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 […]
Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive
Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
Over the next few weeks, we'll be putting the spotlight on players who will be involved in this year's Futures Game on July 10 in Detroit. We hope to provide our readers with insights on as many players as possible as only Baseball America can.
For our first installment in the Futures Game Dish, we head to Florida, where high Class A Clearwater righthander Scott Mathieson might not be getting the results he'd like in terms of wins and losses--he's 0-2, 3.88 in 58 innings--but is stringing together quality start after quality start in the Florida State League.
Mathieson has played with fellow British Columbia natives Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis on Canadian national teams, but he went 16 rounds after them to the Phillies in the 2002 draft.
After going 2-9, 5.09 in his first two seasons, Mathieson made considerable progress last year and has built on that success this year. He's filling out his frame, and is now listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. His fastball tops out at 96 mph, and he's consistently in the 92-93 range. And he's not like your average power pitcher with a big fastball/breaking ball repertoire. Mathieson relies on a fastball/changeup mix for the time being to get hitters out.
"He's a big, broad-shouldered guy that's starting to physically mature," Clearwater pitching coach Scott Lovekamp said. "And he's an animal workout-wise. He's built for endurance, and he has one speed. Everything he does is full-throttle.
"He's a young power pitcher--there's no question--but his changeup is ahead of his curveball right now. His curveball continues to get better, but he's still developing a feel for pitching. It's making gradual improvement."
In his last outing, Mathieson struck out 10, walked one and allowed one run against Sarasota--three of those strikeouts came on changeups; seven on fastballs. On paper, that might appear to be his best outing of the season, but Lovekamp goes back to a May 29 game against St. Lucie because he mixed in all his pitches for strikes.
Sometimes clubs are wary about sending young pitchers to the Futures Game, simply because they will face quality hitters with a lot more experience, but Lovekamp doesn't see that being an issue with Mathieson.
"He's really excited," Lovekamp said. "Going from an unknown guy from Canada to this is good for him no matter what happens. He'll be able to handle it."
But first things first. Mathieson will face Tampa tonight.
-- CHRIS KLINE
• Another player selected for the Futures Game, Triple-A Indianapolis righthander Ian Snell, was called up to the big leagues Saturday. The Indianapolis Star reported that Snell will miss the Futures Game and the Triple-A all-star game as a result of the callup. Curiously, there is no room in the Pirates rotation, so Snell will have to adjust to life in the bullpen for the first time in his career. He was 9-2, 4.06 with 90 strikeouts in 93 innings. Replacements for players who will miss the Futures Game because of big league promotions will be announced this week.
• All kinds of debuts over the weekend, as shortstop Anderson Hernandez (Mets) and righthander Fausto Carmona (Indians) were welcomed to Triple-A, outfielder Denard Span and lefthander Glen Perkins both debuted at Double-A New Britain, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went to Double-A Harrisburg, and Dodgers lefthander Hong Chih Kuo made his first appearance at Double-A Jacksonville.
• As for banner weekends, look no further than Double-A Birmingham center fielder Chris Young. Young, a 16th-rounder in 2001 and still another prospect selected for the Futures Game, tore apart Carolina pitching, going 8-for-13 with four homers and seven RBIs.
• It almost seems like the Nashville Sounds are trying to mess with our heads. Already featuring the hard-hitting outfield prospect Corey Hart, the Brewers Triple-A affiliate recently purchased the contract of another Corey Hart, this one a shortstop for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League. As if that weren't confusing enough, the original Hart went 3-for-4 with a double yesterday and was pinch-hit for by Hart, the sequel, who drew a walk in his first PCL plate appearance. The original Hart has been on a tear of late, hitting .417 in June, and was recently added to the PCL all-star team. No word yet on whether former pop star Corey Hart of "Sunglasses at Night" fame has been invited to sing the national anthem in Nashville. If nothing else, we suggest a sunglasses promotion for a future night game.
• The pitchers' duel that was supposed to determine the South Atlantic League Northern Division first-half title never materialized, as both Troy Patton and Gaby Hernandez were roughed up in Saturday's one-game playoff, which Hagerstown won 9-4. Patton took the loss as he allowed seven runs (five earned) over four innings while fanning five. Hernandez allowed four earned over five innings while fanning six to improve his record to 6-1, 2.61. The Suns' offense was paced by Grant Psomas, who went 2-for-2 with a homer and a sacrifice fly. On the season, Patton has allowed 17 earned runs in 79 innings, with 10 of those runs coming in his last two starts against Hagerstown.
• Braves third baseman Eric Campbell is displaying prodigious power in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The 2004 second-rounder out of Gibson High in Owensville, Ind. went 3-for-6 yesterday with a homer and four RBIs for Danville, and he's hitting .276/.300/.759 with four homers in his first 29 at-bats. One warning sign is his eight strikeouts to go with one walk.
