Saturday, July 18, 2009

Moves and Notes


J2
Migule Sano has been cleared though MLB still has "suspicions" about him.

Reports indicate that MN has 3.2M on the table and that Rene Gayo is flying down to improve the Pirates offer. Those appear to be the only bidders, which isnt surprising in that price range.

No new TX scuttlebutt other than their interest in a couple of suspended players. Not sure how that would work actually, but it might be possible to sign a guy while he is suspended


Texas
Not sure I get the need to call up an extra infielder with Omar on the roster.

An EG Harrison update:
"LHP Matt Harrison threw live batting practice Thursday and will repeat the exercise on Sunday. Providing there are no residual issues with his left shoulder, he will pitch two innings of a rehab start for either Double-A Frisco or Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday. That would be followed by a three inning stint next Sunday and four innings on July 30. The Rangers could then make a decision on activating him in early August."

Given all the talk that they won't call Harry up until he is 100%/100 pitches, it would seem that the earliest he would be called up would be for a start on August 4th and more likely the 9th.


Oklahoma
Feliz pitched his first B2B outing last night. TX could call him up for tomorrow's game if he recovers well but they will more than likely have him pitch another B2B outing with a 7/22 callup.

Davis said that he was ready to come back to TX after only a week at OKC. He was batting .300 then and is batting .400 now with last night's 3 double performance. Not sure what the Rangers' timeline for him, but I would like to see him bash the ball around a bit longer to make sure he has indeed turned things around.

As expected, El Duque was released yesterday with Luis Mendoza coming off the inactive list.


Bakersfield
Main sent home for the year with an undiagnosed chronic-fatigue/fybromyalgia-like condition; Mono was ruled out, as was anything common that would show up in blood work I'm sure. So, I guess we might here something about him around instructs.


Hickory
NeRa had his best outing of the year last night. No hitter through 3, got out of a based loaded jam in the 4th (bb, hbb, bunt single), to finish 6innings, with 2 hits, and most importantly, 1 BB.


Spokane
Diminuitive 24yo Cuban Reinier Bermudez does indeed throw as hard as was reported last year. Last night he sat 94-95 (92-97) but his problem (which is likely one reason he never made it to full-season ball out of ST) seems to be his inablity to command his CB. The announcer claims that he has hit 100 before. Funny story. Facing talented 2009 1st rounder Tim Wheeler, RB didn't get a strike called. He peered in at the ump a moment, took the ball, gave a bit of a shrug, then blew a 97mph heater by Timmy for a swinging strike. Though he walked him on the next pitch, he then picked him off first with a splended pick off move -as a RH no less- to end the inning.


AZL
Brock Piper (Alabama-Mont.) signed from the CPL summer league on Thursday and pitched last night. His statistics in the CPL weren't all that great. Not sure why they needed him. At 6.3 250, he probably profiles as a hard-throwing reliever.

TK Ahn hasn't pitched since his debut on 6/22 so it appears he is on the DL. I was looking forward to seeing this kid pitch. Going back over some old notes, the scouting report said that he flashed 93 and also threw a cutter and was fairly polished. That runs counter to reports from instructs suggesting he looked "raw". But then, how many of the impressions from instructs have really proven true?


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick Hits

J2 Notes
The holy triumvirate of Jorge-Kiley-Ben have been _way_ off on the bonuses that they reported on the upper tier J2 signs, way high, way low.

TEXAS
Matt Herges
inks a MiL deal with CO. With Herges and Ayala off the board as freebie bullpen signs, I think it is clear that TX intends for Feliz to be that guy, and no other

JD says that "el Duque" is not in the Rangers' plans as he is behind Feliz in the pecking order and that he will likely take FA on Monday.

Matt Harrison threw 70p in live BP Thursday and will throw again today.


FRISCO
People are taking Omar Poveda for granted this season yet he has been arguably the most consistent starter in the TX system this year. Last night he worked into the eigth once again, throwing 7.2 innings before being unwisely pulled after only 86pitches (68% strikes) and losing the game as Vaughan allowed to inherited runners to score. I'll just say this - Kiker over Poveda doesn't stand up to reason, that is, unless your previous years-long prospect man crushes included the likes of Whittleman, Yohan Yan, E. Solis, Michael Schlact, and Z. Phillips.


SYSTEM
If there is any doubt that this year's off-season mantra of "keep the ball low and pitch to contact" has had any effect - you migh also add the addition of the sinker and the cutter as new pitches of emphasis at least in the upper levels - just check out these groundball ratios from last night's starting lines:

AA: Poveda, 16-5 ( 3gidp first 5 innings)
HighA: Bleier, 10-1
LowA: Perez, 8-3
Spokane: Ross, 12-1
Arizona: Melo 5-5 (come on kid!!)
DSL2: Parra, 8-0 (4 innings)

The pitcher in the system who profiles as the worst kind of pitcher for TBPIA? The Lizard for AAA with a 0-10 go-ao ratio in his TR start!!!!


Spokane
Justin Miller promoted from AZL. He is working as a closer/setup guy and touched 93 in his A- debut.


Arizona
Newly signed UDFA RH reliever Jacob Geglein was assigned to the club as expected and made his debut on Thursday getting 3 groundouts in his inning of work. So know we know that in addition to being a pitchability guy who likely has BA velo, he is a groundball pitcher as well - welcome to the club.



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Thursday, July 16, 2009

NYY J2 Sign BUSTED!

NYY J2 sign Damian Arredondo who had agreed to a 850K signing bonus had his contract nullified due to identity fraud. They should take a lesson from TX: get your shortstops from VZ and Curacao. Take that NY - and now we come for your Cubans (Chapman and Arguellez)!


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Cubs sign BJ Ryan


Per ESPN


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Holland back in the rotation

Guess Nips gave them the Yips:

Derek Holland back in the rotation

With both Minnesota and Kansas City have solid left-hand hitting lineups, the Rangers are putting lefty Derek Holland back in the starting rotation. Holland will start Sunday against the Twins and next weekend against Kansas City. Vicente Padilla will start Friday night, followed by Scott Feldman and Holland. Kevin Millwood will start Monday against Boston with Tommy Hunter going Tuesday. The Rangers have their work cut out for them against Boston, which will start John Smoltz, Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett in the three-game set.

- Anthony Andro


Although this sounds like the smart move, in reality, it is _not_ what the club _prefers_ to do, per TRS:

The Rangers still want Holland in the bullpen right now but have no choice but to start him. He'll get three starts and that will take the Rangers back to the Trade Deadline. By then they will know if they know if they can trade for a starter or if they can expect Matt Harrison back soon.


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DSL Juego de Estrella (JE)

The DSL All Star game (JE) takes place this Sunday. DSL Rangers reps include head coach Jayce "Jeyse" Tingler on the coaching staff and DSL2 players (MIF) Alfredo Chalas, (1b) Jhonny Gomez, and (CF) Teo "T-Mart" Martinez. Chalas is a 2nd-year DSL guy who played SS last year but has played mostly 3b/1b this year. Based on his year at SS in 2008, I considered him a candidate to be promoted to AZL before the end of the 2009 season if he did well. As a 3b/1b, meh; he doesn't hit for power. I don't really consider Gomez a prospect due to his age and lack of power production but he is hitting very well and has excellent plate discipline. T-Mart was one of seven (edit: eight, with Luis Parra) 6-figure J2 signs last year - somewhere between 100-150k - so was already considerd one of the top DSL prospects (see profile in sidebar worksheets). He has plus speed - 24SB in 31 games - and needs to double his caloric intake - he checks in at 155.

Oddly enough there are no pitchers or DSL1 players. The latter might be by agreement for whatever reason.

The game _might_ be streamed here at 10am (if it follows this season's game times). There might also be a Saturday or Sunday morning game streamed at this site on occasion so you might check it out sometime, though i always forget to.




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Truly Embarrassing



“I believe in baseball, the American Way and the power of recycling,” said Recycle Man as he was busy practicing his recycling moves at Spokane's Avista Stadium in anticipation of his debut during tonight’s game. “You, too, can be a hero if you recycle!”


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Bathroom Reading


My mid-season affiliate reviews and prospect rankings will be coming along s-l-o-w-l-y as I'm having some cpu problems. As a result I probably won't be posting much in the next few days as I work on them. So, I wanted to post links to a few M&M pieces published in the last 6 months that might be of interest in the interim:

Roster Previews/Reviews
Minor Trends 2009 (January)
Full Season Roster reviews (April)
Extended roster review (April)
DSL roster / reviews (May)
Short Season Roster reviews: Here; here; here (June)

Articles
Prospecting: J2/Draft News (July)
Happy Opinions: Feliz at the Futures Game (July)
2008 J2 Summary (June)
Hickory rotation notes: second half (June)
Feliz Rant (June)
Miguel Velazquez (May)
Moscoso Love: One - Two (March)
Prospecting - Texas/Oakland: Part one & two (February)
2009 Off-season Free Agency Review: Parts one, two, three (Jan)
Rangers/Rays (January)


OTHER
Cowboys off-season/draft review (it's not bad, really...)

