Guys to think about who have exceeded initial expectations, and the reasons why.
We're always looking for the signs to find the next productive pitcher. It seems like no matter how many aces you acquire through the draft, trades, or sheer luck, that you still can never have too much pitching, so even when we're sitting pretty we're on the prowl. One thing I like to do before the draft is to check and see which pitchers turned a corner in the second half. Those are the guys the people you play against are more likely to forget about, as their season numbers do not reflect what may be their true talent level going forward; it's a good way to stock up on high-quality pitching during some of the middle rounds. It's also a good thing to look at during this time of year, as the season is winding down and you have to concentrate mostly on playing the right guys to keep things moving for you until the end. Not all of these pitchers are as good as advertised either though, so you want to keep an eye out for the potential clunker.
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A conversation with the Braves' backstop on multi-cultural catching, comparisons of young and old, and more.
Brian McCann wants to be thought of as more than just one of the best-hitting catchers in the game. The Braves backstop also wants to be known for his defense. A National League All-Star in each of the past three years thanks to his productive bat-his career numbers are .300/.364/.503-McCann began this season several pounds lighter and with an increased emphasis on his defensive game. Already regarded as a solid handler of pitchers, the 25-year-old native of Athens, Georgia came into the year having thrown out only 20 percent of runners attempting to steal, a number that has improved to over 30 percent in the first three months of the 2009 campaign. McCann talked about his work on the defensive side of the ball, including communicating with a pitching staff, catching Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, and his desire to spend the rest of his career behind the plate.
The hip issues of two hot corner stars in the AL East, an incredible comeback, repeating a procedure, and more from the hurts-and-worse beat.
Mike Lowell (0 DXL) Alex Rodriguez (0 DXL)
Lowell may end up having a Synvisc injection in his hip. Synvisc is essentially a lubricant, one that looks remarkably like motor oil. Is this a bad sign, coming less than a year after his hip surgery? Rodriguez dove to his left, landed on his hip, and while he stayed in the game, he's also had fatigue issues. After the game, Joe Girardi said that Rodriguez "would have told me" if he was hurt, but does anyone believe that a player who's been savaged for a night out with a starlet might not fudge a bit to stay in the lineup, whether it's smart or not? In both cases, we're left wondering if the hip operation that was done on both is starting to hit Pumpkin time, and whether Chase Utley ought to be looking over his shoulder or not. Since we know a little more than nothing in regards to this operation, it's hard not to look at two of the three that have come back and begin implicating even the most minor of problems going forward, but the same sample-size issues apply here. Whether it's an enforced rest schedule or an injection, we simply don't know if it's a result of the operation or something particular to the individual-or if it's neither in this case. We have to not only beware the sweeping generalizations, but even the educated guesses.
An Indians prospect is perfect, a Yankee prospect gets his first pro win, and the oldest guy in the Sally League.
Remember, you heard it here first
Jeanmar Gomez, RHP, Indians (Double-A Akron) Thursday's stats: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K
Five days ago, we tipped you off to Gomez, who fired eight shutout innings to lower his Eastern League ERA to 0.45. Thursday afternoon, he did one better, firing the first perfect game in the minors in nearly two years. In four starts for Akron, the 21-year-old Venezuelan has put up some PlayStation-worth numbers, giving up just nine hits and one walk over 29 innings for a minuscule WHIP of 0.34.
Literally twice as old as who he was facing
John Smoltz, RHP, Red Sox (Low-A Greenville) Thursday's stats: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
The largest age difference for Smoltz last night was when he faced Augusta shortstop Ehire Adrianza, who is 22 years and three months younger than the eight-time All-Star. Fun facts aside, Smoltz' first rehab outing was a rousing success, as he threw free and easy, threw strikes, got up to 92 with his fastball and felt fine when the night was done.
The top 15 organizations of prospectdom, with the reasons why they are where they are, and why they might move down.
1. Oakland Athletics
Last Year's Ranking: 2
Why They Might Be Better Than This: Their Triple-A rotation, led by Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, could be better than some big-league rotations; Michael Ynoa is the best Latin American prospect of the decade; 2008 draftees Jemile Weeks and Rashun Dixon bring much-needed tools to an advanced group of hitters.
Why They Might Be Worse: Ynoa has yet to pitch in a pro game; expected to be the fifth starter, lefty Gio Gonzalez might fit better in the bullpen; there is plenty of debate among scouts concerning the ceilings of hitters like Aaron Cunningham and Sean Doolittle.
Outlook For 2010: Could depend as much on how well the big-league team does during the first half of the season as anything else, as the second half is either spent gunning for a post-season spot or the beginning of a rebuilding mode, which could mean that a number of players will lose their prospect status going into 2010.