Results tagged ‘ spring training ’
Every once in a while an athlete so talented comes out of high school who has the natural ability to play two premium positions. Often, those athletes are stars in multiple sports, whose natural talents and flashes of brilliance mask a lack of feel for playing baseball, with those athletes later failing to succeed at any level due to an ability to turn those physical tools into baseball playing ability. Out of Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Florida, one of those athletes was the 2008 first round pick (#30 overall) of the Boston Red Sox, Casey Kelly. Kelly was viewed as a top prospect both as a shortstop and a pitcher, along with being a good enough quarterback to get a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee. Video of Kelly’s reaction to being drafted:
Kelly, who was named Mr. Baseball Florida for 2008, quickly signed with the Red Sox, agreeing to a $3 million signing bonus, the seventh largest in the 2008 draft class, behind only Buster Posey (#5/Giants), Tim Beckham (#1/Rays), Pedro Alvarez (#2/Pirates), Eric Hosmer (#3/Royals), Justin Smoak (#11/Rangers), and Brian Matusz (#4/Orioles). Kelly was sent to the Rookie Level GCL Red Sox, where he played shortstop and hit poorly, putting up a 215/255/331 line in 36 games before being promoted to the Short Season A Lowell Spinners of the New York Penn League, where he played shortstop and hit well, putting up a 344/344/563 line. Despite the poor showing, Kelly was still viewed as an elite prospect, with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus calling Kelly “the most talented two-way player available in the draft,” while raving about Kelly’s power potential, good defensive range and instincts, and plus-plus (70 on the 20-80 scale) arm. Goldstein dinged Kelly for his tendency to chase pitches and generally unrefined game. Goldstein ranked Kelly #6 in the Red Sox system. Baseball America generally agreed, expressing similar concerns and ranked Kelly the #6 prospect in the Red Sox system, naming Kelly as the pitcher with the “Best Curveball” in the Red Sox’s organization.
For 2009, the Red Sox struck a deal with Kelly. The Red Sox wanted Kelly to solely focus on being a pitcher while Kelly preferred to play every day and remain a shortstop. Kelly would be a pitcher for approximately half of the season and then play shortstop for the duration of the season. After the season, there would be a discussion between the Red Sox and Kelly regarding Kelly’s future based upon potential and results. Kelly was assigned to the Greenville Drive of the A Level South Atlantic League, where he absolutely dominated, putting up a 1.12 ERA over 9 starts and 48.1 innings, striking out 39 batters while slowing 32 hits and walking only nine batters. After being named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Team, Kelly was promoted to the High A Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League, Kelly continued to excel, putting up a 3.09 ERA over 8 starts and 46.2 innings, striking out 35 while allowing 33 hits and only seven walks. At this point, Kelly became a shortstop, putting up a 214/290/464 line while back in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League and a putrid 224/305/313 line while playing for the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League. During the 2009 season, Kelly also appeared in the Futures Game for the United States team, pitching one inning and allowing no base runners on nine pitches, six of them strikes.
After the 2009 season, Kelly drew rave reviews for his pitching and was named the Boston Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Baseball America ranked Kelly the #2 prospect in the Red Sox’s system (behind Ryan Westmoreland) and the #24 prospect in all of Baseball. Baseball America named Kelly the pitcher in the Red Sox’s organization with the “Best Fastball,” “Best Curveball,” “Best Changeup,” and “Best Control;” also naming Kelly the #6 prospect in the Carolina League and the #2 prospect in the South Atlantic League. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein generally agreed with Baseball America, ranking Kelly the #2 prospect in the Red Sox’s system (behind Westmoreland) and the #30 prospect in all of Baseball. Goldstein commented how advanced Kelly was as a pitcher, with “excellent sink and run” on an 89-93 mile per hour fastball, an already “plus” curveball, and a developing changeup that looked like it would become a plus offering. Additionally, Goldstein noted Kelly’s athleticism and his “smooth, repeatable, and effortless” delivery. After the season, it was agreed that Kelly would no longer play shortstop and would focus his energy on becoming a pitcher full-time.
Kelly pitching in the Futures Game:
In 2010, Kelly appeared in two spring training games for the Red Sox, putting up a 3.60 ERA across five innings in his first appearance against big league hitters. Below is video of Kelly pitching against Northeastern University:
For the 2010 season, Kelly was aggressively assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs of the AA Eastern League, where Kelly struggled significantly, putting up a 5.31 ERA across 95 innings in 21 starts, averaging under 4.2 innings per start. Kelly allowed 118 hits (11.2/9) and walked 35 batters (3.3/9) for a 1.611 WHIP while striking out 81 batters (7.7/9). While Kelly struggled, he showed flashes of his enormous potential and had a few good outings, including a three-start run from July 11 through July 21, where he totaled 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings, allowing 19 hits and only walking four batters while putting up a 2.55 ERA. Kelly was shut down for the month of August after straining the Latissimus Dorsi in his back.
After the season, Kelly went to the Arizona Fall League to pick up some extra starts. Kelly pitched 16 innings across four starts in the extremely hitter-friendly AFL, putting up a 6.75 ERA that was heavily colored by one particularly bad start on October 25. Kelly put up a 2.57 ERA in his other three starts, showcasing his talent against much older competition. After the season, Kelly was the key piece to Boston’s acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, going to San Diego along with Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson.
After the trade, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked Kelly the #1 prospect in the San Diego Padres’ organization and #48 in all of baseball, stating that Kelly “shows the potential for three average to plus pitches to go with plus command and control,” but that Kelly was “in over his head at Double-A” in 2010 and needs to be more aggressive with his pitching. Baseball America Ranked Kelly the #1 prospect in the Padres’ organization and #31 prospect in baseball, naming Kelly the pitcher in the Padres’ organization with the “Best Curveball.” Due to the timing of the trade, Kelly was also rated to have the “Best Curveball” in the Red Sox organization, as the Red Sox’s ranking came out prior to the trade, but the Padres’ ranking came out after the trade.
In 2011, Kelly was invited to the Padres’ spring training as a non-roster invitee with the expectation that he would open the season in the minor leagues after a view into the life of a Major Leaguer and a full welcoming to the San Diego Padres’ organization. While in the Padres camp Kelly put up a respectable 3.00 ERA in 9 innings and 4 appearances, with one start.
Kelly was assigned to the San Antonio Missions for the 2011 season, back in AA but now in the Texas League. Kelly’s results improved considerably, putting up a 3.98 ERA across 27 starts over 142.2 innings, striking out 105 (6.6/9) while allowing 153 hits (9.7/9) and 46 walks (2.9/9) for a 1.398 WHIP. After the season, Baseball America ranked Kelly the #3 prospect in the Padres’ organization (behind Anthony Rizzo and Rymer Liriano) and the #76 prospect in baseball. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein echoed BA’s drop, ranking Kelly the #7 prospect in the Padres’ organization and the #78 prospect in baseball. Goldstein expressed concern regarding Kelly’s lack of development and downgrading Kelly’s potential from a #2 or #3 to a #3 or a #4 in a rotation.
Back in the Padres’ spring training camp for 2012, Kelly looked like a new pitcher, putting up a 1.74 ERA across 20.2 innings while striking out 18 and only walking two, while drawing rave reviews On March 14, Kelly threw three shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds, giving up five hits and striking out four without walking a single batter. In his first two starts, Kelly threw five shutout innings without giving up a walk, fanning six. Kelly’s performance continued when he was assigned to the Tuscon Padres, the Padres’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. In his first two starts, Kelly went six innings in both games. In the first game, Kelly allowed seven hits and three runs, striking out five. In his second start, Kelly allowed five hits and zero runs, striking out nine while hitting one batter. Prior to his third start Kelly experienced soreness in his right elbow and traveled to San Diego to have Padres’ team doctors perform an examination and get an MRI. Padres’ manager Bud Black said that there was no structural damage and Kelly merely had inflammation around the elbow. The Padres were going to be cautious and give Kelly a few weeks of rest before starting a throwing program to see how the elbow would respond, before even thinking about returning Kelly to Tuscon. As the North County Times has reported, Kelly, who was shut down with arm problems after two starts at Double-A San Antonio, has resumed throwing.
So what is going to come of Kelly? 2012 had become a “make or break” year for Kelly, as he needed to finally justify his draft status and bonus at a level above A-ball, which he was finally doing before he hurt his elbow. Currently resting his elbow, Kelly should start playing catch soon, but having no news for more than two weeks after being “close” is worrisome. Kelly could be the perfect #2 pitcher to slot behind an ace (or be the ace on most teams), but an injury would set him back significantly, not to even discuss potentially ending his status as an elite prospect and moving him to the “let’s see where he is in two years” group. As it looks, Kelly will be back in AAA shortly, with a possible September call-up in the works. What do we expect? I would say Kelly is a pretty good bet to be a rotation mainstay for a long time, but TINSTAAPP.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
This afternoon, news came out that Michael Pineda was diagnosed with an anterior labral tear and will miss the entire season surgery on Tuesday, May 1 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Pineda, who turned 23 in January, has come a long way since signing with the Seattle Mariners out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005.
Signed on December 12, 2005 for a paltry $35,000, Pineda made his professional debut in 2006 in the Dominican Summer League with the DSL Mariners, putting up a 0.44 ERA over eight games (three starts), striking out 14 batters in 20.1 innings. In 2007, Pineda was still unable to get a visa, and again pitched for the DSL Mariners, putting up a 2.29 ERA across 59 inings with 48 strike outs. Finally able to pitch in the U.S. in 2008, Pineda dominated in for the A level Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest Leaue, putting up a 1.95 ERA across 138.1 innings with 128 strike outs. Pineda started 21 games and relieved in five games in an attempt to decrease his workload, finishing the season with a dominating performance against the Quad Cities River Bandits, the St. Louis Cardinals Midwest League affiliate, with 14 strike outs, no walks, and only one hit in a complete game shutout.
Moved up to the High A California League High Desert Mavericks to start 2009, Pineda pitched well to start the season, but quickly encountered arm trouble. After going 5, 6.1, 7, and 7.1 innings to start the season, Pineda was placed on the Minor League Disabled List for 15 days due to elbow soreness. Activated on May 12, Pineda’s innings were limited, going 2 and 3 innings in his next two appearances before re-aggravating the injury and going on the Minor League Disabled List for approximately three months, only returning to the Rookie Level AZL Mariners for a 1 and 2 inning appearance in early August. After being cleared, Pineda was returned to High Desert, where he pitched 13.2 innings over four starts, allowing four runs (three earned), while striking out 22.
In 2010, Pineda was assigned to the AA West Tenn Diamond Jaxx of the Southern League, where he absolutely dominated opponents. Across 77 innings over 13 starts, Pineda struck out 78 and allowed only 67 hits. The Mariners took notice and promoted him to the AAA Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast Leauge, where Pineda kept doing well. Pineda struck out 76 in 62.1 innings with a 4.76 ERA. Pineda, pitching a career high 139.1 innings, clearly tired. In his last two starts, Pineda went 4.1 and 3.2 innings, allowing four and six runs (all earned), with eight hits in both. Pineda’s numbers should also be adjusted to consider that he was in the hitter-friendly environment of the PCL.
After 2010, prospect prognosticators took notice and rated Pineda accordingly. Baseball America ranked Pineda #16 overall (between Matt Moore and Freddie Freeman), Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked Pineda #24 (between Jacob Turner and Dustin Ackley), and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked Pineda #13 (between Kyle Drabek and Mike Montgomery).
Pineda opened the 2011 season as the #5 starter for the Seattle Mariners, immediately showing why he was considered a top prospect. After a six-inning effort on July 4, Pineda had a 2.58 ERA over 108 innings across 1 starts with 106 strike outs and a sparkling .564 OPS-against. Pineda struggled in his next six starts, putting up a 7.64 ERA over 33 innings until mid-August. From August 21 through the rest of the season, Pineda seemed to pitch well, with a 3.60 ERA over five starts across 30 innings. Overall, Pineda pitched very well, putting up a 3.74 ERA (103 ERA+) across 171 innings in his age-22 season, coming in fifth in the Rookie of the Year vote in a very stacked year.
The big trade of the 2012 off season occurred on January 23 when the Mariners dealt Pineda with prospect Jose Campos to the Yankees for ultra-prospect Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
But there was also this: scouts behind home plate had Pineda’s velocity at mostly 90-92.
When Pineda dominated in the first half of last year, he threw his fastball in the mid-90s. Last spring, at this time, Pineda was throwing 95-98 and his changeup was at 88.
In his next start, Pineda silenced critics and hit 94 on the radar gun, as the Yankees’ General Manager, Brian Cashman, said that Pineda is 20 pounds overweight. After the game, Pineda told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News: “I know I can throw harder, but it’s getting better. My arm feels good.” On the eve of the season, Pineda is put on the 15-day Disabled List with shoulder inflammation and tendinitis, which is never a good omen. Then, just today, the bombshell hit: Pineda will undergo surgery next Tuesday to repair an anterior labral tear, which will keep him out for the entire 2012 season, and possibly part of 2013.
What will happen to Pineda from here? Surgery then rehabilitation is for sure, how well his “stuff” comes back is another story altogether. While many pitchers have come back from elbow surgery (such as ulnar collateral ligament surgery, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery) with flying colors, such as Stephen Strasburg and, well, Tommy John, shoulder surgeries, especially ones on the labrum, have a less successful track record. As State’s Will Carroll wrote:
Leading baseball surgeon Dr. James Andrews estimates that 85 percent of pitchers make a full recovery after an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, aka the once risky Tommy John surgery. (USA Today has even called the surgery the “pitcher’s best friend.”) But if pitchers with torn labrums were horses, they’d be destroyed. Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level. Think about that when your favorite pitcher comes down with labrum trouble: He has a 3 percent chance of becoming Rocky Biddle. More likely, he’ll turn into Mike Harkey, Robert Person, or Jim Parque, pitchers who lost stamina and velocity—and a major-league career—when their labrums began to fray.
So what can we expect? It’s entirely possible that this may be the end of the career of Michael Pineda, which would be unfortunate for every baseball fan, as Pineda’s talent is worth the price of admission. But Pineda may return, and he may return to form, but only time will tell.
So does this mean that the Mariners won the trade? It probably does. While the Yankees may end up striking gold with Jose Campos, Jesus Montero was a lot to give up for a 19-year old pitcher in A-ball. In the end, we will need five years to evaluate the trade, but early returns give the Mariners a big advantage. And remember, TNSTAAPP.
Update: Curt Schilling has said that he thinks Pineda “can be back better than he has ever been in 10 months. Maybe less, because he is younger. It is going to be 100 percent on him.” Mark Mulder, who had a labral tear and a rotator cuff injury never felt the same after coming back from surgery.
On the other hand, five pitchers (Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Al Leiter, Chris Carpenter, and Gil Meche) threw more than 1,000 innings following the surgery, and another six (Scott Elarton, Jason Isringhausen, Ted Lilly, Jon Rauch, Anibal Sanchez, and Jose Valverde) have topped 400 innings.
So it appears that there is significant precedent for a successful return for Pineda – but not one without risk.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.