Free agent lefthander Dan Serafini received a 50-game suspension for failing a performance-enhancing substance test.
Serafini, 33, pitched in the Rockies system in 2007, tossing 1/3 of an inning for the big club in three games. He went 0-1, 3.48 in 20 2/3 innings for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
A first-round pick of the Twins in 1992 from Serra High in San Mateo, Calif., Serafini also has pitched in the majors for the Cubs, Padres, Pirates and Reds in seven big league seasons. He spent time in Japan—pitching for Chiba Lotte and Orix—from 2004 to 2007.
Tuesday Nov. 20 was the deadline for teams to add players to their major league 40-man rosters to avoid exposing them to December’s Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 guidelines were adjusted in the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement, giving teams an extra protection year for players. High school players drafted in 2003 and college players drafted in 2004 become eligible for the Rule 5 for the first time this year.
The players listed below are those who were added to 40-man rosters in October and November to protect them from exposure to the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Esmerling Vasquez
C Wilkin Castillo
OF Javier Brito
RHP Jairo Cuevas
RHP Charlie Morton
RHP Zach Schreiber
RHP Fredy Deza
RHP Bob McCrory [...] Continue Reading »
This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Nov. 17 and 21. Last week’s transactions available here.
The full list of 40-man roster additions made in October and November to protect players from December’s Rule 5 draft.
Selected to 40-man roster: RHP Esmerling Vasquez, C Wilkin Castillo, OF Javier Brito
Selected to 40-man roster: RHP Jairo Cuevas, RHP Charlie Morton, RHP Zach Schreiber
Signed: LHP Chris Waters, C Omir Santos
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Lee Gronkiewicz
Selected to 40-man roster: 1B Chris Carter, SS Argenis Diaz
Gronkiewicz, 29, turned in a typically-strong relief campaign, going 6-3, 2.41 with 83-10 K-BB in 74 2/3 innings in the Blue Jays system this season. Signed as a nondrafted free agent by the Indians from South Carolina in 2001, the 5-foot-10 Gronkiewicz has had to fight for every opportunity. He’s also been a middle reliever for Team USA the last two years, teams that won both the Olympic qualifying tournament in 2006 and the recent World Cup. [...] Continue Reading »
This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Nov. 10 and 16.
Last week’s transactions available here.
Signed: RHP Jose Santiago
Outrighted to Mexican League: OF Ivan Terrazas
Released: RHP Mike Christl, RHP Charles Platt, 1B Derek Schermerhorn, SS Cesar Valentin, OF Alfred Joseph
Signed: RHP Ricky Stone
Released: RHP Jose Medina, RHP Adam Pointer, RHP Nick Wandless, LHP Robert Nickols, C Fernando Encarnacion, 1B David Scott, 3B Rafael Sanchez [...] Continue Reading »
Second baseman Jayson Nix (Rockies) has been a prospect for a while, and for some he stopped being a prospect a while ago. he hit .213 in his first crack at Double-A, back in 2004, and spent the last two seasons at Triple-A Colorado Springs. After struggling there in 2006, when he hit just .251/.317/.313, Nix bounced back with a solid ’07 season, hitting .292/.342/.451 with 33 doubles and 24 stolen bases.
Nix finished up his bounce-back season in style at the 2007 World Cup, as he had two hits and two RBIs in the championship game and was named tournament MVP as the United States won its first gold medal in any kind of World Cup since 1974. Nix made key defensive plays throughout the tournament at second base and hit .387 with a team-best nine runs scored, two homers and six RBIs. [...] Continue Reading »
In last year’s inaugural World Baseball Classic, the United States sent a team of major league stars that barely made it to the second round, while Cuba–playing against big leaguers from around the world–made it all the way to the championship game, losing to Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro and Japan.
Since then, however, American college and professional players have gotten the best of Cuba in international baseball. That was the case again Sunday, as Team USA beat Cuba 6-3 to win the 2007 World Cup in Taiwan. The loss ended 25 years of Cuban domination of World Cup tournaments; South Korea in 1982 was the last team other than Cuba to win a World Cup, a span of eight consecutive events. [...] Continue Reading »
Dennis Dixon, quarterback for the University of Oregon and an outfielder in the Atlanta Braves’ farm system, will miss the rest of the football season after having surgery on his left knee. Dixon tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Arizona State on Nov. 3, but played on it against Arizona the following week. His knee buckled early and he was removed for the remainder of the game as Arizona upset the then-No. 2 team in country.
Dixon was selected in the 2007 draft by the Braves in the fifth round. Coming out of high school he was reported to have above-average arm strength, speed and raw power. Rather than sign with the Cincinnati Reds, who picked him in the 20th round of the 2003 draft, Dixon decided to attend Oregon to be their quarterback even though the school did not have a varsity baseball team at the time.
Dixon split his summer between the GCL Braves and Rookie-level Danville. In 74 at-bats he hit .176/.322/.216.
The 22-year-old was a candidate for the Heisman Trophy and Oregon was lined up for a shot at the national championship before losing to Arizona. There is no information at this time on how this will affect his baseball potential. Dixon was also named the best athlete in the Braves’ draft class in the 2007 Draft Report Cards.
The last time the World Cup was held in Taiwan in 2001, Cuba squashed American hopes for its first gold medal in this competition since 1974, beating the U.S. 5-3 in the championship game. It was the seventh straight World Cup gold for Cuba, which has won two more golds since then in 2003 (in Cuba) and 2005 (in the Netherlands).
Four years later, the U.S. has earned a rematch. Team USA tossed its second straight pitching gem of the medal round and beat the Netherlands 5-0 in the 2007 World Cup semifinals. Righthander Matt Wright (Royals) got the victory with six shutout innings and was supported by a first-inning leadoff homer by outfielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals). Wright struck out six and gave up just four hits, and the Americans rallied with four runs in the eighth inning to put the game away. [...] Continue Reading »
Led by a strong starting performance by righthander Jeff Karstens (Yankees) and a first-inning home run by Andy LaRoche (Dodgers), Team USA advanced to the semifinal round of the 2007 World Cup, beating South Korea 3-1 Friday.
LaRoche entered the game with seven extra-base hits and has paced Team USA’s offense, hitting in the three-hole behind Colby Rasmus and Jayson Nix and in front of Steven Pearce and Evan Longoria. His homer followed Nix, who had a one-out infield single. The U.S. added a run in the third inning and Karstens and the U.S. bullpen finished up, with Jeff Stevens (Indians) closing it out for the save. Karstens pitched out of a sixth-inning jam, when Korea got its only run. After one out Korea put runners on with a single and double and got a run-scoring groundout to Nix at second. Nix ranged far to his left and dived to make the stop in the outfield grass, got up and got the out at first. Karstens struck out the next batter looking to retire the side.
Karstens went on to pitch seven innings, walking none and striking out seven. He needed just 82 pitches–66 were strikes. Lee Gronkiewicz (Blue Jays) and Stevens wrapped up with scoreless innings apiece.
The American victory sets up a semifinal showdown with the Netherlands, which upset host Taiwan 6-3 in 11 innings. Coach Robert Eeenhorn’s Dutch team got three innings of shutout relief from 7-foot-1 righty Loek Van Mil (Twins), rallied to tie the game at 2 with a two-out ninth-inning run off Taiwan reliever Po-Hsuan Keng (Blue Jays), then scored four runs in the top of the 11th, capped by a key double from outfielder Greg Halman (Mariners) and a two-run bloop single by shortstop Hainley Statia (Angels).
The other semifinal will feature heavily-favored Cuba and Japan, traditional powers with different pedigrees in this tournament. The veteran Cubans shut out Mexico 6-0 behind lefthander Adiel Palma, one of the team’s elder statesmen. Japan, which has a team of amateurs while saving its pro team for next month’s Asian Olympic qualifier, got a combined seven-hitter and a third-inning homer by center fielder Hisayoshi Chono off lefthander Travis Blackley (Giants). Blackley took the loss and gave up only the one run in five innings.
We’ll have more details to come as they become available.
In a game that featured plenty of minor leaguers involved in key situations, Australia scored three runs in the top of the ninth and recorded the final out of the game on a double play with the bases loaded to seal a 7-6 victory. The loss dropped Canada’s record to 5-3, eliminating the Canadians from a potential quarterfinal spot. Canada finished pool play tied with South Korea for fourth place in Pool B, but since South Korea beat Canada 5-0 in the teams’ first game of the World Cup, South Korea will advance to play Team USA on Friday.
Canada and Australia were tied 4-4 heading into the top of the ninth. Righthander Scott Richmond struck out pinch-hitter Michael Collins (Angels), then gave up a double down the right field line to Luke Hughes (Twins). With the top of the order up, center fielder Trent Oeltjen walked and shortstop Brad Harman (Phillies) doubled to left-center field to give Australia a 5-4 lead with runners on second and third. [...] Continue Reading »
Right fielder Justin Ruggiano (Rays) hit two home runs to help Team USA defeat Taiwan 10-7 today, clinching the top seed in Pool A at the World Cup in Taiwan. Team USA finished 6-1 in pool play, while the loss dropped Taiwan to 5-2 and the second seed in Pool A.
Team USA will begin quarterfinal action on Friday against South Korea, the No. 4 seed from Pool B. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Taiwan-Netherlands matchup, and the winner of that game advances to the gold medal game (see below for scheduling information).
Team USA scored in the top of the first inning. After center fielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) popped out to third, second baseman Jayson Nix (Rockies) took an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence for a home run to give Team USA a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, Taiwan shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin led off the inning against lefthander Josh Outman (Phillies) with a single on a grounder between shortstop and third base off. Lin advanced to second when the next batter, second baseman Chao-Hang Chang, grounded out to third baseman Evan Longoria (Rays), who charged in on the slow roller and could only get the runner at first base. Right fielder Chen-Min Peng grounded out to third on another nice defensive play by Longoria, this time ranging to his left to get to the ball. Outman couldn’t quite escape the inning, though, as DH Chin-Feng Chen drove a double to the center field warning track, just beyond the reach of Rasmus to tie the game 1-1. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA defeated Taiwan 10-7 today to earn the top seed from Pool A at the World Cup in Taiwan. Taiwan had men on second and third with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but righthander Chris Booker (Nationals) got a strikeout and a flyout to center field to end the game.
Team USA finished pool play with a 6-1 record, one game ahead of Taiwan and Japan, which were both 5-2. Team USA will face South Korea, the No. 4 seed from Pool B, on Friday. Check back later in the day for full recaps on the action from the final day of pool play at the World Cup.
Third baseman Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) had three hits and drove in three runs as Team USA narrowly edged 0-6 South Africa 4-2, clinching a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals the Americans. Team USA and Taiwan are both 5-1, which means the winner of tomorrow’s game between Team USA and Taiwan will determine which team gets the top seed from Pool A.
Team USA took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. South Africa starter Shannon Eckermans gave up a leadoff single to center fielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals), who proceeded to steal second base. Second baseman Michael Hollimon (Tigers), replacing Jayson Nix (Rockies) in the lineup, grounded out to advance Rasmus to third. LaRoche followed with a double to score Rasmus, then scored himself two batters later on a single by first baseman Steven Pearce (Pirates) singled.
[...] Continue Reading »
En-Yu Lin struck out 13 in a complete-game shutout and shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin hit a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as Taiwan defeated Italy 1-0.
Lin, 27, worked with a low-90s fastball, scattering four hits without allowing a walk. The six-foot-two righthander was the MVP of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in 2005, one year before he set the CPBL single-season strikeout record with 209 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings. In 2007, he pitched for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Nippon Professional League–Japan’s top professional baseball league–and had a 3.63 ERA in 34 2/3 innings, appearing in eight games and making seven starts.
