THE NEWBERG REPORT — April 19, 2008

The first eight Red Sox hitters against Luis Mendoza last
night: .000/.000/.000.

The next nine Red Sox hitters: .833/.889/1.667.

Not pretty.

But I’ll take a loss like that any day over a 4-1 loss
marred by sloppy defense, like Mendoza’s
previous start.

I’ve seen it suggested that the David Ortiz grand slam
was a bad break for Texas
because it’s a routine flyout in every other ballpark.  Disagree. 
It’s Ortiz understanding how to take advantage of his yard like he so
often does, the first three weeks of this season notwithstanding.  It was a two-seamer that hung up and over the
heart of the plate, certainly not the pitch Mendoza wanted to throw.  Ortiz simply got a pitch he could do
something with, and he did something with it. 
Hats off.

Ortiz’s two-out bomb followed a double and two
walks.  Gerald Laird came up in the eighth
after Boston
reliever David Aardsma got two quick outs and then allowed a single and two
walks, throwing six of his last eight pitches out of the strike zone.  Laird swung at Aardsma’s first two pitches,
fouling the first off and swinging through the second, and then took two
pitches, one for a ball and the second for an inning-ending called strike
three.  Texas was down at the time, 9-3, but that
was obviously a chance to make it a ballgame again.

T.R. Sullivan of notes that Hank Blalock’s six
RBI this season have all come on his three home runs, remarkable considering Blalock
is hitting .316/.400/.526 and has been in the fourth or fifth slot all season, with
Josh Hamilton (.294/.363/.529) and Milton Bradley (.352/.455/.481) hitting ahead
of him.  Blalock sits at .233/.324/.467 with
runners on and .200/.333/.400 with runners in scoring position.

I still think Blalock is going to have a big year, as
long as he’s healthy.

As a minor leaguer, Hamilton
struck out 2.81 times as often as he walked.

As a Red, Hamilton
struck out 1.97 times as often as he walked.

As a Ranger, Hamilton
has as many walks (eight) as strikeouts.

righthander Eric Hurley nearly had his first quality start of the season last
night, holding Round Rock to two runs on five hits and two walks in 5.2
innings, fanning seven.  The RedHawks’ 6-4
victory was keyed in part by outfielder Nelson Cruz, who has to be the
4-A-i-est hitter in the history of ever. 
Cruz homered for the fourth time last night, and finished the game at .350/.500/.750
in 40 at-bats.  Maybe more shocking than
anything is Cruz’s 13 walks and five strikeouts.

In five seasons at the AAA level, Cruz is a career .305/.395/.564

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .298/.400/.532 for the
RedHawks, and catching every day (backup backstop Kevin Richardson has just 11
at-bats).  Saltalamacchia has committed
no errors, has no passed balls, and has thrown out three of 11 would-be

Righthander Kazuo Fukumori was perfect in 2.1 innings in
relief of Hurley, fanning two.

Righthander Frankie Francisco saved the game by coming in
to get the final two outs, both on strikes. 
Francisco is bucking for a return to Texas. 
In eight scoreless innings of work, he’s scattered three hits and three
walks, fanning 14.  He’s thrown two-thirds
of his pitches for strikes.

The last 17 hitters Francisco has faced:






Strikeout looking.





Strikeout looking.

Strikeout looking.



Strikeout looking.



All told, that’s an extraordinary 12 strikeouts in five
innings.  One walk.  One single. 
Two balls that left the infield.

Righthander Robinson Tejeda has now pitched twice out of
the Oklahoma
bullpen, allowing two singles and no walks in 2.1 scoreless innings.  Pair the walklessness with five strikeouts
among his seven outs, and you have to start paying some attention.

Frisco reliever Warner Madrigal, stolen from the Angels in
November when the Anaheim
front office was asleep at the wheel, saved his sixth game last night in seven nearly
spotless appearances: eight shutout innings, three hits (.120/.214/.160), three
walks, 10 strikeouts, two-thirds of his pitches for strikes.

Quick, rattle off the 10 Rangers pitching prospects
you’re most excited about.

Michael Schlact probably isn’t on your list.  He should be.

In three Frisco starts this season, the 6’7″
righthander has a 2.50 ERA, has given up just eight hits and eight walks in 18
innings (holding opponents to an anemic .148/.254/.246 line, including .111/.256/.139
by right-handed hitters in 36 at-bats) while fanning 13, and as usual is
getting outs on the ground, inducing 1.56 as many groundouts as flyouts.  Schlact will be Rule 5-eligible this winter
for the first time.

