Monday, June 29, 2009

NL great tosses a no-hitter

Salem's Dave Dunwoody has long been one of the NL's best pitchers. He has added his name to a very short list in The Bigs by tossing a no-hitter against the visiting Trenton Traffic in a 3-0 Salem victory. Dunwoody allowed only a 7th inning walk to Max Clifton- he retired the first 20 batters he faced. Dunwoody said after the game, "I felt great from the first inning. I really felt like I had all my pitches working". Trenton RF Cap Herrera told TBDN: "Man, he was tough. I didn't hit a ball hard all night. I mean, I knew about the guy from my Vancouver days, but I've never seen him like this. This was another level".

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Season 6 1st Round Draft Review

This was an interesting 1st round of drafting to review. There are a fair number of guys who could very well have been named Pick of the Draft (at least 6-7 guys could’ve had that title). Also, there were a number of good late round picks as well. I think overall it was a good job done by the owners; cause the ‘Red Herring of the Draft’ is a decent pick really. He’s one who’s potential overall rating looks real good but the reality his ‘actual’ overall worth is about 15 points lower due to a couple of major weaknesses. Even with these weaknesses, he could end up being an effective pitcher at the major league level, cause his strengths are really good.

If you look at the draft history page for this season; you’ll notice that except for the one pick, each pick’s signing bonus is slightly less than the one before. Curious?? Looks like people were targeting guys who were very signable!! Overall, I’d say this is the strongest 1st round of prospects we’ve had. That said it does seem to be weak in one area, Starting Pitching! Also, has to be one of the CHEAPEST 1st round signing bonuses I’ve ever seen.

Here is the 1st Rnd Class of Season 6

Austin City Limits (NL) – Rich Porter - CF (Signed for 4 Million)
It looks like the Austin scouts did their homework etc, on this. There is no doubt will be seeing this guy on a player of the week feature. It’s really hard to find a weakness with this guy, but his Stamina is just ok and his makeup could slow his progress to the majors (that’s being real picky, I know). Rich will hit for decent power and have a solid BA; as well he’ll be a major asset in the field.
Rating: 9.5

New Orleans Voodoo (NL) – Miguel Estalella – Closer (Signed for 3.9 Million)
It is rare to see a closer taken this soon in a draft. BUT when looking at his potential control, splits etc…you can definitely understand the Voodoo taking this guy with their 2nd overall pick. Miguel should become a “lights out” type closer. If there are ANY drawbacks here, it’s his potential durability. It’s a little low for a guy who may get asked to go out 3 nights in a row (I doubt he’ll be able to). Still, in a few seasons this guy should be in competition for the NL Fireman Award
Rating: 9.0

Oklahoma City Obese Supermodels (AL) – Mitch Sobkowiak – 3B (Signed for 3.8 Million)
Again not a position you see taken this high in the draft. But with Mitch Oklahoma City gets a future Big Bat for their line up and a guy who should have great defensive abilities too. He would be a decent shortstop but he’d be an asset at 3B too (possible gold glove there). For a power hitter, he should develop a decent eye and contact ability at the plate. This will mean he’ll put some great #s. There really isn’t anything I don’t like about this future All Star really.
Rating: 9.5

Washington D.C Blue Coats (NL) – Andrew Clayton – CF (Signed for 3.7 Million)
Well it’s a close call but here is my “Pick of the Draft” for this season. This prospect’s potential hitting ratings are... well in a word scary!!! Major power hitter with a great batting average, definite possible future MVP material here. There two things that may hold Andrew back, marginal Durability and Health ratings. Even still this a player I’m sure nobody would turn down a chance to have on his or her team
Rating: 10

Toronto Toros (NL) – Geraldo Santayana – CF (Signed for 3.6 Million)
This prospect should become a solid defensive ML Cfer. Geraldo should develop into a decent overall hitter, his one weakness of a marginal RH with hurt his overall #s. Still he should make for a very good everyday CF at the ML level. The only thing is with this pick is you’d expect to get a little better of player for a 5th overall choice. Kind of looking at a guy who has perennial all star potential?? I think Geraldo doesn’t quite have that potential.
Rating 8.0

Boise Shadow Wolves (AL) – Einar Crespo – SP (Signed for 3.5 Million)
With the 6th overall pick, the Dark Hounds take the first starting pitcher selected in the draft. Einar should become a solid addition to Boise’s starting rotation in a few seasons. This prospect is really a sleeper of a sort; at first glance his ratings don’t JUMP out at you. But he should have solid control, very good splits and great overall pitch quality. Einar could very well become the ace of the staff when he’s ready for the big time.
Rating 9.0

Seattle Killer Whales (AL) – James Palmer – SS (Signed for 3.4 Million)
Here is a guy who also was seriously considered for Pick of the Draft honours (if Glove and range potentials were well into the 80s….). The Orcas get themselves a definite future All Star potential. He should hit for a real good average (definitely among the 10 or so of the league) and he’s god a little pop in his bat too. His potential range and glove are just marginal for SS position, maybe a 3rd Baseman… Again, as I mentioned which another pick, not much to say negative about this guy. Seattle will now have to see if they can get this prospect to his potential
Rating 9.5

San Juan Dead Bunnies (NL) – Bob Meyer – 2B (Signed for 3.3 Million)
There is no doubt Bob will make a fine ML player for the ‘Stiff Hares’ in a few seasons. He has great range and glove potential, but the potential with his arm marginal for potential ML 2nd baseman. Also, his RH split is just OK. All this isn’t so bad, but his potential durability is a little low. Still overall Bob should become a solid addition to San Juan’s line-up.
Rating 8.5

Syracuse Simpletons (AL) – Curtis Sierra – RP (Signed for 3.25 Million)
Here is another prospect closer taken early in the first round. Curtis’s potential isn’t quite what the Voodoo’s pick is. That’s doesn’t mean he isn’t worth being picked this early. I feel he definitely is. Curtis should have great velocity, control, RH Split, as well as solid pitch quality. All that adds up to a guy who should become a steady ML closer if he reaches his potential
Rating 8.0

Buffalo Blue Cheese (AL) – Dean Buehrle – C (Signed for 3.2 Million)
With the 10th overall pick the “Stinky Cheese” group selected the first catcher taken in the draft. This draft did have several decent catchers available, but the overall depth of talent in this position available was like it was a couple of seasons ago. Dean, I say is the best of group. He should have a great arm and be able to put up some decent #s from the batter’s box. His PC rating will just OK but considering what else he gives Buffalo, it’s acceptable. The thing that really stands out with Dean is his Durability!!!! The catcher position will be HIS and his alone really, a rare thing for the position.
Rating 8.5

Vancouver Golden Otters (NL) – Jerry Powell – 2B (Signed for 3.10 Million)
I’m surprised Jerry slipped down this far in the draft. Though I’m sure Vancouver is glad he did. Jerry’s potential fielding skills put him as an OK 2nd baseman at the ML level. It’s his offensive side that sells this guy. He could become a solid leadoff guy for Vancouver at the ML level; but one with a little pop in his bat. His ratings are pretty much standard for a leadoff guy: Great Contact, Decent Eye, Great Speed etc. So Jerry should become a valuable addition to the Golden Otter line up in a few seasons
Rating: 8.5

Philadelphia Phantoms (NL) – Alberto Vidal – SP (Signed for 2.9 Million)
Well with the 13th overall pick, the Phantoms get (in my opinion) the best pitcher available in this draft and 2nd best overall player available. If Vidal’s potential was a little better... If Philadelphia can get this prospect to his potential ratings, they’ll have a guy with Cy Young winning ability! To be honest, a guy with this potential and signability going this late… is unusual
Rating: 9.5

Anaheim Chiles (AL) – Gaylord Matheson – SP (Signed for 2.8 Million)
Gaylord has the potential to be a real good ML SP. Overall his potential ratings are really good with exceptional stamina. The one thing that does stand out is his overall pitch quality. First two are excellent but then there is a big drop off for the next two. The thing being, are the first two good enough to make up for weakness in #3/4? His splits are good but not great. This will keep him as a #3/4 pitcher, but he should be effective there.
Rating 8.5

Norfolk Destroyers (NL) – Dave Hodges – 2B (Signed for 2.8 Million)
My pick. While drafted as an infielder; his potential defensive rating shows him falling short of those qualifications. He’ll make for a just ok corner outfielder in a few seasons. It’s his offensive ratings that should make him a valuable asset. His only weakness here is his RH split, it’s just marginal. Still the other ratings should more than make for it. If I can get this prospect to his potential, he should put up some great #s at the ML level.
Rating 9.0

Boston Bambinos (AL) – Ron Cookson – COF (Signed for 2.7 Million)
Overall this prospect looks like a lesser clone of my pick above. Decent potential hitting ratings but weak RH and his defensive ratings also make him a just OK COFer. If Boston can get Ron to his potential, he should make for a valuable addition to their batting order.
Rating 8.5

St. Louis Silly Nannies (AL) - Kane Walters – 2B (Signed for 2.6 Million)
St. Louis gets two picks in the first round AND they are back to back (they also had the 33rd overall too). With their first pick they take a future ML 2nd baseman who should be able to put up some real good #s at the dish. The key with Kane is can he make it to his potential?? His health rating is poor, he could be injury prone and that could seriously hamper his development. Also, his durability is a little marginal too. Still IF he gets close to his potentials…he’ll be a good one
Rating 8.0

St. Louis Silly Nannies (AL) - Rafael Manto – SS (Signed for 2.5 Million)
With 2nd pick of the back to back pair, St. Louis takes a far less risky of a pick. Rafael should become a steady MLer in a few seasons. His potential defensive ratings are just OK for a ML SS but he could be moved to 3rd. His offensive ratings overall are just OK. Rafael may not ever make an All Star team BUT he should make a decent addition to the ML line-up
Rating 7.5

Salt Lake City Shakers (NL) – Stuffy Eyres – 1B (Signed for 2.4 Million)
With 18th pick in the draft, the Shakers take what has to be one the more unusual prospects in the draft. I’m not just referring to his name (though it’s strange too). This 1b/DH not only will have really good power at the plate BUT will be a threat to steal when on base as well. This kind of power and speed is very unusual, especially at this position!! Stuffy could very well be a 40/40 man at the ML level.
Rating 8.5

Helena Grotto Gottos (AL) – Adrian Hendrickson – SP (Signed for 2.3 Million)
With their pick in the first round, Helena gets a prospect who should become a solid ML starter. He should develop great stamina and control; his splits should be good as well. Pitch quality is definitely that of a ML starter, if makes his potential. Overall he not make it as the stopper in the rotation, still he has the potential to be the #2 guy.
Rating: 8.5

Charlotte Princesses (AL) – Nigel Acosta – SS (Signed for 2.2 Million)
Nigel should become a great defensive ML SS. But he’ll be at the bottom of the batting order on a ML line-up. His potential splits are definitely marginal for a ML hitter. Though his eye at the plate will be great and he should have good power; his contact rating is very low. This means inconsistency at the dish and lots of strikeouts. If he reaches his potential, he should hit a couple of dozen long balls and hit in the .240 range. A defensive specialist, Mr Acosta will be.
Rating 7.5

Jackson Vipers (AL) – Grover James – COF (Signed for 2.1 Million)
Here is basically another clone of my pick. But Grover has one thing my pick doesn’t, speed running the bases. His batting ratings overall are slightly weaker but still, he’ll put up the #s if he reaches his potential. Jackson has got themselves a guy who could in a few seasons, be an every day fixture in their outfield
Rating 8.5

Trenton Traffic (NL) – Roscoe Rigby – CF (Signed for 2.0 Million)
The Traffic gets with the #22 pick of this draft a player who could become a prototypical CF/Leadoff hitter at the ML level. Roscoe has great defensive ratings for playing the CF position and has great speed RIGHT now. While Roscoe’s batting average might be a little low for a leadoff hitter (contact is low for that spot); he’ll make for that with a little more pop in the bat than most leadoff type guys. This a very good prospect, for a very good price at this point in the first round.
Rating 9.0

Scranton Janitors (AL) – Luke Stein – SP (Signed for 1.9 Million)
IF Luke reaches his potential, he should become a solid #2/3 man in Scranton’s starting rotation in a few seasons. All his potential pitching rating are good except for control, which will be great. The two negatives here; first his durability is a little low for a starter (but not really a big deal) and secondly his health rating is a BIG question mark. I look at low health in a pitcher far more seriously than a positional guy. In my experience more pitchers get hit with more serious injuries (ones hurting their ratings) than do the guys playing other positions. Not saying, they DON’T happen but it’s more frequent with the guys on the mound.
Rating 7.5

Salem Sacrifices (NL) – Lonny Lindblom – SP (Signed for 1.8 Million)
If Lonny’s potential were better, I’d be saying here is maybe the pick of the draft. BUT their potential is just OK; also his durability is just OK as well. Still Salem has to be happy to get a guy of this quality at this point in the first round (and for a good price too). Even with these potential splits... Lonny could very well find himself at the top of Salem’s pitching rotation in a few seasons (though #2 spot is more likely, but it will be a STRONG #2).
Rating 9.0

Cheyenne Nation (NL) – Hi Fox – SP (Signed for 2.9 Million)
At first glance at this prospect’s overall rating and his splits…most owners would be drooling. But with a closer look, one sees two MAJOR weaknesses in this prospect’s potential ratings: Control AND Pitch Quality! If ML pitcher is going to have a control rating under 50, he’d better have great split and great pitch quality. Well Hi has one BUT not the other. I’m not saying Mr. Fox will not become a decent ML pitcher BUT he’ll be bullpen material. The low control and marginal pitch quality mean inconsistent performance at the ML level, not what you want in your rotation. There were a few others in the running for this dubious honour. What gave it to Hi was his very high overall rating; he’s not an 80+ pitcher
Rating 7.0

