Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Who's Who of Minor League Free Agent Pitchers

The one thing I love most in blogging: lists. It gives me great joy to share the best list of the year with you today: Baseball America's list of minor league free agents.

Without further ado, here are some interesting names (in no particular order) in the minor league free agent pitching market (ages as of April 1, 2010...I'm sure I've gotten some wrong, so post corrections in the comments):

LHP Jon Coutlangus (29 years old): Very unlucky in 2009 for the Diamondbacks organization, was useful in 2007 for the Reds. Only pitched 5 and 2/3 innings total in 2008, so I'm guessing he had some sort of surgery (although I couldn't find online confirmation). His inability to keep the walks down makes him no better than an average option as a LOOGY.

RHP Scott Dohmann (32 years old): He's good when he's lucky, and he's not good when he's not lucky. He was decent for the Rays in 2007, but has been shaky in both the minors and majors since then. Not a bad AAA filler, but not somebody you want to count on coming out of the major league bullpen.

RHP Bobby Korecky (30 years old): Impressive minor league numbers throughout his career, but always seems to forget how to pitch when he reaches the majors. But he's pitched very, very well in 2008 and 09 in AAA, so he deserves a shot in Spring Training.

LHP Mariano Gomez (27 years old): Doesn't have particularly impressive rate stats, but does have an impressive record of getting outs and keeping runs off of the board. Without hit and miss stuff (even in AAA), I can't guarantee success in the Majors, but he should get a Spring Training chance for a team looking for a LOOGY.

RHP Lance Niekro (31 years old): Before you ask, you already know. Yes, he was a 1B and yes, he converted to a knuckleballer like his father and uncle threw. He wasn't very good in rookie ball for the Braves organization this year, but what else could be expected out of someone who probably hasn't pitched in a decade? Stick him on your GCL team and the worst case scenario is he turns into a mentor for your recent high school draft picks.

RHP Ben Davis (33 years old): Also attempting to recreate his career as a knuckleballer after a so-so journey as a backup catcher. Better low-minors stats than Niekro, but we're talking very small sample sizes. Worth a shot in GCL as well.

LHP Casey Fossum (32 years old): Sure, his ML experiences have been pretty bad, but he pitched pretty well in 2008 and 2009. I would be surprised if he didn't end up in somebody's camp in Florida or Arizona come spring.

RHP Greg Atencio (28 years old): Let me know when guys with double digit K/9 rates and respectable BB/9 rates stop getting offers. Until then, I'll invite Atencio to Spring Training and have him serve as a setup man in AAA in the meantime.

LHP Alex Smit (24 years old): He's young and he's pitched fairly well since joining the Reds organization in 2007 (albeit at lower levels). Unlike Shairon Martis and Andruw Jones, he's in "from the Netherlands" Dutch.

RHP Scott Chiasson (32 years old): He's bounced around a whole lot, but has put up very good numbers in Mexico for the last two years as well as in AAA for the Reds and Orioles organizations for the last 4 years. He probably won't stick, but he could be a useful arm for AAA/emergencies.

RHP David Pauley (26 years old): Could be the J.D. Martin of the 2009-10 minor league FA class. Has generally put up good numbers in the higher levels but has been knocked around in 9 career ML games. Young enough to be able to make a difference at some point, even though his ceiling is a 5th starter/long relief type.

RHP Jarod Plummer (26 years old): Although he had uncharacteristically high walk numbers this year, he is usually known for his great control. He has put up good-but-not-great minor league numbers, but like Pauley, is young enough to be worth a longer look.

LHP Derrick Loop (26 years old): Ripped apart high A ball this year, but as a 25 year old. Push him up to AA and then AAA quickly and see if his rate stats stick.

RHP Dylan Axelrod (24 years old): Still young, and impressive minor league track record through the 2008 season. Rate stats really fell off in 2009, however, and he still hasn't thrown a pitch above high A ball.

RHP Fernando Hernandez (25 years old): Taken in the Rule 5 draft before the 2008 season by the A's, but didn't stick. Had a breakout year in 2009, but must keep the walks down to make it in the majors.

RHP Ryan Speier (30 years old): Sure, I have a soft spot for Speier because he went to my high school. But the fact of the matter is: he threw 99 and 1/3 quality innings in the majors for the Rockies since 2005 (3.99 ERA, 3.96 FIP). His K and BB numbers might not wow you, but he gets outs with his submarine pitching motion.

LHP Ryan Ketchner (27 years old): Ketchner's control has been very good over the last 2 years (2.34 BB/9 in that span, including a 1.32 BB/9 rate in 2009). Because of this improvement, I'm willing to overlook his general mediocrity and see if he can convert this newfound control into real success in 2010.

RHP Jason Waddell (28 years old): After experimenting with unusually high walk rates in 2008, Waddell settled down in 2009. Since 2006, he has a 9.21 K/9 and a 3.37 BB/9 in A+, AA, AAA and ML. Take out 2008 and he had a 8.91 K/9 and a 2.59 BB/9. I'm cool with either set of numbers.

RHP Jonathon Fulton (26 years old): The converted third baseman put up very respectable numbers in his first two years of professional pitching in 2008 and 09, with good ERA, FIP and K numbers but (as expected), shaky BB stats. At 26 years old, he really needs to be pushed to higher levels quickly if he wants to be a major league player.

RHP Clay Hensley (30 years old): He's a depth guy, someone you don't mind having around in case of injury. He is not as good as his 2005 and 06 numbers for the Padres indicated, but he's better than Levale Speigner.

RHP Brian Lawrence (33 years old): Time might be running out for Lawrence, but he looks to be back to his old tricks in AAA, with a K/9 rate hovering near 6 and a BB/9 rate just over 2. Another depth guy that could turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

RHP Kasey Olenberger (32 years old): Normally I wouldn't look twice at a guy like Olenberger, but he looks to be remade as a reliever. In his first year as a full-time reliever, Olenberger put up a 1.10 ERA, a 2.6 BB/9 and a 8.8 K/9. I wouldn't mind seeing him get more reps as a AAA reliever and then considering him for an injury replacement or September callup.

RHP Casey Daigle (28 years old): For some reason, I feel like Daigle has been around forever. Nonetheless, he looked good out of the bullpen in 2009 (and in 2008 as well) and can throw a lot of innings. If he can bring his walks down, he can be a ML reliever.

RHP Abraham Gonzalez (23 years old): A lot of 22 year olds can strike out over 10 guys per 9 innings in rookie ball, but not so many can do so while only walking a little more than 2 guys per 9. While the sample size is pretty small, somebody will sign him.

LHP Andy Van Hekken (30 years old): Doesn't walk anybody and puts up decent stats otherwise. Sign me up!

LHP Heath Phillips (28 years old): He's nothing special anymore, but he is a solid LHP who can help out in AAA or the majors if needed.

RHP Kendy Batista (28 years old): Has put up good numbers the last few years but has always been too old for his level. Try him out in Spring Training and at AAA and see if he can handle the highest levels.

RHP Travis Chick (25 years old): Nothing left to prove in AA, consistent K/9 rates in the mid 7's and BB/9 rates in the low 3's. Old enough to make a difference soon, young enough to be worth investing in...I'm a fan of this Chick.

RHP Hyang-Nam Choi (39 years old): Phenomenal AAA numbers in 2006 with the Indians organization and with the Dodgers organization in 2009. All I know is that 12 K/9 is something any team could use.

RHP Francisco Felix (26 years old): Very good 2009, I'm surprised the Dodgers let him go. He'll be a nice pickup for somebody.

RHP Jordan Pratt (24 years old): Tons of K's but tons of BB's. Maybe a different organization can help him straighten out his live arm.

RHP Scott Strickland (33 years old): Might be finally recovered from Tommy John surgery. Walks are a little bit up, but he looks like he can still make a difference on the ML level.

LHP Chris Capuano (31 years old): There is no guarantee Capuano will make a full recovery from his second Tommy John surgery, but 2010 will be the season where he tries. With only 9 innings of actual game pitching in the last two years, it will be tough to count on him for a lot of innings, but he's at worst an average starting pitcher when healthy.

LHP Chase Wright (27 years old): AAA depth guy/emergency 5th starter. You could do much worse with a Spring Training invitation, but also much better.

RHP Jim Ed Warden (30 years old): Somebody's got to give this guy a shot in the Majors, right? He's got nothing left to prove in the minors, and will get invited to Spring Training by somebody.

LHP Adam Bostick (27 years old): High K rate, high BB rate (broken record, I know), but maybe somebody can straighten him out!

RHP Scott Mitchinson (25 years old): The Aussie has always put up good minor league numbers, but simply has never pitched many innings or been promoted much. His 2009 wasn't great, but his peripherals held up. I see him getting a chance with somebody's AA squad this season.

RHP Humberto Sanchez (26 years old): The former top prospect hasn't thrown much since having Tommy John surgery, but the K's are still there. I don't know why any team wouldn't call his agent and line up a tryout.

RHP Jose Valdez (27 years old): BB's rose significantly in 2009, but he still pitched well. He'll stick with somebody and probably make his ML debut in 2010.

LHP Justin Hampson (29 years old): I don't know why he only threw 6 and 2/3 innings in 2009, but he pitched well in San Diego from 07-08 (well enough to be rumored in a Adam Dunn-to-the-Padres trade in 2007). I'd give him a chance.

RHP Alex Conception (25 years old): 1.13 BB/9 in 95 and 1/3 innings in 2009. Sure, he doesn't strike out a whole lot of batters, but I'll take that kind of control any day.

RHP Gary Majewski (30 years old): Remember when he, Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero were a monstrous 7th-8th-9th combination for the Nats in 2005? It's hard to say who has really fallen the most since then, as all have had a ton of injuries and very little success afterwards. Majewski looked decent in AAA this past year, putting up a 4.02 ERA. He doesn't strike out enough guys and walks too many to be a force in the majors, but he can still be a decent ML injury replacement.

RHP Oneli Perez (26 years old): Put up video game numbers for the White Sox organization in 2006 and 2007, regressed a bit in 2008 and then was solid in 2009 for the Cardinals, striking out 8.19 per 9 and walking 2.96 per 9 in 67 innings. I guess having 12 fingers makes it easier to put up beastly stats.

LHP Gustavo Chacin (29 years old): Might have "it" back. His rate stats still stink, but they aren't so different from those of his breakout 2005 season for the Blue Jays.

RHP Randy Messenger (28 years old): Continues to prove that, while he's nothing special in terms of an ML talent, he can fill in from time to time and not look completely out of place.

RHP Richard de los Santos (25 years old): I'm not sure why he got demoted back to A and high A ball in 2009, but other than a rough 15 inning stint in AAA in 2007, he has been at the very worst an average pitcher since 2006, flirting with being a pretty good one. Low K rate, but low BB rate as well. Worth a shot.

RHP Calvin Medlock (27 years old): Went from walking 32 batters in 63 innings pitched in 2008 to 16 in 82 innings pitched in 2009. If the former is the real Calvin Medlock, he's out of time. If the latter is the real Calvin Medlock, he's simply running out of time.

LHP Ian Ostlund (31 years old): Rough year in 2009 by Ian Ostlund standards, mainly because of poor luck. I still think Ostlund would be at least an average LOOGY in the majors.

LHP Charlie Manning (31 years old): An average choice at best, as this year he was under 4 BB/9 for the first time in a full season since 2006 (at any level).

RHP Sean Smith (26 years old): Very good year in 2009, but the walks still scare me. 2010 may be his last real chance to shed the AAAA label.

RHP Chad Cordero (28 years old): Can you believe he'll only be 28 in March? The Chief was a pretty darn good closer for the Nats in their first 3 years in DC but had Tommy John surgery early in the 2008 season. Bad news: he was awful in 2009 in rookie and A ball, allowing 23 hits, 15 runs and 2 homers (with a 15 K and 5 BB) in 14 and 1/3 innings. 2010 could very well be his make or break year to see if he'll recover from this surgery. I certainly hope he recovers 100%!

RHP Clint Everts (25 years old): The former 1st round pick (taken 1 pick before Greinke and 2 before Fielder) blossomed for the first time in 2009, putting together a 1.65 ERA and 10.2 K/9 (although with a scary 3.9 BB/9). He'll stick with somebody in 2010 and I bet he will make his ML debut as well.

This list took longer than expected and my work schedule has changed a little bit, so I wouldn't expect the hitters list to be finished until Tuesday or Wednesday. Enjoy!

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