Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Futures Game Note

One note from the Futures Game.....

As if Mike Trout didn't pop off the screen enough during the game, he was timed from home to first at 3.94 seconds. This is the fastest time I've seen from a right handed batter since a young Rocco Baldelli was clocked in the 3.8s. Trout is going to be special, but don't expect him in the Majors until September of next year at the earliest.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 9

Almost done. Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich is on the mound. I'm upset we haven't seen Jarred Cosart yet.

Friedrich pitches to one hitter and Tanner Scheppers comes in. Scheppers touches 99mph on his first pitch. He's recently been moved to the bullpen and has mostly been between 95-98mph with his fastball as a reliever. Combine that heat with a venomous low-80s curveball that has hard, late break and you have a big time pitching prospect. He has a starter's build and delivery, but his 2008 shoulder injury was pretty serious. Apparently it was serious enough that the smart betting is that he ends up in the bullpen. He could help the Rangers in the stretch run. Long term I see Neftali Feliz ending up in the rotation (once he figures out how to throw a decent breaking ball) and Scheppers closing games in Arlington.

Futures Game Diary: Bottom 8th

Desmond Jennings is on base again thanks to an error by Cubs SS Lee Hak-ju. The lone Korean in this year's Futures Game, Lee has a chance for four above-average to plus tools, with power as the lone exception. He should stay at shortstop long-term, even though he hasn't looked goo at short today. Jennings is at 3rd base before I finish typing those last few sentences.

Mike Trout line a ball up the middle and flies out of the box. He stretches it into a double. Pete Rose would've been proud. Trout is really good.

Eric Hosmer doubles in Trout. Hosmer now has....4 hits I think. He's been one of the minors' biggest breakout prospects this year. He's already surpassed his 2009 home run total. He projects as a plus-power, plus-OBP hitter who's a solid defender at first, although he has the arm to play right field as well, which would be a nice spot for him with Billy Butler at first.

This innings' USA onslaught is made more enjoyable by the fact that all of these hits are coming off of a Mets' pitcher.

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 8

Twins Pitcher Anthony Slama enters the game and is sporting a serious porno mustache. Slama is promounced "Slaw-ma", not "Slamma" which seems wasteful. He has solid-average pitches, an 88-92 mph fastball and a slider with some tilt, but fringy command and control. Strictly a one-inning reliever. He has a very strange delivery which is likely the root of his control issues. I'm not impressed.

Looks like IronPigs pitching coach Rod Nichols is the USA team's pitching coach. No comment.

Apparently, Slama has experimented with his facial hair before: click me

Futures Game Running Diary: Bottom 7

Ben Revere flies out, swinging at a first pitch fastball. Revere is a personal favorite of mine. He is a speedy, slap-hitting, centerfielder who has hit for average but still needs to dial up his walk rate and get on base more often to get more value from his speed. He covers plenty of ground in center but is hampered by a below-average arm. I think Revere will put together a Juan Pierre type of career.

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 7

Shelby Miller on the mound for Team USA. He was 92-96mph in high school and has recently hit 98, all with a plus curve and improving changeup, and his command this year has been a pleasant surprise. He's emerging as perhaps the highest-ceiling starter in the minors. He was an all state tight end and punter in high school (Texas 3A). He is just 19. All of this is all the more impressive when you realize he has overcome his parents' name/gender confusion.

Futures Game Running Diary: Bottom 6

Good news Rangers fans, Mark Cuban is part of the group trying to buy your bankrupt franchise. Cubans' pockets in an uncapped sport may turn into a Brewster's Millions remake.

Gorkys Hernandez makes a great play in the field. He has been part of several trades during his short pro career. He can't hit but can certainly flash some leather. I don't see him as a regular major leaguer on a good team.

Desmond Jennings reaches base and steals second base. Rays fans shouldn't fret over likely losing Carl Crawford this offseason, as Jennings will fill in seamlessly and do a lot of the same things Crawford does, with a bit more power.

