2014 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects: The 25th Edition
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Daily Dish Archive: July
Some baseball insiders suggest Jon-Mark Sprowl, who was essentially a throw-in to the Raul Mondesi deal, might be the long-term key to the deal.
The Yankees pro scouting staff identified Sprowl as a potential target early in the season, impressed with Sprowl's disciplined approach and work ethic. Sprowl has generated some comparisons to Bill Mueller, and one source called him a "sleeper prospect who has similar numbers, but less hype than (Athletics catcher) Jeremy Brown."
Sprowl has a good short stroke from the left side that has allowed him to hit .296-4-42 through 296 Midwest League at-bats, but they are more impressed by his 54-31 walk-strikeout ratio. Sprowl is a work in progress behind the plate, but is more likely to move to third base, first base or the outfield.
Mondesi, who has been ripped for his attitude by Yankees players since the deal, had been one of the least productive outfielders in the American League since April. His average, on-base and slugging have declined in each month. Since hitting .354/.420/.697 in April, Mondesi had hit just .191/.264/.362 in July. Of course, the Yankees also added a dependable reserve outfielder in David Dellucci, who is likely to be non-tendered following the season, and depth to the bullpen with righthander Bret Prinz.DISH PIECES
On the topic of sleepers acquired in July trades: the Pirates picked up a potential leadoff hitting centerfielder in Rich Thompson from the Blue Jays for journeyman righthander John Wasdin. (The trade was not detailed in Trade Central because neither player was on a major league roster or ranked in the Prospect Handbook). Thompson, drafted in the sixth round out of James Madison in 2000, hit .280-2-44 with 45 steals last year in Double-A, and was hitting .306-0-16 between Double-A New Haven and Triple-A Syracuse before he was dealt this season. Thompson, described as a "slashing-type hitter" by one scout, is hitting .340 with 11 steals in his first 50 at-bats for the Pirates at Triple-A Nashville. He was considered the fastest player the Blue Jays produced since Junior Felix, and scouts believe Thompson has improved his defense to the point where he's regarded as a plus defender in center field.
The Dodgers promoted lefthander Greg Miller, 18, to Double-A Jacksonville, where he'll take over teammate Edwin Jackson's title as the youngest player in Double-A. Miller, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 95 to go with a hammer curveball, quietly has emerged as one of the top lefthanded pitching prospects in the minors. Miller, drafted 31st overall last June, was 11-4, 2.53 for Class A Vero Beach. He had 109 strikeouts in 114 innings, while giving up 103 hits and 41 walks.
Righthander Chris Resop, recently converted to pitching from the outfield after hitting .196 for low Class A Greensboro, touched 94 mph last night. Resop was drafted by the Marlins in the fourth round out of a Florida high school in 2001. His .194 career average prompted the move to the mound, where he also had attracted attention from scouts as an amateur.
By Josh Boyd
Heading into the 2003 season, Joey Gathright was known more for his top-of-the-line speed and for being able to leap over a car than for his hitting ability. But the 21-year-old, who was ranked as the No. 29 prospect in the Devil Rays system after hitting .264-0-14 for low Class A Charleston last year, has made significant progress with his hitting approach.
He hit .324 for high Class A Bakersfield and earned a recent promotion to Double-A Orlando. He still hasn't shown any power, hitting six doubles and three triples, and his first four hits in Orlando have been singles. At 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, his game is built around speed and getting on base, another area in which he has shown improvement.
California League managers selected Gathright as the hitter with the best strike-zone judgment in the loop. He drew 41 walks and posted a .407 on-base percentage for Bakersfield. The more he gets on, the more he can utilize his 80 speed, which has helped him swipe 57 bags in 70 attempts this year.
He has a short, quick line-drive stroke from the left side, but he is also an effective bunter and can get down the line in less than 3.9 on bunts.
Blue Jays 2003 ninth-rounder Jamie Vermilyea was promoted to high Class A Dunedin from short-season Auburn after going 5-1, 2.37. The University of New Mexico product commands a five-pitch repertoire, consisting of a solid-average fastball that tops out at 93, splitter and slider. He also mixes in a curve and change on occasion, but he's been working primarily out of the pen. Vermilyea has an eye-catching 58-5 strikeout-walk ratio in 33 innings.
There's been no sign of injury, but Reds righthander Bobby Basham hasn't felt right on the mound all season. He was rated the No. 2 prospect in the Reds Top 10 after a breakout 6-4, 1.64 season in 2002, but was demoted from Double-A Chattanooga after going 5-10, 5.17 this season. He was hammered for 133 hits in 94 innings.
After trading Doug Glanville to the Cubs today, the Rangers called up Ramon Nivar to fill the empty roster spot. The former Ramon Martinez has enjoyed a breakout season in 2003, batting a combined .345-6-49 in 102 games between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma, with just 28 strikeouts in 406 at-bats. Originally in infielder, Nivar was converted to centerfield just six weeks ago.
ZEUBULON, N.C.--Word is spreading quickly in the scouting community.
Edwin Jackson is establishing himself as one of the top 10 prospects in baseball. The news is traveling into front offices too, but the Dodgers refuse to even discuss dealing the 19-year-old phenom.
Jackson's 5-6, 3.46 record for Double-A Jacksonville is deceptive. In his last three starts, he's allowed 10 hits and three runs in 20 innings, but has just one win to show for it. And it's easy to forget that he's the youngest hurler in Double-A.
Jackson, who skipped high Class A Vero Beach after going 5-2, 1.98 in low Class A South Georgia last season, dominated Carolina for seven innings on Saturday night.
He threw first pitch strikes to the first six hitters, setting them all down in order. Jackson topped out at 97 mph, and pitched between 91-96 mph all night. He was still pumping 96 mph heat in the seventh when he punched out the side in order.
A premium athlete who split his first year in the Dodgers organization between the outfield and the mound, Jackson has a minimal-effort, textbook delivery with a smooth arm action. The ball comes out of his hand easy, with his four-seamer exploding at the plate. Already armed with well above-average velocity and solid-average command, Jackson overpowers opponents with a complete three-pitch repertoire including a power slider and changeup.
In the sixth inning, Jackson fanned Carolina leadoff man Billy Hall with a 78 mph changeup, got second baseman Jesus Medrano on a comebacker and blew away Drew Niles with 96 mph gas. In the seventh, Jackson threw his best sliders of the game.
He rang up cleanup hitter Matt Padgett for the third straight time with four hard breaking sliders, then started off center fielder Chris Aguila with a slider for a strike and stayed ahead with a couple of 95 mph fastballs and put him away with an 84 mph slideball. To complete the trio, and register his eighth strikeout of the game, Jackson got ahead of shortstop Josh Wilson with a pair of nasty sliders, touched 96 one last time to show he had plenty of gas left in the tank, mixed in a changeup and then dropped an 86 mph hard-biting slider in for a swing-and-miss third strike.
