A few minor fixes for the Fangraphs Cardinal prospect list

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    AvatarBob Reed


    A couple of days ago, my brothers, the Redbirds became the first organization this offseason whose prospects received grades from the Fangraphs evaluators. I feel that some were graded too high and some too low, so why not correct those?

    First, a bit of background. Like last year, Fangraphs assigned scouting-style number “grades” ranging anywhere from 35 to 70 in increments of 5, rather than specific granular numerical rankings within the entire minor league population. Therefore, instead of looking at a Cardinal farmhand and saying “Hey, that guy isn’t the 187th-best prospect, he’s really a top 100 type,” I must base my evaluations of their evaluations not on ordinal rankings, but rather on the quantity of players Fangraphs gave each “grade” 12 months ago. (Fangraphs will I’m sure post a top 100 or 125 or 150 list much later in the offseason, but for now we just have grades, and so they form the basis of all comments.)

    For instance, last year Fangraphs gave 141 prospects a grade of 50 or better, a whopping 321 guys a grade 45 or better, just 44 players a grade 55 or above, and so on. So this year if I think a Cardinal prospect belongs among the top 141 in all of baseball (like Dakota Hudson for example), but Fangraphs didn’t give him a 50 grade or better (like Dakota Hudson for example), then obviously in my eyes he has been underrated, so I’ll tell you what grade he does warrant.

    In the case of Hudson, despite his award-littered 3-year track record of robust health plus amateur and pro dominance, for me he does not quite belong among the overall top 44 prospects in baseball, due to his so-so strikeout rates and uneven command of the strikezone. So he doesn’t get a 55 grade. But he is nevertheless easily a top 25 or 30 pitcher, which would make him top 60 or 70 overall, so he gets a strong grade 50 from me.

    (If I had indulged in this exercise last year, I would’ve said that Harrison Bader was an excellent prospect, a borderline grade 50/55 type of prospect, and that Fangraphs was sorely mistaken in giving him a 45 grade. Turns out I was a bit overcautious and thus we were both wrong. Fangraphs however was much wronger. Bader should have been a straight 55. The KATOH projection model did the best job, ranking him #30 among all prospects.)

    Anyway this post has likely gone on long enough, so I’ll leave it for a day or two before actually diving in to the rankings. This will give folks here a chance to present any questions or critiques they might have.

    Brian WaltonBrian Walton

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    The theme is consistent, whether or not we agree with it. The Cards do not score well in high-end talent. So in this case, when they roll up the players across organizations, St. Louis gets a #19 system ranking. For those who want to read their general article, here is the link.


    The Cardinals’ individual player rankings are here.


    AvatarBob Reed


    Thanks for providing the links, Brian. I should’ve done so myself.
    Without getting into the specific grades of any given players, the Cardinal numbers from those two Fangraphs links do not match up with one another. This is because the individual player grades had not been updated until literally the moment the Cardinal list hit the website, while, oddly, the team rankings came out before.

    In other words, the Cardinal list was updated and published AFTER the alleged #19 ranking came out.

    The #19 ranking came out. Then a day or two later the Cardinal prospect list was updated, and their top 40 list was published. I know, this makes zero sense. But that’s how they did it. That #19 ranking reflects not even a snapshot in time. Rather, it reflects upgraded rankings for some players but not for others. It was a real bad idea to release the team values the way they did — they should have waited until after all teams had been updated. Instead they did it before any teams had been fully updated. Go figure.

    The Fangraphs St. Louis prospect list includes 37 players rated grade 40 or better.
    The site’s supposed #19 ranking includes just 29 players from StL graded 40 or above. So please forget about the so-called #19 ranking.

    In any case, whether Fangraphs ranks them #9, #19, or #29, the team rankings are obviously only as accurate as the individual rankings. With the advantage of perfect hindsight, last year Fangraphs overrated 3 or 4 Redbird prospects and underrated 20-23 of them. They were objectively terrible, every bit as bad as the notorious Baseball America list from 2010 when the Cards were ranked 29th but had a top 3 system. So this year’s F-G list is going to get some scrutiny. From this corner of the internet anyway. As far as the theme, I don’t have any Cardinal prospects within an overall top 30 list. No grade 60, 65, or 70 players. So I agree 100% that the Cards should not score well at all in the very highest-end talent. Because they have none.

