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October 25, 2011

Future Shock

Tuesday-Morning Ten-Pack for 10/25/11

by Kevin Goldstein

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The Arizona Fall League is a scary place. Heading into Monday's games, the league ERA was 5.60, with batters hitting a composite .280/.364/.450. A combination of hitter-friendly ballparks and poor pitching can do that, but here are thoughts on 10 players with notable numbers, and what they might mean.

Michael Choice, OF, Athletics
Choice has been among the best hitters in the league, going 13-for-35 (.371) with five home runs. With some of the best raw power around, the 2010 first-round pick slugged 30 home runs for High-A Stockton in his full-season debut as part of a .285/.376/.542 season. However, the more important number for many is the one in the strikeout column. While Choice whiffed 134 times this year in 467 at-bats, his swing-and-miss rate declined throughout the season, and with just five strikeouts so far in Arizona, he's continuing to show the ability to make more contact without sacrificing the natural strength in his swing. Choice is lined up to begin the 2012 season at Double-A, and a September callup is very much in the cards should he continue to progress. Choice could finally be the savior a team desperate for power threats has been looking for.

Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers
Gennett is one of those little second baseman who can flat-out hit. His .300/.344/.406 line in the Florida State League this year might fall into that good-not-great category, but like Choice, Gennett made adjustments throughout the year, and the results were not only clear to scouts, but to the stat sheet as well. The second baseman had a .333/.356/.480 line during the season's second half. While his overly aggressive approach needs some tempering, Gennett has bat speed, excellent hands, and an intrinsic feel for contact, which he combines with surprising power out of his skinny frame. With multi-hit games in more than half of his starts for Peoria, scouts are raving about his hit tool, and like many players at this level, Double-A will be the big test.

Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Braves
The Braves' first-round pick in June, Gilmartin doesn't have an exciting upside, but his game is more than mature enough for the AFL. A left-hander with excellent command of a classic three-pitch mix, Gilmartin doesn't light up a radar gun (although he has average velocity, so he's not a pure finesse guy), but his changeup is a true out pitch, and his ability to locate gives him a leg up. After getting hit around a bit in his debut for the Saguaros, the southpaw has limited batters to a .196 average in his last three starts, showing a mature game that should allow him to move through the system quickly.

Robbie Grossman, OF, Pirates
Grossman had a bit of a breakout season in 2011, batting .294/.418/.451 for High-A Bradenton and worked 104 walks—the kind of number that always garners attention. Grossman is a difficult prospect to evaluate, as he repeated the level and plays center field when he profiles as more of a corner outfielder in the big leagues. Still, he's put up some of the loudest numbers in Arizona, batting .406/.494/.667 in 16 games with five home runs. The best thing about his game is that there truly are no weaknesses, as beyond the approach, he doesn't have a below-average tool, although none are star level either. Scouts vary wildly on him, and it depends on if you focus on what he can do or what he can't. His floor is certainly higher than most, but it's his ceiling that confuses when trying to rank him as a prospect.

Juan Lagares, OF, Mets
Lagares quietly had a breakout season for the Mets in 2011, splitting time between High- and Double-A and hitting a combined .349/.383/.500. A 22-year-old Dominican who began his career as a shortstop, Lagares never found a defensive home in the infield, and his time chasing fly balls has only proved that he's stuck in a corner for the long term. What he can do is hit, but it doesn't come with much else; Lagares has below-average power and isn't a big fan of working the count. He's 11-for-28 in Arizona, and he'll need to keep hitting to improve his prospect stock. The hit tools trumps all, but there has to be at least something to go with it.

Junior Lake, SS, Cubs
Few players in Arizona are generating more questions than Lake. The shortstop is hitting .355 in 15 games with four home runs and 11 stolen bases. The tools have always been there; Lake has above-average raw power, average-at-best speed, and one of the best arms you'll find. While he made progress in his second go-around in the Florida State League this year, his second half of the season in Double-A still presented plenty of questions about his ability to hit the breaking ball and whether his physical growth will keep him from playing up the middle. Teams have inquired about Lake in the past, wanting to convert him to the mound, and in the minds of many, this AFL showing is just delaying that opportunity.

Wil Myers, OF, Royals
Big things were expected for Myers in 2010, as he was moving from behind the plate to focus solely on his offense. Instead, injuries and a lingering infection affected him throughout the year, and his .254/.353/.393 showing for Double-A Northern Arkansas doesn’t seem like it can be completely explained away by maladies. The good news is that Myers is still six weeks short of his 21st birthday, so there's still plenty of time for adjustments, and he's been nothing short of remarkable for Surprise, going 16-for-43 with 14 walks for a cool .526 on-base percentage. Scouts who didn't see Myers during the regular season are raving about him the way scouts did in 2010, so maybe it was just the injuries. Regardless, he still has plenty of time.

