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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.
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