Down on the Farm - 12/17

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Anaheim Angels: Winter Leagues continue and the Halos group continues to impress. Right-hander Bobby Jenks ended a solid run in the Puerto Rican league with a tough outing this past week. Jenks still boasts a solid ERA and nice all-around numbers for the San Juan Senadores. Jenks is expected to start the 2004 season in Triple-A. Derrick Turnbow was sent home after struggling his way through the winter, and the club blames a lot of his troubles on fatigue, both mental and physical. Turnbow has a chance to make the team in Spring Training. GM Bill Stoneman continues to go the route of free agency to round out his club rather than trade away prospects. The Angels selected two players in the Triple-A phase of the rule 5 draft. Left-hander William Collazo was selected from the Atlanta Braves and infielder Alejandro Palaez was selected from the San Diego Padres. Sergio Contreras was the only Anaheim player taken in the draft, an outfielder.

Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore selected 3B Jose Bautista from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft on Monday. Bautista was drafted in the 20th round of the 2000 draft, but injuries have set back this former top prospect. Bautista spent the 2003 season with singe-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League, and hit just .242 with four homeruns in 165 at bats. Bautista has good power and he's willing to take a walk, but one has to wonder why Baltimore would gamble on a player that's never seen time above single A.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox did very well for themselves in Monday's Rule V Draft, acquiring two potentially useful arms from both New York teams. The Sox selected LHP Lenny Dinardo from the Mets with the 15th pick before picking up RHP Randall "Colter" Bean four picks later. Bean, used primarily as a reliever, is a monster at 6'6" and 250 lbs. In 2003, Bean went 4-2 with four saves and a 2.87 ERA for the Yankees AAA Columbus Clippers. Bean has a 2.78 ERA in over 160 career minor league appearances. After going 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA, 27 strikeouts, and just 3 walks in 18 innings in the Arizona Fall League this year, Dinardo went 4-11 with a 2.52 ERA for the Mets' High-A team this past year. Both pitchers could make the Red Sox as part of a revamped bullpen. In the Triple-A phase, the Sox claimed lefty Mark Carter from the Cubs' organization. The Sox lost Double-A pitchers Wesley Anderson to the Tigers and SS James Goelz to the Marlins.

New York Yankees: The Yankees may have lost out on a cheap reliever when Colter Bean was taken by the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft Monday. Bean has a very good track record in his minor league career, with a 2.78 ERA and an excellent 11.8 K/9 rate. At 6'6", 255 lbs one might expect Bean to be a power pitcher, but he's not. His fastball doesn't even get out of the mid-80's, but he's a solid arm that will fit in well in the Boston bullpen.

Oakland A's: The A's farm system has become even more vital this past week after the big club lost free agent closer Keith Foulke and SS Miguel Tejada. OF Jose Guillen is also expected to leave via free agency. Infielders Bobby Crosby, Freddy Bynum and Esteban German, as well as pitcher Justin Duchscherer could all spend major time in the majors in 2004. Duchscherer has shot to break into the rotation after the trade of Ted Lilly. Right-hander Chris Mabeus was selected by the Texas Rangers in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft and the A's decided against drafting a player. The A's selected Shawn Sonnier, a right-hander out of the Chicago White Sox organization in the Triple-A portion of the draft, and lost SS Jorge Mejia to the Cincinnati Reds. Oakland also lost right-hander Darvin Withers to the Chicago White Sox and 1B Matthew Browser to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Seattle Mariners: The M's have several players competing in the winter leagues, but no one, perhaps in any organization, has been as good as right-hander Rafael Soriano. The 23-year-old has failed to yield an earned run in 32 innings pitched in the Dominican Winter League. To say his ERA of 0.00 is sparkling would be a gross understatement. It's sick. Left-hander Oscar Delgado, 22, is showing top-drawer relief stuff in Venezuela, sporting a 2.35 ERA in 15 innings. The Mariners selected three players in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft: left-handed reliever Chris Key from the Florida Marlins, and San Diego Padres' farmhands catcher Omar Falcon and right-hander Darwin Soto. No Mariners were selected in either portion of the draft, and the club chose not to select any players in the major league portion.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: While the other teams at the top of the draft order in the Rule 5 Draft were looking to the Pirates for help, the D'Rays went to the pitching rich Braves organization. They chose Alec Zumwalt with their pick. Zumwalt pitched at both class A Myrtle Beach and AA Greenville in 2003 going a combined 6-3, 1.98 in his two stops. Lou Piniella will try to pick his spots with Zumwalt since he doesn't have any great length of time at the AA level and no time at AAA.

Texas Rangers: While the organization remains on "hold" awaiting the outcome of the Alex Rodriguez situation, the minor league system made a few transactions of their own. The club lost newly signed infielder Andy Fox to the Montreal Expos and selected right-hander Chris Mabeus from the Oakland Athletics in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. In the Triple-A phase, Texas selected outfielders Tydus Meadows from the Kansas City Royals and Peter Zocolillo of the Milwaukee Brewers, along with infielder Edgar Gonzalez from the Tampa bay Devil Rays. Texas did not lose a player in the minor league portions of the draft.

Toronto Blue Jays: One of the sleepers in the Rule 5 Draft may be Talley Haines. The Blue Jays took him from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and you have to wonder why Haines never got a shot with Tampa. He just turned 27 and has two full years experience at AAA, going 9-10, 3.58 in his two full seasons. Haines is a right-handed reliever who has a very good shot to stick with Toronto. While the Blue Jays didn't lose anybody in the major league portion of the draft, they got hit in the minor league phase, losing five players - four of them pitchers - in the minor league phase of the draft.



Arizona Diamondbacks: Edgar Gonzalez, potential competitor for a spot in Arizona's 2004 rotation, made his debut in the Mexican Pacific League. He started and went 2 IP with 3 hits, 1 run, 0 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO, with no decision. Rising fast in the 2003 season, the 20 year old went 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA in AA, moved to AAA where he went 8-7 with a 3.75 ERA, and got a taste of the majors, going 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA. He has good control for a young pitcher, only walking 11 batters in 36.0 IP in AA, 28 batters in 129.2 IP in AAA, and 7 batters in 18.1 IP with Arizona.

Chicago Cubs: Mike Nannini or Wilton Chavez? Both were considered finalists as the PTBNL in the deal that brought Derrek Lee to the Cubs for Hee Seop Choi last month, which was finalized Monday. The Marlins ended up with Nannini, but a closer examination of statistics will prove it may have been for the best as far as the Cubs are concerned. Chavez is 23, and has developed a nasty slider as an out pitch to go along with a low-90's fastball. His 140 innings last season at Iowa led the team.

Cincinnati Reds: With the Reds just missing out on all of the Pirates prospects that were taken in the Rule 5 Draft, they looked to the Mets organization to find right-hander David Mattox. The 23 year old pitched at AA Binghamton in 2003 and went 8-7, 3.49 in 20 starts. With the Reds in dire need of pitching, there is a good chance that Mattox will stick with the team and with a good spring, could even climb into the starting rotation. On the down side, the Reds figured outfielder Eric Valent would go somewhere in the Rule 5 Draft and he did, being claimed in the AAA phase by the Mets.

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies signed five minor league free agents, including right-handed reliever Marc Kroon, who will be interesting to watch this spring. Kroon has long interested scouts because of his mid-90-mile-per-hour fastball, but his development has been sidetracked by control problems. Kroon is pitching this winter with Culiacan, where he was 0-2 with a 1.11 ERA and eight saves, third in the Mexican Pacific League. He had 33 strikeouts but 18 walks in 33 1/3 innings.

Houston Astros: Switch-hitting catcher Hector Gimenez has drawn nice reviews from scouts for his play in the Venezuelan League. He's hitting better than .300 and leading the league in RBIs. Gimenez hit .247 with 17 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 54 RBIs at Class A Salem last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Duaner Sanchez, claimed by Los Angeles last month on waivers from the Pirates, has not been doing well in the Dominican Winter League. In 14 relief appearances, he's pitched 14 innings and given up 18 hits, 9 ER, 2 HR, 9 BB, 15 SO, and 2 WP for a 5.79 ERA and 1-1 record. The 23 year old so far has not been able to continue pitching as he did at Nashville in the PCL where he was 4-4, 3.69 ERA, 41 games (40 in relief), 61.0 IP, 63 hits, 3 HR, 27 BB, and 34 SO.

Milwaukee Brewers: Catcher Lou Palmisano earned MVP honors in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, leading the league in batting (.391), on-base percentage (.458) and slugging (.592), playing for Helena. The Brewers, in need of catching, will put the 21 year old on the fast track to the Majors and the early returns of the 21 year old are promising. He will likely be in High-A by the end of the year.

Montreal Expos: With the trade of Michael Barrett, the Expos will be in the market for a backup catcher. If they can't find one to their liking, they could give the job to Scott Sandusky. The 27 year old split the 2003 season between AA Harrisburg and AAA Edmonton, hitting .284 in 39 games with Edmonton. The Expos took Sandusky - who graduated from Texas A&M - with their eighth round pick in the '98 Draft. The Expos lack any true catching prospects who are ready to make the jump to the majors, so it's likely that Brian Schneider will win the job by default. Of course, if the Expos find a low cost backup, Sandusky could be back in Edmonton.

New York Mets: The Mets had a busy day Monday in the Rule V Draft, picking up four new players and losing six. The Reds picked up RHP David Mattox with the seventh overall selection and the Red Sox chose LHP Lenny Dinardo with the 15th. Mattox went 8-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 21 for Double-A Binghamton last year while Dinardo, a former USA team member, went 4-11 with a 2.52 ERA for the Florida State League Champion St. Lucie Mets this past season. The other players the Mets lost? OF Ender Chavez and C John Wilson to the Expos, pitcher Joe Orloski to the Yankees, and pitcher Omar Anez to the Giants. In the Major League phase, New York chose Frank Brooks from Pittsburgh and dealt him to Oakland for a player to be named later. The Mets selected Eric Valent, a utility player that could challenge for a bench spot next season, off Cincinnati's Chattanooga roster in the first round of the Triple-A phase of the Rule V Draft. New York also picked up LHP Lance Carracioli from Cleveland and RHP Bruce Edwards from San Diego.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies held their breath during the Rule 5 Draft and came out lucky. They didn't lose any significant players, with their only losses coming in the minor league phase of the draft. The Phillies, as is their custom, didn't take any players in the major league portion of the draft, but did take Toronto's Kurt Keene in the AAA phase. Keene can play just about anywhere on the diamond and will come in handy at AAA Scranton. The Phillies also signed veteran minor leaguer Lou Collier to a minor league deal.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Cory Stewart, acquired from the Padres in the Brian Giles trade, had a great season for Mobile, a Padres affiliate in the Southern League. He went 12-7 with a 3.72 ERA. The Southern League is, however, considered a pitcher's league. As a lefty, he will get plenty of leeway and his fastball does top out at 94, making scouts drool over his potential to dominate. His control needs work as he walked 50 last season, and if he can harness that, he could be in the rotation by '05. This season in Triple-A will be a better barometer of his potential.

San Diego Padres: The Padres traded away two of their best lefties last season and now have to look deep on the farm to find their best option. Sean Thompson is that guy. Playing for short-season Eugene, Low-A, Thompson went 7-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts. He has brought down his walk totals from the year before but is still averaging 4.58 walks per nine innings. His strikeouts per nine, meanwhile, are at 10.91 per nine. If he can harness his control each step of the way to the show, he has a chance to be a great big leaguer.

San Fransisco Giants: The Giants drafted Omar Anez in the Rule 5 AAA draft from the Mets system. In brief outings so far in the Venezuelan Winter League, he is doing terrible, with a 8.31 ERA in 2 starts, 4.1 IP, 4 hits, 0 HR, 7 BB, 7 SO, 2 WP and a .250 BAA for Zulia Aguilas as his wildness is getting the best of him. The 22 year old did much better in the Sally League for Capital City, where he got into 26 games, 18 starts, 2 saves, 127 IP, 113 hits, 8 HR, 52 BB, 105 SO, and 22 (!) WP for a 3.83 ERA and 7-7 record.

St. Louis Cardinals: We have to be honest here... the Cardinals really don't have much on the rival Cubs in the way of a good farm system. The organization is still hoping RHP Rhett Parrott can break into the show by no later than 2005, but with only seven starts at AAA Memphis, it's likely Parrott will have to spend another year in the minors. For those of you unfamiliar with Parrott's tools, his arsenal contains a standard low-90's fastball with a sharp changeup and curve. In AA this year, he averaged just shy of a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.


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