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August 10, 2009

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Tim Alderson, RHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)
A lot of people were surprised at the trade that sent Alderson to the Pirates for second baseman Freddy Sanchez. After all, Alderson was a guy pitching pretty well at Double-A as a 20-year-old after leading the California League in ERA the year before as a teenager. The problem is, the scouts aren't as crazy about him as the stats might suggest. He's the kind of guy who needs to be perfect with his command and his curveball to make up for his 86-89 mph heat, but the thing is, he often is, as evidenced by six no-hit innings on Friday in his second start for the organization. Scouts differ on what he winds up being in the end, with that range somewhere between a number-three starter and a fringy number five.

David Bromberg, RHP, Twins (High-A Fort Myers)
Despite a losing record last year at Low-A Beloit and a 4.44 ERA, Bromberg entered the year as a solid prospect, as he had also led the Midwest League with 177 strikeouts. He's not striking out hitters at the same rate this year, but he's a much better pitcher. With a complete-game three-hit shutout on Friday, the big, beefy righty is now 11-1 with a 2.44 ERA in the Florida State League, giving up just 104 hits in 125 1/3 innings while striking out 113 and walking 50. His control still needs work, but his secondary stuff is much improved this year, as most project him as a solid big-league starter in the end.

Chris Carter, 1B/OF, Athletics (Double-A Midland)
Yes, Carter kept hitting over the weekend, going 4-for-10 with two doubles and a home run; he's now hitting .531/.628/1.063 in August and .334/.432/.568 on the season. That wasn't really the story, however, as the most eye-catching item in Midland's boxscores over the weekend didn't involve his offensive numbers, but rather his defensive position, as he was moved to right field, where he played briefly in 2008. He's a long way from being acceptable there, but if he can figure enough out to even become acceptable, he becomes an even more elite prospect.

Jeff Clement, 1B, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis)
It could be a classic case of a player thriving after a change of scenery, or it could just be what has been a historically streaky player getting hot again. Either way, the Pirates have to be happy with what they've gotten out of Clement; after two hits on Friday and another home run yesterday, he's now batting .343/.439/.800 in his first nine games with his new organization, with five bombs in 35 at-bats. He'll likely be up in September, and is lined up for an every day job in 2010.

Jason Heyward, OF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi)
On Saturday morning, I was happy to wake up early to join Grant Paulsen on MLB Home Plate's "Minors and Majors" show on satellite radio. The subject of the discussion was the upcoming draft deadline, but before I went on, Paulsen explained that he wanted to make sure we saved some time to talk about Heyward. The buzz on him right now is off the charts, and he continues to justify it with his bat by slugging home runs on Friday and Sunday, and adding two more hits on Saturday. His numbers have been nuts every time I've listed them since his promotion, but now that Heyward is at 31 Southern League games, his .411/.492/.729 line might be more impressive than ever.

Angel Morales, OF, Twins (Low-A Beloit)
A third-round pick in 2007, Morales entered this season with high expectations after leading the Appalachian League with 15 home runs last year, but after batting just .140 in June, he entered the second half of the season barely hitting his weight during his full-season debut. Even so, scouts admitted that they were intrigued by Morales' tools, and since then, something has clearly clicked, as, after going 5-for-9 over the weekend with two doubles and a home run, Morales is now batting .376 in his last 30 games with a .647 slugging percentage. Just 19 years old with above-average power and speed, he's well on his way to regaining his prospect status.

Rudy Owens, LHP, Pirates (High-A Lynchburg)
Before the Pirates conducted a yard sale last month, Owens was one of the prospects in the system getting the most attention by going 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA in 19 starts with more strikeouts (91) in 100 2/3 innings than hits and walks combined (86). Moved up to the Carolina League to begin the month, High-A hitters are doing no better against him, as after five shutout innings on Saturday, Owens has yet to give up a run for the Hillcats.

Chris Pettit, OF, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)
Pettit had a breakout campaign in 2007, batting .327/.411/.538 between two levels in his full-season debut. His 2008 left far more questions than answers due to poor performance and a broken foot, but he bounced back in a huge way this year, batting .367 in the Pacific Coast League before breaking a hamate bone in June. Expecting to be sidelined for a while, he made a surprisingly quick return, and is beginning to get his timing back; he's currently in the midst of a ten-game hitting streak during which he's gone 16-for-42 (.381) while adding a pair of home runs over the weekend. It's hard to figure out where he fits into the Angels' future, but for a 19th-round pick, he's already exceeded expectations.

Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas)
If you count Adam Lind as a designated hitter (where he's played most of 2009), no Blue Jay outfielder has an OPS over 750. Doesn't Snider deserve another shot at this point? After slugging two home runs at Wrigley Field on Sunday, he's now batting .320/.417/.653 for the 51s, including a 19-for-39 mark in his last ten contests with eight doubles, five home runs, and 16 RBI. He'll be back eventually, and he'll be awfully good.

Ruben Tejada, SS, Mets (Double-A Binghamton)
With eight hits over the weekend, Tejada is now batting .294/.358/.382 in 108 Eastern League games. Solid numbers, to be sure, but hardly eye-popping. What begins to make them really impressive, however, is when you look at his date of birth date and realize he's getting this done as a 19-year-old. He's not a tools guy by any means, but he works the count well, has a great feel for contact, and plays a solid shortstop. Is he a future star? Doubtful. A future big leaguer? That's more than probable.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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