Prospect Spotlight: Brett Wallace

February 7, 2009

Name: Brett Wallace | Organization: St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Third Base | Drafted: 2008 1st Round (13th)
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 245

Brett Wallace will put up some great numbers as a pro (phxwebguy/Flickr).

Brett Wallace will put up some great numbers as a pro (phxwebguy/Flickr).

In December 2007 I did my first collegiate list ranking the top five hitters of the NCAA Junior class. I had a great time doing this as the months prior gave me a great opportunity to start digging deeper into college baseball.

My results were very much a mixed bag amongst readers as everyone agreed about the names on the list, however not everyone agreed on my rankings. My list from 12/8/07 had big names from this past summer’s draft including the top two on the list which caused the most discussion. Many people thought the young slugger from Vanderbilt, Pedro Alvarez, was the top hitter while I thought the more well rounded hitter, Brett Wallace, deserved the top spot. Needless to say there was a lot of good debate on the subject.

While that was over a year ago, I still stand by my original statement and believe Wallace was the best overall offensive player from the group. In fact, in college Wallace was the 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year as a sophmore when he won the Triple Crown. The best part of Wallace’s success and make-up is that his game will translate very well to pro ball.

Scouting Report: When discussing Brett Wallace’s game we have to first start with his bat. There really isn’t any other direction to go since it is what makes him worth talking about. As I mentioned earlier, despite people who have strongly disagreed with me, I believe Wallace is the best offensive player that came from the 2008 MLB draft. While he may not have as much power of some of his fellow draftees, his overall offensive game is the strongest.

First let’s start with his approach at the plate. Wallace has very good plate discipline considering his age as it generally takes some time to get everything in synch. But Wallace is the type of hitter who refuses to expand his strike zone and waits pitchers out, forcing them to throw him something he can make solid contact with. Wallace also does a great job in plate coverage thanks to his batting stance which crowds the plate. With his advanced approach, Wallace has the potential to translate his success to the pros and could end up being a perennial on-base machine with OBPs around .400.

With having such a fine tuned eye at the plate, Wallace’s ability to be productive in the pros is pretty much set. But when you include his swing and the power he generates, you end up piecing together why he has the potential to be so special.

We now move on to what happens when Wallace finds his pitch. As I mentioned earlier, Wallace tends to crowd the plate which gives him great reach for the entire plate. This allows him to reach the outside corner and his short stroke allows him to turn on inside pitches. He also keeps his hands held high in the air and keeps his weight back allowing him to help generate power and use as a timing mechanism. Wallace’s short stroke goes right through the ball which follows up with a very hard uppercut swing. His swing is built to be a line drive, gap-to-gap hitter but he is strong enough and has the bat speed to hit homer totals into the 30’s.

Wallace has a fantastic appraoch (mwlguide/Flickr).

Wallace has a fantastic appraoch (mwlguide/Flickr).

If I were going to portray his skills to what they would translate to in the majors, I would say he is a .280-.300 hitter, around .380-.400 OBP and a slugging percentage in the upper .500’s. Then add in his 25-30 homers and 100+ RBI and you have a pretty strong offensive weapon that Albert Pujols will love having hit behind him.

On the defensive side however, things aren’t quite as rosy. Wallace’s offense has never been questioned but his defense has always been something he’s criticized for. Wallace would be best suited to play first base but we all know that position is going to be held down for quite a while in St. Louis. So third base looks to be where this kid will be saddled while with the Cardinals. Many don’t think he is athletic enough to stay at this position but unless the Cards intend on trading him, there really aren’t many options with no DH rule in the National League.

By simply looking at him you would automatically assume he won’t be able to play the hot corner. Sometimes I wonder if this is as deep as many scouts dig into his defensive abilities and just label him as a liability there. But the truth is Wallace does have some quickness and the feet to play an average third base. He also has pretty good hands and a fairly strong arm. Not exactly a glowing recommendation, but it is what it is.

While all this translates to an average third baseman, where I worry is in his ability to react to hard hit balls. I mentioned earlier how he has some quickness, but perhaps not enough to compensate on balls that are smashed in his direction. This could partially be counteracted by where he positions himself depending on the hitter, count and situation, but you really can’t coach reaction time which could be a giant flaw in his game. Basically I don’t see him killing his team with his defense, but I don’t see him helping at all either.

