Monday, June 13, 2011

AZL/Spokane

Victor Payano and Santo Perez (85k, 2010) assigned to the AZL club.

Scott Lucas got an advanced copy of the Spokane roster and both Payano and Perez are on it. I guess the transfer of both of the guys to the AZL club was just a paperwork issue...

Whatever the case, the M&M roster has been updated.

There are a few mild surprises. Hanser Alberto, Rougned Odor and Victor Payano might have been expected to debut in AZ but given their impressive performances in extended (per Jason Cole) it seems the Texas staff felt that they could handle the challenging assignment. Victor Payano's velo increased from the 87-89 range to touching the low 90's. Given Payano's skinny frame, this was a bit of a surprise, as one would think that an increase might not come along until he put on some weight in a year or two, but, well, there it is. Both Alberto and Odor continue to impress with their hit tools. Hiro Onaka also hit well in extended per Cole.

The starting roto will be: David Perez, Richard Alvarez, John Kukuruda, Carlos Melo, Victor Payano. I'm not a big fan of Alvarez, a high 80's smallish righthander with good secs- seems like a #5 type - but Jason Parks loves the guy, so we'll see how he does. The biggest challenge he'll face will be higher up in the minors with that fringy FB, but you would expect him to put up some good #s in the low minors given his secs, as long as his FB command is above average. He had some injury problems in 2010 so he didn't get a good look.

The biggest thing about the pitching staff to take note of here is that there could be as many as 5 other guys guys there who project as starters, and 2 more who might be on the reserve squad (waiting for a promotion to lowA, or who could be injured): Juan Grullon, Chris Hanna, Lobo, Hendricks, Santo Perez (and Zike Rijo, Shawn Blackwell). Now most of these likely have back roto ceilings but a #5 is a #5, even though fans vastly underestimate the value of back roto arms; there were only about 130 decent starters in the bigs last year so there is great value there. David Perez, Victor Payano, and Carlos Melo are the high ceiling guys here. Melo is still young but he does need to show some consistency if not put up some dominant #s in his second year in Spokane. His ceiling might have taken a bit of a knock, as his velo dropped a tick last year (90-93) but it will be a couple of years before we can say where he will sit, with the progression of his secs being the most important factor one would think. Remember that Texas pushes their youngest high ceiling guys hard, including their Latin kids, so repeating a level does not carry the same warning signs for them as it might for a US kid. Furthermore, Texas will stick with their kids as starters until they prove incapable of starting, so Melo will stick in the roto for a few more years at least.

I would think that Will Lamb would be added to the roster when he signs, and, one would hope that he has a starter's ceiling, though they could be thinking of him as a lefty closer. He really has only pitched during his Jr year (23ip) so he'll have his innings carefully managed at whatever level he makes his debut. Both Cone, Lamb and Matthews are rumored to have already signed so expect Cone to be added to the roster as soon as opening day.

The biggest omissions were Luis Sardinas, Drew Robinson, and Jordan Akins. Luis Sardinas is still rehabbing from off-season surgery (~Oct) for a shoulder separation while Drew Robinson is recovering from a broken finger. Cole has noted that Robinson was hitting really well in extended at the time of his injury and that he likely has been moved to 3b for now. It is a little surprising that Sardinas is not healthy by now; maybe we;ll see him debut as a DH shortly after the season starts. And I love Drew Robinson as a hitter; he is the opposite of the typical Rangers' draft pick, more like a Robbie Erlin, or a Codie Buckel than a Jordan Akins - advanced hitting tools, limited ceiling, high floor. Akins appears to need more seasoning, which isn't good news, but not unexpected. He's a great athlete, but it isn't yet clear that he's good at baseball.

It wouldn't surprise me to see a few guys left off of the roster to be promoted to A-ball when the AZL schedule begins, with other promotions coming throughout the system as a result.

Wildcard of note: Santo Angel Perez. Formerly known as 16yo Santo Franco in 2008, who signed with the Cards for 570k before being suspended for age/identity fraud for the 2009 season. Now known as 22yo Santo Angel Perez, who signed with TX in May of 2010 for 85k as a 21yo. He made 11 starts in the DSL last year and pitched pretty well:
12g/11gs -2.59/ 59/47/ 0/9/ 41/2.27g_a/.210baa

Given his age, he might only be a bullpen arm at this point. Here are some reports from 2008, where he was originally listed at 6.7/190 and now at 6.5/200, so he's a big kid but that is as big as he'll likely get given his age. He would've been ~19.4yo at the time these reports were written:
Franco has potential to be a top of the rotation starter someday in the big leagues and very few pitchers have his combination of size, stuff, and pitchability at such a young age," said Juan Mercado, Scouting Supervisor for Latin America.


Franco pitched two innings in the game at our complex in the DR. The first pitch out of his hand was 90 but he was mostly 88 to 89. Our local scouts have seen him many times and have recorded him up to 92. He is an impressive guy physically. Tall, loose and lean - a great profile for a Dominican pitcher. He wasn't trying to strike everybody out... he wanted to make his pitches and get outs. Our DSL players mostly put the ball in play but didn't hit anything hard, and there were a few swing and miss pitches - one on a change up and one on a breaking ball. He let a few go well outside the zone, but that happens with these young pitchers that are still working on grips and trying different pitches. With proper instruction, he has the potential to have three plus pitches and be durable. He does profile as a starter.”

Franco's velocity has grown from 88-89 mph to 90-91 mph, touching 92 with good sink and armside run. His present velocity and long, lanky frame scream projection on his fastball, which should be a plus pitch in the future if not even plus-plus.
However, Franco is almost completely projection right now, as the rest of his game is still raw. He has flashed a solid-average breaking ball, but mostly the pitch is inconsistent and his changeup is non-existent. One scout said that Franco might be asking for $1 million, but that it would take an overzealous team to match that price. "We liked him," said another international scouting director. "He had a good arm, but he doesn't have a breaking ball. It's not really a good pitch—he's more suited for a slider with his arm action because he's long in the back. He's the prototypical projection guy with a big arm."

Franco has a great build for a pitcher (6-5, 175). His fastball (88-90 mph) has yet to reach its potential, but he has shown good command of his changeup and curve. He has looked better in real games than in exhibitions.


DRAFT NOTE:
BA notes that 12th round bullpen arm Greg Williams signed for 125k. Slot after the 5th round is flexible, but defined by MLB as not more than 140k as the slot for the last pick of the 5th round is about 145k.



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