Results tagged ‘ National League West ’
Prospect Flashback: Slugger Chase Headley Before (as A San Antonio Mission) and After (as A San Diego Padre)
From MLB.com this morning: Headley accepts invitation if USA advances
PEORIA, Ariz. — It was more than a month ago when the Major League Baseball Players Association first reached out to Padres third baseman Chase Headley to see if he’d be interested in playing for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic, should it need a third baseman.
So when Headley was contacted by text message Thursday with the same question, his answer was the same as it was in February — a resounding yes.
“This has always been a dream of mine, to play for Team USA,” Headley said.
“I think it’s a feather in his cap,” said Padres manager Bud Black.
To continue reading, head here.
From MiLB.com archives: Headley’s Minors’ bio, stats
Here is Headley in a Double-A San Antonio uniform way back in 2007. Click on any picture to enlarge. For all past editions of Prospect Flashback, head here.
Tim Lincecum was a “veteran” of 13 Minor League appearances before making his Major League debut in 2007. Do you think he can turn around his 2012 misfortune and return to his Cy Young Award-winning ways?
Here is a gallery of Lincecum with the Class A Advanced San Jose Giants from his Aug. 5, 2006 start. Click on any picture to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Flashback, head here.
In four Spring Training games to date, Padres prospect — and second-base contestant — Jedd Gyorko has four hits. Three of them are home runs.
As a result of the first longball, a grand slam in his first at-bat of the exhibition season, he also has nine RBIs.
Crazy numbers? Yes.
Sustainable numbers? No.
Foreshadowing numbers? Maybe.
Gyorko, in case you want some background, is San Diego’s No. 1 farmhand and is fighting over his first MLB job (and roster spot) with incumbent and relative vet Logan Forsythe. Significant power numbers are a big bonus at his position and only works in his favor as we near April. After all, just 10 of the 119 Major Leaguers with 15 or more longballs (or eight percent of them, put another way) last season played second base.
- Cano (NYY) 33 HR
- Hill (ARI) 26 HR
- Weeks (MIL) 21 HR
- Kinsler (SD) 19 HR
- Uggla (ATL) 19 HR
- Phillips (CIN) 18 HR
- Espinosa (WAS) 17 HR
- Beckham (CWS) 16 HR
- Johnson (TOR) 16 HR
- Pedroia (BOS) 15 HR
As far as Gyorko goes, it’s fun but also potentially wildly misleading to look back at his history in the homer department. The right-handed hitter hit 55 homers the last two seasons — or one every 20 ABs — but that production occurred in the Minors’ three most hitter-made-happy leagues: the California (Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore), the Texas (Double-A San Antonio) and the Pacific Coast (Triple-A Tucson) circuits.
I’ll swipe this exchange from MiLB.com colleague John Parker’s recent Q&A with the player himself:
MiLB.com: At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, you’re not a huge guy, but you’ve put up some big power numbers the last two seasons, particularly at Lake Elsinore and Tucson. Do you consider yourself a power hitter?
Gyorko: I think that remains to be seen, really. I’ve had some good numbers the last few years, but you never know how things will shake out. I guess I consider myself a line drive hitter, but maybe with a little extra.
Now, we can’t fault Gyorko for producing at every Minor League stop he’s been, but we should point out where he’s headed: the Pads’ PETCO Park, where most sluggers are sapped of their strength. At 1.35 HR/G, PETCO is the second-stingiest yard in the Majors.
Prospect Uniformed: Indians’ Trevor Bauer in His Every MiLB Jersey, Plus More on The Montero Kerfuffle
Like or dislike him, Trevor Bauer is his own man. He’s shown that with his pitches, his preparation and his preaching. Since being the third overall pick in the 2011 Draft, whether he’s been at Class A Advanced Visalia or Double-A Mobile or Triple-A Reno, Bauer has been, well, himself.
The 21-year-old right-hander (bio, stats here) was also authentic in his first try at the Majors — a four-start stint in Arizona last summer. Which explains why he didn’t exactly get along with everyone in the D-backs clubhouse. In case your Spring Training coverage hasn’t included the Bauer-Miguel Montero duel, this story ought to send you down the worm-hole.
I covered Montero on a near-daily basis in 2010 and found him to be a smart, genial interviewee as well as a fiery, not-always-aware competitor. (He also had a run-in with the even-keeled Ian Kennedy that season.) I’ve also interviewed Bauer nearly a dozen times and have found him to be highly intelligent and, yeah, ultra-competitive and perhaps a little stubborn.
So that’s what I chalk the former battery mates’ battle up to: two guys who both want to be the best at what they do but have different ideas about how to do it. Luckily, they’re now in opposite leagues and no longer teammates. With the offseason deal that sent Bauer from the D-backs to the Indians, the unique if not eccentric righty could begin the season in Cleveland. Triple-A Columbus is also a possibility. In case he’s gone from the Minors for good…
Here is a gallery of Bauer in every uni he’s donned to date. Click on any picture to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Uniformed, head here.
Prospect Q&A: Rockies Shortstop Trevor Story on Stealing More Bases, Following Tulo’s Lead and Facing Dylan Bundy
Texan shortstop Trevor Story (bio, stats here)– the Rockies’ No. 3 and baseball’s No. 99 prospect entering his third pro season in 2013 — adjusted to the long bus rides last season, if only because he appreciated wearing the Class A Asheville unis and playing in some of the South Atlantic League’s shining ballparks. Given his last name, he was also expecting to be a part of one of the whacky promotions that embody the fun, for-fans spirit of Minor League Baseball. It didn’t happen. ”No, it hasn’t. I figured it would,” he said Thursday from his home state. “Those are fun to do.”
Well, check in with my colleague Ben Hill (@bensbiz and Ben’s Biz Blog), the master of MiLB news and constantly on the promotions beat, to get that conversation going. Where there’s a Wil (Myers), there’s a way … to get this (Trevor) Story going.
Now onto some real baseball talk below. Enjoy.
On his offseason: “I have been getting to work out at Athletes’ Performance down in Frisco and really taking advantage of that, trying to get bigger, stronger and faster. It’s been working out for me. We do a lot of agility stuff and free runs and a lot of velocity-type stuff like ladders. I’m also working on the right way to run.”
On his 2012 season at Class A Asheville: “I thought I had a good season. There is always room for improvement — I feel like I could have done better — but it was good seeing that kind of competition. I knew I could compete…”
On his 15-steal campaign on the bases: “Well, I wasn’t too surprised by [any of my numbers]. The one thing I know I’m going to work on is stealing even more bases because I felt like that was part of my game that I should have taken more advantage of. I really didn’t do [enough base-stealing], so that’s something I’m going to [focus on] this year. A lot of it was because we played in a — I mean, our lineup was stacked. We had a lot of great players that could score from first on an extra-base hit. I also just wasn’t very aggressive, didn’t really attempt enough. That’s something I’ll get more comfortable doing that. It’s a combination of experience, getting out there, reading pitchers, getting good jumps, learning when to go, but also getting faster and quicker. That’s also a big part of it. You don’t have to be fast to be a good baserunner. I think it’s [an underrated part of my game]. I really do.”
On his production as a hitter in ’12: “I felt like I gave away some at-bats, swinging at pitches I shouldn’t be swinging at. I felt like I struck out a little too much, but that’s something myself and the Rockies have talked about, and that’s one of our goals, to cut down on those and make more contact and be a better two-strike threat. A big part of is it when you get your pitch, you can’t miss it; can’t let those get away. And then you got to hit a pitcher’s pitch, and that’s not always easy.”
Zach Lee did not have a completely healthy season — or a particularly good one — in 2012. The Dodgers’ right-hander (bio, stats here) was one of a handful of prospects I zeroed in on last week when examining the up-and-down trends of our Top 100 List: Lee fell from No. 42 at the end of ’12 to No. 78 at the start of ’13. Something tells me that Lee, who enjoys the spotlight, only uses something like this as motivation. And why wouldn’t he?
Here is a gallery of the 2010 first-round Draft pick, in every uni he’s donned to date. Click on any picture to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Uniformed, head here.
If Anthony Meo was upset last week, he wasn’t going to tell me about it.
I couldn’t blame him, however, if he would have been partly perturbed. Thursday’s D-backs-Braves deal, which sent Justin Upton to Atlanta for five players including pitching prospect Zeke Spruill and infielder prospect Nick Ahmed, bumped Meo from 10th to 12 among his organization’s top-ranked farmhands. In addition to Spruill, Arizona received another Atlanta pitcher in Randall Delgado. (Once a top prospect, Delgado has pitched enough MLB games to remove himself from such rankings).
So here’s the list of starting pitching prospects in front of or just behind Meo:
Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Archie Bradley, David Holmberg, Spruill, Evan Marshall, Andrew Chafin and Chase Anderson.
For the record, Meo — a 2011 second-round draftee and now 22 coming off his first pro season — was all smiles when I caught up with him over the phone. He was in Myrtle Beach, working out with a group of fellow Coastal Carolina alums and D-backs farmhands Cody Wheeler and Tyler Bortnick, and in approximately his third week of throwing the baseball around. Meo has been long-tossing and anticipates sneaking in a couple bullpen sessions before Spring Training.
Me: How would you evaluate your 2012 season? (Stats here)
Meo: I was happy with it. The biggest thing was staying healthy throughout the year. That league, the California League, is not that pitcher-friendly, but it was a good year learning how the hitters work compared to the college hitters and basically just getting my feet wet. I feel like I prepared myself for another season coming up.
Me: Did anything surprise you last season?
Meo: The biggest thing was I had some command issues early on. That is one thing I really plan to improve on this season. I know that being a starting pitcher you can’t give out free people on base all the time. Over a long period of time, it’s not going to be good.
Me: How do you improve command?
Meo: I think it’s just always trying to improve on it. We always mess around with little things, but I wouldn’t say it’s one thing.
Me: On the positive side, what encourages you about last season?
Meo: The strikeout numbers were there, which is a good thing. I felt like I had a lot of times where I ran myself into some trouble with some walks and was able to luckily get a lot of strikeouts, which helps me out a bunch.
Me: Tell us about your repertoire of pitches, and what you like’d to improve upon in 2013… Fastball, slider and cutter, correct?
Meo: I’ve got a two-seam fastball that I throw for the majority of my fastballs, but I also have a four-seam as well. I like to work both sides of the plate. I feel like throwing inside is very important, especially to good hitters. I throw a slider and a knuckle-curve, and also I’m working on a changeup. It has been improving. Every time I work on it, it gets better, so that’s the one big pitch for me this year that I’m trying to develop and throw when I’m behind in the count.
This morning, MiLB.com published the first of my nine-part series on top-ranked prospects who are also top-rated defenders. The piece (linked here) focuses on the Padres’ Austin Hedges, the fourth-ranked catching prospect in all of baseball, and his talent level as well as potential behind home plate. In terms of interview extras, here are seven bonus thoughts from Hedges himself, and below is some extra stuff from my other three main sources for the original story. Enjoy.
Brad Ausmus, 18-year MLB veteran and current special assistant to the general manager in San Diego
- On Hedges’ physical tools: “The first thing that stands out is his athleticism. After that, it’s his arm. He also has very quick feet when it comes to throwing the ball, getting his body into a throwing position. His feet are extremely quick to the point where sometimes he goes too fast. I think the most important thing is playing experience, getting at-bats, seeing pitches. Number two is getting behind home plate and recognizing different game situations, so rather than having to think through a situation as a catcher, it becomes more of a reflex.”
Matt Wisler, Padres seventh-round draftee in 2011 and Class A Fort Wayne starting pitcher in 2012
- On his first impression of Hedges: “Very talented. From the first time he caught me, I could just see that he had the talent [the Padres] were talking about. Just the way he received the ball, how he brought it in. And then during Spring Training, when the catchers were throwing to second, we got to see his arm, and that was probably one of the more impressive things about him. He doesn’t really compare to anyone his age. He is above and beyond most of ‘em.”
- On what Hedges can improve: “His blocking. Early on [in 2012], a couple balls got by him, but in the second half of the year he didn’t have many past balls [16 for the season].”
- On Hedges’ hitting: “Coming in, people questioned his hitting, but he can hit really well. He had a lot of clutch hits, too. I remember a game against Lansing where tied the game up in the ninth with a home run. He came up pretty big a lot of times, and I think he had a much better swing than a lot of people thought he did. He hit pretty consistently the whole year.”
- On potentially working together at Class A Adv. Lake Elsinore in ’13: “I would enjoy throwing to Hedges for another year. He might be step ahead of me, but it’d be fun to throw to him again.”
Willie Blair, Class A Fort Wayne pitching coach in 2012 and Padres bullpen coach in 2013:
- On Hedges’ mental aptitude: “Not only does this kid have great tools, he is an incredible competitor — that’s what really lights me up,. If a ball gets by him or he makes a bad throw, it bothers him.”
- On Hedges’ coming of age: “When we talked about game situations, he might get a little frustrated, thinking that we were questioning [him] instead of saying, ‘Hey, this might be a better pitch to call.’ That was just early on. I think he realized, ‘Hey, these guys are just trying to help me, and I want to do anything I can do to get better.’ He showed great improvement in that area as well, being receptive to things. At certain times during a game [later in the season], he would get my attention, give me a little sign like, ‘What do you think right here?’ And I’d give it to him. He learned that, ‘Hey, I don’t know it all, and I’m still learning. I need help.’”
- On Hedges’ offensive skills: “He takes a lot of pride in his defensive abilities, but at the same time, his offense has come along nicely. I think he’s going to be a big league catcher, and has a chance to do well.”
This morning, MiLB.com published the first of my nine-part series on top-ranked prospects who are also top-rated defenders. The piece (linked here) focuses on Austin Hedges, the fourth-ranked catching prospect in all of baseball, and his talent level as well as potential behind home plate. Below are seven quotes from Hedges that did not fit into said story. Enjoy.
- On why he played catcher growing up: “I’ve always been very competitive, so it was me wanting to be in on every single play. No matter what sport I played, I wanted to be the quarterback in football, the point guard in basketball and the catcher in baseball, where not every position gets action on every single play — but the catcher is. That’s something that really interested me, being involved in every second of the game.”
- On the source of his athleticism behind home plate: “My whole life I was pretty much a utility fielder, the catching position being my best position still, but playing all those other positions, I think, helped me to apply a certain level of athleticism to the catching position.”
- On his ability coming out of the 2011 Draft: “I think I was definitely more talented and skilled defensively than offensively, but I definitely thought I was a lot better hitter than a lot of people gave me credit for. Catching is my strong-suit. That’s my biggest tool. I take pride in every aspect of the game, catching, hitting or even base running There was a knock on my hitting, so I took that personally and tried to work as hard as I could to have a successful  offensively.”
- On the biggest adjustment to catching in the pros: “Calling the game. I never really had to call pitches before. And learning how to work with the pitchers and make them feel comfortable with me behind the plate and the fingers I am putting down, whether they are comfortable throwing the ball in the dirt with a runner on third. Gaining that trust with the pitchers.”
- On what he wants to improve defensively: “Receiving is probably the most important thing for me. Making pitches that don’t look like strikes, strikes. That’s big for me. Being quiet behind home plate.”
- On what catchers he models himself after: “That’s a tough question because I model myself after a lot of catchers. I try to find the best attributes of all them. … Growing up, I loved Pudge Rodriguez. And right now, I love Yadier Molina, especially with the catch-and-throw part. In terms of blocking, Brad Ausmus and Mike Matheny were two of the best at it that I’ve ever seen.”
- On learning from player-turned-Pads exec Ausmus: “I watched Brad play for so many years, and I try to do things the way he did because, with all the Gold Glove [awards], he obviously did things the right way.”
- On how far along he is developmentally: “I think I’m scratching the surface. This past year was huge for me. I learned so much about what it’s going to take to be a successful big leaguer.”
Here is what I thought the D-backs could get from four teams for Justin Upton on Dec. 3.
Here is what the D-backs actually got from one team, the Braves, for Upton on Jan. 24.
Scout-turned-scribe Keith Law of ESPN.com wrote this of the trade today: “Arizona’s return boils down to this: One year of Martin Prado, six years of a fifth starter in Randall Delgado, two fringy prospects and one non-prospect. If that sounds like a good deal to you, I have some beachfront property in Phoenix to sell you.” An ESPN baseball editor by the name of Matt Meyers then Tweeted: “In anticipation of Willie Bloomquist’s eventually [sic] retirement, the D-backs have acquired Nick Ahmed, his minor league equivalent.”
Of all the expert opinions you may see today on this seven-player, yet-to-be-official trade, I think those two are the most illuminating. The D-backs just didn’t get very good ballplayers (even if you think the world of Prado, who is signed only through 2013). In addition to Ahmed, Arizona also received right-handed starter Zeke Spruill (a No. 4 or 5 starter) and first baseman Brandon Drury (the aforementioned “non-prospect”). It’s very likely that none of the three will be impactful, everyday big leaguers, in my education opinion.
That explains why I’ll quickly propose three woulda-coulda-shoulda ARI-to-ATL proposals. Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter what you think.
Analysis: If you’re going to trade a star like Upton, you SHOULD acquire a potential star like Simmons. And Graham (or the further-away Lucas Sims) is a better prospect than Spruill, and Terdoslavich, who can play first or third base, can do something Ahmed can’t: develop into a very good hitter.
Proposal Two: Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson for starter Julio Teheran, Prado, Graham and Spruill as well as Terdoslavich.
Analysis: OK, if Simmons was truly untouchable in Atlanta’s mind, the centerpiece of the deal COULD have been Teheran, who despite his Triple-A struggles, will end up being a better starter than Delgado.
Proposal Three: Upton and Johnson for Delgado, Prado, catcher Christian Bethancourt, Graham and Terdoslavich.
Analysis: OK, if Simmons and Teheran were both off the table, I would recommend walking away from said table. The D-backs, however, backed themselves into a corner, and therefore WOULD have insisted on the inclusion of Betancourt, an outstanding defensive catching prospect.