SURPRISE, ARIZ.–It’s too early to accurately project minor league rosters. Injuries and decisions on big leagues jobs will cascade down through farm systems.
But at the Rangers/Royals complex you could see the foundations of what should be two of the most talented teams in low Class A–or really anywhere in the minors.
A Rangers intrasquad game Tuesday morning was a cavalcade of prospects. Outfielders Nomar Mazara, Lewis Brinson and Jairo Beras, third baseman Joey Gallo, catcher Jorge Alfaro and shortstop Luis Marte were some of the big names in the lineup. First baseman Ronald Guzman would have joined them if he had not been sidelined by an injury.
You could see most of them head to low Class A Hickory when camp breaks at the end of the month. As another Rangers minor leaguer said while watching Alfaro jog the bases after a home run during the game, ”Our Hickory team is going to be sick.”
At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Marte is good-sized for a shortstop. But playing with a group that includes the 6-foot-5 Beras, 6-foot-5 Gallo, 6-foot-4 Mazara and 6-foot-4 Brinson, Marte looked tiny. [...] Continue Reading »
Coming into the 2008 draft, Kyle Skipworth was considered to be one of the best high school catching prospects in years–a rare elite hitting prospect who could also do a solid job behind the plate.
Nearly five years later, the Marlins are still waiting for Skipworth to hit. But thanks to Jeff Mathis’ broken collarbone, it’s possible that Skipworth will begin the season in the big leagues, even though he struck out in nearly 35 percent of his at-bats last season and carries a career minor league batting line of .217/.285/.414.
In the Marlins’ case, Skipworth may be the best option on a team that really is without any legitimate options. Florida traded away catcher John Buck during the offseason and lost Brett Hayes on waivers. Rob Brantly, picked up in last summer's Anibal Sanchez trade, will be the starter, but until Mathis returns, the Marlins only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Skipworth. [...] Continue Reading »
John Lamb made his 2013 spring training debut on Sunday against the Rangers. It didn’t go particularly well, as Lamb gave up four hits and one run in one inning of work. A nicely timed double play and a well-placed curveball to strike out Yangervis Solarte with runners at first and third kept Lamb’s 2013 spring debut from being worse.
But for the Lamb, the bigger concern has to be his velocity on Sunday. The lefty sat in the mid-80s for most of his inning of work. He never touched 90 mph.
If Lamb's below-average velocity had first cropped up in this first spring outing, it could easily be written off as a pitcher rounding into form in spring training. But now 19 months since he had Tommy John surgery, Lamb has yet to regain the velocity that once made him the Royals’ best pitching prospect. [...] Continue Reading »
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 »
Lefthander Mason Felt, the Reds' fifth-round pick in 2012, is in critical condition after a one-car accident that cost the life of his father. According to the report in the San Angelo Standard-Times, Felt was driving a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck on U.S. Interstate 10 just outside of Ozona, Texas Saturday morning. The truck slid off onto the shoulder of the road. The truck then returned to the road, crossed over the two lanes and into the median, where the truck overturned.
Felt's father, Richard Lee Felt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Mason Felt was taken to Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Texas.
Felt, an Oregon State signee, signed with the Reds quickly after the June draft. He has yet to make his pro debut as he spent the summer recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Reds' spokesman Rob Butcher said that since the accident the Reds' player development department and the minor league medical staff have been in contact with the hospital, San Angelo Police Department and Mason's mother.
