Much like the 2004 Olympic men’s basketball team, the 2006 United States World Baseball Classic team got a wake up call. Both teams were loaded with talent, but both teams came up short on the international stage.
The 2008 Olympic basketball team won gold medals in Beijing and this year’s WBC team is hoping for the same feeling of redemption.
"I think United States is the team to beat," US manager Davey Johnson said. "We came in a couple years ago not fully cognizant on the competition all over the globe and how prepared they would be coming into this, but we’re ready to play and I don’t think that will be an issue again. What happened a couple years ago sticks in the minds of a couple guys and they don’t want that to happen again. They’re all pumped up and will be ready to play." [...] Continue Reading »
For those of you with access to cable TV during the middle of the work day, or for those of you at home tired of watching Billy Mays and Cash 4 Gold commercials, ESPN will be airing Tommy Hanson’s spring training debut today at 1 p.m.
Hanson, the No. 4 prospect in our top 100, isn’t scheduled to start today for the Braves against the Astros, but he should pitch the third and fourth innings. Just thought you’d like to know.
When reporting on Canada for last year’s draft, I talked to a scout who had seen a lot of Brett Lawrie last spring. He was convinced Lawrie would hit as a pro and compared him to Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla .
Now Lawrie will get to make that comparison look even smarter. The Brewers’ 2008 first-round pick, drafted as a catcher, will play second base this spring, according to BA correspondent Tom Haudricourt. According to Haudricourt, part of this move is calculated, as Lawrie believes he can move quicker at a position where he’s familiar, and part of it is an acknowledgement of the depth of catching talent ahead of him in the farm system, with Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy.
The real thing to remember is that Lawrie’s best position is in the batter’s box—a lot like Uggla.
February 14 through February 20
Previous installment: Feb. 7-13
Signed: OF Jarred Ball
Removed from 40-man roster: RHP Jailen Peguero
Peguero, 28, lost his tenuous place on the 40-man when Arizona claimed another Triple-A righthanded reliever, Bobby Korecky, on waivers from the Twins. Peguero, who signed with the D’backs as a minor league free agent prior to the ’07 season, has been undermined by shaky control with Triple-A Tucson and in the big leagues. He’s walked 83 batters in 161 innings (4.6 per nine) in his two years in the organization.
Boston Red Sox
Signed: OF Brad Wilkerson
A quality regular in his mid-to-late 20s (and a key piece, along with Armando Galarraga, in the Rangers’ trade of Alfonso Soriano in December ’05), Wilkerson, now 31, hasn’t really been all that useful even versus righthanded pitchers since 2004, when he posted an .869 OPS against them. Working forward from ’05 to ’08, those figures have registered at .737, .760, .757 and .649. But because Wilkerson figures to be little more than Mark Kotsay (back surgery to remove fragments from a disc) insurance, he represents a worthwhile gamble for Boston. [...] Continue Reading »
Few teams can match the international scouting track presence of the Mariners.
It turns out that Nationals shortstop prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez isn’t 19. Or that is he is Esmailyn Gonzalez for that matter.
Instead, sources have told SI.com that Gonzalez is actually 23 and that his real name is Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo.
Gonzalez was BA’s No. 10 Nationals prospect entering this season, which will be his third since singing a controversial, $1.4 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic. But given the revelations about his age, Gonzalez certainly would not have made BA’s Nationals Top 10 list. In fact, as a 23-year-old with modest tools playing in the Gulf Coast League, he would not have ranked in the Top 30. [...] Continue Reading »
This installment details all transactions reported by MLB between Feb. 7 and 13. The previous installment is available here.
Signed: RHP Ryohei Tanaka
Removed from 40-man roster: 3B Scott Moore
The Orioles’ signing of Ty Wigginton bumped Moore, 25, off the 40-man roster. The eighth overall pick by the Tigers in 2002, he joined the Orioles in the 2007 trade that shipped Steve Trachsel to the Cubs. Moore, a lefthanded-hitting third baseman, has tantalized in short stretches (see his .256 isolated power in Triple-A in 321 at-bats in ’07), though he generally has struck out a bit much for a player with just modest power.
Unlike the Orioles’ other offseason Japanese import, righty Koji Uehara, the 26-year-old Tanaka has minimal top-level experience, having spent most of his career with Chiba Lotte in the minors. A Marines’ first-round pick in 2001, he struck out five, walked 10 and allowed 11 runs in 10 innings in 2003, his lone big league exposure with Chiba Lotte.
Jarrod Dyson became the second Royals minor league in less than a month to be handed a 50-game drug-related suspension.
The Commissioner’s office on Saturday slapped Dyson with a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for an amphetamine, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention Program. In late January, the Commissioner’s office announced that infielder Jason Taylor was facing a 50-game suspension for test positive for a recreational drug.
Dyson, 24, was Kansas City’s 50th-round pick, 1,475th overall, in 2006. An outfielder from Southwest Mississippi JC, he hit just .260/.337/.288 with eight doubles but no home runs and 24 RBIs in 288 at-bats in the Carolina League last season. Speed has been Dyson’s biggest calling card throughout his career–he has 61 career steals in 154 games, but only 19 extra-base hits and no home runs in 486 career at-bats.
The career of Matt Bush did not end with the Padres designating the righthander for assignment last week. Instead, the Blue Jays decided to give Bush a change of scenery Tuesday, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft for a player to be named.
Bush gives the Jays 27 pitchers on their 40-man roster. He did not pitch in 2008 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he had after moving from shortstop to pitcher in 2007.
Bush takes the place of BA diarist Dirk Hayhurst on the 40-man roster. Hayhurst, like Bush, pitched in the Padres farm system previously, and Hayhurst made his major league debut last year with San Diego.
Bush also gives the Jays two of the eight players drafted first overall in drafts this decade, as they also put in a waiver claim this offseason on 2002 No. 1 pick Bryan Bullington. While, unlike Bush, Bullington has reached the majors, he’s in the discussion for being one of the least successful No. 1 picks ever, as he’s still searching for his first big league victory.
This installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Jan. 31 to Feb. 6. The previous installment is available here.
Reinstated from inactive list: RHP Kevin Thompson
Released: LHP Jake Stevens
A third-round pick in 2003 from Cape Coral (Fla.) High, Stevens ranked as the Braves’ top lefthanded pitching prospect entering the 2005 season, coming off a 9-5, 2.27 campaign with low Class A Rome that featured more than a strikeout per inning. He hit a wall with high Class A Myrtle Beach, though, and compiled a 5.42 ERA in 296 innings at the level from 2005 to 2007—while playing home games at Coastal Federal Field, one of the best pitcher’s parks in the minors. Stevens retired in August 2007 at age 22 and had been inactive prior to his release.
Signed: LHP John Parrish
Released: RHP Jason Mills
Parrish, 31, returns to the Orioles, the organization for which he has spent at least part of the year with in 12 of his 13 pro seasons. His 2002 and 2006 campaigns were wiped out by injury, but the 1996 25th-round pick is coming off one of his best efforts: 10-1, 2.97 with 100-39 K-BB in 91 innings for Triple-A Syracuse (Blue Jays). [...] Continue Reading »
Two first-round picks were designated for assignment Thursday, with the Blue Jays removing Russ Adams from the 40-man roster to make room for lefty Brian Burres, and the Padres doing likewise with Matt Bush to sign Cliff Floyd.
Bush’s case has been more celebrated because he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2004, but he’s given only a glimpse of having that kind of talent. He was a compromise pick from the outset, taken when the Padres decided to settle for someone other than their top choices of Stephen Drew, Jeff Niemann and Jered Weaver. All three of those players have at least reached the majors, with Drew and Weaver establishing themselves as solid big leaguers.
Fernando Martinez is hurt—again.
The Mets’ No. 1 overall prospect was enjoying a stellar campaign in winter ball, dominating the Dominican League during the regular season and hitting a pinch-hit home run in the Caribbean Series.
But now Martinez, who turned 20 in October, is heading back to New York to have his right elbow checked out, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.
"I felt my elbow tighten up the day before yesterday (after throwing)," Martinez said. "It was a little swollen. It’s better. I feel I can play again. I don’t think I need to fly to New York to get a check up but the Mets want me to."
Since signing for a seven-figure bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2005 and making his debut in 2006, Martinez has racked up a medical file that includes (with regular season games played in parentheses):
Let’s continue our journey through the later rounds of the draft. Just like yesterday, we’ll take a final look at prospects who were drafted in the eighth and ninth rounds. I’m less sanguine about these players compared to some of the guys we hit on yesterday, but developing an eighth- or a ninth-round pick into a major leaguer should always be seen as a success.
Bobby Parnell, rhp, Mets: Parnell struggled in his last two years at Charleston Southern, where had difficulties throwing strikes and finished with an 8.86 ERA in his final college season. He dropped to the Mets in the ninth round in 2005, but he’s been moderately successful as a pro, posting a 4.04 ERA in 470 minor league innings. Parnell, who turned 24 in September, has a good fastball that helps him generate strong ground ball rates. He came up through the minors as a starter but made six appearances for the big league club last year out of the bullpen, a role that might better leverage his skill set. Parnell walks too many batters (4.0 per nine innings in Double-A last year, 3.9 per nine in his minor league career) and doesn’t have a high strikeout rate (6.4 per nine in Double-A) despite the positive reports on his stuff. Parnell sits in the low-90s as a starter, but he’ll pitch regularly at 93-94 mph and touch 97 in relief, which could result in more strikeouts. If he can throw more strikes, he could be a productive reliever.
Clayton Richard, lhp, White Sox: If you throw enough strikes and keep hitters off balance with your pitch sequencing, you can have success at the minor league level. Whether Richard can replicate his minor league success into steady big league production remains to be seen. An eighth-round pick out of Michigan in 2005 who turned 25 in September, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Richard is a physical pitcher without power stuff. His fastball velocity is average, though the sink on the pitch helps keep the ball on the ground. His changeup is his go-to secondary pitch, but his offspeed stuff is generally fringy. There are a lot of fungible fifth-starter types around the league that Richard will try to differentiate himself from, but by already reaching the big leagues, he’s made it farther than most eighth-round picks.
Florida made a great decision in the 2000 draft.
The Marlins held the No. 1 overall pick that year and used it to select Adrian Gonzalez out of Eastlake High in California. Gonzalez ranked ninth on Baseball America’s Top 100 draft prospects list entering the draft, with BA noting that Gonzalez was "seen as a Mark Grace clone with a little more power" and "an accomplished defensive first baseman who’s agile around the bag."
As Jim Callis wrote before the draft that year, teams had difficulties lining up their draft boards due to the lack of a distinct spread in talent among the top handful of potential draft picks:
This year, the consensus is that there’s no consensus. Scouts say that the gap in talent between the eventual top pick and a mid-first-rounder will be as small as it has ever been.
"It’s the most confusing top group in the 13 years I’ve been scouting," says Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff, who will make the second overall pick on June 5. "That’s not to say there won’t be a bounty of major leaguers down the line, but it’s a rather chaotic, confused mix of talent."
Radcliff was right. The first round of the 2000 draft yielded little talent beyond Gonzalez, and some of the best players available signed in the later rounds. Tampa Bay selected Rocco Baldelli with the sixth pick out of Bishop Hendrickson High in Rhode Island, Philadelphia scored UCLA’s Chase Utley 15th overall and the Braves drafted Adam Wainwright 29th from Glynn Academy in Georgia. Five of the other top 10 picks have never even reached the big leagues, and the other three—Adam Johnson, Lou Montanez and Mike Stodolka—have had minimal big league impact.
Yesterday we looked at five players drafted in the 10th round or later—excluding draft-and-follows and signability players—who could beat the odds and become contributors at the big league level. Here are five more players who fit that profile:
Marlins righthander Pascual Arias, who pitched in the Dominican Summer League last season, has been slapped with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, the Commissioner’s office announced Tuesday.
The Commissioner’s office said it was for metabolites of Stanozolol.
Arias, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound righthander, turned 20 last September. He was 0-1, 4.50 with 26 strikeouts and eight walks in 24 innings.
His suspension will begin at the start of the 2009 season.
The Super Bowl is peak timing for sports clichés.
Inevitably, a player feels the need to spout off some version of the insufferable "nobody gives us any respect" platitude. And, if we’re lucky, we get players from both teams telling us how disrespected they feel.
It’s a tired line for a professional athlete competing in his sport’s championship event, but for late-round major league draft picks, this phrase does hold some merit. Whether it’s having to defer playing time or a promotion to a higher profile prospect in the organization, or getting the attention of scouts in other organizations, it’s often an uphill battle.
The reasons these players fell in the draft in the first place—often a major question about bat speed, the hit tool, fringy pitch quality (especially fastball velocity) or a mechanical abnormality—usually follow the player into pro ball. But the longer a player performs well and the higher in the minors he continues his success, the more those doubters steadily become believers.
This installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Jan. 24 to 30. The previous installment is available here.
Removed from 40-man roster: 1B Oscar Salazar
While the 30-year-old Salazar was by no means an integral part of the Orioles’ future, his strong performance in 2008 sure seems like it should warrant a more extended big league look. The righthanded batter hit .316/.371/.512 for Triple-A Norfolk, in a tough hitting environment, and then provided value to Baltimore in September, when he batted .295/.403/.475 in semi-regular play. Remarkably, Salazar was playing in the Mexican League just three seasons prior—and he didn’t play at all in 2006—making his breakout all the more impressive. But now after designating Salazar for assignment (to make room for free agent Gregg Zaun), the Orioles will attempt to re-sign him to a minor league deal—assuming that he passes through waivers.
Note: Transactions reader Vincenzo informs us that Salazar did in fact play in 2006. He led the Italian Baseball League in doubles (17) and slugging (.524). See his full note in Comments below.
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Charlie Zink, OF Chip Ambres
Signed: RHP Matt Herges, RHP Mauro Zarate, OF George Lombard [...] Continue Reading »
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog