Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Go Javelinas!

Peoria Javelinas

The Arizona Fall League games begin October 7th with seven players from the Rays organization participating. All seven are playing for the Peoria Javelinas. The seven are:

Chris MasonChris Mason (pictured) RHRP, age 24
Ryan Reid RHRP, 23
Wade Townsend RHRP, 25
Michael Wlodarczyk LHRP, 25
Matt Spring C, 23
Rhyne Hughes 1B, 25
J.T. Hall OF, 24

Reid is the only real prospect at this point. Here is the schedule link. Updates will follow as the games begin.

2008 League Leaders: Batting

Several Rays minor league batters deserve note for their performances this season. These players were on the Top 10 leaderboards of their respective leagues, with season age in "()".

Fernando PerezDurham Bulls - International League (AAA)
Chris Richard (34) was 6th in G's with 131
Fernando Perez (pic) (25) was 9th (tie) in G's with 129
Fernando Perez (25) was 5th in AB's with 511
Fernando Perez (25) was 2nd in R's with 86
Dan Johnson (28) was 3rd in R's with 85
Chris Richard (34) was 9th (tie) in R's with 82
Fernando Perez (25) was 6th (tie) in H's with 147
Chris Richard (34) was 5th in 2B's with 32
Fernando Perez (25) was 2nd (tie) in 3B's with 11
Chris Richard (34) was 3rd (tie) in HR's with 26
Dan Johnson (28) was 5th (tie) in HR's with 25
Chris Richard (34) was 3rd (tie) in RBI's with 88
Dan JohnsonDan Johnson (pic) (28) was 7th in RBI's with 83
Dan Johnson (28) was 1st in BB's with 84
Fernando Perez (25) was 8th (tie) in BB's with 58
Dan Johnson (28) was 3rd in OBP at .424
Dan Johnson (28) was 5th in SLG at .556
Chris Richard (34) was 7th in SLG at .546
Justin Ruggiano (26) was 9th in SLG at .537
Dan Johnson (28) was 2nd in OPS at .980
Chris Richard (34) was 7th in OPS at .921
Fernando Perez (25) was 3rd (tie) in SB's with 43
Chris Richard (34) was 1st in RC with 101
Dan Johnson (28) was 2nd in RC with 100
Dan Johnson (28) was 2nd in RC/G at 9.23
Chris Richard (34) was 8th in RC/G at 7.83

Gabriel MartinezMontgomery Biscuits - Southern League (AA)
Gabriel Martinez (pic) (25) was 3rd (tie) in G's with 133
Gabriel Martinez (25) was 3rd in AB's with 511
Chris Nowak (25) was 6th (tie) in R's with 80
Gabriel Martinez (25) was 9th (tie) in H's with 141
Chris Nowak (25) was 4th (tie) in 2B's with 35
Ronnie Merrill (29) was 6th (tie) in 3B's with 7
Erold Andrus (23) was 6th (tie) in 3B's with 7
Rashad Eldridge (26) was 10th (tie) in 3B's with 6
Gabriel Martinez (25) was 4th (tie) in HR's with 20
Chris Nowak (25) was 10th (tie) in HR's with 15
Gabriel Martinez (25) was 2nd in RBI's with 93
Chris Nowak (25) was 9th in RBI's with 77
Rashad Eldridge (26) was 10th in BB's with 64
John Jaso (24) was 7th in OBP at .408
Rashad Eldridge (26) was 9th in SB's with 24

Vero Beach Devil Rays - Florida State League (A+)
Matthew Fields (22) was 3rd (tie) in G's with 132
Matthew Fields (22) was 6th in AB's with 482
Cesar Suarez (24) was 8th in AB's with 480
Matthew Fields (22) was 5th in HR's with 18
Pedro Powell (24) was 9th in SB's with 23

Gregory SextonColumbus Catfish - South Atlantic League (A)
Gregory Sexton (pic) (23) was 9th in H's with 144
Gregory Sexton (23) was 7th (tie) in 2B's with 32
Henry Wrigley (21) was 1st in 3B's with 10
Gregory Sexton (23) was 6th (tie) in RBI's with 87
Reid Fronk (21) was 10th in RBI's with 83
Reid Fronk (21) was 1st in BB's with 74
Reid Fronk (21) was 8th in OBP at .398
Reid Fronk (21) was 9th in OPS at .890
Maiko Loyola (22) was 4th in SB's with 45
Reid Fronk (21) was 6th in RC's with 91
Reid Fronk (21) was 10th in RC/G at 7.22

Timothy BeckhamHudson Valley Renegades - New York-Penn League (A-)
Timothy Beckham (pic) (18) was the 8th youngest player
Robi Estrada (19) was 8th (tie) in R's with 42
Anthony Scelfo (21) was 1st in 3B's with 8
Kyeong Kang (20) was 2nd (tie) in 3B's with 7
Kyeong Kang (20) was 7th in RBI's with 43
Jacob Jefferies (20) was 9th (tie) in RBI's with 41
Jason Tweedy (21) was 5th (tie) in BB's with 35
Jacob Jefferies (20) was 9th in BA at .315
Michael Ross (21) was 1st in SB's with 30
Jason Tweedy (21) was 3rd in SB's with 24

Princeton Devil Rays - Appalachian League (R)
Ty Morrison (17) was the 4th youngest player
Timothy Beckham (18) was the 7th youngest player
Luis Marchena (18) was the 10th youngest player
Elias Otero (20) was 8th (tie) in H's with 69
Mayobanex AcostaMayobanex Acosta (pic) (20) was 10th (tie) in 2B's with 14
Elias Otero (20) was 2nd in 3B's with 7
Diogenes Luis (21) was 7th (tie) in 3B's with 4
Burt Reynolds (19) was 7th (tie) in 3B's with 4
Burt Reynolds (19) was 10th (tie) in RBI's with 36
Elias Otero (20) was 6th in BA at .332
Elias Otero (20) was 9th in OBP at .398
Elias Otero (20) was 9th in SLG at .534
Elias Otero (20) was 5th in OPS at .932
Elias Otero (20) was 4th (tie) in RC with 44
Elias Otero (20) was 5th in RC/G at 7.72

DSL Rays - Dominican Summer League (R)
Rubin Contreras (20) was 10th (tie) in 3B's with 5
Cesar Guillen (19) was 2nd in BA at .343

Julio CedenoVSL Rays - Venezuelan Summer League (R)
Julio Cedeno (pic) (18) was 1st in G's with 70
Alejandro Torres (19) was 5th (tie) in G's with 67
Nahum Hernandez (18) was 9th (tie) in G's with 66
Alejandro Torres (19) was 2nd in AB's with 263
Julio Cedeno (18) was 3rd in AB's with 254
Nahum Hernandez (18) was 8th in AB's with 243
Omar Guerra (21) was 2nd in R's with 49
Nahum Hernandez (18) was 4th in R's with 42
Julio Cedeno (18) was 7th (tie) in R's with 38
Alejandro Torres (19) was 9th (tie) in R's with 37
Alejandro Torres (19) was 2nd in H's with 83
Julio Cedeno (18) was 7th in H's with 72
Julio Cedeno (18) was 2nd (tie) in 2B's with 17
Alejandro Torres (19) was 8th (tie) in 2B's with 14
Julio Cedeno (18) was 3rd (tie) in 3B's with 4
Nahum Hernandez (18) was 9th (tie) in 3B's with 3
Jonathan Quinonez (17) was 1st in HR's with 9
Julio Cedeno (18) was 2nd (tie) in HR's with 8
Alejandro TorresAlejandro Torres (pic) (19) was 9th (tie) in HR's with 5
Alejandro Torres (19) was 2nd in RBI's with 43
Jonathan Quinonez (17) was 5th (tie) in RBI's with 41
Julio Cedeno (18) was 7th in RBI's with 37
Nahum Hernandez (18) was 7th (tie) in BB's with 29
Alejandro Torres (19) was 7th in BA at .316
Omar Guerra (21) was 3rd in OBP at .442
Julio Cedeno (18) was 2nd in SLG at .476
Jonathan Quinonez (17) was 9th in SLG at .443
Julio Cedeno (18) was 6th in OPS at .828
Omar Guerra (21) was 6th in SB's with 15
Julio Cedeno (18) was 4th in RC's with 42
Alejandro Torres (19) was 5th in RC's with 40
Omar Guerra (21) was 6th (tie) in RC's with 39
Omar Guerra (21) was 6th in RC/G at 6.71

Monday, September 29, 2008

Vero Beach Prospects - BA FSL Top 20

Jeremy HellicksonOnce again, just one representative for the Rays here. This time, it's Jeremy Hellickson. The RHSP's stats were outstanding with Vero Beach before a mid-season promotion to Montgomery: A 2.00 ERA to go along with an 83:5 strikeout:walk ratio in 76 innings. BA says:

He may have a plus fastball and a sometimes devastating curveball, but the first thing FSL observers mentioned about Hellickson was his savvy. He could just reach back and blow away a lot of hitters, but he was much happier to keep them off balance.

Hellickson's fastball sits between 92-94 mph and he can add a tick more velocity when he needs to. On the days when he was locating his 12-to-6 curveball, he was almost unhittable, though there are games where he'll lose the feel for it and it becomes a harder 11-to-5 breaker. He also believes in his solid low-80s changeup.

Vero Beach's pitching coach, R.C. Lichtenstein also has a quote about his advanced feel for pitching; e.g. he'll throw a changeup in a fastball count, that kind of stuff. There is certainly a lot to like about Hellickson, and about the only flaw you can find is he doesn't have a very projectable body, so he might already be at his ceiling. Even so, for me, Hellickson profiles as a number 2 or 3 starter down the line.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008 American League Eastern Division Champions

Tampa Bay Rays
TeamWinsLossesWin %Games Back
Tampa Bay Rays9664.600--
Boston Red Sox9466.5882.0
New York Yankees8872.5508.0
Toronto Blue Jays8575.53111.0
Baltimore Orioles6792.42128.5

Friday, September 26, 2008

2008 MLE's

Chone Smith ("Rally Monkey") has put together a spreadsheet of all minor league hitters MLE's for 2008 with the following criteria:

"All players who had at least 150 plate appearances combined at levels AAA, AA, and A+. I'm not doing mle translations for low A, or any of the short season or rookie leagues."

And Dan Szymborski has even more MLE's at BBTF, including:

"Everyone from AAA down through Short-Season low-A leagues are included, hitting and pitching."

The spreadsheets are after the links above. For Chone's, if a little box pops up, click 'cancel' and the spreadsheet will open. I'd list some examples of our hitters, but it's too depressing. Okay, one Michael Sheridan (A-) .250/.268/.287. MLE's are fun, and these two guys in particular put in an incredible amount of time developing them. Have fun, but don't put too much weight in them. The further you get from MLB, the less these mean.

Kind of OT: Rocco diagnosed with Mitochondrial Myopathy

There has been a lot of discussion about it online today, often with conflicting reports on what it is, whether it's the same thing as we were told in Spring Training, and what this means for Rocco. It's not MD, but a condition that the MDA covers. This is from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the National Institutes of Health:

What is Mitochondrial Myopathies?
Mitochondrial myopathies are a group of neuromuscular diseases caused by damage to the mitochondria—small, energy-producing structures that serve as the cells' "power plants." Nerve cells in the brain and muscles require a great deal of energy, and thus appear to be particularly damaged when mitochondrial dysfunction occurs. Some of the more common mitochondrial myopathies include Kearns-Sayre syndrome, myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers, and mitochondrial encephalomyopathy with lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes. The symptoms of mitochondrial myopathies include muscle weakness or exercise intolerance, heart failure or rhythm disturbances, dementia, movement disorders, stroke-like episodes, deafness, blindness, droopy eyelids, limited mobility of the eyes, vomiting, and seizures. The prognosis for these disorders ranges in severity from progressive weakness to death. Most mitochondrial myopathies occur before the age of 20, and often begin with exercise intolerance or muscle weakness. During physical activity, muscles may become easily fatigued or weak. Muscle cramping is rare, but may occur. Nausea, headache, and breathlessness are also associated with these disorders.

Is there any treatment?
Although there is no specific treatment for any of the mitochondrial myopathies, physical therapy may extend the range of movement of muscles and improve dexterity. Vitamin therapies such as riboflavin, coenzyme Q, and carnitine (a specialized amino acid) may provide subjective improvement in fatigue and energy levels in some patients.

What is the prognosis?
The prognosis for patients with mitochondrial myopathies varies greatly, depending largely on the type of disease and the degree of involvement of various organs. These disorders cause progressive weakness and can lead to death.

What research is being done?
The NINDS conducts and supports research on mitochondrial myopathies. The goals of this research are to increase scientific understanding of these disorders and to find ways to effectively treat, prevent, or potentially cure them.

Muscular Dystrophy Association

United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spring Training will be 6 days longer in 2009

Rays Spring TrainingMore time to enjoy Port Charlotte (artist's rendition) because of the World Baseball Classic:

"Players will start reporting to training camps on Feb. 14, under an agreement between the players' association and the commissioner's office. Exhibition games will start about Feb. 25.

In most years, pitchers and catchers open workouts 45 days before opening day followed by position players five days later. Under that schedule, workouts would not have begun until Feb. 20.

