence, the O's are in serious trouble.

Juggle the batting order

Making major lineup changes is usually a desperate move, but perhaps that's required in this situation (even if lineup construction does not move the needle much in terms of run expectancy). The O's aren't getting on base. They've scored two runs or fewer in their past five games, and they haven't scored more than six runs in a game since September 10. Holding the Red Sox to five runs each in three straight games should at least keep the O's competitive enough, but that hasn't been the case. Getting held down by David Price is one thing. But the current version of Clay Buchholz? Yikes.

So how about this: Move Adam Jones out of the leadoff spot. He's been useful there overall this season (117 wRC+), but he's still miscast in that role because he does not get on base enough. The Orioles have a better option to use there: Kim. The following lineup is intriguing vs. right-handed pitching:

Kim, Machado, Alvarez, Jones, Davis, Trumbo, Schoop, Wieters, Hardy

Kim has been the Orioles' best OBP weapon, and there's certainly been nothing wrong with using him out of the No. 2 spot. But it'd give the lineup a different look, plus Machado should be batting second anyway.

I'd also bump up Alvarez to either third or fourth -- I tried to go with alternating right- and left-handed batters, as Showalter is wont to do. Not only does Alvarez mash right-handed pitching, but he's been the O's best hitter in the second half (in limited duty, to be fair). You can either have Jones in the cleanup spot or sixth, with Davis (who for a chunk of the season has been dealing with a sore left hand, which visibly affects his swing) sandwiched between them.

Things get trickier against left-handed pitching. Kim doesn't play against lefties and has not been effective in limited duty. He should probably still get more of a chance against them, but there are worse things than having an effective platoon bat. For a lineup with several powerful right-handed bats, many of them do not perform well against southpaws. That's one reason why the O's acquired Steve Pearce, and losing him for the rest of the season stings. Many O's are having terrible statistical seasons against lefties, and it's not like Joey Rickard is walking through that door (with a healthy thumb, at least). One possible option against lefties could be...

Give Trey Mancini a chance

Who wouldn't like to see a few more home runs from Trey Mancini? He can't possibly top the thrill of his first major league homer, but he could try. Mancini is probably limited to DH duties unless the O's want to give Davis a breather, but he could be an option in lineups against lefty starters. That means Mark Trumbo would have to be in right field more than the O's would like, but that might have to be a necessary risk to score some extra runs.

Who else on the O's bench would you really want to see more of? Michael Bourn is really the only option, mainly because he's usually decent against right-handed pitching (though not this year) and he's preferable defensively to the O's uninspired options. There's not much that's exciting about Nolan Reimold, Drew Stubbs, or Ryan Flaherty. Mancini should get a shot, and I wouldn't be surprised to see his name in the lineup against Price tonight.

Bunt more to beat the shift

This is typically something fans harp on, as if it's incredibly easy to do. Surprise: It's not! When it works, it looks fantastic and it's easy to wonder why more power hitters don't do it. And yet, when it doesn't work, it looks horrible and gives the opposition a free out.

There's no debating that the Orioles need more baserunners, and it's not the worst idea to do whatever it takes to get on base. But what the O's need even less of is to give away outs in opportunities to hit the ball a long way.

More sacrifice bunts and small ball

No thanks.


That's really it. The Orioles were supposed to have one of the three or four best offenses in the AL, and right now they rank sixth in runs scored. And whether some people find this team's offensive attack aesthetically displeasing or believe contact-lacking lineups are always doomed to fail in the playoffs, the O's offense is supposed to be better than this.

Many of the batters who hit well in the first half are going to have to start producing again, or the O's could very well find themselves home during the postseason.

20 September 2016

O's Need More From Struggling Offense In Remaining 12 Games

You don't have to be a great pitcher to accomplish what Rick Porcello did last night, but it doesn't hurt. In case you missed it, Porcello quickly navigated his way through the Orioles' lineup over nine innings, allowing just four hits and two runs and needing only 89 pitches to do so.

Since 2010, a nine-inning complete game in 90 pitches or fewer has only been done 13 other times. Porcello is the only pitcher to do it this year, and only Jeff Samardzija accomplished it in 2015.

It's not all that surprising that such a thing would happen against an offense like the Orioles. The O's have an above-average offense, but it relies primarily on power and not so much on patience and on-base percentage. The Orioles rank second in the American League in slugging percentage, but they're just 10th in on-base percentage. O's batters also collectively rank third in O-Swing% (swinging at pitches outside the strikezone). Again, that's not stunning for a team that employs Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop. They're fine hitters, but they are not overly concerned with working the count.

Overall, the O's rank sixth in the AL in runs scored. That's good, but not great. And several of the O's offensive players have been treading water in the second half. The only offensive regular with a wRC+ over 105 in the second half is Manny Machado (121). Pedro Alvarez, a part-time player, is at 130. Besides them, Adam Jones (105), Chris Davis (103), J.J. Hardy (101), and Steve Pearce (98, pre-injury) are all around league average. Hyun Soo Kim (93) isn't far behind.

However, Mark Trumbo (82 wRC+, and a .181 BABIP) has taken a U-turn, while Matt Wieters (69), Schoop (65), Nolan Reimold (42), and Caleb Joseph (19) have all been bad at the dish. Drew Stubbs hasn't hit at all since joining the O's and was primarily added for his glove, while Michael Bourn has hit fine (with two early, surprising home runs propping up his numbers).

With the O's offense ranking just 10th in the AL in runs scored in the second half, perhaps it's not all that shocking that Buck Showalter has opted to get Bourn and Stubbs out there more at the expense of extra at-bats for Kim and Alvarez (since whenever Trumbo is at DH, it bumps Alvarez to the bench). But while the O's are in a good position -- tied with the Blue Jays for the top wild card slot -- a struggling offense down the stretch could make things uncomfortable.

15 September 2016

Afternoon Cup of jO's: Mark Trumbo Has the Worst 42 HR Season Ever

In this history of MLB, there have been 228 seasons where a player has hit at least 42 home runs.  Many of those seasons have come in seasons where league wide offense was greater than it has been this year.  Anyway, out of all of those seasons, Mark Trumbo's 2016 campaign comes in as the worst according to bWAR.

Ten Worst 42+ HR Seasons
Rk Player WAR/pos HR Year
1 Mark Trumbo 1.2 42 2016
2 Jose Canseco 1.5 46 1998
3 Ryan Howard 1.8 48 2008
4 Dick Stuart 1.9 42 1963
5 Gus Zernial 2.3 42 1953
6 Tony Armas 2.6 43 1984
7 Juan Gonzalez 2.7 42 1997
8 Richie Sexson 2.8 45 2001
9 Harmon Killebrew 2.8 48 1962
10 Ryan Howard 2.9 47 2007
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/15/2016.

With 17 games left, Trumbo is on track to finish below Canseco's mark of 1.5 bWAR.  With a little luck, he could maybe edge in front of Dick Stuart's 1.9 mark.  Anyway, the two main things that have depressed Trumbo's value has been his horrid play in the outfield and how he hits.  If he had performed at league average out there, he would be just behind Gus Zernial and be 225th out of 228.  The second thing is that the second half this year has been where he either hits a moon shot, walks, or sits on the bench...and he does not walk much.

Performance Scouting: 2016 Frederick Keys Position Players

Yesterday, we took a quick look at Delmarva's position players who logged more than 180 PA.  Today we take a peak at Frederick's.

>180 PA
Aderlin Rodriguez 24 .304 .359 .532 119
Erick Salcedo 23 .270 .319 .369 96
Jomar Reyes 19 .228 .271 .336 83
Cam Kneeland 26 .245 .339 .428 105
Steve Wilkerson 24 .251 .334 .343 96
Wynston Sawyer 24 .281 .421 .462 124
Josh Hart 21 .223 .282 .320 84
Jay Gonzalez 24 .253 .354 .339 100
Conor Bierfeldt 25 .264 .336 .547 116
DJ Stewart 22 .279 .389 .448 117
Austin Wynns 25 .303 .351 .436 108

Frederick comes at you with the concepts of lowered expectations and a general overlooking of positional adjustments.  What I mean by that is that Frederick is a much kinder hitting environment than Delmarva.  It can have the effect of making a player look like they are progressing or even exploding onto the scene when either they are treading water or perhaps have merely shown a modest improvement.

DJ Stewart, yesterday's gem is also today's gem.  In the Carolina League, Stewart (22) is playing in line with his age.  Speaking to the ill of the organizational health, only he, Josh Hart, and Jomar Reyes logged significant innings at Frederick on or below league average age.  That is one of the reasons why you hear incessantly from scouts how appalling this system is.  The low minors are stocked with long standing organizational players or retreads from other organizations.

Anyway, Stewart went from a 230/366/352 line in Delmarva to a 279/389/448 line in Frederick.  This display was better than what most people thought would happen.  Most feared that Stewart's wait and see, no contact approach would eat him up in the Carolina League.  Instead, his performance showed an increase primarily driven by an increase in batting average.  That pokes up a red flag.  Digging into BABIP, his Delmarva mark was .325 (roughly league average) and his Frederick mark was .376 (well above league average).  Combine that question about the sustainability of his new found contact is that him performing about 17% above average offensively in the Carolina League is exactly what you would expect the average Carolina League corner outfielder to hit.

With that in mind, a lot of Stewart's shine wears off.  It then makes more sense why the scouts I talk to are still highly suspicious of Stewart.  It is explained that his increased performance is due to a different approach he takes when going after sub-level pitching and that he simply waits out on level or above pitching.  I do not know how to take that comment as it is a go to for scouts to explain why they dislike a player.  It may well be accurate, but it is too soft of a statement for me.  For me, I simply think that Stewart looked like a miserable miss and now he looks like a potential fringe bat corner outfielder.  That is a modest improvement for the future of the organization, but a notable one for Stewart.

Jomar Reyes was the dream of many prospect-philes the past couple years.  He was young and performing well against much older competition.  Reyes was also a rarity, a product of the Orioles almost non-existent international amateur program.  Last year, some concerns began to emerge though.  He was beginning to fill out and it became quickly understood that he would need to leave the hot corner by the time he reaches the upper minors.  That was a disappointment, but not much of one with his offensive performance. 

What was more of a concern was that right handers were eating up the right handed Reyes while he feasted on left handed pitching.  The concern of a weak sided platoon bat without a position outside of first base or designated hitter is a major concern.  Still, he handled left handers with such ease in Delmarva that it made sense to push him up to Frederick. 

Topping off the year though was a broken hamate bone.  If you remember back to Nick Markakis' broken hamate bone, we all heard a lot about how broken hamates have a lingering effect on power that eventually resolves itself.  It is a baseball myth.  There is no evidence that hamate breaks have that sort of impact on power.  With time, people saw for Markakis that his power outage was simply the natural decline of his skillset as opposed to being related to his hamate.  Likewise, few had concerns that Reyes hamate would result in a lingering decrease in power for 2016.

Sure enough, Reyes came out with a strong bat in April with an ISO of .170, which is impressive for a 19 year old in HiA ball.  And that is about the only positive thing to say about his year, that month of ISO.  He continues to look quite out of place at third base.  He still is eaten up by right handers and he was roughly league average against left handed pitching, which is not good for a platoon bat.  He still is young though and another year at Frederick would make sense for his development.  However, we might be seeing him at first base in 2017 with Aderlin Rodriguez vacating the position there to take it up in Bowie.

