Results tagged ‘ Arodys Vizcaino ’

McCann returns to camp

Here are a couple of tidbits to devour before the Braves and Cardinals play this afternoon: 

Brian McCann was anything but his usual self when he arrived at Champion Stadium this morning.  He was obviously relieved that he had the opportunity to interact with Luis Salazar at the Orlando Regional Medical Center last night.  

But at the same time McCann was still shaken up about hitting the foul ball that provided a near fatal blow to Salazar Wednesday afternoon.  Click here to read more about McCann’s thoughts about this situation. 

There were no updates on Salazar’s condition Thursday.  It appears he incurred significant damage to his left eye.  The significance will be revealed within the next couple of days.  

MLB.com’s Greg Johns reported Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has left camp and flown to Florida with his wife Vivian, who is Salazar’s daughter.

As Braves general manager Frank Wren said, it was tough to focus on yesterday’s game after Salazar got hit.  But this morning, a handful of scouts were raving about what they saw from Arodys Vizcaino.  

The Disney scoreboard clocked one of  Vizcaino’s fastball at 101 mph and a couple of scouts agreed with that reading.

When one of these scouts was told an American League scout had the young right-hander topped out at 97 mph, he responded by saying, “he did throw a couple of fastballs that were 97 mph.” 

Over the past two weeks, I’ve heard at least two people say they believe Vizcaino will end up being a closer.  With his live fastball and the potential he has with his curveball, he could seemingly be very intimidating in this role. 

Earlier this week when I mentioned Vizcaino needed to find a little more consistency with his breaking ball, a fan told me I needed to check my reports or at least update them. 

When I asked one evaluator, he described Vizcaino’s curveball as filthy. Two others have shared my belief that his arm action is slower with his curveball than it is with his fastball.

Regardless of which of these assessments you share, this kid has plenty of time to become even more impressive than he has been during his first Major League camp.  He won’t even turn 21 until November. 

With this being said, don’t be surprised if Vizcaino and Brett Oberholtzer are among the players cut from big league camp this afternoon.  This is the time of year, where clubs need to make sure they have enough available innings for their Major Leaguers and high-level Minor Leaguers. 

  

Odds and ends from a rainy Saturday

Rain prevented the Braves from doing the fielding and baserunning drills today.  But Mother Nature wasn’t able to prevent Jair Jurrjens from taking another step in the right direction with the 20-minute long toss session he completed in the soggy outfield grass. 

Jurrjens said he felt good after throwing from a distance of 120 feet, but more importantly he truly looked like he was comfortable with his throwing motion by the time this session was completed. 

After throwing for five or 10 minutes, Jurrjens walked back toward Braves catcher Brian McCann, who was located along the left field foul line.  While standing next to the team’s trainer Jeff Porter, Jurrjens stretched his arm and spun it around in a helicopter motion multiple times. 

When he resumed throwing a few minutes later, Jurrjens’ throwing motion was looser and he seemed to have a little more life on his throws. 

Dating back to Feb. 17, when he learned his right shoulder discomfort was a product of inflammation, Jurrjens has said he would have to do more stretching than usual to get his shoulder to cooperate. 

Now it appears Jurrjens will get his next test on Monday, when he will likely begin throwing on a downward plane again off the mound.  If all goes well, he will likely need to complete three or four side sessions before being cleared to make his first Grapefruit League start. 

This puts him on schedule to make this start during March’s second week and be in position complete at least one five-inning appearance before the regular season begins.

In other words, there’s still a good chance Jurrjens will take his first turn through the rotation during the regular season’s first week.  But for now, the Braves can only show patience as their prized 23-year-old hurler does everything he can to make sure the shoulder doesn’t prove to be a lingering problem throughout the season.

Quick hits:  Bobby Cox said that he’s currently leaning toward starting the year with Nate McLouth as his leadoff hitter.  This shouldn’t be too surprising.  Yunel Escobar seems to be only other legit option and he’s too valuable in a run-producing role.    

Tom Glavine is expected to arrive in camp around March 17 or 18.  When asked what Glavine would do, Cox said the 300-game winner would take in the Spring Training environment and spend some time helping with some of the young pitchers. 

“Tommy can do whatever he wants,” Cox said and I don’t think he was necessarily kidding.  Glavine will have the opportunity to see how Jason Heyward is progressing and take a look at some of the organization’s top Minor League pitchers. 

When the club’s top young pitchers are discussed, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, the prized return from the Yankees in the Javy Vazquez trade, immediately come to mind.  But Frank Wren provided the reminder that right-hander Randall Delgado should also be placed in this advanced category. 

