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 »
Rays righthander Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick of the 2004 draft, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and fleeing the scene after an accident on Thursday night.
According to reports, Bush was involved in an accident with a 72-year-old motorcyclist. He was charged with multiple offenses including hit and run, leaving the scene with damage to property, leaving the scene of an accident involving an injury, DUI with serious bodily injury and driving with a suspended license.
Bush is considered one of the worst busts among No. 1 picks, as he never made it past Class A as a shortstop with the Padres. He was arrested for a fight at a nightclub before he ever stepped onto the field as a professional. Eventually, Bush converted to pitching as the Padres tried to recoup some of their $3.15 million investment. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and soon after the Padres sold his contract to the Blue Jays. He missed all of 2008 and 2009 and was released by the Blue Jays without making an appearance after violating unspecified team rules. The Rays signed him after that and tried to get him counseling to help with his off-field troubles.
When healthy, Bush featured a fastball that would sit between 94-97 mph as well as a tight curveball. He seemed to show some improvement with Tampa Bay, enough that the Rays added him to their 40-man roster before the 2011 season. He struck out 13.8 batters per nine innings pitching for Double-A Montgomery in 2011. Bush was expected to head to Triple-A Durham this year and was in line to contend for a big league bullpen spot at some point this year.
The Rays released a statement saying: “The Tampa Bay Rays organization is deeply saddened by today's tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and his family. We will reserve further comment until we learn more about the incident that took place.’’
Spring training is the time of year when players can speed up their timetables. It's also the time when timetables can be significantly slowed by injuries. In the case of Rangers' righthander Matt West and Dodgers outfielder Alfredo Silverio, the news isn't good.
West, ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the Rangers organization, has been shut down for six weeks as he tries to rehabilitate and strengthen a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. As reported by BA correspondent Jeff Wilson, the Rangers are hopeful that rehab will allow West to avoid Tommy John surgery. If the rehab goes well, West would not be ready to start the season, but would be available to pitch again this year. If the program doesn't work, West will likely undergo Tommy John surgery that would sideline him for the entirety of the 2012 season and potentially part of 2013 as well. [...] Continue Reading »
Until he reached the big leagues, Julio Teheran had never been particularly home run prone. But Sunday, Teheran provided a suitable audition to pitch for the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby.
Facing the Tigers in his first outing of spring training, Teheran gave up seven runs on six home runs in just two innings of work. Teheran is in a battle with Mike Minor and Randall Delgado for the final two spots in the Braves rotation, but obviously his first outing is not helping his case.
Delgado wasn't a whole lot more impressive. He walked two, allowed two hits including a home run and gave up four runs in his one inning of work.
Neither pitchers' command was particularly sharp, which left them forced to throw fastballs in hitters counts on a day where the wind was blowing out.
“I don’t want to take anything away from their hitters,” catcher Ross told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They put some good swings on balls. But they were in a lot of hitters’ counts. We went 3-1, would make a good pitch to make it 3-2 and they knew the same pitch was coming. I can’t call a dirty 3-2 slider the first inning in spring training. You’ve got to learn to command your fastball and make your pitch. That’s what these kids are trying to do.”
Teheran had given up only 20 home runs in 383 minor league innings as a pro. He did give up four home runs in just 20 innings last year in the big leagues.
BONITA SPRINGS, Fla.—Palm trees, beaches, tract housing as far as the eye can see and slow-going retirees in Buicks holding up traffic for miles at a time. For many, these are the enduring symbols of South Florida.
For baseball fans, the Sunshine State offers something else: spring training, and lots of it. Here in Florida’s southwest corridor, inland from the Gulf of Mexico (and its beaches where hordes of spring breakers gather), fans flock to the training sites of the Red Sox and Twins in Fort Myers and the Rays up the interstate about 40 miles in Port Charlotte.
Being my first spring-training sojourn, I looked on everything with fresh eyes, and in this space I’ll try to convey the sights and sounds of minor league spring training camp. [...] Continue Reading »
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper turned heads in big league camp, hitting .389/.450/.556 over 18 at-bats before being sent to minor league camp. Last week, I caught up with some Nationals officials, as well as the best player in the game, to get their early impressions of this spring's most talked-about player. The quotes are compiled answers from a few different questions. . .
"He's handled himself good. He's mature beyond his age. He's absorbing a lot—he's really being a sponge and taking in everything that is major league spring training. We've got a lot of veteran players on this team that are capable of sharing a lot of information with him and he's following my advice when he came to spring training: keep your ears open and your mouth closed. It's very unique, I've never seen this with a player his age. I had Justin Upton, who I think is in that same category and Bryce is beyond Justin, as far as readiness for spring training and readiness for a player and that's a big comparison because Justin Upton is one of the most talented players I ever drafted."
