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The Old Dogs Report -- 2003 Year in Review
Written November 14, 2003.
The good: Eric Dubose is an honest-to-goodness major leaguer, Carlton Loewer got another shot, and Travis Chapman and Jon Knott hit the mess out of the ball. The bad: Rafael Palmeiro's not quite Rafael Palmeiro any more, Adam Piatt got lost in the shuffle, and Travis Chapman is still stuck in the minors. We'll call it a draw.
The usual disclaimer: These are all guys that I love and respect, but this is the extreme end of the talent curve we're talking about, and there's no shame in being one of the 3000 best in the world at something -- what it takes to make it to high A ball -- instead of being one of the few hundred best that it takes to get to the big leagues. This is as honest and accurate an assessment as I can make.
(*) Currently injured and/or on the disabled list.
(+) Last team, as far as I know.
(-) Released or voluntarily retired.
Dubose, Eric (1) Ottawa Baltimore International AAA Dubose, Eric (2+) Baltimore Baltimore American MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Dubose(1) 19 3.39 114. 49 43 107 112 34 7 9 5 0 Dubose(2) 17 3.79 73.2 33 31 44 60 25 6 3 6 0
This would be why some of the other guys on the list have kept playing, or at least part of the reason. If you do the right things and keep eating your veggies long enough, sometimes it pays off and you get a chance. This year, Dubose was, at least by one reasonable measure of runs above replacement value, the Orioles fourth most valuable starter despite getting only ten starts. There's no reason to think he won't get a full shot at the rotation next year, making him an excellent pickup for an organization that could use one. Despite his somewhat circuitous route to this point, he'll only be 28 next year, so he has a shot at a nice career from this point on.
Ginter, Matt (1+) Charlotte Chicago W Sox International AAA Ginter, Matt (2) Chicago W Sox Chicago W Sox American MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Ginter 49 3.03 68.1 27 23 52 66 22 2 3 5 14 Ginter(2) 3 13.5 3.1 5 5 0 2 1 1 0 0 0
Another year, another chance to ride the Chicago-Charlotte shuttle. At least there are reasonably nice airports at both ends. Unfortunately, Ginter really didn't get much of a shot in the bigs this year, and he's probably hoping for a change of address at this point. He pitched fine in Charlotte for the most part, but it's hard to get noticed in relief, and he's got a nice, shiny AAAA sticker on his forehead by this point. 40-man rosters aren't out yet; it'll be interesting to see if he's on it.
Loewer, Carlton(1+) Portland San Diego Pacific Coast AAA Loewer, Carlton(2) San Diego San Diego National MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Loewer(1) 23 5.40 125. 84 75 57 161 28 9 7 8 0 Loewer(2) 5 6.65 21.2 17 16 11 35 8 3 1 2 0
Although he's a couple of years older and didn't pitch as well this year, it's tempting to see Loewer as being where Dubose was this time last year, since he's at about the same length of time from his injuries. As with Ginter, it'll be interesting to see if he's on the 40-man roster.
Powell, Jay Texas Texas American MLB G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Powell 51 7.82 58.2 58 51 40 75 34 7 3 0 0
Nothing to see here, folks; let's just move along. He had a short spell when he was great and a longer stretch when he was good, and I'd rather remember that. And it's not particularly like he hurt the Rangers team ERA all that much.
Chapman, Travis(1) Scranton Philadelphia International AAA Chapman, Travis(2+) Philadelphia Philadelphia National MLB Chapman, Travis(3) Mesa Desert Dogs Arizona Fall G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Chapman(1) 134 .348 .423 .272 478 130 44 36 0 12 2 2 62 Chapman(2) 1 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Chapman(3) 7 .259 .200 .200 25 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
On the one hand, it's easy to be frustrated with the state of Chapman's career at this point. Using the Baseball Prospectus equivalent average numbers, which adjust for park and league difficulties, he outhit everyone that played third base for the Phillies this year and, although he didn't hit the out-of-position Eric Munson, outhit everyone who played first base for the Tigers. Nonetheless, he still spent their whole season in Scranton and got only one at bat during his major league callup at the end of the year. On the other hand, one is infinitely more than none. This is another guy who would benefit greatly from a change of address. He didn't get enough playing time in the AFL to prove or disprove anything.
Palmeiro, Rafael Texas Texas American MLB G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Palmeiro 154 .359 .508 .260 561 146 84 21 2 38 2 0 92
This is only a bad season if you're a future Hall of Famer coming off a great four-year run. He came in around the middle of the pack in an admittedly downtrodden group of AL DH's. In the process he got his 500th homer, locking up his spot in Cooperstown.
Piatt, Adam (1) Oakland Oakland American MLB Piatt, Adam (2+) Tampa Bay Tampa Bay American MLB G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Piatt 61 .273 .462 .227 132 30 9 13 0 6 1 2 11
Piatt got lost in the playing time shuffle in Oakland and found out the downside of being in an organization that's willing to make tough personnel decisions. He ended up in Tampa Bay, which makes him much less likely to get a World Series ring but improved his playing time and his stats considerably. He's a free agent, as far as I can tell, which should provide some interesting possibilities if there's a club paying attention out there.
Blakeney, Jacob Danville Atlanta Appalachian Rookie G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Blakeney 24 1.24 36.1 6 5 37 25 5 0 3 1 9
College pitchers aren't supposed to go to Rookie leagues, and nobody gets excited about low-minors relievers. That said, it's always better to succeed than to fail, and Blakeney drew a good bit of attention for his performance, so he'll get a chance to try again next year.
Carroll, Ryan (-) Jackson Central Indy G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Carroll 6 4.00 9.0 4 4 11 9 3 1 1 0 0
It's a hobby, and a fun one at that. Cut twice over the course of the year, you get the feeling he just answers the phone when he feels like pitching.
Freed, Mark El Paso Arizona Texas AA G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Freed 67 4.81 63.2 38 34 43 75 37 4 4 3 1
Not as much success this year, at least on the surface, but El Paso's a tough place to pitch in a tough league. He'll get to try again next year.
Hooten, David Midland Oakland Texas AA G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Hooten 39 4.43 111. 59 55 76 122 32 9 7 8 0
Somebody has to pitch long relief in the high minors, and Hooten's spending his late 20's doing just that. It doesn't strike me as a bad life, and there's always the chance that the big club will need a random pitcher for a weekend. His numbers really aren't that bad in context; Midland's a killer for pitchers.
Larson, Adam Kannapolis Chicago W Sox South Atlantic Low A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Larson 39 3.62 74.2 35 30 66 74 13 4 2 4 7
His career path is looking scarily like Matt Ginter's to date, with an even-worse conditioning problem. He's still one pitch short of success.
Maholm, Paul Williamsport Pittsburgh New York-Penn SS A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Maholm 8 1.83 34.1 11 7 32 25 10 1 2 1 0
He did exactly what he was supposed to do -- rest his arm, then show up for a few games and dominate. Next year will be big; there's room for him in the Pirates' rotation for him for at least the next couple of years, and, if he can get off to a great start, he could be there by 2005.
Medders, Brandon(1) El Paso Arizona Texas AA Medders, Brandon(2) Scottsdale Scorpions Arizona Fall G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Medders(1) 56 4.41 69.1 37 34 72 65 26 3 5 3 7 Medders(2) 11 1.46 12.1 3 2 19 7 7 0 0 1 2
Another reliever in the Texas League, although Medders is quite young for the level and has that nice closer smell about him, so he's looking a bit better than the others. I imagine he'll repeat here next year while looking for a chance to move up. He may have helped himself out some with his performance in the AFL.
Papelbon, Jonathan Lowell Boston New York-Penn SS A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Papelbon 13 6.34 32.2 23 23 36 43 9 2 1 2 0
Well, that's not how you want it to go. He was viewed as raw when he was drafted, so he could get another chance, but he didn't impress anyone this year.
Thoms, Hank (1) Joliet Northern Indy Thoms, Hank (2+) Fargo-Moorhead Northern Indy G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Thoms(1) 9 1.99 63.1 19 14 47 58 18 3 3 2 0 Thoms(2) 6 3.02 44.2 15 15 31 32 9 2 3 0 0
He pitched well. On the other hand, even though it's the mostly-respectable Northern League, he's already washed out of affiliated ball once, so I suspect he's just playing for the love of the game and the vague hope of advancement at this point. Kind of a shame, really, since he's put up good numbers every time he's had the chance over the years.
Young, Chris Asheville Colorado South Atlantic Low A G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Young 59 2.73 69.1 26 21 63 59 21 4 3 4 9
He pitched well and got a few saves. I would imagine he'll go to High A next year to start off with a chance to move up from there if he really impresses early.
Brinson, Matt (1) Casper Colorado Pioneer Rookie Brinson, Matt (2+) Tri-City Colorado Northwest SS A G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Brinson(1) 9 .366 .400 .257 35 9 6 2 0 1 0 1 3 Brinson(2) 37 .247 .278 .181 144 26 13 5 0 3 0 0 15
This is not the way you want to start off.
Brown, Michael (-) Alexandria Central Indy G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Brown 18 .253 .403 .222 72 16 3 2 1 3 7 1 15
See Ryan Carroll.
Curry, Chris Norwich San Francisco Eastern AA G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Curry 73 .320 .365 .260 219 57 13 11 0 4 0 0 23
Hey, organizational catchers need love, too. Curry's now seen much of the right half of the country and should aim for a West Coast spot next year if he gets the chance. If not, he really strikes me as someone who would make an excellent coach, so we'll see what his future holds.
Henry, Chad (1) Sioux City Northern Indy Henry, Chad (2+) Joliet Northern Indy G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Henry(1) 7 .310 .130 .130 23 3 6 0 0 0 0 0 2 Henry(2) 79 .373 .398 .313 294 92 26 17 1 2 8 6 38
There's probably a country song about hitting .130 in Sioux City, but I can't hum it off the top of my head. There's no predicting the duration of independent league careers.
Knott, Jon (1) Mobile San Diego Southern AA Knott, Jon (2+) Portland San Diego Pacific Coast AAA Knott, Jon (3) Peoria Saguaros Arizona Fall G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Knott(1) 127 .387 .514 .252 432 109 82 32 0 27 5 3 83 Knott(2) 7 .433 .500 .346 26 9 4 1 0 1 0 0 5 Knott(3) 24 .299 .416 .236 89 21 7 4 0 4 2 3 11
Woo hoo! As always, he's still too old for the league, but by the time you get to AA, that just means you're not a superprospect; if you hit enough, you'll get a chance. He's an outfielder now (all his AFL games were played in the outfield), but he's got a logjam in front of him in San Diego. I think he might get a chance to play in that georgeous new ballpark next year anyway, if he can start the year well in Portland.
Maniscalco, Matthew Charleston, SC Tampa Bay South Atlantic Low A G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Maniscalco 62 .339 .317 .259 205 53 23 10 1 0 9 7 31
They started him off high and he survived, although I suspect he'll repeat the level next year.
Martin, Tyler (-) Frisco Texas Texas AA G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Martin 43 .295 .298 .190 121 23 16 2 1 3 2 1 13
He showed some good stuff for a couple of years in there, but I suspect this is the end of the line, as he was cut in midseason.
Obradovich, Mark Lexington Houston South Atlantic Low A G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Obradovich 84 .320 .295 .218 275 60 39 13 1 2 4 2 28
I'm not sure his defense is good enough to carry this batting average, but catchers seem to last forever, so we'll see.
Willingham, Phil 1- Inland Empire Seattle California High A Willingham, Phil 2+ Richmond Frontier Indy G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Willingham1 11 .290 .321 .214 28 6 3 0 0 1 1 0 3 Willingham2 75 .312 .356 .215 261 56 28 8 1 9 7 2 38
This one's a little disappointing, just because I was hoping after his great year last year, albeit against really bad competition, that he'd get more than 28 at bats to show what he could do.
Wren, Cliff Baton Rouge Southeastern Indy G OBP SLG AVG AB H BB 2B 3B HR SB CS R Wren 58 .327 .383 .291 196 57 10 10 1 2 0 0 17
Hey, if you're already in Baton Rouge, why not play some ball? If you're not, well, that's a tougher call, but it's a tough life to leave.
Rath, Gary Yomiuri Giants Japanese Central League G ERA IP R ER SO H BB HR W L SV Rath 13 4.14 63 40 29 42 79 21 7 3 4 0
Near as I can figure, he wasn't in the rotation for more than about half the year, but his numbers aren't bad (team ERA looks to around 4.50). I have no idea what next year holds.
Players who played or were on a roster in 2002 and not in 2003:
Brock, Tanner GCL Reds Cincinnati Gulf Coast Rookie Reinike, Chris * Kinston Cleveland Carolina High A Wiese, Brian * Sarasota Boston Florida State High A
All three of these guys hung it up after injuries of varying severity, so that's not a bad year on the attrition front.
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