On the same weekend that the Rays traded away their ace of the past, Jeremy Hellickson showed once again why there is hope that he could be an ace of the future.
Hellickson reached double digits in strikeouts for a third consecutive start. This one was his best start as a pro, and one of the best any pitching prospect has put together all year: eigh innings, one hit, two walks and 12 strikeouts in a 4-0 win against Gwinnett. A Brian Barton sixth-inning single is the only blemish that kept Hellickson from taking a no-hitter into the ninth. No Gwinnett baserunner reached second base against him. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA will have two of the best hitting prospects in the minor leagues when it competes in the World Cup next month.
Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak and Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez are among the players who will play for Team USA, which begins World Cup play Sept. 10 against Venezuela in Regensburg, Germany. The gold medal game is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Rome, Italy. Team USA is the defending champion, having defeated Cuba 6-3 in the 2007 gold medal game in Taiwan.
The rest of Team USA’s roster is listed below, along with each player’s organization and age:
GREENSBORO, N.C.—While Jordan Lyles is the best pitching prospect with low Class A Lexington (and arguably the best pitching prospect in the Astros’ entire farm system), a handful of other young pitchers threw for the Legends in their recent four-game series at Greensboro as well:
Ross Seaton, rhp: Seaton, 19, had the worst start of his career on Friday, allowing nine runs in 3 1/3 innings. Seaton allowed nine hits and three walks, striking out just two of the 22 batters he faced. Seaton’s ERA is still solid at 3.39 through 24 starts with just 2.6 walks per nine innings, though the 2008 third-round pick is averaging just 5.6 strikeouts per nine.
His fastball sat at 88 mph, ranging from 87-91 mph and touching 92 once. After racking up a high pitch count by the third inning, he was in the 86-89 mph range.
An old baseball adage is that the hardest jump a player has to make in the minor leagues is the one from high Class A to Double-A. So what about when a player jumps straight from high Class A to Triple-A?
That hasn’t fazed Buster Posey, the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft who’s been tearing up the Pacific Coast League in August and looks poised to take over as the Giants’ big league catcher next season.
The Giants kept the 22-year-old catcher in high Class A San Jose to open the season. Not suprisingly, Posey had little trouble chewing up the hitter-friendly California League, batting .326/.428/.540 with 13 home runs over 291 at-bats. Posey still ranks as the Cal League’s leader in throwing out basestealers, having caught 31-of-63 (49.2 percent) in 64 games behind the plate.
Rather than send Posey cross-country to Double-A Connecticut, the Giants decided to promote him straight to Triple-A Fresno in mid July. Posey needed some time to catch up to the speed of Triple-A ball, hitting just .235/.333/.314 in his first 14 games, but he’s been on fire since the calender turned to August. Posey has homered five times already in August while raking to the tune of a .362/.441/.724 line in 58 at-bats.
"He’s got the whole package," Fresno manager Dan Rohn said. "He’s pretty disciplined at the plate. If he gets fooled once, he makes the adjustments. He’s made some nice adjustments to offspeed pitches at this time. He’s definitely got power to all fields. He’s a kid that’s going to just get better and better."
This time: Aug. 16-22
Previous installment: Aug. 9-15
The final draft signings trickled in, and now only ’09 picks with no college eligibility remaining may sign. Numbers in parentheses indicate draft rounds. Visit our Draft Database for school and signing information. Subscribers can view scouting reports for many top picks as well as search for players by last name or state.
Check out the Transactions Glossary for the key to deciphering the various inactive lists presented here.
Draft picks signed: 3B Bobby Borchering (1), 3B Matt Helm (7)
Recalled: 1B Brandon Allen
Optioned to Triple-A: 1B Josh Whitesell
Option transferred: RHP Bryan Augenstein (Triple-A to Double-A)
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Jarrod Parker, SS Yunesky Sanchez
Reinstated from DL: RHP Bryan Augenstein, RHP Daniel Cabrera, RHP Cesar Valdez
Released: C Phillip Britton, 3B Eric Campbell, SS Robert Marcial
Added to 40-man roster: OF Reid Gorecki
Reinstated from DL: C Jose Camarenas, 1B Ernesto Mejia
Placed on 7-day DL: LHP Scott Diamond, LHP Kevin Gunderson, 3B Adam Coe, 3B Stephen Shults
After eight seasons in the minors, mostly in Double-A, Gorecki earned a big league shot at age 28. A righthanded hitter, he batted a solid .286/.351/.464 for Triple-A Gwinnett, contributing 27 doubles and stealing 14 bases in 106 games. He’s a fundamentally sound defender in center and right field, with an arm that racked up 10 assists in International League play and garnered attention in our Best Tools survey. A Cardinals 13th-round pick in ’02 out of Delaware, Gorecki made his way to the Braves after he drew his release from St. Louis at the end of spring training ’08. [...] Continue Reading »
While the parent Mets still wait for their first-ever no-hitter, one of the franchise’s minor league arms accomplished the feat Sunday while pitching for short-season Brooklyn.
Pitching on the road, 23-year-old righthander Brandon Moore held Aberdeen hitless for seven innings in the first game of a New York-Penn League doubleheader. While the game may have been abbreviated in length, the no-hitter still was the first in the history of the Cyclones, a Mets affiliate since their inception in 2001.
Though he relies on command and mixing his pitches, Moore was uncharacteristically wild during Sunday’s start, walking three batters and plunking another one. Those four free handouts were the most he had permitted in any of his 11 starts this season. Moore struck out six IronBirds batters during his no-hitter, even though three times this season he had fanned nine batters in a game.
“I really don’t think he was spotting his fastball like he normally does,” said Brooklyn manager Pedro Lopez, who also worked with Moore last year while with Rookie-level Kingsport of the Appalachian League. “He was working a lot of 2-0, 3-0 counts, but in the end he was able to make pitches to get those flyball and groundball outs.” [...] Continue Reading »
It took five at-bats, but Wil Myers wouldn’t have wanted his first professional hit to come any other way.
On Thursday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium, no more than 45 minutes away from Myers’ hometown of Thomasville, N.C., the 18-year-old catcher played in his second game for Rookie-level Burlington. The first had been as a DH. Slotted fifth in the Royals’ order, the righthanded-hitting Myers didn’t get a chance to bat in the first inning.
But as the second hitter of the second inning, Myers turned on an up-and-in, 91 mph fastball from Johnson City righthander Zach Russell and deposited it well over the left field fence. The confrontation played out thusly: He took a first-pitch fastball, check-swung at a curveball in the dirt and then took a fastball away. Russell actually held a 1-2 advantage when he threw his fourth pitch to Myers.
Not for long. [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball has issued a press release announcing the coaching staff for the 2009 World Cup Team coaching staff. Team USA coaching veteran Eddie Rodriguez will be the manager and lead a staff that includes pitching coach Kirk Champion, hitting coach Ernie Young, Jamie Quirk and Rolando "Roly" de Armas.
Rodriguez, who has been a coach for the Expos, Mariners, Blue Jays, Nationals and Diamondbacks, was the third base coach for the 2000 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic Team in Sydney. Young was a member of the 2000 team as well, though as an outfielder. [...] Continue Reading »
DURHAM, N.C.–Minor leaguers are prepared (and want) to change teams during the season. Yet White Sox righthander Dan Hudson’s experience has been more nomadic than usual.
Hudson, a fifth-round pick last year from Old Dominion, began the year in low Class A Kannapolis. Four months later, Hudson is in Triple-A Charlotte after stops in high Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. With a late-season promotion to Chicago still a possibility, Hudson will have crossed paths with nearly everyone in the organization.
Pitching yesterday at Durham, the 22-year-old Hudson allowed one run in five innings, surrendering two walks and six hits while striking out four. Through three starts with the Knights, Hudson’s ERA is now 2.81 in 16 innings with 12 strikeouts and five walks. On the season, Hudson has a 2.26 ERA in 139 1/3 innings with 154 strikeouts (third-most in the minor leagues) and 30 walks.
"He pitched pretty good considering that he didn’t have real good command of his pitches," said Knights pitching coach Richard Dotson. "He battled well and he showed an excellent changeup, so he did what he was supposed to do."
It’s been awhile since we presented the best and worst full-season minor league teams, so we’ll take the opportunity to bring that to you today. Records are through games of August 18. The caret (^) indicates a team that did not appear in our last ranking.
|TOP 7 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
|4||Brevard County||69||41||.627||Florida State||HiA||Brewers||W4||7-3|
Dropped Out: Lakewood, .569.
|BOTTOM 7 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
Dropped Out: Arkansas, .412; Altoona, .418; Kinston, .429.
Rays minor leaguer Darin Downs is in serious but stable condition in a Birmingham, Ala., hospital after being struck in the head by a batted ball Monday night.
Downs, 24, has a cracked skull, brain swelling and some facial paralysis, according to a source. He’s in intensive care at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham. He was struck in the head in the fifth inning of his start for Double-A Montgomery, facing host Birmingham. With runners on first and second, Christian Marrero hit a liner back through the box that struck Downs in the head; the force of the carom sent the ball into the Birmingham dugout, and the play was ruled a run-scoring ground-rule double.
Downs was expected to have surgery to repair of of the damage once the swelling goes down somewhat, but he had not had surgery as of Monday afternoon.
Downs was having his best season, making his second start at Double-A after going 12-4, 2.00 at high Class A Charlotte in the Florida State League.
The draft signing deadline has interrupted our minor league Best Tools coverage for the time being, but don’t worry—the Class A leagues are coming. If you missed it, you can find the Triple-A Best Tools here.
In last Tuesday’s Daily Dish, we examined a few of the most hotly contested batting categories in the International League. Let’s turn our attention to pitchers this time. But before we dive in . . . I asked a few IL managers for their take on how they approach the voting process for the Best Manager Prospect category, because it may seem a bit nebulous.
"Managing against good managers here, every day there’s something to learn," Gwinnett’s Dave Brundage said. "And we’re not done learning, either. I like to watch how a team plays because, really, your team is an extension of the coaching staff. You want your passion to show to your players."
Added Durham’s Charlie Montoyo: "That’s a tough one. I like the managers who just let the players play, and not the ones who make all sorts of moves, thinking it’s about them. The guys who work hard before the game starts and during it, those are the managers who get my attention." [...] Continue Reading »
This time: Aug. 9-15
Previous installment: Aug. 3-8
Numbers in parentheses indicate draft rounds. Visit our Draft Database for school and signing information. Subscribers can view scouting reports for many top picks as well as search for players by last name or state.
Check out the Transactions Glossary for the key to deciphering the various inactive lists presented here.
Draft picks signed: LHP Patrick Schuster (13), SS Chris Owings (1s)
Released: LHP Anthony Smith, 3B Ramon Ramirez
Recalled: LHP Daniel Schlereth
Added to 40-man roster: 2B Rusty Ryal
Optioned to Triple-A: OF Chris Young
After coming within three steals of a 30-30 rookie season, Young has done precious little with his subsequent 1,065 plate appearances. In the two seasons since ’07, he’s hit just .230/.308/.415 with 29 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Add in 260 strikeouts—a whiff in nearly 28 percent of his at-bats, which would be acceptable if he was hitting for plus power—and Young’s demotion to Triple-A ought to be beneficial to both parties. He’s still just 25 years old.
Signed: RHP Buddy Carlyle
Draft pick signed: LHP Mike Minor (1)
Released: RHP Rafael Cruz
Optioned to Triple-A: SS Diory Hernandez
Option transferred: RHP Stephen Marek (Triple-A to Double-A)
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP James Parr, LHP Richard Sullivan, 2B J.C. Holt
Reinstated from DL: 3B Wes Timmons, OF Jon Owings
Reinstated from inactive list: RHP Rafael Cruz [...] Continue Reading »
The Royals are showing again this August that they are willing to spend money in the draft.
Last year, Kansas City spent more on its draft than any other team, doling out a team-record $11.1 million in bonuses, and this year the Royals have spent more than $4.5 million with first-round pick Aaron Crow still unsigned.
Much of the Royals’ spending sprees have been fueled by taking highly-rated players whose asking price has led them to slip in the draft–like third-round catcher Wil Myers and fourth-rounder Chris Dwyer this year and fourth-rounder Tim Melville last year.
But the Royals have also shown a willingness to take risks on players whose draft stock has slipped because of injury. Although it’s way too early to make any judgements, Kansas City is hoping that some patience with righthander Keaton Hayenga and lefty John Lamb could pay off in the long run.
Last week’s vote that kept baseball out of the Olympics may have been a permanent blow to the sport’s relationship with the Olympic movement.
Dr. Harvey Schiller, president of the International Baseball Federation, says in an e-mail newsletter that IBAF does not intend to push for baseball’s inclusion in the 2020 Games. In essence, Schiller says IBAF got the message loud and clear from the International Olympic Committee: Baseball is not wanted as part of the Olympics.
"At this point we do not think that would be prudent for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that baseball has now been rejected twice by the senior members of the IOC, which is a clear message that despite any changes we make, we are not part of their plan," Dr. Schiller wrote. "Also contrary to what we were originally told, the two sports that made it to the vote in Copenhagen, golf and rugby, have been informed they will be part of the programme in 2020. This was yet another clear message that the IOC has no interest in baseball.
"It makes much more sense to spend all our time, money and effort in continued development of the game around the world, as opposed to making futile attempts to work with a group that has no interest in partnering with baseball." [...] Continue Reading »
For the record, a pair of second-round draft picks recently were hit with 50-game suspensions for each testing positive for an amphetamine, a performance-enhancing substance under the minors’ drug-testing system.
