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October 12, 2010

Future Shock

Top 11 Review: NL West

by Kevin Goldstein

Arizona Diamondbacks
No. 1 Prospect: Jarrod Parker, RHP (52nd overall)
What Was Said: “...If he comes back 100 percent, he's an All-Star.”
Analysis: As expected, Parker missed the entire year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but by all accounts, his recovery has been a success, as he's pitching to live hitters in the instructional league and already touching the mid-90s with his fastball. A lost year is never good for one's development, but for Parker, everything post-surgery has gone as well, if not better, than expected.
Two Through Eleven: First baseman Brandon Allen (second) had an interesting season at Triple-A Reno, slugging 25 home runs and drawing 83 walks in just 107 games, but a .261 batting average in a hitter's paradise still leaves a lot of questions. Top 2009 pick Bobby Borchering (third) really didn't get going at Low-A South Bend until the end of the season, but at least he saved his prospect status. Shortstop Chris Owings (fourth) was the best player on the South Bend squad before foot issues cut his season short. Outfielder A.J. Pollock (fifth) missed the entire year following elbow surgery, while fellow flychaser Keon Broxton (sixth) had some of the best tools in the Midwest League and led the minors with 19 triples, but also hit just .228 with 172 strikeouts. A pair of slugging 2009 draftees, outfielder Marc Krauss (seventh) and third baseman, at least in name, Matt Davidson (eighth) both impressed with the bat in their first full seasons, but lefty Mike Belfiore disappointed (ninth) in his. Converted outfielder Leyson Septimo (11th) still has insane velocity for a southpaw, and still has no idea where it's going.
Sleeper: Thick righty Josh Collmenter continued to succeed at High- and Double-A but the lack of a true out pitch caught up to him in the Pacific Coast League.

Colorado Rockies
No. 1 Prospect: Christian Friedrich, LHP (22nd overall)
What Was Said: “...Has two big-league swing-and-miss offerings.”
Analysis: That wasn't the case this year, as Friedrich's velocity dipped significantly due to elbow soreness and some mechanical difficulties. He had some very good midseason starts, but what was a bad season turned into a nightmare when he took a line drive off his pitching elbow, which all but ended his year.
Two Through Eleven: Top 2009 draftee Tyler Matzek (second), was inconsistent in terms of both velocity and command during his pro debut, but when he was on, he was among the best arms in the Sally League. Catcher Wilin Rosario (third) was in the midst of a breakout campaign at Double-A Tulsa, slugging 19 home runs in 270 at-bats before going down with an ACL injury that will cost him 2011 spring training at the least. Righty Jhoulys Chacin (fourth) was impressive in the big-league rotation and should be a mainstay there for years to come. Unable to stay healthy, shortstop Hector Gomez (fifth), played just 27 games in 2010, and has participated in just 111 over the last three years. Righty Esmil Rogers (sixth) was pressed into big-league duty, but he wasn't ready for it and struggled. Outfielder and 2009 first-round pick Tim Wheeler (seventh) did nothing to impress in the California League, but power lefty Rex Brothers (eighth), taken just two picks later, reached Double-A with his upper-90s fastball and could be on the verge of a major-league bullpen role. Casey Weathers (ninth), their 2007 first-round pick, struggled to throw strikes in his return from Tommy John surgery, while second baseman Eric Young Jr. (10th) and catcher Mike McKenry (11th) both saw some big-league time but ultimately stagnated.
Sleeper: Constantly injured, Australian righty Shane Lindsay was claimed off waivers by Cleveland, and while he struck out 54 in 40 1/3 innings in 2010, his merely sub-standard control completely abandoned him with 50 walks.

