Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hots and Nots – August 12, 2009

Carter is on one of the hottest streaks by any player this season

After leading the California (CAL) League in Runs, RBIs, HRs and SLG in 2008, it should come as no surprise to see one of the Minor’s best power hitters putting together a ‘Hot’ streak. But in the midst of a 24-game hitting streak where he has posted .479/.551/.840, the A’s Chris Carter is on one of the most torrid streaks put together by any player this year. With his third straight appearance on the ‘Hot’ list, Carter finds his name at the top this week.

Hot Hitters –
1) Chris Carter, 1B, OAK – If Carter’s defense were a tad higher, he would have entered this year as one of the Minor’s top prospects, after the numbers he posted in his 4 season professional career. But likely being limited to a 1B/DH role sets the bar a tad higher for the 22yo prospect. Given the streak that Carter is on, there isn’t likely a bar that can be set high enough. A .569/.627/.1.059 over his last 60 PAs leaves Carter with a 1.006 OPS for the year. Expect the A’s to keep pointing Brett Wallace toward 3B and expect to see Carter in Oakland in September.

2) Alex Liddi, 3B, SEA – Arguably no Minor League prospect has raised their profile more than Liddi this season. Liddi has a projectable frame, solid foot work at 3B and is one of the younger players in the CAL. Yet he has consistently raked all year, to the tune of a 1.065 OPS. For those that would like to chalk up his performance to the High Desert air, his OPS is .921 on the road. Liddi has posted a .436/.522/.821 over his last 50 PAs and is rapidly establishing himself as one of the game’s best prospects.

3) Travis Snider, LF, TOR – With the Jays going nowhere this season, they can hardly be faulted for trying to focus this year on what is best for Snider’s long-term development. Still , with a 1.064 OPS on the year, one has to wonder what has taken the Jays so long to get Snider’s bat back into the Toronto lineup. After posting a .441/.529/.949 over the last two weeks, the wait ends tonight.

4) Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT – The 2008 2nd overall pick certainly has his doubters, as they question whether the thickly built Alvarez will be able to turn through the zone quick enough to ever make significant contact or whether he possesses the mobility to play anywhere but first base. Over the first three months of the season, it looked like the detractors might be right, as he posted only an .827 OPS in the Carolina (CAR) League, while fanning in 29% of his Plate Appearances. But the Calendar turned to July and the Bucs promoted Alvarez to Altoona, and he has become a different player, reducing his strikeout rate to 21% since July 1st. A .458/.552/.708 over the last two weeks gives Alvarez a .971 OPS in 151 Eastern (ESL) League ABs. If Alvarez can stay at 3B, he’s one of the Top 10 Prospects in the game. If not, at 22yo, he still is on track to become an above average Major League first basemen.

5) Mike Trout, OF, LAA – Prior to the draft, we had Trout rated as the third best High School hitting prospect available. We felt that the Angels got a bargain when Trout lasted until the 25th overall pick. Since Bobby Borchering and Donovan Tate have yet to sign, we won’t know how they will end up fairing, but for now Trout is the best High School position player, already in the Minors, from the 2009 draft class. Through 107 Arizona (AZL) League ABs, Trout has posted a .972 OPS. More impressive, he is spraying the ball all over the field and controlling the strike zone like a much older player. In the last five years, only Jaff Decker in 2008, Yefri Carvajal in 2007, Matt Sweeney in 2006 and Cedric Hunter in 2006 posted .900-plus OPS as 18yos or younger, and all were nearly 6 months older than Trout is. He looks to be a good one.

6) Angel Morales, OF, MIN – After posting a 1.036 in the Appalachian (APY) League, as an 18yo last season, Morales appeared on the prospect radar screens. With a .640 OPS in the Midwest (MWL) League through June, many began to write Morales off. Since the beginning of July, his OPS has been 1.019. Over the last two weeks, Morales has posted a .438/.471/.750.

7) Buster Posey, C, SFG – Posey has been everything that was advertised when the Giants made him the 5th overall pick in 2008. He has first rate catch and throw skills and better than Major League average offensive skills. After posting a .967 in nearly 300 CAL ABs, the Giants skipped Posey to AAA, where he has posted a .917 OPS as a 22yo. Over the last two weeks he has posted a .341/.400/.707, and he should become the Giants everyday backstop by early 2010. Eventually expect Posey to become one of the top catchers in the game.

8) Carlos Santana, C, CLE – Speaking of high-upside catchers, the Indians thought enough of Santana to deal all-star Victor Martinez to the Red Sox at the trade deadline. His plate discipline is among the best in the Minors, and he is slugging .545 in the Eastern (ESL) League. Over the last two week’s Santana has posted a .388/.474/.612 and now has a .954 OPS on the year.

9) Tony Sanchez, C, PIT – Making it three straight backstops on the list, many, this author included felt it was an extreme over draft when the Pirates made Sanchez the 4th overall pick in June’s draft. It’s not that Sanchez didn’t have first round talent, it was just that there were enough questions about his offense that he should have gone about twenty picks lower. Nonetheless the Pirates selected him and then quickly signed him to a $2.5 million bonus. Thus far it appears like a win for the Pirates as Sanchez has put up a .989 OPS. He should be on the fast track to the big leagues and could see Pittsburgh before the end of the 2010 season.

10) Brandon Waring, 1B/3B, BAL – Regular readers will recall that we have been high on Waring’s offensive skills since his Junior year at Wofford in 2007. Through roughly 1100 professional ABs, Waring hasn’t disappointed, belting 60 home runs and posting an .880 OPS. The question on Waring though, remains his defensive position as LF or 1B appears to be his likely destination. Over the last two weeks, Waring has posted a .347/.429/.755.

11) Jason Heyward, OF, ATL – We’ll make it a Top 11 list this week, just to keep everyone updated on Jason Heyward’s quest to best Andruw Jones’ 157 AB, 1.107 OPS performance in 1996, and put together a historic Southern (SOL) League season by a player younger than 20. Heyward went ‘only’ 9 for 25, with two home runs this week and now has a 1.215 OPS through 111 SOL ABs.

Hot Pitchers –
1) Neftali Feliz, RHP, TEX – Entering the season, the main question was whether or not Feliz would be able to harness his mid-90s fastball to reduce his walk rate and get to the Major Leagues. Now the only question appears to be whether his secondary offerings will continue to develop and make him a front of the rotation stud, or Feliz becomes one of the games better closers. Over the last two weeks, most of it in Arlington, Feliz has a 1.35 ERA, a 0.300 WHIP, with a 8:0 K:BB ratio. On the year Feliz has a 3.40 ERA and he’s still just a 21yo.

2) Matt Way, LHP, PHI – When you are a college Senior, your best pitch is your change, and your fastball sits in the high-80s, you aren’t going to get a lot of attention. Hence the reason the Phillies were able to draft him in the 5th round this year and sign him for only $30,000. Yet in 10 starts between the New York-Penn (NYP) League and the South Atlantic (SAL) League, Way has gotten people’s attention. He has only allowed more than 1 ER once on the year, has a 1.39 ERA, a 0.890 WHIP, with a 63:9 K:BB ratio. Way has allowed 2 ERs in his last 20 IP and has a 31:3 K:BB ratio.

3) Christian Friedrich, LHP – We felt Friedrich was the second best college pitcher available in the 2008 draft, but attending Eastern Kentucky kept him a bit under the radar screen entering the season. Friedrich dominated SAL hitters, fanning 66 in 45 IP. Going to the CAL, we thought he would face a stiffer challenge. So far, not so much. Friedrich has a 1.32 ERA in the hitter friendly California (CAL) League. Over the last two weeks he has put up a, 0.49 ERA, a 1.036 WHIP, with a 29:8 K:BB ratio. CAL hitters are batting a paltry .175 against him.

4) Casey Crosby, LHP, DET – The Tigers top prospect is 4th in the MWL in ERA, 5th in WHIP and 3rd in strikeouts. At 20yo, he has established himself as the circuit’s top pitching prospect, posting a league best ERA since the middle of June (0.78 ERA), and allowing only 1 ER since July 15.. Over the last two weeks, Crosby has posted a 0.00 ERA, a 0.675 WHIP, and a 13:2 K:BB ratio. On the year MWL hitters are batting .196 against him and he has 115 strikeouts in 99 IP.

5) Randall Delgado, RHP, ATL – The 19yo Delgado posted a top 10 age-adjusted season in the DSL in 2007, a top 5 age-adjusted season in the APY in 2008, and thus far has 112 Ks in 102 IP in the SAL this year. With additional projection left in his 6’3 frame, he should eventually have a mid-90s fastball, to go along with secondary offerings that have Major League potential. Over the last two weeks, Delgado has a 1.38, a 0.538 WHIP and a 16:1 K:BB ratio. Still fairly raw, Delgado should be on your radar screen.

6) Anthony Slama, RHP, MIN – Entering the season, during his professional career, Salama had allowed opposing hitters to a .168 average against him and whiffed 13.9 batters per 9IP. With a 2.48 ERA and a 12.8 K/9IP in the ESL this year, Slama looks poised to help the Twins with a September call-up. One of the games better relief pitching prospects, Slama is working on an 11 inning scoreless streak, where he has posted a 1.000 WHIP and a 16:7 K:BB ratio.

7) Jordan Lyles, RHP, HOU – The 18yo Lyles is having an eye-popping season, where he has fanned 146 batters in 123 SAL innings. Over the last two weeks, Lyles has a 1.42 ERA, 0.789 WHIP, with a 21:4 K:BB ratio. The baseball world was certainly surprised when the Astros made Lyles a supplemental 1st round pick in 2008, but, at least for now, it is the Astros that appear to hold the last laugh.

8) Felix Cespedes, RHP, PHI – This week’s ‘Who’s He? Award’ winner, Cespedes was the DSL pitcher who tossed a 9 inning perfect game a couple of weeks ago, only to see his bullpen lose the game in the 10th. With a 6’3 frame that should allow plenty of projection, he currently is posting the Dominican Summer (DSL) League’s best age-adjusted season with a 2.97 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 72 innings. Over the last two weeks, Cespedes has a 0.78 ERA, 0.522 WHIP and a 29:1 K:BB ratio. Oh, did I mention that he’s barely 18yo.

9) Martin Perez, LHP, TEX – Second in the SAL, with a 2.31 ERA, despite being the league’s youngest starting pitcher, Perez hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in an outing since the calendar turned to July. But that isn’t the real story. The real story is that tonight, the 18yo makes his Texas (TXL) League debut—nearly two full years younger than any other pitcher in the league. Already with a fastball that often touches the mid-90s, and a curve-ball with tremendous late ‘bite’, Perez is remarkably mature beyond his years. When the prospect lists come out this off-season, expect to find Perez in the top half of most top 100s.

10) Jaime Garcia, LHP, STL – A great comeback story, Garcia underwent Tommy John surgery last September and remarkably returned to the mound this July. While control is typically the last thing to return after TJ surgery, Garcia has a 14:1 K:BB ratio in 4 outings since his return. Add to that a 1.64 ERA and a 0.727 WHIP, and the Cardinals should have another quality arm by the start of 2009.

The Nots –
1) Lars Anderson, 1B, BOS – While this is Anderson’s 4th appearance on the list this year, each of the previous times we have cautioned to not worry too much, that he is still just a 21yo, and is already in AA. It’s time to begin to worry. With a .034/.152/.034 performance over the last two weeks, Anderson’s OPS has slipped under .700 OPS for the year. More disturbing is his seemingly AWOL power stroke, as he is slugging only .361 for the year with only 8 HRs in 368 ABs. Anderson has always had a propensity to strikeout (roughly 25% K rate) and improving that will be required to be successful as he moves up, but right now that is the least of his worries. He is easily one of the most disappointing stories of 2009.

2) Brooks Brown, RHP, DET – A supplemental first round pick in 2006, Brown started 2009 by dominating the ESL in 37 innings. A promotion to Toledo has been a bit tougher on the 23yo. Over the last two weeks, Brown has a 9.82 ERA, a 2.864 WHIP with a 1:9 K:BB ratio.

3) Yamaico Navarro, SS, BOS – After a .915 OPS in the Carolina (CAR) League, the Red Sox promoted to the ESL, where things have gone downhill rapidly. Over the last two weeks, Navarro has posted a .119/.178/.143 and is beginning to look like a long-term utility infielder.

4) Esmil Rogers, RHP, COL – The 23yo Rogers opened the 2009 season by dominating TXL hitters, and he looked like one of the organizations top prospects. We’re taking a step back on that since his promotion. Over the last two weeks, Rogers has posted a 11.00 ERA, a 2.222 WHIP and a 6:5 K:BB ratio, leaving him with a 6.75 ERA in the Pacific Coast (PCL) League.

5) Adrian Cardenas, 2B, OAK – The 21yo Cardenas earned himself a promotion to AAA by posting a .838 OPS in the Texas (TXL) League. After 26 games and a .490 OPS, it is beginning to look like it is a little too much, too soon. Cardenas has posted a .122/.200/.122 over the last two weeks.

6) Troy Patton, LHP, BAL – Troy Patton’s comeback from shoulder surgery was one of the feel good stories of the season’s first half. His results since being promoted to the International (INT) League are far less encouraging. A 8.31 ERA, 1.962 WHIP, 5:5 K:BB ratio leaves him with an INT ERA of 6.45.

7) Chris Valaika, SS, CIN – There were many that thought that Valaika would end up as the Reds’ everyday SS by the end of this season. Now they are wondering if he has enough tools to be an everyday player in the Big Leagues. A .180/.180/.200 over the last two weeks has dropped the 23yo’s OPS to .536 on the year. He isn’t really a SS at the next level, and there are serious questions as to how much he will hit.

8) Evan Frederickson, LHP, MIL – Frederickson was the Brewers’ supplemental first round pick in 2008, but he has yet to deliver on his promise. After a 5.06 ERA in his 2008 debut, the 22yo has struggled to a 5.17 ERA this year, with MWL hitters batting .281 against her. Over the last two weeks, Frederickson has a 6.97 ERA, a 2.419 WHIP and a 10:13 K:BB ratio.

9) Juan Duran, OF, CIN – As only a 17yo, it is way too early to read anything substantial into Duran’s long-term future, but his Gulf Coast (GCL) League performance is a stark reminder as to the riskiness in paying huge ($2.0 million) bonuses to 16yo Latin American kids. A .154/.154/.256 over the last two weeks leaves Duran with a .521 OPS in 127 GCL ABs.

10) Jarrod Parker, RHP, ARZ – Those that have seen him pitch this year have called his stuff, arguably the best in the Minor’s. Unfortunately, in his last start he yielded 5 Runs and 8 Hits in 4 innings worth of work. Departing with a ‘sore’ elbow, Parker visited TJ surgeon extraordinaire Dr. James Andrews. The word at the moment is that his season is done but that rest and rehabilitation will be the course of action. These aren’t good signs, but it could be worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment