Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jeremy Hermida Report

Jeremy Hermida, OF, Florida Marlins
Drafted 11th Overall, 2002 Draft, HS, Marietta, GA
Bats L/Throws R
20 YO, 6'4", 200 lbs

Hermida is one of the better outfield prospects in baseball. He has outstanding plate discipline for a player his age and he has great all around ability with speed and a good batting stroke.

2004 Jupiter: .297/.377/.441, 17 2B, 10 HR, 42 BB, 73 K, 10 SB, 3 CS, 340 AB
Career: .281/.374/.399, 49 2B, 10 3B, 16 HR, 144 BB, 211 K, 44 SB, 8 CS, 992 AB

His power isn't what you want to see from a corner outfielder, but it is improving slowly. And the player I most closely associate with Hermida (Bobby Abreu) had almost exactly the same isolated slugging percentage at the same age in the same league, so I'm pretty optimistic about that.

A 19 year old playing above league average in the Florida State League is a good sign. Hermida's a good hitter already and I don't see any reason to think that he won't continue to improve in all phases of the game. How much power he develops will determine whether he's really a Bobby Abreu kind of lineup anchor or whether he's a really good leadoff/#2 hitter in the future.

ETA: Mid 2006
4 1/2 Stars

Adam Miller Report

Adam Miller, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 31st Overall, 2003 Draft, HS, McKinney, TX
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 6'4", 180 lbs

Ordinary name, extraordinary prospect. His stuff lights up scouting reports. He has a great mid 90's fastball that touches 97-98 at times and a lethal slider. He also put up disturbingly good numbers split between the Sally League and the Carolina League.

2004 Lake County: 3.36 ERA, 106 K, 28 BB, 79 H, 7 HR, 91 IP
2004 Kingston: 2.08 ERA, 46 K, 12 BB, 29 H, 1 HR, 43 IP
Career: 3.34 ERA, 179 K, 49 BB, 138 H, 10 HR, 167 IP

That'll get your blood flowing.

Miller is a very advanced pitcher and a smart kid. He mixes his pitches and locations like a 30 year old veteran. He has very good command and he doesn't give up the long ball. I could complain about the lack of slow pitch like a curve or a change, but that would be nitpicking a guy who doesn't deserve it.

You know by now that I don't advocate draft high school arms in the first round, but some teams have had some success with the strategy lately. Pitchers like Zach Greinke, Gavin Floyd, and Adam Miller are good examples. It helps that they were all polished, mature pitchers with good control. They weren't projects. They weren't projection picks. You didn't have to drastically change their deliveries or teach them how to pitch. Just turn them loose and watch them terrorize hitters. Maybe a rethinking of my standard thinking is in order. It isn't about where a pitcher comes from but what kind of pitcher he is. Stay tuned.

ETA: Late 2006
5 Stars

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bob Malek Report

Bob Malek, OF, New York Mets
Drafted 117th Overall (4th rd), 2002 Draft, Michigan State
Bats L/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 200 lbs

After an outstanding junior year at Michigan State, he just hasn't done much as a pro.

2004 St Lucie: .266/.321/.440, 23 2B, 6 3B, 13 HR, 33 BB, 82 K, 15 SB, 6 CS, 425 AB
2004 Binghamton: .222/.263/.315, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 13 K, 54 AB
Career: .260/.326/.383, 59 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR, 94 BB, 187 K, 47 SB, 16 CS, 1025 AB

You have to hit better than this to keep your prospect status. If he improves his hitting, he might make it as a 5th outfielder, as he has some speed on the basepaths and his defense is good (but not great) as a corner outfielder. However, chases are that he becomes an organizational guy.

ETA: 2006
1 1/2 Stars

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ryan Anderson Report

Ryan Anderson, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Drafted 19th Overall, 1997 Draft, HS, Dearborn, MI
Bats L/Throws L
25 YO, 6'10", 225 lbs

3 shoulder surgeries have knocked him permanently off the prospect radar, but he's worth revisiting. He was drafted as a skyscraper of a pitcher with a lively mid 90's fastball and the beginnings of a nice slider. The comparisons to Randy Johnson were inescapable with him rushing up the minor league ladder all the way to AAA by his 21st birthday. He was ranked by Baseball America as Seattle's number one prospect for three strait season. At that point, the Mariners were making all the right noises, saying that they weren't going to rush him into the big team rotation, and that they were going to protect his arm. Then in spring training he went down with a shoulder injury later diagnosed as a labrum tear. Surgery insued, a year long recovery. Then before he threw another pitch, he reinjured the shoulder twice. That's where we stand today. The last time he threw a pitch in a competitive game, Bill Clinton was still the President.

