Pedro Alvarez

Vandy and their Dynamic Pitching Duo

This was supposed to go up a few weeks ago… but it didn’t. So here it is, better late than never.

Carson Fulmer Image Courtesy of ESPN

Carson Fulmer
Image Courtesy of ESPN

Friday night baseball games at McKethan Stadium always provide great entertainment and great baseball. The competition provided in the SEC is the best in the country, and many future Major Leaguers are produced by those programs. Vanderbilt is notorious for this, putting out names like David Price, Sonny Gray, Pedro Alvarez, and Ryan Flaherty, among others. Coach Tim Corbin is one of the greatest coaches in college baseball, and it shows with the talent he recruits, the talent he puts on the field, and the talent he sends to the pros. They are perennial contenders to make a trip to Omaha, and this year is no different. As the old adage goes, pitching and defense wins championships, and the Commodores certainly have pitching. Righthander Tyler Beede is projected to be a top-10 pick in this June’s First-Year Player Draft. This time next year, I expect the same to be said about Beede’s teammate, fellow righty Carson Fulmer. Beede is 6’4″ with a four seam fastball that sits in the mid to high-90s, a two seamer that sits in the low to mid-90s that tails, and two exceptional off-speed pitches; a curveball with good 12-6 break and a changeup that sits in the high-70s with good movement. The change could be his best pitch. Off the field, Beede raps under the alias Young Beedah, and he’s actually pretty good. Maybe one day we could see a Beede-Trevor Bauer collaboration feat. Ken Griffey Jr. I didn’t get to see him pitch on Friday (he threw Thursday), but I got his autograph after the game and he seems like a really nice guy.

Tyler Beede Image Courtesy of baseballjournal.com

Tyler Beede
Image Courtesy of baseballjournal.com

As for who I did see pitch on Friday, the 5’11” Fulmer was absolutely masterfulthy (I wanted to say masterful and filthy, so we now have a word for that). His delivery is very quick, and he generates a lot of torque with his lower half. Notice how I said he was 5’11”; he throws 95. This is something that I’m going to rant on for a few sentences, so prepare yourself; there is no such thing as a player being “undersized”. Not in baseball, not in football, not anywhere. If a guy can play, he can play, and Carson Fulmer can play. He also has above-average secondary pitches, and can command the zone. Early and late in the game he had some short stints where his control eluded him, but in the middle he was solid, and even went on a treak of retiring twelve straight Gators.

(Side Note: I am really excited about Fulmer as far as his stuff, and how he pitches. This is probably because I actually saw him pitch in person, so I know more about his game, even though it was only one game, and probably his best game. All I have for Beede are some clips from YouTube, so that’s what I’m going off of, along with another scouting report.)

Fulmer’s start in Gainesville resulted in a complete game-four hit-shutout, the first shutout of his college career. He was still hitting 95 on the gun in the ninth on one of his fastballs to the last batter of the game, who he struck out. His line at the end was: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. Post-game, when i went to go try to get his autograph, he had A Lot of friends and family there. He is from Lakeland, so I wouldn’t really expect anything less, and he put on a great show for his “hometown” crowd.

As far as pro player comps, you can’t help but compare him to “small” pitchers. I’ve put him up with two guys who have had success and were successful; Drew Storen and Marcus Stroman. Storen is three inches taller than Fulmer, and he was a reliever his whole career so that would probably be the least accurate comparison. Stroman is two inches shorter, and started some at Duke, so we could put these guys up next to each other and get a good comp.

Fulmer, Storen, and Stroman's college stats. Courtesy of www.thebaseballcube.com

Fulmer, Storen, and Stroman’s college stats.
Courtesy of The Baseball Cube

Fulmer’s WHIP and ERA are closer to Storen’s but his K/9 are closer to those of Stroman, so it could really be the best of both worlds. Fulmer only has four collegiate starts because he was just recently moved into the weekend rotation, and it looks like a move that is paying off for the ‘Dores, with his 0.98 ERA. He had recorded 9 saves prior to the move, which goes back to the comparison to Storen; Storen led Stanford in both wins and saves his sophomore year.

Vandy has good defense to stand behind these two guys, and if they can score runs, the can really be a force in the NCAA Tournament. They are definitely worth keeping an eye on, whether it be this year or next.

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Why the importance of the Super Two deadline (and, in turn, the average MLB GM) is stupid

by Tanner McClure

So let’s say there is a current MLB team who is fourth in its division, is struggling at the plate, and has three potential Right Fielders. Right Fielder A has a slash line of .227/.301/.364, Right Fielder B has one of .262/.318/.295, and Right Fielder C has one of .400/.460/.644 (In more plate appearances than the others). But Right Fielder A has played the most at the Major League Level, and Right Fielder C has played at Triple-A all year. I bet that most anyone familiar with top prospects has figured out that I’m talking about the Pirates; RFA is Travis Snider, RFB is Jose Tabata, and RFC is Mega-Prospect, Gregory Polanco. If Polanco were inserted into the two-hole for Pittsburgh, I, like many other Cardinal fans would probably have nightmares when it came time for a series against the Pittsburgh. It would virtually be a Murderer’s Row at the top, with Starling Marte, Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez, followed by Neil Walker; not as prolific a bat, but still a good hitter. If Polanco starts to hit (which he will), and Alvarez slumps, all Pirates skipper, Clint Hurdle, would need to do is flip Walker and the Dominican phenom, give Alvarez some protection, and then everyone starts hitting. It’s scary, right?

Polanco while playing at AAA Indianapolis. (Image from here)

Polanco while playing at AAA Indianapolis. (Image from here)

The only problem here is money (That gets in the way a lot in sports, doesn’t it?). The Super Two deadline (here is a good explanation of it from fangraphs.com) passes in June or July, and it gives the Major League club full control (i.e. no arbitration) f0r the full three years after it passes instead of the two activated with a call-up before the deadline. This would pose a problem for teams with players who are bound to be superstars, like Polanco, because they would have to spend more money, sooner. It freaks out any average GM, and money, inevitably, gets in the way of talent. That is what is happening with multiple top prospects, including two big, young pitchers who I REALLY like, Noah Syndergaard (Mets) and Archie Bradley (D-Backs). All that Neal Huntington (or Sandy Alderson or Kevin Towers) has to do is take a page out of  Andrew Friedman‘s playbook. The Ray’s VP has become smart when handling young players’ contracts. He has signed multiple guys, including, Evan Longoria, Matt Moore, and Chris Archer to long term, club-friendly deals before their first go=around in arbitration. It really makes sense, because they give an offer before any long service time in the Majors, and the players are lured in by the security of a multi-year deal (i.e. 8 years for Archer). Neither Polanco or Bradley are represented by Scott Boras (or Jay-Z for that matter), so that in itself is a win (I couldn’t find Syndergaard’s agent).

From here

Syndergaard during the 2013 Futures Game. (Image from here)

George Springer is a prime example of calling up talent before the deadline. Although he probably could have been called up at the end of last year, Jeff Luuhnow waited until this year; Springer is not producing as well as the Astros had probably hoped, but it is still a small sample size, so we probably shouldn’t read as much into it. I can almost guarantee that Springer will get a contract before he goes to arbitration for the first time, because his talent is there, and teams shouldn’t mind paying more now, to save a little later.

The bottom line is that there are some really talented and exciting players in the minors who could be up in the majors if it weren’t for Super Two. I don’t disagree with the rule, I just disagree with how it’s looked at. GMs want to save money, but aren’t realizing that it would be more beneficial to forget about the deadline, let the kids play, and then sign them long term.

As a supplement, here are some Polanco Highlights from Youtube. Not the best, but the RBI double in the first video was against current Braves starter, Alex Wood.