Taiwan improved its record to 4-1 at the World Cup, tied for first place in Pool A with the United States. Italy, which already beat Team USA 6-2, is now 3-2. The game was originally scheduled to be the World Cup’s opening game, but was postponed until today due to rain. The rest of the teams had the day off. [...] Continue Reading »
This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Nov. 3 and Nov. 9. Last week’s transactions available here.
For a complete listing of minor league free agents, go here.
Released: OF Matt Esquivel
Reinstated from inactive list: OF Matt Esquivel
Esquivel, 24, was sent home by the Braves in each of the last two seasons for persistent disciplinary issues. He hit 19 home runs for Double-A Mississippi in just 372 at-bats in 2007, though his Southern League batting line is .251/.327/.427 over two (partial) seasons.
Chicago White Sox
Released: RHP Mike Rocco, RHP Wascar Segura, C Matt Sharp, C Reymundo Tavares, 2B Brandon Johnson, SS Scott Madsen, SS Mike Myers, SS Ramon Pena, OF Rod Allen [...] Continue Reading »
Follow the action all weekend at the Baseball America World Cup blog.
Catcher Bryan Anderson (Cardinals) went 4-for-4 with a home run, DH Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) went 2-for-5 with two home runs and center fielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer to help Team USA defeat Spain 12-2 today at the World Cup in Taiwan. The victory improved Team USA’s record to 4-1, putting the Americans a half game ahead of Taiwan and Italy (both 3-1) in Pool A.
After an off day tomorrow, Team USA will be the heavy favorite against 0-5 South Africa on Tuesday at noon Taiwan local time (11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). Team USA finishes pool play on Wednesday against Taiwan. Italy, which defeated Team USA 6-2 on Friday, faces Taiwan tomorrow (see schedule below).
On the mound, righthander Dallas Trahern (Tigers) allowed one run in four innings, striking out one and walking one. He gave up six hits, but Spain (1-4) was unable to string enough hits together to tack on more than one run.
The story, however, was Team USA’s offense, which had 14 hits (including four home runs) and six walks before the game ended after seven innings due to international rules that end games after seven innings if one team is ahead by at least 10 runs.
Team USA struck in the first inning, when second baseman Jayson Nix (Rockies) hit a one-out triple. LaRoche followed with his first home run of the game, giving Team USA a 2-0 lead. [...] Continue Reading »
Follow the action all weekend at the Baseball America World Cup blog.
Cuba righthander Yadel Marti was one out away from a seven-inning perfect game as Cuba trounced Venezeula 10-0 to improve to 5-0. International baseball games end after seven innings when one team is ahead by at least 10 runs.
Pitching with a pause in his delivery reminiscent of many Japanese pitchers, Marti challenged Venezuelan hitters with his fastball, commanding the pitch to both sides of the plate. Marti fooled Venezuelan hitters all game with a pair of quality secondary pitches—a sharp-breaking curveball and a diving changeup. Marti’s perfect game ended with one out to go in the game, as first baseman Lino Connell singled on a line drive to right field. Righthander Jonder Martinez relieved Marti, who had thrown 91 pitches, and got Venezuela’s Manuel Ramirez to ground out to third base to end the game.
Marti’s near-perfection was just his latest dominant showing against Venezuela. At the World Baseball Classic last year, Marti held Venezuela hitless through his first four innings en route to a 7-2 Cuba victory . The Venezuelan team today was not as strong as the one Marti faced at the WBC, when he went up against Twins ace Johan Santana and faced a lineup that featured Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez and Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez. [...] Continue Reading »
Follow the action all weekend on Baseball America’s World Cup Blog.
Left fielder Delwyn Young (Dodgers) hit a three-run homer to propel Team USA (3-1) to a 5-1 victory over Japan (2-2) today in World Cup action in Taiwan. Young also made what appeared to be phenomenal double play after leaping into the wall for an over-the-shoulder catch, then throwing to first base to double off the runner, although replay clearly showed that Young had dropped the ball. Team USA’s next game is today against Spain (1-3) at 6 p.m. (5 a.m. Eastern Standard Time).
With Italy’s 6-0 loss to Panama, Team USA moved up to second place in Pool A, behind 3-0 Taiwan and tied with Panama, which Team USA has already defeated 7-0.
On the mound, lefthander Brian Duensing (Twins) shut down the Japanese, allowing one run on three hits in his five innings. He struck out two and walked one, and three relievers combined to shut out Japan—which was fielding a team of amateurs rather than its usual professional team—for the final four innings.
Japan threatened to score in the first inning with two hits, but catcher Jason Jaramillo (Phillies) easily threw out leadoff hitter Tsutomo Sasaki attempting to steal second. Center fielder Hisayoshi Chono reached base on an infield single with two outs, but did not score.
In the bottom of the first, Team USA wasted no time getting the scoring started and jumped out to a 3-0. After Japanese lefthander Teruo Kawawaki retired center fielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) for the first out, second baseman Jayson Nix (Rockies) singled on a chopper between the shortstop and the third baseman. Designated hitter Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) walked before Young, who hit 17 home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2007, smashed a 3-2 pitch on the lower-outer half of the plate for a home run to center field to give Team USA a 3-0 lead. [...] Continue Reading »
The release of this year’s minor league free agents list got us to thinking: Could a team comprised only of those same free minor leaguers compete even with MLB’s worst teams?
Six big league teams—the Devil Rays, Pirates, Royals, Orioles, Marlins and Giants—finished with winning percentages below .440, meaning a 72-90 record would push the minor league free agent (MiLB FA) team to the top of the heap.
I’ve selected the team with which I’d battle Florida and San Francisco for second-division supremacy. Because they’re closer to the majors, Triple-A players, only, were considered, as were all players granted free agency after being designated for assignment and refusing that assignment. More than 600 players were available, but I settled on these 25:
C Mark Johnson
2007 Team: Tucson (Diamondbacks). Age: 31. Bats: Left.
Draft Status: Selected by White Sox in 1st round (26th pick) of 1994 draft from Warner Robins (Ga.) HS.
Peak Prospect Ranking: No. 4 on 1999 White Sox list.
C Justin Knoedler
2007 Team: Fresno (Giants). Age: 26. Bats: Right.
Draft Status: Selected by Giants in 5th round of 2001 draft from Miami (Ohio).
Peak Prospect Ranking: No. 16 on 2005 Giants list.
Johnson and Knoedler provide a natural platoon situation, though both fared well against same-side pitching in 2007. You may remember Johnson as the prospect who led the Carolina and Southern leagues in both walks and on-base percentage in successive years, 1997 and 1998, topping 100 free passes each year with .420 and .443 OBP marks. Knoedler was drafted as a pitcher—he caught in college, too—and the Giants quickly moved him behind the plate for his second season. [...] Continue Reading »
Follow the action all weekend on the Baseball America World Cup Blog.
For the first time in 21 years, Italy defeated Team USA 6-2 in the World Cup today in Taiwan. Team USA committed three errors—including two by shortstop Brian Bixler (Pirates)—and only one of the six runs that Team USA pitchers allowed was an earned run. Team USA will try to bounce back tomorrow, when the Americans play Japan (2-1) at 6 p.m. (5 a.m. Eastern Standard Time).
Josh Outman (Phillies) got the start for Team USA (2-1), and the lefthander took the loss despite not allowing an earned run. After starting the bottom of the first by walking the first two hitters for Italy (2-0), Outman escaped the inning with a double play and a strikeout, extending Team USA’s pitchers’ scoreless inning streak to 19 innings.
The streak ended in the bottom of the second when, after Outman retired the first two batters, he allowed consecutive singles to center fielder Jimenez Chapelli and catcher Luis De Carmago to put runners on first and third. Outman induced a groundball from Italy’s ninth hitter, left fielder Leonardo Zileri, but Bixler booted the ball for his first error on the game, allowing Italy to take a 1-0 lead. With the top of Italy’s order up, shortstop Jack Santora and second baseman Davide Dallospedale both singled, giving Italy a 3-0 lead. [...] Continue Reading »
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