Los Angeles Dodgers
No. 1 Prospect: Dee Gordon, SS (27th overall)
What Was Said: “...Despite his performance, most see Gordon as a one-step-at-a-time player.”
Analysis: Except for the Dodgers, that is, who moved Gordon up two levels to Double-A. While Gordon answered the challenge well, and his peripheral numbers were equal to what he did in the Midwest League in 2009, questions about his lack of power and sloppy defense remain.
Two Through Eleven: Los Angeles' 2007 first-round pick, Chris Withrow (second), had a breakout year in 2009 and an equally bad year in 2010 as his mechanics fell apart while his velocity and control dipped. Ethan Martin (third), their 2008 first-rounder, had similar, if not more troubling problems in the California League. On a more positive note, 2009 supplemental first-rounder Aaron Miller (fourth) showed above-average velocity and command in the California League, before an ugly showing in Double-A proved that man can not live by fastball alone. Fellow southpaw Scott Elbert (fifth), left the organization in July for personal reasons, but returned toward the end of the year and may pitch in the Arizona Fall League in order to begin 2011 with a fresh start. Outfielder Trayvon Robinson (sixth), 2009's breakout offensive player, wasn't able to bring his California League power with him to Double-A, but he continued to refine his approach in preparation for a future leadoff role. Teenage righty Garrett Gould (seventh) was solid in the Pioneer League, but not as good as advertised. Infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. (eighth) moved over to second base, but his bat didn't advance enough to become a starter, while Triple-A teammate Josh Lindblom (ninth) got hammered in both starting and relief roles. The best story in the system was Kenley Jansen (10th), as the converted catcher entered the year with less then 12 innings of professional experience on the mound, and finished it with four major-league saves and 41 strikeouts in 27 big-league innings. After hitting 26 home runs and striking out 180 times in 2009, outfielder Kyle Russell (11th) nearly matched those numbers perfectly in 2010 with 26 bombs and 177 whiffs.
Sleeper: Easily my best sleeper pick of the year, outfielder Jerry Sands reached Double-A while hitting .301/.395/.598 in the process with 35 home runs.

San Diego Padres
No. 1 Prospect: Donovan Tate, OF (29th overall)
What Was Said: “...No other position player in the system is even in the same zip code when it comes to pure ceiling.”
Analysis: While Tate struck out 41 times in his first 90 professional at-bats, his list of maladies since signing could fill an entire chapter of our annual. His tools remain top of the charts, but at 20, he's already behind the development curve. He still could be a beast, but the chances of him doing so are low.
Two Through Eleven: After breaking out in the Midwest League last year, righty Simon Castro (second) made it all the way to Triple-A and should make his big-league debut next year. Third baseman James Darnell (third) was also plagued by the injury bug, and never got going at Double-A. After getting off to a disturbingly slow start in the California League, outfielder Jaff Decker (fourth) was among the league's best hitters in the second half, batting .305/.439/.616 after the All-Star break. Righty Wynn Pelzer (fifth) scuffled with his control and secondary offerings at Double-A before going to Baltimore in the Miguel Tejada deal. Infielder Lance Zawadzki (sixth) spent a month in the big leagues as a utility player, and that's the most optimistic projection for him after a brutal year at the plate in the minors. Teenage righty Adys Portillo (seventh) showed some adjustments in 2010, and could be on the verge of good things in his full-season debut next year. Moved to second base, where his offensive profile fits better, Logan Forsythe (eighth) still walks a lot, but that's the only good thing to say about his 2010 campaign. Power lefty Aaron Poreda (ninth) walked 38 in 29 Triple-A innings, and if anything, he's gone backward. In other collapse news, right-hander Dexter Carter (10th) completely fell apart, ending up back in the Northwest League. Everett Williams (11th), San Diego's 2009 second-round pick, showed plenty of tools, but even more rawness in his full-season debut.
Sleeper: The Double-A curse continued to rear its ugly head in the form of outfielder Sawyer Carroll, who hit just .240/.324/.345 for Double-A San Antonio.

