Saturday, February 05, 2005

Joel Zumaya Report

Joel Zumaya, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Drafted 320th Overall (11th Rd), 2002 Draft, HS, Chula Vista, CA
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'3", 210 lbs

Zumaya is sometimes mentioned as a premium pitching prospect thanks to his high 90's fastball, which sometimes flirts with triple digits. I'm not completely sold though. He still has spotty control and his mechanics make me think that he might be an injury risk. He posted a 4.36 ERA with 108 K's, 58 walks, 90 hits, and 10 home runs allowed in 116 innings in the Florida State League, and a 6.30 ERA with 29 K's, 10 walks, 19 hits, and 6 home runs in 20 Eastern League innings. The strikeout rate is impressive, but the walk rate is unacceptable.

The current theory is that he may be moved to the bullpen to minimize his control issues and quirky mechanics. I'm not certain that will work. He has to clean up his mechanics and by extension his command in order to be an acceptable Major League pitcher. We've seen several of these kinds of pitchers in the last 5 years, and it's hard to come up with one that didn't crash and burn. From Mike MacDougal to Nick Neugebauer to Bobby Jenks. Injury and ineffectiveness seems to follow them around. Zumaya's a better version of Ambriorix Burgos.

ETA: 2007
3 Stars

Bob Zimmerman Report

Bob Zimmerman, RHP, Anaheim Angels
Drafted 120th Overall (4th Rd), 2003 Draft, Southwest Missouri State
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 190 lbs

Zimmerman is a reliever prospect with good stuff and great stats. He mostly works with a mid 90's fastball, which he used to post a 2.26 ERA with 82 strikeouts, 21 walks, 48 hits, and 3 home runs allowed in 68 innings. He was mostly used as a closer, he finished the game for his team 50 times in 53 appearences. Statistically, he's looking great, but I'd like to see him advance more quickly. I would have promoted him out of the Midwest League midseason. He wasn't a whole lot older than his opponents (he turned 23 in the offseason) but generally speaking, 22 year olds should play well in Low A ball. I really want to see him make the jump to AA before I give him two thumbs up.

ETA: 2007
3 Stars

Friday, February 04, 2005

Brad Halsey Report

Brad Halsey, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Drafted 246th Overall (8th Rd), 2002 Draft, Texas
Bats L/Throws L
23 YO, 6'1", 180 lbs

Halsey is another piece of that cumbersome Big Unit/Shawn Green deal. He's a command and control lefty who's about 5 MPH on his fastball away from being a top 50 prospect. As it is, he just doesn't walk anybody and hopes that the ball stays in the park.

Halsey spent most of 2005 in Columbus, where he posted a 2.62 ERA with 109 K's, 37 walks, 128 hits, and 8 home runs allowed in 144 innings. He got hammered, with a 6.47 ERA in 32 innings for the Yankees, but that may or may not be indicative of what he's facing in the Major Leagues. I'd like to see how his velocity is affected by working out of the bullpen. As Jeremy Affeldt and Eric Gagne have shown us, sometimes pitchers pick up significant velocity when they know they don't have to go more than a couple innings in a game. Halsey currently projects as a 5th starter with his high 80's fastball and B- slider. If you boost that fastball into the low 90's, he might end up being a very competant reliever given his control and ability to keep the ball in the park. He just needs to miss a few more bats.

ETA: Now
3 1/2 Stars

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dave Crouthers Report

Dave Crouthers, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Drafted 83rd Overall (3rd Rd), 2001 Draft, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'3", 203 lbs

Now that the Sosa deal is official, Crouthers, Jerry Hairston, and Mike Fontenot are Cubs property.

Crouthers is a rightie with a mid 90's fastball, but spotty control and a gopherball problem. In 2005, he put up a 5.03 ERA with 138 strikeouts, 68 walks, 134 hits, and 23 home runs allowed in 140 International League innings. He doesn't have any durability problems, but his stuff and his stats tell me that he's just better off in the bullpen, where his fastball gives him the potential to be an above average major league player. He has to clean up his command or else he'll be a AAA nomad.

In evaluating this trade, you have to come to the conclusion that it is a bad trade for the Cubs when based on performance. Hairston is a utility player, who is useful on the bench, but nowhere near as talented as Sosa, even in the decline phase of Sammy's career. Crouthers is a live arm. A shot in the dark in hopes that he might turn into a decent reliever. And yesterday on ESPNews, Joe Sheehan came up with the best description of Fontenot, when he said that the second baseman is a mini-Todd Walker, the player ahead of him on the depth chart. He can hit a little, but as a poor man's version of the original, he isn't likely to be an impact player or even a full time starter. He's depth at that position. The Orioles made out like bandits. They have a one year commitment to a player who will sell some tickets, and help lend some legitimacy to a team that is bound to be an also-ran in the AL East. The Cubs got to feel better about themselves as they replace a disgruntled Sosa with Jeromy Burnitz, but in terms of performance, the deal is a significant downgrade.

ETA: late 2005/early 2006
2 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Jeff Francoeur Report

Jeff Francoeur, OF, Atlanta Braves
Drafted 23rd Overall, 2002 Draft, HS, Liburn, GA
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'4", 200 lbs

Francoeur is a gifted athlete with a natural ability to hit and field. He has good speed, power, hand-eye coordination, and reflexes. He's a scout's dream. It is why he was a first round draft pick by his hometown Braves.

Francoeur hit .293/.346/.508 with 26 doubles, 15 home runs, 22 walks, and 69 strikeouts in 331 at bats for Myrtle Beach before breaking a cheekbone on a bunt attempt. Upon his return, he struggled in his first exposure to AA, hitting .197/.197/.342 in 76 at bats.

Somebody please tie this kid to a chair and show him game tapes of plate appearances by Barry Bonds. If he could just develop some plate discipline, he'll give the Braves an all star corner outfielder. If he doesn't develop that plate discipline, he'll be Rocco Baldelli. Major League pitchers love to exploit hitters who chase pitches out of the zone.

Francoeur has moved from center to right field, both as a reaction to the presence of Andruw Jones, and as preparation for Francoeur filling out a bit and losing a small amount of speed. He has a very strong throwing arm, and plenty of range, so he should excel in that aspect of the game.

I like him as a prospect, but not as much as most others do. He has the ability to be a great player, but like Lastings Milledge, he has to develop better strike zone judgment in order to utilize those abilities.

ETA: Late 2006
4 Stars

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Ian Bladergroen Report

Ian Bladergroen, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Drafted 1314th Overall (44th Rd), 2002 Draft, Lamar CC
Bats L/Throws L
21 YO, 6'4", 193 lbs

Bladergroen is what it cost for the Mets to get a hold of Doug Mientkiewicz. Evidently, in order to get a first baseman with an impossible to spell last name, you have to GIVE a first baseman with an impossible to spell last name.

Bladergroen is a power hitting JuCo draft pick who tore up the Sally League before tearing up his wrist. As an aside, what is it with first basemen and wrist injuries? It seems like every decent first base prospect of the last half decade has had a wrist injury. From Casey Kotchman to Nick Johnson to James Loney to Jason Stokes, this is just eerie. Bladergroen's line from Capital City was .342/.397/.595 with 23 doubles, 13 home runs, 25 walks, and 55 strikeouts in 269 at bats. The injury probably destroyed the chance of a promotion to HiA and thus negated a possible opportunity to see what he'd do against a little better competition. As to his performance when he was healthy, it was good. I'm impressed with the power, which is top notch. The plate discipline is acceptable, though with that strikeout total, I have the feeling that he could probably stand to lay off the sliders in the dirt. Baseball America likes his defense. And while he doesn't steal many bases, what first baseman does?

I wouldn't have made the trade if I were Omar Minaya, but then I have a bias against first basemen without any sort of power. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to give up a good prospect in the deal.

ETA: Late 2007
3 1/2 Stars

Monday, January 31, 2005

Ian Stewart Report

Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Drafted 10th Overall, 2003 Draft, HS, Westminster, CA
Bats L/Throws R
19 YO, 6'3", 200 lbs

As the owner of two keeper league teams, when it comes to Ian Stewart, I'm Pavlov's dog. I read his name, and I do a Homer Simpson "MMMM Ian Stewart." He's an incredible prospect, and about as good a bet to see 5 all star games as anybody not currently in the Major Leagues.

Stewart hit .319/.398/.594 with 31 doubles, 9 triples, 30 home runs, 66 walks, 112 K's, and 19 steals (in 28 attempts) in 505 Sally League at bats. That's incredible. 70 extra base hits as a 19 year old in a full season league. And the South Atlantic League is not exactly known for bandboxes. He even improved throughout the year, showing a learning curve that may put him on the fast track for Denver. Just imagine an Eric Chavez level third baseman in Colorado. That's what we're on track to seeing.

I currently have Stewart ranked as my #1 prospect in baseball. The only real things that should make anybody nervous are injuries (which he doesn't have any problem with so far) and the presence of Jeff Baker ahead of him, giving the Rockies an easy excuse to push him to an outfield corner since Baker is a spectacular defensive third baseman. But even with that, Stewart is still earning good reviews for his defense, and there's no need to move him. Unlike Eric Duncan, people aren't talking about moving him off of third. This would be a move made purely because of a great defender ahead of him.

ETA: Late 2006/Early 2007
5 Stars

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Tim Alvarez Report

Tim Alvarez, LHP, San Francisco Giants
Drafted 1083rd Overall (36th Rd), 2003 Draft, Southeast Missouri State
Bats L/Throws L
24 YO, 6'4", 235 lbs

Alvarez is a submariner who is 4 years younger than I am, to the day. Being a submariner and a reliever, and lefthanded, this means that if he ever makes it to the show, he'll be limited to being a LOOGY specialist (thank you John Sickels for giving us that term.) He was drafted as a college senior, which explains why he's 24 just a year and a half after being drafted.

Like most submariners, he doesn't throw hard, and his ratios aren't magnificent. His main goal is to have the batter beat the ball into the ground. In 2004, he put up a 3.69 ERA with 41 K's, 28 BB's, 50 hits, and 5 home runs allowed in 61 innings. For his career, he now owns a line of 3.83 ERA, 66 K's, 42 BB's, 83 hits, and 8 home runs allowed in 94 innings. Right now he doesn't look like Chad Bradford in the making, but sometimes appearences are decieving. I like players with different approaches and unorthodox deliveries, especially in the bullpen. He doesn't have a high ceiling, but he has a fairly decent chance of turning into a useful player.

ETA: 2006/2007
2 Stars

Sunday Morning Links

In flipping through links, I've come across some articles I think you guys might like.

John Brattain throws the same tantrum I've thrown dozens of times.

BTF has an interesting link on sabermetrics in basketball. Part two.

Adam Morris tells a story about Dean Palmer.

Jason Bartlett Report

Jason Bartlett, SS, Minnesota Twins
Drafted 390th Overall (13th Rd), 2001 Draft, Oklahoma
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'2", 180 lbs

Bartlett is likely to be the starting shortstop for the Twins this season after Jim Bowden decided that Christian Guzman was his guy giving him stupid amounts of money. Bartlett is a cost-effective answer at the position, who is likely to be league average. He hit .332/.417/.475 with 15 doubles, 7 triples, 3 home runs, 33 walks, and 36 K's in 265 at bats for Rochester, missing some time with a broken wrist. That's pretty good for a shortstop.

He isn't a power hitter, but he'll hit liners all of the outfield, and draw some walks. His defense and baserunning are average. He won't be spectacular, but he'll be competant, probably better than Guzman, who didn't get on base enough to counteract his own lack of power.

ETA: Opening Day
3 1/2 Stars

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