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HumpLinks: Eppler raising a farm crop

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Billy Eppler beats the MLB to the holiday shopping list of ex-Atlanta international prospects

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New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Showin’ off some bitchin’ pitchin’ dudes
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As soon as the 23 teams were notified that they were NOT finalists in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, those with international bonus pool money turned their attention to the ash heap of the Atlanta Braves, still smoldering from the punishing torches of MLB. Chief among those were the Yankees.

But yesterday Billy Eppler showed off his ninja skills and snagged the highest-rated of all the international prospects spun loose from the Atlanta farm system, Kevin Maitan, without hurting his chances for Ohtani at all. Then, later, he also snatched up SS prospect Livan Soto. The summary of all this would then be that Eppler traded Justin Kelly for Jim Johnson, Kevin Maitan, Livan Soto (so far) plus real relevance in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. When we look back on this ten years from now that could be the most lopsided deal in franchise history.

I have spent years lamenting the vacuum of an international pipeline within the LAA farm system. We will never get back that one-time spike of Cuban star players made available to MLB, but this is simply a fantastic turnaround, still growing, in forward-looking talent resources. Being real, neither of these kids are solving the 2B/3B problems in Anaheim for 2018, but they create a pipeline and free up other kids for trade consideration. Kudos to Eppler for making the international talent once again a priority in the franchise and then for executing on it so boldly.

(HalosHeaven traffic aside: yesterday our Top 10 articles drove about 25,000 page views, according to what is exposed to me. That’s an outrageous day! Keep it up, people! And, hey, all you lurkers, create an account and say hello. The water is fine, I assure you.)

Enjoy some Anaheim-Rising-Offseason-Links:


A Little Bit of Angels News

The Big News yesterday was Billy Eppler swooping in and plucking out former Atlanta international prospect Kevin Maitan. Eppler is able to play a few special exceptions games and spend his international pool money from the 2018-2019 signing period, leaving his current pool money intact in his ongoing pursuit of Shohei Ohtani...........Maitan is a SS prospect now, but we already got a young one of those. Brent Maguire suggests that his best path to Anaheim is to be converted to 1B. If correct, that puts pressure on Matt Thaiss.........Thaiss could either become trade material, or stick around and fight for his future with LAA. It is not a foregone conclusion that Maitan is a future star as his 2017 season was something of a bust. But, still, only 17 and all that...........

By the way, when Maitan originally with the Braves, he received $4.25MM in signing bonus money. This time he gets another $2.2MM. That makes his take a total of $6.45MM. That is 4,579,500,000 in Venezuelan Bolivars at this moment’s Dicom exchange rate. Yeah, nearly 4.6 billion...........

And then, late in the afternoon, Eppler struck again and collected Livan Soto, also out of the Atlanta debris field. Not nearly as major of a pickup as Maitlan, but with a farm system this low on the MLB totem pole, a Soto is a strong uplift (search for “livan soto” and scroll down).............

And even later in the day, word leaked out that Eppler was still sniffing around Carlos Santana..........

Something to keep an eye on. Disney is back at the table looking to buy up 21st Century Fox. In that deal would come the Regional Fox Sports Networks. That includes the network that televises LAA games. That would be Victor and Gubi and all. It’s possible that, post-purchase, Disney might wish to change things up..........

The Bobblehead Hall of Fame will be issuing a limited release Albert Pujols 600th Home Run Bobblehead in time for the holidays, if you are into that sort of thing..........


Everywhere In Baseball

Exiled John Copollela apologizes for screwing up the Atlanta farm system by cheating his way through the international market. Sure, I am being cynical, but I cannot help but think that Copollela is working tightly with his legal team to restore some semblance of empathy among the public, since it has been announced that he could be planning to sue MLB for wrongful termination.........

Winning makes everything even better. That’s why Jose Altuve is an SI Sportsperson of the Year. The last time a baseball player was named SI SOTY who was NOT a World Series winner, was way back in 1998 when SI was busy celebrating PEDs champs, instead and gave co-awards to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa..........

