Sunday Notes: Alexander is Blazing a Path to Arizona

Blaze Alexander is on the bubble to interrupt camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His spring exhibiting suggests he deserves the chance to take action. In 52 Cactus League plate appearances, the 24-year-old infield prospect has slashed .420/.442/.640 with seven extra-base hits and 5 stolen bases in as many makes an attempt. Furthermore, he’s continued to point out promise since being taken within the eleventh spherical of the 2018 draft out of IMG Academy. That he’s largely flown beneath the radar whereas doing so is beginning to change.

“I hope that’s the case,” Alexander informed me in mid-March. “I imply, I’ve been placing on a reasonably good efficiency this spring, so I positively suppose I’m opening some eyes. That stated, I clearly have to switch it over to the common season.”

The chance of his doing so within the huge leagues was improved on Friday when the D-Backs launched Elvis Andrus, a notable roster transfer on condition that the 15-year veteran had been inked to a free agent contract as a possible backup for Geraldo Perdomo. Because it now stands, there’s a good likelihood that Alexander — “a viable defensive shortstop with an enormous arm… [who] hits for sufficient energy” within the phrases of Eric Longenhagen — will likely be filling that function.

Hitting for energy isn’t one in all Alexander’s goals, neither is it a part of his course of. Whereas he does possess pop — his ledger contains 30 dwelling runs in 734 plate appearances over the previous two minor-league seasons — his M.O. is bullets, not blasts.

“I might placed on a present in BP —I might hit a lot of the balls out — however everybody on this room can do this,” he defined. “ What I need is to be a mature hitter. Your routine transfers over to the sport, so what I’m doing in batting follow is making an attempt to hit low line drives from five-to-25 levels. In case you watch Freddie Freeman’s BPs, he’s hitting liners on the shortstop. Doing that enables him to hit homers in video games.”

Alexander has tweaked his setup in an effort to make exhausting contact on a extra common foundation. He used to have his palms “form of in entrance of [his] helmet,” however he now holds them nearer to his shoulder with a view to have a extra constant launching level. Because the teen put it, “I’m not looking for that spot, as a result of I’m already in that spot. I simply get my foot down and hold my course to the center of area.”

A few of his favourite gamers through the years have prioritized line drives, realizing that well-struck balls will sometimes carry over the fence. Brandon Crawford is one, Derek Jeter — “everybody likes to be in comparison with him, as a result of he did it the correct manner” — is one other. A 3rd favourite had a far totally different profile on the plate.

“I’m from the Chicagoland space — Northwest Indiana — and once I was youthful, my brother and I have been all the time in entrance of the TV, watching Sammy Sosa,” recalled Alexander. “We’d be cheering him on, and it appeared like he was all the time hitting a house run. I’m clearly not going to be Sammy Sosa. What I’m striving to be is one of the best model of myself.”

The present model has him on the doorstep of a big-league debut. Ultimate roster selections are proper across the nook.



Rusty Peters went 1 for 15 in opposition to Orval Grove.

Babe Dahlgren went 1 for 15 in opposition to Lefty Grove.

Chick Gandil went 2 for 16 in opposition to Grover Lowdermilk.

Pete Knisely went 1 for 15 in opposition to Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Chubby Dean went 1 for 15 in opposition to Pete Appleton.


Somewhat over a month in the past, a reputation I used to be unfamiliar with appeared close to the underside of a Picks To Click on article put collectively by Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin. The title, which was on an inventory of potential breakout gamers that trade insiders had supplied to our prospect analyst duo, was that of a younger southpaw whose skilled résumé includes all of 38 innings, none above Excessive-A.

Lance Brozdowski is kind of accustomed to the participant in query. As a matter of reality, it was his title that the Marquee Sports activities Community analyst cited once I requested who he considers to be essentially the most fascinating pitcher within the Chicago Cubs group.

“Arguably essentially the most fascinating arm within the system is Drew Grey,” stated Brozdowski, whose nerdy pitcher breakdowns are persistently wonderful (take a look at his Twitter feed). “He’s solely 20 years outdated and threw simply over 30 innings final 12 months coming off Tommy John surgical procedure that brought on him to overlook all of 2022. His lefty fastball is what stands proud. He’s a basic mixture of fine extension (6.9’), low launch top (5.5’) and above-average vertical break on his fastball (17”+). He had some bother discovering the zone with it final season, however the pitch nonetheless missed bats at an above-average clip regardless of sitting under 92 mph. On prime of that, he had huge motion on his slider with spin as much as 2,900 rpm. In case you mission just a few additional ticks of velocity right here, and he finds the zone even marginally extra, he’ll be the highest pitching prospect within the group come 2025. I ponder whether the presence and projection of Grey made the Cubs extra prepared to commerce fellow lefty and IMG Academy graduate Jackson Ferris to the Dodgers this winter for Michael Busch.”


