Adopt-A-Prospect: Meet JT Chargois

Three years ago, we Peanuts adopted a prospect. A delightful prospect we thought could grow into an intimidating reliever...or at least his beard could. A guy we cared for, and supported through thick and (more frequently) thin, until finally, we waved good bye as he ran joyfully through a field upstate, where all the released prospects go when they're released.

We spent a year in mourning, but we're ready to re-open our hearts, to another prospect. And to that end, we've adopted another in the long line of promising potential relievers. Who may make it themselves, or may be cobbled together by Terry Ryan in some sort of Genetically Modified "SUPER RELIEVER". But enough context, let's meet our guy!

This is JT Chargois

JT Chargois (pronounced SHA-gwa) was born in Sulphur, Louisiana, where he was a Golden Tornado just like former major leaguers "Jocko" Thomas, Pat Rapp and former Twin Casey Daigle.

JT was recruited by and joined the Rice Owls when he left High School in 2009, though apparently he didn't need much convincing to join Rice since his dad praised both their athletics and their academics. Still, he left the Owls after his impressive Junior year when the Twins drafted him (as well as fellow Owl Tyler Duffey) in the second round of the 2015 draft. Many were excited about him as a nearly developed prospect, while my traditional 5 word analysis was: "Spikey" Curveball helps: in ROLLERBALL!!

(An explanatory note: Major League Baseball's capsule on Chargois during the 2012 Draft described his curveball as "Spikey". Not knowing exactly what that meant or looked like, I did what any responsible blogger would do and ignored the opportunity for research in order to make a lame joke about a 1970s James Caan Sci-Fi Sports Flick.)

After a strong debut at Elizabethton (where he finished 8 games, had a 4.4 K/BB ratio and a sub 1 WHIP), Chargois came to spring training 2013 ready to rise quickly. But elbow soreness sent him to extended spring training, then rehab, and finally in the fall of 2013 Tommy John surgery. Having missed the entire 2014 season, Chargois has done well in instructional league and this year's spring training and has started the year with the Ft. Myers Miracle (where he already has one save to his credit). While he's a year older than most High A players, he's also in a good position to rise quickly.

That all makes this a critical year for JT. If everything goes great, he'll move fast and may even be a potential September call-up (assuming Twins relievers implode...a crazy notion I know). If it goes well, it would be reasonable to see him hit AAA and force the Twins into a tricky decision (as Seth already outlined), either putting him on the 40 man roster or risk losing him through the Rule 5 draft. If it goes poorly, the risk of not putting him on the 40-man Roster will plummet, and JT will be facing an even more pressing season coming up. At least so far it looks very good (as this video with the mix of his fastball and curve shows)

So why should you care about JT Chargois? Besides his tremendous upside, he seems like another excellent candidate for our "SUPER RELIEVER" project. His Curveball may be the kind of devastating secondary pitch a reliever needs. And also, if I can make it happen he promises an excellent nickname "SPIKE" Chargois anyone?

We'll keep up the bi-monthly updates in the forum, and will continue to work out a monthly major update


On Words and Numbers

Anyone who seeks out more writing about the Minnesota Twins, clearly cares about the team. They have opinions aplenty about the best direction the franchise could take. They think about it, they weigh pros and cons, and they argue with passion when they feel like they are right.

In that regard, there's very little that separates blog readers from the Twins front office. But in the last few weeks a font of frustration has welled up, particularly as regards recent roster decisions. I am no kind of astute baseball analyst (I mean, a large number of my posts turn in to abstract satires of North Korea...), but I think I know why this is.

It all comes back to a key division between baseball fans: the fans of words, and the fans of numbers.

Fans of words like the story telling aspect of the game: the heartwarming narrative of a player coming into his own or coming back from injury; the mythical prowess of a 100 mile per hour pitcher or a Ruthian Home Run machine; the emotional love of the game.

Fans of numbers like the statistical and factual aspect of the game: the value a player brings to the field, their role in creating runs and wins, their failure to avoid defeats, the logical appreciation of the game and its players.

While I normally think about the separation between fans within the stands, the same split occurs when we try to evaluate players, and can be expanded to apply to when anyone evaluates someone else.

Think of it like this: if you work in a job where you get performance reviews (and I'm struggling to think of a job where you wouldn't), your boss might highlight your productivity by saying something like this:
"Wow Johnson, your coworkers and supervisor have been telling me all the great things you're doing this year. They rave about your contributions to the Snarflebargle Project and from what I've seen of you during meetings, I think you're ready for a step up."
Or they could highlight it by saying something like this:
"Wow Johnson, you've been incredibly productive this year. You've been averaging 50 hours of work a week, and the Snarflebargle Project has contributed to a 32% increase in our Doohicky sales alone! I think you're ready for a step up the ladder." 
But in reality, they probably have a mix of both the words that colleagues use to describe you and the statistics that they can measure. (As a school teacher I admittedly have no earthly clue what business meetings sound like, but I do know that I'd rather be judged by both comments from other teachers and student performance on standardized tests rather than just one. I suppose I'm hoping that other people have similarly rational evaluations.)

That's really what we argue about when we talk about who is ready and who isn't ready for the major leagues. We're used to the Twins scouting department (a more word savvy crew) running the show, basing judgements off of what they see in the minors and what the manager sees during Spring Training. Meanwhile, many of the fans (including those who seek out articles to read on-line) are hungry for a more number-friendly crew. But for as much as we talk about the Twins' statistical analyses (or lack thereof) as a catchall for the team's failings, we have to remember that there are benefits and drawbacks to both ways of evaluating people.

Word lovers may be able to accurately describe a person's character, demeanor, attitude and potential, but they risk falling so in love with a concept of performance that actual performance means nothing. (After all, if word lovers like me ran teams, somebody would be feeling a nine man team of Air Buds)

Number lovers may have a more accurate measurement of a player's performance on the field, comparisons with others their own age, and insights into areas for growth, but they risk turning an individual strength or weakness into a career defining fact. (After all, if statistical measurements of skills were 100% infallible, Moneyball favorite Jeremy Brown would have been an All-Star, and Ryan Leaf would have proven more mature, intelligent and effective than Dan Marino).

The best case scenario is as old as Aristotle: moderation in all things and extremity in none. Evaluations should mix words and numbers, and while there's certainly anecdotal evidence to suggest the Twins could use more numbers, that doesn't mean that words are totally irrelevant to evaluating a player.

There is far more that unites we Twins fans and the team management than divides us. Fans and management want a good team. We may have different ways of approaching that goal, but just as we accept both written and statistical performance reviews in our own jobs, just as we enjoy a beer with fans who talk about VORP as much as those who talk about "intangibles", we are better when we use both together.