Mavericks (not for the faint of heart -scripted by a fallen Mavs fan):
2009 trade deadline jeremiads: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
2009 NBA draft preview
2009 Mavs draft coverage: one, two, three, four, five
2009 FA coverage: none worth writing -
1. Mavs trade for 31yo Shawn Marion, the swingman they needed 5 years ago
2. Mavs lose their only effective post player to a team that did not overpay to get him
3. Mavs lost out on their latest high post center project
4. Mavs lose out on any decent free agent willing to sign for the exception
5. Junior still spending Cube's money.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bits, No Pieces

Just Because
Surprised to know that the Rangers' organization has been involved with 3 no hitters this season? Here they are:



TEXAS
Nice TR Sullivan piece on Cruz's ASG experience.


Oklahoma
Esteban German was a man among boys in the AAA ASG. He would have been the MVP if the PCL squad had pitched better. He was 3-4 with a double, 9th inning 2-run HR, 4 rbi, an error and a stolen base.

Bob Hersom has a nice review up of the Redhawk's first half.

Matt Patterson has a nice piece up on Nelson Cruz.


FRISCO
Frisco ASG. You know, I can't remember if I posted the recap here so here it is (from July 1). Gentry and Pena 0-2 and Kiker 1ip/1so. Poveda and Smoak were on the DL.

Blake Beavan has 4SO in his last 22.1 innings, and 2SO in his last 18 while his ground-out rate has doubled. Sounds like the 2-seamer has been brought back for July after is was ditched in May and June.

Nice piece on Tim Smith:

"We do describe him as a handsy-type guy," said head coach Mike Micucci. "He's got quick hands and quick bat coming through the zone. It's just basically how his swing works and what his thought process is to make his swing work. All the good hitters have good hands."


BAKERSFIELD
Kennil Gomez came off the DL for his start on Wednesday. To my knowledge that move was never posted or announced anywhere, his injury or his activation. And actually, this couldve been the second time that he has gone on the DL - who knows? - as his start was skipped between 6/21 and 6/29 as well.

That is the thing that really sucks about the Blaze's organizational FAIL, this dearth of info: they have no radio guy and they are administrtatively incompetent, failing to report their roster moves to the MiLB. Very weird. The lack of a radio voice really sucks given all of the inside info that you can glean from the games. The other shortcoming from that location is that they have no consistent press coverage, so that combined with the ORG - FAIL means you get zero team info over the course of the season. I sincerely hope that TX ditches that baseball black hole for 2010.

I have Gomez ranked very highly in my preliminary top 30 - 15ish - but if he is having a recurrence of last year's shoulder issues I might have to reclassify him as a reliever; I'm not sure his shoulder can take a starter's routine.


SPOKANE
Mike Vlahovich has a great article on 11th rounder Johnny Gunter. Their coach Tug Hulett had this to say:
“He’s a power guy,” said manager Tim Hulett. “We call him ‘Big Country.’ He just rears back and lets it fly.”

My thinking back on draft day was that both Andrew Doyle and Braden Tullis were both excellent values in the 4-8 range, as Doyle has a realistic ceiling as a #3 while Tullis has a realistic ceiling as a 4/5. Anytime you can get guys with mid-rotation ceiling in that range, great. Based on their season's to date, I still feel the same way, though recent rather breathless appraisals of Tullis' value in the blogosphere are a bit overstated.

Braden Tullis had (another) very nice start tonight. He had a 6 inning, 4-hit outing with a 10-1 go-ao ratio, 2walks and 6 strikeouts and maybe ONE full count. The most interesting thing about the game however was that the announcer was getting some errant velo info from the scoreboard or somewhere. As far into the game as the 3rd inning, he was calling the velo for both starting pitchers in the 97-100 range. Imagine my surprise at the first 97 reading for Tullis followed shortly by a 99 - WOW! After the third, however, without any acknowledgement of the issue that I heard, the velo reads for fastballs for both pitchers were in the more this-worldly 87-92 range...

