Well, here we are in the middle of May and I’m finally getting around to the April Summary. Before you read any further, you might want to check out my disclaimer and glossary of terms. If you don’t feel like reading them, then just jump right in. Enjoy!
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K *Gillespie, Eric 3B 78 10 26 11 0 3 11 12 16 2 .333 .422 .590 1.012 .750 49.33 72.68
With the emergence of Troy Glaus, Gillespie, the Angels’ 10th round pick out of Cal State Northridge in 1996, has been all but forgotten. He’s old (23) for the Cal League, but his OPS is +49 for the league, and his BB/K is +73. Last year in the Midwest League he mostly played 1B, but also saw time at 3B, SS, and behind the plate. Sickels gave him a C-, which is not terribly inspiring, but keep an eye on what this guy does (and perhaps more importantly, what the Angels do with him) when Glaus gets promoted.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K Piatt, Adam 3B 85 13 23 8 0 2 17 16 17 3 .271 .386 .435 .821 .941 21.21 116.70
While Gillespie is stuck behind Glaus, Adam Piatt, the A’s 8th round pick out of Mississippi State in 1997, has megaprospect Eric Chavez ahead of him. Piatt is hitting doubles and showing good plate discipline, but he’s 22, again a bit old for the league. Certainly 85 at bats isn’t really enough of a gauge, but on the heels of a fine rookie campaign in the short-season Northwest League, Piatt is another guy worth keeping an eye on.
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 Hudson, Tim 3 0 6 0 28.0 14 8 6 12 36 1.93 3.00 11.57 4.50 46.14 30.36 36.51 46.28 Prokopec, Luke 2 1 5 0 26.0 15 7 5 8 36 1.73 4.50 12.46 5.19 51.66 95.55 47.02 38.02
Hudson was the Oakland A’s 6th round pick in the 1997 draft, out of Auburn University. He pitched well in his first exposure to pro ball last season at Southern Oregon of the Midwest League. There he started 4 games and relieved in 4 more, allowing 12 hits and 15 walks in 29 innings, while striking out 37. Judging from his IP/G so far this year, I’m guessing they still haven’t committed to making him a full-time starter. The only reason I can see for this is durability concerns — he is only 6’0″, 160 lbs. I know nothing about his repertoire, but in 57 pro innings he’s allowed only 26 hits, which is impressive.
Prokopec is an interesting story. Signed out of Australia in 1995 as an outfielder, he was converted this year to pitcher. He appears to have taken to the mound quite nicely. All the ratios so far are outstanding. He’s only 20 years old and like Hudson, he’s short (6’0″) for a righthander, but this is a great start for a guy pitching pro for the first time — in the California League, no less. I’m really going to be watching this guy.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K *Coffie, Ivanon 3B 60 7 17 2 0 3 12 9 8 4 .283 .377 .467 .843 1.125 24.89 184.16
Coffie is a 21-year-old from Curacao who has been playing pro ball since 1995. Last year was his first exposure to a full-season league, and he did okay in the SAL. He only hit 3 homers in 305 ABs last year, so whether this increase in power is real is anyone’s guess, but he has pretty good size (6’1′, 170 lbs). He’s a converted shortstop, so presumably he should be a pretty decent third baseman. He’s also showing better plate discipline than in the past. Tony Blengino calls Coffie a future utility player, but if he keeps this up, he could well put himself on the map as a legit prospect. However, he does have Ryan Minor (not to mention Cal Ripken!) in his way.
Florida State League
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 Herbison, Brett 2 1 4 0 22.3 14 6 5 3 19 2.01 6.33 7.66 5.64 48.13 205.67 7.07 38.27 Rutherford, Mark 3 0 5 0 35.7 23 10 9 6 21 2.27 3.50 5.30 5.80 41.54 68.92 -25.90 36.49
Herbison is in the Mets organization and put up some nice numbers last season in the SAL. He pitched 160 innings at age 20, which is a little worrisome, but he’s got a classic pitchers build at 6’5″, 175 lbs. I really know almost nothing about him, but his stats look like those of a prospect.
