Saturday, March 05, 2005

Alexis Rios Report

Alexis Rios, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Drafted 19th Overall, 1999 Draft, HS, Guaynabo, PR
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'5", 185 lbs

Okay, okay. So Rios isn't technically a prospect anymore since he has 3 1/2 times the maximum number of major league at bats you can have in order to be eligible for the Rookie of the Year. However, I thought I'd take a look at him since he's still an interesting young player who hasn't established himself as a major league regular.

2004 Syracuse: .259/.292/.373, 10 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 BB, 30 K, 2 SB, 1 CS, 185 AB
2004 Toronto: .286/.338/.383, 24 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 31 BB, 84 K, 15 SB, 3 CS, 426 AB
mL Career: .293/.334/.401, 103 2B, 35 3B, 20 HR, 130 BB, 296 K, 64 SB, 38 CS, 2149 AB

It looks to me like 2003's .352/.402/.521 was an outlier. His plate discipline is still somewhere around Shawn Dunston territory. His power more or less evaporated. And he struck out more often than you'd like to see in a hitter that doesn't draw many walks.

On the positive side, he's a good defensive player at any of the three outfield positions, he's an effective baserunner, and he's still young enough that he could theoretically salvage a career for himself.

I'm not ready to completely throw in the towel, but let's just say I'm not going to draft him in any of my fantasy leagues until he strings together at least two consecutive league average seasons.

2 Stars

Corwin Malone Report

Corwin Malone, LHP, Chicago White Sox
Drafted 279th Overall (9th Rd), 1999 Draft, HS, Thomasville, AL
Bats R/Throws L
24 YO, 6'3", 200 lbs

There was a time when I was really bullish on Malone. It's probably one of the major contributors to my general paranoia when it comes to control deficient young pitchers. Malone missed all of 2004 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

mL Career: 4.35 ERA, 444 K, 275 BB, 409 H, 461 IP

He has serious problems throwing strikes. Over his career, he's averaged 5.37 walks per nine innings. However, with an explosive low 90's fastball and an erratic, but deadly curveball, he is lethal when he can manage to find the strike zone.

The first objective for Malone is to get healthy. The second should be to iron out his mechanics. His inability to repeat his delivery is most likely what caused his control problems and his elbow injury. That's easier said than done. Some day he might re-emerge as a relevant prospect, possibly in the bullpen, possibly as a starter. We'll just have to wait and see.

ETA: ???
1 1/2 Stars

Friday, March 04, 2005

Carmen Cali Report

Carmen Cali, LHP, St Louis Cards
Drafetd 293rd Overall (10th Rd), 2000 Draft, Florida Atlantic
Bats L/Throws L
26 YO, 5'10", 185 lbs

Here's what you need to know about Carmen Cali. He's a short, left-handed reliever with a very funny name, but he can bring it. From the team that brought us Kiko Calero (who debuted as a 28 year old), here's a left handed version. Cali can get it up to 97 MPH at times, but his fastball is his only real offering.

2004 Tennessee: 2.91 ERA, 47 K, 19 BB, 43 H, 3 HR, 46 IP
2004 Memphis: 2.70 ERA, 20 K, 4 BB, 17 H, 4 HR, 20 IP
2004 St Louis: 8.59 ERA, 8 K, 6 BB, 13 H, 1 HR, 7 IP
mL Career: 4.16 ERA, 299 K, 155 BB, 332 H, 18 HR, 337 IP

As LOOGY candidates go, you could do a lot worse than Cali. There's limited upside to those guys though. Even the best LOOGY isn't worth more than a couple games in the win column, but a bad one could easily make a manager cry like a 7 year old with a skinned knee.

ETA: Early 2005
2 1/2 Stars

Jarrett Gardner Report

Jarrett Gardner, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Drafted 564th Overall (19th Rd), 2003 Draft, Arkansas
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 180 lbs

Standard college trained righty junkballer, but one with a very jawdropping stat line.

2004 Augusta: 2.51 ERA, 92 K, 11 BB, 130 H, 12 HR, 136 IP
mL Career: 3.09 era, 123 K, 14 BB, 205 H, 19 HR, 201 IP

You read that right. In his minor league career, he's walked a batter about once every 17 or 18 innings he's pitched. That's pretty remarkable. It's at least worth a report.

Gardner doesn't strike as many batters out as you'd like thanks to his below average stuff. And he gives up too many home runs thanks to the fact that he never throws a pitch out of the strike zone, ever. His chances of success at higher levels are pretty slim. He doesn't even have a slick breaking ball that he can use as an out pitch. If he does make it, I'll be the first in line cheering him on.

ETA: 2007
2 Stars

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Time for a Campaign

It's time to start organizing a movement to get Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame. Every year we watch and see if these two guys get even close to making it into the Hall and every year we're left scratching our heads wondering what mass delusion the voters are operating under. They're the two most glaring omissions from the HOF at this time, and it isn't a function of the voters just being more picky than they were before. These guys aren't even borderline selections.

Saber-friendly analysts and bloggers can't be the only ones adopting this cause. We have to recruit common fans to make noise about this. It's time for a groundswell.

Garrett Atkins Report

Garrett Atkins, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Drafted 137th Overall (5th Rd), 2000 Draft, UC-Irvine
Bats R/Throws R
25 YO, 6'3", 210 lbs

Here's another review 'em now, while you still can kind of prospect report. Atkins has probably 2 seasons to win himself a job somewhere else. If he impresses people with his bat, he could move to an outfield corner in Colorado when Ian Stewart is ready, or he could go find work as somebody's ill-advised big investment of a third baseman.

2004 Colorado Springs: .366/.434/.578, 43 2B, 3 3B, 15 HR, 57 BB, 45 K, 445 AB
2004 Colorado: .357/.424/.536, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 3 K, 28 AB
mL Career: .317/.395/.475, 155 2B, 12 3B, 52 HR, 280 BB, 320 K, 2110 AB
ML Career: .216/.274/.289, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 BB, 17 K, 97 AB

His minor league numbers are propped up by the almost 900 at bats that he's accumulated with the Sky Sox. He's a reasonable hitter, but he's not THAT good. As Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette have shown us in the past, average major league hitters become world class major league hitters when they play half their games at a mile above sea level. That's great news for your fantasy baseball team, but bad news for whatever wayward general manager gets stuck with the contract that Atkins signs after leaving Denver.

Defensively, Atkins is nobody's idea of a third baseman. He has about as much of a chance at ending his career as a full time third baseman as I do, and I never had a baseball career to begin with. They stuck me out in right field when I played slow pitch soft ball. Atkins will be either a left fielder, a designated hitter, or a first baseman. Which one of the three options hinges on what team he ends up with. But that's years away. For now, he has no serious challengers for the starting third base job. He'll put up good numbers, though he won't hit a lot of home runs. Expect 35+ doubles, about 15 to 20 home runs, a healthy walk rate, and a .300+ average.

ETA: Opening Day
3 1/2 Stars

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Adam Wainwright Report

Adam Wainwright, RHP, St Louis Cardinals
Drafted 29th Overall, 2000 Draft, HS, St Simons Island, GA
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'6", 190 lbs

Another pitcher of questionable health. Wainwright started the year poorly, giving up a home run every five innings, and posting the worst hit rate and walk rate of his career. He was then diagnosed with a sprained elbow ligament and sat out the rest of the season.

When healthy, he throws three quality pitches for strikes, a low 90's fastball, a good curve, and a plus changeup.

2004 Memphis: 5.37 ERA, 64 K, 28 BB, 68 H, 12 HR, 64 IP
Career: 3.57 ERA, 624 K, 191 BB, 537 H, 41 HR, 603 IP

He didn't require surgery, but it's still pretty scary when one of your best pitching prospects has chronic elbow problems. If he's healthy, he's a candidate to fight for a rotation spot the first time one of the Cardinals starters goes down to an injury of his own or underperforms. I don't like "if" though. And Wainwright is in the wrong organization to be a young pitcher with a fragile arm.

ETA: Late 2005
3 1/2 Stars

Tripper Johnson Report

Tripper Johnson, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
Drafted 32nd Overall, 2000 Draft, HS, Bellevue, WA
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'1", 200 lbs

Tripper Johnson sounds like a great 19th century baseball name. It sounds like he should have been a teammate of King Kelly. His birth name is Nelson Alexander Johnson. I'd stick with Tripper too. On the other hand, Nelson Alexander Johnson would be a great name if you were the son of a railroad magnate.

Triviality aside, it seems like Johnson has been a prospect for 15 years now. Part of that is because while he's stagnated, the Orioles really haven't had much in the way of prospects to push him off the organizational lists.

2004 Frederick: .269/.343/.454, 19 2B, 21 HR, 51 BB, 93 K, 14 SB, 5 CS, 465 AB
Career: .270/.346/.411, 87 2B, 41 HR, 183 BB, 348 K, 51 SB, 24 CS, 1712 AB

He improved his hitting quite a bit in 2004. He got a big power boost and maintained his walk rate. He still doesn't as much contact as you'd like and it shows in his pedestrian batting averages. But Johnson is certainly a better prospect today than he was a year ago. He's still not an elite prospect by any measure, and I'm not sure whether he's anything more than his generation's own version of Chris Truby. But he at least did enough to keep himself relevant.

ETA: 2007
3 Stars

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Jeremy Reed Report

Jeremy Reed, OF, Seattle Mariners
Drafted 59th Overall (2nd Rd), 2002 Draft, Long Beach State
Bats L/Throws L
23 YO, 6'0", 160 lbs

I figure I should review him while he's still technically a prospect. He won't be a prospect after opening day. He'll be a major league ballplayer. And actually, major league ballplayer is probably the best way to describe Jeremy Reed. The kid knows how to play baseball.

2004 Charlotte: .275/.357/.420, 14 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 36 BB, 34 K, 12 SB, 7 CS, 276 AB
2004 Tacoma: .305/.366/.455, 10 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 23 BB, 22 K, 13 SB, 2 CS, 233 AB
2004 Seattle: .397/.470/.466, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 BB, 4 K, 3 SB, 1 CS, 58 AB
mL Career: .327/.401/.478, 74 2B, 10 3B, 28 HR, 140 BB, 116 K, 87 SB, 33 CS, 1183 AB

So he isn't going to hit 30 home runs or steal 50 bases in a season. What he'll do is hit line drives into the outfield...a lot. He'll also draw walks at a pretty nice rate and steal a base here and there. I think his particular offensive skill set is well tailored to Safeco Field's cavernous outfield, which will turn a few doubles into triples and spread the defense out far enough to allow him to increase the number of singles and doubles he shoots out into the alleys. Put him in a bandbox and a few more of those deep liners may creep over the wall, but it would limit the number of extra base hits he can sneak into the outfield.

Defensively, he's less suited to play in his home ballpark. The Mariners are planning to make him their center fielder for 2005. He's a tweener, a poor center fielder whose bat wouldn't be nearly as valuable if he's playing left field. The vast stretches of real estate in Safeco is going to further compound his shortcomings. It will be balanced by his bat, but it will make Mariner pitchers work hard to keep runs off the board. On the other hand, he couldn't be any worse than the 2004 version of Randy Winn.

Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA projection system pegs Reed's expected line at .286/.353/.423, which seems just a touch lower than I'd expect him to hit as a rookie. However, it would make him a pretty decent hitter. In years to come, expect him to be a better version of the player he's replacing, the aforementioned Randy Winn, or if you prefer, maybe something along the lines of a good season from Shannon Stewart with a .310/.380/.450 line.

Reed's offensive package is such that it almost ensures that he'll be underrated by most fans and media outlets. There are certain things that get overlooked by the general public, and Reed's strengths are a laundry list of those things. He runs well, but doesn't put up flashy stolen base figures ripped out of a roto owner's wet dream. He hits a lot of doubles and triples. He hits for average, but not to the point where it's going to get him into the race for the AL battle title. He draws a lot of walks. He doesn't strike out, but also doesn't ground into double plays. Now he's going to a mid-sized, west coast media market far beyond the bright lights of glamour franchises like the Yankees and Red Sox. His team isn't likely to be a pennant contender for the next few years. And he'll be overshadowed by teammates like Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson, and Ichiro in the local papers. The only way he's going to catch the attention of the average sports fan is if he puts together a couple of great months and makes a short lived race at .400.

ETA: Opening Day
4 1/2 Stars

Monday, February 28, 2005

Brendan Harris Report

Brendan Harris, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals
Drafted 138th Overall (5th Rd), 2001 Draft, William and Mary
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'1", 195 lbs

What did Brendan Harris do to deserve this? It seems like every time he gets an opportunity, he gets another roadblock thrown in his way. What exactly is Vinny Castilla supposed to provide that Harris couldn't do just as well?

2004 Iowa: .311/.353/.531, 21 2B, 11 HR, 16 BB, 40 K, 254 AB
2004 Edmonton: .285/.345/.480, 6 2B, 4 HR, 10 BB, 21 K, 123 AB
2004 Chicago: .222/.300/.333, 1 2B, 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, 9 AB
2004 Montreal: .160/.208/.260, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 11 K, 50 AB
Minor League Career: .302/.397/.488, 105 2B, 16 3B, 41 HR, 139 BB, 221 K, 1403 AB

Harris has the classic tweener profile. Scouts don't see him as a real second baseman, but he also isn't exactly the bat that you envision when you close your eyes and think of a third baseman. It's a bit unfair as Harris is a good defender at third, and can more than hold his own at second because of good footwork and good hands. He's more valuable at second base, but the Nats have Jose Vidro locked up there long term.

If given a chance, Harris would be a solid regular. At third base, he'd be in the Joe Randa range of good glove, mid-range bats. At second base, he'd be a pretty valuable player with an above average bat and a league average glove. He doesn't deserve to go back to AAA or to be a major league utility infielder. There should be a sabermetric groundswell of support for him in the FREE ERUBIEL DURAZO tradition.

ETA: Later than what is sensible
3 1/2 Stars

Jacobo Sequea Report

Jacobo Sequea, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 1997, Venezuela
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 195 lbs

Sequea was part of the Juan Guzman to Cincinnati trade all the way back in 1999. You know you've been a prospect for a long time when a pitcher you were traded for hasn't thrown a pitch for almost 5 years.

Sequea is a reliever with a power arsenal. He carries a low 90's fastball and a tight slider that has really improved since he moved to the pen in 2003. His control has sharpened a bit recently too.

2004 Bowie: 2.62 ERA, 53 K, 25 BB, 51 H, 5 HR, 65 IP
Career: 4.61 ERA, 458 K, 298 BB, 615 H, 70 HR, 640 IP

He's well suited to working late inning, high leverage situations. He'll be in Baltimore's bullpen by the end of the season and could very well be their closer on opening day in 2006.

ETA: Mid/Late 2005
3 Stars

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Garrett Jones Report

Garrett Jones, 1B, Minnesota Twins
Drafted 444th Overall (14th Rd), 1999 Draft, HS, Tinley Park, IL
Bats L/Throws L
23 YO, 6'4", 205 lbs

Jones is either a late bloomer or a complete fluke depending on how skeptical you are. After a pretty unremarkable career, where his best year was one where he posted a .289/.329/.423 line in the Appy League, he went off on the Eastern League.

2004 Ft Myers: .242/.286/.364, 5 2B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 19 K, 2 SB, 0 CS, 66 AB
2004 New Britain: .311/.356/.593, 33 2B, 30 HR, 28 BB, 98 K, 10 SB, 4 CS, 450 AB
Career: .249/.301/.431, 79 2B, 65 HR, 43 BB, 457 K, 21 SB, 9 CS, 1600 AB

Now it's very possible that he learned how to hit this season, but I'll believe it when he repeats the heroics of 2004. His plate discipline, while better than it has been in the past, still stinks. And everything he did is completely unsupported by everything else he's done in his career.

One nice thing I have to say about him is that he appears to have good footspeed for a first baseman. You don't see many guys at that position who steal double digit bases with anything remotely resembling a respectable percentage. That speaks to a certain amount of athleticism.

He has some upside if the power surge is real, but Jones looks more like AJ Zapp than Travis Hafner to me.

ETA: 2007
2 1/2 Stars

Chris Aguila Report

Chris Aguila, OF, Florida Marlins
Drafted 96th Overall (3rd Rd), 1997 Draft, HS, Reno, NV
Bats R/Throws R
26 YO, 5'11", 180 lbs

He's one of the older players who still qualify for the title of prospect. He's not an elite player, but he's usable as a role player.

2004 Albuquerque: .312/.380/.494, 23 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 37 BB, 82 K, 330 AB
2004 Florida: .222/.255/.511, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 2 BB, 12 K, 45 AB
Career Minor League: .272/.336/.424, 170 2B, 26 3B, 72 HR, 277 BB, 685 K, 2889 AB

Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA system projects him to hit .252/.315/.411 in the show this season, which seems fairly reasonable when considering how much Albuquerque's park inflates his rate stats in the PCL. He isn't going to hit many home runs, but he can hit a little bit and he has a really good glove for a corner outfielder. He's a good 4th outfielder. I'd probably prefer to give Aguila playing time over the aging Jeff Conine.

ETA: Opening Day
2 1/2 Stars

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