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May 7, 2012

Future Shock

Monday Morning Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Throughout the entire month of April, it was pretty clear that Barnes didn't belong in Low-A, as the 2011 first-round pick allowed just one run over 26 2/3 innings while striking out 42. On Saturday, Barnes showed that he might not belong in High-A either, as he whiffed 12 over six four-hit innings in his Carolina League debut. Just as important as the numbers, Barnes has started to break out the secondary stuff, as after relying primarily on a fastball that can touch 97 in Greenville, he was generating swings and misses with a curveball that has been an inconsistent pitch in the past. His ceiling hasn't changed yet, but his timetable is quickly accelerating.

Gerardo Concepcion, LHP, Cubs (Low-A Peoria)
The Cubs rocked the scouting world when they signed Concepcion to a $6 million big league deal that included a $3 million bonus, and the 20-year-old Cuban has not exactly gotten off to a rollicking start. After allowing seven runs in one inning on Saturday, he now has an 18.90 ERA in three starts and the Midwest League is batting .514 (19-for-37) against him. That said, it's not time to panic, as the money involved was the creation of end-of-market inflation, and not Concepcion's talent. He throws strikes with an upper-80s fastball and has the potential for good secondaries, but as a command-and-control pitcher and not a stuff guy, it's going to take time to figure out how to pitch, as well as to adjust to his new life in the United States. Patience, for now.

Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Low-A Augusta)
Yet another one of those 2011 draftees overshadowed by all of the tremendous young pitching we've seen so far, Crick had his best outing of the year on Sunday, whiffing eight over six shutout innings while allowing just one hit to lower his ERA to 1.66 in five starts. While it's a bit of a cliché, Crick is a classic Texas high school righty: a power frame with power stuff. With a fastball that's been touching 95, a solid breaking ball and a much improved slider, the biggest challenge for Crick is improving his control, as over 21 2/3 innings, he's walked 17 and hit seven batters. Still, his ceiling ranks with any starter in the system, and he should not be overlooked.

Evan Gattis, OF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi)
The story of Gattis is becoming well known. If you need to catch up, Dave O'Brien wrote a wonderful piece on it this spring. So he walked away from the game, came back, and since then has done nothing but crush the ball. Moved up to Double-A after hitting a walloping .385/.468/.821 in 21 games at High-A Lynchburg, Gattis has a two home run weekend and now has three bombs in his first six games at the upper levels. Yes, he's killing it, but he's difficult to wrap one's head around. Because of the layoff, he turns 26 in August, and there just aren't many players like him. Understanding prospects is about understanding history. I'm not talking about finding the proper comp, it's more of looking at a player, and his tools and his performance and his development path and recognizing what players like that look like and therefore the various permutations of what they can become. There is no such roadmap for Gattis. All he can do is keep hitting and earning promotions.

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
One indication of an organization's attitudes about a player can be shown when he switches positions, shifting the wrong way on the defensive spectrum. That was the case with Gyorko, who switched to second base at the end of April and suddenly seemed to be close to San Diego. Gyorko's done his part to help that narrative, as with two more runs over the weekend, he's now batting .321/.397/.643 since moving to the position. The Padres housecleaning began with the Ernesto Frieri deal, and expect it to continue with Gyorko taking over at second base before the All-Star break. Possibly well before.

Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)
Every bit of hyperbole you've heard or read about Iglesias' defensive prowess is true: he's the best defensive shortstop in the minors. But what if he can hit? Even just a little bit? Even just enough to hit 9th every day? It's impossible to say he can do that yet, but with two hits in all three weekend games, he's strung together five straight multi-hit games to lift his averages to .253/.330/.293. His longest such streak all of last year was three games. The question is still a what if, but the answer isn't as sure as it once was.

Marc Krauss, OF, Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile)
A second-round pick in 2009, Krauss' 2010 season in the California League made him a prospect, and his follow-up campaign last year in Double-A made him a suspect. His size, patience, power, and lack of athleticism has always brought on comps of a poor man's Adam Dunn, and he's suddenly hitting like one. A 5-for-11 weekend that included his fifth home run of the year has his averages up to .277/.414/.554 with 21 walks in 31 games, and he's very much back to looking like a prospect again.

Wil Myers, OF, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas)
Wil Myers had a disappointing 2011 campaign while playing through an injury. He followed that up with a remarkable showing in the Arizona Fall League that had scouts saying "this is the player we thought he could be." Despite the sample size differences, the reports out of Arizona were so glowing that he was the top-ranked prospect in a strong Royals system entering the year. Turns out those scouts in Arizona were right, as with three home runs in his last four games, he's hitting .336/.390/.692, and his nine home runs is already one more than last year's total in 99 games. This is a special offensive prospect; now if only the Royals could find some pitching.

Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas)
It's been a strange season for Odorizzi, as his 3.48 ERA in six starts is a combination of dominating starts and some clunkers. On Saturday, it was the former, as the 22-year-old matched his season high with 11 strikeouts while allowing just two hits over 7 1/3 innings. He now has 40 strikeouts in 31 innings on the year and an opponent's average of just .184; with more consistency he becomes the top pitching prospect in the system, combining plus stuff with plus command and outstanding athleticism. However, until you feel like you're going to get that every start, he remains a really good prospect, not a great one.

Nick Tropeano, RHP, Astros (Low-A Lexington)
A fifth-round pick last June, Tropeano has been among the best starting pitchers in the Sally League so far this spring, as after seven shutout innings on Saturday—while allowing just two hits and striking out eight—he has a 1.87 ERA in six games with 41 whiffs in 33 2/3 innings. He's a bit of a trick pitcher, but it's one hell of a trick, as he throws strikes with an average-velocity fastball to set up a fantastic changeup, the kind of pitch that will make Low-A hitters look childish. He's certainly a prospect, with the potential to fit into the back of a big league rotation, but in order to do so, that one trick has to work all the way up the ladder.

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

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

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Kevin, regarding Iglesias, I mean we do kind of know, right? I realize he's fairly young for his level, but it's his second time through the league, and he's riding a hot streak to get his OPS over 600. That's just not going to cut it. I appreciate he's a sterling defender, and I've read many times he's the best defender in the minors, but unless he's HISTORICALLY great, that bat ain't going to carry him.
I mean, what's his absolute upside? Alcides Escobar? That even seems kind to me. Am I missing something?

May 07, 2012 06:06 AM
rating: 1

Yeah, that's kind. Escobar was a career .293 hitter in the minors, and while he has little pop, he has more than Iglesias.

May 07, 2012 09:24 AM
rating: 0

Oh, no I agree. Escobar is a solid regular SS in the bigs. That's what I mean. If everything goes right for Iglesias that's what he can hope to be. We all know everything doesn't go right for any prospect. Otherwise, Wieters would be Johnny Bench right now. I just don't see any fathomable path for Iglesias' bat to carry him beyond fringe MLer. If I was going to apply a comp I think really applies, it would probably be Luis Hernandez.

May 07, 2012 09:34 AM
rating: -3
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He's also riding a hot streak the likes of which we never saw last year. He's also coming off a spring in which some scouts said he made some progress with the bat. I'll I'm saying is this bears watching, and it does.

May 07, 2012 10:46 AM

A hot streak that's all of 5 games long, and contains a single extra base hit in it?
I know I'm being an antagonist here, but, what is the guy's likely upside? That's all I'm asking. I just don't see anyway, short of HISTORIC defense, and not just good, like Escobar, or Andrus, or even Hardy, that he EVER sniffs regular SS time for a good team. He can't put up a solid 600 OPS in the minors. What does that become in the show?
Now, I know you're not promoting him and you're just reporting, but, I just think he's been WILDLY overrated ever since the Red Sox threw too much money at him.
So, thank you for doing a fine job, and this is why I pay money to read this site, but, in this particular case, I just think this guy is overrated.
And yes, I'm an amateur, but time shall tell, and this guy will never be worth the investment the Sox put into him.

May 07, 2012 11:03 AM
rating: -3
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Again, a longer hot streak than we had all of last year. He's a very interesting player, I'm not saying he's going to be a star, but he's interesting. You could be doing this will all sorts of players in today's article. You could ask why I'm writing about Crick when he's walking the ballpark, you could be asking about Tropeano when he has so-so velo and not much of a breaking ball. I'm looking for ten narratives, and Iglesias has that.

May 07, 2012 11:11 AM
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Hey, man, I'm not trying to ride you or nothing. I know you have a column to write, and you have to find ten narratives as you say, and that's understandable. I'm just saying, on this particular player, I don't think he has a ML future, or at least a noteworthy one. He's "interesting" in the sense that he has one tool that is exceptional apparently. In my experience, a lot of guys have that. The other "interesting" factor about him is that a team threw ten million dollars in his face. Personally, I think he'd be far less "intersting" if that hadn't occurred.

