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John Vander Wal Jersey

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COMSTOCK PARK – Considering where he’s been in recent years, John Vander Wal doesn’t care about a little traffic congestion.

Orange barrels and one lanes that pop up along the drive from Comstock Park to Ada are specks in the road compared to what he’s seen.

Vander Wal, one of Major League Baseball’s all-time greatest pinch hitters, is in his first season as assistant coach with the West Michigan Whitecaps. That’s like walking across the street after nine seasons as a scout driving around the county.

“My commute is usually about 15 minutes. I mean, how great is that?” he said.

Vander Wal joined the Whitecaps this season as a third coach, joining hitting coach Mariano Duncan and pitching coach Jorge Cordova on the staff of first-year manager Lance Parrish.

Before joining the Whitecaps, he was a scout four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks after five seasons in a similar role with the San Diego Padres. That led to a lot of driving and flying around the country to be sitting and evaluating players from the seats of minor league ballparks.

So, Vander Wal welcomed the opportunity to become a coach. The benefit to come home made it special for the Hudsonville High School graduate.

“I’m fortunate enough to still be a part of the game and I get to go to my home after games half the time. I love that. That was the biggest selling card,” said the 52-year-old Vander Wal as the Whitecaps begin a seven-game homestand Tuesday. “It’s tough (being a scout). You leave three weeks at a time, home for a few days and then back on the road again.”

With the Whitecaps, Vander Wal has a myriad of duties ranging from positioning outfielders during games to assisting Duncan with hitters and offering his experience when called upon by veteran manager Parish.

“Between him and myself and Mariano, we have substantial big-league time,” Vander Wal said. “So, we try to have fun and teach these kids how to play at the professional level.”

“It’s quite a bit of transformation from playing college or high school ball to playing every single day,” Vander Wal said of most players on the Whitecaps. “It’s a learning curve. It’s tough to come out just about every day. They ask questions how to manage that, the mental grind of staying sharp and being successful every day as the season wears on.”

Vander Wal has experienced a lot in baseball. He went from Hudsonville High School to Western Michigan to the third-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1987.

The first baseman-outfielder made his major league debut with the Expos in 1991 that began a 14-year career with eight teams. The left-hander found a niche as a pinch hitter, setting a league record for pinch hits in a season with 28 in 1995 with the Colorado Rockies. Vander Wal finished his career in 2004 with 129 pinch hits, seventh all-time.

Overall, he appeared in 1,372 games with a career batting average of .261. His best season came in 2000 with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he hit 24 home runs with 94 RBIs and batted .299 in 134 games.

MORE: Vander Wal’s stats

He was inducted into the Western Michigan Broncos’ Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Now, with his son, Jake, a Forest Hills Central grad who is a sophomore outfielder at Central Arizona College, out of the house, it’s mostly Vander Wal and his wife, Debra.

“My wife is used to it. We get to see each other more now in the summer, but she gets it,” Vander Wal said. “She grew up in the game. When I was scouting, I was gone most of the summer. But that’s the way we’ve been. It’s baseball. But I’ll tell you, it’s nice to be home more in the summer.”

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Schaumburg, Illinois has no shortage of spectacle. A cursory Google search reveals that this suburb of Chicago has an indoor water park, an Ikea, and a Rainforest Cafe all stuffed within its city limits. But despite all of those commercial pleasures, I can’t imagine any of them fill the gaping spiritual hole left by the dissolution in 2010 of the crown jewel of Schaumburg: the Schaumburg Flyers, formerly of the independent Northern League, and formerly player-coached by Matt Nokes.

Nokes, as I’m sure you degenerates all know, was an All-Star once in his rookie campaign with the Tigers and then proceeded to slowly fade out of the Majors before tearing up the Northern League at the end of his career. A fun Matt Nokes story: While in the Minors, Nokes apparently flew his own plane to road games to avoid slumming it on the bus with his teammates. Via the Chicago Tribune:

While his Schaumburg teammates ride buses to such far-flung league cities as Sioux Falls, Fargo and Winnipeg, Nokes pilots his Lancair IV P aircraft—a four-seater with a pressurized cabin.

Nokes attributes his uncommon method of minor-league travel for his batting average hovering near .370 this season.

