It sure is an exciting time in Pipeline world, isn't it?
Thursday marks the start of this year's international signing period. That's when teams hope that perhaps they are finding the next Miguel Sano, who is the latest in a very long line of top-level prospects to get called up in 2015. Or perhaps they'll acquire a member of the World Team for the Futures Game (coming up on July 12) down the road.
This is all on the Pipeline plate these days, along with Draft signings continuing to trickle in. Needless to say, there were plenty of excellent questions sent in for this week's edition of the Pipeline Inbox.
How do you assess Tyler Beede's performance this year with focusing on pitching to contact?
- Wrenzie R., Philippines
What are your thoughts on Beede's progress this season, how he's doing, what he could improve on?
- OGC, Silicon Valley, Calif.
I got two questions about Beede, so I figured I better answer. Plus, he's a Futures Game participant, so it made even more sense.
It's hard to argue with anything Beede has done so far. The Giants' No. 3 prospect was their first-round pick in 2014, taken No. 14 overall, and he made his full-season debut up in the Class A Advanced California League. After nine starts that saw him post a 2.24 ERA, he earned a bump up to Double-A. His first start at that level saw him throw seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits, giving him a stretch of three starts spanning 20 innings where he didn't allow a run.
There are bound to be adjustments that need to be made upon a promotion like this, and Beede has had two tough starts among his five. But in the other three, he's allowed just three earned runs on 12 hits over 20 innings. He has indeed succeeded in pitching to contact, as evidenced by his impressive 2.17 ground-out-to-air-out ratio this season. He mostly hasn't hurt himself with walks, either. At some point, it might be good to see Beede miss more bats, and he has the pure stuff to post a better than six K/9 ratio that he has to date (he struck out 10.8 per nine during his summer debut in 2014). Other than that, he just needs to keep doing what he's been doing.
What are your expectations for Jesse Winker and Bradley Zimmer when they get to the bigs?
- Jonathan G., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Zimmer is a Futures Gamer this year. Winker played in the game in Minnesota a year ago, just to keep with the theme. Both have the chance to make an impact at bat once they get to the big leagues.
Despite a slow start to his 2015 season, I still think Winker, our No. 20 overall prospect, is one of the better pure hitters in the Minors. After struggling through April and May, Winker started showing what he's capable of in June, hitting .321/.408/.476 in 23 games. That's much more in line with his career .290/.395/.466 performance. Winker hits for average, he gets on base, doesn't strike out much, and his extra-base gap power should turn into more over-the-fence-type pop as he matures. Keep in mind, he's still only 21 years old. Once he gets to the big leagues, I expect him to eventually be among the league leaders in batting average, while providing 20 homers per year.
Zimmer, the Indians' top pick in the 2014 Draft who is currently ranked No. 91 on our Top 100, is more athletic than Winker. He, too, has shown the ability to hit for average, with a .302 mark during his full-season debut in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. He has some pop, with 10 homers (tied for second in his league), and a .498 slugging percentage. His .400 OBP shows he's got a solid approach at the plate. What separates him from Winker is his speed. Zimmer's 29 steals leads his league. He's played some center field and fits well into right, while Winker is probably a left fielder going forward. Both should hit, and thanks to their advanced approaches, contribute immediately upon arrival.
Do the Tigers miss out on Nicholas Shumpert with A.J. Simcox's big deal?
- Lee M., Plainwell, Mich.
It's time to play the game sweeping the nation: Fun with bonus pool math! Here's where things stand with the Tigers:
Entering the Draft, the Tigers had a bonus pool of $7,114,300. To date, they have spent $6,904,200. They saved $580,700 on senior signs in the fourth, eighth, ninth and tenth rounds. Most of that savings went toward offsetting the bonus given to Simcox, who received $600,000 in the 14th round. Anything over $100,000 goes toward the pool, so that signing did take $500,000 away from that total.
For the Tigers to have no overage, that means they'd have to get Shumpert to agree to a bonus of $210,100, which is more than the $179,500 assigned to pick No. 220. There is some wiggle room, of course. The Tigers could go over their pool by up to five percent, and pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. Going over five percent, and up to 10 percent, would cost the organization a first round pick and a 75 percent tax. Going above 10 percent and up to 15 percent would cost a first and second rounder -- plus 100 percent tax on the overage. Anything over 15 percent results in a loss of two first-round picks, and 100 percent tax penalty.
No team has gone enough over its pool total to lose Draft picks to date, and I wouldn't expect the Tigers to be the first to sign Shumpert. But if they wanted to fall in that up-to-five-percent category, they could sign Shumpert for as much as $565,815 (putting them exactly five percent over that $7.1-plus million pool total), which would give them a 75 percent tax on that overage.
The Tigers are hopeful they can still get something done, but it remains to be seen if Shumpert will sign by the July 17 deadline, or decide to honor his commitment to Kentucky.
How does Miguel Sano fit in the Twins' plans in 2015 with Trevor Plouffe at third and Joe Mauer at first?
- Allan D., Hartland, Wis.
Some of this has already been answered, but it felt fitting to end with a Sano question. The original question asked if Sano fits in the Twins plans, with Plouffe at third, and Kennys Vargas /Joe Mauer at first. Vargas being optioned to Triple-A took care of one roadblock. It's looking like Plouffe will continue to play third every day, and Mauer will play first regularly, leaving DH duties to Sano. He is not expected to play in the field much, if at all, at least in the short-term. Since moving from shortstop to third very early in his pro career, he's never really played anyplace else defensively. Designated hitter appears to be his role for the time being.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayo on Twitter.