Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Meetings

The baseball industry woke up to snow this morning in Indianapolis, but that's done nothing to cool the Hot Stove. Rumors are already flying around the lobby, and it's just getting started.

The important thing to remember during this week is that rumors are just that - rumors. Most of what you read or hear this week won't come true, so don't get too worked up about it. In fact, most of the news coming out of here won't be entirely reliable. Even this. In fact, you're wasting your time right now by reading this sentence.

Ok, so you get the point.

Actually, this week in baseball news can be highly entertaining, if that's the way you choose to take it. So settle in, if you're reading this back in San Diego, be happy you're not in Indy, and enjoy the rumors. Just don't take them too seriously.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Roster Moves

October is a month full of roster moves, and we started ours yesterday. We added RHP Eulogio DeLaCruz to the 40-man roster and released RHP's Shawn Hill and Cha Seung Baek and OF Cliff Floyd.

We traded for DeLaCruz toward the end of spring training last year and because he was out of options, we were forced to outright him to the minor leagues when we needed a roster spot early in the season. Fortunately for us, he cleared waivers and had an excellent season in AAA, posting a 2.56 ERA as a reliever in 44 appearances in the PCL. Eulogio's fastball will run as high as 98mph which he complements with a plus changeup. If we had not added him back to the 40-man roster, he would have been eligible for minor league free agency after the World Series. Still just 25 years old, he has a lot of career in front him.

The three players we released all spent the bulk of the year on the 60-Day disabled list, meaning they did not count toward the 40-man limit on the Major League roster. However, shortly after the World Series we must reinstate those players to the active roster, at which time they DO count toward our limit. Furthermore, both pitchers would have been eligible for salary arbitration this winter, and Cliff Floyd was set to become a free agent. So, though we didn't necessarily need the roster spots today, we do anticipate needing them come November. Releasing these players does not prohibit us from re-signing them; however, should we re-sign them they would not be allowed to appear in a Major League game for us until the middle of May in 2010.

Like other teams, I'm sure we'll have more moves as the next month unfolds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last Week

Emotions are intense in the final week of the regular season. Teams vie for playoff spots, some veterans may be playing their last games, and young September callups are doing everything they can to make an impression. Off the field, however, emotions can run even deeper.

This is an incredibly competitive industry, one in which we get graded with a win or a loss 162 times a year and a team's merits or failures get debated via many media. That creates a stressful environment, but it also creates a very close bond with both our colleagues and our competitors. Because we're all fighting for the same prize, traveling to the same remote sandlots, and staying in the same roadside hotels, we all can empathize with the sacrifices, the joys, and the disappointments. Despite the intense competition, this empathy makes baseball a distinctly human industry.

When I first got the job with the Dodgers, I received many congratulatory calls from people around the league, most of which were filled with encouragement and advice. The call from Bill Bavasi, then GM of the Seattle Mariners, was different. Bill's father, Buzzie, had been the Dodgers' GM in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and Bill had been the GM of both the Angels and the Mariners, so I actively sought his advice. I told him that the reality of being the Dodger GM hadn't sunk in yet, and I was having trouble putting it into perspective. Bill's great sense of humor never failed him, and he responded, "Relax. We all have two press conferences in these jobs. The second one just isn't scheduled yet." I couldn't help but laugh.

During the final week of the season every year, though, it's difficult to laugh. Every year there are dozens of people let go by teams: scouts, player development staff, managers, Major League coaches, and GM's. Behind every one of those people are parents, kids, and spouses who can't imagine that anyone thinks their son/dad/husband didn't do a great job. There are also the competitors from other teams, who in these moments, are reduced simply to friends.

When I was let go by the Dodgers, I received more calls than when I was hired. The outpouring blew me away and continues to be one of the most cherished memories in my career. Though this is a tough business, it really is a deeply personal one.

KT's departure is an excellent example of this. His contributions to this organization are too lengthy to list, and the respect for him comes from all directions. Though these situations are always difficult, this one has been as gracious as any I can remember - partly because of the manner in which it has been handled by ownership and partly because of the person KT is.

One of my close friends turns to Hyman Roth every year at this time and simply says, "This is the business we chose." Not to over-dramatize it, but it's true. We all know the rules when we sign on. That reality, however, does not take away from the personal relationships, relationships that run far deeper than any job.

As difficult as this week is for many people around the game, the good news is that we'll be rooting for other past colleagues, friends and peers in the coming weeks as they chase that feeling of high achievement. The part of us that empathizes with the sadness this week will also be able to relish in the glee later this month, and that humanity makes this a great game.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tonight

We sign Tate, Williams, Sampson, and Reyes, Headley hits a two-out rbi double in the 9th, and Blanks with a walkoff...

That makes for a great day.

Signing Update

And we signed Jorge Reyes from Oregon State just under the wire also...

Signings

We just announced the signings of first-rounder Donavan Tate, second-rounder Everett Williams, and fourth-rounder Keyvius Sampson.

Still two hours to go!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Hits - Minor League Version

Some notes from our affiliates:

AAA Portland
  • After coming back from Tommy John surgery last season to pitch in Lake Elsinore and the Arizona Fall League, Cesar Carrillo began the year with AA San Antonio. After his first seven starts he had a 6.52 ERA in 38.2 innings. Since that time, however, he has looked more like the Carrillo of old, posting a 3.17 ERA over 82.1 innings while both his fastball (up to 95mph at times) and command (walks from 4.0 per nine down to 2.2 per nine) returned. He has since been moved up to AAA Portland where he has a 4.09 after his first two starts.
  • Eulogio DeLaCruz made a handful of starts for AAA Portland after being sent down, but then we moved him to the bullpen where he has thrived. In 34.2 innings he has six saves to go along with his 2.60 ERA. Routinely touching 97 and 98 mph and having allowed just two homers in 51 innings in the hitter-friendly PCL, Eulogio is a power back-end bullpen prospect.
AA San Antonio
  • While Carrillo was turning the corner from TJ surgery, Ernesto Frieri was busy being the most consistent starter on his staff for the second consecutive season. A 40-man roster member, Ernesto is currently 10th in the Texas League in ERA (3.52) while also holding down the 4th spot in strikeouts (86).
  • Toward the end of June we promoted former compensation round pick Cory Luebke to AA since he was leading the Cal League in ERA (2.34). Since his promotion he's had to battle a hamstring injury, but that hasn't stopped him. The left-hander has a 1.10 ERA after his first four starts.
A+ Lake Elsinore
  • 2008 2nd round pick James Darnell tore up the Midwest League to the tune of .329/.468/.518 before joining A+ Lake Elsinore. After a short adjustment period, James is now hitting .305/.384/.603 for the Storm. For the year he now has 17 homers, 47 extra base hits, and 75 walks in just 363 at-bats.
  • Signed out of Garden City JC, Aaron Breit began the year in the Lake Elsinore pen after splitting time in the rotation and the pen in Fort Wayne in 2008. After posting a 3.15 ERA out of the pen, the 6'4" right-hander moved into the rotation and didn't miss a beat with a 3.07 ERA in seven starts. For the year he now has a 3.11 ERA in 75.1 innings with 67 hits, 30 walks, and an impressive 94 strikeouts.
A Fort Wayne (best record in baseball at 75-34)
  • Trying to hit against Simon Castro may be hazardous to your health. The hard thrower is currently leading the league in strikeouts with 125 in 108.2 innings and just 30 walks, but what's particularly impressive is that he just keeps getting better. His ERA's by month: 4.32, 4.11, 3.12, 2.67, 1.80. Over his past seven starts he has a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings with 50 strikeouts and just 31 baserunners allowed.
  • Alexis Lara had a rough start to the season pitching out of the Ft Wayne pen. When the weather began to turn, however, so did Alexis. Since June 1 he has a 1.41 ERA with 48 strikeouts and just 24 baserunners allowed in 32 innings pitched. Both Castro and Lara routinely throw from 92-95mph.
SA Eugene
  • Left-hander starter Nick Greenwood currently leads the Northwest League in ERA with a 1.66 in 48.2 innings. In his nine professional starts, he has allowed more than one earned run just twice, and he has yet to allow a homer. Lefties, in particular, are miserable in the box against Nick, as they've gone just 6 for 58.
  • Signed out of the Dominican in 2007, Edinson Rincon was the rare player who made his US debut at just 16 years of age. Now 18, Edinson is playing in short-A with mostly college draftees. He must not have noticed, because he's hitting an astonishing .331/.430/.536 and is in the top five in the league in average, on-base, and slugging.
  • I'm breaking the mold and going with three highlights from Eugene, because I can't leave out middle infielder Vince Belnome. Hitting .319/.444/.550, Vince leads the Northwest League in homers, rbi, and runs, is 2nd in extra base hits, and 3rd in on-base and slugging. A left-handed hitter, Vince has also hit lefties at a .964 ops clip.
Rookie Arizona
  • First baseman Cody Decker went on an absolute rampage in July slugging .778 en route to a season line of .343/.417/.694. The UCLA product is currently leading the AZL in homers, extra base hits, slugging, and rbi, and he's also third in both runs and hits.
  • One of our major Latin American signings in 2008, Adys Portillo skipped the Dominican Summer League and began his pro career here in the US at the age of 17. Adjusting to the competition wasn't easy, and after his first four starts he had a 6.92 ERA in just 13 innings. Since then, however, Adys has shown why he belongs with a 3.20 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.
Dominican Summer League
  • Another one of our prominent signings in 2008, Luis Domoromo has had a solid start to his career with a .387 obp, 37 walks, and six triples. The left-handed hitting 17 year old has also posted a .765 ops against RHP. Remember, the offensive stats in the Dominican are similar to the Cape Cod Leauge in the US - pitching generally rules.
  • Keeping the nature of the Dominican offensive statistics in mind makes the performance of Yair Lopez even more impressive. The 6'3", 17 year old outfielder had a .900 ops in July to bring his season totals to .293/.419/.420 with 15 extra base hits, 14 stolen bases, and 38 walks in just 181 at-bats.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quick Hits

