CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Minne... (10/13)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: Venezuel... (10/09)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (10/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Comp... (10/13)

October 13, 2009

Future Shock

AFL Preview, Part Three

by Kevin Goldstein

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.

a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

While the AFL is known more for its hitting as opposed to mound work, the new age of deadline-day deals and the folding of the Hawaii League now have Arizona serving as a unofficial debut spot for several top picks from last June.

Dream Rotation

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (Desert Dogs): What may well be the most hyped appearance in league history will take place in a few days when Strasburg takes the mound for his official un-official pro debut. Never has a draft pick received this much attention, nor has a team itself ever put this much pressure on a pick to be some kind of savior. This will be no more than a warmup for next spring, and the over/under for Strasburg to reach the big leagues is the end of May.

Jenrry Mejia, Mets (Rafters): Mejia really is a special arm. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph, but he can bump it up a bit more when he needs it, and by utilizing different grips he can add impressive cutting or sinking action to the pitch. The issue that Mejia will be working on for Surprise is that he's really dependent on that one pitch for now, as his curveball flashes average at times but is highly inconsistent, while his changeup is little more than a show-me pitch. Still, it's hard to find 19-year-olds who can hold their own at Double-A, but Mejia's future role is still undetermined.

Mike Leake, Reds (Saguaros): The eighth overall pick in this year's draft, Leake signed too late to pitch, so like Strasburg this will be his unofficial pro debut. Making up for an undersized frame with athleticism, command, and a deep repertoire, Leake could begin 2010 as high as Double-A if he pitches well here and next spring.

Andrew Cashner, Cubs (Solar Sox): The best college closer in the 2008 draft, the Cubs very cautiously began a conversion to starting this year for Cashner, who despite making 24 starts between High- and Double-A, still notched just over 100 innings. Trying to rectify his command issues has led to a reduction in velocity, but his slider is still a wipeout pitch at times, and his changeup was surprisingly solid.

Mike Minor, Braves (Saguaros): The Braves received a lot of criticism for the selection of Minor with the seventh overall pick in June, but it's more a philosophical argument than anything else, as he might be the best bet in the draft after Strasburg to reach the big leagues, but his ceiling might end at fourth starter in a big-league rotation. In four late-season starts for Low-A Rome, he allowed one run over 14 innings with a 17/0 K/BB ratio, and don't be surprised if he dominates here as well.

Other starters of note:

  • Brandon Erbe, Orioles (Desert Dogs): He had an excellent albeit injury-plagued bounce-back year at Double-A Bowie, allowing just 44 hits over 73 innings. However, more and more, scouts are seeing him as a future reliever.
  • Daniel Gutierrez, Rangers (Rafters): Acquired from Kansas City late in the year, Gutierrez has the stuff to be a sure-fire top pitching prospect, but also a disturbing history of injuries and off-field issues.
  • Ian Kennedy, Yankees (Rafters): He looked sharp after missing most of the year following surgery to remove an aneurysm in his right arm, and there's no reason he still can't develop into a solid back-end innings eater.
  • Lance Lynn, Cardinals (Rafters): One of the more difficult prospect to get a feel for, Lynn looks like a monster at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, but his stuff and command are merely average. Yet, he somehow gets the job done, including a 2.85 ERA in his full-season debut that began in the Florida State League and ended in Triple-A.
  • Aaron Miller, Dodgers (Javelinas): A supplemental first-round pick in June, Miller was outstanding in a full-season league, limiting Midwest League hitters to a .208 batting average with 38 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings thanks to a plus fastball/slider combination.
  • Andrew Miller, Marlins (Solar Sox): This is something of a surprise assignment, as the player some saw as the best pitcher in the 2006 draft tries to get his career back on track. Many insiders believe the issues revolve more around a lack of confidence than anything else.
  • Daniel Moskos, Pirates (Scorpions): Still a massive disappointment since becoming the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Moskos at least showed some signs of life at Double-A Altoona, morphing into a ground-ball machine; he still needs to figure out how to miss more bats.
  • Andy Oliver, Tigers (Javelinas): Expected to be a sure-fire first-round pick this June, Oliver struggled at times with Oklahoma State, and may have been distracted by a lawsuit with the NCAA over his use of an agent. He got first-round money anyway (nearly $1.5 million), as it's hard to find power lefties, and Oliver can get it up to 96 mph at times.
  • Donald Veal, Pirates (Scorpions): After surviving the year as a rarely used Rule 5 pick, Veal will be converted back to starting, as 6-foot-4 lefties who can throw 94 mph don't exactly grow on trees.

Five Relivers Worth Watching

The Arizona Fall League is loaded with relievers, and it's very easy to find bullpen arms on nearly every team in the minors with an ERA in the twos and more than a strikeout per inning. So how do you tell the difference between who's good now from who will be in the future? Here are five firemen who have scouting reports to match their numbers.

