Saturday, October 16, 2004

Dioner Navarro Report

Dioner Navarro, C, New York Yankees
Signed as an undrafted free agent, 2000, Venezuela
Bats B/Throws R
20 YO, 5'10", 190 lbs

I really wanted to gloat and say that he was overrated going into the season. He probably was overrated. And he failed to meet the unrealistic expectations that were thrust upon him. But on the other hand, he did make it to AA as a 19 year old, and to AAA as a 20 year old.

Here are the numbers. In AA Trenton this season, he hit .271/.354/.369 in 121 at bats. And in 136 International League at bats, he hit .250/.316/.360. His walk rate is strong and improved a lot this season. He won't hit for the kind of average he showed last season (.341 in Trenton), and it doesn't look like he'll ever hit for much power. But he looks like he may slot in as a fringe starter in the majors. He's not a bad prospect. He's not a great one either.

ETA: Late 2005
3 Stars

Tim Stauffer Report

Tim Stauffer, RHP, San Diego Padres
Drafted 4th Overall, 2003 Draft, Richmond
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'2", 205 lbs

There's something to be said for honesty. It doesn't help a person's prospect ratings, but it's admirable. After being drafted, Stauffer reported to the Padres that an MRI showed weakness in his shoulder. That honesty cost him over a million and a half dollars on his bonus. It also makes me a bit worried about his future health.

That being said, Stauffer was great this season. He played at 3 different levels. At Hi-A Lake Elsinore, he posted a 1.78 ERA with 30 K's and 9 BB's in 35.1 IP. At AA Mobile, his line was 2.63 ERA, 33 K's, 14 BB's, 51.1 IP. And finally, at AAA Portland, it was 3.54 ERA, 50 K, 27 BB, 81.1 IP.

He doesn't have blazing stuff, but he has a good fastball, curve, and change, and he mixes speeds well.

ETA: Late 2005
4 Stars

Friday, October 15, 2004

TINSTAAPP Strikes Again

So Mike Jones goes under the knife. That makes him the third pitching prospect (all first round draft picks) in a month to have major surgery on his pitching arm.

Ben Fritz became the first major A's prospect to have a serious arm surgery in a long time when he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in mid September. In general, he's been a disappointment since being drafted 30th overall in 2002. He had a 5.63 ERA in the Texas League this season.

Also in September, Adam Loewen had his shoulder fixed. His labrum tear wasn't as substantial as the one Jones had. Loewen was drafted 4th overall in 2002.

Pitching prospects are internet stocks. They could be a windfall for you is they turn into Jake Peavy. But chances are that most of them are going to turn into Nick Bierbrodt and Richard Stahl. The phrase "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect" is tongue-in-cheek, but just barely. There are just so many things that can go wrong for a pitching prospect. They're walking through an injury minefield until they get into their mid 20's. As a fan, or a fantasy owner, you just always have to hope that your guy isn't next.

Jason Kubel Report

I'm going to change procedures for naming the Daily Prospect Reports. Instead, I'll use the name of the prospect. You'll still get at least one of them every day, and most of the time 2 per day on the weekend.

Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota Twins
Drafted 12th Round, 2000 Draft, HS, Palmdale, CA
Bats L/Throws R
22 YO, 5'11", 190 lbs

I'm not sure if he's technically still a prospect, but we're going with it. He entered 2004, never having a single at bat in the high minors. He finished 2002 on the Twins playoff roster, getting regular playing time in an outfield crowded with good players.

Here are the details. He started in AA New Britain, and hit .377/.453/.667 with 14 doubles, 4 triples, 6 home runs, 20 walks, and 19 K's in 138 AB. That got him promoted to Rochester, where he kept on rollin' to the tune of .343/.398/.560 with 28 doubles, 16 HR, 38 BB, and 40 K's in 350 AB. He even stole 16 bases with only 3 CS. He was called up to the big club after rosters expanded, and hit .300/.358/.433 in a small, 60 at bat sample.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a major league hitter looks like. Kubel will be a big part of the future Twins lineup, with Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer joining him as key members of the lineup. I have nothing at all to complain about.

