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It’s game two of a seven-day homestand for the TinCaps, and Joe Ross takes the hill today against lefty John Pedrotty for South Bend. Also, it’s just one day away from Video Game Night tomorrow at Parkview Field. As someone who spent far too much time as an elementary school student playing Game Boy rather than learning long division, this is a very exciting time.
The 18-year-old Ross is coming off of his best outing of the season. Last time out he threw six innings against West Michigan, striking out seven, walking one and allowing two earned runs. He didn’t get the win as the game went to 12 innings, but did get help from fellow Californian Austin Hedges, whose 12th inning sac fly lifted the team to victory.
Padres Farm Director Randy Smith is in town this week to have a look at some of the system’s top prospects, so keep an eye on the blog, or become an e-mail subscriber and have your daily dispatch delivered to your inbox each day, for Smith’s thoughts on players like Ross and Hedges.
The first series of the season has come and gone, and with the dust settled, the TinCaps are 1-2 to begin the year. Here are a few numbers from the first three games:
29: The number of runs scored between Fort Wayne and Lake County in the first series of the year.
8: The differential of runs (16) vs. earned runs (8) surrendered by the TinCaps pitching staff. Kane County has the largest gap, having surrendered 21 runs, with 11 of them being earned.
15: The cumulative number of errors committed by both teams throughout the three-game series.
15, 673: The number of tickets sold for the opening series at Parkview Field. Fan support was great, even with chilly weather for a few of the games.
2: The number of people who found this blog last week using the search term “worlds biggest shark tooth.” Thanks for stopping in!
0: Number of home runs hit in the first three games between Fort Wayne and Lake County.
It’s off to South Bend on Monday for a three game set with the Silver Hawks. They’ve gotten off to an identical 1-2 start to the year. We’ll see the debut of Bryan, OH native Matt Wisler at 7:05.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Take a listen back to some of the calls from Saturday’s game, and hear postgame reaction from TinCaps Manager José Valentin:
Click here for the video recap of Saturday night’s game with highlights and analysis from me and Kent Hormann.
“And now… on with the countdown.”
Right around noon yesterday, Baseball America released their Top 100 prospect list for 2011. I didn’t really get time to look at it all that closely until this morning, so here are initial thoughts:
- The only former TinCap on the list is RHP Simon Castro at No. 58. He was 57th last year. BA says he’ll get to the big leagues this year. From a selfish standpoint, hopefully he doesn’t get there before mid-July when the Tucson Padres come to Fort Wayne. Simon was one of my favorite pitchers I’ve covered. The others, if you’re wondering, were Matt Lollis and Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann.
- Any list like this is really more about generalities than “Player X is one spot higher than Player Y, so Player X is going to be the better player.” Historically, if you’re in the top five, you’re probably going to have a good-to-great major-league career. Beyond that, it’s a mix of guys who have shown some kind of weakness, some bigger than others. The ones who make it big are the ones who shore up the weaknesses and turn themselves into elite players. That’s why it’s an educated guess after you get past the first handful of players.
- Royals fans have to be happy with three prospects in the top 10.
- Just because a player isn’t ranked high, don’t write him off. Anybody considered to be in the top 100 of what they do is pretty good. Examples: Mike Trout went from No. 85 last year to No. 2 this year, Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin was No. 71 last year and he had a really nice MLB debut last year. So did Mets 1B Ike Davis (62).
- These are all just for fun. Everything figures itself out once the games start. Which is not far off, by the way.
Secondly, another story I didn’t get to expand on yesterday… the Padres are holding a prospect minicamp in Peoria to give some of their top minor-leaguers an early start. The list of players is here. If they haven’t played in Fort Wayne yet, I’d say chances are good they’ll be here soon. But then again, speculating on an Opening Day roster before minor-league spring training even starts is a good way to guess wrong.
- If you haven’t been keeping up with the Facebook, you can check out the TinCaps’ lineup of theme nights for 2011 at TinCaps.com. The photo attached to the story might be my favorite article photo in our site’s history.
- You can audition to sing the national anthem before a TinCaps game. But I’m warning you now: if you drag the song out and make it too long, I will zipline down from the press box to the field and sweep you out of here like it’s amateur night at the Apollo.
- Fort Wayne alum LHP Cory Luebke will pitch in the Padres’ Spring Training opener Sunday(!) against the Mariners. Also in that article: Heath Bell won’t be available for the weekend and former TinCaps LHP Juan Oramas strained his throwing shoulder last week and hasn’t thrown since.
- SPRING TRAINING GAMES START ON SUNDAY!
- Padres SS Jason Bartlett and 2B Orlando Hudson are learning to play together.
- This isn’t the first story like this I’ve seen about Hudson having a Type-A personality (I also saw an MLB Productions piece about him last year). He has to be the early favorite for 2011 clubhouse leader.
- The Padres think they got lucky with their catchers last year and are hoping for better depth this year.
- Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy threw live batting practice yesterday. So far, so good in his rehab from a freak injury.
- Yankees C Russell Martin’s knee still isn’t quite right. As a fantasy baseball owner of Jesus Montero, I hope Martin sits long enough to let Montero play his way into the starting job.
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman looks kind of like a certain mid-major basketball star. Friedman may play better defense than Jimmer, and I’m only half-kidding.
- Brewers RHP Zack Grienke doesn’t really do
the whole cliche thing. Example: “…every day I come to the park and
want to get focused on my start, and then random people come and waste
my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question because they’re, like, buttering me up. Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of ten minutes, and in that ten minute time, I don’t get to do what I needed to do.” If reporters are allowed to critique a player’s performance, it’s only fair that the player can return the favor.
- From Buster Olney: The three pitchers who used their curveball the most last season were Brett Myers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Carpenter already had Tommy John surgery and it looks like Wainwright is on his way there.
- The Mariners have a lot of tall pitchers. Same goes for their minor-league system.
- Indians closer (and former MWLer) Chris Perez is adding a changeup. He was pretty good without one last year.
- The Rockies think Vegas is underestimating them this year. But, as Padres GM Jed Hoyer told me last year when we talked about San Diego beating expectations, they don’t build those casinos by losing money. Meaning the handicappers are usually right.
- Three MLB umpires are retiring. Maybe MLB already had replacements lined up, but it seems like four days before Spring Training is awfully late to announce something like this.
- Which is better: preventing runs or scoring runs? Research shows preventing runs has the slight edge. Key word: slight.
- What does a college that produced 31 Nobel Prize winners lack? A basketball win… until the other night.
- The NBA is no longer fan-tastic. In other news, we landed on the moon.
- Our rec league volleyball team played like champions last night. Last time I saw volleyball that good, it was at the Malibu Sands Beach Club.
- If you’re looking to adopt a pet, PLEASE go to Animal Care & Control. It’s your tax dollars at work anyway, so make them count. I hung out with three dogs there yesterday and they were awesome. But I’m still partial to this one.
Musical guest… the group that sang the first No. 1 Casey Kasem ever counted to… Three Dog Night!
Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!
First of all, have some of this.
Secondly, have some of that:
Thirdly, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training yesterday. The world feels like a better place because of it. That is all.
- There’s a ton of new pitchers in Padres’ camp. Which is good. It’s the baseball equivalent of diversifying your stock portfolio… You never know who’s going to have an unexpected good or bad year, so it’s a good way to stabilize things.
- Why do you need to diversify? In case of injuries. Like this one. Better to have it happen now than in July.
- This article says Fort Wayne alum Mat Latos will have no innings limitations this year. Which isn’t exactly true; every pitcher in baseball has innings/pitch limitations, otherwise we’d go back to four-man starting rotations and Old Hoss Radbourne throwing complete games every time out. To be more precise, Mat’s pitch/innings limits will be the same as everybody else’s this year.
- Fort Wayne alum Jake Peavy was part of a new medical procedure. His injury sounds pretty gross the way it’s described.
- Fort Wayne alum Oliver Perez arrived at Mets camp. This is the second story that suggests that the Mets can’t stand him but stops short of actually saying it.
- Local native Jarrod Parker is trying to hit the ground running as he recovers from Tommy John surgery at Diamondbacks camp.
- Ask BA says this year’s draft class is pretty much head and shoulders above last year’s.
- Several people (including Tony Kornheiser and Bobby Valentine) made this point yesterday: If the Cardinals came to Albert Pujols’ agent in May and gave him exactly what they wanted, do you think they’d turn the Cardinals down? Doubtful. Which makes this whole contract deadline buildup a little… lame.
- Indians manager Manny Acta shares his lineup-making philosophy: Put the best hitters at the top so they get more at-bats. Makes sense to me.
- Carlos Santana (the catcher) is good.