—Mike Rizzo, general manager, Washington Nationals
"I've been pretty impressed that he's been able to handle his own at this level and the way he's read pitches and understands the strike zone. We've all seen him attack the ball and do all the things with the tools he's got. But to see him do that, it looks like he can compete here a little bit. It's pretty exciting. He's an aggressive kid. They're going to knock it out of him a little bit, but he's a pleasure to be around. He plays the game right and you can tell his daddy trained his son very well. He's fun to be around. He's supposed to be playing high school games, so it's pretty amazing what he's done. The big thing is, socially, he's above his years. He interacts with everybody very well and he's fit in in a situation that's sometimes tough to fit in. He's done a great job with that."
—Bob Boone, assistant general manager, Washington Nationals
[...] Continue Reading »
Prospect Star Of Camp: Since Brian Matusz still qualifies as a prospect, albeit barely, it's hard to give this one to anyone else. He was already a shoo-in to make the Orioles' rotation, but he did nothing to dispel the excitement surrounding him with his Grapefruit League performance. The fourth overall pick of the 2008 draft made five starts and posted a 3.10 ERA with a 19-3 K-BB ratio in 20 1/3 innings. His spring was highlighted when he threw 5 1/3 no-hit innings against the Phillies on March 19. On the offensive side, first baseman Brandon Snyder acquitted himself well, hitting .333/.478/.556 (6-for-18) and impressing with his defense at first base, an area he's improved significantly in recent years, in limited action before being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Keep An Eye On: He only made two appearances in Grapefruit League action, but righthander Luis Lebron made a favorable impression on O's manager Dave Trembley. The 25-year-old reliever pitched 1 2/3 innings with two strikeouts and one hit allowed, both appearances coming against the Pirates. Trembley was taken with Lebron's fastball that sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 97 mph, making him a strong candidate for a callup at some point in 2010. Lebron, who had pitched just two innings above high Class A before last year, is coming off a dominant 2009 season in which he went a combined 3-3, 2.54 in 60 1/3 innings with Frederick and Double-A Bowie.
[...] Continue Reading »
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Prospect Star Of Camp: Dan Hudson is what he is, solid but not spectacular. The 23-year-old righthander came into camp showing exactly what he showed in breezing through four levels of the minor leagues en route to Chicago in 2009, flashing a low-90s fastball, a solid-average changeup and an inconsistent slider with average tilt at times and more sweeping action at others. All of Hudson's stuff plays up because of his advanced feel for pitching, and it shouldn't be too long before he returns to Chicago after opening the year with Triple-A Charlotte.
Keep An Eye On: Sergio Santos' transition from shortstop to reliever continues to progress, and he showed the White Sox enough to give him a spot in the big league bullpen. Santos' lack of experience on the mound are evident—he throws across his body, his command is questionable and his secondary stuff is still inconsistent. Still, Santos' fastball touched 97 mph in spring training (and he's hit even higher in the past) and he flashed a slider with occasional sharp bite this spring. Keep your other eye on hard-throwing righthander Nathan Jones, who will transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation for high Class A Salem.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Prospect Star Of Camp: Brandon Wood never was in any real danger of losing the third base job. Manager Mike Scioscia began talking up Wood's merits as soon as the 2009 season ended. A lot of that was motivated by Wood being out of options, but the young third baseman has buoyed the Angels' confidence this spring, batting .308/.400/.477 with six extra-base hits (one homer) in 65 at-bats. His 8-to-14 walk-to-strikeout ratio suggests the pressure to perform did not affect him. Righthanded reliever Michael Kohn finished last season in high Class A. He may leapfrog that level and head to Double-A after a sterling spring: 8 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, zero walks and zero runs allowed.
Keep An Eye On: In addition to Wood, the Angels also face option-related ultimatums with catcher Bobby Wilson and corner outfielder Terry Evans. Each would have to clear waivers to head back down to Triple-A Salt Lake. Evans hit well this spring (.293/.341/.488 in 41 at-bats) and made the team, thanks in part to Reggie Willits beginning the year on the disabled list. The Angels had given Evans all of 18 big league at-bats prior to Opening Day. Wilson is in a tough spot as the third point in a catching triangle that also includes Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis. He stated his case by hitting .370/.452/.481 in 27 spring at-bats and made the team as third catcher. It would have been hard to envision him clearing waivers.
A Rough Spring: Los Angeles gave righthander Rafael Rodriguez 9 1/3 innings over five appearances to work through his issues. The sinker specialist did not respond. He gave up 15 hits, including three homers, and 11 runs while striking out only one batter. [...] Continue Reading »
The Dodgers announced Sunday they are keeping Rule 5 draft pick Carlos Monasterios as a member of the Opening Day roster.
Monasterios was an unlikely candidate to stick, considering his 4.49 career ERA and 290 strikeouts in 385 minor league innings—just seven of them above Class A. However, the 24-year-old Venezuelan found the right situation, a Dodgers team lacking pitching depth and needing to hold the line on salaries. It doesn't get any cheaper than a $50,000 Rule 5 pickup. [...] Continue Reading »
Prospect Star Of Camp: Tyler Colvin was supposed to get a spring training cameo before heading to Triple-A. But a .459/.459/.716 line has completely changed the Cubs' timetable. Colvin has been the star of camp and has played his way onto the Opening Day roster and even into splitting time in the outfield so that he can start two to three days a week. There are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about whether Colvin is ready for the big leagues–he's shown no improvement in his free-swinging ways, drawing no walks in spring training—but his improved strength and power has shown the Cubs' enough to anoint him as one of the cornerstones of the team's future.
Keep An Eye On: Shortstop Starlin Castro (.433/.452/.667) made a strong argument for making the Opening Day roster as well, but considering he has 31 games above Class A, it makes sense that he will return to the minors for more seasoning. [...] Continue Reading »
TEMPE, Ariz.—When most of a team’s top prospects are ticketed for the lowest full-season level in the minors, it might be cause for concern.
Usually it signals a dearth of talent in the upper levels of the system. For the Angels, however, their youngest wave of talent has been the source of plenty of optimism at spring training.
After not placing one player among the Midwest League’s top 20 prospects a year ago, Cedar Rapids could have several of the low Class A circuit’s top youngsters. The Kernels’ outfield will feature Mike Trout and Randal Grichuk, two first-round picks from 2009. Joining them in the lineup is promising second baseman Jean Segura, while fellow Dominican righthander Fabio Martinez will pitch in a rotation that could potentially include five of the Angels’ top pitching prospects.
TEMPE, Ariz.–When Jordan Walden entered the game yesterday for an inning of relief, nearly 20 fellow Angels crowded behind the plate to see what number would flash on the radar gun.
Walden, who struggled last year for Double-A Arkansas before being shut down with a strained forearm, had yet to throw a pitch in a spring training game after he tweaked his hamstring shortly before the start of minor league camp.
Walden's first pitch alleviated any concerns about his arm strength: 98 mph.
He retired the side on a groundout, a pop out and a fly out, hitting 98 mph four more times and never throwing a fastball slower than 96.
He'll also have to get used coming out of the bullpen, as the Angels have made the 22-year-old righthander a full-time reliever.
GOODYEAR, Ariz.–Jason Kipnis hasn't taken an official at-bat since early September, but he's already raised his prospect stock considerably in the last six months.
The Indians drafted Kipnis out of Arizona State in the second round last year, then put him in left field with short-season Mahoning Valley. The organization's intention on draft day wasn't to move him to the infield, but the Indians asked him to spend time playing second base during instructional league last fall.
After exciting club officials at instructs, Kipnis, who turns 23 on Saturday, has played second base exclusively in spring training.
Now, it seems likely that he's there to stay.
GLENDALE, Ariz.—The Dodgers have an impressive collection of arms—five of their top six prospects are pitchers—but the one with the chance to make the biggest leap on the prospect scene this year might be righthander Allen Webster, the organization's No. 10 prospect.
Webster showed flashes of three above-average pitches in three innings of work yesterday against the Rangers, though he got into trouble as he didn't have his best control and command. Webster's fastball generally sat at 91-94 mph, touching 95 once. He also flashed two potentially above-average secondary offerings, a lively 78-81 mph changeup and a tight 76-79 mph curveball with sharp break and good depth.
Not bad for a 20-year-old kid picked in the 18th-round pick two years ago with limited pitching experience.
"He’s still learning it," said Chuck Crim, the pitching coach for low Class A Great Lakes. "We drafted him as a shortstop out of high school so he’s still learning how to pitch. He had one extended spring training last year where he was learning how to pitch, and he’s made great strides."
Danny Duffy's days as a Kansas City Royal ended with a handshake and a good luck wish.
The Royals clearly will be happy if the lefthander decides to return to baseball. But after Duffy made it clear that he wanted to go in a different direction with his life, the Royals' accepted his explanation and wished him luck in whatever he decides to do.
Duffy approached Royals officials about a week ago to tell them he was thinking of quitting baseball, a decision he had wrestled with during the offseason. The team asked him to think it over for a couple of days, which he did. But on Monday he told the team he was confident in his decision to leave. [...] Continue Reading »
Royals lefthander Danny Duffy has left spring training after informing the team that he is quitting baseball.
A third-round pick in 2007 out of a Lompoc, Calif. high school, Duffy was ranked as the organization's No. 8 prospect heading into the 2010 season. No Royals pitcher and few prospects in baseball have had more success over the past three seasons—was 19-10, 2.49 in 246 minor league innings with 290 strikeouts. The lefthander was selected to play in the 2009 Futures Game and was considered one of the Royals' pitching prospects closest to the majors–he was expected to begin the season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. [...] Continue Reading »
Even if you're a pretty serious baseball fan, it's hard to keep up with how all the top prospects are doing in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. To try to help round things up, here's the first in a series of six round-ups of which prospects are impressing and which have fallen flat in big league camps. [...] Continue Reading »
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog