2014 Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects
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Travis Chick is becoming a trade-deadline expert.
The new Reds righthander has been traded at the deadline now in each of the last two years. A 2002 14th-round pick by the Marlins out of Whitehouse High in Texas, Chick was traded by the Marlins to the Padres on the final day of the 2004 deadline for veteran Ismael Valdes. The deal looked like grand larceny by the end of the season, as the 6-foot-3, 220 pound Chick was named the Padres top pitching prospect in the offseason after going 5-0, 2.13 in seven starts for the Padres at low Class A Fort Wayne with a 55-9 strikeout-walk ratio on 42 innings.
Following an MVP performance in instructional leagues and a strong spring training, the Padres jumped Chick two levels to Double-A Mobile, where he struggled to a 2-9, 5.27 during an up-and-down campaign that saw him allow two or fewer earned runs in 10 of 19 starts, but also three games in which he allowed eight or more runs. It was enough to impress the Reds, who sent third baseman Joe Randa to the Padres for Chick and fellow righthander Justin Germano six days ago.
We caught up with Chick the day after his Reds system debut with Chattanooga, where he allowed one run on four hits over six innings.
On learning about the trade: “We were getting on the bus to go to the gym and the pitching coach pulled me off the bus. My roommate just went to the big leagues and there’s been a lot of player movement in the system, so I just thought I was getting moved as well. At first they wouldn’t tell me what was going on, but (Padres general manager) Kevin Towers was in town and met with me and explained that he was sorry to see me go, but they’re trying to win now, and I was the one the Reds wanted if this trade was going to happen.”
On the next 48 hours: “I barely slept for three days. We were in Mississippi when it all went down so I had to fly to Mobile. We landed at 10 p.m., I packed until two in the morning, and then woke up for a 6 a.m. flight that got cancelled. So I finally get a flight to Knoxville, and then it was a one-hour drive to the park, so I show up late for the game, and immediately afterwards, we have a seven-hour bus trip to Carolina. So it’s been rough. You don’t really get to say goodbye to your teammates in person, and I still have a bunch of stuff in Mobile that my parents are going to go get and drive home.”
On being traded twice in two years: “I could be upset about it, but it’s kind of nice to think that I’ve been traded twice now for major leaguers. I’ll admit that it would be nice to settle down with an organization. But there’s a great opportunity here in Cincinnati. (Reds general manager) Dan O’Brien told me that the club needs pitching and I’ll get every opportunity to move quickly, and that’s what it’s all about for me--getting to the big leagues.
On his season so far, and his future: “If I stop walking people, I’ll be fine. I feel like I’ve thrown well and I’m competing on this level, but I look at my ERA and it’s over five and I’m like, ‘eeeewwww’. Overall, I’m happy. I’m 21, and I’m in Double-A and I feel like I have a legitimate opportunity to pitch in the bigs late this year or next. I can’t complain.”
• Just two days after the Rangers fired Double-A Frisco pitching coach Steve Leubber (and replaced him with minor league pitching coordinator Rick Adair), three Roughriders pitchers combined for the third perfect game in Texas League history in a 3-0 win over Corpus Christi. Lefthander A.J. Murray pitched the first six innings, veteran Steve Karsay went two, and closer Scott Feldman got the final three outs, with Hooks second baseman Wade Robinson grounding out on a 3-1 count for the final out. Hooks manager Dave Clark felt understandably helpless. "What was going through my mind?" Clark told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "Someone get a (expletive) hit. Let me put a sign on, let me do something. Let me see if I can help manufacture a run. But it never happened. I was handcuffed (in the third-base box) tonight. There was nothing I could do. Those three guys shut us down. They were perfect. What else can you say? They were perfect."
• The Mariners called up Cuban defector Yuniesky Betancourt, who went 1-for-4 in his big league debut last night while playing second base. Betancourt, who played shortstop for all but one game in the minors this year before playing it for the Mariners last night, tripled to left-center field in his first at-bat. Betancourt hit .295-2-30 in 49 games with Triple-A Tacoma after starting the year at Double-A San Antonio, where he hit .273-5-20.
• The Syracuse SkyChiefs made it easy on Zach Jackson in his Triple-A debut. His teammates put up 16 runs on Indianapolis so it didn't take an amazing effort to get the win. The Blue Jays lefthander, a 2004 first-round pick, was solid as he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 while fanning six and allowing seven hits and three walks.
• Sticking with the Blue Jays, the club is expected to give righthander Dustin McGowan his first major league start Saturday. McGowan was the Jays’ top prospect entering the 2004 season but needed Tommy John surgery last May. He made his first 2005 start June 1 in the Florida State League and has made six starts for Double-A New Hampshire, his last one coming Monday when he struck out eight and walked none in six innings while giving up seven hits and four runs (three earned). He was 0-2, 3.34 for the Fisher Cats with 33 strikeouts and 10 walks in 35 innings.
• It looks like Casey Kotchman v. 2004 has finally returned. The Angels first baseman went 3-for-5 with two home runs Thursday and now has 10 on the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. The 23-year-old is now hitting .293/.373/.448 and has 17 of his 33 extra-base hits in July.
• Those who were in Trenton last night got treated to a pitchers duel between Justin Verlander and Matt DeSalvo. He might not have been quite ready for the majors, but Eastern League hitters are helpless against Verlander. The righthander allowed one run over eight innings (a solo home run to Shelley "Don't Call me Eric" Duncan) while fanning seven. It was the first run he has allowed in the EL this season; he is now 2-0, 0.30 in 30 innings over. DeSalvo got a no-decision as he allowed one run over six innings while fanning 10 and is now 6-4, 3.03 overall with 105 strikeouts in 101 innings.
• Those in the south were treated to Rome against Columbus on Fox Sports South, and the Columbus 2-3-4 hitters played like they knew they were being watched. Sergio Pedroza (3-for-5 with a homer), Travis Denker (3-for-4 with a walk and a double) and Blake DeWitt (3-for-5 with two doubles) combined to go 9-for-14 in helping lead the Catfish to a 5-4 win over the Braves.
• Another excellent pitching performance came in the Carolina League last night, as three Wilmington Blue Rocks combined on a one-hitter against Kinston in a 6-0 victory. Tommy Hottovy, Felix Romero and Ryan Schroyer combined for eight strikeouts and no walks while facing one over the minimum. Rodney Choy Foo had the K-Tribe’s lone hit, a fourth-inning single off Romero. Hottovy, a 2004 fourth-round pick, threw three perfect innings in his first outing since July 7; he’d been sidelined by stiffness in his left arm. “That’s all he’s going to go,” Wilmington manager Dann Bilardello told the Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal. “He’s not going any further. I don’t care if he’s got a perfect game or whatever.”
• Oakland second baseman Kevin Melillo’s California League stint lasted just 22 games, as the A’s promoted the 2004 fifth-round pick to Double-A Midland following Thursday night’s 6-0 win over San Jose. Melillo, who hit .286-8-36 for low Class A Kane County, hit a whopping .400-9-23 in just 90 at-bats for the Ports.
• Dodgers lefthander Chuck Tiffany can use the excuse of a strong wind blowing out, but it was still a miserable night for him as high Class A Vero Beach got rocked by Lakeland 13-7. Tiffany faced 17 batters in just 2 1/3 innings of work, allowing seven runs on nine hits, five of which left the yard, including a pair off the bats of third baseman Kody Kirkland.
• A pair of 2005 draftees delivered scoreless outings in the low Class A Midwest League on Thursday. Twins first-round pick Matt Garza went six scoreless innings in Beloit’s 2-0 win over South Bend, while Padres supplemental first-round pick Cesar Ramos, who had a 6.53 ERA in six Northwest League appearances, picked up his first pro win in his Midwest League debut, firing seven shutout innings in Fort Wayne’s 2-0 win over Cedar Rapids.
• Dodgers prospect Ivan De Jesus continued his hot hitting in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League yesterday going 2-for-3 against the Marlins. The organization's second selection in the 2005 draft, De Jesus struggled with his transition to pro ball at first but found his groove, raising his batting average from .222 on July 5 to its current clip of .344. He did commit his eighth error last night, second-most among GCL shortstops.
• Righthander Nick Webber keeps rolling in the short-season New York-Penn League. The Cardinals’ second-round pick struck out 10 in seven innings Thursday to improve to 4-1, 1.76 with a victory against Aberdeen. Webber has moved from closer at Division II Central Missouri State to pro starter with nary a hiccup. He’s given up one run and four hits over 14 innings in his last two starts.
• The Nationals made Clint Everts an Expo again, promoting their 2002 first-round pick and Tommy John surgery alumnus to short-season Vermont. Everts struck out five and walked two in 2 2/3 innings against Lowell but also gave up four hits and a run. He went 0-1, 3.38 in the GCL with eight walks and 15 strikeouts in his first 16 innings.
• So far, so good for Seattle’s Jeff Clement, who was the third overall pick six weeks ago and is the highest drafted player signed. In his first two games for short-season Everett, Clement is 3-for-7 with three runs scored.
• Short-season Tri City's Shane Lindsay was not his dominant self against Everett yesterday. Lindsay was chased after the third inning after giving up three hits, two runs (one earned) and walking four batters. Despite the control issues, the Aussie continued his stranglehold on the Northwest League strikeout title, punching out five AquaSox. This marked the third straight start where Lindsay has struggled as he has allowed six earned runs in nine innings during that span.