Results tagged ‘ Twins ’
We get a regular report emailed to us when something happens with one of the 600 players on Prospect Watch in pro ball — Top 100 or team Top 20. It helps us know when we need to update the information on there.
Obviously, we can’t update a player’s blurb with every DL move, saving it for the more serious injuries, big promotions, etc. We’ve been having a discussion about what to do with the information otherwise. There’s no clear place to put it, but it’s also good information we’d like to share with everyone. So, for the time being, I’m going to try and post it here whenever possible. Maybe it’ll be a weekly item (Transaction Tuesday — I always do like alliteration). Here’s some of the most recent goings on with the top prospects in the game. I’m focusing on the Minor League ones, figuring most see when guys get called up to the big leagues.
Jake Petricka, RHP, White Sox — Promoted from Winston-Salem (Class A Adv) to Birmingham (AA). No. 5 on White Sox’s Top 20
Nestor Molina, RHP, White Sox — Promoted from Birmingham (AA) to Charlotte (AAA). No. 2 on White Sox’s Top 20.
Stephen Pryor, RHP, Mariners — Promoted from Jackson (AA) to Tacoma (AAA). No. 9 on Mariners’ Top 20.
Joe Benson, OF, Twins — Demoted from Rochester (AAA) to New Britain (AA). No. 5 on Twins’ Top 20.
That’s just a smattering… Over the course of the week, there’s much more and I’ll start compiling them and providing more info… If people have ideas or suggestions for this, please fire away.
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
I’m in Pirate City folks. And yet, the guy I’m going to focus on in a bit is a Twin. Go figure.
First, a couple of tidbits, one on-the-field related and one an off-the-field bizarre small world story I meant to share with you yesterday.
I’m beginning to fear that prospects — especially in the Pirates organization — are going to start avoiding me. I saw — and wrote about — Jose Tabata here yesterday. Then I find out when I arrive in Bradenton that Tabata, along with Tom Gorzelanny, had been sent to the Minor League side. Gorzo will be in the Indianapolis rotation and it’s looking like Tabata will start with Double-A Altoona.
Then, to add to it, I see the Pirates again today. Neil Walker makes a few nice plays at third, walks and scores a run. Then, after the game, he’s optioned to Triple-A as well. To be fair, both were eventually going to be sent down. Turns out that Walker’s was more a procedural move than anything else. If a player is on the 40-man roster and is still in big-league camp after March 20, if he gets hurt, he has to be put on the big-league disabled list. That might not sound like much, but that counts against his service time clock and he’d get a Major League salary. Since Walker was not going to make the club anyway, it’s not that big of a deal. Walker, as always, handled it with grace and said he understood the situation. Sounds like it was well communicated to him and the Pirates, for their part, would’ve loved to keep him around to let him learn in this atmosphere for a while longer. But rules are rules.
OK, on to our Prospect Impression:
I first met Twins prospect Luke Hughes at the 2008 Futures Game. The Aussie was on the World Team and we took him and New Zealander (Kiwi) Scott Campbell of the Blue Jays on a double-decker bus tour of New York City. A good time was had by all. You can watch the video feature we did by going here. The link is on the bottom right, where it says “Hughes, Campbell tour NYC.”
Now, Hughes isn’t just a good personality. He split the year between Double- and Triple-A in 2008, finishing with a .309 average and .524 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old then went to Venezuela and handled himself well, hitting .298 in 32 games. He’s on the 40-man roster and participated in the World Baseball Classic, where he went 3-for-12 with a homer and three RBIs in Australia’s three games.
He’s still in big-league camp and really opening some more eyes. He had two more hits today against hte Pirates to raise his average to .429 (6-for-14). He’s played second, third and the outfield over the past year. He’ll either settle into one position (an offensive-minded 2B perhaps?) or he can be a superutility guy who can really rake. Whatever the case, he’s bound for Triple-A eventually. He told me he was hoping he could stick around in big-league camp for another week, at least, maybe show more people what he can do. The bigger impression you can make up here, after all, the more likely the whole “phone call away” thing comes true.
I’ve got an “off day” tomorrow, but I’ll try to do a draft update of some sort just to mix it up.