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 »
Official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Feb. 14-19.
For more information on Article XX-B free agents, see our review of all 31 major league free agents who signed minor league contracts this offseason.
Signed: RHP Thomas Brendel (Sonoran Freedom)), RHP Bobby Hillier (Normal (Frontier)), RHP Brandon Sinnery (Lincoln (American Association))
Traded: RHP Jesus Castillo and RHP Erick Leal to Cubs for OF Tony Campana
Bobby Hillier pitched in the Frontier League last season, but the best look scouts got at the former Thiel (Pa.) College righty came in the California Winter League this February. Hillier is one of three CWL class of ’13 players to sign contracts with major league organizations this offseason.
Signed: RHP Kevin Jacob (released by Cardinals, Oct. 3), RHP Jair Jurrjens (non-tendered by Braves), LHP Harry Marino (released by D-backs, Oct. 5)
Removed from 40-man: OF Trayvon Robinson (outrighted to Triple-A)
Boston Red Sox
Signed: LHP Matt Maloney [...] Continue Reading »
We took a look yesterday at five young players ($) who could jump onto the 2014 Top 100 Prospects list, but today we asked a number of Baseball America writers and editors to pick one player they are eyeing as a potential Top 100 Prospect for 2014.
J.J. Cooper: Royals righthander Miguel Almonte didn’t receive one Top 150 vote for this year’s Top 100 Prospects list and he shouldn’t have. As a bargain signing out of the Dominican in 2010 who has a grand total of 27 innings in the U.S., nothing in Almonte’s track record says Top 100 Prospect yet. But a year from now, that may have changed. Almonte has a very good three-pitch mix with a plus fastball, average changeup and developing breaking ball. In an organization that has rightfully been criticized for its struggles to develop starting pitchers, Almonte is a potential success story. He’s cleaned up his delivery and improved his stuff significantly since signing. If he has success in low Class A this year, he could climb into next year’s Top 100.
Matt Eddy: He'll need to rein in the strikeouts, but the Phillies' Tommy Joseph offers a rare combination of power, athleticism and arm strength at catcher. The 21-year-old mashed 11 homers at the Double-A level last season, while gunning down 40 percent of basestealers and getting traded for Hunter Pence. [...] Continue Reading »
After unveiling our Top 100 Prospects list on Feb. 19, we're taking a further look at the list today with some additional news and notes. Here's a look at which players climbed and fell the most on the 2013 Top 100 Prospects list.
No one who was on the 2012 Top 100 Prospects list made a bigger jump than Oscar Taveras. A year ago, Taveras was coming off of an excellent season in the Midwest League, but there were concerns about his defense and focus on the basepaths. He showed improved concentration in 2013, made the jump from indifferent right fielder to solid center fielder and continued to sting almost any and every pitcher he faced. [...] Continue Reading »
All players invited to major league spring training must be in camp today, and many of them will be suiting up with new organizations.
Somewhere between marquee free agent imports—such as Zack Greinke ($147 million with the Dodgers) or Josh Hamilton ($123 million with the Angels)—and dollar-and-a-dream non-roster invites—like Marlon Byrd with the Mets or Conor Jackson with the Orioles—resides a recently developed class of free agent, one created by the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Beginning with last year's class, any Article XX(B) major league free agent who accepts a minor league deal is entitled to three automatic contract clauses: 1) he must be told five days prior to Opening Day—that's March 26 this year—whether or not he will make the 25-man active roster, 2) if he does not ask for his release and consents to open the season in Triple-A, then he will receive a $100,000 "retention bonus," and 3) if he's still in Triple-A on June 1, then he can opt out of his minor league contract so that he can sign with another organization.
Article XX(B) free agents may sign within 10 days of Opening Day—March 21 this year—and still receive guaranteed opt-out dates and retention bonuses in their minor league contracts
According to a press release issued by the MLB Players Association, 161 players qualified as Article XX(B) free agents following the 2012 season. To date, 94 of them have signed major league contracts (Kyle Lohse finally signed with the Brewers on March 25), 23 remain unsigned (including decorated vets like Scott Rolen, Jim Thome and Roy Oswalt), eight either retired or indicated as much (including Omar Vizquel, Kevin Millwood and Nick Johnson) and three will play in Japan in 2013 (Andruw Jones, Jose Lopez and Vicente Padilla).
That leaves 34 Article XX(B) free agents who signed minor league contracts, entitling them to the benefits outlined above. The team-by-team lists, with season ages for 2013 and statistics from last season (OPS+ via Baseball-Reference.com):
We posted our Top 100 Prospects list on Feb. 20. Today we'll be rolling out a few other Top 100 tidbits that we discussed while pulling together the list.
First basemen or corner outfielders who do not hit for above-average power are typically excluded from Top 100 Prospects consideration, yet third basemen are not always held to the same standard. Maybe it's because they offer Gold Glove potential or because scouts are confident about the player's hit tool.
Regardless, third basemen who do not hit for power in the big leagues typically do not last long as regulars, at least not on good teams. Some recent examples of elite prospects with profile power for third base (whatever their other flaws): Mike Moustakas (No. 9, 2011), Pedro Alvarez (8, 2010), Chase Headley (32, 2008), Evan Longoria (7, 2007) and Ryan Zimmerman (15, 2006). [...] Continue Reading »
• Of the 1,146 players to be on a Top 100 Prospects list from 1990-2009, 1,020 (89 percent) made the major leagues.
• Top 100 Prospects players have won 29 MVP awards, 19 Cy Young Awards and 38 Rookie of the Year awards.
• Of the 74 2012 all-stars, 49 (66 percent) appeared on a Top 100 Prospects list, and 23 were ranked in the top 10. [...] Continue Reading »
The 2013 Top 100 Prospects list, as determined by Baseball America's editors. [...] Continue Reading »
Official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Feb. 5-13.
Article XX-B major league free agents who sign minor league contracts, such as Jason Giambi or Daisuke Matsuzaka (below), are entitled to a $100,000 "retention bonus" if they begin the year in Triple-A and an automatic opt-out clause if they're still in the minors on June 1.
Signed: LHP Henry Garcia (Rio Grande Valley (North American)), C Rod Barajas (Article XX-B free agent)
A 6-foot lefty, Henry Garcia spent one season at the University of Texas-Brownsville before latching on the independent North American League last summer, where he walked just six batters in 44 2/3 innings for Rio Grande Valley.
In an interesting bit of synchronicity, Rod Barajas rejoins the organization that originally gave him a shot as an undrafted player. The Diamondbacks signed him out of Cerritos (Calif.) JC in ’96 and he reached the big leagues three years later, eventually serving as backup catcher on Arizona's ’01 World Series champions.
Signed: OF Kyle Hudson
Removed from 40-man: C Luis Martinez (outrighted to Triple-A)
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Rey Cotilla (Joliet (Frontier)), LHP Sean Henn (Hanwha (Korea))
Drafted three times previously, twice from Miami Dade CC, Rey Cotilla played indy ball last season after going undrafted as a North Carolina State senior in ’11. According to his Pointstreak bio, Cotilla throws from a sidearm angle. [...] Continue Reading »
The Rangers have signed Australian outfielder Todd McDonald for $475,000, the largest bonus of the 2012-13 international signing period for an Australian hitter.
Scouts described McDonald, 17, as one of the toolsier players in Australia. At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, McDonald is athletic, has excellent plate discipline and a line-drive stroke from the left side. Scouts were mixed on his power, with some saying he's more of a gap power guy, but he's shown he can go over the fences in games. He projects as a corner outfielder with an average arm.
