Stories From Camp That I’m Reading, pt. 2
I’m thinking this could be a regular thing for spring training, or at the very least, I’m hoping they still give me material for it throughout. Here are some mostly minor league tidbits from the past week with some commentary and the occasional tangent.
• The recent intrasquad game gave the beat writers a forum to talk about top prospects 2B Dustin Ackley and RHP Michael Pineda. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times talked of both, mentioning that Pineda was 6’3 by the time he was 14. Resume unwarranted age speculations if you feel like it, I’ll be in the bunker. News out of camp is that Pineda’s slider, not his change-up, is the one that needs work. Ackley, meanwhile, is improving on the double play pivots and the like. As Jeff at LL pointed out, if Ackley and Pineda don’t break camp with the M’s, defense and secondary offerings are likely to be the cited reasons. For his part, Wedge seems to be fine handling a younger club, which is certainly better than the alternative.
• Regarding the recent game of the Mariners versus the Mariners, Kirby Arnold notes late in his wrap that bullpen hopefuls Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke both struggled. The collective sigh of relief from the roughly fifty NRI pitchers was heard in the adjacent Padres complex.
• Also in the Herald was a feature on third baseman Matt Mangini. There’s been some talk of his lack of defense at the hot corner, particularly for those of us who saw him towards the end of last season. This article informs the public of something that I heard a couple of months back, which is that Mangini was playing with a partially torn quadriceps from July on. He might have even gone to Arizona or Venezuela had the Mariners let him, but it was probably a good thing for him to not do that.
Additionally, there was some talk of the live pitching BP earlier in the week. Josh Wilson thinks Pineda fits the prototype of the perfect right-handed pitcher, which I hope he didn’t say within earshot of Felix. Pineda also managed to break one of Milton Bradley’s bats on a foul ball. Carlos Peguero hit a home run off of Manny Declarmen which may have left the stadium entirely, and for the past few days I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s Peguero doing well or Declarmen just not being the same pitcher he used to be. Jack Wilson hit a dinger off Garret Olson too and man I have no idea what to say about that either.
• The TNT did a write-up on probable back-up catcher Adam Moore. Strange to think that he went from roughly the third-best prospect in the org to a .513 OPS and a 19% CS over sixty games last season. While he’s not a young guy by prospect standards (and not even technically a prospect), catchers are known to take more time to establish themselves than other players, something that we’ve repeated so often that this sentence is practically filler. Regardless of one’s opinion on him and his future, and I’ve slowly come around on him over the years, he’s still probably the best available option that we have internally, Olivo aside. The higher levels were filled with minor league FAs, High Desert’s Trevor Coleman was one of their worst hitters, and no catcher in Clinton caught more than 45 games last season, with Baron as the only one who was under 23.
Speaking of Baron here are two lines to consider:
Player A: 62 G, 227 AB, 29 R, 55 H, 18 2B, 3B, HR, 26 RBI, 5 SB, 2 CS, 38/16 K/BB, .242/.314/.344
Player B: 53 G, 198 AB, 18 R, 50 H, 12 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 22 RBI, SB, 60/6 K/BB, .253/.282/.379
Either of those look familiar? Line B is Steve Baron’s line in Everett last season at the age of nineteen. Line A is Rene Rivera in Everett at eighteen. At this point, Baron could hope for the Rivera career path.
• Other TNT stories: I’m a known sucker for relievers out of Austin Peay based off a sample size of two, so here’s a story on Shawn Kelley and how he didn’t actually need a second Tommy John surgery. His ETA is still late May. There’s also a bit on probable fifth starter David Pauley and his journey back to the big leagues. While there is mention of him adding muscle over the offseason, he is not reported to be in the Best Shape of His Life and has to compete with Michael Pineda, and that’s two quick strikes out of the gate. Also noteworthy from the last section: Milton Bradley was hug-ambushed by Mike Wilson and Greg Halman. Somewhere, Mike Sweeney is smiling.
• Greg Johns has a picture of Jack Cust wearing an outfielder’s glove, which is my second-favorite Jack Cust item this spring next to him trying to imitate Ichiro’s style early in camp.
• Shannon Drayer has been a good source of minor league features thus far, and had another one this week on right-hander Blake Beavan, who basically pulled a Ryan Anderson with the media after being drafted by his hometown team, minus the multiple arm injuries and three inches of height. He’s more humble now and has moved away from blowing guys away in favor of less velocity and greater command.
• MyNorthwest.com talked a little about the systems they have in place in the minor leagues to teach English to the international players that have long been a vital component of farm system. Yes, there is a reference to taking your geoduck to Puyallup. I have a friend who speaks ten+ languages fluently, but I can pronounce Puyallup and he can’t.
• Jason Churchill is another guy who is previewing the 2011 draft three+ months in advance, touching on a number of the top names in consideration. At the end, he also has a brief write-up of the top 10 picks in the Pacific Northwest, roughly half of which could go to the Rays in their ten picks before the second round.