Friday, April 18, 2008

BA Hot List Predictions

With the second Baseball America Hot List set to come out soon, I thought I'd take a stab at predicting 2 players that will appear on the list.

1. Trevor Cahill
Cahill is having a ridiculous season thus far, with a 31% strike out rate, a meager 3% walk rate, and a ground ball rate sitting at 67%, making him one of the most impressive pitchers in the minors right now, even when compared to his teammate Brett Anderson. Trevor recently went 6 innings against San Jose, giving up 2 hits while striking out 9 and walking only 2.

2. Cale Iorg
(Before looking at Iorg's numbers, keep in mind that he spent the last 2 years in Portugal as a missionary, NOT playing baseball)
Since April 12th, Iorg is 12 for 20, with a home run in 3 straight games, 3 walks, and 1 strike out. He's also scored 8 runs in that same time period, with 6 RBI.

Other possible list appearances may include Steve Pearce, Gorkys Hernandez, and Deolis Guerra.

Prospect Update: Deolis Guerra

Deolis Guerra was on the fast track with the Mets until the Johan Santana trade sent him to the Twins, and though the talent is the same, the future for Guerra looks a little bit different these days. Instead of sending Guerra to AA to start the season as the Mets might have done, the Twins opted to send the 19 year old right handed pitcher back to A+ to work on developing his pitch repertoire, as well as his control.

So far, Guerra is showing the flashes of talent everyone thought he had hidden deep down in that 6' 5" frame of his, posting a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings, with 12 strike outs and 7 walks. Those K/9 and BB/9 rates are very similar to the numbers Guerra posted in A ball as a 17 year old. Looking at his game to game stats, if you ignore his second start of the year Guerra has actually averaged a K/9 of 9, and a BB/9 of less than 2. Numbers like those sustained over the next few months would put Guerra well in the path of a spot in the top 25 pitching prospects in the nation come this fall.

With Guerra's future being guided by the Twins, I think he'll only get better. I am concerned that his current BABIP of .214 will float back closer to .300, meaning that those impressive ERA stats will slowly rise over the summer. But if there's a farm system capable of squeezing the greatness of of Guerra, it's the Twins farm system, and he's in much better hands than he was with the Mets.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Baseball America Hot Sheet!

It's time for the Hot Sheets to start rolling out, and the first one this year has all your favorite prospects! Here's a quick look at this week's list:

  1. Tommy Hanson, RHP, Braves -- As a Braves fan, I'm excited to see a Braves pitching prospect top the list, but I'm not overly optimistic about a 21 year old pitching a few solid innings in High A ball. Hanson is a decent pitcher, but I don't expect great things from him for several years.
  2. Justin Masterson, RHP, Red Sox -- Masterson is also a little old for his level, but his control is really nice, as well as his sinker. Once again, I don't see great things in the near future for Masterson unless he comes out of the pen for the Sox.
  3. Todd Frazier, SS, Reds -- Frazier is another older player in a low level situation (22 years old in low A ball), but I like his approach at the plate and he plays well at his position. I'll be interested to see if his success continues at higher levels.
  4. Homer Bailey, RHP, Reds -- While Johnny Cueto has stolen the spotlight in Cincinnati, Bailey is slowly building his confidence at AAA ball. I expect him to be back with the major league team before too long.
  5. Brett Anderson, LHP, Athletics -- Anderson's stats on paper look nice, but when you consider that he has yet to give up a run in the California League, while striking out 13 hitters in 12 innings, it's easy to understand why he's on this list. Too bad Baseball America doesn't include ground ball stats.
  6. Cameron Maybin, CF, Marlins -- I'm really happy to see that the Marlins are taking their time with Maybin, as evidenced by his start at AA ball this year. He just turned 21, and he needs to regain his confidence and comfort level after his rough 2nd half with the Tigers last year.
  7. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles -- We all knew this guy could hit, but he missed a lot of playing time last year, so it's nice to see him get off to a fast start. He's another older guy at a lower level, but should move up quickly.
  8. Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies -- It looks like Stewart's power numbers are catching up to expectations, but he's also playing in a hitter's league. If he can find his way back to the major league level and put some zip on the ball, he could give the Rockies a boost come later this summer.
  9. Rick Porcello, RHP, Tigers -- Porcello's eventual signing with the Tigers came with a lot of publicity, and his start at High A ball surprised me a bit. But then I looked back at the way the Tigers treated Cameron Maybin, and it didn't seem so extreme to bring Porcello up so fast. He's shown good control with the ability to miss bats, so maybe we'll see him at AA or even AAA soon (although, with the way the Tigers are playing right now, they might get desperate enough to throw him in the majors and see what happens).
  10. Dexter Fowler, CF, Rockies -- I really hope Fowler gets a cool nickname soon, because Dexter just doesn't sound very intimidating, but his numbers right now are really all that matters. 3 triples, 2 homers, and a slugging percentage of .742.
  11. David Purcey, RHP, Blue Jays -- I was really disappointed to see a 26 year old pitcher on the Hot Sheet, especially when all he did was 12 innings without embarrassing himself. Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez, and Fausto Carmona are all several years younger and way more talented than this guy, so why all the excitement?
  12. Gerardo Parra, CF, Diamondbacks -- Poor Parra. No matter what he does, there just isn't room for him in the Arizona outfield.
  13. Sean Rodriguz, 2B, Angels -- Rodriguez is another blocked prospect, and I honestly don't believe he has the talent to take over for the Angels in the near future at any position.

The Not So Hot List:

  1. Mike Moustakas, SS, Royals -- Slow starts happen, but Moustakas better turn it around fast if he wants to maintain his reputation.
  2. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays -- So Longoria has just 5 singles and 4 walks his first week. Big friggin' deal. I'd take Longoria over every single player on the Hot List right now.
  3. Barry Enright, RHP, Diamondbacks -- Shouldn't you make it somewhere near the Hot List before you can officially be put on the Not So Hot List? Maybe Enright should be put on the Not So Talented List. 7 IP, 5 BBs, 3 Ks.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How's Your Fantasy Team Looking?

I've played several different types of fantasy baseball in the past, but this year is the first year that I've played in a regular 5x5 rotisserie league. I must admit up front that my team is in last place, but I think I'm set to make some waves as the season progresses. I stacked my team with starting pitching and plenty of young prospects (of course), and I've kept a very close eye on other young players I may want to claim in the near future.

Unfortunately, about halfway through my league's draft, my dog Biscuit escaped from the backyard and was hit by a car, breaking both back legs. You can see in the x-rays where both femurs were broken just above the knee, and the left hip was dislocated as well.
I took him to the vet, who did an excellent job placing pins in Biscuit's broken femurs, and Biscuit is well on his way to a full recovery.
Much like Biscuit, my fantasy team needed some emergency attention over the first week of the season, but I think I've been able to make some nice moves to clean things up.

So far, here's what players from my team are doing:

  • Lastings Milledge -- I picked up Milledge simply because I felt he could hit for a decent average, pick up 20 home runs, and maybe swipe a few bags. I also thought he would have absolutely no competition to worry about and would be playing with a chip on his shoulder after leaving the Mets on such bad terms. Milledge has not disappointed and is currently hitting .316, with 1 home run, 5 RBI, and 6 runs scored. He hasn't stolen any bases yet, but I think he'll pick up about 15 this year.
  • Ivan Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera -- I really thought these 2 guys would come out blasting in Detroit, but the whole Tigers team has been a black hole of disappointment. Cabrera and Rodriguez are hitting a combined .145, with 1 home run, 3 RBI, and 6 runs scored. I expect a big turn-around soon, but they're both really dragging my team down right now.
  • Billy Butler -- I was hoping for a dinger or 2 from Butler by now, but with an average of .406 I really can't complain much. My biggest concern is that the Royals will fizzle out in the next month and Butler's RBI and run totals will evaporate into the thin Kansas air.
  • Daric Barton -- Barton looked really good this spring, but he's faced some really tough pitching so far this year, and his average and power numbers have taken a beating. He still has an 8/10 BB/SO ratio, which is incredible for a hitter his age, but his fantasy production has been limited to 7 runs scored and 1 RBI. I expect his power and average to pick up and the season progresses.
  • Carlos Gomez, Jeff Keppinger, and Johnny Cueto -- I claimed all 3 of these guys after about a week and so far they've done well for me. I think Gomez could top 50 stolen bases this year and hit about .280, while Keppinger is hitting .382, with 7 runs, 2 home runs, and 7 RBI. I had Cueto on my radar, but didn't expect him to be so effective so soon. There's no way he'll reproduce his 10 K, 1 hit debut performance on a frequent basis, but I think he'll be good for 5 to 7 K's a start, and could win 12 or 13 games. He also hasn't walked anyone in 18 innings, so I think he's found a nice groove and should be a solid starter for the next few months.
One big complaint I have with rotisserie league fantasy baseball is that it is so antiquated. Instead of measuring on-base percentage and slugging, I'm stuck with average (which doesn't take into account Miguel Cabrera's .300 on-base percentage, or Daric Barton's .366 on-base percentage). Rotisserie also gives equal weight to steals and home runs, which doesn't really make much sense. Actually, in my league stolen bases have more weight than home runs, because the team with the most stolen bases has 15, while the team with the most home runs has 22. I'm also disappointed that a pitcher's ground ball percentage gets no love.

Anyways, that's my fantasy team highlights and lowlights. Hopefully some of my key guys like Cabrera will pick it up soon, and then maybe I can scratch and claw my way back into contention. How's your team looking?

-Adam G.

Jordan Schafer Accused of HGH Use

Several sources are reporting that the investigative group created in the wake of the Mitchell Report has formally accused Braves prospect Jordan Schafer with HGH use. There is currently no test that is accurate enough to test for artificial HGH use, but according to reports, the committee began investigating Schafer during Spring Training and felt that they found sufficient evidence to bring the accusations to the public.

Schafer has been advised by his attorney to remain silent about the case until the official process has run its course. Meanwhile, Schafer will begin serving a 50 game suspension and is currently not playing for any of the Braves minor league teams.

Though it's sounds like a disappointing story for Braves fans, I'm not too worried about it. I felt that Schafer was extremely overrated to begin with , but an accusation of HGH use really doesn't translate into altered performance rates like an accusation of anabolic steroids use would. It also seems extremely premature to make an assumptions that Schafer was a prolific user, or that his use of HGH was sufficient enough to raise doubts about his performance last year.

After Schafer finishes up dealing with his case and suspension, he'll get back on track to being an above average .290/25 HR/20 SB center fielder that he was going to be before this whole HGH thing came to light. Good luck to him.