Results tagged ‘ top prospects ’

Billy Hamilton: Man of Steal

I wrote about another cool Minor League statistical feat a few days ago, Matt Moore’s second straight 200-strikeout season. That one hadn’t been accomplished since 1982-83, when Sid Fernandez did it.

The last time someone stole 100 bases in a Minor League season wasn’t that far back — it was in 2001, when Chris Morris did it (he swiped a Midwest League record 111 bags). It’s still impressive, though, that Billy Hamilton (No. 3 on the Reds Top 10 prospects list) hit the century mark on Saturday. He’s now got 103 stolen bases on the year and has been caught just 20 times. He also leads the Midwest League in runs scored. And keep in mind this comes in the 140-game Minor League season, not over 162.

Having Delino DeShields as a manager this year clearly helped. DeShields stole 463 bases over the course of his big-league career. His career high in the Minors, though, was just 59. This brings up an interesting point. Take a look at the list of the previous 100-steal guys in the Minor Leagues:

Chris Morris (2001), 111
Esix Snead (2000), 109
Marcus Lawton (1985), 111
Donell Nixon (1984), 102
Vince Coleman (1984) 101
Vince Coleman (1983), 145
Donell Nixon (1983), 144
Lenny Dykstra (1983), 105
Otis Nixon (1982), 107
Jeff Stone (1981), 123
Alan Wiggins (1980), 120
Albert Hall (1980), 100

Aside from how much fun the early ’80s must’ve been in terms of base-stealing, this list is a bit of a mixed bag, isn’t it? The two most recent guys to get 100 steals, Morris and Snead, have 13 combined Major League at-bats. All of them are by Snead. Morris was out of baseball at age 25, never having gotten above Double-A ball. Snead stole over 500 bases in his Minor League career and some might put that in the Crash Davis “dubious honor” category. Marcus Lawton (Matt’s brother), had 14 big league at-bats and stole 379 bases in the Minors.

Donell Nixon, who did it twice, is Otis’ brother. Donell managed 396 ABs in the big leagues over parts of four seasons. Big bro, who topped 100 in the Minors the one time, played 17 seasons and swiped 620 career Major League bags. He, Coleman and Dykstra had the most successful careers on this list. The others I haven’t mentioned — Stone, Wiggins, Hall — had big-league time, but only Wiggins was an every-day player in that trio.

What does all of this mean? Nothing just yet. Hamilton is just turning 21 this week and this was his first taste of full-season ball. It was encouraging to see him start to hit better as the season wore on after starting off the year struggling. Minor League history is littered with speed guys who never make it because they don’t hit enough. I don’t think Hamilton is one of those guys, but here’s hoping he’s more Otis and Donell when all is said and done.

USA Baseball’s Prospect Classic

As I sit here in my hotel room in Cary, North Carolina, getting ready to be a part of the broadcast team that will bring you the first-ever USA Baseball Prospect Classic, I can’t help but think, before an inning has ever been played, that this is by far the coolest event no one knows about (at least not yet so much).

For those of you who don’t know what it’s all about, you can read my preview about the two-game event. But, in a nutshell, it’s the Collegiate National Team playing two exhibition games against the 18 and under trial team. And the more I prepare and think about it, I’m getting all geeked out.

Yes, I know, this is a bit of a niche thing. But it’s an ever-growing niche and every year it seems there’s more and more information out there on amateur players/Draft prospects. Will it ever reach the fever pitch of the NFL Draft? Probably not, largely because I don’t see college and high school baseball hitting the popularity levels of college football. But imagine if football had the Army/Under Armour high school all-americans (or whatever they’re called) playing against, or competing with the players in, say, the Senior Bowl. The latter may not have the top college players, but you get the idea.

Well, that’s exactly what this USA Baseball Prospect Classic is. With the exception of some of the college players who went to the Cape Cod League and a few who played deep into the College World Series, so they opted not to come, these two games will put the top 50-60 amateur players — nearly all of whom will be top picks in the 2012 Draft — on one field at one time.

Every year as the Draft comes around, people email, leave comments here, or tweet with questions about the Draft class. Well, you can get started on your 2012 research now with these games. Watch the broadcasts (on MLB Network Saturday and Sunday at noon ET, but they’ll likely be rebroadcast several times), look for stories, follow live scoring on www.usabaseball.com, whatever you have to do. That will give you a big leg up on knowing what’s coming in 2012. As the preview states, if this Classic existed the last few years, it would have had a huge amount of future first-rounders on the field at one one time.

