Red Sox top prospect Ryan Westmoreland has been diagnosed with a cavernous malformation in his brain and has taken medical leave to get treatment, the team announced today.
"The entire Red Sox organization stands in support of Ryan as he courageously deals with this issue," general manager Theo Epstein said in a press release. "Ryan is a remarkable kid and a talented player, and we understand that many will be concerned about his health. He is getting the best medical attention the world has to offer, and we will have more information soon. Until then—out of respect for Ryan's privacy and at the request of the Westmoreland family—we will not have any further comment."
Westmoreland, 19, left minor league camp on Thursday, March 4. He was diagnosed the next day at Massachusetts General Hospital, had consultations with three leading experts in the field, and on Tuesday will have surgery with Dr. Robert Spetzler of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
Jared Mitchell, the White Sox' first-round pick in 2009, could miss the 2010 season after crashing into the wall in a spring-training game.
Mitchell, who helped Louisiana State to the 2009 College World Series championship, ranked No. 55 on Baseball America's Top 100 last month and ranked as the White Sox' No. 1 prospect this offseason. He got hurt Friday, tearing a tendon in his left ankle that will require surgery, according to numerous media reports. He made an impressive catch up against the wall on a long drive by the Angels' Juan Rivera.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told reporters that Mitchell could miss the entire season.
"It's supposed to be about a year," he said. "We have to wait to see after surgery happens. Hopefully, everything goes well. The more important thing after that is the rehab, and hopefully, he'll get back pretty quick. We'll see what happens."
BA correspondent Bill Mitchell checked in on a 35-pitch live batting practice Friday, which normally isn't newsworthy. But the guy throwing the BP was Michael Ynoa, the Dominican righthander who garnered a record $4.25 million signing bonus from the Athletics in 2008, so this was no ordinary side session.
Ynoa didn't pitch in 2009 due to elbow pain and the A's understandably cautious approach. He threw during their Dominican instructional camp in November and ranked No. 11 on the A's Top 30 in BA's Prospect Handbook this offseason. Ynoa threw free and easy and had his fastball in the upper 80s, which makes sense considering it's just BP and how early it is in spring training. He also mixed in a few secondary pitches.
Ynoa is expected to throw again next week. It's likely that he'll start 2010 in extended spring training, then make his much-awaited pro debut either in the Rookie-level Arizona League or perhaps at short-season Vancouver.
ZEBULON, N.C. — Had he really wanted to, Dallas Buck could have thumped his chest after retreating to the clubhouse, perhaps let himself soak in the moment and beam about the night that was.
Instead, there he stood Friday night beyond the right field wall at the Double-A Carolina Mudcats’ Five County Stadium dressed in business attire that seemed suitable for his business-like expression.
The former Oregon State star battling back from Tommy John surgery could say he rummaged through a big league lineup, plus spring-boarded into a season that could truly shape the rest of his career.
Yet he tried to keep it in perspective.
“It was an exciting game, but I don’t take a whole lot from it,” a nonchalant, almost too modest Buck offered. “It just feels good to be throwing. I haven’t been healthy in three years.”
Nevertheless, on a night when an intriguing cast of Reds prospects upstaged their Cincinnati counterparts in a rare barnstorming exhibition format—scoring a 12-4 victory—Buck made a significant splash.
SURPRISE, Ariz.—Just as it is during the regular season, judging a day’s work in spring training requires a magnifying glass.
Take these pitching lines from Tuesday, for example.
We’ll call them Player A and Player B.
Player A: 3 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks
Player B: 4 IP, 2 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks
Had these been the lines of starting pitchers walking a tightrope as spring training inched closer to its breakaway day and teams head north, the performances might have been met with raised eyebrows back in the coaches’ offices.
There are several pitchers still trying to earn spots this week, guys that survived Cut 1 and then Cut 2 and suddenly find themselves within reach of an airline ticket out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, from which I am filing this report. [...] Continue Reading »
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Giants catcher Buster Posey, the organization’s top position player who was BA’s College Player of the Year in 2008, got his first taste of minor league camp on Monday and immediately began working out with high Class A San Jose.
Posey was reassigned on Sunday, ending a longer-than-expected stay in which he hit .300/.324/.533 (9-for-30) with two home runs, a double and seven RBIs.
“I felt like I learned a lot. It was good to get to learn a lot of the guys up there,” Posey said.
Posey, who received the largest up-front bonus in draft history ($6.2 million), has set his sights on learning the nuances of calling games, a task that was left to his Florida State coaches during his illustrious career there.
Working with veteran catcher Bengie Molina, a pending free agent who in essence could have been helping groom his future replacement, Posey said he picked up key pointers and also gained valuable knowledge from the pitchers. [...] Continue Reading »
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — This time last year, Giants outfielder Roger Kieschnick thought he had it pretty good, what with a plush spot in the Texas Tech lineup and fairly smooth, 12-hour course load.
Walking across the Lubbock, Texas, campus back then, he naturally had a bounce in his step. Except, that is, when it came time to head to the chemistry building for a Biology of Animals class.
“That was not a good one for me,” Kieschnick said Monday, sheepish grin and all. “I squeezed that one out. It was a long, long walk to that building.”
Life is much better these days for Kieschnick, the Giants 2008 third-round pick who hit well enough in Hawaii Winter Baseball last fall that he’s likely headed next to high Class A San Jose.
The only difference is that the lefthanded slugger will do so with a new stance and modified location when holding the bat. [...] Continue Reading »
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ethan Martin, the Dodgers’ 2008 first-round pick who will make his pro debut in a few weeks, isn’t even trying to sugarcoat it.
“I’ve got a long way to go,” Martin said Sunday at the Dodgers’ plush new spread at Camelback Ranch. “I feel that I’ve progressed since I’ve been here but I have a long way to go.”
That’s not to say he is truly green.
His right knee fully healed, Martin is spending his first spring training not only readying for a likely assignment to low Class A Great Lakes but also keeping an eye on pitchers elsewhere in camp, particularly the Double-A staff.
And asking questions.
And taking mental notes. [...] Continue Reading »
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The long days at the ballpark on the backfields of Camelback Ranch actually are pretty nice, to Kyle Russell anyway.
The morning stretching, the fielding drills, batting practice are only half the day, with an hour break for lunch thrown in before a scheduled 1 p.m. exhibition. It’s usually 4 or 5 before he gets out of here.
Then again, he could do without that alarm clock that startles him from his sleep every morning.
“Yeah, you’re like, ‘Ahhhrg,” Russell was saying Sunday. “But once you get in that locker room, there are no worries in the world. As we say here, a bad day in baseball still beats a day sitting in a cubicle.” [...] Continue Reading »
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The traditional model of handling first-round picks entering their first full seasons typically begins with an assignment in Class A, a nice and necessary feeder before prospects get sent into the teeth of the high minors.
However, when it comes to shortstop Gordon Beckham, there is apparently no need to wait.
Confident that he can handle an advanced league, particularly after his impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League, the White Sox will not tug on Beckham’s reins and instead are targeting Double-A Birmingham as a 2009 starting point.
Which, as might be expected of someone with his pedigree, is hardly a worrisome assignment for last year’s eighth overall pick, a player who commanded a $2.6 million signing bonus and was among the most polished players in last June’s amateur entry.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge difference considering I played in the fall league and I played in the big league camp and did OK,” Beckham said Friday at the White Sox’s plush Camelback Ranch facility. “I think that experience is going to help me a lot in Birmingham.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Asked if spring training has been going well, White Sox outfielder and 2008 seventh-round pick Jordan Danks on Wednesday smiled and nodded his head.
Yes, it’s been pretty nice. Well, sort of.
“I’ve been getting called ‘John’ a lot,” Danks said, referring of course to his brother, a lefthander on the big league staff. “People will see ‘Danks’ on the back of my jersey and assume I’m John. Then they come up to me and I have to tell them.
“Then,” Danks added, “they don’t seem to be so interested anymore.”
Danks should get plenty of autograph requests later this season, however, if he consistently hits the way he did at the tail end of last season, which included a surprise trip to the Arizona Fall League.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — He’s been fielding grounders left and right at the hot corner this spring, dirtying his uniform when he has to, asking plenty of questions but also listening and, well, enjoying it all the way.
