Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eastern Flava'

Ok so, Kikuchi is out, but don't forget that there are 2 college pitchers who could still leave for the majors, though the fact that there has been zero press about them probably indicates that they are NPB bound: clg RHP, Kazuhito Futagami; clg RHP, Hisashi Takeuchi (the better of the two).

There is also a fringy prospect who does intend to come over:

NPBT: "Sanspo is reporting that Aomori University righty Shota Ichinoseki is looking to begin his pro career overseas. Ichinoseki is a rather obscure player; he didn’t have a page on Draft Reports until this news broke, and even Deanna has never mentioned him. There’s no indication that he appears on any NPB team’s list of draft candidates. The 21 year-old student’s fastball tops out at 144 kmph (90mph) and he compliments it five breaking pitches including a slider and a forkball."

Deanna, is absolutely the most obsessive gringa (or goya?) baseball chic in Japan who authors the dizzying site http://marinerds.blogspot.com/ with its endless array of vids, stills, food shots, fan shots, box scores, play by play, and musings about all things baseball in Japan. Check it out. Be forewarned - may cause seizures. This site now knocks off tawainbaseball.blogspot.com from the top spot for "site most likely to induce vertigo".


No further updates on the status of Chih-lung Huang, the 22yo Taiwanese reliever that TX has maintained interested in.



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Southern Flava'

Wagner Mateo
AFter the showcase Mateo went stateside to play with a prospect scout team (in florida I believe) and also competed in and won the Bo Jackson 5-Tool contest:

Mateo, from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, did not win any of the five individual contests, but he had the highest composite score for the entire 5-Tool Competition with impressive results in all five categories, including several massive home runs.

If a club is sold on his vision, the kid merits 7-figures, but you know clubs are going to low ball him. I say he signs for 1.6 million with a big-market team - SF is rumored to be the front runner at the moment. I wonder how TX feels about major leaguers and coke-bottle lenses...?

Kiley MCDaniel Tweets:
Tweet: "20-year-old Dominican OF Eladio Moronta worked out last weekend post age-gate & ran a 6.3 & flashed a 60 arm, but age/bat will hold him back. KM thinking Low 6 figures."

Tweet: Columbian catcher Jorge Alfaro Eligible now, plus arm, impressive bat/pwr, has SEA on him & offers over $500k.

Tweet: one more from the showcase: 2010 eligible Dominican SS (soon 3B) Estailon Peguero. Big pwr, good hands, 7 figure talk.

Tweet: video of 2010 bonus baby, CF, Vicmal de la Cruz, 7 figure area code.

Arangure
(subscriber): Bello said his agency now represents Ruby Silva, a 20-year-old Cuban CF, who hit .276 with four home runs for Havana. Silva, Bello said, was a member of the Cuban junior national team. One of Bello's other clients, Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz, continues to impress scouts and could get a multi-million dollar bonus.


Jose Iglesias:
This Cuban SS signed by Boston for a cool 3million bonus (4/8.2) might very well have been the primary target for TX given previous reports of their interest and their demonstrated interest in signing some high level SS talent this spring. Iglesias, only 19yo, is said to have had a decent bat during his surprising assignment to the AFL. The knock on this year's best intl FA SS was that he couldn't hit, but scouts now think that he can be a fringe average hitter and that will be enough given his stellar glove:

Arangure (subscriber): Jose Iglesias has had a promising start to his professional career. The Red Sox shortstop is hitting .333 with one home run in five games for Mesa of the Arizona Fall League. Scouts continue to rave about Iglesias' glove skills.

Jason Grey (subscriber):
"Jose Iglesias, the 19-year-old Cuban defector the Boston Red Sox inked to an $8.25 million contract, already looks like a future Gold Glove candidate at short, with tremendous actions at the position. The ball just disappears into his glove. He's also had a couple of chances to show some range. However, the bat is still a work in progress. He squared three balls up on the barrel on Opening Day, but they didn't really go anywhere. First impressions are that he could get the bat knocked out of his hands right now against advanced pitching."

And, as an aside (to one blogger at least) you can't compare this year's Cuban class (all 19-21) to previous defectors who were older and possibly past their prime: these kids could prove to be a special group (Arguelles, Iglesias, Chapman) and Chapman may very well prove to be worth 60 million over 5 years. I think he gets that much if he projects as a TORP down the road - only the workouts he has with clubs over the next month will sort out which teams believe in the ceiling. It should also be noted that the Cuban FAs (and Tazawa last year) set into relief the advantages of being Boston and the Yankees: they are always able to sign (and willing to overpay for) talent that is closer to being ML ready while other teams are often relegated to signing high ceiling but much riskier (read younger) talent. I'd much rather have Iglesias than Sardinas, but Boston probably put in high bid/bonus, and if not, they got him solely on cachet.


Noel Arguelles:
Kiley McDaniel says that some saw him at 91-94 "recently" (before the DR showcase). Others claim he was consistently 92-94 last year (before defection) and imply that his workload in Cuba as an amateur and in international competitions has caught up to him. Remember that Kiley had him at 88-91, with 2 usable secondary pitches and good command.

Arangure, who wasn't at the showcase, has a largely negative assessment (of other peoples assessments, thus making JA a supermegametatweeter) of the kid's performance that largely overlooks the obvious: LHP, sits 90, 2 ususable secondary pitches, age 19, international and amateur experience, pitched 90-95 at some point during the last 2 years, out of shape. So unless there are some injury concerns here, the only thing that is preventing some team from signing him are his bonus demands.

UPDATE: Kiley McDaniel says 4 teams are showing renewed interest as of this week...


Rafael DePaula (by way of Felix Perez):
Last week Cuban CF Felix Perez was reinstated after having been suspended for lying about his age sometime during the spring. He was slated to sign with Boston for 7 figures, scouts touting the kid as a 5-tool player. This was the explanation from MLB (Arangure, subscriber): "This action was taken because it was concluded that circumstances existed that allowed the Commissioner's Office to exercise some discretion in the reduction of the suspension," wrote Lou Melendez, MLB's vice president of international operations, in an e-mail.

Following Moronta, Perez's reinstatement makes him the second kid in a month to be reinstated, when the newly hardened (in fall of 2008) penalty for lying about one's age and identity is a mandatory suspension. Couple this apparent weakening of the stricture in these 2 cases with the fact that the consulate effectively negated MLB's investigation of Sano's age, and you have an investigative regime whose reforms might be put into question. However, from a selfish standpoint - and as I indicated after Moronta was resinstated - maybe this gives Dominican pitcher Rafael DePaula new life.

He was also suspended in the spring for misrepresenting his age, and, as I have posted before, there has been talk all along that this suspension might lack merit (some claim his documents are legit, and some claim he was cleared by Dominican officials who work with the MLB investigative unit). At the very least, many feel there are extenuating circumstances around his case that merit reconsideration, the same vague justification for lifting the suspensions of Perez and Moronta. One has to wonder if agent malfeasance is the source of the mitigating circumstances for these two. While this may be true in part, the rumor circulating at this point is that these 2 kids admitted to lying about their age while DePaula insists that he is not lying.

So having said all of that, there is some evidence that MLB might be moving to reinstate DePaula or at least there are a # of teams out there who believe in his case enough to risk signing him while suspended in order to take his case to the consulate for their imprimatur. At least 1 source confirms that 4-6 teams have requested that DePaula throw for them in the next week, suggesting that he will throw at the Boston academy on Monday. Remember, that NYY were the front runners to sign the kid before his suspension, while TX spoke to his family during his suspension so likely remains an interested party.

Oh, I forgot to mention, DePaula was throwing 92-95 this spring with a good curveball and he will likely go to Japan if he cannot get a US work visa.



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Arizona Dispatches

DISPATCHES:

Kevin Goldstein (BP):
(subscriber) "Tanner Scheppers: As good of reviews as his 95-98 mph fastball obviously generate, his breaking ball is earning nearly equal raves. It's a true power curveball with heavy top-to-bottom action that he delivers at 80-84 mph, the kind of velocity some pitchers have on their slider. Few pitchers in the game need the ol' 'if he can stay healthy' mantra in front of any projection, but if he can stay healthy, he could be elite."

Jason Grey
Tweet: "Tanner Scheppers = Nasty McFilthy "

Tweet: Matt Harrison must be feeling healthy again - touching 94 in short AFL stint


AFL NOTES:
Ben Badler and a Project Prospect dude (who, he says, is renting a 4-br house for the occasion), will be in AZ around November 8th.

MLB Network will televise the "AFL Rising Stars" game on 11/7 - hopefully we get a chance to see DGut, Schepp and Moe - as wll as the AFL title game on 11/21. Hopefully, they might also televise some actual games after the WS...

Jason Grey tweets: League ERA is over six; League slugging close to .500 at the Arizona Fall League (a/o 10/22)

Project Prospect:
The AFL is more hitter-friendly than any full-season professional baseball league. From 2005-2008, the average AFL hitter had an .816 OPS. The average PCL hitter, for comparison, had a .796 OPS in 2008 -- the PCL is easily the most hitter-friendly full-season minor league.

AFL 2005-2008 average triple-slash line: .288/.363/.453
Pacific Coast League 2008 average line: .279/.349/.447



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Chapman Watch

Chapman Notes:

Arangure thinks bidding starts in earnest late November.
Chapman bio distributed by his agency.
Figure leaked out of meeting with Mets - beware the posturing: 60mil


Mets: being coy, some saying ixnay on a 40-60m deal, and in other quarters very interested; Mets have met. Now there is some talk that they are balking at a 60M payday - the figure leaked by the Mets to the media.

NYY: have a meeting
BoSox: Wednesday meet and greet
Cards: Monday meet and greet
ChiSox: still interested
Cubs: still interested
Balt: Afraid of being Communist apologists?; Baltimore, it is said, now plans to meet with him in 7-10 days
Oakland: grrrr...
Texas: Preller stuck in Japan...?
Detroit: interested
Toronto: was interested, then professed lack of qualifications necessary to be interested, as their scouting dept. is incompetent...

Chapman links:
2007 Video Compilation
ESPN MAG August
Arangure(insider)July:
"I think Strasburg could step right into someone's rotation and be effective," says an NL exec. "I'm not sure Chapman is ready to dominate at the major league level as a starter." The 6'3", 185-pounder led Cuba's Serie Nacional with 130 strikeouts in 118e innings this season, but his 5.68 ERA in the World Baseball Classic showed he's no finished product. "His release point fluctuates, and that can cause problems with his control," says another NL suit.

KLAW (insider)July:
Chapman, reportedly 21, has a huge fastball and has been clocked as high as 100 mph in international competition. But he will sit more consistently in the mid-90s in his best starts and in the low 90s in some of his lesser outings. The quality of his secondary stuff is a bigger question; he has thrown a slider that's sharp and approaches 90 mph, but pitches primarily off his fastball. He has the arm speed required to throw a plus slider, and has also shown a curve, a cutter and a changeup in past outings. Either way, the fastball/slider combination alone marks him as a potential front-line reliever. With his size and ability to hold his velocity deep into games, he offers the ceiling of a No. 1 starter.



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The Lefty has Landed

Kikuchi Opts for NPB as expected. OK Preller, on to Chapman, Arguelles...and DePaula? More on that later.



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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kikuchi to NPB?

Patrick Newmann over at NPBT says that the (self-serving) Japanese baseball press is whispering "Kikuchi to NPB." Stay tuned- press conference on Sunday.



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AFL fix: The Schepp

10/19: 1ip/2s; 14/10 (1-0)

No pitch FX, however, 2 sources report that his velo ranged 94-98, 95-98 respectively. Both of his swinging strikeouts looked to be on high FB (judging on location) while his groundout seemed to be on a changeup (judging by the count).

10/22: 2ip/2so; 21/14 (1-3)
FB: 93.9-98.2, CB: 79.7-80.7, SL: 83.6-84.3, CU: 89.5-89.8


This is the first night that we have had some pitch fx info for the Schepp so it hasn't been clear what pitches he was throwing as everyone hyped up the FB velo and the curveball, but then, everyone already knew about those, right, from last year's draft, remember? So in this outing he breaks out all 4 of his pitches, including the other 2 that are critical for him to reach the elusive "ace" status. He may have used one or both the change and the slider in his first 2 appearances already, but, no one has mentioned either.

In his first inning (7th), he sat 97.1 (96-98), dropping in a couple of sliders for a swinging strike (83.6) and a called strike out (84.3), and a few curveballs: 79.7 (B), 80 (CS), 80.7 (CSO). 9 strikes/2 balls (fb). His last out was a CSO and it was a rather sick sequence likely evincing a few long, pleading stares toward the mound: (RHH) - FB, CS, OC, 98.2; Slider, SS, OC, 83.6; Huge curveball, 80.7, a bit high in the zone and inside, freezing the hitter for a called strike three. Sick.

In his second inning (8th), he sat 95.7 (94-97), and broke out a couple of changeups registering at 89.5/89.8, one for a swinging strike, the other for a groundout. That seems a tic hard but both were effective evidently so no complaints here. He also dropped in another curve (80) for a ball. 5 strikes/5 balls.

As I reported in my post on Schepp's first appearance, the best news about him so far is _ not _ that he has a plus plus FB or that he has a plus curve (we knew that going into the 2008 draft) or that he is healthy (he has been pitching in games since March/April), but that the reports about his improved changeup, his improved delivery, and the addition of a serviceable slider seem to be about right. The other encouraging thing is that his command and pitch sequencing have been great.

Looking at his first three starts, it seems that he he works the zone very well, not throwing anything too meaty up there with any frequency. He is able to work both the inside and outside corners to both lefties and righties. He'll elevate his FB or bury it low and out of the zone _and_ hit his spots. He also seems to be able to tail/run his fastball away from some batters when called for. He gets swings and misses with all 4 of his pitches though the sample size is admittedly small for his second order ones. And just as an aside, and a dig towards some, if you think that DGut will eventually live up to the prospect hype as a future top rotation-caliber pitcher, ask yourself if you can imagine scripting a profile for him along the lines of what you have just read.

Anyways, count me impressed. He's a much better pitcher than he was during his JR year and you can chalk it all up to hard work. Of course, you might say, why so breathless after only 5 innings? And I say, yeah your probably right, but we'll have to wait until next year to see if he can do these things as a starter and do them deep into games and deep into a season. I'll cede you that point if you cede me the right to experience a specie of short-sample-sized giddiness for the next 2 months.

So, yeah, looking forward to more and more and more from him. You have to wonder whether he could end up making the bullpen out of spring training or if TX would want to let him build up some innings for 3 months before calling him up with an eye toward the Feliz plan - 1/2 season MiL starter, 1/2 season ML pen, 2 1/2 months of winter ball, then into the 2011 rotation.



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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Notes and Quotes

Arguelles video: Kiley McDaniel has some video up of Noel Arguelles and a top 2010 7-figure bonus baby, CF Vicmal de la Cruz.

Aroldis Chapman: Cards, ChiSox, Cubs, Mets, NYY, and Boston are the interested teams being reported as of now.

Evan Grant does the Kikuchi dance: Per Evan Grant, who can be forgiven for getting on the Kikuchi bus a little late, not being known for his prospecting prowess (after all he remains the lone member of The "I can't believe Feliz is being cast as a starter" for Men Club) Colburn and company got "creative" during the meet and greet:

It included a video presentation comparing Kikuchi to 18-year-old Japanese golfing sensation Ryo Ishikawa. It was, by all accounts, an inspired and creative presentation.

The only other club reported to have brought a prop was the Giants who brought over a Japanese trainer from one of their minor league clubs. Anything that works right?


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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AFL, DGut, Churchill

Jason Churchill over at Prospect Insider is in Arizona covering the Mariners' AFL contingent while also commenting on many of the leagues top prospects. His AFL coverage is free (right now - it is a mixed free-pay site like Cole's) if you want to go check it out. I asked him what he thought of Danny Gutierrez during his tete-a-tete on Wednesday against Mike Leake:

Me: Jason, what was your impression of Danny Gutierrez today, opposite of Leake? Unless he was working solely on his FB command today in lieu of anything else, he seems to be pitching like a reliever with 49FB, 8CB, and zero changeups. That is now 2 changeups over 2 starts and 7 innings.

JC: ... better stuff than Leake, for sure, he pounded fastballs all day and touched 95. Good life, too. He pitches like a reliever because that's probably what he is. His control and command both aren't good enough, or at least haven't been to this point in his career, to close or start right now. The velo is there, the delivery is more conducive to relief work -- wasn't repeating well, but he wasn't a mess. Some effort there, though, but Leake has that issue, too.



More on this and other AFL action sometime tomorrow but I'll leave you with a question: How do you like the trade now reconfigured to be: a hard-throwing middle reliever who might pitch in a set up role twice a month (who might be ready say, August of 2010) for a backup catcher (2 years out) and a starting left fielder (who could be ready in August as well)? We'll definitely revisit this in August 2010, that is, unless I have a decent-paying job that takes up all of my time and passion and forestalls future posts (both me and my detractors are crossing our fingers)...



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Notes and Quotes

One of my favorite websites - EastWindupChronicle -on all things Pacific Rim from the pov of scouts abroad is apparently in semi-permanent hiatus to my disappointment.

Still no word on the kind of money being thrown Kikuchi's way, but a decision should be made between the 24th and 26th according to his manager. Jeff Wilson has some Holland tweets about the meet and greet. And while I know it is the off-season, and some writers are taking it easy, but I found it quite odd that TR Sullivan's only source for the Holland trip is - gulp - Jamey Newberg. He merely poached a newberg blog entry as the core of his story when there are so many other interesting sources on the kid.

The phrase "Chapman is in New York" makes me cringe. He has flown over to interview and workout with clubs. Boston and New York are the destinations most likely for him at this point - Cubans and NY go together like Nescafe and Latin America - given that both clubs (or someone) will overpay, that is, pay him the going rate for a very good, established mid-rotation MLB starter, which is to say, too much. If TX bids at all I wouldn't expect them to go over 5/10, and that is an awful lot of money for a guy who could spend his first year in the minors. I just have this feeling that TX won't bid at all once the money starts getting out of hand. Focus on Kikuchi and even Arguelles AJ!

On Wednesday, prized Cuban left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman will arrive in New York to begin a series of meetings with several general managers, Chapman's agent Edwin Mejia confirmed to La Esquina.The 21-year-old will visit several cities, Mejia said, but the agent would not confirm a specific itinerary. It's expected he will visit with officials from the Yankees and the Red Sox, among others. "Aroldis is very excited to be coming to the States and plans to spend some time in the cities of the teams interested in him, exploring the sights and meeting the fans in addition to the team representatives," Mejia wrote in an email. Sources close to the situation indicate that other teams thought to have interest in Chapman -- including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels -- have yet to seriously inquire about the pitcher. A front office executive from one MLB club indicated the Dodgers aren't likely to be serious suitors for Chapman. Other teams that have yet to show formal interest in Chapman -- such as the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants -- are now beginning to pay varying degrees of attention to the free agent.


Melissa Segura over at SI - another good writer on international baseball - notes that Sano was cleared for a work visa by the DR consulate. The consulate has higher standards for proving identity/age than MLB. I wonder what this does to the credibility of the MLB vetting process given they labeled Sano's age as indeterminate and most likely 17? She also notes that San Pedro de Macoris - Sano's hometown - seems to have been the epicenter of age/identity fraud. This is where the Rangers have their academy BTW.


Kiley McDaniel has some pics up from the DR showcase - still waiting for the writeup - and he is editing his video.

Arangure tweets that the Giants are the team to beat to sign Wagner Mateo. The were a close second place to the Cardinals but were not willing to beat their 3.1 million asking price - the agent was asking for 3.5. St.Louis may get a real bargain here or an eventual flame out due to his vision problems. They were offering 2.5 million but now are likely to have to go no higher than 1 million. His eyesight is said to be 20/300 or some crazy figure and in 5 years, it is certainly possible that he'll be working in a ballpark, just, well, not as a player, not with _those_ crazy coke-bottle lenses. But, hey, as Keith Law might now say in the Scheppers case, "I ain't no doctor".


I came across one source who said he saw a Cuban kid throwing 99 at the NYY's Domincan complex on Monday- could that have been Chapman making a stopover there before getting wined and dined by Mark Newman in the big Apple- "Hello Newman...!!!!," says the jealous Rangers fan...




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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Koshein Tournament Grind

So there is a lot of stuff written about the abuse of HS pitchers in the US. However, it seems to pale in comparison to the year-end Koshien tournament which pits regional HS powers against one another (and here). Pitchers can start games as much as 6 times in 15 days. Take Kikuchi's workload. He made 4 starts over 10 days (8/12, 8/17, 8/20, 8/21, and skipping his 8/23 start due to an injured back with the possibility of a 6th start for the championship game)and pitched 3 complete games, with his fourth shortened by injury.In those three complete games his pitch counts were at 124, 118, 125.

Here is some rudimentary play by play for each game from http://goroshigeno.blogspot.com:

August 12 CG
August 17 CG (9ip/5h/1er/1bb/8so)
August 20 CG

So first three games: 27ip/22so, and about 360 pitches, was sitting 88.9-92.6 his first 2 starts (but 92-95 in his next two starts).

August 21 injury shortened (back)
Note the blogger's pregame commentary on Kikuchi:
Turn to Hanamaki Higashi, we have the start of the tournament - Kikuchi Yuusei. But the comments about him have been far from dominating. He almost lost his first round game against Nagasaki Nichidai - and perhaps should have if not for the questionable decision by the Nagasaki Nichidai kantoku. He then kept his team in the games against his kantoku's old team - Yokohama Hayato, before pulling ahead late. And in the bracket final, he finally started turning it on against Miyagi's Tohoku squad.
Still, people have commented that he's not the fireballer we'd thought we'd see. In fact his K rates are rather lower than expected (22 K in 27 IP). Plus, he didn't hit the 150's until his last game versus Tohoku.So what gives?Perhaps he knew from Senbatsu that he lost a lot of speed by the time he reached the final and is pacing himself through the first rounds...Perhaps in a way to prepare for the NPB or MLB, or wherever he goes, he's been learning to throw his secondary pitches (slider, curve) for strikes so that he's not regarded as just a fastball pitcher...But whatever the reason, this is where the road will get tougher, and I don't have any doubt that he'll start pitching 100% if he hasn't already.


August 23 skipped,injured (back)


Here are some vids, a few of them from the tournament:

One
TWO
Three
Four
Five


Edit: the video of him hitting 154 and 152km/h (95.7, 94.5) in the 9th is from a game he closed (rather than starting) on 9/29 in another tournament, fyi.

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Kikuchi plus Dutch = Rangers?

Kikuchi has completed his meetings with some 20 teams, and was apparently taken with Der Holland:

-you met a major leaguer

“He had an aura of playing in the best place in the world.”



No news on offers yet but the kid is said to be 50/50, the same as before the meetings by some accounts...


UPDATE: Just came across a TRS quote stating the Preller made the trip to Japan, which isn't surprising but no one had mentioned it to date...


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Monday, October 19, 2009

Lefties are in: Kikuchi, Chapman, Arguelles

Just looking at a bunch video on Kikuchi and one compilation for Chapman.

Kikuchi was sitting at 89-91 throwing between 88.9-92.6. He seemed to be able to dial it up to 93.8 when he needed a strikeout or was throwing a FB up in the zone fishing for a swing. In one game, he was throwing 93.8-95.7, and it did appear to be a start though the velo readings were from the 5th and 9th innings. In one outing as a closer he was 93.8-95. So I think it is safe to say that, Kikuchi already has a major league average FB at 89-91, and has the arm strength to dial it up to 94 when he needs to.

His breaking ball is slurvy, looks like a slider but has the velo of a curveball, and he changes speeds on it, sitting 70-73 and 74-76 respectively. There were a few offerings that I wasn't sure about: a couple in the 85-86 range (sliders, 2-S, CU?) and one at 78 (CB that got away?). It seemed that the videographers mostly were interested in documenting velo and strikeouts, so you get a lot of fastballs and breaking balls, but not a lot of context to determine if that is primarily what he throws.

I saw one report that he threw a 2-seam fastball but haven't seen much on some variation of a changeup. He seems to have good command, and a good approach. He pitches down in the zone very effectively, dials it up and elevates when he needs to, and seems to get a good amount of strikeouts/swings-misses on his breaking ball Anyways, well, what more needs to be said, make this kid a very large offer, right?

UPDATE: One report suggests that the 2-seamer is a cutter. So he throws a slider (2nd pitch), cutter, and curveball. Not much mention of a splitter, change, or forkball so it might indeed take him a couple of years to develop one into an average pitch.
UPDATE 2: Just came across an old post (via NPBT) that claims the kid throws a screwball so maybe he does have a change of pace pitch after all.



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In the Chapman compilation that I saw he was 91-94 sitting 93-94, with what seemed to be a changeup at about 87-88 (only 2 that I counted), and a curveball that was 70-73/76-78. There were a couple of low 80s offerings that couldve been sliders I suppose. I would guess that he 93-95 area code would be where he would sit as a starter, while throwing 95-100 as a reliever, though I saw none of that in the compilation (from WBC 2007).

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I guess if I'm the GM I want to sign both guys, but Kikuchi is the much better value at 4 years/ 10 million vs 5 years 50 million. An even better bargain might be the other Cuban LHP, 19yo Noel Arguelles, who, in the DR showcase this weekend, was 88-91, by some accounts, with 2 decent secondary pitches, though many remain unimpressed with his makeup (err, eating habits). What better way to usher in the new Preller era than with the signing of the 3 best LH pitchers on the market!!



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Holland goes East

Kikuchi started up his MLB meetings today (thought they started tomorrow) and met with TX. TX brought Holland along with Colborn apparently to try to finally convince someone that TX can develop young pitchers - remember that both Tazawa and Ynoa praised the player development systems/histories of Boston and Oakland respectively, a backhanded swipe at TX given they were or would have been high bidders in both cases:

Rangers: sent Jim Colborn and lefty Derek Holland; espoused the team’s development system and let Kikuchi ask questions.


The USS Mariner has a breakdown of one of his prep starts to which you might compare NPBT's profile.



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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Japanese porn (star)

Very nice article on Kikuchi and the NPB from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. Some good quotes suggesting that Kikuchi has the ceiling of a #1 starter who should progress quickly through the minors while also giving some history on the first 3 players to skip the NPB draft, including one chastened porn star...


If MLB teams share the high opinions from these scouts on Kikuchi's ceiling, then he will get a lot more than Tazawa's 3yr/5.1m deal (3.3m bonus) with TX offering him 4/~7m. I'm thinking 4yr/9million. We'll know soon...



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Miscellany

Per Carlos Lugo at BP (subscribers only I think):
The GM for the Toros del Este (DR) has said that TX has offered Salty to the team so I would expect to see him on the roster when he is healthy. He also stated that he expects Feliz to be in the starting rotation. Nelson Cruz is not expected to make his debut for the Aguilas Cibaenas until after Turkey day at the earliest.


Also, for those who missed my update within the summary of Scheppers' debut outing: both Jason Grey and Bill Mitchell say that he hit 99 during his 2 inning outing.



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Scant showcase news

Not much from KM (or anyone else) on the DR showcase as he has been without internet but here is the latest - if he posts updates over at BP I will repost them here:

Agency La Academia hosted well over 100 scouts in arguably the biggest amateur Latin event ever at a new complex better many team academies
about 1 hour ago from txt
Wagner Mateo is still good (oppo HR in game), Salcedo was impressive but still can't get in US, Vicmal DeLaCruz atop some 2010 July 2 lists.
about 2 hours ago from txt
Cuban lefty Noel Arguelles was 88-91 w/above avg change, solid curve & command & much improved physique. Too early to gauge contract future.
about 2 hours ago from txt



It seems safe to say that Arguelles will not be able to regain his velo anytime soon (if reports were true that he had been clocked 92-95) and may wait to sign until the end of the year or in the spring when he is in better condition. What a moron, that might be end up being about a million$$ eating disorder... Whatever the case, a 19yo lhp sitting 89ish with 2 usuable off-speed pitches and some amateur experience might get him enough dough from someone if he wants to sign right away.


