Cubs third baseman Jeimer Candelario was born in New York. Had he stayed in the United States, there's a good chance he would have been a first-round pick earlier this month.
Instead, Candelario moved to the Dominican Republic and signed with the Cubs two years ago for $500,000, which is already looking like a potential bargain. After crushing the ball in the Dominican Summer League last year, Candelario, 18, has skipped the Rookie-level Arizona League and jumped to short-season Boise, where he hit his first home run of the year yesterday in a 2-for-4 evening, bringing him to .292/.320/.458 through his first six games.
Candelario is a switch-hitter with a mature approach to hitting and power from both sides of the plate. He has work to do to remain at third base, but the Cubs have a potential breakout prospect on their hands here.
Nick Castellanos had his best game yet since the Tigers promoted him to Double-A Erie, going 3-for-4 with a home run, a triple and a double yesterday.
Castellanos, a 20-year-old third baseman, hit .405/.461/.553 in 55 games for high Class A Lakeland before the promotion, though he's hit just .273/.267/.432 and hasn't drawn a walk yet in 11 games since his move to Double-A.
Give it time though, because there's not much to worry about here. The only player in the Eastern League younger than Castellanos is Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. Castellanos may still need another year or two on the farm, but he projects as a potential all-star third baseman in his prime.
The Yankees have agreed to sign Cuban lefthander Omar Luis to a minor league contract with a $4 million bonus.
Luis, 19, has a five-pitch mix, stands out for his pitchability and scouts have lauded him for his competitiveness on the international circuit. His fastball ranges from 86-92 mph and touched 93 at a recent workout with solid sink and run. Luis doesn't have a knockout pitch, but he mixes his stuff well, attacks hitters aggressively and throws strikes to all quadrants of the zone, though he does have a head whack when he finishes his delivery. His 73-78 mph curveball flashes average and he'll use it against both lefties and righties, though some scouts prefer his changeup. He'll mix in the occasional slider and cutter as well. Luis is listed at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, and he's a stocky guy who will have to always stay on top of his conditioning.
Though Luis does not have any experience in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional, he was one of the top pitchers on Cuba's junior and youth national teams in recent years. He earned all-star honors at the 18U World Junior Championship in Thunder Bay, Ont. in 2010, where he threw 137 pitches in a complete-game shutout and struck out 10 batters against Canada. He returned later in the tournament to throw 145 pitches in another complete game to beat Team USA, allowing two runs, 10 hits and two walks with five strikeouts in Cuba's 3-2 victory.
Prior to that, Luis pitched as a 15-year-old in the 16U COPABE Pan American Championships in Mexico in 2008, where he threw eight scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and six strikeouts against Bryce Harper and Team USA, which beat Cuba 3-1 in extra innings.
Given his age and experience level, Luis would likely report as high as low Class A Charleston, though he still must be able to acquire a visa, so it's not certain when Luis will be able to begin his career. Luis, like Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, is represented by Bart Hernandez of Praver Shapiro Sports Management. The group also represents 24-year-old Cuban righthander Armando Rivero, a free agent reliever who will work out for teams on Friday. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com first reported the agreement.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—For the first two months of the season, Andrew Chafin pitched up to his status as the 43rd overall pick in last year’s draft.
At the end of May, the Diamondbacks lefthander ranked sixth in the high Class A California League with a 2.91 ERA after 59 innings for Visalia, and he had a 3-0 record to go with it. He punctuated May by striking out 11 over eight innings against San Jose on May 27, but then the wheels came off.
Little has gone right in Chafin’s four June outings, as he’s given up 25 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings, inflating his ERA to 5.35 in 74 innings of work.
“It’s definitely going to be a learning experience for me,” Chafin said. “My last few outings have been a little bit rough, but I try not to worry about that and just go out and try to continue having the success I had in the beginning part.”
