Get a good pitch to hit is a ubiquitous tenet of hitting in player development systems across baseball. A walk represents success because it moves the chain along without costing an out, but the walk is an outcome of waiting for a good pitch to hit. A hitter with a tiny walk rate (particularly coupled with a high strikeout rate) in the minor leagues can be a sign of a hitter with pitch recognition issues.
Hitters can get by in the lower levels of the minor leagues with great tools and a terrible approach, but more advanced pitchers in Triple-A and the majors will pick them apart with superior stuff and superior ability to locate their pitches. (Conversely, polished hitters who rely on a selective approach in the lower minors but lack major league-caliber tools can also see their production dissipate as they progress, but for today we’ll just focus on the impatient.)
Can an impatient approach work for some players? Sure, but it’s rare to see and usually is reserved for the freakishly talented who have the ability to barrel up balls at an elite rate and have above-average power. So which hitters saw their prospect status take a hit because of their free-swinging ways? These four fit the bill (note that UIBB stands for unintentional walks, while I have removed intentional walks from each player’s plate appearances count):
Villalona, 19, turned himself into police the next day after the man was shot in a bar in La Romana. According to the AP report, Villalona will appear in court on Monday and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Giants in an official team statement today said: "The Giants were disappointed to learn that there was an incident in the Dominican Republic last night in which an individual was killed and one of our minor league prospects, Angel Villalona, may have been involved. We will monitor the situation closely and trust that the judicial process in the Dominican Republic will resolve the matter promptly and fairly."
Villalona signed with the Giants out of the Dominican Republic in 2007 for $2.1 million, a franchise record for an amateur signing bonus at the time. Villalona spent the 2009 season with high Class A San Jose in the California League, where his prospect status dropped as he hit just .267/.306/.397 in 74 games.
Update: Villalona told Dominican newspaper Listin Diario that he is "inocente" of the charges filed against him.
Team USA clinched a spot in the third round of the 2009 World Cup the same way it has won seven straight games in the event—with home run power and good starting pitching.
Daniel Descalso (Cardinals) and Buck Coats (Blue Jays) hit solo home runs, and Terry Tiffee (Phillies) had four hits and a pair of RBIs, as the Americans beat Mexico 7-3. Trevor Reckling (Angels) went five solid innings for the victory, and four relievers, chiefly Ehren Wassermann (White Sox) and Nate Field (Marlins), wrapped up with four scoreless innings of relief.
Team USA out-hit Mexico 13-4, but two errors helped lead to a pair of unearned Mexican runs, and Mexico pulled within 5-3 after six innings. Tiffee helped the Americans put things away with an RBI double in the seventh, and he scored the game’s final run on a sacrifice fly by Pedro Alvarez (Pirates). [...] Continue Reading »
Puerto Rico ended Cuba’s unbeaten run at the World Cup, leaving the Netherlands as the lone unbeaten team in the tournament.
Friday’s highlights, which do not include a game for Team USA, as the Americans were rained out of their scheduled game with Australia:
• Luis Matos, the former Orioles outfielder, broke a 2-2 tie with an eighth-inning leadoff homer, and former big league veteran Tony (a.k.a. Jose) Valentin later cracked a two-run double as Puerto Rico used veteran bats and young pitching to beat Cuba 5-2. Valentin and Raul Casanova had two hits apiece, while three relievers held Cuba to two hits in four scoreless innings as Puerto Rico matched Cuba’s 4-1 second round record. A pair of former college pitchers, Florida International alum Miguel Mejia (Tigers) and Bethune-Cookman alum R.J. Rodriguez (Pirates), followed a scoreless frame from 20-year-old lefty Nelvin Fuentes (Twins) in Puerto Rico’s strong bullpen effort. Cuba’s runs both came on solo homers by Alfredo Despaigne and Ariel Pestano. Rodriguez was especially impressive, working through the middle of Cuba’s lineup in the eighth and working around a leadoff double. [...] Continue Reading »
We recognized a handful of the great pro debuts by older players in the Rookie-level Appalachian League earlier this month. Since I’m ranking prospects for both that league and its Upper Rockies equivalent, the Pioneer League, it seems only fair to give them both equal play.
The tricky part about evaluating Pioneer League batters’ performance is the league’s high-offensive environment. It’s just a different brand of baseball than that featured in the majority of minor leagues.
