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April 14, 2008

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Aaron Crow, rhp...ah heck, the whole University of Missouri Tigers

Crow's scoreless inning streak came to an abrupt end on Friday night in a game against Texas, as the Longhorns put up five in the first and three in the second to take an 8-0 lead. The Missouri ace would pitch three more innings...and somehow leave the game with a 10-run lead, as the Tigers took advantage of wild Midwest weather and a 30-40 mph wind to dead center to top the Longhorns 31-12. On a scouting level it doesn't really tell us anything, as conditions made it very hard to make any snap judgments on anyone, but it sure is a fun box score to look at, especially given senior outfielder Jacob Priday's 5-for-5, six-run, four-homer--I'm told three were actually legit--nine-RBI night.

Brandon Erbe, rhp, High-A Frederick (Orioles)

Erbe entered 2007 as one of the top young pitching prospects in the game, but his command completely abandoned him. Sixty-two walks, 10 hit batsmen and 12 wild pitches in 119.1 innings later, he finished the year with a 6.26 ERA. The Orioles, understandably, have him repeating the year at High-A Frederick, and because he was just 17 when drafted, he's still ahead of the curve, as he'll be 20 years old throughout the year. The good news is, while his stuff has always been ahead of the curve, so far this year his command is as well. Friday night he struck out eight over 6.1 innings, while giving up three hits without walking a batter, after pitching five shutout innings in his first start of the season with just one walk. The breakout potential is huge here.

Josh Fields, 3b, Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox)

When Joe Crede went down with an injury last year, Fields more than held his own in the big leagues, slugging .480 with 23 home runs in 373 at-bats. Crede is back and off to a great start in the big leagues, so Fields is forced to bide his time in the minors once again. Over the weekend, he continued to prove that he's a big-league capable hitter, going 8-for-12 with two doubles and a home run to place his averages after nine games at a healthy .353/.450/.529. Crede is a free agent at the end of the year, so either he or Fields is likely to be traded this summer, depending on how the standings look at the time.

Steve Garrison, lhp, Double-A San Antonio (Padres)

Garrison became a Padre in last year's Scott Linebrink deal, coming from the Brewers along with Will Inman and Joe Thatcher. He just missed making the Padres Top 11, mostly because he's very much a left-handed version of Inman--his stuff is uninspiring, but his command and feel for his craft lets his stuff play up. It was certainly playing up on Saturday night, as Garrison fired seven no-hit innings at Northwest Arkansas, walking two and striking out five. Still, this is one of those pitchers with precious little room for error, and for every one of them who turns into Jamie Moyer, there are 100 who turn out like Jeremy Sowers.

Grant Green, ss, University of Southern California

It's never too late to start thinking about the 2009 draft, so let's introduce the readers to Green. When he was a high school star in 2006, teams loved his projection, but shied away from his price, wanting to see if he'd fill out his long, lanky frame before making a big money commitment. The Padres took a flyer on him in the 14th round, but never really got close to signing him. Now, he's lined up to be the best college infielder on next year's board. The Trojans scored 41 runs over the weekend against Cal, and Green was in the middle of that outburst, going 2-for-3 with a home run, two walks, three runs and three RBIs on Friday; 4-for-4 with a triple and two runs on Saturday; and 3-for-5 with a home runs and two stolen bases on Sunday. At .397/.438/.621, Green leads his team in all three triple-slash categories, and it's most definitely looking like he's worth the money that he was looking for two years ago.

Buster Posey, c, Florida State

College baseball does something interesting that you never see in the pros--the preemptive rainout. Anticipating poor weather on Sunday, the Seminoles played a doubleheader on Friday with Boston College, then one game on Saturday, and teams sending eyeballs to look at Posey got to see the best college catcher in this year's draft continue to impress with a 6-for-10 weekend that included three doubles, a home run and four walks. Posey's numbers now stand at a ridiculous .469/.571/.862, including 15 doubles, 10 home runs and 29 walks in just 130 at-bats. Throw in outstanding athleticism and a 70 (on the 20-to-80 scouting scale) arm and he's becoming a sure-fire single digit selection in June.

Joe Savery, lhp, High-A Clearwater (Phillies)

On a prospect level, it was the pitching matchup of the day on Sunday, as Lakeland and super-stud Rick Porcello paid a visit to Clearwater, who countered with their 2007 own first-round pick in Savery. While Porcello pitched well again, and got hurt once more by bad defense and occasional control lapses, Savery stole the show with eight shutout innings that included four strikeouts and 14 ground balls. After three starts, Savery has given up just two runs over 20 innings while limiting batters to a .217 average. While Carlos Carrasco is off to a fine start at Double-A, Savery's left-handedness and groundball tendencies just might have him looking like the better prospect by the end of the season.

Max Scherzer, rhp, Triple-A Tucson (Diamondbacks)

After an outstanding showing in the Arizona Fall League last year as a reliever, more people than ever were convinced that Scherzer's big-league future was more likely to come as a bullpen ace then as a member of the rotation. For now, he's still starting, and so far, he's doing his damndest to prove everyone wrong. Saturday night, he whiffed 11 over seven innings while allowing just one earned run, giving him season totals of five hits allowed, two walks and 18 strikeouts over 12 innings. More importantly, he's showing the kind of stuff he's only shown in short stints before, consistently getting into the mid-90s with his fastball. He could be lining himself up as a valuable part of Arizona's playoff push in the second half of the season.

Drew Stubbs, of, High-A Sarasota (Reds)

Last year, Stubbs made some late-season adjustments to his swing and finished strong in an otherwise mediocre full-season debut, closing at .270/.364/.421 in the Low-A Midwest League as a 22-year-old. Always carrying the reputation of a huge toolbox to go along with a huge contact problem, evaluators wanted to see more than just a month of hotness before buying into it. Eleven games into the season, and it's so far, so good--mostly. Stubbs had a trio of multi-hit games over the weekend, going 8-for-12 to lift his averages to .375/.457/.450, but is it true progress? He's still whiffed in every game but one, for a total of 12 in 40 at-bats. That's a .536 average when Stubbs makes contact, and that's a rate that is simply not sustainable on any level. Hot start, but the jury is still out.

Brandon Wood, ss, Triple-A Salt Lake (Angels)

Speaking of contact problems...Wood went deep on Friday and hit two more on Saturday, and the Portland coaching staff made the understandable decision to pitch around him yesterday, walking him three times. Wood is hardly a walk machine, as he entered Sunday's game with just one walk in ten contests, but he's certainly becoming an all-or-nothing machine this year, currently leading the minor leagues in home runs with six, and strikeouts with 19--meaning that he has done one or the other in 53 percent of his at-bats. As with Stubbs, whether or not this is progress is still a matter of debate.

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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