Special screening of BBC series ‘This Country’ coming to Gloucestershire and tickets are completely free – Gloucestershire Live

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For fans of the Cotswold based hit TV show ‘This Country’ you could be in for a treat.

BBC Three is bringing the series back to its Cotswolds roots on January 23 – and tickets are completely free.

Fans will get to see the first two episodes of the new series followed by a Q&A with sibling stars Daisy and Charlie Cooper, producer Simon Mayhew-Archer and director Tom George.

Coming back to its Gloucestershire roots on January 23 in Cirencester the special screening will be hosted by BBC Points West Gloucestershire reporter Steve Knibbs.

Tickets to the event at Bingham Hall, Cirencester , will be allocated though a random ballot.

You can apply for tickets from 10am on January 3 to 10am on January 10.

Charlie Cooper otherwise known as ‘Lee “Kurtan” Mucklowe’ said: “We are so excited to have the screening of series three here in our hometown Cirencester , where the show was created.

“Some would call it a homecoming but the problem is we’ve never left. Big up the Cotswolds !”

This Country follows cousins Kerry and Lee ‘Kurtan’ Mucklowe through their quiet country lives.

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At the 2018 BAFTAs This Country won the award for Best Scripted Comedy and Daisy won Best Female Comedy Performance. More than 33 million people have requested the show on iPlayer.

The new series airs in early 2020.

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Stephanie Marshall, Head of the BBC in the West and South West, said: “We love bringing national series like This Country back to where they were made. It’s a way of thanking people in the area by giving them a sneak peek before the rest of the UK.

“Amazingly more than 4,000 people applied for tickets to the This Country screening last year.

“The BBC is committed to make more and more of its TV, radio and online content outside of London. In fact, more than 50 per cent of all our shows are now made outside of the capital.”

To apply go to the BBC Shows and Tours website here .

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Best Facebook Games List 2020 – Facebook Instant Games

Games are a great way for us to relax our mind and ease stress. However, playing the right game when you are bored can go a long way to relief your mind and give you fun. Therefore, I understand that apart from chatting with friends and loved ones some Facebook users do seek interesting games to play. Furthermore, this is why I have crafted the entire best Facebook games list 2020 to help Facebook account holders to enjoy instant games online.

Best Facebook Games List 2020 – Facebook Instant Games

Therefore, if you have not tried playing Facebook instant games before, this is a good chance to do so. However, some Facebook users do not even know where they can find these games. Also, some Facebook account users do not know they can play games on the Facebook platform. Basically, apart from chatting on Facebook, uploading your pictures and videos you can as well look for interesting games to play.

Play Facebook Games with FriendsFacebook Gameroom

Playing games on Facebook is very fun as you can play Facebook games with friends. This really sounds interesting as apart from chatting with friends and making Facebook live videos you can as well play games with your Facebook friends. However, these make it more fun filling as you have the chance to your game scoreline with your friends.

How to Access Facebook Instant Games

Therefore, if you want to access the Facebook instant games platform just go through these steps below.

  1. Another list of features will then dropdown. Here you will see the Games Feature after Friends list. Click on it, it will then take you straight to the game room

All Best Facebook Games List 2020

Here are all the best Facebook Instant games you can play to keep you stress-free and will make you enjoy your day.

