Results tagged ‘ Brandon Belt ’

Friday Flight: A trip to Fresno

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!

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.

Minor accomplishments?

With the Minor League regular season winding down and the playoffs starting next week (congrats to the Brewers for winning the rookie-level Arizona League crown – Reds 2010 first-rounder Yasmani Grandal caught for the Reds in that title game), some players are putting on the finishing touches of some fine statistical performances. What they mean or how impressive they are might be in the eye of the beholder, but maybe some context will help.

Let’s start with Matt Moore, the Rays left-handed pitching prospect. With 11 strikeouts on Wednesday, he surpassed the 200-strikeout plateau for the season and is up to 208. That hasn’t happened since 2005, when Francisco Liriano did it (204). It’s the most K’s by a Minor League pitcher since Clint Nageotte piled up 214 back in 2002 (that turned out well). Moore would potentially have one more start to eclipse that number, but with his Charlotte Stone Crabs playoff-bound, they’re going to save him for the opener of the postseason.

It sound fairly impressive and rare… until you dig a little deeper. In 2001, for example, twoMatt Moore.jpg pitchers topped 200 K’s, Josh Beckett and Brandon Claussen. David Williams did it in 2000, John Stephens hit the mark in 1999 and, get this, there were six at 200 or above in 1998. So it’s more that it hasn’t happened so much recently, perhaps because teams have gotten so much more cautious with innings and pitch counts.

Perhaps more intriguing is that Moore will end up leading all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts for the second consecutive year. He topped MiLB with 176 K’s in his first taste of full-season ball in 2009.  He’s got a 12.9 K/9 rate over the last two seasons and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a full-time starter with a better rate than that in the same time frame. I went back as far as 1990 and didn’t find a single instance of a pitcher winning back-to-back strikeout titles in the Minors. How significant is that? You decide, but it’s at the very least an interesting factoid.

On to the other bit of statistical fun. I read recently how Giants prospect Brandon Belt joined a small and elite group of Minor Leaguers to go 20-20-20 — 20 doubles, homers and steals. Right now he’s got 40 doubles, 22 homers and 22 steals, numbers that make him a definite candidate for MiLB Hitter of the Year. The only other player  to pull off this feat so far is the Mariners’ Nick Franklin, who in his first full season is at 22-22-25.

How special is this triple play? I’m not sure. There are several players who are close to reaching the plateau: Melky Mesa (21-19-31), Jerry Sands (28-34-18), Danny Espinosa (18-22-25), Domonic Brown (22-20-17) and Brad Snyder (33-23-17). Brown might be the most impressive since he’s spent 25 games in the big leagues. Snyder is up now with the Cubs, so he won’t get any further.

I think it’s a nice feather in the cap, but keep in mind that 14 players did it in the big leagues in 2009, albeit in a longer season. On the flip side, only two have gotten there so far this year.

PITY-POTY

For the uninitiated, that stands for: Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year. And of course, I’m talking about in the Minor Leagues.

We’re well into the second half of the season — there’s about six weeks of the Minor League season remaining — so I thought it’d be a good idea to look at some of the potential candidates for top oveall MiLB player and pitcher. I’m going to start with 5 position player canididates, with more to come in the coming days.

Please let me know who you’re choice would be. If you have other candidates, let me know about them as well.

Player of the Year Candidates

J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays: It’s been quite a bounce-back season for the 2007 first-rounder. Sure, he’s playing in Las Vegas, but it’s not nothing that he tops the Minors with 28 homers and .669 SLG. His 1.036 OPS is fifth overall, he’s hitting .316 and his 69 RBIs are good for third in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants: If you’re not familiar with him, you
should become acquainted. A fifth-rounder taken in last year’s draft out
of the University of Texas, Belt has hit better as a pro than he did
with the Longhorns. He began his first season in the California League,
but got promoted to Double-A 14 games ago. He’s raked throughout and his
.383 average and 1.129 OPS lead the Minors. He’s first with a .483 OBP
and third with his .645 SLG.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks: Yes, he’s 22 and he’s been playing in the hitter-friendly California League. But he’s tied for the Minor-League lead with 56 extra-base hits, tied for second with 26 homers, fifth with 73 RBIs while hitting .312 and slugging .605

Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds: Talk about a breakout. The 2007 first-rounder has split the year between the Class A advanced Carolina League and Double-A Southern League, not exactly known as hitting-friendly circuits. Neverthleless, the 22-year-old Mesoraco has hit a combined .319/.389/.631 in 80 games. His 1.021 OPS is good for eighth overall. He’s got 20 homers and 53 RBIs. And he’s thrown out 42 percent of would-be base stealers. Not a bad combination of skills.

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals: The Futures Gamer and 2007 first-rounder just got bumped up to Triple-A and for good reason. He’s hitting .333 and his 1.050 OPS is third best in the Minors. He’s second in SLG (.652), fourth in RBIs (76) and has 21 homers. 

More to come…

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