Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quick Rundown of the 12 Minor Leaguers Signed Yesterday

On Tuesday, the Red Sox made 12 Minor League signings, some of which are more intriguing than others. Here's a quick blurb for each of the 12. (In parentheses will be what age-season 2012 will be for the player).

Carlos Silva (age-33 season)
Silva is an interesting signing, but one that likely won't be much of a return. He has pitched in 29 Major League games in the past three years, and managed only seven Minor League appearances last year due to injury. When he was healthy, he was a control master, with a career 1.73 BB/9. However, he always gave up a bunch of home runs, and really can't be expected to be much more than replacement level at this point.

Brandon Duckworth (age-36 season)
Duckworth is an older pitcher who has been bouncing around the professional ranks since the late 90's and broke into the bigs in 2001. He has never really stuck, pitching in just 134 games in the past decade, and hasn't thrown a big league pitch since 2008. The soft-throwing righty probably won't get his chance this year, either.

Charlie Haeger (age-28 season)
Haeger is most well known for his knuckle ball, which is a dying pitch in this game. To be quite frank, he will not be the one resuscitating it. He actually began last year in Double-A Portland, and pitched decently for them. However, he has struggled at almost every other place he's ever pitched, including a 5.85 FIP and -0.6 fWAR in 34 career Major League appearances.

Will Inman (age-25 season)
Inman is probably the most exciting pitcher so far, just because he is young enough where improvement isn't out of the picture. After excelling in the lower levels of Milwaukee's Minor League system, he struggled a bit in his adjustment to AA. However, the next two years in San Diego's system at that level he returned to decent form, keeping his FIP in the 3's in those seasons. However, his adjustment to AAA has been basically awful, as he is struggling mightily to keep the ball in the yard. Perhaps a change of scenery was needed, but at this point he doesn't look like much more than a quick injury replacement in the bullpen.

Doug Mathis (age-29 season)
Mathis is another intriguing signing who has had some sort of success at the big league level. His velocity sits in the low 80s-high 90s, and he pitched 37 games for the Rangers in 2009-20010. 2009 was his best year, as he had 24 appearances and held his BB/9 down at 2.11. This was good enough for a 3.99 FIP and 0.4 fWAR. Fangraphs has rated only his slider as above average, and even that is just barely. He started 17 games at AAA last year and struggled with control and had a FIP above 4.

Tony Pena Jr. (age-31 season)
Pena is one of the more interesting players in baseball. He broke into the big leagues as an infielder and even was a regular for the Royals in 2007. However, his allergy to walks made it so trying to pitch was the only way to keep his career going. He doesn't have a 31 year old arm, as last year at Pawtucket was his first substantial pitching work. He pitched pretty well, with a 1.81 K/BB ratio and a 3.97 FIP. If some natural improvement comes as he gets used to throwing off a mound, he could get some spot usage in the Fenway bullpen.

Chorye Spoone (age-26 season)
Spoone has spent his entire career in the Orioles system, and has shown that he does not have what it takes to be a starter. According to scouting reports, he has a fastball that sits in the 90-95 range, and a plus curveball that can make him an effective reliever at some point. However, at no point during his minor league career has he shown any semblance of control. 

Jesse Carlson (age-31 season)
Carlson was actually signed back in December. He missed all of last season due to rotator cuff surgery. However, he does bring 162 games of experience in the AL East, as he spent the previous three years in Toronto. He has struck out righties at a higher rate, but the lefty gave up less walks and less home runs to fellow lefties, explaining his improved FIP. Only time will tell how he returns from injury, but he has shown an ability to perform at the big league level previously in his career.

Rich Hill (age-32 season)
This is probably my favorite signing of all of these low-level deals. Hill was with the team last year and probably represented their best left-handed pitcher for the short time he was in the 'pen. He was striking out batters at a high rate in a small sample size. He missed most of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but if he is able to recover smoothly, expect to see Rich Hill on big league mounds this year.

Justin Thomas (age-28 season)
Thomas is a guy who has limited big league experience, but is a lefty and is worth the shot at AAA. He is a soft thrower, but has a plus-slider that punishes lefties. Control has been an issue with him, as have strikeouts at the big league level. He has shown potential for strikeouts in the minors, but hasn't been able to translate that skill to the Majors. 

Pedro Ciriaco (age-26 season)
The first batter on the list, Ciriaco is a shortstop with a plus-glove, plus-speed, and a not-so-plus-bat. He has never shown any semblance of an ability to walk, posting a BB-rate no higher than 4.0% since reaching High-A ball. In a small 40 plate appearance sample size, he has posted somewhat surprising batting stats. He has a .370 wOBA and 134 wRC+, but this is mainly due to an utterly unsustainable .433 BABIP. He will be no more than a pinch runner/defensive replacement.

Nate Spears (age-27 season)
Spears is a utility guy who has been in the Sox system for the past two years, even earning a three-game, four-plate appearance stint with the big league squad last year. Sox Prospects describes him as a "David Eckstein-type," and he has apparently made enough of an impression for the team to bring him back. He has shown an above-average ability to draw walks, and has shown decent power in the Sox system. He will never be anything special, but can contribute here and there.      

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