Consider that the average Pioneer club scores 5.37 runs per game, compared with an average of 4.78 in the Appy. The average Pioneer batter hits for more (isolated) power than his Appy counterpart—.135 versus .127—but interestingly, the leagues’ home run rates are virtually identical at 0.7 per nine innings. Most of the extra offense appears to come virtue of singles, which is evident in the Pioneer League’s .273 league batting average—16 points higher than the Appy. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA continued its power trip in the World Cup, and Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) took the baton from Justin Smoak (Rangers) to carry the load this time.
Alvarez hit three of Team USA’s six home runs, as the Americans won their sixth straight game, beating Taiwan 14-3 in Torino, Italy. Team USA put up seven runs in the first inning, with Alvarez blasting a three-run homer as part of the rally.
Alvarez homered again in the second inning, making it 10-0, and the Americans had five homers over the next three innings. Jon Weber (Rays), who’s hitting a team-best .480, had a two-run shot, while Terry Tiffee (Phillies) and Lucas May (Dodgers) hit solo homers in the fourth inning. Later that inning, Alvarez finished the U.S. scoring with his third homer, making it 14-0. [...] Continue Reading »
This time: Sept. 7-13
Previous installment: Aug. 27-Sept. 6
As was the case last time, the torrent of temporarily inactivated players here are largely participants in the World Cup. Check out the Transactions Glossary for the key to deciphering the various inactive lists presented here.
Recalled: C Luke Carlin, OF Trent Oeltjen
Placed on 7-day DL: 1B Ernesto Mejia
Reinstated from DL: LHP Mariano Gomez
Acquired: LHP Sean Henn from Twins for future considerations
Recalled: RHP Chris Lambert, RHP Bob McCrory, LHP Chris Waters
Added to 40-man roster: LHP Sean Henn, C Guillermo Rodriguez, 2B Justin Turner [...] Continue Reading »
Cuba shutout rival Venezuela, while the host Dutch pounded Spain to highlight World Cup action Wednesday in Europe.
In the Netherlands:
• The Dutch beat Spain 10-5 to move to 3-0. A seven-run second made it 9-0 for the fightin’ Rod Delmonicos, and the Netherlands held off a Spanish rally to stay unbeaten in the second round.
• Norge Vera and Yadier Pedroso combined on a four-hitter as Cuba beat Venezuela 10-0. The two teams have had some testy games over the last few years, but this one was a yawner on the scoreboard. Alfredo Despaigne hit yet another home run in the fourth inning, his fourth of the event; he’s 10-for-21 overall in six victories. [...] Continue Reading »
With top prospect Justin Smoak (Rangers) leading the way with five, the United States entered Tuesday’s game against Japan with 14 home runs, more than any of the 22 nations involved in the 2009 World Cup.
Behind two more homers—including the sixth of the tournament by Smoak—Team USA held off Japan 4-2 Tuesday to win its sixth straight game at the World Cup, while improving to 3-0 in the second round of the event. [...] Continue Reading »
Cuba remained the last unbeaten team at the 2009 World Cup, while Team USA remained one of the hottest terams, against cruising to an easy victory Monday. The Americans beat Netherlands Antilles 11-1 in seven innings as Justin Smoak (Rangers) hit two more home runs, giving him five for the event in five games.
Smoak’s pair of homers included a three-run shot during a six-run seventh inning, as well as a solo shot in the fifth. Team USA’s first two runs also came on solo shots by Lucas May (Dodgers), in the second, and Jon Weber (Rays), in the fifth. The Americans lead the event with 14 home runs.
Meanwhile, Team USA continued to get sterling starting pitching, as lefthander Kasey Kiker (Rangers) combined with righthander Lucas Harrell (White Sox) on a two-hitter. Kiker walked five in four innings and gave up a run but also allowed only one hit while striking out seven. Harrell, who was credited with the victory, struck out two and allowed only the one hit. [...] Continue Reading »
For the third straight game, Team USA got a dominant performance at the World Cup from its starting pitcher. This time, it came against a team with some recognizable names in the lineup.
Padres farmhand Cory Luebke struck out 10 Canadians and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Team USA cruised to an 8-0 victory at Reggio Emilia, Italy, in in the second round of World Cup play. In its previous two games, the Americans got big efforts from Trevor Reckling (Angels), who struck out 11 against China, and Todd Redmond (Braves), who pitched eight two-hit, scoreless frames against Germany on Friday.
