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April 18, 2011

Future Shock

Monday Morning Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
Another Saturday and another great start for Bauer; he struck out 13 during a four-hit shutout of Arizona. The win made him the all-time Bruins leader in that category (28) to go along with the all-time strikeout mark he reached earlier in the season. There are better pitching prospects in college baseball, but there are no better pitchers, as Bauer now has a 1.47 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings while allowing just 37 hits. Unfortunately, there is still the question of workload, as Bauer once again had a concerning number of pitches, firing 134 in the win. There has been much hand-waiving concerning Bauer's poise and maturity, and how his unique routines and arm actions make him less susceptible to the damage caused by high pitch counts, just like Tim Lincecum in 2006. That's the most dangerous of comps, as Lincecum is a unique specimen, and it is dangerous to assume Bauer will develop along the same lines just because he too is a bit of an oddball. Teams will bet he can be rested and used properly, and providing he survives his current , Bauer will still go in the first ten picks.

Tim Beckham, SS, Rays (Double-A Montgomery)
I don't root against players, perhaps save for Josh Leuke. When people ask me if a player is a bust, the last thing I want to say is yes. One of my favorite things to say is, “the tools are still there.” That is certainly the case with Beckham, who entered the year with career averages of .263/.332/.371. Although he's probably not going to be a shortstop in the end—something that was a shaky proposition—even when he was the top pick in the 2008 draft—it's far too early to jump to any conclusions about his abilities. After a 4-for-12 weekend that included a pair of home runs, Beckham is hitting .308/.357/.538 in ten games while having yet to commit an error. Obviously, the Rays wish they took Buster Posey three years ago, but at least they finally have cause for optimism.

Gary Brown, OF, Giants (High-A San Jose)
When Gary Brown was the Giants’ first-round pick last June, scouts talked about his blinding speed, outstanding center field defense, and .438 batting average, while a small but vocal minority of those statistically inclined just talked about the walks, or incredible lack thereof. Here's the thing: When you are hitting .438 and slugging .695, there is no need to tell a guy it's time to take more pitches, as it serves no purpose. Now a pro, Brown understands that his future is as a big-league leadoff man, and that he's not going to hit .438, and getting on-base is going to involve more than line drives. With five hits and two walks over the weekend, Brown is hitting .318/.434/.364 in his first 11 pro games with seven walks in 44 at-bats, and scouts are noting solid plate discipline and pitch recognition. College and professional baseball are very different things, and reading too much into the numbers can be dangerous.

C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah
While the 2011 draft class continues to earn praise as one of the best in recent memory, it's also becoming an incredibly unbalanced one, as new top-flight pitchers seem to pop up on a weekly bases, while the crop of position players has for the most part, left scouts hungry. This could lead to some overdrafts, and that's where Cron comes in. The son of Chris Cron, a second-round pick in 1984 who played briefly in the majors and now manages Double-A Erie, the younger has been among the best college bats all spring, and while he's a bat-only first baseman, it's hard to ignore a bat that added six more hits over the weekend and is now hitting .478. Despite his limited tools, Cron is in plenty of first-round mixes, and could be a surprise pick in the teens.

James Darnell, 3B, Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
Highly regarded after an impressive full-season debut in 2009, Darnell fell to No. 15in this year's Padres prospect rankings after a 2010 season that was a ugly combination of injuries and inconsistent play. An athletic third baseman with solid power and an excellent approach, Darnell is repeating Double-A as a 24-year-old, but he's finally healthy and among the hottest bats in all of the minor leagues, going 8-for-10 with five walks over the weekend to up his averages to a ridiculous .514/.591/.771 in nine contests while striking out just once in 35 at-bats. Like most minor league prospects with less than two weeks in the books, it's too early for judgments, but like Beckham, at least the tools are there.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals (Triple-A Omaha)
Hosmer has just one home run in his first 44 Triple-A at-bats. There: I found something bad to say. After going 7-for-9 over the weekend, the 21-year-old is now hitting .409 (18-for-44) in his first 11 Triple-A games, and the scouting reports are as good as the numbers, as few hitters in the minors are more consistently barreling up pitches than the former first-round pick. The most fascinating aspect to the possibly historic Royals minor league system at this point isn't in the talent, but in the execution, and Hosmer's doing his best to mess with any master plan by rapidly accelerating his timetable to the big leagues.

Jose Martinez, OF, White Sox
Three years ago, Martinez was among the highest-ceilinged prospects in the White Sox system, but a severe knee injury cost him all but 39 games in 2008, the entire 2009 season, and limited him to only 67 games last year. At six-foot-five, he still looks awfully good in a uniform, and while the knee problems have sapped him of his speed, there are (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) still plenty of tools. At 22, he's still far more projection than reality, but Martinez has hits in eight of nine Carolina League games, including a three-hit effort on Sunday, to raise his averages to .432/.488/.595, and in a system desperate for anything resembling a prospect, he's suddenly one to watch again.

Jio Mier, SS, Astros (Low-A Lexington)
Despite hitting .235/.323/.314 last year in his full-season debut, Mier still ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the Astros system. A first-round pick in 2009, Mier is a true shortstop defensively with plus range, soft hands, and arm strength, so nearly anything Houston can get out of the bat will be gravy. He works the count well and has some bat speed, so there is reason to believe he can at least hit enough to fit in the bottom of a big league lineup, and after a 6-for-11 weekend that includes his first home run of the year, he's hitting .343/.477/.486 in 10 games back in the Sally League. Now battling Jonathan Villar for the title of shortstop of the future, Mier is doing his best to close the gap.

Wily Mo Pena, OF, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno)
Sure, he's 29 years old, and sure he's a career .253 hitter in the big leagues with nearly a strikeout for every three at-bats, but he's huge, he's fun to watch, and when he gets a hold of one, it can clear Derek Jeter’s mansion. With six home runs in nine Triple-A games inflating a .971 slugging percentage, Pena has whiffed only five times in 35 at-bats, but it's hard to see him getting a shot as long as Arizona continues their quest to see if Gerardo Parra can be an everyday corner outfielder (hint: he can't). Root for him, enjoy the fireworks, hell, even start a “Free Wily Mo” campaign, but in the final analysis he's still Wily Mo Pena, and we all know what that is.

Jean Segura, SS, Angels (High-A Inland Empire)
No one should be surprised that Segura is hitting. After torching the Midwest League during the second half of the 2010 season, the 21-year-old Dominican is now batting .404 in the Cal League after an eight-hit weekend. Hitting baseballs, showing gap power, drawing some walks and stealing some bases was expected from him, but the big story was the rare reverse move on the defensive spectrum, as the former second baseman is now a shortstop. A 60-plus runner, Segura has more than enough range, a plus arm, and he's shown much more consistency with the glove so far than in past years, committing just one error in 11 contests. As a potential .300 hitter with walks, double-digit home runs and 30+ stolen bases, Segura was a fantastic prospect as a second baseman. If he can stay on the left side of the infield, he will move into elite territory.

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

Related Content:  Triple-A

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

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Right as if we didn't have enough confusion between Goldman and Goldstein we now find out Steven Goldman is moonlighting as a prospect analyst too!!

Given that it still reads as a Kevin Goldstein piece I assume the error will be corrected and this post will make me look like an idiot!

Apr 18, 2011 04:36 AM
rating: 4
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

My bad... I kicked the "author" menu a little too hard.

Apr 18, 2011 05:58 AM
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Great, rooting against another human being who's trying to move on. Beautiful.

I'd prefer if BP stayed out of the human morality element and stuck to baseball analysis. Because if you really want to go on a diatribe about sports players and morality, maybe you could check into how many of them are adulterers. Or tax evaders.

This must be Annoy Seattle Fans Day.

Apr 18, 2011 05:04 AM
rating: -23
Benjamin Harris

I don't like the comp. A plea down to false imprisonment with violence because the defendant didn't want to testify is not the same as tax evasion.

Apr 18, 2011 05:20 AM
rating: 10
Benjamin Harris

Sorry, that should obviously say "victim," not defendant.

Apr 18, 2011 05:21 AM
rating: 4
Luke in MN

I'm always fascinated by how strongly some people react to even the faintest hint of moral disapproval in a baseball column.

Apr 18, 2011 05:41 AM
rating: 5
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

Because you can totally detach the human element from the baseball element? Isn't that what sabermetrics' most hostile antagonists always accuse of us doing? In any case, be careful of the kind of false equivalence you set up here, between rape, adultery, and tax evasion. None are good things, but there is no element of violence or coercion in the latter two.

Apr 18, 2011 06:03 AM

Last season, I remember (at MLB.com boards) the venom spewed on people who lauded Grant Desme for retiring and entering the priesthood. It doesn't matter if the person does something generally considered "good" or "bad", in the eyes of some fans. If it messes with their team, their grasp on reason completely eludes them and they become quick to throw around absurd claims of unfairness, racism, misplaced religious belief, or stereotyping.

My gut feeling says the people who get offended by what you wrote above are the same people that jump on the bandwagon to blast players on other teams who have problems. Prime example in my own hometown was Miguel Tejada. Houston media and fans hated him when there were suspicions of PED's prior to the Mitchell Report. But when he signed with the Astros, suddenly he became "misunderstood" and Houston's favorite prodigal son.

It's that kind of hypocrisy that makes fandom great and incredibly annoying all at the same time. Leuke doesn't deserve the opportunity he's been given, and Seattle fans would agree 100% with that statement...back when he played for the Rangers.

