Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dan Meyer Report

Dan Meyer, LHP, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 34th Overall, 2002 Draft, James Madison
Bats R/Throws L
23 YO, 6'3", 190 lbs

Meyer is the big payoff that the A's recieved for Tim Hudson, though Juan Cruz is no slouch. Meyer looks like he's ready to jump into somebody's rotation. He sports a low 90's fastball and a really nice slider.

Meyer split the season between the Southern League and the International League. At Greenville, he dominated with a 2.22 ERA, 86 K's, 12 walks, 50 hits, and only 1 home run allowed in 65 innings. Upon moving up to Richmond, he maintained a strong 2.79 ERA, but his ratios deteriorated a bit with his strikeouts sliding down to 60, his walks rising to 25, and hits and home runs allowed going up to 62 and 6 in 61 1/3 innings.

He is pencilled in as a member of the A's 2005 rotation, though he'll have to audition for that spot in spring training. He should spend most of the season in the rotation even if he doesn't win a spot out of the box. He may struggle a bit though if for no other reason than because most rookie starters have a steep learning curve in the big leagues, no matter how good they were in the minors.

ETA: Opening Day
4 Stars

Matt Cain Report

Matt Cain, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Drafted 25th Overall, 2002 Draft, Germantown, TN
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'3", 180 lbs

So do you think that Brian Sabean is glad he waited until 2003 to start intentionally punting first round picks to save money? Cain is as good a prospect as Merkin Valdez, with a mid 90's fastball and a sick curve. He started 2005 in San Jose, where he was Pedro-esque, sporting a 1.86 ERA, 89 K's, 17 walks, 58 hits, and 5 home runs allowed in 72 2/3 innings. Then he moved up to AA, and pitched very well as a 19 year old in the Eastern League with a 3.35 ERA. His walk rate doubled, as he allowed 40 free passes. But he struck out 72, allowed 73 hits, and 7 home runs in 86 innings.

All of the indicators look good. I'd like to see him add a true changeup that he can throw off of his fastball, and while the extra walks didn't hurt him that much in Norwich, I'd like to see him tighten that up, whether it was caused by more advanced hitters just being more selective or by him overthrowing.

ETA: Early 2006
4 1/2 Stars

Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday Afternoon Reading

Here's some reading material for your weekend.

Beer and tacos meet!

For those of you who aren't Baseball Prospectus readers, "beer and tacos" is an analogy that Joe Sheehan uses to say that scouts and stats aren't mutually exclusive. Any team that intentionally punts one side of the ledger in favor of the other is doing themselves a disservice. The two disciplines compliment each other. I've said for two years now that stats tell you how a player performs and scouts tell you why a player performs that way. You have to have both.

Larry Mahnken goes off on his Yankees

It's just hilarious.

And Aaron Gleeman goes off on the HOF

In case you were curious, my imaginary HOF ballot had Wade Boggs, Ryan Sandberg, Goose Gossage, and Bert Blyleven on it.

Steven Shell Report

Steven Shell, RHP, Anaheim Angels
Drafted 81st Overall (3rd Rd), 2001 Draft, HS, El Reno, OK
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'5", 195 lbs

Shell is a pitcher who developed a lot in his second season in the California League. He has a good fastball, a nice curve, and good command of both. He performed very well for Rancho Cucamonga, posting a 3.59 ERA with 190 K's to only 40 walks in 165 1/3 innings. He only allowed 151 hits, and while he allowed 19 home runs, that tends to come with the territory in the Cal League.

AA will be a real test, as more advanced hitters might be better able to handle his low 90's fastball.

ETA: Early 2007
3 1/2 Stars

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Jon Barratt Report

Jon Barratt, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Drafted 128th Overall (5th Rd), 2004 Draft, HS, Hillcrest, MO
Bats R/Throws L
19 YO, 5'10", 155 lbs

Barratt is a little guy with a big fastball. Usually that means a switch to the pen is only a matter of time, but there's no need to rush these things. Barratt has an assortment of above average pitches. The scouts like him even if he is short. The stats look great, albeit in a small sample. His first pro season was in the New York-Penn League. He threw 42 2/3 innings, and posted a 2.74 ERA with 50 K's, 11 walks, 38 hits, and 2 home runs allowed. There's no real weakness in those stats for me to criticize. All of his ratios were healthy. Control was solid. Strikeout rate was very nice. He didn't allow even a hit per inning. And he didn't make mistakes that allowed the other guy to hit the ball over the fence.

His biggest weakness is the fact that he's a 19 year old pitcher who is 5 levels away from the major leagues. He should start 2005 in Low A, and if he keeps this up, he'll be well known among Tampa fans soon.

ETA: 2008
2 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Michael Aubrey Report

Michael Aubrey, 1B, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 11th Overall, 2003 Draft, Tulane
Bats L/Throws L
22 YO, 6'1", 195 lbs

Michael Aubrey is one of my favorite prospects. He's a polished, well rounded young player with great offensive indicators. He's the kind of player that makes both scouts and performance analysts foam at the mouth.

He started the season in the Sally League and dominated. He hit .339/.438/.551 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs, and more walks (27) than strikeouts (26) in 218 at bats. He had more difficulty in the Eastern League, but held his own, hitting .261/.340/.425 with 7 doubles, 5 home runs, 15 walks, and 18 K's in 134 at bats.

Obviously he's very good at controlling the strike zone and making contact. His power has been an open question as some see him as more of a Sean Casey than Todd Helton. That may be true. However, he's still a dynamite prospect based solely on his ability to get on base and smack doubles. There are several of this species of first baseman floating around prospect circles these days with Aubrey, Casey Kotchman, and Adrian Gonzalez being notable examples. Sometimes their doubles end up developing into home runs and they become Mike Sweeney, or maybe even Raffy Palmiero-lite. Sometimes they don't develop that way, but they win a few batting titles, becoming John Olerud. Some fail to develop that much and end up being the aforementioned Sean Casey. If I had to guess which is which from among the current trio, I'd peg Aubrey as the Sweeney, Kotchman as the Olerud clone, and Gonzalez as the Casey of the future.

Defensively, Aubrey is gifted first baseman, with great hands and good footwork. He's athletic enough to switch to an outfield corner should he be unfortunate enough to run into a Travis Hafner shaped roadblock. He has an arm that would be above average for a right fielder, witnessed by the low 90's fastball he flashed as a pitcher early in his college career.

ETA: Early 2006
4 Stars

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Notes for January 4th

The biggest piece of news in the baseball world is the big Randy Johnson/Sean Green de facto three way deal. I haven't talked about it much because I'm still not sure whether it is really going to happen or not. The Yanks still have to work out a contract extension with the Unit and the Snakes have to work out an extension with Green. Evidently, the two individual deals are separated by fallback plans.

Here's how it shakes out.

The Snakes send Johnson to the Yankees for Javier Vazquez, Dioner Navarro, Brad Halsey, and an alarming 9 million dollars in cash. The Snakes turn around and send Navarro to the Dodgers with pitching prospect William Juarez, who has some interesting peripherals, for Sean Green. Now if the Johnson deal falls through, the Dodgers get Juarez and Chris Snyder instead of Navarro.

I think the Diamondbacks are seriously adrift. They aren't getting enough in return for Johnson, just as they didn't get enough for Curt Schilling. They're spending money like a bad, compulsive gambler on a 3 day bender in Vegas with an unlimited bank account. They're giving huge amounts of cash to Troy Glaus and Russ Ortiz. Now they're making a long term commitment to Sean Green. They're likely to send Vazquez's ugly contract to some other zip code, but they'll probably have to eat part of that deal to get any return. I like their minor league system, which is quickly building around high ceiling bats like Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Jon Zeringue, and Stephen Drew (provided they sign him). They also have the #1 pick in the draft this season. Their major league philosophy is a bit of a mess right now though.

The Yankees are at least spending their money on a good player this time. I've been saying for a couple of years that they need to be very careful or else they're going to end up stuck with a $250 million payroll and a second place team, and too many long term contracts to give them the flexibility needed to improve on their mediocrity. The key to spending money wisely is to spend it on exceptional players, like Vlad Guerrero, ARod, and yes Randy Johnson. You don't give big, long term deals to guys who are a little better than average like Carl Pavano, or just plain bad, like Tony Womack.

The Dodgers win in this one. They drop an underperforming player with a big salary. I'm not a big fan of Navarro, and I haven't really investigated Juarez enough to make a final determination on him, but just getting out from under Green's contract is a plus.

In other news, the Angels changed their official name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What the hell is that about? We're talking about the LA area, so my suspicions are that the same person who is responsible for the atrocious decision to make a sequel to Miss Congeniality is responsible for this mind-melting call.

Elsewhere, the Indians sold Erick Almonte to the Nippon Ham Fighters. Chances are he isn't going to be very good there either. But I hear that Japan is a beautiful country and a nice place to play baseball.

Victor Diaz Report

Victor Diaz, OF, New York Mets
Drafted 1107th Overall (37th Rd), 2000 Draft, HS, Chicago, IL
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'0", 200 lbs

Diaz is now a full time outfielder. He hits like one and he played second base like one.

Diaz hit .292/.332/.491 in 528 at bats for Norfolk this season and now has a career minor league .310/.358/.486 line in 1715 at bats. We know he makes great contact. Unfortunately, he doesn't combine that with any measure of plate discipline, which makes it unlikely that he'll be a valuable major league starting outfielder. He's only drawn 116 walks in those 1715 at bats, which will make it hard for him to maintain an acceptable on-base percentage in the big leagues.

Even with the bad glove at second and third base, I still think that his history as an infielder could provide a niche for him as a major leaguer. He doesn't have the bat that you'd want from a starting outfielder or the glove that you want from a starting 2B/3B. So the ideal role for him in my eyes is as a utility player bouncing around serving as a pinch hitter, 4th (or platoon) outfielder, and backup infielder.

ETA: 2005
3 Stars

Monday, January 03, 2005

Dwayne Pollok Report

Dwayne Pollok, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Drafted 802nd Overall (27th Rd), 2003 Draft, Texas A&M
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'3", 195 lbs

Pollok is recieving attention because of the 38 games he saved for Winston-Salem. He posted a 3.28 ERA with 49K's, 8 walks, 59 hits, and 4 home runs allowed in 60 1/3 innings this season. He's a sinkerballer who throws strikes and lets the hitter beat the ball into the ground. As a 24 year old, he should be moving to AA in 2005 and it will be a make-or-break season.

ETA: 2007
2 Stars

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Chris Young Report

Chris Young, RHP, Texas Rangers
Drafted 89th Overall (3rd Rd), 2000 Draft, Princeton
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'10", 260 lbs

Damn! There are some HUGE pitchers out there these days. Young is Andy Sisco sized. Young uses a low 90's fastball and a couple of usable secondary pitches to get hitters out. All things being equal, taller pitchers usually do have an advantage over their smaller counterparts as every inch closer to the plate your release point, the faster is appears to the hitter.

Young split his season between Frisco, Oklahoma, and the Rangers. In 88 1/3 innings, he put up a 4.48 ERA with 75 K's, 31 walks, 94 hits, and 9 home runs allowed. In 30 innings in the PCL, he had a 1.48 ERA wth 34 K's, 9 walks, 20 hits, and 2 home runs allowed. For Texas, his peripherals fell a bit, but he still managed to be a league average starter with a 4.71 ERA, 27 K's, 10 walks, 36 hits, and 7 home runs allowed in 36 1/3 innings. If he gets comfortable in the majors, he will probably do a bit better than that, but he's not going to be a big star.

ETA: Opening Day
3 1/2 Stars

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