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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Wave of PG Alumni reach MLB

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game

With the end of the minor league seasons in early September and the expanding of big league roster limits to 40 players, there is always a flurry of call ups this time of year. With a number of players making their Major League debuts, there is always healthy number of former Perfect Game participants being added the list of PG alums who have played Major League Baseball.

That list now stands at 340 total players, with at least 61 having made their debuts this year.

A number of top prospects/PG Alumni were called up earlier this summer, including such players as OF Mike Trout (Angels), RHP Jacob Turner (Tigers), 2B Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays), RHP Blake Beavan, 3B Kyle Seager (Mariners), LHP Wade Miley and 1B Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks).

But just in the past 10 days, at least 25 Perfect Game alumni have been called up to the Major Leagues for the first time. Here’s a quick look at who they are and where they come from.

RHP Dylan Axelrod (White Sox/30th round, 2007, UC-Irvine): Axelrod has shown outstanding command all through the minors and went 9-3, 2.69 in 150 IP, with 132 K’s and only 35 walks in AAA. He could be summarized as a prototypical UC Irvine Anteater pitcher.

OF Joe Benson (Twins/2
nd round, 2006, Joliet Catholic HS, IL): Debuted on Tuesday after a .284-16-67/.879 OPS season while repeating in AA. Benson has impressive physical tools but one should be a bit worried about his going from 27 home runs in 2010 to 16 while repeating the same level.

RHP Brad Brach (Padres/42
nd round, 2008, Monmouth): Brach was an underachiever in college but has been anything but as a pro. The 25 year old has saved 75 games over the last two minor league seasons, including 34 this year between AA and AAA.

OF Corey Brown (Nationals/1
st round comp by Oakland, 2007, Oklahoma State): Brown was called up and made his debut Tuesday after what ironically was by far his worst professional season; .238-14-39/.727 OPS at AAA.

RHP Andrew Carignan (A’s/5
th round, 2007, U. North Carolina): Injuries have restricted the hard throwing Carignan to 102 profession innings before his call up, including 39 this year (1-0, 8 SV, 1.85). He was a primary catcher out of high school in Connecticut , so his time on the mound has been really limited. He did top out at 93 mph at the 2003 PG Northeast Top Prospect Showcase.

OF Adron Chambers (Cardinals/38
th round, 2007, Pensacola JC): The left handed hitting Chambers debuted Tuesday after hitting .277-10-44/.783 OPS/22 SB’s in AAA. He looks like a reserve outfielder with some speed.

RHP Danny Farquhar (Blue Jays/10
th round, 2008, Louisiana-Lafayette): Farquhar has racked up 54 saves over the past three minor league seasons, including 14 in AAA this year (4-5, 4.70). He had a sterling career as a starter in college but is a sub-6’ right hander, so his move to the bullpen was pretty standard procedure.

C Tim Federowicz (Dodgers/7
th round, 2008 by Boston, U. North Carolina): Talk about first impressions; Federowicz hit .325-6-17/1.058 OPS after being acquired in a three-way trade with Boston and Seattle at the trading deadline on July 31.

2B/3B Taylor Green (Brewers, 25
th round, 2005, signed the following spring as a draft and follow): A Canadian, Green has been dogged by injuries in his minor league career but has always been able to hit, which he did to a tune of .336-22-91/.993 in AA and AAA this summer.

RHP Jared Hughes (Pirates/4th round, 2006, Long Beach State): Hughes had been a starter since his debut in 2006 but blossomed in 2011 when he was promoted to AAA after three years in AA and moved to the bullpen. He went 3-1, 2.11 with 45 K’s in 42 innings after the switch. PG’s ranking comment on Hughes in 2002 said: Consistent low to mid 90s, up to 95-96. Good breaking ball. Looks like a big league pitcher! It just took him 10 years to go from looking to being.

RHP Corey Kluber (Indians/4
th round, 2007 by San Diego, Stetson): Debuted September 1 after a 7-11, 5.56 season at AAA that did feature 143 K’s in 150 innings. The Texas native appears to be more of a fill guy at this point.

LHP Jeff Locke (Pirates/2
nd round, 2006 by Atlanta out of Kennett HS, NH): Locke was part of the Nate McLouth trade last year and looks to have solid back half of the rotation potential (8-10, 3.72, 153 IP/139 K’s in AA/AAA). Locke was an unknown rising junior from New Hampshire when he exploded onto the prospect map as a rising junior when he threw 91-93 at the 2004 WWBA 17U Championships for Farrah’s Builders.

IF Steve Lombardozzi (Nationals/19
th round, 2008, St. Petersburg JC): Lombardozzi has made a rapid climb up the Nationals minor league ladder after signing in the 19th round only 3 years ago. He hit .309-8-52 with 30 steals in the minors. Here’s a PG report written on Lombardozzi before his senior year in high school:

Son of the former ML second baseman, there are plenty of resemblances. Bat is his best tool, has a simple line drive approach and stays on the ball a long time. High average approach but he doesn’t project much power. Hits to all fields and will fight off tough pitches. Limited to second base defensively, has a quick release and good feet but his arm is short for the left side of the infield. Betting he is an over-achiever type like his dad, can play the game.

C Martin Maldonado (Brewers/27th round, 2004 by the Angels, Naguabo, Puerto Rico): A defensive specialist, Maldonado hit .287-11-59/.809 OPS this year, the first year in his eight year minor league career he has put up respectable offensive numbers.

1B Chris Marrero (Nationals/1
st round, 2006, Monsignor Pace HS, FL): Marrero was an Aflac All American as a third baseman and has taken a slow but steady climb through the Nationals system. He compares roughly with Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez, also a Miami native, and is the cousin of top 2012 prospect Devin Marrero (Arizona State).

C Devin Mesoraco (Reds/1
st round, 2007, Punxsutawney HS, PA): Mesoraco made his debut after a .289-15-71/.855 OPS season in AA. He’s a good lesson for young top prospects. He had 2 ½ very mediocre seasons in the lower minors, blossomed in 2010 and reached the Majors in his 5th season. He dealt with failure and had patience and kept working hard. Young “stars” should expect the same.

1B Efren Navarro (Angels/50
th round, 2007, UNLV): Only 3 players were picked after Navarro in the 2007 draft, so reaching the big leagues is an especially impressive feat. He hit .317-12-73/.856 in AAA, the only year in his career he’s ever hit with any real power.

C-3B Jordan Pacheco (Rockies/9
th round, 2007, U. New Mexico): Pacheco ironically made his debut as a third baseman even though he had only played 5 games at that position since his first year in the minors. He was a second baseman in college before converting to catcher as a professional. So much for developing a player at the position he’ll play in the big leagues.

1B Chris Parmelee (Twins/1
st round, 2006, Chino Hills HS, CA): Another Aflac All American who was drafted only 5 picks after Marrero in the 2006 first round, Parmelee has been consistent in the minors but has never hit for the power he projected out of high school. His 2011 season in AA (.287-13-83/.801 OPS) ranks as one of his best efforts.

RHP Brad Peacock (Nationals/41
st round, 2006, Palm Beach Central HS, FL): Peacock had one of the most notable performances of any minor league pitcher in baseball this year; 15-3, 2.39 with 177 K’s and only 98 hits allowed in 146 innings pitched. He was a 5-11/160 primary shortstop in high school who topped out at 84 mph in Jupiter in 2005 playing for Hammertime.

RHP Addison Reed (White Sox/ 3
rd round, 2010, San Diego State): Getting drafted by the White Sox is one of the best ways to get to the big leagues quickly, it seems, as he is the organization’s second pitcher from the 2010 draft to make the move, joining 1st round LHP Chris Sale. But Reed deserves it, he plowed through all 4 full season levels over the past 5 months (2-1, 1.26, 78 IP/43H/14 BB/113 K’s).

IF Josh Satin (Mets/6
th round, 2008, California): Satin has hit at every level of the minors and hit .323-12-76/.903 this year at AA/AAA. It’s reasonable to assume he’s going to continue to hit. Interestingly, Satin was a player in college who tore it up in the Cape Cod using wood bats but never hit as well as expected using metal during the spring.

RHP Chris Schwinden (Mets/22
nd round, 2008, Fresno Pacific U.): I confess to not recognizing the 24 year old’s name before yesterday. His 8-8, 3.87 148 IP/139 K performance in AAA this year is very consistent with his previous efforts. He is the first player in Fresno Pacific history to reach the big leagues, understandable since the NAIA program has only been in existence for six years.

OF Nate Spears (Boston/5
th round, 2003 by the Orioles out of Charlotte HS, FL): Spears is a 26 year old minor league veteran who hit only .248-8-45 in AAA this year, so he’s well past prospect status but he can provide a versatile extra body on the Red Sox bench when a starter needs resting before the playoffs.

LHP Eric Surkamp (Giants/6
th round, 2008, North Carolina State): Surkamp dominated AA ball this summer, striking out 170 hitters in 148 innings (11-4, 1.94) and has already picked up his first big league win.

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