Results tagged ‘ prospects ’

Looking back at the Rule 5ers, Part 2

We got through three picks from the Major League phase yesterday. Let’s tackle a few more:

ben_copeland.jpg10. Ben Copeland (Taken by A’s from Giants)
2005 Review (Draft Recap):

Copeland was the 132nd player taken in the draft — but the first taken by the Giants, who lost their first three choices as compensation for signing free agents Armando Benitez, Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel. The 21-year-old outfielder from the University of Pittsburgh clocked a successful month in the Arizona League, hitting .436 in his last 10 games there to give him a .333 average. He carried that hot hitting into the Northwest League, where left-handed swinger batted .306 with 13 extra-base hits (five doubles, four triples and four home runs) and 23 RBIs in 29 games. Overall, the fourth-round pick hit .315 with five homers, 37 RBIs and four stolen bases in five attempts.

2006 Preview (2005 Draft Recap):

The Giants’ first selection in the draft didn’t come until the 132nd pick in the fourth round but that didn’t seem to stop them from landing a productive player. Copeland led the Big East — not traditionally a college baseball powerhouse conference — in many offensive categories and set several school records at Pittsburgh. He hit five homers and drove in 37 runs in 181 at-bats last season, splitting time between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He’s a slightly better than average outfielder, committing two errors in 67 chances overall, having played mostly center field in the Arizona League before spending the bulk of his time in left upon his promotion. “He did an excellent job for us last year and he knows how to hit,” Jack Hiatt said. “In fact, recently in an intra-squad game [Noah] Lowry came over to pitch from the Major League team and Ben got the only two hits off him. He’s a good-looking kid.”

2006 review:

Copeland had a productive sophomore season in the pros, hitting .281
with five homers and 71 RBIs for Augusta of the South Atlantic League.
The Giants didn’t have a pick until the 132nd selection in ’05, and
they seemed to have made a wise one in Copeland, who was a dominating
force at The University of Pittsburgh.

2007 preview (Climbing the Ladder — Others to Watch):

Finally, on this loaded San Jose team, look for what Hiatt calls “the trifecta” of outfield prospects who move up together from Augusta: Ben Copeland, Michael Mooney and Antoan Richardson. That trio really defines the depth Hiatt talks about. Copeland, the club’s first pick in 2005 (fourth round), hit .281 with 71 RBIs for the GreenJackets in 2006, Mooney batted .287 with 74 RBIs and the speedy Richardson .292 with 66 steals and was caught just nine times.

james_skelton.jpg11. James Skelton (Taken by Diamondbacks from Tigers)
2008 preview (10 Spot):

Ivan Rodriguez will be 37 this year, while Vance Wilson turns 35. That both of Detroit’s catchers are getting a bit long in the tooth can only help Skelton, who is the best of a thin crop of catching prospects. Skelton was a 14th-round selection in 2004 and has snaked his way through the Tigers’ system, hitting .309 last year with seven homers and 52 RBIs at West Michigan. He hit .306 over the past two seasons (he spent 2006 in the New York-Penn League).

His seven errors put him in the middle of the pack among Midwest League catchers, but Skelton did throw out 43 percent of those attempting to steal, the third-highest percentage on the circuit. He worked well with the young pitchers the Whitecaps had last season and should continue to grow with them this year at Lakeland.

2008 Review (Kept Their Footing):

Skelton missed time with a hand injury in June but still managed to hit .303 in 87 games between Lakeland and Erie. He had a wonderful strikeout-to-walk ratio (73-to-83) that contributed to a .456 OBP. He doesn’t have much pop — he had five homers and 34 RBIs — but if he gets on base and scores runs (65 this season), he’ll stick around.)

zachary_kroenke.jpg12. Zachary Kroenke (Taken by Marlins from Yankees)
2005 review (Draft Recap):

After a wild ride with the University of Nebraska in the College World Series, Kroenke joined the Baby Bombers and went 1-1 with a pair of saves and a 2.54 ERA. While he helped Staten Island reach the postseason, he was shut down, as well, because of an injury to his glove hand.   

2006 preview (2005 Draft Recap):

The University of Nebraska product is a lefty with a good arm, and that’s always something worth working with. He’s got some pitch-development work to do and he struggled with command in his brief debut. But the Yankees think there’s a good core there and they’ll try to polish him at either Charleston or Tampa.

Looking back at the Rule 5ers

Got this idea when my esteemed colleague Jason Ratliff found info about Minor League phase selectee Anthony Hatch in an old Blue Jays organization preview. Hmm, I thought, I wonder how many of these guys we’ve written about over the past couple of years in our previews and reviews. Those things are fairly exhaustive, so I figured there was a good chance we’d written about several of these guys over the years. Lisa Winston mentioned one in her recent discussion of Terrell Young over on Got MiLB? It’ll get repeated here. I’ll start with the Major League phase guys and move on from there. It’s interesting (at least to me) to go back and see what we were saying about these guys in years past (Many thanks to another fantastic co-worker, Kristen Zimmerman, for locating the archived previews and reviews).

1. Terrell Young
(Taken by Nationals from the Reds)
terrell_young.jpg2007 preview (Under the Radar section):

The 21-year-old was the Reds’ 10th-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Mississippi. The club has taken things slowly with him and consider him very much a work-in-progress but love his upside. He finished ’06 as a closer at Billings, limiting opponents to a .145 average in 23 1/3 innings as he posted a 2.70 ERA and struck out 32, though his command was an issue with 20 walks. He should start the year in the Dayton bullpen.

“He may have the best arm of the bunch at Dayton,” Terry Reynolds said. “He’s got a real power arm and he can develop a second pitch (either a curve or a slider to be determined) he could really be a guy to watch. He was so overpowering in the closer role that it didn’t matter that he didn’t have a second pitch.”

3. Everth Cabrera (Taken by Padres from Rockies)
everth_cabrera.jpg2008 review (On the Radar):

The switch-hitting middle infielder, who saw 84 games at second and 34 at shortstop at Asheville, led the Minors with 73 steals, the second time in three years a Tourists player has achieved that feat (Eric Young Jr. did it in 2006). He batted .284 in that span.

4. Donnie Veal (Taken by Pirates from Cubs)
2006 preview (2005 draft recap):

Veal is probably used to lofty expectations, as he’s been compared to
Dontrelle Willis sincedonnie_veal.jpg he was in high school. Veal, like Willis, is
very aggressive and has a very extroverted personality. He pitches with
that passion and is very polished for a young hurler coming from a
junior college (Pima Community College). He could join Pawelek as a
nice 1-2 combination in Peoria, though there is a chance the
21-year-old will be pushed up to Daytona.

2007 preview (Climbing the Ladder):

In his first full season, the second-round selection in 2005 has emerged as perhaps the top starting pitching prospect in the organization. Just 22, Veal led the organization in ERA (2.16) and strikeouts (174) between two Class A stops at Peoria and Daytona and limited hitters to a .175 average, best in the Minors.

He throws the best curveball in the system, a fastball in the low 90s, and he is working on a change-up. With an aggressive delivery and personality, he is fun to watch and his numbers improved following a midseason promotion. The Cubs hope to see the same development when they bump him up to the Southern League to start 2007.

“He’s probably the best pitching prospect in the system,” said Oneri Fleita. “All he needs to do is tweak his command. That will come with time, and then you’ll see him quickly. He’s a young lefty with tremendous stuff.”

2007 review:

The young southpaw led all starters in 2006 with a .175 batting average against and posted a 2.16 ERA and 174 strikeouts between two Class A stops. He struggled with consistency in Double-A, going 8-10 with a 4.97 ERA at Tennessee, though his 131 strikeouts was good for a share of the organization lead. With his outstanding curveball and low 90s fastball, the 21-year-old will probably start ’08 back at Double-A but could move up as soon as he shows his stuff again. That shouldn’t take long.

2008 preview (10 Spot):

It was an extremely tough offseason for Veal, who just a few years after losing his mother, lost his father as well. That puts his struggles on the mound during the 2007 season in proper perspective.

Veal had difficulty commanding his pitches for much of the season, walking 73 in 130 1/3 innings. He did strike out 131, showing that the stuff was still very much there. The Cubs don’t want to make this comparison for obvious reasons, but Randy Johnson walked 128 in 140 Double-A innings back in 1987. The Cubs feel that Veal’s stuff — a mid-90s fastball, slider and changeup — combined with a tremendous work ethic should help him overcome his disappointing 2007 season. Time often sorts things out when you’re left-handed and have that kind of an arm. The Cubs didn’t want to add stress to Veal’s spring by bringing him to big-league camp and they’ll likely ease him back with another go-round at Double-A to find out where he is both physically and mentally.

2008 review (Kept Their Footing):

It was Veal’s second go-round in Tennessee, and while the numbers didn’t get appreciably better, he deserves credit for persevering following his father’s death. The southpaw still has outstanding stuff and if he can harness it with better command, he’ll have a very bright future. At age 24, there’s still plenty of time for him to figure it out.

Come back for more Rule 5 stuff tomorrow…


All sorts of goodies

Greetings all —

Finally crawled out from under the avalanche that was the Top 50 prospects list. Hope everyone is enjoying it so far. If you haven’t seen it, by all means, go and check it out now. We’re revealing 10 per day and have gotten down to No. 21, so only the top 20 remain. I always enjoy doing it, but man, I’m always glad when I’m done with it.

There are two ways people can get involved. They can send in their own top 10 — and we’ll put together a fan top prospect list based on those. Email that to: You can also email me comments, complaints, smart remarks. Honestly, it’s why I do the list in the first place, to elicit response. So respond at will.

On to other things…

B3 friend and colleague Lisa Winston has been an interviewin’ fool over on Got MiLB? Her “Beyond the Box Score: Getting to Know…” series is taking off. Since last I mentioned, there are three more players who you can get to know with these in-depth, off-beat interviews:

Read ’em all, you’ll be better for it.

Whaddaya folks think about the Javy Vazquez trade? Gotmilby (that’s Lisa) and I were talking about it and both of us first thought the Braves gave up too much. We saw Tyler Flowers hit in the AFL and color us impressed. Even if he can’t catch — and the guess here is that the Braves think he can’t — that’s a big bat to give up for a mediocre starting pitcher and Boone Logan, isn’t it? Unless they felt he was incapable of handling any position at all, I was a bit surprised to see Flowers in the deal. Now, the AFL is indeed a small sample size, so we shouldn’t go too crazy over what he did there.

The other guys aren’t bad, either. Granted, Brent Lillibridge seemed to take a step back in 2008, but I think he still could be a utility guy in the future. Jon Gilmore is just getting started and has a ton of power potential as a third baseman. Santos Rodriguez isn’t known to most, having only played in the Gulf Coast League in the U.S., but he’s the kind of arm that years from now could end up being the key component in the deal. I don’t care what the level is, 45 K in 29 IP makes you take notice. So does the .155 batting average against, not to mention the 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame and age (20).

Thus ends the Jake Peavy drama in Atlanta, huh? Truth be told, I’d rather give a rotation spot to Tommy Hanson on Opening Day than have Javy Vazquez, but those decisions aren’t up to me. 

AFL blog-o-rama and more cool stuff

Hey, folks, sorry I’ve not been on here in a while — been a crazy several weeks. Not a good excuse, but I’m back and hope to be more active now that exciting AFL action is about to begin.

With that in mind, I wanted to let you all know about a new wrinkle to our coverage: AFL blogs. The days of journals are gone with the dinosaurs (you know, those things Sarah Palin claims ran the earth in the 1920s…). Not only did we go out and try to find a few bloggers to discuss their experiences in the Arizona Fall League, we decided to try to find one for every MLB organization! That’s right 30 blogs for your reading pleasure (still working on securing all of them, but we will). We’ve got lead bloggers for each organization and we’ll work to get guest bloggers from each team to chip in as well to give you as robust a look at life in the AFL as anyone has ever seen.

Today, we kicked things off with the NL West and I’m happy and proud to link you up:

Diamondbacks: Lead blogger — Hector Ambriz
Dodgers: Lead blogger — Lucas May
Giants: Lead blogger — Kevin Pucetas
Padres: Lead blogger — Chad Huffman
Rockies: Lead blogger — Mike McKenry (We had some technical issues with this one, so look for his first post later on today)

Games kick off tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 7), so keep an eye out for all our great coverage at our AFL site.

In addition to the AFL stuff, we’ve also kicked off our annual organizational reviews and I must say that this year they look better than ever, from both an aesthetic and content perspective. Kevin Czerwinski kicks things off with our look at the Washington Nationals. One of the cooler things we’re doing this year is name organizational hitters and pitchers of the year in each review. For the Nats, it was Roger Bernadina and Jordan Zimmerman being so honored. To cap it off, Kevin C.’s has added “One More Thing” about the Nats on his excellent blog: Minor Leagues, Major Thoughts.

Tomorrow, we’ve got Kevin’s Mariners review. And I promise to have a lot more to say about the AFL and other things as we move forward from here. So welcome back, and if you’re a first-timer, thanks for checking this out… 

More Brewers-Indians trade info

Kevin C. did a bang up job breaking down the young players involved in the A’s-Cubs trade yesterday. Check out his blog as well: Minor Leagues, Major Thoughts. Great insight from there, too.

I figured Matt LaPorta’s gotten enough attention (though you can watch my interview with him in Akron last night on the homepage). What about a guy like Robert Bryson, the low-A RHP included in the deal? How about some love for him?

I’m no stats geek (though I like them to an extent), but I was looking at his performance since he began his pro career and something stuck out: He seemed to have a lot of strikeouts. Seventy in 54 IP for Helena last summer in the Pioneer League, then 73 more in 55 IP in West Virginia prior to the trade. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 143 K’s in 109 IP.

Boy, I thought, that seems like a pretty good rate.  I wonder, I pondered aloud (that was strange because I was working in a coffee shop and people turned and stared. But I digress…), where that ranks among Minor League pitchers over the same time frame. So like I did with the LaPorta power numbers, I asked my good friends in the MLBAM stats department to do some crunching for me. They came back with great abs. When I told them I meant for them to crunch the numbers, they said, “Ohhhhh,” punched themselves in the stomach and got the spreadsheet up and running. Lo and behold, this is what they found, using the strikeout per nine inning ratio and using all pitchers from June 22, 2007 (Bryson’s debut) and a minimum of 100 IP:

Santo Luis, Astros/White Sox,  12.62 K/9
Victor Garate, Astros/Dodgers, 12.03
Neftali Feliz, Rangers, 11.83
Rob Bryson, Brewers, 11.81
Jeremy Jeffers, Brewers, 11.78

I almost want to discount Luis and Garate since both are older (Luis is 24; Garate 23) and pitching in low-A ball. Not that they can’t have careers, but they’ve been around since signing  in 2001 and 2002 (both by the Astros, who let them go, if that’s telling at all). Feliz is legit and is in Double-A now at age 20. Jeffress has ridiculous arm strength, but has had some off-the-field issues and it remains to be seen what he becomes. But he’s still very young. And there’s Bryson, No. 4 overall in the Minors with his K/9 rate. So while LaPorta is clearly the big fish the Indians wanted to reel in with this trade (C.C. makes for some imposing bait, no?), don’t just relegate Bryson as “some random guy” thrown in. Dude can throw and if he can figure some things out, he could be a nice arm, either in the rotation or more likely as a short reliever, down the line.

4th AB for Beckham

Time: 8:53
Inning: Bottom 7
Situation: One out, no one on. Score tied 5-5.
Outcome: Tapper back to the mound.

Facing a lefty for the first time, John Flanagan, Beckham took a ball before getting fooled on Flanagan’s second pitch. He was way out in front, tried to hold up his swing and ended up with a check-swing tapper back to Flanagan. Flanagan’s got a real funky delivery and comes from a three-quarters arm slot and the guess here is Beckham didn’t see too much of that in high school. Flanagan’s tossed three scoreless innings, so it’s not just Beckham having trouble picking the ball up.

So Beckham is 1-for-4 tonight. Combined distance of all of his balls in play, I think, would be about 300 feet. But hey, he hasn’t struck out yet.

Third AB of the night

Time: 8:12
Inning: Bottom 4
Situation: .Two outs, none on. Princeton leading, 5-3.
Outcome: Groundout to the shortstop, end of inning.

Getting a third look at Lehman, he took a couple of pitches to run the count to 1-1. He then hit a grounder in the hole to short, fielded by Lifete Jose, who threw out Beckham by a half-step. Beckham’s 1-for-3 on the night, but hasn’t gotten the ball out of the infield as of yet. He has shown an ability to get down the line in a hurry.

At this rate, he’s going to have about 6 ABs…

Beckham AB No. 2

Time: 7:32
Inning: Bottom 2
Situation: Runner on third, two outs. Princeton leading 3-0.
Outcome: Grounder to second, side retired.

Beckham took the first offering from Lehman in his second at-bat and went the other way with it, right at Franco. It was a routine play and Franco made it. Beckham will have to wait for his first pro RBI.

Travelblogue: Midland

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to dust off the ol’ “Travelblogue” term and figured now would be a good time to do so, it being the Midwest League All-Star Game and all.

I wrote in detail about Midland, the area, the history and the ballpark, when were here back in April 2007. Still a good town, still a great ballpark and I was able to get another burger and shake at Daddy O’s on Main Street. So all is right with the world.

Last night, they had the obligatory home run derby. I must admit, I’m growing tired of them, but the fans still love ’em (think about it, the folks here in Midland don’t get to see derbies as often as I do) and the kids put on a good show, with Felix Carrasco winning the title over the Midwest League home run leader, Ian Gac. You can read my story about it here, along with info on tonight’s starting pitchers and a note on a former All-Star in attendance.

They’re getting ready for batting practice at Dow Diamond currently, so I’ll have to keep this short. It’s a great league for talent this year, with the all-star roster having four players from last year’s first round. And that’s just the top 30. There are two more sandwich picks and a second rounder here as well tonight.  That doesn’t include the legitimate international prospects, not to mention the guys not from the 2007 draft class.

All of that leaves us (myself and producer Joe Cronin with plenty of options. Look for a feature on Jarrod Parker as well as interviews (we hope) with fellow ’07 first-rounders Ben Revere and Pete Kozma.

Stay tuned for more…I’ll try to post a recap of the evening’s festivities when I have the chance.

Find the Minor Leaguer

I’m back, baby. The draft is over and now I can get back to B3 on a more consistent basis. I thought I’d start it back up with a good “FIND THE MINOR LEAGUER REQUEST.”

I was reading your article and thought I would say “hello” and take you up
on your offer to find a minor leaguer.  I am looking to see where Jacob Reust is
now and how he is doing. My nephew, Taylor Smith, married Jacob’s sister, Jess Reust, now Smith, in
September, 2007.  Jacob’s entire family came to Roanoke, VA which is where my
family and I live, to be married at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church.  Jacob was an
usher and I got to meet him for the first time there.  At the wedding reception,
I talked with him and, believe it or not, brought baseballs for each of us in our
family for him to sign. — Dianne V.

Thanks for writing in, Dianne. I guess my first question is, “Why don’t you ask your nephew’sjreust.jpg wife?” In all seriousness, I have found out some information on Reust. The Australian right-handed pitcher signed with the Indians organization in February 2007. He attended the MLB Australian Academy in 2007 and once represented Australia in the Cal Ripken World Series (2002). Just 18 years old, Reust is listed at 6-feet and 189 pounds (well, 183 cm and 86 kg, but I converted) and is reported to throw his fastball in the 90-mph range.

Reust is currently in Winter Haven, Fla., home of the Indians’ extended Spring Training facility, recovering from a shoulder injury — right shoulder capsulitis. He’s working with the organization’s rehab specialist and when/if he’ll play this summer will be determined when he’s closer to being healthy, in about a month.

I’ll be back in the coming days with more stuff…

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