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May 22, 2006

Future Shock

Monday Morning Ten-Pack, 5/22/06

by Kevin Goldstein

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Nick Adenhart, RHP, Low Class A Cedar Rapids (Angels)

Angels scouting director Eddie Bane ... super-genius! Adenhart was one of the top high school pitchers going into the 2004 draft season, but he needed Tommy John surgery before the draft and teams stayed away from him, assuming he'd go to college and work his way back. Not Bane, who took him in the 14th round and signed him for $710,000, somewhere between one half and one third of what he would have cost if healthy. Instead of playing for a college program more focused on winning than managing his long-term career, Adenhart had the Angels manage his rehabilitation. Adenhart looked good in 50 innings last year, and this season, he's been nothing short of phenomenal, going 7-0, 1.56 in nine starts for the Kernels with a 60-12 K-BB ratio in 57.2 innings, including seven innings of four-hit ball on Friday while touching 95 mph with his fastball. The Angels already have a very good track record in the draft as of late, and now they're rewarded for thinking outside the box.

B.J. Garbe, OF, retired

With two weeks to go before the 2006 draft, a recent bust hung them up over the weekend. In 1999, Garbe was the fifth overall pick in the draft from a Washington high school that also featured Jason Cooper and Ryan Doumit. A five-tool athlete who some considered a better all-around player than No. 1 overall pick Josh Hamilton (speaking of busts), Garbe hit .316/.391/.415 in his pro debut for Elizabethton in the Appy League. In his first full-season, he hit just .233/.333/.303 in the Midwest League and never recovered. He was strangely bad, as he never struck out more than 91 times in a season, and he walked at a decent rate. He just never made hard contact. The Twins gave up on him in 2004, the Mariners did the same in the last offseason, and after batting .184 in 35 games for Double-A Carolina (Marlins) this year, Garbe decided he was done. It happens.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, High Class A Lancaster (Diamondbacks)

While it's ridiculous to say Gonzalez has been a disappointment this year, he certainly hasn't had the crazy breakout that some, including yours truly, predicted. That explosion may have started this weekend, as Gonzalez went 6-for-12 in a three-game sweep of San Jose, adding a double, two home runs, six runs scored and six RBI. At .294/.364/.523, Gonzalez is now 10th in the league in OPS, and all leading indicators are way up.

Charlton Jimerson, OF, Triple-A Round Rock (Astros)

It's nearly impossible not to root for Jimerson. Growing up in California, Jimerson was raised in a single-parent household, and that single parent was a drug-addicted mother. He excelled both athletically and academically, and after not signing with the Astros after being selected in the 24th round of the 1997 draft, he decided to attend Miami on an academic scholarship. But he didn't give up on baseball, making the team as a walk-on. After three years as a bench player, Jimerson finally got his shot as a senior due to an injury and went on to win MVP honors in the 2001 College World Series--and the Astros took him again, this time in the fifth round. Jimerson is one of the most exciting players in the game, combining power with speed, along with a fantastic glove and plus arm in center. The only problem: he rarely puts a bat on the ball, entering the year with a strikeout for every 2.8 at-bats. He now leads the minors in strikeouts this season with 67, including seven more over the weekend. The good news is that he's batting .291, and 24 of his 50 hits have gone for extra bases (.529 SLG). Hey, they gave Reggie Abercrombie a shot, and he's not Lifetime movie-of-the-week worthy.

Troy Patton, LHP, High Class A Salem (Astros)

Patton entered the year as the top prospect in the Houston system with a career ERA of 2.13 in 148 innings with 164 strikeouts. He got off to a slow start this year, but has found a groove, striking out a season-high 10 batters on May 12, and then delivering his best start of the year on Friday against Potomac, firing six no-hit innings while striking out seven. Despite the mediocre 3.92 ERA, Patton has 46 strikeouts in 39 innings while limiting opposing batters to a .233 average, and missed bats are usually a much better indication of future success than runs allowed.

Mike Pelfrey, RHP, Mets

With Alay Soler getting promoted this weekend to the big leagues, I got a few emails asking me what's wrong with 2005 first-round pick Mike Pelfrey, who lasted just 2/3 of an inning on Saturday night while allowing five runners to reach base, including three walks. Despite the fact that Eastern League hitters are batting .356 against the 6-foot-7 righty, nothing is technically wrong with Pelfrey, and this is actually a pretty common pattern for prospects:

  1. Pitcher dominates lower level with plus-plus fastball
  2. pitcher gets a little too fastball happy
  3. pitcher gets hit hard when he moves up
  4. pitcher begins to nibble and walk batters.
The next step in this pattern is 'pitcher makes adjustments,' and with Pelfrey, that should happen. Calm down Mets fans: everything will be fine.

Prairie View A&M

Two months ago, I clued you in to the goings on at Prairie View, a small, historically Black College in Texas that features a lineup filled with multiple leadoff men who live on the walk and stolen base. Well, it all worked out in the end, as over the weekend the Jaguars went a perfect 4-0 in the SWAC tournament to earn their first-ever conference title and first-ever NCAA tournament bid. While scoring 39 runs in the quartet of victories, the team focused on what they do best, drawing 30 walks and stealing 15 bases, proving that sometimes the more entertaining brand of baseball can also be the more successful one. Much like the NCAA basketball tournament, the Jaguars are an automatic bid from a weak conference who will be matched up against a national powerhouse, but I can't think of any underdog who deserves more support.

Tony Roth, 1B/P, Low A Charleston (Yankees)

As a 23-year-old undrafted player batting .208/.375/.208 in the Sally League, Roth is an unlikely candidate for the ten-pack, but on Saturday he had quite a game. Roth entered the contest against Rome in the ninth inning as a pinch runner, and was promptly caught stealing to force extra innings in a 6-6 game. Both bullpens put up zeroes for a long time, assisted in part by a gusty wind coming in from center field, and by the 17th frame, Riverdogs manager Bill Mosiello was out of arms. So Roth, who hadn't taken the mound since high school, got the call. Facing the heart of the Braves order, Roth delivered a perfect inning, and when Charleston failed to score in the bottom half of the 17th, Roth did it again, mowing down all three batters he faced in the 18th, ending the frame with a strikeout of Jordan Schafer. In the bottom half, Roth took matters into his own hands, leading things off with a single up the middle. He eventually scored the game-winning run on a bases-loaded walk in a game that took only 5:42 to get in the books.

Max Scherzer, RHP, University of Missouri

Projecting the top of the draft is becoming the equivalent of working on a jigsaw puzzle where one has only a small area to fill, but far too many pieces to fill it. Every weekend it seems that somebody throws a wrench into the mix, and this weekend it was Scherzer. The righty entered the year as one of the top power arms in the draft, but he missed significant time with biceps tendonitis, and while he's pitched well over the past few weeks, he's done it in very small spurts under a significantly limited pitch count. Finally set loose on Friday, Scherzer delivered seven dominant innings--allowing one run on four hits and striking out eight against Texas, one of the top teams in the nation. He'll get two more starts before the draft to add to the confusion.

Donald Veal, LHP, Low Class A Peoria (Cubs)

On Saturday against Beloit, Veal delivered his best start as a professional, striking out 10 over six one-hit innings while walking just one. It was the third start of the year (out of nine) in which Veal has allowed just one hit, and he's now punched out 59 in 47 innings while allowing just 28 hits. He's big (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), he has power stuff, and despite some hiccups with his control (30 walks), I think he's one of the most underrated southpaws in the game.

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

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