Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report-> 2000 Year in Review About the author, Boyd Nation

The Old Dogs Report -- 2000 Year in Review

Written November 14-22, 2000.

It's time once again to look back, and try to get a glimpse ahead, as we examine the year for all of the professional former Bulldogs. I'm trying to learn to understand just how strong the pull of the game is, so I'll be less likely to predict that folks are through this year. As always, I love all of these guys, and I certainly have no intent to place them in a less-than-positive light, but I'm going to try to make an honest evaluation of how they're doing.

Overall, the group as a whole was probably slightly less successful than last year, simply because only one player had a breakout year -- Ginter -- and his wasn't quite as outstanding as Piatt's 1999, while no one from the older guard came particularly close to Palmeiro's 1999. On the other hand, there was quite a bit of success here, and this year's class shows some promise.

Brantley, Jeff (1)  Philadelphia      Philadelphia    National          MLB
Brantley, Jeff (2)  Clearwater        Philadelphia    Florida State     High A
Brantley, Jeff (3)  Scranton-WB       Philadelphia    International     AAA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Brantley(1) 55   5.86 55.1   36   36   57   64   29   12   2    7    23
Brantley(2) 5    3.00 6.0    2    2    5    5    3    0    2    0    0
Brantley(3) 5    3.60 5.0    2    2    4    3    1    1    0    0    0

In an absolute sense, this isn't a particularly great year. 5.86 in the NL isn't going to get you much in the way of Cy Young consideration, and 12 home runs by a closer is more than you really want to see. On the other hand, he's in pretty good shape for the shape he's in. I had assumed that his injury problems of 1999 were final, but he came through the early season rehab assignments fine and was throwing quite well by midyear. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Brantley stick around for another couple of years. On the other hand, he's not on the Phillies' 40-man roster, and I'm not sure what his contract status is, so we'll see how it goes.

Ginter, Matt (1)    Birmingham        Chicago W Sox   Southern          AA
Ginter, Matt (2)    Chicago W Sox     Chicago W Sox   American          MLB
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Ginter(1)   27   2.25 179.   72   45   126  153  60   6    11   8    0
Ginter(2)   7    13.5 9.1    14   14   6    18   7    5    1    0    0

Ginter was the real breakout story of the year. Because the White Sox are so heavily stocked with pitching prospects, it didn't get the attention that it probably deserved, but he put up some great numbers in Birmingham, second in the Southern League in ERA. He took some lumps in Chicago after the callup, but they could afford to leave him in under the circumstances, and he's hardly the first young pitcher to need a break-in period. At this point, I'd consider the chances to be about equal that he opens the year in Charlotte or Chicago in 2001, and I expect him to split the season between them. We'll see how his arm holds up, but I'm optimistic about his future.

Loewer, Carlton(1)* San Diego         San Diego       National          MLB
Loewer, Carlton(2)  Salt Lake City    San Diego       Pacific Coast     AAA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Loewer(2)   1    0.00 4.2    0    0    4    3    0    0    0    0    0

This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Loewer was potentially heading into his prime, his broken arm was completely healed, he had a new team in San Diego in need of his strengths, and he was supposed to have a big year. Then the offseason hunting accident stole the first half of the year from him, and he hurt his shoulder trying to come back. There's no reason to think his health problems will continue, but the year-and-a-half away from the game probably haven't helped.

Powell, Jay *       Houston           Houston         National          MLB
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Powell      29   5.67 27.0   18   17   16   29   19   1    1    1    0

That asterisk (my symbol for players on the disabled list) tells the story of Powell's season. As far as I can tell, he came out of spring training hurting, and it never got better before his season-ending surgery. We'll see how it goes from here, since he probably has the biggest range of possible outcomes for the rest of his career of any of the group.

Clark, Will         Baltimore         Baltimore       American          MLB
Clark, Will         St. Louis         St. Louis       National          MLB
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Clark       130  .418 .546 .319 427  136  69   30   2    21   5    2    78

Well, I couldn't have scripted any of this year for Clark, including the postseason or post-postseason parts. He was basically the same player as he's been for the last few years in Baltimore, sometimes injured and only somewhat effective for a 1B/DH. Somehow, though, he caught fire in St. Louis. Maybe it was the playoff race, maybe it was the feeling of wanting to hold up the McGwire legacy, maybe it was just one of those patches of brilliance that he's always been prone to occasionally, but he had a truly fantastic portion of the season after the trade, and a wonderful post-season after that.

Then, he retired, at 36. As I heard someone say, I had always figured that Clark would be one of those guys who would have to be dragged off the field kicking and screaming, but he apparently decided to go out on top. Looking back on his career, his long decline phase has probably cost him some of the recognition he deserves. For a short time, Will Clark was as good as anyone in the game. He doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, but he certainly was a guy worth having on the roster for more than a decade, and that great short peak makes his a career to envy.

