The Oakland A’s made a flurry of moves Friday, chief among them calling up outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez. As someone who works at Baseball America, I’m supposed to be excited about a prospect of his ilk getting called up, not the 28-year-old reliever who also got the call.
But it’s the 28-year-old reliever that’s got me psyched. Brad Ziegler got the call to the major leagues. Yeah, that Brad Ziegler, the one who led Southwest Missouri State to the College World Series in 2003, back when Shaun Marcum was more of a shortstop and middle reliever. The Brad Ziegler that pitched for two different teams in the Cape Cod League and had a 30-plus inning walkless streak there, and still wasn’t supposed to be a "prospect." The Brad Ziegler whom the Phillies released, who as a result spent a brief stint in indy ball. [...] Continue Reading »
In desperate need of offensive punch, the Royals called up Triple-A Omaha infielder Mike Aviles on Thursday and started him at shortstop in place of the slumping Tony Pena Jr. To make room for Aviles, a 2003 seventh-round pick out of Division II Concordia (N.Y.) College, the Royals sent down designated hitter and former No. 1 prospect Billy Butler.
Aviles had been one of the hottest hitters in the minors, batting .336/.370/.631 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. He ranks ninth in the Pacific Coast League in average, first in extra-base hits (37) and second in hits (72), doubles (21), and triples (6). He went 0-for-3 last night in his major league debut against the Twins.
The 27-year-old Aviles’ path to the big leagues has been a slow, but steady, process. The former Division II player of the year entered his third straight season at Omaha after turning in the best performance of his pro career with the O-Royals last year, hitting .296/.332/.463. Though he may have the offensive tools for the big leagues with a short, compact swing and gap power, how Aviles fits in defensively remains a question. He profiles as an offensive-minded second baseman, though his best immediate opportunity may come at shortstop.
“It’s one of those things you work your whole life to get,” Aviles told the Kansas City Star. “You finally get the call, and it’s like everything is racing at once.”
Butler heads to Omaha after a disappointing start in which he hit just .263/.330/.339 with one home run and 18 RBIs. He was hitting just .233/.305/.302 in May, though he had hit safely in five straight games, and was emblematic of a Royals team mired in an 11-game losing streak during. The Royals, with few offensive options in the farm system, rank last in the majors in runs (193), home runs (26) and RBIs (183).
It’s a Hot Sheet Friday, so the Low A Dish will be short and sweet. Jonathan Lucroy had another three-hit game, Phillippe Aumont had a strong outing, and Jordan Walden didn’t.
South Atlantic League
Prospect Of The Day
West Virginia (Brewers) catcher Jonathan Lucroy wins the prize after going 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, two RBIs, and a stolen base in a 4-3 win over Greensboro (Marlins). This was his third straight three-hit game and he raised his line to .319/.389/.524.
Rome (Braves) first baseman Freddy Freeman went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI against Asheville (Rockies) … Greenville (Red Sox) center fielder Ryan Kalish went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored in the Drive’s 7-5 win over Columbus (Rays) … Lexington (Astros) catcher Max Sapp went 3-for-4 with a double against Kannapolis (White Sox).
Prospect Of The Day
Center fielder Peter Bourjos had two doubles in an 11-6 Rancho Cucamonga (Angels) win over Lake Elsinore (Padres). He finished the night 3-for-5 with his 13th and 14th doubles of the year and scored three runs while knocking another one in. Both of his doubles came off of lefthander Cory Luebke.
Left fielder Chad Tracy was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored…Lefthander Kasey Kiker was a candidate for the Hot Sheet until last night when he last five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out three and dropped to 3-1, 5.09.
It was another great night for a couple of Huntsville batters, Twins righthander Anthony Swarzak struck out 10 and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay homered in yesterday’s Double-A slate.
