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October 25, 2010

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Johermyn Chavez, OF, Mariners (VEN: Navegantes)
A big slugger who came from Toronto in the Brandon Morrow deal, Chavez hit .315/.387/.577 for High-A High Desert this year, including a 1039 OPS after the All-Star break, but at the same time, he's exactly the kind of player who should put up big numbers in that park. His job in 2011 will be to prove he's for real, and he's gotten off to a head start with a .333/.417/.524 line in his first 11 Venezuelan games. He has massive power and equally huge holes in his swing, but with some adjustments, he has the tools to be more than just another High Desert mirage.

Zack Cox, 3B, Cardinals (AFL: Rafters)
Thought to be a potential top-10 pick in this year's draft, Cox slipped to the latter part of the first round due to bonus demands, and the Cardinals paid him at the deadline with a $3.2 million big-league deal. Because of the late deal, he played just four games in the Gulf Coast League during the regular season, so he's getting more experience in the Arizona Fall League and looking overmatched so far, with a 2-for-19 line that includes nine strikeouts. While scouts believe he can hit, he's a bad-bodied third baseman with a single-plane swing that's not conducive to power, and right now he's the winner of toughest scout quote from the Arizona Fall League so far, with one observer telling me, “I have no idea how you give that guy a big-league deal.”

Charlie Culberson, 2B, Giants (AFL: Scorpions)
Culberson is the offensive talk of the AFL so far, going 17-for-31 with 28 total bases in his first seven games while leading the league in all three triple-slash categories. A supplemental first-round pick in 2007, who didn't hit at all until this year, Culberson has been showcasing bat speed, gap power, and impressive athleticism so far, and scouts are not only noticing, they're mostly emphatic in their belief that this year's regular season breakout is the real deal.

Steven Geltz, RHP, Angels (AFL: Solar Sox)
Undrafted after a college career at the University of Buffalo that included 130 strikeouts over 106 innings, Geltz has gone from a nice story to a real sleeper in the Angels' system. He's an undersized right-hander with a violent delivery that hampers his control, but with a 91-94 mph fastball that touches 96 and a hard-biting breaking ball, he has the stuff to miss bats as well, as he's whiffed nearly 15 per nine innings this year. With five scoreless innings in Arizona that includes no walks, the soon-to-be 23-year-old could be on the verge of a big-league look at some point in 2011.

Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers (PR: Gigantes)
Instead of heading to the Arizona Fall League, Gordon will play at a sightly less competitive level in Puerto Rico, where he went 4-for-9 in his first two games. Entering the year as the top prospect in the system, Gordon's stock has slipped a bit after a full year at Double-A—not because he was bad, mind you, but more because there was simply little progress. He's still impatient at the plate, his base running and defense is a combination of spectacular and out of control, and questions about his lack of power are louder than they were 12 months ago. He remains a spectacular athlete, but is no more of a baseball player.

Derek Norris, C, Nationals (AFL: Scorpions)
The top offensive prospect in the Nationals' system before Bryce Harper came along, Norris struggled through an injury-riddled campaign that included playing with a hand injury that sapped his power. Limited to being a walk machine much of the year, Norris hit .235/.419/.419 at High-A Potomac with the hope that next year would be a healthy season with walks and power. Trying to get things going in Arizona, Norris has already slugged a pair of home runs in six games (while also drawing five more walks), and his status as one of the best offensive-oriented catchers around is quickly returning.

Bill Pulsipher, LHP (PR: Indios)
Scanning the box scores of Friday found a 4-0 win by Ponce over Mayaguez in Puerto Rico, but the story (OK, just for me) was Mayaguez starter Bill Pulsipher, who took the loss after allowing a pair of runs in two innings. At first, with just the last name in the box score, I thought, “It can't be that Pulsipher" ... yet it was. Having not pitched in organized baseball since 2005, the former hot-Mets property has been a hired gun (or rather right arm) in the Atlantic, Mexican, and Northern Leagues, and now, after turning 37 earlier in the month, he's pitching on the Isle of Enchantment. With all the stories about spoiled athletes, here's a reminder that the overwhelming majority of them just love playing.

