WTNY 'Midseason' 100
With this final installment, my prospect ranking is done...for a few months. Despite mixed reviews, it’s been a good time, and one of the most educational experiences of my writing career. I’m never going to attempt to put WTNY alongside Baseball America, but instead putting another view on a largely uncovered area of the baseball world.
Let me congratulate David Wright and Grady Sizemore on their promotions to the Bigs. Wright was 0-4 in his opener, while Sizmore was just 0-1. Both these guys have extremely bright futures, and their presence in the Majors is long overdue. Hopefully this will give the Mets reason to trade Ty Wigginton to the Pirates for Kris Benson, but we shall see.
Next Monday, I hope to recap by answering all your questions with a mailbag type of column. So please, drop any question you've had below, and I'll try to get to all of them Monday. And, here we go:
76. Nick Swisher- Oakland Athletics- OF
Spoken by Michael Lewis, via an interview given by the guys at Athletics Nation:
The stats tell you everything you need to know about him. If you look at his walks, it’s insane. He’s 23 YEARS OLD in a league filled with 30-year-old players who’ve spent time in the big leagues. And he’s got like 78 or 80 walks and the next closest guy has 60? How does that happen? It’s freakish. He’s got 16 bombs, who cares that he is hitting .260? Last time I checked, he was like sixth in the league in on-base percentage and that’s at 23 years old. When you go see him and you look at the numbers, what you see when you watch him just confirms the numbers in that he has a really amazing tendency/ability to control his encounters in the batter’s box. He does have a remarkable control over the encounter. He really does have a very, very good eye and just great discipline. He doesn’t mind taking his walks.
77. Scott Baker- Minnesota Twins- SP
The reason I love Baseball America? It’s the source where I find guys like Scott Baker, who recently struck out 12 batters in a game, and has given up a ridiculously low 44 hits in 70.1 innings in AA. His peripherals are the type that get turned into a reliever, especially the low average against that Kevin Goldstein recently cited. But, even if Baker ends up being Jesse Crain’s set-up man, the Twins succeeded.
78. Tony Giarratano- Detroit Tigers- SS
Despite an inauspicious debut with the West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit had enough confidence in their young shortstop to promote him to the Florida State League. This is arguably been the promotion of the year, seeing that Tony has produced a 373/424/470 line there. I do have my concerns, because a .051 Isolated Patience and .097 Isolated Power are both not great numbers. But, a switch-hitting shortstop that runs well (24 SB thus far) and hits for contact has to land in any top 100.
79. Koyie Hill- Los Angeles Dodgers- C
Almost every prospect on the Dodgers has a lot of potential, and a lot of concern. The Greg Miller injury shed some light on that fact, which was good for Hill’s ranking in the organization: he’s the most for sure prospect they currently have. His .289/.345/.463 line is nothing special, but he’s succeeded in AAA, a spot where a lot of catching prospects falter. Consistency deserves a prize every once in a while too.
80. Anthony Lerew- Atlanta Braves- SP
Yes, you have read right, I have eight Braves in my top 80. The system is undoubtedly tops in the game right now, which should give recognition to the ‘scout only the South’ philosophy the team seems to employ. Lerew is one of my favorite prospects, a player I see putting in my top 50 come next March, and watching him fly to the top. At Myrtle Beach (high-A), Lerew has a 2.52 ERA, 7.56 H/9, 8.13 K/9, and 3.13 K/BB. But, one of my favorite statistics, is the 0.24 HR/9 stat. If you believe Dayn Perry’s work last year that HR/9 is a top forecasting stat, you have to buy into Lerew.
81. Dan Johnson- Oakland Athletics- 1B
Another guy you don’t hear a lot about, but all he does is hit. In AAA now, Johnson is far more worthy of a Major League spot than Blanton or Swisher. We talk about the injustice of Justin Morneau not having a job over Doug Mientkiewicz, but what about Johnson and Scott Hatteberg? Johnson is hitting .309/.411/.538 in the Pacific Coast League, all with only 48 strikeouts. If this guy doesn’t have a full-time job next year, than I will personally start a Free Dan Johnson! watch.
82. Mike Megrew- Los Angeles Dodgers- SP
There is undoubtedly projectablity, considering Megrew is a 6-6 southpaw weighing well over 200 pounds. And, one could argue there is polish, considering the 2.97 K/BB rate. While Jonathan Broxton and Chad Billingsley have seemingly received more publicity, keeping an eye on Megrew is a good idea. And the fact that he’s a fifth round choice is another example to file under the “Why do the Dodgers draft so well?” question.
83. Dave Krynzel- Milwaukee Brewers- OF
Scott Podsednik has been written about all over the place, but his numbers this year are way off what Doug Melvin was hoping for. Lucky for Milwaukee fans, but there is a better centerfielder waiting in the shadows. Krynzel has been hurt much of the season, but since returning, is now red-hot. The ISO is over .200, but the power has hardly been consistent through the minor leagues. This year, the steals are gone, with only five in 31 games. But, a 20/20 guy in center is better than what Scott Podsednik will provide, especially given Krynzel’s .383 OBP.
84. Melky Cabrera- New York Yankees- OF
The Yankees love to hype their prospects, so teams get excited to trade their veterans for a future ‘blue-chipper’. This has seldom come back to hurt the Yankees, so much so that I’m shocked Cabrera hasn’t been hyped. Is this intentional? It’s possible that in Cabrera, the Yankees see a potential replacement for Bernie Williams. I say this because Cabrera is hitting .309 in the Florida State League, after hitting .333 in the Midwest League. He’s a switch-hitter, takes a few walks, and just rakes doubles. Believe me, they won’t stay doubles forever...look at Bernie’s minor league stats. Cabrera won’t be 84 next time you see him, I can almost promise you that.
85. Ruben Gotay- Kansas City Royals- 2B
If you make it into the Futures Game, even by route of a weak position, you are a prospect that deserves to be watched. With Gotay and Mark Teahen behind him, the Royals believe that Ken Harvey, Gotay, Berrora and Teahen is their infield of the future. The switch-hitting second basemen might make a splash next year, but still should be in the running for AL Rookie of the Year 2006. With his patience and adequate power, I wouldn’t put it past him quite yet.
86. Mark Teahen- Kansas City Royals- 3B
After reading how affixed Allard Baird became on Teahen, I started to believe there really was something to the ex-Moneyball draft selection. He may never develop Giambi-esque power, but the Royals might even take a few years of cheap Joe Randa production. Teahen will never have the SLG he had in 53 AA games again, but he’s a much better player than his .262/.344/.414 AAA line suggests.
87. Jonathan Broxton- Los Angeles Dodgers- SP
Another big Dodger, with another big fastball. Broxton, listed at 240 pounds, is pitching well in the Florida State League after turning 20 just a month ago. His low HR/9 (below 1.00), and high K/9 (above 10.00), both suggest a future in the bullpen. Broxton’s ERA is much too high given his performance, something to pay attention to in the final 45 or so games.
88. Brian Dopirak- Chicago Cubs- 1B
I still don’t understand how a scout can look at a high school player, and say with certainty that he will hit for power. But whoever said it about Dopirak, and for whatever reasons, was definitely right. You’ve heard about the power numbers of Calvin Pickering and Ryan Howard, but Dopirak’s .606 SLG is something to pay attention to. The Cubs also have to be impressed by the .310 batting average, probably higher than what theat scout had guessed. Dopirak still doesn’t walk enough, strikes out too much, and plays bad defense. But, power is power.
89. J.D. Durbin- Minnesota Twins- SP
Again, injuries have stalled Durbin’s development, but he remains on the Twins’ blueprint more than any other Twins hurler, including Jesse Crain. Durbin has very solid numbers across the board in the Eastern League, and looks ready to become a Rochester Red Wing. The Twins need starting pitching like the Texas Rangers do, so there is nothing to indicate that Durbin won’t get his chance in the Twin Cities. And sometimes, opportunity is half the battle.
90. Brandon Wood- Anaheim Angels- SS
I guess I’ll never forget it, reading on Baseball America that the Angels’ 2003 first round pick was a high school shortstop named “Dick Wood.” The kid would later ask to be called Brandon, which is like asking Homer Bush to change his name to Carl. But, this didn’t take him off the radar screen, and he’s quickly become the Angels’ second-best middle infield prospect, ranking narrowly behind Erick Aybar. Tremendously bad defense and too many strikeouts hurt his argument to be the top dog. But, if that power remains in higher levels, Wood might be the shortstop position’s top dog...in all the minors.
91. Jairo Garcia- Oakland Athletics- RP
Jaw-dropping numbers in low-A are just that: jaw-dropping numbers in low-A. As a challenge, the A’s promoted Garcia to AA, to see if he really was that good. He’s not 0.30 ERA good, but even his Texas League numbers are pretty good. I wasn’t too impressed with him in the Futures Game, and the walks total has been spiking of late, but there is still a lot to like. For example, Garcia is yet to give up a home run this year in more than forty innings of work. He also has 75 strikeouts and only 26 hits allowed this season, so it would be a crime to not call him a prospect.
92. Joey Votto- Cincinnati Reds- 1B
It was almost a toss-up between Votto and Dopirak, a pair of 20-year-old first basemen in low levels. But, Votto is definitely behind the Cubs’ prospect, since he doesn’t have a .500 slugging, much less .600. But give Votto some credit, his OBP is .416 this year, making me think he might be the next Dan Johnson...but with a lot more strikeouts. The average seems to be staying consistent, and a .300 average with 80 annual walks is more than deserving of an everyday job.
93. Fernando Nieve- Houston Astros- SP
I’ve had my eye on Nieve for awhile, calling him the Astros’ breakout prospect before the season. While he’s still under the radar, Nieve has posted some fantastic numbers in high-A this year. A H/9 under nine, a K/BB over 3.00, and only five home runs allowed in over 100 innings is great. He’s easily the best Astros’ pitching prospect at the moment, beating out Taylor Buchholz by a mile. Keep your eye on this guy, he just can’t keep on this pace with no notice, it’s just not fair.
94. Andy Sisco- Chicago Cubs- SP
Plain and simple, it’s nice time to jump ship on Sisco quite yet. In fact, there are very few times when it is alright to jump ship on a 6-9 southpaw, as Mark Hendrickson has proven so far this season. Sisco’s ERA has never been consistent with his numbers, and that remains true this year, though he’s recently lowered the number to 4.13. The walks have to come down, but you gotta love everything else on this kid. If the Cubs have to choose any pitching prospect to hang onto, it might just be this guy, as there is still so much that Sisco can do.
95. Shin-Soo Choo- Seattle Mariners- OF
Sometimes, even bad Futures Game performances get you some notice. That’s what happened for Choo, who I had all but forgotten about before his disastrous performance in Houston. The same can’t be said of his season, as his current Texas League line reads .303/.371/.443. Choo can run like Hell, and his 25 stolen bases in 30 attempts tell that his baserunning talents are very strong. An outfield of Jeremy Reed, Choo and Ichiro seem to be in the cards, and while not powerful, they’ll be good at defense and on the bases. How far that gets them remains to be seen, though I don’t think it’s enough to win a division with.
96. Chris Roberson- Philadelphia Phillies- OF
Before this season, Roberson had a career .247 batting average, with an Isolated Power of .080. Those hideous numbers have improved this season, as Roberson is hitting .307/.371/.473 in the Florida State League. His baserunning talents that kept him on the prospect radar last year have vanished, and Roberson is still very raw in the field. But if he can cut down the strikeouts, Roberson still has a chance to be a success story...though I wouldn’t bet on it.
97. Adam Miller- Cleveland Indians- SP
I don’t know why I’m so biased against Sally League pitchers, but I just can’t buy into their numbers at all. Miller even more so, because his ERA would not be 3.36 if not for a great April. But, mixing good stuff with a K/BB nearing 4.00 is a good sign, though Miller’s timetable seems extremely slow. Given these numbers, why not give Miller the promotion?
98. Andy LaRoche- Los Angeles Dodgers- 3B
Despite his brother’s rookie struggles, I won’t let that effect my opinion of Dave LaRoche’s son Andy. I’m also ignoring LaRoche’s first 94 FSL at-bats, which were not up to par with his .283/.375/.525 low-A line. It seems to me that Andy has good patience, good power and good defense, all of which make up a good prospect. It was a toss-up between LaRoche and Hank Blalock’s little brother, who had fairly similar Sally League numbers.
99. Willy Taveras- Houston Astros- OF
After being acquired by the Astros in the Rule V draft, Taveras has blossomed over extra tutelage, and was hitting .340 before getting injured. Taveras walks and runs, and that’s it. He strikes out a little too much for a leadoff hitter, and has less power than the tag ‘Juan Pierre lite’ would imply...if that’s possible.
100. Alberto Callaspo- Anaheim Angels- 2B
Anaheim has been good on most of their prospect’s timetables, all of those except Callaspo. Alberto was Erick Aybar’s double-play teammate last year, but was promoted to the Texas League, while Aybar moved up one level to the California League. Aybar skyrocketed into the top 75, while Callaspo has dropped to hanging on by his fingernails. He’s flirting with getting kicked out for good, though I have a feeling Callaspo might turn things up a bit in the second half.
Remember, drop any questions in the comments, and I will answer all of them on Monday.