Friday, October 07, 2005

John Danks Report

John Danks, LHP, Texas Rangers
Drafted 9th Overall, 2003 Draft, HS, Round Rock, TX
Bats L/Throws L
20 YO, 6'2", 190 lbs

What took me so long to get to Danks? You would have figured with the number of Rangers fans I tend to surround myself with (we Royals fans need someone around who can share our pain) that I would have profiled this high profile prospect a long time ago. Well, here it is.

Danks gets into the low 90's. He could even add a couple MPH onto that in the next couple of years. However his breaking stuff is probably what gives him his upside potential. He has a killer curveball and the makings of a quality changeup.

2005 Bakersfield: 2.50 ERA, 53 K, 16 BB, 50 H, 5 HR, 58 IP
2005 Frisco: 5.49 ERA, 85 K, 34 BB, 117 H, 12 HR, 98 IP
2005 Totals: 4.38 ERA, 138 K, 50 BB, 167 H, 17 HR, 156 IP
MiLB Career: 4.19 ERA, 285 K, 101 BB, 285 H, 26 HR, 286 IP

I don't know if it's just me, but whenever I think about Danks, I think about Barry Zito. He has that same kind of profile where his fastball is better than people will give him credit for. And he has alright command, but nothing to write home about. I don't have reports telling me so, but I imagine that sometimes he has trouble spotting his curveball in the strikezone. I expect that because it is pretty typical of this kind of arsenal. When you have quite a bit of movement on the curve, sometimes it goes out of the zone. He also has a reputation of trying to nibble on the corners, which is something that can be worked out with a good pitching coach, say like Orel Hershiser.

Danks struggled in his first exposure to AA, but that's not completely unexpected for somebody his age. He dominated batters his own age with his stuff and now he's running into more advanced guys that will force him to make adjustments and work on these weaknesses. One thing that does give me pause is the number of home runs he gave up, especially in Frisco. It has the potential to be a problem in Arlington, where fly balls have a tendency to fly over the fence more than just about anywhere outside of Denver and Mexico City. It's not a dealbreaker but it is something to watch.

Expect Danks to start back in Frisco next season and do well enough to move onto Oklahoma City or possibly to the Rangers rotation. But that's if things go really well. If things don't go so well, it pushes his time table back a year. His ceiling is as a solid #2/average #1 starter. His downside is like all pitchers, injury and the obscurity of former prospectdom.

ETA: Late 2006/Early 2007
4 Stars

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Kendry Morales Report

Kendry Morales, 1B, Anaheim Angels
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2004, Cuba
Bats B/Throws R
22 YO, 6'1", 220 lbs

Morales ended up having a pretty decent season split between the California League and the Texas League. It didn't live up to pie-in-the-sky hopes of him challenging Dallas McPherson for the starting third base job in Anaheim, but those were unrealistic expectations anyways.

2005 Rancho Cucamonga: .344/.400/.544, 3 2B, 5 HR, 6 BB, 11 K, 90 AB
2005 Arkansas: .306/.349/.530, 12 2B, 17 HR, 17 BB, 43 K, 281 AB
MiLB Career: .315/.362/.534, 15 2B, 22 HR, 23 BB, 54, K, 371 AB

Well, it looks like he can hit. You have to like the batting average and isolated power. The Arkansas numbers are especially impressive since the Texas League is no filled will nothing but bandboxes. To be honest, there really isn't a single one remaining now that El Paso's franchise has moved to Missouri. Arkansas isn't exactly Wilmington or PetCo Park, but it isn't the worst place in the world to pitch either. So the power is for real. And there are no real red flags telling me that the batting average is a fluke either. The only real thing that I have to complain about is the walk rate, which is clearly subpar. That's just something to start working on though. I think that he should continue to hit and if he improves his selectivity at the plate, he has the chance to be a very nice major leaguer. Watch out for an offensive breakout if he starts the year in Salt Lake City next year because unlike Arkansas, that is a bandbox, aided by a pretty high elevation.

There are other thing to talk about as well. I'm on the record as not trusting Cuban birthdates, so I'm skeptical of the promise that his age brings. He'd still be a pretty good prospect and a probable major leaguer if he is really 25 years old instead of 22. But it would greatly diminish his ceiling. The other things that needs to be discussed are defense and baserunning. Both are question marks. The Angels are sticking to the party line stating that they think his defense is perfectly fine and that he only needs more work. I'm skeptical due to reports that his range is awful and his footspeed is nonexistent. It certainly looks like the hopes that he'd be a third baseman was just a case of wishcasting. He won't steal bases. If they move him to the outfield, he will be restricted to a corner spot and probably won't have very much range there either.

Morales's bat will definitely carry him. If he can make adjustments in AAA and the Show, he'll be successful. If he doesn't adapt at the plate, he'll end up being a really overpriced AAAA slugger pounding fastballs out of places like Nashville, Rochester, and Nagoya.

ETA: Late 2006/Early 2007
4 Stars

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