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keith laws note from zona

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keith laws note from zona

Postby jellis » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:01 pm

ore notes from Cleveland's minor league side …

• Cleveland lefty David Huff had a chance to win a rotation spot this spring -- and it was a good chance, with competition like Carl Pavano, Jeremy Sowers and Kirk Saarloos -- but struggled in four innings and was sent out. His velocity, reportedly sitting 89-92 mph and touching 94 last summer, is back down to the upper 80s, touching 90 a few times, and his secondary stuff wasn't crisp. His best pitch was a low-80s slider with late tilt, followed by a changeup with good arm speed and some run but not much action. His curve was soft with a 12/6 break. He hides the ball well behind his body and shows above-average command, but the soft fastball plus the lack of a definite out pitch (the slider could be one, but isn't quite there, and his changeup was nowhere near as good as in the past) adds up to a low ceiling.

• I cannot believe, almost eight months later, that the Dodgers traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake. Seeing Santana for the first time this spring has retriggered the existential crisis I underwent when first hearing the Dodgers had traded this great catching prospect for an old, not very good impending free agent. It can't possibly be real. Santana is a force at the plate -- sure, he has a funny setup with a toe-tap and a big stride, but he keeps his weight back, lets the ball travel and then goes medieval on it. He's getting his arms extended more this year and is strong enough to drive the ball to the gaps or out of the park anyway. I don't think he's that far off, but even if he was, you just can't give a guy like this away for two months of Casey Blake.

• Lefty Tony Sipp is back to 100 percent after missing almost two years with an oblique strain and then Tommy John surgery, but he should make an impact on Cleveland's big league pen this year with the stuff he showed Wednesday. Sipp sat from 88-91 mph, touching 92 once on a fastball that straightened out too much, and threw a couple of plus sliders at 83-84 that had tilt but moved in to right-handed hitters very late like cutters. He also showed a fringe-average to average changeup in the low 80s but needs to keep the pitch down more consistently. It's a funky delivery with some deception that will make him tough on left-handed hitters, but he should be able to get righties out as well by backdooring the slider and mixing the fastball and change.

• I had rated Michael Brantley as a probable fourth outfielder over the winter based on secondhand reports and the lack of power (his career ISO is just .061, and he threw out an unfathomably low .039 in low-A in 2006), but having seen him three times this spring I think that I was wrong. He's too good of a hitter to dismiss as a fourth outfielder, and I'd be surprised if he didn't eventually show enough doubles power to profile as at least an everyday player. He has great hand-eye coordination and keeps his weight back well; he concentrates so much on contact that he doesn't try to drive balls middle-in to right field, but I'm convinced now that it's not a lack of ability but a hit-first approach. He's a plus runner and plays a solid center field. If the grade I had on him before was a 45/50, he's really a 50/55.

• Carlos Rivero left Wednesday's Double-A game after banging his knee while sliding, but the injury isn't serious.

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/in ... =law_keith
Last edited by jellis on Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
jellis
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Re: keith laws note from zona

Postby jellis » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:01 pm

Notes from a day with Cleveland's A-ball kids:

• Cleveland left-hander Kelvin de la Cruz threw three innings in an A-ball game Tuesday, working from 88-91 mph with his fastball, although a Cleveland coach remarked after seeing the radar readings, "He throws harder than that." His best pitch, and clearly his favorite, was his 78-79 mph changeup with some downward action and very good arm speed, although I wouldn't call it an out pitch. His slider was soft and didn't have great horizontal movement. He has a loose arm but only moderate arm speed, giving the impression that he wasn't throwing at 100 percent, and he was a pretty slow worker.

• I caught part of Lonnie Chisenhall's BP on Tuesday, and he didn't play in the game, so all I can offer is two observations. He has a great swing with good bat speed, and he should have been above de la Cruz when I did my Cleveland top 10 prospects back in January, possibly above Hector Rondon as well. If he can find a position, he'll move up my rankings significantly.

• Abner Abreu is a high-upside outfielder who spent 2008 in the Gulf Coast League. He's long and lean -- Old Weird Harold would be an appropriate body comparison -- and the ball comes off his bat very well. He's just 19 and still raw as a hitter after just one year of pro ball in the U.S. His swing can get long on anything below the middle of the strike zone and his recognition of offspeed stuff is poor. He's also a below-average runner who takes oddly short strides for someone his height.

• Tim Fedroff was a surprise signing for Cleveland last year, inking a $725,000 deal, or second-round money, as a draft-eligible sophomore. He's a left fielder who doesn't project to hit for power, is an average runner and bars his lead arm badly at the plate. There are hitters who bar out and still do make contact, but they constitute the exception.

• One of Cleveland's Taiwanese prospects, catcher Chun-Hsiu Chen, played half the game and took a good BP. He has an easy, contact-oriented swing and good bat speed; he looks like he should hit for power down the road, but right now he's just using his arms and not using the rest of his body well enough to do so. In the game, he took a 90 mph fastball over the center fielder's head for a double, and made a good throw on a bad pitch to try to nab a runner at second.


http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/in ... =law_keith
jellis
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Re: keith laws note from zona

Postby Hermie13 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:36 am

hmm....I thought De la Cruz's best pitch was his sinker (hence the Carmona references).....


Good to hear that Rivero's knee injury isn't serious though.
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