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Hit and Run, August 4, 2009

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Star Trek: Redshirts (via comedy4cast)

Ranking of Star Fleet Officers by Competence:
Grade A: Kirk or Spock
Grade B: Scotty, Sulu
Grade C: Chekov
Replacement level: security redshirts
Grade A prospect ruined by Injury: Matt Decker

Hit and Run, August 4, 2009

**My trip to Springfield has been cancelled. The weather forecast is not promising, and with just a two day trip I can't afford the risk of a rainout. Instead I will go to Omaha tomorrow for a two-day look at the Royals against Las Vegas. I also got about 3 hours of sleep last night, so a better night's sleep is a good plan.

**The newest intriguing prospect promotion is Brian Matusz, expected to start tonight's game for the Orioles. His performance for Double-A Bowie was impeccable: 7-0, 1.55, 46:11 K:BB in 46.1 innings, 31 hits, .189 average against. He held lefties to a .077 mark. It says loads about how much the Orioles like him that he's the guy getting promoted: they are normally more conservative about promoting prospects than this. Prediction for Matusz's first start: 5 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, no-decision in a 5-3 Orioles win.

**Ron Gardenhire has mentioned publically that he wants to take a good look at Danny Valencia in September. He's actually been mired in a slump lately at Triple-A Rochester, .135 in his last 10 games, hitting .224/.254/.388 in his last 18 games with three walks and 12 strikeouts in 67 at-bats. His overall line is now .296/.315/.486, but note the low OBP: he's often impatient and this could harm him in the majors. He's still the best third base prospect the Twins have had in some time, but strike zone judgment is a weakness. Valencia strikes me as the type of guy that pitchers will challenge with fastballs when he first gets to the majors. He'll handle them well, put up good numbers for a few weeks until the pitchers decide he can handle the heater. Then they'll start throwing him junk and he'll struggle. Just a guess.

**One of my favorites pre-season was J.J. Hoover, RHP in the Braves system. He's 4-5, 3.63 with a sharp 108/16 K/BB in 97 innings for Class A Rome, with 103 hits allowed. He's been more hittable than I'd like to see, but the K/IP and K/BB are outstanding, and he'll rank high on the Braves pitching prospect chart heading into the off-season. The general assumption has been that Hoover would end up in the bullpen eventually, and indeed he has a 1.17 ERA with an incredible 24/1 K/BB in 15 relief innings this year. However, I think I'd leave him as a starter for now. I wouldn't be afraid to jump him to Double-A next year.

**Another favorite of mine is Cubs pitcher Jay Jackson, who was having a pretty solid year in his first full pro season at Double-A Tennessee. However, he was demoted to Class A Daytona last week for "disciplinary reasons" according to the Cubs. He made his first start for Daytona on July 30th and pitched great, 5.2 innings, four hits, one unearned run, one walk, nine strikeouts. I don't know what the disciplinary reason was, but perhaps the demotion will wake him up. . . certainly the first start went well. Everything I'd heard about his makeup was positive previously.

**Promoted to replace Jackson on the Tennessee roster was righthander Chris Carpenter, who had a 1.44 ERA with a 33/8 K/BB in 25 innings for Daytona. Before that he had a 2.44 ERA with a 60/33 K/BB in 74 innings for Peoria. A third round pick out of Kent State in 2008, Carpenter has great stuff, hitting 95-98 MPH at his best, along with a solid curveball. He also had serious injury problems in college, having Tommy John in 2005, a second elbow surgery in 2006, along with the rheumatiz and the gout. Carpenter's command can be erratic, but he should be on your sleeper lists.