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Old 08-15-2019, 11:30 PM   #441
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Rondeau signs with El Paso!

Pat Rondeau parlayed his career year into a pretty lucrative 3-year deal with the El Paso Dawgs.
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The reigning MGL batting champ, who had come up through the Brewers farm system and been a member of the big league club since late in the 1966 season, will be missed in Denver and indications are that the fans are not happy about his loss, with fan interest looking to be its lowest point in several years.

Still, the Brewers front office remains committed to building the team up around youngsters like Joe McPhillips, Jonathan Koch, and Josh Schaeffer.
What will it take to get the fans on board again?
Well, winning would help.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:23 AM   #442
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***The View from Outside the Park***

So I have reached January 1st of 1974 in the WPK universe.

As some of you may remember, one of the processes I have added on (largely analog) to the WPK is a way of identifying when former WPK players die. At this stage of WPK history the oldest former player is only 50 and of course the process is set up so that death is far more likely in the higher age cohorts. At this point only the youngest age grouping (up to 44 years old) and the second age grouping (45-54) are even represented, therefore deaths are still relatively unlikely. Since creating the process no deaths have been identified.
The way the process works is that I check on possible deaths just once a calendar year, on January 1st.
So, spoiler alert. This year we will experience our first WPK former player death. I won't give much more away right now but I will say that sometime during the upcoming season tragedy will befall a former player. Not someone who had a significant career in the WPK, not someone you will have heard of, but a dramatic and sad death nevertheless. Stay tuned.

Just a few other quick thoughts before we return to regularly scheduled programming:

1) The further along this save goes the more I find myself slowing down. Not out of a waning interest in the WPK but quite the opposite. Every little thing in this league fascinates me. So I don't want to miss anything and in spite of the fact that I'm eager to get the 1974 season started I also don't want to speed through the off-season and miss anything juicy. Every trade or free agent signing is interesting to me, every former player being signed to a coaching position, even many of the transactions involving career minor leaguers fascinate me. I try to be selective of which things that fascinate me I share here, but apologies to anyone who finds this too slow moving and detailed. I will continue to attempt to find a good balance.

2) Every year I say to myself that I won't sign any free agents, other than some veterans who I can sign to minor league contracts to help fill out the organization. And almost every year I start to feel panicky as other teams grab up free agent after free agent and I often give in and finally sign someone. And usually regret it soon after. Granted, two of the biggest name Brewers- Cheol-han Lee and Ryan Rodgers- were free agent acquisitions. I was nearly tempted recently to sign the best free agent starting pitcher still on the market (a fan favorite, which would have helped boost our fan interest a bit) but he was grabbed up by the Detroit Falcons instead. And I was almost relieved. Our budget at this point is the 3rd highest in the league while our payroll continues to drop in the rankings with every free agent signing by other clubs and I believe we have fallen to 9th at this point. I'm okay with that as I am committed to a home grown youth movement. But in order to keep our fans and the owner happy that better lead to contention this coming season.

3) A few of the things that I think are the biggest keys to success for the Brewers in 1974:
Joe McPhillips must stay healthy and start to display some of the superstar talent our scouting staff believes he has. (There have been hints of this, but we need it to develop more consistently.) And Steve Green needs a bounce back season and needs to start proving that he is the capable middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher our scouting staff believes he is.
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:53 PM   #443
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Originally Posted by BirdWatcher View Post
So I have reached January 1st of 1974 in the WPK universe.



1) The further along this save goes the more I find myself slowing down. Not out of a waning interest in the WPK but quite the opposite. Every little thing in this league fascinates me. So I don't want to miss anything and in spite of the fact that I'm eager to get the 1974 season started I also don't want to speed through the off-season and miss anything juicy. Every trade or free agent signing is interesting to me, every former player being signed to a coaching position, even many of the transactions involving career minor leaguers fascinate me. I try to be selective of which things that fascinate me I share here, but apologies to anyone who finds this too slow moving and detailed. I will continue to attempt to find a good balance.
Agree with savoring the details as they take place. It allows you to appreciate the subtle events along with the more profound ones.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:22 PM   #444
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Denver Brewers prospects update

It's a little late in the off-season to just be getting to this but let's take a quick look at some of the key prospects in the Brewers organization and how 1973 treated them.

We'll start with the player many believe is the top Brewers prospect: outfielder Jorge Gonzalez. Gonzalez was first signed by the Brewers shortly before his 17th birthday as a scouting discovery out of the Dominican Republic. He started the 1973 season playing for the Brewers class A affiliate in Bainbridge, New York. He had struggled a bit playing for this same team all of the 1972 season, putting up -0.1 WAR, striking out 102 times while walking just 23 times. But at the beginning of the 1973 season, in 28 games at Bainbridge, Gonzalez punished A level pitching with a .385/.451/.587 slash line. At that point he was promoted to AA Nashville where he would play the rest of the season. He wasn't horrible, but he regressed a bit at the next level and put up just 0.8 WAR there. His strikeout rate (17.8%) did improve a bit over 1972 but his walk rate at Nashville was the worst of his professional career thus far (3.2%) Still, the Denver scouting staff sees him as having above average big league potential, with a chance for great contact skills and above average power to go along with strong defensive skills and good speed. He's a typical toolsy Brewers outfield prospect with some raw edges still needing development.
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Second baseman David Bennett, on the other hand, doesn't possess all the raw talent of Gonzalez but seems to be plenty polished at age 23. He built upon a really fine 1972 season at single A Bainbridge with an even more impressive 1973 season at AA Nashville. Recent indications are that Bennett's contact skills may be even better than earlier forecast and that is certainly helped by his extremely advanced ability to avoid being struck out (he dropped from a 10.0% K rate in '72 to 6.0% in '73.) While he has decent speed his base running skills are expected to be very poor but interestingly his BSR in 1973 was 4.9 compared to -0.5 the season before. His wRC+ was 150 (up from 142 in '72.) While his defensive range isn't spectacular, he is great on the pivot and overall a well above average second baseman. He has decent over-the-fence power, especially for a player his size, though his gap power is deficient. Bennett does not profile as a star in the WPK but the last few seasons he has perhaps been the best hitter in the Brewers minor league system.
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Probably the best pitching prospect in the system is reliever Mike Lizarraga. Lizarraga has had very little success in his minor league career but the scouting staff still sees him as profiling as a future key member of the Denver bullpen. He is a high energy, hard working, smart player. At this time he has an above average cutter and an above average curveball but both pitches have the potential to develop into plus or even plus plus pitches. He has acceptable control and decent movement and if and when his two pitches to develop a bit more he has the potential for great stuff. He is also abnormally good at holding runners for a right handed pitcher.
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Another young arm to keep an eye on is John Weaver, who just turned 21 a few days ago. Weaver has had two decent if unspectacular season in a row and is a hard-thrower with already a plus fastball that has the potential to be one of the best in the game. His change-up could still develop a bit more but it is promisingly already a bit above average. His curveball will probably never be better than average, at best, but his already average knuckle curve could still develop into an above average offering. Weaver needs to work on his control, which will likely always be a struggle for him, but with a good pitch repertoire, already above-average movement and the potential for above average stuff, Weaver has a chance to become at least a back-end-of-the-rotation big league arm. His very strong work ethic and adaptable attitude make the chances of that happening even greater.
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And finally, let's check in on the Brewers first round draft pick this past season: 18-year old infielder/outfielder Jose Figueroa. Figueroa's lack of speed even at such a young age is a bit concerning and probably is one of the prime indicators that he will end up at third base primarily in the future (where his plus arm is an advantage). And he is still very raw and needs a great deal of development before he will be anywhere near WPK ready. But his slash line of .349/.375/.438 in the Rookie league give some indication of his potential and he followed that by posting a .404/.428/.430 slash line in the Arizona Fall League.
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:08 PM   #445
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Agree with savoring the details as they take place. It allows you to appreciate the subtle events along with the more profound ones.
I second this - there’s so much gold to be mined in OOTP, its magic, IMHO, resides in the details - always down to learn more about the WPK!
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:54 PM   #446
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Originally Posted by pauwoo View Post
I second this - there’s so much gold to be mined in OOTP, its magic, IMHO, resides in the details - always down to learn more about the WPK!
Amen to that. This morning for instance I have spent hours just going over details regarding prospects in my minor league system, including updates regarding former Brewers prospects who have since moved on to other teams or are no longer professional ballplayers.

And sometimes this kind of time spent, not advancing the game calendar even one day but sitting in front of the game for hours, is my favorite time spent with OOTP.
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:38 PM   #447
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:50 PM   #448
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First base and the Denver Brewers

For much of the early history of the Denver Brewers organization, first base was organizationally a weak position, with few top prospects who played the position or even could play the position.
It was largely for this reason that current Brewer first baseman, Bobby Erbakan, who came up originally as an outfielder, was shifted to the position fairly early in his minor league career.

And of course this was a move that has worked out very well for the team and for Erbakan, who recently won his 5th straight Gold Glove award for his play at first, and who broke through with a .346/.402/.473 slash line in 1973 and the best OPS+ of his career at 132.

But suddenly, with Erbakan still very much in his prime, just a bit shy of his 27th birthday, the Brewers have an abundance of first base prospects, up and down the organizational ladder. And while none of these prospects will ever be the fielder or base runner Erbakan is, several of them have great hitting potential and are likely to hit for much more power than the somewhat under-powered for the position Erbakan. And as you almost surely know if you are reading this, the Brewers need more power in their lineup.

Let's start with the guy who impressed in two stints with the Brewers last season: Greg Tietz. Tietz is the first of the group to make the bigs but he is far from the most talented. And yet, he has done nothing but hit at the minor league level and in 90 plate appearances in a Brewers uniform in 1973, he hit even better, including banging out 6 home runs and putting up an ISO of .229. His BABIP is unsustainable (.358) but he has a good eye at the plate and is a great clubhouse presence and has surely earned a bench role on the Brewers in 1974.
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But should Tietz fall on his face in '74, there are 2 very nearly WPK ready first baseman on the AAA Chester roster who could certainly take his place.
First there is 24-year old Jacob Kieft. Kieft is an all-around hitter with basically no weaknesses at the plate. He is a an adequate defender at first, though very far from Gold Glove material. While he is a poor base runner and base stealer, he has above average speed. There are those in the organization who question his work habits, but thus far, as with nearly all of the players on this list, he has consistently excelled at the plate.
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23-year old Sepi Koller will be competing with Kieft for time at first this year in Chester. And Koller is possibly the most exciting prospect of all at this position in the Brewers system. Koller should have decent contact skills and a pretty solid approach at the plate, but what sets him apart is his power potential. He needs some development yet before we see his true over-the-fence hitting potential, but he already shows strong slugging talent that should develop even more. Koller is known for his great baseball smarts.
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Another 23-year old, Brad McManus, is just below these 2 at AA Nashville. McManus is a very slow runner but is skilled on the base paths in spite of his limitations. He is perhaps the best defender of the group trying to push Erbakan off first. As a hitter, he profiles a bit less impressively then most of the others but does have good on base skills and he did hit 19 homers in 524 plate appearances last year at single A Bainbridge. While he probably won't rise above the more talented players ahead of him, he is a very hard worker so he shouldn't be counted out yet.
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Much further away from the big leagues, and needing a great deal of development still, is soon to be 19-year old Richard Escamilla, who was chosen in the 2nd round of this past year's draft. Escamilla is a long-shot still and wasn't terribly impressive in his first professional stint for the Rookie League Greensboro Bisons. But he is thought to have pretty good offensive potential with a chance to become a prodigious power hitter. He is very slow and will likely be prone to striking out a good deal, but he is said to be intelligent and given enough time and opportunities to play he may well develop into an above average big league slugging first baseman.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:05 PM   #449
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Ruben Souffront signed to minor league contract by Columbus

In spite of having a fine season at the plate in 1973 for the Charlotte Sting, former Brewer Ruben Souffront, who was a free agent again this off-season, has had to settle for a minor league contract with the Columbus Whalers.
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Hopefully we will see the still young and talented Souffront in the WPK again this coming season. (The Whalers have an aging and injury prone right fielder in David Beane. Although Beane remains a very good hitter, it shouldn't be a surprise if Souffront is needed at some point this coming season.)
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Old Yesterday, 11:27 AM   #450
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1974 Denver Brewers ratings overview

Apologies for the slight delay in getting into the 1974 season action.
I've been moving a bit slowly through the Spring Training exhibition schedule. There is one game left to get to the mid-way point of that schedule and then I will report on some of the Spring Training story-lines thus far and at least a few players will be sent back to the minor league training camp as we start to pare down the roster and get the likely Brewers starting players more playing time to fully knock off the rust.

In the meantime, let's take a bit of a closer look at some of the primary ratings categories as well as a brief look at pitcher types and hitter types among the most likely Brewers to play at least part of the season at the WPK level.

HITTING RATINGS: (Please note that the WPK uses a 1-10 ratings scale.)

