Orlando Merced Jersey

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a working agreement with the Gigantes de Carolina of the Puerto Rican Winter League. That seems like a natural match-up for the Pirates, whose most famous player is from Puerto Rico, and the actual name of the league is Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, which translates to the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League. The Gigantes play at Roberto Clemente Stadium.

The Pirates sent several players to Puerto Rico last year in the first winter of their agreement, including Gage Hinsz and Rodolfo Castro. This year they are already sending outfielder Chris Sharpe, pitcher Ike Schlabach and third baseman Dylan Busby. The season there opens up on Friday. More prospects will likely be added during the winter season, which runs into January, and possibly early February if the Gigantes win their league and move on to the Caribbean Series.

I wanted to take a look at the history of the Pirates in Puerto Rico. Having Roberto Clemente made the Pirates popular in the country, and they are still to this day due to that connection. That could have given them an advantage to sign players from the country, but any advantage would have been taken away when Major League Baseball added Puerto Rico to the amateur draft back in 1989. In recent years (the Neal Huntington era), the Pirates have only drafted three players from the country, Edwin Roman, Bengi Gonzalez and Nelson Jorge. None of them made the majors, Roman didn’t get out of the GCL, and Jorge made almost zero progress in five years, never making it above Bristol.

Here’s a list and brief summary of the MLB players from Puerto Rico who have played with the Pirates. This includes all of the players to put on a Pittsburgh uniform, but I noted which ones were actually signed by the Pirates, which is obviously a much smaller list.

Clemente is far and away the best player from the country according to Baseball-Reference WAR. His 94.4 career WAR is 24.9 points higher than Carlos Beltran, who has the second best WAR from the country. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have other great players though. Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Ivan Rodriguez and Orlando Cepeda were all from the PR.

To find the second best player by WAR from Puerto Rico who played on the Pirates, you have to go down to 15th overall with outfielder Sixto Lezcano, who played the final 72 games of his career with the 1985 Pirates. One spot lower is Benito Santiago, who spent his last six games with the 2005 Pirates after an ill-advised trade. Two good players, but neither really did much for the Pirates.

The first player to see somewhat significant time after Clemente was pitcher Juan Pizarro, who was teammates with the Great One in 1967-68, then returned to end his career in 1974. He made 11 starts and 58 relief appearances for the Pirates, picking up nine saves and ten wins. Even though Pizarro ranks 22nd in WAR on this list, he’s actually the second highest pitcher, trailing only Javier Vazquez. It has clearly been an offense-first island for baseball.

Next for the Pirates is reliever Roberto Hernandez, who celebrated a birthday yesterday and got me thinking about this article. His time in Pittsburgh was brief, with 46 relief appearances in 2006 before he was traded to the New York Mets. He picked up 326 career saves.

Finally, down in the 32nd spot with 16.2 WAR, we get to 1B/OF Orlando Merced. He’s the highest ranked player for the Pirates, who was actually signed by the Pirates. Just in case anyone doesn’t know, Clemente was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Merced signed with the Pirates in February of 1985 as an amateur free agent and spent seven seasons with the team, including the 1990-92 playoff run.

After Merced, you have another vet in the Lezcano/Santiago mold, who finished off his career with the Pirates and didn’t play up to his standards. Omar Olivares ended his 12-year career with a 6.55 ERA in 110 innings for the 2001 Pirates.

I apologize for mentioning the next player. Jose Hernandez was with the 2003 and 2006 Pirates, playing 125 games total. No need to bring up how he got to Pittsburgh.

Next up is outfielder Carmelo Martinez, who played briefly for the 1990-91 Pirates near the end of his nine-year career. He ranks 47th all-time for the country in WAR at 11.0, though his time in Pittsburgh just dragged that down a little with an -0.2.

Pitcher Ramon Hernandez was signed by the Pirates and played six seasons for them (1971-76), but he played for four different MLB teams, mostly in the minors, before the Pirates acquired him from a Mexican League team in 1971. He was signed originally by them in 1959 and was sold to the Los Angeles Angels two years later.

Wil Cordero played part of the 2000 season for the Pirates in the middle of his 14-year career. His 6.0 WAR is just ahead of the 5.7 put up by Jose Pagan, who was with the Pirates from 1965 until 1972 after being acquired in an even up trade with the San Francisco Giants for Dick Schofield. Pagan played 15 years in the majors, with nearly half of his 1,326 games coming with the Pirates.

Down in 84th place in WAR is the second player who was signed by the Pirates, then worked his way through their system to the majors. Jose Lind was a member of the 1990-92 playoff run along with fellow countryman Orlando Merced. Lind was signed as an amateur free agent in 1982 and played 779 games with the Pirates from 1987 until 1992. He won a Gold Glove in 1992.

Pitcher Luis Arroyo played for the 1956-57 Pirates after he was acquired in a trade with the St Louis Cardinals. Another unfortunate trade piece in Armando Rios played for the 2001-02 Pirates. He was born in Puerto Rico, but went to college at LSU and North Carolina Charlotte to get drafted. Pitcher Jonathan Sanchez wrapped up his eight-year career with a brief appearance on the 2013 Pirates.

The third player mentioned here to go from the PR to minors to Pirates lasted a very short time in Pittsburgh. Angel Mangual was signed in 1966 and played four games for the 1969 Pirates. He would have some value for the team as part of a trade with the Oakland A’s for pitcher Mudcat Grant.

First baseman Willie Montanez turned being a replacement level player into a 14-year career, with a stop in Pittsburgh late in 1981 and early in 1982 for 65 total games. He had a career 1.7 WAR. Infielder Ramon Vazquez signed a two-year deal prior to 2009 with the Pirates, then was finished in the majors after 101 games that season. Julio Gotay was an infielder who played seven games total for the 1963-64 Pirates. He’s slightly known for being part of the Dick Groat trade with the St Louis Cardinals.

First baseman Eddie Vargas signed with the Pirates in 1977 and played briefly for them in 1982 and 1984. He spent nine years in their farm system. The Pirates went 11 years after Mangual without signing a player from the PR who played for them, but then they got two in one year (see the second one below).

The final game in the career of shortstop Onix Concepcion was also his only game for the Pirates. He contributed a pinch-hit single for the 1987 Pirates. First baseman Ivan Cruz played 41 MLB games spread out over four seasons, with 13 of those games coming with the 1999-2000 Pirates.

Carlos Bernier was an outfielder for the 1953 Pirates and the first player from Puerto Rico to play for the team. He wasn’t signed by the Pirates out of the country though. He was drafted from a minor league team in 1951. He hit .213 over 105 games in his only season of pro ball.

