April 2009

Thursday: Statistical projection

Now that’s a headline that grabs you, doesn’t it… zzzzzz

But it can be fun as the first month of the season comes to a close. And I do it with today’s featured game in mind:

Game of the Day

Memphis Redbirds at Iowa Cubs, 8 p.m. ET
MiLB.TV | Gameday Audio: Iowa | Memphis

I always like when you get a good pitcher facing a red-hot hitter to see who wins the battle that particular day. In this tilt, you’ve got Cards’ pitching prospect Clayton Mortensen (1.47 ERA — good for fifth in the PCL — .161 BAA in three starts) trying to stop I-Cubs force Jake Fox, who leads the league in just about everything, including all three Triple Crown categories. He’s got five homers in his last five games, giving him 12 for the season, leading all of the Minors by a big margin.

This is where the projecting of stats gets fun. Fox is hitting .446 with those 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 19 games. If he keeps up this pace for the entire season with Iowa, he’ll hit about 88 homers and drive in 224 runs. I don’t have the information in front of me, but I’m pretty sure those would be records.

Obviously, this is unlikely to happen. But a guy can dream about Fox and about…

  • Darin Mastroianni in the Blue Jays system (Dunedin), who will steal 116 bases this season.
  • Mike Hessman in Toledo, who’s going to strike out 272 times in 2009.
  • Akron’s Vinny Pestano, who will rack up 63 saves.
  • Jason Knapp and his 272 strikeouts for Lakewood.
  • Kasey Kiker and the 51 or so sore hitters he’s going to plunk this season.

I could do this for hours, but you get the point. Yes, I know, I’m a geek. But at least I’m willing to admit it.

Draft Aft: Luke Bailey possibly headed for surgery?

One of the strengths in this year’s draft class is the crop of high school catchers. That groupbailey_lucas.jpg may be taking a bit of a hit.

I’ve learned that Luke Bailey, one of the better of the prep backstops in the class, out of Troup County High School in LaGrange, Georgia, has hurt his elbow. He’s going to see elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday and word was that he’s got a tear of the UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament) in his right elbow.

It’s an injury suffered during his time on the mound, not behind the plate, and it seems like he might require Tommy John surgery to correct the problem. More will undoubtedly come out after his visit with Dr. Andrews. It obviously remains to be seen if he’ll end up honoring his commitment to Auburn, perhaps red-shirting for a year, or if a team will want to take a chance and draft him late and let him rehab the elbow under its watch.

More as it unfolds.

Update (5:15 p.m. ET): ESPN.com (Insider subscription needed) was reporting that Bailey will indeed have Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. Andrews, on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday: Hit streaks

Hey all. Those two matchups yesterday turned out pretty well, didn’t they? Bryan Augenstein beat Aaron Poreda, 2-0, in the kind of duel you hoped for. Casey Kelly finally gave up a run (two earned, to be exact), but pitched well enough to win his third game, as Greenville beat Savannah and Jeffrey Kaplan, 4-3.

What about today? No real jump out at you kind of pitching matchups, so we’ll take a different approach…

Game of the Day

Tampa at Lakeland, 7 p.m. ET

OK, so what’s so special about this game? It’s not even on Gameday Audio, so what’s the deal, right? Well, I have to admit, I love hit streaks. They fascinate me. I’m a big fan of the Minor League version of Beat the Streak (I’d have an eight-game streak going now if it weren’t for Gordon Beckham, of all people). Anyway…

OF Jordan Newton has had a fairly non-descript since the Tigers took him in the sixth round of the 2006 draft out of Western Kentucky, with a .250 average and a difficulty in staying healthy. But, he does have a hit streak going. He’s had it going all season, starting in West Michigan and extending to his first two games in Lakeland. It goes back further than that, to the end of the 2008 season. It started on August 17, 2008 and it now stands at 25 games.

I know, it’s not exactly Joe D, but it’s still pretty cool. Here’s a look at the top hit streaks in Minor League history:

Streaking in the Minors
The longest hitting streaks in Minor League history:
#

69
61
55
50
49
49
46
44
43
43
43
42
42
40
40
38
38
38
37
37
Player

Joe Wilhoit
Joe DiMaggio
Roman Mejias
Otto Pahlman
Jack Ness
Harry Chozen
Johnny Bates
Jim Oglesby
Eddie Marshall
Orlando Moreno
Howie Bedell
Jack Lelivelt
Herbert Chapman
Lorenzo Gray
Frosty Kennedy
Mitch Hilligoss
Paul Owens
Hubert Mason
Joey Cora
Bobby Trevino
Team (League)

Wichita (WL)
San Francisco (PCL)
Waco (BSL)
Danville (III)
Oakland (PCL)
Mobile (SA)
Nashville (SA)
Los Angeles (PCL)
Milwaukee (AA)
Louisville (AA)
Big Spring (LHL)
Rochester (IL)
Gadsden (SEL)
Edmonton (PCL)
Plainview (WT-NM)
Charleston (SAL)
Orleans (PONY)
Binghamton (EL)
Las Vegas (PCL)
El Paso (TL)
Year

1919
1933
1954
1922
1915
1945
1925
1933
1935
1961
1947
1912
1950
1982
1953
2007
1951
1925
1989
1969

Why, you ask, is Hilligoss bolded? Well, the chart comes from this story about Hilligoss’s 2007 streak.Why is this relevant, other than the whole streak things? Well, it just so happens that Hilligoss plays for the Tampa Yankees, Newton’s opponents tonight.

Need other reasons to care about this game? How about Tampa catcher Jesus Montero, who’s coming off a two-homer day and is off to a .371 start as a teenager in the Florida State League? Oh, and by the way, the pitching matchup isn’t bad — it just isn’t marquee. Tampa’s starter Lance Pendleton is 8th in the FSL in ERA (1.62 ERA). Lakeland’s Thad Weber is even better, with a 1.06 ERA, good for fourth.

Minors Monday Madness

OK, not really madness, but I like the alliteration. When you take the initials, you can say, “mmm…” And who doesn’t think that when contemplating Minor League baseball?

Anyway, a couple things I wanted to point out to you. As most of you know, we’ve got a bunch of Minor Leaguers blogging for us this year, 23 in total. We’ve created a nifty (and when I say we, I can’t take any credit whatsoever for it) landing page for one-stop shopping. So go often to see who’s checking in from down on the farm.

It was a small transaction, a blip for most people:

New York Yankees released RHP Humberto Sanchez.

The Yankees needed room on the 40-man roster and, frankly, Sanchez couldn’t stay healthy. He missed a year with Tommy John surgery, then had shoulder problems. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League and even blogged for us. He’s a great guy. Here’s hoping he lands on his feet, gets healthy and gets up on the mound again soon.

Game of the day: I’m going to try to do this as often as I’m able. For today (Monday), it’s a fairly easy pick — Omaha at Oklahoma City in the first game of a doubleheader. At 6:05 p.m. ET, you’ve got Luke Hochevar vs. Neftali Feliz. You can listen to the game on Gameday Audio and you have a choice: Oklahoma City’s broadcasters or the voices of the Omaha Royals. Hochevar has been outstanding back down in Triple-A, while Feliz has been erratic. Still, an electric arm like that isn’t one you should pass up following and a good pitching matchup like this at the upper levels isn’t all that common. So call home and tell the family you’ve got a late meeting (for those of you on the east coast… you west coasters have nothing to worry about) and tune in.

Last thing. This week’s Futures Exchange is now up for your viewing pleasure. Read it now so you’re smarter than everyone else in your fantasy league. Seriously. Guaranteed or your money back.


Minors stuff and some shameless self-promotion

Hey all. Just wanted to pass some info along.

First, the shameless self-promotion. I made my debut on MLB Network last night, talking with Victor Rojas about some of the top prospects in the game. I know all of you saw it already or TiVO’ed it or something, but in case some of you didn’t manage to catch it, you can watch it here.

I got to talk up Derek Holland some, which was nice. Like I said, look for him in that Rangers rotation soon. If you’re a fan of his, then you’ll want to check out what Scott Lucas did in breaking down Holland’s Major League debut. Very cool stuff. Scott does an excellent job covering the very deep Rangers system for the Newberg Report.

Some other things I’ve noticed…

Anyone see what Lonnie Chisenhall did over a couple of games recently? Grand slams in back-to-back games, then another HR in day three? That’s 3 HR and 13 RBIs over three games. That’s a good week for most hitters. He’s got a nine-game hitting streak going. All you historians out there — can anyone tell me the last time any professional hitter, at any level, hit grand slams in back-to-back games like that?

Aaron Poreda showed why the White Sox are excited about him with an 11-K performance for Birmingham last night. It was by far, the best of his three starts. I’m glad the ChiSox sent him down to start, rather than keep him in the bullpen. Maybe he ends up as a reliever long-term, but let him start until he shows he can’t do it anymore.. and we’re far from being at that point.

And finally, from the, umm, dog day afternoon file, I leave you with the unusual story of the first dog to be ejected from a game. Benjamin Hill was all over the story, like flies on…well, you’ll get the idea when you read it.

Thursday tidbits

I know I owe you some more Minor-League related stuff on here, but I have to admit, I’m starting to be more draft-focused these days so that’s where my mind is.

That being said, if you want a fix of me talking about prospects, be sure to tune in to the MLB Network at 6:30 p.m. ET on the MLB Tonight: On-Deck Circle show. Should be a fun time for all.

Draft-wise, the new Draft Report is now up. We’re now up over 60 reports and it’s not even May yet. Color me pleased.

Some good college matchups this weekend:

Georgia at Mississippi (Rich Poythress and Jordan Henry swing the bat)
Okahoma St at Texas A&M (Andrew Oliver vs. Brooks Raley on Friday in a battle of lefties?)
TCU at San Diego St. (Just Strasburg’s next start, who wants to miss that???)

That’s it for now…

Waiting out the rain

Back at PNC Park tonight — I’ve got Marlins duty the next three days. I hear they’re off to a good start. Of course, I’ll only have something to cover if it ever stops raining here. I’m not too confident, but we’ll see.

It does give me some time to hop back on here, though. First, congrats to jfish — I was indeed talking about ASU’s Mike Leake. He had another strong start on Friday. It’ll be interesting to see when he goes and who will look past his size to take the arm.

As for jfish’s questions about Ackley, I haven’t seen him enough or asked about his ability to play second. But arm strength isn’t really a problem. His arm is just fine and will continue to get better as he gets further removed from Tommy John. There isn’t concern about it long-term. It’s just that his speed would play better in center and his bat doesn’t profile as well to first, at least not in terms of power.

Couple of Minors notes… Our first Minor League Week in Review is up. Good stuff by Lisa Winston, so check it out. Fantasy fans can also peruse our second in tandem Futures Exchange , where we were all about the long ball.

OK, game under-way here, believe it or not. I hope to be back soon.

A little draft talk

That’s right, folks. Two posts in the span of three days. Crazy stuff, I tells ya.

I wanted to hop on as I sit in the PNC Park pressbox watching a thrilling Astros-Pirates game to chat with eveyrone on a number of issues.

Let’s talk draft, shall we? Take a look at these two season pitching lines from the college ranks:

Player A: 7-0, 54 1/3 IP, 34 H, 9 ER, 11 BB, 107 K, .177 BAA, 1.49 ERA
Player B: 8-1, 64 1/3 IP, 37 H, 11 ER, 14 BB, 74 K, .170 BAA, 1.53 ERA

You’ll recognize the line for Player A if you’ve been reading my Draft Reports. That’s consensus top talent Stephen Strasburg. But any guesses who Player B is? Send me who you think it is in comments and I’ll reveal the answer tomorrow.

A whlie back, I got a question on here that was draft-related (Jfish, hope you’re reading). The question was about Dustin Ackley of UNC and a little on Robert Stock at USC. Let’s start with Ackley. The question was about what people were saying about his draft value considering the lack of time he’s spent in the outfield. There is no question the guy can hit and he’s one of the more advanced bats in this draft class. The fact that it’s not a great year for hitters will help him without question. He does profile much better as a center fielder because he doesn’t have the kind of power you’d like to see for a first baseman. He’s also got good speed and would be a pretty good outfielder. He’s played out there some. Whether or not it’ll be enough for people to get a good enough read of his skills out there remains to be seen. But keep in mind guys have been drafted highly and moved to another position without ever having played there before (see LaPorta, Matt). At least Ackley has played the outfield before. Will he be a top 5 pick, as was asked? I think it’s possible. He’s not a true impact kind of bat, like say, Pedro Alvarez or Buster Posey, but he’s a pretty safe bet big-league hitter.

As for Stock, I honestly haven’t heard much of anything about him. For a guy who was so highly touted in high school, he does seem to have moved backward. I’m sure someone will take him, but I don’t see him as a top round guy at this point.

What the…?

Every day goes by with me saying, “Today I’m going to blog again.” And then the day ends and it doesn’t happen. Suddenly, it’s April 14 and I realize I haven’t posted a thing in two weeks, making me scratch my head, look at the calendar and say, “What the…?”

Feel free to choose from any of the below excuses:

  1. I’m a lazy sloth.
  2. Passover hit and I didn’t want to have an unleavened post.
  3. I’ve been so busy I don’t know which end is up.
  4. It’s the Bush Administration’s fault.

Personally, I like No. 4 because I’ve grown accustomed to blaming them for everything, but that’s my own personal viewpoint…

At any rate, so much is going on, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m so glad the Minor League season is underway. In the future here, I’m going to try and pick regular B3 Players of the Week, or Stars of Stars or something “here are some real good players”-esque. But I’ll wait for there to be more games in before getting that thing going.

I also know I owe some people some answers to some questions. I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to try to get to that soon. Maybe after I file my taxes (Buying a Stubby Clapp bobblehead off of ebay is deductible, isn’t it?).

For now, I’ll let you know what’s been going on. The Draft Reports have continued weekly. We’re up to 47 reports and counting. So take a look and let me know what you think.

We also have the Futures Exchange up and running and it’s got a slightly new look. Colleague and Got Milb? author Lisa Winston and I are teaming up to give you the best fantasy-related prospect talk you can find. We figured two heads were better than one, right?

OK, great to be back in the saddle here. Here’s hoping I can keep this thing going now that the Minor League season is underway. I’ll leave you with a question to ponder and leave comments about:

Whose early-season performance in the Minors has been the most impressive?

 

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