The Dominican Prospect League is restructuring following the departure of three of its prominent trainers.
Amaury Nina, Enrique Soto and Astin Jacobo, three of the trainers in charge of managing the original four DPL teams, have left the league and formed the International Prospect League. Christian "El Niche" Batista will remain with the DPL.
Nina, Soto and Jacobo were in charge of managing the DPL teams in their areas and recruiting other trainers from their region to have their players participate in the league. In all, the DPL has featured players of around 50-60 trainers, according to Brian Mejia, a co-founder of the DPL with Ulises Cabrera.
The league had expanded from four to six teams, but Mejia said the DPL will consolidate to four teams, including two in the northern town of Santiago and two in Boca Chica, though the teams will include players assembled from all parts of the country.
A pair of Cubs prospects were among five players who received 50-game suspensions from Major League Baseball for violations of the league's drug policy.
Erick Castillo, an 18-year-old Venezuelan catcher who had signed with the Cubs in November for $30,000, tested positive for DHEA. Cubs righthander Amalio Reyes, who signed for $8,000 out of the Dominican Republic in November, tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid commonly sold as Winstrol.
MLB also announced that three amateur free agents will face 50-game suspensions upon signing, though the league did not elaborate on the players' countries or ages. Pitcher Junior Astacio tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid, and outfielder Pedro Nunez tested positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid often sold as Deca-Durabolin. Pitcher Tony Feliz also received a 50-game suspension for failing to take a drug test.
It takes years to build a quality international program.
It's a process that involves hiring the right people—both to evaluate players and to make sure those players are being handled and developed the right way—and being consistent in the market year after year, almost always with the support of ownership committed to international players.
This year we gave BA subscribers access to scouting reports on nearly 200 of the top international signings from 2010, but it will be years until we're able to sort out how each team fared abroad last year. Some teams stepped up their international spending in 2010, but it takes more than a one-year splash to create a pipeline of international talent for the major league club.
So which teams' international operations have had the greatest impact on their farm system in recent years? We're going to repeat the process we used last year to try to gauge that influence.
Cubs outfield prospect Matt Szczur played his senior football season at Villanova last fall before agreeing Jan. 18 to give up the gridiron for good and concentrate on baseball. He and the Cubs ultimately agreed to a deal worth $1.5 million that will effectively morph into a major league pact this winter.
Chicago originally signed their 2010 fifth-rounder for $100,000 July 2. That deal called for an additional $500,000 payment if he declined to attend the NFL combine and made a written commitment to baseball before Feb. 10. A wide receiver, Szczur led Villanova to the 2009 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision championship, winning MVP honors in the title game with 270 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. He projected as a mid-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Szczur officially signed his new contract on March 18. After consulting the commissioner's office, the Cubs determined that the cleanest way to alter Szczur's bonus amount was to first release and then re-sign him to a new minor league deal. By signing him to a second contract, however, the Cubs triggered a provision that will make Szczur eligible for December's major league Rule 5 draft—but only if he's not a member of Chicago's 40-man roster.
This time: March 16-22
For the complete record: The asterisks (*) here denote instances of 40-man roster players who have agreed to terms on the minor league portion of their split major league/minor league contracts. These players will have their minimum salary dictated by baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Signed: RHP Kip Wells (Long Island (Atlantic)), SS Ed Rogers (re-signed)
Released: RHP Andrew Berger, RHP Corey Davisson, RHP Brad Gemberling, RHP Jake Hale, RHP Will Harvil, RHP Brett Moorhouse, RHP Rafael Quezada, LHP Bayron Zepeda, C Alex Herrnberger, SS Victor Estevez, SS Ed Rogers (subsequently re-signed), OF Isaias Asencio, OF Javan Williams
Optioned to Triple-A: C Konrad Schmidt
Removed from 40-man roster: C John Hester
Signed: RHP Erik Cordier*, LHP Jose Ortegano*
Loaned to Mexican League: LHP Amilcar Gaxiola (Saltillo)
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Cory Gearrin, RHP Stephen Marek, RHP Anthony Varvaro
Signed: RHP Luis Lebron*, SS Pedro Florimon*
Optioned to Triple-A: 1B Brandon Snyder, OF Matt Angle
Boston Red Sox
Released: RHP Ramon Soto
Optioned to Triple-A: C Luis Exposito, C Mark Wagner, 1B Lars Anderson, SS Jose Iglesias, SS Yamaico Navarro, OF Daniel Nava
Presumably finding little or no trade interest, the Mariners and Indians each attempted to send an out-of-options reliever to Triple-A in March. Each player stood little chance of making the Opening Day roster, but because each used his final minor league option in 2010, his club either had to carry him on the active roster or outright him to the minors, a process that necessitates first clearing waivers. While navigating those waters, the two players' paths diverged.
