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April 23, 2005

Minor League Notes: 4/21&22/05
by Fabian

Note: Park Factors are courtesy of Baseball Prospectus 2005 and “they are actually adjustments for teams, based on their own mix of home and road parks…relative to the league”. Numbers in parentheses are hitters’ totals in the respective category at this point of the season and counted across levels. A pitcher’s line consists of IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR.

AAA Columbus (International League):
Park Factor:

My hope that Robinson Cano’s poor offensive night on the 20th was just a bump in the road seems to have come true. Cano followed one of his more forgettable nights thus far this season by going 3 for 5 on Thursday and then 1 for 4 with a walk (5) and a strikeout (8) on Friday. So, as Womack continues to flounder at the ML level with an OPS in the low .600 range, Cano continues to stay above 1. for Columbus. Cano is obviously beginning to cool off somewhat and it’ll be interesting to see exactly where the cooling off period leaves him. Regardless, he is still most likely better for the ML team than Womack is right now, despite whatever the front office may think.

Chien-Ming Wang started for Columbus last night and had a meh game. The first line of Yankee defense if/when everyone gives up on Kevin Brown went 6-12-4-4-0-3-0. Wang’s ERA now sits at 4.15 and he has not been nearly as good in this AAA stint as he was during last year’s but that should have been expected, to an extent. Still, Wang as been solid thus far and if nothing else, is proving he can eat innings even on his less than stellar days.

AA Trenton (Eastern League):
Park Factor:

On Thursday, Eric Duncan was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts (10), making his situation look more hapless than usual. Then, on Friday, he finally arrived. Duncan had what is easily his best game of the year as the 20-year-old went 2 for 3 with a double (1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a walk. Hopefully, finally having his first XBH of the season will get Duncan back on the track he needs to be where those types of hits come more often than not. While Duncan’s stretch to start the season was pretty horrid, it was only 50 odd at bats (hopefully) and he had a month last year, June, where he was much worse and still ended the year with fine overall totals so don’t write off his ’05 just yet. Just like the frustrations with the ML Yankees, things are only being amplified by taking place early.

In other Trenton offensive prospect news, Melky Cabrera has returned to the lineup and Bronson Sardinha promptly went cold. Sardinha is 0 for 7 with a strikeout (15) over the last two games while Cabrera has returned cold; the CF is 1 for 8 with 2 strikeouts (8). Due to uncharacteristically only having 1XBH thus far and his impatient hitting style only producing 1 BB, Cabrera has been just about as unproductive as Duncan thus far despite a BA about .40 points higher.

On Thursday night Sean Henn authored a reasonably dominant start despite less than perfect control. Henn was good for 7.1-2-0-0-4-5-0 and now has a 0.98 ERA in 18.1 innings, as he has gotten off to a fast start, similar to last year. The key will be if the fatigue issues that plagued him last year, causing an eventual pattern of good start-bad start, will once again crop up. I’m also curious to see how much Henn’s bullpen conversion will be pushed off based on the performance he has had as a starter thus far in ’05.

Steven White was initially scheduled to start Friday night’s game, but was not able to take the mound due to an injury he incurred during a side session. Perhaps the time off will allow him to clear his head and get his game together.

A+ Tampa (Florida State League):
Park Factor:

Hector Made had what I guess could/should be qualified as a hot stretch, considering his seasonal numbers, over the Thursday-Friday games. Made was a combined 3 for 10 with a double (2), a walk (4), and a strikeout (10). His BA is now up to .219 with a .261 OBP and .281 SLG…terrific.

Rudy Guillen and Erold Andrus were not as fortunate during the two games. Andrus was just plain horrid, while Guillen did have 1 hit to talk about. The hit for Guillen was a HR, his first of this year and 2nd over the past two seasons, but overall he was still only 1 for 9 with a walk (5) and 5 strikeouts (17). Andrus was 0 for 8 with 2 walks (6) and 4 strikeouts (12). If I were looking for positives from the seasons of Andrus and Guillen so far I’d have to look at the fact that their walk rates are decent.

The most exciting news to come out of Tampa was definitely that the starter for Friday night’s game was Abel Gomez. Making his ’05 debut, Gomez was very good for 4 innings before losing control, literally, before walking 3 in his 5th and final inning. The final line for the LHP was 5-4-5-2-4-3-0. Gomez on the Tampa team definitely makes them a lot more exciting and now all that needs to happen is the return of Eric Abreu. I’m also excited to see how the adjustments that were made to improve Abel’s control will play out.

A- Charleston (South Atlantic League):
Park Factor: