Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AFL Reprise

Badler: AFL Velos

Excerpt from Ben Badler:


New team, same stuff: Rangers righthander Danny Gutierrez spent most of the 2009 season on the disabled list, but he has shown two major league-quality pitches when healthy. Gutierrez, who the Rangers picked up from the Royals in September in the deal that sent catcher Manny Pina and outfielder Tim Smith to the Royals, showed a 90-94 mph fastball and a big-breaking 71-75 mph curveball in the AFL.

“He can really command his fastball," said Surprise pitching coach Tom Phelps, the Yankees’ pitching coach at Double-A Trenton this season. "He’s about as good as anybody here at commanding his fastball, and he knows how to change speeds. His curveball’s a good change of speed from his fastball—it really slows the hitters down. He’s a guy who could develop his changeup a little bit more and learn how to use it, but his fastball’s so good and he can command it so well, that’s how he attacks hitters.”



##########

International Roundup

Various reports: Formerly suspended 17yo turned reinstated 20yo CF Eladio Moronto signs an inflated deal with NYY at 570K. Best tool: plus plus speed. Downside: can't play baseball. He'll be 21yo next season during his debut so don't look for big things from him. The message here: 570k is wishing well coinage for a big market team.


Arguelles has most recently been tied to the Rays, Seattle the NYY and Oakland. Its a bit of an off-season fluff piece really but the most important observation: no mention of TX. For that matter, I've heard nary a word of any interest from TX in chapman in the sports tabloids. Hopefully the NYY spend all of their money on Chapman and leave us Arguelles. If small market Oakland steals him away from under us on the heels of the Ynoa deal, Hicks should finally be put out to pasture.


Texas might be interested in 35yo RHP Hinsanori Takahashi, though he strikes me as the next Fukimori. Best 2 pitches are 2-seam (85-89.5, sitting 87) and screwball (75-82.5, sitting ~78.5). He rarely touches 90 with his 2-s sitting about 87 it seems.


Some good stuff from La Esquina (sub):

• Cuban first baseman free agent Jose Julio Ruiz worked out for the Oakland A's, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners last week. While Ruiz is a free agent, he has yet to be unblocked by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), so he is not yet eligible to sign with a team.

• Cuban pitcher Israel Soto, 22, worked out for the Boston Red Sox this week. According to agent Joel Bello, Soto threw 30 pitches and hit 97-99 mph on the radar gun. He is scheduled to throw for several teams on Saturday.

• The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms with 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Santo Aybar, confirmed Brewers international scouting director Fernando Arango. Aybar was ranked the 18th best July 2 prospect by Baseball America. Aybar's deal with the Brewers is contingent on him passing an age investigation.

On Friday, heralded Oakland A's prospect Michael Ynoa, who was signed last year to a record $4.25 million bonus, will pitch in a game for the first time in almost seven months when he makes his debut for Oakland's instructional league team in the Dominican Republic. Ynoa, 17, who missed the entire 2009 season with elbow problems, threw a pain free, eight-batter, 25-pitch simulated batting practice session last week in front of A's general manager Billy Beane and assistant GM David Forst in the Dominican.
"He looked great and pitched free and easy and pain-free," Forst said. "It's an excellent first step for him."

During that session, Ynoa was throwing in the 90-91 mph range, which may raise some concerns considering that Ynoa's ability to throw in the mid-90s was what got him the record bonus as a 16-year-old signed out of the Dominican. But Forst said that Ynoa was only throwing at 80-85 percent effort.

"I don't think anyone has any concerns that he'll get back to that," Forst said. "I don't think anyone is concerned about his velocity."

Ynoa will throw one inning -- or a maximum of 25 pitches -- on Friday, and will throw a total of 10 innings in the instructional league. After Friday, Forst said, Ynoa will throw a pair of two-inning outings and one three-inning outing.

Mateo to see eye specialist

Amateur Dominican outfield prospect Wagner Mateo will visit an eye specialist next week in Florida with hopes that a new diagnosis will help speed up negotiations for a new contract. Mateo, 16, had signed a team-record $3.1 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on July 2 that was voided because the team had concerns about what they determined was Mateo's deteriorating eye condition.

"We don't think it's a more serious problem than we originally thought," Mateo's trainer Edgar Mercedes said, "but we are looking for a more accurate diagnosis from a respected specialist in the U.S. that can help reassure teams."

Mercedes said about 15 teams are still interested in Mateo but that all of them are looking for answers in regards to his vision problems.

To help with negotiations, Mercedes has enlisted the help of noted agent Adam Katz, whose company represents such stars as Sammy Sosa and Hanley Ramirez, and who helped Mercedes negotiate a record $4.25 million bonus for Michael Ynoa last year. "We think that Mateo's contract will likely have specific clauses [related to his vision], so I hired Adam Katz to help me with the details," Mercedes said.

