Friday, July 01, 2005

Rueckel Report, July 1



A couple of weeks ago, Danny Rueckel's ERA stood at 5.19. This, I suspected---I hoped---was the absolute nadir, in the counter-intuitive sense that a higher number qualifies as one, of course. But, with ERA, it certainly does.

It is hollow to say that things could have only gotten better since then, and it understates just how well Baby Ruckles has been pitching since then, too. He's been extraordinarily effective, and what is more, he been so in, mainly, long stints. Just look at his last week:

---> June 24: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO (credited with victory in 3-2 Harrisburg win over Akron)
---> June 28: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO (no decision in 10-6 loss to Erie)

That's some fine pitching. For what it's worth, his non-June 14th ERA is now 3.19, and if you believe Jim Bowden, other teams are starting to take notice. In his Wednesday column for the DC Examiner, Bowden explained how he evaluates minor leaguers, prospects and otherwise:

When it comes to our minor leaguers, all are rated on the following 2-8 grading system: 8-Superstar; 7-All-Star; 6-Above average player; 5-Average MLB player; 4-Role player on a winning team; 3-Player will play in the big leagues for a losing club; 2-Minor leaguer.

Bowden classified top draft pick Ryan Zimmerman (more on him below) as an "untouchable," but didn't rule out trading other prospects for major league depth. He indicated that some Nats' minor leaguers are attractive to other organizations, and guess who was on the list?

Oh, who am I kidding? Why else would I ask the question . . .

However, the players who draw the most inquiries from opposing GMs (in no particular order) are LHP Michael Hinckley, RHP Collin Balester, RHP Clint Everts, SS Ian Desmond, RHP Armando Galarraga, LHP Bill Bray, OF Rogearvin Bernadina, INF Kory Casto, RHP Shawn Hill, RHP Josh Karp, RHP Jason Bergman*, RHP Darrell Rasner, RHP William Bunn and RHP Danny Rueckel.

* Not to nitpick, Bodes, but it's Bergmann.

Although obviously Bowden didn't divulge individual rankings, I wonder how he would rate Rueckel. Personally---and keep in mind that, although I'm pretty much here to shill for Baby Ruckles, I picked him in large part because he wasn't a top prospect---I would guess he ranks somewhere between a "3" and a "6" depending on how he develops and how much you emphasize the importance of a middle reliever. But my position has always been that Rueckel is a big league-quality pitcher, whether he eventually gets the chance or not.


SEASON TO DATE: 28 G, 45 IP, 49 H, 25 R, 21 ER, 12 BB, 43 SO; 3-4, 4.20 ERA, 5 SV

____________________

It was Allied Van Lines week at Harrisburg, with one top prospect coming and one going:

---> Coming: Ryan Zimmerman
---> Going: Bill Bray

Zimmerman tore it up at Class-A Savannah, of course, earning a quick call-up to the Eastern League. In five games and 21 at-bats (a nothing sample, of course), Dutch is hitting .286/.286/.381. He's wrapped two doubles, driven in one runner (and scored three times himself), and has made no errors.

Bray, who was recalled from Class-A Potomac on June 20, didn't do too much to distinguish himself in his Residence Inn-type stay at Harrisburg, going 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA and a save in three outings. Outside of a rather high opposition batting average (10 hits in 5.2 innings pitched), his peripheral numbers, such as they were, looked generally solid; in particular, the 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio looked good to me.

_____________________

Bowden's DC Examiner column on prospects (linked above) contains this whopper:

Player development is an inexact science, filled with the usual ups and downs often associated with young players. For instance, take SS Ian Desmond, who dazzled just about everyone this spring and looked like the next coming of Derek Jeter.Some might say Desmond, who is hitting .236 with 21 errors for Savannah of the South Atlantic League, might have lost some of his luster. They're wrong. I am thrilled with how Ian is progressing. Desmond will hit. He has all the tools. With the glove, his hands are second to only Zimmerman in our organization. But Desmond is just 19.

This time last year, he was graduating from high school. Too many minor league infields are not near big league caliber. And official scoring in the minor leagues, especially the low minors, leaves a lot to be desired. Adjusting to real life is also a challenge for young players, especially those out of high school, such as Desmond.

Playing seven days a week in the South Atlantic League is different than playing three or four high school games per week.Take a look at Derek Jeter. He made 57 errors for the Greensboro Bats of the same South Atlantic League in 1993.Desmond is going to be fine. We love him today more than ever.

Let's quickly dispatch with damning-with-faint-praise notion of comparing a shortstop prospect's defense to that of Derek Jeter, as well as the trifling factual nitpick that Jeter made 56 errors at Greensboro in 1993, not 57.

How dare Bowden compare Ian Desmond to Derek Jeter? How ridiculous is that? How obscenely unfair is it for Desmond?

Beyond the audacity of the comparison, there's the rather huge gulf between Jeter's offensive ability at a similar age (actually, a few months younger) and Desmond's currently. Bowden says that "Desmond will hit." Guess what? In 1993 at Greensboro, in Jeter's first full professional season (just like Desmond), Jeter did hit (unlike Desmond).

---> That season, Jeter hit .295/.376/.394.
---> This season, Desmond is hitting .242/.287/.335.

Look, I know that lots of Nats' fans are quite enamored of Desmond, and well they should be, given his age and his defensive chops. But Desmond is, at best, a B-grade prospect or so. Derek Jeter was a super-prospect from Day One. There is no comparison between the two, just as there was no comparison between Ed Rogers and A-Rod four years ago, no matter how much O's fans wanted one to exist.

We've known Derek Jeter, and we've seen Derek Jeter; Desmond is no Derek Jeter. Bodes, I implore you never to use their names in the same sentence again.

_______________

Congratulations to reliever Saul Rivera and outfielder Dee Haynes, both of whom will represent Harrisburg in the Double-A all-star game. In case you didn't know, Danny Rueckel made the all-star team last season.


Comments:
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Games & PC Games News - Oct. 16, 2005


Is the PC game market? (Dallas Morning News)
The last few years have not been all fun and games for computer game fans, but that might be changing. As attention has shifted to sophisticated video game consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation 2, PC gamers have watched their preferred platform wither.

Xbox 360's New Media Play Finding Fans (eWeek)
Consumers were impressed by the expanded multimedia features of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 at the Digital Life conference, while gamers were excited to begin using the devices to access other types of services.

NewTek Releases Fifth Free Feature Update for LightWave 3D (Digital WebCast)
NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading 3D animation and video products, today announced the release of the fifth free update and the 64-bit port for Emmy award-winning LightWave 3D . Version 8.5 offers hardware support of OpenGL 2.0, the new Multishift tool with editable history, Photoshop -style texture blending modes, improved dynamics, and easier integration of third-party file formats.

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