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August 31, 2009

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Scott Beerer, OF, Rockies (High-A Modesto)
I was talking to a scout over the weekend about a minor league pitcher who was pretty impressive but who, as a converted position player, was quite old for his level. "With converted guys, I don't really care much about age," he said. I wondered if the same applies to the other kind of conversions, as Beerer is quickly becoming a guy to root for. At 27, he still has to move quickly, but so far he's proving that he at least deserves a chance to continue his career in 2010 at Double-A, as after a 4-for-10 weekend that including a double, triple, home run and seven RBI, he's batting .342/.408/.553 in 45 games for the Nuts.

Michael Brantley, OF, Indians (Triple-A Columbus)
Earlier in the month, it looked like Brantley's season might end early due to a foot injury, but he was able to return after a cortisone shot, and he's batting .400 since his return. While his season line of .267/.350/.362 is hardly eye-opening, there's a lot to like here, given that Brantley has more walks (58) than strikeouts (47) in 453 at-bats, 43 stolen bases in 48 attempts, and has slowly made improvements in every aspect of his game, all while being one of the youngest everyday players in the league. I'm not saying he's a future star or anything, but he is a better prospect that the numbers indicate.

Cody Decker, 1B, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
Last year, the MVP of the Arizona complex league was a Padre named Decker (Jaff Decker, a real prospect), but the same is true this year, as Cody hit .354/.421/.717 and set league records for RBI (63), extra-base hits (39), and total bases (142), all accumulated in the last 52 games. Those kind of numbers have generated a lots of e-mails, so here's the bad news: he's not really much of a prospect. A 22nd-round pick out of UCLA, Decker is already 22, short, wide, and quite limited athletically. If that sounds like Jaff, you might be right, but this one is way older and just joining him a Low-A. It's a great year statistically to be sure, but he's basically this year's Vito Chiaravalloti.

Danny Duffy, LHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington)
The Royals have been the butt of many jokes this year, and for good reason, but at least they still have an impressive numbers of young arms in the system. Duffy had a 2.20 ERA at Low-A Burlington last year, and he's slowly getting his Carolina League mark down as well; after another excellent start on Sunday, he's allowed just three runs over 20 2/3 innings in his last four starts while giving up 11 hits and striking out 22. With his average-velocity fastball setting up two quality secondary offerings (a nice changeup and a slow curve with huge break), he'll be at Double-A next year, and like Mike Montgomery, could get a big-league look in late 2010, with even more arms coming a year later. There's still hope, Royals fans.

Jeurys Familia, RHP, Mets (Low-A Savannah)
The Mets are another organization needing some good news, so here goes: this kid is the real deal. A 19-year-old Dominican with a power pitcher's frame and plenty of projection, Familia has been generating a lot of buzz lately in the South Atlantic League, and five more shutout innings on Sunday lowered his ERA to 2.69 in 24 outings for the Sand Gnats. His fastball sits in the low 90s with impressive sink and run, and he's made progress throughout the year with his curveball and changeup. There's plenty of ceiling here, and he's definitely put himself on the prospect map.

Reese Havens, SS, Mets (High-A St. Lucie)
Last year's first-round pick has been plagued by injuries in his first full season, and he's batting just .246 in the Florida State League, yet his stock remains unchanged because he's done so much beyond the batting average. Home runs on Saturday and Sunday give him 14 on the year, just three off the league lead, while he's added 53 walks and solid-but-unspectacular defense at shortstop. I know our readers are more than smart enough to look beyond the batting average, so this is just more evidence.

Miguel Rojas, SS, Reds (Low-A Dayton)
I saw the Dayton squad up close and personal last month, and this was the guy I kept ending up the most impressed with, despite the fact that he had little fanfare. Two-hit games in all three weekend contests raised his average to .277/.329/.344 on the year, but he's batting .323/.366/.373 since the All-Star break. A 20-year-old product of Venezuela, Rojas is a very good shortstop with nice range and fundamentals well beyond his years, as well as a quick, line-drive swing that has generated only 41 strikeouts in 448 at-bats. If anything, he kind of reminded me of Ozzie Guillen, and that's not as bad a thing as you might think.

Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Angels (Rookie-Level AZL Angels)
A supplemental first-round pick this June, Skaggs signed a week before the deadline for a smooth $1 million, and he pitched three scoreless innings on Saturday, giving him a career ERA of 0.00 in six innings. That's one of the great frustrations of the deadline; nobody begrudges picks for waiting, as those who wait get paid. Teams want to move it up so they can have more than six innings to look at their new asset, as Skaggs looked pretty damned good against the 24 batters he faced in his pro debut, but left everyone wanting for more.

Drew Storen, RHP, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg)
When the Nationals selected Storen with the 10th overall pick in June, one of the primary thoughts behind the selection was that he could move quickly. So far, that seems to be working out for both parties, as Storen is now with his third team, and a perfect inning on Saturday kept his Eastern League ERA at 0.00 while allowing just two hits in 10 innings. Overall, Storen has tossed 34 2/3 innings as a professional, with twice as many strikeouts (44) as hits allowed (20), and while he won't make the majors this year, after a stint in the Arizona Fall League, he'll compete for one next spring.

Josh Thole, C, Mets (Double-A Binghamton)
Thole spent the weekend doing what he's basically been doing all year-hitting. Multi-hit games on Friday and Saturday raised his season averages to .328/.395/.422, and he got the best news of his career when general manager Omar Minaya said Thole would be added to the big-league roster come September. A pure batting average-dependent player with very little power, it's hard to figure out what he is down the road, other than a big leaguer.

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:  Jaff Decker

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

BP Comment Quick Links


Kevin, what does Brantley look like defensively? Could he be considered a late-inning defensive replacement at all three slots?

Aug 31, 2009 11:56 AM
rating: 0

Thole doesn't try to hit for power. I've watched him close to 5 or 6 times this year and he chokes up on the bat and makes sure his hand isn't on the bottom of the bat handle which allows him to get great contact.

Aug 31, 2009 12:45 PM
rating: 1

This is an interesting observation; are you suggesting that he could hit for power if he tried?

Aug 31, 2009 13:26 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Sure, but then he wouldn't hit .320.

Aug 31, 2009 21:24 PM

Yeah there was actually a quote from Thole about how he changed his approach last year because he was getting more hits with two strikes than early in the count, so he started shortening up and generating more contact. It will be interesting to see if as he finishes maturing physically, he'll find a way to take a step back from the extreme and take a bit more advantage of his strength. He's definitely not a power guy, but he did have five FSL bombs in just over 400 PAs last year at 21. That's not stunning, but it indicates a bit more raw strength than we've seen this year.

Aug 31, 2009 23:19 PM
rating: 0

Do you think Hellickson has a ceiling like a Mike Mussina?

Aug 31, 2009 12:49 PM
rating: 0

There was an article earlier this year (by Toby Hyde I believe), that Thole had a traditional approach last year, was struggling, and took this new approach on the advice of his manager. Basically, the manager noticed that Thole had an uncanny ability of hitting with two strikes, so he told Thole to try that approach all the time.
Seems to work well.

Aug 31, 2009 13:57 PM
rating: 0
One Flap Down

Thole sounds like the second coming of Paul LoDuca.

Aug 31, 2009 14:19 PM
rating: 0

Plus walks (at least hopefully he can translate that up, not a given unless he can hit with a bit of pop), minus juice.

Aug 31, 2009 23:20 PM
rating: 0

or Brian Harper..

Sep 01, 2009 05:08 AM
rating: 0

Having seen two of Tyler Skaggs' three AZL outings, I'm sold on him as a prospect. I agree with KG ... it would be nice to see these high school kids get signed sooner and get a little more experience under their belts that first season.

Aug 31, 2009 16:07 PM
rating: 0

I'm sorry, Nuts & Beerer?

Aug 31, 2009 20:56 PM
rating: 1
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