Tag:Juan Nicasio
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:43 pm
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Rockies' Nicasio takes a big step forward

Juan Nicasio

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Spring outings are rarely anything to get worked up about, much less a performance in an intrasquad game. But the Rockies' intrasquad game on Sunday had one of the best performances we'll see this spring.

Colorado right-hander Juan Nicasio threw two scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing two hits and hitting a batter. He also hit 97 on the radar gun, while consistently throwing 93-95 and threw 27 strikes in his 35 pitches, according to the Denver Post.

What makes all that different than all the other outings around baseball is that Nicasio was making his first start since suffering a broken neck last August after being hit in the head by a line drive.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he was encouraged by the way Nicasio, who could win a spot in the team's rotation, handled himself on Sunday.

"We will see more when he throws against another club," Tracy told the newspaper. "But obviously one of the things we were looking for was his reaction as he goes to throw the pitch -- meaning, is he going to finish the pitch? Or is he going to start fielding his position too soon to protect himself? Will you see some recoil or something like that? But there was absolutely none of that."

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Rockies won't limit Nicasio in spring training

Juan Nicasio

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Want a feel-good story? How about Juan Nicasio?

The Rockies' right-hander suffered a broken neck last August when he was hit by an Ian Desmond liner. Not only is Nicasio in camp with the Rockies, he's in line for a spot in the team's rotation.

"I am one of those people that didn't think we would be talking about him on Feb. 16 on how he has a very, very good chance to be a member of our rotation. But that's where we are at," Rockies manager Jim Tracy told Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "He's coming into camp with the mindset that he's making the team."

Tracy said Nicasio will have no limitations this spring and will even participate in the team's "ragball drills" where pitchers are graded on their ability to field comebackers.

As a rookie in 2012, Nicasio was 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 starts, dominating at Coors Field where he was 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in seven starts (and 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts away from Coors).

The Rockies are set at the top of their rotation with Jeremy Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin, but after that, the final three rotation spots are up for grabs. As Matt Snyder pointed out last week, there's plenty of candidates, with few answers. Among those gunning for a spot in the rotation in addition to Nicasio are Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Guillermo Moscoso, Tyler Chatwood, Josh Outman and Jamie Moyer.

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 7:38 am
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Spring position battles: National League West



By Matt Snyder


We are finally just a few short weeks away from spring training beginning, so let's continue looking at some positional battles that will unfold through February and March. Monday, we looked at the AL West and now it's time to look at the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks
None: None yet.

I understand this probably comes off as a bit lame, but look at the D-Backs depth chart and tell me where there are any legitimate battles. From the starting lineup to the rotation to the bullpen, it would appear the defending NL West champs have very few question marks heading into the 2012 season. I would keep an eye on last year's first-round pick, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (maybe pushing Josh Collmenter to the long relief role at some point in June or July?), but it's very doubtful he fits in the rotation out of spring. He got knocked around (7.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) in four Double-A starts last season. So I've got nothing here. They are already set.

San Francisco Giants
First Base: Aubrey Huff vs. Brandon Belt

Is it time to pass the torch yet? The Giants had no patience with Belt last season, as the 23-year-old prospect was shipped back to the minors in April after just 60 plate appearances. He came back to stay in the middle of July, hitting .231/.296/.469 the rest of the way, but that was only in 142 plate appearances. And he did show good power, hitting eight homers in that stretch. In 111 career Triple-A games, Belt has a .441 on-base percentage and 20 home runs. Meanwhile, Huff is 35 and coming off a season where he hit .246/.306/.370 with just 12 homers in 579 plate appearances. With the additions of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, it's unlikely the Giants shove Belt back in the outfield initially, so they must make a decision here. Do they leave Belt in Triple-A again, where he's proven he's a stud, have him ride pine in the bigs, or just move on past Huff and let Belt have the job?

Shorstop: Ryan Theriot vs. Brandon Crawford vs. Mike Fontenot

The 25-year-old Crawford is easily the best defender of this group, but at some point the Giants will need some offense. Crawford is a career .234/.291/.327 hitter in Triple-A. In 220 big-league plate appearances, Crawford hit .204/.288/.296 last season, so he's a complete offensive liability. Ryan Theriot hit .271 with a .321 OBP last year, and he also has no power. He does, however, have a career .282 average and .344 OBP. Fontenot hit only .227/.304/.377 last season, but he certainly has the most power of the trio here. Basically, there isn't really a good choice, but there's still one to be made. Of note: Fontenot and Crawford hit left handed, so maybe Theriot ends up platooning with one of them.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Left Field: Jerry Sands vs. Tony Gwynn Jr. vs. Juan Rivera

Did Sands' month of September give the Dodgers confidence he's ready to take over in left right away? It's possible. After hitting pretty poorly in his stint earlier in the season, Sands hit .342/.415/.493 with two homers, nine RBI and five doubles in 83 plate appearances in the last month. He's only 24, but he's also hit for great power in Triple-A (29 home runs in 418 plate appearances in Albuquerque last year). This one is all about him, with Gwynn being the backup option and Rivera being the desperation option.

Closer: Javy Guerra vs. Kenley Jansen

Guerra is the incumbent and successfully converted 21 of 23 save chances last season. He's only 26 and posted a 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in his 46 2/3 innings last season, too. So he's the obvious closer, right? I'm not so sure. The 6-foot-5 Jansen is only 24 and has elite closer written all over him. He had a rough start, but from June on, Jansen posted a 0.55 ERA, 0.67 WHIP with four saves, seven holds and zero blown saves. His stuff is nasty, as he struck out 96 hitters in 53 2/3 innings on the season. It looks like the sky is the limit, so would the Dodgers really leave him in the eighth inning due to Guerra's 2011 performance?

Colorado Rockies
No. 3-5 starting pitchers: Alex White vs. Drew Pomeranz vs. Juan Nicasio vs. Guillermo Moscoso vs. Tyler Chatwood vs. Josh Outman vs. Jamie Moyer

After stockpiling pitchers the entire offseason, it wasn't too surprising to see the Rockies trade away both Kevin Slowey and Jason Hammel. Of course, they got back Jeremy Guthrie and still have an absurd logjam behind Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin. And Jorge De La Rosa will be back at some point later in the season (he had Tommy John surgery last June). White and Pomeranz are both young and inexperienced enough to justify more time in Triple-A, but they probably have the best stuff of anyone on the list. Chatwood got plenty of MLB experience last season, but he's still only 22 and his numbers weren't good. It's hard not to root for Nicasio, as he's coming back from a broken neck. He made some good starts for Colorado last summer, too. Outman's never really shown more than mediocrity and Moyer is 49. I very much like Moscoso's chances,  for one, as he's 28 and had a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP last season for Oakland. The ballpark difference in home games will be bad, but the NL West has fewer fearful hitters than the AL West and some spacious parks. So I'll officially predict Moscoso gets in, but beyond him, it's a complete toss up.

San Diego Padres
Catcher: Nick Hundley vs. John Baker vs. Yasmani Grandal

Hundley has had parts of four seasons to prove himself. Last season, he did hit well, with a .288/.347/.477 line, but injuries limited him to just 82 games. His career high, due to many different circumstances, is 85. The 31-year-old Baker has had the past couple seasons ruined due to an arm injury (Tommy John surgery and rehab took out nearly all of last season), but back in 2008-09 he hit .281/.364/.423 for the Marlins. The two could actually platoon, because Baker hits lefty while Hundley hits righty. Grandal, though, has loads of talent. He was the Reds' first rounder in 2010, is a switch hitter and has a career minor-league line of .303/.401/.488. He's only played four games in Triple-A, though, so he'd probably have to go nuts with his bat in the spring to get a shot out of the gate. The smart money is on the Padres going with Hundley as the primary starter, Baker as a backup who sees a good amount of playing time and Grandal spending most of the season in Triple-A. Maybe even a platoon with Hundley and Baker. Still, there's enough here for a potentially good three-way battle this spring. And you never know on Grandal. He jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011 and his experience before that was just eight Rookie League games in 2010. Maybe he's one of those guys that doesn't need much minor-league seasoning.

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:53 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 11:57 am
 

Rockies' Nicasio on comeback from broken neck



By Matt Snyder


Here's a heart-warming story for you on this Tuesday. Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio -- who broke his neck last season -- is on the comeback trail. In fact, he's on track to compete for a job in the starting rotation come spring training.

"He's been throwing to hitters with an L screen (that provides protection)," said Rolando Fernandez, the Rockies' director of Latin America operations (DenverPost.com). "He's doing good."

Nicasio broke his C1 vertebra on August 5 last season when he violently fell to the ground after being struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond. Nicasio was forced to undergo surgery -- in which doctors put in a metal plate to stabilize the neck -- and was then placed in a cervical collar. He quickly began to progress shortly thereafter, though, getting back all his movements and walking within the next few weeks. And he's now facing hitters, albeit with the benefit of L-screen protection.

The next step, which may very well prove more tough mentally than physically, will be for Nicasio to face hitters without the benefit of the L screen in spring training. Rockies' pitchers and catchers report to camp on February 19, so he still has over five weeks to prepare.

Nicasio, 25, was 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings last season as a rookie. He was very impressive in Double-A (5-1, 2.22 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.0 K/9) before injuries in the Rockies' rotation forced him to be promoted.

The Rockies currently have Jhoulys Chacin and Jason Hammel pretty firmly entrenched in the starting rotation. After that, Nicasio figures to be competing with Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Kevin Slowey, Tyler Chatwood, Clayton Mortensen and Esmil Rogers for one of three spots.

While it would be a stretch to say Nicasio is one of the physical favorites, he's gotta be the sentimental favorite.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 4, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: December 4, 2011 7:25 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Colorado Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Building a team in Colorado has been a bit of a conundrum throughout the Rockies' brief history -- the offensive numbers will come in the elevation, while pitchers have to be homegrown because free agent pitchers aren't exactly lining up to play in the high altitude.

Lineup

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Seth Smith, RF
3. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Todd Helton, 1B
6. Juan Uribe, 3B
7. Chris Iannetta, C
8. Clint Barmes, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Ubaldo Jimenez
2. Jhoulys Chacin
3. Jake Westbrook
4. Aaron Cook
5. Jeff Francis

Bullpen

Closer - Franklin Morales
Set up - Luis Ayala, Jamey Wright, Pedro Strop, Edgmer Escalona, Rex Brothers, Matt Reynolds
Long - Juan Nicasio

Notable Bench Players

Wilin Rosario and Josh Bard give this team a good stable of catchers, while Everth Cabrera, Chone Figgins, Ian Stewart, Juan Pierre and Ryan Spilborghs give the team some veratile players in the field, with Brad Hawpe perhaps the best bat off the bench.

What's Good?

The lineup's going to score some runs, that's for sure. Especially in Colorado, having a 3-4 of Tulowitzki and Holliday is going to be impressive. Of course, there's not Carlos Gonzalez, so it's pretty much even compared to the regular team. The team is strong up the middle defensively, which it will need...

What's Not?

The pitching staff is similar to what we saw in real life in 2011, with Chacin leading the way and Jimenez struggling before being traded. Westbrook helps, but you have to remember he wasn't even on the Cardinals' playoff roster for the first two rounds and pitched two innings in the World Series. The bullpen is deep, but not overpowering.

Comparison to real 2011

The wheels fell off the Rockies in 2011, with the team going a disappointing 73-89. The offense on this team is similar, while the pitching (especially the bullpen) is not as good -- that formula adds up to another losing season and probably a 90-loss season.

Next: Arizona Diamondbacks

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 9:54 am
 

Pepper: Thome's quiet run to the Hall of Fame

Jim Thome

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I don't think there's any doubt Jim Thome will be in the Hall of Fame, but I did find it interesting that my wife had never heard of Thome.

The guy hits 600 home runs and the wife of someone whose life revolves around baseball had never heard of him. How is that possible? I thought chicks dug the long ball. 

Much of it, I guess, is that my wife is a National League kinda gal -- having been born in raised in  Braves country and now living in Cincinnati, the wife doesn't see much American League or even pay much attention to it. But still, Jim Thome?  I went through the teams -- Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins -- nope, not a flicker of recognition. The 1995 World Series when the Braves won? Well, He did only go 4 for 19 in the series.

It seems strange that she'd never heard of him, but it also seems to jibe with the relative silence of Thome's march to 600. Is it because Thome has always just been a quiet professional? He's never been in trouble, never even pounded his own chest. He's just been quietly hitting home runs and doing his job, day in and day out.

It's not that he's never been on the biggest stage, he's played in 67 postseason games and made it to two World Series, hitting one homer in 1995 and two in the '97 Series.

My friend Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has a funny theory of the Hall of Fame -- for him it's all about the fame. If his mother has heard of someone, they belong. If she hasn't, no. So for KG's Hall of Fame, Paul Molitor is out, but Jose Canseco is in. Rod Carew? Nope. Bo Jackson, yes. I'm pretty sure Thome doesn't hit the fame standard, but he certainly belongs in the Hall.

Here's a couple of better articles putting his candidacy in perspective -- Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated has the backstory of Thome's bat point at the pitcher and other things in a great blog post and Steven Goldman has the argument against Thome being a mere "compiler."

Meals in Pittsburgh: Umpire Jerry Meals made his first appearance at PNC Park in Pittsburgh since his bad call that cost the Pirates a 19-inning game against the Braves. As you would expect, he was not greeted kindly by Pirates fans. Since the call, the Pirates have lost 15 of 19 and fallen from a tie for first place to fourth place in the National League Central. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Silly deadline: I understand why there's a deadline for signing draft picks and I even understand why it's in August, but I don't understand why it's at midnight. I talked to a scouting director on Sunday (and because it wasn't the Blue Jays' scouting director, he signed his first-round guy) and he said there's zero movement until late on Monday. On Sunday, there'd been no movement, but because these things go down to the wire, why not make move the wire up to a reasonable hour? How about 5 p.m. so you can announce it before a game and have everything all tidy? They've done that with the trade deadline, now with the increased focus on the draft, they need to do it on the signing deadline.

Full moon in Cooperstown: Did Robin Yount give Bert Blyleven an unusual greeting to the Hall of Fame? [FanGraphs.com

Scranton is nice in September: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said it's unlikely the team would call up top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos when rosters expand in September. [New York Post]

Nicasio visits teammates: Juan Nicasio, who suffered a broken neck on Aug. 5, visited his Rockies teammates before Monday's game in Denver. Closer Houston Street told the Denver Post that Nicasio was "full of life," smiling and laughing with teammates. 

Career cut short: A Padres  prospect had to retire from baseball at 22 because of an inner-ear problem. Read all about Drew Cumberland. [Pensacola News-Journal]

Another good guy: This seems to fit with the Thome celebration, but if Thome's not the nicest guy in the game, Torii Hunter may be. Like Thome, I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about Hunter. In fact, I have a sportswriter friend who has a long list of people he doesn't like, but he named his dog Torii in honor of Hunter. Here's a good story about one of the good guys from ESPN.com's Jim Caple.

Read this: A really good story this weekend from the New York Daily News about baseball and Sept. 11. Go read it.

It's gotta be the shoes: Evan Longoria's new spikes have made a huge difference for the Rays' third baseman. [MLB.com]

Literary touch: I've only been to Safeco once (well, three games, one series), so I don't know all the ins and outs. I will say I love the park, but maybe even more so after seeing this from the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham -- the park has baseball-themed quotations on all its gates to the park. That's just so darn cool.

Murph blogs: One of the most interesting baseball blogs around right now is from former MVP Dale Murphy, who is enjoying blogging and Twitter. [New York Times]

New caps: Gone, apparently, are the ugly stars and stripes trucker caps to make a buck, and in their place for Sept. 11 will be simple American flag patches. It's certainly an improvement, but still not sure why everyone needs to be reminded what country they live in -- shouldn't the butchered version of the Star Spangled Banner by some American Idol-wannabe before the game be enough? 

New caps 2: That said, I do think it's cool that the Nationals will wear a cap with the Navy SEALs logo tonight to honor the 22 SEALs killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 6. It's the Nationals' first game back in Washington since the attack. [Washington Post]

Odd sight: There was something odd on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio -- empty seats. Home of professional sports' longest sellout streak, Dayton's Fifth Third Field had empty seats on Sunday as the Dragons and Lake County Captains played a continuation of Tuesday's suspended game was played before the regularly scheduled Sunday game. However, once that game started, the Dragons had their 832nd consecutive sellout. [Dayton Daily News]

Step back for Carter: Sad news today, as Gary Carter learned of a "mild step backward" on Monday, as a doctor's visit revealed his white blood cell count was low, which means he won't be able to start a scheduled round of chemotherapy that he was supposed to start today. [ESPN.com]

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 2:43 pm
 

Juan Nicasio on mend from broken neck

NicasioBy Evan Brunell

Juan Nicasio, who broke the C1 vertebrae in his neck when a line drive caromed off his head, is making incremental progress on the road to recovery.

"He's definitely moving in the right direction," manager Jim Tracy told the Denver Post.

While Nicasio remains in the hospital, he has been able to move around for the second straight day and spoke to his mother on Monday, which reportedly calmed the right-hander down. Rockies trainer Keith Dugger has remained with Nicasio and will do so through Wednesday night. Dugger is also in contact with Nicasio's family in the Dominican Republic, along with a translator. His mother, Aurelia Prado, has received a passport and is working on a visa to visit her son.

The 24-year-old rookie was hit by a line drive off the bat of Ian Desmond on Friday to lead off the second inning with a 0-1 count. It was Nicasio's 13th start of the year. On the year, the righty has been a pleasant surprise with a 4.14 ERA in 71 1/3 innings, striking out 58 and walking 18.

"He has such a love for the game. He is always smiling," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. "He's a good kid. We are all pulling for him."

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

Millwood to start for Rockies on Wednesday

Kevin MillwoodBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After starting 16 games for three different minor-league teams in two different systems, 36-year-old right-hander Kevin Millwood will start his first big league game of 2011 with a different team. Millwood will start for the Rockies on Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Millwood started the season with the Yankees organization before requesting a release on May 1. He was then signed by the Red Sox and asked for his release from Boston following Friday's game for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Millwood was headed home before he got the call from Rockies -- "I re-routed my flight to La Guardia and I am here," Millwood told Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

The Rockies needed another starter after Juan Nicasio underwent neck surgery after being hit by a comebacker in Friday's game against the Nationals. He will start in Nicasio's spot against Cincinnati's Mike Leake. He's 2-2 with a 6.33 ERA in four career starts at Great American Ball Park.

Millwood was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA last season for the Orioles and was 7-2 with a 4.32 ERA in the minor leagues this season.

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