Traded Chris Ray and PTBNL for Benji Molina and Cash. Not sure I get this trade as Molina is having a shitty year. I will say this though. People have rightly pointed out Ray's lucky #s this year but he has regained his pre-surgery velo in the last month and his slider has looked much improved his last couple of outings. His problem this year, in my opinion, has been that he had absolutely lost the feel for his slider and was basically a 1 pitch dude. It wouldn't surprise me if he had a decent second half.
Omar Beltre made his debut last night for TX. I was extremely impressed by the kid's ability to cut/run, sink, and elevate his fastball, sitting 92-94 and touching 95. The kinds of movement at his command almost made it seem like he was working with a 4s, a sinker, and a cutter in addition to his splitter. Really interesting kid. I had seen him pitch with OKC on the MiLB feed but the angle of view on the regional broadcast showed his pitch movement much more effectively. I was a little surprised even though I had already seen him. When I saw him he was really effectively working his FB down in the zone and his slider was on.
I will say he has to throw more strikes and command his slider more effectively but I'm stoked to see him make another start. The only drawback for the kid, as I pointed out yesterday, is that he is not sufficiently stretched out to go six innings, and there is an injury risk if you try to push him too hard - he's had shoulder and elbow problems since the fall of 2008 and only pitched about 20 innings in all of 2009!
There has been some speculation (by Cole I think), that his arm might be lessed stressed by starting than relieving - he has been bounced between the pen, the roto, and the DL a few times this season, only moving back into the OKC roto the last 5 games or so. If so, his utility might be limited to the big club, being forced to return to the OKC roto when Harden and or Holland return. However, if he can handle bullpen duties for the rest of the year, I would be very excited to see him carry out that role. I think he could be beastly!
Thinking about August through the post-season, I can't imagine a better bullpen in baseball by adding Beltre, Strop and Scheppers to the great group we already have: Feliz, FranFran, Oliver, Ogando, Oday couple with whichever of the four "H"s doesnt return to the roto (Harden, Holland, Hunter, Harrison). Those are some seriously exciting arms.
Jason Cole is reporting that Engel Beltre has been promoted to AA. I'm on record as saying this kid is nothing more than a 4_5 OF for an NL team at best. I'm going to say that he gets abused by AA pitching for the rest of the year and his .400 bip bubble finally bursts. If I'm wrong I will loudly proclaim it so from the highest mountain top!
In case I failed to mention it, Kiker has been moved to the bullpen upon his return.
There are some reports that Velazquez has been promoted to Bak. He has been slumping recently and his OPS has declined from his April #s in both May and June. He might start off a little slowly there as a result. His M.O. is to whiff a lot his first 7-10 games and then his walk/so ratio should improve dramatically. He seems to be good at making the necessary adjustments at each level.
Jake "the Brigand" Brigham made his bullpen debut last night. I'm gong to speculate that this is not a permanent move, rather, he will be tasked with figured out the mechanical issues that make his command of 2 potentially plus pitches (FB/CB) so erratic. If it was on his changeup that was an issue, he would be allowed to work on that in Bak, however, the issues are much more fundamental. If he can figure it out he should be back up to Bak as a starter before season's end. If not, he could return as a bullpen arm.
Carlos Melo pitched a no-hitter over 5 innings. I think people overreacted to his tough spring. Spring Training is Spring Training, and nothing more. Whether you've had a great ST or a piss poor ST, ST performance (and this goes doubly so for minor leaguers) is no measure or projection on a player's future performance. To wit, Melo has had excellent fastball command during his first two seasons, first in the DSL, then the AZL last year - ck out his #s after his first couple of games and you'll see that his command was above average and his #s on his age 18 season were similar to those that Escobar and Alvarez put up. Kid has a high ceiling.
Another factor for Melo getting off to a slow start this spring is that I seem to remember some personal issues forcing him to miss Instructs and the early part of spring training, only showing up to extended spring training in AZ. I could be wrong on all or part of this as that is what i recall but can't document right now. Missing all of that time in an off-season routine will have an effect. Just ask Kasey Kiker why he sucked so bad in 2008?