Prospect Previews: Week Five
Happy Tuesday and Happy Belated National Grammar Day, which was yesterday. From this tribute to National Grammar Day, I’d like to share the following words:
“Words can make us laugh, cry, fall in love, fall apart. That so many people care about expressing themselves thoughtfully, respectfully, clearly — it’s kind of miraculous”
-Martha Brockenbrough, founder of National Grammar Day
I agree, ma’am.
In even bigger news (I know, you didn’t think there would be bigger news today), the TinCaps launched a fantastic new promotion yesterday. Each week for the next five weeks, we are going to be posting a wall decal of Johnny in certain locations around Fort Wayne. It’s up to you to find that decal, take your picture with it and then send it to us via Twitter, Instagram or email (Johnny@TinCaps.com). The clue for this week’s location has already been posted to our Facebook page, but I’ll post it here, too.
There’s a redheaded girl on the west side of town
Who greets you with a smile instead of a frown
Snap a photo and to you $5,000 we may gift
This restaurant’s service is always on pointe and swift
Here’s your example photo, featuring your excited author:
We’ll randomly select one winner each week. That individual will be guaranteed two tickets to Opening Night on April 11th, and they’ll also win a red, game-worn TinCaps uniform, that has been worn every season since 2009. If you’re selected as a weekly winner you’ll also be entered to win $5,000, which is guaranteed to be won by one fan on Opening Night. Get scavenging, folks!
Without further ado, we jump into our prospect preview for this week. For reference (and possibly entertainment), here are the previous installments of this series:
Week One (Brian Adams, Corey Adamson, Brandon Alger, Jeremy Baltz, Cory Bostjancic)
Week Two (Erik Cabrera, Felix Cabrera, Stephen Carmon, Matt Chabot, Joe Church)
Week Three (Rodney Daal, Jose Dore, Zach Eflin, Max Fried, Jalen Goree)
Week Four (Justin Hancock, Chris Haney, Drew Harrelson, Goose Kallunki, Michael Kelly)
Matt Stites left a impact not just on the 2012 Midwest League season, but also on the Fort Wayne record books. The righthander from Festus, Missouri, finished the regular season with an ERA of 0.74, breaking the franchise record for the lowest ERA of a pitcher with a minimum of 45 innings pitched. It had previously been held by 2009 TinCaps pitcher Nick Schumacher, who had a 1.11 mark that season. If Stites doesn’t give up an earned run in back-to-back appearances on August 23rd and August 28th, prior to which his ERA was 0.42, he could have set that record in even more impressive fashion.
Now the search for the next closer begins, and it looks very good if Roman Madrid is the answer. Last season with Eugene he had a 2.89 ERA, a Northwest League-best 14 saves and 44 strikeouts in 37 innings. Baseball America says his fastball sits between 91-94, which is a few notches down from where Stites’ heater was, but it’s going to be very hard to compare anyone to Stites.
“(He) started his collegiate career at A&M-Corpus Christi before moving on to McLennan Community College in 2011 and UCF in 2012.
This is the second time Madrid’s name was called in the draft. The Cleveland Indians selected him in the 44th round in 2009.
As a junior, Madrid made 31 appearances for UCF and compiled a 5-2 record with a 1.02 ERA and saved three games. He also struck out 46 batters and held opponents to a .222 batting average.
When the Indians selected Madrid three years ago, it was as a catcher.”
So it’s been a quick transition for Madrid from catcher to pitcher, but it seems like he’s had no problem making the move. Hopefully, he’ll also make the move from Eugene to Fort Wayne in 2013.
Last year was the lefty’s first year in the Padres organization, after signing with the Yankees in 2007 as a non-drafted free agent and beginning with their Dominican Summer League club. From 2007-2010 (he did not play in 2011) he pitched in 39 games across three different lower levels of the New York farm system. He pitched 131 1/3 innings in those four seasons, working to a 6-5 record and a 1.92 ERA.
At each of his stops in Minor League Baseball, Marcano has also had a tremendous strikeout-to-walk ratio. During his Yankees tenure, he struck out 167 and walked 54. Last year with Eugene, he went 4-5 in 16 games (9 starts), had a 3.03 ERA and struck out 62 while walking 13. Considering the possibility of a loaded rotation with arms like Max Fried, Walker Weickel, Joe Ross, Zach Eflin, et al., it seems like Marcano could be a premier bullpen arm. Control like his, in terms of strikeout to walk ratio, is hard to come by, especially when it’s in the form of a lefthanded pitcher.
The Padres looked to have Alberth Martinez make the jump from Eugene to Fort Wayne last season, putting him in the TinCaps outfield to begin the year. During his 20-game stint with the team last season, he got off to a slow start that would be indicative of his short stay. Martinez started off 1-for-12 at the plate and finished with a .129 average and a .206 on-base percentage. By May 1, Martinez was headed back to extended spring training and had been replaced in the outfield by Kyung-Min Na.
The Venezuelan-born Martinez played great defense for the TinCaps, showcasing above average speed while playing exclusively in center field, but struggled at the plate. He resurfaced in Eugene, playing in his first Emeralds game of 2012 on June 15th. With the Ems, he split time between right and center fields, and hit everywhere in the lineup except cleanup. In his 66-game stint in the Northwest League he hit an improved .254 and knocked in 20 runs. A return trip to Fort Wayne could be in the works for Martinez, who is looking to put in his first complete year in a full-season league.
While Martinez was bumped from the TinCaps roster on May 1st, pitcher Ruben Mejia was added to the 25-man card just four days later and became a mainstay in the Fort Wayne rotation. His first six appearances came out of the bullpen, but after that the next 15 out of 16 appearances were in a starting role. For the year, he went 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA in a TinCaps uniform.
Mejia was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2008. In three prior years in the Padres player development system, Mejia had worked to a 3-6 record with a 3.73 ERA in 31 games, 14 starts. Through 101 1/3 innings, he had struck out 86 and walked 43.
Mejia could be a bullpen arm for Fort Wayne in 2013.
Lipscomb University may not be well known in terms of producing professional athletes, but in recent years it has produced two outstanding pitchers, including a major leaguer and with Chris Nunn, perhaps another on the way.
Rex Brothers pitched at Lipscomb, a school of just more than 4,000 students in Nashville, Tennessee, and was drafted by the Rockies in 2009. He made his Major League debut on June 6, 2011.
Josh Smith pitched at Lipscomb and was selected in the 21st round of the 2010 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He dominated the Midwest League in 2011 with Dayton, going 14-7 with a 2.97 ERA and striking out 166 batters in 142 1/3 innings. Last year in the batter-friendly California League, he went 9-8 with a 3.80 ERA, recording 140 strikeouts in 147 innings. He should advance to Double-A Pensacola this season.
Nunn was selected by the Padres 24th round of the 2012 draft, and enjoyed success at Eugene last season striking out 45 batters in 31 1/3 innings, all in 24 relief appearances. On top of that, he allowed just two earned runs, giving him a 0.57 ERA.
According to Baseball America, ” (Nunn) Has a low-90’s fastball but thrives more on the deception provided by his funky delivery.”
Last year Fort Wayne had only two lefties pitch out of the bullpen the entire year, so if both Marcano and Nunn can be arms in relief, the TinCaps could be in good shape.
As always, thanks for reading.
I’ll be back next week with the sixth segment of this eight-part series.