UPDATE: KM gave an average speed for his gun and of those scouts around him to get at that 89-91 figure, whereas, some scouts behind him (behind the cage) clocked him at lower velos...


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I Love NPBT

Latest update is up on Kikuchi's NPB team meetings. Apparently - and I guess i totally missed this - any and all teams can select a player even after he has been selected by other teams (at least in the first round - see NPB Draft Primer). Then the kid just goes with the team he likes the best as they are all limited to offering him the same max contract for a 1st year value of 1.65 million. Given the limits on annual salaries and bonus money (1 million), MLB can blow away any NPB offer.

His manager (err high school coach) says they will make a decision quickly, shortly after completing his meeting with ML teams, and before the draft:

And his manage, the omnipresent Hiroshi Sasaki: “Each team has it’s own system for maturing individuals. To wait until the last moment before the draft to answer would be an annoyance to the teams, so we should give a decision as quickly as possible after the MLB meetings end.”


I bet we start to hear what kind of money is being thrown around by interested ML teams starting on the same day the meetings start, Tuesday.



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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Winter roster updates

Players who have reached their inning limits for the season will likely not pitch at all or only a few innings, eg, Martin Perez, Pimentel, Boscan, Poveda (possibly, Frankie, Castillo and Mags too). Feliz's innings will be carefully monitored, probably pitching no more than 25 innings over 6 weeks.

Domincan: Jailen Peguero, Madrigal, Arias, Frankie Francisco, Leury Garcia, Ogando, Omar Beltre, Engel Beltre, Feliz, Jose Diaz, Fabio Castillo, Macumba, Esteban German, Mauro Gomez, Pedro Strop, Nelson Cruz.

Did not see Carlos Pimentel on the Leones roster (yet) nor Borbon on for Aguilas.

Venezuelan: Fredo Boscan, Guilder Rody, Moscoso, Travis Metcalf, Johnathan Rojas (older DSL kid), Poveda, Jorge Quintero, MaxRam, Renny Osuna, Andrus, Martin Perez, Sarmiento

Mexican: Corey, Mendoza

AFL: Gutierrez, Scheppers, Reed, Garr, Moreland, Hogan, Lemon
Even though there is a 7-man limit per team, Matt Harrison is supposed to be on the squad but apparently is still rehabbing. I guess TX got a waiver for Scheppers or Gutierrez. If not they will have to drop someone when Harrison is ready.

TBD: Teagarden, Velazquez (PR), Torres (PR)

Other possible guys: Smoak, Chris Davis, Salty, Tracy, Gentry, Golson, Eyre, Benoit, Rupe, AJ Murray, Hinckley, Lueke, Greene, Lawson, Butler, Morrison, Ovispo DLS, Arrendell, Miggie DLS, Whittleman



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KG dissing on Poveda

So, despite BP's Kevin Goldstein's status as a prospect guru, this flippant analysis of Poveda won't likely be proven true if you believe the projections about him from people who follow him closely. Did I mention that I'm a big Poveda fan, and I don't mean homer:

Rangers right-hander Omar Poveda was once seen as one of the better pitching prospects in the system, but he's been passed by while failing to miss bats at the upper levels, although youth is still on his side (he just turned 22).



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AFL, 10/17

Moreland,DH; Lemon, CF

Garr (opens 6th inning)- 1/1/0/0/0; 9-5, 3-0,
GIDP, single deflected by Garr to 3b side
91-93, sat 92; breaking ball, 82 (ball)
no swing/misses, 1 called strike


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Kikuchi meet and greet

NPBT has some quotes up about Kikuchi's recent meetings along with some advice from Tazawa. 12 days till the draft, though I suppose, he could make his decision as late as the spring whether to stay or go...



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Friday, October 16, 2009

AFL 10/16

Surprisingly, no velo data on the game today, however, keith law is there for the first week of AFL play and noted that Scheppers sat at 96.5 (95-98)with his first 10 fastballs during his 2-inning debut today. He came in for the third and 4th and left with a hold and this line: 2/1/0/1/2; 29/17 (58.6%), 2-1. His 2 strikeouts came on 1-2 and 0-2 counts respectively both on blocked balls so he probably got both on curveballs way out of the zone.

The thing to watch with Scheppers will definitely be his command. He does not have a lot of experience, having been primarily a shortstop in HS and his freshman year, only becoming a full time pitcher his soph. year and full time starter his JR year. His 3.1bb/9 his soph. year contrasted with his 4.3bb/9 his Jr year. During his year out rehabbing and training and culminating in his JC workouts and Independent League workouts/games, the reports on his progress as a pitcher were very encouraging. He gained muscle, he streamlined his delivery (and it was already clean), he added a slider, and improved his changeup all while maintaining his plus,plus velo. His Curveball has plus potential while his slider and changeup should be at least average pitches if the encouraging reports on his continued development are true. Scheppers did not sit on his laurels during his off-year, something definitely not lost upon TX scouts. With the strides he made before the draft this year, coupled with better command than he displayed during his JR year, he may very well have turned himself into a pitcher who could see ML action in the second half of 2010.


Also of note: Lil' Lemon played CF today (!) while Moreland made his debut at DH. He may still be nursing his foot fracture so he might not see much action in RF.


UPDATE: Jason Grey said that the guns he was looking at (he had his own I think, while also looking at that of a nearby scout) showed Scheppers hitting 99 twice!!

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When to ignore Keith Law

When to ignore Keith Law: when has has anything at all to say about Tanner Scheppers or Tommy Mendonca...


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Kiley Video

is up on Mateo, Jolly, Salcedo, prolly just BP. Don't know much about the Salcedo kid.



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Dominican Winter League Rosters

So I came across the draft info for DWL prospects from late August and preliminary rosters posted in late September. The rosters are surely subject to change and incomplete given that they were done about a month ahead of the season.

So here is the draft info. Basically, prospects proper, that is minor league players, are subject to the draft. I guess the parent ML team must submit a list of players they want to be eligible from which the Dom teams select from. Not sure about that part, nor have a seen any eligibility lists. Nevertheless, here are the TX players selected (3 rounds/16-17 picks per round):
1st: Carlos Pimentel (#9)
2nd: None
3rd: Leonel de los Santos (#5), Leury Garcia (#9)
I'll just say that I'm _really_ surprised to see Macumba and LG here as they have lowA skill sets right now as hitters but will be in a league in which the talent level is between AA/AAA with a lot of players with ML experience

OK on to the Rosters:
Aguilas: Borbon
Gigantes: Nelson Cruz, LGarcia, Strop
Licey: none (incomplete)
Estrellas: none (incomplete)
(team ?): Madrigal, JArias
Escogido: CPimentel
Toros: Mauro Gomez, Ogando

So this list is preliminary as I said but there are indications that the following players will also be assigned to the league at some point:
Macumba, Feliz, EGerman, EBeltre, Smoak, Salty, Bermudez, OBeltre and Jose Diaz


As for other players who are sure to be assigned to some league: Teagarden, Moreland (post AFL), Miguel Velazquez (PR)



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J2 Remnants

So, just thinking through how the post-10/17 DR showcase signings might proceed. I think that you might see clubs wait and see how the Kikuchi and Chapman negotiations play out with most of the other post-J2 signings occurring in November. However, the money that those two will command is of such a different order of magnitude - with Arguelles and Mateo being the only others possibly sniffing 7 figures - that all the other low-to middle six figure signs could sign at any time. However, there may be no mad rush to sign anyone outside these top 3-4 as almost all of them have some issues that give one pause: age issues, suspensions, injuries, performance, ceiling. Stay tuned...



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Brazil

Found a nice article on the Ray's and their new Brazilian academy and development program. The article might not have got it right about the Japanese presence there however, as they have had a presence there for some 5-7 years, and have at least one academy/program there as well. But the author does note that there are at least 25 Brazilian prospects somewhere within the Japanese development pipeline.

I wonder how forward thinking Preller will prove to be in his new capacity as Rangers' scouting autocrat? Brazil, then China, on to India?



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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Perez, Sardinas notes

Came across a couple of notes on Perez and Sardinas in BP. Considering the scarcity of info on both, thought i would just post them. Comparing Sardinas to Vinicio is high praise given Vinicio was regarded as the top SS on the market (not including 19yo Cuban Jose Iglesias).

Luis Sardinas, SS, Venezuela: Sardinas is actually very similar to Vinicio, down to the switch-hitting and body size, give or take five pounds. Sardinas is actually a better hitter from the left side (Vinicio excels from the right side), but Sardinas is generally thought of as a very comparable talent. While the Red Sox are believed to have overbid on Vinicio by a couple of hundred thousand dollars to lock him up early, Sardinas' bonus projections run between $1.1 million and $1.3 million, with the Mets, Rangers, and Rockies all finalists for his services.

David Perez, RHP, Dominican Republic: Perez is very similar to Jiminian, due to his velocity (around 90), projectable frame (although he's taller at 6-foot-5), loose arm, and his advanced feel for his curveball. Perez’s changeup and command are also solid for his age, and his bonus is expected in the same range as Jiminian, with Houston, Cleveland, Toronto, and San Diego involved, but a decision isn’t until a few days after July 2nd.




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Baseball Prospectus J2 Profiles

So last week I posted some of the J2 profiles from Baseball America for the "top" unsigned guys. Here are Baseball Prospectus' profiles on said players.

