Archive for May 1st, 2008

Now Pitching, For The Los Angeles Angels…

The Los Angeles Angels recalled their top prospect, 21-year-old righthander Nick Adenhart, from AAA Salt Lake last night.  Once one of top high school pitching prospects in the nation and now Baseball America’s 24th-rated prospect overall, Adenhart was off to a very good start for the Bees, posting a 4-0 record and 0.87 ERA in five starts.  He takes the place of Dustin Moseley in the rotation and is expected to make his major league debut tonight against Justin Duscherer and the Oakland Athletics.  

Adenhart’s call-up isn’t surprising given his prospect status – one reason the Red Sox brought Justin Masterson up from AA Portland last week was so they could take a look at him in a major league context – and the fact that the Angels’ rotation is already hurting (John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar are both injured) but the timing is odd.  Adenhart last pitched for Salt Lake on Sunday, throwing 98 pitches in eight innings.  WIth his debut tonight, he will be pitching on just three days rest, a curious decision for a guy who already has one elbow reconstruction under his belt.

(A tip o’ the cap to Vegas Watch for noting both Adenhart’s upcoming debut and the strange circumstances surrounding it.)

Previous “Now Batting”: Evan Longoria (Rays); Jed Lowrie (Red Sox), Jeff Clement/Wladimir Balentien (Mariners)
Previous “Now Pitching”: Justin Masterson (Red Sox); Luke Hochevar (Royals); Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks)

Say Hello to your Friendly Neighborhood RailCat

Last week, OMDQ wrote a piece about the former MLB players who are hanging around the Independent leagues. That inspired the Gary RailCats to tell us about their successes in that area. We received the following email touting Tony Cogan and the rest of the RailCats roster:

“Tony Cogan is our only current RailCats player with Major League
experience, but currently we have two players that used to be RailCats
that our on Major League rosters. Relief pitcher Tim Byrdak recently got
picked up by the Houston Astros, while outfielder Nathan Haynes
currently plays for the Tampa Bay Rays. If you need more information let
me know.”


HT: 6’2″

WT: 210

B/T: L/L

HOMETOWN: Highland Park, IL

BORN: December 21, 1976

COLLEGE: Stanford University

ACQUIRED: Signed as a free agent, March 1, 2007.
HONORS: Holds the school record at Stanford for most games pitched in a
season (36 in 1997) and is tied for fifth on the school’s all-time
career saves list.selected as Stanford’s Most Inspirational Player in
1999, the year after RailCats shortstop Jay Pecci won the award at the
same school.

2007: Led the Northern League in saves with 25, setting a new RailCats
single-season club record in the process.The 25 saves tied for the third
highest total in the history of the Northern League and was the most for
any N.L. pitcher since 2004.Also pitched in the Northern League All-Star
Game in July.Earned four saves in the post-season while suffering a loss
in his only decision.Enjoyed high comfort level at the Steel Yard,
limiting opposing batters to a combined batting average of .193 while
posting an ERA of 1.61.Saw 41.1 of his 48.2 innings in either the ninth
inning or extra innings of games.At his best in the tightest spots.
Opposing batters went a combined 6 for 42 (.143) against him with men on
base and two outs.Got off to an outstanding start, posting six saves and
a win in May (RailCats played only 14 games in the month) and allowed
runs in only two of his first 15 outings.Notched 11 saves in August,
allowing just three runs in 15 games (14
innings) for the month.

CAREER NOTES: Spent most of the 2001 season in the major leagues with
the Kansas City Royals, making 39 appearances out of the Royals
bullpen.reached the major leagues in just his third season of
professional baseball after being selected in the 12th round of the 1999
draft by the Royals.Ranked fourth in the American Association in ERA in
2006.played out his option with Sioux Falls and elected free agency
following the 2006 season.Product of Stanford University, where he was a
teammate of RailCats shortstop Jay Pecci.Holds the school record at
Stanford for most games pitched in a season
(36 in 1997) and is tied for fifth on the school’s all-time career saves
list.Selected as Stanford’s Most Inspirational Player in 1999, the year
after Pecci won the award at the same school.Native of Highland Park,
Illinois and threw three no-hitters during his career at Highland Park
High School.

Thanks to Jack Cobra of Cobra Brigade for getting us in touch with the RailCats HQ.

Behold, The Dark Side of the Moon!

Here at Bus Leagues, we do a lot of writing about top prospects, and with good reason: baseball fans want to hear about guys like Jay Bruce or Max Scherzer, kids with breathtaking talent who can be viewed for the cost of a $7 ticket. 

