Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’
By Ashley Marshall
Eddie Gamboa turned in one of the finest starts of his pro career on Wednesday, firing seven shutout innings with a pitch that he’s only had in his arsenal since March (Ben Hill’s feature on Gamboa).
Sure, the Orioles farmhand learned to throw the pitch as a 12-year-old with his father, but now it’s actually something that may fulfill his dreams of becoming a big leaguer.
I spoke with Gamboa in depth about his knuckleball. You can read the game recap here.
Here’s much more from Gamboa about his repertoire, his mindset and his inspirations.
On incorporating the knuckleball into his game:
“I’ve been throwing my knuckleball about 40 percent of the time. That’s been about my average. I’ve had my high around 65 percent, but I think 40-45 percent is where I feel comfortable throwing it in a game situation, rather than just throwing it and throwing it just to work on it.
“I also throw a two-seamer, a slider and a changeup. I throw my slider to keep them off my fastball, and I throw the changeup to keep them off everything else. I try not to give anybody the same look twice. Sometimes I won’t throw a knuckleball to a guy at all.
“The biggest difference [between success and failure] is just having command of all four pitches so they can’t sit on one pitch. Then I can throw a cutter or a slider at 0-0 or 2-2.
“I’m not really a knuckleball pitcher, but a pitcher who throws a knuckleball. I want to be able to eventually throw it 65 percent [of the time] and have everything else fall after that.”
On the variations of his knuckleball:
“I throw the knuckleball from 65-80 mph. I can throw it slow and I can throw it hard. I have a lot of control over the speed. It can be fluttering at times, and you don’t know where it wants to go. But I made a note of making sure I give them different looks with the knuckleball. I can feel it out to see which one I can control better.
“I can throw it with a three-quarter arm slot or with an over-the-top arm slot. I can throw it slow or hard with a three-quarter arm slot and I can throw it slow or hard coming over the top. I give them different looks and see how they react to it. It’s a matter of getting comfortable and feeling that ‘click.’ Once I do that, I can get away from my old conventional stuff which is the reason I’ve been stuck in the Minor Leagues and not in the Major Leagues.
“I’m still trying to find out what is more comfortable. From what my catchers say, the one over the top will move either left or right, where the three-quarter tails like a slider, away from right-handers and in to left-handers. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable with them. I can throw it all day in the bullpen, but only when there’s a batter and an umpire can you get better, because that’s where it matters. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I’m committed to doing whatever will get me to the big leagues. The Orioles like it, and I’m grateful. I want to do it to fulfill my dream.”
On working with his catchers:
“The catcher sets up in the middle. The only thing he will do sometimes is ask for either the hard or slow knuckleball. He throws down the fingers and I hope for the best.
“I’m a competitive person. People who don’t me maybe don’t know that. You have to have a lot of patience and throw your ego out the window. If you know me, you know I’m all about pitching to contact. I don’t like walking people. I want to throw strikes, get in, get out and keep the defense on their toes. But with the knuckleball, it’s so slow — it’s the opposite. I know I’ll walk a lot of people and that I’ll throw balls and wild pitches and have stolen bases. But [the Orioles] also want me to compete. They want me to work on the pitch in the game, but if there are runners on second and third, I’m not thinking about working on the knuckleball, I’m thinking about getting the hitter out. I’m doing what I love so I can’t complain, but at the same time I still have to get better.”
On his mentors and advisors:
“Phil Niekro has been very supportive. But he lived and died by his knuckleball and I don’t know if I’m there yet. That’s the difference right now, but hopefully one day I can be as great as him. I want to be like R.A. Dickey who had conventional stuff and then got to The Show. I’ve met a lot of great people through the knuckleball. My role model used to be John Smoltz. Now it’s R.A. Dickey and Phil Niekro.
“[Orioles GM] Dan Duquette is good friends with Phil, and he had him come out and watch my games and work on me between starts. He was with me in Spring Training. I’m able to call this Hall of Famer and I have his number. Not many people can do that. It’s a great feeling, having a GM who believes in you. I couldn’t ask for anything better. You play the game for the opportunity and I have a great opportunity in front of me now.”
With the 2013 MLB Draft starting Thursday, we thought we’d take the next few days to run down how some of the more intriguing picks out of the top rounds from the last few Drafts have fared. On Monday, we looked at 2009. On Tuesday, we looked at 2010.
Today, we turn our attention to 2011.
The 2011 Draft had some noteworthy storylines, ranging from two UCLA Bruins being selected in the first three picks to two Oklahoma pitchers being taken in the top seven. The Rays punched up their farm system with a league-high 10 picks in the first and sandwich rounds, starting with Taylor Guerrieri at No. 24 and finishing with James Harris at 60. But with only one full-time Major Leaguer among its ranks thus far, the book on the Class of 2011 still largely remains to be written.
- Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh (2013: Triple-A Indianapolis) – The 6-foot-4 right-hander has shot up the Pirates’ ladder and should be expected to make his Major League debut within the next few months before taking a more permanent role in the rotation next season.
- Danny Hultzen, Seattle (2013: Triple-A Tacoma) – The southpaw got Mariners fans excited by going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA through his first four starts in the hitter-happy PCL this season. But he’s been shut down ever since with a rotator cuff strain and tendinitis.
