Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hots and Nots - June 3, 2009

It will be Montero's bat, not glove, that determines his fate

With Matt Wieters finally in Baltimore and David Price pitching now in Tampa Bay, there are a lot of “who’s the best (fill in the blank) left in the Minor Leagues” questions to be answered. This week’s Hot list has two of the three players in the running for “who’s the best Catcher prospect”, as Jesus Montero (Yankees) heads the list and Carlos Santana (Indians) comes in at #10. Additionally, as we head into next’s weeks draft, there are four first round picks from last year’s draft on this week’s list.

Hot Hitters –

1) Jesus Montero, C, NYY – While I’d be sure to bet that Catcher isn’t his position by the time he gets to the Major Leagues, I’d bet just as surely that his bat will get him there. As you watch him destroy Florida State (FSL) League pitching, remember that Montero is just 19yo. A .463/.476/.780 line over the last two weeks leaves his OPS at .989 for the season.

2) Christopher Dennis, OF, MIL – This week’s “Who’s He?” Award winner, Dennis was a 13th round pick out of Canada in 2007. In his first two seasons he has posted solid numbers in both the Arizona (AZL) League and Pioneer (PIO) League, but he has shown a propensity to swing with everything on every pitch. After he injured his ankle in Spring Training, the 20yo’s season got off to a late start, but right now he is making up for lost time by feasting on Midwest (MWL) League pitching to the tune of .400/.464/740 over his last 50 ABs. His power is legit, and will only improve as he fills out, but his fate lies in his ability to cut down on his once every 3 AB strike out rate.

3) Todd Frazier, LF, CIN – With Votto and Encarnacion already in Cincinatti, and Alonso and Juan Francisco on the way, the Reds quickly decided to move Frazier to the OF this Spring. Frazier hasn’t let the fielding adjustment affect his hitting though, as his .500/.545/.825, over the last two weeks, leaves his OPS at .885 on the year.

4) Josh Donaldson, C, OAK – After smashing his way through the Northwest (NWL) League in his 2007 debut, Donaldson had a miserable 2008 until he was dealt to the Athletics at the trade deadline, as part of the Rich Harden deal. Donaldson has pretty much hit everything in sight since joining the Oakland organization. A .409/.500/.727 over his last 55 PAs leaves Donaldson with a .889 OPS on the year. Look for him to become the A’s primary catcher sometime in early 2010.

5) Eric Hosmer, 1B, KCR – Like Moustakas the year before, Hosmer got off to an ugly MWL start in his first full season. He’s righted the ship and looks to be on track to be all that he was supposed to be when the Royals made him the 3rd overall pick last June. .368/.478/.632 over the last two weeks.

6) Yonder Alonso, 1B, CIN – Alonso was a hitting machine in college and should have been mentioned in the same breath with Alvarez, Posey, Beckham and Smoak, but concerns about his mobility, or lack thereof, always seemed to create separation. His FSL debut is now behind him, and he made his first Southern (SOL) League appearance on Monday with a 3-Hit, 2-Double performance. Over the last two weeks, Alonso has posted a .390/.457/.659 line.

7) Chris Heisey, OF, CIN – Heisey is the classic baseball ‘grinder’ who does everything well but nothing fantastic. The most impressive thing to me is that, while they have never been bad, his numbers have gotten better at each level he has played. The SOL, this season, is no exception. Heisey has posted a nearly unfathomable .531/.566/.939 over his last 55 PAs and now has a 1.102 OPS on the year. He is a tad old for the SOL and doesn’t profile as anything more than a 4th OF type, but he’s the kind of kid you want to root for.

8) Michael Baxter, OF, SDP – Another guy a tad old for his league with a 4th OF profile, Baxter has posted even more unbelievable numbers in the Texas (TXL) League than Heisey has in the SOL. Over his last 45 ABs, Baxter has put up a .600/.654/.867 line. You read that right, a .600 AVG!

9) James Darnell, 3B, SDP – Darnell was an ‘underdraft’ when the Padres took him with the 69th pick in last June’s draft. But not getting the proper attention is nothing new for Darnell who played in the shadows of Smoak, Havens and Chisenhall at South Carolina. A .409/.527/.727 over his last 55 PAs leaves him with a .973 OPS on the year. Most importantly, he has more walks than strikeouts. He clearly needs to move up and face better competition.

10) Carlos Santana, C, CLE – With Wieters now in Baltimore, Santana is my choice for the best Catching prospect still in the Minors (sorry Buster Posey), and is rapidly approaching best position prospect overall status. Santana has posted a .324/.468/.703 line over his last 50 PAs, bringing his season-to-date OPS to .990. His 35:25 BB:K ratio is one of the best in the Minors, and his defensive skills are making huge leaps forward with each passing week. As it now stands, Victor Martinez could become a full-time Firstbaseman by the beginning of next year.

