Tuesday July 12, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports): The MLB Home Run Derby is one of the greatest events in comparison to the All-Star games of any sport. Fans flock in droves to watch the event, hoping to catch an amazing feat such as Josh Hamilton hitting 28 in the first round in 2008, only to come in 2nd place, and Bobby Abreu hitting 41 total home runs on his way to winning the title in 2005.
When the teams were announced, the fans booed both Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. Fielder was chastised for his selection of Weeks, as most casual fans were not aware of the pure power that he possesses. Weeks was chosen over Justin Upton, who would have been great in front of his Arizona hometown crowd.
Early on this Derby lacked excitement, save for Robinson Cano’s first round, in which he had his father, former major leaguer, Jose Cano, pitching to him. Cano blasted a number of balls deep into the right center field bleachers, his longest being 472 ft. Jose Bautista was a bit of a disappointment, smashing only 4 home runs and ended up being eliminated in the first round of the derby. Other disappointments included the aforementioned Rickie Weeks and Matt Kemp, who hit 3 and 2 home runs, respectively.
There was some excitement at the end, as both David Ortiz and Fielder hit 5 home runs a piece to tie Matt Holliday, forcing a 3-player swing-off for 3rd and 4th place. In this swing-off, each player received 5 swings in which to hit as many home runs as possible. Holliday led off with 5, Ortiz hit 4, and Fielder hit a perfect 5, two of which were mammoth shots.
The second round started off with Ortiz, and he began to show his age. Ortiz was likely tired after the first round plus enduring the sudden death swing-off. Ortiz hit only 4 home runs in the second round, and his average distance was 426 ft. Then came the Robinson Cano Show again. Cano launched 12 home runs in the second round, averaging 436 ft. His swing was picture perfect, and it seemed as though any time he didn’t hit a home run, his dad would be upset with him. Robinson’s dad knows his son’s strengths, and was confident he could hit that many. That is likely why Cano was named Robinson by his father, after the late and great Jackie Robinson.
Gonzalez was also able to put on a show in the second round, consistently pounding the ball 430+ft. He put on a display, hitting theball to the opposite field, and straightaway center field on his way to finishing with 11 in the round, and 20 total, tying him with Cano. Fielder was up next, and aside from his first swing, that he hit 474 ft, he was not able to do much else. He finished with 4 in the round, 9 in total. So, it came down to the Yankees and Red Sox again. Cano and Gonzalez square off in the finals.
Gonzalez immediately impressed, hitting 8 home runs in his first 3 outs. He cooled off and finished with 11 in the finals. With the most impressive rounds of the night, Cano hit 10 in his first 16 swings, needing only 1 more to tie Gonzalez. The crowd erupted as he hit a home run over 470 ft to tie it up. The very next swing was the one that did it, as he hit it out to right center field. Gonzalez had a record 11 home runs in the last round, and Cano was clutch in beating that.
What started off as a slow, uneventful night, wound up being a compelling night of watching the Yankees battle the Red Sox in a pure power slugfest. Robinson and his dad embracing by the mound. The American League beating the National League. All in all, this year’s edition of the Home Run Derby was nothing short of spectacular.
|Chase Field, Phoenix — AL 76 defeats NL 19|
|Player||Team||Round 1||Round 2||Subtotal||Finals||Total|
|Adrian Gonzalez||Red Sox||9||11||20||11||31|
|David Ortiz||Red Sox||5||4||9||–||9|
|Jose Bautista||Blue Jays||4||–||4||–||4|
In a game showcasing most of baseball’s brightest shining up and coming stars, there were several players who stood out from the pack. Although Bryce Harper (WAS) stole the spotlight in both the pre-game and post-game festivities, he did not shine quite as bright during the game. He was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and 2 ground outs to first. One of which was hit fairly hard but a nice play by Yonder Alonso got the out.
Aside from two big innings, a 4-run 6th inning by the World Team hitters off of Drew Pomeranz, and a 3-run 8th inning off of Kelvin Herrera by Team USA, this was a game largely dominated by flame-throwing pitchers.
