March 2011

OMG: New York Mets

Once upon a time, it was a difficult task to find 10 prospects in the Mets system worth talking about. And while the Mets still don’t have the best minor league organization in the game, it’s come a ways. So it wasn’t too hard to come up with a solid Top 10 prospects list, or even an OMG (One More Guy) from their system:

Sean Ratliff was a Florida State League All-Star in 2010.

Sean Ratliff, OF: I’m not exactly sure why he doesn’t get more attention in this system. It’s not that he’s the  most exciting prospect in the world, but he’s put up some solid numbers in his two full seasons. The Mets system has guys like this — not the “sexiest” prospects in the world. Maybe they don’t have the highest ceiling in the world, maybe their tools don’t jump out at you, but they keep advancing and they will be big leaguers. And hey, you never know… it’s not like Ike Davis was the biggest prospect in the world and that’s worked out OK so far, right?

Ratliff, 24, was a fourth-round pick of the Mets out of Stanford in 2008. In his first full season, he was a  South Atlantic League All-Star, finishing the year with 15 homers, 74 RBIs and 11 steals. Yes, he struck out 141 times and drew only 31 walks.

In 2010, he began the year in the Florida State League and was an All-Star there, too. He got bumped up to Double-A and hit better there. Overall, he finished with a .298/.353/.505 line. His 21 homers put him in a tie for third in the system as did his 80 RBIs. There were the 138 K’s and 40 walks — there’s always going to be some swing and miss to his game.  But there’s legitimate power from the left side. Even if he ends up part of a platoon — though he hit lefties well — he could be a good 4th outfielder, at the very least, in the next year or so.

OMG: Washington Nationals (redux)

In the change over to WordPress, it looks like the OMG (One More Guy) from the Washington Nationals got deleted. So here it is again, in case you didn’t get the chance to see it:

 

Here’s the Nationals’ Top 10 Prospect list and here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system:

Josh Smoker, LHP: Remember him? Back in 2007, he was the first pick of the supplemental first round of the Draft

Josh Smoker was a supplemental first-round pick in 2007.

(No. 31 overall). He was a projectable high school lefty from Georgia with an impressive amateur resume.

Things really hadn’t been working out too well for him. He had been brought along slowly by the Nationals. In 2007, he only got into two games with short-season Vermont to get his feet wet. In his first full season, 2008, he pitched largely in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, pitching only a grand total of 44 1/3 innings. The 2009 season was more GCL work, where he did have a 3.38 ERA over 42 2/3 IP.

In 2010, it was time to push the lefty and see what he could do. It wasn’t pretty. Over 19 starts with full-season Hagerstown, Smoker was 3-10 with a 7.38 ERA and the league was hitting a robust .319 against him. He was, obviously, not throwing well and his velocity was down.

So the Nats moved him into the bullpen and Josh Smoker the pitcher was re-born. In 11 outings spanning 13 1/3 IP, he allowed just eight hits (.174 BAA) and two runs (1.35 ERA). He struck out 21 and saved three games and his stuff bounced back. The 2011 season should be an interesting one to see if Smoker can continue to jump back on the map.

OMG: Tampa Bay Rays

I just finished watching the Rays’ final exhibition game of the spring, here in Tropicana Field, so this is good timing. Here’s their talent-laden Top 10 Prospects list. After that, here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system… though in this case it’s really One More Guyer*:

Brandon Guyer, OF: While Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee are the two from the Matt Garza trade to land in the Top 10,

Brandon Guyer came to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal

that doesn’t mean we should forget all about Guyer and Robinson Chirinos. The Rays got four future big leaguers in this deal. And Guyer’s not too far away from helping out. The description below is largely from the breakdowns of this fantastic four I wrote back when the trade went down (I figured, why duplicate effort?).

