Pitchers of the year and some Rule 5 / 40-man thoughts. Today, the news. Arizona Fall League
1B Chris McGuiness (.304/.400/.519) is having himself a grand time in Arizona, leading the league with four homers and 25 RBI. He has as many walks (12) as strikeouts. I expect McGuiness to man first base at Round Rock's Dell Diamond next April 4th.
Shortstop Hanser Alberto continues to be unfazed by all the oldsters around him, extending his hitting streak to eight games and his line to .352/.379/.463. Equally adept and even younger Luis Sardinas (.333/.364/.476) went 2-4 with a double in an MLB-televised game last Saturday.
Catcher Kellin Deglan has gunned down six of 12 baserunners, second-best in the league. He's hitting .188/.278/.281 in eight games after walking and blasting his first AFL homer this afternoon. Deglan improved marginally at the plate while repeating low-A this year, but he's not been an offensive force, so it's understandable that he's finding the AFL a serious challenge. He'll almost certainly start 2013 in high-A Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach 1B Brett Nicholas joined Surprise and drew a walk in a pinch-hit appearance. Drafted as a catcher in the 6th round of 2010 out of Missouri, Nicholas spent most of 2012 at 1B, batting .285/.351/.413 with eight homers in 122 games.
On the mound, lefty Jimmy Reyes (0.79 ERA) finally allowed a run in his eighth appearance on a hit, walk and HBP in 1.1 innings. He's walked just the one batter and fanned eight of 44 batters faced. Righty Ryan Rodebaugh (2.84 ERA) is unscored upon in his last six outings and has struck out just under 25% of opposing hitters in 12 innings.
Ben Rowen (3.75 ERA) gave up an unearned run Saturday and struck out two of five batters. After walking only three batters in the entire regular season, he's issued five freebies in 12 AFL innings. Starter Ben Henry (10.50 ERA) has struggled with his control, most recently yielding four walks in a two-inning start that led to four runs. Liga de Beisbol Profesional de la Republica Dominicana, aka LIDOM
Engel Beltre (.392/.456/.627) leads the league in average, on-base percentage, and triples (five). He's been strictly a corner outfielder so far but is of MLB quality in center. CF Leonys Martin (.282/.363/.436) has ten walks in 18 games and success on six of seven stolen-base attempts. MIke Olt (.286/.457/.486 in 12 games) missed several days after taking a pitch to the helmet. He's fine now. Olt has split time between 3B, 1B and right field.
Joining those three on Licey last Friday was Jurickson Profar (.333/.385/.667). Profar went 3-4 in his first game and on Sunday shrugged off four hitless at-bats with a game-ending solo shot.
Playing for Gigantes, 2B Leury Garcia (.286/.321/.442) endured a nine-game stretch in which he reached safely only eight times. Garcia then went 2-4 against Licey on Sunday. New Ranger and Garcia teammate Konrad Schmidt is hitting .152/.221/.152 in 16 games.
Licey's Chad Bell (7.45 ERA) allowed six runs across a couple of one-inning outings after tossing five scoreless on November 1. Carlos Pimentel (10.57 ERA) gave up six runners and five runs in a 1.2-inning start last Wednesday. Liga Mexicana del Pacifico
Busy OF Joey Butler is hitting .239/.357/.338 for Mazatlan in 20 games, while catcher Jose Felix has a robust if odd line of .387/.375/.484. Felix hasn't drawn a walk in 11 games, which is nothing new. Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional
Lefty reliever Joe Ortiz, who finished 2012 in Round Rock, has a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 11.1 innings. Starter Wilfredo Boscan leads the league with his 0.81 ERA. His peripherals aren't quite that gaudy: 15 strikeouts and 24 baserunners in 22.1 innings.
Lacking the upper-minors experience of the other two, Arlett Mavare has produced a couple of scoreless outings to bring his ERA down to 7.50. Mavare has walked five in six innings, unusual for him.
OF Eduard Pinto has a double and single in eight appearances, mostly as an in-game replacement. You'll read his name frequently next summer. Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico)
Puerto Rico began only last week. The Rangers have eight active players by my count, all with Leones de Ponce. Catcher Jorge Alfaro has started strong with six hits including a double in his first three games. 1B/LF Brandon Snyder connected on two doubles and a homer in his second game. 1B Mike Bianucci (1-12, two strikeouts) is making contact without positive results so far.
20-year-old lefty Alexander Claudio (a hero of the rookie-league championship squad) gave up two runs in a four-inning start last night. 24-year-old undrafted righty Jon Edwards offered an inning of scoreless relief to Claudio, and righty Tim Murphy (a Frisco reliever) retired five in order. Last Thursday, Angelo Leclerc (another rookie-league hurler) was touched for two runs on a hit and three walks in one inning, while Alex de la Cruz (a 20-year-old righty who's yet to appear in the US) tossed one scoreless frame.
Also pitching for Leones is ex-Ranger and Friend of the Newberg Report Ryan Tatusko. Australia Baseball League
OF Hirotoshi Onaka is hitting .333/.385/.417 in three game with Brisbane. Additions
Per local reports, Texas signed several players to minor-league contracts. Most notable is 26-year-old OF Aaron Cunningham, the former Oakland prospect (via Arizona and the White Sox) whose #55 ranking among Baseball America's top 100 prospects in 2009 has not led to much MLB success (.219/.280/.347 in 222 games). Cunningham was part of the eight-man Dan Haren trade between Oakland and Arizona. He's Dell Diamond-bound.
Joining him in the outfield is 27-year-old Jim Adduci, who hit a better-than-usual .298/.371/.419 between AA and AAA with the Cubs. He spent 2010 on Chicago's 40-man roster. Also coming over from the Cubs is Juan Apodaca, a 26-year-old catcher who played for the same squads and hit similarly (.291/.407/.399). He's batting .229/.333/.286 in the Venezuelan League. Finally, Texas signed 26-year-old righty and ex-Snake Yonata Ortega. Topping out at AA to date, Ortega has consistently fanned at least a batter per inning but has walked or hit one of every seven opponents. Arizona protected him on its 40-man roster after 2010 but waived him last August. Assuming they stick, they could spend time in Frisco and/or Round Rock. Business
Dell and the Round Rock Express renewed their naming-rights deal for another ten seasons. The Express are installing a new high-def scoreboard (to replace the one that isn't particularly old, if memory serves) plus panels along the outfield wall.
The MLB Network carried Surprise's AFL game last Saturday night. The announcers mentioned Mitch Moreland as a comparable for Chris McGuiness. They even had a graphic in case you'd muted them. Now, they have generally similar, mature approaches at the plate, but beyond that their greatest similarity is simply being first basemen in the Texas organization. If McGuiness were really comparable to Moreland, we'd have heard his name in trade talks for relief help last summer and to this very day as part of a package for Justin Upton. We haven't, to my knowledge.
I would have liked more context. Are they talking strictly about his approach (no problem)? Is Moreland McGuiness's ceiling (…well… maybe)? Is Moreland-like production his median outcome (absolutely not)? Somebody out there will be disappointed if McGuiness doesn't turn out like Moreland, and that's a terrible way of evaluating him. Moreland was much more highly regarded during his time in the minors.
When you hear comps, keep in mind the comp will almost always be an established Major Leaguer. Nobody on a broadcast is going to say "McGuiness is the next Brad Nelson, an excellent AAA hitter the Rangers happily re-signed last winter" or "McGuiness is a more patient Chad Tracy."
Nothing against McGuiness, I promise. He's hitting well in Surprise. He's got a chance. But with the vast majority of prospects, the baseline prediction should be failure to establish an MLB career, then an assessment of what the player could do to beat the odds. The math demands it. I don't think comparing McGuiness to Mitch Moreland helps anyone.
Newberg Report (newbergreport.com)