Saturday, October 30, 2004

Shaun Marcum Report

Shaun Marcum, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Drafted 80th Overall (3rd Rd), 2003 Draft, SW Missouri St
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'0", 180 lbs

His command is absolutely sick. In 79 Sally League innings, he only walked 16 batters while recording a 3.19 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 64 hits allowed. After moving up to the Florida State League, he only walked 4 batters in 69 1/3 innings while putting up 3.12 ERA with 72 K's and 74 hits allowed. He was a closer and a shortstop in college, and this was his first season as a starter. I think you could say that he did pretty well.

I'd say that he looks like a poor man's Zach Greinke, but Greinke is a couple years younger than Marcum, so the comparison probably illustrates how much of a freak Greinke is rather than the command of Marcum. Still, the skills are similar. He changes speeds effectively. He has multiple high quality pitches. And he has that freakish ability to never walk anybody.

ETA: 2006
4 Stars

Terry Jones Report

Terry Jones, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Drafted 4th Rd, 2001 Draft, HS, Upland, CA
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'2", 190 lbs

He's still young enough to turn it around and salvage a career for himself, but I have my doubts. He came into the season with a career .233/.300/.368 line in 647 at bats. He missed most of this season with a foot injury, and only hit .204/.300/.333 in 147 at bats when he did play. He's a hacker, who's struck out 3 times for every walk he's drawn. His isolated slugging percentage isn't anything to write home about. And he obviously isn't going to challenge Ichiro! for a batting title anytime soon. He's praised for his defense, but there's little use for a defensive specialist at third base these days.

ETA: 2007
1 Star

Friday, October 29, 2004

Roberto Novoa Report

Roberto Novoa, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Signed as an undrafted free agent, 1999, Dominican Republic
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'5", 200 lbs

After being a starter for his entire professional career, he's been moved to the bullpen by the Tigers, and it looks like a good choice. He posted a 2.96 ERA with 59 K's, 19 walks, and 63 hits allowed in 79 innings pitched over 41 relief appearances for Erie. He's a two pitch pitcher with a mid-90's fastball and decent breaking ball. His control is good. He should be pretty good. There are dozens of pitchers like Novoa who quietly climb the minor league ladder and end up in major league bullpens with hardly anybody noticing them until they throw a plastic folding chair at a heckler.

ETA: Early/Mid 2005
3 Stars

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Jon Papelbon Report

Congrats to the Red Sox and their fans. To say it has been a long wait would be a dramatic understatement.

Jon Papelbon, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Drafted 114th Overall (4th Rd), 2003 Draft, Mississippi State
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'4", 230 lbs

He has good stuff, and he had really good results this season. A 2.64 ERA with 153 K's, 45 walks, and 97 hits allowed in 129 2/3 innings pitched in the Florida State League is the kind of season that puts you on the map. He has the stuff that goes with it too, with a low 90's fastball and a nice slider.

I'd like to see him tighten the control a bit. And I'd like to see him move quickly since he turns 24 in November. But this is a pretty good prospect.

ETA: Late 2006
3 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Mike Fontenot Report

Mike Fontenot, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
Drafted 19th Overall, 2001 Draft, LSU
Bats L/Throws R
24 YO, 5'8", 160 lbs

After a disappointing pro debut, he got contacts and started hitting in 2003. In the Eastern League, he hit .325/.399/.481. This season, he regressed a bit, hitting .279/.346/.420 with 30 doubles, 10 triples, 8 homers, 48 walks, and 111 K's in 524 at bats. The plexiglass effect that Bill James talked about generally deals with teams that make a large improvement in their win total from one season to the next. But maybe there's a parallel for players. You see this sometimes, where a player makes a large step forward, then the next season, falls back to a more maintainable pace. Clearly he's better than the .264/.333/.364 he put up in A ball, but was probably playing over his head in 2003.

His speed is nothing to get worked up over. He stole 14 bases this season, but got caught 7 times. His defense is a work in progress, but he's no butcher.

Overall, I think he's a replacement level player who will float around on the fringes of major league rosters for most of his career, but like Marco Scutaro and Mark Ellis, he could potentially fill in competently at second base for a team where he can hit at the bottom of the order and not draw attention to himself. The Orioles already have a couple of second basemen in Jerry Hairston Jr (who they're turning into a utility player) and Brian Roberts.

ETA: 2005
2 Stars

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Brian Dopirak Report

Brian Dopirak, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Drafted 56th Overall (2nd Rd), 2002 Draft, HS, Dunedin, FL
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'4", 230 lbs

.307/.363/.593 in the Midwest League looks really nice on a resume. He had 77 extra base hits (38 doubles, 39 home runs) in 541 at bats. He was supposed to have the best raw power in the 2002 draft, and that translated into real power this season. He has power that you don't often see in a 20 year old, even one who is 6'4", 230 pounds.

His defense is a work in progress, and he's no threat to steal. Also, I'd like to see him draw a few more walks, as 52 free passes in 541 at bats is merely adequate. He needs to work on that. The idea that he could see better pitches to hit by being more selective should make pitchers very uneasy.

ETA: 2007
4 Stars

Monday, October 25, 2004

Jason Pridie Report

Jason Pridie, CF, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Drafted 43rd Overall (2nd Rd), 2002 Draft, HS, Prescott, AZ
Bats L/Throws R
21 YO, 6'1", 180 lbs

He's a talented hitter with no earthly idea of what the strikezone is and why drawing walks is a good thing. He now has 92 career walks in 1,362 at bats. This season, he hit .276/.327/.470 with 27 doubles, 11 triples, 17 home runs, 40 walks, 114 K's, in 515 at bats, and 17 stolen bases with a 74% success rate with Charleston (S.C.) of the Sally League. 20 more walks a year, and he's a pretty nice prospect. Double that walk rate, and he's a premium run producer.

It is possible for some players to learn plate discipline. Some players never learn though. Some players succeed despite hacking away at every pitch they see. The Rays have a couple of players who are above replacement level while not drawing any walks. Pridie needs a plate discipline infusion.

ETA: 2008
2 1/2 Stars

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Mike Hinkley Report

Mike Hinkley, LHP, Montreal Expos
Drafted 82nd Overall (3rd Rd), 2001 Draft, HS, Moore, OK
Bats R/Throws L
22 YO, 6'3", 170 lbs

He's still flying below most people's prospect radar, even though he was rated as the second best Expos prospect going into last season by Baseball America. The reason is because nobody is actually paying attention to the Expos farm lately, because it's not deep at all, and has really stagnated over the last 5 years or so. Hinkley's a good prospect though. He split the season between Brevard County of the Florida State League, and Harrisburg, of the Eastern League. In those two stops, he had a composite 2.77 ERA with 131 k's, 41 BB's, 130 hits, and only 11 home runs allowed in 156 innings pitched.

He has a really nice fastball, a good curve, and obviously he has nice control for a young pitcher. This is a good prospect, one that will be a good major leaguer soon. He also has no injury history to speak of. I like him.

ETA: Early 2006
4 Stars

Michael Bourn Report

Michael Bourn, CF, Philadelphia Phillies
Drafted 115th Overall (4th Round), Houston
Bats L/Throws R
21 YO, 5'11", 180 lbs

Baseball Prospectus used to call Greg Zaun the "Practically Perfect Backup Catcher". Well, in the Sally League this season, Michael Bourn had a practically perfect season for a leadoff hitter, and established himself as a premier outfield prospect. The stats are staggering. He hit .317/.433/.470 with 20 doubles, 14 triples, 5 home runs, 87 walks, 88 K's, and 57 SB with a 90% success rate. Oh, and he's a rangy flycatcher in center field. That's a Tim Raines season.

I like Bourn a lot, and not just because he has a made-for-primetime name. This is why teams draft speedy players. When they figure out how to draw a walk, use their speed on the bases efficiently, and run around the outfield like they were shot out of a cannon, they can be very valuable players. If Bourn doesn't completely collapse, he could be playing in between Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreau within 2 seasons.

ETA: 2007
4 1/2 Stars

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