And this is just the first year of this thing, so it’s only going to get better. I only hope that the exposure (both on mlb.com and on MLB Network) will help it grow and more prospects will be drawn to it… perhaps even getting a few more college guys to come here instead of heading to the Cape (love the Cape League, by the way, just saying that the way things are set up now, they could come here, then still have some time in the Cape).

So check it out and become a fan of what USA Baseball is doing here. If you’re a prospect geek — and chances are if you’re looking at my blog, you are — this is a dream event. (And if you’re in Durham, come on by and say hello).

I’ll add some video interviews on here as the weekend progresses.

Minor League All-Stars: Midwest League

A couple of days ago, I took a closer look at the South Atlantic League All-Star Game rosters, cross-refrencing with the Top 50 prospects list and the Top 10s by organization and position, all of which can be found on Prospect Watch. Today, we’ll look at the Class A Midwest League in the same manner.

Eastern Division

Jake Marisnick, Blue Jays: No. 9 on Blue Jays Top 10

 

Western Division

Yordy Cabrera, A’s: No. 6 on A’s Top 10

Matt Szczur, Cubs: No. 8 on Cubs Top 10

Tyler Thornburg, Brewers: No. 9 on Brewers Top 10

 

That, believe it or not, is it for the Midwest League. According to my scoring system (5 points for Top 50, 3 for Top 10 by position, 2 for Top 10 by organization), that gives the Western Division a 6-2 advantage. It also shows that the South Atlantic League is a little more robust when it comes to “prospects.”

Next up: Florida State League, which has its All-Star Game this Saturday.

On the back fields with… Deck McGuire

Here’s the second installment of my new video series, sharing the conversations I had with Minor Leaguers during Spring Training. Right now, we’re featuring 2010 first-round picks. We’ll stay in the American League East, this time with Toronto Blue Jays’ first-rounder Deck McGuire. The No. 11 overall pick (and No. 7 on the Blue Jays Top 10), the Georgia Tech right-hander didn’t pitch last summer, so he’s making his pro debut right now. The Jays sent him straight to the Class A Advanced Florida State League, where he’s appeared in two games. The first was a four-inning shutout relief appearance (don’t worry, he’s a starter — the Jays just piggy-backed him), the second was a three-run, five-hit over 4 2/3 IP performance. He’s struck out 10 and walked three in 8 2/3 total innings.

Like I did with Manny Machado, you have two options. You can watch the shortened, edited version of the McGuire interview right here — sort of a Cliff’s Notes version.

Or, if you want the full, raw video (where you get a better sense of McGuire’s outstanding personality), you can watch below.

Coming up…

Boy, oh boy, do we have an exciting spring planned. It’s hard to believe it’s already here, with pitchers and catchers reporting very soon.

As you may have noticed, we’re stepping up our prospect coverage. First there were the Top 10 by position stories, then of course the overall Top 50 was unveiled.

And perhaps you saw my story on the next wave of young catchers coming up to the big leagues.

Coming up soon…. Top 10 by organization. That’s right, folks. We’ll have ranked Top 10 lists for all 30 teams coming in the near future, complete with video segments. Look for those starting around the end of the month and throughout March. As always, these lists and the organization previews, are sure to stir up debate which is, after all, the point of doing them.

We’re also going to have a Draft Top 50 prospects list. I’m working on it now.

By the way, if you want to keep track of all this stuff, check out my vanity page, I mean, the place where my stories can be found. Let’s call it the Look at Me page, shall we?

One thing I’m the first to admit I haven’t been so great about covering has been prospects from international markets, especially Latin America. You know, the MIguel Sano types before they sign, or as they sign, with MLB teams. I’m going to try and improve upon that in 2011 and thanks to the Dominican Prospect League, there’s a lot more information at the ready.

Case in point, the Mariners’ recent signing of Gaby Guerrero, Vlad’s nephew. The M’s got him for 400K and the DPL has some good scouting info on the young outfielder, who looks a bit like his uncle when you watch him.

This is what the DPL has to say about Guerrero:

Gaby is 6’2 180lb with an XL frame much like his uncle Vladimir
Guerrero. The resemblance is noticeable from a distance and his tools
have certain similarities. His has arm strength, ability to put the ball
in play and power potential. Gaby’s swing can be long and loopy at
times but he creates leverage and power through the zone with loop. 

