at BA, Kevin Goldstein has a review of the Yankee system "
... Dioner Navarro, c: Nicknamed "Pudgito" because of
his size and defensive prowess, Navarro's bat began to match that of Ivan
Rodriguez as well. After hitting just .238 in 2002, Navarro shot up the charts
with a .321-7-65 campaign in 110 games between Tampa and Trenton, and he doesn't
turn 20 until next February."
... Top Draft Pick: Eric Duncan, 3b ... The Yankees had there eye
on Duncan throughout the spring, and were more than happy to take him when he
was still on the board with the 27th overall pick. Duncan has fantastic hitting
mechanics; Rookie-level Gulf Coast League managers rated him the best prospect
in the league. A move from third to first base is likely in his future."
Callis, Baseball America, on the Yankee farm :
... Outside of Navarro, the Yankees don't have any standout talent in the
upper levels. And the most impressive numbers put up by many of their
high-ceiling prospects are their young ages, rather than their on-field
production ... Navarro is a fine all-around backstop, but my guess is he'll rank
in the bottom third when we come out with our Top 100 Prospects list next
Callis on David DeJesus KC :
... DeJesus, who hit .308/.414/.472 between Double-A and Triple-A at age 23 this
year, would be a nice fit atop the Kansas City order. He has more on-base
ability than anyone in the Royals lineup except for Beltran and Mike Sweeney.
DeJesus doesn't have outstanding tools, but he makes the most of what he has and
owns sharp instincts. He runs well and gets good jumps on the bases and in
center field. The biggest question about DeJesus is his ability to stay healthy.
He hurt his elbow in his final college game at Rutgers in 2000, signed as a
fourth-round pick and couldn't make his pro debut until 2002. He missed roughly
half the 2003 season with arm and shoulder injuries."
04 Nov, 2003
Magruder, Baseball America, on Rickie Weeks MIL :
... "He has soft hands. He's obviously got a strong enough arm to play
anywhere,'' Saguaros manager Frank Kremblas (Brewers) said. "He just needs
to learn the little things around the bag, turning the double play. He looks
good turning the double play. He's actually turned some really nice ones lately.
His athletic ability does that for him.'' Weeks is hitting .298-0-7 in 51
at-bats in the AFL with six stolen bases in as many attempts. He has 15
strikeouts, certainly a function of facing quality arms with more command and
better breaking balls than he has seen. Not that he is backing down. Weeks, a
righthanded hitter, sets up right on top of the plate and was hit by two pitches
in one game last week."
... Only three months out of college, Weeks has a shown a masters in
nose-to-the-grindstone. Unlike No. 1 pick Delmon Young, who said last week he
believed he could play in the majors next season, Weeks said his only goal for
2004 is to improve. Kremblas said what he liked best about Weeks was upstairs.
"He's pretty disciplined up there. Pretty matter of fact," Kremblas
said. "You don't see a lot of guys who get drafted, then are playing
against pretty good competition, and not be a little bit intimidated or gun shy
or whatever it is, just because it is new, everything's new. But it's like he
stepped right in.''
05 Nov, 2003
Goldstein, Baseball America, cites a pair of DH/1B types as emerging prospects
in the OAK system :
... Dan Johnson, 1b: Former Nebraska slugger built on his breakout
campaign in 2002, hitting .290-27-114 and leading the Texas League in home runs
and RBIs. Big and slow, he'll need to continue this type of production, as he's
limited to a 1b/dh role. Graham Koonce, 1b: A 28-year-old 60th
round pick (1993) who spent two years playing indy ball in the Western League,
Koonce hit .277-34-115 at Sacramento, leading the minors in home runs and
drawing 98 walks. Deserves Scott Hatteberg's job."
And, a few lines on OAK's top pick :
... Brad Sullivan, rhp ... tired after a tremendous workload
at Houston (which included playing second base for the first time in his
career), and slipped out of the first half of the first round because of a
late-season fade. He signed late, and was given some perfunctory innings at Kane
06 Nov, 2003
Perry, FoxSports, wraps the team-by-team Top 10s with a review of the COL
... 1. Chin-Hui Tsao, RHP, Age: 22 ... can hit the mid-90s on occasion
with his fastball, and his slider is absolutely devastating. Tsao also has made
good progress with his changeup, so he has the repertoire to succeed as a
starter. In 2000, he blew away the Sally League, posting a 4.7 K/BB ratio in 145
innings, but the next season he injured his elbow and lost a year after
undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2002, which should've been a lost year for
him, at least statistically speaking, he again dominated. This past season, he
breezed through the Texas League, showing outstanding command and striking out
more than a batter per inning. That earned him a promotion to the bigs, and once
there he held his own. Injury aside, he's the best pitching prospect in
baseball. Expect great things from him if he can stay healthy."
... 2. Ian Stewart, 3B, Age: 18 ... tenth overall pick of the June draft
... He's indisputably one of the best pure hitters in the draft, and his skills
were on display after signing, when he laid waste to the Pioneer League.
Managers in the Pioneer League voted him the circuit's best prospect, and scouts
absolutely drool over his raw-power potential. There's some question as to
whether he has the glove to stick at third, but he'll hit no matter where he
plays. He's a long way from the majors, but his offensive potential is
07 Nov, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Bobby Jenks ANA :
... Physically, Jenks has everything. His fastball can reach 100 mph on a good
day, and even on a "bad" day it's in the 94-96 range, with movement
... also has an excellent curveball, and he's learned to throw strikes with it.
He even has a good changeup that he's starting to use more. With three plus
pitches, Jenks can overpower just about anyone when he keeps the ball in the
strike zone. His biggest problem has been mechanics. While his delivery is
smooth when done correctly, he doesn't always repeat it well, leading to control
problems and concerns about injury. Jenks made huge strides in 2003, learning
how to change speeds more effectively and keep people off balance, making a
transition from thrower to pitcher. He still has work to do improving his
command, but progress has been considerable."
... Jenks dominated the Texas League in 2003, with extremely impressive K/IP and
H/IP ratios. He still walks too many batters, but it didn't hurt him much at
Arkansas, and his performance was substantially better than in '02 or '01. He
keeps the ball down, and hitters have a very hard time driving the ball against
him. He still needs to get his walk rate down to prosper at higher levels."
... This guy has everything it takes, physically, to be a superstar. The
question is, will he develop the emotional maturity to take advantage of his
11 Nov, 2003
LaRoche bidding for spot with ATL next season (perhaps with some mound work
too) ... Wilson Betemit, another setback :
... The Braves had hoped that switch-hitter Wilson Betemit, who just turned 22,
might be ready to step in at third base by next season. Now that seems unlikely,
although Schuerholz and director of player personnel Dayton Moore remain
enamored by the Dominican's raw talent. "Don't count him out,"
Schuerholz said. "He's still very young and is still developing." But
Betemit suffered another setback when he tore ligaments in his right thumb in a
mishap while playing catch at the Braves' Florida instructional camp. He won't
be ready to play in the Dominican Republic Winter League."
... Adam LaRoche may still try his luck someday as a left-handed reliever like
father Dave, whose 14-year career is probably best remembered for the occasional
"LaLob" blooper pitch ... Playing for Class AA Greenville and Richmond
last season, LaRoche hit 20 homers and dazzled everyone with his glove.
"He's a John Olerud-type," Schuerholz said, offering LaRoche high
praise. "He has a natural swing and great hands at first base."
LaRoche was named the best defensive first baseman in both leagues and was named
the No. 6 prospect in the International League. Not bad for someone that most
teams looked at only as a pitching prospect coming out of high school, when he
was drafted by Florida during the 13th round in 1998 ... "We
obviously think he's a big-league first baseman," Moore said. "But
there is still that possibility that he could also be a situational left-hander
out of the bullpen someday. I know that he'd like to keep that option open and
so would we. Right now, though, his focus needs to be on his
hitting." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
12 Nov, 2003
the 2004 season is around the corner ... Baseball America has begun its Top10s
with ATL the first up. BA's Bill Ballew has 20-year-old third
baseman Andy Marte as the cream of the Braves' farm crop :
... has a quick, line-drive stroke that continues to add power as his body
matures. His pitch recognition is as good as anyone's in the system, and he has
the uncanny ability to make adjustments with his swing while the ball is on the
way to the plate. For a young player, he already understands the importance of
drawing walks and made significant strides in that area ... Marte's desire to
succeed is strong, yet he never lets his emotions get the best of him. His
ability to stay on an even keel and separate the different aspects of the game
has put him on the fast track to the major leagues."
... the Braves are confident Marte will develop into no worse than an average
defender at the hot corner ... He's the best third-base prospect in the minors
and unquestionably the Braves' long-term answer at the hot corner. The Braves
want Marte to spend most of the upcoming season at Double-A Greenville, but his
progress and the needs in Atlanta could accelerate his ETA. He should make his
big league debut no later than a September callup."
13 Nov, 2003
Ballew, Baseball America, with a little more on the ATL Top 10 (BTW, along with
Wilson Betemit, Kelly Johnson also missed BA's Top ATL 10) :
... Jeff Francouer ... He reminds me of former Brave Dale Murphy. That
includes his makeup and all-around abilities. Compared to today's players,
Francouer might be a Jim Edmonds type of player, hopefully healthier ... The
Braves believe Francouer has as high a ceiling as anyone in the organization as
well as the game. His plate discipline does need improvement."
... Macay McBride ... I'm still high on McBride. I disagree with people
who say he doesn't project to be much more than he is. McBride is a fighter with
three solid pitches and a great feel for what he's doing on the mound. He has
and will continue to make adjustments and will be a middle of the rotation
starter for someone in the major leagues ... In high school, McBride was
compared to Billy Wagner, but he's more of a Tom Glavine clone now with a little
more mustard on the fastball and an outstanding slider."
... Richard Lewis ... He could be a solid second baseman in the big
leagues, but not a top-tier guy. He came from Georgia Tech, so he's facing the
same type of competition in the AFL that he saw in college. He's having an
excellent fall, but the numbers have to be there all year in order for him to be
deemed a potential starter at the game's top level."
... Bubba Nelson ... Nelson is a stud. I think he has a much better shot
at the fifth starter's role for 2004 than Wainwright. The Braves sent him to
Richmond at the end of the 2003 season as a reliever in order to prepare him for
a possible callup to Atlanta. He'll be back in the starting rotation in 2004,
either in Richmond or, possibly, Atlanta ... I think Bubba Nelson has the best
shot at being a number one starter. I believe comparisons can be made between
Nelson and another former Brave minor leaguer, Jason Schmidt."
14 Nov, 2003
Levesque, Baseball America, is out with the 2004 MON Top 10 and it looks
much the same as the 2003 list. The top two remain the same.
... Clint Everts ... The victim of tight pitch counts and poor run
support, he went just 2-7 in 2003 but pitched better than his record would
indicate. Promoted to low Class A Savannah on his 19th birthday, he allowed two
runs or fewer in four of his five starts, but went 0-3 ... Everts is an
outstanding athlete with a projectable body and the makings of three plus major
league pitches. He has a solid, balanced delivery and a clean, easy arm action,
which enables him to generate lightning-quick arm speed. His fastball sat at
88-92 mph with good movement in 2003, and he should increase his velocity as he
adds strength to his slender frame ... He didn't turn 19 until late in the
season, so he's well ahead of most pitchers his age ... With Everts' stuff, he
can fly through the Montreal system. He's expected to start 2004 at Savannah and
could be at high Class A Brevard County by midseason. He has the potential to be
a top-of-the-rotation starter in the majors."
... Mike Hinckley ... . rapidly developing into one of the top lefthanded
pitching prospects in the game ... projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter in the
majors. He should start 2004 with Brevard County, but with a good spring he
could surprise and open the season with Double-A Harrisburg."
top players in the Arizona Fall League end with a flourish. Dewon
Brazelton the pitching star, Jason Dubois the big man at the plate in
the AFL final :
... Dewon Brazelton, earlier named the top right-handed starter in the Fall
League, picked up win No. 5 in Arizona with six solid innings, allowing just two
hits and striking out four ... The Sox scratched out a run in the second
inning when AFL Joe Black MVP-winner Jason Dubois (Cubs) hit a one-out double.
Devil Rays top draft pick Delmon Young followed with an infield hit in the hole
at short that A's prospect Freddie Bynum fielded and threw errantly to first.
The ball trickled into the dugout, allowing Dubois to come home with the first
run of the ballgame. The way Brazelton was dealing, that was really all he
needed. It was his longest outing of the AFL season, and one that meant a little
something more than his previous experiences. "It was the first time I ever
felt nervous in the Fall League," Brazelton said. "I felt a little
nervous for a minute or two, but after the first inning, I settled into my
groove. I wanted to stay with what got me here."
... Brazelton should compete for a spot in the Devil Rays' rotation next spring,
and he hopes his performance this fall, and particularly in this championship
game, will help him in that quest. "If I can keep calm in a game like
this," Brazelton said, "hopefully I can work it into big league games,
into more important games." (Jonathan Mayor, MLB.com)
Callis, Baseball America, on Jason Stokes FLO & Justin Jones
... Stokes does chase pitches out of the strike zone, but he also has tremendous
power and is just 21. I attribute his lukewarm .258/.312/.448 performance in the
high Class A Florida State League in great part to his offseason wrist surgery.
His wrist is fine now, but it takes a while to regain strength after that kind
of operation. If Stokes can gain some plate discipline, he'll be a major league
star. If he doesn't, he'll put up numbers like the 2000-03 version of Jeromy
... I'm still tinkering with my Cubs rankings ... but it looks like Jones is
going to rank second behind Angel Guzman. The reason he has yet to get much
mention ... Jones wasn't a first-round pick (he was a second-rounder in 2002)
and hasn't pitched above low Class A. His exposure also was cut short this year
when he was shut down after 71 innings with a tired arm. Jones was 18 this
season, and at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds he should only get stronger. His stuff is
already plenty good ... If he stays healthy and improves the consistency of his
pitches, he'll push himself into the Greinke / Hamels / Kazmir/Miller group.
Jones could have a huge year in the pitching-friendly FSL in 2004."
17 Nov, 2003
America is moving right along with its Top 10s ... PHI is up and Cole Hamels is
at the top of the ladder :
... His combined 1.34 ERA would have led the minors had Hamels accumulated 11
more innings to qualify. He allowed just 15 earned runs and not a single home
run all season. His command, stuff and pitchability allowed him to edge Gavin
Floyd for the top spot on this list, and being lefthanded also aided Hamels'
... should have three above-average pitches when he reaches the majors. He
already shows plus command of a fastball that sits between 89-92 mph ...best
pitch might be his plus-plus changeup ... shows a very businesslike mentality on
the mound, with no great highs or lows. He's a great athlete, allowing him to
repeat his delivery with ease, hold runners and field his position well ...
Hamels hasn't experienced any repercussions from his high school arm injury. A
pulled muscle in his right shoulder blade caused the Phillies to remove him from
the trials for USA Baseball's Olympic qualifying team. Club officials didn't
want to risk Hamels altering his mechanics to cope. The minor injury isn't a
long-term concern, and he should begin 2004 on schedule by returning to high
Class A Clearwater. He'll be challenged in Double-A Reading as soon as he proves
he's ready, and will continue his rapid development toward becoming a frontline
Gavin Floyd was the
runnerup, with first
baseman Ryan Howard third.
18 Nov, 2003
Boyd, Baseball America, has ranked the Top 20 from the Arizona Fall League
... and a pair of TB prospects shortstop BJ Upton and outfielder Delmon
Young top the list :
... Playing just twice a week on the taxi squad, Upton had more than ample time
to establish himself as the best prospect in the league, perhaps the best in
baseball. More than just a raw package of tools, Upton combines premium
athleticism with a good swing and quick wrists to produce lightning-quick bat
speed and surprising raw power ... an American League scout said.
"You're not going to see this much in your baseball career. I don't even
know if I can name you a handful of guys who do it this easy." Unlike many
young hitters, Upton already has a polished approach with a good idea of the
... 2. Delmon Young ... announced his arrival in pro ball with some bold
predictions about his ETA, and then he let his bat make a few statements of its
own. Albert Belle comparisons, "minus the makeup," as a National
League scout pointed out, are in full effect. Young elicits such lofty
expectations with outstanding power to all fields. "He keeps his hands in
pretty good," the AL scout said. "And hits the ball the other way real
well. He has some real instincts for hitting. He still has a ways to go,
naturally, with some breaking balls, but he is a patient hitter with gargantuan
Boyd also made his picks as the best of the
starters -- Dustin Nippert ARZ ranked ahead of Dewon Brazelton
as the top righty, while the Cards' Tyler Johnson rated as the
best of the lefties.
news, John Sickels will be back with a 2004 edition of the Baseball
Prospect Book. Further info (within a week or so) at johnsickels.com.
Pre-orders appreciated. Meanwhile, at ESPN.com, Sickels offers some views
on a trio of the AFL stars :
... Jason Dubois ... he's produced both batting average and power at
every level. Dubois turns 25 this coming March, so he's not exactly young as
prospects go. He has a lot of competition in the Cubs system, but he's done
enough to deserve a shot at higher levels, especially after his AFL performance.
How much should we worry about his strike-zone judgment? ... He's a big guy with
a sweeping swing, and hits the ball a long way when he gets his arms extended
... I do worry about his ability to adjust at higher levels. He's
potentially vulnerable to breaking pitches outside the strike zone, as well as
fastballs in on his fists. I want to see how he handles Triple-A."
... Ramon Ramirez ... Although he is short (listed 5-foot-11), his
fastball gets to 93 mph, he has a good slider and throws strikes. Ramirez was
used as a starter in Arizona, but I think he projects better as a middle
reliever. He is 22, and likely needs additional exposure at the higher levels,
but he should be regarded as a sleeper prospect, and one of the more interesting
players in a thin Yankees farm system."
... Casey Kotchman ... None of these injuries are phony or
exaggerated. This isn't a guy who is refusing to play through minor problems. He
is a tough kid, and would play through these things if he could. But you can't
play through a torn hammy or a fractured wrist. Some of this stuff has been a
fluke (beaning, a ground ball in the face), but the hamstring problem is
worrisome. Those kinds of injuries can be chronic. None of the wounds have
impacted his playing ability, but you have to wonder if his body can hold up
under the daily grind of 150 games. I don't know enough about such things to
make a firm judgment on Kotchman's future health. I have no questions about his
talent, but yeah, there is reason to be concerned about his durability ... On
pure talent alone, Kotchman may be the best hitter in the minor leagues. If he's
not the best, he's the second or third-best. He hits for average, controls the
strike zone exceptionally well, and is improving his power production. He's also
a stellar defensive first baseman."
20 November, 2003
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Andy Marte ATL :
... He has power to all fields, can pull the ball for home runs, or hit to the
opposite field gap when needed. He still needs to improve his plate discipline,
but he made huge strides in that regard last year, increasing his walk rate
substantially ... Marte has enough range to play shortstop in some farm
systems, though the Braves have kept him at third base since he doesn't have
much pure speed. His arm is strong and accurate, and he has soft hands ...
On the surface, Marte's 2003 numbers look much like his '02 numbers. But Myrtle
Beach is a horrible place to hit, making his numbers better than they look. He
hit as well at home as he did on the road, unusual for players in that park ...
. After a mediocre April, he hit four homers in each of May, June, July, and
August, hitting over .300 in two of those four months. The increase in his walk
rate over 2002 was notable, and his strikeouts are not out of bounds given his
youth and power ... Marte is likely at least a year away from the major
leagues. But the experience of Miguel Cabrera in 2003 shows how quickly players
can advance if the opportunity is there ... In the long run, Marte should
be a tremendous player, assuming he has a normal growth curve and maintains
decent command of the zone."
Pouliot, RotoWorld, has a wrap on the Arizona Fall League. A few
of the entries :
... Dewon Brazelton ... It wasnít until after Brazelton received a
month off that he bounced back and reemerged as a top prospect. His 36
strikeouts led the AFL, and he pitched six scoreless innings Saturday to lead
the Solar Sox to a win in the leagueís championship game. Brazelton still has
No. 2 starter upside, and as long as he has a decent spring, he should have a
spot in next yearís rotation. Heíll be a sleeper."
... Jonny Gomes ... redeemed himself by leading the AFL in
OPS. Because he strikes out a great deal, Gomes has never been the favorite of
scouts. But unlike a lot of power-and-patience prospects, he actually has pretty
good speed. He should be ready to be a solid left fielder for some team in 2005.
The Rays likely will try to trade him for pitching."
... Brendan Harris ... Harris closely resembles the pre-2003 Bill
Mueller. Heíll probably be a decent regular for a team that appreciates what
he does. Unless he can come through with a big 2004 at Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs
may not be that team."
... Dustin Nippert ...With his mid-90s fastball and
impressive curve, Nippert has quickly emerged as one of Arizonaís top pitching
prospects. The 2002 15th-round pick limited hitters to a .191 average and had a
96/32 K/BB ratio in 95 2/3 IP for Single-A South Bend last season. Whether or
not he can stay healthy is a big question mark, but if he avoids arm troubles,
he could make it to Arizona as soon as 2005."
Berardino, Baseball America, picks outfielder Jeremy Hermida as the
best of the FLO prospects :
... Some scouts called Hermida the best high school hitter since Eric Chavez.
Others saw a young Andy Van Slyke or Paul O'Neill. Hermida himself identified
more with Shawn Green. Whichever comparison you prefer, there's no denying his
polished hitting approach and advanced maturity. He has a smooth, quick stroke,
top-notch plate discipline, a strong work ethic and first-rate makeup ...
hasn't shown much power so far but the Marlins believe that will increase as he
adds lift to his swing and bulk to his tall, lean, broad-shouldered frame. Some
see him as a 25-plus homer man in the majors ... should start 2004 at high Class
A Jupiter, but a midyear promotion to Double-A Carolina isn't out of the
question. He could arrive in the majors by the end of 2005 if he continues on
this career path."