May 07, 2012 12:15 PM
rating: -5
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

A lot of guys don't have Iglesias' one skill. Iglesias defense at SS is unmatched and not something you can always find in the minors. It's really special, and for me he's a story, and I'm not ready to write him off.

May 07, 2012 12:19 PM
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I'm not saying he's not a story. You'd be remiss not to write about him. That's fine. I've never tried to say you're wrong to do that; it's your job, and I appreciate it.
"Unmatched?" I doubt that. In the minors? Maybe. Is he better than Andrus? The guy that was putting up an OPS over 700 (something Iglesias has never sniffed) in MLB when he was 2 years younger? Is it better than Escobar? The guy who had an OPS over 750 at the same age at the same level?
Like I said, unless he is head and shoulders above the best defensive SS in the game right now, his bat will not carry him to being a regular at the ML level.
So, I'm not telling you to write him off. Hell, if he somehow becomes a guy that doesn't hit an empty 250 (being kind) in AAA, by all means, tell me I'm wrong.
But until that day comes, I'm sticking to my position.

May 07, 2012 13:30 PM
rating: -8

Jebus, Tim, you have 5 posts arguing against a position KG isn't even taking. You're saying he's probably not a star; KG is saying that he is interesting. That's all there is to see here. Rein it in.

May 07, 2012 14:11 PM
rating: 7
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No, I'm saying he isn't a regular unless he gets real, real lucky. And he probably, as a defensive SS in the AL, isn't much of a bench player. I'm saying he isn't anything more than a AAAA player. So I'm not arguing he isn't a star; I'm arguing he isn't all that interesting.

May 07, 2012 14:41 PM
rating: -5

It's the minors. No one has ever beaten the odds before? Anyone who is the best at anything is interesting, even if it's unlikely that skill plays up. You still miss the point, which isn't at all about his odds of sticking or getting better. He's the best. As long as he is, he's on the brink of being an interesting player in the majors.

May 07, 2012 15:54 PM
rating: 5

"I'm arguing he isn't all that interesting."

To you.

"Interesting" means different things to different people. The heroes of stories are interesting because of their faults and weaknesses. Superheroes wouldn't be interesting if Superman et al weren't flawed or didn't have serious, life-threatening vulnerabilities. That's what drama means.

Frankly, what's all that interesting about Mike Trout? I don't think there's anything from a dramatic standpoint; the guy's gonna be great (yawns). Big deal. There's absolutely nothing to write about there.

But feel free to keep telling people what they should find interesting. I hope you don't plan on writing a screenplay.

May 08, 2012 01:19 AM
rating: 1

Basically, he sounds like Rey Ordonez part deux.

May 07, 2012 20:03 PM
rating: 1

Rey Ordonez?

May 07, 2012 10:55 AM
rating: 4

Rey Ordonez's career minor league numbers .257/.290/.344
Rey Ordonez's last full year in AAA (as a 24 year old) .214/.261/.294

May 07, 2012 13:55 PM
rating: 1

So pretty good comp no?

May 07, 2012 14:44 PM
rating: -1

His absolute upside? A poor man's Brandon Wood with enough defense to make Tom Emanski weep tears of joy.

May 07, 2012 11:27 AM
rating: 3

Kevin, this is really a great feature. It's not just regurgitation of stats, but real insights / perspective. Thanks!

May 07, 2012 06:44 AM
rating: 2

Hey Kevin, is there any concern about Myers's uptick in K-rate and drop in BB-rate? Or is that just a product of him swinging more because he's killing the ball?

May 07, 2012 07:31 AM
rating: 0

Seems like Myers had been accused of being borderline too passive in the past. Maybe those rate changes are a net positive?

May 07, 2012 10:20 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Not really. Certainly not while he's hitting like this. This may sound counter-intuitive, but higher walk rates are not ALWAYS good, and lower walk rates are not ALWAYS bad.

May 07, 2012 10:47 AM

See Aaron Hicks

May 07, 2012 13:43 PM
rating: 1

or Jaff Decker

May 07, 2012 14:19 PM
rating: 2

How does Hechavarria compare to Iglesias at this exact moment? I know it's Vegas, but does 261 PAs of .333/.383/.479 in AAA put Adeiny ahead right now? Or is Iglesias' defense that good?

May 07, 2012 14:02 PM
rating: 1
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I think Adieny is ahead. He's a fantastic defender who has definitely improved w/ the bat.

May 07, 2012 14:34 PM

Can Sketchy Hechy be a starting shortstop in the majors? Has the bat improved that much?

May 07, 2012 16:03 PM
rating: 0
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