Spiegel: MLB is full of great young players
Something wonderful is happening. The best young ballplayers are getting to the major leagues in droves.
In town, we've seen rookies Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and Carlos Rodon.
If you've checked in with our teams in each series so far this season, you've also seen the Mets' Noah Syndergaard, Houston's Carlos Correa, Minnesota's Byron Buxton, Texas' Joey Gallo, Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, and now the Dodgers' Joc Pedersen.
These guys are exciting and highly skilled, if often very raw.
They are also necessary. Cheap talent is crucial to today's game.
Read this, from Mike Radcliff, Twins VP of personnel. That organization has been committed to growing their own going back to the '80s.
"With the changes in the last CBA, it's harder to just go the free-agent route to improve your roster. You can't just spend $27 billion on the best players anymore -- you've got to have some productive guys with lower salaries," Radcliff said. "Teams that didn't used to pay much attention to player development are emphasizing it now, just like the rest of us, and guys who look like they can play are getting call-ups right away."
In this space last week you read where not paying attention to development can get you.
Big salary-relief trades are harder to pull off (save the Red Sox-Dodgers bailout of 2013), and add in the PED testing that now lowers the utility of some aging stars to the list of factors.
Theo Epstein was on the Score during spring training, and tried to calm expectations for this Cubs season. He pointed out that only three position players from last year's top 100 prospect list ended up making an impact in the big leagues. And one of them was Jose Abreu, a veteran aged ready-made slugger.
From the Baseball America top 100 prospects list for 2015, an amazing 13 of the top 20 have already seen the majors, including nine of the top 13.
There are two great unintended consequences to all the kids showing up this fast.
First, it's appealingly relatable to a much needed young fan base to see players born in the '80s and '90s, like themselves. The sport has skewed old for far too long.
Secondly, it's creating a connectivity for fans who have clued into the plans of the many teams building their organizations with a long view.
That kid Schwarber you heard you were supposed to be pumped about at draft time last year? Well, here he is in your daily box scores.
That first-rounder from Vanderbilt the White Sox took three weeks ago? There's Carson Fulmer pitching in the college world series on ESPN, and he could be in the big-league rotation by 2016.
This attachment to the feeder system is usually reserved for the NFL and the NBA. But it's never been more present in MLB, especially in an internet age when fans can see which organizations are stocked and which are not. The availability of that knowledge might make more teams willing to go the sensible overhaul route.
It's more fun if yours is one of the stocked ones.
And your team is likely to give you the big league payoff sooner than ever before.
I could write three columns a week on what Joe Maddon gives us Tuesdays at noon on The Score. He lets you in, and always seems to have a well-reasoned plan. Whether the results are good or not, that's what you want.
I asked him why he pinch hit David Ross for Chris Coghlan, and then Mike Baxter for Chris Denorfia, five days prior in the ninth inning of a tight game.
He recalled and referenced everything that went into it. Mark Rzepcynski's ground ball rates against lefties. Ross' ability to hit fly balls and stay out of the double play. Bryan Shaw's three-year splits on righty-lefty matchups, and how those are more valued than this season's smaller sample.
He intellectually muscled up at the question, and reminded you why he's as highly regarded and paid as he is.
Can't wait to challenge him again.
• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The Spiegel & Goff Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter at @MattSpiegel670.