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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He'll be among the youngest players in the Futures Game, as he doesn't turn 20 until September. He'll also be among the slightest pitchers, at a relatively small 6-foot-1, 185 pounds. But Astros lefthander Troy Patton can put his numbers up against just about anyone.
Patton was one of the top high school lefties available in the 2004 draft with a low 90s fastball and a plus-plus curve, but a strong commitment to Texas scared many teams off, and he slipped to the ninth round. Houston took a chance and later signed him to a $550,000 bonus, equivalent to late second-round money.
In his first full season, Patton is 5-2, 1.94 in 79 innings at low Class A Lexington, limiting Sally League hitters to a .211 average while striking out 94. He was recently promoted to high Class A Salem, but has yet to make his Carolina League debut, as Houston shut him down until the second half due to some minor shoulder soreness.
We caught up with Patton on Thursday as he prepared to head to Detroit for Sunday's big game.
On the key to his success so far this season: "I have a changeup now. (Astros minor league pitching coordinator) Dewey Robinson taught me how to throw one in the offseason and I'm very comfortable with it. I feel as confident with it as I do with my curve, and just feel like I'm a different pitcher with three pitches."
On the different between high school and professional statistics: "In high school I only had to worry about one or two guys in each lineup, but here, everybody can hit. You say I have 94 strikeouts and how that's really good, but to me, it just doesn't sound like that much yet."
On not pitching since June 25: "They shut me down because I had some tightness in my shoulder. It's just minor tendonitis, and they were just very cautious. I'm ready to go, and start throwing again (Thursday) actually."
On falling to the ninth round in last year's draft: "It was frustrating. I thought I made it clear that I wanted to sign, but everyone thought I was going to Texas. I stopped listening after the third round, but my dad called me to tell me that Houston took me in the ninth. After that I just assumed I was going to play at Texas, but the Astros called us and told us not to worry about it and just be patient and something would get done. They signed their higher picks, and then came back to us and kept their word."
On watching Texas win this year's College World Series: "It would have been great to be a part of that, but right now I'm in High A and if I went to college I'd still have two years left before I went pro. Everything is going very well right now, so I have no regrets at all."
On going to the Futures Game: "I'm just looking forward to the whole experience. A lot of those players are more advanced than I am, and I hope I can talk to them and learn something."
• Futures Game roster update: Welcome Kevin Thompson of the Yankees to the U.S. outfield (replacing Jeff Francoeur and also Melky Cabrera as the Yankees’ representative), and Luis Montanez of the Cubs to the World outfield in Cabrera’s spot. That's 10 replacements total from the original Futures rosters.
• With Corey Patterson struggling in the big leagues, the Cubs called up outfielder Adam Greenberg from Double-A West Tenn yesterday and designated Patterson for assignment. Greenberg, a ninth-round pick in 2002 out of North Carolina, was hitting .275-4-27 in 244 at-bats. Jason Dubois will join Patterson at Triple-A Iowa, as the Cubs also called up outfielder Matt Murton to the big leagues from the Diamond Jaxx. Murton, who came over from the Red Sox in the Nomar Garciaparra deal last year, was hitting .342-8-46 in 313 at-bats at West Tenn this season.
• Blue Jays righthander Brandon League didn't have much success as a starter at Triple-A Syracuse but is again flourishing coming out of the pen for the SkyChiefs. League, a second-round pick in 2001 out of St. Louis High in Honolulu, moved to the bullpen in mid-June and has gone 3-0, 2.12 in 17 innings. As a starter this season, League went 1-4, 7.04 in 46 innings. He picked up the win last night in Syracuse's 6-5 win against Rochester, going 2 2/3 shutout innings in relief of righthander Chris Baker.
• Triple-A Buffalo came into last night leading all Triple-A clubs in home runs with 130, but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lefthander Eude Brito shut the powerful Bisons offense down in an 8-1 Barons' win. Brito, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1996, best profiles as a situational lefty out of the pen. But the Phillies are stretching him out this season, using him in the rotation. While the results have been mixed, Brito tossed eight innings, allowed just three hits and struck out four. On the season, Brito is 4-1, 4.92 in 75 innings.
• Welcome back to Triple-A, Leo Daigle. After dominating the Carolina League as a 26-year-old at high Class A Winston-Salem, the White Sox called up Daigle to Triple-A Charlotte in late June. The 11th-round pick of the Tigers in 1997 batted .326-24-85 in 290 at-bats for the Warthogs, and is now hitting just .158 in 19 at-bats for the Knights.
• Red Sox righthander Jon Papelbon was impressive in his Triple-A debut at Pawtucket, allowing just one earned run on three hits and striking out six in seven innings. Righthander Curt Schilling also made his debut in the closer role--even if it wasn't even close to being a save situation. Schilling allowed two runs on two hits and struck out two in Ottawa's 7-3 win over the Paw Sox.
• Nationals righthander Armando Galarraga has been impressive in two Double-A starts at Harrisburg. Last night, the 23-year-old Venezuelan allowed a run on three hits and struck out five in seven innings in a 4-3 loss to Bowie. Galarraga went 3-4, 2.48 with 79 strikeouts in 80 innings this season at high Class A Potomac.
• One of the best pitching matchups was in the Eastern League last night, as Double-A Erie righthander Joel Zumaya squared off against Altoona lefty Tom Gorzelanny. Both pitched well, though Zumaya and the Seawolves came out on top, 3-2. Zumaya allowed only one hit over five innings and struck out six--pushing his league-leading strikeout total to 143 in 107 innings. Gorzelanny went seven innings, allowed two earned runs on five hits and struck out seven.