  • Soccer Football League
  • Kiss Sweety
  • Fifa 2019 Football
  • Soccer Penalty 2019
  • Playing Soccer
  • Fifa 2020 Football
  • Boxing Star
  • Penalty Shootout
  • Fatal Sniper
  • Golden Boot
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2020
  • Cristiano Ronaldo Kick n Run.io
  • Foot Soccer
  • Bullet Fury
  • PUBG Mobile
  • Bb-tin-shooter
  • Toon Cup
  • Car Racing
  • First Kiss
  • Hill Climb Racing
  • Free Fire Battle Royal
  • Racing Moto Fast Speed
  • Spiderman ultimate
  • GTA City Theft GD
  • Car Racing Top Free Ride
  • Extreme Moto Winter
  • Archer Master
  • Field of Battle
  • Beso-kissing Game
  • Spiderman Stickman Jump
  • Moto Extreme Team
  • Mad Shark
  • Batman vs Superman
  • Stickman Warrior
  • Elite Sniper for Pubg 3D
  • Car Driving Simulator
  • Puppet Soccer Challenge
  • My Dream Wedding
  • Call of Duty Battleground
  • Pubg Kill enemies 3D
  • Shooter Zombies
  • Barbie’s & Ellie’s Doctor Game
  • Surgery Simulator
  • Hot Lip Kiss
  • My New Born Pet Baby
  • Disney Barbie’s Beach Swimsuit
  • Disney Barbie’s Crazy weekend
  • Adriana Hairstyle
  • Anna Theme Room Design
  • Nail Salon
  • Baby in Kitchen
  • Barbie Fashionista Dress up
  • Frozen Christmas Hairstyle
  • Ice Cream
  • Granny SpongeBob Evil
  • Rope Cut
  • Happy Glass
  • Chess
  • Spin the Bottle
  • Candy Crush
  • Train Snake
  • Push Block
  • Castle Defense
  • Trivia Crack
  • Snow Racing.io
  • Billiards Club Las Vegas
  • Garden Tales
  • Five in a Row
  • Trivia Quiz
  • Subway Surfers

The post Best Facebook Games List 2020 – Facebook Instant Games appeared first on Bingdroid.

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Pirates Inbox: Chris Archer, Chad Kuhl | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The holiday break is over and the new year is upon us, which means it’s time to kick the Hot Stove talk to another level. While the Pirates finalize their roster with an eye on Opening Day, we’ll answer some of the questions you’ve sent to the Pirates Inbox.

The Pirates are short on great starting options, so the chance of this is small. But, say they trade or acquire a starter and Mitch Keller and Chad Kuhl look good. Any chance they could try Chris Archer as a late-inning reliever, possibly a closer if they trade Keone Kela? He seems to be his best as a two-pitch pitcher and he’s an emotional guy. It seems like he could be a great reliever.
–Jason D.

It’s an interesting question, and it may not take an additional starter to bump somebody out of the rotation on Opening Day. Take a look at their top options heading into the new year, and you can easily come up with six pitchers worth taking a long look at: Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Archer, Keller, Steven Brault and Kuhl.

I think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen, but I don’t think it’d be Archer. He’s 31 years old and hasn’t made a relief appearance since the 2013 American League Division Series. His value, when he’s right, is as a durable starter — and it would make sense for the Pirates to try to maximize that value while they can.

That’s true, by the way, whether he’s on the team or a potential trade candidate. If he’s with the Pirates, you’re hoping that a new pitching coach will help him get back to his 2013-17 form. If you’re Pirates management and you’re also viewing him as a trade asset down the line, you could probably get more out of him as the starter he used to be rather than as an experimental reliever.

I definitely agree with your point that Archer, as primarily a two-pitch guy who tends to play with more emotion than your average starter, might be an interesting back-end reliever at some point. That said, his biggest issues last year were walks and homers; being prone to either would immediately spell trouble for him out of the bullpen, and there’s no guarantee that moving to a relief role would fix those problems.

But I do think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen. I’d be really curious to see if Kuhl could work his way into a late-inning role. When he spoke near the end of the season, for what it’s worth, he said he was preparing to come back as a starter.

But I’ve heard from more than one player who thinks Kuhl has closer stuff — a high-90s fastball with a bunch of offspeed offerings that he could sharpen, refine and use more selectively when he doesn’t have to turn over a lineup three times. It’d be interesting to see, at least.

The risk there is pretty obvious: Kuhl is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and he’s been a starter his entire life. How would his arm respond to throwing multiple days in a row? How careful would the Pirates have to be with a potentially important arm in their bullpen? Do they really want to risk sending him to the mound 50 times or more when he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since June 2018?