Under the new schedule, all players on WBC rosters of China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and pitchers and catchers from other WBC teams must report to their major league clubs on Feb. 14, which will be the voluntary report date for all other pitchers, catchers and injured players.

Remaining WBC position players must report by Feb. 17, which will be the voluntary report date for all other major league position players. The mandatory reporting date for non-WBC players was moved up to Feb. 22 from March 5.

"After the '08 Olympics, having some pride for the U.S., having (Michael) Phelps bring all that gold back, baseball players are going to want to jump onboard and represent the U.S," Tampa Bay outfielder Johnny Gomes said."

Rays Instructional League

I mentioned this a month ago, but since the games started on Monday I wanted bring it to everyone's attention again. If you're in the area (games are at the Naimoli Complex) and have any news/updates, please post them in the comments. I've had a couple of people email wanting information.

Preliminary roster:
Pitchers: Wilmer Almonte, Chris Andujar, Kyle Ayers, Nick Barnese, Kevin Chavez, Alex Cobb, Joseph Cruz, Frank de los Santos, Shane Dyer, Bradley Furdal, Matt Gorgen, Kyle Lobstein, Jason McEachern, Matthew Moore, David Newmann, Robinson Reyes, Neil Schenk, Trevor Schull, Shawn Smith, Juan Wilsino

Julio CedenoCatchers: Mayobanex Acosta, Nevin Ashley, Jake Jefferies, Mike McCormick, Mark Thomas, Alejandro Torres

Infielders: Tim Beckham, Julio Cedeno (pictured), Juan Cuello, Matt Fields, Shawn O’Malley, Elias Otero, Burt Reynolds, Greg Sexton, Mike Sheridan, Jason Tweedy

Outfielders: Brian Bryles, Reid Fronk, Kyeong Kang, Ty Morrison, Ramon Novas, Ryan Royster

Rehab: Desmond Jennings, Will Kline, Jake McGee, Emeel Salem, Anthony Scelfo, Raymon Silfa, Albert Suarez

Schedule (games start at 1 p.m. unless noted):
Sept. 22: Pirates at Rays
Sept. 24: Phillies at Rays (at Tropicana Field)
Sept. 26: Rays at Yankees
Sept. 27: Pirates at Rays (10 a.m.)
Sept. 29: Pirates at Rays
Sept. 30: Rays at Phillies
Oct. 2: Rays at Blue Jays
Oct. 3: Phillies at Rays
Oct. 4: Rays at Pirates (10 a.m.)
Oct. 6: Rays at Phillies
Oct. 7: Phillies at Rays
Oct. 9: Rays at Phillies
Oct. 10: Phillies at Rays (10 a.m.)

Columbus Prospects - BA SAL Top 20

RHSP Alex Cobb (pictured) was the only Catfish player to make the list, checking in at #16:

Alex Cobb
Cobb wasn't the flashiest pitcher in the league, but he made an impression by getting ahead of hitters and inducing groundballs. His 88-91 mph fastball has sink and deception, and he commands his 11-to-5 curveball well enough to throw it in any count. His splitter is a decent offering that he employs as a changeup.

They also cite his good feel for pitching and mound presence as reasons he could make it in the majors someday. Cobb was the Rays 4th round pick out of Vero Beach HS in 2006.

EDIT by Doug: Kevin beat me to it, so I'll just add his pic and say will Jesse Darcy ever get love? I'm not as high on Cobb as some other people are, so I won't argue with him being #16. Looking at the names on the list, we were lucky to get Cobb named. I'm looking forward to Cobb, Darcy, Garcia and Hinkle in Port Charlotte next year.

EDIT by Kevin: Not to start a debate here, but I just wanted to say that I'm higher on Cobb than most. I like the athleticism and I think he's a candidate for a velocity jump in 2009. He doesn't have a great projectable body, but I could see him working 92-94 with a plus curveball and good control.

EDIT by Doug: Debate is great. It's the low SO rate that worries me, and HR rate was high this year. But he is young, '08 was his age 20 season. Here are Cobb's career numbers since we're discussing him:

'08 Columbus (A)2525139.23.294.404.
'07 Hudson Valley (A-)161681.13.543.613.586.
'06 Princeton (R)619.05.006.766.718.

And a question from the chat:
Q: Ian from Georgetown PA asks: What was the main reason for Glenn Gibson not living up to the hype in Columbus this season?

A: Bill Ballew: The Rays were very high on Gibson entering this season, but he simply did not pitch very well. He walked a lot of guys by trying to be too fine at times, and when he did get the ball across the plate, batters hit the ball with consistency. The Rays aren't giving up on him, but his stock has dropped since this time last year.

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Strikeout to Walk Ratio

Omar Bencomo
Bencomo, Omar (pictured)19.6VSL18.3
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL8.5
Ayers, Kyle19.0R8.3
Hellickson, Jeremy21.4A+, AA8.1
Gorgen, Matthew21.6A-7.0
Bagley, Jamie21.2R, A-6.7
Darcy, Jesse23.3A6.5
Suarez, Albert18.9R5.3
Rodriguez, Wilking18.5VSL4.8
Schenk, Neil22.3A-4.8
Cruz, Joseph20.2R4.4
Luck, Chris19.2R4.4
Rollins, Heath23.3A+, AA4.2
Moore, Matthew19.3R4.1
Talbot, Mitch24.9AAA4.0

For a frame of reference, here are the overall league SO/BB ratios for the higher levels: International League = 2.3, Southern League = 1.9, Florida State League = 2.1, South Atlantic League =2.5. Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Others: IP, ERA, FIP, DIPS, BB/9, H/9, SO, SO/9

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Talbot in 2008

Updated, including tonight's start:
Durham (AAA)2828161.03.863.032.997.
Tampa Bay (MLB)217.18.598.527.624.97.413.52.5

EDIT by Doug: From his first start Tuesday night: his fastball averaged 91.7, topped out at 94. The first chart below is the Strikezone Plot from Brooks Baseball and the second is Pitch Speed (all pitches, not just fastballs):Mitch Talbot
Mitch Talbot

What to expect: Mitch Talbot

David Price made his highly-anticipated first start last night, and tonight another Rays prospect gets that shot: Mitch Talbot, who will be starting the second game of the doubleheader with Baltimore.

Talbot has appeared in one game this year, the 13-5 drubbing the Rays took at the hands on Boston on September 15th. Talbot didn't exactly help the cause, allowing 4 earned runs in 3 innings, including two home runs. Though in his defense, just about everybody was hitting home runs off Rays pitching that night.

Talbot spent the whole year at Durham(besides a 1-day call-up in August in which he did not make an appearance) and struggled greatly with his consistency from start to start in the first half of the year. He would look great one start and then just completely self-destruct the next. He finished with a rather pedestrian 4.64 ERA before the All-Star break, despite a promising 86-17 K-BB rate.

