Carter Capps used his unique crow-hop delivery and upper-90s fastball velocity to become one of the most unhittable pitchers in baseball last season, registering a 1.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 58/7 K/BB ratio across 31 innings. He was so dominant that the Marlins decided they would let him audition for closer duties this spring, possibly pushing A.J. Ramos into a setup role.
But that dream has already come to an end.
Capps began experiencing discomfort in his right elbow last week and was sent Monday to Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed the 25-year-old reliever with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and recommended that he undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. Capps had that procedure on Tuesday and will spend the next 12-15 months on a program of rest and rehab.
Maybe it’s the funky delivery that deserves the blame here. Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden also takes a dramatic leap toward the plate when he throws and he missed the final five months of the 2015 season (plus the playoffs) with biceps and shoulder troubles. Throwing a baseball is not a natural human movement. Throwing a baseball after taking a five-foot horizontal leap off a mound is even more unnatural.
Ramos is now locked into Miami’s ninth-inning job with no direct competition for save opportunities and very little talent in the setup corps behind him. He boasts a 2.21 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts over his last 134 1/3 innings, and he saved 32 games in 2015 for a Marlins team that finished with just 71 wins.
For player projections, mock drafts, strategy articles, hundreds of individual profiles, and much more, purchase the 2016 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide today. And keep it locked on the constantly-updated MLB player news page all spring for reports out of camps in Arizona and Florida.
Diaz Seizing Opportunity In Cards Camp
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak announced Monday morning that All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta suffered a ligament tear in his left (glove-hand) thumb while fielding a ball during Saturday’s Grapefruit League game against the Marlins. He will be out for at least two months and possibly the entire first half of the 2016 season.
Replacing a shortstop is always hard, and it could prove to be an especially difficult task for a Cardinals team that asked Peralta to make 147 starts at short in 2015. But don’t tell any of that to 25-year-old Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz.
Diaz got the start in Peralta’s place on Tuesday afternoon against the Twins and went 4-for-4 with two singles and two doubles, driving in two runs and scoring one of his own. He also tallied an RBI on Monday and he had two singles in his first three Grapefruit League at-bats.
Diaz was signed to a four-year, $8 million contract back in March 2014 after drawing interest from a dozen major league teams. He struggled initially in the Cardinals’ minor league system and they actually pushed him off their 40-man roster last July, but that move seemed to ignite something offensively. Diaz batted .344/.410/.596 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI over his final 51 games last season between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, and he kept right on rolling in the prospect-packed Arizona Fall League.
It’s dangerous to try to derive meaning from a two- or three-month sample size split between three different levels of baseball, but Diaz looks to be the Cardinals’ best internal option at this point when you factor in bat, glove, and long-term upside. And what if his recent production is for real? Consider that he stopped playing baseball for nearly two years (2012-2013) while attempting to enter the United States.
Jedd Gyorko got some exposure at shortstop last summer in San Diego and he is going to draw starts there this spring, but he fits much better as a platoon partner at second base with the left-handed-hitting Kolten Wong. Greg Garcia is another option here for St. Louis, but he has a pretty underwhelming offensive ceiling. Diaz is looking like a legitimate NL-only fantasy sleeper for the 2016 season, and he may even be worth a flier in deep mixed leagues with early draft dates.
Altherr In For Extended Absence
Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr was lifted from a Grapefruit League game last Friday against the Braves after landing awkwardly on his left wrist while attempting to make a diving catch in the top of the first inning. He told reporters afterward that he didn’t think the injury was anything serious, but tests taken early this week provided a much different story.
Altherr has been diagnosed with a torn extensor carpi ulnaris retinaculum (tendon sheath) and will undergo major wrist surgery back in Philadelphia on Wednesday to repair it. The recovery for such a procedure is 4-6 months, which means we might not see any of Altherr in 2016. He is definitely going to miss the entire first half.
This likely opens the door to a roster spot for Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Goeddel. He has never played above Double-A, but the former supplemental first-round draft pick (41st overall in 2011) batted .279/.350/.433 with 12 home runs and 28 stolen bases in 123 games last season in the Rays’ minor league system. Put him on the radar in NL-only fantasy leagues.
Nick Williams, one of the Phillies’ prized outfield prospects, might also now be on a faster path to the majors.
Altherr, 25, is probably going to be buried on the Philadelphia depth chart by the time he is fully recovered. He posted a promising .827 OPS over 161 plate appearances last season, tallying five home runs and six stolen bases in 39 games.
Quick Hits: Phillies closer candidate David Hernandez is considered day-to-day with tendinitis in his right triceps … Giancarlo Stanton (knee) did some light running and hit in the batting cage on Tuesday … Anibal Sanchez (triceps) threw 50 pitches off a mound Tuesday in Tigers camp … Aroldis Chapman is scheduled to make his Yankees debut in a Grapefruit League game Thursday … Angels closer Huston Street (calf) could make his Cactus League debut Thursday … CC Sabathia pitched two hitless innings versus the Marlins in his spring debut Tuesday … An MRI taken Tuesday on Scooter Gennett’s sore shoulder revealed only mild tendinitis … Yadier Molina could catch in a Grapefruit League game as early as Wednesday … Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner (wrist) took a full round of batting practice on Tuesday … Kris Bryant slugged his first home of the spring Tuesday versus the Dodgers … Evan Gattis (hernia) hit 25 overhand pitches Tuesday in Astros camp … Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor was scratched from Tuesday’s Cactus League lineup with minor oblique tightness … Jimmy Rollins started at shortstop and went 3-for-4 with a home run Tuesday against the Brewers … Luke Gregerson (oblique) will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday … X-rays taken Tuesday on T.J. McFarland's left elbow revealed no damage … Nick Castellanos is day-to-day in Tigers camp with tightness in his lower back … Dodgers prospect Julio Urias (groin) is tentatively scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Friday … Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez fired three perfect innings Tuesday in his second Cactus League start … Braves signed lefty reliever Phil Coke to a minor league contract … Steven Souza (intercostal) could make his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday … Devin Mesoraco (hip, groin) recently resumed taking batting practice … A’s right-hander Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday … Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (knee) will make his Cactus League debut on Saturday … Seung Hwan Oh, signed by the Cardinals out of South Korea, has yet to allow a run in three appearances this spring … Hunter Pence (heel) is slated to make his Cactus League debut Friday … Red Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech fractured his right hand during an altercation with a teammate.