While the most important thing for a minor league manager is preparing his players for the next level, Bradenton Marauders manager Oscar Garcia believes winning and player development come hand in hand—even if it takes 18 innings to get the victory.
Three days after suffering a 16-inning loss to the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Marauders were victorious in an 18-inning game against the Tampa Yankees on Sunday night—the longest game in franchise history. The loss to Charlotte lasted 4 hours and 40 minutes, while the win over Tampa took 5 hours and 23 minutes.
“When we take the field, we’re trying to win,” Garcia said. “We aren’t trying to break a pitcher’s arm by doing so, but we’re going to play the game the right way. So much of developing individually is by focusing on doing the little things well to win a ballgame.”
Unlike most major league clubs that employ pitchers for specific roles, Bradenton relies on their bullpen to pitch multiple innings, especially when the game goes deep into extra innings.
Last night, Tampa brought in second basemen Hector Rabago to pitch the 18th inning. The Marauders took full advantage as 2010 third-round pick Mel Rojas Jr. delivered a two-out, go-ahead RBI triple to give Bradenton the lead for good.
After getting six shutout innings of relief from lefthander Josh Poytress, Garcia countered by going with righthander Jeff Inman to close the game out. Poytress has yet to give up a run in 16 2/3 innings in the Florida State League and has given up only one in 25 innings including the low Class A South Atlantic League.
Just five Marauder pitchers took the hill in the victory, compared to nine for Tampa.
“You can’t afford to have one-inning guys in the minor leagues. Our pitchers know they have to prepare for anything and everything because this game is just so unpredictable,” Garcia said.
Gerrit Cole, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick, pitched five strong innings last night and has been a force for the Marauders alongside 2010 No. 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon. Garcia said their presence has forced the whole team to elevate their game.
“We’ve got two potential aces that have given us great consistency so far. They’ve been tremendous for our staff and players. Right now, they’re both in a position where they can focus on winning and developing pitches at the same time,” Garcia said.
Cole is 1-1, 3.54 with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in 28 innings and Taillon is 1-2, 1.76 with 33 strikeouts and six walks in 31 innings.
It’s taken some time for the results to match up with the stuff since Martin Perez came to Triple-A Round Rock last July. What’s easy to forget is that Perez, who turned 21 in April, is still the youngest pitcher in the Pacific Coast League, and he’s once again the league’s youngest player overall now that Mike Trout, who’s four months younger, has moved up to the majors.
The Rangers lefthander had his best outing of the season on Monday, throwing seven innings against Memphis and giving up just one run on four hits. The seven innings made for his deepest outing in 17 Triple-A starts, going back to last year. He needed just 86 pitches to get there, throwing 60 for strikes and picking up his third win to improve to 3-2, 3.98.
Perez has held opposing hitters to a .208 average, allowing 30 hits in 40 2/3 innings, a vast improvement over the .343 average Triple-A hitters posted against him last year. He’s also been tough on both lefties (batting .190 against him) and righties (.221). The missing component so far? Strikeouts. Perez had just four in seven innings yesterday and has just 25 on the season to go with 16 walks, though he issued just one Monday.
Telvin Nash’s power has been a perfect match for the high Class A California League. Nash homered for the 10th time in 26 games on Monday, taking over the Cal League lead and moving into a tie for fourth in the minors.
When he hasn’t been hitting home runs though, Nash, 21, has shown the rest of his offensive game still needs some work. Nash broke out of a 3-for-33 slump by going 3-for-4 with a homer and a double in Lancaster’s game against Bakersfield on Monday, raising his slash line to .238/.322/.574 in 101 at-bats.
Tyrell Jenkins’ outing on Monday for low Class A Quad Cities provided some of the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes, that’s what you’ll get from a 19-year-old pitching prospect. Fortunately, the good outweighed everything else on this day.
Jenkins has worked to smooth out the raw delivery he came out of high school with when he was a Cardinals sandwich-round pick in 2010. One of the goals of those efforts was to give him better control, and the results were there last year, as Jenkins walked just 13 hitters in 56 innings for Rookie-level Johnson City. His last two starts have seen some wildness creep in though. He walked four in 5 2/3 innings on May 1. Last night, he issued another four walks in six innings, bringing his total to 11 in 23 innings on the year, nearly matching his total from last season. That was the bad from yesterday.
The ugly came in the third inning, when Jenkins committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, threw two wild pitches and gave up three hits, leading to two Peoria runs. In between all those miscues, the three outs Jenkins recorded in that inning were all on strikeouts, and that was more like what the rest of his night was like.
Presented here are the top 10 runs created tallies for position players from weekend series, May 4-6. Players must appear in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
|TOP 10 RUNS CREATED BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • MAY 4-6
|David Cooper*||TOR||Las Vegas||Pac Coast||AAA||9||5||1||0||3||0||0||0||5.4|
|Christian Yelich*||MIA||Jupiter||Fla State||HiA||9||6||2||0||0||3||1||2||4.6|
|Mason Williams*||NYY||Charleston||S Atlantic||LoA||12||5||2||0||1||1||0||3||3.8|
|Adam Eaton*||ARI||Reno||Pac Coast||AAA||13||6||0||0||0||1||0||1||3.7|
|*Bats lefthanded. #Switch-hitter.
Chart considers only players who appear in 2012 BA Prospect Handbook
• With four homers on the season, Blue Jays Triple-A first baseman David Cooper is nearly half way to his total of nine that he hit with Las Vegas last year. All four have been hit in hitter's paradise in Vegas, where he's hitting .411 and slugging .740 (minor league splits). A first baseman with Cooper's feel for contact and gap power can play in the big leagues, but it might have to be with a second-division team or as a pinch-hitter for an NL club (the next Ross Gload?) unless he develops more over-the-fence power.
• Red Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias' recent performance looks even better when you realize he hit just 10 extra-base hits in 101 Triple-A games last year. Boston probably will be happy if simply continues drawing walks like he has for Pawtucket this season. He has 11 in 26 games, giving him a .330 on-base percentage. [...] Continue Reading »
Presented here are the top 10 pitcher game scores from weekend series, May 4-6, by pitchers who appear in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
|TOP 10 GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • MAY 4-6
|Jake Odorizzi||KC||NW Arkansas||Texas||AA||7.1||2||1||1||11||1||81|
|Nick Tropeano||HOU||Lexington||South Atlantic||LoA||7||2||0||0||8||2||79|
|Juan Carlos Sulbaran||CIN||Pensacola||Southern||AA||7||5||0||0||9||0||76|
|Kyle Crick||SF||Augusta||South Atlantic||LoA||6||1||0||0||8||3||75|
|*Lefthander. Chart considers only pitchers who appear in 2012 BA Prospect Handbook
• Twice this season Jake Odorizzi has finished a Double-A start with 11 strikeouts and one walk. Though he gave up a run to Tulsa on Saturday, game score sees that start as a better effort—if only slightly so—than his April 23 one when he shut out Springfield for seven innings but allowed four hits. In his last three starts, Odorizzi has notched 26 strikeouts, four walks and 11 hits allowed while allowing four runs in 20 1/3 innings.
• Perhaps no Double-A pitcher has been as efficient this season as Harrisburg lefty Danny Rosenbaum, who in his last four starts has allowed a mere two runs and 21 baserunners in 32 innings. He leads the Eastern League in ERA (0.81), innings (44 2/3) and WHIP (0.69). [...] Continue Reading »
The Royals organization can remain hopeful even on a day in which they received a stinker from starter Luke Hochever, who allowed seven runs to the Yankees while retiring just seven batters, and started (and led off) Jarrod Dyson, a 50th-round overachiever who has seized on Kansas City's center-field job because no one else seems all that interested in doing so.
That's because two of Royals' top upper-level prospects with Double-A Northwest Arkansas have performed admirably this season, particularly of late.
Righthander Jake Odorizzi, whose development could ultimately make or break the 2010 Zack Greinke trade, stymied Tulsa on Saturday, limiting the Drillers to one run on two hits over 7 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old finished with 11 strikeouts and one walk, matching the same ratio he posted two starts ago on April 23 versus Springfield. (That start was the seventh most effective by any Double-A hurler in the month of April, as measured by game score, but his effort Saturday actually resulted in a slightly higher game score, 80-79.) [...] Continue Reading »
Following a 1-for-5 performance today for Double-A Frisco, teenage shortstop Jurickson Profar extended his hitting streak to 17 games. The Texas League record stands at 37 games, a feat last accomplished in 1969.
The youngest player in the TL, Profar's production during the streak has been somewhat muted. He's batted .292/.321/.486 (21-for-72) with six doubles, three triples and a 4-to-14 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Because the 19-year-old bats first or second in the RoughRiders order he's averaged 4.6 plate appearances per game during the streak, turning in eight 1-for-4 days and three 1-for-5's.
Profar skipped over high Class A on his way to Frisco, where he continues to make rapid adjustments to Double-A competition. Consider the fact that he went 8-for-40 (.200) in his first 11 games this season, but his hit streak has boosted his season line to .259/.315/.464 through 112 at-bats.
For those who believe that 140-game seasons offer only arbitrary endpoints, too, we present all-stars at each minor league classification for the month of April. This installment is very by the book. At each level, the player with the most runs created at each position in April—and who also appears in the 2012 Prospect Handbook—gets the nod. (Yes, this makes it easier for players in hitter-friendly leagues to pad their résumés and thus make the list.)
Click through the player links for draft history, minor league splits, game logs, career transactions, prospect rankings, scouting reports and more (BA subscription required in some cases). Doubles and triples folded into one statistic (2B).
|TRIPLE-A ALL-STARS FOR APRIL
|SS||Adeiny Hechavarria||TOR||Las Vegas||PCL||115||.311||.357||.443||10||1||4||14.5|
|CF||Mike Trout||LAA||Salt Lake||PCL||93||.403||.467||.623||9||1||6||20.9|
|RF||Scott Van Slyke||LAD||Albuquerque||PCL||109||.323||.385||.531||8||4||0||17.8|
Red Sox minor league righthander Mathew Price made just three appearances last season, the first of his career, following his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The 22-year-old won't get back on the mound this season any time soon, however, after he violated the minor league drug prevention and treatment program by twice testing positive for a so-called drug of abuse. Major League Baseball announced the suspension today.
Boston selected Price in the eighth round of the 2010 draft from Virginia Tech and paid him a $415,000 bonus as an eligible sophomore. He began this season on the low Class A Greenville disabled list and did not appear in a game prior to his suspension.
The Twins shifted last year's Appalachian League co-player of the year Eddie Rosario from center field to second base, and all he's done this season is hit .312/.413/.452 through 93 at-bats for low Class A Beloit. Though their tales may not be quite so high profile, like Rosario, a handful of young players with Eastern Division organizations are taking on new roles this season.
The Orioles tabbed New Jersey prep third baseman Billy Rowell as the ninth overall pick in the 2006 draft—the first high school position player selected—but not only has the 23-year-old never made Baltimore's 40-man roster, he's never reached Double-A in any meaningful sense. This year, Rowell can set aside his frustrations as a hitter—he batted .250/.316/.371 in three full seasons in the high Class A Carolina League—because the Orioles' new front-office regime has converted him to the mound. The 6-foot-5 righthander is working in extended spring training with an eye toward making his pro pitching debut later this season, his final one before minor league free agency. [...] Continue Reading »
Yeison Asencio, the Padres outfielder formerly known as Yoan Alcantara, received his visa this morning, according to Padres vice president of player development and international scouting Randy Smith.
Asencio, who had been in the Dominican Republic, will report to Arizona for extended spring training before the Padres consider assigning him to a team.
Asencio, 22, had originally signed on July 2, 2009 for $135,000 using the identity of Yoan Alcantara and a Nov. 20, 1992 date of birth. Last year in November, it became public that Alcantara was using a false identity and an age two and a half years younger than his true age. A Major League Baseball investigator, Kleiber Miguel Bruno Gonzalez (known as "Bruno" in Dominican baseball circles), was also arrested by Dominican police over allegations he took a $25,000 bribe and conspired with an unnamed scout to fraudulently allow Asencio to pass his investigation. MLB has not commented yet on whether Asencio will be subject to any disciplinary action from the league.
Before it became known that he was using a false identity, Alcantara had ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the 2011 Rookie-level Arizona League, where he hit .348/.367/.586 in 210 at-bats, showing above-average power and arm strength along with a free-swinging approach.
With their fifth-round pick four years ago, the Tigers drafted Alex Avila, a catcher out of Alabama who spent 151 games in the minors, quickly established himself as Detroit's big league catcher and emerged as one of the top-hitting backstops in the game last year.
Now the Tigers have another offensive-oriented catcher on their hands who is quietly rolling through the minors in Rob Brantly, their third-round pick in 2010 out of UC Riverside. Brantly, 22, went 2-for-4 with a walk and hit his third home run of the season yesterday for Double-A Erie, boosting his numbers to .360/.402/.613 in 82 plate appearances.
Brantly has excellent bat control with a compact lefty swing, which helped him succeed last year in low Class A West Michigan before his numbers dropped in a late-season promotion to high Class A Lakeland. Brantly entered the season as Detroit's No. 7 prospect, but given the struggles of fellow Tigers lefthanders Casey Crosby and Andy Oliver in their continued quest to find the strike zone, as well as the eventual graduation of big league lefthander Drew Smyly from the prospect world, Brantly is moving up the ranks.
Something clearly was not right with Manny Banuelos after his first two games, when the Yankees Triple-A lefthander gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings with seven walks and just two strikeouts.
The Yankees put him on the disabled list due to an issue with a lat muscle in his back, but he returned yesterday and fired 3 2/3 shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts, showing a crisp low-90s fastball that he was able to spot well.
Banuelos is still the Yankees' No. 1 prospect and should be able to help the organization in the big leagues this season if he can tame his control after walking 4.9 batters per nine innings last year between Double-A and Triple-A. Yesterday was certainly an encouraging sign from all angles.
The Florida State League is supposed to be a pitcher-friendly circuit, but Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos is making it look easy.
Castellanos, 20, went 3-for-4 with his second home run of the season yesterday for high Class A Lakeland, where he leads the minors in batting average and is hitting .417/.453/.583 in 106 plate appearances.
Aside from yesterday's home run, Castellanos' power isn't showing up yet, but with his large 6-foot-4 frame, that should come in the future with additional strength and a more mature hitting approach, not unlike what happened with Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Castellanos is more advanced as a pure hitter than Middlebrooks was at the same age, and while Castellanos may never be anything more than adequate with the glove, the offensive upside here is significant as a guy who could potentially hit for average and power.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period April 24-30.
Signed: C Kevin Dultz (NDFA—San Francisco State)
Recalled: RHP Joe Martinez
Added to 40-man roster: LHP Pat Corbin, LHP Mike Zagurski
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jonathan Albaladejo, RHP Joe Martinez, LHP Joe Paterson
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Chris Jakubauskas, RHP Jensen Lewis
Reinstated from DL: RHP Jeremy Erben, 2B David Nick
The Diamondbacks summoned Pat Corbin from Double-A to take Josh Collmenter's rotation spot. Though his ceiling may be lower, Corbin beat Mobile teammates Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs to the big leagues. Can he pitch well enough to hold a rotation spot when they arrive?
Signed: OF Tim Smith (released by Royals)
Released: LHP Richard Sullivan
Recalled: RHP Cory Gearrin
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Cory Gearrin, RHP Jair Jurrjens, RHP Anthony Varvaro
Placed on 7-day DL: LHP Yean Carlos Gil, C Christian Bethancourt, OF Kyle Rose
Reinstated from DL: LHP Dimasther Delgado
Groundballing lefty Richard Sullivan first reached Double-A Mississippi in ’09, one year after being drafted in the 11th round out of NAIA Savannah College of Art & Design, but he never cleared the Southern League hurdle. He made 88 career appearances for the M-Braves, logging a 5.16 ERA, strikeout rate of 7.1 per nine innings and 1.56 WHIP over 209 innings. [...] Continue Reading »
The Yankees have signed Cuban outfielder Adonis Garcia for $400,000.
Garcia, a 26-year-old righthanded hitter, is only 5-foot-7, 180 pounds and doesn't have any standout tools, so it's hard for scouts to see him fitting in as a big league regular. However, he has a strong track record of hitting in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional. His bat is advanced enough that he figures to reach Double-A or Triple-A quickly.
Garcia debuted in Serie Nacional in 2004 and had a breakout year for Ciego de Avila in 2008-09, when he hit .355/.426/.613 in 282 at-bats. In his final season before leaving Cuba, Garcia batted .334/.397/.623 in 308 at-bats in 2010-11. He played this winter in the Venezuelan League, where he hit .270/.313/.461 in 152 at-bats during the regular season, then batted .376/.431/.548 in 93 at-bats in the Venezuelan League playoffs.
Garcia mostly manned left field during his time in Venezuela, but he has also played some at second and third base in the past. MLB in August had declared Garcia not be eligible to sign for six months due to fraudulent residency papers.
Garcia's bonus will not count toward the Yankees' international signing bonus pool for the 2012-13 signing period. Those rules kick in on July 2, though Garicia would have been exempt anyway because he is at least 23 years old and has played in a recognized Cuban professional league for at least five seasons.
Pitchers condense their work into short bursts. A minor league starter will face 20 or more batters in one outing, providing repetitions that it would take a position player five-to-seven games to accumulate. For that reason, one particularly good start by a pitching prospect carries a fair amount of weight. String together three or four such starts and a pitcher may be on to something.
Here we present the top 10 single-start pitching performances, as measured by game score (Wikipedia explanation), at each classification of the minors in April. (In case you're wondering, the top major league game score thus far is a tie (96) between Phil Humber's April 21 perfect game against the Mariners and Matt Cain's April 13 one-hitter—with 11 whiffs—against the Pirates.
|TOP 10 GAME SCORES IN TRIPLE-A IN APRIL
|3||Chris Rusin||CHC||Iowa||Pacific Coast||4/22||8||2||0||0||4||0||82|
|Tyler Cloyd||PHI||Lehigh Valley||International||4/5||6||0||0||0||8||0||80|
|6||Christian Friedrich||COL||Colo. Springs||Pacific Coast||4/10||7.1||2||0||0||6||1||80|
|7||Brian Burres||SF||Fresno||Pacific Coast||4/21||7||1||0||0||5||1||79|
• The Yankees recently called up D.J. Mitchell to work in a bullpen role, and Pirates lefty Justin Wilson could receive a similar call from the Pirates this season if he can carry forward the control he showed in his last start, a combined no-hitter against Durham.
• Though he delivered seven strong innings in his lone home start in Colorado Springs, Rockies lefty Christian Friedrich turned in his gem above on the road in Tacoma.
• Major league veteran Jeff Francis is the only pitcher who appears on a chart in this blog post who allowed a home run in his exemplary start. [...] Continue Reading »
Just over a year since he had Tommy John surgery, Angels' 2010 first-round pick Cam Bedrosian returned to the mound on Tuesday with an excellent 2012 debut.
Pitching for low Class A Cedar Rapids, Bedrosian didn't allow a hit or a run in 4 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out three. He eventually left because he had reached his pitch limit. Reliever Joe Melioris couldn't keep the no-hitter going, but Melioris and two other relievers did hold West Michigan to one hit in an easy 8-0 Cedar Rapids' win.
While Bedrosian had Tommy John on April 29th of last year, his layoff from the mound was much longer than that. He was shutdown in early August of 2010 with a sore elbow. The Angels originally decided to see if rest and rehab would fix the problem, but when he was still unable to throw throughout spring training, the decision was made to have him undergo surgery to repair his elbow ligament.
There was some thought in the organization that he would head to short-season ball this year, but Bedrosian pitched well enough in rehab to earn a spot in the Midwest League. That will help get him somewhat back on track as he needs innings to make up for lost time–the 20-year-old has only 16 pro innings.
According to Angels' pitching coordinator Kernan Ronan, Bedrosian's fastball was clocked at 89-94 mph during his first start. He's been anywhere from 89 to 96 mph during his rehab appearances. Before the injury he also usually topped out at 96 mph, so his velocity appears to be all the way back to its pre-injury levels.
"He was probably a little amped up in the first. After that he was pounding the ball down in the zone," Ronan said.
One of the local news stations has video from Bedrosian's start.
No one doubts Cardinals ouftielder Oscar Taveras' ability to square up a baseball. He hit .386 as a teenager in the Midwest League last year–the best average the MWL had seen in over 50 years, while managers and scouts talked about his ability to spray line drives all over the field.
Taveras is still hitting plenty of hard line drives, but he's added some surprising power to go with the base hits. On Tuesday night Taveras hit his seventh home run of the season for Double A Springfield–only one short of his career high. In his last seven games Taveras is hitting .461 with four home runs and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
It's been quite a first month of the season for Taveras. He has shown that he can handle skipping a level (he jumped to Double-A Springfield straight from the Midwest League). After showing improved defense in spring training he's now playing primarily center field after spending most of last year in an outfield corner. His .694 slugging percentage leads all Double-A hitters. And he's doing it all as one of the youngest players in Double-A (he was the second-youngest player in the Texas League on Opening Day).
Scouts don't believe that Taveras will be able to stick in center field long term, but he does have enough athleticism to be a very proficient corner outfielder if he shows sufficient dedication to working on his all-around game. Much like Ted Williams many years ago, the biggest criticism of Taveras up to now is that he's always thinking about hitting, even when he's in the field or on the bases.
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