I’m not sure the name of the scout who directed the St Louis Cardinals to draft Matt Adams with the 699th overall pick of the 2009 out of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, but whoever that scout was needs a raise. The 22 year old first base prospect has established himself as the Cardinals top power hitting prospects. If there is anyone who had the most to gain should Albert Pujols decide to leave St. Louis, it would have to be Adams. In a breakout 2011 season, Adams has destroyed Double-A Texas League pitching hitting .314 with 22 Doubles, 27 Home Runs, and 89RBI’s for Springfield. This follows a .310, 41 Double, 22 Home Run, 88 RBI effort in his first full season as a pro with the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits in 2010. In the story Adams talks about continuing to bring it every game down the stretch, skipping High-A, staying patient while he awaits a promotion to Triple-A, his future should Pujols stay in St Louis, and refining his discipline at the plate. It’s a very good read.
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is likely days away from beginning a minor league rehab assignment according to MASNSports.com. The 23 year old Strasburg is coming off Tommy John surgery. He is likely to begin his rehab with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns before progressing to High-A Potomac and moving up from there. The former first overall pick back in 2009 created a frenzy, selling out stadiums across the northeast, as he moved through the minors in 2010, going 7-2 with a 1.30ERA in 11 combined starts for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. Strasburg made his major league debut on June 9th against the Pittsburgh Pirates and struck out 14 batters. He went 5-3 with a 2.91ERA in 12 big league starts before he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow on August 21st, 2010 against the Philadelphia Phillies and had Tommy John surgery on September 3rd. If Strasburg’s rehab assignment runs smoothly it is likely he will be back in the Nationals rotation sometime in early September, a little over a year after the injury occurred.
The San Diego Padres have traded Mike Adams to the Texas Rangers for pitching prospects Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland. The 20 year old Erlin is the number two ranked pitching prospect in the Rangers organization. This season between the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Double-A Frisco Roughriders, Erlin has posted an 8-4 record with a 3.34 ERA. He has struck out 123 batters in 121 innings pitched while walking just 12 batters. Opposing hitters are batting .219 off him. In 2010 Erlin went 6-3 with a 2.12ERA for the Low-A Hickory Crawdads where he struck out 125 batters in 114 innings while walking just 17 batters. The 6’0″ lefty was a third round pick of the Rangers in the 2009 draft. Wieland, who threw a No Hitter this past Friday has had a breakout 2011 season between Myrtle Beach and Frisco going a combined 10-3 with a 1.80ERA while striking out 132 batters and walking just 15 in 129 innings of work. Opposing hitters are batting just .233. In 2010 between Hickory and the High-A Bakersfield Blaze, Wieland went 11-7 with a 4.07ERA. The 21 year old right hander was a fourth round pick by the Rangers in the 2008 draft.
The Baltimore Orioles have traded first baseman Derek Lee to the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for prospect Aaron Baker. Baker is currently batting .282 with 21 Doubles, 15 Home Runs, and 73 RBI for the High-A Bradenton Marauders. The 23 year old first baseman batted .253 with 34 Doubles, 18 Home Runs, and 79 RBI’s for the Low-A West Virginia Power. Baker was an 11th round pick of the Pirates in the 2009 draft out of Oklahoma.
The Colorado Rockies have traded Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians for a package that includes Drew Pomeranz (who will be a player to be named later as he cannot be traded until August 15th, a year after he signed), Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride. The 22 year old Pomeranz was the 5th overall pick out of Ole Miss in the 2010 draft and has been lights out since turning pro. This season he is a combined 3-3 with a 1.98ERA and has struck out 112 batters in 91 innings between the High-A Kinston Indians and the Double-A Akron Aeros. He was a participant in the 2011 Futures Game. The 6’5″ lefty has as high a ceiling as any pitcher in the minor leagues. White went 1-0 with a 3.60 in 3 starts with the Indians earlier this year before going on the DL with a finger injury. The 22 year old pitched a simulated game on Monday and was scheduled to start tonight for Akron before being scratched upon news of the pending trade. White went 10-10 with 2.45ERA in 25 starts between Kinston and Akron in 2010. He was the 15th overall pick of the 2009 draft out of North Carolina. Gardner is another product of the 2009 draft. The Indians took the 23 year old in the third round out of UC Santa Barbara. He is currently 7-8 with a 4.99ERA in 19 starts for Akron. Gardner was 12-6 with a 2.68ERA in 28 starts for Kinston in 2010. McBride is a 26 year old with a solid bat who has yet to play above the Triple-A level. He was second round pick by the Indians out of LeHigh University way back in 2006 and has been in the Indians organization since. After not hitting more than eight home runs in any of his previous minor league seasons, McBride broke out with a 44 Double, 18 Home Run, 99 RBI year between Kinston and Akron in 2009. He followed that up with a 31 Double, 21 Home Run, 79 RBI year between Akron and the Triple-A Columbus Clippers in 2010. This season McBride has once again split between Akron and Columbus and has posted a combined .279, 26 Double, 15 Home Run, 56 RBI year to this point.
The Kansas City Royals have traded Mike Aviles to the Red Sox for prospects Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz. The 23 year old Navarro has seen brief big league action with the Red Sox in each of the last two seasons. He batted .143 in 20 games with Boston in 2010, and batted .216 in 16 games this season. Prior to his 2011 call up Navarro batted .258 with 8 Doubles and 5 Home Runs in 128 Triple-A at bats for Pawtucket. He was originally signed by the Red Sox as a non drafted free agent back in 2005. Volz is 6’5″ right handed reliever. He is currently 2-3 with a 3.33ERA and two saves in 31 appearances at High-A Salem. He has struck out 56 while walking just 12 in 51.1 innings of work, with opposing hitters batting .222 against him. the 23 year old is a Team USA alum and was drafted by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2009 draft out of Baylor. He has been a starter in the Red Sox system prior to this year.
As first reported by SI.com’s Jon Heyman late Friday night, the Detroit Tigers plan to call up the organization’s top pitching prospect Jacob Turner. The 20 year old was 3-5 with a 3.48ERA in 17 starts for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. Turner has struck out 90 batters while walking just 32 in 113.2 innings this year. Eastern League batters are hitting just .239 against him. Turner who was 9th overall pick in the 2009 draft went a combined 6-5 with a 3.28ERA between the Low-A Western Michigan Whitecaps and the High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers in 2010. He is considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball and was among the key pieces of the Tigers bid to acquire Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez at the trading deadline.
The Houston Astros have acquired Philadelphia Phillies prospects Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart as well as Josh Zeid and a player to be named later via trade in exchange for Hunter Pence. The 19 year old Singleton is the Phillies top overall prospect. This season for the High-A Clearwater Threshers Singleton is batting .282 with 14 Doubles, 9 Home Runs and 47 RBI. Last year for the Low-A Lakewood Blueclaws the 6’2″ left handed hitting outfielder batted .290 with 25 Doubles, 2 Triples, 14 Home Runs, and 77RBI. Singleton was an 8th round pick in the 2009 draft out of Millikan High School in California. Cosart is arguably the top young arm in a Phillies organization loaded with them. The 20 year old is currently 9-8 with a 3.92ERA for High-A Clearwater. He’s struck out 79 batters in 108 innings of work and opposing hitters are batting .243 off of Cosart. The right hander went 7-3 with a 3.79 ERA in 71 innings for Lakewood in 2010. Cosart was originally a 38th round pick of the Phillies in the 2008 draft out of Clear Creek High School in Texas. Zeid is a 24 year old relief pitcher currently playing for Double-A Reading where he is 2-3 with a 5.65ERA. After 11 starts, Zeid was moved to the bullpen where he has picked up two saves, and has an ERA of 2.25 in his 10 relief appearances. Zeid went 8-4 with a 2.83ERA for Lakewood in 2010. He was a 10th round pick of the Phillies in the 2009 draft out of Tulane.
The folks at InsideTheRockies.com have put up a phenomenal piece chronicling Tyler Matzek‘s return to Low-A Asheville following nearly a month long return to California to work with his youth pitching coach Lon Fullmer, and return to the hybrid version of the Dr. Mike Marshall pitching style that he had grown up with. See below for the differences in Matzek’s delivery between high school in 2009 and now as a pro in 2011. The pitching techniques taught by Dr. Marshall, the 1974 National League Cy Young Award Winner and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology, are all but blackballed by major and minor league pitching coaches. Among the drills that are part of the program is pitching with 20 pound wrist weights and using an iron ball (see video below). The Inside the Rockies article goes in-depth with Fullmer who describes returning Matzek to the style of pitching he grew up with. The drastic action of sending Matzek home came about after the lefty got off to a 0-5 start with an ERA of 10.71, and 61 walks in 42 combined innings between High-A Modesto and Low-A Asheville. It will be interesting to see what kind of a difference the change in approach makes for Matzek, who was the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Again the Inside the Rockies piece is a must read.
Since being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the second round of the 2009 draft out of El Toro High School in California, all Nolan Arenado has done is hit. The 20 year old is a career .307 and is currently blistering the California League to a tune of a .310 average with 24 Doubles, 1 Triple, 11 Home Runs, and 74 RBI’s as a member of the Modesto Nuts. Among the most impressive stats from Arenado’s career thus far is that he’s struck out in just 108 of his 924 career at-bats, a rate of just over 11 percent. Equally as impressive is that over 37 percent of his hits go for extra bases. Arenado played in the 2011 Futures Game and did what he does best, hitting a double off Royals pitching prospect Kelvin Herrera. We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Nolan Arenado.
TPA: What was it like being around all of the best prospects in baseball at the Futures Game?
Nolan Arenado: It was a blast. It felt so good being around players you hear and read about, and some of them I know personally, like my high school classmate Austin Romine of the Yankees.
TPA: What were some of the things you will take with you from the Futures Game experience?
Nolan Arenado: We were treated so well. All of the attention on us was nice. Playing for such a big crowd was awesome and Chase Field is a great ballpark. It was an honor representing the Rockies. You never know if an opportunity like this will come up again, so I just tried to enjoy every minute.
TPA: After a slow start to the season offensively in 2011, you’ve been one of the hottest bats in the minors over the last month or so. What adjustments did you make to help lead to your recent success?
Nolan Arenado: I did start out slow but I didn’t panic. I made some small tweaks to my swing. I have since tried to stay consistent with what I’m doing at the plate.
TPA: What type of approach and swing thought do you take with you to the plate?
Nolan Arenado: I want to drive the ball. I look for a fastball to hit. I try to do what the situation dictates, and not try to do too much.
TPA: You did a bunch of Perfect Game events when you were in high school, describe that experience, and how seeing the some of the best prep pitching in the country at the time helped prepare you for pro ball?
Nolan Arenado: Perfect Game was a good experience. The more I did them, the more confidence I got. You definitely improve when you play against better competition.
TPA: What’s been your biggest challenge thus far in your pro career?
Nolan Arenado: It is a long season. So, staying consistent in my hitting is a challenge at times.
TPA: Being from Southern California what has it been like getting to play some of your road games this year in cities close to home?
Nolan Arenado: That’s one of the best parts. I’ve been lucky to have my family and friends come out and watch me play. Their support means a lot.
TPA: What has been your best memory so far as a pro?
Nolan Arenado: I am going to have to say the Futures Game so far. I had extended family come out as well, and it was great seeing them. On the field, meeting and talking to pro players was unforgettable. Also, another highlight was working out with Tulo this past winter.
Check out the clips below to see some of what Arenado experienced while at the Futures Games