Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In Retrospect: 2008 Top 10 Hitting Prospects

Below is the Top 10 Hitting Prospects list I wrote up prior to the 2008 season, along with my comments on each hitter at that time. I have also included comments to follow up on where I stand on each hitter now that the season is over.

When I sat down to make this list, I wanted to combine hitter potential with actual current development levels, which means that I had to go against popular beliefs with some of my choices. But if my list looked just like every other list then why bother making one? Anyways, here it is...

1. Evan Longoria

Pre-2008: A lot of lists have either Longoria or Jay Bruce at the top, and I have to go with Longoria here. He’s a more complete hitter right now than Bruce and can handle the hot corner at third. I would take him over Alex Gordon, and I think he compares very well to Mark Teixeira and Frank Thomas, with a slightly higher strikeout rate. I think he could easily top 30 home runs in the next couple of years with the Rays, and he has the power to hit 40 or more once he settles in. Tampa Bay is a low stress environment for a young player just starting out, and with a line-up that already features Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena I think Longoria will blend right in.

Post 2008: I still believe that Longoria was the best hitter in the group this year (that doesn't include guys like Matt LaPorta and Matt Wieters who had played very little pro ball prior to '08). His performance with the Rays this year showed that he could definitely handle big league pitching, and his defense is fantastic. I worry that injuries could effect his career, but that doesn't change the fact that he'll be a great hitter when healthy.

2. Jay Bruce

Pre-2008: I am hesitant to put Bruce so high on my list simply because his plate discipline isn’t as good as it should be, but he proved that he could be successful at AAA at a very young age, and that has to be taken into account. His work ethic is solid and he’ll be in a Reds line-up that should spare him too much responsibility too soon, so I think he could be a mid-summer call up with solid early production. His power numbers are comparable to Longoria’s, but his strikeout rate is worse than Delmon Young’s and almost as bad as Brandon Wood’s, so expect some growing pains.

Post 2008: Bruce would still get the #2 spot, and I think my concern over his strike out rate proved to be correct. His AAA numbers were very good, but once pitchers figured him out in the majors, his numbers took a dive. Now that the Reds will no longer have Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr., I'm worried that the team and fans will rely too much on Bruce and he won't be able to meet their expectations or maintain his confidence.

3. Daric Barton

Pre-2008: By now I can hear several of you wondering out loud what I’ve been smoking, but stick with me for just a second. Barton is perhaps one of the most advanced hitters to come through the minors in a while, and should easily nail down a starting job with the Athletics this spring. He reminds me of J.D. Drew with a little less power, which might scare some people off, but both Drew and Barton are on-base machines. Barton won’t put up flashy numbers, and it might take him a few years before he breaks 25 homeruns, but he’s an excellent hitter that should have a very good early career. His recent power surge (4 HRs in 82 plate appearances with the Oakland Athletics) might be a sign of things to come. Hitting out of the #2 spot, Barton will see a lot more good pitches that he can pull down the right field line.

Post 2008: I have to say that I was off with this one. Barton is a very advanced hitter, but his numbers from '08 suggest that he'll take some time to adjust and develop a bit more. However, his second half numbers showed some remarkable improvements in his walk and strikeout rates, and I think 2009 will be a much better year for Barton. He probably belongs somewhere around #6 or #7 on this list.

4. Steve Pearce

Pre-2008: Here’s where I’m sure I’m going to lose a few of you. If Pearce played for anyone but the Pirates he would be a lot higher on this year’s various prospect lists, and as it stands it looks like the Pirates don’t even want to play him. He’s better than Hunter Pence and Jason Bay at the plate, and should be a nice summer surprise. He has 30-35 home run potential on the low side and will hit for solid average. I like him a lot and hope he gets a shot at an outfield position sometime soon. If he has a good spring I don’t think the Pirates can afford to hold him back much longer.

Post 2008: Well, the Pirates did exactly what they should not have done. They let Pearce prove himself in Spring Training, and then sent him back down to AAA where he never really reestablished his 2007 numbers. I'm sure the whole experience rattled his confidence, and it proved once again that the Pirates have no idea what to do with talented prospects. I expect a significant rebound in 2009.

5. Colby Rasmus

Pre-2008: Rasmus is young, plays good defense and compares well to Larry Walker. His power isn’t as developed as Jay Bruce’s, but Rasmus will put up some 30+ home run season in St. Louis, while hitting in the .270-.290 range. For his sake I hope Cardinals fans don’t expect too much too soon from him, but he will eventually become a very good all-around player with extra power.

Post 2008: Putting Rasmus at #5 seems to be an appropriate ranking, and my previous projections are unchanged.

6. Chris Marrero

Pre-2008: Travis Snider gets all the love, but Marrero is already a better hitter at a younger age. He has 40+ home run power right now that could develop even further as he grows, and he has a very good approach at the plate. Pencil in plenty of opportunity to play early and often for the Nationals and you’ve got a recipe for a very good hitter.

Post 2008: I think I gave Marrero too much credit too soon. I still believe he has 40+ home run power, but he should probably have fallen in at #8-10 on this list behind Chris Davis and Fernando Martinez. We have to remember that Marrero broke his leg in June, so it's hard to say how his season might have ended, but I'm going to wait to see how his first 200-300 plate appearances go in 2009 before revisiting his potential major league success.

7. Chris Davis

Pre-2008: Davis is another very much over-looked hitter simply because he plays for the Rangers, and not some popular east coast team. A lot of prospect lists have shied away from him, claiming that he’s a one-tool player, but when that one tool is 50+ home run power, I don’t think you can justify overlooking Davis. His recent success at AA has convinced a lot of people –especially the Rangers—that Davis is for real and destined for great things. He compares very well to David Ortiz and Chris Young, and I think he’ll be just as good at the plate as Rasmus, if not better. He’ll post an early OPS of .825-.850, and reach the 40 home run mark within 1,500 plate appearances. Playing in Texas and in the American League should help his power numbers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jack 50+ home runs in his late 20’s. Davis' teammate Taylor Teagarden is also a very good hitter worth keeping an eye on.

Post 2008: Looking back, I should have had the confidence to put Davis in the top 5, but I was too afraid to go out on a limb and embarrass myself. When I originally wrote this post, Davis had yet to make a top 50 appearance on any major prospect list, and there might have been a handful of people who agreed with my assessment of him. But 2008 proved to be a spectacular year for Davis, and convinced me to not worry about what everyone else thinks and go with my gut when arranging these lists. For anyone interested, Bill James is projecting 40 HR, 118 RBIs, and a .302 average for Davis in 2009. I personally think that's a bit generous considering the guy has less than 400 major league plate appearances, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Davis actually matches those numbers.

8. Fernando Martinez

Pre-2008: Though Martinez gets credit for having a lot of projectable skills like power and speed, I think he’ll make a solid major league player even if those skills never fully develop. As it stands, I think he’ll hit 20+ home runs early in his career and top 30 home runs in his mid-20’s, and he has a nice plate approach for such a young age. Any power he adds beyond that is icing on the cake, and I think he could become as good of a hitter as B.J. Upton or Carlos Lee in the future. The Mets are sold on him and as their only current noteworthy prospect Martinez should have an outfield spot reserved for him in the coming years. He won't live up to the New York hype machine, but he'll still be a very good player. I would like to see him exhibit more speed in the future, but like I said before, it's not an absolute must.

Post 2008: Martinez maintained his numbers through '08 and seems on track to meet most reasonably expectations in a few years.

9. Hank Conger

Pre-2008: If you think switch hitting catchers are hard to come by, try finding a switch hitting catcher that has .300/30 home run potential. They don’t come often, so I think Hank Conger deserves to be on this list. With a season in the California league up next, I think Conger will fully establish himself as one of the best prospects out there.

Post 2008: When I heard last spring that Conger has suffered a shoulder injury, I was concerned that his career might take a drastic turn for the worse. However, Conger ended the year with his best numbers yet, and looks solid for the 2009 season.

10. Carlos Gonzalez

Pre-2008: Coming up with the #10 player is hard to do because I’m not sure who to leave off the list. There are a lot of good, young hitters out there, but I think Gonzalez has earned the #10 spot. He has 30+ home run potential and should see plenty of playing time in Oakland. He has much more plate discipline than Cameron Maybin, and compares very well to guys like Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano.

Post 2008: I still like Gonzalez, but he has bounced around a lot lately due to various trades, and I'm not sure what to expect from him in '09.

Well, that's it for now. Overall, I'd give myself a B- for 2008. I got most of the rankings for the big names right, but didn't go with my gut a few times and paid for it. Hopefully I'll do better in next season. Let me know if you have any thoughts about the above list, or what you think the 2009 Top 10 hitters list should look like.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Josh Reddick Videos

Here's a few clips of Josh Reddick from YouTube.  Nothing amazing to see here, but for those of you who like to see a prospect in action, this is the best I can do for now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

TPC Time Machine: Troy Glaus

While watching Evan Longoria this past season, I started digging around to see what other third basemen he matched up well against, and to my surprise, I ran across Troy Glaus.  At first I thought there had to be some kind of mistake, but once I began looking at the numbers, it turned out to be a pretty close fit.  

In fact, Glaus had much better power at 21 years old than Longoria did, and his plate discipline was a bit more advanced.  The only problem with comparing Glaus to Longoria is that Glaus had a total of 227 plate appearances in the minors before being called up to the majors, so the chances of the numbers being skewed due to such a small sample size is relatively high.

With that in mind, I dug around and found a few other third basemen that showed equivalent potential at an early age.

(Please note that I only included each players most extensive stats from AA for the sake of comparison.)

I was amazed to find that Adrian Beltre and Eric Chavez both posted better numbers than Longoria at younger ages.  What ever happened to those guys?  Those were elite caliber numbers they put up, and now they both struggle to hit over 25 home runs in a single season.  And Ryan Zimmerman, while not as impressive at AA, has seen a steady decline in his production every year since his rookie campaign.  

And what about Glaus?  At 23 years old he hit 47 home runs and posted an OPS of 1.008, followed by 41 home runs the next year.  Since then, his career OPS has dive bombed to .858.  So, what's the deal here?

There really is no simple answer, but the most basic of answers is injuries and steroids.  Each of the above players has spent some time on the DL due to shoulder, back, or other injuries (including a ruptured appendix that Beltre suffered back in 2001 in the Dominican Republic), and at least Glaus' name has been linked to steroids.  Of course, injuries and steroids have not been confined to young, talented third basemen, so there could be some other common thread linking the demise of these 4 players, but there aren't many other positions on the field that require quick, high impact dives and long, akward throws as frequently as third base.  Other than catcher, it is perhaps the most physically demanding position on the field, and can quickly grind away at a player's back, knees, ankles, and shoulders, all effecting bat speed, blance, torque, and power generation.

Is Evan Longoria destined to become another talented, yet oft injured third baseman?  Not necessarily.  But, his ability to stay off the DL will likely determine whether he is remembered as just another good third baseman, or a Hall of Fame level player.       

Monday, December 22, 2008

BoSox Prospect Watchlist: Josh Reddick and Nick Hagadone

Hey guys, I was cruising ebay looking at card prices, and I noticed that Josh Reddick's autographed Bowman Chrome card is going for about $10.  I thought that seemed a bit low for a guy that has done very well in the minors and plays for a big team like Boston, especially when you consider that Lars Anderson's autographed Bowman Chrome card is going for $50 or more as of late.  There's a basic stat comparison post at the Baseball Think Factory from July comparing the 2 players, but I don't think it goes far enough with analyzing Reddick's potential.  If he keeps up his stats in 2009, he will compare very well to some very good current ball players.   Here's a quick and basic side-by-side comparison of Reddick and some current major league players with similar minor league stats, as well as the minor league stats of Lars Anderson.

By the age of 25, Morneau posted a .321 average with 34 home runs and 130 RBI, while Quentin hit .288 with 36 home runs and 100 RBI.  Could Reddick post similar numbers in a few years?  I don't see why not.  He doesn't walk quite as much as Morneau and Quentin, but his power potential is significant enough that I can overlook such a minor difference.  

Reddick also plays the field very well, and if he remains in right field, there won't be much talent blocking him from moving up over the next 2 to 3 years (J.D. Drew could put up some competition, but by the time he turns 35 in 2010, Reddick will be just as productive and cost a whole lot less money).  Meanwhile, Lars Anderson could be blocked by the signing of a slugger like Mark Teixeira.  

Anyways, long story short, I think a lot of people have completely overlooked Reddick's potential, so I bought a handful of his cards off ebay.    

Another Red Sox player I'll be watching this year is Nick Hagadone, who underwent Tommy John surgery last season, and is expected to return to the mound by May 2009.  While he only logged 34 total innings in the minors before his injury, Hagadone struck out 45 while maintaining a GB% of 65%.  If he can reestablish those types of numbers, he'll be in the majors by late 2010.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

In Retrospect: 2008 Top 20 Pitching Prospects (#10-20)

Here are my picks for the number 10 through 20 pitching prospects entering 2008, along with my comments from the time I posted the list, as well as my thoughts on each pitcher now that the 2008 season has come and gone.

