Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

One more guy: Arizona Diamondbacks

It’s organization preview time again. Monday was day one of a 30-day stretch, with a detailed look at one team’s farm system each day. And this year, for the first time ever on MLB.com, we’ve got ranked Top 10 lists for each team!

Today, we started with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Obviously, each team has way more than 10 prospects, so here on B3, I’m going to try andPollock.jpg write up “one more guy” from each system. It might be the guy who’d be No. 11 or it just might be another intriguing prospect of some sort. Today’s One More Guy (OMG) is…

A.J. Pollock, OF: Pollock, Arizona’s first-round pick from 2009 out of Notre Dame, is on a few other Top 10 lists, and he wasn’t far off of mine. He missed all of 2010 with a fractured elbow suffered in Spring Training a year ago. He did come back in time to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .313/.389/.406 while going a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen-base attempts in 16 games.

He’s got a good bat and a solid approach at the plate. He runs pretty well and his baseball instincts allow his solid-average tools to play up. There are some who see him as a 4th outfielder, rather than an every-day guy, when all is said and done, but without much pro experience under his belt, it’s a little difficult to make that determination just yet. His 2011 season, which could begin in Double-A, will help determine that.

Coming up…

Boy, oh boy, do we have an exciting spring planned. It’s hard to believe it’s already here, with pitchers and catchers reporting very soon.

As you may have noticed, we’re stepping up our prospect coverage. First there were the Top 10 by position stories, then of course the overall Top 50 was unveiled.

And perhaps you saw my story on the next wave of young catchers coming up to the big leagues.

Coming up soon…. Top 10 by organization. That’s right, folks. We’ll have ranked Top 10 lists for all 30 teams coming in the near future, complete with video segments. Look for those starting around the end of the month and throughout March. As always, these lists and the organization previews, are sure to stir up debate which is, after all, the point of doing them.

We’re also going to have a Draft Top 50 prospects list. I’m working on it now.

By the way, if you want to keep track of all this stuff, check out my vanity page, I mean, the place where my stories can be found. Let’s call it the Look at Me page, shall we?

One thing I’m the first to admit I haven’t been so great about covering has been prospects from international markets, especially Latin America. You know, the MIguel Sano types before they sign, or as they sign, with MLB teams. I’m going to try and improve upon that in 2011 and thanks to the Dominican Prospect League, there’s a lot more information at the ready.

Case in point, the Mariners’ recent signing of Gaby Guerrero, Vlad’s nephew. The M’s got him for 400K and the DPL has some good scouting info on the young outfielder, who looks a bit like his uncle when you watch him.

This is what the DPL has to say about Guerrero:

Gaby is 6’2 180lb with an XL frame much like his uncle Vladimir
Guerrero. The resemblance is noticeable from a distance and his tools
have certain similarities. His has arm strength, ability to put the ball
in play and power potential. Gaby’s swing can be long and loopy at
times but he creates leverage and power through the zone with loop. 

Good stuff, no? And they’ve got video to boot. It may not be the most telling piece of film you’ll ever see, but considering we normally don’t get to glimpse these guys at all until they come to the U.S., this is pretty cool stuff.

Take a look. We’re just getting cranking on the 2011 season, prospect style, so keep
checking back in for coverage here, there and everywhere.
 

A quick hello

With this year’s Top 50 prospects list coming on Tuesday (be sure to watch on MLB.com and MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET), life has been a little crazy in B3 land, but I wanted to at least send out a quick hello to everyone who may have been wondering why the blog has been so quiet lately.

Hopefully, you’ve been reading my series on Top 10 prospects by position. In case you haven’t, the Top 10 Outfielders is currently live (and you can find links to the others). RHP and LHP close it out tomorrow.

I’ve also got a story on the 2011 Draft order, now that all Type A free agents have signed. Someone on Twitter asked what the sandwich round will look like. There’s still one Type B FA out there (Felipe Lopez) and the Red Sox will get a comp pick for him whenever he signs. But that said, here’s what the supplemental first-round will look like, I think (some teams with multiple picks, it  might not be precisely the right player associted with the compensatin at this point):

34 Nationals (Adam Dunn)
35 Blue Jays (Scott Downs)
36 Red Sox (Victor Martinez)
37 Rangers (Cliff Lee)
38 Rays (Carl Crawford)
39 Phillies (Jayson Werth)
40 Red Sox (Adrian Beltre)
41 Rays (Grant Balfour)
42 Rays (Rafael Soriano)
43 Diamondbacks (Adam LaRoche)
44 Mets (Pedro Feliciano)
45 Rockies (Octavio Dotel)
46 Blue Jays (John Buck)
47 White Sox (JJ Putz)
48 Padres (Jon Garland)
49 Giants (Juan Uribe)
50 Twins (Orlando Hudson)
51 Yankees (Javier Vazquez)
52 Rays (Randy Choate)
53 Blue Jays (Miguel Olivo)
54 Padres (Kevin Correia)
55 Twins (Jesse Crain)
56 Rays (Joaquin Benoit)
57 Blue Jays (Kevin Gregg)
58 Padres (Yorvit Torrealba)
59 Rays  (Brad Hawpe)
60 Rays (Randy Choate)

Catching up on the prospects

Certainly was a busy day here at the Witner Meetings on Monday. I figured now would be a good time to catch everyone up on the Minor Leaguers who have changed hands so far, as well as other goings on.

* The Marcum-for-Lawrie deal became official yesterday afternoon and here’s my report on what Brett Lawrie brings to the table.

* The Diamondbacks got two power arms for Mark Reynolds. One of them, Kam Mickolio, is sort of a prospect. Here’s what I wrote about him:

kam_mickolio.jpgThe Seattle Mariners deserve credit for a nice scouting find
with the selection of Mickolio in the 18th round of the 2006 Draft.
The 6-foot-9 product of Utah Valley State reached Triple-A in his first full
season, finishing with a 2.68 ERA, better than a strikeout per inning and a
.219 batting average against. It was enough get the attention of the Baltimore Orioles,
who got Mickolio as part of the Erik Bedard trade before the 2008 season. He
got his first taste of the big leagues that year, appearing in nine games out
of the Orioles bullpen and 11 more in 2009. In the Minors, he kept racking up
strikeouts, even with injury issues – including a groin strain – keeping him
off the mound at times. In his Minor League career, Mickolio has a 9.9
strikeout per nine ratio. In his brief big-leageu stings, he’s struck out 9.4
per nine. He also has a 3.7 walks per nine ratio in the Minors (and
5.0 in the big leagues) and that’s where the issues have arisen, though he was
much better during his stint in the Arizona Fall League that recently
concluded. Mickolio is a sinker/slider guy who was clocked up to 96 mph with
his sinking fastball in the AFL. With his size, he gets a good downward angle
and his sinker can be very heavy (He had a 1.91 groundout-to-flyout ratio in
the Minors in 2010). He doesn’t always command his fastball well, not getting down in the zone consistently. At the same time, he doesn’t always throw his slider consistently well. The quality of his breaking ball comes and goes and when he doesn’t have a feel for it, he becomes a one-pitch pitcher.

* It didn’t get that much attention, but the Mariners gave $2.9 million to 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero. Here’s what one Latin American scout had to say about him:
 

Peguero is an average runner and a fair defender. His best
tool is his bat and he profiles as an above-average hitter. He may not be a
shortstop when all is said and done, but could be an offensive second baseman.
He won’t have a ton of home run power, but should hit plenty of doubles along
the way.

* And, in case you missed it, my story on Mike Moustakas coming to the Winter Meetings to get the Joe Bauman Award for topping the Minors in home runs.

Getting started at the Winter Meetings

The Winter Meetings here in beautiful Lake Buena Vista (that’s Orlando for most of you) are just getting going, but things are already rolling on the prospect front. It’s not often that two Top 50 type prospects get dealt in the span of an entire Winter Meetings, but we’ve got two — one confirmed, one likely soon to be — already changing hands.

The first, of course, was Casey Kelly, going from the Red Sox to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. He was No. 28 on MLB.com’s Top 50 prospects list before the 2010 season and while his performance didn’t measure up, scouts still love his stuff. Take a look at the run-down on him and the two other good prospects (Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes) the Padres got for Gonzalez.

