Marlins outfielder Cameron Maybin left today’s spring training game against the Nationals early after feeling tightness in his left hamstring. Maybin said the move was a precautionary one.
Maybin reached base on an error in the ninth inning, but pulled up to first base gingerly and was removed for a pinch-runner. Acquired from the Tigers in the off-season in the Miguel Cabrera trade, Maybin is competing for the starting center field job with the major league team and is the No. 6 prospect in baseball.
Tigers top prospect Rick Porcello, the Tigers’ first-round pick last year, saw his first action of the spring in a game against the Blue Jays. The 19-year-old righthander retired all six batters he faced without allowing a ball to leave the infield. Porcello, who was 19 months old when Frank Thomas made his big league debut in 1990, struck out Thomas for his only strikeout of the game.
Lefthander James Houser, the No. 18 prospect in the Rays’ system, served 25 games of a 50-game suspension last year after testing positive for amphetamines.
It now appears that Houser, who pitched at Double-A Montgomery in 2007, won’t have to serve the rest of his suspension.
Houser had tested positive for amphetamines, a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The Rays placed Houser on the 40-man roster in November, making him technically a major leaguer and thus subject to Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
"He was placed on the 40-man roster, and as a member of the 40-man roster, he’s no longer subject to the minor league rules," Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said.
The major league and minor league drug testing programs are two separate programs. Major leaguers are not suspended for a first positive test for amphetamines and their names are not publicly released, whereas minor leaguers who test positive for amphetamines receive a 50-game suspension. MLB Vice President of Public Relations Operations Patrick Courtney confirmed that Houser is no longer suspended.
[...] Continue Reading »
Brewers righthander Jeremy Jeffress, who began serving a 50-game suspension last season after testing positive for "a substance of abuse," checked into a rehab facility in November, according to Baseball America correspondent Tom Haudricourt.
"It was kind of tough at first," Jeffress said. "You’ve just got to put your past behind you and move on, and learn from your mistakes.
"I was in (rehab) for about a month. It was very beneficial. I’d recommend that people go there if they need help for anything. Now, I’m concentrating on baseball, getting my life straight and keeping my nose clean."
Since the Brewers drafted him in the first round in 2006, Jeffress has tested positive on four drug tests for marijuana. The No. 4 prospect in the Brewers’ system, Jeffress has a plus-plus fastball that makes him one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the minors. Jeffress, 20, had a 3.13 ERA, 94 strikeouts and 44 walks in 86 1/3 innings last season with low Class A West Virginia.
The modern-day Steve Dalkowski has retired.
Jason Neighborgall has decided to step away from the game according to Baseball America correspondent Jack Magruder, ending a three-year career with the Diamondbacks that was legendary for his lack of control. Neighborghall was considered one of the top righthanders in the country coming out of high school, but he headed to Georgia Tech after the Red Sox couldn’t meet his asking price as a seventh-round pick.
While at Georgia Tech his once shaky command descended into full-bore wildness. Despite that, the Diamondbacks signed him for $500,000 as their third-round pick in 2004, enticed by his high 90s fastball. The Diamondbacks hoped that they could help him regain his control, but he never found the strike zone. The numbers for his pro career are shocking:
Total batters faced in career: 310
Outs: 127 (48 by SO)
Hit batters: 13
Wild pitches: 59
That’s about $4,000 per out. Or per walk, if you prefer.
This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Feb. 16 and 22. Previous transactions available here.
Signed: LHP Damian Moss
Moss bounced from the independent Atlantic to South Coast leagues in 2006 and 2007 after being cut by the Braves early in ’06. The 31-year-old Australia native wasn’t particularly successful, though, going 0-5, 7.67 in six starts the first year and posting a 6.75 ERA in three games (two starts) the second. While durable, Moss’ shaky command plagued him in his two extended big league trials, for the Braves in ’02 and ’03. He walked 4.7 batters per nine in that time.
Signed: OF Chris Roberson
Roberson was signed to a minor league deal after being removed from the 40-man roster last week. [...] Continue Reading »
This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Feb. 9 and 15. Previous transactions available here.
Signed: RHP Federico Baez, RHP Steve Trachsel
Outrighted off 40-man roster: OF Chris Roberson
So, hold on–the Orioles lost Jeff Fiorentino as a waiver claim, after booting him off the 40-man roster to make room for Roberson . . . and then they don’t think enough of Roberson to keep him on the 40-man? At least they still have Roberson in the organization, as he has re-signed a minor league deal. Fiorentino is on his third team this offseason now with the Athletics.
Boston Red Sox
Released: RHP Victor Galue
Signed: LHP Dave Gassner, LHP Jacob Ociesa, OF Yuber Rodriguez, OF Craig Wilson
Like the other veteran, righthanded corner bats to sign minor league deals this week (Olmedo Saenz, Mike Sweeney, Kevin Mench), Wilson had to wait until the eve of spring training to find a situation to his liking. At one time, Wilson, 31, offered above-average offense at first base or right field (see 2004, when he hit .264/.354/.499 with 29 home runs), but he’s slowed down considerably in the three years hence. Particularly worrisome, he’s failed to hold down bench jobs for the Yankees and Braves, the last two teams to employ him. Blue Jays fans may remember Rodriguez as the five-tool prospect who busted at the low Class A level. In three seasons at Lansing, Rodriguez batted just .220/.300/.311, though he is a strong center-field defender who runs well. He’s still just 24. [...] Continue Reading »
World Baseball Classic, Inc. announced that the teams invited to participate in the 2009 World Baseball Classic will be the same 16 teams from the inaugural 2006 tournament.
Australia, Canada, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Panama, South Africa and Taiwan were the latest eight teams to receive invitations to the WBC, which will be held in March, 2009. Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United States and Venezuela already received invitations after advancing to the second round of the WBC in 2006.
WCBI also announced that the tournament could expand in 2013, with more teams possibly being involved through a series of qualifying rounds.
Japan defeated Cuba two years ago to win the inaugural WBC championship.
In any setting that requires calculated predictions—the financial market, weather forecasting or a poker game, for example—decisions have to be made using the information at hand. The more information available and the better you are at analyzing that information, the greater certainty you can have in your decisions.
If it’s poker, that might involve knowing the betting patterns of your opponent to increase the certainty of your moves, and thus creating a better risk assessment of your next play. You might know the cards you hold, the cards on the board and have all of the percentages calculated in your head of hitting the cards you need, but that additional information of your opponent’s tendencies can only be attained by observing him play more hands.
In baseball, a team with a farm system in which the top prospects are at the Triple-A and Double-A levels means that team likely has several assets with a high degree of certainty. The more plate appearances a hitter has or batters a pitcher has faced in his professional career, the more reliable data points we have to forecast his future.
A prospect in Triple-A may have a track record of 2,000 minor league plate appearances, including several hundred in the highest levels of the minor leagues. A prospect in the short-season leagues or low Class A, meanwhile, has a much more limited body of work available to evaluate, and it is within the context of the lowest levels of the minors, where weaknesses like poor pitch recognition, an aluminum bat swing or a fringy array of pitches is less likely to be exploited. [...] Continue Reading »
This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Feb. 2 and 8. Last week’s transactions available here.
Signed: RHP Andy Mitchell
Traded: LHP Erik Bedard to Mariners for OF Adam Jones, RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Kam Mickolio, LHP Tony Butler and LHP George Sherrill
Boston Red Sox
Signed: OF Bobby Kielty
Placed on voluntarily retired list: RHP Brantley New
Signed: RHP Mike Lincoln, C Paul Bako, 3B Bryan Bass
Lincoln last pitched in the big leagues for the Cardinals in 2004. [...] Continue Reading »
SANTIAGO, D.R.–There is an exhibit here in Santiago on the history of baseball in the Dominican Republic and even if you’re in the D.R., yet nowhere near this city, you have to go.
It’s like someone picked up a wing of Cooperstown and sent it to this country. The exhibit itself was Hall Of Famer Juan Marichal’s idea initially, and right now it sits in Santiago’s art museum called Çentro Leon. It chronicles Dominican baseball from the early 1900′s to the turn of the century, teaching novices like myself the true meaning behind winter league rivalries and the like. [...] Continue Reading »
SANTIAGO, D.R.–As the 2008 Caribbean Series came to a close, the birth of the next one, to be held in Mexicali in 2009, might change . . . a lot.
1) Lacking players outside the Domincan Republic with big league experience, officials are considering moving the 2009 Series up to the end of January. This way, more players from Venezuela–Miguel Cabrera was out for this year’s Caribbean Series (again) to prepare for spring training–Mexico and Puerto Rico would certainly increase the competition level of the event. And with the starting date of the Series pushed up, more major league players might be more willing to play. Ï’m not sure why Mexican big leaguers refuse to play,"said Mazatlan general manager Chino Valdez. "Spring training, sure. But each player from each different country in this Series loves to play for the people they represent. That’s why I respect (Mexico shortstop) Alfredo Amezaga so much. He didn’t have to play in this Series–he’s a big leaguer. But he loves his country and wanted to see Mexico do well. And a guy like that could come out and go through the motions, but he didn’t. Amezaga played hard every day."Of the 33 players currently on 40-man rosters in the big leagues that played in this year’s Caribbean Series, 30 were from the Dominican. [...] Continue Reading »
SANTIAGO, D.R.–I just wanted to say thank you to the over 200 e-mails from random readers and subscribers wishing me well with my new opportunity. I really appreciate the kind words, and given the time frame and everything, I’m not certain I will be able to respond to you all.
All I can say is, as my time as Baseball America comes to a close, I thank them for giving me a chance over five years ago and you shouldn’t worry. Matt Eddy and Ben Badler are going to pick up where I left off in terms of prospects coverage and I know Ben is going to take the international stuff to a completely different level.
SANTIAGO, D.R.–The chants were deafening. And Aguilas fans tried not to hear them, steaming toward the exit after Miguel Tejada, who was ice cold after homering twice in the opener, flew out to left field with two runners on in the eighth.
Licey tacked two runs an already substantial lead, and cruised to an 8-2 win over the home team.
This for a club who decided to fire its manager (Tim Tolman) and pitching coach (Mark Brewer) after the Tigres went down 3-0 to Aguilas in the Dominican League finals. New manager Hector De La Cruz has only been on the job a few weeks, but now he has a Caribbean Series trophy as the club celebrates its history–this is Licey’s 100th anniversary.
"Management decided to make a change and . . . that’s all I can say about that," Licey catcher Matt Tupman (Royals) said. "They just won the Caribbean Series, so they obviously felt like they were doing the right thing." [...] Continue Reading »
SANTIAGO, D.R.–Licey absolutely manhandled the heavily favored Aguilas club for a second straight game, defeating them, 8-2, and locking down the 2008 Caribbean Series.
The Tigres rattled out 15 hits in the game, and never trailed. Aguilas second baseman Rafael Furcal hit a two-run home run early to tie it, but Licey scored four runs in the fifth and added two more in the ninth for good measure.
We’ll have more on the final Series game later.
SANTIAGO, D.R.–I was so excited to tell my story about getting accidentally tackled by two police officers on stones and broken glass that I forgot to mention the early game, as Mexico (2-4) wound up knocking off Venezuela, 7-5.
Mexico rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning and held on as Venezuela (2-4) answered with three runs in the bottom half, but it wasn´t enough.
¨To win two games here isn´t what we came for,¨Mexico shortstop Alfredo Amezaga said. ¨But we got ourselves in a hole early and had to dig ourselves out. You have to give a lot of credit to the guys on this team because we never gave up. We never stopped trying and we beat two very good teams.
This was the first time Mexico left a Caribbean Series with two wins since 2005. They were swept in 2006 and won just one game, also against Venezuela, last year.
SANTIAGO, D.R.–And so is Jose Capellan, apparently. The Licey righthander has yet to allow a hit midway through the third inning, as the Tigres lead Aguilas, 2-0.
We might not need that one-game playoff after all. But if we do, Licey won the coin toss earlier today and would be the home team–in the Aguilas´home park. If Licey loses tonight, that game would be played Friday at 8 p.m. local time.
So anyway, yeah, the photographer´s pit is tough work. Especially between innings. I was surrounded by police and military personnel, and some cheerleaders went on the field in front of where I was standing to shoot free tee-shirts into the crowd. Well, one misfired and I got completely tackled by two policemen fighting for the free shirt.
Protect and Serve . . . wow. [...] Continue Reading »
For the second time this offseason, a major league organization has hired a member of the Baseball America editorial staff to fill a position on its scouting staff.
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Wednesday the hiring of Chris Kline as an area scout. Kline, 35, is in the Dominican Republic covering the Caribbean Series for BA and will join the Pirates full-time later in February. He’ll cover the upper Midwest for the Pirates, with a territory that includes Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Kline’s duties also will include professional scouting.
SANTIAGO, D.R.–In addition to the names we dropped earlier this week as potential big bonus players when the international signing period begins, here are some more who were featured in the same showcase as righthander Michael Inoa: [...] Continue Reading »
SANTIAGO, D.R.–There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
Click-Click-Click . . .
Nothing’s happening, dude.
Last night, after returning from Venezuela’s upset win over Aguilas, I went to the hotel restaurant to get something to eat. As I walked in, a rat–not like a New York City subway rat, but nice-sized; let’s call it ‘pleasantly plump’–stood up on its hind legs and looked at me for a second before scampering back into the kitchen. [...] Continue Reading »
SANTIAGO, D.R.–Home-field advantage? Check. More big leaguers than any other team in the tournament? Check. Dominican League champions? Check. Best team in the 2008 Caribbean Series? Well, not so far.
Aguilas, heavily favored to repeat as Caribbean Series champions heading into the tournament, has looked very ordinary over the first five games. Their defense is shoddy, the pitching has been inconsistent and their bats haven’t woken up since the club’s opening night, 13-6 win.
Let’s start with the outfield defense. Aguilas manager Felix Fermin started 43-year-old Luis Polonia in left field against Licey on Monday, and Polonia hasn’t seen left field since. Polonia got late jumps on balls he should have gotten to, which helped Licey knock off the defending champs, 5-2. Bernie Castro hasn’t been much better, and his routes to balls have been terrible at times. Left field is a revolving door of sorts, as Fermin even put utility infielder Hector Luna–a well-below-average runner–in left last night briefly. [...] Continue Reading »
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