There’s always going to be a lot of prospect stuff in these since the best insights on them tend to be sourced, and this edition is no exception.
While the story is about the Dodgers continuing to help Andrew Toles keep his health insurance by re-signing him every year, it’s also nice to know that Tom Koehler was treated well despite the team knowing he would never pitch for them after he got hurt in Spring Training back in 2018.
Eric Stephen has a new podcast called Three Inning Save (of course) after Vox Media apparently axed the True Blue LA one for whatever fucking reason (pivoting to video?!), so check that out.
MLB: Farm Director Will Rhymes talked about some Dodgers prospects, including Josue De Paula…
“Josue has one of the best young swings you’ll ever see and his hitting ability and discipline are off the charts,” Rhymes said. “It’s such a special hit tool. He has rare, rare qualities and the power will come once he fills out.”
“Nick threw 64 percent fastballs last year, which is pretty high, so working on his secondary pitches has been a focus,” Rhymes said. “When we got him, he was using a slower, bigger slider and we ticked it up to 85 mph last year and now it’s in the upper 80s. He’s also throwing some good changeups and has improved his physical routine after spending all offseason here.”
…and Landon Knack.
“This guy can roll out of bed and dot all his pitches,” Rhymes said. “He’s healthy now, had a great offseason, changed his nutrition program. He’s such a historically great strike-thrower but he was a little off mechanically last year and his stuff went a little backwards. He’s in a good place now to bounce back and be in the mix for depth for the big league club.”
But perhaps the most surprising report was on River Ryan.
“River is a tremendous athlete and he has taken another step this spring,” Rhymes said. “He pitched at 97-99 mph and got up to 101 yesterday with a very high quality fastball. He’s messing with slider grips and he can dial it up to the upper 80s with more movement or throw a cutter up to 93. His curveball is very good and we’re trying to encourage him to use it more, and he has pretty good feel for his changeup too.”
If you had to check the quoted velocity to make sure you read it correctly, then you aren’t alone. To say that his stuff is ticking up is an understatement.
Baseball America: Meanwhile, Andy Pages has looked like a new man this Spring.
“He looks like a middle infielder almost. I always thought he was a pretty good mover, even when he was on the heavier side, but he’s moving really well right now,” a scout told Glaser. “I think at some point, he’ll get the call. If he was with another org, I think he’d have a chance to even crack the opening day roster.”
Scouts weren’t the only one noticing.
MLB Pipeline: De Paula and Nick Frasso were named as players who could find their way into the Top 100 prospects in baseball in 2024.
Josue De Paula, OF, Dodgers (No. 12)
De Paula could be the breakout prospect of 2023, as he has precocious skills at the plate and could develop into a .300 hitter with 30 homers per season.
Nick Frasso, RHP, Dodgers (No. 11)
Part of the Mitch White trade with the Blue Jays last August, Frasso has a devastating 95-100 mph fastball with arm-side run and impressive extension, and he also can miss bats with his changeup and slider.
Frasso feels like such a boom-or-bust prospect, but the stuff is so enticing and it’s hard not to dream on his potential when he’s paired with the player development of the Dodgers.
Baseball Prospectus: Ginny Searle thinks MLB should go all in on the World Baseball Classic, suggesting they take over the insurance themselves to alleviate that barrier, and also tighten some of the requirements for teams being able to restrict their players from participating. But most importantly to the league, the WBC is everything they want and need in this moment.
MLB has the oldest audience of any major American sport, is currently in the throes of a potential paradigm shift with the collapse of the RSN model, and appears to be laying the ground for all-out labor war in 2026. And yet team valuations keep growing. That reality could be understood as a pass to idle, though that’s less an option if MLB wants to avoid being overtaken by the NBA as the country’s second-most valuable sport. Another reading of the situation is that the league has the opportunity to take chances backed by security, to create new opportunities to grow as the bubble continues apace. From the second perspective, the WBC is a golden opportunity for MLB, the sort of event the league always hoped for but which probably seemed out of reach. It’s legitimately difficult to imagine any other strategy for fan outreach, stateside or internationally, that could draw the same attention. To capitalize on that opportunity the league needs to go all-in, which requires making it easier for players to give their all for their national squads—an opportunity many clearly treasure. For decades MLB has been chasing the Super Bowl, but it turns out they should have had their sights set higher, on the World Cup. It’s time to double down.
Couldn’t agree more.
MLB should do everything they can to facilitate the growth of this event, even at the cost of the regular season schedule every four years. I say this just as a fan of the sport itself, because I could easily see the WBC continuing to grow in legitimacy and significance as it rolls on over the years.
Baseball America: Didn’t even think about this until J.J. Cooper tackled it, but with the implementation of the pitch clock and game times dropping, it seemed possible that revenue from concessions would fall as well. However, it turns out that’s not what happened in the minors at least.
The answer I got back universally from more than a dozen minor league operators was no. Minor league teams did not see a loss in concessions sales because games were shorter.
“We didn’t see concession sales suffer due to shorter games as fans were staying the same amount of time as they normally would, but were now just staying until the end of the game instead of the end of the seventh inning,” said one minor league team GM.
“We did not see a negative effect on concession sales.&nbsp; People still eat and drink as much as they used to.&nbsp; The 7th-9th innings of a 3 hour, 30 minute game are not high concession sales,” said another.
“From a concessions perspective, we have not seen a drop off in per caps whatsoever. A game lasting an hour longer than normal on a Thursday night doesn’t benefit us on the concessions side, because 90% of the fans have already gone home to get to bed,” said a third.
A fourth operator said their concession revenue actually went up. He also noted that their post-game promotions where kids run the bases were better attended because families were much more willing to stick around for the entire game, which he took as a positive sign for developing young fans.
Guess that makes sense. After all, if it did impact revenues, MLB would’ve never implemented the changes to begin with.
Just want Opening Day to get here already. In a way it’s kind of exciting that there’s a lot of unknowns about the Dodgers this year, even if it’s also unsettling.