Sunday Notes: Top Red Sox Prospect Roman Anthony Adjusted To Power Up

Sunday Notes: Twins Prospect Kala’i Rosario Won the AFL Home Run Derby


Roman Anthony arguably has the highest upside in the Boston Red Sox system. Three months shy of his 20th birthday, the left-handed-hitting outfielder is No. 14 on our recently-released Top 100, and in the words of Eric Longenhagen, he “has the offensive foundation (plate discipline and contact) to be a top five prospect if he can more readily get to his power in games.”

Getting to more of his in-game power was an organizationally-driven goal throughout a first full professional season that saw the 2022 second-rounder begin in Low-A Salem and finish in Double-A Portland. Progress was made. Of the 14 home runs Anthony swatted over 491 plate appearances, all but one came from mid-June onward. Learning to lift was the key and, according to the youngster that came not from an overhaul of his mechanics, but rather from subtle adjustments.

“At the beginning of the year, I was pulling it on the ground a little more than I would like to,” acknowledged Anthony, who was 200-plus plate appearances into the season when he went yard for a second time. “But I worked with my hitting coaches and eventually it clicked. It was really just minor tweaks. It’s not as though I was redoing my swing, or anything like that. I still have pretty much the same swing I’ve always had.”

According to Red Sox farm director Brian Abraham, Anthony’s adjustments were crafted primarily in a batting cage with simple, yet creative, drill work.

““It wasn’t necessarily him changing his mechanics,” explained Abraham. “It was our hitting group putting him in certain positions, within certain environmental constraints, that enable him to leverage more balls to the pull side. Some of it was particular drills that allow him to be himself, yet force him to hit the ball in the air without actually physically trying to do so.

“Say I were to put my hand on your arm and told you push me back,” Abraham elaborated. “The only choice you have is to push in a certain way, so you’re going to push harder. It’s similar to that. Or it could be standing in front of a wall so that you can only go to the pull side, or in batting practice having the ball thrown from a certain angle — things that allow the body to be working naturally, but because of constraints only in a certain way. The more repetitions with that happening, the more the body adjusts and it becomes natural.”

Anthony’s slash line was .272/.403/.466 last season, with a healthy 17.5% walk rate contributing heavily to his OBP. In Longenhagen’s eyes, the appearance of plus-plus plate discipline merits a caveat. As our lead prospect analyst pointed out in his writeup, Anthony’s swing rate on pitches right down the middle of the plate was among the lowest in the minors, suggesting “an approach that includes premeditated takes rather than actual selectivity.”

Asked about that hypothesis, Abraham said that the organization doesn’t dictate takes, at least not in a way that would starve young hitters’ opportunities to crush cookies. If anything, Anthony’s lapses in selective aggression were of his own volition, and not a directive from above.

“I think sometimes there might have been pitches where he could have let it eat, for lack of a better term, versus taking a pitch,” the farm director said. “But that’s just an education thing, him learning himself as he further acclimates to pro ball. We really don’t put limitations on our players, saying you have to not swing at this pitch. I don’t think that’s sustainable or scalable. To me, a training environment is where you are going to create something that’s a little bit more innate and can be carried over from level to level. We give them an approach — an understanding of what they want to do — and then allow them to go do it. If we need to make adjustments afterwards, the conversation will be about the why.”



Bingo Binks went 3 for 16 against Tiny Bonham.

Bing Miller went 1 for 18 against Ivy Andrews.

Mike Ivie went 8 for 14 against Tug McGraw.

Wally Pipp went 4 for 5 against Slim McGrew.

Bob Seeds went 5 for 7 against Lefty Smoll.


Ben Cowles is a sleeper in the New York Yankees system. The just-turned-24-year-old infielder wasn’t included when our 2024 Yankees Top Prospect list went up in December. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess potential. In 444 plate appearances with High-A Hudson Valley, Cowles put up a 109 wRC+ while swatting 10 home runs and swiping 26 bases in 30 attempts. He further impressed in the Arizona Fall League, logging a .956 OPS, leaving the yard four times, and going a perfect 3-for-3 in the theft department.

Cowles led the Big Ten with 18 home runs in his 2021 draft year, but the 10th-round pick doesn’t see himself as a bopper. When I talked to him at the tail end of the AFL season, he told me that getting on base and “wreaking havoc on the pitcher” are his primary goals, while any power he produces is a plus. Defensively, he feels that shortstop is his best position, with the ability to also play second and third — he split time between the three positions last year — adding to his value.

His baseball hero was a shortstop, which made his draft experience all the more exciting.

“I grew up near Rochester, New York and was always a Yankees fan,” explained Cowles. “I loved Derek Jeter. It was hard not to.”