Guyer is a toolsy outfielder who really started to turn his tremendous athletic ability into on-field performance over the past couple of seasons. He really broke out in 2010, though he ended up with just 369 at-bats as he dealt with a shoulder issue. When he was playing, he was outstanding, earning Southern League All-Star honors and being named by MLB.com as the Cubs system’s hitter of the year for batting .344/.398/.588 with 30 steals for Double-A Tennessee.

A former football standout in high school, Guyer brings that game’s mentality to baseball with an all-out aggressive style on both sides of the ball. He’s got very good speed and his power continues to develop. Guyer got 10 ABs this spring on the big league side, going 1-for-1o with a double.  He can play anywhere in the outfield and could very well start the year with Triple-A Durham.

*Bad Guyer pun comes courtesy of Jason Ratliff.

OMG: Pittsburgh Pirates

And we’re back.

Due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to keep up my OMG (One More Guy) streak. But we’re back in operational mode for now, so I wanted to get back on board, this time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here’s their Top 10 prospects list.
darnaud.jpg
Chase d’Arnaud, SS: The 2008 fourth-round pick out of Pepperdine has been making a fairly steady climb up the Pirates ladder, though his 2010 season, with the all-important jump from A to Double-A, led to some questions about what his ultimate ceiling might be.

d’Arnaud definitely can run — his 33 steals were second in the organization. In his first full season, he had shown an ability to to hit for average (.293) and get on base (.398) across two levels. He even had some extra-base pop, with 47 extra-base hits leading to a solid .454 SLG for a middle infielder. Last year with Altoona, though, he hit .247/.331/.377 and saw his strikeout rate go up.

Defensively, the brother of Blue jays catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud has the tools to be a good shortstop, with an outstanding arm and the speed to give him above-average range. That being said, he committed 28 errors at short last year and saw some time at second base. The Pirates still think he could be their shortstop of the future and if he can put his tools into play consistently, he has the ability to be just that in 2012. He’ll play shortstop for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

Hey guys –

As most of you have realized, all the blogs have been undergoing a software switch to WordPress. It’s something I’m told will be a good thing and I do trust that it will be. I haven’t been sure mine was ready to go yet, but thought I’d give it a quick test drive to see if I was operational.

Once I’m sure, I’ll get back to finishing off those OMGs (One More Guys) for the remaining organizations.

OMG: Boston Red Sox

Here’s the Red Sox’s Top 10 prospect list. And now, OMG (One More Guy) from their system:

brentz.jpgBryce Brentz, OF: Taken in last June’s Draft in the supplemental first round (No. 36 overall), Brentz’s name was mentioned frequently in discussions about best college bats available in the class.

Brentz has a considerable amount of raw power. He doesn’t have the biggest frame you’ll see, but he’s compact and strong and has the potential to hit the ball out to all fields. As a former pitcher, the Middle Tennessee State product has an above-average to plus arm from the outfield. While he’s not a burner, he runs fairly well and profiles as a pretty athletic right fielder.

There is some swing and miss to his game and, in all likelihood, he’s always going to strike out some. But don’t look at his pro debut last summer (.198/.259/.340 with 76 strikeouts in 69 games) as any true indication of what kind of player he will be. There is no question he needed some help with his swing and approach, something he’s worked on at instructs and will continue to work on. It will be interesting to see what kind of progress he makes during his full-season debut in 2011.

OMG: Minnesota Twins

Here’s the Minnesota Twins’ Top 10 prospects, meaning it’s time for OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Morales.jpg
Angel Morales, OF: The third-round draft pick out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy in 2007 continued to make his slow climb up the Twins’ ladder in 2010, showing both his considerable tools as well as what he still needs to work on.

It’s been one step at a time for the now-21-year-old outfielder, sometimes having to hit a step twice. He made it to full-season ball in his third summer as a pro, then began last year back in Beloit. He showed progress there to earn a promotion to Ft. Myers, where he was just so-so.

When everything is going right for Morales, he’s got a very interesting power-speed combination. He doesn’t always tap into his raw power, with his career high in homers (15) actually coming when he was with short-season Elizabethton back in 2008. His 29 steals last year were a career high. Defensively, he’s not a great center fielder, but he’s got enough arm for a corner and if the power comes, he could profile well in right.

Assuming he goes back to Ft. Myers to start 2011, it will be interesting to see if he can make more progress and earn another midseason promotion. Even though he’s already spent four summers with the Twins, he’s still young and not particularly behind the curve.

OMG: Florida Marlins

Take a look at the Marlins’ Top 10 prospects. Now here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system:

Koehler.jpgTom Koehler, RHP: He hasn’t generated much buzz because he’s not a “big name” prospect and doesn’t have huge stuff. But all he’s done is pitch well as he’s moved up the ladder. And now he might be knocking on the big league door.

Drafted in the 18th round of the 2008 Draft out of renowned baseball powerhouse SUNY Stony Brook (yes, that’s sarcasm), Koehler pitched at two levels in his first full season. He was fine at both levels of A ball, going 9-6 combined with a 3.25 ERA over 133 innings. But he was 23, so it wasn’t too much to get excited about.

Then he moved up to Double-A last year. All he did was lead the system in wins and strikeouts, going 16-2 with 145 K’s in 158 2/3 IP. If it weren’t for his Jacksonville teammate Elih Villanueva and his 2.26 ERA, Koehler’s 2.61 would have led the system and he would have captured the organization’s pitching triple crown.

Perhaps once thought to be a non-prospect type too old for his level. But now he’ll turn 25 in June and be pitching just a phone call away in Triple-A. He might not have the biggest ceiling in the world, but he could be a very good innings eater in the back of a rotation.

OMG: St. Louis Cardinals

Here’s the Cards’ Top 10 and, as always, OMG (One More Guy) from their system:

Sanchez.jpgEduardo Sanchez, RHP: Signed out of Venezuela in December 2005, Sanchez spent his first three seasons moving slowly, but in 2009-2010, he’s picked up the pace, pitching at two levels in each season (he went back to Double-A last year after finishing there in 2009).

Listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Sanchez doesn’t look like much, but then you see him throw. He’s got a power arsenal perfect for the back end of a bullpen. He can get his fastball up into the upper-90s and he’s got a pretty nasty power slider to go with it. He’s struck out 9.9 per nine innings in his career (9.8 in 2010, but 10.3 once he moved up to Triple-A). Right-handed hitters didn’t stand a chance against him last year, hitting just .157 against him, thanks largely to that slider (Lefties hit a much more robust .293).

He’s shown he doesn’t flinch in pressure situations and calmly retired the side in order at the Futures Game last July. His biggest issue has been command/control as he’s given up a few too many walks over the course of his career. At his size, people will always worry about his endurance and durability. He’s had a good spring and is still sort of in contention for one of the open bullpen spots. Even if he goes down to Triple-A Memphis, where he could get some more closing experience, he should be ready to help out in St. Louis at some point this season.

 

OMG: Baltimore Orioles

The O’s Top 10 list is there for your reading enjoyment, so here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system:

pelzer.jpgWynn Pelzer, RHP: The return from last year’s Miguel Tejada trade, Pelzer looked very good after he was moved into the bullpen by the Padres shortly before the trade. Baltimore was smart and left him there as that’s likely where he’s got the best chance at being a productive big leaguer. He was a successful closer at the University of South Carolina.

Command is still an issue, but his stuff is legit. He’s got a plus fastball that can touch the upper-90s when he’s pitching in short stints and his slider could be a plus pitch as well. A permanent move to the bullpen would allow Pelzer to give up his less-than-successful efforts to develop an offspeed pitch.

The Orioles did not put Pelzer on the 40-man roster, banking on his command issues being enough to deter other teams from taking him in the Rule 5 Draft. Many thought Pelzer and his power arsenal would go, but he didn’t and he’s in O’s big-league camp as a non-roster invitee now. If he can start filling up the strike zone more consistently, he could be ready to help out in Baltimore before the year is over.

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