And while it’s not official — yet — it certainly appears likely the Brewers will send Brett Lawrie (No. 26 on that Top 50 list) to Toronto for Shuan Marcum at some point in time. His bat remains his best tool. Stay tuned for a run-down on him if/when that thing becomes official.

Much, much more to come from me as the week wears on. Whenever there’s a prospect involved in a trade, I’ll be there to provide analysis. And don’t forget the all-too exciting Rule 5 Draft preview — complete with potential picks — coming on Wednesday.

Today, I’ll get the chance to talk to Royals Mike Moustakas, who’s here to accept the Joe Bauman Award for topping the Minors in home runs in 2010. So stay tuned for that story later on.

Time to hit the ol’ lobby to see what the latest is…

Prospecting in Japan

I haven’t done much in the past regarding international signings. Not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that it seems other things get in the way. Every year I promise myself to do more, particularly with the young amateurs signed from Latin America. We’ll see if I can do better in 2011.

For now, though, I’m venturing east. Far East, that is. Players coming from Japan aren’t really prospects, at least as how I see it. But they are eligible for Rookie of the Year consideration, so I should take a look at them when given the opportunity. So I reached out to some Pacific Rim scouts I know to get some info. on the two Japanese players getting most of the attention these days.

The first is RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. The A’s bid $19.1 million for the rights to negotiate with the right-hand and have until Dec. 7 to try and get something done. There’s been a lot of buzz about the talks, or the lack thereof. Whether or not they have stopped talking, or whether the amounts agent Don Nomura has floated out there are accurate, here’s a breakdown of what Iwakuma might bring to the table should he come to the U.S. in 2011:

Most scouts see Iwakuma as a No. 3 starter in Major League Baseball. He has several pitches in his arsenal and knows how to pitch. One scout reported he throws a fastball, slider, curve and splitter. All are heavy with downward action, making him an extreme ground-ball pitcher when he’s on. The fastball sits in the upper 80s, but touches low 90s. The slider is an average pitch, while one scout said the curve is more of a show-me pitch only. He’s got great command, but nibbles too much. More than one scout made comments about him holding back at times in Japan, while one said that has led some to question his intestinal fortitude on the mound. He does tend to avoid the spotlight, but did pitch very effectively in the World Baseball Classic.

The other player is infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, whom the Twins just bid $5 million for the rights to negotiate with. They have until Dec. 26 to get a deal done. He picked up his third Gold Glove in Japan this year and has said he’d be fine playing shortstop or second if/when he comes over. The 26-year-old just won a batting title by hitting .346 this past season. There have been some obvious parallels made to Ichiro (speedy leadoff type, slap hitter), though Nishioka has had injury issues Ichiro never has. Scouts have mixed feelings about Nishioka:

One scout felt he’d be more like a Kaz Matsui or Kosuke Fukudome type, with not nearly an Ichiro-type impact. He is a plus runner — one scout gave him an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for his speed. That hasn’t always translated to good base-running skills as his base-stealing percentages haven’t been great. He can hit a little from both sides of the plate. He’s more of a slap hitter from the right side, showing some gap power from the left. He’s got a bit of a bail in his swing, one that’s been seen in other Japanese hitters. It causes him to open up his front side too early, so what power he has shown might not translate once he comes here. He hasn’t always shown great focus and attitude, but winning a title this past year might have helped. So might coming here, as it’s long been a goal of his to play in the Majors here. Most feel he’s much better suited to second base than shortstop on an every-day basis. He’s drawn a comparison to a player like Erick Aybar

AFL: Live and in person

I’m here in the greater Phoenix area for the final week of the Arizona Fall League season and to say I’m excited to be here wold be a vast understatement. Any time I get to head to the AFL, I’m like a kid in a candy store.

Gearing toward the championship game, which is looking more and more like a Scottsdale Scorpions-Peoria Javelinas matchup, I’ll be writing about players on those rosters to get everyone ready for the championship game on Saturday, which will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network.

If you’re in the area, come on by and say hello, why dontcha? If you’re not in the area, let me know if you have a specific player you’d like to hear about. If you have any specific questions for any players, you can post them here as well and I’ll do my best to get them answered and post the players’ replies right here on B3.

Today, I’m headed to Peoria to watch the Scorpions play the other Peoria team, the Saguaros. Feature target No. 1: The Giants’ Brandon Belt. So stay tuned for a story on that, and much, much more.

Jesse Flores Memorial All-Star Game

For the fourth year in a row, scouts in Southern California ran an outstanding event, the Jesse Flores Memorial All-Star Game. MLB.com reporter Rhett Bollinger did an outstanding job covering the Draft showcase for us (read the story here).

This year’s edition was held at Mt. San Antonio College, a JUCO in Walnut, Calif. The initial rosters were jam-packed with the top talent in the state of California, but some cancellations did water it down a little bit. Here’s a list of some of the bigger names who ended up not playing on Sunday:

  • Henry Owens — Got shut down this fall, just for rest, as a precaution.
  • Austin Hedges — Has been out the past two weeks with a minor ankle injury
  • Travis Harrison — Has been dealing with a few different minor injuries
  • Daniel Camerana — Had the flue

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some very good players in attendance. And sometimes when some “names” don’t show, it allows others to step up into the spotlight.

Without Owens there, the consensus was that LHP Daniel McCreery stole the show on the mound. The big (6-8) lefty breezed through his inning of work, throwing 89-92 mph fastballs with plenty of movement (one scout described it as a cut fastball). He also threw a very good breaking ball which some think is better than Owens’.

RHP Danny Keller also impressed some. The 6-4 right-hander was throwing 90-94 mph and sat comfortably in the 92-93 mph range. He also showed a pretty good slider.

Catcher  Bryce Mosier was the MVP with two hits — both hard-hit opposite field line drives — a pair of RBI and some strong defense behind the plate. He was strong in BP as well and threw out a runner during the game.

Taylor Sparks was a guy who wasn’t initially selected for the game, but took advantage of the opportunity when others sat out. The 3B is a specimen at 6-3, 195-pounds, runs a pretty good 60 (6.8) and shows average power. He’s average defensively with an OK arm at third. But he was very impressive during BP, showing plus bat speed and hitting line drives consistently.

Other players who stood out to scouts:

Jacob Anderson, OF
Brandon Berry, 1B
Aaron Brown, OF
Dante Flores, SS
Ryan Garvey, OF
Trent Gilbert, 2B
Ryan Keller, RHP
Christian Lopes, SS
Brandon Martin, SS
Riley Moore, C

Final tally for AFL Aneurysm Awareness Week

Saturday was the final day of Brain Aneurysm Awareness Week, the effort held in the Arizona Fall League in conjunction with the Joe Niekro Foundation.

They worked together this year to
raise awareness and funds for research on brain aneurysms. As part of
that, we counted strikeouts from the pitchers in each of the seven
organizations Joe Niekro pitched for over the course of his Major League
career. Natalie Niekro, Joe’s daughter and founder of the foundation is
donating $36 per strikeout for all K’s from those organizations this
week. In addition, the Cubs, Tigers, Twins and Yankees have agreed to
make a similar donation for their pitchers’ strikeouts as well. And Linda Inglett (find out about her at BAHELP.com) is chipping in with $10 per K as well.

(Other ways to get involved: You can always text STRIKEOUT to 20222 to donate $10 to the Joe Niekro Foundation  any time you want. The Joe Niekro Foundation is having their annual big shindig in Houston on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Minute Maid Park. It’s called the Knuckle Ball
(get it?). It’s a fantastic, fancy-shmancy dinner/fund-raiser that
brings in a lot of money to help the Foundation do its very important
work. I’ll be there (hope the ol’ tux still fits). You can be to,
hobnobbing with some of the greats of baseball, bidding on fantastic
auction items, seeing outstanding live entertainment, all while helping a
fantastic charity.)

Lets take a look to see how many K’s were record on Friday and Saturday for this cause:

Friday saw just four strikeouts, courtesy of the Padres’ Alexis Lara and the Braves’ Benino Pruneda. That brought in $112 total, to bring the grand total to $2320.

As for Saturday…it was a much more productive day:

Cubs — 5
Padres — 5
Tigers — 3
Yankees –1
Braves — 1

That’s 15 strikeouts in total. Nice way to finish up. The donation for Saturday is:

$540 (Natalie Niekro’s donation)+$150 (Linda’s donation)+$324 (team donation) = $1014

That’s the highest one-day total for the week! And it brings the overall total of money raised for the Joe Niekro Foundation to: $3334.

The final team standings:

Twins — 9
Cubs — 8
Padres — 8
Tigers — 7
Yankees — 7
Astros — 6
Braves — 3

Thanks to the four teams who agreed to participate, an additional $1116 was added. So next time you run into someone from the Twins Cubs, Tigers or Yankees, thank them for the help. And if you ever meet Linda Inglett, thank her for all that she’s doing for this issue, including the $480 she’s contributing to the Joe Niekro Foundation as a result of this effort.

Day Four of AFL Aneurysm Awareness Week

It was a quiet day on the strikeout front for the Joe Niekro Foundation in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday. Only four strikeouts were recorded for the effort:

Yankees — 3 (Thank you Manny Banuelos)
Tigers — 1

So that’s $328 total ($144 from Natalie Niekro, $144 from the teams participating and $40 from Linda Inglett). That brings the week’s total to: $2136

The overall standings:

Twins — 9
Yankees — 6
Astros — 6
Tigers — 5
Cubs — 3
Padres — 1

As a reminder, the Joe Niekro Foundation
and the Arizona Fall League are working together again this year to
raise awareness and funds for research on brain aneurysms. As part of
that, we’re counting strikeouts from the pitchers in each of the seven
organizations Joe Niekro pitched for over the course of his Major League
career. Natalie Niekro, Joe’s daughter and founder of the foundation is
donating $36 per strikeout for all K’s from those organizations this
week. In addition, the Cubs, Tigers, Twins and Yankees have agreed to
make a similar donation for their pitchers’ strikeouts as well. And Linda Inglett (find out about her at BAHELP.com) is chipping in with $10 per K as well.

You can always text STRIKEOUT to 20222 to donate $10 to the Joe Niekro Foundation  any time you want.

The Joe Niekro Foundation is having their annual big shindig in Houston on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Minute Maid Park. It’s called the Knuckle Ball (get it?). It’s a fantastic, fancy-shmancy dinner/fund-raiser that brings in a lot of money to help the Foundation do its very important work. I’ll be there (hope the ol’ tux still fits). You can be to, hobnobbing with some of the greats of baseball, bidding on fantastic auction items, seeing outstanding live entertainment, all while helping a fantastic charity.
rzep.jpg
While certain hitters keep raking (Johnny Giavotella had two more hits and his hitting .441; Ben Revere‘s three hits brought his average up to .411) and others had huge games on Wednesday (Derek Norris homered and drove in five runs; Conor Gillaspie went 4-for-4 with a pair of solo shots), I’m going to stay on the mound again for Wednesday’s Star of the Day. Any time a pitcher goes six innings in the AFL, it’s worth noting. That’s exactly what Blue Jays lefty Marc Rzepczynski did on Thursday. The 25-year-old has some considerable big-league time over the past two years and he’s pitched well now in three AFL outings, allowing just two earned runs in 14 innings. Hitters have hit him to the tune of a .291 average, but he’s also been an extreme ground-ball pitcher, with a 4.00 GO/AO rate. On Wednesday, he became the first AFL hurler this season to go six innings, allowing one run on six hits and picking up the win for the Javelinas.

In case you missed it, I had a story run the other day on the impact the Giants’ and Rangers’ farm systems have had on the current World Series rosters. I want to go back a little further in time, mostly because it’s rare I get the opportunity to show how smart we can be around here.

Back in March of 2009, then-colleague Lisa Winston (you can now read her coverage of the indy Atlantic League scene on Queen of Diamonds) and I wrote a kind of point-counterpoint piece on the top farm systems in baseball. The idea then was to focus more on which team’s system would have the biggest impact in 2009, but with an eye to what might happen beyond that. Well, wouldn’t you know it. I wrote about the Texas Rangers and Lisa wrote about… yep, you guessed it, the San Francisco Giants. Guess we were just a tiny bit ahead of our time…

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