April 2012

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

So much to read these days prospect-wise, it’s hard to know where to start.

Yes, that does read like the beginning of a promotional piece. So lets promote:

In case you didn’t see it, we now have a Top 20 international amateur prospect list on Prospect Watch. Big shout out to my MLB.com colleague Jesse Sanchez (follow him on Twitter at @JesseSanchezMLB for doing the heavy lifting on that, not to mention a terrific story featuring No. 1 prospect Gustavo Cabrera.

We’ve also started a weekly Prospect Watch notebook. Edition No. 2 was posted today with stuff from myself and Mr. Sanchez on, in no particular order: DiDi Gregorius, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Skipworth, Evan Reed, Will Middlebrooks, Jonathan Singleton, Danny Hultzen, Jose Fernandez, Yasmani Grandal, Casey Kelly, Austin Hedges, Humberto Arteaga and much, much more! It’s about as jam-packed as a notebook can be with prospect info.

There are also a couple of new blogs that are definitely worth checking out. The Futurists is written by bloggers/fans/prospect geeks (that’s a complimentary term). It’s been a very active community writing and discussing all sorts of prospecty things.

Then there’s We the Prospects. That’s a blog written by prospects themselves about their experiences during the 2012 season. It’s just getting started with three players introducing themselves so far: the Brewers’ Nick Ramirez, the Diamondbacks’ Adam Eaton and the Reds’ Tucker Barnhart. Keep checking on that one for updates from that trio as well as other Minor Leaguers.

I leave you with this statistical tidbit:

To date, there are just two pitchers who qualify for an ERA title in the Minors who have an ERA of 0.00. They are Matt Barnes of the Red Sox and Felipe Rivero of the Rays. There are 15 pitchers who have yet to allow a hit in the Minor Leagues so far. None of them have thrown more than four innings, with one big exception: Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy, who has gone 13 hitless innings to start his professional career.

Oh, and keep an eye out for the 2012 Draft section to launch next week.

The Draft order is out! Woo-hoo!

There’s something about the official release of the Draft order that gets the blood pumping, doesn’t it?

OK, maybe that’s overselling, but it always signifies to me that Draft season is really, truly upon us (Draft season really begins the day after the Draft ends in June, but you know what I mean).

Every year, the Draft brings with it a good number of story lines. But this year has the added intrigue of the new system as dictated by the new agreement that was collectively bargained. Just how will the bonus pools will impact how teams do business remains to be seen, with no one really knowing how it’s going to go.

There are the usual interesting tidbits about who is picking where, who has the most picks (Padres, Blue Jays, Cardinals have six in the first two rounds). But what about the teams that don’t have many picks at all. The Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for example, will have a wait on their hands before they get to make their first selection.

The Tigers, who are likely getting used to not picking until late (), don’t go until pick No. 91, close to the end of the second round. But that might seem early to the Angels, who’s first turn  comes at pick No. 114, in the third round (thank you, Mr. Pujols and Mr. Wilson).

If you think that’s really late, maybe some kind of record, think again. The Angels would come in at No. 4 on the “latest initial pick” list. Here’s the top 16, thanks to the fine folks at the Commissioner’s Office.

1)      San Francisco – 132 in 2005
2)      Tampa Bay – 132 in 1998
3)      Seattle – 116 in 2000
4)     L.A. Angels — 114 in 2012
5)      Houston – 111 in 2007
6)      NY Yankees – 105 in 1988
7)      Arizona – 103 in 1998
8)      Boston – 102 in 1978
9)      St. Louis – 102 in 2002
10)    NY Yankees – 99 in 1980
11)     Baltimore – 99 in 1985
12)    Kansas City – 98 in 1990
13)    NY Yankees – 93 in 1983
14)    Seattle – 93 in 2004
15)    L.A. Dodgers – 91 in 1991
16)   Detroit – 91 in 2012

A successful Rule 5?

At the conclusion of last December’s Rule 5 Draft, there was a considerable lack of buzz. And it wasn’t just because all everyone wanted to talk about was Albert Pujols signing with the Angels.

It was, by all accounts, a fairly lackluster Major League phase of the draft. Or, at the very least, it was a brief one, with just 12 players selected. There’s been talk about how the extra year teams now have (compared to the past) to decide whether to protect a player on the 40-man roster has made it much more difficult to find real hidden talent. Teams are doing a better and better job of making good decisions in that regard, so there were only a dozen guys taken this past year and the chance to find impact talent seems more unlikely.

But if you want to look at percentages (and this is baseball, so why wouldn’t we?), the 2011 Rule 5 Draft is looking like a really good one. Without looking — no peeking now — who can guess how many of the 12 players taken in December have been returned to their original teams? Keep in mind that it’s typically very difficult for a Rule 5 player to stick. Make your mental guesses now…

Did any of you guess 1? That’s it. Just 1 of the 12 is back with his original team and that was the No. 2 pick, Terry Doyle, who was sent by the Twins back to the White Sox. Doyle is now starting in Triple-A Charlotte. The other 11 players have stayed in some capacity. No. 11 pick Brett Lorin isn’t in the big leagues, but the Diamondbacks worked out a deal with the Pirates so they can keep him. He’s now pitching on a very deep Double-A Mobile staff. There are four guys on the disabled list, which enables teams longer to have to make a choice. And there are six on Major League rosters making contributions. Marwin Gonzalez is getting consistent playing time with the Astros. Here’s the complete list and what their status is, with the understanding that what happens the rest of the way, particularly with the injured guys, will go a long way toward determing just how successful this draft was.

Pick Current Org Level Note
HOU: Rhiner Cruz, RHP, Buffalo (NYM) HOU MLB
MIN: Terry Doyle, RHP, Charlotte (CWS) CWS AAA
SEA: Lucas Luetge, LHP, Nashville (MIL) SEA MLB
BAL: Ryan Flaherty, 2B, Iowa (CHC) BAL MLB
KC: Cesar Cabral, LHP, Pawtucket (BOS) NYY DL (traded by KC to NYY)
CHC: Lendy Castillo, RHP, Lehigh Valley (PHI) CHC MLB
PIT: Gustavo Nunez, SS, Toledo (DET) PIT DL 60-day
ATL: Robert Fish, LHP, Salt Lake (LAA) ATL DL
STL: Erik Komatsu, OF, Syracuse (WAS) STL MLB
BOS: Marwin Gonzalez, SS, Iowa (CHC) HOU MLB (traded by BOS to HOU)
ARI: Brett Lorin, RHP, Indianapolis (PIT) ARI AA
NYY: Brad Meyers, RHP, Syracuse (WAS) NYY DL

Dylan Bundy is Really Good, not Matt Hobgood

It certainly is a mistake to read too much into the first few games of a season or a player’s career. But it’s hard to ignore what Dylan Bundy (follow him on Twitter @Dylan_Bundy) has done right out of the gate here in 2012.

The No. 1o overall prospect and No. 2 on the Orioles’ Top 20 has made just two appearances at three innings apiece. But it’s hard to find anyone else who’s begun a career in more exciting fashion than what Bundy has done with his first six professional innings.

Dylan Bundy has been perfect so far during his pro debut.

Bundy, the No. 4 pick in last year’s Draft (Matt Hobgood, btw, was the No. 5 pick overall, by the Orioles, in 2009) has faced 18 batters in those six innings and retired all 18. Not a hit, nary a baserunner to be found. Of those 18 outs, 12 have come by way of the strikeout. In total, he’s thrown only 14 pitches.

Ok, that last stat I made up. But come on, it’s hard not to be impressed, right? Yes, Bundy had a reputation of being an advanced high school guy, one who might move faster than  most prep arms. But you think Orioles fans were excited about him before the year started? If he keeps this up, they’ll become apoplectic. People ask if he’s good enough to make it to the big leagues this year. That’s not going to happen, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll stay too long in the South Atlantic League if this continues. The Orioles will — and should — be patient, but something tells me he’s going to push them pretty hard.

(Editor’s note: Check out a recent blog post on our new prospect blog, The Futurists, about the Bundy Hype.)

It got us thinking (us being myself and MLB.com colleague Jason Ratliff) about past high school phenoms coming out of the Draft. We had a theory that there were few, if any, high school pitchers who began their first full season of pro ball in as dominating a fashion as Bundy has. We couldn’t go all the way back — we don’t have game-by-game information in the Minors prior to 1999 (I was curious to see what Dwight Gooden did in his first 2 outings. In his first pro season, his only one in the Minors, he struck out 300. He also won 19 games while throwing 191 innings and completing 10 games — I guess monitoring pitch counts wasn’t such a big deal in 1983. Oh, he also walked 112). So starting with the 1999 Draft, here’s a partial list of high school pitchers taken in the top 10 of the Draft who got off to solid, if not quite Bundy-esque starts the following season. Archie Bradley, the fellow Oklahoman from last year’s Draft, is trying to keep up. Zack Greinke, who made his full-season debut in the Class A Advanced Carolina League, is the one who comes closest in my book.

1999 Draft

Josh Beckett (No. 2, Marlins): 9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 12 K
Bobby Bradley (No. 8, Pirates): 11 IP, 8 H, 3 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 21 K

2000 Draft

Mike Stodolka (No. 4, Royals): 10 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

2002 Draft

Zack Greinke (No. 6, Royals): 11 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K (in Carolina League)

2003 Draft

John Danks (No. 9, Rangers): 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 12 K

2006 Draft

Clayton Kershaw (No. 7, Dodgers): 7 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 9 BB, 9 K

2007 Draft

Madison Bumgarner (No. 10, Giants): 8 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 10 K

2010 Draft

Jameson Taillon (No. 2, Pirates): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

2011 Draft

Archie Bradley (No. 7, Diamondbacks): 11 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 11 K

Getting this 2012 season cranking

So… where were we?

The 2012 season is upon us and there’s almost too much going on.  We’ve been busying updating all the blurbs on Prospect Watch to reflect assignments to teams, injuries, other news. We will try to be vigilant on keeping things updated and dynamic as the season progresses.

But there’s more than just Prospect Watch updates going on. There’s a new blog written by prospect-crazy fans/writers called The Futurists. I highly recommend you check it often. We have many contributors signed up, blogging about a wide spectrum of prospect-related issues. Read it and get involved — leave comments as we really want it to be an interactive experience.

Coming soon is another blog, one written by the prospects themselves. It’s called We the Prospects and we’re working on getting prospects across several levels and organizations to contributed. Stay tuned for when that one gets going full-tilt.

There’s a lot more in the works:

  • International amateur Top 20 prospects
  • 2012 Draft Top 100 prospects
  • Weekly Prospect Watch notebook

I’ll be sure to update all when each is up and running. Trying the polls function out here, so please, weigh in on this week’s question:

Finally, I was looking at stuff I did during Spring Training and I realized I never posted my complete interview with Pirates prospect Josh Bell. It went with this story about him starting his first full season.

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