Seattle lost lefty Garrett Olson (this spring: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 3 SO) to the Pirates on a waiver claim, but Cleveland snuck righthander Jensen Lewis (5 2/3 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 3 BB, 1 SO) through the waiver wire on his way to Columbus. Olson's lack of options now muddles Pittsburgh's picture, while Lewis will play out the Triple-A season and look forward to either a return to Cleveland's 40-man roster or minor league free agency in November.
But Olson and Lewis are far from the only players to reach this juncture of their careers. Much as we did last season, we'll take a closer look at seven position players (with bonus tracks) who have not yet established themselves in the big leagues and who now find themselves out of options. For that reason, we will focus on those who used their final option in 2010 and those who offer at least a hint of future utility. Last season, teams gave the benefit of the doubt to the out-of-options players we examined in this space, carrying all 14 on Opening Day rosters. Please see last year's out-of-options features for more on the process and for a refresher on the statistical categories presented here. [...] Continue Reading »
Every team brings to spring training at least one on-the-bubble young player who straddles the line between the majors and minors. Said player has spent several seasons on the 40-man roster without establishing himself in the big leagues, yet he has no minor league options remaining, blocking off the direct path back to Triple-A.
A player who reaches this juncture of his career typically has shown tantalizing promise in the high minors, with maybe a flash of greatness in the big leagues, but for whatever reason has not had sustained success at the highest level.
Last year in this space, we took a close look at how service time impacts minor league players—options years, Rule 5 draft clocks, etc.—and a closer look at 14 players, each of whom entered 2010 spring training having used his final option in ’09. That status forced his club's hands. Carry him, even if he's not one of the 25 best players, or expose him to waivers, where any one of the other 29 teams could claim him for a fixed fee.
As it turned out, all 14 players received the benefit of the doubt and made Opening Day rosters. We broke out seven position players and seven pitchers, but for this exercise let's go a bit deeper and reference the Out-Of-Options All-Star Team, which can be found in the comments section of this post. (Please note: this team includes only players who burned their final options in ’09. It does not try to capture all players who have no options remaining.)
We set out originally to prove or disprove the conventional wisdom, espoused by one front-office veteran, that out-of-option players really aren't worth the fuss. Would that prove to be a handy rule of thumb? [...] Continue Reading »
The Giants have added another top Dominican pitcher, agreeing to terms with lefthander Adalberto Mejia for $350,000.
Mejia, a 17-year-old from Bonao, has a projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pound body, a loose arm and sits at 87-90 mph, touching 92. Mejia's best secondary offering is his changeup, showing advanced feel for the pitch. He also mixes in a slurvy breaking ball that he'll need to sharpen.
The Giants laid low internationally in 2010, but Mejia is already the second high-profile pitcher the club has signed out of Latin America this year. San Francisco also agreed to terms with Dominican righthander Simon Mercedes for $400,000 after his performance in the Dominican Prospect League all-star game.
Minor league spring training camps opened across Arizona and Florida at the end of last week, opening their doors to the flood of 40-man roster players who had been optioned to the minor league side. You'll find 189 examples in this blog post alone.
Please to not assume the optional assignments listed are *guarantees* of Opening Day assignments. Teams have made the designations with MLB, but they are of course subject to change.
An asterisk (*) denotes a case in which a player has signed a minor league deal after either being outrighted from his club's 40-man roster or optioned from the 25-man roster.
