January 2010

Kevin Goldstein ranks Rangers prospects.

I’m working up a report on the signings of Vladimir Guerrero and Khalil Greene, but in the meantime the great Kevin Goldstein has just posted his Top 11 Rangers Prospects feature on the Baseball Prospectus website.  It’s among BP’s wealth of subscriber-only content that I’d encourage you to add to your plate, but I can share this much with you – Kevin’s top 11 (which happen to be the same 11 players as mine, though not in the same order), although you’ll have to check the website to get his provocative commentary:

Five-Star Prospects

1. Neftali Feliz, RHP
2. Martin Perez, LHP
3. Justin Smoak, 1B

Four-Star Prospects

4. Tanner Scheppers, RHP

Three-Star Prospects

5. Jurickson Profar, SS
6. Danny Gutierrez, RHP
7. Mitch Moreland, RF
8. Michael Main, RHP
9. Engel Beltre, CF
10. Wilmer Font, RHP
11. Robbie Ross, LHP

Four More:

12. Miguel Velasquez, OF
13. Kasey Kiker, LHP
14. Max Ramirez, C
15. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP

The Sleeper:

Shawn Blackwell, RHP
 

I hope you’re a subscriber if for no other reason than to read what Goldstein wrote about Profar.

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To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport
 

Cleanup.

vladhelmet.jpg
One-year deal, a club option for a second year.  Apparently a $5 million base, with some reports of maybe another $500,000-600,000 in reachable appearance incentives.  The option evidently has a $1 million buyout attached to it, which would mean $6 million is guaranteed.
 
Like it.

Of McFarland Signatures, football, and prospect rankings.

Anyone else expect one of these local weathermen to break into a Deion end zone dance talking about this McFarland Signature junk?  

Speaking of football, I’m not sure if Lonnie Maclin is Jeremy Maclin’s disclaimed biological father (they were both born in Missouri, 21 years apart), but at the moment I’d say Lonnie can hold his head up higher about his 13-at-bat big league career (with the Cardinals in September and October 1993) than Jeremy can after the Eagles’ final snap on Sunday, when he 100 percent gave up on Donovan McNabb’s pass, taking his eyes off the ball and turning them – not just peripherally – toward an approaching Ken Hamlin.  Sorry play.

Jimmy would have taken him off the playoff roster.

A final football note, and then some Rangers content:

teagarden-hunter-crop.jpg
 
                                          AP
Can’t wait for tonight.

One local reporter suggests that of the right-handed bat alternatives that remain on the free agent market, Vladimir Guerrero and Xavier Nady make the most sense for Texas.  Agree.

Peter Gammons of MLB Network believes the Mets are the frontrunners to sign righthander Jon Garland, whom some have reported Texas to be squarely in the mix for.

Baseball Prospectus (January 11) and Baseball America (January 25) haven’t yet revealed their Rangers prospect rankings, but John Sickels did so yesterday:

1. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Grade A
2. Justin Smoak, 1B, Grade A-
3. Martin Perez, LHP, Grade A- (“Could be a left-handed version of Feliz if all goes well”)
4. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Grade B+
5. Wilmer Font, RHP, Grade B
6. Michael Main, RHP, Grade B
7. Mitch Moreland, 1B-OF, Grade B-
8. Kasey Kiker, LHP, Grade B-
9. Robbie Ross, LHP, Grade B-
10. Danny Gutierrez, RHP, Grade C+
11. Engel Beltre, OF, Grade C+
12. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP, Grade C+
13. Max Ramirez, C, Grade C+
14. Miguel Velazquez, OF, Grade C+
15. Omar Poveda, RHP, Grade C+
16. Blake Beavan, RHP, Grade C+
17. Carlos Pimentel, RHP, Grade C+
18. Robbie Erlin, LHP, Grade C+
19. Tommy Mendonca, 3B, Grade C+
20. Vin DiFazio, C, Grade C+

OTHERS (Grade C): Richard Alvarez, RHP; Mike Bianucci, OF; Richard Bleier, LHP; Wilfredo Boscan, RHP; Andrew Doyle, RHP; Edwin Escobar, LHP; Craig Gentry, OF; Kennil Gomez, RHP; Michael Kirkman, LHP; Marcus Lemon, INF; Zach Phillips, LHP; Jurickson Profar, SS; Neil Ramirez, RHP; Luis Sardinas, SS; Ben Snyder, LHP; Pedro Strop, RHP; Tomas Telis, C; Matt Thompson, RHP; Braden Tullis, RHP; Joe Wieland, RHP

Asked to put together a starting lineup of the best prospects in baseball, BA‘s Jim Callis included no Rangers position players (though he singled Smoak out as one of three players he “couldn’t find room for,” as he cagily moved Dustin Ackley in from the outfield to first base), but Feliz was his closer and, though he didn’t crack the rotation, Perez was identified as one of three starting pitchers who just missed the cut.

Callis also identified outfielder Ruben Mateo as number four on his All-Bust Team from the last decade.  (Another football note: Drew Henson was number seven.)  And in naming the biggest bust of the decade at each of the first 10 slots in the draft, Drew Meyer was Callis’s pick for the worst number 10 pick.

You can find the “In Their Footsteps” article I wrote in April 2008, featuring new Bakersfield manager Bill Haselman, my favorite Rangers backup catcher, by clicking here

Frisco righthander Blake Beavan will appear with Cowboys defensive lineman Marcus Spears and wide receiver Jesse Holley from 7-8 p.m. on January 12 at the Coppell location of Mooyah Burgers & Fries (104 N. Denton Tap Road) to support the great Allen Cordrey’s Cards2Care gift card drive.  Come on out and get your Bound Edition signed.

The Joliet Jackhammers of the independent Northern League signed first baseman Freddie Thon.

Pittsburgh named Anthony Telford minor league personal development coordinator.  Colorado named Joey Eischen pitching coach for Low A Tri-City.  Milwaukee named Bob Miscik manager at High A Brevard County, after he managed AA Huntsville last year, and hired Ross Sapp to serve as a major league scout.  Boston promoted Mike Cather to major league advance scout.

One of the cool things about having a book deal for the first time is that the Bound Edition is now available on Amazon and Borders.com, and should be soon on BN.com.  If you feel like it, you can go to the Amazon link and post a Customer Review. 

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To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport
 

A Happy New Year?

So of the three principals at Baseball America who collaborate on the publication’s ranking of the game’s top 100 prospects, two (editor-in-chief John Manuel and executive editor Jim Callis) have now said in the last month that they have the Rangers repeating as the number one farm system in baseball, and each has Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak, and Martin Perez among baseball’s top 25 prospects.

But let’s shift to something more immediate.

Texas finished second in the West in 2009 for the second straight year, winning 87 games despite 14 losses over its final 21 games.  Can 2010 be better?

Is it reasonable to expect a lot more out of Josh Hamilton?  He doesn’t need to repeat 2008 (.304/.371/.530), even though he hinted at a return to form over his final 32 games in 2009 (.346/.391/.512).  It’s the 57 games that preceded that stretch (.220/.269/.373) that Hamilton can’t give this club in 2010.  

Two years ago, new Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle said this:

“One of the best things I was ever told as a young player that I never understood until I was an older player: There’s two kinds of people that play this game, those that are humble and those that are about to be.  At the age of 18 I laughed, yeah, that’s cute.  Well, by the age of 38 I was wearing it.”

And this:

“Early in my career, I was in a hurry.  I’ve had to learn patience through challenging times.  That’s been good.  It’s proved to be an asset, especially in this profession.”

Hamilton is Hurdle’s most important project.  A return to health is obviously important.  So is rhythm at the plate.  And confidence.  Hamilton needs to have all those things come back together.  If he can figure out (as he did in August) how to give his teammates a reliable plate presence once again – not necessarily MVP-level production but just a consistent threat in the middle of the order – it will make a huge difference.  Imagine what this 87-team club would have done with any consistency from Hamilton last year.

Ian Kinsler’s first 35 games in 2009: .318/.380/.622.

His remaining 109 games: .230/.308/.440.

We all know the 27-year-old should be a lot closer to the first guy in 2010 than the second guy.  Is there any reason to believe he can’t at least be the .319/.375/.517 hitter he was in 2008 again?

We can expect more production from first base in 2010.  There won’t be a repeat of last year’s .226/.272/.411.  One way or the other, there just won’t.

Rangers catchers hit .234/.286/.379 in 2009.  Fair to expect better?

Can Elvis Andrus avoid a sophomore setback, and settle in as the hitter he was in the second half (.280/.342/.395, after a .253/.315/.350 first half)?

Julio Borbon hit .320/.386/.467 in his first 23 big league games, .305/.367/.366 over his remaining 23.  Nothing wrong with the second set of numbers.  Even if he doesn’t replicate either slash line, just having a full year of Borbon atop the order, batting after Andrus and allowing Kinsler to move into a run-producing slot permanently, should help the offense.

A full year of Feliz is an upgrade, no matter how he’s used.

Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland went a combined 15-18, 5.19 in 40 starts.  I’d bet against those numbers getting worse.  

Frankie Francisco and C.J. Wilson had more great stretches in 2009 than the not-so-great runs.  Aren’t they about what they are?  Francisco, for what it’s worth, is essentially in a contract year, as he’ll be a free agent next winter for the first time.  Wilson is a year behind him in service time.

