An asterisk (*) denotes a case in which a player has signed a minor league deal with the very club that outrighted him from its 40-man roster.
Signed: LHP Jordan Kendall (Tijuana (Golden)), 3B Russell Branyan
Released: C Ryan Babineau
Reinstated from inactive list: LHP Bayron Zepeda
Signed: RHP Andrew Russell
From the organization that brought you Peter Moylan comes Andrew Russell, a 26-year-old Aussie outfielder who will be converted to pitcher by the Braves. He last played for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League. Hard to argue with Atlanta's logic, seeing as the most successful Australia natives in the big leagues right now are righty relievers like Moylan, Grant Balfour and, well, I guess the Angels' Rich Thompson. [...] Continue Reading »
All offseason, fans (and us BA writers) have wondered if the Royals would set the record for most prospects on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects list. With nine among the Top 100 they have, but that may not fully explain how stacked this Royals list is.
Not every Top 100 Prospect is the same. A prospect in the top 10 is obviously much more likely to become a star than one sitting at No. 99. So to get a better sense of the best Top 100 classes of all-time, we derived a pretty simple formula–The No. 1 prospect received 100 points, the No. 2 prospect received 99 points and so on all the way down to the No. 100 prospect who received one point. At that point, we tabulated the highest point totals by team.
What we found is the 2011 Royals are the highest-ranked team of the Top 100 era, and it's not particularly close. The gap between the Royals and the third-place organization on our list is 102 points, which is more than the points awarded for having the No. 1 prospect on the list.
You could argue that the formula is a little too simplistic–prospects at the top of the list are significantly more valuable than prospects at the bottom of the list. No team would trade top prospect Bryce Harper for the No. 50 and 51 prospects on the list, but it is a nice and simple measure of the top prospect classes of all time, and tweaking the formula to add more weight to the top of the list would only add to the Royals point total, as they are the first team in Top 100 history with five prospects in the Top 20.
Here's a look at the Top 10 Top 100 classes of the past 22 years, with a look at which players panned out, playoff success and a summary of each team's class. [...] Continue Reading »
The revamped Baseball America News Feed index now points directly to all site content, blog content as well as individual BA Twitter feeds. Check it out, and just try to resist saying the word "feed."
Signed: LHP Jose Lugo, SS Chris Ahearn, OF Gavin Dickey (Lincoln (American Association))
Jose Lugo pitched to a 6.72 ERA with Triple-A Rochester last year, but his underlying performance suggests he's capable of more. He notched nearly two groundouts for every flyout last year, while striking out 84 in 86 innings. Walks continue to hold Lugo back. He hasn't recorded a rate of less than four per nine innings since pitching in short-season ball with the Twins. But a 27-year-old lefty who misses bats and generally keeps the ball on the ground is a nice find on the minor league market—even if his slider doesn't always slide. For Rule 5 draft buffs, you might remember Lugo's name from the ’08 edition. That year, the Mariners drafted but did not keep him. [...] Continue Reading »
The Twins have agreed to terms with Dominican righthander Felix Jorge for $250,000.
Jorge, who is around 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, has an 88-91 mph fastball that has touched 92. Jorge, a 17-year-old from Santiago, has a good delivery, a loose arm and shows feel for spinning a solid curveball.
Jorge became eligible to sign last year when the July 2 international signing period opened. He generated interest from scouts as one of the top pitchers in Latin America from last year's July 2 class, though inconsistent reports of his velocity hampered him last summer. Jorge recently threw well in front of more than 100 scouts at the Dominican Prospect League all-star game (subscriber-only) on Jan. 29.
Former White Sox director of player personnel Dave Wilder pleaded guilty today to federal charges of fraud in connection to skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from international signing bonuses.
Appearing in federal court in Chicago, Wilder pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. His sentencing date has not yet been set.
Wilder, who had joined the White Sox in 2003, was in charge of supervising the White Sox's scouting efforts in Latin America. According to an FBI indictment, Wilder allegedly stole $402,000 in bonuses as part of a kickback scheme that lasted from December 2004 through February 2008. The White Sox fired Wilder and two other scouts in 2008 amidst the FBI investigation.
A November story in Baseball America includes the details of the FBI's claims against Wilder and the White Sox's bonus skimming system.
According to Bloomberg.com, assistant U.S. attorney Christopher Veatch told the U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle today that one of Wilder's kickbacks was a payment of more than $20,000 for a $300,000 signing from Brazil. While the FBI indictment does not name any players, the White Sox signed Brazilian righthander Tiago Calixto for $300,000 in February 2008. Calixto, 18 at the time of signing, has yet to make it out of the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in three seasons, compiling a 5.40 ERA in 40 innings with 38 walks and 21 strikeouts.
Released: OF Cyle Hankerd
Removed from 40-man roster: RHP Rafael Rodriguez
A third-rounder from Southern California in ’06, Cyle Hankerd returned to USC as an undergrad assistant coach. Five seasons ago, he came out swinging in his pro debut, hitting .381 with 12 homers in 72 games. But Hankerd spent most of the past three seasons mired in Double-A, batting .254/.325/.361 in 1,206 plate appearances for Mobile. (Thanks to John Manuel for this update.)
Signed: RHP Rodrigo Lopez, C David Convertini (NDFA—Cedarville (Ohio))
Rodrigo Lopez and Elmer Dessens (who recently signed a minor league deal with the Giants) have proven durable into their mid-to-late 30s. They're ready and willing to fill holes at the back of a big league rotation or in the bullpen. All teams have to do is sign them to a minor league deal. In fact, Lopez and Dessens rank No. 2 and 4, respectively, for wins and innings pitched among Mexico-born pitchers in the past decade. Can you name the pitchers first and third place? [...] Continue Reading »
Dominican outfielder Gabriel Guerrero, the 17-year-old nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, has signed with the Mariners for $400,000.
Guerrero, a big-bodied 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthanded hitter, has shown good raw power and has made improvements at the plate and in the field since he became eligible to sign last year on July 2. He projects as a corner outfielder with a solid arm.
Enrique Soto, one of the most prominent trainers in Latin America, was arrested in the Dominican Republic yesterday and charged with sexually molesting two of his players, according to the Associated Press and other Dominican media outlets.
According to Dominican news reports, Soto voluntarily turned himself in to Dominican authorities. Several of Soto's players and their parents reportedly showed up to the courthouse to defend Soto against the allegations.
Soto, who is based in Bani, has trained big leaguers Miguel Tejada, Willy Aybar and Erick Aybar. In more recent years, he trained Mariners shortstop Jharmidy DeJesus and Dodgers third baseman Pedro Baez. Last year he trained shortstop Esteilon Peguero, whose $2.9 million bonus with Seattle was the No. 1 bonus for an international amateur signing last year before it was reduced to $1.1 million for undisclosed reasons.
Update: According to the AP, prosecutor Francis Valdez said the alleged incidents took place in 2003 involving two brothers, age 16 and 17 at the time, over a period of six months.
Update: Soto's lawyer, Norberto Rondon, told the AP that Soto is being blackmailed by someone who wants money from Soto. Rondon added that the lawyers of the alleged victims are also the lawyers carrying out a motion against Peguero's mother because his father wants money from the signing bonus.
Major League Baseball announced yesterday that Nationals minor league catcher Hector Taveras has been issued a 25-game suspension. An MLB press release states only that he violated the minor league drug program.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic last March, Taveras batted .300/.361/.369 in 130 at-bats during the 2010 season, which the 21-year-old spent mostly in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Washington also will begin the year without access to catcher Adrian Nieto, a 2008 fifth-rounder who batted just .195/.291/.253 in 174 at-bats for low Class A Hagerstown last season. His suspension will run for 50 games, MLB announced last Thursday. Nieto tested positive for Oxandrolone and metabolite, a performance-enhancing substance. [...] Continue Reading »
Albuquerque's Isotopes Park will host its second signature event in its nine-year history this Sept. 20 when the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game comes to town. The city also hosted the 2007 Triple-A all-star game.
The annual one-game playoff between the champions of the International and Pacific Coast leagues had been held in Oklahoma City each year since its inception in 2006. PCL clubs won the first three championship games—Tucson in ’06 and then Sacramento twice—but IL clubs Durham and Columbus have stemmed the tide by winning the last two games.
Signed: RHP Micah Owings, C Mark Reed, OF Jon Mark Owings (Sioux Falls (American Association))
Removed from 40-man roster: RHP Daniel Stange, RHP Brian Sweeney
The Diamondbacks will have many first-base types competing for playing time in spring training—Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen, Xavier Nady . . . and Micah Owings, who could make the team in a long relief role, while also pinch-hitting and taking the field on occasion. For good measure, Arizona also signed younger brother Jon Mark, 25, who played in the Braves system from 2004 through ’09 and last year batted .235/.304/.415 in 183 at-bats for Sioux City.
Fun fact: Micah Owings has batted .293/.323/.538 with nine home runs in his four big league seasons, totaling 198 plate appearances. Those nine homers equal or exceed 105 position players in that time period, considering only those with as many as 198 PAs. [...] Continue Reading »
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