Posted on: June 2, 2009 1:06 am
Edited on: June 2, 2009 1:17 am

Astros' Minor League Players of the Month: May

Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a wonderful near-summer.  I am back on the blog after a bit of a hiatus.  I recently started an internship at Syracuse University - oh yes, that's right, I'm name dropping... does this consider me an insider in matters pertaining to SU?  Anyways, as a result I have been very busy; but I would like to get back on here and start letting all of you know what I think of the current state of sports.  The MLB draft is also only a week away and I have to start getting people to view my blog in anticipation of my very ambitious MLB Mock Draft , which will have in depth analysis of all one hundred and eleven day one picks.  If you are a baseball fan, but have never paid much attention to the draft, I think you would very much enjoy keeping at least one eye on it this year, and my coverage of the draft is aimed at everyday fans who don't know as much about the scouting and player development side of the diamond.  I am also thinking about running a live blog the night of the draft, Tuesday June 9th at 6:00 PM.  I would open a blog post when I come home from work that afternoon and would run updates throughout the night, this would also act as a forum, where the comments section would be devoted to discussion and questions.  If you are interested in this, please leave a comment below.  I will be mentioning this as I post new blogs throughout the week - please let me know if this is something that would interest you!  Anyways, in the past I have failed to live up to promises on this blog, I think this is because I took on big projects - such as the top 15 prospects series -  which were impossible to finish.  Now I will be focusing on smaller posts on a variety of topics.  Since I mentioned the top 15 prospects series, allow me to use this time to conclude it.  I will not be finishing the top prospects series, sorry.  I do, however, have the remaining lists, and if you ask, I could release those in one post, but would provide no analysis or explanation.  Also, feel free to comment topic ideas you would like my opinion on, or ask a question you would like answered... especially if you have a question about the 2009 MLB Draft !  Anyways, without further ado, here is the second installment of the Astros’ organizational players of the month…

AAA - Round Rock Express :

Pitcher of the Month

Yorman Bazardo RHSP – I actually just changed this award, moments ago it was Bud Norris, who went 2-2 over six starts, pitching 35 and a third innings, but striking out 37 batters and allowing 35 hits in May.  His ERA was 3.06 for the month and is still only 2.75 on the year; he has struck out 62 batters in 59 innings.  Bazardo, on the other hand, went a perfect 4-0, also over six starts – one of which was a shutout; he pitched a team leading 42 and third innings.  His ERA in May was 1.49 and he allowed only 26 hits!  He struck out 28.  At first glance I was going to give the accolade to Norris, he is after all the top pitching prospect – due for a promotion – and looked to be more dominate because of the much superior strikeout rate.  However, Bazardo looked to be just as dominate allowing only 26 hits in over 42 innings.  Norris allowed more hits, 35, in less innings, 35.  Competition between these two is only good news for the Astros.  Bazardo is 24 years old, 25 in July, and from Venezuela. 

Hitter of the Month

Tommy Manzella SS – Mark Saccomanno and Brian Bogusevic were also in the mix but, surprisingly, it was Manzella who showed off the most power in May.  Bogusevic did have a noteworthy month, batting anywhere between leadoff and third in the lineup.  His average was .292 with a .371 on-base % and .409 slugging %.  He boasted eight extra bases, including two homeruns and was successful on all five of his steal attempts.  Manzella hit .339 with a .397 on-base % and a .492 slugging %.  He hit fourteen extra base hits, eleven of which were doubles. 

AA – Corpus Christi Hooks :

Pitcher of the Month

Douglas Arguello LHP – Had Chia-Jen Lo, April’s A+ pitcher of the month, been healthy after being called up, he probably would have competed for this honor.  However, without him, this was not a very intriguing decision.  He was 1-2 in four starts over 27 and two third innings.  He posted a 2.28 ERA, allowing 19 strikeouts and 27 hits. 

Hitter of the Month

Andrew Locke OF – Hmm… looks like I may have been right about James Van Ostrand, ha!  Andrew Locke was downright raking in May; no other AA hitter was even close.  He hit .327 with a .375 on-base % and .533 slugging %.  He hit five homeruns and drove in 31 RBIs, scoring 18 of his own. 

A+ - Lancaster Jet Hawks :

Pitcher of the Month

Leandro Cespedes RHP – It is my pleasure to introduce many of you to Cespedes the 22 year old Domican.  He went 1-3 in three starts, and five total appearances, posting 2.38 ERA.  In 22 and two third he allowed 22 hits and also struck out 22 batters.  As a prospect I am a little worried about Cespedes’ height, since he’s only 5’11”. 

Hitter of the Month

Jon Gaston OF - I want to so badly make this a “co” award and hand half of it to Jason Castro, but Gaston deserves it.  Castro hit for a .311 average, with a .425 on-base % and .509 slugging %.  He hit three homeruns and added another twelve doubles (seven more than he hit in April).  He also showed off his advanced approach at the plate walking nineteen times, fifteen times more than last month.  He did however; still strike out a bit too much, 22 times.  Gaston hit for an average of .365, with a .461 on-base % and .808 slugging %!  He hit nine homeruns and added nine doubles and five triples.  He stoles five bases, struck out 26 times, and walked 18 times.  Gaston also scored 30 runs. 

A- - Lexington Legends :

Pitcher of the Month

Jordan Lyles RHP – All the usual suspects were considered, that is: Lyles, Ross Seaton, Robert Bono, Kyle Greenwalt, Henry Villar and Brad Dydalewicz, however, the clear winner of this impressive group is the 2008 first supplemental round draft pick.  After capturing the April award, Seaton cooled down to an ERA of 4.44 over five starts, his yearly ERA is still only 2.44.  I am starting to get a little worried about his inability to strikeout batters, though, in 26 innings last month he struck out only nine.  Seaton’s first start in June was a CG shutout with six strikeouts.  Despite decent splits, Greenwalt finished May with a 0-4 record.  Henry Villar has become the odd man out of the Lexington rotation, but put together another solid month.  Posting a 2.01 ERA in eight appearances, including one start, he struck out 19 batters in 22 innings.  Villar has actually been better as a starter.  He has a 1.69 ERA in his three starts and a 2.00 ERA in his other eleven appearances.  Furthermore, Villar has struck out 20 batters in 10 and two thirds innings as a starter, while striking out 25 in 27 innings as a reliever.  It seems as though Villar has been unable to go deep into starts – three starts, 10.2 innings, do the math – and that’s why he’s currently a reliever, despite his success this season.  Dydalewicz doesn’t pitch enough innings to win the award.  He threw three starts in May, posting a 1.59 ERA.  However, he struck out seven batters, while also walking seven.  Robert Bono is quickly becoming a personal favorite… he’s certainly after Lyles and Seaton – I’m high on Villar – but, he’s surpassed Dydalewicz and Greenwalt.  Bono would be considered the runner up this month.  He went 2-0 in five starts posting a 2.25 ERA.  He struck out 22 batters in 28 innings, while walking only 5 .  Lyles only went 1-3 in six starts with a 2.48 ERA.  He struck out 40 batters in 36 and a third innings, and walked only six.  On a slight side note, how about Bobby Heck!  “Over-drafting” Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles in the first and supplemental round, respectively, is really starting to work out.  Stuff like that really gets me hyped for the draft… do you see a theme starting to form for the coming week?  Draft!  Draft! Draft!

Hitter of the Month

Brian Pellegrini OF – The 24 year old was sent down to low A Lexington after showing an inability to hit for average in Lancaster.  I would prefer not to give out this award to a 24 year old in low A ball, but every other position player in Lexington stinks!  Seriously, it is a very good thing they have one of the best pitching staffs in the minors.  Albert Cartwright the previous award winner, does not actually “stink”, he’s just inconveniently injured.  In 47 at-bats, Pellegrini hit for an average of .277, with a .393 on-base % and .574 slugging %.  He hit three homeruns, struck out thirteen times and walked nine times. 

P.S. – I have assigned a player to all 111 first day picks, for the MLB draft .  Tomorrow I will scan through it and probably revise the draft a little bit, then the rest of the week will be spent writing blurbs on each pick, explaining who and why.  I'm hoping for a Sunday afternoon release.   Teaser: I have gotten really into draft philosophies.  As always, let me know what you think.   Tuesday 6 PM, live MLB Draft blog chat, let me know if you're interested.  

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 1, 2009 6:59 pm

What I have to say about LeBron

Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a wonderful near-summer.  I am back on the blog after a bit of a hiatus.  I recently started an internship at Syracuse University - oh yes, that's right, I'm name dropping... does this consider me an insider in matters pertaining to SU?  Anyways, as a result I have been very busy, but I would like to get back on here and start letting you all know what I think of the current state of sports.  The MLB draft is also only a week away and I have to start getting people to view my blog in anticipation of my very ambitious MLB Mock Draft, which will have in depth analysis of all one hundred and eleven day one picks.  If you are a baseball fan, but have never paid much attention to the draft, I think you would very much enjoy keeping at least one eye on it this year, and my coverage of the draft is aimed at everyday fans who don't know as much about the scouting and player development side of the diamond.  I am also thinking about running a live blog the night of the draft, Tuesday June 9th at 6:00 PM.  I would open a blog post when I come home from work that afternoon and would run updates throughout the night, this would also act as a forum, where the comments section would be devoted to discussion and questions.  If you are interested in this, please leave a comment below.  I will be mentioning this as I post new blogs throughout the week - please let me know if this is something that would interest you!  Anyways, in the past I have failed to live up to promises on this blog, I think this is because I took on big projects - such as the top 15 prospects series -  which were impossible to finish.  Now I will be focusing on smaller posts on a variety of topics.  Since I mentioned the top 15 prospects series, allow me to use this time to conclude it.  I will not be finishing the top prospects series, sorry.  I do, however, have the remaining lists, and if you ask, I could release those in one post, but would provide no analysis or explanation.  Also, feel free to comment topic ideas you would like my opinion on, or ask a question you would like answered... especially if you have a question about the 2009 MLB Draft!  Anyways, without further ado, here's what I think about LeBron James...

I have never been a big supporter of LeBron, last year I was all for Kobe over LeBron for MVP.  However, this year and particularly what LeBron has done in the playoffs, has left me unable to deny LeBron the title of "King".  However, King James' season is over... let the scrutiny set in... and it didn't take long.  Today I am going to discuss the whole ordeal of LeBron refusing to shake hands with the victorious Magic in the series clinching game six, as well as his refusal to participate in the postgame media conference.  I'd like to kick off the series of musings (these are not fully conceived thoughts, just initial musings for the most part) with my apologies to LeBron James, after such a great season and his personal run in the playoffs, he faces so much uproar after his actions immediately following game six.  I will forgive LeBron for leaving the court before shaking hands and congratulating the Magic.  In the Heat of the moment people make mistakes.  What I do not like is that he offered no remore for his actions afterward.  When addressing the media after the incident he only offered explanations. 

"It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them," he said. "I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. That doesn't make sense to me. I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."

I think that is absolutely ridiculous.  LeBron comes off as arrogant and prideful.  From reading this, it makes me think LeBron thinks he is above the game and is on a completely different level than his competitors.  He is not.  The Magic proved they were better.  "I'm a winner."  What kind of a statement is that?  I get the idea that LeBron was perhaps poking at his teammates.  "I'M a winner", they, my teammates, they're the losers.  Again, I am just speculating, and tossing in some random thoughts - I apologize that this is not a well constructed "article", I'm writing it this way to emphasize the view point of a diverse group of fans.  As mentioned before the biggest disappointment for me was the fact he offered no apology to the Magic.  I would have liked to hear him say something like, I am sorry for my actions the other night, I would like to offer congratulations to the Dwight Howard and the Magic, they deserved to win, they are a great team, they work hard, etc.  But, LeBron is all about LeBron!  He is the above the league, forget about finals, it's all about LeBron, his future, he's a winner, right? 

This whole situation reminds me of an MTV moment - oh yes, again.  During The Duel - Real World, Road Rules Challenge, Kina, loses a tough physical challenge.  It was a long endurance challenge and after a long time, her body finally gave in, and she lost.  In the post challenge talking head, she whined, "My body couldn't do it, I could do it, but my stupid body wouldn't let me".  LeBron is so dillusional to think that he is a winner and always a winner.  He has to learn to lose and lose graciously.  He should offer the Magic his apology and congrats.  LeBron is probably the most physically gifted athlete to ever grace the NBA, he is at the top of the league, and he hasn't even reached his prime.  It would be a shame if he began to be recognized as an ungracious player and a sore loser.  I realize, LeBron is still young and will mature, but as the face of the league, he has to grow at a much faster rate than other players. 

What are your thoughts?  Remember MLB Draft, let me know!  Please forgive me for the Real World plug. 

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 2, 2009 1:00 am

Astros' Organizational Players of the Month

Astros’ Organizational Player’s of the Month: April

With the semester ending I am going to try and get on here more often.  As a reminder I have top prospect lists for all NL teams, and some of the AL East, since the season has started I am not sure what to do with the rest.  I may just release them without much analysis though, and obviously some would be outdated.  I am looking forward to the MLB draft in June, and I will come out with a mock a draft, just not for another month.  I only create one mock draft each year because once I make an impression on a pick; I tend to stick with it, like Zach Wheeler going to the Astros at number 21.  Anyways, while I am meditating on blog ideas here is a new feature that I plan to become a once monthly feature: Astros’ Organizational Player’s of the Month.  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section, discuss players you feel I missed on, and any blog ideas you have would be appreciated.  Thanks for reading. 

Round Rock Express AAA

Pitcher of the Month : Bud Norris RHP

Probably the easiest decision I am going to make here.  Had Felipe Paulino not made three starts with the Astros he would have battled Norris for this spot but, to our enamored joy, Paulino has thrived in Houston, and has stayed on the roster.  Norris made four starts in April, pitching a total of twenty-three and two thirds innings.  Despite the lack of a win – his record was 0-2 – Norris pitched well posting an ERA of 2.28, and striking out an organizational leading (I am almost positive about that) 25 batters.  I had Norris listed as Houston’s top pitching prospect heading into the season, and he is proving thus far he deserves a shot in the majors but, Paulino’s success will likely prevent Norris from starting for Houston anytime soon, though it will certainly happen before the end of the season. 

Others considered: Felipe Paulino RHP

Hitter of the Month : Mark Saccomanno 3B/1B

Unlike its counterpart, this was a difficult decision.  I would like to award these superlatives to actual prospects, rather than career minor leaguers but, in this case I felt pressed to give the hardware to Saccamanno, who was clearly the best hitter for the Express last month.  He hit .282/.305/.500/.805, with 4 homeruns.  He acted as the team’s catalyst knocking in 20 runs, and scoring 10 of his own.  I would like to announce that I am creating a new stat category, points, which acts the same as in hockey, it consists of a hitter’s runs (goals) and rbis (assists).  Sacco scored 30 “points” in April which is more than double the total of the two guys I also considered here… combined.  Perhaps most impressive in April was Sacco’s strikeout numbers, only four k’s in 78 at-bats.  I realize his on-base numbers are not stellar but, Mark was far and away the best power hitter on a team that was typically deprived of offense.  Now, I would like to address the issue of the term “career minor leaguer”.  That’s what Saccomanno is, face it, he’s 29, and will never be a capable defender at third, I give you, the right-handed hitting Mike Lamb .  Now, I will secede that Saccamanno could make a terrific bench player, like Lamb did but, management does not seem willing to try it at the expense of veterans like Geoff Blum , Jason Smith , or Darin Erstad .  I would like to offer Saccamanno a slightly belated birthday, his was Thursday, and congratulate him on sharing his birthday with a certain blogger we know (that’s me).   Now I have written a very full paragraph which is much more than I ever intended. 

Others considered: Yordanny Ramirez OF and J.R. Towles C

Corpus Christi Hooks

Pitcher of the Month : Chad Walger

Lexington has arms, Lancaster has bats, and Round Rock as arms, Corpus Christi has bats.  That is my current philosophy on Houston’s minor league affiliates .  Corpus Christi does not have pitching, thus Walger, who started one game, while appearing in six others, for a total of seventeen and one third innings.  His ERA was a respectable 3.63, and he ended the month with a 1-2 record.  He also had the third highest strikeout total on the team with 13 (the leader was Polin Trinidad who had 17 strikouts and only one walk). 

Others considered: Polin Trinidad LHP and Brad James RHP

Hitter of the Month : James Van Ostrand OF/1B/DH

First I’ll tell you who I eliminated. Andrew Locke OF is 25 in the Texas League , not impressed, especially when there are real prospects also in contention.  Mitch Einertson OF, my favorite prospect prior to the 2008 draft, Einertson missed some games early in the season while the lineup was being worked out but, has since excelled.  He finished the month with a .950 OPS, and hit an XBH % close to 50% (so a hit of his went for extra bases 50% of the time), he also hit for a high OBP .373, which is what impressed me.  Colin DeLome scored 34 points, hit seven homeruns, stole three bases, and hit for an OPS over .900, had DeLome not struck out (16) four more times than he walked (4) he would have been the guy.  I didn’t like giving Van Ostrand the prize, he’s getting old for a prospect, and doesn’t have a position but, I can’t deny a 1.253 OPS, right?  He also scored five more points (25) than Einertson in the same number of at-bats.  Van Ostrand also hit nine XBH (extra-base-hits) and finished the month with an OBP over .500, ‘nough said.  However, as an added treat here is how I would currently rank these four as prospects. 

Others Considered: Locke, Einertson and DeLome

Lancaster Jethawks

Pitcher of the Month : Chia-Jen Lo RHP

The 22 year old Taiwanese import has been dealing thus far; he has pitched fourteen and two thirds innings, all in relief, allowing only one earned run, for an ERA of 0.61.   He has struck out 24 batters, while allowing only a .102 batting average against.  I still have not seen a scouting report on him (so, if you see one, please refer me to it) but, so far he’s looked like a top prospect. 