In the second half, Talbot seemed to pull everything together. Over his last 10 starts spanning 57 innings, he put up a 2.05 ERA, struck out 61, and walked 18. In one 6-start stretch, he allowed a total of 5 earned runs. Opponents hit just .241 off him in the second half, compared to .272 in the first half.

Talbot's scouting report has always been that he features a deep repertoire, but his change-up is his best secondary offering, having been named best in his team's system 4 years running(twice with Houston, twice with Tampa Bay). He also features different kinds of breaking balls and can cut his fastball.

In his appearance with Boston, he was basically getting beaten on his fastball. In his first inning of work, the two hits he allowed(Pedroia single and Youkilis HR) were on the fastball. Conversely, he got David Ortiz to ground into a fielder's choice on a slider, Lowell to ground out on a cutter, and he struck out Bay by throwing him four consecutive curveballs. He threw first-pitch strikes to all four hitters he faced that inning.

His second inning of work, he came out throwing fastballs but struggled to locate to Lowrie, walking him. He fell behind Varitek 3-0 before coming back and inducing a double-play ground ball. Then Ellsbury homered(a first-pitch fastball, just like Youkilis), he walked Crisp before getting Pedroia to fly out. It was more of the same his third inning of work.

So... what does this mean for tonight? Well, it's tough to say what exactly happened that first outing. He walked three guys, but he was getting ahead for the most part. He got beat twice for a home run on a first-pitch fastball that he laid over the plate. Both of his strikeouts were on breaking pitchers(Bay on the curveball, Varitek on a slider). He struggled to command his changeup, throwing it in the first a few times but also leaving it too high once(Youkilis hit it for a double).

For tonight, he needs to shore up command of his fastball and change. He can't lay fastballs over the plate and get away with it here, they need to be on the corners. He needs to work down in the zone with it effectively to set up the change-up. The change should be a very good weapon against lefties, but he can't over-rely on it or it's going to get figured out. I thought he actually did a pretty decent job mixing in the breaking pitches against Boston.

His curveball showed surprising bite and could be a put-away pitch. Things working in his favor: He gets ahead in the count, he's gotten the first appearance out of the way, and the Orioles aren't the Red Sox. Talbot has the stuff to pitch very effectively, he just has to locate better than he did against Boston.

Complete guess for how he does tonight: 6.1 innings, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Monday, September 22, 2008

Price in 2008

Updated, including tonight's start:
Vero Beach (A+)6634.21.821.671.929.
Montgomery (AA)9957.01.893.923.808.
Durham (AAA)4418.04.502.813.028.54.511.00.0
Tampa Bay (MLB)3111.12.383.553.677.

EDIT by Doug: From his first start Monday night: his fastball averaged 93.3, topped out at 96. The first chart below is the Strikezone Plot from Brooks Baseball (link has all Price's charts from 9/22) and the second is Pitch Speed (all pitches, not just fastballs):David Price
David Price

Organizational Park Factors

I've been spending way too much time calculating the organization's minor league park factors. I want them to help us look at the environment our prospects have played in. Dan Szymborski at BBTF has saved a ton of work (I'm not even through Hudson Valley yet) with his 2008 Minor League Park Multipliers.

One-year multipliers:
Durham (AAA)
Montgomery (AA)
Vero Beach (A+)1.050.991.
Columbus (A)0.980.990.991.170.971.02
Hudson Valley (A-)1.070.961.050.751.041.08

Three-year multipliers:
Durham (AAA)
Montgomery (AA)
Vero Beach (A+)
Columbus (A)0.980.980.981.090.991.02
Hudson Valley (A-)1.020.991.040.871.011.10

Outliers are bolded. Since I can't vouch for the accuracy, I'll probably keep doing my own project, but I will say Dan has always done fine work in the past. This should give you an accurate idea of the kind of parks where our minor leaguers play.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Price will make his first start Monday in Baltimore

More great news, Talbot will make his first start Tuesday, also in Baltimore:

"[David] Price will take the rotation turn of right-hander Matt Garza, who tossed Wednesday night's game on shortened rest, and will be followed by James Shields and rookie Mitch Talbot in Tuesday's doubleheader....

The move is two-fold for the Rays, as the club will get to see Price in regular-season action and Garza will be able to get a lengthy recovery. [Manager Joe] Maddon said Garza will get his next start as scheduled, which would be Saturday's game in Detroit.

Although Price has been pitching out of the Rays' bullpen since his callup on Sept. 13, Maddon said he will hold the young lefty to a pretty standard 100-pitch count on Monday night.

Fellow rookie Talbot will also be making his first Major League start in the Rays' second game on Tuesday, as Maddon also liked the way the right-hander has performed against lefty-heavy lineups like the Orioles."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rays 2008 Minor League Awards

Fernando PerezFrom the press release: The Tampa Bay Rays today named outfielder Fernando Perez Minor League Player of the Year and left-handed pitcher David Price Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The Rays also announced the 2008 players and pitchers of the year for each of their eight minor league affiliates.

By affiliate, with details on the DSL and VSL guys you may not know much about:

Durham Bulls
Player of the Year: INF Dan Johnson
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Mitch Talbot

Montgomery Biscuits
Player of the Year: INF Chris Nowak
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Wade Davis

David PriceVero Beach Devil Rays
Player of the Year: OF Ryan Royster
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Jeremy Hellickson

Columbus Catfish
Player of the Year: OF Reid Fronk
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Jesse Darcy

Hudson Valley Renegades
Player of the Year: OF Kyeong Kang
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Nick Barnese

Princeton Rays
Player of the Year: INF Elias Otero
Pitcher of the Year: LHP Matt Moore

Dominican Summer League
Player of the Year: OF Cesar Guillen
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Juan Wilsino

Cesar Guillen, 19, led the Rays Dominican team with a .343 batting average (3rd in the DSL) and led the league with 70 hits. He led his team in almost every other offensive category including slugging (.461), on-base percentage (.407), doubles (14), and RBI (36). He stole 14 bases which was 3rd best on the team and was tied for 3rd with two home runs.

Juan Wilsino, 19, went 3-1 with a team-leading 2.04 ERA for the Rays DSL squad. His three wins tied him for 2nd best on the team. In his 11 starts he pitched a team-high 57.1 innings while striking out 38 (T-2nd on team) and walked 11.

Venezuelan Summer League
Player of the Year: C Alejandro Torres
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Deivis Mavares

Alejandro Torres, 19, led the Rays Venezuelan team with a .316 average (5th in the VSL), 83 hits (2nd in VSL), and 43 RBI (2nd in VSL). He was 2nd on the team with 14 doubles and 3rd on the team with five home runs and a .359 on-base pct.

Deivis Mavares, 22, made 27 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rays Venezuelan Summer League team. He went 5-2 with a 1.48 ERA. His five wins were tied for the team-high. He struck out 62 and walked 17 in 48.2 innings (11.5 SO/9 IP). He allowed 30 hits and only 11 runs (eight earned) in the season. He went 6-for-9 in save opportunities.

Matt SpringAnd finally, Montgomery's Matt Spring (pictured after late-season promotion) has been named the winner of the second annual Erik Walker Community Champion Award. The award recognizes a Rays minor league player who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement, attributes exhibited by Rays minor league pitcher Erik Walker, who died tragically in October 2006 in a canoeing accident.

Each of the Rays six minor league affiliates nominated a candidate for the award. Nominees embodied the qualities of Erik, recognized as someone who was a great teammate, a caring person and who enriched the lives of people in need and inspired others to do the same. The other five finalists were: Josh Johnson (Durham), Chuck Tiffany (Vero Beach), Stephen Vogt (Columbus), Tyler Hauschild (Hudson Valley) and Joey Dettrich (Princeton).

Hudson Valley Prospects - BA NY-P Top 20

Only one Hudson Valley (A-) player was named to BA's New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects.

Our 3rd round pick in the 2007 draft, Nick Barnese, was named the NY-P's #9 prospect:

Nick Barnese
"Barnese established a reputation as a strike-thrower in his pro debut last year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, posting a dazzling 37-4 K-BB ratio in 36 innings. He continued to pound the zone but was even more dominating this summer as a 19-year-old in the NY-P, striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings.

Barnese's biggest strength is his excellent command of a low-90s fastball with outstanding life down in the zone. He has a loose arm action and a projectable 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame, suggesting he could add velocity as he matures. He has an aggressive, unflappable mound demeanor and isn't afraid to attack hitters on the inner half.

His breaking ball is also a quality offering, with good depth and late break. Barnese made progress with his changeup this summer, and it projects as a third average-or-better pitch."

If Barnese is only 8th, it's not surprising no one else from HV made it. I would have liked to see our 6th rounder in the June draft, RHSP Shane Dyer, make it, but it would be a tough argument because the NY-P was loaded this year. To see stats on all of Hudson Valley's pitchers see our Hudson Valley season in review: Pitching.

From the chat about this list:

"Q: JAYPERS from IL asks: Where would you rank Barnese amongst the bevy of other well-known top Rays young arms, such as Price, Davis, McGee, Hellickson, Cobb, etc? Also, what timetable are the Rays setting for him?

A: Aaron Fitt: I like Barnese a lot, but I would rank him behind that group of more advanced prospects, just because he's farther away. He also does not have the upside of the Price/Davis/McGee/Hellickson group. I see him more as a No. 3 or No. 4, whereas you could really project those other guys as having top half of the rotation upside."
Danny's not the only one interested in Jacob Jefferies:
"Q: JAYPERS from IL asks: Did Jacob Jeffries get consideration for this list? His plate discipline seems to stand out the most, but what about his other tools? Jacob Jefferies

A: Aaron Fitt: His plate discipline has always been his biggest asset -- he was one of the toughest hitters in the nation to strike out this spring at UC Davis. He's a really soft hitter, though, who hit a lot of balls between shortstop and the left-field line. It was hard to get a feel for his defense this summer, because he DHed a lot more than he caught, but he had a reputation as an average catch-and-throw guy in college, with a fringe-average arm. Scouts were not impressed with his arm this summer."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Five enter Princeton's Record Book

Princeton (R) has updated it's franchise record book, five 2008 players have been added:

"First Baseman Eli Sonoqui, a three-year veteran of wearing the Princeton colors, has seen some numbers accumulate for him over his stay in Princeton and will be joining the record book in three different career categories. With his total of 118 career games played for Princeton, only two players in team history have taken the field for action more times than Sonoqui. The 6'2", 200lb. resident of Phoenix, AZ also is now fourth all-time in team history in career at-bats with 419 and fifth in career hits with 108.

Catcher Mayo Acosta, who has been behind the plate for the P-Rays for the past two seasons, is now fourth in team history with 24 career doubles. The other 2008 P-Rays' position player that will be joining the mentions is second baseman Elias Otero, whose name will be listed with the other 25 Princeton players that have previously been named as an Appalachian League All-Star. Otero was the only Princeton player to be named to the league's honor squad in 2008 and was the first Princeton player to be named as a league all-star since catcher Nevin Ashley in 2006.

On the pitching side of the ledger, Sam Mullins of the 1992 & 1993 Princeton Reds has stood alone as the franchise's career leader in career pitching victories with nine. That is until now as he has been tied by Chris Luck, who logged three victories for the 2007 P-Rays and was undefeated this past season in six decisions. Also, pitcher Matt Moore, who has also seen action for Princeton each of the last two seasons, is now second all-time for the franchise by administering 106 career strikeouts."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Princeton Prospects - BA Appy Top 20

Three Princeton (R) players were named to BA's Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects.

The number one overall pick in June's draft, SS Tim Beckham was named the Appy's #1 prospect:Tim Beckham

"An outstanding athlete, Beckham has plus hitter's hands, solid pitch recognition and the bat speed to turn around quality fastballs. As he matures, he also should add average power, though he's already solidly built and doesn't project to be much more than an average runner. Beckham is an above-average defender with major league actions at short. His arm is above-average and he gets rid of the ball quickly. As the season wore on, he improved in getting his feet behind him on throws to first base."

Our 8th round pick in the 2007 draft, LHSP Matt Moore was the #3 prospect:

"With easy 92-94 mph velocity (and the ability to touch 95) from the left side and a tight, late-breaking curveball, Moore offers true top-of-the-rotation potential. He also fine-tuned his changeup, which runs away from righthanders. Add in plus makeup and competitiveness, and Moore has established himself as one of Tampa Bay's brighter pitching prospects."

And the #9 prospect is RHSP Albert Suarez, who signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2006, out of Venezuela:

"With a projectable 6-foot-2, 186-pound frame and a clean arm stroke, Suarez has drawn comparisons to countryman Freddy Garcia. His repeatable delivery features terrific downhill plane, and he walked just seven batters in 11 appearances. His curveball has above-average potential but is inconsistent. He also showed aptitude for a changeup that he began throwing in extended spring training, but it also needs refinement."

Notable omission: RHSP Joseph Cruz

No time to do an indepth review, but I think it's a fair list. Suarez and Cruz are the only surprises. We'll be rolling out our own Top 20-something lists for pitchers and position players in the coming weeks. To see stats on all of Princeton's pitchers see our Princeton season in review: Pitching.

[EDIT 1:45 by Kevin]: Just chiming in with my quick thoughts here: Obviously we know what Tim Beckham brings to the table. I could not be more excited about Matt Moore right now after reading that report. 93 from the left side with a decent breaking ball and change? Sign me up. Suarez sounds like someone to keep an eye on, particularly with that control that's rare for guys his age.

My early guess is that Beckham and Moore begin 2009 with our low-A affiliate, Bowling Green, while Suarez heads to Hudson Valley. Moore was held back in Princeton already, so if we play it slow with him and send him to HV, I'll be disappointed.

[EDIT 2:30 by Doug]: From the chat about this list:

"Q: Ben from Leland Grove asks: With Beckham on the way up, should Brignac be nervous in the coming years, or do you see him as potential trade bait?

A: Matt Eddy: Interesting question, but thankfully for the Rays, it's one they won't have to address for two and a half or three years, when Beckham's minor league apprenticeship ends. By that time, the organization will have a better handle on Brignac's major league potential. More on Brignac when we get to the International League . . .

Matt Eddy: If both Beckham and Brignac develop as expected with the bat, then one of them could shift to another infield position. But that's the beauty of up-the-middle players -- often they can slide down the defensive spectrum to less demanding positions."

"Q: Swig from Boise, ID asks: How good can Matt Moore be? I've heard Scott Kazmir comparisons. Is that type of a ceiling possible for this kid?

A: Matt Eddy: Moore's pitching style compares favorably with Kazmir's, in that both lefties feature power fastballs and hard breaking balls. Moore is more physical, at 6-2, 205, but each of Kazmir's pitches is at least a grade higher.

Matt Eddy: With his mid-90s heat and hard breaker, Moore has top-of-the-rotation potential, but he's so far away that you may want to hold off on the Kazmir comps for now. Remember, Kazmir carved up the New York-Penn League in his debut; he didn't need to repeat the Appy League, as Moore did."

"Q: Doug A. Milhoan from North Canton, OH asks: I was surprised you chose Albert Suarez over his Princeton teammate Joseph Cruz. Thoughts on Cruz?

A: Matt Eddy: That's a fair question. It's easier to dream on Suarez because he's young, projectable and already shows advanced command. For his part, Cruz gets real good extension on his pitches, as he has long arms, and he throws his fastball up to 94 mph. He's a plus competitor who has a strong feel for his changeup, but his breaking ball needs refinement."
[EDIT 5:40 by Doug]: Well, I'm a fair guy. Ages: Suarez 18.9, Cruz 20.1. Cruz was drafted in the 30th round of the 2007 draft out of East Los Angeles Junior College and is repeating the Appy this year (only 9 IP in 2007). One more:
"Q: Steve from Orlando asks: Does Matt Moore compare to Jake McGee at the same age?

A: Matt Eddy: Moore already has "more" advanced feel for his secondary stuff, particularly his breaking ball, than McGee did. McGee's fastball is a tick better, however."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Sorry for the lack of posts. The remnants of Ike blew through Ohio Sunday afternoon and knocked out power to 500,000. Both my home and office have no electricity, water, phone or cable. They estimate power will be back on by Sunday, but I've seen major roads closed that they haven't even started on so it may be much longer. Luckily, the family is safe, just a little grimy and irritable.

I had a couple of interesting articles researched and ready to write, but that will have to wait. If any of you see any news items or would like to write an article about one of our minor leaguers, please post it here in the comments. Kind of a site within a site until things get back to normal. I appreciate your understanding and any content you can add in my absence.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hudson Valley wins award

This will probably be our last Hudson Valley post for a while, but congratulations:

"Every season hundreds of minor league ball clubs attempt to come up with the wackiest, craziest and most bizarre promotion they can think of in hopes of leaving a lasting impression on their fans. This year the Renegades did just that with "Born in the USA" night. "Born in the USA" night received the 2008 Veeckies Award as the top promotion in Minor League Baseball, courtesy of ESPN the Magazine.

On July 1st Pedro Risso, a native of Portugal, competed against three American citizens for the chance to have the Renegades fund the cost of his naturalization.

Risso competed in five on field games; an apple pie eating contest, the Boston-three party (a tribute to the Boston Tea Party), the British are coming (a twist on Paul Revere's ride), a corn chucking contest and a quiz with questions from the U.S. citizenship test.

Risso needed to score 13 total points throughout the contests, earning three points for a first-place finish and two points for a second-place finish. He competed against three American citizens and despite his unbelievable effort came up three points short.
"This is truly an honor to receive the 2008 Veeckies top award as best promotion of the year," said General Manager Eben Yager. "Being recognized on a national level raises the bar for next season, so make sure to check us out in 2009. I'm feeling a repeat."

About the Veeckies:
The Veeckies are named after late promotions-genius Bill Veeck. Veeck was known for many promotional innovations including sending the 3'7" Eddie Gaedel to the plate with the St. Louis Browns, orchestrating "Grandstand Day" where fans decided the managerial decisions and installing the first ever exploding scoreboard."

David Price 2008, by level

Vero Beach (A+)6634.21.821.671.929.
Montgomery (AA)9957.01.893.923.808.
Durham (AAA)4418.04.502.813.028.54.511.00.0

Excellent article on Price's mechanics over at Driveline Mechanics. Quick summary:

"Tempo: Price is 20-21 frames from maximal leg lift into footplant. That's a bit slow, but he is a big boy. I give him an Average grade."

"I grade his Arm Action as Excellent."

"I grade his ball release / followthrough phase as Excellent."

Durham's season over

Durham lost big to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to end their season:

"The Yankees jumped on the Durham Bulls early and often for a 20-2 win and then jumped on top of each other at the pitcher's mound to celebrate the franchise's first Governors' Cup title in its 20-year Triple-A history. The Yankees claimed the best-of-five International League championship series 3-1.

Every Yankees starter had a hit for a team total of 18. Yankees shortstop and No. 9 hitter Chris Basak was 4-for-4 with two doubles, two walks and four runs."

Then came the good news:

"After the game, [Bulls manager Charlie] Montoyo informed Mitch Talbot, Johnny Gomes, Jeff Niemann and Minor League Player of the Year David Price that they were being called up by the Tampa Bay Rays, who are fighting for their first American League playoff berth."


"Gomes and Price will report to the Rays on Saturday; Talbot and Niemann will join the Rays in St. Petersburg on Monday.

Price last pitched Tuesday, "so he'll be available [for bullpen duty Saturday]," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "But obviously, with him not having much experience in the bullpen, it'll be something that we may approach a little differently. But as far as the particulars of the Price rules, it's too early to give any direction there. But tomorrow, he will be available to pitch in relief."

The plan is for all three pitchers to be used out of the bullpen.

"All three guys don't have much experience in the bullpen," Friedman said. "We're going to come up with something that we feel like works. We're fortunate it's September and we have a lot of options down there. We're going to think through it on all three guys.""

Friday, September 12, 2008

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Highest Strikeouts per 9

Matthew Gorgen
Gorgen, Matthew (pictured)21.6A-13.7
Hinkle, Austin22.3A12.9
Moore, Matthew19.2R12.8
Schenk, Neil22.2A-12.6
Long, Matthew23.9R, A-11.5
Mavares, Deivis21.9VSL11.5
Barnese, Nick19.7A-11.5
Reid, Ryan23.3A+, AA11.4
Satow, Joshua22.7A-11.3
Jarman, Michael23.3R10.9
Bagley, Jamie21.1R, A-10.9
Rafferty, Thomas23.6A-10.9
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL10.8
Cruz, Joseph20.1R10.3
Lara, Braulio19.7DSL10.3

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Strikeouts

Jeremy Hellickson
Hellickson, Jeremy (pictured)21.4A+, AA162
Talbot, Mitch24.8AAA141
Rollins, Heath23.3A+, AA138
Davis, Wade23.0AA, AAA136
Niemann, Jeff25.5AAA128
Price, David23.0A+, AA, AAA109
Mann, Brandon24.3A+103
Reid, Ryan23.3A+, AA98
Darcy, Jesse23.2A98
Cobb, Alex20.9A97
Mason, Chris24.2AAA90
Barnese, Nick19.7A-84
Hall, Jeremy24.9A83
Morse, Ryan25.3A+80
Garcia, Justin21.7A78

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Lowest Hits per 9

Justin Garcia
Gorgen, Matthew21.6A-2.7
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL4.1
Moore, Matthew19.2R5.0
Garcia, Justin (pictured)21.7A5.1
Mavares, Deivis21.9VSL5.5
Jarman, Michael23.3R6.1
McEachern, Jason17.9R6.1
Hinkle, Austin22.3A6.2
Jasco, Joselo19.9DSL6.3
Reid, Ryan23.3A+, AA6.4
Lopez, Kevin19.8VSL6.5
Houser, James23.7AA6.6
Niemann, Jeff25.5AAA6.8
Wilsino, Juan19.4DSL6.9
Molina, Alberto17.2DSL7.0

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Lowest Walks per 9

Omar Bencomo
Bencomo, Omar (pictured)19.6VSL0.4
Ayers, Kyle19.0R0.8
Darcy, Jesse23.2A1.0
Hellickson, Jeremy21.4A+, AA1.2
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL1.3
Suarez, Albert18.9R1.4
Monegro, Jose18.4DSL1.5
Bagley, Jamie21.1R, A-1.6
Wilsino, Juan19.4DSL1.7
Rollins, Heath23.3A+, AA1.8
Gorgen, Matthew21.6A-2.0
Talbot, Mitch24.8AAA2.0
Boggan, Kevin23.3A2.0
Luck, Chris19.2R2.0
Rodriguez, Wilking18.5VSL2.0

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Lowest DIPS

Austin Hinkle
Moore, Matthew19.2R1.62
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL1.78
Jarman, Michael23.3R1.90
Mavares, Deivis21.9VSL1.90
Gorgen, Matthew21.6A-1.98
Barnese, Nick19.7A-2.17
Schenk, Neil22.2A-2.19
Hinkle, Austin (pictured)22.3A2.29
Rafferty, Thomas23.6A-2.32
Satow, Joshua22.7A-2.32
Reid, Ryan23.3A+, AA2.35
Perez, Elvin22.5DSL2.55
Bencomo, Omar19.6VSL2.61
Wilsino, Juan19.4DSL2.62
Garcia, Justin21.7A2.71

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Lowest FIP

Neil Schenk
Moore, Matthew19.2R1.64
Jarman, Michael23.3R1.78
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL1.79
Barnese, Nick19.7A-1.99
Schenk, Neil (pictured)22.2A-2.04
Gorgen, Matthew21.6A-2.07
Satow, Joshua22.7A-2.16
Reid, Ryan23.3A+, AA2.19
Hinkle, Austin22.3A2.24
Rafferty, Thomas23.6A-2.38
Mavares, Deivis21.9VSL2.44
Perez, Elvin22.5DSL2.50
Garcia, Justin21.7A2.72
Bencomo, Omar19.6VSL2.74
Wilsino, Juan19.4DSL2.76

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."


Lots of talk today about whether David Price has been called up. I have found no confirmation. Marc Topkin's take:

"MT: Gus is questioning the Rays' "sense of urgency" in not bringing up David Price yet to pitch out of the bullpen, but I don't agree with that. Price is in his first pro season, and though he dominated at the Class A and AA levels, he has not done so at Triple-A. So it is not anywhere close to automatic that he would dominate in the majors, or even be successful. Plus, he is not used to being a reliever and hasn't done it, so that would also be a big transtition. All that said, I think you will see him up here soon, and that in the "right" situation, when they can get him ready without rushing, he could pitch in relief. And there is, as I wrote the other day, a good chance he could start the second game of the Sept. 23 doubleheader in Baltimore."

And on other callups:

"MT: Triple-A Durham won last night, so the Bulls' best-of-five championship series will continue to at least tonight. The Rays would seem likely to add at least a couple more players - OF Jonny Gomes, LHP David Price and maybe RHP Jeff Niemann or RHP Mitch Talbot. INF Elliot Johnson could be another. If Durham loses tonight, I think you'd see at least a couple of them on Saturday (though it's a 1 p.m. game) or Sunday. And for sure Monday at the Trop."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Lowest ERA

Joshua Satow
Liriano, Nelson20.8DSL0.32
Satow, Joshua (pictured)22.7A-1.23
McEachern, Jason17.9R1.44
Mavares, Deivis21.9VSL1.48
Jarman, Michael23.3R1.52
Moore, Matthew19.2R1.66
Frontz, Neal24.4A+, AA1.82
Gorgen, Matthew21.6A-1.96
Wilsino, Juan19.4DSL2.04
Luck, Chris19.2R2.25
Perez, Elvin22.5DSL2.27
Price, David23.0A+, AA, AAA2.30
Barnese, Nick19.7A-2.45
Garcia, Justin21.7A2.49
Hinkle, Austin22.3A2.51

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Organizational Pitching Leaders: Innings Pitched

Heath Rollins
Rollins, Heath (pictured)23.3A+, AA161.1
Talbot, Mitch24.8AAA161.0
Davis, Wade23.0AA, AAA160.2
Hellickson, Jeremy21.4A+, AA152.0
Cobb, Alex20.9A139.2
Darcy, Jesse23.2A133.0
Niemann, Jeff25.5AAA133.0
Morse, Ryan25.3A+132.0
Mann, Brandon24.3A+130.2
Flores, Brian23.7A118.0
Price, David23.0A+, AA, AAA109.2
Mason, Chris24.2AAA108.2
Ragan, Jason25.8A108.0
Hall, Jeremy24.9A105.1
Gibson, Glenn20.9A, A-100.1
Lot of innings for Hellickson and Cobb at their ages.

Note: Minimum 20 IP for rate stats and only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Durham season in review: Pitching

Durham won their division with a 74-70 record and once again made the playoffs. Here is a look at the final pitching stats sorted by IP:

Talbot, Mitch24.82828161.03.863.032.997.
Davis, Wade23.02828160.23.473.953.817.
Niemann, Jeff25.52424133.03.593.983.968.
Price, David23.01919109.22.303.
Mason, Chris24.23317108.
DeBarr, Nick25.050078.04.735.
Medlock, Calvin25.841063.04.574.904.915.

In the debate over who should be in Tampa, Talbot usually loses out to Davis and Niemann. But FIP & DIPS liked Talbot a lot better than the other two, and even a tad better than Price.

Note: In these reviews, pitchers are listed with the affiliate they finished the year and the stats are for the full season. I will break out stats by level for each player in the upcoming Top Prospects articles. Also, only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Previous seasons in review:
Montgomery, Vero Beach, Columbus, Hudson Valley, Princeton, DSL, VSL

Teaching Latin players English

Tony Lastoria authors an excellent blog on the Indians minor league system at Cleveland Indians Minor League Insider. In his latest article he discusses how the Indians have an organized English program for their Latin players:

"I had a unique opportunity this past week to speak with a former English instructor at the Indians spring training complex in Winter Haven. The Indians are one of the few teams in baseball that have an organized English program. Almost all of the Latin players come to spring training with a basic or beginner level of English, some are even better, and the average player who attends classes is very good at communicating in English. Many of the Latin players attend one of the Indians baseball academies in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic where they also have to attend English classes before coming stateside to spring training.

English classes start in spring training for any player that needs to learn the language and the classes continue throughout the year for those that remain in extended spring training. Classes are held three to four times a week and for two hours in the evening. Players take the classes seriously and the instructors keep them interesting by making them fun since players are attending these classes after playing baseball all day. Instructors know that the players would get bored easily if they were just presented with grammar rules or they made them listen and repeat. The main goal is for the players to be able to communicate and understand the other players and coaches on the team who speak English. In addition, the players also have seminars in cultural issues and how the United States government works, etc since the Indians want to develop the players as more well rounded people than just baseball players."

Curious why only a "few" teams have such a program. I would think speaking English would be tremendous asset once the players reach the states, not just for baseball-related activities, but for daily life. I'll try to find out whether the Rays are one of the "few." Make sure to check out Tony's site, it is the best blog covering any team's minor league system I know of.

Montgomery season in review: Pitching

Montgomery finished the 1st half 34-36, 6.0 out of first in the Southern League. They stayed around .500 in the second half finishing with a 35-34 record, 8.0 games out. Here is a look at the final pitching stats sorted by IP:

Rollins, Heath23.32725161.13.243.573.577.
Hellickson, Jeremy21.42727152.02.963.463.439.
Houser, James23.7202094.12.864.424.
De Los Santos, Richard24.3141279.03.423.903.914.
McGee, Jacob22.1151577.23.944.
Reid, Ryan23.352077.12.912.192.3511.
Frontz, Neal24.455074.11.823.503.316.
Morlan, Eduardo22.530047.03.643.823.718.

It will be interesting to see if Rollins or Hellickson makes the Durham rotation to start next year. Assuming Price makes the Rays out of spring training, that's one opening. And please don't tell me Jeremy Cummings (age 31) is going to block any of our top starting pitching prospects.

Note: In these reviews, pitchers are listed with the affiliate they finished the year and the stats are for the full season. For example, Price will be in the Durham review with stats from all levels combined. I will break out stats by level for each player in the upcoming Top Prospects articles. Also, only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Previous seasons in review:
Vero Beach, Columbus, Hudson Valley, Princeton, DSL, VSL

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vero Beach season in review: Pitching

Vero Beach finished the 1st half 34-35, 7.5 out of first in the FSL. They had a horrible second half, finishing in last place with a 20-46 record, 20.0 games out. Here is a look at the final pitching stats sorted by IP:

Morse, Ryan25.32819132.
Mann, Brandon24.32523130.24.824.454.337.
Wlodarczyk, Mike25.836777.
Baker, Brian25.746069.23.493.593.417.
Townsend, Wade25.528966.26.085.365.
Walker, Matt22.022966.24.865.445.436.
Noel, Wilton25.726766.14.214.604.466.
Owen, Ryan24.135149.14.744.564.
Downs, Darin23.727149.
Tiffany, Chuck23.621641.23.465.
James, Craig25.59122.

You can see why they went downhill in the 2nd half, everyone good was promoted to Montgomery.

Note: In these reviews, pitchers are listed with the affiliate they finished the year and the stats are for the full season. For example, Price will be in the Durham review with stats from all levels combined. I will break out stats by level for each player in the upcoming Top Prospects articles. Also, only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Previous seasons in review:
Columbus, Hudson Valley, Princeton, DSL, VSL

Columbus season in review: Pitching

Columbus finished the 1st half 27-43, 19.0 out of first in the Sally. They had a much better second half, finishing in 2nd place with a 40-26 record, 5.5 games out. Here is a look at the final pitching stats sorted by IP:

Cobb, Alex20.92525139.23.294.404.
Darcy, Jesse23.22919133.03.053.423.366.
Flores, Brian23.72921118.04.193.963.915.
Ragan, Jason25.72422108.04.334.664.515.
Hall, Jeremy24.92119105.14.613.753.657.
Johnson, Joshua23.9281387.05.794.744.416.13.610.30.9
Boggan, Kevin23.336072.23.103.863.866.
Garcia, Justin21.741072.12.492.722.719.
Mejias, Jose23.034059.04.735.
Baird, John22.328457.07.264.594.279.04.611.81.1
Risser, Travis23.734054.03.173.483.437.
Hinkle, Austin22.333046.22.512.242.2912.
Barnett, Travis24.918031.07.554.494.218.14.610.20.9
Fines, Woods23.06419.27.324.834.844.13.710.50.9

Cobb and Hinkle have a lot of fans, but I prefer Darcy and Garcia. Regardless, they all had good years and we'll see how they all shake out in Port Charlotte next year.

Note: In these reviews, pitchers are listed with the affiliate they finished the year and the stats are for the full season. For example, Price will be in the Durham review with stats from all levels combined. I will break out stats by level for each player in the upcoming Top Prospects articles. Also, only players younger than 26.0 are included as anyone older I don't consider a "prospect."

Previous seasons in review:
Hudson Valley, Princeton, DSL, VSL