McDonald, who recently traveled to the Dominican Republic and worked out there for the Rangers, dominated at Australia's 18U National Championship last month. He hit .432/.519/.750 in 54 plate appearances over 12 games for Queensland, won the tournament's "Golden Bat" award and made the all-star team after ranking first in total bases.
The Rangers have been relatively quiet during the current international signing period. They signed Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras for $4.5 million last year on Feb. 29, but Major League Baseball did not announce its decision on whether it would approve Beras' contract until July 12, at which point several of the top 16-year-old players who became eligible to sign on July 2 were already off the board. They did sign Juremi Profar, the younger brother of Jurickson Profar, to a $150,000 bonus, but they otherwise have the majority of their $2.9 million international bonus pool still available.
Lefthander Lewis Thorpe, who signed with the Twins for $500,000 in July, was the biggest Australian signing of the current international signing period.
By Carlos Torres Bujanda
HERMOSILLO, MEXICO–For those that remained from the sellout crowd that settled in to watch the Caribbean Series final, Mexico's Yaquis de Ciudad Obregon's 4-3 win over the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido was worth a seven and a half hour wait.
In the longest game in Caribbean Series history, Mexico's Doug Clark homered in the top of the 18th. Marco Carillo allowed a single to Miguel Tejada with two outs in the bottom of the 18th, but Donnell Linares lined out to end the game.
“It was a crazy game, I didn´t look for the homer. Now is time to celebrate," Clark said.
It's a miracle that anyone had enough energy to celebrate. The game took 7:28 to play and included 500+ pitches and 19 pitching changes. [...] Continue Reading »
Angel Villalona has received his work visa and will be in big league camp with the Giants for spring training, a team official confirmed today. He will travel to Arizona next week to join the team.
Villalona, a 22-year-old first baseman who signed with the Giants for $2.1 million in 2006, was on the restricted list in 2010 and 2011, then was unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States last year. Villalona had been charged with the September 2009 murder of 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete in the Dominican Republic at a bar in La Romana, where Villalona is from. Villalona eventually settled with de Jesus Velete's family, reportedly for around $139,000. A prosecutor was planning to move forward with the case, but the charges were dropped.
Villalona had reportedly sued the Giants for breach of contract for $5 million in a Dominican court, but the two sides reportedly settled. The Giants placed Villalona on their 40-man roster and Major League Baseball removed him from the restricted list, so Villalona spent last season playing in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .303/.430/.497 with seven home runs in 44 games.
Prior to his legal troubles, Villalona had reached high Class A San Jose in 2009, hitting .267/.306/.397 with nine home runs in 74 games that season in the California League.
Official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period Jan. 29-Feb. 4.
Article XX-B major league free agents who sign minor league contracts, such as Matt Capps (below), are entitled to a $100,000 "retention bonus" if they begin the year in Triple-A and an automatic opt-out clause if they're still in the minors on June 1.
Signed: RHP Matt Bischoff (re-signed), RHP Joel Pineiro (re-signed), LHP Mark Hendrickson (did not play in ’12), C Zane Chavez (El Paso (American Association)), OF Chris Dickerson (released by Yankees, Jan. 11)
Boston Red Sox
Removed from 40-man: RHP Chris Carpenter (outrighted to Triple-A)
Signed: C Nathan Maldonado (re-signed), OF Brent Lillibridge [...] Continue Reading »
By Carlos Torres
HERMOSILLO, Mexico—Luis Mendoza (Royals) pitched 7.1 scoreless innings, and former major leaguer Marlon Byrd had three RBI to help Mexico’s Yaquis de Ciudad Obregón defeat Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas 10-0 and clinch a spot in the final game of the 2013 Caribbean Series.
At 3-3, Mexico finished second in the round-robin and faces the Dominican Republic in Thursday’s championship game, sending big league veteran Rodrigo Lopez to the mound. The game begins at 7 p.m. Mountain time as Mexico goes for its first Caribbean Series title since 2009, when the Yaquis also won it all.
