Esmil Rogers Rumors
Esmil Rogers retired 18 consecutive batters at one point yesterday and allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings of work. Not a bad season debut for someone who was supposed to be a shortstop.
When Rolando Fernandez, the Rockies’ senior director of international scouting, signed Rogers out of the Dominican Republic eight years ago, he was intrigued by the teenage infielder’s smooth swing and, especially, his live arm.
Before long it became apparent that Rogers (pictured) wasn’t a fit at short, so the Rockies decided it was time for a change. Fernandez didn’t want to embarrass Rogers, so one night he waited until all the other players had left the field and told Rogers he wanted to see him throw a bullpen.
“He was very natural,” Fernandez said. “Very easy. He was 90-91 [mph] at that point without ever pitching. He looked like he had done it before, like he had been pitching for a few years.”
Now that Rogers actually has been pitching for a few years, he's a member of the Rockies' rotation, a group that features two other international free agent signings, and Jason Hammel, who was obtained for a fourth internationally signed pitcher, Aneury Rodriguez.
No other rotation in baseball features as many internationally signed, homegrown pitchers. There’s no prize for having lots of Latin American starters or a homegrown rotation, of course. The goal is to win games and, thanks to a decade of production from Fernandez and the Rockies’ other scouts, Rogers, Jhoulys Chacin, and Ubaldo Jimenez should help Colorado do just that.
Ten years ago this month, Fernandez was scouting tryouts in the Dominican Republic when he came across a skinny right-hander who stood about 6’1”. Intrigued, Fernandez brought the prospect to the Rockies’ complex to watch him pitch. Even as a teenager, Ubaldo Jimenez showed major league potential.
“The arm action, arm speed, delivery and projection was there,” Fernandez said. “At that time he was just a kid and he was a competitor. He kept all the pitches in the strike zone and you could see the live arm.”
Jimenez, now on the disabled list, has since developed into one of baseball's best pitchers. He threw a no-hitter last year and posted a 2.88 ERA in 221 2/3 innings, striking out 214 and finishing second in last year’s NL Cy Young voting
Like most prospects, Jimenez grew into his body; he now stands three inches taller and about 40 pounds heavier than he did in 2001. But his physical development doesn’t compare to what the Rockies have seen from Chacin since he signed out of Venezuela in 2004.
“Sometimes you see 16-year-olds who look like they’re 18 or 19,” Fernandez said. “Chacin was 16 and he looked like he was 14 years old.”
Despite his youthful appearance and 155 pound frame, Chacin was more polished than Rogers or Jimenez at the time of his signing and he showed good instincts on the mound. He had less pure stuff than the others back then, but he didn't have trouble retiring big league hitters last year. In his first extended stint in the Major Leagues, Chacin posted a 3.28 ERA in 137 1/3 innings, striking out a batter per frame.
Now in his 19th season with the Rockies, Fernandez is currently in Venezuela preparing for this year’s crop of July 2 prospects. He credits the Rockies’ scouting and player development staff for the heavy international presence in the rotation, but he doesn’t deny that it’s personally rewarding to see the teenagers he signed long ago contribute in the Major Leagues.
“It’s exciting because when we sign these kids at 16 or 17 years old, they are like my kids,” he said over the phone. “I treat them like they are my kids and see them mature and develop.”
Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda and Jake Westbrook were three of the top names on Colorado's wish list of free agent starters, but all three signed elsewhere. Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter links) chimes in about some other arms that have caught the Rockies' interest.
- The Rockies could join the Cubs and at least four other teams in the Brandon Webb sweepstakes. Renck says Colorado "might check in on Webb later."
- There's no better than a "50-50" chance that Jeff Francis re-signs with the Rockies. Francis is looking for a "one-year deal, [with] guaranteed money," so it may just be a case of whether or not the Rockies want to outbid other interested teams.
- Tampa Bay is "in holding mode" with its pitchers right now, which may be preventing Colorado from making a serious bid for Matt Garza or James Shields.
- Some of Colorado's "secondary targets" include Jeremy Bonderman, Dave Bush, Aaron Harang and Kevin Millwood. Renck specifies that Bush and Harang would be offered minor league contracts, but if no veteran pitchers are signed, then Esmil Rogers and the newly-acquired Felipe Paulino "would both get a shot in the rotation."
It was on this day in 1905 that Shirley Povich, one of the great sportswriters of all time, was born in Bar Harbor, Maine. Povich, who passed away in 1998, would've been 105 today and no doubt still would've been keeping an eye on Stephen Strasburg for the Washington Post.
Some news items....
- The Palm Beach Post's Joe Capozzi wonders if Edwin Rodriguez's planned lineup changes in Florida are a hint towards a possible trade of Cody Ross or Jorge Cantu.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun adds the Padres and Rangers to the list of "potential fits" for Ty Wigginton.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted a few follow-up points to his story about Colorado's interest in Dan Uggla. Renck mentions right-hander Esmil Rogers and outfielder Matt Miller as possibilities for a trade package with Florida, but "there's no way" that Jhoulys Chacin would be dealt. Renck also thinks the Rockies "will listen" to offers for Franklin Morales, though those offers might not be related to any Uggla deal.
- MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince shares some Cleveland hot stove talk in a reader mailbag. Castrovince says that Kerry Wood has drawn "minimal, at best" trade interest, but he notes that Wood could be dealt in late August to a team that didn't want to pay an extra month of Wood's contract.
- In another MLB.com mailbag, Bill Ladson "would be shocked" by a Matt Capps trade. The Nationals still have Capps under control for 2011, and with Drew Storen still a rookie and Tyler Clippard not pitching well lately, Ladson doesn't think Washington will want to risk dealing their closer.
- It's "all quiet on [the] Ben Sheets trade front," tweets FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, though Sheets' recent success "should change" that.
- Aroldis Chapman's inconsistent control means that Chapman probably won't be promoted to the majors until September, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- We already know that the Giants have shown some interest in acquiring David DeJesus, and now Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that a "top Royals talent evaluator" was on hand for the Mets/Giants game at AT & T Park tonight.
- Steve Kornacki of Mlive.com looks at what the Tigers need to do in the second half and weighs in on some trade options. Kornacki says that trading for Jack Wilson wouldn't cost much for Detroit, whereas acquiring Dan Haren isn't worth the cost since he doesn't think "the Tigers are good enough to get past the first round of the playoffs. And that’s the only reason to gamble that much for somebody like Haren."
- Rice's Anthony Rendon, thought to be a potential first overall pick in the 2011 Amateur Draft, is undergoing ankle surgery on Friday, reports MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron has the latest installment of his ranking of the players with the most trade value. As he goes from #20 to #16, Cameron cites a defending Cy Young Award winner and two potential Cy winners for this season.