August 13, 2012
Monday Morning Ten Pack
J.O. Berrios, RHP, Twins (Rookie-level Elizabethton)
He wasn't a first-round pick in June, but he was the first pick right after it ended, going 31st overall and ending up just the sixth high school arm selected. He signed quickly for a $1.55 million bonus and he's looked nothing short of fantastic since taking the mound: 27 strikeouts and just seven hits allowed over 16 2/3 innings in the Gulf Coast League, adding four one-hit innings with five more whiffs on Saturday in his Appy League debut. Berrios is undersized at an even six feet tall, but he makes you forget about his size quickly with plus to plus-plus velocity coming out of one of those easy deliveries that makes it look like he's playing catch. He's flashed a good slider so far and has some feel for a changeup; the few pro scouts that have seen Berrios think the Twins may have really found something here.
Mark Cohoon, LHP, Mets (Double-A Binghamton)
Cohoon had the best pitching line of the week, when on Friday night he fired a complete game two-hitter against Harrisburg while walking one and striking out 10. But is he a prospect? It's a mixed bag. He has a solid 3.44 ERA and has walked just 25 batters in 120 1/3 innings, but at the same time, he turns 25 in a month and, even with the big strikeout game, he's punching out Eastern League hitters at a rate of barely over 5.1 per nine. He's really just a strike thrower with a changeup, as he rarely scrapes 90 mph with his fastball. While that won't land him (or shouldn't) on anyone's Mets prospect list, he's one of hundreds in the minors who just might be good enough at his craft to be an occasionally usable No. 5 starter. Of course, of those hundreds with the potential, few actually do it.
Christian Colon, SS?, Royals (Triple-A Omaha)
Since he plays in one of the most loaded systems in baseball, it's been easy to forget about Colon. A budget-minded fourth overall pick in 2010, Colon hit .257/.325/.342 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas last year, and that was enough to take him off of many radars. He was never drafted for his big tools or projection, as he was all about current skills, fundamentals, polish, and makeup. That's all still there, but while repeating the level, the 23-year-old hit .289/.364/.392, and with two hits on Saturday and four more on Sunday, he's 7-for-15 (.467) in his first four Pacific Coast League games. Now, the question is what to do with him. Obviously, he's not going to play shortstop in the big leagues, so he's battling his own middle infield teammate in Johnny Giavotella for the big league second baseman job. Which do you want, the guy who can really hit, like Giavotella, or the guy who is not nearly as good offensively, but is a far superior defensive player who can bunt, play mistake-free baseball and be the toughest guy to strike out on the team? It's really a personal preference in many ways, but Colon is definitely back on the map.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Rookie-level AZL Rangers)
A supplemental first-round pick who got easy first-round money with a $2.25 million bonus, Gallo has been the talk of the complex leagues this year, hitting .300/.448/.743 in 41 games that included his league record 17th home run of the season on Sunday night. Despite those crazy numbers, it's hard to say Gallo's stock is suddenly higher than it was the day he signed. He had the best raw power in the draft, so a ton of home runs isn't a surprise, nor is it indicative of anything, since the previous record holder was... Wladimir Balentien. There's still a lot of swing and miss in his game, and his ability to stay at third base is debatable. He's a guy with 80 power, a huge arm, and a great feel for the strike zone, and he's going to have to show it all the way up the ladder. That's a tremendous starting point in terms of skills and tools, and I'm a big fan, but just because he set a complex league record or has nearly a 1.200 OPS doesn't really change his projection much at all.
Robbie Grossman, OF, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
When the Astros acquired Grossman from Pittsburgh as part of the Wandy Rodriguez deal, his .266/.378/.406 line really didn't tell the whole story, as it was the result of a disturbing slow start, and the beginning of a white-hot run before the deal. That run has continued with the Astros, as with an 8-for-12 weekend that included two doubles, a triple and a home run, he's now hitting .358/.482/.537 in 17 Texas League games. His outstanding plate discipline has been well documented, but for the small majority of scouts who believe he can stay in center field, he's a dynamic player with the power for double-digit home runs and the speed for 20 stolen bases. Jordan Schafer has spent the 2012 season proving that he is not Houston's center fielder of the future. At some point in 2013, Grossman will get the chance to prove that he is.
Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds (Double-A Pensacola)
Hamilton had a good weekend, going 5-for-12 with a triple and three walks to lift his Double-A batting line to .288/.410/.405 in 31 games, but of course, that's not the story. The story was six more stolen bases to give him 35 at Double-A and 139 overall in 113 games. That's six shy of what is believed to be the minor league record of 145, set by Vince Coleman in 1983. He's also been getting gunned down quite a bit: he's gotten caught stealing in four straight games, giving him 10 at Double-A and 31 on the season. Of course, 31 times caught stealing seems like a ton, as it's more than a full game of caught stealing. However, he's still managing to be successful at an 82% clip. That's good when judged on the standard stolen base success scale, but it's amazing when you think about the fact that Hamilton is running every time. Every damn time. He knows it, the pitcher knows it, the catcher knows it, and anyone in the stands who has any idea who Hamilton is knows it. That makes his success percentage downright remarkable, and one has to wonder what it could be when his speed is used more judiciously.