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July 2, 2009

Future Shock

Represent!

by Kevin Goldstein

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After yesterday's review of dream-crushing evaluations, let's accentuate the positive and look at some players that are generating more glowing reactions from scouts.

Few prospects have had a more impressive return from Tommy John surgery than Phillies righty Kyle Drabek. With much cleaner mechanics and better control, the 2006 first-round pick had a 2.48 ERA in 10 appearances for High-A Clearwater, and actually pitched better than that, striking out 74 in 61 2/3 innings while walking just 19 and limited the league to a .218 batting average. He's been nearly as impressive at Double-A Reading, with a 2.43 ERA in five starts.

One scout who recently saw him there walked away impressed, observing, "He's significantly smoother now, and I really like him; he's going 95-96 mph in the first inning, and that curveball is a big-time hammer with a great arm stroke." Drabek's smallish frame and injury history contribute to the trouble many have figuring out exactly which direction his path will take him, but the scout saw him succeeding in a variety of roles. "He really could be anything," the scout surmised, "I could see him starting, I could see him relieving... he could have a lot of different careers, but they're all good ones."

White Sox center fielder Jordan Danks never lived up to expectations at the University of Texas, but after receiving an over-slot $525,000 bonus as a seventh-round pick last June, he's almost been a revelation. He was initially batting .322/.409/.525 at High-A Winston-Salem, and has since had little trouble adjusting to more advanced pitching at Double-A, posting a .308/.387/.442 line for Birmingham before being sidelined with a wrist injury.

"I came away impressed with him," said one scout, "he reminded me of Jordan Schafer with a little less power and a little more hitability," he added, while adding praise for Danks' overall game. "He plays a very good center field, he works the counts, he does all of the little things; he's an everyday big leaguer for sure."

With a .258/.329/.343 batting line at Single-A Augusta, it's hard for Giants shortstop Ehire Adrianza to generate much attention in the box scores, but then again it's his glove work that's generating a lot of buzz among scouts. "You watch him take one ground ball, and you are sold," said one evaluator, who added that on overall future defensive potential, the 19-year-old Venezuelan is, "the best shortstop I've seen this year." He doesn't offer much with the bat, but the scout believed it would be enough to make him and everyday player in the end. "He has a good swing, and they're going to give him every chance to figure out how to hit, because he is a top-end defender, and it's so comforting to have a guy like that behind the pitcher."

Rangers righty Blake Beavan is one of the more difficult prospects to figure out. Drafted in the first round two years ago as a six-foot-seven monster with mid-90s heat, the Rangers had to smooth out Beavan's ultra-violent mechanics, and while the velocity has dropped significantly since his high school days, one scout who has seen him in each of the last two years still sees him as a solid big-league starter.

"He's only 20 years old and he's in the Texas League, he throws a lot of strikes, he's not afraid to challenge hitters, and he has enough stuff to make it work," said the scout, while adding that Beavan has become a much more complete pitcher this year, and one more comfortable with his secondary offerings. "When I saw him last year at [Single-A] Clinton, he threw maybe one changeup for me, and this year a threw a bunch and has a real feel for it; the Rangers have done a nice job backing him off the power game and turning him into a guy with a good mix of pitches."

So while he's morphed into something unexpected, the scout was still bullish on Beavan's future, stating, "It's not a top of the rotation special prospect package, but it's a nice big guy with strikes and three pitches who should eat up a lot of innings."

Very little has been heard from Cubs righty Chris Huseby since he signed for a whopping $1.3 million bonus in 2006 as an 11th-round pick. Entering the year with less than 100 innings of pro experience in three years, and none of it in a full-season league, Huseby began this year as a relatively anonymous factor in the bullpen at Single-A Peoria. However, he has turned into one of the circuit's best relievers, with 40 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings, and even more surprising, just two walks.

A pair of scouts who saw Huseby throw this year both agree that he's back on track. "He's backing up a dominant cutter with a plus slider, so the way he's going, it's got to end up being capable of helping out a big-league bullpen." The second scout was just as impressed, but couldn't help still holding a bit of trepidation based on Huseby's past. "He's been up to 93 mph for me, and gets swings and misses with that cutter," the scout explained, while going further about his concerns, "he holds his delivery pretty for a 6-foot-7 guy and he's throwing a ton of strikes, but it's a bit scary as when you look at last year [when he walked more than a batter per inning] there is a fear he could go south in a hurry."

Still, living in the now, Huseby remains a well thought-of prospect. "Right now, it's two legitimate big-league pitches, and he's got a real chance to be a nice set-up guy."

Jason Varitek's long and successful run in Boston has coincided with the organization's inability to develop catching talent, but one scout thinks they might be onto something with Mark Wagner. A ninth-round pick in 2005, Wagner has a miserable 2008 campaign, but has bounced back with a .301/.410/.477 line at Double-A Portland before getting promoted to Triple-A earlier in the week.

That kind of offense, paired with what was already plus defensive work is what excited one veteran scout. "I think he is underrated," he said, "I like him as a backup on a good club or even a solid short-term regular," he added, while heaping on the praise about his defense. "He's a good blocker back there, his footwork and exchange let his arm play up, he calls a good game, works well with pitchers and surprises you with his power," he added, while observing that he saw just enough bat for the big leagues: "He's cheating a bit with his lower half, but he'll surprise you once in a while with his power."

More Drops of Sunshine

Adrian Cardenas, 2B/SS/3B, Athletics (Double-A Midland): "Such a nice short and compact swing, he's definitely going to hit, and I could see him growing into some power down the road with 10-15 home runs a year."

Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers (Triple-A Nashville):"He could be in the big leagues this year, and in the end, I could see him batting out of the two-hole. He could be an Edgar Renteria type of player."

Derek Norris, C, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown): "He's a real gamer, almost a throwback kind of guy. Athletic and strong, can work the count and hit home runs, and he was better defensively than I was told coming in."

Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): "The ball comes off his bat so hard... he's going to make Rangers fans not miss Mark Teixeira all that much."

Josh Thole, C, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): "Great approach, great makeup, I could see him lasting in the big leagues for a long time... almost a Darrin Fletcher, part two."

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:  Scout

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

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SirVLCIV

Have you heard anything recently from scouts about Jesus Montero?

Jul 02, 2009 08:36 AM
rating: -1
 
SirVLCIV

And I'm actually more interested in the defensive stuff. The batting line speaks for itself.

Jul 02, 2009 08:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

The defense isn't good still. He's slow and sluggish behind the plate, his arm is below average and made even worse by a slow release. Teams are running wild on him; he's thrown out 15 of 89 stolen base attempts, and that's 89 attempts in just 40 games.

Jul 02, 2009 09:31 AM
 
jlefty

If he was even an average defensive catcher, how high in the rankings would he be? top 15? if he was a great defensive catcher?

Jul 02, 2009 09:51 AM
rating: -1
 
cochab
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

who cares? he's neither of those

Jul 02, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: -9
 
jlefty

Obviously I care. Though I must have forgotten the rule where you can never ever pretend or imagine anything. And it certainly wouldn't help us further gauge how much his poor defense is hurting his elite prospect status, and how much value will be lost if he can't become a passable catcher and has to move to first/dh. You're right. Horribly pointless question on my part. They may as well cancel my subscription on me.

Jul 02, 2009 10:45 AM
rating: -2
 
SirVLCIV

Player A: Career batting line of .272/.397/.451
Player B: Career batting line of .277/.379/.478

Both around .850 OPS. Player A = 1B. Player B = C. Player B = immensely more valuable.

(Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada)

Jul 02, 2009 12:16 PM
rating: 2
 
Adam Hobson

That's not exactly a good comparison because what separates the value of those two even more is that Posada was a paradigm of health during his peak years, never once landing on the DL until last year and then again this year at the end of his career. Nick Johnson on the other hand was born on the DL.

Jul 02, 2009 13:29 PM
rating: 1
 
Fresh Hops

Here's why someone cares: if he sorts out his defensive issues, we want to know how good that makes him.

Jul 02, 2009 17:09 PM
rating: -2
 
Amos

You can't sort out being huge.

Jul 02, 2009 22:41 PM
rating: 0
 
Al Skorupa
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Right.

Hey, Kevin, If Montero was even an average defensive SHORTSTOP, how high in the rankings would he be? top 15? if he was a great defensive SHORTSTOP?

What if he could throw 100 mph and fart lightning bolts??

Jul 03, 2009 00:39 AM
rating: -7
 
jlefty

it was just a fucking question. if you don't want to know the answer don't read the comments. I was simply trying to see how much his awful defense was hurting his prospect status. being the #38 prospect at 19 with no glove is pretty damn impressive. fuck off.

Jul 03, 2009 15:56 PM
rating: -3
 
John Carter

I owm him in a Scoresheet league and had already written him off as a catcher. (I also own Wieters.) That may be premature, but doesn't sound like it by Kevin's observation. If only the Yankees had another decent catching prospect (do they?), they would have already found Montero another position to play - or they will just concede that he is a DH-to-be. Yes, being a DH takes a great deal away from his value to a fantasy team, but I'm betting his hitting will have such an impact that he's worth saving as a DH. If he catches, that's a bonus.

Jul 03, 2009 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
Al Skorupa

They do have another solid catching prospect - Austin Romine. Pretty solid all around. Kevin has previously called him their catcher of the future.

Jul 03, 2009 10:47 AM
rating: 1
 
SirVLCIV

Ouch.

Jul 02, 2009 09:56 AM
rating: 2
 
jman2050

Just as an aside, and I know there isn't much performance-wise to go on but still, where on the Top 100 would Aroldis Chapman be if he were signed by a team today?

Jul 02, 2009 10:55 AM
rating: 0
 
Cromulent

Does Cardenas still have a shot to stick in the middle infield?

Jul 02, 2009 12:08 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I think he could be an avg 2B.

Jul 02, 2009 12:16 PM
 
Al Skorupa

Will his power carry at 3B? Id imagine Jemile Weeks will be the better shortstop of the two...

Heard any back up plans for Weeks? CF?

Jul 03, 2009 00:41 AM
rating: 0
 
mwashuc06

What do you hear from Scouts on Jennry Mejia?

Jul 02, 2009 13:17 PM
rating: 0
 
cyborg

With the trade today of John Meleon to Rays for a 32 year old reliever and Carlos Santana only doing ok in AA this year, is it safe to give Ned Colletti the nod on the Blake deal?

Jul 02, 2009 14:58 PM
rating: -3
 
Al Skorupa

No! Still a terrible trade.

Santana isnt doing "just okay." .268/.405/.496 is more than "just okay" for a good defensive catcher. That's a 901 OPS. 55 BB to 38 Ks, too.

Regardless, if Santana and Meloan were both struck dead by lightning tomorrow, the trade would still have been a big mistake. He gave away a lot of value for a pretty mediocre asset. It was a bad trade at the time and it remains a bad trade. Good GMs dont give away value like that.

Jul 03, 2009 00:45 AM
rating: 0
 
jarjets89

nah, santana's a 5 star guy, a stud

Jul 02, 2009 15:03 PM
rating: 1
 
cyborg
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I don't know. I know he has been touted as a stud in the past but I would expect a 23 year old stud to be doing better at AA than .267. He does have a ton of walks this season...so that is in his favor.

Maybe it is too early to anoint Colletti the winner but Meleon was supposed to be an important piece to the deal.

Jul 02, 2009 15:17 PM
rating: -5
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

That's statistical cherry picking, guy has an 900+ OPS.

Jul 02, 2009 16:22 PM
 
Al Skorupa

Seriously?? He has a .400 OBP and a ~.500 SLG. Kid is a stud all the way.

You know who's else is batting around .267(actually .268)? Adrian Gonzalez. What a huge disappointment that guy has been this year, eh?

Jul 03, 2009 00:48 AM
rating: 2
 
dzzard
(805)

What am I missing with Jordan Danks? He is a big man who does not hit for much power (an OPS of .829 on a team with an OPS of .778; 9 extra base hits in 120 AA at bats; 6 home runs and a .483 slugging percentage at two levels). He shows some decent speed (3 triples and 8 steals at two levels), but strikes out more than once per game. How is that batting average going to stay where it is as he presumably advances toward MLB with all of those strikeouts? Now I have heard MLB scouts talk, especially at the Arizona Fall League, about how great certain people look in uniform (Danks is one of those, but so was Charlton Jimerson). Is some of that creeping into their analyses? In any event, why isn’t a man with the size of Danks producing more bang considering all of the non-productive outs he makes?

Jul 03, 2009 08:21 AM
rating: 0
 
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<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Run-hunti... (07/01)
<< Previous Column
Future Shock: Dream Cr... (07/01)
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Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (07/06)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (07/02)

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