Category: baseball

Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

It was September 3, 2017, Brent Honeywell Jr. took the mound for the Durham Bulls in front of just 3,073 fans at Coolray Field against the Gwinnett Braves. He went 5.1 innings that day, striking out five and giving up no runs. His first strikeout victim of the game was Ronald Acuna Jr., another of the strikeout victims that day was first baseman Matt Tuiasosopo. 16 days later Honeywell took the mound against the Memphis Redbirds and the Bulls won the Triple-A National Championship.

In 2018 the Gwinnett Braves were rebranded the Gwinnett Stripers, Acuna made his big-league debut and won Rookie of the Year, Tuiasosopo was out of affiliated ball and retired after a season in the Indy ball circuit. Meanwhile, Honeywell was out the entire season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training and ending up going under the knife for Tommy John Surgery.

Fast forward to April 11, 2021, Acuna is in year three of an eight-year $100 million dollar contract, Tuiasosopo is the manager for that Gwinnett Stripers club, and Honeywell finally made his long-awaited MLB debut against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. There have been 1,316 days between that outing at Coolray Field in 2017, exactly 1,300 since a game that counted, and his debut in 2021, and Honeywell had thrown precisely zero pitches in a regular season game.

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Throughout that time, Honeywell wound up undergoing four separate elbow surgeries and went from the guy with the most talked about pitch among prospects, his plus screwball, and flirting with being a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, to a guy MLB.com has ranked at the 19th ranked prospect in the Rays system.

Still, when he toed the rubber at the Trop on Sunday afternoon, it was truly a goosebump inducing moment for all that had followed his career, and he shut down all six Yankees he faced, two via the strikeout.

Despite only pitching the first two innings of the game, those weren’t without high tension moments. Austin Meadows was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, Honeywell was asked if he considered taking justice into his own hands, he replied “I think I took justice into my own hands and shut them down for the two (innings) I was able to work.”

The Rays wound up falling 8-4 and Honeywell was optioned back down to the alternate site after the game, but Honeywell has plenty of confidence he will be back, saying “I know I belong here.”

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

It was not the start to his Colorado Rockies career that Austin Gomber had envisioned, opening the game with a walk, E1, walk, then allowing Mookie Betts to score on a wild pitch that really should have been an out at the plate had Gomber held onto the ball. His first inning wound up with a stat line of three runs on zero hits that ended with a cannon of a throw from Charlie Blackmon to double up Max Muncy at third base on a sac fly from Gavin Lux.

The second inning didn’t start out much better as Gomber gave up a leadoff double followed by a sac bund before walking Betts a second time. Betts proceeded to be thrown out attempting to steal second and Gomber escaped the second without any damage. He got out of the third unscathed despite walking the leadoff hitter, then got the Rockies first hit of the game in the bottom of the third and was replaced on the mound by Chi Chi Gonzalez in the fourth.

That was one of only three hits Julio Urias gave up in his season debut, the last coming in the eight inning on an infield single by Ryan McMahon who eventually came around to score on a double by Garrett Hampson off Jimmy Nelson.

The first run of the game to come off a base hit was a solo home run by Will Smith to lead off the top of that eighth against Robert Stephenson.

In the end, it was a quickly played game, nine minutes shy of three hours that saw eight total hits and the Dodgers coming out on top 4-2 despite on the back of that three run, no hit first inning. Gomber loses his Rockies debut while Julio Urias picks up his first win of the season and Cory Knebel his first save.

DraftKings MLB Tournament Lineup – 4/1/21

Is there a better day of the year than Opening Day? In honor of my favorite day of the year, here’s the DK tournament lineup to make you rich.
Early in the season, your biggest opportunities to field a powerful lineup is the lag in which it takes pricing to catch up to new aces. If you want to start the powerful Dodgers in hitter friendly Coors? Ok. Then you need to either punt multiple positions or find value with your starting pitchers.
You won’t see Woodruff and Alcantara available at these prices by June, or maybe even May. Now is the time to pounce. Here is today’s money maker. Use it. Or don’t, and let me get rich alone.

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

World Series ChampionsToronto Blue Jays
AL PennantToronto Blue Jays
NL PennantLos Angeles Dodgers
AL EastNew York Yankees
AL CentralChicago White Sox
AL WestOakland Athletics
AL Wild CardToronto Blue Jays
AL Wild CardMinnesota Twins
NL EastAtlanta Braves
NL CentralMilwaukee Brewers
NL WestLos Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild CardSan Diego Padres
NL Wild CardNew York Mets
AL MVPMatt Chapman 
AL Cy YoungLucas Giolito
AL ROYBobby Dalbec
NL MVPFernando Tatis Jr.
NL Cy YoungJacob deGrom
NL ROYKe’Bryan Hayes
Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Spring Training of 2021 is as unique as there has ever been. Typically the oddities are limited to seeing minor league guys come up wearing a number in the 70s or 80s pinch hitting with the massive MiLB dual flapped helmet while listening to the announcers shuffling through their notes to try and find the player’s name. Instead, the minor league guys are wearing single flapped helmets and there aren’t any call ups for the day thanks to the limited number of players in camp, but the rest of the game has gone odd, here are the ones that stand out:

7 inning Games

The default length of a game this Spring is just 7 innings. With the previously mentioned limited rosters there aren’t the guys to fill out the 8th and 9th inning duties, so most games end after seven, which is just weird to watch MLB games essentially last as long as a local High School game.

6 Inning Games

If 7 inning games are odd, 6 inning games are downright bizarre. In no level of baseball are there games scheduled to go just 6 innings, except Spring Training 2021. A number of games have been scheduled to go just six due to pitching availability.

8.5 Inning Game

The March 4 game between the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks was scheduled to go 8.5 games regardless of the score. The D-Backs happened to be up 9-2 after the top of the 8th, so the box score looks normal, but had the score been flipped, there still would not have been a bottom of the 9th!

Double Walkoff

On March 2, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 after 6 innings thanks to not one, but two winning free passes. Bases loaded tied 2-2 with Christopher Sanchez in the mound, Riley Adams gets hit by the pitch to give the Blue Jays the 3-2 victory. One problem, the Phillies wanted to see more from Sanchez, so they allow Phillip Clarke to step into the batter’s box where he proceeds to draw a walk to walk it off….again.

Free Substitutions

Also on March 2, John Means got the start on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees. Means gave up a single, fly out, single, groundout, single and was pulled from the game in favor of Jay Flaa who got a fly out to end the inning. Fast forward to the top of the second, replacing Flaa on the mound was, yup, John Means! He after struggling with his feel in the first he took a breather then went back out despite having already been removed from the game and finished the second inning on his own, but only going 1.2 innings.

Box Score Glitches

So, this one is more of a glitch, or somebody asleep on the job, or both, but the Phillies-Yankees game from Sunday March 7 showed a bizarre scenario. DJ LeMahieu lined out for the first out of the second inning before Aaron Judge is called out on strikes for out number two, then it gets weird. I have yet to confirm what actually happened, mainly because I don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story, but apparently Zach Britton, the pitcher, “starts inning at 3rd base” despite there having already been a grand slam earlier in the inning and he was not on base, and he is immediately out at third. No explanation, not play-by-play just out at third. The box score after the game does not list Britton as having participated in the game, and the Yankees opened the next inning with Aaron Hicks, who was batting behind Judge in the lineup.

Reactions to the new MiLB/MLB Agreement

Reactions to the new MiLB/MLB Agreement

Major League Baseball sent out a press release on Friday, February 12 announcing all 120 Minor League Baseball teams, their affiliations, and highlighting some features of the agreement. All 120 teams have agreed to 10-year deals, meaning there will not be the every-other year shuffle of affiliates so fans really start following a given team’s system that plays in their town for the next decade. Every team that was extended an invitation to be among the affiliated clubs accepted, with the only one that did leave some doubt being the Fresno Grizzlies as they dropped from Triple-A all the way down to Low-A.

Much has been made of the less than creative league names, but that is sure to change sooner than later, and there is plenty of question about how the 2021 season will look given the ongoing pandemic, but what about the long-term implications of the deal? Let’s dive into the good, the bad, the misleading, and some wish list items that has come out of the deal.

Good

10-year deal: This is big, the mass shuffle of affiliates is now a thing of the past and the clubs can truly market themselves as an extension of the big-league club they are affiliated with. No longer will we see a team like the Lancaster Jethawks (more on them in the bad) who were affiliated with five different big-league clubs in their 24 seasons.

Low-A Warm Weather: This one is easy to overlook, but the swapping of progression for most teams at the A ball level makes much more sense now compared to the past. No longer will we see players make their full season debut, in April, in Ohio or Michigan, or Wisconsin, instead they will be in Florida, California, or the Carolinas. It may not seem like much, but there is enough of an adjustment for a high school draftee transitioning into pro ball without many having to pitch in near freezing temps for the first time.

Bad

42 Cities Removed: There are now 43 cities across the county that used to have an affiliated minor league club that don’t anymore. This means states like Colorado go from having multiple minor league teams to none, while states like Montana have no affiliated baseball of any kind in their state any longer. True, many have turned into summer collegiate leagues or independent teams, but a place like Lancaster, California lost their 25th season to the pandemic and currently sit with no immediate plans to host a baseball team any longer.

Shortened Draft: The draft has been shortened from 40 rounds to 20. This is not a massive issue since the great majority of big-league ballplayers are either international signings or were drafted in the top five rounds, but it cuts the number of players who get to call themselves pros in half.

Misleading

Salary Increases: In the release, the first bullet point of the “many improvements” is a 38-72% increase in player salaries. This was much needed but is also highlights just how bad player salaries were. JJ Cooper of Baseball America helped crunch the numbers and Rookie level salaries (yes, there is still Rookie ball, but complex only) went from $290/week to $400/week. Both levels of A ball went from $290/week up to $500/week (the biggest jump of any level), while Double-A now gets paid $600/week compared to $350/week and Triple-A jumps to $700/week from the old rate of $502/week. Players only get paid during the season, so 6 months of A ball means a player makes roughly $13,500/year while Triple-A players make $18,200. Compare that to the Triple-A player who is on a big-league deal with a minimum wage of $570,500, which would be $21,942.331/week if paid out over the same time frame. This means one player could make more in a single week than another makes for an entire season.

Better Geographical Alignment: The release points out that, on average, Triple-A clubs are more than 200 miles closer to their MLB affiliate than previous seasons. For the most part this is an improvement, but there are still some outliers that stick out like a sore thumb. The Colorado Rockies Triple-A affiliate is still down in Albuquerque, New Mexico but their Double-A affiliate remains all the way out in Hartford, Connecticut. Then there is the High-A East which has five teams in the North Division and seven in the South Division that will include bus rides from Brooklyn, New York down to Rome, Georgia and back. Sure, scheduling will likely have those teams make stops at other clubs along the way, but that doesn’t exactly scream “better geographical alignment”.

Modernized Facilities: Part of the agreements between the Minor League and Major League teams included requirements for improvements, modernization, and general upgrades for fans, players, and staff alike. At first glance this doesn’t seem like it could be anything but a good, but let’s take a look at why so many ballparks need improvements. The old California league teams, now mostly consisting of the Low-A West division, saw Bakersfield and High Desert run to the Carolina League back in 2016. The remaining teams didn’t have commitments for more than a handful of years, makes it tough to commit to sinking millions into ballpark improvements. Then there is the Rocky Mountain Vibes, formerly the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, who saw their Triple-A team move to Amarillo only to be replaced by a short-season club, then be eliminated from affiliated ball all together. It is no surprise, with all those moving parts and without a long-term commitment, the owners of the ballpark didn’t dig up right field and insert better irrigation at a field that would rain out with the sun shining because water would merely pool in the outfield rather than drain.

