Swings and MIsses
October is the month of baseball memories, June the month of swoons, when the long season begins to take notice. July is the month of trading, March the month of spring. And January, in baseball, is the month of predictions.
I haven't been able to write a mid-season review of my sleepers this season (perhaps my first prediction), so today we'll break down each player seven months removed from their praises. I definitely haven't achieved the success rate I had last year (which was probably an anomaly), but inevitably, a few have indeed proven to be worth a higher value than they were a year ago. The players:
Reid Brignac (TB/AA/SS): My best success, Brignac is now a highly-valued middle infield prospect. While the Cal League surely boosted his numbers, Brignac has good power and will hit at the next level. Raw defensively, he might not end up at short, but he is athletic enough to improve. I still like Brignac, and it looks like he's the Midwest League’s success story of the season.
Christian Garcia (NYY/R/RHP): The danger of projecting success for young pitchers is, of course, attrition. Garcia's oblique injury has tarnished his season, and since returning, he has not looked like the same pitcher. It's hard to know what to make from his current sample size, but he sure doesn't look like the pitcher we saw last season. Too bad, because he was my most confident selection.
Homer Bailey (CIN/AA/RHP): Bailey was already highly-regarded, but when I put him on my list, it meant I thought he would enter elite status this season (like Nick Markakis the season before). I was right in this regard, as the player I saw pitch in the Midwest League last season proved more consistent this year. Bailey is the poster-child for learned control, as since seeing a decrease in the walk column, he's become the game's best pitching prospect.
Adam Bostick (FLA/AA/LHP): The opposite of Bailey, Bostick is the poster-child for not being able to harness control. While Bostick continues to show good strikeout numbers thanks to an above-average breaking ball, his control numbers completely hold him back as a prospect. I still think a move to the bullpen could create a good reliever, but my confidence in his left arm is out the window.
Adam Lind (TOR/AAA/OF): Doubles in the Florida State League turn to home runs in the Eastern League. It seemed too easy a statement to hold up, but it did this season, as Lind proved he had middle-of-the-order power. His defensive profile, or lack thereof, will hold him back as a prospect, but Lind is one of the minors better pure hitters. If Carlos Lee became manageable in left field, Lind can do the same; he'll be ready by next summer.
Mark Trumbo (LAA/A-/1B): There is danger in projecting a breakout before you see a player in person. Trumbo is that type of player, as his lack of athleticism shocked me when I saw his big body manning first in Cedar Rapids this spring. Trumbo has big power that should blossom in the Cal League, but his slow bat and poor fielding ability don’t leave a lot of hope. Trojan fans, if it makes you feel better, I can't imagine someone that large being much of a pitching prospect.
Brad Harman (PHI/A+/SS): My largest point of confusion on the season. Harman looked to be a fantastic choice in the spring, when the shortstop led the WBC Australian team in hitting. However, his year in Clearwater has proven disastrous, and reports of Harman are very bad. I do think an exit from the league will benefit Harman, but Chase Utley-lite is no longer a valid projection. Ouch.
Chuck Lofgren (CLE/A+/LHP): I discovered Lofgren a bit late to put him in my BP article, but I did mention his name as a breakout guy before the season started. Lofgren showed a lot of potential last year, and with his athletic profile and good stuff, looked ready to blossom in 2006. He's done just that with Kinston this season, as he's currently tied for the minor league wins lead. Lofgren is no future ace, but he'll be very valuable in the middle of a rotation.
Garrett Mock (ARI/AA/RHP): It just doesn't make sense to me. How can a player that strikes out batters at such a high rate be so poor in the hit column? What seemed like a fluke last year has proven reality in the Southern League, as Mock is simply a hittable pitcher. I don't see a way around this, and while his strikeouts might get him a shot in the big leagues, his hit rates no longer bode well for future success. Perhaps a change in organization - he has since been traded to the Washington Nationals (and Mike Rizzo) - will be best for Mock.