    But I think it is quite likely that the massive mistake that Fangraphs and others made one year ago with Harrison Bader is being made again this year with others, specifically others like Hudson, Nunez, Montero, and maybe Urias for starters. But I’ll get into the details in the next post, probably tomorrow.

    If you want to see the future, look to the past. Based on his terrific defense & baserunning, and excellent hitting record, Harry Bader should have been a consensus top 50 overall prospect 12 months ago; but instead he didn’t even make anyone’s top 100, except for John Sickels at #92. Fangraphs had Bader well outside their top 141, and specifically concluded that he was “a platoon option in center more than an average regular.”

    But Bader was not merely competent defensively, as Fangraphs opined he would be. Instead he was outstanding in the field — exactly as the Baseball Prospectus numbers said he had been throughout the minors, and Clay Davenport’s website also said he had been at every pro stop. Both Davenport and BPro had Bader as a +14 runs CF per 150 games for his professional career, entering 2018. I think Fangraphs should’ve scouted those stat lines.

    Brian WaltonBrian Walton

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    Fangraphs’ farm system rankings are formula-driven, based on Future Value of the players, and are dynamic. They currently have the Cardinals at no. 20.


    They explain their process here.


    P.S. I have not studied their process to decide if I support it or not, but I will say that I like rankings that are less than totally subjective.

    AvatarBob Reed


    Sorry I missed your update, Brian — or rather, your update of the Fangraphs update.

    Okay, here’s the thing. All a Cardinal fan need know about Fangraphs is they STILL do not consider Angel Rondon to be a pitching prospect. He is dead to them. They do not list him among the 600 pitching prospects assigned value grades. That’s not hyperbole. They list exactly 600 arms and he is not among them.

    To illustrate precisely how bizarre this is, how incompetent+corrupt Fangraphs is re St. Louis prospects, and this twirler specifically, let’s put Angel Rondon’s Double-A pitching performance into a context.

    Here are the slashlines permitted this year in AA by some of the very elite pitching prospects in baseball. Beside each pitcher is his age and his current Fangraphs ranking among all pitching prospects.

    Dustin May (21 years old, #3 overall pitching prospect) .237/.297/.330
    Casey Mize (22, #4 pitcher) .226/.274/.322
    Sixto Sanchez (21, #8) .231/.273/.353
    Matt Manning (21, #11) .198/.264/.296
    Ian Anderson (21, #13) .202/.285/.296
    Angel Rondon (21, not top 600) .228/.309/.320

    As a blind man could see, these six are awfully, awfully similar in both age and AA pitching performance. And yet, with the myriad updates always going on with Fangraphs’ vaunted board, they haven’t found any room for poor Angel Rondon — who’s allowed one earned run or less in six of his past seven starts by the way. A few weeks back they (Fangraphs) finally at long last woke up and moved Ivan Herrera from 33rd to 8th in the organization. But still, no Rondon any place. And Dylan Carlson still juuust barely within their top 100 overall prospects, by the way. That cannot happen unless they’re idiots, corrupt, or both.

    I bet I know what you’re thinking, but there are no serious red flags for Rondon. There just aren’t. His velocity is already fine, with room for extra. (MLB pipeline’s recent update remarked that “he generates easy velocity, sitting 92-94 mph and bumping 95 in most outings, and is a candidate to add a few more ticks based on his remaining physical projection.”)

    He has no serious injuries much less arm surgeries in his past.
    He’s succeeded at every single level and never been old for his league.
    He isn’t a little guy, nothing like that. He’s listed at 6′ 2″ and 185, same as Jordan Hicks.
    He has no conditioning or other work ethic/personality questions.
    And finally he gets out lefties as well as righties.

    In fact, that last bullet point is real important. Because in 2018, Rondon actually DID have trouble with lefty hitters, permitting them a borderline unacceptable slashline of .259/.325/.427. But this year has been a different story.

    Righty Rondon has faced 269 lefty batters in 2019 and allowed them to slug .237.
    That’s not a typo, and that’s not a batting average line. Seriously, that’s slugging. That’s lefty slugging, permitted by a righty starting pitcher. Rondon across two levels has allowed lefties to hit .190/.291/.237. In Double-A they’ve slugged .286. So I’m guessing it’s fair to assume that Rondon’s changeup has probably taken a significant step forward this year.