Wish List

MiLB TV Everywhere: Now that MLB has taken over operations of MiLB and there are long term commitments, there is no reason every club shouldn’t have their own broadcast team. This would take some time, but part of the modernization of the ballparks should come with the addition of camera wells and a broadcast booth ready for TV. MLB Network could then pick a Game of the Week to air mid-week, mid-day to fill programing but also allow fans to see the stars of the future and highlight great minor league cities.

Televise the Draft League: The Draft League, an amateur summer league run by MLB in conjunction with Prep Baseball Report, still has many questions looming, and it is not technically MiLB affiliated, but should have its own broadcasting package included in MiLB.tv.

Conference/Division Naming Contests: One of the many fun aspects of Minor League Baseball is the naming rights contests for teams when they move or re-brand that sees fans submitting crazy names and voting on them to determine what the team’s moniker will be moving forward (see Rocket City Trash Pandas). Why not take a big negative out of the announcement (uninspired league/conference/division names) and turn it into a positive by opening it up to a fan vote?

Allow Loans: Ok, this may be a wild idea on the surface, but stay with me. Under the new schedule of a July draft, teams will likely negotiate future contracts (i.e., drafted in 2021 but the contract begins in 2022), so why not allow teams that make up the Indy ball circuit loan those college draftees? This allows teams to sign a player to a same year contract, reducing the negotiation struggles sure to come with agents and teams arguing over when the contract begins, and let Indy teams bid to pay the player’s salary that summer in exchange for them suiting up for those teams. This wouldn’t work for top of the draft guys, and high school picks will likely head to the complex leagues but sending the 15th round college senior to the Missoula PaddleHeads helps strengthen the relationship with “partner leagues”.

The next twelve months will be fascinating to watch the minor league landscape settle in, but there are opportunities for Major League Baseball to better the game at the lower levels, and a season with so many moving parts as the 2021 season has is the perfect time to give it a shot.

MLB 2020 Season Projections

Baseball starts tonight and the playoff setup is still TBD. I have decided to put the seed number next to the division winners, then Wild Card spot 1-5 next to the potential Wild Card teams so you can see who makes it with standard 2 Wild Card scenarios, and who makes it based on the proposed 5 Wild Card scenario. With teams being separated by region in terms of schedule, it is worth noting I would consider the East to be the toughest, followed by the West, then the Central the easiest. In a traditional year, I would project the Pittsburgh Pirates to have the worst record in baseball, but the Central will allow them to win too many games to get the first pick in next year’s draft, so I project that to go to the Baltimore Orioles.

 

AL East

1)      Tampa Bay Rays (3 seed in playoffs)

2)      New York Yankees (1st Wild Card)

3)      Boston Red Sox (4th Wild Card)

4)      Toronto Blue Jays

5)      Baltimore Orioles

AL Central

1)      Cleveland Indians (1 seed in playoffs)

2)      Minnesota Twins (2nd Wild Card)

3)      Chicago White Sox (5th Wild Card)

4)      Kansas City Royals

5)      Detroit Tigers

AL West

1)      Houston Astros (2 seed in playoffs)

2)      Los Angeles Angels (3rd Wild Card)

3)      Oakland Athletics

4)      Seattle Mariners

5)      Texas Rangers

NL East

1)      Atlanta Braves (2 seed in playoffs)

2)      Washington Nationals (1st Wild Card)

3)      Philadelphia Phillies (2nd Wild Card)

4)      New York Mets (5th Wild Card)

5)      Miami Marlins

NL Central

1)      Cincinnati Reds (3 seed in playoffs)

2)      Milwaukee Brewers (4th Wild Card)

3)      Chicago Cubs

4)      St. Louis Cardinals

5)      Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West

1)      Los Angeles Dodgers (1 seed in playoffs)

2)      Arizona Diamondbacks (3rd Wild Card)

3)      San Diego Padres

4)      Colorado Rockies

5)      San Francisco Giants

 

World Series: Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Dodgers

Why it’s OK Derek Jeter Didn’t get 100%

Derek Jeter getting into the Hall of Fame with all but one vote has sparked plenty of debate. There are many reasons for him to have gotten 100%, but I think him falling shy of unanimous is actually the correct result.

