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
Posted on: February 26, 2009 11:21 am
Edited on: February 26, 2009 12:09 pm
 

Top 60 prospects for the 2009 mlb draft

You want some baseball info, fine; I’ll give you some baseball info. Here are the top 60 draft eligible baseball prospects for the 2009 amateur draft. As a disclaimer, I made this list by first creating my top 15 high school pitchers, college pitchers, college bats, and high school bats. Then I ranked those 60 prospects. So, this is not a true big board but, it is certainly a good working list. I do not have capsules on individual players but, I have put them into tiers, and analyzed the groups a little, enjoy. As far as the blog is concerned, I am working on some NBA stuff, and creating an Astros spring training power list… more on that later. As always, comments are much appreciated.

Top 60 2009 MLB Draft Prospects

1. Steven Strasburg RHP San Diego State

He’s the consensus top pick in the 2009 draft. He will become one of the top three pitching prospects when he’s drafted.

2. Alex White RHP North Carolina

3. Grant Green SS Southern California

4. Dustin Ackley 1B/OF North Carolina

These are the next three prospects, all coming out of college. They will likely go between picks two and four in the draft, unless one of the two high school lefties goes ahead of them.

5. Matthew Purke LHP HS Texas

6. Donovan Tate OF HS Georgia

7. Kyle Gibson RHP Missouri

8. Tyler Matzek LHP HS California

9. Aaron Crow RHP Missouri/Independent League

Purke and Matzek are the aforementioned lefties both have low 90s fastballs and advanced breaking balls. Tate has a ton of upside as a five-tooler but, has a strong football commitment to North Carolina. Gibson and Crow are the next group of college pitchers. Crow was picked by the Nationals with the ninth pick last year.

10. Andrew Oliver LHP Oklahoma State

11. Kentrail Davis OF Tennessee

12. Shelby Miller RHP HS Texas

13. Jacob Turner RHP HS Georgia

14. Robbie Shields 2B Florida Southern

15. Mychal Givens RHP/SS HS Florida

16. Matt Davidson 3B HS California

A mixed group here but, any of these seven could go tenth after the top nine are drafted. Givens is an interesting player as he has garnered attention as a possible five-tool shortstop or as a pitcher with a 95 mph heater.

17. Mike Minor LHP Vanderbilt

18. Austin Maddox C HS Florida

19. Luke Bailey C Georgia

20. Zach Wheeler RHP HS Georgia

21. Josh Phegley C Indiana

22. Tanner Scheppers RHP Fresno State/Independent League

23. Kendal Volz RHP Baylor

This group is filled with guys with who there are varying opinions. Minor, Maddox, Scheppers, Phegley, and Volz could all go inside the top 12 picks however; they could also slip to the back end of the first round. Bailey and Wheeler are the exceptions to that rule though, and should go between 18, and 23. Wheeler is currently the guy I am looking at for the Astros with the 21<sup>st</sup> pick.

24. Ben Tootle RHP Jacksonville State

25. Jason Stoffel RHP Arizona

26. Ryan Jackson SS Miami

27. Brian Goodwin OF HS North Carolina

28. Max Stassi C HS California

Tootle and Stoffel are the two best pure relievers in the draft while, the latter three are position players who could be chosen ahead of them. Jackson is a defensive specialist who could jump ahead in the draft – like Jermile Weeks last year – Goodwin is the classic five-tool high school outfielder, and Stassi is the fourth elite catcher in the draft. The order of this group all comes down to taste.

29. AJ Pollock 2B/OF Notre Dame

30. Matt Graham RHP HS Texas

31. Keyvius Sampson RHP HS Florida

32. Robert Stock C Southern California

33. Alex Wilson RHP Texas A&M

34. Chris Jenkins RHP HS New Jersey

35. Jake Marisnick OF HS California

The two college position players here (Stock and Pollock) are both rather polarizing. I know I just said there were only four elite catchers BUT, five could go in the first round, and Stock had a very impressive opening weekend. Pollock isn’t gifted with an abundance of tools but, he has excellent discipline at the plate, has speed, and most importantly delivers. I like him. The high school pitchers are all high upside guys, Sampson could go in the first twenty though, while the others will have to wait till the back end of the first or even supplemental round. Wilson plays for the best college team in the nation, and had a very good opening weekend, like Stock, he is a safe pick.

36. Ryan Wheeler 1B/3B Layola Marymount

37. Ryan Ortiz C/1B Oregon State

38. Daniel Webb RHP Northwest Florida State CC

Nothing too special about this group, if one of them does rise into the first round it may be Webb, who was considered a first round talent last season but, dropped deep into the draft, and went to junior college to try and raise his stock while remaining eligible. Wheeler has some upside but, you can find first basemen with 25 homerun power later on.

Ortiz is very questionable at catcher but, if a team thinks he can stick there, and the above five are gone he could be the sixth catcher in the first round… that would be something.

39. Jonathan Walsh 3B/C HS Texas

40. Beau Wright LHP HS California

41. Sean Black RHP Seton Hall

42. Chris Dominguez 3B Louisville

43. Brett Jackson OF California

44. LeVon Washington OF/2B HS Florida

45. DJ LeMaheiu SS/3B LSU

46. Bobby Borchering 3B HS Florida

A seventh catcher? Maybe, Walsh is a terrific athlete, with a strong arm, and very good hitting ability. I think he is going to be a steal if he is not drafted in the first round. Dominguez has an enormous amount of power and a very strong arm from third but, is probably the biggest strikeout risk in the draft, and that will cause him to slip. Borchering is a switch hitter with good hitting ability from both sides. He is a good defender, with a good arm from third.

47. Devan Marrero SS HS Florida

48. Jared Mitchel OF Louisiana State

49. Blake Smith RHP/OF California

50. Ben Paulsen 1B Clemson

51. Chad Thompson HS California

52. Jiovanni Mier SS HS California

53. Brad Boxberger RHP Southern California

54. Ian Krol LHP HS Illinois

55. Jonathan Singleton 1B HS California

56. Colton Cain 1B/LHP HS Texas

57. Randal Grichuk OF HS Texas

58. Tyler Skaggs LHP HS California

59. Geno Escalante C HS California

60. Byran Berglund RHP HS California

I bunched what would have been the last two groups. It filled with some high upside shortstops, high school lefties, and such. Marrero, Mitchel, Mier, and Boxberger have the best chance of moving up into the first round. Some of the high school pitchers in this group are the types to be taken in the supplemental round.

 

There’s your top 60.

 

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 28, 2008 11:47 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2008 11:52 pm
 

Top 15 Prospects: NL West

Next Up: My National League Review, then onward to the American League which I would love to have done before Spring Training.

NL West Top Prospects Team Rankings

I would just like to say that these Team Rankings are based on my top 15 prospect lists only, not the state of the organizations entire farm system. The numbers next to each team’s names is the amount of points they scored in my ranking system. The highest possible score is 150. It should also be noted that you cannot take the below “scores” and compare them to that of a NL Central or NL East team, this is because the scores are relative only to the other teams in its division. My next post will be a review of the top prospect lists of the entire National League, and there I will have a ranking of all NL teams.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks 44

Only Jarrod Parker made the top 25 list [below], although Daniel Schlereth would be one of the next three guys on, and he [Schlereth], along with Gerardo Parra made the second all-prospect team. This is, probably, the worst compilation of a team’s top 15 prospects I have ranked thus far. Only the top three prospects (Parker, Schlereth, and Parra) project to be productive major leaguers. It was only a few years ago when the Diamondback’s farm was one of the best in baseball but, since then, guys like Justin Upton, Chris Young, and Max Scherzer have graduated to the majors, and others like Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith have been traded away, also they received no promising prospects when they traded Jose Valverde to the Astros – and Astros fans everywhere, including here on this blog, thank you – Juan Gutierrez is not a “promising prospect”. Luckily the Diamondbacks have a good young team right now, and do not need many more pieces, in fact, Schlereth, and Parker may be enough. That will give the organization a little time to improve the farm.

4. Las Angeles Dodgers 78

A tough ranking, I know. The Dodgers have three stellar pitching prospects in Scott Elbert, Ethan Martin, and James McDonald – not to mention Clayton Kershaw who just graduated to the majors in the later part of last season. They also have Chris Withrow, and Josh Lindblom, who both have the potential to become very good pitching prospects prospects. The Dodgers also have a couple of solid hitting prospects, as well, in Ivan DeJesus and Andrew Lambo. However, the Dodgers lack the kind of depth the Rockies, and Padres have.

3. Colorado Rockies 97

I love Dexter Fowler, who happens to be the best position prospect in the division. The emergence of Jhoulys Chacin gives the Rockies a second top five prospect (in the division). After those two, however, the talent level drops off a bit. Wilin Rosario and Mike McKenry are very intriguing catcher prospect, and Christian Friedrich is a future middle of the rotation pitcher. What sets the Rockies apart from the Dodgers is their abundance of high mid-level prospects. Such as: Eric Young Jr., Darin Holcomb, Hector Gomez, Chris Nelson, and Charles Blackmon. All of whom will never become big league stars but, most of them should be productive major leaguers at some point I their careers. I cannot, however, say the same about the Dodgers’ mid-level prospects, guys like Austin Gallagher, Josh Bell, and Cole St. Clair.

2. San Diego Padres 98

The Padres just edge out the Rockies for this spot. This is a little surprising, seeing as how I ranked the Padres best prospect, Mat Latos, the worst of any prospect ranked as his team’s best. However, the Padres have several other top tier prospects to add to the high upside Latos. Guys like Kellen Kulbacki, Kyle Blanks, Will Inman, and Cedric Hunter bolster that group. The Padres have the second most prospects in the NL West’s top 25 with seven prospects. The Padres also have an impressive group of mid-level prospects in players like Mitch Canham, Nick Schmidt, Jaff Decker, James Darnell, and Drew Cumberland.

1. San Francisco Giants 133

Without a doubt the Giants top the division. The Giants have eight of their prospects making the top 25 list, and seven of them made the First NL West all-prospect team. The Giants have a ton of top tier prospects, as I ranked five of them in the top ten in the division. The Giants also have good balance, with a couple of high quality pitchers in Bumgarner and Alderson, and a number of productive hitters in Nate Shierholtz, Nick Noonan, Buster Posey, and Conor Gillaspie.

If you are interested in seeing a more in depth look for any of these teams, just check my archives, or go to my blogs homepage, and scroll down.

NL West Top 25 Prospects

25. Conor Gillaspie 3B/2B SF

I really like Gillaspie as either a third or second basemen with a high batting average, and at least solid defense.

24. Allan Dykstra 1B SD

You have to like Dyksta’s bat with 20-30 homerun potential, and above average plate discipline. He also is not going to hurt a team defensively.

23. Henry Sosa RHSP SF

Sosa has great stuff – with his 97 mph fastball and above average curveball – but the lack of command, and unimpressive numbers at his age and level concern me.

22. Andrew Lambo 1B/OF LAD

I will admit, I may have him a little too low but, I do not totally buy into him as an outfielder yet. I also think his chance of being a bust is still high, and he has to shore up that 3:1 K to BB ratio. He is young, and has a lot of upside though, very high ceiling.

21. Cedric Hunter OF SD

Maybe Hunter’s tools are a little too close to average to be higher than Lambo but, I think his bust potential is much lower, and I like his 1:1 K to BB ratio at the age of 20.

20. Matt Antonelli 2B SD

I still like him. High walk rates – 1:1 K to BB ratio – above average defensively, 20-30 SBs a year, some power potential – could hit 20 homeruns, probably will hit somewhere in the 10-15 range. Very disappointing 2008, look for him to bounce back in spring training to become the Padres everyday second basemen in 2009.

19. James McDonald RHSP LAD

Will Inman or James McDonald? McDonald throws a low 90s fastball, and a 12-6 curveball which he uses as an out pitch. He is major league ready, and will become a solid number four starter next season.

18. Kyle Blanks 1B SD

Blanks hit 20 homeruns in 2008, and he still has more power in his tank. I may have him rated to low, like I did for Lambo – what is it with me not liking big power 1B/LF guys? He is a decent athlete for his massive size but, still below average defensively.

17. Will Inman RHSP SD

I really like Inman, and like his 2008 stats better, I may have even over rated him because of them. Inman’s stuff is not very impressive throwing a 90 mph fastball, and low 70s/high 60s curveball, his stuff his pretty deceptive, though, and fools hitters – which is all that matters. I think his makeup, and pitchibility are enough to make him a number three starter.

16. Christian Friedrich LHSP COL

I love this guy. He throws three major league average pitches in his fastball, cutter, and plus curveball, and also had a great debut to pro ball.

15. Wilin Rosario C COL

Great defensive catcher with a strong arm – throwing out 46% of would be base stealers. Rosario also has some offensive upside with plus power potential, and hit well overall in the Rookie League last season. He has the potential to be an elite catcher.

14. Ivan DeJesus SS/2B LAD

DeJesus is an above average offensive minded middle infielder. He has great hitting ability, with good plate patience, lacking power; he also has enough speed to steal 20 bases most seasons.

13. Ethan Martin RHSP LAD

2008 first round pick, Martin throws three above average pitches in his fastball, power curve, and splitter. He is very athletic for a pitcher, and garnered scout’s attention as both a pitcher, and third basemen. He has future number two written on him.

12. Kellen Kulbacki OF SD

Kulbacki hit .300/.400/.500+ last season, and shows no signs of slowing down. Sure, he is nothing spectacular defensively, and will probably play left his entire career; his bat has been playing very well. Next season in double A will be a good measure of what he could be in the majors.

11. Nick Noonan 2B SF

Great defender at second – his weak arm prevents will prevent him from playing short. Noonan profiles as a top of the order hitter, he has above average contact ability, and capable of stealing more than 30 bases a year, however, he really has to work on his plate patience.

10. Nate Schierholtz OF SF

Schierholtz is an average corner outfielder offensively, and above average defensively, with a canon of an arm.

9. Mat Latos RHSP SD

Latos depends on his plus mid 90s fastball but, is now starting to mix in his “knuckle” curve which grades as above average, or possibly plus, in the future. Statistically he was right on track in his half season last summer. Latos could be a top 5 guy – on this list – next season if he puts up good numbers over a full season in 2009.

8. Scott Elbert LHP LAD

Elbert just edges Latos because he is major league ready, and has a better track record; however, Latos has the higher ceiling, especially if Elbert ends up in the bullpen for good. Scott still has top of the rotation stuff, with his plus fastball and slider combo but, due to injuries the Dodgers have him in the bullpen – for now.

7. Angel Villalona 1B SF

Villalona is very young and very undisciplined – recording a K:BB ratio of 6.5:1 in 2008. However, he does have plus plus power potential, and has already started to show some of it but, his power numbers will rise, if he improves his discipline.

6. Tim Alderson RHSP SF

Alderson has great command, and pairs it with a couple of plus pitches in his low-mid 90s fastball, and power curve.

5. Buster Posey C SF

Posey is a plus defender, and has a lot of upside offensively. He will hit for a high average, and average power could develop eventually. He is a good athlete behind the plate. I had him as the number one pick in my mock draft back in June but, instead fell to number five.

4. Jhoulys Chacin RHSP COL

I really like Chacin, he led the minors in wins in 2008. He throws a mid 90s sinking fastball, and plus changeup. He is a number two starter.

3. Jarrod Parker RHSP ARI

Parker is the first of two pitchers on this list to possess a plus plus fastball. He throws his in the mid-high 90s, and has great command of it. He also throws a slider, curveball, and changeup, the first of which could be a plus pitch as well.

2. Dexter Fowler OF COL

I really debated making Fowler the top guy in the NL West but, ultimately decided on Bumgarner instead. Fowler is a 5-tooler who plays exceptional defense, and will be a well above average centerfielder offensively, as well.

1. Madison Bumgarner LHSP SF

Bumgarner, like Parker, throws a plus plus fastball in the mid-high 90s – and he could add a couple ticks of velocity still. It [his fastball] also has a ton of late tailing action. Bumgarner has also messed around with a couple different breaking pitches (curveball, and slider) but, as of yet none of them really stand out. Bumgarner has ace potential if he can establish his secondary stuff.

First Team All NL West Prospects

C Buster Posey SF
1B Angel Villalona SF
2B Nick Noonan SF
SS Ivan DeJesus LAD
3B Conor Gillaspie SF
CF Dexter Fowler COL
RF Nate Schierholtz SF
LF Kellen Kulbacki SD
SP1 Madison Bumgarner SF
SP2 Jarrod Parker ARI
SP3 Jhoulys Chacin COL
SP4 Tim Alderson SF
SP5 Mat Latos SD
RP Scott Elbert LAD
HM Allan Dykstra 1B SD

No hard decisions here. The outfield even works perfectly for a RF, CF, LF. The pitching staff is full of aces. Even with Elbert in the bullpen.

Second Team All NL West Prospects

C Wilin Rosario COL
1B Kyle Blanks SD
2B Matt Antonelli SD
SS Hector Gomez COL
3B Darin Holcomb COL
CF Cedric Hunter SD
RF Gerardo Parra ARI
LF Andrew Lambo LAD
SP1 Ethan Martin LAD
SP2 Will Inman SD
SP3 James McDonald
SP4 Henry Sosa SF
SP5 Josh Lindblom LAD
RP Daniel Schlereth ARI
HM Mike McKenry C COL

There is a significant drop off at all positions except LF, 1B, and possibly 2B, and C. The pitching staff likely only has one top of the rotation guy in Ethan Martin, the rest either have lower ceilings (McDonald, Inman, Lindblom) or have big bust potential (Sosa). Holcomb and Gomez make the list due to a lack of depth on the left side of the infield.

Posted on: December 23, 2008 3:20 am
 

Top 15 Prospects: San Francisco Giants

The Giants are the final national league team, finally!  I hope you guys have enjoyed the first half of my Top 15 Prospects series, I know I have enjoyed writing it.  This article will be followed by a divisional wrap up - probably sometime after Christmas.  Then I will do some kind of special National League wrap up... I just do not know what exactly.  I just know it will include a top 50 list, and I will probably rank each team against each other, I may have to break it up into a couple of different parts.  Then in 2009 I will start the AL beginning with the AL East, and the Baltimore Orioles - here's a teaser, Matt Wieters is the top Orioles prospect. 

As always, if you read the article post a comment - they can range from voicing your discrepancies with my list, mention guys I may have omitted, point out flaws in my list, talk about other prospects, when/where these prospects will play.  Let's get some discussion going. 

Commonly Used Abbreviations:
MLL – minor league level
AAA
AA
A+ - high A
“A-“ - low A
A - Played at both high, and low A
a – short season A
R – Rookie league
w – Winter league stats included
Statistics:
BA – batting average
OBP – On Base %
SLG – Slugging %
OPS – OBP + SLG
XBH – extra base hit %
K:BB – ratio of strikeouts to walks

San Francisco Giants Top 15 Prospects

1. Madison Bumgarner LHSP Age: 19 MLL: A-

There may not have been a more impressive pitcher in all of minor league baseball last year, yes, that includes David Price.  Bumgarner pitched in 142 innings with a 1.46 ERA striking out 164 batters, and holding opponents to a .216 batting average.  Bumgarner has a PLUS PLUS fastball, he throws it up to 96, and still has enough projection for its velocity to rise.  As a lefty Bumagarner’s fastball has a lot of late tailing movement.  He also throws a curveball, which could be a plus pitch in the future, he also shows a slider which could be promising – he has messed around with the grip of his breaking pitches so, it is tough to tell whether he will though both a curveball, and slider – his changeup is a below average pitch.  He also has impressive control for a flamethrower, his command is better than average.  Bumagarner is a future front of the rotation starter with ace potential if he can develop a reliable breaking pitch.   

2. Buster Posey C Age: 21 MLL: A-/a/w

Posey was the number five pick in the 2008 draft.  He has very advanced batting skills, hitting .342, with a .425 OBP split between the end of the 2008 season, and the Hawaii Winter Baseball league.  Posey has below average power, though he did post a .467 SLG% in 2008, his XBH% was only .29, he could hit 10-20 homeruns in the future.  Posey already has good plate discipline.  One of the reasons Posey was drafted so high was his defensive ability.  Posey should be a plus defender when he makes it to the big leagues, he has an average arm behind the plate.  Since before the draft I have been really high on Posey, and I think he has the potential to be an above average catcher both offensively, and defensively very soon. 

3. Tim Alderson RHSP Age: 20 MLL: A+

Alderson put up a great 2008 campaign, pitching 145 innings with an ERA of 2.79 striking out 124 batters.  He throws his fastball in the low to mid 90s.  He also throws a plus power curveball between 80 and 78 mph, and a changeup he is still developing.  Alderson has great command.  There is not much downside with Alderson, although it would be great if he could get his changeup to be an average pitch.  I believe Alderson profiles more as  a number three starter, rather than a top of the rotation guy but, he could be a number two starter if that changeup improves – of course he will never be asked to be a number two starter in San Francisco with Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner. 

4. Angel Villalona 1B Age: 18 MLL: A-

Villalona was much younger than his competitors in low A last season, yet, he put up somewhat respectable numbers.  Hitting .263, with a .435 SLG%, and .38 XBH, however, Villalona’s OBP was only .312.  Villalona also managed a dismal 6.5:1 K to BB raito.  Villalona did hit 17 homeruns, though, and his future power grades somewhere between plus, and plus plus.  Villalona was originally signed as a third basemen but, now is viewed, by most, as a first basemen only – although there is plenty of debate surrounding whether he can play third or not.  Villalona has as much potential as anyone on this list but, he is still a long way from reaching it, and I am not confident he can shore up that K:BB ratio. 

5. Nate Schierholtz OF Age: 24 MLL: AAA

Schierholtz is a tough guy to rank – since he is major league ready, compared to the projects that surround him (Villalona, Sosa, and Noonan).  He put up great numbers in AAA in 2008 in between being called up.  He hit for an average of .320, and an on base % of .363.  Schierholtz has good power –about average for a corner outfielder – hitting 18 homeruns in 350 at bats, with a SLG% of .594, and XBH% of .45.  However, Shierholtz lacks discipline at the plate striking out 67 times, compared to 38 walks.  Schierholtz is a good fielder in right, and possesses a canon arm.  Offensively, Schierholtz is about average, maybe a little above, across the board for a corner outfielder. 

6. Nick Noonan 2B Age: 19 MLL: A-

Noonan has above average contact ability, and average power potential – he could hit between 10 and 20 HRs.  In 2008 he hit .279, with only a .315 OBP, and disappointing .730 OPS.  Noonan’s K:BB ratio was greater than 4:1, which reflects his very poor plate discipline.  However, Noonan did for a surprising 9 homeruns – at least I found it surprising – and an XBH% of .31.  Noonan is a plus defender at second, with good range, and great instincts, in fact the only reason he moved off of short was because of his below average arm strength.  He has average speed but, is a great base stealer, stealing 29 last season.  Nick Noonan profiles as a top of order above average second basemen but, he is going to have to improve his plate discipline first. 

7. Henry Sosa RHSP Age: 23 MLL: A

I will start with Sosa’s 2008 stats.  Sosa was healthy for only half the year, and thus pitched in only 58 innings.  He finished the season with an ERA of 4.21, and striking out 58 batters.  Sosa throws a 97 mph fastball, and pairs it with an above average curveball, Sosa will also throw a changeup but, it is below average.  Sosa lacks command at this point in his career, it, along with staying healthy is what he will have to work on.  Sosa has the stuff to become a number three, or better, starter but, age, and health, are no longer on his side.  I think Sosa could make an effective late innings reliever, and eventually a closer. 

8. Conor Gillaspie 3B Age: 21 MLL: a

Gillaspie was the first player drafted last June to reach the big leagues.  Gillaspie is a plus contact hitter, and should hit for a high average.  He also has good plate discipline – striking out 14 times in 93 minor league at bats, while walking 12 times.  However, Conor only has doubles power, and it is not likely he will develop more.  Gillaspie has an average arm at third but, has limited range, due to fringy speed; he also is prone to fielding errors.  Still, the Giants like him at third, and believe his great instincts, and baseball know-how will allow him to learn the position, a move to second later in his career is not out of the question, though.  It is tough not to like this guy, many call him a Bill Mueller like third basemen – who has a batting title, and world series ring – and say his floor is a Mark DeRosa type of utility player, which means Gillaspie should enjoy a pretty good major league career, even if not a famed one. 

9. Matt Downs 2B Age 24 MLL: AAA/A+

Downs put up great numbers in 2008.  He has a BA of .294, with a .827 OPS.  He flashed good power, hitting 20 homeruns, and finishing the season with a .480 SLG%, and .36 XBH%.  Downs also stole 25 bases.  Along with his offensive ability, Downs is a very versatile defensive player, having the ability to field all four infield positions, and both corners of the outfield.  Downs is similar to Houston’s Drew Sutton, in that both profile as super utility players, despite the fact they put up great offensive numbers, I think Downs should get a shot at the second base job in spring training. 

10. Wendell Fairley OF Age: 20 MLL: A

Fairley is a very toolsy outfielder, who has yet to produce equivocal numbers.  I like him because Fairley had an OBP of .288 129 points higher than his batting average – thanks to a high walk rate.  He also has an average arm, plus speed, and is a good enough fielder to stay in center.  Some scouts said he had plus power potential when he was drafted in 2007 but, I do not see it, and he certainly did not show it in 2008, hitting a .337 slugging percentage, and .18 extra base hit percentage.  In the past some have questioned Fairley’s character but, those have mostly dissipated this year.  Fairley is young, toolsy, and relatively new to the sport so, I think Fairley has the ability to be a very good centerfielder but, it is going to take some time.  Just how good he becomes depends on how he develops over the next couple of seasons but, I do think he is off to a good start. 

11. Clayton Tanner LHSP Age: 21 MLL: A+

I am high on Tanner.  In 2008 he threw in 117 innings with an ERA of 3.69, and struck out 84 batters in that time.  Tanner does get hit pretty often, putting up an opposing batting average of .274.  He throws a high 80s fastball, touching 91, and also throws a curveball, slider, and changeup for strikes.  His curveball is the best of his secondary pitches, and should be his out pitch in the majors.  I like his four pitch repertoire, and advanced way of pitching but, his propensity to get hit on brings up concerns as he moves up to AA.  If he pitches well next season, in AA, you can view him as a back of the rotation guy. 

12. Kevin Pucetas RHSP Age: 24 MLL: A+

Pucetas throws four average pitches in the form of a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup – the last of which is probably his best pitch.  Last year he pitched 125 innings with a 3.02 ERA striking out 102 batters.  However, he was a 24 year old in a high A league so, take his stats at that level in perspective.  Anyways, he has four major league average pitches that makes me think he can be a back-end of the rotation starter.  Tanner edges out Puceta due to his youth, and better fastball/curveball combo. 

13. Roger Kieschnick OF Age: 21 MLL: w

Roger Kieschnick is the third 2008 draftee to make this list.  He is a potential five tool player.  However, his power is still very raw – with the chance to be above average in the future – and his poor mechanics limit his hitting ability.  Kieschnick does have a plus arm, and will be an above average right fielder defensively.  He has average or a little above speed, and is aggressive on the base paths.    He did not debut until playing in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League this fall, where he hit for an OPS of .815 but also tallied a K to BB rate of 3:1.  Kieschnick will likely start next season in low A, where I expect him to struggle to start the year.  He will have to make adjustments to his swing before putting up good numbers in pro ball, I would keep him in extended spring training, and then put him in short season A during the season. 

14. Joseph Martinez RHSP Age: 25 MLL: AA

Martinez is a very polished pitcher, who led the Eastern League in both ERA, and WHIP.  He pitched 148 innings in 2008 with a 2.49 ERA while striking out 112 batters.  Martinez throws a mid to high 80s 2-seam fastball, along with an average curveball, and changeup.  Martinez will get a chance to start for the Giants next season, although he profiles as a number five, or at best number four pitcher in the majors. 

15. Jesse English LHSP Age: 24 MLL: A+

English has been plagued by injuries but, was finally healthy in 2008.  He pitched in 135 innings with an ERA of 3.19 – fourth best in the California League - striking out 135 batters.  English’s fastball is thrown only in the high 80s but, he mixes it with a good changeup to get batters out.  A healthy season where he strikes out a batter per inning earns English the last spot on this list.

Strengths:  Two top of the rotation guys.  The Giants also have a good mix of high upside guys, and near ready, mid range potential guys.  Their top eight prospects are very impressive. 

Weaknesses:  This list is not as deep as it is for other teams but, they certainly make up a lack of depth, with some high quality prospects.  They do not have a shortstop of the future prospect that is about as big of knock as I can give. 

Next Up:  NL West wrap up, followed by the National League wrap up

Posted on: December 21, 2008 12:37 am
 

Top 15 Prospects: San Diego Padres

Sorry about another brief hiatus but, now my semester is officially over, and I should start cranking these things out again. Anyways I hope you guys enjoy.

As always, if you read the article, I ask you to comment below. I really enjoy the interaction, and discussion we have had with the previous articles (such as we had about the Rockies, and Dodgers). Some things to consider discussing are your thoughts on how I ranked the following prospects and my opinion on each, or any prospects I may have left off – state your case for them, etc. It has been a lot of fun the past couple of articles discussing with you guys so, let’s keep it going…

San Diego Padres Top 15 Prospects

1. Mat Latos RHSP Age: 21 MLL: A-/a/R

The Padres’ top spot can be highly debatable; every guy ranked 1-5 has an argument for them to be the top guy. I picked Latos. An oblique injury prevented Latos from pitching more than 56 innings but, in those 56 innings he posted a 2.57 ERA, and struck out 69 batters. Latos throws an electric fastball, with some deception, that he throws in the mid 90s. He used to throw it in almost every count but, has since developed a “knuckle”-curve which he throws in the high 70s. His curve is still in development but, will be above average, and possibly plus in the future. Latos also throws a changeup, and slider but, both grade out to below average, and he rarely throws the slider. Latos is a top of the rotation starter, now that he has a second above-average pitch; however, he is also a few years away from the major leagues.

2. Kellen Kulbacki OF Age: 23 MLL: A

I am really high on Kulbacki, as I was last season following the 2007 draft. He can flat out hit. Last season Kulbacki hit .304, with a .400 OBP, and .940 OPS. He also possesses plus power with 22 homeruns, and a slugging percentage of .540, while knocking 38% of his hits for extra bases. Kulbacki has above average plate discipline, and his K to BB ratio is closer to 1:1, than 2:1. His defense, and arm are just below average so, the most accommodating position for him is left field in the majors. He also has below average speed. Kulbacki should be an above average corner outfielder when he reaches the majors.

3. Will Inman RHSP Age: 21 MLL: AA

The best things going for Inman are his command, mental makeup, and pitchability. He put up good numbers in 2008 pitching 135 innings, in AA, with an ERA of 3.52 while accumulating 140 strikeouts. Inman’s fastball is just average, throwing in around 90 mph, but has a deceptive delivery. Inman’s curveball is his best pitch; it is an above average to plus pitch which he throws in the high 60s to low 70s. The disparity in velocities between the two pitches can really throw batters off. He also will occasionally throw a below average to average changeup. Inman’s stuff profiles him more to the back of the rotation but, I think he has the makeup to be much better, probably a number three starter.

4. Kyle Blanks 1B Age: 22 MLL: AA

I can not saying anything bad about his hitting. He ended the 2008 season with over a .300 BA, .400 OBP, .500 SLG%, and .900 OPS. He can hit, and he has plus raw power – and despite the 500 SLG% I am about to show you why it’s only plus raw power – however, his XBH% was only 30%, not terrible, but you would like to see more from a future middle of the order guy, Blanks hit 20 homeruns, though. His K:BB ratio was 90:51 last season which is also not bad – since his strikeout total is under 100, and the K:BB ratio is less than 2:1 – but, it is not going to receive my praise either. Blanks is a slightly below average defender at First Base, and his speed is below average. As I mentioned before Blanks should be a future middle of the order guy – especially with his OBP at .400+, and SLG at .500+. Blank’s biggest problem is that he will not start with the Padres with Adrian Gonzalez at first – as Gonzalez is a gold glove defender, and probably edges out Blanks offensively too – the Padres could try Blanks in left field but, I do not see him sticking there - think Adam Dunn when he plays defense.

5. Matt Antonelli 2B Age: 23 MLL: AAA

I refuse to drop Antonelli any further. Yes, his 2008 season was abysmal - .215/.335/.322/.657 but, I am going to call that one disappointing year, and look at his 2007 numbers (when he was easily a top 50 prospect) .307/.404/.491/.894 with 21 homeruns, and 28 stolen bases. So, which is the real Antonelli? Well, I do not have the answers, but we will start find out when he goes to spring training in a few months. A couple constants for Antonelli are his high walk rates and 1:1 K:BB ratios. He is also a very athletic player, with the ability to play almost anywhere on the field (except shortstop and behind the plate), and he is above average defensively with a decent arm. Antonelli probably falls somewhere in between his 2008 and 2007 seasons. Which makes him an average second basemen, maybe more if his power numbers are closer to his 2007 campaign.

6. Cedric Hunter OF Age: 20 MLL: A+

Hunter’s only plus tool is his ability to make contact. He hit .318 in 2008, with an OBP of .362. His K:BB ratio was just about 1:1 – 47 Ks to 42 BBs. It is good that he only struck out 47 times but, he needs to take more walks, and bump up his OBP a few points – luckily he’s only 20. Hunter has some power but, it is mostly line drive power to his pull – which is the left side… in PECTO Park. His slugging percentage was .442 in 2008, and he did hit 11 homeruns. Hunter is average defensively in centerfield, with average speed (12 SBs), and a slightly below average arm. The hope is that Hunter can stay in center, despite his fringe arm, because he does not have the power to make him an above average corner outfielder. Hunter looks like a top of the order guy, especially if he can raise his OBP a couple of ticks. Hunter has a lot of upside because he still has a lot of time to develop better plate discipline, and possibly more power but, if he has to move to a corner his value will drop.

7. Allan Dykstra 1B Age: 21 MLL: A+

I really like Dykstra: 1. He is a 2008 draftee 2. He has plus power, with already above average plate discipline. I am convinced Dykstra’s bat will play at first in the majors. However, Adrian Gonzalez is there for the foreseeable future, and Kyle Blanks is next in line – and also has a higher ceiling. However, Dykstra is a better fielder than Blanks, and I believe he will be an average defensive first basemen by the time he reaches the majors. He also has a higher floor – in my opinion – and has better plate discipline than Blanks – Dykstra’s K:BB ratio was 1:1 in his pro debut this past summer/fall. I see Dykstra as an above average first basemen in the future.

8. Mitch Canham C Age: 24 MLL: A+

Canham is athletic, and should be at least an average defensive catcher when he finally finishes developing. That being said Canham is above average offensively, for a catcher. In 2008 he hit .285, with a .382 OBP, and .434 SLG%, his XBH% was 34%. Canham also hit 8 homeruns, and also struck out only 73 times, compared to 66 walks, and also stole a surprising 13 bases. Canham is a line drive hitter, which means he will not hit a lot of home runs but, will hit a lot of other XBHs.

