Daily Dish: July 5
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See also: Today's Baseball Prospect Report
High Class A Lake Elsinore's offense provided plenty of fireworks Tuesday, hitting three homers in the Storm's 17-2 win at Inland Empire.
Third baseman Chase Headley had the line of the day for Lake Elsinore, going 3-for-4 with his 10th home run and his 19th double of the season. The Padres' second-round pick last year out of Tennessee already has four more bombs than his debut last season, when he batted .268/.375/.441 with six homers in 220 at-bats at short-season Eugene. Headley jumped straight to high Class A this season after finishing out last year with just four games at low Class A Fort Wayne.
So far this season, Headley is hitting .279/.371/.446 with 42 RBIs in 294 at-bats for the Storm.
"I've worked some on trying to get my hands out from my body a little bit more." Headley said. "Playing third base, I've been trying to work on my power a little more. I've never been a huge power guy before, but I think it's in there and we're trying to pull it out a little more.
"I know I'm not going to hit 50 home runs in the big leagues, but I can be a guy who hits 20 to 30 and hits for a decent average. So I've just done some little things to get my hands freed up a little bit and try to generate some more bat speed."
A switch-hitting third baseman, Headley is crushing from the left side, and struggling against lefthanders. Batting righthanded, the 22-year-old is hitting .200 with just eight extra-base hits. Compare that to when he's facing righthanders and it's an entirely different story--.326 with seven of his 10 homers and 14 of his 19 doubles have come hitting lefthanded. Interestingly, Headley's natural side is batting righthanded.
"Lefthanded right now I feel awesome, mainly because you just see so many more righthanded pitchers that I've found a real nice comfort zone from the left side," Headley said. "I'm still trying to adjust hitting righthanded because in college it was very rare that I got anything inside--everything was soft-away, soft-away and then maybe show in and then back out there. In the pro game, they'll come in a lot more and with the wood bat, that's giving me some trouble."
Defensively, it's also been a work in progress for Headley. He didn't play third until his freshman year at Tennessee, but made huge strides last year during instructional league and again this spring. He's fundamentally sound on the corner, with soft hands and an average, accurate arm. This season, he's committed 10 errors in 190 total chances (.947).
"I'm still learning, really," Headley said. "I'm working on some positioning things and just some techniques that you do differently than in the middle of the diamond. I think I'm getting better defensively just because I'm getting more experience and knowing more of what to expect and what's expected out of me playing that corner position. Those hot shots aren't so hot anymore because you start to see them a little bit better.
"I feel like I've made some strides in my lateral movement--I'm not going to be the fastest guy coming in on balls, but I think that improvement in my side-to-side movement has helped tremendously coming into this season."
And perhaps Headley's biggest asset is his makeup. A high school valedictorian and an academic all-American for the Volunteers, Headley already has a track record of making easy mental adjustments, even though he's in his first full season of pro ball.
"I try to do as much as I can to mentally prepare myself every day, mainly because I'm not quite as physically gifted as some of the guys I play against," Headley said. "I'm trying to get every advantage mentally as I can--keeping track of what different pitchers have done to me in the past or what other hitters do in certain situations against our guys so I can position myself better--I just try to apply myself and see if I can't pick something up and use it to benefit what I'm trying to do."
After he hit .310/.373/.512 in 303 at-bats in the low Class A Midwest League, the Cardinals have promoted outfielder Colby Rasmus for Quad Cities to Palm Beach of the high Class A Florida State League.
"I'm glad to see him go, but we'll miss him," Quad Cities manager Keith Mitchell told the Quad-City Times. "I think he saw it coming. The last few games I didn't think I saw the same Colby Rasmus at the plate that we had seen the previous few weeks.
"I think he was starting to wonder when it was going to happen, and it was starting to impact his game, so it was time for him to move on."
Rasmus was one of a quartet of outfielders drafted in the first round out of high school in 2005 who was flourishing in the Midwest League. The 19-year-old joined the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton, the Tigers' Cameron Maybin and the Reds' Jay Bruce to give the MWL one of the deepest pools of outfield prospects of any league in the minors.
At the time of his promotion, Rasmus was ninth in the league in hitting and fifth in slugging and extra-base hits.
The 28th overall pick last year from Russell County (Ala.) High, Rasmus' rise is in sharp contrast to Tyler Greene, the Cardinals other first-round pick of a year ago. Greene, the 30th overall selection, struggled horribly for Palm Beach this season as he hit .224/.308/.325 with 90 strikeouts in 268 at-bats before being reassigned to Quad Cities a few days ago.
• In Futures Game related news, Pirates lefthander Tom Gorzelanny's promotion to the big leagues has opened a spot for Pittsburgh reliever Josh Sharpless on the U.S. pitching staff. Sharpless, a 24th-round pick in 2003, started the season at Double-A Altoona where he allowed just two earned runs in 21 innings and was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. The righthander has been nearly as impressive in the International League, going 1-1, 2.11 with a 22-8 strikeout-walk ratio in 21 innings . . . BA correspondent George King of the New York Post reports the Yankees have agreed to terms with Brooklyn righthander Dellin Betances, who was taken in the eighth round of this year's draft. It's believed the Grand Street Campus High School product landed a signing bonus exceeding $1 million. He will report to Tampa and pitch in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. General manager Brian Cashman said Betances has the highest ceiling of any pitcher the Yankees drafted in 2006 . . . Dodgers third baseman Andy LaRoche, 22, has returned to the Triple-A Las Vegas lineup after missing two weeks with a slight tear in the labrum of his right shoulder. LaRoche is foregoing surgery for the injury, which he sustained in just his fourth PCL game in June 15. He's hitting .300/.391/.600 through his first 20 at-bats with Las Vegas . . . So far, so good for Chris Iannetta, 23, who's continued his hot hitting after a promotion to the PCL. The Rockies top catching prospect hit his second home run for Triple-A Colrorado Springs Tuesday--and collected two doubles--in just his eighth game. Iannetta had hit .321 with 11 home runs for Double-A Tulsa this season . . . Angels righthander Nick Green put together his fourth quality start in a row Tuesday, and picked up his first win since June 14 in Double-A Arkansas' 7-3 victory against Tulsa. Green, a 35th-round pick in 2004, allowed a pair of runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. Over his last four outings, Green is 2-0, 3.80 with 19 strikeouts in 26 innings. "He's been pretty solid for us," Travelers manager Ty Boykin told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "He's got good tempo, he throws strikes, he keeps the ball down in the zone, he gets ground-ball outs, he gets the ball put in play early in the count--all the things we talk about throughout the organization about what we're trying to accomplish when we're on the mound." . . . Devil Rays outfielder Josh Hamilton went 1-for-3 with a double for short-season Hudson Valley in his first game back since returning from lengthy suspension. It was his first game since 2002 . . . Diamondbacks shortstop/second baseman/third baseman/first baseman/outfielder Mark Reynolds ran his hitting streak to 18 games for high Class A Lancaster. He clubbed his California League-leading 22nd home run in an 8-2 loss to High Desert, putting him one behind the overall minor league homer lead held by Triple-A Durham's Kevin Witt. Reynolds, a 16th-round pick out of Virginia in 2004, is also second in the Cal League with a .335 average and second behind teammate Carlos Gonzalez with 73 RBIs. Though he has gotten 111 of his 257 at-bats as a shortstop, he has shown off his versatility for the JetHawks by playing all over the infield and a bit in left field as well . . . After drafted in the 11th round this June, Tyler Chambliss was undecided whether to return to Florida State or sign with the Royals. "I weighed the risk and rewards of coming back, and I just thought the risks outweighed the rewards," Chambliss told the Suwanee Democrat. "I really thought about it, and my goal has always been to play major-league baseball, so why pass it up?" In his debut on Tuesday, the righthander looks to have made the decision. On a pitch count with Rookie-level Idaho Falls, Chambliss didn't allow a hit in his first four innings of professional baseball work. He struck out three in the no decision, as reliever Harold Mozingo would follow with a four inning, one-hit effort to land the victory . . . Following offseason shoulder surgery, lefthander Dallas Braden missed the first three months of the season. On Tuesday, Braden began his debut with the Arizona League A's, not allowing a run in two innings of work. Braden won 15 games in 2006 armed with a screwball that confused minor league hitters. Expectations are low this season following his surgery, but allowing just two hits and no walks in his two-inning return is certainly a step in the right direction.
Contributing: Matt Eddy, Aaron Fitt, Bryan Smith.