Colorado Rockies Rumors
You can't begin a month much better than Jake Odorizzi did during his start on May 5th against the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. The young pitching prospect combined with three relievers to no-hit Boston's minor league affiliate. Odorizzi worked seven innings while walking four batters and striking out three. He was removed from the game early due to workload limitations. Relievers Frank De Los Santos, Kirby Yates and Jeff Beliveau preserved the no-no.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Odorizzi, who said he had all his weapons working during the game. "Everything was going my way. The defense was good behind me. It seemed everything was hit right at someone. Just kind of one of those days where everything goes your way." He has now held opponents scoreless in each of his last two starts (12 innings).
Although it's easy to get excited about Odorizzi's quick start to the season, the hype comes with caveats. The young hurler has always been an extreme flyball pitcher and his groundball rate is well below average on the year at slightly more than 22%.
Odorizzi's pitching repertoire includes solid stuff but he lacks "plus stuff." He has average control and above-average command of his offerings: an 87-92 mph fastball, slider, curveball and change-up. In pre-season top prospects lists, Keith Law of ESPN (68th), Baseball America (92nd), and MLB.com (42nd) all ranked Odorizzi amongst the top 100 in the game. Baseball America's scouting report referred to the hurler's ceiling as that of a No. 3 or 4 starter.
Originally selected 32nd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers during that 2008 amateur draft, the Illinois native has been traded twice in his young career. He was sent to the Kansas City Royals in December 2010 during the Zack Greinke deal. Almost exactly two years later, Odorizzi was flipped to Tampa Bay in the James Shields/Wade Davis swap. If Tampa Bay -- specifically its pitching staff with the fifth worst ERA in baseball -- continues to struggle into the second half of 2013, the pitching prospect could become a big-league option later in the year.
Prospect Tidbits: Selected 46th overall in the 2012 amateur draft, Colorado Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler is off to a hot start to his career. Beginning the 2013 season in A ball, he's allowed just 18 hits in 41 innings of work. If the Radford University alum continues to pitch like this he could make quick work of the minor leagues.....The Miami Marlins brought in a lot of minor league talent during last November's shocking trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite that, prospects originally drafted by the club continue to see their values soar. Outfielder Christian Yelich went 5-for-6 with two triples and a home run on May 8th. As MiLB.com's Ashley Marshall tells us, the performance also caught the attention of his manager. "It was one of the most impressive displays of a young hitter I have ever seen," Andy Barkett said. It raised Yelich's average to .343 on the year.....Baltimore's Dylan Bundy reached the big leagues in his first full pro season in 2012 but his development in '13 was halted by an injury. The bad news gives his Oklahoma high school opponent and friend Archie Bradley a chance to close the gap between the two a little bit. After five dominating starts in the potent California League (43 strikeouts, 1.26 ERA in 28 2/3 innings), the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted the pitching prospect to Double-A and he's struck out 11 batters with a 1.13 ERA in eight innings over two starts.
Hunter Pence felt guilty after being traded from the Phillies to the Giants last season, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. "To be honest with you, I felt really guilty," says Pence. "I was heavily invested in
bringing the Phillies back, and it felt like… I felt guilty. I felt like
it was my fault that it fell apart." Pence hit .271/.336/.447 for the Phillies in 2012, and the team was 45-56 when it dealt Pence near the end of July. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Rockies are off to a surprising start, but Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio haven't been positive parts of it, and it remains to be seen how long they'll be in the rotation, the Denver Post's Troy Renck writes. Francis has a 7.27 ERA thus far, and Nicasio has only lasted longer than five innings once this season.
- The Rockies might have payroll flexibility to take on salary in a trade for a starter at midseason, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But that payroll flexibility will be tied to increased revenue, a club official says.
- Outfielder Donald Lutz of the Reds, who made his big-league debut last week, is likely the first German-raised player in MLB history, says Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lutz was born in the U.S., and his father is American, but his mother is German, and Lutz moved to Germany as a baby. Morosi points out that Germany lags behind the Netherlands and Italy in its development of baseball players, but that could easily change, since Germany is so populous.
FRIDAY: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Oswalt will be able to earn more than $4MM should he reach all of the incentives in his contract.
The Rockies will send Oswalt to extended spring training, the Denver Post's Troy Renck tweets. It appears likely that the Rockies will eventually promote him if he pitches well in the minors, although that is not certain.
It's not yet clear what Oswalt's role with the Rockies might be, although he has said that he prefers to start. The Rockies' rotation currently includes Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, Juan Nicasio, Jon Garland and Tyler Chatwood, with Jhoulys Chacin returning from injury to start on Sunday. Oswalt's deal contains out clauses, Renck writes.
Oswalt pitched 59 innings for the Rangers in 2012, with a 5.80 ERA but 9.0 K/9 and 1.68 BB/9. The righty has a 3.28 ERA in his career, pitching for the Astros, Phillies and Rangers. Oswalt did not rank in MLBTR's list of the offseason's top 50 free agents.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images (Matthew Emmons).
Earlier today, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts presented his plans for a $300MM renovation on Wrigley Field and made waves when he said that the club may have to move to a new park if certain requests are not met. After his presentation, Ricketts told David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com that his focus is still on making things work at Wrigley. "We also need to generate the revenue we need to compete as a franchise," Ricketts added. "There has been some question as to whether or not we can put up a revenue generating video board and signage in our own outfield and if we can't then at some point we've got to look at other options. But I don't think it's now. We really believe that we are going to be able to work this out and move forward." Here's more from around baseball..
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looked at potential infield trade targets for the Blue Jays. BN-S suggests that Brendan Ryan of the Mariners and Alex Gonzalez of the Brewers are among those that could make sense for Toronto.
- High school shortstop Riley Unroe is seeing his stock soar as he was viewed to a fifth-to-seventh round talent but could now find himself going as early as late in the first round and in the sandwich round, at worst, writes Allan Simpson of Perfect Game. Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) recently wrote that he personally sees Unroe as a third round talent but wouldn't be surprised to see him go higher.
- Despite their $148MM payroll and World Series expectations, it no longer seems like a fluke that the Angels are struggling, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Halos snapped a four-game losing streak earlier today to bring their record to 10-17.
The Yankees announced that they have acquired infielder Chris Nelson for cash considerations or a player to be named later. The Bombers moved Francisco Cervelli to the 60-day disabled list in order to make room on the 40-man roster for their newest acquisition.
We learned yesterday that the Yankees have had trade talks with the Rockies about Nelson, who was recently designated for assignment to make room for the promotion of Nolan Arenado. The 27-year-old posted a .242/.282/.318 slash line in 68 PA as the Rockies' regular third baseman this season. Prior to that, he hit .284/.327/.427 in 593 PA from 2010-12.
Nelson has played mostly third and second in the majors, and also played shortstop in the minor leagues. With the Yankees, he'll presumably provide extra support at third while Kevin Youkilis is on the mend.
The Rockies announced that they have received outfielder Jose Monzon from the Astros as the player to be named later in the Wilton Lopez trade. The 21-year-old will report to extended spring training before being assigned by Colorado.
Colorado received Lopez and a PTBNL or cash considerations from the Astros in exchange for starter Alex White and minor leaguer Alex Gillingham in December. Lopez hasn't been terribly sharp so far in 2013 as he has posted a 6.17 ERA across 11 and 2/3 innings of work, though he does have eight strikeouts with no walks issued.
Monzon has yet to advance above Rookie ball in his four seasons in the Houston organization. The youngster was not rated amongst the top 30 prospects in the Astros' farm system by Baseball America.
The Astros haven't yet decided who they're taking with the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. Possible candidates for the top pick include college pitchers Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray and Sean Manaea; college hitter Kris Bryant; and high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. "I think it's important to keep scouting them until the very end," says Astros scouting director Mike Elias. "We're making sure we're keeping the field as open as we can. We are not going to make that decision when there's no reason to, six weeks before the Draft." The Astros' draft signing bonus pool, which stands at $11.7MM this year, could play into their decision about who to draft. In 2012, the Astros took Carlos Correa first overall and signed him for significantly less than his bonus pool allotment, allowing them to take high-upside talents like Lance McCullers Jr. later in the draft. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- The Red Sox might be looking for Frazier to fall to them with the No. 7 overall pick, Conor Glassey of Baseball America writes in a draft breakdown for American League teams. Red Sox scout Tim Hyers was Frazier's neighbor growing up. Meanwhile, the Indians could look to add a college pitcher like Manaea or Nevada's Braden Shipley at No. 5.
- Mariners infielder Robert Andino was "a little bit" surprised when the Orioles traded him to "Alaska" (that is, Seattle) for Trayvon Robinson last November, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Andino is hitting .200/.250/.267 for the Mariners this season. He has taken the team's starting shortstop job, or at least a portion of it, from Brendan Ryan.
- The Yankees have had trade talks with the Rockies regarding infielder Chris Nelson, but New York's interest in Nelson seems to be limited, says Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (on Twitter). The Rockies designated Nelson for assignment Saturday night.
The emergence of Evan Gattis as a power threat could soon create a logjam at catcher for the Braves, MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes. Brian McCann is nearly set to return from the disabled list, but the Braves don't want to demote Gattis (who has six home runs), and it's too early to get rid of Gerald Laird, in part because the Braves signed him to a two-year contract over the winter. (Laird has also hit well in limited time so far.) Jason Heyward's recent appendix surgery could create a temporary opportunity for Gattis in the outfield, but as the season progresses, it could be interesting to watch Atlanta's catching situation. McCann is a free agent after the season, and as Jeff Todd noted last week, Gattis' emergence, if it continues, could make the Braves feel better about McCann's likely departure. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Phillies recently designated catcher Humberto Quintero for assignment, but they want him to clear waivers, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Now that Carlos Ruiz is returning from his suspension, the Phillies have settled on Erik Kratz to be his backup. But they want more veteran catching depth in their organization, and they value Quintero's big-league experience. "There's a chance he could still be with us, and selfishly, we hope he is," says assistant GM Scott Proefrock.
- The Rockies are waiting to see what happens to infielder Chris Nelson, who they designated for assignment on Sunday, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding. Nelson was the Rockies' first-round pick in the 2004 Draft. "It's important to honor Nellie and what he's meant to this organization," says Rockies manager Walt Weiss. "Personally, my relationship goes beyond player-manager. They brought him in and worked him out before the Draft, and I was out there taking ground balls with him in front of our entire scouting department, and I was with him in our Minor League system."
The Rockies have designated infielder Chris Nelson for assignment, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. Nelson was told about the transaction following the Rockies' 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday night. In a corresponding move, the Rockies have called up Nolan Arenado from Triple-A, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding (Twitter link).
Nelson had a .242/.282/.318 line over 68 PA as the Rockies' regular third baseman this season. The 27-year-old was the ninth overall pick of the 2004 draft and owned a career slash line of .284/.327/.427 in 593 PA from 2010-12. Nelson has played mostly third and second in the majors, and also played shortstop in the minor leagues. The Athletics and Yankees have been interested in Nelson in the past, Renck notes, so it's possible either club could inquire about the infielder during the 10-day designation period.
It was only a matter of time before the Rockies called up Arenado, the club's top prospect and the 52nd-best prospect in the sport according to Baseball America's preseason rankings. Arenado, who recently turned 22, has posted an .818 OPS in five minor league seasons, including a 1.059 OPS over 75 PA at Triple-A this season. His stock somewhat dropped after only an average season at Double-A in 2012 and the Rockies also had questions about Arenado's maturity level, but the third baseman impressed the club both on and off the field during Spring Training. The right-handed hitting Arenado was a second-round pick for the Rockies in the 2009 draft.
ESPN's Jim Bowden, a former GM of both the Reds and Expos/Nationals, recently took a look at Frank Wren's rise to general manager of the Braves. Within his ESPN Insider piece, Bowden identifies three front office executives who, like Wren, are being groomed as successors to their current GMs. He also identifies three candidates who will likely become GMs in other organizations. Here are some highlights from the piece and other GM news...
- Bowden feels that Rockies senior VP Bill Geivett, Tigers VP/assistant GM Al Avila and Athletics assistant GM David Forst are all next in line to become the GM of their respective franchises. Geivett, in particular, is already handling the day-to-day operations, and Bowden feels it's just a matter of time before he's given the official title of general manager.
- Bowden asked present GMs around the game who the top GM candidates outside of their own organizations were. The results, in order, were Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, Cubs VP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod and Marlins assistant GM Dan Jennings. Bowden notes that each is blocked for one reason or another but would have plenty of interest from other clubs seeking a new GM.
- Jack Zduriencik's time as GM of the Mariners may be running out, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Mariners once again find themselves last in the American League in runs scored -- the same place they've been for the previous four years under Zduriencik's watch. Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero have yet to establish themselves as big leaguers, and the trades of Cliff Lee and Doug Fister look poor in hindsight. Rosenthal notes that Hisashi Iwakuma is a coup for Zduriencik, and that help is close with Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen at Triple-A. A breakthrough is needed soon, however, and Zduriencik conceded that he knows it.