WTNYFebruary 16, 2005
Back in the Swing of Things
By Bryan Smith

Hello friends, I deeply apologize for my recent absence. I blame real life completely, that and some lack of motivation with baseball at a lull for just a few more days. I'm back, and while my posting schedule is going to be a bit irregular with a lot of work hitting me hard, I shouldn't be too far removed from normal. I promise to finish the rest of my rookies report soon, and get those depth charts out to those of you that e-mailed me. Don't forget, you're all saved in my Yahoo address book, I just plan on getting all those e-mails out together. Be patient with me, guys.

So, I thought I'd catch everybody up on what happened since we last spoke.

- First and foremost, let me point out to the other minor league outlets on the web. First of all, tons of congrats are in order for former ESPN writer John Sickels, who now has his own blog over at minorleagueball.com. It has been up for just a few days and looks like it will be a fantastic community, and hopefully I can catch up with John at some point. Also worth noting is Baseball Prospectus, who have begun hinting at who will be in their top 50.

- Brad Dowdy, WTNY favorite and the skilled writer of No Pepper is expanding his horizons, and will be writing about the minors over at Rotojunkie. Congrats Brad! And finally, if you missed the Baseball America top tens, they are now complete. BA is definitely the best, and without their voice starting me on this topic, I wouldn't be here.

- The largest story of the past couple weeks have been injuries to a few pitchers in my top 75. First there was Cole Hamels, who pulled a mixture of Kevin Brown and Matt Bush, getting into a fight and breaking his hand. He'll be out for a couple months as the bone heals, and this coupled with a reportedly weak work ethic has really lost Hamels some points in this organization. He's still an unbelievable talent, and this injury won't do anything in the long run, but now we see why immaturity has docked him down in the past.

- It appears that this spring will have a curse to all disgruntled southpaw prospects, as next was Greg Miller going down. Jon Weisman attacked this issue over at Dodger Thoughts, where we heard why the shoulder surgery might be a good thing, and a timetable for his return. In retrospect I was probably a little too bullish on Miller in my rankings, and would likely slide him far closer to Chuck Tiffany in retrospect.

- And our final southpaw to go down, with the story being broke by Dave Cameron, is Travis Blackley. I loved Travis as a prospect before the 2004 season, but there isn't a person in the country who has not soured on him by now. He was great at the beginning of the season, then he was called up to the Majors, and everything went downhill from there. Labrums aren't an end-all injury anymore, but Will has pointed out that the success rate is not in favor of Blackley's left shoulder. Knock on wood for Travis today.

- Correct me if I�m wrong, but I think that's it for prospect injuries in recent weeks. Moving on to a more positive story, but unfortunately one that I lost the link for, the Braves have decided to end their Andy Marte to the outfield experiment before it starts. It could still happen from what I've heard, but we can now place Andy in Richmond at season�s beginning. For more Braves stuff, check out this article from Rome, their low-A affiliate, which talks about honorable mention Jarrod Saltalmacchia not getting moved up to high-A. What?!?

That's all for now guys. I still owe you a second rookie report and another piece on the '04 draft, and that will happen in good time. Thanks for staying patient.



Welcome back! The injury updates are helpful, as I now realize I have no regular source for this stuff. So thanks for the news.

What are the thoughts of the Braves organization that they would even consider moving Marte to the outfield and keeping Jones at third? Would Chipper have been really pissed off otherwise?

I think the Braves are saying look we have a slim offense this year, and Chipper is really going to have to carry this team on his back and if he is healthier and happier at third then we will keep him there, because he brings more offense there. Although, I do feel that if the Braves get off to a terrible start and don't feel they can get back in it, then they will deal Hudson, providing he hasn't signed an extension, move Langerhans into an everyday role in right, and move Chipper to left and bring Marte up, and try to move Andruw to pave the way for Francouer. But hey this is the Braves, and while they keep winning all these challengers keep faltering, so who knows.

Oh, I almost forgot, in that previous scenario, Hampton will get shopped hard, and they probably won't be asking for a whole lot in return. They have to pick up his whole salary next year.

Great stuff and thanks for the hard work.

I took over a terrible and last place team 2 years in a dynasty league. I quickly traded the ONLY two players on the 40 man roster-- ARod and Bonds and got as many draft picks that were then used for guys like Harden, Webb, F. Hernandez, Lidge, Crain, Morneau, Upton, Cabrera and D. Young (TB) or traded to get, among others, V. Martinez, Furcal, J. Reyes, Dunn, C. Lee(MIL), Beckett, Sabathia, Bonderman.

Realistically, I figure I'm still a year away but watch out 2006-2008. I plan on prunning my team again in this year's draft and will take about 6-7 new prospects.

Please give me a top 10 (or so)from the following for their ability to be potential superstars (and I know the risk that comes with that type of evaluation):

S. Olson (FL), Y. Petit (NYM), Z. Duke (PITT), B. McCarthy (CHW), T. Stauffer (SD), C. Tiffany (LA), J. Broxton (LA), B. League (TO), H. Streets (OK), R. Garko (CLE), D. Johnson (OK), I. Kinsler (TX), B. Butler (KC), L. Milledge (NYM) and J. Francoeur (AT).

Thanks for the dialog and your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Gary, the term 'superstar' is one that is hard to define, but I'm going to guess you mean the highest tier of Major League players.

With that being said, the highest ceilings of the players you mentioned are undoubtedly Milledge and Francoeur, who both could be fantastic talents if everything bounces correctly. Next I would say is Butler and Olsen, though drafting Butler comes with a considerably amount of risk.

Petit comes next, and after him Chuck Tiffany is probably the only other way I would say could become a superstar. The rest are destined for 'solid' careers, but don't have any sort of HOF potential, IMO.