Aderlin Rodriguez is 24.  He is a long standing farmhand, given up on by the Mets and the Mariners.  Frederick was his fourth season playing in HiA ball.  All three before came with the Mets.  In 2015, Rodriguez was in AA for the Mets and was performing about league average, but with rather poor peripherals.  They released him. Within a week, the Mariners picked him up to play AA ball and he was awful.  This year, his 80 raw power played up decently and he was a quite dependable for the Keys.  However, it really was not a dominant performance.  It was about 19% better than league average, which is right on par with what one would want out of a first baseman.  Being two years older than his average competition, that rubs some shine off.  Yes, 80 raw power, but being an old guy in your fourth trip round this circuit...it leaves one wanting to see more.

14 September 2016

Performance Scouting: 2016 Delmarva Shorebirds Position Players

Numbers are generally guides as opposed to exact definitions.  This series of brief posts will simply introduce you to the performance of the players at each level and provide a context measure of offensive production.  Then, I will write a few words about some of the more interesting players, which is difficult because time and time again I have been told by scouts that this system is a boring one to be assigned to assess.  Anyway, first up is the Delmarva Shorebirds.

>180 PA
Cedric Mullins 21 .273 .321 .464 109
Alex Murphy 21 .252 .335 .423 108
Ryan Mouncastle 19 .281 .319 .426 105
Ricardo Andujar 23 .251 .301 .319 91
Yermin Mercedes 23 .353 .411 .579 138
Ademar Rifaela 21 .239 .297 .420 100
Steve Laurino 23 .188 .286 .267 83
Natanael Delgado 20 .250 .305 .375 97
Drew Turbin 23 .211 .313 .312 93
Gerrion Grim 22 .193 .256 .318 82
DJ Stewart 22 .230 .366 .352 108
Austin Anderson 24 .249 .307 .370 97
Randolph Gassaway 21 .330 .372 .511 124

The biggest elephant in the room is corner outfielder D.J. Stewart.  He was selected in the 2015 draft and was thought of as a rather advanced hitter.  Picking up a player toward the end of the first round, you expect there to be some red flags and Stewart had those.  Many scouts who watched him play for Team USA found that his swing was a mess when using a wooden bat.  He simply could not square up on pitches.  Last summer, Stewart looked to prove those scouts right with a rather wretched time spent in Aberdeen.

Stewart spent half of the year this season in Delmarva and was drawing the same reviews.  The word was that he was highly cautious in his at bats and was taking advantage of poor pitching to earn walks and drive mistakes pitches left too high in the zone.  Still, he was not doing much with those mistake pitches.  Word was that the organization was highly confused with Stewart and promoted him to Frederick to force him to sink or swim against pitchers who could actually hit the strike zone.  That move seemed to work out, but a rather sizable clouds still looms over Stewart.  If he is a player who needs better competition to show himself, it begs the question why a drive for self improvement did not show up at Delmarva or Aberdeen.

Yermin Mercedes is another interesting player who has received a lot of fanfare.  At 23, he was an elder statesman in Delmarva.  Long ago, he was an international free agent signing with the Washington Nationals.  He showed a decent arm, poor defense, and a middling bat.  For whatever reason, the Nats dropped him and Mercedes went to Indy ball where he tore the place up.  The Orioles signed him out of the Pecos League and have tried to make a catcher out of him.  His tools behind the plate remain quite questionable and the Orioles have been giving him looks in the outfield.  At his age, you also question the reality of his bat.  Next year, he will likely see Bowie and that might provide a better understanding of how advanced he really is.

Cedric Mullins is a SWINO (Switch Hitter in Name Only). He rakes right handers and a left handed bat and becomes flummoxed by southpaws (115/90).  He profiles as a backup centerfielder, but does not have the size/strength to be expected to show well in left field.  With decent, speed, contact, and gap strength, we should see him progress steadily through the minors.  I imagine he might be ready for a 4th or 5th outfielder role in 2019 or 2020.