Tag Archive | "Minor Leagues"

The Next Knuckler Reports To Camp

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The Next Knuckler Reports To Camp

Posted on 24 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

Josh Booty may have won the MLB Network’s “The Next Knuckler,” but his work has just begun.


Booty showed up to camp on Thursday and worked a bit in the bullpen with former Major League knuckler and current Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Tom Candiotti. “He’s got the best fastball of any knuckleballer I’ve ever seen,” Candiotti told MLB. “He can flat out throw it.” He threw 88-89 mph during the bullpen session with his fastball.

Are you asking yourself, what’s “The Next Kunckler”? With the Knuckleball quickly becoming an extinct pitch, the MLB Network aired a reality show about the search for the pitch’s heir apparent. Think “American Idol”…but with Kevin Millar.

“With the knuckleball, he can throw it,” Candiotti said. “He’s got the ability to be able to take the spin off the ball. It’s a constant battle for him right now with his mechanics right now, being able to repeat his delivery, because he drifts a little bit.” “In my mind, I’m taking it serious,” Booty said to MLB. “I don’t want to come in here and goof off.”

The Diamondbacks agreed to have Booty in camp and will allow him to at least throw one inning during a Major League game. Past that, he will need to earn anything else he gets. It is possible if he impresses enough that he could wind up getting a spot in the Minor Leagues.

Convinced I am the only one that watched this show, is anyone shocked that the team in question is the Arizona Diamondbacks? Has Kirk Gibson gone Hollywood?

To be fair, Josh Booty has a history on the diamond. He was actually drafted fourth overall out of high school as a shortstop by the Marlins in the 1994 First-Year Player Draft. The Marlins inked him to a then-record $1.6 million signing bonus with the stipulation that he not play football.

“I cried the night that I signed the contract,” Booty said to MLB about having to give up football.

Booty spent 1994-98 in the Marlins system, where he hit .198. He got 30 plate appearances in the big leagues from 1996-98 and hit .269. In 1999, he left baseball and went to Louisiana State University, where he played quarterback for two seasons.

In 2001 he was taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and bounced around a few organizations, mainly on the practice squads. Nevertheless, at age 37, he’s hoping for one more shot.

“It’s kind of writing the last chapter,” Booty said to MLB. “I’ve been close a few times. This is like I’m a rookie for the third time. If I was able to get on the field, I mean it’s crazy. I’m just going to have fun with it to be honest with you and get myself in shape so that I have a chance and keep it simple.” Not many players attempt comebacks at his age, but his athletic prowess and ability to throw a knuckleball mean he can’t totally be counted out. After beating out former NCAA Division I quarterbacks John David Booty (his brother), Doug Flutie, Ryan Perrilloux and David Greene, Josh Booty now finds himself back at Spring Training, this time as a non-roster invitee.

“Yeah, I’m 37 years old, but I don’t have any wear and tear on my arm and my shoulder and I never got hurt because in the NFL I was a backup the whole time,” Booty said. “I feel comfortable and my arm is healthy and I think I can get it back to where I was when I was in my 20s.”

When MLB Network pitched the idea of the reality show at a Major League Baseball owners meeting, Diamondbacks team president/CEO Derrick Hall immediately volunteered to be the team that gave the winner a non-roster invitation. It was a chance for national brand awareness for their new look, tougher franchise. (Ask Justin Upton.)

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson (who I did not pin for one who would participate in the trappings of our new realty show culture) threw Booty into a pitching group right away on Friday. He said the organization wants to make sure that he’s able to handle himself on the mound before sticking him in a game.

While the show finished taping three weeks ago, the final episode aired Thursday night. Ever since he knew he won the competition, Booty has been throwing long toss and trying to get his body in better shape. Two weeks ago, he spent a week with former knuckler Charlie Hough in California and last week he was in Florida working with Tim Wakefield, another longtime Major League knuckleball pitcher.

“I know my pitching is a lot better now than it was on that show three or four weeks ago,” Booty said. “I’ve come crazy far in three weeks and if I can get another 10-15 opportunities to throw sides, bullpens, work with [pitching coach Charles Nagy], do some things here with Candiotti … I think the sky would be the limit.”

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Down On The Farm: Arizona Fall League Part 1, Mesa Solar Sox

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Down On The Farm: Arizona Fall League Part 1, Mesa Solar Sox

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Blake Murphy

With most minor leagues winding down to playoff time, September generally brings one of two big pieces of news for prospects – a September call-up to the Majors, or an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Running through October and November, the AFL operates as a league of extra seasoning for top prospects, and is usually a haven for scouts and prospect junkies alike. With few time-relevant minor league updates to make throughout September, the focus of Down On The Farm, for the next few weeks at least, will shift  to the Arizona Fall League rosters.

An assignment to the roster is definitely a positive for a player, though many top prospects are not sent due to the scarcity of roster spots, innings limits, commitments to native countries, and more, so a non-assignment is certainly not an indictment on a player. The league has six teams, so for each of the next sixweeks I will look at the rosters for one team at a time, hoping to shed light on the prospects sent from various teams and what the assignment may mean for their development.

This week we start with the Mesa Solar Sox, the team affiliated with the Orioles, Cubs, Tigers, Astros, and Dodgers.

Mesa Solar Sox
Baltimore Orioles
Michael Belfiore, LHP, 23 – 2.71 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 78K in 66 IP. Extra work assignment.
Chris Petrini, LHP, 25 – 2.49 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 81K in 83 IP. Extra work assignment.
Clay Schrader, RHP, 22 – 1.86 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 68K and 51BB in 58 IP. Extra work assignment, control the likely focus.
Mike Wright, RHP, 22 – 4.06 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) over 20 starts, 22BB in 108 IP, .279 OPP AVG. Likely working on developing an out pitch.
Brian Ward, C, 26 – .592 OPS at AA, 1 HR, 24:24 BB:K in 161 AB. Punishment, perhaps?
Jonathan Schoop, 3B, 20 (ESPN #56, BP #85, BA #82) – .710 OPS at AA, 14 HR, 50:103 BB:K in 485 AB. Extra work assignment to continue accelerated development for AAA assignment in 2013.
L.J. Hoes, OF, 21 – .759 OPS over two levels (AA and AAA), 5 HR, 20 SB, 12 CS, 65:75 BB:K in 513 AB. Possible mechanical assignment to improve ISO, potential 5th OF in 2013.

Chicago Cubs
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP, 23 – 4.81 ERA over 26 starts at AA, 78K in 142 IP, .298 OPP AVG. Extra work assignment to accelerate slow development.
Kevin Rhoderick, RHP, 24 – 4.99 ERA out of the bullpen at AA, 53:47 K:BB in 57 IP. Extra work assignment, control the likely focus.
Zach Rosscup, LHP, 24 – 3.45 ERA over three levels (AA peak), 45K in 31 IP. Extra work assignment to recuperate time lost to injury.
Nicholas Struck, RHP, 22 – 3.18 ERA over 26 starts at AAA, 123K in 155 IP, .238 OPP AVG. Assignment a potential audition for 2013 rotation spot and to continue gradual workload increase to MLB level.
Tony Zych, RHP, 22 – 3.67 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA), 64K in 61 IP. Extra work assignment.
Javier Baez, SS, 19 (ESPN #95, BP #66, BA #61) – .888 OPS over two levels (A and A+), 16 HR, 24 SB, 14 BB in 293 AB. Struggled at A+, extra work assignment to continue development and recuperate time lost to injury.
Rubi Silva, OF, 23 – .727 OPS over two levels (A+ and AA), 15BB in 500 AB, 10SB, 18CS. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on plate discipline and baserunning.
Matthew Szczur, OF, 23 (BA #64) – .751 OPS over two levels (A and AA), 42SB, 14CS, 79:61 K:BB in 438 AB. Possible adjustments to improve ISO and contact ability.

Detroit Tigers
Tyler Clark, RHP, 23 – 1.62 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 66L in 50 IP. Extra work assignment.
Matt Hoffman, LHP, 23 – 3.69 ERA out of the bullpen at AAA, 32:16 K:BB in 46 IP. Extra work assignment, likely working on an out pitch for potential 2013 promotion.
Michael Morrison, RHP, 24 – 3.14 ERA out of the bullpen at AA, 72:40 K:BB in 63 IP. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on control.
Luke Putkonen, RHP, 26 – 4.92 ERA out of the bullpen at AAA in 56 IP, with a 6.52 ERA in 10 IP MLB audition. Potential audition for 2013 bullpen role.
James McCann, C, 22 – .589 OPS over two levels (A+ and AA), 18BB in 380 AB. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on plate discipline and contact ability.
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, 20 (ESPN #37, BP #71, BA #45) – Potential stud had 1.014 OPS at A+, struggled with .678 OPS at AA, striking out once per game. Assignment for further development of plate discipline and to further move to RF.
Aaron Westlake, 1B , 23 – .711 OPS at A over 465 AB. Extra work assignment to expedite development.

Houston Astros
Jared Cosart, RHP, 22 (ESPN #78, BP #48, BA #50) – 3.30 ERA over two levels (AA and AAA), 92:51 K:BB in 114 IP. Extra development time for potential 2013 rotation spot and to recuperate some time lost to injury.
Chia-Jen Lo, RHP, 26 – 0.90 ERA over two levels (A and A+), primarily out of the bullpen, 31:6 K:BB in 30 IP. Extra development time to recuperate time lost to injury.
Alex Sogard, LHP, 25 – 3.62 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 52K in 69 IP. Extra development time, likely working on out pitch.
Jiovanni Mier, SS, 22 – .805 OPS at A+, 34:39 K:BB in 171 AB. Extra development time to recuperate time lost to injury.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, 20 (ESPN #46, BP #73, BA #34) – .893 OPS, 21HR, 7SB, 131:88 K:BB in 461 AB at AA. Extended development to prepare for AAA in 2013 with potential MLB call-up.
Bobby Borchering, OF, 21 – .756 OPS across three levels (AA peak), 24HR, 159K in 479 AB. Has profile of Quad-A hitter eventually, will likely work to improve contact, possibly at the expense of some power.
George Springer, OF, 22 (ESPN #60, BP #49, BA #59) – .955 OPS at A+, 22HR and 28SB in 433 AB, though struggled to .630 OPS in 22 AA games. Extra work to expedite development, could reach AAA in 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Eric Eadington, LHP, 24 – 3.63 ERA over three levels (AA peak), 77K in 67 IP. Extra work assignment to build on successful season and continue expedited development.
Red Patterson, RHP, 25 – 3.07 ERA at AA out of the bullpen, 71K in 70m IP. Extra work assignment, preparing for AAA assignment in 2013.
Steven Rodriguez, LHP, 21 – 0.92 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 32K in 19 IP. Continuation of expedited development for 2012 draftee touted as Major League ready.
Andres Santiago, RHP, 22 – 3.69 ERA across two levels (A+ and AA), primarily starting, 122K in 112 IP. Extra work to increase season inning load as building block for 2013 at AAA.
Gorman Erickson, C, 24 – .673 OPS at AA, 56:44 K:BB in 274 AB.. Extra work to recuperate time lost to injury.
Rafael Ynoa, 2B, 25 – .715 OPS, 23SB at AA. Extra work to expedite what has been a slow development.
Joc Pederson, OF, 20 – .913 OPS, 18HR, 26SB, 14CS in 434 AB at A+. Great season to be put closer under the microscope, with a likely promotion to AA in 2013.
Yasiel Puig, OF, 21 – 1.076 over two levels (R and A+), 5HR, 8SB in just 82 AB. Extra work to further development, as he was just signed out of Cuba in late June.

I should reiterate that these assignments should be taken in the vain I tried to explain – for some, it is extra grooming for promotions, while for others it is simply extra work for the sake of extra work. The top prospects are the ones to keep an eye on, and hopefully over the next few weeks Down On The Farm can help to highlight who to focus on as you see the scouting reports and stat lines begin to trickle in.

Follow me on Twitter, @BlakeMurphyODC.

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3 Up and 3 Down

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3 Up and 3 Down

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Gary Marchese

3 UP and 3 Down:

It is that time once again.  It is time for my weekly look at the 3 up and 3 down around major league baseball.  As always please feel free to contact me through twitter @gmarchesej, facebook, comment under the article or email me at gmarchesej@aol.com.  Thanks for the support and I welcome any feedback as long as it is kept civil.

DOWN - Matt Kemp

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Matt Kemp was having a great season for the Dodgers. Matt Kemp got injured and then tried to come back on Wednesday night. Matt Kemp left the game in the first inning after trying to run and he felt his hamstring getting tight. Kemp is back on the DL now, his injuries are threatening a very promising MVP, possible triple crown season.

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Organizational Outlook: Baltimore Orioles

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Organizational Outlook: Baltimore Orioles

Posted on 31 May 2012 by Bryan Geary

Perhaps my favorite part about being a baseball fan is keeping tabs on the Minor Leagues. I am a prospect hugger and I take no shame in saying this. I follow all the big prospect guys on Twitter and I take in as many Penn League games as I can up here in Burlington. One thing I know is that there are plenty of you out there just like me, so this feature is for you.

It is manageable to stay up on your own favorite team’s farm system, but outside of top 100 guys, many of us cannot stay up on the other 29 teams as well. Organizational Outlook is going to take you through each of the 30 teams and get you up to date on their top prospects. So no one can accuse me of having a bias, I’m starting in the American League and working my way through by alphabetical order. This of course means your first Organizational Outlook is the Baltimore Orioles.

Top 10 Prospects

If you are an Orioles fan, there are three big reasons to be excited about the future, and it all starts with Dylan Bundy. Named the 10th best prospect by Baseball America (BA) coming into the season, Bundy was the 4th overall pick in last year’s draft and the first high school player taken. Deemed by many prospect experts as comparable to the trio of college pitchers that were selected before him — Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, and Trevor Bauer — Bundy may have jumped all of them in the eyes of scouts after only 35 professional innings in which he has surrendered just two (!!!) earned runs. While the Orioles have taken some heat for their extremely careful approach to handling the 6’1″ right-hander, it does not appear that much will stand in the way of him possibly making a 2013 big league debut. The stuff is all there — from the fastball which sits 94-98, to the curveball which BA already rates as a plus pitch, to a raved about work ethic — Bundy has all the makings of a future ace. As a bonus fun fact, Bundy’s older brother Robert Bundy is also in the organization and is currently pitching at AA. Though BA did not rank him, Kevin Goldstein has him as the Orioles number six prospect.

Manny Machado would probably be a number one prospect for most other teams, as BA tabbed him as the 11th best prospect this offseason. The third pick in the 2010 draft, Machado has blossomed into one of the premier shortstop prospects in all of the minor leagues. Though some believe he may outgrow the position and move to third someday, the Orioles are sticking with him at short until he proves that move necessary. His .256/.353/.390 line at AA may not jump off the page at you, keep in mind that at 19, he is the youngest player in the Eastern League (which has a reputation as an extremely pitcher friendly league). The fact that he is holding his own against older, advanced competition tells you a lot about his talent.

In the shadow of these two stud prospects is Jonathan Schoop. Signed as an International Free Agent out of Curacao in 2008, Schoop has spent much of his time the last two seasons playing alongside Machado at second base, though BA describes him as having the “arm and hands for any infield spot”. Despite this characterization, they still tag third base as his most likely destination. Again, Schoop’s .248/.305/.329 line may not seem impressive, but the only player younger than him in the Eastern League is Machado. Schoop has shown the ability to rake at previous levels, hitting .290/.349/.432 while splitting last season between A and A+.

The Rest of the Top 10 (according to BA):

Parker Bridwell – RHP – 6’4″/190

Bridwell was a 2010 ninth round draft pick out of high school in Texas. The numbers have not been there so far, as there have apparently been some mechanical issues to work on. He is repeating low-A Delmarva this season.

2012: 2-3, 4.87 ERA, 44.1 IP, 45 H, 29 K, 21 BB

L.J. Hoes – OF/2B – 6’1″/181

A third round draft pick out of high school in 2008, Hoes has primarily seen time at second base and in left field during his career. It seems like his fate as an everyday player will on depend how well his power develops. At the very least, Hoes has shown the versatility to be a utility player. He is currently at AA Bowie.

2012: .271/.372/.383, 219 PA, 2 HR, 11 SB, 29 BB, 31 K

Nicky Delmonico – 1B/3B – 6’2″/196

Another high school pick, Delmonico was a sixth round pick out of Knoxville, Tennessee. The left-handed hitter is seeing his first taste of pro action at low-A Delmarva, where he is more than holding his own. Scouts love his swing, but his range in the infield may mean his future is at first base.

2012: .266/.355/.424, 203 PA, 5 HR, 3 SB, 22 BB, 39 K

Ryan Flaherty – UTIL – 6’3″/220

Originally selected as a supplemental first rounder by the Cubs out of Vanderbilt in 2008, Flaherty came to the Orioles via the Rule Five draft in September. As a result, he has spent the year coming off the bench for the big league team. While not technically a prospect anymore, Flaherty has shown decent power throughout his minor league career.

2012: .143/.173/.204, 53 PA, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 17 K

Jason Esposito – 3B – 6’2″/185

Another Vanderbilt product, Esposito was also drafted in the seventh round by the Royals out of high school. The Orioles made him their second round pick last year and have assigned him to low-A Delmarva. Esposito reportedly has gap power, but has struggled making the adjustment to pro pitching so far.

2012: .243/.319/.312, 210 PA, 1 HR, 4 SB, 18 BB, 42 K

Xavier Avery – OF – 5’11″/180

A Georgia native, the Orioles drafted Avery in the second round of the 2008 draft. The hope is that his plate approach develops to the point where he can be a leadoff hitter, as he has excellent speed. Avery is playing quite well so far at AAA Norfolk.

2012: .273/.373/.469, 153 PA, 5 HR, 8 SB, 20 BB, 29 K

Dan Klein – RHP – 6’2″/190

It appeared that Klein could be a fast track reliever when the Orioles drafted him out of UCLA in 2010, but shoulder injuries have kept that from happening. He had surgery to repair a small tear in his labrum and loosen his shoulder capsule last August. If he gets healthy, there are still high expectations for him as a reliever.

2011 (A+/AA): 3-0, 1.11 ERA, 32.1 IP, 23 H, 37 K, 6 BB

Draft Outlook

With the draft only five days away, mock drafts are up and running. While Jim Callis of BA has the Orioles “leaning more towards arms than bats,” Keith Law of ESPN says that they “want the best player available, period”. As a result, Callis currently projects (subscription only) the O’s to take LSU righty Kevin Gausman while Law has them taking (subscription only) Carlos Correa, a shortstop in the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (though he did say he could also see Gausman at four). The Orioles have hit it big with Bundy and Machado in their previous two drafts, and while this draft class is not nearly as deep as last year’s, the top end talent is still very good.

Questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome both in the comments section and on Twitter (@bgeary8).

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Andy Pettitte signs 1-year deal with Yankees

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Andy Pettitte signs 1-year deal with Yankees

Posted on 16 March 2012 by Jared Thatcher

Wow, that really came out of nowhere. Reports have confirmed that Andy Pettitte has come out of retirement and signed a 1-year, $2.5 million minor league deal with the New York Yankees.

Pettitte is clearly one of the best postseason pitchers to ever play the game but why come back now after a year in retirement? Does Pettitte really have anything left to prove? Is Roger Clemens also coming back? Maybe the Yankees are trying to get the band back together for one last hurrah!  Pettitte will no doubt start out the season in the minor leagues but I fully expect him to join the rotation somewhere around mid-year if not sooner. He may fill a hole as the 5th starter or even take the #4 spot if he is even close to his old self.

So what does this mean for your fantasy team? I would absolutely NOT draft Pettitte in any of your leagues unless you want to take a big chance on him with your very last pick. He will most likely sit on your bench for a while and waste space until he is ready to join the Yankees rotation. During that time you could have a much more productive player filling that bench spot. Even if Pettitte joins the rotation there is no guarantee that he will be the productive pitcher he was in seasons past. Keep an eye on this situation but let someone else take the chance on draft day.

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