Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Minor Notes

Guys who could be activated in the next week or so:
Richard Bleier (AA), Inj
Omar Quintanilla (AAA), PEDs
Renny Osuna, (AA), Inj
Shane Zegarac (AA), Inj
ODLS (A+), inj (?)


Guys in extended whose status remains uncertain:
Clark Murphy (A)
Mitch Hilligoss (AA)
A. Selen (A)
Brett Nicholas (A)
Guillermo Pimentel (A)
Luis Sardinas (Spokane)

Pitchers in extended who could be activated at any time, if they are healthy:
Hickory: Zeke Rijo, Nick McBride, Juan Grullon, Brett Weibley, Jose Mavare, Jose Monegro, Ben Rowen, Ben Henry, Tony Haase
Hickory or HighA: Jimmey Reyes, Frankie Mendoza

Extended dudes seemingly destined for Short Season ball:
Tony Haase, Mike Thomas, Matt West, LDLS, Salvador Sanchez

Guys about whom I care not, currently inactive: Tim Stanford (no ceiling), Geuris Grullon (no pitchability), Miguel Velazquez (thug)

~ETA for DL guys to be activated:
Feldman, eligible 5/22, likely 6/1
Hunter, eligible now, ~ETA 5/18
Tobin, eligible 6/19, TBD
Hurley, eligible 6/19, likely 6/19
Feliz, eligible 5/6, TBD
Hambone, eligible 6/12, likely 6/12
Omar Beltre, eligible 5/22, TBD
Scheppers, out 2-3 weeks, ~ETA 5/10
Darren O'Day, 2-4 months
Font, eligible now, ~ETA Aug-Nov: Likely pitches in minors, instructs, AFL, and/or winter ball at some point this year



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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Webb's shoulder

Oh, and just to clarify any confusion that might exist about Webb's first appearance in game action in a Texas uniform (including his first appearance _ever_ in front of a gun): Webb "flashed" 84; He likely sat 82, and this after 2 years of rehab and arm-strengthening (his arm strength is not the issue, and hasn't been for almost a year now, despite what some writers might say). I say the chances of Webb making it to the roto this year are slim but at least it seems like he will be pitching on a full season league before the Trading Deadline so that is something, I guess...

The final blessing that we all received from his much belated "first pitch in a real game" (in extended no less) is that we can finally stop hearing all of the BS from beat writers, TX officials and coaches but particularly from Webb himself, about what a decisive turn of event (or setback) was his latest flat-ground throwing cession, each and every week. Thank the frackin' Gods.

UPDATE: WOW!!!
According to Jason Grey, who charted Webb's outing yesterday, things are even worse than they appeared at first glance. Webb actually on sat at 80 with his FB!, ranging between 78-81, "flashing" 82 and 84 once. WOW!! That is really terrible after 2 years of rehab work. And that is exactly where he sat during his simulated games and AFL work last August and September as well if not a tick slower. He was also throwing up some truly glacial secondary offerings as well, with a 71mph Change and a Curveball at 65 and 69. I don't know what to say...

the lone positive, well, I guess...although it stunk it sunk.



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BA's on the board

to make the Rangers' first pick and they go with Miami-Dade JC CF Brian Goodwin (if he projects to stay in CF).

BA's selection committee is convinced that TX will go with the most athletic position player on the board. This does indeed sound very Rangers-like, but an Org orientation that I hate. I think I'd really enjoy being a Minnesota fan - but only for draft day of course - as they draft zero-risk college guys in the top 3 rounds who have already attained a solid average major league ceiling and who will compete for a spot on the 25 out of their first spring training. Texas' gambles on high ceiling, high risk players has been a complete bust over JD's tenure. As I have written previously on this topic, I hope that Texas' strategy changes some this year on a # of fronts, with money to spend allowing TX to finally draft the BPA no matter the cost for the first time...ever. The biggest impediments against snagging a high ceiling, low risk super star, falling because of super star bonus demands can be counted on two fingers: the Nats and the BoSox's 2 picks (with the Cards, the Reds, the Blue Jays and possibly the Giants as less-likely competitors).

Anyways, I pay zero attention to college baseball in general, and only "play" draft once the BA top 200 profiles (and PG top 250) come out 2 weeks prior to the draft, so I know nothing about these kids at present. Whatever the case, here is an excerpt of their discussion of players at 33 and the 3 picks ahead of them just to contextualize who else might still be on the board depending on how things go:


33. RANGERS (Jim): Expect Texas to grab the best remaining athlete on the board at this point. Even with Fisher and Nimmo gone, that leaves Miami-Dade JC outfielder Brian Goodwin, Farragut HS (Knoxville, Tenn.) catcher/third baseman Nicky Delmonico, New Trier HS (Winnetka, Ill.) outfielder Charlie Tilson and Central Catholic HS (Modesto, Calif.) outfielder Billy Flamion. Assuming the Rangers believe he can remain in center field, their pick is Goodwin, who wouldn't have been eligible for the 2011 draft had he not transferred from North Carolina.


32. RAYS (Conor): Speaking of not ignoring the hit tool, I really like East HS (Cheyenne, Wyo.) Brandon Nimmo for Tampa Bay's second straight pick. Nimmo's high school doesn't have a team, yet he's a sure thing to be the highest-drafted player ever out of Wyoming (current record holder William Ewing was an Angels fourth-rounder in 1976). Nimmo is one of the best pure hitters in this year's high school class. He's also an above-average athlete who won a state title in the 400-meter dash this year and runs a 6.54-second 60-yard dash.

31. RAYS (John): Tampa Bay's plethora of picks is well-publicized, as is its preference for athleticism. But they're not blind to the hit tool, either, and with so many picks, they can use a portfolio approach. That's why I'm taking C.J. Cron here. He's one of the best college bats in the draft, and he'll move quickly in an organization that needs to get some big bats to the big leagues pronto.

30. TWINS (Jim): Minnesota hasn't used a first-round pick on a college position player since Travis Lee in 1996, but Utah first baseman C.J. Cron might make a lot sense. Few players in this draft make as much consistent hard contact as he can. But I'll have the Twins take John Stilson—whom they failed to sign as a 19th-rounder our of Texarkana (Texas) JC two years ago—and let them figure out if he's going to be a starter or reliever. He has better pure stuff than most of the members of their big league rotation, and he also could develop into their closer of the future.



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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leonys Martin update

As I speculated in a previous post, Martin is indeed set to get a 5yr/15.5m$ deal with a 5m$ signing bonus, and not the 15m "bonus" that TR Sullivan claimed. Jorge Ebro notes that it should be 1-2 weeks for the paper work to be finalized.

By comparison, SS Jose Iglesias received a 4yr/8.25m deal with a 3m$ bonus from Boston. SS Adeiny Hechevarria signed a 4yr/10m deal with a 4m$ bonus from Toronto. LHP SP Noel Arguelles signed a 5yr/7m deal (with 2m in incentives) and a reported 3.4m bonus with KC. SP Yunesky Maya signed a 4yr/6m deal with the Nats. Aroldis Chapman signed a 6yr/30m deal with the Reds (with 10m in bonus money for incentives and arb eligibility) with a 15m bonus paid over 11 years. Rubi Silva (21yo CF) and Yaniel Cabeza (21yo C) both signed with the Cubs in January for bonuses of 1m and 500k respectively (probably not receiving multi-year deals). D. Viciedo signed with the ChiSox in 12/08 for a 4/10m deal and a 4m bonus. Viciedo marks the beginning of the greatest influx of Cuban talent in over a decade at least. According to at least one report there are a couple of other players of note who will be cleared soon so we'll see if TX might be in on them as well.

So outside of the rarefied air of the Chapman deal, Martin will have received the best contract of any of the Cuban defectors beginning with Viciedo's 2008 deal. Now, we won't know a great deal about Martin for a few more months, but, given his superior contract, I hold out hope that people will indeed be as excited watching him play as they have been about most of the others on that list. If not, then Texas paid a whole lot of money for the next Craig Gentry...



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Friday, April 15, 2011

Leonys Martin update

TR Sullivan has a Leonys Martin update, suggesting that he has indeed signed for a 15m$ bonus, and that all of the naysayers are full of shit:

Rangers have faith in Cuban star

NEW YORK -- The Rangers have yet to announce the signing of outfielder Leonys Martin, a 23-year-old Cuban defector who has agreed to a $15 million signing bonus. That announcement will come next week.

But there is already speculation about just how good Martin is, and some reports have suggested he has "flaws in his swing," an "undisclosed leg injury" or is not an elite defender. The Rangers are not commenting on Martin yet, but club officials suggest privately that they believe Martin has the whole package, including speed, a strong arm, plus defense and the ability to drive the ball at the plate.

The price tag is staggering, but the Rangers have been aggressive with international signings and they believe Martin could be a frontline center fielder. He will work out with the Rangers on the next homestand but is expected to start his U.S. career at Double-A Frisco.




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Martin Interview

Here is an interview with Martin Perez at Rider's Insider Blog.



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Thursday, April 14, 2011

EST Roster

Cole just posted the official Extended ST roster over a LSD. No real surprises there. Looks like Santo Perez got his visa and Juan Grullon is healthy (for now). Couple of oversights: Sardinas, Reyes. There's a Paul Strong sighting. No Leo Gil. I'm thinking Gil (still) has a visa issue. No Nick Urbanus, who might not have arrived. Rodland, Puello, Jr Payano, J Rojas have likely been released. It's possible that some of the elisions are in fact do to players in injury limbo as there is no Extended DL so to speak, so they might not appear on the roster until fully healthy.



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Leonys Martin

Still more conflicting reports about Martin, tending toward the more predominant pessimism about his ceiling, this time from Buster Olney. The majority of reports seem to add up to an average ML CF across the board, which may or may not be an upgrade on Borbon given that Borbon is a plus defender in CF already. The scuttlebutt: Plus to plus-plus speed, average defense, AA arm (for a CF), even splits, slightly better than average walk to SO ratio, hit tool uncertain but ceiling seems limited to fringe average for CF (contact hitter, small ball guy, good bunter, gap power unclear). Here is Olney. Make sure to check out the moronic comment from the last "talent evaluator":

• The Rangers are reportedly close to signing outfielder Leonys Martin, a Cuban defector. I emailed some talent evaluators not affiliated with the Rangers and asked what they know of Martin. Their responses:

Talent evaluator No. 1: "I think he has a chance to be a solid player, similar to Juan Pierre, with a better arm. Does that translate to a $15 million deal? I don't know, but Texas's track record on international players over the past few years has been pretty good."

Talent evaluator No. 2: "I like Leonys Martin and he was undoubtedly one of Cuba's top young players, but, as with a lot of good Cuban players, I'm not convinced his skill set will translate into him becoming a premium Major League player.

"The best way I can describe Martin is that his reputation seems to exceed the sum of his parts. Martin has plus speed and a good arm but no other premium skills or tools, so the rumored $15M seems aggressive.

"He was about a .310 or .315 career hitter in Cuba, but that was in a pitching-poor league in which the average hitter has hit .300 in recent years, so he was only a slightly above-average hitter down there. He has a little pop but he's a slasher type who rarely puts the ball in the air, so I'd be surprised if he hits more than 8 to 12 HR in the ML. On the plus side, Martin wasn't overly susceptible to left-handed pitching and he walked slightly more than he struck out, although neither his strikeout nor walk ratios were really good or really bad.

"Martin definitely has plus speed and a good arm, but those two tools didn't translate into Martin being an elite defensive CF in Cuba. As you know, people have a tendency to believe a plus arm and plus speed equals plus defense, but Martin is nowhere near being a Michael Bourn type in CF. All in all, I can see Martin as a capable, average major league centerfielder, but probably not an elite CF. While I don't believe either Jose Iglesias or Adeiny Hechavarria will hit in the ML, both should be premium defensive SS. But in Martin's case, he grades out more average across the board (except speed), so it's harder to see star potential."

Talent evaluator No. 3: "I have never seen the player, but he sounds like he has strong running ability, fielding ability and throwing ability with good hitting ability. Limited power potential."




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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moves and Notes

* Josh Hamilton's games played, 2007-2011*: 90, 156, 89, 133, 105*
* Leonys Martin is on the verge of signing a monster deal today after passing his physical. The current scuttlebutt is that he will indeed receive a 15m bonus (or contract). I'm thinking maybe 5/15, but probably not a 15m signing bonus (I hope, maybe 7-8m...). Given that he has not played competitively for 7 months, I would think the "Martin to the Majors" talk is premature, and he could very well start in extended for a month or so to give him some time. I would imagine he would start in HighA. I'm really interesting to see what the pundits have to say about the kid after talking to their scouting sources in addition to what the TX FO will say about him. It is reasonable, if not totally exciting, to think that this kind of money means Texas thinks they have a guy at least as good as Borbon and likely better. We can hope for a true lead-off hitter in the kid who might compete for the CF job in 2012.



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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pitching Moves and Other Notes

Ranger Moves
I like these 2 forward-thinking moves. Rangers sign Manny Corpas to a minor league deal and claimed Ramon Aguero off waivers from the Pirates. Corpas was with the Rockies last year and has experience as a closer an set up man but had TJ surgery in September and likely won't pitch again until winter ball. He reportedly has an excellent sinker in the low 90's area code and a decent slider. We'll find out about his value during winter ball and ST 2012. However, his #s don't seem to indicate that he's a closer or setup type guy anymore while his velo has declined each of the last 4 years and he'll be 29 for the 2012 season. But if you can sign a 7th_8th inning type for cheap, who not only has experience but also under team control for awhile, then it could be a nice bargain.

Aguero seems to have had a bit of an injury history in full season ball. He pitched half a season in 2008 as a starter, a full season in 2009 as a reliever and about half a season in 2010 in the pen. He reportedly has plus fastball velo but inconsistent secs. His FB command will be critical for his future success given his lack of a plus secondary pitch and I'm not sure about how that grades out, but the #s suggest it is only average. He is also a former VISA fraud kid, having lied about his age and ending up being about 5 years older! So, given his very late start in baseball (early 20s!), it wouldn't surprise me at all if he fails to put it all together and ends up being an Ovispo de los Santos or Hector Nelo type guy.

Anyways, Levine had this to say about each guy:
"It's (Corpas) a big arm and a guy who has had success in a Major League bullpen and success in the back end of the bullpen," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "It's a low-risk potential way to add to our stable of arms as we look to build on a championship bullpen in 2012."

"When our scouts have seen him (Aguero), he has been 92-96 [miles per hour] with a good slider," Levine said. "He has had some health issues, and that is why he was available. But he has a good arm, and our pro scouts recommended him."

"It's a good arm (Aguero) that we've liked and our pro scouts recommended," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "We're going to take a chance on him."

Jason Parks had this to say about Aguero:

* Plus-plus FB; flashes plus slider; command issues. Late-inning reliever type with overpowering FB in bursts. Good pickup.
* Also flashes passable-to-better than passable CU both secondary offerings are hot and cold.
* Slider. It currently grades around 40/45 but could end up as a 50 pitch. It “flashes” plus at times, but the scouts I’ve spoken to don’t seem to think it’s consistent enough to hold a higher grade. CU had some 55 grades on it before the injury issues. FB with lots of 70s. Perfect low-risk arm to bring into the fold. If one of the secs takes a step forward, you could have a late-inning arm in short-order. It’s a smart move.


Webb Diary
I'm so sick of hearing about Brandon Webb's opinions about his bullpen and batting practice sessions. He sounds _exactly_ like he did last year during his rehab and throwing sessions. Please raise your hand if you were one of the fans or beat writers who thought the Webb signing was such a great move, penciled him into the rotation because he was "healthy", and touted the greatest Rangers pitching depth in 10 years. He is now throwing 4-seamers and no one has dared to put a gun on him in any of his outings this year.