Lonnie Chisenhall, the Indians 3rb baseman of the future, works a 2 out walk to extend the inning. Chisenhall has plenty of talent and a beautiful swing, but I can't get over the fact that he was charged with larceny while in college at South Carolina. Larceny? I'm sure fans in Ohio won't mind since they've been jaded by the likes of Ohio native Ben Roethlisberger, the Bengals, LeBron James' narcissism, and Dan Gilbert's font choices:

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 6

Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles cruises through the inning. Ed Wade is patting himself on the back somewhere. Even blind squirrels finds nuts every now and then, Ed. The Astros were mocked by a few teams when they took Lyles in the sandwich round of the 2008 draft, but he was a late bloomer whose velocity kept increasing during his senior year in high school, and sits at 94 now. He's dominating AA at age 19. He's got a good changeup and curve (when he throws it for strikes).

Several times during the inning Lyles touches the bill of his cap. Gotta wonder if some Amanda Whurlitzer shenanigans were afoot.

Futures Game Running Diary: Bottom 5

Henderson Alvarez comes in to pitch for the world team. I had never heard of Alvarex before today. A 6' right-hander, Alvarez sat between 92-96mph with his fastball. His changeup seemed fine and slider looked average. His size and violent delivery shout "reliever". Don't know how his arm would hold up over a 200 inning major league season.

Scrolling across the bottom of the screen: Cleveland Caveliers interested in Josh Childress and Kyle Lowry. I love Lowry, but the Cavs seem destined for a top 4 pick next season. You deserved better, Cleveland.

Eric Hosmer picks up his 3rd hit of the game. He's made contact with some pitches that Vlad Guerrero would scoff at. He is an early MVP candidate.

Angels top prospect Hank Conger (a switch hitting catcher) hit a HR. His swing is cool; a David Ortiz kind of flare to it. Conger is a fine hitter with lots of raw power, but is fringe average defensively. He'll be able to stay behind the plate if he stays in shape. Nice to see him hit one out in front of mostly Angels fans.

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 5

Giants outfielder Francisco Peguero leads off. Peguero has some nice tools, but is very crude. He can run and has good bat speed, but only six unintentional walks in over 280 plate appearances isn't going to get anyone's bat to the big leagues. He is 22 already and I think if patience was going to develop, it would have by now.

Dee Gordon continues to look smooth defensively, despite the fact that he only started playing baseball during his senior year in high school, just 3 years ago. Hopefully the Dodger's decision to send him to AA prematurely won't ruin his offensive development. So far, the results haven't been good.

Futures Game Running Diary: Bottom 4

Erin Andrews interviews Domonic Brown in the Team USA dugout. This is the first time I've heard Domonic converse with anyone. He seems descent enough. Andrews asks him about any timetable for a potential callup and Brown responds, "All I can worry about is the Lehigh Valley IronPigs." Me too Dom, me too.

Julio Teheran is on the mound for the World. He's 6'2", 150lbs and just 19 years old. Apparently they don't eat in Columbia. His skinny ass can sure throw a baseball. He touches 96mph. I can't imagine how fast he'll be able to throw when he fills out. I can't think of any other Colombian pitchers. Maybe we'll see more now that Teheran has opened the door for scouts to take a look down there.

Teheran's changeup is nasty. It has screwball action so I'm guessing it's either a modified splitter or a circle change. His curveball is descent. He has trouble controlling it. He'll be in the majors for a long time; a dominant closer at worst and, if he tames the curveball, possibly a #1 starter.

Futures Game Diary: Top 4

As if the Giants didn't have enough pitching. Zack Wheeler's first fastball registers at 104mph on the radar gun in the ballpark. Seems far to fast to be real. Wheeler has mostly at 96mph with his fastball and has a hard slurve. He needs to improve his changeup (which is around 87mph, far too fast. 10mph difference from the fastball is the benchmark) and fastball command. At only 20 years of age, the 6'3" Wheeler has room to fill out. He only weighs 180 lbs. His delivery is smooth and effortless. He looks like a top of the rotation guy.

Futures Game Diary: Bottom 3rd

Erin Andrews interviews Cookie Rojas. He might be the first man I've seen who is named after a dessert.

