The Eight Players Who Debuted Between May 8 and June 8, 2013
As explained, the Super Two date is not known until the end of the season two years after a player’s debut. But based on experience in other years, in 2013 the likely cutoff date would have been in the May 8 – June 8 window. Generally speaking, the later the debut date in this window, the more reason to think the team was probably trying to game the Super Two date. But in each case you have to look at the circumstances.
Derek Dietrich, May 8: A second round pick by Tampa in 2010, Dietrich split 2012 between Hi A and AA and posted an .811 and .753 OPS at those stops. He had never been ranked in the BA top 100. He got off to a hot start in 2013, posting a .913 OPS in 28 AA games, and got his call-up. He had a .679 OPS in the majors in 56 games before being returned to AA, where he finished out the MiL season with an .869 OPS the rest of the way and did not get a September call-up. He’s bounced between the majors and minors a few times. He actually became a Super Two after the 2016 season, as the result of the accumulation of a couple partial seasons worth of service time.
Verdict: No manipulation.
Kevin Gausman, May 23: I won’t belabor this one because you are all familiar with him. The no. 4 overall pick in 2012, he was ranked no. 26 by BA going into 2013. He made his major league debut after making 8 AA starts in which he posted a 3.11 ERA. From there, he bounced back and forth between the majors and minors numerous times in 2013-15. He eventually became a full time major leaguer in 2016 and was a Super Two after that season, like Dietrich, based on the accumulation of a few partial seasons. After being traded to Atlanta in his Arb-2 season, he was released in his Arb-3 season.
Verdict: No manipulation
Cesar Hernandez, May 29: An international signee unranked by BA, Hernandez spent most if 2012 in AA and spent the last 30 games in AAA, OPSing .781 and .567. He had an .811 OPS in 50 AAA games in 2013 before his call-up. He only spent 10 days with the Phillies before going back to the minors, and then returned to the majors during September call-ups. Spent a good bit of 2014 in the minors as well and ended up as a Super Two after the 2016 season based on several partial seasons. Got released before his Arb 4 season after making $7.75 mm in Arb 3, and signed with Cleveland for $6.25 mm this season and had a great year, winning a Gold Glove and being worth 1.8 rWAR in the short season. He’s a free agent now.
Verdict: No manipulation.
Alex Wood, May 30: A second round pick in 2012, Wood got no higher than low A that summer and was not ranked by BA going into 2013. In hindsight, he should have been. He skipped high A, made 10 AA starts with a 1.26 ERA, got promoted to the majors, where he was used in relief. Though he was highly effective in his first 16 appearances, he was sent to AAA where he made one start and then returned to the majors as a starter. He finished the year with 123 days of service which ended up being one week short of what he would have needed to qualify as a Super Two.
Verdict: Certainly no manipulation to delay free agency. You can argue that the Braves could have called him up sooner but waited for May 30 for Super Two reasons. But honestly, he was a second round pick who made it to the majors less than a year after he was drafted – are you really going to argue his debut was delayed for service time reasons?
Michael Wacha, May 30: Drafted no. 19 in 2012 and ranked no. 76 by BA going into 2013, like Wood and Gausman from that class he made it to the majors in less than a year. In 2012 he only pitched 8 innings but the Cardinals tested him in rookie league, high A and AA in those innings. He went straight to AAA to begin 2013, and was called up after making nine starts to a 2.05 ERA in the hitter-friendly PCL. He made three starts, with two very good starts sandwiching one poor outing, and got sent back to the minors for a month before returning to the majors for the rest of the season. He ended up accruing 62 days of service time that year, nowhere close to on track for Super Two.
Verdict: Like Wood, you could argue that he could have been called up a week or two earlier, but it’s really hard to argue that his debut was delayed artificially and the Cards didn’t keep him in the majors all year anyway. I’d say no manipulation.
Alex Colome, May 30: An international signee, Colome had been ranked no. 68 by BA before the 2010 season but was unranked the next four years. In 2012 he spent most of the year as a starter in AA and started 3 games at AAA at the end of the year. He made ten AAA starts in 2013, to a 2.60 ERA, and got his call-up, but only for one start. He had an excellent game (5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER) but was sent back to the minors for five more starts, returning on June 22. He got hurt after two starts and missed the rest of the year. He began 2014 on the DL, and ended up pitching only five major league games in 2014.
Verdict: More of a borderline case than some of the others. It could have been possible to start Colome in the majors after three AAA starts the year before, but the case wasn’t compelling. The fact that, once he got called up on May 30, they sent him right back for five more starts, suggests that his debut had not been timed with Super Two in mind. But, I can’t say for sure.
Yasiel Puig, June 3: Puig already had signed a major league contract in 2012 with salaries that extended all the way through 2018. After signing on June 29, he played a month of minor league ball in 2012 getting as high as A+. He played AA in 2013 for 40 games before his call-up.
Verdict: This is a unique case. The Dodgers already had Puig signed for 2012-2018. Would they really have delayed his call-up to gain an extra year of service? If so, his Super Two status would be completely irrelevant since he was under contract for all but his Arb 4 season. So, if they thought he was ready for the majors, they could have called him up in late April and gotten the extra year, but they chose to wait until early June to call him up. I can only conclude that service time issues were not a factor in when Puig got called up.
Scooter Gennett, June 3: A 16th round pick in 2009, Gennett played 2012 in AA and posted a .714 OPS. He was unranked by BA. He posted a .719 OPS in the PCL in 50 games before his call-up. He spent three weeks in the majors, posted a .607 OPS in that time and was returned to the minors. He was called up again at the end of July and spent the rest of the year in the majors. He stayed in the majors throughout 2014 but bounced back and forth a bit in 2015.
Verdict: No manipulation.
That concludes the players who debuted during the period where Super Two status was uncertain. Only Cesar Hernandez and Alex Colome had played any AAA ball going into 2013, and each case they had spent less than a month there. In the end, only Alex Wood came close to attaining Super Two status, falling a week short, and it’s a bit hard to say his debut was deferred for that reason given his little MiL experience and unranked status going into 2013. In my opinion, while it is possible that service time issues played some role in decisions for a couple of these players, there is no obvious case of service time manipulation in any of these.
I will have one more long post looking at the 7 players who were called up from June 9-30, which would have been considered “safe” from a Super Two perspective. I probably won’t get to that before the weekend, because it takes some time to put these together. But I’ll tease it by saying I do think there’s at least one pretty clear case of service time manipulation in that group, and maybe more.