A Look Around the Minors: Slow Starters

Snyder can't afford another lost season

Inside The Warehouse takes a look at some players who are off to slow starts. Some of these players might continue to disappoint, but others have strong indicators that they will turn their performances around.

Delmarva Shorebirds

Batting

Pedro Florimon - After a breakout showing in rookie-level Bluefield in 2006, Florimon struggled against the college-trained pitching of the Now York-Penn League and then looked overanxious in spring training. His struggles have continued in his first full season in the South Atlantic League, though he has drawn 5 walks against 22 at bats.

Brandon Snyder - Though his hitting ability is well-regarded, Snyder has struck out 10 times in just 30 at bats in a return engagement in Delmarva en route to a .233/.361/.300 batting line. Will Carroll told ITW that Snyder's power numbers might be down after his off-season surgery, but he'll have to put the ball in play more than two-thirds of the time to post a decent batting average.

Daniel Figueroa - One of the feel good stories of minor league spring training camp, Figueroa has looked lost at the plate in his second crack at Sally League pitching. His .067/292/.067 batting line is not the kind of start a 24 year old in low-A can afford, no matter how athletic he is.

Pitching

Fernando De Nabal - Though his mid-90's heat has allowed him to register 8 K's through his first 6.1 innings, he has also walked 12 batters en route to a 12.79 ERA. He remains an extremely raw, if promising, talent.

Luis Lebron - Some observers felt Lebron was capable of moving through multiple levels of the minor league system this season. He has struck out 4 batters through 3 innings, but his 8 walks are a testament to the work the 22 year old Dominican still has left to do.

Frederick Keys

Batting

Mark Fleisher - Touted as a potential breakout candidate by yours truly, Fleisher has yet to get his bat into gear in 2007. He only has 18 at bats, but his .167/.167/.222 batting line is well short of expectations in Baltimore's lone hitting-friendly stadium.

Pitching

Jason Burch - Despite the fact that many thought he was capable of succeeding in double-A Bowie this season, the 24 year old Burch has a middling 2:3 K:BB ratio in his first 4.1 innings. He does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground and has major league stuff, but he can't afford a slow start with Baltimore's newfound pitching depth.

Bowie Baysox

Batting

Jeff Fiorentino - I've already made my feelings known that Fiorentino is ready for triple-A Norfolk, but he hasn't helped his cause with a .188/.278/.281 start. Fiorentino started slow last year as well, but it shouldn't take him until August to heat up this year. Don't fret- he'll be ready for a major league role by 2008.

Val Majewski - Despite hitting .237/.318/.316, Majewski has shown some signs of turning it around. He had a 3 hit performance on Tuesday, complete with 2 doubles. He still has the upside of an everyday player.

Brandon Sing - Sing is doing nothing to dispel the rumors that his awful 2006 was not solely due to his vision problems. His .088/.114/.088 start is highlighted by 14 strikeouts in 34 at bats. Let's just hope that he heats up with the weather.

Pitching

Radhames Liz - In his first start of the season, Liz walked 4 batters while striking out no one in 3 innings. He looked more like the old Radhames Liz in his second start with 8 K's and 5 BB's in 5 innings, but his peripherals suggest he is lucky to have a 4.50 ERA. He has done a much better job of keeping the ball on the ground so far and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues. Liz still needs to learn that even a fastball as good as his isn't enough, on its own, to consistently retire advanced hitters.

Norfolk Tides

Batting

Brandon Fahey - The man who logged more starts than anyone else in left field for the Orioles in 2006 is off to a .121/.256/.121 start in triple-A. No one is expecting him to take the league by storm at the plate, especially in the run-suppressing Harbor Park, but he'll have to do better than this to reclaim a bench role. Luckily, his 6:4 BB:K ratio indicates that he is seeing the ball well and he should come around in time.

Eli Whiteside - Whiteside's .120/.154/.120 start highlights why the Orioles felt it was necessary to trade for Alberto Castillo as an emergency catcher. Perhaps there are worse options than Paul Bako behind the plate. Whiteside is the type of hitter that will be particularly hurt by Harbor Park, since he relies on his moderate pop for all of his offensive value. At this rate, he won't have to worry about it, since he'll likely head back to Bowie when Ramon Hernandez is healthy and Alberto Castillo is sent down to Norfolk.

Pitching

Sean Tracey - The unfair recipient of Ozzie Guillen's wrath after he failed to retaliate for a beaning in a brief cup of coffee last year, Tracey has the stuff to succeed at the highest level. Unfortunately, his command problems have continued in 2007, with 8 walks and 3 hit batsmen in 4.2 innings.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com

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