With Spring Training underway, MLBPipeline.com's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have their Grapefruit League and Cactus League itineraries mapped out to survey some of the game's best prospects. The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of their Pipeline podcast, in which they discuss which prospects they're most looking forward to seeing.
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Tim McMaster: Let's move on to the Cactus League … who are you excited to see? I know you're going to see a lot more camps in the desert than you are in Florida.
Jim Callis: Yeah, I think I see eight teams in Arizona compared to four in Florida, and you know me, I can't just give you one name because there's too many of them.
I guess the guy I'm most intrigued by is [right-handed pitcher] Jose Albertos with the Cubs. This is a guy they purchased from a Mexican League club in 2015. He made his U.S. debut as a 17-year-old in the Arizona League: four innings, one hit, one walk, seven strikeouts, hit 97 miles per hour, worked both corners, showed a well-above average changeup, a pretty good slider, and that was the only game he pitched all year.
He was shut down as a precautionary measure. He had some forearm soreness. It's weird because, and Jonathan you can help me with this ... there have been other outlets that have written that he wasn't really hurt and the Cubs had some ulterior motive for shutting him down, which I actually asked the Cubs about this and they say: 'No.' I mean, he had some forearm stiffness, and they shut him down as a precaution.' But I couldn't even think what would be the upside? He's not eligible for the 40-man roster. Like, I don't even know why you would shut the guy down if you didn't need to. I mean, the guy, you want him to pitch more than four innings over the season. I mean, can you think of any reason why you would make up an injury for an 18-year-old kid so he wouldn't pitch anymore the rest of the summer?
Jonathan Mayo: I've got nothing.
Callis: The only thing I can think of is, if they were afraid he was so good that teams would demand him in trade talks or something. I don't know. But in any case, what's weird about it too, for a guy who only pitched four innings, I think he ended the season No. 10 on our Cubs prospect list, which we're revamping right now, and he'll be in the top 10 again.
I was joking with the Cubs guy that I was talking to, I have never seen a guy who kind of came out of nowhere -- it's not like this guy was a first-round pick -- pitch four innings and created this much buzz. So I'm interested in seeing him more than anyone. And there's just so many talented guys out there.
I mean, [right-handed pitcher, No. 93 overall prospect] Walker Buehler is a guy coming back from injury. He lit 99 last summer. [Right-handed pitcher, No. 49 overall prospect] Yadier Alvarez, I think, has a chance to put his name in the running for best pitching prospect in baseball by the end of the season. They're both Dodgers.
The Rangers have a really exciting, young Latin outfielder named [No. 55 overall prospect] Leody Taveras I'm curious to see.
And I'm actually curious, I think I have Indians camp on my schedule, [left-handed pitcher] Brady Aiken's stuff. You're talking about guys coming back from Tommy John surgery. His stuff was not as sharp as it had been in the past, and I'm curious to see what Brady Aiken looks like.
It's fun. I mean, Spring Training is probably my favorite time of the year, just because you can go see so many young players at once. The Arizona Fall League is a lot of fun too, but there's only six or seven players from every organization. Here, you can kind of pick your spots and go see whoever.
McMaster: Jonathan, you're now allowed to pick 10 players from Arizona.
Mayo: I pick everyone. Well, you know, it's hard because, like I said, I'm there at the very beginning. I am going to seven camps. My first day, I get to go to White Sox camp, so I kind of hit the motherlode right out of the gate just in terms of the volume of new prospects just feeling their way in a new organization. All the trades they made in the offseason and all really the high-level prospects they're bringing in. So seeing [infielder, No. 2 overall prospect] Yoan Moncada and [right-handed pitcher, No. 11 overall prospect] Lucas Giolito and on and on will be a lot of fun.
There are some other guys that I really would be excited to see that I may not get to see. I'm actually a little surprised the Reds did not invite [infielder, No. 26 overall prospect] Nick Senzel to big league camp, given how advanced he is. Maybe they just didn't want to put any pressure on him. Now, the way a lot of these camps are set up, the Minor League is close by and he may get brought over to play in a bunch of games, but he did not get a big league invite. So he would've been somebody I would've been interested to see.
Likewise, I'm going to Padres camp. I would love to see [right-handed pitcher, No. 97 overall prospect] Cal Quantrill throw. I'm not sure I'm going to get the chance to because that's on Feb. 25, so I'll have to see where he's at and if anything is going on. But those are some of the guys that really stood out.
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