Good stuff, no? And they’ve got video to boot. It may not be the most telling piece of film you’ll ever see, but considering we normally don’t get to glimpse these guys at all until they come to the U.S., this is pretty cool stuff.

Take a look. We’re just getting cranking on the 2011 season, prospect style, so keep
checking back in for coverage here, there and everywhere.
 

PSP, Part II

PSP, if you missed yesterday’s post, stands for Post-Strasburg Pitching in the Minors. Yesterday, I ran through the pitching prospects who were in the 1-25 range of MLB.com’s preseason Top 50 prospects list. Today, let’s take a gander at those in the 26-50 range and how they’ve fared to date:

28. Casey Kelly, RHP, Red Sox: He’s 20, focusing on pitching full-time for the first time and in Double-A. He’s got a 4.28 ERA and .292 BAA for the year, but if his first two June starts are any indication, he’s getting locked in. He’s given up one run over 11 innings in those outings, yielding just nine hits and two walks while striking out nine.

34. Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves: The Colombian is just 19 and already earned a promotion from Class A Rome to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. And he’s performed well there, as well. Combined, Teheran has a 1.39 ERA, a .201 BAA, 82 K’s and just 15 BB in 71 1/3 IP. He’s fourth in the Minors in ERA and 13th in strikeouts.

39. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers: After 14 dominant relief appearances across two levels, Scheppers made his first start on June 13. Overally, he’s got a 1.32 ERA and .153 BAA, striking out 48 and walking 10 over 34 combined innings.

41. Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals: The idea was that Crow would be a quick to the big leagues type and the 2009 first-rounder was sent straight to Double-A to make his official pro debut. He’s scuffled a bit, with a 5.66 ERA over 13 starts, as Texas League hitters have hit .294 against him. He’s walked 33 and struck out 44 over 70 innings of work. His best stat is his GO/AO, which is a robust 3.85 and leads all Minor League pitchers.

42. Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers:  Detroit’s first-rounder in 2009, Turner missed some time early with a forearm issue, but seems just fine now, with a 3.18 ERA over three June outings. Overall, the big-armed high school product has a 3.72 ERA in the Class A Midwest League, with 49 strikeouts and just eight walks in 48 1/3 IP. The league is hitting .238 against the right-hander.

43. Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals: Only an elbow issue, from which he recently returned, has slowed the lefty. Still, Montgomery is already in Double-A at age 20 and has a combined 2.01 ERA over 53 2/3 IP. In that time, he’s struck out 58 and walked only 14 while holding all hitters to a .200 batting average against.

47. Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Phillies:  Part of the haul the Phils got from the Mariners when they sent Cliff Lee there, Aumont seems to be going backwards. The 21-year-old Canadian began the year in Double-A, but after 11 starts of a 7.49 ERA, .284 BAA and 38 walks/38 K’s over 49 2/3 IP, he got sent down to Class A Adv Clearwater.In his first outing there, in relief, he gave up five earned runs on three hits and four walks in two-thirds of an inning.

49. Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers: The 21-year-old is showing the ability to make hitters in the California League swing and miss — he’s got 60 K’s in 57 IP. But he’s also walked 34. The league, typically a hitting-friendly one, is hitting .252 against him, yet he’s allowed just one home run. The command clearly has impacted him as he’s carrying a 5.68 ERA with him to date.

Post-Strasburg Pitching

Or PSP, if you like abbreviations.

Obviously, all the buzz about Stepthen Strasburg in the big leagues is warranted. And it’s not likely to die down any time soon. But now that he’s up with the big club, the question is: Who’s left in the Minors?

Any time Strasburg took the mound in a Minor League ballpark, it was the top news of the day. Now that he’s gone, it’s not like there are no pitching prospects worth talking about. Quite the contrary. They may not have the Q rating of the 2009 No. 1 overall pick, but they’re pretty good in their own right. You might see some of them take the mound out west in the All-Star Futures Game, to be held on Sunday, July 11 in Anaheim.

There are a couple of ways to look at the top pitching prospects in the Minors. First, we’ll start with the MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list from the start of the year. Strasburg was No. 2 on that list. Here’s how the others are faring (excluding ones already in the big leagues):

10. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants: Concerns over his drop in velocity have dissipated as he tweaked his mechanics and looks more like the guy who everyone was all excited about to begin with. His June hasn’t been as thrilling, but he went 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in six May starts. Overall, he’s a 20-year-old who’s gone 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA in the Triple-A PCL.

17. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Blue Jays: The key to the Roy Halladay trade, Drabek has spent the year in the Double-A Eastern League and has a 7-5 record to go along with a 3.24 ERA, .238 batting average against. He’s ninth in the EL in ERA and tied for the lead in K’s.

18. Martin Perez, LHP Rangers: The young lefty has scuffled a bit in the Double-A Texas League. He has struck out more than a batter per inning, but his 5.32 ERA over 11 starts is a result of less-than-stellar command (27 BB in 45 2/3 IP) and being somewhat hittable (.280 BAA). He missed some time with a fingernail injury and just came back last Sunday.

20. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays:  Can’t complain about how he’s pitched this year. He’s tied for the International League lead with eight wins, is second in K’s with 84 (in 81 2/3 IP) and is fourth with his 2.42 ERA. A good argument could be made that he’s been the most consistent non-Stras ptiching prospect in baseball this year.

21. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks: Following Tommy John surgery, Parker is throwing from a mound and seems to be ahead of schedule.

23. Christian Friedrich,  LHP, Rockies: The lefty was slowed earlier this year, missing nearly a month with elbow soreness, but the good news is he’s been taking his regular turn in the Double-A Tulsa rotation. The bad news is he hasn’t been particularly effective and is currently 0-4 with a 4.89 ERA and .302 batting average against.

That’s 1-25. Stay tuned for 26-50 tomorrow…

Scouting for books

I love this time of year. And it’s certainly not because of the endless amounts of snow we’re getting these days in Pittsburgh.

A big part of it, of course, is that pitchers and catchers are reporting very soon. Another is that it’s a wonderful time to stock the bookshelves anew with this year’s group of prospect-related volumes. There are some of the usual must-haves, some interesting team-related tomes to consider and even a techno-savvy publication that would have to go on your virtual shelf, rather than the real one.

So, without further ado, here are some literary highlights to consider:

1. Baseball America Prospect Handbook. If you don’t know this one, you shouldn’t bother reading on, really. Top 30 prospects for all 30 organizations, it doesn’t get more in depth than that. Throw in some great rankings and other features and this is a must-have.

2. The Baseball Prospect Book 2010. This annual by John Sickels (check out his blog, Minor League Ball). He always does good work with this publication and once again, it’s chock full o’ information. This year’s edition has 1170 players in it, the most he’s ever covered and he’s starting to wrinkle in some of the new-fangled statistical metrics.

3. Project Prospect’s Digital Prospect Guide.  Going all-electronic, with no printed publication, the folks at Project Prospect have a very cool product on their hands. It’s got lots of analysis with the added benefit of video. You can pre-order it now. If you want to check out what this thing looks like, there’s an overall preview of the guide, as well as some video of some guy named Stephen Strasburg to check out.

4. Minor League Baseball Analyst 2010. From the good folks at Baseball HQ, this book has always been an interesting mix of fantasy baseball, scouting and statistical analysis. Originally written by Deric McKamey, he’s moved on and is now scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals. This year’s edition is brought to you by Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney, with information on more than 1000 minor leaguers in its pages.

And some team-centric works:

1. The Newberg Report. All bloggers/team site operators could very well use this as a 2010c.jpgmodel if they’re interested in writing a book about their team. Jamey Newberg‘s work is always top-notch and this year’s bound edition is no different. Tons of original content, lots of stuff on prospects from arguably the best farm system in baseball and a great package of stuff Jamey wrote over the 2009 season makes TNR a book even non-Ranger fans would enjoy.

2. Minesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. From Seth Stohs, coer image.jpgauthor of the terrific Twins site, Sethspeaks.net, has his new prospect guide ready for pre-order. This year’s version has over 150 prospect profiles as well as a bunch of original features and tons of photos to peruse. The Twins for years have been top-notch at building from within and I don’t know if there are many people who know more about Minnesota’s farm system than Seth does.

3. Cleveland Indians 2010 Top 100 Prospects. If you don’t know Tony Lastoria’s work at TopProspects2010_frontcopy2.jpgIndians Prospect Insider, you should. He’s got that system covered extermely well and this year’s book has over 165 scouting reports in it, tons of photos, draft reviews, you name it.

Obviously, these aren’t the only prospect-related offerings out there. I love showing a cross-section of “professional” works out there as well as highlighting the fan-site/blogger publications. If there are good ones out there I’m forgetting, be sure to let me know about them in comments. 

 

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