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May 30, 2006

Future Shock

Tuesday Morning Ten-Pack, 5/30/06

by Kevin Goldstein

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A long weekend--let's bump this thing to twelve.

Jose Arredondo, rhp, High Class A Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)

Three weeks ago I called him "interesting", and that now seems like I undersold him. Pulled after two innings in his previous start because Quakes manager Bobby Mitchell thought Arredondo lost focus, Arredondo went out on Friday and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, finishing the night with eight one-hit innings and nine strikeouts and lowering his ERA to 2.28 in 47.1 innings with 68 whiffs--impressive numbers (especially in the California League) for a converted shortstop who began the year with less then 100 innings of professional experience. The 22-year Dominican get push his fastball into the upper 90s despite his smallish frame, so he's not doing this with smoke and mirrors. I guess he just needs to focus more.

Jeff Baisley, 3b, Low Class A Kane County (Athletics)

A 12th-round pick out of South Florida last June, Baisley was considered a safe senior sign last June as an experienced college hitter with good size and an excellent approach. He gave Oakland their first indication that he might be more than just an organizational player when he earned MVP honors in the instructional league, and that success has carried into the regular season. In his last six games for the Cougars, Baisley is 12-for-24 with two doubles, three home runs, 10 runs scored and 15 RBI, and is now batting .316/.404/.575 on the season while leading the Midwest League in those pesky counting stats (runs and RBI) that are partially team-dependent. At 23, he's far older than most of his league brethren, and because the next step is Stockton in the California League (where he should be shortly), we really won't have a good bearing on him until he reaches Double-A. The fact that we at least don't know how good he is puts him well ahead of most 12th-round picks.

Pedro Beato, rhp, St. Petersburg Junior College

It's interesting that the draft's first surprise happens a week before teams actually start picking. The Mets selected Beato in the 17th round last year, and he seemed like a perfect draft-and-follow candidate. A native of the Dominican Republic going to high school in Brooklyn, Beato underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring of 2004, so he was anything but 100% prior to last June's draft, and to like him was to like his projection. That projection showed up this spring as Beato began the year sitting in the low 90s, touching 95 mph, and flashing a plus curveball. With the Mets having no first-round pick this year, Beato was expected to be a lock to sign, despite his seven-figure demands, yet last midnight's deadline came and went without a deal. So now we have a mid-first-round talent back in the draft, but because he was under the Mets' control until late last night, few crosschecker/scouting director types gave their team a second opinion on Beato. Additionally, nobody has been allowed to talk to him or his advisor to get a sense of makeup and/or price tag.

Trevor Crowe, of, High Class A Kinston (Indians)

Crowe was the 14th overall pick in last year's draft after an All-America season in the University of Arizona, but he struggled to a .258/.327/.326 line in his pro debut while dealing with a series of minor injuries and an aggressive assignment to full-season Lake County. Pushed to the High Class A Carolina League for his full-season debut, Crowe has been a revelation thus far, batting .309/.422/.449 in 48 games with 21 stolen bases. Despite the fact that he bats third in the K-Tribe lineup, Crowe projects as a leadoff man, and the biggest knock against him when it came to hitting at the top of the order in the majors was his over-aggressiveness at the plate. With 36 walks in 178 at-bats, those concerns are falling by the wayside, and by the end of the year, Crowe could be pushing for honors as the top positional prospect in the Cleveland system.

Matt Kemp, of, Dodgers

Last year he was in the Florida State League, and after batting .327/.402/.528 in 48 games at Double-A Jacksonville, Kemp reached the majors this weekend as the Dodgers have once again been depleted by injuries. Starting in center field, Kemp went 1-for-4 with three whiffs in his big league debut, but was one of the team's stars on Monday, scoring three runs and driving in a pair. When asked about starting four rookies on Saturday, Dodgers manager Grady Little told the AP, "I've been married 35 years, of course I've had to do things I'm uncomfortable with." I hear you Grady, and I only made it 1/10th of that length.

Howie Kendrick, 2b, Triple-A Salt Lake (Angels)

In the last five days, Kendrick has a 5-for-5 game and a 4-for-4 game, and is now batting .381/.414/.579 in 30 games for the Bees. See how easy it is when you get a guy consistent at-bats and don't suddenly put him at positions he's never played at?

