DURHAM, N.C.—While neither Pirates righthander Brad Lincoln nor Rays righty Wade Davis were particularly dominant in a game at Triple-A Durham on Sunday, Lincoln showed two above-average pitches and encouraging signs of progress.
Indianapolis pulled Lincoln after he racked up 72 pitches in four innings, with Lincoln departing having allowed two runs (both coming in the fourth inning), six hits and no walks to go with one strikeout.
“I felt like I pitched well until I got in a jam in the fourth inning there and was able to get out of it with minimal damage,” Lincoln said, “but my pitch count got kind of high so they went ahead and pulled me from the game. Something that I need to work on is being more efficient with pitches and getting guys out early in counts. But for the most part, most of my stuff was working. I was able to not walk anybody and make them put the ball in play.”
Casey Mulligan has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals. He’s a former catcher who has turned into an interesting prospect as a reliever. He’s 3-1, 1.13 with 70 strikeouts in 47 innings between low Class A Quad Cities and high Class A Palm Beach,
And as a side note, he’s done a one-man homage of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video during a Palm Beach Cardinals rain delay, even though he wasn’t even born when the song came out.
ST. LOUIS—Thanks to XM Radio, I’ve been able to watch the last four Futures Games from field level, doing interviews during the game from the dugouts. This year, I was back in the U.S. dugout, and had some extra points that didn’t make it into our Twitter feed.
• Brett Wallace was our first interview during the long rain delay, and the Cardinals third baseman was outstanding to talk to. Wallace relayed that he stayed in touch with former Arizona State teammate Mike Leake, who was the Reds’ first-round pick this year, and made sure to reach out to Leake after his poor start against Texas in the College World Series. I’m paraphrasing here, but Wallace said he predicted to anyone who’d listen that Leake would get back on the mound and throw well in Omaha, and he did, throwing six solid innings and striking out seven on two days’ rest.
I got Wallace’s attention by asking him if he’d gotten a pregame brawl started prior to the Futures Game, as Arizona State staged before losing the 2008 super-regional to Fresno State. Wallace rolled his eyes but was a tremendous sport anyway during the interview, to his credit. [...] Continue Reading »
The U.S. got the go-ahead run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but J.C. Sulbaran (Reds) ultimately held on for a 7-5 World victory. Working with a 90-92 mph fastball, Sulbaran easily retired Daryl Jones (Cardinals) on a foulout and Jason Castro (Astros) on a pop to center. He walked Mike Stanton (Marlins) and Danny Espinosa (Nationals) to add some drama, and then Jemile Weeks (Athletics) tried to redeem for his error in the top of the seventh by smashing a liner to deep center. Tyson Gillies (Mariners), who moved to center for the seventh, went back and caught it to end the game.
Two poor defensive plays by the U.S. helped the World take the lead with four runs in the seventh. Brett Lawrie (Brewers) led off with a sharp double to left, went to third on an infield hit by Starlin Castro (Cubs) and scored on a wild pitch by Trevor Reckling (Angels). Castro was on second base with one out when Alcides Escobar (Brewers) chopped a grounder up the middle. U.S. second baseman Jemile Weeks (Athletics) gloved the ball and tried to flip it to shortstop Danny Espinosa (Nationals) in an attempt to hold Castro at third, but the ball got way. Castro scored and Escobar took second. Reckling struck out Tyson Gillies (Mariners) looking on a curveball and gave way to Brad Lincoln (Pirates).
Pinch-hitter Rene Tosoni (Twins) doubled off the glove of first baseman Chris Carter (Athletics), who lived up to his reputation as a defensively-challenge player. Dayan Viciedo (White Sox) followed with another double, giving the World a 7-5 lead with a half-inning to go.
Chia-Jen Lo (Astros) almost had a seven-pitch bottom of the sixth, but third baseman Dayan Vicieco (White Sox) sailed a throw over first baseman Alex Liddi (Mariners) with two out for a two-base error. After reaching Desmond Jennings (Rays) stole third–a Futures Game record?–and Josh Vitters (Cubs) and Chris Carter (Athletics) drew walks to load the bases. Lo buckled down and struck out Scott Sizemore (Tigers) on 95-mph fastballs to keep it a two-run game.
Casey Kelly (Red Sox) continued to reinforce the notion that he has a brighter future as a pitcher than as a shortstop. He needed just eight pitches to get out of the sixth innings, getting all three outs with a 93-94 mph fastball: a comebacker by Dayan Viciedo (White Sox) and flyouts by Carlos Santana (Indians) and Nick Weglarz (Indians).
