https://blogs.fangraphs.com/sunday-note ... -pandemic/
Really good read on player development during the pandemic...
Guys on 60 man rosters:
“I’m not going to say it’s the same as professional games, because it’s not,” the Pirates GM said on Thursday. “But through video and technology, and the need for our pitchers in Altoona to get actual game experience, we do have an opportunity to evaluate pitchers and hitters in a way that’s not too different than a game setting. We have professional pitchers facing professional hitters [and] we can measure that through high speed video, through Rapsodo and TrackMan. We can pretty much measure all of the things we would in a in a normal minor-league game… we just don’t have a box score at the end of the night.”
Matt Blood, Baltimore’s first-year farm director, sounded somewhat less enthusiastic when addressing the subject earlier in the week.
“It’s really hard to replicate live competition, live speed-of-the-game adrenaline, in an offseason type of mode,” said Blood. “Hitters not getting live at bats, pitchers not getting live hitters to face with runners on base when it matters, with stats being kept. All of that is definitely not ideal. We’ve done everything we can to help the players get better, both on the field and off the field, but you just can’t replicate what a season is without a season.”
Blood went on to say that progress is being made “in some areas that would have been more difficult to make if there had been a season.” When I asked if he was referring to tech-based strides, he said that wasn’t the case. Blood pointed to video group discussions —“educational-webinar type of stuff” — with mental skills among the topics. (Unlike Cherington, Blood was likely referring to players outside of the 60-man player pool; his comments coming via a Zoom conference call — hello 2020 media sessions — so following up for clarification wasn’t practical.)
“Look, there’s no way that I could, with a straight face, say that losing a full season of minor-league games is is helpful for development,” said Cherington, who once served as Boston’s farm director. “I think we can all agree that presents a challenge. On the other hand, improvement doesn’t just happen during the minor-league season. Games need to happen, players need to face competition — that’s part of getting better — but improvement can happen in all kinds of ways, at all kinds of time, in all kinds of places.
“Aside from the guys who are in Altoona right now, who are a part of formal programming, we have players all over the states, in the Dominican and Venezuela… and we’re still coaching them. They’re still training. In some cases that’s in an environment where they’re facing close to game-like competition. In some cases it’s probably not — they’re not getting that kind of challenge — so we’ll have to make up for it somehow down the road. We just have to be committed to not letting this have a long-term negative impact on any player in our system.”
We probably got a look at a more successful off screen development in 2019 with Brennen Davis. Davis was a different hitter in 2019 from 2018, though that year showed a ton of promise, and most of those improvements happened off the field due to injuries and then an offseason.
I'm fingers crossed on Richard Gallardo making huge gains during 2020. He would be 18 all season, 19 in September, and even coming into this year I was a little confused about how they'd manage his 2020. Like I was openly rooting for him to pitch in SB, before the pandemic, but that was more for entertainment and show than super necessary for a big Future. Off the top of my head, Felix Hernandez and Carlos Martinez are the only TOR guys who threw major innings in full season ball at 18. Padres had Luis Patino do it too. Felix is a legend but he's also really young, only like 33, and has pitched with diminished stuff for years already. Hell, now that we're here maybe it's OK to entertain the idea that Gallardo's a guy who had more to lose pitching in MiL games under a traditional schedule this year than gain!...BA mentioned the Cubs loved his work ethic in the weight room, it's a good time to bulk up. I think there are parralels to Davis in the development - both showing high ceiling potential in Rk/SS ball but not quite enough for national radars, high draft pick and high ranked IFA, similar signing bonuses (don't remember Davis' signing bonus but his slot value was a little over $1 million), and now lined up for SB at 19 instead....The dream for me has always been Gallardo throwing ML innings at 20, or at least in the upper minors and a phone call away, and don't really think the shutdown crushes that