Top Digital Marketing Tips You Need To Read

Digital Marketing is a lucrative business and it is far more effective for larger and more competitive businesses. If it is done effectively, it has far more success than small business advertising does. This is a business that is always evolving, as more and more ideas continue to emerge; however, it takes time and effort to promote and perfect different strategies to help your business grow. There are several different keys to successful digital marketing. There are multiple channels in which a digital marketing audience can be reached; blogs, social media, e-mail, podcasts and websites. The following strategies will help kick your career into high gear.

First of all, you need to keep up with all the major digital marketing sites, such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, and also keep up with industry news. Blogs also help share information which is geared toward a specific audience. The sort of information that is expressed in a blog inspires a specific audience to not only read the original content, but also brings people back to the blog for future reading. You can also use social media sites, such as facebook, to boost your business. It is important to build trust and brand loyalty with the audience. However, do not strictly advertise. You should aim to build a relationship with the audience. Try to keep content simple, be consistent, and always respond to feedback with a positive attitude and as quickly as possible. You might find this article interesting.

Second, digital marketing messages should be quick and also grab the reader’s attention in an instant. This is because you literally only have seconds to connect with a potential customer. The message should also be direct and organized and convey a feeling that reaches the audience right away.

Third, you should always try to network. Try to surround yourself with those who are also in the digital marketing business. You can find industry meet-ups and conferences in your area, and you can enhance your abilities through in-depth workshops and presentations.

Fourth, visual aids are an awesome tool that can optimize development. Videos and graphics for your blog or social media site, can optimize communication and business development. Videos and for your blog or social media site, can really grab the audience’s attention and boost the quality of the content. Visual images are usually a great way to promote business.

Fifth, every digital marketer should have personal projects that they devise all on their own. This is a way to test out your own personal projects and is also a way to test out your own personal marketing skills and build revenue apart from industry leaders and fellow digital marketers.

Sixth, promote any positive reviews you receive concerning your business, on your website, and show the consumer why they should choose your business. Positive reviews tend to generate business.

Seventh, use different perspectives in your website development. You need to make sure that it connects with all different members of your consumer audience. Try to prioritize your site based on the need of long term customers. It is important to gain insight and feedback from the consumer audience.

Eighth, mobile relates to all types of marketing, especially digital marketing. It has influence over web development, content creation, user experience and promotion. These days, people like to use apps, features and other functions, or some other mobile feature that utilizes digital marketing in the way and in the form they feel is best for them.

Ninth, it is also important for digital marketers to construct a landing page. This is the first impression that users get of your brand and it allows for the communication of important objectives in your site. People tend to be impatient when searching for things online. Try to give them exactly what they want with clear and concise landing pages. Last, and possibly most importantly, learn basic knowledge of HTML and graphic design. This will make you look more credible, relevant and able to produce a quality product. Acquiring a certificate in a certified digital marketing course will also make you stand out from the rest.

Tenth, use content to promote your brand using a quality service like iNet Ventures or ICY Digital, both of which have the ability to strengthen a brand’s authority via influencer marketing techniques of which are effective and natural.

Basically, any sort of knowledge in digital marketing will propel you all the way to the top. In conclusion, digital marketing encompasses many forms of online promotion, ranging from social media to online advertising. It is a growing industry in which interesting concepts are embraced and technology is used as a tool to obtain a new and an ever-changing consumer audience. If you utilize the above tips, you will eventually find success in the digital marketing business.

Manny Machado Hits 3 HR, Including Walkoff Grand Slam vs. Angels

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado flexed his muscles Friday night in a 9-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels

After belting a two-run home run in the third inning and a solo shot in the fifth, Machado stepped up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and belted a walk-off grand slam off Keynan Middleton: 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Machado joined Joey Votto and Khris Davis as the only players in Major League Baseball history to punctuate a three-home run outing with a walk-off grand slam. 

Baltimore's hot corner stalwart is now slashing .367/.358/.785 with eight home runs and 28 RBI over his last 18 games, per MLB.com's Andrew Simon

Thanks to Friday's win, which snapped a two-game losing skid, the Orioles are now two games back of the American League's final wild-card spot. 

They'll attempt to cut into that deficit even more Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET when Kevin Gausman takes the mound against Angels starter J.C. Ramirez. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Corey Kluber Suffers Ankle Injury vs. Royals

Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber is dealing with injury issues again after leaving Friday's start against the Kansas City Royals with a sprained right ankle, according to Cleveland.com's Paul Hoynes

Hoynes later noted Kluber did not suffer a high ankle sprain and could potentially make his next start. 

Kluber previously spent time on the disabled list in May due to discomfort in his back.

Injuries haven't been much of an issue over the past few seasons, though, as he transformed into one of the most consistent pitchers in the sport. He has made at least 32 starts with 215 innings pitched in each of the last three years.

The 31-year-old won one Cy Young Award in this stretch, finishing ninth and third in voting in the other two seasons. He has led the league in FIP twice in the last three seasons.

Kluber was also key in the Indians' playoff run in 2016 as a steady force with various injuries around him in the rotation. He tallied a 4-1 record and a 1.83 ERA in six starts while helping lead the team to the American League pennant. 

He has followed up his great postseason by going 11-3 with a 2.71 ERA and 0.909 WHIP. 

Unfortunately, an injury appears to have slowed him down again. Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and others will try to carry the rotation in the meantime.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Drew Pomeranz Suffers Lower Body Injury vs. Yankees

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz was forced to leave Friday night's game against the New York Yankees in the fourth inning due to back spasms, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

Pomeranz appeared to tweak something, and manager John Farrell decided to remove him from the game after he attempted two warm-up pitches.

Prior to leaving, Pomeranz had allowed four hits and no runs while striking out four in 3.1 innings with Boston leading 2-0.

Pomeranz was replaced in the game by long reliever Brandon Workman.

Boston has dealt with injuries to key starters all season long with David Price and Steven Wright currently on the disabled list, and Eduardo Rodriguez having previously spent time on the DL as well.

Pomeranz has been a constant for the Sox, though, boasting a 12-4 record with a 3.31 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 136 strikeouts in 130.2 innings.

He made his first career All-Star team with the San Diego Padres last season before San Diego traded him to Boston for highly touted prospect Anderson Espinoza.

The 28-year-old Pomeranz is key for the Red Sox down the stretch and heading toward the playoffs, but Boston entered Friday with a cushion of four games over the Yanks in the AL East.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Max Scherzer Scratched from Start vs. Padres with Neck Injury

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer was scratched from Friday's start against the San Diego Padres because of a neck injury, according to MASN's Mark Zuckerman

Scherzer last landed on the injury report Aug. 1 when he was pulled from his start against the Miami Marlins with spasms on the other side of his neck.  

However, that proved to be more of a scare than anything else, and he returned to the mound Aug. 7. 

When healthy, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner has been dialed in. 

To date, he's gone 12-5 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and NL-leading marks of 12.3 strikeouts and 5.4 hits allowed per nine innings.   

