As you might remember, I compiled a little report about six-year minor-league free agents last year about this time. Why don’t we take a quick look at what happened to some of the more interesting names and recommendations?
I named something like forty players in the linked thread. Of the original twenty-two, only six- Chip Ambres (Royals), Esteban German (Rangers), Mike Rose (just picked up from Los Angeles by Tampa Bay), Jeff Bailey (Red Sox), Andy Dominique (Blue Jays), and Aquilino Lopez (Phillies) were healthy for all or part of 2005 and not returned to the list this year. Several of the pitchers, unbeknownst to me, were injured and didn’t pitch at all. Such is the way all of this goes.
Jason Standridge, Alex Fernandez, and Andy Van Hekken, mentioned later on in the thread (I even called Van Hekken’s bullpen conversion), ended up in the Reds’ system. Standridge is now on the 40-man and a recipient of Dan O’Love, while Fernandez and Van Hekken are back on The List.
I’ve tried to be discriminating with this year’s list. I’m evaluating the players based on who might conceivably help the Reds' major-league club in 2006 or in the future, so don’t expect to see a bunch of outfielders or no-stick catchers or pitchers over 27 with no walks and no stuff. Primary on my list: relievers with some evidence of stuff (read: strikeouts), veteran catchers that can hit their weight, Swiss Army Knife-types (not Jason Romano, who’s missing most of his blades), and reclamation projects who might have been promising at one time, either by draft position or results, but are now returning from calamities of some sort. I’m also tired of talking about ex-Astros or ex-Rangers that DanO might know, so they only get mentioned if they deserve it or if I have a good quip.
The Reds will invariably sign a clutch of VJUGs (Veteran Journeyman Utility Guys) to staff the AA and AAA rosters (and have already started, bringing back Romano and adding Javier Colina and DeWayne Wise), but they only make this list if I can see them possibly contributing to the 2006 team.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As I see transactions posted for these players, their names are unceremoniously deleted from the list. So the number in parentheses represents only the quantity the list started with, not the number available at the moment you read this. Only the boldfaced names are actually “recommended”.
Arizona Diamondbacks (13).
Pitchers: Jonathan Cannon, Kerry Ligtenberg, Javier Lopez, Chris Michalak, Elvin Nina, Phillip Stockman.
Catchers: Juan Brito, Corey Myers.
Infielders: Keoni De Renne, Dave Doster, Alan Zinter.
Outfielders: Juan Camilo, Colin Porter.
Lopez is a 28-year-old lefty reliever who had a strong rookie year in 2003 with Colorado, but little success since. Pitching in Coors Field and Bank One Ballpark probably has a lot to do with it, since he’s done okay in AAA. Of all the various LOOGYs out there, Javier is one of the more intriguing, since he might suddenly improve in a more hospitable environment. He’s never given up many homers (just 0.6 per nine), even in the launching pads.
Atlanta Braves (17)
Pitchers: Jason Childers, Daniel Curtis, James Dehart, Steven Kent, Sam McConnell, Chad Paronto, Jorge Vasquez, Jeremy Ward.
Catchers: Miguel Bernard, Jean Boscan, Carlos Mendez, Raymond Serrano.
Infielders: Scott Pratt, Juan Velazquez.
Outfielders: John Barnes, Michael Rosamond, Esix Snead.
A 24-year-old Dominican product of the Royals’ system (and received in the trade that sent Eli Marrero to KC), Vasquez destroyed the Southern League (1.12 ERA in 40 innings) and struck out 20 in 14 AAA innings before holding his own in seven big-league appearances. Jorge has whiffed more than ten per nine innings in his pro career with a 3.34 ERA, so I have no idea why Atlanta would let him go to the List so quickly.
Esix Snead has become pretty legendary, stealing as many as 109 bases in a single season. But he hits like an unholy mating of Vince Coleman and Gumby. Six-yearhood wasn’t so kind to Reds product Casey DeHart, who made it to AAA but saw his ERA balloon by a run and a half and his HRs allowed double.
Baltimore Orioles (31)
Pitchers: Matt Bailie, Rick Bauer, Dave Borkowski, Tony Fiore, Brian McNichol, Rodney Ormond, Eddie Oropesa, Tony Saunders, Shawn Sedlacek, Chuck Smith, Melqui Torres.
Catchers: Sal Fasano, Brandon Marsters, Octavio Martinez, Yorman Sosa.
Infielders: Napoleon Calzado, Gary Cates, Miguel Delacruz, Alejandro Freire, Joey Hammond, Mike Moriarty, Omar Rogers, Pat Scalabrini, Pete Shier, Chris Stynes.
