31 December 2008

Excuses, Excuses

Actually having some time to write and putting off grading final exams were two really good reasons to get back into the groove of contributing to the Capra weblog. Little did I expect that writer's block would be my nemesis. I looked back at some older articles and thought about doing an update on some of them or just the S11 version of the same thing, but those looked like too much work. Instead, just about five minutes ago I came up with

Fargo's Obituary

The Fargo Woodchippers, aged ten seasons, were officially declared dead by the Powers That Be at 9:52 pm on the seventeenth of December, 2008. Their death was a slow, gradual decline from the peak of perfection into listlessness and later abandonment by their caregiver, known fondly as Brett. These things do happen, as intangibles such as “real life” and “wow, this takes up way too much time” have reclaimed the lives of several others whom we have all come to know and love. Symptoms of the Real Life disease first began in the ninth season when Fargo lasted almost a month without its helmsman. Although this franchise's demise has been such a tragedy, this obituary will focus the rest of its space on the accomplishments of a true Hardball Dynasty.

In Fargo's first nine seasons, the team won at least 101 games every year, finishing in first place in the National League's North Division and the entire National League each season as well. In most of those seasons, Fargo was the only NL team to win 100 games, demonstrating how much of a powerhouse it truly was in the regular season. As far as the entire league was concerned, Fargo's 9 seasons of 100 or more wins constituted 36% of the 100-win seasons that were logged in that span.

Much to the chagrin of Brett, the 'Chippers were not quite as successful in the postseason. Fargo received a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs every year. They turned this into three World Series championships and one other berth in the NL Championship Series. For any other club, this would be more than enough, but Fargo's clear dominance in the regular season seemed to hint at the idea that they would win more often in October. It made things more clear when Fargo won three of the first five World Series in Capra. This early success, though, probably made it more frustrating for Fargo fanatics to tune in to those postseason games in seasons 7 to 10 expecting the worst, thanks to the 100-win “kiss of death” phenomenon first made public in simleague baseball.

The Fargo Woodchippers were a true team, equipped with an embarrassment of riches but masterfully maintained and organized by Brett. They had more than their share of superstars, but they were also blessed with cogs that did their own roles very well and the upper brass kept the shelves stocked with the pieces needed to keep the Big Wood Machine fueled and in momentum.

It is quite impossible to discuss the Woodchippers without including the legends who graced Cash Field. Tracy. Ozuna. Weston. Alexander. Henderson. Frye. Prieto, Pascual, and Cruz. And more. Indeed, quite possibly the best starting pitcher, closer, center fielder/shortstop, and first baseman in Capra history were just mentioned. Let us reflect.

The best fake pitcher ever has won nearly every award he has been eligible to win. Somewhere in Ridgway, Colorado is a huge trophy case with nine Cy Young Awards in it, two Silver Slugger bats, a Rookie of the Year Award, and mementos from nine All-Star Games. Through season 10, Tracy also had 45 more wins than the highest non-Fargo pitcher and led the next-highest strikeout leader by 500 whiffs. To complete the career pitching Triple Crown, he also had more innings pitched than any non-Fargo player, although his teammate Ozuna had more. I could bore you with all the categories that Tracy led, but in the interest of time let's just say it's a lot.

The second-fiddle pitcher for Fargo has quite possibly also been the second-best hurler in Capra over these seasons. The Ageless Wonder is one of a handful of quality players who was able to sustain dominance and continue to gain ratings points after age 32. By the time most players have either become useless or retired altogether, Ozuna took another swig from the Fountain of Youth at age 36 and improved a point overall, which kept him with the same overall rating at 37 that he had at 35. From seasons 2 to 9, Ozuna threw at least 243 innings per campaign and won no fewer than 18 games in at least 38 starts. He also posted 6 seasons in that span with an ERA at or below 4.00. Through season 10, these two players amazingly threw about 34% of the Woodchippers' innings.

I do not have anything witty to say about Ringo Weston because all he did was everything. He also was blessed with a ratings gain at age 31, which is only slightly less rare than what Ozuna was doing the same season. His fielding is still rated better than when he was 30 years old, and that was 5 years ago. In 9 of his 10 seasons, Weston played in 155 games or more and never had fewer than 678 plate appearances. To go with that consistency was a career line of .307 batting average, .388 on-base percentage, and .481 slugging percentage. The Decatur, Georgia native starred at no less than 3 positions, only struck out 100 times once, and just for fun stole 16 bases in season 10. Before that he had only stolen 3. Weston was a 3-time All-Star and a good chemistry guy.

Doug Alexander was as much a reason as anybody for the success of Fargo's pitching. He caught the lion's share of the games for the greats each season while consistently getting on base, hitting for average, and throwing in some power. Alexander either won the Silver Slugger Award or was an All-Star or both in seasons 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8. His career line reads .338/.439/.501 despite some below-standard stats in season 10.

Tyler Henderson was that “greatest closer” mentioned a while ago. This is the guy with 416 career saves, or 89% of his chances, who nailed down 465 of his team's wins if you include the games that he won himself. This means that he had a hand in about 44% of his team's record-setting wins. Along the way, Henderson claimed 7 seasons of at least 40 saves, including each of the last 7 seasons and two 50-save campaigns. He was quite possibly at his best in season 9 at age 36, going 53-of-60 in saves and posting a 3.49 ERA in 100 innings. He made 6 All-Star teams and was Fireman of the Year twice.

Alexander Frye was the third of Fargo's “Big Three” starting pitchers, himself a four-time 20-game winner. His career .649 winning percentage was undoubtedly helped by going against lesser pitchers but he also has thrown more innings than any non-Fargo pitcher and seven times he submitted an ERA of 4.18 or less. Judging by All-Star selections, Frye was one of the best pitchers in the league 5 times and also has 2 of those shiny bats.

Trenidad Prieto was simply a great hitter, playing almost every day for 10 seasons and averaging 43 home runs a year. He never struck out more than 80 times and slugged over 1.000 on 4 different occasions. Prieto was a 4-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. His best year was in season 3 when he crushed 58 homers and batted in 168 runs in a 200-hit campaign that ended in a World Series championship.

Harry Pascual sometimes was lost in the shuffle of so many good players, but he was in possession of near-perfect fielding, contact, durability, and health ratings at one time and came from Cuba. He also put up a 200-hit season and had 7 seasons with over 100 walks. Sometimes he hit 40 home runs, sometimes he hit 30 triples, sometimes he almost cracked 50 doubles, but Pascual was always doing the right thing. He had 4 All-Star nods and just as many Silver Sluggers but at 2 different positions.

Vladimir Cruz was always a home run threat but again was not a strikeout machine. Season 2's World Series was made possible largely by Cruz's 63 dingers and 179 RBI in the regular season. The two-time All-Star also was decent in the field, winning 2 Gold Gloves in left.

The final puzzle piece was Brett who revolutionized HBD tactics as they were being born. He was Capra's originator of the 4 ½-man rotation, which eventually got down to about a 4-man rotation by season 4. In that year, Tracy, Ozuna, Frye, and Patrick Erickson each threw 39 starts and at least 220 innings. The next year, Brett even could move Frye to the bullpen some and that gave everybody else 40+ starts. Each of the other 3 also won 22 or 23 games. Even when Tracy missed 45 games (about 11 starts) in season 7, only 5 pitchers had more starts than relief appearances. Fargo's management did all these accomplishments, and held onto their core players, without ever spending $100 million on player salary and effectively saying "you're not important" with their budget to advanced scouting, international free agents, and the scouting portion of the draft.

Brett will be sadly missed in the new Capra landscape heading into the second ten years of Capra baseball. However, the league cannot say the same about his merry band of savvy sluggers and non-belly-itcher pitchers.

29 December 2008

On Fielding Coaches

info courtesy of crickett13.

-this is Matt's first ticket to admin:
Never saw this happen before. Capra has 12 Fielding coach vacancies and only 8 coaches available with a fielding rating over 60. Why would that happen? Should that ever happen? It seems like fielding coaches retire but new ones are never generated. This will really have a very negative impact on some teams.

admin's response:
12/29/2008 7:42 AM Customer Support

Keep in mind that a rating of 50 is average. So, it won't be detrimental to a player's development if you have a coach with an average rating. The reason that this happens is because coaches retire out of the system, they get replenished every season if necessary with either retired player's or they are created.

Matt's response to admin's response:
12/29/2008 2:35 PM crickett13

Perhaps the fielding coaches should be handled a bit differently than other coaches since they can not be developed in the minor leagues. Even if you hire a newly created guy with a 50 FR rating as a bench coach he will gain about 1-2 points a year so it would take 10 years for him to be a good ML fielding coach and in the meantime he is hurting your system in other ways because their other ratings are so low. (plus they won't accept rookie or low A positions anyway)

With hitting, bench and pitching coaches since they do coach in their specialty in the minors they gain 4-5 points and get hired to coach and develop in the minor leagues With fielding coaches they get created in the low 50's and high 40's and never get hired and can't develop in their specialty.

I think there is a fundemental flaw here and in a few seasons there will be fewer and fewer, if any, good ML fielding coaches available.

We are not expected to settle for any other ML coach with an average rating so we should not have to settle for average fielding coaches. You need to examine creating them at a higher rating or allowing the FR of coaches to develop at a faster rate while coaching in the minor leagues. Otherwise soon older leagues like Capra are going to be filled with fielding coaches with ratings of 55-65 which is not on par with other coaches at the ML level.

Here are some examples of coaches who, if FR developed faster in coaches, would soon be decent fielding instructers.

Clayton Bryant 38 yrs old Hi A BC for Scranton created in season 6. Bench Coach Inital FR 30 Initial Stratagey 44. Current ratings FR 41 Stratagey 67 now in High A. If his FR had kept pace with his stratagey he would now have a FR of 53 and would in a few years be ready to become either a bench coach or a fielding coach.

Harry Torres 41 yrs old AAA BC for Scranton created in season 2 Initial FR 24 Strat 40 current rating FR 37 strat 73 if FR had kept pace even with a horrible starting point of 24 would be 57 now.

Daniel Kinney 36 yrs old Low A BC for Tucson created in season 7initial ratings FR 30 stratagey 40. Current ratings FR 39 Strat 58. If FR kept pace he would now be 48.

Instead we get new fielding coaches like Luther Blair Unhired. Initial FR 50 strat 40. He can't be hired as a bench coach at the rookie level because he would rather be unemployed than tke 50K and have a job or perhaps he has a son who was arrested for drunk driving and he really needs more money. So instead he just dissapears after a season or 2 of not finding work. He won't find work cause nobody wants a ML coach with a rating of 50 and these guys won't accept jobs in the minor leagues.

I would encourage you to re-examine the way this works before it becomes a major problem. I see the 2 best solutions as 1) alow bench coaches to develop into viable fielding coaches during their minor league careers by allowing the FR to develop faster or 2) Keep creating fielding coaches who after 3 cycles with no offers and ratings under 60 (or in the bottom 50% or whatever cutoff you decide) to start changing their demands and asking for minor league bench coach positions. I think that the advantage of # 1 would be less hassle for everyone since you would just have to have those coaches FR develop faster. The advantage of #2 would be that the fielding coaches who have to accept low minor league bench coach positions could still have their FR advance more rapidly than their stratagey rating so they would eventually become better fielding instructers than bench coaches so you would have seperation as they progressed between who will be a good bench coach and who will be a good FI.

One last note this has to be done differently than coaches lowering their demands now is handled to give people time to hire low level bench coaches plus since most ML coaches only drop their demands to AAA these guys will not be good enough to be AAA bench coaches and still will not get jobs.

admin's response to Matt's response to admin's response: ?

14 December 2008

Rolling Threads

sickchangeup's self-explanatory thread in the HBD forum, "When Your World Rolls Over," is a good inventory checklist. It can be found here.

Now, mrdanielx has written the prequel, "Before Your World Rolls Over."

15 November 2008

Approaching the 3/4 Mark

The big development in the National League is Fargo's apparent descent from dominant into simply competitive. With 9 straight seasons over .620, the Woodchippers are on pace for a .518 year. The 'Chippers' biggest challenges have been Brett Tracy missing the first 1/3 of the season to elbow tendinitis and the aging of stalwart arms Diego Ozuna(8-10, 5.21) and Tyler Henderson(0-6, 6.40). Are we seeing the end of Capra's and maybe HBD's biggest dynasty thus far?

Hail to returning and new owners: in his return to Capra after a 5 year layoff, robocoach has taken a perennially last place team into a current tie for first in the NL South. In the AL South, canadadry, in hist 1st season in Capra, has the Juggernauts in the thick of a tight race with the highly decorated Montgomery and Jackson franchises. And in his first year manning the Fresno Force(formerly Colorado) bballc has this squad on pace for its first over .500 season since S1.

The defending champion Scranton Breakers have been on autopilot most of the seasaon as their owner(crickett13) has dealt with some challenges in his personal schedule, yet have the 2nd best record in the league at .626.

Of the top 50 players chosen in the amateur draft, only one has not and will not sign: yours truly pissed away pick #47 on Nicholas Gryboski.

Most Decorated Pitcher in HBD History?

A current thread in the HBD forum asks the above question. The previous pitchers listed were certainly strong candidates, but, of course, none of them can keep pace with Mr. Tracy. Will there be a new entry who has completed 10 seasons and can beat Brett?

27 September 2008

Flashback: robocoach vs. Patrick Spencer

With robocoach back in Capra, this is a good time to revisit how one of Capra's bigger dramas unfolded. normandevils' Pawtucket Patriots finished Season 1 of Capra with a putrid .198 win % and did not return for more in S2. robo came aboard and promptly turned the team around by winning three straight division titles, a streak that was then continued by jeclapton123 for five more seasons and running.

As the inheritor of a .198 team in S2, robocoach also owned the #1 pick in the draft. robo waivered between Patrick Spencer and Al Maurer, before finally deciding on the former since pitching is so key in HBD. robo offered Spencer a 3-year major league contract in addition to the 6m bonus Spencer was asking. However, Spencer turned down the offer remained undecided about signing for 40 some-odd cycles. Of course, robo was nonplussed to say the least and let us know about his frustration on the chat page.

Still unsure about the Spencer's status, robo signed two quality international players: Tony Park and Felipe Martinez for 9m. However, his dismay over Spencer turned to outrage when the young pitcher came back and asked for a 9.5m bonus, a figure that was now out of robo's prospect budget. robo now says, "I just didn't appreciate his dishonesty during the negociating process." Compounding things further was the fact that robo's other first round pick, a supplemental rounder, Clarence Mirabelli, also didn't sign.

As a college senior, Spencer declared free agency at the beginning of S3 in Capra and inked a 5 year/50m $ contract from the Anaheim Anteaters, where he has become a perennial all-star. However, Spencer will now have to face the owner he so brashly spurned back in the day, both on the mound and in the batting box. Stay tuned.

26 September 2008

Scranton Breakers: S9 Champs!

crickett13's Scranton squad compiled a 14-4 postseason record, including a 4-0 World Series sweep over the St. Louis Archers, en route to earning their first World Series trophy. The Breakers entered the postseason as a Wild Card, the AL's 6th and final entry, but got off to a quick start by sweeping the Albuquerque Roadrunners, and then outlasting Montgomery Montreal, before making quick work of the Archers.

20 September 2008

Coming Soon to a Ballpark Near You

Being that we are officially in season ten of Capra baseball, it seems fitting to look at some upcoming individual milestones as well as whatever else I stumble upon looking at league records. I also included some real-life comparisons with stats through the 2007 season.

Brett Simms and Julio Johnson can join all-universe slugger Walt Cashman as the second and third men to hit 400 career doubles. In real life, 154 players have hit this milestone.

The aforementioned Cashman is just a hit away from 2,000. Nobody else has 1,800, and only 24 active players have 2,000 MLB hits. He could also score his 1,350th run to pace the field.

Henry Menechino should easily reach 500 home runs this season. Rudy Lombardi (argh!) leads a list of guys just a stone's throw from 400 after he hit exactly 100 in the minors. This year, Gary Sheffield became the 25th player to hit 500 home runs. Kip White, Trenidad Prieto, et al lead the pack behind Menechino and Lombardi. If history repeats itself, though, a free-agent like Prieto will go unsigned until after the rule 5 draft, and he'll have to sign for peanuts.

Unless he lands a starting gig somewhere, Jeffrey Brow will pick up his 150th career pinch hit, approximately twice as many as the next-best guy.

Rudy Carver, Ringo Weston, Cashman, and White will all come to bat for the 7,000th time. Twenty-three current MLB players have batted as often.

Even though he is 36, Henry Menechino could possibly drive in his 1,400th run if he returns to season 7 form. This would put him pretty close to Larry Jones, Jr.'s RBI total.

Mikey Tatum probably steals his 450th base this season. Only Kenny Lofton has more than that among active players.

Division rivals Jose Almonte and Harry Pascual should join White as the other two members of the 1,000 walk club. White also has an outside shot at making his 14,000th putout at first.

Geronimo Ordaz could turn his 1,100th double play at short.

If Donald Lee has another season like last year, he will throw out his 350th would-be basestealer.

Fargo 's Big Three will each individually face their 10,000th batters. They also will have made 370 starts each. Ozuna will give up his 350th gopher ball and Tracy will pitch his 2,500th frame and maybe reach 2,400 and 2,500 strikeouts. Those two guys can also win their 200th games. To back up this trio, Tyler Henderson will save his 400th game. Just ten current real pitchers have 200 wins. Tracy's strikeout total would put him eighth among active players, and only four men have ever saved 400 games.

Capra's answer to Roy Halladay, Pete Patrick , will finish his 65th complete game. Nobody else has better than 50. In real life, he would be behind only Maddux, Johnson, and Schilling.

If they sign somewhere, Al Howard and Vasco Carrasco will make their 700th appearances. No such worry for Arthur Caufield in Scranton. Just 85 men have pitched in 700 big-league games.

07 September 2008


things have been a little slow around here these last couple weeks as it's been the start of the semester for me and i've been busy gearing up to teach. i'll try to do some smaller posts to keep regular.

One More Ranking

sanderbear offers a new ranking that looks at balance(derived at by considering the highs and lows in MLB in BA, ERA, and team Wins since 2001) and stability(# of teams lost at rollover compared to hbd average). you can read a more full explanation of sanderbear's rankings, and the rankings themselves, here: 133 Worlds Ranked

Capra clocked in at #26. Combined with our other rankings at #18 and #22, we can confidently say that we are in the top 20 or so worlds of the approximately 150 on the site.

now if we could just get Fargo to stop dominating us and spoiling our competitive balance ;-)

22 August 2008

Where Capra Ranks

A recent trend in the HBD forums has been to attempt to rank all 150 or so HBD Worlds using varying methods. Somebody devises a statistical methodology and then punches in data for all the worlds and posts the results, which are followed, of course, by many pages of debate on the validity of said rankings.

tecwrg recently posted his rankings which are based upon the # of -(minus) plays within each world's most recently completed season. His theory is that quality worlds care about defense and will not either play people out of position or in spots that will be detrimental to the team's ability to execute the fundamentals. Out of 142 worlds, his system ranked Capra at #18. Not bad. Another way to think about his rankings, though, is to consider the positive difference between + plays and - plays(see his chart). If his rankings were ordered that way, Capra would come in at #5 overall. Now that's more like it.

98greenc5 posted a different set of rankings this morning that is based on competitive balance and the number of teams who deviate from an average of all the worlds by considering Wins, Runs Allowed, and Unearned Runs Allowed. His formula gets more complicated from there because he weights Wins to 50% and the others to 25%. Still follow? In any case, he finds Capra at #36 out of 137 worlds, but says that his methodology might unfavorably reward newer worlds that have had less opportunity for variance. (See addendum below)

The original attempt to rank the worlds was much more unscientific and based upon participant input. We also scored well there. The user who started this thread seems to be no longer active in cataloging input.

Addendum: 98greenc5 has revised his rankings with an allowance for # of seasons completed. This pushes Capra now up to #22.

18 August 2008

Int'l Report Card, Round 3/Preview

Will feature the following players:

P Sammy Reyes, Ottawa Ice. $4.8m bonus.
C Raul Ortega, Little Rock Travelers. $4.8 bonus.
P Michael Li, Toronto Beavers. $4.5m bonus.
P Orlando Armas, Pawtucket Patriots. $3.9m bonus.
P Ugueth Rosado, St. Louis Archers. $3.5m bonus.
3B Julio Wilfredo, Chicago Vipers. $3.3m bonus.
P Matty Calvo, Buffalo Hunters. $3.2m bonus.
SS Del Gabriel, Oklahoma City Drunken Ducks. $2.9m bonus.

Int'l Report Card, Round 2

Round 2 of the I.S. Report Card covers 8 more players listed in descending order of signing bonus. Remember, the grades are not reflective of merely said player's projections, but rather the cost of acquiring that set of skills. And again, my projections are based on a $14m advance scouting budget. Please feel free to disagree with my grades in the comments section.

1B Ismael Maduro, Anaheim Anteaters. $15.9m bonus.
-We may be a little partial here, but Maduro projects to us as a near Hall-of-Fame masher and is a good deal at almost any price. His only offensive category that projects under 82 is his lefty-split, the one weakness we would cherry pick if we could. We are especially fond of his potential future success against righties(94) and his eyeball at the plate(100). His durability, at 78, could be better as he'll have to sit out a few games every season. And it's a shame Maduro doesn't play a tougher position to fill, but otherwise, the Anteaters have found a worthy successor to Kip White.
Grade: A-

CF Felipe Vargas, Minnesota North Stars. $12m bonus.
-Vargas is solid in many areas, but spectacular in none. His D is fine, he'll be a good baserunner, and he should have a respectable BB/K ratio at the dish. But his power/contact and splits all max out in the low to mid 50s, and he will have trouble maintaining a consistent batting line at the big league level. I'd feel better about Vargas if his bonus was half this much.
Grade: C+

2B Dennis Yamaguchi, Oklahoma City Drunken Ducks. $11.3m bonus.
-A good one. Yamaguchi will be a nice hitter from the 2-hole someday. His power/contact splits range from 52-78. His eye could reach 70. He's a top notch bunter(100) and offers decent wheels at 71. Yamaguchi is not likely to be an all-star, but should be a strong role player.
Grade: B

