Free agent lefthander Justin Dowdy refused to take a Major League Baseball-issued drug test, triggering a 50-game suspension that will begin upon his signing with an affiliated organization.
The 28-year-old Dowdy spent most of last season with the Giants' Triple-A Fresno affiliate, appearing in 36 games and notching a 39-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 2/3 relief innings. San Francisco nabbed Dowdy in the 2010 minor league Rule 5 draft, selecting him from the Rays, who in turn had signed him out of the independent American Association in August 2010.
The Rangers reportedly have agreed to a deal with one of the top prospects in the Dominican Republic, but the deal has set off confusion and outrage through the industry because most organizations—including Major League Baseball—believed the player was not eligible to sign until July.
According to a report on Twitter from Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press, the Rangers agreed to terms with Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras for a $4.5 million bonus.
The report generated huge buzz across the industry because people were under the impression that Beras would not be eligible to sign until July 2, 2012. Beras had been presenting himself with a birthdate of Dec. 25, 1995, as recently as an MLB showcase earlier this month, which would make him 16. According to the report that broke today, however, Beras is now listed as 17, which would make him eligible to sign right away.
A Rangers official declined to comment on the signing. Beras' trainer, Carlos Guzman, did not respond to a message seeking comment. Baseball America could not independently confirm the report of Beras' signing or his new birthdate, and while there was confusion this morning in the international scouting community, some sources outside the organization said they believed the report that the Rangers had signed him was accurate. An MLB official said the commissioner's office is currently reviewing the case.
If he is using a new date of birth, Beras could be in trouble beyond MLB. In April 2011, Beras represented the Dominican Republic in an international tournament in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. At the tournament, Beras was also listed with a Dec. 25, 1995 date of birth, with one roster listing his name as Jairo Veras (scouts from other organizations confirmed that they are the same person).
Beras, a 6-foot-5, 178-pound righthanded hitter, has been on teams' radar for a long time and was expected to be one of the top prospects in Latin America from this year's July 2 class. Beras excelled at a Feb. 3-4 showcase coordinated by MLB at the Mets' Dominican academy—the showcase was designed to feature exclusively July 2, 2012-eligible players—with games between a team of top Dominican prospects and a team of top Venezuelan prospects. Beras went 4-for-5 with four singles, two walks and two stolen bases at the showcase to lead the Dominican team. [...] Continue Reading »
Signed: OF Archie Gilbert
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Ross Ohlendorf
Removed from 40-man: 2B Blake DeWitt (outrighted to Triple-A)
Waiver claim Adrian Cardenas (formerly of the Athletics) essentially takes Blake DeWitt's place on the 40-man roster, aspiring to be a bat-first utility player who can hit for average and fill in at second or third base. Cardenas also learned to play left field last year with Triple-A Sacramento, for whom he batted .314/.374/.418 in 545 PAs last year. [...] Continue Reading »
Now that we've released the 2012 Top 100 Prospects list, we're also going to back and look at how the demographics of this year's list compare to past years. First up, a look at how the position breakdown compared to Top 100s over the past 10 years (from 2002-2012). [...] Continue Reading »
Rockies minor league lefthander Joe Torres received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine, a performance-enhancing substance under baseball's drug program. Major League Baseball made the announcement today.
The 29-year-old Torres spent all but one performance last year with Double-A Tulsa, logging 55 1/3 innings over 51 appearances. He struck out 62 and walked 23 while allowing 45 hits. Torres attained free agency after the season and quickly re-upped with Colorado.
The 10th overall pick by the Angels in 2000, Torres has spent the bulk of his pro career in Double-A. He moved to the bullpen full-time in ’06 and also has pitched for the White Sox (twice), Rangers, Dodgers and Rockies organizations.
Pitchers and catchers are starting to report to spring training and the college season has begun, but in Cuba, baseball season has been well underway for months.
Serie Nacional, Cuba's top professional league, holds its midseason all-star game tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. ET in a game that is scheduled to be streamed here live online. The quality of Serie Nacional baseball ranges from players who wouldn't make it out of Rookie ball in the United States all the way up to guys who could step into the big leagues tomorrow and be above-average regulars. The all-star rosters, of course, include many of Cuba's top players.
