01 July, 2003
Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
on JJ Hardy MIL :
" ... "Special" is a word often
used when scouts and club officials describe Hardy ... ,won't be 21 until Aug.
19 yet has distinguished himself as one of the top shortstops in the minor
leagues ...selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game, a showcase for the
game's top prospects ... also was named to the Southern League all-star team ...
Huntsville general manager Bryan Dingo, who began his tenure nine years ago when
the Stars were affiliated with Oakland, compares Hardy to Miguel Tejada, who won
the American League MVP award with the A's last season. "I honestly believe
that at this level, Hardy is as good, if not better than Tejada was," Dingo
said. "J.J. is so fun to watch. He has made some mistakes you're going to
see at this level but I think he's more polished than Tejada was."
" ... Despite a recent slump, Hardy is
batting .296 with nine homers and 40 RBI, and continues to make spectacular
plays in the field, using the strong arm he developed as a part-time pitcher in
high school ... With a solid 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame, good pop in his bat and
a flair for making big plays with his glove, Hardy is everything a team could
want in a shortstop prospect. He realizes the carrot dangles ever closer with
each passing week but has maintained his daily focus of becoming a better
player. "I do have high expectations, like anyone does," he
said. "I expect myself to do well. It comes with all of the work I've put
in and what I expect from that work. "I'd like to get a lot stronger, and
I'd like to get the speed back that I had in high school. You still have to put
in your work and get better every day. It's not going to be there for you if
you're not working for it. "I know what I want and I'm going to work to get
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Hart MIL :
" ... Corey Hart is unorthodox in the things
he does on a baseball field. The bottom line is that he has the talent to get
away with it. "Corey is very athletic," said Frank Kremblas, manager
of the Class AA Huntsville Stars. "He doesn't always look pretty at the
plate and he swings at some pitches he shouldn't swing at. "But if they
leave something over the middle of the plate, he hits it hard." Hart also
is unique in that 6-foot-6 players normally aren't asked to play third base. But
with a stockpile of talented first basemen in the organization, the Brewers
asked him to do exactly that last year, and Hart complied. It wasn't pretty at
first ... jury is still out on Hart as a third baseman ... But you hear
nothing but raves about his bat, particularly with men on base. The native of
Bowling Green, Ky., is among the Southern League leaders with 58 RBI, and is
batting .295 with 19 doubles and eight home runs. "Offensively, you're
going to take a little bit of a hit when you're learning a new position,"
Huntsville general manager Bryan Dingo said. "But he's still hitting well
and driving in runs. "I've seen Corey make some tremendous plays at third
base. Sure, he's booted some balls and thrown some away, but he's made some
highlight plays over there, too."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Krynzel MIL :
" ... "The stuff I've learned in
minor-league baseball is awesome. I never knew I'd learn this much," said
Krynzel, an all-star centerfielder for the Class AA Huntsville Stars. "You
do something out there and you realize you didn't used to know how to do it. How
well you do depends on how much you take in and execute it." Just call
Krynzel a human sponge. Huntsville manager Frank Kremblas says of all the highly
regarded prospects on his club, his lanky, left-handed-hitting leadoff hitter
has made the most progress during the 2003 season. "He's done the best job
at the mental approach to the game," Kremblas said. "He's more patient
at the plate, which he hadn't been in the past. He's getting more walks.
"He struggled a little bit early but he continued to work on it. He's so
much more relaxed and calm at the plate. His approach compared to last year is
completely different." Ever since making Krynzel their first pick in the
2000 draft, the Brewers have urged him to make the most of his primary asset:
speed. Beyond being a premier defensive player in center, he has worked with
instructors to become a prototypical leadoff hitter, drawing walks and laying
down bunts to get on base. So far, so good. Krynzel has been on a tear of late,
raising his batting average to .320 with a .407 on-base percentage. He has 28
stolen bases but still needs to work on getting better jumps, as evidenced by
his 18 times caught stealing. "I've got certain focus points that I want to
improve on every day," he said. "The main thing is knowing it's going
to get better as long as I keep working and practicing."
02 July, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Royce Ring :
... pitching at Double-A Birmingham, Ring has a 2.52 ERA, 19 saves, and a 44/14
K/BB in 35.2 innings. The 6-foot, 220-pound lefthander has an explosive
fastball, clocked as high as 96 mph, though 91-93 readings are more usual. He
has a sharp breaking ball that keeps left-handed hitters off-balance, and he has
a changeup that's good enough to use against right-handers. Although he is a
southpaw, he does well enough against righties to be a regular closer ...
Command is occasionally a problem for him, and he'll have to prove he can throw
strikes consistently at higher levels ... Overall, Ring is one of the most
promising relief prospects in the minors today."
03 July, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Jose Reyes NYN :
... has been the youngest or one of the youngest players in his league every
year. His defensive skills draw the most praise. His arm is strong and
reasonably accurate, while his range afield is excellent. He still makes
careless errors of youth and inexperience ... Many believe he will be a Gold
Glove shortstop down the road. Reyes has hitting skills, too. He makes solid
contact, does not strike out excessively, and has gap power. His large number of
triples is a testament to his speed, as well as his ability to drive the ball
into the gaps. Reyes will never be a huge home run threat, but should be good
for double-digits eventually ... plate discipline needs work, and has taken a
hit since he reached Double-A. Right now, he projects as a .240-.260 hitter at
the major league level, which isn't bad for someone who just turned 20 ... Reyes
reminds me of Cristian Guzman, and his skill set is similar. Like Guzman, Reyes
will probably be erratic, playing extremely well at times, but also struggling
with consistency. Like Guzman, Reyes relies on his speed and gap power to rack
up doubles and triples. Like Guzman, he is brilliant on defense but also
occasionally sloppy. Like Guzman, he needs better plate discipline to get the
most out of his ability. Shea Stadium is not a great environment for developing
young hitters, so Reyes will face a handicap there. I don't expect big things
from him offensively for at least a year or two, but his glove will keep him
employed long enough for his hitting to come around."
Keller, SportsTicker, with a prospect watch of the AL West. ANA is
blessed with farm help both on the hill and the field :
... The one hurler who stands out most is ... Ervin Santana. The
20-year-old is 8-1 with a 2.38 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 110 innings at
advanced Class A ... Even more impressive is that Santana has posted such
outstanding numbers as one of the 10 youngest pitchers in the best hitters'
league in the minors. A 14-game winner in the lower level Class A Midwest League
last season, Santana, who went by the first name of Johan last year, has a power
arm, loose frame and great command for a youngster."
... The grade A prospects are another pair of 20-year-olds at Rancho. First
baseman Casey Kotchman got off to a great start (.330, 4 HR, in
100 AB) before hamstring injuries sidelined the 2001 first-rounder. Catcher Jeff
Mathis is batting .327 with 24 doubles and seven homers while playing
very well defensively ... Also opening eyes are second baseman Alberto Callaspo
and shortstop Eric Aybar in the Midwest League. Both are hitting
over .300, rarely striking out and showing base-stealing ability."
Lerner, SportsTicker, on "Emerging Prospect" Joel Guzman
... Guzman, 6-4, 220, is the prototype for the new age shortstop ... . Bill
Bavasi, Director of Player Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers ...
"Joel is a shortstop and has a chance to be a very good one. "Position
switches are always talked about because of his size. We'll ultimately have to
resist the temptation to be too smart or impatient and just let the young man
play and learn to play the game the right way both offensively and
... He has progressed well enough that I would bet he might be considered by at
least some to be the best shortstop in the (South Atlantic) league," Bavasi
said. His performance earned Guzman a promotion to the Vero Beach Dodgers of the
advanced Class A Florida State League ... flourished since arriving at Vero
Beach, hitting .340 with two homers and four RBI in his first 13 games.
"You get a young hitter like Joel, who has really tremendous power that's
going to come with him once he develops a knowledge of the strike zone,"
Bilardello (Dann Bilardello manager of the South Georgia Waves) said. "He's
going to become a better hitter because of that."
04 July, 2003
Reed, Prospect Report, is in the home stretch of his team-by-team prospect
reports. Among thos featured in the TB report, shortstop BJ Upton
at #2 (behind Baldelli) :
... The top position player selected in the 2002 draft ... showing extreme
patience and looks like a great top of the order candidate with Derek Jeter
potential. Scouting reports agree with the early season results and he should
move very quickly. He's got the total package, all that is missing is a more
consistent stroke and polish that comes with playing a few seasons. "
A surprising #3 :
... Jon Switzer ... one of the quieter prospects in the Devil Rays system
since being picked in the second round of the 2001 draft. He has a nice
fastball/changeup combination and very solid numbers for a young lefty. The
22-year old currently has a 3.86 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 27 walks in 91
innings for the AA-Orlando Rays. He could easily pitch in Triple A right now,
and that means he's a solid major league debut from being a mainstay in the
Devil Rays rotation."
07 July, 2003
Outfielder Jeremy Reed CHA opening eyes in the WSox system. Hitter
of the Week in the Southern League :
... Reed hit .560 (14-for-25), drove in five runs and scored six times. The
rightfielder smacked three extra-base hits including one double and three home
runs. For the week, the 22-year-old had a .840 slugging percentage and a .593
on-base percentage. The Chicago White Sox selected Reed in the second round of
the June 2002 draft out of Long Beach State University." (SL Press Release)
Reed, Prospect Report,
has his first two TEX picks already in the majors --
Mark Teixeira & Ryan Ludwick. With the perspective of a couple
of months of play, Reed has some pre-season unheralded young guns in the Top 10
... 5. Jose Dominguez ... has been excellent at every level he's pitched.
He started the year in High A-Stockton where he struck out a batter an inning
and showed good control. He quickly earned a promotion to AA-Frisco. He's
adjusted well to the more advanced competition and currently owns a 2.55 ERA
along with 26 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings ... Dominguez won't turn 21 until
... 6. Jason Bourgeois ... - currently hitting .329/.416/.473 with
22 doubles and more walks than strikeouts in 317 at bats at High A-Stockton. He
has also managed to steal 16/19 bases. He gets less press than Ramon Nivar
because of Nivar's high batting average. However, Bourgeois is two years younger
and is already a comparable hitter. In the field, he isn't quite as impressive.
He hasn't found a position yet and he is susceptible to making errors."
... 7. Ramon Nivar ... has made a name for himself this
year. He has quick hands that cut through the zone, enabling him to consistently
make contact and spray hits to the outfield. Offensively, he profiles similar to
Boston's Freddy Sanchez. He is currently hitting .347/.387/.464 in 317 at bats
in AA-Frisco. He has shown polish at the plate with only 23 strikeouts and a
lack of it on the basepaths, stealing at an awful rate of 9/18. Defensively, the
former middle infielder is a recent convert to the outfield and the Rangers are
hoping that his quickness will enable him to be a good Major League
08 July, 2003
with a review of prospects in the NL
East. Among the noted, a pair of Marlin moundsmen and two from the Phils :
... Denny Bautista and Trevor Hutchinson headline the list
of lower level pitching prospects on the rise. The 20-year-old Bautista, a
righthander whose fastball tops 96 but is more effective when it's thrown in the
low 90s, was promoted to Class AA Jupiter in mid-June where he won each of his
first two starts without allowing a run. Hutchinson, the brother of Dallas
Cowboys quarterback and former Cardinals prospect Chad, earned the honor of
starting the Florida State League All-Star Game after posting nine wins in his
first 10 pro decisions."
... At the advanced Class A level, Gavin Floyd has continued the
momentum generated by a stellar first season with a 2.63 ERA and an
organization-best 84 strikeouts in 15 outings. The Phillies' first-rounder in
2001 has a fastball/curveball combo that is arguably the best in the system.
Taking Floyd's place this season as the best prospect in lower level Class A is Cole
Hamels. Hamels, a first-rounder in last year's draft, was the South
Atlantic League's June Player of the Month. The 19-year-old was also named the
MVP of the Hall of Fame Game on June 16, striking out nine Tampa Bay Devil Rays
in five innings."
10 July, 2003
first rounder making quite an impression in the Pioneer League :
... Brian Anderson is an extra special baseball player, a $1.6 million
first-round draft choice whom Chicago White Sox officials labeled a rare
"five-tool" talent upon selecting him with the 15th overall pick in
the amateur draft last month. It hasn't taken long for the center fielder to
make an impression ... what with his outstanding size (6-2, 205 pounds), grace
in the outfield and power at the plate. The former University of Arizona star
connected for the cycle (single, double, triple, home run) in his sixth
professional game and is currently hitting .429 with 13 RBI."
... What makes Anderson so extraordinary -- and important to the success
of the Sox -- is something that cannot quite be measured in the box scores.
"The thing I'm most impressed with," said Great Falls manager Chris
Cron, "is Brian's ability to be a regular guy. Sometimes these No. 1 picks
are just a little high on themselves, and he doesn't seem to be that way."
... "Brian seems like a regular guy who gets along with everybody,"
Cron said. "He generally cares about the team and wants his teammates to do
well. And then he brings all those other things to the table." Cron
was talking about Anderson's ability to hit, hit with power, run, throw and play
defense. The ball flies off his bat in all directions in a manner uncommon to
many professionals, and his gliding ability in the outfield is obviously an
more proof of Anderson's potential? "Well, I still feel a little
uncomfortable at the plate," he said the other day at Legion Park.
"But I think that will come around." Mind you, Anderson was hitting
over .400 when he made those comments."
you what, he's pretty good," said Mike Lum, the ex-major league slugger and
veteran White Sox minor-league hitting coordinator. "He does a lot of
things correctly. He's able to hit the ball in the middle of the plate the other
way. A lot of times with young hitters, all they want to do is pull the ball.
But this kid, he's pretty polished." (Great Falls Tribune)
overjoyed with A-Ball righty :
... Joel Zumaya, the 18-year-old right-handed pitcher for the West
Michigan Whitecaps, reclaimed the Midwest League strikeout lead by fanning 11
batters ... A procession of Lugnuts -- eight of the first 15 hitters -- wandered
back to the dugout after falling victim to Zumaya's fastball that routinely
reached 96 mph on the radar gun. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder twice struck out the
side in the second and fourth innings. "As far as pure, raw stuff, his
potential is unlimited," Whitecaps manager Phil Regan said.
... It appears more and more the Detroit Tigers might have gotten the steal of
the 2002 amateur draft. They selected Zumaya
in the 11th round last summer out of Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista,
Calif., where he was throwing just 88-89 mph. Their prized pitching prospect,
however, has added nine mph to his fastball since graduation, sharpened his
curveball and has begun to understand the finer points of his
profession."The first half (of the season), I went out there trying to
strike everybody out. Now, I'm focused on going out there and pitching instead
of just throwing the ball. It has been a big learning process for me,"
turnaround) came when Regan called me into his office a few times and told me to
start pitching more. He told me to hit my spots and I'd come through with a win
every time." The simple advice has made
a big difference ... Zumaya leads the Midwest League with 117 strikeouts. He has
pitched a total of 82 2/3 innings, striking out an average of 12.7 per nine
innings ... "He did a nice job for us tonight," Regan said. "I think he's pitching better now than just
throwing the ball. Instead of getting mad and trying to throw harder and harder,
he has learned to step off and take a little bit of a breather."
(Grand Rapids Press)
11 July, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, having some fun picking today's prospects most likely to
suit up in a 2008 All-Star game. The relief picks are likely to cause
distress to owners of a couple of premier SP prospects :
... Dan Denham (Indians) and Scott Kazmir (Mets) Denham is
currently a starting pitcher, but his sinking fastball and good slider could
make him a dominant relief pitcher. Kazmir was compared to Billy Wagner when he
was drafted, and projecting similar performance from him isn't hard to do as
long as he stays healthy. Many relief pitchers were starters in the minors, so
it would be no surprise if some of the All-Star bullpenners in '08 were actually
minor-league starters in '03."
Sickels lists includes Joe Mauer
& Justin Huber at catcher, Justin Morneau & James
Loney 1B, Russ Adams, Josh Barfield 2B, Kevin
Youkilis & Chad Tracy 3B, BJ Upton & Khalil
Greene SS with an OF of Laynce Nix, Gabe Gross,
Nick Swisher, Miguel Cabrera, Scott Hairston
& Jeff Francouer.
Sickels SP lineup includes Zack Greinke,
Rich Harden, John VanBenschoten and Adam
... Greinke ... the mound presence of a veteran, with excellent command and
control, both of his pitches and of his emotions. His athleticism helps him with
things like fielding his position and keeping runners in check. It also helps
keep his mechanics and delivery consistent, which is the main reason his command
is so good ... Greinke has adopted a professional approach very quickly,
studying hitters and keeping notes. He is quite intelligent, but so far has
avoided over-thinking on the mound, a bad habit that hurts some intellectual
pitchers ... Harden, meanwhile, continues to strike people out at a good clip in
Triple-A, though he hasn't been quite as overpowering as he was early in the
season. He is still an outstanding long-range prospect, and as good a bet as any
minor-league pitcher to be a future All-Star. Other AL pitching prospects to
watch include Kris Honel (White Sox), Jason Arnold, Dustin
McGowan, and Brandon League of Toronto, and Brandon Claussen
of the Yankees. VanBenschoten, an '01 first-round pick and former college
outfielder, has proven the Pirates were right about moving him to the mound
full-time, confounding skeptics (like me) who thought it was a mistake.
Wainwright, a Braves prospect, should continue Atlanta's tradition of developing
starters in the Kevin Millwood/Jason Schmidt mode. The aging of the Braves
rotation will, perhaps, keep them from trading Wainwright and other impressive
arms they have collected. Gavin Floyd of Philadelphia, Edwin
Jackson and Joel Hanrahan of Los Angeles, and Aaron Heilman
of the Mets are other possible NL stars."
12 July, 2003
Callis, Baseball America, on Colt Griffin KC :
... Joe Szekely, who has managed Griffin the last two years, points out that
people often forget that Griffin only has been pitching regularly since 2001 and
he didn't receive much instruction before turning pro. Griffin still hits 96-98
mph on occasion, but he usually pitches at 93 mph and worries more about
throwing strikes. Szekely says that instead of missing the plate wildly as he
often did in 2002, Griffin is around the strike zone a lot more this year.
"It's just a matter of time before those walks become strikeouts,"
Szekely said. "We're very pleased with the strides he's making. When it all
clicks, he's going to be flying up through the ranks."
Callis on Chris Shelton PIT :
... .356/.472/.636 through 79 games. He leads the Carolina League in batting and
homers, and he's only three off the RBI lead. He also tops the league in on-base
percentage, slugging percentage, extra-base hits (38) and total bases (166).
While Shelton's performance has been quite impressive, he's old for high Class A
at 23. His position is also a question. A catcher at Utah, he has shared time
behind the plate this year with Ryan Doumit. Doumit is considered a better
athlete and defender, though Shelton has thrown out more basestealers (29 versus
20 percent). Shelton is more of a first baseman or DH ... If he gets promoted to
Double-A and keeps mashing, you'll see him on the Hot Sheet.'
Boyd, Baseball America, on Joe Blanton OAK (A-Ball) :
... is 10th in the league with a 2.48 ERA after finishing a complete-game,
five-hit shutout last night. Blanton, drafted 24th overall out of Kentucky, has
consistently been clocked at 91-93 mph this year. He has an amazing 126-18
strikeouts-to-walk ratio in 120 innings, and has surrendered just 95 hits. His
fastball can straighten out, but he has been able to overpower hitters with his
fastball and power curve. Despite working with a full-effort delivery, Blanton
pounds the strike zone."
Prospect Report, Chris Reed, has completed his team-by-team reviews with
a piece on the Jays' system and, to those who haven't been paying close
attention, the top pick might come as a surprise :
... Guillermo Quiroz ... one of the (hopefully) few overlooked prospects
in the top 150 prospects. He put up a strong performance last year in the
Florida State League - .260 BA/ .330 OBP/ .421 SLG as a 20-year old catcher. He
projects, at worse, as an average hitting catcher with the potential to be one
of the best offensive catchers in the game. He has great defensive skills,
though they might not match those of fellow Blue Jays prospect Kevin Cash. Still
Quiroz has much better potential than Cash, and while it seemed that the Jays
were paving the road for Cash, Quiroz looks like the man behind the plate in the
future for Toronto. He is currently hitting .278/.373/.511 with 16 doubles and
13 home runs in 237 at bats in AA-New Haven. He is still only 21-years
Catcher Kevin Cash has dropped to
the "honorable mentions". Dustin McGowan is the runnerup
with OF Alexis Rios #3 :
... Rios showed a lot of promise last year, hitting .305/.344/.408 with 22
doubles, 8 triples and 3 home runs in the pitcher friendly Florida State League.
... currently hitting .352/.410/.527 with 21 doubles, 8 triples, 6 home
runs in 315 at bats in AA-New Haven. The 22-year old has the stick to hit for
great average (obviously) and I think he'll also continue to add power as he
matures. His plate discipline isn't great, and he's about on pace for 100
strikeouts for a full season. It's not a huge problem, but it will make it a
little easier to be exploited by Major League pitchers. Rios is the most
exciting of the Toronto outfield prospects as he is the most athletic. He could
play centerfield if necessary but will likely end up flanking Vernon Wells in
one of the best young outfields in the game."
Boyd, Baseball America, on a couple of the stars who will be in action today
in the Futures All-Star match :
Greene SS SD " ... tools are average or better across the board, and
his instincts for the game are as good as anyone's. He's the best pure hitter in
the Padres system, with excellent bat speed, hand-eye coordination and pitch
recognition. Greene's ability to stay at shortstop is a question among scouts,
though his hands, range, arm and first-step quickness rate just a tick above
average for the position. His total package and baseball savvy allow him to get
the job done successfully."
Cano 2B NYA " ... separated himself as one of those quality
prospects when he hit .276 with 25 doubles, 10 doubles and 15 home runs last
year between low Class A Greensboro and short-season Staten Island. His swing
and the way the ball jumps off his bat attracted attention before the season,
and Yankees officials believe his best days are ahead as a power-hitting second
baseman with the defensive versatility to play third, short and outfield."
LaForest C TB " ... Signed by the Devil Rays in 1997, LaForest has
made continued improvements in his offensive game, capped by a career-high 23
home runs in 2002. Converted to catching in 2000, he’s never been
well-regarded defensively, and has spent much of this season as a designated
Blackley LHP SEA " ... has steadily elevated his prospect
stock since, despite having his progress interrupted by a fractured elbow
following his 2001 debut season. His stuff hasn't been affected, as shown by his
2002 campaign for Class A San Bernardino, where he had 152 strikeouts in 121
innings. Blackley has good command of a plus changeup, breaking ball and average
15 July, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Neal Cotts CHA & Chris Burke HOU :
... Cotts was traded to the White Sox last December as part of the Billy
Koch-Keith Foulke transaction. Overlooked in the Oakland system, he's emerged
this year as one of Chicago's most valuable properties at 8-3 with a 1.97 ERA
and 99 strikeouts in 73 innings at Double-A Birmingham. Cotts doesn't have a
terrific fastball, but overmatches hitters because he knows how to change speeds
and keep them off-balance with his curveball and changeup. He should see the
South Side later this year or next spring, and has the potential to be an
excellent No. 2 starter."
... A first-round pick from the University of Tennessee in 2001, Burke suffered
through a disappointing '02 season, but has rebounded this year. Currently
hitting .316 with a .382 on-base percentage and a .409 slugging percentage at
Double-A Round Rock, Burke is a classic leadoff guy with good patience and
speed. He's swiped 18 bases this season while being caught just seven times.
Capable of playing both second base and shortstop, Burke is often compared to a
young Craig Biggio. That's a big burden for a young player, and Burke may never
develop as much power as Biggio did, but he should be a solid guy early in the
order. Look for him late this year or early next season."
Greg Miller moving up the Dodger chart :
... The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Miller was part of a proposed
trade that would send him, minor-league prospect Edwin Jackson and Los Angeles
starter Odalis Perez to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for outfielder Brian
Giles. The problem is that the Dodgers rate Miller and Jackson as their top two
pitching prospects and consider them untouchable. Terry Collins, the Dodgers
minor-league field coordinator, said Miller has made tremendous strides since
coming out of high school last year, pointing to a more consistent delivery and
a low-to-mid 90s fastball. Collins said Miller could become a No. 1 or No. 2
starter in the majors by improving his control. "The velocity is there, the
breaking ball is there, and if the command comes, his ceiling is
limitless," Collins said. "Now, we don't want to start putting that
kind of pressure on him. Let's just get him through this season." (TCPalm.com)
Portland Press on a pair of BOS AA farmhands, one considered untouchable,
the other supposedly on the trade block :
... Kelly Shoppach ... The Baseball America publication calls Shoppach
the one Red Sox prospect who is "untouchable." Not only is that
statement based on his talent, but on Boston's needs. Jason Varitek's contract
is up after next year. With Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Lowe
also at the end of their contracts after 2004, the Red Sox may not be able to
afford Varitek. It is hard to say if Varitek, now an American League All-Star,
will be allowed to leave, just as it is hard to say if Shoppach, in only his
second pro season, would be ready to take over. Shoppach was considered one of
the best defensive catchers available in the 2001 draft and is improving as a
hitter. He hit .271 in the Class A Florida State League last year and is batting
.278 so far this season. He's been named an All-Star in his first two
... While Shoppach is called untouchable by Baseball America, (Kevin) Youkilis
is the poster boy for the publication's story on the trade deadline. The story
contends that Youkilis' "value has never been higher." ... In the
debate on scouting - whether you look at a player's physical potential or his
results - Youkilis would be a model example. If you are scouting for physical
tools, Youkilis wouldn't stand out. And some scouts at Hadlock said they were
not overly impressed with Youkilis. His fielding is suspect (18 errors), he
isn't fast and he isn't powerful (four home runs). But some scouts have raved
about Youkilis. He can hit (.318) and he knows how to get on base, drawing walks
and leading pro baseball with a .480 on-base percentage. Youkilis has shown a
good glove at times, and the Red Sox believe his fielding will improve, much
like Boggs. But are the Red Sox talking up Youkilis because he's in their future
or because they're trying to inflate his value for a trade? "Who
knows?" said Youkilis. "I don't think I'll be traded, but it's always
a possibility. You can't worry about it."
16 July, 2003
Phenom Cole Hamels
needs a higher level to test, perfect for six ... 6.0 0 0 0 0 11, 1.01
... Lakewood BlueClaws' lefty pitched six perfect innings yesterday to keep his
earned run average 0.00 at FirstEnergy Park and boost Lakewood to a 5-1 win over
the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds in front of a crowd of 7,033. The win gave
Lakewood a split of the four-game series with the Orioles affiliate heading into
their three-game series at home against the Lake County (Ohio) Captains, an
Indians affiliate. The Phillies' first-round draft pick from 2002 overpowered
the Delmarva lineup, striking out 11 of the 18 batters he faced before he was
pulled after throwing 63 strikes out of 87 pitches, which is three shy of the
usual pitch limit for Lakewood starters. "Every pitch was working real
well," Hamels said. "My whole philosophy is to go out and challenge
guys." Hamels may have to look for a new challenge soon, considering South
Atlantic League hitters haven't really been up to the task. Yesterday Hamels
(5-1) threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of 18 batters and only allowed three balls
to reach the outfield. He now has 99 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings this season
and has only allowed seven earned runs in 11 starts. "(Hamels) was throwing
all his pitches for strikes," said BlueClaws pitching coach Ken Westray.
"That's what we want our starters to do -- go out and dictate the
... Hamels was spotting his 94 mph fastball right on the corners, getting his
knee-buckling changeup over the plate and throwing an above-average curveball
for strikes. "(Hamels) had great stuff warming up in the bullpen and you
could tell it was just one of those days," said BlueClaws catcher Tim
Gradoville. "He was hitting spots with all three pitches. The hitters
looked like they had no chance up there." In the end, it was a case of
development vs. potential history when the Phillies' $2 million investment was
pulled with his bid for the first perfect game in team history only three
innings away. The 19-year-old from San Diego said he has never pitched a perfect
game or a no-hitter in his life ... "(Hamels) did an
outstanding job," said Phillies minor league pitching coordinator Gorman
Heimueller, who was at the game. "Some people might see him being
unhittable and wonder why we are pulling him out. He is a first-year
(professional) player, so if we are going to err, we are going to err on the
side of caution." (Asbury Park Press)
And, this item in the San Diego Union Tribune before
last night's game :
... The fact that Hamels is 4-1 with a 1.11 ERA and 88 strikeouts and has
allowed only 27 hits in 56 2/3 innings for the Lakewood (N.J.) Blue Claws is
indication that the 6-foot-3, 175-pound youngster has outgrown the competition
he has faced in his first 10 pro starts. "The philosophy in our
organization is to let guys move along one level at a time," says Phillies
West Coast Area scout Darrell Conner. Named the organization's pitcher of the
month for June, Hamels' victory total could be twice as high if he weren't
toiling for a Lakewood crew sputtering with a paltry .215 team batting average.
Rather than bash his brothers for lack of support, the Rancho Bernardo High alum
is quick to note that he is confined by a pitch count of 90. "I feel strong
– a lot better than I ever did in high school," Hamels says.
Nevertheless, the Phillies, who selected Hamels with the 17th overall pick in
the 2002 draft and signed him for $2 million in late August, are handling the
potential nugget with care. Hamels broke the humerus bone in his pitching arm as
a Rancho Bernardo sophomore and was unable to return to the mound until his
final year in high school. Despite a strong senior season (10-0, 0.39 ERA, 130
strikeouts over 71 1/3 innings), more than half of the major league
organizations were scared away by Hamels' fragile past. "No matter who they
are, we tend not to rush guys," says Conner. "He was advanced as a
high school kid, and everyone is pleased by his progress. His presence on the
mound is well beyond his years." Hamels was impressive in spring training
but, due to his late signing and lack of work, was held over. In his final,
extended spring training outing, Hamels struck out 13 of the 17 batters he
faced, topping out at 94 mph. "I'm doing all right, I guess," Hamels
says. "But I'm still learning."
17 July, 2003
Weeks MIL named the top amateur player in the US, winner of the Golden
Spikes Award :
... Weeks, whom the Milwaukee Brewers drafted second overall in the 2003 draft,
was also Baseball America's College Player of the Year after winning his second
consecutive Division I batting title. He hit .479 in 2003 with 16 home runs and
66 RBIs, on the heels of his incredible .495-20-96 season in 2002. He finished
his career as Division I's career batting leader with a record .473 average.
"Growing up as a little kid, I always wanted to be considered one of the
best players in the country, so, I'm very elated to win the USA Baseball Golden
Spikes Award," Weeks said. "It's the Heisman Trophy of baseball."
The other finalists were Tulane first baseman Michael Aubrey; Stanford
outfielder Carlos Quentin; Wake Forest righthander Kyle Sleeth; and Richmond
righthander Tim Stauffer." (Baseball America)
Callis, Baseball America, on TB catcher Pete LaForest and CHA 2B Ruddy
... Promoted to Durham in early June, the 25-year-old has hit a combined
.276/.392/.579 in 43 games. He also put on one of the more impressive
batting-practice shows at the Futures Game. Hall hasn't hit as expected, but
LaForest has yet to prove he can handle the defensive responsibilities of an
everyday big league catcher. He still lacks some polish and he's not effective
against the running game. He threw out just 19 percent of basestealers in 2002
and has dropped to 12 percent this year. He may be better suited to be a
DH/first baseman/backup catcher."
... I'm still not convinced he's anything more than a prolific minor league
basestealer. He led the minors with 88 swipes in 2002 and has 50 in 85 games
this year. While he's batting .291-1-18 and leading the Carolina League in
steals and runs (68), he's also repeating high Class A and has mediocre on-base
(.358) and slugging (.347) percentages. He's going to have to show more with the
stick to convince me that he's more than an upgraded version of Esix
18 July, 2003
- Chris Reed, Prospect Report, has begun a second tour of the
team-by-team rookie ratings. ANA is first up with Casey Kotchman
retaining his #1 slot with Jeff Mathis & Ervin Santana
following up. An infield combo makes the list :
Callaspo (#5) 2B " (Low A - 358 AB, .324/.360/.427 ) Callaspo is
an exciting young prospect who has had a breakout year. He has the ability to
hit for average and knock a ton of doubles. The 20-year old might not walk much,
but he doesn't strike out either, boding well for his success at higher
Aybar (#9) SS " ... (Low A - 358 AB, .296/.327/.436) The younger
brother of the Dodgers' Willy Aybar is making a name for himself this year. He
combines doubles power and great speed to make for a package that could earn
'Most Exciting Player' honors in the Midwest League at the end of the year. He
has a snazzy glove and the potential to be a Major League shortstop."
Palm Beach Post on Matt Peterson RHP NYN (A+) :
... It was the kind of beginning that could have ruined Matt Peterson's season
... sustained a strained rotator cuff in his first start and missed more than a
month. But the injury didn't stop Peterson from becoming one of the most
effective starters in the Florida State League. "I'm actually really
surprised with the way I've come back from it," he said. "I had a good
spring training, everything, and then I got hurt. It was just a question of how
I was going to bounce back from it." Peterson, 21, is 7-2 with a 1.32 ERA
in 12 starts and has helped St. Lucie challenge for the East Division title. He
hasn't allowed a run in the past 20 innings. "I'm just going out there and
making the pitches I need, getting the ground balls," said Peterson, who
was a second-round draft choice of the Mets in 2000. "A big key to the
success I'm having right now is I haven't walked many people." Peterson,
who has walked 16 and struck out 64, is eight innings shy of qualifying for the
league's top 10 in ERA."
Joe Ptak, CLE Indians Report, on an emerging SP star :
... Fausto Carmona continues to dominate South Atlantic League hitters as
he and Blake Allen combined for a three-hit shutout of Lakewood last night.
Carmona is now 11-3 with a minuscule 1.63 ERA and a .213 BAA through 17 starts.
Most impressive has been his control as he's walked just 11 batters in 104.2
innings while allowing 82 hits and striking out 63. That is extremely impressive
for a 19-year old in his second year pitching in the States. He's certainly
earned a promotion to Kinston."
Crosby OAK in line to fill some big shoes :
... Crosby is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. He's considered a five-tool player, one
who possesses a strong arm, is blessed with good speed, plays the field well,
and hits for power and average. The A's have labeled him their shortstop
of the future, while his teammates nicknamed him "The Franchise."
... If anything, having expectations on me is more exciting than anything,"
he said. "I never looked at it as a thing that puts pressure on me. ... The
expectations let me know that people value my talent as a ballplayer, and I
accept the challenge to live up to those expectations." ... His speedy
development might earn him a ticket to the major leagues this season or next ...
"Right now, Bobby is putting himself in a great position to be a great
major-league player," River Cats manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "I'm
pleased with his progress, and I think he can be an everyday shortstop in the
... Bobby is starting to become a whole package," DeFrancesco said.
"He can play right now in the majors. Go back to the mid '80s when Walt
Weiss was the (A's) projected shortstop of the future and Alfredo Griffin was
the guy. The club (traded Griffin) in the winter and made a spot for Walt Weiss.
Weiss went on to have a great rookie year and great career. "I see Bobby in
the same way. The difference is Bobby has more power than Walt and drives the
ball a lot better. And defensively, I think he can play with Walt now. And he's
only going to get better."
... People may see the success now, but they weren't around when I
struggled," he said. "Growing up, I was not the biggest or the best
guy on my teams. In high school, I was always this scrappy little player. I had
to work hard to get where I am. There were disappointments along the way."
Today, the future looks bright. "I talk to other general managers from
different major-league clubs, and they all say the kid is an absolute five-tool
player, even as a shortstop," said Paul Cohen, Crosby's agent. (Sacramento
Kevin Wheeler, The Sporting News, with some impressions from the Futures
All-Star game :
... Dave Krynzel, OF, Brewers/ I liked him a lot. He threw well from
center field, he stole second base after drawing a leadoff walk in the first
inning and he saw 15 pitches in three at-bats."
... Joe Mauer, C, Twins. Mauer already looks like a major-league
catcher. At the plate, he's got good balance and a smooth stroke, but I think he
needs to add more muscle to hit for more power. I'm sold on him."
... Gavin Floyd, RHP, Phillies. This guy looks like a natural. He
threw hard, his breaking pitch was nasty and he overpowered two Class AAA
hitters in Ramon Nivar and Alexis Gomez."
... Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Dodgers. Once this guy fills out, he's
going to be something. His bat is very quick (he went 2-for-3 with two singles)
and he moved well in the outfield."
... Ramon Nivar, 2B-OF, Rangers. He played second base, but the
Rangers have him playing center field at Class AAA. Hit the first pitch of the
game past the bag at third for a double and then promptly stole third. Nivar has
the look of a solid leadoff man."
Jamey Newberg, TEX Minor League Report, on a mound hope for the Rangers :
... Even I'm not insane enough to think that Jose Dominguez will
have an impact on next year's All-Star Game, or on the Ranger rotation for that
matter, but he has a real chance to be a special pitcher, for a team that would
settle for less lofty adjectives, say, "dependable," or
"effective." I saw him pitch last night in Frisco, and I'll assume
that the fact that Buck Showalter and Grady Fuson were on hand (one in the
dugout, the other less than 10 rows behind the plate) helped cause his
first-inning shakiness -- but the pressure just gets greater from here forward,
so it's not an excuse -- because after he gave up two runs in the opening frame,
he was filthy, tying Round Rock up with a dazzling circle change that livened up
a good fastball and slider. He ended up going seven innings, giving up three
runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks while punching out nine, and
improving to 4-0, 3.12 with the RoughRiders and 8-0, 2.95 overall in 2003."
Pouliot, RotoWorld, has a mid-season update of his Top 100 and it displays
some major changes from the pre-season choices. OAK's Rich Harden
captures the top slot :
... Harden projects as the fourth Oakland ace. He's picked up some velocity this
year, throwing 95 mph consistently and topping out at 98 mph. His changeup and
slider can both be plus pitches when he has them working, and he also uses a
splitter. If Harden's control improves as he matures, he should be a Cy Young
contender. Although there will be outings in which he struggles to throw
strikes, he'll be worth owning in even the shallowest of leagues after the A's
bring him up."
Joe Mauer MIN was the runnerup :
... Because of his offensive ability, Mauer would be one of the top prospects in
the minor leagues even if he was a first baseman. Instead, he's a catcher and a
very good one. He has a terrific arm and pitchers love throwing to him.
Offensively, he's developing even more quickly than expected, hitting .330
between two levels this year. The power has yet to come, but he'll eventually
develop into someone who can be counted on for at least 15-20 homers per season.
It looks like Mauer could be ready for the majors before the end of next season,
but the Twins figure to be patient with him. Expect Mauer to take over a
starting job in 2005 and become the American League's best catcher by
21 July, 2003
Chris Reed, Prospect
Report, is charging right ahead with his updated Top 10s -- Arizona up today
and Scott Hairston is #1, with shortstop Sergio Santos
in the runnerup slot :
... Santos has been a huge surprise for the Diamondbacks, hitting very well in
High A-Lancaster at a very young age. Arizona has kept him at shortstop for the
time being, though the general consensus is that he will outgrow the position
and move to third. His error total is high (as you'd expect from a 20-year old),
but with Chad Tracy knocking the cover off the ball in Tucson Arizona will
likely try to keep him at short for as long as possible. He has more power
potential than his .411 SLG implies and he has great upside as a shortstop and
as a third baseman."
Outfielder Connor Jackson, from the 2003
draft, rates in the #5 spot :
... Jackson was a tremendous collegiate hitter with excellent plate discipline
and solid power. The Diamondbacks landed the former third baseman in the first
round (before Billy Beane could get his grubby little hands on the slugger) and
promptly moved him to the outfield. Jackson hasn't dominated in his professional
debut, but his 19 doubles point to more power in the future."
couple more notes from Matthew
Pouliot's updated Top 100 at RotoWorld :
... 18. Andy Marte ... has recovered from a slow start to put up very
solid numbers at one of the best places in the minor leagues for pitchers. If
the native of the Dominican Republic is truly 19 years old, then he could be a
star. His defense is very good, and he figures to be a .300 hitter with 25-homer
power. His 82/41 K/BB ratio this year is a substantial improvement over the
114/41 total in 488 AB last season."
... has stepped up his production in his second season at Triple-A. It looks
like the Phillies would be better off right now if they declined to sign David
Bell, going with Utley at second base and Placido Polanco at third. That didn't
happen, but Utley should have a job next year, replacing Polanco. Utley is a
below average defender at second, but he is adequate. He projects as a
.280-20-80 middle infielder and should be a top Rookie of the Year candidate
... back at full strength this year and has been better than ever since
moving up to Double-A last month. The 20-year-old works in the mid-90s, reaching
96 a couple of times during the Futures Game. His other pitchers need
improvement, especially his changeup. His curve is already pretty good. Bautista
is still raw, so he isn't going to jump from Double-A to the majors like
Dontrelle Willis did. It would be for the best if he's left in the minors until
next September and then given a chance to contend for a job in 2005."
Maybe they forgot to tell Dallas McPherson
that Casey Kotchman and Jeff Mathis are supposed to be the stars of ANA's CAL
club. McPherson wound up an incredible week with a 4-4 performance which
included a pair of doubles (18) and his 16th homer (his 6th in 7 games during
the week). The streak began two weeks ago as McPherson hit .320 with 3
homers during the July 6 to 13 period then exploded this last week to hit .652
with six homers (including homers in 5 consecutive games). He's increased his
average from .270 to .310 during the hot spell.
Pre-season previews. Josh Boyd, Baseball
America, selected McPherson #6 among 3B prospects (behind Blalock, Teixeira,
Burroughs, Cabrera and Marte).
David Cameron, Strike Three (now over at
Baseball Prospectus) had McPherson ranked 7th :
... McPherson struggled to get recognition with teammates Casey Kotchman and
Jeff Mathis having tremendous years for Cedar Rapids, but McPherson is a good
hitter in his own right. He doesn't have one standout ability, but is at least
average at everything, with potential to turn into a 30-home-run guy. He's got a
good glove at third, but will likely move to the outfield if the Angels decide
to keep him, as he won't be unseating Troy Glaus anytime soon."
Chris Reed, Prospect Report, had him at #9
... Why is a 22-year old who spent the full season in Low-A and only hit .277
with a .381 OBP and a .427 SLG on a top prospect list? Because he can hit and
has good defensive tools. Next year will either send McPherson shooting up the
list or make him fall off. He competed against much younger pitchers last year
and still had 128 strikeouts. He needs to crush High-A pitching and move up to
AA-Arkansas and hold his own in 2003."
He was among the "others" in the SportsTicker
3B preview and ranked #9 at 3B at Shandler's BBHQ.
Kevin Goldstein, The Prospect Report (now
at Baseball America) ranked McPherson #7 among the ANA prospects :
... had a streaky but successful year at Cedar Rapids in his first full season,
leading the Kernels in home runs, RBIs and walks. Also a highly regarded
pitcher, McPherson is a classic corner infielder -- big and athletic with a
classic lefty power swing. Defensively, he has soft hands and an above average
arm, but needs to work on the fundamentals. He was primarily seen as a pitcher
until his final year of college, so he's still getting used to the grind of
being an every day player ... McPherson hit 8 of his 15 homers over the final
month of the season, but any excitement over his numbers needs to be tempered,
as he was a little old for the league."
Sickels, ESPN, had him on his
"will help someday" list :
... Swings a strong lefty stick, hit .277 with 15 homers, 78 walks, 30 steals
for Class A Cedar Rapids. Needs to polish his defense and prove he can hit at
higher levels, though it seems likely he will."
22 July, 2003
Reed, Prospect Report, continues to churn out the team-by-team prospect
updates. ATL is up with Andy Marte sitting in the top perch.
A couple of former phenoms have dipped :
... 4. Kelly Johnson ... hasn't had the breakout year I
anticipated. He hit for good power in Low A in 2001 before heading to High
A-Myrtle Beach last year where he saw his numbers drop thanks to the unforgiving
park. He hasn't exactly knocked the cover off the ball this year either. On the
positive side, while a position shift seemed necessary two years ago after he
made 45 errors, it now appears *much* less likely. Johnson nearly halved his
error total last year at shortstop and now has 11 errors in 72 games. I still
have a lot of hope for Johnson and I'll say it again - keep your eyes open for a
breakout performance in 2004. If he doesn't starting hitting again, he'll be
bumped down the prospect list in favor of Francoeur, Blanco, McCann and maybe
... 9. Wilson Betemit ... has shown no signs of life in the past two
years. Still, he is only 21-years old in Triple A. He'll make another go at it
next year. He still has the "tools", but I'd imagine his morale is
24 July, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Scott Hairston ARZ :
... Hairston features a quick swing and power to all fields. The ball jumps off
his bat. He has few real weaknesses as a hitter, and should hit for both average
and power at the major-league level. He could stand to improve his strike-zone
judgment, but so far he's had little trouble with pro pitching. Defensively,
Hairston's range and hands are good enough for second base, no question, but he
is erratic defensively, and some people have questioned his commitment to
defense. An El Paso source informs me that he has put great effort into his
glovework this year, and Hairston has made six errors in 51 games so far.
Hairston has enough range and mobility to play outfield if necessary, but if he
can remain at second base, his value will be enhanced."
... This season, making the transition to Double-A has cut into his performance,
although he's still getting on base at an adequate clip and is showing pop. It's
hard to know how much of the slippage is due to the higher level of competition,
and how much is due to injury problems ... Assuming the back problems are
not a long-term issue, he could be up late this season and have a shot for a job
next year ... may not end up at second base, even if his defense there is
solid. But his bat is very promising, and by itself makes him a prospect to
25 July, 2003
over at Baseball America, Josh Boyd continues his position-by-position
updates. The first sackers are up, with Casey Kotchman ANA topping
... There is no reason to believe he won't shake the injury bug and build upon
the numbers he's posted when healthy: .330 in 100 at-bats for Rancho Cucamonga
this year; .315-10-76 with 40 doubles in 425 at-bats as a pro. A pure hitter,
Kotchman owns the strike zone--he has drawn 69 walks against 47 strikeouts. He
handles lefties and righties equally well. He projects as a frontline three-hole
hitter with a high average, high on base, tons of doubles, average power and
Gold Glove caliber defense."
26 July, 2003
ARIZONA -- Mitch Maier KC, another
big day, 4-4, 11th double, 2 SBs, 3 runs, 2 RBI, .425 :
Josh Boyd, Baseball America :
... Comparison: B.J. Surhoff. "There are so many similarities," the AL
crosschecker said. "Surhoff started out as a catcher and had to move. He
makes quality contact, can run and doesn't strike out." Not everyone is
convinced Maier will be able to stay behind the plate, but like Surhoff his
athleticism will allow him to be useful in the field."
Eskew, Baseball America :
... Maier, who bats left and throws right, hit .448-9-61 and stole 29 bases as a
junior at Toledo. He led the Mid-American Conference in batting average as a
freshman and as a junior, and also led the league in stolen bases this season
... "He's got a college-skilled bat, is big and strong, who has good
hands behind the plate," Ladnier (Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier)
said. Ladnier, however, hinted that there is an outside chance Maier could
change positions, possibly play left field."
Sickels, ESPN.com :
... The Royals take an intriguing power/speed catcher with the compensation pick
for losing Paul Byrd. Maier's defense behind the plate is shaky at times, but
he's got a great bat, and picking him leverages some of the risk in selecting a
high school hitter fifth overall."
Bob Dutton, Kansas City Star :
... The professional education of catcher Mitch Maier ... began Friday
almost as soon as he put on a Royals uniform for the first time. The instructor
was manager Tony Pena. "I saw tape on him before we signed him," Pena
said, "and when I reviewed the tape (Thursday), I just saw a couple of
things he was doing wrong." So Pena, a former catcher, took Maier into the
outfield for some pointers on footwork before batting practice. "That's the
best catching advice and coaching I've had in a long time," said Maier, the
second of the club's two first-round picks. "Going to school at the
university (of Toledo), we didn't have a coach who worked directly on catching.
It was a great treat to be out there and be able to work on things, on footwork,
with someone who knows exactly what they're talking about." Maier, 20,
finished second in the NCAA this year in batting with a .448 average. He also
had 16 doubles, nine homers and 61 RBIs, and 29 steals in 194 at-bats, but his
defensive skills are generally viewed in terms of potential."
... Maier wasn't the first catcher taken after all. He's a safe pick here with
his bat, even if he ends up moving to another position."
KC Metro Sports.com :
... "Mitch is an accomplished college hitter who has a chance to move
quickly through our organization," Ladnier said. "He is an athletic
player who fits the mold of the type of player we want in our organization. He's
an exceptional receiver, extremely quick behind the plate." Maier could be
moved to the outfield. He said that while he would like to be a catcher, he
would not be opposed to a change. He said he likes to break the stereotype of
the plodding catcher. "I work on it, the ability to read pitchers and get
good jumps. I know it's kind of unknown. Catchers are supposed to be slow. It's
something I take pride in and work hard to be better at."
College Sports.com :
... University of Toledo's Mitch Maier was named to the American Baseball
Coaches Association All-Mideast Region first team for the second consecutive
season. Maier is the first Rocket to be named First-Team All-Mideast Region
twice ... The 6-foot-2 catcher was drafted in the first round and No. 30 overall
by the Kansas City Royals last week in the Major League Baseball Draft, and was
also recently named to the Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger and
CollegeBaseballInsider.com All-America second team."
29 July, 2003
Hamels takes the top spot in Josh Boyd's Prospect Hot Sheet, Baseball
... Hamels is capable of pitching with plus velocity, but he sits in the 88-90
mph range and reaches back to get 92-94 when he's ahead in the count. But it's
his changeup that sets up the rest of his arsenal. Hamels keeps hitters off
balance with a devastating 78-81 mph plus-plus changeup that drops off the
table. He sells it with flawless mechanics and maintains the same arm action
from his fastball. Greensboro hitters swung and missed at nearly every changeup
Hamels threw. "He's very polished," an NL scout said. "He's in
the same class as (Zack) Greinke. He has an average fastball with plus command
and a bastard changeup that he throws whenever. And I like his curveball. I
think that it is at least average and will be plus in the future. "He is a
top of the rotation guy, a one or two. To complete the picture, he is almost
Hernandez SEA, one awful game among some gems :
... No alarms sounded when Everett AquaSox pitcher Felix Hernandez struggled on
the mound a week ago. After all, a 17-year-old can be forgiven for some ups and
downs during the season. All signs were pointed skyward for Hernandez on Sunday
... The Venezuelan shut out Tri-City for six innings of the Frogs' 6-3 victory.
Hernandez struck out 10 Dust Devils in his longest outing of the season, more
than shaking off his only loss. Six of the eight earned runs Hernandez has
allowed this season came in the July 21 loss to Eugene. "You don't worry
about him, because he's mentally tough," said left-fielder Josh Ellison,
who drove in Everett's final three runs and recorded four hits in five at bats.
"He doesn't seem like a 17-year-old." Some youngsters might still be
banging their heads full of recent bad memories against the wall, but pitching
coach Gary Wheelock said the taste of failure in Eugene wouldn't stunt
Hernandez's growth. "He has great stuff," Wheelock said. "A guy
that just has average stuff, maybe. I don't really worry about him, because I
know if he throws his curveball and his fastball over for strikes, he's pretty
hard to hit." Hernandez's fastball reached 94 miles per hour on the stadium
radar gun. The Dust Devils, who managed three of their eight hits off Hernandez,
were clueless when he threw off-speed pitches. With Seattle Mariner general
manager Pat Gillick sitting in the stands to observe the Northwest League game,
Hernandez improved to 6-1. Give him a mulligan for his lone loss, and he's 6-0
with a 0.90 earned-run average." (Everett Herald)
Reed continues surprise surge toward a spot on the WSox :
... Hitting .395 over his first 32 games in Double-A, Reed spent the weekend
showing other skills. Playing center field for the Barons, Reed robbed a
Chattanooga Lookout of extra bases with a crashing catch against the wall
Friday, then stole a would-be triple from a Mobile BayBear with a sliding catch
Saturday. "Defensively, he has an above-arm for a center fielder,"
Barons skipper Wally Backman said. "More importantly, he knows how to play
the ball." There's been little question about Reed's offense. He collected
34 hits in his first 68 at-bats as a Baron following a June 18 promotion from
Winston-Salem. If Reed's present looks good, the future should be really
something to see. "He's going to bring a lot to the table," Backman
said. "Just as a hitter, he has great plate discipline. He stays on the
ball. He covers the plate. And he makes adjustments. "His power (three home
runs, 13 RBIs) will only improve." Reed was taken in the second round of
the 2002 draft out of the respected Long Beach program, where players are
affectionately dubbed "Dirt Bags" because of their aggressive,
in-the-dirt style of play. "No question," Backman said, "he was
taught well." (Birmingham News)
Arnold TOR hits the wall. (The National Post)
... Arnold is improving, but he is not ready for prime time, and he is smart
enough to admit it. For the first time in a whirlwind pro career, he is dealing
with adversity. His Syracuse statistics (4-4, with a 4.13 ERA) catalog a mundane
performance, certainly not the level of achievement to which he had become
accustomed. "I hadn't really experienced a lot of failure," Arnold
says while his teammates take infield practice before a game against the Toledo
Mud Hens. "I experienced the other side."
... "I don't think I'm progressing so much," Arnold says. "I'm
not regressing either. Every start's been just kind of blah. Not particularly
bad, but not particularly good." ... Syracuse pitching coach Tom Filer says
Arnold's first priority is to improve the command of his fastball. Given his
other pitches and work ethic, the other pieces already are falling into
... "Jason has been here for one-half of a season," Filer says.
"He has made great progress. His tools are all set. His breaking ball is
turning into a very efficient pitch and he has a fine change-up. His fastball
command is not up to major-league standards, but he's constantly working to keep
the ball down. "From this point to the end of the season, I think we should
see a more refined pitcher." When can Toronto fans expect to see Arnold?
"I would hope sometime next year," Filer says. Ricciardi seems to
agree. He wants Arnold to finish the season in Syracuse, then "try to win a
job out of spring training." The GM does not expect to give Arnold a
September callup. "
30 July, 2003
Keller, SportsTicker, in his month end review selects the top OF prospects, with
labeled as the cream of the crop :
numbers don't jump off the page, but when you consider the whole package he's
the best of a mediocre crop. The 20-year-old started the season as the youngest
hitter in the Eastern League and he has a 6-2, 210-pound frame that should
generate additional power as he matures. Sizemore hits fellow lefties fine, will
take a walk, can run and is a plus defender in center field. He was a
SportsTicker All-Teen Team selection last season and homered and singled in this
year's Futures Game, earning MVP honors."
Among those in the "names you should
... Jeremy Reed
... ,hits for average, draws walks, rarely strikes out and can steal bases with
above average speed. The lefthanded hitter batted .333 at Class A, .396 in his
first 111 Class AA at-bats and .438 with runners in scoring position between the
two stops. He looks like a classic top-of-the-order hitter who's passable in the
... Alexis Rios
... 1999 first-rounder is
emerging in his fifth season of pro ball. The Eastern League's top hitter is
long and lean and will provide more than just doubles in the future. He can run
and is getting more comfortable in center field."
... Jeremy Hermida
... After a slow
start, the 19-year-old has hit .345 since June 1. Considered the best high
school hitter available in the draft last season, the 11th overall pick could be
an awesome force when he starts driving the ball with his 6-4 frame."
Keller has his list of the top guns so far and Joe
Mauer is #1. Three pitchers, none of them Cole Hamels, run 2-3-4 :
... 2. Ervin Santana
20-year-old was 10-2 with a 2.53 ERA with a minor league-leading 130 strikeouts
in the hitting-crazed California League before being summoned to Class AA. He's
long and lean with a power arm and command."
... 3. Gavin Floyd
20-year-old has the ideal frame at 6-5, 210, a mid-90s fastball and an
outstanding curveball to dominate at the major league level. He's given up 15
earned runs in his last 12 starts."
...4. Zack Greinke
19-year-old with command of four plus pitches is the youngest player in the
Texas League since his promotion earlier this month. Greinke dominated the Class
A Carolina League, going 11-1 with a 1.14 ERA and allowing more than two runs
just once in 14 starts."
ranked #6, right after BJ Upton
TB. Scott Kazmir
didn't make the Top 10,
31 July, 2003
Ptak, Cleveland Indians Report, on Fausto Carmona :
... What other words can I use to describe Lake County right-hander Fausto
Carmona that I haven't used before? Brilliant? Sensational? Outstanding? Big
Daddyesque? ... In his last six Sally League appearances (he made one
start for Akron during this timeframe), the 19-year old has posted a 1.04 ERA in
43.2 innings and has walked just TWO batters and allowed just 28 hits. Two
walks, are you freaking kidding me? He has not allowed more than one earned run
in a low-A start since June 18 and he has not walked a batter since June 29 (and
that includes his six innings for Akron on July 10. I can only suspect that
Carmona has been bypassed in favor of Dan Denham and Jake Dittler for a
promotion to Kinston since both of those two were repeating the Sally League.
The Tribe may also want Carmona to experience success and comfort at one level
for an entire season since this is his first full year in the States.
Regardless, Carmona is THE breakout prospect for the Indians this year."
Abramowicz, Newsday, on Mathew Lindstrom NYN :
... For two long years, while other 19- and 20-year-old pitchers were tinkering
with their deliveries and honing their off-speed pitches, Matthew Lindstrom was
in Sweden, nowhere near a baseball field. He carried strangers' groceries. He
helped them build houses. And he never once considered leaving, he said. A
devout Mormon from Rexburg, Idaho, he was in Sweden to fulfill his
religiously-mandated two- year mission. He touched a baseball only twice while
he was there, and when he returned in June of 2001, his fastball had lost its
" ... But after two years spent trying to complete another mission -
rebuilding his arm strength - Lindstrom has become the ace of the Brooklyn
Cyclones' pitching staff. (Monday night) he pitched six superb innings ...
Mixing in a changeup he learned last winter with a sharp curveball and a
fastball that has been clocked at 96 mph ... Lindstrom, 23, allowed four hits
and one unearned run to improve to 5-1. He lowered his earned run average to a
" ... Four years ago, he said, scouts were stunned to learn that he was
leaving for Sweden despite a professional-caliber fastball and a 6-4 body
perfectly suited to pitching." "One scout said, 'Is this
something you really want to do?' " he recalled. "And I said, 'This is
something I want to do my whole life.'"
Rookies 2003 Page Six