Stanton to the DL, Again!

images-2_1Fragile is defined as easily broken, shattered, or damaged. For years I have defended Giancarlo Stanton and made the claim that his injuries are just bad luck and not because he is fragile. Finally it is time to reverse course. Stanton is fragile.

Once again Giancarlo will spend time on the disabled list this season. In Saturday’s game he limped off the field in the ninth inning with a groin injury and today we learned that he will go on the 15-day DL. We still don’t know the extent of the latest injury, but an MRI will be done soon to give the team a better idea as to what they are dealing with.

Stanton made his major league debut in 2010 with the Marlins as a 20 year old. In his rookie season he played in 100 games. In 2011 he played in a career high 150 games. Over his seven year career Stanton has played in 811 games, an average of 116 games per season. He has spent time on the disabled list in parts of multiple seasons. In 2011 he battled leg and eye injuries, 2012 knee soreness, 2013 a grade two hamstring injury, 2014 he was hit in the face by a Mike Fiers pitch and 2015 he broke the hamate bone in his left hand.

Stanton has tremendous talent and has been an all-star three out of the seven years he has been in the league, but none of that does any good if he can stay on the field and play. There is a saying in sports, the best ability is availability, and clearly Stanton does not always possess that ability.

Need to Replace Stanton, How About Haniger?

If you images_5_orighaven’t heard the name Mitch Haniger, you may not be alone. Haniger is a 25-year-old prospect who made his MLB debut last week for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He didn’t get much in the way of hype in the minor leagues this season and when he received his promotion on August 16th there wasn’t much in the way of fanfare. With all that being said it may be a good idea to put Haniger on your radar.

Mitch Haniger is an outfielder who was drafted in the first round, pick 38, of the 2012 draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo by the Milwaukee Brewers. Haniger played in Milwaukee’s minor league system until part way through 2014 when he was traded to Arizona. In his two plus years as a Brewers farm hand he didn’t do anything all that impressive. His average was in the mid .200s, he had one season between Low-A and High-A that he hit 15 home runs and stole 10 bases, but again not any eye popping numbers. In 2015, his first full season in the Diamondbacks minor league system something changed however. That year he had a .310/.368/.515 slash line, hit 13 home runs in 104 games and stole 12 bases between High-A and Double-A.

As a minor leaguer in 2016 Haniger spent time at both Double-A and Triple-A before being called up. During that time, he played in 119 games, had an even better slash line of .325/.423/.588 with 24 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 86 RBIs. Some may point out that he was a little old for the levels he was playing at, but I choose to look at the glass half-full. Haniger may have just needed a little more time to grow in to his skill set, remember he was the 38th pick in 2012 and not a late rounder.

In Haniger’s six games since being called up he has a .304/.385/.478 slash line with three walks and eight strikeouts. Yes, it is a small sample size, but the fact that he is maintaining his batting average success and putting the ball in play 58% of the time is a good sign. His home run power hasn’t yet made an appearance, but he has had two doubles and a triple in those six games.

Haniger is not the guy you run out and get on your fantasy roster while dropping a usable player, but if you were the Giancarlo Stanton, Shin-Soo Choo, or Matt Holliday owner then you may still be looking for a bat to plug in to your outfield. If Keon Broxton, our favorite widely available outfielder isn’t available in your league, then Haniger may be a good speculative add. As of right now he is available in 90% of leagues.

California League to Say Goodbye to Two Teams

Today MiLB announced that at the conclusion of the 2016 minor league season the High Desert Mavericks and Bakersfield Blaze will cease operations.

“MiLB announces realignment with two Class A Adv teams moving from Cal Lg to Carolina Lg: 

This move comes as MiLB and its’s MLB affiliates look to realign franchises. Both teams will move to the Carolina League starting in 2017. High Desert Mavericks have been the High A affiliate of the Texas Rangers and been in a battle with their home city of Adelanto to keep baseball there, but with this move that battle will end and the team will now play their home games in Kinston, NC. Bakersfield Blaze, the High A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners will likely move to Fayetteville, NC, but there are other options that are being looked at. Though High Desert may have known that a change was coming after the 2016 season it appears from Bakersfield’s Twitter feed that this announcement was a major surprise to employees of the team.

Bakersfield Blaze ‏@BakoBlaze Bakersfield Blaze Retweeted
Our official position is that we are devastated. The sad emoji would also work. So much history … gone.”

Another very interesting point to keep in mind with this move is that it was already rumored that the Lancaster Jethawks, the Houston Astros’ High-A affiliate, was also making plans or at least exploring options to move to the Carolina League. Should the Jethawks also abandon the California League there would be only seven of the current ten teams remaining and only three teams remaining in the South Division.  A mass exist of that form could leave the remaining teams wondering what the future may hold for the Cal League which was founded in 1941. One of the founding teams of the league was the Bakersfield Badgers.

On a personal note, because we are based out of Southern California it is sad to see these two teams leave. I have enjoyed many a day and night at the local minor league stadiums watching young up and coming talent play for both of these teams. They surely will be missed.