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.