“I have not been on the bus yet,” Nokes said. “I’m definitely more rested. I fly the fastest single-engine plane in the world. Our longest trip is to Winnipeg [856 miles], and I make it in less than three hours.

I won’t lie to you: There are somehow only four Guys remembered in this week’s episode, including Matt Nokes. That’s isn’t because we skimped on length. Rather, Roth got sidetracked with long tangents not just about Schaumburg, but also—improbably—Neptune, New Jersey’s tendency to crank out Danny Devitos (plural). All that, and I still haven’t even mentioned Barry Lyons’s incredible chest hair. You can check that out for yourself.

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Next time Jeff Bridich is considering a multi-year deal for a relief pitcher, it should be somebody’s job to smack him in the face with a picture of Jake McGee.

There might be no better pitcher to represent the ups and downs of many talented relievers. The Rockies acquired McGee before the 2016 season and he was kind of a mess that season. Then he was stellar in 2017, with a 140 ERA+ and a jump back up to 9.1 K/9. He looked like the back-end lefty that the Rockies had wanted. So they signed him to a three-year contract.

McGee was back to being bad in the first year of that deal in 2018, which was the worst season of his career. The 2019 season was the second year of that deal, and McGee was certainly better. He missed time at the beginning of the year with a knee injury, then in 45 appearances, McGee had a 4.35 ERA (120 ERA+). He was inconsistent, however, and had largely faded from the picture in terms of high-leverage situations by the time we reached the end of the season.

Beyond the surface improvements in his stats, however, there are some concerning signs for McGee. His fastball velocity continued to decline for the third straight season, down to an average velocity of 93.4. In what might have been an adjustment to that dip, McGee used his slider more than he ever has at 19.1% of the time. He used his slider 5.1% of the time in 2018. He also threw essentially no curveballs this past season, so that might just be a tweak to his spinning pitches, but the point is that he threw fewer fastballs with less velocity and more secondary pitches.

That approach did at least seem to lead McGee to bounce back and get better results against left-handed hitters. If he can at least do that, McGee probably has some trade value if the Rockies want to pursue that route, but probably not a lot of value. He would also be a prime trade deadline candidate depending on his results and how the Rockies are doing, but here’s hoping they won’t be sellers next summer.

It’s likely that McGee will be in the Colorado bullpen once again, at least to start the season. His ability to continue to adjust his approach will determine whether or not he can end this contract on a high note.

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It was Wednesday, September 18th. The score was 4-4 Rockies in the top of the ninth and the Mets were threatening. One run had already scored in the inning and the Rockies were hoping to keep it close. Bud Black came out of the Rockies dugout and made a call to the bullpen, and in came Joe Harvey. I, an editor at a Rockies blog, said to myself, “Who is this guy?”

Such is the nature of relievers.

The Rockies were quiet at the trade deadline as the reality of a lost season became more and more clear during a six-win July. They weren’t inactive though! They got in on the action by sending 19-year-old lefty Alfredo Garcia from Short Season A-ball to their new favorite trade partners, the New York Yankees, and, in return, they got former 19th round pick Joe Harvey.

Why? The 27-year-old rookie had 11 strikeouts and seven walks in ten innings with the Yankees between April and May. He did have 38 strikeouts in 26 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, albeit with 15 walks. According to Brooks Baseball he has a four-seam fastball that gets “more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers” and a slider that “generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders.”

The other reason has more to do with where he was going than what he’s done. When you’re the 2019 Rockies and you have a bullpen ERA of 5.18 (third worst in baseball) and a strikeout rate of 8.36 K/9, worst in baseball, well it probably doesn’t hurt to add some bullpen arms, especially when you give up so little in return.

Colorado kept Harvey in Triple-A until rosters expanded. In nine appearances for ABQ, he allowed ten runs with ten strikeouts and five walks. Still, the Rockies needed arms and he was up once the Triple-A season ended. Officially he allowed only five runs in his nine appearances with six strikeouts and six walks. But that 5.63 ERA is actually pretty generous compared to his 6.53 DRA (see here).

Harvey came into that September game with the bases loaded and no outs. He then walked Pete Alonso on four pitches to drive in the go-ahead run for the Mets. He got Robinson Canó to hit into a double-play, but a run came across. Then Seth Lugo—the pitcher, mind you—singled to center. It didn’t matter that he got the next batter to line out; he came in with the game tied and Harvey left with a 7-4 Rockies deficit.