Here are the picks in the 2012 Rule 5 draft, beginning with the Major League Phase.
|MAJOR LEAGUE PHASE, ROUND 1|
|1||Astros||Josh Fields, rhp
|With a fastball up to 97 mph, the 27-year-old Fields had the best year of his career after being a first-round pick in 2008. Improved control, which he showed late in 2012 is key to his chances to stick.|
|2||Cubs||Hector Rondon, rhp||Indians|
|Rondon missed most of 2012 after needing a second elbow surgery. When healthy, he shows good command of a low-90s fastball and tops out at 96.|
|3||Rockies||Danny Rosenbaum, lhp||Nationals|
|Rosenbaum has fringy stuff, but eats innings, fills up the strike zone and keeps hitters off balance with his quick tempo.|
|4||Twins||Ryan Pressly, rhp||Red Sox|
|Pressly shows the potential for three plus pitches—a fastball 91-94 mph range, a sharp slider and a deceptive changeup. He had success in Double-A after move to the bullpen|
|5||Indians||Chris McGuiness, 1b||Rangers|
|The Arizona Fall League MVP has a strong lefthanded swing and hit 23 home runs in Double-A this year. He's always shown the ability to get on-base with a good approach at the plate.|
|6||Marlins||Alfredo Silverio, of||Dodgers|
|Showed the potential for five average or better tools, but missed all of 2012 after a car accident resulted in a concussion and an elbow injury. If healthy, could be the safest bet to stick on big league roster.|
|*7||Red Sox (traded to Tigers)||Jeff Kobernus, 2b||Nationals|
|More advanced than the average Rule 5 pick, Kobernus can play solid defense at second, steal some bases (42 in 53 tries in 2012) and hit a little. He lacks power, but plays the game with a hard-edged, heady approach|
|*10||Mets (traded to Tigers)||Kyle Lobstein, lhp||Rays|
|Highly-regarded coming out of high school, Lobstein lost some velocity his senior year and has never regained. He's now a pitchability lefty who works in and out and features a good changeup.|
|14||Diamondbacks||Starling Peralta, rhp||Cubs|
|Peralta's stuff picked up in 2012 as once 88-92 mph fastball now sits 92-94. He pairs that with a slider that shows flashes of being a plus pitch. Held RHB to .613 OPS in 2012, which may help in likely move to bullpen if he's going to stick.|
|15||Phillies||Ender Inciarte, of
|Potential backup outfielder runs well enough and plays good enough defense to possibly stick as a useful pinch-runner/defensive replacement. The lefthanded hitter doesn't have much pop, will be overmatched at the plate.|
|17||White Sox||Angel Sanchez, ss
|Former big leaguer could be an inexpensive utilityman. With 568 big league games, is a known quantity as an adequate glove that can play multiple positions. His bat showed some improvement in 2012 at Triple-A Oklahoma City.|
|23||Orioles||T.J. McFarland, lhp||Indians|
|Touch and feel lefthander has more stuff than most crafty lefties. He normally sits 88-90, but can touch a 92 at times, and he knows how to get the ball to sink or run. McFarland lacks a plus pitch, but might throw enough strikes to survive.|
|24||Rangers||Coty Woods, rhp||Rockies|
|Low-angle reliever can be tough on righthanders in part because he throws a little harder (88-92) than the average sidearmer. Dominated Double-A but fell apart after promotion to Triple-A in 2012. Decent changeup means he's not helpless against lefthanders.|
|1||Astros||Nate Freiman, 1b
|A 6-foot-7 first baseman with big power, Freiman ranked third in the Texas League with 24 home runs in 2012. A star for Team Israel in World Baseball Classic, scouts are concerned that Freiman struggles to catch up to premium velocity.|
|6||Marlins||Brauilo Lara, lhp||Rays|
|Lara has a lean, athletic build that produces a mid-90s fastball and a hard, downer curveball. He went 6-10, 5.71 in high Class A in 2012 so while the stuff is excellent, he's a long ways from being ready to help a big league club.
|1||Astros||Michael Burgess, of||Nationals|
|Once traded for Tom Gorzelanny, big power hasn't played in high minors|
|4||Twins||Mark Sobolewski, 3b||Blue Jays|
|Best defensive 3B in Eastern Lge smacked 20 HR & reached Triple-A|
|6||Marlins||Tyler Kehrer, lhp||Angels|
|Supp pick in 2009 struggles to find zone but strikes out his share of LHB|
|7||Red Sox||Jack McGeary, lhp||Nationals|
|Boston native has pitched 64 IP in three years in between injuries|
|9||Blue Jays||Sawyer Carroll, of||Padres|
|Physical lefty bat offers some on-base skills, some pop; good minors corner man|
|11||Mariners||Eric Farris, 2b||Brewers|
|Brewers 2007 4th-rd drafted by Jack Zduriencik; Good 2B glove, above-avg speed|
|12||Padres||Diego Goris, 3b||Royals|
|Part of Yamacio Navarro deal; more pop than average INF but swings at everything|
|13||Pirates||Ethan Hollingsworth, rhp||Royals|
|Four-pitch mix, sits 90-92 mph, but not many swings and misses; twice-traded|
|15||Phillies||Brendan Lafferty, lhp||Royals|
|Hard-throwing LHP hits 95 mph & secondary stuff is OK; needs to throw more strikes|
|18||Dodgers||Elevys Gonzalez, 3b||Pirates|
|Hit .206 in down year, but switch-hits, plays 3B & 2B, sprays ball around|
|19||Cardinals||Matt Cerda, 3b||Cubs|
|2008 fourth-rounder owns career .371 OBP in minors; 5-9, LHH pest|
|20||Tigers||Eliezer Mesa, of||Athletics|
|Plus range & wheels, went 25-for-29 in SB. Once part of deal for Mark Ellis.|
|21||Angels||Robert Widlansky, of
|Ranked near top of Eastern Lge with .404 OBP, .316 AVG, 35 2B, 64 BB|
|23||Orioles||Tom Boleska, rhp||Twins|
|Gaudy 11.3 SO/9, 5.3 SO/BB in indy American Assoc.; signed by Twins in Oct.|
|24||Rangers||Marquez Smith, 3b||Reds|
|Split 2012 between Mexican Lge & Double-A Portland; nice glove at 3B|
|25||Athletics||Tommy Mendonca, 3b||Giants|
|Known for power coming out Fresno State, 2009 2nd-rounder slugged just .367 this season|
|26||Giants||Scott Shuman, rhp||Rays|
|Pitches at 93-95 mph with power slider. Tough look for RHB (36 SO% at Double-A)|
|29||Reds||Ryan Dennick, lhp||Royals|
|Former Tennessee Tech ace has seen stuff pick up as pro; good swingman candidate|
|TRIPLE-A PHASE, ROUND 2|
|1||Astros||Cameron Lamb, rhp||Giants|
|Aussie has yet to pitch in full-season ball, but coming off solid season in Northwest Lge|
|7||Red Sox||Jon Bachanov, rhp||White Sox|
|2007 supp pick signed by then-Angels, now-Red Sox scout Tom Kotchman|
|9||Blue Jays||Alvido Jimenez, rhp||Cubs|
|Stout righthander has spent last three seasons in AZL, yet to pitch above there|
|12||Padres||Federico Castaneda, rhp||Royals|
|Mexican Lge vet pitching well in winter ball, features 91-93 mph fastball|
|18||Dodgers||Hector Nelo, rhp||Nationals|
|Double-plus fastball bumps 96 mph. Allowed .229 AVG, 1.8 G/F in Double-A|
|19||Cardinals||Jay Voss, lhp||Tigers|
|Missed most of 2012 after TJ surgery; Fringy stuff, good control when healthy|
|25||Athletics||Steve Hill, c||Cardinals|
|A catcher early in career, playing corner INF and OF lately; has MLB experience|
|29||Reds||Michael Gilmartin, ss||Athletics|
|Fringy defender with avg arm; one of 10 players in Cal Lge with 400+ PA, sub-.700 OPS|
|TRIPLE-A PHASE, ROUND 3|
|9||Blue Jays||Efrain Nieves, lhp||Tigers|
|Brewers 7th-rounder out of P.R. in 2007, Nieves has just 63 IP above low Class A|
Anthony Alford, an outfielder in the Jays farm system and quarterback at Southern Miss, has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault according to the Sun Herald of Biloxi (Miss.). Alford and Korey Hathorn, another student, were arrested on campus after being involved in a fight on Wednesday.