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—For all Billy Hamilton's speed or Xander Bogaerts' offensive potential, Astros center fielder George Springer probably had the most expansive tool set among players on either the California or Carolina league squads. The 22-year-old hits, he hits for power, he runs, he fields and he throws. Two of those tools took center stage during the all-star festivities.
As to his power, Springer launched four homers during the pre-game derby, and as to his speed, he stole second base after drawing a third-inning walk against Lynchburg righty J.R. Graham. Springer, who played the entire game in right field and went 0-for-3, also showed a feel for situational hitting by driving home Hamilton from third base—the Cal League's only run, it would turn out—with a first-inning groundball to the right side of the infield.
The 11th pick in last year's draft and highest-drafted Connecticut Husky ever, Springer knows that improvement to his feel for hitting will make the biggest difference to his profile. "I'm just working on making consistent hard contact and whatever happens happens," he said prior to the all-star game. "I just go out and play."
Good things happened for Springer during the first half, as he batted .303/.381/.559 with 14 homers and 14 stolen bases in 254 at-bats for Lancaster. He lists the JetHawks' Clear Channel Stadium, a renowned launching pad, as his favorite place to hit. "You understand the way the ball flies at home, but it's an advantage also just because it's home."
Springer has clubbed multiple homers in two different home games this season, belting three in a May 11 game versus Lake Elsinore and collecting two more in a June 14 contest against Inland Empire. "I really wasn’t trying to hit the home runs," he said of his three-homers game. "I remember one (homer) was a 2-2 changeup. I just saw it and stayed on it and wound up hitting it out to right-center. One was a backdoor slider that I ended up hitting out, and the other was a fastball. It was just one of those days where your swing feels good and you're hitting it hard."
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Three Lake Elsinore players earned starting nods for the California League in the all-star game: righthander Donn Roach, second baseman Cory Spangenberg and center fielder Rico Noel. Of the three, Roach experienced the most success in the first half, going 10-1, 1.94 in 14 starts—though one of those starts began in the second inning following a rehab stint by Huston Street. He leads the Cal League in wins and innings (88 1/3) and isn't far off the pace in WHIP (1.03) or opponent average (.231).
Roach, who worked as a reliever last year prior to shifting to the rotation this season, also leads the league (and ranks second in the minors) with a 3.77 groundout-to-airout ratio, as calculated by Minor League Baseball. "I go up there trying to get a groundball in three or less pitches—you know, pitch to contact," he said prior to the all-star game. "My sinker has been a great pitch for me this year. Opponents have been putting the ball in play a lot against me and my teammates are making the plays." In fact, the Lake Elsinore defense has converted roughly 68 percent of batted balls into outs this season, a rate that only Bakersfield has bettered by a significant margin. [...] Continue Reading »
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Angels center-field prospect Travis Witherspoon has enjoyed one of the more unheralded loud seasons in the California League this season, batting .319/.399/.470 with seven homers and 25 steals (in 32 attempts) for Inland Empire through 270 at-bats. That performance earned him the starting nod in left field for the Cal League all-stars, while Lake Elsinore's Rico Noel handled center. The 23-year-old Witherspoon played the entire game, went 1-for-4 and stole second base in the second inning after reaching on an infield single off the glove of Frederick third baseman Ty Kelly.
Witherspoon said his goals at the plate for this season are simple. "I'm trying to stay more consistent and use the whole field," he said prior to the all-star game.
The goal is to cut down on strikeouts and boost his average, to which end he has honed his batting eye this season. Witherspoon sports enhanced walk (10.8 percent of plate appearances) and strikeout (17 percent) rates through the first half. Those improvements could allow him to hit .300 for the first time since rookie ball two years ago. Playing in the Cal League won't hurt his pursuit. "The hitting environments compare a bit with (Rookie-level) Orem (where he played in 2009-10) because the ball just flies," he said, going on to note two other factors that favor offense. "The weather is so consistently good that it's good for the hitters. Plus, the short bus trips are nice." [...] Continue Reading »
Diamondbacks outfielder Alfredo Marte has been one of the breakout stars of the Southern League this year. He added to that resume on Tuesday. Marte was named the Southern League all-star game MVP as he went 2-for-2 with a double, an RBI and a run scored in the South Division's 6-2 win over the North at Tennessee's Smokies Park.
The win was the South's first in the all-star game in the past eight seasons.
Dodgers righthander Matt Magill was tagged for three of the South's six runs to take the loss. Mariners righthander Taijuan Walker also had a rough outing as he gave up a triple to David Nick as part of a two-hit, two-run inning of work. [...] Continue Reading »
See Also: Midwest League All-Star Game Box Score
There was little suspense at the Midwest League All-Star Game. The Eastern Division all-stars scored 13 runs in the first two innings and went on to rout the Western all-stars 18-2 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, Ill.
The East hit three home runs in its early outburst, starting with the second hitter of the game, South Bend second baseman Gerson Montilla (Diamondbacks), who hit a solo shot off West starter Drew Granier (Athletics). Two hitters later, Great Lakes first baseman O’Koyea Dickson (Dodgers) pulled a two-run blast that went deep beyond the left-field fence. The East scored five runs in the first and then tallied eight times in the second, highlighted by West Michigan outfielder Steven Moya’s (Tigers) bases-loaded triple and Bowling Green third baseman Tyler Goeddel’s (Rays) two-run homer.
Dickson went on to earn MVP honors after going 2-for-3 with the homer, two RBIs and two runs scored. He also singled in the second off Cedar Rapids righty Ty Kelley (Angels) and came in to score on Moya’s triple. A 12th-round pick from Division II Sonoma State (Calif.) last year, Dickson led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in slugging (.603) in his pro debut and picked up where he left off this spring. He didn’t join Great Lakes until early May but earned his all-star nod by hitting .331/.442/.564 in 133 at-bats in the first-half. [...] Continue Reading »
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Coming into Tuesday night's Carolina-California League All-Star Game, the California League squad was the one with the prospect cachet. From Cory Spangenberg to George Springer, Tyler Matzek to Rymer Liriano and Miles Head to Andrew Chafin, the Cal League club was filled with elite prospects.
But the Carolina League club got elite performances by some lesser-known prospects and plenty of good pitching on its way to an easy 9-1 win at Winston-Salem's BB&T Ballpark.
Salem first baseman Travis Shaw (Red Sox) was named the Carolina League's star of the game. Shaw went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and 2 RBIs thanks in large part to his massive two-run home run that landed high up on the walkway beyond the right-field fence. Bakersfield shortstop Billy Hamilton (Reds) was named the California League's Star of the game, which illustrates just how difficult the game was for the Cal League all-stars. Hamilton went 1-for-5, striking out in his final three at-bats. But he did lead off the top of the first with a bunt single, followed by steals of second and third before scoring on a ground out. That proved to be the California League's only run of the game. [...] Continue Reading »
Phillies righthander Jon Pettibone sported an unsightly 1-3, 4.78 record through his first six starts for Double-A Reading, but the 22-year-old has been dominant over the last six weeks.
Going back to his May 9 start in which he gave up one run over 8 2/3 innings, Pettibone has held opponents to two earned runs or less in seven of his last eight outings. His latest gem came Monday against Akron, whom he limited to two runs (one earned) on four hits over seven innings. He struck out a season-high eight and walked two. His ERA dropped to 3.43 in 87 innings, and it’s inflated by his lone difficult outing during his hot streak, when he gave up seven earned runs in six innings on May 31.
Pettibone’s plus changeup has made him devastating on lefthanded hitters, whom he’s holding to a .222/.294/.306 line in 108 at-bats this year. He’ll need to keep working on his slider to give him another weapon to use against righthanders, who are hitting .301 off him, to go along with his low 90s fastball. But Pettibone earns high marks for his feel for pitching, and he’s largely had Eastern League hitters’ numbers since his tough start. Though his 93 hits allowed in 87 innings on the year isn’t pretty, he’s held opponents to a .236 average since the start of May.
Ryan Lavarnway’s second tour of the International League didn’t start out as smoothly his 2011 stint did, but the Red Sox catching prospect has been warming up in June with Triple-A Pawtucket.
The 24-year-old Lavarnway went 3-for-5 with a homer and two doubles for Pawtucket against Syracuse on Monday. It was Lavarnway’s sixth multi-hit effort out of 12 games this month, during which he’s hitting .360/.421/.720 in 50 at-bats. The homer, a fourth-inning solo shot off Syracuse righthander Yunesky Maya, was Lavarnway’s fourth of the month after he had just three in April and May combined.
After hitting .261 in April and .275 in May, Lavarnway’s improved his line to .291/.382/.462 for the year. His seven homers at roughly the halfway point of the season have him easily on pace for a career-low for a full season. He’s hit 21, 22 and then 34 homers last year between the minors and majors, but there is good news elsewhere. Lavarnway’s maintained his walks rate (12 percent of PAs) while improving his contact rate (struck out 21.3 percent of minor league PAs last year, 17.2 percent this year). If his power keeps coming on as it has in June, he’ll start building a case for another big league look, though the Red Sox have been getting solid production from the tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach.
CHARLESTON, S.C.—Several decades ago, baseball legends represented their country not just by hitting home runs.
Hall of Famers such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial all served their country by fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces, despite being adored by hundreds of thousands of fans.
On Monday afternoon at the South Atlantic League Home Run Derby, the Charleston RiverDogs made a huge splash by becoming the first known organization to host the event on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier—the USS Yorktown (CV-10), a World War II aircraft carrier that was retired in the 1970s and is now part of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in the Charleston Harbor.
“This is just a great day to showcase America’s pastime—baseball,” Patriots Point executive director Mac Burdette said. “And what better place to do it than on one of America’s most historic fighting ships.”
Once Charleston general manager Dave Echols learned the team would be hosting the league all-star game, he wasn’t afraid to do something he described as “crazy”. Echols and his staff teamed up with Dan Migala, an advertising entrepreneur who shared a story about visiting Willie Mays at his home after meeting him in Cooperstown.
“Willie said his proudest moment in history—and this is arguably the greatest baseball player that ever lived—and he paused and he said I fulfilled my dream when I served my country,” Migala recalled.
USS Yorktown was commissioned in 1943 during World War II after the previous carrier, the CV-5, was lost at the Battle of Midway the year before. The CV-10 served in many campaigns in the Pacific War, earning the Presidential Unit Citation and winning multiple battle stars in Vietnam as well.
Approximately 75 feet above water, 10 contestants launched balls into the Charleston harbor, where the U.S. Coast Guard as well as volunteer jet skiers and kayakers retrieved the balls to ensure that no sea life was in danger.
At the end of the derby, the top four hitters to advance to the final round were Hagerstown third baseman Matt Skole, Lexington third baseman Matt Duffy, Asheville first baseman Harold Riggins and Savannah center fielder Travis Taijeron. One champion will be crowned on Tuesday night before the All-Star Game at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, or simply, “The Joe”.
Celebrities in attendance were Bill Murray, the RiverDogs’ co-owner and ‘Director of Fun’ and the Miller High Life deliveryman, actor Windell Middlebrooks.
“This is the High Life, baby,” Middlebrooks said. “I’ve done a lot of crazy things on this High Life tour. But, I’ll tell you what—this might be my favorite.”
Clint Longenecker contributed to this story.
Presented here are the top 10 pitcher game scores from weekend series, June 15-17, by pitchers who appear in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
|TOP 10 GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • JUNE 15-17
|Jose Cisnero||HOU||Corpus Christi||Texas||AA||9||2||0||0||6||2||87|
|Tom Koehler||MIA||New Orleans||Pacific Coast||AAA||7.2||1||0||0||10||3||85|
|Martin Perez*||TEX||Round Rock||Pacific Coast||AAA||7||1||0||0||5||5||75|
|Nick Tropeano||HOU||Lexington||S Atlantic||LoA||7||3||0||0||7||5||73|
|Parker Markel||TB||Bowling Green||Midwest||LoA||6||3||0||0||5||0||71|
|*Lefthander. Chart considers only pitchers who appear in 2012 BA Prospect Handbook
• Reds righthander Daniel Corcino tossed eight no-hit innings against Mobile on Saturday, and reliever Wilkin de la Rosa finished the job in the ninth to give Double-A Pensacola the eighth no-hitter of the minor league season (the link above contains a chart listing all eight). Corcino appears none the worse for wear after skipping the high Class A level on his way to the Southern League.
• Astros righty Jose Cisnero threw 119 pitches in his six-strikeout two-hitter for Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday. Hooks teammate Jonathan Villar booted what would have been the final out of the game, and then Cisnero walked the next batter, but he ultimately settled down to strike out Frisco's Ryan Strausborger to end the game. The 23-year-old has gone 4-6, 3.68 through 14 Texas League starts, and he ranks second in the league with 79 strikeouts in 71 innings. [...] Continue Reading »
Presented here are the top 10 runs created tallies for position players from weekend series, June 15-17. Players must appear in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
|TOP 10 RUNS CREATED BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • JUNE 15-17
|Gary Sanchez||NYY||Charleston||S Atlantic||LoA||12||7||0||0||2||1||3||0||5.4|
|Alex Castellanos||LAD||Albuquerque||Pac Coast||AAA||13||7||2||1||1||1||1||0||5.2|
|Francisco Peguero||SF||Fresno||Pac Coast||AAA||14||7||1||1||1||0||2||0||4.8|
|Kole Calhoun*||LAA||Salt Lake||Pac Coast||AAA||12||6||1||1||1||1||3||0||4.6|
|*Bats lefthanded. #Switch-hitter.
Chart considers only players who appear in 2012 BA Prospect Handbook
• The Indians divide shortstop responsibilities between Ronny Rodriguez and Tony Wolters with their high Class A Carolina club, and while Wolters may be the better long-term prospect, it's Rodriguez who has made the biggest initial splash in the Carolina League with his bat. He's hitting .275/.309/.424 with five homers in 236 at-bats, though his walk-to-strikeout ratio (8-to-44) should not be viewed as the firmest foundation possible.
• Low Class A Charleston catcher Gary Sanchez has improved his play on both sides of the ball as he repeats the South Atlantic League—or at least that's what the numbers indicate. He's batting .313/.361/.545 with 12 homers through 233 at-bats, ranking third in the SAL in homers and fifth in slugging, and his OPS at this moment (.906) is nearly 90 points higher than his season-ending figure last year. Just as importantly, Sanchez has dramatically reduced his rate of passed balls per game. Last year he allowed 26 in 60 games behind the plate, while though the first half this year he's accrued just five in 44 games. [...] Continue Reading »
• See Also: Florida State League All-Star Game Box Score
The Florida State League Southern Division all-stars ousted their Northern Division counterparts by scoring three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to win 6-3 at Charlotte Sports Park, home of the Rays' high Class A affiliate based in Port Charlotte, Fla.
St. Lucie third baseman Wilmer Flores (Mets) went 3-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and three RBIs to win MVP honors for the game. He drove in one run on a single up the middle in the seventh, and then knocked home two on an opposite-field single in the eighth versus Lakeland righthander Bruce Rondon (Tigers). "I've faced him a few times this season and I knew he was going to come with another fastball," Flores told Minor League Baseball. "It was all about squaring it up and putting into play."
Just three batters collected extra-base hits in a game in which 19 of the 51 outs were recorded via strikeout. Dunedin first baseman Jon Talley (Blue Jays) connected for a pair of solo home runs for the Northern Division, pulling both to right field and providing his club with a 2-0 advantage through four innings. Daytona left fielder Nelson Perez (Cubs) doubled for the North, while right fielder Cory Vaughn (Mets) did the same for the South.
The Triple-A Reno Aces have completed roughly half their season schedule and one of the club's position players leads the minors in hitting. Unlike outfielders A.J. Pollock or Adam Eaton or third baseman Ryan Wheeler, you won't find the identity of said batting leader on any Diamondbacks pre-season prospect list.
Yet 25-year-old middle infielder Jake Elmore, a righthanded hitter and 34th-round draft pick from Arizona State in 2008, has opened a nine-point lead on the Tigers' Nick Castellanos in the race to claim the minor league batting title. He ranks second to Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley (.477) in the on-base percentage department.
THE COMPANY HE MIGHT KEEP
||2004||Colo. Springs (PCL)||.366|
||2005||New Orleans (PCL)||.383|
||2006||Las Vegas (PCL)||.380|
||2009||High Desert (CAL)||.345|
On the season, Elmore is batting .391/.471/.528 with 19 doubles, 23 steals and a 39-to-25 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 233 at-bats. He's collected a hit in 25 consecutive games and reached base in 40 straight, both Reno franchise records. However, Elmore would need to hit in 36 more games in a row to match the Pacific Coast League record of 61 set by Joe DiMaggio in 1933.
Elmore's on-base streak began on May 3 and from that day forward he's gone 68-for-159 (.428) with 15 doubles, five triples and 25 walks, while striking out just 11 times and going 20-for-21 in stolen bases. He has split his time evenly at second base (24 games) and shortstop (27) with Reno this season, though he's also appeared at third and on both outfield corners during his hit streak. [...] Continue Reading »
The Reds thought Daniel Corcino could handle a jump from low Class A last season to Double-A in 2012, and 21-year-old righthander justified Cincinnati's reasoning yesterday by completing the first eight innings of a dual no-hitter for Pensacola. Corcino struck out nine Mobile batters and walked three while delivering eight innings of no-hit, no-run baseball in 110 pitches. He lowered his season ERA to 3.34 through 13 starts.
Lefty Wilkin de la Rosa struck out the side in the ninth inning, walking one, to complete the first no-hitter in the Southern League this season, and the league's first in exactly one year. Montgomery lefty Matt Moore threw a no-hitter on June 17, 2011, also victimizing Mobile.
Pensacola manager Jim Riggleman removed Corcino from the game when his spot came up in the Pensacola batting order in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Josh Fellhauer singled and drove in a run that contributed to the Blue Wahoos' eventual 6-0 victory.
"We were not going to let him go past 110 (pitches)," Riggleman told the Pensacola News Journal after the game. "And another little thing to throw in is the (Southern League) all-star game is coming up (Tuesday), and he is supposed to pitch in that on really short rest if he does pitch in that game." [...] Continue Reading »
Villalona, who hasn't been able to enter the United States reportedly due to visa problems, went 1-for-4 with a strikeout today in the Dominican Summer League.
Villalona, 21, had been charged with the September 2009 murder of 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete at a bar in La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Villalona reportedly settled with the family of de Jesus Velete for approximately $139,000. A prosecutor had planned to continue with the case, but eventually the charges were dropped.
Villalona, who signed with the Giants for $2.1 million when he was 16 in 2006, had sued the Giants for breach of contract for $5 million in a Dominican court, but the two sides reportedly settled. Major League Baseball removed Villalona from the restricted list and the Giants placed him on their 40-man roster.
Had the Giants not done so, Villalona would have been exposed to the Rule 5 draft, though it's unlikely any team would have selected him, given his history and diminishing prospect status. It's hard to know if or when the U.S. Consulate might grant Villalona a visa, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he spent the rest of the year in the DSL.
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