Prospect Of The Day
Pick a Star, any Star. If anyone wants to go through the Double-A Dish archives and tell me how many times a Huntsville Star has been the Southern League Prospect Of The Day, then . . . well, I can’t offer you anything, other than a mention in the Prospects Blog. But with Matt LaPorta, Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar and Cole Gillespie, among others, it seems that there’s always at least one hitter putting up big numbers for the Brewers affiliate. Yesterday it was Escobar (4-for-4 with his fifth double) and Gamel (2-for-5 with home run No. 12) getting it done. We’ll give the nod to Escobar, since there will be plenty more written about Gamel today in Hot Sheet from the man who hit .484/.500/.806 in 32 trips to the plate in the last seven days.
Carolina (Marlins) righthander Brett Sinkbeil strung together his third consecutive encouraging start. Sinkbeil lowered his ERA to 5.09 by holding Tennessee (Cubs) to two runs in six innings, striking out five and walking one with a 10-3 groundout-airout ratio. Carolina third baseman Gaby Sanchez went 2-for-5 with a double and a homer . . . Tommy Hanson has had three good outings and one bad outing since his promotion to Double-A Mississippi (Braves). Yesterday was the righthander’s best performance yet: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 SO.
Because we know it can be difficult to track the various prospect promotions and demotions on all 120 full-season minor league teams, we present a review of what’s happened in the last week, from May 18 through Wednesday.
Red Sox: Promoted RHP Daniel Bard to Double-A Portland
Reds: Promoted RHP Daryl Thompson to Triple-A Louisville
Royals: Promoted RHP Edward Cegarra to High A Wilmington, and LHP Danny Duffy and RHP Sam Runion to Low A Burlington
Dodgers: Demoted 2B Preston Mattingly to Rookie-level Ogden
Brewers: Promoted SS Brent Brewer to High A Brevard County
Yankees: Promoted RHP Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A Scranton
Rangers: Promoted 1B Chris Davis to Triple-A Oklahoma
Mike Moustakas went deep again, Tyler Henson had a four-hit game, and Ryan Miller’s teammates bailed him out in Wednesday’s low Class A action.
Prospect Of The Day
Burlington (Royals) shortstop Mike Moustakas has cooled off a little bit since his red-hot start to May, but he’s found his power stroke again this week in impressive fashion. Moustakas went 2-for-5 with a home run, his seventh of the year, last night in Burlington’s 4-1, 11-inning win over Quad Cities (Cardinals). The home run was the second in a set of back-to-back homers in the 11th inning off Quad Cities’ Dylan Gonzalez (David Lough hit the first, a two-run shot). Moustakas hadn’t gone deep since May 6, but he’s now homered in three consecutive games giving him six this month.
Moustakas has fared far better on the road than at home. He’s hitting .294/.323/.564 on the road and only .205/.245/.273 at Burlington’s Community Field, and six of his seven home runs have come away from home. His line for the season improved to .254/.304/.429 in 189 at-bats.
The headline says it all: Daryl Thompson and Mitchell Boggs flat-out dealt yesterday.
Prospect Of The Day
Look out, Toledo. Louisville may now be positioned to make up ground in the West Division—even as the Bats move forward without Jay Bruce. Already armed with righthander Homer Bailey and lefty Matt Maloney, the Reds’ top farm club this week added 22-year-old righty Daryl Thompson to the staff, and he made an impressive Triple-A debut Wednesday.
Thompson, who very well could wind up being the key piece from the 2006 Austin Kearns trade, struck out six Columbus batters in seven innings, while giving up a lone unearned run on four hits and two walks. Healthy after early-career shoulder trouble, Thompson was one of the finest pitchers in the Double-A Southern League prior to his promotion. He went 3-2, 1.76 with 56 strikeouts and 14 walks in 61 1/3 innings for Chattanooga. [...] Continue Reading »
Prospect Of The Day
Second baseman Jose Vallejo certainly did his share in a 13-7 Bakersfield (Rangers) win over Visalia (Diamondbacks). Vallejo went 3-for-4 with two home runs, giving him nine on the season. He knocked in four, scored four himself and even swiped his 19th base of the season. Not bad for a night’s work.
Center fielder Julio Borbon also chipped in, going 2-for-5 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored for Bakersfield …Stockton (Athletics) knocked off High Desert 3-1 with a little help from first baseman Sean Doolittle and shortstop Josh Horton. Doolittle added his 13th home run of the season as his only hit and Horton went 2-for-4 with an RBI and his seventh double…Inland Empire (Dodgers) lefthander James Adkins got roughed up, tossing three innings and giving up six runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks while striking out four. He is now 3-4, 4.18.
What To Watch For Today
Righthander Kevin Pucetas remains perfect at 6-0, 2.81 and faces Modesto today. The Nuts are hitting a paltry .255 as a team.
Major League Baseball suspended Rockies catcher Humberto Cota for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The 29-year-old veteran backstop was batting .333/.359/.450 in 60 at-bats for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Incidentally, Cota is the second veteran catcher to be suspended for PED use in the past month. The Giants’ Eliezar Alfonzo is currently serving his 50-game penalty for his failed test announced April 29.
Cota signed with the Braves out of Mexico in 1995 and passed through their organization (he was released in 1997) and then the Devil Rays’ (he was traded to Pittsburgh for Jose Guillen in 1999) before establishing himself as a prospect with the Pirates.
In his most extensive big league trial in 2005, Cota batted just .242/.285/.387 with seven home runs in 297 at-bats for the Pirates. He followed that up by batting .190 with one extra-base hit in 100 at-bats for the 2006 edition. His role was further reduced in 2007, and Cota left as a free agent after the season. The Rockies signed him March 22 after the Nationals had cut him at the end of spring training.
One of the key additions of the Athletics; offseason of wheeling and dealing will not pitch again in 2008.
Fautino de los Santos, a righthander the A’s picked up in the four-player trade that sent Nick Swisher to the White Sox, underwent Tommy John surgery this week, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
De los Santos came out of nowhere last year to earn a spot in the Futures Game with an outstanding South Atlantic League debut. He eventually earned a promotion to high Class A Winston-Salem thanks to his mid-90s fastball, curveball and slider. He ranked fourth on the A’s Top 10 Prospects list heading into the season.
De los Santos was part of a prospect-laden Stockton rotation when the season began. He went 2-2, 5.87 in four starts before being shut down after a solid start (5 innings, one run) on April 24. With de los Santos shut down, Henry Rodriguez promoted and Brett Anderson also on the disabled list, only Trevor Cahill remains in the current Ports rotation.
The typical recovery from Tommy John surgery takes around one year, which would put de los Santos back on the mound, barring setbacks, sometime around the middle of the 2009 season.
Rangers righthander Thomas Diamond made his second start after recovering from Tommy John surgery, Brewers third basman Mat Gamel continued to tattoo the baseball and Indians shortstop Josh Rodriguez did what he does best–get on base.
Prospect Of The Day
Once considered one of the top arms in the Rangers system, righthander Thomas Diamond slipped all the way to a No. 19 ranking in the organization entering the season. Diamond, a 2004 first-round pick out of New Orleans, had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2007, one year after striking out 145 batters in 129 Double-A innings. Yesterday he made his second start of the season for Frisco: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO.
Frisco catcher Max Ramirez went 0-for-2, but he reached base twice on walks . . . Midland (Athletics) center fielder Aaron Cunningham went 2-for-3 with a walk and his sixth double . . . On the bright side for Henry Rodriguez, the Midland righthander had four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. He walked two batters and he also allowed four runs, which if you can believe it lowered his ERA to 8.80 in 30 2/3 Double-A innings . . . Springfield (Cardinals) left fielder Shane Robinson had three singles in five at-bats, while second baseman Jose Martinez went 1-for-3 and homered for the second straight game, giving him four home runs in 188 at-bats. [...] Continue Reading »
It’s difficult to find a prospect with as much talent as Adam Miller, the No. 1 prospect in the Indians system the last four seasons, who has had as many nagging injuries as the young righthander.
Now, it looks like it’s time to add another note to Miller’s medical record. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Miller had surgery on Tuesday on the middle finger of his throwing hand. The procedure will keep Miller out for eight weeks before he can even begin a throwing program, meaning that Miller might not pitch in a game again this season.