Others considered: Chris Hicks RHP

Hitter of the Month : Jack (J.B.) Shuck OF

This was another very close race, with five guys considered.  Shuck ended up being my guy despite a lack of power, hitting zero homeruns and only four extra base hits last month.  He did, however, hit a .354 batting average, with a .411 on-base percentage; he also stole six bases and walked as many times as he struck out (8).  Shuck was the everyday leadoff hitter for the Jethawks scoring eighteen points, all but five of which were runs scored. 

Others Considered: T.J. Steele OF, Jason Castro C, Jon Gaston OF, Brian Pellegrini OF

Steele would have been the guy I selected (he led the team in OPS), had he totaled more than twelve at-bats after missing the first couple weeks of the season.  Pellegrini is kind of old for A ball, and despite hitting seven homeruns and scoring 28 points, hit only a .227 batting average, and struck out 23 times.  Gaston’s OPS was just shy of .900 and he hit five homeruns last month but, ultimately it was not enough to edge out Shuck, since Gaston’s batting average was .235 and he struck out 20 times, seven more times than he walked.  Castro, Houston’s top prospect and 2008 first round pick, was tied for the most total bases on the team with 38; he also hit .278 for the month, though that number fluctuated from game-to-game anywhere from over .300 to less than .250.  Castro hit three homeruns, nine extra bases and scored 21 points but, despite his overall numbers fell short of Shuck due to his 3:1 K to BB ratio (15 strikeouts to 4 walks).  Quite frankly I expected more plate discipline from the guy. 

Lexington Legends

Co Pitchers of the Month : Brad Dydalewicz LHP, Henry Villar RHP, Ross Seaton RHP

Like I said previously, Lexington is all about the arms.  Dydalewicz has maintained an ERA of 0.00 over 17 IP; he has struck out only 8 while walking 7, thus the “Co” status.  I am not sure where Henry Villar came from but, the 20 year old from the DR has grabbed my attention, striking out 26 batters, walking only 4, in 15.1 innings.  Seaton won three games in April, while posting an ERA of 1.14 over 23.2 innings, while striking out 15.  All three of these pitchers have offered something different to what is a terrific pitching staff in Lexington so; I felt it was fitting to include all three. 

Hitter of the Month : Albert Cartwright 2B

.328 batting average/.400 on-base percentage/.522 slugging percentage/.922 OPS, 24 points, 10 extra base hits, 37 total bases, 3 stolen bases.  Even with a K:BB ration greater than 2 to 1, Cartwright is one of the (very) few bright spots in the Lexington lineup. 

Others Considered: Ebert Rosario 3B



Category: MLB
Posted on: April 1, 2009 11:35 am

Top 15 Prospects: Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox: Top 15 Prospects

Yes, welcome back to the top 15 prospects series.  I have been looking into the 2009 amateur draft, and got motivated to get back on the prospect series.  I would like to note that all of my rankings were made many months ago.  So, if players have since left the organization, i.e. the rule 5 draft, I may not be on the ups of that.  The ages of some players may also be a year off, as I did this late last year, and do not wish to look up the birthdates of a couple hundred players.  However, I will do my best.  I also have no idea how most of the players are doing this spring.  This series is a continuation of the prospect series I started last October.  So, it is each team’s top prospects, following the 2008 season, if you get what I mean by my wording.  The series is targeted more towards casual fans, than hardcore prospect followers.  I also value experience experienced, low upside prospects.  MLL = minor league level last season – A+ is a high A team, A- is a low A team, A (no +/-) means the prospect played at both high A and low A levels last season, “a” is short season A league, and R is rookie league.  Something else of note, that you will notice, is that I like to stay pretty objective and “professional” when writing capsules but, will break out of character, and display my own thoughts, and personality as well, especially when in parentheses.  Enjoy, and please comment your thoughts. 

15. Che-Hsuan Lin Age: 20 MLL: A-

Lin won out this spot amongst some tough competition, guys like Oscar Tejada, Anthony Rizzo, Felix DuBront, and Chris Carter will not be found on this list.  Anyways, Lin’s greatest strengths are on defense, as he possesses the glove, range, and strong arm of a big league centerfielder.  Lin has good speed, and is capable of stealing a bag or thirty three, which is how many he stole in 2008.  Lin has struggled with his bat, he hit .249 with a .359 SLG%, his on base percentage however, was a respectable .342, thanks to good plate discipline.  Lin wins out the last spot on this list, because of his excellent defensive ability, and, even though his offense wasn’t great, it was still better than Oscar Tejada’s.  I also like Lin’s advanced plate discipline, and speed, and he has time to develop more power, his 27% XBH% needs to get hiked up a bit.  It’s too early to tell if Lin can be a starter, or defensive specialist backup, that will depend on the growth of his bat. 

14. Kyle Weiland RHSP Age: 22 MLL: a

Weiland was a closer in college but, the Red Sox have decided to stretch him out as a starter.  The transition to starter has gone well, as Weiland pitched a total of 90 pitches between college and the minors.  In 60 minor league innings he posted a 1.50 ERA and struck out 68 batters.  Weiland’s fastball reaches 95 mph; it has downward movement causing groundballs.  The other two pitches are a slider with a slurvy movement, and a solid changeup.  It will be interesting to see how many innings Weiland will be able to throw in his first season as a starter.  Weiland has the tools to become a starter in the big leagues, and he is good thus far, results wise. 

13. Yamacio Navarro SS Age: 21 MLL: A

Navarro is the second of four international prospects on this list.  He showed good hitting ability in 2008, with a .304 batting average and .359 on base percentage.  He added a good SLG% of .447, and hit 11 homeruns.  However, Navarro’s XBH% was a low 29%.  With more experience Navarro should develop average power, and possibly better than average contact skills.  One part of his offensive game that needs his work is his plate discipline, as he struck out 103 times, with a K: BB ratio of over 2:1 (103 Ks to 41 BBs).  Navarro has average speed but, giving him the ability to steal a few.  Navarro is defensively sound, with adequate range for short, and an above average to plus arm.  Navarro also has some versatility, with the ability, and experience to play second and third as well.  Navarro’s ceiling is an above average shortstop on offense, and average or better defensively, I believe his floor is as a big league utility player, and good bat off the bench.  This season will be big for Navarro as he faces the AA test. 

12. Bryan Price RHSP Age: 22 MLL: a

Price was a supplemental first round pick in the 2008 draft.  Like Weiland, he was a reliever in college but, the Red Sox will try to stretch him into a starter for the time being.  Price’s repertoire includes five pitches.  He throws his fastball in the low-mid 90s, and was able to reach high 90s in relief; his 2-seamer is thrown in the high 80s to low 90s.  Price’s second plus pitch is a slider, he throws in the mid 80s. The other two pitches are his changeup and a curveball that shows some promise.  Price commands his pitches well for the most part.  In 40 innings last summer Price recorded an ERA of 3.83, striking out 43 batters.  Price certainly has the stuff to become a starter in the big leagues but, it is too early to get specific; a number three starter is certainly a possibility, especially if his curveball becomes a plus pitch.  Again, like Weiland, Price’s durability over the course of a full season (starting) is something to watch out for. 

11. George Kottaras C Age: 25 MLL: AAA

First of all, it seems that Kottaras has the backup catcher position under wraps for the Red Sox.  That being said he is a very solid catching prospect (and soon to be rookie).  Kottaras’ best tool is his above average power.  He hit 22 homeruns in 2008, he added a good .457 SLG%, and very good 42% XBH%.  Kottaras also boasts pretty good plate discipline walking 64 times last season.  Kottaras has been all over with his batting average over the years, and last season he hit .243, however, because of his ability to take walks, Kottaras did not have a problem getting on base, his on base percentage was .348, not a great number but, it will not hurt the team when he’s batting sixth or lower.  He also strikes out quite a bit, 110 times in 2008 but, again, I am not worried too much about his ability to get on base, especially with his power.  Kottaras can struggle on defense, although he does a great job blocking pitches, and he has a hard time throwing runners out.  Kottaras does have experience catching knucklers, which certainly helped him when the backup/Wakefield catcher job.  Kottaras may not have the highest of upsides but, I am very high on him.  If he can manage on defense, and hit for a solid average, I think Kottaras can be an average offensively minded catcher, with above average power.  I do not think his downside is any less than a decent backup, and bat off the bench. 

10. Stolmy Pimentel RHSP Age 19 MLL: a

At only nineteen Pimentel put up solid numbers in the New York – Penn league.  He pitched 63 innings with an ERA of 3.14 ERA, striking out 61 batters.  He has good command and movement with his fastball but, he has only average velocity (88-92 mph).  Pimentel has a good feel for his changeup, and throws it in the 78 to 82 range.  His curveball has 12-6 movement, and has the chance to be a plus pitch, its average right now.  Although it’s early in his career, and Pimentel will likely play his first full season this year, he could be a middle of the rotation starter. 