ETA: Now
5 Stars

Thursday, October 14, 2004

BoSox and Astros in trouble

-Play by play announcers for playoff games always tend to feed you a lot of canned statistics about how that particular game is a must-win. Only X number of teams have won a series after going down x number of games in a series.

The stats that you might have seen last night in the Sox/Yanks game, or tonight in the Atros/Cards game was just a detailed way of saying that winning 4 out of 5 is really unlikely. It's a lot to ask when you're playing a BAD team. You're talking about an .800 winning percentage. The Diamondbacks were the worst team in baseball this season and opponents only managed a .685 winning percentage against them. The standard deviation over the course of 5 games makes it MORE likely than you would expect, it doesn't actually make it LIKELY.

So Boston and Houston are kind of up a creek.

-Houston's out of order rotation bears part of the blame. Their bullpen bears the rest. They've scored runs against a pretty underrated pitching staff in the first couple of games. They just haven't been able to stop the best lineup in baseball. Allowing 8 runs a game isn't going to help you much.

-The Red Sox were been betrayed by their offense last night, and by their best starter's balky ankle on tuesday.

-Am I the only one who loves Emerald Nuts commercials? I loved them during the Olympics, where they were ubiquitous, and I love them in the playoffs.

-Fox coverage is still really annoying, but last year's was much worse. I have yet to see the kind of promo saturation that we have come to expect. They aren't often missing the first pitch of every half inning because of their efforts to squeeze an extra few seconds of promos into every break. They've also cut back on (but not eliminated) the gratuitous animation and announcer plugs. I also don't recall a single instance where the cast of the O.C. had conveniently gotten its hands on some front row seats. In 2002 and 2003, I thought the playoffs were almost unwatchable. This year they've been annoying, but tolerable. I count that as progress.

Fall and Winter Leagues

We're just now getting into the fall and winter league season. The Arizona Fall League gets the most attention, by far. That's because it has the highest percentage of real prospects.

This isn't an organized look at the AFL, but here are some interesting notes.

If you happen to be in the Phoenix area, try and catch a Phoenix Desert Dogs game. Their infield contains late-blooming Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, Moneyball draftee and hopefully the future for the Royals at third base, Mark Teahen, along with 3 other players I like, Oakland catcher John Baker and middle infielder Omar Quintanilla, and KC second baseman Donald Murphy. They also have the hopes and prayers of Marlins fans, Jeremy Hermida.

Peoria has 2 teams in the league, not that any of the 6 teams are more than an hour or two away from Phoenix itself anyways. The better team (from a prospecting perspective) is the Javelins, with Padre 2B Josh Barfield, Mariners OF Shin-Soo Choo and SS Michael Morse, Cleveland catcher Ryan Garko and outfielder Jason Cooper. I'm a bit skeptical of Barfield. I don't think he's capable of being a major league second baseman, and I don't think his bat is strong enough to be a legitimate option in the outfield.

The other Peoria team, the Saguaros, has breakout Rangers shortstop Ian Kinsler (who I'll get around to profiling soon), fellow Rangers prospect, outfielder Jason Botts, and Blue Jays shortstop Aaron Hill. Botts has a power bat, and is kind of a poor man's Ryan Howard. He's a huge guy, and at 24, he needs to break into a major league team soon. Kinsler's been playing all over the infield, which presumably is because of the uncertainty of where he would be best used in Arlington with Soriano on the trade block, and Michael Young proving that he's a gold glove caliber second baseman AND shortstop. Hill is fighting for his future with the Blue Jays with Orlando Hudson and Russ Adams at short. I think he's more talented than Adams, but it's possible that Hudson could be the one to go.

The Scottsdale Scorpions have the Diamondbacks outfield tandem of Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin. I've profiled Quentin, and I like them both. But I like Jackson more. He doesn't have the defensive chops of Quentin, but he's a power bat with good patience. Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers are the marquee names in the infield. Weeks had a disappointing season, but he probably should have been in high A since he was less than a year out of a low level NCAA division 1 program. Pedroia is a guy who I loved going into the draft, and who I think will be one of the first 2004 draftees in the majors.

Grand Canyon has a mess of Twins players. I've already talked about fringe catcher prospect Rob Bowen. I've also talked about Scott Baker. You saw Jesse Crain in the Minnesota bullpen late in the season, including the playoffs. I'm not exactly sure why he's here. JD Durbin is getting more work in obviously. He's a pretty good pitching prospect, which is something that you don't see an awful lot of in the AFL. They also have former Braves first rounder Jeff Francoeur in the outfield. Another player I profiled recently, Mitch Jones hit the ground running, and already has 6 extra-base hits thus far.

The last team in the league is the Mesa Solar Sox. Who comes up with these names by the way? Anyways, they have last year's AFL star attraction, Delmon Young in the outfield. Joining him in the outfield is speed demon Joey Gathright and White Sox prospect Brian Anderson. In the infield, I'm mostly interested in Jeff Baker.

One thing that's apparent this year in the AFL is that teams are grooming relievers these days. High profile reliever prospects include Jesse Crain, Huston Street, Bill Bray, and Brad Baker.

The Mexican Winter League started last week, and they have a few players most seamheads have heard of. Outfield prospects Josh Kroeger (Arizona), Joe Borchard (CWS), and Jason Dubois (ChC) are all playing south of the border, Boston pitching prospect Abe Alvarez is starting. And Rangers infielder Marshall McDougal is spending his winter there as well.

Royals fans will be interested to hear that long time Omaha Golden Spike Kit Pellow is alive and well, playing in Mexico as a regular this winter. Can't be a bad gig. Sure the stadiums aren't fancy, and you're away from your family, but it sure beats selling cars in the cold midwestern winter.

Daily Prospect Report 10/14

Matt Whitney, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 33rd Overall, 2002 Draft, HS, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'4", 190 lbs

After he was drafted, the Indians started comparing him to Scott Rolen. Like Rolen, he was a big, strong kid with a power hitter's swing, and enough athleticism to be a star at the hot corner. He didn't disappoint after signing, putting up a .286/.359/.537 line in the Appalachian League. Then in the offseason, he broke his leg in 2 places playing basketball and missed all of the 2003 season, and the first couple of months of the 2004 season as well. He obviously is still in recovery mode, as he only hit .256/.347/.390 in only 195 at bats for Lake County.

I liked him a lot before the draft, and I thought he was a great prospect. The jury is still out. I hope that a freak accident doesn't deprive him of a career.

ETA: 2008-ish
2 Stars

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Night Notes

2 things tonight.

First off, I hate how baseball and Fox arranged the games tonight. Giving half the country one game, and the other half a different game is retarded. I really wanted to be able to flip back and forth between the two. And imagine if you were a St Louis native living in New York, or a Boston native living in Houston. There are only two games. How hard is it to either schedule them at different times, or mirror the coverage on one of the half dozen networks that are affiliated with MLB?

Secondly, I'd like to note that my friend Neil will start writing for TYBITF very soon. He has his own blog that is currently in hiatus until he has the time and energy to re-start it on a fulltime basis. I like the idea of bringing in another voice, another perspective, and another set of ideas for subject matter. The fact that he's smarter than I am doesn't hurt matters.

Daily Prospect Report 10/13

Taylor Buchholz, RHP, Houston Astros
Drafted 175th Overall (6th Round), 2000 Draft, HS, Springfield, PA
Bats R/Throws R
23YO, 6'4", 220 lbs

You know, pitching prospects have a real proclivity for disappointing people. Just when you think you have one figured out, they go and have the kind of season that still keeps Scott Karl awake at night. Buchholz was rated as the Astros #1 prospect after he was a key figure in the Billy Wagner trade. Well, he had a season from hell as he got hammered to the tune of a 5.23 ERA in one of the friendliest parks for pitchers in organized baseball. His strikeout rate was still respectable (74 in 98 innings), and while his walk rate rose (29 of them), it wasn't exactly Colt Griffin territory. He gave up more home runs (16) too. He might bounce back. He might keep sliding into irrelevance. It would probably be indulgent of me to mention that I thought he was a little overrated going into this season, but there I just went and did it.

P.S. Happy Birthday to Taylor, who turns 23 today.

ETA: 2005
3 Stars

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Daily Prospect Report 10/12

Brian Anderson, CF, Chicago White Sox
Drafted 15th Overall, 2003 Draft
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'2", 205 lbs

Killed the Carolina League, then in the Southern League...not so much. Here's the details. With Kannapolis, he hit .319/.394/.531 with 22 doubles, 4 triples, 8 home runs, 29 walks, and 44 K's in 254 AB. He even had a 10 stolen bases with a 91% success rate. Then in Birmingham, he hit .270/.346/.416 with only 9 doubles, 3 triples, and 4 home runs. His walk rate remained steady though, as he drew 22 walks in his 185 at bats.

He's described as a 5 tool player, though I hate that description. He's a good defender in center. He has speed, and his bat has the potential provide power, patience, and batting average. Now he just needs to carry through and make adjustments at every level. He'll probably start 2005 back in Alabama.

ETA: Early/Mid 2006
4 Stars

Monday, October 11, 2004

Daily Prospect Report 10/11

David Kelton, OF, Chicago Cubs
Drafted 46th Overall (2nd Round), 1998 Draft, HS, LaGrange, GA
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'3", 200 lbs

Believe it or not, he was drafted 4 spots ahead of Adam Dunn, and 1 spot before prospect-turned quarterback Chad Hutchinson. Kelton's kind of stagnated in AAA. He needs a change of scenery, or for the Cubs to give him a real shot at a big league job. He's probably out of options now, or close to it. So his chance will come soon, or else he'll fall into the class of AAA sluggers.

Kelton hit .245/.303/.448 in 420 AB in Iowa this season. He hasn't posted a batting average above .300, an OBP over .350, or a SLG above .500 since 2001, with AA West Tennessee.

He isn't good defensively anywhere, which makes it also hard to grasp the idea that he was drafted as a prep shortstop. And he isn't fast. He's a platoon corner outfielder. If he's lucky, he might find a role for himself as a leftymasher teaming up with a player like Matt Stairs. In other words, right now he's an inferior version of Ryan Ludwick.

ETA: 2005
1 1/2 Stars

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bonus Prospect Report

Kenny Baugh, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Drafted 11th Overall, 2001 Draft, Rice
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'4", 190 lbs

Before Niemann, Humber, and Townsend, there was Kenny Baugh. I liked Baugh a lot in 2001, when he was one of the best college arms available. There were some pretty frightening stories of how he was used at Rice, though. Some stories were floating around about 180 pitch outings on 3 days rest. Well, as one would predict, Baugh tore his labrum, and missed all of 2002 after surgery. He looks like he's starting to get back into form now, with his 3.72 ERA with 107 K's and 41 walks in 142.2 innings at AA Erie. He isn't an elite prospect. He isn't the prospect he was before the surgery. But at least he's back on the radar. He now projects as a back of the rotation starter, or possibly a pretty good reliever/swing starter. He'll probably start next year in Toledo.

ETA: Mid-2005
2 Stars

Daily Prospect Report 10/10

Omar Quintanilla, SS, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 33rd Overall, 2003 Draft, University of Texas
Bats L/Throws L
22 YO, 5'9", 190 lbs

After a very successful college career, Quintanilla was drafted by the A's, which should be a surprise to nobody. He hit a combined .358/.414/.491 between two stops in his pro debut. This year he hit .315/.370/.481 with 32 doubles and 11 home runs in 451 at bats for Modesto of the California League. Very unlike an A's prospect, he drew only 37 walks. After a promotion to AA Midland, he hit .351/.419/.521 with 10 doubles, 2 homers, 10 walks, and 9 strikeouts in 94 at bats. He's a doubles machine, that's for sure. I don't think he's going ever develop into a Marcus Giles type of power source, and he isn't a walk machine, but he looks like he stands a good chance at being a productive middle infielder.

Speculation is that he's better suited for second base, but with Bobby Crosby firmly entrenched at short, that's not a problem. The A's always seem to have an open competition for their second base job. Omar has a good chance of winning a battle for that spot and holding onto it. He's a better prospect than most of the A's other candidates, Mike Rouse, Freddie Bynum, and John McCurdy. And his long term future looks brighter than Marco Scutaro and Mark Ellis.

ETA: Late 2005
3 Stars

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