THE NatsGM Show Episode #63, Sponsored by No Halftime, has arrived and we are pleased to welcome Contributor at Phillies Nation and Commentator for Ring of Honor, Ian Riccaboni!
The first half of our interview focuses on the Philadelphia Phillies and the overall state of their franchise. Ian shares his thoughts on the Cole Hamels and Ken Giles trades last year, plus young players such as Aaron Nola, Vincent Velasquez and J.P. Crawford.
Then at the 32:30 minute mark, the conversation shifts toward Ring of Honor and the world of professional wrestling. Ian discusses how he became involved in wrestling and serving as the commentator for Women of Honor and Future of Honor. Additionally Ian gives his thoughts on World Champion Jay Lethal, the upcoming Pay-Per-View Global Wars, and his wrestling nickname, TheRicca-business.
Thanks to Ian for joining me this week and to you for downloading. Please Rate, Review and Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes and Follow us on Twitter @Nats_GM.
After a lengthy hiatus, Joshua Kusnick and I are back with Episode #11 of THE Joshua Kusnick Experience!
This week unsurprisingly Joshus covers multiple wide-ranging topics – First we begin with sad news, noting the passing of Joshua’s Grandmother and Marlins beat writer Juan Rodriguez. We quickly transition into discussing the effect of now allowing high school players to be represented by “advisors” and the recent Adam & Drake LaRoche controversy. Next Josh talks about the recent article on, and success of, client Jeremy Jeffress. We then wrap up with Josh mentioning his skills hustling clients on the basketball court, playing “Pop-A-Shot” and his uncanny ability at carnival games.
Please Follow us on Twitter @JoshKusnickPod, thanks for listening!
Last Friday evening I braved the traffic south on I-95 to visit Woodbridge, as the Potomac Nationals were hosting the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the High-A affiliate for Kansas City. In particular, I was interested to observe and evaluate the first home start this season for right-handed pitcher Erick Fedde, one of the top prospects in the Nationals’ farm system.
Drafted 18th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, Fedde was a projected top-10 prospect before succumbing to injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery mere weeks before draft day. Listed at 6-4 180lbs Fedde possesses an ideal pitchers’ frame with a high waist, long limbs and projection remaining throughout his physique. He is an obvious athlete who possesses good speed and fields his position fairly well.
The 23-year-old Fedde throws from a 3/4s release point and utilizes a big leg-kick through his drop-and-drive delivery. He has a fast arm but there is plenty of effort in his delivery for a starting pitcher. Also he reaches the infamous “reverse W” position in his motion, often seen a precursor to arm injuries. However and most importantly, Fedde repeats his delivery relatively well overall.
On this evening Fedde featured a solid 4-pitch arsenal, specifically a 4-seam fastball, sinker, slider and changeup. His fastball sat 91-93mph, touching 94mph three times, with some sinking action. The sinker ranged 89-93mph in velocity with impressive armside movement and bored into right-handed batters. In fact, I counted Fedde with four broken bats through the first four innings. Fedde also showed an 81-84mph slider with excellent tilt and quick biting action. He threw it for called strikes and buried it in the dirt for whiffs. Finally he threw several 81-86mph changeups with inconsistent results – the arm speed replicated his fastball reasonably well and several showed tumbling armside fade, yet others resembled flat batting practice fastballs.
I left the game Friday both extremely cold and impressed with the overall talent of Erick Fedde. Overall I feel comfortable putting future grades of an above-average to plus (55/6) on his fastball, (55/5) on his slider and a (40/45) on his changeup with average to solid-average command of the strike zone. Combined with a repeatable delivery and noticeable athleticism, this package profiles as a low-end #3 or strong #4 starter in a big league rotation, far from a superstar but a solid mid-rotation arm. Fedde could reach Double-A later this season and arrive in Washington sometime late next season.
This past Sunday I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to travel to Hagerstown to watch a doubleheader between the home Suns and the visiting Delmarva Shorebirds. Certainly my eyes were focused on Victor Robles and the Suns, but I was curious to watch Delmarva’s D.J. Stewart, the Orioles 1st Round pick last summer as well.
Stewart was drafted following a standout career at Florida State with the reputation as a polished collegiate hitter who could move quickly through the minor leagues. Stewart is kindly listed at 6-0 230lbs, with thick legs and a round midsection. This hinders his foot speed, making the 22-year-old already a below-average runner.
At the plate Stewart shows a solid awareness of the strike zone, which allows him to see pitches and produce a healthy walk rate. His left-handed swing has some length to it, and he struggles hitting velocity on the inside half of the plate. Stewart does show some power, particularly to the pull side, though it feels more like his raw strength muscling the ball rather than a product of a quality swing. He does not possess elite bat speed or the sweetest swing, but I can envision a ceiling as a future “45-50/45-50” bat, hitting .260-.270 with 12-17 home runs a year.
Defensively Stewart has a solid, accurate throwing arm, but his poor speed and thick midsection makes him profile as a long-term left fielder. Stewart does show quality instincts in the outfield and a baseball savvy that should allow him to play a passable left field, but unless he reshapes his body, his defense will not play better than mediocre. This puts extreme pressure on his bat to carry him to the major leagues.
Overall Stewart is an interesting prospect, as he has a keen batting eye and obvious pull power, but his lack of athleticism is uniquely surprising for a 1st round pick. His ceiling is not particularly high because of his lack of a standout tool, but his ability to draw walks and hit the occasional home run, plus his draft pedigree, should give him a strong chance to reach the major leagues. The best case scenario has him serving as a starting everyday left fielder or the strong-side of a platoon, with the most likely result being Stewart settling in as a backup. This may feel slightly underwhelming for a 1st rounder, but Stewart should move quickly and could arrive in Baltimore in 2018.
LHP Garrett Cleavinger, Baltimore’s 3rd round pick last summer, entered in the 5th inning of Game 1 for the Shorebirds and immediately caught the attention of the entire scouting section. Cleavinger flashed an 89-93mph fastball with some late life, a hammer 73-77mph curveball with hard downward movement and a 82mph changeup. The almost 22-year-old is a thick, well-built, 6-1 210lbs with little projection remaining in his frame. His age, plus his lack of physical projection and a 3rd pitch, limits his ceiling as a prospect, but Cleavinger is a solid arm not receiving enough attention in Baltimore’s system. With some development, Cleavinger could develop two above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball, allowing him to profile as a future 7th/8th inning lefty reliever.