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June 15, 2009

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk)
Arrieta was certainly dealing at Double-A, striking out 70 over 59 innings and limiting the Eastern League to a .208 batting average, but it was still surprising to see him bumped up to Triple-A. Not that he didn't deserve it-he did pitch six two-hit innings in his Norfolk debut-but it's surprising in what the move might say about his timetable. The Orioles have already looked at a lot of young arms this year at the big-league level, but they've stayed away from the premium guys like Chris Tillman. Now that he's joined in Triple-A by Arrieta, one wonders if they're simply lining up all of the pieces for a September look and a permanent installation in April 2010 as starters.

Jason Castro, C, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
The Astros' first-round pick from last last year made his own jump last week, moving up to Double-A after compiling a .309/.399/.517 line at High-A Lancaster. The hitting has continued in the Texas League, as Castro is 6-for-16 in his first four games for the Hooks. As good as his offense has been, it's his work behind the plate that has been earning raves from scouts; he gunned down nearly 60 percent of opposing basestealers at Lancaster. Catchers with real value both offensively and defensively are rare commodities, and Castro is looking more and more as if he'll be in the big leagues sometime next year.

Yohan Flande, LHP, Phillies (High-A Clearwater)
A 23-year-old Dominican who pitched in the Gulf Coast League last year, Flande is not a guy with a lot of hype behind him, but he's been nothing short of outstanding this year, firing a six-hit shutout on Sunday to lower his ERA to 2.45 over 12 starts. He's not a massive prospect, but a quick check with a scout shows that there's definitely something there, as his fringe/average fastball plays up due to location and movement, while his changeup is truly a plus offering. He's probably a reliever in the end, but after coming into the year without even being on anyone's radar, that's a massive upgrade.

Tyson Gillies, OF, Mariners (High-A High Desert)
A Canadian import who is legally deaf, Gillies is an absolute burner who the Mariners hoped would be able to take off with an assignment to the hitters' paradise of High Desert. He's beginning to work the count much better, and that's helping every aspect of his game. While his two home runs on Sunday aren't a good representation of his game, he is 12-for-19 in his last five games, batting .330/.440/.500 overall with nine triples and 16 stolen bases. We won't know just how real this is until he gets to Double-A, but it's definitely interesting.

Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento)
Gonzalez drives me nuts, and I have to wonder what effect he has on the Athletics themselves. It's just hard to find a more inconsistent pitcher in the game today. When he's on, he's outstanding, and when the command falters, he's horrible. In a three-start stretch during the middle of May, Gonzalez allowed 16 runs over 13 2/3 innings while walking 12, but since then, he's been nearly untouchable, giving up only one run in four outings while striking out 28 and giving up just nine hits in 25 innings. It's those kinds of performances that will get him back to the big leagues, but it's the showings in May that also might make Oakland hesitate, as they just don't know which version of the southpaw they'll be getting on any given night.

Devaris Gordon, SS, Dodgers (Single-A Great Lakes)
Coming out of a slump, Gordon had six hits over the weekend including a pair of triples, and he's now batting .289/.354/.387. That line may not be overly impressive, but at the same time it could also be the most impressive line in the league, as it's hard to find a more raw talent on the circuit. An outstanding athlete with a body and tool set that remind some of a young Jimmy Rollins, Gordon is incredibly unrefined but still producing, and those who feel he's just beginning to scratch the surface of his abilities also think that it's hard to find a player in the Midwest League with as much upside.

Bryce Harper, C, College of Southern Nevada
Think Stephen Strasburg got hyped? Meet Bryce Harper, the top prospect for the 2011 draft... oh wait, make that 2010. Over the weekend it was announced that Harper, who just finished his sophomore year at a Canyon Springs High School, is done with that whole prep thing and will begin working toward his GED with the intent of enrolling in junior college next fall. That will technically make him draft-eligible next year, but there will be a hearing on the gambit sometime soon. Without question, Harper is a legitimate mega-talent, despite the aggrandized and at times apocryphal stories of his baseball prowess. Another Scott Boras soap opera is sure to follow, but more importantly, Harper's certainly a player worth watching.

Buster Posey, C, Giants (High-A San Jose)
Posey just keeps hitting, and he's beginning to lean toward wasting his time in the Cal League barring a promotion to Double-A. He went 5-for-10 over the weekend with a pair of doubles, and is now batting .318/.416/.534 on the season, but it's his walk rate that might impress at first look, though it could also become a concern for his development. In 13 games this month, Posey has 39 at-bats and 13 walks, and it's not because he's suddenly turned into Wade Boggs, but because everyone is pitching around him in a weakened San Jose lineup. He needs the challenge of a higher level, where opposing teams will focus on getting him out.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Red Sox (Single-A Greenville)
Rizzo's recovery from cancer continues to be not only inspiring, but also impressive; he had two hits in each of his three weekend games, including his ninth home run on Sunday, and is now batting .340 in June and .286/.357/.476 overall. First-base prospects are difficult to evaluate, and one needs to be a true offensive force to profile well as a prospect, and though Rizzo isn't quite there yet, he is quite possibly on his way. He can certainly hit, but his attributes in the power and patience departments are merely average. Still, he's just 19, there's plenty of time, and you really do have to root for him.

Alex White, RHP, University of North Carolina
After saving his draft status with an outstanding start in the super regionals, White maintained the roll he's been on in the College World Series over the weekend, firing nine fantastic innings against a very good Arizona State team while allowing one run on seven hits and striking out 12. The 131 pitches may have drawn a few winces from Indians' officials in attendance, but maybe they took comfort in the fact that they plan to convert their first-round selection to a reliever, which, based on his arm action and repertoire, is arguably his most logical role. If he signs quickly, he could be a favorite to be the first non-Strasburg draftee to reach the big leagues.

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

Related Content:  Bryce Harper Slump

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

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DGBL

Surprisingly, Gillies has a slightly higher OPS away from High Desert.

Jun 15, 2009 10:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Yeah, it's fun trying to evaluate a NON power guy there.

Jun 15, 2009 10:50 AM
 
Matt Kory

Aaron Bates is hitting .400/.520/.750 in (just 20 ABs) in AAA Pawtucket after OPSing .920 in AA Portland. But, he's 25 years old already. What kind of prospect is he?

Jun 15, 2009 11:15 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Apologies if this question was misplaced. Possibly it should have been posted under your daily minor league update.

Jun 15, 2009 11:54 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bryan Smith
BP staff

I remember seeing Bates in Spring Training a few years ago when I visited Red Sox camp ... big dude. Can't imagine him catching at NC State. But I remember the talk then was that he was going to mash lefties always, and time would tell if he could make the adjustments vs RHPs. I see the opposite was true last year, so who knows. He was a third-round pick, though, so his age shouldn't imply the Red Sox don't like him.

Jun 15, 2009 13:11 PM
 
David Coonce

I was at Arrieta's start Friday in Indianapolis. (Beautiful minor-league park, BTW, and not a bad seat in the house. We were right behind home plate for 13 bucks a ticket). It was interesting to see the relatively large number of scouts there, I'm assuming for Arrieta - nobody else on either roster is much of a prospect.

Arrieta looked pretty great, sitting at 93-94 all game and touching 96. These are all scoreboard readings, so caveat emptor. He made one mistake, allowing a solo homer to Steven Pearce that just jumped out of the park, but was pretty dominating. Granted, the Indians lineup is pretty weak, mostly non-prospects and never-weres (the starting catcher Friday night was Adam Melhuse!), but for a guy making his AAA debut I was impressed. He was perfect through three and seemed to increase velocity from the second inning on.

Also - he was the only player to not have his name on his jersey. That's how recently he'd been called up.

Jun 15, 2009 12:07 PM
rating: 4
 
TGisriel

Also newsworthy for the Orioles top pitching prospects is that Brian Matusz, the Orioles' #1 pick in last year's draft, was promoted today to AA Bowie.

The top 3 Orioles pitching prospects are usually listed as Tillman, Arrieta (mentioned above, now in AAA) and Matusz.

It will be interesting to watch as the Orioles' rotation takes shape over the next few years. Three of the pitchers who started this year in the rotation are out of the rotation (Adam Eaton released, Mark Hendrickson moved to bullpen, Alfredo Simon injured). Two remain (Koji Uehara and Jermy Guthrie). Two have come up from AAA to join the rotation (Brad Bergesen, who has pitched the best (3.79 ERA 15.3 VORP) despite only 4.16 SO9, and Jason Berken, who has been inconsistent), and one who was acquired in the off-season joined the rotation off of the DL (Rich Hill, also inconsistent). One more pitcher (David Hernandez) came up from AAA to take Uehara's turn in the rotation during his stint on the DL and pitched well in 2 starts.

By this time next year Tillman, Arrieta and Matusz are likely to be in the rotation. Who will be joining them?

Jun 15, 2009 13:22 PM
rating: 2
 
mymrbig

Uehara, Hernadnez, Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta in 2010 would certainly be something for O's fans to dream about. Wonder if the O's would really take that approach (the Oakland A's approach) and throw them all in there at once?

Jun 15, 2009 13:33 PM
rating: 2
 
TheBigStapler

Would that really be something to dream about?

Jun 16, 2009 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
fireorlime

If you're an O's fan, yes! It's great to finally have a coherent organizational philosophy and direction. I'd rather see young guys out there with potential to be contributors on the next contending O's team, rather than overrated and overpaid veteran retreads.

Jun 17, 2009 07:17 AM
rating: 0
 
bwebb23

Kevin,

What is Thomas Neal going to have to do to get a spot in the Ten Pack? 21 year old in the Cal league batting 343/425/614 for the year. Thoughts on his prospect status?

Jun 15, 2009 14:29 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He's on the radar -- he's get a mention here or in a minor league update soon.

Jun 15, 2009 15:11 PM
 
mwashuc06

So much for Castro being an overdraft at 10 last year. Right now he's looking like a potential gold glover and possible All Star.

Jun 15, 2009 14:44 PM
rating: 0
 
Schlom

Isn't the fact that Harper is trying to be eligible for the draft in 2010 instead of 2011 a sign that Boras thinks there is going to be some sort of mandatory rookie contract for draft slot (like the NBA) or some kind of hard rookie salary cap? Why else would he try to come out earlier? It's not like playing in high school an extra year is going to hurt him -- he's going to be the first pick in 2011 pretty much no matter what. However, competing against junior college players could potentially hurt him as it could expose him against better players.

Jun 15, 2009 14:49 PM
rating: 0
 
G. Guest

I think it's pretty simple: Money now is worth more than money later.

Jun 15, 2009 15:14 PM
rating: 0
 
oldjacket

Discount rate FTW.

Jun 16, 2009 09:24 AM
rating: 0
 
gjgross

"It's just hard to find a more inconsistent pitcher in the game today. When he's on, he's outstanding, and when the command falters, he's horrible"

Sounds like Oliver Perez to me. The A's should try to see what Omar Minaya would give up for him.

Jun 15, 2009 17:01 PM
rating: 1
 
Nater1177

Here's the thing with Boras and 'money now is worth more than money later'. If he really believed this how can you let someone like Varitek and Drew sit out a year after the draft? Doesn't that set back their big free agency contract at LEAST one year by lagging their development? Shouldn't getting signed a week after the draft and leaving a few dollars on the table with the chance to get into the system and hitting FA at a younger age be the goal? In most cases we're talking less then a 500K probably (and yes I realize thats still a big number to most of us). But half a million versus an extra year at 10 million? What if Varitek instead of being a FA last year after his corpse batted barely .200 had been a Free Agent the year before?

Jun 16, 2009 07:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

My guess is Boras isn't concerned with the player's free agent time clock. He's concerned with their first contract and he wants to maximize it because 1) it's his job to get the most for his client as possible, and 2) the larger the contract for the player the more money he (Boras) makes. So, if Boras can get a substantially larger deal by sitting out a year he's willing to do it. Also, as a negotiating ploy it only works when you follow through on your threat, which teams (now) know he will.

Jun 16, 2009 09:01 AM
rating: 1
 
eighteen

Also, odds of even making it to the majors are too low to make a FA signing 6-8 years down the road any kind of consideration.

Jun 16, 2009 11:03 AM
rating: 1
 
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