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June 1, 2009

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Dustin Ackley, 1B/OF, University of North Carolina
This draft has been very slow to see much separation between the best of the non-Strasburg talent, but Ackley has slowly put himself on the top of the college hitting class. If anything, he put an exclamation point on that crown with a huge weekend in the Tar Heel's sweep in their regional, going 10-for-14 with three doubles and a home run. Now batting .417/.520/.781 in 61 games with 72 runs, 66 RBI, and 49 walks, it's making more sense than ever to see him getting taken with the second overall pick in the draft by Seattle.

Jeremy Barfield, OF, Athletics (Single-A Kane County)
It's strange to see Barfield step up to bat. Physically, he's very different from his brother Josh, being five inches taller and 50 pounds heavier, and thus striking a much more imposing figure at the plate. An eighth-round pick last year out of a Texas junior college, Barfield came into the year with a reputation of being toolsy yet raw, but those tools are really beginning to click, as he went 9-for-13 over the weekend to raise his season line to an impressive .343/.403/.528. He's not your classic A's prospect, but he's damn interesting.

Gordon Beckham, 3B/SS, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
Just when you think you have it all figured out and Beckham moves up to Triple-A and starts playing third base every day, he goes back to shortstop on Sunday. The organization's plans for the 2008 first-round pick remain open to speculation, but at least Beckham continues to do his part by remaining an offensive force, going 7-for-15 with a pair of doubles in his first four International League games. It's hard to figure just when he's going to be in the big leagues, but with each passing day it seems the answer's more on the side of sooner rather than later.

James Darnell, 3B, Padres (Single-A Fort Wayne)
Last year's second-round pick started the year hot, cooled off a bit, and now he's steaming again, having about as good a weekend as one can have by going 9-for-11 with three doubles, a triple, a home run, and three walks. Now batting exactly .300 with precisely a .500 slugging percentage, the one skill that puts Darnell over the top is plate discipline, as his 46 walks in just 160 at-bats ties him for the overall minor league lead and puts his on-base percentage at a robust .457 mark. While that might look like the numbers of a one-dimensional bat-only type, Darnell is actually an excellent athlete with a lot of upside, but at the same time, he doesn't really belong in the Midwest League, so it's hard to figure out just how good he is.

Mat Latos, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
The top prospect in the Padres system missed the first month of the year with an ankle issue, and then needed just four starts to prove that a return to A-ball was not needed. What was surprising then was a two-level promotion to the Texas League, but the far more advanced hitters have done nothing to slow Latos down, as he delivered his best start of the year on Friday, allowing just one hit over seven shutout innings against Springfield while walking two and striking out seven. When you balance velocity, movement, and location to make a judgment on him, Latos has the best fastball in the system, and he's made big strides forward with his slider. His timetable seems to be accelerating quickly.

Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State
Another game meant another dominating performance from Leake, who one day after being named the Pac-10 pitcher of the year for the second straight year began his postseason by tying his season high with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game five-hitter against Oral Roberts. In a non-Strasburg year, Leake's numbers would really stand out, as his ERA sits at a lowly 1.23 (0.09 better than Mr. Strasburg) while he's allowed just 71 hits over 124 2/3 innings while striking out 143 with 20 walks. He's not a huge guy with a ton of projection, but he's hardly a soft-tosser, and while he's not Mr. Helium or anything draft-wise, he's one of those players where it seems as if every week he's up one or two slots, and he could end up going in the first 15 picks next week.

Austin Romine, C, Yankees (High-A Tampa)
While Jesus Montero continued his monster season over the weekend by going 7-for-12 with a home run to raise his averages to .355/.404/.593, his partner in crime at Tampa is having another solid season. Once again sharing catching duties (with Montero DHing when he's not behind the plate), Romine went 5-for-12 with a pair of doubles and a home run during the weekend, and while his .289/.306/.462 line pales in comparison to Montero, it's still very good for a 20-year-old in the Florida State League. More importantly, Romine (unlike Montero) actually projects to stay at catcher down the road, and be a damn good one in the end. Montero has a far better chance of turning into a star, but Romine is the guy who should be considered the Yankees' catcher of the future.

Travis Schlichting, RHP, Dodgers
It's quite possible that Schlichting is just up for 48 hours or so, getting the big call over the weekend and possibly going back down when Hiroki Kuroda returns to the roster to pitch against Arizona. Still, it's a remarkable story that he's even here; a high school teammate of John Danks, Schlicting was a fourth-round pick by the Devil Rays in 2003 as a third baseman, but he just didn't hit enough and ended up moving on to the Angels, who briefly tried to convert him to the mound before releasing him. He pitched in the indie leagues in 2007 with a 5.29 ERA, but Dodgers scouts saw something in his sinker/slider combination to warrant another shot, and he's done nothing but improve since, limiting Double-A hitters to just seven hits in 13 2/3 innings while getting up to 95 mph with his fastball. He might not get into a game this time around, but chances are he'll be back.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State
And so, in the end, Strasburg proved to be mortal, giving up a home run in the first inning, another run in the second due to some sloppy play, and taking his first loss of the season despite striking out 15 in San Diego State's first post-season game in 18 years, and in what ultimately turned out to be the last game of his college career. His final numbers are of course ridiculous, with 195 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 109 innings, and in some ways we're almost sad it's over after tracking every Friday start. A much more prosperous adventure should begin in the next two months.

Angel Villalona, 1B, Giants (High-A San Jose)
While what had been one of the best single-team collections of prospects in recent memory has been broken up for some time, that doesn't mean that San Jose still isn't giving us a box score worth checking out every night. That's because, beyond catcher Buster Posey, 18-year-old first baseman Angel Villalona is still there, and he's still raking. With a 7-for-14 weekend that included two doubles and a home run, Villalona is now hitting .308/.342/.470 in 47 Cal League games, and while he may have been passed by Jesus Montero in the debate over teenage Latin American sluggers, it's certainly not through any fault of his own.

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

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

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dianagram

Hunter Scantling (Florida State) may be the largest age-19 baseball player I've ever seen. He's listed as 6'8" 260, but he looked closer to 280-290 during his PH appearance in last night's 37-6 blowout of Ohio State.

So KG, any recollection of any "large" prospects (Walter Young perhaps)?

Jun 01, 2009 11:31 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Hunter

Scantling is huge, I can't imagine standing in the batter's box against him. His dad played for the Dallas Cowboys.

Jun 01, 2009 11:37 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Seriously, at some point, I gotta do something on the gigantors, because I always love them. My new favorite is Calvin Anderson in the Pirates system (Low-A, 12th round last year). 6-7, 250 or so. Pirates post-game host Rocco DeMaro has dubbed him, "The Creature."

Jun 01, 2009 19:12 PM
 
Matt Hunter

I know he is just a college freshman but Hunter has him easy.

Jun 01, 2009 20:39 PM
rating: 0
 
sdfdranger
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

about Strasburg...

First, I think Strasburg will play with the National's THIS YEAR, as their much needed CLOSER! What a great way to give him some experience and still limit his innings.

Second, The National have just as much leverage as boras or more, because if Strasburg doesn't sign, what's he going to do... go back to college or an independant league and risk injury? Don't think so! Not to mention, that boras likes to get his clients to free agency as soon as possible and if he doesn't sign, he will have wasted a year. All the big money talk is a smokescreen. Strasburg will sign by the August 15th deadline and will be in the majors by September first as the new Nationals CLOSER!!!

Jun 01, 2009 11:31 AM
rating: -19
 
Evan
(47)

Keep in mind that he probably won't sign until the deadline, so then the Nats would only have 6 weeks or so to get him on the field.

And what would be the point? The Nats suck, and then winning more games at the end of the season only weakens their position in next year's draft. Even if Strasburg is ready right now, I think Washington would be better served by not starting his service clock until mid-2010.

Jun 01, 2009 16:48 PM
rating: 1
 
Aaron/YYZ

Kevin, I saw that Antonio Bastardo was called up recently but information on him in the archives is sparse. What's his profile/upside?

Jun 01, 2009 11:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I like him, don't love him. Solid avg-to-plus FB, good changeup, ok slider, throws strikes, bigtime battler. Massive upside? no. Solid rotation piece? could be.

Jun 01, 2009 19:08 PM
 
Charles Kurz

Kevin, what do you think of Chris Heisley's performance in AA so far? He's a 24 year old, but is hitting to a line of .378/.458/.616 with 8 homers and 10 stolen bases for the Mudcats. With the Reds trotting the likes of Chris Dickerson and Lance Nix out in the outfield regularly, do you think Heisley could be primed for a call up at some point in the near future?

Jun 01, 2009 12:12 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I think you'll see a guy like Stubbs first.

Jun 01, 2009 19:11 PM
 
Sal T

Kevin I see where Jose Canusi is really tearing up the Northwest Ponce Industrial League. I know you do these updates everyday in addition to Monday Ten Pack and BP idol not to mention the occaisional chat but you haven't mentioned my guy yet. I know you can take time out to at least give me a personal response about my favorite player. And don't tell me the GM of his parent club doesn't have you in the loop on his timetable for being called up. You know; you're just not sayin.

Jun 01, 2009 12:47 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I love you Sal.

Jun 01, 2009 19:07 PM
 
Drew Miller

Are the Yankees already planning to move Montero off catcher? If so, is he playable in an outfield corner?

I ask because he is major trade bait if he can't play catcher or OF, because the incumbents at 1B and 3B aren't going anywhere.

Jun 01, 2009 15:55 PM
rating: 0
 
JoshC77

He could always DH..nothing inherently wrong with that..

Jun 02, 2009 04:45 AM
rating: 0
 
Rob_in_CT

If he can get his defense to the point where he's bad but not unplayably so (dunno how to define that, though), maybe he could be primary DH + backup C. His starts behind the plate could be (mostly) planned for games against teams that don't run well.

Jun 02, 2009 05:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Swingingbunts

So Beckham seems to be getting closer to The Show. When he does finally arrive, assuming he gets regular playing time, what can we expect from him?

Jun 02, 2009 05:52 AM
rating: 0
 
m12981

Kevin,
There seems to be a lot of buzz in the Philly Papers that Bastardo's Slider has improved significantly early this year. Have you heard anything to this end, or is the scouting report on Bastardo now basically the same as it was coming into the year?

Jun 02, 2009 11:38 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

You know, if I were the Nationals, I might just consider stashing Strasburg in the minors for a year then trading him for a bunch of blue-chip prospects. Think of the alternative... can the Nationals turn around their major and minor league franchises by the time Strasburg is a free agent? What if he gets injured as a minor (or major) leaguer? Even if Strasburg ends up being a Hall of Fame pitcher, he alone would not turn the Nationals franchise around. Why not get as many prospects as they can to rebuild their farm system with?

Jun 02, 2009 22:59 PM
rating: 0
 
vtadave

And what franchise could afford to deal a "bunch" of blue-chippers for a pitcher that may turn into Roger Clemens...or Mark Prior?

Would the Rangers deal Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak, and Marin Perez for "just" Strasburg? Doubtful...

Jun 03, 2009 08:55 AM
rating: 0
 
dantroy

Tommy Hanson gets the call after Glavine's release. I understand he may start on Saturday.

Jun 03, 2009 15:46 PM
rating: 0
 
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Premium Article Player Profile: Jimmy ... (06/01)
<< Previous Column
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