Rutherford was the Phillies’ 12th round draft pick in 1997, out of Eastern Michigan University. Last year in the SAL he allowed only 51 baserunners in 58 innings, while striking out 47. He’s gotten off to a good start in 1998 at Clearwater. His control is excellent: in 93.2 pro innings, he’s walked only 15 batters. He is a bit old (23) for the FSL, but if he continues like this I’d imagine he could move up to Reading at some point during the season. If he shows anything there, he might start to garner some attention.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K Meyers, Chad 2B 80 17 28 5 2 1 13 14 13 12 .350 .447 .500 .947 1.077 32.3 125.96
Meyers was the Cubs’ 5th round pick in 1996, out of Creighton University. He’s a switch hitter who’s shown good plate discipline at every stop so far. Last year at Rockford of the Midwest League he hit .301 with 28 doubles and 74 walks (against 72 strikeouts). He also stole 54 bases in 70 attempts. At 22 years old, this is another guy who probably needs an in-season promotion to get himself noticed. But the way he’s going, that could well happen.
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 *Yarnall, Ed 3 0 3 0 19.7 8 2 1 8 21 0.46 2.63 9.61 3.66 88.22 23.63 23.83 56.78 *Wolf, Randy 2 0 4 0 25.0 15 4 4 4 33 1.44 8.25 11.88 5.40 62.94 288.56 53.08 36.25
These guys are probably a little too well known to be on this list, but their numbers are so amazing I just had to include them. For the sake of completion, Yarnall was the Mets’ 3rd round pick in the 1996 draft, out of Louisiana State University. He’s 22 years old, 6’4″, 220 lbs, and he’s absolutely shot through the system.
Wolf was the Phillies’ 2nd round pick in 1997, out of Pepperdine. His ascent has been even more meteoric, as just after these 4 starts he was quickly whisked to Scranton Wilkes-Barre, where he has proceeded to dominate International League batters in his first 2 starts.
Okay, now for some guys you may or may not have heard of:
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 *Ramsay, Robert 2 1 4 0 23.0 12 5 5 9 30 1.96 3.33 11.74 4.70 49.65 56.99 51.27 44.57 Sekany, Jason 2 0 4 0 26.0 14 9 8 4 18 2.77 4.50 6.23 4.85 28.74 111.94 -19.71 42.79 Crawford, Paxton 2 0 4 0 21.0 12 4 4 11 20 1.71 1.82 8.57 5.14 55.89 -14.37 10.45 39.29 Dempster, Ryan 2 2 4 0 24.7 15 10 6 11 20 2.19 1.82 7.30 5.47 43.66 -14.37 -5.97 35.39 Lincoln, Mike 3 0 4 0 23.7 19 10 6 2 17 2.28 8.50 6.46 7.23 41.28 300.33 -16.70 14.70
What’s in the water at Trenton? Ramsay, Sekany, and Crawford all pitch there as members of the Red Sox organization.
Ramsay is old (24) and hasn’t done anything done anything to distinguish himself before this year, so this is probably just a hot streak, but those are mighty impressive numbers and he is a lefty.
Sekany was a 2nd round pick in 1996 out of the University of Virginia. He’s 6’4″, 215 lbs, and according to John Sickels “can overpower people with his fastball and slider. ” His Achilles heel to this point has been his control, but right now that doesn’t seem to be a problem. And he hasn’t sacrificed anything in the area of hit prevention.
Crawford is a 20-year-old who thus far is more than holding his own in Double-A. He’s pointed out pretty highly in Future Stars the past couple years, mainly because he’s been one of the youngest starters in his league and he’s not getting completely pounded. He’s 6’3″, 190 lbs, and Tony Blengino says of him, “He will likely need another High-A season, but could be a special one if he juices up his fastball a notch or two. ” It’s still early yet, but for a guy who was supposed to repeat a level, he’s upped his strikeout ratio while jumping up to Double-A. I like this guy a lot.
Dempster is a 6’2″, 195-lb righthander out of British Columbia. He was part of the deal that sent John Burkett to Texas. Last season in the Florida State League he got pounded but showed good control. He’s another 20-year-old who so far looks pretty good in Double-A. Sickels says “his stuff is average right now…but his control is good, and scouts think he will pick up velocity as he matures. ” Add to that the Leyland factor — Saunders, Meadows, Dempster? — and I like his chances.
Finally, Lincoln is sort of a dark horse. He’s in the Twins organization, drafted in the 13th round in 1996, from the University of Tennessee. He’s always had great control, but at the professional level he’s been somewhat less than dominating, averaging less than 5 K’s per 9 IP for his career. Sickels gives him a C-, but says “Lincoln’s strikeout rate was much higher in college, so there is a chance, albeit an outside one, that he could continue pitching well as he moves up. I won’t really believe in him until that K/IP rate rises, but he does deserve a fair hearing. ” Well, guess what? That K/IP rate is rising, and not at the expense of anything else.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K #Matthews, Gary OF 76 22 30 6 2 2 25 15 12 5 .395 .495 .605 1.100 1.250 46.56 92.05 *Powers, John 3B 71 25 27 6 0 2 8 17 8 2 .380 .500 .549 1.049 2.125 39.83 226.48
Matthews is a switch-hitting center fielder in the Padres organization whom I like very much. For more on him, check this out.
John Powers is my favorite player currently in the minor leagues. The Padres’ 21st-round selection out of the University of Arizona in 1996 was drafted as a second baseman, where he played last season at Rancho Cucamonga; this year Powers has been moved to the hot corner. He appeared to have good range at second, as well as a strong arm. Offensively, plate discipline is the switch-hitter’s greatest asset, although he has surprising pop for a little (5’9″, 165 lbs) guy. At age 24, Powers is probably a C-level prospect at best, but he plays the game hard and generally makes things difficult on the opposition any way he can. If he makes it to the big leagues, it will probably be as a utility player, but if he were to somehow land a starting assignment, his career could look a lot like Mark Lemke’s or Jody Reed’s.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K Villalobos, Carlos 3B 99 21 38 8 0 2 19 11 19 2 .384 .445 .525 .971 .579 29.36 -11.05
Yet another third baseman stuck behind a more highly touted prospect (Gabe Alvarez), Villalobos was acquired last season from the Seattle Mariners organization as part ot the Scott Sanders deal. He’s old (24) — older than Alvarez in fact — but I’ve seen this guy play and he gets his bat through the strike zone in a hurry. He can hit just about anybody’s fastball. He’s probably no more than a bench player, though in the right organization he could pull a Chris Sabo and hold a regular job for a few years.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K *Vaz, Roberto OF 72 11 22 5 0 2 6 16 8 2 .306 .432 .458 .890 2.000 18.63 207.27
Geez, what is it with Oakland? How come they get all the good prospects? The Athletics selected Vaz in the 7th round of the 1997 draft out of the University of Alabama. And all the stocky little (5’9″, 195 lbs) lefty swinger has done as a pro is hit, hit, hit! Vaz has terrific plate discipline, runs a little, hits doubles. Reminds me a bit of another stocky little left-handed-hitting outfielder whose name I’ll not invoke for fear of jinxing this kid. Anyway, Vaz looks real good so far.
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 Melendez, Dave 2 0 4 0 24.7 16 3 3 10 20 1.09 2.00 7.30 5.84 74.88 29.89 7.43 34.54 Beirne, Kevin 3 1 6 0 38.0 31 13 11 17 36 2.61 2.12 8.53 7.34 40.22 37.54 25.52 17.67 Carlyle, Buddy 2 1 4 0 25.7 21 8 8 3 14 2.81 4.67 4.91 7.36 35.63 203.09 -27.73 17.43 *Haynie, Jason 2 2 5 0 30.3 26 8 6 8 18 1.78 2.25 5.34 7.71 59.15 46.13 -21.38 13.49 Farnsworth, Kyle 4 1 6 0 37.0 32 15 12 8 35 2.92 4.38 8.51 7.78 33.02 184.14 25.33 12.71
And you thought Chris Enochs and Bruce Chen were the only pitching prospects in the circuit? Think again.
