Daily Archives: December 27, 2006

Those who missed the cut

I figured if anyone actually read this, they’d ask why I omitted player “x” or “y”, etc etc. I’m sure the two that will come up first are Michael Bourn and Carlos Ruiz. So, I’ll tackle them one at a time.

Michael Bourn, OF. To me, Bourn didn’t deserve to be on this list, and here’s why. He has very limited upside. I’m sure people will question this, but here’s my line of thinking. He is now 24, and 2006 was his age 23 season. He posted a .715 OPS in 318 AB at Reading, and upon being promoted to Scranton, posted a .796 OPS in 152 AB before he was brought to Philadelphia to ride the pine. Bourn played 3 years of college ball at Houston, and over that span, his single best season was an .827 OPS in 244 AB, which was his sophomore year. He followed that with an .818 OPS in 182 AB his junior year, and was then drafted by the Phillies in the 4th round. Bourn had only 23 extra base hits in 644 career college AB’s. In college, he posted on base percentages of .431, .446, and .411, and obviously drew a ton of walks, which set up his speed (90 SB/119 attempts) well. Upon his entrance to pro ball, his plate discipline remained at both Batavia and Lakewood, posting an OB% of .404 and .433 respectively. However, the last two seasons Bourn has seen his OB% dive to .348 at Reading in 2005, and then .350 and .368 at Reading and Scranton in 2006. If you take that by itself, a .368 OB% is solid, but when you factor in that he has almost zero power (60 extra base hits in 1,014 AB’s in 2005 and 2006), he’s reduced to being a one tool (speed) player. You don’t see many teams carry a guy that can’t hit or get on base, but can steal bases. Bourn is an impressive 163/191 in stolen bases in the minors, but his future (it would seem) is as a 5th outfielder, where he will be a defensive replacement/pinch runner for guys like Pat Burrell, and to me, that doesn’t warrant his placement in this prospect list. He could surprise me, or he could turn into a guy that bounces from AAA to the bigs his entire career.

Carlos Ruiz, C. Simply put, he’s too old for these lists. He’ll be 27 on opening day, and in only the rarest cases do I consider guys over the age of 25 “prospects”. That said, I think Ruiz can be a decent regular if given the chance. His defense is what people raved about, but I don’t know that we know enough about his game calling ability based on his limited exposure last season. We’ll see.

My Phillies Top 10 List

It’s that time of the year where every site is churning out their top 10 prospect lists, so I figured I’d make my first “real” post my top 10, and also give predictions for their respective 2007’s. So, without further delay, here’s my list.

  1. Carlos Carrasco, RHP. Carrasco had his breakout season in 2006, dominating the Low A Sally League at age 19. His peripheral stats were largely outstanding; 5.82 H/9, 3.67 BB/9, 8.98 K/9 and 0.34 HR/9. The only yellow flag (not serious enough for red) is his walk rate. Various scouting reports have said that his secondary pitches come and go, which is not that uncommon for a 19 year old. Carrasco has fluid, easy mechanics which bode well for his future health. Possibly the most impressive thing he has going for him is feel for his changeup. Changeup control is normally one of the last things a pitcher masters, but Carlos seems to have that down, he just needs to be consistent with his curve. After a tough 2005, which saw him bounce between Lakewood and Batavia, he opened just about everyone’s eyes. My guess is the Phillies will be cautious with him, since he only has one season of pro ball under his belt. He’ll more than likely start at Clearwater, and could possibly move to Reading by mid summer if he gets off to a fast start. Prediction: 163 IP, 7.50 H/9, 3.35 BB/9, 9.50 K/9, 0.65 HR
  2. Adrian Cardenas, SS/2B. I’ll state this now to get it out of the way…..I might just be Adrian Cardenas fan #1, so keep that in mind as you read my writeup. The Phillies have a long history of drafting “toolsy” guys who can’t hit, with the hope of teaching them how to actually play baseball later. This method seems to fail much more than succeed, yet the Phillies (and other teams), continue to go this route in the draft. Think of it like playing a slot machine. You know the odds are bad, but it’s so much fun! Well, Cardenas bucks this trend, and I couldn’t be happier. Cardenas won the Baseball America High School POY this year, and he didn’t stop upon his arrival in pro ball. He put up a solid .318/.384/.442 line in the GCL, facing mostly high school pitchers. While Cardenas doesn’t fit the “toolsy” background of your typical Phillies draft pick, he has solid baseball skills, with an advanced approach to hitting and good overall baseball instincts. He played shortstop in high school, and might stay there for a few seasons, but most think he’ll end up at 2B. If he continues to hit as he climbs the organizational ladder, he’ll be above average offensively, which should offset his defensive limitations. Prediction: (A-), .312/.415/.475, 13 HR, 25 2B, 10 SB
  3. James Happ, LHP. Many prospect ranking folks have different philosophies when it comes to weighing numbers and tools. Some go 50/50, some 70/30 or some combo in between. Happ is an interesting case, and maybe I’m being too kind, but maybe not. Happ is a tall, lanky pitcher (6’5, 205 lbs) but doesn’t throw very hard, with his fastball topping out around 91, and consistently hitting 88-90. What he lacks in power, he makes up for in command, which is evident in his 2.80 BB/9 rate between A+ and AA in 2006. Though he lacks “dominant stuff”, Happ was able to generate quite a few swings and misses, 9.22 K/9, over both levels, and even more importantly, he kept the ball in the park, allowing only 11 HR in 154.2 IP, including only 2 in 74.2 IP at double A Reading. While Happ doesn’t offer much in the way of projectability, as he’s already 23 and doesn’t look to add more velocity, he does have a good feel for pitching. Normally AA is the biggest test for a pitcher, and Happ passed his first test, posting better numbers across the board at Reading than in Clearwater. You hate comparing a non-flaming throwing lefty to Tom Glavine, but if Happ can mantain his command as he climbs the ladder, he can become a reliable middle of the rotation starter. Prediction: (AAA), 105 IP, 2.90 ERA, 3.15 BB/9, 9.25 K/9, 0.45 HR/9 (MLB), 50 IP, 4.15 ERA, 3.65 BB/9, 7.50 K/9, 1.15 HR/9
  4. Kyle Drabek, RHP. Consider Mr Drabek the anti-JA Happ. Much was made of Drabek’s off the field issues leading up to the draft, but few doubted his ability on the field. Drabek dominated on the mound in high school, pitching in the baseball hotbed of Texas, and led his team, The Woodlands, to numerous championships, both with his arm and bat. Drabek’s number one asset might just be his athletic ability, as he was one of the top rated shortstops in the 2006 draft, as well as the second rated high school arm behind Clayton Kershaw. He dropped to the Phillies because of the aforementioned off the field concerns, but the Phillies felt he was worth the risk. His pro debut was less than ideal, but has been attributed to things ranging from immaturity to a heavy high school workload. Drabek went to the Florida Instructional League with fellow draftee Dan Brauer, and reports were that he responded well to the regiments involved with playing professional baseball. Prediction: (SS) 45.0 IP, 3.50 ERA, 4.15 BB/9, 10.50 K/9, 1.00 HR/9, (A-) 35.0 IP, 3.75 ERA, 4.00 BB/9, 7.75 K/9, 1.25 HR/9
  5. D’Arby Myers, OF. Myers fits the mold of the toolsy guys the Phillies love, and as you can probably figure out from my previous comments, I was skeptical upon his selection, as I am with all outfielders like him. In the 4th round, I felt like it was too early to start “buying lottery tickets”, but I think the Phillies might have picked a winner here. Myers played the entire GCL season at the age of 17, and had arguably the most impressive debut of any Phillies draftee, putting up a line of .313/.353/.430. That may not seem significant, but for a guy with very raw baseball skills, at a very young age, it’s quite an accomplishment. Myers oozes potential and projection, with plus speed, potential for plus power, and a good arm. He still needs to “learn” the more advanced baseball skills like route running and pitch selection at the plate, but his debut showed that he might be further along in this process than most toolsy guys. Myers did a good job of keeping the ball out of the air and using his speed to his advantage. He was 11/15 in SB’s, which again, is quite solid for a guy just learning how to play the game. The Phillies could challenge him by assigning him to Lakewood, meaning he’d be one of the youngest players in the league, but he might start at short season Williamsport. I’ll do two predictions for him, one assuming he starts at Williamsport, one assuming he starts at Lakewood. Prediction 1: (SS), .325/.375/.450, (A-) .280/.340/.400 Prediction 2: (A-) .270/.335/.425, 30 SB
  6. Josh Outman, LHP. Outman, in addition to having one of the best baseball names possible, looks like one of the Phillies best picks in the 2005 draft. His 2005 debut was good, if not above average, and his 2006 saw an improvement in just about every peripheral category. His walk rate still needs some work (4.35 BB/9), but his K rate (9.33/9) and HR rate (0.29/9) were both well above average. Outman is slightly old for low A, but the Phillies apparently wanted to keep the core of the team together as they made a playoff push, which means Outman is a candidate for a double jump to Reading in 2007. He possesses above average velocity for a lefty, hitting 94 and working around 91-92 consistently. His changeup lags behind his fastball and slider, but is improving. Outman’s overall line, 155.2 IP, 6.89 H/9, 4.35 BB/9, 9.33 K/9, 0.29 HR/9 is impressive, but his line from July-September is even more impressive, at 72.2 IP, 5.73 H/9, 3.61 BB/9, 9.97 K/9, 0.25 HR/9. If he continues to improve his control, he will quickly move up the prospect lists. The Phillies should challenge him with a double jump since he is a college pitcher and is 22. Prediction: (AA), 163 IP, 3.00 ERA, 7.45 H/9, 3.75 BB/9, 8.85 K/9, 0.65 HR/9
  7. Edgar Garcia, RHP. Garcia was highly touted when he signed in 2004 as a 16 year old out of the Dominican Republic. At 6’2, 190lbs, he has room for projection, and already throws in the low 90’s. While he was at the forefront of prospect chatter in 2004 and 2005, he seemed to fade out of the limelight a bit in 2006, yet he continued to produce on the field, putting up a line of 66.1 IP, 8.41 H/9, 1.36 BB/9, 6.24 K/9, 0.68 HR/9 at Batavia. Many people point to his low K rate as a red flag, but in this writer’s opinion, that criticism is a tad overrated. Garcia has outstanding control and feel for his changeup, which as previously stated, is rare for young, raw pitchers. Garcia allowed only 18 extra base hits (13 2B and 5 HR) in 66.1 IP, good for a .369 slugging against. He also induced 87 groundballs, as opposed to 69 flyballs, and also induced 20 pop ups. This data would lead you to believe guys aren’t getting good swings against Garcia. He was equally tough on lefties and righties, and allowed only 1 HR to lefthanded batters, which speaks to the strength of his changeup. Garcia is underrated on other prospect lists, in my opinion, and has the potential to put up a solid season in the Sally League in 2007 at age 19. Prediction: (A-), 150 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.90 BB/9, 7.00 K/9, 0.85 HR/9
  8. Scott Mathieson, RHP. Mathieson underwent Tommy John surgery in November, which is one of the main reasons he slid down the list a bit. If 100% healthy, he’d probably rank 5th on my list. Mathieson throws a mid 90’s fastball, but it lacks movement, which means he needs to command it in the zone to be effective. His changeup is average, and he’s worked with both a curve and a slider, eventually settling on a slider. While he was able to dominate minor league hitters with his offspeed stuff, he didn’t experience the same success at the big league level. Throughout his minor league career, his control improved at every level, but when he jumped to Philly, he saw all of his peripherals take a hit, which isn’t a surprise. He will miss all of 2007 and could make it back in time for the Arizona Fall League next year, but more likely won’t pitch until spring training 2008. Mathieson is still a prospect, but he will remain outside of the top 5 until we see what he looks like post surgery. If he adds velocity, like many TJ survivors do, he could consistently throw 95-96 and hit 98. If that’s the case, he profiles as a middle of the rotation starter or potential closer. He will be 23 this year in spring training, which puts him at 24 when he is recovered from surgery, and he’ll more than likely start in AAA and be the first callup, or he’ll compete for a bullpen spot in spring training. Prediction: Won’t pitch in 2007.
  9. Jason Jaramillo, C. I’ll qualify this selection, and the #10 selection, by saying that the difference between my 9th and 13th ranked prospects on this list is real small, and most guys are interchangeable. Jaramillo’s offense has been suspect, and he struggled at AA Reading in 2006, putting up a .708 OPS in his age 23 season. Jaramillo raked in college, with a .900+ OPS, but has struggled since reaching full season ball in 2005. While his bat won’t get him to the big leagues, his glove and presence behind the plate probably will. Scouts rave about his game calling ability and his arm strength, and that’s where his future lies. Catcher is not a notoriously big offensive position, but the Phillies also appear to have little patience when it comes to rookie catchers, though the organization does appear to be high on Jaramillo’s future. As a starting catcher, he probably won’t hit more than .250/.330/.450, but if he’s hit 8th in the lineup and his strong defensive presence carries over, he’ll have a fine major league career. Prediction: (AAA), .260/.350/.445, 13 HR
  10. Andrew Carpenter, RHP. Carpenter flew under the radar after being drafted, as his debut was delayed until the end of the summer, possibly because of his heavy college workload. Carpenter doesn’t possess outstanding stuff, with just a 91-94 mph fastball, average change and average curve, but he has superb command (1.53 BB/9 in college) and his K rate is good enough (7.57 in college), while his home run suppression looks just fine, at 0.31 HR/9 in college. He only pitched 11.2 innings at Batavia, so it’s tough to draw any real conclusions there, but he allowed only 1 ER in his 3 short starts. As a 3 year senior, Carpenter figures to move quickly through the system. He’ll likely start at Lakewood, but could possibly start at Clearwater and reach Reading by mid summer. For my prediction, I’ll assume he starts at Lakewood. Prediction: (A-), 65.0 IP, 2.50 ERA, 3.10 BB/9, 7.50 K/9, 0.35 HR/9, (AA), 75.0 IP, 3.50 ERA, 2.90 BB/9, 7.25 K/9, 0.85 HR/9

11-15, brief blurbs:

  • Matt Maloney, LHP: Maloney is another control lefty who offers little in the way of projection going forward. He throws in the mid 80’s but has good command. He’ll more than likely end up a 5th starter at best, and more likely be a candidate for the bullpen, but his 2006 numbers at Lakewood can’t be completely discounted.
  • Dan Brauer, LHP: Brauer is another control lefty, but he slid in the draft because of labrum surgery in 2004. He appears completely recovered, and had a solid season at short season Batavia. His stuff is on par with Happ’s, maybe a tick better, and could eventually be a middle of the rotation starter or top lefthanded reliever. He’ll more than likely start at Lakewood and move to Reading by midseason.
  • Zach Segovia, RHP. Segovia ranks behind Maloney and Brauer because he is right handed, and has similar stuff, with lefties being in slightly higher demand. He is 2 years removed from Tommy John surgery and looks to be fully healthy. Conditioning is an issue, and at this point his best bet for future success might be a 7th inning role, almost in the Geoff Geary mold.
  • Jesus Sanchez, C. Sanchez was part of the Bobby Abreu debacle, and was ranked the best defensive catcher in the GCL in 2006. He played the season at age 18, and will play 2007 at age 19, probably at short season Williamsport. He’s a strong defensive catcher already, while still raw offensively. He has solid projectability, he just needs to translate his tools to results.
  • Mike Costanzo, 3B. Costanzo is a guy I want to like, but he has numerous issues in his game that need to be resolved quickly if he’s going to become a major leaguer. His walk rate has improved as he’s progressed through pro ball, but he strikes out a ton, and at this point, he isn’t generating much power, with only 25 HR in 785 pro AB’s. If he’d put up those numbers as an 18/19 year old, you could shrug it off, but he played 3 years of college ball, and should be making better progress at this point. He’ll start 2007 in AA, and this seems like it could be a make or break year for him, at age 23.