There may not be another pitcher in baseballmuch less in the Nationals' rotationwho can produce those numbers, so Washington will need to hold out hope the latest ailment proves minor again and doesn't prevent Scherzer from missing future starts. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chris Archer Joins Exclusive Club of Tampa Bay Rays Hurlers

Tampa Bay Rays ace starting pitcher Chris Archer posted another solid outing Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out 10 over seven innings.

Although it didn't result in a win for him or the team, Archer did become the third pitcher in Rays history to record 1,000 strikeouts, per Sportsnet Stats. Only James Shields (1,250) and David Price (1,065) have more than the 28-year-old.

Archer owns 1,002 strikeouts in his six seasons with the Rays and likely has enough starts this season to challenge Price's mark for second in franchise history. With at least two years remaining on the contract and up to four if the club picks up his options in 2020 and 2021, he has a great opportunity to pass Shields for the franchise lead.

While Archer hasn't returned to the form from 2015 that earned him fifth place in the AL Cy Young voting, he's at least improved on his disappointing 2016 campaign this year. Last season, Archer finished the year with a league-worst 19 losses while posting a 4.02 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He's reduced that to just 20 home runs this season, owning a 3.84 ERA and a respectable 8-7 record thus far.

Another factor in Archer's success this season is his improved strikeout rate. After experiencing a slight dip from 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2015 to 10.4 last season, he's boosted that rate to a career-high 11.2 this season while dropping his walk rate.

Unfortunately, Archer's resurgence hasn't been enough for the Rays to compete in the AL East. The team owns just a 60-63 record following Thursday's loss, good for third place in the division.

The Rays open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on Friday, looking to bust out of a seven-game stretch that's seen the team go just 1-6. Tampa Bay sends Austin Pruitt to the mound to face Seattle and former Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Derek Jeter, Wife Hannah Celebrate Birth of Daughter Bella Raine

Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and his wife, Hannah Jeter, welcomed their first child on Thursday. 

News of Bella Raine Jeter's birth was tweeted out by The Players' Tribune Twitter account:

 

The couple announced Hannah's pregnancy in February in an article she contributed to The Players' Tribune.  

Jeter has not been slowed down by retirement. The 43-year-old married in 2016 and he is currently part of a group that is reportedly nearing a deal to purchase the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yawkey Foundation ‘Disheartened’ to Be Linked to Racial, Political Controversy

The Yawkey Foundation has responded to comments from Boston Red Sox owner John Henry about the team's desire to lead an effort to get the street named after Tom Yawkey changed.

In a statement released Friday (via WEEI's Kirk and Callahan), the Yawkey Foundation said it was "disheartened" by having Yawkey's name added to the list of racially divisive and controversial monuments.

"Jean and Tom Yawkey's philanthropy, which has contributed more than $450 million—most of it to the Boston community—has always been color blind," the statement said.

Henry said in an email to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald on Thursday the street named Yawkey Way "has always been a consistent reminder that it is our job to ensure the Red Sox are not just multi-cultural, but stand for as many of the right things in our community as we can..."

Yawkey owned the Red Sox from 1933 until his death in July 1976, at which point his wife took over controlling interest until she died in 1992. The Jean R. Yawkey Trust owned the franchise until 2002 when Henry bought the team. 

During Yawkey's tenure as owner, the Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to integrate their roster in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Bill Baer of NBC Sports reported Yawkey also "refused to promote black players from the minor leagues during the 1950’s despite exceptional performance."

The original address for Fenway Park was 24 Jersey Street, but the street was posthumously renamed after Yawkey in 1977. 

 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Patrick Corbin Goes 8 Innings Without Allowing Run Against Astros

Fact: Patrick Corbin gave up zero runs over 8.2 innings against the Astros in the Diamondbacks' 4-0 win on Thursday. He is the first pitcher to throw eight or more innings without allowing a run against Houston this season. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Facts of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: B/R Insights

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Jon Lester Reportedly Not Expected to Miss Significant Time with Lat Injury

The Chicago Cubs can breathe a sigh of relief after Jon Lester left Thursday's start against the Cincinnati Reds after just 1.2 innings with a lat injury. 

Per Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, Lester may only need "a short DL stint" before returning to the Cubs' starting rotation.   

        

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game.   

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

These Highly-Reviewed Power Banks Are On Sale

Anker PowerCore 20000mAh Power Bank

If you’re looking for the power bank with ultra-high capacity, the Anker PowerCore 20000mAh Power Bank is the obvious choice. Over 10,000 of Amazon customer reviews and the rating is still strong at 4.6 stars. It can charge your iPhone 7 for 7 times, your Galaxy S6 5 times or your iPad mini 4 times. You can charge up to 2 devices simultaneously. It’s on a 51% discount today and you can get one for only $39.

Here is another high-capacity power bank from RAVPower, the RAVPower 26800mAh Battery Pack. It has more capacity compared to Anker’s and has 3 USB ports. This monster power bank definitely keeps you covered and can last up to 9 days on a single charge. The #1 Best Seller can be yours for only $43.

Anker PowerCore 13000mAh Power Bank

Now if you prefer something more compact, go with this Anker PowerCore 13000mAh Power Bank. It has 2 USB ports, can charge your iPhone 6s 5 times, your Galaxy S6 3 times or your iPad Air 2 once. It used to have a $44 price tag, but it’s down to only $29 today.

 

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Odds, Analysis, MLB Betting Pick

The Boston Red Sox (69-51) open a key three-game series against the New York Yankees (65-55) on Friday as small home favorites at the sportsbooks. The Red Sox just won two straight over the St. Louis Cardinals in interleague play while the Yankees swept a four-game set from the New York Mets.

 

Betting line: The Red Sox opened as -145 favorites (wager $145 to win $100); the total is at nine runs, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report.)

MLB betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 4.3-4.1, Red Sox (MLB picks on every game)

        

Why the Yankees can pay on the MLB lines

New York enjoyed some early-season success vs. Boston, taking six of the first eight meetings. Even though the Yankees have dropped three of the past four in the regular-season series, they still have a lot of confidence heading into this matchup against their chief rivals.

New York will send 24-year-old left-hander Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 3.94 ERA) to the hill off a no-decision in his last start facing the Red Sox last Sunday. Montgomery pitched well, allowing only one run and two hits in 5.1 innings with three walks and four strikeouts in an eventual 3-2 loss.

         

Why the Red Sox can pay on the MLB lines

Boston will counter Montgomery with a southpaw too in Drew Pomeranz (12-4, 3.39), who is performing the way the team hoped he would after acquiring him last season. Pomeranz has won each of his last two starts, allowing four runs and 14 hits in a combined 13 innings with three walks and 13 strikeouts.

The Red Sox outscored the Yankees and Chicago White Sox 14-6 in those games. In fact, Pomeranz is 2-0 in three outings against New York this season with a 4.08 ERA, six walks and 19 strikeouts.

        

Smart betting pick

Boston knows what's at stake in this home series and visits New York again for a four-game set at the end of the month. Pomeranz has hit his stride with the Red Sox and become their most reliable starter not named Chris Sale. He has not suffered a loss since June 11, surrendering more than three runs just once in his previous 11 outings.

Meanwhile, Montgomery does not have the same experience as a rookie, and he has gone 3-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 11 road starts. Bank on Boston to pick up the victory.

         

MLB betting trends

New York is 5-2 in its last seven games on the road.

The total has gone under in 13 of New York's last 19 games on the road.

The total has gone under in 13 of Boston's last 19 games at home.

          

All MLB lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Next: B/R’s Top 100 Prospect Rankings at the Three-Quarter Mark

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and the MiLB season is rapidly winding down, so it seems like the perfect time to update the top 100 prospects list.

When we last updated these rankings, on June 23, it was more about slotting in the latest wave of June draft picks than a full-scale reshuffling of the list.

This time around, there was plenty of movement from top to bottom for a fresh take on the prospect landscape.

Let's dive right into our updated list:

  Top 100 Prospects  
1 img 2B Yoan Moncada (1)
2 img SS Amed Rosario (3)
3 img RF Eloy Jimenez (4)
4 img SS Gleyber Torres (2)
5 img 3B Rafael Devers (6)
6 img OF Ronald Acuna img(33)
7 img 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (8)
8 img CF Victor Robles (5)
9 img 2B/SS Brendan Rodgers (7)
10 img RHP Michael Kopech (13)
11 img OF Kyle Tucker (14)
12 img RHP Walker Buehler img(27)
13 img 3B Nick Senzel (11)
14 img RHP Brent Honeywell (20)
15 img RHP Alex Reyes (9)
16 img RHP Hunter Greene (10)
17 img CF Lewis Brinson (12)
18 img C Francisco Mejia (30)
19 imgRHP Mitch Keller (16)
20 img 2B Ozzie Albies (17)
21 img RHP Triston McKenzie (19)
22 img OF Clint Frazier (25)
23 img LHP Kolby Allard (21)
24 img SS Willy Adames (22)
25 img CF Mickey Moniak (18)
26 img 1B/LHP Brendan McKay (26)
27 img OF Luis Robert (36)
28 img LHP MacKenzie Gore (28)
29 img OF Blake Rutherford (29)
30 img SS Bo Bichette img(57)
31 img OF Alex Verdugo img(55)
32 img RHP Mike Soroka (31)
33 img RHP Cal Quantrill
img(56)
34 img RHP Forrest Whitley img(80)
35 imgCF Austin Meadows (34)
36 img C Carson Kelly (37)
37 img RHP Dylan Cease (38)
38 img CF Leody Taveras (39)
39 img SS Nick Gordon (43)
40 img OF Juan Soto (46)
41 img RHP Franklin Perez (47)
42 img 1B Dominic Smith (44)
43 img SS/CF Royce Lewis
(41)
44 img 2B/SS Franklin Barreto (45)
45 img LHP Jay Groome img(35)
46 img RHP Chance Adams (58)
47 img RHP Kyle Wright (50)
48 img OF Jesus Sanchez img(70)
49 img RHP Sixto Sanchez img(72)
50 img SS Carter Kieboom img(67)
51 img OF Kyle Lewis (61)
52 img LHP A.J. Puk (62)
53 img OF Anthony Alford img(42)
54 img RHP Anderson Espinoza img(23)
55 img 1B Pavin Smith (52)
56 img RHP Jack Flaherty img(75)
57 img SS Kevin Maitan (49)
58 img RHP Erick Fedde (69)
59 img SS Fernando Tatis Jr. img(NR)
60 img RHP Shane Baz (68)
61 img RHP Ian Anderson img(77)
62 img 3B Ryan McMahon img(89)
63 img RHP Yadier Alvarez img(51)
64 img RHP Reynaldo Lopez img(91)
65 img 2B/SS Luis Urias img(48)
66 img IF Christian Arroyo (59)
67 img RHP Lucas Giolito
(66)
68 img OF Adam Haseley (73)
69 img LHP Stephen Gonsalves (71)
70 img RHP Alec Hansen img(86)
71 img 2B Scott Kingery img(NR)
72 img RHP J.B. Bukauskas (78)
73 img RHP Riley Pint img(54)
74 img OF Derek Fisher (82)
75 img 2B Willie Calhoun (84)
76 img C Chance Sisco (85)
77 img OF Estevan Florial img(NR)
78 img RHP Fernando Romero (74)
79 img OF Corey Ray img(53)
80 img LHP Adrian Morejon img(NR)
81 img 1B/OF Jake Bauers (81)
82 img OF Taylor Trammell (94)
83 img RHP Matt Manning img(NR)
84 img 1B Rhys Hoskins (98)
85 img LHP Justus Sheffield (83)
86 img OF Austin Hays img(NR)
87 img SS J.P. Crawford img(64)
88 img RHP Tyler Mahle (92)
89 img 3B Miguel Andujar img(NR)
90 img 2B/OF Keston Hiura (95)
91 img OF Austin Beck img(65)
92 img RHP Jose De Leon img(60)
93 img OF Tyler O'Neill (96)
94 img RHP Luis Ortiz (97)
95 img LHP Luiz Gohara img(NR)
96 img 3B Michael Chavis (99)
97 img OF Yusniel Diaz img(NR)
98 img RHP Michel Baez img(NR)
99 img IF Isan Diaz (93)
100 img LHP Braxton Garrett (100)

Graduated since previous update: 15. Francis Martes, HOU, 24. Ian Happ, CHC, 32. Bradley Zimmer, CLE, 40. Luke Weaver, STL, 79. Sean Newcomb, LAA, 87. Jacob Faria, TB, 88. Josh Hader, MIL, 90. Raimel Tapia, COL

       

Stock Rising

6. OF Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuna is the youngest prospect in the Triple-A International League, but that hasn't stopped him from hitting .338/.403/.619 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBI in 34 games since being promoted.

All told, he's hitting .320/.374/.539 with 28 doubles, 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 37 stolen bases over three minor league levels this season. He won't celebrate his 20th birthday until December.

It's been a meteoric rise for a prospect who had just 40 games above rookie ball under his belt when the season began.

With Yoan Moncada, Amed Rosario and Rafael Devers all likely to exhaust their rookie eligibility before the season is over, Acuna will be squarely in the conversation for the title of baseball's No. 1 prospect heading into next year.

         

34. RHP Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros

With a projectable 6'7" frame and a mid-90s fastball, it's not hard to see what the Houston Astros liked about Forrest Whitley when they took him with the No. 17 pick in the 2016 draft.

The 19-year-old was aggressively assigned to Single-A to begin his first full pro season, and he's responded better than anyone could have hoped, going 5-4 with a 2.80 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 128 strikeouts in 83.2 innings.

That performance included a midseason promotion to High-A and a recent bump up to Double-A, where he struck out 11 over six scoreless innings in his debut on Thursday.

"I had a very relaxed mentality throughout the whole game," Whitley told Gerard Gilberto of MiLB.com. "I felt like I didn't really have my best stuff, but I was making pitches when I needed to make pitches, hitting the right spots and I got away with a couple mistakes. So things just kind of went my way tonight."

A modest assessment, to say the least, from a teenager on the fast track.

           

59. SS Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has done a tremendous job building up the farm system since the club committed to rebuilding.

However, the decision to trade Fernando Tatis Jr. to the San Diego Padres last season in exchange for an aging James Shields is one that could haunt him for a long time.

Tatis, who won't turn 19 until January, has spent the entire season with Single-A Fort Wayne, with whom he's been one of the most productive hitters in the Midwest League.

He ranks among the league leaders in OPS (.900, eighth), hits (118, fourth), home runs (21, first), RBI (67, second), runs scored (75, fourth), walks (70, first) and total bases (220, second).

With a rocket arm and good instincts, he should be able to stick at shortstop, though it looks like he could play at third base too if he were to shift over.

       

77. OF Estevan Florial, New York Yankees

Estevan Florial might be the biggest breakout prospect of 2017.

The Haiti native opened the season as the No. 14 prospect in the New York Yankees system with Baseball America, but he's far exceeded expectations to emerge as one of the game's most exciting teenage prospects.

The 19-year-old only cost the Yankees a $200,000 bonus as part of the 2015 international crop after some birth-certificate controversy took a significant bite out of his earning power.

He's hitting .298/.374/.476 with 40 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases while splitting the year between Single-A and High-A in his full-season debut. He has the arm to play right field and the range to stick in center, so defense should be a chip in his favor as well.

       

86. OF Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles opened the 2016 draft by selecting Cody Sedlock (6.05 ERA in High-A) in the first round and Matthias Dietz (4.71 ERA in Single-A) in the second—and they are both off to inauspicious starts to their pro careers.

Luckily, it appears they hit big on third-round pick Austin Hays.

A standout at Jacksonville University who came with obvious questions about how he'd fare against higher-level competition, Hays hit .336 with a .900 OPS in 153 plate appearances at the Low-A level after signing last year.

He's backed that up with a .331/.365/.607 line that includes 28 doubles, 29 home runs and 85 RBI between High-A and Double-A, catapulting himself into the top-prospect conversation in the process.

        

Stock Falling

NR. C Jorge Alfaro, Philadephia Phillies (Previous: 63)

Jorge Alfaro looked poised to seize the starting catching job for the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies this season after posting a .783 OPS with 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 67 RBI while throwing out 44 percent of base stealers for Double-A Reading.

But he scuffled to a .241/.291/.358 line with a 113-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Triple-A, and he's been steadily sliding down our rankings as a result.

On a positive note, the 24-year-old has gone 6-for-16 with a home run since being called up to the majors. He also still has intriguing raw power and a cannon for an arm. 

        

NR. RHP David Paulino, Houston Astros (Previous: 76)

There's plenty to like about a 6'7" pitcher with power stuff and a strong minor league track record.

However, in the case of David Paulino, his stock has fallen considerably this season after he was slapped with an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test.

The 23-year-old didn't show particularly well over six starts at the MLB level prior to that suspension, either, posting a 6.52 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. That's enough for him to fall out of the top 100, at least for the time being.

          

79. OF Corey Ray, Milwaukee Brewers

It doesn't look like the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 draft is going to move as quickly as some people thought.

Corey Ray was one of the top bats in his class after a standout junior season at Louisville, but he's hit a pedestrian .241/.312/.373 with 195 strikeouts in 157 games as a pro.

He suffered a torn meniscus during instructional league last season, and his recovery resulted in a late start to the 2017 season. With a full offseason of rest and a normal spring of preparation, perhaps he'll come back strong next season and reclaim his top-prospect status.

         

54. RHP Anderson Espinoza, San Diego Padres

Anderson Espinoza hit the disabled list with forearm tightness in April, and that led to Tommy John surgery in late July before he threw a pitch in 2017.

The good news is the 19-year-old was so far ahead of the developmental curve prior to the injury that a lost season doesn't derail his development like it might for an older prospect.

Espinoza has 111.2 innings at the Single-A level under his belt, and he won't turn 20 until March.

That doesn't stop him from sliding down the rankings, though.

         

45. LHP Jay Groome, Boston Red Sox

Jay Groome is still the top pitching prospect in the Boston Red Sox system and has the potential to be "the best pitcher signed and developed by the Red Sox since Roger Clemens," as MLB.com put it.

However, the jump to full-season ball has not gone smoothly.

A brutal July saw him post a 6.75 ERA and 1.60 WHIP while allowing 21 hits, 11 walks and 15 earned runs in 20 innings of work.

He's looked much better since the calendar turned to August, but his up-and-down performance this year is enough for other pitching prospects who are further along in their respective developments to pass him by in these rankings.

        

5 To Watch

RHP Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks

Despite the sketchy track record of pitchers out of Rice University and a shoulder injury that cost him his sophomore season, Jon Duplantier was still taken in the third round of the 2016 draft.

That's already looking like one of that year's biggest steals.

After pitching just one inning in his pro debut, the 23-year-old has gone 10-3 with a 1.47 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 116 innings this season between Single-A and High-A.

Other teams have taken notice too, as Duplantier was generating interest leading up to the trade deadline, per David Laurila of FanGraphs. If the D-backs are smart, he won't be changing teams anytime soon. 

        

RHP Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers

An impressive junior season at St. Mary's gave Corbin Burnes as much helium as any college pitcher in the 2016 draft class, and the Milwaukee Brewers scooped him up with their fourth-round selection.

After a strong showing in his pro debut, he appears to be on the fast track.

The 22-year-old dominated High-A hitters to the tune of a 1.05 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 10 starts to open the 2017 season, and he hasn't missed a beat since making the midseason jump to Double-A.

A polished four-pitch mix and durable 6'3", 205-pound frame give him the look of a future big league starter, even if he doesn't have overpowering stuff.

          

1B Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers

Mike Napoli's impending free agency could open up a spot in the Texas Rangers lineup for Ronald Guzman next season.

While he might never be more than a 20-25 homer guy in the majors, he should be able to make up for that with his advanced approach and plus-hit tool.

The 22-year-old is batting .316/.384/.469 with 21 doubles and 12 home runs for Triple-A Round Rock this season, and his strikeout rate (15.8 percent) and walk rate (8.8 percent) both demonstrate hitter who's ready for the next level.

Young players with a first-base-only profile are often overlooked when it comes to top-prospect lists, but Guzman is worthy of attention.

        

LHP Tanner Scott, Baltimore Orioles

MLB.com described Tanner Scott perfectly: "Scott's elite fastball gives him closer potential, as he'll routinely hit 100 mph (or higher) while sitting comfortably at 95-99. Beyond that, however, Scott remains very raw."

The good: He's pitched to a 1.83 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 59 innings of work for Double-A Bowie this season.

The bad: Command remains a significant issue, as he's pitching around 6.1 BB/9, leaving him with a 1.27 WHIP despite a sterling .174 opponents' batting average.

