April 2011

Draft update: Matt Purke and other injury news

TCU will be issuing a statement today officially clearing lefty Matt Purke to make his way back to the mound, I have learned.

The draft-eligible sophomore who was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009, but chose to go to college instead, had been shut down by a sore left shoulder. He went to see renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews who diagnosed Purke with bursitis.

The plan will be to shut down Purke for now, have him rehab his shoulder and then begin throwing on flat ground, likely next week. The hope is that he’ll be back before conference tournament play — perhaps getting two starts in — and ready to really go full-tilt during the tournament, which begins on May 24.

There’s been a lot of speculation about Purke and his prized left arm for much of the 2011 season. Some scouts felt something wasn’t quite right all season, and there were some people who questioned the validity of reports about a blister shutting Purke down in the early part of the season, thinking perhaps that it was a cover for the shoulder. Someone familiar with the situation assured Purke did indeed have a nasty blister and that his shoulder didn’t bother him until after he returned. It’s possible that the 10 days he had to take off from throwing to let the blister heal contributed to the shoulder issue he’s now dealing with.

How this impacts his Draft status remains to be seen, as shoulders always do make teams wary. If Purke can come back and look like the guy many felt was the top left-hander in the class before the year began, he could regain some of that status.

In other injury news, University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. hurt his wrist diving for a ball in the outfield last Saturday. It now appears the toolsy Bradley will have surgery on the wrist on Friday. Most feel that will end his season, but as Bradley stated on his Twitter account (@JackieBradleyJr) “We will all witness this together. Surgery is Friday so then we will start the calendar. #MiraculousHealing” Bradley is hoping he can prove people wrong and make it back in time for postseason play for the highly-ranked Gamecocks. Bradley hadn’t been hitting all that well, but those who believe in his tools will likely be willing to take him where they originally had him prior to this injury.

On the back fields with… Alex Wimmers

And finally, the last installment of my video interviews with members of the 2010 Draft class, first-round style.

The Twins took Alex Wimmers No. 21 overall in last year’s Draft out of Ohio State and he fits the Minnesota mold in terms of the kind of pitcher it looks for in the Draft — typically college guys who know how to pitch, throw a lot of strikes and command the baseball well.

After signing, Wimmers did get his feet wet professionally last summer, making four starts for Ft. Myers in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. He gave up one run in 15 2/3 IP, a nice way to kick things off. He was back in Ft. Myers, obviously, for Spring Training and got to stay for the start of the FSL season.

Things didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, though. In his 2011 debut, Wimmers walked the first six batters he faced. Of his 28 pitches, only four were strikes. He was charged with three wild pitches and four runs without allowing a hit or retiring a batter. The Twins placed Wimmers on the disbled list with what was called “flu-like symptoms,” but really they were taking him out of the rotation so he could try to re-discover his mechanics. Remember, this is a guy who was a first-rounder largely because of his command… we’re not talking about a power arm here with a history of control problems. Here’s hoping he gets things sorted out before long.

In the meantime, here’s the edited, cleaner version of our Spring Training interview, when he was just coming back from a minor hamstring issue (hmm, I wonder if that threw his mechanics off at all). Click here to watch it.

And for those of you who want the unedited, longer version, watch below. Now that I’m done with the first-rounder series, I’ll try to get more video on here as the season wears on.  Enjoy!

Top 50 Update No. 3

Hello all, I hope everyone enjoyed their respective holidays and perhaps some time off.

No rest for the weary at B3 (actually, I’m not weary, it just seemed like the thing to say). Time for another update of the Top 50 prospects. I guess the big news is Brandon Belt being sent down to Triple-A to work on his swing. So far, so good, as you’ll see. Let’s start with a Top 50 Player and Pitcher of the week, shall we?

Hitter of the Week: Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

Yes, he’s playing in Triple-A Las Vegas, which is a nice place to hit. But I don’t care where you call home, starting a season .425/.468/.712 is just insane. And he’s just 21. This past week, the third baseman had a two-homer game. After going 0-for-4 in his first game of the week, he proceeded to go 11-for-22 (yes, that’s .500) with a double, three homers, five RBIs and two stolen bases. He also committed his sixth error (though it was his only one for the week) as he continues to learn how to play the hot corner. That might be the only reason he’s not getting the call yet.
And here’s all of the hitters to date:

Rank Name Team level avg ab hr rbi sb slg obp
1 Trout, Mike LAA aa 0.283 53 4 9 3 0.566 0.367
3 Harper, Bryce WAS a 0.306 49 3 14 3 0.551 0.414
5 Ackley, Dustin SEA aaa 0.236 72 2 4 4 0.333 0.345
7 Moustakas, Mike KC aaa 0.239 67 2 12 0 0.373 0.311
8 Hosmer, Eric KC aaa 0.358 67 1 9 1 0.463 0.443
9 Montero, Jesus NYY aaa 0.407 59 1 4 0 0.525 0.400
11 Jennings, Desmond TB aaa 0.266 64 2 6 5 0.391 0.413
16 Myers, Wil KC aa 0.261 46 2 8 2 0.435 0.300
17 Freeman, Freddie ATL mlb 0.250 72 3 8 0 0.431 0.349
24 Machado, Manuel BAL a 0.276 58 0 8 1 0.414 0.386
26 Belt, Brandon SF mlb 0.192 52 1 4 2 0.269 0.300
Belt, Brandon aaa 0.429 7 1 4 0 1.000 0.556
28 Lawrie, Brett TOR aaa 0.425 73 4 12 4 0.712 0.468
30 Singleton, Jonathan PHI a+ 0.306 36 1 7 0 0.444 0.419
32 Sanchez, Gary NYY a 0.231 39 1 6 0 0.359 0.279
36 Chisenhall, Lonnie CLE aaa 0.224 58 1 9 0 0.362 0.324
36 Franklin, Nick SEA a+ 0.291 55 1 5 4 0.473 0.409
39 Hicks, Aaron MIN a+ 0.231 52 0 3 0 0.327 0.317
41 Rosario, Wilin COL aa 0.310 42 4 9 0 0.714 0.370
42 Iglesias, Jose BOS aaa 0.216 51 0 4 1 0.216 0.259
44 Gordon, Dee LAD aaa 0.281 64 0 7 8 0.344 0.314
45 Mesoraco, Devin CIN aaa 0.261 46 3 9 0 0.565 0.352
46 Jackson, Brett CHI aa 0.375 56 3 11 6 0.679 0.486
48 Arencibia, J.P. TOR mlb 0.245 53 3 7 0 0.528 0.310
49 Alonso, Yonder CIN aaa 0.278 54 1 2 2 0.389 0.322

Pitcher of the Week: Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers

Michael Pineda certainly gets a shout out for his six innings of shutout ball in the bigs, but this week, we’ll go with the young Rangers lefty who looks like perhaps he’s starting to figure some things out in Double-A. Still just 20, Perez tossed five spotless innings on April 19 in a weather-shortened perfecto. Over his last two starts, he’s allowed no runs while yielding just four hits and two walks while striking out 12. He’s got 15 K’s in 13 innings and a .191 batting average against. Still a small sample size, but the stuff has always been there. Now some think he’s starting to turn a corner, which could be bad news for the AL West.

Now for all of the pitchers…

Rank Name Team level w l era ip h r er hr bb so
2 Hellickson, Jeremy TB mlb 1 2 4.32 25 23 12 12 3 11 20
6 Chapman, Aroldis CIN mlb 1 0 0.00 9.2 3 1 0 0 8 9
10 Teheran, Julio ATL aaa 1 0 1.69 16 12 5 3 0 6 11
12 Drabek, Kyle TOR mlb 1 0 3.00 24 19 9 8 2 15 19
13 Pineda, Michael SEA mlb 3 1 1.78 25.1 18 6 5 0 9 21
14 Montgomery, Mike KC aaa 1 1 3.00 21 16 8 7 1 12 18
15 Turner, Jacob DET aa 0 0 1.83 19.2 13 4 4 1 3 20
19 Britton, Zach BAL mlb 3 1 3.16 25.2 20 9 9 2 10 17
20 Miller, Shelby STL a+ 0 1 2.55 17.2 16 8 5 1 3 28
21 Minor, Mike ATL mlb 0 1 10.38 4.1 7 5 5 0 4 2
21 Minor, Mike aaa 1 0 1.45 18.2 13 4 3 1 5 22
22 Kelly, Casey SD aa 1 0 4.64 21.1 21 12 11 2 7 15
23 Perez, Martin TEX aa 1 0 1.38 13 9 2 2 0 4 15
25 Sale, Chris CWS mlb 2 0 6.23 8.2 11 6 6 2 2 10
27 Moore, Matthew TB aa 0 2 5.89 18.1 21 12 12 5 3 24
29 Parker, Jarrod ARI aa 1 2 12.00 12 16 18 16 3 9 10
31 Lyles, Jordan HOU aaa 1 2 4.71 21 24 11 11 2 5 11
33 Matzek, Tyler COL a+ 0 1 6.97 10.1 10 8 8 0 10 10
34 Lamb, John KC aa 0 1 5.56 11.1 12 7 7 1 8 8
35 Banuelos, Manny NYY aa 0 0 0.00 8 6 1 0 0 3 5
37 Odorizzi, Jake KC a+ 0 0 3.46 13 12 7 5 1 4 20
40 Gibson, Kyle MIN aaa 0 0 3.86 14 13 6 6 3 2 13
43 Scheppers, Tanner TEX aaa 0 0 13.50 2 4 3 3 0 0 3
47 Archer, Christopher TB aa 0 1 6.39 12.2 21 10 9 1 6 12
50 Friedrich, Christian COL aa 1 1 5.63 16 16 11 10 3 6 12

On the back fields with… Jesse Biddle

We head to the back fields of Spring Training to chat with Phillies first-round pick Jesse Biddle. The Eastern PA high school product is a big, strong left-hander who clearly has a maturity that belies his years.

He’s also a great poster boy for why it’s good to sign early. The No. 27 overall pick last June signed very quickly after being taken by his hometown team and he got 43 2/3 innings of professional work under his belt before the 2010 season ended. That served as a great springboard to earning a spot with full-season Lakewood to begin this season.

He’s made two starts as of this post, with mixed results. On April 17, he was part of a pretty good South Atlantic League matchup, facing No. 1 pick Bryce Harper. Hagerstown knocked Biddle around a bit and Harper went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the game.

When I caught up with Biddle, he was getting ready for what will be a very long first full season. We spoke about how to prepare for a 140-game season and what it’s like to put on a uniform for the team he grew up watching. Check out the edited, shorter version of our chat right here.

And for those of you with a little more time on your hands, here’s the long version. After this, I’ve got just one more first-round pick conversation from my time down in Florida.

Draft news: Matt Purke shut down

It’s been fairly widely reported that 2011 Draft prospect and LHP Matt Purke has been shut down with shoulder

Matt Purke will have his shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews.

soreness and will be examined by Dr. James Andrews today. You can read the note in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram right here.

The Draft-eligible sophomore was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009 (No. 14 overall), but turned down a sizable bonus to go to Texas Christian University, knowing he’d be eligible again in two years. As a freshman, Purke went 16-0 for the Horned Frogs, with a 3.02 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings. That led many to think he’d be among the top picks in this June’s Draft, perhaps the top college lefty in the class.

While his numbers this season — 4-1, 1.55 ERA, 47 K’s in 40 2/3 IP — certainly aren’t bad, scouts who know Purke well had felt that he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was a year ago. Even before news of this shoulder issue came out, Purke’s draft stock had been slipping a bit. He began the season late, with a blister keeping him from getting going initially. He began pitching on Sundays, then moved up to Saturday, with TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle evidently preferring to keep an effective Kyle Winkler as his Friday starter.

While some felt something wasn’t quite right with him all season — could he have been pitching hurt all year? — it really was evident he wasn’t himself on Saturday at San Diego State. Purke went just four innings before being removed from the game and reports from scouts were that the southpaw’s velocity had dropped drastically, down to 84-86 mph.  A scout in attendance said he was at around 91-92 mph the first two innings, then didn’t throw one over 87 mph after that and clearly seemed to be laboring. Keep in mind that Purke came out of high school two years ago sitting 92-93 mph and topping out at 95 mph, so it was obvious something was amiss.

We’ll see what Dr. Andrews has to say. Schlossnagle said he hoped he might be back for conference tournament action (May 24-28), but there’s no question his Draft stock will continue to fall unless he can come back and show he’s completely healthy. But with the concern about shoulder injuries, it might be very difficult for Purke to get back to anyplace close to where some saw him before the 2011 season began.

Top 50 update No. 2

I apologize for the slight delay on my weekly update on how the Top 50 is performing. I’m a little limited on time today (Happy Passover to those who are celebrating), so I’m just going to give a statistical update (thanks to the MLB.com stat team for help with this) for this week. Here’s how the pitchers have fared (year-to-date stats):

Rank Name Team level w l era ip h r er hr bb so
2 Hellickson, Jeremy TB mlb 1 2 4.50 18 17 9 9 2 9 14
6 Chapman, Aroldis CIN mlb 0 0 0.00 6.1 2 1 0 0 5 7
10 Teheran, Julio ATL aaa 0 0 1.86 9.2 5 2 2 0 6 6
12 Drabek, Kyle TOR mlb 1 0 1.93 18.2 13 5 4 1 11 17
13 Pineda, Michael SEA mlb 2 1 2.33 19.1 13 6 5 0 7 16
14 Montgomery, Mike KC aaa 1 1 3.00 15 10 6 5 0 10 14
15 Turner, Jacob DET aa 0 0 1.83 19.2 13 4 4 1 3 20
18 Taillon, Jameson Extended ST
19 Britton, Zach BAL mlb 2 1 2.75 19.2 15 6 6 1 7 14
20 Miller, Shelby STL a+ 0 1 1.69 10.2 10 5 2 0 2 20
21 Minor, Mike ATL aaa 0 0 1.50 12 10 3 2 1 2 14
Minor, Mike mlb 0 1 10.38 4.1 7 5 5 0 4 2
22 Kelly, Casey SD aa 0 0 3.48 10.1 8 5 4 0 2 3
23 Perez, Martin TEX aa 0 0 2.25 8 9 2 2 0 4 12
25 Sale, Chris CWS mlb 2 0 7.36 7.1 11 6 6 2 1 9
27 Moore, Matthew TB aa 0 1 6.75 9.1 12 7 7 2 0 12
29 Parker, Jarrod ARI aa 0 2 18.00 7 13 15 14 3 6 6
31 Lyles, Jordan HOU aaa 0 2 7.07 14 21 11 11 2 4 8
33 Matzek, Tyler COL a+ 0 1 9.95 6.1 7 7 7 0 8 9
34 Lamb, John KC aa 0 0 4.05 6.2 7 3 3 0 7 3
35 Banuelos, Manny NYY aa 0 0 0.00 4 4 0 0 0 1 1
37 Odorizzi, Jake KC a+ 0 0 3.86 7 8 5 3 0 3 10
40 Gibson, Kyle MIN aaa 0 0 5.63 8 12 5 5 2 2 7
43 Scheppers, Tanner TEX aaa 0 0 13.50 2 4 3 3 0 0 3
47 Archer, Christopher TB aa 0 1 4.15 8.2 11 5 4 0 6 7
50 Friedrich, Christian COL aa 1 1 6.55 11 11 9 8 2 4 7

And the hitters…

Rank name Team level avg ab hr rbi bb so sb slg obp
1 Trout, Mike LAA aa 0.318 44 4 9 7 9 3 0.659 0.412
3 Harper, Bryce WAS a 0.231 39 1 7 6 12 2 0.333 0.333
5 Ackley, Dustin SEA aaa 0.213 47 2 2 9 7 3 0.34 0.339
7 Moustakas, Mike KC aaa 0.222 45 1 6 3 9 0 0.311 0.271
8 Hosmer, Eric KC aaa 0.396 48 1 8 4 7 0 0.521 0.442
9 Montero, Jesus NYY aaa 0.452 42 1 3 0 5 0 0.595 0.452
11 Jennings, Desmond TB aaa 0.3 40 2 6 10 11 4 0.475 0.472
16 Myers, Wil KC aa 0.282 39 2 8 3 11 2 0.487 0.326
17 Freeman, Freddie ATL mlb 0.224 49 1 5 6 10 0 0.347 0.321
24 Machado, Manuel BAL a 0.325 40 0 6 7 5 1 0.45 0.429
26 Belt, Brandon SF mlb 0.196 51 1 4 8 12 2 0.275 0.305
28 Lawrie, Brett TOR aaa 0.426 47 1 7 3 10 2 0.66 0.481
30 Singleton, Jonathan PHI a+ 0.273 22 0 2 5 9 0 0.318 0.429
32 Sanchez, Gary NYY a 0.238 21 1 2 1 6 0 0.476 0.273
36 Chisenhall, Lonnie CLE aaa 0.2 40 1 8 7 8 0 0.4 0.327
38 Franklin, Nick SEA a+ 0.333 39 1 4 5 8 3 0.538 0.422
39 Hicks, Aaron MIN a+ 0.257 35 0 3 6 5 0 0.343 0.357
41 Rosario, Wilin COL aa 0.276 29 2 7 3 3 0 0.655 0.344
42 Iglesias, Jose BOS aaa 0.25 32 0 2 2 7 1 0.25 0.314
44 Gordon, Dee LAD aaa 0.298 47 0 5 2 13 6 0.383 0.333
45 Mesoraco, Devin CIN aaa 0.303 33 3 9 4 10 0 0.697 0.368
46 Jackson, Brett CHI aa 0.395 38 1 7 9 8 5 0.579 0.5
48 Arencibia, J.P. TOR mlb 0.286 42 2 6 4 11 0 0.571 0.348
49 Alonso, Yonder CIN aaa 0.237 38 0 0 3 8 1 0.263 0.293

On the back fields with… Cito Culver

Back to my riveting series of conversations with 2010 first-round picks. Today, we go to the Yankees’ system and chat with somewhat surprising first-rounder Cito Culver. Taken No. 32 overall out of the upstate New York high school scene, Culver is a toolsy shortstop who signed quickly and managed to get 203 at-bats in last summer.

When I caught up with Culver, we talked about the work he was getting in during Spring Training, the daily grind he was adjusting to, getting out of the Northeast weather and his opportunity to work out with his idol, Derek Jeter.

As always, you can watch the cleaned up, edited and shorter version of the conversation here.
But if you want more with the Yankee prospect who is currently in Extended Spring Training waiting for an assignment later this season, you can watch the “director’s cut” below.

On the back fields with… Deck McGuire

Here’s the second installment of my new video series, sharing the conversations I had with Minor Leaguers during Spring Training. Right now, we’re featuring 2010 first-round picks. We’ll stay in the American League East, this time with Toronto Blue Jays’ first-rounder Deck McGuire. The No. 11 overall pick (and No. 7 on the Blue Jays Top 10), the Georgia Tech right-hander didn’t pitch last summer, so he’s making his pro debut right now. The Jays sent him straight to the Class A Advanced Florida State League, where he’s appeared in two games. The first was a four-inning shutout relief appearance (don’t worry, he’s a starter — the Jays just piggy-backed him), the second was a three-run, five-hit over 4 2/3 IP performance. He’s struck out 10 and walked three in 8 2/3 total innings.

Like I did with Manny Machado, you have two options. You can watch the shortened, edited version of the McGuire interview right here — sort of a Cliff’s Notes version.

Or, if you want the full, raw video (where you get a better sense of McGuire’s outstanding personality), you can watch below.

OMG: Toronto Blue Jays

The last, and final OMG (One More Guy). I mean, like OMG, I can’t believe this never-ending series is done.

But I digress. Here’s the Blue Jays’ Top 10. And here’s OMG from their system:

Jacob Marisnick is currently playing in the Midwest League

Jacob Marisnick, OF: It’s a testament to how far the Blue Jays’ system has come that Marisnick wasn’t in my Top 10. Some others had him there (BA had him at No. 10, though that list was produced before Brett Lawrie came aboard), but a couple of years ago, a player like this would have likely ranked much higher.

The 2009 third-rounder is a terrific athlete who made his pro debut a year ago after signing at the deadline back in ’09. He has the chance to have all five tools going on the field. He can play center field for right now, but he might end up being a qualitiy right fielder, with the bat and strong throwing arm to fit there.

While it might take him a while — he’s continuing to work on refining his hitting skills — he has the potential to hit for good power, run well and play a good outfield. He got a full-season assignment and had gotten off to a solid start with Lansing.

On the back fields… with Manny Machado

Welcome to a new series here on B3, something to break things up and bring a little multimedia to the blog.

When I was in Florida for Spring Training, I was able to spend a good amount of time trolling around Minor League facilities and collecting interviews with Minor Leaguers. The interviews either have or will be used for future stories.

Case in point: The story I did about the 2010 Draft class starting its first full year (read it here). Some of the video was included with the story. But I thought it’d be a nice little feature to roll out the interviews here so people could  see all of them.

I’m going to do two things. I’m going to post the nice, edited version that the fine folks in our multimedia department were kind enough to make look as professional as possible (no small task, given my flipcam amateurishness). Then I’ll also post the longer, raw interview. That way you can choose if you want to watch the shorter version or the “director’s cut.”

So lets start with my visit to the Orioles’ Minor League facility in Sarasota, Fla., where I had the chance to chat with No. 3 overall pick Manny Machado (off to a solid start with Delmarva, by the way).  Here’s the edited version of the interview.

And now, here’s the world premiere of the unedited, raw version of the interview. Hope you enjoy it.

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