In his 87-pitch effort, Jackson allowed three hits and no walks.
He has fanned 120 in 117 innings, while walking 42.
Red Sox third base prospect Kevin Youkilis could accomplish no more in Double-A and was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket following Portland's doubleheader yesterday. Youkilis, 24, reached base by hit or walk in 62 straight games and leads the minors with a .487 on-base percentage and 86 walks. He drew 93 walks last season, getting on base at a .457 clip.
Rangers Double-A lefty C.J. Wilson landed on the disabled list with elbow pain. He's 6-9, 5.05 for Frisco, but wasn't effective in his last two starts, lasting just four innings in each game.
Marlins low Class A righthander Yorman Bazardo was consistently clocked between 92-94 mph, topping out at 95-96 mph on Friday night, though he was outdueled by Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels. Bazardo keeps his fastball down in the zone effectively, though he doesn't generate a lot of movement on the pitch. Many of the Lakewood hitters were able to get good swings and make solid contact against his best fastballs, and he's only fanned 53 in 85 innings. Bazardo occasionally gets around his curveball causing it to lack bite, but the pitch is much improved this year. His changeup is also an effective weapon. Bazardo allowed one unearned run, while striking out six in six innings. He gave up four hits and has surrendered a .239 average.
Reds 2003 second-rounder Thomas Pauly returned to the mound for low Class A Dayton after a brief stint on the DL with a blister. He already has six pro starts under his belt, and was clocked between 92-94 mph with an 82-84 mph slider before the minor setback. In 22 innings, the Princeton product has given up 13 hits and eight walks. He has struck out 16.
Marlins Double-A righthander Trevor Hutchinson will come off the DL and start against Braves prospect Adam Wainwright on Thursday. Hutchinson missed two starts due to an infection from a bee sting.
Daily short-season prospect watch: The Expos aren't concerned about righthander Clint Everts' slow start for short-season Vermont. His fastball is registering 91-94 mph readings, but Expos officials are claiming New York-Penn League umpires aren't calling Everts' power breaking ball for strikes because they can't follow it. His curveball was considered the best breaking ball in last year's draft class. Montreal selected him with the fourth-overall pick last year.
Radar gun readings are courtesy of the Stalker Sport
GREENSBORO, N.C.--Two and a half months after making his pro debut, Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels was promoted from low Class A Lakewood to high Class A Clearwater after completely overmatching the South Atlantic League.
On Friday night, Hamels delivered six shutout innings for the third straight appearance, and for the fifth time in his 13 starts he left his start after surrendering just one hit.
Hamels is capable of pitching with plus velocity, but he sits in the 88-90 mph range and reaches back to get 92-94 when he's ahead in the count. But it's his changeup that sets up the rest of his arsenal.
Hamels keeps hitters off balance with a devastating 78-81 mph plus-plus changeup that drops off the table. He sells it with flawless mechanics and maintains the same arm action from his fastball. Greensboro hitters swung and missed at nearly every changeup Hamels threw.
"He's very polished," an NL scout said. "He's in the same class as (Zack) Greinke. He has an average fastball with plus command and a bastard changeup that he throws whenever. And I like his curveball. I think that it is at least average and will be plus in the future.
"He is a top of the rotation guy, a one or two. To complete the picture, he is almost mechanically perfect."
Hamels fanned nine and walked three against Greensboro on Friday. He leaves behind a minor league-low .136 average against in the Sally League.
The Rangers moved fast-rising righthander Jose Dominguez to Triple-A for a weekend start. He went 9-0, 2.77 in 113 innings between Class A Stockton and Double-A Frisco. In his first start for Triple-A Oklahoma, Dominguez didn't win, but tossed seven solid innings, allowing four hits and no walks.
Devil Rays 13th-rounder Chad Orvella's debut season is being interrupted by minor knee surgery to repair a damaged meniscus in his left knee. The former North Carolina State shortstop has yet to allow a run in 12 innings for short-season Hudson Valley. He was hitting the mid-90s consistently, and had 15 strikeouts while walking just one. He is expected to recover before the end of the season.
Marlins righthander Denny Bautista is expected to miss one start for Double-A Carolina with a mild strain to his left oblique muscle. The hard-throwing Bautista is 4-1, 3.09 since a promotion from high Class A Jupiter, where he went 8-4, 3.21. In all, he has 117 strikeouts in 119 innings.
The Red Sox released righthander Mike Nicolas, who they acquired earlier in the season from the Brewers for lefthander Brian Adams. The Brewers had claimed Nicolas on waivers from the Padres the same day of the trade. Nicolas was 4-2, 6.06 for Double-A Portland before getting his release.
The Angels surprised some people when they drafted Dallas McPherson in the second round in the 2001 draft. They not only had him graded out as a potential first-round pick, they were on him because of his bat, not his powerful right arm.
McPherson flashed mid-90s velocity in the Cape Cod League, which led many scouts to follow his mound appearances the following spring at The Citadel. Angels scout Mark Russo, however, was on him for his lefthanded power potential, and when McPherson struggled on the mound out of the pen, Russo and the Angels were one of the few teams who stuck around to scout the bat.
Their persistence paid off. "He's a first-division power bat," one scout said. "He's in attack mode (at the plate). He has loft and thump. The ball gets off the bat with quickness."
McPherson is some kind of hot right now for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He has hit eight home runs during a current 11-game hit streak, that also includes 10 multi-hit efforts. His average has soared to .320 by hitting .419 in July. McPherson is hitting .320-18-58 with 21 doubles and 12 steals in 275 at-bats after starting the year on the disabled list with a back injury.
Rockies rising prospect Jeff Salazar hit his 20th home run of the season for low Class A Asheville yesterday. Salazar, who hit .235-4-21 last year in short-season Tri-City, also swiped his 22nd base of the year. He was drafted in the eighth round out of Oklahoma State in 2002. In his three-year collegiate career, (he spent the first two at Connors State), Salazar hit 21 home runs. He is considered a well above-average defensive center fielder with a strong arm.
Astros righthander Robert Stiehl is slated to make his first start since July 2001 tonight. The Astros 2000 first-round pick has logged 61 innings as a pro thanks to arm troubles including Tommy John surgery. Stiehl, 22, was rated the organization's No. 5 prospect after his debut 2000 season. When healthy, he shows an explosive 93-97 mph fastball. He'll toe the rubber for short-season Tri-City.
Marlins low Class A righthander Josh Johnson improved to 4-4, 3.78 by tossing one-hit ball over six shutout innings against Lakewood. A fourth-rounder in 2002, Johnson works with a 90-91 mph fastball, plus curveball and good changeup. When he's not facing Lexington, Johnson is 4-0, 0.68, but in four starts against Lexington he's 0-4, 12.91.
When the Padres learned that Pedro de los Santos, was actually Freddy Guzman and was three years older than originally thought, his prospect status suffered a big blow.
Guzman hit .259-1-32 between three levels last season, and dropped to No. 24 on the Padres top 30 prospect list. In the 2003 Prospect Handbook, it said "The Padres felt Guzman had impact potential before they learned his true age, and now he's going to have to sink or swim in high Class A in 2003."
Guzman, who turns 23 on August 8, hit .285-2-35 with 49 steals for high Class A Lake Elsinore and swam his way to a Double-A Mobile promotion. He's continued to stay afloat by hitting .339 with eight more steals in 56 Double-A at-bats.
Guzman's game is predicated around his top-of-the-scale speed, which one Padres scout described as "Rafael Furcal-like explosiveness." He swiped 69 bases in 2002, and leads the minors with 58 this season.
The Padres shifted the switch-hitter from second base to center field on a full-time basis last season and he's been able to put his speed to good use in the center field.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Guzman doesn't project to hit for much power, but he does a fine job of getting on base, drawing 46 walks this season, much improved from last year's 33 walks and .324 on-base percentage. The Padres project him as their center fielder of the future.
The Brewers promoted Brad Nelson, No. 2 on the Scouting Department's first base rankings, to Double-A Huntsville after he hit .311-1-18 at Class A High Desert. He broke the hamate bone in his right wrist earlier this season causing him to miss two months, and it's sapped his ability to drive the ball. The Brewers now boast one of the most impressive prospect lineups in the minors with Nelson joining shortstop J.J. Hardy, third baseman Corey Hart and outfielder Dave Krynzel. The pitching staff, which featured four of the system's best arms in Mike Jones, Ben Hendrickson, Luis Martinez and the injured Ben Diggins, lost Martinez to a Triple-A promotion. Martinez revitalized his career after going 8-8, 5.20 in Huntsville last year. He refined his delivery and improved his command, fanning 116 in 115 innings this time through the Southern League.
Giants low Class A righthander Matt Cain has been out of action since his last start on June 22 because of a stress fracture in his right elbow. The Giants are optimistic they can get Cain back on the mound before the end of the year. He was 4-4, 2.55 with 90 strikeouts in 74 innings. Opponents are hitting just .209 against him.
Expos 1999 first-rounder Josh Girdley suffered another major setback in his injury-plagued career. Girdley, 2-5, 4.76 for low Class A Savannah, will have Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his damaged left elbow ligament. Girdley, 22, has never pitched more than 79 innings in a season. He missed most of 2001-2002 due to shoulder problems relating to a motorcycle accident following the 2000 season.
Bobby Jenks does it on a frequent basis. Colt Griffin became the only documented high school pitcher to do it. Yhency Brazoban did it earlier this season. Another half dozen prospects or so sniff it on a regular basis, but hitting 100 mph is still an accomplishment that gets baseball people excited.
One scout said: "I will say that I have seen (Mike) MacDougal, I have seen (Robb) Nen when healthy, I have seen (Rich) Harden at his best, I have seen the hard throwers, and I have to be honest with you ... my gun has yet to say 100. I have had some 99s and several 98s, but my gun has never said 100. So, I would say it is quite special."
Braves low Class A righthander Jose Capellan, who has touched 99 mph this year, joined the exclusive group by reaching triple digits in his last start for Rome.
"I feel real confident right now," Capellan said through a translator. "I don't feel like I am trying to force the ball very much."
The 22-year-old Dominican, who missed time this season with a sore arm, says he's not 100 percent yet and believes he can throw harder.
"If in a year, my arm feels good, I think I can throw harder than 100," Capellan said.
His fastball was clocked between 96-100 mph, while his sinker was hitting 93-95 mph. He's showing improved command of his fastball and has recently added a changeup to round out his arsenal.
Capellan, who had Tommy John surgery two years ago, is 1-2, 3.45 with 23 strikeouts in 31 innings for Rome. He might join high Class A Myrtle Beach before the end of the season.
The Rockies promoted both of their Futures Game representatives to the big leagues this week. Outfielder Rene Reyes was moved up for his major league debut when Denny Neagle was placed on the disabled list yesterday. Reyes, who went 1-for-4 against the Dodgers last night, was hitting .343-6-50 for Triple-A Colorado Springs. Righthander Chin-Hui Tsao is scheduled to start on Friday after going 11-4, 2.46 in Double-A Tulsa. Tsao, 22, rang up 125 strikeouts in 113 innings.
Angels top prospect Casey Kotchman played his first game since May 17 after rehabbing a torn hamstring. Kotchman was hitting .330-4-14 with 16 walks and eight strikeouts in 100 at-bats for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
For the third consecutive start, Marlins low Class A southpaw Scott Olsen hurled six shutout innings. Olsen, 19, lowered his ERA to 3.26 with a no decision last night for Greensboro. His fastball has consistently been clocked at 89-94 mph this year and his season really took off for him when he scrapped his curveball and went back to the nasty slider he used in high school. Olsen has allowed 75 hits in 88 innings.
KINSTON, N.C.--For as good as the rebuilding of the organization appears to be going at the major league level, the Indians received some bad news on Sunday: righthander J.D. Martin will be shelved for the remainder of the season.
Martin, the Tribes supplemental first rounder (35th overall) in 2001, has an elbow strain. While the injury will not require surgery, he understandably was disappointed.
"It's tough right now," said Martin, sitting in the bullpen at Class A Kinston. "I've never been hurt before. It's just something I'm going to have to deal with and eventually work to make (the elbow) stronger. The important thing now is that I trust the trainers, do everything they tell me to do so I can come back at full strength next season."
What makes Martin's plight all the more frustrating is that he had been throwing well recently. In his last two starts, the 20-year old was 2-0, 1.84. Overall, he finishes the 2003 campaign with the K-Tribe 5-3, 4.27.
"That's probably the worst thing about all of this," Martin said. "I was really beginning to feel comfortable out there, more so than the rest of the season. I had an idea of what hitters can do at this level. I'd never felt more confident than I had over the past couple of weeks, but I just have to accept what's happened, deal with it and get back to where I was."
KINSTON, N.C.--After a Carolina League debut like the Frederick's John Maine, youd think everything else at this point would be classified as a disappointment.
"You can't look at it that way," said Maine, who tossed a no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against high Class A Winston-Salem after being called up from low Class A Delmarva where he was 7-3, 1.53. "If I looked at it that way, I'd probably get lit up every night."
While Maine hasn't exactly gotten raked over the coals every night since then, Winston-Salem certainly gave him a rude awakening in his very next start, touching the Orioles rising prospect for four runs on seven hits over just four innings.
"He's had one good outing for us and that was the no-hitter, Frederick manager Tom Lawless said. "He just thought he could do the same things against (Winston-Salem) the second time around. Of course, they made adjustments to him. You just can't expect to be successful in this league, but hes a smart kid. That's why he's at this level. He'll learn."
Maine has apparently learned his lesson. The righty allowed two unearned runs on four hits in six innings last Friday against Kinston. He fanned six and walked one.
"I was a little shaky early on," said Maine, following his first start since appearing in the Futures Game. "Then I just kind of settled in, had a good idea about what to do and executed. It's going to take some time. Not everybody throws a no-hitter in their entire career. I was fortunate enough to do that the first night I got here. Now it's just a matter of focusing on getting better."
Scott Kazmir earned a promotion from low Class A Capital City to high Class A St. Lucie. He was 4-4, 2.36 with 105 strikeouts in 76 innings while limiting hitters to a .185 average. His fastball has topped out at 97 mph this year.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Tony Giarratano is hitting .500 in 40 at-bats for short-season Oneonta. Drafted by the Tigers in the third round out of Tulane, Giarratano was considered a late first- to second-round talent by some teams. "A lot of people didn't think he would hit," one scouting director said of the sophomore-eligible shortstop. "He's not going to be a great hitter, but he could be like a Walt Weiss." Giarratano has a plus-plus arm and great hands. "He can really pick it."
A day after the heralded debut of A's phenom Rich Harden, righthander Sergio Mitre will make his first major league start for the Cubs today. Just 6-7, 3.79 in 18 starts for Double-A West Tenn, Mitre is 2-2, 1.26 in his last five starts. He fanned 40 in 36 innings while allowing just 23 hits. On the season, the 22-year-old has given up 122 hits in 109 innings. Mitre gets his fastball into the 93 mph range.
White Sox lefty Corwin Malone, one of the eight prospects the Rangers are going to pick from on Friday to complete the Carl Everett trade, made his third rehab start for Rookie-level Bristol last Friday. Malone, recovering from elbow and shoulder injuries, was clocked between 84-88 mph. In 10 innings for Bristol, he's allowed 11 hits and three walks.
Marlins Double-A righthander Trevor Hutchinson is expected to be sidelined for a week to 10 days due to an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Hutchinson is 11-2, 2.56 between Class A Jupiter and Carolina in his first professional season.
As was reported on BaseballAmerica.com last week, Sergio Santos has been promoted from high Class A Lancaster to Double-A El Paso less than three weeks after turning 20. He hit .287-8-49 with 41 walks and 64 strikeouts in the Cal League. A year ago, Santos' draft stock suffered when scouts questioned his offensive potential during a sub-par senior season at Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) High. He went 27th overall to the Diamondbacks and debuted in Rookie-level Missoula last year.
Rookie-level GCL game to watch today: Pirates righty Wardell Starling matches up with Yankees righthander Brandon Weeden. Starling, signed as a draft-and-follow for $500,000 prior to the 2003 draft, has 21 strikeouts in 20 innings. Weeden, drafted in the second round in 2002, has surrendered seven hits in 16 innings.
The Orioles designated shortstop Ed Rogers for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster. Baltimore has 10 days to trade, release or outright him. He must clear waivers (where any team can claim him) before being outrighted. If Rogers isn't traded or claimed, he'll remain on the roster at Double-A Bowie, where he's hitting .203-2-17 in 227 at-bats. Rogers, 24, rose to No. 3 on the Orioles Top 10 prospects list before the 2001 season.
Reds righthander Ryan Wagner became the first player from the 2003 draft to reach the majors, when he was called up on July 19, just 35 days after signing. In fact, Wagner nearly beat the first 2002 draftee to the majors, but Giants righthander Kevin Correia was promoted from Double-A on July 11. In nine innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, Wagner allowed seven hits and two walks. He struck out 10.
Wagner, who set the Division I K/9 IP record by fanning 148 in 79 innings, fired 1 2/3 hitless innings in his major league debut. His fastball was clocked between 90-94 mph with above-average two-seam movement, and his slider is a true knockout pitch.
"His slider is vicious and his fastball usually has pretty good sink," one Reds official said after Wagner's debut.
Drafted with the 14th overall pick out of Houston, Wagner will serve as Scott Williamson's setup man but the Reds are already talking about converting the 21-year-old Wagner to the starting rotation next spring.
A draft-eligible sophomore, he made all 63 appearances in college out of the pen, but was accustomed to working longer stints in relief. He relied heavily upon his slider, a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, but the movement alone on his fastball serves as a second plus pitch, and he wasn't forced to use a third. Most scouts projected him as a dominant back of the bullpen power reliever.
Indians cautious with first-rounder
BURLINGTON, N.C.--The Indians are taking it extra slow with their first-year righthander Adam Miller, drafted 31st overall in June. After his second pro start, he was shut down for two weeks with some elbow soreness. Since kicking it up again last week, he's been limited to two-inning stints for Rookie-level Burlington.
"We're just easing him back in," Indians farm director Ross Atkins said. "It's more of our organization pitching program than it is about Adam Miller."
Miller doesn't appear to be a pitcher easing into anything, though. He was throwing 90-94 with life on his fastball last night against Johnson City. After giving up singles to the first two hitters, Miller retired six straight hitters using his complete four-pitch arsenal. He showed good power to his 82-84 mph slider and a fastball arm action to his changeup.
Another Tribe righthander J.D. Martin is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to an elbow injury. He was 5-3, 4.27 with 95 hits allowed in 86 innings for Class A Kinston. He walked 30 and fanned 57.
Rockies third baseman Jeff Baker, who had surgery on his wrist this spring, was placed on the disabled list and could be shelved for the rest of the year. Baker was hitting .289-6-36 for low Class A Asheville. The Rockies also had their doctors examining the ailing left arm of Zach Parker, who is 5-5, 3.69 for high Class A Visalia. Double-A outfielder Brad Hawpe, hitting .282-16-64 for Tulsa, is sidelined with a separated shoulder.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins have not finalized their deal with first-rounder Matt Moses because a physical discovered a heart condition. Moses was set to sign a $1.45 million contract.
"The contract is contingent on him checking out as healthy," Twins GM Terry Ryan told the Star-Tribune. "There was a problem with his EKG when he was going through his post-draft physical. We want to make sure everything checks out OK."
Moses is seeing a specialist to find out more about the problem. Ryan told the Star-Tribune that he expected Moses to be signed shortly.
Having two affiliates at the same level typically creates problems for organizations that are faced with a quandary over where to place their prospects. When the Astros had two clubs at the low Class A level, their prospects were forced to make a two-level jump to Double-A, which was often too much, which often interfered with the normal progression of a prospect's development. But for the A's, who had two teams in the high Class A California League, the system fit perfectly with their drafting philosophy which brings in primarily college players ready for that level.
