Results tagged ‘ prospects ’

Lynchburg

Hey all. Sorry B3 has been on hiatus awhile. Me and Mrs. B3 were away for a week in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary (a complete blog post on that will be forthcoming, for those curious).

Back in the saddle now, the job has taken me to Lynchburg and Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday and today. Aside from getting driving through what I think was the worst thunderstorm ever to get from Lynchburg to the hotel here in Charlottesville, it was a very productive trip.

We got a little lucky yesterday. We came here with the objective of doing a feature on Orioles top prospect (and 2007 first-round pick) Matt Wieters. That mission was indeed accomplished, but we got a lot more bang for our buck. Turns out that Daniel Moskos was on the hill for Lynchburg and we got to talk to him post-game as well (throw in an interview with Carolina League batting leader Jim Negrych and I’d say we got our money’s worth. Look for all of this fine work in the coming days).

Remember, this wasn’t just a matchup of two first-round picks from last year. It was the guy the Pirates did take — Moskos — facing the guy everyone thought they should take — Wieters.  It was pretty clear that the intrigue in that wasn’t lost on Moskos, who picked a good day (since we had come all this way) to have the best start of his pro career. He pitched into the seventh inning (6 2/3 to be exact) and didn’t allow a run, not walking anyone and allowing just three hits while striking out three. By my count, he induced 12 groundball outs (As an added bonus, he was facing Pedro Beato, a good pitching prospect in his own right. Beato had some nasty stuff, but was all over the place command-wise in the first inning, forcing his pitch count up and forcing him out of the game after four innings.).

The biggest reason for his success compared to some of his previous up-and-down outings? Fastball command. Now that may sound a little oversimplified since it’s always about fastball command, isn’t it? But it should be noted that the Pirates have asked Moskos to focus on throwing his four-seamer more often and more consistently. So some of the reasons he’s been a little inconsistent is that he’s, in effect, learning how to throw the pitch in on-the-job training. Last night, he simply had really good feel for the heater.

As for the Wieters-Moskos matchup? It looked like the catcher would have the upper-hand early, when he hit a ball opposite field off the wall in the first inning. But Moskos got him to ground out the next two times he faced him, so Round 1 goes to Moskos, though as the lefty put it — Wieters did go 1-for-3 and that’s about what people should expect from the guy.

As the resident draft guy,  it sure was fun to see these guys play in person for the first time. Wieters is a ridiculous physical specimen and you wonder how a guy that big can stay behind the plate. But then you see him move and it makes some sense. He’s incredibly agile and athletic. Frederick manager Tommy Thompson was emphatic in his praise of how Wieters has handled the spotlight and about his leadership skills behind the plate. Keep in mind that he’s basically calling his own game for the first time. It’s one of the bigger problems with big college programs, in my opinion — everything is over-programmed and the coach controls everything. At Ga. Tech, Wieters wasn’t charged with anything — calls on pitch selection, location, even pickoff throws to first, all came from the dugout. Now, the O’s are asking Wieters to pick up all of those skills during  his pro debut season. So far, he seems to be a quick study.

Today, I put on my draft hat and go to see Howie Long’s kid (Kyle), who’s actually a baseball player. Then we go on to watch University of Virginia tonight, so you can check out my report on that visit over at Geeking on the Draft.

Thumbnail image for gizzards.jpgI leave you with this: On the long drive down from Pittsburgh, I’m enjoying the farms and rolling hills of Virginia. Beautiful country, really. I pass by a little road-side store which sports a big sign that says, “FRIED CHICKEN GIZZARDS.” Now, I have no problem with any store selling anything and maybe that’s a delicacy in these parts. What is concerning to me is that it’s so popular that this place of business felt it would be a huge drawing card to trumpet that they carry the item.

Anyone know what fried chicken gizzards tastes like? And “it tastes like chicken” is not an acceptable response. If you want a recipe for this “delicacy,” check one out here.

I’ll catch up with y’all (see, I’m fitting right in) later.

B3 Mailbagish

So between a comment here and there on the blog and some emails I’ve gotten, I figure every once in a while I’ll answer some queries here. Let me start with an email I got as part of a new quasi-regular B3 feature: FIND THE MINOR LEAGUER. They can get easily lost, you know, and I get emails sometimes asking about someone’s whereabouts. So, if you’re trying to find someone in the Minors, email me and I’ll put on my detective hat and see what I can find. Here’s our first edition:

Jonathan, I can’t find any news on Cole Rohrbough.  He
doesn’t appear to be on any Braves roster I can find.  Do you have any info on
his playing status?
– Nervous Ned

OK, he didn’t sign the email Nervous Ned, but I thought that was catchy. At any rate, here’s what I was able to dig up. Rohrbough is still in Orlando, in extended Spring Training. Seems that he had some shoulder tendinitis during Spring Training and the Bravos wanted to be understandably cautious. Once they got the tendinitis to calm down, they had him work on strengthening the area. He’s now working through their throwing program to get himself prepped to throw game innings. There’s no ETA on when it will happen, but he’ll pitch in a few Extended Spring Training games before he gets to head back out to a club.

The other recent question came via the comments on this blog (you guys should try it — I hear interactivity is all the rage):

Jason, wondering if you had any insights on the whether or not the Reds
continued struggles, including tonight’s drubbing, will mean a more
expeditious call-up for Bruce, Bailey or anyone else, and whether or
not you think grabbing them now for a 10-team fantasy squad makes sense? — jaynew

OK, first things first. If you’re going to ask someone a question you want answered on a blog, make sure you get the guy’s name right. I mean, how hard is that? It’s only in the header of the whole blog and above that great big picture of my chrome dome. Maybe it’s because his “name” is jaynew and he’s asking about Jay Bruce that he got Jay on the brain… Suffice it to say others in my place would completely disregard the question.

But I’m a bigger man than that, whatever my name is. So on to his fantasy-related question. I could use some more information — like is it an NL-only league? Is it a keeper league? You know, the typical questions worth asking. Matt Belisle has already replaced Josh Fogg in the rotation, so you have to figure he’ll get at least a few starts to show what he can do. That’s really the only spot for Bailey in the rotation. That being said, if he continues to pitch like that, they’ll figure something out. At this rate, if Belisle continues to struggle, I could see Bailey getting another shot by the end of May. And I still love his upside potential.

As for Bruce, I thought he should be up on Opening Day and the way the OF is producing, you have to imagine he’ll get his chance soon enough. I don’t know how concerned the Reds are with the whole service clock thing and now you have to wonder if they’re freaking out about the Longoria contract, but he’s another one who should show his face sooner rather than later. I think both can contribute to a fantasy team right away, so especially jaynew, if you’re league is a keeper league or in an NL-only format, then grab them as soon as it is allowed. If you’re in a mixed league, I still think they can help, but I wouldn’t go as nuts over them.

I’m going on vacation starting on Thursday, so I’ll be back in about a week with more thrilling B3 action…

Evan Almighty (Dollar) …

Sorry I’ve been a little tardy in hopping on the past week. Can I blame it on being unleavened? (Happy Passover — Pesach as we in the Tribe like to call it — to those who celebrate).

Thumbnail image for Durham running (closeup).JPGI had wanted to say something about the Evan Longoria contract extension, but the only thing I could thing of was, “Where’s my cut?” I don’t want to over-estimate the power of the media here, but something is going on here. Here’s how the sequence of events went:

1. The Rays decide to send Longoria to Triple-A to start the season in order to keep his service clock from getting going, thus saving them a year before having to worry about free agency and, if all went well, arbitration. Not only would that keep E-Love in a Rays uniform longer, it obviously would save the organization a bucket load of cash.

2. I write a column, which you can read here, examining — astutely, I might add — why the Thumbnail image for evan.jpgRays made the decision they made. I give the Rays’ management the overall benefit of the doubt, though they get an “incomplete” in terms of how the situation was handled. The column, it should be noted, was posted on April 9.

3. Exactly three days later, on April 12, the Rays recall Longoria to replace Willy Aybar, who conveniently got hurt and likely will never be a starter in Tampa again. Coincidence? I think not.

4. Just six days after he makes his big-league debut (on April 18), Longoria inks a nine-year deal that could be worth up to $44 million.

monopoly_guy.jpg
The way I see it, Longoria went from being a Triple-A infielder to signing the longest deal in the history of the Rays organization in the span of oh, about 10 days. The catalyst in this sudden turn of events? Is there any doubt it was my column? That being the case,  when do I get paid?

In all seriousness, what an unbelievable turnaround. I have to say I kind of like the deal, even if it does seem incongruous to the decision not to have Longoria on the Opening Day roster. You have to think they had told Longoria’s agent, Paul Cohen (who, by the way, must hang out at Long Beach State to rep all of their shortstops — he’s got Bobby Crosby and Tulo as well — not a bad way to make a living) that once they did call him up, they wanted to lock him up long term. When Aybar went down, it just sped up the timetable.

And when you think of it that way, it actually does make a little bit of sense, doesn’t it? The Rays sent Longoria down to try to avoid having to worry about arbitration or free agency for an extra year. Once they were forced to bring him up (And no, I don’t think the public outcry really had anything to do with the decision.  Who else would you have play third once Aybar hit the DL?), they immediately took steps, unprecedented as they might be, to  … avoid all of arbitration (assuming Tampa picks up that first option year) and, if the Rays pick up both option years after that, two years of free agency. With the uphill struggle the organization faces, especially in the division, from a financial landscape/revenue standpoint, can you blame them? Yes, there’s a risk involved, but he’s as safe a bet as anyone to more than live up to this contract. Do the math, even if they dole out the $44 million, this will be a huge long-term savings compared to what his earning potential would be when he hit arbitration or free agency for the first time.

There’s my two cents worth.. and neither of those pennies came from Longoria himself, unfortunately.

I’ll be back tomorrow or the next with a little mini-mailbag of sorts.

Tulsa and Lehigh Valley

There’s really nothing to tie these two places together, other than that I was in both on this trip (and I didn’t get around to blogging from Tulsa on Friday). I guess you could say Lehigh Valley’s got a new ballpark and Tulsa really wants/needs one.

drillers.PNGWhat the Tulsa Drillers

lack in amenities, they do make up for in talent. Keep an eye out for our video feature on their lineup, should be running around Wednesday or Thursday. They’ve got ridiculous speed with Corey Wimberly (already with 7 steals), Dexter Fowler, Eric Young Jr. and Chris Nelson all having the ability to create runs with their legs. All swiped more than 20 bags in 2007. Throw in Daniel Carte and Matt Miller and it’s a very interesting lineup. They’ve even got some intriguing pitchers, though I didn’t have the chance to do stuff with them. But Casey Weathers was the Rockies’ first-round pick last year and the reliever has yet to give up a run in four outings and Brandon Hynick was MiLB.com’s Class A Advanced Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2007.

ironpigs.gifWe high-tailed it to Lehigh Valley in time for Saturday night’s game. We were on the tired side, but it was well worth it. Coca Cola Park is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful ballparks I’ve been to. It’s got that really nice red brick and green steel retro-feel. There isn’t a bad view in the house, with terrific porches and patios at all angles. But the piece de resistance is behind home plate. The IronPigs have something called dugout suites. The only time I’ve seen this before is in Mobile, Alabama, and with all due respect to the BayBears, that version was much smaller and less impressive. Basically, there are a few rows of seats right behind home plate (check out the seating chart here. Behind the seats are all the amenities of a suite, but the seats are closer than any I’ve seen and I don’t know you could find a better one in any park anywhere. I’ve never been a big fan of luxury suites — it’s always felt to me like you’re in your living room or very secluded, but with the seats right behind the plate like this, it’s like you’re at the game with all the bells and whistles of the suite right behind you.

There does seem to be one small negative to those seats, at least in the early going. Players were mildly complaining about it affecting their ability to see the ball. Once nightfall hits, it’s not a problem, but the lack of a wall behind the plate has made it tough in daylight for outfielders and infielders to pick the ball up when it’s put in play. Maybe it’s something players adjust to, but it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if it’s an on-going issue.

Jays jabber

Brett Cecil, whom Toronto selected with the 38th pick in last season’s
draft, is slated to make
Thumbnail image for brett_cecil.jpg his season debut tonight for Dunedin. I had the chance
to sit down with Cecil for about a half hour Friday afternoon and he proved to
be an honest, engaging guy. Most players I’ve encountered usually sugar talk
about their injuries or are very secretive but Cecil was pretty open about his
shoulder bothering and even fessed up to getting a cortisone shot, which is
something that the organization didn’t let on to.
 
Now granted, I didn’t ask anyone in the front office about a cortisone shot
and I probably should have. But by now, I’m relying on someone mentioning it to
me when I speak with that person so Cecil gets props for that. He’s only
scheduled to throw two innings or 35 pitches, whichever comes first.
 
Last week when I spoke to Detroit prospect Cale Iorg, he mentioned his
affinity for George Washington. Jonathan Mayo, my esteemed colleague, went to
great lengths to find a picture of our founding father to throw into my blog so
I’m hoping he can do the same for Cecil, who said he’d love to have dinner with
Brandon Lee if he could.
 
brandon_lee.jpgThe late actor and son of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee was a person for
whom Cecil has a great deal of respect. I’m always interested to hear who
players would pick to meet from history and this one certainly caught me by
surprise.
 
“He wanted to do his own kind of movies,” Cecil said. “He was an
independent person and a great actor. I really liked his acting, the way he was
able to change in character. He did that pretty well. He didn’t want to be know
only as Bruce Lee’s son.”
 
As for getting back into game action, Cecil hasn’t pitched in nearly three
weeks, he said he’s not anxious, just excited. When he was throwing this spring,
he said he had been working on getting ahead in the count earlier with greater
frequency while using his fastball so look for that tonight.
 
“Usually I’d throw a first-pitch changeup or curveball to get ahead,” he
said. “But I’m going to try and get ahead with my fastball and work both sides
of the plate.” — Kevin C.
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