You may have seen a transaction this week where the Phillies released righthanded pitcher Adrian Alaniz from their Single-A Florida State League affiliate.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Alaniz, 27, is a former eighth-round pick of the Nationals in 2007. In four minor league seasons - mostly in Single-A ball - Alaniz went 30-15 with an ERA under 3.50. The Nats released him after last season, when he was a combined 9-4 with a 2.52 ERA between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Presumably, his age was a factor in the decision, in that a number of other younger pitching prospects had moved past him on the organizational depth chart. That, and his failure to thrive above Single-A. His Double-A stats aren't really terrible, but he never showed the same success against that level hitter.
It's very easy to get stoked over some minor league prospects. Fans do it on a daily basis, simply because those minor league stats are now readily available, and also because many fans believe that stats alone tell the whole story. They tell an important part of the story, but the big picture involves so much more than numbers.
Nothing will change insofar as those things are concerned. It's the nature of the fan, circa 2011. It's why many fans will always believe that the manager can't manage when his team starts to lose, and why a pitcher with the most W's must be the best.
Maybe someone will give Alaniz another shot, but in general, when you're released from Single-A ball at 27, it's time to find another line of work. He's a University of Texas at Austin graduate, so hopefully that degree will come in handy.