Monday, August 31, 2009

Roster Moves

TX
Salty has reportedly regressed and is unlikely to get called up this week if at all with surgery being a likely option for him. Richardson will be added to the 40 on Tuesday. Wonder who the third catcher will be for the week? C-Grade, Hogan, Vinny...?


AAA
Frostad place on inactive list (WBC).
Ryan Freel released.
Signed the following FA as warm bodies to finish out the week:
3b Justin Leone, LHP Chris Cooper (Italian lg!), Rhp Mike Wood


Spokane
No confirmation on the Ortiz and Garcia promotions yet.


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Roster Moves

AAA
Smoak to the inactive list (Baseball World Cup)

AA
Jose Diaz back to DL; Phillips activated (hamstring)

LowA
Fry activated from the DL

Spokane
Telis promoted (yesterday); Jason Cole reports that Mike Ortiz and my man EasyEddie Garcia are in Spokane as well, though nothing announced as of yet. I look forward to hearing actual play by play accounts of them both over the next 7 games - I'm most interested in seeing if Garcia can stick at short.

EasyEddie Garcia gets no press but he is as much of a prospect as Tater Telis, hence the promotion. Telis just had a scorching August but EasyE had a scorching July and led the team in TB until his mid-August swoon. That's right, you heard me, a shortstop led the team in TB for most of the season until overtaken late by Ortiz and Telis. And Ortiz doesn't count (third yr). EasyE and TaterT, DSL Duo.





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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Moscoso to start DH?

Just ran across this Warsh quote (FWST):

McCarthy for Tuesday

The Rangers have penciled right-hander Brandon McCarthy into their pitching plans for the doubleheader Tuesday against Toronto. Dustin Nippert is also listed for one of the two games.

Derek Holland will open the series Monday, and Tommy Hunter will pitch the finale Wednesday. Washington, though, cautioned that the Rangers’ probables for the doubleheader aren’t set in stone.

"The two guys in the doubleheader, one of them could change," he said.


I wonder if Moscoso is in the mix here in lieu of Nippert. He is on the same schedule as BMac and is scheduled to pitch for OKC on Monday. Just saying...



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Friday, August 28, 2009

DSL2 Eliminated 5-3

Randol Rojas goes 4.1 innings, 4 hits, 3ER in the loss (box score not up yet).

Here is a gallery of 5-6 pics of the DSL2 squad.

The division all-star teams were announced. The San Pedro de Macoris division only has 5 teams, 2 of them from the Rangers, so it hardly seems fair:

Santiago Hill, 2b
Yefrey Castillo, C (he has moved off the position playing both 2b, LF in second half)
Teo Martinez, CF (league leader in SB)
Jose Mateo, OF
Johnny Gomez, 1b
Fredo Chalas, DH (he's a MIF, likely 2b in AZL)
Randol Rojas, starter
MDLS, bullpen
Tingler, coach


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Roster Moves

AA
Laughter activated from DL.
Kiker placed on temp. inactive list (?)

LowA
Fry to the DL


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DSL2 loses first playoff game 2-0; Randy Rojas wins pitcher of the year

The Rangers' DSL2 club lost the first game of their playoff series vs MN and must win today to stay alive in the 3-game set.

Two of the Ranger's best DSL arms put forward very nice efforts but the offense was shut down. Denny Peralta went 7 with 6 hits zero walks and 7 strikeouts while Jose "Arlett" Mavare went 2 striking out 5 on zero hits/walks. Interesting to note that Abreu did not start and ended the season as he began, on an epic slump. Speedster Teo TMart Martinez led the offense with 4 hits on 3 doubles! while the rest of the team managed only 2 more. I'm thinking Randy Rojas starts game 2 today, and it is a good thing, as he is among the best pitching prospects in the league.

The DSL also named their players/pitchers of the year and all-stars this week. My numero uno TX DSL prospect RHP Randol Rojas (DSL2) has just been named DSL Pitcher of the Year (one of 2). Supermega impresivo! Chevere! Bacan! Quite an honor and I look forward to getting some scouting reports on him during instructs or spring training as he will surely be an invite. As such, Rojas was also named to the league's all-star team along with Miggie de los Santos, who at 22(?), surely should not have qualified, and was a man among boys to be sure. Jayce Tingler was named Manager of the year in what, I think, is his third down south.

As I noted before, it would not surprise me to see Leo Gil, Rojas, and Mavare skip the AZL altother. Denny Peralta could as well as long as he secures a visa.

As a side note, the Texas contingent (Tingler, Gomez, Tmart) of the DSL all-star game did not seem to make it to the proceedings and I am guessing that they got rained out though the game went ahead - there were (are) some torrential downpours this year.



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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More good news

on the injury front: Smitty and Engel both started rehabs stints in Arizona tonight. Not sure why Smitty was not included in the AFL squad but maybe he takes that last spot - don't think it has to be a pitcher. He has missed about half the season and his last 2 weeks before he was DL'd he was hurt too badly to hit (.149) due to his rib injury and their is no doubt he can hit, as he was hitting about .400 his first 3 weeks in AA. So, he needs some at bats to prove to everyone else g that he'll be a better pro than Mitchie 'Moe Moreland.

Staying in Arizona, speedy second basemen Alex Gonzo Gonzalez has slid over to the SS spot to spell Easy Eddie Garcia tonight. Might be the first time this season he has played the spot though he might have played the position a bit last year in his DSL debut (after all, Eddie T-Mart Martinez played short in his 07 DSL debut, Second in AZ in 08 and moved back to short during his time in Hickory this year). I wonder what his shortstop chops are like? I'm not sure why I like this kid but he seems like a gamer and I usually avoid cliches like that more than most: The newest thomas-Berkery-super- utility -org- guy -impersonator and catcher turned infielder William OConnor (09 UDFA) manned second (and variously on the season: 3B, C, 1B).

If you haven't read my piece on Trevor Hurley, read it. He is having another nice start, just came out for the 7th inning (cough, giving up a leadoff double). However, that makes it now a _Two-hitter_. Judging by his velo, it looks like he is throwing both a CB and a Slider now - 4 potent pitches for the youngster by my count - along with his change and effectively changing speeds on his FB. With the depth in the system though, you just have to wonder how the hell they find room for him on either A-squad rotation next year. The rotations by my count could look like this:

HighA (hoping it is not still in Bakersfield)
Main, Bell, Doyle, Hurley, Brigham, Scheppers- ext (AA?)
Hickory
Boscan, Pimentel, Font, Ross, Thompson, Tullis, Wieland, NeRa

In this A-Ball scenario, the most advanced pitchers are placed in HighA and the youngsters asked to stick (or repeat) in LowA for some or all of the season. Could end up being exactly the reverse, but if you start with all of the youngsters in HighA instead, the college pitchers (Doyle, Bell, Hurley, Scheppers) won't be able to move up a level as most of the young kids are unlikely to get promoted to AA to open up some spots. And besides, all of these guys pitched in LowA at 19, so pitching at least a half a season at age 20 there, with no pitch limits this time, won't hinder their development in any way IMO.

Honestly, where to put all of these guys? If you thought projecting last year's system-wide rotations was hard... Just for the heck of it:

ARIZONA
Jamison, McBride, Blackwell, Strong, Carlos Ramirez, Luis Parra, T-KAhn, Randol Rojas, Leo Gil
(Swing Starters/Long-men: Danniel Rody, Aaron Thompson)
SPOKANE
Erlin, Melo, Escobar, Alvarez, Juan "the better" Grullon, Zeke Rijo, J. Mavare, Ayenil Mendoza (visa?), Denny Peralta (visa?) ( Campbell, Hunter - swing starters between A-/A if they want to see if they can stick as starters, otherwise, setup guys - they both have good stuff but with command issues)


Ridiculous.


One passing note: Matt Harrison beats out Tommy Hunter for a ML rotation spot next year with Tommy Hunter sticking in AAA to start the season. In my mind, the LHP who throws 92-95 (who looked dominant before he got hurt) has a higher ceiling than Hunter, whose stuff could very well look a bit more pedestrian next year when the league goes in for a second look. I know what the counter arguments are, just a gut feeling. If Hunter can throw his 4-S more next year and with more consistent juice (90-94), he could be even better, or at least keep ahead of the league's adjustments to him (and his cutter), as more separation between his 4s/2s offerings will make all of his pitches better. Whoever loses that fight ends up in the AAA rotation anyways as the 6th starter on the depth chart, and you have to feel pretty good about that.





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Yusei Kikuchi news

Here are a few articles on Japanese HS pitcher Yusei Kikuchi's impending decision on opting out of the NPB draft that takes place on 10/31. He has until 10/15 to notify teams if he plans to opt out and sign with an ML club. Texas' Pacific Rim scout Jim Colburn has been seen at some of his team's games.

His situation is different than Tazawa's when he opted out last year to sign with Boston.
Tazawa went undrafted out of HS and went on to play in an amateur/minor league. Kikuchi would be the highest profile defection from the NPB to date being the first HS kid to chose to develop his wares in the US while Tazawa was a groundbreaking move by someone who had already turned pro (and the first Japanese player to opt out).

The Tazawa rule was put into effect after his decesion that essentially bans a player from the NPB for 3 years _after_ he leaves the MLB, so really, it is an effective ban on returning at all in one's prime. Tazawa's departure sent shockwaves through their hermetic system.

Kikuchi is close to announcing his decision and should garner a 7 figure deal with some reports saying he's staying and some that he's opting out. He throws 88-92, curveball, slider, screwball with a 3/4 armslot. Expect a decision within a week or so:






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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WOW!

Michael Main back in action tonight! Great news indeed. Gets one inning of work and strikes out the side for the AZL club. Probably sticks with AZ but who knows maybe they plug him into the Blaze pen for their playoff run. Might he be the PiTBNL for the AFL squad?


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New International signings? Maybe.

I really like this quote from JD's latest chat over at the DMN:

We've moved on - we'll get the draft pick back next year, will spend some of that $ on additional international signings, and continue to fill the system with talent otherwise.


Sounds like a declaration rather than a throw-away comment. If you consider the idea that Scheppers was drafted with the approval of Hicks, with the idea that it might take 2 million to sign him, then that money is separate from the 4 million that may have been budgeted for their first round pick proper. That 4 million is still there ready to be spent whereas the 2 million for Scheppers is only for him and goes away if he isn't signed. Could that mean then that they have about 3 million to sign any # of the remaining international free agents that they like? Maybe they could enter into the Sano sweeps or angle for Noel Arguelles for a 4 yr /8 million contract? It is surely no coincidence that David Perez was signed not soon after the Purke debacle. At the very least, you just might see a couple more signs in the 550-750 range (Beltre, Ferreira, Perdomo) or they may wait and try to compete for a couple of the elite Japanese arms who may withdraw from the NPB draft (10/31). At least 3 of those guys will probably garner a 2 million bonus. Very interesting to see how this plays out.



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AFL players announced

Per TRS:

The Rangers are sending the following players to the Arizona Fall League

P Thomas Diamond, P Brennan Garr, P Evan Reed, C Doug Hogan, IF Marcus Lemon, OF Mitch Moreland

Plus a pitcher to be named later.


Here is a very handy link to the winter league stats for TX players in 2007 and 2008. Overall, the talent level in the AZL this year seems to be unparalleled when compared to the last few years. When looking at how to evaluate the league as a whole, think of it as being between AAA and AA but with more high ceiling players and fewer veterans (with major league exper) than either league taken in isolation. When looking at the Caribbean leagues, think of them as being between AAA and AA, with more veteran international players, fewer high ceiling US guys, while being "hitter friendly" as they say.

Interesting that Moe is supposed to be healthy enough to participate. If all goes well with him in winter ball and for AAA during the first half of 2010, he could see action in the second half next year or make a nice trade chip (during the winter meetings or in July). Smitty should be in this list for sure.

Also interesting to see that Diamond, Garr and Reed are this year's Bannister, Eyre, Nippert and Kometani. The attempt to fast-track or recuperate relievers generally indicates that their careers are at a crossroads. I think that for Garr and Diamond that is definitely the case with both being major disappointments this year. Garr was projected to start the year in AAA and profiled as a setup guy who might have helped the club in 2009. Instead, he flopped in spring training and was demoted to HighA.

Diamond, who was demoted to the bullpen and then to AA after a few bad AAA starts, has had below average command now for the last 1 1/2 years/seasons now and if I'm in charge I am covetously looking at his 40 spot come December. If he does poorly, he may lose his spot though it doesn't seem like there will be much of a 4o-man numbers conundrum at that time.

Evan Reed was a third-round bust as a starter and has had problems with his command as a closer so it isn't really clear what the future holds with him. I'm hoping that whatever scouting consensus there is/was about projecting college bullpen arms as ML starters has been been thoroughly vivesected via the poor showings made by Reed and Murphy in their second years. Both players had known mechanical issues and limited experience as starters. I will say that Murphy was a consensus second rounder and could still work out next year as a starter though it seems more likely that he will also become another late inning bullpen arm come 2010. That's not a bad thing, as the attritition rate for starting prospects is sky high, with many of the best relievers being former starters, but it is disappointing.

Hogan is an interesting choice though he seems to be an org guy but he did miss a month on the DL. He has made better contact than I eXpected this year though. Lemon has slumped badly in the second half both in ave and plate discipline so maybe they are trying to get him on track or maybe they are trying to figure out if he can handle AAA next year. I wouldnt' think so but there you go.

As for the P(itcher)TBNL? What about Kiker in an attempt to work on his command and consistency, possibly with the eye to take a look at him in a LH setup role? I seem to be one of the few who really like the idea of Kiker in that role, where his plus changeup and above average FB command (should he command it, which he hasn't done well this yr unlike in 2008, and with a tick more velo, say 90-92) will play nicely. Once you dig into his #s, he has been extremely inefficient as a starter this year. Given his innings totals this year, probably unlikely, but, any chance that i can talk about Kiker to the pen, I usually take it.

