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Foppert, Two LHP Prospects Make ’06 Debuts

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on April 10, 2006

Righthander Jesse Foppert makes his season debut tonight as the Tacoma Rainiers host the Sacramento River Cats.

Foppert, 25, was impressive during spring training until his final outing in which he had trouble finding the strike zone. A year ago, the Bay Area native combined for 62 1/3 innings for Class A San Jose, and Class AAA Fresno and Tacoma. He allowed just 58 hits and struck out 63 batters, but issued 41 walks.

He'll face a solid lineup filled with patient left-handed bats, including Daric Barton, Oakland's top prospect. Barton has power and advanced plate skills, matching the organizational philosophy. Outfielder Bobby Kielty, a switch hitter, shortstop Mike Rouse and outfielder Mark Watson form a tough bunch of hitters for Foppert.

He'll have to throw strikes with his fastball and at least one of his offspeed pitches, particularly his change up, if he wishes to hang around past thre first few innings. Sacramento will not help Foppert by swinging at pitches out of the zone. If Foppert escapes tonight's game with a solid line, he'll have earned it and it'll mean something.

Down in San Antonio, 20-year-old lefthander Ryan Feierabend makes his first start of the season, facing the Midland Rockhounds, another of the Athletics' farm clubs – and yes, more patient lefthanded bats.

Feierabend went 8-7 for Inland Empire last season, posting the second best ERA in the CAlifornia League at age 19. he fanned 122 and walked 51, but allowed 186 hits.


The M's third rounder in 2003 stands 6-foot-4 and has an improving fastball that currently sits 87-90 but has the potential to ultimately land consistently in the low 90s. Feierabend made strides last summer with his curve ball and his though his change still needs a few years of seasoning, he's making solid progress and could turn into a No. 3 starter.

In Double-A, he faces a tough challenge; Hitters with an average of three years of pro experience and a median age of around 23 – three years Feierabend's senior. He'll need to produce more consistent strikes early in the count and stay aggressive with his offspeed stuff, or he'll get battered all season long.

If Feierabend puts up an ERA under 4.5 for the year, it's a successful season. It'd be nice to see his get through five tonight, but if he limits the walks and doesn't rely on his pickoff move to save him from long innings, it's a nice start.

Lefty Jose Escalona makes his affiliated debut tonight for Wisconsin. He's a bit undersized at 5-11 and 170 pounds, but he's armed with a 87-91 mph fastball and a slider that some scouts see as a potential plus pitch.

Escalona spent the past two seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League, including the 2005 season where he posted a 1.18 ERA in 11 starts. he worked 53 1/3 innings and struck out 59 batters. He held hitters to a .204 average.

Escalona, along with last night's starter, Marwin Vega, are two arms to watch for the future.

Five Other Things to Watch on Monday Night: Shin-soo Choo in the lead off spot for Tacoma; If he can continue to get on base, run, hit for 15-homer, 30-double type power, he may have a future in the M's organization… Oswaldo Navarro's offensive production in San Antonio… the only question about Navarro is his bat.  He's made decent progress over the past few seasons and may play his way into the future of the club, even if it's as a reserve middle infielder.  Think Ramon Santiago with even more range and a slightly better bat – if things continue to go right for the Venezuelan Navarro.

Tomorrow:  I'm going to go into depth about the potential of Cha Seung Baek and temper the excitement that some may be having since his strong spring and first start of the year may be forging.



15 Responses to “Foppert, Two LHP Prospects Make ’06 Debuts”

  1. What ya talkin’ bout with Baek, eh? I’ll reiterate what I just said in the previous post:

    Baek is BACK!!!!11!!!eins!!1??!?!!

    Okay, or not. It’ll take a pretty darn good first half of the season (at least) before I’m able to make it to a Baek appearance without my gag reflexes totally going haywire. I go back to when Lorraine came in during the final game at Cheney last year (the PCL title game). I was sitting in the very front row behind home plate, and I shouted at Lorraine: “Hey Lorraine! You better get this guy out — Baek’s warming up, and he’s going to lose it for ya!”

  2. dnc said

    I’m excited to see how Escalona does. One of my favorite parts of the start of minor league baseball is watching the foreign kids and seeing how their talent and makueup holds up here. Vega and Escalona are two I will be watching very closely for the next couple of months.

  3. Toss outfielder Eddy Hernandez on that list, Dnc, as well as Edgar Guaramato, who was in Everett last year.

  4. JH said

    Ron Garth still at 3B today even though Valbuena’s the DH. Do you know whether the Ms still plan to use him at second this year, Jason? He was alternating between 2B and 3B in minor league camp.

    I’m really interested to see what Eddy Hernandez is capable of this year. He’s got a pretty sweet-lookin swing and a lot of room to add muscle onto that frame.

  5. Garth will play both 2b AND 3b, but any real future he has is at second. His bat doesn’t project to play very well anywhere else.

    Hernandez has some potential power. One scout says he may turn into Wlad Balentien with better plate discpline. I’m not convinced he’ll have that sorta raw ability in the homer department. But he’s interesting, defensively, too.

  6. JH said

    Yeah, that’s why I was wondering if the shift to 3B would be permanent. He didn’t look like he’d have much more than gap power to me. Potentially interesting at second, but definitely not a promising 3B prospect.

  7. dnc said

    Agreed about Hernandez and Guaramoto, but both of those kids played in the US last year (I think – wasn’t Hernandez at Peoria?). I am watching them anxiously, along with many other prospects, but my favorite kids to watch are the ones making their first appearance in the US.

    I remember a couple of years ago when everyone was hyping Everett’s number one starter – a lefty named Victor Ramirez. Kid was supposed to have major league stuff, and i couldn’t wait to see how he did. He dissapointed, and fell off the map. We had to settle for another Venezuelan import stealing the show and hitting the fast track.

    I guess Felix has turned out okay.


    Just shows the volatile nature of shipping kids thousands of miles from home and into a different culture. Some respond, some don’t. But it’s always interesting, at least to me.

  8. J said

    Been listening to the T-Rats feed… Escalona hasn’t been quite as dominating as Vega was, he’s yet to have a 1-2-3 inning, but Beloit seems to be a better team than Peoria was, so I think I’ll cut him some slack. I don’t recall hearing any gun readings thus far, but he has been throwing a curve quite a bit, which has bit the dust and gotten a few guys swinging. He was throwing quite a few strikes early on, but he’s been missing more and more lately. He’s not accustomed to pitching this early and has a career high of 53.1 IP for any one year, so I’m interested to see how he translates endurance-wise, both in terms of getting deep into games and his overall innings total by the end of the season.


    Sadly, Garth hasn’t been able to buy a hit early this season. Hernandez has done all right, aside from his defense, which has been a little shaky at times.

  9. I was never hyping Ramirez, that’s for sure. He was just a toolsy pitcher with some potential but never had the smarts or the work ethic to do anything with it.

  10. dnc said

    I was unfamiliar with the DiamondGenius at that time (and USSM as well). Between the two of you, my knowledge of minor league prospects and potential has increased 30 fold.

    I can’t thank you enough, Jason.

  11. That’s what I’m here for, Dnc.

    I’ll have a full wrap-up later tonight. Got some good stuff on Foppert and Feierabend from a couple of scouts and a Mariners player development rep. and saw some really good things in Tacoma.

  12. dnc said

    Looking forward to it.

    BTW – dnc is short for dawgncarolina, just so ya’ll know. πŸ˜‰

  13. I assumed.

    Wrap-up on its way.

  14. Willmore said

    I’m no technique expert, but that first picture of Foppert looks very awkward to me. Doesn’t that put tremendous stress on the knees and ankles ?

  15. That’s just an awkward photo, Willmore. Split second freeze frame.

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