Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hots ‘n’ Nots – The Hitters

Stanton is on one of the biggest power tears in years

Two columns into the season and Mike Stanton is making the Hot Hitters list a bit boring, as he is presently on one of the greatest power tears in recent memory. Not only do his 13 Home Runs on the season lead all of professional baseball, but over his last ten games, entering today’s play, he has nine home runs and a 1.424 SLG. While there are a lot of big prospect names on this week’s list, no one was close to Stanton for the top spot.

HOT Hitters

1) Mike Stanton, RF, FLA -

The Southern League (SOL) is posing absolutely zero challenge to Stanton, as he has posted a .377/.500/1.057 line over the last two weeks, is hitting a home run approximately every 5 ABs, and is being pitched around so much that he is being walked every 5 PAs. While that 23% strikeout rate is still not a good thing, we think he’ll need to work on it in AAA, because this just isn’t a competition for him right now.

2) Mike Moustakas, 3B, KCR

Moustakas made a delayed start to the 2010 season because of nagging injuries, but he has wasted little time playing catch up. A .408/.473/.898 line over the last two weeks leaves him with a 1.408 OPS on the year, and makes his disappointing 2009 season look like a long forgotten past. The Royals are so convinced that he is their third baseman of the future that they sent Alex Gordon down to AAA to begin to learn to play Left Field. Only 21yo, we don’t expect him to make a Big League debut before September, but he is positioning himself to become the Royals’ everyday Third Baseman to open 2011.

3) Aaron Hicks, CF, MIN

It’s hard to believe that Hicks started the season by going 1 for 31. He’s been scorching ever since, and has posted a .447/.574/.660 over the last two weeks, which has brought his OPS up to .897 on the year. We still find it a bit disconcerting that the Twins returned him to the Midwest League (MWL) to open up 2010, but he should be showing his wares in the Florida State League (FSL) by month’s end.

4) Matt Davidson, 3B/1B, ARZ

Davidson was a key piece to the Diamondback’s 2009 draft class that is shaping up to be one of the better ones in recent memory with the likes of Bobby Borchering, Marc Krauss, A.J. Pollock, Ryan Wheeler, Chris Owing, Paul Goldschmidt and Mike Belfiore. Davidson is splitting time at 3B with Borchering in the MWL to open the year, but is likely to eventually move off the position. Wherever he ends up defensively, it looks like his bat is going to play, as he has posted a .444/.444/.796 over the last two weeks and is sporting a .992 OPS on the year.

5) Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL

We had Freeman ranked at #31 in our Top 500 list, a bit higher ranking than most. What we wonder now is what it is going to take to get Freeman mentioned in the same breath as some of the more elite prospects in the Minors, as all he does is impress. Only 20yo, with a solid glove and playing in AAA, Freeman has posted a .373/.458/.745 over the last two weeks and now has an .843 OPS on the year. The knock on him has always been his lack of power, but not only does he have four home runs in 98 ABs, he is carrying a .500 SLG. Doubters are making a huge mistake.

6) Austin Romine, C, NYY

While Jesus Montero may get all of the press, ‘inside baseball’ has already accepted that Romine is the most likely candidate to replace Posada when he hangs it up in another year or two. Only 21yo, Romine is dominating Eastern League (ESL) pitchers to the tune of .413/.491/.783 over the last two weeks, and is now sporting a .997 OPS on the year.

7) Dominic Brown, OF, PHI -

While we remain slower than most to truly embrace Brown as an elite prospect, he continues to turn heads with tremendous athleticism, going .375/.474/.844 over the last two weeks. Brown now has a 1.052 OPS on the year, and appears to be on track to make his big league debut this fall. We still worry about that 24% strikeout rate, and see him more in the above average, rather than superstar, mold, but there is no denying that he is one of the more exciting players to watch in the Minor Leagues.

8) Japhet Amador, 1B, Diablos-MEX

Amador is a name you likely won’t find anywhere else, but we have been watching Amador closely for two seasons now, as he was the Mexican League’s first draft pick in 2008 and the League’s Rookie of the Year in 2009. The Mexican League, in overall quality, is someplace between the U.S. AA and AAA Leagues. Amador is presently about as hot as Stanton, going .452/.553/1.032 over the last two weeks, but is also nearly three years his senior. Nonetheless, we continue to ask the question as to why no MLB team has signed him?

9) Brandon Belt, 1B, SFG

The Giants signed the University of Texas product and Lone Star state native last June for $200,000 after drafting him in the 5th round. While scouts knock his mechanics, so far all that Belt has done this season is mash, as he has posted a .378/.531/.676 line over the last two weeks, and has a 1.184 OPS on the year. We love his 17:8 BB:K ratio and can’t wait to see him after the 22yo moves up to face ESL pitchers.

10) Miguel Velazquez, OF, TEX

Velazquez was one of the better Puerto Rican players to ever be available to the draft entering the spring of 2006, but when he was implicated in a shooting incident, his stock fell and the Rangers, who scout Latin America as well as anyone, were able to select him in the 19th round. While he had an impressive 2007 debut, more troubles with the law, caused him to miss the entire 2008 season. Last summer, Velazquez appeared to get the ship righted, and he posted the #4 Performance Score in the Northwest League. He hasn’t let up this season, as he has drawn rave reviews from the scouting community, while posting a .354/.456/.729 over the last two weeks and a .963 OPS on the year. At 22yo, he is a bit old for the MWL, but because of his disruptions to his development, he remains rather raw. He could take a huge jump this season, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see him in the California League (CAL) before the month is out.


1) Kevin Ahrens, 3B, TOR

It is sometimes difficult to remember that Ahrens was considered the best prep hitter in the state of Texas when the Blue Jays made him the 16th overall pick in the 2007 draft. It hasn’t turned out that way as Ahrens has struggled at the plate ever since. It is difficult to decide when to give up on players that possess as much raw talent as Ahrens does, but after making his 2010 debut he has posted a .095/.208/.095 with no XBHs. With over 1000 professional ABs under his belt, it is difficult to see a way that he turns this around.

2) Miguel Rojas, SS, CIN

It is his remarkable glove that has garnered Rojas accolades as a prospect, so it comes as little surprise that he is struggling with the bat. However, after posting a .665 OPS in 2009, he has followed that up with a .521 OPS beginning to the 2010 season. Over the last two weeks, Rojas has posted a .136/.156/.159. While his glove is spectacular, there is a minimum performance level with the bat to get one to the Major Leagues. It is looking doubtful that Rojas possesses it.

3) Matt LaPorta, 1B, CLE

Considered a key piece to their rebuilding effort, the Indians were counting on LaPorta heavily this season. Over the last two weeks, he has posted a .167/.242/.167, dropping his OPS to .484 on the year. At 25yo, he should be showing more if he is ever going to be considered a key piece to anything.

4) Robert Stock, C, STL

Stock has been on the prospect radar screen since he was designated Baseball America’s Youth player of the year in 2005. He entered college early to allow him to get a degree and still be young enough to develop professionally. However college didn’t go as planned, and most thought that he would be drafted as a reliever last June when the Cardinals surprised everyone by taking him in the second round--as a catcher. It looked to be a move of brilliance when Stock posted a .936 OPS in the Appalachian League last summer. However, full season ball has not been so kind to Stock, and in 76 MWL ABs, he has now posted a sub-.500 OPS. Over the last two weeks, things have been worse, and Stock has posted a .125/.222/.156 with 11 Ks in 32 ABs. Still just 20yo, Stock has plenty of time to right the ship, but Cardinal fans have to be disappointed by the early goings.

5) Daryl Jones, OF, STL

After a breakout 2008 campaign, where Jones posted a .909 OPS in 124 Texas League (TXL) ABs, things have been pretty much downhill for Jones. A series of injuries were blamed for his disappointing 2009 season where he posted a .738 OPS in the same TXL. Now back in the TXL for a third go-round, things are getting worse, as a .150/.244/.175 line over the last two weeks, leaves Jones with a .601 OPS on the season. What’s perhaps more disturbing is that speed played such an integral role in his prospect status, and he now has but 10 SBs in his last 373 ABs. Oh yeah…his strikeout rates have risen every season since 2008. It is panic time if you own stock in Jones.

No comments:

Post a Comment