Archive for the ‘AAA’ Category

Jason Heyward Has Awesomeness Confirmed With Awards From Baseball America, USA Today

Two years ago, Bus Leagues began building its massive empire on the strength of Jay Bruce, the Cincinnati Reds farmhand who won Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year award at the end of the 2007 season.  We spoke of Bruce in hushed tones until he was called up midway through the 2008 campaign, followed his early days in the majors with guarded interest, and performed a complicated set of Internet high-fives when someone mentioned this blog to him and he said he liked the nickname we gave him last year.

In short, Jay Bruce was our first man-crush.

Conversely, when Matt Wieters won the same award last year, Bus Leagues Headquarters was largely silent.  I remember thinking to myself, “Gee, I should write something about this,” but it never came to fruition, and while I tried to give Wieters a nice welcome to The Show by pointing out his Chuck Norris-like facts site, it just wasn’t the same.  We enjoy Wieters, we think he’s gonna be a great player for a long time, we just don’t get the same sense of awesome that we did about Bruce.

The question now is this: where will Jason Heyward fit into the equation?

Heyward, the top prospect in the Atlanta Braves system, was named the Minor League Player of the Year this week by both Baseball America and USA Today (neither Bruce nor Wieters won the latter award, losing out to Justin Upton and David Price, respectively; in addition to Heyward, four players – Andruw Jones (1995-96), Rick Ankiel (1999), Josh Beckett (2001), and Jeff Francis (2004) – have taken home both) after a season that began in the High-A Carolina League, continued through the Double-A Southern League, and will likely end in the Triple-A International League (barring a late September experiential call-up to the Braves).

The 20-year-old Heyward was the fifth-rated prospect by Baseball America prior to last season and the only one of the top eleven on the list who has not seen action at the major league level.

His overall numbers at three stops – 17 homeruns, 63 RBI, 69 runs, 51 walks, 51 strikeouts, .323/.408/.555 – were very good.  What set Heyward apart, however, was the environment in which he posted those stats:

“When you consider his ability and his actual performance, especially what he’s done at higher levels, and the power he showed as a notorious pitcher’s park (in Myrtle Beach) … he had a standout season,” Baseball America editor John Manuel said. “His advanced plate discipline, combined with his youthfulness and the difficulty of those leagues ñ the Carolina League, the Southern League, they are very difficult for a 19 to 20-year-old – he made it look easy.”

That’s the amazing thing, when you think about it: Jason Heyward is still just 20-years-old (and a young twenty at that – his birthday was August 9).  Despite that, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing him in the Atlanta outfield next season.  You have to be at least a little special to reach the majors that early.

I don’t know how Heyward’s career will turn out, or if he will become an official Bus Leagues Favorite.  If nothing else, though, he’s off to a great start.

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It’s A Beautiful Day, Isotopes Fans – Let’s Turn Three

The front page of MiLB.com has a note that Albuquerque turned a triple play in Game One of its playoff series yesterday against Memphis.  I wanted to see how it happened, so I went to the game recap and found this description:

  • Brian Barden walks.
  • Mark Shorey singles on a line drive to third baseman Blake DeWitt. Brian Barden to 2nd.
  • Matt Pagnozzi grounds into a triple play, shortstop Chin-lung Hu to first baseman Hector Luna to shortstop Chin-lung Hu. Brian Barden out at 3rd. Mark Shorey out at 2nd.

Call me crazy, but I found it impossible to make any sense out of that.  Good thing there was link to a game story:

Memphis added another run in the fifth and looked poised for more in the sixth until some defensive wizardry by Chin-Lung Hu got the ‘Topes out of a jam. With Brian Barden on second and Mark Shorey on first, Pagnozzi sent a grounder to short, allowing Hu to tag Barden, who was moving on contact off second, for the first out before stepping on the bag to force out Shorey and completing the third triple play in Isotopes history with the turn to Hector Luna at first.

Okay, that makes more sense.  The recap didn’t make it clear that Hu handled the first two outs on his own before throwing to first for the rare (I imagine) 6-3 triple play.  Too bad second baseman Tony Abreu wasn’t involved – Hu-to-Abreu-to-Luna has a nice ring to it.

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 23

Just got back from the Lannan bobblehead giveaway with a great story to share.   The Kinston Indians have a Taiwanese pitcher named Chen-Cheng Lee whom I’ve never seen pitch despite having seen the K-Tribe 3 times this season (Twice for bobblehead giveaways).   Joking with the pitching coach, I said hey how about putting Lee in this time since I never saw him throw the first 2 times.   He said ok and basically I thought he was just kidding.   Sure enough in the 8th, K-Tribe manager Chris Tremie signaled for Lee to get ready and he pitched the bottom half.   Happy as a lark, I snapped photos of Lee and watched him have 2Ks even though he gave up a meaningless HR in a Kinston win over Potomac.   Great times in the life of this Taiwanese player aficionado. Here’s the week ahead:

Memphis Redbirds 9/7/09 Colby Rasmus – First 1,500 – Great way to cap off the Redbirds season by giving one of its budding future Cardinal studs.

Reno Aces 9/7/09 Aceball – First 3,000 – The fan vote bobblehead in Reno features the mascot who appears when homers are hit.

Lowell Spinners 9/8/09 Extreme Blue The Frisbee Dog (Mascot) – First 1,500 – The regular season didn’t have any days left from this earlier rainout for this promo so they saved it for their playoff run.

Pittsburgh Pirates 9/8/09 Arnold Palmer – The Pirates celebrate the 80th birthday of this Latrobe, PA golf legend.

West Michigan Whitecaps 9/10/09 Jeremy Bonderman – First 1,000 – The Whitecaps have made a habit of playoff bobblehead giveaways, and this one features Bondo in a special jersey.

Arizona Diamondbacks 9/12/09 Augie Ojeda – First 25,000 – When the D-Backs traded Tony Pena to the White Sox, all hell broke loose in the Arizona bobbleworld. Ojeda was moved up to this day, which was originally scheduled to be Tony and Ojeda’s runner up was added as a final giveaway later on this month…Stay tuned.

Houston Astros 9/12/09 Jose Valverde – First 10,000 – Another animated closer bobblehead showing his tarzan-like antics upon celebrating a save.

Minnesota Twins 9/12/09 Jim Kaat Bronze Statuette – First 10,000 – Kitty still isn’t bronzed in Cooperstown but that hasn’t stopped the Twins from doing it at the Dome.

Detroit Tigers 9/13/09 Paws (Mascot) – All Kids 14 and under – This marks the first time the lovable tiger mascot is available as a giveaway at an MLB venue.

Florida Marlins 9/13/09 Hanley Ramirez – First 10,000 – When it comes to giving current Marlins out as figures, nobody comes to mind more than Han-Ram.

I’d also like to thank Southern Maryland BlueCrabs GM Chris Allen for the great hospitality Saturday night along with the Brooks Robinson and Roofman past giveaways. Good luck in the playoffs pal.

That Mike Hessman, He’s Got Some Stories To Tell

Before this season, I drafted Mike Hessman as a third base option in my fantasy baseball league.  It seemed worth it after he  hit five homers last September.  Hessman stuck around on my roster for awhile, but when Detroit shipped him down to the minor leagues, I figured it was time to cut him and see what else I could find (the answer: nothing.  I’m stuck in 24th place and my offense has been awful).

Maybe I’m in 24th place because I suck at reading up on players, which is why silly me didn’t realize that this Hessman kid, he’s done some stuff:

The former International League MVP has done about as much as a Minor Leaguer can over 14 seasons — a home run championship, an appearance at the Olympics and even a homer in his first Major League at-bat.

On Friday, the 31-year-old managed to add another chapter to his career.

“LP (manager Larry Parrish) came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to pull a Hoop?’ I didn’t know what he meant until he told me he wanted to know if I wanted to play all nine [positions],” Hessman told the Toledo Blade.

Four men have played all nine positions in a game in the major leagues (Bert Campaneris, Cesar Tovar, Scott Sheldon, and Shane Halter), but at the minor league level the feat has become sort of a fun thing that teams do to reward players when the playoffs are either clinched or out of reach. (I remember a few years ago, either 2003 or 2004, three Atlantic League players did it in the same game, and Adam Ricks did it last year for Winston-Salem after the team had already wrapped up a playoff spot.)

Hessman, though, was in a unique situation: when he came on to pitch the ninth, Toledo had a one-run lead.  He got the first two outs, but couldn’t seal the deal, giving up two runs and taking the loss.  In fact, it was sort of a forgettable day to remember for the veteran:

Hessman went 1-for-5 with a single and four strikeouts, was thrown out stealing, suffered his first blown save, took the loss and played all nine positions in the Mud Hens’ 12-11 loss to the Columbus Clippers.

That sort of describes his whole career in one sentence: a couple of really cool things mixed in with a bunch of stuff that just didn’t work out.

Now Batting For The San Francisco Giants…

Actually, “Now Batting For” might not be the best description for Buster Posey’s next few weeks with the Giants.  “Now Coming In As A Defensive Replacement And Occasionally Starting If Bengie Molina Can’t Play” is probably a more apt, though much wordier, option.

Posey was called up on Wednesday, capping off a remarkable season that started in the Class A Advanced California League and saw a promotion to Triple-A Fresno.  The 22-year-old catcher out of Florida State hit .325 with 18 homeruns and 80 RBI in 115 games between those two stops.

Chances are that Posey won’t get a lot of starts – the team didn’t even want to bring him up this season; Bengie Molina is still the top dog behind the plate, although he’s fighting an injury right now – but this will give him a chance to see the game from a major league dugout, which is important, I think.  Kinda like a young quarterback watching from the sidelines until he gets his bearings.

Giants fans are happy about the fact that Buster is coming to town.  And they’re doing a great job of keeping their expectations reasonable:

So welcome, Buster (nickname: Bustery Poseyey). No pressure. Just rescue the Giants’ offense while you’re up. Oh, and teach the rest of the team how to work the count. Also, dispel the myth that rookie catchers cause entire pitching staffs to implode. Also, I’d like a glass of iced tea.

That really doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

The Package of Pitching Prospects…

You’re a major league baseball team. Maybe you’re in the midst of spitting hot fire. Maybe you’re in the midst of crawling out from the wreckage of fail that an internet punster would deign to deem epic. But you have several highly touted young studs. And a source like Baseball America would deem that these kids are more than all right.

In fact, these kids are aces. 

And people who need something to hope for and something to hold on to? They get fired up. Because the future’s coming. And it’s going to be awesome.

Let me just tell you whippersnappers, not so fast.

Mention to a learned Oakland fan the four aces, and you will get a convulsion. You have David Zancaro, Kirk Dressendorfer, Don Peters, and the immortal douchebag that is Todd Van Poppel. And you have the best success being when Todd Van Poppel reinvented himself as a journeyman Chuck Crim among a set of broken dreams.

Nobody’s going to say that Jason Isringhausen has not culled himself a nice career. But he was the front man of Izzy, Pulse and Paul. They were a prog rocking power trio who were supposed to save the Mets. And while Izzy carved out a solid solo career as a closer? Paul Wilson was somebody who John Sickels called the perfect pitcher…before he started having shoulder troubles.

And we still don’t know whatever happened to Bill Pulsipher. I think he’s in Mexico. Or Alaska. He just wants me to leave him alone. Sorry.

And this is where we cross paths with today’s context. In the middle of the decade, the Rangers actually were filled with hope. Hope and Pitching. Pitching in the form of a very special DVD.

But John Danks had to go. They wanted to challenge the White Sox to a pitching prospect trade. Brandon McCarthy was what they got back. They immeadiately regretted that decision.

Edinson Volquez got fed to Dusty Baker. Josh Hamilton’s one spectacular half and moments of brilliance beyond the politics of his falling off the wagon was the return. But there was a third. The end of the DVD so to speak.

His name was Thomas Diamond. He was the 2004 1st round Pick. He fell off with shoulder injuries. Now, he’s off the Rangers 40-man roster. He deserves your sympathy. Expectations that most shoulders could not bear have fallen upon him.

The Z-Meter: 9/2/2009 September is for Call-Ups

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:

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)
Carlos Carrasco: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
 
 
Jhoulys Chacin: Tulsa Drillers (AA) to Colorado Rockies (MLB)
Alcides Escobar: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Houston Astros (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+)

Carlos Carrasco – called up! After struggling horribly at LeHigh, being traded to the Indians organization and experiencing a renaissance, Carrasco is an Indian. It wasn’t a great debut – 3 innings, 6 earned runs, and an 18.00 ERA. But it’s a big league start, and I’m not sure I would have predicted that happening based on the early-season returns at this point.

 Pedro Alvarez continues to impress in his debut season. He’s posting an OPS over 1.000, which doesn’t happen often, let alone to a newly-minted AA player. The Pirates could use him today.

Brian has kept you apprised of the all-star game participants, some of whom are on this meter. I’ll try to keep track of who plays fall ball and who gets called up, since minor-league seasons are winding to a halt. 


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): 28 Games – 10 W – 8 L – 3.40 ERA – 60 BB – 140 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .254 – 80 R – 17 HR – 54 RBI – 97 BB – 0 SB – .446 SLG – .841 OPS

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .298 – 63 R – 4 HR – 62 RBI – 40 BB – 23 SB – .404 SLG – .759 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B – Oklahoma City RedHawks (Rangers): .244 AVG – 25 R – 4 HR – 23 RBI – 35 BB – 0 SB – .360 SLG – .723 OPS

Travis Wood, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 7 Games – 4 W – 2 L – 3.30 ERA – 16 BB – 26 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): .243 AVG – 49 R – 9 HR – 51 RBI – 57 BB – 2 SB – .361 SLG – .694 OPS

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .290 AVG – 87 R – 21 HR – 93 RBI – 89 BB – 1 SB – .524 SLG – .940 OPS

 
Andrew Locke, OF – Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros): .338 AVG – 81 R – 20 HR – 109 RBI – 46 BB – 2 SB – .531 SLG – .920 OPS
 
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): 19 Games – 9 W – 1 L – 1.95 ERA – 30 BB – 69 K
 Jeanmar Gomez, RHP – Akron Aeros (Indians): 21 Starts – 10 W – 4 L – 3.38 ERA – 36 BB – 105 K
  
Kyle Drabek, RHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 15 Games – 8 W – 2 L – 3.64 ERA – 31 BB – 76 K
 
Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Altoona Curve (Pirates): .333 AVG – 42 R – 13 HR – 40 RBI – 34 BB – 1 SB – .590 SLG – 1.009 OPS
 
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): .301 AVG – 57 R – 8 HR – 64 RBI – 46 BB – 2 SB – .444 SLG – .815 OPS
 
Deik Scram, OF – Erie SeaWolves (Tigers): .253 AVG – 73 R – 20 HR – 69 RBI – 61 BB – 9 SB – .487 SLG – .831 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): .233 AVG – 50 R – 19 HR – 49 RBI – 29 BB – 1 SB – .442 SLG – .773 OPS

Yonder Alonso, 1B – Sarasota Reds (Reds): .303 AVG – 21 R – 7 HR – 38 RBI – 24 BB – 0 SB – .497 SLG – .880 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .255 AVG – 65 R – 16 HR – 86 RBI – 31 BB – 10 SB – .428 SLG – .729 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .268 AVG – 74 R – 7 HR – 53 RBI – 64 BB – 26 SB – .373 SLG – .730 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Daytona Cubs (Cubs): .232 AVG – 18 R – 3 HR – 18 RBI – 4 BB – 1 SB – .345 SLG – .600 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 – High Desert Mavericks (Mariners): 6 Games – 2 W – 2 L – 2.96 ERA – 17 BB – 26 K

Tim Beckham, SS – Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays): .279 AVG – 56 R – 5 HR – 62 RBI – 33 BB – 13 SB – .400 SLG – .732 OPS

Ezekiel Spruill, RHP – Rome Braves (Braves): 20 Games – 8 W – 6 L – 1 SV – 3.03 ERA – 24 BB – 95 K

Brad Brach, RHP – Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres): 58 Games – 1.31 ERA – 3 W – 3 L – 32 SV – 11 BB – 79 K

Jamie McOwen, RF – High Desert Mavericks (Mariners): .336 AVG – 74 R – 8 HR – 76 RBI – 39 BB – 13 SB – .478 SLG – .870 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 has signed with the Washington Nationals.


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