RoughRiders catcher/DH Max Ramirez is number 11 on Baseball
Hot Sheet released yesterday.  He’s
hitting .255/.367/.608, with home runs in three of his last four games.

Cristian Santana finally played defense last night,
starting in left field in Clinton’s 7-2 win over
Dayton.  The 18-year-old homered and singled, improving
his season numbers to .378/.465/.622.  He’d
DH’d in his first nine games.

Santana’s LumberKing teammate Ian Gac didn’t go deep but
singled twice, walked, and got drilled to lift his season numbers to .409/.491/.864
(second in the league in hitting, first in reaching base, first in slugging).  As impressive as all of it is that Gac, in
his fourth run with Clinton,
has fanned only seven times in 44 at-bats. 
Coming into 2008, Gac had struck out once every 2.78 at-bats in his five
pro seasons.  The 22-year-old first
baseman also has six walks, twice the frequency of his career rate of a walk for
every 14.5 at-bats coming into 2008. 

Interesting 19-year-old catcher Jose Felix was big again
in the Clinton win,
contributing a single, a double, and a walk, improving to .444/.500/.630.

Righthander Fabio Castillo kept his seat in the Clinton pen, nursing a 1.04
ERA that he’s established over 8.2 sparkling innings of work.  The 19-year-old has allowed three hits (.103
average) and four walks while punching out a dozen Midwest Leaguers.  Righties have one hit in 20 at-bats.  Castillo has inherited five runners in his
four relief appearances, stranding them all.

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News,
Castillo will likely move into the LumberKing rotation six or seven weeks into
the season.

middle reliever Andrew Laughter, unquestionably a prospect, has pitched six
times this season, scattering seven hits and no walks in seven innings while
fanning two.  The righthander, drafted in
the 10th round last June on prolific area scout Randy Taylor’s recommendation,
posted a 2.03 ERA last summer in Spokane,
fanning 32 and issuing only four walks in 31 innings.

Laughter’s Blaze bullpen mate, lefthander Ryan Falcon,
has yielded one run on four hits and a walk in 8.2 innings, striking out
four.  Last year’s 29th-rounder (area
scout Jim Cuthbert) posted a 2.68 ERA in Spokane
middle relief in his debut season, with a spectacular 62/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio
and an opponents’ batting average of .223.

Dominican righthanders Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando are
in Tokyo,
auditioning for interested Japanese clubs. 
Grant notes that Jon Daniels is asking Major League Baseball for
permission to loan Beltre and Ogando to a Mexican Pacific League club, which
would allow the Rangers to retain their rights while holding out hope that the governmental
ban on their reentry to the United
States might eventually be lifted.

Cleveland is the second-worst-hitting team in the
American League, and Detroit righthander Armando Galarraga helped keep them
there on Wednesday, when he held the Indians to one hit — a home run by David
Dellucci, the second batter he faced — over a spectacular 6.2 innings.  Galarraga, whom Texas acquired from
Washington in the 2005 Alfonso Soriano deal and designated for assignment in February,
fanned six Indians, walked none, and threw 69 percent of his economically
parsed 81 pitches for strikes. 

Galarraga, who was 2-0, 2.25 in his first two starts for
AAA Toledo, was summoned by Detroit
to start in place of the injured Dontrelle Willis.

Outfielder Michael Hernandez, the player the Rangers
picked up from the Tigers for Galarraga, was part of the Mets organization before
camp ended, though I’m not sure when that happened or how.  He’s playing for New York’s High A team in Port St. Lucie.

The shift of Thomas Diamond to the 60-day disabled list
to make room on the 40-man roster for German Duran means he can’t be activated
until mid-June (the move can’t be made retroactive, but that’s virtually
meaningless given Diamond’s timetable as he comes back from Tommy John surgery)
but also means he will accumulate big league service time while on the DL, which
starts his service time clocks with regard to arbitration eligibility and free
agency.  Probably also not a meaningful development
in the long run.

According to Baseball America,
Texas has
signed Japanese lefthander Yukinaga Maeda to a minor league deal.  A small sidewinder who pitched in Japan for
19 years (78-110, 4.17), the 37-year-old reportedly auditioned for 10 big
league clubs in February before coming to terms with the Rangers.  Primarily a reliever for the last several
years, Maeda mixes a knuckleball into his repertoire.

The White Sox signed righthander Rob Bell to a minor
league deal.  The Mets signed shortstop
Matt Smith. 

Two struggling pitchers tonight as Jason Jennings is
paired up against Jon Lester, who has issued nine walks in his last 9.2

Keyword: Patience.


You can read more from Jamey Newberg at

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