Contact: It should probably not surprise that the majority of the Brewers roster has contact ratings that are at least a bit above average, given that the team compiled a batting average near .300 as a whole during the 1973 season. Even with the loss of 1973 batting champ Pat Rondeau (whose contact rating is good, but certainly wasn't the best on the team), the Brewers should be a pretty darn good contact hitting team.
Ryan Rodgers leads the way with a 10 rating (against both LHP and RHP.)
Professional hitter Andrew Kennedy and first baseman Bobby Erbakan are next at 8. Kennedy, a left-handed hitter, is rated 9 against RHP and 7 against LHP. Erbakan is an 8 across the board.
Utility infielder Joe Willemse is next at 7 (8 vs. RHP, 6 vs. LHP). The recently acquired Rodrigo Rodriguez (RodRod) has the same rating (and same handedness split) as Willemse. RodRod will likely start the season at AAA Chester but it would not be a surprise to see him in a Brewers uni at some point in the 1974 season.
A number of Brewers have contact ratings of 6: Chad Brown, Mike Foster, Joe McPhillips, Jonathan Koch, Josh Schaeffer. The biggest handedness split is for Schaeffer, who has a contact rating of 7 against RHP but just 4 against LHP.

The lowest contact ratings on the team (among non-pitchers) belong to defensive specialist Oscar Vargas and catcher Kevin Curtis, with ratings of 3 and 4 respectively.

Avoid K: Given its intimate connection with contact, let's look at AVK ratings for the Brewers.
Again, unsurprisingly, this is an area where the team mostly excels.
Joe Willemse and RodRod are the toughest to strike out, both with a 10 overall rating. (though Willemse is a 9 against LHP.) Chad Brown, Andrew Kennedy, and Ryan Rodgers all rate 9 in this area, with Brown a bit better than the other 2 with his 10 rating against LHP.
Bobby Erbakan, Jonathan Koch, and Oscar Vargas are all 8's, while Mike Foster and sometime third baseman/PH (but mostly relief pitcher) Jordan Stephens are both 7's.
The 2 young outfielders- Joe McPhillips and Josh Schaeffer- are among the most likely K victims on the team, but even they are rated at 5. Kevin Curtis, with his 4 rating, is often among the offensive K leaders in the league.

Eye:
On the other hand, Curtis has one of the best eye ratings on the team and in spite of his limited offensive skills usually has a decent OBP. His 8 rating in this area is only exceeded by Ryan Rodgers (10) and Josh Schaeffer (9), and is matched by Joe McPhillips. (So while Schaeffer and McPhillips are K prone they also both put up excellent OBP numbers.)
Backup first baseman Greg Tietz is a 7 and Oscar Vargas a 6, but after that the Brewers are pretty ordinary or even quite bad. (Mike Foster and Jonathan Koch rarely walk, with 3 ratings, and Chad Brown and Joe Willemse nearly don't know the meaning of the word, with their 2 ratings.)

Gap power:
The Brewers tend to be a pretty good doubles and triples team, with some players with good speed who can pound the ball into the gaps.
The best among them: Andrew Kennedy, Joe McPhillips, Ryan Rodgers, and RodRod (Rodrigo Rodriguez)- all with 8 Gap ratings.
After them: Kevin Curtis, Bobby Erbakan, Jonathan Koch, and Oscar Vargas (7).
Only 3 potential Brewers are below 5 in this category: backup catcher Kirk Patnode, who will likely start the season in AAA, utility infielder Joe Willemse, and 3B/RP Jordan Stephens.

HR Power:
As you all should know by now, this is an area of weakness for the Brewers.
Their theoretical best HR hitter should be Joe McPhillips, who is a 7 overall and an 8 against right handed pitchers.
They have a handful of 6's: Jonathan Koch (their leading HR hitter in 1973), Mike Foster, Bobby Erbakan, Jordan Stephens, Greg Tietz, and Oscar Vargas.
At the low end of the spectrum are Kirk Patnode, Ryan Rodgers, and Joe Willemse, all at 2.
And Chad Brown and Andrew Kennedy are both 3's (Kennedy recently dropping down from a 4.)

Speed:
The speediest Brewers are Joe McPhillips (9), Chad Brown, Jonathan Koch, and Joe Willemse (all 8).
The Brewers have 5 players rated 7 in speed.
The slowest Brewers? Not surprisingly catchers Kevin Curtis and Kirk Patnode (1), and Zacarias Martell (2), as well as back-up 1B Greg Tietz.

Base stealing:
Chad Brown is the team's most prolific base-stealer now that Pat Rondeau is no longer on the team and has a 10 rating. Bobby Erbakan, slightly slower than Brown and therefore not as likely to attempt to steal, also has a 10 rating. Young outfielder Joe McPhillips and Josh Schaeffer both are 9 rated base stealers. (With McPhillps great speed and SB and OBP skills he should be leading the team in this category before long.)
Andrew Kennedy is slow but a savvy base stealer (8) and RodRod and Jordan Stephens will also swipe some bases (8).
The worst base stealers on the team? Well, all 3 catchers, naturally (all 1's), the slow Greg Tietz (1) and veteran outfielder Ryan Rodgers (in spite of his still decent speed) (2).

Base running:
Chad Brown, of course, is the best base runner on the team (10).
But right behind him are Bobby Erbakan and Joe McPhillips (9).
And, much against stereotype, relief pitcher/third baseman Jordan Stephens is next at 8.
The slowest? Yeah, okay, you basically know this already. Three catchers and Tietz. Though Mike Foster is right there too at 2.

Bunting:
Sacrifice- backup catcher Zacarias Martell can lay down sac bunt with the best of them (8). Third catcher Kirk Patnode, who does little with the bat that is useful, is next at 7.
But mostly this is a team that shouldn't bunt (not counting pitchers.)
Bunt for hit- especially not to try to get a hit. A few Brewers are average in this skill- McPhillips, Stephens, Koch, Willemse- but none are good and many are horrible.

Wrapping up our look at Brewers offense, here are the category breakdowns for batted ball profiles:

Line Drive: Ryan Rodgers, Andrew Kennedy, Rodrigo Rodriguez.(Another reason RodRod will probably be on the team before long. The Brewers love a high contact, good gap power guy who hits the line drives.)

Flyball: Joe McPhillips, Jordan Stephens, Jonathan Koch, Bobby Erbakan.

Groundball: Joe Willemse, Zacarias Martell, Kirk Patnode.

Normal: Josh Schaeffer, Kevin Curtis, Greg Tietz, Mike Foster, Chad Brown, Oscar Vargas.

PITCHING RATINGS:

Stuff:
Harry Lyerly is of course the leader in stuff on the team at 9 (8 vs. LHP, 10 vs. RHP.) The man has led the MGL in K/9 for the past 4 seasons, after all.
Relievers Liann-wei Hua and Eric Marino both rate 8 in this category, as does minor league starter Jack Hinkel, who is always a possible emergency call-up.
A number of Brewers have solid but unspectacular stuff (7): starter Steve Green and relievers Jaden Francis, Jordan Stephens (potential for growth in this area still) and Jeremy Walker. Minor league starter Brian Murray is also a 7 and might more likely make the Brewers as a reliever, with likely plus or even plus plus stuff.
On the low end are staff ace Cheol-han Lee, finesse starter Eric Johnson, and relief prospect Mike Lizarraga, who will almost surely develop better stuff, possibly even elite stuff, in the future.

Movement:
Left-handed reliever Jeremy Walker is the best on the staff in this area (9).
Ace Cheol-han Lee is a solid 8.
After that most of the Brewers pitchers rate 7 or 6 in this area.
At the bottom of the list are the 2 starting pitchers with the best stuff: Harry Lyerly and Jack Hinkel, both with 2 movement.
Back-end-of-the-rotation starters Justin Peacock and Eric Johnson are both 4 rated in movement.

Control: The reason Cheol-han Lee is the staff ace, and one of the greatest pitchers in MGL history, in spite of having not the best stuff is that he pairs his excellent movement with even better control. He leads the team with a 9 rating.
Veteran left-handed starter Erik Sloan is next at 8.
Starters Steve Green and Eric Johnson are both 7's (with Johnson still having potential to move up in this area) and relievers Jaden Francis and Liann-wei Hua are also 7's.
The control challenged include minor league reliever Antonio Nieves (2), who could well earn a big league bullpen spot with just a bit of improvement in this area. Young lefty reliever Jeremy Walker also struggles with control (3), as does minor league starter/reliever Brian Murray (3).
Although Eric Marino is looking like the most likely future closer/stopper for the team, his control is still iffy (4).

I'll wrap this up with a look at pitcher types on the staff:

Groundball: Cheol-han Lee, Steve Green, Jeremy Walker, and Antonio Nieves- all with extreme groundball tendencies. And Erik Sloan, Matt Helm, Eric Marino, Sam Pruiett, Jaden Francis, and Jesse Horn.
As you can see, groundballers are a team preference, thus increasing the need for excellent infield defenders, especially up the middle.

Power: Harry Lyerly (extreme flyball tendency), Jordan Stephens (extreme gb tendency), Steve LaCoste (gb), and Brian Murray (neutral.)

Finesse: Eric Johnson (neutral.)

Normal: Justin Peacock, Liann-wei Hua, Mike Lizarraga, Justin Bismark, and Jack Hinkel. (Hinkel's great stuff rating comes largely due to his world class change-up, as he is not nearly as hard a thrower as Harry Lyerly.)

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