Monday, September 17, 2007

Green Diamonds: Hank Conger, C, Cedar Rapids (A, LAA)

Hyun Choi (Hank) Conger, C
DOB: Jan. 29, 1988
HT: 6' WT: 205
Drafted: Huntington Beach, CA (HS), 2006, 1st Rd.
Signed By: Bobby DeJardin

HISTORY: Given name is Hyun; was nicknamed Hank by his grandfather, taken from Hank Aaron, having had difficulty pronouncing Hyun Choi...Signed for $1.35 mil...Rated as #1 prospect in Arizona League in 2006, debut season cut short to only 19 games after suffering hamate fracture in right hand...Hit .319/.382/.522 in 69 AB in '06, .290/.336/.472 with Cedar Rapids (A) in the Midwest League in '07...Also had 21 2B, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 9 SB in his Class A debut...Gatorade's 2006 California Player of the Year...Has also played 3B, 1B, SS and the OF as a prep player...Named by Baseball America as Best Power Hitter among HS players, 4th best position player in the 2006 Draft (20th overall)...2006 Louisville Slugger Pre-Season High School All-American first team, 2006 and 2005 Cal Hi Player of the Year, and 2005 AFLAC All-American first team.

STRENGTHS: Aggressive hitter, plus power to all fields from both sides of the plate and makes consistent contact...Impressive makeup, mature beyond his years...Arm grades well at C; Pop time of 1.85 sec (measured in 2004)...7.3 in the 60 (also in 2004)...Works very hard at honing his craft, from all accounts.

WEAKNESSES: Does not currently project well if he remains behind the plate; there is some question as to whether he will remain mobile enough to handle the position...Hands and catch-and-throw skills play well now, however...Swing is more a matter of trying to muscle the ball, and has not yet learned to let his leverage work for him...Somewhat pronounced uppercut will cost him Ks at the plate in the higher levels...9 steals was probably a stretch, as he is not a great runner.

OUTLOOK: His power is enough to take him to the Majors, but I doubt he'll be behind the plate when he gets there. If he can maintain some kind of mobility and improve his footwork, he could be a fine corner infielder. The arm strength is already there, and he has the makeup to adjust well to learning a new position. If I'm running the Angels, I'm getting him some work at third and first before he rises above High-A. His value would obviously be higher if he were able to remain behind the plate, but that's not likely to happen. As things stand, I'd like to see a bit more from him before I make a judgement on him, but I like the potential here. You should watch his progress; it may be interesting.

Clinton Riddle

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bonderman Shut Down For Regular Season

May Pitch Again in October, Too Soon To Tell


Clinton Riddle

SEPT 13, 2007-Why does it always happen to the young ones?

Jeremy Bonderman, one of the young guns in the Tigers' rotation, was shut down for the remainder of the season after an MRI showed inflammation of the lateral aspect (lateral collateral ligament, perhaps?) of his right elbow. This is a chronically recurring inflammation that Bonderman says he's been dealing with since 2005.

"I'm happy with the results", said Bonderman. "I'm just going to rest now. I've had this for three years. I had it in '05, and last year it came and went. This year, it kept lingering. For the rest of my career, I'm just going to have to focus on it. ... I've got to figure out how to have it not happen again."

There is, of course, much relief that there was no major injury reported, certainly nothing requiring surgery and perhaps costing Detroit the services of one of their dominant power pitchers for months.

"I didn't tell anybody how bad I was because l wanted to go out and pitch," he said. "Maybe some people don't think I did the smartest thing in the world, but the team gave me a contract and they need me to go out and pitch."

Leyland said, "We are trying to come up with a philosophy now in the organization that we want to know about the first minor little sign of anything (that is wrong with a player) so we can check it out. We can do research to make sure it doesn't turn into something else."

Something else, indeed. Fortunately for the Tigers, Bonderman decided to speak up. He would do well to look to his future, because he could have a very bright one.

OUTLOOK: Bonderman is still relying too much on that hard slider of his. He had been working on a changeup that was coming along quite well, and my feeling is that he needs to get back to changing speeds and working his infield a bit more, let the guys behind him do their job, instead of trying to blow it by everyone. This is always hard for young power pitchers to do, but he's apparently having to learn the hard way. I guess if I threw 99 mph fastballs, I'd think the same way, but he should think long-term. When he starts mixing in more changeups, I think that inflammation will abate and he'll get past it. Also, I ALWAYS take team medical reports with a grain of salt; after all, 'major injury' is a relative term. What they're willing to say is 'major' is subject to debate.

Good luck, Jeremy. I'm looking forward to many years of dominant performances, so take care of yourself NOW.

Clinton Riddle

Quotes from [url=]The Detroit Free Press[/url]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Book On...Brandon Morrow, RHP, Seattle (AL)

Brandon Morrow, RHP
DOB: 7/26/1984, Santa Rosa, CA
HT: 6'3" WT: 190
Debut: 4/3/2007 vs. OAK (AL)-1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 ER
Signed By: Stacey Pettis

HISTORY: 5th overall pick out of California in 2006 Amateur Draft...Insulin-Dependant diabetic, who wears an insulin pump when not on the mound and has to monitor his blood sugar during games...Highest draft pick in school history.

STRENGTHS: Power pitcher with mid-90's FB (touches 99)...Can maintain velocity deep into the late innings...Mid-80's slider, hard diving splitter...Seattle has plans to make him a starter, as he projects as an innings-eating workhorse.

WEAKNESSES: Needs to work on command a great deal, and his overall feel for pitching in order to become an effective starter...Doesn’t use his CU nearly enough; seemed to fall in love with his splitter, which may cause forearm troubles to recur (forearm soreness limited him to 16 IP in his pro debut).

OUTLOOK: Was effective as a reliever, and though he averaged a SO per inning, he also nearly averaged the same in walks (48 BB, 56 IP). Allowed only 3 HR this year, which is owed at least in part to his hard slider, but with his velocity he could do himself a big favor by working off that potentially dominant FB and using the slider and CU to produce easy groundball outs.

2008 Projection: 12-8, 4.35 ERA, 27 starts, 165 IP, 65 BB, 130 K shouldn’t be a stretch. He’ll probably have a lot of no-decisions to deal with, pitching well enough to win in most situations but will need better than average run support when he’s on the mound, at first. I like this kid; big time arm, big time endurance, just needs experience.

Clinton Riddle

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bruce Named BA Minor League POY

SEPT 9th 2007-Outfielder Jay Bruce, the first-round pick of the Reds in 2005, has been named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year.

The 20 year old Bruce, who hails from Beaumont, Texas, started 2007 in high Class A (FSL) and had little difficulty with the adjustment, hitting 11 HR, 27 2B and batting .325 in only 67 games. Class AA was no challenge, either, as Bruce hit .333 with 4 more homers. When promoted to Class AAA Louisville, a promotion originally intended to be temporary, the hits just kept on coming. Bruce hit 11 HR in 50 games with the Bats, finishing the year at .319/.375/.587, 46 2B, 26 HR, 89 RBI, tied for 10th in the minors in hits (166), ranked 2nd in extra-base hits (80) and TB (306), and all while making the amazing leap from Single A to the Majors.

"You just can't say enough good things about Jay Bruce," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "We're thrilled that Baseball America would honor him with such a prestigious award. It's an honor, not only for Jay, but for the entire Reds organization as we move forward."

OUTLOOK: This guy is for real, a big time talent who has nothing to prove. He could certainly benefit from a full season in AAA, and there is no real rush to bring him up for good. When he does make The Show to stay, however, he'll be a key component of the Reds in the decade to come. Along with Joey Votto at first, Jeff Keppinger at short, and Buck Coats and Norris Hopper in the OF, the Queen City has a lot to look forward to, and will need only to shore up their pitching to become a formidable opponent in the NL Central. I project him to be a 20-20 guy, hitting better than .300 and knocking in around 100 runs by 2009.

Clinton Riddle
The Grand Old Game

The Book On...David Shinskie, RHP, Twins (MiLB)

David Shinskie, RHP
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6'4", Weight: 205 lbs
Born: May 4, 1984

STRENGTHS: Former HS QB, very athletic ballplayer...FB tops at 94, pitches comfortably in 90-92 range with good late sink...Plus slider in mid-80's, hard break...Command problems in the past, though now seems to be 'effectively wild', and has managed to keep BBs down to 19 in 64 IP @ Ft. Myers (Class A+)...Allowed only 4 HR in '07, with a solid 3.38 ERA...Has worked on consistent release point on slider.

WEAKNESSES: Will need to develop CU or curve in order to be more than a long man, which is what he looks like now...Comes around too far on slider.

OUTLOOK: Has youth and athleticism on his side, and should learn to easily repeat his delivery, arm slot and release point, making him far more effective. Looks like a potential #3 starter, to me, but must come up with effective 3rd pitch first.

Clinton Riddle

The Book On...Nick Adenhart, RHP, LA Angels (MiLB)

Nick Adenhart
DOB: 8/24/86
6'4", 190
Drafted: Williamsport, MD-2004, 14th Rd.
Signed By: Dan Radcliff

HISTORY: Forced to go under the knife as a youngster in 2004, but recovered to become the best pitching prospect in the Midwest League (2006).

STRENGTHS: Three plus pitches...FB at 93-95, easy arm motion...Circle CU at 81-84, at this point a better pitch than CV...Curve has tight spin, 11-5 type, 75 mph with good break...Aggressive and seems to deal with pressure situations pretty well.

WEAKNESSES: Needs not to lean on CV so much...Lead leg tends to stiffen up, which could cause extra wear and tear (deceleration injury) on his arm, especially with a surgical history already...

OUTLOOK: Profiles as a strong #3, but could be solid as #2 if he continues to work the CU and his FB retains already excellent velocity. Could stand to gain a few pounds, as this may help him to maintain stamina towards the end of the season.

Clinton Riddle

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Book On...Atlanta (NL) Pitchers, 2007

Scouting the Braves Pitchers


Clinton Riddle

Feb 28th, 2007-Once a paragon of pitching power, the Braves have as many questions as answers in 2007. Much will depend upon Mike Hampton's comeback from elbow surgery in 2005, as well as Tim Hudson's return to form and John Smoltz's comtinued excellence at age 39. Lefty Chuck James will need to build on last year's solid performance, and Tanyon Sturtze should be ready before May is out. If the rotation can fall together, and that is a rather big "if", then the Braves could be a force to reckon with.

Team ERA-4.71
K/BB Ratio-2.06/1
Opp. BA-.279

John Smoltz, RHP
Future HOF
2006: 16-9, 3.49, 232 IP, 211 SO, 55 BB, .251 BAA
Just keeps on going, with no real signs of slowing down...Has been able to become a dominant closer relatively late in his career, then switch back to the rotation and pick right up where he left off...How many can say that?...FB reaches the high-90's still, but works around 93-94, along with a cutter, hard slider and splitter...cutter has late action, looks a lot like his slider but runs instead of breaks...Throws a curve to LHH, works in and out with ease...Splitter is only used occasionally...Has stayed in great shape and seems to have an even better feel for his stuff now than in years previous.

2007 Projection: 17-6, 3.65, 210 IP, 180 K, 65 BB

Tim Hudson, RHP
2006: 13-12, 4.86, 218 1/3 IP, 141 SO, 79 BB, .273 BAA
Big surprise, and not in a good way...Finally seemed to show his mortality last year, as his control became an issue...Classic sinker/slider pitcher...Heavy sinker at 92-94, curve, slider, CU and splitter...Aggressive with the curve to lefties, sinker bores in on RHH, splitter drops like a rock...Got a little fine around the plate in '06, and while his BB total wasn't terrible he was wild in the zone and paid for it...Should rebound without question this year, though he may be streaky at times with location at first.

2007 Projection: 15-8, 3.60, 200 IP, 155 SO, 55 BB
Mike Hampton, LHP
2006: DNP
Last healthy in 2005, his return from elbow surgery is vital to Atlanta's resurgence...Has athleticism going for him, along with a strong track record...In 2005 had FB around 88-90, good curve and plus CU...FB has natural tailing action which he throws away from RHH...Mostly away with everything, will go inside to LHH with curve...Hard to say what he's going to do this year, but assuming he's able to stay healthy he should be a solid #3...At 34, he doesn't have a lot of time to work with.

2007 Projection: 13-8, 4.25, 140 IP, 85 SO, 55 BB

Chuck James, LHP
One to Watch
2006: 11-4, 3.78, 119 IP, 91 SO, 47 BB, .232 BAA
Young lefty with a good idea of what he's doing on the mound...Good mechanics and arm action...FB tops out at 90, slider and CU...Throws CU with same arm speed as FB, adding to deception...Slider has better lateral movement than downward break...Should be able to continue development regardless of league batters' adjustments.

2007 projection: 14-7, 3.68, 175 IP, 125 SO, 70 BB

Kyle Davies, RHP
One to Watch
2006: 3-7, 8.38, 63 1/3 IP, 51 SO, 33 BB, .332 BAA
Is much better than numbers would indicate, as is often the case with young pitchers...FB in low-90's, curve and CU...Plus FB but gets up with it and gets hit hard because of it...If he can keep the fastball down and be more aggressive, as well as maintaining his plus change, he should develop into a solid #3 or a very good #4...Also needs to work on mechanics.

2007 projection: 10-11, 4.45, 135 IP, 110 SO, 55 BB

Tyler Yates, RHP
FB up to high-90's, tough to handle when he's on...(to be continued)

Rafael Soriano, RHP
2006: 1-2, 2.25, 53 G, 60 IP, 44 H, 65 SO, 21 BB, .204 BAA
Power pitcher, 3/4 arm slot...FB up to mid 90's with movement low in the zone, slurvy slider and CU with 2-seam action...Could stand to separate speeds a bit more...Hit in head with line drive last August, could affect his game.

2007 projection: 2.50, 60 G, 65 IP, 55 H, 62 SO, 30 BB, .233 BAA

Oscar Villarreal, RHP
2006: 9-1, 3.61, 58 G, 92 1/3 IP, 93 H, 55 SO, 27 BB, .261 BAA
2.63 ERA after the AS break...Can be short man or middle reliever...Mid-90's FB, splitter-like CU that is in early stages, heavy sink on FB, late slider...Changes arm slot as well to keep hitters on their toes...Has problems with maintaining velocity in consecutive appearances.

2007 projection: 3.35, 54 G, 74 IP, 65 H, 50 SO, 33 BB, .245 BAA

As before, will add on as I am able.

The Book On...Kei Igawa, RHP, New York (AL)

NYY-Kei Igawa, LHP

Control pitcher...relies on offspeed pitches and movement on both sides of plate, will come in often to RHH with curve and running FB...cannot make mistakes, tops out at comfortably in 85-88 mph range...nice looking curve, good break and better than average lateral movement makes it effective on both LH and RH...curve at 77-79, flattens out when he overthrows...also throws running CU (shooto?)...up in the zone with FB often.

The Book On...Chris Young, RHP, San Diego (NL)

Chris Young, RHP
Born: 5/25/1979
HT: 6'10" WT: 260

Massive righty coming into his own...Will be impossible to keep a secret after this year...High 3/4 arm slot, short-arms the ball but still gets consistent movement and velocity...Hard to read and even harder to hit...134 hits allowed in 179 1/3 IP last year (.206 BAA!)...Could stand to come off the plate a bit; enough stuff to lure hitters out of the zone...flyball tendencies...Works the vertical plane well, nice curve and developing slider, along with plus changeup...Is continuing to grow as a pitcher; is good enough to become a #2 for sure.

Originally posted on, Mar. 6, 2007.

The Book On...Ronny Paulino, C, Pittsburgh (NL)

Ronny Paulino
HT: 6'2" WT: 235
DOB: 4/21/1981

Who knew?...Hit .310 as rookie catcher in 442 AB, though 82% of hits were singles...Did collect 19 2B, and looks good for 15+ HR, this year...No real challenge for catcher position means that Paulino should match or exceed ABs...Basically an offensive catcher; good arm, not very mobile or quick, blocks balls in the dirt well...Mainly an arm hitter now, but will learn to drive the ball...Arm extension makes him somewhat vulnerable to the inside fastball...Heavy even for catcher, and will have to be careful not to gain even more...Slow on the bases, so his value lies more in RBIs than runs scored.

Originally posted on, Mar. 7, 2007.