Catching Up On Transactions

Catching Up On TransactionsLost amid the excitement of the Michael Morse trade and the arbitration-avoiding deals with six players was another couple of pickups in the minors, as reported in Baseball America’s latest transaction post:

  • RHP Casey Upperman
  • OF Delwyn Young

Upperman* is a 22-year-old who was released by Arizona last April. He has had the “requisite” Tommy John surgery, which is presumably why he did not pitch in 2011 after throwing 25⅔ innings in 2010 as a 47th-round pick from Yavapai College (Prescott, AZ). Prior to his surgery, you can see in his scouting video from MLB.com, he threw in the low 90s with movement and a slow bender. As you might imagine, there’s not much else written about him, given his limited innings and subpar results (5.96/1.675/6.7/8.1). *With that surname, we can only hope he never tests positive for amphetamines (*rimshot!*)

As previously reported, Young is a former L.A. Dodgers/Pittsburgh utilityman who played 35 games last summer for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. He spent 2011 in AAA for the Phillies and was cut at the end of Spring Training by the White Sox in 2012.

Welcome Back, A.J. Cole

With the three-way trade of Michael Morse, 2010 4th Rd. pick A.J. Cole has returned to the Washington Nationals organization.

Cole, who had been dealt away 13 months ago in the trade for Gio Gonzalez, was acquired along with 24-year-old Blake Treinin and the ubiquitous “Player To Be Named Later” from Oakland for OF-1B Michael Morse, with Seattle sending Oakland C John Jaso to round out the deal.

Cole’s 2012 season was a rough one, getting pounded in his first eight starts for 60 hits including seven HR’s and seven losses for High-A Stockton before the A’s dropped him down to Low-A Beloit of the Midwest League. He rebounded to post a 6-3 record and a 2.07 ERA, which would have been league-best had he thrown more innings.

Scouts identified a tendency to fly open and leave his pitches up during his time with Stockton, but the better news for Nats fans is that his velocity, which had faded badly during his H.S. senior year, has returned and his control remains very good (1.8BB/9 for Beloit). His changeup has also reportedly improved, but his breaking ball — a slurve of sorts — remains a work in progress, which is not uncommon for A-ball prospects.

Given his age and praise, I’ve put Cole immediately onto the 2013 Watchlist.

Treinin is an unusual story, spending time but not pitching at the varsity level for Baker University and Arkansas before finally getting to pitch for South Dakota State in 2010, his junior year. He was drafted in 2010 by Florida in the 23rd round but had his contract voided when an MRI indicated damage. A strong senior season moved him up to the 7th Round, when Oakland took him and sent him to Low-A Burlington for 27 relief innings after a three-inning look-see in the Arizona League.

Treinin features a mid-90s fastball and what Sickels called “a workable slider” in his book last season. He also throws a change. As predicted by Sickels, the 24-year-old was given a shot at starting last summer and went 7-7 with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP with good peripherals (2.0BB/9IP, 8.0K/9IP). It’s too soon to tell what the Nats have planned for him, but a guess would be that if he starts, it’s Potomac; if he relieves, he might have a chance at Harrisburg.

Spring Training Invites Trickling In (UPDATED)

More ST cutsIt’s a weird world we live in when a mere tweet can be the peg for a news story.

Such was the case yesterday when Jake Skole, the younger sibling of Matt Skole, congratulated his brother on his invite to Washington Nationals spring training, prompting this story from Byron Kerr, who confirmed it independently. The younger Skole’s feelings were echoed by teammate Jason Martinson (both of which I retweeted).

Hours later, Ryan Tatusko gave out the props to his AAA teammate Zach Walters for the same honor. Neither invite has been officially confirmed as of this writing, with the Nationals PR Twitter account dark since Friday.

Like most non-roster invitees, Skole and Walters do not have a strong chance of making the parent club this spring, but the invite is significant nevertheless because it means more time spent in Viera with the major-league coaches.

The logical inference is that both will spend time working on their defense. Walters has been pegged by some as having a future as a utilityman, and if so, will need to refine his defense at the non-SS positions and learn the OF, a la Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore last year.

Skole spent time at 1B in the Arizona Fall League and it’s probably fair to deduce he’ll spend more time learning the position, given that No. 1 prospect Anthony Rendon also plays 3B (and some other guy in DC).

Finally, in keeping with the theme of news-by-Twitter, MLB.com beat reporter Bill Ladson is reporting that former Dodgers/Pirates UT Delwyn Young has been signed to minor-league deal with no invite. The 30-year-old Young, perhaps most famous in Nats lore for hitting a two-run HR in Stephen Strasburg’s MLB debut in 2010, played just 35 games in 2012 with the Camden Riversharks after failing to make the White Sox out of Spring Training.

UPDATE:
This afternoon the Nationals officially announced the spring-training invites of LHPs Fernando Abad, Bill Bray, Brandon Mann, RHP Ross Ohlendorf and IF Will Rhymes, which were previously reported here, here, there, and everywhere, along with the official announcements for Skole and Walters.

They also extended non-roster invitations to C Carlos Maldonado, LHP Pat McCoy, and RHP Tanner Roark and officially announced that pitchers and catchers are due to report on February 12, position players on February 15.

All Quiet On The Minor-League Front

As Spike used to say... mehPerhaps the most depressing thing is that this is the third time I’ve had to write this kind of post, thanks to the news slowdown. Today’s spring-like weather certainly won’t help because, like the first full week after a long weekend (or, say, a winter break), when it gets cold again (it is January, after all,) it’ll seem just a little worse.

Just like last January, there’s blather chatter from the “A” ball affiliates regarding new facilities. In Hagerstown, a grandstanding city councilman suggests putting out a bid for ballpark proposals, which sounds reasonable to folks unfamiliar with how minor-league baseball operates. Ballpark Digest explains why that’s a chimera.

Meanwhile, in Potomac, the filet mignon that’s going to be tomorrow night’s special at the diner is scheduled to be one of the highlights of the P-Nats’ Hot Stove Banquet next week. If that sounds familiar, well, perhaps that’s because you’ve seen it before. (For those wondering, the Senators’ event is on the 26th, the Chiefs hold theirs on February 1st, while Doubledays are on the 2nd.)

Not much else to report, unfortunately. Feel free to discuss in the comments.

Transaction Update

20120
The latest transaction post from Baseball America is in and it’s the beginning of comings and goings to/from the farm. First, the additions:

  • RHP Ross Ohlendorf
  • LHP Sean West
  • C Joe Witkowski

Ohlendorf, a former stalwart in the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation, has been largely ineffective since suffering a shoulder strain in 2011. He began 2012 with the Boston Red Sox, opting out of his contract and signing with the San Diego Padres, where he was pounded for a 7.77ERA (yes, even in Petco Park) over 13 appearances last summer.

West was the 44th pick overall from the 2005 draft by the Florida Marlins and made it to the majors in 2009 but has been frequently injured, not pitching at all in 2012, and spending most of 2010 and 2011 in AAA New Orleans.

Witkowski was signed as an NDFA by the Houston Astros in 2011, playing in the GCL for 18 games and released last June, shortly after the draft.

Now, the subtractions…

  • LHP Bobby Hansen
  • 2B Hendry Jimenez
  • C Jeremy Mayo
  • 1B Brett Newsome
  • OF Tony Nix
  • LHP Joe Testa

Some familiar names here, with three of these six having spent five (or more) seasons in the system (’07 IFA Jimenez, ’08 draft pick Hansen, and ’08 NDFA Newsome), Mayo an inaugural watchlister, and Testa coming via the Matt Capps trade in July 2010.

Nats Import Lefty From Japan

Big In JapanUnfortunately, he’s an American returning back to affiliated baseball for the first time in three years. Sorry.

Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com has reported that LHP Brandon Mann has signed a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals. The deal also includes an invite to spring training.

The 28-year-old southpaw has spent the past two seasons in Japan with the Yokohama BayStars, going 1-1 with a 1.16 ERA in 12 relief appearances in 2011, but just 2-8 with a 5.32 ERA (though a decent 1.357 WHIP) in 15 starts in 2012. He was originally drafted by Tampa Bay in the 27th Rd. of the 2002 draft as a HS pick from Des Moines, WA.

Mann reached as high as AA in 2009 when he went 7-9 with a 4.44 ERA in 27 appearances (21 starts) with Montgomery. As a MLFA, he hooked on with the L.A. Dodgers in 2010 but was dropped down to High-A and released after 37 games in relief, going 3-0 but posting a 4.12 ERA and a 1.833 WHIP. He was picked up by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs later that season and made five starts for a 1-2 record and a 5.14 ERA, 1.643 WHIP.

Initial 2013 Player Reports Completed

As the previous post indicated, I’ve been working on the player reports for the 2013 Watchlist and have completed the “first draft,” if you will. After the book from Baseball America and the .PDF from John Sickels are received and reviewed, I’ll fill in the “Report Not Yet Written” entries and revise/rewrite the others as needed.

With the signing of Adam LaRoche, we can hope that the dominoes will begin to fall elsewhere in baseball, eventually rippling down to the AAA and AA levels. Invariably, folks are talking trade for Michael Morse, which GM Mike Rizzo can deny isn’t inevitable with all the sincerity of a college basketball coach.
Personally, I’d much rather write a story about “the new guys” than run another pic of Spike forlornly looking out the back window, but I digress.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments while we wait out the winter.

Plugging Away At The Player Reports

Plugging AwayAs mentioned previously, we’re in a slow stretch here… typical of this time of year, but still a bit painful.

I know the casual fans are dying for new on if/when/whether Adam LaRoche will re-sign, a drama which is playing out elsewhere in MLB — most notably in St. Louis, where Kyle Lohse must wonder if he’s a convertible in an Alaskan used-car lot. For those confused by the bad metaphor, Lohse is one of a handful of free agents, along with LaRoche, who received a qualifying offer that requires the signing team to lose a draft pick and a share of their 2013 Draft bonus purse.

Confused? Well, there’s a reason why front offices can have more law degrees than baseball pedigrees. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold outlines the added cost of signing such a free agent, which might explain this tortoise fight.

As the headline says, I’ve finished the final two essays — DSL Guys and M*A*S*H — and have done what I can (sans the prospect books for the guys I haven’t seen) for the catchers, first basemen, LHPs, and RHPs.

Final Winter League Update

With the close of the Venzuelan League’s regular season, we can now take a look at the final numbers of the Nationals players in the 2012-13 winter leagues.
VWL HITTERS
VWL Hitters 1-4-13
DWL HITTERS
DWL Hitters 1-4-13
PRWL HITTERS
PWL Hitters 1-4-13
VWL PITCHER

DWL PITCHERS
DWL Pitchers 1-4-13
PRWL PITCHER
PWL Pitcher 1-4-13
MWL PITCHERS
MWL Pitchers 1-4-13



As I semi-predicted, the latest BA Transaction post was indeed no new news. Still a bit surprising is how slow the FA market has been in terms of former Nationals — just four have signed thus far. Even the Nationals themselves have been less active than last offseason — just nine signed as opposed to 15 by this time last year.

Notable Essays Added To The 2013 Watchlist

It’s back to work and back to school for most folks today, as the too-long-for-parents winter break is finally over. As the headline says, I’ve completed the essays for the Notable Arms and Notable Bats and will be working on the other portions of the list that can be done without the books by John Sickels and Baseball America.

This, of course, is a tough time for the minor-league baseball blogger fan. Beyond one more winter-league update and the next transactions post from BA, which could very well only contain the signings from last weekend, it’s a waiting game.

As always, I’ll do my best to keep the site fresh, even it means, um, well, a post like this. Happy New Year!