But Luebke was the story as he dominated a fairly talented lineup that includes Futures Game MVP Rene Tosoni (Twins), whom he fanned twice, as well as Brett Lawrie (Brewers), Tim Smith (Royals) and Shawn Bowman (Mets), who struck out in each of his three plate appearances. [...] Continue Reading »
The first round of the 22-nation World Cup is complete. After four days of games at five sites in Europe, Team USA is 2-1 with its 8-0 victory Saturday against China, a loss that eliminated the Chinese one year after they seemed like an emerging baseball nation with a strong Olympic showing in Beijing.
Team USA got 11 strikeouts in seven shutout innings by lefthander Trevor Reckling (Angels), who gave up just three hits and three walks. The Americans broke open a close 2-0 game with six runs in the eighth, with the big hits coming on a two-run single by Terry Tiffee (Phillies) and a three-run homer by Josh Kroeger (White Sox).
Tiffee also homered in the second inning for a 2-0 lead and had four RBIs on the day.
Joining China among the eliminated clubs are four other winless teams: Sweden, Croatia and the Czech Republic, which were all hosts of first-round games, as well as South Africa. The other 1-2 team eliminated was Germany, also a first-round host, whose only win came against China and which was beaten 12-1 Saturday by Venezuela. [...] Continue Reading »
Todd Redmond (Braves) took a perfect game into the seventh inning and allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings as Team USA rebounded from an opening-game loss in the World Cup. The Americans beat host Germany 9-1 in a game televised on MLB Network, played in front of nearly 10,000 fans in Regensburg, Germany.
Redmond’s bid for perfection ended on a slow roller to third base off the bat of Dominik Wulf. Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) fielded and made a strong throw to first that was slightly off-line, and first baseman Justin Smoak (Rangers) and Wulf collided. Wulf was credited with a hit, and Smoak was slightly injured, holding his right wrist, but he stayed in the game. Germany later got a second, cleaner hit by DH Michael Franke.
Team USA struck first with a solo homer by Ike Davis (Mets), then got three more in the third off German starter Tim Henkenjohann, a former Twins farmhand. Buck Coats (Blue Jays), Smoak and Trevor Plouffe (Twins) also homered to build the lead to 9-0, before Germany scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to avoid the shutout.
Smoak’s homer was his third in two games, while Davis had three hits to pace the 10-hit American attack. Redmond went eight innings while striking out seven to earn the victory. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA blew a 7-2 lead and wasted two home runs by Rangers prospect Justin Smoak, losing its World Cup opener 13-9 to Venezuela in extra innings. Team USA gave up two grand slams, one in the top of the 11th to former Red Sox farmhad Dirimo Chavez, in the loss at in front of 4,200 at Armin-Wolf Baseball Stadium in Regensburg, Germany.
Chavez hit his homer off losing pitcher Nate Field (Marlins) to give the Venezuelans the final margin of victory. Because this is international baseball, the extra-inning rule was in effect—the speed-up rule that puts runners on base and none out in the 10th inning. Both teams scored two runs in the 10th, but the U.S. couldn’t answer Chavez’s blast in the 11th, as Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) and Jason Castro (Astros) were retired and Tug Hulett (Royals) struck out to end it against 22-year-old ex-Blue Jays farmhand Robert Zarate, a lefthander. [...] Continue Reading »
This time: Aug. 27-Sept. 6
Previous installment: Aug. 23-29
Three notable items regarding this installment: 1) Clubs called up a slew of young players with the expanded September rosters; for the most part, only those who were still needed for their clubs’ minor league playoffs were left behind on the farm; 2) Teams remained active up to the Aug. 31 deadline to trade players who had cleared waivers; doing so allowed those players to be eligible for postseason play with their new clubs; and 3) The torrent of temporarily inactivated players here are largely participants in the World Cup.
Check out the Transactions Glossary for the key to deciphering the various inactive lists presented here.
Recalled: RHP Bryan Augenstein, RHP Billy Buckner
Added to 40-man roster: RHP Daniel Cabrera
Placed on temporarily inactive list: 2B Ruben Gotay
Recalled: RHP Manny Acosta, RHP Luis Valdez, C Clint Sammons, 2B Brooks Conrad, OF Brian Barton, OF Jordan Schafer
Added to 40-man roster: RHP Vladimir Nunez
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Luis Valdez
Outrighted to Triple-A and removed from 40-man: OF Brian Barton
Reinstated from DL: LHP Chad Rodgers, Jordan Schafer
Placed on temporarily inactive list: RHP Jon Huber, RHP Todd Redmond (Team USA), C Matt Kennelly (Australia)
Reinstated from inactive list: RHP Jon Huber
Kennelly is playing for Australia in the World Cup, while Redmond is on Team USA.
