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.
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.
Here’s the Red Sox’s Top 10 prospect list. And now, OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Bryce 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.
Here’s the Minnesota Twins’ Top 10 prospects, meaning it’s time for OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
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.
Take a look at the Marlins’ Top 10 prospects. Now here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Tom 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.
Here’s the Cards’ Top 10 and, as always, OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Eduardo 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.
The O’s Top 10 list is there for your reading enjoyment, so here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Wynn 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.
Here’s your Houston Astros’ Top 10 prospects list and now, here’s OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Mike Kvasnicka, C: Initially an outfielder at the University of Minnesota, Kvasnicka moved behind the plate and became a much more intriguing prospect. He ended up going at the front of the sandwich round (No. 33 overall) and was in many first-round conversations as the Draft approached.
Kvasnicka has a good approach at the plate, from both sides of the plate. He hasn’t shown much power to date, though he has a very good line-drive stroke. He should hit for average and some power will come as he develops. He’s got a very strong arm, his best defensive tool that should work well behind the plate, especially if he learns the nuances of catching. That being said, it looks like he’s mostly going to play third this year. He’s not bad athletically and probably should adjust to the position eventually (and that arm will play just fine there, too).
Hopefully, the Astros will settle on a defensive home for Kvasnicka soon. He might have the most value behind the plate, though perhaps he’ll be able to advanced faster if he doesn’t have to worry about learning that craft. His bat should allow him to move fairly quickly.
As I sit in the press box at George M. Steinbrenner Field, waiting dutifully for C.C. Sabathia’s simulated game to start, I thought I’d bring you the Milwaukee Brewers’ OMG (One More Guy). First, here’s their Top 10 list.
And now, their OMG:
Cutter Dykstra, 3B: The Brewers took Lenny’s kid in the second round of the 2008 Draft out of the California high school ranks. His summer debut was fine, as he hit .271/.374/.412 in the rookie-level Arizona and Pioneer Leagues.
In 2009, he stumbled a bit, with a .659 OPS in 90 games between Helena (Pioneer League) and full-season Wisconsin. Consider then, 2010, as his coming out party. Dykstra finished second in the organization with his .312 batting average. He also had a .416 on-base percentage while his 27 steals placed him fourth in the system. He got better as the season in the Midwest League wore on, too, hitting .329 with a .443 OBP and 19 steals in the second half of the season. He’s looking more and more like a sparkplug, top-of-the-order type.
The big question is where he’s going to play defensively. In 2008 and 2009, he played a lot of outfield, though when he was back with Helena in 2009, he played second base every day. Last year, he was a third baseman. He doesn’t really profile for the hot corner, unless you’re using Chone Figgins as a role model. A move up to the Florida State League will be interesting to watch for the 21-year-old.
I know I owe you a few OMGs, but please forgive me. I had to fly down to Florida today for Spring Training coverage and had much to do on the home front to get ready. So I’ll play catch-up the next few days, I promise.
So, we’ll start the catch-up with the Indians. Here’s their Top 10 prospects and their OMG (One More Guy):
Nick Hagadone, LHP: The Red Sox’s sandwich pick from the 2007 Draft, Hagadone, of course, came over to the Indians in the Victor Martinez trade at the deadline back in 2009. He had missed nearly all of 2008 thanks to Tommy John surgery and 2009 was really just the bounce-back year.
In 2010, his first full season with the Indians, he began with Class A Advanced Kinston. After 10 starts and a 2.39 ERA (to go along with a .206 batting average against), he moved up to Double-A Akron. He made seven starts (5.19 ERA), then spent the rest of the year in the Aeros’ bullpen (3.68 ERA in 12 games).
Hagadone still has a pretty good arm, though he’s not throwing as hard as he was before the elbow surgery. While he did strike out 9.4 per nine innings in 2010, he also walked 6.6. Even if the velocity bounces back to the upper 90s consistently and his slider is always there for him, he’ll need to seriously harness his command. Many think he’s a reliever when all is said and done and they might be right. His 85 2/3 IP last year were a career high, so perhaps the Indians’ decision to let him continue starting in 2011 is as much about getting him needed innings as it is about developing him as a future part of a rotation. This could be the year we find out if a short relief role is really the way to go for him.
Here’s the Cubs’ Top 10 Prospects and, as always, OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Brett Wallach, RHP: It seemed like a story-book scenario. Son gets drafted by his big league father’s old team. Tim’s kid was taken in the third round of the 2009 Draft by the Dodgers and began his first full season with Great Lakes in the Midwest League. He went 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his first month in the league and it looked like he could take off. He struggled for the next two months, but turned it back around with a 2.63 ERA in July.
But then the fairtale was over. The Dodgers sent Wallach to the Cubs in the Ted Lilly deal. Wallach stayed in the Midwest League, pitching with Peoria, though he had a 5.76 ERA over seven starts there. But that’s not a real way to judge just what kind of prospect he is. Cut the guy a little slack, given that he was taken from the family organization (his dad has managed and his brother is a catcher in the system to boot). He’s got great pure stuff and with a little help, he could have a pretty high ceiling.