Edwin Jackson, rhp, Triple-A Durham (Devil Rays)

Jackson has been one of the biggest enigmas around for the last two years. He rocketed through the Dodger system and beat Randy Johnson in his big league debut on his 20th birthday. Jackson then stalled and flopped soon after, though his stuff really didn't see any radical drop, leaving his ineffectiveness a bit of a mystery. Jettisoned to Tampa Bay in the Danys Baez deal this January, Jackson was still a mess with the Bulls, putting up a 6.10 ERA in nine starts. This week, the team moved him to the bullpen, and he pitched a perfect inning on Sunday with his fastball sitting at 94-96 mph and his slider consistently reaching the upper 80s. The stuff is there, and maybe it will work better in short stints.

Micah Owings, rhp, Double-A Tennessee (Diamondbacks)

College baseball is filled with two-way performers, and Owings was one of the best last year at Tulane, where he was the Green Wave's top pitcher and led the team in home runs. Unlike 2002 Pittsburgh first-round pick John Van Benschoten, scouts were universal in their preference for Owings' power arm over his power bat, but that doesn't mean the kid can't hit. The Diamondbacks have been very aggressive with Owings after selecting him in the third round last year, beginning his career in the California League and now getting his first full season in Double-A. He's pitched very well for the Smokies, with a 3.52 ERA in 61.1 innings and 58 strikeouts, and the good news is that when the game is in the home park of a National League affiliate, Owings gets to swing the bat. On Sunday, Owings went seven innings against Carolina, allowing just one run on three hits, while also smacking his first home run of the year in a 4-1 victory. Owings is now 5-for-17 with two doubles, the home run and seven RBI on the season. Think Brooks Kieschnick with more ability both on the mound and at the plate.

Humberto Sanchez, rhp, Double-A Erie (Tigers)

So have you seen this Tigers kid? The big righthander who throws hard? Nope, not Justin Verlander or Joel Zumaya, but the 6-foot-6, 230+ pound Sanchez. Like Beato, Sanchez is a Dominican native who pitched high school ball in New York, but unlike Beato, Sanchez actually signed as a draft-and-follow prior to the 2002 draft. He entered the season with a career ERA of 4.73, but he began to harness his power stuff with a fantastic showing in the Arizona Fall League, and he's built on that this year, with a 1.84 ERA in 10 starts and 77 strikeouts in 63.2 innings. He's only getting better, with one earned run allowed in his last three starts while giving up 10 hits in 20.2 innings, and could give the Tigers another arm down the stretch.

Max Scherzer, rhp, University of Missouri

Talk about making a late run. After dominating Texas last week in his first real start in quite some time, Scherzer took it up a notch on Friday in the Big 12 tournament, throwing a seven-inning complete game against Oklahoma--allowing four hits, striking out five and requiring just 82 pitches. The good news is that Missouri slid into the NCAA Tournament, and Scherzer will give those on the west coast one more look when he pitches at the Malibu, California regional later this week. Nobody's stock is rising quicker, though the Boras factor is definitely providing some resistant force.

Triple-A Syracuse SkyChiefs (Blue Jays)

On Friday night, Syracuse blew out Norfolk 17-3. Not a huge eye-opener, but a pretty nice total. Then, upon closer inspection, one realizes that the game lasted just five innings because of rain, and because it was a home game, the team only came to bat four times. As a team, the SkyChiefs went 20-for-31 at the plate with six doubles and a pair of home runs as eight of nine starters had multi-hit games despite using up just 12 outs combined.

Jered Weaver, rhp, Angels

Almost exactly one year after ending his nearly year-long holdout and signing with the Angels, Weaver made his major league debut on Saturday, and he was nothing short of fantastic, allowing three hits over seven shutout innings in a 10-1 win over the Orioles. By Sunday, my inbox had a good share of emails from Angels fans and Weaver supporters with an "In your face Flanders!" tone, as I've often professed the belief that Weaver is really pretty much his brother, a very solid, very valuable No. 3 or 4 starter who can eat a lot of innings and keep a team in the ballgame. I could be wrong about Weaver, and it certainly wouldn't be my first miss, but for those who think Weaver's first shot over the bow is some sort of instant proof of greatness, I point you to the major league debut of his brother.

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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