The league will hold its home run derby finals before the game with outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Hector Olivera and first baseman Alexander Malleta. Despaigne was an automatic entry into the finals as Serie Nacional's current home run leader, while Malleta and Olivera earned spots in the finals after beating first baseman Jose Abreu, outfielder Rusney Castillo, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and catcher Lisban Correa in the semifinals today.
A few notes on some of the players to watch:
• Abreu just turned 25 last month and is the reigning Serie Nacional MVP after tying Yoenis Cespedes last season for the single-season Cuban home run record with 33. This year Abreu is hitting .371/.526/.724 in 170 at-bats, leading the league in OBP and ranked second in slugging, so he could be adding another trophy to his mantle. Here's a video of him going deep.
To get you ready for Tuesday’s release of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, we’re previewing this year’s deliberations and looking back at hits and misses from our 2007 list.
Major League Baseball has yet to approve the signing of Seong-Min Kim, a 17-year-old Korean lefthander whose $575,000 signing last month has drawn the ire of Korean baseball officials.
The Korean Baseball Association, which is the governing body of Korean baseball, and the Korean Baseball Organization (Korea's top pro league) have sternly expressed their displeasure with MLB and the Orioles over Baltimore's failure to comply with the "status check" protocol agreement in place between the organizations.
For an MLB team to talk to a Korean player, the protocol agreement calls for the team to submit a status check on the player to MLB, which after hearing from the KBO then lets the team know whether it may contact the player. The Orioles did not follow that protocol and have since issued a public apology for their "unintentional breach of protocol."
According to Jee-Ho Yoo of Korea's Yonhap News Agency, KBO officials have said that MLB has also fined the Orioles an undisclosed amount for their conduct. It's not yet known whether MLB will end up voiding Kim's contract, but KBO officials also told Yoo that MLB will not approve the contract for 30 days.
The KBA has banned the Orioles from scouting any of its sanctioned games in Korea, including the pro leagues and amateur tournaments. Kim has also been suspended indefinitely from playing or coaching in Korea.
One aspect of recent reports that Korean sources say may have caused some confusion for people is that Kim has been reported as a high school sophomore. That technically is true, though Korean high schools last three years, so while Kim is in his second year, he would be a senior when school begins next month.
The Colombian Professional Baseball League doesn't get as much attention as the winter leagues in other Caribbean countries, but the league provides an opportunity for many young Colombians, among others, to continue their development in the offseason.
With the season wrapped up, the league announced its awards, with Royals third baseman Mauricio Ramos winning the rookie of the year award. Ramos, who turned 20 on Feb. 2, hit .252, slugged .356 and tied for second among his Toros teammates with four home runs in 163 at-bats. Last year in 60 games in the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut, Ramos hit .226/.364/.300 with nearly as many walks (36) as strikeouts (39). A Colombian righthanded hitter signed for $12,000 in 2010, Ramos is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, shows ability to work the count and has an above-average arm.
Donovan Solano won the league's MVP after leading the circuit in slugging and home runs. Solano, a 24-year-old second baseman, signed with the Cardinals out of Colombia in 2005 and was with the organization last year up through Triple-A until he signed with with the Marlins this offseason as a minor league free agent.
The Minor League Free Agent Tracker allows readers to track free agents by position or by organization. Check it out.
Signed: RHP Peter Moylan (re-signed)
The Braves non-tendered Peter Moylan and Brooks Conrad last December, and while they lost Conrad to the Brewers (minor league deal) they re-signed Moylan.
Signed: RHP Greg Burke, 1B Nick Johnson
The Orioles have signed enough righty relievers to minor league deals this offseason to stock multiple bullpens. This time we see Greg Burke, who grew up in Camden, N.J., attended Duke and then signed in the independent Atlantic League in ’05. The Padres signed him for the ’06 season, and he advanced quickly to make 48 appearances for the big league club in ’09. Burke did not receive an invitation to big league camp with the Orioles, however, like Willie Eyre, Jon Link, Pat Neshek, Miguel Socolovich and Oscar Vallarreal did. Instead Burke will head to minor league camp along with Winston Abreu, Robert Hinton, Kyler Newby, Raul Rivero and Ross Wolf. [...] Continue Reading »
Major League Baseball has not yet declared Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler a free agent. Yet according to a report last night in the Chicago Tribune, Soler has a deal in place with the Cubs, citing specific terms of an agreement. A Cubs official did not respond to a request this morning for comment.
