Tag Archives: Wade LeBlanc

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.

Padres’ Moves Will Dictate Future of Former Wizards

If this headline doesn’t read as a big fat red “DUH!” I don’t know what does. The statement is true no matter the day or time. However, it’s worth stating right now because the Padres are in the midst of utter turmoil adn an uncertain future. With that being the case, it is obvious that the San Diego Padres will be making moves and those moves might change and alter the potential futures of some former Fort Wayne Wizards.

Wiht the Winter Meetings kicking into gear this week, here’s what we know so far:

  • Trevor Hoffman will not be the closer in 2009. This is probalby 99.9% certain. He has not signed with another team yet, so I guess there is a glimmer of a chance he’ll be back, but don’t bet on it. That means there will be an opening for a closer. I’ve speculated on this previously, and I probably didn’t give Heath Bell a fair look, but my money is still on former Wizard, Greg Burke.
  • The rest of the bullpen needs a little shoring up too. Reliable setup man, Mike Adams is likely out until the All-Star Break, so there are some spots up for grabs there too.
  • Kahlil Green will be the starting shortstop . . . for St. Louis (where he may be playing next to former Wizard, David Freese who went to the Cardinals as part of the failed Jim Edmonds experiment. Freese has a very good shot at playing with the Cards in 2009. Back in San Diego, they will need a new starting shortstop. Unless there is a trade, The heir apparent is Luiz Rodriguez, but don’t count out former Wizard, Sean Kazmar.
  • Former Wizards Pitcher, Jake Peavy still has a good chance of being traded (most likely to the Cubs). But, even if he remains with the club, the team still needs pitchers to fill the number three and four slots (Chris Young at number 2 and Cha Seung Baek as the number five guy). If he is traded, that leaves three openings. Maybe one or two of those slots will get filled from the ranks of the minors, but I expect trades and/or Rule 5 Draft picks to be used here. Former Wizard, Wade LeBlanc is likely to earn one of the spots up for grabs IMHO. Former Wizar, Josh Geer also would be likely, but there’s a chance he may be heading for Tommy John surgery, which will kill his 2009 season (if anyone has any updates on this, please comment below). Former Wizard Mike Ekstrom may also be a dark horse contender.
  • Former Wizard Jon Ellis are unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and could potentially be snagged by other clubs. The sidearmer is an interesting gamble for a club who is willing to take a chance and I suspect he’s as good as gone.
  • The catching corps is owned by former Wizards. Right now, it looks like the starting gig will go to Nick Hundley, with Luke Carlin serving as backup unless a veteran presence is added. Wonder why Colt Morton never gets much consideration. Jose Lobaton probably has a pretty solid chance and playing with the big club in 2009 too.
  • Ironically, the Padres seem to have an excess of outfielders. This time last year, they were converting former Wizard, Chase Headley from third base to outfield. Now, they have Headley, and fellow former Wizard Will Venable to slot into the outfield with Scott Hairston, Brian Giles and Jody Gerut. Couple that with an emerging former Wizard outfielders Drew Macias and Chad Huffman, and you have a couple odd men out (yes, that’s seven guys for three slots). It’s still likely that Giles will get traded (proably during the 2009 season). Moving Headley back to third and trading incumbant third baseman Kevin Kousmanoff is an option, but not one that the club seems to endorse.
  • Second basse and first base seem to be in good hands with Edgar Gonzales and Adrian Gonzales respectively. Former Wizard Matt Antonelli might serve as a backup or utility player at second. If San Diego doesn’t move Adrian and he stays healthy, first base remains blocked for uber-prospect Kyle Blanks, so you may see him traded. But I suspect Blanks will play a full season at triple-A in Portland and then the club with consider their options at first for 2010.