I wouldn't expect Strop to be that guy due to his elbow or Mags who has nothing left to prove except that he has the makeup to keep a late inning role in the bigs. It will assuredly be a reliever. Keep Justin Miller in mind, a setup guy, throwing 92-95 who has spent most of the season on the DL. Laughter could go, being on the DL for 1/2 the year, but I don't particularly care for him as a prospect. Or, fingers crossed, Scheppers...



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Monday, August 24, 2009

J2 Chisme

According to at least one report:

Miguel Nunez is leaning towards Boston or NYY.
Rafael de Paula is leaning towards Japan with NYY highly interested.
David Perez has the same agency as de Paula though that doesn't seem to be swaying their camp.
Perez's stock was down due to velo fluctations that some have attributed to a change his throwing mechanics this year. Some also wonder about his failure to throw any harder now than when he was 15 (86-89). AT 6.4/180, you'd think TX can iron all of this out to take advantage of his ideal frame so I don't think it should be much of an issue.



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DSL Playoffs

begin on Wednesday for the Rangers2 juggernaut as they finished the season with the best record in the 09 summer season. I am working on a DSL season in review article in the interim. As I noted in previous DSL missives, TX tapped into a nice vein of Venezuelan catching with their 08 signs, 2 of whom will likely debut in the AZL next year. Also, as noted previously, the DSL clubs have become Venezuelan-heavy now beginning last year and culminating this year. Finally, the 2008 signing class is without question, the best collection of position players (as a class) in the last 5 years, maybe 15 (though I can't say that for sure, perhaps since the early nineties). You will see a great # of these kids in the AZL next year so when people complain about the position depth in the system, just tell them that it will all be in the short-season leagues nex year.

In the meantime, here is my list of DSL players to watch for next year (and in the playoff series):

Pitchers:
Randol Rojas, Jose Mavare, Leo Gil, Carlos Ramirez, Luis Parra
Expect one or more of Rojas, Mavare, and Gil to debut in Spokane next year; any of those three could've handled an assignment to AZL this year. Rojas is a beast. Peralta has had a fine year, but his failure to make it state-side this year makes me think that he (and Ayenil Mendoza and Kelvin de Leon, though both could be injured not having pitched at all this yr) has visa issues. Parra migh stay in DSL2 for one more year as his control has been horrible but his hit and strikeout rates are great.

Hitters:
C: Luis Reyes, Carlos Oropesa (DSL1)
MIF: Alfredo Chalas (07 sign), David Herrera, Santiago Hill
OF: Teo Martinez, Hector Martinez, Franciso Lugo
Everyone but Lugo and H-Mart (can't hit lhp) might debut in the AZL next year. Oropesa is hitting about .400 in the last month and has also played 1b/3b so it isnt clear that he sticks at catcher but he palyed most of the season at age 16. It is not certain yet whether or not any of the MIF can stick at shortstop, something we won't know until next year. What is certain is that playing time will be at a minimum for these three if Sardinas and Profar debut in the AZL next year as expected which might necessitate leaving 1 or 2 on the DSL2 squad for an extra year.

Sleeper:
3b, Robert Morillo
Simply mashing the ball the last month at about a .500 clip and tons of XBH. Could be a nice find if he can stick at the corner and get a visa.

The Official "Emmanuel Solis" Alert:
will repeat the DSL next year to see if he can get a clue. Latin American "Power" hitters who sign for less than 7-figures usually break out in DSL year 2 if they do at all. (If anyone can find the spray chart that I found for the Abreu piece, please link me to it - I can't find it anymore. )


PS: Don't forget that TX has actually signed _THREE_ shortstops this J2 period if you include VZ Luis Mendez, reportedly a " savvy " player with good hands at 5.10/180. No word on his bonus but expect it to be in the 125k range.



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Friday, August 21, 2009

Who is Luis Sardinas?

I don't know but I'm not the least bit unnerved that his name, unlike Profar's, isn't swirling around the mouths of prospecters or front office people or blogs or top 30s. Why? Well, as a general rule, well, my rule, 16yo Venezuelans are more advanced as baseball players than in other LA countries outside of Cuba. It is a safe bet that Sardinas is an elite prospect and, like Profar, one of the top LA shortstops in this year's class. While Profar is a special kid from a small island that that might produce an elite player once every 5 years, Venezuela, on the other hand, produces a handful of those each and every year. So one should instead look at the situation in the obverse: Knowing that _Profar_ got Sardinas money (and not the reverse) makes me pretty confidant that Profar is the real deal as a SS (rather than a pitcher); Profar was the one we had reason to worry about in the end. It is quite an organizational coup getting first -round -caliber shortstops in and of itself . Both kids should be considered elite prospects based on the money that TX chose to pay them, that is, first-round money in the 15-20 range. Big-time signings.

UPDATE: Here is BA's Profile on Sardinas:
Sardinas, who hails from Puerto Ordan, has a classic wiry shortstop frame. He should stay at shortstop, as scouts across the board say he has very good hands and good range, while some scouts have seen him throw better than others. Sardinas came to the United States in mid-June for the Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome in Minnesota, where he ran a 6.83 in the 60-yard dash there, but some scouts say they have seen him run 6.6 and 6.7. Some scouts say Sardinas struggled with the bat earlier this year, but those who have seen him recently have said he's hit well in front of them in game situations, to the point where he's the uncommon high-profile Latin American prospect who looks better in games than he does in BP. The latest buzz from Latin America is that the Rangers are expected to land Sardinas, possibly for a seven-figure bonus.



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David Perez

According to at least one report, TX has signed Dominican RHP David Perez. He reportedly checks in at 6.4 180, can spin a CB and knows what to do when they tell him "now, throw a change-up" in his workouts, while his fastball sits in the high 80's. He reportedly has more refinement/pitchability than most Dominican pithers. All that for 425K. Wasn't really a guy on the "top 30" lists but he was on the periphery, though he seems like he shouldve been now that we have just a tiny bit more info. I'll say this, _any_ Dominican pitcher who has present "pitchability" and projects to have an average fastball is a good sign (in both senses). In this case, couple pitchability with an ideal pitchers frame at 6.4 180 and this could be a really nice sign and a guy who could end up sporting well above-average heat.

Compare that to reports about both Escobar and Alvarez that suggested each had limited projection, and Perez's projectible frame coupled with pitchability is really the ideal package for a 16yo. Whether his secondary stuff truly is as advanced as both of our Venezuelan teens (and surely it is not), well, we might catch a glimpse as soon as instructs (and possbily, pitching bullpens right next to one another). Speaking of instructs, how nice is it that our first glimpse of both Sardinas and Profar is only a matter of weeks away - though treat with some skepticism the breathless (or dire) reports that are sure to come. Second glimpse will come soon as well: both will skip the DSL and debut for the AZL club to begin 2010.

According to another source, TX outbid at least one other team, San Diego. It could be that, like Escobar last year, his velo was down this spring and the offers weren't there at the deadline. All these kids are on a weekly workout/showcase cycle so he may have looked better with improved velo of late, generating a little more interest and at least one winning bid:)

UPDATE - Here is a snippet from BA (June) about Perez:
David Perez is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound righthander from Santo Domingo, D.R., who has been shown in tryouts with catcher Gary Sanchez. Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, Perez pitches at 86-89 mph, though in recent months his velocity had dipped slightly. Perez, 16, also has a curveball and a changeup.

It is possible that he has switched to some variation of a 3/4 arm slot in the last year but I'm not sure about this. We'll have to wait and see TX opts to change it in the off-season.


J2 Pitching chisme-
Other than the Perez sign not much has changed since my last report. The Perez signing might mean that Leo Perdomo and Miguel Nunez might have moved out of the 350-550 area that I presume TX is working within right now. These 2 guys might sign in the next week to 10 days and are both showcasing themselves at the various academies; I bet they get 550-750 but it really depends on how depressed the market is right now and how much Boston and NY want to spend on any remaining guys. Remember that Boston lost its top sign LHP Victor Payano (900k) after he failed his physical so they are still players in this market.

According to some sources, TX has/had interest in both while the Pirates, NYY and Boston like Nunez and the Pirates also like Perdomo. Various teams including TX (and NYY, Boston, Oakland, FL) like Rafael DePaula and his plus fastball (or better) despite the fact that he is suspended. He is still showcasing himself for teams so the suspension is not thwarting interest in any way.

No other word on Noel Arguellez the 19-20yo Cuban LHP who is, in my opinion, the best guy on the market at present but then he is sort of in a different category at his age and experience level and might be too pricey for TX. Kiley McDaniels report some weeks ago that he had a really nice workout was wrong (or scout-based misinfo): he was reportedly out of shape and his velo was way down.


That's all I got...



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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BA's Best Tools: A Ball

TX showing its defensive chops:

(CAL) Best defensive 2B: Matt Lawson He can also make enough contact hit .300 but he seems to have ZERO plate discipline... Was one of my preseason breakout/sleeper picks, with good def. chops and the potential to hit .300

(SAL) Best Infield Arm: Leury Garcia
If the kid can figure out how to hit he could be a legit prospect but right now profiles a utility guy due to his lack of hit tools. He is one to watch at ony 18 and TX has manhandled his career thus far on the surface yo-yo'ing him to and fro. Given how raw he is at the plate, they should have just took it more slowly with the kid - AZL to Spokane to Hickory...


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Erik Morrison and Jonathan Greene Promoted

to HighA and AA respectively. Keeping Morrison in LowA for the whole season was a sin against nature while I wonder if Greene sinks or swims vs AA pitching.


UPDATE: Guardado DL'd, "Air" called up. Playoff roster maneuvering?
Warner "Mags" Madrigal has truly lost his sheen since last year as Moscoso and Eyre have move ahead of him on the AAA to Arlington bullpen shuttle. The only thing that could be worse for him is if Diamond and Mendoza get the call next ...

UPDATE DOS:

Cruz will not return from his rehab for tonight's game for some odd reason. C Carlos Dominguez has been released. His shoulder is shot and he only played part-time last year so the writing was on the wall. Pudge VS LHP this year: .303/.313/.500.


Near as I can tell, there is little to support this pov expressed by Callis(that Scheppers has 'major' issues with his shoulder) in his latest chat other than a hack article by JMayo about a month ago:

Scheppers has barely seen any game action in the last 15 months and there are major questions about his shoulder, so those are impediments to a deal. I'd have a hard time going over slot ($776,700) for him if his shoulder is still dicey.


If this were true he would not have been drafted in the top 2 rounds for 2 years in a row and offered 2 million last year when there really were legit questions about his shoulder. As for slot money for Scheppers that is just stupid. He's 7 figures at 1.5-2.1 million or he's going to Japan.




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OKC no hit


by four pitchers last night, headlined by 21yo Jhoulys Chacin over 5 innings in his AAA debut.



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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pedro Strop promoted


I wonder if we can optimisitically call this an audition for a playoff roster spot? I hope so. He is the only legit closer prospect in the system at the moment with 3 plus pitches coupled unfortunately with erratic command/mechanics. However, this is his first year back from elbow surgery (fracture at tip of elbow, not TJ) after missing most of last year so it isn't clear to which factors we can attribute his troubles his year: surgery, mechanics, inexperience/lack of innings. It is likely all of the above. If he can put it together - and i think it is more reasonable to expect it to happen next season, after a healthy off-seaon and full spring training - he can be a stud and close when/if CJ or FranFran move on.

In other notes:

Draft: No one else signed at draft deadline; 17th round LHP Strong signs for 300K; Scheppers has legit leverage and it has nothing to do with Purke - think Japan.

TX: Moscoso promoted, German DL'd, Peguero signed as FA, Pudge reacquired and added to the other hackers in the lineup (93g: .280OBP, 14BB) for Nevarez, Vallejo and possibly a PTBNL. Both Benoit and Harrrison started pitching in the last few days. McCarthy could be ready to pitch 7innings/100pitches by his scheduled start on 8/31. Expect him to be called up and added to the bullpen by that date. Both Pudge and Cruz should be activated for Wednesdays game. Salty with a definitive TOS diagnosis per his specialist (per SWST).

UPDATE: On the post-game TV broadcast lat night, they said that Salty has the less serious nerve-related TOS rather than the circulatory-related TOS. This means that he might be able to avoid surgery altogether if he improves by season's end.

AAA: Vaughan demoted, Fox promoted, Piguero signed as FA

AA: Sarmiento promoted, Pina to DL (or injured at the very least)

HighA: Hogan promoted, Quintero demoted, Tufts promoted

LowA: DiFazio promoted; Koncel promoted (for some reason); Alfonzo DL'd

Spokane: Wilkins promoted

AZL: Erlin activated



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Monday, August 17, 2009

Purke Update

from FWST's Jeff Wilson with a nugget that runs counter to Klaw -

Just about 13 hours to go until the 11 p.m. deadline to sign 2009 draft choices, and the Rangers continue to negotiate with first-round choice Matt Purke. The left-hander has been in town since last week, getting ready for a possible freshman year at TCU and also taking a physical and attending Saturday's Rangers game with his parents. He met with several members of the club brass, who believe a deal will be reached.


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Purke 'n Porcello

via BA - just because -

Porcello, RHP, 4yr, 7.3million with 3.5mil bonus plus two 1-yr options totalling 11.1 million
The top pitcher in the long awaited, much anticipated high school Class of 2007, Porcello was tabbed as a can't-miss prospect by the time he was a 15-year-old on the showcase circuit. His maternal grandfather, Sam Dente, played shortstop in the majors, appearing in the 1954 World Series with the Indians. Porcello has shown steady improvement during his prep career, and was pitching at his best heading down the stretch, tossing a seven-inning perfect game for the nation's No. 1 high school team in May. He's long, lean, athletic and projectable with a clean delivery. His fastball sits at 93-95, touching 98. He holds his velocity deep into outings. He throws a tight curveball at 74-76 and a harder, sharp-breaking slider at 80-82. He shows feel for his changeup. He can spot his fastball to both sides of the plate, and mixes his pitches effectively. He tends to finish his delivery across his body, and if he improved his extension, his stuff could have better life, which would make him profile as a true top-of-the-rotation pitcher. He still is likely to be the first high school pitcher selected.

Purke, LHP, 6.3 180
Purke rivals Tyler Matzek as the best lefthanded pitching prospect in this draft. He already throws a 92-95 mph fastball and could throw harder as he adds strength to his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He backs up his heater with a hard slider that ranks among the best in the prep draft class. He doesn't have much experience throwing a changeup because he hasn't needed one. Last summer, Purke needed just nine pitches to work a perfect inning at the Aflac All-American Game and started the gold-medal game for Team USA at the World Junior Championship in Canada (albeit taking a 7-0 loss against Korea). Matzek has moved ahead of Purke for most clubs because he works with less effort. Purke throws from a low three-quarters angle that adds life and deception, but he has slinging action in his delivery. It's not violent, but it's not smooth either. Purke's stuff, track record and strong makeup combine to make him an upper-first-round talent, though teams still were trying to gauge his signability. If he follows through on his commitment to Texas Christian, he'd be eligible again as a sophomore in 2011.


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Sunday, August 16, 2009

tRA on Fangraphs

tRA is on Fangraphs now. Nice. They use different batted ball data than StatCorner so it will be interesting to see how much variation there is. But, among many other interesting stats, StatCorner still offers both regressed and scaled tRA.

What is tRA?
It's official


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bits, No Pieces

Ken Rosenthal quotes Salty as saying "we are leaning toward nerve inflammation" regarding his shoulder problems and that TX is scouring the trade market for another backup. Add that, to the fact that TX seems to be looking for a bargain bench bat as well per one of his previous posts.

UPDATE(various reports): Salty's symptoms seem similar to TOS but after talking to Harry and Blalock, he doesn't think it is the same thing. More tests to come next week but the Doc says that he doesn't think he can injure his arm if he keeps playing and is taking a "2 weeks of rest" approach to see if he can gain anymore strength in the arm. So he is out until 9/1 at least, and you would expect him to avoid surgery if possible until after the season so that he can be part of the playoff race, given he can't injure his arm any further. But if he can't throw, he can't throw....

Also, Patrick Newman, suggests that a Scheppers to Japan deal is unlikely but his argument seems to be that Scheppers is grandstanding and isn't really serious. However, as I suggested, if he signs a one-yr deal with a Japanese club ("he is auditioning for about 1/2 dozen clubs") he can come back in 2011 and make bank as a FA. In this scenario, his signing bonus is irrelevant.



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According to various sources:

Salty to the DL.
Kevin Richardson up from AAA.
Robbie Erlin makes his first appearance for the AZL club today.
Max Ramirez activated from DL, assigned to AAA.
Paul Strong signs (hat tip to Newberg's Ming; no $$$ reported but it will be 300-500k for sure) - I think a Strong signing might indicate that TX is unwilling to meet Lemke's demand for 500K.
Kinsler in the lineup batting 6th.
Matt Purke took his physical Friday.
RF prospect Riley Cooper has _actually_ signed, yesterday or today (per evan grant, no $$$ confirmed) a day after it reportedly happened.

TX staff watched Scheppers throw on Thursday or Friday. He also threw for Japanese scouts then or some other day this week. This is no joke money-wise. Japanese clubs should be regarded as very real competitors for his services. They can drop 2-3 million (or more) on a one-year deal if they want to. The only real question is, are they willing to do a one-year deal, as Scheppers will surely want to return to the states as a FA and cash in on a long term deal not hemmed in by draft signing rules and practices. It could be a HUGE deal for him financially. So the issue, IMHO, is, will Japanese clubs be willing to go only one year.

As a side-note, Japanese clubs have developmental academies all over the globe - Taiwan, S.Korea, Australia, European states, Brazil (the next great talent reservoir?), the Domincan and other Latin American states. They might also have an embryonic presence in China and India, and there is a movement afoot(and a new Pacific Rim league in fact) to attempt to increase youth interest in baseball in those two countries. I wonder if TX has any contract scouts in Brazil, China, India, Europe?

Other notes:
Vin DiFazio played last night so apparently had no ill-effects from getting plunked on Thursday.

It sucks that both Moe and Smitty are down for the count but they could see a winter ball assignment if they can get healthy in the next 6 weeks. I imagine a broken foot might not heal in time. Furthermore, it might be difficult to get Moe and Smitty (rib issues) roster spots in the _middle_ of a winter league season considering that the Latin American and Major League selections for each roster are done pretty carefully to balance out club needs and playing time, that is, the WL club and the ML team try to carefully balance out selections so that there is enough playing time available to benefit both parties.

So there may be no guarantee that they can find a spot if they are not healthy once the season begins especially given that they might have to defer sending someone else due to the limitations on the number of players each team can send.


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Friday, August 14, 2009

Mitch Moreland out for year

fouled a ball off of his foot last night and flat out broke it. Wow. Both Moe and Smitty out for the year.

Majewski sent back down to take his spot as MaxRam activated for AAA.



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Wow !! Chad Bell gets

450K (if you believe Callis).

I'm not particularly high on the kid, but it is hard to get much info on whether he made some sort of dramatic breakthough in summer ball. And even if he did, it is only an elite summer league which might not even be equivalentin talent to Shortseason ball. Take his summer for what it is. But clearly, if this figure is right, TX likes him alot - that it Robbie Erlin money, late second, early third. WOW.

I will be interested to see if he can come right into Spokane or HIckory and throw a few innings out of the bullpen so we can get a sense if there is anything to like about his fastball(maybe some late movement, nice deception, a couple of extra tics on the velo). Callis' velo range seems a little high, based on some game reports and BAs own draft report. Callis says he was throwing 89-91 while every other report i have read said he was only in the high 80s.

But the cool thing about players is that they refuse to give in to their prescribed taxonomic fate, in this case, soft-tossing pitchability lefty, limted ceiling, limited projetion. They may think that Bell might make some quick and substantive improvement with some tinkering that has surely been discussed and already talked about among TX staff (maybe even with him). I have to think that they believe he has a realistic ceiling of a mid-rotation starter, a ceiling that is reachable fairly quickly.

It will be fun to follow these kids and see how things play out, to see if we might draw some conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of the TX scouting braintrust. They have a mixed record to be sure, but at this point, one can say, that each year, they go into the draft with a very clear sense of the needs within the system. This year they went with risky, toolsy, raw position players while also taking greater risks on HS pitchers, comforted by the idea of a combined 30+ legit rotation prospects from AAA to DSL.

Ok, well having said all of that, I feel that I gotta stick to my guns with Bell and stay with my Mike Ballard comp - and hope I'm wrong.


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Suck it Callis! Cooper has _not_ signed

which is what JD (and staff) have been saying for a week now:

'The Rangers signed their 24th round pick, Sean Blackwell, but not outfielder Riley Cooper. He is the wide receiver from the University of Florida who is planning to play his senior year of football and then play for the Rangers.
His signing keeps getting reported but Daniels said it is not done yet.
"We're moving down that path," Daniels said. "We expect it to get done but don't have it done yet."'


Why would they sign the guy for 250K to begin with? I don't think he's worth that much but then again if TX scouts think he is then keep spending Hicks' money until the well runs dry(not including the Purke/Scheppers pot of gold of course).

As for speculation that "overpaying" picks is a sign of a Purke/Scheppers impasse? Nonsense. You just don't pick'em unless you think you can sign them, as the club has said repeatedly. Furthermore, as I have already stated, the signings of some guys over others at this stage is more likely a sign that they are at an impasse with higher value picks like Lemke, Strong, Revelle, Schaaf, Warmiuk, Garrett, Kendrick who are asking for a lot, say 500K. Are any of those guys 200K more valuable than Blackwell? 100k more than Erlin? 250k more than Doyle? Equal to Mendoca's slot bonus? Probably not, and I say that even though I really like some of those picks.

Lastly, if anyone out in the interwebs who is a long-standing Rangers fan complains about going over slot to sign some kids, just stop: take off the hominid outfit already, come on, you know, the bipedal suit with opposable digits, stereoscopic vision, and the larger brain case and get back into the proper branch of your genealogical tree - the party `s over, homo sapiens sapiens are back in charge...



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Spokane Note

Vinny DeFazio left that game last night after getting hit by a pitch. No word on the extent of the injury.

Also, have I mentioned how intrigued I am by Chris Matlock? Who ever heard of a sidearm knuckleball closer anyways? Very cool.



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WOW!

Riley Cooper signs for 250K! (becomes FT baseball player Jan1)
Shawn Blackwell signs for 300K!




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Prospecting: Adalberto Flores

2009 PROFILE: 2008 Free agent sign, Puerto Rico. 6.7 230, RH setup. Appears to throw a heavy fastball, possilbly a sinker, but also gets a crazy amount of S&M with it and works low in the strike zone when he's on. It must have some late movement or a little deception to it or both. Throws effectively inside, and hits both corners for strikes. Also throws a curve that can be a S&M pitch as well but he also can throw it for strikes and bury it in the dirt. Averages about 12.3 SO/9. Appears to get into some trouble when he throws too many strikes or gets the FB up in the zone a bit. No info on the state of his changeup but his #s against lefties (.212, 37SO/25IP)) are better than against RHH (.282) so he must have a pretty good one.

I'm guessing that they remade him after last season, ditching his 4-seam for a 2-seam as his primary pitch as his GO/AO ratio went from .62 in 2008 to 1.65 in 2009 and hits H/9 increased from 7.29 to 8.62. The change also saw his walk rate decline from 3.57 to 3.26. Now, I'm not necessarily sold on a sinkerball guy (if that is what he is) turning into a setup man but he has swing and miss stuff so it could happen and that is his ceiling.



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Northwest Surprise: Trevor Hurley

2009 Profile: Spokane RH starter, 6.3 215, 2008 22nd rd. TX really did a number on this kid during the off-season. He was a bad college starter with a fastball and slider that flashed above average but with ZERO command (think ~1-1 so/bb ratio) who seemed destined to be an org guy at best or wash out completely with his poor command. His 2008 #s in AZL backed up this impression: ~38ip/28h/28bb/40so. So what happens in 2009? They might end up with a legit rotation prospect.

He has had a really nice year in the rotation with the first decent walk rate (3.1/9) of his entire baseball career. He began the season at 21.7yo, so he is relatively young (was only 20.7 when drafted as a Jr), malleable, with a fresh arm and needs innings. His pre-draft reports said that his velo was in the 89-93 range but I have yet to get any readings on him this year. What is clear from the game reports is that this kid gets groundballs (1.25, July) with his hard sinker, and has a nasty slider with lots of movment that is hard to pickup and is presently a S&M ptich (that he changes speeds on). In addition, he has only given up 2HR in 60 innings. What is more encouraging is that his changeup seems to have above average potential and has become an effective swing and miss pitch vs LHH (.221)this season; the scouting reports failed to mention it at all in his pre-draft reports. We'll see where this goes.



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Tools and Dough

From Baseball America:
1. 5th round RHP Nick McBride signs for 325K
2. Best AA Tools
Best baserunner - Craig Gentry
Best coaching prospect - Mike Miccuci
3. 2 more HS pitchers sign: 14th rd LH Chad Bell and 24th rd RH Shawn Blackwell.

Blackwell is a good get but it also likely means that a couple of HS pitchers in the 16-23 range opted not to sign.


Here are the remaining picks that are highly regarded HS Players that will require a bonus in the range of 200-350K (see 2009 draft worksheet for profiles):

10. Thomas Lemke, RHP
16. Michael Revell (LH-3B)
17. Paul Strong(LHP)
18. Michael Schaaf, RHP
20. Jerome Warmiuk, RHP
28. Derek Law, RHP
29. Charles Watson (LHP)
39. Jabari Henry (power hitting left fielder)
41. Forrest Garrett LHP
48. Cole Frenzel (position in question: 3b/rf/c/1b)LH
49. Catlan Kendrick (great splitter)RHP

Here are three desirable players that should sign if they knew what was good for them as they are all projects but who will probably go (back) to school because they think too highly of themselves and end up getting less money next year (if eligible):

9. Jabari Blash-RF - extremely raw despite his age (20)with poor pitch recognition and enough problems with his mechanics to need an off-season and a year to correct.
32. Reggie Williams-CF(SH) - Extremely raw, inexperienced really old (20yo)HS SR. Should ge his career under way quickly with some professional instruction and lots of ABs.
37. Charles Nading RHP 22yo draft eligible sophomore, after a couple of transfers. In a word old and needs innings/experience/instruction.


The one easy sign that remains will likely be 27th round RHP Aaron Barrett who had a bad JR (transfer) year and should probably sign so someone can straighten out his mechanics rather than allow his current coaches to try to figure him out. He profiles as a bullpen arm but will likely remain a starter until he shows he can't. Throws low 90s with an above average slider and a decent changeup but poor command. He was in Arlington for a workout a few weeks ago so the fact that you haven't heard about it yet probably means we weren't interested (at his price).




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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BA Best Tools

BA is starting it's league-wide best tools survey (Subscriber) and a few Rangers have already popped up, though, sadly, there has been no Jason Ogata sighting.

AAA
Smoak, best defensive 1b
Wow, and impression cemented after only, what, a month there? Draft rep or reality?
Feliz, best fastball
surprise, surprise... how about "sight to behold" or "pitch most likely to bring a tear to the eye"

LowA
No one, though Perez and Font seemed to have placed in the top 5 of the "best pitcher" category. Nice recognition for Font though he may still have some of his manchild buzz leftover from his nice debut season in the AZL.


Oh, I should say that all of the managers in each league are surveyed for this exercise, about 20 categories or so...

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Rosenthal

mentions today what he forgot to note yesterday: Texas is putting in waiver claims on cheap bats.


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and another

on Feldman's cutter

and another on Tazawa

I was stoked to learn that TX had pushed hard for this kid last year, a talented pitcher from the Japanese Industrial League, who skipped out of the NPB draft, causing so much vitriol - a Japanese player taking himself outside of the control of the league and threatening the integrity of their (relatively) closed system - that they established the "Tazawa" rule: renounce your draft eligibility and pitch overseas = 6yr ban. Anyways, the kid has great pitchability, good deception, all of which play up his various offerings. What a stab in the eye that he turned down our HIGH offer of 4yrs/5.7million and went to boston and is already in their rotation.

So now that TX is competitive again and word has finally gotten out that we can indeed develop and keep our own players, I am hoping that those kind of groin kicks occur less often. We lost out on a few top-flight arms last year with competitive bids - Tazawa, Ynoa, and Portillo - with at least one professing publicly (Ynoa - but you have to think the others did so privately) that he had concerns about the franchise's ability to develop pitchers. Sigh.

What we need is street cred and I think we have it now. Though our presence on the Pacific Rim is minimal, we are there, err Jim Colburn is there, keeping tabs in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. If there are any Tazawa-like runs for the (US )border this year, expect TX to be in the mix. And don't underestimate the importance of having Nam and Ahn in our system (and the previous FA signing whose name must not be spoken) to help woo a high-ceiling Korean. Tawain, meh, not of lot of guys having success in the minors, and not a lot of Australians of interest, though we do have two in the system (both currently in the DSL, if that tells you anything).


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And one on Feliz

from last year that discusses his promotion all of the way to AA. Nice timing.



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Nice article on Holland

from his old JC, Wallace State, that includes a couple of pictures in which he looks all of 12. His Fr/So stats:

06 - 16g/2.69/77/63/32/80/.194
07 - 13g/1.82/74.1/57/11/84/.200


The most interesting question is: How could Tx possibly think that he wasn't worth 3-4rd money after his _first_ season?



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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rangers active on waiver claims

Per ken rosenthal:

The Rays and Rangers have been among the most aggressive teams claiming players on waivers, and the Rays already have made two moves that should prove beneficial, adding catcher Gregg Zaun and reliever Russ Springer.


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J2 Terrain


With Texas yet to announce any more J2 signings, I thought I would review who is still out there. Right now the value lies in pitching, and most of the top guys are still out there. This was a market for top flight position players this year, and the pitchers are all jockeying for the best offers in the mid to high six figures at the moment. All of them are on the workout/showcase circuit trying to drum up interest at the moment. Any of the remaining top guys on the list would be a great cap on the Ranger's haul that includes, by some accounts, 2 of the top 3 shortstop prospects that were on the market.

The top pitcher still around is19-20yo Cuban pitcher Noel Arguellez who will end up with a contract on the order of what paisano 2B Jose Iglesisas recieved from Boston, 4yr/8.2million. Arguellez, like Iglesias, could debut in HighA and quickly move through the system due to his level of professional and international experience. He is the guy who could be this year's Tazawa, if there are no more Japanese pitchers who opt out of the draft this year. However, he has been underwhelming in his workouts, showning fat and out of shape, and not duplicating the velo range he showed as an amateur, 92-95, However, the fact that he can do it, when in shape, should get him paid.

The issue with Arguellez, is money, and I don't expect TX to pony up another 7 figure bonus. So the other guys I like are: VZ RHP Daniel Sanchez (if his age checks out), 6.6 RHP DR Leo Perdomo, DR LHP Edgar Ferreira and DR RHP Johendi Jiminian. Perdomo is the most likely with Jiminian a possibility though he is rumored to have visa issues. Sanchez may be 19 so there may be some doubts about his age/ceiling (but there has not been an indication that he has lied about his age even if he turns out to be 19- he will just get a bonus in the 600-800k ranger rather than 7 figures). Ferreira is strongly tied to NYY so no one else is likely to get him.

The only other power hitter of note is Jacob Beltre who people have cooled on after his insistence on playing catcher at 6-5 225 pounds (at age 16!). Scouts uniformly see him as a 1B but he has excellent raw power and I wouldn't hesistate to sign him with Hicks', err MLB's, money.

Here is a summary list of other players out there-
Players tied to Texas:
1B/C Jacobo Beltre, 6.5 225; OF Eladio Moronta (susp); P Luis Lopez; RHP Leo Perdomo, 6.6; Pitcher, J. Escudero; LHP Edgar Ferreira; RHP Rafael DePaula (susp); Miguel Nunez, 6.6, RHP (Sleeper)

Possible Visa or Age Issues:
RHP Daniel Sanchez; RHP Johendi Jiminian, 3B Miguel Sano

Suspensions under review:
RHP Rafael DePaula; OF Eladio Moronta

Remaining Possible 7 figure prospects:
Miguel Sano; Daniel Sanchez; Noel Arguellez

Others:
Luis Jolly, OF; Jean Batista, SS; Santo Aybar, cf/ss/3b; Dionico Ramirez, C; Gian Santana, RHP; Anderson Encarceron, RHP;

Korean and Taiwanese HS Sr an Clg Jr equivalents have been signing since March so you might see 1 or 2 sign with TX. There are 4 Korean players who might merit 7 figures, outfielders Bum Ho Lee and Tae Kyun Kim (probably high 6 figure guys, not sure of their age) and pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and Sung Bum Na, both college guys. In addition, there might be 2-3 Japanese players taking the Tazawa route this year and opting out of the 10/31 NPB draft. At the earliest they will probably announce their intentions at the end of August and not later than the end of September. Kazuhito Futagama and Hisashi Takeuchi are clg jr equivalents while Yusei Kikuchi is a HS Sr equivalent and all three are first-round caliber talents who will merit 7-figure salaries, the clg guys at least 2 million.



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Jason Cole coyly states: "big prospect news this AM"

so what gives? Let's take a stab:

1. either Chris Davis or Justin Smoak promoted, or better yet, both!
2. Aroldis Chapman secretly shepherded into Nolan's ranch house in Buda
3. unknown Pacific Rim prospect signed away before their draft, ambassadors are recalled
4. either Sardinas or Profar set to make their debuts
5. One of the remaining Latin American free agent arms is signed or the only remaining bat.
6. One of the "other" Cubans is signed (yawn)
7. Someone is convicted (or exonerated) of a crime or rules violation (drugs, rape, visa)
8. Miggie de los Santos makes his short -season debut (or Denny Peralta, or Kevin de Leon, or Ayennil Mendoza)
9. someone gets promoted
10. someone (else) gets injured
11. a" lesser" draft pick signs (Bell, Lemke, Blash, Williams, Revell, Strong, Law etc)
12. Hicks busts the commissioners chops and announces he has signed one or both Scheppers and Purke.
13. Omar Poveda or Max Ramirez out for the year due to injury, joining Timmy Smith it seems. Poveda had a very strange outing last night and the announcers said they have never seem him pitch like he did (ZERO FB command, changeups getting away from him, just plain weirdness i guess). Having listened to most of his outing, i got the impression that they were concerned with him and thought he might be injured but they never said as much.

Or the #1 choice, which is, Nick McBride has signed!!! Whoo, Hoo, party favors all around... I like this kid, nice frame, potentially plus fastball( now: 88-91+93) good curve, and above average fastball command...

Now get to work on the 2 that matter most JD.

What's your guess?



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Thoughts on Venezuelan and Dominican Prospects by way of Esdras Abreu


- or - "Why you should pay attention to July 2 scouting reports." -

As for kids like Esdras Abreu (now struggling mightily for the DSL2 club), I’ve come to the conclusion that, on the one hand, young Latin American “power” hitters need an extra year in the DSL unless they are 7 figure signs and, on the other hand, signing a 16yo Latin American power hitter for less than 7 figures probably isn’t worth it. The warning signs don’t look great for him, as I pointed out, and the ghosts of Santana, Johan Yan, and ESolis will haunt him until he makes it to full season ball. The other obstacle he faces, in my humble opinion, is that he’s Dominican. As other writers have written, it seems that the baseball culture in the DR is broken- it is a tryout culture so actually getting to watch a prospect play high school baseball for 2-3 years is not possible. High school baseball doesn’t exist there. What you get is a guy trained to do well on skills tests and feature tools. So what you have to do with the DR kids is to teach them how to play baseball, from the beginning, and some just don’t have the aptitude for it, or maybe it takes them 3 years, but more often than not, they flame out, but you might not be able to tell straight away. So he clearly passed the eye test, but it could be a while.

I’ve been ruminating on the differences between Venezuelan and Dominican baseball cultures lately and have a few thoughts on why VZ propects seem to be more advanced generally (outside of the 7 figure guys). I think – and this is just reasoned speculation – Venezuela must have a baseball culture that is not rooted in the tryout/ academy system in the same way that it is in the DR. Based on the advanced skill sets that players like Perez, Escobar, Alvarez, Edwin “Easy Eddie” Garcia (the top SS in the system not named Profar or Sardinas) and Tomas Telis bring to the table at 17, as well as the fact that many VZ players don’t make their debut until after they turn 18 (presumably after they graduate high school) VZ prospects seem to i bring more baseball experience to the table, making them less risky, easier to assess. In the end, it seems that the youth still play baseball in VZ and but not so much on the island.

Given the problems that TX has had in the Dominican with prospects busts – yan, santana, solis – and prospect frauds – wilson ventura, wilson suero, Juan Polanco, Ariel Ventura – TX has moved away from the Domincan over the last 2 years (08/09). Despite the fact that they have no academy there, all of the top 2008 signs were Venezuelan except for Abreu and this year, no Dominican signs have been announced to date. This is now a Venezuelan-heavy system; 12 out of 15 players in my DSL “rankings” are Venezuelan and the results seem to speak for themselves.

My question is: who is doing such a fine job in Venezuela while Preller is getting all of the street cred while drinking cold beer and clocking 60 times in San Pedro de Macoris?


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Monday, August 10, 2009

NAP: "Not a Prospect"

the first of a series...(not)...

So on occasion I'm going to roll out what I call my NAP (not-a-prospect) list as a fiendish counterbalance to the glowing prospect profiles that are profilgate in the prospect-fanboy (and girl) universe. If you don't want a smoothie and a smile with your prospect profiles, preferring rather a bit of gritty, unsympathetic, noirish realism with your prospecting, then this is the series for you (though it might only be a series of one).

Ok. Faux prospect #1. RHP. Reinier Bermudez. 5.11 175 24yo Cuban flamethrower who might have signed for 6 figures before the 2008 season(say somewhere between 100-300k). Bermudez rolled into the year end statistical gate with a mountain of strikeouts and tantalizing rumors that he threw "97". WTF? So, after we determined that this phantom arm was indeed a corporeal one after popping up in instructs '08, we were understandibly eager to see how this guy did in his full-season debut for Hickory (and get dirkatron's Stuckeys-style critical exposition of his first appearance). He could indeed speed through the system with his Robert Rodriguez-style flamethrower of an arm given his age...

Fast Fwd to, well, now.

He was surprisingly left off the Hickory roster and ended up in extended. Jason Cole heard that he was having a bad spring training in minor league camp and that he was also having trouble adjusting to life state-side. All a bad sign for someone who needed to show both an advanced skill set and state of maturity for someone his age while moving quickly thorugh the system in order to maintain his prospect status.

Imagine my surprise listening to one of his early appearances (which mirrored the rest):

"JULY: 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. Plus PO move to 1B. CB low 80s, bounces 2, can't seem to throw for strikes or fish for swings; no mention of CU."

So what do we have in this kid, err, man? He could have the second-best fastball in the system, often sitting at 96-99, but here is why this one-pitch wonder shouldn't interest you. Once you listen to a couple of his outings it is clear why he was left off of the full season roster at age 24: he has questionable pitchability and mound presence and his secondary offerings are rudimentary. He is a thrower and to say that at his age is a career deathknell to be sure. His velo is 94-100, but he can't throw his curveball for strikes or induce swing and misses or, in fact, any swings at all. He is basically a one-pitch pony and will likely never make it out of A ball(before 30). I didn't realize he even threw a changup until i caught a SOS during one AB during his 8/9 appearance. That would be one changeup in about 5-6 appearances that i have listened too to go along with a lot of bouncing curveballs. His feel for pitching is the most troublesome part, acting nonchalant and unfocused on the mound (as conveyed by the PXP guy), throwing in a balk, SB, HBP or WP at inopportune moments, and simply overthrowing/throwing harder when he gets in a jam. This kid heads my NAP list: "Not A Prospect".



Bermudez, you've been NAP'd.



Honorable Mentions (and possible future subjects): Kevin Castner, Justin Gutsie, Christian Santana. What with both Castner and Gutsie on the DL (I'll be waiting...) and Santana not worth the ink, well, this might be a short series...Unless, unless, someone has a suggestion for a write-up...?




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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Prospecting: Mike "Nooch" Bianucci


2009 PROFILE: Has some of the best power in the system but was kept in Low A for 2/3 of the season. I presume it was to work on weaknesses, habituate a new approach, mechanics. After his promotion to A+, his BB/SO ratio plummeted. Until he rakes in A+ and does well in AA, I can't rank him in my top 40. His pre-draft profiles were replete with references about his all or nothing plate approach and vicious swings. However, he did well in his debut and had done well in LowA and his High A work comes with a SSS warning to be sure. So I hold out hope that he has done well in the system because of reworked swing/approach and that we will see that that productive approach emerge in his A+/AA performance in the future. Otherwise, he will just be a productive, middle-order Org guy which every system needs.

Edit: Can't hit lefties in A+ (37ab/.162/1bb/19SO) but had even splits in Hickory (a pitcher's league) and his career line doesn't indicate any problems against them (.300) so SSS warning. He is hitting well the last 11 games so he may be coming around to the new league(thru 8/10): 12-43/.279/5xbh/4BB/13SO


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