Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2013 MLB Draft Notes: Jonathon Crawford

Florida RHP Jonathon Crawford (onlygators.com_
I tuned into one of my plus sports channels to watch the Florida Gators take on the Miami Hurricanes in the first of three games in Gainesville.  My focus was on Florida RHP Jonathon Crawford who is expected to be one of the first pitchers taken in the 2013 MLB Draft.  Below are my notes on Crawford's play against the Canes on this Friday night.

First Inning:  Right off the bat, what stood out is Crawford's pitching delivery.  It isn't smooth by any means, but as John Sickels stated "its effective."  Crawford brings it back and then quickly snaps it off.  The first Miami batter led off with a double down the first base line.  He then walked the third batter in four pitches.  His best pitch of the inning came later as he threw a slider that the hitter rolled over which the Gators turned into a double-play to end the inning.

Second Inning:  Got the first hitter out in front of a slider for an easy play for the first out.  He then registered his first strikeout by getting the hitter to whiff on a sinking FB.  Just missed on a FB for ball four.  The next Miami batter then loaded the bases after getting a hit on a 1-2 FB right down the pipe.  With the bases juice, Crawford threw his slider multiple times trying to get the hitter to chase and then got him to ground out after throwing it in.  Not a perfect inning, but he got out of it.

Third Inning:  Showed nice athleticism and mobility in back-to-back plays.  First, a speedy lefty laid down a bunt which he quickly got to and make a solid throw to get the out.  The next Cane hit a chopper back to the middle which he got to get the last out.  Very quick work; only 9 pitches.

Fourth Inning:  Crawford threw a FB inside which a hitter smoked into LF.  Crawford then allowed a monster HR after throwing pretty much the same pitch (a slider right over the plate) in consecutive pitches.  His slider was really working for him throughout the game, but he threw it one too many times in this situation.  He followed that up with a comebacker up the middle and then a walk.  Not a good inning for Crawford and the Canes lead 2-0.

Fifth Inning:  The first hitter got on base and then the second hitter took another FB inside to LF.  The next batter then laid down a bunt and Crawford made another impressive defensive play, throwing out the runner at 3B.  He got the next hitter on three pitches after  making him chase a really nice slider down and away; one of his best of the night.  He managed to pitch out of the quick jam.

Sixth Inning:  In a full count, Crawford threw an electric fastball right by the Miami hitter.  A baserunning error causes the 3rd out.  And with that, Crawford's night was done.  His stats from this performance: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB.

Overall Thoughts:  Crawford is expected to be a first-round pick and maybe even a top 10 selection.  Before the game, the biggest thing I read about was Crawford's mid-90s FB.  I wasn't in Gainesville and the broadcast didn't show the speeds, but you could just tell how much velocity was on Crawford's FB which was freezing hitters early in ABs, getting him ahead in a lot of counts.  I was also pretty impressed how hard and sharp his slider was.  Also, Crawford showed great athleticism by quickly getting off of the mound and making a couple of nice defensive plays.  Crawford struggled some at times with control and I didn't see much of a third pitch, but if he can improve on those factors, he will possess a really, really good fastball and a plus-slider to become a very solid pitcher in the major leagues.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

White Sox Prospects: Who's Hot, Who's Not

Jared Mitchell (dashboard.mlblogs.com)
With the White Sox already with several games under their belt, I decided to take a look at what prospects are doing well and who are not in the first couple of games.  Remember, it has only been nine games so far, so take this with a grain of salt.

Who's Hot:

Jared Mitchell:  I haven't been as high on Mitchell as some others in the past, but he is off to a great start in Arizona.  So far in 6 games, Mitchell's stats are 5-12, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, and 3 SO.  Mitchell has proven me wrong so far this spring.

Marcus Semien:  Semien's stats from the first couple of games: 4-8, HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, and 1 SO.

Nestor Molina and Simon Castro:  The two have combined to pitch 14 scoreless innings while only giving up 5 hits and a single walk.  This is including today's game where Castro pitched a pair of innings while striking out 5.

Who's Not:

Trayce Thompson:  Maybe the second-best Sox prospect is hitless so far in 8 ABs.

Keenyn Walker:  The speedy Walker is 4 for 15, which is average.  The more troubling stat is his 7 SOs; which is just under a 50% k-rate.

Erik Johnson:  The top White Sox pitching prospect according to most hasn't been so hot in limited time.  In 4.1 IP, Johnson has given up 6 ER on 9 H.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 MLB Draft Notes: Dillon Overton

OU lefty Dillon Overton (Examiner.com)
Position:  LHP
Height/Weight:  6'2/180
School:  Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Dillon Overton got the start Friday against Pepperdine.  It was a cold, windy day in Norman and the game was expected to be a pitcher's duel with Overton being a possible first round selection.  However, it didn't turn out to be that way.  Below are notes I took from Overton's performance against Pepperdine.

First Inning:  The first thing I noticed was how simple Overton's pitching motion is.  He started the game off with a K with a CH low and in to a righty.  His arm motion for his changeup was solid; I couldn't detect much of a difference.

Second Inning:  Recorded another K after the hitter got caught looking.  Overton was really struggling with his FB command missing high most of the time.  It didn't seem like he was able to get a quick inning throughout the entire game until his later two innings.  Overton was laboring to get out of innings, but he still hadn't allowed a run.  Ended the inning with two strikeouts on low and away off-speed pitches.

Third Inning:  Continued struggling with FB command.  Another K on CH low and away.

Fourth Inning:  This is where things got ugly for Overton.  To give him a bit of a break, the Oklahoma offense went off the half-inning before scoring 7 runs.  It was a cold day and I'm sure the really long break had an effect on Overton.  He left a couple up to begin the inning which resulted in a run.  He allowed a 2-run double off his CH.  He got another K with his CH after setting the batter up with two straight FBs.  However, a high FB got hammered for a HR making the game 8-6 after heading into the inning with an 8-0 lead.  He ended this terrible inning with a big looping breaking ball for another K.

Fifth and Sixth Innings:  These two innings were probably Overton's best.  He had his first 1-2-3 inning in the 5th and then another quick inning in the 6th.

Overton finished the day with a line of 6 IP, 6 ER, 10 K, and 4 BB.

Overall Thoughts:  John Sickels sees Overton battling this season for a late first-round selection.  I'm an amateur scout, but I didn't definitely didn't see that today.  I saw OU fans stating that it was his worst performance of the year and as mentioned above, it was a cold day and he had a very, very long wait between the 3rd and 4th.  But, his fastball, which is around 88-89 MPH, was not effective at all and was struggling to command it.  His best pitch of the day was definitely his changeup.  In the first three innings, he was pounding the bottom of the zone with it when the fastball wasn't working.  He didn't have the same command with it in the 4th as he was leaving it up, but he bounced back in the 5th and 6th with keeping it down where it is at its best.

I caught Overton on a bad day, but even if he's on, I can't see his stuff being first-round worthy.  However, I'll bet he'll be an early round selection and he has the potential to be a crafty left-hander in the bigs especially with his changeup that struck out so many against Pepperdine.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Daily White Sox Farm Report - 2/27

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Nestor Molina throws during a spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Surprise, Ariz. Photo: Charlie Riedel
Nestor Molina
I have't been very active lately, so sorry for that.  Below are a couple of White Sox tidbits over the past few days.

- So far, the White Sox are 2-0 3-0 and are winning late right now against beat the Dodgers today.

- Below are the batting stats for Sox prospects:

C Kevan Smith - 1 for 2
SS Marcus Semien - 2 for 3, RBI
C Byran Anderson - 2 for 4
C Hector Gimenez - 2 for 4, RBI, BB
C Josh Phegley - 3 for 6, HR, 2 RBI, 2B
OF Jared Mitchell - 3 for 7, 2 RBI, 3B
1B Andy Wilkins - 3 for 8, 3 RBI, BB
3B Conor Gillaspie - 2 for 6, 4 RBI, 3B, BB
2B Carlos Sanchez - 1 for 5
SS Angel Sanchez - 1 for 6, 1 RBI
SS Tyler Saladino - 1 for 2, BB
OF Keenyn Walker - 1 for 6, BB
OF Blake Tekotte - 0 for 4, BB
OF Trayce Thomspn - 0 for 3, 2 BB

- I can't find the pitching stats, but Simon Castro started and threw 3 scoreless innings today against the Dodgers.

- SSS had a fantastic breakdown of Erik Johnson and Scott Snodgress the other day.  Would definitely check it out.

- Courtney Hawkins wasn't listed in the the top 101 prospects by Baseball Prospectus.  However, they did have this little write up on why:
He’s a Texan with a ton of natural athleticism and power potential, but outside of my amateur sources, nobody wanted to turn up their microphones and be heard. Like the aforementioned 100 prospects that had a case to be on the back half of this list, Hawkins could just as easily be no. 60 as he could no. 101. If you believe in the bat, even from a corner spot, he belongs on the list. But if you have doubts about the overall promise of the stick and don’t like the direction the body is heading, even with the back-flipping athleticism that is currently present, the case for exclusion is just as strong and compelling. When I’m in the mood for ceiling, Hawkins belongs on the 101.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

White Sox Acquire 3B Conor Gillaspie For RHP Jeff Soptic

No batting gloves? Gamer. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

The White Sox added some more infield depth today with the addition of Giants 3B Conor Gillaspie for Sox prospect Jeff Soptic.

First, here's what Rick Hahn had to say about the addition.
"(Gillaspie) conceivably fits in nicely on the roster, which we’ll obviously decide more about toward the end of next month," general manager Rick Hahn said. "But we see him having a solid hit tool, above-average awareness of the strike zone, solid defensively. He gives us a little versatility in his ability to play third base as well as first. He gives Robin (Ventura) some options potentially."
The 25-year old has spent the last two years playing in 130+ games for AAA Fresno in the Pacific Coast League.  2012 didn't prove to be as good of a year as 2011 for Gillaspie, but he still batted .281/.345/.441/.786 along with 14 HRs (an improvement from 11 in 2011).

Gillaspie's value to the Sox is the fact that he is a left-handed hitter and also gives more depth at third.  With this trade, Angel Sanchez will be used for the middle infield while Gillaspie will add depth to the corners.  Those two along with DeWayne Wise and Hector Gimenez will likely be the bench players on Opening Day.

With the addition of Gillaspie, Brent Morel will almost certainly start the season in the minors.  Also, because of the addition, newly acquired Lars Anderson has been DFA'd.

Now a little more on the loss of Jeff Soptic.  Soptic was drafted in the third round in 2011 out of community college in Kansas.  He possesses a big time fastball that could reportedly touch 100, but he struggled last year in Kannapolis with a 5.40 ERA.  Still, atleast the Giants got something in return for Gillaspie who was certainly going to be lost on waivers in a couple of weeks.  Soptic's big arm gives the Giants something to work with.

Overall, I like this trade for both teams.  The White Sox got what they needed; a lefty and more infield depth.  It's not flashy, but hopefully it will be effective.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Courtney Hawkins: The National View

Today the biggest name in baseball prospects, Baseball America, released their annual top 100 list.  The Sox only had one on the list as the Pale Hose's top prospect, OF Courtney, Hawkins came in at 55.  I knew that most (Keith Law didn't, I believe) experts and national writers see Hawkins as a top 100 prospect overall, so I was interested to see exactly where they have him ranked.  Below are various prospect lists that list Hawkins nationally.
If you know or can find any other lists which includes Hawkins, leave a comment and I'll add it.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 White Sox Spring Training Preview: Middle Infield

Top middle infield prospect Carlos Sanchez (Dashboard.mlblogs.com)
Continuing the spring training previews with the middle infield.  Shortstop and second base are set for Opening Day, but there will be some interesting story lines this spring with the two positions.  Below are links to the other spring training previews.
40-man roster:

Gordon Beckham (2B) - Look, Gordon Beckham won't have any competition in spring training and his job is secure for the beginning of the season.  But, there will be some pressure on Beckham to perform this year and if not, he'll feel Angel Sanchez and Carlos Sanchez on his heels for the spot.

Alexei Rameriz (SS) - Hopefully this spring can set the stage for a solid year for Alexei.  Alexei is a good player, but has room to improve, especially with his bat.

Angel Sanchez (3B/SS/2B) - The White Sox used the Rule 5 draft for the first time in several years to draft Angel Sanchez.  Sanchez will likely be the White Sox utility infielder this year.  Sanchez has had a cup of tea with the Royals, Red Sox, and Astros.  Last year with in the 'Stros organization, he batted .320/.390/.407 with 5 HRs in AAA last year.  Before that in 2011, Sanchez spent 110 games with the Astros.

Non-roster invites:

Carlos Sanchez (2B, SS, 3B) - There was some talk before the Jeff Keppinger signing that Sanchez would compete for the starting position at third in Arizona.  Now Keppinger is signed and Sanchez will start the year in the minors.  However, as a top prospect in the Sox organization, Sanchez can make a big impersonation in his first spring training.  If Beckham is injured or doesn't perform well this season, Sanchez will be in the mix for the spot.

Tyler Saladino (SS) - This will be a very important spring for Saladino who has to prove himself again. Saladino started his White Sox career with two great years, but struggled last year with a promotion to Birmingham.  Because of it, Saladino has fallen to fourth in my middle infield prospect rankings. Like I've said, it will be an important camp for Saladino

Marcus Semien (SS) - Semien batted 273/.362/.471, with 14  HRs and 11 SB last year.  Semien can improve his status as a top infield prospect with the Sox, but besides that, not much is expected of Semien in his first spring.

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