Miller, 23, made six starts this year for Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 1.88 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 12 walks in 28 2/3 innings. Since signing as a supplemental first-rounder in 2003, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Miller has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning, including 68 in 65 1/3 innings last year with Buffalo and 157 in 153 2/3 innings in 2006 with Double-A Akron.
For all his talent–including a 93-97 mph fastball and a high-80s slider–Miller’s injury history remains perhaps his most prominent legacy to date. Miller had finger and elbow problems last year, which limited him to 11 starts and 19 appearances before heading to the Arizona Fall League. In 2006, Miller put together a healthy season, which was an encouraging sign after hs spent 2005 rehabbing an elbow strain.
Steve Pearce got back into the tick of the IL doubles race and Mike Aviles kept on slugging.
Prospect Of The Day
Indianapolis right fielder Steve Pearce (Pirates) connected for four hits, three of them doubles, in four at-bats, while driving in two runs yesterday in a loss at Lehigh Valley. The outburst catapulted him to third in the IL with 16 doubles, and the 25-year-old Pearce now is batting .259/.313/.407 overall. If you followed Pearce last year, you know that’s a far cry from the .320/.366/.557 he hit in Triple-A last year. But hey, it’s early.
Louisville RHP Homer Bailey (Reds) tossed six, one-run innings, while giving up five hits and four walks. He struck out four. He also connected for a double in two at-bats . . . Rochester RHP Philip Humber (Twins) completed six shutout innings, striking out five and working around three hits and four walks. He improved to 2-5, 5.19 . . . Richmond SS Brent Lillibridge (Braves) may be on the verge of turning things around. He went 3-for-4 yesterday with a double (five), a stolen base (10) and also an error (eight). He’s 24 and is still batting just .214/.281/.278 on the year, however. [...] Continue Reading »
Double-A Harrisburg (Nationals) outfielder Justin Maxwell has been placed on the seven-day disabled list.
Through 43 games, Maxwell is batting .233/.367/.459 in 180 plate appearances. Maxwell, who ranked as the No. 8 prospect and the No. 3 positional prospect in the system entering the season, had missed a few games and was day-to-day with a wrist injury. He returned to the lineup on Sunday and Monday, going 0-for-7 with two walks, but did not play yesterday.
Prospect Of The Day
Center fielder Cedric Hunter’s average hasn’t dipped below .300 since May 2, mostly because of performances like last night’s. In a 7-1 win over Lancaster (Red Sox), the Lake Elsinore (Padres) outfielder went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. He raised his season line to .314/.381/.412 in 204 at-bats.
Righthander Wes Roemer turned in a quality start, but errors doomed Visalia (Diamondbacks). Roemer tossed six innings giving up two earned runs, four total, on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. He is now 2-4, 5.12 after taking the loss against Modesto (Rockies)…It’s been just over three weeks since Sean O’Sullivan earned a win, but the Rancho Cucamonga (Angels) righthander got one last night in a 7-3 decision over High Desert (Mariners). He tossed 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks, while striking out four.
Every year, it seems like there’s a bizarre injury that occurs to a player. Whether it’s Joel Zumaya playing Guitar Hero, Sammy Sosa sneezing or Jeff Kent cleaning his truck, it seems that there’s always at least one usual story that comes up to explain why a player was placed on the disabled list.
Today, we present Dodgers righthander Chris Withrow, the 20th overall pick in 2007 and the No. 6 prospect in the organization. With a clean delivery and fluid arm action, you might not expect to find Withrow come down with an injury so soon, but perhaps that smoothness only helps him on the mound.
"Chris had an unfortunate incident in spring training where he grabbed a plastic snorkel mask," Dodgers pitching coordinator Marty Reed said. "He was on the beach and he grabbed it and he threw it. Well, the hard piece of the plastic sliced a pretty good little slice in his hand, so he couldn’t throw a ball for almost three weeks because he had to let that thing heal up and all that. And then when he started to come back, he kind of went through the dead-arm stage that a normal guy who had gone though spring training would go through. He’s just really starting to come around right now. I’d say he would probably be two to three weeks into spring training at this point, but he’ll be all right."
After signing for $1.35 million, Withrow used a low-90s fastball that touched 98 mph in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to strike out 13 batters in nine innings last year.
"He’s just so talented," Reed said. "He’s similar to Kershaw in terms of the way the ball comes out of his hand and the velocity that he can create. He’s got a great breaking ball, it’s just a matter of we just need to get him going and get him out there and get him pitching. I think we’ll see a lot of real good things from him towards the end of this year. It’s unfortunate, but we don’t want to start him back and then his hand blows up, and you’re dealing with this thing for six weeks instead of four weeks. So I think towards the end of the season this year he’ll start coming around."
Jason Heyward and Alex Cobb were both outstanding, Mike Stanton and Matt Dominguez each had big nights, and Lakewood kept its winning streak alive.
South Atlantic League
Prospect Of The Day
There were two very deserving candidates for Tuesday’s POTD award, so we’ll split it down the middle. We’ll start with Rome (Braves) right fielder Jason Heyward. After a relatively quiet week, by his standards, last week, Heyward made the most of his Memorial Day weekend, going 8-for-19 from Friday through Monday. But that pales in comparison to what he did yesterday against Hickory (Pirates). Heyward went 4-for-5 with a home run, his seventh, and a double in the Braves’ 5-4, 10-inning victory. And he wasn’t doing it against any slouch either in Hickory starter Duke Welker, against whom Heyward went 3-for-3. Heyward has hits in 18 of his last 19 games, and his line stands at .340/.374/.517.
Our other honoree is Columbus (Rays) righthander Alex Cobb. Starting on the road against the team with the SAL’s best record in Asheville (Rockies), Cobb pitched seven shutout innings, allowed only one hit, one walk and recorded six strikeouts. Cobb was perfect through four and carried a no-hitter into the sixth before losing it on an infield single by Tourists center fielder Michael Mitchell. Cobb retired the side in order five times in all, including in the seventh, his final inning. Cobb left the game with the Catfish ahead 1-0, but his fine work was all for naught, as the Tourists scrapped together a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth and won the game 2-1, handing the struggling Catfish their sixth straight loss. Although this was his best start of the year, Cobb has been effective all season. He’s held opponents to two runs or fewer in 9 of his 11 starts, and his 2.13 ERA ranks ninth in the league.
We’re going to mix it up a little today because, hey, we have the technology to do so. Chuck Lofgren’s control struggles continued, while Huntsville had 17 hits, won the game, yet still had trouble scoring runs.
Prospect Of The Day
Odd stat line of the day goes to Huntsville (Brewers): 17 hits, three runs. The Stars also drew three walks, meaning that they had 20 baserunners and only three of them scored. That happens when a team manages to hit into five doubles plays, ranging from the standard 5-4-3 to the unusual 8-6 double play. Third baseman Mat Gamel went 4-for-5 to increase his numbers to to a whopping .384/.443/.649 in 211 at-bats.
Carolina righthander Chris Volstad didn’t strike anyone out and his 12-9 groundout-fly out ratio wasn’t anythin spectacular. But the Marlins farmhand didn’t walk anyone and allowed just one run in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 2.96 in 70 innings . . . Montgomery (Rays) righthander Wade Davis has been up and down this season, but yesterday was one of his better performances. Davis allowed just two hits in seven innings, surrendering one run, one walk and striking out five . . . Jacksonville (Dodgers) shortstop Ivan DeJesus went 2-for-3 and hit his eighth double.
Padres righthander Mat Latos has gone on the disabled list with what the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports is a left intercostal strain. That’s in the abdominal region—in case you haven’t been brushing up on the human anatomy lately. No timetable has been set for Latos’ return, but it’s a safe bet the team won’t take any chances with one of the top arms in their system.
Latos, 20, started 2008 in extended spring training before joining low Class A Fort Wayne in late April. He made his first start on April 23 and struck out eight in four innings against Clinton. Latos last pitched on May 18, when he gave up four runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings against South Bend. In all, Latos made five starts and one relief appearance with Fort Wayne, going 0-2, 3.42 with a 20-7 K-BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings.
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