A new league for amateur players has started in the Dominican Republic.
The National Prospect League, founded by four Dominican trainers, opened with its first game on Saturday and will continue to play games twice a week with amateur players from the Dominican Republic looking to sign with teams. The league's organizers include former scout Epy Guerrero, Felix Liriano, Franklyn Ferreira and Baltazar Mesa, who is the brother of former major league righthander Jose Mesa.
The four-team league will play every Tuesday and Saturday at Guerrero's complex in Santo Domingo. In addition to having players who are handled by the NPL's organizers, the league says it also has 20 other trainers to work with them along with recruiting from more than 40 little leagues in the country.
The NPL should be able to recruit some of the country's top players. Liriano, who was one of the trainers for Giants $2.1 million signing Angel Villalona in 2006, recently trained righthanders Simon Mercedes ($800,000) and Jose Almonte ($610,000), who both signed with the Red Sox this year, and also worked with Cubs righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua, who signed with the Cubs for $1.5 million this month. Ferreira trained Red Sox center fielder Manuel Margot, who signed for $800,000 last year, as well as outfielder Luis Payano, who signed with the Astros this year for $500,000.
Jose Rijo, the former major league pitcher and former head of the Nationals' Latin American program, has been charged with money laundering in connection with Matias Avelino Castro, a suspected drug trafficker in the Dominican Republic, according to the Associated Press.
Prosector Soraime Vargas, according to the report, announced at a news conference today that close to 80 percent of Castro's assets were in Rijo's name, including a sports complex and two hotels. The Dominican Today reported that the prosecutor asked that bond be set at $20 million and that Rijo be banned from traveling.
Rijo's name popped up in connection with Castro last year. Dominican journalist Jose Agustin Silvestre was kidnapped and shot to death in the Dominican Republic on Aug. 2, 2011, shortly before he had planned to release an investigative report that claimed that Avelino was a drug trafficker and included other allegations of corruption. Dominican authorities had spoken with Rijo at the time about his business ties to Avelino, who has been accused ordering the killing, although Rijo was not detained at the time.
Rijo, 47, had been a special assistant to former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden from 2005-2009, during which time he headed the team's efforts in Latin America. Rijo was instrumental in the team's signing of 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez for $1.4 million on July 2, 2006, only to have it later revealed that Gonzalez was really a 20-year-old named Carlos Alvarez. The scandal led to the departure of Rijo and Bowden in 2009 and the team moved out of Rijo's Dominican academy.
To compensate for a truncated version of top weekend performers, we're taking these lists to 15 or more places.
• Presented here are the top pitcher game scores from weekend series. Any prospect with a 70 or higher is displayed.
|ALL 70+ GAME GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN MINORS • JULY 27-29
|Adam Morgan*||PHI||Clearwater||Florida State||HiA||8||3||2||2||9||0||77|
|Tyler Anderson*||COL||Asheville||South Atlantic||LoA||7||3||0||0||3||0||74|
|Tyler Cloyd||PHI||Lehigh Valley||International||AAA||7||4||0||0||6||1||74|
|Roman Mendez||TEX||Myrtle Beach||Carolina||HiA||6||4||0||0||9||1||72|
• Braves righthander Cody Martin threw an absolute gem for high Class A Lynchburg two weekends ago, throwing a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts. His two follow-up outings—14 runs, 20 baserunners in 7 2/3 innings—would not be classified as precious stones. The 22-year-old Martin turned in a worthy encore Sunday, holding Salem scoreless on one hit over seven innings.
Osuna and Venezuelan righthander Victor Sanchez, who signed with the Mariners for $2.5 million, were generally considered the top two pitching prospects on the international market last year. The two faced each other tonight, and while Sanchez was solid, Osuna was spectacular in his debut for short-season Vancouver.
Osuna, now 17, struck out 13 of the 19 batters he faced in five shutout innings, surrendering only one hit and one walk. According to Vancouver, Osuna set a franchise record for strikeouts in a game. Osuna has worked this year with a fastball from the low-to-mid 90s, showing feel for both his breaking ball and his changeup while filling up the strike zone.
Joey Gallo’s numbers have been downright silly.
Signed for $2.25 million as a Rangers supplemental first-round pick last month, Gallo has annihilated pitchers in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The 18-year-old third baseman made the most of his only at-bat yesterday, a pinch-hit home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, which the Rangers went on to win in extra innings.
Gallo, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound lefthanded hitter, is now batting .316/.461/.816 (yes, .816) with 13 home runs in 29 games.
“He hits it like nobody I’ve ever seen before as an 18-year-old kid,” Arizona League Rangers manager Corey Ragsdale said.
Trevor Bauer was the first player from the 2011 draft to reach the major leagues. That was no surprise, considering Bauer (a) was the 2011 College Player of the Year at UCLA, (b) signed relatively early last summer, in time to actually reach Double-A in his first season, and (c) signed a major league contract, giving him a spot on the 40-man roster.
The 2011 draft class was an epic one, especially on the mound, producing the largest signing bonus for a player with the team that drafted him (Gerrit Cole), major league contracts (Danny Hultzen and Dylan Bundy in addition to Bauer) and 2012 Futures Gamers (Jose Fernandez, Chris Reed, Matt Barnes) down through the first round.
Jump down to the 23rd round, though, for the second player from the '11 draft to make the majors—Cody Allen, who already has made three scoreless appearances for the Indians. We'll detail Allen's quick rise in a column next week but wanted to point out just how rare it is for a 23rd-rounder to get to the majors so quickly.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period July 19-23.
Any player listed with an asterisk (*) signed a minor league contract with the organization after being removed from the 40-man roster and clearing waivers.
Signed: 1B Ryan Strieby (released by Tigers)
Released: RHP Bobby O'Neill
Recalled: RHP Jonathan Albaladejo
Added to 40-man roster: 3B Ryan Wheeler
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jonathan Albaladejo, RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Bryan Shaw
Placed on 7-day DL: OF Kyle Greene
Reinstated from DL: RHP Eric Smith
Signed: RHP Patrick Scoggin (NDFA—Virginia Tech), LHP Mike Tarsi (Bridgeport (Atlantic)), 1B Mike Spina (released by Athletics), 2B Jaime Pedroza (Lancaster (Atlantic))
Released: RHP Adam Russell, 2B Gerardo Reyes
Acquired: OF Dan Brewer from Yankees for cash considerations
Recalled: RHP Randall Delgado, OF Jose Constanza
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Anthony Varvaro
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Juan Jaime, RHP Jarett Miller, 1B Chris Garcia
Reinstated from DL: RHP Dave Filak, RHP Cory Gearrin, RHP Adam Holland, LHP Chris Masters [...] Continue Reading »
Rangers righthander Kyle Hendricks snuck onto the Northwest League top prospect list last fall, coming in at No. 20 after going 2-2, 1.93 with 36 strikeouts and four walks over 33 innings.
Since then, he’s made two changes and he’s again one of the best performers in his league, having spent the entire season with high Class A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League.
“I changed my mechanics a little bit at the very beginning of the year, trying to get more directional and trying to get everything going towards home plate,” Hendricks said. “And then other than that, I’ve been working with the pitching coach just on pitch sequences, learning the hitters and just watching and learning from the swings they take on certain pitches so that I can make adjustments on the mound as you go and really thinking while you’re out there instead of just throwing.”
He also added a new pitch.
“I just started throwing a cutter and it’s been a big part of the repertoire lately,” Hendricks said. “If I fall behind in the count or something, I use it as a contact pitch to get out of the count and go to the next hitter.”
[...] Continue Reading »
Scouts who liked Dorssys Paulino as an amateur last year in the Dominican Republic said he was one of the more advanced hitters in the country. Yet even his most ardent supporters didn't expect him to hit this well right away.
Paulino, a 17-year-old Indians shortstop signed last year on July 2 for $1.1 million, skipped the Dominican Summer League to make his debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Paulino had four more hits yesterday for the AZL Indians, raising his slash line to .359/.417/.602 through 24 games with a 1.019 OPS that ranks eighth in the league.
Paulino may eventually end up at either third base or second base, but his calling card is his bat, and it has his prospect stock soaring right now.
Righthander Alex Meyer pitched well again in his second start tonight since the Nationals promoted him to the high Class A Carolina League.
Meyer, 22, allowed only one run (it was unearned) in six innings with two hits, one walk and five strikeouts for Potomac. Through his first two Carolina League starts, Meyer has allowed only the one unearned run through 12 innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks.
Meyer, a first-round pick (23rd overall) last year out of Kentucky, had a 3.10 ERA with 107 strikeouts and 34 walks in 90 innings for the Nationals in low Class A Hagerstown to start the year. He's still working to master his delivery and his command, but Meyer has power stuff and could be ready to help in Washington at some point in the next year or two.
Aaron Hicks has been one of the most befuddling prospects in the minors over the last few years.
After the Twins drafted Hicks with the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft, he had a stellar debut that summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Since then, he's flashed moments of brilliance without ever dominating his level like some scouts expected.
It's been more of the same this year for Hicks, but he's been hitting the ball well recently. Tonight Hicks went 5-for-6 with two doubles and his 10th home run of the season for Double-A New Britain.
Hicks, 22, is hitting .284/.379/.456 in 93 games for the Rock Cats, numbers that have been boosted by his .355/.459/.581 slash line in July and have brought his OPS up to eighth in the Eastern League. All of the tools and athleticism are still there for Hicks, it's just a matter of him showing he can string together at-bats like he has in July over the course of a full season. This past month has certainly been a positive sign.
Getting acclimated to pro ball isn't always easy.
As simple as Rockies outfielder David Dahl and Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo have made it look, the transition from high school baseball to Rookie ball has been a challenge for Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, the top two picks in last month's draft.
After a sluggish start in the Gulf Coast League, the last two days have been kinder to Correa, who hit his first professional home run yesterday and followed up with another homer today in a 2-for-4 afternoon.
Correa, 17, is now hitting .222/.267/.384 in 104 plate appearances after getting a hit in his fifth straight game, a stretch that includes four multi-hit games. A slow month in the GCL is nothing to be alarmed about with Correa, but it's an encouraging sign to see him starting to get on track.
Billy Hamilton hasn't stolen a base in three games.
For anyone else, that may seem pretty routine, but for Hamilton it is the longest stolen base drought of the season, equaled only by a similar three-game drought in mid-May.
Hamilton's bat has had no problems making the adjustment to Double-A. Since his promotion, Hamilton is hitting .333/.458/.513 including five hits in his last eight at-bats. But he's been slowed on the basepaths for the first time all season. Hamilton is average 1.2 steals per game for the season. Since his promotion to Double-A, he's stolen eight bases in 12 games and he's been thrown out in three of his last five attempts.
Tonight would appear to be a good night to end his slump, the Huntsville Stars, Pensacola's opponent, is second worst in the league in throwing out basestealers (25 percent) and is second worst in the league in number of steals allowed (108).
Presented here are the top 10 pitcher game scores from weekend series.
|TOP 10 GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • JULY 20-22
|Jose Cisnero||HOU||Corpus Christi||Texas||AA||9||5||1||1||7||0||80|
|Domingo Tapia||NYM||Savannah||South Atlantic||LoA||7||1||1||0||8||2||79|
|Jarred Cosart||HOU||Corpus Christi||Texas||AA||7.2||3||0||0||4||3||75|
|Jesse Biddle*||PHI||Clearwater||Florida State||HiA||8||7||1||1||8||1||71|
• A pair of Angels Double-A Arkansas righthanders stifled Tulsa in consecutive games, Johnny Hellweg delivering seven two-hit, shutout innings on Friday and Orangel Arenas throwing a two-hit complete game the next day. Hellweg has gone 3-4, 1.65 in his last seven starts, with 36 strikeouts, 11 walks and 29 hits allowed in 49 innings, and only San Antonio's Andrew Werner has a lower ERA in the Texas League in that time.
• Nationals 2011 first-round righthander Alex Meyer made his high Class A debut with Potomac on Friday, throwing six shutout innings and allowing just three hits. His fastball peaked in the mid-90s range while his slider touched 88 mph and his knuckle curve featured late break. [...] Continue Reading »
Presented here are the top 10 runs created tallies for position-player prospects from weekend series.
|TOP 10 RUNS CREATED BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • JULY 20-22
|Delino DeShields||HOU||Lexington||S Atlantic||LoA||13||8||3||0||0||2||2||4||5.6|
|Ryan Jackson||STL||Memphis||Pac Coast||AAA||14||7||0||0||2||0||1||0||5.0|
|Charlie Blackmon*||COL||Colo Springs||Pac Coast||AAA||14||7||1||0||1||2||3||1||5.0|
|Gregory Polanco*||PIT||West Virginia||S Atlantic||LoA||12||7||2||0||0||0||0||3||5.0|
|Luis Jimenez||LAA||Salt Lake||Pac Coast||AAA||11||6||0||0||2||1||1||1||4.8|
|*Bats lefthanded. #Switch-hitter.|
• Brian Goodwin isn't the only Nationals center-field prospect making noise in the second half. High Class A Potomac's Michael Taylor, a prep shortstop who moved to the outfield last season, clubbed two of his three homers over the weekend, and he's now batting .296/.359/.521 with 10 extra-base hits in 20 games this month.
• Pop-up prospect Gregory Polanco has batted .412/.470/.637 with 17 extra-base hits and just 10 strikeouts in 29 games since the South Atlantic League all-star break. Going a bit further back, just two SAL batters have a higher OPS than Polanco's .999 since June 1. Look for much more on the Pirates' center field prospect this week in a feature by J.J. Cooper. [...] Continue Reading »
Each player who makes his major league debut this season had a scout and/or scouting director recommended him to his signing organization. To give credit where credit is due, we'll track those scouts and those directors for each player to make the big leagues for the first time in 2012.
Players are sorted in alphabetical order by debut date. Included with each listing is signing organization, year and draft round in parentheses where applicable. Source indicates the high school, college or country from which each player signed. The BA Executive Database supplies the names of scouting directors.
Players listed with an asterisk (*) were major league Rule 5 draft selections last December, while a cross (†) indicates players who were drafted one year and signed the next as part of baseball's defunct draft-and-follow process.
|Player, Pos, Team||Date||Age||Signed||Source|
|Yoenis Cespedes, cf, Athletics||3/28||26||Athletics ’12||Cuba|
|Signed By: Major League FA|
ASHEVILLE, N.C.–Greensboro lefthander Charlie Lowell is on a roll.
Lowell entered the seventh inning of his Saturday start against Asheville, the highest scoring offense in the low Class A South Atlantic League, just as he had his previous two starts—without allowing a hit. Unlike his two previous outings, Lowell retired the side in order to preserve the no-hit bid. But Lowell had thrown 107 pitches and did not return for the eighth, as lefthander Greg Nappo entered and allowed base hits to the first two hitters he faced.
"He went over his pitch limit the last start and obviously he wasn’t going to go two more innings, so we have our rules we have to follow," Greensboro manager Dave Berg said.
Lowell complied with the decision, understanding that long-term goals supercede short-term personal accomplishments. [...] Continue Reading »
Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua has parlayed a suspension into a bigger bonus for a second time, signing today with the Cubs for $1.5 million.
Like any international signing, Paniagua will still require a background investigation and the contract approval of Major League Baseball, which in Paniagua's case has been a problem before.
Paniagua, 22, originally signed with Arizona as Juan Carlos Collado for $17,000 on May 8, 2009. He pitched in Arizona's Dominican Summer League program for parts of two seasons with a pending contract (an option that is no longer allowed) but had his deal terminated due to fraudeulent paperwork and was declared ineligible to sign for one year.
During his time off, his fastball rose from peaking at 92 mph to touching 98 mph, and in 2011 he signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million as Juan Carlos Paniagua. MLB also terminated that contract due to what the league called "falsified documents" and declared him ineligible to sign for one year, a penalty that ended today.
Paniagua hasn't shown the same velocity he had when he signed with the Yankees—he sat at 93-95 mph at a May workout in Puerto Rico—but his 81-84 mph slider has improved after some scouts last year thought it was a slurvy pitch that graded out behind his changeup. He also throws an occasional curveball, and while he was around the plate in Puerto Rico, his command and pitchability have been issues in the past.
The date of birth he is using (April 4, 1990) is the same one he used to sign with both the Diamondbacks and the Yankees. Since Paniagua had to wait until after July 2 to sign, his bonus will count against the Cubs' bonus pool for the 2012-13 international signing period if his contract is approved.
Paniagua should have the opportunity to move quickly with the Cubs. The organization also signed Frandy de la Rosa, a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop and the No. 19 international prospect for July 2, for $700,000.
Paniagua has worked with several representatives since leaving the Diamondbacks. He was with Alfredo Arias of the Arias and Goodman academy when he signed with the Yankees, though most recently he has been working out with Felix Liriano, Dario Moreno Marte (known as "Ochoa") and Rudy Santin.
The Diamondbacks have signed Ismael Pena, a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic.
Pena, 16, was born in Canada but moved to the Dominican Republic within the last few years. He's a 6-foot-3, 175-pound lefty with a sound swing, a good approach and a hit-first, power-second profile. He's an average runner with a 45 to 50 arm on the 20-80 scale.
Arizona has shown an increased presence internationally during the 2012-13 international signing period, which began on July 2. The Diamondbacks also signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara (the No. 18 international prospect), Colombian catcher Osvaldo Garcia and Dominican shortstop Fernery Ozuna.
Now that all of the 2012 draft picks who are going to sign have signed, it's time to take another look at who are the youngest players in each league. But before we do that, it's also worthwhile to take a look at what are the median ages in each league. What's notable is that the International League's median player is roughly half a year older than the other Triple-A league and the Eastern League's median age is a half year older than the other Double-A leagues.
|Pacific Coast League||AAA||26.8|
|Florida State League||HiA||23.4|
|South Atlantic League||LoA||22.5|
|New York-Penn League||SS||21.8|
|Gulf Coast League||R||20.2|
|Dominican Summer League||R||19.1|
|Venezuelan Summer League||R||17.2|
When looking at the youngest players in each league, there are a couple of roster quirks. Phillies prospect Carlos Tocci hasn't played a game in the South Atlantic League this year, but he is on the Lakewood disabled list because of roster technicalities. Any player who is on the disabled list is marked by an asterisk.
Bryce Harper is not only the youngest player in the majors by over a year, but he'd also be the youngest player in both Triple-A leagues by over a year, two of the three Double-A leagues and the high Class A California League [...] Continue Reading »
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