I am also listing a couple of links to BP's Kiley McDaniel so you can keep track of his J2 stuff at your leisure. He has a video site with a handful of videos on some of these prospects (from last June) and will post new videos from his trip to the DR showcase this W/E sometime next week, so keep an eye out. He will surely be tweeting from the DR starting Friday morning with some workout updates:

http://twitter.com/kileymcd
http://www.vimeo.com/kiley/videos


Luis Jolly, LF, Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6'2"/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Jolly is a well-rounded outfielder with solid tools and hitting ability. He is athletic, and gifted with above-average speed, but he lacks the defensive instincts to project him as a center fielder. A below-average arm makes Jolly a left fielder, but happily there's enough power emerging in his projectable frame. He makes consistent hard contact in workouts, but his bat will have to carry him to profile as an everyday left fielder. He's drawn heavy interest from the Phillies and Dodgers, with the expected price in the $600-900,000 range

Edgar Ferrera, LHP, Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6'3"/190
Ferrera is another late-rising Dominican power arm; he recently hit 94 mph. There is a lot of projection left in his frame, but velocity is the main draw here. Ferrera's command and secondary pitches are lacking, but the basic elements are in place to attract a big bonus. The Cardinals and Athletics are believed to be hot on Ferrera's trail, and he is also projected to receive a bonus in the $600-800,000 range.

Victor Payano, LHP, Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6'3"/165
Payano is represented by Edgar Mercedes, and I was able to see him pitch in the workout that Mercedes organized versus Team Canada, so I have another short video embedded below. Payano worked at 85-88 with a heavy fastball, and he also flashed an average slider and changeup. Payano's very projectable frame gives him a shot to add some velocity to his sinker and eventually own three average-grade pitches. His command was solid (even though the video doesn't show it) in part due to his simple, repeatable mechanics. ESPN's Jorge Arangure reported that Payano may be close to a $600,000 deal with the Rockies, who as I've noted are also expected to sign another Mercedes client, Rossel Herrera. I had Payano pegged for a $300-500,000 bonus, so Arangure's report makes some sense, as you normally pay toward the top end of the scale to try to get a player locked in early. The Giants, Cardinals, and Dodgers are among the other clubs that have shown interest in Payano.

Jacob Beltre, 1B, Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6'5"/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
A few months ago, Beltre was being spoken of as a catcher some preferred over Gary Sanchez, but then Beltre hit a growth spurt, showed some stiffness behind the plate, and now he's a 6'5" first baseman. Being relegated to first base as a 16-year-old and hitting right-handed are some significant dings to Beltre's value, but he still has his share of supporters. Every scout praises his makeup, attitude, and infectious enthusiasm for the game. He has some significant power, decent feel for contact, and solid hands, but he isn't especially agile, as some have called him muscle-bound and one scout called him "stiff as a board." The Rangers, Pirates, and Brewers have shown the most interest; it's been tough to nail down a possible bonus, but $400-600,000 seems about right.

Leonardo Perdomo, RHP, Dominican Republic: A lanky right-hander whose fastball has been clocked in the 90s, Perdomo "looked bad" in a recent workout, according to one international scouting director. Many pitchers are having similar problems; with so many interested teams looking in on top players, workout fatigue has set in. This isn’t a good time for middling performances, as clubs have plenty of alternatives to choose from. A bonus in the $350-500,000 range is expected, though a team that saw him with better velocity may go higher than $500,000. The Rangers, Yankees, Rockies, Giants, and Dodgers are said to be in the hunt.

Rafael DePaula, RHP, Dominican Republic: DePaula is an interesting case as someone wwho may be getting a lot more press in short order. DePaula is 17 years old, and he had opted to wait and hit the market this year rather than go up against Michael Ynoa last season, but then he was suspended last month due to irregularities in his documentation. Word is spreading that these irregularities are being cleared up, and that DePaula may be unblocked soon; he would be eligible to sign immediately if the suspension is reversed. The Yankees and Red Sox are said to be very interested, and scouts have said that he may actually be a better talent than Ynoa. DePaula has had his velocity spike from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, and he's now sitting at 92-94 mph in recent outings, and touching 97 mph. He also throws a changeup and curveball that have plus potential, along with an aggressive approach and a projectable 6'3" frame. If the MLB suspension is upheld, he could sign with one of the interested Japanese teams, who are looking for their next posting-fee jackpot candidate. Insiders say that he is an easy seven-figure talent that could get well over $2 million. I managed to get some video, which is a little fuzzy, but you still get an idea of the talent:

Daniel Sanchez, RHP, Venezuela: Sanchez showed up at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis last week, along with the top prospects for the 2010 draft. Sanchez was throwing his fastball at 92-93 mph while showing the usual three-pitch mix and polish that clubs have seen before. You can check last month's article for details and a scouting report, but Sanchez's age is still disputed, though his ability is not. One onlooker at the showcase said that when Sanchez walked off of the field, he was "tackled" by representatives of Boras, Inc. It is still widely believed that Sanchez is 19 years old (fewer say he's 16), but once his representation and age get straightened out, he should still be a rich man.





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AFL Notes: 10/13, 10/15

10/15
Gutierrez, 3/0/0/2/2; 46-28 (60.9%), 3-4
33FB/71.7% (57.6% strikes; ave velo 94.1), 1 called strikeout
2CU (84 ball/82 pop up)
11CB (3 balls, 5 called strikes, 1 called strikeout)
"Hard" CB, 75-77; "soft" CB, 69-72 - throws both pitches for strikes

Couple of observations. As with his first and last outing for TX in AA, has trouble missing bats as he seems to have the "Beavan" syndrome - too many good strikes/not working the ball effectively around the zone. Having said that, like Beavan, has AA command of his FB so his approach must be what needs a little tweaking. Only 2 swinging strikes in 46 pitches, both on fastballs. His FB sat plus at 94 over his 3 innings (93-95) so the reported increase in his velo at the end of the 2008 season seems legit, and clearly the TX scouts knew this as well when the trade for him was made. Threw a ton of FB in the first, and lost command of it in the third. Throws a hard and soft CB, both of them for strikes, and, per his history, rarely throws a changeup, which is what he should be working on during the next 6 weeks.

In his future outings, you hope to see a lot of changeups. I'm also curious to see if his trouble missing bats is due to one some all or none of the following factors: 1. the AS sink/run on his FB is exaggerated or has been reduced with his velo increase; 2. how little deception he has with his delivery; 3. too many good strikes, or an approach in which he fails to move the FB around effectively; 4. a failure to sequence pitches effectively, esp. given the low # of changeups he throws. Anyways, just stuff I will be thinking about with this kid, while he is pitching and attending to his legal problems while in the great state of AZ...


UPDATE:
Here is an excerpt from BP's KG on DG, another example of someone praising the movement on his FB (sink, cut). Also, seems to be the only other person who gives a shit about the fact that he's a total head case, and legal liability:
A surprising late-season acquisition, Gutierrez pitched less than 30 innings this year when the Rangers traded for him, and he's yet to pitch more than 100 innings in any season, adding injury-prone to what is already not the best of reputations due to some off-the-field incidents. So why would a team be interested in him? Well, because he can get it up to 94 mph, he can sink it, he can cut it, and he'll flash you a quality breaking ball pretty regularly. All of those were on display Thursday; now the Rangers just need to keep him on the mound and out of trouble . . . and the trainer's room.


Reed, 1/2/1/1/1; 32-19, 1-1
As we have come to expect with Reed - command issues. Walked the leadoff guy in the 7th with a 7 run lead (BB, CSO, single, single, AO, GO).
Sat 93.64 with his FB, only 2 swinging strikes in this outing (FB, Slider), with only about a 50% strike rate with the pitch. The pre-draft scouting reports on his FB were that it was pretty straight in his peak velo range, 93-95. His slider was 86-85, and he threw one splitter at 86.


10/13
Garr
Important second season for Garr. Came into 2008 with high expectations, with his plus FB (92-95+96) and nice splitter, however was injured for a good portion of the year after a disappointing start. He did have a dominant second half after returning from the DL, though he was sidelined again for a brief time with a recurrence of shoulder soreness. Coming into 2009, I thought he might make his ML debut but, apparently had a shitty ST, and was eventually demoted to HighA early in the season. He was plagued with command issues and was briefly sidelined again with a sore shoulder but finally made it back to AA with some success to end the season.

So in this outing, he had command issues once again. I'm thinking John Bannister, or Kea Kometani with this kid. This year he failed to regain his previously plus velo, and sat around 92 during the games that I listened to. In this outing he sat about 91 with his FB (90-92). The pitch fx said he threw a couple of 2 seam FB (90, 89) and this could be right as Garner, the AA radio voice, said he had been working on a cutter during the season. I do not believe that he threw any splitters in this outing as he never got any 2-strike counts, instead throwing three breaking balls (80-81, variously called curves or sliders depending on who you're talking to) in breaking ball counts - 1 ball, 1 in the dirt, 1 HR. I have to wonder if Garr's main problem is an inability to command his breaking ball but I'll keep an eye on his FB command in future starts.




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Winter Ball

I will occasionally be posting stuff on winter ball - most notably pitcher velos/pitch selection via AFL gameday - but not much more than that. The easiest way to follow all of the Rangers this fall in all the respective leagues is to go to MLB.com, which updates game totals nightly.

I came across a list of DR winter ball participants that indicated Nelson Cruz and Pedro Strop will be participating along with Leury Garcia.



