Offseason Notes, With at Least One Reference to 1992

Like many prospect mavens, Eddie Vedder is keen on Oakland prospect Michael Choice.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.

1. Assorted Headlines
2. Prospecting: John Sickels’ Top-20 List for Oakland
3. Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: L.A. Dodgers Television (Away Games)

Assorted Headlines
Bowker Released, Will Likely Play in Japan
The Phillies have released outfielder John Bowker to allow him to pursue an opportunity with a professional team in Japan, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Even as I type these words, I realize the reason I regard this news as noteworthy has everything to do with a .342/.451/.596 (.362 BABIP) line Bowker posted as a 25-year-old at Triple-A Fresno in 2009. In fact, he’s been worse than replacement level in over 600 major-league PAs.

Seattle Signs Heilman to Minor League Deal
The Seattle Mariners have signed right-handed reliever Aaron Heilman to a minor-league contract with an invite to the Mariners’ major-league spring training camp, the Associated Press reports. Heilman has a career strikeout rate of 20.1%, which is actually his exact strikeout rate from 2011. He was released by three difference teams in 2011: Arizona, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

Registration Now Open for Youth Birding Contests
Per the Athens Banner-Herald.

Prospecting: John Sickels on Oakland
John Sickels has published his preliminary top-20 list for the Oakland A’s.

Here are some notes on same:

• Three of the top four prospects on Sickels’ list — and four of the top six, and five of the top eight, and six of the top 10 — were acquired by Oakland in trades this offseason. Those players (with ranking and former team in parentheses): Jarrod Parker (1 / Arizona), A.J. Cole (3 / Washington), Brad Peacock (4 / Washington), Derek Norris (6 / Washington), Tom Milone (8 / Washington), Collin Cowgill (10 / Arizona).

• In a somewhat related note, many of the players who ranked highly, per Sickels, in 2011 have fallen considerably. Here are those players (with 2011, and then 2012, ranking): Grant Green (1 / 7), Chris Carter (2 / 9), Steve Parker (6 / 17), Max Stassi (7 / NR), Michael Taylor (9 / 12).

• Sickels ranks outfielder Michael Choice, 22, second overall in the org. Choice was excellent in this year’s Arizona Fall League, finishing fourth on the SCOUT batting leaderboard while finishing second (to Texas’s Mike Olt) in expected home-run rate.

• Here’s a player who’s not mentioned (or, at not as a top prospect, at least): Michael Ynoa, the tall and young left-hander right-hander* who signed for $4.25 million out of the Dominican in 2008, but who is still now recovering from Tommy John surgery. Sickels on that: “It is a waste of space to write about him right now… The report would just read ‘He has a really good arm but no one knows what will happen after the long layoff.'”

*Apologies. He plays ping-pong with his left hand. He pitches with his right.

Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: L.A. Dodgers Television (Away)
This offseason, FanGraphs is asking readers to rate the broadcast teams for all 30 major-league clubs. (Click here for more on this project.)

Rate other teams: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago (AL) / Chicago (NL) / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Miami / Houston / Los Angeles (AL) / Los Angeles (NL, Home Games).

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Michael Ynoa does not throw baseballs with his left hand.