March 2008

And just one more thing: Nationals

Kevin weighs in with his Nationals preview. It’s a system that’s definitely on the rise thanks to some trades and outstanding drafting. Here’s Kevin’s extra man:Sking

, INF:
  No mystery here, this King can play. He’s got a bit of pop in his

bat, probably
enough to account for 15-20 homers a season. But he can’t focus
too much on hitting homers because it takes away from the rest of what he’s
trying to do at the plate. He hit 11 homers in 313 at-bats at three different
levels last season, a healthy enough number. But the .180 he hit in 128 Sally
League at-bats is what stands out the most. He also fanned once every 2.98
at-bats which is clearly a number no one wants to see. If he can figure
out his place and not get too carried away with swinging for the fences, this
third-round selection could be a nice addition someday in Washington


And just one more thing: Phillies

Lisa is back up today with the Phillies preview. Here’s her choice for their bonus player:

Mike Zagurski, LHP: So
Andrew Carpenter leads the Minors in wins with 17, going 17-6 with a 3.20 ERA
at Clearwater. Josh Outman strikes out 151 batters, leading Phillies pitching prospects by
nearly 30 whiffs. Carlos Carrasco continues to prevail as the system’s most
valued and coveted gem. So which of them was named Philadelphia’s 2007 Minor League Pitcher of
the Year?

of them. That honor went to southpaw reliever Mike Zagurski. Sure he only
tossed 32 1/3 innings
at three levels of the Minors, but what he did in those
32 1/3 innings certainly opened some eyes: 15 hits, 12 walks and 62 strikeouts!
A non-drafted free agent who signed in 2005 out of Kansas, Zagurski spent ’06 at Class A
Lakewood, posting a 3.51 ERA in 42 games in relief and making the logical
progression to Advanced A Clearwater in ’07. There his 1.10 ERA and five saves
in 12 games earned him a bump to Double-A Reading where the ERA jumped just a
tad to 1.29.


it was at Reading that he got the call that he was heading to Philadelphia
in late May when Brett Myers went on the DL. Zagurski spent two months in the
Phillies bullpen, losing his rookie eligibility though overall in the bigs he
only tossed 21 1/3 innings with a 5.91 ERA in 25 games. He also saw some time
back at Triple-A Ottawa with a 2.00 ERA in seven games.

And just one more thing: Braves

Our look at the NL East continues with Kevin’s Braves preview today.

Tommy Hanson, RHP: Hanson is anotherof Atlanta’s
gifted young pitchers who will
Thansonbear watching this
season. He split last season
between Rome and Myrtle Beach,
putting up better numbers in
the Sally League than in the Carolina League. He’s a big kid at 6-foot-6 so
it’s not surprising that there are struggles from time to time. It’s difficult
getting all the parts in sync every on every delivery when you have so much
more to move. Hanson would benefit more by using that size to intimidate,
plunking a batter every now and then to let them know he’s there. He allowed 10
homers in 60 Carolina League innings and 16 overall last season.

And just one more thing: Mets

My Mets preview is up and running. The Mets will have you believe that it’s not as barren as one would think, following the Santana trade. Only time will tell, but it’s not exactly robust these days. That being said, there are some intriguing names, particularly lower in the system. With that in mind…

Richard Lucas, 3B: The best way for the Mets to rebuild is through scouting and signing young players, both through the draft and internationally. The Mets do deserve some kudos for taking some chances on high school guys in this last draft, something that a team who can afford to be patient should do. Lucas was nabbed in the fourth round and signed away from his commitment to Florida State. His numbers in the GCL don’t say a whole lot, but the Mets are excited about his potential. He’s got ability on both sides of the ball and should grow into enough power to stay at third. Defensively, he’s fine there as well. It’s not like Lucas will be rushing to compete with David Wright any time soon, but he’s a guy who should be in the recesses of Mets’ fans minds for the future.

And just one more thing: Rangers

Kevin’s Rangers preview was posted on Sunday. Texas has put together one of the deepest systems in baseball, so he had no trouble coming up with an extra player to discuss.

Ben Henry, RHP: Ben Henry is an impressive kid. That the Rangers thought enough to draft him in
the 30th round last season from a South Carolina High School should tell you
what you need to know about him as an athlete. But what you don’t see on the
stat sheet is that he gave up an appointment to Annapolis in order to sign with
Texas. That’s right, the kid was going to the Naval Academy but decided to head
to the Lone Star state instead. Actually, he went to Arizona, where he went 0-4
with a 7.07 ERA in 28 innings. Keep an eye on him, though. That he was willing
to go to Annapolis, especially in a time of war, says something about him. That
he opted not to go to the academy is neither here nor there. Simply being
nominated and accepted is an accomplishment, one that can’t be take lightly.

And just one more thing: Mariners

Kevin’s got the Mariners preview cranking this morning. They continue to do interesting things in the international scouting arena, but he weighs in with fourth-round pick from last year’s draft.

Nolan Gallagher, RHP: I’ll be curious to see if Nolan Gallagher is similar other pitchers I’veNgallagher
encountered from Stanford. The latest Stanford product that I encountered was
Greg Reynolds, who was Colorado’s top pick last season. He was thoughtful and
engaging, giving well-measured answered to all of my questions. The same can be
said for Mike Mussina on the few occasions that he and I have had dealings.
Gallagher, a right-hander whom Seattle drafted in the fourth round, would
obviously be well served should he ultimately draw comparisons to either of the
aforementioned pitchers. Whether or not that happens, we’ll just have to wait
and see. He had mixed results on the mound while splitting last year between
Everett and Wisconsin. He’s a Stanford guy, though, and they’re smart, aren’t
they? He’ll figure it out.

And just one more thing: Angels

Jonathan’s (that’s me) Angels preview is up and running. Plenty of talent to go around, but I didn’t get to mention:

Matthew Sweeney, 3B: Taken in the eighth round of the 2006 draft, Sweeney showed someMsweeney
glimpses of some serious talent in his first full season. A left-handed hitting third baseman, Sweeney played full-season ball in the Midwest League at age 19 and hit 18 homers and 29 doubles. Right now, most of his power is to the pull side, but he’s working on using his strength to hit the ball with authority to all fields. Defensively, he’s a work in progress and some think he’ll have to move to first or DH eventually, but that’s a conversation for another day. He’ll turn 20 just as the 2008 season gets underway and he could put up some ridiculously good numbers in the hitting haven that is Rancho Cucamonga.

And just one more thing: Yankees

In addition to doing fine work touring the Grapefruit League, Lisa has been plugging away with the organization previews. Today, she had the Yankees preview. Boy, how things have changed. It used to be that it was a struggle to find anyone to talk about in the main preview. Finding an extra guy? Forget it. But now, there’s plenty to talk about. Lisa chimes in with…

Francisco Cervelli, C: I’m gonna go with catcher Francisco Cervelli, which I am sure will make Jonathan
happy because he also loves this kid (okay, almost kid … he turns 22 March 6
… Happy Birthday Francisco!!!). In most organizations, Cervelli would be the
top catching prospect but the Yankees are loaded in that category with
18-year-old power prospect Jesus Montero and 2007 high-pick draftee Austin
Romine. Cervelli skipped from short-season Staten Island, where he hit .309 in
2006, up to Advanced A Tampa in 2007, batting .279 in 89 games but saw his
season end early after injuring his knee in a home plate collision. He also
threw out 41 percent of opposing baserunners. Yes, 41 percent. He should start
the year at Double-A Trenton and even if he’s not specifically their top
catching prospect, he’s the closest of the trio to the bigs and deserves

And just one more thing: Blue Jays

Lisa chimes in with her Blue Jays preview. I probably would have just written Travis Snider’s 1000 times. But that’s why Lisa is Lisa. She found plenty to talk about and then had enough left in her to come up with this:

Seth Overbey, RHP: I’ll go off the chart with my Blue Jays pick and go with right-handed
reliever Seth Overbey. And not just because he and my tax dollars went to the
University of Maryland.
Overbey, a 15th-rounder from Terp Country in 2006, is a sidearmer and let’s
face it, his ilk in the Minors rarely gets any respect. But with
his fastball-sinker-slider repertoire he managed to earn the Jays’ Minor League
Pitcher of the Month award for April, thanks to 12 2/3 scoreless innings at
Class A Lansing. In fact, he did not give up a run in 16 games out of the
Lugnuts pen. walking four and striking out 21 while limiting Midwest League
hitters to a .146 average before moving up to Advanced A Dunedin. There his ERA
was only slightly more blemished, posting an 0.90 ERA in 10 games. He finished
the year at Double-A New Hampshire with a 4.26 ERA in 30 games and is likely to
start the year back in the Fisher Cats’ pen.
Future closer? No. Future Major League superstar? Probably not. But
sometimes you just gotta go with that sleeper. So I’m going with Overbey.

And just one more thing: Red Sox

Man, I love writing about the Red Sox system. Tons of talent, a scouting department not afraid to take risks (having the financial resources to make those risky decisions certainly helps. For my "just one more thing" subject, I’m going way off the radar, albeit with a familiar name.

Josh Papelbon, RHP
: The younger brother (his twin is a reliever in the Cubs orgJpapelbon_1
anization) of the Pap closing in the big leagues has also been a closer in his year-plus pro career. Maybe this will be a "favor" pick done good. Josh was selected with the 1,443rd overall pick in the 48th round of the 2006 draft. Since then, he closed out a game in Fenway Park in the first annual Futures at Fenway doubleheader when he was reliever for Lowell, made the South Atlantic League All-Star team in his first full season in 2007 and has saved a total of 31 games. He’s a submariner who won’t be a closer as he moves up, but the fact that he’s likely preparing for a move to Class A Advanced Lancaster means he’s already exceeded expectations in many ways.

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