    But honestly, the why is almost entirely irrelevant. What’s important is that Angel Rodon is a 21-year-old pro ballplayer enjoying conspicuous success in AA, with zero red flags either this year or in his professional track record. Therefore that makes him a good-or-better prospect. At least a top 200-250 overall prospect, regardless of repertoire. And in his specific case, knowing his details, I’d have him crowding the top 100 — especially if he finishes the season strongly.

    Oh, and the Cardinals are in the 8-10 range among all farm systems. Could maybe be one or two higher or lower than that, I suppose. I’d have to look closely at who has lost rookie eligibility lately, and who was traded.


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    If a high ranking Fangraphs official were in range, I would punch him smack dab on the snout for disrespecting Rondon to this degree! Thanks for shedding light on this, Bobby….you are indeed a baseball maestro.


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    Bobby Reed bringing the heat as usual!


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    Not a fan of fangraphs. They are overloaded with the amount of players they need to cover. I’m more interested in what TCN thinks of him (#22 and rising). Another recent ranking has him #15 (Birds on the Black). Based on his production… I have him higher.

    Good job Bob. I’ve been talking up Rondon on here nearly all season. For instance:

    May 24, 2019 at 8:45 am
    Rondon has been fabulous this season. After dominating the Florida State League he got the call from Springfield. After having some trouble in his first game up, he turns it around with the best pitched game for the S-Cards this season. (he didn’t realize that the Springfield team has found every way to lose games). Anyway, I love to see guys move up the ladder and find success. This is why I’m becoming a Rondon fan. IMO, he is a strong candidate for pitcher of the month. His one more start in May will be decisive.

    This is his 21 year old season. The 6’2″ righty is still learning and advanced from #35 (TCN) in April to #26 in May.

    • This reply was modified 11 months ago by Avatar14NyquisT.

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    Cards27 has also been promoting Rondon.

    July 11, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Of all of the starting pitchers on full season teams, Rondon could make a case for himself as pitcher of the year. He should be at Memphis next year. I may be forgetting someone, but my top 3 starters in terms of performance are:

    1) Fagalde
    2) Rondon
    3) Woodford

    And how about Derek Shore:

    Derek Shore

    BA updated its Top 30 rankings for each team today:


    The publication has Dylan Carlson as the Cardinals top prospect. Few others worth noting include Zack Thompson at No. 8, Junior Fernandez at No. 12, Julio Rodriguez at No. 15, Angel Rondon at No. 17, Edgar Gonzalez at No. 21, Tommy Parsons at No. 22 and Trejyn Fletcher at No. 23.

    We haven’t left Rondon out of anything!!

    AvatarBob Reed


    Thanks for all the feedback and kind words, folks! Thanks especially, Ny, for the copious Rondon info. (Of course we jinxed him tonight. That’s baseball.)

    Now, I hadn’t intended to make this thread a referendum on Angel Rondon per se. (Can a person hijack their own thread?) My noble goal was to peevishly excoriate the buffoons at Fangraphs — with supporting evidence — and place the StL farm system into it’s proper position among all franchises. So let’s do that.

    Below are the corrected Cardinal prospect grades. My grades, but using the Fangraphs numbering system. I’ve included the ranking range for each group of prospects, along with the numerical grade. To be clear, the ranking range numbers reflect how many prospects were given each grade by the buffoons.

    So, if I think Tommy Edman and Edmundo Sosa are roughly the 200th-best prospects in the minors, they would be assigned a grade 45 since Fangraphs graded 156 players at 45+ or better, and 132 prospects at exactly grade 45.

    (The players within each group are NOT listed in any particular order within said group. Well, except it’s hitters before pitchers. Also, the twirlers are italicized.)

    Grade 55 (rank between 16 and 44 overall): N. Gorman, D. Carlson

    Grade 50 (rank between 45 and 121): A. Knizner, I. Herrera, E. Montero

    Grade 45+ (between 122 and 156): M. Nunez, A. Rondon

    Grade 45 (between 157 and 288): T. Edman, E. Sosa, L. Thomas, J. Rodriguez, J. Torres, R. Arozarena, R. Helsley, J. Woodford, J. Oviedo

    Grade 40+ (between 289 and 406): C. Soto, R. Urias, P. Pages, P. Romeri, J. Fernandez, Z. Thompson, C. Thomas

    Grade 40 (between 407 and 902): J. Williams, L. Nootbaar, J. Yepez, T. Fletcher, M. Castillo, R. Heredia, R. Mendoza, J. De Los Santos, M. Gil, T. Fuller, T. Parsons, J. Ralston, A. Fagalde, K. Whitley, A. Pallante, G. Cabrera, A. Seijas, L. Jimenez

    Grade 35+ (between 903 and 1,235): Diowill Burgos, Brady Whalen, Albert Inoa, Leandro Cedeno, Carlos Arcia, Parker Kelly, Angel Cuenca, Gustavo J. Rodriguez

    Fangraphs rated at least 15 Cardinals higher than I did. I know it’s at least 15, because I excluded from my rankings 15 individuals who made the Fangraphs list, including the Cannabis Card, Griffin Roberts. (An honorary title inherited from Alex Reyes.) Also omitted from my list were noteworthies such as Jose Adolis Garcia, Luken Baker, and Stephen Gingery. I welcome any objections to my omissions as long as they’re relatively civil and include a vile anti-Cub remark.

    I didn’t bother to closely check the rest of the Redbird Fangraphs grades; I’m sure that a substantial majority of my grades will be higher than theirs. For example I have 16 Redbirds graded 45 or better, while the buffoons have four.

    A thousand apologies to any forgotten prospects. No doubt someone or two slipped through the cracks. And Griffin? Put down the pipe, son.



    Careful Bob Reed, some may accuse you of wearing rose colored glasses. You can’t show too much love for your team. You must bash them at every opportunity. At least that is what some have insinuated to me.

    Good job, as always.



    Bob Reed is an asset to this site. The only complaint I have about him is that he doesn’t post enough. His prospect info is second to none.

    Thank you, Bob, for the work you put in for us. I know that you put a lot of time into this, and I wanted to let you know that it is much appreciated. I’ve been reading your stuff here since before I even signed up for a handle to post.



    I always appreciate solid prospect info. Bob you’re definitely one of the better posters and from one classy guy to another, don’t stop posting these prospect reports.


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    Bob is an extreme asset to this site. His base of knowledge is unparalleled in my opinion.

    I would also say that a person can have glowing reviews of our prospects and still question the competence of our front office and I think Bob would agree with that. I recall him stating that his objective the remainder of the season was to focus on the minors because the events at our big league club were too frustrating for him. (I am paraphrasing)

    Perhaps Bob’s lens are very clear instead of rose colored.


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    It looks like Nootbaar has jumped over Toerner on the prospect ranking. I find it interesting that Toerner hit well at all his stops but has been stymied at Springfield. While Nootbaar was not as much known for his hitting (by his past production) but has now blossomed at AA SPFD.

    Both made early jumps up, Nootbaar was ready but Toerner maybe not as much. Nootbaar seems to have a higher ceiling than Toerner at this point.

    Because of the fast start Toerner got he was ranked at TCN at #36 in April, May #39, July #42 and will probably continue to decline until he gets AA pitching figured out.

    Nootbaar has not cracked the top-50 here but was mentioned as HM.

    ps Bob, thanks for posting your grading of our prospects.


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    The only prospects I would add to Bob’s list are Carlos Soler and Delvin Perez. I am high on Soler and haven’t given up on Perez.

    • This reply was modified 11 months ago by Avatargscottar.
    AvatarBob Reed


    Thank you one and all for the extravagantly generous sentiments.
    Glibness aside, I confess your words moved me just a little bit. Gracias.

    So anyway. Having had a few days to reflect and re-evaluate, I have a handful of names to add to the StL prospect list. And some math to put the farm system into its proper industry-wide context. The additions are:

    Catcher Jose Godoy, top 900.
    Jose is a solid defensive catcher according to Baseball Prospectus’ metrics, and a downright elite one per Clay Davenport’s numbers. Davenport projects him as a 2.5 WAR backstop in his prime, if not a hair better. In other words, Godoy — who turns 25 in two months — figures to be a very good MLB backup for awhile if given the opportunity, or maybe even a viable starter for a year or two at some point. However, the Redbirds themselves have never prioritized playing time for Jose, which makes me think that “good backup” is his ceiling. He’d be a top 400 were he a year younger.

    Outfielder Johan Mieses, top 900.
    One of the more up-and-down hitting profiles you’ll find anyplace. Davenport and B-Pro both like the glovework, and Davenport’s projection model thinks the power is pretty darn real. Mieses is neither young nor old, having just turned 24 a month ago, but he might be in one of the 3 or 4 farm systems deepest with future MLB outfielders, so I doubt his career will start under the Arch. Either way, top 900 is quite cautious for someone projected at 2.5 WAR in his prime by Clay Davenport.

    Pitcher Yordy Richard, top 1,200.
    This 16-year-old righty has a 4.81 ERA in a pitcher’s league, but here’s the rest of the story. (Apologies to Paul Harvey, who doubtless just spun in his grave.) In his first three Dominican Summer League appearances, Yordy Richard permitted 13 earned runs across just 9 innings. He whiffed 10 (good!) and walked 10 (not good at all!). But over his next seven outings, he’s been a new man. Well, a new kid. He’s twirled 30 innings and allowed just 8 earned runs, with a solid 26-to-7 K/BB ratio. For me that’s enough to easily make a top 1,000 list, much less a top 1,200. Anyone wants to make him a top 900, I wouldn’t debate the point.

    Third baseman Brandon Hernandez, top 1,200.
    The 17-year-old Hernandez began his season 6-for-40 with 19 strikeouts in 11 games (ugh) and zero extra base hits. But he has turned things around beautifully. In the next 25 games, he fanned just 20 times, drew 15 walks, and batted ~.320/.430/.470, which is very, very good for the DSL. His numbers don’t dazzle at a glance, but Hernandez has been excellent for awhile now, and that’s enough to get on the end of a massive top 1,200 list.

    Second sacker Brendan Donovan, top 1,200.
    This one I could be talked out of, frankly. Donovan is two years too old for the Midwest League, and if his own organization thought much of him he’d already have been promoted to High-A. But facts are facts, and he’s been real good at the dish this year (wRC+ of 136) and just as importantly for overage prospects like Brendan, he’s shown a sturdy BB/K tally. Neither B-Pro nor Davenport like his fielding, so I don’t see utilityman in his future. But hey, surprises can happen — and after all, I’m talking top 1,200 not top 200. Old guys with good plate discipline account for many of baseball’s better late bloomers, so I’ll give Brendan a seat at the very back of my list.

    Catcher Aaron Antonini, top 1,200.
    And speaking of older prospects with admirable plate discipline…Antonini, a native Venezuelan taken in the 18th round out of Middle Tennessee State this year, is a 21-year-old batting .256 in the Appalachian League. So why on Earth would he make a list that excludes Griffin Roberts, Luken Baker, Delvin Perez and Seth Elledge, et. al.? Well, first Antonini very recently had a birthday. Therefore it’s actually his age 20 season, which means he’s effectively just one year too old for his league rather than two. And second, that aforementioned strikezone control. You see, AA is hitting .256/.396/.651 and has 9 walks to just 5 strikeouts in 53 trips to the plate. It’s rookieball, I realize. And he’s old, I know. But there’s clear evidence of the things we want to see: patience, power, contact. So there’s upside there, particularly if he can keep catching. Okay, to be blunt he’ll likely flatline at Peoria next year. But for the present he’s a mildly intriguing longshot of a prospect.


    So now the math. Using my prospect grades, and applying the dollar values for prospects provided by Fangraphs, the St. Louis Cardinal farm system has a paltry $37M worth of pitching prospects, which is pretty bad. Glancing at the Fangraphs table, Redbird arms would rank approximately in the 22-25 range, I’d say. But the good news is the Cardinals also have $262M worth of position players, a total which would trail only the Big Two farm systems of San Diego and Tampa Bay. (The Friars and Devil Rays really are easily the two strongest farm systems right now. No one else comes within shouting distance.)

