Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2015 MLB Update: 'The Two Escobars', 'Papi Don't Take No Mess', 'Yung Joc Pederson'

Alcides makes every play look routine.
The Washington Nationals and the Kansas City Royals might not be where they are right now (each leading their respective divisions) if it wasn't for two Escobar's, Yunel and Alcides (no relation).  Yunel, now an everyday third baseman (spent most of his first nine MLB seasons at shortstop), is batting .315 on the season, which if it holds up, would be his highest batting average since his rookie year in 2007 (.326 in 96 games for the Atlanta Braves, 355 plate appearances).  The 6-2, 215-pound Cuban already has three five hit games this season. No other MLB player has more than one. Alcides is a smooth fielding shortstop that has solidified his place at the top of the reigning AL champion Royals batting order. The Colombian lead-off man won't hit many homers (only 23 total in eight seasons) but he's good for grinding out at-bats and either drawing a walking or shooting one into a gap that finds outfield grass.  The fans elected Alcides to start at shortstop in the 2015 All Star game, the first all-star selection of his career.

He was a tough out for every pitcher in the 90s.
Who does Mariano Rivera and Pedro Martinez both say is the toughest hitter they ever faced in their hall-of-fame careers?  The answer to that would be Seattle Mariners legend Edgar Martinez. The hard-nosed, sweet swinging Puerto Rican played 18 seasons, all with the Mariners, and is widely considered the best designated hitter of all-time.  Martinez is still the only DH to ever win a batting title, leading the AL with a .356 batting average in 1995.  Always a fan favorite, "Papi" was hired by the Mariners in mid-June as the team's hitting coach, in part to bolster the fan base with a big name and to help Seattle's MLB-worst .229 team batting average.
Correa already looks like the next big thing at SS.
The youth movement is booming around the entire majors this season as several top prospects have already been called up from the minors and are making impacts for their respective big league ball clubs.  The list of call ups include Kris Bryant - Chicago Cubs, Carlos Correa - Houston Astros, Byron Buxton - Minnesota Twins, and Joey Gallo - Texas Rangers.  Correa might be the most intriguing prospect of them all (No. 1 pick, 2012 draft) as his skill set is reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez circa 1996.  At 6-4 and 210 pounds, he's already showing what he can running on the basepaths.  He had a three-steal game on June 18th that made him the the youngest player (20 years, 269 days) to have three swipes in a single outing since Rickey Henderson in 1979.  Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson started the season in the majors but he has to be mentioned in this youth movement.  Pederson has showed his propensity to put up big power numbers as evidenced by his HR total (20 through 83 games) and his five consecutive game HR streak earlier this year, making him the first ever Dodger rookie to put together such a streak.