In Northborough, The House That Stu Built
It was built to house a youth baseball development program. Instead, it might have saved college baseball in New England this year. The $9 million New England Baseball Complex, built […]
Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive
Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
While he doesn't necessarily like pitchers, Triple-A Durham outfielder Delmon Young certainly likes talking about his impressions of them.
Now on the cusp of the major leagues, Young can break down almost any arm he's seen--and most he's had at least moderate success against. But the 19-year-old will be the last one to say how well he fared against anyone, simply because he doesn't want to give them any added incentive down the road.
"There's a lot of good talent, and I'm not going to say anything that will come back to haunt me," Young said. "The thing that sucks is we have two leagues (in Triple-A) and everyone's spread out, so you never get to see anybody. I want to face the best guys every night because that's the only way I'm going to get better. It's a bigger challenge.
"But I'm glad I didn't have to see (Pirates lefthander) Zach Duke here, just from hearing about him. I'm glad I didn't get to see half the pitchers in this league that went up before I got here. And I'm glad we got (lefthander Scott) Kazmir in that trade. Hopefully I won't ever have to face him."
The media requests are coming fast and furious for the Devil Rays' No. 1 prospect these days, and we recently caught up with the cerebral teenager to talk about some of the better pitchers he's faced this season at Double-A Montgomery and Durham--right after he finished talking to the New York Times.
On Dodgers righthander Chad Billingsley, who gave up 19 earned runs and 23 hits (five home runs) in 10 2/3 innings over three starts against Montgomery:
"We played together for Team USA (junior national team, 2002). He's a good competitor--he always goes out there to compete and never gives up no matter what's happening. He's got a good fastball, good curveball and great command. He just had trouble throwing against the Biscuits earlier this year, that's all. No, but seriously, he's dominating that league and should be in Triple-A by now."
On Marlins lefthander Scott Olsen, who beat the Biscuits twice early in the year:
"I only faced him once (May 6) and it was about 40 degrees out, so that wasn't fair."
On Braves lefthander Chuck James:
"I don't want to face that guy no more. It's that changeup. He threw me a 2-0 changeup and I thought I broke my bat on my back. I don't want to face that guy anymore. I'm glad he's in the National League and thank God he's not in Richmond right now."
On White Sox righthander Bobby Jenks:
"I don't want to face him anymore either. He throws too hard with that curveball around 87 (mph). And he's always accurate."
On Dodgers righthander Jonathan Broxton:
"I faced him one day where he was just carving us up and he didn't have his velocity for some reason. And then I faced him the next time with the velocity way back and he was just shoving the ball--shoving it. It wasn't very much fun."
On White Sox righthander Sean Tracey:
"He's a competitor. He made me look like a fool the last time I faced him. He kept mixing it up in and out, changing speeds and it looked exactly the same out of his hand every time."
On Diamondbacks righthander Dustin Nippert:
"That ball comes straight downhill. What is he, 6-foot-9? 93-94? He's got some good stuff. And especially with that height advantage to him, it was hard to hit him. The ball just explodes into the plate. And it's always in on your hands. He's got no problem coming inside."
On Marlins righthander Josh Johnson:
"That's another 6-foot-9 guy (theyre both actually 6-foot-7) that's throwing cheese. I think I had the hat trick on him, so I guess that tells you something."
On Twins righthander Boof Bonser:
"I didn't know he threw that hard and it sure didn't look like he was throwing that hard when I faced him here. And then he had that Nintendo curveball going along with it. I see why he leads the league in strikeouts."
On Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano:
"I faced him in Rochester. I didn't hit a ball out of the infield against him. He was throwing hard--like 97. Very hard with good deception from the left side. You hardly ever see a lefty bringing it that hard. It's rare. Thank God.
On Rockies righthander Juan Morillo:
"Once he starts mastering that inner part of the plate, no one's going to go stand in that batter's box against him. He throws too hard and it's cutting--a natural cut. If he masters that inner half, it's all over."
BA: Anyone we missed?
"Oh, yeah. Your boys from the Braves? (Kyle) Davies and (Anthony) Lerew? Those guys are electric. Baseball America loves the Braves. And you can see why. They do everything the right way, from the front office all the way down. And those guys were straight shoving against us."
BA: Yeah, Davies' changeup is . . .
"I didn't even get to see his changeup! I saw a cutter or . . . I don't know . . . some type of fastball that was running and then that slider. And then Lerew came in and I had never seen him throw that hard. I saw him in the Futures Game topping out at 94 (mph) and now he's sitting at 90-93 most of the time and then he'll pump it up to 97, 98 and he's got that hard slider working for him. Those guys are flat out ridiculous.
BA: If you could sit down with three big leaguers--former or current--and pick their brains, who would they be?
"Well, you know it's got to be position players. I'm not trying to sit down with a bunch of pitchers. Those guys don't like position players very much. I'm going with Barry Bonds, Vladimir Guerrero and Hank Aaron. I want guys who hit the long ball and bat .300. Those are the guys to look up to."