Louisville Legends (AL) – Trever Pierre – CF (Signed for 1.6 Million)
Trever’s potential glove and range are good for a ML CFer and overall his potential hitting ratings are good. Trever will not win a gold glove or a batting title etc. The one thing he does have is SPEED!!! Combine that with his hitting ratings, you have a ML leadoff hitter, who will hit a few homeruns as well steal a few bases. The one thing that will hurt him in the SB department is his base running skill. That being said, for the 26th overall pick, Louisville has got themselves a guy who should make for good starting CFer in a few seasons.
Rating 8.5

Houston Riverdogs (NL) – Wendell Lanier – SP (Signed for 1.5 Million)
Overall Wendell’s pitching ratings are really good. Good splits, real good pitch quality and solid control. The only thing that will keep him from the Riverdog’s starting rotation, his durability! It’s way too low for a starter. That means bullpen for this prospect. He should give Houston some quality innings from the pen though. Still is bullpen material what you want for your 1st round pick?
Rating 7.5

Chicago Snake Tamers (NL) – Shane Simms – SP (Signed for 1.5 Million)
Again we have a prospect that if not for one rating, he’d be SP prospect. Shane has great pitch quality potential and the other pitching rating have decent potential too. It’s his stamina that will keep him from the starting rotation. Now he could be a tandem pitcher but otherwise it’s bullpen for this prospect.
Rating 8.0

Milwaukee Manic Maulers (AL) – Bobby Ferguson – 2b (Signed for 1.4 Million)
The Maulers take a guy who’s potential defensive ratings are just marginal for the 2nd base spot at the ML level. While Bobby will not hit with a lot of power, he should have a real good batting average at the ML level. This could very well be a great #2 hitter in the Milwaukee batting order in a few seasons.
Rating 8.5

Monterrey Sultans (AL) – Matty McLaughlin – 3B (Signed for 1.3 Million)
The Sultans score as real good pick in the 30th spot of the draft. Matty should become a solid ML 3B and will hit for a good average, as well as hitting a fair number of long flies. This a great pick from this spot in the draft. Matty could be considered a little bit of a sleeper. The only thing against him is his durability, it’s potential is marginal. Right now it’s under 50; this could limit his playing time and therefore hamper his development.
Rating 8.0

Atlanta Bandits (NL) – Shea Omlansky – CF (Signed for 1.2 Million)
Again here is a great pick this late in the first round. Atlanta has a potential leadoff hitter and CFer here. He’ll steal some bases but hit a few long balls as well. The potential in the field is decent too. Again, his durability is a little low (also presently under 50) and his makeup is also marginal. Big question with this pick, can Atlanta get him to those potential ratings?
Rating 8.0

Fargo Dirtbags (NL) – Roger Hamelin – CF (Signed for 1.2 Million)
The defending champs take with their 1st pick, a future #2 guy in the batter order and solid defensive CFer. His potential batting ratings could be that of a decent leadoff guy but his speed on base paths just isn’t enough for that spot. Still, he should be a guy who hits for a good average at the ML level. There are no real glaring weaknesses, just a lot of real good potential here. In a few seasons, I think Fargo will be happy with this pick.
Rating 8.0

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1st Half Awards- American League

Here's how I would dole out the awards for the AL:

Most Valuable Player: Burt Stevenson, Milwaukee

Reason: A no-brainer. Leads all 3 Triple Crown categories (he's now tied with Buffalo's Julio Diaz for home runs). Also leads the league in on-base percentage and slugging. He is obviously the best hitter in the AL right now.

With apologies to: No one.

Cy Young: Miguel Benitez, Seattle

Reason: Leads the league in wins and is 4th in ERA. One could argue he's not even the best on his own staff (some of Kane Grahe's numbers are better), but it's hard to ignore the record (13-3 compared to 9-6) and his 5 complete games.

With apologies to: Grahe, Daryl Cashman (Boston), Lance Stevens (Louisville).

Least Valuable Player: Miguel Baez, Syracuse

Reason: This guy has 68 starts (55 in right field) and is hitting a whopping .142. His OPS (.388) is worse than the on-base percentage of 7 AL hitters. He walks a little and can run a little, but it's just not enough.

With sighs of relief from: Hub Barrett (Buffalo), Hideo Nakano (Boise), Clarence Hartman (Helena), Bernie Seanez (Jackson)

Cy Yuk: Louie Bolivar, Syracuse

Reason: No wonder Syracuse is the worst team in the league. Bolivar is 2-13 with a 7.60 ERA. The league hits .339 against him. Nobody in the AL has given up more home runs (27). Need I go on?

With sighs of relief from: Heath Caufield (OKC), Ham Bruske, Felix Comer, Lance Rodgers, Luis Piedra (Charlotte), Stephen Tucker (Boston), Danny Little (Louisville)

Fireman of the Year: King Burns, Milwaukee

Reason: This is tough, as I have to pick against a guy who has not blown a save yet (Carlos Carrasco, St. Louis). Burns is 19 out of 20, but every other number is phenomenal. His ERA is 0.77, his WHIP is a microscopic 0.47, and the league hits .086 off him. In 23 1/3 innings, he's allowed a grand total of 7 hits. Unbelievable.

With apologies to: Carrasco, Quilvio Sanchez (Seattle)

1st Half Awards- National League

Here's how I see the major awards after (just a bit more than) the halfway mark.


MVP: Bob Koplove, Houston

Reason: After a slow start average-wise, Koplove is hitting .314 with 40 HRs and 84 RBIs. To be perfectly honest, this is pretty much a dead heat betweeon Koplove, teammate Monte Duvall, and San Juan's Junior Tabaka. Koplove has the highest OPS of the three, so I'll take him by a nose.

With apologies to: Duvall, Tabaka.

Cy Young: Matty Eusebio, Atlanta

Reason: Tied for the league lead in wins, leads in ERA. He, teammate Stephen Michaels, and Fargo's Javier Henriquez are pretty much running stride for stride in this one. Some of the peripheral numbers (OBP, OBA, SLG) favor Henriquez; all three of these guys have been great.

With apologies to: Henriquez, Michaels.

Least Valuable Player: Nick Ramirez, Washington

Reason: Hitting .201 with an OPS of .527 (few walks, little power) and strikes out a lot (74 times in 87 games). But is it fair to criticize a defensive shortstop for his offense? It is when he leads the NL in errors (22)

With sighs of relief from: Luther Carroll (Philadelphia), Carlos Cervantes (Norfolk), Greg Burkhart (Fargo).

Cy Yuk: Turner Darr, Philadelphia

Reason: Has 18 starts and owns a 1-13 record. Averages just over 5 innings a start, but considering that the league hits .334 against him and he has an ERA of 7.31, maybe more innings from him wouldn't be a good thing for the Phantoms.

With sighs of relief from: Jesse Bridges, Curtis Sewell (Vancouver), Rich Gibson (New Orleans), Yuniesky Bennett (Philadelphia), Delino Montanez (Austin)

Fireman of the Year: Arthur Gates, Salem

Reason: Leads the NL in saves (24 out of 27). Has a WHIP Of 0.78, has an ERA of 2.66, and the league hits .183 off him. These numbers mean he doesn't just get the saves, normally he is dominant.

With apologies to: Alex Javier (Washington), Matt Skinner (Houston)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Around the AL

Hugo First checking in with an AL report:

-Helena isn't better on paper than Milwaukee, but if the playoffs started today the road to the World Series would go through Montana. They are the best in the AL in one-run games (20-6), which in inexplicable when you consider that their closer has an ERA over 5.

- Milwaukee and Monterrey won't have free rides to their 6th straight division titles; they have St. Louis and Jackson, respectively, breathing down their necks.

- Don't count New York or Boston out yet, but it looks like the AL East race is going to come down to Scranton and Louisville. Louisville made the deal for Black; that may put them over the top.

- The wild-card race should be interesting; each division has a legitimate contender. St. Louis, Scranton or Louisville (whoever doesn't win the East), Monterrey or Jackson (whoever doesn't win the South), and Seattle are all quality teams.

- Syracuse and Charlotte have both been brutal for the same reason- no pitching.

Around the NL

Our reporter Seymour Duless files this report after the 80 game mark:

- Boy, is Atlanta playing well. They were just doing OK, then won 19 out of 26. They're on top of the NL now.

- Fargo has stepped up; they had a 14 game win streak since the last report. Most of those wins were against lesser teams, but they did what they were supposed to do. They're back in the race.

- Trenton, Toronto, and Cheyenne have really fallen off the pace. They were in contention a month ago; all 3 are below .500.

- We're halfway through the season and Washington is 3 games back of a wild-card spot? Really? Kudos to the D.C. boys.

- Vancouver has been brutal this season. The Herrera deal is likely only the first in a fire-sale.

- In the South, Houston has retaken their familiar spot at the top. But I don't see San Juan going away.

- That being said, I say the best race down the stretch is likely to be in the north, with Fargo and Chicago battling it out.

Two major deals

We're now halfway through the season and two major deals have already taken place, one involving a sure-fire future Hall-of-Famer.

Trenton Traffic and Vancouver Golden Otters

Trenton gets: RF Cap Herrera
Vancouver gets: SP Damion Mays, IF Junior Hara (AA)

Analysis: Trenton had been trying to plug the RF hole all season (Leo Miller had been terrible, Max Clifton was OK), so the Traffic decided to get the best hitter available at the position. Herrera has always been a decent power hitter and recently has shown that he can hit for average as well. However, they do give up Mays, a bit of an odd move for a team that is struggling in its rotation. On Vancouver's end, they get Mays, a talented pitcher who didn't quite live up to expectations in New Jersey. The hard-throwing lefty hopes to solidify a very shaky Golden Otters rotation. Hara is a guy who has to find a position (it's probably not SS), but can hit and should find his way to a ML lineup.

Louisville Legends and Charlotte Princesses

Louisville gets: 2B Gregg Black
Charlotte gets: SP Esteban Gutierrez (Lo-A), RP Jerry Taylor

Analysis: An interesting deal on both ends. Black (now 34) is not quite what he once was, but he's still very dangerous at the plate. Is the future HOFer the guy who puts the Legends over the top? Or does Black slide too much and leave Louisville on the hook for the remainder of his contract (2 years, $18.8 million)? In my opinion, it's a gamble for the Legends, but one worth taking. In return, Charlotte gets two pitchers, both somewhat flawed. Gutierrez was the key to the deal; he's highly talented but has low stamina. At his best, he could be a Manny Christians-type pitcher. It's possible that the club could struggle to find a role for him, as several of Christians's teams had in the past. Taylor is a right-handed specialist- he'll struggle against lefties.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Overall Defense Analysis

Some things I can tell you about defense.

For the most part, 2B, SS and CF is the positions that need to be real solid.

A point or two low in range may not hurt all that much, but when it goes beyond that, more hits, minus plays and errors start occurring.

A weak glove will not hurt as much as weak range, just more errors will occur.

A weak arm at SS or 3B causes more problem than most think.

A stronger arm at 2B and CF is also more desirable.

More range at 3B, LF, RF and 1B adds some benefits to the surrounding positions.

As for a catcher and PC, I'll take the defensive power hitter with a 50 PC or better, if not I'll find something decent in the mid 80's and up.

An error can cause a loss just as fast as a home run.

For pitchers, every error, every missed hit, every missed double play, every minus play means more pitches. To the team it could mean more runs that shouldn't have been allowed.

Errors happen to most players no matter what, they have seen to that and maybe a minus play thrown in also.

The old adage that "a players hitting overcomes his bad defense" has its limits. Find some place he can play without the bad defense.

Some teams whose defense makes a lot of double plays cover bad pitching those that don't may have fly ball pitchers, infield defense is bad or pitchers are that good.

Push/Pull has more meaning defensively and offensively when scouting a team than you think.

Team Analysis NL West

NL West

Salem Sacrifices - Hits well. Starting Rotation is good but not overwhelming. The pen is not performing well.

Defense 4 Plus Plays vs 8 Minus Plays
2B - Adequate
SS - Sub Par
CF - Inadequate

Salt Lake City Shakers - Pitching overall is pretty good, does have a problem child here and there. Hitting overall is good. Tend to lose the close ones.

Defense 18 Plus Plays vs 9 Minus Plays
2B - Outstanding to Sub Par
SS - Sub par to Deplorable
CF - Sub Par to Outstanding
Hard to justify as players get shuttled around often. Manager understands push/pull tendencies of other teams and makes adjustments accordingly or it appears so.

Cheyenne Nation - A solid power hitting team. Starting pitching is not dependable. The pen plays give up uncharacteristically.

Defense 6 Plus Plays vs 9 Minus Plays
2B - Sub Par
SS - Inadequate
CF - Adequate

Vancouver Golden Otters - Other than the power hitters rest of lineup kinda fails at the plate. Pitching is not great and waiting for the minors to ripen.

Defense 7 Plus Plays vs 15 Minus Plays
2B - Deplorable
SS - Deplorable
CF - Outstanding
Oddity: First time I have seen a pitcher with more errors than most fielders, must be that 0 glove.

Team Analysis AL West

AL West

Helena Grotto Gottos - A power offense that doesn't rely on the long ball. Starting Pitching is mediocre at best. Pen is decent. This is a case where the numbers actually lie.

Defense 10 Plus Plays vs 4 Minus Plays
2B - Adequate
SS - Adequate
CF - Sub Par
Turns DP's really well

Seattle Killer Whales - Starting pitching is really good and holds the team together. The pen has its problems. Hitting hits better at home than away.
Denny Moss is actually playing defense for a change.

Defense 11 Plus Plays vs 14 Minus Plays
2B - Inadequate
SS - Outstanding
CF - Deplorable situation

Anaheim Chiles - Starting Pitching is good. Pen is not having success they should have. Hitting is under-performing.

Defense 6 Plus Plays vs 13 Minus Plays
2B - Deplorable
SS - Adequate
CF - Deplorable

Boise Shadow Wolves - Starting Pitching and pen has some problems. Offense is under-performing.

Defense 12 Plus Plays vs 11 Minus Plays
2B - Sub Par
SS - Adequate
CF - Deplorable
I must ask why a much better CF is playing 1B while CF would play better at 1B?

Team Analysis NL South

NL South

San Juan Dead Bunnies - Power pounding offense with good averages so they are quick strike and not just with the long ball. Pitching is good but suffer from the home park effects.

Defense 9 plus plays vs 10 minus plays
2B - Adequate
SS - Sub Par
CF - Sub Par
Turns DP's well. Most minus plays result from a deplorable backup SS.

Houston Riverdogs - Pitching is pretty good. Power home run team with a good mix.
* Jason Sprague draws attention here as I have seen this trend in pitchers lately. He is a GB power pitcher with a good out pitch followed by some mediocre pitches. For some reason they like arenas like the Juice Box, but put them in a neutral park, they tend to get lit up. To me they seemed designed for heavy pitcher parks but don't seem to perform well in that atmosphere for now.

Defense 12 plus plays vs 3 minus plays
2B - Outstanding - all 3 of them
SS - Outstanding
CF - Outstanding
Turns DP's well.

New Orleans Voodoo - Under-performs offensively. Pitching doesn't help.

Defense 7 plus plays vs 4 minus plays
2B - Adequate borderline
SS - Adequate
CF - Sub Par

Austin City Limits - Hitting is under-performing. Pitching is not so hot. This team is on the rise and will be feared in the near future.

Defense 18 plus plays vs 0 minus plays
2B - Outstanding
SS - Outstanding
CF - Outstanding
Good at turning DP's

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Team Analysis AL South

AL South

Monterrey Sultans - Power hitting team that is inconsistent at home. Starting rotation goes deep into games and is also inconsistent at home. Pen saves or holds the day.

Defense 13 plus plays vs 9 minus plays
2B - Outstanding
SS - Outstanding
CF - Deplorable

Jackson Vipers - Pitching is good and would be better with a defense. Very inconsistent hitting.

Defense 6 plus plays vs 13 minus plays
2B - Outstanding
SS - Deplorable
CF - Deplorable
2/3 of errors and almost all minus plays is between SS and CF and can't turn DP's

Oklahoma City Obese Supermodels - A for average offense that lacks quick strike ability. Starting rotation is good. The pen is another matter, this is evident by the 1-run and extra inning losses.

Defense 14 plus plays vs 3 minus plays
2B - Sub Par but gets the job done
SS - outstanding
CF - Outstanding
Starting 2B in on DL but also sub par, current defense turns DP's well

Charlotte Princesses - Power offense that hits well. Pitching is good but numbers look bad and is a direct result of the defense.

Defense 3 plus plays vs 19 minus plays
2B - Deplorable, this was the old adage that offense covers bad defense
SS - Inadequate, he looks better than he actually performs
CF - Deplorable
Can turn DP well.

Team Analysis NL East

Now to the NL East

Atlanta Bandits - Starting Pitching may be the best around. The offense powers the way, just not consistently. The pen on the other hand is another story.

Defense 12 plus plays vs 7 minus plays
2B - Outstanding
SS - Adequate though weak armed
CF - Adequate though weak in the glove
DP's are low because there aren't many chances. 2B is being robbed of plus plays.

Trenton Traffic - Offense hits for inconsistent power. Pitching is good but is also inconsistent.

Defense 10 Plus plays vs 7 minus plays
2B - Inadequate but overcompensates with the glove
SS - Outstanding
CF - Sub Par but may grow into the position
3B - Inadequate
Doesn't turn the DP well

Washington D.C. Blue Coats - Pitching keeps games close. Offense hits for average and helps win the close ones but lacks the power game to score quickly.

Defense 8 plus plays vs 3 minus plays
2B - Inadequate as he has lost a couple steps
SS - Adequate but gets tagged with a lot of errors for unknown reasons
CF - Adequate
Turns the DP real well

Norfolk Destroyers - Two pitchers away from having a great staff. Offense is lacking.

Defense 14 plus plays vs 4 minus plays
2B - Sub Par
SS - Adequate
CF - Adequate

Monday, June 8, 2009

Team Analysis AL East

Since someone wanted to the about the scale I use to determine how I decide on the player I will try to explain it first. For the most part, I use all the players fielding ratings, not just range and glove. Also, sometimes a player could be developing at the position still, I only use current ratings because my advance scouting is only $16M. If they are still developing and have the potential I may mention it.

Deplorable means that a player doesn't have the ratings close enough to the recommended ratings to play the position in the first place. Sean Simpson is one example of that, sorry mfoster.

Inadequate means the player may have one rating that allows him to play the position but the rest is not close enough to be considered for the position. Normally his error or plus/minus rate indicates this. Like a 75 range and 85 glove in CF.

Sub Par means he has one rating that is really too low to play the position.

Adequate means he meets or is within two or three points of the recommended ratings to play the position. Like 83's across the board would be adequate for a SS.

Outstanding means he exceeds the most of the ratings.

As for the GB/FB, a pitcher needs to have a 1.50 or better ratio to be considered GB to me. That equates to about a 74. Mostly GB is 1.25 or better and that is about 60+. The rest I consider FB pitchers more or less and when you are in a hitters park there is more of a chance for long balls regardless of their other ratings. Any pitcher can give up home runs for any reason. A power pitcher may have more strike outs but for the most part throws just as many pitches as any other per batter on average, the key is less balls in play. However, very good power hitters like power pitchers. Many pitchers with a large number of home runs can be explained away by a bad rating or several and sometimes it can be the catcher or even the park.

Scrantons GB pitcher J.R. Guerrero is an example, he has given up two homers at home, a relatively neutral pitchers park, but 12 on the road. His Vsr is a handicap in the plus stadiums on the road and really doesn't get any help by the good 58 PC catchers.

Now onward to the AL East

Louisville Legends - Pitching keeps them in most games including the pen. Long Ball offense helps.

Defense 9 plus plays vs 1 minus play
2B - Age is becoming a factor to becoming inadequate but still gets the job done
SS - Outstanding
CF - Adequate

Scranton Janitors - Starting pitching gets them deep into games where the pen can take over. Offense is strong enough to eke out wins especially at home.

Defense 14 plus plays vs 5 minus plays
2B - Adequate barely, weak arm hurts relay throws
SS - Inadequate as weak arm hurts
CF - Adequate
Turns DP's really well which helps.

Boston Bambinos - Pitching is a problem at home. Hitting is pretty good at home but put up better power numbers on the road. Curse of the Green Monster?

Defense 7 plus plays vs 6 minus plays
2B - Inadequate
SS - Inadequate
CF - Inadequate
3B - Inadequate
Can tun the DP relatively well

New York new york - Pitching is very solid. Hitting is for average which isn't bad.

Defense 12 plus plays vs 15 minus plays
2B - Inadequate
SS - Deplorable
CF - Sub Par though justified with injury situation but gets job done
This is a case where an adequate SS could turn this team into a contender.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Team Analysis NL North

Continiung onward and upward with the NL North side

NL North

Chicago Snake Tamers - They win on the road. Four of the five starting pitchers are having good seasons as is part of the pen. The offense isn't exactly clicking.

Defense 16 plus plays vs 3 minus plays
2B - Adequate and getting better
SS - Outstanding but backup doesn't play the position well
CF - Outstanding
3B - Deplorable

Toronto Toros - Starting Pitching is not star studded but adequate. It appears the pen has problems keeping the game tied but can close things out with a lead. The offense is so-so and not going to come back from a big deficit.

Defense 9 plays vs 7 minus plays
2B - Adequate
SS - Adequate
CF - Adequate and could get better but doubtful
Catcher - actually has the bulk of the errors for unknown reasons, could it because he is a rookie?

Fargo Dirtbags - Most of the starting pitching is having problems don't let the 3.62 ERA fool ya but for the most part under-performing. The pen is good but has a tendency to blow games. Power hitting without the averages is not helping.

Defense 4 plus plays vs 0 minus plays
2B - Adequate
SS - Adequate
CF - Adequate
Errors are not exactly high but spread evenly and they don't turn the DP well.

Philadelphia Phantoms - The pitching is not as bad as their record indicates. The big thing is the GB/FB rating is wrong for most parks especially at home thus they give up a lot of HRs. The pen isn't much help. The lack of offense in not helping matters either.

Defense 14 plus plays vs 6 minus plays
2B - Inadequate
SS - Sub Par
CF - Inadequate
Bigger problem is LF

Team Analysis AL North

The cold hard facts. Will do these for each division once a day.

Milwaukee Manic Maulers - They are in first because of a power Home Run offense. Pitching is actually spotty even though they have an overall ERA of 3.99.

2B - Deplorable
SS - Adequate
CF - Deplorable

St. Louis Silly Nannies - They are in second because of pitching, the starters go deep into games and are backed up by a good pen and a shut down closer. Offense ekes out enough runs to win games.

2B - Inadequate but is getting the job done
SS - Adequate
CF - Adequate

Buffalo Blue Cheese - With 4 decent pitchers on staff and 5 good hitters isn't a winning combo.

2B - Inadequate
SS - Adequate
CF - Inadequate

Syracuse Simpletons - This team is way under-performing on the mound and at the plate. One of the best defensive teams there is.

2B - Exceptional
SS - Exceptional
CF - Exceptional

Will the real Jacque Puffer please stand up?

From the Seattle office of The Bigs Daily News:

The last time Seattle Killer Whales left fielder Jacque Puffer was in the league news it was around the 20 game mark. At that point, Puffer was hitting a dismal .208 but had already driven in 21 runs. The question was, "Is Jacque Puffer having a good season or a bad one?". Well, I think that question can now be answered. Since that point in the season, Puffer has gone on a tear. He is currently hitting, .322, with 22 Homers and has driven in 49 runs. Puffer also has just tied (and looking to pass) Jackson Vipers young sensation Dennis Tamura with the longest hitting streak in the American League this season at 19 games. Although the season is still young, Jacque Puffer has made his presence felt.

Besides the self improvement, Puffer has changed the attitude in the Killer Whales locker room. After 20 games, Seattle was 9 -11 and the ship was sinking fast. Puffer’s desire to win has added a shot in the arm and going into game 60, the Killer Whales are 33-26 and are 6 games out of first. For Seattle, this is uncharted territory. Seattle has never finished the season over .500; in fact, the best finish was in Season 4 when they went 77-85 (.475). The team chemistry has taken some time to come together, but the Killer Whales are finally swimming in the right direction. When asked how the rest of the season was going to go, Puffer responded, “Well, we just want to continue in the right direction and take it day by day.” Off the record Puffer went on to say that his teammates love to prove people wrong. He added that the Whales want to steer clear of the Gumbercules jinx and prove that they can with stand the pressure and take the division.

Jacque Puffer is the real deal and the Killer Whales are slowly becoming the team that everyone feared them to be. Just ask gydk and the Milwaukee Manic Maulers (38-21). Seattle just won 2 of three against them and in game 3 Milwaukee won 2-1 in a pitchers duel between Milwaukee’s Alex Calvo (6-1) and Seattle’s ace Kane Grahe (7-4). I asked the Killer Whales outspoken superstar 3B Denny Moss his thoughts on the remainder of the season, “I invite everyone to come to the Seattle Killer Whales payback tour, coming to a stadium near you!” I was speechless as I watched the all-star slugger head into the club house. The baseball world will have to wait to see how this plays out, but I will say this, look out American League. Jacque Puffer and the Seattle Killer Whales have officially arrived!

Take 5

We've gone a little more than 1/3 through the season.

What are the 5 strangest trends we've seen so far this season?

1. Home Sweet Home???

Out of the 8 first-place teams, 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Helena, San Juan, Salem) have better road records than home records. Milwaukee and Louisville are exactly 1/2 game better at home.

2. The Importance of Being Errorless

None of the 1st place teams are in the top 10 in fielding percentage. Three of the last place teams are in that top 10. 12 teams are below the league average in fielding; 5 of those teams are over .500.

3. Power outage in Chicago

Sean Simpson has 6 HRs thus far, projecting out to less than 20 for the season. His career low is 31 and right now he's tied with Monterrey's defensive catcher Bum Casey.

4. Payroll = wins?

The team with the lowest payroll (Jackson) is leading their division. Two of the top three teams (Fargo and New York) aren't. In fact, New York is in last.

5. Triple Crown?

It's very rare to have a Triple Crown candidate, but currently Milwaukee's Burt Stevenson (.369-26-63) leads the AL in all three. By the way, he also has more home runs than strikeouts.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Anaheim Signs IFA and Others

The Anaheim Chiles are proud to announce their latest pepper plant to the organization in Victor DeLeon. At a cost of $11.6M they get a habanero type pitching plant they hope becomes the hottest in the show. However he comes with specific growing instructions for a healthy career.

Neifi Gonzalez was signed by the Atlanta Bandits for the mere price of $18M. He could be really great, but his 3rd pitch may frito good outings.

Max Javier was signed by the Washington D.C. Blue Coats for $20M. Listed as a SS but I see him as becoming a GG 3B. Will have some very nice hitting abilities at the ML level also. They have already put him through his paces at the Low A level and has visited the DL with a case of blue balls.

The Austin City Limits spent the entire organizations payroll ($27M+) on Miguel Castilla. Their hopes rest on a definite #1 starting pitcher. In time they may have their dream of a Cy Young pitcher.

The Charlotte Princesses signed Quilvio Posada for $9.4M. After signing he had second thoughts being a real Prince in a school girls uniform. Management is giggling with glee of what they have seen from his pitching abilities so far.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Take 5: Draft edition

We've examined the "best" in season 1. Now, let's look at the picks that were panned by aginor and how they've done 5 seasons since that fateful day.

Who were aginor's least favourite draft picks from season 1, and how are they doing?

1. Benji Stewart, P, Salem (#5)

aginor's analysis: If Benji does get signed, he should become an OK ML pitcher. He's got good control and stamina, BUT he'd better be pitching in a "Pitcher's Park" due to the fact that he has low velocity and the fact that he's a fly ball pitcher. Throw in the fact that he doesn't have a real "go to" pitch... says to me he's bullpen material. Overall rating: 3/10

How is he doing: Salem's front office differs from aginor; Stewart has been a starter since arriving in Salem 3 seasons ago. He's had mixed results in what is not necessarily a pitcher's park. Last season he went 13-10, but he's still below .500 for his career. His career ERA is 4.71. He seems to be doing better than aginor thought he would; however, I'm not sure if he's been worth the #5 draft pick and the signing bonus ($9.075 million) it took to get him.

2. Alex Calvo, P, Milwaukee (#27)

aginor's analysis: The Maulers went a little "off the board" with this pick; most teams that saw him had him pegged as a 2nd rounder. Alex's control is below what most look for in an ML pitcher and he doesn't reall have a "go to" pitch. Combine this with him being a finesse pitcher... says bullpen guy to most. Maybe the Milwaukee scouts see something the rest didn't??? Time will tell. Overall rating: 5.5/10

How is he doing: It's been 5 seasons and the jury is still out. Like Stewart, he had a promising rookie campaign (12-9, 3.51 ERA), but lost his spot in the rotation and failed to win an entire game (in 3 starts and in 26 bullpen appearances) the very next season. He's back in the rotation as of now; time will tell what that yields for Milwaukee.

3. Eddie Marquis, P, Norfolk

aginor's analysis: Eddie should make a solid #3 or #4 starter at the ML level in a few years. While he will not have dominating stuff, he should give the Destroyers a fair number of quality starts. With a slight leaningn toward being a fly ball pitcher and weak #3 and #4 pitches, he'll need a solid defense behind him. Overall Rating: 6.5/10

How he is doing: A starter in the minors, aginor (this was his pick) is trying him out as a reliever this season (his first in the majors). So far, he's had good success, but we only have a quarter of a season on which to judge his major league career; he took longer than most of the 1st rounders from this class to make the big leagues.

4. Michael Giambi, SP, Monterrey

aginor's analysis: In Michael the Sultans are getting a pitcher with good ML potential. Whether it's as an end of the rotation guy or out of the pen, time will tell. Should be able to take a game into the late innings as a starter and will not ealk many batters. But his "go to" pitch is OK at best and his other pitches are, well, marginal. Overall rating: 6.5/10

How he is doing: Has a total of 4 1/3 major league innings to his credit, and that was back in season 3. He was traded from Monterrey to Charlotte (now Scranton) and made 2 appearances, making 1 start. He pitched last season in AAA and is still there, winning games but posting an ERA over 5 both last season and this season. He's in danger of becoming a career minor leaguer.

5. Frankie Lightenberg, RP, Ottawa (now St. Louis)

aginor's analysis: In Ligtenberg the "Bad Cats" get a future dependable setup guy for their pen. Frankie doesn't quite have the knockout punch needed to close at the ML level. Still, this hard-throwing lefty should be a valuable addition to Ottawa's pen in a few seasons.
Overall rating: 6.5/10

How he is doing: Pretty much exactly as aginor had predicted. Now 26, Frankie is in the middle of his 2nd full season with the big club, and is having a good season as a setup guy. Last season he may have been a bit overworked and his ERA ballooned a bit (as compared to this season and his 32 2/3 innings from season 4), but he seems like a dependable setup guy. I believe aginor's low mark here was, in large part, due to the team selecting a setup guy in the first round, which I would have to question myself.

Draft News

Normally I wouldn't post anything about the draft except with some of the new updates, so I thought I would be kind. After I have been through one draft already and a 2nd before this one takes place, I have came up with some things to look for.

The formula builder is not really the greatest tool I have seen, but it is pretty good once you play with it enough to understand what it is doing. Still I don't care for it all that much.

What I have seen though is that owners tend to draft BPA. With that in mind and with the OVR change to pitchers, this means there are more position players drafted early. What happened in my first draft, was most of the position players available in the draft was gone by the 6th or 7th round. Several very good pitchers whose OVR would have been in the 80's actually dropped to mid and to late first round picks. Closers normally taken late first round or early second round actually dropped to third and fourth round picks. So one has to take a lot of care when setting up your board as to where pitchers fall into place.

One on one with Boston GM tj01536

We caught up with Boston GM tj01536, one of the original The Bigs owners, to get his thoughts on his team, budget strategies and David Ortiz, among other things. Here's what tj had to say:

Of your three HBD teams, which is your favorite and why?
Tough call between this one, and continental. Been in both since the start, had better luck so far there, but like my future better here here, and the blog is great.

As I write this, your team is three games under .500 yet only three games back of division leading Louisville. Are the Bambinos more focused on the future or are they trying to take the division this season?
I would say in the near future I may have a winning team, got some good minor leaguers I need to get to the show though to really contend.

What adjustments, if any, would you need to make for the Bambinos to make their first playoff appearance?
Think I need that one monster bat in my lineup, and get the youngsters playing up to potential, and I should be all set.

With your Boston team, you’ve kept basically the same budget since season 1. What is your strategy come budget time and is it the same for all of your HBD teams or does your final budget depend on different factors?
Most of my teams end up around that same budget range. I like to get decent money in the scouting categories, so I can have decent prospects for the seasons to come, and try to keep my salaries fairly low by not taking on huge contracts that would kill my budgets in the future.

You’re always a big player in the international market. Arguably, your biggest IFA snag has been Ivan Hernandez, who is now playing for your AAA club. What are your future plans for him and how soon can we expect to see him at the ML level?
I may bring him up at the end of this year, or maybe the beginning of next. He will definitely start next season in the ML. Always liked playing the IFA sweepstakes, you can grab up some real gems in there at times. Others though, don't go so well. Honestly I think I have gotten more busts than stars, but when you get a great one, it's definitely worth it.

I see that you’re a Red Sox fan like myself. What is your opinion on what the team should do with Big Papi?
MMMMMMMM, tough subject there. Love Papi, and what he's done in the past. Honestly though, I think he's kinda becoming a liability, and at that level, he needs to be replaced. Kills me to say it though

The NL East looks ridiculously tough this season with the emergence of Toronto. Will the Sox make the playoffs this season? If so, how far can they go?
Another tough one. Yeah I think the Sox can make it. And actually go all the way. As long as the pitching can hold up, and they get the production from the previously mentioned Papi.

If you could change one thing about HBD, what would it be?
The thing that consistantly drives me nuts with HBD is the coach hiring process, gives me fits every time!!!!!! Gotta be a better system

Monday, June 1, 2009

Take 5: Draft edition

For the next few installments of Take 5, we're going to take a look back at the season 1 draft. Coming up on 5 seasons after that day, we are starting to get somewhat of an idea as to how these guys will turn out. With that in mind, today's Take 5 question is:

Who were aginor's favourite 1st round picks from season 1 and how are they doing?

1. Amp Palmer, IF, Lousville (#6)

aginor's analysis: ...Amp is the whole package in potential. Slick fielding, great arm and solid bat... this kid could very well become MVP material. In 3 years, look out AL!!! Overall rating: 10/10

How he is doing: Currently playing 3rd base for the big league club that drafted him. Amp only had 300 at-bats last season, but started to show his potential at the plate, hitting .321 and driving in 78 runs in only 72 games. He's carried that over to this season, hitting .305 with 13 HRs and 32 RBI in 42 games. He's been very good in the field, only making 1 error at 3rd. Even if he doesn't win an MVP, I see multiple All-Star appearances in his near future.

2. Lonny Gates, SP, Houston (#3)

aginor's analysis: Lonny has the potential to become a solid ace pitcher in the majors! Should be a solid ground ball pitcher with 4 solid pitches. The only major drawback on Gates is his velocity. He's a pitch to contact type BUT with a solid infield... can you say possible Cy Young material?Overall rating: 9.5/10

How he is doing: Only 23 years old, could already be considered the ace on one of the NL's best teams. He's already won the Rookie of the Year Award after last season's 17-10 campaign. Currently at 4-2 with a 2.41 ERA, I'd have to say that aginor was right on this one as well.

3. Jason Walker, CF/2B, Atlanta
aginor's analysis: Unlike other first rounders that might be in the majors in 2-3 years, Jason will take awhile. The wait will definitely be worth it, though!!! With his potential abilities, you have an All-Star calibre CF or 2B who should hit for average and have decent power numbers. Overall Rating: 9.5/10

How he is doing: Not taking any longer to reach the majors than most of the other top prospects, Walker is now entering his 3rd major league season. While putting up solid numbers, Walker has not reach the level of stardom that Palmer and Gates have. Last season he hit .286 with 25 HRs and 61 RBI while scoring over 100 runs. There are some flaws in his game (could improve defensively, gets thrown out stealing too often), but he's been a solid contributor.

4. Felix Comer, SP, Charlotte (formerly Nashville)

aginor's analysis: I'm sure Nashville was happy to see Comer still available when their turn finally cam around! Like some of the other late 1st round picks, Felix is a long-term project. But the light at the end is a hard-throwing lefty who could be the ace of the staff. Solid command of 4 above-average ML pitches, will keep ML batters guessing. Quite a steal to grab a guy of this quality at #29. Overall rating: 9.5/10

How he is doing: After a good rookie campaign (7-4, 3.58 ERA in 18 appearances), the wheels have come off at the start of this season. He's started 8 times and is 0-6 with a 6.60 ERA. Is this what he will be or is it just a slump? Most of his starts have been at home and Charlotte is a neutral park, so that doesn't bode well.

5. Jimmie Williams, 1B, Washington (formerly Philadelphia)

aginor's analysis: While normally I'm not a big fan of drafting a 1B/DH in the first round, Williams is, without a doubt, an exception to that rule. He will hit for both average and power, making him the ideal clean up hitter. A guy like Jimmie is not there for his glove or arm (good thing!). This future fan favourite will make pitchers' ERAs go up!
Overall rating: 9/10

How he is doing: aginor hit the nail on the head on this one. Williams is far from outstanding defensively, but has already made his mark as a feared hitter . In his first full season in the majors, he hit .298 while hitting 46 HRs and driving in 103. While slumping a bit last season, he has returned to form (.329-18-47 through the first 42 games) despite the organization trading David Rushford in the offseason.

Note: 5 other players (Jack Hunt, Che Bong, Chris Lowry, Mateo Batista, Tito Martin) were also rated 9/10. Williams was chosen for being the last of the 6 taken and for having what I thought was the mostly glowing write-up by aginor.

At the quarter pole- AL

Hugo First files another report on the AL.

- Milwaukee again looks like the class of the AL. They score the most and yield the least in the AL- usually a good combination for winning games.

- Helena looks like the move to Montana has helped them. They hit .262 last season in Vegas- they're hitting .292 so far this season.

- Jackson currently has a 4-game lead on Monterrey. Not sure if they can break the stranglehold on that division this season, but it looks like they're here to stay.

- No one wants to win the east- New York and Louisville are 22-20 and Scranton and Boston are both 20-22. New York has done a nice job so far overcoming the loss of Castillo.

- Charlotte has the worst record in the AL. Look for Gregg Black and/or King Winn to be dealt soon. Ham Bruske has been awful.

- Seattle and Anaheim are at .500 and right on the edge of the playoff race. What moves are they going to make, if any?

- Kane Grahe seems to be a very good signing for Seattle. He's given them length and is pitching very well.

- Hipolito Maradona may be the Cy Young leader right now for Louisville.

- Burt Stevenson is leading in all 3 Triple Crown categories at .397-20-46. He leads the batting race by 54 points.

At the quarter pole- NL

About a quarter of the season is gone. Here's what roving reporter Seymour Duless sees in the NL:

- San Juan still has the best record, based mostly on their offense. It'll be interesting to see if they can hang on or if Houston, which has trouble scoring but whose pitching has been great, can catch them by the end of the season. It'll also be interesting to see if Junior Tabaka can keep up this pace, which would put him well over 200 RBI for the season.

- The NL West has 3 teams (Salem, Salt Lake City, Cheyenne) all within one game of each other. Expect this race to be tight all season.

- The biggest story so far may be Fargo and their disappointment. The defending champs and the team with the highest payroll has the majors' worst offense. Expected to win their division, if the playoffs started today, they wouldn't be in.

- If you had bet before the season that at this point Washington would have a better record than Fargo, you could have made some serious money. Jimmie Williams has been incredible for them so far.

- It'll be interesting to see what Toronto and Trenton do within the next 40 games or so. They're both right on the edge of the wild-card race and could be buyers or sellers.

- Atlanta is keeping Trenton in the race, but I think they'll pull away at some point. They have too much talent.

- Chicago looks like they made the right moves in the offseason- both Osvaldo Johnson and Babe Broadhurst have been outstanding.

- How do you go 7 for 7 in save opportunities and yet have an ERA over 8? Ask Toronto's Daryl McKinley.