Trayvon Robinson, OF, Dodgers (AFL: Desert Dogs)
Robinson is a very big exhibit against the argument that plate discipline can't be learned. A 10th-round pick in 2005 who entered the game extremely raw, Robinson drew less than 35 walks in each of his first two pro seasons, and after nearly doubling that number to 60 in 2009, he finished third in the Southern League in on-base percentage during the 2010 season with a line of .300/.404/.438. With gap power, well above-average speed (that he needs to learn how to utilize better) and now true leadoff skills, Robinson has gone from a player projected as a good fourth outfielder to one that some are starting to wonder if he can play every day. With a .514 on-base percentage in his first eight Arizona Fall League games, he's only helping his cause.

Mark Trumbo, 1B, Angels (PR: Navagantes)
As if Chavez doesn't give Magallanes enough of a power threat, Trumbo is off to a good start of his own, with a .302/.400/.535 line in 12 games. With a career year of .301/.368/.577 at Triple-A Salt Lake, it was surprising to see Trumbo not get a legitimate big-league shot after Kendry Morales' unfortunate celebration. There is also no guarantee that there's room for him next year, unless the gimpy Morales take over at designated hitter to make room for him. Trumbo is not a guaranteed star, and many wonder about his ability to hit for average in the big leagues, but he at least deserves a shot.

Sebastian Valle, C, Phillies (MEX: Caneros)
After playing a full season at Low-A Lakewood, Valle will play a smaller role for his hometown of Mochis in the offseason, being designated as a backup catcher and pinch-hitter while going 6-for-16 with a home run in his first eight games. Coming off a huge showing in Mexico last year after an equally impressive showing in the New York-Penn League, Valle scuffled in the Sally League, batting .255/.298/.430 while showing impressive power (16 home runs) to go with a horrible approach at the plate. Just 20 years old, Valle's power is rare to find in a backstop, and scouts noted improved defense this year, so it's way too early to give up on him.

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

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

BP Comment Quick Links

patrickc

Pulsipher is a LHP, unless something's changed

Oct 25, 2010 04:26 AM
rating: 1
 
dantroy

It's certainly impressive that he can pitch in a pro league with his other arm. Of course, given all the injuries Pulispher suffered, he probably has to... ;)

It's awesome to get updates in late October. Thanks, Kevin!

Oct 25, 2010 12:29 PM
rating: 1
 
raygu1

how was Derek Jeter's defense described after he made 56 errors in the minors.

Oct 25, 2010 06:27 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He was 18. When Jeter was Gordon's age, he just finished winning Rookie of the Year honors after making 22 errors in a full season the majors.

Oct 25, 2010 09:04 AM
 
raygu1

but Jeter, at that point, had played alot more baseball than Gordon at 22, no? Can't forget Gordon started playing baseball in his senior year of HS.
But, as a Dodgers fan, I hope he can improve his eye at the plate.

Oct 25, 2010 10:40 AM
rating: 0
 
raygu1

one more, if I may....Gordon also jumped from Low A to AA....and held his own, imo.

Oct 25, 2010 10:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Al Skorupa

Not sure what you're trying to say here... Jeter never really turned into a good defender.

Oct 26, 2010 20:08 PM
rating: 1
 
Sparky's Pitch Fork

Is there a Cardinal's prospect that you hold in moderately high regard sans Miller? I say this because your comments regarding Cardinal prospects for some time have been less than flattering.

Oct 25, 2010 06:47 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

The system is one of the more shallow ones around. The 2010 draft class certainly helps and will be prominent on their upcoming Top 11.

Oct 25, 2010 09:09 AM
 
HeavyHitter

Oh no you didn't. You didn't just play the "you're obviously biased against my favorite team" card, did you? Do you realize how lame and utterly absurd that is? If you want pablum, try licking your bib.

Oct 25, 2010 09:14 AM
rating: 1
 
Infrancoeurgible

Exactly. I know the Mets' cupboard is quite bare, and I'd rather get the straight s**t on prospects than listen to people in the organization kiss their behinds. If they lack tools, they lack tools; no other way around it.

Oct 25, 2010 09:49 AM
rating: -1
 
ostrowj1

To be fair, Sparky didn't actually claim a biased. I read it more as he was sad that his team doesn't have many top prospect, rather than accusing KG of a bias (though I could, of course, be wrong).

Oct 25, 2010 09:57 AM
rating: 8
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

For the record, I didn't think he was accusing me of bias in the least. And man oh man do I know about being accused of bias.

Oct 25, 2010 10:00 AM
 
Sparky's Pitch Fork

Poor, poor wording on my part. Was not accusing KG of bias against the Red Birds. I can now see how my comment can be viewed otherwise.