It should be obvious by now, however, that I have a special affinity for the independent leagues, a lost segment of the baseball world that “top prospects” generally stay as far away from as possible.  Sure, there’s the occasional Luke Hochevar or J.D. Drew, someone who uses the indies to his benefit while waiting out a desired contract, but those players are few and far between.  For the most part, independent leagues feature the Crash Davises of the world, journeymen who made it to The Show for 21 days once and have spent a lifetime doing whatever it takes to get back.

Every so often, a big name with limited options heads into the independent leagues.  They do so for varying reasons.  Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson wanted to get back to the majors.  Dante Bichette wanted his younger son to see him play and to try his hand at pitching.  Rich Garces…well, I don’t know what drives Rich Garces to keep playing in the independent leagues.  All I know is that he does – and I’m continuing to reap the benefits.

When Garces played for the Nashua Pride in 2007, the news of his signing led me to write this impassioned rant.  It promised to be one of the most exciting things to happen to the city of Nashua in quite some time – and that promise came true.  I was at Holman Stadium the night El Guapo arrived, along with my friend Chris.  The excitement that Chris and I felt was unreal, and it only increased when they brought Garces out on the maintenance tractor before the game and had him stand at the plate for the national anthem.  Talk about your amazing evenings at the ballpark – I don’t even remember if we saw Garces in action, but I do know that by the end of the night, we had rechristened him with a nickname more befitting his still massive girth: “Dark Side of the Moon”. 

The Pride announced a couple of days ago that Garces will join the team once again as it defends its Can-Am League title in 2008, which means that I will once again be making several trips to Holman Stadium (the chances of seeing Barack Obama remain slim, however) throughout the summer.  I am excited.

Tough Day To Be A Rehabbing Lefty

Mulder struggles in rehab start

St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder gave up nine runs in his fourth rehabilitation start, an indication he’s far from ready to return from September shoulder surgery.

Pitching for Triple-A Memphis, Mulder allowed nine hits – three homers – and seven earned runs in 3 2-3 innings.

Durability question? Hampton leaves rehab start

Mike Hampton’s protracted comeback trail took another turn Wednesday when the pitcher left a minor-league game with more discomfort in his left pectoral muscle.

He left in the fourth inning of Class AAA Richmond’s game at Durhman, N.C., after throwing 71 pitches in what had been an encouraging outing to that point. 

To me, the interesting thing about these two cases is the way the teams are treating Mark Mulder and Mike Hampton publicly.  In the first article, Tony LaRussa says of Mulder, “I’ve been saying there’s no hurry for him,” La Russa said. “He doesn’t need to come back until he’s ready.”  A nice sentiment – just take your time, do what you’ve gotta do, make sure your arm is right and your head is on straight before you try to face major league hitters again.  No pressure.  We’re on your clock.

Cotnrast that with Bobby Cox, who had this to say about Hampton’s potential injury:

“I’ll wait and see when we get home…”

“I had him penciled in for [May 10]. I was hoping he’d make that and go six or seven innings.”

“We were counting heavily on him.”

Translation: We’re paying this guy a lot of money.  It would be nice if he could get out there and, I don’t know, at least TRY to pitch for us at some point. 

I’m not saying either sentiment is right or wrong.  The Braves certainly can’t be blamed for feeling increasingly frustrated by Hampton’s continued inability to live up to the terms of his contract.  I just thought it was interesting that two high profile pitchers took the mound for rehab starts on the same day, achieved similarly negative results, and were faced with very different responses from their major league managers.

The Z-Meter: 5/1/2008

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.


Evan Longoria, 3B, Durham (AAA) to Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Omaha (AAA) to Kansas City Royals (MLB)

Max Scherzer, RHP, Tucson (AAA) to Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Travis Snider, OF, Dunedin (A-Advanced) to New Hampshire (AA)

Josh Vitters, 3B, Boise (Short A) to Peoria (A)

This week, OMDQ and I collaborated to add a few more lower-league reps to the Z-meter. In are Justin Masterson with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, bringing his pile of Ks with him. Also Ian Gac of the Clinton LumberKings, the Midwest League entrant for the Texas Rangers. And, finally, a most wonderful confluence of silly name and true ability: meet Antonio Bastardo of the Advanced-A Clearwater Threshers (Phillies), who is striking out batters at an epic rate.

Let’s see who’s hot this week:

The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, and ready for the call that will change their lives.

Jay Bruce, CF – Louisville Bats (Reds): .309 – 15R – 5HR – 18RBI – 6SB – .543 SLG – .876 OPS

Homer Bailey, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 5GS – 3W – 2L – 1.95 ERA – 7BB – 22K

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .273 – 18R – 5HR – 14RBI – 4SB – .515 SLG – .889 OPS

Carlos Gonzalez, RF – Sacramento River Cats (Athletics): .343 – 11R – 3HR – 10RBI – 0SB – .514 SLG – .925 OPS

Ian Stewart, 3B – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .281 – 23R – 6HR – 21RBI – 2SB – .584 SLG – .953 OPS

Joe Koshansky, 1B – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .321 – 20R – 5HR – 17RBI – 0SB – .642 SLG – 1.075 OPS

Colby Rasmus, OF – Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals): .218 – 16R – 5HR – 12RBI – 4SB – .386 SLG – .702 OPS

These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but are more likely to get promoted to the top of this meter first.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP – Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers): 5GS – 0W – 3L – 1.40 ERA – 10BB – 31K

Justin Masterson, RHP – Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox): 4GS – 1W – 0L – 0.95 ERA – 5BB – 23K

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .266 – 14R – 1HR – 7RBI – 3SB – .367 SLG – .672 OPS

Jacob McGee, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 4GS – 2W – 1L – 3.32 ERA – 9BB – 21K

Cameron Maybin, CF – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .214 – 13R – 3HR – 7RBI – 4SB – .369 SLG – .734 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B – Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox): .298 – 20R – 5HR – 14RBI – 0SB – .543 SLG – .937 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 5GS – 3W – 1L – 3.10 ERA – 9BB – 15K

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .260 – 9R – 0HR – 10RBI – 4BB – 5SB – .310 SLG – .612 OPS

Jeff Samardzija, P – Tennessee Smokies (Cubs): 5GS – 2W – 2L – 3.12 ERA – 12BB – 14K

Luke Montz, C – Harrisburg Senators (Nationals): .371 – 9R – 5HR – 24RBI – 6BB – 0SB – .677 SLG – 1.098 OPS

Travis Snider, RF – Dunedin Blue Jays (Blue Jays): .103 – 3R – 0HR – 1RBI – 0SB – .103 SLG – .361 OPS

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Clearwater Threshers (Phillies): 5GS – 2W – 0L – 1.17 ERA – 10BB – 47K

Ian Gac, 1B – Clinton LumberKings (Rangers): .390 – 22R – 9HR – 24RBI – 10BB – 1SB – .817 SLG – 1.302 OPS

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Tigers (Detroit): 5GS – 1W – 4L – 2.13 ERA – 6BB – 20K

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .214 – 1R – 0HR – 1RBI – 0BB – 0SB – .429 SLG – .643 OPS

Matt Wieters, C – Frederick Keys (Orioles): .353 – 15R – 5HR – 15RBI – 11BB – 1SB – .632 SLG – 1.059 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .190 – 6R – 1HR – 4RBI – 1SB – .226 SLG – .479 OPS

Eric Niesen, P – St. Lucie Mets (Mets): 4GS – 0W – 3L – 5.73 ERA – 12BB – 14K

Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and my own irrational sense of whimsy.

Now Batting, For The Seattle Mariners…

 Less than a week ago, catcher Kenji Johjima and the Seattle Mariners agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension worth a reported $24 million.  The deal caused much confusion among observers, who wondered what this meant for Jeff Clement, the third overall pick in the 2005 draft, Seattle’s top-ranked prospect, and the 42nd ranked prospect on Baseball America’s Top 100 list.  Clement is a catcher who proved during the last two seasons that he can hit at the AA and AAA levels, but what good was that if management was going to throw a roadblock up before he could reach the top of the mountain?

Roadblock, schmoadblock.  The Mariners said “To hell with it” today, calling up Clement and outfielder Wladimir Balentien (the team’s fifth-ranked prospect).  Both players saw limited action at the major league level last season, making their debuts on the same day (September 4).  Balentien doubled in his first at-bat, Clement started 0-for-4 before finishing up 6-for-12 with a couple of homeruns.  The sample sizes were ridiculously tiny, but I still can’t help laughing at their respective OPS+: 237 for Clement, 531 for Balentien.

Early talk is that Clement could take over the DH position from Jose Vidro in the near future, while manager John McLaren is planning on using Balentien as his regular rightfielder.

Previous “Now Batting”: Evan Longoria (Rays); Jed Lowrie (Red Sox)
Previous “Now Pitching”: Justin Masterson (Red Sox); Luke Hochevar (Royals); Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks)