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...


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.


Unknown said...

It may be true that from an offensive standpoint, Chase needed to be pushed. Unfortunately, he's being pushed at the plate while looking totally lost in left. I have to assume part of his struggles at the plate are due in part to his struggles in the field carrying over. I know you can't answer this, but I'll ask it rhetorically. With Kouz being arbitration eligble (not to mention being older than Chase) wouldn't it make sense to move Kouz (if possible) and re-insert Chase at his natural position? Just a thought but the Marlins could use a 3B in the worst way.

Paul DePodesta said...

Before anyone makes the point or asks the question...

Yes, plenty of players do have a smooth transition to the big leagues and never struggle. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence. However, those guys are in the minority.

field39 said...


According to your keep pushing to find a challenge point logic. Should we expect Mr. Zawadzki's stay in AA to be short lived? Regardless, do you see him sticking at SS? Has his surge been unexpected?

Paul DePodesta said...


Very good question.

There are always a lot of factors in play when discussing promotions aside from performance (i.e. age, playing time, quality of approach, etc).

In Lance's case, he was a guy that we thought might be able to jump to AA this year from LA a la Will Venable a few years ago partly because he was already 23 years old and partly because he really progressed in the last few months of the '08 season. However, we had a nice young SS in Jesus Lopez who ended the year in AA last season, so there was no need to rush it. Then Lance killed it over about 165 pa's in HA, and since his promotion in AA had been in our minds since the winter, that was enough to make the move. At this point, though, he only has just over 100 pa's in AA and is at an appropriate level for his age and experience, so my guess is that we'll let that play out for a while.

Of course, you never know, either.

Padman42 said...

I completely agree with you that players should be pushed aggressively. The "1 year in each league theory" does not really help the top prospects and in fact might hurt some of them. Yes if a player goes from dominating at the MWL to only doing ok in the Cal League it doesnt necessarily mean the promotion was unwarranted. Especially when minor league numbers are not the bottom line in player development. Yes they have to make adjustments, but isnt that the entire point of the game (especially when they reach the big leagues). If anything these promotions would help a young player adjust to the big leagues because he has had to do it before.
Also really glad to see Garrison pitching for AZL yesterday, will he join fellow 08' Texas Leaguers Inman and Buschman in Portland? Also do the Padres know who will be "kicked out" of the SA rotation to make room for Luebke? Finally AZL and Eugene are looking really bad. Seems like so far there are no Dan Robertson's or Robert Lara's of this years draft (ie mid to late round picks that are on fire the entire season). Are the Padres in negotiations with Tate, Williams and Sampson?

As always thanks Paul for all the hard work.

Anonymous said...

Paul, who makes the actual final decions about promoting and demoting players around the minor leagues? Are people promoted/demoted sometimes without input from the actual GM?

Paul DePodesta said...


Grady Fuson runs player development, but whenever he's contemplating a player move (up, down, or release), he'll seek the input of a number of different people including field staff and front office personnel.

Anonymous said...

Do you still view Antonelli as the future at second base. He's been better lately.

chiefgaytonfan said...

Is the front office very excited about the success that 19 yr old LHP Juan Oramas has shown with Mexico City Red Devils in the Mexican League this year? Is he going to stay with the Red Devils for entire season or is the plan to bring him back to Lake Elsinore or Fort Wayne for play off push?

Peter said...

So speaking of moving people up when they are ready, what's the word on Anthony Bass?

Bass: 7-3 in 78.1 IP with 1.95 ERA 65 H, 24 BB, 59 SO, 5 HR

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to Euclides Viloria? He had an impressive K/9 in 2007. Angel Jarce? Pascual Juan?