Overall Brett Wallace is going to be a solid player for the Cardinals for many, many years. If they can just get adequate defense from him at third they will have found themselves an All-Star offensive weapon that will be able to protect Pujols in the lineup.

Maybe we’ll even be able to say “Pedro who?”

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
diamondcutter[at]columnist.com

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Retro Prospect Spotlight: Homer Bailey

January 31, 2009

Name: Homer Bailey | Organization: Cincinnati Reds
Position: Pitcher | Drafted: 2004 #7 overall pick
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 205

Bailey still hasnt lived up to all the expectations (Larry Coor/Flickr).

Bailey still hasn't lived up to all the expectations (Larry Coor/Flickr).

[Below is the original “Prospect Spotlight” that I wrote about Homer Bailey back on March 9, 2007. The point of these retro series is to bring back important players, drafts, events or games and look at them from today’s perspective. Not that two years is a long time ago, but I think it’s long enough ago to look back at a pitcher who was supposed to be the next big thing and has still yet to pan out. While Bailey has yet to fulfill his legacy, he still may be able to reach some form of stardom but it may be in another uniform as the former prospect may need a simple change of scenery. Here’s how Bailey looked almost two years ago to myself as well as many other people in the world of baseball.]

Bailey looks to find his place (Larry Coor/Flickr).

Bailey looks to find his place (Larry Coor/Flickr).

Before the start of every new season it seems as if everyone rolls out their own “Top Prospects” list. While everyone’s differs in some way, shape, or form, there has been one thing that has been consistent across the boards this season. No matter who it is doing the list, the top two pitching prospects are always some variation of Philip Hughes and Homer Bailey. I personally feel that Bailey is the better pitcher, however Hughes will probably end up seeing more success due to the fact that as long as he’s wearing Yankee pinstripes, he’ll always have a powerful lineup behind him. But one thing is for certain, no matter which one you believe is superior, you can’t argue the abilities of the Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect Homer Bailey.

History: The tall right hander was chosen with the seventh overall pick straight out of high school in the 2004 draft. He entered the draft with high accolades and many scouts singing his praises as the best high school pitching prospect in the country. In fact, despite Bailey pitching against some of the toughest competition in the country, he still dominated on mound and went on to be named Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year.

After the Reds drafted the Texas born fireballer, Bailey would go on to have a rough first year as a pro. Bailey would end up struggling a bit with his command and was forced by coaches to rely heavily on his changeup (his weakest pitch) in order to help develop it further. Despite his struggles it was still obvious that he had the skills of a superstar in the making. That became very apparent in 2006 when he had a breakout season and named Baseball America’s top prospect in the Florida State League as a member of the Sarasota Reds and in the Southern League as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts. 2006 was a huge year for Bailey as his performances helped etch his name as one of the top overall prospects in all of baseball.

Reds fans still hope Bailey finds his way (Larry Coor/Flickr).

Reds fans still hope Bailey finds his way (Larry Coor/Flickr).

Scouting Report: Bailey has all the pieces to be a number one starter for years to come. He’s tall with a big league frame and superb arm action. He has a 3/4 slot motion that allows him to stay tall along with two plus pitches (fastball at 89-97 mph with good movement and a curveball at 75-80 mph with a dominant 12-to-6 break) which when he has working makes him virtually untouchable. He has been trying to develop his changeup which is currently below average, but the Reds hope he will be able to improve it with another year of seasoning in the minors. The only concern scouts have had with this youngster is his lack of control at times. Most of these worries were put to rest last year as he improved immensely from his rocky 2005 season. Bailey has the makeup of a true work horse and once he is able to improve his changeup, will have quite a strong arsenal of pitches at his disposal.