2000 Tacoma: 3.98 ERA, 146 K, 55 BB, 83 H, 104 IP
Career: 3.94 ERA, 460 K, 208 BB, 300 H, 349 IP

It's easy to forget exactly how good his stuff was. That strikeout rate was evil. He was unhittable. Unfortunately, the same delivery that caused him to tear up his shoulder also hurt his control. I've heard speculation in several places that it's harder for very tall pitchers to have solid, consistent mechanics just because their arms and torsos are so much longer than your garden variety pitcher. My grasp of biology and physics is insufficient to confirm or deny that, but it makes sense to me. If you look at basketball players, huge players tend to be more Shawn Bradley than Yao Ming. They're usually gangly and uncoordinated. It makes sense that the same kind of challenges that plague those kinds of basketball players would have a corollary in freakishly tall baseball players.

There's still the possibility that Anderson will find himself on a major league roster some day. However, there's very little chance that he'll have anything resembling the electric stuff he had before his shoulder bought some orthopedic surgeon a new BMW M5. If he has even an average fastball, he could potentially be a second lefty in a major league bullpen. He'll get all the chances to come back that he can physically take.

ETA: ???
1 Star

Matt Esquivel Report

Matt Esquivel, OF, Atlanta Braves
Drafted 165th Overall (5th Rd), 2001 Draft, HS, San Antonio, TX
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'2", 220 lbs

Esquivel is an athletic former football player who has some athletic skills, but he needs to improve his batting eye.

2004 Rome: .282/.354/.489, 31 2B, 3 3B, 16 HR, 35 BB, 140 K, 12 HBP, 14 SB, 4 CS, 411 AB
Career: .281/.351/.477, 54 2B, 9 3B, 32 HR, 76 BB, 279 K, 22 HBP, 23 SB, 8 CS, 858 AB

He has the beginnings of a well rounded game, with some power, some speed, and a good glove in the outfield with solid range and steady hands. The K/BB ratio makes me wonder whether he'll make enough contact to be productive at higher levels. He has time to work on that. The Braves look like they're going to be patient with him. He isn't a top prospect, but he bears watching due to his all around talent, especially if you're in a roto league.

ETA: 2007
2 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Walter Young Report

Walter Young, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Drafted 932nd Overall (31st Rd), 1999 Draft, HS, Purvis, MS
Bats L/Throws R
25 YO, 6'5", 290 lbs

After over 2000 career minor league at bats, Young is what he is. He's a big, slow slugger who will draw some walks, strike out once every 3 or 4 at bats, and he'll hit some balls over the fence. He isn't going to turn any heads with his defense, or steal any bases, or be an all star. He might go Ryan Howard on the International League next season, but he's not going to be anything more than competant at the major league level.

2004 Bowie: .274/.343/.539, 28 2B, 33 HR, 47 BB, 145 K, 486 AB
Career: .286/.343/.501, 108 2B, 9 3B, 103 HR, 150 BB, 467 K, 2025 AB

It's hard to believe that the same organization that threw Cal Pickering to the curb went out of its way to get Young. Young is a poor man's Pickering. With a good season, he could find himself in Baltimore getting at bats at first base and DH.

ETA: Mid 2005
3 1/2 Stars

Jason Kaanoi Report

Jason Kaanoi, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Drafted 194th Overall (7th Rd), 2000 Draft, HS, Honolulu, HI
Bats L/Throws R
22 YO, 5'11", 200 lbs

This groundball machine has been brought along slowly after being drafted out of a Hawaii high school. After 2 full seasons in Burlington, he started 2005 back in the Midwest League before earning his way up to Wilmington. He's a fastball/splitter guy who gets into the low 90's with his heater.

2004 Burlington: 2.83 ERA, 42 K, 15 BB, 45 H, 1 HR, 54 IP
2004 Wilmington: 1.37 ERA, 24 K, 13 BB, 23 H, 1 HR, 46 IP
Career: 4.30 IP, 229 K, 120 BB, 362 H, 20 HR, 354 IP

His command is pretty good, and while I'd like to see him miss more bats, groundball specialists can survive with less than optimal strikeout rates keeping the ball in the park and inducing harmless grounders to the second baseman. I'm not sure whether Kaanoi projects better as a reliever or as a starter. That path with probably be determined by his own performance. He's been used quite a bit in both roles. He'll probably start 2005 with the Royals new HiA affiliate, High Desert. Keeping the ball down in the zone will be critical for any pitcher in that park (and league), so Kaanoi is well suited to make that transition.

ETA: Late 2007
3 Stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hunter Brown Report

Hunter Brown, IF, Seattle Mariners
Drafted Rice University
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'2", 200 lbs

This year Brown emerged as a potential utility infielder. He's listed as a third baseman. He played 80 games there this season, which combined with his 814 OPS brings to mind memories of Justin Leone. He doesn't have Leone's power, so that comparison is optimistic. He does however have a better glove. According to Jeff Sullivan, the organization is absolutely in love with his defense.