• Nationals outfielder-turned-righthander Stephen Englund, 21, began serving his suspension on Aug. 11. Washington’s second-round selection in ’06 from Bellevue (Wash.) High, he had been in the process of converting to the mound when the suspension was announced. In three appearances for the Rookie-level GCL Nationals, Englund struck out four batters and walked none over 2 2/3 perfect innings of work. [...] Continue Reading »
At the start of the season the Nationals player development staff felt that righthander Bradley Meyers would likely need a full season in high Class A Potomac before progressing to Double-A Harrisburg in 2010.
In July they decided his performance merited a promotion.
"He got off to a great start in Potomac and showed us that he was ready for the next level," said Bobby Williams, the Nationals director of player development. "(He) forced us to move him (to Harrisburg)."
That great start was overwhelming. In 14 starts with Potomac, Meyers had a 1.43 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 88 innings. Meyers, 23, has recently overcome a minor foot injury and has seen his success carry over to Double-A, where he has a 2.65 ERA through four starts.
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Had Rangers lefthander Martin Perez been born in the United States instead of Venezuela, he would likely be twiddling his thumbs right now, waiting for the Aug. 17 draft signing deadline to sign as a first-round draft pick.
Instead, the 18-year-old Perez made his Double-A debut last night for Frisco as the youngest player in the minors above Class A.
Sure, Tulsa completely pasted Perez, who left after surrendering seven runs (six earned) in 2 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, one walk and striking out three.
But Perez is well ahead of schedule with the Rangers flooring the accelerator by skipping him over high Class A Bakersfield, promoting Perez from low Class A Hickory straight to Double-A.
In his final appearance for Hickory on Friday, Perez pitched one inning of relief, a scheduled bullpen outing designed to limit Perez’s innings, according to Crawdads manager Hector Ortiz.
Perez, who signed with the Rangers in 2007 as a high-profile 16-year-old prospect, sat with his fastball at 93-95 mph and touched 96. Perez showed a free-and-easy delivery, mixing in a curveball and a changeup. Perez left the league with a 2.31 ERA in 96 1/3 innings, averaging 10.1 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings.
Continuing our theme of taking a more in-depth look at some of our Best Tools Surveys, today we’ll examine the most intriguing race from the low Class A South Atlantic League: Best Pitching Prospect.
Pitching has been the league’s strength in 2009. While last season’s SAL featured a deep crop of hitters led by Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Jesus Montero and Freddie Freeman, this year, Hagerstown catcher Derek Norris was the only hitter to truly separate himself from the pack.
On the other hand, the league’s pool of quality pitchers has been significantly deeper. Only five pitchers appeared in our SAL Top 20 Prospect rankings last year, and only two of those (Madison Bumgarner and Jhoulys Chacin) made the Top 10. You should expect to see a lot more hurlers in those rankings this time around. A total of nine different pitchers received votes for Best Pitching Prospect, with the final outcome coming down to a last minute vote breaking a tie between West Virginia’s Rudy Owens and Lake County’s Jason Knapp.
The clash between Owens and Knapp is certainly interesting, given that the two are just about polar opposites as pitchers. Knapp is the power righthander who can throw in the mid 90s and Owens is the lefty who relies on fastball command and an outstanding changeup. Knapp, of course, was one of the pieces the Phillies used to land Cliff Lee from the Indians. The 18-year-old spent the first three months of the season with Lakewood, going 2-7, 4.01, before being shut down in mid July with shoulder fatigue. He made his Indians debut last night with Lake County, pitching two innings against Augusta and allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit. [...] Continue Reading »
At the end of July each year, we survey minor league managers so that we can get a handle on which players are the most talented in all of the 10 full-season leagues. We publish the results in our annual Best Tools package, which we begin rolling out here tomorrow. (Results also can be found in issue 0918, the one with Troy Tulowitzki on the cover.)
While many of the selection in the Triple-A International League were fairly obvious, a few categories could have gone either way. So to illuminate those selections, and to give readers an idea of what goes on behind the scenes, we’ll examine a few of the closer calls in the IL in today’s Dish.
You’ll find a number of IL position players in our end-of-season league top 20 ranking, but in what will soon become evident, pitching is the name of the game in ’09. Let’s take a closer look at those position players.
Norfolk’s Matt Wieters, our No. 1 prospect in the game heading into the season, is top dog in the IL. As a plus defensive catcher who hits and hits for power from both sides of the plate, he’s the definition of a franchise player. But that doesn’t mean Wieters cleaned up in our Best Tools survey. He garnered a lot of attention, but whether it was because of limited exposure in the league (163 plate appearances) or because other players have louder individual tools, Wieters did not win any of the seven categories for which he was eligible. [...] Continue Reading »
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