The Off-Season Begins

September 15, 2017

 

Across baseball, both in Europe and abroad, champions are being crowned and seasons are coming to a close. This month several minor league teams have finished their seasons but there is still a lot of ball left in the year for some of your favorite major league players. 

 

France

 

Andy Paz, Toulousain

Team: Midland RockHounds 

League: Texas League - AA

Parent Club: Oakland Athletics - AL

Position: Catcher

2017 Highlights: Andy and the RockHounds are heading to the playoffs. He is currently hitting .251 over 179 regular season appearances and maintaining a .997 fielding percentage. Paz’s stats have not been updated since the end of August however though the team has played all of September. He does not appear on the league’s transactions list. We’re on the lookout for injury reports and trade rumors for you, and we have a call in with the team’s front offices. We’ll keep you posted.  

 

Germany

 

Aaron Altherr, Landstuhl

Team: Philadelphia Phillies

League: MLB - NL

Parent Club: Philadelphia Phillies

Position: OF

2017 Highlights: Altherr is back in the swing of things, literally. He’s hitting .278 with 49 runs off 89 hits including 41 for extra bases. He’s hit 21 doubles, 4 triples and 16 homeruns to drive in 51. He’s also taken 28 walks while striking out 92 times. Aaron played all three slots in the outfield posting a .987 at left, a .971 in center and a 1.000 over in right for an overall .989 fielding percentage. It’s too bad his team is sitting in last in their division. It would be kind of fun to watch him play another month.

 

Pascal Amon, Ingolstadt

Team: AZL Dodgers

League: Arizona League – Rookie

Parent Club: Los Angeles Dodgers - NL

Position: CF

2017 Highlights: Amon finished his season with a .230 average over 41 games. In 113 at bats he had 19 runs off 26 hits with 8 doubles, a triple and 2 homeruns. He batted in 15 while striking out 38 times. In the outfield he finished the season splitting his time between all three spots as well as playing 1st.  His fielding percentage on 1st was perfect through 17 games. In 13 games between right and center he was also posting a 1.000 percentage. Left was the only spot that gave him statistical trouble all season. He finished with a .846 over 80.1 innings having committed 2 errors but not having enough catches to make up the difference. It will be interesting to see if they will move him up in 2018. He’ll be the right age for A ball, at least short season, and he’s definitely proven he has value in a few different spots in the outfield. His bat is average for having been new to the league this year. If he comes out of the spring strong at the plate, we’d expect to see him headed for A-ball. If the off-season cools him down at all then he may need to battle his way out for a mid-season move. 

 

Marco Cardoso, Paderborn

Team: Unassigned

League: DSL

Position: SS

Parent Club: Boston Red Sox - AL

2017 Highlights: Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, Cardoso has been in the instructional league. He told EBSM he will remain on-site through the end of September and return for further training in December.

 

Edwin Jackson, Neu-Ulm

Team: Washington Nationals

League: National League

Parent Club: Washington Nationals - NL

Position: RHP

2017 Highlights: After being traded on June 15th, on July 18th Jackson was called up to the bigs. Considering his team is sitting on top of the NL East with their competition 21 games back, it’s a good bet he’s real glad the O’s decided to make a mid-season move. Over 11 games and 60.1 innings Jackson is posting a 4.77 ERA with a 5-6 W/L record. He’s given up 32 earned runs while striking out 47. We’ll look forward to seeing if he can continue to bring down his ERA for the season as his team heads into post-season action.

 

Max Kepler, Berlin

Team: Minnesota Twins

League: MLB - NL

Parent Club: Minnesota Twins

Position: RF

2017 Highlights: Max has settled into his second season in the majors as if he’s been around for ages. No longer on-fire at the plate he’s still posting a very respectable .245 average. Over 470 at bats he’s accumulated 115 hits, including 29 doubles, 2 triples and 17 homers, while driving in 63 and scoring 62 times himself. Kepler has also had 44 free rides to 1st while striking out 99 times. In the outfield he’s got a .992 fielding percentage at right, where he’s spent all but 13 games, and a 1.000 at center. His team has a shot at a wild card spot so we may be seeing more of Kepler when October rolls around.

