2008 Top 5 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

January 31, 2008

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today we continue with the prospect rich American League East as we check in with the seemingly endless Tampa Bay Rays system. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Evan Longoria, 3B: Longoria has natural power to all fields due to strong wrists and quick bat. Also has a knack for getting on base so look for a high OBP from him. Very good defensively at third base and while he has the athleticism to play a middle infield spot, look for him to stick at third base for the Rays. Longoria should end up with the Rays coming out of Spring Training in 2008 and truly is a star in the making.

2.) David Price, LHP: David Price is the best pitcher we have seen come out of college in a long time. His fastball runs 90-95 mph and has a tailing motion away from righties. The lanky-lefty also has a high-70’s slurve and a wicked 84-86 mph slider that he throws effectively with two strikes. Needs to get a third plus-pitch such as the change-up he is working on and can have control problems at times. Otherwise he is going to be something special as a pro (entire “Prospect Spotlight” scouting report).

3.) Jacob McGee, LHP: McGee has shown that he is a mature and crafty young left. His pitch selection include a low-90’s plus-fastball with very good movement and an above average changeup and curveball. While he has struggled in the past with control (especially with his secondary pitches) he has learned to harness them and has improved immensely in that area. McGee is just another great Devil Rays’ prospect.

4.) Wade Davis, RHP: Davis rounds out one of the best collection of young arms in any Minor League system. Davis is a hard thrower with a fastball in the upper-90’s and a sharp moving curve. He is currently working on refining at least one more pitch to help in his battles and to make his other two pitches that much more effective. Looks to land as a solid middle of the rotation guy or even as high as a number two starter.

5.) Reid Brignac, SS: Brignac would be a lot higher on this list but his less than impressive defense at a defensive position hurts him. This is in part due to the fact that he is a bit on the large side for a middle infielder. Despite any defensive inadequacies, he has shown he is a very good hitter and has proven to be one of the top offensive shortstops in the Minors.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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2008 Top 5 Prospects: New York Yankees

January 30, 2008

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today we will continue on with our journey around the American League East by checking up on the deep, rich and prospect-replenished New York Yankees organization. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Joba Chamberlain, RHP: Chamberlain has already proven to be a big time Major League pitcher coming out of the bullpen for the Yankees last season and causing Joba-fever everywhere. He has a mid to upper-90’s fastball, a sharp moving plus slider, and an improved changeup. The righty has plus stuff and plus command with a big frame that he uses for his power pitches. Has also learned to incorporate his secondary pitches more rather than relying strictly on fastballs. Looks to be moved to the rotation in 2008.

2.) Ian Kennedy, RHP: Kennedy is yet another great young pitching prospect in the Yankees organization. He has a four seam (88-94 mph) and two seam (a newer pitch at 89 mph) fastball, great command of a plus-changeup, as well as a curve and slider. Kennedy is a very intelligent pitcher choosing to set-up hitters and attack their weaknesses rather than try to overpower them. He has great mechanics and uses this and control to his advantage.

3.) Jose Tabata, OF: With some debate over who is the best Yankee outfield prospect, Tabata takes that honor thanks to his great hitting prowess. Tabata is an excellent hitter and hits the ball hard all over the field. Due to this and his great plate discipline, he looks to have the makeup to be a potential batting champion competitor someday. He has developing power that has been hampered by his lingering wrist injury so it will be interesting to see how he develops into a slugger once he heals. Is above average defensively and will round out at a corner outfield position.

4.) Austin Jackson, OF: Jackson is another shining star that the Yankees have waiting in the wings. Jackson is a good contact hitter with some good power potential. Needs a little more polishing at the plate to really establish himself (already started this by cutting down his strikeouts). He is a strong athlete who will be a very nice base stealer someday with his plus speed. Also transfers his speed well in the outfield and is also plus defensively.

5.) Alan Horne, RHP: After battling back from Tommy John surgery, Horne has now begun to regain his velocity. Horne posses a low to mid-90’s fastball (finally reaching back to about 95 mph), a hard 12-6 curve that drops out of nowhere, and a nasty hard slider all with great movement on them. Has developed nicely with his control and command but still has some bouts of inconsistency with his delivery. Due to this he can get into some ruts on the mound and can sometimes have troubling digging out. Looks to be a middle of the rotation guy someday in pinstripes.

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Santana Now a Met

January 29, 2008

[Here is a story I just broke in my column on “Twins Killings” over at MVN.com regarding Johan Santana’s trade. I’m actually pretty proud that I reported the story even before ESPN.com…]

It appears as if the Johan Santana sweepstakes have now ended. “USA Today” has reported here that the Twins will send the former two-time Cy Young winner to New York for Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.

The deal is currently pending Santana’s approval and the two sides agreeing on a contract extension.

For those not familiar with the players the Twins will be receiving, here are some brief scouting reports I recently put together on my personal baseball and prospect blog while analyzing the Mets’ farm system:

Deolis Guerra, RHP: Has a very raw talent that will begin to be solidified as he gets older and gets more work in. Large frame at 6’5” and 200 lbs with a mid-90’s fastball, plus change-up, and improving curve. It is crucial the Mets (now Twins) don’t move too fast with this kid and just let him develop as he has all the potential in the world.

Carlos Gomez, OF: Gomez looks to be an offensive threat due to his aggressive hitting approach and lighting quick speed. Incredibly fast and will wreak havoc at the top of the lineup. He has shown a lot of talent in the outfield especially with this strong arm and excellent ability to cover a lot of ground.

Kevin Mulvey, RHP: Mulvey has two solid pitches including a fastball (90-92 mph) and a changeup (82-84 mph which looks the same as his fastball coming out of his hand with very good movement). He also has a curveball and slider but neither are effective enough yet as an out pitch. It’s tough to tell exactly how he will progress, but I see him as a possible middle of the rotation type guy depending on if he can solidify a third pitch.

Stay tuned to “Twins Killings” or here at “The Diamond Cutter” for more as this story develops.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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2008 Top 5 Prospects: Boston Red Sox

January 28, 2008

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today we continue digging into the AL East with the prospect rich Boston Red Sox. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Clay Buchholz, RHP: Buchholz has already proven he has the tools and talent to be an ace in the big leagues. He has a mid-90’s fastball and an incredible set of pitches with a change up (one of the best in baseball) and knee-buckling curveball (both which can be unhittable) and puts it all together with great control. Very good at handling pressure and has the makeup to be a big game pitcher which is exactly what a team like Boston needs. Enough good stuff can’t be said about this youngster as he looks to have his eye on being one of the best young pitching prospects we’ve seen in a long time.

2.) Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: Ellsbury is an amazing athlete and will be a team leader for years to come. He has excellent speed and demonstrates that with his great base running ability as well as his superb glove in center field. Looks to be a great candidate to hit lead off for the Sox with very good gap power. Constantly compared to a young Johnny Damon only with a better swing. Has already proven himself at the Major League level to be a star in the making.

3.) Lars Anderson, 1B: This large left hander can generate incredible raw plus power with his slugger’s frame. Anderson also has an excellent eye at the plate, incredible plate discipline and pitch recognition and doesn’t chase pitches too often. Has a very smooth and even swing that helps him hit the ball well to all fields and projects to hit for both power and average with fantastic OBP’s. Anderson looks to be one of the best power hitting prospects in the game today.

4.) Jed Lowrie, SS: Lowrie looks to be a solid middle infielder at the Major League level with average range and a fairly good glove. Not sure if he will end up at shortstop or second base as he would be fine at both. Either way he seems to have good pop for a middle infielder and hits very well from both sides of the plate. Lowrie also has a great eye at the plate and does a great job at working pitchers and waiting for his pitch.

5.) Justin Masterson, RHP: Masterson was a very successful college closer and has been in the process of being converted to a starter. Masterson may be better suited for the bullpen and I believe will end up back there eventually. Two and four seam fastballs with good movement, solid slider (85-87 mph) and four-seam circle changeup (80-84 mph) with a very good drop.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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2008 Top 5 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles

January 25, 2008

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today we jump away from the National League and start digging into the AL East with the prospect hungry Baltimore Orioles. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Matt Wieters, C: Major League Baseball will soon have yet another strong offensive catcher thrust upon it once Wieters makes his debut. The switch hitting catcher has the tremendous ability to hit for average and power (better hitter from the left side and more power from the right). While he’s only an average catcher at best, if he can improve on his footwork and receiving skills a little more he should be ok. Otherwise a move to another position might be a good idea both defensively and to help preserve his bat.

2.) Chris Tillman, RHP: Just picked up in the Erik Bedard trade, he quickly took over the number two spot on this list thanks to the potential he has in the future. Right now Tillman looks to be a power pitcher with a fastball that sits 90-94 mph while at times reaching 96 mph. He also has a plus overhand 12-to-6 curve that falls in the mid-70’s with a nice sharp, late break on it. While Tillman does have a nice frame and mechanics, he will only be able to succeed in the Majors if he can begin to gain a little more control and command of his plus pitches. If he is able to continue to grow and develop in this area, he looks to be a solid number two starter someday.

3.) Troy Patten, LHP: If Troy Patten can fight off the injuries and his seemingly annual bout of arm fatigue, he will make a very good Major League pitcher. Patten brings his solid stuff and great command of his pitches (two fastballs, slider, and a change) to the Orioles as part of the Miguel Tejada trade with Houston this winter. If he can stay healthy and strong Patten looks like he could iron out to be a solid middle of the rotation type guy that is in high demand these days.

4.) Nolan Reimold, OF: Reimold looks to be a solid corner outfielder of the future for the O’s with a big bat to boot. While it may not be perfect, he posses a very nice swing and a keen eye at the plate. This coupled with a powerful bat will make him a nice addition to the Orioles before too long. Look for a potential 25-30 homers from this kid if he can keep some protection around him in the lineup.

5.) Billy Rowell, 3B: Rowell excites many people at the incredible power potential he posses at the hot corner. With the body frame to continue to pack on muscle along with a very nice swing, the Orioles are hoping he develops into the player they drafted in 2006. After a shaky start and inconsistent year many began to get down on Rowell and began to doubt what they thought he could be. He should be able to bounce back and put up some solid numbers and help anchor the middle of the Baltimore lineup in a few seasons.

(* This list was updated on 2/9/08 after the Erik Bedard trade that brought Chris Tillman and others to the Orioles.)

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2008 Top 5 Prospects: Washington Nationals

January 24, 2008

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today I finish up the NL East with the Washington Nationals and their vastly improved Minor League system. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Chris Marrero, OF: The Nationals have a very special hitter topping their list with Marrerro. Marrero can to all fields both for average and for power with his long, upward pushing swing. He also has a great eye at the plate which will make for a nice OBP and force pitchers to pitch to him. Look for him to be an impact player in a few years.

2.) Ross Detwiler, LHP: Though only drafted in 2007 (and pitching one MLB inning last year), look for Detwiler to be part of this club in 2008. He has four great pitches with a two-seam (with nice movement) and four-seam fastball, a nasty curve, and a plus change. He could make his fastballs plus pitches if he tinkers with his delivery a little and doesn’t throw so much across his body in his motion. He will be leading this staff before too long.

3.) Michael Burgess, OF: Another big bat is in Washington’s future with Burgess. The future corner outfielder has tremendous bat speed and hand-eye coordination. This coupled with his incredible raw power potential has the Nationals excited. Good defensively with a very strong arm that will fit in nicely in right field.

4.) Collin Balester, RHP: For Balester to be an effective Major League pitcher, he will need to secure a reliable third pitch. Right now he has a low-90’s fastball and a very good late-breaking curveball. If he can work out the kinks in his change and make it viable option on the mound, he should be a good middle of the rotation pitcher for Washington.

5.) Justin Maxwell, OF: Rounding out the top five is Maxwell who has made a name for himself with his speed and solid glove. Maxwell also continues to improve at the plate where he still doesn’t make great contact but has shown some nice raw power potential for Washington. While he won’t probably make any runs at any batting titles, his defense and speed should help secure him a spot in the Majors.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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2008 Top 5 Prospects: Philadelphia Phillies

January 23, 2008

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today I continue on with the NL East with the Philadelphia Phillies. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Carlos Carrasco, RHP Carrasco looks to be a very special pitcher with his low to mid-90’s fastball (with solid movement), devastating change-up which catches hitters off guard, and vastly improving curveball. Has great control of the plate and has a nice downhill delivery. If he can keep his delivery smooth and consistent, he will be an incredible pitcher in Philadelphia.

2.) Adrian Cardenas, 2B: Cardenas has a strong, compact stroke that gives him the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Moved over from shortstop as he was never a stellar fielder at that spot. Once he gets down the footwork of second base, he should do just fine there with his above-average arm strength. Could have trouble breaking in with Chase Utley holding down camp at second for the Phillies.

3.) Joe Savery, LHP: Savery is a very athletic pitcher with great mechanics on the mound. Has a low-90’s fastball that he moves in and out on righties and pounds hard on the inner half of the plate against lefties. Has an incredible changeup with laser pinpoint control that he disguises very well with an arm speed just like his fastball. If he can bounce back strong from labrum surgery, he will be a strong Major League starter.

4.) Josh Outman, LHP: Another strong athlete on the mound for the Phillies as Outman has a deceptive set of pitches due to his improved delivery with a low to mid-90’s fastball, mid-80’s slider, and a change. This delivery change has enabled him to disguise his off speed pitches better with his arm slot and speed. Looks like he could be a nice middle of the rotation starter down the road.

5.) Kyle Drabek, RHP: Son of former Major League pitcher, Doug Drabek, Kyle may even be better than his old man. Despite a strong mid-90’s fastball, his money pitch is a devastating spike curveball that has a sharp, late drop that kills opposing hitters. Despite some off the field issues, the Phillies hope he enhances his work ethic and continues to blossom into what he is capable of.

Catch my column “Twins Killings” every day only on the Most Valuable Network.

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