Archive for the ‘Midwest League’ Category

First Round Picks Are Starting To Sign

According to the MLB Draft Results Tracker at FanHouse, three first-round picks from last week’s draft have already agreed to contract terms and been assigned to minor league teams

  • Tony Sanchez, the Boston College catcher who went to the Pirates at number four, signed on Friday for $2.5 million and will begin his career with the West Virginia Power (A).
  • Drew Storen, the Stanford pitcher who was taken tenth with the Nationals second pick (the compensation pick for the team’s failure to sign Aaron Crow last year), signed on Wednesday for $1.6 million and will start out with the Hagerstown Suns (A).
  • Eric Arnett, the Indiana pitcher who the Brewers selected at number 26, signed yesterday for $1.2 million and was sent to Helena (Rookie).
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Bus Leagues Interview: Jonathan Johnston

Our Memorial Day post last week garnered attention from an unusual source: former Navy catcher and Oakland farmhand Jonathan Johnston.  In the section on Johnston, I linked to a Yahoo! Sports column by Jeff Passan.  Johnston left a comment on the post, I responded with an email, an exchange followed, and before I knew it, we were making plans to speak on the phone and hopefully resolve some issues he had with the way he was portrayed in Passan’s article.

Bus Leagues: I figure I’ll get right into it. Obviously, we linked that story, from Yahoo, about you, and from emails and comments that passed back and forth between us, I got the distinct impression that you were pretty bothered by the way you came across in it, the way you were presented. You actually said that it was “the antithesis” of who you are. And when you agreed to talk to me, you said you would as long as you had your real story reflected – that came across as something that was really important to you. So what I wanted to start with was, what is it you would want to say to set the record straight regarding that story?

johnston navyJonathan Johnston: The guy who wrote that, Jeff Passan, is a great guy, good writer – I don’t think he really understood where I was coming from. And he is a writer, and I understand that it’s what’s gonna catch the reader’s eye or the reader’s ear or whatever, and I understood that. But I think some of the way he kind of changed my quotes and stuff made me sound like I was a little bit less excited about being in the Navy, which is not the case. I’m very proud of it, being able to lead people, because I have to say that I’m pretty good at it. It’s something that’s exciting, there’s good job experience, there’s all these good things. The number one thing I would want to say is that I have NO regrets about being in the Navy at all, number one. And I actually enjoy what I do, but I wanna do something else. And I don’t know if that’s selfish or not, but…

BL: That was sort of the impression that I got from speaking with you and communicating with you afterward was that you enjoyed it, and you respected it, but you had another place that you wanted to be. You have another skill that has a shelf life on it, if you want to put it that way.

JJ: Exactly. It’s not that I don’t like the Navy, it’s just that – who wouldn’t want to play baseball? I can’t think of anybody that wouldn’t want to do it, if they had the opportunity, and that’s the only question I wanted to ask by doing that article was, why am I any different than any of the Army guys?

BL: A lot of you guys came out around the same time, were drafted within a couple years of each other. Do you talk to those guys, and the guys in the Navy, compare notes?

JJ: I talked to Mitch Harris, but I haven’t talked to him – he’s playing with the military All-Star team I guess, you know about that I think.

BL: Yeah, I saw he was doing some sort of traveling All-Star team or something.

JJ: Yeah, well, I did that before I got the chance to go play in the minors, and it was what it was. I’m not gonna say it was a terrible experience, but it wasn’t like I was playing a college baseball game at all. Talking about that, he’s in the place that I was a year ago, or a little more than a year ago. He wants to play, and he’s trying to do whatever he can, whatever it is, if he happened to be playing on that team, trying to hold on, just keep his skills sharp.

Little side note: my dad’s a Legion coach, he coached for like 25 years and then he ended up coaching me. He was the assistant and we had a pretty hard, old school head coach who coached me for like five years, and I don’t talk to any of the Army guys because the way I was brought up playing, we didn’t like the other team no matter what. And that’s completely different now, I understand that, but I cannot get past that for the longest time, I just hated everybody that I played against. I never really developed a rapport with those guys.

BL: It’s kind of funny to hear it put that way.

JJ: I mean, it sounds stupid…

BL: I get it, because you get it so ingrained in you that you’re not supposed to fraternize with the guys on the other team or hang out with them or talk to them, it’s just an ingrained mentality.

JJ: Yeah, and it was appalling to me to ever even see that. So I don’t talk to those other guys, but I’m happy for them.  That’s awesome that they – I think they’re doing a great service. Nick Hill, he’s doing pretty well, I’ve been following him a little bit, he’s progressing in the Mariners system, you know, he’s a great pitcher. He always had my number ‘cause, well, number one ‘cause it’s a lefty on lefty. But yeah, I think it’s awesome that people are hearing about Army. And I’m sure that wherever he goes, it’s, you know, this kid graduated from a military academy. I mean, now people are gonna pay attention to him. So I think that’s awesome for him, but I don’t really talk to him that much.

BL: So how long do you have before your commitment is done?

JJ: I have a five-year commitment, so I have two more years. Actually, two days ago was my three-year mark.

BL: Oh, wow, so you’re getting there.

JJ: Yeah, I’m almost there. Oakland’s been holding on to me. I played last year, they’ve been holding on. I’m still under contract with them. I’m trying to see if the Navy will let me go with the two-year rule. I put up another request and we’ll see where that goes. But I think I’m gonna try to get into winter ball and hopefully go back to spring training next year.

BL: So if you can get back playing, what would the Navy have you doing? Would they have you doing recruiting stuff? Because in the post I did last week, I wrote about David Robinson a little bit, and he only did a couple years of his commitment, but he was known forever afterward as The Admiral. It’s a little bit different situation, but that was such a big thing for the Navy, to have this superstar with a Navy related nickname. So it would seem to me that you would be just as valuable if you were recruiting, you know, out there as the face of the Navy.

johnston kaneJJ: Well, you know, I’m no David Robinson by any stretch. I’ll probably never ever be the star that he is, that everybody knows, and I know that. But I’m not one of those guys that didn’t have to work. I’ve worked so hard to become so much better in every aspect, not just baseball, but every aspect of my life. And that’s the way I would approach the off the field stuff for the Navy. In my request, I actually mentioned that as part of a professional organization, they encourage you to do community service and stuff like that, and that’s one thing that I would not even think twice about, is going out there. I was actually doing clinics in Kane County when I was playing there, just interacting with the kids, or whoever. I mean, whatever I needed to do. My whole thing is, I think I could find people that would do well in the Navy. I think I have a good idea about that, who would be able to perform well, and if I can talk to anybody, that’s all I’ve got to do, is get the name out there. So my answer to the question is, I would go above and beyond whatever I had to do to get the Navy’s name out there. And I’d have to work a little bit harder than David Robinson, to be honest with you. [laughs]

BL: Yeah, it’s not a perfect comparison, but I thought it was interesting because it shows how some good publicity and some good feeling can be generated just by a story and by you saying, “You know, the Navy has given me this opportunity to be a recruiter and to work in other ways, they’ve worked with me.” It seems like that would be more valuable to them than to have somebody who’s kind of frustrated, and who respects what he does, but is a little frustrated by the fact that there’s something else going on that you want to be doing.

JJ: Oh yeah, I mean, like I said, the Department of Defense policy actually says you serve two years then you do double the remaining service that you owe. So that would be whatever I owe, I owe two years now, two times two is four, so I would owe four years in the reserves. I would still be in the reserves, in the Navy, but I’d be playing. That’s the Department of Defense policy. The Navy policy was suspended while Secretary Winter was in office. Whether that changes now or not, I don’t know. But the opportunity is out there, I think I need to go for it. Like I told you in my email, I’ve never tried to get out of something, I’m not trying to get out of my commitment. I’m trying to do within the rules of the Navy what I can do for the Navy. I think, I’ve done three years of active service and I’ve been blessed to do some pretty amazing things and be in some pretty cool situations, and perform well in them. So, I mean, if I can do something – next year I’m gonna be going into shore duty anyway, so hopefully they let me start a little bit early and go play and do something maybe a little bit more noteworthy.

BL: Yeah, I gotta say, on a non-baseball note, I was actually fascinated from that Yahoo story about the experience that you had with the pirate attacks over off the coast of Somalia. Because obviously that was a huge issue, what, six weeks or so ago. Especially around here, I’m in New Hampshire, the captain was from Massachusetts, so it kind of got a little extra play up here, I think. I found that fascinating, and it’s kind of an off-topic note, but what goes through your mind when you get that call and they say, “Hey, we gotta go do this.” Is it just, you think of your training and you just go do it? What goes through your mind there?

JJ: Well, I’ll tell you one thing that doesn’t go through your mind: exactly what was in that article, the fact that I couldn’t think about anything else but playing baseball. What happened to me was I had just taken over the watch, I was the officer on the deck, I’m in charge of the ship. I’m the head guy in charge of the ship for the captain, because the captain’s not up there all the time. And I had just taken it, I hear the call over the radio, you know, “Mayday mayday, we’re being attacked by pirates, they’re shooting rockets at us. And this is our location.” And I go look at the chart, and it’s like, it’s right there! So, I just head right to them. I mean, it’s just reaction at that point. It’s just like baseball, you work so hard and prepare so much that you know what you want to do, and to be honest, being the type of guy that I am, I wanna go do something anyway. So, I’m going at ‘em. And I did all the reports I had to do, I called the captain, this and that, and everybody got out there eventually, but I just had to get into position that we could do something if we had to. So yeah, it’s just reaction.

BL: That’s a pretty amazing experience, from my perspective.

JJ: It is, it’s exciting.

BL: So you said you’re going back onto shore duty now? So what is that, you won’t be out…

JJ: No no no, right now I’m what they call the Damage Control Assistant, I’m basically the fire chief on the ship. So that’s what I’m doing right now, and next year I’m slated to go to shore duty.

BL: So you’re hoping the shore duty could coincide with…

JJ: Well, no, I’m actually hoping they let me go and do this a little earlier than next year.

BL: Okay, I think I got it. Another thing I picked up – honestly, I thought that story had a lot of information in it, and one thing I picked up on was the conversation you had with Oakland’s assistant GM when you told him that you had to leave, you said, “Please don’t forget about me.” Do you feel like they’ve been pretty supportive of this?

JJ: Oh my God, I will go beyond that. Oakland’s organization is one of the best organizations I know. The coaches, the people that they have, they have it right. The whole key to an organization is getting good people in it, and they have that. And you know, for whatever reason, it is a business, but they have been very supportive and understanding of the fact that I can’t really control what’s going on, and I think they know how hard I am willing to work and whatever I need to do I’ll get it done. I’ve been blessed to be with Oakland, and it’s pretty amazing how I got with them too.

BL: Yeah, you weren’t drafted right out of school, but you had a tryout afterward?

JJ: Yeah, I wasn’t drafted out of school, and then I knew somebody that knew somebody that knew a scout, and the scout gave me a tryout. I went and worked out with him and he was like, “We want to sign you.” And I was like, “Where?” And then they wouldn’t let me go right away, and they drafted me the following summer. I was pretty upset after I didn’t get drafted my senior year because they were telling me I was supposed to, and a lot of teams were looking at me, but it didn’t work out then, and maybe it’s better that it didn’t.

BL: So you’ve got 36 games of professional baseball under your belt. If you never played again professionally, would you be able to look back on that and be happy about it, knowing that you couldn’t really control the circumstances but that you at least made it to professional baseball, which not a lot of people can say?

JJ: I kind of have to answer that question in two ways. One, yes, I’m happy for the opportunity to play professional baseball, without a doubt. I’m so glad I got to play for 36 games. Those 36 games, and that entire time, spring training to when I left, was THE best time of my life. I had so much fun, I mean, I’m playing baseball everyday. Yes. On the other side of me, I have to say I always told myself that I wanted to stop playing on my own terms, and I think every player wants to stop playing on their own terms. I feel like I’m still getting better, I’m still improving my game, and I want to be the best player that I can be before I stop playing. Whether I make it to the bigs or not, or if I make it to Double A or High A or whatever and that’s as good as I can get, that’s fine. As long as I was as good as I can be.

BL: Is there anything else that you want to add? I wanted to make sure that if I was going to talk to you that I did justice to it, that I gave you the chance to say what you wanted to say. Was there anything else in closing that you wanted to throw out there that you wanted to set straight or anything that you felt needed to be said?

JJ: Basically I don’t really care what people think. I just don’t like coming across as somebody that’s not grateful for what I’ve been given. I’m grateful for being in the positions I’ve been in, being able to lead sailors in the Navy, some of the best sailors that I’ve seen, and going to one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, in the world, really. I’m not ungrateful for anything. I’m just trying for another opportunity, and I don’t think you can fault me for that. And that opportunity is hopefully going to help the Navy as well. That’s the way I would like people to think about me, if they had to. I just don’t want anybody to think that I’m ungrateful.

Thanks to Jonathan for taking to time to talk with us.

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 6

What a week this has been!  Alex Rodriguez has a dramatic return from his injury with a first pitch homer on 5/8/09 and Manny Ramirez shows his feminine side by being the latest superstar to test positive for PEDs.  Still though, bobblehead promos are front and center on my end of this blog.  Here’s the lineup this week:

San Francisco Giants 5/12/09 Lou Seal (Chinese) (Mascot) – Part of a Chinese Heritage Night Promotion.  Although a Seal as a Lion Dancer is quite intriguing.

Chicago Cubs 5/12/09 Ernie Banks – First 10,000 – Cubbies go retro with his second giveaway.

Memphis Redbirds 5/12/09 Keith McDonald – First 1,000 – Another in the Redbirds alumni series.

Trenton Thunder 5/13/09 Joba Chamberlain First 2,000 6 and over – Last year they gave out a Joba for plan holders only. This time a straight giveaway.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5/15/09 Chris “Butter” Ball – First 1,000 – It’s time for the Pelicans to honor their groundskeeper following in the footstep of Trenton and Clearwater. He also boasts the title of 3-time consecutive winner of the Carolina League field of the Year!

Lansing Lugnuts 5/16/09 Carlos Zambrano – Lansing chooses to honor a no-hitter by a Cubs alumnus even though they are a Jays farm team.

Pittsburgh Pirates 5/16/09 Nate McLouth – Pirates annual All-Star bobblehead.

Tampa Bay Rays 5/16/09 Evan Longoria Figurine – This is probably the only way you can get this hot hitter to stand still, other than an upcoming bobblehead of course!!!

Texas Rangers 5/16/09 Josh Hamilton – The Rangers honor the defending HR derby champion.

San Francisco Giants 5/17/09 Tim Lincecum – First 20,000 – The Giants give the reigning NL Cy Young champ his due.

St. Louis Cardinals 5/17/09 Lou Brock Statue – First 25,000 16 and older – Continue your collection in the Cardinals bronze statue series with this one-of-a-kind replica of the Hall of Famer, just like the one that stands on the corner of 8th and Clark.

Toronto Blue Jays 5/17/09 Alex Rios – First 10,000 – This bobblehead is one of the first I’ve ever seen with a weight around the bat.

This week’s bobblehead travels take me to Trenton for the Joba bobblehead night on Wednesday. Don’t be chicken, Don’t be shy, come around and just say hi.

Quad Cities River Bandits Star in “Sugar”

sugarI love a good formulaic feel-good baseball movie as much as the next guy. Especially when the premise is inventive, like it was in “Field of Dreams”. But when you get to the more Disney-esque types of films, I tend to lose interest – I feel like I’ve seen it before, as the plucky loser makes good.

Sounds like the latest baseball film, “Sugar”, is a more realistic look at how baseball winnows its talent pool. It’s the story of a Dominican pitcher who plays well enough to make it out of the Republic and onto a minor-league roster. In the Disney version, Miguel “Sugar” Santos would suffer a mid-career setback, turn things around, fall in love, and win his major league debut.

But this movie isn’t about beating the odds. It’s about real life. From the reviews I’ve read, Sugar finds out he’s good, but not great. So he tops out in the minors, and has to figure out what to do with his life after baseball dead-ends. It might sound depressing, but this film is made by the production team that created the fantastic film “Half Nelson“, which gave us a drug-addicted teacher and a disadvantaged student who make small but important differences in one another’s lives. If this story is treated with the same even-handed approach, it should be gripping.

The part that interested me from a Bus Leagues perspective was my attempt to find out what minor-league ballparks might have been used in the filming. I know from the movie’s press kit that it was shot in the Dominican, Arizona, Iowa, and the Bronx. The only info I could find was about the Iowa location:

Once the action in the film moves to the U.S., the filmmakers wanted to be just as accurate in their depiction of life among minor league players. To find the home for the Single-A team that marks the apex of Miguel’s career, they spent days driving around Iowa. They eventually decided on Davenport, a small city on the banks of the Mississippi.

 

“The city and the team really embraced us,” says Patricof. “We used the uniforms and the stadium of the real team.”

[Sugar Press Kit]

That team is the Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals). If you look at the movie’s poster, you see the distinctive bridge over the Mississippi that looms near the stadium. The River Bandits have a big movie premiere party going on this weekend, with the movie’s star throwing out the first pitch and signing autographs. The River Bandits’ stadium also has a marvelous name: Modern Woodmen Park. Not a bad name if your team brings big bats to the game every night. Or if you’re filming a baseball-themed porno. Which, come to think of it, you could totally also name “Sugar”.

Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to catching “Sugar” when it comes to my town. And I’ll have a special eye out for the baseball haven of Davenport, Iowa (they grow corn in the outfield!) during the minor-league scenes.

[Quad Cities River Bandits] [Sugar Film Site]

This Week in Bobbleheads Week 3

Baseball fever is officially in regular season mode.  2 new venues have debuted for MLB here in NY, minor league reports are starting to mount and promotional schedules continue to mount.  Here’s this week’s report on the still prosperous hobby:

Chicago Cubs 4/21/09 Carlos Zambrano “No-Hitter” Statue – First 10,000 fans – Z’s feat is especially amazing considering this was to be a “road game” in a neutral site due to a hurricane in Texas, yet more like a home game since the Cubbies next door neighbors are in Milwaukee.

Mississippi Braves 4/21/09 Tim Hudson – First 500 fans – Leftovers of the Atlanta ’08 giveaway.

San Francisco Giants 4/21/09 Manny Pacquiao – The Filipino boxer’s figure is in conjunction with Filipino Heritage Night, along with it being close to his next boxing tangle.

Mississippi Braves 4/22/09 Bobby Cox – First 500 fans – Another A-Braves leftover to give to M-Brave fans.

Arizona Diamondbacks 4/25/09 Justin Upton – First 25,000 fans – This will be J-Up’s first MLB uni bobble following Norfolk’s ’08 representation in a hometown heroes series.

Cleveland Indians 4/25/09 Kerry Wood – The only problem with this bobblehead is his beard isn’t thick enough.

Fans of this blog, the hobby and baseball are going to love this Vanity Fair article regarding the economics of baseball at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/04/spring-training200904 .  Page 1 has quotes by yours truly on not only the hobby, but the cancer that is Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees clubhouse.  Continue to follow the schedule of bobbleheads past, present and future at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com/

See ya next week

This Week in Bobbleheads Week 2

Now that opening day has come and gone, the smell of baseball is firmly entrenched in our senses and the promotions will start to pile up.  As the schedules get busier, so will I in reporting all there is to know about the hobby of bobbleheads week by week.  Ok here we go:

Detroit Tigers 4/13/09 Miguel Cabrera – First 10,000 fans – The AL HR champ in 2008 will add to his laurels with his 2nd Tiger prize.

Lehigh Valley Ironpigs 4/16/09 Shane Victorino – First 3,000 fans – The “Flyin Hawaiian” made a quickie rehab stint here as part of his 2008 World Series year.

Houston Astros 4/17/09 Lance Berkman – First 10,000 fans – In the 2009 version of his bobblehead, Berkman sports a puma glove on his right hand, giving props to his nickname “Big Puma”.

Seattle Mariners 4/17/09 Ichiro Suzuki – First 20,000 Fans – The annual tribute to this 2 time WBC MVP.

Minnesota Twins 4/18/09 Joe Mauer Bronze Statuette – First 10,000 Fans – He may be on the DL at present, but he is still regarded highly enough to be in bronze.

Pittsburgh Pirates 4/18/09 Ryan Doumit – His first solo act as a collectible figure after a prior feature as a triple threat bobble.

Toronto Blue Jays 4/19/09 Lyle Overbay – First 10,000 Fans – Seems to have decreased playing time with the addition of Millar, but still a fan favorite in collectibles.

These posts will continue weekly through0ut the season.  Be sure to check out The Only Accurate Bobblehead forum in the hobby today at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com .  If you see something that needs to be brought to our attention, such as adding dates or filling in missing dates, let us know there not to mention come to trade with us.

PS I will be attending the Victorino giveaway on 4/16 making the trek to Allentown shortly after the Yankees home opener at the new palace.  Come find me and say hello.

The Z-Meter: 4/7/2009 – Hope Springs Anew

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.

Promoted: None

Nobody has accumulated stats yet, so this first edition of ’09 will just introduce you to the players and give you some idea of why they’re on this list. We’ll start keeping a weekly tally of stats and farm-system promotions next week.

Players new to the list are added in green. The rest are holdovers from last year. You’ll also notice that we’ve added the college line. Odds of this being used often are very small. But this year, we have a guy who’s really worth watching.


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

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): A mainstay on last year’s list, and very close to being called up for good.

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): Couldn’t quite keep pace with fellow Rays hurler David Price, but came pretty close.

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals: Great Hawaiian name, and plays for my hometown team. Can belt the ball, no doubt.

Mat Gamel, 3B – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): Got a couple of at-bats in Milwaukee last season, striking out once and knocking a double. Odds are, he’ll get a chance to try again, and soon.

Matt LaPorta, CF  – Columbus Clippers (Indians): Former teammate of meter-mates Gamel and Escobar, LaPorta was traded as part of the Sabathia deal. His numbers tailed off after that, but he’s still starting the season in Triple-A, so he’s not far from livin’ the dream at this point.

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): Escobar gets on base (.328 average) and then makes you pay (34 stolen bases). He did plenty of damage at Huntsville, so he gets to start in AAA with Gamel.

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): Added by Will because he throws big-time gas. As Will says “As far as I’m concerned, with the radar gun it’s triple digits or go home.”

Ramiro Pena, SS – Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees: The switch-hitting shortstop from Mexico was suggested by our bobblehead guru, Eric Marinbach.

Jordan Zimmermann, RHP – Syracuse Chiefs: An Extra P. choice, Zimmermann would like to join the man with the one-letter-shorter version of his last name in D.C. this season. How I kept Zimmermann off of the Z-meter this long, I’ll never know.


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

Austin Jackson, OF – Trenton Thunder (Yankees): Jackson is the top prospect in the Yanks organization, according to Baseball America. He played well in spring training, even belting a grand slam, but there’s no room for him in the Bronx right now.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): The lefty was flying up the meter last season until he got hurt, ending up playing in just 19 games all year long.

Matt Wieters, C – Bowie Baysox (Orioles): Being hailed as a god in Charm City, and was the top overall prospect of last year, an honor previously held by Jay “The Deal” Bruce. Hit well over .300 in a season split between A and AA. Expect to see him in Camden some time this year. 

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): This guy kind of embodies the frustration of playing for a championship-winning organization. He’s playing really well, but there’s no room above right now.

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): Started in center for the International side in the MLB Futures Game. I can’t currently figure out where he’s been assigned, but I’ll update his status as soon as I know.

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): My favorite fireballer from last season. Had the most wins of any pitcher in the minors, with a total of 18. Struck out 160 batters as well, so, you know… holy crap.

Daniel Bard, RHP – Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox): Another of Will’s heat-throwing selections. He went 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA for the Sea Dogs last season.

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): Started 2008 in the Dodgers organization before being swapped to the Indians as part of a deal for Casey Blake. Has been destroying the minors, once getting seven RBIs in a single game, and carrying a .999 OPS throughout the season.


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): Gac! has almost become a standard salutation between OMDQ and I. The man practices economy of name, and he doesn’t waste at-bats, either. Gac! hit 32 homers last year, and drove in 109 runs.

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): Moustakas struggled in the first half of his debut season, but grew steadily stronger and more disciplined in the second half. Ended up with 22 homers and a pile of doubles.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP – San Jose Giants (Giants): Bumgarner was added to the meter late last season, so we hardly got to know him before it was all over. He went 15-3 at Augusta as a rookie, with a 1.46 ERA, and will begin the season in A-Advanced as a result.

Michael Ynoa, RHP – not assigned yet (Athletics): OMDQ wanted to see the man of many names in our countdown. Given how highly sought-after the Dominican righty has been, he’s bound to make a splash.

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: MVP for the International side of the MLB Futures Game last season. My (Extra P’s) choice to add because he’s awesome, and because he’s playing close enough to my home for me to go see him.

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): Another Extra P. selection, Vitters had epic 25- and 15-game hitting streaks at short-season Boise before spending a very brief four-game stint at Peoria to end his first pro season. Hits for average and legs out some doubles.

Shooter Hunt, RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): Shooter’s here for a few reasons. One, he went to Virginia, as did the man I named this meter after, and I live in Charlottesville, so I watch Virginia often. Second, his name is Shooter Hunt, for god’s sake. That shit is like catnip to me.

Justin Smoak, 1B – Hickory Crawdads (Rangers): BA’s Prospect Handbook compares Smoak favorably to Mark Teixiera, and that’s good enough for us. He had a record-setting career at the University of South Carolina and was a teammate of Matt Wieters in high school.


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

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State:  Has shown 100+ on the radar gun, and was the only college player to make the Olympic team last year. He’ll clearly be a top pick when he declares, so OMDQ says “no shame in tracking his stats right now.” Consider it done.

7 GS – 6W – 0L – 1.49 ERA – 10 BB – 94 K


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