Category Archives: Cheap Jerseys

Fernando Rodriguez Jr. Jersey

BY ERIN SHERIDAN Staff Writer
A Harlingen man who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography appeared at the federal courthouse Thursday morning in Brownsville, where the prosecutors delayed the man’s sentencing for another 60 days.

Genaro Torres Alejo Jr. was charged with one count of possession of child pornography in an indictment handed down by a grand jury on June 25, 2019. Alejo pleaded guilty Oct. 1, 2019, according to court records.

The indictment charged Alejo with knowingly possessing material that contained multiple images of child pornography, including depictions of a prepubescent minor who had not attained 12 years of age.

The man was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

During the hearing, prosecutors representing both parties agreed to a 60-day continuance to identify victims and determine appropriate means of compensation for those affected.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. told attorneys that past cases have included victim impact statements and specific requests for retribution from identified victims.

Government prosecutors made note that an issue with the database used to identify victims had inhibited their efforts. Only one victim had been identified, but more requests were coming in, they told the judge.

According to a criminal complaint, Alejo was arrested May 30 after Homeland Security Investigations agents with the Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigation Task Force executed a search warrant at the man’s Harlingen residence.

Five days earlier, HSI agents identified an IP address in possession of image and video files of child pornography. They initiated an investigation, leading them to Alejo, according to the document.

The complaint stated that Alejo admitted to agents that he used his laptop to search for, receive, and possess images and video files of child pornography and that he had been doing so for two years.

An initial review of the laptop led to the discovery of the 200 video files, agents wrote.

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Tyler Collins Jersey

The Royals have released outfielder Tyler Collins, according to Rustin Dodd of The Athletic (via Twitter). He was playing at the organization’s top affiliate on a minor-league deal.

Collins, 27, had seen MLB action over the past four seasons with the Tigers. He has had his share of opportunities, but has only managed a .235/.299/.380 slash in 552 plate appearances in the majors.

It seemed that Collins might have a shot at earning some time in the K.C. outfield mix, but he turned in a tepid performance in the Cactus League. And he never got going at Triple-A Omaha, where he has managed just seven base hits — all singles — in his 62 plate appearances.

Art Fromme Jersey

PHILLIES — Johnny Lush (18 years, 336 days on Sept. 8, 1904)

Lush played games in his first season in 1904 as a first baseman, outfielder and pitcher. He hit two career home runs, and both were in 1904 while playing first base — and they were within a few days of each other, on Sept. 8 and 12. Not only that, both of the home runs were of the inside-the-park variety. The first was at the New York Giants, off Claude Elliott.

Runners-up: Ted Kazanski (19-175), Sherry Magee (20-33)

NL CENTRAL

BREWERS — Robin Yount (18 years, 209 days on April 13, 1974)

The future Hall of Famer homered in his sixth career game off the Orioles’ Ross Grimsley. Oddly enough, Yount’s first two homers both came off Grimsley, even though one was in mid-April and the next was in mid-June. Yount went on to hit 251 career home runs, win two MVP Awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Runners-up: Darrell Porter (19-240), Gary Sheffield (19-296)

CARDINALS — Dick Schofield (18 years, 221 days on Aug. 16, 1953)

Schofield played for 19 years, amassing 3,545 plate appearances, but hit just 21 home runs in his career. His first one was historic for the franchise, though, as he hit it as an 18-year-old. He hit that first home run in Cincinnati off Frank Smith, in his 13th career game.

Runners-up: Bunny Hearn (19-142), Tim McCarver (19-270)

CUBS — Danny Murphy (18 years, 21 days on Sept. 13, 1960)

Murphy played outfield initially in his career, then finished up his final two seasons as a pitcher — but this home run, of course, came while he was an outfielder at just 18 years old. He actually debuted as a 17-year-old that year, but didn’t go yard until after his Aug. 23 birthday. His first home run came in his 21st career game. He hit it off the Reds’ Bob Purkey, a three-run home run to give the Cubs the lead in a game in Cincinnati. Murphy hit four career home runs, including his fourth and final one as a pitcher in 1970.

Runners-up: Phil Cavarretta (18-68), Harry Chiti (19-165)

PIRATES — Bobby Del Greco (19 years, 63 days on June 9, 1952)

The 19-year-old hit his first career home run in his 49th career game off the Boston Braves’ Jim Wilson. Del Greco finished his career with 42 home runs, three of which he hit for the Pirates, in 1952 and 1956.