Wren indicated that a couple of these top pitching prospects could begin the season with Class A Rome.  But he added that they all will likely spend some time together this year in Class A -Advanced Myrtle Beach’s rotation.

Cox said that he will announce the Grapefruit League rotation on Monday.  The team’s first game will be played on Tuesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.   

MLB.com set to reveal latest list of Top 50 prospects

Before getting into a discussion about top prospects, let’s just verify that the Braves aren’t interested in Jim Edmonds.  In related news, they also aren’t pursuing Garret Anderson or  B.J. Surhoff to fill a roster spot.

OK, now that he’s spent the past couple weeks and months talking to scouts, scouting directors and other talent evaluators, Jonathan Mayo is ready to reveal MLB.com’s 2010 Top 50 prospect list.

When this year’s list is revealed tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, you’ll see Mayo’s shiny dome and gain a better sense about how stressful this selection process can be.

Seriously though, these lists stand as just another entertaining highlight to promote the future of the game.  Of course right now in Atlanta the future seems to be quite bright. 

When Mayo made his midseason selections on July 31 last year, he had Jason Heyward at the top of his list.  There’s no doubt the big outfielder will once again be at the top of these rankings.

But we’ll have to wait until tonight to see if MLB.com still considers Heyward to be the game’s top prospect.  Last year, the 20-year-old outfielder ranked third on this list and some kid named Tommy Hanson ranked 24th.

Because he has expired his rookie-eligible status, Hanson wasn’t eligible to be listed among this year’s top prospects. 

It will also be interesting to see if this Top 50 list includes Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, who will likely stand as the key return in the December trade that sent Javy Vazquez to the Yankees. 

Some scouts say that Teheran is the better prospect and others think Vizcaino has the greater upside. Regardless of where you might rank them, you can’t argue that the Braves are in pretty good position to have a pair of 19-year-old hurlers with this kind of talent.

ESPN’s Keith Law ranks the Braves farm system as the game’s fifth-best in his just-released organizational rankings.  He mentions that the ranking would have been higher if not for the results of this past summer’s Draft.

It’s interesting to go back to some of these prospects list to see how the guys fared.  Here is a selection of previous MLB.com lists:  2009 ,   20082007 and 2006.

You’ll be able to find plenty of selections that make you, “what ever happened to that guy.”  Just to give you one example that will make you laugh, look at the 2006 list and see that the terribly over-hyped Andy Marte ranked four spots ahead of Prince Fielder and 14 spots ahead of Hanley Ramirez.

This is just the nature of these kinds of selections.   I had to laugh earlier this week when I looked back at Baseball America’s list of prospects at the end of the 2007 season.  They had Tommy Hanson ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Braves system.

Here are the guys who ranked ahead of him:

1. Jordan Schafer — potentially bright future
2. Heyward —  bright future
3. Jurrjens —  on his way toward stardom
4. Brandon Jones — claimed by Pirates off waivers
5. Gorkys Hernandez  — traded to Pirates
6. Brent Lillibridge — traded to White Sox
7.Cole Rohrbough  — no longer considered a top prospect
8. Jeff Locke  — traded to Pirates

BA’s list of the organization’s top prospects heading into the 2007 season provides an even greater feeling of nostalgia.  It could also be confused as a list of young Rangers players.

1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia  — traded to Rangers
2. Elvis Andrus —  traded to Rangers
3. Matt Harrison — traded to Rangers
4. Brandon Jones — Pirates
5. Van Pope —  no longer considered a prospect
6. Eric Campbell — makes you wonder if Pete Babcock made this draft selection
7. Scott Thorman —  Brewers Minor Leaguer
8. Jo-Jo Reyes —  hanging on in the Braves system
9. Joey Devine —  the reason you still recognize Chris Burke’s name.
10. Yunel Escobar —   Hey one out of 10 isn’t bad.

Before sending this into cyberspace, I will tell you that I had lunch with Pete Van Wieren last week.  The Professor’s book, which should be a very interesting read, will go on sale on April 1.     

Busy holiday season for Wren and the Braves

After making my 11-hour journey back home for the holidays yesterday, I learned that that yesterday’s trade of Javier Vazquez had made many of you just as sick as my three female passengers, who had never previously been introduced to the twists and turns on West Virginia’s mountainous turnpike. 

But after looking at this trade and getting a feel for what the Braves learned while navigating this year’s trade market, I’d have to say the only reason that I currently dislike Braves GM Frank Wren stems from the fact that he made a point this morning to point out that the Mexican beaches he is enjoying lack the snow and cold temperatures that exist here in Wheeling, WV.   <p>

Before getting into this trade, let’s touch on Troy Glaus, who will seemingly become the Braves new first baseman once he’s able to get to Atlanta to undergo a physical.  Weather conditions in the northeast part of the country  imited hindered his immediate travel plans. 

So with some of the Braves doctors already beginning their vacations, it will likely be after the holiday break before Glaus could be introduced as the newest member of the Braves roster. 

Now back to the pitching front, where the Braves committed to trading either Vazquez or Derek Lowe once they gained the belief that Tim Hudson actually provided more certainty than either of these other two veteran right-handers. 

It’s no secret that the Braves pushed hard in an attempt to find a suitor for Lowe.  But in the process, they found just a couple of potential suitors and each of these clubs wanted them to eat about half of the $45 million the veteran sinkerballer is owed over the next three years. 

Given that Vazquez finished fourth in this year’s balloting for the National League Cy Young Award, there was reason to believe the Braves would have a much easier time moving him. 

But as time passed, it became apparent that among the clubs looking to acquire a starting pitcher via trade, the Yankees stood as the only potential suitor willing to spend as much as $10 million. 

With this in mind, the Braves were thrilled when the Yankees were interested enough in Vazquez to highlight this five-player trade with the inclusion of Arodys Vizcaino,  a 19-year-old right-hander who was rated by Baseball America  as the third-best prospect in the Yankees organization. 

The Braves view Vizcaino as being just as promising as Julio Teheran, a soon-to-be 19-year-old right-hander who was tabbed their third-best prospect by BA.

While making his frustrations known last week, Lowe playfully talked about reports that indicated the Braves were now just looking to get prospects for him.  This led the witty right-hander to ask, “What’s next?  You think they’ll be able to get an “L” screen for me?”

With Vizcaino, Mike Dunn and Melky Cabrera, the Braves got much more than they would have received in return for the salary dump they would have made by trading Lowe. 

Obviously to find value in this trade you have to look far beyond Cabrera, who will serve as a cheap versatile outfielder who can play each of the three outfield positions.  When the Braves are facing a tough right-handed pitcher, he could spell Matt Diaz in left field.  When they are facing a tough lefty, he could spell Jason Heyward in right field. 

Or maybe he just assumes an everyday role in right field until Heyward is deemed Major League ready.  Whatever the case, the Braves certainly didn’t view him as the centerpiece of this deal. 

There’s no doubt that it’s tough to see Vazquez depart after just one year in an environment where he proved to be so comfortable.  He’s a true professional who had a positive impact on Yunel Escobar, Jair Jurrjens and many of the other players in the clubhouse. 

But when it came time to make projections, the Braves certainly couldn’t assume that Vazquez would definitely match the career-best season he enjoyed this past season.  In fact, there were some members of the organization, who felt it was much smarter to sell high on him and avoid having to sell low on Lowe. 

Even with Lowe coming off a career-worst season and Vazquez coming off a career-best season, recent history indicates you could place them in the same category. 

Durign the past three seasons, Lowe went 41-35 with a 3.91 ERA and 605 innings pitched. Vazquez went 42-34 with a 3.74 ERA and 644 1/3 innings pitched during this span. 

Given that Vazquez spent two of those seasons in the American League and is three years younger, you could certainly argue that he was the guy to keep.  But at the same time, the Braves also came to the realization that he was the only member of this duo who was going to provide any kind of return. 

Thus while exercising your right to voice your opinion about this trade, keep in mind that it was one that was necessitated once the Braves made the decision to provide Hudson with his three-year contract extension. 

If you weren’t in favor of bringing Hudson back, then you certainly have reason to be upset about the fact that Vazquez’s time in Atlanta was limited to just one season.  But while kicking and screaming about this, keep in mind there was no guarantee that the Vazquez that appeared last year was going to materialize yet again in 2010. 

Before saying happy holidays to all you loyal bloggers, I’d like to add that Wren left Lowe a lengthy message after the pitcher voiced his displeasures to me about the fact that it seemed like the club was giving up on him after just one year. 

A few hours later, Lowe sent Wren a text message that essentially said there were no hard feelings. 

OK, time for me to send Wren my own holiday wishes. I’m thinking it will consist of a reminder that stepping on seashells will prove much more painful than walking through this snow. 

  

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