Major League Baseball announced today that it has suspended Brewers minor league righthander Pedro Lambertus for 50 games. He tested positive for metabolites of Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.
The 20-year-old, who signed with the Brewers out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, was 0-1, 4.91 with three strikeouts and three walks through 3 2/3 innings, covering three relief appearances, for low Class A Wisconsin.
Less than two years ago, the Cardinals’ Tyler Greene appeared to be just another wayward first-round pick who could never find the right offensive groove or even catch the necessary breaks.
Today, the Triple-A Memphis shortstop is getting his big league callup now that St. Louis is placing utility infielder Brendan Ryan on the disabled list, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [...] Continue Reading »
Carlos Santana’s a little more famous than he was a year ago.
Now he’s finding out that pitchers approach a top prospect differently than they do a guy who struggled to hit .223/.318/.370 the previous season in low Class A. Through 18 games, Santana’s batting average is .244, though his .387 OBP and .569 slugging average are still well above league average in the Double-A Eastern League. Yesterday was arguably Santana’s best game of the season, as he went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two walks. He also threw out the only runner attempting to steal against him, making him 7-for-15 in that department this year.
"Now he’s in the four-hole for us, he’s all over Baseball America," said Indians farm director Ross Atkins. "Every time you pull up a web site, his picture’s on it. I think that guys know who he is. He’s the only guy hitting in that lineup, so they’re pitching around him a little bit, but he’s taking advantage of it. When he hits a mistake, he drives it and I think you’ll see his batting average creep up, as it already has."
Third baseman Conor Gillaspie broke out of a 2-for-19 slump by going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs. Of course, it just so happens that Gillaspie’s San Jose Giants were visiting Lancaster’s Clear Channel Stadium, the home of still 25 mph winds and one of the most extreme hitter’s environments in baseball.
Gillaspie, the Giants’ 2008 supplemental first round pick from Wichita State, made headlines last year when he negotiated a big league callup as part of his deal with the Giants. Sure enough, Gillaspie became the first ’08 draftee to reach the majors and singled off Diamondbacks righthander Dan Haren for this first big league hit. Gillaspie went on to go 1-for-5 in eight big league appearances.
Back in the minors in the high Class A California League to start 2009, Gillaspie has gotten off to a little bit of a scuffling start. Before Tuesday’s outburst, his line had sunk to .239/.370/.328 through 67 at-bats. His four hits Tuesday raised his average nearly 40 points to .278/.402/.389. While he hasn’t hit for much power yet, with only five doubles and one home run to his credit, Gillaspie’s pitch recognition skills have still been on display as he’s already drawn 15 walks in 19 games. [...] Continue Reading »
Jordan Walden, rhp, Angels: Has any organization had a worse April than the Angels? With key injuries in the big league rotation and lineup, an 8-11 start (third in the American League West), the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and having a pair of their top pitching prospects go on the seven-day disabled list last week, it hasn’t been the best of times for the Angels. Now Walden is on the DL, too, with inflammation in his right elbow. The Double-A Arkansas righthander was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.
Lorenzo Cain, cf, Brewers: Cain didn’t join Double-A Huntsville until April 20 after nursing a sore hamstring back to health. He returned for four games, then injured his left knee while attempting a diving catch at Carolina on Thursday. The speedy 22-year-old will miss four to six weeks with a torn posterial cruciate ligament, a much better diagnosis than what was originally feared as a possible season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear.
Kelvin De La Cruz, lhp, Indians: Hard to script a better start to a season than what de la Cruz, Cleveland’s top starting pitching prospect, had for high Class A Kinston in his first two starts. He pitched 12 innings, posting a 1.50 ERA with two walks and 19 strikeouts. But the Indians had to scratch 20-year-old Dominican from his next scheduled start on April 19 with tightness in his left forearm, and he hasn’t pitched since. The Indians could know more in a few days when de la Cruz goes to Cleveland to see the team’s medical staff there.
Pitching for high Class A Brevard County, Brewers righthander Evan Anundsen has thrown the 2009 season’s first true no-hitter. That is, Anundsen—and Anundsen alone—held Daytona hitless for nine innings. The low Class A Hickory Crawdads, led by four innings from Martin Perez, threw a combined seven-inning no-hitter against Bowling Green on April 11.
The Florida State League contest’s 10:35 a.m. start time may have contributed to the sluggishness of the Cubs’ bats, but it did little to slow Anundsen, Milwaukee’s fourth-round pick in 2006 from Columbine High in Littleton, Colo. The 20-year-old struck out 10 Daytona batters, while walking one and hitting another in improving his season line to 2-2, 1.44 through four starts. He has struck out 25, walked eight and allowed no home runs in 25 innings.
Anundsen went a modest 12-8, 4.28 in 28 starts for low Class A West Virginia last season, his first year in full-season ball. He never struck out more than eight batters in any one start in ’08, but he now has registered a nine- and a 10-strikeout game this season.
A groundball pitcher, Anundsen throws his fastball in the mid-80s but with good sink. Last year he compiled a 2.71 groundout-to-airout ratio; this year, it’s a healthy 1.82. He’ll mix in a curveball and a changeup, but he relies on inducing opponents to put the ball in play, usually on the ground, early in counts. This morning, he recorded 11 outs via the ground, and just six in the air. [...] Continue Reading »
Mets 24-year-old left fielder Daniel Murphy is batting .309/.385/.443 through his first 221 big league plate appearances. That’s excellent production from someone who essentially is a rookie. It’s especially impressive considering Murhpy’s draft status. A 13th-round pick in 2006 as a Jacksonville junior, Murphy rocketed through the minors, busting out at Double-A Binghamton last season and making his big league debut last August, little more than two years after being drafted.
We know players like David Wright and Mike Pelfrey because of their first-round pedigrees, but it’s players like Murphy, who seemingly come from nowhere, who are a testament to an organization’s amateur scouting and player development efforts.
If you have a copy of our 2009 Prospect Handbook, you know the Mets’ top prospects already, but here we offer a watch list of prospects off the beaten path, presenting two each from the organization’s four full-season affiliates. (Well, OK, not all of the players here are under the radar—but the ones who are somewhat known are at least unconventional.) [...] Continue Reading »
This time: April 19-24
Previous installment: April 11-18
I’ve been meaning to get to this for some time, but a reader’s comment on last week’s transactions blog finally prompted me to act. Here for the first time is a Transactions Glossary to help you decipher the various inactive lists used by major league organizations on the minor league side of things.
Signed: LHP Clay Zavada
Signed: RHP Manny Acosta, RHP Charlie Morton, OF Gregor Blanco
Released: OF Joe Borchard
Recalled: OF Brandon Jones
Optioned to Triple-A: OF Brian Barton
Placed on 7-day DL: C Jose Camarena, SS Chais Fuller, OF Willie Cabrera
Reinstated from DL: RHP Erik Cordier, 1B Greg Creek, SS Chad Lundahl
Reinstated from inactive list: RHP Vladimir Nunez
Off to a .119/.245/.214 start in 12 games for Triple-A Gwinnett and facing the prospect of decreased playing time with the acquisition of Barton, Borchard drew his release by the Braves. Though he’s spent six of the past seven years rooted almost exclusively in Triple-A, batting .275/.351/.481 with 119 home runs, the 30-year-old switch-hitter has lived a charmed life. The 12th overall pick out of Stanford in 2000 by the White Sox, Borchard signed for $5.3 million, which at the time was the record for a player who signed with the club that drafted him. (The record stood until 2005 when Justin Upton got $6.1 million from the Diamondbacks.) But despite their cash outlay, the White Sox never did hand the keys to center field over to Borchard, who batted just .191/.254/.342 with 93 strikeouts in 328 plate appearances for the big club from 2002 to 2005. Once his minor league options expired, in 2006, Chicago traded him to the Mariners for lefty Matt Thornton—who also was considered a busted first-round pick at the time. And as it’s played out, that ’06 season was the only one in which Borchard did not spend any time in the minors. He batted .230/.319/.393 in 270 PAs as a part-timer for the Mariners and Marlins, after he joined Florida on a waiver claim in May. [...] Continue Reading »
KINSTON, N.C.—The last time we caught up with Lonnie Chisenhall, the Indians’ 2008 first-round pick had made the conversion from shortstop to third base and couldn’t wait to end spring training in order to launch his first full season in the minors.
The locale then was Arizona.
On Saturday, not from where he spent a year playing juco ball, Chisenhall appeared right at home at high Class A Kinston and billboard-lined Grainger Stadium.
It’s a cozy place where hot dogs cost a very affordable $2, and the overhang above the grandstand provides a nice old-time feel, with the clubhouse providing plenty of elbow room.
For Chisenhall, it had been a week in which he cracked grand slams on back-to-back nights in Myrtle Beach and, adding to the drama, in town was Lynchburg which includres 2008 second overall pick and third baseman Pedro Alvarez. [...] Continue Reading »
Another season, another reason to believe Twins first baseman Henry Sanchez will not be able to fulfill his prodigious power potential.
The 2005 supplemental first-round pick—drafted 39th overall and signed for $900,000—was suspended Friday for 50 games for testing positive for a drug of abuse, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment program.
Sanchez, 22, played high school ball with 2004 No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush at Mission Bay High in San Diego. He has had injuries throughout his career but also has just never hit. In four seasons he has just 310 at-bats and has hit .216/.297/.358, with eight home runs. He was 3-for-13 for low Class A Beloit this season prior to the suspension. [...] Continue Reading »
You won’t find betting lines on minor league games in Las Vegas, but if you did it would be hard to find a much bigger favorite than Great Lakes heading into Thursday’s game against the Dayton Dragons.
The Dragons rolled into the game a woeful 1-11, while Great Lakes was sending 2008 first-round pick Ethan Martin to the mound against Curtis Partch (0-2, 8.03) and the Dragons.
It was, as you would expect, a Loons’ win. Martin threw five shutout innings before handing it off to the bullpen in a 10-0 Great Lakes’ victory. The loss was Dayton’s 11th straight, as they dropped to 1-12. [...] Continue Reading »
Desmond Jennings’ potential is tantalizing.
The Rays’ Double-A Montgomery center fielder has a combination of elite athleticism, speed, strike-zone discipline and feel for hitting that few prospects in the minor leagues can match.
The 22-year-old’s early-season performance isn’t too shabby, either. Through 13 games, Jennings is batting .377/.431/.679, including four doubles, three triples, two homers and six steals in six attempts. Jennings went 5-for-6 with a triple on Saturday, then followed up the next day by going 3-for-3 with a triple and a home run. That makes yesterday’s 1-for-3 with a home run, a stolen base and a hit-by-pitch look modest by comparison.
Jennings has an excellent approach at the plate, which has led to his walks being nearly equal to his strikeouts the last two years. He stays balanced at the plate and keeps his head locked in, then has the hand-eye coordination to regularly put the barrel of the bat to the ball.
“Very good strike zone management,” Montgomery manager Billy Gardner Jr. said. “He doesn’t get fooled very often. He gets on a fastball good, he stays on the ball well and he uses the entire field to hit. He’s got some jump in his bat—the ball comes off his bat really well.” [...] Continue Reading »
Low Class A Lakewood righthander Jason Knapp turned in perhaps the most dominant performance by a prospect so far this year. The 18-year-old second round pick from last year’s draft fired seven shutout, one-hit innings against Lake County while striking out 14 Captains hitters and issuing only one walk.
"He can throw three pitches for strikes and he’s done so at any time in the count," Lakewood manager Dusty Wathan said. "He had all three working yesterday. He got a lot of swings and misses with his fastball. It was a pretty thing to watch."
Knapp’s plus fastball gets the most notice, and deservedly so. The young righty can already bring mid-90s heat, and he hit 96 mph in his outing yesterday. When he complements the fastball with an effective curveball and changeup, which he did yesterday, the results can be spectacular. [...] Continue Reading »
Mason Tobin, rhp, Angels: The Angels placed Tobin, their No. 10 prospect, on the seven-day disabled list after Tobin left Wednesday’s game against Visalia with shoulder soreness, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:
"We’ll have to wait and see," Quakes manager Keith Johnson said. "We’ll see how he is in a few days, and if he feels OK, he’ll start throwing on the side. There is no timetable."
In his third appearance of the season, Tobin entered the game in the eighth inning and recorded two outs, but left after allowing four runs (none earned), two walks and one hit. Tobin was limited to 37 1/3 innings last year, when he strained his shoulder and didn’t pitch after June 6.
Befitting of a man who stands 6-foot-10, big things have been expected from Yankees righthander Andrew Brackman since he signed for $4.55 million as the 2007 draft’s 30th overall pick. It mattered little that he didn’t pitch during the 13 months from May 2007 to last September, when he debuted in Hawaii Winter Baseball.
Tommy John surgery and a subsequent appendectomy knocked Brackman out for the entire 2008 slate, and when the 23-year-old North Carolina State product returned to the mound last fall, he was understandably rusty. Twice he gave up seven runs in HWB starts, and he led all pitchers with 25 walks and 13 wild pitches. Despite the uneven results—including a 5.56 ERA—he ranked as the league’s No. 2 prospect, a testament to his, well, big arm.
Because he signed a major league deal, Brackman received an invitation to big league camp this March, but he lasted just three one-inning outings before being optioned to the minors . . . all the way to low Class A Charleston. [...] Continue Reading »
This time: April 11-18
Previous installment: April 4-10
Recalled: RHP Bobby Korecky
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Billy Buckner
Released: 1B Ryan Voelkel
Recalled: RHP James Parr, LHP Jo-Jo Reyes
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Charlie Morton, C Clint Sammons
Placed on 7-day DL: LHP Lee Hyde, LHP Chad Rodgers, LHP Cole Rohrbough, 2B Diory Hernandez
Reinstated from DL: RHP Tim Gustafson, LHP Kevin Gunderson, LHP Juan Perez
Placed on temporarily inactive list: RHP Vladimir Nunez
Reinstated from inactive list: OF Antonio Perez [...] Continue Reading »
It’s only Monday, but here’s a pretty safe prediction. When our second Prospect Hot Sheet comes out on Friday, you’ll probably see Jupiter outfielder Mike Stanton’s name on it.
Stanton went 8-for-11 this weekend with as many home runs (3) as outs. He also walked three time, drove in eight runs and scored five. After going 1-for-3 on Friday night with a home run, he went 2-for-3 on Saturday with another homer, and followed it up by going 5-for-5 with a home run and a double on Sunday. At this rate, anything short of a home run every time up on Tuesday (the Hammerheads have Monday off) will rank as a disappointment.
Like most Florida State League parks, the ball doesn’t carry particularly well in Sarasota. But Stanton’s raw power can make any park play like Mile High Stadium when he gets a hold of one. He hit a home run to left center field this weekend that landed on the backfields at the complex.
A scout who saw Stanton this weekend was understandably impressed. [...] Continue Reading »
Two Royals minor leaguers were suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball yesterday for failing tests for performance-enhancing substances.
Low Class A Burlington shortstop Juan Rivera, 22, tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone. He had played in three games for the Bees this season, going 2-for-9 (.222) with a walk and three strikeouts. Signed out of the Dominican by the Dodgers in 2003, Rivera was traded to Kansas City last June for Angel Berroa.
Catcher Joe Billick, 23, finished last season with Burlington but had not yet made his debut this season. A 19th-round pick in 2007 from Southern Poly State (Ga.), he batted .240/.387/.340 in 21 Midwest League games last season. Billick tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol.
Had a tourist passing through northeastern Florida on Thursday veered off to the city of Viera just to say they wanted to catch the high Brevard County Manatees (Brewers) against the Tampa Yankees, they may have assumed the Manatees’ starting pitcher had really ticked off the bench.
After all, manager Mike Guerrero came out with the hook in the top of the third inning.
But we’ll let Mark Rogers tell the rest of the story.
"My manager came out tonight and said, ‘You’re out of bullets.’ I felt like I could have gone longer," Rogers said. "My goal is to pitch in the major leagues. And as bad as I wanted to throw 25 to 30 more pitches because I love to compete, I had to look at the bigger picture."
The bigger picture being his presence on the mound every five days. That is, consistently on the mound every five days. [...] Continue Reading »
If you had Mariners righthander Juan Ramirez pegged for greater things, well, then you’re not alone. He fanned 113 Midwest League batters last season in 124 innings, all while showing markedly-improved command. And after two starts for high Class A High Desert this year, the 20-year old Nicaraguan was 2-0, 0.79.
While one might hesitate to call Ramirez’s start to the season dominating—mostly because he’s walked five and struck out just four through 11 1/3 innings—he clearly has been unhittable. And that’s true regardless of which definition one uses. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Ramirez has limited California League batters to a .111 average (4-for-36), allowing just one home run, which he surrendered at Stater Bros. Stadium, his home turf in Adelanto, Calif.
One scout who saw Ramirez last season raved about the easy 92-94 mph velocity and plus life that the pitcher generates. And it’s that ability to keep the ball off the barrel of opposing batters—and to keep it on the ground—which has most benefited him in the hostile Cal League. Thus far, he’s recorded 21 groundouts and nine flyouts, good for a 2.33 ratio. [...] Continue Reading »
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