Best of all, Indians 2008 first-round pick Lonnie Chisenhall appreciates that his conversion to third base is happening full bore, well before his first full season in pro ball gets under way.
That’s because the guy that is hitting those grounders at him and offering a trunk load of advice was steered away from shortstop to third base on, let’s see, the second day he reached the major leagues.
“Travis Fryman has pretty much worked with me on everything, and he’s been great. He’s made this transition a lot easier. He also was my manager last year, so we’ve already built a relationship,” Chisenhall said Saturday. “But I’m glad I’m not waiting until that day (like Fryman) to do it because this makes it a lot easier for me.”
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — At a time when the nation’s midsection is digging out from snow and ice, you would assume that Indians righthander Frank Herrmann would be happy to be among palm trees, sunshine and 85-degree weather.
Instead, the guy is talking crazy. He can’t wait to head north and pitch in football-like weather, if it’s that nice.
“I’m not sure if I’ll go to Akron or Columbus … but it’s going to be cold wherever I am,” Herrmann said of Cleveland’s Double-A and Triple-A clubs, sounding an upbeat tone. “But I’m from New Jersey and played in Massachusetts in college. So I try to use it as an advantage.”
Some might say he pitches well regardless.
Nevertheless, an Ivy League grad who earned an economics degree from Harvard, Herrmann is eager to do as much damage this season as he did a year ago when the 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander dominated at Akron.
TAMPA, Fla.—Reports on a pair of Friday’s low minors games between the Yankees and Pirates during my final day in Florida:
Jesus Montero doesn’t have too many doubters about his abilities at the plate. On Friday Montero showed excellent bat speed that allows him to let balls travel deep into the hitting zone, power to all fields and a knack for putting the barrel to the ball.
While there aren’t too many 19-year-olds who can hit like Montero, the industry consensus is that the young Yankees’ prospect will likely have to move off of catcher down the road. Yesterday Montero showed all the reasons why scouts question Montero’s ability to stick at catcher. His arm strength is just OK, and he’s not especially good at throwing out base stealers.
More problematic was his receiving, as Montero committed three passed balls in one inning. Tall catchers—Montero is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds—can provide a big target, but they sometimes have trouble getting down low enough to block balls in the dirt, which Montero showed on Friday. He’s not particularly agile, which allowed a ball in the dirt just to his right to get by him. The third passed ball was an inside pitch to a righthanded batter that just bounced off his glove.
KISSIMMEE, Fla.—Reports on a pair of low minors games between the Braves and Tigers, in consultation with talent evaluators:
Cause for concern, or just a case of pitchers getting back into the groove?
Righthander Tommy Hanson’s stuff has impressed scouts this spring, but two of the Braves’ other top pitching prospects showed significantly decreased velocity on Thursday.
Lefthander Cole Rohrbough has thrown his fastball between 92-94 mph, but he also battled an ankle injury and rotator cuff tendinitis last season. On Thursday his fastball sat at just 86-90 mph. Rohrbough’s 77-79 mph curveball is still a plus pitch, but it was his only above-average offering on Thursday. Rohrbough threw an occasional 73-75 mph changeup, though they weren’t very good and he couldn’t throw the pitch for a strike. Rohrbough doesn’t make full use of his lower half in his delivery, which might be related to last season’s ankle injury, or it could just be his mechanics.
Righthander Julio Teheran’s velocity was down as well. Teheran, one of the top international signings in 2007 when he signed out of Colombia for $850,000, has thrown 90-93 mph in the past and been up to the mid-90s. On Thursday, the 18-year-old pitched with his fastball at 87-91 mph. Like Rohrbough, Teheran has also had some troubling issues with his shoulder, which limited him to just 15 innings last year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League.
SURPRISE, Ariz. — You’d think that Tim Melville would just be ho-hum about his first spring training in Royals camp, that he would just go about his business quietly, do what was asked and call it a day after the final out of exhibition games.
But don’t be fooled by the wrap-around, Terminator shades or the fact he’s already pocketed that $1.25 million bonus, which was $960,000 above slot, by the way, after being a fourth-round pick last June.