Apr 18, 2011 06:45 AM
rating: 16
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Well technically there's an element of coercion (and violence) in tax evasion, it's just coming from the government side ;-)

Apr 18, 2011 09:10 AM
rating: -14
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Um, is this a "this has nothing to do with baseball" negative rating, or a "you're wrong" negative rating? I sure hope it's the former...

Apr 18, 2011 12:15 PM
rating: -12

Bodhizefa,just an FYI but people were saying the exact things about Elijah Dukes 3 years ago and look how that turned out....

Now maybe some people do genuinely change but colour me skeptical on Lueke...

Maybe he's a changed man but until I see evidence of this I will continue to root for horrible injuries to occur to him

Apr 18, 2011 05:30 AM
rating: 0

... clearing Derek Jeter's ego? Add that to the BP list of good one-liners.

Apr 18, 2011 06:35 AM
rating: 12

Dang, nothing on the Lansing guys?

Apr 18, 2011 08:41 AM
rating: 0
Ian Miller

Gary Brown is fast, no two ways about it. However, he ran himself into 2 outs on the basepaths yesterday -- one was a CS, which I didn't mind much, but the other was ugly. Gary tried to stretch a long single into a double, and kinda Cadillaced it toward 2B until he saw the throw coming in, and he kicked into high gear and was thrown out by 15 feet. Had he been hustling the whole way, he probably would've been safe.

Not a big deal, but a very A-ball performance.

Apr 18, 2011 08:46 AM
rating: 2

I was at this game and, trying to be charitable to Brown, it looked like the play at second (had he gone balls-out the whole way) would have been a bang-bang play with a runner coming home and two outs, so the possibility exists that he got himself into a rundown to make sure the run scored (which it did).

However, you are totally correct that no one with that kind of speed should ever be thrown out by 15 feet in any situation.

Apr 18, 2011 10:25 AM
rating: 0
Mike White

I think it is high time we factored in brand of said tools. Toolsheds are nice, but I need to see Craftsman to really get excited.

Apr 18, 2011 09:21 AM
rating: 1
Ian Miller

Wily Mo Pena is like a Harbor Freight drill press

Apr 18, 2011 10:26 AM
rating: 11

Is Michael Ynoa going to pitch this year?

Apr 18, 2011 09:23 AM
rating: 0
Lou Proctor

He had Tommy John late last August, so it appears doubtful.

Apr 18, 2011 10:41 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

For what's it's worth, both his surgery and his rehab have gone as expected so far.

Apr 18, 2011 12:29 PM

Even with the arm problems his ceiling is still incredibly high right?

Apr 18, 2011 19:54 PM
rating: 0

I'd love to see a scouting report/comparison/draft status about Cron's little brother who seems to be having a more dominant HS career in AZ than his older brother.

Apr 18, 2011 09:34 AM
rating: 3

I root against Brett Myers as well.

Apr 18, 2011 09:48 AM
rating: 6
David Coonce

Julio Lugo also.

Apr 18, 2011 12:26 PM
rating: 0

Garrett Wittels?

Apr 18, 2011 16:29 PM
rating: 0

I'd venture to say that, were he still alive, I'd be cheering against Ty Cobb.

But, since he isn't, Elijah Dukes would make a good 2nd choice. Saying "You dead, dawg." to your wife, then failing to make child support, then getting put in the clink again for domestic abuse...yeah, I'd say that's the one player laboring in the lower leagues who doesn't even deserve *that* honor.

Apr 18, 2011 17:21 PM
rating: 1

I'm a bit confused about Beckham. How many other 21 year olds (or younger) are in double-A? How many other 21 year olds are above double A?

Apr 18, 2011 22:24 PM
rating: 1

Well, let's see...the Royals alone have Christian Colon (21), Salvador Perez (20), Will Smith (21), John Lamb (20), and Wil Myers (20) at AA. And two 21-year-olds in AAA with Eric Hosmer and Mike Montgomery.

Apr 19, 2011 11:15 AM
rating: 0

Thank you, this tells me that there is an organization that does have some players, but the question I am asking is, what is the percentage of players in AA 21 and under? I am assuming that this is a standard metric people who study prospects could give me. Since the vast majority of prospects fail and only about 25% of #1 picks contribute much in the majors (from Jason Collette) I am hoping to find some percentages based on age and level. BP is a place one might expect such data.

Apr 19, 2011 13:22 PM
rating: 1

There are 12 players 21 or younger in AAA and, at a guess, 35-40 in AA. I don't know how that figures out percentage-wise, but I would say it's pretty small. Here's a list that has the youngest players by league (apologies if it's subscription only); all the 21 and under AAA guys are listed and most of the AA ones:


Apr 19, 2011 13:50 PM
rating: 0

Thank you - this at least gives me some raw data to work with.

Apr 22, 2011 13:02 PM
rating: 0
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