Monday, March 31, 2008

Headed for the Hall?

I really wanted the Braves to come back and win against Washington last night, but the Ryan Zimmerman walk-off home run was a perfect ending to such a special night of baseball. Zimmerman is a great ball player, and the Nationals deserve to have some success this year and over the next decade. While watching the post-game interviews and highlights, I started thinking about how many Future Hall of Famers were on the field Sunday night, as well as how many other young players will be Hall of Fame candidates in 20 years or so.

Here's the list I came up with for Future Hall of Famers that were in the building Sunday night:

  • Chipper Jones
  • Jeff Francoeur
  • Tom Glavine
  • John Smoltz
  • Bobby Cox
  • Ryan Zimmerman
I realize that Francoeur and Zimmerman are both very young and unproven, but I think they have the capacity and body type to have long and very productive careers.

As for other Future Hall of Famers just beginning their careers, here's a short list I came up with:

  • Troy Tulowitzki
  • Billy Butler
  • Joe Mauer
  • Prince Fielder
  • David Wright
  • Miguel Cabrera

I didn't want to include any pitchers since their careers can easily be ruined by injuries. Of the 4 players above, I think Butler and Fielder are the most questionable due to their body types, but the definitely have the talent, and I think they both are intelligent and mature enough to realize that they'll have to take care of their bodies to reach their potential. Tulowitzki won't be the most prolific offensive shortstop to ever play, but his defensive and offensive skills combined make him very Cal Ripken-esque. Cabrera falls into the "bad body type" category, but I think as he matures and takes on more responsibility, he'll take proper care of himself.

Other players I thought about including in the list were Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore, and Brian McCann, but none of those players seem to have the right mix of talent and potential for long, productive careers. Ramirez is probably the closest to being Hall of Fame caliber, but his defense is so terrible that I can't really include him in the list. Reyes is so dependent on his speed that I don't foresee his career being worthy of the Hall, and Sizemore doesn't have enough offensive talent for his position to put him in with other elite center fielders.

You may have your own short list of Future Hall of Famers, and you may very well have various disagreements with my list, so feel free to post your own list and opinions.

-Adam G.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Almost Here!

I want to apologize for the sporadic posting, but unfortunately I'm afraid my school schedule isn't going to lighten up for another month to 6 weeks, so I can't promise that I'll be able to do any better than I'm currently doing.

However, the season is about to begin, and that will give us plenty more to talk about, and we can finally see which players are going to live up to expectations and which ones will fall flat on their faces. Here are a few things I've been thinking about the past few weeks:

  • Cubs fans will be very happy the Brian Roberts trade didn't go through
  • The Mets deserve Omar Minaya, and Omar Minaya deserves to lose every game to the Nationals this year while polishing Lastings Milledge's cleats after every defeat
  • Miguel Cabrera is going to have an insane year
  • Troy Tulowitzki has HOF written all over him
  • Matt Laporta has OF written all over him
  • Yunel Escobar
  • I give Francisco Liriano less than a month before he's out of AAA and back with the Twins
Anyways, I'm really excited for the season to start (those 2 games in Japan don't really count), and I hope my fantasy team does well. I promise I'll try to keep posting frequently, so check back now and then.

-Adam G.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2008 Top 20 Pitching Prospects

Hey everybody, it's time for Spring Break (at least for me it is)! No tests, no studying, just sleeping, eating, watching baseball, and talking prospects! First things first, I want to throw out a list of the top pitching prospects out there right now. Some of them have already had their major league debut, while others are still working their way up.

There's a lot of good pitching prospects out there, but sometimes it's hard to really determine which ones are headed for major league success and which ones are going to be major busts. Injuries tend to put an end to a lot of pitchers' careers before they really ever get started, so that's always something that needs to be considered when compiling lists like this one. The other factor to keep in mind is ground ball rates, since those numbers are often overlooked but play a major role in the success of a young pitcher. Since there are so many prospects out there, I've decided to make a list of the top 20 instead of the top 10.

So, here we go...

1. Joba Chamberlain --
Some would put Clay Buchholz in this spot, while others would put Philip Hughes here, but when you combine Joba's K/9 rates with his high ground ball rates, his overall make-up puts him at the top of this list. He also had a very low BB/9 rate last year, and as long as he can maintain good control, he'll be special.

2. Philip Hughes --
Hughes isn't far behind Chamberlain, and these 2 young pitchers could become a legendary duo in New York. Hughes has as much talent as Chamberlain, but he doesn't share the same ground ball tendencies, which is why Hughes comes in at #2. If I had to choose any 2 young pitchers not named Felix Hernandez to start a team, I'd take Hughes and Chamberlain and wouldn't think twice about it.

3. Jaime Garcia --
I still don't understand why Garcia doesn't get any kind of recognition for what he's been able to do thus far in his career. He doesn't have the sexy K/9 numbers that other top prospects have, but with a ground ball rate over 60%, a K/9 of 8, and a BB/9 under 3, Garcia has the make-up of a very good pitcher. I wouldn't be surprised to see him put up numbers similar to Fausto Carmona in the next couple of years.

4. Andrew Miller --
Miller is another pitcher that doesn't put up big strikeout totals, but his ground ball rate is around 70%, making him one of the best ground ball pitchers out there. He won't get much publicity now that he's with the Marlins, but if you get a chance to see him pitch sometime, don't pass up the opportunity. He's already had a few rough starts in '08, but I think he'll be just fine once he makes a few adjustments.

5. David Price --
Price was a dominant college pitcher in a pretty good conference, so I think his abilities should translate to professional ball fairly well. He showed a lot of talent this spring, but an mild elbow injury has him out for about another month. The injury doesn't sound serious, but the Rays are more than willing to postpone his major league action if it means they save a few bucks (see Evan Longoria). Price should post similar numbers to Tim Lincecum, with fewer walks, and if he keeps the ball down he could be better than almost anyone on this list.

5. Brett Anderson --
The trade that Oakland made with Arizona this off-season was pure genius. Arizona got a decent pitcher in the prime of his career, while Oakland ran off with almost enough young talent to field an entire team. Anderson has a K/9 of about 9.5 and a BB/9 rate of 1.5, which makes him a very good prospect, but his 57% ground ball rate makes him a very special prospect.

6. Clay Buchholz --
I really wanted to put Buchholz higher on this list, but my gut instinct won't let me. He has tons of talent, and the Red Sox will give him a better early education than almost any other team, but his ceiling is a little bit lower than some of the other pitchers above him. He'll put up some great numbers, but he'll also get shelled on occasion until he learns to keep the ball on the ground more often.

7. Chris Volstad --
Another guy without the K/9 rates to make impress anyone, but he's got good control and makes hitters put the ball on the ground. He doesn't get much recognition playing for the Marlins, but he'll do well for himself.

8. Sean Gallagher --
The Cubs almost traded away Gallagher for Brian Friggin' Roberts this spring, and had they done so, they would've deserved to go without a World Series Championship for at least another decade. Gallagher wasn't great in the majors last year, but he has enough talent to be a solid #3 or #4 starter early, and possibly a #1 starter in his prime. I expect 10-15 wins a year very soon.

9. Nick Adenhardt --
Adenhart gets a lot of buzz from west coast prospect enthusiasts, and most of it is legit. He's come a long way since his surgery a few years ago, and he'll make a fine middle-of-the-rotation started in the next year or so. Good command and good stuff.

10. Jacob McGee --
McGee keeps getting better and better, and I think he could have a long and productive career, but right now he's got David Price, Jason Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and Wade Davis to contend with, just to name a few. McGee should have similar success to Yovani Gallardo (if Gallardo pitched in the AL East), but he needs to work on keeping the ball low, as well as developing secondary pitches.

