February | 2012 | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Articles from February 2012

Spring Training Prospect Invitations: Miami Marlins


As Spring Training rapidly approaches and speculation surrounding the future of baseball’s brightest prospects spreads like wildfire, The Golden Sombrero will highlight some of the notable and intriguing Spring Training invitees from each organization.

Kyle Skipworth, C:  Selected 6th overall by the Marlins in the 2008 draft, it’s hard not be optimistic about a 6-foot-4, left-handed hitting catcher.  After posting disappointing numbers in his first two professional seasons, Skipworth took a step in the right direction in 2010 as he slashed .249/.312/.426 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI in 397 at-bats.  However, he struck out 132 times compared to only 32 walks – a trend that intensified in Double-A in 2011.  Playing for Jacksonville of the Southern League, Skipworth fanned 143 times and coaxed just 34 walks in 396 at-bats and saw his slash line drop to .207/.273/.331.  Despite throwing out 23% of basestealers in 2011, he possesses sufficient arm strength and his game-calling abilities continue to improve.  Skipworth will likely repeat Double-A in 2012, which will be a make-or-break year for the former first-rounder.

Kevin Mattison*, OF:  Mattison enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2011 for Double-A Jacksonville, slashing .260/.353/.406 with 17 doubles, 16 triples, eight home runs, and 38 stolen bases.  As one can infer from his stats, his best tool is his speed, which grades out as a legitimate double-plus and makes him an above-average defender in center.  Like Skipworth, though, the left-handed hitting Mattison strikes out too much (127 times in 503 at-bats in 2011) and hits too many flyouts.  And although he possesses tremendous speed he is far from a polished basestealer, as he was gunned down 16 times in 54 attempts last season.  But after raking (.349) in the Arizona Fall League, Mattison was added to the Marlins’ 40-man roster and could potentially serve as the team’s fourth outfielder at some point during the 2012 season.  A 28th round selection out of UNC Asheville in 2008, Mattison is entering his age 26 season.

Kyle Jensen, OF: Jensen was named the Class A Florida State League MVP in 2011 after posting slashes of .309/.385/.535 with 20 doubles, 22 home runs and 66 RBI in 391 at-bats while playing for Jupiter.  His performance garnered a late-season promotion to Double-A Jacksonville where he posted a .785 OPS with five bombs in 80 at-bats.  At 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Jensen has a lot of power and isn’t afraid to cut it loose.  So the fact that he showed a more patient approach last season as well as an ability to drive the ball to all fields is encouraging. Like Ricky Henderson, Cody Ross, and Ryan Ludwick, Jensen hits right-handed but throws with his left.  If he turns in a strong performance at Double-A – and possibly Triple-A, too – Jenson’s stock could rise over the course of the 2012 season.

*On team’s 40-man roster

Spring Training Prospect Invitations: Atlanta Braves

As Spring Training rapidly approaches and speculation surrounding the future of baseball’s brightest prospects spreads like wildfire, The Golden Sombrero will highlight some of the notable Spring Training invitees from each organization.

Joe Terdoslavich, 1B:  The 6-foot-1 switch-hitter had a monster season for High-A Lynchburg in 2011 as he batted .286 with 52 doubles, 20 home runs, and 82 RBI in 536 plate-appearances.  Although he slugged .526 and tallied 254 total bases, Terdoslavich fanned 107 times compared to only 41 walks – a ratio that could worsen if he seemingly begins the year in Double-A.  Entering his age 23 season, he is blocked at first base by Freddie Freeman, but that’s fine.  He has plenty of work left to do in the Minor Leagues.  Best-case scenario: A switch-hitting bat off the bench once the rosters expand in September.

Sean Gilmartin, LHP: Selected by the Braves as the 28th selection in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, Gilmartin logged 23.1 innings after signing, most of which was for Rome in the Sally.  There he posted a 2.53 ERA while striking out 30 and walking only two – he did yield three home runs, though.  The left-hander is a polished collegiate pitcher with an 88-92 mph fastball and plus changeup.  He’ll likely begin the year in Double-A, but given his pitchability, athleticism and experience, Gilmartin could make his MLB debut towards the end of the 2012 season if the conditions (injuries and/or playoff status) are right.  However, he’s towards the back of a long line of Braves pitching prospects.

Julio Teheran*, RHP: Ranked by The Golden Sombrero as the No. 6 prospect in baseball headed into the 2012 season, Teheran really has nothing left to prove in the minors.  Prior to an unimpressive late-season call-up, Teheran was dominant at Triple-A: 15-3, 2.55 ERA, 122 strikeouts, and 48 walks over 144.2 innings.  Although he features four pitches, his fastball and change up are his only plus pitches and it showed in his five MLB appearances.  Unfortunately for Teheran, there’s no current spot for him.  But if the always-fragile Braves’ rotation were to sustain an injury or trade some of their other pitching prospects, he will undoubtedly be recalled.  Teheran has one of the highest ceilings of all pitching prospects.

Tyler Pastornicky*, SS: Pastornicky does nothing exceptionally well on the baseball field, except for possibly his defense, but is sound in facets of the game.  Splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, the right-handed hitter slashed .314/.359/.414 with 27 extra-base hits and 27 stolen bases.  His bat doesn’t have much pop, but he finds a way to put the ball in play and collects his fair share of knocks.  With a gaping hole at shortstop for the Braves, Pastornicky is the best in-house option, and the re-signing of Jack Wilson to mentor the 22-year-old indicates that he should be their guy on Opening Day.

Andrelton Simmons, SS: Even though Pastornicky will likely get the nod as the Braves’ Opening Day shortstop, Andrelton Simmons is their future.  Widely considered to be big-league ready defensively, Simmons took a step forward at the plate in 2011 by slashing .311/.351/.408 with 35 doubles and six triples over 570 plate-appearances.  Like Pastornicky, Simmons makes a lot of contact, as reflected by his 43 strikeouts and 29 walks.  However, he is also 22-years-old and only left the yard once last year – he homered twice in 2010.  Furthermore, Simmons will need to improve his ability as a basestealer after getting nabbed 18 times in 44 attempts last season.  He should begin the season in Double-A and play well enough for the Braves to question their use of Pastornicky at shortstop, but a full year at Double-A will be crucial towards his development.

*On team’s 40-man roster

The Baseball Show: Hamilton, Memoribilia, Mickey Mantle Racing Limousines and more!

Business is about to pick up in the sport of baseball, and business picked up last night on The Baseball Show, Clint Evans of Diamond Hoggers and M.J. Lloyd of Off-Base Percentage and Halo Hangout discussed the following with me:

-The latest chapter in the Josh Hamilton relapse saga

-M.J. tells a Mickey Mantle story about racing a limousine

-We talk memorabilia, baseball cards, collectibles (who remembers Fleer Ultra?)

-PECOTA Projections, top 5 in each league, Gordon Beckham, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce, etc.

-Top Prospects List

As we always do, we cover a variety of subjects in between the main melody line. Another great installment of The Baseball Show awaits you.

Sombrero’s Unsell acquired by NBL’s Herts Baseball Club

Via the Confederation of European Baseball:

This evening Herts Baseball Club confirmed the acquisition of pitcher and infielder, Robbie Unsell, from the Richmond Flames. This is arguably the biggest player transaction so far this winter in the National Baseball League (NBL).

The 25-year-old American who is now based in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, confirmed his decision late last night. He said: “Herts’ home ballpark has been one of my favourite places to play at since joining the League three years ago. The Club has some of the best facilities in Great Britain and fantastic organisation, which makes it a very attractive club to play for.” He added: “I am also really impressed with the club’s marketing efforts and the promotion of baseball in the UK. That’s why the prospect of playing for Herts is exciting for me.”

Herts Falcons Manager, Lee Manning, is also excited to have Unsell in his team: “Robbie would be one of the first players in the starting lineup in any of the NBL teams, so for us this is a major boost. I am looking forward to working with him.’

Unsell makes the move to Hertfordshire as a free agent after spending the last three seasons with the Flames. During that period he has become one of the most valuable players in the NBL picking up a large collection of awards. He is considered one of the best short stops in the country and was given the NBL Short Stop Fielding Award in 2011. Last year he was also added to the Richmond pitching rotation and his performances on the mound were phenomenal. He had the lowest ERA (earned run average) of 0.90 and WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) 0.98. We have to go back to Troy Kantor of the 2008 London Mets (ERA 0.51) and Simon Pole in 2002 with the London Warriors (ERA 0.62) to see the kind of pitching stats which Robbie Unsell had last year. He deservedly received the 2011 NBL Most Valuable Pitcher Award*.

Unsell will also bring a lot to the Herts Falcons offensively. His speed around the bases has caused havoc for opponents over the years winning the Most Stolen Bases title in 2009 (21) and 2010 (23). Last year he led the league in On-Base Average (.589) and in Runs Scored (42) confirming him as one of the most dangerous lead-off men in the country. The arrival of Robbie Unsell in Hertfordshire will open up the opportunity to compare his speed with that of the 2011 MVP for the Herts Falcons, the lightning-fast Sri Lanka National team player, Mahendra Prasad.

Unsell’s time with the Flames proved to be one of the most successful periods in Richmond’s history. They won the NBL title in 2010, runner-up in 2009 and reached the postseason playoffs in 2011. Herts is one of the biggest sleeping giants in British baseball. Will Robbie Unsell’s arrival bring the same kind of success for Herts?

The Falcons have struggled in the last two years in the NBL, however Unsell sees this as an exciting challenge and an opportunity to turn the team around. ‘I honestly think that with a few additions, we can have a real positive impact on the Herts team this year’ he said.

Aspi Dimitrov, President of Herts Baseball Club, explained how significant Robbie Unsell’s arrival is for the club as a whole. He said: ‘Whether it is fans of MLB baseball clubs or Premier League football clubs, new players can bring a lot of excitement in the hope of success on the field of play. However, acquiring players like Robbie means a lot more to our club. It will add value in every department. It enables us to market our club and the game of baseball much better. Members and fans of the club can look forward to seeing the highest quality of baseball at Grovehill Ballpark. Adding such talented players will also inspire the players of the Herts youth teams to emulate them.’

Herts expect to make several other recruitment announcements shortly. Dimitrov added: ‘We are in advanced discussions with more players and we hope that Robbie will be the first of many more players to join Herts this year and for many years to come.’

Grinnell College’s Mike Nodzenski named Preseason First-Team All American

Via Grinnell College Baseball:

Grinnell College catcher Mike Nodzenski ’12 has been named a Preseason First-Team All-American by D3baseball.com.

Nodzenski, from Naperville, Ill. (Naperville North) earned All-America recognition as a junior from both ABCA/Rawlings and D3baseball.com. He claimed spots on the second and third teams, respectively.

Nodzenski is a three-time Midwest Conference South Division Player of the Year and ranked among the national leaders last season in several categories. He was fourth in slugging percentage (.850), fifth in batting average (.465) and on-base percentage (.556) and sixth in home runs (12).

He led the MWC in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, RBI (47) and total bases (91) and was second in on-base percentage and runs scored (38). He established Grinnell school records for RBI and home runs in a career, as well as RBI in a game (nine), home runs in a game (three) and home runs in a season.