Tuesday, August 31, 2010

AFL Roster Set

Per TRS:

Pitcher Eric Hurley, who has been out all season with a broken wrist, is listed among the Rangers' players who are on the Arizona Fall League roster. Hurley, selected by the Rangers in the first round of the 2004 Draft, had three operations this year to repair a broken wrist but the club is hopeful he can make up for lost time in the AFL. He is on the roster of the Surprise Rafters along with pitchers Danny Gutierrez, Tim Murphy and Adalberto Flores, catcher Jose Felix, infielder Davis Stonebrunner and outfielders Engel Beltre and Joey Butler.


Pleasant surprise to see Hurley here, especially given that there will be pitch f/x info posted for many games, including the one's at the Surprise complex.

The club's continued fascination with Davis Stonebrunner is a complete and utter mystery. He was 25.3yo to begin the season and now has an amazing 230games played at the HighA level. Invite not merited.

Adalberto Flores has long been a favorite of mine with intriguing size and youth on his side. He still might have some upside as he missed some due to TJ surgery before signing with TX. Last year he sat 91 and has a wipeout slider/slurve when he is on. In the few appearances that I have caught this year on the radio he seems to be pretty similar with maybe a touch more velo. At his best he is a low 90's guy, 90-93. However, his problem post-TJ has been his inconsistency. So, he could push through and become a breakout guy if he sees a velo spike and betters his command.

D-Gut is a waste of space and I'd rather see a legit starter who is also a good character guy get his spot. D-Gut is a setup guy at best. I'd rather see the HighA spot go to Vinny DiFazio even if it bumped Jose Felix off the squad. Felix can play winter ball if he gets bumped.

Tim Murphy has morphed his mechanics and regained his college velo according to Jason Cole but his intrigue is limited to his moderate ceiling - middle reliever.

I like Joey Butler and I think TX does too, as I've said before. If he can improve his contact rate and plate discipline/pitch recognition, still hit for a little power, and play average D at 3 OF positions then he could see the bigs at some point as a 5th OF type on a club that keeps 5OF, NL or AL. He could be the next Lawson or Osuna or Gentry - the guy who breaks out at 24-25 and becomes a legit utility prospect but probably not much more than that. For the most part, these guys are back of the roster types that are nice to root for.

Jason Cole has convinced me to like Jose Felix. Jason argues that Felix's catchability is more advanced than that of Pina's at the time each advanced to AA. Though Pina was much more raw as a catcher upon his promotion to AA than people were aware of (confusing catchability with controlling the running game), this is still very encouraging. If true, that makes Felix a legit prospect as a backup catcher. One thing I do not expect to continue for him is his crazy CS rate which is counter to his career trend (and way higher than his 09 #s). He has AA arm strength but it is not good enough to sustain that kind of CS rate. I assume that the great improvement in accuracy this year was the result of a lot of work/improvement upon his throwing mechanics and pop times over the off-season after an unimpressive 2009.

Engel Beltre? I'm still not a believer that he is anything more than a 5th OF type in the NL. He's not going to hit for power now that the team has revised his mechanics and his approach. The fact that the team has changed his mechanics and his approach, turning him into more of a slap hitter with the emphasize of making contact and getting on base rather than hitting for power, is not something that has been commented on by many. So he is not going to hit for much power or project to be a RF as some had speculated early in his career. He's not going to hit for average. He's not going to walk. He's not going to hit RHP effectively enough to get significant playing time. So yeah, 5th OF in the NL. As usual, I'm happy to be wrong.


UPDATES A/O 9/6:
Tim Murphy to DL with elbow trouble (per Cole)
DGut promoted to AA


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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Injury Updates

Texas
Dustin Nippert, Nelson Cruz, Christian Guzman, Scott Feldman, and Ian Kinsler should all have finished their rehab stints and returned to the club by the end of the first week of September.
Mark Lowe: Lowe has been throwing for the last month or so I believe and he speculated that he might be able pitch for TX in the last half of September after many thought he would be lost for the year (back surgery, herniated disc). I thought that the acquisition of Lowe, though injured, was a sage move by Daniels given that Frank Francisco will likely sign a multi-year deal to close for another club next year. It also gives the club a little flexibility as the hard-throwing setup reliever might allow TX to continue developing Scheppers as a starter from the fall league to mid-season 2011.
Frank Franciso will have an MRI today on a rather odd injury that he has struggled with for about 3 weeks, somewhere between his lat, tricep, and underarm

AAA
Cody Eppley to the DL 8/23.
Chad Tracy: A day after I wrote that his Oblique injury might keep him out all year, he mad a rehab appearance in AZ on 8/15. He must have reinjured himself as he has not appeared in a game since then, so, yeah, Chad Tracy likely out for the year. What a big blow for him as he was an intriguing RH platoon bat with plus power who might have been called up for short stints as TX was loooking for just that kind of profile in a bench player. He's helpless against LHP however so his future is either as a bench bat if he can make enough contact vs RHP or a 4A player.
Endy Chavez out for the year per TRS after a setback to his knee (microfracture) after an 8-game return from the DL. The delicate nature of this type of surgery is why I wasn't keen on TX offering Marlyn Byrd a multi-year deal to keep him in TX. But he is 2 years post-surgery and doing fine while Chavez might not make it back. If he does it wouldn't surprise me if he returned to TX on a MiL deal in the off-season.
Craig Gentry speculated (8/14, broken wrist) that he could be ready for game action mid to end September.

AA
Eric Hurley has had at least 2 hand surgeries to repair a broken wrist and then to repair the repair and is out for the year. Hurley will have missed two full seasons going into 2011.

HighA
Carlos Pimentel to the DL 8/26.
Wilmer Font has been on the DL since 7/6 and Jason Cole mentions that he is likely done for the year. No word on the severity of the elbow injury but this is probably the most worrisome of the injuries suffered by TX MiL this year.


LowA
Jason Cole reports that oft-injured pitcher Kevin Castner (TJ post-draft) has suffered a big setback: he fractured his elbow (8/20ish)!

Short Season
Ramon Mendez to the DL 8/20 (minor rt forearm injury per Cole). So he has gone from Hickory to Spokane to AZ in his short time with TX.
Zach Osborne came off the DL at the end of the week to pitch 1 inning after missing the last ~7weeks recovering from surgery after getting nailed in the face by a batted ball. If I remember correctly, he had to have some plates inserted into his cheek to repair the fractures.


Rookie
Denny Peralta and Aaron Thompson were placed on the DL 8/4ish.



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Friday, August 27, 2010

Velazquez

Miguel Velazquez was placed on the "reserve" list for Bak on 8/25. Given his prior character issues, this has to give one pause. However, it could be a bit of pre-playoff roster chicanery or he might even have a minor injury.

UPDATE: MiggyV officially placed on the suspended list per BA. Not good news.

Last year I wouldn't consider putting MiggyV in my top 30 even after his nice comeback year until after he had ZERO personal problems 12 months out, which included an off-season in PR. Well he managed to do this, at least, he didnt' have any problems during that time which were publicized. So he seemed like a safe bet to have pushed past those issues. However, what remains clear is that low-character prospects will always carry that burden of being, well, low-character guys, with the trajectory of their progress always be weighed down by that baggage. So MiggyV blew his second and third chances and as a result I don't really consider him a legit prospect anymore. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he did not return for 2011, instead becoming a professional player in PR for 3 months a year. He will certainly be on a roster there this Fall, if some team wants him at all.


Texas seems to have more in-house suspensions this year than in any other year that I can recall, all for unspecified reasons to date: Justin Jamison (yr), Kyle Ocampo (~5 weeks), Tony Doyle (~5 weeks) and now MiggyV (am i missing any?). Christian Santana was suspended by MLB for PEDs (50 games or through end of April next year).



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Monday, August 23, 2010

Short Season Short Stops

There seems to be some surprise at how well SS Luis Sardinas is hitting in his debut season. After all, Jurickson Profar was supposed to be the guy that has a present hit tool right?

Well if you didn't trust the j2 reports on Sardinas suggesting he could hit, then there is a wealth of evidence attesting to that fact from the spring training reports of both Jason Cole and Jason Parks. Both Jason's liked Sardinas just fine from the RH side in ST; it was his present strength that was thought to be an issue (so not hitting per say, but present gap power). This is also consistent with the j2 scouting reports (nice RH swing with gap power potential). Profar was said to be best from the LH side (in Parksies' ST reports) with his weak-side swing more advanced than Sardinas' but lacking the same kind of solid contact ability that he (Profar) has from his left side (at present).

The splits for both aren't that straight forward at this point, which could mainly be a SSS issue or maybe Sardinas is mainly batting from the RH side (due to his shortened season?) while Profar is a bit more inconsistent from the LH side than anticipated, while still hitting for nice gap power and making better contact from the RH (with much less power). However you parse it, both guys are doing very well. As both Parks and Cole noted in ST, and further supported by their present stats, what is impressive about each is their patience and sound approach at the plate. While Profar struggled with strikeouts his first 2-3 weeks, he quickly made the adjustment to the more experienced pitching at that level and his walk rate has been very nice the remainder of the season even as he has had problems making consistent contact vs RHP. Sardinas has had a balanced walk/so ratio from the beginning over his 82AB, improving week to week, particularly in August.

I wonder if we might see Sardinas in Hickory along side Profar at some point next season (if not from the beginning?) which would be very cool. I will be interested to see if the club chooses to keep Sardinas in short season again or not. The purported advantage might be that he can work on his weak-side hitting and get stronger. Given the fact that there are a # of young diminutive MIF in the system who were not kept from a Hickory promotion due to their size (Leury Garcia, Edwin Garcia to name two smallish teens) I'm not sure I buy the necessity of the "let him gain some muscle mass" argument governing his promotion schedule (and he can work on SH at any level). If he makes enough progress from instructs through ST of next year, then I say put him in Hickory; if he's ready, he's ready. Both kids can split time between SS, 2b and 3b.

Jason Cole is going down to AZ this week so I'm interested to see what he has to say about Sardinas' development from instructs through ST and the end of the season. As an aside, both Profar and Sardinas have effectively missed one month of their season with Profar missing all of spring training with a shoulder issue (playing in 0 intrasquad games) and Sardinas missing one month of the season after getting hit on the wrist (while missing no intrasquad games). In the end, I think both would be doing even better (Profar with consistency, Sardinas with more gap power) if they hadn't each missed extensive time to begin the season due to injuries. Considering how well they are both doing, that is saying a lot.



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Monday, August 16, 2010

News and Notes

TEXAS
Boggs recalled though Cruz reports that his hammy has improved this morning (MRI on Monday). Boggs has been hot the last three weeks with an OPS of about .950. Harden to the DL with shoulder tendinitis retroactive to 8/8 (eligible 8/23). Pedro Strop was recalled on Saturday when Christian Guzman was placed on the DL with a strained quad. Strop has given up 0er in his last 11g: 9.1ip/6h/0er/1bb/17so/1xbh/.171baa. Arias is eligible to come off the DL today, but it isn't clear if TX wants to go that direction yet. Matt Treanor begins his rehab in OKC on Monday and will likely be ready to be activated on 8/23 unless TX decides to stick with Tea until the rosters expand.

Tuesday's starter is TBD but one would imagine that some combination of Harrison/Feldman/Ogando will cover the start. Holland does not appear to be ready as he had a pretty poor outing his last time out going only 2.1 innings on 59 pitches. Interestingly enough, if this is not a legit injury, I wonder if Harden does his rehab out of the OKC pen. He could be activated from the DL during the playoffs before a series or as an injury replacement and would only be useful in the pen. UPDATE: (TRS: Harden will be sent to Triple A Oklahoma City where he will begin pitching Tuesday on limited pitch counts.)

Nippert to AZL to continue his throwing program per TRS.


OKC REDHAWKS
Little-used bullpen stud Pedro Strop was called up from AAA but there is some speculation that he will be sent right back down again with Boggs recalled to provide OF depth while Cruz is evaluated. Strop should've been here since mid-season. I prefer that Harrison stick in OKC as rotation depth even though he might learn a thing or two about attacking hitters while in the pen. If you want a loogy for your pen now or in the playoffs, there appears to be no one better than Clay Rapada.

Tanner Scheppers pitched consecutive games out of the pen Friday/Saturday for the first time this year. He wasn't very sharp on Saturday leaving everything up in the zone and unable to get his CB over for strikes. He was a bit lucky to close the game out unscathed. Mike Kirkman has joined him in the pen pitching a shaky inning on Friday and reportedly going again on Sunday.

Craig Gentry appears to be out for the season with a broken wrist. It will be interesting to see if TX picks up a PR off the waiver wire to add to the playoff roster. Endy Chavez appears to be down for the count from his microfracture surgery while Andro notes that Willy Taveras will ink a AAA contract on Monday who was also playing in the Atlantic League. Chad Tracy seems set to miss the remainder of the season with the oblique injury he suffered in early July. BMac expects to be back in the AAA rotation in 7-10 days. Omar Beltre went 7 innings on Saturday after having skipped his last start due to shoulder soreness. I do not believe Beltre's shoulder will be able to endure a starter's regimen next year (and he will also be 29.6yo on opening day) as he has been dealing with the issue since the Fall of 2008, missing last year altogether, in addition to ST this year, coupled with a few DL stints and skipped starts this year. His shoulder is the real "ticking time bomb" on that staff.

Here are some OKC pieces by Ryan Abner of the Oklahoman:

Eppley and Rapada

Kirkman to Pen

8/14 Pregame Notes: Gentry, Tomlin, Treanor

8/13 Pregame Notes: Beltre, Tracy, BMac, Davis

RedHawks Report, 8/13

BMac on the Verge


FRISCO
Travis Chick has been traded to TX for cash and assigned to AA. One would hope that he takes Carlos Pimentel's place in the rotation and that he is sent back down to Bak; working up in the zone too much don't play in double A. Chick has been with the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic lg for much of the season after going to ST with LAA. He pitched about 60 unimpressive innings with them before being picked up by Pittsburgh on July 27, starting a AAA game on 8/1 then reassigned to their AA club before landing in the Frisco roto. Clayton Hamilton was also plucked from semi-pro ball and assigned to the club.

Engel Beltre was activated from the DL after crashing into a wall about a week ago. Renny Osuna was taken off the inactive list after a week away from the team to attend to his wife's pregnancy.


BAKERSFIELD
Danny "meat head" Gutierrez promoted from Hickory into the Bak roto. Wieland and Ross to the pen to monitor their innings. Doyle promoted into the roto making a very nice debut as they stretch him out over the last month of the season. If I had a chance to talk to AJ Preller, I would ask him why Tony Doyle, Trevor Hurley, and Chad Bell all started out in the bullpen to begin the season when all of them probably could have started out in the Bak roto to begin with. Honestly, I just don't know. I'm hoping that Hurley might be stretched out over the last month as well, even if it is only as a tandem starter pitching 3-4 innings per appearance.




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Saturday, August 14, 2010

PTBNL from Salty trade

is Michael Thomas, a very raw, small school, no-hit-tool catcher drafted in the 12th round (120K) of the 2009 draft. At 6-4 220, with some of he best raw arm strength of that draft, it looks like TX will attempt to convert him into a power reliever. His only experience pitching after high school was 3.1 innings out of the pen in 2009. This could be the kind of kid TX wanted to take a flyer on in the later rounds in 09 with the same intentions to convert him to the pen. It is also likely that some scouts preferred him as a pitcher at the time of the draft. In fact, Anaheim drafted him as a pitcher out of HS in 2006 (22nd rd) so one would assume that he had at least one secondary offering at that time. It is also possible that Boston had already started to transition him to pitching, as he was demoted to short season ball and has not appeared in a game in almost 3 weeks. Could be a kid who sits mid-90s right away and moves quickly if had enough HS innings to develop a breaking ball by the time of the 06 draft. Here is BA's 2009 draft profile:

Few position players in the 2009 draft can match Michael Thomas' raw arm strength, but the operative word in all phases of his game is "raw." Facing mediocre college competition, he threw out just four of 26 basestealers (15 percent this spring). He also needs to polish his receiving and make adjustments at the plate. Six-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he has plenty of strength and righthanded power potential, but he batted just .213 with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. His bat speed is questionable and he doesn't use his lower half well in his swing. Thomas missed two months this spring with a broken left hand. He'll need plenty of development time in pro ball, though his ceiling is intriguing.


Here is an interesting update on the signing from Evan Grant showing that they had a couple of scouts who were familiar with him in both 2006 and 2009:

Thomas' only pitching experience was a brief experiment on the mound at Southern, but Rangers scouts John Booher (who signed Thomas while with the Red Sox last year) and Randy Taylor (who scouted him in high school) both thought that his above-average throwing arm and 6-3, 215-pound body might make him a candidate for a drastic position switch."The guys who saw him thought he was an interesting guy with a plus tool and a good physical frame," GM Jon Daniels said. "We ask our guys when they are on the road to look not only for the obvious guys, but also for any creative recommendations they might have. You never know how it may turn it."
The Rangers agreed to make Thomas the Player To Be Named Later without approaching him on the idea, but when he was asked about the possibility Saturday, he readily accepted, Daniels said. Thomas will go to the club's Surprise, Az., facility and start a throwing program for the next couple of weeks and then will return for the Fall Instructional League.




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