I was in the supermarket just the other evening when I spied something a bit unusual in the frozen foods section. It was a new premium ice cream, brand name Magnum. Now, I stopped when I spotted this ice cream, largely because of the name and the packaging. See, Magnum brand ice cream is sold in a very dark brown, almost black carton, with gold writing. What's odd, at least to me, is both the name and colour scheme of Magnum brand ice cream are essentially the same as Magnum brand condoms. (They're the large-sized condom line of Trojan.)
Well, this seemed like a terrible idea to me. When I'm shopping for ice cream, I really don't want to suddenly be reminded of oversized male genitalia. Just not my thing, you know? So how, I asked myself, did no one at this company say at any point in the process of bringing this product to market, "Hey, you know, maybe we shouldn't give our product the same name and look as plus-sized condoms," thus avoiding having people staring at their product in the frozen case, trying to decide if what they're seeing is a joke or not.
Just now, in the process of writing this intro, I became curious and checked out the company's website. Nice site, two front page panels, both containing the word Pleasure. "For Pleasure Seekers," proclaims one. The other advertises the "Magnum Pleasure Hunt," some sort of ice cream- or dick-themed scavenger hunt, I would imagine. The tagline for the Magnum Pleasure Hunt is, and I quote: "You're in control as you run and jump across the internet in search of pleasures. Let the hunt begin!" I don't even know where to begin explaining how many things are wrong with that sentence.
I'm still not sure if this is a joke or not. If it is, well done Magnum brand ice cream. You have elevated double entendre to an art form. If it isn't , then this has got to go down (tee-hee, go down), as an incredible failure of a company's entire marketing department to do even the most perfunctory of research.
Scouting reports after the jump.Today we're looking at a trio of middle infielders. Last year's first round pick, Kolten Wong, plus the continued steady, if unspectacular, play of Ryan Jackson have combined to give the Cards more of a middle infield presence on their prospect lists than they have had in quite some time. However, it's still one of the thinner areas in the farm system, and give then extra picks the Cardinals have this June I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them spend at least one of their high picks on a premium position talent.
Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State University
6'1", 185 lbs
So, what's so great about this guy?
Well, I'll tell you what's so great about Deven Marrero, and I'll do it in just one sentence. His walkup music is "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Or, at least, it appears to be so going by the video I'll have below this. That's enough for me right there to draft the guy. No idea if he can play or not, but the taste in music is plenty good for my club.
Actually, there's plenty of on-field stuff to recommend Marrero as well. He is almost universally considered to be the best defensive shortstop in this year's draft class, having won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the Pac-10 last season. He has plus range, good hands, and a rifle of an arm that enables him to make throws from anywhere he can reach. I've seen a fair number of Arizona State games (thanks ESPN U!), and he never fails to impress at least once per contest. The glove is major league-ready right now, and he has the talent to be one of the best defenders in all of baseball at his position.
The offense is less impressive, but still quite good for a shortstop. He's shown the ability to make hard contact consistently, largely thanks to extraordinary hand-eye coordination. His power is just average, but more than good enough for a premium defensive position.
Marrero is an athletic specimen, with a solid, muscular frame that's already filled out as much as it's likely to. He has good speed, particularly going first to third, but his stolen base totals are nothing special. I haven't honestly seen him run the bases enough to formulate a firm opinion, but I can only assume his instincts on the basepaths lag behind his physical speed.
Marrero is never going to be a special hitter, but he had enough success playing in the Cape Cod League last summer to suggest he shouldn't be completely helpless with wood. All the same, I'm not overly fond of his swing. There's something about the way he starts his swing I think could be better. His first move with the bat is to lift it, whereas I would prefer to see his first move going back into the load. It's a fairly small thing, though, and the sort of issue that could easily be remedied if it is, in fact, a problem going forward. He does have an intelligent, mature approach at the plate which should serve him well in pro ball.
The Cardinals do have Ryan Jackson in the minors playing shortstop, and there's a solid chance he'll make it to the big leagues one day. Still, Marrero is the sort of talent you don't pass on because you think you have Ryan Jackson coming in a couple of years. The only real issue with Marrero is his draft position. Depending on what he does this spring, he could very well be long gone by the time the Cardinals go on the clock. He's ranked in the top five of most lists of the top college prospects, and deservedly so. Players capable of handling shortstop defensively are one of the most difficult commodities to secure in all of baseball, and Marrero is definitely capable.
If Marrero is still on the board somehow when the Cardinals' turn to pick comes up, I think he would almost be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, that's not the most likely scenario in the world. Still, a draftnik can dream, can't he?
Nolan Fontana, SS, University of Florida
5'11", 190 lbs
So, what's so great about this guy?
Fontana is a lot like Deven Marrero Lite. He has a similar build, though a bit shorter, with similar defensive skills, a major college program pedigree, and an offensive profile that just doesn't quite measure up.
If you prefer not to compare him to another draftee, you can think of him as a souped-up version of Daniel Descalso. Lefty hitter, not a ton of power, outstanding contact skills, that sort of thing. Fontana does have better plate discipline than Dirty Dan, at least at this point in his career, but that could always change as he faces more advanced pitching.
The good thing about Fontana is this: he's not changing positions. He's firmly entrenched all the way to the left on the defensive spectrum, and he's staying there. His range might be a touch better even than Marrero's, and his hands are outstanding. He has a strong arm, though I think Marrero might have a slight edge there, and doesn't make the silly mental mistakes you see all too often in amateur players. If you draft Nolan Fontana, there's really no question you're drafting a shortstop.
Now that's not to say, of course, you're drafting a starting shortstop with Fontana. Or even a major league shortstop, for that matter. I have some real questions about his ability to hit enough in the pros, and I'm not the only one who feels that way. Fontana plays in a relatively neutral park, slightly inclined toward hitters, so there isn't any kind of Kolten Wong-esque park factor math which could make his numbers look appreciably different.
Here's the bottom line with Fontana: he'll play the toughest position on the field, and he'll play it very, very well. The only problem is whether or not his bat will ever be good enough to push him up to a level he can let his glove contribute. The Cards' first pick is too high for Fontana, but with their plethora of early picks I could see him as a very nice consolation prize for not landing the number one college shortstop in Marrero. His ceiling is a huge question mark, though.
Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy
6'3", 190 lbs
So, what's so great about this guy?
Carlos Correa is this year's Manny Machado, the big, athletic freak in the middle infield who invites Alex Rodriguez comparisons with his tools. Of the three players here, Correa has the highest ceiling, with the potential to be a true superstar.
It starts with power potential at the plate for Correa. He's a long, lean specimen with long levers and plenty of functional strength already. His power is mostly of the batting practice variety for now, but there's plenty of reason to believe it will translate down the road with better coaching and time to develop. His swing is a little long and a little stiff to my eye, but there's plenty of time to work on that. He can hit the ball a long, long way when he makes contact, and that's enough to dream on for now.
On the defensive side, Correa brings absolutely unreal arm strength to the party right out of the gate. He's been clocked as high as 97 mph in infield drills, and he can make throws the likes of which you don't often see this side of Troy Tulowitzki. His range is a plus as well, but the reviews on his hands are somewhat mixed. He's a much less consistent fielder than either Marrero or Fontana, which is largely to be expected given the age discrepancy.
The biggest question mark attached to Correa is going to be his size. At 6'3" or 6'4", depending on who you believe, he's much bigger than 95% of the shortstops in professional baseball, and the few of similar height (including someone like, say, Brendan Ryan, at 6'3"), are generally cut from much thinner, wirier cloth. Depending on how he grows and fills out, it's entirely possible Correa will simply outgrow the position. He likely has the bat to slide over to third base -- or, at least, he has the potential in his bat to do so -- but the dropoff in value between a shortstop and third baseman is not to be taken lightly.
Correa is very much a swinging for the fences type of pick, and is rated highly enough there's no telling if he'll still be around when the Cards' pick comes up. Still, high school players are much harder to project than their collegiate brethren, and prone to falling come draft day. The ceiling with Correa is absolutely monstrous, and some team is going to be sorely tempted to buy a lottery ticket with the chance at that ceiling.
'Nother batch in the books, everybody. And only ten days left 'til pitchers and catchers report. It's so close I can almost taste it.
The Baron's Playlist for the 8th of February, 2012 (click for 8tracks or below for embedded player)
"Comeback Kid" - Sleigh Bells
"Infinity Guitars" - Sleigh Bells
"Romeo and the Lonely Girl" - Thin Lizzy (never before has a song with such a stupid chorus still managed to be so awesome)
"Running Back" - Thin Lizzy
"Half as Much" - Patsy Cline
"Why Can't He Be You" - Patsy Cline
"Wailing (Making Out)" - Howler (thanks to Rob Levy for his help in identifying this song for me)
"America" - Howler