BT&T 2018                                                                                                                  

Welcome to this year’s edition of BT&T as we preview the 2018 ZSABL season. Starting pitching or the lack thereof was the most talked about position in the off season. Teams struggled just to put a rotation together via a trade or the draft. There simply was not enough quality starters available. It could possibly be the  first time in many a season that a “D” rated starter will be penciled in to start a game. Once again many teams will rely heavily on their bullpen to give them a winning edge.  

As always relief pitchers are not rated.

 The Western Division


Round                  Position               Player                                 PIP Grade                                                                       

1                            P                            Zack Godley                       3.5                                                                                   

2                            SS                          Fernando Tatis UC            3.4                                                                                   

3                            P                            Jordan Montgomery        3.0                                                                                   

4                            2B                         Scott Kingery UC               3.3                                                                                   

5                            P                            Luis Gohara                        3.2                                                                                   

6                            P                            Sam Freeman                    X                                                                                       

7                            P                            Brandon Workman           X                                                                                       

8                            P                            Kyle Freeland                     3.0                                                                                   

9                            OF                         Dustin Fowler                    3.1                                                                                   

10                          Inf                         Pat Valaika                         3.2                                                                                   

11                          P                            Andrew Moore                  3.1

13                          INF                        Tommy La Stella               3.2                                      

The sale of the Penscacola Pirhanna to minority owner George Zangari was officially completed during the off season and the franchise moved to Billings Montana and are now the “Mustang”.  In the first round Billings drafted starting pitcher Zack Godley (B) he’ll be counted on to bolster the top half of the starting rotation. They drafted the best shortstop prospect in baseball by selecting Fernando Tatis Jr in the second round. In the third round they selected starting pitcher Jordan Mongomery (C) to help fill out the rotation. Next came another highly regarded prospect second baseman Scott Kingery. A Tatis -Kingrey duo could be one of the best infield combinations in the near future and a mainstay in Billings for years to come. Pitching   prospect Luis Gohara (DZ) who got a taste of the big show this past season was selected in the fifth round and is highly rated. A couple of relief pitchers were selected in the next two rounds followed by starting pitcher Kyle Freeman (C) in the 8th the final piece to their starting rotation. Outfield prospect Dustin Flower was drafted in the 9th and should have a nice up side if he gets the starting gig in Oakland. Utility players are a big part of any ZSABL roster and in the 10th round they selected infielder Pat Valaika (.817OPS). Pitching prospect Andrew Moore (DZ) was drafted in the 11th round and like Gohara, Moore was given a taste of the big show last year. They ended their draft by selecting infielder Tommy LaStella (.861OPS) with limited at bats but enough to provide a good bat off the bench as well as help in the field. The Mustang did an admirable job putting a starting rotation together but was unable to bolster their bullpen.  The offense of Davis, Encarnacion and Gonzalez provide the pop. Kershaw (AZ) Godley (B) and Kuechl (B) make for a formidable starting rotation but the bullpen and the offense pales to others in the West. We look for the Mustang to finish in the middle of the pack. But a very strong draft bodes well for their future.

 PIP 3.20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Round                  Position               Player                                 PIP Grade                                                                       

1                            OF                         Ronald Acuna UC              3.5                                                                    

2                            OF                         Aaron Altherr                     3.2                                                                                   

3                            1B                         Matt Olson                         3.1                                                                                   

4                            P                            Brandon Morrow              X                                                                                       

5                            P                            Jake Junis                           3.1                                                                                   

6                            P                            Alex Meyer                         2.8                                                                                   

7                            P                            Josh Fields                          X                                                                                       

7                            OF                         Jake Marisnick                   3.2                                                                                   

8                            P                            Jose Ramirez                     X                                                                                       

8                            P                            Jose Urena (C)                   3.4                                                                                   

9                            P                            AJ Schugel                          X                                                                                       

10                          P                            Sean Newcomb                 2.9                                                                                   

11                          INF                        Eduardo Escobar              Released                                                                         

12                          P                            Kolby Allard UC                 3.2                                                                                   

14                          C                            Austin Hedges                    3.1

The Big Papi era is over. The Canes were hoping to make his last season one to remember but it was not to be as they lost their season final series and ended up in last place in the West. So a new era begins and with that their first selection of the 2018 draft outfielder Ronald Acuna. The number one rated prospect in all of baseball makes losing Papi a little easier to take for Hartford fans. In the second round they drafted another outfielder Aaron Altherr (.856OPS) and he immediately becomes the best offensive outfielder on the roster. Power hitting first baseman Matt Olson (1.003OPS) was selected in the 3rd round he has limited at bats but has a very nice upside. Relief help came in the 4th followed by starting pitcher Jake Junis (CZ) in the 5th round. Junis has limited innings as does their 6th round pick starting pitcher Alex Meyer (BW) who went under the knife in September. The 7th round brought more relief help along with outfielder Jake Marisnick (.815OPS) who will be the 4th outfielder on the 25 man roster. More pitching was selected in the 8th round with reliever Ramirez and starter Jose Urena (C) in that order. We like Urena’s upside. Relief in the 9th round was followed by starting pitcher Sean Newcomb (CW) in the 10th to put some more Band-Aids on the pitching staff. They selected infielder Escobar in the 11th round only to release him by the end of the draft. Pitching prospect Kolby Allard was selected in the 12th round a highly touted prospect in the Atlanta Braves system. They ended their draft with catcher Austin Hedges he has a great glove and has recently changed his hitting mechanics with great results this spring. We would have released Bautista and Duda for a couple of prospects but this was a very nice draft for the Hurricanes. There is plenty of pop on offense led by Turner, Murphy and Bour but only one (B) starting pitcher in Robbie Ray. Hartford  sports the second highest OPS in the division but the pitching staff pales in comparison to other teams in the West. The dice were not very kind to the Hurricanes last year so if they wish to compete they will need to turn the tide in that regard. The future looks bright for the Hurricanes but a middle of the pack finish looks to be in   the cards for 2018.

PIP 3.15                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Round                  Postion                Player                                 PIP Grade                                                        

4                            P                            Sam Tuivailala                   X                                                                                       

4                            P                            Scott Alexander                X                                                                        

5                            P                            Cory Gearrin                      X                                                                                       

5                            3B                         Colin Moran                       3.1                                                                                   

6                            P                            Ryan Butcher                     X                                                                                       

7                            P                            Jack Flaherty                      3.2                                                                                   

8                            P                            Tyler Mahle                        3.3                                                                                   

9                            P                            Mike Soroka UC                3.1                                                                                   

10                          P                            Ross Stripling                     X                                                                                       

11                          P                            Mitch Keller UC                 3.2                                                                                   

12                          OF                         Taylor Trammel UC          Released                                                                         

16+                       2B                         Keston Uiura UC               3.2


Memphis came into the draft desperately needing relief pitching but not did not have a pick until the fourth round of the draft. At that point quality relief was sparse to say the least. With that being said, their first three picks were relievers. Third baseman Colin Moran was  selected in the 5th round and the Sound is hoping he can turn things around in Pittsburgh. More relief came in the 6th followed by starting pitching prospect Jack Flaherty (D) in round seven. The next two rounds brought pitching prospects as well in Tyler Mahle (B) and Mike Soroka in that order. Relief in the 10th was followed by another highly touted pitching prospect Mitch Keller in the 11th round. Taylor Trammel was selected in the 12th round but was subsequently released. They drafted second basemen Keston Uiura in the supplemental draft a highly touted prospect but he may not stick at second base. Memphis the defending Western Division Champions have one of the better starting rotation in the division and enough offense to  compete for a playoff spot. The Sound is led offensively by Arenado, Correa and Osuna. The  staff is led by deGrom (BZ) and Cobb (BZ) and the pen is adequate. It’s pretty much of a crap shoot in the West and the Sound should be right in the middle of it.

PIP 3.20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Round                  Position               Player                                 PIP Grade                                                                       

2                            p                            Mike Clevenger                 3.4                                                                                   

2                            P                            Tom Kahnle                        X                                                                                       

3                            P                            Jacob Faria                         3.2                                                                                   

4                            OF                         Austin Hays                        3.2                                                                                   

5                            1B                         Ryan Zimmerman             3.6                                                                                   

