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September 2, 2009

Future Shock Blog

September 2

by Kevin Goldstein

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Welcome back . . .

Jason Heyward, OF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi)
Tuesday's stats: 3-for-4, 2 RBI, K, SB
When Heyward bruised his heel last week, it was a day-to-day injury, but there was some thought that it would cost him what little was left of the minor league season. Instead, it only cost him a week, and his return to the lineup on Tuesday night was a rousing success, as he laced three singles and drove in a pair of runs. One of Bobby Cox's favorite players this spring, he'll get a legitimate look next spring for the Opening Day job in right field.

Living out of a suitcase

Dan Hudson, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
Tuesday's stats: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K
Hudson lasted just three innings on Tuesday night, but it was for all the right reasons. After the White Sox raised the white flag earlier in the week, they've decided to give Hudson the call. It's easily one of the most improbable rises of the year, as the 150th overall pick of the 2008 draft began the year at Low-A Kannapolis while slowly working up the ladder, spending time with every full-season affiliate in the system. This year's minor league breakout pitcher of the year, Hudson has incurred quite a few moving expenses, but it's been well worth it, as his fifth team of the year is, after all, any minor leaguer's ultimate goal.

Not him, the other guy

Steve Johnson, RHP, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)
Tuesday's stats: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K
Much of the attention surrounding the package the Orioles received for reliever George Sherrill has revolved around Josh Bell, the organization's third baseman of the future, but don't forget about Johnson. A Baltimore native (who is also housing Bell through the remainder of the season), Johnson seems pumped by the possibilities of pitching for his hometown team. In six starts for the Baysox, he's struck out 31 in 31 1/3 innings while limiting the Eastern League to a .174 batting average.

A deeper look finds much to like

Chris Withrow, RHP, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga)
Tuesday's stats: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K
A first-round pick in 2007, arm troubles limited Withrow to just 13 innings coming into the season, and while he's stayed healthy this year, his ERA of 4.51 across two levels is hardly awe-inspiring. Nearly everything else on his stat line, however, is outstanding, as he's giving up less than a hit per inning while striking out 131 in 113 2/3 innings. Just 20 years old, he is succeeding in Double-A and possessing a power arsenal, including a fastball that can get into the mid-90s at times, Withrow has gone from off the radar to on the fast track.

Because we don't want to ignore the Astros fans out there

Chia-Jen Lo, RHP, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
Tuesday's stats: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
Signed out of Taiwan over the winter, Lo was one of the few pitchers in recent history to pitch well at High-A Lancaster, posting a 1.78 ERA, albeit in 12 games. He's continuing to move up the ladder quickly, owning a 2.43 mark in the Texas League while striking out over a batter per inning. More interesting than anything else is the fact that the days between his outings have been increased of late, as have his innings, including Tuesday night's career high. Is starting in his future? He certainly has the full arsenal for it, with both a two- and four-seam fastball, plus a slider and a solid changeup.

Sleeper Alert

Brandon Waring, 1B, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)
Tuesday's stats: 2-for-3, 2B, HR (1), 5 RBI, BB
A seventh-round pick in 2007 by the Reds, Waring hit 20 home runs last year at Low-A Dayton. He was included in the off-season deal that sent catcher Ramon Hernandez to Cincy. He upped the power ante this year, hitting 26 bombs in 128 games for High-A Frederick, and the onslaught has continued with an impressive Double-A debut. A big slugger who takes a big hack, Waring's batting averages fail to impress, so he'll need to keep hitting balls out of the park, but so far, so good.


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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