Well we all know the expression “Mendoza Line”. This time we can use it for Puerto Rico’s Criollos, a team that couldn’t score a single run against Mendoza, who gave up only five hits in 13.1 innings in two starts against them. [...] Continue Reading »
By Carlos Torres
HERMOSILLO, Mexico—Caribbean Series host Mexico became familiar last night with the old baseball saying, “All the tragedies begin with two outs."
In the top of the eighth inning Jose Ramirez (Indians) crowned a seven-run rally with a three-run home run to lead the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido to a 11-6 victory against Mexico's Yaquis de Ciudad Obregon and punch a ticket to the 2013 Caribbean Series title game. [...] Continue Reading »
By Carlos Torres
HERMOSILLO, Mexico—Puerto Rico's Criollos de Caguas ended a three-game losing streak with an unlikely upset Monday that jumbled the Caribbean Series standings.
Royals farmhand Ray Navarro was the hero of the day for Caguas, with four RBIs from the eighth inning onward, leading to a 6-4, 10th-inning victory over previously unbeaten Escogido of the Dominican Republic in the beginning of the second round of the 2013 Caribbean Series. The Dominican (3-1) remains a win away from clinching a spot in the championship game, likely against either Mexico or Venezuela (both 2-2).
Navarro, 23, was the soul of the Puerto Rico (1-3) offensive, collecting an eighth-inning two-run single to tie the game and a two-run homer in the 10th to give Caguas the final lead. [...] Continue Reading »
BY CARLOS TORRES
HERMOSILLO, Mexico—The Dominican Republic blew a ninth-inning lead with Rays closer Fernando Rodney on the mound, but Ricardo Nanita covered for the unexpected blown save.
Nanita's walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th led DR champion Escogido to a 6-5 victory against host Mexico's Obregon.
It was the second heartbreaking loss in a row for Yaquis, who are now 1-2; Escogido remains the lone undefeated team. Venezuela, which defeated Puerto Rico 3-1, is in second place at 2-1 while the Puerto Rican team remains winless at 3-0. [...] Continue Reading »
By Carlos Torres Bujanda
HERMOSILLO, Mexico.–Mario Lisson smacked a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth as Venezuela´s Navegantes del Magallanes defetead Mexico´s Yaquis de Ciudad Obregón 4-3 in the second match of the Saturday in 2013 Caribbean Series.
Lisson is normally known more for his glove, he was rated the best defensive infielder in the Royals system by Baseball America heading into the 2009 and 2010 seasons. But on Saturday he had a solo home run in addition to his game winning single. Lisson's home run off of Óscar Villarreal cut Mexico's lead to 3-1 in the eighth. Venezuela eventually tied the game at three in the eighth, setting up Lisson's ninth-inning heroics.
Mexico´s club was 3-1 on the score in the eighth inning when Lisson hits his solo homer against Baltimore Orioles minor league . Venezuela scores again in the same inning to tie the score.
Righthander Mike Benacka was charged with the loss. [...] Continue Reading »
By Carlos Torres Bujanda
HERMOSILLO, Mexico.–After a flamboyant opening ceremony where Fernando Valenzuela threw out the first pitch to an standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 16,000, Mexico's Yaquis de Ciudad Obregón, shut out Puerto Rico's Criollos de Caguas 3-0 in the nightcap of the opening day of the Caribbean Series.
Royals righthander Luis Mendoza threw the first six innings of the shutout holding Puerto Rico to three hits and two walks while striking out three. Ex-big leaguer Dennis Reyes combined with Jose Cobos, Adrian Ramírez, and Oscar Villarreal to keep the shutout going. Baltimore Orioles righthander Luis Ignacio Ayala picked up the save.
Major League veteran infielder Alfredo Amezaga got Mexico on the board with an RBI double in the third. Outfielder Marlon Byrd, currently a Mets minor leaguer, drove in the other two runs with a double to center field in the sixth. [...] Continue Reading »
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