Q: Ryan from Seattle asks:For my part, I tried to get questions on Liddi and Salinas in, since I figured Dotel might be pushing it. Liddi was answered in another form, but Salinas fell off the radar, and that's all right given where he's at. No Butler mentions, but I'm sure we'll get those in once the NWL Top 20 rolls around. |
No Alex Liddi? He seems to have a good bat for a 17 year old from Italy with good all-around athleticism. His advanced game for a 17 year old out of Europe are pretty impressive. What kept him off the list?
A: John Manuel: Liddi had a nice debut and was right on the cusp of the 20. It sounds like his game is advanced for a European, but not necessarily for the AZL. He does have some tools though, arm strength (upper 80s off the mound in Italy, I'm told), and he has some power, but it sounds like his swing's a bit long, and that's going to be an issue as he faces more experienced pitching. Definitely a guy who could have made the list; the AZL is really a crap-shoot, to be honest.
Q: JH from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic asks:
How is the Brewers' strategy of focusing on top-dollar Latin American talent and bypassing the academy system working out for them? The top two Dominican talents on their AZL squad, Pascual and Peralta, sure didn't have impressive seasons statistically. Is there any concern that the aggressive assignments along with the culture shock of moving to the states at 17 without speaking the language will stunt these players' development?
A: John Manuel: Those two pitchers definitely struggled this year, but judging how the system of not having a DSL team is working can't be judged on how a pair of 17-year-olds performed in the AZL in their pro debut,j at least it can't be judged from afar. You'd have to know how those players responded to their struggles, and that's something I wasn't able to find out. I do know the lack of a DSL team was a consideration when the Brewers signed these players; they signed them because they thought they were the kind of players who could debut in the U.S., and perhaps they over-estimated that aspect of these two players.
Q: Elliot Legow from Youngstown OH asks:
I read in BA that there's a Hawaii league this winter. What level of prospects will be playing there? Are rosters available?
A: John Manuel: There is; it starts in two weeks. I just received email yesterday from the league that the rosters are not yet official, and as soon as they release them, we'll be posting them. We intend to cover HWB like we do the AFL, though no one has drawn the assignment of traveling there to see games, like we do for the AFL. Pity. I am excited to see Lenn Sakata managing out there, and if Vegas will put odds on it, I'll bet on his team to win the league.
Q: Mike from Boston asks:
Where would Brandon Morrow and Chris Tillman have ranked had they qualified?
A: John Manuel: Very, very high. I think you can look at this list and figure out the talent in the AZL was modest; there's a 6-foot RHP who didn't dominate at No. 10, a 5.88 ERA at No. 2 . . . it wasn't slim pickin's but it wasn't a loaded league either. Morrow and Tillman would have both been top 5, and Morrow actually would have ranked second. Tillman vs. Jeffress is tough, Tillman obviously worked more off his fastball in the AZL than he did this spring, which was a big problem scouts had with him; he threw a lot of split-fingers for a high school kid with a 94 mph fastball. There's a lot to like with Tillman, tall frame, some pitchability, he probably would have been No. 4 behind Morrow and Jeffress.
Q: Steve from DeKalb, IL asks:
What rookie league (not including SS-A) was the most talented this year?
A: John Manuel: Not to offend Matt Eddy, but looking at the lists, I'd have to say Pioneer League, but that's usually the case. Several organizations use the Pioneer as their "advanced Rookie" instead of a short-season team. Plus, Missoula (Diamondbacks), which is not one of those teams, had some interesting albeit older arms I like, such as Osbek Castillo and Hector Ambriz, and Billings had nice college players such as Chris Valaika and Red Turner to go with the league's young talent at teams like Ogden and Orem and Casper. Good league.
Q: Adam from Davis, Ca asks:
Do rookie ball players usually improve when they get promoted to another level just because they don't have to go through the rigors of hanging out in 100+ degree heat day in and out?
A: John Manuel: Adam, that's a good question, always good to hear form you. My experience talking to players has been that it is very hard to perform in complex-league conditions, if you are used to more. Big-time HS kids often have trouble adjusting; not to spoil Alan Matthews' GCL chat, but that was what we heard re: Kyle Drabek's struggles in the GCL. I think it's less of an issue for Latin American players, who have so much else to worry about (learning the language, being hundreds or thousands of miles from home at such a young age, etc.) to worry about how many fans are in the stands or how hot it is. But players I've talked to over the years have indicated that yes, they get a lot more adrenaline flowing once they leave the complex leagues.
Q: Mario66 from Toronto asks:
Is Anthony Vavarro back to where he was at St. John's, and does he project as at least a solid back of the rotation type guy (assuming continued health)?
A: John Manuel: I don't know what he projects to be anymore; it's impossible to evaluate that at this time. I'm not trying to be difficult, but he threw 11 innings in his first games since May 2005, and he was shut down for a time when he first came back from TJ and his subsequent rehab. How can a player be evaluated on that body of work? I'll tell you what I learned: his fastball wasn't quite back to the 92-94 mph range he threw in college. His curveball, which was basically a snapdragon before, showed some signs. But his job in the AZL was just to get on the mound and build arm strength, build some confidence, not show his full repertoire. So evaluating his future based on that brief, rehab look, I don't think I'd be very fair to Anthony Varvaro if I did that.
Q: Paul from Kansas City asks:
Brent Fisher repeated the league and dominated, then also pitched well when moved up at the end of the season. What accounts for his incredible strikeout rate (i.e., what's his stuff like)? And the Royals had a nice showing - does this speak well to Ladnier's draft strategy?
A: John Manuel: Love Brent Fisher; he was in our Top 30 last year, and he's got a lot going for him. Deceptive fastball, solid velocity, improved changeup, and a curveball that can be a plus pitch. He also has a reputation as a good competitor and good kid who takes to instruction well, and he will move a lot quicker in the future. The Royals did have a nice showing, they had a lot of speed, which is a tool you can work with, and a team with some younger players surrounded with older guys who put those younger players in position to succeed. The Royals and Padres had the most talented teams in the league, with the Mariners and Angels also right up there.
Inland Empire Top 8thCF Brent Johnson (2B, 2 R, RBI, SB, .333) had three hits while batting second, 1B Johan Limonta (2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, .125), C Omar Falcon (2B, RBI, .429), RF Josh Womack (3 RBI, .200), and SS Jeff Dominguez (RBI, .385) each had two, and LF Casey Craig (R, RBI, .385) had a hit and a walk. Lots of offense.
· Pitcher Change: Matt Varner replaces Manny Ayala.
· Jeffrey Dominguez called out on strikes.
· Luis Valbuena singles on a ground ball to left fielder Adam Bourassa.
· Brent Johnson doubles (1) on a fly ball to center fielder Yordany Ramirez. Luis Valbuena scores.
· Reed Eastley hit by pitch.
· Pitcher Change: Ryan Klatt replaces Matt Varner.
· Johan Limonta doubles (1) on a ground ball to right fielder Josh Howard. Brent Johnson scores. Reed Eastley to 3rd.
· Omar Falcon singles on a line drive to center fielder Yordany Ramirez. Reed Eastley scores. Johan Limonta to 3rd.
· Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Jack Arroyo replaces Omar Falcon.
· Pitcher Change: John Thomas replaces Ryan Klatt.
· Casey Craig out on a sacrifice fly to center fielder Yordany Ramirez. Johan Limonta scores.
· Pitcher Change: Neil Jamison replaces John Thomas.
· Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Alex Meneses replaces Ronnie Prettyman.
· With Alex Meneses batting, Jack Arroyo steals (1) 2nd base.
· Alex Meneses reaches on fielding error by shortstop Skip Adams. Jack Arroyo to 3rd.
· Josh Womack singles on a fly ball to center fielder Yordany Ramirez. Jack Arroyo scores. Alex Meneses to 2nd.
· Jeffrey Dominguez singles on a line drive to left fielder Adam Bourassa. Alex Meneses scores. Josh Womack to 2nd.
· Luis Valbuena called out on strikes.
Inland Empire Bottom 5thLF Casey Craig (3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .312) had three hits in the game, SS Jeff Dominguez (R, .267) had two, and 1B Johan Limonta (HR, 3 RBI, .375) and C Omar Falcon (HR, 2 R, .067) had home runs. CF Brent Johnson (R, RBI, PO, .471) and Falcon both had two walks to add to their hits and 2B Luis Valbuena (R, .294) had one walk with his one hit.
· Ronnie Prettyman called out on strikes.
· Chris Colton pops out to catcher Josh Arhart in foul territory.
· Jeffrey Dominguez singles on a ground ball to center fielder Fernando Perez.
· Luis Valbuena singles on a ground ball to left fielder Mark Schleicher. Jeffrey Dominguez to 2nd.
· Brent Johnson singles on a line drive to center fielder Fernando Perez. Jeffrey Dominguez scores. Luis Valbuena to 2nd.
· Johan Limonta homers (1) on a fly ball to right field. Luis Valbuena scores. Brent Johnson scores.
· Pitcher Change: Nick Moran replaces Jonathan Barratt.
· Omar Falcon walks.
· Casey Craig homers (1) on a fly ball to right field. Omar Falcon scores.
· Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Reed Eastley replaces Alex Meneses.
· Reed Eastley flies out to center fielder Fernando Perez.
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