Results tagged ‘ Los Angeles ’

Post Hype Prospect – Bobby Abreu

When the Angels placed Bobby Abreu on waivers on April 27, I wondered if this would be the end of the line for one the most successful players in baseball history.  Fortunately, or unfortunately if you watched Abreu leave three runners on base in two at bats on May 4, the Dodgers picked him up and immediately placed him on their major league roster.
In the interest of full disclosure, Bobby Abreu has always fascinated me.  He never really looked like a great athlete (though he clearly is in great shape), he never looked like he was trying, and he never put up monster numbers, but at the end of nearly every season for 13 years he ended up with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.  He drove in at least 100 eight times, scored 100 another eight, and went 30/30 twice. He was a great right fielder, but was notoriously allergic to walls, and stole bases whenever the pitcher was not paying enough attention.  In the end, Bobby Abreu was a truly singular baseball player whose talents were never fully appreciated – unless you were playing fantasy baseball.

Bob Kelly Abreu was signed by the Houston Astros as an international free agent out of Venezuela in August 1990, just months after his 16th birthday.  Assigned to the GCL Astros of the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, Abreu put up an amazing 301/358/372 line.  While that line may not look amazing at first blush, had Abreu been born in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or Canada, Abreu would be about to start his senior year of High School, not playing professional baseball.  In 1992, Abreu was assigned to the Astros’ full season A Level Southern Atlantic League affiliate, the Asheville Tourists.  Abreu more than held his own, putting up a 292/375/402 line as the third youngest player in the Southern Atlantic League.  Tough Abreu only hit eight home runs in 549 plate appearances, he displayed a mature approach by walking 63 times and hit 21 doubles.  Baseball America took notice after the season, ranking Abreu the #95 prospect in all of baseball despite being 18 and having just completed his first full season of professional baseball.

In 1993, Abreu was sent to the High A Osceola Astros of the Florida State League where he put up a 283/352/430 line across 530 plate appearances.  Abreu’s line for 1993 is, to say the least, fascinating.  He hit 21 doubles, 17 triples (which lead the FSL, but the home park may have been a factor, as Abreu was one of six Oscola Astros who had at least six triples), and five home runs (down from eight in 1992).  Abreu stole 10 bases, but was thrown out 14 times.  Abreu walked 51 times (17th in the FSL out of 100 players with at least 149 PA), but struck out 90 times (tied for 9th most).  Abreu was still viewed as a top prospect, but was not ranked by Baseball America in their top 100.

In 1994, Abreu broke out – putting up a great 303/368/530 line across 451 plate appearances for the Jackson Generals of the AA Texas League.  Though his walks further decreased to 42, Abreu hit 25 doubles, 9 triples, and 16 home runs – finally appearing to realize his power potential.  Abreu’s stock as a prospect was spiking, as Baseball America rated him the #52 prospect in baseball.

In 1995, Abreu spent the entire year playing for the Tucson Toros of the AAA Pacific Coast League, putting up a solid, if not spectacular, 304/395/516 line while hitting 24 doubles, 17 triples, and 10 home runs.  He still got caught stealing too much (14 in 30 attempts), but there was significant offensive growth and actualization.  Baseball America rated Abreu the #29 prospect in all of baseball (and immediately ahead of Jermaine Dye) with many prospect prognosticators praising his plate approach and defense, along with his power potential.

Despite the Astros’ mediocre outfield in 1996 (Brian Hunter, Derek Bell, and James Mouton had the most plate appearances, with significant playing time from Derrick May and John Cangelosi), Abreu returned to Tucson for another season in AAA.  Abreu put up a 283/389/459 line, showing improved plate discipline (83 walks in 573 plate appearances) and a better approach to base running (24 stolen bases in 42 attempts), with 14 doubles, 16 triples, and 13 home runs.  Abreu was called up to the Astros in September, putting up a 227/292/273 line across 24 PA.  While the overall line does not look good, it is important to note that, at 22 years old, Abreu was one of the youngest players in the major leagues and, more importantly, 24 PA is such a tiny sample size that it is statistically insignificant.  Unconcerned with the poor big league showing, Baseball America rated Abreu the #38 prospect in all of baseball after 1996, behind Eli Marrero.

In 1997, Abreu began the season with the Astros, appearing in 20 out of the Astros’ first 26 games, putting up a 271/386/457 line while primarily playing right field.  Abreu struggled in May, and went on the disabled list on May 25 with a fractured right hand.  Abreu was on the disabled list until July 3, when he returned to the Astros for almost two weeks, putting just seven plate appearances across five games.  Abreu was sent down to the minors, where he put up a combined 262/329/379 in AA and AAA (the AA portion appears to be part of his rehab, but I cannot find game logs to confirm this).  Abreu returned to the Astros on September 1, putting up a 294/333/471 line over 14 games to close out the season to finish with a 250/329/372 line at the major league level.  All told, 1997 was not a successful year for Abreu.  Despite spending most of the 1997 season with the Astros, he had not performed particularly well and missed significant time with an injury.

On November 18, 1997, Major League Baseball held an expansion draft in order to put major league players on the rosters of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Each team was allowed to protect a number of players, and the Astros decided to protect Richard Hidalgo instead of Abreu.  With the 6th overall pick, the Devil Rays selected Abreu and, immediately after the draft, traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker.  The Devil Rays GM, Chuck LaMar, wanted Stocker, who was known for his strong defense and complete lack of offensive ability, and was willing to give up the soon-to-be 24 year old Abreu for the soon-to-be 28 year old Stocker.  The Phillies’ GM, Ed Wade, should be commended for this move.  Though the 1998 Phillies would have to use Desi Relaford as their shortstop, Abreu would hit from day one (literally, he went 2/6 on Opening Day against the Mets) for the Phillies.

In 1998, Abreu put up an impressive 312/409/497 line (with 14 intentional walks), beginning his long and successful career.  Abreu has put up an OPS+ of at least 104 in every season from 1998 through 2011, but has struggled so far in 2012.  Playing without a position for the Angels, Abreu put up a 208/259/333 line in eight games before being released.  The Dodgers picked up Abreu, with formerly-mustachioed Manager Don Mattingly stating that Abreu “gives [the Dodgers] a chance to be a little bit better.”

In the end, Bobby Abreu pretty much turned out to be the player he was projected to become, with a career 293/396/480 slash line (129 OPS+), with 284 home runs, 393 stolen bases, 2390 hits, 1414 runs, and 1330 RBI.  Abreu’s ability to hit line drives and patience at the plate have been his calling card, racking up 558 doubles in his career, good for 25th all time and 2nd amongst active players (only 3 behind Todd Helton).

So is this the end for Abreu?  At this point, Abreu has become a “lefty bat off the bench” who can occasionally play the outfield.  While he has put up great career numbers, he lacks the “wow” factor that voters often require when voting someone into the Hall of Fame, and he was only elected to two All Star Games, awarded one Silver Slugger, and awarded one Gold Glove.  This lack of awards, despite winning the 2005 Home Run Derby, will doom Abreu to being part of the Hall of Very Good – which is quite an accomplishment.  Abreu is currently 98th with 9,703 career plate appearances – a place surrounded by Hall of Famers and legends, such as Ted Simmons (100), Willie McCovey (99), Julio Franco (97), and Richie Ashburn (96).

How will Abreu be remembered?  As a very good player who put together a long, successful career in baseball and the fact that he has made in excess of $115 million in his career while flying under the radar.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.

Sources:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=abreu-001bob

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/abreubo01.shtml

http://www.baseballamerica.com/statistics/players/cards/11785

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/HOU/1996.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mayde01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/huntebr02.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bellde01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/moutoja01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cangejo01.shtml

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/all-time.html

http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/1997-expansion-draft.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/stockke01.shtml

http://www.draysbay.com/2009/7/13/947812/revisiting-the-kevin-stocker-bobby

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/In-defense-or-at-least-partial-defense-of-Ed-Wade.html

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=abreubo01&t=b&year=1998

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2005/6/26/195036/333

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHI/1998.shtml

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/nl/dodgers/story/2012-05-04/Dodgers-sign-veteran-Bobby-Abreu/54748720/1

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/PA_career.shtml

Post Hype Prospect – Angel Guzman

Angel Guzman, a minor leaguer in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball today for 50 games for a second violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program for a drug of abuse, as was announced by the commissioner’s office.  Guzman made 88 appearances, 14 starts, with the Chicago Cubs from 2006-2009 with a 3-10 record and a 4.82 ERA.  While this may seem like another player trying to get back to the show, but this was nowhere near the case.  Guzman was once considered a top prospect with a significant chance to become something special.

In March of 1999, Guzman was signed out of Venezuela by the Kansas City Royals, but his signing was voided due to concerns over the health of Guzman’s arm.  Sensing an opportunity, the Chicago Cubs signed Guzman in November.  While working on a visa in 2000, Guzman pitched in the Venezuelan Summer League for La Pradera (which means the prairie, for those of you who don’t habla espanol), and put up a solid 1.93 ERA across 32.2 IP.  In 2000, the Cubs assigned Guzman to their Short Season A affiliate in the Northwest League, the Boise Hawks, where Guzman immediately showed promise, putting up a 2.23 ERA cross 76.2 innings.  While he only had 63 strikeouts (7.4k/9), he also displayed good control, only walking 2.2 per nine innings.   In 2002, Guzman started the season with the Daytona Cubs, the Cubs’ Low A affiliate in the Midwest League and found immediate success, putting up a silly 1.89 ERA over 62 innings, and was promoted to the Daytona Cubs, the Cubs’ High A affiliate in the Florida State League.  Guzman kept dominating in Daytona, putting up a 2.39 ERA across 94 innings.  After the 2002 season, Guzman was ranked the Cubs’ #2 prospect by Baseball America (Mark Prior was the top Cubs prospect, ranked #2 overall) and the #47 prospect in all of baseball.

In 2003, the Cubs kept pushing Guzman, assigning him to the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx of the AA Southern League.  Guzman responded by dominating, putting up a 2.81 ERA over 89.2 innings while striking out 87 batters.  Guzman was selected to appear in the All Star Futures Game in U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.  Unfortunately, Guzman hurt his labrum (a piece of cartilage that surrounds the joint between the humerus and the shoulder blade) and had surgery in mid-July for the injury.  The injury would slow Guzman, but it was believed that he would bounce back from the surgery.  After the 2003 season, Baseball America ranked Guzman the #1 prospect in the Cubs’ system and the #26 prospect in all of baseball.  Guzman was even ranked the #9 prospect in the Southern League by Baseball America, despite only playing of the half season (which is not uncommon, as rankings are often done based upon performance while in the league and many players do not spend full seasons on one minor league team).

In 2004, Guzman was kept back in extended spring training until May, when he was assigned to the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League.  Making his first appearance on May 13, Guzman looked good, even if his ERA was not spectacular.  Guzman struck out 40 over 30 innings (12K/9) despite his 4.20 ERA.  The Cubs saw enough, promoting him back to the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx of the Southern League.  Guzman did not do as well for the Diamond Jaxx, putting up a 5.60 ERA across 17.2 innings, striking out 13.  While Guzman’s prospect status was beginning to fade, it was still burning quite strong.  Baseball America ranked Guzman the #4 prospect in the Cubs’ farm system and the #88 prospect in all of baseball, and given the “Best Fastball in the Cubs System” superlative.

Guzman complained of forearm stiffness in April of 2005, and did not pitch until August where he made four starts for the Rookie level AZL Cubs, followed by two starts for the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League.  Predictably, Guzman dominated the Arizona League for the AZL Cubs, striking out 17 across 12 innings while allowing just three runs (two earned).  In Peoria, Guzman struck out 7 in 6.1 innings while allowing five runs (three earned).  The Cubs were impressed enough to assign Guzman to the Iowa Cubs of the AAA Pacific Coast League to start the 2006 season.  Guzman showed off his impressive stuff, striking out 77 in 75.2 innings across 15 starts while putting up a 4.04 ERA, which is respectable considering the offense-friendly environment of the PCL.  Promoted to the Major Leagues in early August, Guzman struggled, putting up a 7.39 ERA across 15 games (10 starts), while striking out 60.  Guzman’s undoing was his control, as he walked 37 (5.9 BB/9), but allowing 68 hits (10.4/9) did not help.

Guzman began the 2007 season in the Cubs bullpen, but was sent down to Iowa to get more consistent work and be available as a starter should the need arise.  The results in Iowa were disastrous; Guzman allowed 14 runs (all earned) across 10.1 innings, good for a 12.19 ERA.  Despite this, the Cubs called up Guzman in May and used him as a starter for three games; where Guzman pitched well, putting up a 3.52 ERA across 15.1 innings.  After this, Guzman was sent to the bullpen, where he pitched well, with a 4.70 ERA (one bad outing on May 30 made his ERA explode) across 7.2 IP.  In June, Guzman felt pain in his forearm again, and was put onto the DL.  While rehabbing for the AZL Cubs, the pain continued.  Guzman had torn his ulnar collateral ligament and had Tommy John Surgery, not appearing in another game until August 2008, with the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League.  Guzman appeared in two games for the Daytona Cubs, then one game for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, followed by four appearances with the Iowa Cubs.  Appearing in his first Major League game in over a year on September 2, Guzman pitched one scoreless inning, allowing one hit and walking one.  Guzman pitched poorly in 2008, putting up a 5.59 ERA across 9.2 innings, while striking out 10.

Guzman spent most of the 2009 with the Cubs, putting up a spectacular 2.95 ERA across 61 innings over 55 relief appearances, striking out 47 (6.9K/9) to go with a sparkling 1.049 WHIP.  Guzman missed some time in late June and early July due to an upper arm strain, and was shut down in September due to the same issue.

2010 was a terrible year for Guzman.  In January, his brother, Daniel Guzman, a drummer for a rock band back in their native Venezuela was traveling in a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Caracas when three armed men intercepted the SUV in which he was riding and shot him.  Daniel died shortly after sustaining the gunshot wounds, and the motives and identities of the shooters are still unknown.  In February, Guzman had surgery on his meniscus and in March Guzman had surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder.  Guzman missed the entire 2010 season recovering from the surgeries.

After the season, the Cubs removed Guzman from the 40-man roster and signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.  After two starts for the Peoria Chiefs in the Midwest League (his fourth time in the Midwest League) to start the 2011 season, Guzman made 19 appearances (17 starts) for the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League (also his fourth time in the FSL), putting up a 4.26 ERA while easing back into pitching by only throwing 31.2 innings.

In the off season, Guzman signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers with an invitation to spring training.  Despite pitching 5.1 scoreless innings in spring training while giving up only one hit, Guzman was never considered a serious candidate to make the Dodgers and was assigned to the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in the PCL, but did not make an appearance.  Today at 3:45pm EDT (not EST, as the press release states), this release was made:

Dodgers Minor League pitcher Guzman suspended

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League pitcher Angel Guzman has received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse.

The suspension of Guzman, who is currently on the roster of Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League, is effective immediately.

This suspension for a violation, which is not steroids but a “drug of abuse,” will probably end Guzman’s career.  Guzman had been released from the 40-man roster by the Cubs after the 2010 season and the Dodgers were merely using him as an insurance policy, which is never a good sign for a pitcher.

Which begs the question:  What happened to Guzman?  The answer is simple: injuries.  Whenever Guzman seemed to get on a roll, he hurt his arm.  Guzman had Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery, his arm was not what it once was and his performance bore out the decrease in ability.  In the end, Guzman spent over a decade being paid to play baseball, but, in the end, it’s the “what ifs” that hurt the most.  Guzman could have been an amazing pitcher, and the great “what if” was what could have happened if he had just stayed healthy.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.

Sources:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/statistics/players/cards/17740

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=guzman002ang

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/guzmaan01.shtml

http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/7837325/angel-guzman-los-angeles-dodgers-banned-50-games

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100111&content_id=7899794&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://www.baseball-fever.com/archive/index.php/t-38200.html

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120420&content_id=29206086&vkey=pr_mlb&c_id=mlb

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