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March 21, 2013

In A Pickle

Becoming an Empowered and Informed Member of Society

by Jason Wojciechowski

In Major League Baseball, the teams are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the players on the 25-man roster, who win games, and the others, who toil in the minors. These are their stories.

Adam Sobsey recently looked at minor-league signings likely to make an impact. Those are players who are, by definition, not yet on the 40-man roster. What follows is a parallel list of players currently on the 40-man roster, albeit at the very bottom end of it. For each team, I'm going to teach myself two true facts and one false fact about one player on the 40-man roster who I've never heard of. Then I will share those facts with you all.

American League this week.

Baltimore

  • Clark went undrafted but is going into his eighth season of professional baseball and has thrown 97 2/3 innings at Triple-A. Triple-A, in case you forgot, is exactly one step away from the best, toughest, highest-level baseball league in the entire world.
  • From 2008 to 2010, Clark appeared at four different levels of minor-league ball in each season. You hear sometimes about a player who rose quickly and played in three or four different leagues in a year. Clark somehow did that for three straight years. There aren't enough levels in the minor-league system for this to be mathematically pleasing.
  • The reason Clark went undrafted is not because he lacked the pitching talent. Rather, teams feared that they could not sway Clark from his strong commitment to hosting American Bandstand.

Boston

  • Butler is listed on his player card here as having physical dimensions rather similar to my own. This may go part of the way to explaining why we have the same number of major-league plate appearances.
  • In 2010, Butler crushed the ball. This helped get him a look as a sleeper from Kevin Goldstein in a Minor-League Update early in 2011, but his hitting stats have since fallen off the track. Still, if the Red Sox lost two of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, and Ryan Lavarnway, Butler could pull on the home whites in Fenway. If the Red Sox lose two of those three, on the other hand, Baseball Prospectus readers will lose Matt Kory to an entire summer of rocking in the corner, sucking his thumb, and crying "WHY ME."
  • Butler is part of a long line of distinguished gentlepersons who have the same name as the college they attended, as am I.

Chicago

  • Leesman got Lineout writeups in the 2011 and 2012 Baseball Prospectus annuals, which makes me a little nervous about the state of my brain. (This theme will recur. Or, for those who have been reading this column over the last year: this theme has recurred, is recurring, and will always recur.) I own those books and read each of them cover to cover. Maybe his/my problem is that the only statistic that leaps off the page is that a mere 44 percent of attempted base-stealers have been successful with him on the mound. That's impressive as hell, but it won't get Leesman to the majors. Or to my heart.
  • Leesman went to Xavier, which is a Jesuit school in Ohio. Because the new pope is also a Jesuit from the western hemisphere, Leesman should get a nickname, like The Bishop of Ball, or The Prelate of Charlotte, or the Monk of the Majors.
  • Given this Wikipedia page, it is clear that Leesman comes from a long line of people who clean out wine vats. His father, covered in purple yeast sediment, still curses Charles for leaving behind the family business. "C'est vraiment des conneries! C'est vraiment des vin de merde!"

Cleveland

  • McDade is spending his first year outside of the Toronto organization that drafted him in the sixth round from a high school in Las Vegas. Kevin Rath, who appears to have washed out of the White Sox system after attending Cal State Fullerton, was also drafted that year from Silverado High. There is a Silverado High in California as well, but Scott Fischman, very notable poker player, didn't go to that one.
  • Listed at 6'1" and 250 pounds, you can probably guess which corner of the infield occupies McDade's attention on defense. He did get one game at third base for Dunedin in 2010, though. I imagine there's a story there, although it's possible the story is, "It's High-A and we had literally 11 guys appear at third that year and you've literally never heard of any of them except for Edwin Encarnacion, so I literally don't know what the big deal is."
  • After McDade beat Fischman in a 2011 heads-up charity poker tournament in Reno, Fischman bet McDade $20 that Fischman could strike McDade out. It was arguably the worst bet Fischman has ever made. On the bright side, when some kids retrieved the ball that McDade hit, they found the body of a gangster who'd been missing since 1972.

Detroit

  • Holaday wears the Implements of Unawareness and actually batted 13 times in the bigs last season. He went to a college with not one but two directional directives in it: "North Central Texas," which I guess is like somewhere between Austin and Dallas. Maybe it's in Waco? I bet it's in Waco.
  • Matt Holliday is Bryan's cousin, but the former forced the latter to change his name so that nobody would know. Not to continue making this all about me, but I know how he feels. I'm actually Gregory Peck's son.

Houston

  • Seaton rose all the way to Triple-A as a starting pitcher despite a career minor-league ERA of 4.83 and little ability to miss bats. After the 6.64 ERA in Lancaster (granted, it's Lancaster) and the 5.23 ERA in Corpus Christi, you and I might start thinking about a relief role to see if Seaton's fastball could play up to "solid major-league bullpenner" status. But no, he pitched 29 games in 2012, each one a start. He got the ERA down under four for the season, so, like, there's a reason I'm not employed there.
  • Kevin Goldstein told me personally that haha nice try, you're clever though. [ed: That's classified and Jason has been punished for even making the attempt.]

Kansas City

  • Bueno appeared in the majors in 2008 and then again in 2012. He even managed a 1.56 ERA in 17 1/3 innings last year. His presence in this piece is thus, when combined with his name, highly questionable. I ask you to trust me that I have zero recollection of ever reading or hearing his name even a single time before today.
  • Bueno's middle name is Trueba and he is from Cuba. Between being born there, defecting to the U.S., and playing ball in Korea and Mexico, he's got me on Countries Lived In by one or two, depending on how you count.
  • Bueno Y Sano is a New England burrito mini-chain, which frankly sounds like a whole bunch of contradictions, but I swear. In any case, Francisley Bueno owns the location in Northampton, MA.

Angels

  • Field is known as "Thomas" on his Baseball-Reference player card, but I've called him Tommy here because that's how we have him. If I don't call him Tommy, it'll screw up the automagic linker. Anyway, he's an undersized Texan middle infielder with a career .414 minor-league slugging percentage despite stops in Modesto and Colorado Springs. I was really hoping he'd put the lie to his name.
  • Field went to Texas State, a school in San Marcos, which is a city I've-- wait, that was San Angelo. Let's move on.
  • You're probably expecting a cookie joke here, but that's Mrs. Fields. Sorry.

Minnesota

  • His name is "Brett Joseph" and he is a large dude from Iowa. He's everyone's favorite kind of pitcher: 6'5" and 240 pounds but with a minor-league strikeout rate of fewer than six men per nine. Seventy percent of his minor-league innings thus far have come below Double-A. You get the feeling this could be the last time someone writes his name on this site.
  • I have discovered that Hermsen is friends with someone named Lucas Hefty, who is listed as an inch shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Hermsen. Hrm.
  • This isn't related to Hermsen per se, but if you read the last line of this story you will realize that Terry Ryan is actually running a prison, not a baseball team: "We always like to send a guy where we think they belong but they have an opportunity to get out of there." Which might explain a little bit of the "Vance Worley, No. 1 Starter" phenomenon.

New York

  • I guess Joseph's actually a decent prospect, with a little bit of bat and a little bit of glove and a lot of problem ahead of him named Robinson Cano. But honestly, the more pressing issue is that his name ought to be Joseph Corban. When you use only his last name, as you do on second usage, it sounds like you're being very informal. "Well, Joseph over there, he's probably a second-division starter." "I SEE YOU'RE ON A FIRST-NAME BASIS HUH."
  • Corban's brother Caleb was drafted in 2008, the same year as Corban. They're not twins, though: Caleb went to college for a spell. Somebody should write an article about brothers with different birthdays who are drafted in the same year. I wonder if there are any twins born on either side of midnight who both got drafted? Googling "Twins baseball" is, predictably, no help.
  • Corban and Caleb's other brother, Curtis, was a netminder in the League of Hockeymen from 1989 to 2009.

Oakland

I'm an A's fan, so I am intimately familiar with every player on the A's roster and two-thirds of the players not on the roster. Except for Stuart Pudenz.

Seattle

  • I think that LaFromboise's name might actually be spelled wrong. "Fromboise" is not a French word, per Google Translate. "Framboise," as you might guess, means "raspberry." There are five times as many results on Bing for "LaFramboise" as for "LaFromboise." And there's actually a notable historical person with the name La Framboise. On the other hand, Ancestry.com asserts all sorts of facts about "LaFromboise," so who am I to say?
  • LaFromboise, however his name ought to be spelled, put up a 1.36 ERA last year as a reliever across Double- and Triple-A but didn't have his contract purchased until after the season. That seems rude, but who was LaFromboise going to replace? Josh Kinney had a 3.70 FRA and Josh Kinney would make a good entry in this piece.
  • "Madeline La Framboise took over the trading business after her husband was murdered in 1806," according to one of those links, and I think it's pretty damn clear that as soon as time travel is invented, LaFromboise is going to be the one who goes back and commits the deed.

Tampa Bay

  • Felipe Rivero, despite being six feet tall, is listed at 151 pounds. Of course, he's 21, and I was a lot closer to 151 pounds than whatever I am now when I was 21.
  • The current governor of Rivero's home state in Venezuela could have had a nice career in the Air Force were it not for his participating in a coup in 1992. But hey you win some and you coup some.
  • Look, what the hell do you want from me.

Texas

  • Woods was a closer in college and became a closer again last year, saving 27 games across two levels. At Double-A, he had a majestic 0.76 ERA. Sweet! At Triple-A, he had a putrid 7.40 ERA. Sour!
  • I probably shouldn't have included Woods because he's a Rule 5 pick and thus seems entirely likely to be headed back to Colorado before the spring ends. The Rangers could elect to keep him instead of Derek Lowe or Michael Kirkman, though.
  • Coty Woods has never actually seen a tree.

Toronto

  • Goins hit .289/.342/.403 last year at New Hampshire in the Eastern League and was intentionally walked three times. Among fellow Fisher Cats, only Mike McDade was avoided by opposing managers more often. Remember Mike McDade? He's up there at the top of this article! Boy, that was fun.
  • Goins, by the way, had over 1,100 minor-league plate appearances coming into 2012 without a single intentional pass.

 

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

Related Content:  Corban Joseph

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