February 28 through March 7
Previous installment: Feb. 21-27
Signed: 3B Antonio Perez
Placed on restricted list: OF Rashod Henry
Outrighted to Triple-A: RHP Anthony Lerew
The Nationals released Perez during spring training last year and the 29-year-old minor league veteran failed to latch on with another affiliated club. He saw action in six Dominican League games last December, playing second base (which he hadn’t done with regularity since 2005) and batting .222/.300/.444 in 18 at-bats. Considered a fine prospect as a teenage shortstop (he and righthander Jake Meyer were the key minor league pieces in the Reds’ trade for Ken Griffey Jr. nine years ago), the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Perez lost the agility to play up the middle regularly as he aged and his bat didn’t quite develop enough to hold down a corner position.
The Braves removed Lerew, 26, from the 40-man roster to clear space for Tom Glavine. Once regarded as the Braves’ top pitching prospect, Lerew had Tommy John surgery in June 2007 and missed most of the ’08 season while rehabbing. He returned last July to go 1-4, 4.14 with 22 strikeouts, 20 walks and five home runs allowed in 37 innings for Triple-A Richmond. Here’s what we wrote about him in the 2006 Prospect Handbook:
No. 4 Anthony Lerew, rhp
Born: Oct. 28, 1982. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—Wellsville, Pa., 2001 (11th round). Signed by: J.J. Picollo.
Lerew is a poster boy for the Braves’ extensive scouting efforts, as they spotted him though he was more of a football standout in high school. He took off on the mound in 2004 when he added 4-5 mph to his fastball. He pitched in the Futures Game in 2005 and made his major league debut in September. Scouts love Lerew’s loose, easy arm action, which produces an explosive plus fastball that sits at 91-94 mph. He’s aggressive and shows no fear in going after hitters. His command and the overall quality of his pitches improved in 2005. An outstanding athlete, he has the mindset and ability to start or relieve as needed. On occasion, Lerew loses the feel for his otherwise solid changeup, which has good late action. He’s still fine-tuning a slider that’s a plus pitch at times. The Braves would like Lerew to get at least another half-season in Triple-A. They believe he could mirror Kyle Davies and step into the Atlanta rotation if needed in mid-2006.
Signed: RHP Adam Eaton, 1B Oscar Salazar, 3B Scott Moore
Signed: 3B Corey Koskie
Released: C Tony Richie
It’s taken Koskie two and a half years to fully recover from post-concussion syndrome symptoms, but he’s been cleared to play for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic and compete for a bench job with the Cubs. It may be the perfect storm for the 35-year-old veteran, given how far to the right Chicago’s lineup leans. Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press caught up with Koskie in spring training and details not only his long road to recovery, but also his strained relationship with the Brewers, his former employer.
Signed: RHP Greg Jones
Voluntarily retired: 3B Dustin Realini
Placed on restricted list: RHP Kevin Dixon, RHP Sandy Mendez
Signed: OF Lew Ford
Ford, 32, returns from a year spent with Hanshin of Japan’s Central League. He batted .225/.292/.364 in 129 at-bats for the Tigers.
Signed: LHP Neal Musser
Kansas City Royals
Signed: RHP Ryan Acosta, LHP Bruce Chen, LHP John Foster
Chen, 31, missed much of 2007 and all of ’08 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. His comeback included an encouraging turn in the Puerto Rican League last winter (1-1, 2.45 with 18-9 K-BB in 26 innings) and a return engagement at the top of Panama’s World Baseball Classic rotation this spring.
Los Angeles Angels
Signed: RHP Brad Knox
Los Angeles Dodgers
Signed: RHP Tim Corcoran, 2B Zach Penprase
Designated for assignment: RHP Justin Orenduff
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Justin Orenduff, LHP Greg Miller
Orenduff, a supplemental first-round pick in 2004, lost his 40-man roster spot when Manny Ramirez re-signed. Of course, with his campaign for Triple-A Las Vegas last year (3-7, 6.55 with 142 hits allowed and 66 walks in 110 innings) he didn’t do too much to cement his place on the roster. Corcoran (who played for the Marlins in ’08) and Penprase (Red Sox) signed out of an open tryout.
New York Mets
Signed: LHP Ron Villone
New York Yankees
Placed on restricted list: OF Michael Jones
A 29th-round pick by New York last June, Jones forfeited his football scholarship for his senior year at Arizona State to sign with the Yankees last summer. A wide receiver, he returned to the gridiron and led the Sun Devils with 10 receiving touchdowns last fall, and now he’ll ready himself for April’s NFL draft. Jones played baseball at ASU for three seasons but batted just .184/.273/.286 in 49 at-bats last summer in his pro debut with the GCL Yankees.
Signed: LHP Andy Sisco
Released: RHP Kevin Bunch
Outrighted to Triple-A: 2B Yung Chi Chen
Sisco, 26, missed the entire 2008 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery he had last April. He opted for free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to the minors with the White Sox. As a big league Rule 5 pick with the Royals in 2005, Sisco struck out 76 batters in 75 innings, portending good things for the 6-foot-10 rookie lefthander. Unfortunately, he also walked 42 batters that season, and he had not fine-tuned his control at the big league level in three seasons (5.7 walks per nine in 148 innings).
Signed: RHP Dustin Cameron, RHP John Ennis, RHP Jonathon Velasquez, LHP Sean Thompson, C Brendan Akashian, C Josh Arhart, SS Korby Mintken
Released: RHP Jesse Oster
Akashian, Cameron, Mintken, Thompson and Velasquez all signed out of a tryout camp. All are new to affiliated ball, save for Thompson, a 26-year-old curveball specialist who signed with the Padres as a fifth-round pick in 2002. He bounced from the Royals to the Rockies in July ’07 waiver claims before earning his release during spring training last year. He latched on with Camden of the independent Atlantic League and went 1-4, 6.80 with 34 strikeouts and 23 walks in 42 1/3 innings.
San Diego Padres
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP Wilton Lopez
San Francisco Giants
Placed on restricted list: OF Damon Wright
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Kelvin Pichardo, RHP Keiichi Yabu
Signed: RHP Daniel Rodriguez
Toronto Blue Jays
Outrighted to Triple-A: RHP Bryan Bullington, LHP Fabio Castro
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