Sunday Notes: Tigers Prospect Isaac Paredes Loves to Hit

The Detroit Tigers are in full rebuild mode, and Isaac Paredes projects as a big part of their future. His bat is the primary reason why. Despite an August swoon that caused his numbers to plummet, the 18-year-old shortstop finished the season with a .725 OPS. Given that he was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League, that’s not exactly chicken soup.

Paredes was acquired by the Tigers, along with Jeimer Candelario, in the trade-deadline deal that sent Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to the Cubs, and the news threw him for a loop. When I talked a him a week and a half later, the Hermosillo, Mexico native admitted to having been shocked and not particularly pleased. His initial thought was “this is something bad.”

Once his head stopped spinning, his attitude shifted to “this is a good thing.” Paredes realized he was going to an organization that would be relying heavily on players just like himself.

He encountered both similarities and differences when he swapped out his South Bend Cubs uniform for one worn by their Midwest League rivals, the West Michigan Whitecaps.

“Some things are the same, but others aren’t,” Paredes told me with the help of a translator. “The defense is a little different. In South Bend, I was more to myself, looking at how the pitcher was working and moving on my own. Here, there are more shifts.

“Hitting is the same, but that’s because they haven’t really said anything yet. I just got here, so I think they’re mostly just watching what I do with my swing.”

According to Whitecaps hitting coach Mike Hessman, that’s what was happening.

“So far I’m mostly just trying to stay out of his way and let him do his thing,” the minor league home run king told me at the time. “For an 18-year-old kid, he has an idea of how his swing works. He’s also got a clue — he’s got a game plan — when he steps into the batter’s box. It’s just a small sample size, but we like what we see.”

The night before, I’d watched Paredes stroke a pair of base hits, which gave him eight in his last 13 at bats. The youngster smiled when I asked him if hitting is easy.

“No, it’s hard,” answered Paredes. “It’s never easy, but I’m always prepared. It’s also really fun. That’s the best thing there is in baseball, hitting.”

Few things in baseball are more fun than leaving the yard, and while Paredes focuses on staying gap to gap — “I just hit it as hard as possible, and if the ball goes, the ball goes” — Hessman sees more fence-clearers ahead.

“For one thing, he looks like he wants to do some damage,” said Hessman. “He’s definitely not up there getting cheated. He gets a good load, he gets into a good launch position, he gets the bat in a good spot. The power is already showing [Paredes homered 11 times this year] and the older and stronger he gets… let’s just say there’s more in the tank.”

———

The Hall of Fame will be releasing the its latest Modern Baseball Era Committee ballot tomorrow, and Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker are likely to be on it. With that in mind, let’s look at a few numbers:

Legendary double-play duo Johnny Evers (49.0) and Joe Tinker (55.5) were a combined 94.5 WAR. Trammell (63.7) and Whitaker (68.1) were a combined 131.8 WAR.

Trammell and Whitaker deserve to join Tinker and Evers in the Hall of Fame. Not only that, they should go in together.

———

Jim Rice had 2,452 hits, 4,129 total bases, and a 128 adjusted OPS. Dwight Evans had 2,446 hits, 4,230 total bases, and a 127 adjusted OPS. Rice didn’t win any Gold Gloves. Evans won eight Glove Gloves.

Rice (50.8 WAR) is in the Hall of Fame. Evans (65.1 WAR) isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Go figure.

———

In an ALCS Notebook I put together a few weeks ago, Brian Cashman talked about his club’s under-appreciated analytics department. It’s one of the best in the game, and in order to stay that way it has to move forward. The Yankees GM stressed that point when I asked him what he knows now that he didn’t a few short years ago.

“I don’t want to say specifically, but I will say that we’re spending more and more money on various resources that didn’t exist before, but do exist now,” answered Cashman. “With certain technologies, you get access to more revelations. What we’re trying to do is make sure that every decision we’re making is the most accurate it can be in real time.

“There’s a method to the madness. With education you get higher ground, and it’s not just having information, it’s how you disseminate it. Part of my job is to make sure it’s communicated effectively. We need to find platforms to share that type of information in a language that is going to enlighten the field staff, the amateur and pro scouting staffs, the front office, ownership. It has to be packaged in a way that an aha moment can take place.”

———

The Mets are reportedly hiring Ruben Amaro Jr, to be their first base coach. The Stanford-educated former Philadelphia Phillies GM shared the following with me this summer:

People are seeking information in general, and more specifically they’re seeking hybrid information. That is the way you need to go when making decisions in front offices. It’s about using data and analytics, as well as scouting, in order to get the most information you possibly can — the most-robust pieces of information you can. If you look at the clubs that are having success, you’ll see that most are using a combination of what their scouts are seeing and what their analytics people are providing.”

———

On Friday it was announced that recently-retired outfielder Sam Fuld will be joining the Phillies organization — his title will be Major League Player Information Coordinator — and the news came as no surprise. In a recent Sunday Notes column, the Stanford grad shared that he would be exploring front office opportunities. More than Matt Klentak’s club showed interest. Fuld had conversations with multiple teams before signing on with the increasingly-progressive Phillies.

———

Chaz Roe is a journeyman reliever who relies heavily on his slider. Pitching for the Orioles, Braves, and most recently the Rays, he’s thrown the pitch over 50% of the time over the past. two seasons. Back in February, our own Jeff Sullivan wrote about how Roe’s slider is “visually stunning,” as it gets “nearly a foot of horizontal movement.”

When I talked to the 31-year-old right-hander late this season, I learned that sometimes it gets almost no horizontal movement at all… and he considers that a good thing. His description of its variability perked up my ears.

“It has different movements to it and sometimes it will have a mind of its own,” Roe told me. “It will be front hip. I’ll expand it a little bit. It will back up. But I can control that, too. If I’m expanding more to a righty, getting him diving a little bit, I can throw that backup one. He’ll dive, and I’ll end up freezing him.”

Wait. Does that mean Roe will intentionally throw a backup slider?

“It’s more of a cutter, but yeah,” responded Roe. “I’ve thrown a lot of them unintentionally that have fooled hitters — they’re waiting for that big break and nothing happens — and I’ve realized that’s a good pitch. It’s tough to do, though.”

Based on the responses of the people I queried on the subject two years ago, “tough to do” is an understatement. How does Roe go about it?

“It’s more the pronating of my wrist and pulling off the ball a little more so that it just spins arm side,” explained Roe. “What I want is short — as short as possible — instead of a big break, so it’s really more of a backup cutter. I’ve been throwing it maybe a couple times an outing, although recently it hasn’t been as effective. I tried to throw a couple the other night and they kind of slurved out of my hand. But I’ve thrown some good ones in the past, and it’s a tough pitch to recognize. It’s a tough pitch to hit.”

———

Ryan Dull has never experimented with a backup slider. The Oakland right-hander acknowledged its potential effectiveness when I shared what Roe told me, but he has a legitimate reason for eschewing any such attempts.

“It could create a bad habit you don’t want to get into,” said the slider-reliant (41% this year) reliever. “By practicing one, I think I’d be risking losing the feel for the slider I really want to throw. To me, a backup slider is something that just happens.”

When he does accidentally throw one, it’s typically not a mystery. But again, that doesn’t mean he thinks replicating it to fool hitters would be smart.

“I have a pretty decent feel for what happened — mechanically, why it backed up on me,” said Dull. But if you’re in a situation where you need your best slider, and you’ve been working on the backup slider… maybe that’s when you accidentally throw one and it gets hit out of the ballpark. Practicing it would be counterproductive to consistently having the big slider you need when you need a swing and miss.”

A slider that backed up too much — and sometimes acted more like a curveball — led to a grip change. Dull began throwing the pitch as a junior at the University of North Carolina, but its break was consistently inconsistent. When he reported to instructional league after signing with the A’s, minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson showed him the grip he currently employs.

——

It will be interesting to see where Bryan Shaw is employed next season. The 29-year-old righty is a free agent, and a lot of teams are expected to kick the tires. Shaw has been a bullpen workhorse. Over the last six season, no reliever has appeared in more games (442) and thrown more innings (418).

Acquired by the Indians as part of the December 2012 Trevor Bauer deal, Shaw was paid $4.6 million last year. He deserved to make a lot more than that going forward — whether it’s in Cleveland or elsewhere — and he almost certainly will.

———

Congratulations to longtime Pittsburgh-area scribe John Perrotto for being inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. A former Pirates beat writer, he’s written for the Beaver County Times, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and FanRag. He recently became a free agent, so if you need somebody on staff who knows pretty much everyone in the game, he’s available.

Also being inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame this year is a player whose credentials are arguably worthy of Cooperstown. Jack Clark put up a 137 adjusted OPS over parts of 18 big-league seasons.

———

A few pieces of minor league news:

The Chicago White Sox named Justin Jirschele their minor league coach of the year. The 27-year-old first-year manager skippered low-A Kannapolis.