On the other hand, moving Kuhl to the bullpen would naturally restrict his workload in terms of innings and pitches thrown. There would be no expectation that he’d have to throw more than 70 or so innings out of the bullpen, probably even fewer than that.

Outside of a few pitchers, the Pirates’ bullpen was a disaster last season. But it might be an interesting group with Kela, a healthy Edgar Santana and Nick Burdi, a bounce-back year from Kyle Crick, a more consistent Richard Rodriguez, a still-developing Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes, a long man like Chris Stratton and the potential addition of Kuhl.

Who was the player to be named later that the Pirates got from Philadelphia for Corey Dickerson?
–Bob K.

Turns out, there wasn’t one. The Trade Deadline deal was initially announced as Dickerson for $250,000 in international slot space and a player to be named later, but there was no player sent back to the Pirates.

The way the whole thing played out was strange. Every report out of Philadelphia at the time of the trade indicated there would be no player coming back, and everything I heard also signaled that the deal was just for additional international spending capacity. But for whatever reason, when the move went down, the announcement included a player to be named later … who was never named, even five months later.

After we talked at the Winter Meetings out in San Diego, my MLB.com colleague Todd Zolecki and I made one more push for information and only heard back that, “It was a cash deal.” It wouldn’t necessarily be unusual if that meant the Phillies sent the Pirates cash instead of a minor prospect; some trades allow for the final piece to be a PTBNL or cash. But that wasn’t mentioned in the initial announcement of the Dickerson deal, and there was no clarification as to whether that meant additional cash or just the international slot we already knew about.

It’s not like the Pirates gave away Dickerson for nothing — teams can turn $250,000 of international spending space into a good prospect or prospects — but I hope nobody was getting their hopes up about that PTBNL.

With a first-time manager, shouldn’t the Pirates have hired a more experienced bench coach to help with strategy? I love Donnie Kelly, but just wondering if it’s too much, too soon.
–Terry L., Pittsburgh

That’s usually how teams support a first-time manager, but I don’t know if it was necessary for Derek Shelton. For one, he’s a first-time manager, but he’s managed in the Minors, coached for more than a decade and spent two years as a very involved bench coach. It’s not like he’s jumping into the dugout with no relevant experience.

Second, Kelly spent the last year working closely with Astros manager AJ Hinch and bench coach Joe Espada. He was essentially training to be a bench coach, whether it was here, Houston or elsewhere. And in terms of in-game strategy, he spent most of his playing career thinking along with the manager. He’s prepared.

There is also experience elsewhere on the coaching staff, primarily in the form of third-base coach Joey Cora. He served as a Minor League manager as well as a big league bench coach and interim manager in the Majors before joining Pittsburgh’s staff. You’ll just about always find Cora on the top step of the dugout, closely following the game. He’ll help, too.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Breakout prospects for 2020 | MLB.com

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Every organization takes pride in its ability to identify and develop talent. We’re the same way at MLB Pipeline, especially when it comes to predicting future breakout prospects.

Looking at last year’s list of breakout candidates, we see many examples of players who realized their potential en route to becoming some of the sport’s premier prospects. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert shot up from No. 44 to No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list thanks to a 32-homer, 36-steal campaign across three levels, while Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson, another three-level climber in ‘19, ascended from No. 90 to No. 10.

With the start of the 2020 season around the corner, MLB Pipeline once again is picking one breakout candidate from each organization. And while some of the names on this year’s list might be more recognizable than others, they all have the potential to jump on the scene during the upcoming season and establish themselves as can’t-miss prospects.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (No. 6) — The Mets’ second-round pick from the 2018 Draft pitched better than his numbers suggest he did at Class A Columbia, and he made six impressive starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin after joining the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman Trade Deadline deal to finish his first full season with a 126/24 K/BB and .238 BAA in 106 2/3 innings. The 19-year-old righty is a high-ceiling pitching prospect, armed with a plus fastball-curveball combo, an advanced changeup and a mature overall feel for his craft that could help him move quickly through the Minors.