And his trade partner, Garcia? He posted a 2.49 ERA with a 4:1 K/BB ratio for New York’s Low-A club. Could be nothing. But it’s possible it won’t be. Such is the tragedy of the 2019 Colorado Rockies.

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The headliner might have left the building before the night was over, but the Tacoma Rainiers never looked back after taking an early lead to beat Salt Lake 8-3 behind Felix Hernandez’ rehab start.

Hernandez worked into the fourth inning, exiting after allowing back-to-back walks. He threw 69 pitches, struck out five, and allowed one run in the top of the first.

After speaking to the media outside the clubhouse during the seventh inning, Hernandez started the drive back north with the Rainiers still putting the finishing touches on the win. He could be back with the Mariners as soon as the weekend.

“First inning, the command wasn’t as good as it got in the second and the third,” manager Daren Brown said after the game. “You get to the fourth inning, and probably a little fatigue and tiredness. But he got his work in, he felt good post, so I think overall, a good outing for him.”

Behind him, the Tacoma lineup jumped on Salt Lake starter Parker Bridwell early, taking advantage of a rally for free for a five-spot in the second.

Three straight walks loaded the bases with one out for the heart of Tacoma order, and the Rainiers made Bridwell pay. Eric Filia hit a sacrifice fly to give Tacoma the lead, Ryan Court and Jaycob Brugman smacked back-to-back doubles, Joe Odom went up the middle for an RBI single, and the Rainiers suddenly had a 6-1 lead.

“We were patient enough to wait and get some guys on base, and then get a couple of big hits,” Brown said. “The walks help us, and we were able to take advantage of it.”

Andreoli tied the game immediately in the bottom of the first, launching a long home run to the video board in left-center field. Daniel Castro added two more in the sixth.

Mike Wright replaced Hernandez on the hill in the fourth and earned the win. He went four innings and allowing two runs on four hits, his fewest in an outing in August.

“He’s scuffled a little bit the last few, but I think tonight he did a nice job of holding them down,” Brown said.

Brian Ellington and Matt Carasiti each added scoreless frames.

Brugman went 1-for-3, and extended his streak of games with an RBI to six. Andreoli went 2-for-3; he’s reached safely in 15 straight.

The Rainiers are currently on a five-game winning streak, their longest of the season. They’ll try to extend it to six in the second matchup of their three-game series with the Bees on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.

Mariners reliever Dan Altavilla finding old form in latest Triple-A rehab stint

Before the Rainiers opened their three-game series against Salt Lake, pitching coach Lance Painter said he was quite happy with the major-league pitcher in Tacoma on a rehab assignment.

No, not that one.

“I’ve been very impressed,” Painter said of right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla. “I didn’t expect him to be as sharp has he has been. He’s comfortable on the mound, he looks good, his body’s working well. A lot of positives coming out right now.”

Altavilla is two appearances into his latest stint with the Triple-A club. He went an inning last Thursday, then another 1 1/3 innings Saturday after a day off. Both outings went 16 pitches, with 10 and 11 strikes in the first and second, respectively.

So far, he’s allowed one hit and one walk, and struck out three. More than that, though, Painter has liked what he’s seen from the man as much as the numbers.

“The velocity is there, the command has gotten much better, and it’s really because of his body working with his arm,” Painter said. “Early in the year, he was struggling staying connected, and had a hard time throwing strikes consistently. So now, when I watch his body movements, everything flows and there’s no violent early burst. Everything is working really well.”

Altavilla had Sunday and Monday off, but manager Daren Brown said he’s scheduled to throw again in Tuesday’s game. So the veteran right-hander, like most Seattle-based rehab players, was nowhere to be seen at Cheney Stadium Monday evening, staying closer to T-Mobile Park to get his work in.

“There’s no reason for them to fight the traffic every day to get here,” Brown joked.

Altavilla, the Mariners’ fifth-round draft pick in 2014, made it to the big leagues by August 2016. After posting a 0.73 ERA in 15 MLB outings that season, he spent 2017 bouncing back and forth between Seattle and Tacoma.

