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 Key offseason dates and pitching prospects

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PostSubject: Key offseason dates and pitching prospects   Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:48 am

From the Freep:

This week (Oct. 12-18): Tigers organizational meetings in Lakeland, Fla.

End of October/early November: Free agent filing period, first 15 days after World Series ends.

Nov. 3-6: General managers' meetings in Dana Point, Calif.

Dec. 8-11: Winter meetings in Las Vegas.

Dec. 12: Last day for teams to offer 2009 contracts to unsigned players.

Jan. 19 or 20: Exchange of salary arbitration figures.

Feb. 22: Mandatory reporting date (players in World Baseball Classic have earlier reporting dates).

March 5-23: World Baseball Classic.


Farm hands
These five Tigers pitching prospects have competed in the fall instructional league. Rick Porcello is a right-handed starter and Casey Crosby is a left-handed starter. Ryan Perry, Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt are all right-handed relievers. Here are their 2008 minor league stats:

Player/Team/W-L/ ERA/SO/IP/Saves

Rick Porcello, Lakeland (A) 8-6, 2.66, 72, 125.0, 0
Casey Crosby,Gulf Coast (Rookie) 0-0 ,0.00, 2 4,.2, 0
Ryan Perry, Gulf Coast (Rookie) and Lakeland (A) 1-2, 3.29, 16, 13.2,4
Cody Satterwhite, Gulf Coast (Rookie) and Lakeland (A) 0-0, 3.92, 24, 20.2, 3
Robbie Weinhart, Gulf Coast (Rookie) and Lakeland (A) 3-1, 1.76, 48, 41.0, 4
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PostSubject: Re: Key offseason dates and pitching prospects   Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:44 am

Seems like Rick, Ryan, and Robbie will work out well. So will the others.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Key offseason dates and pitching prospects   Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:28 pm

JON PAUL MOROSI | INSIDE THE TIGERS
Tigers see hope in young hurlers

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • October 12, 2008

When the Tigers hold their organizational meetings in Lakeland, Fla., this week, team officials will get the chance to watch instructional league games.

That should bring a welcome oasis of hope, after weeks spent wondering how the 2008 season went so terribly wrong.

The instructional league is essentially a fall camp for younger prospects. Between 40 and 50 players are invited to Tigertown, and they play almost every day from mid-September through mid-October.


Sometimes they play intrasquad games. Sometimes they compete against prospects from other organizations. Wins matter little. Evaluations matter a lot.

So, what will Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland see on the field over the coming days?

• They will not see star prospect Rick Porcello. The right-hander has returned home to New Jersey after completing his remarkable season with six efficient innings in the instructional league.

At 19, Porcello had the best ERA (2.66) of anyone who threw more than 120 innings in the Florida State League this year. He was the league's No. 1 prospect -- pitcher or position player -- according to Baseball America.

Porcello said in a Friday telephone interview that his time in the instructional league helped him gain confidence with his breaking ball. He thinks he's even better than he was before.

"There were a couple things that maybe needed a little exclamation point after the season," Tigers minor league pitching coordinator Jon Matlack said, "and he was able to accomplish that."


• They will see Casey Crosby, the wunderkind left-hander who in August returned to the mound less than nine months after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery.

Now, his fastball is touching 97 m.p.h. and averaging 95.

"It's unbelievable, how well he's throwing," Porcello said of Crosby. "He's a great guy, one of my better friends down there, and it's good to see that he's coming back strong.

"He's throwing the heck out of the ball, at 96 and 97. His breaking stuff is good, too. It's going to be fun to watch him."

• And they will see Ryan Perry, Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt, the right-handed relievers who leapt from college to high Class A Lakeland this year.

Perry, who can reach triple digits on the radar gun, is the hardest thrower of the group. Satterwhite is next at 97. Weinhardt relies on a two-seam fastball that seems to baffle one batter after another.

By the end of the 2010 season, all three could be in the Tigers' bullpen.

• Now here's a reality check: None of the five pitchers mentioned above has reached Double-A. In fact, none has thrown a professional pitch outside the state of Florida.

Could one or more of them pitch in the majors next season? Yes. Should the Tigers count on that? No.

But at least the organization has begun to rebuild the pitching inventory that it systematically depleted over the past two years.

The Tigers parted with eight pitching prospects in the trades that brought Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. When injuries and underperformance decimated Detroit's staff this year, there weren't any big-league-ready pitchers to summon.

That will change in the years ahead -- as long as Dombrowski resists the temptation to trade the latest wave of prospects.

It's possible that Porcello and the fast-rising Guillermo Moscoso will be in the Tigers' rotation by sometime in the 2010 season. Casey Fien and Rudy Darrow, currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League, may be ready to join the bullpen even earlier than that.

The irony is that the Tigers' young pitchers were the talk of baseball during the 2006 postseason. They had Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman in the rotation, with Andrew Miller and Jair Jurrjens on the way. Joel Zumaya looked like a bona fide closer. Jordan Tata (remember him?) was a late addition to that year's Opening Day roster.

Miller and Jurrjens have since been traded, and the others spent 2008 in varying states of injury or underachievement.

When asked how close the Tigers are to recapturing the pitching depth that was celebrated in 2006, Dombrowski replied, "We are there. I don't have any question about that. They may not be at the higher levels, but the depth of talent is definitely there."

The pitchers are growing more comfortable around one another, thanks in part to the instructional league's regimented schedule: workouts in the morning, games in the early afternoon and evenings off.

By day, they learn from managers, coaches and one another. (Weinhardt, for example, has tried to incorporate Porcello's two-seamer grip.) By night, they watch movies and play video games.

If the Tigers are patient with their pitching crop, they may ultimately benefit from something that does not show up in any scouting report: team unity.

"That's one thing I've always liked -- meeting a mix of people in the organization," Porcello said. "I think that can definitely help a team. ... If you're playing with the team that drafted you, then you have more of a special commitment to that team than if you got traded."

Dombrowski likes it that the organization's young players build camaraderie in their days at Tigertown. But after one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, he's much more interested in developing talent.

"It's nice that they get to do that, but would I rather have two All-Stars that don't get along, or two best friends that can't play?" Dombrowski asked. "You take the two All-Stars."

Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-4097 or jmorosi@freepress.com. Check out his Tigers blog at www.freep.com/sports.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Key offseason dates and pitching prospects   Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:03 am

Just don't rush these guys. Give them time to develop and don't throw them into the Major League too early.
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