Now we find out. Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times on Jonny
Gomes TB :
... Twenty-two years old, a pro athlete in the best shape of his life,
preparing for a third straight strong season in the Devil Rays minor-league
system, he figured the pain and pressure squeezing his chest Dec. 23 was nothing
more than indigestion. Turns out, it was something much more. "It was a
heart attack," Gomes said. "One of my valves got clogged, they don't
know what it was from. I was in the hospital for four days. They ran every test,
everything from steroids to drugs to enzymes, and every single one came back
(okay). All the top doctors, they knew how to treat me and what would help, but
they had no idea what caused it."
... Gomes ... was cleared -- "100 percent" -- by a cardiologist
last week for full activity in the RBEST minicamp and the coming season.
"He's fine," player personnel director Cam Bonifay said ... "I
was as healthy as I've ever been," Gomes said. "I was on a real strict
diet, taking vitamins and protein, all natural stuff, healthy stuff. They said
it wasn't from that. I wasn't taking any ephedra, wasn't taking andro. My
cholesterol was the lowest it's ever been. My body fat was the lowest it's ever
been. I just spazzed or something. It was weird." ... The 6-foot-1,
205-pounder insists the heart problem will not be an issue, or a roadblock.
"I'm straight," he said."
On the chatline, Jason Boyd and Jim Callis of Baseball America, added
some comments on the Top 100 picks.
Brownlie " ... The Cubs have a very deep Top 10, but I'd probably
put him at No. 3 behind Hee Seop Choi and Angel Guzman. You really could make a
case for putting him as low as No. 9, behind Brendan Harris. As for the Top 100,
I could see Brownlie in the 75-100 range." (Callis)
Ramirez " ... Way, way, way, way too early for him. He had a great
K-BB ratio in the Gulf Coast League, but his stuff isn't overwhelming." (Callis)
Basham " ... I think he'll get the opportunity to start for the Reds
sometime after the all-star break if he continues to pitch like he did at the
end of 2002. That might be pushing it a bit, though." (Callis)
Fischer " ... I guess I was the only one to rank him on my top 150
before we compiled the top 100. That is a little surprising to me considering
the year he had last year. I think he gets lost a little in the depth the Angels
have assembled ahead of him too. With all the progress he made last year, there
is a chance he'll be in the majors in September, but I think next spring is when
they'll be looking at him as a contributor." (Boyd)
Pie " ... Pie is a five-tool stud. One scout said he projects Pie to
hit 30 bombs and swipe 40 bags. He has the tools to be a gold glover in center.
He could skyrocket on the list next year." (Boyd)
picking Rocco Baldelli ahead of Mark Teixeira "
... They are clearly one and two for me, and it was a really close call. I gave
the edge to Rocco because he is a premium athlete in the middle of the diamond,
with a chance to do a little bit or a lot of everything. He made such impressive
strides last year, and based on all reports I've heard and seen for myself, I
believe there is more improvement to come--next being in the plate discipline
area. Teixeira's bat is tremendous, capable of power and average from both
sidesof the plate. I gave the nod to the middle of the field player of the
corner player. Both have plus makeup, but Rocco gets the edge there for me
McGowan " ... He's still a couple of years away. McGowan has
frontline stuff and has only recently started to figure it out. The key for him
is command. He'll probably end up throwing consistently in the mid-90s with a
plus breaking ball and solid changeup. I don't think the current Blue Jays front
office is in any hurry to rush a high school righthander--and they'll probably
show more care than the previous regime did in rushing Chris Carpenter and Roy
Halladay into the bigs." (Boyd)
Williams " ... Williams hasn't made the progress a lot of scouts
projected of him over the last couple years. But he's been one of the youngest
in his league each year. His velocity has been average and he's actually relied
more on pitchability than overpowering guys. So, he's still a top prospect, just
not the dominant, fronltline guy we expected." (Boyd)
Loewen, ranking if signed " ... Loewen would have ranked somewhere
in the top 50ish." (Boyd)
David Srinivasan, The Sporting News,
on Corey Hart MIL :
... Hart is a 6-6 power hitter who batted .288-22-84 with 24 steals at
high Class A and .266-2-15 with three steals in a short stint at Class AA. He
draws comparisons to Richie Sexson for his power and strikeouts (117-44
strikeout-walk ratio in 487 at-bats), but Hart’s speed gives the impression he
is a superior athlete. Hart has bounced between third and first and eventually
might land in the outfield, but his bat will be what carries him ... .Should
start season in Triple-A but could reach the majors by late summer."
John Sickels, The Baseball Prospect Book, on Bobby Basham CIN :
... I love this guy ... . His ’02 season got a late
start because he was finishing classes, but he pitched so well in the Midwest
League that he should now be considered one of the top righthanded prospects in
baseball. All of his ratios were excellent ... Basically, there is nothing
not to like here. We need to see him at higher levels, but there is no hint in
his numbers of problems ahead."
Chris Reed, Prospect Report,
likes Edwin Encarnacion as the
best of the CIN prospects.
... had his first full-season ride at only 19-years old. He hit
32 doubles, 17 homeruns and stole 25 bases. Not a bad season. He obviously has
20/20 potential and projects to be an above average offensive shortstop. He did
make a boatload of errors. The Reds are experimenting with Encarnacion at
shortstop after he manned the hot corner for a while. If he can improve his
defense and stay at shortstop he could be an above average Major Leaguer."