Signed: LHP Adam Kudryk (Mississauga (Intercounty)), LHP Leyson Septimo*
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Josh Collmenter, RHP Kevin Mulvey, LHP Zach Kroenke, C John Hester, OF Cole Gillespie
Optioned to Double-A: LHP Leyson Septimo
Optioned to high Class A: RHP Yonata Ortega
Optioned to low Class A: RHP Juan Jaime
A Toronto native, Adam Kudryk began the ’08 season with Texarkana (Texas) JC, but he ended it with a torn labrum. Facing surgery and a 12-month recovery period, he headed to Canadian training facility The Baseball Zone to rehab and build arm strength. He spent the ’10 season playing semipro ball in Canada's Intercounty Baseball League, where he made 12 appearances. Last month, the 23-year-old Kudryk hit 90 mph at an MLB Scouting Bureau tryout camp.
Released: RHP Matt Small
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Erik Cordier, LHP Lee Hyde, LHP Jose Ortegano
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Randall Delgado [...] Continue Reading »
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper turned heads in big league camp, hitting .389/.450/.556 over 18 at-bats before being sent to minor league camp. Last week, I caught up with some Nationals officials, as well as the best player in the game, to get their early impressions of this spring's most talked-about player. The quotes are compiled answers from a few different questions. . .
"He's handled himself good. He's mature beyond his age. He's absorbing a lot—he's really being a sponge and taking in everything that is major league spring training. We've got a lot of veteran players on this team that are capable of sharing a lot of information with him and he's following my advice when he came to spring training: keep your ears open and your mouth closed. It's very unique, I've never seen this with a player his age. I had Justin Upton, who I think is in that same category and Bryce is beyond Justin, as far as readiness for spring training and readiness for a player and that's a big comparison because Justin Upton is one of the most talented players I ever drafted."
—Mike Rizzo, general manager, Washington Nationals
"I've been pretty impressed that he's been able to handle his own at this level and the way he's read pitches and understands the strike zone. We've all seen him attack the ball and do all the things with the tools he's got. But to see him do that, it looks like he can compete here a little bit. It's pretty exciting. He's an aggressive kid. They're going to knock it out of him a little bit, but he's a pleasure to be around. He plays the game right and you can tell his daddy trained his son very well. He's fun to be around. He's supposed to be playing high school games, so it's pretty amazing what he's done. The big thing is, socially, he's above his years. He interacts with everybody very well and he's fit in in a situation that's sometimes tough to fit in. He's done a great job with that."
—Bob Boone, assistant general manager, Washington Nationals
[...] Continue Reading »
Oakland added one of the top amateurs from both Venezuela (third baseman Renato Nunez) and the Dominican Republic (center fielder Vicmal de la Cruz) in 2010.
Now the Athletics have started 2011 by bringing aboard one of the top prospects from South Korea, signing 17-year-old catcher Seong-Min Kim for $510,000 out of Yatap High.
A righthanded hitter, Kim is a strong, thick-bodied frame listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, though scouts from other organizations said he might be an inch or so bigger and a bit heavier. A's Pacific Rim scout Adam Hislop and South Korea scout Lewis Kim followed Kim since he was 16, according to Dan Kantrovitz, the A’s coordinator of international operations.
“Offensively, we think he can become a plus power guy,” Kantrovitz said. “As with any young player, he's gonna need to make some adjustments to his approach and how quickly his power plays will be a function of how quickly he makes those mechanical adjustments. But, no question, the raw power, and flashes of game power, is there and is exciting.”
Scouts from other organizations said Kim is athletic, has a plus arm and can control the running game, though they were mixed on his ability to stick at catcher. He was a first baseman and a DH as a sophomore, so his receiving skills and technique still need to catch up to his tools.
“Defensively, he has plenty of transfer quickness and arm strength to control a running game—he flashed 1.95’s (in his home-to-second pop times) for Adam, Lewis and I just last week,” Kantrovitz said. “Granted, he has some work to do at the position, but he shows instincts that would never make you think he converted to catcher just last year, his junior year in high school. Having said that, his catching skills have come a long way in the past year and with his athleticism, aptitude and work ethic, I see no reason they won’t continue to improve.”