For the US Team, my standout hitters were Jason Kipnis, (CLE) who led off the bottom of the 1st with a home run over the right-centre field wall, and Grant Green (OAK). Green crushed a double off the top of the wall in straight-away center that I thought would have been gone in any other park. He also stroked another double, going 2 for 2 with 2 doubles, a run scored and RBI on his way to earning MVP of the game. On the mound, I was blown away by Matt Moore, Tampa Bay’s mega pitching prospect. He threw 11 pitches, 9 of which were strikes. His fastball was clocked consistently between 94 and 98 mph, and he was also throwing a devastating slider at 86 mph. Phillies prospect Jared Cosart was also very impressive. He racked up 2 strikeouts and a fly out on 10 pitches; 8 strikes. Sitting at 96 with the heater, he also displayed a plus change-up.
Jose Altuve (HOU) is a guy that doesn’t get much credit, because he stands at about 5’6”. However, the Venezuelan native has hit everywhere he has played. He was 2 for 3 with a single and a double, and I came away impressed with the diminutive infielder. Jurickson Profar (TEX) may have been the youngest player there, but he was not overmatched, as he stroked a triple off Drew Pomeranz and displayed his impressive speed. On the bump, Canadian James Paxton stood out to me. The University of Kentucky product threw 6 pitches; all fastballs, and induced 3 quick outs. He was between 94 and 96 and showed better control than I remember the last time I saw him. Henderson Alvarez (TOR) was also impressive, with a fastball that topped out at 98 mph, and getting Harper to ground out to first on a 95 mph sinker.
The US team jumped out to an early lead thanks to the leadoff home run by Kipnis in the first, and an RBI fielder’s choice by Wil Myers (KC) in the 2nd inning. Team USA then made it 3-0 in the 5th on Green’s first double, which scored Gary Brown after he singled and stole second. In the top of the 6th, Drew Pomeranz (CLE) struggled, and gave up 4 runs. Alfredo Silverio (LAD) homered to left, scoring Dayan Viciedo (CWS) who had singled 2 batters prior. A walk to Chih-Hisen Chiang (BOS) and a double to Sebastian Valle (PHI) spelled the end of the night for Pomeranz. With the score knotted at 3, Profar then hit his triple off Kyle Gibson (MIN), scoring Valle in the process.
Green led off the 8th with a double, and Tim Beckham (TB) drove him in with a double of his own to tie the game at 4. After an Austin Romine (NYY) single and a Nolan Arenado (COL) double to right field, the damage was done, and the US had a 6-4 lead. Jacob Turner (DET) and Matt Harvey (NYM) split duties to close out the game for the US Team.
The US has now taken a 7-6 lead in the all-time series. A good number of these players will be on Major League rosters by season’s end, so be sure to check in on the minor league squads of your favorite teams for updates.
|U.S. Futures 6, World Futures 4|
|July 10, 2011|
|d-Martinez, F, PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Marte, J, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Rosario, W, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Martinez, C, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Perez, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Alvarez, H, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
a-Doubled for Rosario, W in the 6th. b-Tripled for Lee in the 6th. c-Flied out for Marte in the 6th. d-Popped out for Viciedo in the 7th.
2B: Altuve (1, Skaggs), Valle (1, Pomeranz).
3B: Profar (1, Gibson).
HR: Silverio (1, 6th inning off Pomeranz, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Marte; Altuve 3; Schoop; Viciedo; Silverio 4; Valle 2; Profar 3.
RBI: Silverio 2 (2), Valle (1), Profar (1).
2-out RBI: Silverio 2; Valle; Profar.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Liddi; Viciedo; Fuentes.
Team RISP: 1-for-5.
Team LOB: 6.
CS: Schoop (1, 2nd base by Gibson/Romine).
PO: Schoop (1st base by Gibson).
DP: 2 (Liddi-Altuve-Alonso, Lee-Altuve-Alonso).
|Brown, G, CF||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||.500|
|Miller, S, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Harvey, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
a-Doubled for Kipnis in the 5th. b-Struck out for Machado in the 5th.
2B: Green 2 (2, Perez, M, Herrera), Beckham (1, Herrera), Arenado (1, Herrera).
HR: Kipnis (1, 1st inning off Teheran, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Kipnis 4; Green 4; Beckham 2; Mesoraco; Romine 2; Middlebrooks; Arenado 2; Brown, G.
RBI: Kipnis (1), Myers (1), Green (1), Beckham (1), Romine (1), Arenado (1).
2-out RBI: Green; Romine; Arenado.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Beckham; Darnell.
GIDP: Middlebrooks; Myers.
Team RISP: 4-for-10.
Team LOB: 4.
SB: Brown, G (1, 2nd base off Perez, M/Rosario, W).
Pickoffs: Gibson (Schoop at 1st base).
|Alvarez, H (H, 1)||1.0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Vizcaino (H, 1)||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Herrera (BS, 1)(L, 0-1)||0.2||4||3||3||0||1||0||40.50|
|Peacock (H, 1)||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Miller, S (H, 1)||1.0||1||0||0||1||1||0||0.00|
|Moore (H, 1)||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Thornburg (H, 1)||1.0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Pomeranz (BS, 1)||0.2||3||4||4||1||1||1||54.00|
|Cosart (W, 1-0)||1.0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|Turner (H, 1)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Harvey, M (S, 1)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
Balk: Perez, M.
HBP: Mesoraco (by Martinez, C).
Pitches-strikes: Teheran 19-13, Hendriks 18-10, Paxton 6-4, Martinez, C 11-6, Perez, M 23-11, Alvarez, H 11-6, Vizcaino 6-5, Herrera 23-14, Marinez 11-8, Skaggs 17-11, Peacock 9-7, Miller, S 20-12, Moore 11-9, Thornburg 10-7, Pomeranz 23-14, Gibson 16-11, Cosart 10-8, Turner 9-6, Harvey, M 3-1.
Groundouts-flyouts: Teheran 1-1, Hendriks 2-1, Paxton 2-1, Martinez, C 1-0, Perez, M 1-0, Alvarez, H 2-1, Vizcaino 2-0, Herrera 0-1, Marinez 0-0, Skaggs 1-1, Peacock 1-0, Miller, S 2-0, Moore 2-0, Thornburg 2-1, Pomeranz 0-0, Gibson 0-2, Cosart 0-1, Turner 0-1, Harvey, M 1-0.
Batters faced: Teheran 4, Hendriks 5, Paxton 3, Martinez, C 3, Perez, M 5, Alvarez, H 4, Vizcaino 3, Herrera 6, Marinez 1, Skaggs 5, Peacock 3, Miller, S 5, Moore 3, Thornburg 4, Pomeranz 6, Gibson 5, Cosart 3, Turner 2, Harvey, M 1.
Inherited runners-scored: Marinez 1-0, Gibson 1-1.
Umpires: HP: Ben May. 1B: Will Little. 2B: Jimmy Volpi. 3B: Scott Mahoney.
Weather: 74 degrees, roof closed.
Wind: 1 mph, Varies.
***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the 2011 Home Run Derby and All-Star Futures Game. You can follow Rob on Twitter.***
Friday, July 8, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports): With the World Team roster covered here on the Reports, we now bring you the potent line-up of Team USA. They are highlighted by standouts Mike Trout (LAA) [named to the squad but just called up to the Angels] and Bryce Harper (WAS). Team USA also boasts an electric mix of pitching arms, including Shelby Miller (STL) and Jacob Turner (DET).
Jarred Cosart – RHP –Texas – PHI –Clearwater Threshers – A – Florida State League
Jarred sits in the mid 90s and has touched 99 in some starts. This is his second straight year at the Futures Game, although he did not pitch last year. He has average command, as witnessed by his 36 walks in 92 innings, but if he can improve upon that, many scouts see him as a frontline starter.
Kyle Gibson – RHP –Indiana – MIN –Rochester Red Wings – AAA – International League
Gibson has the look of a middle of the rotation innings eater. His fastball has late sink, which gets him a ton of ground balls. With better defense as he moves up, and his ability to throw strikes, he could be a fairly useful 3rd starter.
Matt Harvey – RHP –Connecticut – NYM –Binghamton Mets – AA – Eastern League
Harvey pretty much carved up the Florida State League earlier in the year, but in 3 starts in AA, he has not been able to get past the 5th inning. He strikes a lot of guys out, and doesn’t walk many. As he matures and makes adjustments, he should succeed. He is expected to fast track to the Mets rotation, possibly as early as 2012.
Shelby Miller – RHP –Texas – STL –Springfield Cardinals – AA –Texas League
Ranked as the 4th pitcher in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, Miller has been skyrocketing through the ranks, as he got to AA before his 21st birthday. Miller has struck out 119 batters in 91 innings, while his WHIP sits at 1.10. His fastball usually sits in the low 90s with sink and run. He also possesses an above average changeup and a good curveball. Miller has all the tools to win a Cy Young Award someday.
Matt Moore – LHP –Florida – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League
Moore is rated 3rd overall on BA’s list, and has top of the rotation stuff. He led the minor leagues in strikeouts in both 2009 and 2010, collecting 384K in 267 IP between High-A and AA. Moore has picked up where he left off, with 125 K already this season. His best pitch is a curveball from a low ¾ arm slot.
Brad Peacock – RHP –Florida – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League
Another pitcher who seems to finally have put it all together, he has 129 K and hitters have a paltry .179 average against him. Peacock is wiry and should fill out to increase his velocity. I see him as a mid rotation guy with a good fastball and breaking ball and decent change.
Drew Pomeranz – LHP –Tennessee – CLE –Kinston Indians – A –Carolina League
Pomeranz sits at 92 with his fastball, with good command. His breaking ball can be a plus, although it is inconsistent. He keeps the ball in the yard, and due to his large workhorse type frame, he could be an innings eater at the number 2 or 3 spot in a rotation.
Tyler Skaggs – LHP –California – ARI –Visalia Rawhide – A –California League
Skaggs has gained 15 pounds over the offseason, which has allowed him to raise his velocity a couple notches. For a lefty who throws from a ¾ slot, he has surprisingly little movement. His changeup has improved this year, which makes me believe his ceiling could be as a number 2 starter, but most likely settles in the 3-4 range.
Tyler Thornburg – RHP –Texas – MIL –Brevard County Manatees – A –FloridaState League
This 3rd rounder in 2010 has simply overmatched his competition so far this year. With an ERA under 2.00, and opponents hitting under .200 against him, even after a move up to the Florida State League, Thornburg has the tools to succeed. He has a good fastball and a power curve while his changeup needs time to develop. If it doesn’t, a career in a setup role is possible.
Jacob Turner – RHP –Missouri – DET –Erie Sea Wolves – AA – Eastern League
Turner has a heavy fastball with late life that sits around 93, touching 95. He has a sharp, but inconsistent curveball, which if he polishes, could be a devastating combo out of the pen. For a guy who just turned 20 playing AA, Turner has pitched very well with a K:BB ratio at 2.7:1. Opponents have also only hit .233 off of him.
Devin Mesoraco – C –Pennsylvania – CIN –Louisville Bats – AAA – International League
Catchers with 25-30 homerun power are so rare that they often get moved to first base or even the outfield. Mesoraco’s defense is average at best, so the move does seem likely in a few years. Mesoraco walks a fair amount and is a doubles hitting machine, which makes me think he will be an above average regular by 2013.
Austin Romine – C –California – NYY –Trenton Thunder – AA – Eastern League
Romine hasn’t wowed anyone with his bat, but has shown steady improvements from year to year. In his second year of AA he has raised his average, OBP and OPS. He has a cannon for an arm and quick feet, although his receiving isn’t quite ready. He could be a solid regular in a few years if the Yankees give him the chance.
Nolan Arenado – 3B –California –COL –Modesto Nuts – A- California League
This big, strong third baseman has decent feet and an average arm, so I see him being Todd Helton’s replacement in the future. He has a power bat that should develop even further as he matures. Arenado doesn’t strike out much and walks enough to have a decent OBP, so his bat will suffice at any position.
Tim Beckham – SS – Georgia – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League
Although he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of his number 1 overall selection in the 2008 draft, he has shown enough skill to keep moving up the ladder. Every year, his numbers have improved, and I believe he is close to a breakout. He is still a plus defender which will keep him in the big leagues for a very long time.
James Darnell – 3B –California – SD –Tucson Padres – AAA –Pacific Coast League
Darnell just got called up to AAA after dominating Texas league pitching. His defense is simply average, and may have to move to a corner outfield. However, his bat is his plus tool, as he has shown even more improvements from his 2010 season in which he struggled. He already has 19 home runs, and has walked 52 times as opposed to only 48 strikeouts, so his approach at the plate is advanced.
Paul Goldschmidt – 1B –Delaware – ARI –Mobile Bay Bears – AA – Southern League
Goldschmidt has unreal power potential. He has been a solid hitter at every level, but has taken his game to another level this year. He already has 25 HR and 77 RBI, and he walks a ton. This guy could be in a big league uniform as early as this September, but more than likely will be sometime in 2012.
Grant Green – SS –California – OAK – Midland Rock Hounds – AA –Texas League
Green profiles as a true shortstop with slightly above average hands and arm, with the ability to produce good numbers offensively. He hit 20 HR last year in high-A, and the move to AA this year has stunted his power, but he still walks and gets on base at a good clip. He isn’t flashy but he gets the job done and could be one of the better regular shortstops in the league.
Jason Kipnis – 2B –Illinois – CLE –Columbus Clippers – AAA – International League
This former center fielder shifted to 2B, where his lack of range still limits him to being only an average defender. However, his bat will keep him in the big leagues for many years. His numbers have improved every year, despite moving up a level. He walks at a good rate and has some pop. Doesn’t have a high ceiling, but what you see is what you will get.
Manny Machado – SS –Florida – BAL –Frederick Keys – A –Carolina League
Machado is still thin, but looks like he could fill out, in which case a move to third would be warranted. He has a plus arm and solid footwork to go along with his very soft hands. Although he has struggled a bit since being called up to high-A, he has the IQ to really succeed at the plate. He takes pitches and isn’t afraid to hit with 2 strikes.
Will Middlebrooks – 3B –Texas – BOS –Portland Sea Dogs – AA – Eastern League
Middlebrooks has had a slow ascent through the minors, and with continued production, he could get a look at the big leagues by next year. He is a solid defender at third, with a good bat. Needs to work on discipline as his K:BB ratio is at 59:18. Could be a regular in the big leagues by 2013.
Gary Brown – CF –California – SF –San Jose Giants – A –California League
Brown has absolutely blazing speed, with a very good bat. He has stolen 35 bags, but also been caught 14 times, so he must learn to choose his spots more wisely. Brown also shows the ability to hit for power, stroking doubles in the gaps consistently.
Bryce Harper – RF –Nevada – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League
By now, everyone knows the legend of Bryce Harper, and he has lived up to the billing. He dominated the Arizona Fall League as a taxi squad player, and showed enough early in A-ball to warrant a call-up straight to AA. The fact that Harper could even surpass people’s expectations is astounding, and I believe he could be a September roster addition for the Nationals.
Wil Myers – OF –North Carolina – KC – Northwest Arkansas Naturals – AA –Texas League
Myers moved from catcher to outfield in the fall of 2010, and this move should pay off for him in the long run. He is aggressive at all times, and he is extremely raw still. He lost part of the season due to an infection from a cut, so he is just rounding into form now. AA has been tough for him, but his tools will shine in the long run. One of the favorites of the Reports, keep an eye on this kid.
Matthew Szczur – OF –New Jersey – CHI Cubs –Peoria Chiefs – A –Midwest League
Szczur has tremendous speed and he covers a lot of ground in the outfield. He hits well for average, but hasn’t quite developed his power yet. This could happen as he matures. He walks at a decent clip, and has the ability to steal a ton of bases, so he could be a mainstay near the top of the Cubs line-up.
**Mike Trout – CF – New Jersey – LAA –Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – MLB
As I began writing this, it was reported that Trout had been recalled to the big league team, and no replacement has yet been named. Trout does everything well, and many people were very excited to see him play alongside Harper. He may not offer as much power as Harper, but he might be one of the fastest players in the big leagues.
Many people will be disappointed that Trout and Harper won’t be playing alongside each other in the Team USA outfield in the Worlds Game, but there is so much talent at this year’s event that nobody will leave Chase Field disappointed. MLB`s ability to showcase not only current talent, but future stars, highlighted by this year’s fanfest events, make the MLB All-Star Weekend festivities the best of any of the major sports. Get ready for an explosive Futures Game this Sunday, as the youngsters duel for the spotlight and the chance to make the major leagues one day soon.
***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Futures Game, preview of the World Team. You can follow Rob on Twitter.***