At this point it seems unlikely that Mateo will sign before the end of the year. More realistically, he will sign sometime in January. Mercedes said Mateo is set to participate in a Perfect Games tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla., on Jan. 8-10.

Payano may sign soon

Mercedes also said that 16-year-old left-handed pitcher Victor Payano, whose $900,000 contract was voided by the Boston Red Sox because of shoulder issues, may soon sign for a similar amount with another team.

Payano is scheduled to throw for the Blue Jays on Thursday.

"He's going to sign this month, I think," Mercedes said.



#############

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just for fun -

#1 underrated player TX-DSL2= Matt Harrison

Most likely to make debut by 8/1: Schepp (pen), DGut(pen), Smoak, MaxRam (DH - I throw him in though his debut was in 2008), Poveda (starter, injury replacement- likely won't be needed in that role with the depth we have), Kiker (setup if his command returns, his velo projects to improve out of the pen and if his CB becomes more consistent vs LHB - in the end, likely spends the whole year in AAA as a starter as he has lots to work on)
Breakout players: Golson (my 2010 reach), Brigham
Most underrated: (Timothy Smith), Sardinas, Mendonca, Doyle, Bleier, Easy Eddie Garcia, Carlos Melo, Kirkman, Trevor Hurley, Robbie Erlin, Poveda, Moscoso (as a starter), Ruben Sierra Jr.
Most overlooked: Alex Gonzalez
Sleepers: Justin Miller, Carlos Oropesa, Robert Morillo, Carlos Ramirez, Santiago Chirino Hill, Zeke Rijo, Juan Grullon, TK Ahn, Kevin Arrendell, Jose Monegro, Chris Matlock, Keith Campbell, J. Gunter, A. Mendoza, R. Rojas, L.Gil, J. Mavare
Ceilings limited by character: Velazquez, DGut
Celings limited by chronic injury: Main, MaxRam, NeRa, DGut
Ceilings limited by possible makeup issues (defined broadly): (Madrigal), Font, Kiker, Castillo, Beau Jones, NeRa, MaxRam, Clark Murphy, Beltre
Players who don't follow "the plan": Beltre, Kiker, DGut
Slowest starter, Fastest finisher: Chad Tracy, Eric Hurley
Most likely to be a ML platoon player of some sort: MaxRam, Moe
Starter most likely to be moved to pen (eventually): Kennil Gomez(shoulder), Kasey Kiker(makeup/curveball), DGut(makeup/changeup), NeRa (makeup/changeup), Main (health/changeup)
The better Grullon: Juan
Most likely to implode: Pedro Strop, Jumbo Diaz, 2009 Frisco bullpen
Most likely to explode: Pedro Strop
Shape most unlike a prospect: Round (Jumbo Diaz)
Highest proportion of breathless reportage: Moreland, Telis, Tullis, Alvarez, Escobar, Matt Thompson, Kiker, Mendonca (in the roundly negative)
Most overrated: Beltre, Kiker (as starter), Lemon, GG (G. Grullon), Guillermo Pimentel, AJ Murray, Tatusko, Matt Thompson, Richard Alvarez, (Manny Pena) Laughter, (Lueke)
Most undeserved patience during the development process: J. Arias
Player who received the least patience: J. Vallejo, German Duran
Most likely to spend 2 years at every level (and still be considered prospects by many): Michael Schlact, Zach Phillips
Most likely to spend 3 years at one level: Mauro Gomez, Ian Gac
Minor league coaching future: Cody Podraza
Least pitchability: Geuris Grullon, Reiner Bermudez, Justin King, Justin Gutsie, Kevin Castner
Least hittability: Braxton Lane, Riley Cooper, Engel Beltre
Least likely to appear in full season ball: Riley Cooper (NFL), Miggie de Los Santos (Visa)
Most likely to play in Japan: Alexi Ogando, Omar Beltre
Least Likely to make it out of AA: Engel Beltre
Players I like to root for: Chad Tracy, Renny Osuna, Trevor Hurley, Justin Miller, Vinny DiFazio, Easy Eddie, Chris Gradoville, Kevin Richardson, Cody Eppley, Chris Matlock, Gentry, Nam, Roark, Lawson, Butler, Eddie Martinez, Morrison, Campbell, Hunter, Monegro, Miggie, William Connor, Taylor Vail, Jared Prince
Most intriguing back-end relievers: Justin Miller, Johnny Gunter, Fabio Castillo
Most intriguing relievers we know next to nothing about: Kevin Arrendell, Jose Monegro, Francisco Mendoza
Most intriguing ceiling: Carlos Melo (#2 starter or closer)
Pitchers who might still have starting in their futures: johnny Gunter, Keith Campbell, Kyle Ocampo
Most mysterious switch to the bullpen (2009): Kyle Ocampo
Biggest question mark: Clark Murphy, Tim Murphy
Dark horse superstar: Ruben Sierra Jr.
Talent evaluation gone awry (moves)? Jose Vallejo, German Duran
Talent evaluation gone awry (draft/Intl)? Evan Reed (3), Tim Murphy (3), Matt West (2), NeRa (1s), Esdras Abreu (550k), Blake Beavan (1)
Most overpaid: Richard Alvarez (per Cole: 800K)
Most intriguing Prospect least likely to engender any discussion at all: Adalberto Flores
Player least likely to be his former self: Eric Hurley
DSL players most likely to make US debut in Spokane: Randol Rojas, Leonel Gil, Jose Mavare, Francisco Mendoza, Ayenil Mendoza, Denny Peralta, Kelvin de Leon
Players most likely to break into my top 10 by mid-season: DGut, Main, Velazquez, Mendonca
Most likely sit plus with their fastball (at its best): Melo (reportedly, 92-95+97), Dgut(pen, 93-95+97), Brigham (93-95), Ross (93-95), Perez (93-95), Castillo(pen 92-95+97), Gunter(pen +95), Main (+96), Moscoso (93-94 at his best as a starter with plus movement/deception), Trevor Hurley (hard sinker, 90-93, GB and SM pitch)
those sitting plus-plus with theirs? Schepp, Feliz, Font, Strop, Bermudez, Jumbo
Plus fastball least likely to matter: Castner (inj), King (inj), Gutsie (inj), Bermudez, Ovispo de los Santos, Laughter, Lueke, Jumbo
Players in the system who have hit 98: Feliz, Holland, Harrison, Font, Schepp, Strop, Bermudez, Jumbo - (Honorable mention to Luis Mendoza who has flashed 96-98 during the last 2 years)
Starting pitchers whose hype outstrips their realistic ceiling: Edwin Escobar (#4), Braden Tullis (#4), Matt Thompson (#5/pen), Joe Wieland (#4/pen), Boscan (#4/pen), Alvarez (#5 at best)
Most problematic MiL to ML transition least thought out by prospect geeks: rotation to bullpen - justification: "Oh, well, they're lefties of course". (think Harrison, Kirkman and for RHP, Eric Hurley)
The area most nebulous and under-analyzed by prospect geeks: hittability (or how a hitter hits as much as how a pitcher throws)



###########

System Rankings/Ceilings

BBTIA just released their top 25 today so I thought I would repost my lists from 2 months ago. Prospect ceilings are noted next to each entry. I will likely post revised preseason profiles (see side bar) over the next 2 months so don't hold your breath...

Draft of my top 40
Draft of my back 40
Draft of DSL Talent



#############

Nuggets from Grey on TX AFL kids

From Insider QA....good stuff -


ME:

Follow up on some aspects of TX prospects:

Scheppers: What did you think of the slider and change (in games or bullpens)?

Gutierrez: Has he added a cutter ~87mph? How did the change look? Gutierrez's response to Terry Clark (AAA pitching coach) that he needed to throw his change: "I don't need it." Any scuttlebutt on his attitude since the trade from KC?

Moreland: Any weaknesses as hitter that might limit his ceiling? For scouts who are skeptical, what is their pov?


JASON GREY:

goyo: Mentioned the change in my recap of Scheppers; did not see the slider (or the cutter he supposedly has) in any of the outings I watched. - was mostly 4-seam, CB, occasional change

Gutierrez: No, 4-seam, 2-seam, CB, CHG is his repertoire. Low-80s change with some fade; below-average now but with some potential. Did throw it a bit down here, so after being a little headstrong about it early, did incorporate it. No real negs so far since the deal.

Moreland: tendency to get big, but biggest thing is bat is slow. However, he has such a good approach and feel for hitting it hasn't been an issue yet, but could be going forward.



############

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chih-Lung Huang

There was some speculation that TX was interested in Huang, and had been following him for a few years (offering him a 130k contract a couple years ago).
He ended up signing with an NPB club, the Yominuri Giants. Huang probably would have competed for a BP spot next year and sent to the high minors if not ready. At his best he was a low 90's guy and only 5'9" but young (~21) and Taiwanese (why not?).



##########

Chapman Update

In a strange turn of affairs, Chapman has switched agencies at this late juncture. Arangure has the update and tweets that it might give the NYY an advantage since his new agency also has a number of high profile Yankees' players.

I don't really expect TX to be players for him. It doesn't make sense for TX to add that kind of salary (at least 8million for 4 years you would think) unless he can make the 25 as a back end bullpen guy or starter a/o 4/1. Now if TX had a new owner and an established 5-man starting rotation maybe you can wait for him to break into the rotation in 2011 but that is not the case right now. I'd rather sign a lower ceiling guy like Arguelles and wait 2 years for him for a lot less money and then sign Igarashi with the savings (why not?). If Arguelles turns out to be a mid-rotation caliber lefty, I'd be very happy. And the cachet of adding a Japanese and a Cuban to our system could prove a boon to recruiting others...



###########

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keith Law's Top 50 FA

He has a few intl. guys on the list that I have written about before:


####################################

Rank Player
5 Aroldis Chapman
Age: 21 Bats: L Throws: L
Position: Starting pitcher
'09 team: Cuban national team Status: Free agent



Chapman is the wild card of the free-agent market, as his track record is largely unknown, he's barely thrown for clubs since defecting and he's represented by agents who haven't handled a free agent of this magnitude before. When Chapman is on, he'll show No. 1 starter stuff, with a fastball in the mid-90s (and yes, as high as 101 mph) with good tail and a mid-80s slider that will show plus with legitimate tilt, although the latter pitch isn't consistent. He does have a soft changeup but lacks feel for it and pushes it out of his hand rather than selling it with good arm speed. His command isn't good, and he's more thrower than pitcher, with a very loose arm that makes the velocity come out easily. Since defecting, he has worked on his body and scouts who've seen him recently say he's stronger and in better overall shape. He might be a No. 1 starter; he might be an ace closer; he might be a mountain of frustration. Is that worth $60 million? Or the fourth- or fifth-biggest contract of the offseason? Not to me, but he's worth some eight-figure amount because of the almost limitless upside.


10 Noel Arguelles
Age: 19 Bats: L Throws: L
Position: Starting pitcher

'09 team: None Status: Free agent

Arguelles defected from the Cuban junior national team with current Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias in the summer of 2008 and is just now at the point where he's ready and able to sign with a major league team. Arguelles is 19 and already pitches with a solid-average fastball, although before he defected he had worked as high as 91-94 and will probably return there once he's throwing on a regular schedule again. His changeup projects better than his curveball, with the change a potentially plus pitch. What everyone notices about Arguelles is his body -- loose, lean, athletic, with good projection; his new agents took him underground for a few weeks to get him back into playing shape and the results have definitely impressed. If he was an American high school or junior college player, he'd be a solid first-rounder with a chance to be a top-10 guy and would probably be a $4 million bonus baby. As a free agent, he should easily double that.


Rank Player
25 Ryota Igarashi
Age: 30 Bats: R Throws: R
Position: Relief pitcher
'09 team: Tokyo Yakult Swallows Status: Free agent
Tokyo Yakult Swallows
2009 STATS
GM 44 IP 43.2 SV 3 BB 6 K 42 ERA 2.47


It's unclear whether Igarashi will come over from Nippon Professional Baseball this winter, but he's eligible to do so and has expressed interest in playing in the majors in the past. Igarashi is a slightly wild power reliever who missed all of 2007 and part of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery, but has fully recovered and handled a regular workload in 2009. He has a very quick arm and has been clocked at 98 mph, although he'll probably pitch at 93-96 in a one-inning role in the U.S. His best off-speed pitch is a mid- to upper-80s splitter with good bottom, and he can throw the pitch for strikes instead of waiting for hitters to chase it in the dirt. He has some deception in his delivery, and he's almost a "drop-and-drift" guy without great forward momentum towards the plate.


################################


Couple of notes -

Arguelles: the comment on his "nice lithe body" is a bit strange given that he was taken off the market for a month because he had gotten fat and disappointed at his workouts. There is no reason to believe that he won't regain his velo range once he gets back into to shape and starts pitching competitively again - he last pitched in the summer of 2008 when he defected. As a LHP with international experience, he has a lot of value and would likely start off in highA.

Igarashi: Law overstates his velo, as he touched 98 years ago before his injury and will be 31 next year. However, he could be viewed as a setup guy who pitches 92-94 so he could be worth a shot with TX. He would also give TX some Japan clout which could always prove useful during next year's NPB draft...



##############

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2010 Roster Projections

I've added my 2010 system-wide roster projections to the sidebar. If you have trouble accessing them on google docs, just leave a comment...

Only Kirkman and Phillips were added to the 40 today. Mike Ballard, Beau Jones, Brennan Garr and Chad Tracy were left unprotected.



###########

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Minor League FA

The following players filed for minor league free agency on 11/9:

AJ Murray, Travis Metcalf, Majewski, Gac, Mauro Gomez, Casey Benjamin, Adam Fox, Bryan Corey, Lizard, Ragsdale, Peguero, Brian Gordan, Huffman, Leone, Hinckley, Kevin Thompson, Josh Rupe


MiL FAs who have re-signed (11/13):
Jose Jumbo Diaz, Adalberto Flores, Guilder Rody, Kevin Richardson (11/1)


########

Friday, November 13, 2009

News and notes

AFL Today:
DGut throws 3 changeups(!!) today in his 3 innings. He clearly reads this here blog.
Scheppers implodes in his inning.
Teagarden is vying to be sent back to AAA in '10 (0-5, 4so, .158).
Moe walks 3 times with an rbi.

Here is a nice post-game article with lotsa Lil' Lemon quotes. It confirms my suspicion that he is playing CF due to a lack of OF and the opportunity to get more at bats.

Here's a puff piece on Nelson Cruz.



###########

Chapman, Lemon

Here is an AP interview with Aroldis Chapman (in which he says he throws 5 pitches- yeah right).

Also, Sickel's take on Lemon, who he was happy to comment on, but who didn't see him in the AFL, only during his second half swoon:


Marcus Lemon
Ceiling: utility infielder or starting second baseman? And if you happen to have seen him in CF, do tell….

lemon
didn’t see him in Arizona. I did see in him August, and I don’t think he’ll hit enough to be a regular. Good athlete though, hustles.




#############

Badler's corner

Excerpts from Badler's free notebook on Scheppers and a salutary warning:



"• Tanner Scheppers has created buzz by pitching in the mid- to high-90s for Surprise. A likely top 10 pick out of Fresno State in the 2008 draft prior to hurting his shoulder that April, Scheppers opted not to sign with the Pirates when he slipped to 48th overall in the draft that year. After rehab and pitching for the St. Paul Saints in independent ball this spring, he signed with the Rangers for $1.25 million as the 44th overall selection.

One scout pointed out that Scheppers still has a hitch in the back of his delivery, but he’s flashed plenty of arm strength in his brief appearances.

“He’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s trying to do, especially for not being in pro ball,” Phelps said. “I know he played one year in the independent league after he got drafted, but for a young kid he’s pretty mature and he’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. He’s got that plus fastball, he’s got good angle with it. He doesn’t have the command with it yet, but when he gets the command, he could be something pretty special.

“With that arm speed, he’s got a curveball that has big bite and can be a plus pitch for him. The changeup he’s still developing, he’s still trying to trust and use it in the game. When you’ve got that big plus fastball a lot of times it’s tough for him to start working in that changeup, but I think over the next few years he’ll develop that.”


#####################


"Finally, a word of caution for any conclusions to draw from the AFL, be it from the numbers or first-hand observations. The AFL is a great way to congregate prospects in a relatively small area. While at a typical minor league game there might be just a few future big leaguers on the field, almost everyone here in the AFL is worth bearing down on.

Still, from seeing some of these players during the regular season compared to now, and from talking to scouts about the challenges of AFL evaluations, putting too much stock into what you see at the AFL can be dangerous.

The first week of the season can be especially deceiving with hitters and pitchers coming back from a long layoff. Scouts who have been around the league for a while say that several players’ mechanics look sharper than they did the first week of the season. Velocities have greater variance here the first week of the season as pitchers are getting back into their routines, and throughout the entire AFL season because they throw in shorter stints than they do in the regular season.

Then there are other players who simply look tired. I’ve heard a few players now who said they’re just looking forward to having the season end and are ready to go home at this point.

One other major variable affecting the hitters is that they don’t get to play every day. During the minor league season, any player who is a prospect is going to be in the lineup every day. That just doesn’t happen in the AFL, where every organization is going to want their position prospects to play as many games as possible. They might take batting practice, but not facing live pitching every day the way they’re used to can throw some guys off.

So while the AFL is a great tool for evaluators, it’s important to remember not to get too carried away with what happens here."



#########

Moves and Notes

Travis Metcalf and Mike Henckley declare free agency.

Is it time to worry about MaxRam yet? His batting average has dropped 30pts to .207 (.189 vs rhp, 27g) during an 8game slump ( .083 ). Remember that this is the same league that he won the MVP in last winter. Given that he played in 50 games last winter after a full season, and came out of the league with 1 or 2 wrist injuries that shelved him for much of 2009, I'm not sure I like the idea of him playing again this fall. Why not give him some time off to get healthy? Given the uncertainty about his health (and all of the possible bad habits that may have emerged attempting to compensate for his injuries while playing), I'm not sure it is time to panic yet if his VZWL performance falls flat.

However, his prospect rating has definitely taken a hit in my book, as I'm not sure he can be considered a catcher proper anymore given that he has essentially missed a year of his development at the position, perhaps the most critical year of his career given how ready he was thought to be as a hitter along with the failure to convince many he had the chops to remain at the position. I think he is most likely a DH now as no team is going to want to wait for him for 2-3 years at the ML level to develop as a catcher going on 26 - Salty is an ugly reminder of what poor ML catching looks like when your skill set is not adequate to the task.

After a disastrous 0-5 outing with 4 strikeouts, Lemon was batting .166 with zero xbh after his first 6 AFL games, continuing a ruinous second half for him. He appeared overmatched in a league which was about the same skill level as Frisco. The coaching staff apparently saw a few things and helped him make some adjustments of the next 5 days in which he did not appear in a game. Over the last 9 games(34ab) since his return, he is batting .441 with 2 doubles 2 triples 2 homers 9 rbi and 8 runs with a walk and 2 strikeouts. IF his bat comes around next year, he has a chance as a starting second baseman it would seem, but he did not have a good year in the end. I wonder if scouts think he can play SS well enough to land a utility infielder role, primarily at second, sometimes at SS; His fringy range might be a problem. If not, this would definitely crimp his chances to make a roster some day as he could succeed only in the capacity of a starter and all of the stars would have to align. I seem to say this every year on the kid, but I think we might have a pretty definitive answer around 8/1/2010, when you hope he might have been in AAA for a month or two by that time...

PRWL started yesterday. The roster sizes are enormous as they had to integrate the Cangrejeros' players throughout the league due to the disbanding of that team over a stadium use dispute. So, don't expect to see them get a lot of playing time. I was hoping that Miguelito would get a fair amount of time just to see if he can handle what will be AA-AAA pitching with lots of professional experience. As I stated previously, Sierra and Torres are likely considered reserve players there to be mentored. Also, I am very happy to see Mike Ballard there as he is the lefty in the system who might be the most likely candidate for a loogy role next year (unless Kiker emerges in ST, and he would be more than a loogy hopefully). AJ Murray didn't deserve the hype. Now that Hinckley is a FA, I think Ballard gets the call for a 40 spot over Murray.

Criollos:
Kevin Torres
Miguel Velazquez
Ruben Sierra Jr
Pudge
Michael Ballard

Leones:
Adalberto Flores



#########

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blair Redux

For those of you Mavs fans out there who believe like me that (Donnie) Jr. made a mistake in picking BoBo over DeJuan Blair (and perhaps a couple of others), here is a quote you can chew on:

Brute force: The Mavericks got an up-close look at rookie DeJuan Blair, who was drafted out of Pittsburgh with the 37th pick by the Spurs.He rejected a Nowitzki drive in the second quarter and has been a consistent contributor for the Spurs.On draft night, the Mavericks toyed with trying to find a pick early in the second round to use on Blair.
"He was a great pick," Carlisle said. "My understanding is there were rumors of physical problems that allowed him to drop. But he's a fine player [with a] physical presence, athleticism, toughness and he's played well so far. He's going to be a good player here for a long time."



""""""""""

AFL Notes

Matt Harrison last pitched on 11/02 in what appeared to be an injury-shortened outing in which he failed to finish his first inning of work.

Evan Reed has pitched in one game in the last 13 days, last pitching on 11/5 when he was lit up for 4 ER in the 9th.

Let's hope that both aren't injured.

Taylor Teagarden may end up going to the PRL to get some more at bats in December. Right now he is 0-11 in the last 3 games.



###########

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Don't talk to me about baseball, Clark..."

Here is some nice video cut by an LSB poster of the appearances by DGut and Schepp at the AFL future's game.

In that same thread, here is an excerpt from an interview that Jason Cole (Lonestardugout.com) did with Terry Clark, AAA pitching coach. All I can say is what I've been saying all along, police blotters don't lie (and say hello to your newest bullpen prospect):

Cole: How much of a focus with Gutierrez is his changeup right now, as he tries to get that third solid pitch?

Clark: I just talked to him today about making him throw his changeup more in the Fall League to obviously get him to get a feel for it. He’s had such good command on both sides of the plate, his response is, ‘Well, I don’t need it.’ And I’m like, ‘You might not need it now, but you’re going to need it later.’ That’s the big issue—making him throw his changeup at least five to six times to get him to get the feel for it.



For those who think he has what it takes to be a closer, think again. Of the 23 closers with 25 saves or more last year, not one relied on a curveball as his second pitch. I say again, not one. He will need to add a third pitch to succeed as a curveballin' closer, but then, if he was willing to work on a third pitch, we wouldn't be talling about the matter at all, would we? I should add, in passing, Tim Smith's BWC stats: 9g/8gs/29ab/.414/.471/.690/1.161.



#########

Monday, November 9, 2009

Igarashi

Ryoto Igarashi (see NBPT profile and vids) is intent on pitching in the majors next year. The 30yo reliever has a plus fastball (93-96+97) and a forkball (86-89) - see velo chart on his 8/12 appearance. He had TJ surgery in 2006 and his command will likely prevent him from closing but he appears to be a guy who has the stuff to be a set up guy to compliment CJ.

I assume that CJ will co-close again next year given FF's injury issues and the fact that he pitched in 1/3 of the team's SVOs - the CJ to starter rumors seem like so much hot air. Though I will say that it is a bit weird that Feliz has yet to pitch in winter ball but he only needs about 20-30 innings to get stretched out enough to be considered for a starting role next year. I expect that he is getting stretched out and will appear around mid-November.



#############

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Notes

The Puerto Rican League rosters apparently have not been released yet, and one team has had to withdraw due to a conflict with the city over stadium use - their players will be redistributed - but I did notice that Ruben Sierra Jr was drafted in the 4th round (Caguas) back in the prospect draft in early October. As I have written previously, expect to see Miguel Velazquez and Kevin Torres there as well, with Miguelito being the only guy likely to play. Last year he and Torres served on a reserve or taxi squad it seems and never got into any games. Sierra will probably be in that position this year.


Cuban defector (~23) 1B Jose Ruiz is generating positive buzz the last couple of months during his workouts in the DR with some projecting him as a possible outfielder (prob. LF). No word if there is any interest in him by TX but he still has to be cleared by customs, a process that will take longer in his case than for Chapman, because Chapman managed to keep his passport while defecting, whereas Ruiz did not. Cuban team officials normally confiscate them during travel abroad and defectees might have to wait up to 9 months to confirm their age/identity as a result. Chapman's clearance took only a matter of months by comparison.


For those of us who have been following TX prospects all season, it has been clear that the AFL pitch fx velo info has been pretty accurate as it corresponds to the velo range players demonstrated during the season. For any doubters, Harry Pavlidis takes a look.

BTB's Jeff Zimmerman does a really interesting analysis of the strike zone as actually called by umpires that revisions the strike zone as more of a cross-pattern, which also suggests the inside strike is called with greater frequency vs LHB compared to RHB (though pitching inside seems to be your best bet for a strike in general) while the corners are not called much at all for either.


If you search hard enough, you can watch more live games streamed online coming out of the Dominican and Venezuelan leagues than you can AFL games though the quality can be a bit halting...

Update: the DR Toros are reporting that they met with TX officials last Wednesday and were told that they hope that Salty will be healthy enough to report to their team in December.




###########

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scheppers

From Jason Grey:

...

"In his first AFL outing, he hit 99 mph three times pitching in short stints, and sat at 94-96 mph with easy velocity and good boring action, holding those readings from the stretch as well. He rocks back and forth a bit before delivering the ball from the windup, which is a little unusual, but there are no red flags in his delivery.

Scheppers' low-80s curveball has great rotation and two-plane break; the depth is just filthy. He's in the AFL not only to get some experience but also to work on his changeup, which is below average right now. But it's getting better as there is some decent sink to it when he throws it right. He has also shown the ability to keep the ball down in the zone and the potential to command his fastball, as he's been getting lefties out by jamming them on the inner half, spotting his heater well on the glove side."

...



#############

DePaula

According to one Domincan-based source, Rafael DePaula threw for Preller, Service and Anderson at the TX academy today. No further word on Arguelles.

Misc:
Badler, ProjectProspect, and Sickels are or will be in AZ thru the end of next week. I am hoping to do a story on Moreland before Grey does but mine will focus on the utter lack of analysis of Moe's hitting mechanics (if I have time).



##############

Grant on King Preller (@BA)

"There will be directors of pro, international and amateur scouting, but all will report to Preller.Former Baseball America staffer Josh Boyd will handle the pro scouts and Mike Daly will move from assistant director of international operations to direct the international efforts. The biggest change comes on the amateur side, where national crosschecker Kip Fagg moves into the scouting director's position, though it's likely that Preller will have the ultimate authority in that area. Scouting director Ron Hopkins will become a special assistant to the GM after running drafts that produced current Rangers Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and Julio Borbon.

"These moves are designed to strengthen and further integrate our scouting departments across the board," Daniels said. "It is consistent with our goal to be the top scouting and player development organization in the game as well as our belief to promote from within when appropriate."

The moves also should further strengthen the voice of senior director of baseball operations Don Welke. Welke and Preller have a close working relationship and spent time together in the Dodgers organization. Welke's voice also grows because the Rangers fired special assistant to the GM Jay Robertson, whose voice often carried the most weight for Daniels' first couple of seasons on the job, and senior adviser Mel Didier, who has spent more than 50 years in pro baseball. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the moves is that the Rangers shuffled bodies around in an organization that seemed to have scouting and player development working well together. BA ranked the organization No. 1 in minor league talent prior to the 2009 season. "



#########

Monday, November 2, 2009

Random Rangers Dump

Notes and Quotes

Bill Mitchell has a piece up on Scheppers and Crow and this note on who Teagarden is replacing on the Rafters squad( by my count TX now has a 9 person 7-man squad):

Other players leaving the league due to injury include Scott Sizemore (Tigers), David Lough (Royals), Austin Romine (Yankees) and Lucas Duda (Mets). Sizemore has a broken left ankle. Big league catcher Taylor Teagarden (Rangers) will replace Romine on the Surprise roster. Lough was replaced by outfielder Jarrod Dyson (Royals).

Nothing too interesting really except a demonstration that that the nature of Schepper's injury still remains a most elusive quarry to sports writers - in this case, "wear and tear", in others, "torn labrum" - while not diminishing their propensity to make truth claims about it, and from these, negative assessments of Schepper's future ("that shoulder could implode at any moment"). I wish they would simply grow some cajones and ask the kid straight up, or just shut up. That's what journalists do, interview the people they write about, right? Callis was even there watching Scheppers pitch but I guess he was too busy with, you know, pointing the radar gun and stuff...

Connor Glassey has piece up about the World Wood Bat Championship games. I thought that Mateo was going to be on one of those teams but I haven't heard any notes or quotes to that effect. Mateo was at the Bo Jackson skills thingy though:

Mateo, a free agent, hit an absolute laser that bounced off the Cardinals’ offices beyond the right-field wall that was rumored to have hit Jeff Luhnow’s window. The Cardinals signed Mateo for $3.1 million over the summer, then voided the contract, citing his eyesight. Mateo later blasted one that landed on the roof of the building.


UPDATE:

Badler Tweets
Dominican LHP Edgar Ferreira, still unsigned, also listed on the WWB rosters
10:34 AM Oct 23rd from web
Wagner Mateo in Jupiter for the World Wood Bat Championship. Came in this morning to pinch-hit, laid down a sac bunt
10:32 AM Oct 23rd from web


#############


Jayce Tingler Stateside 2010? Found a nice late July article on DSL coach Jayce Tingler. The interview suggests that Tingler will be stateside come 2010. During his time in the DSL he sees his wife once every 5 weeks!

Also came across a late February article on the Dominican Academy system with a quote from Tingler and Guillermo Pimentel.


..and also this slide show of photos Evan Grant took of the DSL academy in the spring of 2008!

Here's an interesting article on the Cuban National team in the WBC from March, with a few references to this year's crop of defectors.


Here is a cool blog series from Jesse Sanchez on his trip to the DR, Xmas 2006.


###########

Grey on Law on the AFL:


"Keith also had an interesting thing to say in his Thursday chat when asked about the AFL: "AFL performance is not meaningful."

You know what? He's absolutely right.

Even a great statistical performance like Grant Desme's power production the first two weeks of the AFL isn't as significant as some would make it out to be, especially given the context of the league, which is a stronger hitting environment than ever in the early going (and that's saying something).

However, while the statistical performances are not meaningful, the AFL itself is very meaningful (if it weren't, we wouldn't have this blog), because it's about the hands-on scouting and not the stats.

What's more important than Desme going yard 10 times already is how he looks at the plate, how he is going about getting those homers, and what kind of pitching is he doing it against. What pitches is he hitting bombs on? How does he look when he sees a good breaking ball? Based on what we are seeing in his swing and approach at the plate, how do we think it will play against advanced levels of pitching? For the record, all of Desme's homers have been of the "no-doubt" variety and not what we call the "AFL homer" which is the wind-blown, ball-carries-well-in-the-Arizona-heat type. However, even that news is not necessarily meaningful.

This is where the underlying scouting of a player comes into play. We cannot be results-oriented when it comes to the Arizona Fall League. It's about the tools and the raw abilities where the value lies."


#################


ESPN Rumor Mill

"ESPN MLB Insider Keith Law has informed us that sources have told him the Aroldis Chapman camp has officially begun receiving offers. The dicey thing here is sifting through what teams are merely interested, and what teams are willing to pony up the kind of cash -- likely in the neighborhood of $60 million -- that will get Chapman into camp.

A tentative list has the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Mariners, Braves, Angels, White Sox, Orioles, Rangers, Dodgers and possibly the Cubs with interest. Of course, again, all the reporters we've asked said "interest" is such a loose term here. The Spokane Indians, ostensibly, have interest, but cash is king here.

The bigger question then is whether Chapman will start in the majors. We asked Law, who says he thinks Chapman will be on a Major League roster, but workload issues will be an early key. The Joba Rules have nothing on The Chapman Rules."


(UPDATE: Atlanta is in on Chapman as is Florida, a new suitor, and Seattle while the Cubs and Toronto are apparently out. Not much buzz about interest from los Rangers.)




AZL FAll League

AFL 11/2
Harrison 92-94+95 (once), slurve, change
may have been taken out due to injury/precaution
Scheppers 95-98, 2 curveballs, 2 changeups
DGut 91-93+95 (once), curveballs, one 87mph pitch


Scheppers in AFL




###########