If you were looking up Matt Moore's game logs, no, that isn't a misprint.
In Moore's last start before yesterday, the Rays lefty threw seven shutout innings, walked one and struck out 10 for high Class A Charlotte. So what did Moore do yesterday? Seven innings, no runs, one walk, 10 strikeouts.
The game was Moore's third consecutive start with double-digit strikeouts and the fifth time in his last seven outings that he's struck out at least 10 batters. With 154 strikeouts in 111 innings, Moore has punched out one third of the hitters he's faced all year, but he's been at his best recently, fanning a remarkable 39 percent in his last seven starts.
Moore's fastball parks in the low-90s, but it's his knockout low-80s curveball that gives hitters fits. It's one of the best breaking balls in the minors, a plus or even a plus-plus pitch according to some scouts. One scout who saw Moore this year called him a future frontline starter in the big leagues with three plus pitches once his changeup becomes more consistent.
With Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays already have the best pitching prospect in baseball sitting in Triple-A because their big league rotation is stacked with quality young pitching. With Moore, the Rays have another one of the game's premier pitching prospects who could potentially become the best pitching prospect in baseball himself if he can refine his control.
We've written about how just how loaded the Phillies' low Class A Lakewood club is, but one name that we hadn't expected to see there anymore was righthander Trevor May. The 20-year-old was Lakewood's best pitcher down the stretch last year as the BlueClaws won the South Atlantic League title, going 4-1, 2.56 in 77 innings after joining the club last June.
Promoted to high Class A Clearwater to start this year, May's stuff hadn't gone anywhere—led by his 92-94 mph fastball—but his control had. May held opponents to a .212 average and struck out 90 in 70 innings for Clearwater. But he was his own worst enemy, walking 61 batters, beaning five more and throwing nine wild pitches in 16 outings. That wildness contributed to a 5.01 ERA and earned him a ticket back to Lakewood in early July.
May hasn't needed long to get comfortable in his old surroundings, however. He struck out nine hitters in two of his first three outings. Then came his start last night in Delmarva. May fanned seven hitters through the first three innings and went on to strike out 14 over seven shutout innings. He allowed just four hits—all singles, one of them a bunt single—and walked none, the first time all year he hasn't issued a free pass. The 14 punchouts were easily a career high for May (his previous was 10, done twice with Clearwater) and tied Lakewood's single-game franchise record. May improved to 3-1, 3.10 in 29 innings for Lakewood and 8-6, 4.45 in 99 innings for the year overall. [...] Continue Reading »
Major League Baseball identified 10 players who had violated terms of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. All 10 received suspensions for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The Dodgers' Prentice Redman received a 100-game suspension after testing positive for an amphetamine. It's his second violation in as many months, thus the hefty penalty. The Triple-A Albuquerque outfielder is currently serving a 50-game suspension and will begin his 100-game ban upon his return. All told, Redman will miss more than a year of the Pacific Coast League's 144-games season. [...] Continue Reading »
A rookie may have one foot in the door to big league success, but we like to think he still has his other foot in the prospect pool. So in what has become a midseason tradition, we bid adieu to young players whom we no longer get to cover in print or in cyberspace, not because they're unworthy but because they have lost prospect eligibility.
You may notice that this year's format is slightly altered. Rather than count down the top 20 rookies, we've organized the top first-half performers into a team—five starting pitchers, three go-to relievers, eight position players plus a DH. This results in a few notable omissions, such as Cubs corner outfielder Tyler Colvin, Rays righthander Wade Davis, Indians shortstop Jason Donald, Indians righty Mitch Talbot and Pirates second baseman Neil Walker. But we may hear from them, as well as stud catcher Carlos Santana, in our end-of-season top rookies feature.
Rookies are organized into four groups so that performances can be compared more directly. Players are divided into starting pitchers, relief pitchers, up-the-middle defenders and corner players, because no one ought to expect a middle infielder's raw offensive production to look like a corner outfielder's.
• High Desert second baseman Kyle Seager has hit in 31 straight high Class A California League games. The league record belongs to another Mariners farmhand, Jamie McOwen, who hit in 45 straight games for High Desert last July. During his streak, Seager has batted .429/.473/.647 (57-for-133) with five homers, 10 doubles and two triples. The ’09 third-round pick has not seen his production suffer as a result of playing different positions. During his hit streak, he's migrated from third base to second to shortstop and back to second. Seager's hitting .342 overall, second in the league behind since-promoted Brandon Belt, formerly of San Jose.
