Archive for July 27th, 2009

The Z-Meter: 7/27/2009; Jhoulys Ascendant!

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.


Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)
Matt LaPorta: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
Daniel Bard: Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) to Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Mat Gamel: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Fernando Martinez: Buffalo Bisons (AAA) to New York Mets (MLB)
Matt Wieters: Norfolk Tides (AAA) to Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
Antonio Bastardo: Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA) to Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
Andrew McCutchen: Indianapolis Indians (AAA) to Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
Jhoulys Chacin: Tulsa Drillers (AA) to Colorado Rockies (MLB)
Antonio Bastardo: Reading Phillies (AA) to Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA)
Justin Smoak: Frisco Rough Riders (AA) to Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA)

Madison Bumgarner: San Jose Giants (A) to Connecticut Defenders (AA)
Yonder Alonso: Sarasota Reds (A) to Carolina Mudcats (AA)
Pedro Alvarez: Lynchburg Hillcats (A) to Altoona Curve (AA)

Mauricio Robles: West Michigan Whitecaps (A) to Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+)
Josh Vitters: Peoria Chiefs (A) to Daytona Cubs (A+)

As Brian reported earlier, Jhoulys Chacin has been called up from AA Tulsa to the big club in Colorado. As happy as I am to see one of my favorite Bus Leaguers move up, I have to question the way it was done. The Rox have just taken a young guy from the smothering heat and humidity of Oklahoma directly to the dry altitude of Denver. Had Jhoulys been able to make a couple of starts in AAA Colorado Springs, he might be a little better prepared for the way his ball is going to move, or, as the case will most certainly be, not move.

But to hell with that stinkin’ thinkin’. Go get ’em, Jhoulys!

In other news, I’ve officially given up on Shooter Hunt. The balls-out amusing name was not enough to save him when his rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League turned into a further demonstration of how he just can’t pitch. 0-4 with an ERA over 9.00 is more than I can take. He’s gone.

So, welcome two new members. Eddy Martinez-Esteve, who has the triple-bonus of 1) a lengthy, hyphenated last name that stretches across his entire jersey like a rainbow 2) I saw him play in college when FSU won the ACC tournament in Salem, VA and 3) is actually pretty damn good. Also, Travis Wood, who maintained a 1.21 ERA with 103 Ks with the Carolina Mudcats, which earned him a post-break promotion to AAA Louisville. Travis, you’re our first L’ville Bat since “The Deal”, so be gentle with us.

Welcome aboard, fellas.

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

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 20 Games – 8 W – 6 L – 3.22 ERA – 47 BB – 103 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .264 – 60 R – 13 HR – 41 RBI – 77 BB – 0 SB – .466 SLG – .869 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .304 – 67 R – 3 HR – 31 RBI – 26 BB – 35 SB – .418 SLG – .772 OPS

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): 20 Starts – 6 W – 9 L – 5.18 ERA – 38 BB – 112 K

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .313 – 47 R – 4 HR – 39 RBI – 33 BB – 17 SB – .432 SLG – .807 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B – Oklahoma City RedHawks (Rangers): .171 AVG – 9 R – 1 HR – 8 RBI – 10 BB – 0 SB – .244 SLG – .510 OPS

Travis Wood, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 1 Game – 0 W – 0 L – 1.35 ERA – 4 BB – 5 K

These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.


Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .259 AVG – 43 R – 8 HR – 47 RBI – 46 BB – 1 SB – .390 SLG – .739 OPS

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .272 AVG – 64 R – 19 HR – 69 RBI – 63 BB – 0 SB – .534 SLG – .930 OPS

Andrew Locke, OF – Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros): .324 AVG – 58 R – 13 HR – 86 RBI – 34 BB – 1 SB – .489 SLG – .863 OPS
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): 12 Games – 7 W – 1 L – 1.74 ERA – 20 BB – 52 K
 Jeanmar Gomez, RHP – Akron Aeros (Indians): 15 Starts – 7 W – 3 L – 3.54 ERA – 27 BB – 71 K
Yonder Alonso, 1B (injured) – Carolina Mudcats (Reds): .246 AVG – 4 R – 1 HR – 8 RBI – 6 BB – 1 SB – .377 SLG – .686 OPS
Kyle Drabek, RHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 9 Games – 6 W – 1 L – 3.12 ERA – 19 BB – 44 K
Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Altoona Curve (Pirates): .283 AVG – 18 R – 6 HR – 17 RBI – 7 BB – 0 SB – .525 SLG – .849 OPS
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): .300 AVG – 43 R – 4 HR – 41 RBI – 32 BB – 1 SB – .418 SLG – .783 OPS

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

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .234 AVG – 49 R – 16 HR – 43 RBI – 24 BB – 1 SB – .447 SLG – .738 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .247 AVG – 52 R – 11 HR – 61 RBI – 20 BB – 8 SB – .409 SLG – .693 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .266 AVG – 59 R – 6 HR – 45 RBI – 48 BB – 19 SB – .371 SLG – .727 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Daytona Cubs (Cubs): .227 AVG – 8 R – 0 HR – 10 RBI – 2 BB – 1 SB – .307 SLG – .560 OPS

Collin Cowgill, OF (injured) – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .277 AVG – 39 R – 6 HR – 36 RBI – 29 BB – 11 SB – .445 SLG – .819 OPS

Mauricio Robles, P – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Tigers): 7 Starts – 4 W – 2 L – 3.60 ERA – 14 BB – 40 K

Tim Beckham, SS – Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays): .278 AVG – 40 R – 5 HR – 54 RBI – 27 BB – 7 SB – .408 SLG – .744 OPS

Ezekiel Spruill, RHP – Rome Braves (Braves): 18 Games – 8 W – 5 L – 1 SV – 3.06 ERA – 21 BB – 85 K

Brad Brach, RHP – Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres): 45 Games – 1.17 ERA – 3 W – 2 L – 26 SV – 9 BB – 64 K

Jamie McOwen, RF – High Desert Mavericks (Mariners): .335 AVG – 54 R – 6 HR – 58 RBI – 30 BB – 7 SB – .485 SLG – .878 OPS

NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 14 Starts – 13 W – 1 L – 1.32 ERA – 19 BB – 195 K

Strasburg was the #1 pick in the college draft this season, and will join the Washington Nationals system any old day now. He remains here as an honorary member.

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

Now Pitching For The Colorado Rockies…

The first “Now Pitching For” in forever, and I’m like four days late on it.  That’s how I roll.

Jhoulys Chacin burst onto our radar last season when he went a combined 18-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 177.2 innings for Modesto and Asheville.  His performance earned him a coveted spot on the Z-Meter last May, and he hasn’t left since.  Well, until now, but this is like graduation day, really.

Chacin’s walks were up and his strikeouts were down at AA Tulsa this season, but that didn’t stop the Rockies from calling him up on Friday to take the place of reliever Ryan Speier, who was designated for assignment.  He made his major league debut on Saturday, pitching the ninth in an 8-2 Rockies win over San Francisco.  He walked one, threw a wild pitch, and struck out two.

A Walkoff Win, Followed By A No-Hitter – This Is Not Charleston’s Week

Hunter Strickland and Diego Moreno of the West Virginia Power teamed up to pitch a pretty good game tonight, no-hitting the Charleston RiverDogs, 4-0, at Appalachian Power Park.

Strickland went the first six, striking out five and allowing just two baserunners (an error and a hit batsman) before turning it over to Moreno, who pitched the final three innings for his fourth save.

I tuned in to the radio broadcast for the ninth and was pleasantly surprised to hear West Virginia’s announcer steadfastly refusing to utter the actual words “no-hitter”.  That silly bit of superstition bothers some people, but I’ve always appreciated it as one of the fun little things that makes baseball great.

This was the second of a four-game series between the Power and the RiverDogs, and so far, the home team is giving the fans their money’s worth.  On Sunday, West Virginia overcame deficits of 2-1, 5-2, and 6-4 before eventually winning on a walkoff homerun with two out in the ninth.

Pedro Martinez’s Low Fuel Light Is On; How Much He Actually Has Left Is Anyone’s Guess

Pedro Martinez made his first rehab start of the season on Sunday for Philadelphia’s A-level affiliate in Clearwater.  One of our bestest blog friends, the inimitable Jordi Scrubbings, was there to witness Petey’s rain-shortened outing:

Martinez, signed by the Phillies a few weeks ago, was clearly not the Pedro of old and I could tell he knew it. The 97 mph fastball was long gone, the aura and mystic was fading, and he was fighting to prove his ability to merely contribute. The former Cy Young ace was now a conjurer, a Merlin of the mound, hoping his knowledge, guile, and a little bit of smoke and mirrors was enough to make it back to the Show.

Last time Pedro returned from a long layoff, in 1997, Scott Hatteberg said much the same thing – he didn’t have the heat, didn’t have the breaking stuff, had a long way to go to return to respectability.  At the time, here’s what I wrote about that comeback, which saw him pick up his 3,000th career strikeout:

Pedro will never have his “old stuff” back. He’s 35 years old with a variety of injuries. He’s a back-end starter, a guy who goes out there once a week or so when the team needs a boost and manages to claw and scratch and fight for five or six innings before handing things over to the bullpen. He’s the guy who can sit on the bench and talk to the young pitchers about their approach – they’ll never have his ability, but they can have his brain.

I don’t think that’s changed.  I think Pedro has accepted his shortcomings and wants to be the sort of pitcher who can contribute in any way possible.  The question now is whether or not he can will his body to be capable of even that much.  Jordi saw him in action, and while it was only 1 1/3 innings, he was not optimistic:

As it was the major league Mets who put him out to pasture after last season, the minor league Mets put the final nail in his legendary career. Although I didn’t expect Pedro to dominate, it was clear he was struggling. Most of his pitches were up in the zone, the Mets were getting good wood on the ball, and he only produced one swinging miss, albeit on a classic Pedro change-up. The box score will say Pedro didn’t do that badly, giving up one hit, hitting a batter, and striking one. But great change-up aside, I’d say his tank is empty.

Please, God, let Jordi be wrong, just this once.  Let this be the Pedro of old breaking himself in the way he knew best, by working on whatever it was he wanted and not caring about the results.  Let there be one more thunderclap in that golden right arm, one more ten strikeout performance on a hazy summer day, one more outing that makes me call my son into the room and say, “Son, THIS is what greatness looks like.”