- Marlins monster Mike Stanton put on eight pounds this off-season. “All fat,” he says.
- Carlos Zambrano is making no promises when it comes to his behavior. All Gatorade machines in the Chicagoland area just shivered in terror.
- Brian Wilson keeps the ball he threw to end the World Series in a candy jar and Giants fans are going to taunt Dodger fans. If these stories came from anywhere other than San Francisco, they would seem out of place.
- A Japanese player joining an MLB team makes for a lot of work for the media relations staff. Just ask the Twins.
- Here are six ways teams mess up in the off-season.
- Tigers RHP Joel Zumaya is throwing again, which is kind of a miracle, and RHP Jacob Turner is really good. Turner was in the MWL last year and had command of his curveball, which you don’t usually see out of a guy that young who throws that hard.
- There are some really good young players making league-minimum salary in the National League. And, to a lesser extent, in the American League.
- Quote of the day from yesterday: “I think we haven’t thrown a single pitch as a group yet. So it’s kind of early to say we’re one of the best rotations in the history of the game.” – Cliff Lee
- Cal-Berkeley’s baseball program is going to be cut and Title IX (referred to by non-Romans as Title 9) is being partly blamed. A controversial story, for sure.
- Meanwhile, Cam Newton is taking a pay cut and signing on with Under Armour. Did I say that out loud?
- This whole “computer playing Jeopardy” thing is bogging the show down. Yesterday they needed an entire half-hour to play what amounted to half a game because they were too busy advertising for IBM. We get it. It took a lot of work to make a computer that can do this. Sometimes it gives the wrong answer. Let’s watch it play.
Musical guest… Jeff Beck and B.B. King!
It’s probably not a good idea to review a book without reading it cover-to-cover, but I’m so jacked up about the Baseball America Prospect Handbook being here that I’m about to lose control and I think I like it. If you’re new to keeping track of minor-leaguers, checking out the handbook is the best way to get up to speed and stay there throughout the season. It has scouting reports on each organization’s best 30 prospects, ranks the top 50 prospects in the game, the top organizations, breaks down each team’s draft from the previous years, etc. No single prospect guide is perfect, but this one is probably the best there is.
So far, here are some things that have stood out:
- The biggest addition for 2011 is including the scouting grades for each team’s No. 1 prospect. Scouts rate players on a 20-80 scale on a variety of tools and the book includes those for the first time. Example: the Padres’ top prospect (RHP Casey Kelly) received a 60 rating for all three of his pitches and 65s for his command/control and delivery. I like it because it allows readers to compare top prospects organization-to-organization. If you want to know how the Astros’ top prospect compares to the Royals’ top prospect, you can do that. You know, if you’re into being depressed.
- The Indians “may have had baseball’s best draft” in 2010. Thank goodness.
- Seems like the biggest issue for the Padres’ younger prospects has been staying healthy. OF Donovan Tate’s problems have been well-documented, RHP Keyvius Sampson had a tear in his labrum which led to changed mechanics which led to elbow trouble. Both were allegedly healthy as they left the fall instructional league.
- Jeudy Valdez looked good in the few games he played at shortstop last year; according to the book, that’s where the Padres see him long-term.
- RHP Brad Brach finally made the Padres’ top 30… barely. He’s ranked 30th. Apparently people don’t believe in his off-speed stuff or his ability to continue dominating at the higher levels. The numbers so far are insane: 140 career appearances, 9-6, 1.90 ERA, 78-for-83 in save chances, 189 K in 151.2 IP, .196 average against. Is that good?
- Top 30 players listed as potential TinCaps in 2011: Tate, OFs Everett Williams and Rymer Liriano (again), Sampson, RHP Zach Cates and maybe RHP Adys Portillo. All very young/inexperienced. Of course, everything could change during spring training.
- Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia didn’t play baseball until he was 15, and he only started because he saw how much money Dominican prospects could make. He had been making $8 a day shining shoes until he got $16,500 to sign with the Mets.
- Former TinCaps swept the Padres’ minor-league awards for 2010. Geoff from Ducksnorts was at the awards dinner and reports that Jeudy Valdez made “the shortest acceptance speech ever” after winning the Baserunner of the Year award. Without hearing any more, my guess is he said, “Thank you,” and walked away. He’s a quiet guy when he’s speaking Spanish, let alone English.
- Padres GM Jed Hoyer says the roster is more balanced in 2011 than it was last year. He’s concerned about the bullpen, but I think most GMs are. It’s the toughest area to predict from year to year.