Outfielders: Peter Bergeron, Bobby Darula, Branden Florence, Ramon Nivar, Simon Pond.
Right-handed Bauer, 29, has spent his entire professional career (since 1997) in the Baltimore organization, appearing in the bigs in some fashion each of the past five seasons but failing to generate much traction or consistency. He’s going to get a needed change of scenery, and perhaps a switch to full-time bullpen work. His best year, 2002, was almost entirely spent in relief. Rick’s a big guy, 6-foot-6/225#, but is described as just about any type of pitcher imaginable depending on where you’re looking. He doesn’t have great peripherals, to be sure, but hasn’t given up excessive numbers of hits or homers, either.
Fasano, 34, is getting a little old but just finished swatting eleven homers in just 160 at-bats for the Orioles. He’s had some power his whole career, if little ability to hit for average and mediocre-at-best plate discipline, but he’s got more pop than any other catcher in the Reds’ system below the major-league level.
Shier, 25, is a Columbus native who’s stalled out at High-A, but shows some decent evidence of plate discipline and a bit of speed.
Stynes, 33, you know. He’s still a better and more versatile option as a 25th-man than Jason Romano. Chris missed all of 2005 with some sort of injury, but assuming he’s back, a fine candidate for an NRI.
Bergeron, 28, is a useful guy to stash at AAA in case of injury. He’s never been able to bounce completely back from flopping as a Montreal phenom in the early aughts, but at his best he can hit .290, draw walks, and steal bases in the International League. Darula, 31, is a very similar player (fewer walks, far fewer strikeouts) who never got the opportunity and the rookie cards because he was an undrafted free agent. A Red from 2002-2004, Bobby plays a completely airtight game marred only by a complete, honking lack of power. He has a .314 career average, but never got to play a full season at AAA until 2005.
Nivar, 26, is another ex-Ranger Swiss Army Butter Knife type, so don’t be surprised.
Boston Red Sox (18)
Pitchers: Conor Brooks, Jack Cressend, Tim Kester, James Mann, Anastacio Martinez, Juan Perez, Felix Romero.
Infielders: Dave Berg, Luis Figueroa, Jared Sandberg, Tony Schrager, Brant Ust, Scott Youngbauer.
Outfielders: Sheldon Fulse, Mike Lockwood, George Lombard, Billy McMillon, Cesar Minaya.
Perez, 25, is an Elizardoish sort (origin, frame, etc.), although he’s a reliever who misses a few more bats. Juan whiffed 74 in 62 AAA innings in 2005 and has averaged 9.4 per nine as a professional. 3.6 walks and 0.75 homers are also reasonable.
Lombard, 30, is of course an ex-Brave five-tooler who’s carved out a solid AAAA niche. George K’s a whole bunch, but he does a little of everything, including walk, so he rates a little higher than many of his brethren.
Chicago Cubs (6)
Pitchers: Talley Haines, Jonathan Searles.
Catchers: Mark Johnson.
Infielders: David Kelton, Bryan Ransom.
Outfielders: Calvin Murray.
Righty Searles, 25, put together a solid season relieving at AA West Tenn; 3.35 ERA, nice ratios (29/72 BB/K in 80.2 innings), low HR rate. His career numbers are solid but unspectacular; the only thing I can see is that he appears to have missed some portion of almost every season due to injury before 2005.
After all the hype throughout 2002-2004 about Kelton’s spot on the next great Cubs dynasty, the 26-year-old lands on the List with a thud and just twenty-two big-league at-bats. Kelton never had a truly bad season, but never truly blew it out, either, and in the end the obstacles of Dusty Baker and inadequate 3B defense and myriad veteran cornermen were too much. Dave might be a late bloomer with a change of scenery, and while the Reds don’t really need any converted corner outfielders, he might turn into trade fodder.
Chicago White Sox (23)
Pitchers: Jim Bullinger, Bobby Jones, Leonardo Mayi, Juan Ovalles, Luis Pena, Matthew Smith, Jason Stumm, Dennis Ulacia.
Catchers: Jonathan Aceves, Cipriano Garcia.
Infielders: Trace Coquillette, Brad Fullmer, Felix Martinez, Greg Norton, Guillermo Reyes, Jorge Toca.
Outfielders: Tony Alvarez, Scott Bikowski, Roosevelt Brown, Bernard Gonzalez, Luis Zaranise.
Fullmer missed all of 2005 with an injury, but somebody will take a chance on a decent platoon DH. Run, NL teams.
I would have some interest in outfielder Tony Alvarez, an ex-Pirate five-tooler, but he missed almost all of 2005 with injury. Instead, the only guy on the White Sox list that particularly intrigues is 24-year-old Venezuelan Ovalles, another stringbean righty who, after pitching his way out of the Seattle organization and back up through the Northern League, posted a 4.15 ERA in the hitter-friendly Carolina League in 2005, whiffing 89 in 86 innings despite 51 walks. Juan is young and obviously has stuff/control issues, but this is the kind of guy Felix Rodriguez or Ugueth Urbina used to be.
Cincinnati Reds (27)
Pitchers: Jason Andrew, Joel Barreto, Lance Caraccioli, Eric Eckenstahler, Juan Frias, David Mattox Jr, Tony Mounce, Travis Phelps, Jeriome Robertson, Brian Rose, James Serrano, Thomas Shearn, Andy Van Hekken.
Catchers: Steven Lomasney, Brian Peterson, Orlando Sulbaran.
Infielders: Rick Bell, Travis Chapman, Eric Crozier, Jose Leon, Jorge Mejia, Alejandro Pelaez, A.J. Zapp.
Outfielders: Alexander Fernandez, Norris Hopper, Robert Stratton, Pedro Swann.
The Reds had to re-sign Barreto last season, too, but Joel’s 2005 was cut short by injury after he was promoted to AA and earned victories in each of his first three appearances. Now 25, he’ll need a push and better control but he still misses bats.
Shearn, 28, rebounded quite nicely as a righty power reliever following Tommy John surgery, but he inflated his ERA by pitching poorly as a starter for a threadbare Bats rotation at the end of the year. The Columbus native still deserves a chance , if he can just get in the right spot at the right time…
Van Hekken, 26, pitched horribly in the Atlanta organization and ended up released midyear. The former Tigers prospect signed with Louisville, moved to the bullpen for the first time in his career, then proceeded to pitch so well he ended up starting for the even-more-threadbare Lookouts. Anyway, Andy’s a command-first finesse guy, but he could end up making it back to the majors with a little more seasoning in the art.
I’ve ranted before about the 27-year-old Peterson’s burial behind Dane Sardinha, of all people, after Brian’s great 2004 and subsequent offensive tear in the Arizona Fall League. While Peterson’s numbers fell off somewhat, he still hit better than the vast majority of other catchers on the List, and deserves a legitimate shot at AAA, if not someone’s backup job.
We all know the 28-year-old Stratton’s story by now; let’s hope the Reds, and Rob’s legs, give the guy juuuuust one full year with this new stroke of his.
I’d also expect DJ Mattox to get one more shot, given his injuries and return, since the club has invested $500,000 or so in him already.
Cleveland Indians (16)
Pitchers: Kyle Denney, Mariano Gomez, Jake Robbins, Billy Traber, Steve Watkins.
Catchers: Javier Cardona, Dusty Wathan.
Infielders: Mike Bell, Mike Kinkade, Jose Morban, Jake Thrower.
Outfielders: Andy Abad, Ryan Ludwick, Dennis Malave, J.J. Sherrill, Ernie Young.
Traber, 26, is a former #1 draft pick with one full season in the big leagues (and a Tommy John surgery) to his credit. 2005 was his first year back, and he struggled with command, but I’m surprised the Indians let the guy go to the List so easily when he’s due to be at full strength in ’06. The 6’5” lefty showed impressive command pre-surgery.
Wathan, 32, is of course the son of ex-big-leaguer John Wathan. Despite a career line of .291/.373/.409 in AAA, he’s gotten a grand total of five major-league at-bats. Injuries have played a part, as he’s had trouble staying on the field, appearing in as many as a hundred games exactly once in an eleven-year pro career. In 2005, he suddenly erupted for fourteen homers for AAA Buffalo, almost doubling his previous season high, and he’s always drawn a few walks.
Ludwick, 27, was enough of a power prospect to be traded twice (going to Texas from Oakland for Carlos Pena, among others, then from Texas to Cleveland for Ricardo Rodriguez and Shane Spencer). He had a bad and injury-scarred 2005, but has shown fairly consistent power bouncing between AAA and the majors for the several previous seasons.
Colorado Rockies (16)
Pitchers: P.J. Bevis, Wilton Chavez, Tim Drew, Gabe Molina, Christian Parker, Dennis Stark, Aaron Taylor.
Catchers: Pascual Matos, Tino Sanchez, Thomas Wilson.
Infielders: Tomas Delarosa, Eddy Garabito, Anderson Machado, Elvis Pena, Jeff Pickler.
Outfielders: J.J. Davis.
Think of Taylor, 28, as a cross between Allan Simpson and Sasquatch; a 6-foot-8, 245# (the link is wrong) flamethrowing ex-Mariner monster who has struggled with injuries and command. Aaron missed all of 2005.