• Red Sox righthander Anibal Sanchez made his Double-A debut last night at Portland, striking out six in just four innings of a 4-0 win against Trenton. Sanchez went 6-1, 2.40 with 95 strikeouts in 79 innings at high Class A Wilmington this season.
• Hurricane Dennis is wreaking havoc on the PCL season. The New Orleans Zephyrs have cancelled their entire series this weekend against Iowa due to the impending hurricane. Rich Hill was scheduled to start for Iowa on Friday, and since the Cubs do not want him to miss a start, the lefthander will be sent to low Class A Peoria to start against Wisconsin.
• Signed out of the Dominican as a 16-year-old, the Mets' Carlos Gomez is putting together an impressive SAL campaign. The speedster went 3-for-3 last night for the second straight game while stealing his SAL-leading 43rd base. The low Class A Hagerstown outfielder has seen his batting average improve each month this season and his hitting .275/.320/.400. The 19-year-old has just 14 walks in 280 at-bats and will need to improve on that to make himself a true force as a leadoff hitter. Sounds like another Mets leadoff hitter.
• The best game of the night in the short-season New York-Penn league isn't over yet, as the Batavia/Auburn matchup has the two teams tied at five after 20 innings. The game was stopped due to a league rule that prohibits any innings starting after 12:50 a.m. The game will be picked up again on August 14th. Auburn forced an extra frame with a two-run ninth, and almost won it, as Matt Cooksey was thrown out at home by right fielder Jordan Szabo to end the ninth. The two teams have combined for 11 straight scoreless innings since, despite Auburn's leadoff man reaching in seven of the eleven extra innings.
• The Tigers promoted fireballing reliever Eulogio De La Cruz from high Class A Lakeland to Double-A Erie. Cruz, who has a record of 3-2, 3.99 in 59 innings in the Florida State League, was unhittable of late, striking out 13 over 8 1/3 shutout innings in his last four games while allowing just two hits.
• Diamondbacks outfielder Carlos Gonzales' tools have always enamored Arizona officials, and he's been one of the Midwest League's hottest hitters over the past month. The 19-year-old Venezuelan was 2-for-3 in low Class A South Bend's 8-7 win at Burlington last night, and is batting .417 in his last 30 games, with 26 runs and 26 RBIs.
• Yankees' righthander Philip Hughes made his Florida State League debut (and first start since June 12) last night, allowing one run, one hit and one walk over 2 2/3 innings in high Class A Tampa's 7-5 win over Jupiter last night. The 23rd overall pick in last year’s draft, Hughes went 7-1, 1.97 in 12 starts for low Class A Greensboro.
• We told you on Tuesday about the weekend promotions of Athletics prospects Daric Barton and Kevin Melillo, and both have been nothing short of spectacular with their new teams. Barton was 3-for-3 in Double-A Midland's 5-3 loss to San Antonio, and is now 8-for-12 with three doubles and a home run in four games for the Rockhounds. Meanwhile, Melillo was 4-for-5 with a double and a home run in high Class A Stockton's 5-3 loss to San Jose, and is 9-for-18 with two doubles and three home runs in four games for the Ports.
• In was a good night to go for two in Arkansas last night, as Double-A Wichita hammered the Travelers 16-2, thanks in part to eight doubles. It's no surprise that outfielder Mitch Maier, who finished the evening 4-for-6 with four runs and three RBIs, connected for three two-baggers, as the 2003 first-round pick now has a minor league-leading 39 doubles in just 76 games. First baseman Justin Huber, who went 3-for-3 with three walks, hit a pair of doubles in the rout.
• Yankees first-rounder C.J. Henry collected a pair of hits Thursday and is five for his last nine, raising his average to .308 (12-for-39) with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees. The Yankees chose him with the 17th pick this year after Henry boosted his stock with a .481-13-41 senior season at Putnam City High in Oklahoma City, picking up first-team All-America honors. He has stolen five bases in six attempts, has three doubles and two triples to go along with two errors in nine games at shortstop.
• Cesar Carrillo, the Padres' first-round pick this year, started his professional career in fine style yesterday, throwing three shutout innings for high Class A Lake Elsinore. The righthander threw 40 pitches against Lancaster, allowing two hits while striking out three. He didn't walk a batter while throwing 28 strikes. Carrillo, who hadn't thrown in a game since June 10 when Miami was eliminated from the NCAA super-regionals by Nebraska, threw a fastball that registered consistently at 92-96 mph while working inside effectively on lefthanded hitters. In the second inning, he got shortstop Stephen Drew on a fly to right.
• The GCL Mets banged out 14 hits on their way to a 20-6 win over the Nationals Thursday. Rookie outfielder Matt Spath drove in four runs, doubled and tripled. Spath was the Mets' 11th-round selection this year from Flagler Palm Coast High in Bunnell, Fla.
• Lefty Travis Wood ran his scoreless innings pitched streak to eight with four perfect innings for the GCL Reds yesterday. Wood, the Reds' second-round pick from Bryant (Ark.) High this year, has allowed two hits and a walk with 16 strikeouts in three appearances as a professional.
• Rookie-level Helena improved its winning percentage to .813 with its 13th win in 16 games Thursday. Lefthander Derek Miller, a 47th-round draft-and-follow pick in 2003 from Vermont, tossed six shutout innings with three hits and six strikeouts to earn his first pro victory.
• Former Tennessee teammates Josh Alley and Chase Headley helped Eugene to an 11-7 win against Spokane in the short-season Northwest League last night, and they’ve led the Emeralds to a 10-7 record, second-best in the league. Headley, a third baseman and second-round pick, had three hits last night to improve to.419 in 31 at-bats, while Alley scored twice and reached base twice—he leads the league with a .509 on-base percentage and 11 walks while batting .395.
Contributing: John Maffei, John Manuel, Alan Matthews.