Mariners righthander Felix Hernandez will make his major league debut tonight in Detroit. The 19-year-old was shut down briefly in July with mild bursitis in his shoulder but is healthy again. "As far as we all know, he's not complaining about anything, health-wise," Triple-A Tacoma pitching coach Rafael Chaves told the Seattle Times. "He's not said anything but good things about his arm. The other day after he pitched, he told me, 'I feel young again.' But he's only 19, so I don't know what that means." Hernandez, whose fastball tops out at 97 mph and is complemented with a hard-biting curveball and a hard slider that he has unveiled this year, went 9-4, 2.25 with 100 strikeouts in 88 innings at Tacoma this season. "Felix is Felix," Rainiers catcher Ryan Christianson said. "When he's good he's good, and when he's bad, he's good."
Triple-A Durham shortstop B.J. Upton was voted the most exciting player in the International League for a second straight season, but he is still struggling with his defense. Upton led off last night's 9-4 loss to Norfolk with a triple and hit a home run in his final at-bat, but committed errors No. 39 and 40. "He can do it all," Triple-A Syracuse manager Marty Pevey said. "He'll steal a base when you need it, he goes from first to third with no problem and he can drive the ball to the opposite-field as good as anyone.
"He just uses his hands so effortlessly and stays on the ball a long time through the zone. He needs to improve defensively with his accuracy and his body control, but everyone questions anybody who ever played shortstop and whether they'd be able to stay there. He'll be fine."
Orioles outfielder Jeff Fiorentino went ballistic in high Class A Frederick's 10-2 win against Wilmington Wednesday night. The 2004 third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic went 3-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs. Fiorentino slumped through an awful two months after returning from a month-long big league stint in May. He batted just .208 in July, but is off to a hot start in August, hitting .429.
White Sox lefthander Ray Liotta has been impressive in two starts in high Class A after being promoted from low Class A Kannapolis. Wednesday, the second-round pick in 2004 out of Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College allowed a run on nine hits, struck out six and walked two over 6 2/3 innings in Winston-Salem's 4-2 win over Salem. Astros lefthander Troy Patton took the loss, allowing only a run on two hits. He struck out six and walked one over five innings.
Two 2004 first-rounders blew up last night as Hickory defeated Lakewood 11-9. Hickory catcher Neil Walker (ninth overall by the Pirates) was 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs in helping lead the Crawdads to the win. Lakewood center fielder Greg Golson (21st overall by the Phillies) was also 3-for-5 with his third home run of the season. On the year, Walker is hitting .282/.313/.434 with 11 homers and Golson is .281/.353/.405.
Signed as a 17-year-old in 2002, Maximiliano Ramirez is now in his third year of pro ball for the Braves. The catcher was a combined .289/.362/.486 in his first two Rookie-level seasons between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. Now in the Appalachian League, he is raking in the Danville. The 20-year-old catcher was 3-for-4 with his sixth homer last night and is hitting .382/.435/.579 in 152 at-bats, leading the league in batting. As if the Braves needed another catching prospect.
Angels first baseman Kendry Morales is finding his power stroke at Double-A Arkansas. The 22-year-old Cuban homered in his fourth straight game Wednesday, but it wasn't enough as the Travelers lost to Springfield 12-6. In 164 at-bats since a promotion from the California League, Morales is batting .256/.307/.463 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.
Mariners shortstop Michael Garciaparra was a surprise first-round pick in 2001, but was nothing but a disappointment in his first three seasons, batting .242/.332/.314 in 250 pro games. The younger brother of Nomar may be shedding his 'bust' label at high Class A Inland Empire, however. The 22-year-old second baseman had a career night on Wednesday, going 5-for-6 with two doubles, two home runs and six RBIs in the 66ers' 18-2 romp over Lancaster, after going 4-for-5 with four runs scored on the night before. In 219 at-bats this year, Garciaparra is batting .292/.305/.406.
Tigers outfielder Jeff Frazier continues to swing a hot bat for West Michigan in the low Class A Midwest League. The 2004 third-round pick out of Rutgers homered in his third consecutive game Wednesday as the Whitecaps topped Beloit 8-6. Frazier, who is batting .282/.352/.438 in 418 at-bats, has hit .364 in 32 games since July 1.
Devil Rays first-round pick Wade Townsend has been a little rusty while pitching at short-season Hudson Valley. Townsend, who failed to signed with the Orioles after being selected eighth overall in 2004, walked eight batters in just 2 1/3 innings last night in the renegades 5-3 loss to Oneonta on Wednesday. The former Rice star has a 2.89 ERA in six games as a pro, allowing just six hits in 9 1/3 innings, but walking 13 batters while striking out eight.
The Dodgers already are loaded at third base with Andy LaRoche at Double-A Jacksonville and 2004 first-round pick Blake DeWitt at low Class A Columbus. Now 20-year-old Russ Mitchell, in his third pro season, is starting to hit as well at Rookie-level Ogden. Mitchell has had stints with both the Suns and the Catfish this season before getting regular playing time for Ogden, where he hit his 12th home run yesterday to tie for the Pioneer League lead. Mitchell's three RBIs gave him 47, good for second in the league, and helped Ogden beat Idaho Falls 7-4.
Contributing: John Manuel.