Hathorn was charged with possession of a felony weapon on campus by a student. The altercation did not cause any injuries. The Sun Herald states that the incident happened around 11 a.m. and involved four people, two of whom were not students.
BA intern Peter Wardell checked in from the AFL championship game with some observations of his own:
• Lost in the shuffle of Brian Goodwin’s seventh-inning baserunning blunder was Peoria right fielder Rymer Liriano (Padres)’s impressive, accurate throw to the plate. The 21-year-old’s plus arm has earned the distinction of Best Outfield Arm in the Padres’ system three straight seasons and ranks among the best in all of the minor leagues.
• Peoria outfielder Billy Hamilton (Reds) showed off his elite speed all over the diamond on Saturday—tripling to center field in the first, drag-bunting for a single in the second and very nearly tracking down a well-hit ball to right-center in the eighth, a play that would knock him out of the game. On his bunt single, Hamilton timed 3.45 seconds home-to-first. It was the third fastest time I personally had gotten on him this fall (Best: 3.39 sec at Rising Stars Game).
• Hamilton wasn’t the only Reds player to excite however. Peoria shortstop Didi Gregorius (Reds) made a pair of impressive plays on shallow pop-ups into left field and got the chance to show off his plus arm on a tough fifth-inning chopper.
• Salt River second baseman Carlos Sanchez (White Sox) registered the game’s only stolen base. A slightly above-average runner, Sanchez led the AFL in stolen bases this fall with 11. Hamilton ended up with 10.
• Peoria righthander Carson Smith (Mariners) impressed in his inning of work with a pair of strikeouts. Smith, who throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, sits 93-95 with his fastball, mixing in an 85-87 mph slider with good bite.
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 »
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 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.
Less than six months after he threw his first pro pitch, Dylan Bundy is headed to the big leagues.
|In the early days of the draft it wasn't all that unusual for a high school pitcher to make his big league debut either the same year he was drafted or the next year. But Bundy will become the first pitcher in more than 20 years to make such a quick ascent to the majors.|
|1990||Todd Van Poppel|
The minors top pitching prospect was called just an hour after the Orioles finished a marathon 18-inning win over the Mariners. That extra-inning game required the Orioles to use its bullpen for 12 2/3 innings. Needing pitching help, the Orioles, who had previously said they wouldn't call up their prized prospect, decided that they needed the help. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal was the first to report Bundy's call to the big leagues.
The Orioles have limited Bundy's innings this year, especially early in the year with the idea that they would be allowed to pitch more extended innings later in the season. Bundy was limited to three innings an outing for his first three starts and didn't pitch into the sixth inning until August.
"We're very conservative on the front end," Orioles pitching coordinator Rick Peterson told Baseball America in April . "At the back end (of the season), he'll be a normal pitcher."
Of course it's not normal for a 19-year-old to get to the big leagues, but Bundy would appear to be the Orioles' best option for pitching help. He went 9-3, 2.08 in 103.2 innings between three levels, striking out 119 and walking just 23. He also won a Sept. 5 start against Akron in the Eastern League playoffs while pitching for Double-A Bowie.
Bundy has the best stuff in the organization, including the big league staff, with a high 90s mph fastball, a plus curveball and a changeup that went from an afterthought in spring training to a weapon by midseason. He also showed an excellent cutter in high school, one that some scouts project as a plus pitch, but the Orioles have not yet allowed him to throw it as a pro.
The Seattle Mariners are a sub. 500 team at the big league level, but in the minors, the M's were on top of the overall minor league standings. The Mariners' minor league teams won at a .550 clip this season, as Double-A Jackson, high Class A High Desert, low Class A Clinton, short-season Everett and the rookie-level Dominican Summer League club were all playoff teams.
But if you dig into the standings a little deeper, there is an even more notable nugget. If you look at just the domestic leagues, the Houston Astros led all organizations in winning percentage. The Astros' U.S. clubs had a .546 winning percentage this year, just ahead of the Colorado Rockies. If you include Dominican and Venezuelan clubs, the Astros finished fourth in the organization standings.
That's notable because over the past five years, the Astros have easily had the least successful farm system in baseball. Houston finished last in organization standings in 2011, 29th in 2010, last in 2009, last in 2008 and 26th in 2007. No other team has come close to matching the Astros' recent run of futility. [...] Continue Reading »
BURLINGTON, N.C.—Appalachian League commissioner Lee Landers was soaking in every bit of the atmosphere Saturday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium.
"It's been a great year for us," Landers said. "They've been waiting a long time in this town for a winner and they've responded."
There were 522 fans for the Royals' game with the Elizabethton Twins, and some of them probably were around for the 1993 Burlington team—an Indians affiliate at the time—that won the town's last Appy League championship. They were excited to have any playoff game to cheer about and were treated to a thriller, a 3-2, 12-inning home victory that ended on a Bubba Starling sacrifice fly, scoring Terrance Gore ahead of a throw by Byron Buxton.
Elizabethton went on to win the league title, however, with an extra-innings win in Game Two and a walk-off grand slam by D.J. Hicks in a 12-inning victory in Game Three. The E-Twins trailed 6-1 in the ninth before rallying to score five runs to tie the game, capped by a three-run homer by Adam Brett Walker, before Hicks' game-winner in the 12.
All three games were decided in extra innings, and all three featured significant prospects. Here's some of what we saw Saturday from this unique Rookie-ball playoff series.
This season hasn't always been easy for Cardinals righthander Chris Corrigan, but he finished it up in perfect fashion.
The 24-year-old threw a perfect game in an 8-0 win against Charlotte. Palm Beach has only four games left in the season, so this was Corrigan's final start of 2012.
A 30th-round pick out of Mississippi in 2009 who features a low 90s fastball and solid curveball , Corrigan had worked predominantly out of the bullpen until recently. He worked out of the Palm Beach bullpen at the start of the year, then was promoted to Double-A Springfield in late May. He struggled significantly in his short four-game stint in the Texas League, compiling a 7.36 ERA, and was sent back to the Florida State League. Since the demotion, Corrigan has started for Palm Beach. Before Wednesday night, he had never made it out of the sixth inning in a start.
With the way Corrigan was in control on Wednesday, there was little reason to think about pulling him from the game. He set a career high in strikeouts while demonstrating the best control of his career as well.
• Presented here are the top pitcher game scores from weekend series. Any prospect with a game score greater than 65 is displayed.
|TOP GAME GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN MINORS, AUG. 24-26
|Edwin Escobar*||SF||Augusta||South Atlantic||LoA||8||4||0||0||9||1||82|
|Keyvius Sampson||SD||San Antonio||Texas||AA||7||4||0||0||6||1||74|
|Erasmo Ramirez||SEA||Tacoma||Pacific Coast||AAA||7.1||4||1||0||6||2||73|
|Asher Wojciechowski||HOU||Corpus Christi||Texas||AA||6||2||0||0||4||2||70|
|Clayton Blackburn||SF||Augusta||South Atlantic||LoA||8||5||2||2||6||0||70|
|Madison Boer||MIN||Fort Myers||Florida State||HiA||7||4||1||1||5||0||70|
|Taylor Guerrieri||TB||Hudson Valley||N.Y.-Penn||SS||5||3||0||0||7||0||68|
|Paul Clemens||HOU||Corpus Christi||Texas||AA||6||3||1||0||5||2||67|
|Shelby Miller||STL||Memphis||Pacific Coast||AAA||5.2||2||1||1||7||3||66|
• Augusta lefty Edwin Escobar has registered the weekend's top game score in consecutive starts, and he's gone 3-0, 0.94 with 15 hits allowed and a 29-7 K-BB ratio over 28 2/3 innings in August. Perhaps it's just low Class A batters wearing down after a grueling season, but whatever the case the Giants prospect has ended his season on a strong note. Escobar (8.6 whiffs per nine innings) and GreenJackets teammates Kyle Crick (10.3) and Clayton Blackburn (9.8) rank among the South Atlantic League's top strikeout pitchers.
• Julio Teheran's game scores have careened from 26 to 77 to 13 to 81 in his last four starts for Triple-A Gwinnett, highlighting why the Braves, even after losing Ben Sheets and Brandon Beachy and weathering inconsistencies from Tommy Hanson and Mike Minor, probably will not turn over critical innings to the 21-year-old this September. [...] Continue Reading »
Fittingly, Billy Hamilton speedily eclipsed Vince Coleman tonight.
In the first game of a doubleheader against Montgomery, the Reds shortstop prospect stole four bases to surpass Coleman's single-season minor league record. Hamilton now has 147 steals, two more than Coleman. Hamilton's 147 steals are a record for any professional league. Rickey Henderson holds the Major League record with 130 steals.
Hamilton led off the bottom of the first by walking. He took off for second base as Biscuits pitcher Kyle Lobstein tried to pick him off. Lobstein's throw was wide of the mark, allowing Hamilton to reach second on the error. He then stole third for his 144th steal. Hamilton's next at-bat came with two outs in the third. He singled to right field, then quickly stole second and third before Ryan LaMarre struck out. When Hamilton swiped the record-breaking base, he quickly called time before breaking out in a large grin. Grounds crew quickly exchanged the batting helmet he was wearing and the base he stole to set them aside.
Hamilton added another steal in the eighth inning. With 43 steals since his promotion to Double-A Pensacola, he now leads all of Double-A in steals. With 104 steals for high Class A Pensacola before his promotion, he also leads all Class A players. In the second game of the doubleheader, Hamilton was held without a steal.
• Presented here are the top pitcher game scores from weekend series. Any prospect with a game score greater than 65 is displayed.
|TOP GAME GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN MINORS, AUG. 17-19
|Edwin Escobar*||Augusta||SF||South Atlantic||LoA||8.2||1||0||0||9||1||91|
|Jesse Biddle*||Clearwater||PHI||Florida State||HiA||7||0||0||0||12||2||87|
|Trevor Bauer||Reno||ARI||Pacific Coast||AAA||9||5||2||2||12||1||80|
|Jayson Aquino*||Grand Junction||COL||Pioneer||R||7||3||1||0||6||3||72|
|Jose Fernandez||Jupiter||MIA||Florida State||HiA||5||2||0||0||8||0||71|
|Tyler Anderson*||Asheville||COL||South Atlantic||LoA||7||7||0||0||7||0||70|
|Nick Kingham||West Virginia||PIT||South Atlantic||LoA||6||2||1||1||3||0||67|
|Danny Hultzen*||Tacoma||SEA||Pacific Coast||AAA||5||0||1||1||6||3||66|
• The Giants identified Edwin Escobar as sufficient compensation from the Rangers for Rule 5 pick Ben Snyder during spring training 2010, and while the lefty has progressed slowly, reaching low Class A Augusta this season, he's also shown consistent swing-and-miss stuff and the potential for much more in the results department. Case in point: his start at Charleston on Sunday, in which he allowed one hit in a career-high 8 2/3 innings. The 20-year-old Escobar walked his first batter of the game with two outs in the ninth, sacrificing his chance to notch the complete game. He's gone 6-7, 3.24 in 20 starts this season and ranks sixth in the South Atlantic League ERA race and fifth with 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
• Phillies lefty Jesse Biddle continues his quiet domination of the Florida State League. He's gone 9-5, 3.26 in 24 starts with a strikeout rare (9.5 per nine innings) bettered only by former high Class A Clearwater teammate Adam Morgan among FSL starters. Biddle tossed seven no-hit innings against Brevard County on Friday, but the Threshers bullpen lost the no-hit bid with one out in the ninth. [...] Continue Reading »
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