10. Jacob McGee --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: With a season cut short by Tommy John surgery, there's not much to say about McGee.  Hopefully he'll be back and good to go by spring 2010.

11. Michael Bowden --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: The results were there, and Bowden actually got a short and sweet 5 innings with the Red Sox.  I still like Bowden in the top 15.  Not dominant, but good stuff, with solid potential.

12. Gio Gonzalez --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Well, Gonzalez kind of crashed and burned in 2008.  His K% dropped at AAA and with the A's, his BB% also went up, and his GB% went down at each level.  All together, it culminated in a September 8th outing against Detroit during which Gonzalez gave up 9 runs in 1.2 innings, including 3 home runs, a triple, and 2 walks.  While I believe the talent is still there, it isn't certain if Gonzalez will have the confidence to rebound in 2009.

13. Clayton Kershaw --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: I'll be the first to admit that I was too hard on Kershaw.  He probably should have been in the top 10, and maybe even in the top 5.  I think the Dodgers rushed him a bit, but he'll be fine.  

14. Justin Masterson --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008:  Masterson did a great job coming out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, but I think they really want to put him in the rotation and keep him there for good, and it looks like he won't be forced to spend his career coming out of th pen.  Then again, things could always change.

15. Homer Bailey -- 

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Not much to talk about here.  Hopefully, none of you "invested" in Homer Bailey rookie cards.

16. Wade Davis -- 

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Once again, Davis had a solid year, and should have a chance at getting a spot on the major league roster this spring.  With Kazmir, Shields, Garza, and Price ahead of him, he'll be a #5 starter at best in 2009, or perhaps a consistent part of the bullpen.

17. Franklin Morales -- 

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Morales had a very tough 2008 season.  His K% and GB% both dropped like rocks, and his BB% sat around 15% for the year.  I expect to see better results in 2009, but nothing spectacular.

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.

Post-2008: While Brown wasn't horrible in '08, he wasn't great either.  Still not sold on him and would not include him in the top 20 on this list.

19. Johnny Cueto -- 

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: My thoughts on Cueto haven't changed much.  Above average ceiling, but not an immediate ace like some thought he would be in April.  

20. Jair Jurrjens -- 

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Jurrjens had a solid year, but had some trouble at times getting hitters out.  We'll see some good progression from him over the years, but don't expect too much.  

So there it is.  A look back at the 2008 top 20 pitching prospects here at The Prospect Corner.  I nailed a few, missed a few, and I guess that's just how it goes.  The 2009 list looks a whole lot different, so be on the lookout.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Retrospect: 2008 Top 20 Pitching Prospects (#1-10)

Finals are over, I finally have my laptop working again with a new power cord, and my stocks are up 20% since the beginning of November! What does that mean? It means I'm feeling good and it's time to talk baseball.

Before we get started looking forward to the 2009 season, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my rankings at the beginning of 2008. Here's my Top 20 pitcher's list with my original pre-2008 season commentary as well as post-2008 thoughts.

1. Joba Chamberlain --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: I think I was right on with putting Joba at the top. He's a special talent and proved it by posting a 2.60 ERA over 100 innings in the A.L. East. And don't forget, he did so at the ripe old age of 22. Compared to King Felix Hernandez, an equally talented 22 year old, Chamberlain matched him in BB%, GB%, and posted a K% of 28% which was a full 8% higher than Hernandez.

2. Philip Hughes --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Something went wrong with Hughes in 2008, and I think the Yankees know it. If I could do this list all over again, I'd probably drop Hughes down below guys like Brett Anderson and Brett Cecil. There are indications that Hughes is regaining his previous form by striking out 38 hitters over his last 30 innings at Winter Ball(which is great), but he has also allowed 14 earned runs (7 of which came in a 2.2 inning outing in October), and given up 14 walks. I think he has mostly suffered from odd injuries, high expectations, and being tossed back and forth between the minors and the majors all year, but he hasn't come near the type of performances we saw from him in 2006 and 2007. I think the talent is still there, and the Yankees are pursuing veteran pitchers this off-season, so maybe Hughes will have some time to work things out.

3. Jaime Garcia --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: I'm still sold on Garcia. He did very well at AA and AAA ball in '08, and I think by late 2009 or early 2010 we'll begin to see him put up some very dominant performances.  Still in my top 10, but maybe not my top 5.

4. Andrew Miller --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Rough is a good word to describe Miller's season. His GB% was creeping back up to his minor league average towards the end of the year, but his K% and BB% were all over the place, and it's hard to say when he'll truly settle down. As with Hughes, in retrospect I'd put Miller a bit farther down on this list.

5. David Price --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Price came no where near Lincecum's numbers in the minors, and I think he's likely to be more like A.J. Burnett or Ben Sheets. He's possibly a top 10 prospect on this list on a good day.

6. Brett Anderson --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: I think I've made it clear in other posts that I think Anderson is one of the top pitching prospects in the nation, along with Trevor Cahill, Brett Cecil, and Madison Bumgarner.  If I had a time machine, I'd go back and list Anderson, Cahill, and Cecil right behind Chamberlain on this list.  Unfortunately, last spring I didn't have Cahill or Cecil in my spreadsheets and they got completely overlooked, which makes me feel like a complete idiot.  But I'm making up for it now by letting the world know that these guys will be my top 3 pitching prospects going into 2009. 

7. Clay Buchholz --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: I think my gut feeling was right with Buchholz.  Good stuff, good team, but not the absolute best out there.  He got smacked around in 2008 and suffered from a BABIP of .361, but it will trend back towards .300, bringing his ERA down with it, so don't worry about his future.  He'll turn things around and be part of a great Boston pitching staff over the next 5-10 years.  

8. Chris Volstad --

Pre-2008: Another guy without the K/9 rates to 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.

Post-2008: Steady as a rock.  In 2008 with the Marlins, Volstad pitched 84 innings with a 2.88 ERA, and matched almost every single one of his minor league stats.  And if that wasn't impressive enough, in 37 innings away from home, Volstad posted an ERA of 1.95, including 6 shutout innings agains the Mets, and 6 shutout innings against the Phillies.  Not badfor a 21 year old kid.

9. Sean Gallagher --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: So the Cubs went and traded Gallagher anyways, and got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.  Big surprise.  With Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gallagher, and Gio Gonzalez, in 5 years watch for the A's to have perhaps one of the most dominant rotations since the mid-1990's Braves when Maddux, Glavine, and Smotlz were all in their prime.   

10. Nick Adenhardt --

Pre-2008: 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.

Post-2008: Bad AAA numbers, and his stats with the Angels were even worse.  Sme obvious regression issues with few bright spots.  Adenhart is definitely out of my top 10.  

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Quick Thoughts

Hey guys, got my laptop fixed, then my power cord promptly died on me. I've got finals going on right now as well, so things just aren't working out blog-wise.

Anyways, I just read an article at the Atlanta Journal Constitution website about the current condition of the Braves farm system. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about the matter, but let's get a few things clear about farm systems.

  1. Everyone has 1 or 2 Top 50 prospects, so don't get too excited when it happens. Do the math. If every team has a draft pick in the first round every year, and there are less than 50 total teams, then chances are pretty good that one of those draft picks will show up in the top 50 prospects over a three year period.
  2. The Braves have developed as many great pitchers over the past 2 decades as most of the other MLB teams. You can argue that Glavine was "developed" in the Braves system, but Smoltz and Maddux were both acquired via trade or free agency. To be honest, there are at least 5 other teams out there that have developed more pitching talent in their farm systems than the Braves have in the last 10 years.
  3. Teams on a budget will always be a disappointment to fans most of the time. Yes, of course low budget teams can be competitive and occasionally win a division, league, or even the World Series, but the teams that make annual trips to the Fall Classic do so with deep pockets. The great Braves teams of the mid to late 90's were not based around young farm talent. They were based around a select core of highly paid stars in the prime of their careers.
  4. Do NOT let your team trade away young farm talent for middle-of-the-rotation aging starters (ala Javier Vazquez). If you must trade away young talent, do so either for big name talent, or young talent that plays a different position. The Braves did neither of those things, and lost a talented young catcher in Thomas Flowers, and will have little to show for it come early April, and even less to show for it by 2010.
  5. Jordan Schaffer and Tommy Hanson are 4-star prospects AT BEST. Schaffer is really more of a 3-star prospect. And I won't waste your time or mine explaining my views on Hanson. If Frank Wren knows anything about prospects, he'll trade Hanson this off season for a talented young third baseman to replace Chipper "Old Bones" Jones in the next few years. Remember: sell high, and Hanson's stock will never be this high again.
Anyways, it's back to studying. For Christmas break, take some time to read some good books. May I suggest The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. If you have others you would suggest, add them below.