- Trevor Bauer, Arizona (2013: Triple-A Columbus, MLB Indians) – Bauer was shipped to the Indians system as part of the deals that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati and Didi Gregorius to Arizona last offseason. He’s played the role of spot starter at the Major League level this season, going 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts for the Tribe but hasn’t shown enough consistent command (11-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 1/3 innings) to earn a more permanent spot.
- Dylan Bundy, Baltimore (2013: injured) – MLB.com’s No. 2 prospect has yet to take the field due to elbow stiffness but has been cleared to begin throwing again. He will not undergo surgery.
- Bubba Starling, Kansas City (2013: Class A Lexington) – The Royals were slow to bring the center fielder along by not allowing him to make his full-season debut until this year. He’s struggled at the plate so far, batting .206 with a .649 OPS in 49 games for Lexington.
- Anthony Rendon, Washington (2013: Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse, MLB Nationals) – Rendon, who turns 23 on Thursday, tore up the Eastern League (.319/.461/.603) and even earned a promotion to The Show when Ryan Zimmerman hit the DL. He made a short stop in Syracuse but is back in the big leagues — this time as a second baseman — due to Danny Espinosa’s recent injury.
- Archie Bradley, Arizona (2013: Class A Advanced Visalia, Double-A Mobile) – At 7-1 with a 1.18 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 12 starts between two levels, the 20-year-old right-hander has made a case to claim the best statistical season by a pitcher in the Minors thus far.
- Francisco Lindor, Cleveland (2013: Class A Advanced Carolina) – The reviews on the 19-year-old’s defense have always been high, but he looks like he’s taking the next step forward at the dish (.306/.375/.427) so far with the Mudcats.
- Javier Baez, Chicago (2013: Class A Advanced Daytona) – The Puerto Rico native has a lot of pop in his bat for a shortstop, although that’s not necessarily where he’ll stick given Starlin Castro’s place there for the Cubs. Through 51 games at Daytona, 33 of his 59 hits have gone for extra bases. He’s walked, though, just 23 times in 577 career plate appearances.
- Cory Spangenberg, San Diego (2013: Class A Advaned Lake Elsinore) – Spangenberg finds himself back in the Cal League after a concussion and hitting woes kept him from having a solid first full season. He’s improved in his second trip with the Storm however — his OPS is nearly 150 points higher — and his speed continues to be his calling card.
- George Springer, Houston (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi) – The University of Connecticut product could be the game’s next big thing, given his start to 2013. His 17 homers in the Texas League lead all Minor Leaguers, a hopeful sign for any Astros fan desperately looking for one.
- Taylor Jungmann, Milwaukee (2013: Double-A Huntsville) – Jungmann has yet to take off and, with a 4.78 ERA in 10 starts with the Stars, will need more seasoning before he or the Brewers can even entertain any thoughts about a promotion.
- Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (2013: Class A Savannah) – The Mets have taken a similar approach to the Royals with their 2011 first-rounder, allowing Nimmo to finally make his full-season debut this season. He missed nearly a month in May, however, with a hand contusion and a back issue.
- Jose Fernandez, Miami (2013: MLB Marlins) – The first member of the Class of 2011 to become a full-time Major Leaguer, Fernandez has been one of the few bright spots for the Fish this season and remains a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year, despite having never previously pitching higher than Class A Advanced.
- Jed Bradley, Milwaukee (2013: Class A Advanced Brevard County)
- Chris Reed, LA Dodgers (2013: Double-A Chattanooga)
- C.J. Cron, LA Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
- Sonny Gray, Oakland (2013: Triple-A Sacramento) – The A’s only pick in the first or supplemental rounds, Gray was merely OK (4.14 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) in his first full season in the Texas League a year ago, but the right-hander is trending up once more after a solid start (2.40 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in 10 appearances) with the River Cats.
- Matt Barnes, Boston (2013: Double-A Portland)
- Tyler Anderson, Colorado (2013: Class A Advanced Modesto)
- Tyler Beede, Toronto (2013: did not sign, Vanderbilt) – Beede was the highest selected player who elected not to sign in 2011. The Auburn, Mass., native instead chose to play at Vanderbilt, where he went 14-0 with a 2.20 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 98 1/3 innings and was named a Golden Spikes Award finalist Tuesday. He will be draft eligible next season.
- Kolten Wong, St. Louis (2013: Triple-A Memphis) – The University of Hawaii product forms just one part of a very strong Cardinals system and has performed admirably at each step up the ladder. He’s already garnered a handful of honors — Texas League All-Star, Futures Game selection, AFL Rising Star — and should join Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez in making his Major League debut by this September at the latest.
- Alex Meyer, Washington (2013: Double-A New Britain) – Meyer moved to the Twins organization last offseason in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Nationals. He’d be the top prospect in the system if not for stellar sluggers Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. As it stands, the 6-foot-9 titan is MLB.com’s No.38 prospect and remains part of a promising future for those in Minnesota.
- Taylor Guerrieri, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Joe Ross, San Diego (2013: Class A Fort Wayne)
- Blake Swihart, Boston (2013: Class A Advanced Salem)
- Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati (2013: Class A Dayton) – The Reds chose to bring the right-hander along slowly, not allowing him to make his full-season debut until this year in the Midwest League. He did not perform well out of the gate, going 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA in five April starts but has since shown flashes of dominance. He was 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA in May for the Dragons.
- Sean Gilmartin, Atlanta (2013: Triple-A Gwinnett) – The left-hander advanced to Triple-A in his first full season and finds himself back there once again, where he’s been mostly solid. At 23, it’s still early in his professional development, and plenty of time remains for him to pitch his way into the already logjammed Atlanta rotation.
- Joe Panik, San Francisco (2013: Double-A Richmond) – Panik has shown an ability to hit for average and reach base at every level, and that’s continued in the Eastern League where he’s batting .286 with a .375 OBP.
- Levi Michael, Minnesota (2013: Class A Advanced Fort Myers)
- Mikie Mahtook, Tampa Bay (2013: Double-A Montgomery) – The tools are there for the Rays’ No. 11 prospect, even if the results necessarily haven’t been quite yet. The LSU product is batting just .240 for the Biscuits this season, but he’s shown some pop as well as speed. Of his 53 hits thus far, 24 have gone for extra bases, including seven triples.
- Jake Hager, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte)
- Kevin Matthews, Texas (2013: injured) – The left-hander has yet to pitch in 2013 due to an impingement in his left shoulder.
- Brian Goodwin, Washington (2013: Double-A Harrisburg)
- Jacob Anderson, Toronto (2013: Unassigned in Blue Jays Org) – The 20-year-old outfielder couldn’t muster anything in the way of results (.194/.271/.304, 72 strikeouts in 191 at-bats) with Rookie-level Bluefield last year. As such, the Jays held him back from making his full-season debut this year and will look for him to grow in the short season once more before a trip to Lansing is considered.
- Henry Owens, Boston (2013: Class A Advanced Salem) – Owens, a lanky left-hander, showed some promising signs at Class A Greenville last year especially in the strikeout department, where he collected 130 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings. He seems to have taken another step forward in 2013, where he is 3-2 with a 3.53 ERA and 62 K’s in 51 frames. The southpaw could be in Double-A before his 21st birthday in July.
- Zach Cone, Texas (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
- Brandon Martin, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Larry Greene, Philadelphia (2013: Class A Lakewood)
- Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston (2013: Triple-A Pawtucket, MLB Red Sox) – A breakout spring led to calls from Red Sox Nation to have Bradley on the team’s Opening Day roster, and the outfielder indeed found himself in the lineup in Game 1, only to be optioned back down in mid-April after struggles and inconsistent playing time necessitated the move. After a successful turn with the PawSox, he’s back up with the big club now due to Shane Victorino’s trip to the DL, and the former South Carolina star hit his first Major League home run Tuesday night.
- Tyler Goeddel, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Jeff Ames, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Andrew Chafin, Arizona (2013: Class A Advanced Visalia, Double-A Mobile)
- Michael Fulmer, New York Mets (2013: DNP) – Like fellow Oklahoman Bundy, Fulmer has yet to take the mound this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in March.
- Trevor Story, Colorado (2013: Class A Advanced Modesto)
- Joseph Musgrove, Toronto (2013: Unassigned in Astros Org) – The 6-foot-5 right-hander was traded to the Astros as part of a 10-player deal last July. He’s pitched in only 41 2/3 innings in the pros since being taken in 2011 and hasn’t made his official Astros organization debut yet, although that will come when short-season leagues start soon.
- Keenyn Walker, Chicago White Sox (2013: Double-A Birmingham)
- Michael Kelly, San Diego (2013: Class A Fort Wayne)
- Kyle Crick, San Francisco (2013: Class A Advanced San Jose) – Crick’s stellar 2012 campaign in Augusta vaulted him to the top of the Giants’ prospect list entering 2013. Three starts into this season, however, he developed an oblique injury and has been sidelined ever since. He’ll bring a plus fastball and solid slider to the California League when he does return.
- Travis Harrison, Minnesota (2013: Class A Cedar Rapids)
- Dante Bichette Jr., New York Yankees (2013: Class A Charleston) – The name alone garnered some attention in 2011, and an MVP season in the Gulf Coast League only added to that. But Bichette hasn’t been able to put it together at the Class A level, which he is repeating this season. Even so, he’s posted just a .623 OPS through 53 games with the RiverDogs — a number that is 30 points lower than the one he put up in 2012.
- Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Dwight Smith Jr., Toronto (2013: Class A Lansing)
- Brett Austin, San Diego (2013: did not sign, NC State) – The Padres couldn’t lure the Charlotte native away from a scholarship at NC State. The catcher/outfielder just helped lead the Wolf Pack to the Super Regionals, where it will take on Rice.
- Hudson Boyd, Minnesota (2013: Class A Cedar Rapids)
- Kes Carter, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte)
- Kevin Comer, Toronto (2013: DNP, Unassigned in Astros Org) – Like Musgrove, Comer was part of the Blue Jays movement to take young high school arms that would be projects but could be big-time prospects if everything ironed out. Also like Musgrove, Comer was sent to the Astros and has yet to make his debut with the organization.
- Jace Peterson, San Diego (2013: Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore)
- Grayson Garvin, Tampa Bay (2013: injured)
- James Harris, Tampa Bay (2013: Unassigned in Rays Org)
By Ashley Marshall
With the 2013 MLB Draft starting Thursday, we thought we’d take the next few days to run down how some of the more intriguing picks out of the top rounds from the last few Drafts have fared. On Monday, we looked at 2009.
Today, we turn our attention to 2010.
The 2010 Draft had a little bit of everything, both at the time of the event and — retrospectively — in the three years that have passed.
While Bryce Harper, a highly touted outfielder from a junior college in Southern Nevada, made the most news, the Draft stands out for several other reasons.
Two right-handers taken inside the first 15 picks chose to attend college rather than sign with a Major league team. One — Karston Whitson — missed the entire 2013 college season with a shoulder injury while the other — Dylan Convey — may never have a pro career after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
The Draft also saw a toolsy young shortstop called Manny Machado draw comparisons with Alex Rodriguez and baseball’s current No. 5 prospect Taijuan Walker selected 43rd overall as the Mariners only pick as compensation for the loss of Adrian Beltre.
Eight first-rounders from this Draft class have already made it to the Majors, while four others are ranked inside MLB.com’s Top 100.
- Bryce Harper, Washington (2013: MLB Nationals)
- Jameson Taillon, Pirates (2013: Double-A Altoona)
- Manny Machado, Orioles (2013: Baltimore) — A two-time Futures Game selection, Machado has played almost one-third of his total professional games in the Majors. The shortstop — the first one drafted by the O’s in the first round since 1974 — appeared in 51 regular-season games with the Orioles in 2012 and he’s currently hitting .327 with 30 RBIs in 57 contests this year. He’s the only high schooler from the 2010 first round to make the Majors so far.
- Christian Colon, Royals (2013: Triple-A Omaha)
- Drew Pomeranz, Indians (2013: Triple-A Colorado Springs) – Acquired by the Rockies as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal in 2011, Pomeranz is one of only two left-handers from the first round of this Draft class to reach the Majors. He is 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 26 big league starts over two seasons, numbers that are part of why he’s back at Triple-A Colorado Springs again this year. In 11 2013 PCL games, he is 6-1 with a 4.26 mark.
- Barret Loux, D-backs (2013: Triple-A Iowa) — The D-backs opted not to sign Loux due to injury concerns, but he signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers on Nov. 18, 2010. Last November, he was dealt to the Cubs for former teammate Jake Brigham.
- Matt Harvey, Mets (2013: MLB Mets) — Few rookies have ever made the impact that Harvey has this year. In 12 starts with the Mets, the right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA. The North Carolina product — who went 20-10 in the Minors — showed glimpses of this potential in 10 starts in 2012, but nobody expected the level of production he’s given the big club in the first two months of the season.
- Delino DeShields, Astros (2013: Class A Advanced Lancaster)
- Karsten Whitson, Padres (2013: none; Draft eligible) — Whitson turned down a $2.1 million signing bonus to attend the University of Florida. He went a combined 12-1 in 33 games between 2011 and 2012, but he missed the entire 2013 collegiate season with a shoulder impingement. He may draw interest from teams in this year’s Draft, but he is not ranked in MLB.com’s Top 100 Draft prospects.
- Michael Choice, Athletics (2013: Triple-A Sacramento)
- Deck McGuire, Blue Jays (2013: Double-A New Hampshire)
- Yasmani Grandal, Reds (2013: MLB Padres)
- Chris Sale, White Sox (2013: MLB White Sox) – Of all 50 first-rounders from 2010, none have posted a greater WAR than Sale (12.2). He posted a 1.93 ERA in 21 games in 2010, and he saved eight games the following year. Converted to a full-time starter last season, Sale went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 30 games, striking out 192 batters in as many innings en route to finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting. This season, he’s 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA in nine starts.
- Dylan Covey, Brewers (2013: none; Draft eligible) — Convey chose to attend the University of San Diego rather than going pro after being diagnosed with diabetes days before the signing deadline. In his sophomore year at college in 2012, he went 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA while holding opponents to a .247 batting average over 81 1/3 innings. He had just a 5.05 ERA in 16 appearances this spring for the Toreros.
- Jake Skole, Rangers (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
- Hayden Simpson, Cubs (2013: released) – Released at end of spring training, Simpson hasn’t pitched this year. For his career, he sports a 6.42 ERA over 30 starts and 26 relief appearances with Chicago’s Minor League system. He did not pitch professionally the year he was selected after suffering from mononucleosis, and he never lived to the promise of the Cubs only first-round pick that year.
- Josh Sale, Rays (2013: suspended) – Sale has not endeared himself to Tampa Bay. In August he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for methamphetamine and an amphetamine. He came off the restricted list and was added to the roster of the Charlotte Stone Crabs, but before he had a chance to make his season debut he was suspended indefinitely for throwing two quarters at a dancer in a strip club and then posting about it on Facebook.
- Kaleb Cowart, Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
- Michael Foltynewicz, Astros (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi)
- Kolbrin Vitek, Red Sox (2013: Double-A Portland)
- Alex Wimmers, Twins (2013: Double-A New Britain; injured) — Wimmers missed most of 2012 with a right elbow injury, and he has not pitched in 2013. A two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Year at Ohio State, he has pitched in just 19 games in his professional career.
- Kellin Deglan, Rangers (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
- Christian Yelich, Marlins (2013: Double-A Jacksonville)
- Gary Brown, Giants (2013: Triple-A Fresno)
- Zack Cox, Cardinals (2013: Double-A Jacksonville) — Acquired by the Marlins from the Cardinals in July, Cox originally improved his Draft stock by 20 rounds after going to the University of Arkansas instead of signing with the Dodgers in 2008. He saw time at Triple-A Memphis last summer before being dealt to the Marlins for Edward Mujica last July. He’s been with Double-A Jacksonville since the trade.
- Kyle Parker, Rockies (2013: Double-A Tulsa)
- Jesse Biddle, Phillies (2013: Double-A Reading)
- Zach Lee, Dodgers (2013: Double-A Chattanooga)
- Cam Bedrosian, Angels (2013: Class A Burlington)
- Chevy Clarke, Angels (2013: Class A Burlington) – Los Angeles took outfielder Clarke one pick after they selected pitcher Bedrosian, who grew up just 50 miles from Clarke in Georgia. Both 21 years old, they have been teammates in the Arizona and Midwest Leagues together and they both started 2013 a bit behind schedule in Burlington.
- Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Cito Culver, Yankees (2013: Class A Charleston)
- Mike Kvasnicka, Houston (2013: Disabled list in Twins Org) – Drafted by the Astros as a catcher, Kvasnicka struggled in his first two years of pro ball when the organization tried him at third base and as a corner outfielder. The 24-year-old was traded to the Twins — the team that tried to sign him in the 31st round of the 2007 Draft out of high school — in March, but surgery to repair a broken hamate bone has seen him sidelined this season.
- Aaron Sanchez, Toronto (2013: Class A Advanced Dunedin)
- Matt Lipka, Atlanta (2013: Class A Advanced Lynchburg) – A shortstop at McKinney High School in Texas, Lipka has transitioned to the outfield. He tore his hamstring last summer, and that limited him to 199 at-bats in 2012. Back with the Hillcats for a second year, he’s looking to get back on track. He’s already hit for the cycle this season.
- Byrce Brentz, Boston (2013: Triple-A Pawtucket) – Overlooking the fact that Brentz hit .198 in his rookie year in Lowell, he batted .298 with 47 homers and 170 RBIs across four levels over the past two years. A hitter through and through, Brentz — who moved from left field to right without any issues — is already on pace to better his 2012 power numbers from Double-A Portland this year in Pawtucket.
- Taylor Lindsey, LA Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
- Noah Syndergaard, Toronto (2013: Class A Advanced St. Lucie) – Acquired by the Mets in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in December, the 6-foot-6 prep right-hander is looking to build on his 2012 successes with Lansing. Syndergaard has the stuff to record a strikeout per inning in the Florida State League (59 in 57 2/3 IP), and there’s every chance he can post a sub-3.00 ERA (currently at 2.81).
- Anthony Ranaudo, Boston (2013: Double-A Portland) – LSU has seen one of its players drafted in the first round each year since 2009. Ranaudo went 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in the Eastern League last year, but he’s 6-1 with a 1.48 mark this year at the same level.
- Ryan Bolden, LA Angels (2013: Unassigned in Angels Org) – Drafted as an 18-year-old out of Madison Central High School, Bolden has spent each of the past three years in the Arizona League. The right fielder hit .187 in his rookie year but saw his average drop in each of the following two seasons. He has not played yet in 2013.
- Asher Wojciechowski, Toronto (2013: Triple-A Oklahoma City) – Acquired by the Astros in part of a 10-player deal with the Blue Jays last July, Wojciechowski is looking to build on a 2012 season that saw him go 9-5 with a 3.09 ERA between two organizations. After six superb Texas League appearances to start 2013, he was promoted to the RedHawks of the PCL.
- Drew Vettleson, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte) – He spun three no-hitters as an ambidextrous pitcher in high school, and he turned down a commitment to play for Oregon State University to play with the Rays. Now a right fielder, Vettleson set a Bowling Green franchise record with 139 hits in 2012.
- Taijuan Walker, Seattle (2013: Double-A Jackson) – MLB.com’s No. 5 prospect was a Southern League midseason All-Star and a Futures Game selection last year. Still just 20 years old, he’s repeating the league after going 7-10 with a 4.69 ERA there in 2012, and early signs are that he’ll make his way up to Triple-A by the end of the year.
- Nick Castellanos, Detroit (2013: Triple-A Toledo) – A third baseman in high school, the Tigers felt Castellanos was more suited to the outfield in order to help the big club in the near future. MLB.com’s No. 20 prospect finished third among all Minor League players in 2012 with 172 hits and he’s on pace to set new career highs in homers and RBIs in the International League this year.
- Luke Jackson, Texas (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach) – Jackson did not start pitching until ninth grade, but that did not stop the Rangers from drafting him 45th overall out of Florida’s Calvary Christian High School. The right-hander is repeating the Carolina League where he’s 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 23 walks in 46 innings.
- Seth Blair, St. Louis (2013: Double-A Springfield)
- Peter Tago, Colorado (2013: Unassigned in Rockies Org) — Ranked 17th in the Rockies Top 20 prospects, Tago has not pitched in 2013. He walked more batters than he struck out in each of his first two years in pro ball, and his poor debut in Asheville in 2011 saw him reassigned to the Northwest League in 2012
- Chance Ruffin, Detroit (2013: Double-A Jackson)
- Mike Olt, Texas (2013: Triple-A Round Rock) – Of the eight first-rounders from the 2010 class to reach the Majors so far, none were drafted later than Olt, a supplemental pick for the loss of free agent Marlon Byrd. His big 2012 season — including 28 Double-A homers — saw him promoted to Texas, but he’s struggled in his time in the PCL, batting .139 with five extra-base hits in 20 games. He recently missed a month with vision problems, which may now be resolved.
- Tyrell Jenkins, Cardinals (2013: Class A Peoria)
By Jonathan Raymond
With the 2013 MLB Draft scheduled to take place on Thursday, we thought we’d take the next few days to run down how some of the more intriguing picks out of the top rounds from the last few Drafts have fared. We start with 2009.
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington (2013: MLB Nationals) — Strasburg has pretty much panned out as hoped for the Nationals, turning into one of the best pitchers in the big leagues.
- Dustin Ackley, Seattle (2013: MLB Mariners, Triple-A Tacoma) — Drafted as an outfielder out of North Carolina, Ackley soon made the move to second base. He made it to the Majors after just a year and a half in the Seattle system and debuted impressively, hitting .273/.348/.417 in 90 games in the bigs in 2011. The 25-year-old regressed in the following two seasons, though, and now finds himself in the Pacific Coast League after posting a .516 OPS in 45 games with the M’s to begin this year.
- Donavan Tate, San Diego (2013: Unassigned within Padres Org) — Tate signed for $6.25 million in 2009, underwhelmed in his 2010 debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, then missed much of 2011 due to a suspension for testing positive for a drug of abuse. After hitting .226/.342/.278 in 107 games between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore last year, the outfielder failed to show up for San Diego’s Minor League camp due to a “personal issue” earlier this year and has yet to make an appearance anywhere this season.
- Tony Sanchez, Pittsburgh (2013: Triple-A Indianapolis) — Sanchez has dealt with injuries off and on throughout his career but appears to be healthy and is putting together perhaps his best season to date in the International League this year. He’s hitting .317/.415/.577 with six homers in 39 games for the Indians and put together his first career four-hit game on May 31.
- Matt Hobgood, Baltimore (2013: Class A Delmarva) — Now 22, the right-hander was mostly plagued by injuries in his first three Minor League seasons. The Orioles have the former starter working out of the bullpen in the South Atlantic League, where he’s posted a 2.38 ERA with one save in 34 innings for the Shorebirds.
- Zack Wheeler, San Francisco (2013: Triple-A Las Vegas) – Traded by the Giants to the Mets for Carlos Beltran at the deadline in 2011, Wheeler blossomed into one of baseball’s best pitching prospects, and appears to be close to making his debut with the Mets this year.
- Mike Minor, Atlanta (2013: MLB Braves)
- Mike Leake, Cincinnati (2013: MLB Reds)
- Jacob Turner, Detroit (2013: MLB Marlins, Triple-A New Orleans) — Turner was given two cups of coffee in the bigs in 2010 and 2011 with the Tigers before becoming the big prize for the Marlins in the trade last year that brought Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit. He had a 3.38 ERA in seven starts for Miami last season and was 3-4 with a 4.47 ERA in the Pacific Coast League this year before tossing seven shutout innings in a win against the Mets on May 31.
- Drew Storen, Washington (2013: MLB Nationals) — The former Stanford closer notched 43 saves for the Nationals in 2011 before being hampered some by injures in the last two years. Has a 3.14 ERA in 183 2/3 innings across four Major League seasons so far in his career.
- Tyler Matzek, Colorado (2013: Double-A Tulsa)
- Aaron Crow, Kansas City (2013: MLB Royals)
- Grant Green, Oakland (2013: Triple-A Sacramento) — The former Southern California star has had trouble sticking at a position, moving off shortstop, to centerfield, to the corner outfield spots, to a few tries at third base to second base, where he’s playing this year for the River Cats.
- Matt Purke, Texas (2013: Class A Hagerstown) — The lefty never signed with the Rangers, instead reentering the Draft the next year where Washington selected him in the third round. He’s battled arm problems, throwing just 15 1/3 innings for Hagerstown last year and making one appearance so far this season.
- Alex White, Cleveland (2013: MLB Rockies)
- Bobby Borchering, Arizona (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi)
- A.J. Pollock, Arizona (2013: MLB Diamondbacks)
- Chad James, Miami (2013: Unassigned in Marlins Org)
- Shelby Miller, St. Louis (2013: MLB Cardinals) — The right-hander debuted late with St. Louis last season and has been one of the best starters in the Majors this year, owning a 1.82 ERA in 69 1/3 innings.
- Chad Jenkins, Toronto (2013: MLB Blue Jays)
- Jiovanni Mier, Houston (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi)
- Kyle Gibson, Minnesota (2013: Triple-A Rochester) — He missed part of 2011 and much of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. He has a 3.38 ERA in 66 2/3 innings for the Red Wings this year, striking out 59 and walking 19, and threw his first complete game following the surgery on May 8.
- Jared Mitchell, Chicago AL (2013: Triple-A Charlotte, Double-A Birmingham) — Mitchell tore a tendon in his left ankle during Spring Training in 2010 that derailed his season before it got out of the station. He returned last year to hit .237/.358/.420 between Birmingham and Charlotte but has mustered just a .156/.305/.229 line between those two clubs in 27 games this year.
- Randal Grichuk, Los Angeles AL (2013: Double-A Arkansas) — For better or worse, Grichuk will likely always be linked to the man who was picked directly behind him. For his part, the 21-year-old is still working his way through the Angels’ system and has a .243/.296/.491 line in 48 games for the Travelers this year. He’s shown good power, with 18 homers and a .488 slugging percentage for Class A Advanced Inland Empire last season.
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles AL (2013: MLB Angels) — He quickly made his way to the big leagues and emerged as one of the best players in baseball, finishing second in the AL MVP race in 2012.
- Eric Arnett, Milwaukee (2013: Unassigned in Brewers Org)
- Nick Franklin, Seattle (2013: MLB Mariners, Triple-A Tacoma) — Franklin began the year in the PCL and caught fire, hitting .324/.440/.472 in 39 games, leading to his Major League debut on May 27.
- Reymond Fuentes, Boston (2013: Double-A San Antonio)
- Slade Heathcott, New York AL (2013: Double-A Trenton) — The 22-year-old has progressed through the Yankees system steadily and owns a .246/.300/.377 line in 46 games for the Thunder this year. He recently outshined Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis while they rehabbed in the Eastern league.
- LeVon Washington, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Lake County) – Never signed with Tampa, instead opting to return the following Draft, where Cleveland took him in the second round.
- Brett Jackson, Chicago NL (2013: Triple-A Iowa)
- Tim Wheeler, Colorado (2013: Triple-A Colorado Springs)
Supplemental first round:
- Steve Baron, Seattle (2013: Class A Advanced High Desert)
- Rex Brothers, Colorado (2013: MLB Rockies)
- Matt Davidson, Arizona (2013: Triple-A Reno) — Davidson emerged as one of the D-backs’ best prospects over the last couple years. He’s hitting .285/.332/.460 in 51 games for the Aces this season.
- Aaron Miller, Los Angeles NL (2013: Class A Great Lakes) — The former starting pitcher is now trying his turn in the outfield. The 25-year-old hit .297/.333/.541 with a home run and eight RBIs in 28 games for Double-A Chattanooga last year and is hitting .167 in 19 games between Double-A and Class A this year.
- James Paxton, Toronto (2013: Triple-A Tacoma) — The native Canadian never signed with the Blue Jays and became a fourth-round pick of the Mariners the next year. The 24-year-old is 2-4 with a 5.01 ERA for the Rainiers this season.
- Josh Phegley, Chicago AL (2013: Triple-A Charlotte) – Enjoying a breakout year offensively for the Knights, Phegley has a .329/.386/.639 slash line with 11 homers and 14 doubles in 41 games.
- Kentrail Davis, Milwaukee (2013: Double-A Huntsville)
- Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles AL (2013: MLB Diamondbacks, Triple-A Reno) — Acquired by the D-backs in 2010 as part of the package for Dan Haren, Skaggs turned into one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. The 21-year-old tossed six shutout innings in a spot-start win over Texas on May 27 after posting three straight quality starts for the Aces from May 11-22. Overall has a 5.23 ERA in 51 2/3 innings in the PCL with 54 strikeouts to 17 walks.
- Chris Owings, Arizona (2013: Triple-A Reno)
- Garrett Richards, Los Angeles AL (2013: MLB Angels) — He’s spent the past couple years working mostly out of the bullpen and making the occasional start for the Angels. He has a 4.92 career ERA in 128 big-league innings.
- Brad Boxberger, Cincinnati (2013: MLB Padres, Triple-A Tucson)
- Tanner Scheppers, Texas (2013: MLB Rangers) — Scheppers has worked out of the Rangers’ bullpen the last two seasons and boasts a 0.66 ERA in 27 1/3 innings this year.
- Michael Belfiore, Arizona (2013: Triple-A Norfolk, MLB Orioles) — Belfiore was dealt to Baltimore for Josh Bell in 2012. A reliever since 2011, the 24-year-old has a 4.28 ERA in 27 1/3 frames for the Tides and was called up to the Majors in May.
- Matt Bashore, Minnesota (2013: Unassigned in Yankees Org)
- Kyle Heckathorn, Milwaukee (2013: Triple-A Nashville)
- Tyler Kehrer, Los Angeles AL (2013: Unassigned in Marlins Org)
- Vic Black, Pittsburgh (2013: Triple-A Indianapolis) — The 25-year-old has a 2.63 ERA and 11 saves in 19 appearances for Indianapolis. He posted a 1.65 ERA and saved 13 games for Double-A Altoona last year.
By Brendon Desrochers
We’re barely a week into the season, but let’s take a brief look at which prospects (those ranked in MLB.com club top-20s) are leading statistical categories (through games of Thursday, April 11):
Total Bases, Home Runs, RBIs and Slugging: Mike Zunino (SEA) with 27, 4, 17 and 1.038
Albuquerque’s Scott Van Slyke is the Minors’ leader in total bases with 32 and slugging at 1.143 (and the venerable Mike Hessman leads with five homers), but Zunino, the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall, is off to a strong start with three doubles a triple and the four home runs in six games (and he is the Minors overall leader with those 17 RBIs). As noted in the first Fantasy Focus, the Florida product and 2012 Golden Spikes Award winner may not be long for the Minors. His bat may be ready already.
Batting Average and On-base Percentage: Byron Buxton (MIN) at .500 and .565
Van Slyke also leads the Minors in average at .570, but the precocious Buxton, MLB.com’s No. 19 overall prospect, is 10-for-20 with a double, triple, two home runs and two stolen bases in five games. His three walks give him the edge in OBP at .565 (Billy Burns of Potomac leads the Minors among all players at .640). Like Zunino, Buxton too was featured in the first Fantasy Focus, and though the second overall pick from the 2012 Draft won’t turn 20 until December, the potential five-tool center fielder already has Twins fans drooling.
Runs Scored: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) with 10
His 51s teammate Josh Satin and Tacoma’s Alex Liddi have 11, but it’s still been a strong start for the Minors’ top catching prospect. He’s drawn seven walks and reached base six times via base hit, which has given him the chance to score those 10 runs. With the way John Buck has been hitting for the Mets, though, d’Arnaud may be in Vegas for a few months longer.
Doubles: Maikel Franco (PHI) with 5
Eleven Minor Leaguers share the doubles lead with five, but Clearwater’s Maikel Franco is the only one of the 11 to rank in his organization’s top 20 prospects. The 20-year-old Dominican third baseman is rated 11th in the Phillies organization, and he’s had four doubles in his last three games (plus two homers and seven RBIs in his last two games). Perhaps this is the year that the raw pop Franco’s always showcased in batting practice will consistently make appearances in live action.
Hits: Xavier Avery (BAL) with 13
Avery is three hits behind High Desert’s Kevin Rivers plus Satin and Van Slyke overall, but his start is impressive nonetheless. He has four doubles and two steals to go with the 13 hits and .351 average for Double-A Bowie. The 23-year-old outfielder got into 32 games with the postseason-bound Orioles last year but still qualifies as a prospect and ranks seventh on the Orioles’ list. Avery continues to strike out a bit too much for a player without much power — he has 10 in 37 at-bats — but at least the Atlanta native has shown a consistent ability to draw walks, even earning a free pass in 10.3 percent of 107 plate appearances in Baltimore.
Profar, as we know, is the complete package as a prospect. Despite starting just 6-for-24 with a double, his eight walks show a mature approach and respect from PCL pitchers and managers. How and where Profar becomes a Ranger for good — especially with the big deal Texas just handed Elvis Andrus — is one of the season’s intriguing subplots.
Grossman came to the Astros from Pittsburgh when Wandy Rodriguez was sent north. The outfielder is known almost entirely for his patience. He became the first player since Nick Swisher to have 100 walks and 100 runs scored in a Minor League season when he achieved the feat with Bradenton in 2011. He has more power and less speed than Reggie Willits, but he profiles similarly to the Angels’ fourth outfielder of years past.
Strikeouts: Jared Mitchell (CWS) with 15
Mitchell is another patient hitter, but he hasn’t been able to battle out of deep counts this season as his 5-for-34 (.147) performance and strikeout total indicate. He does have five walks and three steals this season, but Mitchell’s .213 average in 155 at-bats for Charlotte between this season and last is poor. Though it’s early in this season, at age 24, time is running out for Mitchell to live up to his 2009 first-round billing.
Stolen Bases: Cory Spangenberg (SD) with 9
Another first-round pick (No. 10 overall in 2011), the second baseman has enjoyed his time with Lake Elsinore of the California League, batting .323 and stealing those nine bases without being caught. He has three more than you-know-who and has shown he’s completely recovered from the concussions he suffered last season. His speed will play at any level, and his doubles power could work in PETCO Park, even post-reconfiguration.
Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
Editor’s note: Lost and Found is an offseason series in which one underrated prospect from each of the 30 MLB clubs will be discussed in a short, snappy post.
Lost: A first-round draftee of the Arizona D-backs in 2009, Mike Belfiore enjoyed a solid, if underwhelming, first full season in 2010. By 2011, however, it had become clear to Arizona’s brass that his struggles as a starter could be alleviated with a shift to the bullpen.
2011: 35 G — 8 GS — 5.92 ERA — .278 OPP .AVG — 17 HR – 79-to-57 K-to-BB – 79 IP at Class A Advanced Visalia
Found: Belfiore began 2012 back in the Cal League and in a relief role. He was then traded to Baltimore to complete a trade for infielder Josh Bell.
2012: 40 G — 0 GS — 2.71 ERA — .228 OPP .AVG – 4 HR – 78-to-26 K-to-BB – 66 1/3 IP at Visalia/Double-A Bowie
So Belfiore was lost, now he is found. Now, about the Orioles’ returns: Belfiore, who also relieved at Boston College, everyone can now agree is best suited for that role going forward. A dramatic dip in homers allowed and a significant rise in K/IP demonstrate this fact. The 24-year-old lefty, now the O’s 14th-ranked prospect, has the ability to command a plus heater-slider combo (and the opportunity to refine his changeup and curveball on the side) without worrying about going through an opposing lineup a second and third time. Does he have the stuff and mentality to close games in the Majors? Maybe, maybe not. This much is more certain: He will pitch in the big leagues and be useful there.