Luis Perez (Blue Jays) got two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth, but he couldn’t close the door before the U.S. took the lead. Scott Sizemore (Tigers) singled off a changeup, Daryl Jones (Cardinals) singled off a 91-mph fastball and then Jason Castro (Astros) jumped on a curveball, drilling a three-run homer down the line for a 5-3 advantage.
Luis Durango (Padres) led off the top of the fifth with the World’s second bunt single of the day, then became the second member of the World team to steal second base after getting picked off. Tyson Gillies (Mariners) accomplished both of those feats in the third, then stole third base. Durango tried to do the same and was thrown out at third by Jason Castro (Astros). Danny Duffy (Royals), who threw 92-93 mph, got Alcides Escobar (Brewers) on a groundout before walking Gillies, then gave way to Jarrod Parker (Diamondbacks). Parker threw four pitches, including three 95-96 mph fastballs, to get Alex Liddi (Mariners) on an easy fly to right. Still 3-2 World, heading to the bottom of the fifth.
Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) showed a nice changeup and curveball in the fourth inning, striking out Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Desmond Jennings (Rays) to get out of it. He led off the inning by retiring the best prospect in baseball, Jason Heyward (Braves) , on an easy groundout to second, and sandwiched the strikeouts around a walk to Eric Young Jr. (Rockies).
Using almost only a 94-96 mph fastball, Mat Latos (Padres) needed just eight pitches in a 1-2-3 fourth, getting two groundouts and an easy flyout to left.
Francisco Samuel (Cardinals) received a nice welcome from the hometown crowd, but he couldn’t locate his 94-97 mph for strikes. That wasn’t a huge surprise, but the fact that Eric Young Jr. (Rangers) pulled a 97-mph fastball into the seat in right-center was. Young is better known as one of the best basestealers in the minors than as a power hitter. After Samuel issued a pair of walks and allowed Desmond Jennings (Rays) to steal two bases, he got Chris Carter (Athletics) to pop out and was pulled in favor of Leyson Septimo (Diamondbacks). Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) drove in a run with an infield hit, but Septimo struck out Chris Heisey (Reds) on an 85-mph slider and Tyler Flowers (White Sox) on a 95-mph fastball to get out of the inning with a one-run lead.
Tyson Gillies (Mariners) gained a run for the World Team solely with his speed in the top of the third. Facing Brian Matusz (Orioles), Gillies bunted the ball between the mound and first base and BA’s Ben Badler (sitting in the stands) clocked him in 3.4 seconds to first base as he beat it out for a single. Matusz picked him off first base, but Gillies beat the throw to second base for a steal. Then he swiped third and eventually scored when Barbaro Canizares (Giants) grounded into a double play. Interesting thing about the inning was that Matusz worked mostly with his fastball (91-94 mph) when he has a reputation for sometimes relying too much on his fine secondary stuff.
Yohan Flande (Phillies), the only non-replacement Futures Gamer this year who wasn’t written up in the 2009 Prospect Handbook, escaped a two-out rally in the second. Sitting at 91 mph with his fastball, Flande retired Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) on a strikeout and Chris Heisey (Reds) on a grounder before Tyler Flowers (Braves) and Jason Heyward (Braves) touched him for consecutive singles up the middle. But he fanned Eric Young (Rockies) on an 87-mph cutter to get out of it. Still World 2, USA 0 after two innings.
Kyle Drabek (Phillies) continued his impressive comeback from Tommy John surgery with an impressive inning. Drabek needed just 10 pitches to retire the World in order, touching 96 mph while getting Wilmer Flores (Mets) to hit a soft grounder to second base, Luis Durango (Padres) to strike out and Alcides Escobar (Brewers) to hit an easy fly ball to right.
Neftali Feliz (Rangers) subbed for previously announced starter Junichi Tazawa (Red Sox) and looked very impressive after the 4:09 rain delay. Feliz threw mostly fastball, sitting in the upper 90s and touching 101 according to MLB’s pitch f/x system (which is about 4 mph faster than the stadium gun). He struck out Eric Young Jr. (Rockies) and Desmond Jennings (Rays), got worked for a 10-pitch walk by Brett Wallace (Cardinals) and then broke Chris Carter’s (Athletics) bat for a soft lineout right back to the mound.
ST. LOUIS—A few quick observations and reminders from Busch Stadium batting practice:
• Follow BA’s coverage here on the prospects blog, but also on Twitter (www.twitter.com/baseballamerica). Also, I’ll be on Sirius XM Radio’s coverage from the U.S. dugout, with Scott Graham and Jim Kaat calling the action.
• I talked briefly with Charlie Montoyo, the Triple-A Durham manager and one of the coaches for the World team, and he was most impressed by Brett Lawrie (Brewers), who took a mean batting practice. "It’s fun to throw BP to guys with pop," Montoyo said, and then he surprised me by throwing Brewers shortstop Alcides Escobar into that mix. "He stung the ball," Montoyo said.
Jason Heyward put on a nice show for the U.S., showing easy power while hitting in a group with Tyler Flowers, his former Braves system teammate. Josh Vitters, another 2007 first-round pick (he went 11 spots ahead of Heyward) also had a nice round, finishing with a long homer to left-center field. Ben Badler also reports from the field that Mike Stanton (Marlins) and Brett Wallace (Cardinals) were among the U.S. players who had the best BP sessions. [...] Continue Reading »
Kannapolis, N.C.—Between last year’s draft, the signing of a Cuban defector and dealing righthander Javier Vazquez to the Braves, the White Sox have added several quality bats to their farm system over the past year. White Sox roving hitting instructor Jeff Manto was with low Class A Kannapolis for the first week of the season and shared his thoughts on some of the team’s young hitters.
On SS Gordon Beckham: "He’s probably as polished of a college player as I’ve ever seen. He can do it all. There’s not too many chinks in his armor right now—just solid across the board. His weaknesses have not been exposed, but his strengths are numerous. He hits the ball for power, for average, he knows the strike zone and knows his strike zone, so we’re really, really excited about him. He’s polished. He’s ready to play and he needs some minor league at-bats, no doubt, but he’s definitely the closest of everybody in our system."
On 3B Dayan Viciedo: "I think the biggest thing with him will be just adjusting to the lifestyle. I think we have to remember that, you know, to go through what he went through, it’s definitely not easy to come to a new culture, to a new world and perform at the level that he wants to play. So we’re going to have to be patient with him and let him get his feet wet and get comfortable. I think the biggest thing for him also, is to be able to trust the people around him. The sooner he does that, the better off he’s going to be. He has great power to right-center field, he has a good, strong foundation, has fast, fast hands and really has an idea what he’s doing. It’s going to take time to see where he’s at, only because of the adjustment coming over. Another thing, as far as his approach at the plate goes, is learning a new culture and how we pitch. I know baseball is baseball, but I know people who go to other countries have a tough time adjusting to the sequence of pitches and to how the game’s played—why pitches are thrown in different situations and what to look for. Some of the players have an idea of what pitchers are going to do because we’ve faced them in A-ball, Double-A, we’ve faced them all the way up , but Viciedo has no history with anybody, so he’s got to be learning from scratch, basically. But, once he does, he’s going to be a pretty good talent."
DURHAM, N.C. — As David Price stood in front of his locker Saturday night, he couldn’t help but grin and bust jokes with teammates passing by.
His 2009 debut out of the way, the Tampa Bay Rays’ sensational lefty then acknowledged his relief to be onward with the season, confident that even a mixed bag of results in his first meaningful appearance since Game 5 of last year’s World Series will serve as a springboard.
Across the way in the visiting clubhouse, Orioles prized catcher Matt Wieters sat in front of his locker echoing those comments about himself, his night ending in hitless efforts to five trips to the plate, though one was an impressive walk in a 12-pitch battle.
A battle against Price.
“He’s a good hitter,” Price said. “There are going to be days when he goes 2-for-3 off me. He’s going to get his hits and he’s going to his outs. Hopefully there are more in my favor.”
In a much-anticipated matchup pitting Baseball America’s Nos. 1 and 2 prospects, Price and Wieters both served notice Saturday night that their personal one-on-one battles and overall nightly performances should be great box-office draws this season in the Triple-A International League. Or at least before they head on to bigger and better things. [...] Continue Reading »
DURHAM, N.C.–After rain washed out yesterday’s matchup between the game’s two best prospects, we’re back on for live blogging the game tonight from behind the plate.
Rays lefthander David Price gets the start for Durham tonight at 5:05 p.m., facing a Norfolk lineup that should include Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, the No. 1 prospect in baseball. So dust off your F5 keys and we’ll see you here at five. Send in any questions or comments in the comments section below.
You can also follow along with the box score and play-by-play on MiLB.com.
3:52 pm: Been here at the ballpark for an hour, and the weather forecast looks promising with a five percent chance of rain. Norfolk’s just getting off the field after taking BP, so we’ll be back in an hour when the game starts.
5:00 pm: The game’s about to start. Price is warming up in the bullpen, so we should get going in here in about five minutes.
5:05 pm: We’re about to get going. Price is on the mound, Wieters is up third this inning.
5:10 pm: Justin Christian leads off for Norfolk and grounds out to third base. Price starts the game with a 92 mph fastball (strike, looking), a 91 mph fastball (fouled off), a 92 mph fastball away to get to 1-2, then threw Christian the slider for the groundout.
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