Sports Outside the Beltway

Detroit Catcher Gerald Laird and his brother arrested after brawl

Were they the last professional athletes to be arrested in 2009? From AP-

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, New York Yankees infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena, according to police.

Phoenix police said Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault Wednesday night and 22-year-old Brandon Laird was cited for disorderly conduct. Police said the Lairds and a third man were arrested at U.S. Airways Center after the fight during the Phoenix Suns-Boston Celtics game.

Police said arena security previously contacted the group of men about their loud behavior. Two of the men were allowed back into the lounge after a conversation with security, but a melee broke out shortly afterward and the Laird brothers allegedly assaulted the security guards.

Brandon Laird is a infield prospect in the New York Yankees farm system.


A batty trade

Minor league pitcher, John Odom, was traded for 10 bats.

During three years in the low minors, John Odom never really made a name for himself.

That sure changed this week—he’s the guy who was traded for a bunch of bats.

“I don’t really care,” he said Friday. “It’ll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues.”

For now, Odom is headed to the Laredo Broncos of the United League. They got him Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style.

That actually was good news for the small company, Prarie Sticks.

News of pitcher John Odom’s trade to the Laredo Broncos of the independent United Baseball League, which became necessary when Odom had trouble crossing the border into Canada, was just a few hours old when it began to spread like a virus across the Internet. It moved to television, then even deeper into cyberspace once video became available. And at every turn, the name Prairie Sticks popped up.

The proof was in the PDA when Greenberg and Zinger woke up to resume their trip home.

“All these orders came in between midnight and 5 or 6 a.m. while we were sleeping,” Greenberg said.

People from California to Connecticut wanted Prairie Sticks bats.

Odom shouldn’t be too insulted, future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was once traded for baseballs!

Baseball men often will say of a washed-up player, “You couldn’t trade him for a bag of balls.” Technically, the Dodgers didn’t trade for Rickey Henderson. But they did give up a bag of balls. The Newark Bears, an independent minor league team, were contractually obligated to release Henderson, 44, if a major league club wanted him. But when Henderson departed, the Bears made a special request of the Dodgers, asking for a shipment of balls. The Dodgers happily obliged with six dozen, establishing a new going rate for a future Hall of Famer: approximately $130,000–the prorated portion of the minimum salary the Dodgers will pay Henderson–plus 72 balls.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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Investing in minor leaguers

More and more teams are discovering that the most cost effective way to build a team is to draft well. Athletics Supporter demonstrates how this worked in the case of drafting Mark Mulder. (h/t Baseball Musings) If you want to build a team, invest in minor leaguers.

It might also be a way to build a portfolio. Writing in Slate – “Bullpen Market” – Josh Levin tells of a minor league pitcher’s who’s selling his future earnings.

Yesterday, I bought a professional baseball player. It only took a minute. I surfed over to Real Sports Investments, clicked the “Buy Now” button, and purchased six shares of Randy Newsom. Along with my Slate colleagues John Swansburg and Dan Engber, I am now the proud owner of 0.0096 percent of a minor-league pitcher’s future major-league earnings. Mr. Newsom, I wish you a long and prosperous career—emphasis on prosperous. If Newsom makes $1,000,000 over the course of his major-league career, the Slate investment group will take a loss, earning a piddling $96 on an initial investment of $143.82. If he makes $10 million, we’ll get $960. And if he makes Barry Zito money? I won’t be retiring early, but I’ll be able to watch my baseball-playing property on some nice plasma TVs.

The 25-year-old Newsom, a midtier relief pitcher in the Cleveland Indians organization, is the first pro baseball player to hold a self-IPO. Real Sports Investments, the company Newsom hatched last year with two ex-ballplayer business partners, is fantasy baseball minus the fantasy. Newsom is selling off 4 percent of his potential MLB earnings at $20 per share. (A 15 percent “player valuation and share allocation fee” and a 2.9 percent “online processing fee” bump the price up to $23.97). A total of 2,500 shares will be offered, netting the pitcher $50,000 if they all get sold. As of today, investors can only buy shares; selling and trading will come soon, once RSI launches a snazzier Web site. And according to Newsom, this isn’t a “one-player thing”: In an interview with Baseball Prospectus, he says RSI is in talks with lots more minor leaguers.

Once upon a time baseball cards were thought to be great investments. I suppose with the popularization of statistical analysis, they could still be, but why not invest in a baseball player. Actually, there’s a possible reason not to.

Will it work as a market? Jeff Ma, the co-founder of ProTrade and the leader of the Vegas-busting MIT blackjack team, says it’s a winning concept for minor-league ballplayers like Newsom. A ballplayer’s career carries substantial risk, Ma says, and it makes sense to shave off potential wealth in exchange for insurance against never getting a major-league payday. (If Newsom doesn’t make the majors, his investors get nothing.) Ma is skeptical, though, that players with higher earning potential will care to participate, and without these higher-tier prospects, the market won’t be as attractive to investors. “You’re not talking about Barry Bonds or [future stars like] Billy Butler or Tim Lincecum selling their future upside,” Ma says. “How many people will want to speculate on the Randy Newsoms of the world?”

My guess (especially after reading the article) is that people might invest, but probably less with the idea of making money on the deal than in being invested in a professional athlete and whatever psychic benefits that brings.

Once upon a time – maybe even as recently as 20 – 30 years ago – being a part owner of a minor league team was not out of reach for a middle class investor. Now he could, at least, invest in a minor leaguer.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.

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Braves Re-Sign Franco, Ship to Single A

The Braves have re-signed veteran Julio Franco but will stash him at the A-level in their farm until the September call-ups.

If the Braves qualify for the postseason, there is a good chance they will have Julio Franco on the roster when they get there.

The 48-year-old first baseman cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment with Class A Rome, with an agreement the Braves would bring him back to the majors by Sept. 1. That’s when rosters can be expanded for the season’s final month.

That would qualify him for the postseason roster. And Franco’s experience, defense, and pinch-hitting ability would seem to make him a more likely playoff roster choice than rookie Scott Thorman.

“He deserves it,” manager Bobby Cox said of Franco, the oldest player in the majors — he’ll turn 49 on Aug. 23 — and a popular team member in two stints with the Braves. “I mean, he hit the ball like crazy with us.”

Franco signed with the Braves on July 18 after being released by the New York Mets. He hit .250 with three doubles and seven RBIs in 11 games with Atlanta before being designated for assignment one day after the Braves acquired star first baseman Mark Teixeira from Texas in a July 31 trade.

Franco hit .333 (8-for-24) with three doubles and five RBIs in his last seven games before being dropped by the Braves, who figured he was more likely to get through waivers unclaimed than Thorman.


The plan is for Franco to report later this week to Rome and play at least a few games a week in August to stay in shape before returning to the major league roster. Cox said Franco might also play some for Class A Myrtle Beach, if he decides to take his family to the coast for a few days. “If he just plays three or four games every eight games, that’s plenty,” Cox said. “We just want him to stay in shape.”

It’s rather odd for a guy you want on your playoff roster to be facing the worst pro pitching, but I guess when you’ve played as long as Franco, it’s just a matter of not losing your physical conditioning.


Orioles minor league road trip

The Baltimore Sun had a series on the Orioles’ farm teams. Following an itinerary mapped out here, it’s especially relevant now that the Orioles have all their farm teams clustered reasonably close by.

The first profile was of Bowie. The Bowie Baysox are now in their 15th year. (Their first year, 1993, they played in Memorial Stadium. Tippy Martinez had a barbecue stand.) Since 1997 I’ve taken my children to at least one Baysox game each year. It is great family entertainment and somewhat less expensive than major league baseball. (Given the performance of the Orioles during this time, there is little reason to shell out the money to see their games.)

The first game we went to in 1997 featured the Baysox of David Dellucci and Calvin Pickering. Dellucci was the hero of the game we attended hitting a 12th inning double that drove in the winning run against the Reading Phillies.

After going to a few games I realized something: most foul-pops go to the right side. (For the physics explaining this see here.)
So we started sitting along first base. The first year we did that, 2001, Bowie first baseman Franky Figueroa hit a foul. I remember following it with my eyes. I don’t know that I moved much, but when it landed, I was in position. The ball bounced on the bench in front of me and I reflexively bare handed it on the bounce. (My children were impressed.) In 2001, the Baysox were terrible, and we were there late in the game when most of the fans had left, that gave me an extra edge.

In 2003, someone from the grounds crew saw my son, and tossed him a ball. After the game we were treated nicely and got autographs from a few players and coaches including Kris Wilken, former #1 pick Darnell McDonald and coach Butch Davis. That game wasn’t just a game, it was an experience and the children loved it.

Last year we got a foul ball. Had we been a bit quicker, we might have gotten a second. And then after the game they let the children on the field to run around the bases. When they finished, they were given a t-shirt. Needless to say the children had a great time again.

Other nice aspects of Bowie are the carousel and the free admission for children wearing a uniform. (I believe that all the Maryland farm teams have these.)

Among the players we’ve seen at Bowie have included Augie Ojeda, Jerry Hairston Jr., Brian Roberts, Mike Fontenot, Willie Harris, Howie Clark (who had an incident with A-Rod earlier this year), Aaron Rakers, Luis Matos and Jayson Werth. Here are a couple of posts related to the Baysox.

Anyway, back to the Sun article, At Bowie, zany promotions take fans’ breath away

When a team like the Baysox hovers around the .500 mark and players are being called up and sent down, building a reputation for entertainment and good service is paramount to survival. The Double-A Orioles affiliate will stop at nothing – or almost nothing – to put fannies in the seats.

That means staging last week’s Bad Breath Night, three Bark in the Park events for pooches this season (the last will be Aug. 26), a Tribute to Toilet Paper Aug. 31 and fireworks, fireworks, fireworks – 22 dates over the five-month season.

If a homeowner wanted to stage a similar 10-minute pyrotechnic display by Zambelli Internationale, it would set him back almost $5,000. By contrast, an adult general admission seat at Bowie is $9.

I believe that once the Baysox tried to get into the Guinness book of World records by giving everyone a whoopee cushion so they could have the biggest collection of people sitting on whoopee cushions at the same time. So yes some of the promotions are silly. But people enjoy them and will go as much for the promotions as for the game.

The next article in the series tells of Fans, players share special relationship between the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds and their fans. They’re somewhat more accessible than the AA players at Bowie.

There’s Gil and Joyce Dunn, booster club leaders, who take Delmarva Shorebirds into their home, steer many of them through their first steamed crab dinner, cheer them when they’re slumping and cheer for them when they’re riding high.

And Hannah Seward, who started a Web site for the team four years ago when she was 12 — to profess her undying love — and ended up creating a site where the parents of players can see how their boys of summer are doing.

And Bob and Donna Cummings, long-time season ticket holders, who sit just behind the visitor’s dugout and admit that geography makes them tighter with the opposing players and coaches than the home team. But that doesn’t stop them from honking away on a small noisemaker when their favorite Shorebirds come through.

(From what I’ve read having local families hosting minor league players is not unique to Delmarva. I believe that also happens in Bowie. I suspect that it’s a pretty widespread phenomenon.)

If you’d like to keep up with Delmarva, Monoblogue features a Shorebird of the week, every week of the season.

Frederick fans sing a different tune tells of Keys fans who sing

We’re the Frederick Keys

Come on out support your team

Baseball is back in town

You can hear the shaking sound

Bring the family

Unfortunately other than the Key’s theme song and how the grounds crew had to fix the field, there’s not much else to the Frederick article.

The Bluefield article about the Orioles rookie team, Bluefield offers rare throwback atmosphere tells of the no frills nature of the lowest rung in the system ladder, but the one with, perhaps, the most history.

But Bluefield’s humble status belies its place in Oriole history.

“This is where Cal Ripken got on the bus to start his career,” says Bruce Adams, a minor-league baseball aficionado who, with wife Margaret Engel, wrote the book, Ballpark Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Baseball Parks across America. “Bluefield is the one most people haven’t experienced and if they love baseball, they should.”

In addition to Ripken, who played in Bluefield in 1978, there’s Eddie Murray, Boog Powell, Don Baylor and Bobby Grich. Dean Chance, signed by the Orioles in 1959, passed through town on his way to the Los Angeles Angels in the expansion draft and a Cy Young Award in 1964.

Last Sunday, Grich returned to town for the first time in 40 years to celebrate the Golden Anniversary and conduct a baseball clinic for local kids.

But if the 50 year relationship between the Orioles and Bluefield shows the rich history of the franchise, the article about Norfolk, In Norfolk, Tide turns from Mets to O’s tells of the Orioles’ less than sterling recent past. Four years ago the Orioles lost their affiliate in Rochester, because the Red Wings were tired of poor showings. This past fall the Orioles lucked out, because Norfolk decided that it wanted to be the location of the O’s minor league team. Norfolk terminated its longtime association with the Mets to do so. Having a farm team in Norfolk is much better than having one in Ottawa, but it serves as a reminder that not only have the Orioles been failing their fans, they’ve also been failing their affiliates.

Owner Ken Young was wooed by the Nationals and the Orioles, both looking for a Triple-A affiliation closer to home.

“It was hard to make the decision even before we knew it was the Orioles,” says Young, a food service mogul and baseball traditionalist who wears a 2000 Mets National League championship ring on his right hand. “I joked that the hardest part was that I might lose out on some more hardware.”

But Young, who also bought the Bowie Baysox and Frederick Keys in the offseason, gave up little in the switch. Season ticket sales are up slightly, the team store is selling more Orioles apparel than it did Mets gear. And with the MASN sports network on the Norfolk cable system, fans can follow their favorite players up to Baltimore.

The Orioles gained, too.

In abandoning fan-less Lynx Stadium in Ottawa in favor of Harbor Park, they gained a 12,000-seat gem along the banks of the Elizabeth River that serves as one of the anchors of a revitalized waterfront. Trains roll by the left-field fence and ships and barges glide by right field. The ballpark, 15 years old, looks a third its age because crews power wash it daily.

Norfolk’s GM David Rosenfield has some positive words for the big league team

But Rosenfield, 76, runs a tight ship, which means clean and well-lighted restrooms, a full-service restaurant down the right-field line and a huge picnic area. It’s exactly what you would expect from a man voted the “King of Baseball” at the 2004 baseball winter meetings.

Rosenfield praises the Orioles’ minor-league brain trust.

“At this level, you have some players on the downturn just hanging on. The Mets last year had six or seven guys in their mid-30s and they played like it. That’s not what the minor leagues are supposed to be about. You’re not supposed to be hanging on for a paycheck,” Rosenfield says. “The Orioles don’t put up with that.”

The oldest players on the Tides are Alberto Castillo, 37, who had two stints as backup catcher with the Orioles this season, and pitcher Tim Kester, 35. The rest of the players are 30 or younger.

With the Tides currently languishing in 3rd (out of 4 places) in their division at 45-49 and few prospects worthy of the name on the roster, I wonder how long the honeymoon will last.

Finally in If you build it they will come, the Sun reports on what it’s like to attend Cal Ripken’s Aberdeen Ironbirds.

It also includes a bit of a primer what teams look for at the lowest level of the minor leagues and at succeeding levels.

As Orioles assistant general manager and director of minor league operations, David Stockstill spends his summers on the road pruning the farm system.

“At the beginning, they’re very, very raw,” he says. “As hitters we want them seeing the pitches, judging the rotation, judging speed. When they can do that, they’re able to move up a level and then we’d like to see them hit the ball all over the field and hit the ball with authority, the breaking ball as well as the fast ball. That should get them up to the Double-A area. After that, it’s more adjustment pitch to pitch as the pitcher adjusts to them.”

Stockstill also watches how players mature and deal with stress and being away from home: “Can they handle having 10,000 people yelling at them and come back and perform?”

Orioles Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer says at lower levels, the emphasis is on athleticism, good control and movement on the pitches: “Does he have a wind-up he can repeat?”

“As they go up, you want to see how they read bats,” he says. “If the batters are on their fastball, do they recognize that and go to something else? How do you do when things don’t go well? That usually happens at some point in the minors. Do you maintain your composure when it does?”

Making sure players have the fundamentals down at Double-A is important, says Stockstill, because many players skip over the highest level of the minors on their way to the majors. These days, a city that pays for construction of a 12,000-seat Triple-A stadium wants a winning team in return. So the age and experience of players has increased as parent clubs try to maintain good working relationships.

However Minor League, Major Troubles tells of mistakes the city of Aberdeen made in luring the Ironbirds. Certain development that the city was counting on never materialized. Now the city is seeing none of the expected benefits of having the minor league team in town. It doesn’t change the fact that the Ironbirds are thriving financially.

It was a good idea to give an overview of the Orioles’ minor league system. The illogical route taken is a function of scheduling. (Sometimes the scheduling’s a little odd. Recently we had considered taking in a Frederick or Bowie game but neither team was home that week. The different leagues ought to work things out so there are options of catching one or another team on a given day.)

I can only hope that it won’t be long before it will be interesting to see games at each level for the baseball and not just for the gimmicks.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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A’s Designate Milton Bradley for Assignment

According to ESPN, the A’s have designated OF Milton Bradley for assignment, which all but ends his career with Oakland.

The Oakland Athletics designated outfielder Milton Bradley for assignment Thursday, cutting ties with a player who was expected to play an important role on the team this season.

Bradley had been on the disabled list three times this year and was frustrated that the team waited two extra days to activate him this week because of uncertainty about third baseman Eric Chavez’s health.

Asked Tuesday how he was feeling, Bradley curtly responded, “I’m healthy and on the bench.” Bradley was activated from the DL the following day and went 0-for-3 with a walk.

The A’s have 10 days to trade or release Bradley. Because he has more than three years of major league service time, Bradley can refuse an assignment to the minor leagues.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Bradley’s agent, Sam Levinson. “Milton is healthy and looking forward to helping some club win many games this season.”

I am sure Milton will land with another team as he is a quality ball player. A team like the Twins who need a real bat in LF would be great, although I am not sure many teams would want to put up with his poor clubhouse presence. Another suitor if he made it to the waiver wire could be the Pirates. Bradley would be a huge upgrade in CF over the current platoon of Duffy/Nady/Bautista.

It is a contract year for Bradley, and he would be playing to earn a great contract if he can catch on with a team (and behave himself) for the rest of this season.


2007 MLB Mock Draft

This is my final mock for the 2007 MLB draft which airs tomorrow on ESPN2 at 2pm ET.

I made some changes but tried to stay true to my original mock. The main changes had to do with agent Scott Boras and his crazy bonus demands (supposedly asking for $8-$10M for Matt Wieters). Those players have obviuosly dropped on my mock due to his ridiculous demands.

Now I bring you the final edition of my 2007 MLB Mock Draft!

With the First selction in the 2007 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select…

First Round

1 TB – David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
2 KC – Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri St.
3 CHC – Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress High, CA
4 PIT – Jason Heyward, OF/1B, Henry County H.S., GA
5 BAL – Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Ecole Secondary Du Versant, Quebec
6 WAS – Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep, NJ
7 MIL – Mike Koustakas, C/3B, Chatsworth H.S., GA
8 COL – Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson
9 ARI – Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell H.S., IN
10 SF – Beau Mills, CIF, Lewis-Clark State
11 SEA – Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
12 FLA – Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell H.S., NC
13 CLE – Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth H.S., CA
14 ATL – Michael Main, RHP, Deland H.S., FL
15 CIN – Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving H.S., TX
16 TOR(from TEX) – Nick Noonan, SS, Francis Parker H.S., CA
17 TEX(from HOU) – Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
18 STL – Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch H.S., CT
19 PHI – Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
20 LAD(from BOS) – Tim Alderson, RHP, Hprizon H.S., ARI
21 TOR – Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
22 SF(from LAD) – Michael Burgess, OF, Hillsborough H.S. Tampa, FL
23 SD – James Simmons, RHP, UC Riverside
24 TEX(from LAA) – Mitch Canham, C, Oregon State
25 CHW – Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee
26 OAK – Aaron Poreda, LHP, San Francisco
27 DET – Peter Kozma, SS, Oswasso H.S., OK
28 MIN – Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia
29 SF(from NYM) – Devon Mesaraco, C, Punxsutawney H.S., PA
30 NYY – Andrew Brackman, RHP, N.C. State

Sandwich Round

31 WAS(for Alfonso Soriano) – Neil Ramirez, RHP, Kempsville H.S., VA
32 SF(for Moises Alou) – Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun H.S., GA
33 ATL(for Danys Baez) – Nevin Griffith, RHP, Middleton H.S. Tampa, FL
34 CIN(for Rich Aurilia) – Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial H.S., TX
35 TEX(for Carlos Lee) – Jake Arrieta, RHP, TCU
36 STL(for Jeff Suppan) – Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland
37 PHI(for David Dellucci) – Matt Mangini, 3B, Oklahoma State
38 TOR(for Justin Speier) – Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami Springs H.S., FL
39 LAD(for Lugo) – Travis Mattair, 3B/IF, Southridge H.S., WA
40 SD(for Woody Williams) – Kyle Russell, RF, Texas
41 OAK(for Barry Zito) – Wes Roemer, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
42 NYM(for Roberto Hernandez) – Jack McGeary, LHP/1B, Roxbury Latin H.S., Mass.
43 SF(for Schmidt) – Justin Jackson, SS, Roberson H.S., NC
44 TEX(for Matthews) – Kentrail Davis, OF, Theodore H.S., AL
45 TOR(for Catalanotto) – Nathan Vineyard, LHP, Woodland H.S., GA
46 SD(for Dave Roberts) – Wendell Fairley, OF/RHP, George County, Lucedale HS, Miss.
47 NYM(for Chad Bradford) – Sean Doolittle, LHP/1B, Virginia
48 CHC(for Juan Pierre) – J.P. Arencibia, C, Tennessee
49 WAS(for Jose Guillen) – Eric Eiland, OF, Lamar H.S., TX
50 ARI(for Craig Counsell) – Matt Latos, RHP, Broward County CC
51 SF(for Mike Stanton) – Todd Frazier, SS/OF, Rutgers
52 SEA(for Gil Meche) – Josh Donaldson, C, Auburn
53 CIN(for Scott Schoeneweis) – Tanner Robles, LHP, Cottonwood H.S., UT
54 TEX(for Mark DeRosa) – James Adkins, LHP, Tennessee
55 BOS(for Alex Gonzalez) – Greg Peavy, RHP, Hudson’s Bay H.S., UT
56 TOR(for Ted Lilly) – Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
57 SD(for Chan Ho Park) – Ryan Dent, IF, Wilson H.S., CA
58 LAA(for Adam Kennedy) – Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland Christian H.S., TX
59 OAK(for Frank Thomas) – Eddie Kunz, RHP, Oregon State
60 DET(for Jamie Walker) – Travis D’Arnaud, C, Lakewood H.S., CA
61 ARI(Miguel Batista) – Danny Rams, C, Guliver Prep, Miami, FL
62 BOS(for Keith Foulke) – Jordan Zimmerman, P, U of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
63 SD(for Alan Embree) – Josh Horton, SS, North Carolina
64 SD(for Ryan Klesko) – Kevin Keys, OF, Connally H.S., TX


Prospects You Need to Keep An Eye On

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Don’t you love prospects? Who doesn’t? Anyone from Brien Taylor to Alex Rodriguez have been top prospects. Some players have what it takes to dominate the minors and the majors while others end up as AAAA players or out of professional baseball all together. Below is a list of prospects you may or may not have heard of. These are all players that have done one of the above I mentioned: dominate the minors. All they have left to do is prove thier worth in the bigs.

I am not profiling guys that have any big league experience. No Alex Gordon, no Billy Butler, no Delmon Young, no Matt Garza, no Phil Huges… you get the point.

If you are in fantasy keeper leagues that allow you to have a certain number of minor leaguers stashed away I suggest you look closely at the list provided. Some of the players are you going to start tearing up the bigs this season, some will have to wait until 2009.

Without any more rambling I present you with a few prospects you need to keep your eye on.

3B Evan Longoria – Longoria is just 21 and only a year out of college. He has gone a combined .317/.393/.595 in 388 at-bats in his pro career. What is most astounding are his power numbers. Over those 388 at-bats he already has 28 homers, 22 doubles, 1 triple, 92 RBI, 73 runs scored, and a BB/SO ratio of 44/71 (including 25/27 this season). He is a plus defender at 3B with a good arm. He doesn’t have much speed but runs the bases well. He crushes lefties but he hits righties very well too. Longoria projects as a .300-30-110-5-100 middle of the order bat for the Rays. ETA: Sep 2007

SS Reid Brignac – In 128 games in 2006 he hit .321/.376/.539 with 100 runs 32 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers, 99 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. His only knock is he is an “ok” defender and struck out 113 times. He has improved significantly on his defense and scouts say he can play SS in the majors. He got off to a good start, hitting .298 with 4 homers in his first 114 at-bats. He’s slowed down sicne, going 7 for his last 40 with no homers in his first full season in AA but don’t be fooled, he is one of the youngest players in that league. Brignac projects as a .290-25-90-10-90 guy at SS. If you are in a deep keeper league and have minor league rosters I would stash him away if he isn’t already taken. ETA: Sep 2007 at the earliest and could be the big league SS for TB starting 2008

OF Jay Bruce – Bruce, 20, is one of my favorite prospects. He is a true RF, with plus-plus power and a strong arm. He needs to imporve on hitting lefties so he doesn’t become a platoon plyer but he is too good to allow this to happen. So far this year for the Reds HiA Florida State League (pithcer friendly league) team he has hit .340/.389/.642 with impressive power numbers: 9 homers 12 doubles and 5 triples in only 162 at-bats, driving in 30 and scoring 31 in 40 games. He hit .291/.355/.516 last year with 16 homers 42 doubles 5 triples 81 RBI 69 runs and 19 steals in 444 at-bats. But don’t let the steals fool you, he only has 2 so far this year and isn’t exactly a burner. Bruce projects as a .310-35-110-8 guy in the bigs. That’s no joke! Store him now if you can. ETA: 2009

OF Cameron Maybin – Maybin, 20, is off to a hot start: .317/.434/.486 in 142 at-bats with 4 homers, 6 doubles, and 3 triples. He’s also scored 31 and drove in 20 in 39 games with 13 steals and a 29/47 BB/SO ratio. He needs to cut the strikeouts down a bit but that is an impressive walk rate for a young hitter in a pitcher’s league (HiA FSL). Maybin is the Tigers CF of the future and is an impact bat with plus range and a good arm for center. Last year he hit .304/.387/.457 with 9 homers 20 2B and 6 3B in 385 at-bats, not to mention he drove in 69 and scored 59 and stole 27 bases. He is very young and still a little raw. The Tigers expect him to fill his frame out and when he does they expect some of those doubles to turn into homers. He could be a yearly .300-18-85-30-95 guy in the bigs. ETA: 2009

OF Justin Upton – Upton, who doesn’t turn 20 until late August, is the younger brother of B.J Upton. Upton was the first overall pick by the Diamondbacks two years ago out of high school. He did “ok” last year hitting .263/.343/.413 with 12 homers and 15 steals in 438 at-bats. This year he is tearing up anything that comes his way. He is now in AA at the ripe age of 19 and is hitting a combined .347/.439/.611 between HiA and AA. He also has 9 homers 7 doubles and 2 triples to go with 10 steals a BB/K ratio of 22/33 and 34 runs and 28 RBI in 144 at-bats. The D-Back believe he can be a #3 hitter and see him as a .310-25-100-25-100 player. ETA: SEP 2008

OF Travis Snider – Snider, 19, is tearing up Midwest league pitching to the tune of .366/.394/.557 with 2 homers 11 doubles and 4 triples in 131 at-bats. He has driven in 27 and scored 16 with 3 steals. His BB/SO ratio (8/27 in 33 games) needs to improve and will with more experience. Snider impressed in the Appy league last year going .325/.412/.567 with 11 homers 12 doubles and a triple in 194 at-bats with a 30/47 BB/K ratio. He also stole 6 and had 36 runs and 41 RBI. Snider is projected as a RF, with plus power potential and a good arm that will be fine in RF. The Blue Jays won’t rush him. He projects as a .300/25/100 bat. ETA: SEP 2009

SP Jake McGee – McGee, 20, is 3-1 in 8 starts in HiA ball with a 1.51 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched. He’s also struck out 45 and walked 17. Here is what is key though, only 27 hits allowed for a .182 average and no home runs allowed. Last year he posted a 2.96 with 171 SO in 134 IP and only 7 homers allowed with a .211 avg. McGee is a power pitcher and is a front of the rotation type starter. ETA: Sep 2008 at the earliest

SP Wade Davis – Davis, 21, is 2-0 in 8 starts in HiA ball with a 1.70 ERA in 47.2 IP, including a no-hitter. He has struck out 45 against 14 walks. Like McGee, he doesn’t allow many hits, only 31 for a .191 avg and only one homer against him. Last year he posted a 3.02 ERA and struck out 165 in 146 IP while allowing only 5 homers. Anothr power arm like McGee and also projects as a 1-3 starter. ETA: Sep 2008 at the earliest

SP Adam Miller – Miller, 22, is waiting for a spot in the Indians rotation to open up. He is currently 4-1 with a 2.45 in 44 AAA innings. He a has struck out 39 and walked 14 and only given up 2 homers. His numbers last year were 15-6 with a 2.84 and 161 K to 46 BB in 156.1 IP. He could be at the top of the Indians rotation for many years. ETA: Sep 2007

SP Homer Bailey – Bailey is possibly the best pitching prospect in all of pro ball, possibly better than Phil Highes. Bailey is 21 and doing quite well in AAA with a 3-1 record and a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 IP. His walks are up and strike outs are down (27/19 SO/BB) and that is the only reason he’s not in the Reds rotation right now. Even with the high walk rate he has only allowed 2 homers and a .194 avg against. His numbers last year were 10-6 with a 2.47 in 138.2 IP and 156 SO and a .198 avg against. ETA: no later than Sep 2007

SP Kevin Slowey – Slowey, 23, is a pitcher with great command and control. Some scouts still like to question his “stuff” but his numbers tell the story. So far this year he is 4-2 with a 1.46 in 49.1 AAA innings. What is most impressive is his 44/3 SO/BB ratio. That’s right, only 3 walks! He has a .176 avg against and only 2 homers against. Last year he posted an 8-5 record with a 1.88 ERA and 151/22 SO/BB ration in 148.2 IP with a .188 avg against. He should join the Twins rotation very soon. ETA: mid June 2007.

-stats are from games through 5/18/07


Royals Week in Review – 5/18/07

The Kansas City Royals are winners. There’s just no other way to put it. Check out the week-by-week record.

4/2  – 2-4
4/9  – 1-5
4/16 – 3-3
4/23 – 2-5
4/30 – 2-5
5/7  - 2-4
5/14 – 3-1

It has taken seven weeks to make it happen, but the Royals are finally a winning ball club.

Million-dollar Gil has been earning his dollars so far. Take out his horrid start on April 7, his numbers look like this:

8 54.1 49 14  7 14 43 3  1.16

Even adding in those seven unearned runs only puts his RA at 2.33 over that period.

Last week, we pointed this out about John Buck.

Dates       G  AVG OBP SLG OPS
4/2  – 4/20 14 429 529 893 1422
4/22 – 5/10 14 175 286 300 586

Apparently, John reads this blog, because he went on a six game hitting streak with three homeruns and seven RBIs. Mr. Buck, duly noted.

It’s getting to that point in the season when a lot of players are shuffled between the big league roster, the minor leagues and the disabled list.

Here are some of the notable transactions from this past week.

5/10 – Reinstated RHP Luke Hudson from the 15-day DL
5/13 – Placed RHP Luke Hudson on the 15-day DL

Two innings, four walks and five runs allowed. Thanks for stopping by, Luke.

5/13 – Recalled SS Angel Berroa from Triple-A Omaha and placed INF Ross Gload on the 15-day disabled list with strained quadriceps.

The out machine is back. Here is how Angel Berroa and Tony Pena, JR stack up after 41 games.

TPJ 07 250 285 340 957
AB  06 238 248 331 969

Range stats are still an inexact science, but most scouts will tell you that Pena is getting to a lot more balls than Berroa would have. From an offensive standpoint, TPJ will keep the advantage as long as he keeps slapping those triples.

5/16 – Recalled 1B Ryan Shealy from his injury rehabilitation assignment and activated him from the 15-day disabled list; Optioned OF Billy Butler to Triple-A Omaha.

It’s being commented elsewhere that Billy Butler is getting the Justin Huber treatment, but I don’t think that’s fair. The team called him up because he was ready and has been upfront about the fact he rode the bench to avoid injury as soon as they knew that he would be sent down when Shealy came back.

If Reggie Sanders isn’t on the DL, I think Emil Brown is touring Triple-A facilities for some other team right now. Alex Gordon playing first base isn’t anything we want to see for an extended period of time and putting Mike Sweeney there everyday is a ruptured disc waiting to happen.

Shane Costa can fight it out with Emil for the corner outfield spot until Reggie Sanders comes back, and it won’t be the organization’s top prospect getting sporadic playing time. I imagine Butler will be back sooner rather than later and at season’s end, the average age of the Royals lineup will be sitting somewhere south of 30.


Florida Marlins ship Anibal Sanchez back to the Minor Leagues

The second year pitcher was demoted on Friday-

The team optioned Anibal Sanchez to Class AAA Albuquerque on Friday, two days after the shortest outing of his brief career.

“He wasn’t the same as he was last year,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We need to get him straightened out for his own good and also for the team.”

Sanchez, 23, is 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA. He has pitched 30 innings in six starts and has posted 19 walks and 14 strikeouts. He allowed seven hits, three runs and four walks in just 31/3 innings Wednesday in a loss to the Mets in New York. He went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA and finished ninth in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season.

Gonzalez and pitching coach Rick Kranitz said Sanchez was unhappy with the team’s decision.

Sanchez has several issues, Kranitz said. They include the command of his pitches, his work tempo, a tendency to become too predictable, an inability to adjust to hitters, and a slight mechanical flaw that keeps him from throwing on a downhill plane, like he did last season.

“He’s throwing too many pitches,” Kranitz said. “He’ll get ahead 0-2, and then it’s 3-2. And he’s thrown blocks of four balls in a row.”

Sanchez is scheduled to start for the Isotopes on Tuesday against Portland, Ore. Kranitz does not believe Sanchez will spend much time in New Mexico.

“I have no doubt in my mind he will come back up here, whether it’s after two or three or four starts, and he will be better,” Kranitz said. “This will make him better.”

Sanchez pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins last September. In 1953, rookie Bobo Holloman pitched a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Athletics in his his first ML start. Two months later, Holloman was shipped to the minors. He never made it back to the majors. I think Sanchez will be back, as to future effectiveness, I’d only be guessing. His poor control isn’t a good omen.

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