Baseball’s World Cup opened play Wednesday in four European cities. The day’s biggest news probably was the more than 5,000 fans that showed up in Regensburg, Germany, to see the host country pound China 14-1 in seven innings. Just last year, China impressed scouts with a gritty, resourceful team in the Beijing Olympics, but Germany has been the most improved nation in European circles in recent years under the leadership of coach Greg Frady, whose full-time job is being the head coach of Georgia State.
In other games, Australia—with six Twins farmhands on the roster—defeated the host Czech Republic 17-4 in Prague. Playing at home in Barcelona, Spain beat South Africa 15-0, with Orioles farmhand Danny Figueroa (better known perhaps for his playing days for the Miami Hurricanes) going 3-for-4. And the Netherlands Antilles beat host Sweden 10-8 in a game that drew more than 1,200 fans to a new ballpark in Sundyberg, just outside Stockholm.
Team USA plays its first game Thursday in Germany against Venezuela. On Sept. 11, Team USA’s game with the host Germans will be broadcast on MLB Network at 1 p.m.
As most of you already know, Madison Bumgarner made his big league debut Tuesday night, pitching into the sixth inning with no decision in the Giants’ 4-3 loss to the Padres. That’s big news, for several reasons.
First, let’s appreciate that Bumgarner has been the best pitcher in the minor leagues the last two seasons—and it’s really not close. The lefthander is 27-5, 1.65 over 273 innings in 2008-2009, with 107 innings coming this year at Double-A Connecticut. Bumgarner has a sterling 256-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio overall and gave up just nine home runs in the minors, though he allowed a pair in his debut last night.
While Bumgarner maintained a sterling strikeout rate in the high Class A California League earlier this season, his rate dipped to just 5.8 per nine innings in the Eastern League. The main culprit for that decrease has been the decreased fastball velocity that was on display last night in the big leagues. He threw 76 pitches, according to MLB’s Pitch F/X data, and 48 were fastballs, most of which checked in around 88 mph. [...] Continue Reading »
With general manager Mike Rizzo no longer sporting an "interim" ahead of his title, changes have started coming to the Nationals organization. On Saturday, the Nationals fired farm director Bobby Williams and minor league hitting coordinator Ralph Dickenson.
Williams spent three years as the Nats’ farm director, the same length as Dickenson’s tenure. Former GM Jim Bowden had hired both men, making it absolutely no surprise that both were let go. However, former Reds manager Bob Boone, who came with Bowden to the Nats, remains as the assistant GM/vice president of player development.
With the seasons over for all their affiliates, the Nationals’ minor league teams finished with a .501 cumulative winning percentage at 380-378, the second straight winning season in the organization.
The regular season concluded on Monday for most of the minor leagues, so we present here the 10 best and 10 worst clubs from the 10 full-season leagues. And as for short-season ball, the Pioneer League slate stretches until Friday, leaving time for the Orem Owlz to make a run at No. 1.
The DNP column indicates the number of scheduled games that were canceled. In the case of Brevard County, they lost an astounding 13 Florida State League contests because of rain or wet grounds.
|TOP 10 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
|5||Brevard County||79||48||.622||Florida State||HiA||Brewers||13||6-4|
|10||Kannapolis||82||57||.590||South Atlantic||LoA||White Sox||1||5-5|
Best Of The Best: Sacramento (AAA), Birmingham (AA), San Jose (HiA), Fort Wayne (LoA). [...] Continue Reading »
First base prospects have little margin for error.
Many of the best major league first basemen—Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis, Jim Thome and Carlos Delgado, among others—began their careers at other positions.
There are exceptions, like Prince Fielder, but minor league first basemen usually have to have pretty special ability at the plate to become major league regulars, as first former top 100 prospects Jason Hart, Eric Munson and Calvin Pickering and others have found out.
High Class A Salem’s Anthony Rizzo is already at first base, but his skill set at the plate and in the field makes the Red Sox prospect more well-rounded than most minor league first basemen.
The lefthanded Rizzo, who turned 20 last month, reached base twice on a pair of line-drive singles to left field yesterday at Winston-Salem.
"The barrel of his bat is in the zone for a long time," Salem manager Chad Epperson said. "That’s special for a kid his age. So many guys that age are just flying open, flying open. He’s not—it’s in the zone for a while. He’s very mature for his age, on and off the field."
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