  • Phillippe Aumont, Mariners (Javelinas): Between his height (6-foot-7) and the movement on the pitch, Aumont's sinker is among the best in the minors. His slider gives him a second plus pitch, while his intense demeanor serves him well in a late-innings role.
  • Craig Kimbrel, Braves (Saguaros): A short, stocky righty with monster stuff, Kimbrel suffered with command and control issues all year, walking 45 in 60 innings, but the Braves still think he can be their closer of the future, as he's downright untouchable at times, as evidenced by a career strikeout rate of 15 per nine innings.
  • Mark Rogers, Brewers (Javelinas): One of the best stories in baseball this year, Rogers has had more arm problems than anyone can count at this point, but he quietly stayed healthy all year, while pitching under one of the lightest workloads in the game. Pitching as a starter for High-A, Rogers took the mound every five days, with some extra days off here and there, amassing 23 games and just 64 2/3 innings. However, when he did pitch, he was excellent, putting up a 1.67 ERA, allowing just 46 hits and getting his fastball up to 97 mph. There might be something here yet.
  • Tanner Scheppers, Rangers (Rafters): Scheppers arguably had the best arm strength of anyone in this year's draft, but he also had medical reports that where troubling enough that some scouting directors were told not to even consider picking him. His $1.25 million bonus is a pretty expensive lottery ticket, but the payout could be fabulous.
  • Drew Storen, Nationals (Desert Dogs): While he was a budget-minded selection in June as the tenth overall pick because the team also had to sign Strasburg, Storen was nothing short of outstanding in his brief pro debut, with a 1.95 ERA across three levels while striking out 49 over 37 innings and giving up just 21 hits and eight walks. In the majors before Strasburg? Don't bet against it.

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:  The Who

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

BP Comment Quick Links


Latest word is that Lance Lynn will NOT be in the AFL, for reasons not yet clear. I would not object in the slightest to discovering that this "latest word" is incorrect and he'll be there; he looks interesting.

Oct 13, 2009 10:11 AM
rating: 1

What is your opinion of Mike Dunn (Yankees-Rafters)?

Oct 13, 2009 10:12 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He's got a ton of velocity for a lefty, and that's always a good thing, but at the same time, he's very wild and the slider comes and goes.

Oct 13, 2009 10:24 AM

No love for Mickey Storey? Not sure what he throws but he pitched at all 4 levels of the A's org and posted a very impressive line.

Oct 13, 2009 11:42 AM
rating: -1

Why are scouts seeing Erbe as a reliever? Command? Delivery? Health?

Oct 13, 2009 12:04 PM
rating: 0

I thought Aaron Crow was going to make his debut, have you heard why the Royals kept him off?

Oct 13, 2009 12:26 PM
rating: 1
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I'm sorry but your scouting report on Mejia is completely wrong. I've heard that Mejia's changeup is a plus pitch and has plus plus potential from an actual Major League Scout who told me this. He told me that the issue for Mejia was his breaking pitch. He raved about Mejia, said he was light years better than Holt. Mejia throws his changeup like Felix Hernandez(mid to high 80's) and I've watched him pitch twice this year. He said that Tawawza was the Redsox best prospect in Mid May when I spoke to this Scout and downgraded Lars Anderson significantly.

Oct 13, 2009 12:35 PM
rating: -4
G. Guest

So, you agree with everything except for the change up part, and that make it 'completely wrong'? The 'actual Major League Scout' you spoke to has a different opinion than the one or more that KG has as sources. Relax a bit.

Oct 13, 2009 13:46 PM
rating: 0

Actually his curve flashes plus at times as well.

Oct 13, 2009 14:04 PM
rating: -2

It's the BP anti-Mets bias at work.

(I'm kidding)

Oct 13, 2009 16:21 PM
rating: 0

There has been, I think, a wide spectrum of views on Mejia's change up. Baseball America and KG have rated it as a developing pitch while Toby Hyde, who has seen Mejia and is not a scout, and a few others who have "claimed to see him" (and I'm not insinuating that you/ they didn't, just we have no facts to back that statement up with fact) see the pitch as a true + pitch that can develop further. Honestly, there is probably a wide variance with a 19 yr old's change up from outing to outing and only time will tell. I hope, as a Mets fan, he becomes that top tier starter but we'll see who is right in about 3 years...

Oct 13, 2009 17:59 PM
rating: 0

Kevin, do you think Mejia should stay in AA next year to work on his secondary pitches, or should he be tested in AAA?

Oct 13, 2009 20:32 PM
rating: 0
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Minne... (10/13)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: Venezuel... (10/09)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (10/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Comp... (10/13)

West Coast By Us: We Bat Flipped a Plane
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, May...
Premium Article Painting the Black: Stealing Signs
Eyewitness Accounts: May 28, 2015
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Started From the Bottom, ...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Eduardo Rodriguez
Premium Article Some Projection Left: Ask the Industry: Catc...

Premium Article Prospectus Today: Completion
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Minnesota Twins

2009-10-16 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: October 16
2009-10-15 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: October 15
2009-10-14 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: October 14
2009-10-13 - Premium Article Future Shock: AFL Preview, Part Three
2009-10-09 - Premium Article Future Shock: Venezuelan Winter League Previ...
2009-10-08 - Premium Article Future Shock: AFL Preview, Part Two
2009-10-06 - Premium Article Future Shock: AFL Preview, Part One

2009-11-02 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten Pack
2009-10-26 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten Pack
2009-10-19 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten Pack
2009-10-13 - Premium Article Future Shock: AFL Preview, Part Three
2009-10-09 - Premium Article Future Shock: Venezuelan Winter League Previ...
2009-10-08 - Premium Article Future Shock: AFL Preview, Part Two
2009-10-06 - Premium Article Future Shock: AFL Preview, Part One