July 2008

Fermer LaPorta

That’s right, it looks like we can just about offically “close the door” on the C.C. Sabathia trade. The biggest part of the trade, as you know by now is Matt LaPorta, whom the Brewers took in the first round of the 2007 draft, No. 7 overall. Young fastballer Robert Bryson and Triple-A lefty Zach Jackson are also part of the deal, with a player-to-be-named to be, well, named later on. Many feel it could be Taylor Green, who’s currently in Brevard County.

LaPorta, who should be able to stay in the outfield according to a scout I spoke with today, has put up tremendous power and run production numbers the moment he entered pro ball. Over his first 114 games, LaPorta has homered 32 times in 417 at-bats. He’s driven in 97 runs in that span, slugging .609 and posting a 1.002 OPS.

I was curious how his numbers compared to others in the same time span. So my good friends in MLBAM’s stats department (thank you, Cory Schwartz) ran them for me. Starting from July 30, 2007 — the date of LaPorta’s pro debut — and going through yesterday’s action, here’s where LaPorta stacks up in a number of offensive categories:<p>

Home Runs

Chris Davis, 35
Matt LaPorta, 32
Greg Halman, 32
Mike Hessman, 31
Dallas McPherson, 31

RBIs

Jesus Guzman, 107
John Lindsay, 103
Chris Davis, 98
Matt LaPorta, 97
Darin Holcomb, 94

Total Bases

Mat Gamel, 281
Jesus Guzman, 273
Chris Davis, 266
John Lindsay, 255
Matt LaPorta, 254

Using a minimum of 300 plate appearances, LaPorta also is eighth in SLG (.609) and 15th in OPS (1.009). So much for the tough transition to the pro game. While at first it seemed like he might be headed up to Triple-A Buffalo, he’s going to at least start his Indians career in Double-A Akron. He’s slated to be a part of the U.S. Team at the Futures Game on Sunday in Yankee Stadium and that shouldn’t change. What could is him going to Beijing for the Olympics. If the Indians want to keep him around for a possible callup, they may decide they want him stateside rather than in China for a couple of weeks.

Find the Minor Leaguer: J.J. Johnson

A while back, someone posted a comment asking about a pair of former Cubs farmhands. One was Adam Greenberg and my colleague Lisa Winston was kind enough to point out he’s back in organized ball playing for Arkansas (Double-A, Angels) in the Texas League.

johnson_jj.jpg

The other was J.J. Johnson and as the commenter said, “Last I heard J.J. was with the Phillies and then released,” asking where he might be now. Johnson, for the uninformed, is an outfielder taken by the Cubs out of a Georgia high school in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. He made it as high as Daytona (Class A Advanced) in 2004. He didn’t play in 2005, but then signed on with the Phillies in 2006, starting in Clearwater and making it up to Double-A Reading for nine games. But then he was out of affiliated baseball.

He signed with the Reno Silver Sox in the independent Golden League (managed now, by the way, by former big leaguer Jeffrey Leonard). But he played in just seven games, suffering an eye injury when a foul ball he hit struck him in the face. The Silver Sox site had the following description of the incident:

Johnson was batting on a 0-1 count and swung on a high fastball.
The ball caught the end of Johnson’s bat and redirected the ball
hitting Johnson in the face. Johnson was escorted off the field by
paramedics, but walked off under his own power. Johnson received a
broken nose and a broken sinus bone in his face.

He had surgery on the bone under his eye (the injury occurred on June 15, 2007) and he never returned to the lineup. He’s no longer on Reno’s roster and he doesn’t appear to be playing anywhere at the moment. If I find more information, I will pass it along.

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