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Afternoon Notes, May 20, 2010

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Afternoon Notes, May 20, 2010

**Scott Sizemore botched his chance to seize the Tigers second base job, hitting just .206/.297/.289 through 30 games and being demoted to Triple-A Toledo a few days ago. He's 3-for-10 in his first three games down there. Considering that he hit .308/.378/.473 in 71 games for Toledo last year, he doesn't really have a lot left to prove down in the minors, so it will be interesting to see if the Tigers give him another chance later this year. Although he was obviously struggling in the majors, he'd managed to draw a few walks (13 in 115 PA) at least. I have not given up on him, not based on a 30-game sample, but he's obviously not the ROY contender some people expected.

**Former pitcher Adam Loewen is attempting to follow the Rick Ankiel career revival model, currently playing left field for Double-A New Hampshire in the Blue Jays system. Results so far: .266/.377/.468, with five homers, 16 walks, and 30 strikeouts in 109 at-bats, 33 games. This isn't great, but it does represent improvement over his .236/.340/.355 season last year in the Florida State League. Loewen seems to have a fair grasp of the strike zone and has some pop in his bat. His main weakness is a very sharp platoon split: .299/.404/.483 against right-handers, but just .136/.269/.409 against lefties. He has been quite hot in May (.308/.403/.577), and given his background I think further progress is possible even at age 26. He could end up being useful in a platoon/reserve outfield role at some point, which is better than being a retired pitcher.

**One year ago, Texas A&M product Brooks Raley was being speculated as a possible late first round pick, due to his athleticism and intriguing two-way production in college. He posted a 3.76 ERA with a 95/26 K/BB in 93 innings for the Aggies, while also hitting .304/.404/.424 with 25 steals in 29 attempts. Scouts preferred him on the mound, though worries about his signability as a draft-eligible sophomore knocked him down to the sixth round where the Cubs took him. It took $750,000 to sign him. Scouts theorized that he would thrive as a pitcher once he gave up the outfield, but it hasn't worked out that way:  he is 0-3, 5.52 ERA at High-A Daytona, with a 33/15 K/BB in 29 innings but 42 hits allowed. The K/IP ratio is good, but his control has been disappointing and he's given up a lot of hits. Raley has an 87-92 MPH fastball, and his breaking ball and changeup both have promise, but it is clear that adjustments are necessary. I still think he is intriguing because of his overall athleticism, but he isn't developing as rapidly as I'd hoped.

**Another two-way player in the '09 college ranks was USC's Robert Stock. He was excellent as a pitcher (2.90 ERA, 86/39 K/BB ratio in 78 innings) but less effective when used as a catcher (.226/.354/.453). Scouts preferred him as a pitcher, but Stock wanted to play every day, and the Cardinals obliged, drafting him in the second round and sticking him behind the plate at Johnson City in the Appalachian League. He was terrific there, hitting .322/.386/.550 and throwing out 29% of runners while drawing good reviews overall. Sent to Quad Cities in the Midwest League this year, he has fallen back to Earth, hitting just .171/.306/.232 thus far. He's drawn 16 walks, but has otherwise been overmatched by Midwest League pitching. He has thrown out 28% of runners, but has also given up four passed balls and six errors in 24 defensive games. It is too soon to conclude that Stock will end up back on the mound, and he's only 20 years old. But I admit that I thought that his Johnson City breakout was for real, and expected that he would be rated one of the best catching prospects in baseball by the end of 2010. It looks like I was wrong about that.