One of our more popular features in the early days of RAB was the Hughes Watch, which will be forever immortalized on the left sidebar of the now defunct IGWT. After Hughes graduated to the bigs we debuted the wildly popular Joba Watch, which chronicled the right-hander’s voyage from A-ball to our hearts in five short months. With Joba now firmly entrenched in the Bronx, it’s time to move on to the next Watch subject, although there’s no obvious candidate.
Ideally, the Watch would cover a guy who will spend most of the year in the minors, but will also make his big league debut at some point. Guys like Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Juan Miranda, Brett Gardner and Scott Patterson fit the bill, but none of them really seemed Watch worthy to me. Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances are really talented, but too far away. Then along came an email from longtime reader Greg G., suggesting that the new Watch should follow JB Cox, Mark Melancon, Humberto Sanchez and Chris Garcia on the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery. He hit the nail on the head.
Not only is their recovery from TJ the biggest story of the minor league year, it also fits the ideal Watch mold. Sanchez and Cox should be knocking on the door by July, and Melancon has a chance to join them come September. Chris Garcia is a ways off, but he’ll add that wow factor if he manages to stay healthy. So with that, the TJ Rehab Watch is born. Four Watches for the price of one, everyone wins.
So here’s how it’s going to work: Just like last year the top table will contain the stats for the last game pitched, reagrdless of who was on the mound, and the bottom table will contained combined stats for all four guys. If more than one guy throws on a given night, I’ll add another “last game” table accordingly. I didn’t want to do a separate table for each guy, or one table for each guy and one combined table, or some sort of wacky business like that because a) HTML tables are the fugliest thing imaginable, and b) it would take up too much real estate. The whole point of the Watch is simplicity, a quick and easy way to track the progress of your favorite (okay, my favorite) prospects. Adding more tables ruins the vibe.
I decided on using a pic of Melancon for a few reasons: It was the best action shot of one of the four guys in a Yankee uni I could find, fans generally seem to love the guy (and with good reason), and also because Robert of Baby Bombers was kind enough to supply it. I considered Photoshopping a little montage off all four guys, but again, it’s all about simplicity. The pic can always be changed, in fact we went through quite a few last year on the Joba Watch.
The minor league season kicks off in full force tomorrow, as every team in every full season league, except the High-A California League, takes to the field (the Cal League season starts on Friday). I find it mildly hilarious that two pitchers on completely opposite ends of the talent spectrum – Rick Porcello and Kei Igawa – grace milb.com’s Opening Day graphic. Talk about odd combinations.
Triple-A Scranton looks to end it’s eight-game Opening Day losing streak against Lehigh Valley, the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. The Kei-man will take the hill for SWB, so yeah, good luck with ending that losing streak. Double-A Trenton starts the year off against the Binghamton Mets, while Low-A Charleston will look to conquer the Rome Braves. The highlight of Opening Day is the aforementioned Mr. Porcello making his pro debut against the High-A Tampa Yanks. Couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off the year.