Well here we are with the first week of Major League roster expansion, yet somehow the anticipation of new arrivals has dimmed some this year with so many fine prospects being advanced during the course of the season.
I was actually in San Francisco working on Wednesday as just before the 8/31 waiver trade deadline the Giants jettisoned Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada, making room for first baseman Brett Pill. Selected in the seventh round of the 2006 draft, out of Cal State Fullerton, Pill has basically moved up a level each year since, save the last two at Triple-A Fresno. In 2009 Pill blasted his way through the Eastern League with .298-19-109 totals that included 37 doubles, moving him to to the PCL in 2010 where he posted .275-16-84 numbers. This time through he was .312-25-107, with 36 doubles and though Pill is a little long in the tooth (he turns 27 this week), as long as Brandon Belt holds left field, Pill could be in the first base works in the future.
If there was a big name promoted this week it has to be Yankees catcher Jesus Montero, who has minor league totals of .308-76-318 totals with 118 doubles. There should really be no hard sell on Montero, but, think about this: in 2008 he was a Sally League All Star; in 2009 he was a Florida State League All Star; in 2010 he was an Eastern League All Star; and this year he was an International League All Star. Four years, four levels, and four All Star teams.
I saw the debut of right handed pitcher Andrew Carignan of the Athletics on Friday night, which was solid, with him hitting the gun at 97 MPH. A fifth round selection of Oakland in 2007, Carignan is just a reliever, with zero starts over 132 appearances to go with 40 minor league saves. He does have 195 whiffs over 150 innings, with just 101 hits allowed. It is the 104 walks, however, that jack his WHIP up to 1.367. At 25-years old, with a 9-8, 2.94 mark, with a terrific eight home runs allowed, Carignan should stay on your radar. After all, the Athletics have had good success with bull pen mates named Andrew.
It is not like the Rangers are hurting for young sticks, but with the addition of outfielder Leonys Martin, the team certainly is maintaining a tradition. Signed just last year, Martin has shot through four levels this season, starting with four games (.267-0-1) of Rookie ball, followed by 29 contests at Double-A Frisco (.328-4-24), then 40 at Triple-A Round Rock (.263-0-17), before joining the Rangers where he has a hit. This gives the 23-year old a 73 game minor league resume of .295-4-42, with 16 doubles, five triples, 19 steals, and an excellent .362 OBP (27 walks to 38 whiffs). This is a guy to keep an eye on.
The Phillies brought forth pitcher Michael Schwimer, picked in the 14th round of the 2008 draft, this week. Schwimer is huge (6'8", 240) and throws hard as his 313 minor league strikeouts to 234 minor league innings implies. Overall he is 20-10, 2.50 over that span with just 185 hits and 79 free passes allowed. This season, at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Schwimer was 9-1, 1.85, with ten saves over 68 innings, and like Carignan, Schwimer has only worked in relief as a pro. He does, however, look like the Phillies closer in waiting.
However, if Martin and Schwimer seem like prodigies, check out the White Sox Addison Reed, also brought up this week. The 22-year old, signed last year, has played at four minor league levels this season, from four games at Class-A Kanapolis (0-0, 1.12), 15 games at Winston-Salem (2-0, 1.59), to 13 games at Double-A Birmingham (0-1, 0.87), to 11 games at Triple-A Charlotte (0-0, 1.27) and now at US Cellular. Reed's aggregates are 3-1, 1.41 over 108.1 minor league innings, with 60 hits and 20 walks allowed, to 155 strikeouts. That is a WHIP of 0.738 to go along with six saves and just four homers allowed.
I saw 24-year old Trayvon Robinson Sunday, subbing for a damaged Casper Wells. Robinson was part of the three-way Dodgers, Red Sox, Mariners deadline swap, and let me tell you, he is fast (he stole a base). Picked by the Dodgers in the tenth round of the 2005 draft, Robinson has 150 Minor League swipes to go along with a .283-64-303 minor league line over 671 games, with 104 doubles and 38 triples. The down side is Robinson has been caught stealing 67 times, and his 270 walks to 701 strikeouts and those numbers will have to improve to ensure a chance at major league playing time.
Finally, looking to a vet whom I always liked, and who has never put it together, Rick Vanden Hurk is the one. Now with the Orioles chain, Vanden Hurk was 9-13, 4.43 this season at AAA Norfolk with 108 strikeouts over 154.1 innings, and just 141 hits to 40 walks (1.17 WHIP). Compare that to his major league totals of 8-10, 5.42, with 170 whiffs over 173.1 innings, to188 hits and 88 walks (1.52 WHIP) and maybe the right hander has learned enough control to survive in the Majors. He is still just 26 after all.