Orioles: DL Hall, LHP (No. 3, MLB No. 60) — Baltimore’s 2017 first-rounder boasts some of the best pure stuff in the Minors among left-handed pitching prospects, with a plus fastball-breaking ball pairing and a promising changeup. Hall’s overall control, however, leaves much to be desired after the 21-year-old southpaw issued 6.0 BB/9 over 80 2/3 innings last season at Class A Advanced Frederick. The good news is that Hall has never had any issues missing bats (11.1 K/9 across his first 185 1/3 pro frames) and continues to be tough to barrel (.201 BAA), so it’s easy to envision him taking a step forward in 2020 with improved strike-throwing ability.

Rays: Shane Baz, RHP (No. 7, MLB No. 94) — Acquired from the Pirates as the PTBNL in the lopsided Chris Archer deal, Baz spent all of 2019 at Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League, pitching to a 2.99 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 37 walks in 81 1/3 innings (17 starts). He was especially good down the stretch, too, posting a 2.22 ERA over his final six regular-season starts for the Hot Rods before turning in an eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League. With a fastball that can touch triple digits, a devastating slider and a raw but promising changeup, the 20-year-old right-hander could develop into a front-of-the-rotation force if he can improve his control and command.

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.

Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 5) — Schmidt had Tommy John surgery as a South Carolina junior a month before New York made him a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Though he has been brought back slowly, taking that summer off and totaling 114 innings in 2018-19, he already has reached Double-A and shows the makings of four plus pitches.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Aaron Bracho, 2B (No. 13) — Bracho’s advanced bat earned him a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela in 2017, but he didn’t make his pro debut until last season because he fractured his right arm in May 2018. A switch-hitter who possesses deceptive power and precocious command of the strike zone, he hit .296/.416/.593 in the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer.

Royals: Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 8) — The Royals were excited after Isbel’s exceptional pro debut after they took him in the third round of the 2018 Draft, but his 2019 season was interrupted by injuries and he played in just 59 games. He made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League and should use his impressive .315/.429/.438 (leading the league in OBP) showing to catapult him to the upper levels of the system

Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 12) — The Tigers knew that Meadows — Rays outfielder Austin Meadows’ younger brother — would need time to develop when they selected the athletic prep outfielder in the second round of the 2017 Draft, and his .221/.296/.312 showing over 126 games at Class A West Michigan in his first full season only confirmed that assessment. However, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder’s five-tool profile offers reason to be optimistic about his future, as all the raw qualities are in place for the 20-year-old to develop into an impact player.

Twins: Wander Javier, SS (No. 7) — While it’s true the Twins didn’t protect Javier on their 40-man roster this offseason, that was a relatively low-risk move given the shortstop hasn’t played above A ball. A torn labrum cost him the 2018 season and he struggled once he got to full-season ball for the first time in late May of 2019 (.177/.278/.323). But he still has tremendous tools, the ones the Twins saw when they gave him $4 million to sign in July 2015.

White Sox: Matthew Thompson, RHP (No. 13) — Before Chicago selected Thompson 45th overall last June, it had spent just two picks that early on high school pitchers in the previous 17 Drafts (Gio Gonzalez in 2004, Spencer Adams in 2013). Though he was inconsistent as a senior last spring, the White Sox love his athleticism and quick arm, which could result in a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball once he’s fully developed.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

A’s: Marcus Smith, OF (No. 30) — The Kansas City high schooler was a bit of a surprise third-round pick, one who wasn’t on our Draft Top 200 list in 2019, but he sure made the A’s look smart during his relatively brief pro debut in the Arizona League (.361/.466/.443 in 29 games). That advanced approach should serve him well and let him use his 70-grade speed to his advantage in his first full season of pro ball.

Angels: Jeremiah Jackson, SS/2B (No. 4) — He’s yet to reach full-season ball, but he set the stage for the jump by leading the Pioneer League in home runs and RBIs in 2019. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts (33 percent rate), but he’ll also only be 20 for all of 2020, so there’s time for him to refine his approach and become a truly impactful middle infielder.

Astros: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8) — The son of offensive-minded second baseman Geronimo Pena, Jeremy was one of the best defensive shortstops available in the college class of 2018, when Houston popped him in the third round out of Maine. His glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, when he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.

Mariners: George Kirby, RHP (No. 6) — Kirby made a name for himself as a control artist at Elon University and parlayed that into being a first-round pick last June. He showed just how good that command was by not walking a single batter in 23 innings during his pro debut. Seen as a safe pick who could ride his pitchability quickly up a ladder, his first full season could show that he’s more than that, with the potential to join others from his class on our Top 100 in 2020.

Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP (No. 4) — One of the most polished high school pitchers in the 2018 Draft, Winn went 15th overall but struggled more than expected while being kept on a tight leash in his first full pro season in 2019. But he finished the year with a 2.81 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings over his final 12 starts, showing signs of a quality four-pitch mix once he dials in his command.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Bryce Ball, 1B — Ball spent two years in junior college before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior year. The Braves nabbed him in the 24th round of last June’s Draft after he hit .325/.443/.614 with 18 homers and then he hit 17 more combined in the Appalachian and South Atlantic Leagues during his pro debut. He might have the most power in the system and has already shown the ability to get to it.

Marlins: Braxton Garrett, LHP (No. 7) — The seventh overall pick in 2016, the Alabama high school product required Tommy John surgery after just four pro starts, costing him all of 2018. Garrett looked like his old self last season, pairing a low-90s fastball with a plus curveball in high Class A, and could move quickly in 2020 as he puts elbow reconstruction further behind him.

Mets: Francisco Alvarez, C (No. 5) — Alvarez’s $2.7 million bonus in July 2018 was one of the top totals handed out during the 2018-19 international period, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he began to receive rave reviews from those inside the organization. The Mets challenged Alvarez last summer in his pro debut, assigning him straight to the Rookie Gulf Coast League before a quick promotion to the Appalachian League, and the then-17-year-old backstop responded by slashing .312/.407/.510 with seven homers in 42 games between the two stops. The Venezuela native is already perhaps the best pure hitter in New York’s system, with defensive chops behind the plate that could make him an impactful two-way catcher.

Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (No. 3) Taken with the No. 17 overall pick in last year’s Draft, Rutledge, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, has some of the best pure stuff among college pitchers from his class with an explosive mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that front his four-pitch mix. Harnessing his stuff to throw more strikes and developing a better changeup will be developmental keys for the 20-year-old in his first full season, though he’s exactly the type of power pitcher the Nats have successfully developed in the past.

Phillies: Francisco Morales, RHP (No. 6) — One of the top pitchers in the 2016-17 international signing class, Morales has tremendous raw stuff. In many ways, it played well during his full-season debut in 2019, as he struck out just over 12 batters per nine innings and held hitters to a .226 batting average. He needs to refine his command to reach his very lofty ceiling, but here’s betting he takes a big step forward in 2020.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Tristen Lutz, OF (No. 2) — Tabbed as the Brewers’ top breakout candidate a year ago, Lutz advanced to Class A Advanced Carolina in 2019 and produced a nearly identical line (.754 OPS, 13 HR, 137/46 K/BB) compared to his first full season (.742 OPS, 13 HR, 139/46 K/BB). The elevated strikeout rates fuel questions about the 21-year-old’s hit tool, but there’s a lot to like in his blend of right-handed power potential and patience at the plate. Lutz has the makings of becoming an everyday corner outfielder if it all clicks for him, and a strong showing at Double-A in 2020 would mark a significant turning point in his development.

Cardinals: Ivan Herrera, C (No. 6) — Signed out of Panama for $200,000 in July 2016, Herrera was pushed up to full-season ball at age 18 in 2019 and responded to the challenge by slashing .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs in 87 games across two levels, including Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Herrera continued to impress on both sides of the ball after the season as one of the Arizona Fall League’s youngest players and will enter 2020 with a big up arrow next to his name.

Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 3) — Though scouts considered Davis one of the better prep athletes in the 2018 Draft, a hamstring injury slowed him as a senior and helped Chicago grab him in the second round. More advanced than expected, he batted .305/.381/.525 and flashed 30-30 upside in low Class A last season — albeit while limited to 50 games by multiple finger injuries.

Pirates: Jared Oliva, OF (No. 11) — A seventh-round pick out of Arizona in 2017, Oliva has had a solid, if unspectacular, first two full seasons of pro ball with a career .274/.348/.403 line, to go along with an impressive 84 steals. He opened a lot of eyes by leading the AFL with 11 steals (in 12 attempts) and hitting .312/.413/.473, setting the stage for a big 2020.

Reds: Tyler Stephenson, C (No. 7) — The 2015 first-round pick got hit by the injury bug quite a bit during the first stages of his career, but he’s going to look back at 2019 as the year it all started to click. After a solid regular season in Double-A, the backstop had a very strong AFL campaign (.347/.372/.410 in 49 at-bats) to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. A big follow-up campaign should vault him onto the top catching prospects list and have him ready for Cincinnati.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Kristian Robinson, OF (No. 2, MLB No. 71) — Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson offered a glimpse of his potential in 2019 as he slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers and 17 steals while ascending from Class A Short-Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an all-around exceptional set of tools, and, overall, it gives him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 11) — MLB Pipeline’s top-rated international amateur in the 2018 class, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela. Often compared to Salvador Perez, he has the tools to make a difference offensively and defensively and hit .281/.343/.432 between two Rookie-ball stops in his 2019 pro debut.

Giants: Alexander Canario, OF (No. 7) — Signed for $60,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Canario possesses the quickest bat in San Francisco’s system and batted .318/.377/.623 with 16 homers in 59 games between the Rookie and short-season levels last year. He fits the right-field profile well and could have even more value if he’s able to stick in center.

Padres: Reggie Lawson, RHP (No. 21) — The Padres’ second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lawson spent much of the ’19 season on the injured list with a balky right elbow, but he returned late in the season to make six starts for Double-A Amarillo, then dominated while making three impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League (0.82 ERA, 14 K, 11 IP), where he operated with a mid-90s fastball, a sharp, 12-to-6 curveball and a promising changeup. With his blend of size and stuff, Lawson could break out in earnest with a healthy 2020 campaign.

Rockies: Helcris Olivarez, LHP (No. 25) — Olivarez made his United States debut in 2019 and missed a lot of bats in the Pioneer League (11.76 K/9 in 46 2/3 IP), largely with a very lively fastball. He’ll need to improve his command (4.63 BB/9) and tighten up his secondary stuff, but the ingredients are all there for him to take a big step forward, perhaps with a move to full-season ball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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Jacob Stallings grows with 2019 starting reps | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ next general manager is going to have to figure out the club’s immediate future and long-term plan behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli is gone. Elias Díaz, once a well-regarded prospect, followed up an encouraging 2018 campaign with a stunningly poor season. There isn’t a catcher among the club’s Top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s entirely possible that Pittsburgh’s next starting catcher isn’t currently on the roster. But part of the solution might have emerged amid the disappointment of this past season.

Jacob Stallings spent the past four years as the Pirates’ third or fourth option at catcher, which means he’s familiar with the road between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis. But this season, Cervelli’s concussion and Díaz’s struggles opened the door for Stallings to receive more regular playing time.

Stallings’ offensive performance was fine, especially compared to the Pirates’ other catchers. But the 29-year-old earned the club’s trust with his diligent preparation and his performance behind the plate. By the end of the year, most of Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers had asked to work with Stallings.

Where that leaves Stallings going forward is anybody’s guess. Maybe a new GM will view him as a short-term starting option for a team focused on the future or perhaps as a spiritual successor to Chris Stewart: a quality, defensive-minded backup on a potential contender.

Before looking forward, though, let’s review Stallings’ season.

What went right?
His defensive work, primarily. It’s tough to quantify everything about catchers’ defense, but Stallings graded out well in the areas we can measure and those in which we depend upon the word of his teammates.

Stallings has long been praised by pitchers for his preparation and game-calling, and that showed this year. By late May, Chris Archer worked exclusively with Stallings. Joe Musgrove soon followed suit. Most of Trevor Williams’ and Mitch Keller’s starts down the stretch came with Stallings behind the plate.

Joe Musgrove, on working with Jacob Stallings tonight: “Stalls was spot-on with everything. It makes my job a lot easier when I trust my catcher to call the game. It’s almost like he’s the brains and I’m the muscle. You just tell me where to throw it, and I’ll throw it there.”

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry)

Catcher ERA is a flawed statistic in some regards, but it can paint part of the picture here. Consider how Pirates pitchers performed when throwing to Stallings (4.47 ERA), how similar that was to their work with the veteran Cervelli (4.42) and how different it was with Díaz behind the plate (5.95).

There are more advanced metrics to consider, too.

Stallings ranked eighth among all Major League catchers in adjusted Fielding Runs Above Average, according to Baseball Prospectus, and 11th in Framing Runs. The latter was a focal point for Stallings this season, as he committed himself to the skill of framing pitches with former bench coach Tom Prince and bullpen catcher Jordan Comadena.

Stallings did all the necessary drill work, catching weighted balls and properly positioning his body behind the plate and his glove around the strike zone. He watched video of elite pitch-framers and noticed how well they were able to keep their gloves in the zone, rather than letting the ball move them, so he strengthened his body in the weight room.

“It’s been a continual growth process. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better as the year’s gone on,” Stallings said in late September. “It’s been more this year than ever in the past.”

What went wrong?
This is not a knock on Stallings, but the answer is probably his games played total (71) and the fact that he had more plate appearances (210) than Cervelli.

Stallings started 53 games for the Pirates this year, which is not how you draw it up for your third catcher leaving Spring Training. Díaz started 75 games behind the plate despite having a brutal year overall, and Cervelli made 32 starts before he was sidelined and later picked up by the Braves.

Offensively, Stallings was more or less who he’s always been. The 29-year-old batted .262 with a .325 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. The good news is he tapped into a little more power to hit six home runs, as many as he’s ever hit in a professional season. He credited hitting coach Rick Eckstein for that improvement.

“Working with him, learning about my body and my swing,” Stallings said. “Pulling the ball in the air with backspin was something I struggled with. I used to always just topspin the ball because I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hit. I really dove into that. It’s something that I will always struggle with because I’m so big and lanky with a lot of moving parts, but body position to hit has been the biggest change for me this year.

“I feel like I have a good swing. I just don’t put myself in position to hit all the time. So we worked a lot on that, and it’s something we always have to work on. Putting myself in a more consistent position to hit has helped a lot.”

Best moment
How about June 27, when Stallings had three hits and a homer and caught a shutout against the eventual American League champion Astros in a 10-0 Pirates win at Minute Maid Park?

Or how about the Pirates’ September series in San Francisco? Stallings hit two of his six homers in a historically pitcher-friendly ballpark while catching a pair of victories.

2020 outlook
Stallings is under club control, so he should be back in some role. But will the next management group take another shot on the upside Díaz showed in 2018?

There are plenty of free agents available, and the Pirates picked up recent contributors like Cervelli and Stewart through smart trades. How would that decision or another acquisition affect Stallings? Stay tuned.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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