Palmeiro, Rafael    Texas             Texas           American          MLB
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Palmeiro    158  .397 .558 .288 565  163  103  29   3    39   2    1    102

Palmeiro didn't have as good a year as he did in 1999. Then again, very few players had as good a season in 2000 as Palmeiro had in 1999, so that's not a particularly fair standard. A .955 OPS is well above average by DH standards, and he broke 100 walks again, so the skills are still there. On the other hand, he really needs at least one more huge 1999-style year to cement his Hall of Fame credentials, so I'm hoping he breaks out once more next year, since he's quickly moving past the age where such things are likely.

Piatt, Adam (1)     Sacramento        Oakland         Pacific Coast     AAA
Piatt, Adam (2)     Oakland           Oakland         American          MLB
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Piatt(1)    65   .355 .437 .283 254  72   26   15   0    8    3    2    36
Piatt(2)    60   .392 .490 .299 157  47   23   5    5    5    0    1    24

There's good news and bad news here. The bad news is that these are good but not great numbers -- an .882 OPS for a corner outfielder will get your contract renewed, but it won't put you in the All-Star game (well, it might, but just because the voters are not all that bright some times), especially when you're platooned. The AAA numbers were especially disappointing. The good news, however, is much bigger -- he's a major leaguer. Piatt played in 60 games, he looked quite acceptable in the field (one of the major concerns coming in), and the A's let Matt Stairs go at the end of the year, effectively clearing the way for Piatt to play 130 games or so next year. The A's are smart enough that they're not going to commit to anyone for the next decade, but the job is his to lose for the foreseeable future.

Donovan, Kevin *    Batavia           Philadelphia    New York-Penn     SS A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Donovan     7    10.9 10.2   15   13   13   17   6    2    0    1    0

There's nothing here to get excited about, but the news behind the numbers is not too bad; his injury problems don't seem likely to linger, and I suspect he'll get a chance to play again next year.

Dubose, Eric (1)    Midland           Oakland         Texas             AA
Dubose, Eric (2)    Visalia           Oakland         California        High A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Dubose(1)   18   4.13 28.1   16   13   20   25   18   1    5    1    0
Dubose(2)   5    1.69 10.2   2    2    12   8    5    0    0    1    1

The roster moves for Dubose are more interesting than what's shown here. After the season, in which he never really seemed to come back from his injury problems of last year, he was cut by the A's. He was then picked up by the Indians, cut again, and then picked up by the Tigers. Obviously, there's still a good bit of uncertainty about his future, but it appears that he'll get at least one more chance, probably in long relief to start with. Only two years ago, Dubose was on the A's top 10 prospect list, so the talent is there; it's just a matter of getting back on his feet. The Tigers did put him on their 40-man roster, so they're at least interested in keeping him around for a year to see what happens.

Estel, Justin *     Vermont           Montreal        New York/Penn     SS A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Estel       3    1.80 5.0    1    1    3    3    3    0    0    0    0

Not much to tell here, because I haven't heard anything one way or the other about his injury problems. Obviously, that's a nice start, but three appearances is just not significant.

Freed, Mark         Eugene            Chicago Cubs    Northwest         SS A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Freed       15   3.58 88.0   36   35   66   77   30   3    9    2    0

Freed was probably the biggest breakout from the Bulldog draft class of 2000. He averaged almost six innings a start and put up a WHIP of only 1.22, well below league average. He was named to the All-League team for the Northwest League. All in all, a nice start.

Hooten, David (1)   New Britain       Minnesota       Eastern           AA
Hooten, David (2)   Salt Lake         Minnesota       Pacific Coast     AAA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Hooten(1)   37   5.28 61.1   38   36   64   59   26   6    4    3    1
Hooten(2)   13   3.90 27.2   14   12   15   26   10   7    1    2    1

The odyssey continues, against all odds. He's too old to be at this stage of his career, but David Hooten finally made it to AAA this year, despite the fact that his AA numbers weren't all that great (the HR and BB totals aren't bad, he just still gives up too many hits). At this point, especially given the organization he's in, I wouldn't rule anything out.

Jackson, Jeremy     Capital City      New York Mets   South Atlantic    Low A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Jackson     3    0.00 4.0    0    0    3    4    2    0    0    0    0

Injury reports from the minor leagues are hard to come by, but from what I can tell, Jackson's problems seem to be persisting, which is a shame since he's looked great when he's pitched the last couple of years.

Polk, Scott         Capital City      New York Mets   South Atlantic    Low A
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Polk        40   2.48 69.0   28   19   95   49   40   4    7    2    5

With relatively low expectations, Polk turned in a really nice year here. I mean, it's middle relief in Low A ball, but a 2.48 ERA is a 2.48 ERA. The number of unearned runs may be a potential problem or could just be a sign of bad defense behind him. I'd expect him to at least move up to High A next year.

Rath, Gary (1)      Trenton           Boston          Eastern           AA
Rath, Gary (2)      Tucson            Arizona         Pacific Coast     AAA
Rath, Gary (3)      Long Island                       Atlantic          Indy
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Rath(1)     9    7.36 11.0   11   9    9    13   6    1    0    1    0
Rath(2)     11   10.6 9.1    12   11   8    16   10   2    0    0    0
Rath(3)     21   4.78 90.1   60   48   78   97   43   10   4    4    0

Every time I'm ever tempted to underestimate how strong the appeal of the game is, I'm going to pull out those three team lines from Rath's year and look at them. For whatever reason -- organizational ineptitude, bad timing, lack of taking advantage of opportunities -- Rath's career has never reached the point that it should have. But, instead of hanging them up after failing to catch on in middle relief for two different teams, he went to the Atlantic League, an independent outfit full of players trying to make it after they've been told they couldn't. Playing baseball on a minor league salary in the New York metro area can't be fun financially, but you've got to admire the effort.

Reinike, Chris (1)  Columbus          Cleveland       South Atlantic    Low A
Reinike, Chris (2)  Kinston           Cleveland       Carolina          High A
Reinike, Chris (3)  Akron             Cleveland       Eastern           AA
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Reinike(1)  7    1.59 11.1   2    2    19   6    4    0    0    0    0
Reinike(2)  11   2.18 20.2   7    5    25   13   8    0    0    1    0
Reinike(3)  1    4.50 2.0    1    1    3    1    2    0    0    0    0

Reinike started the year injured and then worked his way up the ladder as the year went on. The High A stint is the most interesting, since that's closest to his natural stage of progression at this point (without the injury problems, I would have expected him to either go to AA or spend another year in High A this year, so he's not badly off track). Nice numbers, albeit in middle relief; it'll be interesting to see whether they bump him up to AA and keep him in relief or keep him in High A ball and try to get him re-established as a starter (or some mixture of the two, of course). The strikeout numbers are especially encouraging.

Thoms, Hank         St. Paul                          Northern          Indy
            G    ERA  IP     R    ER   SO   H    BB   HR   W    L    SV
Thoms       18   4.12 102.   59   47   77   110  55   3    6    7    0

Well, he got to pitch 102 innings and got paid for it, at least some amount, so there are worse lives to have. There's nothing here that's going to catch the eye of a big league team, so his future plans are up to him; he can probably keep pitching in the Northern League if he wants to.

Chapman, Travis (1) GCL Phillies      Philadelphia    Gulf Coast        Rookie
Chapman, Travis (2) Batavia           Philadelphia    New York-Penn     SS A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Chapman(1)  9    .308 .344 .188 32   6    4    3    1    0    0    1    3
Chapman(2)  49   .379 .414 .316 174  55   12   10   2    1    0    1    23

It's always hard to judge offensive numbers in the context of players who are just learning to hit with wood bats; the short-season leagues always look to have depressed offensive numbers because of that, for the most part, along with the fact that the hitters don't really have time to learn any of the pitchers' tendencies.

In that light, these are pretty good numbers. The .316 batting average flirted with the league leader list, although he ended up without having enough at bats to qualify. The power numbers will improve over time. The only really worrisome part is that his walk numbers were down from where they should be; plate discipline is a skill that's usually unrelated to the type of bat.

Curry, Chris (1)    Daytona           Chicago Cubs    Florida State     High A
Curry, Chris (2)    Lansing           Chicago Cubs    Midwest           Low A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Curry(1)    20   .219 .153 .153 59   9    4    0    0    0    0    0    5
Curry(2)    48   .276 .382 .206 131  27   12   3    1    6    0    0    17

The midseason demotion wasn't actually that bad a thing, as it increased his playing time considerably, and he had been a bit overmatched by the jump to High A. Curry is apparently considered an excellent defensive catcher within the Cubs organization, which makes his future hard to predict. I'd expect him to get another shot next year, anyway.

Kelly, Shane        Charleston, SC    Tampa Bay       South Atlantic    Low A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Kelly       8    .167 .115 .115 26   3    2    0    0    0    1    0    2

Shane Kelly signed as a free agent, played two weeks in a league that was at least a year over his head, and then apparently hung it up in a mutual decision with the team. Whether he'll take another shot at it next year remains to be seen, of course, but I'm glad he got that brief chance, anyway.

Lotterhos, Chris(1) Mahoning Valley   Cleveland       New York-Penn     SS A
Lotterhos, Chris(2) South Bend        Arizona         Midwest           Low A
Lotterhos, Chris(3) Richmond                          Frontier          Indy
Lotterhos, Chris(4) Louisville        Cincinnati      International     AAA
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Lotterhos1  5    .350 .250 .188 16   3    3    1    0    0    0    0    2
Lotterhos2  3    .111 .222 .111 9    1    0    1    0    0    0    0    0
Lotterhos3  17   .333 .309 .218 55   12   10   3    1    0    2    2    4
Lotterhos4  3    .462 .667 .417 12   5    1    0    0    1    0    0    3

This was, to put it mildly, a strange year. Lotterhos went through three teams at various levels without really hitting a lick, but he never really got a chance at any of them; the three combined total fewer than 100 plate appearances, and most of those were in the Frontier League. He had, from what I understand, assumed that he was through for the year and might not get another shot, when he got a call from the Reds' organization, who had been left in desparate straits by one of those late-season roster moves and were in need of a warm body with middle infield experience to play three games at second. After thinking about it for, I'm sure, at least a microsecond, he reported to the Louisville club and proceeded to knock the cover off the ball. He'll most likely get a spring training invitation out of this; with his injury problems hopefully behind them, there's no telling how the story will come out now.

Martin, Ty (1)      Pulaski           Texas           Appalachian       Rookie
Martin, Ty (2)      Charlotte         Texas           Florida State     High A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Martin(1)   53   .369 .419 .283 191  54   28   13   2    3    14   2    43
Martin(2)   6    .318 .167 .167 18   3    4    0    0    0    0    0    2

It's hard to get a great read here, because he started off a little lower than he should have and ended with a few games a little higher than he should have, but he did get that end of year promotion, and he'll definitely get a shot at A ball next year.

McGrath, Ryan       Auburn            Houston         New York-Penn     SS A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
McGrath     37   .371 .321 .274 106  29   12   5    0    0    6    2    13

He didn't get as much playing time as you would like, but the numbers are bearable and the walk rate is great, so I'd expect him to get a chance to develop some more power over the next couple of years.

Rock, Jamie         Portland          Colorado        Northwest         SS A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Rock        57   .317 .344 .254 209  53   16   14   1    1    7    2    33

Rock started off the year like the offensive breakout of the Class of 2000, but he tailed off badly the latter part of the year. That may well have been a sign of fatigue -- he played a bunch of games for MSU this year, and it's not unusual for players to wear out around mid-August or so of that short season -- or it could be something a bit more worrisome.

Shave, John         Oklahoma          Texas           Pacific Coast     AAA
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Shave       131  .360 .410 .290 510  148  40   21   5    10   12   5    85

This wasn't how anyone intended things to go; I suspect Shave went to AAA expecting to be back in Dallas by June, and I've heard that that was the original organizational intent, but when things fell apart at the major league level, a lot of plans got shuffled. .770 by a middle infielder is respectable, especially since Oklahoma is one of the lower-offense parks in the PCL. I imagine he'll get to stick around the minors another year or two if he wants; after all the struggles, I can't imagine him giving up just yet. The Rangers left him off the 40-man roster, which just means that they wouldn't mind him going elsewhere if someone wants him.

Wiese, Brian *      Sarasota          Boston          Florida State     High A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Wiese       50   .365 .461 .279 165  46   20   7    1    7    8    4    28

This looks pretty good right up to the asterisk. For a 1B/DH type, those are acceptable numbers in the FSL, certainly deserving of continued consideration. The only worrisome part is the season ending after 50 games, which may leave him in High A again next year. The Red Sox are not exactly loaded with big offensive prospects at the moment, but he hasn't done anything just yet to break out of the pack.

Wren, Cliff         Vero Beach        Los Angeles     Florida State     High A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Wren        98   .285 .346 .247 356  88   16   11   3    6    4    0    45

On the one hand, he kind of skipped a step to get here; by age and development time, Wren could have reasonably been in Low A this year. On the other hand, a .631 OPS probably isn't going to move you up too fast.

Wright, Daron       Batavia           Philadelphia    New York-Penn     SS A
            G    OBP  SLG  AVG  AB   H    BB   2B   3B   HR   SB   CS   R
Wright      7    .261 .150 .150 20   3    2    0    0    0    2    0    0

It was something of a surprise when he managed to land a free agent contract, so it's probably not too surprising that he didn't really manage to get enough playing time to make an impression. I wouldn't expect to see him playing again, but at this time last year I would have been surprised to see Chris Lotterhos play again, so I'm trying to learn.

Boyd's World-> The Old Dogs Report-> 2000 Year in Review About the author, Boyd Nation