Tracking The Affiliation Shuffle
The affiliation shuffle kicks off Sept. 16 and begins a two-week period when clubs can negotiate agreements with unattached affiliates. Consider it free agency for minor league teams. Teams had […]
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
PORTLAND, Maine—Several of the Red Sox' top-rated prospects are pitching in Portland, helping the Sea Dogs to a 19-10 record, best in the Double-A Eastern League.
The rotation features three members of the Sox' Top 30: Jon Papelbon (3), Jon Lester (4), and David Pauley (26). All but Lester are righthanders, with lefty Kason Gabbard also in the rotation, which just lost knuckleballer Charlie Zink, who was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. And righthander Manny Delcarmen, who ranked 11th, is leading the team in wins with four out of the bullpen.
Sea Dogs' catcher Alberto Concepcion, who caught most of them last year at Sarasota, gave us a rundown on one of the best pitching staffs in Double-A.On Papelbon: "He's a bulldog. Not that all of the guys don't want the ball, but he's almost on a different level. He obviously throws hard. His command is better than it was last year. He's developed a cutter, or maybe you could call it a slider. He's added a splitter, although it's almost like a split/change. It's not really a true splitter that has a tumbling effect. The action on his is almost like a change with down action. He's leaving it low and getting some bad swings with it."
On Papelbon's similarities to Mark Prior, who Concepcion caught at Southern Cal: "I see a lot of similarities, especially mentally. They're both competitive athletes. Every day they want to compete, and they attack hitters. One thing they definitely have in common is respect. You go out to the mound to talk to them, and they'll value your input. They know what they want to do, but they also respect that they're part of a team."
On Lester: "He's a hard thrower, although his fastball doesn't have as much explosion as Pap's. He's developed a cutter. His two-seamer has good run to it. Both that and his change are better than they were last year. Jon's still only 21, and the more feel and command he develops, the better he'll get. The ball is definitely coming out of his hand better."
On Zink: "Last year Charlie was always talking about not being able to find the right arm-slot. He was always changing it, trying to get that real good feel and consistency. This year he seems to have it, and his movement and control are good. And he wants to throw his knuckler all day long. He wants to develop it even more."
On Pauley: "His curve is great. It's a big, loopy 12-to-6 with great sharp action. I'd say he has the best hook on the staff. He also throws a two-seamer, which he likes to keep down in the zone. His change has good rotation and is hard for batters to pick up."On Gabbard: "He throws a two-seamer that has good down action to it. He likes to start it inside and move it back over the plate. He has a good command of the strike zone. He throws strikes."
On Delcarmen: "He's got great stuff, and it's just a question of making the transition from the rotation to pitching out of the pen. He's working with the pitching coach, trying to iron everything out. Last year it would sometimes take Manny an inning to get going, and he'd get better as the game went on. Manny has a lot of confidence. He knows he can throw 96, 97, 98. He gets in trouble when he leaves the ball up in the zone, but when it's 97 at the knees, he's throwing it by people. He's got a great hard curve, too, and a change."
• With the big league club struggling offensively, Indians outfielder Jody Gerut took a large step toward getting back to Cleveland yesterday. Gerut went 3-for-5 with his first homer on a rehab assignment since coming back from reconstructive knee surgery. Though he describes himself at "about 80 percent," Gerut doesn't think the club is rushing him back. "It felt good. It's month seven of an 18-month process," Gerut said. "With the brace, it gives me stability and it's playable and that's all I really care about. I think the general consensus is that medical people feel pretty confident that at month seven that people can be on the field with a very good level of safety. I tend to agree. I don't feel like I'm putting myself at risk at this point with the brace on."
• With the exception of a fine 2001 season in the Southern League where he hit .313/.378/.549, David Kelton has never performed like a future major leaguer. This season at Triple-A Iowa, he is reminding folks of why he was a second-round pick in 1998. After going 3-for-5 last night, the Cubs' prospect is now hitting .331/.373/.508. Chicago hasn't been getting much production from Todd Hollandsworth, so it will be interesting to see if Kelton gets a shot.
• The West Virginia Power put up 11 runs against Delmarva last night, and the story was the double play combo of shortstop Alcides Escobar and second baseman Hernan Iribarren. Escobar, the leadoff hitter, was 4-for-6 with four runs scored while Iribarren, batting second, was 5-for-6 with four RBIs and three runs scored. The Brewers have young players at those positions in J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks, so look out for some position switches in the organization down the line if these two keep developing.
• Although Mitch Einertson tied an Appalachian League record with 24 homers last season, he didn't hit his first homer in the Sally League until yesterday. The Astros fifth-round pick burst onto the scene with that impressive Appy League performance is now hitting .219/.339/.314. His bugaboo last season was strikeouts as he fanned in nearly a third of his at-bats; he is doing the same this year as he has 31 punchouts in just 105 at-bats.
• Braves lefthander Macay McBride made his Triple-A debut Wednesday at Richmond. McBride, a first-round pick out of Screven County High in Sylvania, Ga., went 2 1/3 innings, allowing a run on three hits and striking out three. McBride was 3-1, 3.65 at Double-A Mississippi this year, where he split time between the bullpen and a starting role.
• Pirates righthander Bryan Bullington made his first start of the 2005 season yesterday, going six innings at Triple-A Indianapolis. Held back for the first month of the season with minor shoulder fatigue, the first-round pick in 2002 out of Ball State allowed three runs on seven hits, including two solo homers as Richmond defeated the Indians, 5-1. "From the health standpoint, everything was fine, so it was good to get out there and be able to get through six innings. I really didn't look at it as being this big event," Bullington told the Indianapolis Star. "It was my first start. I came out and threw strikes for the most part and went after guys. Two mistakes cost me the game, but I was able to get in six innings and 80-some pitches. I'll take that efficiency, I guess, and try to learn from it."
• Double-A Altoona righthander Matt Peterson had one of his worst outings of the year yesterday but still got the win. In fact, it's amazing Peterson, a second-round pick in 2000, has a record of 3-2. Last night, Peterson allowed six earned runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 13-10 win against Harrisburg. Overall, the 23-year-old has an ERA of 9.32, allowing 29 earned runs on 41 hits in 28 innings, and has an abysmal 13-24 strikeout-walk ratio.
• Royals outfielder Mitch Maier had three doubles and three RBIs in high Class A High Desert's 7-1 win over Lake Elsinore last night, continuing a trend of two-baggers for the 2003 first-round pick out of Toledo. Maier, hitting .328/.372/.573 in 33 games, leads the minor leagues with 17 doubles, including 10 in his last 11 games.
• Athletics lefthander Dallas Braden continues to roll for high Class A Stockton, pitching the first complete game of his career and recording his fourth consecutive double-digit strikeout game as the Ports topped San Jose 5-1. Braden allowed one run on five hits and whiffed 11, increasing his minor league-leading total to 64.
• Reds 2004 first-round pick Homer Bailey hurled five shutout innings in low Class A Dayton's 6-4 loss to Clinton, and has not allowed and earned run in his last four outings, lowering his ERA to 2.22 with 35 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.
• Cubs righty Sean Gallagher finally has an ERA, after allowing one run over seven strong innings in low Class A Peoria's 7-1 win over Beloit. Gallagher ERA now sits at a sparkling 0.21 in 42 innings.