The Dodgers have agreed to terms with Dominican shortstop Carlos Aquino, according to DPLBaseball.com. According to the website,
Aquino was eligible in 2012 but lacked the strength and ability he is presently showing. He has smooth fielding actions with solid average arm strength and runs average (6.9 60 yard dash). Aquino is a switch hitting line drive gap hitter with more pop from the left side. The Dodgers and Aquino agree to a contract value of $75,000. The contract is pending MLB approval, he will more than likely start his professional career in the Dominican Summer League.
Medina, who is from Santo Domingo and trained with Amauris Nina, is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and played in the International Prospect League all-star game last week. He showed a projectable frame with good bat speed from the right side, power and the ability to use the opposite field. He most likely projects as a corner outfielder, with a solid arm that could fit in right field.
Medina was one of the youngest players who became eligible to sign in 2012, as he didn’t turn 16 until Aug. 24. Had he been born a little more than a week later, he wouldn’t have been eligible to sign until July 2, 2013.
We found a YouTube clip of Medina taking batting practice at his International Prospect League tryout. Note that his date of birth here is listed as Aug. 12, 1996, 12 days earlier than Badler reported. Given that birthdate is such a sensitive issue in Medina’s case, this is not a minor detail. With or without batting gloves, you have to like this swing:
If you’re Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson — who among us hasn’t had that thought, if not since 1988 — your 2013 lineup just took an interesting turn.
Justin Upton is out. Martin Prado is in. There’s room for Adam Eaton, whose arm and foot speed and ability to hit for average brings the promise of being the team’s everyday center fielder for years to come.
But something’s undeniably missing. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports identifies it toward the end of today’s eye-opening column, which was heavy on quotes from anonymous players slamming the D-Backs’ seven-player trade with the Braves: “Who is the most feared hitter in the Arizona lineup now,” Rosenthal asks. “Prado? [Cody] Ross? Jason Kubel? Miguel Montero? Not good enough.”
I personally feel good for the younger Upton, who’s been the subject of trade rumors on and off for three years — particularly this off-season — without getting a lick of assurance from the Diamondbacks about his future. At least that’s how it seemed publicly.
For Arizona, the 2013 lineup begets more questions than hope. That’s a good thing for the Dodgers, and I’ll explore it in more depth in my next blog post.
The rest of today’s news, still waiting on that Dodgers cable deal …
Jesus Flores is 28 years old and has caught 263 major-league games. That makes him younger and more experienced than the Dodgers’ starter, A.J. Ellis.
The Washington Nationals granted Flores free agency in November and the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training on Tuesday.
Flores figures to compete with Tim Federowicz for the backup job. Considering Federowicz’s lack of experience (10 major-league games), it could make for an interesting competition.
Flores’ career batting numbers aren’t much to look at, though he did hit eight home runs and drive in 59 in only 90 games in 2008. The Venezuela native batted .301 in 2009, when surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right shoulder limited his season to 29 games. Flores hasn’t been the same since.
He didn’t play at all in 2010 and worried whether his career was over. He came back to play 30 games in 2011 and 83 last season, all in a backup role for the Nationals. His slash line since the surgery: .212/.249/.325. Even Flores’ defense seems to have suffered; since the surgery he’s thrown out only 13 of 67 attempted base stealers – 19.4 percent.
Flores is currently playing for Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League.
Baseball America is expected to bestow the St. Louis Cardinals with the mantle of Best System in Baseball, eight years after BA had St. Louis ranked dead-last, 30th among the 30 teams. (BA doesn’t typically announce its rankings until late March/early April, but that article explains what to expect and why.)
Folks who spend more time thinking about prospects than major-league players — you know who you are – tend to forget that organizational rankings are nothing more than opinion polls. Titles such as “top organizational prospect” are opinions, not facts.
But I think there’s some significance to the Cardinals’ turnaround to the Dodgers, who ranked sixth, 23rd, 21st, 11th and 24th the last five years (in order) in BA’s annual list. Last March, BA wrote: “If OF Alfredo Silverio hadn’t had a breakout season in 2011, it would be hard to pinpoint a Los Angeles position prospect with much upside—and he could miss the first two months of the season after an offseason auto accident. [Frank] McCourt hasn’t spent on the draft or the international market, severely weakening the system.”
A small but historic signing today. According to BaseballAmerica.com, the Dodgers have signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Ariel Sandoval for $150,000. Writes Ben Badler:
Sandoval is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and impressed the Dodgers with his potential to hit for both average and power from the right side of the plate. He’s an above-average runner who should begin his career in center field, though he has the arm strength to play right field if he outgrows the position.
Sandoval, who became eligible to sign on July 2, trained in Haina with Jaime Ozuna. Sandoval is the first six-figure international amateur signing for the Dodgers since vice president of international scouting Bob Engle and Latin American coordinator Patrick Guerrero arrived from Seattle after the 2012 season.
Lots of Hall of Fame debate today with the final voting coming tomorrow. As I often say, there’s nothing like parsing through the moral crises of a bunch of cranky sports writers to start your morning off right … Continue reading →
The Dodgers formally announced the signing of left-handed reliever J.P. Howell to a one-year contract worth a reported $2.85 million. Howell fills the role that became vacant when Randy Choate signed a three-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 29-year-old Howell posted a 3.04 ERA in 55 appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, the team he’s pitched for since 2006. Howell missed the entire 2010 season after having shoulder surgery, then came back to pitch 46 games in 2011. Over parts of seven big-league seasons, Howell has held lefties to a .241 batting average and righties to a .248 clip, making him slightly more valuable than the typical left-handed only specialist.
According to FanGraphs.com, Howell is an extreme junkballer. Last year he threw 24 fastballs among 816 total pitches, topping out at 88 mph. Howell relied more on his sinker (which opponents hit to a .267 batting average), slider (.167) and changeup (.250).