9. Nick Schmidt LHSP Age: 23 MLL: INJURED IN 2008

Yes, Schmidt missed all of 2008 following Tommy John surgery but, a lack of depth on this list allows me to make him a top 10 guy. Schmidt is a big (6’5) lefty, he throws his fastball in the low 90s (90, 91 mph), he also throws an above average changeup, and a slider which still needs to be refined. Schmidt has good command, and that darn pitchibility thing (you know when a does not have great stuff but, still manages to put up big numbers, especially at lower levels). There is no way anyone could make an accurate prediction about Schmidt’s future but, I do not see any reason why Schmidt will be any less of a pitcher now that he is healthy. He certainly looks like a major league pitcher.

10. Jaff Decker OF Age: 20 MLL: a/R

Decker is an interesting prospect. Taken in the first supplemental round of the 2008 draft, Decker hit .343, with a .513 OBP. He also showed some power, finishing the season with a .521 SLG%. He does not have much projection left power-wise, and will likely end up with only average, or maybe a little above average power. Decker plays centerfield but, he really does not project as one at the major league level, and has below average speed so, I am counting on a move to a corner, which diminishes his value. Decker has a plus arm – in fact he could make a switch to the mound, if he falls short at the plate, he throws his fastball in the 93-91 mph range with a good curveball, and good command. I have Decker pegged as an average corner outfielder, or fourth outfielder in the future.

11. James Darnell 3B Age: 21 MLL: a

Darnell has a lot of power potential, and great overall hitting ability. He hit for an OPS of 1.044 in limited action last season after being drafted in June. Darnell has very limited range – but, he does have good hands, and fielding skills - and thus will likely shift to a corner outfield spot eventually. However, I do believe Darnell has the bat to be a productive player there. He has an average arm, and is not a threat with his speed. Darnell is very raw, and should move up this list pretty fast.

12. Drew Cumberland SS Age: 19 MLL: A-/R

Cumberland is a high upside player. He has tremendous potential as a shortstop however, he is an inconsistent fielder, and may have to move to second, or centerfield – like B.J. Upton did. Cumberland hit well in 216 at bats last season. Finishing with a .296 BA, and .354 OBP, Cumberland has well below average power. Cumberland possesses plus plus speed, and has great base running instincts, as well as considerable range at short (or second, or centerfield). However, Cumberland is still a long way away, and I want to see the offensive numbers over a full year. If it turns out Cumberland will stick at short, and continues hitting at a high level, he will become one of the best prospects in this system.

13. Dan Robertson OF Age: 23 MLL: a

A personal favorite, Robertson has a very advanced approach to the game in multiple aspects. In 302 at bats Robertson hit .377, with a .443 OBP, and .497 SLG%. He also ended 2008 with a strikeout to walk ratio of 1:1 (34:34), and stole 20 bases. He is above average defensively in centerfield. Robertson was taken in the thirty third round of the amateur draft but, has thus far out played a majority of the players drafted last June. Obviously it is too early to give an accurate prediction on Robertson, and I would like to see him play a full season before thinking about moving him into the top 10.

14. Matt Buschman RHSP Age: 24 MLL: AA

You have to like the numbers Buschman put up in 2008. In AA Matt pitched in 148 innings with a 2.98 ERA, and struck out 118 innings. Buschman throws a sinker/slider combination but, his velocity max’s out in the high 80s. He will start 2009 in AAA but, will graduate to the majors if he can show last season was not a fluke, and his mediocre stuff will work at higher levels. His ceiling is not that high: a number four or five starter, or reliever but, the stats are tough to argue with.

15. Chad Huffman OF Age: 23 MLL: AA

The numbers were there in 2008, Huffman hit .284, with a .383 OBP. However, he did not hit for much power; hitting nine homeruns, and finishing the season with a .419 SLG%, and .32 XBH%. Huffman is very limited defensively, which makes the power numbers all the more important. Huffman could/should be a very good role player, and likely bench outfielder, with a good bat.

Strengths: After finishing the write-up on this system, I like it more than I did when I started. One thing I really like about this list is its diversity. The Padres have a really high ceiling pitcher in Latos, as well as a lower ceiling “sure thing” pitcher close to the majors in Will Inman. They have some high ceiling bats in Kyle Blanks, Dykstra, Darnell, and Cedric Hunter, as well as a couple guys with more polish in Kulbacki, Antonelli, Dykstra – he could be classified as either, and Mitch Canham, Cumberland is a bit of a wild card.

Weaknesses: I do not think they have that one true number one prospect – instead they have a good number of top five guys… which is certainly not bad. I have Latos ranked number one, but he is still mostly projection, Kulbacki does not have the largest ceiling, and I am not sold on Blanks. Otherwise… good list.

Next Up: San Francisco Giants, then the NL West Wrap up, then I conclude the National League with yet another wrap up.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 5:56 pm
 

Ok, Let's Talk About the Astros...

Last night the Astros, once again, proved their commitment to slashing payroll; when they non-tendered Ty Wigginton, one of Houston's top batters in 2008, especially after Carlos Lee went down for the year. Wigginton was set to make between 7 and 9 million in arbitration, and the Astros were unsuccessful in trading him away so, they cut him from the team. Also non-tendered was fifth outfielder candidate Reggie Abercrombie.

What I am going to do in this blog post is: analyze each position for the Astros, and the contenders to take over certain positions. Then in the comments section I think we should all hash out some ideas, discuss who the best options are, and what is most likely to happen. Sound good? Good.

Pitchers:

The Astros are going to carry 12 pitchers (they always do). So, first we'll look at the rotation, and then the bullpen

Rotation

1. Roy Oswalt
2. Wandy Rodriguez
3. Brian Moehler
These three are almost assured spots in the rotation. They were Houston's three most consistent starters, throughout the year.

The contenders for the fourth, and fifth spots:

-Mike Hampton
Certainly the favorite for the fourth spot. He just signed a 1-year 2 million deal, and his best years were in Houston (granted with the Astrodome). But, as long as he is healthy I do not mind giving Hampton a rotation spot.

-Brandon Backe
The non-tender nominee, was given a second chance by the Astros. Now they will give him about a million dollars to prove his worth in Spring Training. Backe is definitely the favorite for the firth rotation spot... assuming Hampton's healthy (you never know.

-Felipe Paulino
If he's ready by Spring Training, he'll be in the conversation but, since he was injured all last season I do not see how he could have improved upon last spring training. I take him more seriously as a bullpen candidate. Likely headed to Round Rock to start.

-Brad James
-Bud Norris
-Polin Trinidad
-Sergio Perez

All four are AA starters who I expect to be in Spring Training. It is highly unlikely any of them win one of the two available spots. Maybe later in the year though.

-Alberto Arias
I am not high on him but, he will be in Spring Training to compete for the fifth spot with Backe.

-Jack Cassel
Highly unlikely to be the fifth starter, maybe long reliever.

-Fernando Nieve
At this point he's a bullpen candidate only

-Shawn Chacon... just kidding

Likely Rotation to start the season:
Oswalt
Rodriguez
Moehler
Hampton
Backe

Bullepen

Guaranteed a spot:
Valverde
Brocail
LaTroy Hawkins
Geoff Geary

Remaining three spots:

-Chris Sampson

You would think a spot would be his but, surgery, and the abundance of right-handers already in the pen may hurt his chances of making the team

-Brandon Backe

If he misses the rotation yet, has a productive spring (a couple of big ifs) I think he would end up here, or be cut.

-Albert Arias

I do not like his chances, but he will be in Spring Training, so he has a shot.

-Tim Byrdak
-Wesley Wright
-Tyler Lumsden
-Gilbert de la Vera
I expect two of these four to make the team. It would take a lot from de la Vera or Lumsden to overthrow one of the two incumbents. If de la Vera doesn’t make the team Houston will have to offer him back to… [Insert the team Houston took him from in the Rule V draft here].

-Fernando Nieve

A perennial contender for a bullpen spot, I really do not like his chances since there are other more veteran options, and the abundance of right-handers.

-Felipe Paulino

I am not entirely sure how his health is right now but, I am going to assume he is healthy by Spring Training. Paulino still has excellent stuff, and should contend for a rotation spot but, he’ll be rusty after missing last season. I expect him to start in Round Rock, and then get called up in May, or June as a late inning reliever. If Valverde is traded or not signed long term, Paulino is probably the best closing option they have.

Bullpen looks like:

Valverde

Brocail

Hawkins

Geary

Byrdak

Wright

Sampson

Batting Lineup:

Catcher

Quintero seems to have it looked up. He will be backed up by either J.R. Towles or Lou Palmisano – a recent Rule 5 pickup. I really cannot see Towles losing out to Palmisano in Spring Training, and I even think he will take the starting job before the start of the season. Towles was rushed into the starting position last season and failed to perform in the majors but, he was terrific when he was sent back down. Jason Castro may be in the mix at the end of the season.

Starter: J.R. Towles

Bench: Humberto Quintero

Infield:

First Base: Berkman

Second Base: Matsui

Shortstop: Tejada

Things get tricky at third, after Wigginton’s dismissal. I am going to list all of the contenders, and evaluate each of them.

-Geoff Blum

The obvious favorite, Blum was very successful as both a defensive replacement and a pinch hitter last season. However, he has started in the past, and I think he would a mediocre everyday player, at best.

Tommy Manzella SS – In this scenario Manzella would be the everyday SS, and Tejada would shift to third. Manzella is an Adam Everett like player, great defense, meh bat.

Edwin Maysonet SS – See Tommy Manzella.

Drew Sutton – A very intriguing player. Sutton has never played above AA but, absolutely crushed Arizona Fall League pitching. However, Sutton does not have great upside, and does not profile as a third basemen because he has limited power. Still, I think he has a real shot, since the Astros need someone to fill in, even if he does not have the greatest power potential.

Chris Johnson – Possibly the joint favorite along with Blum. I think Ed Wade believes Johnson is ready to step in, and be the Astros’ third basemen but, I do not believe he is ready. If he was ready, then Johnson would be my favorite of the bunch. I just do not want to see him turn into J.R. Towles. I want Johnson to start in AAA, and get called up in May, or June when we are sure he is ready. Johnson will be the starter in 2010.

Third Base: Geoff Blum – ultimately you have to go with the sure thing in Blum.

Bench: Drew Sutton, Edwin Maysonet

Outfield

Carlos Lee

Hunter Pence

Michael Bourn

I will say that the job is not Bourn’s just yet. He is having a good Domican league season but, I believe Brian Bogusevic will make the centerfield battle interesting. The Astros want to sign Reggie Abercrombie to a minor league deal, and invite him to spring training to compete for a bench spot.

Bench: Darin Erstad, Reggie Abercrombie/Yordany Ramirez

If Michael Bourn struggles Wade will not hesitate to bring in Bogusevic from AAA.

25-man Roster

SP Roy Oswalt

SP Wandy Rodriguez

SP Brian Moehler

SP Mike Hampton

SP Brandon Backe

CL Jose Valverde

RHP Doug Brocail

RHP LaTroy Hawkins

RHP Geoff Geary

RHP Chris Sampson

LHP Tim Byrdak

LHP Wesley Wright

C J.R. Towles

C Humberto Quintero

1B Lance Berkman

2B Kaz Matsui

2B Drew Sutton

SS Miguel Tejada

SS Edwin Maysonet

3B Geoff Blum

LF Carlos Lee

CF Michael Bourn

RF Hunter Pence

OF/1B Darin Erstad

OF Yordany Ramirez/Reggie Abercrombie

So, what do you guys think? Tell me what differs in your opinion, let’s generate some discussion. I will say I do not believe major trades or signings will take place at this point, so try to only use the roster we currently have.

<o:p></o:p>

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 9, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 1:42 pm
 

Top 15 Prospects: Los Angeles Dodgers

Holiday, Finals, etc. Anyways, sorry for making you wait for this next installment of the top 15 prospects. Now that I am almost finished with classes for the semester I should be spitting these out rather frequently now.

As always leave a comment if you stay to read the whole article. I really value the opinion of readers. I also really like using the comments sections as a forum. We really did a nice job of this for the Rockies article, and I would like to keep it up.

Las Angeles Dodgers Top 15 Prospects

1. Scott Elbert LHRP/LHSP Age: 23 MLL: AA

In my mind he is a starter, potentially a very good number two starter to be exact, but it looks like Elbert will instead move into the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2009. This move – assuming he stays in the bullpen, and is done as a starter – really hurts his upside. Elbert throws a plus fastball between 92 and 96 mph – he was throwing it around 90 in 2008 following his injury, but it’s a plus fastball – he also throws a plus slider in the mid 80s with late break. Elbert missed the first half of the 2008 season following shoulder surgery – relatively minor – he returned to the AA bullpen in June, and excelled there pitching forty-one innings in relief with a 2.40 ERA, and striking out forty-six batters. He also held opposing batters to a .157 batting average. Elbert is number one of my list because [He has been a favorite of mine] I still believe he has the more upside, as a starter, than the following two pitchers – he has been compared to both Scott Kazmir and Billy Wagner. Elbert could be a number two starter – he has the stuff for it – and would form a terrific young rotation with Clayton Kershaw, and Chad Billingsley. However, it is looking like Elbert will be a reliever, with a future in the late innings of games.

2. Ethan Martin RHSP Age: 19 MLL: R

The Dodgers’ first round draft pick in 2008; Martin received attention as both a pitcher, and third basemen. Martin throws his fastball in the low-mid 90s; he also throws a power curveball between 78 and 82 mph which could be plus in the future, and another potential plus pitch in his splitter which he throws in the low 80s. Martin did not pitch during the 2008 season, after being drafted in June. Martin has the stuff to be a number two starter, but I cannot know for sure before he throws a pro pitch.

3. Ivan DeJesus SS Age: 21 MLL: AA

An absolutely terrific hitter; DeJesus hit .324, with a .419 OBP in AA last season. He does not hit for much power; hitting seven homers in 2008 while only 20% of his hits went for extra bases. DeJesus does however, have good plate patience recording a K:BB of just over 1:1 – with 76 walks and only 81 strikeouts. DeJesus has good range and great instincts defensively but, manages to rack up errors – mostly throwing related -, making him only average defensively at short, or second base. DeJesus has average to above-average speed, again good instincts allowed him to steal sixteen bases in 2008. Many have questioned his work ethic, especially after seeing him in the AFL this past fall, so that may be something to keep an eye on. However, I see no reason why DeJesus cannot become a well above average offensive minded middle infielder – with a high OBP, but limited power.

4. James McDonald RHSP Age: 24 MLL: AAA/AA

McDonald put up outstanding numbers in 2008; pitching in 141 innings, and striking out 141 batters and tallying a 3.26 ERA. McDonald throws his fastball in the low 90s – mid 90s as a reliever -, and also throws an average changeup, his out pitch is a big 12-6 curveball, which is his only plus pitch. McDonald makes up for his average – probably a little bit better than average – stuff with excellent command of all three pitches. At this point McDonald is a rock solid number four starter, and he certainly has the potential to be a number three.

5. Andrew Lambo 1B/OF Age: 20 MLL: AA/A-

Lambo put good numbers in 2008, while reaching double A at the age of twenty. He hit .295, with a .351 OBP. Lambo also hit 19 homers, and 37% of his hits were of the XBH variety – compiling a .482 SLG%. Despite those solid offensive numbers, Lambo still needs to work on his plate discipline as his K:BB was just under 3:1 – luckily he’s young, and has plenty of time to shore that up. Lambo has a very high ceiling, and is already showing success at higher levels of the minors despite his age but, because of the high K rate, there is a chance he could become a bust. Lambo is also only average, at best, defensively, ideally he could become an average left fielder [defensively], with an above-average bat.

6. Josh Lindblom RHSP Age: 21 MLL: AA/A-

A power closer in college; the Dodgers turned Lindblom into a starter after drafting him in June. He had an ERA of 2.12 in 34 innings, while striking out 37 batters, and holding opponents to a .157 BA. Lindblom has a great repertoire of pitches; throwing a plus mid-low 90s fastball, slider, and splitter – the latter two being major league average. He will likely start 2009 in AA, and if Lindblom can put up numbers anywhere near those 2008 numbers he could be looking at an ETA of 2010. If he continues to dominate the minors he could be a number two starter but, I see him more as a number three or number four starter instead. I need to see his numbers over the course of a whole season before I move him ahead of any of the top five guys.

7. Chris Withrow RHP Age: 19 MLL: A+

Can someone say injury prone? Luckily its more incident related injuries – cut his hand on a snorkel? Withrow pitched only four innings late in the 2008 season. I still believe Withrow has the stuff to be a starter in the majors, however, he throws a plus fastball which is thrown in the low 90s – regularly – but, has been clocked as high as 98 (towards the end of 2007). He also throws a plus curveball, and developing changeup. He is only 19, so he has plenty of time to make up for the season he lost injured, and it seems as though he will start 2009 in high A. I like his chances of making the majors at some point as a starter anywhere between the third, and fifth rotation spots… he could also become an effective reliever, its too early in his career to get a good grasp of his future.

8. Anthony Delmonico 2B Age: 21 MLL: R

Maybe 141 Rookie League at bats should be taken with a grain of salt but, you have to like 11 homeruns in those 141 at bats. The rest of Delmonico’s hitting line was this: .340/.443/.716/1.159 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS). The slugging percentage is especially impressive. Extra base hits (XBH) also accounted for 65% of Delmonico’s hits. I would like to see Delmonico’s numbers over a full season of A ball but, as of right now, I really like his potential as a second basemen with well above average hitting ability, especially power.

9. Xavier Paul OF Age: 23 MLL: AAA

Paul does not have the highest of upsides but, I like his consistency, and I like his average-high floor – what you see from Paul today, is what you are going to get in the majors. All of Paul’s tools are about major league average, his hitting tools are maybe a little below, but his arm is definitely above average. Paul put up good numbers in AAA in 2008; finishing the season with a .378 OBP, and hitting for an OPS of .841. His XBH% was 30%, and he put up a K to walk ratio of over 2:1 despite the high OBP. Maybe Paul could be an average centerfielder in the big leagues but, he is more likely to play as a platoon outfielder, or good fourth outfielder.

10. Chin Lung Hu SS Age: 24 MLL: AAA

Most people are saying he’s graduated to the majors but, I am choosing to keep him on my prospects list. He’s number 10, I don’t really like him, and so, I have nothing to say about him.

11. Victor Garate LHSP Age: 24 MLL: A

Garate’s 2008 numbers are stunning; pitching 116 innings with an ERA of 2.79, and striking out 150 batters. He is old for A but, those numbers look like that of a shut down middle-late inning reliever in the majors. [I do not know what his repertoire of pitches includes.]

12. Austin Gallagher 3B Age: 20 MLL: A+

Gallagher put up a good stat line in high A, in 2008: .293/.349/.456/.805. He has about average power, despite hitting only 5 HRs – in 303 at bats -, 43% of Gallagher’s hits went for extra bases. Gallagher also only walked 29 times, his K to walk ratio was 2:1 in 2008 but, due to his age, and minor league level, I am not worried about his plate discipline – it should be major league average once he sees more at bats. Gallagher is a bit below average defensively, with an average arm, and well below average speed, which may make him move off of third base – most likely to first, possibly left -, which would significantly hurt his value, as I do not believe his bat can play at first everyday. If Gallagher does stay at third he may be able to become an average starting third basemen, especially if the plate discipline develops, and he ends up with a little above average power.

13. Josh Bell 3B Age: 22 MLL: A+

Bell has plus power, with average defensive ability, and below average speed. Bell hit .273, with a .373 OBP, and .827 OPS, he also hit 6 homers in only 187 at bats. Also, 39% of his hits went for extra bases. He profiles as a little under average as an everyday third basemen – due to only so, so ability to make contact with the ball – but, he could make it as a backup at third, first, and the corner outfield spots.

14. Cole St. Clair LHRP Age: 22 MLL: R

Had a nice debut, Cole pitched in 17 innings striking out 22 batters. Cole throws his fastball in the 88-91 range with plenty of movement. He also throws a decent curveball for strikes. I do not know what to make of him but, he definitely has the stuff to be a top prospect.

15. Matthew Wallach C Age: 22 MLL: R

Had to take a flier, I chose Wallach. I like his .571 SLG%, and .927 OPS. He also had 10 homers in 184 at bats, and 58% of his hits went for extra bases. His K to BB ratio was 3:1 and was pretty old for the rookie league at 22. Still, I like the power, and because he’s a catcher he is someone to keep an eye on moving forward.

Strengths: The first six players on this list are all stellar prospects. Their top four pitchers are especially impressive, and a possible future rotation including Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, McDonald, Lindblom, Ethan Martin, maybe even Scott Elbert.

Weaknesses: They do not have great depth, and they also lack a true 5 star guy, now that Kershaw has graduated to the majors.

Next Up: The Padres

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com