Minor Notes
The minor league rotos look like this:
AAA: Kirkman, Hurley, Jackson, Tomko, Hankins
AA: Boscan, Perez, Brigham, MDLS, Pimentel
A+: Ramirez, Erlin/Kiker, Loux, Ross, Wieland
A: Mendez, Rojas, Thompson, Grimm, Melo

Express
* Bobby Jones
* Kirkman meltdown
* Game Notes: 4/7

Frisco
* RR Insider
* Xtra Bases Game Blog: 4/8
* Perez's 2-seamer
* Bianucci Interview: 4/8

Jose Julio Ruiz
Here is a profile that i dug up on him from 2009. It seems to show that despite his "raw power" he never really projected to hit a lot of HR in the bigs, 15-20 tops. He also had problems vs LHP as well. His speed was supposed to be AA allowing him to play in the OF some. However, he is now ~230 so I'm not sure he has it in him anymore to play the OF full time or steal a few bases. We'll see how he does on those fronts. We already know that he is a good contact hitter and has good patience (at least vs RHP) but his strikeout #s last year including his winter ball stint were higher than you would have expected. Anyways, here is the profile in full:


José Julio Ruiz is my third best prospect among the recent exiled Cuban players. Certainly, Leslie Anderson has been a better hitter in Cuba than José Julio, but José is younger and Anderson may be declared a free agent after the 2010 season already started.

José Julio is 25 years old. José has been listed as 6'2 and 194 pounds.

Santiago de Cuba’s José Julio Ruiz Barzán bats during the first game of the Cuban baseball finals against Pinar del Rio in Santiago de Cuba April 16, 2008 on this (Photo: Reuters).

During this last season (48), Ruíz was hitting .305/.408/.467 after 52 games. Then, he vanished from Cuba until he appeared in Miami. Cuban season consists of 90 games only. José Julio needs to improve his average against lefties which was 214 during this last season. He did very well against righties (338). He connected 48 times to LF, 47 times to CF and 83 times to RF.

In the 47 Cuban season, José Julio Ruíz finished 23rd in average with 341. He hit 21 doubles and 11 HR driving 69 runs. He also walked 44 times and struck out 49. He finished first in AB with 429, 3rd in Runs with 83, first in hits with 126, 8th in total bases with 182. Despite being a first baseman, José Julio finished first in stolen bases with 32 and second in caught stealing with 9. José Julio also finished 10th in RBI with 69.


Crawdads
* 'Dads Preview
* Mendez Debut

Pelicans
* Bullpen Preview
* Infield Preview
* Outfield Preview
* Neil Ramirez Debut
* Players like the new digs
* McGuiness and Olt
* Starting Staff





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DSL Academy

Evan Grant reports a bit of a shocker. The DSL Academy has closed. After contracting from 2 teams to one last year now it doesn't even has space even after spending a couple of million building the site that they opened in 2006. As for Levine's blurb about the possibility of moving the DSL kids to AZ as a second rookie club, well, that would come as a huge shock to those kids I would imagine, both in cultural terms and skill-level. Now while the contraction of the club increased the talent level in turn, only a few of those kids - like less than 5 - are ever ready to make their rookie debut stateside. I can't imagine that would be a good move and think it unlikely. Anyways, here is Grant's summary:

BALTIMORE - While the Rangers continue to make strides in Latin American scouting, they are currently without a home in the Dominican Republic. The team confirmed that it has ended its association with former major league reliever Solomon Torres, the owner of the property after a five-year run. Milwaukee will move into the facility near San Pedro de Macoris this summer.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine, who is traveling with the Rangers, said the club's immediate goal is to find a spot at which to house it's young Latin American talent for the Dominican Summer League, which begins in June. Levine said it is possible the Rangers could move the DSL team to Arizona this summer and field a second team in the Arizona Rookie League.

The Rangers moved into the then brand-new facility in 2006, putting a significant amount of their own money into the building and into upgrades. It was then considered a state-of-the-art complex, but has aged quickly. The team is "weighing all its options'' for a location in the Dominican, but Levine said the breakup did not blindside the club. It also won't impact the Rangers' Dominican operations, he said.

"There will be no impact at all," said Levine. "We feel like our Latin American and international scouting efforts are one of the strengths of the organization. We have every intention of keeping it as a permanent asset. We'll do everything we can to make sure we don't take a step backwards."




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Pitching Charts y Mas

A few stalwarts over at Lone Star Ball normally chart pitches for some of the minor league games so head on over to the "Minor League" thread there to follow your favorite pitching prospects throughout the season. I did this on occasion last season here at M&M (and over at LSB as well) but won't have time to do so until later in the season this year.

LoneStar Dugout's Jason Cole will also chart pitches at games he attends throughout the season at every level. His in depth daily coverage of the Texas minor league system is well worth the outlay. You can subscribe yearly (~80$) or monthly (~$8). Try it out monthly to see how you like it. Don't forget that his draft coverage is terrific, so if you only subscribe for one month, try it out in June. He not only profiles the Rangers' picks but tries to interview all of their top draft picks as well. Don't forget that you can watch every AAA game (home and away, and later archived) on MiLBTV for 30$ a year. The feeds aren't HD and the principle camera angle (or camera work) isn't always great but still...

For more minor league coverage, check out Jason Parks' Texas Farm Review (~20$/yr). He will be scripting detailed profiles for many of the top prospects in the system over the next couple of months. He was able to evaluate many of them during Spring Training over the last 2 years. His 2010 prospect profiles written for Baseball Time in Arlington are a must read and are free (see "Parksie's Top 25" in the sidebar). Keep on eye on BBTIA as well, as they often have a semi-permanent figure writing on the Texas system or occasional entries at the very least, and it is free to boot. The minor league forum over at The Newberg Report is moribund to say the least (except for the inveterate link hunter, mingjungtc), so stick to Lone Star Ball for that. However, if you like to have your minor league box scores summarized for you - I don't - definitely check out The Newberg's site for Scott Lucas' daily summaries, free as well (Cole also does this). Scott will also post a few nice articles at his web site throughout the season that are well worth the read.

Minorleaguesplits.com (RIP, but reborn, kinda) used to have an awesome daily team-specific system summary. The Rangers' website has something like that. First Inning has something. Shroomer's Rangers Farm Probables, back after last year's second-half hiatus, is probably the best resource that collects all of the minor league system links into a user-friendly format. It not only has links to the daily box scores and recaps but also lists the scheduled starters and has links to the team sites and audio feeds. Bookmark it.

So I'm pimping the sites that I like because I'm not going to have much time to cover the system until late May or June (if at all). I'll mostly just be updating the system-wide roster moves each day and posting links related to system-wide news as I find them. I have links in the sidebar to most of the affiliate sites and their local papers, so you can also check those out yourself if you like. I will still be keeping a close eye on the j2 and international FA market though, so that will not change.

If you happen to come across any other media effectively covering any of the affiliates, please leave a note in the comment section so that I can link to it in the sidebar. Si usted es un lector ubicado en América Latina, y usted sabe de cualquier otra fuente que regularmente cubren los Rangers de Texas y/o su sistema de ligas menores o se encuentra con un artículo profundo sobre el tema por favor enviar el enlace en la sección de comentarios. Además, si usted tiene alguna pregunta o comentario, mandamelo.




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Friday, April 8, 2011

Leonys Martin

Galloway has an uncharacteristically useful piece up today. In it, Daniels seems to hint that the Martin signing is a done deal and that some staff believe he could contribute this year:

Unrelated to the 6-0 homestand, but in otherwise interesting news, the Rangers will sign a 23-year-old Cuban defector, center fielder Leonys Martin. For one thing, the top Cubans who leave the island are usually high-dollar items. In this case, the estimate is the Rangers will pay in the financial vicinity of $15 million for Martin. Another thing is the Rangers have not been able to afford these kinds of players in the past. Ryan: "Our ownership group is committed. Because of them, this is the best environment for success the Rangers have ever had. As far as the player goes, I haven't seen him, but our reports are outstanding. He could be in the majors this year." Daniels: "The ownership deserves plenty of credit here. Our group made a recommendation and the owners stepped up."

Amother report said that the signing (should they win the bidding) would not be announced until next week. Correction: _Ryan_ said that Martin could see ML action this year and his public comments on players aren't entirely reliable. I hope he's right. If Martin is legit, someone you can see battling Borbon for a CF spot _and_ you can get someone to bite on Beltre and Davis at the trade deadline, that would go a long way toward preserving the depth in the system _and_ also make Borbon a key trade chip in the off-season as Texas tries to upgrade their pitching staff and/or replace CJ. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself a little. Hopefully, Davis bashes in AAA and a team bites on him (I think he's still a platoon bat and not the next Nellie) and Beltre bashes in AA and a team bites on him (I'm not a believer).



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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More Cubans please

Although the most interesting free agent crop of Cubans in the last decade came and went in the second half of 2009 and early 2010 with nary a peep from the bankrupt Rangers, it did end up snagging discarded 1b Jose Julio Ruiz in the end. 2011 marks a different time and Texas is now on the verge of signing CF Leonys Martin to a ML deal per team sources. Martin was officially granted FA status on March 18 after his defection in August 2010 (so he has been out of baseball for about 7 months). Profiles about him are not very in depth and, characteristically for international FA, are not entirely consistent, so I would wait to see what Texas (and the post-signing pundits) has to say about him (particularly what he signs for and where he will be assigned, highA like Hechaverria or AA like Iglesias and Ruiz, AAA?) if the club snags him. It isn't clear if he is a fringy overall CF like Borbon (fringy #9 hitter<.650 ops>, poor splits, impatient, plus D) or something more or less.

Anyways, if he projects to be at least like Borbon, and not more than 1-2 years away, I would guess he would get a contract in the 4yr, 6-8m range. One rumor has him getting 15m and if that is the case then that would mean that Texas believes he can be an above-average starting CF and leadoff hitter for a contender. I came across a source that said he showed plus plus speed in his tryouts (and doesn't drink or smoke to boot). Whatever the case, he will assuredly be better than Reinier Bermudez.

Don't forget, this should be the most exciting year for Texas on the international scene and this signing would be a great way to kick it off. With the new ownership, Texas should compete to sign at least one or two of the elite j2 hitters for the first time, in the 2m+ area code. Hopefully there is a power hitting RF or 3b out their that merits the outlay. If there is an elite pitcher out there, I would expect Texas to be in on him too. Don Welke said in an interview (filmed by Ted Price) at some preseason event that Texas was all in on three of the top j2 prospects this year so something will happen. Maybe we even wade into the Yu Darvish scene if he's posted in the off season, though the abuse young pitchers take over there should give one pause on the 50million+ posting fee (not including his salary of course).

The Jays' blog Yardbarker has a long article musing on the kid from their POV (h/t ming). Here is what BA's John Manuel had to say in September:

Sizing Up Cuban Defector Leonys Martin

Posted Sep. 16, 2010 10:24 am by John Manuel
Filed under: International

Leonys Martin has become the latest high-profile player from Cuba to leave his family and country behind to chase a major league career. If recent history is any guide, Martin figures to garner a seven-figure signing bonus once he establishes residency and becomes a free agent.

Martin, whose age is listed as 22, left Cuba after playing for the country's national team in Taiwan during the FISU World University Championships. He batted leadoff frequently for Cuba in that tournament, which is limited to players age 27 and under. He was on the 18U junior-national team in 2006 as well, so his age appears to be quite believable. As a 21-year-old, Martin was a reserve on the 2009 World Baseball Classic team.He's a lefthanded hitter whose best tools are his speed and defense. He's a plus runner at least, being timed in 4.1 seconds to first base from the left side in Taiwan, and showed strong small-ball skills, with the ability to drag bunt for hits and handle the bat on the hit-and-run. He also played center field and showed at least average range. Martin also hit .326 with 10 home runs in the last Serie Nacional, Cuba's top-level league, while playing for Villa Clara, and has drawn plenty of walks in Cuba, posting a .311/.492/.491 line in 2008-2009, when he drew 78 bases on balls and ranked second in the league with 17 steals (in a 90-game season).

Martin was reported to be in Mexico, trying to establish residency to become a free agent. That process can take months, but it's possible Martin could give an organization a 23-year-old speedy center fielder for the 2011 season.



Peter Bjarkman had this to say about Martin preceding the league playoffs in March 2010:

Championships are also normally won when an individual player or two rise above the field with a memorable history-making performance. My guess is that Leonys Martin and Fred Asiel Alvarez are the key performers in this biggest showdown series of the year. Martin has been as hot as ever the past several weeks and he possesses multiple ways to beat opponents—slugging with power, reaching base with impressive regularity, dangerous base-path speed, and stellar outfield defense. And Martin is also developing an uncanny knack for stroking clutch hits in crucial big-game situations—just like his earlier prototype Luis Ulacia.


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Monday, April 4, 2011

Minor Notes

Hickory Roster announced
Hickory has released its roster (h/t Cole).

Most pleasant surprises: David Herrera and T-Mart make the cut while Telis, Castillo and Deglan make up the catching trio (with Castillo being a super utility guy you would think).
Somewhat surprised: Matt Thompson repeats; Tony Doyle demoted; Johnny Gomez!
No-shows: Easy Eddie, Clark Murphy, Brett Nichols, Guillermo Pimentel, Jimmy Reyes, Nick McBride, Franky Mendoza, ODLS. Some of these are injured or rehabbing to be sure, while others are working on something, still others are waiting on something, and the rest are, well, holding their breath.

Newest Texas Trend: short, skinny people. Texas surely has a collection of the shortest and skinniest A-ball position players in the minors. Previous trends: Venezuela, Curveballs, Cutters, Short Lefties, Suspensions, Hitters-turned-pitchers, Bullpen Reaches.


Pelican Briefs

Looking Ahead to 2011
For those that are counting, that is now 2 more articles on the Pelicans before opening day than the Blaze had all last year...

PB Deux
James Smyth continues with his alliterative series the "Pelican Preview", taking a look at the rotation after opening with an interview with skipper Wood. He breaks down the rest of the team thru Friday. So, it looks like he might be the "beat writer" for the team in the same way that Bob Hersom was for OKC. Seems pretty rare, a beat writer for a HighA team, but then we deserved it -right? - after the years-long multi-media black hole that was the Blaze. Anyways, he appears to be culling stuff from BA and draft profiles, etc, so nothing earth-shattering here - no player interviews yet - but it's a good start and did start off the series by interviewing the coach.

Frisco
That play-by-play guy for Frisco still doesn't call pitches. This will be his second year there so, on the developmental scale, I would have to say that he is not very "toolsy". And I say this most begrudgingly as you know how I hate giving up on those high ceiling types. Anyways, throw us a bone already, just call them this way (or any way): "fastball, breaking ball, change of pace" or even just "fastball, offspeed". You know there is a problem in the booth when people are tuning into the away feed...

Finally, i think that the word "begrudge" looks weird, sounds weird and connotes weirdly.

J2 Note

Back in 2009 Texas signed one j2-eligible LHP for a reported 75k from the Leones de Yucatan, a Mexican minor league club. He was injured in some way by the time the 2010 season started but I've heard nary a word about him in 15 months. I think i might have come across his name on the 2010-11 roster of the Yaquis de Obregon, Luis Daniel de la Torre Carrillo, a LHP listed at 6.1/160. However his date of birth is listed at 12/1/93, which would've have meant that he was inelgible to sign in July 2009 at the age of 15. His last name is also slightly different, Carrillo, rather than Carillo. Anyways, I'm not sure this is the guy or why he is or was there last year but seems like it could be the guy. Maybe his contract was voided?



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Interview with HighA coach

Alan Blondin at the Sun News has a short but interesting Q&A with the Pelicans first- year coach Jason Wood.

I should add that Brad Holman is the pitching coach there this year after 2 years in Hickory. He is extremely well-respected by the organization and the things he touches tend to turn to gold. Many of the pitchers from HighA were with him in LowA and I would imagine that the added continuity might allow them to make quick strides in their development.

As I noted in the off season, I expect the depth in the upper minors, well, in AA at least, to improve dramatically by mid-season if a lot of the HighA players progress as expected. That added depth is going to come in handy at the trade deadline given that Texas will surely be shopping for a top roto arm for a playoff run, hopeully a guy with at least one more year of control with the likely departure of CJ Wilson in the off season.



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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pelican News

So how does it feel to finally have a HighA team that gets an official play by play, some ink in the local press and for whom prospects will no longer disappear into an information black hole? Finally. Here is a piece from the Sun News about the Pelican roster from earlier in the week when the Rangers were in town:

Daniels, Service, Manuel

It is only a piece that qualifies as earth shattering if one like it had never before been scripted about the Blaze...



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