Scouting Department Moves
Slow news period, but there have been a few moves announced in the scouting department today, with Ken Madeja being promoted to Midwest Coordinator, Jack Smitheran being hired as a scouting advisor
, and Pat Kelly being hired as an Australian scout
Madeja's been one of the bigger names as far as our Midwest scouts go, so this really isn't too much of a surprise, we've generally been active in there.
Smitheran (whose name I misread as Smithereen) seems to have been hired for his college baseball expertise. Since the M's drafts the past couple of years have been shifting in that direction (though part of that is need), it's not a bad move. Every little bit helps.
Kelly, I also don't have much of a comment on, other than our signings have generally centered around the New South Wales region and expanding the base a bit can't hurt.
As long as I'm here, BA subscribers will find the draft report card
online now. One interesting note is that Sabatella has more speed than I originally thought, and he seems to be high on their list athletically.
And, speaking of Australia, Craig Anderson has apparently turned up with the Baltimore Orioles and signed a minor league contract with them.
Minor League Changes Postponed?
The possible changes to the draft and short-season leagues which I commented on earlier
may be postponed, according to Baseball America
The issues are still on the table for the upcoming owners' meeting, but they've reportedly lost some momentum and the complex and short-season leagues are planning for business as usual.
As an M's fan, this doesn't bother me quite as much, because the Peoria Mariners were having a hard enough time getting everyone on the field this year and it seems like there could be a big return on pitching from the summer leagues. Trying to whittle it down to the top third and sending them to a co-op Appalachian team would prove to be a bit difficult.
Visas, As I Understand Them
Back when Auty/Lamont/Dixon were released, I had the same reactions as a lot of you, reactions like "how can this be justified?" or "why aren't we releasing the failed 30th-round picks instead?" and "aren't international players supposed to be the cream of the crop?". I've talked to some people since that time and checked a few sources, and it all comes down to a common statement, "we're overloaded at x position and we need the visa for someone else."
This is something that's not usually on our radar when it comes to these signings, but every player that comes to the U.S. from any other country needs a work visa in order to participate in the games. The abrupt cut-off last year in issuing these visas was what kept Canadian prospects down and guys like Chia-an Huang from debuting right away.
It seems like either a major league team can only acquire a limited number of visas, or they have a limited number of visas they wish to acquire, but this seems to factor heavily into how international players are managed. So, years ago, when the M’s didn’t have a lot of position players coming in from their summer league programs, it was okay to take a chance on a young guy like Elvis Cruz
to see if he’d develop any further (which he hasn’t). But when the VSL started producing a solid crop of pitchers, year in, year out, that meant guys like Matt Sundstrom
, Chao Wang
, and Oleg Korneev
had an additional strike against them, even if they were putting up numbers that were comparable to the domestic guys and were proving to be just as healthy as anyone (though the latter might not have been the case with some of them).
So, in short, it’s been sink or swim with the international signings we’ve had, and while some do quickly rise to the top, others don’t get as much of a chance to develop and heir visas are passed on to the next big thing. Auty wasn’t just competing against Jairo Hernandez, Eddy Hernandez, and Oswaldo Graterol, but he was going up against someone like Wellington Dotel down in the Dominican
. Dixon wasn’t just trying to keep up with the other catchers on the roster, but he was also being graded against Juan Beltran in the Dominican and Jair Fernandez in Venezuela
(Jair, by the way, seriously dropped off at the end, but was one of the team’s better hitters for much of the year). Lamont was having his peripherals matched up not only against his teammates, but the whole of the Dominican and Venezuelan staffs, and both had some of the best pitching in the league this year.
And that’s the story of how things are with many players coming in as international signings, and that’s why they seem to be a shorter leash. It’s not that the M’s favor domestic products, but it’s just that we can’t keep all of these guys. This might also work against an international draft, which might not be as feasible in the MLB with their minor leagues.
Winter League Stats Wrap (10/30/05)
Arizona Fall League:
RHP Chris Buglovsky: 1-1, 12.75 ERA in 12.0 IP, 18 runs (17 ER), 26 hits (3 HR), 4/4 K/BB
C Jeff Clement: .341/.442/.592 in 44 at-bats, 5 2B, 2 HR, 10 runs, 9 RBI, 8/11 BB/K
RHP Mike Flannery: 0-0, 2.84 ERA in 12.2 IP, 8 runs (4 ER), 15 hits, 12/4 K/BB
OF Gary Harris: .236/.263/.345 in 55 at-bats, 6 2B, 10 runs, 4 RBI, 1/11 BB/K
OF Adam Jones: .192/.250/.385 in 52 at-bats, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 runs, 4 RBI, 4/13 BB/K
RHP Clint Nageotte: 1-1, 1.59 ERA in 17.0 IP, 3 runs (3 ER), 10 hits (HR), 18/2 K/BB
Nags note of the week: 23/7 GB/FB ratio. Not a lot else to say though. Bugs is having his ERA come down, slowly but surely, Clement and Flannery remain fairly stable, Harris has been slowing down a little, and Jones has brought his line up by about .040 in each area. Also, I've been getting a lot of comments, both in my inbox and in the comments section, stating that Clement's defense isn't near ready and runners keep on stealing bases off of him.
Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Nibaldo Acosta: 0-0, 5.40 ERA in 3.1 IP, 2 runs (2 ER), 2 hits, 0/2 K/BB
RHP Yorman Bazardo: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 5.2 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits, 3/4 K/BB
OF T.J. Bohn: .327/.386/.481 in 52 at-bats, 5 2B, HR, 5 runs, 12 RBI, 4/10 BB/K
SS Asdrubal Cabrera: .182/.250/.182 in 11 at-bats, RBI, 1/3 BB/K
RHP Renee Cortez: 0-0, 9.82 ERA in 3.2 IP, 4 runs (4 ER), 8 hits (HR), 1/2 K/BB
RHP Rich Dorman: 1-0, 5.56 ERA in 11.1 IP, 8 runs (7 ER), 16 hits (HR), 19/9 K/BB
RHP Emiliano Fruto: 1-1, 2.70 ERA in 6.2 IP, 1 save, 3 runs (2 ER), 6 hits, 8/2 K/BB
IF Jesus Guzman: .444/.474/.611 in 18 at-bats, 3 2B, 3 runs, 5 RBI, 1/3 BB/K
RHP Jeff Heaverlo: 0-0, 11.12 ERA in 5.2 IP, 8 runs (7 ER), 11 hits (2 HR), 6/5 K/BB
LHP Cesar Jimenez: 0-1, 3.72 ERA in 9.2 IP, 4 runs (4 ER), 9 hits, 3/2 K/BB
LHP Chris Key: 0-0, 7.36 ERA in 3.2 IP, 4 runs (3 ER), 5 hits (HR), 3/2 K/BB
IF Jose Lopez: .250/.250/.250 in 4 at-bats, 0/1 BB/K
IF Oswaldo Navarro: .444/.444/.667 in 18 at-bats, 4 2B, 7 runs, 1 RBI, 0/1 BB/K
C Luis Oliveros: .000 in 3 at-bats
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith: 0-0, 4.50 ERA in 4.0 IP, 2 runs (2 ER), 3 hits, 2/2 K/BB
The bad news here is that Bazardo and Cabrera didn't get into a game this week, but the good news is that Acosta, Lopez, and Navarro made their debuts and Guzman may have hit his way onto the roster, for the time being. Still waiting on a Guaramato appearance, but I'm wondering if a)the M's may have talked Lara into scaling back his innings so they can start him next season, b) he's taking the winter off or c) he's playing in the league's minor league system (and starting?). Most of the pitchers are either improving or stable, but Heaverlo took a few hits this week. Bohn remains about the same as he's been. Also, I'm still not listing Wiki because I don't expect him to be back.
Dominican Winter League:
IF Ramon Sanitago: .500/.667/.500 in 2 at-bats, 3 runs, 1/0 BB/K
RHP Rafael Soriano: 0-0, 9.00 ERA in 2.0 IP, 6 runs (2 ER), 7 hits, 2/1 K/BB
Not much to say here, the M's have seemed to send fewer guys to the DWL every year, but that might change soon as the recent surge in their scouting there starts to take hold.