Scout X Handicaps the Longshoremen Spring Training Roster Battles

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Updated: February 17, 2015

Posted by Stevedores_Fan_Bob, January 30, 2021 at 1:35 a.m.

StevedoresFan.com, the preeminent fan blog of your Canton Longshoremen, interviewed an anonymous scout for his take on the Longshoremen’s pitching staff and infield situations going into spring training.  The organization’s hopes are as high as they have been in recent memory after a 2020 season that saw Peyton Bishop win the SL’s Royal Raker Award, and a young, resurgent offense.  The outfield, first base, and DH are set, and with high to very high performers.  Open casting calls for starting rotation spots, bullpen structure, and the other three infield positions, however, appear to be on tap for spring training.  A well-known PEBA scout spoke off the record with us about who should win the positions. Here are his takes:

PITCHING

Quantity appears not to be a problem, as the Longshoremen could invite as many as 20 candidates for a pitching staff that should be 12 or 13 strong on Opening Day.  Quality, health, and right-sizing the eventual roles, are all an unknown.  Scout X: “The Longshoremen have one of the more unpredictable staffs in the league.  There’s a lot of promise, failed promise, and inconsistency.  I really like the promotion of AA Pitching Coach Pedro Garcia to the big club.  He has done a great job as the organization’s arms have come through Youngstown.  Jim Hayden, Alfonso Romero, Juan Marquez, Su-Shun Yu, and countless others have had their best seasons while working with Garcia.

Can new pitching coach Pedro Garcia turn the Longshoremen’s pitching woes around?

Julian OlivaresThe biggest question that the organization has to answer is whether Olivares is best suited to be a starter or a reliever.  He has the 4-pitch arsenal to be a starter, but I don’t think he has the stamina to be anything more than a 5 or 6 inning guy.  Last season’s 22 starts would be, in my opinion, a big enough sample size to let you know that he can be a dominant closer, but just a so-so starter.

Dennis ReadyYou can’t count on him – he’s only made nine starts in the past two seasons.  I’d be interested to see whether he could more easily shoulder a closer’s load.  He’s certainly got the groundball-inducing repertoire to excel in that role.  I’d expect the Longshoremen to keep putting him the rotation until he finally breaks down for good, though. Frankly, his performance last season after he came back from injury makes me wonder if he will ever be the same pitcher he was before the TJ.

Jose PerasaDespite a couple of very good seasons and admirable durability, it’s hard to get too excited about Jose Perasa.  Despite throwing it hard, he’s very hittable, and was more hittable than ever last year.  If he’s your best starting pitcher – and he has been the Longshoremen’s now for at least three seasons – your rotation isn’t very good.

Xiao-peng LiHe could be a very solid contributor in a bullpen, but is overmatched as a starter.  And at 30, he’s more likely to get worse rather than better.

Carlos Perez –  Perez may be the most intriguing pitcher on the staff.  His minor league resume suggested a worm-killing gimmick whose act might not play well in the bigs.  He struggled in his second trip around the league, but in an unexpected way – he still didn’t strike anyone out, but he also didn’t give up home runs.  With better batted ball luck, Perez could have had an excellent rookie campaign.  It’s unclear whether opponents were hittin’ where the defenders ain’t, or whether they were smoking uncatchable line drives around the park.

Antonio MurilloMurillo was plainly rushed to the big leagues last season.  He needs to cut down on gopherballs to be an effective starter, but even then will lack the stamina to go deep in games.  Murillo’s stuff and makeup are good enough that he could be an important bullpen asset even if he is not fit for the starting rotation.

Kokei YamashitaIt’s not even clear that Yamashita will get an invite to spring training, since he’s not on the 40-man, and that’s probably for the best, as he could use at least another year of seasoning. While he has dominated at the AA level, he has struggled at AAA.  He has ace stuff if he can harness his control.  The only other question mark is how deep he will be able to pitch into games, as he has struggled to get out of the 6th inning at times in the minors.

Justin Barton – Barton has confounded the organization by not being able to get over the hump from serviceable to stellar, despite the stuff.  A move to the bullpen last season didn’t help; his performance was as disappointingly mediocre as it ever was as a starter.  He’s not bad – he just hasn’t been able to put together sustained periods of the domination that he flashes at times.  At 28, it’s increasingly looking like he won’t ever turn the corner.

Jorge Jimenez – Jimenez is like Barton, only with more promise, and worse performances.  2020 is probably his last chance to earn a big paycheck as a starter.

Emerson Rose – Rose is what he is – a quadruple A pitcher who might luck into 8-10 start stretches at the big league level when an organization suffers an injury cascade.  And that’s good for him, because he’s the rare lefty who can’t get out lefties, so he can’t fall back on the LOOGY career path.

Juan Cardenas – He must have had an amazing workout to get a 4-year deal, because there’s nothing in his repertoire or makeup that suggests he should be a major league pitcher.

Eric Lambright – He would really benefit from the organization having more depth; he’s an excellent LOOGY who gets overexposed when he faces righthanders, but he’s just adequate enough against righties that his manager has to keep letting him face them given the lack of better options.

Cesar Lopez – The young flamethrower was on the right path in 2018 only to have his major league debut season cut short by a balky shoulder. He can be dominant at times and should make the team out of spring training.  He could be a future closer.

Guilermo Mejia – It seems like he’s been around forever, but he’s still just 25.  If he can keep the ball in the park, and in the strike zone, he could put up video game-worthy strikeout numbers, even at the PEBA level.

Pat MillerA phenom whose performance has deteriorated annually since making the bigs, Miller is just 26, and is expected to pitch the 8th inning for the Longshoremen if Olivares is the closer, and the 9th inning if Oivares is a starter. Smart money is that his last two seasons are statistical noise rather than a decline – he still throws hard and down in the zone.

Benoit FaucherOne of two independent league finds, the Canadian flashed good stuff in personal workouts with a couple of teams. Time will tell whether he has the make-up to succeed at the PEBA level.

Shimpei TakemagoThe other independent league signing, Takemago got a better contract form Canton thanks to his higher ceiling than Faucher, although Faucher is more major league ready.  The 25-year old Japanese hurler has classic closer stuff: a fastball that sits at 93-94 with good downward movement in the zone and a slider that is already a strikeout pitch. Despite his major league contract and paycheck, he could benefit from a half season in the minors.

Don BarnesBarnes came from nowhere in 2020 after being converted to the bullpen, earning a 40-man roster spot and a spring training invite. His propensity to give up the longball will keep him from being a star, but he’s probably a better bullpen bet than fellow lefty gopherball inducer Guilermo Mejia.

INFIELD

With eight candidates for the three most important defensive positions on the infield and four or five roster spots, handicapping the Longshoremen’s infield competition is tough duty.  Scout X tries: Don’t let the numbers fool you – this is an easy race to handicap for all but the final roster spot or two.  C-Rod will make the roster, although his role will be a day-to-day determination.  He’s in there for his bat and his legs, because he really can’t field any position adequately anymore. Eugene Baker will win the job at 2B unless Joe Buchanan tears up the spring circuit.  The shortstop job is a 2-man fight between two lefty hitters, Rasmussen and Barker, with the loser being sent to AAA (and both are just keeping the spot warn for Gonzalo Gonzalez).  Reynaldo Estrada is likely your Opening Day third baseman, and if he’s not, he’ll be released.  The other hot corner candidate, Gordon Fuller, is probably a year away. Joe Buchanan and Hector Prado will fight for the last roster spot, with Prado’s versatility and Buchanan’s power potential being the factors that will influence the Longshoremen’s decision.

2B Joe Buchanan – A Rule 5 pick, Buchanan has flashed high minors power, but has not proven himself on the PEBA stage. The Longshoremen hope that is more lack of opportunity than lack of talent. Buchanan is an indifferent fielder at the keystone.

2B Eugene Baker – Baker has been liked by prospect mavens for years, but tolerated by the Longshormen front office. Perhaps Baker had a chip on his shoulder because last year’s 269/346/397 campaign was enough to wrest the 2B job from longtime organization favorite Hector Prado.

UT Hector Prado – Speaking of, Prado’s career has come full circle, as defense is now his calling card, and his offense is suspect. His versatility probably saves his roster spot, but an end of spring training DFA would not be out the the question.

SS Terry Rasmussen – Lefty-hitting SSs with pop are great commodities, but they have to actually, you know, hit. Rasmussen hasn’t yet, but his glove is good enough to give him another chance.
3B Carlos Rodriguez – A one-time SS, one-time 3B, the Longshoremen’s prodigal son now should be limited to 2B, which he nonetheless plays poorly. This organization has found ways to keep his on-base skills in the lineup before, so be surprised to see him standing around anywhere on the diamond.

3B Reynaldo Estrada – The 2015 IL Wunderkind, unlike Vapor Lock, has fallen on hard times, but has resurfaced in the Canton organization. With some on-base skills, pop, and a plus glove at the hot corner, Estrada has to have at least an outside shot at winning a spot on the roster.

SS John Barker –  Barker is my dark horse to win the starting job at short.  He will never be a star with the bat, but his approach at the plate generally means he will be on base 35% of the time despite a low batting average. He will also eventually play All-Leather caliber defense.

3B Gordon FullerFuller was a great late winter waiver pick-up. The late first round 2018 draft pick was rushed to the majors with Charleston, and performed admirably for a 23 year old. He may still be a year away, but he projects to be above-average someday longshoremen-featuredwith the stick and the glove at the hot corner.