Runners-up: Lee Walls (19-217), Dale Coogan (19-314)

REDS — Pete Schneider (19 years, 29 days on Sept. 18, 1914)

Schneider was a pitcher, but he managed five home runs in his career, including this one as a 19-year-old in 1914. He homered off the Giants’ Art Fromme, knocking an inside-the-park home run. Three of his five career home runs were inside-the-parkers. He finished his career with 16 home runs allowed.

Runners-up: Ted Tappe (19-224), Curt Flood and Vada Pinson (19-250)

NL WEST

D-BACKS — Justin Upton (19 years, 347 days on Aug. 7, 2007)

The only home run as a teenager of Upton’s career was this one, in his first home game and fifth overall game in 2007. He went yard off the Pirates’ Tom Gorzelanny, one of two home runs he’d hit that season. Upton and his brother, Melvin Upton Jr., each hold the record for the youngest home run for a franchise — Justin for the D-backs and Melvin for the Rays.

Runners-up: Gerardo Parra (22-7), Karim Garcia (22-153)

DODGERS — Tommy Brown (17 years, 257 days on Aug. 20, 1945)

Brown isn’t just the youngest Dodgers player to hit a home run in the Modern Era, he’s the youngest for any team in the Modern Era, as he’s the only one to go deep as a 17-year-old. Brown’s first homer came off the Pirates’ Preacher Roe. What’s even wackier than a 17-year-old homering? Brown debuted in 1944, at 16 years, 241 days old, so he could’ve done so at an even younger age, theoretically. He played in 46 games in 1944, but tallied just four extra-base hits, all doubles.

Runners-up: Adrian Beltre (19-84), Don Drysdale (20-48)

GIANTS — Mel Ott (18 years, 138 days on July 18, 1927)

Ott debuted at 17, but didn’t homer until he was 18, in his second season in the Majors. His first home run was an inside-the-parker off the Cubs’ Hal Carlson. He’d go on to hit 511 home runs in his career, which makes him one of 27 players to reach the 500-homer plateau, though when he hit No. 500, he was the first National League player to accomplish the feat.

Runners-up: Whitey Lockman (18-345), Fred Merkle (19-186)

PADRES — Roberto Alomar (20 years, 85 days on April 30, 1988)

Alomar’s first home run came off the Pirates’ Bob Kipper at Jack Murphy Stadium. Alomar hit 210 home runs in his Hall of Fame career, including 22 with the Padres. Earlier this season, Fernando Tatis Jr. became the second-youngest player to homer for the Padres, narrowly missing out on edging Alomar as he was four days older.

Runners-up: Fernando Tatis Jr. (20-89), Jerry Morales (20-204)

ROCKIES — Roberto Mejia (21 years, 100 days on July 23, 1993)

This Rockies record still stands from the team’s first year of existence in 1993. Mejia hit just 10 home runs in his career, all of them in a Rockies uniform, but he certainly hit them at a young age. The 21-year-old took Allen Watson of the Cardinals deep for his first career home run. His other four home runs in 1993 came off some pretty nifty company: Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Trevor Hoffman and Tom Glavine.

Runners-up: Troy Tulowitzki (21-329), Nolan Arenado (22-13)

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.

Mike Prendergast Jersey

INVERNESS, Fla. (AP) – The Florida Highway Patrol says a vehicle driven by a Florida sheriff struck and killed a pedestrian who was walking on a highway.

The agency’s report says 62-year-old Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast was traveling on U.S. 19 in an unmarked patrol vehicle around 9:10 p.m. Wednesday when he struck 59-year-old Ronnie Anthony Heath. Troopers say the man died at the scene. No charges have been filed against Prendergast.

Eddie Priest Jersey

In honor of the quickly approaching Easter Sunday celebration this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to highlight and rank some of the greatest Easter player names in Major League Baseball history.

Some players on the list never reached the big club, but everyone listed here have played professional baseball for one of MLB’s organizations.

Names are plucked from everything “Easter” including symbols, traditions, common food, and the literally obvious.

There is no criteria for ranking these players based on stats or performance, as all decisions were solely based upon how Easter relevant their names are/were.

Sit back and enjoy, and feel free to add any other options in the comment thread after you’re done reading. Here we go:

20. Jack Spring
Spring was a pitcher for a number of teams over eight off-and-on seasons from 1955-1965. He retired with a 12-5 record and 4.26 ERA in 185 IP.

It is obvious as to why a man named “Spring” would crack this list, but the lack of creativity or uniqueness to his name leaves him at the bottom of the list.

Ryan Pope
Currently a minor league pitcher within the New York Yankees organization, Pope has logged nearly 400 IP in his professional career.

He is working hard to reach the big club in 2011 or 2012, but while his quality arm is climbing the ranks, his name is not–coming in at No. 19 on this list.

18. Bobby Wine
Wine was a major league Infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos from 1960-1972.

While the drink he is named after may also represent strong religious symbols, it is not solely a Christian or religious beverage–leaving him on the outside looking in at No. 18.

17. Lave Cross
Cross was a catcher and outfielder who spent most of his career in Philadelphia (both with the Athletics and Phillies) from 1887-1907.

No one needs much of an explanation as to why a “Cross” would end up on the list, but it was not enough to bump him up near the Top 10 of the list.

16. Eddie Priest
Eddie Priest has a very brief major league career, and he was able to log just six innings pitched with the Cincinnati Reds in 1998.

Another obvious choice for the best Easter name in MLB history, Priest falls into place at No. 16 here on my list.

15. Justin Christian
Christian, an outfielder known primarily for his speed, played in 24 games for the New York Yankees during the 2008 season.

Christianity is of course at the epicenter of the Easter Sunday celebration, so it was difficult for Justin not to end somewhere in the Top 20.

Dana Fillingim Jersey

The 1920s was one of the worst decades in the history of Major League Baseball for starting pitcher stats. It is the worst, except for the 1890s, 1930s, and 2000s (now).

It’s especially interesting because it followed one of the best decades in history for starting pitcher numbers—the 1910s.

The 1910s is the best decade for starting pitcher numbers, other than the 1870s and the first decade of the 1900s.

The 1920s was the first decade of the live ball era.

Every starting pitcher on this list pitched at least part of their career in the 1910s, and this needs to be adjusted for, because pitching in the 1910s obviously positively affected their numbers. The more they pitched in the 1910s, the more adjustment is needed.

Another thing that makes this decade interesting is the fact that there are nine starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame from the 1920s. That is more than any other decade in the history of MLB, along with the nine from the first decade of the 1900s.

Seven of the nine HOFers make this top 10. So two of them don’t make the top 10; that only leaves three spots for non-HOFers.

There were 60 starting pitchers from the 1920s who pitched in at least 200 games.

If a player does not appear on the list of the 60 eligible players list, then they either didn’t reach 200 games, or I consider them a pitcher from the 1910s or the 1930s.

The 1930s will be covered in a separate article, and I just wrote an article on the 10 best starting pitchers from the 1910s.

Pitchers will only be in one decade. For example, Grover Alexander will appear in this article. So, he will not appear in my 1930s article, which I will write at a later date, and he did not appear in my 1910s article.

An Explanation of the Stats

The statistics used will be Games Pitched, Games Started, Innings Pitched, ERA, ERA+, W, W percentage+, H/9 (OBA), WHIP (OOB percentage), SHO, SHO/40 (per 40 games started), K, and K/BB (ratio). I will also letter-grade their length of career.

First, I will include their raw career numbers. These are simply their career numbers.

Second, I will include their adjusted career numbers, if they had a long career (which most have).

Adjusted career is this: Let’s take Red Faber, for example. Faber is a starting pitcher from the 1920′s that had a long career. So in order to find his real numbers, I have to exclude some late seasons during his career to find the numbers that he really carried during his career, since he pitched past his prime.

With Faber, I’d exclude his 1927 season. That is his adjusted career. Again, this can only be done with long career players. If I don’t list an adjusted career under a player’s raw career numbers, then it means they didn’t play long enough to adjust for their long career or it means they didn’t have any bad seasons.

Third, I will include peak career numbers. Many like short peaks, but not me. I include the best seasons equaling at least 200 games for a peak. It takes away the possibility of a pitcher having one or two lucky seasons. The 200-game peak will let us know how good the pitcher was at his best.

Note: W percentage+ is a statistic that I have invented. It takes the team’s winning percentage into account. It is very complicated as different weights are applied to seasons depending on how many games and innings pitched a pitcher accumulated during a single season. Having said that, here’s the simple version.

If a starting pitcher has a career .500 W percentage during the 2000s and that pitcher pitched for the Yankees. Well, .500 is not good. But, if that pitcher pitched for the Royals, then .500 is good.

This is the reasoning behind W percentage+. It is to W percentage what ERA is to ERA+. It’s not foolproof, but neither is ERA+, just another piece of the puzzle and far, far more important than raw W percentage.

The 60 Starting Pitchers

Here are the 60 starting pitchers from the 1920′s that reached at least 200 games (listed in alphabetical order): Vic Aldridge, Grover Alexander, Jesse Barnes, Virgil Barnes, Larry Benton, Sheriff Blake, Ted Blankenship, Joe Bush, Hal Carlson, Rip Collins, Stan Coveleski, Bil Doak, Pete Donohue, Howard Ehmke, Jumbo Elliott, Red Faber, Alex Ferguson, Dana Fillingim, Milt Gaston, Joe Genewich, Dolly Gray, Burleigh Grimes, Jesse Haines, Slim Harriss, Waite Hoyt, Bill Hubbell, Elmer Jacobs, Sam Jones, Tony Kaufmann, Ray Kremer, Dolf Luque, Carl Mays, Hugh McQuillan, Doug McWeeny, Lee Meadows, Jake Miller, Clarence Mitchell, Johnny Morrison, Art Nehf, Joe Oeschger, Herb Pennock, Jesse Petty, George Pipgras, Jack Quinn, Jimmy Ring, Eppa Rixey, Dutch Ruether, Jack Scott, Joe Shaute, Bob Shawkey, Bill Sherdel, Urban Shocker, George Smith, Allan Sothoron, Lefty Stewart, Sloppy Thurston, George Uhle, Dazzy Vance, Elam Vangilder, and Tom Zachary.

The Honorable Mentions

Here are the 10 starting pitchers that just missed the top 10 for various reasons (listed in alphabetical order): Bill Doak, Jesse Haines, Sam Jones, Ray Kremer, Art Nehf, Herb Pennock, Jack Quinn, Bob Shawkey, Bill Sherdel, and Tom Zachary.

The Top 10

10. Urban Shocker (1916-1928) Career Length Grade: C-

Raw Career: 412 G, 317 GS, 2,681.2 IP, 3.17 ERA, 124 ERA+, 187 W, 117 W%+, 9.1 H/9, 1.26 WHIP, 28 SHO, 3.5 SHO/40, 983 K, and 1.5 K/BB

Jeff Twitty Jersey

Some romances are made for the theater; some are made in the theater.

Mary Carter’s Friday night plan was to to pick up a friend who worked at the Flick Theater in Jacksonville so they could cruise around Levy and hang out at Sonic.

The first time I saw my future spouse:

She says: “He was so nice-looking. I can honestly say I knew I was going to marry that man.”

He says: “She had long brown hair and she had some jeans on and had a really pretty face and really white teeth and she smelled good. All the check marks were there and everything was right.”

On our wedding day:

She says: “It was just the tender words my dad had said — he has since passed away and I was a big-time daddy’s girl. He was really glad I had chosen someone like Jeff and he knew he was going to take care of me.”

He says: “I was a senior in college and I actually had class that day. I got out of there by noon and hustled home and started getting ready for the wedding. I had a big honeymoon planned and things were looking good.”

My advice for a long happy marriage is:

She says: “Communication is super important. Don’t stay mad at one another. Life’s too short.”

He says: “You have to always communicate — talk to each other on a regular basis. Family values are really important. We were both Christian people and it’s important to be in church. It’s important to maintain family values and friendships.”

“I got there a little bit early, before my friend got off work. When I got there she said there was this guy she wanted me to meet,” says Mary, who was 17 in 1977.Cue the entrance of Jeff Twitty.

“Back in those days, they wore these three-piece leisure suits,” says Mary. “I’m actually a year and a half older than him but he looked much older in his suit. He walked in and I noticed him instantly.”

Jeff had a girlfriend, too, and they went to find seats in the theater.

“I didn’t know my girlfriend knew him but I said, ‘Now, if you want to fix me up with something, fix me up with something that looks like that.’ She just kind of laughed,” Mary says. “I said, ‘He’s got such a cute butt,’ which is so out of character for me. I don’t know why I said that — just girls being silly.”

