Tag Archives: Jon Link

Jon Link’s MLB Debut

The first former Fort Wayne alumnus to make his MLB debut in 2010 is Jon Link, who was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Juan Pierre deal during the offseason. Overall, he is the 88th former Fort Wayne-er to make his MLB debut.

With Cincinnati leading he Dodgers 9-5, Link entered the game in relief of Ramon Ortiz (who was relieving starter Chad Billingsley). Fortunately, Link was able to stop the bleeding with a one-two-three inning; getting batters Hernandez and Cairo to groung out before coaxing Stubbs to fly out to right center.

He returned for the eight inning, where he got Cabrera to ground out to third before walking Joey Votto who was promptly caught stealing. Then Brandon Phillips popped out to end the inning. Link was lifted in the bottom half of the eight for a pinch hitter.

I have not blogged about Jon Link much over the years, but I have been following his career since starting this “project.” Last year, I noted that he was one that might debut in 2009. I was wrong, but it didn’t take long in 2010.

With the Wizards in 2006, Link appeared in 53 games with a 4.91 EAR while striking out 57 over 62.1 innings pitched to go with a 5-5 record.

Link was 1-2 with a 3.99 ERA and 13 saves in 48 games at Triple-A Charlotte in 2009. He was acquired by the Sox in 2007 season in a trade with San Diego for Rob Mackowiak.

Interesting side-note: Link is the first former WizCap to debut with the Dodgers. If I have counted right, that makes 19 different teams that one has debuted with.

Fort Fragments: Former Wizards Player Movement

Playing a little catch up on some Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana related notes:

Add LaTroy Hawkins to the Brewers’ roster of growing former Fort Wayne players. He’s signed to a two-year deal, joining him with Luis Cruz and George Kottaras, who joined Milwuakee earlier this off-season. Reportedly, he wanted to return to Houston, but wouldn’t settle for a one-year deal.

Luke Carlin has signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates. “Carlin, 29, hit .321/.430/.481 for the D’Backs’ Triple A club.  They still chose to outright him in early December.”

The Dodgers signed free-agent outfielder Michael Restovich to Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The 31-year-old has played parts of six Major League seasons, most recently with Washington in 2007. He spent last season with the Triple-A Charlotte, slugging 21 homers.

The Twins have added right-handed reliever Clay Condrey to a one-year contract for the 2010 season. The 34-year-old became a free agent after he was non-tendered by the Phillies on December 12. In 2009, he went 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 45 relief appearances.

The Colorado Rockies have brought right-hander Juan Rincon back, signing him to a Minor League deal that calls for an $800,000 salary if he hits the big leagues. Rincon also got an invite to spring training.

Jon Link has gone to the Dodgers as part of the Juan Pierre trade. Link was 1-2 with a 3.99 ERA and 13 saves in 48 games at Triple-A Charlotte in 2009. He was acquired by the Sox in 2007 season in a trade with San Diego for Rob Mackowiak.

2009 Spring Training Update from Fort Wayne II

Guess I will make this into a series of sorts. Anywho, here’s some more updates:

Wade LeBlanc has been optioned to Triple-A Portland. So has Mike Ekstrom.

Pete Ciofrone, Mitch Canham and Cedric Hunter have been assigned to te Padres’ minor league camp. Two of 2008’s Wizards, Luis Durango and Jackson Quezada, have been assigned to Lake Elsinore.

Kyle Blanks is finally going to get some time in the outfield given that there is a roadblock at first base and Blanks is making his case to get the big man’s offense into the lineup.

The White Sox’s, Jon Link (Wizard in 2006) has been optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Methinks we’ll see him in the big leagues before 2009 is up.

Former Wizards Likely to Debut in 2009 – Part II

This is the second in a three part series on former Fort Wayne Wizards that I think will debut in Major league Baseball during the 20009 season. In part one, I presented the “sure things” who I think will break camp with their parent clubs or get called up relatively early. Today, I present the “warning track” players who are knocking on the door. All it will take is some good play early in the season and an opportunity at the big league level:

Jon Link (White Sox)

The San Diego Padres drafted pitcher Jon Link in the 26th round of the 2005 draft. Link was traded to the White Sox for Rob Mackowiak in 2007. The 24 year-old spent last season at Double-A Birmingham, where he compiled a 3.02 ERA, struck out 66 batters and collected 35 saves. With the Wizards in 2006, Link appeared in 53 games with a 4.91 EAR while striking out 57 over 62.1 innings pitched to go with a 5-5 record. Link will undoubtedly be assigned to Triple-A to start the season, but I suspect he is being groomed as the closer of the future. While he’s a more sure bet for 2010, he’s knocking on the door and we may get to see him a bit this year.

For more on Link, see also:

Peter Ciofrone (Padres)

Peter Ciofrone started 2008 at AA and ended at Triple-A. During that stint in Portland, he impressed. He was named Pacific Coast League Batter of the Week for May 19-25. During that span, he batted .429 (12-for-28) with four homers, three doubles, 10 RBIs, 10 runs scored and a .964 slugging percentage in seven games.

With Fort Wayne in 2005, he hit .301 with 20 doubles, two triples, five home runs and 59 runs batted in over 104 games. He also drew 50 walks and compiled a .391 OBP.

As one BBIFW commenter suggested, Ciofrone should have been a September call-up last season. I’m not sure where he’ll start the year, though I suspect it will be Triple-A. He’ll get a shot this year as long as he stays healthy and continues to put on a show. Just don’t know when.

Says Geoff at Ducksnorts:

The 24-year-old Ciofrone has decent on-base skills and some pop (although probably not as much as he’s showing this year), and can play multiple positions. The latter skill may eventually get him to the big leagues. Ciofrone exhibits no appreciable platoon splits and has improved his numbers as the season has progressed, which is always a good sign. He’s not a future star, or even a future regular, but he could have a career.

For more on Ciofrone, see also:

Kyle Blanks (Padres)

For Blanks, it is probably not a matter of “if” but “when”. The dude can flat out hit and was one of my favorites to watch at the Castle while he was there. He will start the year at Triple-A Portland after spending all of 2008 in Double-A.

With Fort Wayne in 2006, Blanks appeared in 86 games. He hit .292 with 10 home runs and 52 runs batted in while drawing 36 bases on balls. His production really took off in 2007 and continued to develop in 2008.

If he didn’t have Adrian Gonzalez blocking him cheaply at first base in San Diego, I’d say they would bring him up mid-season. But barring an out-of-the-ordinary trade or injury, that won’t happen. Probably a September call-up.

For more on Blanks, see also:

Greg Burke (Padres)

When it became apparent that Trevor Hoffman was not returning to San Diego, I boldly predicted that Greg Burk would take on the closer’s role. I’m probably a year or two ahead of things, but I still think he’ll get there.

He’s been used mostly as a middle relief guy except for last season, when he saved 23 games for Double-A San Antonio. With the Wizards in 2006, Burke appeared in 24 games where he compiled a 3.57 ERA with 87 strike out sin 121 innings pitched. He had an ERA above 5.00 over two combined stints with Lake Elsinore. But something must have clicked when he got into the closers role, where he drastically lowered that to 2.24 on the year.

“I felt this was do-or-die coming into last season,” Burke said. “I needed to show someone something, I needed to shock people to make the Double-A team and open eyes.”

I see him coming up sometime during the 2009 campaign to soak up some innings for injured middle relief Friars.

For more on Burke, see also:

Cesar Ramos (Padres)

In seven games with Fort Wayne in 2005, Cesar Ramos put together a 3-2 record with a 4.19 ERA and 32 strike outs. He progressed in each area during stops stop of Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio over the next two years. Last year didn’t go so well. He posted a 9-11 record with a 5.15 ERA over 149.2 innings pitched at Triple-A Portland. To make the show, he’s going to have to come back big in 2009. He may get a spot start near the tail end of the season like Dirk Hayhurst did before getting the heave-ho out of the organization.

Brett Dowdy (Padres)

Brett Dowdy will be entering his seventh minor league season; having played in Fort Wayne in 2005. He’s hardly a prospect, but he’s progressed through the system, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A each of the last two season. He’s got a career .269 batting average with 23 home runs and 168 runs batted in over more than 1,700 at-bats. 2009 is a make or break year for Dowdy. He’s probably a dark horse of this bunch, but you never know.

In part three, I’ll present the “outside shot” and more “dark horse” candidates.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Link, Blanks, Peavy, Hunter

I’ve got a lot to catch up on. Here’s some Fort fragments on the Wizards that might interest you:

Baseball America thinks former Wizard Jon Link will emerge as a one of those guys who was drafted late and then go on to become servicable big leaguers. In other words, he was a steal. Sadly for the Padres, Link is now within the White Sox organization.

Link, 24, was excellent last season for Double-A Birmingham, finishing with a 3.02 ERA in 56 2/3 innings as the Barons’ closer. Link struck out 66 batters, averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Link throws three pitches for strikes: a 90-92 mph fastball with some sink, a slider and a changeup. Link goes to his above-average slider for strikeouts, but his changeup is more than a show-me pitch and is an effective third weapon. There was some talk of moving Link to the starting rotation because of his three-pitch mix, but the White Sox will leave him in the bullpen. He still has to learn to harness his control, as he walked 27 batters (4.3 per nine) last year, though he was better in 2007 in high Class A when he walked just 15 batters in 58 2/3 innings (2.3 per nine).

Speaking of Baseball America, Justin Cassel the brother of former Wizards pitcher, Jack Cassel, and New England Patriots Quarterback, Matt Cassel, didn’t make it into the prospect handbook, but he did make the 32nd team.

Keeper League GM disagrees with Baseball America’s selection of Kyle Blanks as the Padres top prospect. I think I  disagree with Keeper League GM, but I’ve been a fan of Blanks since he played in Fort Wayne so I am a little biased. Porter’s Prospects calls Blanks the sixth best MLB first base prospect of 2009. There’s a lot of talk that Blanks is blocked because of Adrian Gonzalez’s presence at first base, but Blanks will get an extended audition this spring while Gonzalez is plaing in the WBC. There’s also the possibility that Blanks could play outfield. I doubt it IMHO.

Former Wizard, Freddy Guzman will be in Mariner’s camp as a non roster invitee.

Speaking of Spring Taining, the Padres will have several positions up for grabs. Some former Wizards who are likely candidates for winning spots include; Matt Antonelli, Mike Ekstrom, Josh Geer, Wade LeBlanc, Drew Macias and Will Venable. Other former Wizards who will be in camp include; Kyle Blanks, Greg Burke, Matt Bush, Mitch Canham, Peter Ciofrone, Luis Durango, Ernesto Frieri, Chad Huffman, Mat Latos, Jose Lobaton, Jackson Quezada and Nick Schmidt.

Burke and Quezada are profiled with other Padres relievers over at Friar Forecast. Bryan Oland is also in that list.

SignOnSanDiego is projecting Cedric Hunter to been roaming Petco’s center field as a 22-year-old next season. Mabye, but the competition is fierce. They’re also counting on Nick Hundley to continue his progress this season and shore up a weak catching crop.

MadFriars recently gathered 2008 reflections from Wizards radio guy, Mike Maahs.

The Start Kyle Orton blog has a profile of two former Wizards, Luis Rivas and Bobby Scales, who are non-roster invtees of the Cubs.

The Fort Wayne Wizards came to Fort Wayne from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Looks like they’ll have baseball again in a couple years. According to ESPN, “Kevin Costner says he’s chosen the northeastern Illinois town of Zion as the location for a new team, which will be part of the Northern League in 2010.” Looks like it’s just a 20 minute drive. But heck, for all I know, they may have plenty of baseball in that area already.

Jake Peavy won the Clyde McCullough Award as the team’s top pitcher on Thursday at the Padres-UCP of San Diego County Awards Dinner.  First baseman Kyle Blanks won Minor League Player of the Year. Jeremy Hefner won Pitcher of the Year. BaseballinFortWayne.com was honered with . . . nothing. It wasn’t even mentioned.

Parker is Top Diamondback’s Prospect

Jarrod Parker has been named the top prospect in the Arizona Diamondback’s organization by Baseball America. It’s hardly a surprise. He’s been highly touted since being selected number nine overall in the 2007 Amateur Draft. During his first professional season last year, he faired very well in the Midwest League, including dominating his hometown Fort Wayne Wizards for several shutout innings in the last game in Memorial Stadium history.

BA also selected Parker for the “Best Fastball” and “Best Slider” categories as well as slotting as the number two starter in the projected 2012 rotation behind current ace, Brandon Webb.

While many predict he’s at least another year away from arriving in the Majors, BA speculates that might be a bit pessimistic:

It wouldn’t be shocking to see 2007 first-rounder Jarrod Parker . . . in the big leagues at some point this year.

And while we are on the topic of Baseball America prospect rankings, a couple former Wizards have shown up in with their current organizations:

In case you are wondering Baseball America will unveil their ratings for the Padres organization on February 2nd.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Chick, Burke, Link

Updating a previous post, former Wizards pitcher Travis Chick has signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has scored and opportunity with the club during Spring Training. Chick performed fairly well during his stint at Triple-A while in the Seattle organization last season, so this is one story we’ll be watching. DodgerTalk says:

…a Texas native selected by the Marlins in the 14th round of the 2002 draft, is 40-38 with a 4.26 ERA in 166 minor league games (121 starts). He spent the majority of the 2008 season with Seattle’s Double-A West Tennessee club, and ended the season with Triple-A Tacoma, where he went 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts. The 24-year-old appeared in three games with the Mariners in 2006 for his lone Major League experience.

The Rangers Report recently did their write-up on the Chicago Cubs top prospects. Somewhat surprisingly, they have included Kyler Burke, whom I thought had dropped off most radars. Anothe rstory I will be passively watching as the season unfolds. It’s probably a make or break year for Burke.

The Cubs’ bounty for Michael Barrett, Burke is a slugging corner outfield with a solid arm and huge power potential.  However, he has trouble against breaking balls and swings and misses way too often.  That results in his impressive power becoming negated.  However, he is a terrific athlete that has the ability to develop into a superstar, if only everything comes together. 

Former Wizards Pitcher, Jon Link put together an outstanding season in 2008, when he recorded a Souther League best 35 saves last summer while pitching with the Double-A Birmingham Barons. He was recently added to the Chicago White Sox 40-man roster and some suspect he’s being groomed to be the club’s closer in the near future. Another player on my 2009 watch list. He recently conducted a couple youth baseball camps out in Virginia.

Conducting two youth baseball clinics last Saturday at Frozen Ropes Training Center in Chantilly, Link lectured on everything from basic mechanics and pickoff moves to arm and body care and how to field the position. He closed the session with a 15-pitch bullpen session to his high school catcher, Billy Cushman.

 (See also: Wizards Where R They? Travis Chick).

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Freese, Blanks, Link, +more

Lots of items being written about Wizards alumni lately. I’ve been sitting on a few of the links, so they may be a bit older, but are still relevant and worth the read. Feast on these:

Anthony Contreras (Former Saltdogs Still Chasing Big-League Dreams) is one of a handful of former Lincoln Saltdogs who have gone from Indy leaguer to minor league prospect.

Matt Teague (Relief on the way with Teague) discusses his transition from starting pitcher to reliever, changing his mechanics and his unexpected adventures at Triple-A.

David Freese is the subject of a solid Prospect Watch at rotoprofessor. Cardinals’ general manager John Mozeliak has also stated that Freese may see time at several positions during Spring Training; which is why they aren’t pursuing a backup at first or third during the offseason.

Kyle Blanks’ future with San Diego may be as trade material due to being sandwiched between Adrian Gonzalez and Allan Dykstra according to Marc Hulet at FanGraphs. Speaking of Blanks, he is number three on Project Prospects top five prospect risers in the San Diego System. Kellen Kulbacki, Cedric Hunter, Chase Headley and Steve Garrison are the others. Observers will also note that local native, Jarrod Parker makes the cut ont he Arizona list.

Luis Cruz, according to Black and Gold, still remains a viable option for the Pirates’ infield; especially if Jack Wilson is traded.

Jon Link’s walk rate went up a bit when he went from High-A to Double-A ball. SoxMachine has a theory.

JJ Furmaniak got his MLB cup of coffee with the Pirates and A’s then played 2008 in Japan after refusing his outright from Oakland. He’s back in the homeland. The Phillies gave him a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Speaking of Japan, Dirk Hayhurst’s latest NonProspect Diary talks about the Japan route a minor leaguer might take.

Freddy Guzman was traded by the Rangers to the Tigers for Chris Shelton in 2007. The Dalla Observer rates that trade a C and thinks Guzman still has a chance to be a qualify fourth outfielder.

Cory Doyne was granted free agency from Baltimore.

Matt Bush has added a new pitch. Changeup.

Former Wizards pitching coach, Steve Webber will serve in that role with San Antonio in 2009. JoJo Tarantino, who has worked with the Wizards the last three seasons, will be the Missions’ Athletic Trainer next season. former Wizards skipper, Randy Ready, is back for another round at Triple-A Portland after flirting with the job in Seattle during the offseason. Another former Wizards pitching coach, Wally Whitehurst will serve the role for the Pittsburgh Pirate’s High-A Lynchburg squad.

Finally, several former Wizards pop up on top prospect lists all over the web. Some of them include; Baseball Intellect [1-5] and [6-15], Padres Rundown [top 25], MadFriars’ (subscription required) Denis Savage [top 60] and John Conniff’s [top 30], Ducksnorts’ [top 10],

More Former Wizards Get 40-Man Roster Protection

As the San Diego Padres were adding former Wizards to their 40-Man Roster for Rule 5 Draft protection, other MLB teams were also scurrying to protect their minor league talent. Some of them include former Wizards who are now playing for other organizations:

Jon Link (Chicago White Sox) – Link collected 35 saves at Double A this season. The Sox thinks he is primed to have a big-league closer career, which is why you have heard Bobby Jenks’ name bandied about in trade talks (albeit, minimal at this point).

Dale Thayer (Tampa Bay Rays) – Thayer was a Triple-A All Star this year. The 27-year-old releiver went 3-1 with nine saves and a 2.77 ERA. In 2007, he was 9-0 while collecting 21 saves. During six MiLB seasons, Thayer has compiled a 26-15 record, a 2.33 ERA and 132 saves.