 

Nadir Ljatifi, Dortmund

Team: Billings Mustangs

League: Pioneer League – Rookie

Parent Club: Cincinnati Reds - NL

Position: 3rd

2017 Highlights: Ljatifi finished his season with a very respectable .246 average through 28 games in short season ball. It was the 19-year old’s first season in the league and the team took advantage of their new acquisition to determine the best spot for him to field. They tried him at 2nd, 3rd and short throughout the summer. 2nd was definitely his strongest position where he finished with a .985 fielding percentage over 126.1 innings. He had one game at short where, all things considered, he did much better than his percentage would have you believe. His .500 in 9.0 innings was the result of 2 errors. He had no putouts and only 2 assists on the day however to help him out. Over 19 innings at 3rd he also committed 2 errors with minimal assists, 2, and putouts, 4, so he had a .714 at that spot as well. Given time he could likely do well at any of the spots but it is nice to see the team giving him chances without taking his stats down in the process. It will be interesting to see if they ask him to stick around during the off-season to work on developing him for either of these positions. Based on his performance this year, he could easily be a candidate for another move up come spring but they may keep him in Montana another half season to play around with his skillset some more. He’s young and they may want to give him, and the parent club, options in the coming years.   

 

Bruce Maxwell, Weisbaden

Team: Oakland Athletics

League: American League

Parent Club: Oakland Athletics - AL

Position: Catcher

2017 Highlights: Bruce has settled in over in Oakland. He’s hitting .234 over 197 plate appearances. Maxwell is making contact, 46 hits, but he’s scored just 17 runs while driving in 21. Proof that it takes every bat to win a game of small ball.  Over 67 games behind the plate he’s posting a 1.000 fielding percentage over 509 innings. Pretty impressive for a guy who spent the first half of the season in AAA.

 

Sven Schüller, Wuppertal

Team: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

League: Midwest League – Class A Advanced

Parent Club: Los Angeles Dodgers - NL

Position: RHP

2017 Highlights: After a short playoff run Schüller’s season has come to a close. Sven finished his first season in Advanced A with a 5.25 ERA after being called up mid-year. He pitched just 24 innings in 12 games and finished with a 1-0 W/L record. Sven gave up 14 runs while striking out 21. We’ll expect to see Schüller begin next season back in advanced A until he’s had some innings to prove himself. 

 

Italy

 

Marten Gasparini, Ruda

Team: Lexington Legends

League: South Atlantic League - A

Parent Club: Kansas City Royals - AL

Position: OF

2017 Highlights: It was a short-lived improvement at the plate for Gasparini, whose average took a nose dive in the final month of season, but he did manage to finish the year on the north side of .200. Marten ended his first complete year of full-season A ball with a .227 average over 406 at bats. He struck out more than ¼ of his chances but he also had a 1:3 ratio of extra base hits with 31 of his 92 hits this season bringing him past 1st. Gasparini drove in 50. Overall it seems like the coaches were letting him find his own way this season letting the good come through the bad. While he stole 18 he was also caught 11 times. After two seasons of struggles at short that had adverse affects on his bat, this freedom, and faith from the staff, will likely go a long way toward building him into the player they see he can be. The biggest changes for him happened on defense. After moving to the outfield this year he posted a .979 fielding percentage committing just 6 errors all year. Compare that to his .885 at short last season, and his .196 batting average to end that season, and you can see it was a marked improvement. The only concern we’d have for Gasparini moving into 2018 is that he finds a way to increase his contact ratio at the plate. Now that they’ve found a good spot for him defensively, he won’t be advanced further without the bat. While he’s a slugger in the lower rungs of the minors, that could change as he advances and those extra bases become singles for outs. At the same time, he’s ready to move up with his extra base numbers. Furthermore, KC won’t want him settling in too long at a location. He’s been with Lexington now for 1 ½ years. His time to advance has come, regardless of age. It will be interesting to see if he gets another invitation to winter ball.

 

Alberto Mineo, Gorzia

Team: South Bend Cubs

League: Midwest League – A 

Parent Club: Chicago Cubs - NL

Position: C/1B

2017 Highlights: After 98 games Mineo’s season has come to an end. Completing his first full season in A ball Alberto finished with a .278 average and a .990 fielding percentage on 1st and a .992 from the crouch. If he performs well in the spring we’d expect Mineo to make the jump to AA by mid-summer the latest. Barring lack of room or a lackluster spring, there is nothing holding him back and, at 23 years old, he’s right on time for advancement. 

 

Lithuania

 

Dovydas Neverauskas, Vilnius

Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

League: National League

Parent Club: Pittsburgh Pirates

Position: RHP

2017 Highlights: If nothing else Neverauskas has racked up some staggering frequent flyer miles this season. He’s been recalled by Pittsburgh four times from AAA since April. The last one stuck. Since August 28th, he’s been with the parent organization. Dovydas is currently posting a much improved 3.15 ERA over 18 games. He has pitched 20.0 innings and has a 1-1 W/L record. Neverausksas has given up just 7 runs, all earned, off 18 hits. As we’ve said before, he is not a strikeout pitcher. He’s flagged just 14 on the season so there is no surprise there. What is impressive is that he has limited his walks and HPB to a total of 5 on the season. Considering he walked, on average, one every other inning he pitched in AAA this same season that’s a vast improvement. 

 

Modolva

 

Vadim Balan, Tiraspol

Team: GCL Twins – Rookie

League: Gulf Coast League

Parent Club: Minnesota Twins - AL

Position: RHP

2017 Highlights: In early August Balan was placed on the 7-DL. He has yet to come off. Prior to his injury he was posting a 2.03 ERA through 10 games. He’d pitched 13.1 innings giving up just 9 hits and 3 earned runs while striking out 13. He had also walked 7 and hit 4. Considering he’s 24 years old, the lack of control was likely a pre-cursor that lead to discovering his injury. Taking his age, and lack of advancement through the years, into consideration chances are this might be the last season we’ll see Vadim in the MLB. A team is not likely to invest in surgery and rehab for an aged rookie league player. If the injury proves to be long-standing and easily mended however, we may be eating our words come spring.

 

Netherlands

 

Paul Brands, Haarlem

Team: Bristol Pirates

League: Appalachian League - Rookie

Parent Club: Pittsburgh Pirates - NL

Position: C

2017 Highlights: Brands finished the season in Bristol with a .220 average over 32 games. He had 18 runs off 26 hits, 11 for extra bases, in 118 at bats. Behind the mask he finished the season with a .982 fielding percentage. We’ll have to wait and see how he performs in spring but there is a good chance Paul will start back at A ball next summer then advance up once they are sure his bat is warmed up. 

 

Taylor Clemensia, Amsterdam

Team: GCL Twins

League: Gulf Coast League – Rookie

Parent Club: Minnesota Twins - AL

Position: LHP

2017 Highlights: Taylor finished his season in the Gulf Coast with a 4.50 ERA. He appeared in just 9 games all season pitching at total of 20.0 innings. Posting a 1-3 W/L record with 27 walks and 25 strikeouts we’ll be happy to see Clemensia be invited back for 2018 at all. The 20-year old will be in his 4th contract year and, unless he makes some big strides toward finding the strike zone in the off-season, he’s not going to find a roster spot on an MiLB team waiting for him. He’ll either be released or optioned back to Europe for further development. Given how few games he was handed the ball this year, we’re expected the former more than the ladder. 

 

Sir Didi Gregorius, Amsterdam

Team: New York Yankees

League: MLB – AL

Parent Club: New York Yankees

Position: SS

2017 Highlights: Didi has managed to maintain his outstanding average at the plate. In 520 appearances he is hitting .295 with 143 hits including 49 extra base hits. Interestingly, not a single one of those has been a triple. He’s got 26 doubles and 23 homers along with 80 RBIs. Gregorius has struck out just 61 times while walking 24 more. At short he’s posting a .981 fielding percentage and we know his team’s headed for the post season. We look forward to seeing how his bat will affect the outcome of those games. 

 

 

Kingdom of the Netherlands

 

Nelmerson Angela, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: DSL Mets2

League: Dominican Summer League - Rookie

Parent Club: NY Mets - NL

Position: LHP

2017 Highlights: Nelmerson finished his summer with the DSL Mets with a record of 2-0 and a 1.90 ERA. Over 10 games, 5 of which he started, he pitched 23.2 innings. Angela gave up just 5 earned runs off 19 hits while striking out 21. He walked 7 and hit 3 as well so control might still be something he’ll need to work on but, considering he’s just 19-years old, and that he advanced levels mid-season, he’s had a really good season. We look forward to seeing where he’ll land in 2018.

