Thursday, January 13, 2005

Leo Nunez Report

I'm off to Georgia for a wedding this weekend. I'll be back on monday.

Leo Nunez, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2000, Dominican Republic
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'1", 150 lbs

Nunez is the live arm that the Royals got in return for Benito Santiago. A live arm is pretty much the best description of him at this point. Nunez cooks with mid 90's gas, and has several other pitches that he's working on to compliment that heat.

While Nunez is only 21 years old, he has 433 career minor league innings under his belt. He's performed fairly well, with a 3.37 career ERA, almost a strikeout per inning, a low (2.41 per 9IP) walk rate, and a reasonable hit rate. He did nothing to sabotage that in 2004, with a 3.06 ERA, 140 K's, 46 walks, 121 hits, and 16 home runs allowed in 144 innings for Hickory of the Sally League.

Nunez has a high ceiling with his good fastball and good control. But he needs to develop his slider, curve, and change to reach that potential. The Pirates have moved him slowly, which is a good decision. He'll start the 2005 season with High Desert, the Royals new California League affiliate.

ETA: 2007
3 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Jorge Vasquez Report

Jorge Vasquez, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 1998, Domincan Republic
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 165 lbs

I'm going to cover some prospects who have been involved in recent trades. Vasquez was the minor league pitcher that the Royals sent to the Braves in exchange for Eli Marrero. Vasquez has been a fringe prospect for a long time. He's become a reliever and has had quite a bit of success getting minor league hitters out.

Vasquez sported a mediocre 4.68 ERA with Wichita this season, but I think he got really unlucky. His peripherals were all quite good, with 71 K's and 27 walks in 59 2/3 innings. He allowed 7.8 hits per nine innings. And he had very good stats both in Wilmington and Wichita in 2003 with essentially the same stats. The stats indicate that he is capable of being a reliable contributor to a major league bullpen.

The scouting report on him tells you that he has a decent fastball, usually in the low 90's. He also has a good slider. Best case senario, he's your typical 4th man in the bullpen, effective, but generally anonymous outside of hardcore fans of the city he's playing for. Worst case senario, he does poorly in spring training and in Richmond this season and you rarely hear from him again as he fades into the background of AAA relievers.

ETA: Early 2005
2 1/2 Stars

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Nate Spears Report

Nate Spears, 2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles
Drafted 134th Overall (5th Rd), 2003 Draft, HS, Port Charlotte, FL
Bats L/Throws R
19 YO, 5'11", 155 lbs

Here's one to root for. Spears is a young kid with not a lot of power, but he knows how to play baseball. He spent his first full pro season in the Sally League and hit .275/.358/.407 with 12 doubles, 11 triples, 5 home runs, 47 walks, and 63 K's in 371 at bats. Obviously, he has no issues with plate discipline, which is great to see in a 19 year old. Spears has a line drive swing that puts balls in the gaps. He's been compared to David Eckstein, which is a decent comparison. I think he has more upside than Eckstein, but he's the same general kind of player.

Right now Spears is playing second base, but scouts say he still can play short if needed. He's probably more suited to play second long term, but the Orioles would be well suited to give him regular playing time at short to maintain that versatility, the value of which I think is underrated. Being able to carry around a backup infielder who may not have the ability to play short, but who can hit is something that could come in handy. Second basemen with flexibility help teams really use the Earl Weaver roster construction principle of keeping you backup shortstop in Rochester.

Spears has some speed, as he has 25 career steals in 153 games, but he needs to be more selective in using that speed as he has a 70% success rate, which won't kill his team, but won't help it much either.

ETA: 2007
3 Stars

Monday, January 10, 2005

Anderson Hernandez Report

Anderson Hernandez, SS, New York Mets
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2001, Dominican Republic
Bats B/Throws R
22 YO, 5'9", 150 lbs

Hernandez was the player traded from the Tigers to the Mets for Vance Wilson. He's great with the glove, but the bat isn't coming along as quickly. He split 2004 between the Florida State and Eastern Leagues, batting .309/.342/.396 in 139 at bats for Lakeland and .274/.326/.376 in 394 at bats for Erie. His 34/120 BB/K ratio isn't exactly a good sign. He hasn't shown much of any growth in that respect either. His one offensive weapon is his speed. He now has 90 career stolen bases. This season, he nabbed 25 bases with an 81% success rate.

If Hernandez could double his walk rate, he could be an asset to a team that likes to scamper around the bases because of his speed and his glove. As it is though, he projects to bounce around the high minors as kind of a Jorge Velandia for the next generation.

ETA: 2006
1 1/2 Stars

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Drew Meyer Report

Drew Meyer, SS, Texas Rangers
Drafted 10th Overall, 2002 Draft, South Carolina
Bats L/Throws R
23 YO, 5'10", 180 lbs

It is rarely a good idea to take a project with your first round pick. With his first ever pick with the Rangers, Grady Fuson took Drew Meyer, even though he knew that Meyer's swing would have to be retooled for the professional ranks. He was roundly criticized for passing up pitchers to take a shortstop when he had Alex Rodriguez on the major league roster. A more appropriate criticism would have been taking Meyer when the more polished Khalil Greene was available.

After a surge in 2003, Meyer fell flat in 2004, struggling to the tune of .241/.309/.310 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 22 walks, and 43 K's in 232 at bats. He's struggling to make good contact.

Where Meyer excels is on defense. It will be the key to his finding a career. He's an above average defensive shortstop with a strong, accurate arm, good footwork, and good range. He played center field for a while and earned good marks there. This has helped the Rangers to view him as a future utility player, which he seems well suited for. Theoretically, he has the skills to play every position on the diamond. He's also shown speed on the basepaths in the past, though he didn't demonstrate that this season.

ETA: 2006
2 Stars

Dave Aardsma Report

Dave Aardsma, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Drafted 22nd Overall, 2003 Draft, Rice
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'5", 200 lbs

Aardsma is still where we has a year ago, hoping to break into the Giants bullpen. He has a power reliever's arsenal with a wicked mid-to-high 90's fastball and a nice changeup. His knuckle curve is a work in progress.

Aardsma is a talented young reliever, but he has control issues, which is the #1 thing that scares me with any pitcher. He has a somewhat unconventional delivery too, so mechanical adjustments could be difficult. In Fresno this season, he had a healthy ERA (3.09), strikeout rate (8.6 per 9 innings), and hit rate (7.5 per 9). However, he walked more than a batter every other inning, which would be problematic at the major league level. This is supported by the stat line he put up with the Giants, albeit in a very small sample. 6.75 ERA, 5 K, 10 BB, 20 H, 10 2/3 IP isn't going to get it done. If he can harness his stuff, he's a real threat to be a stopper.

ETA: Mid-2005
3 1/2 Stars

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