Ought to the 88.9-mph floor ball that went by way of Jake Cronenworth’s glove on this season’s MLB opener in Seoul, South Korea have been dominated a success or an error? I requested that query in a Twitter ballot, and the outcomes have been nearer than I anticipated. Error — the plain name in my view — acquired 55.1%, whereas hit garnered 44.9%.

The xBA on the bouncer was .080. The concept the hitter needs to be credited with a success (which he wasn’t) therefore is unnecessary. None by any means.


A quiz:

Maury Wills grew to become the primary modern-era (since 1901) participant to steal 100 or extra bases in a single season when he swiped 104 with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1962. Who’s the latest participant to succeed in triple digits in steals?

The reply may be discovered under.



The Triple-A Worcester Pink Sox have promoted Brooke Cooper to Government Vice President/Normal Supervisor. A 31-year-old Rhode Island native with an MBA from Windfall School, Cooper has been with the staff since 2015, most lately as Senior VP/Assistant GM.

The Athletic debuted a weekly column titled “Sliders,” which is being penned by the incomparable Tyler Kepner. The inaugural column may be discovered right here.

Chuck Seelbach, a right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers from 1971-1974, died this week at age 76. The Lakewood, Ohio native made 69 of his 75 appearances in 1972, going 9-8 with 14 saves and a 2.91 ERA over 112 innings.


The reply to the quiz is Vince Coleman. The St. Louis Cardinals speedster stole 100 or extra bases in every of the 1985, 1986, and 1987 seasons. Rickey Henderson’s final 100-steal season was 1983.


Leaping again to polls, I requested which of two younger NL Central shortstops — Cincinnati’s Elly De La Cruz and Pittsburgh’s Oneil Cruz — will put up the higher offensive numbers this season: I anticipated a horserace. What I received as a substitute was a runaway end result. The Pirate garnered a hefty 69.1% of the votes forged, whereas the Pink acquired simply 30.9%.

Cruz, who performed in only a baker’s dozen video games final 12 months on account of a fractured fibula, has raked this spring. The 25-year-old has slashed .293/.370/.829, and his seven dwelling runs are tied with Baltimore’s Kyle Stowers for essentially the most within the Grapefruit League.

De La Cruz, whose rookie season featured each peaks and valleys —- he finally completed with 13 homers, 35 steals, and an 84 wRC= — has had a much less spectacular spring. The 22-year-old has slashed .277/.370/.553, gone deep twice, and fanned in 37.0% of his 51 plate appearances.

Common season numbers clearly imply way over spring coaching numbers, and as my colleague Davy Andrews lately identified, the 6-foot-7 Cruz and 6-foot-5 De La Cruz have extra in frequent than being particularly tall for his or her place. To wit:

Cruz and De La Cruz have each performed in precisely 98 huge league video games, and their skillsets are practically similar, as properly. They’ve each walked 35 instances, struck out 33.7% of the time, and posted batting averages and on-base percentages inside two factors of each other.

Whoa. That’s just about the definition of a useless warmth. Their different numbers up to now are additionally shut, however what of the long run? It is going to be fascinating to comply with.


A captivating staff to comply with this season is the Seattle Mariners. The AL West membership is coming off a 12 months the place they completed 88-74 and fell simply wanting making the playoffs, and projections have them going 85-77 within the 12 months at hand. By all appearances, they’ll as soon as once more be contenders — however will they really go on to play October baseball? And in that case, may they even go deep into October, finally giving followers all through the Pacific Northwest one thing they’ve lengthy craved: a championship parade in downtown Seattle?

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier thinks it might occur. Seven of the publication’s sports activities scribes made 2024 MLB predictions earlier this week, with 4 them tabbing the Mariners to earn a wildcard berth (none had them successful the division), with Speier’s standing out. Three of the wildcard predictors had Seattle going no additional; Speier had them occurring to beat the Dodgers within the World Collection.

Figuring out of the Boston market, I do know that Speier doesn’t site visitors in scorching takes, however reasonably gives insightful commentary on all issues baseball. A lot for that motive, I reached out to Alex to get his rationale.

“Prediction, particularly postseason predictions, are an affront to the epistemological actuality that we don’t know squat,” Speier stated in an e mail reply to my request. “When approached with any form of earnestness, they fly within the face of what I take into account one of many foundational joys of sports activities — randomness and the unknown outcomes of competitors. I used to take predictions very significantly, and fake that I had some perception into what may occur sooner or later. I’ve been fortunately humbled by the inaccuracy of any such prognostications, time and again and over. And so: I say a mighty “Fie!” to the logic of choosing what is likely to be seen as one of the best staff, and as a substitute picked the Mariners. Why? First, I *love* that the success of untamed card groups within the new format has confirmed that relative expertise just isn’t a significant predictor of quick collection success. Secondly, it’s all the time a delight to ponder a season that delivers most happiness to the most important inhabitants.

