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August 11, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

More Youth Arrives

by R.J. Anderson

IN THIS ISSUE

American League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Transferred RHP Francisco Rodriguez from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. [8/10]
Purchased the contract of RHP Garrett Richards from Double-A Arkansas. [8/10]

With Joel Pineiro out of the rotation, Richards is the Angels chosen replacement. In some ways, Richards is similar to the Blue Jays Henderson Alvarez. Richards is more mature—in size (6-foot-3) and pedigree (he was drafted in the first round out of the University of Oklahoma)—but both have the good stuff, iffy results label. It’s more of a recent slam on Richards as he struck out just 6.4 per nine innings at Double-A Arkansas.

From a scouting development, Richards projects as a middle to back end of the rotation starter. There are numerous pros to Richards’ game, as his fastball has good velocity and his slider moves well vertically and horizontally. As you would suspect from a pitcher with those pros and that projection, he has some cons too. Namely. he lacks a worthwhile changeup and his delivery is called stiff. Those aren’t career death sentences, but it does limit his immediate upside.

Richards made his major league debut on Wednesday against the Yankees, lasting five innings, giving up six runs (on two home runs), striking out two, walking a pair, and throwing two wild pitches.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Kansas City Royals
Released RHP Kyle Davies. [8/10]
Placed C-L Brayan Pena on the paternity leave list. [8/10]
Purchased the contract of C-R Salvador Perez from Triple-A Omaha. [8/10]

Davies was scheduled to become a free agent after the season anyways, so he effectively hits the open market a month and a half early. He has two choices here: 1) he can sign a minor league deal (assuming nobody offers him a major league contract) and work on his game in the minors, or 2) he can take the rest of the season off, get healthy, and hope that a team ignores his troubles in favor of his perceived upside. Regardless of Davies’ preference, he seems certain to take a pay cut next year, as he made $3.2 million this season. Factor in his 88 starts since 2008 with a 5.20 earned run average and the iffy peripherals to match, and he doesn’t appear to be someone who will be in high demand.

It’s not often a major league debut is notable due to defensive efforts, but Perez’s was. He picked off two runners (one at first, one at third), almost picked off a third, and recorded nine putouts—including a run where he recorded five of six outs. Perez has gained the catcher of the future label for a reason, and that reason is defensive excellence backed by a strong arm and willingness to use it.

Perez has made some progress with his bat this season by holding his own versus improved competition. Despite being just 21-years-old, he hit .283/.329/.427 during his time in Double-A and then .333/.347/.500 in a 12-game stint in Triple-A. Given his position, age, and defensive abilities, he won’t have to hit a bunch to earn a lineup slot. Pena figures to return this weekend, but Matt Treanor remains on the mend due to a concussion. It’s not clear whether the Royals will leave Perez up or roll with Manuel Pina once Pena returns, but given that Pina received the call first, he might be the guy.

Worth noting: Perez is the eighth member of Kevin Goldstein’s top-20 Royals prospects to make the majors this season.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Tampa Bay Rays
Placed OF-R Justin Ruggiano on the 15-day disabled list. [8/10]
Recalled SS-L Reid Brignac from Triple-A Durham. [8/10]

The man called Scrooge by his minor league teammates put in considerable work to reach the majors for the first time since 2008. Ruggiano’s efforts include some instruction from Jaime Cevallos (best known as the Swing Mechanic who helped Ben Zobrist). With a .301/.382/.514 offering in Triple-A Durham this season, Ruggiano forced the Rays to recognize him, and made good when they promoted him by hitting .348/.380/.587 with three home runs and three walks in his first 51 plate appearances.

In Ruggiano’s 49 trips to the plate since, he has hit .167/.184/.271 with a single home run and walk. The slump has gotten to the point where the Rays have sent Ruggiano to the plate just since times since July 22—one of which ended a walk-free streak that dated back to May 30. Officially, the Rays are listing Ruggiano as having knee bursitis. It’s a little funny that the guy who hasn’t played well or much lately comes down with an injury, but then again, the Rays had no qualms about designating Ruggiano for assignment earlier in the year, so they don’t appear overly concerned about keeping him off the waiver wire.

As for Brignac, his aggressive approach at the plate does him few favors once he falls behin, but it’s hard to say anyone saw a .193/.243/.219 slash line coming. He had a limited track record of major league success before (.254/.300/.389 in 430 prior big league plate appearances) and nearly drew more walks (seven) in 48 minor league plate appearances than in 200 in the majors (nine). Still, the Rays will probably continue to use Sean Rodriguez at shortstop in an effort to see if he can handle the position and improve against right-handed pitching.


R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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