The past two seasons have been ones plagued by injuries. He’s made just seven appearances with the Mariners this year, and none since July 5. But his past two outings in Tacoma have been a cause for hope.

“We have talked probably for two years now about trying to get him back to where he was in 2016, and the body movements he had then,” Painter said. “I think he started fine again in Double-A, and now that I’m watching him, he’s hitting right where I we were talking about. Being able to stay loaded over the rubber and then driving down the slope. That’s what I see right now.”

Pedro Castellano Jersey

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En charla con Pedro Castellano El venezolano, nacionalizado mexicano, radica en Cancún y llegó a Tigres como un veterano de gran aporte Cancún, Q. Roo ( Marín) 12 de abril del 2011.- Hace 14 años llegó a la Liga Mexicana de Béisbol un pelotero nacido en Barquisimeto, Venezuela, para jugar con los Diablos Rojos del México y, desde que llegó, enseñó su valía como jugador y su don de gente que le ha hecho acreedor a hoy no ser considerado más un foráneo, es decir, que hoy es un gran mexicano.

Pedro Orlando Castellano Arrieta llegó este año a los Tigres de Quintana Roo, mediante el draft de peloteros que quedaron disponibles tras la salida de los Dorados de Chihuahua y Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo, equipo al que pertenecía el hoy pelotero nacional.

A continuación presentaremos diez cosas que no sabías de Pedro Castellano:

1.- Nacido en mayo de 1970 en la tierra de las reinas de la belleza Venezuela, Pedro Orlando Castellano Arrieta, nació en una familia de tres hermanos, donde él es uno de los dos varones, mientras que tiene una hermana, en su infancia vivían con el sueldo que generaban sus padres. Donde su progenitor trabajo como vendedor de autos y barman; mientras que su mamá era secretaria.

2.- Pedro, es el único de su familia que se dedicó al béisbol, deporte que práctica desde los cinco años cuando jugaba en una de las dos ligas que existían en Barquisimeto, con los Criollitos, y a partir de ese momento pisar un diamante, tomar un bat y fildear con un guante son parte de su vida.

3.- El “Caballero” siempre ha lucido un físico envidiable, sin embargo reconoce que lo que más le gusta de su natal Venezuela es la comida, al tiempo de sonrojarse cuando le preguntamos si la belleza de sus paisanas no era un orgullo de esa gran nación, por lo que no tuvo más remedio que reconocer, que ese también es un gran gusto de su Venezuela natal.

4.- La nacionalidad mexicana la eligió al lado de su esposa sin pensarlos dos veces, el buscaba un sitio para arraigarse ya que su profesión lo hacía viajar demasiado, pero en México desde que arribo en 1998 siempre era contratado, por lo que en el 2005 les ofrecieron una casa financiada justamente en Cancún, y aquí estableció su residencia.

5.- Como todo niño venezolano de la década de los setenta, el gran ídolo de Pedro Castellano, lo fue el torpedero de los Rojos de Cincinnati, el inmortal David Concepción. Y Pedro tuvo la gran experiencia de jugar contra él, y lo que más recuerda es que Concepción en el primer momento que se vieron, le dijo tú eres Castellano el de Barquisimeto, vas bien y le dio un abrazo.

6.- El béisbol siempre ha sido el deporte de Pedro Castellano, pero en su infancia y en la cancha de la cuadra jugaba baloncesto con sus amigos, y admite que le gusta mucho acudir a los gimnasios, y que la última vez que lo hizo fue en Xalapa viendo a los Halcones.

7.- La madera es un elemento que va de la mano de Pedro Castellano, y es que en su profesión como beisbolista el arma principal es un bat, mientras que en su hobbie su arma principal es un lápiz y una hoja de papel, ya que es un dibujante empedernido, y las caricaturas su especialidad.

8.- Todo deportista profesional cuenta con buen diente, y un venezolano-mexicano, puede disfrutar dos gastronomías exquisitas, por lo que confiesa que el sazón de su esposa es único, siendo el platillo de casa que más le gusta la lasaña, en tanto que en cuanto a la comida mexicana le fascina el pozole.

9.- Como todo buen venezolano, y hoy cancunense a Castellano Arrieta le gusta mucho la música alegre como la salsa; siendo el rey Oscar de León su músico favorito, al cual tuvo la oportunidad de ver en concierto en el puerto de Veracruz.

10.- Pedro Castellano y su esposa Martha Bracho eligieron este destino turístico de Cancún para radicar junto a sus tres hijos, y donde el más pequeño nació precisamente en esta ciudad, además de que el mayor Pedro Jr., juega con los Taxistas en la categoría 13-14 años.

Con esto has conocido más de Pedro Castellano, quien es uno de los tres jugadores que visten hoy la franela felina y que tienen como lugar de residencia Cancún; los otros dos son Abel Martínez y Ricardo Vázquez.

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Thomas Harding of noted on Twitter last night that the Colorado Rockies are likely to recall right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman for Sunday’s four-game series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If that does end up reigning true, Hoffman would be taking the rotation spot that was vacated by the Rockies optioning Rico Garcia back to Albuquerque, after making just one start with the Rockies.

Garcia started in place of German Marquez on Tuesday. Marquez was placed on the 10-day injured list with right arm inflammation on Monday.

For Hoffman, it would be his tenth start of the season for the Rockies and in his nine starts, he is 1-4 with a 7.81 ERA (68 ERA+), a 6.43 FIP, and a 1.661 WHIP.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rockies use Hoffman a bit more in September to see if he has any improvement in his results so that they can determine whether or not he’s part of their future plans.

Scott Oberg posted on his personal Instagram page on Thursday that he is “looking forward to having a normal off-season and being ready spring training!” after resolving his issue with blood clots in his right arm.

Oberg had a procedure done in Denver that dissolved the clot between his shoulder and elbow and when the Rockies went to St. Louis last weekend, he traveled with the team and had a full vascular surgery in St. Louis by Dr. Robert Thompson, who also did his previous surgery in 2016 had to address Oberg’s blood clots. He also has performed other thoracic outlet surgeries on other MLB players, including former Rockies ace Aaron Cook.

He was also at Coors Field on Thursday and in uniform when he spoke to the media, including Thomas Harding of, before the game.

“I was hoping that it wouldn’t come to this, but I knew I wasn’t sore and I knew I wasn’t hurt,” said Oberg. “It just felt really heavy. I did some activities in the morning — pick up my daughter, go get coffee. My arm just wouldn’t bounce back. It was very heavy, very fatigued. I had to address it.”

However, Oberg said that there is no chronic condition with it, just a freak incident with it. Weight training will be delayed for him but he expects to have a normal throwing program some time this offseason and be ready for Spring Training.

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You probably best know Vinny Castilla as one of the Blake Street Bombers of the early years of the Colorado Rockies, along with Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, and Dante Bichette. He leads the Rockies all-time list in games played at third base (1098), third in Rockies franchise history in home runs (239), fifth in Rockies history in RBI (745), and fifth in hits (1206).

It has been 13 years since he last played a major league game, though. In his retirement, he has stayed involved with the Rockies as a special assistant to Rockies GM Jeff Bridich.

While the “special assistant” duties vary depending on the organization, for Castilla, he does a lot of different things.

“I do a little bit of everything,” said Castilla. “I’m a mentor for some young kids in the organization, especially some Latin guys. I help them, when they come to the major leagues. I go to the instructional league and work with the young players.”

“I get asked about some [amateur] players and whether we should sign them. I travel with the team maybe once or twice [throughout the season] but I usually stay with the Rockies during home games. I also help out [Rockies Vice President of International Scouting and Development] Rolando Fernandez too, sometimes, when we sign a Mexican player. So I do a little bit of everything and I love my job.”

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Like fellow PuRP Reid Humphreys, Justin Lawrence was a two-way player in college. Unlike Humphreys, Lawrence wasn’t really successful at either “way” initially. A lack of game action gave the righty plenty of time to monkey with his motion, including a lowering of his arm slot that improved his fastball’s velocity and life. This success was enough to get Lawrence noticed by the Rockies as a 12th round pick out of a Florida community college in 2015 and earn him a $100k signing bonus.

Thomas Harding of has more on Lawrence’s epiphany in a 2015 profile.