Let’s start with the arguments for being the second ever unanimous member of Cooperstown. The simple fact Mariano Rivera earned 100% of the votes a season ago has eliminated the argument of those who have come before not receiving 100% as an argument. Babe Ruth should have been 100%, but you can no longer not vote for someone on that argument. There is also no questioning Jeter’s Hall of Fame resume, so he should land on all the ballots on that argument alone.

Now, for the reasons the one voter who did not vote for him got it right. The argument since the results were announced has been Jeter is easily a top four shortstop of all-time. A top four guy at his position, not top four player all-time, so should a guy you can’t really argue was the best at his own position get 100%, I argue no. On that, he wasn’t the best player of his time, never winning an MVP, and you can argue he wasn’t the best at his position at any point of his career. Cal Ripken Jr. was better than Jeter early on, and Alex Rodriguez was already in the big leagues when Jeter debuted, and he was the better player most of, if not their entire careers.

Now, there has often been an argument to spread out votes to players who need a boost or to keep them on the ballot an extra year, but the ballot was rather weak this season so that isn’t a valid argument. Another issue with the vote is the fact it is a secret ballot. Baseball writers vote for the Hall of fame, yet their names and ballots are not made public. Those who are tasked with writing the story of baseball literally vote for the stories, yet they are not made to make their opinions public. This needs to change and that may make it more common to see 100% vote getters, or at least make those who don’t vote for a guy like Jeter explain themselves. The writer who did not vote for Jeter has a quality argument for not voting, but the fans of the game do deserve an explication.

Shaun’s MLB Mock Draft

First Round Team Pick
1 Tigers Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
2 Giants Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
3 Phillies Nick Madrigal, MIF, Oregon State
4 White Sox Matt Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (AZ)
5 Reds Alec Bohm, 1B, Wichita State
6 Mets Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
7 Padres Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (FL)
8 Braves Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
9 A’s Cole Winn, RHP, Orange HS (CA)
10 Pirates Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor HS (AZ)
11 Orioles Jared Kelenic, Waukesha West HS (WI)
12 Blue Jays Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State
13 Marlins Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
14 Mariners Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida
15 Rangers Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS (TN)
16 Rays Ryan Rolison, LHP, Ole Miss
17 Angels Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida
18 Royals Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (GA)
19 Cardinals Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (FL)
20 Twins Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson
21 Brewers Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Clemson
22 Rockies Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights HS (TX)
23 Yankees Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (CA)
24 Cubs Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS (GA)
25 D-backs Noah Naylor, C, St. Joan of Arc Catholic HS (CAN)
26 Red Sox Tristan Casas, 1B, American Heritage HS (FL)
27 Nationals Mason Denaburg, RHP, Merritt Island HS (FL)
28 Astros Jake McCarthy, OF, Virginia
29 Indians Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (GA)
30 Dodgers Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State
Supplemental First Round    
31 Rays Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
32 Rays Anthony Siegler, C, Cartersville HS (GA)
33 Royals Nico Hoerner, SS, Stanford
34 Royals Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
35 Indians Jameson Hannah, OF, Dallas Baptist
Competitive Balance A    
36 Pirates J.T. Ginn, RHP, Brandon HS (MS)
37 Orioles Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Magnolia HS (TX)
38 Padres Parker Meadows, OF, Grayson HS (GA)
39 D-backs Nick Schnell, OF, Roncalli HS (IN)
40 Royals Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS (NC)
41 Indians Kris Bubic, LHP, Stanford
42 Rockies Kyler Murray, OF, Oklahoma
43 Cardinals Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Magnolia HS (TX)
Second Round    
44 Tigers Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (FL)
45 Giants Blaine Knight, RHP, Arkansas
46 White Sox Lenny Torres Jr., Beacon HS (NY)
47 Reds Sean Hjelle, RHP, Kentucky
48 Mets Alek Thomas, OF, Mt. Carmel HS (IL)
49 Braves Jeremiah Jackson, SS, St. Lukes (AL)
50 A’s Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, Wichita State
51 Pirates Cadyn Grenier, SS, Oregon State
52 Blue Jays Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (GA)
53 Marlins Mike Siani, OF, William Pen Charter (PA)
54 Mariners Daniel Lynch, LHP, Virginia
55 Rangers Aaron Hernandez, RHP, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
56 Rays Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Fivay HS (NC)
57 Angels Konnor Pilkington, LHP, Mississippi State
58 Royals Matt McClain, MIF, Beckam HS (CA)
59 Twins Kyle Isbel, OF, UNLV
60 Brewers Jonathan Ornelas, SS, Kellis HS (AZ)
61 Yankees Griffin Conine, OF, Duke
62 Cubs Grant Little, SS, Texas Tech
63 D-backs Colton Eastman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
64 Red Sox Owen White, RHP, Jesse C. Carson HS (NC)
65 Nationals Durbin Feltman, RHP, TCU
66 Astros Trey Riley, RHP, Logan (IL) JC
67 Indians Griffin Roberts, RHP, Wake Forest
68 Dodgers Joe Gray Jr., OF, Hattiesburg HS (MS)
Competitive Balance B    
69 Marlins Nick Decker, OF, Seneca HS (NJ)
70 A’s Tyler Frank, MIF, Florida Atlantic
71 Rays Zach Watson, OF, LSU
72 Reds Cole Sands, RHP, Florida State
73 Brewers Ryder Green, OF, Karns HS (TN)
74 Padres Tim Cate, LHP, Uconn
Supplemental Second Round    
75 Cardinals Terrin Vavra, SS, Minnesota
76 Rockies Cal Raleigh, C, Florida State
77 Cubs Osiris Johnson, SS, Encinal HS (GA)
78 Cubs Zack Hess, RHP, LSU

