July 20, 2009
Monday Ten Pack
Drew Carpenter, RHP, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley)
Carpenter pitched seven innings of three-hit ball on Sunday, and that's really nothing new, as it was his ninth quality start in his last 11. He's hardly a stud prospect-wise, and is more of a strike-throwing speed-changer who projects as a potential back-end rotation piece, but the point is that with all of the Roy Halladay speculation getting run up the flag these days revolving around top prospects, don't forget that teams need guys like this too to get a deal done.
Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets (Single-A Savannah)
It's easy to forget that Flores is younger than most high school players who got drafted last month. How many of them do you think could hit .287 in a full-season league? It's a short list, and Flores has been especially hot of late, going 4-for-4 on Sunday while batting .320 in his last 40 games. He's not a shortstop in the end, but the bat could end up really special.
Christian Friedrich, LHP, Rockies (High-A Modesto)
After striking out 66 over 45 1/3 innings in eight starts for Single-A Asheville, Friedrich has yet to be challenged in the California League, as his 5 2/3 shutout innings on Sunday lowered his ERA to 2.01 in five outings for Modesto, and the California League is batting just .188 against him. His curveball is arguably the best in the minors, but he's hardly a one-pitch guy, as his fastball is a tick above-average as well. In an organization that's been desperate for pitching since its inception, the trio of Friedrich at High-A, Jhoulys Chacin at Double-A, and Esmil Rogers at Triple-A is hard to match.
Cody Johnson, OF, Braves (High-A Myrtle Beach)
Johnson hit his 24th home run on Sunday, and in just 87 games, he's already established a new single-season record for Myrtle Beach, which plays in one of the minor league's toughest parks to go deep in. His power is undeniable, rating a pure 80 on the scouting scale, but that question remains as to whether or not it will be enough. For all the fireworks, he's batting just .261, he's struck out 112 times in 306 at-bats, and his defense, even in left field, is just plain bad. For many, his best-case scenario is a defensively-limited Ron Kittle type.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Cubs (Short-season Boise)
Few teams are more aggressive scouting the Pacific Rim than the Cubs are, and Lee was seen as the big catch last year, although Tommy John surgery delayed his stateside debut. It's turning out to be well worth the wait, as the 18-year-old Korean is 13-for-29 in his last six games and batting .324/.388/.417 overall while leading the college-heavy Northwest League in stolen bases (12), and ranking third in hits (35) and second in runs (25). A plus-plus runner with a quick line-drive bat, Lee's size and athleticism separates him from most Asian signees, and he's already among the best prospects in the Cubs' system.
Cameron Maybin, CF, Marlins (Triple-A New Orleans)
I'm not sure what else this guy has to do to get another chance. Maybin went 7-for-13 over the weekend and is batting .345/.428/.500 overall, including a .393 mark in his last 30 games. In addition, the once-disturbingly high strikeout rate has become much more manageable, as the former first-round pick has whiffed 38 times in 200 at-bats, although the power is significantly down, as he's hit just three home runs. Like Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs, he's a different player than he once was, but he might be an overall better one because of it, and he deserves second shot.
Jared Mitchell, OF, White Sox (Single-A Kannapolis)
Mitchell has been nothing short of on fire since the White Sox made him their first-round pick in June. He followed up that selection by winning Most Outstanding Player honors during the College World Series, and after signing for a $1.2 million bonus, a three-week layoff did little to slow him down, as his pro career began with his going 4-for-9 with a pair of doubles in his first three games for the Intimidators. A monster athlete with a tremendous ceiling, Mitchell was seen as a bit of a project due to his football commitment in college, but his development could go quicker than many think.
Eric Patterson, 2B/3B/OF, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento)
One of my favorite scout quotes in recent years concerned Patterson, when an evaluator, comparing him to his brother Corey, said of Eric, "Half the athlete, and twice the ballplayer." Acquired from the Cubs last year in the Rich Harden deal, Patterson has been playing multiple positions for the RiverCats and hitting in every one of them, as a 7-for-13 weekend that included two doubles, a triple, and a home run upped his season line to .318/.387/.517 with 33 stolen bases in 39 attempts. The A's have dreams on him turning into a Chone Figgins type who can provide roster flexibility while producing in multiple positions.
Drew Storen, RHP, Nationals (Single-A Hagerstown)
Everyone knew the Nationals would go with a signability pick with the 10th overall selection, and Storen's $1.6 million bonus is a far more accurate reflection of his value than his selection. After a bit of a rough start to his pro career, Storen has been crazy/dominant, as he struck out the side in his one inning on Saturday, and in his last five outings, the former Stanford star has not allowed a hit in 6 2/3 frames while striking out 15. Moved up to High-A Potomac on Sunday, he's going to climb up the ladder quickly based on his 92-95 mph fastball and mid-80s slider.
Travis Wood, LHP, Reds (Double-A Carolina)
At some point, Wood is going to earn more attention for what he's doing this year, as in 19 starts his 1.21 ERA is downright Gibson-esque. He tossed seven shutout innings on Sunday, allowing four hits and striking out eight, but that was really nothing new, as it was the sixth time in his last nine starts that he's kept his opponent scoreless. He has the numbers of an ace, the stuff of a back-end starter, and the truth is probably somewhere in between.
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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