2004 San Antonio: .286/.379/.435 19 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 56 BB, 80 K, 20 SB, 8 CS, 13 HBP, 441 AB
Career: .259/.364/.424 62 2B, 7 3B, 35 HR, 162 BB, 228 K, 33 SB, 15 CS, 27 HBP, 1094 AB

He played 80 games at third base, 28 games at second base, and 21 games at first base. His on-base skills should help make him more useful, but he's hurt by his lack of power and the fact that he isn't a shortstop, which is something that a lot of teams demand from utility infielders. He's much more useful than Luis Ugueto ever was. Don't expect a star here. Tony Graffanino circa 2001 is probably his ceiling. But at worst, he's a good guy to have hanging around on your AAA affiliate.

ETA: late 2005
2 1/2 Stars

Monday, February 14, 2005

Denard Span Report

Denard Span, OF, Minnesota Twins
Drafted 20th Overall, 2002 Draft, HS, Tampa, FL
Bats L/Throws L
19 YO, 6'1", 180 lbs

The Twins draft really well, and their farm system has consistantly been one of the best in baseball, but I don't get what they see in Span. He's fast as hell, but he's really, really raw.

2004 Quad Cities: .267/.363/.308, 4 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 34 BB, 49 K, 15 SB, 8 CS, 240 AB
Career: .268/.359/.313, 9 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 57 BB, 83 K, 29 SB, 13 CS, 447 AB

The only thing I like in those lines is the walk rate. He isn't hitting for average. He isn't hitting for any kind of power. He's stealing bases, but he's getting nailed by the catcher too often. He's even raw on defense, where his speed probably has the best chance of becoming a real weapon. He can cover some serious ground, but he's still learning how to read fly balls and make good breaks when he picks up the ball off the bat. His arm is poor, so even if he defelops into a flycatcher, he might not turn into a Mike Cameron defensive force.

ETA: 2008
1 1/2 Stars

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Credit Is Due

I'm happy to see that John Sickels' new blog is now open for business. You'll find a link for it over to the right. Sickels is a big influence of mine. He provides a wealth of great information and reviews. I'm sad to see ESPN cancel Down on the Farm. He'll still be offering his newsletter and annual book, which are worth every penny. Give him a visit and click on his adverts.

I'm not the only one whose bread and butter is prospect watching. In fact, if that were the case, I wouldn't be doing this. I give a lot of credit to Sickels, Baseball America, and Wait 'til Next Year. I have a ton of respect for them.

So here's my tip of the cap.

Eulogio De la Cruz Report

Eulogio De la Cruz, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2001, Dominican Republic
Bats R/Throws R
20 YO, 5'11", 160 lbs

What an outstanding name. It just jumps out at you. But even if you were able to forget the name, you wouldn't forget his radar gun readings. He has a high 90's fastball the burns the ground below it. The problem is that he has NOTHING to go with it. No curve, no change, no slider, no splitter. Just heat, all the time.

2004 West Michigan: 3.83 ERA, 44 K, 33 BB, 51 H, 13 WP, 54 IP
Career: 3.81 ERA, 128 K, 72 BB, 121 H, 120 IP

His control is poor and even with the fastball being as good as it is, he still gives up hits at a rate that's pretty close to average. When you combine that with the number of walks he gives up, De la Cruz just isn't likely to be successful in more advanced leagues without a lot of work. He needs some kind of secondary pitch and he needs to learn how to harness that velocity and throw some strikes.

ETA: 2008
2 stars

Matt Murton Report

Matt Murton, OF, Chicago Cubs
Drafted 32nd Overall, 2003 Draft, Georgia Tech
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 226 lbs

Murton is a good, well-rounded player who was one of the many pieces of the midseason Nomar Garciaparra trade.

2004 Sarasota: .301/.372/.452 16 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 42 BB, 61 K, 376 AB
2004 Daytona: .253/.326/.367 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 10 K, 76 AB
Career: .290/.367/.425 28 2B, 7 3B, 15 HR, 77 BB, 110 K, 16 SB, 7 CS, 644 AB

There's nothing really spectacular about him. Good, but not great on base skills. Decent, but certainly not jaw-dropping power (he's mostly a line drive machine). His defense is good, but his arm is iffy, so he'll have to settle for being a left fielder with good range. He isn't a base-clogger, but he isn't a speed demon that you want to give an unlimited green light to.

All of this equals a solid, but unspectacular player, likely to be somewhere between solid regular and good 4th outfielder. Unless he has a big power spike that I don't see coming, he won't be a star. I also don't see him being overpowered in the high minors, so I don't see him as a flop.

ETA: Late 2006
3 1/2 Stars

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