Starter Chris Gruler won the
runnerup slot :
... has fantastic upside as a 19-year old righthander with a fastball
that dances from the low to mid-90's and a brutal curveball. It was believed he
was going to require off-season arm surgery, but the Reds will instead limit his
pitching in 2003."
Mo Pena ranked #3 with Bobby
Basham at #4 :
... thrived in 2002 thanks to a deadly fastball/slider combo and
incredible control (.9 BB/9). His dominating season in the Midwest league came
on the heels of a disappointing 2001 - both at the collegiate and professional
levels. Concerns with Basham include battles with the injury bug in the past as
well as being one to two years older than his Low A competition last year. He'll
need to make up for lost time next year by advancing to AA-Chattanooga by the
end of the year."hind the plate will be his main focus.
Baseball Notebook, on Brandon Phillips CLE :
... I'm actually not that excited about him for 2003,
currently projecting a .255 average, 9 home runs, 40 runs scored, 36 RBI and 8
stolen bases ... I'm not as high on him as others (though I still
see him as Cleveland's best current hitting prospect). I believe when Phillips
eventually settles into the peak of his career, say four or five years from now,
he'll be consistently hitting in the .270s with 25-30 home run power, 85 runs/85
RBI ability and 20 stolen base skills. What will hold him back is that he
doesn't walk as much as he should and I don't see him ever walking more than
50-55 times in a season, even when he hits his prime."
Luciani on his top second base prospect :
... Scott Hairston of Arizona would easily be my first choice, way ahead of Shaun
Boyd of the Cardinals. I believe Hairston will make it to the majors as a
regular by 2005 and when he eventually hits his prime, he'll be a .280s type
with incredible gap ability (45-50 double potential) and 25-30 home run power.
Hairston needs to continue work on his fielding ability, having made 30 errors
last year with most of his games played at second base."
Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, on Bobby Brownlie CHN :
... will begin his pro career in Class A ball, but the Cubs believe he
has enough raw talent to merit a promotion to Double-A West Tenn before the year
is over ...
"We're not in any situation, nor does he expect to be rushed," general
manager Jim Hendry said. "We want him to come back and have a full season
and put the issues behind him that slowed him down last year, get his feet on
the ground. "There's no pressure for him to be sped along because of our pitching
depth. At the same time, he's a high-quality guy, so if he's back to the form he
was as a freshman and sophomore, you've got a guy that could get there in a few
06 March, 2003
Some names which could pop up in the June draft. Baseball America
has made its picks as the best of the high school crop. Josh Boyd
highlighted a pair of outfielders and a lefty starter who appear to be the
cream of the crop and probable first-rounders in June.
... Delmon Young ... destined to follow his older brother Dmitri as
a first-rounder ... just 17, Young earned Baseball America’s first Youth
Player of the Year award in 2002. After launching 25 bombs for Camarillo between
his sophomore and junior campaigns, he went on a rampage for Team USA. He
finished the summer tour for the junior national team with 16 home runs ... a
polished approach at the plate and has demonstrated well-above-average power
with wood bats already."
... Lastings Milledge ... Along with Young, he helped lead
Team USA to a 25-4 record last summer by hitting a team-high .474 with 10 home
runs. Milledge is a complete package, fully equipped with five tools ...
premium athlete, he has outstanding bat speed and has shown the ability to hit
for power against overpowering fastballs. Milledge is a plus-plus runner with a
strong arm. He profiles as the prototypical center fielder."
.... Andrew Miller, lhp ... Scouts can hardly contain themselves
since watching Miller blossom at the World Showcase in Fort Myers in January.
"If you like 6-5, 195-pound projectable lefthanders who bump 95 mph and rip
off 83 mph sick sliders, then you might want to look at Miller," one scout
said following the showcase ... Proving it wasn’t a fluke. Miller sat between
93-95 mph as the spring season opened, leading the Major League Scouting Bureau
to put an eye-catching 71 (on the 20-to-80 scale) overall future potential
rating on him."
Wily Mo Pena :
saw this big human being in Dayton two years ago," offered Mike Easler, a
Reds roving hitting instructor, "and I said, my God, if this kid ever puts
it together . . . Easler ...
nickname was Hit Man. He knows some things. "Touched by God" is how he
describes Pena, who is 6 feet 3 and weighs 215 pounds."
... Easler ... compares Pena to Bo Jackson, Mark McGwire, Dave Parker and Dante
Bichette. "God almighty, he's strong," Easler says ... teaching
Pena what all hitters must know to make the jump from bus rides to room service.
"Patience. Discipline." ...
... Pena, Easler says, is an eager learner with a veteran's ability to forget
the bad days. "He's going to be one of them special guys when he puts it
together. Put it this way: With his size and ability, they're going to expect
that. If he hits .260 with 12 homers, he won't stay in the big leagues."
... Right now, Pena swings at too many bad balls. He has trouble with breaking
balls. He isn't ready for big-league pitchers who know how to spot the ball.
Easler says the Reds will have to "pick their spots" to use him
... In a game Monday, Pena got behind
in the count, then went the other way, shortening his stroke and slashing a
single to right field, a veteran move."
11 March, 2003
Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on Angel Guzman CHN :
... Guzman can't make the jump to the big leagues as quickly as Mark Prior did
last year, but he's not far off. The 21-year-old right-hander from Venezuela has
been one of the most impressive pitchers in camp, throwing seven shutout innings
and allowing only three hits in his first three outings ... "If he can do
that consistently, that's what puts him in the big leagues," Prior said.
"If something did happen, I think we're safe and secure we could bring
somebody up right away and we're not out trying to search for guys, trying to
pick someone up around the All-Star break ... Guzman went a combined 11-4 with a
2.19 earned-run average in Class A Lansing and Class A Daytona last year, and
has a 21-6 record in 46 minor-league appearances, including 44 starts."
13 March, 2003
with some premium SP candidates on the way. Joe Barbieri, SportsTicker
... John Rheinecker ... on the fast track ... Promoted to Class AA in mid
May, the 6-2, 210-pounder pitched eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball in
his first trip to the mound and went 7-7 with a 3.38 ERA, which ranked eighth in
the Texas League, over 20 starts ... doesn't get in trouble with walks,
averaging just 1.62 per nine innings pitched to rank second among Texas League
starters last year, but gets a little too much of the plate with his offerings
... Rich Harden ... In the hitter-friendly Texas League, Harden
continued to excel, going 8-3 with a 2.95 ERA, a .217 average against and 102
strikeouts ... Over the two levels, the 6-1 Harden finished atop the
organization in ERA (2.93) and strikeouts (187) while ranking second in wins
(12). Harden's explosive fastball and bewildering changeup gives him the best
one-two punch in the system."
a guy who can catch & hit :
... Jeremy Brown ... a solid backstop with a knack for hitting ... .began
his professional career by hitting .307 over two Class A leagues. The
23-year-old clubbed 10 home runs and posted a .545 slugging percentage in 187
at-bats in the advanced Class A California League. A stocky 5-10 and 210 pounds,
Brown is the complete package behind the plate."
15 March, 2003
Early manouvering for Kazuo Matsui.
... (San Diego) plans to dispatch a group of scouts and executive to Japan
during the season to view the talented switch-hitter known as "Little
Matsui" in deference to the more-famous outfielder Hideki Matsui. "When
I think of him, I think of Derek Jeter," one Padres talent evaluator said
27, is still under contract to the Seibu Lions, so Padres executives are
skittish about talking about him directly, lest they be accused of tampering.
But Opening Day pitcher Brian Lawrence has no such reservations. Lawrence
was part of the major-league all-star team that toured Japan after last season.
He pitched against both Matsuis, and there was no doubt who impressed more:
Little Matsui. "He was the best player
we played against," Lawrence said, "definitely the best in that
series. He's fast; he stole some bases. He showed some power from both sides,
and he got his ground-ball hits, too ... Padres officials believe it will
take $6 million to $7 million a year to land the shortstop." (North County Times)
17, March, 2003
Amy K. Nelson, SportsTicker, notes a pair of probable future Angels in
her preview of the ANA farm system :
... Casey Kotchman ... a rare breed because not only does he read the
ball well for a 20-year-old, but his defense is above average ... had a tough
transition from aluminum to wood in his rookie season but he rebounded nicely
last year in lower level Class A, batting .281 with 45 percent of his hits going
for extra bases. His power is not overwhelming, evidenced by only five homers
last season, but the 6-2 lefthanded hitter is a complete player for his age ...
had a .411 on-base percentage and walked more than he struck out last year, a
sign of advanced plate discipline."
... Bobby Jenks ... possibly answered questions about his maturity after
posting fantastic numbers in the Arizona Fall League. Jenks, armed with a
mid-90s fastball and a power curveball, led the league in strikeouts (54) for
the second straight year. He did not allow a run and walked just five batters
over his first four starts, spanning 15 innings. Overall, he finished with a 1-1
record and a 1.08 ERA in nine outings ... If he can harness his emotions,
Jenks, already in minor league camp, will continue to rise in the organization
and could get a shot late in the season."
19 March, 2003
Boyd, Baseball America, on Joel Guzman LA :
... was much improved from a year ago. A physical specimen at just 18,
Guzman did a better job of hanging in and laying off breaking balls after nearly
jumping out of the batter's box against them last year. He showed
top-of-the-scale raw power during B.P., and then hammered an 0-2 fastball to
right-center for a double in his only at-bat on Saturday. The ball jumps off his
bat. In the field, while some project a move to third base down the road because
of his size, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder was agile and smooth, plus his arm
strength was rated at least a 65."
Kazmir NYN working on adding to his arsenal :
... If Kazmir can get his changeup down pat, he could be the complete package.
He has speed and poise and has already impressed many people in baseball. One
National League scout who followed Kazmir last spring can't stop raving about
him. The scout, who wished to remain anonymous, offered this analysis for
MLB.com. "This kid has electric stuff," the scout said. "He has
the makeup to play in New York. He has no fear. He may be one of those who, when
he makes it big, will walk around New York dressed like Walt Frazier. He's not
going to be intimidated by New York. "His stuff is similar to a [Ron]
Guidry or a [Mark] Langston. If he stays healthy, he's going to get [to the
Major Leagues] quick. He's a heckuva pick, especially where they got him. He's a
steal." And he's only 19. Kazmir's rise through the organization will take
time. But all indications are that the wait will be well worth it." (MLB.com)
20 March, 2003
Keller, SportsTicker, tags third baseman Andy Marte as the best of
the lower-level prospects on the Braves :
... The righthanded hitter finished at .281 with 32 doubles, 21 homers and 105
RBI in 126 games for Macon. His RBI total led the league and he was second in
homers and fourth with 32 doubles. He was selected the organization's Player of
the Year and to the SportsTicker All-Teen Team. His success at a tender age has
drawn comparisons to two former Macon teenagers, Andruw and Chipper Jones
... Marte is a four-tool prospect who lacks only above average speed. He's
got solid strike zone judgement for a youngster, a power bat, good movement at
the hot corner and a plus arm."
