June 19, 2011

On Baseball: Sometimes the draft is a breeze, sometimes not

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer


(Statistics through June 16)

Ryan Baker, Portland, catcher (Yankees): Has played four games for Double-A Trenton, recording one hit and one RBI in 12 at-bats.

Ryan Flaherty, Portland, Inf/OF (Cubs): Batting .303 with 12 home runs, 55 RBI and a .940 OPS for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies.

Andrew Giobbi, Portland, catcher (Mariners): Batting .206 in 23 games for the advanced Class A High Desert Mavericks in the California League.

Mike MacDonald, Camden, pitcher (Blue Jays): Is 3-3 with a 6.40 ERA in 12 starts with Triple-A Las Vegas.

Ryan Reid, Portland, pitcher (Rays): Has a 3.25 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 15 appearances (272/3 innings) for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.

Mark Rogers, Orrs Island, pitcher (Brewers): Remains on the disabled list with the Class A Brevard County Manatees.

NOTES: Rogers eventually will have surgery to relieve the carpel tunnel syndrome in his right wrist, Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Anti-inflammation medicine is currently being used. Giobbi's successful squeeze Thursday gave High Desert a 1-0 victory.

-- Kevin Thomas

After the recent major league draft, attention focused on who the Red Sox picked.

But there are other questions that will not be answered.

Who did Boston want but did not get?

Of course, Boston is going to speak positively of its choices after the draft. But there had to be players on General Manager Theo Epstein's list that other teams took before him.

Sometimes the Red Sox eventually get the player anyway.

Chris Balcom-Miller, 22, is an example. A right-hander out of West Valley Community College in California, he had a three-pitch mix of fastball, slider and change-up, producing 106 strikeouts in 83 innings.

He had a scholarship to Lewis-Clark State in Idaho, but pro teams also were interested, including the Red Sox.

"We should have taken him," Epstein said, "but we waited one round too long."

Drafting late in the fifth round in 2009, Boston picked high school outfielder Seth Schwindenhammer, who is in Lowell for a second season.

Thirteen picks later, early in the sixth round, the Rockies selected Balcom-Miller.

Balcom-Miller pitched in the rookie league (1.58 ERA) that year and was cruising along in Class A in 2010 (3.31 ERA, 117 strikeouts in 108 innings).

But the Rockies were in contention last year. At the end of August, Colorado trailed in the NL West by seven games and in the wild-card race by 41/2.

The Rockies wanted to trade for a reliever and asked the Red Sox about Manny Delcarmen.

Guess who Boston wanted in return?

"You never really get over liking a kid in the draft and not getting him," Epstein said. "You tend to follow that kid. When it does come time to acquire a player, there is added comfort based on the depth of knowledge you have accumulated at the draft time. The Balcom-Miller trade is a perfect example."

The Delcarmen deal didn't work out for Colorado, which finished further behind in the standings, with no help from Delcarmen (0-2, 6.48 ERA). He was released after the season.

Meanwhile, Balcom-Miller began this season in advanced Class A Salem (3-1, 2.34) before being promoted to Portland two weeks ago where he is 1-2, with a 3.31 ERA, through four starts.

JEREMY HAZELBAKER was also in the 2009 draft, taken in the fourth round by Boston out of Ball State. He was on nobody's radar before his junior year.

At Ball State, Hazelbaker hit .246 his first two seasons, playing second base. He lost his starting job the second half of his sophomore year.

Moved to center field as a junior, Hazelbaker batted .429 with 29 stolen bases.

"My coach said I should think about getting an agent," Hazelbaker said. "I said, 'What for?' "

Scouts got interested, but the Red Sox didn't contact him until draft day. They picked him, signed him and sent him to Lowell, where he batted .135.

Hazelbaker stole 69 bases in Greenville last year, began this season in Salem and was promoted May 21 to Portland.

After playing right field in Class A, he was put in center to fill the shoes of Che-Hsuan Lin.

"He's been brought here to play center field," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "His speed projects for center. He still has to make some adjustments."

Hazelbaker is working on his reads in center.

JASON PLACE was a first-round draft pick in 2006, receiving a $1.3 million bonus. Place, who played the end of 2009 and the start of 2010 with the Sea Dogs, didn't work out. He was released in spring training. The Yankees signed him and he's now with Double-A Trenton.

Place will make his first return to Hadlock since last year when the Sea Dogs open a three-game homestand Tuesday against Trenton. Place is batting .152 (5 for 33) in his first eight games with the Thunder.

THIS DAY IS ALWAYS a good baseball day, even if the Sea Dogs are out of town. Hand dad a glove and go have a catch. Happy Father's Day.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:


Twitter: ClearTheBases


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