Minor Transactions And Transgressions

Minor Transactions chosen for discussion

P Jeff Niemann of the Devil Rays was assigned to Double-A Montgomery

Quon on Niemann prior to the 2005 season
“I wouldn’t think he’s anywhere near ready for the majors in 2005, but his upside, while risky, is enormous. Recently signed, the fourth overall pick in 2004 from Rice has potential for stardom, although it’s in a rawer package than Mark Prior coming out of college, and has the injury-prone tag already attached.”

Quon on Niemann a year later
Ignoring the poor language skills of the previous author, I don’t disagree going forward. The injury-tag notation became prophetic as he did go down with shoulder complications resulting in arthroscopic surgery at the beginning of this year. I wouldn’t imagine we’ll see him on the mound at full strength until early-to-mid June, and I’ll take a wait-and-see approach on any long-term health prognostication. I still think he had the best upside from that pitching-rich draft class with awesome stuff and great feel. The scouting note of interest is his good body control, important because pitchers this big (6-9, 260) often take longer to develop, and I suspect his best will not be seen until he’s been a major leaguer for a few seasons.

P Adam Loewen of the Orioles was assigned to the team’s minor league camp
I really like what I saw from Loewen in the WBC matchup against the U.S.; love the stuff, hate the pitching motion. The Canadian first-rounder from 2002 has been erratic in his minor league career and 2005 was no exception. He should wind up at Double-A this year looking for more consistency and improvements in his secondary pitches (And perhaps some work on mechanics in the authors opinion). Despite the enigmatic results, he’s still a prospect of note, capable of a stellar career if he can get past the above issues.

Transgressions
I like to draw a parallel to my perceived “expert” status as a fantasy player to the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies, both of whom are at present big league ball clubs by definition only. Quon’s demise as a fantasy player came because of a lack of time brought on by economic factors — too many leagues combined with a need to feed my family — and the clubs in question fall the same way, who by coincidence were expansion teams together in 1993.
The Rockies’ position players are comprised of one All-Star in Todd Helton, up and comer Matt Holiday, and a couple of promising young sophomores. The remainder of the cast is a group of Triple-A plus types who probably wouldn’t make any of the 28 remaining squads. Their minor league system is thin at the near-ready stage, but have a strong collection of youthful guys coming later on. The only intriguing guy on the near horizon is Jeff Baker, if he can stay healthy and successfully make the transition from thirdbase to the outfield.
The Marlins have won two World Series Championships under two different owners, gutted by epic proportions and rebuilt both times. This version is the worst ever, although it is preferable to the Rockies. Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are both young studs, and Jeremy Hermida looks like an early ROY fav. They’ve got top prospect Hanley Ramirez penciled in (probably a year too early), some intriguing young pitchers who are likely to fail due to inexperience, and a few inexperienced positional players who could turn into decent-to-mediocre ball payers in the long run. Their system is better than the Rockies in the near-ready category, but it’s going to be a tough year.

It’s sad that a handful of teams come into the season with no hope every year, but I can’t think of a year when there were two teams this undermanned and under-experienced.

Dan Quon

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