Jeff circled back to the concession stand, where Mary and her friend were standing, to buy popcorn and drinks.

“As he turned to walk off my girlfriend said, ‘Hey, Jeff, my girlfriend thinks you’ve got a cute butt.’ I was mortified,” she says. “My face turned all red.”

Mary rushed from the theater lobby to her car in the parking lot. Jeff was unruffled.

“I just thought, ‘OK, that’s no big deal …’” he says. “But I liked the way she looked and I thought, ‘I’m going to have to check her out.’”

When Mary’s friend finished her shift she came out to Mary’s car.

“I said, ‘Why in the world would you do that? And why did you want to fix me up with your boss who has a girlfriend when there’s this cute guy that you work with?’ She said, ‘Well, he’s got a girlfriend, too,’ and I was like, ‘Well, he’s cuter than the other guy!’” she says. “Funny thing is, when she went back to work the next week, he had a thousand questions about me as well.”

Jeff, Mary learned, was the theater’s projectionist. He was the reason she saw every movie that ran over the next six months. He was also the reason she sometimes joined her friend at the pizza place next to the theater where theater employees hung out.

When Jeff broke up with his girlfriend, he called Mary. She was going to Greers Ferry Lake with her family, and he and a couple of his friends headed to the lake so he could spend some time with her.

“We just started talking and we’ve been together ever since,” she says.

On the night of their first date, Jeff had to change the movie marquee at 9 p.m. He left Mary with his aunt, a woman she hadn’t met, for 45 minutes before they went to dinner.

Mary was a speed skater so when they weren’t at the pizza place or the movie theater they were at the skating rink together, and they took trips to the lake when they could.

At the end of a date in March 1980, Jeff started talking about places he would like to go. His cousin had gone to the Pocono Mountains, he told Mary, and he wanted to go there on a honeymoon someday.

“I said, ‘Well, you’ll have fun.’ And he said, ‘You’ll have fun if you go with me,’” she says. “That was our proposal, I guess.”

They exchanged their vows on Feb. 27, 1981, in the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) Club on the Jacksonville Air Force Base, where Jeff’s mother worked.

“It was my fairy-tale wedding,” Mary says.

The fairy-tale wedding was followed by a fairy-tale honeymoon — in the Pocono Mountains.

Jeff is a Farmers Insurance agent in Jacksonville. Mary is a Jacksonville alderman. They have two sons — Brian of Jonesboro and Travis of Dallas.

The girl Jeff was dating when he met Mary has remained one of their closest friends over the years.

“She is a sweetheart,” Mary says. “She’s known to my kids as the ex-girlfriend, he’s known to her kids as the ex-boyfriend, but we’re all really good friends.”

The ex-girlfriend lives out of state now but she visits when she’s in town to see her family, and she has sent Jeff and Mary a Christmas ornament for each of the last 38 years.

“I have an ex-girlfriend tree,” Mary laughs.

Friends and family threw Jeff and Mary a surprise 25th anniversary party in the building that used to house the Flick Theater, now a venue called Unique Connection Center.

“If we make it to 50 and if this place is still standing,” Mary says, “I guess that’s where we’ll have to have our party.”

If you have an interesting how-we-met story or if you know someone who does, please call (501) 425-7228 or email:

Deacon Donahue Jersey

PITTSFORD — What do dinosaurs have in common with the Catholic Church?

Both count Peter Dodson among their biggest fans, for one thing. An accomplished paleontologist and a committed Catholic, Dodson is a professor of vertebrate paleontology and veterinary anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. He traveled to the Diocese of Rochester in March to talk with more than 150 local Catholics about the connection between faith and fossils, noted Deacon Dennis Donahue, new-evangelization coordinator at Auburn’s St. Mary Parish as well as Ss. Mary and Martha Parish.

Deacon Donahue, who coordinated Dodson’s visit in conjunction with officials from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, said the paleontologist’s presentations were well-received by people of all ages. Dodson spoke to 70 middle-school students March 29 at Siena Catholic Academy in Brighton and to 35 younger children March 30 at Auburn’s Hilton Garden Inn, where the children had the opportunity to touch some of the fossils Dodson has unearthed over the years.

Adults also had the chance to touch a fossil — a vertebrae more than 150 million years old — after listening to Dodson’s March 28 presentation at St. Bernard’s as well as a March 29 talk at the Auburn hotel. The talks geared toward adults focused more intently on the alleged conflict between science and religion.

These days there’s a popular misconception that science and religion contradict each other, Dodson said, noting that he was unaware of this belief when he embarked on his scientific career path. A lifelong Catholic, Dodson had never noticed any potential conflict between science and religion, so he was taken aback when he attended a seminar during which a respected evolutionary biologist put forth what Dodson termed “an atheist manifesto.”

“He said that this is what evolution shows us: There is no God, there is no soul, there is no life after death, there is no such thing as free will. (He said) a scientist who believes in God is a hypocrite, and you must check your brains at the back of church,” Dodson recalled.

The speaker maintained that the number of evolutionary biologists who believed in God could be counted on one hand, and Dodson, feeling stunned and alone, left the seminar and spent the next few days “in a funk.” Later, however, Dodson realized that no studies had ever been conducted to back up the speaker’s claims.

“He set me on a course of study and investigation and learning and engaging in this topic,” said Dodson, who later became the founding president of the Philadelphia Center for Religion and Science.

Decades of study have reinforced Dodson’s initial belief that science and religion are not at odds with each other. In fact, a later survey showed that approximately 40 percent of scientists hold some sort of religious beliefs, he said.

“It’s the atheists in science that make the most noise, but understand that religious belief is not going to go away,” Dodson said.

The field of science actually developed in western Europe because of religious beliefs, not in spite of them, he added.

“Modern science is a fruit of western Christianity. Until the Enlightenment, virtually all scientists were persons of faith, and doing science was an act of worship, and exploring creation was praising the creator,” Dodson said.

Science and religion actually complement each other, Dodson said, noting that one of his heroes, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, likens the two fields to the two sides of the human brain and heart.

“He said science is like the left side of the brain and religion is the right side. Science takes things apart to see how they work, and religion puts thing together to figure out what they mean,” Dodson said. “Which is more important, the left side of the brain or the right side of the brain? The left side of the heart or the right side of the heart? Believe me, you’d better have them both.”

While science is a “tremendously valuable human enterprise,” it does not tell people how they ought to live their lives or treat their neighbors, Dodson said. And the Bible does an admirable job of showing people how to get to heaven but is not meant to be a scientific manual, he said.

“So what then of the dinosaurs? I say that dinosaurs are one of the jewels of creation,” Dodson said. “God loved dinosaurs, and like all creation, dinosaurs give praise to God, so remember the works of the Lord are trustworthy and the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Al Platte Jersey

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says he and his office have reviewed 75,000 emails relating to the Houston Astros’ electronic sign-stealing scandal. They have interviewed at least three current major league managers, an untold number of players and dozens of major league personnel overall.Al Platte

All that gumshoe work may not inform the commissioner’s impending punishment of the Astros than 19 words he put forth on Sept. 15, 2017:

“All 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be Al Platte subject to more serious sanctions.”

This proclamation came in the wake of a groundbreaking sign-stealing scandal involving the Red Sox, an Apple Watch and the home video room at Fenway Park.

So when Manfred slapped the Red Sox on the wrist, he accompanied the fine with a missive to every major league club, that sign-stealing is cool but, he reminded, “no such (electronic) equipment may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage.’”

MLB OFFSEASON: Best free agents still on the market

HALL OF FAME: Was Derek Jeter baseball’s last celebrity?

Yet there went the Astros, just a week after this pointed Manfred memo was circulated, banging away in a relatively meaningless late-September game against the Chicago White Sox, their video camera-laptop-trash can system apparently in midseason form. With any luck, MLB’s investigation will reveal the extent of the Astros’ shenanigans that postseason, when they went 8-1 at Minute Maid Park and won the World Series.

The bill for thumbing their nose at the commissioner is about to come due.

Manfred’s office is soon expected to announce penalties resulting from the Astros’ alleged scheme. It appears the Astros cooperated with the investigation, which is wise, since they say the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

But if there’s anything worse than a cover-up, it is blatantly flouting your czar’s edict handed down just days earlier.
Al Platte
The result may be, at least temporarily, an Astros organization that looks a lot different than it did just 10 weeks ago.

Assistant general manager Brandon Taubman is already gone, fired under pressure from the commissioner’s office after a profane, bizarre and misogynistic diatribe toward media members that the organization initially denied before stumbling through an awkward contrition that spanned most of the World Series.

Now, general manager Jeff Luhnow, architect of the franchise’s teardown and subsequent buildup into a near-dynasty, among the game’s most influential figures by ushering the analytics era into a bolder but also colder stratosphere, is in the cross hairs.

Ham Iburg Jersey

Pete Alonso smacked a rookie-record 53 homers and Yordan Alvarez helped slug the Astros to within a victory of a World Series championship en route to near-unanimous selections as league Rookies of the Year in 2019. Several other first-year players stood out as well, with Mike Soroka placing fifth in the Majors in ERA and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eloy Jimenez showing why they ranked as the game’s top three prospects entering the year.

Which rookies will make the biggest impact in 2020? Not only did we present a leading candidate for each of the 30 teams last month, but we also surveyed front-office officials for their opinions as part of our 2020 Pipeline Poll, the results of which we’ll reveal over the next few days.

Among other topics, we asked the executives, “Which prospect will contribute the most in 2020?” Here’s what they had to say:

1) Gavin Lux, SS/2B, LAD, (35% of votes)
2) Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK, (19%)
3) Brendan McKay, LHP/DH, TB (15%)
4) Jo Adell, OF, LAA (8%)
5) Sean Murphy, C, OAK (8%)
6) Luis Robert, OF, CWS (8%)
7) Bobby Dalbec, 3B/1B, BOS (4%)
8) MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SD (4%)

L.A.’s Lux leads the way

Besides winning the poll, Lux garnered 90% of the votes given to National League prospects. The 20th overall pick in the 2016 Draft hit .347/.421/.607 with 26 homers and 10 steals between Double-A and Triple-A last season, becoming the first middle infielder age 21 or younger to post a 1.000 OPS in the upper Minors since Gregg Jefferies in 1987. He also came within .001 of on-base percentage of leading all Minor League shortstops in all three slash stats for the second straight year.

Lux has made consistent contact from the left side of the Ham Iburg plate since he entered pro ball, and he began to take off once he got stronger and began using his legs more in his swing. He’s a solid to plus runner who has the tools to get the job done at shortstop, though he has had issues with his throwing accuracy in the Minors and some scouts believe he profiles better at second base. That’s probably where he’ll play with the Dodgers, who have Corey Seager at shortstop and whose best second baseman last year (Max Muncy) is better suited for first base.

Los Angeles showed enough faith in Lux to give him 19 starts during a September callup and three more in the NL Division Series after he pinch-homered in the opener against the Nationals. He became the youngest player to hit a playoff pinch-homer in MLB history and the youngest Dodger (surpassing Cody Bellinger) to homer in the postseason.

Southpaws will duel for top spot in AL

Our survey respondents were split between two left-handers as the top rookie Ham Iburg candidates in the American League, with Luzardo nosing out McKay by a single vote. Luzardo wouldn’t even be in this discussion if rotator-cuff and lat strains hadn’t shut him down for much of 2019, though he did make it to Oakland in September and was spectacular (1.50 ERA, .119 opponent average, 35 percent strikeout rate) in his first taste of the Majors.

Luzardo owns a pair of well above-average pitches in his power sinker and fading changeup, while both his curveball and slider are solid offerings. His pitchability is as good as his stuff, enabling him to reach the big leagues at age 21 despite having Tommy John surgery as a high school senior in 2016 and not being fully turned loose in pro ball until 2018. The A’s also placed him on their postseason roster in October, and he provided three scoreless innings against the Rays in a wild-card loss.

McKay went No. 4 overall in the 2017 Draft as the first player who could have been a top-10 pick as both a hitter and a pitcher since Dave Winfield in 1973. Though his pitching has proven more advanced than his hitting in pro ball, the Rays continue to envision him as a legitimate two-way player. He needed just 165 innings in the Minors before debuting in Tampa Bay, where he logged a 5.14 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 49 innings and went 2-for-10 with a homer before serving a relief role in the AL Division Series.
Ham Iburg
His path to an Opening Day roster spot is less clear than those of Lux and Luzardo, but McKay is big league-ready with a solid four-pitch repertoire (highlighted by his fastball and cutter) and quality command. He also has a ceiling of .275 hitter with 25 or more homers per season, though he’s further away from that than he is at reaching his upside as a No. 3 starter.