9. Michael Almanzar 3B Age: 18 MLL: A-/R

Athletic and toolsy with limited playing experience; Almanzar must be a high upside Latin American player.  Almanzar saw moderate success in rookie league last season before struggling in the South Atlantic League, in all he hit .262, with a .306 OBP, and .376 SLG%.  Almanzar added a lousy 28% XBH%, and had a SO to BB ratio of 4:1.  Summed up, he is raw offensively and defensively for that matter.  Lucky for Almanzar and the Red Sox, he has all the tools and projection to be a very good player.  His power grades as above average, as does his arm, while everything else seems to be average, except for below average speed.  I am going to wait till he plays a full season before I say anything about just how good he can be.

8. Ryan Westmoreland OF Age: 18 MLL: NA

Westmoreland is not the type of player I usually rank high but, scouting reports are too high in his case.  Ryan had labrum surgery late last year, and will likely be out till the summer.  Still all his tools grade as potentially above average, including a plus arm.  Westmoreland will have no problem being a top centerfielder on defense, and also possesses good plate discipline for his age.  It’s tough to say anything else before he plays a game professionally, depending on his success in a shortened season he could jump into the top five though. 

7. Ryan Kalish OF Age: 20 MLL: A

I actually had Kalish sixth until I wrote the blurb on Casey Kelly, I convinced myself to bump him ahead of Kalish… I must be a good persuader.  Anyways, Kalish had mixed success in 2008, he hit .273, with a .365 OBP, and only a .363 SLG%.  Kalish’s poor power numbers showed up across the board, as he hit only five homeruns over the course of the season, and hit just a 24% XBH%.  Kalish did display good plate discipline, he had a K: BB of 1.5 to 1 (99 SOs to 61 BBs).  Kalish also has above average speed, and stole 19 SBs last season.  He is a good defender in center and has great range, and an average to above average arm.  Kalish has tremendous upside as a top of the lineup batter.  More power could come, as Kalish is still only 20.  He will likely play most of the season in AA.

6. Casey Kelly RHP/SS Age: 19 MLL: a

Kelly was Boston’s first round pick last June.  Coming into the draft he was highly touted as both a pitcher and shortstop.  He played shortstop in short season A ball after signing but, Kelly will start the 2009 season as a pitcher.  After Kelly pitches 100 innings he will return to the field as a shortstop.  This new development makes Kelly a very interesting prospect.  He could become a good shortstop with power, or a starting pitcher with a better than average pitches.  After signing, Kelly hit .215 with only a .255 OBP, he showed good power, hitting a 49% XBH%.  His plate discipline was bad however; he struck out 42 times in 130 at-bats, while walking only 6 times.  Kelly is very athletic, possessing plus range and a plus arm.  He should develop into an at least average defensive shortstop but, he may grow too big for the position, he is already 6-3/6-4 and 205ish.  He has good power but, he has to work on making contact and his plate discipline.  On the mound Kelly throws an average fastball in the 88 to 92 mph range, and the pitch has good sink.  His fastball velocity should rise as he focuses on pitching, he has plenty of projection.  His curveball is a 12-6er and is an above average pitch; his changeup is average at least right now.  As stated before Kelly has a high upside as either a shortstop or pitcher, and the Red Sox are going to look into both options for now, we’ll see how he is doing at both positions at the end of the year. 

5. Nick Hagadone LHSP Age: 22 MLL: A-

Hagadone was the Red Sox’ first pick in 2007, he was a college reliever (most of the time) but, the Red Sox have made him starter, although it would not be surprising if Hagadone ended up as a reliever before establishing a career in the majors.  Before moving on, I should mention that Hagadone underwent Tommy John surgery last June but, his recovering has been going well, and he hopes to be pitching in games by June or May.  He throws his fastball in the low-mid 90s with good movement.  He also throws an above average to plus power slider in the low 80s, and a getting to average changeup in the low 80s.  Hagadone’s stuff translates to him being a number two or three starter, and he has had success on the mound, when healthy.  However, there is still talk of Hagadone becoming a reliever (how do you crack a rotation already consisting of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Dice K with Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson floating around, not mentioning Michael Bowden?), and we have yet to see how Hagadone returns from injury. 

4. Daniel Bard RHRP Age: 23 MLL: AA/A-

Bard pitched in 78 innings in 2008, all in relief; he struck out 107 batters in that time, recording an ERA of 1.51.  As you can tell from the numbers, Bard is a very special reliever, which will give Boston two of those as early as this summer.  Bard throws his fastball in the mid to high 90s, reaching triple digits; the pitch has a lot of movement on it.  He also throws a plus slider, which has almost sluve-like movement, there’s a curveball and changeup in his repertoire as well but, Bard doesn’t have to throw those two pitches in relief.  As I said, Bard will be a special reliever; it just may not be as a closer, because Papelbon is there. 

3. Josh Reddick OF Age: 21 MLL: AA/A

Reddick is a guy a like, his scouting reports are solid, and his stats back them up beautifully.  In 2008 he hit .311 with a .356 OBP.  His power was great, and can be found in three places: he hit a .544 SLG%, 23 homeruns, and a solid XBH% of 36%.  Reddick lacks plate discipline, his SO: BB rate was about 2.5 SOs to BB.  Reddick has good speed, and used it to steal 14 bases last year.  He is an above average outfielder with the ability to play center or a corner, and he possesses a plus arm.  Unlike many centerfield prospects, Reddick’s value would not dissipate with a permanent move to right field, as he has above average power.  Reddick has the ability to become an above average outfielder in the majors but, not an elite outfielder. 

2. Michael Bowden RHSP Age: 22 MLL: AAA/AA

Bowden throws his fastball in the low 90s.  He also throws an above average hard 12-6 curve in the mid 70s, and an above average circle change in the low 80s.  He complements his stuff with excellent control of all three pitches.  In the minors last year he pitched 144 innings, posting a 2.62 ERA, and striking out 130 batters.  He also had success in stints in Boston.  Bowden is major league ready but, there isn’t a place for him in the big league rotation, which means Michael is either on his way to the bullpen, like Justin Masterson, bouncing back-and-forth between AAA and the majors regardless of his performance, like Clay Buchholz, or headed out of the organization.  Bowden would likely develop into a mid rotation starter if given a chance, and could be a low-end number two starter.

1. Lars Anderson 1B Age: 21 MLL: AA/A+

There is some debate as to whether Anderson is just an above average first basemen, or if he is an All Star at the position.  I tend to agree with the latter.  In 2008 he hit .317, with a .417 OBP, and .517 SLG%.  He also hit 18 homeruns, and an XBH% of 37%.  Like most power hitters Anderson does strike out a lot, 107 times in 2008 but, he also drew a lot walks, 75.  Anderson’s hitting numbers are all there, and his power should even rise, as he continues to gain experience.  Anderson is at least average defensively, and works hard at improving, he is fairly athletic for a first basemen.  I see Anderson as a .300BA/.400BP guy, with 30 homerun potential.  Now seems as a good a time as any to say that a hitter usually does not peak until 27, which is well known for those of you who play fantasy baseball.  So, when I say Anderson has 30 homerun potential, he likely will not reach that number for awhile, even if he plays in the majors everyday next year at 22. 

Final Thoughts:   The Red Sox’ list has two good things going for it, check that, three: 1. they have great talent at the top in Anderson and Bowden 2.They have a very deep list; all fifteen prospects are quality prospects 3. Their list is littered with diversity.  They have a solid prospect covering each position, a good mix of pitchers and hitters, and they also have a good mix of near ready prospects, and high upside guys who are a long way from the majors.  The biggest strength of Red Sox’ group of ‘top prospects’ is their diversity and pitching.  The Red Sox already have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Dice K as locks in their rotation for the foreseeable future, not including Clay Buchholz (who would rank second after Lars Anderson if he still qualified for this list), and currently the Red Sox have Brad Penny, John Smoltz, and Tim Wakefield for at least a year, possibly two.  Bowden is ready to start in the majors, Justin Masterson would be a solid starter, and Hagadone, Price, Weiland, and Pimentel (not including the versatile Casey Kelly) are well on their way to becoming starting options in the next 2-3 years.  The Red Sox also will have two of the best relievers in baseball in Papelbon and Bard.  Let’s speculate the entire pitching staff for the end of the 2011 season, five-man-rotation: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Dice K, Buchholz, Bowden, and Justin Masterson, the seven in the bullpen: Papelbon, Bard, Hideki Okajima, Nick Hagadone, Bryan Price, Kyle Weiland, and Junichi Tazawa (who I did not include on my list, he is a good enough prospect but, when I created the list way back when, I didn’t know much about him, and decided to stick with what I know).  I want to know how the Yankees (or anyone else) expect(s) to hit against a pitching staff like that. 

Next Up: The Yankees



Category: MLB
Posted on: March 21, 2009 9:32 pm

Top 15 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles: Top 15 Prospects

Yes, welcome back to the top 15 prospects series.  I have been looking into the 2009 amateur draft, and got motivated to get back on the prospect series.  I would like to note that all of my rankings were made many months ago.  So, if players have since left the organization, i.e. the rule 5 draft, I may not be on the ups of that.  The ages of some players may also be a year off, as I did this late last year, and do not wish to look up the birthdates of a couple hundred players.  However, I will do my best.  I also have no idea how most of the players are doing this spring.  This series is a continuation of the prospect series I started last October.  So, it is each team’s top prospects, following the 2008 season, if you get what I mean by my wording.  The series is targeted more towards casual fans, than hardcore prospect followers.  I also value experience experienced, low upside prospects.  MLL = minor league level last season – A+ is a high A team, A- is a low A team, A (no +/-) means the prospect played at both high A and low A levels last season, “a” is short season A league, and R is rookie league.  Something else of note, that you will notice, is that I like to stay pretty objective and “professional” when writing capsules but, will break out of character, and display my own thoughts, and personality as well, especially when in parentheses.  Enjoy, and please comment your thoughts. 

15. (13). Matt Angle OF Age: 23 MLL: A-

My list is the only place you will find Angle, why?  Well, I like low ceiling established players, even if they are 23 playing in low A ball, ok, so, he’s not a great prospect but, I like him all the same, and who cares about the fifteen ranked prospect in a system with Matt Wieters in it.  Angle was drafted in 2007, the same draft that produced the aforementioned Wieters (why so much talk about Matt Wieters you ask, because he deserves it!  Josh, pull yourself together, and defend your reasoning for placing Angle on this list over someone like Kam Mickollo… a reliever).  Angle is a terrific fielder in center, rated as the best fielding outfielder in the system by BA (I hate mentioning BA in my posts).  Angle also flashed good offense hitting .287 with a .385 OBP (on base %), he also flashed great base running ability, stealing 37 bases.  Another plus to Angle’s season was his near 1:1 SO to BB (strikeout to walk) ratio (86 SO: 71 BB).  The downside, Angle does not have much power hitting a .379 slugging %, hitting only 4 homeruns in a full season, and hitting an XBH% (extra base hit percentage) of only 23%.  Still, you have to love Angle’s ability to get on base, and use his speed both on the base paths, and in the field.  Angle is a very capable backup outfielder, at least, and I think he could potentially be an adequate starter but, no one else seems to share that sentiment.

(14). Collin Allen RHSP Age: 22 MLL: R

Allen was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2007 draft (2007?  Just like Angle… and Wieters!).  Anyways, last I knew Allen was throwing his fastball in the 80s touching the low 90s.  His out pitch is his curveball, while he also throws a changeup.  His stuff, not overwhelming by any means however, I value a guy who knows how to pitch, and has proven that he knows how to pitch.  In 2008 he threw 62 innings in rookie league ball, posting an ERA of 2.31, and striking out 64 batters.  Those are nice numbers.  Allen was also a pretty good outfielder in (junior) college, he’s a good athlete – this means the ability to repeat his mechanics, and less of an injury risk, however, he does not have a projectable body, and his stuff will stay below average.  With the 11-15 slots I like to include guys you should keep an eye on moving forward, Allen is that type as he begins his first full season in 2009.  How is he better than Angle?

(13). Kenny Moreland RHSP Age: 22 MLL: A+/R

Here’s the skinny on Moreland, he throws his fastball in the high 80s/low 90s range, and has no projection at 5’11”.  However, he also throws a good curveball, with good command.  He has also shown results starting last season in the summer running rookie league, and reaching high A ball.  In seventy innings he posted a 3.10 ERA, and struck out 68 batters.  Moreland would not be on this list were it not for his control but, still he is very low upside.  So, how is he better than Angle?

12. Ryan Adams 2B Age: 21 MLL: A-

I do not understand why people do not like Adams.  In 2008 Adams hit .308 with a .367 OBP, the average is great, and the on base percentage is more than respectable for a 21 year old.  Adams also flashed good power for a second basemen, recording a SLG% of .462 and hitting 11 homeruns.  He also added an XBH% of 30%, which is a respectable number, and you would expect the power to continue to improve moving forward.  Adams also stole 12 bases.  There are two problems in Adams’ game 1. He strikes out to much, 109 SOs, to 36 BBs - that SO: BB rate is slightly worse than Bill Rowell’s and I am about to hammer Bill Rowell for his plate discipline.  In my defense, Rowell’s OBP is only .315, while Adams’ is .367 so; his lack of plate discipline does not hinder him as much.  2. That’s right I said two things.  Adams’ defense has become problematic, racking up errors last season, they were however, throwing errors, and he still has the hands and range to be a capable defender.  So, this also does not worry me.  Anyways, I think Adams can become a possibility at second base, especially with the Orioles’ lack of middle infield prospects. 

11. Zach Britton LHSP Age: 21 MLL: A-

*I apologize for the two scrubs I threw in at 13 and 14.  I like analyzing 15 prospects from each team, and those two were guys I threw in because of success at lower levels but, they both lack the ability to improve their below average stuff, and thus will probably not ever make it to the big leagues.  For all intents and purposes, I will refer to this list as a top 13 list, with Matt Angle moving up two spots to 13.  I can now list off much better prospects than the previous two: L.J. Hoes 2B, Xavier Avery OF, Chorye Spoone RHP, Pedro Beato but, I am not going to go rewrite the 13 and 14 prospects.  So, deal with the two guys who do not belong there. 

Britton was taken in the third round of the 2006 draft.  I want to point out, quickly how Britton was not a “can’t miss” high school prospect when he was drafted but, opted to sign anyway, instead of developing his game with Texas A&M.  This decision has proved to be a wise decision for Britton as he has been very consistent, and will play in AA at some point this season, and is probably on par stuff wise with the college pitchers who will be taken at the end of the first round.  Had Britton gone to college he would be eligible to be drafted this year (players attending a four-year college must wait till after their junior year to be drafted), and would likely start playing for minor league team in low A this summer.  Anyways, sorry for the tangent but, I wanted to illustrate, well, something, at the least this is a small lesson about the draft.  Back to Britton!  Britton throws his 2-seam fastball in the low 90s, and pairs it with a slider (he used to throw a power curve but, recently dumped it for the slider).  Due to those two pitches Britton does an excellent job of inducing ground balls.  Britton will probably have to improve his feel for his changeup to have the same success he’s had at higher levels.  In 147 innings in 2008 Britton posted an ERA of 3.12, he stuck out 114 (maybe a 6.98 strikeout/9 innings is not all that impressive in low A ball but, remember, he’s a groundball pitcher).  Britton has the capabilities and stuff to become a number four starter, maybe even a number three starter but, what are the chances Baltimore needs him to start? 

10. Bill Rowell 3B Age: 20 MLL: A+

This guy is a great prospect.  Let me explain, Billy Rowell is a great prospect in the sense that he is a former number nine overall pick (2006) has struggled hitting, some injury problems early last season, has had some pride issues but, still has a boatload of potential (how much is a boatload, well, it’s a lot), and he is only 20 years old, and was the youngest everyday player in the Carolina, high A, league.  That being said, I have him pretty low on this list, which says two things 1. This system has more than a boatload of talent, and 2. I like to see results/I like established players.  Anyways, more specific to Rowell, he disappointed offensively in 2008 (maybe expected being so young for the level of competition he was facing).  He hit for only a .248 BA, and slugged for .368 – Rowell’s second best tool, his power potential.  I will continue writing about his power numbers, Rowell (I get sick of using a guy’s last name when referring to him, I need to give everyone a nickname) hit only 7 HRs in 375 at bats – 10-15 over the course of a full, healthy season – Billy R also hit an XBH% (extra base hit percentage, I use it a lot) of 33% which actually is not bad, especially given his slugging percentage.  Now the really bad part, Billy R struck out almost three times more than he walked (104 SOs to 36 BBs, yikes!).  Rowell is below average defensively, and does not project to be any better than average (if average).  Many believe he will need to move to first, which would 1. Waste his best tool, his arm, and 2. Lower the value of his bat, because although he does have above average power potential, he does not have thirty home run power, and will not hit for a high batting average.  So, it is best if Billy R stays at third.  If he cannot, and has to be moved, why not to a corner outfield position, there his arm would still play, and he is not a terrible athlete so, left field is a possibility (I mean, Manny does it, right?)  Billy R could be an above average third baseman at the big league level but, that is contingent on three things 1. The power comes 2. His plate discipline improves 3. He stays at third.  If not than Billy R could be an effective corner infield sub/pinch hitter/left side of a platoon/average-below average first basemen/corner infielder, you have to like the options (Remember when I said Billy R was a great prospect?  Well, look at how long his blurb is, that is how intriguing (yes, intriguing is the better word) he is).  

9. David Hernandez RHSP Age: 23 MLL: AA

David Hernandez is the Orioles’ sicth best pitching prospect, on this list, which speaks volumes as to how much of a boatload of talent this system has, particularly on the mound.  David Hernandez has been dominant the last couple of seasons.  In 2008 he led the Eastern League in strikeouts, with 166 in 141 innings; he posted a stellar 2.68 ERA.  David Hernandez throws an above average fastball into the mid 90s; he also throws an above average slider/slurve in the high 70s, low 80s.  Despite the great stats, and two above average pitches, many people, including myself have doubts about his future as a starter.  The reasons are threefold 1. His spotty command, even when D Hern is throwing his fastball. 2. His lack of a third pitch.  D Hern’s changeup is far below average.  3. The Orioles have five pitching prospects ahead of him, plus R Liz, and Guthrie, why would they want to waste D Hern in the minors when he could be an effective reliever right now?  Best case scenario, D Hern develops an average third pitch, shores up his fastball command, and becomes a number three starter, which would make for some excellent spring training battles!

8. Brandon Snyder 1B/3B Age: 22 MLL: A+

Snyder is currently a first baseman but, the thought of trying him at third has been tossed around.  His value, obviously, increases with a move to third.  Defensively he is solid at first though.  Why start talking about Snyder’s D, because it will not matter for the rest of this blurb, his game is his offense.  Bryder (this nickname thing is catchy) hit for a .315 average last season.  He, however, has the same problem as Adams, and Rowell, that is a K:BB ratio in the range of 3 to 1 and 2 to 1.  However, like Adams, Bryder still managed a respectable OBP of .357, not great, but respectable.  Snyder showed good power last season, and has a little more potential left in the tank, hitting a SLG% of .490 (compare it to Rowell’s .368, someone with similar power potential) in 2008.  Bryder added 13 homeruns, and an XBH% of 35%.  I like Snyder as an average big league first baseman, and above average third baseman (on offense) but, his outlook gets better if he increases his walks, and power.  As of now, Bryder is headed in the right direction. 

7. Brandon Erbe RHSP Age: 21 MLL: A+

Erbe threw 151 innings in 2008, posting a lackluster 4.30 ERA but, striking out 151 batters.  Erbe throws two fastballs, his 4-seamer is thrown in the low 90s but, can touch the mid 90s, while his 2-seamer is thrown a couple mph slower but, compensates that with heavy life.  He also throws a slider, which should be above average in the future.  I can almost assure you that either Erbe or D Hern will be moved to the bullpen soon.  The Orioles just have too many starting pitchers (too many starters?  There’s no such thing), and Erbe and D Hern have the power stuff that plays well in the bullpen, and lack effective third pitches.  If Erbe remains a starter he should continue to work on his changeup, and like D Hern, can become a third starter type. 

6. Troy Patton LHSP Age: 23 MLL: NA

Patton is the “gem” (tongue in cheek) of the Tejada trade with the Astros, and was injured all of last year.  However, he is back, and scouting reports are favorable.  Being a part of the Astros organization for so long makes Patton a personal favorite of mine.  He throws his fastball in the low 90s, and commands it everywhere in the strike zone.  He also throws a tight slider and changeup in the high 70s.  Patton can command all of his stuff, and has advanced pitchability.  I see as one of those crafty lefties, cough, Tom Glavine, cough, and is a number three starter type.  It may take him a little while to get the feel for pitching again though, following the injury. 

5. Nolan Reimold OF Age: 25 MLL: AA

Reimold is a guy I really like, despite the obvious flaw of being 25, and spending all of 2008 in AA.   There he hit .284 with a .367 OBP.  Unlike most of the position players on this list Reimold has good plate discipline, with a K: BB ratio of nearly 1 to1.  Reimold bolstered great power, hitting 25 homeruns, and a SLG% of .501, with an XBH% of 40%, all great numbers.  Reimold’s defense is his weakness, as he has bad instincts in the outfield.  However, Reimold has a plus arm, and is capable of serving as a centerfielder at times, although he will (and should) play everyday at a corner.  Reimold also has good athleticism, and can steal a few bags.  Reimold can be an above average corner outfielder everyday very soon. 

4. Jake Arrieta RHSP Age: 20 MLL: A+

Now comes, perhaps, the best set of pitching prospects, up first, Jake Arrieta.  Arrieta throws a mid 90s fastball with late life, however, he has trouble commanding it at times.  Arrieta’s second above average pitch is his slider; he also throws a big breaking curveball, and a changeup.  In 2008 Jake Arrieta threw 113 innings in the minors, posting a 2.87 ERA, with 120 strikeouts.  He also spent time playing for team USA in the Olympics.  Arrieta is a future top of the rotation starter but, first must refine his curve and changeup, as well as his fastball command.

3. Brian Matusz LHSP Age: 21 MLL: Arizona Fall League

Missed the regular season after signing, Matusz did, however, throw 27 innings in the AFL, posting a 4.73 ERA and striking out a 31 batters.  Matusz was the number four overall pick last June.  He throws four above average pitches.  B Mat’s fastball falls in the low 90s reaching 94 on occasion, it has some natural sink to it.  Matusz also has some projection left so; do not be surprised if you see his fastball topping somewhere in the 95-96 range before he reaches the majors.  B Mat also throws a plus curveball and changeup, as well as a slider/cutter.  B Mat is a future number two starter, his stuff is not quite electric enough to be a number one starter but, he still possesses very good stuff with good command.  He should be called up to the big leagues late in the year, and could become a fixture in the bullpen to start 2010. 

2. Chris Tillman RHSP Age: 20 MLL: AA

There are those who think Matusz is the top prospect in the system, they would be wrong.  Tillman does have that “electric” stuff required of a number one starter.  He throws his fastball in the low 90s but, gets it up into the mid 90s much more often than Matusz, and his peak of 95/96 mph is higher than Matusz’, I also believe Tillman has more projection left.  Due to his height 6’5” C Till throws his fastball on a downward plane, a difficult angle to hit.  C Till’s best pitch is a plus (possibly plus-plus) 12-6 curveball he throws in the mid 70s, he also throws a changeup, which still needs work but, should be an average offering in time.  One thing Matusz has on C Till is command but, at age TWENTY (20 and in AA last season) Tillman has plenty of time to refine that area of his game.  Now, the real reason I think Tillman is a better prospect than Matusz, his results!  In 2008, C Till threw 136 innings posting a 3.18 ERA, while striking out 154 batters.  He did this all in AA, at the age of 20.  Tillman is the future ace of this team, how fast he develops his command will determine how fast he arrives there though. 

1. Matt Wieters C Age: 22 MLL: AA/A+

Finally, the best prospect in baseball, I and Georgia Tech give you, Matt Wieters.  In 2008 Wieters hit .355, with a .454 OBP, and .600 SLG%.  I’m going to give you a second to process that… He added 27 homeruns, an XBH% of 33%, and to top it all off, Wieters walked six more times (82) than he struck out (76).  What more could you ask for from a prospect on offense?  Defensively Wieters is a complete catcher, with plus or better: receiving skills, blocking ability, and arm behind the plate.  Wieters does not run well but, is a decent athlete anyway.  What does the future hold for Wieters?  Ten all star games, 30 home runs annually, many .300/.400/.500 seasons, multiple gold glove awards, possibly an MVP award, and of course zero playoff appearances… as an Oriole at least… sorry.   

Final Thoughts:  I feel bad for the Orioles.  Having to be in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees but, now also the Rays and the Rays do not seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon.  Still, the Orioles have a solid core of players to build around in the majors: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts, and Wieters, along with the three stud starting pitchers.  However, even with that group – and the number five pick in June – I don’t think the Orioles are good enough to compete with the aforementioned three teams any time in the coming years.  Which is a shame, because the Orioles have been doing a great job of finding and developing young prospects, particularly young pitching.  Pitching is obviously the strength of the system; they have six guys who could become number three starters.  However, after Wieters and Reimold the Orioles are really lacking for position players.  Both Snyder and Rowell show some promise but, their values will suffer if they both end up at first base and both may end up as only average offensively as well.  The Orioles are severely lacking prospects in centerfield and at the middle infield positions, I would look for them to look at this area in the draft so, be on the lookout for Donovan Tate HS OF, and Dustin Ackley OF/1B UNC. 




Posted on: March 3, 2009 10:12 am

Astros Sping Training Performance Chart: THREE

I must say, I have been uninspired by the last several games from the Astros. The pitching has been shaky, and the offense has not been much better, and in some cases this past weekend, much, much worse. Luckily for Houston, and us fans, spring training is not about the wins and losses but, individual performances . At least that is my opinion; spring is about the position battles, the young players getting a chance to showcase their talents, and aging pitchers we never thought we would hear from again – Russ Ortiz . Anyways, here is the latest spring performance chart, which I believe is an update from the past two games. Also, the list has expanded to thirty, which is where it should stay, since pretty much everyone in camp has played now, and players have left for the WBC. Enjoy, discuss.