 

Hendrik Clementina, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: Billings Mustangs

League: Pioneer League – Rookie

Parent Club: Cincinnati Reds – NL

Position: Catcher

2017 Highlights: Clementia settled into his new club fairly quickly this season. Traded during the All Star break he caught 27 games for Billings. His average seems to have taken a hit however. The first half of the season, in 24 games, he hit .370. After arriving in Montana, that average dropped to .240. Hendrik still managed to finish the season above .300 with a .303 cumulative average but you hate to see a trade have that kind of affect on a player. Interestingly this was a lateral move. He did not go to an advanced league and he also did not switch leagues. It was an unusual situation but likely a good experience for him. It’s better to learn about how you cope with the emotional aspects of a trade while the damage to your career is still minimal when it affects you that drastically. Moving is an unavoidable side of the game and one you have to adjust to quickly if you want to survive a long career in the MLB.

 

Xander Jan Bogaerts, Oranjestad Aruba

Team: Boston Red Sox

League: MLB - AL

Parent Club: Boston Red Sox

Position: IF – SS, 3B

2017 Highlights: Xander’s average continues to dip. Though he was at .300 before the break, it looks like the gas might be leaving his tank. Now batting .271 in 575 plate appearances, Bogaerts has 81 runs off 141 hits including 43 for extra bases. He’s driven in 56. He’s also been incredibly patient at the plate gathering 46 walks. On the paths, he’s making those regrettable gimmes haven stolen 15 and only being caught once all season. At short Xander is posting a .968 fielding percentage with a considerable number more errors this season than last. He’s already tallied 16, which is 12 over last year’s total and there is a 24 game difference in the games, not in his favor. You have to wonder if the WBC wasn’t a deficit to his season given all his year has become. With the Sox sitting atop the AL East, we’ll definitely be seeing him in October and there’s still a lot of season left to turn his numbers around before then. Either way, he’s not going anywhere. It’s just something for the team to take note of in future years as international competitions heat up with the Olympics on the line.

 

Kenley Jansen, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

League: MLB – NL

Parent Club: Los Angeles Dodgers

Position: RHP

2017 Highlights: No surprise here, the Dodgers are sitting atop the NL West and their #1 closer has a 1.27 ERA over 63.2 innings. Jansen has given up 9 earned runs, including 4 homers – nothing you can do about that - off 40 hits. He’s accumulated a 5-0 W/L record and 38 saves for his troubles. Kenley has given up 7 walks while striking out 101 for an average of 1.6 strikeouts/inning pitched. Yup. We’re looking forward to October. How about you?

 

Ryan Oduber, Oranjestad Aruba

Team: Lowell Spinners

League: New York-Penn League - Short A

Parent Club: Boston Red Sox - AL

Position: LHP

2017 Highlights: It looks like Lowell stuck with Oduber through the season and, thankfully so as they helped his ERA drop from frighteningly higher than 6.0 to a more respectable, all things considered, 5.40 to end the season. When you consider they are a short-season club this is a huge leap of faith. Oduber had the opportunity to appear in 16 games where he pitched 31.2 innings. Over those innings he accumulated a 2-2 W/L record and a save. The 20-year old is reasonably young still but he’ll need to start looking toward the future a bit more seriously in the off-season. While only signed 2 years ago, and continually advancing at a rapid pace, he’s also at an age disadvantage to his colleagues. If his only job is relief work, he’s going to need to show he’s dependable. Giving up 19 earned runs off 42 hits may not seem like the way to do it but you need to consider he may not be the only younger player on the team. If his style of pitching is to let them hit it, placing the ball into playable locations, then the road may be longer for the club. Considering they went to him often over the course of the season, and that the team finished in last place, it looks like this might be a strong possibility.

 

Juremi Profar, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: Frisco RoughRiders

League: Texas League – AA

Parent Club: Texas Rangers

Position: 3rd

2017 Highlights: The brothers Profar spent their season in the same state though not the same county like the Schoop brothers. As younger siblings often do, Jeremi spent his year on the heels of Jurickson at the AA club of the same organization. Over 109 games in Frisco, he hit .263 in 463 at bats including 109 hits, that’s an average of one/game. Profar also managed to accumulate quite a few extra bases with 13 doubles, 2 triples and 10 homeruns. He knocked in 40 and walked 19 times while striking out 58 times. Though he’s listed as a 3rd baseman, Jeremi spent 23 games on the other bags. This is his first season in AA and he’s just 21 years old so it is a smart move by the club. He’s already showing a strong bat so taking some of his stats to give them options at other positions further down the line shows they see a future between he and the club. Considering he committed 10 errors at 3rd while only committing three in the other two positions combined, and that he finished the season with a fielding percentage above .950, their making the smart move. A club can’t afford mistakes at 3rd. By allowing him to see they want him around, even if 3rd isn’t the spot, not only does it give his confidence a boost to be able to jump in on other bags and perform well, it increases his marketability if he becomes trade bait.

 

Jurickson Profar, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: Round Rock Express

League: Pacific Coast League - AAA

Parent Club: Texas Rangers

Position: Utility

2017 Highlights: Profar finished the season in Texas but not with the parent club. Profar hit .287 over 87 games with the Express after starting the season under .200 in the bigs. Round Rock failed to make the playoffs so Profar’s season ended in early September. While he was the shortstop in AAA, posting a .968 fielding percentage, Jurickson played every infield position this season in the bigs. However, he spent the majority of his time picking daisies in the outfield of Arlington Stadium. It will be interesting to see what the Rangers decide to do with him during the off-season. No doubt, he stirred up a pot of trouble for himself in August after voicing his frustration about playing ring around the ball field. Considering the season you have to wonder if he won’t be the subject of trade negotiations, or used for a higher draft pick in December, if the right something comes along.  

 

Jonathan Schoop, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: Baltimore Orioles

League: MLB - AL

Parent Club: Baltimore Orioles

Position: 2B

2017 Highlights: Through 569 at bats Schoop is maintaining his average above .300 this season. He’s hitting 301 with 171 hits including 65 extra base hits. He’s driven in 104 this year and still managed to walk 33 times. With 129 strikeouts however, it is clear that his slugging percentage is his average’s saving grace. On 2nd he’s put out 309 while assisting 410 times for a .981 fielding percentage in spite of his 14 errors. That total is nearly double his worst season average, previously 8, with a few weeks yet to play. At season’s ends, Schoop’s will have to be grateful for the power of his swing as much as the opportunities to perform, that have turned numbers that could have been disastrous into a notch in his seasons toward the Hall.  

 

 

Sharlon Schoop, Willemstad Curaçao

Team: Norfolk Tide

League: International League - AAA

Parent Club: Baltimore Orioles - AL

Position: SS

2017 Highlights: After radio silence for nearly two months, Sharlon Schoop was once again back in the game. Placed on the 7-day DL in the mid-July Sharlon was reactivated on September 1st for the playoffs. The good news is he remains at the AAA level, for the moment, so we’ll have to see how the recovery process works out for him in the off-season. At AA he was hitting .348 but in AAA he finished with a .193 average over 26 games.

 

Andrelton Simmons, Mundo Nobo Curaçao

Team: Angels of Anaheim

League: MLB – NL

Parent Club: Angels of Anaheim

Position: SS

2017 Highlights: After 543 plate appearances Simmons is hitting .282 on the season. He’s accumulated 74 runs off 153 hits with 36 doubles, 2 triples and 14 homeruns. He’s batted in 67 while striking out just 63 times. On the bags he’s stolen 19 while getting caught just 5 times. At short he’s committed 12 errors over 145 games with 212 putouts and 405 assists for a .981 fielding percentage. Even if the Angels don’t make it far in the post season we can expect a few new trophies on Simmons’ shelves all the same this winter.

 

Chadwick Tromp, Oranjestad, Aruba

Team: Pensacola Blue Wahoos

League: Southern League – AA

Parent Club: Cincinnati Reds – NL

Position: Catcher

2017 Highlights: Tromp picked up a championship title early this month when his team grabbed the franchise’s first Southern League championship. Tromp finished the season with a .204 average over 113 at bats and a .986 fielding average over 36 games. This was Tromp’s first season in AA. He was moved up mid-season from short season rookie ball and was on a total of three teams this summer moving twice in April. It is likely he’ll get the chance to repeat with the Wahoos.

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