Back to the grades
Henry, CJ, SS (age 20) Grade = C-
CJ Henry, another cog in the Abreu trade, unfortunately comes with more hype than substance, but not enough performance to save him from this disappointing grade. Henry, a first round pick in 2005, was like the Yankees version of Greg Golson, so it was only natural that the Phillies asked for him in the Abreu deal. He was a basketball ace in high school and gave up a scholarship in favor of baseball. Always modest, he compares himself as a cross between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Yeah, so he’s modest at least. Unfortunately, his composite put him at around 3% below league average in the SAL, his OB% just .001 under league average (.330) and his slugging % (.366) about 2.6% under league average. He’s the classic tools guy, good athlete, potential power, good speed, but he hasn’t shown it on the field yet, much like our own Greg Golson. He played SS, but many feel he’s going to have to move off the position and move to 3B, possibly the OF down the road. He was only 20 in 2006 playing in the SAL, and will be 21 at the end of May, so even if he repeats Lakewood, he won’t be too old for the league. Maybe moving off of shortstop will allow him to relax a bit and focus more on hitting. There is one silver lining to his 2006. He drew 32 walks in 77 games for New York before the deal, which helped compensate for his poor .240 BA. For Henry, it’s all upside, not much performance.
Ceiling: An everyday 3B. Seriously, he has the tools to be an impact player. It’s the translation of the tools that is the current issue. Which leads to…
Floor: A basketball player. Maybe Henry made the wrong choice to play baseball, maybe not. Unfortunately, with a player like him, the gap between what he can be is huge. If he learns how to refine his approach at the plate, if he better utilizes his speed, and if he can take to 3B, he could turn into a superstar in short order. If not, he’ll never make it past AAA.
Conclusion: Henry, like Golson, is one of the guys that drive you insane, because you see the potential, but you don’t see the results. 2007 should give us a good idea whether he’s moving closer to being a useful player, or if it’s time to give up completely.
Maloney, Matt, LHP (age 23) Grade = B
On paper, Maloney should be an A++. He put up a sparking 2.03 ERA in 168.2 IP in 2006, allowed only 120 hits and struck out 180 batters, en route to helping lead the Blueclaws to the SAL title. However, there are some problems, in my view. First, he was 22 the entire year, on the high end of the prospect spectrum. College pitchers should dominate at low A, and Maloney did. The second problem, which ties in with the third, is his walk rate. He walked 73 in the 168.2 IP, which is a lot of walks. This ties in with the third problem, his mediocre stuff. He has a deceptive delivery (but it looks max effort to me, which could be a problem), and he relies on his slow curveball to get outs. The problem is, at higher levels, batters are less likely to swing at breaking balls out of the zone. Most guys with fringe stuff are pinpoint control guys, like Kevin Slowey and Jeremy Sowers, and scouts even question their success at higher levels. For a guy with an 86-89 MPH fastball, even for a lefty, I think he’s going to need to really refine his control at the higher levels, or he’s going to hit a wall quickly. Because he clearly didn’t belong in the SAL, we’ll have to see how he does against better competition. I’m not writing him off, though my writeup seems harsh, but I want to see him dominate (or at least pitch well) at higher levels against more advanced hitters. If his control improves, so will his grade.
Ceiling: Because of the lack of a high quality fastball or above average stuff, his ceiling is probably as a 4th/5th starter.
Floor: Brian Mazone without the steroids?
Conclusion: Finesse pitchers are really tough to figure out and project. If his control improves, he’s got a much better shot to reach his ceiling. If it doesn’t improve, he looks more like a AAAA pitcher, or maybe a possible reliever down the road. His 2007 should land him in Reading, where he’ll be the proper age for his level, and will be facing much more advanced prospects. If he repeats his numbers from 2006, he’ll be a legit prospect, and the ceiling might even improve.
Outman, Josh, LHP (age 22) Grade = A-
When you consider their numbers, Maloney had the better 2006, but when you consider the stuff, Outman gets the nod, and it’s not really close. Outman was well above average in H/9, K/9 and HR/9, but like Maloney, struggled a bit with command, allowing 4.35 BB/9. However, he scrapped his slower slider/curve in favor of a hard biting slider, and that might be a possible reason for his lack of control. His fastball sits in the 92-94 range, which is outstanding for a LHP, and while his changeup is average, it could improve as he throws it more. His new-found hard slider was a true out pitch, evident in the 9.33 K/9. He didn’t turn 22 until September, so he basically pitched 2006 at age 21, which gives him another edge on Maloney. His composite numbers, about 31% above league average, probably should put him in the B+ range, but he gets the bump up for his strong performance as the season progressed, with his August (32 IP, 10 BB, 16 H, 35 K) showing that he’d truly taken things in the right direction. Because he possesses better stuff, he’s a better bet going forward. He’s also a personal favorite of mine, so that might skew my grade a bit, but lefties with his type of power don’t grow on trees. Chris Kline mentioned he might end up a reliever if he doesn’t harness his changeup, but I think he has plenty of time to work on it, and there’s no need to rush him. Power lefties are rare, and are much more valuable in the rotation. He’ll likely start at Clearwater and possibly move to Reading at mid-season.
Ceiling: #2 starter. I stated above that he’s a favorite, so maybe I’m being unrealistic, but really, if he lowers his walk rate while maintaining his strong K rate and hit rate, he’s got the makings of a front of the rotation starter. He keeps the ball on the ground and gets lots of swings and misses….really the perfect combination for a pitcher.
Floor: A reliever. If his changeup doesn’t become at least average, this is a possiblity.
Conclusion: The sky is the limit for Outman, a 10th round pick in 2005. If he harnesses his stuff, he’s a lock to stay in the rotation, and probably pitch in the top half of said rotation. If he pitches well in 2007, he should finish the season at Reading, which means he’ll be poised for MLB action sometime in 2008. There’s no need to rush him at this point, and focusing on his control within the strikezone and his command of his secondary pitches are the big areas to watch in 2007.