This year, however, the A's lost their second Cal League team and added low Class A Kane County. The only problem this creates is for the opposing teams in the Midwest League, most which are made up of younger, less experienced players. Kane County won the first half title and is 54-38.
Kane County's average age on its Opening Day roster was just over 22 years old, the highest in the league. Righthander Joe Blanton, one of 21 college drafts on the Opening Day roster, is 10th in the league with a 2.48 ERA after finishing a complete-game, five-hit shutout last night.
Blanton, drafted 24th overall out of Kentucky, has consistently been clocked at 91-93 mph this year. He has an amazing 126-18 strikeouts-to-walk ratio in 120 innings, and has surrendered just 95 hits.
His fastball can straighten out, but he has been able to overpower hitters with his fastball and power curve. Despite working with a full-effort delivery, Blanton pounds the strike zone.
While the A's have promoted fellow 2002 draftees Shane Komine (sixth round) and Bill Murphy (third) to Double-A, it's surprising Blanton hasnt at least garnered a trip to high Class A Modesto yet. After last night's performance, he could be on the way.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Mariners righthander Felix Hernandez has consistently been clocked in the upper-90s, topping out at 97-98 mph for short-season Everett. Signed during the offseason, the 17-year-old has overpowered the Northwest League, registering 26 strikeouts in 17 innings. He's 4-0, 0.53 with seven walks and 10 hits allowed.
Cubs 2003 first-rounder Ryan Harvey is rehabbing his knee, which he blew out last winter, and won't play in games until instructional league as per his contract agreement.
The Cubs system might boast the most impressive crop of young pitchers in all of baseball, but they've been dealt several crippling blows over the last two weeks. The latest involves 2002 first-rounder Bobby Brownlie, who will be shut down for the rest of the season. This comes days after top pitching prospect Angel Guzman had surgery to repair a slightly torn labrum.
Brownlie visited Cubs doctors in Chicago after his last start a week ago because of some shoulder pain, according to BA correspondent Sean Kernan.
Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said that the decision to shut Brownlie down for the rest of the season was a precautionary move.
"There's nothing wrong with him," Fleita said. "He's been throwing since October. It's more of a common sense thing."
According to Brownlie's father, Rob, the doctors termed it a tired arm, and said he needed to build up more strength in the shoulder.
Brownlie, who didn't sign until March, was 5-4, 3.00 with 59 strikeouts in 66 innings. The righthander had allowed 48 hits and 24 walks, but he surrendered 15 hits in his last nine innings of work covering his last two starts, prompting the concern and ensuing doctor visit.
The season started inauspiciously for the Cubs system when 2002 supplemental first-rounder Luke Hagerty was forced to have Tommy John surgery. Since, power lefty Andy Sisco, Justin Jones, Aaron Krawiec, Matt Clanton, Felix Sanchez and Guzman have been sidelined with varying degrees of injuries.
Ankiel's Latest Setback
Rick Ankiel has experienced yet another setback on his road back to the big leagues. The lefthander tore an elbow ligament and will miss the rest of the year.
The injury comes as the 23-year-old Ankiel was starting to come around again at Double-A Tennessee. After starting the year in the bullpen, Ankiel moved to the rotation, and his last three starts had been his best of the year.
He tossed 92 pitches while allowing two runs on two hits over six innings against Jacksonville on June 20. He struck out a season-high 12 batters while holding Greenville scoreless on two hits over seven innings June 25. Ankiel next delivered six perfect innings in a seven-inning complete game in the opener of a double-header against Carolina on July 2. He suffered pain in his elbow during that start, and an MRI Wednesday revealed the tear.
Overall, Ankiel appeared in 20 games (10 starts) and went 2-6, 6.29 with 49 walks, 64 strikeouts and 45 hits allowed in 54 innings. He was 1-1, 6.75 in 9 innings out of the bullpen and 1-5, 6.20 as a starter.
The Blue Jays promoted Gabe Gross to Triple-A, breaking up a rare all-first round outfield in Double-A New Haven. Gross, a first-rounder in 2001 out of Auburn, hit in 18 of his last 19 games to boost his average from .288 to .319. Gross, who hit .238 in Double-A last season, leaves Alexis Rios (first-round, 1999) and John-Ford Griffin (first-round, 2001) behind in New Haven.
The Indians promoted rapidly emerging righthander Fausto Carmona from low Class A Lake County to Double-A Akron, where he will make his debut tonight. Carmona fires his fastball in the low- to mid-90s with good life and mixes in a power breaking ball. He was 10-3, 1.75 with 11 walks and 79 hits allowed in 98 innings for Lake County.
After promoting Laynce Nix from Double-A to the majors, the Rangers moved Class A outfielder Patrick Boyd to Frisco. Boyd, a seventh round pick out of Clemson in 2001, was hitting .294-13-50 for Stockton.
Cubs prospect David Kelton will replace Nix in the Futures Game. Kelton is hitting .285-13-40 in Triple-A Iowa, where he has played the last three games in center field since Corey Patterson tore his ACL.
Yankees rehabbing pitchers Chien-Ming Wang (blister) and Sean Henn (sore shoulder) made progress throwing in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League yesterday. They threw three scoreless innings apiece. Henn pitched at 89-95 mph and punched out six, while Wang fanned two while throwing 89-94. Wang will rejoin Double-A Trenton; Henn will head back to Class A Tampa.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Devil Rays 2003 second-rounder James Houser is scheduled to make his third pro start tonight for Rookie-level Princeton. Houser hasn't allowed a run in his first two outings, while striking out six in six innings. His velocity was down this spring, but he has been clocked as high as 93 mph and features a nasty breaking ball.
Braves righthander Jose Capellan, rehabbing from a sore elbow, topped out at 99 mph in the GCL yesterday. He struck out 10 in five innings, and is expected to rejoin low Class A Rome, where he was 0-2, 3.79 this season.
A trio of prospects have been bumped up the ladder with recent promotions.
The Red Sox rewarded their 2003 first-rounder David Murphy with the first promotion of his career. He earned the two-level jump to high Class A Sarasota by hitting .346-0-13 with 16 walks and nine strikeouts in 78 at-bats for short-season Lowell.
Murphy was selected 17th overall out of Baylor, where he was an All-American. He won the Big 12 batting title with a .413 average.
The Padres elevated outfielder Kennard Jones, drafted in the third round out of Indiana last year, from low Class A Fort Wayne to high Class A Lake Elsinore. Jones hit .308-1-30 for Fort Wayne, with a .795 OPS. He drew 52 walks against 50 strikeouts and stole 20 bases while being caught 19 times.
