Monday afternoon news and notes Doug Gray March 17, 2014 2 Comments I have set up and updated another NCAA Tournament bracket challenge. You can now enter at both ESPN and Yahoo. I am also giving out a few prizes, so feel free to sign up and assert your college basketball dominance. Shaun P Kernahan is out in Arizona and had a first hand look at Billy Hamilton. Here is one of the things that he saw that stood out to him. I say he didn’t look as fast as I expected him too, but in reality he was every bit as fast, if not faster, it just showed in a different part of his game than I expected. Where his speed played up the most on Friday night was not on the base paths, but in center field. Hamilton plays quite shallow, but showed good reaction to the ball off the bat, allowing him to get back to catch well hit balls all the way to the warning track. One of the things that I am really looking forward to at the end of the season is seeing just how valuable the defensive rankings have Billy Hamilton. Oh, and the baserunning value. Tony Blengino is ranking the Minor League systems by impact over at Fangraphs. He ranked the Reds 17th overall with three impact players. He also listed Billy Hamilton as another 2013 impact player. Observation – A very top-heavy system – Stephenson is one of the best pitching prospects in the game, and Ervin can really hit. System is trending downward, as much of its bulk has been moved for major league upgrades in recent seasons. I guess if you go year-to-year, the system could be trending downward, but the system seems to be on the way up to me as the lower level guys are beginning to filter up and fill the mid-tier gap that has seemingly been barren for the last few seasons. Mark Sheldon had an article up on Billy Hamilton Saturday night talking about his speed. Bryan Price had something interesting to say about it. You never get tired of seeing it, but the shock and awe part of it wears off after a while. I’m sure with Billy, you’re never going to under appreciate his speed or take it for granted. Right now, we’re right in the height of it. I think that Price is right. While the awe of it may eventually wear off a little bit, the value is going to remain as long as his speed stays near the top. At the SABR Analytics conference there was a panel that focused on developing international talent. ESPN Deportes Venezuelan journalist Leonte Landino was on the panel and had this to say about how things have changed over the past few years to help the international guys: “The next-level steps teams have taken with Latin players is wonderful,” Landino said. “A 16-year-old prospect now plays in a state-of-the-art academy, and by the time he’s 19 or 20 he knows basic English, which helps him understand the philosophy of the organization and makes teaching much easier, which helps him focus on the baseball field. “Plus, all these kids have iPads and iPhones, which helps speed up the process (of assimilation).” While a lot of the focus on player development is about how to get the physical side of things out of players, the stuff beyond the field also comes into play for some guys and for the international players they have a lot more adjustments to make. From the language barrier to the cultural differences to being far away from their friends and family for more than half of the year, being able to make things easier for these guys in their transition makes it a little easier to start reaping benefits from the physical side of things as well. Baseball America released the most recent transactions and it included six releases of minor leaguers. The Reds released RHP Jesus Adames, RHP Jason Kilby, RHP Werleen Taveras, 1B Aldi Guzman, 1B Carlos Sanchez and 3B Henry Rodriguez. Rodriguez was one that I had already covered as being a bit of a surprise. Taveras is also interesting to see let go. Last season he tossed 28 innings with a 2.25 ERA between Billings and Dayton with 27 strikeouts. He showed off solid stuff. Here is what I wrote about him in the 2014 Prospect Guide: Werleen Taveras came into the 2013 season as a relative unknown pitcher with just a few innings thrown in the US for the Reds. The right hander broke out some during the year as he split his time between Billings and Low-A Dayton where he threw 28 innings with 12 walks and 27 strikeouts. Taveras throws a fastball in the 90-92 MPH range some downward movement. He will use both a change up and a curveball as his secondary pitches. His change up is the better of the two pitches with good tumbling action and has a chance to be an above-average pitch. The curveball is a clear third pitch and is an inconsistent one. When at its best it is an average offering in the mid 70’s. Control could be an issue for Taveras moving forward as he battles to find a consistent release point. Last but not least, Tom Nichols looks at the potential catchers this season for the Dayton Dragons. He profiles Joe Hudson, Brandon Dailey, Jose Ortiz and Daniel Paula. All four of those guys were catchers at either Dayton or Billings in the 2013 season. 2 Responses MK March 17, 2014 Nichol’s catching article got me thinking there is a real backlog at the top meaning some folks lower are probably going to be released there are 5 guys competing for maybe 3 spots at Louisville. Figure Barnhart and Miller are locks you then have to pick one between Anderson, Perez and Ramirez with the other 2 heading to Pensacola. Can’t imagine Berset going to Bakersfield for a 3rd year, and Yovan Gonzalez should probably be in AA too. Doug Gray March 17, 2014 I think Barnhart/Miller/Ramirez get the spots in Louisville with Ramirez being a utility guy who goes betwen DH/1B/3B/C. I think Berset probably winds up in Pensacola. Who else is there with him will be the question.