Rule 5 Draft Preview: Cubs’ Marcos Mateo Draws Late Buzz
ORLANDOâ€”The Rule 5 draft is the finale of the Winter Meetings for many team officials. Bags are packed, and often brought to the convention hall where the draft is held. [...]
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With all the hype surrounding the release of the final Star Wars film, “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” hundreds of thousands of moviegoers will be headed to the theatre this week.
But Orioles first baseman Walter Young will not be one of them.
“I really haven’t got into that,” Young said. “It’s just one of those things. I like a lot of funny movies. I haven’t been to see anything in a long time because there haven't been any good movies out. Nothing really catches my interest. My thing is comedy. I love to laugh.”
Not the kind of response you’d expect from a guy who is as intimidating as it gets in the game today, but if you look beneath the surface, Young’s personality is far from the image he portrays as a 6-foot-5, 300-pound first baseman.
A 31st-round pick of the Pirates in 1999 out of Purvis (Miss.) High, Young put up monster numbers in system before Pittsburgh surprisingly put him on waivers in 2003. He was quickly gobbled up by the O’s and had a huge year at Double-A Bowie, batting .272-33-98 in 486 at-bats.
He’s now making waves at Triple-A Ottawa, hitting .322-3-24 in 121 at-bats.
We caught up with the hulking first baseman right before the Lynx’ bus took off for the airport to head back north of the border.
On leaving the Pirates: “It’s one of those things that you have to deal with. I put up good numbers when I was with the Pirates, but you never know what to expect. You never can get too comfortable. They put me on waivers and I got claimed by the Orioles. It’s been a good thing for me.”
On spending his offseason in the Venezuelan League: “It was crazy at first and it took me some time to get used to it. It’s a good league. I just had to try to pick up as much Spanish as I could. But the fans and everything, they’re crazy. It was just an all-around good time.”
On his successes so far this season: “The first month I got real hot. I wasn’t really thinking, just going up there swinging the bat and letting natural talent take over. But now I’m kind of like--ugh--and hitting a roadblock, so I’m really having to look at my swing, front and back to figure out what I’m doing. I’m really not feeling as comfortable as I did earlier, but believe me, I’m looking forward to figuring it out.”
• Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels started throwing off a mound this past weekend, as he begins the recovery from a broken hand. June 15 remains the target date for Hamels to be pitching competitively, probably starting at high Class A Clearwater.
• Pirates righthander Bryan Bullington earned his first Triple-A win at Indianapolis yesterday. Bullington, who was held back in extended spring training until the beginning of the month with minor shoulder fatigue, allowed three runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out two in six innings as Indians defeated Norfolk, 7-3. Indianapolis first baseman Brad Eldred went deep twice, both off lefthander Blake McGinley. Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of Bullington’s career will come in his next start, slated for Saturday, when the first-overall pick in 2002 faces off against second-overall pick in 2002 B.J. Upton and the Durham Bulls.
• Triple-A Syracuse righthander Chad Gaudin tossed a complete game one-hitter in a 3-0 win against Columbus last night. Gaudin, who came over to the Blue Jays from the Devil Rays for catcher Kevin Cash last December, retired the first 24 batters he faced and lost his perfect game when Ryan Hankins led off the ninth with a line drive single to left. "I was locked in," Gaudin told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "I had a couple of mistakes that they hit hard, but they hit right to people. It was just one of those days, you know." But it didn’t start out that way--Gaudin arrived late to the ballpark after he locked his car keys in his apartment. This season, Gaudin is 2-1, 2.35 in 54 innings.
• It was a night for complete games in the Eastern League, as Indians righthander Dan Denham and Pirates lefthander Mike Connolly both went the distance. Denham, a first-round pick in 2001, allowed three earned runs on seven hits, struck out seven and did not issue a walk in a 5-3 win against Norwich. Connolly, a 19th-rounder in 2000 allowed a run on five hits, walked two and struck out two in a 6-1 against Bowie.
• One of the best pitching matchups last night was in the Southern League, as Double-A Carolina lefthander Scott Olsen went up against West Tenn lefthander Rich Hill. But it didn’t exactly live up to its billing, as Olsen was rocked for five earned runs on seven hits and was chased after just three innings in an 8-2 Diamond Jaxx win. Hill, on the other hand, was brilliant. The Cubs’ fourth-round pick in 2002 out of Michigan allowed just four hits over seven innings, struck out a season-high 14 and walked one. He extended his scoreless inning streak to 27. The last time Hill gave up an earned run was April 25 against Montgomery. He also leads the SL in strikeouts with 73.
• Padres first baseman Tagg Bozied returned to game action yesterday--in a big way. Bozied, who was in extended spring training rehabbing a ruptured patella tendon that occurred when he jumped on home plate to celebrate a game-winning grand slam last season, went 3-for-5 with three homers and six RBIs at Double-A Mobile. Two of those blasts came against Montgomery righthander Jason Hammel. Hammel was roughed up for eight earned runs on 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings. Montgomery outfielder Elijah Dukes was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Brandon Bushee for arguing a called third strike.
• It doesn't matter the level, Rickie Weeks hits, and gets hit. In an eleven inning 8-6 loss to Las Vegas, the Nashville second baseman was 1-for-4 with a triple and was twice hit by pitches. He has now been hit 10 times this season after being hit 28 times last season and 15 times his last year of college. Watch out, Hughie Jennings, your record could be in trouble.
• With all due respect to John Rheinecker, the best pitcher in the PCL this season has been Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals righthander raised his record to 4-1, 1.82 for Memphis after throwing seven superb innings last night while fanning five and allowing only one run. For the season, he has 45 punchouts and only six walks in 54 innings.
• The Dave Haehnel watch continues. Two more scoreless innings last night extends his scoreless streak to 18 1/3 innings at low Class A Delmarva. It was also his 10th save.
• The best Sally League performance of the night belonged to the Indians' Tony Sipp. The lefthander threw seven no-hit innings for Lake County while whiffing seven and walking two. Unfortunately for him, his bullpen blew the lead and neither he (or the team) got the victory. Sipp is 2-1. 0.78 with 37 strikeouts in 35 innings. Like many young pitchers, walks have been his biggest problem as he has issued 14 free passes.
• Giants third baseman Todd Jennings is doing much better in his second go-around at high Class A San Jose. A former catcher, Jennings went 5-for-5 last night in the Giants’ 6-2 win over Stockton, increasing his season totals to .290-4-17. A second-round pick in 2003 out of Long Beach State, Jennings hit just .186-1-12 in 45 games for San Jose last season while dealing with a shoulder injury.
• Reds outfielder Javon Moran, who missed the first five weeks of the season recovering from a hamstring injury, has gone 4-for-8 with five RBIs in his first two games of the season for high Class A Sarasota. The Phillies fifth-round pick in 2003 out of Auburn, Moran was traded to the Reds in last year’s Cory Lidle deal, and entered the season hitting .297/.349/.379 in 186 pro games with 79 stolen bases.
• Padres righthander Michael Ekstrom tossed a four-hit shutout for his first career complete game in low Class A Ft. Wayne’s 8-0 win over West Michigan. Ekstrom, who threw just 93 pitches, improved to 5-0, 1.41 and has allowed less than two earned runs in five of seven starts. A 2004 12th-round pick from Point Loma Nazarene University, Ekstrom’s pure stuff was considered among the best in the San Diego area last June, but as a 6-foot righthander, his undersized frame kept teams from selecting him higher.