    The Redbird overall grand total then is $299M. This would rank them 4th in minor league monetary value behind only the two juggernauts and the Dodgers. But since the Cards are so severely imbalanced down on the farm in terms of hitters/pitchers, there are some other organizations whose more balanced farm systems I’d prefer even if their total value doesn’t quite match that of the Baby Birds. (Atlanta, Minnesota, and Miami spring immediately to mind.)

    In any case, I’d have to do a deep dive investigation of other farms to parse the rankings precisely — and moreover, I’d need to figure out who’s going to lose prospect eligibility by Labor Day on top of it. (And I don’t even know that about Cardinal guys like Tommy Edman or Lane Thomas for example.) But now that the numbers are crunched, folded, spindled, and mutilated, I’m more comfortable than ever in saying that the Cards have a top 8-10 farm system, and maybe a touch better. Certainly and absolutely no worse.

    Brian provided this link earlier, but I see no reason not to do so again here. This will keep everyone, including my lazy self, from having to scroll up and search for it. This is the total farm system values for all franchises, and how Fangraphs arrived at the numbers, prospect-by-prospect:



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    Bob, do you feel this imbalance between pitchers and position players is the reason why our affiliates have struggled w/l wise this year despite being top 10 overall?

    AvatarBob Reed


    No doubt in my mind that it’s the primary reason, gscott.

    When the bats are bad, that’s it. There is no secondary effect whatsoever.
    But when starting pitching is bad, it creates a nasty domino effect where the relievers get pressed into service too much, and then they can get overworked and ineffective, or even injured. Happened with Jesus Cruz, and it’s about to happen with Junior Fernandez if the big club isn’t very careful. (A workload of 15 innings per month is awfully, awfully heavy for a 22-year-old bullpen arm. Too heavy I’d say.)

    And also, the boring counterintuitive truth is that farm system winning percentage doesn’t always correlate neatly with the number of top prospects — and it’s chiefly the top 150-200 types who drive the farm system value. Not infrequently it’s big seasons from overage non-prospects that help push a minor league nine over the top, rather than seasons like Dylan Carlson is having now.

    And speaking of him, isn’t Carlson/Springfield a microcosm of what we’re talking about? Springfield’s having a bad year. They have the second-worst record in their league — and the best individual player in their league. They’re a bad team because they have the worst ERA in the league, and it isn’t close. Even if Elehuris Montero were hitting like Carlson, they’d still be a sub-.500 team because of the sub-mediocre moundsmen. And it’s like that all over the system.

    Also, regarding your earlier remarks about the competence of the Cardinal front office: I wouldn’t exactly say that I question their competence. With today’s firing of Mark Budaska I’m absolutely certain they have none.

    The farm system is in good shape not great shape, and at the MLB level, from the three-years-of-ineptness front office to the incredible dullard in the dugout, they’ve become a laughingstock of directionless incoherence. I can’t wait until the minor league season is over so I don’t have to report about/think about this organization any more.

    The thing of it is, it does not matter one jot how good or great are the position players & pitchers you develop, if you trade them away for next to nothing — or retain them and fail to play them.


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    I can’t wait until the minor league season is over so I don’t have to report about/think about this organization any more.

    Bob, this is a sad statement and one that I hope you’ll reconsider at least partially. I think many of us are frustrated with the direction of the franchise but there are also a lot of first class folks who value and appreciate posters like you, and would really enjoy chewing the proverbial fat with you over the winter and dreaming on better times (which will eventually come, even if it feels like they won’t). So I hope you’ll stick with us for the TCN top 50 voting and pop in over the winter to talk prospects and whatever other news we might get.


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    Indeed stlcard25. Bobby makes baseball…..along with certain aspects of life…..justifiable. Our front office maneuvers (or lack thereof) may have put Bobby on his back… smack dab on the mat. But if there’s one thing I know about Bobby, it’s that he won’t be in that position anywhere near the count of 10. He’ll rise from the mat like the phoenix, dust the dirt off his trousers, then take one quick turn to his right….then one quick turn to his left…..then he’ll hop right back into his saddle, poised yet once again to take on all comers. Godspeed Bobby….hurry on back!


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    I get what Bob is feeling about the system… its been noticeably disappointing and frustrating following less progress up and down with each team. Much different than the excitement ’18. I’m starting to put together my end of season top prospects list. In general the performance is down and I might have to trim my list to 45.

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