Top Prospect #12: Brett Wallace

March 14, 2009

12
NAME: Brett Wallace
POSITION: Third Base
AGE: 22 | BATS: L | THROWS: R
ORGANIZATION: St. Louis Cardinals

2008 STATISTICS
LVL AVG R HR RBI OBP SLG
MiLB .337 41 8 36 .427 .530

Scouting Report: Wallace’s greatest asset is his approach at the plate. He 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. I project him 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. With all that said, he is an average defender at third (I view him higher than most) who would be better suited to play first, but with that position locked up, he will do just fine at the hot corner (read my extended scouting report on Wallace with his “Prospect Spotlight“).

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

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Top Prospect #13: Elvis Andrus

March 3, 2009

13
NAME: Elvis Andrus
POSITION: Shortstop
AGE: 20 | BATS: R | THROWS: R
ORGANIZATION: Texas Rangers

2008 STATISTICS
LVL AVG R RBI SB OBP SLG
MiLB .295 82 65 54 .350 .367

Scouting Report: Some scouts have been down on Andrus saying he hasn’t developed offensively like they have hoped. I don’t think they are looking close enough at his numbers from last year as he got better progressively throughout the 2008 season and finished with a strong average. He possesses all plus tools except power which isn’t a big deal considering he looks to be the lead off hitter of the future for the Rangers. He is a very smooth ballplayer and you can see that in the way he conducts his business on the field from his swing all the way to the way he handles himself in the field. He’s an incredible runner and has really mastered the art of stealing bases. But what really has garnered him the most attention is his defense. He has a ton of range, soft hands and an accurate cannon for an arm. He looks to make the Rangers’ club this season and has a solid mentor in Omar Vizquel to help him adapt.

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

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Top Prospect #14: Colby Rasmus

February 16, 2009

14
NAME: Colby Rasmus
POSITION: Center Field
AGE: 22 | BATS: L | THROWS: L
ORGANIZATION: St. Louis Cardinals

2008 STATISTICS
LVL AVG R HR RBI OBP SLG
MiLB .252 58 12 38 .351 .401

Scouting Report: Colby Rasmus projects all plus tools and is the superior, impact-type prospect the St. Louis Cardinals organization has been waiting for ever since Albert Pujols was plucked from it. Some people are worried that Rasmus won’t be the same man since his injury last season, but there’s no proof of that. Rasmus is a perfect example of a five-tool player as he can run, throw, field, hit, and hit for power. He has very quick hands which gives him excellent plate coverage. Projects to have plus power and should be able to put up a fantastic stat line. Excellent bat speed, good pitch recognition, and plus runner. Not sure how much St. Louis will allow him to run once he reaches Majors but could have 20+ stolen bases per year. He’s doing an excellent job on his move to center field which is where the Cardinals desperately need someone ever since Jim Edmonds’ departure.

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

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Top Prospect #15: Mike Stanton

February 2, 2009

15
NAME: Mike Stanton
POSITION: Right Field
AGE: 19 | BATS: R | THROWS: R
ORGANIZATION: Florida Marlins

2008 STATISTICS
LVL AVG R HR RBI OBP SLG
MiLB .293 89 39 97 .381 .611

Scouting Report: Stanton’s plus plus raw power is, for a lack of a better word, incredible. Perhaps the most powerful bat in all of the minors, what sets him apart from other power hitting prospects is that their power is usually projected, his is already here. He’s a big kid who fits into the prototypical right fielder/clean-up hitter mold. He has shown a lot of growth in the field thanks to his strong work ethic and dedication to getting better. He has improved not only in the field, but also at the plate as he has worked to fill some big holes in his swing. It can get long at times which leads to a lot of strikeouts. In fact a perfect comparison that I use with Stanton is that of Adam Dunn. Both fit into the same risk and reward categories with each at bat resulting in a homer, a walk or a strikeout. Since I’m a fan of Dunn, I am definitely a fan of Stanton and can’t wait to see him hitting behind Hanley Ramirez for years to come.

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

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Top Prospect #16: Andrew McCutchen

February 1, 2009

16
NAME: Andrew McCutchen
POSITION: Center Field
AGE: 22 | BATS: R | THROWS: R
ORGANIZATION: Pittsburgh Pirates

2008 STATISTICS
LVL AVG R HR RBI OBP SLG
MiLB .283 75 9 50 .372 .398

Scouting Report: McCutchen is an exciting five tool player who has been unfortunately rushed through the Pirates system. He hasn’t been able to fully develop at each level and instead of staying put and working on his skills, he has been pushed through. McCutchen has a great glove in center and despite his great defensive prowess, his impact bat may be his best skill. McCutchen has quick hands, strong wrists and a compact swing which produces a surprising amount of power for someone of his stature. He is a line drive hitter thanks to his quick bat speed and is able to hit consistently to all fields. His power hasn’t fully developed as expected, but that still has time to grow. Still learning to use his speed effectively on the bases but once he does, look out. Hopefully they give him a chance to slow things down and get his feet under him before it’s too late.

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

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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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Top Prospect #17: Trevor Cahill

January 26, 2009

17
NAME: Trevor Cahill
POSITION: Pitcher
AGE: 20 | BATS: R | THROWS: R
ORGANIZATION: Oakland Athletics

2008 STATISTICS
LVL G IP W-L ERA SO GO/AO
MiLB 21 124.1 11-5 2.61 136 2.43

Scouting Report: Cahill is a very talented athlete (former shortstop) who has a lot going for him on the mound. He has plus makeup, plus stuff and plus mound presence which all goes into making him as dominating as he is. A large part of that domination comes from his plus-fastball which has mind-blowing sink to it. It is incredibly heavy and causes most hitters to swing right over it. He counters his fastball with a slider, curve and change. While Cahill doesn’t have the best control or feel for any of these pitches, he has vastly improved on them, particularly his change. Cahill is a workhorse and I project him to be better than his counterpart, Brett Anderson, and should be a top of the rotation pitcher very soon for the Athletics.

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

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