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MLB Scouts Talk Anonymously About AL East Teams for 2017


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The World Baseball Classic is over and spring training is entering the home stretch, which means the 2017 MLB season is just around the corner. Final cuts will soon be made as teams determine their 25-man rosters before breaking camp in Florida and Arizona.

Once again, Athlon Sports’ 2017 Baseball Preview magazine has all 32 teams covered, including some candid analysis from scouts on the teams and specific players. These scouting reports are just part of the content that can be found in this year’s magazine, which is available on newsstands everywhere and online.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

“As long as you don’t make a big mistake over the heart of the plate, you’re all right against the Orioles. Problem is, with as many serious power threats at they have — guys like Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo back-to-back-to-back-to-back — it makes them a brutal lineup to get through. They’ve got a lot of swing-and-miss guys, so you can pitch to them, but if you don’t make your pitches, you’ll be whip-lashing your head a lot. The big issue for them is whether they can ever find an ace. They don’t have many upper-level guys ready to contribute, so it comes down to the usual: Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. That bullpen is a nice luxury to have with Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day at the back end, and until an ace emerges in the rotation, that combination of power, bullpen and defense is going to have to carry them again.”

Boston Red Sox

“Losing David Ortiz is significant, and they have to sort out the catcher situation and hope that Pablo Sandoval can be his Giants self over at third base. But that’s about all they have to worry about. Getting Chris Sale without giving up Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. or Xander Bogaerts … sure, they gave up top prospects, but this is Dave Dombrowski’s history. When he has a chance, he goes for it, and you have to respect that. Sale assumes the mantel of the No. 1 starter, allowing David Price to be more of a 2, where I think he’ll be better off. And if you put Rick Porcello in between those two lefties … wow, is that good. Dustin Pedroia sets a great example, and Hanley Ramirez bought into being a professional last year. I like the young catcher, Christian Vazquez, too. He’s been hurt, but he deserves a real chance to be the guy.”

New York Yankees

“Gary Sanchez is the real deal, but the other young guys all have a ways to go. Aaron Judge has a lot of holes in his swing, and he’s got to do a better job recognizing the off-speed pitch. Tyler Austin’s a big guy, but he’s got to learn to make adjustments, too. I’d give Greg Bird a better chance of making it than those two. He’s got great bat control. He gets himself in good counts. And he’s short to the ball. They’ve also got to figure out who Luis Severino is: If they think he can be a 2 or a 3 in the rotation, leave him there. But if he’s more of a back-end guy, then put him in that bullpen with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, and you’ll shorten games even more. They need to do that, too, because the rotation’s full of questions. At least by now they know who Michael Pineda is: consistently inconsistent.”

Tampa Bay Rays

“They’ve got a lot of good arms — and they’re smart to hold on to them, because that rotation is their best hope of contending. Chris Archer’s still a top-of-the-rotation guy for me, and his contract is so good that it makes him a super-valuable asset. Their bullpen is very weak after Alex Colome, but I’d keep an eye on Ryne Stanek, who can touch triple-digits but without much deception. I think he could be an important back-end piece of that bullpen. The lineup can mash, and the infield especially is pretty talented, with Evan Longoria, Matt Duffy and Brad Miller. Wilson Ramos will DH some as he comes back from the knee injury, but few catchers have the all-around impact he has. Kevin Kiermaier can really impact the game from center field in a way few others can. This is a deep-sleeper kind of team.”

Toronto Blue Jays

“The Cleveland guys in their front office are big on finding new ways to maximize performance — diet, exercise, sleep, things like that. They’re very progressive. How that translates to the field, we don’t know. They do tend to like platoons, so we’ll see that in the outfield corners. And the Kendrys Morales signing was very sensible. They’re very right-handed, and as a switch-hitter with power, he’ll help balance that. They got Steve Pearce, too, and he’s a versatile guy who can hit, but he’s had arm issues, so that concerns me. They’ve got a lot of solid two-way guys like Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Pillar and Russell Martin, who does such a great job with that staff. If he can work his magic with Francisco Liriano and get him to throw strikes the way he did in Pittsburgh, that rotation is really strong 1 through 5.”