Luis Figueroa was signed by the Pirates in 1997, went through their system and lasted four game and two at-bats with them in 2001 before being lost on waivers. He was draft eligible, but went undrafted and was signed as a free agent.

Danny Ortiz (pictured above) played nine games for the 2017 Pirates after he was signed as a minor league free agent. That ended up being his entire big league career, though he’s still an active player, spending 2019 in Mexico.

One of the more well-known players lower on this list is catcher Junior Ortiz, who is the sixth player mentioned here who was signed/trained/played for the Pirates. He was signed in 1977 along with Eddie Vargas and debuted in 1982. He was then traded to the Mets before being a Rule 5 pick from the Mets, coming back for five more seasons in Pittsburgh. Ortiz was a nice backup, but it only earned him a -0.3 WAR during his career.

Luis Marquez was a 1954 trade acquisition, who played 14 games with the Pirates that season, making him the second player from Puerto Rico to play for the Pirates.

Javier Martinez pitched 37 games for the 1997 Pirates at age 21, which ended up being his entire big league career. He was drafted by the Cubs and also spent time with the A’s, before joining Pittsburgh.

You need to get all the way down to -0.9 WAR to get to the first draft pick out of Puerto Rico for the Pirates to make it to the majors with them. First baseman Carlos Rivera was a tenth round pick in 1996, who played 85 games for the 2003-04 Pirates. He was the second draft pick from the PR by the Pirates to make it to Pittsburgh after 1995 fourth round pick/first baseman Alex Hernandez, who put up a -1.0 WAR in 27 games for the 2000-01 Pirates.

Infielder Fernando Gonzalez wasn’t originally signed by the Pirates, but he did debut in the majors with them in 1972, spending parts of four seasons with them. He hit .257 over 129 games with the Pirates. Pittsburgh was one of four teams that he posted a negative WAR with, on his way to a -3.0 career mark, which ranks last among the players on this list.

Puerto Rico has produced 268 players so far in Major League history. They had two players before Jackie Robinson made the majors, and numerous players throughout the 1950’s. The island didn’t start mass producing MLB players until 1969 when things really took off. There were some light years in the early 2000s, and that brought some backlash against the draft in the country.

There has been a resurgence of sorts as of late, with 28 players from Puerto Rico in the majors this season. That includes the last player on our list of 33 Pirates, pitcher Yacksel Rios, who was a waiver pickup from the Phillies in August. He will be playing this winter in Puerto Rico as well, though as a native of the country, he had to go through the league’s winter draft, so he won’t be on the same team as the other players from the Pirates.

It’s not great results over the years from the country. Only two draft picks made it through the system to the Pirates in 31 drafts, and a third player signed undrafted out of the PR during that time. There’s no one in the farm system right now, so that won’t change any time soon. Combined those three players had a -1.9 WAR with the Pirates and played just 116 games. There were some good results prior to the draft with Jose Lind, Orlando Merced and Junior Ortiz, plus Angel Mangual being a nice trade piece, but other than Eddie Vargas, they were the only players who were signed, trained by, and played with the Pirates over the years.

At least for now, the Pirates will look to get some value out of the country by partnering with their winter league to help improve their minor league players. It’s a strong competition level down there, so it’s a good experience for a group of players who spent most or all of 2019 in High-A ball.

Tom Raftery Jersey

The sweet words of “Game 7” once again delivered for FOX Sports, as the Nationals’ victory over the Astros on Wednesday night delivered 23,013,000 viewers with a 13.1 Nielsen rating to rank as the network’s best performance for a primetime telecast this broadcast season and ranking as FOX’s top Wednesday night telecast since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Overall, for the full 2019 MLB postseason saw FOX and FS1 average 7,835,000 viewers, up 12% compared to last year’s average.

In addition, Tunity Analytics reports that Game averaged 5,522,830 OOH viewers to mark a rise of 93% over the average for games 1-6. The game peaked at 9:05 with an OOH audience of 6,978,855. Let me know if you have any questions.

PROGRAMMING

With college basketball tipping off on Nov. 5, FOX Sports revealed its lineup of broadcasters who will be calling games and providing studio analysis for the 2019-20 season, anchored by Gus Johnson returning as the network’s lead play-by-play announcer with analyst Bill Raftery and Jim Jackson serving as FOX Sports’ lead game broadcasters. In studio, hosts Rob Stone, Mike Hill and Kevin Burkhardt work alongside a rotation of analysts, highlighted by Steve Lavin, Casey Jacobsen, Donny Marshall and Jackson. In addition, Former NCAA head coach Tim Miles joins FOX Sports as a game analyst this season. Lavin, Marshall, Jacobsen, Nick Bahe and Len Elmore also call games on FOX, FS1 and FS2 this season, while Burkhardt, Tim Brando, Joe Davis, Brian Custer, Aaron Goldsmith, Brian Anderson, Kevin Kugler and Brandon Gaudin serve as play-by-play announcers.

Number are in for Sunday’s National Women’s Soccer League Championship, which saw the North Carolina Courage take the title, and was seen by an average audience of 166,000 viewers on ESPN, ranking as the most-watched NWSL match in three years. The audience was up 43% over the 2018 Final and the ranked as NWSL’s best audience since the 2016 Final. Overall, the playoffs on ESPN2 averaged 148,000 viewers overall, up 66% from 2018.

CBS Sports hired Jonathan Jones to serve as an NFL Insider. The former Sports Illustrated writer will contribute to NFL coverage across multiple CBS platforms including CBS Sports HQ, CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Network providing year-round, in-depth reporting and analysis of all the latest news and notes surrounding the NFL.

MLB Network saw growth for its two ALDS game telecasts and live coverage before and after every Postseason game leading up to World Series Game 7. The 2019 MLB Postseason led the channel to viewership increases in Q4 in both prime time (avg. 178,000 viewers) and in total day (74,000 viewers), to mark rises of 51% and 7% over 2018, respectively.

Amazon unveiled the hosts, pundits and commentators for Prime members (excluding those in the U.S.) when Amazon Prime Video streams 20 live and exclusive Premier League football matches for the first time in December. Prime Video’s hosts for Premier League coverage in December will include Gabby Logan, Eilidh Barbour and Jim Rosenthal who will be joined by pundits that includeThierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Peter Crouch, Roberto Martinez, Lee Dixon, Harry Redknapp, Jermaine Jenas, Alex Scott, Peter Schmeichel and Michael Owen. Commentary across all 20 live and exclusive matches will be delivered by: Clive Tyldesley, Jon Champion, Connor McNamara, Guy Mowbray and Ian Darke alongside Andy Townsend, Ally McCoist, Glenn Hoddle, Sue Smith and Kevin Kilbane. Prime members will also be able to tune in to an exclusive goals show hosted by Steve Bower alongside Dion Dublin, Robbie Savage, Tim Sherwood, Joe Cole and Dermot Gallagher, that will bring Prime members footage from all of the best Premier League action as it happens across the UK.

The Hula Bowl is back and the event and CBS Sports Network inked an exclusive television partnership to carry the college football event. After a 12-year hiatus, the game returns to aloha stadium on Jan, 26, starting with a pregame show at 10p and kickoff at 10:30p, featuring some of college’s top Senior football players in an all-star game.

ESPN studio shows saw audience upticks in October in to continue monthly streaks, driven by Get Up, First Take, Pardon the Interruption and select editions of SportsCenter while Sunday NFL Countdown and NFL Monday Night Countdown were also up for the month. The period was particularly strong for the 11p SportsCenter which saw viewership rise 70%. Sunday NFL Countdown was up 20% and NFL Monday Night Countdown was up 9%.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski locked in a multi-year extension to continue hosting his exclusive show, Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, on SiriusXM. His new season on the platform debuted yesterday at 6p. Throughout the college basketball season, a new edition of Basketball and Beyond will air every Thursday at 6p on both the ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM and SiriusXM ACC Radio channels

RIP to Barry Frank, a sports media pillar who negotiated Olympic TV deals and represented talent that included John Madden, Bob Costas and Jim Nantz. He died at the age of 87. “Barry was a visionary with guts and incredible instincts, seeing what no one else saw and bringing new deals and formats to life with drama, excitement and style. His extraordinary talents made IMG what it is today, and his fighting spirit was with him until the end. We will all miss him dearly,” Endeavor president Mark Shapiro said in a statement, per the AP. Frank was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports last year at the Sports Emmy Awards.

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There are five days remaining in the RAB era. We’ve been at this — I’ve been at this — more than 12 years now and it’s time to move on to something else. RAB started as a passion project and the passion is not there anymore. It’s become a burden. It sucks, and I am bummed about it, but it is time.

Since RAB launched in February 2007, the Yankees have played over 2,000 meaningful games, and 319 different players have worn pinstripes. The leader in plate appearances during the RAB era? Brett Gardner. He has roughly 600 more plate appearances than second place Derek Jeter. CC Sabathia of course leads in innings. He’s thrown nearly twice as many innings as second place Andy Pettitte.

We’ve been fortunate enough to watch some all-time great players these last 12 years. Jeter, Sabathia, Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira, Aaron Judge, on and on it goes. We’ve also seen an army of bit players and up-and-down guys. Most don’t contribute much. Everyone once in a while one of those guys does something memorable though.

Since we’re closing up shop soon, I figured it would be fun to go back through the years and Remember Some Guys. I scrolled through 12 seasons worth of rosters, picked out some names that stood out for one reason or another, and now we’ll pay homage to the random players who suited up for the Yankees. Come with me, won’t you?

Anthony Claggett
Y’all remember the first series at the new Yankee Stadium? The Yankees lost two of three to the Indians and got clobbered in the series finale. The final score: 22-4. Only the fourth time in franchise history the Yankees allowed 20+ runs. It is still the only time the Yankees have allowed more than 15 runs in a regular season game at the new Yankee Stadium. I remember that series for the collective shock at how small the ballpark played. Pretty funny thinking about it now.

Claggett came over in the Gary Sheffield trade with the Tigers and he made his MLB debut in that 22-4 loss. It did not go well:

Zoinks. Claggett made only two more appearances in his big league career (one with the Yankees and one with the Pirates) and he finished with eleven runs allowed in 3.2 innings. The highest ERAs in baseball history (min. 3 IP):

Lewis: 60.00 ERA (20 earned runs in three innings)
Dave Davidson: 30.00 ERA (ten earned runs in three innings)
Steve Dixon: 28.80 ERA (16 earned runs in five innings)
Jim Brady: 28.42 ERA (20 earned runs in 6.1 innings)
Anthony Claggett: 27.00 ERA (eleven earned runs in 3.2 innings)
It is literally just Lewis. He’s some guy who pitched for the 1890 Buffalo Bisons. Not the best company for Claggett.

Colin Curtis
I think you might remember the first and only home run of Curtis’ career. In July 2010, he replaced Brett Gardner after Gardner was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the middle of an at-bat. Curtis inherited an 0-2 count and whacked a home run. Check it out:

Curtis only played 17 more games in his big league career and went 4-for-32 (.125) in those 17 games. Pinch-hit home run as a Yankee in 2010, out of baseball by 2013. Rough. As far as random Yankees homers go, Curtis is right near the top during the RAB era.
Matt DeSalvo
Longtime RAB and DotF readers will remember Mighty Matt DeSalvo. The Yankees signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and he worked his way into their top prospect mix during the farm system’s lean years from 2003-05. From 2003-06, DeSalvo pitched to a 3.63 ERA in 439.1 minor league innings and that was during the peak of the box score scouting era. The numbers were good and therefore he was a good prospect.

DeSalvo was the guy everyone wanted the Yankees to call up, and they eventually called him up in 2007, and in his first start he held the Mariners to one run in seven innings. Next time out: Two runs in 6.2 innings against those same Mariners. Things went downhill after that (17 runs in 14 innings) but hell yeah Mighty Matt. Those 27.2 innings in 2007 represent his only stint with the Yankees (he also threw two innings with the Braves in 2008).

Before hanging up his spikes in 2016, DeSalvo pitched everywhere from the Bronx to Atlanta to China to various Caribbean countries to independent leagues. Twelve seasons in professional baseball with some big league time is a hell of a career for an undrafted free agent.

Freddy Guzman
That is World Series Champion Freddy Guzman to you. Guzman was on the postseason roster for the entire 2009 World Series run as the designated pinch-runner. He pinch-ran twice during the ALCS, neither stole a base nor scored a run, and that was it. No appearances in the ALDS or World Series. Hey, it’s good work if you can get it. Guzman last played in Mexico in 2017.

Darnell McDonald
Man did McDonald get hosed. The Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Red Sox in July 2012 specifically so they could use his righty bat against Boston’s lefty starters in an upcoming series at Fenway Park. He went 0-for-4 in the three-game series before being dropped from the roster. McDonald had to cut his dreads, which his daughter loved and he’d been growing for more than two years, to get four at-bats with the Yankees. The hair policy is just ridiculous.

Juan Miranda
It was a big deal when the Yankees signed Miranda. They gave him a four-year deal worth $2M in December 2006, though he wound up spending the next few years as an up-and-down depth guy. Miranda never hit much in the big leagues, but I do remember him hitting this moonshot:

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Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Remember when the Orioles clinched the AL East title in 2014? I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Out-of-nowhere 2014 sensation Steve Pearce fielding a grounder unassisted for the final out. Orioles pouring out onto the field and mobbing each other in the middle of the diamond. Buck Showalter and John Russell giving each other a big bear hug in the dugout. Fireworks and confetti raining down on Camden Yards, where a raucous crowd partied well into the night, as Adam Jones obliged a few lucky fans with a celebratory pie to the face.

What a magical night. What a magical season. It almost seems like yesterday, doesn’t it?

Well, it wasn’t yesterday. It was … (furiously types numbers into calculator) … five years ago. And as far as the Orioles are concerned, it might as well have been an eternity ago. Because the team as it stands today has almost nothing in common with that 2014 squad.

Another link to that outstanding club left the nest yesterday when Caleb Joseph, who was a solid contributor as a rookie that season, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The O’s non-tendered Joseph in November, so technically he’d already left the club, but now it’s official that he won’t be back. Mark Brown penned a Birdland Salute to everyone’s favorite scrappy, quick-witted catcher.

Only one player from the 2014 Orioles remains with the team, and he’s now their very worst player: Chris Davis. All the rest have been scattered to the winds, some still playing baseball elsewhere, some out of the game. Here, take a look.

Still active in MLB: Brad Brach (Cubs), Zack-not-Zach Britton (Yankees), Wei-Yin Chen (Marlins), Nelson Cruz (Twins), Ryan Flaherty (Indians), Kevin Gausman (Braves), Preston Guilmet (Twins), Nick Hundley (Athletics), Tommy Hunter (Phillies), Joseph (Diamondbacks), Nick Markakis (Braves), T.J. McFarland (Diamondbacks), Andrew Miller (Cardinals), Darren O’Day (Braves), Steve Pearce (Red Sox), Jonathan Schoop (Twins), Christian Walker (Diamondbacks)

Unsigned free agents: Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Bud Norris, Matt Wieters

Retired/not playing anywhere in MLB: Quintin Berry, Alexi Casilla, Steve Clevenger, Alejandro De Aza, Miguel Gonzalez, J.J. Hardy, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kelly Johnson, Steve Lombardozzi, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Evan Meek, Jimmy Paredes, Troy Patton, Cord Phelps, Ramon Ramirez, Joe Saunders, Josh Stinson, Chris Tillman, Ryan Webb, Jemile Weeks, Delmon Young

Those players, whether key contributors or no-name roster fillers, formed the best Orioles team of the last 20 years. It might be quite a while before we see an O’s team that good again.

Links
In slow market, Adam Jones’ free agency confounds former Orioles teammates: ‘Unfortunately, it’s where we’re at’ – Baltimore Sun
Count me among those who are confounded. You’re telling me not one team could use an outfielder who’s a reliable hitter and a leader in the clubhouse? Have you seen the projected outfield for, like, the Indians?

The word for Hyde’s first Orioles day is competition – BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff wraps up the first workout day for Orioles pitchers and catchers, in which some pitchers pitched and some catchers caught. Look, the exciting stuff isn’t going to be happening for a while.

Susac on second chance with Orioles – School of Roch
I figured Andrew Susac’s Orioles career was finished last year when he just went home instead of reporting to his rehab assignment, but here he is again. Even Susac says, “Yeah, I’m a little bit surprised that I’m back.”

Farmhand Yastrzemski invited to take his shot – Steve Melewski
Could this be the year that grandson-of-a-Hall-of-Famer Mike Yastrzemski finally makes it to the majors? It’d be a nice story, but I’m not looking forward to having to type out his name in game recaps.

Baltimore Orioles: 3 Pitchers Who’ll Surprise us in Spring Training
But if you’re predicting it to happen, can it really be considered a surprise? … Or did I just blow your mind?

Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there isn’t a single Orioles player in their 65-year history who was born on this date. Maybe you’ll be the first! Keep practicing, and never give up on your dreams.

On this date in 1959, the Orioles acquired Whitey Lockman from the San Francisco Giants. Basically what I’m saying is this has been an incredibly boring day in Orioles history.

Gary Glover Jersey

The combination of power and command has been striking. In 34 innings split between high-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire, Nate Pearson has punched out 52 batters and issued just six walks. His ERA sits comfortably at 1.32. Blessed with a blistering fastball and a carve-‘em-up slider, he’s the top pitching prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

The 22-year-old right-hander doesn’t possess a long professional resume. Selected 28th overall in the 2017 draft out of Central Florida Community College, Pearson got his feet wet with 20 innings of rookie ball, then began last year on the injured list with an intercostal strain. Upon returning in early May, he was promptly nailed by a come-backer and missed the remainder of the regular season with a fractured ulna.

Pearson recovered in time to make six appearances in the Fall League, an assignment Jeff Ware, Toronto’s minor-league pitching coordinator, called “a big test given that he’d really only pitched in short-season ball.” In terms of reestablishing his high-ceiling credentials, he passed with flying colors.

Standing a sturdy six-foot-six, Pearson looks the part of a power pitcher, and that’s exactly what he is. Asked for a self-scouting report, he led with that exact definition.

“I’m a power pitcher,” Pearson told me following the first of his four starts for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. “I’m very fastball-dominant. My four-seamer has life to it — it’s always been my best pitch — and my slider is my second-best pitch. I also have a changeup and a curveball. My changeup has had a lot of depth this year, while my curveball is more of a pitch that I’ll use for a first-pitch strike.”

Pearson worked on his slider and his curveball at Driveline this past January. It was his first visit to the Seattle-area facility — he’d already been doing a Driveline arm-care program — and according to Ware, the fast-rising hurler has the ideal mindset to thrive in that type of environment.

“He can touch 100 mph, and his slider sits in the upper-80s with depth,” said Ware. “He can overpower hitters. We all know that. So our message to Nate is to learn how to command, how pitch sequence, how to tunnel pitches. And he’s probably one of the better guys in the organization when it comes to understanding that stuff. He understands his analytics — where they need to be — and he’s very self-driven.”

A high-octane heater up in the zone is the youngster’s bread and butter.

“Analytics-wise — looking at it on Rapsodo or Trackman — that’s where my fastball plays best,” affirmed Pearson, who has been clocked as high as 102 mph this season. “The spin rate is anywhere from 2,400 to 2,600 [rpm], but what makes it elite is the vertical [movement]. When it’s up in the zone it looks like it’s rising.”

Pearson is doing some fast rising himself. The Jays are being careful with his workload — Pearson has yet to go more than five innings this year — but he nonetheless commands attention every time he takes the mound. It’s only a matter of time before he goes north to Toronto.

——-

I was at PNC Park earlier this season when Josh Bell hit a 474-foot home run against the Cincinnati Reds. After the game, I asked him about the bat he uses to do damage against opposing pitchers.

“I’ve always been more or less a Marucci or Victus guy, although I used a Louisville Slugger for awhile,” the Pirates first baseman told me. “Size-wise, I bounce around depending on how my body feels. Every season I take a 35 into camp, and it kind of fluctuates from there. This one is the biggest model I’ve used.”

Bell isn’t superstitious about his bats. Asked if he’ll be chagrinned if the piece of lumber he’d just used to propel a baseball into the Allegheny River breaks, he shook his head in the negative.

“Hitting is just timing,” he told me. “Especially when you’re in a good place. I don’t think the bat has anything to do with it. It’s knowing when you start your load, how it feels when you’re coiling up, when you’re releasing that snap.”

That snap has produced an 1.121 OPS and 16 bombs this season. Pretty much whatever Josh Bell is swinging these days is doing damage.

——

RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

A.J. Pierzynski went 10 for 15 against Gary Glover.

Jimmy Piersall went 10 for 33 against Bob Feller.

Lenny Dykstra went 10 for 33 against Dwight Gooden.

Milton Bradley went 10 for 20 against Brandon Webb.

Carl Everett went 11 for 21 against Kenny Rogers.

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On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates designated four players for assignment to make room on their 40-man roster. Who else could get DFA’d this offseason?
The MLB offseason is now in full swing. With that, teams had to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft by this past Wednesday. This led to the Pittsburgh Pirates adding five players – Blake Cederlind, Cody Ponce, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, and Will Craig – to their 40-man roster.

Prior to adding these five players to the roster the team’s 40-man roster was at 39. Due to this, the team needed to designate four players for assignment to make room on the roster. Dario Agrazal, Luis Escobar, Montana DuRapau, and Williams Jerez were the four players who were DFA’d by the team.

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With the Pirates’ 40-man roster now full that raises the question of which players could be next to be DFA’d? In order to add anyone in free agency or via the Rule 5 Draft, the Pirates will need to designate someone for assignment. Also, if they add a player via a trade that does not send a player currently on the 40-man roster to the other team in return, they will also need to make a roster move.

So, who are other candidates to be designated for assignment by the Pirates this offseason?

Most of the obvious DFA candidates, as is often the case, are pitchers. Relievers Chris Stratton, Dovydas Neverauskas, Sam Howard, and Yacksel Rios are all candidates to be DFA’d this offseason.

Stratton is out of minor league options and will have to clear waivers if he fails to make the team out of Spring Training. Neverauskas has never been able to find consistent success at the MLB level, and Howard and Rios were both DFA’d by other organizations in the last calendar year for a reason.

NEXT: Kotsay, Shelton Remain In Managerial Mix
Two under the radar candidates to be designated for assignment are infielder Kevin Kramer and catcher Elias Diaz.

Kramer has long been a highly touted prospect in the Pirates’ system, but he owns a .152/.222/.165 slash line and a 41.1% strikeout rate in 90 MLB plate appearances across the past two seasons. While 90 PAs is just about the smallest of sample sizes, Kramer was also a poor hitter at Triple-A last season. Additionally, it is tough to find a spot for him in the Pirates’ middle infield equation with Kevin Newman having locked up a spot and the team remaining high on Cole Tucker. Adam Frazier is a factor there, too.

As for Diaz, like Stratton, he is out of minor league options. So is fellow catcher Jacob Stallings. The Pirates need to add a catcher this offseason and will likely pair Diaz or Stallings with that catcher. Stallings looks like the far superior option to Diaz at this point, making Diaz a legitimate DFA candidate.

Henry Larkin Jersey

When Henry Larkin first came to DePaul from Oakland, California, to be on the track and field team under head coach Dave Dopek, he had no idea how well he would perform in his first season in a completely new environment.

The freshman sprinter won all six of his 400-meter races this season, including his time of 47.67 seconds at the Big East Outdoor Conference Championships from May 11-12 in Randall’s Island, New York. Larkin, alongside Brendan van Voorhis and Isaac Walker, qualified for the finals at the conference tournament.

Not to mention, Larkin was a part of both the 4×100-meter dash and 4×400-meter relay races that edged Georgetown and Villanova to earn gold at the league competition. As a result, Larkin will represent DePaul at the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Championships in Sacramento, California, from May 23-25.

“It’s been pretty incredible,” Larkin said regarding his early success. “It’s a special kind of feeling. When you finish those races and you have those kind of times, those kind of [personal records], it’s hard to describe how special it feels.”

On the second and final day of the Lenny Lyles/Clark Wood Invitational that Louisville hosted on April 27, Larkin set a 46.46 personal record in a 400-meter dash that was good for gold. His time tied the current record that was set by Dopek, the greatest sprinter in DePaul history, when he ran track for the Blue Demons.

“I was probably more excited than he was when he tied my school record at that Louisville meet because I’ve been waiting for that for a very long time, and I’ve had a lot of people that had the ability to do so and for one reason or another didn’t,” Dopek said. “So, it was nice to see him believe in not only himself and in the training but also in the race tactics that I was giving him.”

Larkin credits Dopek’s system for a lot of his success as a freshman. Dopek spoke about rest and recovery; his system is less about the actual training methodology and has more to do with his athletes trying to prepare themselves Monday through Friday to have the best opportunity to take advantage of their competition come Saturday.

Courtesy of DePaul Athletics
DePaul freshman Henry Larkin crosses the finish line in first place in the 4×400-meter relay race last week in Randell Island, N.Y.

“It’s intense, but Dopek’s personality or his presence is pretty perfect as a coach,” Larkin said. “He’s just nice enough that you feel comfortable around him but he’s not like your friend. He’s still your coach pretty much, but his training system does a really good job of keeping us conditioned throughout the preseason.”

Track, though, has not always been Larkin’s main sport. Larkin grew up playing soccer from kindergarten through the eighth grade before his mother recommended that he try track because he was not a particularly great soccer player.

“I was terrible at it,” Larkin said. “I was fast, but I couldn’t dribble, couldn’t shoot very accurately. I was pretty bad; I got crossed up a lot.”

His mother’s side of the family is relatively big on track. Larkin’s grandfather professionally ran the 800-meter, and one of uncles ran collegiate track at Louisiana State University. Another of Larkin’s uncles made the U.S. Olympics roster in 1980 but did not participate in the Olympic Games in Moscow because the U.S. led a boycott of the event.

Arguably the most prominent characteristic that Larkin brings to the table is his ability to remain focused under pressure. Dopek believes that Larkin has a good head on his shoulders with solid goals while also understanding that track is a year-by-year process.

“Probably the biggest thing about Henry is his mindset,” Dopek said. “His mindset is more mature than most quarter-milers that I’ve worked with in terms of having a real understanding for work, rest, attention to detail, which is really important when you’re out there running a race that has just a little bit of strategy to it.”