So there you have it. The Padres season outlook remains dim, but the bright side is that they don’t have a lot of bad contracts and they are in a highly winable division if the Dodgers don’t run away with it early. Methinks, barring any huge trades to fill holes in the field, suspect we’ll see a roster witha lot of former Wizards.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Headley, Carroll, Geer, Ekstrom, LeBlanc, Hawkins

Chase Headly Has Bright Future

First off, Duh! With that said, Cory Brock put together a really nice piece on the Padres’ rookie outfielder who played third base for the Wizards. Its really good at pointing out how Chase Headley has doen everything right within the organization and consistently strived to improve himself while taking his game to higher levels. Take his recent four-hit performance (in a game former Wizard Dirk Hayhurst spot started for another former Wizard in Jake Peavy and former Wizard Luke Carlin was the only bench player not used) and combine that with the fact that the Padres MASH unit is filled with outfielders, and one might rightfully speculate that we’ll see him with the big league squad out of Spring Training.

MadFriars Interview Sawyer Carroll

Sawyer Carroll appeared in a handful of games with Fort Wayne at the end of the season, capping what can be considered a successful pro debut. Denis Savage of MadFriars caught up with the prospect. (subscription required).

Ekstrom & Geer Come Through

Savage also put together a solid article that details the rise of the two former Wizards pitchers, who were teammates on the 2007 Champtionship San Antonio squzad. (Subscription Required).

LeBlanc Gets Win, Leg Up on 2009 Competition

SanDiego Spotlight details Wade LeBlanc’s first MLB win a week ago Monday:

The victory for Wade comes in his third major league start and gives a glimpse of what may come next season.  The Padres are actively auditioning young talent for next years roster and Wade LeBlanc would love to break camp with the big league club next year.

LaTroy Hawkins May Return to Houston

There’s speculation that the LaTroy Hawkins, who put together one of the most dominant pitching performances in Wizards’ history, may be resigned by the Houston Astros for 2009.

Hawkins has pitched so well the Astros would like to bring the right-hander back for another season if the price is right. Hawkins, 2-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA in 20 games, has struck out 22 and walked just four in 17.0 innings.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Cuddyer, Ready, Antonelli, LeBlanc, Coundrey, Hayhurst

There are many Wizards-related headlines that I need to catch up on. I’ve been passively collecting them as the final week of the season took place, so some may seem a bit old to you. Enjoy..

  • Michael Cuddyer still hopes to return to the Twins this season. He has had an injry plagued 2008 season.
  • Former Wizards Skipper, Randy Ready in enjoying being around familiar company with the Padres after September callups (himself included). Meanwhile, Wade LeBlanc and Matt Antonelli are hoping to make a splash during their opportunities this season.
  • Clay Coundrey is happy to be nearing a personal milestone of staying with a Major League squad (the Phillies) for a full season.
  • Dirk Hayhurst is hopefull that he’ll write the perfect ending (but not for a while) to the new era of his professional career.
  • The Casper Ghosts recently won the Baseball America’s logos contest for “Coolest Redesign” and the Trenton Thunder took “Best Redesign” honrs. Wonder where this set’s the bar for the Fort Wayne team’s chances next year? Do you think they can do it? Let’s put out thinking hats and see what we can come up with!
  • MadFriars has posted four segments of a Paul DePodterview. In part 1, he talks about prospects, Dominican players, trades and the draft. In part 2 DePodesta answers whether the Padres think Will Venable can be an everyday centerfielder in the big leagues, Matt Antonelli’s tough and if San Diego will ever move Kyle Blanks to the outfield. In part 3, DePodesta gives his assessment of Cedric Hunter, how Cesar Carrillo is progressing from his Tommy John surgery and sleepers in Fort Wayne. Finally, part 4 offers a posible glimpse into the Fort Wayne future; he let us know who may be the best player to come out of Eugene, the goods on Jeff Decker and breaks down some prospects from the Dominican League.
  • Speaking of Paul DePodesta, he blogs about his thoughts on Antonelli and LeBlanc’s callups and chances.
  • In what might have been Paul McAnulty’s last month in the Padres’ system, he earn’s one of the player of the month awards from MadFriars. Kyle Blanks, Eric Sogard, and Andy Parrino round out the other levels over Low-A ball. All of them are former Wizards. Methinks we’re going to see Blanks as a big leaguer sooner than later. Wade LeBlanc, Mike Ekstrom, Rolando Valdez and Jeremy McBryde take the pitchers of the month honors. Again, all of them are former Wizards. MadFriar’s also posted an interview with former Wizard, Manny Ayala.
  • SignOnSanDiego has two good articles about former Wizards. In the first, they suggest that Matt Antonelli could finally be the answer to “who is going to play second base” – let’s just hope they don’t trade him to Cleveland. In the second, the article discusses how a move to a relief role for starting pitcher Mike Ekstrom may have saved his career.

Wade LeBlanc’s MLB Debut

Last night, Wade LeBlanc made his Major League Debut. He’s the 12th former Wizard to do so, which breaks the record of 11 that was set in 2002. The debut makes him the 74th former Wizard to hit the big leauges.

And for the first two innings, he was perfect. Then, he gave up five runs on eight hits and two walks over the next two innings before being taken out. And, as you would expect, the Padres didn’t offer much offensive support, so LeBlanc took the loss.

Angel Berroa hit a leadoff double in the third inning and later scored to put the Dodgers on teh board. After the Padres made it 3-1 in the fourth inning, Blake DeWitt took a high fastball out of the park to tie the score at three. Then, Berroa did damage again by hitting a solo shot that put the Dodgers on top again.

“Wade couldn’t seem to get any rhythm with his pitches,” said manager Bud Black. “The command was off. He ran some deep counts. He couldn’t seem to find the feel for his change-up. The Dodgers put some good at-bats against him. He just couldn’t really get anything going to get any sort of momentum. One hundred pitches in four innings, to say the least, is a little steep” [SignonSanDiego.com].

Wade LeBlanc was drafted in the second round (36th overall) of the 2006 draft. He joined the Wizards that year and saw action in seven starts. He posted a 4-1 record with a 2.20 ERA. In 32.2 innings pitched, he struck out 27 and walked ten. This season with Triple-A Portland, LeBlanc has rebounded from early season struggles and now boasts an 11-9 record with a  5.32 ER, 139 strikeouts and 42 walks over 138.2 innings pitched. He was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the week for the span inclusive of July 28-Aug. 3. He was 2-0 and allowed just four hits and no walks over 13.0 scoreless innings. He tallied 17 strikeouts over the combined two starts during that week.

Padres to Slash Payroll? What it Means for Former Wizards.

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.  After that it’s Jake Peavy at $8MM, Khalil Greene at $6.5MM, Chris Young at $4.5MM, and Adrian Gonzalez at $3MM.  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].

Sean Kazmar with the WizardsSo 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.

Colt Morton with the WizardsBaxter 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).

Jackson QuezadaAll 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)?

Two More Wizards Going to San Diego; Antonelli, LeBlanc to Get Call-ups

The Fort Wayne Revolution in San Diego seems to be in full effect as two more former Wizards are likely to be on their way up to the big show, joining several others who have already made their debuts this year. It’s very clear that the remainder of the season will basically be early auditions for the 2009 squad.

The Padres are releasing second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and pitcher Brett Tomko to open roster spots for second baseman Matt Antonelli and pitcher Wade LeBlanc.

Both Antonelli and LeBlanc are being called up from Triple-A Portland where they will join the Padres in Dodger Stadium, where the Friars will begin a three-game series on Monday.

Matt Antonelli was a first round pick (17th overall) in the 2006 draft.  He saw a total of five games with the Wizards in 2006, hitting .125 in 16 at-bats. He hit .314 the following year at Lake Elsinore before being promoted to Double-A San Antonio, where he hit .294. On the 2008 campaign, he’s hitting just .215 with 7 home runs and 39 RBIs in 128 games. The North County Times recently did a great piece on Antonelli that discusses his season of struggles and hope for redemption. I encourage you to check it out.

