If you’re like me and you set Yahoo! as your browser’s homepage, you’ve probably noticed a feature they have known as Buzz Index, or some such play on the word Buzz. It’s basically a measure on what people are entering into their search engine most frequently. You might see the Fab Five up there one day (editor’s note: frequent commenter Nate looks just like the blonde one) or Paris Hilton the next.
Luckily, WordPress allows me to see how a few dozen people use search engines to stumble upon OTT every day. I’ve gotten everything from ‘Rachel Phelps cardboard cutout’ to ‘Windy City Heat DVD’ to, and I’m not making this up, ‘Peter Angelos naked’. Lately, though, Chris Vinyard’s name has been cropping up in search boxes at an alarming frequency (not to mention in a few reader emails), so I figured this was as good of a time as any to catch you up on him and a few other of his short season cronies.
The 20 year old Vinyard was drafted as a catcher with the 1143rd pick in the 38th round of the 2005 draft. Originally planned as a draft and follow pick, he put up some daunting offensive numbers at Chandler-Gilbert JuCo. He was confined to first base and will continue there as an Aberdeen Ironbird. I have yet to see him in person, but all reports are that he is a liability just about anywhere in the field. At bat, however, is a different proposition entirely. He’s reported to have plus offensive skills across the board, including easy power to all fields, and has put it to use in his first 32 professional at bats (.406/.486/.750). I’ll be attending Sunday’s game, with Patrick over at Pinstripes Plus and some pretty handy press credentials, and I’ll be sure to keep you up to date on the O’s new buzz machine.
Here are a few other notable draftees and some very early returns on their short-season jaunts:
Brandon Snyder, C (2005 draft, 1st Rd.): .250/.282/.333
Daniel Figueroa, OF (2005, 43): .205/.279/.231
Jedidiah Stephens, SS (2006, 8 ): .129/.129/.290
Paul Winterling, OF (2005, Undrafted FA): .000/.231/.000 (*McDonogh/Hopkins grad*)
Michael Pierce, C (2006, 28): 0 for 1
Miguel Abreu, 2B (2005, 28): .296/.296/.444
Ryan Stadanlick, RHP (2005, 10): 2 ip, 3 K, 1 BB, 9.00 ERA
Tag Horner, LHP (2005, 41): 3.7 ip, 2 K, 3 BB, 2.18 ERA
Josh Tamba, RHP (2006, 7): 8.3 ip, 5 K, 3 BB, 0.00 ERA
Kieron Pope, OF (2005, 4): .421/.500/.684
Bobby Henson, SS (2006, 5): .273/.467/.364
Paul Chmiel, 1B (2005, 22): .000/.235/.000
Brian Bent, C (2005, 44): 0 for 1
Justin Johnson, C (2006, 16): .273/.385/.455
Aubrey Miller, RHP (2006, 23): 2.7, 1 K, 2 BB, 3.38 ERA
Joshua Faiola, RHP (2006, 24): 1.1 ip, 3 K, 0 BB, 0.00 ERA
Zachary Jevne, RHP (2006, 27): 7.0 ip, 10 K, 3 BB, 5.14 ERA
Be sure to take these stats with a heaping grain of salt, Aberdeen has played 9 games and Bluefield just 6. So don’t get worked up about Abreu’s apparent lack of plate discipline and the like. Also keep in mind that, in the case of pitchers, the demonstrated ability to miss bats at this level is a much better predictor of future success than ERA. Nevertheless, it’s good to see the early returns on late draft picks like Jevne and Faiola, even if their success is tempered by the fact that they are both college products.
I think the most encouraging signs from these early numbers is the hot start of Kieron Pope. He was drafted as a raw high school kid with a major league body and he lived up to that billing with a tough showing at Bluefield last year (including 62 K’s in 41 G’s). He’ll be confined to left field, but a good offensive start is certainly better than a bad one.
Further Minor League Notes
Thursday night was the best night of pitching the O’s farm system has seen in a long time. While Lopez-to-Lopez had a decent but unspectacular showing against Ryan Madson and the Phillies, every stop from Delmarva to Ottawa saw performances good enough to transcend my Notable Performances widget in the upper-right hand corner.
Adam Loewen (AAA): 7 ip, 7 K, 2 BB, 2H, 0 R
A couple more performances like that and Russ Ortiz’s imminent implosion won;t be so hard to take
Garrett Olson (AA): 6 ip, 4 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 2R
A solid follow-up to his less than inspiring AA debut
Luis Ramirez (HiA): 6 ip, 7 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 2 R
So what if he can’t throw much harder than I can? He has done nothing but miss bats as a pro
Brandon Erbe (LoA): 5.0 ip, 7 K, 0 BB, 1 H, 0 R
At just 18 years old, he is proving too great a match for his older competition
One Last Note(…s)
Tonight’s pitching matchup was every bit as interesting as I had anticipated. On one side, there was a young fireballer who, thanks to some prospect-rushing tendencies of his parent club, has seen limited success to go with his seemingly unlimited potential. On the other side was a young pitcher who has seen nothing but success but, thanks to availability of minor league batted ball data, had received limited hype. True to their reputations, Cabrera struck out 7 while expending 102 pitches to get through just 5 innings. Chuck James, on the other hand, succeeded in recording a quality start, despite giving up 2 home runs and an unsettling 2-11 groundout:flyout ratio.
Also, Nick Markakis has officially joined in on the full-scale effort to make me look like an idiot. He was 3 for 3 with a walk. I find it very interesting that his recent success has come at a time when the O’s are facing an inordinate amount of young hurlers, though I’m not sure what, if anything, to make of it yet. Any theories?
Finally, OTT is entering a transition phase. Soon, I will be joining the ultra-cool Scout.com network. It’s been a blast typing away about whatever is on my mind these past several months and an even bigger thrill to see that some folks out there are listening. Scout.com, however, will afford me a ton of great opportunities even as it confines my content to the world of prospectdom (hence the empty Top Prospects page). As a part of the vast FoxSports network, I’ll get unparalled access to all of the different minor league clubs, players, coaches and lots of other cool goodies. Plus, I’ll actually be getting paid for the countless hours I study, think, and write about baseball. Unfortunately, this will soon mean an end to OTT as we know it, but be assured that the new site is going to be much much better. Dave Sanford, of Royals Corner, had a great post concerning his recent departure for Scout.com and I doubt I could sum up my thoughts any better.
The transition isn’t exactly imminent and I will continue posting here for the time being, but I arbitrarily decided that today was the day to share the good news.