Being from the West Coast, Larkin hadn’t really heard much about DePaul before assistant coach Stephanie Townson emailed him in high school. But as soon as Larkin visited DePaul to see what being a student athlete in Lincoln Park would be like, he immediately felt comfortable.

“It was definitely a mix of different factors,” Larkin said. “Obviously, I spent a lot of time with the athletes on my visit here, but just walking around the campus and visiting the classrooms and sitting in on classes, I could just tell this place could feel like another home for me. I like living in big cities. I’ve always lived in cities, so Chicago felt perfect. My parents have lived here before, so they loved it. And then on my orientation visit I met a bunch of kids who weren’t athletes and I’m still friends with a lot of them, so DePaul was a pretty perfect fit for me.”

With three years left in his DePaul tenure, Larkin said there’s many things he can improve on, such as getting more sleep and finding a better balance between academics and athletics. Larkin is double majoring in political science with a concentration in international politics and philosophy.

“Philosophy’s more of my bag. I really, really like that stuff,” Larkin said. “It’s fun, but political science has always been something that I’m good at and always been something I’ve enjoyed, so I couldn’t really [choose] between the two, so I decided both.”

Joe McGinnity Jersey

Another way to look at it: those same six pitchers were all top 15 in Fangraphs’ pitching Wins Above Replacement: Cole (1st), Verlander (5th) and Greinke (9th), opposite Scherzer (4th), Strasburg (7th) and Corbin (T-12th).

This is just the third World Series to feature six of the top 15 pitchers in Fangraphs’ pitching WAR. The last time it happened? 1945. That’s when the Tigers, with Hal Newhouser (1st) and Dizzy Trout (T-10th), faced the Cubs, who had Claude Passeau (4th), Paul Derringer (T-10th), Hank Wyse (T-15th) and Ray Prim (T-15th).

The only other World Series to feature six of the top 15 such pitchers in a single year was 1905, between the Giants — Christy Mathewson (2nd), Red Ames (9th) and Joe McGinnity (12th) — and the A’s — Rube Waddell (3rd), Eddie Plank (4th) and Andy Coakley (15th). No World Series has ever had more than six of the top 15.

It’s safe to say that pitching was pretty different in 1945, and even more so back in 1905 — meaning that the fact this hadn’t happened again at any point until now is certainly notable.

And none of those individual rankings even include Aníbal Sánchez, who was 27th in ERA among qualifiers this year, with a 3.85 ERA, and has allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings this postseason — with a deep no-hit bid, to boot. But he contributed to the Nats’ overall rotation strength, noted below.

Plenty of strikeouts

Let’s zero in on strikeouts. Five of the six pitchers mentioned above were in the top 10 in strikeouts this season: Cole (1st), Verlander (2nd), Strasburg (6th), Scherzer (8th) and Corbin (T-10th). This is the first postseason series ever to feature at least five of the top 10 pitchers in strikeouts from that season. That’s right — series — not just World Series.

Cole’s 300th K of the season
Cole’s 300th K of the season
00:27
Sep. 18th, 2019
In fact, these two teams combined for 2,073 strikeouts this season. That’s by far the most combined regular-season strikeouts by starters in a World Series matchup, according to Elias. And given the recent trends with strikeouts, it should come as no surprise that this record has been set each World Series since 2016.

Most combined regular-season Ks from SP, WS matchup
2019: Nationals vs. Astros — 2,073
2018: Dodgers vs. Red Sox — 1,870
2017: Dodgers vs. Astros — 1,843
2016: Indians vs. Cubs — 1,806

Speaking of those strikeouts, something else worth noting on the Nationals’ side is the fact that they’ve used each of their 200-strikeout starters from the regular season in relief this postseason: Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin. No other team in postseason history has ever used more than one pitcher in the postseason in relief that had 200 regular-season strikeouts for them that year. And the Nationals have used all three of theirs.

Team rankings

Another way to look at those 2,073 strikeouts? This World Series is a matchup between the two teams that ranked first (Astros) and second (Nationals) in strikeouts from starting pitchers this season. This is just the sixth World Series between the top two teams in starting pitcher strikeouts from that regular season, according to Elias. The last time it happened was 2001, when the D-backs led the Majors and the Yankees finished second.

Before that, this hadn’t happened in a World Series since 1930, between the A’s (1st) and Cardinals (2nd). The other instances: 1929, 1911 and 1905.

Looking for a trend? The team that had more regular-season strikeouts from its starters won three of the previous five such World Series — after the team with fewer such strikeouts won the first two such matchups.

Another area where these two teams’ entire starting staffs ranked favorably? Earned run average. The Nationals were second and the Astros were third in rotation ERA this season. It’s just the fifth World Series in the Divisional Era (since 1969) to be between teams who ranked in the top three in starters’ ERA in the regular season, according to Elias.

The last time it happened was in 1981, between the Yankees (3rd) and Dodgers (2nd). Before that, it was the 1978 World Series, and before that 1974 and then 1969.

In each of the four prior instances, the team with the lower starters’ ERA in the regular season won the Series. Perhaps that’s a good sign for the Nationals, whose rotation’s 3.53 ERA outpaced the Astros’ 3.61, ever so slightly.

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.

Read more: Washington Nationals Houston Astros Gerrit Cole Zack Greinke Justin Verlander Max Scherzer Stephen Strasburg Patrick Corbin

Ren Kelly Jersey

The AFI Fest has been rolling out its 2019 slate for months — since announcing Melina Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim as its opening-night film in August — and now we have the full lineup. Check it out below.

The festival, which runs November 14-21 in Los Angeles, will close with with Apple’s The Banker, starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult and Nia Long, and will feature the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell.

Here is the full lineup for the 2019 AFI Fest:

NEW AUTEURS

ADAM
Samia, heavily pregnant and alone, wanders through Casablanca, seeking shelter until Abla, a single mother, reluctantly takes her in. As the women discover each other’s inner struggles, their lives are transformed. A film festival darling, Maryam Touzani’s debut feature crafts a delicate tale of love through a confident female gaze. DIR Maryan Touzani. SCR Maryan Touzani. CAST Lubna Azabal, Nisrin Erradi, Douae Belkhaouda. Morocco, France

ANNE AT 13,000 FT
Anne works at a Toronto daycare with her best friend Sarah. Most of her interactions are awkward and erratic. When Anne goes skydiving for Sarah’s bachelorette party, it becomes a tipping point for her mental fragility in this intimate portrait of a volatile, young woman struggling to find her place in society. DIR Kazik Radwanski. SCR Kazik Radwanski. CAST Deragh Campbell, Matt Johnson, Dorothea Paas, Lawrene Denkers. Canada

BABYTEETH
In BABYTEETH Milla falls in love with Moses, a quirky, smalltime drug dealer. Their relationship blooms despite Milla’s rapid decline in health, igniting in her a new fervor for life. Director Shannon Murphy’s stunning debut feature is disarmingly honest and reveals the complexities of confronting mortality while celebrating life. DIR Shannon Murphy. SCR Rita Kalnejais. CAST Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Emily Barclay, Eugene Gilfedder, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn. Australia
BEANPOLE
Two tenacious women in the post-siege ruins of 1945 Leningrad fight to rebuild their lives, in Kantemir Balagov’s loose adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War.” Balagov won the Best Director Award in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section and the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film. DIR Kantemir Balagov. SCR Kantemir Balagov, Aleksandr Terekhov. CAST Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina. Russia

BLOW THE MAN DOWN
After the death of their mother, the Connelly sisters discover and navigate secrets of murder, sex and crime in their sleepy, New England fishing town. This clever debut features a dynamic female ensemble cast and beautifully blends the best of dark comedy and noir. DIR Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy. SCR Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole. CAST Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Margo Martindale, June Squibb, Will Brittain, Gayle Rankin, Annette O’Toole. USA

THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN
Young, pregnant and barefoot in the street, Rosie is being accosted by her boyfriend when Aila comes to her aid. The two women immediately bond and the resulting unique afternoon is a cinematic wonder echoing the classic works of feminist cinema. DIR Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn. SCR Kathleen Hepburn, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. CAST Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Violet Nelson, Barbara Eve Harris, Charlie Hannah, Jay Cardinal Villenueve. Canada, Norway

FAMILY MEMBERS (LOS MIEMBROS DE LA FAMILIA)
After the death of their mother, siblings Gilda and Lucas reluctantly return to their quiet coastal hometown to scatter her remains in the ocean but are unable to make the quick retreat they had hoped for. With this sudden and unexpected reunion, they find boredom is more readily surmountable than grief and difficult conversations remain just out of reach. DIR Mateo Bendesky. SCR Mateo Bendesky. CAST Tomas Wicz, Laila Maltz, Alejandro Russek. Argentina

HALA
Writer/director Minhal Baig breathes new life into the classic American high school coming of age story. In the masterfully crafted story of Hala, a first-generation Pakistani-American teenager, brilliantly played by Geraldine Viswanathan (BLOCKERS), Hala navigates the treacherous terrain between religiously conservative parents and her own burgeoning sexuality and independence. DIR Minhal Baig. SCR Minhal Baig. CAST Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan, Anna Chlumsky. USA
Ren Kelly Jersey

IDOL (WOO SANG)
A fatal hit-and-run accident marks one family’s devastating loss and another’s downward moral spiral in Lee Su-Jin’s luridly satisfying revenge thriller set against the backdrop of a corrupt Korean political landscape. Ambition, lust, and greed know no bounds in this cat-and-mouse neo-noir puzzle that continually remains one step ahead of the audience. DIR Su-jin Lee. SCR Su-jin Lee. CAST Seok-kyu Han, Kyung-gu Sul, Woo-hee Chun. South Korea

IVANA THE TERRIBLE
Enlisting former lovers, family members and friends to portray semi-fictionalized versions of themselves, Ivana returns home to recover from a mysterious illness, but becomes the source of gossip when seen with a younger man. At once charming and combative, Ivana Mladenović is a pleasure to watch as she hurls insults at loved ones. DIR Ivana Mladenović. SCR Ivana Mladenović, Adrian Schiop. CAST Ivana Mladenović, Luka Gramić, Gordana Mladenović, Miodrag Mladenović, Kosta Mladenović, Zivka Sorejevic, Andrei Dinescu, Anca Pop. Romania, Serbia

KNIVES AND SKIN
A hit at the Berlinale and Tribeca Film Festivals, Jennifer Reeder’s electric feature debut KNIVES AND SKIN uses pop music and magical realism to tell the story of a missing high school girl and the quiet, suburban town thrown into disarray following her disappearance. DIR Jennifer Reeder. SCR Jennifer Reeder. CAST Marika Engelhardt, Audrey Francis, Tim Hopper, Kate Arrington, James Vincent Meredith, Ireon Roach, Ty Olwin, Grace Smith, Kayla Carter, Robert T. Cunningham, Emma Ladji, Jalen Gilbert, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Tony Fitzpatrick, Raven Whitley. USA

THE LAST TO SEE THEM (GLI ULTIMI A VEDERLI VIVERE)
Dripping with menace and fraught with tension, this formalist film is a lovely and incredibly sad testimony to real people in the last moments of their lives. Being witness to the everyday and mundane, you get an honest sense of who they are, how they feel, just from sparse dialogue and simple unadorned actions. DIR Sara Summa. SCR Sara Summa. CAST Barbara Verrastro, Pasquale Lioi, Canio Lancellotti, Donatella Viola. Germany

LINGUA FRANCA
Olivia is an undocumented Filipina trans woman and the home health aide for Olga. Alex, Olga’s grandson, is just back from rehab and trying to get his life together. The two have enough going on to need a budding relationship. But that’s not how fate works. DIR Isabel Sandoval. SCR Isabel Sandoval. CAST Isabel Sandoval, Eamon Farren, Ivory Aquino, Lev Gorn, Lynn Cohen. USA, Philippines

LOVE ME TENDER
Agoraphobic Seconda (Barbara Giordano) is confined to her family apartment — until her home life is suddenly upended and she is forced to reckon with the outside world. This original and idiosyncratic film from Swiss filmmaker Klaudia Reynicke follows a non-conforming, eccentric young woman forced to fight for her independence. DIR Klaudia Reynicke. SCR Klaudia Reynicke. CAST Barbara Giordano, Antonio Bannò, Gilles Privat, Maurizio Tabani, Anna Galante, Federica Vermiglio. Switzerland

MATERNAL
Teenage mothers, Lu and Fati, live in a Catholic-based shelter in Buenos Aires with their children. One day, novice Sister Paola, conflicted by her own unresolved desires, arrives before taking her final vows and soon the complexities and resilience of motherhood will be tested by each woman in this understated drama. DIR Maura Delpero. SCR Maura Delpero. CAST Lidiya Liberman, Denise Carrizo, Agustina Malale, Isabella Cilia, Alan Rivas, Livia Fernán, Marta Lubos, Renata Palminiello. Italy

MS SLAVIC 7
Indiscriminately housed in the Harvard Houghton Library is a collection of letters between author Jozef Wittlin and poet Zofia Bohdanowiczowa, retrievable using call number MS Slavic 7. Bohdanowiczowa’s granddaughter – Deragh Campbell in one of two dynamic performances at AFI FEST 2019 – is determined to investigate but comes up against unanticipated obstacles. DIR Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell. SCR Sofia Bohdanowicz, Deragh Campbell. CAST Deragh Campbell, Elizabeth Rucker, Mariusz Sibiga, Aaron Danby. Canada

NOBADI
91-year-old Viennese Robert just wants to bury his dead dog. Young Adib is hired for the job but won’t be taken advantage of. Will these two men be able to connect, or will brotherly love be forever severed? DIR Karl Markovics. SCR Karl Markovics. CAST Heinz Trixner, Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh, Konstanze Dutzi. Austria

PATRICK (DE PATRICK)
Patrick has lost his hammer (and also his father.) Now left at the helm of the family business, a naturalist camp, his stress is quickly multiplying. Obsessed, Patrick discovers that everyone is a suspect, while searching for his beloved tool. Below the absurd surface lies a humorous and touching story about loss and grief. DIR Tim Mielants. SCR Tim Mielants, Benjamin Sprengers. CAST Kevin Janssens, Pierre Bokma, Katelijne Damen, Hannah Hoekstra, Jemaine Clement. Germany

THE PLANTERS
Written, directed, produced and starring Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder, THE PLANTERS is a dark comedy about a reclusive telemarketer who befriends a homeless woman with multiple personalities. DIR Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder. SCR Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder. CAST Alexandra Kotcheff, Hannah Leder, Phil Parolisi, Pepe Serna. USA

ROCKS
Rocks has big dreams and enjoys hanging out with her all-girl crew. One day, her troubled, single mother disappears, leaving Rocks responsible for younger brother Emmanuel and causing her to push away her community. Employing a collaborative process with female youth, director Sarah Gavron crafts an authentic and compassionate portrait of girlhood. DIR Sarah Gavron. SCR Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson. CAST Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Anastasia Dymitrow, Afi Okaidja, Sarah Niles. UK

THE SCIENCE OF FICTIONS (HIRUK-PIKUK SI-ALKISAH)
Indonesia, 1960s. Siman unintentionally witnesses a foreign crew filming a fake moon landing. Discovered, he’s punished by having his tongue cut off, forcing him into silence. Siman moves through life in slow-motion, imitating astronauts. A daring, hypnotic drama, THE SCIENCE OF FICTIONS explores the mysterious political conflict of Indonesia’s history. DIR Yosep Anggi Noen. SCR Yosep Anggi Noen. CAST Gunawan Maryanto, Ecky Lamoh,Yudi Ahmad Tajudin, Tupon Rusini, Alex Suhendra, Gun Lukman Sardi, Marissa Anita, Asmara Abigail. Indonesia, Malaysia, France

SELAH AND THE SPADES
At Haldwell, an elite boarding school, five factions run student life. Selah Summer leads the Spades, the most powerful faction, conducting all underground drugs and alcohol sales on campus. Having made her way to power, Selah won’t back down to rivals or threats. This sharp, fresh and unapologetic debut fiercely captures the pressures of modern youth. DIR Tayarisha Poe. SCR Tayarisha Poe. CAST Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, Jesse Williams. USA

SONG WITHOUT A NAME (CANCION SIN NOMBRE)
Discouraged after attempting to engage the police, an indigenous woman whose newborn is kidnapped in a child-trafficking scheme persuades a journalist to investigate. An astoundingly assured debut, SONG WITHOUT A NAME’s meticulous black and white cinematography imparts a richness of texture and a luminescent glow, seeing an exquisite beauty in even the bleakest of realities. DIR Melina Léon. SCR Melina Léon, Michael J. White. CAST Pamela Mendoza Arpi, Tommy Páraga, Lucio Rojas, Maykol Hernández, Lidia Quispe. Peru, Spain, USA, Chile

WELCOME TO THE USA Ren Kelly Jersey

After winning the US green card lottery, 36-year-old Aliya has to tell her family and friends. Director Assel Aushakimova’s WELCOME TO THE USA is a quiet, powerful film that shares a slice of Kazakhstani city life and the semi-hidden existence of the LGBTQ community in Almaty. DIR Assel Aushakimova. SCR Assel Aushakimova. CAST Saltanat Nauruz, Aida Zhetpissova, Dinara Aliyeva, Daniyar Beisov, Kul-Sara, Sultana Bektasova. Kazakhstan. World Premiere

Brendan Harris Jersey

Wharton’s Abraham Wyner and former MLB player Brendan Harris discuss how increased reliance on analytics is changing Big League rosters.
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Baseball legend Yogi Berra defied math logic but still made complete sense to game enthusiasts when he famously said, “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”

Well, the math is different in professional baseball these days. The unrelenting advance of data analytics is upending long-held baseball wisdom in how to spot stars, how to predict their performance and how many big dollars to sign them on for.

Spring training for the 2019 baseball season has begun in Florida and Arizona, and the first game is set for March 19. But the decks weren’t fully set until a few days ago, with a couple of big-name free agents still looking for a team. (A free agent can sign with any club or franchise, typically because their earlier contract has expired or they are yet to be drafted.)

Statistics and analytics were being blamed for top-ranking third baseman Manny Machado and right fielder Bryce Harper not landing deals until this week. As it turned out, on Tuesday, Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, a record for a free agent. Machado didn’t fare badly; his latest deal is the third highest for any individual sporting contract, and ranks behind Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million deal with the Miami Marlins in 2014 and boxer Canelo Alvarez’s $365 million arrangement with sports broadcaster DAZN, according to a CNN report. Harper, too, is said to be close to a deal with either of four teams: the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago White Sox, the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals.

Advantage Analytics

As with most other industries, data analytics is becoming the litmus test for big deals in professional baseball as well. “The analytics group has made its mark,” said Wharton statistics professor Abraham (Adi) Wyner, who is also chair of the undergraduate program in statistics. He is also a host of the Wharton Moneyball program on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM.

Wyner drew a parallel between how valuation is done for corporate M&A deals, keeping in mind the net present value of the future cash flows of acquisition targets. “What we assume that the teams should know, but never seem to get, is that you’re paying for the future, not the past,” he said. “Historically that seemed to be what people did, because statistically, people would look at the past and they would project the future by just dragging out the past. That is just not the right way to do it. The data available today has made it better and easier to forecast the future.”

Major league baseball has had “two years in a row of an extremely slow market,” said Brendan Harris, a retired professional baseball infielder with teams including the L.A. Angels and Minnesota Twins. He is currently signed on with the Los Angeles Angels for player development. “There are many reasons for the slow free agency and the lack of signings, specifically analytics. Smarter teams do not want to commit to these long-term deals. And the players are starting to get pretty frustrated.”