As I said earlier, I believe Homer Bailey is the top pitching prospect in the game of baseball. He will be a number one starter for years to come and should be able to overcome the hitter’s heaven known as the Great American Ballpark. Despite having an unfortunate first name for a pitcher, Bailey has the build, potential, tools, and confidence to be one of the best pitchers in baseball in the next few years.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com

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Prospect Spotlight: Josh Vitters

October 17, 2008

Name: Josh Vitters | Organization: Chicago Cubs
Position: Third Base | Drafted: 2007 #3 overall pick
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195

Josh Vitters looks to be a force in the middle of the Cubs lineup. (flickr / mwlguide)

Josh Vitters looks to be a force in the middle of the Cubs lineup. (flickr / mwlguide)

As many know, the Chicago Cubs franchise has been cursed for decades. The curse continued again this year with a very quick exit from the playoffs. While 2008 was yet another painful season for Cubs fans all over the country, their failures from 2006 ended up rewarding them with the best hitter available in the draft.

History: High school third baseman Josh Vitters had been on everyone’s radar for quite some time due in large part to his well known high school, Cypress High School, and his brother Christian Vitters, who was drafted in 2006 by the Oakland A’s. But Josh’s play in 2007 is what really solidified him as a wanted man as he dominated in some major high school events like the Area Code Games, World Wood Bat Championships, Aflac Classic (doubling three times), and picking up MVP honors at the Cape Cod Classic. All of these just capped off some very strong back-to-back seasons as a junior and senior with impressive stat lines of .352 (31-for-88), 7 doubles, 9 homers, and 32 RBI in 2006 and, despite a horrible battle with pneumonia in 2007, still posted .371 (26-for-70), 6 doubles, 8 homers, and 25 RBI. After accomplishments like this, it’s no wonder he was so highly touted entering this year’s draft.

After drafting Vitters with their number one pick in 2007 (third overall), many Cubs fans began to become worried as their new prized pick held out from signing up until 20 minutes before the deadline. Since Cubs fans have long become used to consistent abuse, it wouldn’t have surprised many people if he hadn’t signed. But now that Vitters has his large deal inked, Cubs fans can begin waiting with baited breath for this young slugger to join them in the historic Wrigley Field. And with his skills it shouldn’t be a long wait at all.

Vitters may need to find a new home with Aramis Ramirez holding down third. (flickr / mwlguide)

Vitters may need to find a new home with Aramis Ramirez holding down third. (flickr / mwlguide)

Scouting Report: There’s no secret what makes Josh Vitters so highly rated. He has dazzled scouts with the natural power that he generates with his stellar bat-speed and ability to make excellent contact with the bat. The way he so consistently gets great contact with the meaty part of the bat, it’s almost as if he were swinging a club with an enormous barrel on it with great double and home run power to all fields. Vitters is also able to handle pretty much any type of pitches he’s faced like a pro but does have the tendency to chase bad pitches from time to time. What makes him even more special is his uncanny hand-eye coordination, fast wrists, and beautiful, fluid swing. These are some of the most difficult things to teach a young hitter and the fact that he has already harnessed these items is nothing short of miraculous.

Many scouts are so blinded by his bat skills that his defensive problems are often overlooked. While Vitters does play at an “offensive” position at third base, he does have problems with his glove work at times. Vitters has developed some pretty good footwork over at the hot corner as well as fairly good hands, but he struggles judging hops and can often boot the ball even on some rather routine plays. Due to his offensive skills and the fact that he’s far from a defensive gem, he could be moved around the diamond and have it justified. Unfortunately for the Cubs they are in the National League without the DH rule and have both third and first filled with Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee. Vitters does have an excellent arm so right field could be an option as well. But with a bat like Vitters’ the Cubs will do what they have to do to get him in their lineup.

Vitters looks to be in the Pat Burrell mold. (flickr / mwlguide)

Vitters looks to be in the Pat Burrell mold. (flickr / mwlguide)

I project Josh Vitters to be a 30-40 homer guy with around 100-115 RBI and average anywhere between .265-.285. His batting average will depend a lot on how he adjusts to major league pitchers as he will need to learn a little more patience at the plate and wait for his pitch. If he doesn’t learn this, pitchers will catch on very quickly and give him junk more often than not knowing that he will most likely waive at it. This issue could also come into play when Vitters finds himself in a slump as power hitters like him tend to try to over-compensate by swinging at more bad pitches trying to make something happen. However in a lineup with a lot of powerful hitters such as the Cubs, Vitters could benefit from being sandwiched between a couple of other big bats in order to get more hittable pitches.

If you need a Major League player comparison to help put all of this together, you can look at someone similar to Pat Burrell as they both were similar players at a young age in regards to strengths and weaknesses. While some get on Burrell about his average woes, you still know what you will get out of Burrell year in and year out. This kind of consistency should be what we see from Vitters once he reaches the big time in Chicago. I do however see Vitters as having a better batting average, but this is only if he can learn the strike zone a bit better.

The Chicago Cubs organization and its fans should be very excited with the talented youngster from California that they drafted last season. With a solid draft and the success they had winning the division, the future looks bright for the Chicago Cubs organization.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | thefranch15e

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Prospect Spotlight: Cameron Maybin

October 8, 2007

(Originally posted February 27, 2007 here on “The Diamond Cutter” and March 7, 2007 on my old Minor Details colum.)

Name: Cameron Maybin
Organization: Detroit Tigers
Position: Center Field
Drafted: 2005 #10 overall
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200 lbs

When the New York Mets selected right handed pitcher Mike Pelfrey with their ninth pick in the 2005 draft, the Detroit Tigers (picking tenth) could only be some what disappointed as they saw their top pitching target whisked off the board only one spot before them. After all, there was a fresh out of high school center fielder who “Baseball America” dubbed as the “most promising available outfielder” and “third-best hitting prospect overall” that had miraculously dropped to them. 18-year old Cameron Maybin had dropped much lower than he should have due to the fact that speculation was running rampant that the would be difficult to sign and was looking for a massive bonus. This didn’t stop the Tigers.

Despite some rough contract negotiations between the two sides, Maybin and the Tigers finally came to terms. Maybin’s $2.65 million bonus came only after a four month hold out and missing the entire minor league season. But the question was now posed of whether or not this kid, who still as of today isn’t legally old enough to drink alcohol, was worth all the hassle. Was Maybin truly the “Steal of the Draft?”

History: Cameron Maybin played his high school ball at TC Roberson High School in North Carolina and proceeded to etch his name in not only the school’s history books, but the state of North Carolina’s as well. While holding numerous records at his high school, Maybin also holds the state record for hitting after ending his high school career with a batting average over .600. Maybin also collected a couple of awards including “2004 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year” and “2005 1st team High School All-American Outfield.” Needless to say this garnered the youngster a lot of attention from pro scouts and made his decision to enter into the draft and fore go college a whole lot easier.

Once all of the contract drama was put aside, the Tigers now needed to see how the young center fielder handled himself as a pro. In 2006 (after missing 2005 due to the contract hold out), Maybin finally took the field for the first time as a professional baseball player with the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps. He helped lead the Whitecaps to the Midwest League championship and in doing so was given “2006 Class A Playoff Performer Award” by MiLB.com. In 2006 Maybin put up some very solid numbers for his first professional season hitting .304/.387/.457 with 59 runs, 9 homers, 69 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.

Scouting Report: Maybin has a lighting quick bat which can generate a lot of power and because of this I project him to easily be a 30-plus home run hitter down the road for the Tigers. But because of his size, along with his uncanny power is his enlarged strike zone. Maybin’s swing can at times be a little long with those lanky arms and can have some troubles with breaking balls. While this has improved a lot, it can still pose a problem at times and contributes to his high strike out rates. With his speed and stellar base running instincts, it’s not out of the question to think of him as a potential 30-plus stolen base threat as well. When you combine his offensive threats along with his great range and powerful arm in center field, you can easily see why I think he will be one of the brightest stars by the start of the next decade and why this kid is really something special.

2007 should be an exciting season for the Tigers organization and its fans as they get to see another season of the exciting Maybin. After more people have gotten to see the future of the Tigers in action, some comparisons have been made. Some are saying Maybin is similar to Jermaine Dye with more speed or even Torii Hunter with a better bat or even of the Eric Davis mold. In fact his high school coach proclaimed his skills and smarts for the game to be that of Ken Griffey Jr. But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter who you compare this kid to because what is obvious is that he is filled with natural talent.

While some players claim to be the “Steal of the Draft,” in Maybin’s case this is very much the case.

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

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Prospect Spotlight: Josh Vitters

October 5, 2007

Name: Josh Vitters
Organization: Chicago Cubs
Position: Third Base
Drafted: 2007 #3 overall pick
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6-3
Weight: 195

As many know, the Chicago Cubs franchise has been cursed for decades. The curse continued last year with a very disappointing 2006 season. Due to this, the Chicago Cubs were able to secure themselves the third overall pick in the 2007 draft. While 2006 was very painful for Cubs fans all over the country, their failures ended up being rewarded with the best hitter available in the draft.

History: High school third baseman Josh Vitters had been on everyone’s radar for quite some time due in large part to his well known high school, Cypress High School, and his brother Christian Vitters, who was drafted in 2006 by the Oakland A’s. But Josh’s play in 2007 is what really solidified him as a wanted man as he dominated in some major high school events like the Area Code Games, World Wood Bat Championships, Aflac Classic (doubling three times), and picking up MVP honors at the Cape Cod Classic. All of these just capped off some very strong back-to-back seasons as a junior and senior with impressive stat lines of .352 (31-for-88), 7 doubles, 9 homers, and 32 RBI in 2006 and, despite a horrible battle with pneumonia in 2007, still posted .371 (26-for-70), 6 doubles, 8 homers, and 25 RBI. After accomplishments like this, it’s no wonder he was so highly touted entering this year’s draft.

After drafting Vitters with their number one pick in 2007 (third overall), many Cubs fans began to become worried as their new prized pick held out from signing up until 20 minutes before the deadline. Since Cubs fans have long become used to consistent abuse, it wouldn’t have surprised many people if he hadn’t signed. But now that Vitters has his large deal inked, Cubs fans can begin waiting with baited breath for this young slugger to join them in the historic Wrigley Field. And with his skills it shouldn’t be a long wait at all.

Scouting Report: There’s no secret what makes Josh Vitters so highly rated. He has dazzled scouts with the natural power that he generates with his stellar bat-speed and ability to make excellent contact with the bat. The way he so consistently gets great contact with the meaty part of the bat, it’s almost as if he were swinging a club with an enormous barrel on it with great double and home run power to all fields. Vitters is also able to handle pretty much any type of pitches he’s faced like a pro but does have the tendency to chase bad pitches from time to time. What makes him even more special is his uncanny hand-eye coordination, fast wrists, and beautiful, fluid swing. These are some of the most difficult things to teach a young hitter and the fact that he has already harnessed these items is nothing short of miraculous.

Many scouts are so blinded by his bat skills that his defensive problems are often overlooked. While Vitters does play at an “offensive” position at third base, he does have problems with his glove work at times. Vitters has developed some pretty good footwork over at the hot corner as well as fairly good hands, but he struggles judging hops and can often boot the ball even on some rather routine plays. Due to his offensive skills and the fact that he’s far from a defensive gem, he could be moved around the diamond and have it justified. Unfortunately for the Cubs they are in the National League without the DH rule and have both third and first filled with Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee. Vitters does have an excellent arm so right field could be an option as well. But with a bat like Vitters’ the Cubs will do what they have to do to get him in their lineup.

I project Josh Vitters to be a 30-40 homer guy with around 100-115 RBI and average anywhere between .265-.285. His batting average will depend a lot on how he adjusts to major league pitchers as he will need to learn a little more patience at the plate and wait for his pitch. If he doesn’t learn this, pitchers will catch on very quickly and give him junk more often than not knowing that he will most likely waive at it. This issue could also come into play when Vitters finds himself in a slump as power hitters like him tend to try to over-compensate by swinging at more bad pitches trying to make something happen. However in a lineup with a lot of powerful hitters such as the Cubs, Vitters could benefit from being sandwiched between a couple of other big bats in order to get more hittable pitches.

If you need a Major League player comparison to help put all of this together, you can look at someone similar to Pat Burrell as they both were similar players at a young age in regards to strengths and weaknesses. While some get on Burrell about his average woes, you still know what you will get out of Burrell year in and year out. This kind of consistency should be what we see from Vitters once he reaches the big time in Chicago. I do however see Vitters as having a better batting average, but this is only if he can learn the strike zone a bit better.

The Chicago Cubs organization and its fans should be very excited with the talented youngster from California that they drafted this season. With a solid draft and the success they had winning the division, 2007 could be a huge turning point for the historically tortured Cubs franchise.

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

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Prospect Spotlight: David Price

October 4, 2007
David Price is one of the best young pitchers to enter the league in years (keithallisonphoto.com).

David Price is one of the best young pitchers to enter the league in years (keithallisonphoto.com).

Name: David Price | Organization: Tampa Bay Rays
Position: Pitcher | Drafted: 2007 1st Round (1st Pick)
Bats: Left | Throws: Left | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 215

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays once again had the number one overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, it was no surprise when they chose a lanky-lefty from Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-6 college star named David Price was a shoe in to be the first overall pick in the draft. This kid is not only good, he’s the best pitcher to come out of college in many, many years. So what makes him so special?

History: David Price has been dominating hitters for as long as anyone can remember. His stellar career started off in the small town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee pitching for Blackman High School where he would compile a 0.43 ERA and 151 strikeouts. Price would also win many, many awards for his efforts including the Rutherford County MVP Pitcher in 2003 and 2004, the Co-District 7AAA Pitcher of the Year in his senior season, the Rutherford County Male Athlete of the Year in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and also received the honor of playing in the 2004 High School All-American Game his senior season. All of this success at such a young age was only the beginning for Mr. Price.

Just as Price had set records and won awards for his brilliance on the mound in high school, he would continue this as he attended Vanderbilt University. As a freshman, Price received the honor of being named a Freshman All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball after posting a 2-4 record, a 2.86 ERA, and racking up 92 strikeouts in only 19 games and 69.1 innings. The following season Price didn’t have as dazzling of a stat line, but he did set a school single season record with 155 strikeouts (he also only gave up 43 walks for a 3.6 K/BB ratio) including one game with 17 against Arkansas.

As impressive as his first two college seasons were, he definitely saved the best for last. In his junior season (which would be his last collegiate season) Price would go 11-1 with a 2.63 ERA and would shatter his old school record as he lead the nation with 194 strikeouts (his K/BB ratio this time was an unbelievable 6.26). Price would win many awards that season but none greater than his winning of college baseball’s top honor, the Golden Spikes Award. As sad as Vanderbilt’s team was to see him go, it was time for him to move on.

Before we get into the 2007 draft, it is important to note Price’s great work while playing for our country. In 2005 Price was a member of the United States National team where he went 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 39 strikeouts. Then in the summer of 2006, Price helped the United States win the gold medal in the World University Championships in Cuba. Price would post impressive numbers again going 5-1 with a minuet 0.20 ERA. The world was now on notice of just how good this kid really was.

With a laundry list of awards, achievements, and records attached to his name, David Price had pretty much made a fool-proof case for himself to be drafted first overall in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. So with Tampa Bay possessing the first overall pick, it was a no-brainer for them to choose the dominating lefty. Price would go on to sign his first ever contract on August 15, 2007 for six-years and $8.5 million. This of course came with a $5.6 million signing bonus which stands as the second highest bonus in MLB history behind Justin Upton’s $6.1 million following the 2005 draft. This was the third highest guaranteed contract ever for a draft pick and was well worth the money for such a special talent.

To see what this much money gets you (other than the obvious that we just covered) is a player with a glimmering scouting report. The Diamond Cutter scouting report that I have built shows not only how talented this kid is but, as scary as this sounds, show’s he still has a little room for improvement.

Scouting Report: Price’s money pitch has always been his dominating plus-fastball which sits at about 90-94 mph (it can sometimes reach upwards of 95). As a lefty, what makes him even more difficult to hit is that his fastball has excellent tailing action that moves away from right-handed hitters. This really gives no one, right or left-handers, any advantage. The two other pitches he mixes in are a 77-79 mph slurve and a plus-slider that ranges around 84-86 mph. He uses his slider very well in two-strike counts making it very difficult for hitters expecting a fastball. Price is also working on a changeup pitch to add to his arsenal (one of the areas for improvement I mentioned). Right now it is average at best but if he can work on not tipping it off by dropping his arm slot when throwing it, he could develop it as a third plus-pitch making him even more difficult to hit. This is one area the Devil Rays organization will be working very closely with him on.

Another area that can sometimes hamper Price is his control. While it doesn’t happen much, occasionally he can lose control of the strike zone and start allowing walks to pile up. This happens when his mechanics begin to get shaky and he loses his fluid delivery. He very rarely walks hitters which can be seen with his very low BB/9 ratios so as long as he can keep his rhythm going with this delivery he will be just fine.

Price has the make-up, the athleticism, the overpowering stuff, and mentality to be a frontline starter in the Majors for many, many years. Once he harnesses his developing changeup as a third plus-pitch, he will be virtually unstoppable and one of the elite pitchers in the game.

With a glowing resume like this its no wonder that once Tampa Bay learned they had the first overall pick that they knew they could put their feet up and relax. Because when a star like this falls into your lap it tends to make your job very, very easy.


Prospect Spotlight: Cameron Maybin

February 27, 2007

Cameron Maybin at the plate vs. Kane County in game 3 of the championship series (mwlguide/flickr)

(mwlguide / flickr)

Cameron Maybin | CF
Organization: Detroit Tigers | Drafted: 2005 #10 overall
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 200 lbs

When the New York Mets selected right handed pitcher Mike Pelfrey with their ninth pick in the 2005 draft, the Detroit Tigers (picking tenth) could only be some what disappointed as they saw their top pitching target whisked off the board only one spot before them. After all, there was a fresh out of high school center fielder who “Baseball America” dubbed as the “most promising available outfielder” and “third-best hitting prospect overall” that had miraculously dropped to them. 18-year old Cameron Maybin had dropped much lower than he should have due to the fact that speculation was running rampant that the would be difficult to sign and was looking for a massive bonus. This didn’t stop the Tigers.

Despite some rough contract negotiations between the two sides, Maybin and the Tigers finally came to terms. Maybin’s $2.65 million bonus came only after a four month hold out and missing the entire minor league season. But the question was now posed of whether or not this kid, who still as of today isn’t legally old enough to drink alcohol, was worth all the hassle. Was Maybin truly the “Steal of the Draft?”

History: Cameron Maybin played his high school ball at TC Roberson High School in North Carolina and proceeded to etch his name in not only the school’s history books, but the state of North Carolina’s as well. While holding numerous records at his high school, Maybin also holds the state record for hitting after ending his high school career with a batting average over .600. Maybin also collected a couple of awards including “2004 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year” and “2005 1st team High School All-American Outfield.” Needless to say this garnered the youngster a lot of attention from pro scouts and made his decision to enter into the draft and fore go college a whole lot easier.

Once all of the contract drama was put aside, the Tigers now needed to see how the young center fielder handled himself as a pro. In 2006 (after missing 2005 due to the contract hold out), Maybin finally took the field for the first time as a professional baseball player with the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps. He helped lead the Whitecaps to the Midwest League championship and in doing so was given “2006 Class A Playoff Performer Award” by MiLB.com. In 2006 Maybin put up some very solid numbers for his first professional season hitting .304/.387/.457 with 59 runs, 9 homers, 69 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.

Scouting Report: Maybin has a lighting quick bat which can generate a lot of power and because of this I project him to easily be a 30-plus home run hitter down the road for the Tigers. But because of his size, along with his uncanny power is his enlarged strike zone. Maybin’s swing can at times be a little long with those lanky arms and can have some troubles with breaking balls. While this has improved a lot, it can still pose a problem at times and contributes to his high strike out rates. With his speed and stellar base running instincts, it’s not out of the question to think of him as a potential 30-plus stolen base threat as well. When you combine his offensive threats along with his great range and powerful arm in center field, you can easily see why I think he will be one of the brightest stars by the start of the next decade and why this kid is really something special.

2007 should be an exciting season for the Tigers organization and its fans as they get to see another season of the exciting Maybin. After more people have gotten to see the future of the Tigers in action, some comparisons have been made. Some are saying Maybin is similar to Jermaine Dye with more speed or even Torii Hunter with a better bat or even of the Eric Davis mold. In fact his high school coach proclaimed his skills and smarts for the game to be that of Ken Griffey Jr. But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter who you compare this kid to because what is obvious is that he is filled with natural talent.

While some players claim to be the “Steal of the Draft,” in Maybin’s case this is very much the case.