Bernadino on Jason Stokes :
... There's still a chance Stokes will be in the majors at some point in 2004,
but more likely that will be a September callup and nothing more. He had a
disappointing year at Jupiter, then struggled badly in the Arizona Fall League.
He has to regain the momentum he built up with a monster 2002 in the Midwest
League ... talked to one scout in
Arizona who predicted he'd be a "bust," doubting everything from his
body type to his bat speed. We'll see. The guy has epic power and showed
big-time plate discipline at Kane County. He needs to get back on track soon."
On Jeff Allison :
... Everybody says this kid is the Hub version of Josh Beckett, and after what
we saw last month the Marlins have to be pretty excited about that. Like Josh,
Allison is cocky and talented. Both were tested at high levels during their prep
careers. Both throw in the mid to high 90s with big-breaking curveballs. Beckett
was the more physically developed of the two coming out of high school, but
Allison's work ethic and desire will help him narrow the gap. ETA? Just a guess,
but I could see him making it to the majors by the end of 2005 ... Can he
be a No. 1? It's VERY early, but he certainly fits the profile."
Josh Willingham as Mike Piazza ?
... Whoa there ... While both converted to catcher in the minors and overcame
late-round biases, Piazza's production was well beyond Willingham's at an
earlier age. When Piazza hit 29 homers at Bakersfield in 1991, he was 22.
Willingham opened last year in A-ball and will be 25 next Opening Day. No way
Willingham sticks out of spring training, Pudge or no Pudge. He still needs
polish behind the plate and at the plate. A midyear arrival, though, could
happen if Pudge walks. ... Considering he only began catching at instructional
league in 2002, his improvement the past year has been astounding. You also must
factor in his minor knee surgery that interrupted his time at Double-A Carolina.
If he must move, he could wind up back in left field. His bat will force the
Marlins to find a position for him, although he said he threw out close to 25
percent of opposing basestealers this year. Not bad for a rookie C."
Kazmir sits atop Baseball America's Top 10 on the Mets. JJ Cooper says
he's the best NYN young gun since Dwight Gooden :
... Kazmir's 94-96 mph fastball ranks as one of the best in baseball ...
81-84 mph slider is also a well above-average pitch, and it has good tilt and a
sharp break. It projects to get nastier in the future, because he should throw
harder as he fills out. His fastball-slider combination can be unhittable, as
Kazmir proved by easily leading minor league starters with 11.9 strikeouts per
nine innings. Kazmir also shows a major league changeup at times ...
If he's going to be a true No. 1 starter, he'll have to be able to work more
efficiently. Some scouts wonder if Kazmir's build will lend itself to the
durability needed for a starter, and he had a tender elbow at the start of the
season ... Kazmir is the Mets' most promising pitching prospect since Dwight
Gooden, though he's much less likely to go straight from Class A to the majors
like Gooden did. While Kazmir finished the season in St. Lucie, it wouldn't be a
surprise if the Mets started him off back in high Class A in 2004 to avoid the
April chills in the Double-A Eastern League ... could see Shea Stadium at
some point in 2005."
baseman David Wright is ranked No.2 ahead of Matt Peterson, Lastings
Milledge and Justin Huber :
... At his best, Wright is a scout's dream. He flashes the potential to be a
.300 hitter with 25-30 homers and 80-plus walks. He makes all the plays at third
base. He's one of the best in the minors at charging bunts and choppers, and he
also shows a major league arm with good accuracy."
on Huber :
... Huber has a chance to be a solid offensive catcher. However, for a player
already in Double-A, he still has a ways to go. Defensively Huber has to get
more consistent with his footwork and mechanics behind the plate, as his arm is
borderline-average ... has a chance to be an above-average offensive
catcher, but if he can't handle catcher, his bat would be borderline as a first
on Milledge :
... Milledge didn't get a chance to show much this season, as the delayed
signing meant he only got a taste of the minors, but he does have 5-tools: his
speed is above-average, he has great bat speed, he projects to be an
above-average CF with a good arm. There are some questions about his ability to
hit breaking stuff, but the Mets believe he'll develop into a high-average
E. Mailloux and Jim Keller at SportsTicker have kicked off a
position-by-position preview with their picks as the best of the catching
prospects. Joe Mauer MIN, of course, tops the ranking with
CLE's Victor Martinez and Guillermo Quiroz TOR as
the runnersup, with Jeff Mathis ANA fourth :
... Martinez ... After a pair of minor league MVPs and batting titles in
2001-02, Martinez split time between the Class AAA Buffalo Bisons and the
Cleveland Indians. Martinez finished with a combined .315 average, hitting at a
.349 clip in August and September with the big club. Exhibiting knowledge of the
strike zone and an ability to make contact, the 24-year-old switch-hitter
reduced his strikeout totals and produced a combined .376 on-base percentage
... Showing defensive improvement, Martinez exhibited an ability to call
games at the major league level, but struggled throwing out runners and gunned
down just 14 percent of basestealers in the International League."
... Quiroz ... . showed the greatest improvement of all catchers in the minors
in 2003, producing outstanding offensive numbers to match his already excellent
defensive play ... finished with a career-best .282 average ... also
finished with 47 extra-base hits for a .518 slugging percentage as one of the
youngest hitters in the Class AA Eastern League ... produced a .372 on-base
percentage and finished with a .912 league-adjusted OPS -- best among all minor
league catchers. With agility and a strong arm behind the plate, Quiroz recorded
a .994 fielding percentage in 100 games and gunned down over 44 percent of all
... Mathis ... produced 50 multi-hit games for a combined .315 average and
68 RBI between the Class A California League and the Class AA Texas League this
season. The 6-0, 180-pounder utilized his plus bat speed, producing a .493
slugging percentage with 55 extra-base hits, including 39 doubles and a
career-best 13 home runs ... .The defensive player of the year in the Anaheim
Angels organization, Mathis posted a .992 fielding percentage, but threw out
just 25 percent of basestealers with a Rancho Cucamonga."
Callis & Josh Boyd, Baseball America, on Jason Dubois CHN
(specifically his exclusion from the AFL Top 20) :
... (Callis) Several other people have asked how good Dubois is, and my answer
is that he's very good. He has very good power, draws walks and hits for a
decent average. He has a strong arm, though he's otherwise limited defensively.
He just missed making our deep Cubs Top 10 Prospects list ... Now I'll
turn the question over to Josh Boyd, who put together the AFL list:"
... (Boyd) ... we like him as a future big leaguer and got positive reports on
him from scouts in Arizona ... Dubois obviously has outstanding raw power, and
he showed more usable game power in the AFL. As one scout said, "He's going
to have to cut his holes down. He's a dead high-ball hitter. I mean dead
high-ball hitter. He has all kinds of raw power. But he's going to struggle with
guys who can move the ball around. It's a matter of closing up one of his holes
and realizing to lay off some of the pitches he can't handle." Basically,
our lists are projecting future major league impact. If the list continued on
after 20, Dubois would have been No. 21. He could have just as easily been
flipped with Devil Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes at No. 18, as scouts tabbed them
as similar players."
Troy, at Strike Three, has ATL up as the first of his team-by-team
... Adam Wainwright is the system's top pitcher ... quietly posted
a very solid season in Greenville. The tall RHP didn't post the kind of big K
totals that generally gain notice, but his K:BB ratio of nearly 3.5-to-1 (64
percent better than league average) demonstrated excellent command for a
21-year-old in AA. He's on his way."
... The star among position players is 19 year-old 3B Andy Marte
... has always shown good power, but the rapid advancement in his plate
discipline has catapulted him to the upper echelon of prospects. He upped his
BB/AB rate from .08 in 2002 to a stellar .15 in 2003, while maintaining
excellent power. Indeed, if anything, his power may be masked by the tough
hitting environment in Myrtle Beach. He thumped extra-base hits at a rate 53
percent better than league average. If you're looking for a guy who could go
Cabrera in 2004, he may be it."
... Few are certain that Brian McCann can remain a catcher, but he
sure shows an awfully nice power bat for that position, and most other positions
to boot. Nineteen-year-old catchers with a slugging percentage 28 percent above
league average deserve mention. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't note that
his BB:K ratio was not pretty (24 BB, 73 K in 424 AB)."
... A couple of years after looking like a star, fortunes have turned some for Kelly
Johnson and, especially, for Wilson Betemit. Johnson still
features decent power for a SS, assuming he can stay at the position, though
that is not assured, but his high K totals are a red flag ... Betemit's
big 2001 season looks more and more like a batting average-inflated fluke. There
are lots of tools to fall in love with, but not nearly as many skills. His
failure to learn the strike zone is hurting him, and that's a difficult skill to
learn much beyond his current age."
Newberg, Texas Rangers Minor League Report, on Adrian Gonzalez TEX
... A hot start at Frisco (he was hitting .481 after a week) was followed by a
cool stretch that had Gonzalez at .260 at one point, and his final RoughRider
numbers were .283/.326/.393 with only three home runs and 17 RBI in 173 Frisco
at-bats. But he shot out of the AFL gate and, nearly a month into the season,
was the talk of the league as he was batting .400/.511/.800, leading the league
in hitting and reaching base and having the second-highest slugging percentage.
He then slumped there as well, however, finishing at .260/.396/.455 with three
homers and 16 RBI in 77 at-bats. He did draw 17 walks while fanning only nine
times, and played outstanding defense at first. The first overall pick in the
2000 draft by the Marlins, he'll go to camp with Texas with a chance to win a
job and force a move of Mark Teixeira to the outfield, though I'd guess the odds
are he'll begin the season at Oklahoma, especially having had such an
inconsistent 2003 season."
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Andy Sisco CHN :
... Sisco is a huge 6-9, 250 pound lefty. Due to his size, people compare him to
Randy Johnson. Sisco doesn't throw quite as hard, but his fastball is still
above-average at 90-93 mph, occasionally hitting 95. His curveball is improving,
and he has a solid split-finger pitch to keep hitters guessing. He still needs
to work on his changeup, and his command, while good, will need to get better at
higher levels. Sisco should reach Double-A sometime in 2004, and might even
begin the season there if he has a good spring training ... could be a
very intimidating, dominating starting pitcher."
on Francisco Liriano MIN :
... A 20-year-old Dominican, Liriano has an electric arm, capable of throwing a
95-mph fastball and a devastating slider. His command is OK ... The
problem is health. He missed the second half of 2002 with shoulder problems and
was limited to just nine innings of work in 2003. Surgery has been avoided, and
if he can stay away from the doctors, Liriano should develop into a special
pitcher. That's a huge "if," of course. I'd be more comfortable if it
was an elbow problem, which is easier to fix nowadays than shoulder woes."
Matthew Pouliot, RotoWorld, with more reviews from the Arizona Fall League
... JR House ... After two seasons in which he combined for 235 at-bats,
House is finally healthy again, although his elbow isnít quite at full
strength following Tommy John surgery. The Pirates arenít certain he remains
capable of being a regular catcher, so theyíre expected to play him in left
field and at first base next spring. It sounds like House could get the Craig
Wilson treatment, but he does have a tad more offensive upside than Wilson and
he probably could be adequate defensively if the Pirates just pick a position
and leave him there (never letting Wilson get comfortable anywhere is perhaps
the biggest mistake theyíve made with him). House will open next season in the
minors, but he could be a factor in the second half."
at the major league level and loaded on the farm. The Cubbies. Jim
Callis picks righty Angel Guzman as the best of the bunch :
... Guzmanís fastball and changeup are the best in the Cubs system, and his
curveball ranks near the top ... Notable for both its velocity (91-96 mph)
and explosive sink, his fastball may be the best of his offerings. His
development accelerated in 2002 when he regained the curve he flashed when he
signed. Managers rated Guzmanís command the best in the Southern League, and
he not only throws strikes but also keeps the ball down in the zone. He has
permitted just one homer per 23.7 innings as a pro."
... the Cubs are holding their breath and hoping he comes back with the stuff he
had before he was sidelined. His rehabilitation was going well at the Cubsí
spring-training base in Mesa, Ariz., but they wonít know for sure until he
takes the mound in a game situation. He also had a stress fracture in his elbow
during his first pro season in 2000. Guzmanís physical condition is the only
concern at this point. He was ready for the major leagues when he got hurt ...
He likely will return to Double-A to begin his comeback. Guzman has the stuff of
a No. 1 starter, though he may never rise above No. 3 if Prior and Kerry Wood
stay in Chicago."
is one of six starters on the Cubs' Top 10. Lefty Justin Jones
ranks #2, another lefthander, Andy Sisco is #4, righties Bobby
Brownlie and Chadd Blasko are #6 & #7 and Jae-kuk
Ryu, another righty, is #10.
27 November, 2003
Boyd, Baseball America, has wrapped up his position-by-position prospect reviews
with a ranking of the outfielders. Alexis Rios TOR topped Boyd's
chart, ahead of Grady Sizemore CLE and Delmon Young
Santillo, SportsTicker, picks Prince Fielder as the class of the first
base prospects, ahead of Justin Morneau and Casey Kotchman.
... Fielder ... the 19-year-old appears to have as much power as his father with
more advanced discipline. Less than a year out of high school, Fielder began
2003 in the lower-level Class A Midwest League and was the best player from day
one. The 5-foot-11, 260-pounder started the season with a two-run homer in each
of his first three games. By the end of the year, the seventh overall pick in
2002 was in a race to win a triple crown and finished within the top four in
each category. The lefthander, who was honored as the league's MVP and named to
SportsTicker's All-Prospect Team, nearly recorded as many walks as strikeouts.
In the field, Fielder still has a great deal of work to do. A strong start at
Class AA in 2004 could have him promoted to Milwaukee after the All-Star
... Morneau ... ripped Eastern League pitching for 20 games at the start
of this year before being promoted to Class AAA Rochester. Displaying tremendous
power, the lefthander hit .340 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI in his first 27
games and quickly received a callup to Minnesota ... the 6-4, 220-pounder has
very good plate discipline and can make adjustments easily."
... Kotchman ... Due to a number of ailments, the 20-year-old has been limited
to just 145 games over the last two seasons. When he has played, Kotchman has
batted .311 with 43 doubles and 84 RBI over that span ... the
lefthanded hitter has a very professional demeanor and is quite polished. He
does an excellent job working counts and rarely strikes out. In the field, the
13th overall pick in the 2001 draft projects to be a future Gold Glover and was
named best defensive first baseman in the advanced Class A California League
last season. Unfortunately, he can not escape the injury bug. This fall,
Kotchman missed half of the Arizona Fall League after being hit in the mouth
with a groundball."
Sickels, ESPN.com, on David Wright NYN :
... In '03, he turned up his power production at Class A St. Lucie, confirming
his status as a premium prospect. A good performance in the Arizona Fall League
leads the Mets to believe he could reach The Show sometime late in 2004 ... His
swing is short and sharp, and produces above average drive to all fields. He can
pull the ball for power, but is also increasingly adept at going with the pitch
and hitting to the opposite field. Wright is patient, and seldom swings at bad
pitches. Defensively, he features adequate range, a strong and accurate arm, and
quick hands. Scouts say he is already a major-league third baseman with the
glove, and further experience could make him an excellent one ... Wright
doesn't project to be a huge batting average guy, but his power will carry to
higher levels, and he draws enough walks to get on base at a good clip ...
Double-A should be Wright's destination for 2004, and if he plays well there, a
shot at Shea should come late in the year or early in 2005. He is polished for a
young player, and has a good combination of tools and skills."
Tex, OnDeck, puts the crown on the head of Casey Kotchman as the best of
the ANA prospects. The first sacker topped flame-throwing righty Bobby
Jenks and Ervin Santana. Catcher Jeff Mathis
finished 4th and third baseman Dallas McPherson 5th.
29 November, 2003
wrapped up the edit of the rookie reports into summaries (basically, I've taken
out the game-by-game reports to isolate the prospect previews/reviews and
analysis). The summaries are filed by date. Also, for 2003, are the
various hitting & pitching stats packages.
2000 2001 -- Jan-July
Aug-Dec 2002 -- Jan
Feb Mar-July Aug
-- Jan Feb
Sept Oct Nov
Minor League Stats 1 (Hitters, by
OPS, by AAA, AA, A, Short Season, OBA, SLG, Walks, Ks, SBs, Errors)
Minor League Stats 2 (Pitchers, by
ERA, AAA, AA, A, Short Season, Ks & Hitters by position)
leave the old pages up for another week or so for those who may want to download
information in preparation for their 2003 drafts. The new and old links
are at the bottom of the page.
movements ... one of the few BOS prospects, Jorge De La Rosa, among the
package going to ARZ in the Curt Schilling trade ...
Callis, Baseball America, on Jeremy Brown OAK :
... The chances that Jeremy Brown will start at catcher for Oakland in 2004 are
the same as those of Beane rebuilding the A's offense around the bunt and the
stolen base. There's absolutely no chance of that happening. Brown hit just
.275/.388/.391 in 66 games at Double-A this year before a thumb injury sidelined
him for the rest of the season as well as instructional league. Scouts still are
skeptical that Brown has enough agility and athleticism to catch on an everyday
basis in the big leagues. And while he continues to show impressive plate
discipline, he's not ready for the majors in any other aspect of his game."
Sickels, ESPN.com, on Hanley Ramirez BOS :
... Ramirez had a mediocre season ... physical tools are still very impressive.
He's one of the best pure athletes in baseball. But Ramirez lacks refinement.
His plate discipline is mediocre, he is still error-prone on defense, and his
power is still in the "needs development" category. None of that is
damning for a guy who turns 20 in three weeks, but obviously he has work to do
refining his skills. Of greater concern than his numbers is his personality. He
was suspended early in the year for several violations of team rules. Scouts say
he doesn't work very hard, relying on pure athletic ability to carry him on the
field. He can survive in A-ball that way, but at higher levels he will need a
much stronger work ethic ... I don't mean to be too negative here, but Ramirez
still has a lot to prove."
on Habelito Hernandez CIN :
... Hernandez missed part of the year with a shoulder injury, but when he did
play he was hard to get out, hitting .377 with a .392 OBP and a .673 (!) SLG at
Billings in the Pioneer League. It was just 36 games, but the performance was
outstanding, especially considering that he'd hit just .235 in rookie ball the
previous season ... there are some warning signs. In 162 at-bats, he fanned 22
times, which isn't bad. But he drew just one walk. He swings at everything. It
is to his credit that he makes contact and can drive the ball, but plate
discipline this poor will be a serious handicap at higher levels ... Not
everyone has to draw a lot of walks, but pitch recognition is a critical skill,
and it is very difficult to become a successful hitter if you can't tell the
difference between a ball and a strike, a fastball and a curve. It's never been
a big secret, but sometimes the simplest ideas take a long time to sink
Perry at FoxSports has begun position-by-position prospect reports. Dallas
McPherson ANA takes the top spot in the third base competition.
... McPherson ... came back in 2003 like a man possessed. He split time in the
Cal and Texas Leagues this past season and laid waste to both circuits. At
Rancho Cucamonga, he hit .308 AVG/.404 OBP/.606 SLG in 292 ABs, and after a
promotion to Arkansas, he kept it up, hitting .314/.426/.569. McPherson has a
complete offensive package: the ability to hit for average, strong plate
discipline and excellent raw power."
ranked ATL's Andy Marte #2 and David Wright NYN #3,
just ahead of COL's Ian Stewart :
... Rockies nabbed Stewart out of a Garden Grove, Calif. high school with the
tenth overall pick of the June draft and signed him for $1.95 million. He was
regarded by scouts as being among the best pure hitters in the draft. After
signing, he destroyed the Pioneer League and was voted by opposing managers as
the circuit's best prospect. He might not have the glove to remain at third
base, but he'll hit no matter where he plays. He's a long way from the majors,
but his power potential is incredible."
second base, Scott Hairston ARZ edged SD's Josh Barfield
for the top spot :
... Hairston ... numbers in 2003 were dragged down by an early-season back
injury, but even so he held his own in his first taste of Double A. What puts
him atop this list, however, is his incredible performance in previous seasons.
After being drafted as a third-rounder in 2001 out of Central Arizona Junior
College, Hairston laid waste to the rookie-level Pioneer League. In 2002, he
torched the Midwest and California Leagues. He hits for average, drew walks in
the low minors and has a career .558 SLG. His defense isn't a strong point, and
it's possible he'll be moved to a corner position by the time he reaches the
majors. No matter where he plays, he'll hit."
Phillips CLE, a highly sought-after commodity at this time last year,
fared poorly, ranking at #6, and at #8 Rickie Weeks MIL :
... Weeks ... second overall pick of the June draft. After signing, he saw
late-season action in Arizona Rookie and Midwest Leagues. Predictably, he
destroyed them both, albeit in a limited sample of games. He has excellent power
and patience at the plate, and his defense is good enough for him to stick at
second. But it's his offense that'll take him places. I'm knowingly underrating
him, and I fully expect him to be one of the best prospects in baseball this
time next year. He's on the fast track and could be starting in Milwaukee by the
... Dennys Reyes 5.0 0 0 0 3 3 ... Ray Aguilar ATL 4.1 4 1 1 3 1
... Puerto Rico ... Adam LaRoche
ATL 2-4, 4th homer & 1-5, .327 ... Terrmel Sledge MON 2-5, double, .373
& 1-5, .359 ... Justin Morneau MIn 1-4, double & 2-4,
double, 1st homer, 3 RBI, .240 ... Bobby Jenks ANA 6.0 1 0 0 2 4
... Venezuela ... Alberto
Callaspo ANA 2-4, .381 ... Guillermo Quiroz TOR 2-4,
Rookies 2003 Page Ten