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October 19, 2009

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Chris Carter, 1B, Athletics (MEX: Guasave)
The Mexican Pacific League is a unique place to play. Filled with pitchers from the home country, there's rarely any need to bring a radar gun to the game, as fastballs ranging in the 80s are the norm, but they can all spin a breaking ball. That's led to a combination of dominance (four home runs in 28 at-bats), and embarrassment (14 strikeouts) for Carter, who still needs to adjust to non-fastball offerings, both in recognizing and lunging at secondary stuff. He'll see a steady diet of the off-speed pitches next spring, and how many adjustments he can make between now and then will determine just how much more time the slugger needs at Triple-A.

Brian Dopirak, 1B, Blue Jays (VEN: Magallanes)
Is he a prospect again, or isn't he? Once the top prospect in the Cubs system after nearly setting a Midwest League record in home runs as part of a .307/.363/.593 line at Low-A Lansing in 2004, Dopirak went from hitting 39 home runs to just one in Double-A two years later. Picked up off the scrap heap by the Jays, he had a 959 OPS for High-A Dunedin last year, but it was mostly written off as a 24-year-old vet in a league where he was bound to overmatch far less experienced pitching. This year was another story however, as between Double- and Triple-A, he kept on mashing, racking up a final line of .317/.371/.549 with 42 doubles and 27 home runs. He's kept it up in Venezuela, going 3-for-5 with a double, home run, and four RBI on Sunday, and he just might get a real look in the big leagues at some point in 2010. While all the calls and notes to review are still a long way off, he's on the short list of Blue Jay prospects to inquire about come Top 11 time.

Cale Iorg, SS, Tigers (AFL: Peoria Javelinas)
The Tigers surprised everyone by picking Iorg in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. Not that his talent didn't merit the selection-it actually was deserving of a much higher selection-but he hadn't played for two years while serving on a Mormon mission, and he was expected to re-start his college career. Nearly $1.5 million ended any thoughts of that, and it looked like a sound decision when Iorg showed plus defensive skills and surprising pop in his full-season debut. Pushed to Double-A this year, Iorg clearly hit a wall, batting just .222/.274/.336 for Double-A Erie while striking out 149 times. While it's a small sample size, Iorg is 1-for-7 with four strikeouts in two Arizona Fall League games, and one scout commented, "I like the tools and what he does with the glove... but he just can't hit."

Daryl Jones, OF, Cardinals (AFL: Surprise)
The Cardinals' breakout player of the year in 2008, Jones took one big step backwards this year, batting .279/.360/.378 in an injury-plagued 80 games for Double-A Springfield, with the most disturbing aspect being a precipitous loss of power, as he tallied just three home runs all year after hitting six for Springfield over the last six weeks of the 2008 season. Maybe Jones is being punished for a bad year by getting plunked in three of his first four games for the Rafters, but it's at least helping his on-base percentage, as he's gone just 2-for-14. In a system desperate for anything after emptying the farm for a playoff run that lasted all of three games, Jones is somebody to follow, even if it is likely that he winds up no more than a nice bench outfielder.

Andrew Miller, LHP, Marlins (AFL: Mesa)
Miller was supposed to be an established starter by now, maybe even a star-at least that's what the Marlins expectations were when they traded Miguel Cabrera to Detroit for a package that included Miller. A 6-foot-6 lefty with well above-average velocity and a plus slider, Miller should be dominant from a scouting perspective, but it just hasn't happened on the diamond. He doesn't throw enough strikes, seeming to be downright afraid to challenge hitters at times, leaving him seemingly always behind in the count, leading to walks, or grooved fastballs. He's in the deep weeds at this point, just trying to figure things out in the desert, and the reports on his first start there echoed the same story for years, as one scout said, "I just can't understand why he's not better."

Daniel Moskos, LHP, Pirates (AFL: Scottsdale)
It's not Moskos' fault that the Pirates took him with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft, yet that's all Pirates fans can think, as he's a constant reminder that the team could have had Matt Wieters. The chances of Moskos turning into a player as valuable as Wieters lie somewhere between slim and none, but he's made significant progress in the last year in upping his chances of becoming a big leaguer by focusing more on throwing strikes and generating ground balls. In three scoreless innings in the AFL, it's been four whiffs and five grounders, and while his ceiling is somewhere around nice lefty set-up guy, at least he has a ceiling again.

Wilson Ramos, C, Twins (VEN: Aragua)
While it's just nine games, one gets the feeling that this winter could end up serving as a coming out party for Ramos, who went 7-for-12 with three doubles and a home run over the weekend for the Tigres, giving him a .417/.488/.861 line so far in Venezuela. Hampered by injuries much of the year, Ramos hit .317/.341/.454 in 54 games at Double-A New Britain, but scouts always saw at least average power from him, so this surge is a welcome thing as he'll likely begin 2010 in Triple-A with a lot of attention, as Joe Mauer enters what is possibly his last year in Minnesota.

Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers (AFL: Surprise)
For many teams in June, Scheppers was just too radioactive to draft, as some were specifically told to not select him once doctors reviewed the sketchy medical history of his right arm. The thing is, there's some real magic in said limb; in his AFL debut on Friday, his fastball sat at 95-98 mph over a pair of scoreless innings. He's still a risk, but seemingly a risk well worth taking, and he just might be the Rangers shut-down closer of the future.

Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins (AFL: Mesa)
I'm the first to admit that I'm not one of the numbers geniuses around here, but I'm pretty sure an .889 BABIP is not sustainable. That's where Stanton sits after four games with the Solar Sox, going 8-for-15 with six whiffs. Oh yeah, and there's the home run he hit on Saturday which one team official in attendance estimated at traveling, "a mile... maybe a mile and a half." Despite all the strikeouts, his talent, at his age, remains awfully special.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP Nationals (AFL: Phoenix)
I got a message from a scout on Friday who wondered if somebody is blogging Strasburg's bowel movements at this point. Never has a non-big leaguer received this much attention, but it's not as if we are going to glean much of anything from his time here. His first pitch on Friday night registered at 99 mph, and he finished the night with 3 1/3 scoreless innings, getting pulled after hitting a pitch count of 50. He whiffed two, the other eight outs were all of the ground ball variety, and it's nothing new, just a reinforcement of the fact that the guy is going to be a stud.

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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