The 23-year-old posted an 8.0 BB/9 rate last season, so his command is moving in the right direction. Another step forward there and a bit more consistency from his slider, and he could be the game's next elite southpaw reliever.

        

SS Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies

Garrett Hampson has quietly raked since going in the third round of the 2016 draft.

The 22-year-old sports a .318/.378/.450 line with 39 extra-base hits for High-A Lancaster and ranks among the California League leaders in OPS (.828, ninth), runs scored (100, first), total bases (215, third) and stolen bases (46, second).

He's split his time between second base and shortstop this season, and his long-term future might be at the keystone, with Trevor Story and fellow prospect Brendan Rodgers also in the mix at shortstop going forward.

Regardless of where he lines up defensively, he has the offensive tools to make an impact once he arrives in Colorado.

           

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs and accurate through Thursday's games.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Max Scherzer B/R Q&A: Ace Talks Juiced Ball, Robot Umps and Bryce Harper Scare

Max Scherzer's day job is being one of Major League Baseball's elite pitchers.

Already with two Cy Youngs to his name, the Washington Nationals ace has found yet another gear in 2017. He's working on a career-best 2.25 ERA and leads the National League with 160.1 innings and 220 strikeouts. He may have a third Cy Young and, if all goes well, his first World Series ring in his future.

In his off hours, his hobbies include being an interesting guy to talk to.

Scherzer took time to talk with Bleacher Report about a heart-stopping Bryce Harper injury scare, why it's no time for pitchers to whine about a juiced ball, how robot umps could backfire on MLB, and much more.

           

Bleacher Report: I want to start with the scare you guys got last Saturday when Bryce Harper went down in a heap and looked like he was seriously injured. Can you take me inside the dugout for that moment?

Max Scherzer: Actually, I had left the game early because I was pitching the next day’s game. So I had actually just gotten home when that play had happened.

As soon as I saw on the television, I think all of our hearts…we had a big lump in our throat. It was not a fun feeling sitting there and worrying about one of the best players on your team going down with an injury this late into the season when the playoffs are right around the corner.

I think we dodged a bullet. We see him walking around in the clubhouse. So I think he’s going to be OK, and he’ll be back on the field soon.

             

B/R: Harper's agent, Scott Boras, raised the possibility of doing something about bases during inclement weather. Is that necessary?

Scherzer: I know what he’s talking about. Not even necessarily when it’s raining, [it's] just how hard they are. I think we see a lot of injuries around the game that have to do with the base itself.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know exactly what the best format would be if there is a solution to the actual base-created injuries or if there’s unintended consequences if you would try to make a solution. But I do think, given the number of injuries that happen around the bases, it’s something that I think MLB would be wise to take a look at.

          

B/R: The other big slugger people are watching right now is Giancarlo Stanton. You’re one of many guys he’s gotten recently. How do you approach pitching to a guy who's that hot?

Scherzer: He’s on his A-game. You know if you make a mistake, it’s gonna get paid for. But you always feel like that when you’re facing a guy of his caliber. Even if they’re in a slump, if you make a mistake they’re gonna get you.

So, hey, look. He’s hot. [Laughs]. He can hit anything out of the ballpark. You just have to go out there and make quality pitches against him.

            

B/R: You're always great, but you also have a knack for making specific improvements, such as lowering your home run rate this year. Is that intentional? What is your approach for any given season?

Scherzer: Just to get better. Get better on the mound and what I’m able to do with the baseball. You can’t get caught up in results. Home runs are a bad result. I can’t focus on bad results. I can only focus on how to make better pitches. How to improve my off-speed pitches. How to better locate not only my fastball but my off-speed pitches as well. That’s something that I feel like I made strides with again this year in terms of what I’m able to do and how I’m able to execute pitches consistently.

Matt Wieters has been a great catcher for me this year. Getting to work with him, he’s helped bring in some new ideas to me as well. So I have a good guy behind the plate helping me out and a good focus on the mound and, more importantly, in between starts to dial in everything to make sure I can repeat my mechanics so that I can repeat my off-speed pitches.

              

B/R: You've been vocal about your interest in sabermetrics. Can you give me an idea of how metrics have benefited you over the years?

Scherzer: They kinda show you what you have control and don’t have control over. You can look at it two different ways. There’s this whole sabermetric way of looking at baseball and there’s obviously the old-school [way] of what your eyes see in the game.

Both sides of that equation have their moments where they’re both right. So I try to blend both of them. I try to bring numbers into the game where I think it fits. But I also understand there’s a lot of things that sabermetrics miss, where you really have to have a mind and some instincts and a baseball IQ to be able to go out there and compete at the highest level.

 

B/R: How about Statcast? How much has it seeped into the clubhouse atmosphere, and how much, if at all, has it changed your game?

Scherzer: Some players gravitate towards it more than others. I still think everybody’s trying to learn what type of information is coming out of there and how is it applicable and what’s reliable and what’s not. I think there are some things that are fascinating. I think as we get more and more data about everything, it'll show where the true talent is in playing the game of baseball.

The future of it? Man, I don’t know. We’ll see where it goes.

              

B/R: Is there something that you think could be measured that Statcast hasn’t touched yet? 

Scherzer: I've always said the one thing that I don’t think you’ll ever be able to measure, but [which] I think doesn’t get any credit whatsoever is deception in a pitcher’s delivery. I think one of the most crucial things to delivering a baseball is to have some deception so that the hitter can’t pick up the baseball. There are certain motions that allow you to see the baseball and other motions that don’t.

I don’t know how in the heck you would ever quantify that. But that’s just something in the innate game of baseball, and pitching and hitting.

              

B/R: Statcast is one popular explanation for the rise in home runs, with the other being the "juiced ball" theory. Lately, the latter conversation has shifted to whether a ball change is causing blisters. What do you think?

Scherzer: I haven’t noticed anything in terms of the blisters aspects of having more blisters or more pronounced blisters on my fingertips than ever before. I’m always dealing with some type of callus or blister or something throughout the whole year anyway. So that doesn’t really affect me.

I think with Statcast there’s a revolution in hitting and what [hitters'] philosophy is and what pitches they’re trying to hit and where they’re trying to do damage within the strike zone. I think that’s definitely changed over the past, say, five years.

And with the juiced ball thing…Look, if it is or isn’t, as a pitcher you can’t really complain about it because everybody’s on the same playing field. I’m sure there are arguments for and arguments against it. But it’s just something that I’m not going to cry about. If it’s going on, the hitters on my team are able to take advantage of it as well. So if you’re gonna complain about the juiced ball as a pitcher, [you have to know] it can help you win a ballgame as well.

                 

B/R: Speaking of big changes, Ben Zobrist is the latest to advocate for an automated strike zone. Rob Manfred isn't so sure. What do you think about so-called "Robot Umps?"

Scherzer: I think there’d be some unintended consequences of having an automated strike zone. I think we all like in concept and theory that every ball that's within the strike zone called a strike and not a ball. There’d be some different pitches that would be called strikes, though. I think you’d see the higher, elevated strike called more than what the guys behind the plate call. And the curveball at the knees, I think they’ve also shown that pitch would get called a lot more frequently than it’s ever been called.

Look, the umpires behind the plate? They're human. They’re doing the best they can to try to call balls and strikes. I understand that there’s a lot of calls that kinda are 50-50. They can go either way. And as a starting pitcher, you try to manage, "Alright, if you didn’t get that call, maybe you’ll get it again here a few innings later."

I think with hitters, because they’re only getting five or seven calls a game, they’re living and dying by all those calls, and it just leaves them to be more frustrated. And I understand that. That’s part of the game. When you’re playing this game and a call doesn’t go your way in a big spot, everybody’s frustrated. I get the sentiment. I understand why there is a push for an automated strike zone. However, I do think there would be some unintended consequences of having it that I think need to be addressed first before we would go down that road.

 

B/R: It’s becoming harder and harder to downplay what the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing. Watching them from afar, even as an adversary, what do you make of them?

Scherzer: I mean, they’re a great baseball team. Obviously, you don’t win that many games if you don’t have talent across your roster playing well in all three phases of the game. Offensively. Starting pitching. Relief pitching. That’s why they’ve gone out and had the best record so far.

But I think they’ll also be the first to tell you that none of those wins matter because everybody’s trying to do the same thing and win a World Series title. As good a team as they are—and obviously as a player in the same league as them, I have respect for them—they also know that there’s only really 11 wins that matter.

            

B/R: Given what they’re doing, give me your sales pitch for why everyone should believe the Nationals are the team to beat for the World Series this year?

Scherzer: I don’t have to. I don’t have to say anything. Our play does it. How we go out there and compete, I think we can compete with anybody in the National League, and I think the National League realizes that. That’s why this is a great game. You don’t have to say anything. You can just go out there on the field and your play talks for itself.

                

B/R: You’re 33 years old. You’ve pitched a lot of innings. You throw really hard. You have unorthodox mechanics. Conventional wisdom says you should have broken down like so many other pitchers. What's your secret to longevity?

Scherzer: I just work hard year-round. Offseason and in-season. Lifting weights. Making sure I go out and run and take care of my cardio. It’s just having a plan for what you want to do each month of the offseason, as well as the other four days of the five-day cycle for us. Make sure you plan on what you want to accomplish in the weight room. That’s been kinda my secret. You use everything off the field to help make you better on the field.

               

B/R: You’re going with “Blue Eye” for your Players Weekend nickname. It’s an interesting choice given that you have two different colored eyes. Why that one?

Scherzer: Oh, the blue eye. That’s the sexy eye. That’s the good-looking eye. I have fun with that in the clubhouse with all the guys. Having two different colored eyes, obviously, there’s a lot more jokes that go the other way.

For the fans, the name on the back of your jersey is something to have fun with and show what kind of creativity you have. So I figured that would be a fun experience to share that with the fans.

                

B/R: I’m a little surprised you didn’t go with “Mad Max.” Your demeanor on the mound almost gets as much attention as your pitching itself. Where does that come from?

Scherzer: I don’t know. I’m just out there competing, trying to give it my all and trying to make sure I execute every pitch so that I can go out there and pitch as deep as I can into ballgames. Because when a starting pitcher does that, it’s twofold. You help your team win and you help save innings from the bullpen as well. I take a great deal of pride in pitching deep into ballgames.

 

Scherzer spoke to B/R on behalf of his involvement with RETHINK Water. In Scherzer's own words, they want to "revolutionize the water bottle" while also offering "high-quality water." Their website can be found here.

 

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Luis Severino Exploded from $225K Signing into MLB Ace with 101 MPH Heat

Luis Severino was two outs into the seventh inning and 106 pitches into his day's work when Jose Peraza stepped to the plate on a recent Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Two unearned runs had already scored in the inning, but New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi let his 23-year-old ace continue.

A year after plenty of people were calling for Severino to be left full-time in the bullpen, Girardi was willing to let him be his own setup man. And why not?

First pitch to Peraza: A 99.8 mph fastball, taken for strike one.

Second pitch: A 99.9 mph fastball, fouled off for strike two.

Then three straight attempts to make Peraza chase—a pair of sliders (90.5 and 90 mph) and a changeup (90.3 mph).

Finally, another fastball, at an even 100 mph, and all Peraza could do was bounce it high in the air and back to Severino, who barehanded it and threw to first.

So yeah, Severino is a starter, and not just because he has a 3.18 ERA pitching exclusively in that role in 2017. Severino is a starter, with a chance to be great, because the great starters are the ones who can do what he did that day against Peraza and the Cincinnati Reds. Even in this era where teams are hesitant to let starting pitchers go through a batting order a third time, the great ones maintain their stuff to the point where they can do exactly that.

The great ones don't want to come out of games. Even after 112 pitches, even after that sequence to finish the seventh inning, Severino didn't want out of that one.

"I was feeling good," he told B/R. "I could have gone one more."

In a Yankees season where so much of the early focus was on Aaron Judge and so much of the recent focus has been on newly acquired Sonny Gray, the biggest development of all may well be the emergence of Severino as the homegrown ace, for a franchise that hasn't developed a starting pitcher with staying power since Andy Pettitte arrived in the major leagues in 1995.

His ERA ranks fourth in the American League. His 10.46 strikeouts per nine innings rank fourth. According to MLB.com's Statcast, his 97.3 mph average fastball velocity is highest among full-time major league starters, and a 101.2 mph fastball he threw July 20 in Seattle is the fastest single pitch thrown by a major league starter this season.

Severino, 46 starts into his career, is already in position to shoot past the other touted starters who have come through the Yankees system since Pettitte. Phil Hughes won 18 games one year and made an All-Star team, but he was hardly a classic ace. And Chien-Ming Wang had two 19-win seasons, but he was never an All-Star.

Severino was an All-Star this year, in his first full season as a big league starter, six years after the Yankees signed him out of his native Dominican Republic for just $225,000.

It wasn't all that much money in a year when Baseball America said the Texas Rangers gave 16-year-old Nomar Mazara $4.95 million, and three pitchers who signed on the international market got bonuses of $1 million or more.

"It was the age," Severino said. "I was almost 18."

The best prospects from the Dominican Republic often sign when they're 16. Severino, two months shy of his 18th birthday, was considered a little too old to be worth the big bucks.

"I didn't throw hard when I was 16, maybe 84-86," he said. "I started throwing hard when I was 17. I had a nasty slider, too, better than I have now. The Yankees said that's why they wanted me."

They almost didn't get him. Severino said he had already signed some initial paperwork with the Colorado Rockies when a Yankees scout came to him with an identical offer and got him to switch.

"I was a Yankee fan all my life," he explained. "When I was growing up, I was a hitter, and I loved A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez] and [Robinson] Cano."

Too bad for the Rockies he didn't love Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

It didn't take the Yankees long to realize they had something special.

Severino didn't throw as hard then as he does now, but he had a 1.68 ERA in 14 starts in the Dominican Summer League.

"He had a very quick arm," Mark Newman, then the team's vice president of baseball operations, said in a 2015 interview with Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. "He was athletic. He had a feel for the strike zone."

He had more than that. Teammates quickly realized Severino had the right makeup to succeed. He worked hard, and he picked up English quicker than many other kids from the Dominican Republic.

"He's got the mentality of a winner," first baseman Greg Bird said in a Bleacher Report story I wrote about Severino a few weeks after his big league debut in 2015. "You've got to have poise. He's special, talent-wise and his head. He's got a good head."

He needed it last year, when he came into the season with a spot in the Yankees rotation that he couldn't hold onto. Perhaps it was that he had bulked up, perhaps the pressure of expectations got to him, or perhaps it was just normal growing pains for a young pitcher.

Whatever it was, Severino found himself back in Triple-A for June and part of July, and again for a while in August. When he returned to the big leagues, it was mostly as a reliever, and he was impressive in that role, with a 0.39 ERA in 11 appearances.

All along, though, Severino maintained he was a starting pitcher.

"I think I was kind of wasting my time in the bullpen," he says now. "I knew I could give more than that. I knew I could give six or seven innings."

He also knew he would need to show it this season. Severino dropped some of the weight he had added, worked hard on getting confidence in his changeup and sought help from Pedro Martinez, who may not have been eager to help the Yankees but was more than willing to aid a fellow Dominican pitcher.

"He helped me a lot, mostly on my mechanics," Severino says, demonstrating a change-up Martinez suggested in which he keeps his hands closer to his body during his delivery. "It really helped my fastball command."

Severino isn't using the change-up significantly more often than he did when he was starting last season, but he is using it more effectively. According to BrooksBaseball.net, opponents are hitting just .159 when they put Severino's changeup in play, compared to .242 in 2016.

Meanwhile, his fastball keeps getting better. He's throwing harder than ever this season, and regularly holding his velocity deep into games. Severino said he's not sure why, but he feels stronger four or five innings into a start than he does in the first inning.

It shows. There have only been four times this season a starting pitcher has thrown a 100 mph fastball after the sixth inning, according to Statcast. One was by Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals. The other three? Severino.

Those aren't isolated incidents, either. Statcast shows Severino has thrown 47 pitches at 98 mph or above from the seventh inning on. No other big league starter has thrown more than 17 (also Martinez). All the other starters combined, besides Severino and Martinez, have thrown just 42.

Severino's teammate CC Sabathia said Justin Verlander and the young Bartolo Colon were the only other pitchers he's seen who maintained 100 mph stuff as deep into a game as Severino.

"I think the guys who really put up big numbers are able to [maintain their stuff]," Girardi said.

Because Severino can do it, Girardi has allowed him to start the seventh inning 16 times in 24 starts, quite a statement on a team with a deep bullpen. Far from crumbling after he sees hitters twice in the same game, Severino's numbers are actually better the third time through, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Opponents have a .557 OPS against Severino the third time they see him, as opposed to .674 and .586 the first two times.

He's a starting pitcher for sure, a very good starting pitcher. And the numbers suggest he could become a great one.

        

Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Luis Severino Exploded from $225K Signing into MLB Ace with 101 MPH Heat

Luis Severino was two outs into the seventh inning and 106 pitches into his day's work when Jose Peraza stepped to the plate on a recent Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Two unearned runs had already scored in the inning, but New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi let his 23-year-old ace continue.

A year after plenty of people were calling for Severino to be left full-time in the bullpen, Girardi was willing to let him be his own setup man. And why not?

First pitch to Peraza: A 99.8 mph fastball, taken for strike one.

Second pitch: A 99.9 mph fastball, fouled off for strike two.

Then three straight attempts to make Peraza chase—a pair of sliders (90.5 and 90 mph) and a changeup (90.3 mph).

Finally, another fastball, at an even 100 mph, and all Peraza could do was bounce it high in the air and back to Severino, who barehanded it and threw to first.

So yeah, Severino is a starter, and not just because he has a 3.18 ERA pitching exclusively in that role in 2017. Severino is a starter, with a chance to be great, because the great starters are the ones who can do what he did that day against Peraza and the Cincinnati Reds. Even in this era where teams are hesitant to let starting pitchers go through a batting order a third time, the great ones maintain their stuff to the point where they can do exactly that.

The great ones don't want to come out of games. Even after 112 pitches, even after that sequence to finish the seventh inning, Severino didn't want out of that one.

"I was feeling good," he told B/R. "I could have gone one more."

In a Yankees season where so much of the early focus was on Aaron Judge and so much of the recent focus has been on newly acquired Sonny Gray, the biggest development of all may well be the emergence of Severino as the homegrown ace, for a franchise that hasn't developed a starting pitcher with staying power since Andy Pettitte arrived in the major leagues in 1995.

His ERA ranks fourth in the American League. His 10.46 strikeouts per nine innings rank fourth. According to MLB.com's Statcast, his 97.3 mph average fastball velocity is highest among full-time major league starters, and a 101.2 mph fastball he threw July 20 in Seattle is the fastest single pitch thrown by a major league starter this season.

Severino, 46 starts into his career, is already in position to shoot past the other touted starters who have come through the Yankees system since Pettitte. Phil Hughes won 18 games one year and made an All-Star team, but he was hardly a classic ace. And Chien-Ming Wang had two 19-win seasons, but he was never an All-Star.

Severino was an All-Star this year, in his first full season as a big league starter, six years after the Yankees signed him out of his native Dominican Republic for just $225,000.

It wasn't all that much money in a year when Baseball America said the Texas Rangers gave 16-year-old Nomar Mazara $4.95 million, and three pitchers who signed on the international market got bonuses of $1 million or more.

"It was the age," Severino said. "I was almost 18."

The best prospects from the Dominican Republic often sign when they're 16. Severino, two months shy of his 18th birthday, was considered a little too old to be worth the big bucks.

"I didn't throw hard when I was 16, maybe 84-86," he said. "I started throwing hard when I was 17. I had a nasty slider, too, better than I have now. The Yankees said that's why they wanted me."

They almost didn't get him. Severino said he had already signed some initial paperwork with the Colorado Rockies when a Yankees scout came to him with an identical offer and got him to switch.

"I was a Yankee fan all my life," he explained. "When I was growing up, I was a hitter, and I loved A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez] and [Robinson] Cano."

Too bad for the Rockies he didn't love Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

It didn't take the Yankees long to realize they had something special.

Severino didn't throw as hard then as he does now, but he had a 1.68 ERA in 14 starts in the Dominican Summer League.

"He had a very quick arm," Mark Newman, then the team's vice president of baseball operations, said in a 2015 interview with Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. "He was athletic. He had a feel for the strike zone."

He had more than that. Teammates quickly realized Severino had the right makeup to succeed. He worked hard, and he picked up English quicker than many other kids from the Dominican Republic.

"He's got the mentality of a winner," first baseman Greg Bird said in a Bleacher Report story I wrote about Severino a few weeks after his big league debut in 2015. "You've got to have poise. He's special, talent-wise and his head. He's got a good head."

He needed it last year, when he came into the season with a spot in the Yankees rotation that he couldn't hold onto. Perhaps it was that he had bulked up, perhaps the pressure of expectations got to him, or perhaps it was just normal growing pains for a young pitcher.

Whatever it was, Severino found himself back in Triple-A for June and part of July, and again for a while in August. When he returned to the big leagues, it was mostly as a reliever, and he was impressive in that role, with a 0.39 ERA in 11 appearances.

All along, though, Severino maintained he was a starting pitcher.

"I think I was kind of wasting my time in the bullpen," he says now. "I knew I could give more than that. I knew I could give six or seven innings."

He also knew he would need to show it this season. Severino dropped some of the weight he had added, worked hard on getting confidence in his changeup and sought help from Pedro Martinez, who may not have been eager to help the Yankees but was more than willing to aid a fellow Dominican pitcher.

"He helped me a lot, mostly on my mechanics," Severino says, demonstrating a change-up Martinez suggested in which he keeps his hands closer to his body during his delivery. "It really helped my fastball command."

Severino isn't using the change-up significantly more often than he did when he was starting last season, but he is using it more effectively. According to BrooksBaseball.net, opponents are hitting just .159 when they put Severino's changeup in play, compared to .242 in 2016.

Meanwhile, his fastball keeps getting better. He's throwing harder than ever this season, and regularly holding his velocity deep into games. Severino said he's not sure why, but he feels stronger four or five innings into a start than he does in the first inning.

It shows. There have only been four times this season a starting pitcher has thrown a 100 mph fastball after the sixth inning, according to Statcast. One was by Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals. The other three? Severino.

Those aren't isolated incidents, either. Statcast shows Severino has thrown 47 pitches at 98 mph or above from the seventh inning on. No other big league starter has thrown more than 17 (also Martinez). All the other starters combined, besides Severino and Martinez, have thrown just 42.

Severino's teammate CC Sabathia said Justin Verlander and the young Bartolo Colon were the only other pitchers he's seen who maintained 100 mph stuff as deep into a game as Severino.

"I think the guys who really put up big numbers are able to [maintain their stuff]," Girardi said.

Because Severino can do it, Girardi has allowed him to start the seventh inning 16 times in 24 starts, quite a statement on a team with a deep bullpen. Far from crumbling after he sees hitters twice in the same game, Severino's numbers are actually better the third time through, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Opponents have a .557 OPS against Severino the third time they see him, as opposed to .674 and .586 the first two times.

He's a starting pitcher for sure, a very good starting pitcher. And the numbers suggest he could become a great one.

        

Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Any Time Believer Bold Watch Collection


Dare to be different with the Any Time Believer Bold Watch Collection. This series of watches encourages you to be you and go against the grain. Sporting a totally unique design, the Believer Watch features stunning stainless steel while boasting a “more is more” concept. The dial is complete with enlarged numbers for 12, 3, 6, and 9. In addition, it has luminous fill on the indices and hands so you can view the time in any light.

[ Learn More About Believer Bold Watch Collection ]

Marlins President Chris Samson Reportedly Will Be Removed After Team Is Sold

The new ownership group of the Miami Marlins will replace team president David Samson once assuming control of the team, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman confirmed Thursday.

The Dan Le Batard Show first reported MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred informed league owners of Samson's impending departure.

The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported Aug. 11 Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has reached an agreement on a $1.2 billion sale of the team to a group led by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and businessman Bruce Sherman.

According to Heyman, Jeter will work in a CEO or president-type role, overseeing the Marlins' day-to-day operations.

Samson joined the Marlins in 2002 when Loria purchased the team.

He was part of the front office when the franchise won its last World Series in 2003, but Marlins Park will be Samson's lasting legacy in Miami. The Marlins received almost $500 million in public money to build the stadium, and the cost to Miami-Dade County will be well over $1 billion when all is said and done.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez made it clear he hopes Loria and Samson won't remain with the Marlins when the team is sold.

"I'm not saying all of their folks—there may be some lower level folks who are pretty good in the organization," Gimenez said Monday, per the Miami Herald's Douglas Hanks. "But the top two people, the owner and Mr. Samson, I wish them God speed. But I don't see where that would add value to that team."

Jackson noted Sherman and Jeter still need approval from MLB owners before the sale will be finalized and that the matter may be closed by early October.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Nationals Principal Owner Mark Lerner Discusses Leg Cancer, Limb Amputation

Washington Nationals vice chairman and principal owner Mark Lerner told MASN's Mark Zuckerman Thursday night he hasn't been a visible presence at Nationals Park this season because he was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. 

"I know you recognize that only something really challenging would have kept me from my favorite seat at the ballpark these past months," Lerner said in a statement. "In early January, they discovered Spindle Cell Sarcoma in my left leg above the knee. Radiation was completed in March and I had surgery in April to successfully remove the cancer. The radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly."

Lerner added that because recovery didn't go as planned, "we decided that amputation of that leg was my best choice to maintain the active and busy lifestyle that I have always enjoyed." 

The 63-year-old emphasized he is now "healing well" and "cancer-free." 

According to the team's official website, Lerner serves as one of seven principal owners under his father Theodore Lerner, who is listed as the managing principal owner. 

But according to Zuckerman, Mark "has been the public face of the Lerner family" since the franchise moved from Montreal to the nation's capital. 

"I really appreciate everyone respecting our family's privacy as we’ve gone through this," Lerner said. "I'm not sure of the timeline yet, but you know I'll be at Nationals Park as soon as I possibly can."

The Nationals entered Thursday night's game against the San Diego Padres with a robust 13.5-game lead over the Miami Marlins for first place in the National League East. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Jon Lester Reportedly May Be Out for Season with Lat Injury

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester could miss the remainder of the 2017 season after suffering a left lat muscle injury, the Chicago Sun-TimesGordon Wittenmyer reported Thursday.

Lester left Thursday's 13-10 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning. He allowed nine runs (seven earned) in 1.2 innings.

Lester has struggled this year, going 8-7 with a 3.99 ERA in 25 starts prior to Thursday's game. According to Baseball Reference, his 3.69 FIP is also his highest since 2012.

Prior to the 2017 season, the left-hander showed the durability and consistency that likely gave the Cubs confidence to sign him to a six-year, $155 million deal. For the ninth straight year, he made 30-plus starts, and he logged 200-plus innings for the eighth time in nine years.

Losing Lester will be a big blow for the Cubs, especially if he's out for a prolonged period of time. Jake Arrieta is having his worst season since breaking out with the Cubs in 2014, while Kyle Hendricks has taken a step backward after his third-place finish in last year's Cy Young voting.

Chicago's National League Central lead slipped to only a game with Thursday's loss. Without Lester, the Cubs will have a fight on their hands to claim the division crown for the second year in a row.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com