MLB 2015 AL Central Preview

After earning a Wild Card spot last year and going on a wild run into the World Series, the Kansas City Royals have lost James Shields, Billy Butler, and Nori Aoki, but don’t seem to have taken much of a step back at all. Their pitching staff will be lead by young phenom Yordano Ventura and they still have the best bullpen in baseball. Alex Rios looks good this spring, and could be a real offensive weapon if his thumb is healthy (I have my doubts), while Kendrys Morales looks to bounce back. The Cleveland Indians only big off-season addition was Brandon Moss, but their relatively young team will likely only get better. Last year Corey Kluber was a surprise Cy Young candidate, and they may have another this year in Carlos Carrasco. The Chicago White Sox made moves bringing in Jeff Samardzija and signed Melky Cabrera. Avisail Garcia has looked good in the spring, as have rookies Micah Johnson and Carlos Rodon. Rodon will start in Triple-A, but will be in the rotation this season and has the potential to be dominant while Johnson will likely be the opening day second baseman and number nine hitter. Both will improve the club that already had an underrated pitching staff and has a very good mix of power and speed. The long time favorites, the Detroit Tigers, are only getting older. Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are coming off surgery this off-season and Justin Verlander will start the year on the DL. They brought in Yoenis Cespedes, Anthony Gose, and Shaen Greene, but the bullpen that was their downfall last year is virtually unchanged. The Minnesota Twins have brought back fan favorite Torii Hunter, but are a clear bottom of the barrel in the division. Ervin Santana will miss 80 games due to a PED suspension, and the team really lacks a true star. This may be the year uber prospects Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and multiple highly touted pitching prospects make their big league debuts, so at least Twins fans have that to look forward to.

Projected Winner: This may be the toughest division to pick a winner, but the Indians are the favorite for me. They might have the best rotation in the division outside of Chicago, and they could also end up as the best offensive team in the division.

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps? I think it is almost a certainty one of the Wild Card spots comes from the Central, but which team is tough. Based on pure talent, the Tigers should be the team, but I think they finish fourth in the division. That leaves the White Sox and Royals. I would not be shocked if both teams earn a Wild Card bid, and the rest of the league should be scared if it is the White Sox as their potential playoff rotation could be the best in baseball. In the end, I think the Royals get the only Wild Card bid from the Central, but it will be close.