Minor Transactions – March 28

White Sox – Reassigned OF Ryan Sweeney to their minor league camp.

My concerns on whether Sweeney can hit for enough power are documented in another blog entry . His spring certainly makes this look unwarranted as he notched 23 total bases including three home runs in 37 at-bats. I’m not one to get too caught up in Spring Training numbers. Remember Jays’ Patrick Lennon a few years ago or even Gabe Gross in 2005?  You don’t remember Patrick Lennon? Point made! We’ll see how this plays out in Triple-A to begin the season. If the power spike were legitimate the combination with his ability as a pure hitter makes him more than very interesting.   

Royals – Reassigned 3B Alex Gordon to their minor league camp.

Reports are this is the expected Double-A Wichita assignment. The second overall pick last year from the college ranks is all that and then some, but lets not get too caught up in his Spring Training campaign like some are reporting. He hit a soft .333 in 42 at-bats with an OBP that exceeded his slugging; badly out-performed at the plate by the likes of Joe McEwing. He wasn’t going to earn a major league job out of camp, nor did his performance warrant it. That being said, he should overtake Mark Teahen without pause by 2007 and become one of the best middle-of-the-order types in baseball by the end of the decade. I warned many to begin 2005 that Teahen would be overmatched by major league pitching and doesn’t profile as the stereotypical corner infield power bat.

Diamondbacks – Optioned SS Stephen Drew, and OF Scott Hairston to their minor camp. Reassigned 3B Brian Barden to their minor league camp.

Drew is obviously a name that’s coming in short order with good reason. Hariston was a good hitting prospect as a second baseman, but he’s not powerful enough to overshadow the issues as an outfield prospect.
I liked Barden’s bat at one point, but his power never emerged and he’ll be 25 next week; a make or break season.

Dodgers – Optioned P Jonathan Broxton to Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League.

I like Broxton as a closer in waiting if there is such a thing, but he’s not ready yet. His two-pitch repertoire is solid, but perhaps too similar. Time spent on development of his change up could really make a difference in his quest to learn how to set up and finish off the better class of hitter.

Phillies-Assigned P Cole Hamels to their minor league camp.

Hamels is to begin the year at high Single-A Clearwater according to MLB.com, in order to start the year in the warmer weather. Durability is the major issue for the 22-year-old as he remains the team’s top pitching prospect, but has missed significant development time. Expect him to move quickly should he put that behind him, as his ceiling is still exceptional.

Padres- Sent 1B Walter Young outright to Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League. Reassigned OF Jack Cust to their minor league camp.

In Young we have a very large, over hyped minor leaguer who’ll probably never amount to much. I’ve insulted a few with that blunt assessment of the 26-year-old ex-Oriole who curiously has the same weight issue as another former Baltimore first base prospect, Calvin Pickering. New name, same problem, same prognosis. Those who hate my assessment can take comfort in the fact that I’m wrong often, as evidenced by Cust, a player I saw in the early part this decade with Triple-A Tucson and thought he could really make something of himself. It’s probably too late for the 27-year-old walk/strikeout machine as he never makes enough contact, and can’t play defense to save his life.

Giants-Optioned P Merkin Valdez to Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League.

My thoughts on Valdez were documented in this Blog earlier. It’s a curious move on the heels of a complete blow-up by closer Armando Benitez. Is Benitez really healthy? It doesn’t appear so but we shall see.


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