In a word, the market has been… frankly LEAN and the strangest I’ve seen. The highest price going to a potential CLOSER; this usually goes to a future CY Young Starter or MVP. That’s not to say Alex Javier ain’t worth it, it’s just unusual that’s all. So far a total of 42 IFAs have been signed by the 32 teams. I’m not going to look at them all but let’s look at the 2 million plus group. I’ve always thought “If I’m going to spend 2 Mill or more on a guy, he’d BETTER be future ML material”. This is MY opinion from my 17 seasons of HBD. I’m rather frank with MY opinion in some cases here. I’ve been known to be wrong (actually is happens quite a bit). My hope here is help new owners assess talent not slam any particular owner etc.
Fargo Dirtbags: Alex Javier – Closer. Bonus: 15 Million. Contract: ML 5 yr @ 54.5k
Well in a couple of seasons Fargo could very well have a guy that could win both the Fireman Award & CY Young. Alex has what you want in a closer: Good Durability – he can take the mound often; He’s Stamina is good enough that he can pitch the WHOLE 9th and if need be, part of the 8th; Good Velocity, Solid Control, Great Splits and of course 2 solid pitches. ENOUGH SAID
Chicago Cubs: Alex Seanz – 2B Bonus: 12.1 Million. Contract: MiLB/invite
Alex will take about 4 or so years to get the ML level. But when he does, the Cubs will have themselves a solid 2B on their hands. Good Fielding ratings for 2B (not Gold Glove material though). His potential hitting ratings are all above average for the ML level (again no Batting Champ or HR leader here). His best asset for offence is Speed with a great Base Running rating. I see Alex in the lead off role for the Cubs in year 5.
Memphis Short Grass: Julio Mendoza – 3B, COF. Bonus: 11 Million. Contract: MiLB
Julio will definitely hit in the majors. He should hit in high .290s or low .300s with 30+ HRs. Thing with Julio is while he will have the glove, arm & accuracy of a ML SS, he will not have even close to the range needed. A minor problem really, his future ratings put him as a potential Gold Glove at 3rd and that ain’t shabby. So a gold glove 3rd baseball with an above average bat, in HBD defence DOES matter so IMO opinion he’s worth the price.
Boise Buckskins: Damaso Ramirez – SU/CL? Bonus 10.9 Million. Contract: MiLB
Damaso is going to have the pitch quality you’d love to see in a starter (and a little bit more). BUT he will not have the stamina of one. Well that means the bullpen. He'll either be a Set up/Closer or a Long man. Either way, Boise is going to have to watch his PC, so he doesn’t get too tired because his durability is low as well. The major drawback with Damaso – HEALTH!!! My opinion while he could be a good one… over 10 million is too much to pay with these questions.
San Juan Dead Bunnies: Junior Tabaka – DH/1B Bonus: 8.5 Million. Contract: MiLB
Junior is the proto-typical Catcher who should be a DH/1B. You’ll see a LOT of these in HBD! Ok, you will not see a lot with his ratings though. Who cares if he’s a lousy catcher who can’t call a game and couldn’t throw out a runner to save his life. Give him a bat and let put dents in the baseball! That’s what DH/1B is for! Junior will hit for both power and average. The only thing about these DH/1B catchers is their stamina is a bit low and their health can be below average – it’s a Catcher thing. BUT Junior is worth every penny of the bonus bucks.
Pawtucket Patriots: Damaso Brogna – RF/1B Bonus: 7.6 Million Contract: ML 3 yr @54.5K
This guy has the potential to be an All Star at the ML level. He’ll hit for power and average, he has good speed etc. Solid all-around hitter, he will not win a batting crown etc BUT he’ll be in the top 25 of HRs and BA that’s for sure. The thing is he’s at least 4 years away from the ML and should be in A-Ball not AA. But if Pawtucket has one heck of a Batting Coach there, that will help.
Atlanta Bandits: Donaldo Lopez - SU Bonus: 6.0 Million Contract: MiLB
Donaldo will take awhile to develop but he should become a decent Set Up guy at the ML level. He will not have the pitches for a closer. BUT he should do very well for 7th or 8th inning man. Solid control, great splits and 3 above average pitches (though none will be 80+) means some quality innings. Is he worth 6 big ones….. time will tell.
Baltimore Iron Birds: Victor Gonzales – CF Bonus: 5.0 Million Contract: MiLB
Victor will be a solid CF, but not All Star stuff. He has a good glove and the range for CF and his hitting ratings are good. He’ll hit around .280 with 20+ long flies. Nothing wrong with any of that, from a guy who will be a steady ML CF. Just not a perennial all star.
Pawtucket Patriots: Ugueth Montanez – 2B/COF Bonus: 4.6 Million Contract: MiLB
Here is a prospect that should be a good lead off guy. Will have a very good contact rating, a good batting eye and decent splits with very little power. He’s already got great speed but needs to develop his base running skills (at present he’s getting thrown out 1/3 of the time – not good). Once this done, you’ve got a lead off guy. The only thing is his glove and arm strength aren’t quite up to ML 2B standards; maybe a COF?
Trenton Traffic: Rico Johnson – RF/1B Bonus: $4.3 Million Contract: MiLB
Rico is another one of HBD’s RF/1B boys. His will be a bat Trenton will want in the line up. While Batting Eye & Contract ratings will be average; he’ll have above average power and splits. So, you’ve got a guy who’ll contribute offensively – he’ll hit about .300 and hit 30+ HRs. I don’t know any owner who’d not want Rico in the line up.
Cincinnati Dragons: Enrique Melendez – Mop UP Bonus: $4.0 Contract: MiLB
I will say sorry now for what’s about to follow. Enrique will be at BEST an AA/AAA Mop Up Pitcher. Sure his stamina is ok, as is his control & velocity BUT his splits are marginal even for AAA but that could be overcome if his pitch quality was great. IT AIN"T! Three pitches & not one will be over 70… means trouble at the AAA or ML level for a 3-Pitch Pitcher. He’ll struggle even at the AAA level. IMO a waste of 4 mill. Better hope for DiTR here.
Milwauke Manic Maulers: David Mendez – C Bonus $3.6 Contract: MiLB/invite
A catcher who’ll have a good PC rating AND will hit….is rare in HBD. So, in Mendez the Maulers have got IT. The only thing with Mendez is his potential Durability and Health. Even if Milwaukee can keep him healthy, he’ll only give them about 300-350 ABs at the ML level. Means platoon catcher. Even with this drawback, he’s definitely worth a flyer at the $ the Maulers paid.
Las Vegas Gamblers: R.J. Guardado – DH/1B Bonus: $3.6 Contract: MiLB
Here is another type of player you’ll see a lot of in HBD – the DH/1B. R.J. with hit for power and a decent BA. While not MVP or All Star material, still a solid ML bat. Again a drawback here his durability (in the 60s), so he’ll be platoon material at first. This lowers his overall value IMO because 1B is not really a spot you want to platoon at.
Durham Entombed Spiders: Manual Bautista – CF Bonus $3.2 Contract: MiLB
Bautista will be a solid ML OF with decent speed and should develop good base running ability. Again there is a BUT, guys with low contact ratings should at least have a real good power rating – Manual doesn’t. Offset those Ks with some HRs but he won't. His splits and eye will be above average for ML hitter, not enough to make up for the low contact rating. Overall a guy will bat in the bottom 1/3 of the order. I see Manual as a bench guy at a ML level.
Houston Oilers: Victor Vargas – CL? Bonus $3.0 Contract: MiLB
Once again another “type” of player you tend to see a lot of in HBD. The pitcher with great control, great splits, velocity, pitches…… BUT a very low stamina rating. These guys struggle to pitch a whole inning in an appearance. Once they go past 2-3 batters, they usually get SHELLED!! You’d think – specialist (either L or R doesn’t matter), the thing is, HBD coaches don’t seem to know how to use a specialist correctly. Doesn’t seem to matter if set up or closer, they're very erratic in their performance – one year unhittable, the next….grapefruit city.
Trenton Traffic: Aurelio Prieto – RF/1B Bonus: $3.0 Contract: MiLB
The Traffic again score a RF/1B guy. What I wrote about Rico Johnson can be repeated here. That is with one difference though, Aurelio’s health rating is marginal. Still, for the price.. he’s worth it.
Cleveland Skidmarks: Oswaldo Rodrigo – LR Bonus $2.8 Contract: MiLB
Oswaldo is a marginal AAA prospect pitcher at best. Should have good stamina and good control, but his splits are well below what they should be for a ML pitcher. His pitch quality is also suspect with only 2 that will be barely over average; the other 2 are well below average. Cleveland has put this guy at AA (too high IMO), he’ll most likely struggle at this level with present ratings.
San Juan Dead Bunnies: Wilfredo Padilla – LR Bonus $2.1 Contract: MiLB
Read the review above, cause the exact same applies to Wilfredo. While his pitch quality is slightly better than Oswaldo, as is his velocity and he’s a ground ball pitcher. BUT his durability is below average. Again this is a marginal AAA pitching prospect. Both Oswaldo and Wilfredo are examples of pitchers who's overall rating is 70+ (the general waterline for a potential MLer) but aren't ML material.