1. Russ Ortiz RHP PR : 2 +1

Russ Ortiz retakes the top spot after a second straight superb, scintillating, sensational outing (I love alliteration). He has pitched five inning this spring to the tune of two hits allowed, a [home]run, a walk, while striking out six batters. Conclusion: Ortiz has looks downright filthy!

2. Chris Johnson 3B PR: 1 -1

Johnson only slips because of Ortiz’ performance on the mound but, he added a hit, and a couple RBIs today. For the spring Johnson is four for eight with two extra base hits (a double and a homer), a strikeout, and he leads the team with five RBIs. This blog is a place for bandwagon, and I am encouraging you all to jump onto my ‘START CHRIS JOHNSON BANDWAGON’. It is the revolution that will make Houston a legitimate contender in 2009.

3. Reggie Abercrombie OF PR: 13 +10

Abercrombie is six for eleven with three extra base hits, and ten total bases. He has scored once, and driven in another two this spring. Abercrombie has however struck out three times and committed an error. Abercrombie is easily my early favorite for the fifth outfielder position but, something tells me management is still leaning towards Jason Michaels , who has not performed this spring – thus far.

4. Jason Smith INF PR : 10 +5

Smith continues to impress me both on offense and defense. He has yet to give up an error, and has gone four for seven, with two extra base hits, two runs, and a RBI.

5. Matt Kata INF PR: NR

Kata does not have an error at shortstop, and is three for four with a triple, homerun, two RBIs, and one strikeout.

6. Brandon Backe RHP PR : 3 -3

Backe already has one good outing this spring going two innings, allowing one hit, and striking out one batter. Tomorrow he will make his first start of the spring, and is looking to keep pace with Russ Ortiz as the top starting pitcher in Astros camp (how sad was that last sentence?). I am not sure whether the fifth rotation spot is best candidate wins, or, if the job is Backe’s to lose.

7. Miguel Tejada SS PR : 5 -2

Tejada has now joined the DR’s WBC team (along with A-Rod ) but, before he did Tejada put together another strong performance. Tejada went three for seven this spring with THREE extra base hits, and THREE runs scored. He has drove in two runs. Tejada seems to have things together this season which is a big plus for the Astros going into the season.

8. Drew Sutton 2B PR: 8

I am a Sutton supporter (hmm a little alliteration), and even though he is unlikely to make the team out of camp, he should see action with the Astros sometime soon (with Kaz slated as the second basemen, that is a bit of a guarantee). Sutton is four for ten with a walk and a strikeout. He has scored two runs, and logged six total bases.

9. Wesley Wright LHP PR: 11 +2

Wesley Wright has become Houston’s go-to reliever this spring. He has now pitched three innings, in three different appearances allowing zero earned runs (but, allowing one unearned). Wright has allowed three hits.

10. Darin Erstad OF PR: NR

How is it that Erstad was previously unranked? Darin (the former Cornhusker punter and I are on a first-name basis) has gone five for ten this spring, scoring one run, while striking out twice, and walking once. His batting average is high, and he has the second most hits on the team (Abercrombie has six) but, his hits are not ‘timely’ hits.

11. Chad Paronto RHP PR: NR

Paronto has flown under my radar. He has pitched three scoreless innings, two of them today, while allowing two hits, and striking out two. It is a shame that there are not many (if any) jobs available in the ‘pen.

12. Jose Capellan RHP PR: NR

Jose is another guy who has flown under my radar (he is also another guy I am on a first name basis with). He has pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a hit, and striking out a batter.

13. Lance Berkman 1B PR: NR

Berkman is starting to come into form, batting two for five with an RBI, run, and two walks.

14. Hunter Pence OF PR: 6 -8

Pence is now two for eleven (not encouraging) with three walks (encouraging!), and four strikeouts (not so encouraging). I like Pence’s on-base improvement but, I have to see some improvement on the hitting side, and I would love to see some power, it is early though so, I am not worried yet. On a side note, I wish I was on a first name basis with Pence but, alas, I am not.

15. Jose Valverde RHP PR: NR

Jose was dominant in his inning today, pitching a scoreless inning, striking out two. For the spring he is has pitched 2 innings allowing two earned runs, a homerun but, striking out four batters.

16. Bud Norris RHP PR: 15 -1

Norris still has only pitched one inning, while striking out two batters.

17. Geoff Geary RHP PR : 17

Two innings pitched, and a hit.

18. Michael Bourn OF PR: 14 -4

Three hits in fourteen at-bats. Bourn has walked three times (like Pence, very encouraging), he has struck out twice, stolen two bases, collected two extra base hits, scored three runs, and driven in two runs. That stat line is littered and not just with adjectives… good spring thus far from Bourn.

19. LaTroy Hawkins RHP PR: NR

Hawkins has pitched one scoreless inning, striking out a batter. He was also named to the USA WBC team in place of Joe Nathan . Congratulations to Hawkins for being named in the same sentence as one of the best three closers in baseball.

20. John Gall 1B PR: NR

Were this list just about stats, Gall would be listed in the top ten but, he has zero chance of making the roster so, I feel that it would be a waste to list him earlier than this. He has however, put together a pretty impressive spring, though, hitting four for eight, and driving in three runs.

21. Samuel Gervacio PR : 18

One scoreless inning, giving up a walk but, striking out a batter.

22. Jason Castro C PR: NR

Congratulations to Jason Castro for collected his first hit with the Astros (too bad it does not really count, since it is spring training). Anyways, his hit on Sunday makes Castro the catcher with the highest batting average .

23. Brian Moehler RHP PR: NR

Two innings one earned run, two hits, and two strikeouts.
24. Tommy Manzella SS PR: NR

One for four, with a run scored, a walk, a strikeout, and unfortunately an error. Manzella is currently behind Smith and Kata as utility candidates.

25. Carlos Lee OF PR: 7 -18

Lee is only one for six but, has walked twice, with two runs. His one hit is a double, and he has struck out once.

26. J.R. Towles C PR: 12 -14

Towles is STILL the only starting catcher contender with a hit but, he is now one for five with a strikeout. I WANT TO SEE SOME OFFENSE OUT OF A STARTING CATCHER CONTENDER TODAY!

27. Felipe Paulino RHP PR: NR

I really like Paulino but, he was a little shaky in his first appearance of the spring. He pitched two innings giving up two hits, a walk, and a solo homerun – which is his only run allowed.

28. Mike Hampton RHP PR : 9 -21

I dropped Hampton last weekend, before his start, and I seem to be justified now after a bad outing on Monday. He pitched two innings allowing four earned runs . For the spring he has pitched four innings, giving up SIX hits, walking THREE batters, allowing FOUR earned runs, hitting a batter, while striking out four batters. I will say that I will not begin to get worried until the starting pitchers pitch two regular season starts worth of innings, which is someone between 10 and 15 innings, and no one is even close to that yet. However, this time next week I am going to begin to draw some real opinions from the numbers. Right now what we know is that Hampton has had one ok start, and one bad start, I am not satisfied.

29. Fernando Nieve RHP PR: NR

Nieve did hold the Mets scoreless in his two outings but, he also gave up three hits and two walks while striking out once. That is a WHIP of over 2.00. I may be looking into the five base runners.

30. Brian Bogusevic OF PR: NR

Two for seven, with a strikeout and an RBI, Bogusevic is not seriously involved in the fifth outfielder competition. All I want to see him do is play well against major league ready competition, and prepare for the AAA season. We will see Bogey later in the season but, for now, well, Abercrombie is playing too well. Keep the hitting up.

These five are in trouble :

1. Aaron Boone 3B/1B

Boone is the player on this list with the most to lose. His problem is twofold. One: Chris Johnson! Two: Boone has gone 0 for ten! Cooper here me, please, do not be afraid to start Johnson.

2. Clay Hensley RHP

Two thirds of an inning pitched, eight total runs. With Ortiz and Backe playing so well, I would think that Hensley will soon find himself on the outs of Astros camp.

3. Lou Palmisano C

Palmisano is the rule V pick, which means he has to do something to prove he deserves the catcher position over Quintero and Towles, and going 0 for five thus far does not help him. Luckily for him, neither of the other two catchers have been much better, which makes me say again, I NEED TO SEE OFFENSE FROM THE CATCHER TODAY!

4. Edwin Maysonet SS

Maysonet is 0 for four with an error, and two strikeouts.

5. Tim Byrdak LHP

His job is not guaranteed now that Wesley Wright is the top lefty in the ‘pen.

Yordanny Ramirez OF

Ramirez is 0 for 6 with two strikeouts, and is at the bottom of the fifth outfielder totem poll but, I cannot knock Ramirez after the ESPN top-ten play.



Category: MLB
Posted on: February 27, 2009 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2009 4:55 pm

Astros Spring Training Performance Chart: TWO

Welcome back to the Astrosspring training performance chart, which is its new working title, I am open to suggestions though. Anyways, this second edition responds to the performances of the second and third spring training games. The list has expanded to twenty player’s who are performing well, and five who are not. Also, a bit of news, Jason Castro , Houston’s 2008 first round pick and top prospect made an appearance in the latest spring game; he went 0 for one playing from the sixth on. Also, Miguel Tejada will be playing in the WBC, flip-flopper, which will give more playing time to potential utility infielders like Edwin Maysonet, Tommy Manzella, Jason Smith , and Drew Sutton – of course we all know I would like Geoff Blum to be the utility infielder but, more on that when we get to the number one performer... which is just about now, enjoy, discuss.

Astros Spring Training Performance Chart

1. Chris Johnson 3B Previous Rank (PR): 2 +1

I love Chris Johnson. A third basemen, who can field, and hit for average and power, YAY! [Cough] Cooper [cough] start him! [Cough] start him! Johnson has an OPS of 2.350 after three games, and leads the team with seven total bases in only four at bats… yeah, yeah, small sample size. I just like seeing this young guy hit. If Johnson can be a productive third baseman this year, it would allow Geoff Blum to fill in on the bench, and become the super utility guy. He would also give Houston a solid bat off the bench, something I feel they will be lacking if Blum starts. Anyways, I hope to continue writing Johnson’s name at the top of this list all spring - thus far he has been very impressive. I should note that even if Johnson has a tremendous spring it does not assure him the starting gig…also, what if Johnson is more Towles then Pence?

2. Russ Ortiz RHP PR : 1 -1

Ortiz only slips because of Johnson’s continued superb play. Ortiz pitched two scoreless innings striking out three batters in Houston’s first spring training game. I believe Monday will be his next appearance.

3. Brandon Backe RHP PR : Not Ranked (NR)

Backe topped the other list yesterday but, answered right back with a solid two innings. He falls one spot below Ortiz because Ortiz seemed more dominant during his outing. Backe allowed one hit, and also struck out one for a very good first outing. I am very interested to see these two battle for the fifth rotation spot. It is good to see two quality candidates.

4. Roy Oswalt RHP PR: NR

He’s only behind the other two pitchers because he is not fighting for a roster spot, and I figured I should focus on those types. Oswalt dominated the first inning of yesterday’s spring training game , striking out the side. However, he lost control of his curveball later in the outing, and allowed a couple of runs, still overall he performed very well – he only allowed one hit, and one walk despite the two runs. Oswalt will leave Astros camp to join team USA for the WBC so, he is unlikely to reappear on this list… unless he completely dominates the WBC!

5. Miguel Tejada SS PR: NR

Here come the superstars! Tejada was one for two with a double, rbi and two runs scored batting fifth – his likely lineup spot for most of the season. Tejada will play for the DR in the WBC, which I think is good because it will give us an extended look at some younger players.

6. Hunter Pence OF PR: NR

Pence did not log a hit but, he did have two walks and did not strikeout, he also stole a base. The two walks encourage me because I would like to see Pence play towards the top of the order.

7. Carlos Lee OF PR: NR

Lee also did not log a hit but, he too walked twice, he did however strikeout but, scored two runs – admittedly the two runs scored make Lee’s stat line more appealing but, two walks from Pence is huge from my standpoint considering his usual poor discipline, and was one of the few highlights from today’s game. Lee will also be leaving for the WBC, playing for Venezuela.

8. Drew Sutton 2B/3B PR: 4 -4

Sutton has three hits this spring and has scored two runs as well. However, he has only played second, and third base, and I would like to see him at shortstop since he is auditioning for the utility job, which would require him backing up Tejada once every two weeks or so. Sutton should spend a good amount of time there since Tejada will be out of camp.

9. Mike Hampton RHP PR : 3 -6

Yes, six spots is a big drop, especially considering Hampton has not played since I ranked him third but, one, many players have been added to the list, as they have made their spring debuts, and two, the more I have thought about it, the more I disliked Hampton’s lack of command in his start. Hampton pitched two scoreless innings hitting the first batter and walking the next two. That is just too many base runners for my taste – Hampton also struck out two batters.

10. Jason Smith INF PR : 6 -4

RBI triple in the first game. Smith is also the only utility candidate to play shortstop, and not allow an error.

11. Wesley Wright LHP PR: 12 +1

Wright now has two innings pitched in relief, and an ERA of 0, he has allowed two hits, and one unearned run.

12. J.R. Towles C PR: 7 -5

Towles is still the only catcher with a hit – Humberto Quintero went 0 for three yesterday.

13. Reggie Abercrombie OF PR: 5 -8

Abercrombie has two extra base hits, two rbis, and five total bases, he should probably be higher ‘I have made a huge mistake.’ (What TV show?)

14. Michael Bourn OF PR: 8 -6

He is now one for five with a double, rbi, strikeout, walk, and stolen base.

15. Bud Norris RHP PR: NR

Houston’s top pitching prospect threw a perfect inning which included two strikeouts.

16. Tyler Lumsden PR: NR

Lumsden’s inning was also scoreless, and he struck out two batters but, he also walked a guy, and later picked him off.

17. Geoff Geary RHP PR : 9 -8

Geary still has one scoreless inning with one hit allowed.

18. Samuel Gervacio RHP PR : 10

One inning pitched, Gervacio allowed one walk, and struck out a batter.

19. Tim Byrdak LHP PR : 11

Byrdak is another one scoreless inning reliever; his included a walk, and a hit, so he falls after the previous four.

20. Mark Saccamanno 1B PR: 14

Saccamanno is one for four with a triple, run scored, and strikeout. However, his value his limited because he is not a suitable backup at third. He is very much like Mike Lamb .

The Bad List

1. Gilbert De La Vara LHP

De La Vara’s chances of making the team just got slimmer. De La Vara allowed two runs in one and two thirds innings allowing two hits, a walk, and a homerun blowing the save yesterday.

2. Sergio Perez RHP

Perez allowed four hits which turned into four runs, two earned, in ZERO registered innings. However, Perez falls below De La Vara on this list because he [Perez] did not have a real shot of making the club out of spring training , and if De La Vara does not, he is out of the organization since he was chosen in the rule V draft.

3. Aaron Boone 3B/1B

Two words: CHRIS JOHNSON! Going 0 for five thus far this spring also does not help.

4. Yordany Ramirez OF

0 for four with two strikeouts, Ramirez is falling far behind Reggie Abercrombie and Jason Michaels in competition for the fifth outfielder job.

5. Edwin Maysonet INF

He is the only utility candidate without a hit (Smith, Tommy Manzella, and Drew Sutton all have at least one) and he now has an error just like Manzella.





Category: MLB
Posted on: February 26, 2009 12:09 pm

Astros Spring Training Performance Rankings: One

Performance Rankings in Astros Camp

I am going to be honest with you, I am not really sure what this list measures. However, I am using it to describe who is performing the best in Spring Training , and ultimately you has the best chance of winning jobs for the start of the season. This is not a list of the best players in camp but, who is performing, and thus making the best case for themselves. I will update it fairly often throughout Spring Training. Enjoy, and discuss.

Top 15 performers as of 2/26 11:46 AM EST:

1. Russ Ortiz RHP

Two scoreless innings a walk, a hit, and three strikeouts, Ortiz is the new top candidate to join the starting rotation.

2. Chris Johnson 3B

The homerun is not going to win him the job but, it should start to make him a serious contender. It is in Houston’s best interest for Johnson to win the starting spot, and Blum to return to the bench.

3. Mike Hampton RHP

Two scoreless innings, he was a little shaky, hitting the first batter but, a couple more outings like this will put us fans’ minds at ease.

4. Drew Sutton 2B

Sutton was the only player to log in multiple hits… so of course he is going to be high.

5. Reggie Abercrombie OF

Two RBIs with two outs, Abercrombie is looking to win the fifth outfielder job over Jason Michaels .

6. Jason Smith INF

RBI triple

7. J.R. Towles C

Towles was the only catcher to log a hit yesterday.

8. Michael Bourn OF

Good outing for Bourn, an RBI double but, also a strikeout.

9. Geoff Geary RHP

10. Samuel Gervacio RHP

11. Tim Byrdak LHP

12. Wesley Wright LHP

All four of these relievers did not allow an earned run, Wright’s did allow one though - that’s why he’s last.

13. Tommy Manzella SS

A hit for the defensive specialist but, he did give up an error.

14. Mark Saccamanno 1B/3B/DH

15. Darin Erstad OF/1B

The final two guys with hits yesterday, they both went 1 for 2, Saccamano’s was a triple.

5 Guys whose stock is dropping:

1. Brandon Backe RHP

Backe is now on the outside looking in.

2. Danny Graves RHP

Four hits and two runs in one inning is not a good start to the spring for someone who has to really impress if he wants a job.

3. Aaron Boone 3B

Johnson’s homerun has to start to level the playing field… sorry Aaron; you will always have that ALCS.

4. Jason Michaels OF

It is not a problem that Michaels failed to log a hit but, Abercrombie, and Bourn both had good games and have taken the lead in the OF open spots.

5. Brian Bogusevic OF

Like Michaels, Bogey did not log in a hit. No big deal, I just had to add a fifth guy.


Category: MLB
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