I’m still playing with the name of what I hope will be a semi-regular feature. While I tend to write about the prospect side of the Minors and leave the scene-setting to my esteemed colleague Benjamin Hill over on Ben’s Biz Blog, but one of the things I do like about this job is the ability to learn about and sometimes be lucky enough to go to some great minor league towns.
All the prospecting doesn’t always leave me time to travel to every city and ballpark I’d like to go to, so I figured we could do some virtual travelling together from time to time. To kick things off, I thought we’d head to the Left Coast and the Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants (You can follow them on twitter @fresnogrizzlies).
Obviously, I can’t ignore the prospect side of things and as everyone knows, the Giants have actively promoted from within, with many of today’s Major Leaguers (injured and healthy) stopping in Fresno. Here’s a list of the current roster and when they at least stopped by in Fresno:
Tim Lincecum ’07
Brian Wilson ’05 ’06 ’07
Buster Posey ’09 ’10
Andres Torres ’09 ’11
Matt Cain ’05
Jonathan Sanchez ’06 ’07
Madison Bumgarner ’10
Sergio Romo ’08 ’09
Travis Ishikawa ’08 ’11
Nate Schierholtz ’07 ’08 ’09
Santiago Casilla ’10
Darren Ford ’10 ’11
Emmanuel Burriss ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11
Ryan Rohlinger ’09 ’10 ’11
Ryan Vogelsong ’01 ’11 (yes, you read that right)
Mark DeRosa ’10 ’11
Pat Burrell ’10
Alex Hinshaw ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11
Dan Runzler ’09 ’10
Freddy Sanchez ’09 ’10
Eli Whiteside ’08 ’09
Brandon Belt ’11
In terms of current prospects, Thomas Neal, No. 7 on the Giants’ Top 10, is currently hitting .319. Brett Pill may not be as big of a “prospect” but the guy is tied for eighth in the PCL in RBIs with 55. The Grizzlies have two pitchers — Shane Loux and Andrew Kown — in the Top 10 in ERA. Mark Kroon is second in saves.
Now, while most wouldn’t plan a trip west just to go to Fresno, the beauty of it is how centrally located it is. Head to a Grizzlies game, then fill up on raisins (yes, it’s the raisin capital of the world — I would love it if the city’s slogan was “There’s shrinkage!”). After that, you can head south and get to Los Angeles in three and a half hours. Head north to Yosemite National Park (an hour and a half) or all the way to San Francisco (three hours).
Chukchansi Park opened in 2002, an HOK-built stadium that seats 12,500 and is a terrific park in the Pacific Coast League. Great views of the skyline and the mountains can be had by all.
If you want me to focus on a minor league town near you, let me know and I’ll try to do so!
Same deal, different league. So far we’ve covered: The Midwest League and the South Atlantic League. Now it’s time to move up a level, to the Class A Advanced Florida State League. There have been some changes along the way, but I’ll include anyone who’s been named, either originally or as a replacement. Here goes:
Jarred Cosart, Phillies — No. 43 on Top 50; No. 3 on Phillies Top 10
Trevor May, Phillies — No. 7 on Phillies Top 10
Deck McGuire, Blue Jays — No. 5 on Blue Jays Top 10
Scooter Gennett, Brewers — No. 10 on 2B Top 10; No. 4 on Brewers Top 10
Sebastian Valle, Phillies (injured) — No. 10 on C Top 10; No. 5 on Phillies Top 10
Matt Harvey, Mets — No. 2 on Mets Top 10
Alex Colome, Rays — No. 9 on Rays Top 10
Joe Kelly, Cardinals — No. 8 on Cardinals Top 10
Hak-Ju Lee, Rays — No. 7 on Rays Top 10
Final tally: North 21, South 8
A couple of days ago, I took a closer look at the South Atlantic League All-Star Game rosters, cross-refrencing with the Top 50 prospects list and the Top 10s by organization and position, all of which can be found on Prospect Watch. Today, we’ll look at the Class A Midwest League in the same manner.
Jake Marisnick, Blue Jays: No. 9 on Blue Jays Top 10
Yordy Cabrera, A’s: No. 6 on A’s Top 10
Matt Szczur, Cubs: No. 8 on Cubs Top 10
Tyler Thornburg, Brewers: No. 9 on Brewers Top 10
That, believe it or not, is it for the Midwest League. According to my scoring system (5 points for Top 50, 3 for Top 10 by position, 2 for Top 10 by organization), that gives the Western Division a 6-2 advantage. It also shows that the South Atlantic League is a little more robust when it comes to “prospects.”
Next up: Florida State League, which has its All-Star Game this Saturday.
We’re quickly approaching the time of year where the various full-season leagues in the Minors have their respective All-Star breaks. The rosters for those games are often stocked with legitimate prospects, especially at the lower levels. So I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at the rosters and cross-reference it with the Top 50 prospects list, as well as the team and positional Top 10s, all of which can be found over on the Prospect Watch. Today, we’ll take a look at the South Atlantic League, whose All-Star Game will take place on June 21 in Delmarva.
Jameson Taillon, Pirates: No. 13 on Top 50; No. 1 on Pirates Top 10; No. 3 on RHP Top 10
Manny Machado, Orioles: No. 18 on Top 50; No. 1 on Orioles Top 10; No. 1 on SS Top 10
Bryce Harper, Nationals: No. 2 on Top 50; No. 1 on Nationals Top 10; No. 2 on OF Top 10
Trayce Thompson, White Sox: No. 6 on White Sox Top 10
Christian Yelich, Marlins: No. 3 on Marlins Top 10
Jio Mier, Astros: No. 5 on Astros Top 10
Kyle Parker, Rockies: No. 5 on Rockies Top 10
Slade Heathcott, Yankees: No. 8 on Yankees Top 10
Cory Vaughn, Mets: No. 7 on Mets Top 10
Using an oh-so-scientific system of giving 5 points for a Top 50 player; 3 points for a Top 10 position player and 2 points for a Top 10 organizational player, we end up with:
Hmm, not so close on paper in terms of prospect status. So I’ll guesstimate the South will win, 3-2.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Well, first, a quick shout out to Cory Spangenberg, the first first-round pick to sign. The No. 10 overall pick came to terms with the Padres officially on June 10. The next day, No. 29 overall, Joe Panik, signed with the San Francisco Giants. Both first-rounders will begin their pro careers in the short-season Northwest League, which begins its season on Friday, June 17. Spangenberg’s Eugene Emeralds will travel to Panik’s Salem-Keizer Volcanoes June 22-24.
You can keep up with all the Draft signings with MLB.com’s handy-dandy Draft history section, which contains every pick from every Draft. I’ll try to post updates here when I get them.
Now back to the usual Top 50 updates on Mondays. I know it’s been a few weeks, but we’ll stick with the same Player/Pitcher of the Week formats. First, the hitters… and kudos to Mike Moustakas and Dee Gordon for getting call ups to the bigs!
Hitter of the week: Putting the big league debuts aside, it’s hard to look past what No. 1 prospect Mike Trout is doing, isn’t it? Still a teenager, he’s now sixth in the Texas League in average, fifth in OPS and second in steals. Last week, he went 12-for-26, with three triples, one homer, one RBI and five steals in six attempts.
Some notes on pitchers. John Lamb needed Tommy John surgery; Tyler Matzek got demoted; Jordan Lyles made his big-league debut and Shelby Miller got bumped up to Double-A, all since the last time I updated.
Pitcher of the Week: Julio Teheran lowered his Triple-A ERA to 1.91 with a gem on June 9. The young right-hander went eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits while walking none. He struck out 11. He’s got a 0.64 ERA now in two June starts
I know, thrilling title. But what can you do? It fits.
It’s been busy here in Draft-ville, what with the big day coming up on Monday. My latest mock is up on the site now, if you’d like to check it out. I’m sure there will be plenty of changes for the final one coming late Sunday or early Monday.
I’m using that very generic headline because I wanted to use this post just to pass along some tidbits about what’s going on.
First thing to talk about is NCAA Regional play starting tomorrow (Friday). It’s the very last time for the college players to make an impression. Here’s some information of where you can catch some top Draft talent:
Charlottesville: Danny Hultzen will make his final pre-Draft start on Saturday against St. John’s or East Carolina.
Los Angeles: Gerrit Cole goes on Friday against San Francisco. It stands to reason that Trevor Bauer will follow on Saturday against UC Irvine or Fresno State.
Fort Worth: Kyle Winkler, who stepped in as the Friday starter and has excelled, isn’t pitching TCU’s first game of the Regional. That honor goes to Andrew Mitchell, but keep an eye out for Winkler and Matt Purke in later games.
Houston: No top pitchers here, but Anthony Rendon will be in action for Rice. Will his work at second base continue?
Tallahassee: Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin, a polished lefty, will not pitch against Peter O’Brien and Bethune-Cookman on Friday
Clemson: This might be the best Friday matchup in the nation. UConn is sending Matt Barnes to the mound. Coastal Carolina is countering with their ace Anthony Meo, who’s fresh off a conference tournament no-hitter.
Atlanta: Mark Pope starts for Georgia Tech on Friday, but rest assured Jed Bradley will start soon thereafter.
Austin: Sam Stafford may be pitching the opener for Texas on Friday, but don’t fret. Ace Taylor Jungmann will go on Saturday.
Nashville: Vanderbilt has a whole mess of draftable talent, highlighted by ace Sonny Gray, of course. But there’s also 3B Jason Esposito and LHP Grayson Garvin, all of whom should go in the first couple of rounds.
Corvallis: Oregon State lefty Josh Osich, who’s crept into some late first round talk, will start on Saturday against either Georgia or Creighton. And, of course, Andrew Susac will there to add to the first round buzz.
Fullerton: Starting pitching-wise, there are some interesting names, like CSF’s Noe Ramirez, but the guy I’d want to see is Stanford’s Chris Reed, who’s been moving up boards. He’s their closer, but many think he can start at the next level.
Chapel Hill: It seems nearly certain that UNC’s Levi Michael will go in the first round, but where? The team that thinks he can stay at short might be the one to take him. Check out this regional to form your own opinion.
In other news…
- Anthony Rendon’s medical report has recached teams and they are currently reviewing it. No news yet what the report means, but how teams evaluate the information they are given about the Rice third baseman’s shoulder could determine where he goes at the top of the first round.
- Remember my favorite topic, Amir Garrett? Well, it seems like the hoops recruit (St. John’s) who’s at least toying with the idea of pitching instead, threw to live hitters for the first time since he started workouts for scouts. The lefty threw to hitters from the College of Southern Nevada, where Garrett has had his other bullpen sessions. According to one source, he was up to 95 mph and continued to show improvement with his curve and changeup, throwing 55 pitches in total. There are a number of teams who have continued to show interest in Garrett and he might try to squeeze in one more private workout before Draft day. It’s going to take a good bonus to sign him away from basketball, but there are teams that might be willing to meet that price after taking him in the second or third round.
Finally, wanted to share a few things with you. As part of this crazy lead up to the Draft, I get asked to do a fair amount of interviews to talk about it. A variety of markets, different media, so I figured I’d add some links of stuff I’ve been doing. Much of it is from a particular team’s perspective, focusing in on the local market.
Pittsburgh: Pirates Extra Innings on the radio flagship.
Talking Pirates draft with Stan Savran on 970.
I’ve done some stuff in Milwaukee and will be talking in Tampa tomorrow, so I’ll pass along more as I get them.
As I hear things as we get closer, I’ll try to be more active in getting them up here quicky.