Posted on: February 1, 2008 4:59 am

Top Shortstops Under 23

Unfortunately, Troy Tulowitzki turned 23 in October, which is a bit of a bummer.  He'd clearly be #1.  Regardless, there are some good prospects at this premium defensive position.  There's even a Royal here!

1. Reid Brignac, Rays, 1/16/1986

Brignac has most everything you'd want from a shortstop prospect.  He hasn't shown the plate discipline he had in the low minors though since he moved up to AA.  He may need another couple years in the minors to complete his development, but his power and speed is already present.

527 AB, .260/.328/.433 17 HR, 15 SB, 5 CS

2. Mike Moustakas, Royals, 9/11/1988

Amazingly, the Royals actually drafted this guy.  Even more amazingly, they signed this guy.  He was the top hitter in last year's draft, and set the California record for home runs with 52 in his HS career.  The guy's even a good pitcher, so his arm will play well at short.  He's a bit stocky and may need to move off of short, but I actually think he's got a chance to stick there.  He was great in his pro debut, and should move quickly, seeing the majors sometime in 2010.

Rookie stats: 41 AB, .293/.383/.439

3. Elvis Andrus, Rangers, 8/26/1988

A defense-first shortstop, Andrus should be a nice player.  He's never going to hit for power, though, so he's going to need to improve his plate discipline.  His .338 obp from last season isn't going to cut it.

HiA Stats: .257/.338/.343, 40 SB, 15 CS

4. Carlos Triunfel, Mariners, 2/27/1990

He was only 17 in his debut, so it's hard to say how much of what he did last year will stick with him as he develops.  Still, he showed no power, no patience, and got caught stealing more times than he stole bases.  He's a good prospect, but he's so far away and hasn't shown enough to warrant his promotion to HiA.

HiA stats:  371 AB,.296/.333/367 17 BB, 57 SO, 7 SB, 12 CS
Posted on: January 29, 2008 9:04 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2008 2:02 am

Top Third Basemen Under 23

After the last two positions where pickings were slim, we get some good choices here--and that's despite the fact that we just miss out on a bunch of very nice players. Here are the young players and prospects that are just out of reach: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals; Alex Gordon, Royals; Brandon Wood, Angels; Chase Headley, Padres; Andy LaRoche, Dodgers; Ryan Braun, Brewers.

That said, the position is still deep in prospects. There are two ML-ready players under 23, and two very, very strong prospects that are extremely young still.

1. Evan Longoria, Rays, 10/7/85, 22

He's the #1 prospect in the #1 farm system. Do I really need to say more? Longoria looks to be a .300/30/100 player when he matures. Note: that would put him in hall of fame territory, if he stays healthy. He's really that good. He's not fast, but he has great footwork, hands and good arm strength, and therefore should be above average defensively.

Basically, if you were going to start your team around a young third baseman, I'd pick him before any of the guys above--including Ryan Braun (who's no longer a 3b, anyway).

2. Ian Stewart, Rockies, 4/5/85

Stewart's become the forgotten man, he's been the top 3b prospect for so long. Unfortunately, he struggled a bit in AA, but seemed to recover nicely in AAA last year. He's ready for the majors, but with Garrett Atkins ahead of him, one of them will have to be traded, or Stewart's going to have to settle in at second.

3. Josh Vitters, Cubs, 8/27/89, 18

Vitters basically looks a lot like Longoria, although much farther from the majors and much less of a sure thing. Still, he looks to be very good for a very long time.

4. Angel Villalona, Giants, 8/13/90, 17

Sorry Giants fans, he won't help out for a while. That said, he was impressive as a 16yo in rookie league. He may end up as a first baseman, though, as he fills out. He hit .285 w/ a .450 slugging percentage. Did I mention he was 16? And by the way, he was 16.
Posted on: January 29, 2008 7:50 am
Edited on: January 29, 2008 10:17 am

Top Second Basemen Under 23

Like first base, second base is often manned by former shortstop prospects converted late in their minor league careers over to second base. Usually, the ones moved there have weaker arms that play better at second than at short. As such, you'll very rarely see the very best prospects at second until they're close to the majors, or the player gets moved after a couple of years where they start to struggle with their range.

Given this, there's a remarkable lack of upper level second base prospects out there right now, after having seen Dustin Pedroia graduate to the majors last year.  Most of the other prospects are older, such as new Royal Alberto Callaspo.

1. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians, 11/13/1985, 22

The first choice is not difficult at all. If I had to pick between Dustin Pedroia and Asdrubal Cabrera before the 2007 season, I'd have taken Cabrera. Pedroia's 2007 stats with Boston were not projected at all. He performed better in the majors with Boston than he did in AAA Pawtucket the year prior. Ah, the joys of the green monster (Pedroia had a .912 ops at home, .729 ops on the road -- largely due to the 11 extra doubles hit at Fenway which would be fly outs elsewhere). Assuming I'm building a team that will play its games outside of a park with a giant formerly green monster in left field, I'd still pick Cabrera over Pedroia.

On that same note, it appears, at least so far, that Jacobs (err, I mean sellout, err, no, wait, Progressive) field doesn't suit Cabrera so well. Cabrera's splits are the opposite of Pedroia's: .710 at home, .828 on the road. The sample size is pretty small though, so let's see what happens next year.

ML Stats: 159 AB .283/.354/.421 101 OPS+

2. Tony Thomas, Cubs, 7/10/1986, 21

Thomas is one of those rarest of players, a guy who's a prospect as a 2nd baseman. Alas, that also means that he's just average at the position. I think there's hope there though. He's got tremendous speed, having swiped 28 bases on 30 attempts. He just needs to turn that speed into range. With his bat, you can bet that the Cubs will try everything they can to get him to improve defensively. Speaking of his bat, there's really nothing negative to say there. He's got good plate discipline, fast hands, and good power. He should be the Cubs starting second baseman in 2-3 years.

SS Stats: .308/.404/.544 28 SB, 2 CS

3. Damon Sublett, Yankees, 9/22/1985, 22

This pick is more about the lack of prospects at the position than as strong of an endorsement of Sublett as it seems. Don't get me wrong, Sublett's a nice prospect, but he's certainly blocked in the Yankees system in favor of Robinson Cano. Plus, he played in short season Staten Island last year, and at 21 he is expected to perform well at that level. He's just average defensively, but he's good enough to stick at second.

That said, he had the second best OPS among second basemen in the minors last year (#1 was Jared Goedert, an Indians prospect now stuck behind Cabrera above--but who has a hurt shoulder and just moved to the position at the end of last season, so there's no way to know if he can stick there). He's shown good potential, and probably will end up as a utility guy in the majors.

SS Stats: 239 AB, .326/.426/.531 10 SB, 4 CS
Posted on: January 25, 2008 11:25 pm

Top fastballers that I'd most like on my team

Taking a brief break before getting back to my "Top under 23" lists, Baseball America's article today inspired me to indicate which of the top fastballers I'd like to see on my team.  It's a subscribers only article, so I'm not going to take much from it, but it's great stuff. 


1. Joba Chamberlain, Yankees

Not only does Joba have the #2 fastball in the minors, he's also got the best control of anyone in the top 25 (best fastballs).

2. Jake McGee, Rays

A lefty.  With that fastball.  And that control.  And throwing 140 innings in the minors... 

3. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Another lefty, this one with a 99 mph fastball?  Not quite McGee's control (which isn't quite Joba's control), but it's servicable, and he was 19 in AA.

4. Chris Withrow, Dodgers

He's only 18, and he hasn't thrown much, but I like what I've seen.

5. Aaron Poreda, Cubs

Not sure what's going on with him, but he's got really nice control to go along with his huge fastball.  And he's a lefty.

Worst Control:

Bad doesn't describe Daniel Bard, Red Sox, second season.  Awful, just awful.  9.4 and 5.6 wouldn't be terrible numbers for walks and ks/9, if it wasn't represented exactly that way, respectively.  9.4 bb/9 and 5.6 k/9 is just miserable, especially for a 22 yo in LoA.  He'll be going to the bullpen next, but if he can't develop any control, he'll be on his way to the glue factory.

Second worst was Craig Italiano, but he's such a sad case I can't begin to say anything about him (he lost his second season in a row to injury, this time due to a skull fracture).  If he can come back, he has promise, as his K/9 number was 12.7 to go with his 8.5 bb/9.


Jeff Samardzija did something I would have thought was impossible--throw near 100 mph, walk only 2.8 bb/9, and yet only strikeout 4.1/9.  4.1 k/9 when you're throwing that hard makes no sense, especially when demonstrating otherwise good control.  It's not like it was a small innings sample either--that's 142 innings.  Bizarre.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 22, 2008 10:27 am

Get rid of the DH!

Here's yet another reason to get rid of the DH--league disparity, and part of the large advantage the AL enjoys over the NL.  You may ask why it gives the AL an advantage over the NL when the teams play with the same rules.  The answer is: personnel.  The NL teams don't carry that extra slugger that the AL teams do.  As a result, when they face one another, you see teams like the Marlins playing a player like Jason Wood when they require a DH.  That's not to say Jason Wood was the DH--on the contrary, that task was left to Miguel Cabrera.  Aaron Boone played third, and Jason Wood and his .239/.286/.368 line spent the game at first. 

Overall in Interleague games, despite players like Miguel Cabrera being at the DH spot and counting in this statistic, here are the stats:

AL DH's: 467 AB, .315/.412/.503, 87 R, 20 HR, 97 RBI, 2 SB, 1 CS
NL DH's: 505 AB, .273/.347/.444 67 R, 19 HR, 63 RBI, 4 SB, 2 CS

That's a huge differential.  The NL DHs were responsible for 38 more outs.  The AL DHs drove home 34 more runs and scored 20 more times.  That's 1.5 games worth of outs and an average of .41 runs per game.  None of this counts the at bats of the Jason Woods who had additional at bats during that game, either.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 15, 2008 9:55 pm

Prospect Questions

Now that we have blogs, we have a good vehicle for this.  If anyone has any questions about any prospects, post them as a comment.  Depending on the question, I'll either reply to the comment, or post a new blog entry about it! 

My 8 baseball america prospect handbooks should arrive this week.  I'll have some fun new material to review, to see how people thought about various prospects on their way up.
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB, Prospects
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