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Kiley McDaniel

will be going to the DR showcase this Saturday so we will get some first-hand reportage from the event. Right now, Noel Arguelles is generating a lot of buzz in his side sessions, for what that is worth. As I have written before, he is the best unsigned Intl FA (outside of Chapman) and I hope TX can squeeze Hicks for enough money to offer a contract similar to the one fellow cuban SS Jose Iglesias signed earlier this year (4yr/8.5). Both are Cuban amateurs reportedly 19yo and would likely start in High A next year. Iglesias has already reported to the AFL playing with AA caliber talent.


Update: I just came across some info that suggested TX was very interested in Iglesias along with KC, who apparently was the top bidder. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, Boston and NY both attract all the best Cubans and Japanese...



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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NPB Prospects in the AFL

Here is a nice article about the 5 NPB pitching prospects participating in the AFL with the prospect of increased participation by the NBP in the AFL or a JR league as soon as next year.



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Rangers interested in Chih-lung Huang

I had noted in an earlier post that TX had made an offer to a Taiwanese pitcher in 2007 or 2008, but that he chose not to sign with anyone. This is that guy. At that time, he was reported to have an AA FB that sat 92, flashed 94. However, given his size, (5-9 175) and age (23) he will be destined for a bullpen role. In addition, coming into this season, his velo was said to have been average at best (86-90, flashing 92), so, TX must believe that they can recuperate him in some way to have maintained interest over a couple-three years. He also has a slider and forkball. I believe he was in college last year but I'm not sure where he pitched this season, whether is was in college or in an amateur league.

His original asking price was 300k but he was offered between 100-200k by interested ML clubs. I imagine that he would get less than 100k at this time unless he has seen a velo increase this season. Indeed, the article suggests that he was back up to the low 90s at the end of the season, at the Asian games and in his WBC appearances, so he could probably get 150k. The only reason that I would like this sign is to create thicker ties with Taiwain (as with the Nam/Ahn signings with Korea; as with the Maeda/Fukumori/Ueno signings with Japan)to position TX to compete for future prospects with much higher ceilings, however few and far between they might be. Though, if he regains his AA velo, he could be a wildcard bullpen guy for the second half of 2010.



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Kikuchi, Kikuchi

More from NPBT:

I watched Kikuchi pitch as much as I could during this year’s Koshien tournament. He does throw hard, during the games I watched his fastball ranged between about 87 – 96 mph (142-155 kmph). He did get a bit wild when throwing at the higher end of his range and I think he may have a tendency to overthrow at times. Perhaps this contributed to the back strain he suffered during the tournament. This video shows Kikuchi throwing his fastball mostly around 90mph, down in the zone with good command.

In addition to the heater, Kikuchi mixes in a slider and a curveball. He has good movement on both pitches needs to work on commanding them. During Koshien, he would go through stretches where he threw mostly breaking pitches; Goro Shigeno suggested at some point that he may have been trying to polish up his secondary stuff in anticipation of beginning his professional career.

He also has a goofy eephus pitch that I didn’t see him throw at Koshien.






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AFL

There is pitch f/x data on MLB gameday for AFL games this year. Very cool. First game:

Brennan Garr gets hit hard (89-92), with Lil' Lemon and Hogan pinch hitting.



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DR showcase

is this Saturday. Per Kiley McDaniel, there are three agencies represented, most of the top remaining free agents, and the better 2010 prospects. TX, coincidentally, might already have some front office brass there for their annual DR instructs trip. I will gather any news that I can find should I come across anything:

"the HUGE showcase this week in the DR is getting lots of hype. arguelles, mateo, payano, 2010s, etc. talk of anywhere from 50 to 100 scouts"


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Kikuchi

will meet with at least 7 MLB teams from October 19-22 once he has met with some 12 NPB clubs. Other clubs could make offers without taking a meeting, as a reported 10-12 teams have reported interest. It looks like Kikuchi will remain in the NPB draft to keep his options open. It appears that opting out of the draft is only a courtesy to the NPB teams if the player is certain that he will not play pro ball in Japan. Tazawa officially opted out last year upon committing to an ML tract. The draft takes place the last few days of October...



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Friday, October 9, 2009

Kikuchi, Kikuchi

Latest news on Kikuchi, which is to say, no news at all.

It appears that the NPB are attempting to put political pressure on the kid to influence his decision by various means, which isn't surprising:

Teams wants to see Kikuchi
Japan's teams say they want to meet pitcher Yusei Kikuchi.
On Thursday, Nippon Professional Baseball's board of directors met and filed a request to the High School Baseball Federation that asked Iwate Prefecture's Hanamaki Higashi High School to bring the pitcher to the table when NPB's clubs come calling.
The school has said the pitcher, who has said he may sign with a major league club, will not attend meetings with the representatives of Japanese teams.
NPB also requested the youngster not meet with anyone from a major league team until after Japan's amateur draft later this month.


There is also a note that JD says "he's a player" or somesuch. However, as I've written before, and as Patricks hints at in his piece, just because TX has had its name bandied about in the Japanese press more than other teams in no way suggests TX is the frontrunner in the whole process. Given the pressure that seems to be ratcheting up from the NPB side of things - not to mention the fact that his high school coach is his manager in a situation which has national and international sports implications- I would have to think that staying in Japan remains the most likely outcome.



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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kikuchi

Yusei Kikuchi update. The 12 MLB teams that are listed can be regarded as the principle teams that operate in the Pacific Rim generally, FYI.



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BA: J2 Profiles

Given that these guys are still in play, I wanted to post some profiles from BA:

WAGNER MATEO, CF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190
Mateo has participated in MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program in Santo Domingo, traveling to the U.S. the past two years for the junior boys' tournament, where he also pitched. He's now set to be one of the richest prospects in Latin America on July 2. Mateo is listed at 6-foot-2, though scouts say he's about an inch or so shorter. Mateo's swing generates power to all fields, as he's hit opposite-field home runs while showing for some teams in game situations. Scouts say Mateo has a solid approach at the plate for a 16-year-old, showing a short swing from the left side. Some scouts say his swing is more geared toward line drives with occasional power, though his raw power is evident in BP. Mateo doesn't have elite athleticism and his body is already relatively mature. He's run average to solid-average times in the 60-yard dash for some teams, but his lower half is already thick and some scouts say he's a below-average runner from home to first base. He projects at best as a future 40 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, and nearly every scout contacted believes his future is in left field. His bat should carry him to the big leagues, though some scouts aren't convinced that his bat will be enough to carry him in left field. Expect the Cardinals to sign Mateo on July 2 for $3.1 million, which would be a franchise record signing bonus.


DANIEL SANCHEZ, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 175
Sanchez impressed scouts with his velocity at a workout in Venezuela earlier in the spring, then pitched at 91-92 mph and touched 93 at the Perfect Game National Showcase in June at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. While Sanchez throws hard, scouts still have their reservations and aren't convinced he'll add much more velocity in the future. Scouts have called Sanchez's 77-80 mph breaking ball as both a curveball and a slider, with many expecting him to throw a slider as a pro. His mechanics and feel for pitching is advanced, though at times he throws with some effort in his delivery. Sanchez's brother-in-law, Freddy Torres, is Milwaukee's Venezuelan scout and married Sanchez's sister a few years ago. The Brewers are believed to have interest in Sanchez, though he appears to be out of their price range. It's unclear which teams will be competing for Sanchez, but the Yankees are among the teams that might make a play.


EDGAR FERREIRA, LHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190
Ferreira started to gain more notice as July 2 approached by showing remarkable arm strength for a 16-year-old lefty with a fastball that sits at 90-91 mph and has touched 93-94 mph. Ferreira has a projectable body and does it pretty easily with a loose arm, which means he could be throwing in the mid-90s in time. Aside from Ferreira's arm strength, scouts say he's not particularly athletic and the rest of his game is extremely raw. His changeup is a decent pitch, but his breaking ball is in its nascent stages (some scouts think he'll eventually throw a slider) and his control is below-average. The Braves have drafted and signed plenty of lefthanders in recent years and are believed to have interest in Ferreira, while some think the Yankees might also make a push.

JACOB BELTRE, C
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 220
Gary Sanchez is the top catching prospect in Latin America, but Beltre is another catcher generating some interest for his bat. Power is Beltre's best tool, as he already has imposing size and the ability to hit for power to all fields. With Beltre's size and lack of looseness and agility, many scouts think Beltre will move to first base, though he does have some arm strength. He hasn't been playing catcher for long after converting to the position within the last year from third base. With the Giants missing out on Mateo, some believe they will turn their attention to Beltre, who has also reportedly drawn interest from the Brewers and the Cubs.


VICTOR PAYANO, LHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 180
Payano, who is from San Juan, has a projectable body at around 6-foot-4, 180 pounds. He's not among the hardest-throwing prospects in Latin America—his fastball ranges from 85-88 mph with good life—but he has a loose arm and could have a plus fastball as his frame fills out and he possibly grows another inch. Scouts differ on whether Payano throws a curveball or a slider, and while his breaking ball has some promise, it tends to get slurvy. He'll also throw a changeup, though like most 16-year-olds his bread and butter is his fastball. The Red Sox are expected to sign Payano for $900,000 on July 2.

JOHENDI JIMINIAN, RHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 170
Jiminian is one of the more advanced pitchers available, gaining scouts' attention at a January workout in which prized Dominican shortstop Miguel Sano also participated. His fastball sits at 88-89 mph and has touched 91 for some teams. His mechanics and feel for pitching are both advanced for a 16-year-old, with a loose arm and a projectable body. Jiminian shows feel to spin a curveball and will also mix in an occasional sinker. The Rockies and Padres are among the teams believed to have strong interest in Jiminian, who should be looking at a high six-figure bonus.

LEONARDO PERDOMO, RHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 180
Perdomo has touched 91 mph with his fastball, though scouts say his velocity has been inconsistent, ranging from 85-89 mph but with some sink. As he fills out his monster frame, his fastball should be a plus pitch in the future, and he'll mix in a curveball and a changeup as well. His curveball is a work in progress, but he shows occasional feel for the pitch. Given his long, lanky limbs, Perdomo has relatively solid mechanics and a loose arm, working down in the zone with good downhill plane. Perdomo is expected to sign with the Rangers, likely for a bonus of $700,000-$800,000.

LUIS JOLLY, CF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2
Jolly was a name international scouts were mentioning last year as one of the potential top prospects for 2009, but his hitting hasn't progressed to the level of the elite prospects this year. Jolly should still pull in a considerable bonus this year thanks to his projectable body and athleticism. Jolly's best tool is his speed, as he's run the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds. His speed is good enough for center field, though his arm strength is below-average and he doesn't have an explosive first step. It's not clear where Jolly will sign.




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J2 showcase, 10/17

I think I might have mentioned this last month, but If I didn't, Jorge Arangure and Kiley McDaniel are tweeting about it now.

There will be a big showcase down Dominican way on 10/17. Mateo, Payano, and Arguelles will be there. Unless it is limited to certain agencies, you might expect to see the remaining Dominican free agents make an appearance as well. I'm interested in getting more reports on LHP Payano, who had his contract nixed by Boston(~9ook) due to some concerns about his shoulder.

There is usually not a lot of press about these kinds of things, but given the buzz 2 weeks out, maybe we'll get some first-hand reports, as there will be both workouts, side cessions, and at least one or more games apparently. My inside source for J2 stuff is apparently about to hang up his cleats, but I am hoping that he might go out with a bang by covering the event in person.

Another interesting thing is that it is possible that some of the Ranger's front office people will also be there (Warsh, JD - but you'd expect Preller and Batista to be there anyways) as they are supposed to take a trip down in the next couple of weeks for DSL Instructs.


Misc Note: There is a rumor from at least one source that (3b/RF) Rossell Herrera might have his contract voided by Colorado (550k). No reasons given, but his power potential was the big draw for this kid, with some questions about his swing apparently.




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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Noel Arguelles; Pacific Rim detritus

One of the most intriguing intl. FA pitchers still on the market is Cuban Noel Arguelles. Arangure tweets that he is making the rounds again:

Hearing that Cuban FA LHP Noel Arguelles might be soon throwing again for teams. Regrouped after he was having problems with his velocity.

Actually JA is right about the velo but for the wrong reasons. Arguelles, according to one Dominican source, was taken of the showcase circuit because he got fat and out of shape, hence the reduction in velo. JA got it wrong in his last tweet about the kid around a month ago. JA received reports that his workouts were strong even though Arguelles' agency took him off the market right after those workouts. Why? Because his workouts were not impressive at all.

So there are clearly some makeup issues with Arguelles that clubs should be concerned about, but throws 92-95 at his best with a good curveball. However, Aruguelles could merit a 7 figure multi-year contract (along the lines of Boston's offer to Cuban SS Jose Iglesias, say 4yrs/8-10million (2-3 million bonus)and I hope TX is all over him.

There are some really nice international FAs still on the market. Here is a recap of some of the ones that are still available that have been tied to TX to some greater or lesser degree:


OF Amaury Capellan (might have signed); 1B Jacobo Beltre; OF Eladio Moronta (age 20); P Luis Lopez; RHP Leo Perdomo; P J. Escudero; INF Jean Batista; LHP Edgar Ferreira; RHP Rafael DePaula (susp); RHP Noel Arguelles; SS Gioskar Amaya (VZ); and catcher Ernesto Leon (VZ); LHP, Aroldis Chapman (CU); LHP Yosei Kikuchi(JP); RHP Daniel Sanchez - VISA (VZ); RHP Johendi Jiminian (VISA); clg RHP, Kazuhito Futagami (jp); clg RHP, Hisashi Takeuchi (jp); Miguel Nunez, 6.6, RHP (Sleeper);


As far as I can tell, all of the top Korean/Taiwanese have already signed, with the headliners signing, as usual, with the Cubs and Mariners. However, the FA rules and timelines are different for these two countries. Normally, most of the signings occur between March and June of a give year. Why is this? Generally, agents are forbidden to sign players until the year they turn 18 so most graduate high school unlike in the Dominican (though it is possible that they might be able to agree on a contract when they turn 16, i'm not entirely certain about this). For college players, most seem to sign after they complete their senior years. Not sure if there is a written rule governing this but that is the way it seems to functions at least.

So, from all that I have read, after the J2 deadline and after the NPB draft, there are a lot of year-end national and sometimes regional tournaments and showcases that take place from early November to early December in which all of the top national HS talent participates (not sure if their are college equivalent showcases). All ML teams who are interesting in Pacific Rim talent attend these. Some of them, as in Japan, involve major league teams as sponsors like the Cubs and Seattle, or who are involved in other ways.

The difference then in these two countries then is that the equivalent J2 period is March through June, with everyone finalizing their "boards" at the end of the showcase/tournament phase in mid-December. So what does all this mean for TX? If you don't hear of a PR signing (Taiwan/Korea that is) before May of any given year, there probably won't be one of consequence. There are other signings that take place after this but they are usually second tier guys. For example, TK Ahn signed with TX in August I believe with his delayed signing due to an apparently preciptious decline in his value from the previous year.





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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Colborn Hagiography

There have been a couple of reports that (MLBTR, BBTIA) in the last week that TX is the front runner to sign Yusei Kikuchi. I don't think this is the case. NPBT suggested that TX was "among those that seem to have the most interest". Nowhere in that phrase does it suggest that TX is the favorite and all the (10)teams involved are willing to pay a fair Tazawa-like bonus/contract when it comes down to it. All of them have been scouting the kid for a year or more and each team is ready to make an offer when the chance arises. So, when thinking about Japan then, a front runner is something other than someone who will pay - the front runners will always be Boston and NYY. Why is that? Both Boston and NYY (and perhaps a couple other big-market teams) have a long-standing and semi-permanent presence in Japan. They host tournaments, showcases, traveling teams, workshops etc. Texas has none of this in any Pacific Rim country save maybe that prospect powerhouse, Australia.

So, when someone like Kikuchi or Tazawa or Hisashi Takeuchi opt out of the NPB draft, any team that does not have a semi-permanent institutional presence in a country in which sports is rooted first in interpersonal relations, reputation, history, family, trust and respect (with "bling!" a distant second), can all be regarded as longshots. TX saw that with Tazawa last year and it is likely to happen again this year even if they repeat as high bidders.

The other issue I wanted to touch on was the rather strange bit of hagiography that BBTIA engaged in with respect their head Pacific Rim scout Jim Colborn. In this piece, BBTIA lauds Colborn for his work in the Pacific Rim without cause.

To date, Colborn has not signed anyone of consequence from any Pacific Rim country: 2 koreans (Nam, Ahn) and 2 Australians (Thompson, Stanford). All of these are fringe prospects. The only other note that I came across on any other offers was an offer made to a Taiwainese pitcher back in 2007 I think. It could hardly be said that Texas' has a substantial presence in the Pacific Rim and it seems to have very little interest in Korean or Taiwanese players while Australian players are generally fringy by definition (baseball has a very small footprint there). So, the idea the Colborn's activities over the last few years represents some sort of Pacific Rim efflorescence is simply wrong. Their priority is still Latin America, and TX will probably never be a big player in Japan unless and they commit to actually being present in Japanese society. To date, they have shown little interest in signing Korean players, where the Cubs reign supreme, or Taiwanese players (generally less highly regarded than Korean baseball). These two markets are really the only ones that are open to TX (or anyone else) as Japan might have one player per year who will opt out of the draft.

In the end, Texas' approach in the Pacific Rim makes little sense to me unless they simply do not view Korean and Taiwanese players as legit. If there is any market that TX has an advantage in it is Korea (chan-ho park) but I haven't heard of a single case of a Cubs-Rangers bidding war over anyone in the last three years that I have been paying attention. Seems like a missed opportunity to me.



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New Dominican League starts this month

Arangure over at Esquina has an article up about a new DR prospect league. He talks a little about the DR academy system that I have speculated about in previous posts. Note however that he frequently slips between "latin american" and "Dominican" when discussing problems with the eviscerating effect that the academy system has had on baseball and society. My claim is that baseball and society (education/infrastructure) and the academy system in Venezuela exist in greater harmony than in the DR. There is a reason that the new league is in the DR after all and that Venezuelan prospects are generally more advanced.


Here is the article in full:


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A new league forms in the Dominican
Friday, October 2, 2009 | Print Entry
Posted by Jorge Arangure Jr.

In explaining the discrepancy between bonus amounts given to American prospects and Latin American prospects, team executives often cite the lack of an infrastructure in Latin America that would allow teams to properly evaluate players.
While Latin American players may stand out in workouts, teams don't know how they would perform in actual games. There are no reliable stats to scrutinize, no real sense of a player's baseball IQ and no read of a player's ability to be coached.

