The Cincinnati Reds' brass was probably pretty proud of themselves when offseason pickup Andrew Brackman opened the AAA season with this line: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1 ER. The hometown kid was the kind of low risk high upside signing (480K + 500K in incentives) that can make the front office look brilliant and push a mediocre team into contention. You know, when it works.
That first start was not a sign of things to come, and unless there is a built-in incentive for out Steve Blassing Steve Blass (check for symptoms of SBD here), or maybe an incentive for every pitch thrown, that 500K in bonuses is looking pretty safe. Since his positive debut, Brackman, a first round pick in 2007, has labored through 19 innings. His line in those 19 innings: 26 H, 21 BB, 16 SO, 27 ER. That all shakes out to a 12.79 ERA, and he's 0-3 during the stretch.
Sadly, Brackman's name seems destined to be synonymous with "bust."
But it's not all bad news for the Pack in the pros; continue reading below the jump for an alumni update.
Harold Riggins is killing it down in Asheville. The 2011 Rox selection has 6 hits in his last 3 games, including a double and a pair of bombs. Riggins enjoys a slash line of .314/.398/.559 and has 11 home runs and 53 RBI in 54 games. His 62 strikeouts are a bit of a red flag, but despite that Riggins is dominating the SALLY to the tune of a 163 OPS+ and will appear on Rox top prospects lists at the end of the year if he keeps this up. He's also been reliable in the field, committing just 2 errors in 406 chances.
Cory Mazzoni, a 2nd round pick of the Mets in 2011, is also representing the Pack well. Mazzoni has allowed 4 or more earned runs just twice in 12 starts and sports a 5-1 record and 3.25 ERA. With a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just 0.4 home runs allowed per 9 innings, Mazzoni's components are in good shape, and it would not be surprising to see him earn a midseason promotion from A+ St. Lucie to AA.
Things are not as rosy for 2011 pick Pratt Maynard, who is hitting .203/.293/.244 for Great Lakes in the Midwest League. Maynard has been solid enough behind the dish, throwing out 30% of would-be thieves and allowing just 1 passed ball all season. Maynard, a 3rd round pick and a lefty swinging backstop, should benefit from lots of patience from the Dodgers, who invested $315,000 to coax him away from the Pack. Hopefully he figures things out with the bat soon.
Robert Chamra, a 34th round pick of the Dodgers last year who was cut after one minor league season, has resurfaced in the independent Frontier League. In 3 appearances, Chamra was posted a Brackman-esque 32.40 ERA. Yikes.
Jake Buchanan, a member of the 2010 draft class who went in the 8th round to the Astros, has been a victim of bad luck. Opponents are hitting .345 against him on balls in play, a number that is about .050 points higher than what Buchanan had seen in his previous pro experience. That high number on balls in play has led to him allowing an astronomical 11.3 hits per 9 innings. He's 3-4 with a 5.32 ERA but has pitched better than those numbers indicate. One stat in his favor is his 1.9 walks allowed per 9 innings. One wonders if he is around the plate too much.
Alex Sogard, Buchanan's teammate at Corpus Christi, has not adjusted well to AA. The 2010 26th round pick is 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA and is allowing 14.6 hits and 9.7 walks per 9 innings. Ouch.
After a hot start, Dallas Poulk has faded to a .236/.353/.328 triple slash for the Marlins A+ affiliate. A nice walk rate has allowed him to keep his OBP up but has not kept him from losing his starting gig at 2B. He's started games at 2B, 3B, SS, and all 3 OF spots and looks to be a career minor league fill-in guy.
Jimmy Gillheeney, an 8th round pick in 2009, has pitched better than his numbers indicate for High Desert of the California League. High Desert is one of the most extreme pro-hitter environments in all of the minors, so Gilheeney's 5.25 ERA is passable. He's 4-2 and has nice components: 8.5 K/9 compared to only 2.5 BB/9. Lefties hit about .50 points lower than righties against him, so even though Gillheeney is starting now, he may have a future as a LOOGY.
Andrew Taylor, another former Pack lefty, has lasted longer than most 34th round picks. He's made it to AA in the LAAofA system, where he's 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA. Taylor has K'd 8.5 batters per 9 innings while allowing just 2.1 BB/9. He leads the Arkansas Travelers with 7 holds and also has 2 saves.
Speaking of late-round picks, Jeremy Synan went 42nd to the Marlins in 2008. The draft doesn't even last that long anymore. Synan clawed his way all the way to AA for the Fish, where he hit an impressive .338/.444/.559 but over the small sample size of 82 plate appearances. And then he got his walking papers. Synan has resurfaced for River City in independent ball, where he sports a .308/.340/.484 triple slash line.
Speaking of independent baseball, there has been a Colt Morton sighting. The 2003 3rd round pick got a couple of cups of coffee with the Padres before hanging up the spikes in 2009. But former MLB slugger and Sugar Land Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti (who is also the father of former Pack star and Morton teammate Joe Gaetti) has coaxed Morton out of retirement. Morton is hitting .250/.368/.563 for the Atlantic League's Skeeters.
Aaron Bates will always have his .364/.417/.545 major league line (albeit in 12 plate appearances). The former 3rd round pick of the Red Sox was released by the Twins earlier this year but caught on with the Cards' AAA Memphis Redbirds. Things are not going well: .140/.196/.209.
Jonathan Diaz, the Jays' 12th round pick in 2006, continues to play a roving utility role, bouncing around the infields adeptly for Toronto's AA and AAA affiliates. Unfortunately he also continues not to hit, posting a .211/.283/.249 triple slash line so far this year.
Eric Surkamp, the Giants' 6th round selection in 2008, was a candidate to see time in the major league rotation this summer before an injury derailed his season. Surkamp was readying for a minor league rehab assignment just a few weeks ago, but something went awry and he's now been deemed out for the dreaded time period of "indefinitely."