6                            P                            Brian Duensing                  X                                                                                       

7                            INF                        Ronald Torreyes               3.0                                                                                   

8                            P                            Max Fried                           3.0                                                                                   

9                            OF                         Ben Gamel                         3.2

Norfolk like most teams needed to improve their pitching staff. The Neptune’s started their draft in the second round with starting pitcher Mike Clevenger (B) followed by relief pitcher Tom Kahle in the same round. They drafted starting pitcher Jacob Faria (B) in the 3rd he has limited  innings so he will need to be used sparingly. Prospect outfielder Austin Hays (.555OPS) who saw limited MLB action last year was selected in the 4th round, he could end up with the starting gig in right field for the O’s. With open arms in the 5th they welcomed back long time Neptune Ryan Zimmerman (.930OPS). Their former first round pick back in 2006 who they released last year. Frankly, we were surprised that Zimmerman was still on the board. The Neptune’s continue to struggle to find a long term solution at the position. Relief help came in the 6th round followed by utility infielder Ronald Torreys (.689OPS) in the 7th. Pitching prospect Max Fried (C) was selected in the 8th round, he saw a little bit of the big show and has promise. With their final pick they selected outfielder Ben Gamel (.735OPS) adding depth to the position. No uncarded players on the Norfolk roster the first time in quite a few years.  Norfolk just missed out at a shot for the world championship losing to the Sound in a one game playoff last year. Offensively they are led by Judge, Blackmon and the newly acquired Zimmerman. The pitching staff has four (B) starters none have control. There is depth in the bullpen. The draft brought enough help to bolster the starting rotation and pen. The Neptune’s along with San Diego and Memphis should battle it out for the Western Division crown.

PIP 3.23                                                                          


San Diego

Round                  Position               Player                                 PIP Grade                                                                       

1                            OF                         Tommy Pham                    3.9                                                                                   

2                            P                            Anthony Swarzack            X                                                                                       

3                            P                            Adam Warren                    X                                                                                       

4                            P                            Paul Blackburn                  3.3                                                                                   

5                            P                            Trevor Hildenberger         X                                                                                       

6                            P                            Nick Goody                        X                                                                                       

7                            P                            Joe Smith                            X                                                                                       

8                            INF                        Wilmer Difo                       2.9                                                                                   

9                            3B                         Miguel Andujar                  3.3                                                                                   

10                          OF                         Carlos Gonzalez                2.8                                                                                   

11                          P                            Brad Boxberger                 X                                                                                       

12                          P                            Tyler Skaggs                       3.0                                                                                   

13                          2B                         Carlos Asuage                    3.1                                                                                   

14                          C                            Yan Gomes                         2.8                                                                                   

15                          P                            Nate Karns                         3.0

San Diego came in to the draft with a decent starting rotation but needed help in the bullpen. Six of their fifteen picks were relief pitchers ranging from A to B and all have control but one. The 76’ers with the 5th overall pick in the draft selected outfielder Tommy Pham (931OPS) giving them the outfielder they coveted. Relief help came in the second and third rounds followed by starting pitcher Paul Blackburn (BZ) in the 4th, he has limited innings. Three more relievers came in the next three rounds. In the 8th round they selected infielder Wilmer Difo (.689OPS) he’ll work out at the utility role. In the 9th round they drafted third baseman Miguel Andujar who could work his way onto the Yankee’s opening day roster. With the“Moose” still unsigned he could be one of their best picks of the draft. We like him. In the 10th round they drafted unsigned outfielder Carlos Gonzalez reminds us of last year’s Adam Wainwight selection by the Six’ers and we know how that turned out. More relief in the 11th was followed by starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (C) in the 12 round. It seems like he’s been around forever but he’s only 26 years old. He missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery. Infielder Carlos Asuge was drafted in the 13th round he’s having a nice spring and should be the starting second baseman for the Padres however, he doesn’t have much pop. Catcher Yan Gomes was drafted in the 14th round for defensive purposes as there is a lack of it on their 40 man roster. With their final pick of the draft they selected starting pitcher Nate Karns (CZ) a stopgap for this season. The offense is supplied by Altuve, Pham and Hosmer and all three of their starting outfielders are rated the best defensively. The starting rotation has Max Scherzer (AZ) along with three (B) starters with innings but no control. Blackburn and Karns will be asked to help fill out the rotation. The pen got plenty of help in the draft. San Diego just missed out for a playoff spot in the final weeks of the 2017 season but we don’t see that happening again this year.                 

PIP 3.12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Round                  Position               Player                                 PIP Grade

1                            P                            Gio Gonzalez                     3.4                                                                                   

2                            OF                         Chris Taylor                        3.5                                                                                   

3                            P                            Tommy Hunter                  X                                                                                       

4                            OF                         Steven Souza                     3.3                                                                                   

5                            P                            Jhoulys Chacin                   3.0                                                                                   

6                            1B                         Yuli Gurriel                         3.3                                                                                   

7                            P                            Emilio Pagan                      X                                                                                       

8                            P                            Jason Vargas                      3.0                                                                                   

9                            C                            Evan Gattis                         2.8                                                                                   

10                          P                            Jamie Garcia                      3.0                                                                                   

11                          C                            Manny Pina                        2.8                                                                                   

12                          OF                         Mike Mahtook                  2.9

Seattle needed help in both their starting rotation and offense. With their first selection the overall 7th pick of the draft they selected starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (B). In the second round they drafted Chris Taylor (.850OPS) he can play multiple positions but will be in the outfield for the Scouts. Relief in the 3rd round was followed by 4th round pick Steven Souza (.810OPS) Souza experienced a power surge this year. And they say the balls aren’t juiced! Seattle will be more than happy to plug him into their starting outfield. They selected starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (C) in the 5th round and he slides into the starting rotation. First baseman Yuli Gurriel (.817OPS) will play the corner position not much of a glove so you’ll see Mitch Morland getting his fair share of playing time as well. Jason Vargas (C) in the 8th round fills out the rotation. The Scout’s needed some help in the catching department so with their 9th and 11th picks they drafted Evan Gattis (.767OPS) and Manny Pina (.751OPS) neither of them being a long term solution at the position. In between them they selected starting pitcher Jamie Garcia (C) for added depth to the rotation. The offense is led by Cruz, Donaldson and Taylor the pitching staff by Gonzalez (B) and Happ (B) the latter one with limited innings. The bullpen has depth. The Scouts did an admirable job putting the 2018 team together. However, they are light in starting pitching as are most teams in the division but the added burden to outscore the other team maybe too much to ask of the offense. Look for the Scouts to finish in the lower tier of the division. The PBR’s will go down smooth and Woody luck is never too far behind so they will cause some havoc along the way.

PIP 3.10                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Round                  Position               Player                                 PIP Grade                                                                       

1                            1B                         Rhys Hoskins                      3.5                                                                                   

2                            SS                          Bo Bichette UC                 3.3                                                                                   

3                            P                            Luis M Castillo                   3.2                                                                                   

4                            P                            Daniel Mendgen                3.2                                                                                   

5                            C                            Chris Iannetta                    3.3                                                                                   

6                            P                            Like Weaver                       3.2                                                                                   

7                            P                            Andrew Streckenrider      X                                                                                       

8                            P                            German Marquez              3.0                                                                                   

9                            OF                         Luis Robert UC                  3.3                                                                                   

10                          P                            Miguel Castro                    X                                                                                       

11                          P                            Carl Edwards Jr                 X                                                                                       

12                          P                            Trevor Williams                 X                                                                                       

13                          C                            Keibert Ruiz UC                 3.1                                                                                   

14                          DH                         Jo Adell UC                        2.8                                                                                   

16+                       P                            Joe Musgrove                    2.8

Union Station threw caution to the wind as they took offensive positions with their first two picks and let the pitching fall where it may. With their first selection the number three overallpick they selected 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins (1.013OPS) he has limited at bats but enough to use as a pinch hitter and DH. The Cowboys would like to see him stay at first as they are loaded with outfielders. In the 2nd round they drafted a highly coveted prospect shortstop Bo Bichette. Rounds three and four brought the much needed pitching in starters Luis M Castillo (B) and Daniel Mendgen (BZ) both have limited innings that together total 132. So that certainly helps. In the 5th round they selected catcher Chris Iannetta (.865) this is his fourth ZSABL ball club that he’ll don a uniform for and he’s only 35 yrs old. Starter Luke Weaver (CZ) was drafted in round six and as with the previous pitchers he has limited innings. Relief help came in the 7th followed by another starting pitcher German Marquez (C) to fill out the rotation. In the 9th round they selected outfielder Luis Robert a highly regarded prospect in the White Sox system. We had him highly graded. Rounds 10 – 12 brought more relief pitching. Knowing that Iannetta is not the long term answer they drafted catcher Keibert Ruiz in the 13th round a highly rated prospect in the Dodgers organization. They followed that pick with another prospect Jo Adell a designated hitter at the ripe old age of 18. Ya gotta wonder. In the supplemental draft they selected pitcher Joe Musgrove (DZ) who they had previously released. The offense is led by Schoop, McCutchen and Bregman. The starting rotation will be pasted piece by piece to complete the season. The pen has one AZ reliever. Just as things were looking up for the Cowboys, having reached the playoffs in 2016 they ended the 2017 season in fifth place in the West. They will be awfully pressed to finish that high in 2018.

 PIP 3.15