Prospect Notes, March 21, 2012
**The big news in prospectland right now is the injury to Atlanta Braves right-hander Arodys Vizcaino. He's blown an elbow ligament and will miss all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. This isn't really very surprising; Vizcaino missed half of 2010 with a partial ligament tear. The Braves have good depth in young pitching, but attrition is always a risk. This could plausibly lead to a greater opportunity for someone like J.J. Hoover later this year. As for Vizcaino, we'll just have to wait-and-see. I've never bought into the theory that Tommy John surgery is routine, and recovery is not automatic.
This isn't a big shock, given the wildness he's shown this spring: he's pitched 11 innings but walked 13. He also has nine strikeouts and just six hits allowed, but time in Triple-A seems wise to me given a total lack of experience at that level. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the Pacific Coast League, an environment that punishes pitchers with command issues, although Sacramento isn't as unfriendly as other parks in the circuit.
**The Minnesota Twins demoted struggling Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka to the minors on Monday, potentially opening up a spot for rookie infielder Brian Dozier, who has had an impressive camp.
Dozier doesn't have the flashiest tools around, but he's having a decent spring (.273/.304/.500 through 13 games) and looked good in the Arizona Fall League. An eighth-round pick from Southern Mississippi in 2009, he hit .318/.384/.502 in Double-A last year and led the Minnesota farm system in on-base percentage. He's a solid defender at both shortstop and second base and has excellent makeup. Since college, he has consistently played better than his raw tools say he should.
**The Colorado Rockies sent lefty Christian Friedrich back to the minors and he will begin the season with Triple-A Colorado Springs. A first-round pick from Eastern Kentucky University in 2008, Friedrich is one of the more frustrating pitching prospects in the upper minors, epitomized by his spring training performance. He's pitched eight innings for the Rockies, posting an excellent 10/0 K/BB ratio. . .but also giving up 12 hits, two homers, and eight runs total. He has two mediocre seasons in Double-A under his belt, and adapting to the PCL will be problematic. At his best in the past he's touched the mid-90s, but his fastball is often in the 88-90 range and his curveball and changeup haven't been good enough to compensate. He may end up as a reliever; a change of scenery to a new organization might also be necessary for him to live up to the potential he showed in college.