Omaha Storm Chasers Assistant General Manager Laurie Schlender was named Minor League Baseball’s 2017 Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year. The Storm Chasers are Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

John Sadak is departing after five seasons as the radio voice of the New York Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Rail Riders. Sadak will continue doing play-by-play for Westwood One radio and CBS Sports Network television.

Baseball America named Alonzo Harris their independent leagues player of the year. The 28-year-old former New York Mets prospect hit .315/.381/.530 for the York Revolution in the Atlantic League.

———

Awful Announcing recently did a Twitter poll asking which time zone is optimal for across-the-board sports fans. The Central Time Zone won handily, garnering 42% of the votes. Mountain (23%) and Pacific (22%) followed, while Eastern finished dead last with a paltry 13%. On the heels of a World Series where one of the games ended just short of 1:30 a.m. EST, that’s hardly a surprise.

———

The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks captured their third Japan Series title in four years, beating the Yokohama DeNa BayStars in six games. Softbank rallied for a pair of ninth-inning runs to win Game 6 by a score of 4-3. Keizo Kawashima collected the deciding hit, and Dennis Sarfate, who recorded 54 saves during the regular season, pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the win.

———

Peter Gammons wrote the following on a social media platform a few days ago, and it is well worth sharing (which I’m doing with his permission):

From the time I arrived at LAX Thursday at 5:50 am to the end of my walk today at 3:30, I was asked dozens of times if I’m happy Houston won. I am. I’m also disappointed the Dodgers lost.

It’s not about teams or what’s trending, what I care about are the people who play. I am a person, and hence have the right to like and care–sometimes deeply–for persons. I try to be a journalist, which frees me from dislike.

Of course I rejoice for A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Brian McCann, Yuli Gurriel and so many.

And feel remorse for Dave Roberts, cousin George Lombard, Rich Hill, Chase Utley and so many other Dodgers.

Passion deters rationality, but for the most part, passion is what made these two teams such theatre.

I am happiest for one group–the people of Houston. I’ve never experienced what millions in that city experienced. I hope this gives someone a happier Thanksgiving.”

———

LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

The 2017 Fielding Bible results were released earlier this week, and the Angels and Rockies were well represented.

At MLB.com, Jason Beck wrote about how Ramon Santiago is overjoyed to be joining the Detroit Tigers coaching staff.

The Orioles have a lot of free agents, and Camden Chat’s Alex Conway doesn’t expect many of them to be back.

Over at South Side Sox, Jim Margalus wrote about how the Chicago’s American League squad should spend the winter tinkering on the margins.

According to this story from The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis, three prominent members of the 1984 San Diego Padres were members of the John Birch Society.

———

RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Carlos Beltran has 2,725 hits and 4,751 total bases. Chipper Jones had 2,726 hits and 4,755 total bases.

Sadaharu Oh had 5,862 total bases. Icihro Suzuki has 5,874 total bases (3,985 in MLB and 1,885 in NPB),

In 406 plate appearances with the Red Sox, pitcher Earl Wilson had 72 hits, including three triples and 17 home runs. In 412 plate appearances with the Tigers, Wilson had 71 hits, including three triples and 17 home runs.

Lou Whitaker had 2,369 hits, including 420 doubles. Alan Trammell had 2,365 hits, including 412 doubles.

Joey Gallo has 117 hits and 272 strikeouts. Frankie Frisch had 2,880 hits and 272 strikeouts.

Joe Torre had 2,326 hits and 2,342 managerial wins.

Dixie Walker (in 1944) and Harry Walker (in 1947) are the only brothers to win batting titles. Their father, Ewart “Dixie” Walker played in the big leagues from 1909-1912, as did his brother, Ernie Walker, from 1913-1915.

On this date in 1976, the Seattle Mariners selected Ruppert Jones first overall in the expansion draft. The Toronto Blue Jays took Bob Bailor with the second overall pick.

Players born on November 5 include Putsy Caballero, Ice Box Chamberlain, Flame Delhi, Greasy Neale, Ollie Sax, Rasty Wright, and Yam Yaryan.

Homer Peel and Homer Smoot played for the Cardinals. Homer Summa played for the Indians.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

newest oldest most voted
difflja
Member
Member
difflja

David……Thank you for the Trammell and Whitaker HOF opinion, which is categorically correct. They both deserve to be there. Here’s hoping it happens sooner rather than later (or never!).

Chill
Member
Chill

Seconded