Official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Jan. 21-28.
Signed: RHP Mike DeMark (re-signed), 3B Chris Nowak (York (Atlantic))
Traded: 3B Chris Johnson and OF Justin Upton to Braves for RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Zeke Spruill, 3B Brandon Drury, SS Nick Ahmed and OF Martin Prado
Chris Nowak played in the Brewers system in ’11 but didn't latch on with an affiliated club last year, beginning in the Mexican League (five games) before signing with York and batting .285/.391/.570 with an Atlantic League-leading 34 homers and 107 RBIs in 129 games.
Traded: RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Zeke Spruill, 3B Brandon Drury, SS Nick Ahmed and OF Martin Prado to Diamondbacks for 3B Chris Johnson and OF Justin Upton
Signed: RHP Rob Delaney, RHP Manny Delcarmen, OF Chris Pettit, OF Andrickson Zorrilla (NDFA—Advanced Software Analysis (N.Y.) JC)
The Orioles' foray into the minor league free agent market has turned up more than a dozen players with big league experience. The list includes not only Rob Delaney, Manny Delcarmen and Chris Pettit above, but also Lew Ford, Travis Ishikawa, Conor Jackson, Daniel McCutchen, Jason Pridie, Niuman Romero and Rich Rundles. [...] Continue Reading »
Another roster has been discovered with a date of birth for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz that conflicts with the one he has presented to Major League Baseball.
The roster that the Cuban team used at Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands in July lists Diaz being born Aug. 1, 1991, not Jan. 8, 1990 as he has claimed. If that date of birth is accurate, then Diaz would be 21, not 23.
Baseball America reported earlier today that MLB is currently investigating Diaz's age. One report on Cuba's official baseball website from December 2007 has him being born Aug. 1, 1990, which would make him 22 now and would match reports from Cuban media outlets in July that Diaz was 21 at the time he defected, but it doesn't match the Aug. 1, 1991 date of birth on the Haarlem Baseball Week roster. A roster from the 2010 Pan-American games in Puerto Rico did list Diaz as being born in 1991, although no specific month or date was listed.
While many players have falsified their ages in an attempt to appear younger and thus more attractive to major league teams, there is greater benefit to Diaz to be 23, since that would mean he would be exempt from the 2012-13 international bonus pools. Until July 2, 2014, Cuban players who are at least 23 and have played at least three seasons in Serie Nacional—which Diaz has done for Villa Clara—won't have their contracts count against a team's international bonus pool. If MLB determines that Diaz has presented a false age, he would potentially be subject to a penalty of being ineligible to sign for one year.
Diaz, who is claiming permanent residency in Mexico, is represented by Jaime Torres. Reports from scouts on Diaz remain modest.
The Dodgers have signed Michael Medina, a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, for $275,000.
Medina, who is from Santo Domingo and trained with Amauris Nina, is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and played in the International Prospect League all-star game last week. He showed a projectable frame with good bat speed from the right side, power and the ability to use the opposite field. He most likely projects as a corner outfielder, with a solid arm that could fit in right field.
Medina was one of the youngest players who became eligible to sign in 2012, as he didn't turn 16 until Aug. 24. Had he been born a little more than a week later, he wouldn't have been eligible to sign until July 2, 2013.
Last month the Dodgers also added another Dominican outfielder for a six-figure bonus, signing Ariel Sandoval for $150,000.
Major League Baseball is investigating the age of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, according to multiple sources.
Diaz is presenting himself as a 23-year-old born Jan. 8, 1990. However, that date conflicts with previous accounts of when he was born, according to multiple sources. A December 2007 story on the official website of Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional, referred to Diaz being born on Aug. 1, 1990, which would make him 22. When news of Diaz leaving Cuba started appearing in Cuban media outlets last year in July, multiple stories referred to him being 21 at the time, which would match the Aug. 1, 1990 date of birth.
Further complicating the situation is that a roster from the 2010 Pan-American games in Puerto Rico says that Diaz was born in 1991, although there is no specific date of birth listed other than the year.
For Diaz and anyone else who has a percentage in his contract, it's more advantageous for him to be 23 than 21 or 22. While international signings are subject to the $2.9 million bonus pools for the 2012-13 international signing period, Cuban players with at least three years of professional experience in Cuba (which Diaz has) and who are at least 23 are exempt from the bonus pools. MLB, however, has yet to rule on whether Diaz is exempt from the bonus pools.
"I only go by the documentation that I have from the player," said Jaime Torres, the agent for Diaz. "I've seen from different rosters, different ages for players in Cuba, so I don't pay much attention to what is put on the pages from Cuba."
Torres also suggested that the conflicting dates could be a mix-up from the differences in which dates are presented in the United States as month/day/year compared to certain Latin American countries, which present dates as day/month/year.
"Only the player and the family should know the correct date of birth, not the sports authority from Cuba, the Cuban government," Torres said. "What I have, showing his date of birth, is 1/8/90—January 8, 1990."
Torres also said that MLB is insisting that Diaz present an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before can enter into agreement with a major league team, even though Diaz and Dariel Alvarez (another Torres client) are claiming permanent residency in Mexico. Due to federal laws about American companies and U.S. citizens, a player must present either a specific OFAC unblocking license or two permanent residency documents from another country, but Torres said MLB is forcing Diaz to go through OFAC. Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, another Torres client, used permanent Mexican residency documents last year in June to sign a $42 million contract with the Dodgers, while Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler (who was represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management) used permanent Haitian residency papers to sign with the Cubs. MLB declined to comment this afternoon on Diaz's paperwork or the requirements for entering into agreement with a major league team.
"The next step, the reason why we haven't had showcase, is there's a new issue that's come up that I don't agree with and it's that MLB is insisting on having an OFAC license to sign," Torres said. "The OFAC regulations do not require that. In Aledmys Diaz's case and Alvarez, both players have established permanent residency in Mexico. Both players have at least two or more documents showing that they are permanent residents of Mexico, therefore they are deemed unblocked. We're having that issue looked at right now by the (Major League Baseball) Players Association."
Torres also represented Cuban outfielder Felix Perez when he agreed to a deal with the Yankees in the neighborhood of $3.5 million while presenting himself as a 20-year-old in 2009 before his contract terminated when MLB determined he was using false paperwork and he was really 24. Perez ended up signing with the Reds for $550,000 in May 2010.
Age questions and unblocking issues aside, scouting reports on Diaz's talent remain modest. Though Diaz has played shortstop in Cuba, scouts have said he doesn't have the lateral range, quickness or footwork to stay at the position. Diaz has shown some ability with the bat, hitting .315/.404/.500 in 313 plate appearances for Villa Clara in his final season in Cuba, albeit in a high-offensive environment in which he ranked 30th in the league in OBP and tied for 20th in slugging.
Official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Jan. 15-20
Signed: LHP Eric Pfisterer (NDFA—Duke), SS Mattia Mercuri
International baseball sites indicate that Mattia Mercuri is an 18-year-old Italian middle infielder who played in the IBAF World Championships last year. Baseball-Reference has a record for him on the roster for Nettuno of the Italian Baseball League.
Signed: RHP Zach Staniewicz, LHP Rich Rundles (re-signed)
Zach Staniewicz pitched for four seasons at Concordia (N.Y.) College, then spent a couple seasons in the low-level independent leagues, working as both an outfielder and righthander. He put his baseball ambitions on the back burner to join the Army in ’11, according to The Examiner, a media outlet based in Hudson Valley, N.Y., but he never stopped trying to master a knuckleball. Staniewicz crossed paths with Orioles GM Dan Duquette while serving in the military, and Duquette reportedly liked the knuckler's potential enough to give the 26-year-old a tryout and now a minor league contract.
In any other organization, Staniewicz would seem to be the longest of long shots, but Baltimore did resuscitate the careers of Miguel Gonzalez and Lew Ford last year. [...] Continue Reading »
After watching him pitch in the International Prospect League all-star game on Friday, the Reds have signed Dominican lefthander Jacob Constante for $730,000.
Constante, who turns 19 in March, is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and threw 92-94 mph with good life on his fastball at the IPL event. He showed solid mechanics for his age and flashed a potentially above-average slider at 80-83 mph. He also threw a below-average 83-84 mph changeup that he had trouble keeping out of the dirt. Constante, who is from Santo Domingo and trained with Rudy Santin, is also already fluent in English.
The Constante signing is the biggest bonus bonus the Reds have agreed to with an international player during the 2012-13 signing period, which began on July 2. The only amateur lefthanders who have signed for more money during the current signing period were Venezuela's Jose Castillo, who signed for $1.55 million with the Rays, and Brazil's Luiz Gohara, who landed with the Mariners for $880,000.
GUERRA, Dominican Republic—The history of Dominican pitchers signed at age 16 is not good.
In recent years, teams have started to spend more money on Dominican pitchers who have established themselves once they were older than 16, the most notable recent examples being Cardinals righthander Carlos Martinez ($1.5 million), Yankees righthander Rafael DePaula ($500,000) and Cubs righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua ($1.5 million).
Jacob Constante isn't at that level, but the 18-year-old Dominican lefty has established himself as one of the top prospects on the market eligible to sign right now. Constante was one of the starting pitchers at today's International Prospect League all-star game at the Rays academy. He worked efficiently through the first inning and, despite having a few guys square him up well in his second inning, he made a strong impression with close to 100 scouts—including several international directors and a handful of scouting directors—in attendance.
Constante, who is from Santo Domingo and is training with former Rays Latin American director Rudy Santin, has a big, durable body at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and solid mechanics for his age. He worked at 92-94 mph today and plus life, to the point where the catcher had difficulty receiving the ball cleanly. While that may have been because he was pitching to a Venezuelan catcher who had never caught him before, some who have seen Constante say other catchers have trouble handling his fastball as well. His velocity has increased over the last several months, as he was more in the 90-91 mph range and touching 92 last summer.
Constante also mixed in an 80-83 mph slider that scouts have said could be an above-average pitch. The pitch was inconsistent, spinning with short action at times, but when it was at its best it had sharp break and got swings and misses from both lefties and righties. Constante also flashed an 83-84 mph changeup, but it's a pitch he's going to need to develop and he had trouble throwing it for strikes and not bouncing it in the dirt.
Unlike Martinez, DePaula and Paniagua, Constante has never been suspended by Major League Baseball over any age or identity discrepancies. Constante, who turns 19 on March 22, is also fluent in both English and Spanish. The word at the field today was that Constante is expected to sign by Monday.
The fifth and sixth drug suspensions of 2013 hit the newswire late Friday afternoon. Both minor league players affected will receive 50-game suspensions without pay.
Athletics righthander Gary Daley tested positive for the stimulant Methylphenidate. The 27-year-old made 34 appearances (18 starts) for Double-A Midland last season, going 10-10, 5.11 with 79 strikeouts and 71 walks in 118 innings. Oakland signed Daley in August 2010, following his release from the Cardinals, the organization that made him a third-round pick out of college in ’06.
Former Dodgers first baseman Austin Gallagher tested positive for the stimulant Methylhexaneamine. His penalty will take effect only if he signs with another organization, however, following his release from Los Angeles on Jan. 13. The 24-year-old Gallagher, the older brother of Royals prospect Cameron, hit .283/.383/.481 with 15 homers in 374 at-bats for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga last season, his third straight in the California League.
Official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Jan. 8-14.
Signed: RHP Stu Pomeranz (non-tendered and re-signed), C Chase Weems (re-signed), 1B Steve Pearce (re-signed after outright assignment), 2B Travis Adair (re-signed)
Signed: LHP Gerardo Concepcion (re-signed after outright sssignment)
Chicago White Sox
Signed: RHP Tony Pena Jr., LHP Steven Evans (released by Twins, July 24), 3B Nick Giarraputo (New Jersey (Can-Am))
Draft pick signed: OF Jason Coats (29)
Tony Pena Jr.'s second career as a righthanded pitcher has taken him through the Royals, Giants and Red Sox organizations prior to settling with the White Sox this month. (You may recall that Chicago took a chance on another converted shortstop in ’09 when it signed Sergio Santos.) Pena garnered attention in the Dominican League, where he led the league with 11.4 SO/9 and ranked fifth with a .195 opponent average, while throwing to his brother Francisco, a Mets farmhand. Tony helped pitch Cibao to the playoffs, where he notched an 11-3 SO-BB ratio in 13 2/3 innings.
A Texas Christian senior, Coats was not subject to the signing deadline. His ’12 draft scouting report reads in part: "(Coats) set a school record with 99 hits in 2010 before turning in a strong summer in the Cape Cod League . . . (but) his righthanded swing got longer and his pitch recognition regressed (in 2011), and he dropped to the Orioles in the 12th round . . . Coats could be a slighty above-average hitter with average power . . . He fits best in left field with his fringy speed, arm and defense. He missed the Mountain West Conference tournament with a sprained right knee." [...] Continue Reading »
World Baseball Classic provisional rosters will be announced Thursday, with the U.S. roster released in the morning and the other 15 provisionals in the afternoon. Cuba, however, scooped MLB Network by releasing its roster on its own.
The Cuban team, which opens play March 2-6 in the same pool with host Japan, Brazil and China, features several familiar names and veterans of Cuban national teams, such as infielder Yulieski Gourriel and outfielder Frederich Cepeda. Gourriel, who was No. 8 on BA's Top 10 WBC prospects list in 2009, is now a 28-year-old seasoned veteran of international play, a membrer of Cuban national teams since the 2002 Intercontinental Cup. Cepeda, 32, also made his senior national team debut in that 2002 tournament and was the hero of the 2004 Olympics. [...] Continue Reading »
Blue Jays minor league reliever Alan Farina missed half of the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and now the righthander will miss at least the first two months of this season after failing multiple drug tests administered by Major League Baseball.
The 26-year-old Farina must serve a 50-game suspension without pay before he can appear in a minor league game, his penalty for twice testing positive for an unspecified "drug of abuse." He actually began the season on Toronto's 40-man roster, but a July 2 outright to high Class A Dunedin made him subject to the minor league drug testing program.
The Blue Jays drafted Farina out of Clemson in the third round in 2007, though injuries have slowed his climb to the big leagues. To this point, he's topped out at Double-A New Hampshire, appearing in 34 games for the Fisher Cats in 2010-11 and recording ratios of 10.8 strikeouts and 3.9 walks per nine innings to go with a 1.47 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over 37 innings.
The commissioner's office announced a pair of 50-game suspensions for two minor league players who tested positive for the stimulant Methylhexaneamine. The suspensions will take effect this season.
Free agent catcher Bryan Henry finished the season with high Class A Visalia, the Diamondbacks' California League affiliate, going 5-for-29 (.172) in eight games. Arizona released him on Oct. 5.
Rays catcher David Wendt also finished last season in high Class A, playing for Charlotte of the Florida State League, where he batted .185/.214/.210 in 81 at-bats. He's a 50th-round pick in 2009 from Dowling (N.Y.) College.
The Mariners have signed Luis Liberato, a 17-year-old Dominican outfielder, for $140,000.
Liberato is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and has flashed a mature approach to hitting from the left side with gap power and advanced baseball instincts for his age. Like many young Dominican amateur hitters, he'll try to sell out for power at times, but when he's at his best he's shown a solid swing. The Mariners believe he can stay in center field, though he has the arm for right field if necessary.
Liberato is from Santiago and trained with Mackey Moreno. He also worked with Franklin Taveras, the father of Mariners Dominican scout Franklin Taveras Jr., who was influential in the signing. It's the first six-figure international signing for the Mariners since they hired Tim Kissner as their international director after the 2012 season and brought in Eddy Toledo as a scout from the Rays.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Jan. 1-7.
Signed: RHP Kyle Mertins (Sioux Falls (American Association)), RHP Mike Recchia (Windy City (Frontier)), LHP David Quinowski (Lincoln (American Association))
Signed: LHP Hisanori Takahashi (released by Pirates, Oct. 29), LHP Dontrelle Willis (released by Orioles, Oct. 16)
Chicago White Sox
Signed: 1B Randy Ruiz (Yokohama (Japan))
Released: RHP Mitch Mustain, LHP Matt Talley [...] Continue Reading »
The Astros' Jonathan Singleton finished last season in Double-A and ranks as the top first-base prospect in the minors, but his flight to Houston has been delayed with the revelation Wednesday that he failed multiple drug tests administered by Major League Baseball and must serve a 50-game suspension at the outset of 2013.
The 21-year-old Singleton twice tested positive for marijuana, which is classified as a "drug of abuse" in the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. “I accept the penalty and take full responsibility for my actions," Singleton said in a statement. "I apologize to my parents, the Houston Astros and (general manager) Jeff Luhnow."
Singleton hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 home runs in 461 at-bats for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2012, leading the Texas League in runs (94) while ranking second with 88 walks and fifth with 52 extra-base hits. He put up a .939 OPS in the second half and, he probably would have made his big league debut near the midpoint of the 2013 season, assuming he didn't fall flat in Triple-A.
Given that he won't get going until June this season, Singleton may have to wait until August or September before receiving a callup to Houston. The Astros may be tempted to add him to the 40-man roster at an earlier point, however, seeing as they'll promote the 2009 draft pick at some point this season, regardless, to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. Houston's 40-man is at capacity now, but included in that count are two big league Rule 5 picks, reliever Josh Fields and first baseman Nate Freiman, who could be waived during spring training.
Other prospects who will begin the 2013 season on the sidelines due to failed drug tests include Ryan Brett (Rays), Josh Sale (Rays) and Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays). Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal flunked a test while with San Diego, but with just 192 big league at-bats to his name, he's not so far removed from being a prospect.
Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson continues to be one of the most perplexing prospects in baseball. He’s a toolsy outfielder with speed and power, but he carries with that a strikeout rate that is rarely seen. Jackson’s 59 strikeouts in 120 big league at-bats last season is even more rare than you may think. With a strikeout in 49.17 percent of his at-bats, Jackson posted the second-highest rate ever by a position player in a big league season of 100 or more at-bats.
Only Athletics catcher Dave Duncan’s 49.5 percent rate in 1967 tops Jackson’s 2012 propensity to swing and miss. With a 100 at-bat cutoff, there have only been 35 players to strike out in 40 percent or more of their at-bats in a season since the integration era began in 1947. It was a very disappointing big league debut for Jackson, who has ranked in the top 40 in each of the past two Baseball America Top 100 Prospect lists.
So can Jackson put his free-swinging ways behind him enough to have big league success? If he does, he’ll be part of a select group. Looking at the players who have come close to Jackson’s 2012 big league strikeout rate finds plenty of players either on their way out of the league or those who never really arrived. A few players who posted similar rates early in their big league careers managed to have some success, but in most cases they were able to succeed because they had another tool, usually massive power or excellent glove work behind home plate, to make up for their offensive deficiencies. If Jackson is able to overcome his strikeout problems to become more than a role player or second division regular, he'll be bucking history.
Here's a look at past players with a similar strikeout rate in the big leagues. [...] Continue Reading »
The Dodgers have signed Ariel Sandoval, a 17-year-old center fielder from the Dominican Republic, for $150,000.
Sandoval is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and impressed the Dodgers with his potential to hit for both average and power from the right side of the plate. He's an above-average runner who should begin his career in center field, though he has the arm strength to play right field if he outgrows the position.
Sandoval, who became eligible to sign on July 2, trained in Haina with Jaime Ozuna. Sandoval is the first six-figure international amateur signing for the Dodgers since vice president of international scouting Bob Engle and Latin American coordinator Patrick Guerrero arrived from Seattle after the 2012 season.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Dec. 22-31.
Signed: LHP Zach Braddock (released by Brewers in May), LHP Daniel Schlereth (non-tendered by Tigers), 1B Travis Ishikawa, OF Adam Greenberg (released by Marlins in October)
Released: RHP Jose Mota, RHP Ryan O'Shea, RHP Jose Rivera, RHP Alex Schmarzo, LHP Casey Lambert
Zach Braddock dealt with control problems (5.3 BB/9) in his 51 innings out of the Brewers bullpen in ’10 and ’11, but he also exhibited swing-and-miss stuff while fanning 10.4 per nine. One of the last cuts in spring training last year, he struggled with anxiety problems before he and Milwaukee agreed that walking away from baseball for a spell was the best course of action. Tom Haudricourt has the details in this must-read piece for followers of the Brewers, Orioles or minor league free agents.
Boston Red Sox
Released: C Aly Gonzalez
Traded: RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Stolmy Pimentel, 2B Ivan De Jesus Jr. and OF Jerry Sands to Pirates for RHP Joel Hanrahan and SS Brock Holt
Since Jonathan Papelbon departed after the ’11 season, the Red Sox have mined the trade market for potential closer options. Last offseason, they included Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie in separate deals for Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon. Neither of those transactions panned out last year, so Boston included Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel in a deal for the PIrates' Joel Hanrahan.
Signed: RHP Zach Putnam (non-tendered and re-signed) [...] Continue Reading »
The Orioles have released their top-paid Latin American signing from 2011, 18-year-old righthander Elvis Duran, after only one professional season.
Duran, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound righthander from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Orioles in August 2011 for $150,000, the largest bonus the Orioles paid to an international amateur free agent in 2011. Duran pitched in six games as a reliever last season in the Dominican Summer League, allowing nine runs in eight innings with seven walks, eight strikeouts and two home runs. Prior to signing, Duran had touched the low-90s, but evaluators had concerns about his stiff delivery and arm action, and according to one source, Duran was released due to an elbow injury.
Duran was signed under the previous regime before general manager Dan Duquette took over and put Fred Ferreira in charge of the team's Latin American scouting. Aside from Henry Urrutia, a 25-year-old professional Cuban outfielder who signed in July for $778,500 using permanent Hatian residency papers and is still awaiting his visa, Duran was Baltimore's most expensive Latin American signing since they landed Dominican third baseman Hector Veloz for $300,000 in July 2010.
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