First-month minor league review – Pacific Coast League

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OPS leaders
1. Jay Gibbons (Dodgers) – .400/.405/.757 – 1163
2. John Lindsey (Dodgers) – .410/.465/.654 – 1119
3. Joe Borchard (Giants) – .366/.464/.646 – 1110
4. Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – .304/.466/.620 – 1086
5. Chris Lubanski (Blue Jays) – .307/.357/.693 – 1050
6. Brandon Boggs (Rangers) – .333/.437/.600 – 1037
7. Mike Baxter (Padres) – .338/.463/.554 – 1016
8. Brett Wallace (Blue Jays) – .289/.364/.629 – 993
9. Prentice Redman (Dodgers) – .311/.370/.622 – 992
10. Xavier Paul (Dodgers) – .361/.409/.574 – 983
– This list simply isn’t as interesting as the top 10 from the International League. Wallace is a top prospect and Paul, who is currently helping to fill in for Manny Ramirez in L.A., should be pretty useful, but most of the guys are vets taking advantage of big offensive environments.
– Of course, I do like Ka’aihue, who was promoted to the majors Tuesday thanks to Rick Ankiel’s injury. But I doubt he’ll get much of a look now. He has to hope that Jose Guillen continues to hit and turns himself into a desired commodity in trade talks.
Notable hitters
Mark Trumbo (Angels) – .311/.347/.556 – 903
Jack Cust (Athletics) – .267/.433/.467 – 900
Buster Posey (Giants) – .319/.420/.457 – 877
Chris Carter (Athletics) – .261/.364/.500 – 864


Hank Conger (Angels) – .282/.346/.479 – 825
J.P. Arencibia (Blue Jays) – .264/.329/.444 – 774
Brandon Allen (Diamondbacks) – .216/.352/.405 – 757
Peter Bourjos (Angels) – .276/.316/.425 – 741
Michael Taylor (Athletics) – .235/.297/.441 – 738
Jay Payton (Rockies) – .284/.322/.395 – 717
Mike Carp (Mariners) – .203/.301/.405 – 706
Aaron Cunningham (Padres) – .250/.290/.398 – 688
Ivan DeJesus (Dodgers) – .261/.298/.352 – 650
Jason Castro (Astros) – .221/.369/.250 – 619
Michael Saunders (Mariners) – .195/.276/.208 – 484
– DeJesus missed all of last season with a broken leg, so his slow start is understandable. The Dodgers have mostly used him at second base this season, with Chin-Lung Hu playing shortstop for the Isotopes.
– Disastrous is the word that best describes Saunders’ April. He’d already be in prime position to push Milton Bradley to the DH spot and Ken Griffey Jr. off Seattle’s roster if he were playing up to his ability. But he’s been dreadful.
ERA leaders
1. Derek Holland (Rangers) – 0.93 ERA, 37/7 K/BB in 38 2/3 IP
2. Luke French (Mariners) – 1.41 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 32 IP
3. Bryan Bullington (Royals) – 1.63 ERA, 19/8 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
3. Eric Hacker (Giants) – 1.63 ERA, 31/5 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
5. Thomas Diamond (Cubs) – 1.65 ERA, 23/11 K/BB in 27 1/3 IP
6. Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) – 1.69 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 21 1/3 IP
7. Michael Kirkman (Rangers) – 2.12 ERA, 24/13 K/BB in 29 2/3 IP
8. Radhames Liz (Padres) – 2.14 ERA, 30/9 K/BB in 21 IP
9. Marco Estrada (Nationals) – 2.48 ERA, 25/8 K/BB in 29 IP
9. Jay Jackson (Cubs) – 2.48 ERA, 20/7 K/BB in 29 IP
– Last year, Holland made just one start in Triple-A before the Rangers called him up and added him to their pen. The team has handled him much better this year, and it looks like he’s about ready to fulfill his potential. He could well be the team’s best pitcher by this time next year.
Notable pitchers
Brandon McCarthy (Rangers) – 2.51 ERA, 18/5 K/BB in 28 2/3 IP
Will Inman (Padres) – 2.57 ERA, 16/13 K/BB in 21 IP
Vin Mazzaro (Athletics) – 2.59 ERA, 27/12 K/BB in 24 1/3 IP
Cesar Carrillo (Padres) – 3.24 ERA, 13/12 K/BB in 25 IP
Ryan Tucker (Marlins) – 3.57 ERA, 14/6 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Cesar Valdez (Diamondbacks) – 3.80 ERA, 25/5 K/BB in 23 2/3 IP
James McDonald (Dodgers) – 3.97 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Clay Mortensen (Athletics) – 3.98 ERA, 24/9 K/BB in 31 2/3 IP
Guillermo Moscoso (Rangers) – 4.30 ERA, 18/9 K/BB in 23 IP
Robert Ray (Blue Jays) – 4.55 ERA, 20/15 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
Lance Lynn (Cardinals) – 4.56 ERA, 17/17 K/BB in 25 2/3 IP
Trevor Reckling (Angels) – 4.85 ERA, 16/17 K/BB in 26 IP
Madison Bumgarner (Giants) – 5.25 ERA, 16/8 K/BB in 24 IP
Rick VandenHurk (Marlins) – 5.33 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 27 IP
Josh Lindblom (Dodgers) – 6.23 ERA, 25/6 K/BB in 26 IP
Scott Elbert (Dodgers) – 8.00 ERA, 22/14 K/BB in 18 IP
– McCarthy figured to be next in line for a spot in the Texas rotation at the beginning of the year and he got off to a promising start, but he’s again on the shelf with a stress reaction in his shoulder.
– What was expected to be a strong Albuquerque rotation isn’t providing pitching alternatives for the Dodgers. McDonald, though, has been decent outside of one start in which he suffered from cracked fingernails on his pitching hand. Also, Lindblom must be dealing with some bad luck. To go along with the strong K/BB ratio, he’s allowed just three homers in his 26 innings. Albuquerque is one of the toughest places to pitch in the minors.
Relievers
Matt Reynolds (Rockies) – 0.00 ERA, 0 Sv, 18/0 K/BB in 13 2/3 IP
Ernesto Frieri (Padres) – 0.00 ERA, 5 Sv, 17/7 K/BB in 12 IP
Zach Braddock (Brewers) -0.00 ERA, 1 Sv, 22/4 K/BB in 11 1/3 IP
Ryan Webb (Padres) – 0.00 ERA, 1 Sv, 10/2 K/BB in 10 IP
Henry Rodriguez (Athletics) – 0.00 ERA, 3 Sv, 14/3 K/BB in 9 1/3 IP
Josh Roenicke (Blue Jays) – 0.00 ERA, 0 Sv, 8/1 K/BB in 8 2/3 IP
Henry Sosa (Giants) – 1.29 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/9 K/BB in 14 IP
Blake Wood (Royals) – 2.57 ERA, 5 Sv, 11/7 K/BB in 14 IP
Carlos Rosa (Royals/D’Backs) – 3.14 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/7 K/BB in 14 1/3 IP
David Purcey (Blue Jays) – 3.27 ERA, 0 Sv, 15/10 K/BB in 11 IP
Chad Cordero (Mariners) – 4.63 ERA, 2 Sv, 10/3 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP
Shane Lindsay (Rockies) – 6.17 ERA, 0 Sv, 18/14 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP
– Webb and Rodriguez just received callups. I had Webb down as a fantasy sleeper at the beginning of the year, only to be disappointed when the Padres didn’t give him much of a chance to win a bullpen spot.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.