- Uni Watch hammers the Padres’ logo/uniform decisions. I think the unis look decent.
- A Midwest League alum is spending his off-season making artificial limbs for amputees. In his debut with Bowling Green (at Parkview Field), he went 4-for-5, hit two homers and doubled.
- The Indians aren’t looking to trade Grady Sizemore. Good thing, because it doesn’t make sense to trade one of your few trade-worthy players when his value is at its lowest point ever.
- A book examines home-field advantage and why it exists. The main reason might surprise you.
- Here’s analysis of which teams are the best at winning arbitration cases. The Rays are undefeated (5-0). Also, I’m a little surprised there have only been about 13 cases per year.
- The Rays are installing new turf at their dome. It doesn’t seem like anybody actually knows how it’s different from the old stuff (aside from being “the most advanced” and able to “remain upright longer” which sounds it’s taken straight from a Jimmy Johnson commercial), which seems like lame reporting.
- The Marlins are getting hosed out of a home series by U2. One of the downfalls of not owning their own park. Also, they’re changing their name to Miami Marlins next year? Who knew? Now they just need to change the mascot to Gators, move to the American League and lose to the Cubs in the 2015 World Series and the “Back to the Future II” writers will look like geniuses.
- The prospect handbook’s arrival pushes back my reading of Ghost Wars, which is about Afghanistan, the CIA, terrorism, etc., from a historical perspective. So far, it’s been excellent.
- Aaron Rodgers is officially my favorite quarterback in the NFL. First the championship belt celebration when he scores touchdowns, now this.
- I recently went shopping for clothes, trying to use some of the gift cards I got for Christmas. Maybe I’m only noticing this because I go shopping for clothes about twice a year, but when you’re in any store (with few exceptions such as the sporting goods store), women are clearly dominant, regardless of what part of the store you’re in. I was trying to look at some shirts and about three women came rolling in (to the men’s section, mind you), getting all up in my personal space, pulling hangers off the racks, showing their control over the clearance rack. It was like one of those nature shows where lions protect their territory from a marauding band of slightly-hesitant hyenas. It was like they could sense I had no idea what I was doing. Utterly intimidated, I still escaped with three shirts.
Musical guest…Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood!
Have a great wee
There’s nothing that can break the monotony of a cold, gray off-season like watching a sporting event on TV and uncontrollably cackling like the Bishop in “Caddyshack”. That was me last night when the basketball Buckeyes put the beat-down of a lifetime on Purdue. The shots they were making, the Zubaz pants in the OSU student section… Everything about that game was sensational.
Also last night, MLB.com revealed its Top 50 prospects for this year. There were no former TinCaps on the list (RHP Casey Kelly was the only Padre and he came over in the Adrian Gonzalez trade), but there were plenty of guys you may have seen in Fort Wayne over the last few years:
1. OF Mike Trout, Cedar Rapids ’10
7. 3B Mike Moustakas, Burlington ’08
8. 1B Eric Hosmer, Burlington ’09
13. RHP Michael Pineda, Wisconsin ’08
14. LHP Mike Montgomery, Burlington ’09
15. RHP Jacob Turner, West Michigan ’10
16. C/OF Wil Myers, Burlington ’10
20. RHP Shelby Miller, Quad Cities ’10
28. 2B Brett Lawrie, Wisconsin ’09
29. RHP Jarrod Parker, South Bend ’08
34. LHP John Lamb, Burlington ’10
37. RHP Jake Odorizzi, Wisconsin ’10
38. SS Nick Franklin, Clinton ’10
39. OF Aaron Hicks, Beloit ’09-10
44. SS Dee Gordon, Great Lakes ’09
46. OF Brett Jackson, Peoria ’09
47. RHP Chris Archer, Peoria ’09
The first thing that jumped out to me is how much better last year’s top-end prospects were. Here’s why: On MLB Network, it seemed like everybody agreed that Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (the No. 2 prospect on the list) would end up as a No. 2 starter in the big leagues (which, like anything else, is debatable). Meanwhile, check out the Top 10 from last year:
1. OF Jason Heyward, Braves
2. RHP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
3. OF Mike Stanton, Marlins
4. C Buster Posey, Giants
5. LHP Brian Matusz, Orioles
6. OF Desmond Jennings, Rays
7. RHP Neftali Feliz, Rangers
8. 3B Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
9. 1B Justin Smoak, Mariners
10. LHP Madison Bumgarner, Giants
You could make the case that last year’s No. 2 prospect, Stephen Strasburg, was good enough to be the Nationals’ ace when he was pitching at San Diego State. Heyward and Stanton look like stars in the making. Same for Posey, Bumgarner and Feliz who were key players on World Series teams. In fairness, it was an unbelievably talented group last year, but I think it’s easy now to look back and see how spoiled we were when it came to prospects last year.
Now all there is to do is wait for the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. When it arrives in the mail, baseball season is officially coming up.
- We’ll know in a few years just how good the Adrian Gonzalez trade was for the Padres. Also in that column, it seems like folks are frustrated by the economics of small-market baseball in 2010. The Padres weren’t going to get Jacoby Ellsbury or any other MLB-ready young players in that trade, but they did get Boston’s top hitting and pitching prospects. The days of undervaluing young players in trades are over. When you’re an MLB team in San Diego (one of the smallest local TV markets in baseball) that’s fallen on hard times, rebuilding is just part of the deal. The new Padres’ regime is trying to put a sustainable system in place that is constantly building through the draft, but it takes time for that system to pay off.
- The Padres’ camouflage jerseys got a redesign, and they’re more… camouflagy. In the article photo, players/models Mat Latos and Will Venable are Fort Wayne alums.
- The Triple-A Tuscon Padres’ new logo is now public.
- The Padres’ chairman/former principal owner had his divorce case settled. Which is good, compared to the messy divorce of the Dodgers’ owners which seems like it’s hampering the baseball operations budget.
- In this week’s MiLB transactions, we see RHP Dirk Hayhurst, a Fort Wayne alum and now big-time author, signed with the Rays. There are a TON of former Padres with the Rays now.
- The Giants’ Top 10 Prospects are posted at Baseball America.
- Jayson Stark points out today that the last two pitchers to lead the American League in saves aren’t expected to be closers in 2011. I’m not sure if that says more about the uselessness of the save statistic or the value of a good setup man.
- The Blue Jays traded the just-acquired Mike Napoli to the Rangers for RHP Frank Francisco. So, essentially, that means they traded Vernon Wells (and $5 million cash, allegedly) for Juan Rivera and Francisco. If the Jays were in any other division, they might be the favorite “surprise team of 2011.” But if your aunt had a… never mind.
- Which was a worse decision (on paper): The Barry Zito contract or the Vernon Wells trade? Fangraphs investigates.
- From the Rangers’ perspective, Napoli crushes lefties. Which is good when you play against Oakland a lot.
- Here’s a sports contest Cleveland has a chance to win… Who’s tougher to trade away: Vernon Wells at $23 million a year or Travis Hafner at $13 million a year?
- Here’s an article trying to predict MLB salary inflation. Hint: It’s about seven percent per year. BUT, that could change with a new collective bargaining agreement probably coming before next season.
- What could have happened if we’d had the two-division, two-wild-card system over the past decade?
- If you’re having trouble deciphering what some of the new sabermetric stats mean and figuring out what a good OBP or OPS is, you need to read this.
- So what you’re telling me is, Derek Jeter doesn’t have enough range to play shortstop, but he does have enough range to play center field? What am I missing here?
- Meanwhile, Vladimir Guerrero hasn’t had range in years. He doesn’t have a job right now, and Texas is making less sense for him than ever.
- The Pirates announced higher day-of-game ticket prices for the first time in nine years. I’ve always said, when you want to bask in the brilliance of .38 Special, you’d better be ready to shell out a few extra bucks.
- If appearing in an MC Hammer video makes you a record mogul, well… Jimmy Rollins has been a mogul since he was 13 years old.
- As lame as the college football bowl system is, stories like this make it seem less and less likely things will change. Which is a shame, really.
- Speaking of shames… Sigh. Just embarrassing.
- You know it’s been cold when it’s 27 degrees outside and it feels warm.
- Team president Mike Nutter says the only way the OSU-Purdue game could have been better was if Gus Johnson was calling the game. I disagree, simply because I would have been petrified of a Purdue comeback the entire second half. Fact: Gus Johnson only calls close games.
- Fact: The only way this isn’t soul-crushingly lame is that Ohio State basketball is 21-0. When you’re undefeated and destroying top-15 opponents, you can do whatever you want. You know, as long as it’s within NCAA rules.
Musical guest… The Raconteurs (and friends)!