Reds prospect Yonder Alonso is in the game at 1b. Alonso has had a down year, likely due to the broken hamate bone he suffered last year. That injury tends to take over a year to fully heal. Alonso is blocked by Joey Votto at first base and the Reds have been trying Alonso in Left Field, where he would play defense similar to what Pat Burrell does. I profiled Alonso in a previous post.

Angels Outfielder and New Jersey native Mike Trout get an atbat after he pinch ran for Domonic Brown in the first. Trout is just 19 tears old and probably the 2nd best prospect left in minor league baseball (trailing only Brown, of course). He has plate discipline beyond his years, and above average speed. As a true 17-year-old in the Arizona Rookie League, he had the highest OPS of any player under 20 in the circuit, with strong walk and contact rates. Trout can wrap his bat slightly before swinging, and his front side gets a little soft on contact, but his pitch recognition and bat speed help compensate for it. He's a good athlete and an above-average runner who has the range for center, with a fringy arm. He's a future star.

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 3rd

Brewers 2nd baseman Brett Lawrie, who was a guy the Mariners were interested in when they were shopping Cliff Lee, grounds back to the pitcher and busts his ass down to first so hard he nearly beats out the throw. Lawrie, a converted catcher and still a work in progress at 2nd base, probably has the least amount of physical gifts on either roster. He has average wheels, slightly above average power and arm strength. He is a total dirt ball and hustles every chance he gets. His work ethic has gotten him to AA at just 20 years of age. Hope he has a good career.

Futures Game Diary: Bottom 2nd

Marlins 1st base prospect Logan Morrison leads off the inning with a single. Morrison has great strike zone discipline and a ton of power. However, his swing mechanics do not take full advantage of his prodigious pop, as it lacks loft. He could be a Kevin Youkillis type of hitter, but right now he's looking more like Nick Johnson. Lo-Mo also shares Nick Johnson's predisposition for injury. With Gaby Sanchez looking solid at first base for Florida, Morrison may be trade bait in a year or two. If his swing is tweaked and power develops, Sanchez would likely go.

The innings ends quickly...time to move one

Futures Game Running Diary: Top 2nd

Jeremy Hellickson

Tons of bugs bugs begin to swarm around the main centerfield camera. Cameraman probably smells.

Jeremy Hellickson remains on the mound for team USA. "Hellboy" has only slightly above average stuff, but he commands every pitch and throws them all for strikes. His low 90s fastball has nice late movement on it, exploding in toward right handed hitters, forcing pop-ups and broken bats. The arm speed on his changeup is good, and it fades and sinks late in flight. He should get swings and misses with it. His Slurve (scouting report says curveball but its far too slurvy) is alright. The way the ball comes out of his hand is different from his other pitches, making it easy to tell (from our vantage point at least) that he is throwing it. Hitters may have a hard time picking it up. He'd be in most major league rotations today, but the Rays staff is too deep. He'll be up this year before all is said and done.

Futures Game Running Diary: Bottom 1st

The best prospect showcase on the planet, the MLB Futures Game, is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. I get to watch all the guys I read so much about play at one time. AFter the game, my brain hurts as I try to process all I've seen into my long term memory. This year, I'll just write everything down.

Bottom of the First does not start off well for San Diego Padres Pitcher and World Team Starter Simon Castro. He falls behind everybody and throws a few wild pitches. Physically, his velocity is down. Scouting reports have him in the 94-96mph range with his fastball but he is mostly in the high 80s right now. Castro's fastball does have lots of movement, however. Castro seems very nervous pitching on such a big stage, a fact that may debunk the theory many scouts have that he'll eventually move to the bullpen and become a closer.

Team USA has a lot of speed at the top of its lineup. Tampa Bay Outfielder Desmond Jennings, Dodgers SS Dee Gordon and Phillies Right Fielder Domonic Brown all have serious wheels and enjoy using them as Castro throws another wild pitch.

Domonic Brown is pinch run for....Phillies fans everywhere hold their breath....Erin ANdrews tells us he tweaked his right hammy and should be fine.