November 2009

The Aaron Heilman deal: Prospects

Aaron Heilman may have been the known quantity that changed teams today, but the Diamondbacks did send two Minor League players to the Cubs for the right-hander. Here’s some more information on the pair:

maine.jpgScott Maine, LHP: Taken in sixth round of the 2007 Draft of the University of Miami, Maine projects as a lefty reliever or specialist. He pitched at two levels in 2009, finishing with a 2.90 ERA and 61 K’s in 62 IP. For his career, he’s got a 3.29 ERA with a 134 K’s in 120 1/3 IP.

In some ways, the 24-year-old hasn’t lived up to the potential he once flashed in high school. He had Tommy John surgery early in his amateur career and never turned into the lefty ace some thought he’d be. That being said, he could have a future role. His fastball can run up to 93-94 mph and he comes from a pretty tough angle for left-handed hitters. He’s got a lower arm slot that creates some deception. His secondary stuff is is a work in progress, but the arm strength from the left side has some value.

Ryne White, 1B: White just completed his first full season of pro ball after being selected bywhite.jpg Arizona in the fourth round of the 2008 Draft. An accomplished and advanced college hitter out of Purdue, White spent the season with Visalia in the Class Advanced California League, finishing the year at .266/.371/.356. He’s always shown an ability to control the strike zone and draw some walks, but he hasn’t hit for much power thus far in his pro career (career .389 SLG). There are those who feel the 23-year-old will hit for power going forward, at least as a left-handed platoon type. He’s kind of stocky, at 5-11, 205 lbs. At the very least, the Cubs are getting a decent organizational guy who has the chance to be a Matt Stairs type of hitter.

Final AFL Joe Niekro Foundation update

Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween weekend. While we were out picking up candy on Saturday, Arizona Fall League pitchers were collecting K’s for one last day as part of Aneurysm Awareness Week.

The Arizona Fall League was teaming up with the Joe Niekro Foundation for a great
fundraiser/awareness-raiser last week. Any pitcher from one of the
seven organizations Joe Niekro pitched for who strikes out a batter
this week helps raise money for aneurysm awareness and research. Four
sponsors agreed to donate $36 (Niekro’s number during his playing
days) per strikeout. That’s $144 per K.

The participating pitchers saved the best for last, racking up 17 K’s on Saturday, the most for any one day this week. Here’s how it broke down:

Steve Hirschfeld, Twins (Solar Sox) — 2 K
James Russell, Cubs (Solar Sox) — 1 K
Andrew Oliver, Tigers (Javelinas) — 1 K
Thad Weber, Tigers (Javelinas) — 1 K
Evan Englebrook, Astros (Saguaros) — 1 K
Brandon Gomes, Padres (Saguaros) — 2 K
Craig Kimbrel, Braves (Saguaros) — 2 K
Jeff Lyman, Braves (Saguaros) — 3 K
Zach Kroenke, Yankees (Rafters) — 4 K
Day total: 17 K x $144 per K = $2448
Grand total: 77 K= $11,088

Keep in mind, these are unofficial numbers and the league will be sure to confirm the amount. Whatever it is, it was a great week for a wonderful cause. If you watch MLB Network’s broadcast of the Rising Stars Showcase on Saturday, Nov. 7, you might be able to see Natalie Niekro on hand for the check ceremony.

And she might be able to celebrate more than just the $11,000+ from the fundraiser. Several teams, when they found out about the week’s events, agreed to step up and make a donation in honor of their pitchers performing in the Fall League. The Cubs, Astros and Yankees all said they would make a donation, particularly if their pitchers struck out the most batters this week. Details to come on just what’s being done — and if other teams agree to join in. Here’s how the standings finished:

Yankees — 15 K
Tigers — 15 K
Astros — 10 K
Braves — 10 K
Cubs — 9 K
Twins — 9 K
Padres — 9 K

And, in case you were curious. Here were the individual leaders:

Robbie Weinhardt, Tigers — 7 K
Zach Kroenke, Yankees — 6 K
Andrew Oliver, Tigers — 5 K
8 pitchers tied with 4

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