Jones won co-Big 10 player of the year honors last spring after not being drafted out of high school and transferring from Wallace State (Ala.) CC after his sophomore season. Jones has often drawn comparisons to Kenny Lofton for his speed and plate discipline. Like Lofton, Jones is more of a line-drive, slap hitter.
Also exiting the Midwest League, Royals emerging prospect Kieran Mattison was bumped from Burlington to high Class A Wilmington. The 23-year-old righthander is on the heels of a two-game losing streak, but leaves behind an 8-5, 2.50 mark. A Prospect Hot Sheet snub in May, he flew under the radar going 3-1 with a minor league-low 0.44 ERA in the month. Opponents are hitting just .210 against him while he's walked 26 and fanned 89 in 108 innings.
Mattison went undrafted out of East Carolina and signed last July as a free agent. He went 1-1, 1.80 in 20 relief innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year.
A Midwest League all-star this season, Mattison's fastball registers 89-91 with an over-the-top solid curveball.
With Jeremy Brown on the disabled list due to a thumb strain, the A's promoted catcher John Baker from low Class A Kane County to Double-A Midland to take his spot. Baker, drafted in the fourth round out of Cal-Berkley last year, was hitting .309-6-49 in Kane County. He is a solid receiver with slightly below-average arm strength and a little juice in his bat.
Like Brown, Baker handles the strike zone well, drawing 47 walks against 77 strikeouts in 304 at-bats for a .414 on-base percentage.
After suffering through a miserable 2002 season, marred with injuries, Ty Howington started this season a level lower than where he ended the last. His velocity was down in the mid-80s and he was getting tattooed by Carolina League opponents for a .300-plus average over the first two months of this season. Howington, 22, has recouped the speed and life on his fastball, now reaching the low-90s again. He improved to 6-6, 3.61 by tossing four-hit ball over eight innings on Monday. In his last five starts, the southpaw is 3-1, 0.84 with 23 hits allowed and 39 strikeouts in 32 innings. He is expected to make about two more starts for Class A Potomac before returning to Double-A Chattanooga, where he's combined to go 2-8, 4.42 over parts of the last two seasons.
Marlins low Class A righthander Yorman Bazardo injured his shoulder in his last start for Greensboro. He came out after four innings on Monday. The 18-year-old Venezuelan is 5-5, 3.28 and has been clocked as high as 95 mph this season. Bazardo joins fellow smoke throwing righty Ronald Belisario, who posted a 5-1, 3.00 mark for Greensboro, in the ailing shoulder department. Belisario made one start for high Class A Jupiter before going on the shelf with a sore shoulder. Early reports suggest Bazardo's injury is more serious than Belisario's.
Lefty Aaron Laffey makes his pro debut for Rookie-level Burlington tonight in the Appalachian League. Laffey signed over the weekend for a $363,000 as the Indians 16th-round pick. He was pegged as a top five-round talent out of a Maryland high school prior to the draft, but fell due to signability concerns.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Ryan Spataro, 20, wasn't drafted until the 41st round in 2001, as the Twins knew there weren't any other teams interested in the Ontario native. Primarily a speed prospect, a 65 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, Spataro is hitting .300-1-9 with a .434 on-base percentage as the leadoff hitter and center fielder for Rookie-level Elizabethton. He has stolen two bases in four attempts, but uses his speed effectively to supplement his average by legging out infield hits.
Jeff Francis was 2-7, 6.88 in his first 11 starts for Class A Visalia this year. In his two wins he pitched scoreless ball for a combined 13 innings, but the games following each of those starts he went 0-2, 34.33 with 13 hits in 3 2/3 innings. His roller coaster season was more down than up before June.
The lefthander has gone 3-1, 2.53 since improving to 5-8, 5.03 in his first full season. Francis highlighted his turnaround with a complete game, nine-inning no-hitter on Sunday.
He has been more consistent with his command--he threw more than 70 percent strikes with his fastball on Sunday against Modesto, and he was finding the strike zone regularly with his curveball and changeup. Francis' fastball was clocked between 86-90, averaging 89 mph.
Drafted out of the University of British Columbia with the ninth overall pick last June, Francis was rated the 9th best prospect in the Rockies system. He was considered one of the more polished pitchers in the draft, but given his early-season inconsistency he's likely to spend the rest of the season in the California League.
Consistency hasn't been an issue for Orioles emerging prospect John Maine. The righthander, drafted in the sixth round out of UNC-Charlotte last year, overmatched the low Class A South Atlantic League to the tune of a 7-3, 1.54 record in 76 innings before earning a promotion to high Class A Frederick.
The Orioles were looking for Maine, 22, to mix in his offspeed pitches more frequently before his promotion.
He lasted just 4 1/3 in his Carolina League debut, but bounced back with a seven-inning no-hitter in his second start last Thursday.
Though Maine didn't work on his secondary offerings in the hitless effort, he continued to overmatch hitters with his fastball. He was clocked at 90-94 mph, and didn't need to defer to his curveball and changeup often. In fact, he threw just six curves, three for strikes, and four changes, two for strikes.
Despite his dominance, the Orioles player development staff is continuing to emphasize the development of his breaking stuff.
"You need that to be a good major league pitcher," Baltimore farm director Doc Rodgers said. "We want him to be a very good major league pitcher, not just a very good Class A pitcher."
The Rangers still have until July 25 to make their decision on which prospects to choose from the White Sox for Carl Everett, but their scouts have already had a chance to be influenced by some early performances since the deal. Righthander Franklin Francisco fired seven innings of one-hit shutout ball last Thursday against Frederick. He has been clocked between 87-94 mph this year, averaging 91, and his changeup is a plus pitch. His slider gets slurvy. One scout compared the 23-year-old to a taller Octavio Dotel, as his arm works easy and he repeats his delivery. Francisco's Winston-Salem teammates second baseman Ruddy Yan and righthander Wyatt Allen made less favorable impressions in front of Rangers scouts. Yan has gone 5-for-21 since the trade was announced. He is still hitting .300 with a .723 OPS and 49 steals in 58 attempts. Allen, 6-3, 3.21, tossed five innings, allowing four hits, one run and three walks, while striking out two, but the 2001 first-rounder's stuff wasn't great. He struggles to throw consistent first-pitch strikes and locate his fastball, which sits around average.
The Expos promoted first baseman Larry Broadway to high Class A Brevard County from low Class A Savannah after hitting .307-14-51. The 2002 third-rounder posted a .966 OPS.
Orioles 2003 first-rounder Nick Markakis is hitting .250 for short-season Aberdeen, but he'll be missing from the lineup until July 20th to work out for the Greek national team.
The Yankees placed outfielder Anderson Amador on the DL in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with an infection in his right knee. He was hitting .100 (2-for-20) with eight strikeouts.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Aberdeen shortstop Bryan Bass received a $1.15 million bonus as the Orioles supplemental first-round pick in 2001, but he continues to struggle at the plate. The 21-year-old spent last year in Delmarva, where he hit .221-6-59 with 146 strikeouts in 457 at-bats. He started 2003 back in Delmarva before being demoted to Aberdeen after hitting .205-0-21. Things haven't gotten much better at the lower level, as he's hit .162 in 68 at-bats there lowering his career average to .227.
Instead of White Sox farmhand Rick Hummel, as was reported here on Thursday, righthander Enemencio Pacheco will be one of the reported eight players the Rangers will pick from as payment for Carl Everett. Pacheco, 24, has a live arm, and he's having one of his better years, in his seventh year in pro ball. Originally signed by the Rockies out of the Dominican in 1997, Pacheco was traded for Sandy Alomar last July. Though he's worked primarily out of the pen over the last two seasons at the Class A level, he is 6-2, 3.07 in 14 starts for Double-A Birmingham this season.
Yankees Double-A righthander Chien-Ming Wang was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season with a blister on his right middle finger. He struggled in June, going 0-1, 6.50 with 28 hits in 18 innings after going 4-2, 3.77 during the first two months.
A's Double-A catcher Jeremy Brown has been on the DL for Midland since June 26 with a strained left thumb. Brown is hitting .275-5-37 in 233 at-bats. Brown has walked 41 times against 38 strikeouts.
Angels Class A righthander Steven Shell had an MRI on his right elbow last week showing only a muscle strain that is expected to sideline him for two weeks, according to the Daily Bulletin (Calif.). Shell, who started the California-Carolina League all-star game, is 6-6, 3.64 with 78 strikeouts and 12 walks in 99 innings.
Angels Triple-A infielder Alfredo Amezaga landed on the DL for the third time this season with a right hamstring injury. He is hitting .354-3-41 with 13 bags.
Brewers low Class A righthander Tom Wilhelmsen has been sidelined with a right elbow strain for Beloit. He is 5-5, 2.76 with 78 hits allowed and 63 strikeouts in 88 innings. He has been clocked as high as 97 mph this season.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Dodgers lefthander Mike Megrew has 34 strikeouts and four walks in 20 innings for Rookie-level Ogden. Drafted in the fifth round out of a Rhode Island high school last year, he was ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the Dodgers system. He works consistently around 88-89 mph with a good curveball. On Saturday, he gave up one hit over six innings, walked none and fanned 12.
Mariners Class A prospect Shin-Soo Choo has been missing from Inland Empire's lineup for the last four days due to a sore ankle. He is hitting .292-8-38 with 13 steals in 23 attempts.
Javier Herrera, the A's farmhand who was airlifted from the field during a Rookie-level Arizona League game last week after running into the outfield wall, has regained all feeling in his legs and was removed from intensive care at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix.
Contributing: Kevin Goldstein, Will Kimmey.
The eight-player pool from which the Rangers will select three players on July 25 as payment for Carl Everett has been reported by several sources. It includes outfielder Anthony Webster, lefthander Corwin Malone, righthanders Josh Rupe, Felix Diaz, Wyatt Allen, Franklin Francisco and Rick Hummel and second baseman Ruddy Yan.
Baseball America breaks down every trade in Trade Central, the only place you can find scouting reports on minor leaguers involved in deals, and we'll review this trade when it becomes official. In this rare instance, we can give you insight on the potential trade targets beforehand.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams deserves credit for bringing in Everett and Roberto Alomar despite a relatively thin pool of prospects. Over the next three weeks, Rangers scouts will bear down on the eight players on the short list. Their top options should be Webster, Rupe and Malone.
Webster, 20, is hitting .297-1-25 for low Class A Kannapolis this season. Drafted in the 15th round out of a Tennessee high school in 2001, Webster is one of the top athletes in the White Sox organization. He batted .352-1-30 with 16 stolen bases in Rookie-level Bristol last year. He is still considered raw at the plate, despite his .318 career average. A sleek, lefthanded-hitter, Webster displays a solid understanding of the strike zone, too. Last year he drew 38 walks against 38 strikeouts, and he's posted a .366 on-base this year.
Rupe, was drafted last year in the third round out of Louisburg (N.C.) JC and is 4-3, 3.09 on the season. He started the year working primarily out of the pen for Kannapolis after an erratic debut at Rookie-level Bristol in 2002. After posting a 1.35 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 33 innings ou of the pen this year, the White Sox promoted him to the rotation. Long-term, he profiles as a starter because he has a four-pitch arsenal featuring a 90-94 mph fastball and above-average slider. Overall, the 6-foot-2 righthander has help righthanders to a .188 average.
Malone is recovering from a shoulder injury, which makes him a risk to gamble on, but he could be worth it. His stock skyrocketed after a 2001 season that saw him climb three levels while compiling a 13-5, 1.98 record. He struggled mightily with his command last season, walking 89 in 124 innings. He also fanned 89, after striking out 177 in 168 innings in 2002. Malone is currently on the DL with a shoulder problem. He was 2-2, 7.16 for Double-A Birmingham in 28 innings this year. Like Webster, Malone was a football player in high school.
Diaz was acquired last July from the Giants with lefthander Ryan Meaux for Kenny Lofton. Diaz has suffered from mild shoulder problems in each of the last two years, and some scouts have questioned his makeup. Diaz, who will turn 23 on July 27, has hit the mid-90s in the past, but he consistently works in the low 90s range when healthy. Earlier this season, he was having trouble getting to 90 with a lifeless fastball, but has improved since. He's 3-5, 3.54 allowing a .255 average in 74 innings.
Yan woulnd't figure to be a good fit for the Rangers, who recently moved hot prospect Ramon Nivar off of second base, due in part to their organization need for center fielders and because of Michael Young's presence at second base. Jason Bourgeois is also a top prospect, playing second base for high Class A Bakersfield.
Francisco has a live arm, but since being acquired from the Red Sox as part of the deal for Bobby Howry last July, he hasnt been consistent. The 23-year-old was 0-4, 8.06 for Class A Winston-Salem last year, and has improved to 5-3, 4.11 in 61 innings this season.
The Reds weren't joking when they said they planned on hastening 2003 first-rounder Ryan Wagner's track to the big leagues. The righthander struck out six and allowed two hits and two walks in five innings for Double-A Chattanooga before being promoted to Triple-A Louisville.
Another college reliever from the 2003 draft experiencing some immediate success is Chad Orvella, drafted in the 13th round out of North Carolina State by the Devil Rays. Orvella, who has been clocked between 94-96 mph in each of his five pro outings, only logged 12 innings this spring, primarily playing shortstop. For short-season Hudson Valley, Orvella has notched five saves in five appearances, fanning 10 in seven innings. He has allowed three hits and no walks.
