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Tuesday 20th Feb 2018

A week away from the transactions, and I feel like there is an entire obituary page full of major ones, the latest being the dumping of Manny Ramirez (no surprise), Delmon Young (kind of a surprise) and Mark Reynolds, unceremoniously grabbed by the ever desperate seeming Yankees, and for whom he homered his first game in pinstripes.

However, these moves should not surprise any of us as the trend towards accelerating the path of prospects increases, while the push towards lowering payroll and building around youth continues.

That said, a number of advancements and performances caught my eye as I reviewed the boxes and transactions.

I actually saw Jake Arrieta's second Major League start, against the Giants at ATT, in June of 2010, and he did not impress me that much, and though the right-hander continued in the Orioles' rotation, his 48 walks to 52 strikeouts over 101.1 innings (106 hits) confirmed my suspicions of the then 24-year- old. In fact, Arrieta, who was a fifth-round pick by Baltimore in 2007, managed a 1.472 WHIP over 368 innings with the Orioles, and that was enough for them to swap him to the Cubs this year as part of the Scott Feldman deal.

Although, Arrieta did seriously improve his power numbers last year, as despite his 3-9, 6.20 ERA, he punched out 109 over 114 innings (35 walks and a much improved 1.369 WHIP), something that must have caught Theo Epstein's eye. Arrieta made seven starts for Iowa (2-2, 3.56) whiffing 39 over 30.1 innings, though he again had some trouble with free passes (16 to 32 hits). Still, he's handled the move back to the Majors well so far, going 1-0, 0.69, over a pair of starts and 13.1 innings (nine strikeouts, five walks, four hits).

The Royals drafted southpaw Danny Duffy in 2007 as well, though out of Cabrillo High School, in Lompoc, California, in the third round, and much was anticipated with the prodigy as Kansas City selected Duffy as part of their rebuilding process that is finally coming to fruition. Duffy, who debuted in 2011 at Kauffman, struggled as we would expect a 22-year-old, and by 2012 Duffy found himself needing Tommy John surgery.

However, the lefty has worked his way back, and ideally learned some things with experience--and his arm issues--that indicate Duffy might be a higher profile track than Arrieta. Duffy punched out 79 batters over 64 minor league innings, though seven homers and 29 walks do merit our watching. However, over his two starts in the Majors this year, Duffy is 1-0, 1.86 over 9.2 innings, with 14 strikeouts, and more to the point, he outdueled Justin Verlander last week in what could be a pivotal start in confidence all the way around. 

Anthony Gose is back in the Show after posting .239-3-27 totals at Triple-A Buffalo. Gose, still just 22 years old, has shown terrific defense (67 minor league assists) and speed (250 swipes) over his six minor league seasons. Furthermore, Gose has shown flashes of power (16 homers for Double-A New Hampshire in 2011), but he is a terrible free-swinger with 230 walks to 630 minor league strikeouts, something that must be corrected. 

Still, Houston thought enough of Gose to acquire him along with Jonathan Villar and J.A. Happ for Roy Oswalt, before trading him to Toronto shortly thereafter for Brett Wallace. I have my doubts as to whether Gose will learn the strike zone, but I also think giving him regular time in the Majors is surely the way to find out if he can learn at the highest level.

The thing with all three of these players is that they have been on our radar for a few years now, and probably all held roster or reserve spots for the bulk of us. And, due to injuries and struggles adjusting to the Majors, most owners are probably dismissive of one or all three of them. And, especially as the season nears an end, and we plan for the future, any--especially Duffy in my view--are worth hiding on your reserve list (especially since the Royals are playing yo-yo with Duffy the past few weeks).

St. Louis promoted their 2011 first-round pick, Kolten Wong, who was first drafted by the Twins in 2008 out of Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, but Wong opted for the University of Hawaii instead, and the Cards selected him as early as possible, as soon as eligible. Wong has a fine minor league resume of .301-24-122 over 280 games, with 16 triples, 50 swipes, and an excellent 106 walks to 158 strikeouts (.365 OBP).

Make no mistake, the Cards are very good at drafting players, be they pitchers or hitters, and their current roster more than supports this. Wong is a second sacker, but with Matt Carpenter able to play third, the good but brittle David Freese is very likely on the bubble. Wong was hitting .303-10-45 this year at Memphis before being called up, and I would not be a bit surprised to see him grab the keystone slot and not let go.

I will close this week with a look at Andrew Lambo, another member of the Class of 2007, drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round out of Newbury Park High, in Southern California. The Dodgers swapped Lambo in 2010 to the Bucs along with James McDonald (for Octavio Dotel, and don't ask me what they were thinking), and the outfielder then wound up being suspended for 50 games in 2010 after testing positive for a "banned substance" (it was listed as drug abuse, whatever that might mean).

Still, Lambo, who was brought up and then sent back down this past week, has a .284-31-97 line split between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis with a .926 OPS. Lambo does have only 240 walks to 571 strikeouts, which is of some concern, but he is still just 24 years of age, and the Pirates have obviously been doing some things very right with trades and prospects the last couple of years. Lambo, as with his mates in today's Hotpage, merit our tracking as the season winds down and we begin thinking about 2014.

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