Friday, May 28, 2010

DSL Roster Notes

The DSL roster was posted this afternoon to my surprise (but with few surprises) and there are only 7 new FA signs that we did not know about, probably receiving bonuses in the 10-25k range:

Hansler Alberto, 17.4, SS, DR
Christefer Obispo, 17.8, 1B, Curacao
Diego Cedeno, 17.9, OF, VZ
Luis Baez, 20.3, RHP, DR
Able de los Santos, RHP, 17.3, DR
Jesus Diaz, 17.4, RHP, VZ
Luis Moreno, 17.8, RHP, VZ

As usual, the Venezuelans are the ones to keep an eye on as the season progresses. It doesn't look like any of them played in the DPL. Baez is likely an org player unless he is a converted position player. Here are the kids that we already knew about:

Luis Sardinas SS (2b) (VZ 09j2, 1.5m) (SH)
J. Profar SS (2b, 3b) (CCO 09j2, 1.55m) (SH)
Jorge Alfaro C (OF) (CO 09J2 ~1.3M)
Luis Mendez (VZ 2009 j2: ~75k)
Chris Garcia (CF) (CCO 2009 j2: ~75k)
Guy Edmonds (Aus- 09J2, ~150K) C
David Perez (2009 j2: ~425k)
Victor Payano (LH) (2009 j2: ~75k)
Luis Daniel de la Torre (LH) (MX 09J2, ~75k)

Total ~ 5.23m


The roster should be viewed as incomplete for about a week after the season starts as some people have paperwork/logistical issues, might be injured, and a couple of more might be signed. There are a few people from last year who do not appear on the roster right now but who I expect will be added for those reasons:

Carlos Ramirez, RH SP (2nd yr), DR (status: reassigned to minors)
Luis Daniel de la Torre, LH SP, rookie, MX (status: unknown)
Luis Cedeno Reyes, C, (2nd yr), VZ (status: unknown)
Carlos Torres, C, (2nd yr), VZ (status: reassigned to minors)
Jose Mateo, 1b/of, 2nd yr, DR (status: active)
Anyenil Mendoza, SP, DR (status: reassigned to minors)

There are a few players who have been assigned to the DSL club for the first month to get some extra playing time and/or evaluation/instruction but who will likely be reassigned to a short season club when those seasons begin at the end of June:


Ruben Sierra, CF, PR
Andres Frias, OF, DR/US
Jose Mavare, SP, VZ
Leo Gil, LH SP, VZ
Juan Grullon, SP, VZ
Anyenil Mendoza, SP, DR


*****All in all, TX signed 16 players eligible to sign during the 2009 J2 signing period: 9 position players and 7 pitchers. Last year, TX signed more than 2x that amount of players (about 35-40 for a total estimated expenditure of about 3.1 million) but the dissolution of one of the squads made signing that many players unnecessary.


Kelvin de Leon, Ender Rosendo and Jairo Valdez have been released with the first 2 possible being involved with VISA chicanery.





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J2 Notes

Blake Bentley over at MLBTR has what might be the first top 10 list for the 2010 J2 signing period.

Based on his list, you have to be very excited about all of the position players out there - especially the 6 OF prospects - and the possibility that TX can sign 2-3 of them. I would expect TX to focus on the OF crop.

I might be posting a J2 review around the end of June. There is so much public information out there right now that I'm not sure I will have anything unique to contribute like last year other than a Ranger's-centric perspective.

TX has been tied to SS MS Peguero since last year's signing period. Peguero has been widely regarded as the top 2010 J2 shortstop since last year. All of these kids have been followed by scouts for 2-3 years now and this year's crop was also attending workout's last year right alongside the 2009 crop, so team's have had a pretty good idea about who they like for a long while.

Additionally, some of these kids may have played for the DPL and I'll try to compile rankings, reports, stories and stats over the course of June in preparation for my review.


********The DSL starts on Sunday and I will review the roster as soon as it is posted on the MiLB site or over at Jason Cole's site. In the interim you can see my projected roster in the sidebar roster worksheet. There are brief profiles on some of these kids in the profiles worksheets as well. **********



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Jorge Alfaro

I just stumbled upon an article in the Colombian "El Universal" written around the time Alfaro signed in January.

The paper interviewed the scout who signed him Hamilton Sarabia, who has been with the organization for about a year and represents a further expansion of the TX scouting presence into areas less known as baseball powerhouses but which nevertheless usually produce one elite prospect per signing period.

He went on to discuss Alfaro's strengths that have become well-known through Cole's and Park's coverage during ST while confirming that he will report straight to the AZL:

"He has a major league arm, an explosive but very consistent bat, moreover, he is disciplined and is mature beyond his young age." ("Tiene un brazo de grandes ligas, un bateo explosivo, de mucha consistencia; además es disciplinado y una madurez única a pesar de su corta edad.")

Alfaro received the highest bonus to date for a Colombian player - 1.3m - with lots of teams competing for his services. Sarabia said that Alfaro was in the DR for about 7 months prior to the signing period working out for clubs (and competed in 6 games for the DPL). Before the signing he spent about a week at the Ranger's club in San Pedro de Macoris.

Jorge's father said that his son has played on a traveling team since he was very young. In countries such as Colombia, and Panama and Nicaragua, where a youth baseball infrastructure is not present, these traveling teams/leagues are probably the main vehicle through which these kids develop and get noticed.

Sarabia went on to say that Alfaro is simply a special player and he's convinced the kid will reach the majors in 5 years.



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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Minor Moves and Notes

AAA
Doug Mathis moves into the rotation, Omar Beltre will stick in the rotation for now, while Geoff Geary will move back to the pen. The team is currently only carrying 11 position players.

Tommy Hunter got roughed up in his first 3 innings.

Petit day to day with a minor injury suffered at the tail end of Monday's game but should be back this weekend.

The pxp guy characterized one Ogando slider that caught one batter looking as "the best pitch thrown tonight, by anybody."

For those of you that thought Salty's back issue was a cover for his throwing issues when he was given a few days off some time ago, he appeared to tweak his back on a wild swing and miss in the top of the ninth. He reached back to grab at his low back after the swing, and was attemping to loosen it on the next swing. On his final swing, he missed wildly again, lost his balance, spun out of the box, and grabbed at his back again.

Also, from the little bit of game that I caught he seemed to be throwing back to the pitcher well once again after reports from last nights game claimed he made a few erratic throws. Only one ball in the 2-3 innings that I saw was a bit short but the pitcher was still able to stoop from the mound and pick it. It appears he's going to need a few more weeks getting comfortable with his new approach (higher arm angle, new close-fingered grip, ball tap timing mechanism) before any judgments can be cast.


AA
Beavan pitched his second straight 8 inning start on 93 pitches with only 2 strikeouts, at least one coming on the third out of the 7th, a SOS on an 81mph slider.

UPDATE:
Kinslerhomer notes that Josh Lueke has been promoted to Frisco (via Luekes twitter).


HighA
Font struggled terribly in his 2 innings throwing about 65 pitches: 2/4h/6er/5bb/1so/1hr.

Home and Away announcers alike continue to rave about the extremely quick actions that Tommy Mendonca has at 3b to continue a theme from last year. In tonights game, the Modesto radio guy marveled on one play that the pick, transfer and throw was so quick it seemed like one motion.

The Blaze hit an amazing 14 singles to one xbh through the 7th, 16 thru the 10th! Engel Beltre went 5-5 with a triple.


LowA
NeRa continues to tantalize and frustrate, going 7 innings for the first time this season with only 3 hits, zero walks, zero hbp, zero wp, along with 8 strikeouts. His go/ao was also more balanced during this start (6-6). The first 2 innings that I listened to his FB was dominant and his first 4 strikeouts came on the pitch. No velo info.

Tullis had a weird outing and i hope he was not injured. He came on in the 7th gave up 2 singles, a man got on via an error, then gave up another single and was removed without getting an out.

Hat tip to Shroomer for this Clawlossal heads up about this Hickory promotion, which amounts to an assault on all things gustatory and arterial:

"The Hickory Crawdads will be unveiling their Clawlossal Challenge on Saturday night!
The Clawlossal consists of a footlong hot dog with chili and cheese, pub chips, an eight ounce hamburger, a BBQ sandwich, a corn dog, five onion rings, two jalapeno poppers, and two pickle spears. The first challenger to complete the food behemoth on Saturday will receive a Clawlossal t-shirt and their photo on the Clawlossal Wall."




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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Minor Notes

Jason Cole reports that Frostad has been assigned to Frisco.

Miggie de los Santos made his full season debut tonight in Hickory. He had some command issues with the first couple of batters, unable to hit the outside corners with either his FB or CB. However he settled down and was sitting 93-94 in this outing and threw one CB at an unbelievable slow 67mph.

Matt Thompson had a stellar start but I'm still not quite a believer. The only FB velo I got was 90 in the first or second inning. I'm still not convinced that his FB will play up in the high minors (straight) or that his velo will sit at anything more than average, 88-92. But I'm am much more enthusiastic about his performance this year and he seems to be pitching much better. In addition, reports have his changeup as a much improved offering which is very encouraging for a young pitcher. I'm going to stick to my guns on him and say his ceiling is as a #4 but it would not surprise me if he developed into a mid-rotation prospect down the line and I would be happy to be wrong on him. Jason Parks and Jason Cole have always liked him, even when he didn't have a changeup at all, so there are lots of folks in the know who disagree with my take. I would still like to see how his FB plays up in HighA before jumping (late) on the Thompson train.

There have been a couple of reports on Cody Eppley's first 2 appearances in AA that point to a big velo spike for the kid, going from 85-88 to 88-92. What is amazing about that is that the kid is a sidearmer! I'm trying to imagine Darren O'day throwing 92 and being more unhittable than he already is. Cole is going to chat Eppley up while in Frisco this week so we'll get some more info on this spike in a day or two.



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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Minor Moves and Notes from TRS

Kennil Gomez (ankle) and Fabio Castillo (rib) to the DL for Bak with Andrew Laughter joining the staff from extended (rehabbing).

The injury to Gomez might explain Font's promotion. His #s suggest that he hasn't quite earned it yet this year: h/9 up, bb/9 down, so/9 even. However he has yet to pitch more than 5 innings to start the year and is only averaging a little more than 4.1 innings per start!

Interesting comment by Scioscia on Salty:
"He has a terrific arm, I think when he throws to second base, he's accurate," Scioscia said. "So, when he throws to the pitcher, we've learned through some guys who have had it, it's obviously a feel and release-point issue where he doesn't feel comfortable throwing short distances. I wouldn't say it's very common, but it does happen to some players."

And this comment by Torii Hunter on Andrus' stellar 8th inning play:
"That's the best play that's been made on me. Ever," Hunter said. "That guy can really play. He was in left field and made a heck of a throw. That was a sweet play the more I think about it."




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Monday, May 17, 2010

Kirkman

Kirkman followed up his last 7 walk outing with a 5 walk outing today. The central problem is that Kirkman is having trouble locating his fastball. He was unable to locate his FB to the outside corner to RHHs and it appeared that the ump was not giving him any borderline calls due to his inconsistency. In addition he was also missing high, and those got pounded for doubles (3 of 5 hits). The one thing that puzzled me for the whole game was that Salty set up outside a majority of time with RHH up even though Kirkman simply couldn't hit that spot. Salty's fault? Not sure. But the failure to get Kirkman to attack hitters inside more clearly added to his problems as hitters simply would not swing at anything outside as the game progressed. As a result, he ran up his pitch count, failed to throw enough first pitch strikes, had a lot of full counts, and walked a number of guys on 3-2 fastballs off the outside corner.

Having said that, Kirkman kept his velo at 92-93 through the fifth inning with both his FB and Slider swing and miss offerings when they were on (4 SOS). I would resist the urge to call up Kirkman as a reliever this year, allow him to work on his FB command and changeup all year, and let him compete for a rotation spot next year. For a lefty, he has 2 above average offerings right now that flash plus, can hold his velo deep into the game, and if he can get his command in order should do fine with a fringe-average to average changeup.

I should also note that Salty had _ZERO_ problems throwing back to the pitcher today, which is interesting given the dour report that came from the OKC beat writer a couple of days ago.



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Minor Moves and Notes

AAA
Wes Bankston to AA.
Clay Rapada to the DL.
Ryan Garko to the Reserve list.
Omar Beltre activated from DL, to start (probably no more than 3 innings) in DH today. Given the presence of a # of high ceiling late inning bullpen arms in OKC however, Beltre could be stretched out from this point on and perhaps paired with Scheppers as they do the same with him. It was the teams original intention to stretch Beltre out as a starter during ST and plug him into the high minors in that capacity before he was sidelined for much of the spring with injury. Given his injury history the last 1.5 years though, this might be a little risky - he hasn't pitched many innings during that period due to chronic shoulder issues and possibly also an elbow issue, which is his most recent problem. It would seem the safer route would be to keep him in the pen.

Zach Phillips seems to be sitting at about 90 in his bullpen role. He sat 87-89 as a starter. I remain skeptical about just how good of a middle relief prospect he is. He (like Schlact) has had to repeat each level, accumulating an astounding # of A-ball starts before his promotion to AA. Typically this is not a good sign though admittedly, he has finally been moved into a new bullpen role. His FB command has been inconsistent over the course of his career (though not this year in AA) so AAA will be a good test for him especially after his poor spring training in which he struggled against JIC players.


Frisco
Ryan Tatusko (per his tweet, and now the game notes) has apparently replaced Kiker in the rotation. Kiker has simply had an abhorrent season. For those who believe that it has emerged deus ex machina, you are wrong; last year's performance foreshadowed his continued regression. Check out my entry on the kid from last August. Compare that to Mike Hindman's claim at that time that Kiker was a top 5 prospect and had finally put it all together as a pitcher. Kiker's ceiling is as a middle reliever and this had become all the more clear early last year.

Expect both Roark and Tatusko to eventually give way to DGut and Eric Hurley when they are activated in about 3 weeks though they could both start out in the low minors and work their way up depending on their state of readiness after the suspension and rehab respectively.

Trip Summers noted over at LSB that Eppley touched 89 regularly in his AA debut. He normally sits 85-87 as a sidearmer.

UPDATE: Kiker to the DL with elbow soreness per Cole.


Bakersfield
Frisco has a roster spot open and Bak has one too many pitchers. Look for Corey Young to get the promotion unless there is a DL move coming. Not sure if Font will start off in the bullpen as none of the regular starters really merit a promotion. Gomez could be demoted to the pen given his failure to find any sort of consistency since the second half of last year.


Hickory
Miggie de los Santos to Hickory.
Wilmer Font to Bakersfield.

Look for one of Tullis, Doyle or Hurley to move into the rotation. Miggie is strictly a bullpen arm at this point though they might stick him in the roto as a tandem starter to get him some innings. Given the # of legit mid-roto prospects on the staff, it isn't clear how long a leash the org will continue to give Neil Ramirez, who might be moved to the bullpen in the coming weeks. Erlin will continue to have his innings limited to 3-4 per game but might be allowed to go 5-6 the last 3-4 weeks of the season depending on how many innings he will have accumulated. They will probably keep him at about 65-75ip.

UPDATE: So much for that speculation: Erlin to the rotation (from pxp guy via shroomer at lsb). Look for his innings to be limited as noted. He will likely tandem start with one of the 3 advanced pitchers mentioned above to get one of them more innings.



Dominican Summer League
Starts May 30th.

According to Jason Cole, the team has eliminated one of the 2 teams so expect as many as 30 guys to get cut. Given that these guys only profiled as DSL org guys who had zero chance to make it to the states, it is a bit of a surprise that they had 2 teams at all. I've updated my projected DSL roster to posit the position players and starting pitchers with the relief corp likely to be cobbled together from 2009 j2 signs and holdovers. Cole says the roster will likely not be finalized until the day the season opens. Last year TX signed more than 35 players to populate both rosters. With only one team now, I would expect that figure to be cut in half.

Jason Cole will be interviewing the DSL coach in the coming days and I will make a note of anything of interest.

UPDATE: Jason Cole just posted this funny note about J2 sign Victor Payano (who the coach said is not injured despite the fact that he failed Boston's physical and lost out on 900k, signing with tX for 75k): They call him "strike 1, strike 2, strike 3".




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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Minor Notes

AAA
Boggs has a 1.5ops over his last 10 games while David Murphy has batted .150 over his last 10. I'm just sayin'....

TX plans to stretch out Scheppers in OKC so that he can moved into the rotation should they decide to go that route. A couple of interesting notes from Daniels via TRS:

"He wasn't getting challenged at Frisco," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We want to force him to pitch more and get the ball down." The Rangers also want to build up Scheppers' innings at Oklahoma City. The plan is for him to pitch two innings a couple of times a week, three innings a couple of times a week and then four innings. That would put him in a position to move to the rotation at some point. "That's basically the thinking, building him up to starting," Daniels said. "That's what we're working for, but we reserve the right to adjust based on what's going on and our need up here."

He had this to say about Salty's throwing issues:

"Coming back from injury, he's throwing from a lower arm slot and he's doing some drills to get back on top of the ball."

He also noted that TX has no plans to call Holland up to the bullpen, rather,they intend to keep him as a starter until he is needed in that capacity for the big club.



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Minor Moves

Frisco
Warner Madrigal assigned to Frisco to begin his rehab assignment. I think he is eligible to come off the DL arounnd 6/4. Madrigal is apparently on the Thomas Diamond DL diet, now being listed at a whopping 265 (at 6.1)! I would expect Madrigal to be traded when he comes off the DL rather than be kept on the 40.

Frisco currently has 2 roster spots open. They may be holding one position spot open for Green with Jenkins likely moving back up to AAA. The other spot on the pitching staff may being held open for Jones or Laughter.

Bakersfield
Jason Cole reports that Jose Felix has been activated with Jose Lima returned to extended. Chris Gradoville remains on the roster likely holding Erik Morrison's spot once he comes off the DL.


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Monday, May 3, 2010

Minor Notes

Endy Chavez and Toby Hall could be ready to be assigned to AAA/AA in the next 7-10 days.
Michael Schlact might be ready for AA in Mid-May for a bullpen role.
Eric Hurley, Daniel Gutierrez, and Warner Madrigal will all be eligible to be assigned to a club during the first week of June.
Look for Ed Koncel (and perhaps Bonadonna) to be replaced on the Hickory roster by someone from extended before the end of May: Clark Murphy, Eddie Martinez, Ogata, Travis Adair, Daniel Lima, Taylor Vail.
I expect Tommy Hunter to pair up with Elizardo Ramirez for his first few starts until he gets stretched out.
Andrew Laughter and Beau Jones still MIA with injuries.

UPDATE:
Cole reports that Laughter and Jones are pitching in extended and appear on the verge of being assigned to a full-season squad.




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