San Francisco Giants
No. 1 Prospect: Buster Posey (ninth overall)
What Was Said: “...could step into the big leagues right now and be an above-average offensive catcher.”
Analysis: After being held back in the minors to start the year under the ruse of working on his defense (it was service time management), Posey was much more than above average and should be an All-Star catcher for years to come.
Two Through Eleven: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (second) got a little bit (hardly all) of his velocity back, but he also found a curveball, more consistency with his changeup, and when all of that combined with his above-average command and control, he was just fine in the end. Their 2009 first-round pick, Zach Wheeler (third), pitched less than 60 innings at Low-A while dealing with blister issues, but he also routinely got into the 95-97 mph range with his fastball. After going from Low-A to the big leagues last year, Dan Runzler (fourht) spent most of the year in the Giants bullpen but was derailed by knee problems. Shortstop Ehire Adrianza (fifth) still doesn't hit much, but man can he pick it. One of the biggest international signs from 2008, outfielder Rafael Rodriguez (sixth) showed some progress in the Arizona Summer League, but not as much as anticipated. Outfielders Thomas Neal (seventh) and Roger Kieschnick (eighth) look like products of the California League after struggling at Double-A. Catcher Tommy Joseph (ninth) showed impressive power in his pro debut, but his approach and defense still needs plenty of work. Outfielder Francisco Peguero, (10th) hit .329 for High-A San Jose with 16 triples, 10 home runs, and 40 stolen bases, but the glaring number was just 18 walks in 122 games. Giant (literally) third baseman Chris Dominguez (11th) still has 80 raw power and an 80 arm, but his .272/.326/.456 line for a 23-year-old in Low-A fails to impress.
Sleeper: Talented-but-inconsistent righty Henry Sosa pitched well in the Triple-A Fresno bullpen, but scuffled following a return to the rotation.

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

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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roycewebb

Thomas Neal OPSd .799 at a tough Richmond park, better than any Squirrels regular except Brandon Belt (1.036). I can certainly see applying the California League tag to Roger Kieschnick (.673), but does Neal really deserve that? Thanks for all your work.

Oct 12, 2010 07:22 AM
rating: 4
 
formersd

This pretty much summarizes my observations for the Padres minor leagues this year. It was almost a complete disaster. Will be interesting to see how that impacts the decisions made for the Major League club next year. I think there's an argument to be made to go for it, since the future looks pretty far off at this point.

Oct 12, 2010 08:16 AM
rating: 0
 
sarsfield

Darnell hit .349/.432/.547 in August. I don't know but I think that might qualify as "started to get going".

Oct 12, 2010 09:49 AM
rating: 0
 
NYYanks826

Kevin, great work as usual.

Mike Belfiore graduated from my high school, so of course I've been following him more than most prospects.

Do you have any more information on what kind of stuff he has?

I also know that despite the poor record, his ERA seems to leave some reason to be optimistic for the future. Do you know if his ERA is due to some luck in BABIP, or did he just not receive the kind of run support he needed?

Oct 12, 2010 12:22 PM
rating: 0
 
Scott44

KG - Future third baseman for you, Davidson or Borchering?

Oct 12, 2010 14:27 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Honestly I didn't like either of them at third base.

Oct 12, 2010 18:33 PM
 
harderj

Isn't Madison Bumgarner's speed all the way back now?

An ESPN article mentions he threw 90-94 at the start of last year (in single A), dropped to 87-90 in AA, and was 85-88 with the Giants in his cup of coffee at the end of the year.

In April of this season he had a AAA start against Portland in the low 90's, topping out at 93.

(http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/tag/_/name/madison-bumgarner)

With regard to his game against the Braves (touched 95), here's the ESPN note:

"- After a mysterious drop in velocity late last season, Bumgarner's speed on his fastball has been climbing with each month - and it peaked, in a rousing way, on Monday. His fastball touched 95 MPH, and he was able have career-best success with it across the board. His velocity, strike percentage, miss percentage and chase percentage were the highest of his career. -Bumgarner went to his fastball early, throwing 28 in the first three innings and allowing three hits. He threw just 15 fastballs the next three innings, going more often to his slider to keep hitters off balance. He didn't allow a hit on his fastball the rest of the way. - Bumgarner's rising fastball velocity helped make his off-speed more effective. He threw 31 sliders, second most in a start, and Braves hitters missed on 7 of their 15 swings (47 pct), his highest miss percentage in his career on his slider."

(http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=301011115)

Oct 14, 2010 08:46 AM
rating: 0
 
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