Daniel Vogelbach was 25 years old and a Seattle Mariner when I talked to and wrote about him in spring training 2018. Hitting for more power was on his mind at the time, and while the extra oomph didn’t emerge that same season — at least not at the big-league level — he did go on to bash a career-high 30 home runs in 2019. Ups and downs have followed. The lefty slugger is now five teams removed from Seattle — this after Friday’s reported signing with Toronto — and last year’s ledger included a modest 13 dingers to go with a 109 wRC+.

This past summer I asked Vogelbach, then a New York Met, for an updated take on his fence-clearing intentions.

“I think you’re always trying to hit for power,” he replied. “It’s just a matter of how you go about it. I mean, homers are thrown, they’re not hit. Pitchers have to make mistakes. If you go up there trying to hit home runs every at-bat, given how good pitchers are — how much they can make the ball move — you’re basically setting yourself up for failure.”

As for adjustments he’s made over the years, Vogelbach told me that he’s always working to be the best hitter possible, and that the game will dictate what he needs to do better, and what he needs to work on. Moreover, “When the game tells you something, you have to listen.”

Jay Jaffe will address the Blue Jays’ reported acquisition of Vogelbach — might it have been Joey Votto instead? — here at FanGraphs in the coming days.


A quiz:

The same pitcher holds the Cincinnati Reds franchise record for both career saves and career games finished. Who is he?

The answer can be found below.



The SABR Analytics Conference has added a Statcast panel comprising Jason Bernard, James Buffi, Graham Goldbeck, Clay Nunnally, and Mike Petriello, More information on the conference, which will be held in Phoenix from March 8-10, can be found here.

MLB has promoted Ryan Wills and Clint Vondrak to full-time umpires, replacing Ed Hickox and Jeff Nelson, who have retired. Chris Guccione, a 17-year veteran, has been promoted as a new crew chief.

The Oakland Athletics have hired Jenny Cavnar as their new TV play-by-play broadcaster. Cavnar, who has spent the past 12 seasons with the Colorado Rockies as a backup play-by-play announcer, pre- and postgame host, and reporter, will reportedly be the the first female primary play-by-play voice in MLB history.

Jim Hannan, who pitched in 276 games from 1962-1971, primarily for the Washington Senators, died earlier this month at age 85. The right-hander from Jersey City was part of a noteworthy transaction late in his career, going from Washington to Detroit in an eight-player deal that included Denny McLain, Joe Coleman, and Aurelio Rodríguez.

Don Gullett, a left-handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds from 1970-1976, and for the New York Yankees in 1977-1978, died on Wednesday at age 73. A member of The Big Red Machine who was just 19 years old when he debuted, Gullett went 109-50 with a 3.11 ERA and pitched in five World Series before injuries ended his career at age 27. Boston’s Bill “Spaceman” Lee famously said of his Game 7 matchup against the flamethrower in the 1975 World Series, “Gullett will go to the Hall of Fame and I will go to the Eliot Lounge.”


The answer to the quiz is Danny Graves, who had 182 saves and 337 games finished while pitching for the Reds from 1997-2005.


Zack Scott debuted a podcast this past week, and the initial episode of “Deconstructing Champions: The Art and Science of Winning” is a must-listen. The erstwhile Boston Red Sox and New York Mets front office executive — now the CEO of Four Rings Sports Solutions — welcomed Texas Rangers GM Chris Young to the show, and their wide-ranging conversation is predictably both entertaining and informative. One exchange that stood out to me was Young’s response to a question about how his team-building philosophies have evolved over his short time in the role.

“More than anything, it’s probably made me double down a little bit on the characteristics, or attributes, that I really believe strongly in, in terms of what winning players look like,” said Young, who pitched in the big leagues from 2004-2017. “It’s not always about the most talent; it’s about the right collection of talent. You have to have the right role players, and you have to have the right stars… and they’re equally important. [The role players] can actually set the culture and the chemistry of the team more than anybody. It’s their sacrifice that leads to the success of the collective group. Your star players are going to be your star players, but it’s what you get out of everybody else — the role players around those star players — that is going to set the team up for its success.”

Scott’s “Deconstructing Champions” is available on Youtube, Spotify and most everywhere else you enjoy your favorite pods.


Who is/was better, Clayton Kershaw or Pedro Martinez? I presented that question in a Twitter poll earlier this week, and the latter won in a landslide. Of the votes cast, 86.6% went to the Hall of Fame right-hander, while the left-handed future Hall of Famer garnered a paltry 14.2%.

Their credentials? Let’s take a look.

Kershaw: 210-92 record, 157 ERA+, 2.82 FIP, 2,944 Ks, 27.6 K%, 75.8 fWAR.Martinez: 219-100 record, 154 ERA+, 2.91 FIP, 3,154 Ks, 27.7 K%, 84.4 fWAR.

Each has five ERA titles, three Cy Young Awards, and a World Series ring on his résumé. Kershaw is a 10-time All-Star who has won an MVP Award. Martinez was an eight-time All-Star who was never named MVP.

Pedro is hands-down my all-time favorite pitcher. Was he better than the great Kershaw? That’s up for debate.



Rintaro Sasaki, who had been projected to be the top pick in the forthcoming NPB draft. will reportedly enroll at Stanford University this spring and subsequently join the baseball team for its 2025 season. The 18-year-old first baseman from Iwate Prefecture set Japan’s high school home record while attending Hanamaki Higashi High School, the alma mater of Shohei Ohtani.

Andrew Campbell has announced his retirement. An outfielder for the Brisbane Bandits for the past 13 seasons, the 32-year-old native of Ipswich, Queensland was part of four ABL championship teams and was a member of Team Australia..He played in the Cleveland system in 2011 and 2012.


A random obscure former player snapshot:

Larry Yount is the brother of Robin Yount, but that isn’t his claim to fame. The Hall of Famer’s older sibling officially appeared in a big-league game yet was never on the field while the ball was in play. On September 15, 1971, Lawrence King Yount took the mound for the Houston Astros in what was to be his MLB debut, only to injure himself while warming up. Because he had been announced, his name went into the annals. It was to be his only opportunity at baseball’s highest level.


Philadelphia teammates Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto were home-road polar opposites in 2023:

Harper slashed .352/.459/.622 with 15 home runs at Citizen’s Bank Park and .234/.340/.374 with six home runs in road games.

Realmuto slashed .257/.320/.576 with six home runs at Citizen’s Bank Park and .306/.364/.587 with 14 home runs in road games.

And then there was Kyle Schwarber. The Phillies slugger had 58 hits, 23 home runs, and 138 total bases at home, and 57 hits, 24 home runs, and 139 total bases on the road.



The Detroit Tigers announced their 2024 broadcast teams, which include Carlos Peña as a notable addition on the TV side. Evan Woodberry has the story at MLive.

At South Side Sox, Chrystal O’Keefe wrote about bike and pedestrian safety concerns regarding the proposed site for a new White Sox ballpark.

Pitcher List’s Adam Salorio broke down the arbitration cases of Luis Arraez, Adolís García, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Citing a report from Marlins beat writer Craig Mish, Royal Review’s Max Rieper wrote of how Kansas City and Miami may have discussed a deal that would have included Bobby Witt Jr. and Eury Pérez.

SABR’s oral history interview with Jon Matlack, which I quoted from in last Sunday’s column, is now archived and can be heard here.



Vern Stephens made eight All-Star teams and amassed 48.3 WAR in a 15-year career that spanned the 1941-1955 seasons. One of the top shortstops not in the Hall of Fame, Stephens finished with 247 home runs, 1,178 RBIs, and a 117 wRC+. A close offensive comp is Victor Martinez, who had 246 home runs, 1,174 RBIs, and a 117 wRC+.

Cecil Travis batted .327 and made three All-Star teams as a shortstop with the Washington Nationals from 1934-1941 before missing the next three seasons serving in the Army during WWII. Potentially a Hall of Famer had his career not been interrupted by service to his country, Travis was born and raised in Riverdale, Georgia.

Archie Reynolds pitched for three teams from 1968-1972 and finished his career with a record of 0-8. The right-hander had at least one loss in all five of his winless seasons.

Moose Stubing’s big-league managing career comprised eight games, all on an interim basis with the California Angels in 1988, and all were losses. Twenty-one years earlier, Stubing went 0-for-5 with the Angels in his only big-league action as a player.

Jug Thesenga pitched in five games for the Washington Nationals in 1944 and is one of just 39 South Dakota-born players in MLB history. Twenty-seven of the 39 took the mound, including Terry Francona, who in 1989 tossed a perfect inning for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 12-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Reggie Richter pitched in 22 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1911 and is one of 45 players born in Germany to play in the majors. Per his B-Ref bio page, the Düsseldorf native is the earliest big-leaguer with the name Reggie.

On today’s date in 1999, the Toronto Blue Jays traded Roger Clemens to the New York Yankees in exchange for David Wells, Graeme Lloyd, and Homer Bush. Clemens went 77-36 with the Yankees over the next five seasons. Wells went 37-18 in his two seasons with the Blue Jays.

The Florida Marlins signed Tim Raines on today’s date in 2002. The Hall of Fame outfielder, by then 42 years old, slashed .191/.351/.258 over 114 plate appearances in what would be his final big-league season.

Players born on today’s date include John Mayberry, a left-handed-hitting first baseman whose career included a four-season stretch (1972-1975) with the Kansas City Royals in which he launched 107 home runs and put up a 153 wRC+. All told, the Detroit native went deep 255 times while logging a 123 wRC+playing for four teams from 1968-1982.

Also born on today’s date was Zip Zabel, who went 12-14 with a 2.71 ERA with for the Chicago Cubs from 1913-1915. Born George Washington Zabel in Wetmore, Kansas, the right-hander set the record for most innings pitched in relief in one game, hurling 18-and-one-third frames on June 17, 1915 in a 4-3, 19-inning win over the Brooklyn Robins.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *