February 2007

Hola from Arizona

Hey all –

It only took me a week, but I think I can finally say I’m not sick. Not that this is something you’re worrying about, mind you, but it explains why I’ve been out of communication for a while. Well, I’m here in Arizona and have been going from camp to camp. So, a couple of quick notes here in the Cactus League before getting to our Five Faves for the Cardinals and Rangers. I’ve been to four camps thus far. Here’s a headline from each camp:

Tempe (Angels): Wood happy to move to 3B; Angels wouldn’t move him if they thought it would ruin chances of playing shortstop again in the future.

Phoenix (A’s): Travis Buck thrilled to be in big-league camp and healthy; He reports in very good shape, with added strength; A’s predict doubles will start turning into home runs in 2007.

Mesa (Cubs): Donnie Veal throwing extremely well early on; Poised to make next step to elite pitching status

Peoria (Padres): Will Venable enjoying big-league invite; Outfielder soaking up information from all vets

You’ll have to wait for our Spring Training reports (beginning March 1) to get more detailed information (though I’m sure we’ll discuss some of it on the show tomorrow). Speaking of the show, we’ve got the Cardinals and Rangers coming up. Here are the Five Faves for St. Louis (from me) and for Texas (from Lisa):

Cardinals
Colby Rasmus, OF
Jaime Garcia, LHP
Bryan Anderson, C
Blake Hawksworth, RHP
Daryl Jones, OF

Rangers
Eric Hurley, RHP
Thomas Diamond, RHP
Edinson Volquez, RHP
John Mayberry Jr., OF
Joaquin Arias, SS

Better Late Than Never

Hey there folks …

The variety of east coast bugs floating around slowed us both down a little bit in the last few days and so we apologize for not getting our pre-show Five Faves posted until just a few hours before air time … sorry if you’ve been sitting there hitting "refresh" every five minutes (please tell me you haven’t!)

Today we will be visiting with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates so here are the five faves we’ll be chatting about:

TAMPA BAY:

OF Delmon Young (please hold your gasps of shock until the end)

3B Evan Longoria

SS Reid Brignac

P Jeff Niemann

P Jacob McGee

There were SO many good young starting pitchers and a few other hitters that could easily have made this list as well, this should be a fun organization to watch and a fun one to chat about today …

BUT I do have to get my sleeper pick in here because as far as I’m concerned you just can’t talk enough about OF Fernando Perez. 7th round of 2004, probably headed to AA Montgomery (but is in big league camp for now). Pure CF, best speed in the system, great defense, just taught himself to switch hit last year so that is a work in progress. Has been his respective team’s MVP each of the last two years, in Visalia and Southwest Michigan respectively. He has the kind of tools you can’t teach and he also has something that any team, but especially the Devil Rays right now, need: star quality as a great role model. Charisma. Smarts. Is the last one staying to sign autographs for the kids. You get the picture. Baseball needs more Fernando Perez’es.

Pittsburgh:

OF Andrew McCutchen (not such a bad role model himself and talk about a tool box!)

P Brad Lincoln

3B Neil Walker (yeah, 3B … we’ll talk more about that today)

P Yoslan Herrera

SS Brian Bixler

For sleeper, since poor Jonathan is ill and headed to Arizona, I’m gonna make a call here and go with OF Nyjer Morgan, one of the club’s good speedy CFs who can hit. Rajai Davis also qualifies for that category but I don’t think he’s really the sleeper that Morgan (a former high school ice hockey star in Canada) is. Morgan was added to the 40 this year and looks to be in either Altoona or Indianapolis to start the season but yet another .300 season with a bunch of steals could see him rise on that depth chart …

Keep on keeping on…

…with the Phillies and Mariners. That’s who we’re talking about on Tuesday, provided my voice isn’t gone tomorrow. I’m gonna keep this brief since just about everyone in the family here in the Burgh (myself included) is under the weather. So here it is, your moment of zen…oh, wait. I mean, here they are, the Five Faves for the Phillies (me) and the Mariners (Lisa). Join us tomorrow on MLB Radio at 12 p.m. ET, won’t you?

Phillies
Michael Bourn, OF
Carlos Carrasco, RHP
JA Happ. LHP
Greg Golson, OF
Matt Maloney, LHP

Mariners

Adam Jones, OF
Jeff Clement, C
Brandon Morrow, RHP
Ryan Feierabend, LHP
Tony Butler, LHP

BRRRRR …

Sitting here posting while looking out my window at the neighborhood covered in ice (whoops, there goes another one!), it just serves to fan the flames under those mental images of everyone in Arizona or Florida for spring training!

So let’s get right to it, my Five Faves for the Oakland A’s (Phoenix! Cactus! Warmth!) and Jonathan’s picks for the Mets (Port St. Lucie, Fla.! Palm trees! Ocean breezes! Warmth!)

OAKLAND:

OF Travis Buck

1B Daric Barton

C Kurt Suzuki

RP Marcus McBeth

OF Matt Sulentic

For me, I had Sulentic pretty much even with another intriguing ’06 draftee, OF Jermaine Mitchell … Sulentic is the power-hitting HS kid and Mitchell the speedy college guy … I like ‘em both but this is Five Faves, not Super Six, so I kind of flipped a mental coin.

METS:

P Philip Humber

P Mike Pelfrey

OF Fernando Martinez

OF Carlos Gomez

P Alay Soler

Tune in Friday!!!

Bronx Bombers and Brew Crew

That’s right, we’ve got the Yankees and Brewers coming up on Around the Minors. And here’s our Five Faves for each:

Yankees (courtesy of Lisa)

P Philip
Hughes
OF Jose
Tabata
P Humberto
Sanchez
P Dellin
Betances
OF Brett Gardner

Notes from Lisa: 2006 draftees P Ian Kennedy and Joba
Chamberlain were on the bubble, but Kennedy signed too late to show anything and Chamberlain barely pitched (though he looked good in Hawaii). While Betances was drafted a tad lower than
them and is out of high school, I love his upside the most. Both college guys
could and probably should be on the list next year but with the depth they have,
those two and P Tyler Clippard were the bubble guys that landed on the far side
of 5.

Geek update

I’ll have the Five Faves for the Brewers and the Yankees, the two organizations we’ll be covering in tomorrow’s Around the Minors show, but I wanted to update eveyrone on how the ol’ MWBL Draft went.

As expected, Vandy junior David Price went No. 1. I got Tim Lincecum at No. 3. Over the course of the draft, a college sophomore was taken (guys have to make it to the big leagues in 3 years or you lose them), as was a Cuban who has yet to defect. You can see all the draft results right here. Twelve of the 24 picks in the first round were of the Minor League/amateur variety. Here’s who they were, with what pick they went with:

1. David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
3. Tim Lincedu, RHP, Giants
4. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers
5. Will Inman, RHP, Brewers
6. Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays
7. Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies
9. Franklin Morales, LHP, Rockies
11. Humberto Sanchez, RHP, Yankees
13. Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
19. Chuck Lofgren, LHP, Indians
21. John Danks, LHP, White Sox
23. Carlos Carrasco, LHP, Phillies

There were a couple of other young guys who made their big league debuts last year who were taken in the first round as well, like Pat Neshek, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Boof Bonser and Jonathan Sanchez. For my part, I also got prospects Jeff Niemann, Kevin Slowey and Hank Conger to go along with Lincecum. Here’s hoping my pitching develops into what I hope it will…

Be back soon.

Rabbit, rabbit!

I’m sorry, but regular ATM listeners will understand that I HAD to use that title for this post … I do believe it refers back to my VERY FIRST ATM show.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here trying to think warm thoughts, so what better way to do that than to present to you Jonathan’s Five Faves for the Florida Marlins?

P Chris Volstad

P Gaby Hernandez

1B Gaby Sanchez

P Jose Garcia

And he’s calling it a tossup for now (I’m sure he’ll have it narrowed down by Friday morning, or maybe not) between Ps Sean West and Aaron Thompson for the fifth slot … and given the depth of pitching in this system, I would have been equally hard-pressed to make the call myself.

On the American League side, I have the task of coming up with the Five Faves for the Kansas City Royals and here’s my call:

3B Alex Gordon

P Luke Hochevar

OF Billy Butler

OF Chris Lubanski

P Tyler Lumsden

While the Royals picked up Lumsden last season from the White Sox in the deal for closer Mike McDougal, the other four are the club’s last four No. 1 picks. I can’t think offhand of another organization whose top four prospects are also their last four top draft picks …

So now that February has arrived, we can now look at our desk calendars or wall calendars and see "pitchers and catchers report" without having to flip forward. I don’t know about you, but that makes me very very very happy. And did I mention I was happy about that?

I still have to wait a month to flip the page and see my spring training travel dates appear in BIG RED LETTERS but hey, I can be patient. Especially since we have a full month’s worth of ATM shows bringing in the farm directors to talk preview …

Hope you all are enjoying this series as much as we are enjoying doing it!

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