- Five Questions for … Nick Hundley (SignonSanDiego)
- Prospect’s speed has Pads intrigued – Luis Durango (SignOnSanDiego)
- Blanks impresses in the outfield (SignOnSanDiego)
- Wedge determined to improve Tribe (MLB.com)
- Would Indians Fire Wedge? (Eli’s MLB Rumors)
- Indians GM Mark Shapiro Needs to Fire Eric Wedge (Midwest Sports Fans)
- Padres recall outfielder Macias (MLB.com)
- Prospect Parker makes Double-A debut (MLB.com)
- Fantasy Baseball Stockwatch: Top Prospects on the Farm – Jarrod Parker – (Keeper League GM)
- Dirk Hayhurst’s Favorite Parks (BaseballAmerica)
Hundley is learning that soft hands are the best way for him to catch on (SignOnSanDiego):
When (Nick) Hundley graduated from the Triple-A Portland Beavers to the Padres last summer, his reputation was for quality tools rather than refinement. He hit 50 home runs in 316 minor-league games and showed a throwing arm that Padres manager Bud Black characterizes as “major league quality for sure, maybe a little bit above.”
Padres CEO Sandy Alderson described (Chase) Headley as the “quintessential” prospect of the current administration, a poster boy for being “patiently aggressive” and improving himself through attention to detail and strength training. His average of one strikeout per 3.8 at-bats in Double-A was of some concern, but considered the price of doing good business, too, because Headley often worked deep into the pitch count. He also did so as a rookie, averaging 4.2 pitches per appearance.
Because Headley’s best position is third base, it’s less likely that he and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff will remain teammates for many years ahead.
If Headley stays in left field, he ultimately might block Kellen Kulbacki, one of the Padres’ better prospects and ticketed for Double-A this season. Several scouts say left field also is the best position for Will Venable, an older Padres prospect who, for now, is targeted for center field in Triple-A and has a subpar throwing arm for right field.
…the Red Sox appear most likely to open the season with Varitek and Josh Bard as the catching tandem, though one club official recently went out of his way to suggest that George Kottaras looked sharp in the early days of camp. Kottaras is out of options and could be a threat to beat out Bard, though the more likely scenario is that the Red Sox are trying to increase Kottaras’ trade value so that they do not simply lose him on waivers.
Koskie will play for Canada in WBC (TwinsNow)
According to a source close to the situation, (Corey) Koskie, who was not on Canada’s provisional World Baseball Classic roster, will play for Team Canada in the 2009 WBC.
Playing for Canada in the WBC has been Koskie’s primary goal in trying to return to baseball. The former Twins third baseman hasn’t played since he suffered a concussion and whiplash while playing for the Brewers on July 5, 2006.
Cruz not in Classic for Mexico (MLB.com)
Despite being one of 45 players listed on Mexico’s provisional World Baseball Classic roster, Luis Cruz has declined an invitation to play with the team in next month’s tournament.
Cruz, who played with Mexico in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic, is fighting for one of the Pirates’ final two bench spots this spring. For Cruz, that was reason enough to pass on the opportunity to once again represent his home country.
“I think I have a chance to get a spot here,” said Cruz, who made his Major League debut as a September callup with the Pirates last season. “I’m fighting for a spot here. I want to practice and get ready for the season and try to make the team.”
Barfield Adjusting to Utility Role (MLB.com)
A second baseman by trade, (Josh) Barfield has been asked to add third base and all three outfield spots to his repertoire. The carrot dangled in front of him is a utility job with the big league club.
“I’ve got to be efficient,” Barfield said. “I can’t neglect one position or the other.”
The Indians, and manager Eric Wedge in particular, have been happy with what they’ve seen from Barfield during the team’s early workouts. Wedge said Barfield moved around well at third base and handled the outfield well.
Baltimore Sun blogger/Journalist Peter Schmuck is reporting that the Baltimore Orioles will bring former Wizards catcher, Chad Moeller to Spring Training camp:
…we’re hearing that one of the catchers the Orioles will bring to camp this spring is 33-year-old journeyman Chad Moeller, who appeared in 41 games for the Yankees last season. According to a club source, he has agreed to terms on a minor league contract.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said at the winter meetings that he’s looking for a couple of veteran catchers to add to the list of catching prospects that will be in major league camp.
Moeller was a Wizard during the team’s days as a Minnesota Twins affiliate. Personally, I thought Moeller would have been a good fit as the veteran backstop the Padres are rumored to be seeking as a mentor to the up and coming former Wizards Nick Hundley and Luke Carlin.
Speaking of Hundley, MadFriars recently posted an interview with the catcher (subscription required).
Related BBIFW Chad Moeller posts:
San Diego Padres beat writer, Corey Brock recently posted some mailbag questions and answers. His first discusses one of my all time favorite Wizards, Kyle Blanks, and his future for next season and as a potential trading chip down the line given that Gonzalez has the market on first base in SD:
Blanks had a big season with Double-A San Antonio, hitting .325 with 20 home runs and 107 RBIs to go with a .404 on-base percentage that certainly has many in the organization excited about the 22-year-old. This season came on the heels of a .301-24-100 season with Class A Lake Elsinore in 2007.
I would expect Blanks to begin the season with Triple-A Portland, where he will be tested in a veteran league much like Triple-A newcomers Matt Antonelli, Chase Headley and Nick Hundley were to start the 2008 season. Blanks could also be an attractive trade chip given that Gonzalez is 26 and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Brock suggests that Mat Latos could see a return to Fort Wayne to begin next season (which I think is unlikely given he’s a California Florida kid and April in Fort Wayne is spine-tingling cold).
Among other former Wizards tidbits, he points out that the Padres are pretty happy with Nick Hundley as catcher but may still try to add a veteran presence (such as Brad Ausmus), and Jake Peavy being traded is still a possible scenario if the offer is right.
Padres catcher, Josh Bard will likely miss the remainder of the 2008 season. The Padres have reportedly decided that they will not offer Bard arbitration during the offseason and will likely non-tender him, effectively ending his tenure in San Diego. .
The means good news for former Wizards Nick Hundley and Luke Carlin. Hundley will probably go into Spring Training as the candidate most likely to win the starting catching gig unless there is a trade or free agent signing – but either is not real likely. Carlin is likely slotted to be the backup catcher.
I gotta wonder if Colt Morton is in the mix in any fashion. Doesn’t seem real likely given that he barely got a chance earlier in the season.
Nick Hundley Gets Ejected
On Tuesday, former Wizards catcher, Nick Hundley received his first MLB ejection after arguing his strikeout with homeplate umpire, Marty Fosterin, the eighth inning. He was replaced by fellow rookie and fellow Wizards alumnus, Luke Carlin.
Michael Cuddyer Still Trying to Return
Minnesotat Twins’ outfielder and former Wizard, Michael Cuddyer took two batting practice sessions on Tuesday and he had his broken left foot re-evaluated. He was given the okay to start running, but he’s still making very slow progress and the chances of a 2008 return are starting to slim.
“We’re just going to let him get well first,” (Ttwins manager, Ron) Gardenhire said. “Maybe when he gets to the point where he can run a little bit, and maybe put a swing on it, then we’ll see what he can do.”
Drew Macias Hits Homer for First MLB Hit
Usually, when a player collects his first Major League hit, you see a player toss the ball to the team’s dugout personnel so it can be saved. But former Wizard, Drew Macias got his first Major League start the other night. He went 3-5 and homered off a first-pitch fastball from Giants RHP Matt Cain during his first at-bat to collect his first MLB hit and home run.
Gary Jones Discusses Cumberland, Zawadski, Kazmar, Blanks & more
MadFriars caught up with Gary Jones, where he talked candidly about the progress of many former Wizards who are still in the Padres system. If you want to know more about Drew Cumberland, Lance Zawadski, Sean Kazmar, Matt Antonelli, Kyle Blanks and Raynar Contreras, this is the read for you (subscription required).
Will Venable Making Most of His Playing Time
Padres center fielder, Jody Gerut has missed a lot of games due to a sprained left middle finger. Will Venable, who is a recent callup, has thrived while getting extra playing time in Gerut’s absence; including a sixth multihit game on Thursday. He’s going to be on the 2009 Opening Day roster IMHO
With the news that the Padres will release second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and pitcher Brett Tomko to make room for Wade LeBlanc and Matt Antonelli, anyone can see that the Padres are already making plans for next year. This is the latest in a series of moves that have involved bringing minor league talent to the Padres, and many of them have included former Wizards.
I gotta think there will be many more moves in the remaining days of the 2008 season that could spell opportunities for other former Wizards, which should also make for an interesting Spring Training as the prevailing speculation is that the Padres will continue to slash payroll.
As part of a pitch to get Brian Giles to accept a trade to the Red Sox this past week, a Padres executive painted a stark fiscal picture for 2009, saying club owner John Moores might shrink the payroll to $40 million. [SignonSanDiego -August 9, 2008]
GM Kevin Towers denies this claim, but then again, he also hasn’t seen the budget for 2009 yet. Yet, the Padres already field one of the lowest salaried teams in Major League Baseball.
The Padres don’t have any large contracts on the books for ’09; Giles would be their most expensive player at $9MM unless they choose his $3MM buyout.Â After that it’s Jake Peavy at $8MM, Khalil Greene at $6.5MM, Chris Young at $4.5MM, and Adrian Gonzalez at $3MM.Â By my count they have six arbitration-eligible players, including Josh Bard, Heath Bell, Scott Hairston, and Jody Gerut [MLBTradeRumors.com].
There is also speculation that John Moores’ divorce is a factor that may adversely impact the team.
California is a community property state, which means Becky Moores — the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs.-John — is in play and there already are indications that player payroll will be cut significantly in 2009 (it’s just over $70 million this year). That’s why the Padres already have worked hard to trade Giles and pitcher Greg Maddux this season, positioning themselves for an early start on the payroll-shedding process [CBSSports.com].
So what does this mean for former Wizards who are trying to crack a big league roster? Certainly, the Padres are trying to add by subtracting. There’s the possibility that the Padres may try to move Khalil Greene and his $6.5MM salary, shich might provide a spot for Sean Kazmar, who made his debut just a couple weeks ago. But the rookie is now learning how to play outfield (a la Chase Headley) during this season’s Arizona Fall League. The move could merely be an attempt to get him more at-bats, or it could mean there is nowhere to play Kazmar in the infield.
Kazmar will join the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL with pitchers Greg Burke, Cesar Carillo, Mike Ekstrom, Wilton Lopez, first baseman Kyle Blanks and outfielders Mike Baxter and Chad Huffman. All of them except for Carillo are former Wizards. If Blanks keeps playing the way he has lately, San Diego may have to move him or Adrian Gonzalez or find a place elsewhere on the diamond for one of the two.
Like Kazmar, Brian Joynt, who played third this season with the Wizards before his promotion to Lake Elsinore will see time in the outfield.
Baxter will also get time at an unfamiliar position. The outfielder hit .270 with seven home runs and 47 RBIs at Double-A San Antonio and will get some looks at catcher. This season has seen three different former Wizards serve the backstop role. Luke Carlin and Nick Hundley have seen the most time between the three, which might suggest Colt Morton could be moved to another team during the offseason. the starting catcher, Josh Bard may not be around for 2009 either if the Friars think Carlin and Hundley can do the job.
Longtime closer, Trevor Hoffman has had some troubles while attempting to nail down games this year. There is divided opinion about whether it is time for a change or not. The Portland pitcher who produced the most saves this year, Jared Wells, is now in the Seattle organization (traded earlier this season). That may bring about an opportunity for Greg Burke, who will see action in the AFL and has collected 23 saves at Double-A San Antonio. Lake Elsinore doesn’t have anyone who is ready to fill that void. And while Jackson Quezada collected 27 saves on minimal opportunities in Fort Wayne, that is probably too big of a jump from Low-A to the MLB (but then again, it worked out well for the Royals and Joakim Soria).
All this should make for an interesting winter and 2009 Spring Training. There should be some names that are familiar to Fort Wayne fans on the San Diego Roster come opening day. The best part is that we have the whole month of September to see some of these great former Wizards make the most of their opportunities. Chase Headley, Will Venable, Wade LeBlanc, Sean Kazmar, Josh Geer, Dirk Hayhurst, Matt Antonelli, Nick Hundley have joined Jake Peavy on the parent club roster and maybe some others will soon follow.
When you factor in the former Wizards who are with other organizations, there have been nine former Wizards to debut at the MLB level. This ranks second only to 2002, which saw 11 prospects (including Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez) hit the big leagues. With about a month to go, I am sure we’ll see at least 3-4 more.
I’m predicting we’ll see Dale Thayer (P-Rays), Brett Dowdy (SS-Padres), David Freese (3B-Cardinals) this season.
It wouldn’t be too surprising to also see Jon Link who had 35 saves with the White Sox’s Double-A Birmingham Barons and was named the Southern League’s Top Reliever of 2009. He was one of 15 players, and the only reliever, named to the league’s post-season All-Star team and was the lone Baron selected. He was one save shy of the league saves record. But given the Sox’s playoff race, he’s probably a 2009 debut.
Anyone else have thoughts on the Padres prospective 2009 squad and/or which prospects we’ll see make their MLB debuts this season (whether they are in the Padres’ system any longer or not)?
- MaFriars’ John Conniff has post two more Wizards interviews. This time around, it’s Yefri Carvajal and pitching coach, Tom Bradley (subscription required for both).
- Packet Online(New Jersey) has posted a great article about former Wizards outfielder, Will Venable. I’ve said it before and I’m sticking to it: He’s gonna come up soon and he’s gonna be a keeper.
At the plate, Venable has been the model of consistency, a trait that makes his progress hard to prevent. He is at or near the top of most of the Beaversâ€™ hitting categories. Through Saturdayâ€™s 5-1 win over Tucson in which he was 1-for-5, Venable was second on the team in at bats and led the team with 120 hits. His 14 home runs, 24 doubles and 66 runs scored all are second best on the Beavers as are his 57 runs batted in. Venable also has 42 walks, third best on the team.
- The 2008 season has seen the Padresuse three different former Wizards catchers; Luke Carlin, Colt Morton and Nick Hundley. Temecula Valley News discusses Hundley’s ambition to stay in the majors during his current stint.
- Nick Hundley Impresses with Arm: Widely considered the Padres’ top catching prospect, Nick Hundley threw out would-be base stealers (Ivan Ochoa and Fred Lewis) to kill a pair of potential San Francisco rallies on August 1.
- Slugger Kulbacki Still Tearing it Up: Kellen Kulbacki is hitting .347 for the Lake Elsinore Storm. In the 61 games, he has 15 doubles and 51 RBI. Kulbacki batted .329 in June with nine home runs in 82 at-bats. In July, he hit .405 in 116 at-bats with eight home runs and nine doubles. This month, the 22-year-old is 4-for-8 with two home runs.As a result, he has been names the California League player of the week.
- LeBlanc Ties Career High With 11 Ks: 23-year-old Wade LeBlanc tied a career high with 11 strikeouts over eight shutout innings to lead the Portland Beavers to a 9-1 win over the Albuquerque Isotopes. Paul McAnulty hit a grand slam in that one too. LeBlanc (10-7) won his third straight start and it helped him earn Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week.
- Geoff Vandel has not allowed a run over his last 11 innings, giving up five hits. He has allowed one earned run or less in four of his last five outings.Â It helped propel him to Northwest League pitcher of the week honors.
- Rivas drives in 3 to help Pirates beat Rockies: Starting in place of injured second baseman Freddy Sanchez, Luis Rivas led the Pirates with an RBI single in the third and two-run triple in the fifth to down the Colorado Rockies on July 28th.
- Padres Prospect Interview: Drew Cumberland (subscription required) – MadFirar’s Jon Conniff sits down with the Wizards infielder to discuss his DL stint, playing in the Midwest League, playing the game the right way and what it’s like to have a brother (Shaun Cumberland) who also plays professionally (in the Reds’ farm system).
- Baseball proves therapeutic for beleaguered Storm catcher – In a season that has seen the Padres use five different catchers (three of them are former Wizards), the one drawing the most attention is one at Lake Elsinore. Mitch Canham, who i n 75 games for the Storm this season, is hitting .291 with five homers, 52 RBIs, 19 doubles and a .404 on-base percentage. Plus, he’s a perfect 9-for-9 in steal attempts. but success has not been one of luck for the former Wizard who has worked hard to overcome many struggles of various types in recent years.
- Q & A With Nick Hundley – SignOnSanDiego sits down with Nick Hundley, who let’s us know that he is not related to Nick or Todd, how much he loves being a catcher, honing his skills at Portland in the beginning of the season and more.
- Top 5 with Chase Headley – The Padres outfielder/third baseman runs down the top five things he’s learned about living in San Diego.
- Soria fitting right in with All-Star idols – Kansas city Royals closer, Joakim Soria‘s short list of influences as Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez. And now, he shared midseason honors with them at the All-Star Game. Great article that talks about the “business” Soria and the “funny guy” Soria in light of a season that has seen him prove that last season was just the beginning to a great career for the Rule-5 pick.
- Blanks hitting his stride in Double-A (subscription required) – The former Wizards first baseman and DH, Kyle Blanks is enjoying a solid season at Double-A San Antonio (despite rumors that he may be on the trade market). Great plate discipline and the tremendous bat speed has gotten the 21-year-old slugger promoted after every year of professional baseball since being taken in the 42nd-round of the 2005 amateur draft.
- Patient eye paying off for Venable –Will Venable is showing signs of becoming the type of hitter the Padres want him to be: a “patiently aggressive” hitter who gets a good pitch to hit and unloads on it, but also is willing to fall behind in the count rather than chase iffy pitches. The Triple-A center fielder has batted better than .300 in every month this season. Of greater significance to the Padres, he has started hitting home runs and drawing walks since April, when he had one walk and no homers. My money says we see him with the Padres before the end of the season.