FEATURE
Building the Perfect Beast
An Exercise in Madness (Part 5)
by RORY NOBLE

As we all know, sometimes real life can throw us a few nasty breaking balls that we aren’t expecting. Our household has dealt with a few of those recently, thus keeping up on my writing has been a bit more difficult. However, as we have managed to get the count back to full, here I am again with the next installment of my “Building” series.

Before I review last season, I wanted to briefly add a reply to a question my wife asked me recently. “Why do you call these articles ‘Building the Perfect Beast?’” she asked. Besides being a reference to a Don Henley album & song, it also has to do with one of those interesting words we seem to hear a lot more of recently: sustainability. In any business venture, the owners (as well as the employees, if they care enough) should be focused on building a quality product(s) and keeping said product(s) at a minimum quality each production cycle. Baseball is really no different.

To field a quality team from year to year, management needs to address the future as well as the present to try and build some kind of consistent quality in order to achieve a certain goal: in our case, reaching the playoffs and winning championships. While it is theoretically possible to tear a team down and rebuild it every season, that system often comes at a cost: disgruntled players, lower fan loyalty, and ultimately, (often) a loss of revenue, which in turn makes it more difficult to field a quality team for the next season. Building (and rebuilding) through the draft and free agency takes quite a bit of time and effort, but the long-term goal of reaching the playoffs and winning championships is often a bit easier as the seasons pass.

While those young studs we draft each June may be the cornerstone of our teams for years to come, they can just as easily be trade bait to bring in that much needed ace to anchor the rotation or that stud lead-off guy who’s going to hit .300 and steal 75 bases each year. The thing is we usually have to keep enough of those young players around to keep our teams winning as the older players retire or move on via free agency.

Speaking of young players, last season’s draft saw a nice influx of young talent come into the system. #3 overall pick RF Alex Bello only hit .206 for the rookie league Cape Canaveral Astronauts and didn’t show much power overall in his 61 games, but he is still one of the best offensive weapons in the Indianapolis system. He projects to be a solid hitter with great OBP and slugging potential. Plus no errors in 126 chances out in right field is nothing to sneeze at. 2B Tom Kaye, selected with the #4 pick, faired a bit better hitting .276 in 61 rookie league games. He had 15 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 home runs while scoring 29 run and adding 20 RBI.

2nd round selection Oscar Carvajal performed well out of the pen with a 5-7 record and 24 saves over 49 appearances with the San Diego Pioneers. He had a 2.93 ERA and a WHIP of just of just 1.17, both solid numbers for the 22 year-old. 3rd rounder Fernando Teran was used as DH and closer for the Astronauts. While he struggled at the plate (.230/.278/.292) he fared much better on the mound 1-2, 8 SV, 2.76 ERA in 19 appearances. He’s still a project player at 19 years of age and will most likely work strictly out of the pen in 2039. SP Edgar Diaz was selected in the fourth and worked well for the Astronauts in 2038 posting a 3-5 record with a 3.96 ERA in 14 game starts.

I had hoped that the rookie debuts of starters Antonio Valdez, Richard Reardon, and closer Miguel Escobar would have been more successful. Valdex and Reardon combined for a total of 9 wins and 40 losses, but I suppose that is to be expected going against some of the elite talent around the league. Escobar was okay in save opportunities, missing out on 7 of his 35 chances, but he struggled against the better hitters taking 12 losses against just 3 wins. All three will continue their development in the ML level this season in hopes of more success.

A few new faces on the team for 2039 are relievers Jaime Alviar and Armando Gonzalez, backup catcher Manuel Alas, 3B Warren Walsh, SS Mario Mendoza, and outfielders Alex Castaneda and Ricardo Vasquez. A few of the younger guys are itching at a shot in the Bigs and may see some Spring Training time and a late season call-up if things go well, or, a is most likely the case, if they don’t “The Beast” is still just a pup, but it’s growing slowly day by day.