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Prospect Notes, March 16, 2012

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February 26, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) during camp at Surprise Stadium .  Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
February 26, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) during camp at Surprise Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

Minor League Notes, March 16, 2012

**Some notable prospects saw action in yesterday's Oakland Athletics/Texas Rangers game. A's catching prospect Derek Norris was the big hero, hitting a pinch-hit grand slam in the 11-7 Oakland victory. Three top pitching prospects saw action and all of them got handled roughly. Brad Peacock of Oakland gave up five hits, three walks, and five runs in 2.2 innings. Martin Perez of the Rangers got touched for two runs in two innings, walking two and giving up five hits. Teammate Neil Ramirez got knocked for four runs in two innings.

Note specially the comments about Perez being "excited" on the mound and losing his command as a result. That fits perfectly with what I saw from him in person last year. He's got all the talent in the world, but he is still more thrower than pitcher at times, rushing his delivery under pressure.

**There has been a mass culling of prospects from major league rosters in the last 72 hours. The Astros sent down first baseman Jonathan Singleton and pitcher Paul Clemens, the Mets sent down right-handers Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey, the Padres sent down outfielder Rymer Liriano, the Brewers sent down lefty Jed Bradley, the Royals sent down outfielder Wil Myers plus pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi. None of that is unexpected, but all of those guys could find a way to the majors by August, with Singleton and Liriano being the longest shots.

**One of my sleeper prospects for 2012 is right-hander Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers, who isn't a hot prospect at age 26 but who has an excellent track record of strong pitching and performance despite average velocity. He's gotten knocked around a bit in spring training, giving up nine hits and eight runs in five innings of work, on nine hits. Three homers have killed him. However, on the positive side he's fanned six without walking anyone, and he's shown the ability to make adjustments in the past.

Fiers comes into 2012 with a career 2.50 ERA in 292 innings, with a 321/73 K/BB and just 213 hits allowed. He was unbeatable in Triple-A last year (8-0, 1.11 ERA for Nashville, 69/22 K/BB in 65 innings, 41 hits) and doesn't have much left to prove in the minors. He has a solid assortment of secondary pitches (plus changeup, solid slider and curve) to go with an average heater.

**Minor League Ball community member Woo! collected some intriguing Pittsburgh Pirates tidbits earlier this week. Note the reports of Luis Heredia throwing in the upper-90s. Check out this Pirates Prospects video of Heredia throwing batting practice. Some command issues are apparent in that clip, but the guy looks like he's going to be a monster.

**Cleveland Indians prospect Scott Barnes was sent to the minors yesterday, but not before making a positive impression in camp, throwing seven shutout innings over three appearances, with zero walks, five hits, and six strikeouts. The southpaw was having a solid campaign in Triple-A last year (3.68 ERA, 90/34 K/BB in 88 innings, 80 hits) and was on the verge of being promoted to the majors when he tore his left ACL in July. He looks fine this spring. He has some funk to his delivery, but gets his fastball into the 90s and mixes in a promising slider and changeup. Barnes can be a number four starter or at worst a fine relief arm, and we should see him later this year.