December 2008

Last-minute holiday gift ideas

That’s right, it’s time for B3 to become a bit of a Home Shopping Network for the Minor League fans out there. I know there are those of you who haven’t gotten the perfect gift for the prospect geek in your life. So here are some last-minute suggestions and using B3’s contacts, we were able to russle up some discounts for you along the way:

Minor League Baseball Analyst 2009
analyst.jpgBy Deric McKamey
Description: Deric McKamey’s Minor League Baseball Analyst is the first book to
fully integrate sabermetrics and scouting. A long-term Bill James
disciple and graduate of Major League Baseball’s scout school, Deric
provides his unique brand of analysis for over 1000 minor leaguers.
Price: $19.95
B3 Discount: At the end of the ordering process, type in mlba57 into the coupon code field and get $1 off.

Baseball America 2009 Prospect Handbook

BA_handbook.JPGBy Baseball America writers
Description:

The 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook is
the definitive annual reference title on prospects. This book profiles the top
30 prospects in each organization–900 prospect reviews in all! Also, the
handbook ranks each organization’s talent and provides in-depth analysis of
every team’s draft. Whether you want to win your fantasy league or just study
your team’s future stars, the Baseball America 2009 Prospect Handbook is your
guide to success.
Price: $30.95

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook — 2009

sethspeaks.jpgBy Seth Stohs, SethSpeaks.net
Description: The author of the the fine Twins blog, SethSpeaks.net offers this in-depth look at the Twins system. In an organization that values scouting and player development as much as any, Stohs offers up over 175 profiles of Minor Leaguers who could make a contribution in the Twin Cities in the future.
Price: Normally $12.95 for the paperback and $8.00 for the download, the price has been dropped by $1 for B3 readers for this week.

The Newberg Report — 2009 bound edition
newberg.jpgBy Jamey Newberg
Description:
Newberg’s tenth annual book on the Texas Rangers. It’s approximately 300 pages
commemorating the 2008 season. …  includes the recognition of a farm system that had risen in one
year from one of baseball’s worst to one of its best and was poised to
start supplying the big club with the first of several waves of
high-end talent.Included are rankings and analysis of more than 70 Rangers prospects, broken down by position.
Price: $25.00
B3 Discount: When you pay via PayPal, write that you came from B3 to order the book in the comments section and Newberg will refund $1.

Enjoy — if people out there know of other good prospect books, let me know and I can add them in future posts.

 

  


Looking back at the Rule 5ers, Part 3

I love a good series, don’t you? Here’s the next installment of what we’ve had to say about those taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft.

darren_oday.jpg15. Darren O’Day (Taken by Mets from Angels)
2007 review (Climbed the Ladder):

The University of Florida product split the season between Rancho Cucamonga and Arkansas and was strong at both stops. He finished 7-4 with an organization-best 21 saves and held opponents to a .195 average. He went on to post a 2.38 ERA and two saves over 11 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. O’Day has some size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) but isn’t overwhelming, striking out 48 over 53 1/3 innings during the regular season.

2008 preview (Under the Radar):

A non-drafted free agent signed in 2006 after his senior year at the University of Florida, O’Day has in many ways already exceeded expectations. The submariner reached Double-A in his first full season and led the Angels organization with 21 saves. He complements a 90-mph fastball with an excellent slider that moves down in the zone. He has excellent command and has proven to be unflappable in tough situations. He’s working to improve on getting lefties out by sinking his breaking ball away from them or back-dooring his slider. He may not close at the next level, but it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll be able to help a big-league ‘pen soon.

eduardo_morlan.jpg16. Eduardo Morlan (Taken by Brewers from Rays)
2007 preview (Climbing the Ladder/Others to Watch):

RHP Eduardo Morlan, a 2004 third-rounder out of high school in Miami, has seen time both starting and relieving. Just 21 years old, he has a fine fastball and good breaking stuff. At Beloit last year he posted a 2.29 ERA in 28 games, 18 starts, striking out 125 in 106 innings.

2007 review (Climbed the Ladder):
Note: Morlan was traded from the Twins to the Rays following the 2007 season in the Matt Garza-for-Delmon Young swap.

The club’s third-round pick in 2004 out of high school, the Cuban-born Morlan had seen time starting and relieving, but was moved to the back of the bullpen in 2007. He combined for 18 saves between Fort Myers and New Britain, striking out 92 and walking just 17 in 65 2/3 innings while posting a 3.15 ERA. Morlan added 12 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in the Arizona Fall League.

robert_mosebach.jpg17. Robert Mosebach (Taken by Phillies from Angels)
2006 preview (2005 Draft Recap/Best of the rest):

RHP Bobby Mosebach (9) was 3-3 with 4.57 ERA at Orem, striking out 52 batters in 65 innings.
(I know, not exactly insightful, but wanted to let you know he had been mentioned the spring following his draft)

derek_rodriguez.jpg18. Derek Rodriguez (Taken by Rays from White Sox)
2006 preview (2005 Draft Recap/Best of the rest):

RHP Derek Rodriguez (13) had a 3.82 ERA, 36 K’s and just seven walks in 35 1/3 IP for Bristol.
(Rodriguez was actually a 14th round pick. Hey, we all make mistakes sometimes)

That’s it for the Major League phase. I’ll do some digging on those Minor League phasers (set the phasers to stun?) and report  back tomorrow.

Looking back at the Rule 5ers, Part 2

We got through three picks from the Major League phase yesterday. Let’s tackle a few more:

ben_copeland.jpg10. Ben Copeland (Taken by A’s from Giants)
2005 Review (Draft Recap):

Copeland was the 132nd player taken in the draft — but the first taken by the Giants, who lost their first three choices as compensation for signing free agents Armando Benitez, Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel. The 21-year-old outfielder from the University of Pittsburgh clocked a successful month in the Arizona League, hitting .436 in his last 10 games there to give him a .333 average. He carried that hot hitting into the Northwest League, where left-handed swinger batted .306 with 13 extra-base hits (five doubles, four triples and four home runs) and 23 RBIs in 29 games. Overall, the fourth-round pick hit .315 with five homers, 37 RBIs and four stolen bases in five attempts.

2006 Preview (2005 Draft Recap):

The Giants’ first selection in the draft didn’t come until the 132nd pick in the fourth round but that didn’t seem to stop them from landing a productive player. Copeland led the Big East — not traditionally a college baseball powerhouse conference — in many offensive categories and set several school records at Pittsburgh. He hit five homers and drove in 37 runs in 181 at-bats last season, splitting time between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He’s a slightly better than average outfielder, committing two errors in 67 chances overall, having played mostly center field in the Arizona League before spending the bulk of his time in left upon his promotion. “He did an excellent job for us last year and he knows how to hit,” Jack Hiatt said. “In fact, recently in an intra-squad game [Noah] Lowry came over to pitch from the Major League team and Ben got the only two hits off him. He’s a good-looking kid.”

2006 review:

Copeland had a productive sophomore season in the pros, hitting .281
with five homers and 71 RBIs for Augusta of the South Atlantic League.
The Giants didn’t have a pick until the 132nd selection in ’05, and
they seemed to have made a wise one in Copeland, who was a dominating
force at The University of Pittsburgh.

2007 preview (Climbing the Ladder — Others to Watch):

Finally, on this loaded San Jose team, look for what Hiatt calls “the trifecta” of outfield prospects who move up together from Augusta: Ben Copeland, Michael Mooney and Antoan Richardson. That trio really defines the depth Hiatt talks about. Copeland, the club’s first pick in 2005 (fourth round), hit .281 with 71 RBIs for the GreenJackets in 2006, Mooney batted .287 with 74 RBIs and the speedy Richardson .292 with 66 steals and was caught just nine times.

james_skelton.jpg11. James Skelton (Taken by Diamondbacks from Tigers)
2008 preview (10 Spot):

Ivan Rodriguez will be 37 this year, while Vance Wilson turns 35. That both of Detroit’s catchers are getting a bit long in the tooth can only help Skelton, who is the best of a thin crop of catching prospects. Skelton was a 14th-round selection in 2004 and has snaked his way through the Tigers’ system, hitting .309 last year with seven homers and 52 RBIs at West Michigan. He hit .306 over the past two seasons (he spent 2006 in the New York-Penn League).

His seven errors put him in the middle of the pack among Midwest League catchers, but Skelton did throw out 43 percent of those attempting to steal, the third-highest percentage on the circuit. He worked well with the young pitchers the Whitecaps had last season and should continue to grow with them this year at Lakeland.

2008 Review (Kept Their Footing):

Skelton missed time with a hand injury in June but still managed to hit .303 in 87 games between Lakeland and Erie. He had a wonderful strikeout-to-walk ratio (73-to-83) that contributed to a .456 OBP. He doesn’t have much pop — he had five homers and 34 RBIs — but if he gets on base and scores runs (65 this season), he’ll stick around.)

zachary_kroenke.jpg12. Zachary Kroenke (Taken by Marlins from Yankees)
2005 review (Draft Recap):

After a wild ride with the University of Nebraska in the College World Series, Kroenke joined the Baby Bombers and went 1-1 with a pair of saves and a 2.54 ERA. While he helped Staten Island reach the postseason, he was shut down, as well, because of an injury to his glove hand.   

2006 preview (2005 Draft Recap):

The University of Nebraska product is a lefty with a good arm, and that’s always something worth working with. He’s got some pitch-development work to do and he struggled with command in his brief debut. But the Yankees think there’s a good core there and they’ll try to polish him at either Charleston or Tampa.

Looking back at the Rule 5ers

Got this idea when my esteemed colleague Jason Ratliff found info about Minor League phase selectee Anthony Hatch in an old Blue Jays organization preview. Hmm, I thought, I wonder how many of these guys we’ve written about over the past couple of years in our previews and reviews. Those things are fairly exhaustive, so I figured there was a good chance we’d written about several of these guys over the years. Lisa Winston mentioned one in her recent discussion of Terrell Young over on Got MiLB? It’ll get repeated here. I’ll start with the Major League phase guys and move on from there. It’s interesting (at least to me) to go back and see what we were saying about these guys in years past (Many thanks to another fantastic co-worker, Kristen Zimmerman, for locating the archived previews and reviews).

1. Terrell Young
(Taken by Nationals from the Reds)
terrell_young.jpg2007 preview (Under the Radar section):

The 21-year-old was the Reds’ 10th-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Mississippi. The club has taken things slowly with him and consider him very much a work-in-progress but love his upside. He finished ’06 as a closer at Billings, limiting opponents to a .145 average in 23 1/3 innings as he posted a 2.70 ERA and struck out 32, though his command was an issue with 20 walks. He should start the year in the Dayton bullpen.

“He may have the best arm of the bunch at Dayton,” Terry Reynolds said. “He’s got a real power arm and he can develop a second pitch (either a curve or a slider to be determined) he could really be a guy to watch. He was so overpowering in the closer role that it didn’t matter that he didn’t have a second pitch.”

3. Everth Cabrera (Taken by Padres from Rockies)
everth_cabrera.jpg2008 review (On the Radar):

The switch-hitting middle infielder, who saw 84 games at second and 34 at shortstop at Asheville, led the Minors with 73 steals, the second time in three years a Tourists player has achieved that feat (Eric Young Jr. did it in 2006). He batted .284 in that span.

4. Donnie Veal (Taken by Pirates from Cubs)
2006 preview (2005 draft recap):

Veal is probably used to lofty expectations, as he’s been compared to
Dontrelle Willis sincedonnie_veal.jpg he was in high school. Veal, like Willis, is
very aggressive and has a very extroverted personality. He pitches with
that passion and is very polished for a young hurler coming from a
junior college (Pima Community College). He could join Pawelek as a
nice 1-2 combination in Peoria, though there is a chance the
21-year-old will be pushed up to Daytona.

2007 preview (Climbing the Ladder):

In his first full season, the second-round selection in 2005 has emerged as perhaps the top starting pitching prospect in the organization. Just 22, Veal led the organization in ERA (2.16) and strikeouts (174) between two Class A stops at Peoria and Daytona and limited hitters to a .175 average, best in the Minors.

He throws the best curveball in the system, a fastball in the low 90s, and he is working on a change-up. With an aggressive delivery and personality, he is fun to watch and his numbers improved following a midseason promotion. The Cubs hope to see the same development when they bump him up to the Southern League to start 2007.

“He’s probably the best pitching prospect in the system,” said Oneri Fleita. “All he needs to do is tweak his command. That will come with time, and then you’ll see him quickly. He’s a young lefty with tremendous stuff.”

2007 review:

The young southpaw led all starters in 2006 with a .175 batting average against and posted a 2.16 ERA and 174 strikeouts between two Class A stops. He struggled with consistency in Double-A, going 8-10 with a 4.97 ERA at Tennessee, though his 131 strikeouts was good for a share of the organization lead. With his outstanding curveball and low 90s fastball, the 21-year-old will probably start ’08 back at Double-A but could move up as soon as he shows his stuff again. That shouldn’t take long.

2008 preview (10 Spot):

It was an extremely tough offseason for Veal, who just a few years after losing his mother, lost his father as well. That puts his struggles on the mound during the 2007 season in proper perspective.

Veal had difficulty commanding his pitches for much of the season, walking 73 in 130 1/3 innings. He did strike out 131, showing that the stuff was still very much there. The Cubs don’t want to make this comparison for obvious reasons, but Randy Johnson walked 128 in 140 Double-A innings back in 1987. The Cubs feel that Veal’s stuff — a mid-90s fastball, slider and changeup — combined with a tremendous work ethic should help him overcome his disappointing 2007 season. Time often sorts things out when you’re left-handed and have that kind of an arm. The Cubs didn’t want to add stress to Veal’s spring by bringing him to big-league camp and they’ll likely ease him back with another go-round at Double-A to find out where he is both physically and mentally.

2008 review (Kept Their Footing):

It was Veal’s second go-round in Tennessee, and while the numbers didn’t get appreciably better, he deserves credit for persevering following his father’s death. The southpaw still has outstanding stuff and if he can harness it with better command, he’ll have a very bright future. At age 24, there’s still plenty of time for him to figure it out.

Come back for more Rule 5 stuff tomorrow…

 

You like me, you really really like me

Well, at least a little. Imagine my surprise when, after a long trip home from the Winter Meetings, I see that there’s something called the MLBlogs Top 100. And lo and behold, among the MLB Pro Blogs, B3 has come in at No. 24 (between April 1 and now). It’s sometimes hard to tell how ol’ B3 is doing, but this is proof positive that we’ve got something going here. I was hoping to use the winter to come up with some good blog content and this provides pretty good motivation to do just that. My draft blog, MLB Geeking on the Draft, is kind of dormant these days, but thanks to the draft in June, some showcase reports and the signing deadline (thank you, Pedro Alvarez), it came in at No. 26. Look for news on a possible B3/Geeking merger in 2009.

Kudos to my colleagues and their strong showing. Lisa Winston’s Got MiLB? came in at No. 90 (with a bullet, I think. That one is on the come). And Ben Hill’s Ben’s Biz Blog is doing extremely well at No. 49. Nice job Ben! And while I certainly won’t take credit for them, I do take a certain pride in the fact that 13 AFL blogs finished in the top 100, and those only ran for about seven weeks, October-November. Throw in Brett Wallace’s draft blog making it as well as several other Minors-related blogs ranking well and it’s clear that prospecting blog-style is the way to go!

So expect some great things to come from B3 in the coming weeks. Got to get into the top 20 at least in 2009! Thanks for reading.

No. 1 pick is…

MLB.com has learned that the Washington Nationals will take RHP Terrell Young from the Reds organization with the first pick of the Rule 5 Draft today. Young was a 10th round pick in the 2004 draft. He’s got a big arm who had a very good second half in 2008. He’s very athletic and competitive on the mound and has three above-average pitches.

 Enjoy the draft…

Late night Rule 5 tidbits

Before calling it a night — have to rest up for the big Rule 5 draft in the morning (be sure to check out our broadcast on MLB.com at 8:30 a.m. Vegas time) — I figured I’d throw a couple of interesting names and rumors at you.

There were rumors the Nationals were going to trade the No. 1 pick — with some clubs interested in moving up to take Cardinals reliever Luis Perdomo — but they plan to use it to make their own selection. In fact, don’t be surprised if they take more than one player in the Major League phase. They are at 38 on their 40-man roster, so they have room for two.

Look for the Mariners to take a position player at No. 2, perhaps Yankees shortstop Reegie Corona.

The Padres, picking No. 3, also appear set to make multiple picks. Most feel they are after arms. If that’s the case, they could have an interest in Yankees RHP Ivan Nova. If they decide to go after a position player, they might like stolen-base king Everth Cabrera. Cabrera’s name has been mentioned quite a bit lately and if the Padres want him, they might need to take him with that No. 3 pick.

Look for the Pirates to go with an arm at No. 4 and the Orioles, last I heard, were shopping that No. 5 pick.

Some other names popping up late (some have been mentioned in the past, but were getting some buzz in the lobby late):

James Skelton, C, Tigers
Corey Wiimberley, INF, Rockies
Chuck Lofgren, LHP, Indians

This goes along with Donnie Veal continuing to get some major attention and Jordan Brown also being mentioned…

I’ll try to blog one more time in the a.m., time permitting before the 8:30 a.m. broadcast.
 

A word from Justin Turner

justin_turner.jpgYes, the Ramon Hernandez-Ryan Freel deal was mostly about Matt Wieters. And yes, there were the big-league parts (RH impact hitter to the Reds). But the two Minor Leaguers the Orioles got are not nothing. Neither may be elite players, with Brandon Waring having great raw power and the question of whether he’ll make consistent enough contact as he moves up to reach that power, and Justin Turner being a real “baseball player,” in scouting parlance.

I had the chance to chat with Turner yesterday after the trade was announced. He’s the kind of baseball rat that every winning team needs to have. Whether he’s an every-day second baseman or a utilityman in the future remains to be seen, but he’s definitely the type who will somehow make his way to the big leagues and contribute. Here’s a sampling of what he had to say about the trade, his new organization and leaving his old friends with the Reds.

On the trade:

I was kind of surprised at first.
You never really know when that kind of stuff is going to happen. I’m looking
forward to the opportunity and the change of scenery and hopefully good things
will come of it.”

 

On whether he’ll have a better shot with the O’s, who don’t have as much infield depth as the Reds:

“I haven’t talked to anyone with the
Orioles [front office] there. I have some good friends who are infielders there. There’s Blake
Davis, a shortstop. I played with him for  4 years at [Cal State Fullerton]. Scott Moore, who
I grew up with, is a third baseman with them. From talking to those guys, it might create a
better opportunity for me. The bottom line is I’ll still have to go out there
and play and perform. I’d like to think that if I have a good year, no matter
what organization I’m with, I’d get a chance to reach the big
leagues.”

On possibly playing a utility
role:

You see that more and more, guys
playing all over the field. It definitely helps your chances of staying up there
as a utility guy. I’d like to stick at second base and be a second baseman, but
if that doesn’t work out, I’d be more than happy to be a utility guy and help
out that way.”

On ending his relationship with the
Reds, especially his double-play partner Chris
Valaika:

“It’s definitely going to be tough
and it’s going to be a change. Chris was one of the guys I contacted first when
I heard the news. He’s excited for me and happy for me. It does kind of stink to
be separated from him. We’ve played together for three years. We had a good feel
for each other and we were a good combo up the middle. I guess that’s the
business of baseball. I wish him the best of luck and just look at this as a new
opportunity.”

The real deal on the Freel deal

Sure, the Orioles are excited to have Ryan Freel on the team and they probably think Justin Turner and Brandon Waring have futures as well. But one of the most interesting things about these trades in general is how they can impact — positively or negatively — the prospects who were in the organization prevoiusly.

What makes this specific deal more intriguing is that the decision-makers listed that very concept as the main reason for the trade. At the press conference officially announcing the trade, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said flat out that the trading of Ramon Hernandez to the Reds was really all about Matt Wieters.

How’s that for refreshingly honest?

Can you remember a time when something like that, regardless of how obvious it is to everyone, is put out in the open like that from the get-go? MacPhail stated plainly that Wieters will be ready to contribute at some point in 2009 — don’t be surprised if the O’s “Evan Longoria” him by having him start out in Triple-A for a brief time — and that when Wieters does get called up, they are going to want him to play. Sharing time was not something Hernandez would want to do and it could possibly impede with Wieters’ development.

So kudos all around to the Orioles. For making room for their best prospect — and one of the best prospects in the game — allowing him to reach the big leagues when he’s ready. And kudos to them for admitting it so freely. Things are looking up for the O’s with some of the talent they have (just look at all those names in the Top 50) and making sure they can get there with out obstacles will be a big reason why they will start being much more competitive in the AL East in the future.

The dirt on Guillermo Moscoso

Still trying to find out some information on Carlos Melo, the other pitcher in the Gerald Laird dealThumbnail image for moscoso.jpg. For now, here’s some details on the 25-year-old right-hander Guillermo Moscoso:

Shoulder surgery in 2005 set him back; threw just 171 innings from 2005-2007 combined. Missed time in 2008 with shoulder soreness and finished with 86 2/3 IP. Fastball is average to occasionally above-average and it jumps out of his hand. Key is deception in delivery makes it harder to pick up. Has good downward tilt on his curve, but needs to make sure he stays on top of it. Throws changeup as well to give him three usable pitches.

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