Ulises Cabrera, Brian Mejia and Roberto Morales -- three Latin American based agents from the Pa'lante Management and Consulting Firm -- aim to change perceptions of Latin American prospects by forming the Dominican Prospect League. The concept seems ingenious: gather top Dominican amateur prospects in a once-a-week, four-team league where scouts can watch them play and for which stats will be kept.

"It's one component of what we think are some of the problems in Latin America concerning prospects," Cabrera says. "The first part of implementation is to improve the ability for baseball teams to evaluate the talent."

The league began preliminary games this week and the season opener is slated for Nov. 4. Already the league has received support from several major league teams. This week's practice games, which were attended by scouts from at least 15 teams, were played at the Seattle Mariners' complex in Villa Mella. Next week's practice games will be played at the Cubs' facility in Boca Chica. The league is negotiating with several teams for the right to host the season opener. All games will be played at an MLB facility and the umpires and statisticians will come from the Dominican Summer League.

This week, the league's founders spoke with Lou Melendez, MLB's vice president of international operations, about receiving funding from MLB. Cabrera estimates that operating the league will take about $50,000-$75,000, most of which he hopes will come through sponsorships. Louisville Slugger has agreed to provide some equipment.

"It's an interesting concept," Melendez wrote in an e-mail. "We have to see how it evolves. An immediate benefit is that our scouts will be able to see prospects playing in actual game conditions as opposed to a simple tryout. I told Ulises I wanted to know more about the league and to send me something in writing. Only time will tell if the league succeeds."

The league plans to hire an investigator by opening day to do background and age checks on all players. Ultimately, Cabrera said, the league hopes to have a system in place to drug test players as well. Also, the league will conduct psychological evaluations, just like those done on American prospects. As a preventive measure, the league will hold seminars on drug prevention, money management and cultural assimilation. Baseball clinics run by staff from MLB team academies will ensure that trainers are providing the proper instruction to their players.

"The true purpose is to resolve some issues that have cast a black cloud over baseball over here," Cabrera said. "We're trying to address some concerns that have kept teams from investing money on players here."

Cabrera said that he, Mejia and Morales first considered starting the league several years ago. The most difficult task was to convince trainers to have their players participate. Through Pa'lante's success -- this year the firm represented catcher Gary Sanchez, who signed a $3 million bonus with the Yankees -- the founders gradually found support.

To alleviate concerns of prospect poaching, the league does not require the players to be represented by Pa'lante. Cabrera said he represents only a handful of players currently committed to playing. Players who participate must pledge to surrender 1 percent of their signing bonuses to help fund the league, which is in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization. To avoid injuries, pitchers will adhere to strict pitch counts. To ensure all players get exposure, rosters will be kept to 20 players. There will be no age limit.

To secure the best players, the founders hired four of the top trainers in the Dominican: Amaury Nina from San Cristobal, Astin Jacobo from San Pedro de Macoris, Josue Herrera from Santo Domingo and Enrique Soto from Bani. The four trainers will manage the four teams and also will help find players to participate. Of the four, Soto -- who has previously been accused of stealing bonuses -- certainly is the most controversial. But Cabrera said everyone in the league has pledged to follow the rules.

"We're telling people that we can all pull on the same rope and work on a concept for the greater good," Cabrera said. "People are starting to realize that if things continue as they are, then there won't be a marketplace."

Cabrera also sought the advice of several big names, which has helped legitimize the league. Former Washington Nationals and Tigres del Licey manager Manny Acta, and Mark Newman -- the Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations -- are on the league's advisory board.

"Anything that brings competition to the young players in the DR is a big deal," Newman wrote in an e-mail. "Kids need to learn the game. Currently, they train for tryout camps and they need to train for games. This will be a step in the right direction."

Want to be part of the conversation? Write Jorge at jorge.arangure@espn3.com in English or Spanish.




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Main Rebuttle?

In response to my post to Jason Cole about the purported connection between Main's illness and his shitty season, he responded as such:

Posted: Today 1:39 AM
Re: Wilmer Font in the BA chat today
Wow.


Okay, first off, I said "since it appears"

And secondly, I asked the question to Dave Chavarria, his pitching coach and the man in charge of him for the entire season. The 99% thing is a quote from him. I'm sorry if you aren't going to trust the coaches, but you should read the interviews before calling me out.

Here is the quote: Cole: Michael Main has been gone for awhile, but I’d like to talk about him for a second. How much do you think his struggles this year were more attributed to just not having the strength because of the sickness?

Chavarria: I think probably 99 percent of it was. I don’t care who you are—whether you’re in the big leagues or in Arizona in rookie ball—if you’re sick and going out there and battling, you don’t have the strength that you normally do.

We kind of saw that in his fastball. His fastball kind of dropped a little bit. Last year, he was 93-94 and all of the sudden it’s 88-90. When you’re not used to throwing at that velocity, you try and do more. You try and grind out things more.

For me, I think his whole season was based on him being sick and not being able to get over it. But next year, or in instructional league hopefully, he’s bouncing back really well. Hopefully he gets himself back to form, where he was a year and a half ago in instructional league and he’s off to the races again.

He has the type of stuff that goes from him maybe starting back here next year and then within about five or six starts, who knows? He could be on the fast track, where he was. He has that type of stuff and he has that mental toughness in him.


Main's velocity had been down pretty much the entire season and he didn't appear as strong as normal.

The loss of strength was something that came long before he realized he was sick. It wasn't rashes or anything of the sort that made him [and the organization] realize he was sick. But I'd rather not go into that information because it's not really for public disclosure.

Main has more than his share of issues on the mound and I haven't been as high as most are on him, so no, I don't think him struggling has to be sickness. But we're talking about a guy who has consistently worked low-to-mid-90s in just about every single outing since becoming a professional. Then he comes into Bakersfield and suddenly has little command and a huge drop in velocity, then he is diagnosed with the sickness. He gets better, comes back, and he was low-to-mid-90s in the AZL, in the late-season stint with Bakersfield, and that's where he's sitting again in instructs. All signs point to [in addition to what Chavarria says] the sickness being the primary cause for struggles.


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I'll simply ignore the fact that Cole failed to properly attribute Chavarria as his source until his rebuttal.

Be that as it may, given the fact that Chavarria's account doesn't jive with the claims of either article that came out ~July 19th - articles in which they both interviewed Main directly - I'm reserving judgement until Main sets the story straight himself. What seems clear from Cole's response, is that the connection is still being inferred (secondary parties, ad hoc evidence) and has yet to be confirmed by Main himself. Cole also implies that some aspects of the issue are not for the public so maybe the hoped for interview with Main at instructs to clarify what, if any, relation exists between his illness and performance this season will never be take place. That's ok with me really, as its the discursive analysis of this "rumored causation" that interests me in the end; the assumption that there was a connection at all persisted for 3 months before Cole's inteview with Chavarria. And of course, this particular analysis can be situated in the larger universe of my project to undermine any and all prospect homerism; I am the grinch who stole prospect cheer.





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Instructs Prospecting 101 ("NO HOMOS ALLOWED")

Rule 1.

You'll learn almost nothing new or relevant about a prospect through the Instructs reportage that has just appeared on stage that you didn't already know about that player based on his 2009 season and/or pre-draft reports/college experience if he has yet to make his debut. Instructs is a place to work not a showcase and no generalizations about a prospect's future can be made by what goes on there.


....that might be my only Instructs rule, kinda like the fact that my NAP (not a prospect) series is a series of one (Reiner Bermudez), but I'm sure I'll come up with a few more. Better yet, just read Newberg as an exemplification of that rule as he hypes up his favs for 2010 with the usual baseball cliches and maudlin prose: for Newberg, Instructs is really nothing less than the distillation of the magical story of baseball as a dad, blogger, american, err, lover...you get my point. What I might do is start a Newberg or Instructs Watch to deconstruct the hype. Or maybe I just won't read Newberg at all, I mean, I don't normally do so. But at the head of a slow off-season, I have to read everything prospecty, so, well... I like the Newberg Watch idea, so maybe I'll do that. If MJH (mike hindman) goes, I might nab him as well.


Newberg Watch entry #1:

Solis/Yan flashback alert -
Guillermo Pimentel. As with those two formerly over-hyped busts, Newberg has fallen in love with Pimentel's physical tools and we will hear about how fast he runs, how powerful his arm is, and well, just that, he looks like a baseball player - he has "it". This despite his rather unimpressive US debut in his third year, with feeble and declining power #s. In fact, you'll run into a lot of that kind of man-worship running through Newberg's prospect fantasies: lithe bodies, fleet runners, agile turns, powerful swings, explosive power, easy motion - Newberg's connection to baseball is through men's bodies it seems. Maybe we can put together a genealogy or archaeology of this subtext of homoerotic desire to reconstruct Newberg's method at prospect evaluation? Nah, it'll just be fun to send up these types of charged manly metaphors and archetypes that underpin his particular brand of baseball enchantment.




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Moronta and DePaula

A Dominican-based source claims that Moronta's suspension was lifted because he resubmitted papers to MLB showing his accurate age. Not sure how the consulate will react to this deception as they have to approve the issuance of his visa after he signs. The NYY might be interested in signing him for no more than 50k. The fact that his deception occurred before he actually signed with a team might have played a factor in the reduced suspension combined with, per this source, some "political influence".

Per the same source, DePaula on the other hand is maintaining that his papers are accurate so it seems like his suspension will probably be maintained though there seem to be a # of reliable sources (both from scouts and official Dominican ones)in his favor so signing with a Japanese team is not a foregone conclusion.



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