Archive for June 15th, 2008

Jacoby Ellsbury Is The Fastest Kid Alive

Jacoby Ellsbury, the 13th ranked prospect according to Baseball America’s preseason list, has been on the major league roster of the Boston Red Sox for the entire 2008 season to date, one of about eleven names on the Top 100 to do so.*  That makes him one of those guys that occasionally slips through the cracks at Bus Leagues: Ellsbury is clearly a major leaguer at this point, but his place on the Top 100 “allows” us to write about him if we so choose.

*The other ten: Joba Chamberlain (3), Kosuke Fukudome (30), Johnny Cueto (34), Joey Votto (44), Geovany Soto (47), Daric Barton (48), Jair Jurrjens (49), Carlos Gomez (52), Nick Blackburn (56), Manny Parra (72).  Am I leaving anyone out?  Only players who made their team out of spring training and have not been demoted are included.

Ellsbury is in the news today, not surprisingly, for his legs.  Yesterday afternoon in Cincinnati, he stole two bases to tie the Red Sox team record for stolen bases by a rookie.  Today, in the very first inning, he rolled a single through the hole between short and third, then stole second on the very first pitch to Dustin Pedroia to break the mark, which had stood since 1908.  Ellsbury then stole third and scored on Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.

In breaking the record, Ellsbury victimized fellow top prospect Homer Bailey, making his third start for the Reds.  Bailey did not have a good afternoon, allowing five runs in 2.1 innings pitched, including three homeruns (Ellsbury, Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew).  His ERA currently stands at a healthy 8.76 after three starts and the team is concerned with a serious decrease in the velocity on his fastball.

Players Born In The 1990s? God, I’m Old

Ever since I was a kid, the idea of baseball player birth dates has fascinated me.  I cut my teeth as a fan in the late 1980s and remember the awe of realizing that Ken Griffey, Jr. had been born in November 1969 – that was almost the 1970s!  (It’s a little sad, the things that passed for excitement in my childhood.)  There were guys coming up who were younger than my big sister!  And she was old!

About a decade later, the same feeling came around again, except instead of years of birth in the 1970s, we were starting to see guys born in the 1980s; instead of players younger than my sister, there were players younger than ME.  That’s when I first noted how bad it sucks to get old.

Today I decided to mess around with Baseball-Reference.com and figure out the first player born in every decade of the 20th century.  The list is below: 

1900: John Cavanaugh – July 7, 1919
1910: Joe Cicero – September 20, 1929
1920: Walt Masterson – May 8, 1939
1930: Johnny Antonelli – July 4, 1948
1940: Dave Skaugstad – September 25, 1957
1950: Lloyd Allen – September 1, 1969
1960: Tim Conroy – June 23, 1978
1970: Wilson Alvarez – July 24, 1989
1980: Albert Pujols – April 2, 2001

For now, the first and last players are clearly the worst and the best.  Cavanaugh struck out in his only career at-bat for the Phillies in 1919; Pujols needs only to play two and a half more seasons before work begins on his Hall of Fame plaque.

A 1990 birth date might not be that far off.  At least three players in Class A were born in 1990, including two who made Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, Carlos Triunfel and Angel Villalona.  Triunfel, ranked 62nd, is the shortstop for the High Desert Mavericks, Seattle’s High A affiliate.  33rd ranked Villalona is the first baseman for San Francisco’s Class A affiliate in Augusta. 

The third player, Andy Phillips, is Triunfel’s teammate with the Mavericks.  A native of South Africa, he has only nine at-bats in three games this season.

Now Batting For The San Diego Padres…

Since Evan Longoria and Jay Bruce were brought up to the Major Leagues in April and May, respectively, the prospect whose continued presence in the minors has caused the most uproar among fans is probably San Diego’s Chase Headley.  Headley spent eight games with the Padres last season, posting a .222/.333/.278 line in 21 plate appearances, but failed to make the team out of spring training in 2008.  As San Diego roared out of the gate and immediately fell more than ten games behind division-leading Arizona, the fans rose as one and began calling for The Beav* to make a grand encore entrance to The Show.

*Don’t ask me why I decided to call Headley “The Beav”.  I think at one point somebody mentioned that he played for the Portland Beavers and may have referred to him as a Beaver.  It just made sense from there.  And it just hit me that he will play his home games in Petco Park – even better.

Headley was called up by the Padres on Saturday and expected to meet the team in Cleveland in time for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Indians.  No corresponding roster move has been announced, although I saw somewhere that Jerry Hairston, Jr. injured his elbow and could be placed on the disabled list to make room.

Update: Sorry, got my Hairston’s mixed up.  Jerry Jr. plays for the Reds.  His brother, Scott, is the one with the bad elbow.  Apparently he’s day-to-day, so we’ll see what happens.