Results tagged ‘ prospects ’

What Erisbel Arruebarruena might bring to an MLB team

My colleague Jesse Sanchez recently wrote a good story on the next wave of Cuban prospects on its way to Major League Baseball. One of them, who recently defected, is former Cuban National Team shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena.

I just talked to a scout who is in the Dominican Republic watching the 23-year-old Arruebarruena to see if he’ll be worth pursuing. From his evaluation, it sounds like he will certainly bring some Major League-caliber skills to a team, but he doesn’t see him as a true impact player, like a Cespedes, Puig or Chapman. Here’s his thoughts on what he’s seen of Arruebarruena:

“He’s what you’ve been reading. He’s a very good defensive player. His glove is very close to the big leagues. The bat, you kind of think he’s one of those guys who’ll bat down in the order. He can really play shortstop, if that’s the type of player you’re interested in. He’ll be a quality defensive shortstop in the Major Leagues, but you wonder if he’s going to hit. Some of the others who have come recently – Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria — I felt more confident about the bat. We’ll have to hear what the money is. This isn’t like watching Aroldis Chapman or Yeonis Cespedes. You’re not going to hear from 15 teams. You’ll hear from teams that are hurting a little bit at shortstop.”

Perfect Game National Showcase standouts

Players (and scouts) are already on to the next event, the Tournament of Stars, USA Baseball’s fantastic event that will lead up to the Prospect Classic (games being broadcast by Pete McCarthy and yours truly!), but those games don’t start until tomorrow. So this seemed like an opportune time to talk about who scouts felt stood out at this year’s Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome.

This isn’t a ranking — I’ll list hitters and pitchers separately in alphabetical order. If I put a (TOS) next to their name, that means that they’ve gone on to Cary, North Carolina for the Tournament of Stars. From that large group, the US 18U national team will be formed and many of these players will be in that Prospect Classic, which will be streamed on MLB.com and the first two games of which will be on MLB Network via tape delay.

Hitters

  • Cavan Biggio, 3B/2B, St. Thomas HS, Texas (TOS)
  • Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington HS, SC (TOS)
  • Zack Collins, C, American Heritage HS, Fla. (TOS)
  • John Paul Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS, Calif.
  • Clint Frazier, 3B, Loganville HS, Ga.
  • Jan Hernandez, SS, Carlos Beltran Academy, PR
  • Hunter Hope, 3B, W.T. Dwyer HS, Fla.
  • Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS, Calif. (TOS)
  • Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS, Wash. (TOS)
  • Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS, Ga.
  • Chris Okey, C, Eustis HS,  Fla. (TOS)
  • Christopher Rivera, SS,  El Dorado HS, Calif. (TOS)
  • Dominic Smith 1B Serra HS,  Calif.
  • Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Elk Grove HS, Calif.

Pitchers

  • Cheyne Bickel, RHP, Dwyer HS, Fla. (TOS)
  • Taylor Blatch, RHP, Jensen Beach HS, Fla.
  • Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS, Calif. (TOS)
  • Trevin Haseltine, RHP, Will C Wood HS, Calif.
  • Clinton Hollon, RHP, Wood Ford County HS, Kent.
  • Robert Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph Regional HS, NJ (TOS)
  • John Kilichowski, LHP, Tampa Jesuit HS, Fla. (TOS)
  • Brett Morales, RHP, King HS, Fla.
  • Chris Oakley, RHP, St. Augustine Prep, NJ (TOS)
  • Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy HS, Calif.

As one scout put it to me: “It’s not a great group, but it will probably look better by the end of the summer. It usually does.”

So stay tuned for updates from the Tournament of Stars, Prospect Classic, East Coast Showcase, PG All-American Classic and the UnderArmour All-American Game on these high schoolers. Those wanting info on the college set, there’ll be some from the Prospect Classic as well as the Cape Cod League

Minor League Transactions for week of May 7

(Editor’s Note: My apologies, thought I published this on Tuesday, but forgot)

Once again, I’m hoping to make this a weekly feature, a look at roster moves/transactions involving the top prospects in the game, focusing on the players on our Team Top 20s over on Prospect Watch. Here’s the week that was on the transaction wire:

  • Kylin Turnbull, RHP (WAS, No. 17): Returned to Hagerstown from extended, first start since April 27. Went three innings on May 8 and struggled.
  • Last week, I wrote that Jake Petricka and Nestor Molina were promoted in the White Sox system. Turns out it was a one-shot deal. Both are back down in Winston-Salem and Birmingham, respectively.
  • Carlos Perez, LHP (ATL, No. 13): The lefty was sent down from Rome after struggling mightily in seven outings and a 12.79 ERA.
  • Johermyn Chavez, OF (SEA, No. 17): On the DL with a broken hamate in his left hand.
  • Yorman Rodriguez, OF (CIN, No. 12): After hitting .156 in 23 games, with 39 K’s in that span, Rodriguez was sent to extended to work things out.
  • Alfredo Silverio, OF (LAD, No. 15): Silverio had been out initially because of a concussion, but that had cleared up. Then he hurt his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery, ending his season.
  • Ben Wells, RHP (CHC, No. 13): Wells came off the DL on May 10 (blister) to pitch four innings in relief for Peoria.
  • Zack Wheeler, RHP (NYM, No. 1): Wheeler came back from his fingernail problem to pitch 5 innings for Double-A Binghamton on May 10.
  • Mycal Jones, OF (ATL, No. 16): Jones was sent down a level, from AA to Class A Advanced Lynchburg after hitting .141 with Mississippi.
  • Shawn Tolleson, RHP (LAD, No. 9): The reliever got bumped up to Triple-A after posting a 1.38 ERA with 5 saves in Double-A.
  • Matt Hoffman, LHP (DET, No. 14): The lefty came off the DL and pitched an inning in relief on May 9. Then he promptly returned to the DL (left shoulder strain).
  • Jack Marder, C (SEA, No. 16): Marder came off the DL and picked up where he left off with the bat, going 5-for-15 in his first three games back for High Desert.
  • A.J. Griffin, RHP (OAK, No. 13): Griffin continued his quiet ascent through the A’s system, getting bumped up to Triple-A after a 2.49 ERA in seven Double-A starts.
  • Joe Ross, RHP (SD, No. 10): Ross was scratched from his last start and placed on the DL with shoulder soreness on Friday.
  • Jace Peterson, SS (SD, No. 19): Placed on the DL with concussion symptoms after an on-field collision with a teammate.
  • Danry Vazquez, OF (DET, No. 11): The teenager was sent to extended after hitting just .162 in 29 games for West Michigan.
  • Kyle Parker, OF (COL, No. 11): Parker returned from a wrist injury that forced him out for the start of the season and he hit his first homer of the year for Modesto on May 12.
  • Tommy Joseph, C (SF, NO. 5): Joseph was put on the DL due to a concussion.
  • James Baldwin, OF (LAD, No. 10): Returned from a DL stint due to a strained oblique.
  • David Adams, 2B (NYY, No. 19): The injury-prone infielder returned to Trenton following a stiff neck.

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.

The Burnett deal: Who the Pirates won’t include

Well, it looks like this A.J. Burnett to the Pirates trade is all but official. One thing that’s not known at this point is who the Pirates are sending to the Yankees in return, other than what are being considered “low-level prospects.” So the question is: What does low-level mean?

There are some obvious prospects who won’t be on the table either, starting with names on the Top 20 list.I’ve been told by a source that no one on that current Top 20 is involved in this deal. So, Pirates fans who were worried that “low-level” for one person might not be for someone else, you can relax. Anyone from the 2011 Draft is excluded anyway — you can’t trade them yet — so here are the rest of the names of Pirates prospects who will not be included in this deal:

Jameson Taillon

Starling Marte

Stetson Allie

Luis Heredia

Tony Sanchez

Robbie Grossman

Jeff Locke

Justin Wilson

Kyle McPherson

Nick Kingham

Rudy Owens

Bryan Morris

Alen Hanson

Colton Cain

Zack Von Rosenberg

Jarek Cunningham

More as I can get info…

Thoughts on the Montero deal and much, much more

Believe it or not, this is my first post of 2012. But I have a good reason, honest. First, I was traveling overseas with my family. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture as proof (Yes, that’s the Dome of the Rock behind my Dome):

The B3 brood in the Old City of Jerusalem (Mrs. B3 is the official family photographer)

Then it was on to the Rookie Career Development Program outside of Washington, D.C. Don’t believe me? Well, proof is in this link, our overview of the Program (with player interviews galore beneath that).

These days, I’m knee deep in prospect ranking work. Don’t believe me? (Perhaps I’m overusing the theme). Proof is the first list that was released today: The Top 10 RHP Prospects, the story as well as in Prospect Watch (with video of each player). Oh, and if you didn’t notice, there’s a brand new central location for all things prospect called Prospect Central. Check it out early and often.

In the midst of all of this, there was the news of the big Yankees-Mariners trade. It’s not official just yet, so no movement on the ol’ 2011 Postseason lists, but it’s coming. And we’re making sure all the 2012 lists are up to date (Top 100 overall coming out on Jan. 25), Top 20 per team coming in February (that’s right, folks, twice as many names!!!! So you understand why the B3 Blog had taken a back seat).

So, the trade… my first gut reaction was that the Mariners gave up too much. But then I talked to a bunch of people who’s opinions I trust in the scouting industry and I’ve come around to this perhaps being a win-win. The Yankees needed starting pitching help and they can, if they so desire, have Michael Pineda for a long time. Jose Campos is a legit prospect as well and even if he’s young and hasn’t pitched in full-season ball, I had one scout tell me he thought he’d be ready by 2014.

The key, though, is Montero (Hector Noesi will contribute, tho). The M’s have wanted him for a while, remember? So now they got their man, the middle of the order (young) bat to put with Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak. But, the $64,000 question is, can he catch?

My thinking is the Yankees didn’t think so, or else they didn’t want to, in the pressure cooker of New York, find out. There was no room for Montero on that roster unless he was going to be a DH at age 22. To me, the writing was on the wall when late last year they needed a catcher, Montero was up, but they brought up Austin Romine instead. Having made the determination that Montero wasn’t going to catch for them anytime soon, they were more willing to part with his bat. This, by the way, is just a theory.

I thought  that most in the scouting world agreed that Montero would never have the stuff to catch every day in the big leagues. But it turns out I was wrong. I know, shocking. But in an informal survey I did of some high-level scouts, most actually thought he’d eventually be OK behind the plate. No one was ready to etch his name on Gold Gloves, but those I talked to made comparisons to Javy Lopez (he came up several times), Jorge Posada and, of course, Mike Piazza (Yes, many think Montero’s bat could be THAT good). Here’s some of what they had to say:

“There are a bunch of ex-catchers that made their mark with their bats and figured out the catching position the more they played. Remember, this kid is 22 years old and he can really throw. That’s a good start for his continued development.”

“Yes [he'll be able to catch]! The team will need patience. He’s better than Mike Napoli was at the same stage!”

“Not now (will he be able to catch full-time), but Javier Lopez did! All catchers that stay there get better if they try!”

“If he hits enough — remember Javy Lopez?”

Told you about the Lopez comps. And scouts really like to use exclamation points in text messages. But that’s neither here nor there.

So, Mariners fans, don’t expect defensive miracles right off the bat. But stick with your soon-to-be new catcher. Sounds like most think he’ll be acceptable back there and the bat will more than make up for any deficiencies with the glove.

First Week of AFL is in the books

Week 2 is about to get underway today, so I figured it’s a good time to take a look at the week that was out in the Arizona Fall League.

Be sure to follow all the AFL players who are on Twitter as well as the group we have blogging about their experiences. It’s a great way to get first-hand insight into life in the AFL.

The league (follow them at @MLBAZFallleague) will have it’s Player and Pitcher of the Week, but I figured I’d put in my two cents:

B3 AFL Hitter of the Week

AFL Hitter of the Week: Michael Choice, A’s

The 2010 first-round pick is coming off a 30-homer season in his first full year of pro ball. So far, he’s made it look easy going from Class A Advanced ball to the AFL. Granted, both are hitters’s leagues, but power is power. Choice led the AFL in total bases (18), second in OPS (1.585) — second to Kevin Mattison, who wins best ‘stache in a headshot, at the very least (see below). Choice also topped the AFL with three homers while hitting .471 overall.

Love the 'stache

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B3 AFL Pitcher of the Week

AFL Pitcher of the Week: Daryl Maday, Giants

It was a toss-up for me, between Maday and Reds reliever Brad Boxberger, but I thought perhaps I was being biased because of Boxberger’s blog. That and the fact he’s gone 2 1/3 IP and struck out seven. He did walk two in his second outing (though pitched out of trouble), so I decided to go with the starter in Maday. He went four shutout innings in his start on Oct. 8, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out six.

 

 

 

While all this is going on, wanted to be sure you saw the end-of-season organizational prospect reviews I’ve been writing. It’s got a little feature on the top prospect in each system along with a review of how the rest of the Top 10 fared and picks for 2011 Player and Pitcher of the Year. Enjoy.

More to come on that front as the offseason unfolds.

Memories of All-Stars…before they were stars

One of the best things about my job in covering prospects is that I get to know players at the very beginning and see them “before they are stars.”  Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to meet and cover a vast number of young players on their way up who have now gone on to bigger and better things. I must admit, I take a certain kind of pride when I see someone I knew in the Minors (or as an amateur) make it to an All-Star Game.

When Adam Jones made the All-Star team in 2009, I was able to talk to him about the journal he used to write for us (you can sample one here if you like) when he was an up-and-comer in the Mariners system, just making the transition to center field.

When Shane Victorino was an All-Star that very same season (perhaps he’ll go again as the Final Man), we joked about the times we talked about him being a two-time Rule 5 pick and how they might need to re-name the rule after him.

The list goes on and on. So I looked through this year’s All-Star rosters to keep an eye on anyone I’ve had the good fortune to cross paths with when they were prospects on the way up. I’ll do the American League now, with the NL later on today:

Robinson Cano, 2B: I didn’t make it to the 2004 Futures Game (it’s the only one I’ve missed, but I had a good reason: my daughter, Elena, was born that week), but I was there in Chicago in 2003 to see him play.

Curtis Granderson, OF: Granderson, then a Minor Leaguer with the Tigers, wrote an Arizona Fall League journal for us back in 2004. Here’s a sample of that journal, where he talks about dressing up as Rick James for Halloween.

Josh Hamilton, OF: When we saw Hamilton play in the 2000 Futures Game in Atlanta — and get three hits, if my memory serves — we knew he had special talent. We obviously didn’t know the adversity he’d face, but the pure on-field skills were apparent back then.

Josh Beckett, RHP: That was a pretty good U.S. squad in 2000, wasn’t it? Hamilton and Beckett went 1-2 in the 1999 Draft and both made it to the Futures Game a year after being drafted. He was in the big leagues the following year, at age 21.

Gio Gonzalez, LHP: Ahh, Gio. Gotta love Gio. Gio played in the Futures game in 2006 and also played in the Arizona Fall League. Back in the day when we had MLB Radio, he did a weekly segment from the AFL with us. It wasn’t always so easy to track him down, but when we did, it was about as much fun on the radio as we had.

Russ Martin, C: I met Martin when he was the catcher for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate at the time. They won the Southern League title that year and that was a squad with just a ridiculous amount of talent on it (James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Andy LaRoche, to name a few).

Miguel Cabrera, 1B: He was a 19-year-old third baseman  when he played in the Futures Game for the first time, in 2001. He was there again in 2002 and there was plenty of buzz around him any time he hit, with it pretty apparent what was to come.

Howard Kendrick, 2B: He was Howie when I met him for the first time and he did an AFL journal for us (here’s an example) which was fantastic. Even if he’s Howard now, he still stands out as one of the all-time good guys I’ve covered.

Kevin Youkilis, 3B/1B: Youk played in the 2003 Futures Game and he was still getting a lot of attention for his “role” in the book Moneyball. We had a good laugh over how he should be called “The Jewish God of Walks” instead of the “Greek God of Walks.”

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF: He was in the 2007 Futures Game in San Francisco. The year before that, in 2006, I got to chat with him during the Eastern League playoffs, when he was playing for the Portland SeaDogs.

David Price, LHP: Price didn’t spend too much time as a prospect, did he? But when he was at Vanderbilt, the year he became the No.  overall pick in the first televised Draft, he did a Draft journal for our site.

Ricky Romero, LHP: Romero was the first pitcher take in the 2005 Draft’s first round (the one with Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun taken ahead of him, along with Jeff Clement). In 2007, the Cal State Fullerton product wrote a season-long journal for us and was probably one of the most reliable journal writers we’ve ever had.

C.C. Sabathia, LHP: Remember what I said about the 2000 U.S. Team in the Futures Game? Sabathia was there as well.

James Shields, RHP: He was Jamie when I first saw him pitch. But anyone who saw him throw his changeup in the Arizona Fall League championship game back in 2005 knew he was going to be a big leaguer soon thereafter.

Justin Verlander, RHP: In 2004, I went to Virginia to see Verlander and his Old Dominion team take on Justin Orenduff and Virginia Commonwealth (Orenduff would be a supplemental first-round pick of the Dodgers, but arm troubles derailed his career). Verlander struck out 16 in that game for the win. The result of that trip was a two-part Q&A with both Justins (Part I and Part II)

 

Prospects aplenty in MiLB Playoffs

That’s right, folks, there are plenty of ‘em still in action as teams move closer to winning (and losing) titles.

A brief overview:

  • Game 3 of the Texas League championship series between Northwest Arkansas (Royals) and Midland (A’s) has lefty John Lamb on the hill for NW Arkansas. (I wrote about Lamb in this playoff preview feature). His teammate, Eric Hosmer, is hitting .276, but with five homers in seven playoff games to date (that’s an .862 SLG if you’re scoring at home).
  • The Eastern League championship, like the Texas League, is tied at one game apiece. Altoona (Pirates) 2B Chase d’Arnaud has hit .348 with a 1.247 OPS in the postseason. Trenton (Yankees) is sending fairly under-appreciated pitching prospect Adam Warren to the mound for Game 3. Warren, who had a 2.59 ERA for the season split between Tampa and Trenton, tossed six innings of shutout ball with 10 K’s in his previous playoff start.
  • Pitcher of the year candidate Trey McNutt, who also won his previous postseason starts, gets the ball for Tennessee (Cubs) in Game 3 of the Southern League championship. That one is also tied 1-1, with Marlins former first-round pick Matt Dominguez driving in three runs in Game 2 to even up the series. The third baseman is hitting .364 with three homers and eight RBIs in the postseason.
  • With the South Atlantic League championship knotted at a game a piece, the defending champion Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies) send pitching prospect Brody Colvin to the mound. He tossed five shutout innings in a first-round no-decision.

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