Saturday, December 25, 2004

Anthony Lerew Report

Anthony Lerew, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Drafted 346th Overall (11th Rd), 2001 Draft, HS, Wellsville, PA
Bats L/Throws R
22 YO, 6'3", 210 lbs

See? I've said it before and I'll say it again. Draft high school pitchers late. Sometimes they turn into your best prospects and you don't have the same kind of financial risk that you see in first round high school pitchers. It worked with Lerew, who went from high school darkhorse to one of the btter pitching prospects in the Braves system. He has a heavy low 90's fastball and a damned good change. His strikeout rate is good. His walk rate isn't optimal, but it isn't a big concern considering all he's ever done as a pro is get a lot of hitters out. This year as a 21 year old in the Carolina League, he posted a 3.75 ERA with 125 K's, 46 walks, and 145 hits allowed in 144 innings. He allowed a home run for every 12 innings he pitched. That looks pretty good.

ETA: Late 2006/Early 2007
3 1/2 Stars

Maxim St. Pierre Report

Maxim St. Pierre, C, Detroit Tigers
Drafted 775th Overall (26th Rd), 1997 Draft, HS, Montreal, Quebec
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'0", 170 lbs

Since Creighton Gubanich didn't play in 2004, Maxim St. Pierre becomes the best name in the minor leagues. As a player, St. Pierre profiles as a Mike Matheney type all leather, no lumber backstop. He has great defensive skills that would make him useful to a team that has a starting catcher with a good bat and no glove. He hit .248/.315/.383 for Toledo. He's blocked in this organization, and is likely to bounce around AAA for the next decade.

ETA: Early 2005
2 Stars

Jayson Drobiak Report

Jayson Drobiak, 1B, New York Yankees
Drafted 1309th Overall (44th Rd), 1999 Draft, U of Connecticut
Bats L/Throws R
26 YO, 6'2, 190 lbs

After Drobiak was released by the Tigers, he hit well enough in the independant Frontier League to get signed by the Yankees. He then slugged home runs for a couple of years and looked like a deep, deep sleeper. However, a .229/.293/.417 season the Florida State League this year effectively killed that perception. He hits the ball a long way when he makes contact, but he very rarely makes contact. He hit 11 home runs in 288 at bats, but struck out 71 times in that sample.

1 Star

Friday, December 24, 2004

Scott Kazmir Report

Scott Kazmir, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Drafted 15th Overall, 2002 Draft, HS, Houston, TX
Bats L/Throws L
20 YO, 6'1", 170 lbs

Most serious baseball fans know his name. Everybody with so much as a passing interest in prospects knows his name VERY well as well as his radar gun readings, usually in the mid 90's. The public concerns that the Mets had about his delivery and coachability is something I chalk up to revisionist history by an organization that got blasted for a terrible deal. They GAVE Kazmir away, and it was a ridiculous decision.

That being said, Kazmir isn't a perfect prospect. His control deteriorated this season as he walked 63 batters in 134 1/3 innings between 4 different teams, highlighted by his 21 walks in 33 1/3 innings for Tampa. He still maintained a healthy strikeout rate with 145 K's over the course of the season. Chances are that the Rays are going to keep him in the big leagues all season. I'd like to see him spend half a season in Durham getting his control ironed out and consolidating his gains while keeping his arbitration clock on hold. Also of note, many have typecast him as a future closer instead of a future ace. Putting him in the bullpen at this point would be a waste of his considerable talent. While it is true that his stuff and his build look more like Billy Wagner than Curt Schilling, he hasn't given any evidence of lacking stamina or of being especially injury prone. Give your team a chance to maximize a young pitcher's value.

Standard TINSTAAPP caveats apply. He still could blow out a labrum or keep walking a bunch of hitters.

ETA: 3 months ago
4 1/2 Stars

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Adam Jones Report

Adam Jones, SS, Seattle Mariners
Drafted 37th Overall, 2003 Draft, HS, San Diego
Bats R/Throws R
19 YO, 6'2", 185 lbs

It's a little early to say for sure, but I think I'd probably like to see what Jones could do on the mound. Most teams respected him more as a pitcher than a hitter leading up to the draft, mostly because of his low 90's fastball. He hasn't done much with the bat so far as a pro. In 2004, he hit .267/.314/.404 in 510 Midwest League at bats with a 33 walks and 124 strikeouts. Defensively, he holds promise with a strong arm and good hands, but he's still a work in progress on that side of the ledger.

ETA: 2008 at the earliest
1 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Yorman Bazardo Report

Yorman Bazardo, RHP, Florida Marlins
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2000, Venezuela
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'2", 170 lbs

Bazardo is another kid who gets high marks for his fastball, which regularly sits in the mid 90's. He recorded a 3.27 ERA this season for Jupiter of the Florida State League, and that was the HIGHEST one he's put up as a pro. He also has only given up 80 walks in 390 professional innings. He also doesn't give up home runs (11 given up in those 390 career IP.) Unfortunately, despite the fastball, he doesn't strike out as many hitters as you'd expect. He only struck out 95 hitters this season in 154 1/3 innings while giving up 161 hits. He has the statistical profile of a command and control finesse guy, but the scouting profile of a guy who would strike out twice as many batters. AA will be a nice litmus test for him. I'm at a bit of a loss in predicting what he'll do since he's such a contradiction.

ETA: Late 2006
3 Stars

Nelson Cruz Report

Nelson Cruz, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 1998, Dominican Republic
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'3", 170 lbs

Cruz was the biggest chip going to the Brewers in the Kieth Ginter trade last week. He had a big breakthrough this season, putting up great numbers for both Modesto and Midland. In the California League, he posted a .345/.407/.582 line with 27 doubles, 11 home runs, 24 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 261 at bats. And in 262 Texas League at bats, he hit .313/.377/.542 with 14 doubles, 14 home runs, 26 walks, and 69 strikeouts. Is it for real or did he just have an early career year? I think he stands a good chance of keeping at least some of those gains, but he has to keep most of them to be a really god regular. He had a great season in the Dominican Summer League in 2000, but he was 20 years old and he subsequently had 3 mediocre seasons in the low minors before this year. 2005 will tell us a lot about whether he'll ever be a major leaguer.

ETA: Mid-2005
3 Stars

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Byron Gettis Report

Byron Gettis, OF, Detroit Tigers
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 1998, HS, Cahokia, IL
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'0", 235 lbs

Gettis was claimed on waivers by the Tigers from the Royals after a season split between Wichita, Omaha, and KC. He struggled badly against AL pitching, and demonstrated very little power anywhere. In 58 Texas League at bats, he hit .362/.448/.569 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 8 walks, and 12 K's. In the PCL, .257/.366/.363, 7 doubles, 4 home runs, 33 walks, 61 K's, in 179 at bats. It's starting to look like his .302/.377/.473 stint in Wichita in 2003 may be an outlier. Even if it is, Gettis could be a good bench player, playing both corner outfield spots and occasionally getting some time in center. He has strong plate discipline and a bit of speed. If he can find some power, he could be a regular for Detroit at some point. We'll see if that's a reasonable hope though.

ETA: Mid-2005
2 1/2 Stars

Tony Blanco Report

Tony Blanco, 1B/3B, Washington Nationals
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 1998, Domincan Republic
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 176 lbs

I kid you not, his middle name is Hemisphere. Yes, Hemisphere. No. I don't know why.

At any rate, Blanco first made waves as a prospect as an 18 year old in 2000 with the Red Sox Gulf Coast League affiliate, blasting 13 home runs in 190 at bats. Since then he's completely fallen off the radar, and come back into the good graces of the prospect community. He started 2004 in the Carolina League, hitting .306/.403/.588 with 17 home runs and 27 walks in 216 at bats. He moved on to the Southern League, where he hit .245/.300/.455 with 12 home runs and 15 walks in 220 at bats. He obviously still has thunder in his bat, but he has difficulties hitting for average, which pulls down his overall numbers. He's morphed into a kind of Tony Batista-lite.

He's another Rule 5 pick that might hang on for a while, but I have my doubts as to his ability to stay in the majors. He needs to make more consistant contact.

ETA: Opening Day
2 1/2 Stars

Monday, December 20, 2004

Tyler Johnson Report

Tyler Johnson, LHP, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 1013th Overall (34th Rd), 2000 Draft, Moorpark College
Bats B/Throws L
23 YO, 6'2", 180 lbs

I'm not as wild about Johnson as some other people are. He looks like a potentially very good lefty reliever, but he has issues with allowing the free pass. He walked 37 batters in 56 1/3 innings this season, and has consistantly posted high walk rates throughout his pro career. The good part is that he's always had little problem striking out hitters, evidenced by the 77 K's he put up for Tennessee.

As a Rule 5 pick, he's worth the price of admission, but I doubt the A's are going to stay for the end of the show. If somebody can iron out his control, he could be a beast. I'm not sure whether that's a reasonable expectation though.

ETA: Opening Day
2 Stars

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Shane Victorino Report

Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Drafted 194th Overall (6th Rd), 1999 Draft, HS, Wailuku, HI
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 5'9", 160 lbs

This is Victorino's second try as a Rule 5 pick as last year he was selected by the Padres to be their 4th outfielder. He didn't do well and was returned to the Dodgers, where he split the remainder of his season between Jacksonville and Las Vegas. He hit very well in Jacksonville, posting a .328/.375/.584 line in 293 at bats, but struggled in the PCL, going .235/.278/.335 in 200 AB.

I don't see him sticking this season either. His plate discipline is poor, as he drew 31 walks in 493 at bats this season while striking out 101 times. I think he ends up as a AAA outfielder roaming the second tier cities of baseball. He'll learn to hit AAA pitchers, but he doesn't look like he has the skills to make it in the majors.

ETA: Opening Day
1 1/2 Stars

Luke Hagerty Report

Luke Hagerty, LHP, Florida Marlins
Drafted 23nd Overall, 2002 Draft, Ball State
Bats R/Throws L
23 YO, 6'7", 230 lbs

Hagerty was drafted by the Orioles in the Rule 5 and traded to the Marlins for a player to be named later. He was drafted in the supplemental first round by the Cubs and blew away the Northwest League in 2002 with a 1.12 ERA, 50 K's and 15 walks in 48 innings. He had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2003, but returned late in 2004, splitting 22 2/3 innings between the Arizona Rookie League and the Northwest League. As he recovers, he stands a good chance of being a pretty nice young pitcher. He was seen as an advanced prospect when he was drafted. He performed very well in his debut. And Tommy John has a very good track record. He's one of the safest picks in this year's Rule 5. I think he'll stick on the Marlins roster, and if he doesn't, then another team might inquire as to his availability. Also of note, even if he doesn't work out in 2005, he's the kind of pitcher who usually get half a dozen chances before they finally gives up on him. He's a really big lefty with a fastball and a slider. Scouts go crazy for that kind of thing.

ETA: Opening Day
3 Stars

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