Thursday, June 26, 2008

Winter Meetings

We caught up with commissioner Romano on the way to his bunker in Petaluma, California and he had the following to say about the upcoming Hard Ball Dynasty season, "Well, we're just about ready for the Winter Meetings, coach hiring, free agent signings and the rest of the off season, so I really don't have much time for you. But, I would like to personally thank the new owners for joining our World, and to wish them the best of success (except for Mike since he's in my division). Now go away because I've got free agents and prospective coaches to review!"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Impact International FA Signings This Season

My scouts have gone through all of the International free agents signed during this season and have compiled a list of the best of them. I have listed only those with overall ratings over 70, although I know some below 70 will have an impact and some in this list will not. Here goes:

1. Ivan Blanco - Kansas City Force - $7.1M Bonus - RF
An excellent signing by the Force for this future major league Right Fielder. He can really hit with projections of 92 contact, 75 power, 74/68 for vsL/vsR and a 78 batting eye. This is evidenced by his having hit 390/466/727 in 77 AB's in the minors. With excellent health and durability, Ivan should be real "force" by season 6.

2. Felipe Torres - Iowa City Whitetails - $8.7M Bonus - SP
Also an excellent signing for the price, this sinker baller also has good secondary pitches as indicated by his plus slider, splitter and change up. His projected 93 stamina, 85 control and splits of 83/72 with a 92 rated sinker make him a potential top of the rotation SP.

3. Byung-Hyun Nakano - New York Bombers - $13M Bonus - RP
Nakano should be closing many games for the Bombers in the coming seasons with very good curveballs and tough sinkers. He has good stamina at 36, excellent control at 91 with tremendous splits at 93/96. Unfortunately, his owner jumped the gun and brought him straight to the majors where he's not surprisingly gotten shelled with a 6.23 ERA and 1.66 whip in 21.2 innings. He also gave up 7 HR's. Starting next season in AA or AAA would be a good idea.

4. Al Javier - San Francisco Seals - $10M Bonus - SS
Al has al the makings of a very good major leaguer, although I'm not convinced his future lies at SS since his range is projected to top out at 76; although his glove, arm strength and accuracy are more than good enough for the position. He can really hit too with 88 contact, 57 power, splits of 69/82 and a decent eye projected to 55. He hit very well in his 1st pro season with 359/434/629 and 11 HR's and 60 RBI's in 248 at bats in rookie league.

5. Kiki Tatis - Pawtucket Pawn Stars - $7.8M Bonus - SP
Kiki projects to be a middle of the rotation SP who can eat up a ton of innings, and stay healthy doing it with very good control at 83 and solid splits of 74/67. However, he has only one good pitch, and that's a sinker my scouts rate at 81. All other pitches are below 60. He also was brought straight to the majors, and definitely should be in the minors for a couple of seasons to reach his potential.

6. Tony Trevino - Los Angeles Dodgers - $10.5M Bonus - LF
This future HR champion can hit the long ball. This is clear from his 1st pro season where he hit 297/400/622 with 20 HR's in 246 LoA at bats and 373/465/880 with 11 HR's in only 83 HiA at bats. This smart baserunner should be a fixture in Los Angeles come midway through season 6, if not before then.

7. Pascual Crespo - San Diego Conquistadors - $12.3M Bonus - SP
San Diego's future Ace should be ready by the end of season 7. He has very good control at 87 with great splits at 72/96. Truly only a two pitch pitcher with a very good first pitch rated to 88 and a second at 74, his other show-me pitches should help him be a very solid ML starter and appear in a few all-star games. He was 5-2 with a 3.04 and 1.15 whip in rookie ball.

8. Mark Lui - Syracuse Stragglers - $3.9M Bonus - SP
The highest overall rated of Syracuse's many IFA pickups, Mark will have a difficult time succeeding at teh ML level with only 71 control and splits of 59/43. He does have two ML quality pitches in his fastball and slider. He had 2 mediocre starts in HiA and ended up with a 5.40 ERA and 1.63 whip.

9. Junior Batista - Scottsdale Gunners - $18M Bonus - SP
A very costly and risky investment by Scottsdale doesn't seem to have paid off already as Junior suffered a severe injury in his 1st pro season (torn labrum and still out for 179 more days). His poor health rating (47) will be a cause for more concerns. However, this talented fastball/change-up pitcher has a great deal of upside.

10. Benny Espinosa - Tacoma Winter Stix - $18.5M Bonus - 3B
The highest paid of all the international free agents, Benny would not appear to be worth the money. Sure, he can hit and definitely field his position with the best of them, and will undoubtedly contribute as an everyday 3B at the ML level, but it sure was a lot to pay.

11. Diego Gabriel - Iowa City Whitetails - $8M Bonus - 1B
This hard hitting (91 power), high contact/low strikeout first baseman (99 contact and 80 batting eye) should hit lefties and righties equally well (splits of 77/76). His 71 health projection is of some concern, so hopefully there are no nerve irritations, bulging disks or other power sapping injuries in his future. He did not see any action this season.

12. Felipe Johnson - Charleston Hurricanes - $8M Bonus - SP
Felipe has stamina (68) and health concerns (70) for a ML SP, but his stuff is not questioned. He has solid control (81), good splits (60/78), great durability (35) for a starter and a blazing fastball rated to 94. He should be a good ML starter if no injuries hit him hard. He was 1-3 in 18 starts with a 4.07 ERA in High A ball.

13. Moises Belliard - Syracuse Stragglers - $4.9M Bonus - SS
This slick fielding SS will wow them with the glove and should be good enough offensively to have a long major league career. He has a very good batting eye (81) and good enough speed (86) where he might see some time at the top of the Stragglers' lineup someday. A very good pickup for the price.

14. Damaso Alvarado - Jacksonville Jellyfish - $4.8M - SP
Damaso struggled in his first pro season going with a 36 ERA in AA and a 6.75 ERA and 1.77 whip in AAA. He could use some time in High A Ball next season to get back his confidence. There's reason to believe he will be a solid ML SP in the middle to the end of any rotation.

15. Benito Lopez - Scottsdale Gunners - $5.8M Bonus - SS
Benito has all the natural tools to be a ML shortstop, with good batting eye (75), splits (83/66) and contact (61). He has little power, but that's not his game. Unfortunately, he has mediocre speed as well. He hit 311/403/416 in loA ball this season and should move quickly through the Gunners farm system.

16. Felipe Sardinha - Cleveland Curse - $14.6M Bonus - 1B
That's a lot of money for a 1B, but he should be worth every penny. Felipe will undoubtely be seen in the HR Derby many times in the near future. His 88 contact, 100 power, splits (80/72) and batting eye of 75 have him projected as an MVP candidate. He did not disappoint in LoA with numbers like this: 350/442/617 with 14 HR's and 56 RBI in 240 at bats.

17. Wilfredo Seanez - Syracuse Stragglers - $6.1M - RP
Another of the Stragglers many IFA pick-ups, Wilfredo should be a fixture in their bullpen by season 6. He has very good control (89) and splits (61/68), a +++ fastball (95) and plus slider (76). He should avoid injuries and progress well, quickly.

18. Vladimir Seguignol - New York Metropolitans - $5.5M Bonus - RP
This son of former KGB spies stationed in the Dominican was lights out in his first pro season going 10-for-10 in saves with a 1.08 ERA and .90 whip in loA Ball. He has a good splitter (75) and very good sinker (85) with control (85) and splits (64/76) that should make him a welcome addition to the NY Bullpen by year 7.

19. Ivan Martinez - Iowa City Whitetails - $3.2M Bonus - SP
Ivan will eat as many innings as you can give him (100 stamina). Unfortunately, his lack of control (47) and only average splits (51/60) without more than 1 plus pitch (fastball at 89 - second pitch, slider at 67), will make him cannon fodder for ML hitters. This is evidenced by the absolute pounding he took at the LoA level - 7.90 ERA and 2.34 whip; albeit in only 3 starts.

20. Enrique Ortiz - Tampa Bay Rowdies - $8.3M Bonus - CF
Enrique has ML tools enough to be a solid CF or more likely 4th OF, but his health rating of 53 might get in the way. He has a very good batting eye (76) and good speed and baserunning (83/86). The Rowdies ownership hopes his success in his 1st pro season is a sign of things to come as he hit 375/452/583 with 17 HR's and 102 RBI in 451 AA at bats before tearing up AAA during his brief 28 at bat stint there.

21. Benito Mondesi - Trenton Generals - $2.9M - Catcher
Illegitimate great-grandson of the Generalissimo himself, Benito might not end up catching many games at the ML level, but he certainly will be hitting the pitchers. His great contact (91), splits (90/62), good power (71) and batting eye (75), combined with a 49 rating for pitch calling and only 64 arm accuracy are calling out for the DH/1B position at the ML level.

22. Felipe Moya - Trenton Generals - $5.0M Bonus - SP
Felipe will be a solid middle of the rotation SP for the Generals as he has very good splits (73/80) and two plus pitches in his fastball (83) and slider (80). His somewhat poor control (54) may not hurt him too much, but it certainly did in his 1st season as he walked 42 batters in only 83 IP resulting in a 6.07 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in Lo A Ball this year.

23. Alex Pena - Kansas City Force - $4.5M Bonus - RP
Alex will be helping out the Force's ML Bullpen someday. He has very good control (85), splits of 72/73 and an excellent forkball. He was 3 for 3 in save opportunities in his limited action this season.

24. Albert Cabrera - Charleston Hurricanes - $2.1M Bonus - SP
Albert will have a hard time succeeding at the ML level due to below average control (49) and only 1 plus pitch. He has very good stamina and good splits (68/66) so he could be a long A or B type reliever someday.

25. Domingo Canseco - Chicago Style Pizza - $5.7M Bonus - SS
A great glove (84), very strong and accurate arm (92/94) combined with good power (73) and splits (74/62) will make Domingo a major leaguer. The downside is poor batting eye (43), contact (46), baserunning/speed (45/41) and health concerns (62) may limit his success once there. He hit 370/388/642 in HiA this year.

26. Midre Cela - Boston Bean Pots - $7.6M Bonus - SS
Midre will be a very good hitter at the ML level, and should field well enough to play SS, but I see him as a utility guy who gets just about every at bat that all the regulars can't take. His 72 durability limits his playability.

27. Ramon Cho - Los Angeles Dodgers - $5.6M Bonus - 2B
Ramon's poor health (52) may impede his progression. If not, then it will be his splits (43/36) and lack of power (17). However, he will steal a ton of bases with baserunning and speed (projected to 97/100).

28. Oswaldo Gonzales - Austin Sixth Streets - $1.6M Bonus - 2B
Oswaldo has the distinction of being the lowest paid on this list. He is similar to Ramon Cho in that he has very good contact (82) and speed/baserunning (91/96) but poor splits and only a mediocre batting eye (53). He has great range and did prove himself in RL with 352/424/482 and 18 steals in 22 attempts.

29. Alex Samuel - Chicago Chubs - $7.1M Bonus - 2B
I can't see Samuel making the majors as a second baseman. I do see him in the Majors, but possibly in the outfield. He can hit with 86 power and splits of 60/86 and a good batting eye of 70. There's some durability concern here with only a 72 rating, but perhaps he's a utility guy? He hit well in HiA with 344/409/679 and 15 HR's in 209 AB's.

30. Orber Vazquez - Scottsdale Gunners - $4.2M Bonus - Catcher
Like most good hitting catchers (66/71/80/67/85) his pitch calling (55) leaves much to be desired. However, it's not so terrible that he wouldn't see some time in the field. He projects as a DH/1B type. He didn't fare so well in LoA with only a 254 average in 189 at bats.

31. Delino Castillo - Austin Sixth Streets - $10M Bonus - RP
Delino's only problem is he doesn't have great control (70). He does have 1 +++ pitch (95) and another very good one (89) and solid splits for an end of the game reliever (66/81). He fared will this year with a 2.51 ERA and 1.26 whip in High A Ball.

32. Ricardo Guerrero - Trenton Generals - $4.5M Bonus - SS
The Generals' scouts were busy and found this great fielding, little hitting SS. He has 90+ accross the board defensively, but a poor batting eye (39) and inability to hit lefties (30) will limit his usefullness.

33. Bernie Carrasquel - Austin Sixth Streets - $8.4M Bonus - LF
Bernie can hit, but as a left fielder probably not well enough to justify his signing bonus. He does nothing extremely well, but was very impressive in LoA with 315/401/587 and 24 Home Runs this season.

34. Ruben Aramboles - Cheyenne Beagles - $6.6M Bonus - 2B
Ruben is a solid fielding second baseman with no power (0). He projects as a backup IF/4th OF.

35. Tony Cruz - Syracuse Stragglers - $6.6M Bonus - Catcher
Yet another IFA signing by the Stragglers is another of the hitting catchers/DH type. He has great splits (85/91) a very good eye (78) and good contact/power ratings (55/71). His pitch calling (55) will not help much. He hit well in AA at 340/409/597 with 15 HR's in 288 at bats this year.

36. David Lopez - San Diego Conquistadors - $11.9M Bonus - SP/RP
San Diego paid quite a bit for this Anchorman. He should be using an effective sinker (87) to eat up innings as the long A/spot starter at the ML level in the near future. He has very good splits at 71/87 and good control at 77. He was used as a reliever in HiA this year to the tune of 1.76 ERA and 1.17 WHiP.

37. Vicente Mendez - Kansas City Force - $1.8M - RP
Vicente's 43 health rating will definitely hurt his otherwise bright future. He has great splits (78/84), control (93) and two plus pitches (both 86) which will make him enticing as trade bait. Nevertheless, he was a steal at the price.