• It was a big weekend for Rangers outfielder Vince Sinisi, whose season was delayed until mid-May as he recovered from a broken arm and a number of complications, including a staph infection. Sinisi, who received a $2.07 million bonus as a 2003 second-round pick out of Rice, went 6-for-6 with a triple and a home run on Friday night in his last game at high Class A Bakersfield, and homered in his first Double-A at-bat yesterday as Frisco topped Wichita in the Texas League. Sinisi hit .363-6-22 in 135 at-bats in the California League.
Sinisi wasn’t the only hot bat at Bakersfield, as outfielder Anthony Webster has been on a tear himself. The 22-year-old outfielder acquired from the White Sox in 2003, has gone 16-for-35 with four home runs, 12 runs and 13 RBIs in his last seven games for the Blaze, and is batting .270/.306/.452 in 252 at-bats.
• As the Cal League hit its all-star break, a pair of Royals prospects at High Desert finished on a hot streak. Outfielder Billy Butler went 12-for-26 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in six games after returning from a broken bone in his hand and finished the first half with triple-crown statistics of .367-18-60 in 229 at-bats. Outfielder Chris Lubanski also has bounced back from a slow start. After batting .195-4-9 in April, the 2003 first-round pick has hit .285-13-50 in his last 50 games, including a .370-7-28 mark in June contests, upping his season numbers to .259/.307/.511 in 282 at-bats.
• Playing in one of the few hitter-friendly parks in the Florida State League, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp hit a pair of home runs and drove in seven runs on Friday in a 16-0 Vero Beach home blowout of Jupiter. But he went 0-for-4 and Sunday’s 2-1 road loss, continuing a season-long trend. Kemp, who is batting .247/.286/.516 in 190 at-bats overall, is batting .348-10-27 at home, and .158-3-13 on the road.
• Righthander Philip Humber, the Mets' first-round pick in 2004, enjoyed the best start of his career Friday night, striking out 10 over seven innings while allowing one run on three hits for high Class A St. Lucie. Humber has won his last two starts, and is now 2-5, 5.09 in 58 innings.
• Rick Ankiel update: The former top pitching prospect, now trying to make it as a lefthanded-hitting outfielder, is batting .298-9-25 in 94 at-bats for low Class A Quad Cities, including a 10-for-18 run with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last five games.
• An early breakout player in the New York-Penn League is Astros shortstop Wladimir Sutil. The 20-year-old Venezuelan, who led the Appy League in steals last year while wowing scouts with his defensive skills, has gone 10-for-21 (.476) in his first six games for short-season Tri-City, and has yet to strike out.
• The Rookie-level complex leagues opened play last week, and while Opening Day in the Gulf Coast League isn’t accompanied by much fanfare, Sunday’s 17-inning epic between the Pirates and Red Sox was memorable. Pirates shortstop Angel Gonzalez gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the third inning. Red Sox catcher Jesus Garcia tied it with an RBI single in the fifth, and the two teams matched scoreless frames until the game was called after 17 innings, tied 1-1. Red Sox righthander Alex Gonzalez struck out seven with three hits in five innings, while righthander Nicolas Suero was good for seven shutout innings, striking out five for the Pirates. Jonathan Egan, a second-team BA High School All-American this year and the Sox’ second-round pick, went 0-for-7 in the game, his professional debut.
• A pair of intriguing righthanders hooked up Friday when the GCL Braves sent 21-year-old Jonathan Tejada to the mound against the Yankees’ Ferdin Tejeda. Tejada, who was 10-8, 2.22 in three years in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, struck out seven in 4 1/3 innings in his domestic debut. The Yankees' Tejeda made his professional pitching debut, allowing a run and a hit with a walk and two strikeouts in three innings. Tejeda spent his first four seasons as an infielder with plus arm strength but little success offensively. He was batting .207 in 29 at-bats at high Class A Tampa in April when the Yankees decided to convert him. His fastball touched 97 mph in extended spring training.
• Angel Salome collected his second four-hit game of the week, as Helena remained undefeated at 6-0 in a 10-4 win over Great Falls Sunday. Salome leads the Pioneer League with a .462 average (12-for-26) to go along with two home runs and a league-best 11 RBIs and .533 on-base percentage. Salome is hitting in the heart of a Helena lineup that features Darren Ford (10-for-23), Charlie Fermaint (6-for-16), Ryan Crew (8-for-18), Ryan Braun and Kenneth Holmberg (8-for-19). Braun, Milwaukee’s first-round pick out of Miami, went 2-for-4 with an RBI Sunday in his professional debut.