Saturday, January 01, 2005

Ian Kinsler Report

Ian Kinsler, SS, Texas Rangers
Drafted 496th Overall (17th Rd), 2003 Draft, Missouri
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'0", 175 lbs

Well that was a nice surprise. It isn't often that somebody comes so completely out of nowhere to be one of the best hitting prospects in baseball. He doesn't have quite the upside that a Joel Guzman has, but that's a lot to ask anyways.

Kinsler hit .402/.465/.692 in 224 at bats in the Midwest League and .299/.401/.465 in 271 at bats in the Texas League. He hit a combined 51 doubles and 19 home runs, and drew 57 walks with 83 strikeouts in his 495 at bats. He'll probably start 2005 in the PCL and projects to be a long term replacement for Alfonso Soriano. I think he could pack on even more power, turning some of those doubles into home runs.

ETA: Late 2005
4 1/2 Stars

Friday, December 31, 2004

John Hudgins Report

John Hudgins, RHP, Texas Rangers
Drafted 76th Overall (3rd Rd), 2003 Draft, Stanford
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'2", 195 lbs

Aside from a brief late season promotion to Oklahoma, Hudgins mowed down hitters far and wide on his way onto the prospect lists. The Stanford product rolled to a 2.35 ERA with 73 strikeouts, 18 walks, 49 hits, and 4 home runs allowed in 65 innings at Stockton of the California League. Upon moving up to Frisco, he posted a 3.13 ERA with 64 strikeouts, 18 walks, 57 hits, and 12 home runs allowed in 69 innings.

His fastball is unimpressive, sitting in the high 80's most of the time, but he pounds the strike zone and has very good breaking stuff. He has an uncanny ability to change speeds and keep hitters off balance. There seems to be more of this kind of pitching prospect than there used to be. Then again, they may just be getting more attention with some teams openly looking for undervalued sources of talent.

ETA: Late 2005
4 Stars

Travis Blackley Report

Travis Blackley, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2000, Australia
Bats L/Throws L
22 YO, 6'3", 190 lbs

I'm not entirely sure what I think of Blackley, which isn't what you want to hear from a supposed prospect authority, but it is the truth. He puts up numbers just good enough to keep me interested, but not good enough for me to get excited about. He walks too many batters. And he got dominated in the majors. And his 2004 numbers were likey helped a lot by Tacoma's cavernous ballpark.

His strikeout rate took a steep dive this season. In 2003, he struck out 144 Texas League batters in 162 innings. This season in the PCL, he only fanned 80 in 110 innings. It is even more alarming when you consider that in 2002, he struck out 152 in 121 innings in the California League. That's trending in the wrong direction.

He doesn't have blazing stuff, but he does get into the low 90's and has a wide assortment of pitches, including a decent change. If his command is on, he can keep hitters off balance. If his command isn't on, well you saw what happened when he was in Seattle. His upside is Mark Buehrle. His downside is Glendon Rusch.

ETA: Late 2005
3 1/2 Stars

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Royce Ring Report

Royce Ring, LHP, New York Mets
Drafted 18th Overall, 2002 Draft, San Diego State
Bats L/Throws L
24 YO, 6'5", 220 lbs

Ring is a quality relief pitching prospect. I'm surprised he wasn't picked up in the Rule 5 draft. He's battled weight problems and his velocity is down, but he's still putting up reasonable numbers in the high minors. Out of a former first round draft pick, that's usually enough to get a flier. This season, he posted a 3.77 ERA with 23 K's and 11 walks in 28 2/3 innings for Binghamton and a 3.63 ERA, 22 K's, and 12 walks in 34 2/3 innings for Norfolk. He doesn't look like the closer prospect he was envisioned to be when he was at San Diego State, but he looks like a decent option as a second lefty in the pen.

ETA: Mid/Late 2005
2 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Wednesday Notes

I hope everybody had a great X-mas/Hanukkah/winter solstice/whatever. Being at work this week is kind of nice since almost everybody in management is on vacation. I can slouch, wear sandals, and not have to worry about a suit walking through the door with a disapproving look on his/her face. The 9 inches of snow we got last week is starting to melt. All is right with the world. Oh, except for the fact that my wife is at home with a fever and stomach bug.

Things aren't going nearly as well for Cincinnati Reds fans. Their favorite team just gave a mediocre pitcher a star's salary. 3 years, $25.5 million is one of the worst decisions I can remember. That comes out to $8.6M per season. Milton's best season was during the Clinton administration, and it was good, but not THAT good. Last season, he had an ERA that was higher than the average National League pitcher. And they're going to pay him more than twice what the average Major League player makes. This contract is an instant albatross. Between this and the Russ Ortiz deal, I'm convinced that the owners have gone completely insane. Remember these idiotic contracts the next time they ask for the players to agree to a salary cap. Any team that is idiotic enough to hand out a contract like this doesn't deserve to turn a profit and wouldn't put a winning team on the field, even with a salary cap. Hell, I'm not sure some of these teams would even be able to figure out a structure as complex as an NFL style cap.

Billy Beane just keeps looking better as these ridiculous contracts are sure to put the market value of pitchers like Hudson and Mulder up well into the 8 figure range. Fielding a primarily pre-arbitration rotation (say that 10 times as fast as you can) makes a lot of financial sense. You can quibble with the return he got in those trades, but I've always liked Daric Barton, Juan Cruz, and Dan Haren. And Dan Meyer looks like a very good prospect, one which I plan on reviewing soon.

As always, any suggestions for prospect reviews are welcome. Post them in the comments section.