11. Michael Bowden --
Bowden was cruising through the minors up until mid-summer last year, but he has a good track record and a great work ethic, so I think he'll bounce back this year and be poised for a 2009 call-up in Boston. He's still very young, and his style is a little unorthodox, but you can't argue with the results.

12. Gio Gonzalez --
After bouncing around between the White Sox and the Phillies, the Athletics traded for Gonzalez this off-season with the hopes that he'd bring some good mojo to go along with his nasty curveball. He has almost identical stats to Jacob McGee, but Gonzalez is just a bit older, thus the lower ranking. He should do pretty well out in Oakland, and put up some solid numbers very soon.

13. Clayton Kershaw --
Everybody wants to put Kershaw in with the top 10 prospects in all of baseball, but I don't think he's even a top 10 pitching prospect at the moment. He's got good stuff, and he misses a lot of bats, but most of it isn't on purpose. His control is all over the place at times, he doesn't have the ability to keep the ball down when he wants to, and major league hitters will catch up to him pretty quickly. He'll be about as good as Chad Billingsley, which is pretty good, but he's no King Felix, or even Matt Cain for that matter.

14. Justin Masterson --
Masterson has done pretty well for himself thus far in his career, but he seems destined to be a 2-pitch bullpen specialist. He has good control, but his real strength is in keeping the ball on the ground, and if he develops a solid third pitch, he could be a pretty good starter down the road.

15. Homer Bailey -- I've already done a big write-up on Bailey, but I think he was way over-hyped, and will be a Carlos Zambrano type in a few years. Not great, but pretty good.

16. Wade Davis -- I think Davis will be a pretty good starter or a great bullpen guy for years to come, but he won't be better than his teammate Jacob McGee. Lots of ability, but a low ceiling will limit Davis' success.

17. Franklin Morales -- The key to Morales' success is his high GB%. Playing for Colorado, Morales will live and die by his ability to keep the ball down, and I think he's very capable of doing so. Like all Rockies pitchers he'll get hammered occasionally, but he's a great addition to a very good, young team.

18. Brooks Brown -- I would like to see Brown have more success at higher levels before officially jumping on his bandwagon, but he's another great ground ball pitcher that will make substantial contributions to a young and talented team. He's Mike Pelfrey, only better and playing in Arizona.

19. Johnny Cueto -- Cueto has had some great early success this year, and I even added him to my fantasy baseball team, but I have some serious reservations about how long he'll last before major league hitters catch up to him. He has good stuff, good control, but can leave the ball up sometimes and that could be a substantial issue in Cincinnati. He'll put it all together in a few years and make a great #2 or even a #1 at times, but don't be fooled by his early numbers.

20. Jair Jurrjens -- I think the Braves got a great young pitcher in Jurrjens, and the immediate impact of Yunel Escobar helps ease the pain of seeing Edgar Renteria head to Detroit. Jurrjens is capable of winning 10+ games this year, and 15+ in a couple of years, and he's in a perfect position to learn from Tom Glavine, who exhibited a very similar skill-set and comparable numbers early in his career.

So there you have it, my top 20 pitcher prospects. I left off guys like Rick Porcello and Jarrod Parker simply because I have no clue what they're capable of, and there were of course a lot of pitchers that were on the border of making the top 20. A few months from now we'll see how the list looks.

-Adam G.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Steve Pearce Homer, Daric Barton Power Potential

I have info from reliable sources (really just that Steve Pearce has hit another dinger today, giving him 4 for Spring Training. His average has tailed off a little bit, but I think that might have to do with him getting fewer at-bats and spending more time working on his new position in the outfield. Overall, I like what I see from him and I'm pretty sure the Pirates do, too.

Daric Barton has a couple of home runs since coming back from his short DL stint, and I think that his power surge in September last year might carry over into this season. If he keeps it up, he could be a 20-30 homerun hitter way before I expected him to be, and with his ability to hit for average he could be a very popular player in Oakland, as well as across the nation. I like his chances, but I'm still a little unsure about his ability to stay healthy. I guess we'll see.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey Cubs! Don't Do It!!