Detroit Tigers (23)
Pitchers: Edwin Almonte, Michael Bumatay, Michael Bynum, Nate Cornejo, John Ennis, Andrew Good, Steve Green, Mark Johnson, Joey Watts, John Weis.
Catchers: Russell Cleveland, Brandon Harper, Sandy Martinez, Maxim St. Pierre.
Infielders: Gookie Dawkins, Juan Gonzalez, Mike Hessman, Juan Tejeda.
Outfielders: Kurt Airoso, Byron Gettis, Alexis Gomez, Victor Mendez, Derek Nicholson.
Bumatay, 26, made my list last year as well. Nothing’s changed; Mike’s a power lefty who strikes people out (9.8 K/9) but has trouble finding the plate (4.6 BB/9). He put up a 4.08 ERA with AA Erie, a hitter’s paradise, and deserves at minimum another shot with an AAA club that’s not Colorado Springs.
Tejeda, 24, is a Dominican first baseman who’s done solidly but unspectacularly at every level up through AA. He’s not a terribly large guy (6’2”, 195#) but he is at the age where power starts to really develop, so perhaps there’s some breakout chance there.
Florida Marlins (29)
Pitchers: Ray Aguilar, Chad Bentz, Brad Clontz, Bryan Corey, Bryce Florie, Jerrod Fuell, Franklyn Gracesqui, Benjamin Howard, Luke Lockwood, Donovan Osborne, Ariel Prieto, Jose Rodriguez, Clint Sodowsky.
Catchers: Dennis Anderson, Jason Hill, John Pachot.
Infielders: Larry Barnes, Marcos Cabral, Wilson Delgado, Mathew Demarco, Matt Erickson, John Lindsey, Drew Niles, Todd Sears, Jason Wood.
Outfielders: Christopher Ashby, Michael Colangelo, Mark Little, Matt Padgett.
Aguilar is a 26-year-old lefty and ex-Braves signee who’s pitched well most of the time but struggled to stay healthy. Still you can’t knock a 2.88 career ERA and just two walks per nine innings.
Bentz, a 26-year-old Alaskan lefty, was rushed to the bigs by Montreal/Washington despite less than a hundred professional appearances. He struggled with command, predictably, and was dumped unceremoniously by the Nats following the 2004 season. Signing with Florida, he did a little better in the PCL. Given Chad’s struggles with injury over the years, he may just need more reps to finish putting it together.
Houston Astros (27)
Pitchers: Jimmy Anderson, Peter Bauer, Heath Bost, Will Cunnane, Roberto Giron, Carlos Hernandez, Brooks Kieschnick, Scott MacRae, T.J. Mathews, Tim McClaskey, Denton McDaniel, German Melendez, Joshua Miller, Fernando Rijo, Brian Tollberg.
Catchers: Dax Norris, Chris Tremie.
Infielders: Jason Clements, Mike Coolbaugh, Alex Eckelman, Royce Huffman, J.R. Phillips, Eric Riggs, Carlos Rivera.
Outfielders: Wilton Reynolds, Carlos Rodriguez, Barry Wesson.
Hernandez was quite the phenom in 2001 and 2002, rising to the bigs at the tender age of 21 to pitch quite well in the Astros rotation. He missed all of 2003 with arm injuries, then rebounded in 2004 in AAA before struggling with Houston. More time was missed this year, and Carlos’ numbers suffered. The 26-year-old might be a shell of his former self, but someone will take a flyer.
Melendez, 24, just completed a transition from catcher to pitcher, throwing solid ball at low levels last year. Conversion cases are always wild cards, and the Reds have had success with converted OF-1B Brian Shackleford; could Melendez be another Glenn Sutko?
Strange how suddenly the Brewers soured on the Brooks Kieschnick experiment; he’s still doing his thing in AAA, although his pitching has worsened. It’s also good to see ex-Red grinder Scott MacRae still working, and Jimmy Anderson still has outstanding donut emergencies to pay for.
Kansas City Royals (21)
Pitchers: Dustin Dossett, Derrin Ebert, David Elder, Chris George, Cesar Herrera, Shane Nance, Santiago Ramirez, Dennis Tankersley.
Catchers: Tomas Duenas, Jorge Maduro.
Infielders: Rudy Gomez, Brennan King, Peter Maestrales, Josh Pressley, Alejandro Prieto, Chad Santos.
Outfielders: Cory Aldridge, Adrian Brown, Jaime Jones, Wilkin Ruan.
A hard-throwing righty who overcame command issues in the minors to make the big leagues with Cleveland in 2002, the 30-year-old Elder found his chance vaporized after missing most of 2003. He worked his way back to pro ball through a stint in the Atlantic League in 2004, then pitched sixteen innings of shutout ball before ending his 2005 early. I’m not sure of Elder’s health status, but if he can pitch, he’s a darkhorse candidate for a comeback.
Boston used to get roundly mocked for trading young fireballer Dennis Tankersley to San Diego for fading veteran Ed Sprague, but strangely enough, you don’t hear much about it any more. Tankersley, now 27, has struggled with command and hasn’t been able to capitalize on any of his big-league opportunities. His strikeout rate has eroded steadily over the past few seasons, and Kansas City couldn’t even be bothered to call him up in 2005 despite trading for him before the season, then proceeding to lose over a hundred games while Dennis managed an ERA around four at AAA Omaha. Very strange.
Pressley is a big guy (6-foot-6, 225#) who had never hit more than nine homers in a professional season… until 2005, when he whacked twenty-two on his way to a .311/.400/.518 line at AA Wichita. He’ll be 26, and given that power was the only thing missing from an offensive game that included a good batting eye and solid line-drive stroke, he could hit his way into the Show eventually.
Los Angeles Angels (15)
Pitchers: Clayton Andrews, Eric Cyr, Justin Dowdy, Delvin James, Jason Olson, Alex Serrano, Evan Thomas, Francisco Villegas, Mark Watson.
Catchers: Emmanuel Santana.
Infielders: Ivan Reyes.
Outfielders: Luke Allen, Brian Gordon, Curtis Pride, Chris Prieto.
The 25-year-old righthander Serrano is a ratios guy- a BB/K mark of 4:1, pretty darn solid. Like so many others, he hit a wall in Colorado (well, in this case, AAA Colorado Springs) but righted the ship at AA Arkansas, posting a 1.32 ERA and saving fifteen.
Clayton Andrews is still hanging around, four years after the epic Steve Parris trade. Impressive.
Los Angeles Dodgers (12)
Pitchers: Alfredo Gonzalez, Thomas Nall, Mike Neu, Beltran Perez, Victor Perez, Dimas Reina, Ryan Rupe, Mike Venafro.
Catchers: Edwin Bellorin.
Infielders: Jose Flores.
Outfielders: Todd Donovan, Nick Theodorou.
The bottom fell out for ex-Red Mike Neu, as he contracted something approaching Steve Blass Disease while walking 62 in 89 AAA innings in 2005.
BeltranPerezis the 24-year-old righthander acquired from Arizona as a PTBNL in the Shawn Green deal just a year ago. He didn’t do anything wrong- posting ERAs below four at two levels- but was the victim of an overproductive Dodgers farm system. Perez has struck out more than eight per nine and walked just over three for his career, so he’s not worth giving up on at his age.
Flores, 32, would be a great utility infielder to have at AAA. Why? He knows how to walk. (He can also hit for a pretty good average and run a little bit, so his defense must have pissed someone off.) Sit, young master William, and count to four with Professor Jose.
Milwaukee Brewers (14)
Pitchers: Matt Dewitt, Brett Evert, Michael Meyers, Christopher Saenz, Keith Stamler, Clint Weibl, Alec Zumwalt.
Catchers: Jeff Winchester.
Infielders: Wandel Campana, Nelson Castro, Warren Morris, Stephen Scarborough, Tony Zuniga.
Outfielders: Ryan Knox.
Evert, 25, is a 6-foot-6 hard-throwing Atlanta-developed righthander picked up by Seattle and then Milwaukee off waivers. He reached AAA in 2005, but struggled. Still, Brett’s got a BB/K rate in the 8:3 range and a projectable frame.
Saenz, 24, pitched six shutout innings in his 2004 big-league debut, but hasn’t pitched since. He’d pitched solidly at every level, missed bats, and threw strikes, but didn’t get the timing part down.
Zumwalt, 25, was a Rule 5 selection from Atlanta by Tampa Bay in 2003, but returned to the Braves. Alec pitched well that year, but struggled in 2004 and was traded along with Jose Capellan to Milwaukee for Danny Kolb. 2005 saw Zumwalt miss some time due to injuries. Assuming health, he’s likely got the fastball to be a decent reliever.
Minnesota Twins (7)
Pitchers: Brent Schoening.
Catchers: Corky Miller, Gabby Torres.
Infielders: Luis Antonio Jimenez.
Outfielders: Brian Buchanan, Todd Dunwoody, Michael Ryan.
Jimenez, 24, is a strange case. He’s played his way through five organizations without doing poorly, and he’s a 6-foot-4 lefty-swinging OF-1B coming off a solid season in AA. I have no idea.
I’ll root for Corky Miller to work until he’s 40.
New York Mets (23)
Pitchers: Gregory Belson, Kenneth Chenard, Rafael Cova, Ryan Cullen, Bryan Edwards, Jeremy Hill, Jake Joseph, Eric Junge, Rafael Lopez, Robert McIntyre, Orber Moreno, Neal Musser, Jose Rodriguez, Orlando Roman, Jose Rosado, Jossher Suarez.
Catchers: Yunir Garcia.
Infielders: Craig Brazell, Rodney Nye.
Outfielders: Ron Calloway, Jonel Pacheco, Prentice Redman.
McIntyre is another conversion case, this time a shortstop. Perhaps the Reds could use some practice, given the impending cases of Mark Schramek and Paul Janish on the player-development docket.
Moreno was, at one time, a flamethrowing closer-to-be phenom with Kansas City, but injuries undid his career before it really got started. He healed up, went to the Mets, dominated AAA in 2003, then pitched decently for the Mets in 2004 before hurting himself again. Now he’s 29 and coming off another missed year. A darkhorse?
Roman, 27, has whiffed nine and a half per nine professionally, but hasn’t gotten above AA. And a 3.95 career ERA isn’t that bad.
New York Yankees (17)
Pitchers: Carlos Artiles, Daniel Borrell, Michael Brunet, Calvin Maduro, Samuel Marsonek, Pete Munro, Hideo Nomo, Brad Voyles, Kris Wilson.
Catchers: Jason Brown, Troy Caradonna, Ryan Hankins, Jon Sprowl.
Infielders: Caonabo Cosme, Joe Thurston.
Outfielders: Octavio Amaya, Michael Coleman.
Michael Coleman works! One can bounce back from Tacogate, oh yes.
Jon-Mark Sprowl is 25 and hasn’t played above High-A, but he does have a line-drive bat and a great batting eye, a description fitting no current Reds minor-league backstops.
Oakland Athletics (19)
Pitchers: Keith Dunn, Evan Fahrner, Adam Johnson, Brigmer Leon, Nick Mattioni, Michael Nannini, Britt Reames, Manuel Rodriguez, Michael Saipe, Alex Santos, Andrew Shibilo.
Catchers: Thomas Gregorio.
Infielders: Andrew Beattie, Francis Gomez, Adam Morrissey, Bobby Smith.
Outfielders: Jack Cust, Shawn Garrett, Jose Pineda.
Fahrner returned from two injury years and a stint in indy ball before throwing well two years running at AA. He’ll be 28.
Nannini made this list last year and is still a former #1 pick and only 25 years old. He didn’t pitch terribly well in 2005, but perhaps maybe the sixth organization’s the charm. Ratios: still pretty solid.
Johnson, once the second pick in the entire draft by Minnesota, missed most of 2005 after washing out of the Twins organization. Andy Beattie did a .296/.373/.470 line in AAA, but no love from the Beane counters.
Philadelphia Phillies (31)
Pitchers: Mike Bacsik, Gregory Bauer, Francisco Butto, Carlos Chantres, Philip Devey, Robert Ellis, Jared Fernandez, Sean Fesh, Martire Franco, Kevin Hodge, Josue Matos, Edwin Moreno, Brady Raggio, Gabe Ribas, Chris Rojas, Michael Smith.
Catchers: John Castellano, Chris Coste.
Infielders: James Deschaine, Nate Grindell, Leonard Hannahan, Samuel Hitchcox, Anthony Medrano, Juan Richardson, Randy Ruiz.
Outfielders: Mark Budzinski, Ryan Fleming, Jorge Padilla, Jim Rushford, Brian Sellier.
Castellano, 28, made this list last year. He’s basically Mike Piazza Ultra Light. Had a down year in 2005, but still hit better than the Reds’ offerings.
Pittsburgh Pirates (38)
Pitchers: Kirk Bullinger, Eddi Candelario, Mark Corey, Chris Enochs, Julio Guerrero, Jeremy Harts, Hansel Izquierdo, James Johnson, Justin Kaye, Brian Mallette, Neal McDade, Vladimir Nunez, Kevin Olsen, Todd Ozias, Justin Reid, Brian Reith, Jason Roach, Benjamin Shaffar, Paul Stewart.
Catchers: Paul Chiaffredo, Jose Hernandez, Carlos Maldonado, Rudy Pena, Chris Snusz.
Infielders: Alfredo Amezaga, Avelino Asprilla, Josh Bonifay, Howie Clark, Cesar Crespo, Tom Evans, Graham Koonce, Pat Magness, Gregg Raymundo, Shaun Skrehot, Jorge Velandia.
Outfielders: Jorge Cortes, Jon Nunnally, Andy Wilson.
Like Castellano, Maldonado can hit better than most minor-league veteran catchers.
Howie Clark should be a novel concept for Dan O’Brien- a Swiss Army Knife sort than can actually hit. The 32-year-old Clark was injured much of 2005, but still hit .373 in AA and has a career .301/.367/.434 mark in AAA.
St. Louis Cardinals (20)
Pitchers: Oscar Alvarez, Jeremy Cummings, Brian Falkenborg, Christopher Gissell, James Journell, David Lee, Joe Nelson, Mark Nussbeck, Joshua Pearce.
Catchers: Robinson Cancel, Bradley Cresse, Jose Mendez.
Infielders: Aaron Herr.
Outfielders: Chad Allen, Brandon Berger, Cesar Bolivar, Raul Gonzalez, Tyler Minges, Reggie Taylor, Peter Zoccolillo.
Alvarez, 25, returns to the List again, having spent a year with St. Louis after leaving Cleveland. He continued to put up good ERAs in High-A and AA, not earning a promotion for some reason after doing well in AA in 2004. His K ratio did take a dip, but he’s still a strikes-throwing lefty who’s never had a bad season.
Gissell, 28, is a 6-foot-5 righty who’s pitched extremely well in AAA the past three years- two of those in Colorado Springs, no less- but hasn’t ever gotten a serious chance. Sure, he had some messy years while with the Cubs, the club that drafted him, but since moving to Colorado and St. Louis, he’s posted excellent WHIPs and solid ERAs marred only by a slight friendliness to the gopher ball (a little over one per nine).
Journell, 28, is an Ohio native somewhat well-known for being seemingly the Only Pitching Prospect in the Cardinals System for a couple of years prior to the arrival of Anthony Reyes. Injuries have stalled him in AAA, and he never joined the Cardinals for anything more than a cup of coffee. He missed half of 2002 and almost all of 2004, and struggled with his command upon returning in 2005. The timing is right for Journell to show he’s still got something, because pre-surgery he put up very strong K rates (just over nine per nine) at all levels.
Pearce is similar to Journell- a high draft pick from the same year (1999) who’s missed even more time, significant portions of the past four years, with injuries. Josh gives up more homers, walks fewer, and K’s less, but hasn’t had quite the past results. Cesar “Papo” Bolivar is a five-foot-nine Venezuelan who’s been mired at AA since 2000 for some reason, despite good speed, occasional power, and reasonable plate discipline. The 27-year-old would be at least as good a signing as Norris Hopper- more power, comparable everything else. Minges, 26, is a Cincinnati native coming off a .324/.392/.564 line in AA. Tyler has power, and his plate discipline improved markedly in 2005.
Hey, this Taylor guy could be a fifth outfielder!
San Diego Padres (15)
Pitchers: Andy Ashby, Brad Baker, Brandon Emanuel, Geoffrey Jones, Jason Kershner, Marty McLeary, Danny Patterson, Ryan Snare.
Catchers: Michel Hernandez, Andres Pagan
Infielders: Bobby Scales.
Outfielders: Jeff Duncan, Joseph Gerber.
Baker, 25, is an ex-#1 Boston sandwich pick traded to San Diego in 2002 for Alan Embree. The Padres converted the righthander to the bullpen, and Brad’s ERA and walk totals instantly improved. He suddenly gave up a bunch of homers at AAA Portland last year (chalk it up to the PCL?), but still whiffed 75 in 66.1 innings despite 32 walks. Baker doesn’t have a history of Miltonitis, so maybe it’s just an anomaly.
Kershner, 29, had a brief run of success in Toronto’s bullpen before heading to Boston and then San Diego. The lefty pitched well for AAA Portland, walking just eleven in sixty innings. Jason has a 4.21 career major-league ERA and a 3.46 mark in AAA, so it’s interesting to see him get discarded by so many clubs.
Hernandez, 27, has a career .354 OBP in AAA and more walks than strikeouts, so he fits the bill as a not-worthless-at-the-dish veteran backup worth stashing at Louisville.
Snare, 27, is an ex-Red traded first to Florida in the Juan Encarnacion deal, then to Texas in the trade involving Ugueth Urbina and Adrian Gonzalez. Things haven’t gone so well for Ryan- he made the bigs with the Rangers, pitched in just one game, got hammered, got released mid-2005, and suffered through a generally bad year. However, no one’s tried the relief conversion yet, so if Ryan’s arm is sound, it might be an option for someone.
San Francisco Giants (18)
Pitchers: Dustin Bergman, Scott Chiasson, Brian Cooper, Jeremy Fikac, Matt Kinney, Brian Mazone, Stephen Randolph, Seung Jun Song, Brandon Villafuerte.
Catchers: Christopher Curry.
Infielders: Jed Hansen, Mickey Lopez.
Outfielders: Douglas Clark, Nathan Haynes, Julio Ramirez, Alex Sanchez, Tony Torcato, Carlos Valderrama.
From Boston phenom to Expo (for Cliff Floyd) to Toronto and San Francisco waiver claimee, Song is still just 25 and hasn’t gotten a real chance. His ratios come and go, yes, although for his career he’s at a respectable 3.5 walks and 8.3 Ks per nine innings. As something of an enigma, the Korean righthander might surprise somebody one of these years.
Seattle Mariners (12)
Pitchers: Nicholas Bourgeois, Andrew Lorraine, Damian Moss.
Catchers: Ryan Christianson, Wiki Gonzalez, Brian Moon, Franklin Tua.
Infielders: Nathan Espy, Jesse Hoorelbeke, Bucky Jacobsen.
Outfielders: Abraham Nunez.
The eleventh player picked in 1999, Christianson has spent most of the last two years at AAA Tacoma without an opportunity, given Dan Wilson’s beloved existence and Miguel Olivo’s various travails. Ryan is only 25 and hits better than Dane Sardinha, so he’s an instant possibility.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (23)
Pitchers: Thomas Carnes, David Coggin, Jason Cromer, Nathan Cromer, Neal Frendling, Gerardo Garcia, Ruddy Lugo, Jason Phillips, Cameron Smith, Scott Vandermeer.
Catchers: Sandy Aracena, Paul Hoover.
Infielders: Brooks Badeaux, John-Paul Davis, Luis Ordaz, Nestor Perez, Earl Snyder, Rico Washington.
Outfielders: Jeff Deardorff, Trenidad Hubbard, Luis Mateo, Darnell McDonald, Scott Neuberger.
Texas Rangers (18)
Pitchers: Jason Boyd, Tim Crabtree, Rosman Garcia, Willy Lebron, Christopher Marini, Hector Mercado, Agustin Montero, Wilfredo Rodriguez, Matthew Roney, Enger Veras, Jeff Zimmerman.
Catchers: Brian Esposito, Chris Jaile.
Infielders: Jason Hart, Chris Richard, Seth Taylor.
Outfielders: Jason Conti.
A former #1 pick by Colorado, then designated fodder during Detroit’s 2003 Season of Death, Roney, 26, was converter to a reliever in 2005 to solid results in the Tiger and Ranger systems. In 83 innings, the righthander whiffed 82 and walked just 27 with an ERA below two. Another Standridge?
Toronto Blue Jays (19)
Pitchers: Jesse Carlson, Matt Duff, D.J. Hanson, Spike Lundberg, Cameron Reimers, Kevin Tolar.
Catchers: Joseph Depastino, Jose Umbria.
Infielders: Jason Alfaro, Clint Johnston, Julius Matos, Bryant Nelson, Desi Relaford, Michael Snyder.
Outfielders: Ronald Acuna, Anton French, Rodney Medina, Anthony Sanders.
Lefthanded Carlson, 25, made my list last year, then went on to dominate AA this season before struggling slightly in AAA (4.82 ERA in 22 games). He’s got a career BB/K ratio of something like four and a half to one, so I have to wonder why three organizations have let him go. Maybe he's a methhead or something.
Washington Nationals (24)
Pitchers: Micah Bowie, Donald Bridges, Chad Durbin, Justin Echols, David Gil, Joe Horgan, Brian Powell, Saul Rivera, Richard Rundles, Dan Smith, Billy Sylvester, Harvey Yarnall.
Catchers: Luis Apodaca, Craig Kuzmic, Drew McMillan.
Infielders: Jason Bowers, Ramon Castro, Melvin Dorta, Billy Martin, Henry Mateo, Juan Melo, Vince Rooi.
Outfielders: Dee Brown, Jesus Feliciano.
Yes, Jim Bowden went out and got Ed Yarnall again.
Kuzmic, 28, has bounced around the PCL for the better part of the past four seasons, his batting average fluctuating but his plate discipline intact, consistently drawing walks at around fifteen percent of plate appearances. In addition, Craig’s power is not nonexistent- he’s slugged in the low-to-mid .400s professionally.
Rooi, just 24, is a Dutch-born five-tool third baseman who struggled horribly most of his first five professional seasons… before 2005. The 23-year-old hit .300/.375/.459 in High-A, cracking the AA barrier for the first time. Fluke or blossoming, who knows?