Blue Crabs add Michael Blazek to ‘pen
Continuing a wild career that saw him pitching for the Washington Nationals in 2019, Michael Blazek has signed with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. It could be a strategic play that leads Michael to the Atlantic League team at Washington’s backdoor, but he is an interesting addition by the club. On one hand, Blazek has the potential to carry serious weight out of the bullpen and could be a reliable arm throughout the year. However, Blazek struggled to 6.05 ERA in triple-A Fresno last season, and his peripheral stats weren’t inspiring. Projections show Michael’s up-side potential, but overall, paints the 31-year-old as a long-shot.
Bold strategy, Cotton: The Revolution keep adding guys who haven’t been playing
Frankie Jezioro will spend his first professional season with the York Revolution in 2020. Jezioro raked during his 4 years at Slippery Rock University, slashing .318/.404/.503 in his career and .355/.479/.618 his senior season. On Monday’s Revs Hot Stove Weekly (Sports Radio98.9 FM/1350 AM WOYK), Revs manager Mark Mason spoke to the fact that the young centerfielder was the fastest player at off-season camps. Frankie has the raw skill, but the transition from college to the country’s top independent league is a difficult one, so his projections are all over the place ranging from a 4.2 to 1.5 WAR season. Time will tell how Jezioro settles into the York outfield.
Corner infielder Josh Vitters has been signed by the Revolution for 2020. This will be Vitters’ 4th season of independent baseball after spending 2016 with the Bridgeport Bluefish before going to the American League’s Sioux City Explorers in 2017 and the Can-Am League’s Les Capitales de Quebec for 2018. Vitters did not play in 2019, but projects to re-enter professional baseball as a backup for the Revs until the team can fully assess what he beings to the table.
Projections: 205 PA, .220 Avg., 3 HR, .605 OPS, 66 OPS+, 16 Runs Created, 0.2 WAR (2019 MLB Equiv. Jake Lamb)
High-end Projections: 300 PA, .230 Avg., 5 HR, .635 OPS, 26 Runs Created, 0.8 WAR
Low-end Projections: 185 PA, .205 Avg., 2 HR, .570 OPS, 13 Runs Created, 0.0 WAR
Hector Nelo has signed with the York Revolution, returning to the Atlantic League after debuting briefly with the Blue Crabs in 2014. Nelo pitched with occasional success over eight minor league seasons. After a rough 2017 season with the Can-Am League’s Sussex County Miners, Nelo stayed off professional mounds until throwing 13 and 1/3 innings in the Puerto Rican Winter League this past season. He posted good numbers during those outings, but we will need to revisit projections for Nelo in 2020 during the preseason.
Sugar Land secures veteran bats and 2 valuable bullpen arms
Felipe Paulino has signed for his fourth season with the Skeeters in 2019. Paulino will likely continue in his role as primary closer for the club. Felipe has been tremendous in the Atlantic League for the Skeeters. In 120 and 2/3 innings, the Dominican-born 36-year-old has 64 saves, a 1.003 WHIP, a 1.86 ERA. The 2020 projections react to signs that Felipe may be slowing down at this point in his career, as his rate stats all declining consistently. However, it’d be surprising to see him much worse than a 3.00 ERA this season.
Projections: 50 IP, 2.80 ERA, 1.095 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
High-end Projections: 58 IP, 2.52 ERA, 0.855 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 10.7 K/9
Low-end Projections: 44 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 7.5 K/9
MLB veteran Alexi Amarista has been signed by the Skeeters after being picked up in the New Britain Bees Dispersal Draft this fall. Amarista, still wielding an above-average bat after turning 30, posted a .270/.321/.473 slash line in the first half of the 2019 season before returning home to be with his family. Impressively, Alexi was a contact machine last season, striking out in only 7.6% of his plate appearances while the rest of the ALPB struck out 20% of the time. If Amarista puts together a full season for Sugar Land in 2020, he is projected to be a difference-maker combining with Javier Betancourt and others in the middle infield. Amarista is well-positioned to be an above-average contributor in his position group and could be remembered as a key signing for this 2020 roster.
Projections: 420 PA, .275 Avg., 12 HR, .795 OPS, 116 OPS+, 58 Runs Created, 3.4 WAR (2019 MLB Equiv. Jose Ramirez)
High-end Projections: 440 PA, .290 Avg., 13 HR, .800 OPS, 60 Runs Created, 3.5 WAR
Low-end Projections: 395 PA, .270 Avg., 9 HR, .790 OPS, 54 Runs Created, 3.1 WAR
Outfielder Barrett Barnes has re-signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters after spending 2019 in the New York Mets Minor League system. Barnes batted .228/.350/.399 in 374 plate appearances with the double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies last season. During his full 2018 season in the Sugar Land outfield, Barnes represented himself well, slashing .246/.393/.393. With a league-average bat and still some plus speed, Barnes projects to be paired with fellow-veteran Wynton Bernard in the Skeeters outfield throughout 2020.
Projections: 370 PA, .240 Avg., 13 HR, .730 OPS, 99 OPS+, 38 Runs Created, 1.8 WAR (2019 MLB Equiv. Jose Martinez)
High-end Projections: 380 PA, .245 Avg., 14 HR, .760 OPS, 46 Runs Created, 2.1 WAR
Low-end Projections: 325 PA, .230 Avg., 11 HR, .720 OPS, 37 Runs Created, 1.5 WAR
Matt Dermody will be continuing his comeback from Tommy John surgery on the mound in Sugar Land. The 6’5” lefty reliever signed with the Skeeters last week and will hope to throw his first complete season since 2017. Working almost exclusively with a fastball and slider, Dermody’s best season was in 2016 when, on the back of a 1.82 ERA, he flew through the ranks from Advanced Class-A Dunedin to the Toronto Blue Jays in five short months. As Matt works to come back from surgery, Sugar Land hopes he can bring his best out of the bullpen. Dermody’s K/9 was improved during his 23 innings in 2019, and if his left arm is up to the task, he could be the centerpiece of the Skeeters’ bullpen in 2020.
Projections: 40 IP, 3.85 ERA, 1.325 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
High-end Projections: 47 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
Low-end Projections: 33 IP, 4.55 ERA, 1.405 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.7 K/9