1B Esteban Lee, Syracuse Salt City Ballers. $9.8m bonus.
-Almost nothing to not like. All of his important offensive projections are in the 80s, minus his righty split of 73, which isn't bad. Perhaps Lee's only drawback is his sloppy work with the leather(projected glove of 25), as he might be better suited to the DH in the AL. Otherwise, nothing will stop Lee from raking with the big boys.
Grade: A-

P J.P. Mercado, Buffalo Hunters. $6m bonus.
-Hmm. Not too sure about this one. We see Mercado's control/splits as ranging from 39-58. He's got only one pitch that projects higher than 51(@ 74). Frankly, his ceiling of success looks like AAA, more than the bigs, making this a tough signing to get behind.
Grade: C-

P Miguel Gonzalez, El Paso Diablos. $6m bonus.
-Gonzalez could use a better 2nd pitch(55) and effectiveness against lefties(53). Otherwise, he'll be a strong reliever and possibly a good closer with projections ranging from 69-86. The one drawback to this plan, though, is that his durability, at 24, is not well suited to the daily rigors of closing. Maybe Capra's best long reliever someday?
Grade: B

P Torey Gandarillas, Rochester Rough Riders. $4.9m bonus.
-Gooooaaaallll! Despite spending only $2M on Int'l Scouting, Rochester found Dominican righthander Torey Gandarillas under their Xmas tree earlier this season. With projected 89 control and 85/100 splits, does it really matter what his pitches look like(all 3 are above 65)? The only drawback here is that Gandarillas doesn't quite have the durability to be a closer nor the stamina to be a starter. Wherever he enters the game, he'll be stud in a few seasons.
Grade: A

P Willie Torres, Minnesota North Stars. $2.5m bonus.
-This is why mnnorthstars drops $20 on the int'l scouts. Torres will be a quality starter who projects to 92 control, 90 fastball, 68 curve, and good velocity(82). His splits are mediocre(47/50), but his control will help compensate there. All for just 2.5M.
Grade: A

17 August 2008

A Look at the Division Races & Post-Season Predictions

NL North: No news here. Fargo will cruise to their 9th straight division flag and is currently on pace for their best record yet, in spite of Ozuna, Henderson, etc. all getting old enough to need Viagra prescriptions. Minnesota looks very strong for the first wild card seed.

NL East: Chicago(formerly Atlanta) is on pace for their 8th straight division title, though Syracuse is coming on hot and heavy and currently just a game behind. This looks like the first time since S1 that this division will have two better-than-.500 teams in a race.

NL South: Little Rock has been leading El Paso by a nose all season long it seems. This is a close, two-pony race that should come down to the wire. Stay tuned.

NL West: Anaheim hosts a comfortable, eight-game lead, though, considering their collapse late last season, they're not likely to get complacent. Division-rival St. Louis features too many weapons and will be in the playoff hunt, one way or another, at season's end.

AL North: Montreal looks like a clinch for their 4th straight division crown with an 11-game lead and .700 win %. Scranton, though, is Capra's best 2nd place team(tied with Jackson @ 71 wins) and appears slated for an October invite.

AL East: San Juan and Boston again pace this division. The Express currently have a four-game lead on reclaiming their flag from seasons 4-7, which Boston interrupted last year. The Diego Santana Brigade needs to step it up either in the division or the wild card race.

AL South: Jackson's won the last 3 rounds here, but currently trail Montgomery by eight games. The Constitutions seem to have recaptured some of their early Capra magic when they won four of the first five division races(though never with a record this good @ .675). Jackson looks like a wild card berth.

AL West: Albuquerque's gonna make it seven straight here. No one else is over .500.

Playoff predictions, as of game 115:

NL Division Play-In Series
St. Louis beats Chicago
Little Rock beats Minnesota

AL Division Play-In Series
Albuquerque beats Scranton
Jackson beats San Juan

NL Division Championship Series
Fargo Beats Little Rock
Anaheim beats St. Louis

AL Division Championship Series
Montreal beats Jackson
Albuquerque beats Montgomery

NL Championship Series
Fargo beats Anaheim

AL Championship Series
Montreal beats Albuquerque

World Series
Montreal beats Fargo

08 August 2008

Separated at Birth?

In the S5 Amateur Draft, 3B Trenidad Rios was selected with the 19th overall pick by the Anahaim Anteaters. That same season, Anaheim paid a whopping $12.3M bonus to sign 18 year-old 3B Moises Guzman from the Dominican Republic.

Both right-handed sluggers with solid defense at the corner, Rios and Guzman are similar physical specimens, with Guzman just 1 inch taller and about 10 pounds heavier. The big difference is that Guzman has better health and durability, but otherwise it'd be hard to tell them apart.

The following season, Anaheim traded Guzman to Jacksonville for soon to be All-Star SS Delino Julio. Guzman proceeded to rip apart minor league pitching for the next few seasons and is currently in his first campaign at the big league level, much like his old 3B competition, Rios. Since both these young studs are in their first big league season, let's compare the stats and soon just how alike they really are:

Trenidad Rios: 270/341/601. 27hrs, 70ribbies, 29/60 bb/k ratio in approx 300 at bats.

Moi. Guzman: 274/329/549. 25hrs, 66ribbies, 27/68 bb/k ratio in approx 370 at bats.

Separated at birth, indeed. And, it should be noted, that with 27 and 25 homers respectively, Rios and Guzman lead all of Capra third sackers in home runs, and they're just 23 and 22 years old. The future of Capra's 3B class has arrived. And they just may be secretly related.

New Ttitle Photo

The Pic above is Smith-Wills Stadium, the minor league park in Jackson, Missisippi. This is, of course, in honor of Season 8 champion, the Jackson Riverdogs.

28 July 2008

How has Round 1 of the Draft played out?

I had wanted to post this prior to the S9 draft but real-life took over. I started thinking about whether or not Round 1 draft picks are sure locks for the Majors so I did a quick look and found the following:

Seasons 8
1st round picks (1-32) 256
Not in the league 25 9.77%
In the Majors 121 47.27%

Well, this doesn't tell the full story now does it? Since players from S7 and S8 haven't had the time to progress thru the minors.

In the Majors by Draft Season
Season 1 21 65.63%
Season 2 26 81.25%
Season 3 24 75.00%
Season 4 19 59.38%
Season 5 15 46.88%
Season 6 12 37.50%
Season 7 4 12.50%
Season 8 0 0.00%

I also decided to take this one step further... which franchises have been the most active in advancing their Round 1 selections up to the majors. The following is a little misleading since some franchises have traded or lost some of their Round 1 selections.

Number of ML 1st Round players by Franchise
1= CLE*, ELP*, TAC
0= PAW*

*Little Rock, Cleveland, El Paso and Pawtucket have all traded or otherwise lost at least 50% of their Round 1 picks

While doing this research I started wondering who has the distinction of being the lowest draft pick to make the Majors, so as a bonus... Congratulations to Montgomery's Jerrod Mann! Drafted in S2 in the 22nd round, Jerrod has the distinction of being the ONLY Capra League player drafted after Round 20 to ever put on a Major League jersey. And he is still there contributing as a DH!

26 July 2008

The Year of the Four Firsts

In the season eight draft, Montgomery had four first round picks in the amateur draft.

Now a year later, where are they now?

(20) Tony Otonez was the first of owner Beernoser's four first rounders chosen, and Rebel Yells could be heard throughout the Constitution, as the young catcher was the one player they were hoping would fall to them. The 22 year old Missourian has not disappointed either. He's spending this season at High A and is batting .329 with 24 home runs and 71 RBI's as the season 9 draft approaches.

(25) The Stits were also happy to land starting pitcher Erik Rakers. His story has not gone as well though as his personality left mangement questioning his work ethic. The young hurler was traded to Scranton for major league slugger Juan Valentin, but things haven't gotten better up north. A misunderstanding left the 18 year old missing the plane to Scranton, and once he got off on the wrong foot, things have only gotten worse for the first rounder as he has spent the season complaining about lack of playing time in Yankeeland.

(35) Albert Bonilla was chosen as a power-hitting second baseman from Minnesota, and so far the Stits are happy with his development. He's batting .347 with 25 HR and 64 RBI's in LOw A ball this season.

(37) Delino Saenz is an 18 year old slugging outfielder who has performed well at High A this season batting .320 with 15 homers and 71 RBI's. The young slugger is hoped to be a cross between Orlando Cepeda and Jimmy Wynn. Montgomery fans have nick-named him the "Baby Cannon."

23 July 2008

Amateur Draft On Deck

With the release of amateur prospects this morning we're now just a few days from the draft. So let's look at the teams that stand to get fat on the future. These are teams with a nice array of picks in the first two rounds.

Tacoma Typhoon Picks
#22, #29, #33, #36, #60, #69

Jacksonville Juggernauts Picks
#28, #34, #41, #75

Anaheim Anteaters Picks
#26, #40, #44, #73

Jackson Riverdogs Picks
#31, #35, #43, #78

Toronto Beavers Picks
#11, #37, #58

Florida SunRays Picks
#18, #38, #65

Only one team has forfeited their first round pick via a free agent signing. The San Juan Express will at #42 and #76, after losing pick #29 by signing Lee Plunk.

Mile High Times

Since S2, bowlum's Colorado Bombers(previously Boise) have averaged a $108M player budget, partnered with 8 consecutive losing seasons, all hovering around .450. Prior to S9, bowlumbrenner expressed frustration at the team's continued lackluster performance and threatened to leave the Coors Field bandbox for more neutral confines.

But those threats were just that, though maybe strategic motivations. A third of the way into the season, the Bombers are off to their best start ever at 29-22, including victories in 10 of their last 13 games. Of course, the Bombers lead the league in hitting, at .324 and OBP at .387.

Ironically, though, Colorado is playing much better on the road, 18-11, versus their home record of 11-11. And while the Bombers still have room to improve their staff ERA of 6.03, they have climbed to 25th out of 32 pitching staffs, an improvement from their previous seasons. Could this be the beginning of a more promising era in the Rockies?

17 July 2008

International Signing Report Card

Roughly 20% into the season, we've already seen 24 international players sign on, with 5 of them landing bonuses north of $10 million. From time to time here we'll assess the respective value of these signings by assigning letter grades that consider the following: player projections, likelihood of reaching and performing at the big league level, age, size of investment, etc. You get the idea.
(Keep in mind, this is all based upon my 14M advance scouting reports. Someone with $20m sunk into advance scouting[Las Vegas Jackson, etc], or $5[Fargo], for that matter, would see the prospects as worth more or less. We're probably close to the league average here.)

SP Odalis Leon, Cleveland Spiders. $22m bonus.
-While we only see his overall projection as 75, Leon offers the potential for excellent control, splits, and a superlative four-seam fastball that all equal a potential #1 ace. However, there is reason for concern: his secondary pitches are mediocre and need work beyond their projections, his durability and stamina are fairly low at 17/18 and 62/67, and his makeup(64/73) is probably not high enough for him to actualize his projections. Our greatest concern, though, are his stamina/durability #s that make Leon look like, in a best-case scenario, a Latin Rich Harden.
Grade: C+

SP Ruben Candelaria, Las Vegas Longballers. $20m bonus.
-Although his projections are not quite as gawdy as Leon's, Candelaria will likely contribute much more to his franchise in the future. Strong durability and health will mean that Candy can throw many more innings in development and reach his potential. And with excellent control, good GB/FB #s, and two solid out pitches, Ruben will just need to overcome his weakness vs. right-handed hitters. Looks like a future borderline #1/strong #2 SP.
Grade: B

SP William Hyun, Pawtucket Patriots. $14.3m bonus.
- The third of the big 3 SP thus far, Hyun is solid in all respects, if unspectacular. His only kryptonite seems to be right-handed hitters. Hyun can become a good #3 SP, but doesn't have any Cy Youngs in his future.
Grade: B-

2B Tony Unamuno, Vancouver Maintaineers. $11.6m bonus.
-In the rush for SP, Unamuno may have slipped through as a relative bargain. If he can overcome his weakness against right-handed pitchers, Unamuno has all the tools to be a productive 2B/LF or a long time. If only he could run.
Grade: B+

RP Karim Pichardo, Florida Sunrays. $11m bonus.
-Pichardo is a future closer with no glaring holes in his game. This would be a stellar signing if not for one thing: 11 mill is a lot to spend on an 18 year-old who's not going to throw more than 70 innings per season.
Grade: B

RP Enrique Manual, Chicao Vipers. $5m bonus.
-Possessing superb control and a four-seam fastball/slider combination, Manual is a 21 year-old Cuban who shouldn't need long in the minors. He can become an excellent set-up man, though he has a propensity to hang his fastball, inviting hitters to leave the yard with it.
Grade: B

3B Jimmie Feliz, Buffalo Hunters. $4.7 bonus.
-Scouts hope that Feliz' knack for hitting doubles into the gaps will develop into HR power as he matures, but they also hoped the same thing for Sean Burroughs. Solid defense and splits mean that Feliz just needs to overcome his weak contact/batting eye to be a contributor at the big league level.
Grade: B-

16 July 2008

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

as Gomer Pyle so nicely put it. Here are some dudes who, 20% into the season, appear to have made a deal with Lew Siffer to enhance their previously modest skill set, or are playing beyond the physics of the HBD age code.

CF Ernie Dorsey, El Paso Diablos: 365/425/600
-Dorsey hasn't hit 300 since winning ROTY in S4, and holds a career line of 291/350/520. With 63/41 splits, Dorsey cannot maintain such a lofty average and will soon come back down to earth.

CF Harvey O'Leary, Chicago Vipers: 357/417/468
-Leary's contact is 30 and his power 18. How jeclapton has milked a career line of 282/354/348 from this Corey Patterson wannabe is anybody's guess.

2B Don Torres, San Juan Express: 286/381/827
-There's something in the water in Puerto Rico. The Express keep turning the kind of career-minor chumps we've all got buried in our system into veritable all-stars. Just look at Torres' horrible contact and splits and explain how this guy has not only left the yard 30 times in half-a-season of MLB at bats, but also how he is posting respectable BA and OBP #s. The mind boggles.

1B Cole Durham, Rochester Rough Riders: 320/428/410
-Durham offers a couple respectable skill sets: 92 speed, a 96 eye, and excellent defense for first base. What Durham should not be doing, considering his contact/power(53/63) and splits(39/45) is hitting 320. Shit, I've got guys with 150% of those numbers who can't hit. Where the hell does Cole Durham get off?

2B Marvin Bryant, Little Rock Travellers: 366/414/634
-Bryant's a respectable .300 hitter for the Travs, but he's got no business slugging .150 over his career average at the ancient HBD age of 34, especially considering his declining power ratings after leaving the yard only 14 times a season ago.

SP Diego Ozuna, Fargo Woodchippers: 5-2, 2.15 era
-Brett Tracy's partner in crime in Fargo, Ozuna has deservedly gotten the invite to 8 All-Star games and has never won less then 16 games or sported an era higher than 4.67. But like Bryant, he's at an age(38) when most of us have to retire our former studs because HBD doesn't believe in the Jesse Oroscos of the world. Yet there's Ozuna leading the league in era at 2.15. That's simply not right.