One last note. My previous pieces analyzing what 2005 draft picks have changed hands due to free agent compensation were in error. According to Baseball America's Jim Callis, picks in the sandwich rounds are given out in relation to the raw draft order rather than the Elias rankings. He's updating the compensation list pretty regularly, so I will defer to him on this matter.

Manny Delcarmen Report

Manny Delcarmen, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Drafted 62nd Overall (2nd Rd), 2000 Draft, HS, Hyde Park, MA
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'2", 190 lbs

Delcarmen lost almost all of 2003 to Tommy John surgery, but it looks like he's coming back strong. He spent the whole season in Sarasota, where he posted a 4.68 ERA with 76 K's, 20 walks, 10 home runs, and 84 hits allowed in 73 innings of work. He has a mid 90's fastball and a good looking curve. He strikes a lot of batters out, but he also allowed a lot of hits this year. He doesn't hurt himself by giving up a lot of walks. I like his numbers and his stuff. He needs some polish, but that's fairly typical.

ETA: 2007
3 1/2 Stars

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Dustin Pedroia Report

Dustin Pedroia, SS, Boston Red Sox
Drafted 65th Overall (2nd Rd), 2004 Draft, Arizona State
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 5'8", 180 lbs

I was baffled when Pedroia wasn't drafted in the first round. I understand that his tools aren't going to draw a lot of attention, and that most agree that he's a future second baseman instead of a shortstop. But this is a capable middle infielder who drew more walks as a junior (48) than he stuck out in his entire college career (47). In case you were wondering, that final K/BB ratio was 47/108. That's always a good sign. As a pro, he started in the South Atlantic League and moved up to the Florida State League. Combined, he hit .357/.435/.535 with 13 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, 19 walks, and 7 strikeouts in 157 at bats. He's clearly a very advanced hitter who controls the strikezone like his life depended on it. And he clearly has no problem making contact most of the time. He is on the fast track.

Chances are that he'll move to second base pretty soon. That isn't much of a concern to the Red Sox though since they recently signed Edgar Renteria to a long term deal and they have Hanley Ramirez rocketing through the minors. He should be an excellent second baseman. And he's a perfect middle infielder for the sabermetric set.

ETA: Early 2006
4 Stars

Monday, December 27, 2004

Brandon Moss Report

I'll spend the next couple of weeks catching up with some of the organizations I have...well, ignored is probably the wrong word. I've given a lot of reports on prospects from the Royals and A's and very little time talking about systems like the Rangers, BoSox, Mets, Mariners, and White Sox. It's time to rectify that.

Brandon Moss, RF, Boston Red Sox
Drafted 238th Overall (8th Rd), 2002 Draft, HS, Lovanville, GA
Bats L/Throws R
21 YO, 6'0", 180 lbs

Talk about a big step forward. In 2003, Moss hit .237/.290/.430 in the New York-Penn League. In 2004, he terrorized pitchers in the South Atlantic and Florida State Leagues. He spent most of the season in Augusta, hitting .339/.402/.515 with 25 doubles, 6 triples, 13 home runs, 46 walks, and 75 K's in 433 at bats. Then, upon being promoted to Sarasota, he hit .422/.462/.542 in 83 at bats.

Most of the improvement is probably genuine development. It took Moss 2 years to adapt to professional pitching. Now that he's managed, he looks like a pretty nice prospect. He's also good defensively, and while he hasn't stolen many bases, he's not slow.

ETA: 2007
3 1/2 Stars

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Francisco Leandro Report

Francisco Leandro, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Drafted 705th Overall (24th Rd), 2004 Draft, Central Missouri State University
BatsL/Throws L
24 YO, 5'9", 180 lbs

He's a division 2 underdog selected late in this year's draft. He put up a really nice .301/.397/.426 line with 18 doubles in 249 at bats with more walks (19) than strikeouts (11). He's a really small guy, and it doesn't look like he's a good bet to develop the kind of power you usually expect out of a major league outfielder. But if he can keep drawing walks and smacking doubles into the gap, he can make an adequate leadoff hitter. He's a bit older than you expect a fresh draftee to be, but he made it up to the Sally League in his first pro season and it's a better than even bet that he'll start next season in the California League.

ETA: 2007
2 Stars

Tyler Clippard Report

Tyler Clippard, RHP, New York Yankees
Drafted 274th Overall (9th Rd), 2003 Draft, HS, Trinity, FL
Bats R/Throws R
19 YO, 6'3", 170 lbs

Welcome to the machine, Tyler. Clippard uses a 90 MPH fastball and a great curve. As a 19 year old, he posted a 3.44 ERA with 145 K's, 32 walks, and 153 hits in 149 Midwest League innings. Since he's a Yankees prospect, he'll probably move slowly, going up one level a year until he's inevitably traded for Tony Womack's replacement.

ETA: 2008
3 Stars

Adam Johnson Report

Adam Johnson, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Drafted 2nd Overall, 2000 Draft, Cal State Fullerton
Bats R/Throws R
26 YO, 6'2", 210 lbs

The writing is on the wall. Johnson hasn't had a really good year since 2001, and things don't seem to be improving. He still strikes out a lot of hitters, but he gives up too many baserunners, too many home runs, and way too many runs. They've tried moving him to the rotation. They've tried moving him back to the pen. It just isn't working. He needs a change of scenery in the worst way.

Here are the gory details of 2004. Johnson spent all of 2004 in Rochester, where he recorded a 6.01 ERA, 86 K's, 29 walks, 99 hits, and 10 home runs allowed in 82 1/3 innings.

ETA: Doubtful that he will "arrive"
1 1/2 Stars

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