• Phillies second baseman Harold Garcia set a Florida State League record by hitting in 37 consecutive games earlier this season. Now, the 23-year-old has acclimated himself to Double-A by hitting in 10 straight Eastern League games. Yesterday, he went 1-for-4 for Reading. Garcia, who was eligible for last December's Rule 5 draft but went unselected, has hit .303/.403/.439 in 66 Double-A at-bats.
"He's really been locked in this season," high Class A Clearwater manager Dusty Wathan said earlier this season. "For a long time he would continue his streak on the first or second at-bat. He has a great swing that is made for hitting line drives to all fields. He is a switch-hitter and is better lefty, but this season he has swung the bat well righthanded, which was a knock on him.
"Going into last year everybody said, 'We don't know about his defense,' and then he was voted as the best defensive player in the Sally League, and now people are taking notice."
John Manuel gave his analysis of the prospects the Diamondbacks received from the Angels for RHP Dan Haren. Here's the video:
Here's our look at which prospects put together memorable weekends around the minors.
Peter Bourjos, cf, Angels: While the Angels were swinging a significant deal at the major league level to pick up Dan Haren, one of their best prospects in the minors was going on a tear for Triple-A Salt Lake. Bourjos went 10-for-14 this weekend with four doubles and two home runs. Bourjos is hitting .485/.519/.792 this month with 16 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases. [...] Continue Reading »
Another Friday brought another round of suspensions for performance-enhancing drug violations, this time with five minor leaguers suspended for 50 games.
• Nationals righthanders Juan Diaz and Jorge Hernandez, both pitching in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League;
• Marlins DSL righthanders Yeims Mendoza and Andy Parra;
• Indians righty Luis Morel, promoted this year from the DSL to the Indians' Arizona League squad.
This time: July 13-20
Draft pick signed: RHP Blake Cooper (12)
Released: C Chris Davis
Option transferred: RHP Bryan Augenstein (Triple-A to Double-A), LHP Leyson Septimo (Double-A to Triple-A)
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Bryan Augenstein
Reinstated from DL: LHP Mike Belfiore, C Sean Coughlin, 1B Bryan Byrne
Reinstated from inactive list: RHP T.J. Beam
Released: 2B Yoel Campusano, SS Amadeo Zazueta
Recalled: LHP Mike Dunn
Optioned to Triple-A: SS Brandon Hicks
Option transferred: LHP Lee Hyde (Double-A to Triple-A)
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Ernesto Silva, C Matt Kennelly
Placed on 60-day DL: RHP Reidy Escobar
Transferred to 60-day DL: RHP Brett Butts, RHP James Parr, OF Adam Milligan
Reinstated from DL: LHP Chad Rodgers
Placed on temporarily inactive list: RHP Andrew Wilson, C Orlando Mercado
Reinstated from inactive list: 2B Yoel Campusano, SS Luis Ramirez, SS Amadeo Zazueta, OF Geraldo Rodriguez
Yoel Campusano and Amadeo Zazueta, formerly of high Class A Myrtle Beach, served their 50-game drug suspensions and were shown the door.
Signed: C Greyson Schram (NDFA—Concord (W.Va.))
Draft pick signed: LHP Matt Drummond (20)
Released: RHP Pat McCrory, C Dennis Perez
Recalled: 3B Josh Bell
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Frank Mata, RHP Chris Tillman
Placed on 7-day DL: SS Mike Mooney
Reinstated from DL: RHP Travis Keating, OF Mike Planeta
A finalist for Division II player of the year honors, Greyson Schram ultimately finished fifth in the voting. Erskine College (S.C.) outfielder Bryan Fogle won the inaugural Tino Martinez award. [...] Continue Reading »
The Prospect Hot Sheet keeps getting better. Baseball America has partnered with FoxSports.com for a weekly video segment to go with the Hot Sheet, and this week J.J. Cooper checked in to discuss several of the players in contention for this week's Hot Sheet. [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced today that, effective immediately, minor league players will be subject to random blood testing for the detection of human growth hormone. The sport's minor league drug prevention and treatment program will manage the testing and assess penalties, as they already do for performance-enhancing substances and so-called drugs of abuse.
According to a Major League Baseball press release, the various minor leagues become the first professional sports leagues in the United States to conduct blood testing.
The National Center for Drug Free Sport, the organization that currently performs all urine sample collections under the minor league drug program, will perform all blood sample collections. All blood samples will be collected post-game from the non-dominant arms of randomly selected players (among those not on 40-man rosters). Blood samples will be shipped to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City for analysis.
“The implementation of blood testing in the minor leagues represents a significant step in the detection of the illegal use of human growth hormone," Selig said in a statement. “The minor league program employs state of the art testing procedures and the addition of HGH testing provides an example for all of our drug policies in the future.” [...] Continue Reading »
The Athletics have added one of the top catchers in Venezuela, agreeing to terms with Argy Raga today on his 16th birthday.
Raga, a righthanded hitter out of Caracas, is a former shortstop who has shown good athleticism and receiving skills since moving behind the plate. At around 6-foot, 180 pounds, Raga has also shown solid raw power for his age.
The A's have also signed another Venezuelan, 16-year-old Jesus Rivas, who has played third base and outfield. Rivas, who is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, has stood out for his raw power from the right side.
Raga and Rivas are the latest top Venezuelan signings for the A's in the recent weeks. Oakland also signed Venezuelan third baseman Renato Nunez for $2.2 million when the international signing period opened on July 2, giving the 16-year-old a bonus tied for the third-highest of any international amateur player in 2010.
On the heels of four suspensions last week for performance-enhancing substance and recreational drug use, Major League Baseball this week handed out six additional reprimands. The 50-game suspension for one of those players, Rangers outfielder Cristian Santana, is detailed here.
Most prominent among the new batch is veteran minor league corner outfielder Jon Weber, who drew a 100-game suspension following his third positive test for a drug of abuse. The 32-year-old voluntarily retired on July 16, three days before his suspension was announced.
In the midst of one of his worst seasons, Weber batted .257/.326/.340 with only one home run in 241 at-bats in the Triple-A International League. He began the year with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but the Yankees released him on June 3 so that he could seek greener pastures. Weber landed with Toledo, but neither his performance nor fortune improved in the Tigers system. [...] Continue Reading »
In terms of performance, there hasn't been a better pitcher in the minors lately than Lamb, who struck out eight hitters in 7 1/3 innings yesterday, allowing three runs but only one earned run to lower his ERA to 1.27 in 12 starts with high Class A Wilmington.
That earned run was significant, as it was the first time in 35 2/3 innings that Lamb had allowed an earned run, a stretch that spanned seven starts over the last five weeks. Lamb wasn't even on the mound when he technically allowed his first earned run since June 17, as he left the eighth inning with a runner on second base before the Blue Rocks' bullpen allowed the run to score.
Yeah, pitching your home games in Wilmington helps, but Lamb's numbers aren't coming from smoke and mirrors. Four of Lamb's last five starts have been on the road, his stuff is excellent and he's struck out 85 with 15 walks in 70 2/3 innings in the Carolina League.
Wednesday's Top Performers
• Brandon Belt, 1b, Double-A Richmond (Giants)
If you're trying to find any holes in Belt's performance to date, it's just nitpicking. After adding two more hits including a triple yesterday, Belt is hitting .381/.481/.644 with 63 walks and 62 strikeouts in 93 games between Double-A and high Class A San Jose. Any skepticism of Belt based on his college days at Texas or his fifth-round draft status isn't seeing the big picture either, as Belt has put in considerable work to overhaul his offensive game. Belt transformed his metal-bat swing and extreme closed-off stance and the adjustments have helped him see the ball better and leverage the ball with more authority when he connects. Not only can Belt hit, but the 6-foot-5, 195-pound lefthanded hitter can also move around well for a first baseman; with 15 homers and 18 stolen bases, Belt could become the rare first baseman to go 20/20 this year.
Indians righthander Carlos Carrasco is close to earning a spot in the Cleveland rotation, having gone 8-4, 3.98 at Triple-A Columbus this season. His stuff Tuesday night at Durham was as firm as it has been all season—a fastball sitting in the 94-96 mph range, an 85-87 mph changeup with depth and an improved slider with better depth at 82-84 mph.
"That was the best he's thrown really all year," Indians farm director Ross Atkins said Wednesday.
So the organization was holding its collective breath when Carrasco had to leave the start after just 3 1/3 innings after throwing a 1-2 pitch to Bulls cleanup hitter Dan Johnson. Carrasco walked off the mound and wound up pointing to his forearm while walking to the dugout. But Atkins and Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said the initial diagnosis is just cramping, and that the pain was on the outside of his forearm, a positive sign. Atkins said if the initial diagnosis is correct, Carrasco may not even miss a start.
"Our trainer (Jeff Desjardins) thought he was a little dehydrated," Sarbaugh said Wednesday morning. "Carlos might have been a little worried about it because he thought it could be serious, but hopefully, right now it seems like it's not." [...] Continue Reading »
Low Class A Hickory outfielder Cristian Santana was suspended 50 games by the commissioner's office after testing positive for formestane, a performance-enhancer, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Santana, 21, was hitting .260/.329/.469 with a team-leading 11 home runs for the Crawdads.
Perhaps it was too much rest. Triple-A Durham righthander Jeremy Hellickson, who had pitched just two innings in the Futures Game since July 5, tied a career high with five walks in an 8-3 loss to Columbus in a matchup of the two best teams in the International League.
Hellickson had his turn pushed back around the all-star break and struck out six but wasn't his usual sharp self. He walked the bass loaded in the fourth inning and lasted just 3 1/3 innings. His velocity was fine but he never quite got a feel for the strike zone with his fastball, which peaked at 94 mph, or his plus changeup. Nick Weglarz hit a solo homer off Hellickson in the second and wound up 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and the homer. Reliever Zach Putnam, a fifth-round pick in 2008 out of Michigan, made his Triple-A debut and threw two scoreless innings, striking out three. His fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range, complemented by a slider and split-finger fastball.
• Columbus, the Indians' top farm club, features a lot of the personnel that made Double-A Akron our Team of the Year in 2009, including manager Mike Sarbaugh. The 43-year-old skipper has won league titles in the Eastern (’09), Carolina (’06) and New York-Penn (’04) leagues. [...] Continue Reading »
After signing three of the top players on the international market in the last two weeks, the Mariners have announced the signings of three more pitchers out of Latin America, adding Luis Pina, Rigoberto Garcia and Erick Gomez.
Pina, who is 6-foot-2, 178 pounds, is a 16-year-old lefthander from Venezuela.
"He is accomplished, poised and already has good feel for pitching," Mariners vice president of international operations Bob Engle said in a release. "He will have to make some adjustments in his delivery as many young pitchers do, but physically (he) has ability to be solid in all areas."
Garcia, 16, is a 6-foot-5, 202-pound righthander from the Dominican Republic who could be the sleeper of the Mariners' signings, according to Engle, who noted that Garcia has some similarities to Mariners 21-year-old Triple-A righthander Michael Pineda when he signed in 2005.
This time: July 6-13
Be sure to check out our Draft Database for a more comprehensive look at recently signed draft picks.
An asterisk (*) denotes an instance of a player agreeing to terms on a minor league contract with an organization with which he already had a major league agreement.
Signed: LHP Rashad Tucker (NDFA—Missouri Baptist)
Draft picks signed: RHP Jeremy Erben (22), RHP Kevin Munson (4), RHP Jeff Shields (7), 2B Niko Gallego (27), 3B Stephen Cardullo (24), SS Mike Freeman (11)
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP T.J. Hose, RHP Brett Moorhouse, SS Chris Owings
Reinstated from DL: RHP Scottie Allen, SS Jake Wald, OF Chris Rahl
Kevin Munson, a fourth-rounder from James Madison, began his pro career with low Class A South Bend, tossing two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.
In an aggressive assignment for a 27th-round pick, the Diamondbacks sent Niko Gallego straight to high Class A Visalia, where he began 1-for-12. But then as the son of a 13-year big league veteran, Gallego is no ordinary 27th-round pick. Like his father Mike, a utility infielder for the A's, Yankees and Cardinals, Niko attended UCLA.
Signed: C Shawn McGill (Lincoln (American Association)), OF Brendan Rowland (NDFA—Albany)
Released: RHP Ryne Reynoso, 2B Travis Jones
Traded: LHP Jo-Jo Reyes and SS Yunel Escobar to Blue Jays for LHP Tim Collins, SS Alex Gonzalez and SS Tyler Pastornicky
Placed on military list: LHP Matt Fouch
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Luis De Luna, RHP Ernesto Silva, LHP Chase Shreve, C Chris Anderson, OF Josh Anderson, OF Bobby Hefflinger
Placed on 60-day DL: RHP Reidy Escobar
Reinstated from DL: RHP Steven Figueroa, LHP Alexis Pinto
Placed on temporarily inactive list: RHP Frank Lafreniere
Matt Fouch, a 34th-round round pick this year, appeared in a combined six games for Rookie-level Danville and low Class A Rome, striking out 10 and walking one, before the Army recalled him to active duty. The Braves to not expect him back this season. [...] Continue Reading »
You'd never know it by the big league club, but no organization is having a better year in the minor leagues than the Kansas City Royals.
Between Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer the Royals have a sextet of prospects who have taken serious strides forward this season. All six have produced on the diamond this season while also earning midseason promotions.
This weekend Hosmer made his Double-A debut. The first baseman had hit .354/.429/.545 at high Class A Wilmington, and about the only criticism that could be made about his season was his lack of home run power. He did hit 29 doubles, but he had only seven home runs for the Blue Rocks.
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