11) Dustin Ackley, CF/1B, North Carolina – Ackley’s .714/.750/1.143 three game performance over the weekend, in the NCAA Regionals, not only was worthy of adding an eleventh spot to this week’s list, but it clearly solidifies him as the #2 talent available in next week’s draft. Entering this weekend’s Super Regional he has a .417/.520/781 on the year and looks likely to play CF in the Major Leagues.

Hot Pitchers –

1) Mat Latos, RHP, SDP – For me Latos has always been the billion dollar airport with the twenty-five cent control tower. A bad attitude and a bad work ethic have characterized his career for some time now, and his clearly awesome ‘stuff’ has taken a back seat to his approach. Maybe…just maybe, that is changing. Latos has picked up in AA where he left off in A-ball, and has now posted a 0.82 ERA, 0.636 WHIP over his first two TXL starts and now has given up 2 ER in 36 IP on the year.

2) Ross Seaton, RHP, HOU – For my money, Ross Seaton is one of the most underrated pitching prospects in the Minors. He lasted until the 3rd round last June, made nobody’s Top 100 list this winter, and entered the year with barely a whisper being said about him. Yet through ten South Atlantic (SAL) starts he has a 2.44 ERA and a 1.085 WHIP—as a 19yo! Not only does he throw in the low 90s already, but he has a 6’4 frame that will easily hold another 20lbs and add a few MPH to his fastball. More impressively this is a bright kid who is a true student of the game. A 0.64 ERA, 0.714 WHIP and a 9:0 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks, is just an indication that he is warming up.

3) Kyle Drabek, RHP, PHI – In case there were still any doubters, the Phillies 1st round pick in 2006 is fully recovered from his 2007 Tommy John surgery. A 2.40 ERA, 0.867 WHIP with a 16:4 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks, leaves him with a 2.48 ERA and 74 Ks in 61 IP on the year.

4) Madison Bumgarner, LHP, SFG – For the last two seasons, at least one, of either Bumgarner or teammate Tim Alderson, has appeared on the ‘Hot’ list in all but 7 weeks. It’s Bumgarner’s turn this week after posting a 0.82 ERA, a .909 WHIP with a 13:3 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks. Apparently the Eastern (ESL) League poses no more of a challenge to him than did the CAL.

5) Brad Holt, RHP, NYM – It is easy to lose track of just how phenomenal Holt has been if you just glance at his season line of a 3.05 ERA and a 1.040 WHIP. But to get the proper perspective, you must remember that Holt yielded 11 baserunners and 9 ERs in a little over 3 IP in his first FSL start. Since then he has reeled off a string of 7 Starts where he has posted a 0.48 ERA, a 0.842 WHIP and a 45:6 K:BB ratio. He’s posted a 1.29ERA, a 0.929 WHIP and a 20:3 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks and looks to be ready to face AA hitters.

6) Evan Anundsen, RHP, MIL – Coming into the 2009 season, the Brewers 4th round pick in the 2006 draft has posted three solid, yet not spectacular seasons. It’s beginning to look like a breakout year for the 21yo. 12 straight shutout IP with a 0.750 WHIP and a 16:2 K:BB ratio leaves him with a 1.87 ERA on the year and FSL hitters are batting just .216 against him.

7) Wily Peralta, RHP, MIL – The 20yo Peralta repeats from last week and is starting to really turn some heads. Peralta has a 0.77 ERA, a 0.943 WHIP with a 20:3 K:BB ratio over his last three MWL appearances and he has now given up more than 2 ERs in only 1 appearance on the season.

8) Esmil Rogers, RHP, COL – After struggling as a SS, the Rockies converted Rogers to a pitcher in the 2006 season. He is raw and, up until now, has pitched mainly off of his low 90s fastball that has a lot of late movement. A solid change, and a little more work on the finer points of pitching are all that stand between Rogers and a spot in the Rockies’ rotation. A 1.98 ERA, 0.659 WHIP and a 13:3 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks.

9) Brian Matusz, LHP, BAL – It has taken a little longer than some Oriole fans would have liked for Matusz’ brilliance to show itself, but apparently that time has arrived. The 4th overall selection last June has posted a 1.29 ERA, a 0.810 WHIP and an 18:4 K:BB ratio over his last three starts, leaving him with a 2.37 ERA on the season. Eastern League hitters should be facing the left-hander any day now.

10) Tyler Clippard, RHP, WSN – For me it’s not Ty Clippard, it’s ‘the enigma that’s Ty Clippard’, as I have a great deal of difficulty figuring out what about him is the cause for him never really being given a Big League shot, now with two organizations. The Nationals surely could use him in the rotation, but are converting him to the bullpen this year. Don’t get me wrong, Clippard has responded just fine, posting a 1.19 ERA through 17 appearances on the year. Over the last two weeks, he has posted a 0.00 ERA, a 0.536 WHIP and a 9:1 K:BB ratio. The Nationals starting pitching has yielded a 5.58 ERA on the year, with 80% of their starting rotation having ERAs greater than 5.00…and Clippard is moving to the bullpen?

The Nots –

1) Niko Vasquez, SS, STL – Nobody expected Vasquez to hit a ton when the Cardinals selected him in the 3rd round last June. After a promising Appalachian League debut (APY) that saw him post an .878 OPS, there were those that held out hope. Forget about it! A .106/.125/.106 line for the last two weeks, leaves his season OPS at .529. He has gone 62 ABs without an XB hit.

2) Colten Willems, RHP, WSN – I was never a big fan of the Nationals 2006 first round pick, and I can safely say I’m still not. After opening the year with 11 straight IP without allowing an earned run, Wiilems has a 16.63 ERA over his last 4 starts. He has a 17.70 ERA, a 4.500 WHIP and a 1:5 K:BB ratio over his last three. Still not yet 21, he has plenty of time to turn things around, but for the moment he appears to be stuck in neutral.

3) Manny Pina, C, TEX – No player in the Minors has been more up and down than Pina. In eight weeks of ‘Hots and Nots’, Pina has been on the ‘Hot’ list three times and now finds himself ‘Not’ for the second straight week. Pina has posted a .091/.143/.091 over his last 35 PAs and has seen his once lofty OPS crash to .820 on the season. He has gone 66 ABs without an XB hit.

4) Kellen Kulbacki, OF, SDP – Kulbacki had off-season surgery to repair a torn labrum, and apparently he hasn’t shaken the rust off yet. A .143/.167/.171 line over the last two weeks is indicative of his .445 OPS that he has posted thus far. Hopefully he can have a repeat performance of last year’s second half, where he belted 19 HRs in the final 54 games, because right now he’s going to need it.

5) Sean O’Sullivan, RHP, LAA – The Angels really could use another Major League SP and there was hope earlier this year that O’Sullivan might step into that role, but bouts of wildness have doomed those chances for the time being. A 11.42 ERA, 2.308 WHIP and a 4:4 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks, leaves O’Sullivan with a 6.55 ERA on the season.

6) Tony Thomas, 2B, CHN – Thomas was blistering hot for the first six weeks of the season, but times have definitely changed. A .120/.185/.160 over the last two weeks leaves Thomas with a .837 OPS on the year. Thomas had 8 HRs in his first 32 games and now has gone 18 straight games without a HR.

7) Michael Bowden, RHP, BOS – With the Red Sox absolutely loaded with pitching talent, it is sometimes difficult for a top prospect that is seemingly ‘blocked’ to maintain their focus. That appears to be what is happening with Bowden, as he has posted a 9.58 ERA, a 2.129 WHIP and a 6:4 K:BB ratio over his last three starts.

8) Steve Hill, DH, STL – When ‘the man without a position’ and his lengthy swing was smashing bombs earlier in the season, it wasn’t hard to predict that there would be a major let down to follow. We’ve apparently found it. .125/.152/.219 with a 1:12 BB:K ratio over the last two weeks. He now has 40 Ks in 140 ABs on the season and isn’t likely to make any moves forward until he a) makes more consistent contact and b) finds a position that he can play without butchering it too badly.

9) Steven Johnson, RHP, LAD – Johnson really is a pitcher that is better than this list, and is really only on here because of one putrid start. Nonetheless, he has posted a 11.05 ERA and a 2.591 WHIP with a 2:3 K:BB ratio over the last two weeks, and that is certainly worthy of a ‘Not’ performance.

10) Jordan Schafer, CF, ATL - While I realize he no longer is technically a prospect, Schafer belongs on this list because, if the Braves hadn’t been so desperate for a CF, he’d still be in Gwinnett, and probably enjoying a decent season. Instead Schafer has posted a .154/.195/.179 line over the last two weeks and is now sporting an even .600 OPS on the year. He is clearly overmatched right now and it’s time for the Braves to ‘Travis Snider’ him for a few months, if not the rest of the year. Just for comparison sake, Snider had roughly the same number of Major League ABs and a 150 points higher OPS when the Jays sent him down.

No comments:

Post a Comment