July 2, 2003
While Cubs prospect Angel Guzman takes a couple days to decide how to go about rehabbing his ailing right shoulder, there was still more bad news on the injury front for the organization.
Righthander Matt Clanton, selected in the supplemental first round last year out of Orange Coast (Calif.) College, is likely going to need to get an MRI on his right shoulder. He made one appearance in the Rookie-level Arizona League this year before being shut down. After signing last July, Clanton was limited to two innings in the short-season Northwest League due to biceps tendinitis.
Lefty Justin Jones, who is 3-3, 2.51 for low Class A Lansing, hasn't pitched in more than two weeks because of shoulder tendinitis, though Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said the injury is not a major concern. "We just wanted to back off with him a little bit."
The Cubs were optimistic about the return of righthander Ben Christensen, who made his return to the mound in Class A Daytona. Christensen missed most of last season after having Tommy John surgery in June.
In more injury-related news, the Angels were pleased with the progress of rehabbing pitchers Joe Torres, Joe Saunders, Kevin Jepsen and Bobby Jenks.
Torres, out with shoulder soreness, hit 91 mph, while Saunders, also recovering from a shoulder injury, threw an "encouraging" bullpen session, according to Angels scouting director Donny Rowland. Jepsen, who was 6-3, 2.65 for low Class A Cedar Rapids, has been sidelined with a bone spur in his elbow.
Jenks, 2-1, 3.52 in 23 innings for Double-A Arkansas, is nursing a stress reaction in his elbow. He made his first rehab start in the Rookie-level Arizona League yesterday, tossing four shutout innings. His fastball was clocked between 95-97 mph.
Javier Herrera, an As farmhand playing in the Rookie-level Arizona League, was airlifted from the field in Mesa, Ariz. in the second inning of Tuesdays game. The 18-year-old Venezuelan ran headlong into the fence and was motionless as trainers attended to him before paramedics and the helicopter arrived on the scene, according to a scout at the game. Herrera had some feeling in his legs, according to another As player. Herrera is hitting .286-1-8 in 28 at-bats.
Indians 2003 first-rounder Michael Aubrey has been sidelined with a strained right quadriceps. He played two games for low Class A Lake County, going 1-for-7 with a double before the injury. He is expected back in the lineup by next weekend.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Yankees righthander Brandon Weeden is 0-0, 3.86 in seven innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Weeden, the Yankees first pick in 2002 (drafted in the second round out of an Oklahoma high school), was primarily a shortstop in high school. The Yankees are bringing him along slowly, but he's showed plus velocity (88-93), while working on his breaking stuff.
The next year that the Futures Game rosters go unchanged from the time they are announced until the game is played will be the first. Many of the prospects we pick are knocking on the door to the big leagues, which means it's inevitable that some of them will get the call during the three-week window.
The first to go was Devil Rays second baseman Antonio Perez, who was hitting .284-6-20 at Triple-A Durham. Because he was the only Tampa Bay representative, Triple-A catcher Pete LaForest, a Canada native, will fill in at the utility spot on the World roster. LaForest, who arrived late this season because of visa problems, has shown a potent stick. After a tune-up in Double-A Orlando, .250-3-15, he's slugging .815 with seven jacks in 54 at-bats for Durham. Big and strong at 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, LaForest employs a powerful lefthanded uppercut stroke. He cranked 23 home runs in 425 at-bats between Orlando and Durham last year.
As detailed in Monday's Daily Dish, Victor Martinez' promotion to Cleveland created a tough hole to fill at an already thin World first base slot. Because the options were so scarce, Dodgers Triple-A outfielder/first baseman Chin-Feng Chen has been invited back for the third time. Chen went 1-for-3 in the inaugural game at Fenway Park in 1999, and followed with a 3-for-4 effort in 2000 at Turner Field. Chen's prospect status has suffered since posting a 30-30 season for Class A San Bernardino in 1999. Spending his second year in Las Vegas, the 25-year-old is hitting .285-8-44. He is a streaky hitter with above-average power, but he has big holes in his swing. Chen has fanned 68 times in 291 at-bats.
Angel Guzman's shoulder injury, of which surgery has been ruled out after his Monday meeting with Dr. James Andrews according to sources, opened a spot for Diamondbacks Triple-A righthander Edgar Gonzalez. Gonzalez, 6-2, 3.45 in Tucson, started the year in Double-A El Paso and made his major league debut earlier this season. The 20-year-old went 1-1, 5.73, allowing 20 hits in 11 innings over two starts in Arizona. He is a power sinker/slider pitcher, who pitches in the 89-92 mph range and can dial it up to 96 mph.
The Orioles promoted lefthander Scott Rice from low Class A Delmarva to high Class A Frederick. He limited hitters to a .130 average in 48 relief innings in the South Atlantic League. He rang up 53 punchouts and walked 12, operating with two fastballs in the 89-90 mph with plus movement and a good slider. In his first game for Frederick yesterday, Rice gave up a hit and two walks in 1 2/3.
Daily short-season prospect watch: Righthander Justin Gillman has made encouraging progress after missing last season due to Tommy John surgery. In two rehab starts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, the 20-year-old has given up two hits in 11 innings, while punching out 11. His fastball has been clocked between 88-90 mph.
The Cardinals shuffled their top pitching prospects yesterday as Jimmy Journell was demoted to Triple-A, after making his major league debut on Sunday, to make room for Dan Haren, who took the loss last night in his debut against the Giants. Haren threw well, mixing his moving fastball and power slider, but was victimized by shoddy defense behind him leading to a pair of unearned runs. Lefty Chris Narveson was bumped from Class A Palm Beach to Double-A Tennessee, where he tossed seven scoreless. Righthander Blake Hawksworth was elevated to Palm Beach after going 5-1, 2.30 with 57 strikeouts in 55 innings for low Class A Peoria. He allowed six hits and four runs last night, taking the loss for Palm Beach.
Ryan Anderson had a small tear in his labrum repaired and will miss the rest of the season. It was Anderson's third labrum tear in as many years, and he has not pitched since the 2000 season. "It's bad news for us as an organization, and particularly worse news for him because it's his career," Mariners farm director Benny Looper said. Fellow lefty Matt Thornton was out of the rotation at Triple-A Tacoma after a disc problem in his upper back and neck led to a pinched nerve. Thornton was slated to have an EMG on Tuesday. "It's a bit of a setback as he was having a nice year in Triple-A," Looper said.
Giants Class A lefty Ryan Hannaman is rehabbing a strained left biceps at the Giants spring complex in Arizona. The 21-year-old was 4-4, 4.74 with 77 strikeouts in 63 innings before suffering the injury in his June 12 start. He is progressing well and expected back soon, according to club officials.
Contributing: Will Kimmey.