SP Eugene Wilkins, Minnesota North Stars: 2-2, 2.25 era
-Wilkins is right behind Ozuna in the era race, despite a modest .500 record, that can be contributed to the fact he's averaging barely 6 innings per start. While Wilkins has potential to become a solid rotation contributor down the line, his current ratings are mediocre at best; the control and splits are average, the pitches are below average, and nothing indicates he can sustain his early season success. Enjoy the ride, Eugene.

SP Alexander Frye, Fargo Woodchippers: 5-0, 2.45 era
-Another overperforming Fargo clown. I suppose this isn't really news. See Ozuna comments.

SP Wes Henderson, Minnesota North Stars: 5-0, 2.51 era
-The league's pitching luck, so far, seems to be centered in the NL North. Let's all enjoy the correction when it comes.

RP Phillip Wilson, El Paso Diablos: 7-for-8 in save, 2.53 era
-Most of us have relievers like Wilson and use them to wildly inconsistent results in middle relief. Which is the exact fate awaiting Wilson. Look at the poor 6/5 BB/K rate. Or the 1.69 whip. Sporting only two pitches at 77 and 48, the wheels are already starting to wobble a little.

07 July 2008

International $

16 year-old Dominican pitcher Michael Inoa broke the signing bonus record last week when he agreed to become the baseball property of the Oakland A's for 4.25M. Clearly MLB GMs are amateurs when it comes to the big-time market for international players.

Capra's 1st large $ international signing of S9 landed this afternoon when the Florida Sunrays inked 18 year-old Dominican pitcher Karim Pichardo for a robust 11M. Pichardo is an offspeed/sinker specialist who projects as possible late-inning ace for the Rays, if his development goes according to plan.

Earlier this season Jimmie Feliz signed with the Buffalo Hunters for 4.7M, a relatively modest amount in the landscape of HBD internationals. The competition for internationals in Capra was not always this steep, however.

Let's look back to Season 1's three biggest bonuses and see what happened:

P Alberto Vargas. 8.8M, Scranton Breakers.
Vargas has never quite panned out. He was effective in five minor league seasons for the Breakers, saving 77 games and getting named to four All-Star squads, but continues to have trouble translating that success to the majors. In three big league seasons he has amassed 277 innings and a high 4 era, servicable, but not the slam-the-door-guy the Breakers were looking for. In fact, Scranton dealt him to Atlanta(now Chicago) in S7 where he continues to work out of the pen in middle relief.

P Alfonso Ferrer. 5.5M, El Paso Diablos.
The 2nd largest signing of S1, Ferrer has spent 8 seasons bouncing between AA and AAA as a middling reliever. He has a career 4.68 era in the minors and has yet to see any meaningful time in the majors.

CF Hector Jacquez. 5M, Honolulu Rain.
The third and final player from our inaugural season to cross the 5M bonus mark, Jacquez has met with much more success than the names above him. After spending a mere season-and-a-half in the minors, Jacquez got the call in S3 and never looked back. In six big league seasons he has averaged 272/335/447 w/ 20 hrs and 75 rbis per. Entering S8, the Rain rewarded Jacquez with a 5 year/$38M contract.

Here are some other intern'l signees from S1 that worked out well:

SS Albert Tatis. 3.8M, Fargo Woodchippers.
Perhaps the jewel of the class. Became the Chippers starting SS halfway through S4, won a WS trophy in S5, and is the 2-season and running NL Gold Glover. Oh yeah, has thrown up a career 307 BA. Just what fucking Fargo needs.

2B Oswaldo Cabrera. 3.1M, St. Louis Archers.
Cabrera has been traded a couple times, first to Tacoma then to Jacksonville, and seems to have found a home in the latter, where he has won a gold glove and just last season hit 287 and swiped 70 bases.

LF Yamid Pinzon. 2M, Augusta Black Bears.
Pinzon was traded to Boston in S3, and has flourished in Fenway's infamous left field. In four full-time seasons he's averaged 303/360/551, 27 hrs and 85 rbis. Got a four-year, 22+M contract before this season.

SS Frank Li. 2M, Albuquerque Roadrunners.
After repeating grade AAA a couple times, Li became the Roadrunners top glove man in S7 and has averaged 8hr, 26sb, and a nifty 985 fielding %.

There are some other productive big leaguers from this class(Aramis Tapies, Yoo-Nah Torres, Oswaldo Javier , Marino Flores), but they have yet to prove consistent in their big league production.

04 July 2008

A Cautionary Tale

The Minnesota North Stars had a horrible pitching coach in season 1 and did not enjoy the remedy that was employed in the most recent case. Instead, Preston Rowan went through the entire season with the worst fielding IQ on my coaching staff, a 3, and proceeded to permanently alter the careers of several players. Over the course of that season, Minnesota's starting nine had these effects:

Oleg Ramsey: lost 5 points in range and 3 points in fielding

Harry Unamuno: 2 and 1

Tom Burkett: 3 and 2

Jose Almonte: 0 and 5

Jose Roque: 2 and 0

Paul Clemens: gained 1 and LOST 16

Bill Benes: 0 and 6

Jose Garces: no change

In the farm system, several others were significantly impacted on the way to the show.

Darrin Hatcher: gained 2 and lost 8

Rudy Lombardi: gained 3 and lost 8

Jeffrey Brow 0 and 5

Lonny Urbina gained 1 and lost 11

Herm Munoz: gained 2 and lost 14

Daniel Miller: gained 6 and lost 15

In conclusion, fielding coaches can make a big difference. Within a week of starting this franchise, it was well on its way to shooting itself in the foot.

Coaching Trouble?

steelerstime recently pointed out that the Rochester Rough Riders reported to ST with a Fielding Instructor that sported a Glove IQ of 8. Subsequently, some of Rochester's young talent took hits in their ability to field and catch the ball, as evidenced here: Tiny Allen, Henry Siddall, Tyler Buhner, Jimmy Little, and so on. steelerstime was kind enough to submit a ticket on this to admin, and they have replaced Rochester's original FI with another, slightly better version: Groucho Lesher.

This got me to wondering what other coaches out there that may do damage to their squads. The good news is that there aren't many. Nine seasons into Capra, we have seen more quality coaches and IQ improvements than retirements, making it easier to land solid staffs and harder to get stuck with a stinker.

At the big league level, the lowest rated Pitching coach(Jaret Fyhrie) sports a 76 IQ, a respectable # that would have been a mid-grade pitching coach for Capra's first 4-5 seasons. Same goes for the S9's worst Hitting coach, Dewey Charleston, who has ironically run San Juan's murderous offense for three prior seasons. Play with that one.

Worst Bullpen coach is a 68(Lonnie Marshall). The worst Leather Instructor is not even Lesher. Colorado's Chico Valdes now owns the honor at 49, and the Bombers youngsters seemed to feel no ill effects in their ST development. The lowest strategy IQ amongst Bench coaches is the Royales' Cliff Grabowski, but, of course, Bench coaches aren't specialists in one area and Grabowski is in the middle of the pack in all other coaching intelligences.

As far as base coaches go, it's easy to point out those with a low baserunning knowledge, but some owners employ the strategy of hiring high hitting IQs here(Bono Gibbons, Brady Gates), though there are some who sport neither(Andres Mota, Barney Sirotka, Earl Hayes).

Conclusion: There appear to be no more coaching tragedies awaiting any big league teams this season, save for stalled development and plenty of runners thrown out on the basepaths. I did spot a few terrifying minor league coaches, but that may be another post.

30 June 2008

Cleveland Spiders Top Ten Prospects

1. 3B Michael Dransfeldt. Age 19. HiA. ETA: Late Season 11.Hit a .342/.401/.754 in 62 games in Low A after being the #2 overall pick in Season 8. Drafted as a shortstop, he has been moved to 3B where his range is more than adequate and his glove and arm should be huge assets. Possessing superb pitch recognition, power, and contact, nothing should stop a player with these talents and this makeup from becoming an All-Star fixture, perhaps as early as Season 12.

2. SS Omar Olivares. Age 21. AAA. ETA: Season 10.Viewed as a future star after hitting .330/.417/.626 in AA as an 18 year old, his failure to put together the kind of performance that would mark him as a future superstar has led to him being eclipsed by Dransfeldt as the crown jewel of the Spiders' farm system. He continues to struggle with left-handed pitching and there are concerns that he might not live up to potential as a fielder. The bat doesn't play quite as well at second or third, so staying at shortstop is a key. Nonetheless, no one is blocking him at the big league level and with reasonable progress he is probably the Spiders' starting shortstop on opening day next year.

3. CF Russ Mercedes. Age 24. ML. ETA: Now.Acquired in the Season 9 Rule 5 draft, Mercedes will start the season as the Spiders' centerfielder; and not just out of necessity. He possesses a bat that would play quite well at any up-the-middle position (.293/.363/.520 at AAA last year), but despite spectacular range, he lacks the arm for SS and the glove for CF. He profiles beset as an above-average 2B with both the bat and glove. However, need will force him to centerfield for the Spiders in Season 9.

4. SP Dan Darwin. Age 21. AA. ETA: Late Season 11.The first pick made by the current Cleveland front office (#2 overall in Season 8), Darwin has a spectacular fastball-curveball combination and pinpoint accuracy. He was among the league leaders in ERA, WHIP and K/9 amongst Low A starters for the majority of Season 8, but failed to qualify for the league titles because of lack of innings. His inability to go deep into games (he lasted just under 5 IP/GS in Season 8) prevents him from having #1 upside. Due to his velocity and two-pitch repertoire, some scouts prefer projecting him as an All-Star closer rather than as a #2 or #3 starter.

5. RF Alex Carrasquel. Age 20. High A. ETA: Season 12.After winning Silver Slugger awards and garnering All-Star nods in Season 7 (RL) and Season 8 (Low A), Carrasquel is projected as a solid ML starter, though perhaps he doesn't have the upside of a player viewed as a perennial All-Star candidate. Adequate on defense and with a well-rounded approach at the plate, his upside is that of a #3 hitter, but he probably projects more reasonably as a #6 hitter and a LF on a first division team.

6. RF Felipe Guzman. Age 22. AA. ETA: Sometime Season 10.Close to his ceiling, Guzman could play as an adequate RF or as a stopgap 3B in the majors right now. In the long-term, it is expected that he'll be overtaken by Dransfeldt at 3B and Carrasquel at RF. Still, his 1.218 OPS across Low A and High A last year speaks loudly that some ML career awaits him.

7. SP Damaso Miro. Age 20. AA. ETA: Season 12.A big Season 7 International Signing, Miro is a bit of an enigma. With a huge, whip like frame (6' 7", 189 lbs), well above-average stamina and velocity, and great control of a 4 pitch arsenal, he looks all the world like an ace in the making. However, perhaps an inability to command his pitches within the strike zone is holding him back. Too many gopher balls (31 in 183 IP last year) limits his upside. He held his own as a 19-year-old in AA last year - an impressive feat - but, he'll be repeating that level this year.

8. C Denny Ramirez. Age 23. AAA. ETA: Season 10.If the scouts thought he could remain at catcher, he'd move up this list significantly. However, this Season 5 RL MVP appears destined for a move to DH and the bat is merely adequate there. Season 9 is Ramirez's last change to prove himself as a major league catcher as he handles a number of Quad-A pitchers in AAA.

9. CF Jose Trevino. Age 19. High A. ETA: Season 12.Originally viewed by Cleveland scouts as a plus-plus centerfielder with an solid bat, Trevino's stock has dropped considerably as his defense is now viewed as merely adequate. He still projects as a adequate fourth outfielder.

10. SP Bryan Turnbow. Age 21. AA. ETA: Season 11.Two minor league all-star appearances, an appearance in the Season 8 Futures Game, and a Season 7 RL Cy Young are impressive, but Turnbow has a modest ceiling and projects as a back-of-rotation big league starter.

Also of note: OBP-machine MIF Trenidad Blanco, IFA Bonus Baby SP Esteban Ramirez, and fragile SS Grant Bonham.

85 and Over Club

I stole this posting's idea from rls, who did the same thing for season 7. The following players enter season 9 with overall ratings of 85 or higher. This Club does not account for projections, only current ratings. Let me know if I've missed anyone.

National League

Fargo Woodchippers

Harry Pascual 86

Brett Tracy 90

Ringo Weston 94

Toronto Beavers

Walt Cashman 90

Rochester Rough Riders

Gene Blair 86

Buffalo Hunters

Rico Sanchez 88

Florida SunRays

Brett Simms 87

Jose Sardinha 85

Little Rock Travelers

Wilt Beckett 85

El Paso Diablos

Evan Moore 85

St. Louis Archers

Rudy Carver 86

Hong-Gu Hyun 89

Melvin Martin 88

Vancouver Maintaineers

Garrett Stewart 86

Anaheim Anteaters

Billy Leary 85

Patrick Spencer 87

American League

Iowa City BEEF

Ariel Rosario 86

Scranton Breakers

Mikey Tatum 88

San Juan Express

Rogers Glynn 86

Al Ontiveros 85

Jackson Riverdogs

Al Maurer 85

Montgomery Constitutions

Al Cedeno 91

Chip Turner 91

Las Vegas Longballers

Geronimo Ordaz 86

Albuquerque Roadrunners

Ariel Cortez 85

Hal Randall 88

Minnesota's Top Prospects

Everyone surely would like to brag that their farm system has the best fruit ready for picking. In the case of Minnesota, the club might not have the best players, but they certainly have a lot of them. In total, there are 164 North Stars stocked from low A to the majors, just six players short of the maximum allowed by the rules. Naturally, this makes picking a top ten among the prospects difficult as ten players is less than 8% of the farm system. Let's give it a try, though.

Hector Flores AAA Pitcher, 2nd year pro

Flores may not actually qualify as a prospect since he got a very impressive cup of coffee in Minneapolis to save a starter going into the North Stars' deep playoff run, but Flores was a season 8 international signee who made an immediate impact on the AAA squad. Look for another callup late this summer; he's the first remedy if there's injury or ineffective funk.

Davey Rivera AAA Pitcher, 7th year pro

Rivera was brought along slowly, but he is still just 24 years old and will head north with the North Stars when they break camp. He posted an admirable season 8, going 217 innings at 15-6 with a 3.64 ERA. Unfortunately, he only brings back painful memories because he is all I have left from trading away Ernest Lamb to Montreal.

Dmitri Stafford High A 2B, 2nd year pro

I ought to shoot the high school scouts who told me his range would get a whole lot better, but then I'd have to bring them back to life and give them raises just for helping me land this guy. He could be a good second baseman for a long time. Stafford could learn on the job late in season 10 or early season 11.

Brad Smith AA 1B, 3rd year pro

Smith and Stafford make up for us not getting a stud pitcher in the last few drafts, and they do that pretty well. In season 8 he outperformed himself at AA vs. High A across the board. Smith likely will grow up to be a left fielder and probably sooner than later. All he has to do is pay his dues at AA/AAA and give me a year to clear some roster space in the bigs.

Pablo Tavarez AAA Pitcher, 4th year pro

It's hard to find many flaws in Tavarez's game other than the fact that he does not throw hard. He seems to be undervalued by the ratings system, but not by my managing peers. I get a trade offer for Tavarez at least a few times a season. He is a victim of a deep prospect pool at starting pitcher but ought to get his shot as a callup this September.

J.R. Shaw AAA Pitcher, 4th year pro

Grafted in from Little Rock's farm clubs, Shaw has taken a liking to whatever the trainers have been feeding him. Before the trade, he was a 3.97 ERA, 1.42 WHIP pitcher over 102 innings at rookie and A ball. Since then, he has been a 3.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP pitcher in 184 innings. The knock on Shaw is that he only projects to start 24 games a year because of his long recovery periods between appearances. Season 11 probably will have him in the mix in the majors.

Roy Greisinger AA Pitcher, 5th year pro

Greisinger was a diamond in the rough that may actually turn into something, much to the chagrin of all of baseball for passing on him at least 20 times in the season 5 draft. Things came together for Greisinger in season 8, when he bested all his personal records and threw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. He has an outside shot at being in Minnesota by season 10.

Babe High AAA 3B, 4th year pro

“The High” would be a bad shortstop or a good third baseman, so he gets the hot corner. Out of the blue for no reason at all he stole 22 bases in season 8, which was 22 more than his career total going into the year. He hits doubles and .300. He could play in the bigs this year if somebody gets hurt, but High is in a logjam behind Brad Perez, Keith Brumfield, and Santos Flores.

Justin Seabol AAA SS, 4th year pro

The heir apparent to Daniel Miller when Miller prices himself out of Minnesota (soon, we fear), he should be able to handle things defensively by then. He also has not been a liability at the plate, career lining .331/.410/.506 at the lower levels. Not bad for a 3rd-rounder.

Fritz Handworth AAA Pitcher, 4th year pro

Handworth is not your typical top prospect, especially with the kinds of pitching staffs that some teams use. However, he does possess two very good pitches and above-average command, leaving in doubt only how long he can ward off the medical ward. He starts putting out my fires in season 11 or so.

So, cool, four of the guys in my AAA rotation are virtual locks for the major leagues in the next year or two. No wonder I traded Craig Schwartz out of town.

Fun facts: of the North Stars' current 25-man roster, 20 players came in through the farm system and 16 of them were drafted, signed as internationals, or were with the team at the beginning. All of the franchise's 1st-round picks are either on this list or have played in the major leagues.

Receiving honorable mention in this beauty contest were RF Vic Alicea (who was the pick-of-the-litter in season 7's NL internationals), 3B Vic Gonzales, and C Felipe Carrasco, who I really wanted to include on this list but pales compared to the ratings of the other guys.

29 June 2008

Anaheim Anteaters Future Shock: Top 10 Prospects

1/ SP Hugh Palmer. Age 24. AAA. ETA: S10
Selected 13th in the 1st round of the S6 draft, Palmer dominated the lower minors and has averaged a 16-4/3.35 record in 3 minor league seasons. Palmer's big calling card has been the punchout as he's K'd 502 batters in 51o frames. His heater is in the mid-90s and still developing. Palmer comes with 2 good pitchers, the fastball and slider, but could use a better forkball and curveball to sharpen his repertoire. Palmer's about a season away from the bigs and projects to a solid #2 or #3 starter.

2/ SP Vasco Almonte. Age 22. AAA. ETA: S10
A former 1st round draft pick by Atlanta/Chicago, Almonte was traded to Anaheim for fellow prospect Tony Mendoza. Almonte has been consistent in the minors, if unspectacular, with a 4.15 era and 1.32 whip. However, Almonte is just 22 and has progressed quickly through the minors with a AAA season already in the books. If he continues to develop his fastball and change-up he can become a stalwart in the rotation for a long-time to come, right next to Palmer.

3/3B Trenidad Rios. Age 23. ML. ETA: Now
Drafted 19th overall in the S5 draft, Rios has had little trouble with minor league pitching as evidenced by his 328/380/670 line in AAA last season, which echoes his career average in the littles. Rios was originally a shortstop, but was moved to 3B becuase of his limited range, and is set to displace Mathew Witt at the hot corner this spring. However, durability has been a concern for Rios, not to mention his propensity to strikeout, so there are some holes in his game that need work.

4/OF Bingo Gonzalez. Age 20. High A. ETA: S12
A late 1st-round selection from S7, Gonzalez projects to have strong power and line-drive ability, as well as good pitch selection at the plate. In his first two minor league seasons, Gonzo carries a 107/97 BB/K rate, as well as a 340/447/635 line. Bingo has missed some games due to freak ailments, but as his body matures and grows stronger he should regularly find the other side of the fence. ETA:

5/ 1B Edgar Bocachica. Age 20. High A. ETA: S12
Bocachica was signed as an international prospect from the Dominican last year and debuted in Low A ball by stroking a 435/556/790 line. He makes great contact at the plate, has a good eye, and may develop a little more power as he matures. Could be the franchise's succesor to Kip White at 1B, though he's not likely to ever match White's hall of fame numbers.

6/SS Emil Tavarez. Age 22. AAA. ETA: S10
Signed as an 18 year-old SS out of Venezuela, Tavarez' strengths are in his leather and ability to get on base, though the latter may be challenged by big league pitching. Tavarez mastered 4 levels of minor league ball in 4 seasons, earning trips to All-Star games at every level, and adding Gold Glove and Silver Slugger trophies at AAA. Emil will work on polishing hism defense in AAA this season and hope the team finds room for him soon, since Delino Julio is currently blocking his path at SS.

7/ SP Mitch Johnson. Age 22. Low A. ETA: S13
Drafted as a raw 21 year-old out of Wheeling Jesuit University in W.V., the Anteaters took a chance that they could develop and refine Johnson into a big league starter. His Short League debut included a 9-2/4.17 line and a 68/20 K/BB ratio. If Johnson can make leaps in his control and pitch movement, he can become a #3 starter in the bigs.

8/2B Don Cooper. Age 22. AAA. ETA: S10
Cooper led all of Capra last season in stolen bases by snaking 132 bags while getting rung up only 14 times in AA. However, he did post his lowest BA(294) and OBP(344) to date, something may become an issue as he rises in the system. Cooper's defense is fine, he just needs to control the strike zone more efficiently and find ways to get on base to capitalize on his projected 100 speed/94 baserunning ability.

9/ C Chet Sweeney. Age 21. AA. ETA: S11
Drafted in the 7th round at 18 from a small-town Indiana high school, Sweeney has moved through the lower minors like a man with something to prove. While his numbers have dropped a little at each successive level, he's still combined for a 365/448/650 line in three seasons. The next two seasons at AA and AAA will be critical to determine his big league future, if any.

10/ 2B Danny Ramirez. Age 19. Low A. ETA: S12-13
Drafted out of high school in the supplemental round last season, Ramirez debuted in short ball by rapping a 335/447/491 line, stealing 31 bases, and sporting a 46/35 BB /K ratio. Ramirez has lots of growth work ahead of him, but the exceptional speed he already has may be his ticket if he's going to make it in the bigs.

28 June 2008

Spring Training Leaders at the Halfway

6-time and running AL West champ Albuquerque wields Capra's best ST record thus far at 8-1. Next are Anaheim at 7-2 and the new-management-Redlegs of Huntington, also at 7-2. Four teams are at 2-7, but they include some of the league's consistently best teams(Fargo, St. Louis, Little Rock, and Florida), so let's not put too much stock into this.