Embracing adversity.

v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}

 

One
left-handed hitter has managed to take Derek Holland deep in his two pro
seasons.  Last year, including the Texas
League playoffs (when Frisco right fielder Dustin Majewski volleyed a ball over
the fence), Holland
allowed only four home runs all year.  But only one by a lefty – Cubs prospect Dylan
Johnston, whose solo shot with two outs in the ninth on May 10 knotted the
Clinton-Peoria game at 2-2 and prevented Holland from locking down what would
have been his first and, so far, only complete game as a pro.

 

While
he’s far from a slap hitter, power is not among the key components of Julio
Borbon’s offensive game.  He’s hit seven
home runs in his two pro seasons.  Only
two of which came off lefthanders.

 

The
one time either Holland (who pitched for Spokane in 2008, and Clinton,
Bakersfield, and Frisco in 2009) or Borbon (who played center field for the AZL
Rangers and Spokane in 2008, and Bakersfield and Frisco in 2009) saw the other
teed up in a lefty-on-lefty battle that ended with a home run was on August 24,
2008, when Borbon took former Rangers southpaw Chris Michalak deep in the
eighth inning of a 9-3 Frisco win over Midland, a day after Holland led the
RoughRiders to a 10-1 victory over the same RockHounds.

 

Until
yesterday.

 

Holland was called on to pitch
the eighth inning of the Rangers’ first intrasquad game of the spring Monday
afternoon, entrusted with an 8-1 lead. 
He faced five batters, retiring none. 
He allowed four runs, three earned, with the big blow coming off
Borbon’s bat, as Holland hung an 0-2 slider that Borbon jerked over the right
field fence for a three-run bomb. 

 

Holland has given up more than
three earned runs in an entire start
only three times as a pro. 

 

It’s
tougher at this level, even when the hitter in the box is on a similar
development path.

 

The
organization had to feel good about Borbon’s moment.  He’s a big part of the plan here.

 

But
I bet, as far as Holland
is concerned, management is not all that disappointed about the result, and
very interested to see how the young southpaw responds.  Part of the process is learning to deal with
adversity, which Holland,
like a lot of blue-chip prospects, hasn’t had a lot of experience with.  It’s inevitable in the big leagues, and
demonstrating the ability to handle it is one of the final and most important
pieces in the maturation from prospect into big leaguer.

 

“A
home run is home run,” Holland
said after yesterday’s game.  “You just
tip your hat and go on.  You’ve still got
to pitch and can’t let something like that bother you.” 

 

Good.

 

“Yeah,
he beat me once.  Show me you can beat me
twice.”

 

Good.

 

Bet
you want the ball again, right now, huh?

 

“I
want to be out there right now. 
Working.”

 

Excellent.

 

Aside
from the Holland-Borbon bout, here’s some more microscopic sample to overreact
about from Monday’s game:

 

Brandon
McCarthy, getting the ball in the third, buckled down with a man on third and
one out, striking out Taylor Teagarden and Frank Catalanotto to end the inning.

 

Thomas
Diamond struck out one in a perfect seventh.

 

Kevin
Millwood, Kris Benson, Willie Eyre, and Tommy Hunter each allowed one hit in a
scoreless inning of work, while Elizardo Ramirez set the side down in order in
the eighth.  Brendan Donnelly and
Guillermo Moscoso each walked the two batters he faced.

 

Nelson
Cruz hit a first-pitch grand slam off Doug Mathis, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia
crushed a two-run blast off Eddie Guardado. 
Overreact: Saltalamacchia hit .158/.220/.224 against lefthanders last
year, .311/.426/.451 against righties. 
Same story in winter ball: .158/.273/.368 against southpaws,
.447/.587/1.043 against righthanders. 
Good to see him do some damage against an established lefty.

 

Joaquin
Arias singled, doubled, and tripled in three trips.  Maybe more significant was the “SS” next to
his name in the box score (though one local report suggested his arm strength
is not fully back).  Michael Young
singled twice in two trips and committed a throwing error on a slow roller up
the line.  Andruw Jones singled twice in
three at-bats, striking out in the other. 

 

Elvis
Andrus singled in three trips, driving in a run, but what matters is he played
the entire game, meaning the left wrist discomfort that slowed him for a few
days is apparently not a big issue.

 

Ramirez
will play for Venezuela
in the World Baseball Classic.  Cruz (Dominican Republic) and Catalanotto (Italy) are the
other two Rangers playing in the tournament.

 

Travis
Metcalf won the Home Run Derby at Sunday’s FanFest at Surprise Stadium,
defeating Kansas City
catcher J.R. House in the finals.  Other
contestants were German Duran and Justin Smoak from the Rangers and Kila
Ka’aihue and Corey Smith from the Royals.

 

Benson’s
minor league deal has a May 5 opt-out. 
Good.  There’s no pressure to save
an Opening Day spot for him.  Jon Heyman
of Sports Illustrated reports that if
Benson hits all workload incentives, he could earn a little more than $2
million.  Not likely.

 

Contrary
to multiple reports, it turns out Texas
did not attend Chad Cordero’s throwing session on Wednesday.  The club plans to watch the former closer
throw this week, when he’s expected to step things up from the first session’s
70 percent effort.

 

The
Cubs released lefthander Bill White after he failed his physical.

 

Check
out the video interview T.R. Sullivan did with Young in the top right corner of
texasrangers.com.  Really good
stuff.  Looking forward to more of those.

 

Jeff
Passan of Yahoo! Sports points out that Andrus, whose late father was a physics
professor, taught himself English as he was coming up in the Braves system by
listening to music, notably hop-hop and country music because they “tell the
best stories.”  Omar Vizquel tells Passan
that Andrus has “the perfect personality” to settle in as a big leaguer. 

 

The
Dodgers’ signing of second baseman Orlando Hudson pushes the Rangers
supplemental first-round pick (compensation for the loss of Milton Bradley)
down one slot to number 42, and the club’s second-rounder down to number
60.  It’s that latter pick that Texas would forfeit if
it were to sign Ben Sheets before the June draft.  If Manny Ramirez, Juan Cruz, and Orlando
Cabrera sign with anyone but their 2008 teams, both Rangers picks drop one slot
each.  There are a few Type B’s left as
well, which may or may not affect the supplemental first, but will affect the
second-rounder if those players find new teams.

 

In
a hypothetical posed in this week’s edition of “Ask BA,” Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis was asked what Washington could get for
the first pick in this year’s draft if the trading of draft picks were
permitted.  Given that San Diego State
righthander Stephen Strasburg is considered “the best righthanded pitching
prospect this decade and should reach the major leagues within a year of
signing” and a pitcher whom “[s]ome scouts would take . . . over Rays
lefthander David Price,” Callis notes the price would be high.  His proposal:

 

For the sake of
argument, let’s take a look at the Rangers, who have the best farm system in
baseball, and are deep at certain positions. 
They could afford to give up first baseman Chris Davis (with Justin
Smoak on the way) and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (with Taylor Teagarden and
Max Ramirez on hand), and maybe they’d be willing to part with the 14th overall
pick to get Strasburg.  But it’s unlikely
Texas would
add righthander Neftali Feliz to that package, and I’d want Feliz. . . . The
Rangers probably wouldn’t give up lefty Derek Holland or shortstop Elvis Andrus
either.

 

That’s
a crazy package to put together for a player who has never thrown a
professional pitch and who would still have to be signed – his advisor is Scott
Boras – but I thought it would be worthwhile to share that here because it’s
further proof of a point I’ve been pushing for about a year now: the next time
(and next few times after that) that a Josh Beckett is floated on the market by
a team who knows it can’t keep him long-term – and I’m not talking about a C.C.
Sabathia-type two-month rental – general managers will instinctively target Texas and its
unparalleled prospect depth, just as Callis did.

 

MLB
Network, which has made ESPN completely obsolete for me, is airing a one-hour
feature on Josh Hamilton this Friday at 8:00 p.m.  It will be the new network’s first player
documentary.

 

Jim
Reeves of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
reported this weekend that Hamilton’s
grandmother, Mary Holt, is dying of Stage IV cancer.  That makes me very sad.

 

Here’s
the Rangers’ local
television broadcast schedule
for the regular season.

 

The
Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League traded outfielder Carl
Everett and lefthander Vic Darensbourg to the Newark Bears for righthander Jose
Garcia and catcher John Pachot.  The
Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association claimed righthander
Mark Roberts off waivers from the Sioux Falls Canaries. 

 

Matt
Harrison will start Wednesday’s exhibition opener against Kansas City. 
Millwood goes Thursday, Scott Feldman Friday, McCarthy Saturday, and
Vicente Padilla Sunday.  Pitching coach
Mike Maddux’s goal is for each to go two innings, after which the plan in their
successive starts is to get through two innings again, then three, four, five,
and six, before scaling back down to four innings in each starter’s seventh and
final spring training appearance. 

 

Padilla
and Feldman are slated to start today’s intrasquad game, and supposedly every
pitcher who didn’t work on Monday will see action.  If that’s the case, today’s box ought to
include Dustin Nippert, Frankie Francisco, Josh Rupe, Warner Madrigal, Derrick
Turnbow, Luis Mendoza, Joe Torres, John Bannister, and Omar Poveda.

 

And
Neftali Feliz.  If Max Ramirez takes him
deep, so be it. 

 

Wouldn’t
be the worst thing in the world.

You can read more from Jamey
Newberg
at www.NewbergReport.com.

 


 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: