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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

WATCH LIST DEUX
Here are the pitchers I plan on checking up on every few weeks this year. Hopefully, these fellows will stay steroid-free:

Steve Andrade: What's that you say? Steve Andrade isn't with the Angels anymore? That's right, but I want to follow him anyway. Andrade rocked the house in AA in 2003, putting up a Brendan Donnelly line of 13.06 K's per 9 innings against only 3.35 walks, adding up to a nifty 2.65 ERA. Starting 2004 at AAA, he pitched 13 2/3 innings and struck out 17 men, allowing a reasonable number of hits (15). He did, however, walk 8, and reportedly the Angel braintrust took this "struggling" as conclusive evidence that Andrade's rather common arsenal would be insufficient to retire batters at higher levels. How this can be decided after 13 2/3 innings that don't actually qualify as bad is a bit beyond me, but needless to say Andrade lit up AA again upon his return, striking out 11.06 guys per nine against 2.25 walks and a 2.44 ERA.

So, over two seasons, we have Steve Andrade with 99 innings pitched at AA, with 133 strikeouts, 31 walks, 6 home runs, and only 63 hits. ERA: 2.55. Yeah, so he was a 26-year-old in AA; so what? I think he's proven that he can get guys out in AA, and deserves more than a couple of weeks in AAA to show he can't do it there.

In the meantime, the Angels have acquired Bret Prinz, who in 368 2/3 career minor league innings has an ERA of 3.81, striking out 7.64 men per nine innings. Prinz did pitch pretty well at AAA last season, and has a live arm; I'm not saying he's gonna be a disaster or anything. But you have to give Keith LawToronto credit for taking a chance on Andrade; the upside is Donnelly, and the downside is Anthony Chavez (a former Angel farmhand that pitched well every year, got no respect, and managed only 9 2/3 major league innings -- with an ERA of 0.93, thank you very little). As the subject of pretty much a dare between Eddie Bane and Voros McCracken, Andrade's 2005 will be worth watching. The Angels have been great with relievers, but they ain't perfect.

Daniel Davidson: Described in the BPro book
as a "finesse lefty," the 6'4''-225 Davidson (at that size, he's a finesse pitcher?) will likely be at AA this year (I'd check the official roster, but of course Arkansas' official site is down as I type this). He was okay last year in the Cal League, striking out 6.67 guys per nine while keeping down the homers, so the transition to AA will be interesting.

Abel Moreno: Moreno doesn't walk guys or allow home runs, which is a nice combo. He was 21 a year ago at Cedar Rapids, and was apparently not a part of the steroid ring that was in play there, so that's good. The next step on the Angel ladder is Cal League Rancho Cucamonga, so we'll see how much control he can maintain as he climbs up.

Ervin Santana: The Artist Formerly Known as Johan (psst, Baseball Cube: it's the same person!) was shut down at AA Arkansas last year for precautionary reasons, so he'll start again there this year. He's 22, so there's still a lot of future ahead of him if he can keep his arm attached to his person. Health is really the only question mark for Santana at this point, so you need to watch the trainer's docket as much as his performance.

Steve Shell: Repeating the Cal League at age 21, Shell had an excellent season, striking out over 10 guys a game and walking barely over two. He'll join Santana in Arkansas this year for what promises to be a top-notch top of the rotation. It would be loverly for these guys to climb the ladder together, getting their cups of coffee in late 2006 before stepping into middle relief/spot starter roles on their way to the rotation in 2007, when they'll still be only 24 year old apiece.

Von Stertzbach: What a kickass name. Stertzbach was 23 last year in Rancho, and pitched exclusively in relief, but struck out many, many men (54 in 48 innings) and walked very, very few (13), all while giving up less than 0.40 home runs per nine innings, a phenomonal rate, especially in the hitter-friendly Cal League. It looks like the Angel relief legacy is destined to continue.

Bob Zimmerman: Must ... resist ... Dylan ... references. Oh, the hell with it: The Lonesome Hobo made opposing hitters a desolation row in 2004, with their bats stirring up an idiot wind as he struck out nearly 11 guys a game in Cedar Rapids while keeping the ball in the ballpark. He'll be 23 this season, and likely be in Rancho, where a hard rain is likely to fall when he's on the mound. He obviously has more than five believers, and appears destined to lead the Halos along paths of victory for years to come.

Comments:
I just checked the Travelers' site and Daniel Davidson is on the roster.
 
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.
 
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