22 March, 2003
Loewen won his third straight Friday as Chipola won its conference opener
6-2 (15-5 overall). 3-4 at the plate. No further details available.
Loewen, the 4th overall pick in the 2002 draft, could end up back in this year's
draft. The Orioles have until May 27th to sign him or the club loses the
rights to the Canadian lefty. Earlier this week, Canadian Press had a
piece on the BC native :
... He hasn't allowed a run in 11 2-3 innings and surrendered just two hits and
three walks while striking out 16. At the plate, where Loewen has been
doubling as a clean-up hitter, he's batting .235 with one homer, three doubles
seven runs and 12 runs-batted in ... The Indians' coaching staff has adjusted
Loewen's mechanics and increased his fastball by two miles per hour, up to 96.
His off-speed pitches have become more effective and he's been throwing both his
curve and changeup for strikes in any count. "That's where he's really
turned the corner and made strides," said Chipola coach Jeff Johnson.
"He's really developed his curve ball, his changeup is even better. He's
done a few things mechanically to help his command. He doesn't rush out over the
front early and stays behind the ball."
... Some scouts have suggested that Loewen's future might lie as a hitter rather
than a pitcher. Johnson says he sees Loewen's potential as both, but believes
his arm is too impressive to pass on. "I think his future, right now, is as
a pitcher because he can be in the big leagues in a couple of years that
way," said Johnson. "Now can he be a big-time professional, big-league
hitter? "Yes, he could. I think it would take a bit more time. Right now,
the quickest track for him is as a left-handed pitcher." Loewen agrees.
"I see myself as a pitcher, ultimately," he said. "I love
hitting, I like it just as much as pitching. "I think I'm a lot more
polished as a pitcher. I've worked on it a lot more and that's what I want to
be. If I get to hit, too, that's just a bonus."
24 March, 2003
Gammons, ESPN.com, on Joe Mauer MIN :
... to say that he has been the talk of the Grapefruit League is no
exaggeration. Six scouts at a lunchroom table agreed that he is the best
catching prospect in 20 years. Veteran pitchers rave that he may be the best
catcher to whom they've ever thrown. Mauer has incredibly soft hands, gives
pitchers a relaxed target, has Pudge-like feet and a rocket arm, and can flat
rake. "He's so good we can't send him out because we want him catching big
league pitchers," said Garndenhire. While Mauer will open the season in the
Florida State League, if something were to happen to A.J. Pierzynski in the
second half, Mauer may well be the Twins' catcher ... "There's a reason we
drafted him No. 1 other than money or our stupidity," said Ryan. "He's
special, and we try not to get excited about players until they perform in the
big leagues. But he is different."
26 March, 2003
fulltime yet, but Chase Utley in line for a starting role in PHI (might
even hang on for a few weeks to start the season as the Phils get over some
... Utley knows his stay at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre shouldn't last too
long, probably no more than another season ... ``He's a good hitter and he knows
he can hit,'' Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. ``He's going to be a big league
second baseman somewhere. He's better than a lot of second basemen playing right
now.'' ... ``It's a good problem to have,'' Bowa said of the depth at
second base. While Polanco is a solid hitter and a fundamentally sound,
all-around player, Utley has more potential. He has already been compared to
Jeff Kent, a former NL MVP who has 252 career homers ... Bowa said he
doesn't expect Utley to hit 40 homers like Kent, but he's confident he can hit
at least 20 homers a season. ``He has the right mentality to play,'' Bowa said.
``He has the mental toughness. He doesn't like to fail." (Associated
Keller, SportsTicker, featured a pair of right-handers in his farm preview
of the Phillies :
... Ryan Madson ... After a subpar 2001, Madson rebounded with a stellar
2002. He led the Class AA Eastern League in wins with a 16-4 record and placed
third in ERA at 3.20. With a low-90s fastball and an outstanding curve, the
22-year-old racked up the second-most strikeouts (132) while walking 53 in 171
1/3 innings ... not as overpowering as his size would indicate, but he throws
... Gavin Floyd ... pitched a
no-hitter and had another broken up in the eighth inning for Class A Lakewood in
the South Atlantic League. The fourth overall pick allowed two runs or fewer in
16 of 27 starts and held hitters to a league-low .200 average -- exceptional
numbers for a first-year professional ... selected to SportsTicker's
All-Teen Team and it ranked him the second-best righthanded pitching prospect in
03 April, 2003
another top SP prospect out for the season. Jim Callis, Baseball
... lefthander Luke Hagerty learned that he has a tear in the ulnar
collateral ligament in his elbow, which will require Tommy John surgery and
cause him to miss the entire 2003 season. Hagerty had experienced no physical
problems during an impressive spring in minor league camp. Scouts from other
clubs were raving about his 94-95 mph fastball and his improved slider, and
wondered how he lasted until the 32nd overall pick in the 2002 draft. But while
warming up for his final spring-training start on Friday, he threw a slider and
felt a pop in his elbow. Hagerty immediately stopped throwing and was sent to
Chicago for an MRI on Tuesday—his 22nd birthday—which revealed the elbow
Wright NYN ready to show he belongs :
... I want to show people that haven't seen me that I could play," said
Wright, who was one of a handful of minor-leaguers that was with the big-league
club when it played the Baltimore Orioles in the spring training finale
Saturday. "It's flattering that I'm being called a big-time prospect. It's
an unbelievable honor. Now I have to back that up." ... The 20-year-old
third baseman is being touted as one of the Mets' more promising prospects, but
Wright appreciates just getting a chance. "I'm just so lucky to be playing
baseball," said Wright, who batted.266 with 11 home runs and 93 RBI for the
Capital City Bombers last season. "It's never easy." Drafted out of
Hickory (Va.) High in the first-round of the 2001 amateur draft, Wright has
caught attention with his all-around abilities. "He's plays the game the
way it should be played," said St. Lucie manager Ken Oberkfell, a former
major-league third baseman with St. Louis. "He's mature for his age. He's a
major-league prospect. This kid will play in the majors." (Palm Beach Post)
Buchholz PHI climbing the Phillies' prospect charts :
... No longer is he the anonymous kid whose whisper of a voice belied the
whistle of his fastball. His name, a nightmare for the spelling impaired during
his lesser-known days, is sprinkled across every list of top prospects. Baseball
America, widely considered the Bible of prospect periodicals, rated the
21-year-old the fourth-best prospect in the Phillies’ organization and placed
him at No. 88 on its esteemed Top 100 Prospects list. "I think I’m more
relaxed," said Buchholz. "I know what I need to do." Greg Legg
was Buchholz’s manager at Lakewood in 2001. He again will have Buchholz in his
rotation this season, this time at Double-A Reading. Legg noticed the difference
in Buchholz. "He grew a lot in the second half of that season (in
2001)," Legg said. "But when I got here this year, I could tell how
much he matured ever since that year. "He’s fun to watch pitch." ...
the Phillies particularly cautious when the slightest hint of tenderness flared
in Buchholz’s elbow last week. That prompted the organization to move his
first start of the Eastern League season back from Friday to Monday against
Bowie. While Reading came north over the weekend, Buchholz stayed back and
pitched an exhibition game yesterday in Clearwater ... "If
everything goes well," Legg said, "I could see him moving up to
Triple-A (Scranton-Wilkes-Barre) late in the season the way he moved to Double-A
last year. Then next season he’d start in Triple-A and be knocking on the door
for the majors in 2005 or maybe even late next season." (Trentonian)
Pente, Orioles Hangout, has an updated prospect list for BAL with a pair of
arms at the top :
... 1. Rommie Lewis - LHP Age: 20 ... Six-foot-six lefty could be the
next Erik Bedard, but hopefully without the arm injury. Has the frame and stuff
to be a top pitching prospect. Became an All-Star closer last season at just
19-years of age at Delmarva. He'll anchor Frederick's rotation this year and
could move quickly."
... 2. John Maine - RHP Age: 21 ... Orioles drafted Maine in the 6th
round of the 2002 draft ... tall, lanky right-hander signed quickly and
immediately impressed all who saw him by dominating Aberdeen hitters. He was
quickly promoted to Delmarva where he made quick work of Sally League hitters.
Consistently throws 92-93 MPH but can touch the mid 90s. He has the frame and
makeup to be something special quickly. He'll start the year at Delmarva with
the new regime preferring to go more slowly with their prospect than the
04 April, 2003
League guys to watch. Visalia Times-Delta :
... Casey Kotchman, 1b, Rancho Cucamonga ... regarded as the best first
baseman prospect by Baseball America ... compared to Texas Rangers all-star
Rafael Palmeiro. He walks more than he strikes out, which is rare for a player
his age (20), and has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. His main
problem is that he's been hit with an injury bug in his first two years. He only
played in 10 games after June last season. Playing in a hitter-friendly Cal
League, Kotchman could put up some monster offensive numbers that will rival any
player in the minors."
... Jeff Mathis, c, Rancho Cucamonga ... considered one of
the top three catching prospects in all of baseball. Mathis hit .287 for the
Angels' Midwest League affiliate, Cedar Rapids, with 10 home runs and 73 RBIs.
It's his bat that is expected to carry him to the big leagues, but Mathis is
also considered to be an above-average defender behind the plate."
... Brad Nelson, 1b, High Desert ... named the top prospect
in the Brewers organization by Baseball America. He hit .297 in Beloit (Midwest
League) last season with 17 home runs and 99 RBIs. There's probably only one or
two ballparks in minor league baseball that makes a hitter look better than
Maverick Stadium, nicknamed the Cal League's Coors Field. If Nelson stays in
High Desert for the entire first half and doesn't put up 20 home runs by July,
it's going to be a major surprise."
... Josh Barfield, 2b, Lake Elsinore: The son of former Toronto
Blue Jay star Jesse Barfield, doesn't hit with the type of power that his father
was known for, but is considered to be a top-flight middle infielder who can do
a little bit of everything ... plate discipline isn't the best around, though.
He struck out 105 times and walked only 26 in 2002."
... Nick Swisher, of, Modesto ... didn't have the best start to a
professional career by only hitting .240 with 4 home runs and 23 RBIs in 183
at-bats for the Oaks .... A's feel they have the makings of a solid,
middle-of-the-lineup center fielder. The Ohio State product should contend for
one of the all-star starting outfield spots."
... Francisco Liriano, lhp, San Jose ... throws in the high 90s,
and has flirted with 100 mph on the radar gun from time to time. The 19-year-old
also has an above-average slider and changeup. Last year in Hagerstown (South
Atlantic League), Liriano posted 85 strikeouts in 80 innings to go with his 3.49
earned run average. He limited hitters to a .210 batting average."
... Ryan Hannaman, lhp, San Jose: Hannaman is another left-hander
out of the same mold as Liriano. He throws in the mid-90s and has one of the
better sliders in the Giants organization. He went 7-6 for Hagerstown in 2002
with a 2.80 ERA, striking out 145 batters in 132 innings."
05 April, 2003
SportsTicker's Cubs preview, Angel Guzman gets the nod as the best of the
lower-level prospects (although Guzman is slated to begin in Double-A) :
... With a dangerous three-pitch arsenal, Guzman was impressive at two Class A
levels last year, improving his career mark to 21-6 with a 2.17 ERA. After
leading the short-season Class A Northwest League in wins (9) and ranking second
in ERA (2.23) in 2001, Guzman was dominant in the Class A Midwest League. In
nine starts, he went 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA and permitted just a .186 average
against. He made the seamless transition to the advanced Class A Florida State
league in late May and went 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 94 innings. The 21-year-old
Guzman has a low to mid-90s fastball and keeps hitters guessing with his curve
and baffling changeup. The native of Venezuela has been in control, issuing just
2.47 walks per nine innings since turning pro."
07 April, 2003
Chris Reed, Prospect Report, right on top of things (including Sunday's stats)
in his LA prospect preview. A couple of interesting picks :
... 3. Edwin Jackson ... had a strong year in Low A-South Georgia
at only 18-years old. The 6' 3" righthander packed a miniscule 1.98 ERA to
along with 7.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 ratios. While his ratios weren't eye popping,
they were impressive for such a young pitcher. By all accounts, Jackson's stuff
is explosive, though he needs to develop his off-speed pitches. His potential is
unknown, and he will be challenged in AA-Jacksonville. If he can repeat his
ratios at Double-A he will shoot up the charts."
... 4. Franklin Gutierrez ... flashed good potential at the plate in
2002, hitting .283 BA/ .344 OBP/ .454 SLG at Low A-South Georgia. While his
performance didn't earn him much press, it was special nonetheless for a 19-year
old in Single-A. As a 20-year old in High A-Vero Beach, Gutierrez is already off
to a blazing start, smacking 5 homeruns in 19 at bats ... This is even more
amazing considering the Florida State League is a notorious pitcher's league.
Gutierrez's peak projection going into the season was .277 BA/ .340 OBP/ .453
SLG. He has much more power potential than this projection lets on and he is a
12 April, 2003
Callis, Baseball America, on Lastings Milledge :
... Milledge may be the best all-around athlete in the draft. The 6-foot-1,
185-pounder has a lightning-quick bat to go with plus arm strength and speed
... while (Delmon) Young figures to be a top-five pick, Milledge could
slide past the upper half of the first round for a number of reasons. First and
foremost is his performance. Milledge struggled with wood bats at the BA/Perfect
Game World Wood Bat showcase last October, striking out 11 times and collecting
just three hits in eight games. He hasn't distinguished himself against 2-A
competition (the second-lowest of six classifications in Florida) this spring
... Scouts don't have a good handle on what it might take to sign Milledge, and fear it could be more than they want to pay. Also, he was
investigated last year for improper conduct with a female minor. Add it all up,
and there are teams shying away from Milledge. "Lastings Milledge could be
supremely disappointed," an American League scouting director said.
"There could be 15 college players drafted ahead of Milledge. It could be a
nightmare for him."
14 April, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Mark Phillips NYA :
... Phillips was San Diego's first-round pick in 2000, out of high school ...
has excellent stuff, including a fastball clocked as high as 96 mph, plus a
big-breaking curveball. His control is inconsistent, and his physical
conditioning has been questioned; he tends to gain weight easily. Phillips went
10-8 with a 4.19 ERA in the Class A California League last year. He fanned 156
and allowed just 123 hits in 148 innings, excellent statistical indicators of
his "stuff," but also walked 94, confirmation that he needs to improve
his command. He was one of the best prospects in the Padres system, and is now
one of the best in the Yankees system. He'll need at least another year, and
probably two, before challenging for a spot in the majors. He needs to stay in
shape, refine his command, and develop a better changeup. If he can do those
things, he would emerge as a top-notch starter. Think of him as Andy Pettitte
with a better fastball. But can he do those things and remain healthy? Time will
Sun on Adam Wainwright ATL :
... He's got a chance to have three-plus pitches. He's really athletic. He's
very poised, he's very intelligent, obviously he's progressing at a very steady
rate," or so Dayton Moore sang Wainwright's praises. Moore is the director
of player personnel for the Atlanta Braves and has another delightfully
intriguing pitching gem before him. Wainwright, a right-hander, has shown his
worthiness of being the 29th overall pick in the 2000 draft, striking out 351
batters the past two seasons in A-ball. With that, he was invited to the Futures
Games last summer, where his fastball was clocked at 96 mph and is no average
heater. It dances. Even better for Wainwright, his curveball makes his fastball
that much more effective. Now the Braves want him to incorporate a change-up.
"Sometimes Adam tends to be pretty with his delivery and too
conventional," Moore said. "He doesn't have to be perfect every time.
He's such a good athlete he doesn't have to worry about that as much."
15 April, 2003
Harden OAK, rave reviews :
... Everything about River Cats pitcher Rich Harden is fast -- his ascent
through the minor leagues, his no-nonsense style on the mound, his sneaky
fastball and his sprint to the dugout after finishing an inning ...
Harden's perfect-innings streak ended at 15 2/3, but he still drew rave reviews
from River Cats manager Tony DeFrancesco after his Triple-A debut ... Harden, a
17th-round draft pick whose fastball peaked at 95 mph. "I just wanted to
have a good outing. Unfortunately, I got the ball up a little in the
fifth." ... In 19 innings this season, the third-year pro has 25 strikeouts
and no walks. "He's so composed, and he just went at his business like he
normally does," said DeFrancesco, Harden's manager at Midland last season.
"He showed he can pitch at this level and dominate the game. "What
makes him special is that he's so free and easy throwing in the mid-90s, and it
all looks kind of effortless." Based on Harden's poise and maturity,
DeFrancesco doesn't believe his pitcher would be intimidated if the A's called
him to the majors this season. "If he's called up, he'll be ready,"
DeFrancesco said." (Sacramento Bee)
16 April, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Scott Kazmir NYN :
... New York's first-round pick in 2002 ... Kazmir is not just hype. He's one of
the best prospects in baseball and possibly the best southpaw prospect in the
game. Kazmir has fanned nine in his first 3.2 innings this year. This is on the
heels of his 34/7 strikeout/walk ratio in 18 innings last year in the New
York-Penn League, extremely impressive for a guy just a few months out of high
school. Kazmir has electric stuff, drawing comparisons to Billy Wagner. He'll
need to refine his command a bit, but some scouts think he'll be close to the
major leagues within a year or two, again very rapid progress for a high school
pitcher. Injuries are always a risk with young pitchers, so by definition Kazmir
is not a sure thing. But no, his prospect status isn't just a reflection of
intensive New York media attention."
on Sean Burnett PIT :
... Burnett has started two games so far for Double-A Altoona, and has thrown
well, allowing just six hits and a run in 10.2 innings with two walks. He's also
fanned NINE, much better than last year's ratio. Granted the sample size is
minuscule. But if he can add a strong K/IP mark to his already excellent K/BB
and ERA ratios, he will remove any lingering doubts about his status as one of
the top southpaw prospects in the game. He doesn't have the best fastball in the
universe, but he changes speeds with aplomb, throws strikes, and as you mention
is extremely poised."
18 April, 2003
Everts tops the chart in Chris Reed's (Prospect Report) look at MON's
... Everts teamed up with Scott Kazmir at Cypress Falls HS in Texas to form the
prep version of the Johnson/Schilling duo. Everts has three potential plus
pitches and won't turn 19 until mid-August. He's starting the year in extended
spring training and will make his professional debut in the New York-Penn
short-season league. He should see a promotion to Low A-Savannah by the end of
the year. He has ace potential and is easily the best prospect in the Montreal
23 April, 2003
Callis, Baseball America, on Vince Perkins TOR :
... The Blue Jays have been high on Perkins since they signed him as a
draft-and-follow out of Lake City (Fla.) CC in 2001. An 18th-round pick in 2000,
he spent his first two pro years at short-season Auburn, posting two eye-popping
numbers: 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings and a .208 opponent batting average.
Coming into 2002, Perkins' lack of command and an effective changeup led to some
projections that he could become a John Wettelandesque closer with his mid-90s
fastball and upper-80s slider. Toronto obviously will leave him in the rotation
as long as it can, hoping he'll refine the changeup to go with two possible
plus-plus pitches. He has nine walks this year, but he's making progress. At 21,
he has plenty of time."
Times on Kazuo Matsui :
... Seattle scouts ... have watched Little Matsui for years. Scouts are headed
back to Japan soon, possibly this week, to take another look. When they see him
this time, the switch-hitter (since 1996) will no longer be hitting in his
customary leadoff spot. Lions manager Haruki Ihara has dropped Matsui to third
in hopes of boosting his team's run production ... "He makes sense either
hitting first or third," said an American League scout who has seen Matsui
several times. "He has explosive speed. He may be even faster than Ichiro.
He has good power, too, and he puts the bat on the ball."
... Into this weekend, Matsui, usually a slow starter, had played 19 games, was
hitting .291 with four homers (the first on Opening Day), 10 runs batted in and
four steals. He has turned 14 double plays and made four errors, an anomaly for
him after he made nine errors in each of the past two seasons."
... No doubt Little Matsui is a top-level player in his country, hitting between
.308 and .332 the past five seasons, with home-run totals climbing in that time
from nine to 36 while stealing between 26 and 43 bases. In addition to winning
the Pacific League MVP in 1998, he has won three Gold Gloves and led the league
several times in hits, singles, doubles, triples and steals. This spring, he
went through prolonged five- to six-hour workouts to improve his footwork"
25 April, 2003
Boyd, Baseball America, on Franklin Gutierrez LA :
... He is just taking it to the next level," said Jeff Schugel, Dodgers
special assistant to the general manager. "He turned it up a notch."
... "He has tremendous balance at the plate," Schugel said. "He
has a quick bat and a chance to have power to all fields. The one thing he maybe
needs to improve is his plate discipline and pitch recognition, and that’s
something were emphasizing." ... "I think there is more power to
come," Schugel said. "He is a medium-frame guy (6-foot-2, 170 pounds),
with room to fill out and get stronger. He has special hands and wrists to
generate really good bat speed."
Soriano SEA, pegged as a future star :
... He's got an electric arm," Tacoma pitching coach Jim Slaton said.
"And he has a nice, easy motion. He has what people like to call an
'afterburner.' The ball comes in nice and easy ... and then it's got pop to it
at the end." ... Tacoma outfielder Adrian Myers, who played with Soriano
last season at San Antonio, said that Soriano's stuff appears even better this
season. "Even from just last year, it seems as if he has better command of
his slider and change-up," Myers said. "When a guy can throw 93, 94
(mph) and then you have other pitches you throw for strikes ... that makes a
hitter think." Soriano's biggest challenge is developing confidence in
pitches other than his fastball, which occasionally reaches 97 mph. He's not
afraid to throw his slider when behind in the count, but the Mariners think that
he needs to throw it - and his fast-developing change-up - more often. "As
a starter, he has to develop two other pitches - his change-up and slider,"
Looper said. (Tacoma News Tribune)
26 April, 2003
Callis, Baseball America, on Jeremy Guthrie CLE :
... Because he went on a Mormon mission in the middle of his college career,
Guthrie is already 24. With three plus pitches (fastball, slider, changeup),
he'll get his share of strikeouts, but he's not a power pitcher. I wouldn't be
too concerned about his strikeout totals through his first four pro starts. He's
2-0, 1.86 with 11 whiffs and six walks in 19 innings, and opponents are hitting
.206 against him. His ceiling is as a No. 2 starter and he'll likely get his
first taste of Cleveland sometime after the all-star break. Because he signed a
major league contract, the Indians won't have to expend a precious 40-man roster
spot when they decide to call him up."
Boyd, Baseball America, on Zach Greinke KC :
... Stud. He has proven it against much more experience competition in Puerto
Rico over the winter, against big leaguers in spring training and in high Class
A. He has an uncanny feel to pitch, not often found in a high school kid during
his first year. The Bret Saberhagen comparisons might not be far off, and
Greinke might be good every year, not just every other year like Sabes."
Boyd, on Bobby Jenks ANA :
... His ceiling is No. 1 starter--a Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens type. The risk
factor is obvious with Jenks, and to be a true No. 1, you need to be sharp
mentally and physically on the mound every five days. Jenks may evolve into that
pitcher, but his command is likely to knock him down a couple notches. And there
is always the possibility that he heads to the pen as a Troy Percival like
closer if he can't stay in the rotation."
27 April, 2003
Pouliot, Rotoworld, on Dewon Brazelton, Jason Arnold & JJ Hardy :
... Ready or not, Dewon Brazelton will join Tampa Bay’s rotation soon.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 draft actually made a couple of starts for
the Rays last September, posting a 4.85 ERA. He was expected to be in the
rotation to start this year, but knee and groin problems limited him throughout
the spring. He was able to start the minor league season on time and has gone
1-1 with a 3.07 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Durham. Brazelton doesn’t
seem to get mentioned when the truly elite pitching prospects are being
discussed, but he should be, even if he is a Devil Ray. The 22-year-old has a
mid-90s fastball and complements it with an outstanding changeup ... .For the
short term, Brazelton probably isn’t a great investment in fantasy leagues.
The stuff is there, but the consistency probably won’t be, not
... Jason Arnold ... Blue Jays see him as a possible No. 2 starter.
Arnold isn’t a favorite of scouts, in part because his delivery can be
inconsistent and his weight has been a problem in the past. However, his numbers
have been outstanding and he has the stuff to back it up ... There’s a pretty
good chance that Arnold will reach the majors in the second half of this
... J.J. Hardy ... No one questions Hardy’s defense, and the
20-year-old appears to have broken through offensively in his third professional
season. If he keeps this up for another month or two, he’ll deserve a place
alongside the game’s other top shortstop prospects."
also attracted the attention of David Cameron, Strike Three :
... One of the more remarkable turns of the season has been the about-face J.J.
Hardy (#89 on the Top 100) has pulled ... he's beginning the season in
AA at the age of 20 and is coming off a less-than-awesome season in high-A. The
Brewers have pushed him aggressively through the system despite the fact that
he'd shown no plate discipline to speak of. Chalk one up for Milwaukee. After
drawing 28 walks in 481 at-bats last year, Hardy has drawn 15 walks against just
nine strikeouts in 78 ABs this year. He's also showing big-time power as 12 of
his 26 hits went for extra bases. He's adding a .333 batting average to the
power and patience, making him one of the best hitters in the Southern League
despite his age. Hardy has clearly made the adjustments necessary to fulfilling
his potential and the Brewers should get credit for recognizing a player who had
the ability to get pushed through the system."
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Jeff Mathis ANA :
... (Joe) Mauer is almost universally regarded as the best catching prospect in
baseball, but Mathis isn't far behind. He has a well-respected glove, and a bat
that deserves more notice than it has received thus far. At Class A Cedar Rapids
last year, Mathis hit .287 with 41 doubles (a sign of more power to come) and 10
homers. He's hit .271/.343/.390 so far in 16 games in the Class A California
League this year, a decent start. Mathis is athletic, has power, does a decent
job controlling the strike zone, and has a great work ethic. I think you made a
good investment. Young catchers have a tendency to stagnate offensively, likely
a result of the nagging injuries and various bumps and bruises that are part and
parcel of their difficult profession. Will that happen to Mathis, or Mauer for
that matter? We don't know at this point. But as young catchers go, they are
definitely in the elite category."
Sickels on a hole in the Cubs' farm system --
... More promising is Class A Daytona shortstop Luis Montanez, who is off
to a slow start hitting .195 thus far. He's the best shortstop prospect in the
system according to scouts, as befitting a former first-round pick, but his
defense is way ahead of his offense at this point, and even his defense needs
improvement. He's athletic, but hasn't consistently hit well since reaching
full-season ball due to erratic strike zone judgment. It is far too early to
give up on him of course ... All in all, Montanez remains the best long-term
shortstop prospect the Cubs have, but he has a lot to prove."
Rookies 2003 Page Four