Oct 26, 2010 06:26 AM
rating: 3
 
SidsGraphs

I can understand when BP readers over react (with too much excitement or disappointment) to a small sample size yet I can't understand publishing a scouts remarks after 19 ab's (in 11 games over a two week period) in the AFL for Cox. In addition to the lack of recent ab's he has had only 4 other games all summer.....I can only assume the guy is playing only every other day for the first time in his career (which is not easy to get used to). His teammates benefit from AFL player schedule of basically having every other day off since they have been playing non stop since Feb. I am a Cubs season ticket holder so I am not part of Cardinal Nation but lets give the full story.....
BA's Callis just last week stated he was an "impact bat that will stay at 3B". Amazing how much can change after one weeks worth of ab's at the AFL.

Oct 25, 2010 07:18 AM
rating: -2
 
larry

i doubt there are any scouts who would tell you that they can't provide a very good assessment of a hitter after watching him bat 19 times, in addition to presumably watching him in batting practice.

Oct 25, 2010 07:31 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

So Jim and I have to agree? Jim and I are good friends and agree on many things, but Cox isn't one of them. It's not like this one scout quote changed my mind or something. I just went through the archives and I've said this stuff before.

5/21 "rarely drives balls with aluminum...[not] a middle-of-the-order force"
6/4 "questionable power ceiling"
6/15 "debates about his power potential...bad-bodied"

In addition, I bet that scout would say the same if Cox was 9-for-19, as his assessment of him being unworthy of a big league deal was based far more on tools than results in 19 ABs.

Oct 25, 2010 09:15 AM
 
SidsGraphs

No, you do not need to agree with Jim.
Are you going to attend any AFL games or just get reports from others?
I was there for the first week of games and you could obviously see the kid's timing is off. I am not a scout but I could only suggest it is from the lack of playing time and nothing to do with tools.

Oct 25, 2010 16:07 PM
rating: -2
 
awayish

present at the scene and possessing the function of vision does not mean you were scouting him.

Oct 25, 2010 16:26 PM
rating: 3
 
Al Skorupa

"I was there for the first week of games and you could obviously see the kid's timing is off."

So YOUR SSS observations are valid, but not the pro scouts? Interesting take.

Oct 26, 2010 20:12 PM
rating: 1
 
SidsGraphs

That is correct. It is common sense (lack of playing time)....but not everyone has that these days.
I think KG stated scout not pro scouts. He did go 25th overall so I think there is some talent there.

Oct 27, 2010 12:00 PM
rating: 0
 
abywaters

I saw Pulsipher pitch in Taiwan a couple of years ago - I think it was back in '06. Talk about determination....

Oct 25, 2010 09:54 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Just hold that in your back pocket every time someone tell you they're all spoiled and only care about the money . . . or just show them the dogpile at the end of every post-season series.

Oct 25, 2010 10:01 AM
 
NYYanks826

Makes you wonder what Paul Wilson is up to these days.

Oct 25, 2010 10:53 AM
rating: 0
 
DGBL

Can Culberson be an everyday guy in the majors?

Oct 25, 2010 09:55 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He might, rabbit . . . he might.

Oct 25, 2010 10:01 AM
 
rweiler

Culberson's is a nice upside surprise for Giants fans, but what the heck has happened to Conor Gillaspie? He is currently hitting 120/170/160 and that's *after* his first multi-hit game in the AFL. Even stranger, he has managed to put up a 330 OPS without a strikeout in 25 ABs. That almost wouldn't seem possible.

Oct 25, 2010 11:53 AM
rating: 0
 
Scott44

KG - Without going into too much depth, is Norris still a top 50 prospect for you?

Oct 25, 2010 12:31 PM
rating: 0
 
raygu1

I'd like to know this about Norris as well.

Oct 25, 2010 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
SC

And is he a real catcher? I'd love to hear scouts' thoughts on his defense this year. Nats are loaded with catching prospects and young catchers at the big league level, who emerges from them to be the starter from 2012 onward?

Oct 25, 2010 14:11 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Honestly? Don't know yet. Haven't done enough work to figure it out. My gut says he'll be close, thus the lack of a definitive answer. As for as defense goes, I think he's good enough to at least stay there; backhand compliment that it is.

Oct 25, 2010 15:08 PM
 
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