There are quite a few former BlueClaws who are in Spring Training camps with a Major League team not named the Phillies. Here’s a look around Florida and Arizona at some former BlueClaws hoping to take the next step in their careers.
Oakland Athletics –
Michael Taylor (’08): He was one of the main cogs in the Phillies deal with Toronto that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. He was then traded from the Blue Jays to Oakland for Brett Wallace the same day as the Halladay deal. He is coming off a sub-par season in Triple-A, where he will likely start in 2011. Here’s a great article on Taylor from the San Francisco Chronicle written last week.
This spring, he’d like to turn in some nice numbers, and he hit a three-run homer earlier in the week, but he has a more basic goal. “I want to enjoy every day,” Taylor said. “Enjoy the time, enjoy the work.”
Cleveland Indians -
Jason Donald (’07): In just his 15th game in the Big Leagues, he was the guy who was credited with a hit with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning to break up Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game. New York Times writer Tyler Kepner wrote a great piece on Donald just last week. He is trying to make a name for himself in a different way in 2011.Donald is a very good defensive SS and 2B, and is rumored to possibly be the Tribe’s starting 3B when Opening Day arrives. Donald was part of the deal with Cleveland that made Cliff Lee a Phillie the first time back in 2009.
“I was happy, because that’s a tough lineup to crack over there,” he said of the. “It would have been nice to get to the big leagues with the team that drafted me, but that’s how the game goes.”
Carlos Carrasco (’05 & ’06): Also part of the deal that brought Cliff Lee to the Phillies, he made his big league debut at the end of 2009 and really struggled. He went back to AAA Indianapolis last year, got called back up late last year and was the Indians best starter in September. Great read over on MLB.com about Carrasco. Carrasco heads into 2011 as possibly the 3rd starter in Cleveland’s rotation behind Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson. And, he and his wife just had their first child last week. Just 23 years old, 2011 could be a huge year for Carrasco.
“Last year was the very first time I had to fight for a job, and it affected me,” Carrasco said. “I sensed pressure. I tried to do more than I could. I made mistakes. I’m so much calmer this year, but I’ve never let my intensity go.”
Lou Marson (’06): The final piece of the Lee deal with the Indians, Marson will likely be forced into a backup role behind stud prospect Carlos Santana. But, coming off a year where he hit just .195 with Cleveland, he might need some more at-bats then he would receive as a backup to get his swing corrected. Marson is definitely saying and doing all the right things this Spring though as you can read in this article on Ohio.com. It will be interesting to see which way the Indians go with Marson in 2011.
”He’s going to get plenty of opportunities to play in spring training,” Acta said.
Marson recognizes he has to improve at the plate. He thinks that will happen if he gets more at-bats.
”What happened last year is that I got off to a slow start and couldn’t get out of it,” he said. ”It was in my dome. It got in my head.”
Houston Astros -
Jonathan Villar (’10): A BlueClaw just last season, Villar is an extremely speedy SS who went to Houston as part of the Roy Oswalt trade last year. He’s very well regarded, evidenced by his ranking as the 94th best prospect for 2011 by Baseball America. At just 19 years old, he has a chance to take a big step forward in 2011 for Houston and will likely be one of the youngest players in Double-A.
JA Happ (’05): Happ has been a big name in the Phillies organization, and has actually pitched very well in the Majors the past two seasons (He is 19-9 with an ERA of 3.27 in 289 innings in the Big Leagues). Happ was the key cog in the deal that brought Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia and has a shot to be one of the Astros top starters this season, along with fellow former Phillie Brett Myers. The Houston Chronicle had a profile on Happ earlier in the spring.
J.A. Happ writes righthanded. He bowls and plays tennis with his right hand, kicks with his right foot. He plays golf, dribbles and shoots a basketball lefthanded. Either by happenstance or having the requisite gray matter to have acquired some higher learning at Northwestern, Happ throws lefthanded and has promising job prospects because of it.
“I don’t know why,” Happ said. “It’s a weird thing. I would think I would at least kick with my left.”
Michael Bourn (’04): Bourn is a super speedy OF who was the key component in the trade that brought closer Brad Lidge to the Phillies from the Astros. Bourn’s job is safe as the everyday starting CF for the Astros, a job he has held since 2008. He has won two straight Gold Glove Awards, has led the NL the past two seasons in Stolen Bases, and was an All-Star for the first time last season. Did you know he was a Little League teammate of Carl Crawford?
Crawford, a three-sport star from Jefferson Davis High School, dropped down because many major league organizations thought he was leaning toward a football scholarship offered by Nebraska.
A year behind Crawford at Nimitz High School, Bourn was most in awe of Crawford as a basketball player.
“He could have played all three,” Bourn recalled. “UCLA pursued him, but he stopped playing (before his senior year). I couldn’t believe it. He tried to tell me to stop, too, and I said, `Naw, man.’”
Toronto Blue Jays -
Kyle Drabek (’07): The key piece to the Roy Halladay trade with the Blue Jays, Drabek is one of baseball’s top prospects, ranked in the top 15 by most. USA Today profiled the right-hander last week, who has a great chance to be Toronto’s fifth starter in 2011.
Farrell says the son of 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek has a “very good chance” of winning the fifth starter’s job this spring after going 14-9 with a 2.94 ERA at Class AA New Hampshire. “Without anointing him part of our rotation right now, we want to make sure he does the things that we are all aware that he can do, that he showed last year at the minor league level and for a brief stint with the big league club,” Farrell says.
Anthony Gose (’09): One of the fastest players in BlueClaws history, Gose was dealt to Houston along with Villar for Roy Oswalt. Then, he was shipped to Toronto for Brett Wallace. Gose is a super speedy CF prospect who has drawn comparisons to perennial Major League All-Star Carl Crawford. Here’s an article on Gose, who probably opens with Double-A New Hampshire.
“Raw? What is raw?” he says, his affable tone suddenly gathering a slight edge. “Meat is raw. I don’t want to say I’m raw. I feel like I’m more than just raw and rare.”
Then he smiles.
“Maybe I’m medium rare,” he says. “I’m still progressing.”
Travis d’Arnaud (‘08 & ’09): d’Arnaud, who had a good 2010 with A+ Dunedin, will probably start the year in Dunedin again since he missed some time with an injury. He’ll be in New Hampshire before the year is out, most likely. At just 22, the Blue Jays are not rushing him along, and still expect big things down the line. Most rank him among the top 40 prospects in the game.
Cincinnati Reds –
Matt Maloney (’06): Maloney was traded to the Reds in 2007 for Kyle Lohse, and has seen cups of coffee in the Majors the past two seasons. He has spent the bulk of his Minor League career as a Starter, but Cincy’s rotation is loaded, and his best shot to break camp with the Reds is in the Bullpen. MLB.com had a nice profile on his fight to start the season in the Majors. How he pitches this Spring will determine where Maloney starts 2011, in Cincinnati or at Triple-A Louisville.
Ask left-handed pitcher Matt Maloney if he wants to make the Reds roster as a starter or reliever, and he’d most likely say “yes, please.”
Maloney has gotten tastes of the Major Leagues in each of the last two seasons, but he has yet to make the team out of camp.
“Hopefully, I’ll be given a shot to start. But I will take whatever I’m given and make the best of it,” Maloney said.