If the report is true, it would be a violation of MLB rules. If Soler still needs an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), an agreement also potentially could violate federal regulations.
Any team that enters into agreement with a Cuban player who still needs to be unblocked would be potentially subject to an OFAC fine and, in theory, disciplinary action from MLB. The league has its own department of investigations, but whether it will look into the reported deal remains to be seen. An MLB official said the league was currently looking into whether Soler has established his residency anywhere yet.
Soler, who turns 20 on Feb. 25, is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound right fielder who was a standout on Cuba's junior circuit and on their junior national team, though he has only a handful of at-bats in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional. He has been training in the Dominican Republic and his full scouting report is available here.
The news, first reported by Yahoo's Tim Brown, that the Oakland A's have signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes for four years wraps up what has been one of the longest-lasting and most interesting pursuits of the offseason.
Cespedes, who will rank high in our upcoming Top 100 Prospects list, is expected to compete for a starting job with the A's in spring training. Baseball America subscribers can read an extremely detailed scouting report on the newest A's outfielder here. For non-subscriber's here's an excerpt from the report:
Cespedes has a track record of hitting, both in Cuba and during international tournaments. Cespedes' performance at the 2009 World Baseball Classic (where he ranked No. 6 on our Top 20 World Baseball Classic prospects list) in particular seems to have made an impression on scouts and helped convince them of his ability to hit high-level pitching. He has excellent bat speed and has repeatedly shown the ability to smash a fastball, so there isn't much doubt about his ability to handle premium velocity.
"He's got a very balanced swing," said a Latin American director. "His lower half is very balanced. He doesn't load very much but he's strong and his hands are pretty quick. There weren't any of those crazy types of swings where the guy's just trying to hit the ball out of the park."
The Cardinals have signed Erick Hurtado, a 17-year-old lefthander from the Dominican Republic. Bonus terms were not immediately available.
Hurtado, who is from Santo Domingo, is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and threw around 86-88 mph as July 2 approached last year, but more recently he's pitched in the high-80s and touched 90-91 mph. He's still raw as a pitcher but he shows some feel to spin a curveball and mixes in a changeup as well. Hurtado worked out at La Academia and pitched some in the International Prospect League. His trainer was a man known as Lucas.
The Minor League Free Agent Tracker features up-to-date signings for all 30 organizations. Get caught up as we near the beginning of spring training.
Signed: RHP Armando Galarraga, RHP Stuart Pomeranz, LHP Yoshihiro Doi, LHP Casey Fossum, C Ronny Paulino, C Dane Sardinha, 1B Jeff Larish, OF Juan Aguilar
The Orioles have signed a trio of lefthanders with extensive Nippon Professional Baseball experience this offseason. Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada signed big league deals, while 35-year-old southpaw Yoshihiro Doi signed a minor league pact at the end of January. He pitched in the Japanese majors from ’98 through ’10, starting and ending his time there with Seibu. Doi signed on to play in the independent Atlantic League for ’11, though he did not secure a work visa. He'll try again with Baltimore this season.
Boston Red Sox
Signed: 1B Mauro Gomez
Removed from 40-man: RHP Scott Atchison (outrighted to Triple-A)
Playing in the Rangers and Braves systems, Mauro Gomez has bashed 16 homers or more in four of the past five minor league seasons. The 27-year-old batted .304/.356/.522 with 24 homers and 90 RBIs in 506 at-bats for Triple-A Gwinnett last season. He led the International League with 264 total bases, finished runner-up with 60 extra-base hits and ranked third in homers. [...] Continue Reading »
The Cardinals have signed Dominican righthander Andres Serrano for $750,000, a deal that was agreed to in October and is still pending Major League Baseball's investigation into Serrano's age and identity.
Serrano, 17, has a long-armed, projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame and a fastball that scouts have said they've seen range anywhere from 90-95 mph. Serrano is a good athlete who also throws a curveball and a changeup, with the curveball the most advanced of his secondary offerings. Serrano is from Santiago, where he trained with Maximo Grullon. The Cardinals' top two Latin American prospects, righthander Carlos Martinez and outfielder Oscar Taveras, were also signed out of the northern part of the Dominican Republic.
If the contract is approved, Serrano's bonus would be the highest of 2011 for a Dominican pitcher. Mariners Venezuelan righthander Victor Sanchez ($2.5 million), Blue Jays Mexican righthander Roberto Osuna ($1.5 million), Rangers Venezuelan lefthander Yohander Mendez ($1.5 million), Reds Venezuelan righthander Jonathan Perez ($825,000) and Cubs Cuban lefthander Frank Del Valle ($800,000) were the only other international pitchers who got bigger deals in 2011.
A pair of Mets minor leaguers failed second tests for a "drug of abuse" and received 50-game suspensions, the commissioner's office announced. Righthander Scott Moviel and catcher Dock Doyle can return to play in June after their suspensions expire.
A second-round selection from Lakewood, Ohio, in ’07, Moviel spent the past two seasons with high Class A St. Lucie, going 13-22, 4.93 in 53 starts (plus 13 relief appearances). Last season he went 5-10, 5.10 and struck out 66 and walked 34 in 125 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-11 Moviel turned down a chance to play basketball at North Carolina State to sign with New York out of high school for $414,000.
A star performer with Coastal Carolina, Doyle has moved slowly in pro ball, and he has caught just 62 games over the past two seasons. An ’08 fifth-rounder, he batted .296/.359/.437 in 71 at-bats for St. Lucie last season.
Alfredo Despaigne set the single-season home run record in Cuba's Serie Nacional with 32 homers in 2008-09, only to have it broken last year when Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu each hit 33 home runs.
It may not take long for Despaigne to reclaim his crown.
The Granma outfielder hit his 20th home run of the season today, the latest in a recent homer binge that included two home runs in a game on Sunday and one on Wednesday, and all in just 46 games. Granma has played 47 games of its 90-game schedule so far, so even with some second-half regression there's a good chance that Despaigne could become Cuba's newest single-season home run king.
Despaigne, 25, is now hitting .358/.479/.756 with 26 strikeouts and 35 walks (including 11 intentional walks), leading the league in slugging and ranking seventh in OBP entering today's game. Of course, this is nothing new for Despaigne, who already has two Serie Nacional MVPs after winning the award in back-to-back years in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and being named an all-star last season.
A thickly-built righthanded hitter listed at 5-foot-9, Despaigne has been a standout on several Cuban national teams at international tournaments, including the 2008 Olympics where he homered off Stephen Strasburg, the 2009 World Baseball Classic (though he struggled during that tournament) and most recently at the World Cup in October in Panama.
And, since some folks have already asked: No, there is no way of knowing for certain if or when any Cuban player might try to leave to play in the majors, though some teams believe Despaigne won't leave. For now, he's simply a force in Cuba.
Not to be outdone by 49-year-old Jamie Moyer signing a minor league pact with the Rockies last time, ageless infielder Omar Vizquel signed with the Blue Jays. If he's playing in the big leagues on April 24, Vizquel will be 45 years old and in his 24th season.
Elsewhere, we see grizzled veteran lefty relievers Trever Miller (age 38) and Brian Tallet (34) sign minor league deals with the Cubs and Pirates, respectively. Both went from the Cardinals to the Blue Jays last July as part of the Colby Rasmus-for-Edwin Jackson blockbuster.
Signed: RHP Pat Neshek, 2B Chris Tremblay
Released: LHP Nate Nery, 2B Pedro Rodriguez, SS Moises Ciriaco, OF Rojean Cleofa, OF Martin Serrata
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Sean White
Signed: LHP Trever Miller
Removed from 40-man: RHP Manny Corpas (outrighted to Triple-A) [...] Continue Reading »
Mariners minor league catcher Christian Carmichael received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for Methylhexaneamine, a performance-enhancing substance, the commissioner's office announced.
Seattle made Carmichael a sixth-round pick in ’10, drafting him from Mililani (Hawaii) High. The 19-year-old spent the past two seasons in the Rookie-level Arizona League, catching 15 total games and going 7-for-52 (.135) at the plate.
The Royals have signed Cuban outfielder Roman Hernandez for $550,000, according to an international source.
Hernandez, 24, is a righthanded hitter who had been training in the Dominican Republic. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Hernandez hit .299/.376/.463 with eight home runs, 25 walks and 44 strikeouts in 268 at-bats with two stolen bases in seven attempts for Matanzas in his final season in Cuba's Serie Nacional in 2009-10. Hernandez has a strong arm that should play in right field. El Nuevo Herald first reported the signing.
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