Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mark Kiger Report

Mark Kiger, IF, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 158th Overall (5th Rd), 2002 Draft, Florida
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 5'11", 180 lbs

Kiger was born to be a utility infielder. He was a college shortstop. He now plays second and short. He can hit a little bit, but not enough to make him a really good starter. He's basically a better version of Mark Ellis.

Kiger hit .269/.366/.395 in 722 at bats in 2002 and 2003. This season, he hit .262/.367/.355 with 24 walks, 3 triples, 5 home runs, 78 walks, and 97 K's in 488 at bats. He shared the infield with the struggling John McCurdy. McCurdy was drafted in the first round in 2002 while Kiger was drafted in the fifth round. The draft is an inexact science.

ETA: 2006
3 Stars

Fernando Nieve Report

Fernando Nieve, RHP, Houston Astros
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, Venezuela
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'0", 195 lbs

He didn't disappoint this season after being rated as the #5 Astros prospect by Baseball America last season. He actually had a really nice season, putting up a 2.96 ERA with 117 K's to 40 walks. He allowed less than a hit per inning, and even threw 2 shutouts.

BA loves his fastball and reports that he's really developed a killer curveball. He's a small guy, but that doesn't bother me much. This is a good prospect, probably the best pitching prospect the Astros have.

ETA: Late 2006
3 1/2 Stars

Friday, October 22, 2004

Eric Duncan Report

Eric Duncan, 3B, New York Yankees
Drafted 27th Overall, 2003 Draft, HS, Florham Park, NJ
Bats L/Throws R
19 YO, 6'3", 195 lbs

He made it up to Hi-A before his 20th birthday and more than held his own. That's a pretty good sign.

He hit .260/.351/.479 with 23 doubles, 2 triples, 12 home runs, 38 walks, and 84 K's in 288 at bats in the Midwest League. The strikeout rate is a bit high, but everything else looks good. After moving up to the Florida State League, he hit .254/.366/.462 with 20 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, 34 walks, and 47 K's in 173 at bats. It doesn't look likely that he'll ever compete for a batting title, but he's young, has a really advanced approach at the plate, and hits for power. That walk rate in Tampa is off the charts.

He isn't fast, and they're already speculating that he could move to first base soon, but that bat is special.

ETA: 2007
4 Stars

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Brian Snyder Report

Brian Snyder, 3B, Oakland A's
Drafted 26th Overall, 2003 Draft, Stetson U.
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'0", 195 lbs

He had a good season for Kane County, but I'm disappointed that he wasn't promoted to the Modesto because it would be nice to see how he would do in High-A.

His Midwest League numbers ended at .311/.421/.484 with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 13 home runs, 69 walks, and 82 K's in 366 AB. I'd like to see more power, but the average and the walks are there. He looks a lot like Mark Teahen to me.

His defense at third is very good. His speed is marginal. All in all, he looks to be a very similar story to Teahen. He has all the same strengths and weaknesses, and he has the same Eric Chavez shaped roadblock looming ahead of him. He'll be trade bait soon.

ETA: 2006
3 Stars

Val Pascucci Report

Val Pascucci, OF/1B, Montreal Expos
Drafted 15th Round, 1999 Draft, Oklahoma
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'6", 230 lbs

He hit .298/.423/.577 in Edmonton with 32 doubles, 25 home runs, 82 walks, and 95 K's in 392 at bats. He could be a major league regular right now and I'm not sure why the Expos didn't give him more of a chance. He obviously is a disciplined hitter with power. He does strike out more than you'd like, but given the other parts of his game, I think that's nitpicking. With Nick Johnson being made of glass, Pascucci should get a chance soon. He should do well. He has to break into the majors soon. He'll be 26 in November, and time is running out.

He's a capable, but unspectacular defender both on an outfield corner and at first. His speed is marginal. His only real strength is his bat.

ETA: Early 2005
3 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bear Bay Report

Bear Bay, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Drafted 25th Round, 2002 Draft, Angelina (TX) Junior College
Bats R, Throws R
21 YO, 6'2", 160 lbs

I'd like to think that players like Bear Bay are the reason why people read this blog. Every seamhead knows who Dallas McPherson is, and anybody with internet access and the motor skills to do a Google search can tell you that he's a good one. You have to put in some work to find a kid like Bay, who wasn't a premium pick, is overshadowed by more advanced, higher drafted prospects in his own organization. Still, there's a lot of guys like him, with a lot of things going for them.

Bay is a draft and follow who just completed his first campaign in full-season ball. He spent the summer in the Midwest League, and put up a 3.10 ERA with a 139/33 K/BB ratio. He only allowed 7 home runs in 168 1/3 innings pitched. He looks like a really nice prospect who will start catching people's attention when he gets to AA. First he has to stay healthy though, which is always the asterisk that you put next to pitchers.

He also had a good 2003 season, with a 2.84 ERA, 93 K's, 16 BB's, , and 3 HR allowed in 79 IP split between the Arizona Rookie League and the Northwest League. He still has a long way to go, but keep his name in mind.

ETA: 2008
3 Stars, which is high praise for a pitcher who has yet to see Hi-A.

Josh Johnson Report

Josh Johnson, RHP, Florida Marlins
Drafted 113th Overall (4th Rd), 2002 Draft, HS, Jenks, OK
Bats L/Throws R
20 YO, 6'7", 220 lbs

He's had good results, but I have some concerns. As you can see, he's a big kid. He has an average fastball, a changeup and a slider. At Jupiter this year, he put up a perfectly acceptable 3.46 ERA with 103 K's in 114.1 innings. The problem is that he also walked 49 hitters and uncorked 13 wild pitches. It also bears mentioning that the Florida State League is a great place to be a pitcher, inflating stats for pitchers. If he continues to struggle with his command, he'll get lit up in the upper minors.

ETA: 2007
2 1/2 Stars

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

John Baker Report

John Baker, C, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 128th Overall (4th Round), 2002 Draft, California
Bats L/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 215 lbs

Jeremy Brown is better known, but Baker is the better prospect. The two shared playing time at catcher and DH this season at AA Midland. Baker hit .280/.355/.477 with 32 doubles, 5 triples, and 15 home runs with 39 walks, and 95 K's in 440 AB. He also got hit by 17 pitches on the season, helping the OBP quite a bit. Also of note is a truly bizarre, sample size induced stat line he put up at the end of the season in Sacramento. .347/.429/.408 with 7 walks, 23 K's, and 2 doubles in 49 AB is unique.

He's an average defensive catcher. And he's a decent prospect. He hits for a little power, gets the ball in play. He even has a little speed since he dropped some weight in the offseason. He's probably going to be a mid-range catcher similar to the Chad Moellers and Damian Millers of the world.

ETA: Late 2005
3 Stars

Kody Kirkland Report

Kody Kirkland, 3B, Detroit Tigers
Drafted 30th Round, 2001 Draft, JC of Southern Idaho
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'4", 200 lbs

Came into the year with a career line on .304/.383/.457 in 411 at bats. In 496 at bats this season, he hit .236/.276/.401 with only 15 walks and 149 strikeouts. That's a complete meltdown, especially in plate discipline. He did pound out 51 extra-base hits, but that isn't going to redeem him if he keeps going up there hacking at anything round and white with no regards as to whether he can actually hit it or not.

How does this happen? He wasn't exactly a David Wright kind of 3B prospect coming into the season. This is the kind of season that can take you completely off the prospect lists. He should take notes from fellow Tigers farmhand, Curtis Granderson, who improved his plate discipline and had his best season since college, and is now firmly planted on the prospect lists.

ETA: 2008
1 Star

Monday, October 18, 2004

Yanks/BoSox Note

In the middle of the 14th, I flipped to f/x to get an update on the Houston/St Louis game. I saw the Beltran diving stop and wanted to weep a little bit for the loss of one of my favorite players from my favorite team. But that's for another post and another day. That's not what this is about.

After the inning ended on that channel, I flipped back to my local Fox affiliate to make sure I didn't miss any of the bottom of the 14th. I caught a couple seconds of the last network commercial, then a few seconds of a Fox slate before the local commercials kick in. This is painful for me to watch. You see, I'm a broadcast engineer, and a program slate on air is always a sign that the master control operator screwed up. Furthermore, I've been a master control operator for 5 years now. I feel this poor man's (or woman's as the case may be) pain.

For those who aren't broadcast engineers, master control operators run the switcher that controls what goes on the air. It's an important job.

Games like this are wonderful for fans. There are very few things that are more pleasing than a 14 inning nailbiter. But it is a scenario strait out of an MC operator's nightmares. Stations always schedule an extra break or two just in case of overtime or extra innings, which would result in extra local breaks. Nobody schedules enough conditional positions to cover an extra 5 innings. The only two nightmares that infect our dreams more than this kind of thing, are the one where there's a complete technical meltdown, taking the whole station off the air, and the one where you screw up and miss a break during the Super Bowl.

I've had only one game that was this bad. It was a Stanley Cup playoff game that had 3 or 4 overtimes several years ago. I used up all of my extra breaks and had to start waking people up to build breaks filled with advertisers who we were sure would actually pay the bill for a spot they didn't schedule ahead of time. And compounding the situation is the fact that at any point, the game could be won by a single play, and you'd have to drop the break you just built on very short notice.

49 days out of 50, being a master control operator is a pretty easy gig. That 50th day is a humbling, terrifying, and very tiring experience. It makes the other 49 days worth the trouble of employing somebody to do it.

Chris Burke Report

Chris Burke, 2B, Houston Astros
Drafted 10th Overall, 2001 Draft, Tennessee
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 5'11", 180 lbs

Meet next year's starting second baseman for the Astros. Everybody was pretty disappointed about his 2002 season in a manner that really should sound familiar to Rickie Weeks. Less than a year after being drafted, he was thrown into AA when he probably wasn't ready. He's caught up to the learning curve now, and he hit .315/.396/.507 in 483 AB in New Orleans. He put up 33 doubles, 6 triples, 16 home runs, 57 walks, 76 K's, and 37 SB (with a 73% success rate). He looks like a good top of the order hitter. He's a solid, but unspectacular defensive second baseman (think Marcus Giles).

ETA: Early 2005
4 Stars

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Corey Smith Report

Corey Smith, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 26th Overall, 2000 Draft, HS, Piscataway, NJ
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'1", 200 lbs

You know, it just isn't going to happen. Every year people say that this is the year where Corey Smith breaks out. But so far, those people are 0-5. He came into this season with line of .261/.332/.407 in 1685 career minor league at bats. This season he held form, hitting .249/.347/.419. If you're really looking for signs of progress, you can look at his walk rate, which is now pretty good (63 in 454 AB). But he isn't hitting. The reports on his defense are still pretty bad. He has athleticism, but his hands are questionable and his footwork is still a mess. You hate to call a guy a bust before his 23rd birthday, but Smith hasn't showed us much of anything yet, and I don't think he's going to.

ETA: 2007
1 1/2 Stars

John Buck Report

John Buck, C, Kansas City Royals
Drafted 7th Round, 1998 Draft, HS, Taylorsville, UT
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'3", 210 lbs

I like him. I really do. He had a really rough introduction to the major leagues, but he can hit and field. In New Orleans this season, he hit .300/.368/.507 with 11 doubles, 12 home runs, 23 walks, and 39 K's in 227 at bats. The PCL in general is a nice place to be a hitter, but New Orleans itself is a horrible park for hitters. I don't think he's likely to maintain that matting average in the major leagues, but the power is for real. On the other hand, he should have better batting averages than the .235 he posted in KC. He's also a damned good defensive catcher.

He's no star in the making, but he'll be a competent, steady starter at a position where it's tough to find good players.

ETA: Now
3 1/2 Stars

Ryan Harvey Report

Ryan Harvey, OF, Chicago Cubs
Drafted 6th Overall, 2003 Draft, HS, Dunedin, FL
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'5", 220 lbs

He's developing much slower than most had expected. He still hasn't made it to full season ball. And he hit .264/.327/.481 in 231 AB. His biggest problem right now is making contact. Strikeouts aren't a bad thing in and of themselves, but there's a point where it starts being a liability. Harvey struck out 78 times in only 231 at bats, while only drawing 20 walks. He has lightning in that bat as long as he makes contact, as witnessed by the .217 isolated slugging percentage including 14 home runs. He needs to shorten his swing and improve his plate discipline. If he does that, he could be a real stud. But for now, he's just an intriguing young player.

ETA: 2008
2 1/2 Stars

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