June 2010

PSP, Part II

PSP, if you missed yesterday’s post, stands for Post-Strasburg Pitching in the Minors. Yesterday, I ran through the pitching prospects who were in the 1-25 range of MLB.com’s preseason Top 50 prospects list. Today, let’s take a gander at those in the 26-50 range and how they’ve fared to date:

28. Casey Kelly, RHP, Red Sox: He’s 20, focusing on pitching full-time for the first time and in Double-A. He’s got a 4.28 ERA and .292 BAA for the year, but if his first two June starts are any indication, he’s getting locked in. He’s given up one run over 11 innings in those outings, yielding just nine hits and two walks while striking out nine.

34. Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves: The Colombian is just 19 and already earned a promotion from Class A Rome to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. And he’s performed well there, as well. Combined, Teheran has a 1.39 ERA, a .201 BAA, 82 K’s and just 15 BB in 71 1/3 IP. He’s fourth in the Minors in ERA and 13th in strikeouts.

39. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers: After 14 dominant relief appearances across two levels, Scheppers made his first start on June 13. Overally, he’s got a 1.32 ERA and .153 BAA, striking out 48 and walking 10 over 34 combined innings.

41. Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals: The idea was that Crow would be a quick to the big leagues type and the 2009 first-rounder was sent straight to Double-A to make his official pro debut. He’s scuffled a bit, with a 5.66 ERA over 13 starts, as Texas League hitters have hit .294 against him. He’s walked 33 and struck out 44 over 70 innings of work. His best stat is his GO/AO, which is a robust 3.85 and leads all Minor League pitchers.

42. Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers:  Detroit’s first-rounder in 2009, Turner missed some time early with a forearm issue, but seems just fine now, with a 3.18 ERA over three June outings. Overall, the big-armed high school product has a 3.72 ERA in the Class A Midwest League, with 49 strikeouts and just eight walks in 48 1/3 IP. The league is hitting .238 against the right-hander.

43. Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals: Only an elbow issue, from which he recently returned, has slowed the lefty. Still, Montgomery is already in Double-A at age 20 and has a combined 2.01 ERA over 53 2/3 IP. In that time, he’s struck out 58 and walked only 14 while holding all hitters to a .200 batting average against.

47. Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Phillies:  Part of the haul the Phils got from the Mariners when they sent Cliff Lee there, Aumont seems to be going backwards. The 21-year-old Canadian began the year in Double-A, but after 11 starts of a 7.49 ERA, .284 BAA and 38 walks/38 K’s over 49 2/3 IP, he got sent down to Class A Adv Clearwater.In his first outing there, in relief, he gave up five earned runs on three hits and four walks in two-thirds of an inning.

49. Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers: The 21-year-old is showing the ability to make hitters in the California League swing and miss — he’s got 60 K’s in 57 IP. But he’s also walked 34. The league, typically a hitting-friendly one, is hitting .252 against him, yet he’s allowed just one home run. The command clearly has impacted him as he’s carrying a 5.68 ERA with him to date.

Post-Strasburg Pitching

Or PSP, if you like abbreviations.

Obviously, all the buzz about Stepthen Strasburg in the big leagues is warranted. And it’s not likely to die down any time soon. But now that he’s up with the big club, the question is: Who’s left in the Minors?

Any time Strasburg took the mound in a Minor League ballpark, it was the top news of the day. Now that he’s gone, it’s not like there are no pitching prospects worth talking about. Quite the contrary. They may not have the Q rating of the 2009 No. 1 overall pick, but they’re pretty good in their own right. You might see some of them take the mound out west in the All-Star Futures Game, to be held on Sunday, July 11 in Anaheim.

There are a couple of ways to look at the top pitching prospects in the Minors. First, we’ll start with the MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list from the start of the year. Strasburg was No. 2 on that list. Here’s how the others are faring (excluding ones already in the big leagues):

10. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants: Concerns over his drop in velocity have dissipated as he tweaked his mechanics and looks more like the guy who everyone was all excited about to begin with. His June hasn’t been as thrilling, but he went 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in six May starts. Overall, he’s a 20-year-old who’s gone 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA in the Triple-A PCL.

17. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays: The key to the Roy Halladay trade, Drabek has spent the year in the Double-A Eastern League and has a 7-5 record to go along with a 3.24 ERA, .238 batting average against. He’s ninth in the EL in ERA and tied for the lead in K’s.

18. Martin Perez, LHP Rangers: The young lefty has scuffled a bit in the Double-A Texas League. He has struck out more than a batter per inning, but his 5.32 ERA over 11 starts is a result of less-than-stellar command (27 BB in 45 2/3 IP) and being somewhat hittable (.280 BAA). He missed some time with a fingernail injury and just came back last Sunday.

20. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays:  Can’t complain about how he’s pitched this year. He’s tied for the International League lead with eight wins, is second in K’s with 84 (in 81 2/3 IP) and is fourth with his 2.42 ERA. A good argument could be made that he’s been the most consistent non-Stras ptiching prospect in baseball this year.

21. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks: Following Tommy John surgery, Parker is throwing from a mound and seems to be ahead of schedule.

23. Christian Friedrich,  LHP, Rockies: The lefty was slowed earlier this year, missing nearly a month with elbow soreness, but the good news is he’s been taking his regular turn in the Double-A Tulsa rotation. The bad news is he hasn’t been particularly effective and is currently 0-4 with a 4.89 ERA and .302 batting average against.

That’s 1-25. Stay tuned for 26-50 tomorrow…

Indians have not signed LeVon Washington

There were early reports that the Indians and second-round pick LeVon Washington had agreed to a deal worth $1.55 million. Since that initial report, there’s been a little backtracking, with a report via Twitter saying that the deal “wasn’t quite done” and correctly pointing out that no over-slot deal would be announced this early. Those kinds of things dont’ happen until August.

The Indians, however, say it’s nowhere close to being “not quite done,” that Cleveland hasn’t even spoken with Washington at this point.

“We absolutely do not have any agreements across the board,” said Indians assistant general manager John Mirabelli. “Our approach was based on ability and talent. We selected what we thought was the best player. Hopefully, we will get many of them signed.”

Last-ditch mock

With an ever-changing board, here’s my last, last mock of the first round:

1    WAS – Bryce Harper
2    PIT – Jameson Taillon
3    BAL – Manny Machado
4    KC – Chris Sale
5    CLE – Drew Pomeranz
6    ARI – Barret Loux
7    NYM – Zack Cox
8    HOU – Michael Choice
9    SD – Karsten Whitson
10    OAK – Justin O’Conner
11    TOR – Josh Sale
12    CIN – Christian Colon
13    CWS – Brandon Workman
14    MIL – Deck McGuire
15    TEX – Jake Skole
16    CHC – Matt Harvey
17    TB – Bryce Brentz
18    LAA – Dylan Covey
19    HOU – Delino DeShields
20    BOS – Kolbrin Vitek
21    MIN – Alex Wimmers
22    TEX – Asher Wojciechowski 
23    FLA – Aaron Sanchez
24    SF – Stetson Allie
25    STL -  Yasmani Grandal
26    COL – Nick Castellanos
27    PHI – Jesse Biddle
28    LAD – Kellin Deglan
29    LAA – Peter Tago
30    LAA – Ryan Golden
31    TB – Michael Kvasnicka
32    NYY – Ryan LaMarre  

Draft tidbits: Grandal, Aviles and more

Hey guys —

Sitting at the airport, waiting to fly to NY for the big event on Monday. Lots of news out there — things slowly starting to take shape — but still a ton of volatility. Keep checking back here as I’ll try to blgo with what I’m hearing. My last mock of the first round will go live Monday morning, and I’ll be sure to throw updates right up until the first pick is made.

So, here’s the latest buzz.

The biggest comes from a report, courtesy of Frankie Piliere over at Fanhouse, stating that the Royals and Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal had agreed to a pre-draft deal. I’ve been told that the report is not true, though the Royals technically can’t announce something like that now anyway. I do hear, at the very least, that Grandal is the front-runner to go at No. 4.

That leaves Cleveland with a choice of lefties in Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale, or college bats like Michael Choice or Zack Cox. Right now, I’m thinking it will be Sale, but still some time to go on that one.

A little further down the road, Robbie Aviles, the high-school righty in the New York area, has an elbow injury. It was reported on LoHud.com that he came out of his last start with a sore elbow, had an MRI and x-rays and was diagnosed with a partial ligament tear. Speaking with a scout in the area, I’ve been told is indeed a partial tear and flexor sprain. As of right now, they are not recommending surgery. Aviles could have gone as high as the supplemental first round or second round. We’ll have to see if it impacts his stock much. As it’s pointed out in the LoHud story, teams aren’t too scared off by elbow issues these days because of the success rate in recovery. Even if he needed Tommy John surgery, that may not hurt where he goes too much.

Much, much more to come…

Harper ejection

By now, many of you know about Bryce Harper being ejected from his Junior College World Series game on Wednesday night.

In case you didn’t, here’s what happened in a nutshell: Harper took an outside pitch with two strikes in the fifth inning in his game against top-seeded San Jacinto. He thought it was outside, the umpire thought otherwise and rang him up on a called strike three. As Harper returned to the dugout, he drew a line in the dirt to show the umpire where he thought the pitch was. By all accounts, he didn’t say a word. The gesture, however, earned him an ejection, one that will force him to sit for the next two days. (He was ejected once earlier this year, and the JUCO rules state that two ejections= two-game suspension). There’s a chance that Harper’s junior college career is over, unless CSN can make a run and get to a title game on Saturday.

The immediate reaction, of course, has been to see this as another part in the history of Bryce Harper being a hot-head, or that it points to hsi bad makeup. I’m not saying he should’ve done it — arguing balls and strikes is always a risk — but it seems to me that the umpire had a fairly quick trigger, especially in a JUCO World Series game. Don’t believe me? Well, thanks to the beauty of YouTube, you can see for yourself.

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