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Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive
Compiled by Kevin Goldstein and Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
It's almost impossible to talk (or write) about any Athletics minor leaguer who was part of their 2002 draft class without mentioning Michael Lewis' best-selling book, "Moneyball."
As a seventh-round pick that year, Brant Colamarino isn't mentioned too prominently in the book, and when he is, it's in extreme terms. Within one paragraph, then-assistant general manager Paul DePodesta says Colamarino "might be the best hitter in the country," and Lewis relates that A's minor league coaches had made, putting it politely, unflattering remarks about Colamarino's unflattering physique.
Colamarino's baseball career, happily, won't be decided by a book but by his bat. He's not the best hitter from the 2002 draft. That was a draft loaded with hitters, such as No. 2 overall pick B.J. Upton, first-rounders Jeremy Hermida, Prince Fielder, Khalil Greene, Russ Adams, Nick Swisher, Jeff Francoeur and Sergio Santos, and later picks such as Brian McCann, Howie Kendrick, Jeremy Reed, Curtis Granderson and Delwyn Young, to name too many.
And, as a scout who saw Colamarino playing for Double-A Midland in the Texas League this year said his physique remains less than perfect.
But Colamarino can hit. He's off to a hot start for the Rock Hounds, hitting .382/.434/.553, even after a 1-for-5 effort in last night's 13-3 win against San Antonio. And that's why this scout thinks the 5-foot-11, 205-pound first baseman out of Pittsburgh might just have a productive major league career.
"He's really swinging the bat. He doesn't have the prototypical body for a first baseman by any means, but he's more agile and athletic than he looks. He really is fairly athletic from what I've seen. He's shown nice glove work around the bag at first base; I think he's a good defender. He can really pick it.
"Offensively, I think he's going to hit enough to be at least a lefthanded bat, a bench guy or a platoon guy at first base. He's probably not going to hit 30 home runs, but he has enough power that I see him being in the big leagues. He has a good swing, he repeats his swing and he makes consistent contact."
Indians catcher Ryan Garko got off to a slow start in his first full season at Triple-A Buffalo, but the former Stanford star fell a single shy of the cycle last night and homered off Syracuse righthander Brandon League. League, who made his first start after being optioned from Toronto earlier this week, was unimpressive. He lasted four innings, gave up six earned runs on eight hits, walked two, struck out three and gave up homers to Garko and third baseman Jake Gautreau. Buffalo righthander Kyle Denney was just as ineffective as League, giving up six runs on 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings in the Sky Chiefs' 10-9 win. The game featured eight homers, including one by Syracuse shortstop Aaron Hill.
It was a night for home runs in the Southern League as well, as Carolina outslugged Jacksonville, 6-5. Outfielder Jeremy Hermida went deep twice, including one in the eighth and then a game-tying blast in the ninth off lefthander Glenn Bott. While Hermida hasn't hit for average in April, the power has certainly been there. The Marlins' first-round pick in 2002 out of Wheeler High in Marietta, Ga., is hitting .250/.392/.650 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in 60 at-bats. "Both homers came in critical situations," said farm director Brian Chattin, who was at the game in Jacksonville. "Power comes in a little bit later for some guys, and I think he's one of those. He's older, stronger, and you can see his swing is one that has always had the potential to hit for more power."
And if you're talking about power, it took Jacksonville first baseman James Loney 395 at-bats in Double-A to reach four home runs in 2004, but he's equaled that number this year--in just 69 at-bats this season. Loney is hitting .217/.235/.435 with 15 RBIs overall. Shortstop Joel Guzman also hit his fourth homer for Jacksonville, and is hitting .294/.380/.559 with 13 RBIs in 68 at-bats.
Keeping on the home run tip, high Class A Potomac third baseman Kory Casto hit two bombs, both off Wilmington lefthander Tommy Hottovy. Casto, the Expos' third-round pick in 2003 out of Portland, has five homers in his last five games and is now hitting .309/.415/.574 with 13 RBIs in 68 at-bats this season. It was a tough night for Hottovy. The Red Sox' fourth-rounder out of Wichita State gave up seven runs--including four homers--on eight hits in just two innings. He is 1-2, 7.07 with 16 strikeouts in 14 innings this season.
While the bats were loud across the minors last night, high Class A Kinston lefthander Jeremy Sowers cruised through five perfect innings before the skies opened up in Eastern North Carolina. Sowers, the Indians first-round pick last year, struck out eight and is now 3-1, 2.91 with 21 strikeouts and one walk in 22 innings. "Of course, I was aware of it," Sowers told the Kinston Free Press of his perfection. "But at the same time, I know no matter what, I'm not going to be able to go nine innings unless, miraculously, I stay under 80 pitches. I just was going out there and trying to pound the strike zone and get us back in the dugout." Kinston won the game 10-0 once play resumed.
Look out for Cubs righthander Sean Gallagher. A 2004 12th-round selection out of St. Thomas Aquinas High in Ft. Lauderdale, Gallagher struck out 10 in 6 1/3 shutout innings on the heels of six no-hit innings in his previous start. In four starts, Gallagher has yet to give up an earned run, allowing 10 hits in 23 innings with an impressive 27-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. "He's a bulldog--you just don't see many kids his age with three pitches they can throw for strikes," said Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita, referring to Gallagher's low-90s fastball, tight breaking ball and surprisingly advanced changeup. "It's a real testament to [area scout] Rolando Pino--that's a scout's dream to find a kid like that in the 12th round."
The Nationals thought they had a leadoff hitter of the future when they took Tyrell Godwin the Rule 5 draft last December. Thus far at Triple-A New Orleans, he is making them look good. Godwin went 3-for-4 with a homer last night to raise his average to .403. He ranks sixth in the Pacific Coast League in hitting with a season line of .403/.434/.528.
Diamondbacks fans, begin salivating. Carlos Quentin and Conor Jackson were a combined 5-for-8 last night in a 6-1 for Triple-A Tucson over Fresno. Quentin is hitting .382/.527/.673 and Jackson is hitting .400/.456/.600 making it look likely we will see both of them in the majors this season, and soon.
Last season the Rockies Samuel Deduno was named Pioneer League pitcher of the year; is South Atlantic League pitcher of the year next? The 21-year-old Dominican righthander is now 4-0, 1.17 after throwing six scoreless innings while whiffing eight for low Class A Asheville. He now has 27 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 23 innings.
Between Gio Gonzalez and Ray Liotta, the White Sox have quite a lefthanded one-two punch at low Class A Kannapolis. While he didn't get the win last night, Liotta fanned eight in seven innings to lower his season ERA to 1.80. Last year Liotta struck out a man per inning in the Pioneer league, and he is doing the same this year with 25 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Tampa Bay righthander Jeff Niemann, the No. 4 overall pick in last year's draft, had a dominant outing in just his third pro start for high Class A Visalia. After giving up a leadoff double to Inland Empire's Juan Gonzalez, Niemann struck out the next five batters he faced and did not give up another hit, finishing with 10 punchouts in five shutout innings.
It continues to be a tale of two first-round picks for the Royals high Class A affiliate at High Desert. Third baseman Billy Butler, the club's 2004 first-round pick, hit his sixth home run and drove in four in the Mavericks' 6-1 win against Bakersfield, and is now hitting .370/.446/.671with three homers and 13 RBIs in 73 at-bats overall. On the other end of the spectrum, 2003 first-round pick Chris Lubanski went 0-for-4 to extend his hitless streak to 21 at-bats and lower his season totals to .169/.218/.338 with two homers and six RBIs in 71 at-bats.
Triple-A Toledo outfielder Curtis Granderson missed his second straight game Tuesday. Granderson, the Tigers' third-round pick in 2002 out of Illinois-Chicago, was hit in the hand with a pitch Sunday and was expected to be re-examined yesterday in Louisville. Granderson is hitting .277/.324/.385 with 10 RBIs in 65 at-bats. He is officially listed as day-to-day.
Low Class A Greensboro third baseman Brad McCann was expected to come off the disabled list (strained hamstring) today. Second baseman Cole Seifrig is expected to miss considerably more time, however. He was placed on the DL last week with mononucleosis.