Kantrovitz said Kim will likely play in Australia this summer and possibly head to Arizona for instructional league in the fall, with a chance to return for spring training next year.
The Yankees have agreed to terms with 20-year-old Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua, a source confirmed to Baseball America. Dionisio Soldevila, a reporter based in the Dominican Republic, reported that Paniagua signed for $1.1 million.
Paniagua, who had previously been suspended by Major League Baseball for one year due to age and identity fraud, is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with excellent arm speed and a power fastball that sits around 93-95 mph and touches 98. Some scouts said Paniagua has shown feel for a curveball and a changeup that could become above-average offerings in the future, though other scouts weren't quite as sold on his secondary pitches.
Paniagua would not be the first power-armed Dominican to cash in with a significant signing bonus after facing a one-year suspension from MLB. Righthander Carlos Martinez, who originally agreed to terms with the Red Sox in 2009, had that deal fall apart when MLB suspended him for a year. Martinez, 19, signed with the Cardinals last April for $1.5 million, then touched 100 mph this winter during the team's Dominican instructional league. Righthander Jose Rafael DePaula, who has already served a one-year suspension, came forward with a new name and date of birth before agreeing to terms with the Yankees in November for $500,000, though that deal is still contingent upon DePaula acquiring his visa. DePaula turns 20 in two weeks, according to his new paperwork.
Baseball America will try to update the Prospects Blog with more information on Paniagua as it becomes available.
Oakland's growing international presence is stretching to the Pacific Rim, as the Athletics have agreed to terms for $510,000 with Seong-Min Kim out of Yatap High in Seoul, South Korea.
Kim, 17, is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound catcher who, according to one scout, stands out for his plus raw power from the right side. Baseball America will have additional scouting information on Kim as it becomes available.
The A's were among the top five spenders for international amateur players last year with a budget of nearly $5 million. The A's did sign one Pacific Rim player last year, adding Taiwanese shortstop Chih-Fing Pan for $150,000 in April. Pan, 20, hit .331/.386/.439 in 43 Rookie-level Arizona League games last summer.
In 2010, Cubs righthander Jin-Young Kim ($850,000) was the only player from South Korea who signed a contract with a Major League Baseball team.
This time: March 1-8
An asterisk (*) denotes a case in which a player has signed a minor league deal after being outrighted from his club's 40-man roster.
Signed: RHP Rafael Rodriguez*, RHP Brian Sweeney*
Signed: RHP Kenshin Kawakami*
Released: LHP Cody Hams
Aussie Cody Hams spent two years in the Rookie-level Arizona League club's bullpen after signing in March ’08.
Chicago White Sox
Signed: LHP Wes Whisler, OF Kenny Gilbert (Laredo (United))
The White Sox originally signed and drafted Kenny Gilbert out of DeSoto (Texas) High in the ninth round of the ’07 draft. He spent most of the last two seasons in the Frontier and United leagues after topping out in the Pioneer League in affiliated ball. [...] Continue Reading »
The commissioner's office announced a 50-game suspension for 21-year-old Brewers third baseman Wayne Dedrick, who twice tested positive for a drug of abuse.
He batted .227/.298/.324 in 176 at-bats in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2009, the summer after being drafted in the 30th round out of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., high school. Dedrick spent the entire 2010 season on the disabled list and did not play.
This time: Feb. 23-28
An asterisk (*) denotes a case in which a player has signed a minor league deal after being outrighted from his club's 40-man roster.
Released: 1B Richie Rowland
Richie Rowland is the older brother of the Diamondbacks' most recent third-round pick Robby Rowland. Arizona signed Richie as a nondrafted junior from Campbellsville (Ky.) University last June.
Signed: LHP Joe Torres
The 10th overall pick in the ’00 draft, Joe Torres joins his fifth organization. His strikeout rate spiked after a full-time move to the bullpen in ’06, but the 28-year-old has not yet logged any big league time. In fact, he has not yet reached Triple-A. [...] Continue Reading »
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