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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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
Last year, the Phillies’ top two prospects were lefthander Cole Hamels and righthander Gavin Floyd. Neither has had the start to the 2005 they had hoped for.
While Floyd made it to the big leagues last September and broke camp with Philadelphia this spring, he is having a tough time since being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after going 1-1, 14.14 in 14 innings with the Phillies. In 30 innings in Triple-A, Floyd is 1-5, 7.71 with an uncharacteristic 24-16 strikeout-walk ratio.
During his big league tenure, Floyd was moved from the rotation to the pen; and now back to a starting role with the Red Barons. In his last start against Louisville, Floyd allowed five earned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The change of scenery, not to mention switching roles, seem to have Floyd in a tailspin.
“The thing about Gavin, I think when he was with the bullpen in Philadelphia; it was a big adjustment for him,” Phillies roving pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller said. “He got hit around and he got whacked around pretty good. His confidence was a little shot. We took him back to Scranton to get him back on his feet. He threw with a lot of confidence (his last two starts) and had good velocity with a little movement on his fastball. (The) curveball still wasn’t as consistent as we would have liked it.
“He has taken little strides. His stuff is there and he feels fine. I think a lot of it is just getting some work on the side and getting his confidence up. I think he will be fine. He has too good of stuff. We are on the right track.”
And then there is Hamels.
In February, the 21-year-old broke his left hand after an altercation outside a bar in Florida. Last season, Hamels sat out the remainder of the season with bicep tendonitis after only pitching 16 innings with a 1.13 earned run average and 24 strikeouts.
Hamels returned to the mound in extended spring training two weeks ago, and is slated to begin at high Class A Clearwater by mid-June.
“He feels good, his back feels good, arm feels good, hand feels good so we are taking it slow,” Heimueller said. “Once we build him up with a little bit of arm strength, we will hopefully, probably target a date to him pitching with the team probably around the 15th of June. That gives him two and a half months into a season where there was a time where we felt he wasn’t going to pitch at all, so we are excited about it.
“Where he ends will be up to Cole on how he pitches. Right now I just want to put him right on the mound. I want him to get into him into his first game and see him pitch his first game. He has the ability to move quickly, but he hasn’t pitched in over a year so I am more than happy with him starting in Clearwater right now to get his pitching ability back and we’ll go from there.”
--CHRIS KLINE, MATTHEW STUCKO
• Indians righthander Jake Dittler lowered his ERA to 2.30 last night after allowing a run on seven hits in 5-2 Double-A Akron loss to Erie. Over his last four starts, Dittler has 18 strikeouts, seven walks and an ERA of 1.29.
• Double-A West Tenn lefthander Renyel Pinto put together his second consecutive dominant start, allowing just a run over seven innings and striking out nine in a 3-2 win against Mobile. After struggling at Triple-A Iowa to start the season, Pinto is 0-0, 2.50 with 19 strikeouts in 17 innings with the Diamond Jaxx.
• Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect Joel Guzman sat out a second straight day with a sore left shoulder. He is expected to be back in the lineup tonight against Montgomery. On the season, Guzman is hitting .285/.367/.576 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 151 at-bats.
• Double-A Montgomery shortstop Fernando Cortez saw his 15-game streak of reaching base end, as he went 0-for-5 with an RBI in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Jacksonville. This season, Cortez, the Devil Rays’ ninth-round pick in 2001 out of Grossmont (Calif.) Community College, is hitting .361/.413/.446 in 166 at-bats. "One thing scouts notice is how hard he plays all the time," Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo told the Montgomery Advertiser. "The other day, he hit a comebacker to the pitcher. He ran all out, the pitcher threw it away and he was safe. Managers, scouts, everybody loves that kind of play."
• Prince Fielder seems to be finding his power stroke in the PCL. The Nashville first baseman has three homers in his last two games, half of his total for the season. The Brewers No. 2 prospect is now hitting .255/.366/.416, while the batting average may not be stellar, he has drawn 27 walks compared to 38 strikeouts.
• The Dodgers have been struggling, so it must be encouraging to see what Jayson Werth is doing in Las Vegas. The leftfielder went 4-for-4 last night with five RBIs and is now hitting .378 with two homers in his Triple-A rehab stint.
• Chris Burke was supposed to be an everyday player in Houston this season. While he may have slumped there, he is showing he has little else to prove in Triple-A. With two doubles yesterday, the second baseman is now 12 for his last 26 and is hitting .317/.386/.508 at Round Rock.
• He has only been in Lake County for a few weeks, but Brian Barton is making his mark. The University of Miami alum is now 19-for-40 with two homers at low Class A. As a four-year college player, this type of performance is not surprising, but still encouraging for a player who had no played competitively since June of 2004 after not signing until last fall.
• Stuart Pomeranz made his Double-A debut last night, giving up four runs on six hits over four innings in Double-A Springfield’s 11-6 loss to Midland. The 20-year-old righthander was the club’s second-round pick in 2003 and began the year with high Class A Palm Beach, where he was 2-5, 3.35 in 48 innings.
• It was Royals hitting prospects on parade last night in high Class A High Desert’s 14-4 win over Stockton. Outfielder Mitch Maier, who missed four games with a slight hamstring pull, returned to action with a five-hit game, raising his average to .343. Third baseman Billy Butler was 4-for-5 with his 11th and 12th home runs and four RBIs, and outfielder Chris Lubanski slugged his eighth home run of the year.
• Angels first baseman Kendry Morales continues to impress early in his professional career. Morales had his best game as a pro in high Class A Rancho Cucamonga’s 8-7 win over Inland Empire last night, hitting a game-tying home run in the ninth inning, then singling and scoring the winning run in the 10th. In four games, the 21-year-old Cuban is 9-for-19 (.474) with two home runs and six RBIs.
• A pair of top prospects in the California League are on the shelf with injuries. Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who leads the circuit with a .373 average is on the disabled list with an oblique muscle injury, while Devil Rays righthander Jeff Niemann continues to be sidelined with a sore right shoulder. An examination found no structural damage, and he is expected to sit out at least another week after missing his last two starts. The fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft, Niemann is 0-1, 3.98 in five starts for Visalia, allowing just 12 hits in 20 innings while striking out 28.
• While Tigers second baseman Juan Francia entered last night’s game with an impressive .331 batting average, his slugging percentage was identical, as all 55 of his hits were singles. Francia changed all of that last night by going 3-for-5 with a double and a pair of home runs in high Class A Lakeland’s 13-3 blowout win over Brevard County. “It’s unbelievable that I could hit two home runs in one game, but I’m still not sure it will convince the Tigers that I can hit with power, too,” Francia told the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger.
• One would assume that there would be little good news for Dodgers fans from high Class A Vero Beach’s 15-3 loss to Fort Myers, but that was far from the case. Third baseman Andy LaRoche homered in his fifth straight game (seven home runs overall), extending his minor league leading total to 18, while lefthander Chuck Tiffany returned to action for the first time since May 3 following minor back surgery, allowing one run over four innings and striking out six.
• Keep an eye on: Cardinals lefty Eric Haberer. A third-round pick last year out of Southern Illinois, Haberer fired seven shutout innings in low Class A Quad Cities’ 5-4 loss to Lansing last night. Haberer has allowed just one earned run over his last 20 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.11.