Adam Jones has been fined almost $50K for delays in the batter’s box, and he doesn’t care because he is working hard to be an entertainer?..........

You probably don’t follow this stuff beyond what I happen to link to around here, and I link to it only because I am scouring all the back alleys of baseball news to round stuff for you all. But there is a general sideways look of suspicion pointed at SBNation among the sports blogging world. My opinion is that this is because they come from the roots of much different trees than we do. When something happens that is newsworthy, I link, and 99% of the time those things are not supportive to our shared community. So when something like this happens, I get to chuckle. CBS got burned for plagiarizing multiple SBN articles in their entirety. Their excuse for getting caught was that it was just a software bug. They fixed the bug so please go away. My takeaway is that CBS Sports has a software crawler that fetches content into their web presence, and that crawler is programmed to harvest SBN articles. Hmmm..........

Nice find by Bill Baer over at NBC Sports. As MLB Front Offices have become information driven, teams are valuing and projecting players so similarly that there is becoming less traffic in those kinds of trades where teams look for an overlap in need. Left to its own, the end game is where all the teams think and calculate exactly alike, and nobody can find a valuable reason to move players around at all. And that, my friends, is the very place where the next opportunities will be found. Not only have the dinosaurs lost their grip on the game, but soon the current level of analysts will be the dinosaurs, and wall street quality people and massively parallel computing will take over......................


Hot Stove

For the record, Maitan was not the first guy picked up off the Atlanta ash pile. The first report we have of Eppler signing Maitan comes to us from Buster Olney at 9:40AM PDT. The Royals signed Yefri Del Rosario a couple of hours earlier which we got via Jesse Sanchez at 7:38 AM PDT..........Del Rosario signed with the Royals mainly to follow in the footsteps of Yordano Ventura..........

The Cardinals signed RHP Mike Mikolas, fresh off from Japan. 2 years, $15.5MM..........

There is an old saying “It is better to remain silent and be though a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Your guess is as good as any as to whom this should be attributed, but Derek Jeter is proving the saying to be modern gold. We non-MFY fans, and especially we west coast non-MFY fans, have always been suspicious but we never had proof. Thankfully, Jeter got ambitious. And now he is giving us all the proof we ever wanted..........

Stanton Focus: keeping score, the full offer from the Giants to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton is fiercely huge. Four players PLUS $250MM of Stanton’s contract. I think, at that price, we should be out on Stanton. just sayin’.......

Ohtani Focus: funniest Mariners take of the day..........Oh, and in this scoreboard up on LL, I think the “Geographic Preference” tallies are absurd. San Diego should be the “5”. Best weather in America. Anaheim and LA should be a “4”, almost as perfect as SD. The Giants and Cubs get a “2” because hey tend to be cold bitches. And Seattle and Arlington get the “1”’s. Their weather sucks and they are infamous for it. Period. Also, the Angels and Dodgers are both in the same regional market, so the Angels get the same “5” for Cultural Assimilation. Finally, the author is using a longer-term health metric and ignoring the fact that there is a new regime in place in Seattle and a serious roster turnover. They don’t get credit for staffs and players no longer employed. 2017 is their new benchmark. The Seattle health score needs to be 0. With those obvious corrections in place, the Angels and Giants are tied for the lead at 29. The rest are the Dodgers (28), the Padres (27), Mariners (25), Cubs (22) and Rangers (19)..........


The Duffle Bag

Even after snagging Maitan, and already having Jordon Adell and Jahmai Jones, the LAA farm system is still in the lowest levels throughout MLB. But remember, all that stuff are just projections, not guarantees. Good things still happen.........This is fun. That Japanese pitcher being posted I mentioned earlier this week, Kazuhisa Makita, throws a “Bugs Bunny” pitch............Job opportunities: 4 open positions at Collegiate Scouting Network. One of them is a staff writer position. A lot of you people qualify for that! The other one is for a Baseball Operations intern to work on analytics with the Cleveland Indians........Robinson Cano, camel jockey...........Here we go, goalposts back on the field in Anaheim..........