Lawrence (who, fun fact, was born in the Panama Canal Zone) did not find immediate success as a pro. In fact, in his professional debut season Lawrence allowed 23 earned runs, 31 hits, and 16 walks in 24 2⁄3 frames between Grand Junction and Boise. For many prospects, that would mean a trip to extended spring training or even a release, but the quality of Lawrence’s stuff was intriguing enough that the Rockies assigned him to Low A to start 2016. In Asheville, Lawrence again produced poor results (7.18 ERA, 5.7 K/9 rate in 36 1⁄3 innings) before getting sent down to Short Season A Boise.

Finally with Boise in a return engagement something clicked. The 6’3” hurler finished with a strong 28 2⁄3 inning stint in the Northwest League with a 2.20 ERA and strong 12.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 rates. Given another chance at Asheville in 2017, Lawrence continued his strong form by posting an elite 16 1⁄3 inning stretch where he allowed 3 runs on 10 hits and 4 walks while striking out 20 — that’s a 1.65 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 11.0 K/9 rate. Unfortunately, a torn lat muscle ended the season prematurely, but his dominance and stuff got him on the radar of national prospect watchers entering 2018.

Assigned to High A for 2018, Lawrence quickly showed that his 2017 small sample size dominance wasn’t a fluke. Facing the daunting hitter’s haven of Lancaster and the California League, Lawrence renewed his mastery over minor league hitters. In 54 1⁄3 innings, Lawrence compiled 62 strikeouts (10.3 K/9) and 11 saves en route to a 2.65 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .188 BAA. Yes, the walks were elevated at 4.5 BB/9 and his 3.61 FIP indicated some luck in Lawrence’s results, but a 6.0 H/9 rate is phenomenal especially in that environment. Furthermore, Lawrence demonstrated the ability to pair strong strikeout stuff with extreme ground ball tendencies, as over 63% of his batted balls allowed were on the ground, the 3rd straight year he’d eclipsed that mark.

To put a cherry on top of Lawrence’s 2018, while he wasn’t given the mid-season promotion to Hartford that Humphreys earned, he was selected for the prestigious Arizona Fall League. There he served as a part-time closer for Salt River, allowing 4 runs on 10 hits and 6 walks while striking out 13 over 10 2⁄3 frames. It’s a small sample against other top prospects, but I’ll take the strong K rate even if the results overall weren’t elite. It certainly was enough for the Rockies to protect Lawrence from the Rule 5 draft after the season with a 40 man roster slot despite his zero innings above A ball.

In the below video of Lawrence from the AFL, you can see why it might be very difficult to hit against him:

In their recently posted system overview, Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus ranked Lawrence 12th:

Lawrence got beat in a couple high-profile prospect showcases and ran out of steam a bit by Arizona, but he was absolutely disgusting for most of the year. At his peak he threw a nice stretch of innings in the Antelope Valley summertime elements. He sits in the high-90s with a darting, two-plane slider a dozen mph slower, all out of a twisting, slingshotting delivery that creates a real tough pick-up for righties and a pretty difficult one for lefties too. It was unclear to the naked eye why he never graduated to Hartford last season, but if he brings that stuff with him when he does, he’ll force his way into Colorado’s bullpen development plan this season.

2080 Baseball’s John Eshleman spotlighted Lawrence in May:

The obvious advantage of a side-arm pitcher is the funk; it’s tough for hitters to pick up a low slot that they aren’t used to. In addition to command challenges, the unique angle of a sidearm or submarine pitcher often brings on a corresponding loss in velocity–but not in Justin Lawrence’s case. He pitches from a true side-arm slot, pumping gas up to 98 mph that feels like it’s coming straight at the ear of a right-handed hitter. Needless to say, it’s an uncomfortable at-bat.

The fastball movement was downward, and in my two April looks, Lawrence beat lefties with the heater on the outer-third of the plate. He isn’t pinpoint to spots within the zone, but his velocity, angle, and movement are enough to give him some breathing room in the command department. His fastball plays as plus, with 70 velocity, 60 movement, and 45 command. An 87-to-91 mph splitter dominates A-Ball hitters playing off his fastball, as he’s able to release it through the same tunnel and generate separation and finish on the pitch down in the zone. Lawrence’s splitter is more a chase pitch than one he lands for early-count strikes; how well he’s able to incorporate secondary pitches such that better hitters can’t just sit fastball is the biggest determinant to Lawrence reaching his ceiling. currently places Lawrence 16th in the organization:

Healthy again this year, Lawrence is thriving again thanks to his fastball. Most pitchers don’t throw harder after dropping their arm angle, but he went from a mid-80s heater when he used a more conventional three-quarters slot to working at 92-94 mph and reaching 97 while in junior college. Now he deals at 94-98 mph with premium sink that generates plenty of groundouts.

When Lawrence keeps his sinker down in the zone, hitters have a hard time putting the barrel on the ball. He also throws a short slider in the low 80s and will mix in a decent changeup to counteract left-handers. His control hasn’t been as sharp in 2018 as it was a year ago, but if he can provide more strikes he could advance quickly.

The profile of Lawrence, as is the case with most relief prospects, is headlined by a plus fastball. In Lawrence’s evaluation, the fastball receives a 65 grade but the slider (50), changeup (45) and control (45) grades leave the 24-year old looking a bit one dimensional. At least it’s one heck of a dimension!

Lawrence should begin the year in Double-A and, thanks to his 40 man roster slot and ability to serve as a ROOGY at a Major League level right now, could be a factor for the big league bullpen as soon as this year. Of course, he’ll have plenty of competition for those opportunities as the Rockies already have an over-stuffed pen without even considering any prospect arms. Even with the congestion though, Lawrence is too nasty not to consider an integral future building block for the Rockies, which is why I ranked him 19th on my personal PuRPs ballot with a 40 Future Value as a middle reliever with late inning potential.

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We are now a couple weeks removed from the WWE SuperStar Shake-Up. We have seen several different WWE Superstars successfully transition to their new show post-Shake-Up. Some transitioned better than others, but we have at least seen these SuperStars on the big stage making their presence known. Some WWE Superstars can’t even say that right now. One of those Superstars is Eric Young.

There were a number of tag teams and stables split up during the Shake-Up, but no split was done quite as chaotic as SAnitY. It’s almost ironic considering that SAnitY’s characters were always agents of chaos. Unfortunately, this time, chaos wasn’t in SAnitY’s favor. Chaos split the former NXT Tag Team Champions across three different brands: Dain to NXT, Wolfe to NXT UK and EY to Raw.

Considering how SAnitY’s SmackDown run this past year was disappointing, some critics are looking at this breakup as a blessing in disguise. Well, for everyone except EY that is.

Killian Dain can live up to his potential as a one of a kind big man by pursuing a singles career in NXT. Meanwhile, without spoiling future NXT UK tapings, Alexander Wolfe has a bright future ahead of him already.

No one expects much from Eric Young on Raw. Which is somewhat understandable given WWE don’t tend to push guys nearing the age of 40. However, let’s not forget that men on the red brand – like AJ Styles and Robert Roode – are experiencing some strong pushes at the moment despite being well past the age of 40. That is one reason why singles glory remains in EY’s future, but it actually goes much deeper than that.

Probably the strongest attribute on Eric’s side here is his character presence. Between his time in IMPACT to his time in WWE, he always had a strong character presence. He always knew exactly how to get the crowd to gravitate in his favor and no matter what wacky character fell into his lap, he was able to make it work. Not enough people talk about this, but EY’s almost had as many drastic character changes as Chris Jericho has had.

We’ve seen Young as the conniving Canadian, the cowardly chicken too afraid of his own pyro, a super hero, the snobby heel, the dirt dumb redneck and a crazed lunatic. That hardly cuts the butter on Young’s history with characters, but the point is he always made them work. Hell, even when he first entered an NXT ring for the very first time, he came in as just plain ole Eric Young and the crowd still gave him a raucous reaction. Why? Because he works on the mic. Because he knows how to get a crowd to eat out of the palm of his hand whether he wants them to hate him or love him.

That’s a special skill that’s missing from much of the roster. EY can be used as – at the very least – upper midcard talent who’s there to teach the young guys he works with a thing or two about character work by means of telling compelling storylines with them. Or, WWE could finally realize how badly they’ve slept on EY’s talents these last couple years and try him out in the main event.

While SmackDown seems newly primed with fresh young talent, Raw appears to be where seasoned vets like Styles, Roode and Seth Rollins are allowed to thrive. In a setting like this, Eric Young will fit right at home.

Now, all he has to do is debut on Raw and he might just be money.