Saturday, January 29, 2005

Stephen Bray Report

Stephen Bray, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Drafted 402nd Overall (14th Rd), 2003, University of New Haven
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'2", 190 lbs

This isn't the first person you think of when the subject of relief pitchers with the last name Bray comes up. Then again, that subject probably doesn't come up much unless you're so obsessed with prospects that you spend hours combing through minor league stat sheets, draft previews, and back issues of Baseball America. Don't look at me like that.

Bray was a college starter at a small division 2 school. Now he's a minor league reliever. He has 4 pitches, notably a high 80's fastball. His college K/BB ratio is what caught my eye originally. He struck out 34 while walking 8 as a junior at New Haven. He's continued that trend as a pro, striking out over a batter per inning while while walking only 1.7 per nine innings. He split this season between the Midwest League and the Carolina League with the following lines.

Burlington: 3.29 ERA, 73 K, 13 BB, 58 H, 63 IP

Wilmington: 3.86 ERA, 15 K, 2 BB, 14 H, 14 IP

He did give up 9 home runs in his 77 innings, which is sub-optimal, but not alarming.

Bray is a prospect, and while his numbers have been great, there are a couple of disclaimers. The obvious one is that he was 23 years old last season, a little older than average for the Carolina League, very old for the Midwest League. The other is that command and control righties in the bullpen have treacherous roads to the majors. Bray doesn't have the kind of stuff that people usually look for in a reliever. He doesn't have a breaking pitch that buckles knees or a fastball that makes the catcher get a glove with more padding. He'll likely make the jump to AA at some point in 2005. How he does there will tell us a lot about whether he's an organizational soldier in the making, or a unique prospect that will find his niche as a command and control reliever.

ETA: late 2006/early 2007
2 Stars

Friday, January 28, 2005

Delwyn Young Report

Delwyn Young, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Drafted 121st Overall (4th Rd), 2002 Draft, Santa Barbara City College
Bats B/Throws R
22 YO, 5'10", 180 lbs

Not to be confused with Delmon Young. Delwyn is one of the better middle infield prospects in baseball. His bat is his best feature, as he's a career .301/.374/.522 hitter in 1153 at bats. That total includes the .281/.364/.511 line he put up with Vero Beach in 2004. He has power, some speed, and improving plate discipline. This season, he hit 36 doubles and 22 home runs with 57 walks. Although he does draw a healthy number of walks, he is still a free swinger, who will chase some pitches out of the zone. He strikes out a lot because of this, with 134 whiffs in '04, and 281 in his career. He needs to work on this, as more advanced pitchers are likely to exploit this weakness.

His speed is another mixed bag. While his speed impresses scouts, he doesn't have much to show for it yet. He's only stolen 20 bases, and has been caught 8 times. This season he stole 11 bases in 15 attempts.

His defense is also an open question as some think that he's better suited to be a center fielder. That move may end up happening, but it would be a waste to rush that kind of move. Young would be much more valuable as a Jeff Kent style offensive second baseman than as a middle of the road center fielder.

ETA: 2007
4 Stars

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Cole Hamels Report

Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Drafted 17th Overall, 2002 Draft, HS, San Diego,CA
Bats L/Throws L
21 YO, 6'3", 170 lbs

It was a lost year for Hamels, who came into the season looking like one of the best prospects in baseball. He pulled a triceps muscle in his arm and only pitched in 4 games all year. That's the bad news. The good news is that it wasn't an injury that required surgery. And it shouldn't have any long term effects, other than a year of development lost.

His career numbers stand as follows. 1.31 ERA, 171 K's, 43 walks, and 71 hits in 117 innings. Those kinds of numbers speak for themselves for the most part. He did benefit from pitcher friendly leagues, but he's always been young for the league he's been in and park effects don't do much to counteract THAT kind of dominance.

When he's healthy, Hamels works with a low 90's fastball and a changeup that almost warrants UN sanctions. One of the things that he was going to work on this season was his curveball, which could solidify his status as a premier prospect if he can develop it into an out pitch. He has an approach that is years ahead of the calendar, and just looking at his walk rate is enough to know that control issues aren't likely.

Hamels broke his humorus in high school in a freak street football accident, but I'm not too worried about that. It's been several years since it happened, and he's had no problems with it. He had the triceps problem this season, but that isn't likely to be a long term problem. His mechanics are such that I worry about shoulder and elbow problems less than most pitching prospects. He's still a prospect that I'm very bullish on, almost irrationally so.

ETA: 2007ish
4 Stars

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pat Osborn Report

Pat Osborn, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 72nd Overall (2nd Rd), 2002 Draft, Florida
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'3", 210 lbs

Osborn is an offense-first third baseman. The offense is pretty nice though. He hit .344/.421/.534 with 16 doubles, 6 triples, 10 home runs, 37 walks, and 52 K's in 305 at bats for Kingston. He was a bit older than most of his competition, and it was by far his best season. The indicators look good though. He's always had a healthy walk rate, and reasonable strikeout rates. The offensive breakout he had in 2004 looks like it was for real.

Aside from shaky defense, the other thing that has held Osborn back is a Casey Kotchman-esque injury prone nature. He was shut down at the end of the season because of a shoulder problem. He also had a problem with his wrist and a quadriceps injury. If he can manage to stay healthy, he could end up being a valuable utility player in the major leagues. He has a good bat, and while he isn't great defensively at any one position, he can play third and short. It's reasonable to think that he could learn to play second and the outfield, which would make him particularly valuable given the toll that the long season can take on a lineup.

ETA: Late 2006
3 Stars

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Thomas Brice Report

Thomas Brice, OF, Chicago White Sox
Drafted 720th Overall (24th Rd), 2002 Draft, Faulkner State CC
Bats L/Throws L
23 YO, 6'5", 210 lbs

Brice is another stealth prospect, with above average on-base skills, a line drive stroke, and some speed to go with it. He started 2004 in the Sally League, where he hit .313/.394/.488 with 16 doubles, 6 home runs, 28 walks, 48 K's, and 10 steals (14 attempts) in 217 at bats before moving up to the Carolina League, where he posted a .273/.333/.422 with 13 doubles, 3 home runs, 13 walks, 32 K's, and 5 steals (in 6 attempts) in 161 at bats.

While he's had some success in the minors, he still has yet to see AA, and may have to settle for being typecasted as a AAAA outfielder or a 4th outfielder on a good team. He'll probably start 2005 in Birmingham.

ETA: Early/Mid 2006
2 1/2 Stars

Monday, January 24, 2005

Yusimeiro Petit Report

Yusimeiro Petit, RHP, New York Mets
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2001, Venezuela
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'0", 180 lbs

The Mets farm system has thinned out a bit, and they haven't helped themselves by trading away players like Justin Huber and Scott Kazmir. But Petit's one to keep an eye on. On the mound, Petit is mature beyond his years, mixing a high 80's fastball with a good change and an improving slider. If you don't have Randy Johnson's stuff, it helps to have some smarts. Another thing that he has is a bit of deception in his delivery. Some scouts have some questions about his ceiling since he doesn't have a flashy fastball or a killer breaking ball, but it's pretty hard to criticize a guy too heavily when he makes it to AA before his 20th birthday.

Petit started the season in the Sally League and ended up in the Eastern League. Let's recap his results.

Capital City (Sally)- 2.39 ERA, 122 K, 22 BB, 47 H, 83 IP

St Lucie (FSL)- 1.22 ERA, 62 K, 14 BB, 27 H, 44 IP

Binghampton (EL)- 4.50 ERA, 16 K, 5 BB, 10 H, 12 IP

Pretty impressive. In 214 career minor league innings, he has a spectacular 12 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.15 walks per 9.

He'll probably start 2005 back in Binghampton, but if he picks up where he left off in 2005, he'll be in Queens by the end of the season.

ETA: Late 2005
4 Stars

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Alec Zumwalt Report

Alec Zumwalt, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Drafted 144th Overall (4th Rd), 1999 Draft, HS, Kernersville, NC
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'2", 190 lbs

Zumwalt was the player to be named in the Kolb/Capellan deal. He's a former outfielder and was a Rule 5 pick by the Rays that didn't stick.

Zumwalt's a reliever with a pretty decent low 90's fastball, but he's still pretty raw. After a good 2003, he struggled a lot in 2004 with a 5.09 ERA, 67 K's, and 38 walks in 76 innings. His command needs to improve, especially on his secondary pitches. He doesn't have a whole lot of time since he's already well into his mid 20's.

ETA: 2006
2 Stars

Billy Hogan Report

Billy Hogan, OF, Seattle Mariners
Drafted 131st Overall (5th Rd), 2003 Draft, Chandler-Gilbert CC
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'3", 200 lbs

Hogan was traded from the Padres for AAAA lefty Randy Williams. He had a pretty good pro debut in 2003, putting up a .256/.333/.385 line for Idaho Falls and a .344/.419/.515 line for Eugene. This season, he regressed, going .164/.246/.197 with Fort Wayne, prompting a demotion to Eugene, where he failed to match his 2003 numbers, going .236/.304/.357 while struggling enough on defense to get moved to the outfield. His biggest problem on offense is making contact. He has 143 strikeouts in 501 career at bats. He has average speed, and has demonstrated little power. He's too young to give up on, but it's pretty obvious that he has a lot of work to do.

ETA: 2009
1 Star

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