Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How International Baseball Players Are Doing on the Pirates

Hey guys, I’m IBAF Baseballs newest writer, Kyle Bright. I will be providing the blog with analysis of how international baseball players are doing in the major leagues. Our first team we will look at is the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Now before you laugh, the Pirates are one of the surprising teams in the league this year, contending in the NL Central. They have intriguing young talent and an abundance of international baseball players on the forty man roster, plus Brad Lincoln, a top prospect that pitched for team USA, and is good enough to be on the forty man roster. Now we will dive into the players on the Pirates roster that play international baseball.

 Jeff Karstens delivers a fastball.
Photo Credit: post-gazette.com

Jeff Kartens
International Credentials:  Ace for Team USA in Baseball World Cup, which the USA won.

What is Happening Now: Kartens is enjoying the best season of his professional career, with a chance at an all-star game if he pitched in a bigger market. He has a 2.66 ERA and a WHIP around one, but his record of only 4-4 is a product of Pittsburgh’s anemic offense.  Besides this being the best season of his career, he appears to have locked down a full time starting job for the first time in his career. After being a top prospect in the Yankees organization, he moved onto Pittsburgh and seems to have found a solid home in the major leagues, with an organization that is willing to take on disappointments like Karstens, Charlie Morton, and Brandon Wood.

Joel Hanrahan chills at the World Baseball Classic in Miami.
Photo Credit: flickr.com

Joel Hanrahan
International Credentials: Pitched for team USA during the World Baseball Classic in 2009.

What is Happening Now: Hanrahan is also enjoying the best season of his professional career. He is supposedly garnering the interest of several teams to trade for at the trade deadline, but there is no indication that the Pirates are willing to sell. Hanrahan is a perfect 22 for 22 in save opportunities. His ERA is 1.27 and he will more than likely make the all-star team for the first time in his career. He is a hard throwing right hander that is on the upswing in his career. Pirates fans hope the team keeps him as opposed to what the Bucs did with Matt Capps, cutting him when he was eligible for arbitration.

Andrew McCutchen is turning into one of the best players in the game.
Photo Credit: thebackwardsk.tumblr.com

Andrew McCutchen
International Credentials: Played on the 2004 junior team, where he hit only .133.

What is Happening Now: McCutchen is rising star for the Pirates a speedster who can also hit for pop and is a very good fielder. He is on pace to join the 20/20 club, and is surprisingly adept at drawing walks, at 3rd in the national league. He is only in his third season, and is already the best and most complete player on his team. His performance continues to astound, along with his uncanny consistency. Many Pirates fans figure he could end up on the Yankees in a few years, and he certainly may be good enough. He is a five tool player, the type scouts love to rave about. He has the speed, power, fielding, arm, and ability to hit for average. Andrew McCutchen has great upside. Hopefully someday he will play for regular team USA, not just the Junior team.

Pedro Alvarez plays for team USA.
Photo Credit: reclinergm.com

Pedro Alvarez
International Credentials: Has played for team USA several times, including the 2007 Pan American Games.

What is Happening Now: Pedro is the first of the Pirates international baseball players that is trending down in terms of production and career outlook. The former 2nd overall pick in the draft is hitting just .208 this year. He has been out for an extended period of time, and is not expected to return before the all-star break. Not that the Pirates miss his production, or lack thereof. He is a poor fielder and does not run well, making his hitting the way he must contribute. But when he is not being productive at the plate, he harms the team, and that is what is going on with the Pirates. He also strikes out a lot, lessening his chances of getting hits. He struck out 42 times in 125 at bats this year, a very high percentage. Alvarez needs to work hard in the future, although he was only drafted a couple of years ago, so he has time.

 Neil Walker is a rare second basemen because he gets so many RBIs.
Photo Credit: cloudfantasy.com

Neil Walker
International Credentials:

What is happening Now: Walker was the 3rd pick in the amateur player draft many years back, and struggled to find a position in the minor leagues. He is a good story because he is a Pittsburgh native, and he is on pace for over 100 RBIs this year. He is not the best fielder, which is why he was forced to stay in the minors for years, when his hitting was more than ready to play in the major leagues. Of late, however, Walker has struggled, hitting just .229 in June, which has dropped his average all the way down around .250. He is still having a good year considering how some second bsaemen hit in this league, so he will probably have a long and very good career.

So that was a recap of the main Pittsburgh Pirates that have played international baseball. We will try to do a series on each team, but, as you can see, that may take a while.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sorry I haven't wrote in a while ... I will be on here everyday discussing the upcomig tournaments. Best time of the year, international Baseball Season.
So the 2011 World Port Tournament will start June 23. Now, I can guarantee you that this one won't be televised, but it's still the first major tournament with some interesting teams.

Chinese Taipei - Never count them out. They may not be a fan favorite but they always play consistent baseball. There's a reason there 5th in the world, even though their results in big tournaments have made them less dominant. (Hey, back to back losses to China in the Olympics and the WBC?!) But this is the type of competition they shine in.

Cuba - It's almost robotic. It's been 12 years since they have not won this tournament, and a 5-peat is likely. But the other teams are definitely gaining ground. Again however, this is the tournament that they shine in.

Curacao (Netherlands Antilles) - Now, as you know, I usually pull for the Netherlands in every tournament possible. But, not this time. I have no idea how Curacao is going to do. I'll be honest. Their last major tournament, the 2009 Baseball World Cup had Mixed results. (Wins over Korea, but getting blown out by Canada and Australia) But for whatever reason, they were left out of qualifying for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which bothers me. Teams like Israel, whose only claim to fame is a league that lasted three or four years before folding. Or Thailand, who have went into tournaments with a two-man starting rotation and just five pitchers on their rosters. That is not a typo. So, you know, I'm rooting for these guys.

Germany - Another one of my favorites, Germany is still the most up-and-coming. They are now preparing to shock the world at the 2012 WBC Qualifying. Never count them out. Also, I just noticed that their best player, Ludwig Glaser, was kept off their roster. I do not know why yet, but in order to compete they will need offense from the likes of Dominik Wulf, Simon Guhring, and Jendrick Speer.

Netherlands - I'm going to make a statement and predict them as the winners. I know, it's bold, but they do have the home turf. This is a team that has gotten younger, and it is actually a lot different from the 2009 team. To beat the mighty Cubans, they will need production out of there proven stars, Sidney de Jong, Bryan Engelhardt, and Gene Kingsale.

My Prediction:
1. Netherlands
2. Cuba
3. Chinese Taipei
4. Germany
5. Curacao

On the Rise:
Simon Guhring (Germany)

On the Decline:
Gene Kingsale (Netherlands)

Good luck to everyone