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The Prospect Round-Up 3/21/18 - Minor League Baseball Players are About To Get Screwed

The Round-Up has a serious political issue to discuss that has ramifications for Minor League Baseball, and it’s a chance for you to speak up about it.  Also, more cuts for the Giants, so we give the departed a to-do list, and more alternate-identities in the minors.

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Spring Prospect-ish Roundup Design by Kevin J. Cunningham

TRIGGER WARNING: I’m about to talk Politics.

I know I’m going to get some comments or replies on this saying to “Stick to Sports”. Oh well. This is about sports.

I hate it when the sport I love does something that makes me want to stop supporting it, writing about it, and move on to something else. But it’s doing it right now.

The organization of Baseball (comprised of both the Major and Minor Leagues) is attempting an end run around legislation subcommittees and lawsuits, by including a rider on a massive government spending bill that exempts minor league players from federal labor law protections.

By doing this, they will skip various subcommittees that are there to discuss labor matters in full. It will just happen. And the travesty of how minor league players are paid and kept in poverty will remain.

Garrett Broshius, former Giants prospect and the lawyer helping to lead the lawsuits against Minor League Baseball for their payment of players, has been vocal about this latest version of the bill. He shared this letter written by a prospect who left baseball, and explaining why.

It takes a while for him to get to the financial side of it, but it’s worth reading. The fact that teams pay players as “Seasonal Employees” when they are expected to maintain rigid offseason workout programs and report their progress in, but not be paid to do so nor have those facilities to do it in, is insulting. Minor League players are also not paid for Spring Training.

Baseball insists that minor leaguers should view their employment as a “Stepping stone” rather than a career, and compares them to fast food employees in that regard, according to an interview published by Baseball America.

They continue to push the argument that raising the salaries of minor leaguers will essentially destroy minor league baseball, throwing those clubs into debt and closing them, ending the jobs of thousands of other workers at those stadiums who are protected by minimum wage law. This is complete BS, since minor league players are paid by their major league team, not the minor league ownership. I have yet to see anyone try to get the organizations of baseball to explain this argument further.

O’Conner says “We’re not saying that it shouldn’t go up,” in the Post article…and yet, they spend millions on these lobbyists rather than making minor league salaries go up.

I feel strongly about this. I feel disgusted by the people who run this sport that I love and that I write about (for free). This is my opinion. But if it is yours as well, now is the time and try and get those in Congress to do something. This isn’t a party issue; both Democratic Leaders and Republican Leaders seem to support this bill.

If you want to, you can use this website to help find your constituents. I would also suggest contacting the four Congress leaders: Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Tell them you believe Minor League Baseball Players are more than interns. Ask them how they can allow workers to be asked to work year-round and not get paid. Ask them why it’s minor league organizations that are being threatened when the pay of the responsibility of Major League clubs. Ask them why they think this deserves to skip the methods other labor rules have to take. Ask them why baseball gets to be the exception.

Ask them why, just because it’s a game played by kids, does it not protect its players like adults.

Okay, that’s my political rant. I won’t do that often, but I feel very strongly about this issue. If players don’t get paid in the minors, they can not be in top shape. They can not stay healthy or well-fed. They can not support families that they are kept away from for months at a time. And, ultimately, it causes players to leave the game, or young athletes to choose other sports.

This will hurt baseball. Not tomorrow. But in the long run. And it will hurt real people tomorrow.

This is a baseball issue. I’m not a fan of the Player’s Union, but this is cheap baseball owners trying to save a buck rather than invest in the players who will (in their near-future) compose the teams they make their bucks on. It’s frustrating.

Back to the Giants-related stuff.

So the big news this week was the latest round of cuts by the Giants.

Here is the list of the 2nd Round of Cuts:

Optioned: RHP Tyler Beede, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez; OF Austin Slater and Mac Williamson

Reassigned: LHP Andrew Suarez; RHP Joan Gregorio and Jose Valdez; C Justin O’Conner, Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez; IF Orlando Calixte, Chase D’Arnaud and Kyle Jensen; OF Chris Shaw

There weren’t any terrible surprises in this list. There were some interesting battles going on in the outfield, but despite history and good springs, Slater and Williamson were among the likely picks to be sent down. Notably, Jarrett Parker remains in camp, protecting him from potentially have to go through waivers and being lost. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the veterans have opt outs and leave, however.

With this in mind, I’m going to pretend I’m Bobby Evans and give some of the big names a task for their upcoming time in the Minors.

Mac Williamson - Keep doing it.

Hank, as usual, has the unwanted rational thought. Mac made some big impressions early in Spring, but it was in the Spring. Can he keep this up? He needs to show some consistency with his new swing, that he can keep doing it day in and day out in Triple-A. He can definitely force his way back onto the 25-man roster.

Tyler Beede - Get it together.

Beede’s spring was the spring of nightmares for a guy who is a top prospect, and honestly is due to arrive this year. Things aren’t over for him, but as Hank says, he needs the changeup to be working. He also needs to figure out his out pitch, because too many balls are getting put into play and hit well.

Derek Law - Come Alive

A couple of years ago, Law was looking a lot like the future closer of the Giants. And then things fell apart. In 2013, across the low-level teams, he’d had 102 strikeouts in 66.1 IP. But even when he was successful in the high minors and the Majors, his rate dropped to a little under one per inning. The difference is, he is getting pounded, hit harder and more balls in play going for hits. The life on his pitches just seems to be gone, the ones that got soft contact. He went through this in 2015 once, too, at Double-A. Maybe he can look to whatever changes he made then to fix things.

Austin Slater - Play Fogerty’s “Center Field” to Manager Dave Brundage. A Lot.

It seems that the Giants are going to value defensive versatility in their backup outfielders. Slater’s been having a good Spring, but the thing that might put him over the top is a proving he can be a decent fill-in in center field. He doesn’t have to be Steven Duggar defensively, but maybe Aaron Rowand level. If he does that, he might have that magic key for the Majors.

Chris Shaw - Cut Down On The Strikeouts

Of Shaw’s 34 spring at-bats, 13 ended in strikeouts (38.2%), while only 11 ended in hits or walks. Last year, he had 132 strikeouts in 469 at-bats (28.1%). Now, Shaw is a slugger, and strikeout rates for his type of hitter will always be high. But that’s too high. He needs to be better than this to compete for a major league job, especially with how players like Mac Williamson are hitting.

Hector Sanchez - Don’t Go To Someone In The NL West

I don’t know if Sanchez is going to try and find another team to hook onto, but for heaven’s sake, if he leaves, please not to an NL West team. Not a team that’ll face the Giants. I hear the AL has some nice teams, Hector. Please? (Or, you know, stay with Sacramento!)

Joan Gregorio - Don’t Take Any Pills Anyone Offers (not even friends and supposed doctors)

Let’s just try to move on from that suspension, okay? Oh, and it’s time to convert to the bullpen and see what you can do there.

Good Prospect-ish Impressions This Week:

Gorkys Hernandez - He’s kind of become the also-ran in the outfielder’s market, but his week was a 6-for-10 week with two doubles, a walk and a stolen base and just one strikeout. His spring batting line went from .185/.290/.333 at the start of the week to .297/.381/.459. Not a bad week, but perhaps a little too late.

Tyler Rogers - I know, I know, he’s kind of my favorite, but he made his first appearance in the Major League camp since the end of February, and had a 4-pitch inning. He threw two strikes, one ball, and one hit batter (and was helped by the hit batter getting caught stealing by Trevor Brown). All-in-all, 3.2 IP is the epitome of SSS, but after a rough first outing, he’s gotten his last eight outs in a total of 10 pitches, and the only players to get on base were hit with pitches. Sure, he’s not making the team out of spring training, but I’m still rooting for him.

Bad Prospect-ish Impressions This Week:

Sam Dyson - Ouch. Five earned runs in 2.1 IP this week, with two home runs allowed, a walk and four strikeouts. See Schulman’s tweet below.

Jose Dominguez - Dominguez got into one game this week, and gave up three earned off of three hits and two walks allowed, getting just one out. Dominguez was signed to the Giants organization in 2017, but missed all of the season while on the Restricted List. Dominguez last pitched in 2016 with the Padres, putting up a 5.05 ERA in their bullpen over 34 games.

Schulman Addresses the Outfielder Situation

This is a 5-tweet-long tweetstorm discussing all the sides of the outfield situation. Everything he says are things I would repeat, but I’ll let you read it from his words by clicking on the tweet above.

For complete reading on this, you should look at Andrew Baggarly’s write up of the demotions. I won’t quote an article behind a paywall. That said, I will tell you that Mac’s quotes sound like a man trying to very carefully not show his frustration, which totally and completely sounded like a frustrated player. But he’s made changes that are worthwhile, and as Schulman says, the Giants won’t force Pence into a starting spot if he doesn’t look like the best option all season.

Finances And Bullpens

Hold onto your cats…

Sam Dyson has thrown 5.2 innings, and has given up 10 hits, two of which were home runs. As with everything in the spring, he gets a SSS warning, but that .370 average against and 2.12 ERA is not looking good.

Meanwhile, Derek Holland is still in that discussion for a starter spot, and he or Blach could also fit as long relievers. But this raises some interesting questions for the bullpen. After how he finished the year, Dyson was looking like a strong 8th inning option, as a strong right-hander. But even after Kyle Crick got traded, Hunter Strickland looks like he might be inheriting the role with his own strong spring.

There’s also the thoughts of keeping the wild but exciting Julian Fernandez, but I believe that will take a trade to keep him in the minors.

Speaking of the Fun that Julian Is

Okay, maybe it’s not as much fun if you’re the batter with a pitcher who seems to have no idea where it’s going, but…yeah.

As a sidenote, who thought it was a good idea to have the Giants wear green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys when playing the A’s?

It Doesn’t Mean Anything, But Just So You Know…

With Williamson and Jensen sent down, I’m doubtful this will last.

Jacob Gonzalez Hit In The Head

Goddammit. Last year, Ryder Jones took a friendly fire incident from Matt Krook in the Sacramento-San Jose game, and now this.

The good news is the following news that a concussion was not incurred, although a cut was.

I don’t know if we have anyone in minor league camp to see if Jacob is still getting into games. But hopefully he’ll be checking out that new stadium in Augusta.

Why Aren’t You Following Roger on Twitter???

Roger and I got to hang out for a bit last week, but Roger stuck around far longer than I did, as I did some…uh, research for a project I hope you’ll get to see in the near-ish future. And he was posting regularly on Twitter, with plenty of notes. This is the kind of thing that Twitter is made for. I’ll include some of his tweets, but I recommend you check out his timeline @rog61.

Gustavo Cabrera Has Retired

Very sad news to hear. The 22-year old Cabrera had been an inspiring story after a terrible hand and wrist injury. Cabrera had been considered a top prospect before his injury. The Giants signed him to a $1.3 million bonus back in 2012, when he was ranked 5th by Baseball America among international prospects, but suffered the injury after falling onto a piece of glass in November of 2013.

Cabrera struggled in his first significant action back, batting .241/.288/.393 between Augusta and Salem-Keizer in 2016. But he looked good in 16 games last year at Salem-Keizer, batting .294/.345/.549.

You never like to see someone walk away from the game, but this one is different from others. It’s tough.

The Nurse And The Big Unit

Conner Nurse, Giants minor leaguer, loves sharing things on Reddit. This week, he shared a photo he got taken with former Giant Randy Johnson (this blog may be the only place you ever read people write his name that way). I definitely recommend checking it out. Nurse also posted his first pro headshot there.

Nurse has indicated he’s planning to do an AMA later this year. When I hear about it, I’ll give you guys a heads up. He might just be even more social media active than Hunter Pence and Matt Paré.

Pronunciations and Accents

Note that they didn’t include the minor leaguers. Allow me to help with a key one, in a pop culture that, frankly, they should do all pronunciation guides.

How to pronounce Heliot Ramos’ name, pop-culture style.

Copa De La Diversion Announced, New Team Alter-Identities

Copa De La Diversion translates to “Fun Cup”, and MiLB is trying to use it to better represent the Latino culture than just putting “Los” in front of team names on jerseys one day a week. The teams will play at least three games as their alternate personas, and MiLB indicates the various teams will average five games.

But the Copa De La Diversion will be a real trophy that will be awarded to somebody. It will tour the various teams, and be awarded based on a formula based on converting fans into new attendees, how new foods are received, merchandise sales, and more.

Two Giants affiliates will participate:

Sacramento goes to the “Dorados”, which roughly translates to the “Golden” according to Google Translate, although if someone can provide better context, please do. The Luchador mask logo (and the teal blue) look amazing though.

San Jose turns into the Gigantes, which isn’t exactly new. Their new hat? They made the logo gigantic. Not very creative, but the team already had incorporated the Hispanic identity for some time, and their mascot Gigante is not just for special events.

Here we have all 33 new logos and identities, albeit without a key. Any favorites?

There are some lazy ones (I’m looking at you Lake Elsinore and El Paso, just changing colors to the Mexican flag), but some amazing ones like the Caballos de Stockton, the Cielo Azul Oklahoma City, the Brooklyn Jefes, and the Cazadores de Tormentas Beisbol Omaha. And some rather….curious choices like the Chanclas de San Antonio and the Corpus Christi Raspas.

Meanwhile, there were a couple of other uniform-related notes for our minor league affiliates.

Gold pullover jerseys for the River Cats? That looks very, very nice.

San Jose Churros? This trend of minor league teams turning into foods is getting crazy…but I love me some Churros.