I've been keeping an eye on the rumors swirling about the Cubs and Brian Roberts, and I can't take it anymore! For the love of Chris Farley, don't trade Sean Gallagher!! Nobody (well, almost nobody) realizes it, but Gallagher is a very good young pitcher, and is far more likely to make a significant contribution over the next 3 years than Brian Roberts. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, the idiots running the Cubs are almost as stupid as the guys running the Mets, so this deal will probably happen sometime soon and Gallagher will be winning 15+ games a year in Baltimore very soon.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Promise I'm Not Dead

Though I wish I could sit down and write some good posts about some of the latest Spring Training highlights and news, I've been swamped with exams (I have something like 47 exams this semester, not counting finals), and there really hasn't been much time for anything outside of school. But, I did get to cut the brain out of my cadaver recently, and I just made my first veneers, so at least I'm learning something.

Anyways, I'm hoping to get some time to write a few posts next week, and I have spring break in 3 weeks, so hopefully I'll be able to have a few posts up around the first week of the regular season.

Right now, here's what's on my mind:

-Lastings Milledge is looking good

-Whenever the Rays play the Yankees this year, you can bet I'll be watching

-Pujols will have to have surgery at some point, but I really hope it can wait til 2015

-Poor Felix Pie...

-Cardinals fans shouldn't be too concerned about the lack of depth at pitching right now. Next year there will be a nice infusion of solid young talent.

-The Mets are going to bomb...again

Friday, March 7, 2008

Steve Pearce Alert!

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of Steve Pearce. He's been overlooked by a lot of people, but I don't think that will last for long. On Thursday Pearce launched his 3rd homer of the spring, giving him the top spot in the land along with Troy Tulowitzki. This early in the season, that doesn't really mean all that much, but there has been a small spike in trade rumors surrounding Xavier Nady, which leads me to believe that the Pirates really like what they see in Pearce and a move might come sooner than expected.

Through 8 games, here's Pearce's Spring Training stats:

AB -- 18
HR -- 3
RBI -- 6

A Daric Barton Bummer

One of the guys I was really excited about watching this year has already hit a bump in the road. Actually, he hit a bump last season, but it's taking its toll on him now. Daric Barton has missed the last 5 of Oakland's Spring Training games due to bruised left hand that he originally injured in AAA ball last summer, and it seems that no one is sure of when he will return to the line-up. Barton was sent to see an orthopedist Thursday to evaluate the extent of his injury, but no results have been released.

I'm really hoping that Barton gets this all worked out and is able to get back on the field soon. He's got a ton of talent and could really contribute to the Athletic's '08 season, but so far he hasn't shown a lot of durability during his short career. Little hand injuries like the one he is battling now could ruin his ability to make contact, and missing vital opportunities to develop his talent could really stunt his growth. I'm going to remain optimistic about him, but this hand injury sounds like bad news.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This Made My Day...

While trying to put off studying for a biochem exam, I came across this article at the Hardball Times. I don't know if anyone else cares for this stuff, but Jeff Sackman and and Kent Bonham are endeavoring to compile accurate college stats, a task that seems quite daunting considering the lack of data most college teams keep. I asked a friend who played at the college level what kind of books his team kept, and he said it was all fairly basic since the in-game score keeping was usually done by hired help from the local high school.

I'm especially interested in college data as it pertains to ground ball rates for college pitchers. I have been looking for ground ball stats for months now with no success, but I'm pretty sure that some major league teams have a certain level of knowledge about which pitchers have extreme ground ball tendencies. The Red Sox and Cardinals are just 2 teams that seem to show a knack for drafting college pitchers with solid ground ball tendencies.

It strikes me as an extremely nerdy thing to get excited about, but I really can't wait until the release of a detailed college stats. So far the correlations between college and minor league stats seems difficult to judge, but I think there will be some very valuable discoveries once enough data is available.