Here are a few notes about some young players on our big league club:
  • Many of you may have seen Kyle Blanks hit majestic home runs to leftfield in Cincinnati and again the other night in Petco, but going out to the beach in right-center like he did last night? Not many right-handed hitters have done that (Manny Ramirez is one). As one person gleefully said last night, "This is like having a brand new toy!" As a starter, Kyle is hitting .250/.375/.525 with 10 extra base hits and 13 walks in 96 plate appearances.
  • In the last month (since July 5) Will Venable is hitting .312/.354/.506, which includes a handful of appearances as a pinch hitter.
  • Knock on wood... Mat Latos and Tim Stauffer have combined for a 2.62 ERA over 44.2 innings with a WHIP under 1.00. Furthermore, in their seven full starts (Tim had a 1-inning start in Washington that ended with a rain delay) neither one has yielded more than two runs in an outing.
  • In the last month (since July 5) Joe Thatcher has faced 27 hitters and has struck out 13 of them. Thirteen. Meanwhile, just five have reached base. On the year he is holding left-handed hitters to a .212/.289/.333 line.
  • In the last month (since July 5) Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit .309/.324/.557, banging out 16 extra base hits in 105 plate appearances. Furthermore, his OPS by month so far this season is: .603 in April, .652 in May, .737 in June, .795 in July, and .833 in August (ok, so it's only three games, but it fits the trend so I couldn't resist).
Tomorrow I'll provide similar notes on some of our minor leaguers, but I have one just for zino since he doesn't like any of our bats. :-) All of our minor league teams combined had the following rankings against the other 29 organizations as of late July, despite not playing in any ballparks that are particularly friendly to hitters:
  • Batting Average: 3rd
  • On-Base: 1st
  • Slugging: 5th
  • OPS: 2nd
  • Runs/Game: 4th
There are other categories, but as you can see, our organization is in the top five in all of the major ones. Just in case anybody thinks we have a bunch of slow-pitch softball players, we're also 1st in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Our system has accomplished this while many of the high performers were moved to more difficult levels mid-season and guys like Blanks and Venable were promoted out of the ranks.

As I wrote last time, this is going to be fun to watch.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Peavy to the White Sox

Today, just seconds before the 1pm pacific trading deadline, we acquired LHP Clayton Richard, LHP Aaron Poreda, RHP Adam Russell, and RHP Dexter Carter from the White Sox for RHP Jake Peavy. The final minutes were quite a whirlwind, but in the end it got done.

Here's a quick breakdown of each guy:

Clayton Richard - A 25 year old, 6'5" left-hander out of the University of Michigan, Clayton has spent the entire 2009 season in the Majors with the White Sox. Between 14 starts and 12 relief appearances he has compiled a 4.65 ERA in 89 innings. Particularly tough on left-handed hitters, Clayton has limited them to a .643 ops over his 137 innings in the big leagues. A good strike thrower who also gets more than his share of groundballs, Clayton will move right into our rotation in San Diego.

Aaron Poreda - The first round pick of the White Sox in 2007, Aaron made his Major League debut earlier this season out of the bullpen for the Sox. However, he had spent essentially his entire minor league career as a starter, and that's how we see him fitting with us in the long term. A power left-hander at 6'6", 240 lbs, Aaron has thrown up to 96 mph and generally sits in the 93-94 range. Like Clayton Richard, Aaron is a good strike thrower who also generates groundballs. Over the course of this season in the minors (AA and AAA) he has a 2.54 ERA with 78 k's in 74.1 innings. He'll be reporting to AAA Portland where he'll be part of that rotation.

Adam Russell - At 6'8", 250 lbs and possessing a fastball that runs as high as 97 mph, Adam can be an intimidating presence on the mound. Moved to the bullpen full time in 2008, Adam has split the past two seasons between AAA and the ML (3.07 ERA in AAA and a 5.19 ERA in the ML in 26ip). Like Poreda, he'll report to Portland where he'll go into the bullpen to complete a trio of potential back end bullpen types with 96-97 mph fastballs - Webb, DeLaCruz, and Russell.

Dexter Carter - A 13th round pick in 2008 out of Old Dominion, Dexter is currently leading the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 143 in 118 ip (meanwhile, our own Simon Castro is leading the Midwest League, the other A league, in k's). Dexter is 6'6", 200 lbs and has a fastball that runs anywhere between 87 and 93 mph. So far as a professional he has a combined 2.80 ERA in 184 innings with with 147 hits and 57 walks allowed while striking out 232. Not a bad start to a career.

In summary, we needed a frontcourt to be able to compete against some of our 2009 draftees.

In all seriousness, we're very excited about the return here. In the past week we've added four young pitchers with Major League experience and power arms (Gallagher, Richard, Poreda, and Russell). In trading someone like Jake, we did not want to have to take all A-ball prospects who inevitably carry high risk and don't show up in Petco for years to come (if they do at all). Instead, we have guys who can contribute either immediately or very soon and who have the chance to be part of our Club for many years going forward. We may have to reload, but that doesn't mean we have to take years to do it.

We need look no further than 2009 to illustrate just how important starting pitching and particularly depth in starting pitching is to winning in the Major Leagues and especially in Petco (we're currently second to last in the NL in ERA for starters). The playoff caliber clubs here in San Diego from 2004-2007 all had solid starting staffs, and two of them (2006 and 2007) led the NL in starter's ERA. We need to get back there, and we believe we can.

Doing it without Jake, of course, makes it challenging. He has been nothing short of a tremendous pitcher for the Padres. We're incredibly fortunate to have had him here, and it was a difficult decision to trade him, as I'm sure it was a difficult decision for him to approve the trade. After all, though this is a business, it is a personal one, not only for us, but also for the players, their families, and all of the fans.

That having been said, though we're not yet all the way to where we want to be, this deal was a significant step toward giving us a better chance to win in 2010 and beyond. Our concentration of talent made us deeply vulnerable to the unexpected, so it's important for us to build quality balance - an imperative that we've been aggressively pursuing and that this deal helps us achieve. We're certainly a younger team, but we're very excited about the potential of these players, especially as many of them (Blanks, Latos, Cabrera, etc) are beginning to show what they can do at the ML level.

It's going to be fun to see what these guys can do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hiatus

I guess three weeks is enough, and I couldn't leave you hanging as we approach the deadline.

Today we announced the acquisition of Sean Gallagher as the player to be named later in the Scott Hairston trade with Oakland. I know many of you attempted to post comments in the past couple of weeks regarding Sean, but I did not publish them as it was not official until today. I didn't think it was fair to Sean or the A's to add to the speculation. However, now that we can talk about it...

Sean is a 23 year old right-hander with 144 Major League innings under his belt. At 6'2", 235, Sean has shown a big fastball, which combined with his minor league dominance (a 2-something ERA at all four full-season levels: A, A+, AA, and AAA) helped him get to the big leagues with the Cubs when he was just 21 years old. His fastball can be overpowering (90-96) at times, though our scouts have also seen him in the 88-92 range.

Spending most of 2008 in the Majors with Chicago and Oakland, Sean pitched 115.1 innings, giving up 118 hits and 58 walks while striking out 103. The strikeouts are particularly impressive for a 22-year old rookie, and it was encouraging that he was able to hold both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters below an .800 ops. He did miss three weeks toward the end of the season with shoulder inflammation but came back to make four appearances in September. This year he has been on the DL since early June with a knee issue. We're not sure whether he'll be able to pitch again this season, but regardless we're expecting him to be at full strength in plenty of time for spring training.

This acquisition gives us another Major League ready starting pitcher with big potential upside.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scott Hairston to Oakland

Today we traded OF Scott Hairston to the Oakland A's for RHP's Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano as well as a player to be named later.

Ryan Webb is a 6'6" 23 year old pitcher currently with AAA Sacramento. Originally a 4th round pick by the A's out of Clearwater Central Catholic HS in Florida, Ryan has been a starter throughout his minor league career until this season in AAA (though he has made two starts). Ryan has always been a good strike thrower with an above average arm (fastball that runs 90-94) who generated plenty of ground balls. His already plus velocity has jumped even higher this summer in the pen, touching as high as 99 mph. We really like Ryan's upside.

A 2nd round pick in 2005, Craig Italiano is a 6'4" 22 year old pitcher currently with high A Stockton in the Cal League. Like Webb, he also has a power arm, pitching as a starter between 91 and 95 mph. Having missed most of 2006 (shoulder tendinitis) and 2007 (skull fracture), Craig hasn't had the same pro experience as most 2005 draftees. He split the 2008 season between the Midwest League the Cal League, posting a 3.78 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 100 innings. His walks have been on the high side, but that's not unusual for a young power arm.

Unfortunately, I can't divulge any information on the player to be named later, but when the time comes, I'll write a breakdown of him as well.

While trading Scott is difficult and not without risk, especially given his excellent production this season, this move provides us with some young power arms with big upside - a real need for us - while also allowing for other young players to continue to amass Major League at-bats in our outfield.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dodgers in Town

So tonight is the return.

It's not really my place to comment - after all, he's not our player and we have a game to win - but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. What will the reception be? What should the reception be?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Player of the Month

At the conclusion of every month we name both a Player of the Month and a Pitcher of the Month in the minor leagues. Mike Wickham, our Director of Minor League Operations, sends out the ballots to both front office and field staff, and my guess is that it's usually a pretty lopsided vote. In fact, I'd be surprised if more than two players or two pitchers receive any votes at all in any given month.

This month, however, is different.

June was witness to a slew of remarkable offensive performances (as well as pitching performances) in our system. I think it's a tough call, as a number of players are deserving of the award. Therefore, I'm putting you to work. The stats are below (arranged by level and then alpha) and the poll is on the right.
  1. Kyle Blanks, AAA .370/.478/.630 in 66 pa's
  2. Craig Stansberry, AAA .330/.417/.394 in 108 pa's
  3. Brian Joynt, AA .358/.400/.593 in 88 pa's
  4. Lance Zawadzki, AA .381/.474/.567 in 114 pa's
  5. Logan Forsythe, A+/AA .345/.477/.540 in 109 pa's
  6. Danny Payne, A+ .316/.464/.605 in 97 pa's
  7. Beemer Weems, A+ .319/.479/.444 in 90 pa's
  8. Sawyer Carroll, A/A+ .344/.443/.611 in 106 pa's
  9. James Darnell, A/A+ .370/.452/.593 in 93 pa's
  10. Dan Robertson, A .358/.400/.494 in 86 pa's
  11. Blake Tekotte, A .348/.446/.609 in 107 pa's
Those are some serious numbers!

Of course, these aren't all the relevant stats, but it gives you a quick overview. I expect you to provide some reasoning in the comments section!

Monday, June 29, 2009

High Desert

Lake Elsinore opened a three game series last night in High Desert, which is known for some high-scoring contests. Well, after eight innings last night Lake Elsinore was leading 28-14.

Guess how many home runs Elsinore hit in order to score 28 runs... go ahead, guess.

Exactly one. That's right - one homer, 28 runs. So how does a team score 28 runs with just one homer? 27 hits, 13 walks, and five High Desert errors. That is absolutely nuts. If you thought it wouldn't get crazier in the 9th inning, think again. How about this:

Sawyer Carroll - Home Run
James Darnell - Home Run
Matt Clark - Home Run
Felix Carrasco - 6-3
Danny Payne - Home Run

So, we score 28 runs with one homer over eight innings and then hit four homers in a span of five hitters.

I think Jayson Stark would have a field day with this one.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Going Too Fast?

Hector: I think that the strategy to promote too soon has backfired greatly with Antonelli, Headley and LeBlanc.

Careful with Blanks...

Hector,

It's always a tough balance.

Antonelli blitzed through HA and AA before struggling last year at AAA. In hindsight it may have made sense to leave him at AA at the beginning of 2008, but he certainly appeared ready for the PCL.

Headley was a very different case. He had a full year in HA Lake Elsinore, a full year in AA San Antonio and nearly 300 pa's in AAA Portland. That's not really an accelerated progression. In fact, what was keeping him down in AAA more than anything was the fact that he was learning a new defensive position.

Leblanc pitched about 150 innings between HA and AA and now has almost 200 in AAA. That isn't terribly unusual for an advanced college starter, and he's still in the development process now.

The other thing, and possibly more importantly, is that sometimes guys need to be pushed in order to progress. For instance, had we left Leblanc at AA he could have continued to get everyone out with his changeup without needing to locate his fastball effectively. He needed to get to a level with more advanced hitters that would force him to make an adjustment to his game. Similarly, Chase had a .939 ops in AAA after having a 1.023 in AA, so he needed to start facing ML pitching in order to keep getting better.

Remember, regardless of the preparation they receive in the minors, young players will almost always struggle early on in the Majors, often for two or three seasons, before hitting their stride. Adrian Gonzalez hit .229/.272/.401 in 2004 and 2005 combined for the Texas Rangers, and there are countless other examples. Just like any other job, there's only so much you can do to prepare before actually doing the job.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Minor League Promotions

Here are some moves effective for tonight's games:

LHP Cory Luebke from Lake Elsinore to San Antonio
Cory is leading the Cal League in ERA and innings pitched, 3rd in K's, and was the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game.

3B Logan Forsythe from Lake Elsinore to San Antonio
Logan is leading the Cal League in OBP, 10th in average, and has a .976 ops with 61 walks (which I believe is the most in all of minor league baseball).

LHP Nick Schmidt from Fort Wayne to Lake Elsinore
Nick has a 2.79 ERA in 51.2 innings with 59 k's, and has allowed just one earned run in last his 31.1 innings.

3B James Darnell from Fort Wayne to Lake Elsinore
James is leading the Midwest League in OBP, 4th in SLG, 5th in average, and has a .329/.468/.518 line overall.

1B Matt Clark from Fort Wayne to Lake Elsinore
Matt is 2nd in the league in RBI and doubles and 3rd in extra-base hits. He will split time at 1B/DH with Felix Carrasco.

OF Sawyer Carroll from Fort Wayne to Lake Elsinore
Sawyer is 5th in the league in hits and 9th in average. He's turned it up since April, though, hitting .351 and slugging .524 since May 1.

OF Yefri Carvajal from Lake Elsinore to Fort Wayne
Yefri is just 20 years old (Carroll just turned 23), so this is more about pushing Carroll than anything else. Yefri was holding his own in the Cal League (actually hit .304/.333/.451 in May), but with Carroll coming the everyday at-bats are in Fort Wayne.

3B Justin Baum from Lake Elsinore to Fort Wayne
Justin only had 136 ab's in Elsinore, and with the other 3B moving, Fort Wayne offers a chance to play more regularly.

OF Chadd Hartman from Eugene to Fort Wayne
Chadd is moving up due to Carroll and Clark leaving and Decker going on the DL.

LHP Steve Garrison placed on rehab assignment with Peoria, AZ
Steve continues to progress with his rehab and should be facing hitters soon.

Sometimes it makes sense to leave a player at one level for the entire year to let them enjoy success. These players, however, were performing at such a high level that it was time to challenge them at the next level. There is a fine line between challenging players and rushing them, but we feel that all of these guys are ready.

Five posts in one week! Who's with me!

Kevin Kouzmanoff and Mark Twain

Kevin Kouzmanoff has had a good couple of weeks. Actually, his .327/.351/.636 in the last 14 games is better than "good". How did this happen? He didn't suddenly get bigger or stronger. Pitchers haven't suddenly pitched him differently. So what is it?

Back in 2007, Kouz's rookie year, he had a rough start. On May 14 he had an OPS of .424 with just one homer in 105 plate appearances. For the rest of the year he hit .308/.363/.510 for an OPS of .873 while hitting 17 homers (one every 25 pa's). Great things were on the horizon.

Then Kouz again stumbled a bit out of the gates in 2008 with an OPS of .682 on May 14 and one homer for every 59 plate appearanes. After May 14 he had an OPS of .751 with 20 homers (one every 25 pa's). That was more like it.

This year? Kouz had an OPS of .550 on May 14 with one homer in 133 plate appearances. Since that time he has an OPS of .811 with nine homers (one very 16 pa's).

So, to summarize his last three seasons:
  • Up to May 14: .221/.260/.316 with one homer every 83 pa's
  • Post May 14: .278/.325/.483 with one homer every 23 pa's
Is there something about May 14 that we should know? Any astrologers out there that can shed light on this? Is this a simple coincidence, or is it because as Mark Twain supposedly said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

Unfortunately, we don't have the answer (and I'd be leery of any hard causal theories), but we are happy that May 14th has passed and the post-May 14 Kouz, he of the .808 OPS, appears to be in the house.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Signing Updates

In the past few days we have come to agreements with:
  • 3rd round pick - Jerry Sullivan, RHP from Oral Roberts
  • 5th round pick - Jason Hagerty, C from the University of Miami
  • 7th round pick - Miles Mikolas, RHP from Nova Southeastern
Next week we'll try to work on the even numbered rounds.

Scoreboard Watching

It's not often that we scoreboard watch in June (yes - everyone scoreboard watches even if they don't admit it), but I found myself glued to milb's gameday app last night.

See, June is playoff time in the minor leagues, because from AA on down the first half winner earns a playoff spot. We were thrilled when Fort Wayne, our Midwest League affiliate, clinched the first half title back on Sunday, but we're greedy.

Two weeks ago San Antonio was five games behind Midland with 14 games to play in the first half. Pulling a Rockies, the Missions went on a tear, including taking three of four from Midland over the weekend to take a one game lead for the first half title. One series remained in Corpus Christi.

After three innings in Corpus the Missions trailed 5-1, while Midland was up 4-0 in their game in Frisco after four. It was looking like we might be tied at the end of the night, but then the Missions closed the gap to 5-3 with two in the fourth before taking the lead 7-5 in the 5th on Lance Zawadzki's grand slam. The excitement was short-lived, however, as Corpus scored four of their own in the bottom of the 5th to regain the lead 9-7. With Midland in control of Frisco, San Antonio had to handle matters themselves. The Missions chipped away at Corpus with one in the 7th and one in the 8th to send the game into extras where they scored three in the top of the 10th to pull out an unlikely victory. Still up by one game.

Enter Tuesday.

Into the 7th inning stretch Midland was tied with Frisco 1-1 and San Antonio trailed Corpus 2-1. High drama. Then, in a span of about 10 minutes Midland gave up two in the bottom of the 7th to go down 3-1, and San Antonio scored one in the top of the 8th to tie it up at two. In both the 8th and the 9th Midland got runners on base, while Mitch Canham led off the San Antonio 9th with a double. Thank goodness for gameday mini.

In the end, Midland couldn't push any runs across, so Frisco held on to the 3-1 lead: San Antonio wins the first half. For good measure, though, about 30 minutes later Mitch Canham led off the 11th with a solo homer and the bullpen finished off their 5.1 hitless innings to "earn" the win and the title. All it took was 12 wins in 15 games.

The end result is that two of our three full-season affiliates who play with this format, San Antonio and Fort Wayne, won their respective first half titles. Meanwhile, the third team, Lake Elsinore, had four pitchers in the All-Star Game last night (Luebke, McBryde, Pelzer, and Oland) combine for five innings, three hits, one run and six strikeouts. Though they didn't win the first half, they do currently hold a seven game lead in the Wild Card.

All of this attention begs the question: is winning really the goal of player development? After all, the primary objective of any minor league system is to develop quality Major League players, and you don't get any points for minor league victories. However, as Vince Lombardi said:
Winning is not a sometime thing, it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
That does not mean that we have our A-ball managers matching up left-on-left in the 6th inning or that we manipulate rosters to get wins. Skill development comes first. It does mean, however, that we want to win. We want our young players to learn how to win, and we want them to expect to win. In our minds, that is part of their development.

Congrats to both Fort Wayne and San Antonio as well as our entire player development staff.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One Year Later - Rounds 16+

Round 16 - Thomas Davis, Fort Wayne, 1.42 ERA, 19 ip

After starting this season with a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings out of the bullpen in Fort Wayne, Tom went on the DL in mid-May.


Round 17 - Derek Shunk, released

Derek, a senior infielder out of Villanova, had a .346 obp and a .341 slg in Eugene last summer. This spring we had to make some decisions among the utility infielders for both Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne, and Derek ended staying back in extended spring training. We released him toward the end of May.


Round 18 - Nick Vincent, Lake Elsinore, 2.97 ERA, 36.1 ip

A reliever at Long Beach State, Nick started nine games last summer (including one in Portland), because we thought he could handle the load. This year he has been a workhorse in the Elsinore pen, walking just 10 and striking out 38 en route to finishing 14 games (two saves).


Round 19 - Robert Lara, Fort Wayne, .214/.277/.306

Assigned to Arizona, Robert had a huge first summer, hitting .344/.490/.484. He hasn't gotten consistent playing time yet this season in Fort Wayne (just 28 games played out of 70). He has, however, helped out on the mound twice, pitching two shutout innings while striking out five.


Round 20 - Jason Codiroli, Eugene

Jason tied for 5th in the Arizona League in 2008 in hits (56) and was 4th in OBP (.422) while also leading the team in stolen bases (15). A centerfielder, Jason is off to a hot start in Eugene going 5 for 12 with two leadoff homers.


Round 21 - Joey Railey, Eugene

An infielder out of U. San Francisco, Joey split time last season between Arizona and Eugene. This year he opened the season on the Eugene roster and has played one game so far.


Round 22 - Chris Wilkes, Eugene

A 6'4", 250 lb right-hander, Chris was not a high-profile pitcher in high school, but he was a quarterback. Nevertheless, he adapted quickly to pro ball and had a fantastic rookie season - 1st in the Arizona League in wins (7), 4th in innings (61.2) and 8th in ERA (3.21). In 10 starts he was 5-1 with a 3.06 ERA and on the season he struck out 45 while walking just five. This season the 19-year old was targeted for Eugene, though he did make three appearances for Lake Elsinore due to some injuries on the staff.


Round 23 - Nick Conaway

Nick was the closer at Oklahoma during the 2007 season but had surgery during the winter of 2007/2008 and didn't pitch in the spring. We ended up not signing him last summer.


Round 24 - Eric Gonzalez, Lake Elsinore, 1.80 ERA, 5 ip

A pitcher for the Spanish National Team, Eric tore up the Arizona League in 2008 - 1.19 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 22 innings. That earned him a promotion to full season Fort Wayne to begin 2009, and after 38.2 ip with 38 k's, we recently promoted him to Lake Elsinore. So far he has made two appearances for the Storm with a 1.80 ERA covering five innings.


Round 25 - Logan Power

Logan decided to return to Ole Miss for another year. I believe he went undrafted this spring.


Round 26 - Dean Anna, Fort Wayne

An infielder from Ball St, Dean split the 2008 season between Eugene and Arizona hitting a combined .232/.341/.351 with 11 steals in 12 attemps. So far this season Dean has split time between extended spring training and Fort Wayne, where he has 44 ab's in 13 games covering 2B, SS, and 3B.


Round 27 - Aaron Murphree, released

A left-handed hitter out of the University of Arkansas, Aaron played the 2008 season in Arizona where he hit .250/.376/.421. Due to the plethora of outfielders we had scheduled to go to Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore, Aaron was released at the end of spring training.


Round 28 - Nick Schumacher, Fort Wayne, 1.23 ERA, 22 ip

A senior out of Wayne St in Michigan, Nick split the 2008 summer between Arizona and Eugene, compiling a 4.02 ERA in 40.1 innings. He began this season in extended spring training before getting the call to Fort Wayne where he has a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings. Over his career he now has 56 k's and just nine walks.


Round 29 - Omar Gutierrez, released

After just three appearances in Eugene (6 ip, 0 er, 9 k's) after the draft, Omar went to full-season Fort Wayne (he was 23 years old) to fill a role in the pen. He got caught in the numbers game for A-ball relievers this spring.


Round 30 - Bobby Verbick, retired
A right-handed hitting outfielder, Bobby had a nice debut in Eugene last summer, hitting .257/.402/.431. He decided to retire midway through spring training in March.


Round 31 - Sean Gilmartin

We knew Sean would be a tough sign, and he decided to enroll at Florida State. Though primarily an outfielder in high school, Sean had a strong freshman season on the mound for the Seminoles, going 12-3 with a team-leading 3.49 ERA.


Round 32 - Kyle Heyne, released

Kyle spent most of the 2008 season in Eugene, where he had a 4.19 ERA in 38.2 innings. Due to the competition for A-ball bullpen spots, he was released at the end of spring training.


Round 33 - Daniel Robertson, Fort Wayne, .321/.400/.462

Sometimes it just works out. Dan was the Northwest League MVP in 2008 while setting a league record with 114 hits and finishing first in the league in average (.377), runs (59), total bases (150), and obp (.443). Not a bad debut. Dan hasn't really missed a beat this season in Fort Wayne putting up an .862 ops while striking out just 18 times in more than 200 plate appearances.


Round 34 - Matt Gaski, released, signed by the New York Mets

An infielder out of UNC Greensboro, Matt played the 2008 season in Arizona. We released him at the end of spring training, and the Mets signed him a few days later.


Round 35 - Logan Gelbrich, Lake Elsinore

A solid receiver out of USD, Logan spent 2008 in Eugene hitting .240/.358/.310 while splitting time with Emmanuel Quiles behind the plate. Logan remained in extended spring training this year and recently joined the Storm where he's played in one game.


Round 36 - Jake Shadle

A right-handed pitcher, Jake didn't sign and enrolled in Green River Community College.


Round 37 - Matt Means, retired

Matt pitched 16 innings last summer and decided to retire prior to spring training.


Round 38 - Zach Herr, Fort Wayne, 4.22 ERA, 32 ip

A left-handed reliever out of Nebraska, we signed Zach later in the summer so he only made nine appearances for Eugene, posting a 3.12 ERA in 17.1 ip. This year his ERA doesn't tell the whole story, as he's given up just 28 hits and 10 walks while striking out 38 hitters in his 32 innings. Zach has a good breaking ball that is tough on lefties, and he's struck out 14 of the 37 he's faced so far this season.


Round 39 - Gary Poynter, Arizona

A right-hander with a quick arm, Gary split the 2008 season between Arizona and Eugene with a 4.18 ERA over 32.1 innings. Unfortunately, he broke his wrist early this spring, and it required surgery. He's now back on the mound and pitched one inning on Sunday for Arizona.


Round 40 - Colin Lynch, Fort Wayne, 1.35 ERA, 6.2 ip

After leading the Arizona League in appearances last summer, Colin stayed in extended spring training before getting activated in Fort Wayne in early June. So far he's made five appearances, yielding just one run.


Round 41 - Zach Dascenzo

Rather than signing, Zach decided to enroll at Ohio Dominican University.


Round 42 - Brad Brach, Fort Wayne, 1.69 ERA, 32 ip

Brad may have been the last player we signed out of the 2008 draft, but once guys step on the field that doesn't mean anything. The right-hander reliever out of Monmouth has dominated so far as a pro, compiling a 1.82 ERA over 54.1 innings. He's also struck out 76 while allowing just 54 baserunners. As Fort Wayne's closer, he already has 17 saves.


Round 43 - James Tunnell

Rather than signing, James decided to enroll at Lipscomb University.


These 2008 draft roundups certainly don't cover everyone in our system or even everyone at the A-ball level. There are players we've signed internationally and players for whom we've traded, so at some point I'll have to recap those as well. Nevertheless, it's always interesting and instructive to take a look back.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Roster Moves in Bulk

We've had a busy week with the Major League roster, and today is the denouement (more or less). Here goes:

Purchase the contract of Kyle Blanks
The big man is coming. Kyle has been playing some outfield (15 games) along with 1B in AAA Portland, and he's hit .283/.393/.485 with 12 homers. He won't be supplanting Adrian at 1B, but we believe there will be some ab's for him during interleague play next week.

Purchase the contract of Eliezer Alfonzo
Eliezer is leading the Beavers in both OPS (.887) and slugging (.565) while catching 41 games. With Nick Hundley going on the DL, Eliezer should get some time behind the plate with Henry Blanco.

Recall Wade LeBlanc

Wade was with the big Club a few days last week but didn't have the opportunity to pitch. Tonight, however, he'll be the starter against the A's. Wade has a 4.08 ERA in 57 innings in Portland, giving up 56 hits and 17 walks while striking out 47.

Reinstate Everth Cabrera from the 60-Day DL

After breaking a bone in his hand in Philadelphia, Everth had surgery and missed two months. In the last few weeks, though, he has made rehab stops at Lake Elsinore (.391/.500/.522) and Portland (.333/.379/.407). It certainly appears as though he's ready to go.

Place Chris Young on the 15-Day DL

This has been well-documented in the mainstream media, but Chris has been battling some shoulder soreness for the past three or four starts. We decided it was time to let the soreness settle down before the injury cascaded.

Place Nick Hundley on the 15-Day DL
Nick was hit on the wrist with a pitch a little more than a week ago, and it's been slow to respond to treatment. Rather than continuing to try to fight through it on a daily basis, it made sense to bring Eliezer and make sure that Nick didn't have to play with discomfort for an extended period.

Place Cliff Floyd on the 60-Day DL
Cliff's shoulder continues to be a burden for him. Surgery is an option.

Josh Wilson claimed on waivers by the Seattle Mariners
In order to create room on the roster (both 25-man and 40-man) for Everth Cabrera, we placed Josh Wilson on waivers. The Mariners claimed him, so we won't have the option of having him available to us in AAA. Josh had a prior outright, so even had he cleared waivers, he would have had the option to elect free agency. Josh doesn't have any options remaining, so the Mariners must keep him on their 25-man roster.

Arturo Lopez claimed on waivers by the New York Mets
We needed to create a few 40-man roster spots today - Kyle Blanks, Eliezer Alfonzo, and Everth Cabrera (60-Day DL doesn't count toward the 40-man) - so we had some tough choices to make. As I wrote in an earlier post, often times the decision comes down to which player has the best chance to get through waivers. We took a shot with Arturo, but the Mets claimed him. He still has options remaining, so the Mets can option him to the minors.

We now have a total of 10 players on the Major League DL: Cha Seung Baek, Cliff Floyd, Luke Gregerson, Scott Hairston (starting rehab in Lake Elsinore this weekend), Shawn Hill, Nick Hundley, Jake Peavy, Luis Perdomo, Chris Young, and Mark Worrell. As a team we've now amassed 507 DL days, and the season is only 76 days old. In fact, we've had six or more players on the DL on 61 of the 76 days. At some point any team's depth gets tested, and I'm afraid we're well beyond that point (especially since our projected #1, #2, and #3 starters are all on the DL). Nevertheless, this is a great opportunity for some of the younger guys to gain experience, prove they belong, and establish themselves.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

One Year Later

As many of you know, I prefer to focus on process as opposed to outcomes since outcomes can often be misleading. Nevertheless, outcomes make the news (and determine who gets to play in the World Series), so we can't ignore them completely. With that in mind, following is a glance at the players selected in the top 15 rounds of the 2008 draft approximately one year later. I'll look at the later rounds in a future post.

Before I start, I just want to add a little perspective: the Midwest League has combined for a hitting line of approximately .254/.322/.376 so far this season. It's a very tough place to hit.

Round 1 - Allan Dykstra, Fort Wayne, .209/.389/.358
During spring training this year, our player development staff felt it was important to rework part of Allan's swing despite his solid performance at the conclusion of last season in the Cal League: .292/.469/.458 in about 30 pa's. As with any significant change, it was probably going to get worse before it got better, so they decided to start Allan in Fort Wayne. His eye continues to be excellent as evidenced by his 51 walks, and we're confident that he'll continue to see better and better results.

Round 1C - Jaff Decker, Fort Wayne, .283/.447/.510
19 years old, an ops greater than .950, 2nd in the league in OBP, more walks than strikeouts. Silly. Downright silly.

Round 1C - Logan Forsythe, Lake Elsinore, .323/.474/.516
The numbers speak for themselves again. Despite playing in one of the tougher hitting environments in the Cal League, especially for a right-handed hitter, Logan leads the Cal League in OBP, is 8th in average, and has 58 walks to just 45 strikeouts in about 300 pa's.

Round 2 - James Darnell, Fort Wayne, .330/.471/.526
Don't let yourself read these numbers without being astonished. All three of these guys are in rarefied air. James is leading the Midwest League in OBP, is 5th in slugging, and 6th in average. Like both Decker and Forsythe in front of him, he has more walks than strikeouts (56 to 49). These three guys are doing more than any of us could possibly have imagined.

Round 3 - Blake Tekotte, Fort Wayne, .236/.321/.339
This performance line has surprised me a bit, especially because Blake hit .285/.379/.456 in Eugene last summer. Nevertheless, I believe Blake could have a big 2nd half partly because he has hit .316/.437/.491 in June and seems to be warming up with the weather. Further, his 15 steals lead the Tin Caps, and he continues to play a very solid centerfield.

Round 3C - Sawyer Carroll, Fort Wayne, .311/.407/.450
Sawyer's already impressive line might be outrageous had he not hit .215/.342/.292 in April. His OPS marks have increased each month from .634 to .891 to 1.045, and he's also stolen 14 bags.

Round 4 - Jason Kipnis
Jason returned to Arizona State for his junior year, and the Cleveland Indians selected him in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft.

Round 5 - Anthony Bass, Fort Wayne, 2.17 ERA, 66 ip/58 h/23 bb/48 k
Not to be outdone by the hitters, Anthony ranks 2nd in the Midwest League in ERA. Used exclusively in the bullpen in Eugene where he compiled seven saves and a 2.10 ERA last summer, Anthony moved back into the rotation and has been a stalwart this year. He's allowed just two earned runs in his last 33.2 innings of work.

Round 6 - Cole Figueroa, Fort Wayne, .357/.500/.571
Bothered by a troublesome knee earlier in the season in Lake Elsinore and having to spend time rehabbing back in Arizona, Cole recently joined the Tin Caps and has played shortstop the last four games.

Round 7 - Adam Zornes, Fort Wayne, .142/.242/.319
Adam's had a tough season. He's only caught 30 games and has just over 100 ab's, so the numbers aren't necessarily indicative of his ability. A good defensive catcher with some power, Adam hasn't found his stroke quite yet.

Round 8 - Beamer Weems, Lake Elsinore, .300/.471/.393
An excellent defensive SS, Beamer has surprised some people with the bat. Playing in High-A and still just 21 years old, Beamer is 2nd in the Cal League in OBP right behind Logan Forsythe.

Round 9 - Kyle Thebeau
Kyle returned to Texas A&M for his senior season and went undrafted this year.

Round 10 - Andrew Albers, Arizona
Andrew, a left-handed pitcher, injured his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery this spring. He will miss the season.

Round 11 - Tyson Bagley, Eugene
6'8" and a hard thrower, Tyson threw 40 innings last year for Eugene with a 3.57 ERA. This spring he stayed in extended spring training and is expected to return to Eugene.

Round 12 - Matt Clark, Fort Wayne, .267/.356/.496
Like a few others in front of him, we had to overpay to get Matt away from LSU, but we've been rewarded so far. Matt leads the team in homers (11), RBI (50), and total bases (117), while also ranking 2nd in the Midwest League in extra-base hits (32) and doubles (21). He splits time with Allan Dykstra at 1B and DH.

Round 13 - Erik Davis, Fort Wayne, 3.43 ERA, 42 ip/38 h/18 bb/40 k
Pitching in both the rotation and the pen as he did last summer in Eugene where he posted a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings, Erik has been very steady. So far he has a 3.57 ERA as a reliever and a 3.26 as a starter.

Round 14 - Robert Musgrave, Fort Wayne, 6.92 ERA, 40.1 ip/53 h/17 bb/37 k
Robert's performance was a bit of a mystery, especially since he dominated last summer in Eugene with 66 k's and 11 bb's in 42 innings. We may have found the culprit, though, as he is now on the DL nursing a strain in his oblique. He'll take it slowly, as that can be a touchy injury, but we do expect him back in the not too distant future.

Round 15 - Brett Mooneyham
As expected, Brett enrolled at Stanford where he had a 4.14 ERA in 67 innings of work this spring.

One obvious question here is: why so many guys, especially college guys, in Fort Wayne rather than Lake Elsinore and aren't their numbers inflated by playing against weaker competition?

There are two answers to this:

1) There were players, in our estimation, who were already in our system and deserved the opportunity to advance to Lake Elsinore, so even though a number of the players from the 2008 draft were fully capable of going to high-A, there weren't enough at-bats to go around. Furthermore, players have jumped from Low-A straight to AA (Will Venable is one), so getting someone everyday at-bats at Fort Wayne would not slow down their advancement in the system.

2) The demographics of the Midwest League are not what you might expect. Just 25% of the players on Midwest League rosters were born in 1988 or later, whereas 55% of the league was born in 1986 or 1987. So, by and large, this is not a league for high school drafts. Though it's technically a low-A league, the talent may very well be on par with the other high-A leagues.

Last year we believed there was an unusual amount of talent among the college hitters, so we targeted them aggressively in the draft. So far, that strategy seems to have paid off, as we're getting exceptional performance from a number of them and have the top two in OBP (by a wide margin) in both the Midwest League and the Cal League. Let's hope they can keep it up as they move through the chain.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Peavy to the DL

Today we announced that Jake Peavy will be placed on the DL for his ankle injury. In order to let it heal he will wear a cast for at least the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rounds 31-50

31st Round - Matt Jackson, RHP from University of South Alabama

32nd Round - David Erickson, RHP from University of Connecticut

33rd Round - Jonathan Berger, RHP from San Diego State

34th Round - Joshua Cephas, RHP from Southern Nazarene

35th Round - Adalberto Santos, OF from Oregon State

36th Round - Dylan Tonneson, C from Cal Berkeley

37th Round - Gaspar Santiago, LHP from Ranger JC in Texas

38th Round - Kyle Loretelli, CF from Cal State Stanislaus

39th Round - Christopher Ahearn, SS from Catawba College

40th Round - Thomas Porter, RHP from Elon College

41st Round - Dane Hamilton, 3B from University of New Mexico

42nd Round - Ray Delphey, RHP from Alonso HS in Florida

43rd Round - Chadd Hartman, OF from University of Central Florida

44th Round - Ryan Skube, 2B from Mountain Ridge HS in Arizona

45th Round - Derek Landis, RHP from Iowa Western Community College

46th Round - Mykal Stokes, CF from Orange Coast College in California

47th Round - Zack Thomas, LHP from Cy Fair HS in Texas

48th Round - Andrew Ruck, CF from Sinclar SS in Ontario

49th Round - Brett Holland, RHP from University of Texas at Tyler

50th Round - Brett Basham, C from University of Mississippi

Sorry for not including individual info on all of these players (and my apologies to them), but I'm out of gas. Feel free to ask questions, and I'll tell you what I know.

I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of our picks in either Eugene or Peoria later this summer after sleeping for about a week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rounds 21-30

21st Round - Kendall Korbal, RHP from Blinn College in Texas

20 years old and 6'6", 210 lbs, Kendall has a fastball that reaches 93 and the makings of solid secondary pitches. He could end up as a starter or a reliever with power stuff.

22nd Round - Cody Decker, 1B from UCLA

A senior first baseman from UCLA, Cody banged 20 homers this season. He doesn't have the height of the rest of our draft class, but he attacks the ball and can hit it a long way.

23rd Round - Jeffrey Ibarra, LHP from Lee University in Tennessee

A California native and standing 6'6" and 180 lbs, Jeffrey is a left-handed reliever with a low 3/4 arm angle making him tough on left-handed hitters.

24th Round - Ben Davis, OF from University of Southern Mississippi

No flashbacks here...Ben actually goes by "Bo". A senior centerfielder, Bo plays with a lot of energy and hit .371/.488/.649 this spring.

25th Round - Ty Wright, OF from Georgia Southern

A 6'0", 235 lbs left-fielder, Ty was the Georgia Junior College player of the year in 2007 and a Second Team All-American in 2008. He combined to hit .365/.457/.658 over his past two seasons at Georgia Southern. Ty plays hard and has some serious strength.

26th Round - Kevin Winn, 2B from Louisiana Tech

Kevin had a big senior season at La Tech hitting .380/.440/.606 while striking out just 11 times. His father is Earl Winn, a scout for the Twins, and his brother plays in the Phillies organization.

27th Round
- Cameron Monger, OF from University of New Mexico

Despite being a solid 6'2", 205 lbs, Cameron runs the 60 in about 6.3 seconds. He didn't get to play all that much this season at New Mexico, but he can impact a game with his speed.

28th Round - Vince Belnome, 2B from West Virginia University

A junior left-handed hitting 2B, Vince was a Third Team All Big East selection in 2008 as a sophomore and this year hit .417/.520/.655.

29th Round - Robert Poutier, RHP from University of Virginia

A 6'4", 190 lb reliever from UVA, Robert has pitched 54.2 innings over the past two seasons, yielding 49 hits and 20 walks while striking out 73. He has a nice FB/SL mix.

30th Round - Babawande Olabisi, OF from Stanford

A terrific athlete, Wande hasn't had much of a chance to play at Stanford, amassing just 23 ab's over the past three seasons. Nevertheless, he can really run and has plenty of strength. Wande was born in Lagos, Nigeria before moving to Saudi Arabia where he played for the 2000 Little League World Series team. He is a member of the royal family of the Urhobo tribe in Nigeria. Here's a good article.

That's it for today. We still have some work to do tomorrow, but we're pumped how everything has fallen so far. We feel we have a lot of upside in this draft, and we're happy to add so much size and power. If a basketball or football game breaks out in Peoria, AZ, we'll be ready.

Rounds 11-20

11th Round - Andrew Madrigal, RHP from Mt. San Jacinto in California

A two-way player at Mt. San Jacinto, Drew hit over .400 while also putting up a big year on the mound. 6'2" and 200 lbs, Drew is an athletic strike thrower who has been up to 94 mph with a solid slider. He struck out 138 in 106 innings.

12th Round - Brayden Drake, 3B from Missouri St

A senior, Brayden is a hard-nosed infielder with a solid line drive bat. He's a good enough defender to move around, and he's a tough out hitting over .400 this season while slugging .695.

13th Round - James Vern, 1B/OF from Texas Christian University

At 6'3" and 225, James is athletic enough to play out in LF as well as 1B. James hit 15 homers this season and slugged .679.

14th Round - Nick Greenwood, LHP from University of Rhode Island

A left-handed starter at URI, Nick has excellent command along with a solid changeup. He has started for the past two years, going 184.1 innings with 185 hits, just 40 walks, and 169 strikeouts.

15th Round - Matt Lollis, RHP from Riverside Community College

Back on our theme. Matt is 6'8", 260 lbs, and he's just 18 years old. Despite the size, Matt has good feel for the strike zone and runs his fastball up to 94 mph.

16th Round - Griffin Benedict, C from Georgia Southern

Son of former Major Leaguer, Bruce Benedict, Griffin has been a four-year starter at Georgia Southern and shows great intangibles. A left-handed hitter, Griffin controls the strike zone and hits to all fields, but he's also belted 26 homers over the past two seasons.

17th Round - Jorge Reyes, RHP from Oregon State

6'3" and 185 lbs, Jorge has been a high profile pitcher at Oregon State for the past three seasons. He has a good sinker in the low 90's along with a solid slider.

18th Round - Shuhei Fujiya, RHP from University of Northern Iowa

An Irvine native, Shuhei attended Orange Coast College before heading to Northern Iowa. 6'3" and 175 lbs, Shuhei does not yet have a lot of experience on the mound but shows a good delivery with an easy, quick arm.

19th Round - Chris Tremblay, SS from Kent State University

A senior infielder, Chris is a solid defender and has hit over .350 over the past two college seasons combined. This year he played SS with a dislocated finger - like the toughness.

20th Round - John Wooten, 3B from Eastern Wayne HS in North Carolina

At 6'3" and 195 lbs, John has already shown big, big power. He's a good athlete, and as he continues to get bigger and stronger he could end up being dangerous with the bat.

10th Round Pick

Ryan Hinson, LHP from Clemson University

It was about time we took a lefty. A 6'2", 220 lb reliever, Ryan has also started in the past. In the bullpen his FB has been up to 94 to go along with a solid slider.

The draft is really going fast right now, so I'm not going to be able to continue posting after each pick. There are a few breaks, so I'll try to do so roundups along with a recap at the end of the day.

9th Round Pick

Chris Fetter, RHP from University of Michigan

A 6'8", 230 lb starting pitcher, Chris had a huge spring after seeing a jump in his velocity up to 94 mph. In 94 innings this season he walked just 17 and struck out 103. At 6'8" you could say he has good "downhill plane".

8th Round Pick

Nate Freiman, 1B at Duke University

A 6'8" first baseman, Nate has monster power. This year, his senior year, he had 19 homers and just 24 strikeouts. As you can imagine, he makes a nice target over at 1B.

7th Round Pick

Miles Mikolas, RHP from Nova Southeastern in Florida

A 6'5" 220 lb starting pitcher, Miles has a fastball up to 94 with a good curveball. Is anyone sensing a trend?

6th Round Pick

James Needy, RHP from Santana HS in California

A San Diegan, James is a 6'5" starting pitcher with a FB in the low 90's with feel for both a breaking ball and a changeup. It's nice to get a local in the mix, but this one was all about talent.

5th Round Pick

Jason Hagerty, C from the University of Miami

Jason is a strong switch-hitting catcher with some power. He has also spent time at 1B, but we see him as a catcher.

4th Round Pick

Keyvius Sampson, RHP from Forest HS in Florida

Keyvius is a very athletic right-handed starter with a fastball that ranges from 90-96 mph and a very good changeup. This season he posted a 0.83 ERA, pitching 59 innings, giving up 19 hits and 14 walks while striking out 113. We believe he has big upside as a starting pitcher.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tonight

With just three rounds under our belt we have a long night in front of us tonight. The good thing is that we have the opportunity to digest what has transpired and create a comprehensive plan for tomorrow, which will be rapid fire. The bad thing is that the draft at this stage is much more unpredictable.

Nevertheless, we're very happy with our first day. We've been excited about selecting Tate for weeks, were pleasantly surprised that Williams was still there, and were happy to add a starter with both athleticism and stuff.

Thanks for all of the comments so far. We're excited that you're excited.

3rd Round Pick

Gerald Sullivan, RHP from Oral Roberts Univ

Jerry is 6'4", 200 lbs and has been a starting pitcher for the past two seasons for Oral Roberts while spending his summers in the Cape. An excellent athlete, he has a FB that ranges from 90-94 and complements it with a solid SL and a CH.

2nd Round Pick

Everett Williams, OF from Austin McCallum HS in Texas

This is another highly athletic HS outfielder who we think can really hit. He's about 5'10" and 200lbs and is another potential 5-tool guy.

Tate Video

Thanks to Scott Singer from Workhorse Video Productions for making this video available.


video

1st Round Pick

Donavan Tate, OF from Cartersville HS in Georgia

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding this pick over the past few weeks, but Tate has always been in the front of our minds. He is a potential 5-tool player who plays in the middle of the diamond and is probably the best athlete in the draft.

We're taking our shot.

Draft Day

We finished our annual Draft Day breakfast, and we're currently in our final discussions.

Today is going to be a slower first day than normal since we're only getting through three rounds. Nevertheless, we're going over a number of permutations to make sure that we're set up to act quickly regardless of what happens in front of us in each of the rounds. The anticipation is painful.

Just like last year I'll be posting after each of our selections.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gerut for Gwynn Jr

I'm back! Ok, so it's a day later than expected, but I ended up taking my kids to Legoland yesterday. All the time on the road can be rough on the family.

Anyway, according to the comments, the Gerut for Gwynn swap seems to have been on many minds over the past week or so. In addition to Tony being an outstanding defensive CF with above average speed, there are a handful of elements in a deal like this:
  • Age - Tony Jr is just 26 years while Jody is playing this year at 31. Jody certainly isn't old, but we are committed to getting younger where we can. We've had 32 players currently in our organization who have competed for us at the ML level this season, and 25 of them are in their 20's (Chris Young just turned 30 on Monday, so we just missed out on 26). Only four of those in their 30's are full-time starters: Brian Giles, Chris Young, Heath Bell, and David Eckstein. Furthermore, 13 of the players are 26 years old or younger, and Tony Jr fits into that group.
  • Service Time - Building on the age element, Tony Jr has just over one year of Major League service (players become free agents after six full years), whereas Jody will be over the five year mark at the end of this season, thereby making him eligible for free agency at the end of 2010. As we try to rebuild the foundation for long-term success, we have to take this into account.
  • Money - Nobody likes to talk about it, but the fact is that dollars must factor in our decision making. It doesn't mean that we're just looking to move payroll, but every team has to evaluate the cost of each of player on their roster. In this case, Jody was making $1,775,000 this year compared with Tony Jr's $405,000. That spread will likely increase next year as Jody will once again will eligible for arbitration.
  • Other - It would be silly to ignore the fact that Tony Gwynn Jr's father is Tony Gwynn. Such an affiliation, however, is never the impetus for a move. When weighing options that are similar, it can probably tip the scales but no more.
  • Other Players - I saved this for last, because it may be the most important piece of this transaction. Most deals are not just simply about the player you're trading away for the player you're acquiring. In addition to the standalone deal, there is often a ripple effect on the roster, and in this case that ripple effect may have precipitated the move. Ok, in English... Jody Gerut is a productive offensive outfielder who can play all three outfield positions and is cost effective in relative terms. Well, that also describes Scott Hairston and possibly Drew Macias (who are both younger and have less service time than Jody). This move was about creating at-bats for others like Hairston, Macias, and even Headley as much as it was about the straight-up deal.
So, in summary, though we gave up a good player in Jody Gerut, we got younger, created more cost flexibility, and have provided more opportunity for other players who have a chance to be with us for a longer period of time. It's not without risks, but that's the rationale.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yesterday

Yesterday was a big day for the Padres in many respects, and unfortunately I was unavailable to read, publish or respond to any of your comments. I am still in Birmingham (at the airport now at 5:30am) and, contrary to the caricature, I don't even have a computer with me on this trip. Therefore, all comments with have to wait until I return late this weekend.

That being the case, expect me to get to all of your questions on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tournament Time

We're coming into the final turn for this year's amateur draft, which means many of our scouts and front office personnel are bouncing all over the country to get a final look at some of the top players. That's what brings me to Hoover, Alabama.

For the third year in a row I'm here in Hoover at the SEC Tournament, and we're currently between games two and three (of four in the day). The day starts early with the first game at 10am, and the hope is that the last pitch will be thrown sometime before 2am. It's a long day of baseball.

Nevertheless, it's worth it. The SEC is often loaded with talent. In last year's draft we selected Logan Forsythe (Arkansas), James Darnell (South Carolina), Sawyer Carroll (Kentucky), Cole Figueroa (Florida), Andrew Albers (Kentucky), and Matt Clark (LSU) all in the first 12 rounds or so. The Padres haven't been alone.

In just the past three or four years many top prospects and some young big leaguers have played in this tournament, including guys like David Price, Pedro Alvarez, Matt LaPorta, Pedro Borbon, JP Arencibia, Reese Havens, Luke Hochevar, Jess Todd, Lance Lynn, Chris Coughlan, Casey Weathers, Gordon Beckham, and Padres Chase Headley, Wynn Pelzer, and Nick Schmidt. That's why the crowd is filled with Crosscheckers, Scouting Directors, and General Managers.

The second half of this day one should be a good one, as a number of highly touted players will be on the field. I just hope it's over before sunrise.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Roster Moves

Busy Friday.

Today we optioned RHP Edwin Moreno, released RHP Duaner Sanchez, placed SS Luis Rodriguez on the 15-Day DL, recalled LHP Joe Thatcher, purchased the contract of RHP Greg Burke, claimed SS Josh Wilson on waivers, and transferred RHP Cha Seung Baek to the 60-Day DL. Whew.

Joe Thatcher has pitched well this season in AAA Portland, going 14 innings with 12 hits, five walks, and 17 k's. What's particularly good is that Joe has held left-handed hitters to a .557 ops and right-handed hitters to a .661. His ground ball ratio has also been 4:1, so all that indicates that his cutter looks more like the 2007 version.

Greg Burke will be making his Major League debut, and it's a good story. A non-drafted free agent, Greg began his career in 2006 splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen with both of our A-Ball teams. Once again an A-ball swing man in 2007, Greg posted a 5.23 ERA. Then came 2008. Greg made the move to the AA pen, and everything clicked. He notched 23 saves for AA San Antonio on his way to a 2.24 ERA in 84 innings of work. He hasn't missed a beat in AAA this year with seven saves and a 2.25 ERA across 16 innings.

Josh Wilson is a 28-year SS who has over 1700 plate appearances in AAA and about 350 in the big leagues. Most recently with the Diamondbacks, Josh does everything pretty well - solid defense at SS, good runner, and has a little power. He gives us some needed veteran depth at the SS position with the injuries to both Everth Cabrera and Luis Rodriguez.

The move of Cha Seung Baek should not materially change his return, as the 60 days began at the beginning of the seaon, and we don't anticipate his return before the beginning of June.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Looking at Brian Giles

I was in the midst of posting this response in the comments section, and I figured it was better suited as a post...

John,

I know a lot of people have been raising questions about Giles recently, as he's had a miserable start to his season.

I know he's 38, but this is also a very small sample that may not be indicative of anything.

In 2005 Giles hit .145/.294/205 over 100 or so pa's from early April to early May.

In 2006 Giles hit .115/.303/.135 in roughly 70 pa's from late June through early July.

In 2007 Giles hit .175/.273/.330 in more than 100 pa's from early Sept until the end of the season.

In 2008 Giles hit .218/.365/.308 in more than 70 pa's in late April through mid-May.

The point is that just about anything can happen to just about anyone over a span of 150 plate appearances, and in fact, something similar has happened to Giles in each of the past four seasons.

Here's another example: in 2003 when I was still in Oakland, we had the reigning AL MVP, Miguel Tejada, playing shortstop. After his first 120 pa's or so of the season, he was hitting .157/.229/.287 - the reigning MVP! By the end of the season he was up to .278/.336/.472 - right in line with his career norms.

Though Brian hasn't swung the bat the way all of us are accustomed to seeing, he has had some bad luck and his approach has improved. In the first 15 games Brian walked just four times and struck out 10. That is unusual for a guy who walked more than he has struck out over the course of his entire ML career. However, in the past 16 games Brian has walked nine times and struck out five. That's more like it and could be a sign that he's seeing the ball better. Then again, that could just be small sample sizes playing tricks on us...

The real point is that we're generally better served by looking at the body of work over a longer time frame than we are by focusing on the last 100 pa's. Furthermore, bad streaks get exacerbated early in the season because the numbers on the scoreboard look so terrible. If a player has a tough stretch in July that takes his average from .280 down to .255, it doesn't get nearly as much attention.

All of that doesn't mean that we're blind to changes of skill level, especially as players age. However, it does mean that players with long track records of success ought to be given more leeway before making irrevocable decisions.

Injury News

Cha Seung Baek - After making two rehab appearances in Lake Elsinore and one in Portland, Cha Seung felt some elbow soreness and was removed from the game. This is different than the previous injury for which he was rehabbing.

Walter Silva - Walter has already made two appearances for Portland, going a total of 7.1 innings and yielding three runs. He should be very close.

Mike Adams - Mike is progressing well and threw a full bullpen yesterday. His first simulated game against hitters could come later this week, which keeps him on target for a return hopefully sometime in June.

Matt Antonelli - Matt started experiencing some discomfort around his knee toward the end of spring training and had a difficult time getting rid of the pain. Fortunately, he's been pain free for a while now, has been playing nine innings in extended spring training games, and will be activated in AAA Portland today.

Steve Garrison - A left-handed starter, Garrison was on his way to AAA this year after posting a 3.82 ERA in AA San Antonio as a 21-year old. His season ended in August (if I remember correctly), and he had shoulder surgery. Fortunately, he's been up on the mound already a handful of times, is progressing well, and is scheduled for his first simulated game against hitters tomorrow. We're hoping that he'll be ready by July.

Kellen Kulbacki - After having shoulder surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in the off-season, Kellen aggravated the injury in spring training. He was activated in San Antonio over the weekend and is 2 for 8 is his first two games.

Brian Joynt - Brian had some lower back pain that kept him out of some spring training games, but he is back playing nine innings in extended games and has already played 3B, 1B, and the OF. Barring any setbacks, he should be ready to go shortly.

Lance Zawadzki - Lance was actually activated in Lake Elsinore a few weeks ago after just about two weeks in extended spring. He's hitting .338/.407/.688 in roughly 85 plate appearances for the Storm. He's 4th in the Cal League in homers and slugging percentage despite the late start.

Jackson Quezada - After not pitching in big league camp, Jackson started pitching on the minor league side and was pitching in extended spring training games until just a couple of days ago. He is now resting and not on an active pitching schedule.

Matt Latos - After rolling his ankle in minor league spring training, Matt was a few starts behind his colleagues. He made some appearances in extended spring before being activated about two weeks ago in Ft. Wayne. So far Matt has made two appearances for the TinCaps going 11.2 innings with four hits, three walks, and 12 strikeouts.

Jaff Decker - Jaff was activated just over two weeks ago in Ft. Wayne and he's made his presence felt. Through his first 15 games he's hitting .317/.548/.659. That's ridiculous.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Update

Over the past two weeks I've been up and down the East Coast, up and down the West Coast, and spent at least a little bit of time in between. Throughout that time our Major League Club has played poorly. And it's been frustrating.

People often comment about how much fun our jobs must be, and sometimes I'll respond with, "It's fun when you win." Well, we haven't been winning, and it hasn't been much fun.

Nevertheless, this is part of the reason for this blog - times like this. It's also a time for us to analyze what has gone awry. So what has happened?

We started out hitting a solid .254/.336/.433 over our first 12 games, but we've managed just a .232/.305/.367 line since then, so we're now at .240/.316/.391 as a team. A .316 obp isn't going to get it done. We're better than that.

One of the things that happens when teams aren't scoring a lot is that individual hitters tend to press, thinking that they have to be THE guy to break the team out of the collective slump. Unfortunately, this often exacerbates the problem.

This self-inflicted pressure is never more evident than when the pressure ought to be on the pitcher - when there are two men in scoring position (2nd and 3rd or bases loaded). Pressing hitters will get jumpy in this situation rather than let the game come to them. We've had 53 chances so far this season in those situations and we're hitting an abysmal .109/.283/.152 with just 16 rbi. In contrast, the National League has combined for a .264/.359/.436 line in those hitter-friendly circumstances. Basically, we've missed out in a big way on the best chances that we've created.

Additionally, a portion of the bad numbers has come from bad luck. The National League as a whole has a batting average on balls in play of .238 on ground balls, .144 on fly balls, and .710 on line drives. That's a reasonably good proxy for where we ought to be; however, we're hitting just .204 on grounders and .105 on fly balls (.708 on liners is on par with the league). Brian Giles, for one, has been hit particularly hard in this area, hitting just .130 on ground balls and .500 on line drives. A long season is a good thing.

Similar to our hitting, our pitching took a turn after the first 12 games. We posted a 3.79 ERA as a team in the first 12 and we've had a 5.24 since. The good news is that we were back to a 3.74 in the past seven days. In general our walks are too high, and we're spending too much time pitching from behind in the count, but I continue to have faith that this will improve.

One of the things that every team has to deal with is injuries, and we've certainly had our share. There is a strong correlation between our DL numbers on a daily basis and our winning percentage, but it's tough to ascertain whether or not a causal relationship exists. Since April 20 we've had six players on the Major League DL and seven since April 27. While we haven't lost a #1 starter, a closer or a cleanup hitter (knock on wood) to the DL, it does get to a tipping point where the sheer volume hurts. In essence, we have seven players currently on our team - nearly 30% of our active roster - that were ticketed for AAA. Day in and day out that ends up taking a toll. Of course, we're not the only team having to deal with such an issue.

It is often said that you're never as good as you look when things are going well and never as bad as you look when things are going poorly. Our season to date has typified that axiom. Now we have to forget about the last couple of weeks and get out of the trough of the rollercoaster.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Week in Review #3

I've been on the road since late last week doing amateur coverage on the East Coast, so I'm once again delinquent with my week in review. Quite frankly, it wasn't a great week to review anyway.

Hitting
Overall, we were 2-5 since I last wrote. Offensively, we hit .258/.321/.395 as a team, which isn't too bad, but we reached the critical four run threshold just three times (going 2-1 in those games). For the season we're 10th out of 16 in the NL in runs scored and have a 103 OPS+ (100 is the baseline and anything above 100 is above average). Both of those marks are fine, but we think we can do better.

Pitching
Our pitching had a tough week. As a team we posted a 6.36 ERA pushing the season total from a 3.83 to a 4.74 overall. That isn't going to cut it in the long run. We did keep our opponents under four runs three times (2-1 in those games), but we didn't do a good enough job in the other games to give our offense much of a chance.

Our bullpen has been quite strong, despite a few lapses, with Bell, Meredith, Gregerson, Moreno, and Mujica combining for a 3.10 ERA so far. Bell, obviously, has been outstanding, and if the rest of the young guys can continue to settle in, we like the depth there.

Roster/Injuries
We made a couple of roster moves this week, designating both RHR Eulogio DeLaCruz and RHR Mike Ekstrom for assignment in order to make room for LHR Arturo Lopez and RHS Chad Gaudin. Though we haven't had a lefty in our pen so far this season, that wasn't the sole reason for bringing up Arturo. He had a great spring this year and continued that performance into the first few weeks for Portland striking out 15 in 14.1 innings of work. We signed Gaudin in order to build him up as a starter after the Cubs released him at the end of spring training hoping that he might be ready by early May. He made two appearances in Portland without yielding a run and when we needed him earlier than anticipated, he did the same for the Major League club last night in Colorado.

Overall, injuries have become an issue for us early in the season. We currently have seven guys on the DL (already 129 DL days as a team and we're not even out of April), all of whom have either been on the team or were expected to be on the team except for Mike Adams. We knew we were taking risks with a couple of the guys due to injury history, but we've also run into some bad luck especially in our rotation. Fortunately, Cha Seung Baek started a rehab assignment last night in single A, and Mike Adams is feeling good and appears to be ahead of schedule.

Minor Leagues
Portland (11-9) - Kyle Blanks continues to pace the Beavers with a .319/.430/.528 batting line and just hit his fourth homer of the season last night. Between stints on the ML club, Drew Macias has hit .321/.446/.453 in AAA while also registering more walks than strikeouts. After yielding a run in his first appearance of the season, Greg Burke has thrown up nothing but zeros en route to a 0.90 ERA. Even better, Joe Thatcher is still sporting a perfect 0.00 ERA after 8.2 innings.

San Antonio (8-10) - Mitch Canham, Craig Cooper, and Eric Sogard still lead the offensive charge for the Missions, while Cooper's 26 hits are good for the Texas League lead. Luis Durango also is leading the Texas League in his category of choice - stolen bases. On the mound Stephen Faris has a 1.99 ERA while also pitching the 2nd most innings in the league, and Evan Scribner, the reliever acquired last season for Tony Clark, has a 1.04 ERA, striking out 11 hitters in 8.2 innings.

Lake Elsinore (10-9) - In his first stint with a full-season club last year in Ft. Wayne, 1B Felix Carrasco banged 16 homers, though he also struck out 162 times in 450 plate appearances. This year, however, Felix has maintained his power numbers while cutting his k rate by an outstanding 33%. All told he's hitting .286/.416/.444 for the Storm. A supplemental pick in last year's draft, Logan Forsythe continues his hot start as he's reached base in all 17 games he's played while compiling a .323/.455/.484 line. The rotation is still the big story in Elsinore as the five starters (Hefner, Kluber, Luebke, McBryde, and Pelzer) have ERA's ranging from 2.35 to 3.86 and have combined to strike out 106 batters in 89.1 innings compared to just 23 walks - all this in the hitter-friendly Cal League. In the bullpen, Bryan Oland has been stellar racking up six saves and striking out 14 batters in 11 innings.

Fort Wayne (14-4) - Yes, they finally lost a game, but Ft Wayne continues to play well. After a handful of games in extended spring training, we activated OF Jaff Decker this week and he is hitting .250/.429/.563 through his first five games. Reliever Brad Brach has five saves already but more impressively has allowed just one baserunner in his eight innings on the mound.

Like I stated at the beginning, this wasn't our best week. Nevertheless, we're 11-9 to start the season with a schedule that has included a bi-coastal three city road trip and opponents like the Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Phillies, and the surprising Pirates. It doesn't get much easier this week as we get four more with the Dodgers starting tomorrow and no off-days in site. Fortunately, after that we get to play 13 of our next 19 games at Petco, so if we can stay away from more DL time it could be a nice stretch.