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May 17, 2001

The Daily Prospectus

Around the Minors

by Joe Sheehan

Here's a look around the minor leagues, similar to what I did for the AL and NL last week. I'll focus mainly on Triple-A today, then the rest of the minors tomorrow. (Honest.)

  • Alfonso Soriano has gotten a lot of attention for his play, and Tino Martinez has managed to be adequate so far, but the Yankees could do themselves a huge favor by simply trading left sides of the infield with Triple-A Columbus.

                        OBP    SLG
    Alfonso Soriano    .291   .406
    D'Angelo Jimenez   .350   .380
    

    OBP SLG Tino Martinez .360 .481 Nick Johnson .451 .571

    Soriano's BA has slipped to .284, dragging his nearly-walk-free OBP with it. It's nearly impossible to help your team if your OBP is under .300.

    Jimenez and Johnson are the only real position-player prospects the Yankees have above A-ball, although a healthy Drew Henson would change that. Juan Rivera is hammering the Eastern League for Norwich, but with just six walks in 165 plate appearances, skepticism is warranted.

  • If the Expos continue to get nothing out of their left fielders, look for Brad Wilkerson's stay in Ottawa to be brief. He's a doubles machine whose season is only now getting started due to an off-season shoulder injury. He's the left-handed power hitter the Expos have desperately needed since Larry Walker left.

    What I'll want to see is whether Wilkerson continues to show good plate discipline when he gets to Montreal. He's had good walk rates coming through the system, but Expo prospects haven't maintained that skill upon reaching the majors.

  • The best player in the International League--a league very thin on prospects--so far this year is probably Israel Alcantara, who is hitting .321/.392/.672 as Pawtucket's DH. Given Jimy Williams's problems with Alcantara last season and Williams's preference for glove men, Alcantara looks like a good bet to win league MVP honors, because he should be there all year.

  • Not only are the Phillies getting good pitching at the major-league level, but their top prospects are having good years. The rotation core at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre--Evan Thomas, Dave Coggin, Brandon Duckworth, and Nelson Figueroa--has a composite strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3-to-1, and all of the four have ERAs of 3.68 or below. This depth could help the Phillies trade to patch their holes at second base and catcher, and is even more reason why the Braves need to be worried.

  • Exactly how did Ramon Castro clear waivers? He's now hitting .390/.446/.720 for Calgary, with pretty much no chance of returning to the Marlins anytime soon. He deserves a major-league job.

  • The Cardinals' nine-game winning streak has taken attention away from the lousy job their rotation had been doing, but if Andy Benes and Dustin Hermanson continue to struggle, the pressure to bring up Bud Smith will increase. Smith is taking apart the PCL, with a 2.25 ERA in 52 innings, a 43/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just two home runs allowed.

  • Chad Hermansen may officially be done. He's at .202/.287/.321 through 84 at-bats, with 28 strikeouts.

    A few years back, we did a feature here at the Web site in which everyone submitted their top 20 prospects. Clay Davenport took all kinds of heat for being the only staff member who did not include Hermansen on that list. His reasoning was that Hermansen was such a bad defensive player that his deficiencies would prevent him from developing as expected.

    If meteorologists could only predict the weather this well...

  • More evidence that Billy Beane is smarter than everyone else: Eric Ireland, acquired for Matt Stairs in the off-season and widely referred to as "who?", has an ERA of 2.92, 34 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 52 1/3 innings.

  • It's not just happening at Safeco. The Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in the PCL, have an ERA of 2.79, which leads the league by nearly a full run.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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