Like an upbeat pledge at the up-and-coming fraternity on campus, Melville has been soaking up every piece of information he can, even swinging by big league games when his day is done if only to catch a sneak peak at Kansas City’s starting five in order to eye their composure as much as their repertoire.
Even better, in so many words on Thursday here at Kansas City’s plush cloverleaf he expressed an eagerness to experience the highs and lows of being a minor leaguer. [...] Continue Reading »
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Who’d ever thought that talking about landing correctly on your lead toe or eliminating the bouncing hands ahead of your delivery would be all that exciting?
Actually, a sense of joy can be heard in the voice these days of Royals righthander Keaton Hayenga, who loves talking about those issues because, finally, a two-year recovery from a torn labrum is almost complete and his pro debut appears not far away.
“Oh, it’s nice to not have to focus on the shoulder anymore and instead focus on being an actual pitcher again,” Hayenga said Thursday at the Royals’ facility here. “I hurt my shoulder in April of 2007.”
Hayenga, a 6-foot-5, 180-pounder who turns 21 on July 10, is one of the more under-the-radar arms in spring training, and arguably any spring training here in Arizona. The Royals signed him for $300,000 as their 31st-round pick in 2007 and did so despite Hayenga having suffered the injury two months earlier on a dive into a base.
But that season went by, and then last year went on without him as well, save for a brief showing in instructs in which Hayenga’s fastball was 92-95 when he finally received clearance to pitch. [...] Continue Reading »
VIERA, Fla.–An update on a pair of low minors games between the Tigers and Nationals and a major league game between the Braves and Nationals, in consultation with other talent evaluators:
The Tigers went well over slot to sign fifth-round lefthander Casey Crosby out of an Illinois high school in 2007, only to have him succumb to Tommy John surgery and miss all but 4 2/3 innings of the 2008 season. The good news for Crosby is that his stuff appears to have returned, as he threw a fastball that sat at 90-95 mph and touched 96 on Wednesday. Crosby showed a promising 77-80 mph curveball, an occasional swing-and-miss pitch that helped him catch several hitters off balance. He was able to locate his curveball for strikes, mixing the pitch against both lefties and righties.
Crosby got hit around though, as his fastball didn’t appear to have much movement. He didn’t use his 82-85 mph changeup much until his final inning of work, and when he did throw it he struggled to locate the pitch.
For the Nationals, right fielder Michael Burgess is only 5-foot-11, but the 20-year-old has excellent strength and makes loud contact every time he hits the ball. The problem is the frequency with which he does make contact. Burgess struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances–136 strikeouts in 460 PAs–last year with low Class A Hagerstown. Players who strike out 30 percent of the time in low Class A historically tend not to make good big leaguers. He has good bat speed and power, but his swing gets long and leads to a high number of strikeouts.
In addition to sitting down with Jordan Walden, here are some other notes from Angels camp:
Righthander Mason Tobin, whose 2008 season was cut short last June 6 because of a strained shoulder, will be the closer this year at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
The Angels, who signed him for $125,000 as a 16th-round pick from Everett (Wash.) CC in 2007, are banking on Tobin developing a better slider to compliment a fastball that touched 97 mph last year. Tobin spent last season at low Class A Cedar Rapids but was 2-3, 3.13 with the same number of strikeouts and walks (18) in 37 innings.
“If he does what I think he can do, I see him moving fast,” Angels pitching coordinator Kernan Ronan said. “His fastball was 94-95 mph the other day in a big league game. It’s explosive. When he’s down, he’s really got some heavy sink. And when he gets under it, it has some run. But he’s fun to watch.” [...] Continue Reading »
TEMPE, Ariz. — Spring training isn’t always about sun, palm trees and babes.
No, for some prospects, the days leading up to the end of camp can be downright brutal. That is, if they let their minds wander off and unnecessarily speculate about where they will fit in the grand scheme of things come midseason.
What if so-and-so gets hurt or underperforms in the majors and the next guy on the depth chart stumbles, too? Will that spell a promotion? Is my slider coming around? Do they like me enough? In essence, questions that that add up to what prospects like to call “Playing GM.”
Fortunately for the Angels, they have nothing to worry about when it comes to 21-year-old righthander Jordan Walden losing focus. [...] Continue Reading »
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog