The Arizona Fall League's annual prospects showcase, the Rising Stars Game, will be played Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern and broadcast live on MLB Network, and the rosters were released Wednesday.
The East roster has plenty of talent, starting with a trio of Astros prospects—starting pitcher Jarred Cosart, first baseman Jonathan Singleton and right fielder George Springer. Springer has hit three homers and ranks fifth in the AFL with a .423 on-base percentage. The East infield also features the two winners of BA's top amateur awards in 2010, High School Player of the Year Kaleb Cowart (Angels) and College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon (Nationals). Rendon continues to work his way back from a fractured left ankle. [...] Continue Reading »
The Mariners have hired Tim Kissner as their new director of international operations, a baseball source confirmed.
Kissner had been with the Cubs for the past two seasons as the team's West Coast crosschecker. Before that, Kissner had scouted for the Phillies since November 2000, including a stint as the team's Pacific Rim coordinator beginning after the 2008 season through 2010. Kissner also had scouted the Northwest and Southern California for the Phillies after starting as an area scout in North Florida, Alabama and Mississippi for the Indians in 1999-2000.
Earlier this month, the Mariners announced that Bob Engle, their former vice president of international scouting, had decided to leave the organization. The Mariners had also fired Latin American coordinator Patrick Guerrero, who has since been hired by the Dodgers with the same title.
The Dodgers have hired Patrick Guerrero as their Latin American coordinator, according to a baseball source.
Guerrero, who lives in the Dominican Republic, will run the organization's scouting throughout Latin America. The Mariners had fired Guerrero as their Latin American coordinator earlier this month at the same time they announced that Bob Engle, their vice president of international scouting, had decided to leave the organization. Seattle's decision to fire Guerrero, according to Baseball America's sources, was made above Engle, an unusual move for a Latin American scout. Both Guerrero and Engle had been with the Mariners since 2000.
The Dodgers are still deciding whether to bring in someone else to serve as an international scouting director. The Dodgers have increased their international spending significantly since their new ownership group took over. Their biggest signing, a seven-year, $42 million contract for Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig shortly before the new rules on international spending kicked in on July 2, was widely viewed in international scouting circles as a colossal overpay.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Oct. 16-23.
Traded: OF Chris Young and cash to Athletics as part of three-team deal in which Athletics traded SS Cliff Pennington to Diamondbacks and SS Yordy Cabrera to Marlins; and Marlins traded RHP Heath Bell and cash to Diamondbacks.
Signed: RHP Carlos Ledezma, C Matt Kennelly (re-signed)
Released: LHP Dontrelle Willis
Acquired: RHP Marcelo Carreno and cash considerations from Tigers as players to be named for OF Jeff Baker [...] Continue Reading »
The Nippon-Ham Fighters drafted Shohei Otani today, but that doesn't mean Otani will be delayed from signing with a Major League Baseball team if he wants to come to the United States.
While the Fighters have exclusive negotiating rights with Otani among teams in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, Otani is still free to sign with an MLB team at any time, an MLB official confirmed.
Otani, an 18-year-old Japanese high school righthander, has stated publicly both before and after the NPB draft that his desire is to sign directly with an MLB team. Just as an MLB draft pick in the U.S. is free to sign with a Japanese team instead, Otani could choose to decline an offer from the Fighters and join an MLB club, and he doesn't have to wait to make a decision.
An MLB team signing Otani would likely rankle the Fighters and other Japanese baseball officials, but there is nothing really preventing him from signing with an MLB team. The club signing him would likely argue that Otani should be free to decide where he wants to play and should not be restricted to playing under the Japanese professional baseball system simply because he was born there.
If the Fighters sign Otani and try to post him, Otani would still fall under the $2.9 million international bonus pools for the 2012-13 signing period, the MLB official confirmed. While Otani would no longer be an amateur player, foreign professionals need to be at least 23 and have at least five years in a recognized pro league. such as NPB, to be exempt from the bonus pools.
Righthander Shintaro Fujinami, who was drafted by the Hanshin Tigers, has told sources that he will start his professional career in Japan. While Otani has gotten more hype because of his public statements that he would like to sign with an MLB team directly out of high school, several scouts have said they think the 18-year-old Fujinami is the country's top high school prospect.
Red Sox farmhand Boss Moanaroa and former Blue Jays farmhand Scott Campbell highlight New Zealand's roster for the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament in November.
New Zealand joins host Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines in the event, scheduled for Nov. 15-18 in New Taipei City in Taiwan. Rosters are due Nov. 7 for that event and the concurrent qualifier in Panama City, Panama, which will include the host nation, Brazil, Colombia and Nicaragua.
Undeterred by Shohei Otani's public statements that he plans to sign with a Major League Baseball team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters drafted the Japanese high school righthander on Thursday. Righthander Shintaro Fujinami, the 18-year-old Japanese high school pitcher who some scouts prefer to Otani, went to the Hanshin Tigers.
Despite being drafted, Otani, 18, still has the option to sign with an MLB team instead. It's a situation that rarely comes up, as top Japanese high school pitchers typically stay in Japan and almost never sign directly with an MLB team. Fujinami is of course in the same situation, but sources have said he has told people that his preference is to stay in Japan.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Oct. 9-15.
Signed: LHP Matt Way (Laredo (American Association)), C Humberto Cota (Monterrey (Mexican)), C Chris McMurray (re-signed), C Rossmel Perez (re-signed)
Released by the Reds during spring training ’09, Humberto Cota made his way to the Mexican League that season and has spent the past four years with Monterrey. He played catcher, first base and DH this season and hit .320/.406/.469 with five homers in 175 at-bats.
The Phillies drafted Washington State senior Matt Way in the fifth round of the ’09 draft and rushed him to low Class A in time for the South Atlantic League playoffs that season. He allowed a .197 average and one home run to righties over 234 at-bats in his debut, seemingly on his way to profiling as a back-end lefty starter. But then Way made just 17 appearances in ’10, spent all of ’11 on the disabled list and got released during spring training ’12. He pitched well enough in the American Association (7.8 strikeouts, 4.3 walks per nine innings) to get another shot in affiliated ball.
Signed: OF Jordan Parraz (re-signed) [...] Continue Reading »
The Tigers left fielder in Game Two of the American League Championship Series led off the seventh inning and struck one of the game's critical hits. He drove a pitch from the Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda to deep center field for a double. He then scored on a Delmon Young groundout three batters later, breaking a scoreless tie. Detroit went on to win the game 3-0.
Little more than three hours later, in Game One of the National League Championship Series, the Giants left fielder cut San Francisco's deficit in half with a fourth-inning triple to right-center field off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. His extra-base hit plated two runs, and he came around to score when the next batter, Brandon Crawford, doubled. The Giants bullpen held St. Louis scoreless for the final five innings, but the damage had been done and San Fran lost the game 6-4.
While the events outlined above appear commonplace, the identity of the rally-starters may surprise. Our two heroes from Oct. 14 turned out to be Quintin Berry (Tigers) and Gregor Blanco (Giants), a pair of players signed as minor league free agents last offseason.
Even the Yankees haven't been immune from turning to a minor league free agent import for help. Jayson Nix started at least 10 games at third base, shortstop and second base during the regular season, only to be pushed into service as everyday shortstop during the ALCS after Derek Jeter fractured his ankle in Game One. [...] Continue Reading »
Here's a look at Thursday's AFL action.
• Righthander Kyle Gibson (Twins) return from Tommy John surgery took an encouraging turn. Gibson struck out eight in five scoreless innings. BA correspondent Peter Wardell reports from the game that Gibson was able to run his 92-94 mph fastball up and in on righthanders, breaking a couple of bats. He also showed an effective 84-86 mph slider that was a very useful out pitch. Wardell also shot some video from Gibson's outing.
• Righthander Seth Blair (Cardinals) missed most of the 2012 season after having surgery to remove a tumor from above the knuckle on the middle finger of his pitching hand. So for Blair, the Arizona Fall League is a chance to get back some of the innings he missed during the regular season. His first outing was an encouraging sign. Blair allowed one hit and one unearned run while walking two and striking out five in three innings of work. His fastball sat at 91-93 mph, touching 96.
• Outfielder Mike O'Neill (Cardinals) just keeps doing what he does, which is working counts, drawing walks and generally making himself a pest to pitchers. O'Neill had a pair of hits and two walks in five plate appearances. He also stole a base. In two games O'Neill is hitting .400 with four walks and a .667 on-base percentage. [...] Continue Reading »
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Oct. 2-8.
The players in this installment who have elected free agency have done so under Article XX(D) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which states in part: "Any player whose contract is assigned outright to a minor league club for the second time or any subsequent time in his career may elect . . . to become a free agent." Players can begin filing the day after the regular season ends, and up through Oct. 15.
Signed: OF Brent Clevlen (re-signed)
Released: RHP Victor Acosta, RHP Chase Brewer, RHP Victor Capellan, RHP Tanner Hamilton, RHP Kyle Owings, RHP Chris Pack, RHP Dexter Price, RHP Michael Rivera, LHP Harry Marino, LHP Elroy Urbina, C Kevin Dultz, C Bryan Henry, 1B Jake Williams, 2B Jesus Abreu, 2B Eric Groff, 3B Jimmy Comerota, 3B Miles Walding, OF Shaun Cooper
Elected free agency: LHP Zach Kroenke
Reinstated from DL: C Raywilly Gomez
Signed: C Nathan Hass, OF Juan Reyes
The Braves signed Nathan Hass, an 18-year-old Australian catcher who told the Sunshine Coast Daily, "My goal is to get signed to play professional—go as high as I can over in the States."
Elected free agency: OF Jai Miller
Reinstated from DL: RHP Dennis Torres, C Tanner Murphy, 1B Nik Balog, 2B Tommy Richards, SS Byron Capellan, OF Oswill Lartiguez [...] Continue Reading »
We're taking a look at the good, the bad and the in between from Wednesday's Arizona Fall League games.
• In one of the deepest farm systems in the game, it’s harder for a prospect to get noticed. First baseman Chris McGuiness is the best first base prospect in the Rangers’ system if you view Mike Olt as a third baseman. Acquired from the Red Sox in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade, McGuiness has a very good feel of the strike zone, uses the opposite field well and is starting to tap into his solid power potential. On Wednesday, McGuiness went 4-for-5 with a double and a home run. McGuiness will be Rule 5 eligible if he isn’t added to the 40-man roster.
• Center fielder Brian Goodwin (Nationals) impressed scouts this season with an advanced approach and plenty of tools. He may be adding more admirers in the Arizona Fall League as he went 2-for-4 with a home run to right field off of Chia-Jen Lo.
• It was a good day for Nationals prospects and Salt River. First baseman Matt Skole homered as well as part of a 3-for-5 day that included a double.
• Third baseman Matt Davidson (Diamondbacks) got Salt River’s easy 11-3 win over Mesa going with a three-run home run in the first inning. Davidson later added a single and walk and scored three runs.
• One more Salt River regular hit a home run. Left fielder Kevin Pillar (Blue Jays), one of the best pop-up prospects in the organization this year, homered as part of a two-hit day.
• The fact that first baseman Jonathan Singleton (Astros) homered off of Sam Dyson (Blue Jays) wasn’t all that surprising. After all, Singleton is one of the best first base prospects in the game. The fact that Singleton tripled in the same game was much more surprising. Singleton isn’t exactly a speedster and he has only seven career triples in just under 400 pro games.
• Right fielder Nick Castellanos (Tigers) continued his hot hitting with two more hits in four at-bats, lowering his two-day average to .444. He also stole a base.
• Trevor Rosenthal has been one of the revelations of the playoffs, as the Cardinals’ rookie has dominated with a high-90s fastball and nasty breaking ball. Next year, Sam Freeman might be similarly revelatory. The lefthander can run his fastball up to 95-96 mph with good natural sink. He struck out two in an inning of work.
• Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier (Rays) stole three bags in three attempts as part of a 1-for-4 afternoon.
• As good as first baseman/outfielder Brock Kjeldgaard (Brewers) was in 2011, his 2012 has been equally snakebit. Kjeldgaard broke a finger in April sliding into a bag. That injury sent him to the disabled list. Once he returned, he never really got comfortable at the plate, struggling to a .211/.326/.398 stat line between high Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He also was dropped from the Brewers’ 40-man roster. Kjedgaard started to put his rough 2012 behind him with a pair of hits including a home run for Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Arizona Fall League’s 2012 season began on Tuesday with a full slate of games. Among the most impressive debuts was that of one of the league’s youngest players. Cubs’ 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez homered and doubled in his Arizona Fall League debut.
Here’s a look at some of the good, bad and the in-between from the first day of the Arizona Fall League season.
• Shortstop Javier Baez (Cubs) went 2-for-4 with a home run and double for the most impressive first day in the AFL. Baez did strike out in his other two at-bats. In the field, Baez was involved in only two assists and one putout, but he handled all three opportunities flawlessly.
• Lefthander James Paxton (Mariners) is trying to catch up for some lost time as he missed part of the Southern League season with a calf injury. So far, so good. Paxton was dominating, striking out five while allowing one hit and one walk in three innings. His fastball sat at 92-94 mph and touched 96 mph.
• Despite throwing less than 50 percent strikes, righthander Justin Marks (Royals) threw three scoreless innings, allowing no hits and two walks. Marks wasn't able to match Paxton's velocity, but he did sit at 90-92 mph. [...] Continue Reading »
The Brewers announced promotions for two staff members, including naming Manny Batista the organization's Latin America scouting director.
Batista, 51, joined the Brewers in 2010 and had coverage in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. He became Milwaukee's director of Venezuelan scouting following the 2011 season after the team reassigned Fernando Arango, who has since been let go, from Latin American coordinator to director of Dominican scouting.
Prior to joining the Brewers, Batista, who began scouting in 1982, had previously served as the Latin American coordinator for the Rangers from 1998-2009 and had also worked as an area scout in Puerto Rico for Texas. Batista will be in charge of scouting and re-staffing the team's scouting staff in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
The Brewers also announced that they have promoted Eduardo Brizuela to director of Latin America operations/scouting. Brizuela, 26, joined the Brewers in 2009 as an intern in advance scouting and has been the team's coordinator of administration. Brizuela helped the Brewers with their Dominican academy that opened in November 2011. He will take on additional scouting responsibilities and help the team's Latin American players transition to the United States.
“The promotions of Eduardo and Manny from our system and the restructuring of our scouting and operations in Latin America will serve notice that we are stepping up our involvement in Latin America,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a press release. “I have total confidence that with our presence at the Dominican Republic Academy in San Pedro de Macoris, the leadership of Eduardo and the multiple years of scouting experience that Manny brings, we will make strides in improving the signing of players for our system.”
The Mariners are making significant changes to their international program.
Longtime scout Bob Engle, the organization's vice president of international scouting, told the team he will depart when his contract expires Oct. 31. He said he was offered a contract extension but decided not to return, declining to comment further on the circumstances of his departure.
Seattle has also fired Patrick Guerrero, the team's Latin American coordinator and one of the most high-profile scouts based in the Dominican Republic. Industry sources say Engle regarded Guerrero as his right-hand man, and that the decision to fire Guerrero did not come from Engle but instead was made by someone above him in the organization, a rare occurrence for a Latin American scout.
Former Mariners general manager Pat Gillick hired Engle in January 2000. The team has netted a considerable amount of international talent during that time, including Felix Hernandez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, among many others. Under Engle's watch, the Mariners were among the most aggressive teams not only in Latin America but all over the world. Prior to joining the Mariners, Engle worked for Gillick as a scouting director in Toronto, where he was involved in drafting Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Pat Hentgen, who like Hernandez all have won a Cy Young Award. He began his career as a Midwest scouting supervisor for the Orioles in 1974 and has earned respect across the industry for his scouting acumen.
Guerrero, who is named in honor of Gillick, has been with the Mariners since 2000, when he was hired by Gillick. Guerrero is the son of Epy Guerrero, the former Blue Jays Latin American coordinator while Gillick was Toronto's general manager. Patrick worked in Toronto in 1995, then followed Gillick to the Orioles from 1996-98 before returning to work for Engle in Toronto in 1999.
Under Guerrero's watch in the Dominican Republic, the Mariners signed righthander Michael Pineda, and Guerrero contributed to the club's scouting throughout Latin America. However, in recent years the team has had issues involving Dominican players. The Mariners signed Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero for $2.9 million in December 2009, then later reduced his bonus to $1.1 million for undisclosed reasons. The team was also ensnared in the age scandal involving George Soto, the son of prominent Dominican trainer Enrique Soto who used a false age four years younger than his real age to sign for $700,000 in 2007.
In May, the Mariners moved out of Epy Guerrero's complex and into a complex they share with the Dodgers. The team bought land and plans to build a new facility in the Dominican Republic.
“This was a very tough decision for me,” Engle said in a Mariners press release. “I have had a great time in Seattle and am proud to have served with so many fine people in the international department. I cannot thank the scouts and field personnel enough for their dedication and hard work.
“I have to thank (chairman and CEO) Howard (Lincoln) and (president) Chuck (Armstrong) as well as ownership and the many people behind the scenes who are never recognized for their efforts and support. In addition, I want to thank Pat Gillick, Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik for allowing us to expand the international program since my arrival.
“This was a most difficult decision to make, and I am planning to take the remainder of October to spend time with my family and assess my future and if I want to retire or remain in the game.”
In the release, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said: “I want to thank Bob for all of his efforts on behalf of the Mariners. He and the international group that he led have done important work in identifying and signing players from around the world for the Mariners, including Felix Hernandez, Jose Lopez and many others that have made an impact on our major league roster.”
Armstrong added: "On behalf of the Mariners organization and myself, I would like to add my thanks for Bob for his work over the past 13 years. And on a personal note, I would like to thank Bob, and his wife Barbara, for both their friendship and the passion which Bob brought to his work.”
Update, 3:40 pm ET: Zduriencik e-mailed Baseball America and said that, per club policy, the club does not comment on personnel changes, but added: "We are thankful and appreciative of Patrick's efforts and contributions to the Seattle Mariners, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
The Angels have elected to not renew the contract of international scouting director Marc Russo, Baseball America has learned.
After working for the organization since 2001 as an East Coast crosschecker and then a major league scout, Russo took over international scouting responsibilities in November 2010. The Angels had fired their previous international director, Clay Daniel, shortly before July 2 in 2009, cleaned house of their international scouting department and essentially went dormant overseas for a year until Russo took over.
Other international directors around the game praised Russo for his work ethic in trying to rebuild the organization's international program from the ground up while working with minimal resources—the Angels ranked 24th in estimated international amateur spending last year and ranked 28th in 2010—and trying to build an international scouting staff from scratch.
Venezuelan shortstop Jose Rondon and Dominican righthander Arjenis Fernandez both drew attention this year in the Rookie-level Arizona League, while righthander Alfonso Alcantara signed touching 92-93 mph last year and ran his fastball up to 100 mph this year in the Dominican Summer League. The Angels reached the DSL championship series this year after winning the title in 2011.
It's not yet known who the Angels will hire to replace Russo in general manager Jerry Dipoto's first hire for the position.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Sept. 25-Oct. 1.
Signed: RHP Bo Schultz (re-signed)
Released: 2B Matt Jensen
Recalled: RHP Jonathan Albaladejo, RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Sam Demel, RHP Joe Martinez, LHP Joe Paterson, 3B Josh Bell
Assigned to Arizona Fall League: RHP Chase Anderson, RHP Evan Marshall, RHP Kevin Munson, RHP Eric Smith, 2B Tyler Bortnick, 3B Matt Davidson, SS Chris Owings
Signed: RHP Cory Rasmus (re-signed), LHP Ryan Buchter (re-signed), 2B Alden Carrithers (re-signed)
Released: RHP Dustin Evans
Traded: RHP Greg Ross to Tigers as player to be named for OF Jeff Baker
Reinstated from DL: RHP Dustin Evans
Assigned to Arizona Fall League: RHP Cory Rasmus, RHP Zeke Spruill, LHP Ryan Buchter, LHP Chris Jones, C Matt Kennelly, 3B Edward Salcedo, SS Nick Ahmed
Dustin Evans, a second-round pick out of Georgia Southern in ’06, hasn't played since August ’08, when he was a member of high Class A Myrtle Beach. He spent all of ’09 on the disabled list, and then voluntarily retired in June ’10.
Recalled: RHP Oliver Drake, 1B Joe Mahoney
Added to 40-man roster: 2B Bill Hall [...] Continue Reading »
The signs that Billy Hamilton's days as a shortstop were numbered became pretty clear when he was listed on the Arizona Fall League rosters as an outfielder. But now the Reds have made it official. Reds vice president of scouting and player development Bill Bavasi told MLB.com that Hamilton will start focusing on playing center field.
"There are a lot of reasons," Bavasi told MLB.com. "We have [Zack] Cozart. We have Didi [Gregorius]. If you watch Hamilton's style of play, it's a pounding style of play. It would be an easier position for his body to take along with the basestealing. Everything seems to work better."
Hamilton has taken fly balls in center field regularly during the season, which helped lay the groundwork for a potential move. With a rookie shortstop in Cincinnati and Gregorius, a better defender than Hamilton, already playing in Triple-A, the move to the outfield may speed up Hamilton's timetable to the majors. His defense at shortstop was considered the biggest question mark in his game. Scouts said his hands were somewhat stiff and he had a tendency to drop his arm slot, which affected his accuracy on throws to first.
While a move to center field will require adjustments for Hamilton, his 80 speed on the 20-to-80 scouting scale should be an asset. A couple of the Reds' minor league coaches who have watched him track fly balls said they wouldn't be surprised if he quickly turned into a well above-average defensive center fielder.
"He's so athletic you could put him in the outfield right now and not hesitate (about playing him)," Reds field coordinator Freddy Benavides said back in April.
The Reds currently have Drew Stubbs in center field, but the 2006 first-round pick is hitting .214/.278/.314 this year and has had to split time with Chris Heisey recently because of his struggles. He will be arbitration eligible for the first time heading into the 2013 season.
Journeyman center fielder Joey Gathright has spent at least part of the past three seasons in independent baseball, with his only big league time coming as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement for the Red Sox in September 2011. The 31-year-old Gathright, whom the Reds released in July, will have an even longer road back to the majors following news that he tested positive for an amphetamine, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the minor league drug program.
Gathright must serve a 50-game suspension before he can suit up for another affiliated minor league club. Even if the free agent signs a minor league deal with an organization this offseason he won't be able to take the field until late May or early June.
In his youth, Gathright's top-of-the-line speed and crazy athleticism made him one of the Rays' top prospects. He reached Triple-A Durham at age 23 in 2004, then jumped to Tampa Bay late that June, a mere three years after being a 32nd-round draft pick out of La Place, La. Though Gathright hit just .244/.312/.291 in parts of three seasons with some terrible Rays teams, the Royals perceived growth potential, so in June 2006—in one of general manager Dayton Moore's first trades—Kansas City dealt lefty J.P. Howell to Tampa Bay to acquire the speedy 25-year-old. [...] Continue Reading »
At the start of the 2012, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances were the Yankees' top pitching prospects.
Banuelos, as reported by the Trentonian, will require Tommy John surgery. Betances had a disastrous season (6.43 ERA in 131 innings), but will try to end his season on a positive note in the Arizona Fall League. The Yankees had several "TBA" spots when preliminary Arizona Fall League rosters were released toward the end of August, but they (and teams such as the Blue Jays and Giants) have now filled all their TBA spots.
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