Wade LeBlanc  was also a high round pick by the Padres in 2006. Drafted in the second round (36th overall), LeBlanc joined the Wizards that year and saw action in seven starts. He posted a 4-1 record with a 2.20 ERA. In 32.2 innings pitched, he struck out 27 and walked ten. This season with Triple-A Portland, LeBlanc has rebounded from early season struggles and now boasts an 11-9 record with a  5.32 ER, 139 strikeouts and 42 walks over 138.2 innings pitched. He was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the week for the span inclusive of July 28-Aug. 3. He was 2-0 and allowed just four hits and no walks over 13.0 scoreless innings. He tallied 17 strikeouts over the combined two starts during that week.

Good luck guys. We’ll be watching!

Related Posts:

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Zawadzki, Durango, Ready, LeBlanc, Venable

  • Geoff spotlights San Antonio at Ducksnorts. Lots of former Wizards here, including; Kyle Blanks, Chad Huffman, Sean Kazman and others.
  • John Conniff interviews current Wizard Lance Zawadzki for Mad Friars. Even though he was a late round pick, he still has a rather high ceiling. Subscription required.
  • Paul Depodesta talks about Luis Durango’s recent promotion to Lake Elsinore and also talks about former Wizards, Manny Ayala and Jon Ellis.
  • Michael Cuddyer still hopes to return from injuries this season, despite dealing with a freak injury on top of the rash of other injuries that have plagued him this season.
  • Former Wizards skipper and current Portland Beavers manager, Randy Ready, was named the Pacific Coast League’s “Best Manager Prospect” in Baseball America’s annual “Best Tools” survey that was featured in the publication’s Aug. 25-Sept. 7 issue. Former Wizard, Wade LeBlanc was said to have the “Best Control” among league pitchers and former Wizard, Will Venable, earned “Best Strike Zone Judgment” honors. Chase Headley was chosen as the “Best Batting Prospect” in the PCL this season – though he has been playing at the MLB level for quite a while now.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Hundley, Kulbacki, LeBlanc, Vandel, Rivas

  • 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.  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.

Fort Fragments (Wizards Edition): April 27, 2008

  • Former Wizard – the one who got away from the Padres – Joakim Soria finally showed signs of vulnerability. David Eckstein’s one-out single ended Soria’s streak of retiring 24 batters in a row. But he still has no ERA to accompany his six saves and 11 strikeouts.
  • Matt Latos made his first start of the season for the Wizards and pitched very well. Some see him moving up to Lake Elsinore before the season is out. While I hope Latos pitches well (and I believe he will), I hope those folks are wrong.
  • Wade LeBlanc picked up his first loss this year. He allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits and five walks over 3.1 innings. It was the worst outing of his career. It follows another bad start that saw him giving up six runs on eight hits. (hat tip to Denis Savage at MadFriars) Wonder what’s going on there. Speaking of LeBlanc, it appears that the Cubs had tried to get him in return for Matt Murton. As much as I would love to see Murton get a chance with a team willing to give him one, and as much as I would have loved to see LeBlanc with the Cubs, I don’t blame the Padres for turning that one down.
  • Angel Mercado homered in his first game off the disabled list. Mercado had been out the last nine games but the hit extended his on-base streak to eight games. He also homered on Opening Night.
  • It appears that Jake Peavy has pitched the idea of brining veteran outfielder, Kenny Loften, in to help shore up the Padres offense. But it seems that Padres’ GM, Kevin Towers would rather give some of the former Wizards now playing in Portland a shot.

    . . . some of the players Towers is most eager to promote would warrant demotion if judged solely on their Triple-A statistics. Chase Headley, the left fielder of tomorrow, is hitting a soft .236. Matt Antonelli, the heir to second base, has been hovering near the Mendoza line. Though Antonelli has drawn 12 walks in 16 games, his batting average is .212. Closest to a call-up, Towers said, is probably catcher Nick Hundley, who has hit four home runs in 11 games and whose arm would represent an improvement on Padres’ regular Josh Bard.

    “Hundley’s a guy I think our pitching staff felt fairly comfortable with in spring training,” Towers said. “He’s got a chance to be an offensive catcher and he’s somebody we feel comfortable enough to where we could put him back there (as much as 40 percent of the time) and not kill Bard.”

  • Michael Cuddyer has returned to the Twins’ lineup.