“Wouldn’t or not it’s simply freaking unbelievable to see your complete Pacific Northwest get pleasure from and have fun its first-ever championship, with first pitches thrown out by the likes of Griffey and Martinez and RJ, and to consider a staff that might be remembered for generations? And eventually, positive, there’s a logic to considering the Mariners have the beginning pitching to do one thing ridiculous just like the 2005 White Sox or some such outlier of outlier factor. So: My “prediction” just isn’t a suggestion in any respect of one thing that I believe *will* occur, however as a substitute one thing that I fortunately think about *might* occur. So: Why the hell not? Somebody may as properly take the sphere in opposition to the Dodgers and the staff from Atlanta.”


With regards to predictions, I made one every week in the past at present on a Cincinnati radio station. Showing as a visitor on WLW’s Sunday Morning Sports activities Speak with Ken Broo, I opined that not solely will the Reds win the NL Central this 12 months, they’ve a legit shot at 90 wins. Given the staff’s projected report (79-81) and a handful of injured gamers to begin the season, that’s maybe a bit too daring? I don’t suppose it’s. As I stated on the present, Cincinnati’s beginning pitching depth is spectacular. With the caveat that they’re all younger, choices past the five-man rotation anticipated to begin the season embody Nick Lodolo, Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, Carson Spiers, Lyon Richardson, and 2023 first-rounder Rhett Lowder. Groups usually incur pitching accidents over the course of the season. The Reds can stand up to them much better than most.



The KBO season received underway on Saturday with a five-game slate, highlighted by defending champion LG Twins beating the Hanwha Eagles 8-2. Hyun-jin Ryu took the loss for Hanwha in his return to Korea after 10 MLB seasons. One other notable sport was the Samsung Lions topping the KT Wiz 6-2 in 10 innings. Erstwhile Pink Sox and Rockies righty Connor Seabold went six innings for the successful facet in a stable first KBO begin.

Yonathan Perlaza’s KBO profession is off to a scorching begin. The 25-year-old former Chicago Cubs prospect went 2-for-4 in Hanwha’s opening day loss, then adopted that up with one other 2-for-4 — this time with pair of dwelling runs — because the Eagles outscored the Twins 8-4 earlier at present. Perlaza had 23 dwelling runs and a 130 wRC+ with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs final 12 months.

The NPB season is slated to get underway this coming Friday. The Hanshin Tigers, who will open at dwelling in opposition to the Yomiuri Giants, are the defending champions.


A random obscure former participant snapshot:

Eddie Joost had an underrated profession through which he was at his greatest from 1947-1952. A shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics over that six-season span, Joost batted simply .248, however he additionally had a .391 on-base share, 109 dwelling runs, a 117 wRC+, and 26.1 WAR. Furthermore, his 713 walks have been essentially the most within the majors, this at a time when his contemporaries included Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Ralph Kiner, and Eddie “The Strolling Man” Yost. By way of valued talent set — OBP and energy at a center infield place — Joost was a long time forward of his time.


Which participant is the important thing to Toronto’s success this season? I posed that query to Ben Nicholson-Smith, who cowl the Blue Jays for Sportsnet Canada.

“There isn’t any have to complicate this one,” replied Nicholson-Smith. “The reply for the Blue Jays is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. He’s performed 5 full years within the majors and was well-known lengthy earlier than he debuted, so generally it’s simple to neglect how younger Guerrero Jr. is. He turned 25 this month, which makes him youthful than Heston Kjerstad, Michael Busch and Joey Ortiz – gamers who nonetheless seem on pre-season top-prospect lists. Already, we’ve seen Guerrero Jr. carry out at an MVP degree, as he hit 48 dwelling runs in 2021, however his offensive manufacturing has dropped off every year since, and he hit simply 26 dwelling runs final 12 months en path to a 118 wRC+. Clearly, he’s able to extra, although. If he accesses that ceiling once more, the Blue Jays’ lineup will likely be that a lot nearer to the place it must be.”


The St. Louis Submit-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold named a new-to-the-team beginning pitcher when answering the query for the Cardinals.

The reply needs to be Sonny Grey,” Goold opined. “The Cardinals chased innings all of final season, making an attempt to beat a crater created by inconsistent, abbreviated, and ineffective begins from the rotation. The purchasing listing of the winter, as coined by government John Mozeliak, was “pitching, pitching, pitching.” They acknowledged they wanted so as to add a couple of starter, however in addition they sought so as to add a No. 1. They entered the offseason centered on Sonny Grey and optimistic they might signal the Cy Younger runner up. “Sonny was the man we needed,” the supervisor informed me lately.

“Their pursuit and their supply — could possibly be the primary $100-million deal for a free-agent pitcher in membership historical past — reveals his significance. They needed him to not solely lead the rotation in efficiency however lead the rotation. For the primary time in additional than a technology, the Cardinals wouldn’t have an inheritor prepared, like Wainwright was to Carpenter, or Carpenter was to Morris, Morris to Kile. All 5 members of the deliberate rotation signed as free brokers — even Lance Lynn, a homegrown participant who left and returned for this season. That speaks to the hole the Cardinals imagine that they had of their pitching growth. Grey is who the Cardinals need as that No. 1 they’ll depend on for distinctive, environment friendly innings and wins, and the No. 1 they need to flip to for Recreation 1 of a playoff collection. He’s pivotal to the Cardinals’ success in a season that’s very important to the Cardinals’ course and model. Was final 12 months a blip, as they are saying, or the dip that reveals a development?. All this, and Sonny Grey is beginning the season not less than two weeks behind his friends on account of a hamstring harm.”



At Entrance Workplace Sports activities, Bradford William Davis wrote about Shohei Ohtani and the way the playing scandals are solely starting.

At Mile Excessive Sports activities, Drew Creasman gave us three spring-training-influenced predictions for the Colorado Rockies.

The Giants and fashionable longtime PA announcer Renel Brooks-Moon are parting methods after not having the ability to come to phrases on a contract. Ann Killion has the story at The San Francisco Chronicle.

Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Gary Cooper — as soon as thought of the quickest man in baseball — missed qualifying for an MLB pension by at some point. Dave Mesrey wrote about it at Andscape.

David Bilmes chronicled the life and profession of Cecil Fielder for SABR’s Bio Venture.



The Tampa Bay Rays received their first 13 video games final season and have been 27-6 on Could fifth earlier than going to complete 99-63 after which get swept within the Wild Card Collection. In 2019, the Washington Nationals have been 19-31 on Could twenty third earlier than going to complete 93-69 and finally successful the World Collection.

Three outstanding former Cincinnati Reds — Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose — performed for the 1983 NL champion Philadelphia Phillies. 4 gamers who later wore Reds uniforms — Don Carman, John Denny, Bo Diaz, and Juan Samuel — have been additionally on the staff. Pat Corrales, who managed the Phillies for the primary half of the season, caught for the Reds from 1968-1972.

Earl Moore’s 1908 MLB season comprised three begins and 26 innings pitched for the Phillies. The precise-hander allowed 4 runs, none of them earned. Moore’s 26 innings are the essentially the most in a single season for a pitcher who completed with a 0.00 ERA.

Pete Rose had a 121 wRC+, 160 HR, a .303 BA, and three batting titles.
Invoice Madlock had a 121 wRC+, 163 HR, a .305 BA, and 4 batting titles.

Mike Trout has a 170 wRC+, a .416 wOBA, 1,624 hits, 310 doubles, and 206 steals.
Shoeless Joe Jackson had a 165 wRC+, a .443 wOBA, 1,772 hits, 307 doubles, and 202 steals.

Two California-born gamers (Barry Bonds and Brett Butler) have stolen 500 or extra bases. Two Rhode Island-born gamers (Hugh Duffy and Davey Lopes) have stolen 500 or extra bases.

On at present’s date in 1984, the Detroit Tigers traded Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss to the Philadelphia Phillies in trade for Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman. The Tigers went on to win the 1984 World Collection, whereas Hernandez captured each the AL MVP and Cy Younger awards.

The Tigers signed J.D. Martinez as a free agent on at present’s date in 2014, two days after he was launched by the Houston Astros. The precise-handed slugger has hit 291 dwelling runs and logged a 140 wRC+ within the ensuing 10 seasons.

Gamers born on at present’s date embody Al Chambers, an outfielder/DH who performed for the Seattle Mariners from 1983-1985. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native made his MLB debut in opposition to the Boston Pink Sox and promptly swatted two-run singles off of Dennis Eckersley in every of his first two plate appearances. It was downhill from there. Chambers completed his profession with 25 hits and 11 RBIs.

Additionally born on at present’s date was Ernie Shore, who on June 23, 1917 threw an ideal sport that isn’t within the report books as an ideal sport. Babe Ruth began for the Pink Sox, walked the primary batter he confronted, then was ejected by dwelling plate umpire after voicing some selection phrases. Shore changed Ruth, the runner was thrown out making an attempt to steal, and the following 26 Washington Senators went down so as.

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