Matt Purke, LHP, Nationals
Purke was a lightning rod of a subject in the days leading up to the 2011 draft. Entering the spring as a potential first overall pick, Purke never looked right during the season, often struggling to get out of the mid- to upper 80s with his fastball. Purke even had a visit to Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed him with bursitis, but no permanent damage. Purke’s performance, injury risk, and no reduction in bonus demands dropped him to the third round, where the aggressive Nationals scooped him up and finally got him to sign at the deadline for $2.75 million. Making his first start for the Scorpions on Friday, Purke faced eight batters and retired one while also walking one, hitting another, and giving up two doubles, a triple, and a home run. While he's been getting into the low-90s with his fastball, his command is all but nonexistent, his slider is flat, and his changeup isn’t deceptive. Rustiness and still not being 100 percent certainly are factors here, but at the same time, Purke doesn't seem any less risky of a player than he was in May.

Forrest Snow, RHP, Mariners
No reliever has made more noise in Arizona than Snow, as much for has great name as his out-of-nowhere status. A 36th-round pick last year as a local product out of the University of Washington, the 6-foot-6 righty has a pro body, but it comes with pedestrian stuff and control issues. Some mechanical tuning has turned Snow into a very real candidate for the 2012 major-league bullpen, as he went from Low- to Triple-A this year while striking out 127 in 143 1/3 innings. In four AFL appearances, he's given up just one hit over 8 2/3 innings while punching out 10. His 90-95 mph velocity is good, but what makes his fastball so special is its movement, including explosive late life and plenty of arm-side run. While neither of his secondary pitches are special, Snow’s changeup is ahead of his curve, and even if he's just a seventh-inning type, that's one helluva find for the 36th round.

Joey Terdoslavich, 1B, Braves
Terdoslavich created some buzz among Braves fans during the regular season when he hit .286/.341/.526 for High-A Lynchburg with 52 doubles and 20 home runs. That buzz has picked up after 10 games for the Saguaros; he has gone 18-for-39 (.462) with a home run. Unfortunately, Terdoslavich falls under the doom of most first-base prospects; simply being good isn't enough. Yes, he can hit, but he doesn't have the kind of power normally associated with the position, he doesn't walk much, and as good as his season was in the Carolina League, he's actually a year older than Freddie Freeman. You need to be almost perfect to be a good first-base prospect, and Terdoslavich is far from that.  

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,  Forrest Snow,  Year Of The Injury

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

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SlackerGeorge

Funny moment: After overthrowing a ball half-way up the screen behind home, Gose flexed his left bicep and pointed to it with his right hand.

Brian Dozier looked solid at the plate and very smooth and quick at SS.

Arenado showed a willingness to hit the ball to right, but not sure if that is much of a plus against the quality of pitching.

Jefrey Marte hits the ball hard. Really hard.

Hecchavaria, in his three triple game, plastered two of them off the base of the center field wall just to the right of the 430' sign.

Robbie Grossman is going to be an instant fan-favorite in Pittsburgh. I saw him four times and he might have had a couple swing-and-misses and one called strike.

Oct 25, 2011 04:39 AM
rating: 3
 
jpjazzman

Any thoughts on how some of the first round picks like Cole and Hultzen have looked in their limited appearances?

Oct 25, 2011 04:58 AM
rating: 0
 
fflakes41

The easy comparison to Gilmartin is Minor, but is it accurate at all? I'm assuming Minor throws a lot harder than Gilmartin, but do they possibly project to have about the same value?

Also, do you see the Royals pushing Myers into KC at some point (late) next year, or do you feel he'd be better off regaining his stroke all season long at Double/Triple A?

Oct 25, 2011 06:15 AM
rating: 0
 
gtgator

Minor and Gilmartin had the same profile coming out of college, hence the comparisons as collegiate pitchers. But Minor (perhaps due to the Braves instruction) added a couple of mph to his fastball once in the system and jumped substantially in prospect circles.

If Gilmartin can do the same, then the comparisons can be valid again. But, until then, I agree that the comparisons are now moot and Gilmartin is more a #4 - which was Minor's alleged "upside" when he was drafted.

Oct 25, 2011 11:11 AM
rating: 0
 
timber

As of this point the Royals have said Myers will start 2012 in AA with the goal of a midseason promotion to AAA. My guess is that, if that timetable works out and he performs well in AAA, he might get a September cuppajoe. Remember, though, that they signed Francoeur for two more years with the notion of a graceful transition to Myers in late 2013, not next year.

Myers could, of course, bust that timetable and force the Royals to do it another way, but that's the current feeling in the organization.

Oct 25, 2011 11:18 AM
rating: 1
 
Scott44

Aaron Hicks seems to be coming out from his early struggles. Any positives?

Oct 25, 2011 07:18 AM
rating: 0
 
JeffBiddle
(585)

What do Joey Terdoslavich's teammates call him?

Oct 25, 2011 10:44 AM
rating: 2
 
timber

I shudder to think. How about "Joey"?

Oct 25, 2011 11:19 AM
rating: 3
 
gtgator

Who knows. But I am also unsure why it matters that he's currently a 1B. Where is it written that he is stuck at 1B?

He played 3B in college. Perhaps he can't play 3B in the majors - but LF is not out of the question. 74 XBH is still 74 XBH. If any of those 2B can turn into HR, having a SH LF with 25 HR power isn't the worst thing, especially as the Braves have few players in the minors with any kind of power (and even fewer OF prospects in general).

If the Braves can make do with 15 HR, .700-ish OPS and poor defense from Prado in LF, I am sure they could live with 25 HR, .800ish OPS and poor defense from someone like Terdoslavich. Regardless, he'll get his chance to start proving he belongs in AA next year.

Oct 25, 2011 11:21 AM
rating: -1
 
arrosenthal

Yes, because hitting 25 homers is pretty much guaranteed.

If a player is relegated to 1B in the minors, it's unlikely he can play anything else (or at least unlikely that the organization thinks he can play anything else, which is actually more important). It's OK if he's a AAAA player. That still makes him better than, like, 99.999999 percent of the world at baseball.

Oct 25, 2011 14:27 PM
rating: 0
 
wjmcknight37

What about Belt? 1B in minors but athletic enough to play OF in majors.

Oct 25, 2011 16:28 PM
rating: 0
 
David Coonce

athletic does not equal good. Since the Giants have many players on the wrong side of the defensive spectrum (Huff, Sandoval, Burrell, Gillaspie, Pill, DeRosa...)Belt was adequate for left field/right field, but should be at first base.

Oct 25, 2011 19:21 PM
rating: 0
 
gtgator

You are more than welcome to show me where I guaranteed 25 HR. That said, he had 74 XBH (with 20 HR) at the age of 22. It is not unreasonable to think 25 HR might be a possibility.

And Ryan Braun was a college 3B playing LF in the majors. Yonder Alonso is being shoved to LF thanks to Votto. Kyle Blanks was 1B in the minors playing LF in the majors. Adam Dunn has played both 1B and LF.

Point being, this guy played OF as a freshman in college. He is 6'1" 200 (i.e. not a blob). So you know he is relegated to 1B . . . how, exactly?

Again, I am not saying he'd be good defensively in LF. But I don't think he's considered great defensively at 1B right now anyway. So, if he hits, I'm just saying that I have seen nothing in his scouting reports that he can't be moved to LF. Other players have made such a move. Where is it written that Joey is incapable of doing the same?

Oct 26, 2011 07:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Dan W.

I'm not sure they can "make do" with that production from Prado in left field. They rode some unsustainable pitching performances (e.g. Jurrjens) to a big wild card lead, and then collapsed in large part because they never had the offense to support their record. Prado was a part of it, as was Infante, as was the jerking around of Heyward (not that he was great when left alone to play), &c.

Oct 26, 2011 05:51 AM
rating: 0
 
gtgator

The comment was more tongue-in-cheek because they kept running Prado out there everyday while benching Heyward (who had a better OPS and was much better defensively).

Neither were great shakes offensively, but there was zero reason to play Prado over Heyward against RHP. Yet it was Heyward benched in favor of Constanza et al. As such, I guess they felt they could "make do" with Prado.

BTW, Infante was in Florida last year.

Oct 26, 2011 07:49 AM
rating: 0
 
cknapp34

If I were a teammate of Terdoslavich, I would call him Terdzilla. Until he hit me. Then Id go with Joey.

Oct 25, 2011 16:41 PM
rating: 5
 
onegameref

Instead of trying to convert Lake to a pitcher why not work on making him an acceptable hitter at SS or 2B? Him with Castro sounds pretty nice if he can manage it with the bat. Pitcher would seem like a last resort. Of course they could ship him to the Red Sox based on the selling high theory. I am sure Cherington is too wise for such a ploy.

Oct 25, 2011 19:14 PM
rating: -1
 
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