Is it overly optimistic to hope for repeats of the spike years that Scott Feldman (17-8, 4.08), Michael Young (.322/.374/.518), and Darren O’Day (1.94 ERA, .188/.265/.260 slash, 3.18 K/BB) had?

Losing Marlon Byrd isn’t a positive.  Defensively, Borbon’s improvement in center field will be important.  As for Byrd’s bat (.283/.329/.479, including .282/.336/.538 at home), let’s see what the club does about adding another right-handed run producer.

Put it this way: Moving Kevin Millwood for two bullpen candidates couldn’t be counted a positive as far as 2010 is concerned.  

Until Texas signed Rich Harden two days later.

Give me Darren Oliver over Eddie Guardado.

And give me an impact addition or two in July, which, as long as the team is hanging around in playoff contention, I think we can expect this season more than we could last year.

Another thing we can expect, at least on paper, is that the Angels (having lost John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Oliver, and eventually Vlad Guerrrero, and having added Hideki Matsui and Fernando Rodney) aren’t going to be as strong in 2010 as their 97-win team was in 2009.

If the Rangers do repeat atop Baseball America‘s organizational talent rankings, they’ll be just the third franchise to do so in the last 20 years (Atlanta 1994-95, Tampa Bay 2007-08).  There are plenty of players in the Texas system who will contribute eventually to winning clubs.  

But think about last year’s 87-win Rangers club, about the Angels’ winter, about having players like Feliz and Borbon and Hunter for a full season, about the odds of getting more out of Hamilton and Kinsler, and about Harden.

And about this July.

Could 2010 be The Year, after all?

To kick our 2010 off, a Newberg Report New Year’s Day custom: My top 72 Rangers prospects, as laid out (with detailed commentary on each player) in the 2010 Bound Edition – which was released less than three weeks ago but has already had more copies sold than any of the previous 10 books, thanks to you all:

1.    Neftali Feliz, RHP
2.    Justin Smoak, 1B
3.    Martin Perez, LHP
4.    Tanner Scheppers, RHP
5.    Wilmer Font, RHP
6.    Jurickson Profar, SS
7.    Michael Main, RHP
8.    Danny Gutierrez, RHP
9.    Robbie Ross, LHP
10.    Engel Beltre, OF
11.    Mitch Moreland, 1B-OF
12.    Blake Beavan, RHP
13.    Pedro Strop, RHP
14.    Kasey Kiker, LHP
15.    Michael Kirkman, LHP
16.    Wilfredo Boscan, RHP
17.    Max Ramirez, C
18.    Joe Wieland, RHP
19.    Guillermo Moscoso, RHP
20.    Tomas Telis, C
21.    Tommy Mendonca, 3B
22.    Luis Sardinas, SS
23.    Omar Poveda, RHP
24.    Eric Hurley, RHP
25.    Miguel Velazquez, OF
26.    Carlos Pimentel, RHP
27.    Leury Garcia, SS
28.    Mike Bianucci, OF
29.    Neil Ramirez, RHP
30.    Kennil Gomez, RHP
31.    Craig Gentry, OF
32.    Zach Phillips, LHP
33.    Corey Young, LHP
34.    Jake Brigham, RHP
35.    Braden Tullis, RHP
36.    Richard Bleier, LHP
37.    Richard Alvarez, RHP
38.    Evan Reed, RHP
39.    Alexi Ogando, RHP
40.    Miguel De Los Santos, LHP
41.    Fabio Castillo, RHP
42.    Tim Murphy, LHP
43.    Edwin Escobar, LHP
44.    Matt Thompson, RHP
45.    Marcus Lemon, 2B
46.    Chad Tracy, 1B
47.    Leonel De Los Santos, C
48. 
   Robbie Erlin, LHP
49.    Geuris Grullon, LHP
50.    Johnny Whittleman, 3B
51.    Greg Golson, OF
52.    Jose Felix, C
53.    David Paisano, OF
54.    Shawn Blackwell, RHP
55.    Cristian Santana, OF
56.    Carlos Melo, RHP
57.    Beau Jones, LHP
58.    Tanner Roark, RHP
59.    Chad Bell, LHP
60.    Randol Rojas, RHP
61.    Guillermo Pimentel, OF
62.    Yoon-Hee Nam, LHP
63.    Joseph Ortiz, LHP
64.    Vin DiFazio, C
65.    Clark Murphy, 1B
66.    Paul Strong, LHP
67.    Brennan Garr, RHP
68.    David Perez, RHP
69.    Jose Monegro, RHP
70.    Andrew Doyle, RHP
71.    Nick McBride, RHP
72.    Ryan Tatusko, RHP
 

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to you, your family, and your baseball team.

===========================================================

To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

 

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