Anyways, back to recent Tullis helium, recent claims that he was "the steal of the draft" (which draft, TX, MLB?) should be taken with a grain of salt. Another claim that "he is projected to add velo" is possible but given his mature frame - 6.2 200 - unlikely. In addition, given that most pitchers add velo due to improved mechanics as they progress through the system - especially during their second year -it can hardly be said to be an interesting insight that they may throw a tic harder 3 years down the line, no? In addition, given the history of more than a few of our top prospects in the last 3 years, it is also just as likely for them to _lose_ velo.

IMO Tullis was drafted exactly where he should have been drafted given that he profiled as a back rotation starter with present stuff, command and pitchability who could move quickly through the system. As a JC player, he was already highly regarded, as most second tier JC guys are drafted in the 6-10 range (1st tier generally 2-5 range; third tier 11-15; others post 20 range). Almost every decent (read, not elite) starter prospect profiles cconservatively as having mid-rotation ceiling and Tullis is no different, however his (like most) likely ceiling is as a 4/5: super athletic (in general), average fastball, 88-92, commands in and out, down in the zone; above-average command of all pitches; AA pitchability; AA changeup; AA curveball, throws for strikes as well as strikeouts. At present, no plus pitches.

In terms of improvements that he has seen since HS, he has improved his CB into an AA offering and he now touches 92 when he needs a strikeout. I'[m not sure about his change but it was reported to already be AA. Also, given his high GO rate, I wonder if the kid throws a 2-seamer or if his 4-seamer just has a lot of sink; it could be that he throws both - I guess we might not find out for sure until instructs. No reports on his mechanics, arm strength or arm speed that I have found.


ARIZONA
In an expected though belated move, J2 bonus-baby bust E. Solis demoted from Spokane. He was limited to DH'g since the arrival of Mendonca.



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Upcoming Posts

Over the next few days I will be doing a sytem-wide mid-season review of each minor league affiliate. At the conclusion of these, I will also have completely updated my prospect rankings and profiles attempting to integrate info from radio broadcasts/reports (for AAA thru Spokane) that I have collected over the last 2 months (profiles updated thru about 5/7 or so). The 2009 preseason/base profile for each prospect was already leavened with a healthy dose of game-day radio info from 2008 and a lot of sourced secondary materials. Anyways, stay tuned for these though they may roll out slowly.

If you haven't already taken a look at the "worksheet goodness" workbook pinned in the sidebar, you should; there is enough there to set your prospect pants aflame while you wait. Inside you will find: Top 100 rankings and profiles; Top 20 DSL players/profiles; List/specs of July2 '08 signs/projected bonuses; Profiles on most of the 2009 Ranger's draft class. If you have trouble accessing them leave a comment or drop me an email.

Oh, and somewhere within that caldron of prospecty rangers writing, I will post another worksheet ( I do love them) that summarizes all the signed/unsigned July2 bonus babies (with profiles when available) to date (that I can find) for all the MLB clubs.



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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aroldis Chapman Update

Here is A BA update on Aroldis Chapman which has his career stats. His control improved dramatically in year 3 but has plateaued in the frings average/below average area. Serie Nacional is Cuba's elite league FWI. Here is the entry in its entirety:


WHere in the World is Aroldis Chapman?

We’re still not sure exactly where Cuban lefthander Aroldis Chapman is, but at least we have narrowed it down to a continent.

Chapman has taken the next step toward a career in Organized Baseball with the hiring of an agent, following his defection from the Cuban national team on July 1 while in the Netherlands for the World Port Tournament. Athletes Premier International trumpeted its "representation and marketing agreement" with Chapman in a press release on Monday.

When asked where Chapman was and when he might sign, a spokesman responded: "Aroldis is currently with Edwin Mejia in Europe. We will announce where he plans to establish residency and his next steps as soon as that information is available."

Mejia is the founder of Athletes Premier International, and according to the company’s release is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and New York. The agency was established in 2006 and "represents historically underserved athletes from Latin America and the inner cities of the United States," the release says.

"Aroldis is a tremendous person and athlete," Mejia says in the release. "He is the highest-caliber athlete to sign with our agency, and it is an honor and a privilege to help him achieve his professional and personal goals."

The release confirms that Chapman is 21, though it says he was born on Feb. 28, 1988 in Cayo Mambi, Frank Pais, Holguin, Cuba. While that birthplace is consistent with previous reports, the birthdate is six months later than the one cited in other sources: Sept. 11, 1987.

The release says that Chapman’s wife and young daughter, as well as his parents and two sisters, remain in Cuba.

It also includes his career statistics from Cuba’s professional league, Serie Nacional, where he spent four seasons with Holguin:

Year
WLERAGGSSVIPHRERHRBBSOAVG
2005-06354.33151505448332655456.240
2006-07432.772312781592625450100.207
2007-08673.89161607455363233779.200
2008-091144.03222001181095653762130.252
TOTALS24193.747663732827115113619203365.227



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Chad Bell's no-hitter


14th round draft pick RH JC pitcher Chad Bell threw a 129 pitch no-hitter on 7/12 (hat tip to Jason Cole). He was having a nice season in the Cape and might have earned himself a little extra dough from TX should they wish to sign him. Here is the story, the box, and the team stats.



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Feliz dump


Neftali Feliz's FB _sat_ at 98.7 in his single inning of work ( 1bb, 0h, 2so) in the Future's Game. His FB was 98-101; his CB was 80-81; and his changeup was 88-89. Please note that there is an extraordinary 10mph range between these pitches; that is just sick. No matter where one comes down on the Ranger's decision to use both Holland and Feliz out of the pen this season, I have to say that I am excited to see Feliz throw that filthy stuff up there for the last 2 months of the season. I will also say, as I have said before, that moving Feliz to the pen does not remove him the competition for an spot on the 2010 opening day rotation due to a lack of innings; the club will send him to winter ball if they need to (which JD confirms below). There is really nothing that will keep him out of the rotation in my estimation.

OK so now, here is a dump of everything I could find related to his appearance including the video highlights:


As for the curveball and changeup, Feliz said: "They're much better. I'm just working on all my pitches and trying to get confidence in all my pitches. When the Rangers call me up, that's not my decision." "I've found out there's a big difference between starting and relieving," Feliz said before his one inning of work. "In the bullpen, you go out there for 1-2 innings and just go full bore. You don't have to hold anything back. As a starter, you may be going 5-6 innings. You have to hold back, throw all your pitches, think about situations, really work hitters."

"We feel he's got a chance to be a starter down the road, but was more likely to help us this year out of the 'pen based on where he is overall in his development," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's still just 21. If he can have success in this role, we've addressed a need internally, and he'll be able to get innings to work as a starter this winter and again starting next spring. It's easy to look at him, see the velocity and arm slot and say reliever, but we're not going to give up on him starting down the line."



In the middle of a nice piece on Kyle Drabeck's coming of age (Kiker says hello from Frisco) there was this Feliz musing:

Neftali Feliz, an electric-armed righty in the Texas organization, is pitching relief for Triple-A Oklahoma City, and speculation abounds that he will join fellow prospect Derek Holland in Texas after the break as the Rangers go full-bore after their first playoff berth since 1999.The scouting community is divided on whether Feliz is better suited for starting or closing. For each talent evaluator who thinks that Feliz's lack of a consistent curveball could be an impediment to him leading a rotation, there's another who's convinced he has the talent to be a front-of-the-rotation starter."That's about as easy an upper-90s fastball as you're going to see,'' said a National League scout. "The ball just jumps out of his hand. He's a special guy.''


Law and Grey chimed in with their post-game review (no video clips) with a nod to Feliz though they were apparently wathing the slow stadium gun rather than sitting with scouts.


Mayo has a review of the Futures roster prior to the game with video of Feliz.



BP's John Perrotto has this:

Well, I can certainly see why the Rangers are excited about what Neftali Feliz can bring to their long-suffering pitching staff. He blew away Eric Young Jr. and Desmond Jennings to start the inning then made some tough pitches to Brett Wallace before walking him on a full count before finishing the inning by getting Chris Carter to hit a soft liner back to the mound. Impressive stuff right there.


... and BP's Kevin Goldstein:

The biggest addition to the Rangers down the stretch might be Neftali Feliz. While walking one and striking out two in his scoreless inning, Feliz was pumping gas at 97-98 mph while touching triple digits on numerous occasions. The Rangers need help in the bullpen, and the good news is that they don't need to make a trade to alter the long-term plan. Feliz will not only help, he might be closing by September.




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