Melendez was signed by the Tigers as an undrafted free agent out of Puerto Rico in 1996. According to Sickels he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he says of the 22-year-old righthander, “[He] has a lot of potential, but he needs at least a year in the high minors before seeing major league action.” He’s certainly off to a good start this season.
Beirne is a 24-year-old righthander in the White Sox organization, about whom I know almost nothing except that he’s putting up some nice numbers in the Southern League thus far. Someone worth keeping an eye on.
I almost didn’t include Carlyle on this list because he’s probably too “well known” a prospect. Anyway, he’s a “projectable” righthander the Padres obtained just after the start of the season in exchange for flameout — er, flamethrower — Marc Kroon. He was a 2nd round draft choice out of the Reds out of a Nebraska high school. Although he isn’t striking out a lot of hitters, he also isn’t putting too many on. His control in particular is impressive, and any time a 20-year-old pitcher has success at Double-A, he deserves attention. The Padres will need to be careful with him, but right now he looks like the second best pitching prospect in the system.
Haynie is a 24-year-old southpaw in the Pittsburgh organization who doesn’t show up on any prospect lists, doesn’t strike many guys out, but so far is pitching quite well. He could be Tom Browning; he could be Kris Detmers. Who knows? But he’s a lefty, so I’ll keep watching him.
Kerry Wood may be the best thing that has happened to the Cubs in years, and not just because barring injury he’ll be one of the elite starters in baseball for years to come. With the spotlight so intensely focused on Wood, some of the pressure will be lifted from the Cubbies other pitching prospects such as Jon Cannon, Courtney Duncan, Jon Garland, Todd Noel, Philip Norton, and their 47th round draft pick in 1994, righty Kyle Farnsworth. He supposedly doesn’t have great stuff, but Blengino calls him a “sleeper” and says that he “has solid control and could add a little velocity as his 6’4″, 190, frame develops. ” He’s been hit pretty hard in the past, but always put up good K/BB ratios. This season, while moving up a level, Farnsworth has improved his hit prevention and his strikeout ratio, which suggests that he may have put a couple MPH on the ol’ fastball. He’s only 22 years old and definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Last First Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB PCT OBP SLG OPS BB/K iOPS iBB/K *Tucker, Jon 1B 107 14 38 10 1 5 23 11 19 0 .355 .415 .607 1.023 .579 30.35 -2.19 *Bergeron, Peter OF 101 21 30 2 3 3 15 18 17 12 .297 .403 .465 .869 1.059 10.72 78.89 *Hutchins, Norm OF 122 26 37 8 2 4 16 11 22 13 .303 .361 .500 .861 .500 9.73 -15.53 #Abbott, Chuck SS 111 19 36 2 2 1 18 13 26 4 .324 .395 .405 .801 .500 2.04 -15.53
Tucker is a big (6’4″, 200-lb), lefty-swinging first baseman out of Southern California. Just 21 years old, the Dodgers 8th round draft pick in 1995 has tremendous power. While he still doesn’t draw a lot of walks, neither does he strike out an inordinate amount. Still, his plate discipline has improved as he’s moved up a level, which is encouraging.
One word to describe Bergeron: fast. Another word is young. The 20-year-old was taken by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 1996 draft, out of a Massachusetts high school. In his first two professional seasons Bergeron played well enough, but didn’t take full advantage of his speed. He struck out too much and stole bases at a poor rate. This year he’s cut down on the strikeouts while adding a touch of power to his game. Having hit only 10 homers in 732 pro at bats coming into 1998, the 6’1″, 185-lb Bergeron slugged 3 in the first month of the season. If he learns to use his speed, and continues to tighten his strike zone and develop his power, this guy could be really good.
Okay, Hutchins really doesn’t belong on this list. I just threw him in there because I’ve often wondered what he might do if he showed any kind of plate discipline. It’s still not great, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the 147/23 K/BB ratio he posted last year at Lake Elsinore. The tools are there. Now, perhaps, he’s learning how to use them.
Abbott is another Angels farmhand who has been a notoriously unselective hitter as a pro, striking out a whopping 170 times in 520 at bats last season at Cedar Rapids. Anaheim took him in the 2nd round of the 1996 draft, out of Austin Peay State University. Abbott started out his professional career as a second baseman, but this year has moved back to shortstop, where he played in college. He was a great hitter in college, and while many scouts have questioned his ability to hit with a wooden bat, Abbott appears to be on the verge of turning a corner. At age 23, the 6’1″, 180-lb switch hitter is no spring chicken, and he’ll need to keep up this kind of production for an extended period before we get too excited, but the fact that he was skipped a level and has improved his offense while playing a more demanding defensive postion speaks well of him.
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 Garcia, Freddy 1 2 6 0 41.3 26 10 9 20 43 1.96 2.15 9.36 5.66 56.79 21.68 35.83 40.54 Wise, Matt 2 1 5 0 29.3 27 20 15 9 19 4.60 2.11 5.83 8.28 -1.47 19.47 -15.43 12.99
This isn’t Freddy Garcia, the Carolina Mudcats’ infielder; this guy is a 21-year-old righthander in the Astros system out of — everybody, now — Venezuela. Signed as a free agent in 1994, Garcia has been brought along slowly and has had the good fortune to be able to hide behind more highly touted prospects such as Chris Holt and Scott Elarton. Apparently he throws pretty hard (93 MPH), but has had some elbow troubles in the past. If the Astros are a little more cautious with Garcia than they were with Elarton, and closely monitor his workload, he could be special.
Wise is a righthander in the Angels system. Selected in the 6th round of the 1997 draft, out of Cal State Fullerton (Mark Kotsay’s alma mater), Wise made his professional debut last year at Boise, in the short-season Northwest League. In 1998, the 22-year-old made his full-season debut in the Texas League, working his home games in a dreadful park for pitchers. His ERA is a tad high, and his ratios aren’t overwhelming, but he’s certainly not embarrassing himself, and that’s pretty impressive for a kid who skipped two levels.
This level is remarkably devoid of unheralded prospects. The good ones have been “discovered” by now, and the rest are just an extension of the major-league club — “roster fill.”
Well, I did manage to find one relatively obscure pitcher who may be something:
Last First W L G SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA K/BB K/9 H/9 iERA iK/BB iK/9 iH/9 *Barkley, Brian 1 2 4 0 24.0 17 11 10 9 20 3.75 2.22 7.50 6.38 14.17 18.89 5.53 28.91
Barkley was chosen by the Red Sox in the 5th round of the 1994 draft, out of a Texas high school. He’s a 6’2″, 170-lb lefty who doesn’t show up on anyone’s prospect list. His ratios are good, but not outstanding. In the past he’s given up a ton of hits, but he’s also been one of the younger starters in his league. He’s still only 22 years old, so there is a chance that this improvement is a mark of real development. Then again, maybe he’s just strung together 4 decent starts at the beginning of the season. Blengino says that Barkley “has limited command and lacks a defining out pitch. He has a diverse array of pitches, but all of them catch too much of the plate and are easy to hit…. If he was a righty, he might already be looking for work.” Not exactly glowing praise, but then, those same comments could have applied to Denny Neagle 8 or 9 years ago. I, for one, am intrigued and will be watching Barkley very closely this season.
Well, there you have it. By no means a complete list, but a list nonetheless. I’ll be back next month with more names and updates on these guys. Until then, happy prospecting!