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February 2, 2012

16

The story of the day, in what has been a slow news week, is Edwin Jackson signing a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals. There are plenty of people out there doing the smart, prudent thing by talking about what this means for the team in 2012, and how a crowded fight for the final spot in the Nationals rotation will work out. Unfortunately, that's not how my mind works. When I think about Edwin Jackson, the first thing I think about is September 9, 2003.

While Jackson has proven to be a durable starter with the occasional flash of brilliance, there was a time when he was arguably the best pitching prospect in the game. A sixth-round pick in 2001, Jackson drew more interest from scouts as a raw, but tantalizing five-tool center fielder, but his athleticism provided equal intrigue on the mound. After pitching and hitting in the complex league during his pro debut, he moved to the mound full time in 2002 and his stock began to explode. He put up a 1.98 ERA in 19 starts for Low-A South Georgia, which prompted a two-level jump to Double-A in 2003, where he struck out 157 over 148 1/3 innings as a teenager.

While the Dodgers were a winning team in September of 2003, they were still well behind a Giants team that would go to win 100 games. Thus, they rewarded some prospects with September looks, including Jackson, who made his debut in Arizona pitching against Randy Johnson, who was having one of his few bad years. It was Jackson's 20th birthday, and he was spectacular, allowing one run on a sacrifice fly over six innings while giving up four hits and striking out four. He was as good as advertised, and looked like a sure-fire superstar, but for whatever reason, the development just stopped from there.

To watch Edwin Jackson more than eight years after that eye-opening debut, he's still almost the exact same pitcher. He still parks his fastball at 94-96 mph while touching 99, but the slider is still a tease, as he mixes in true wipeout versions with ones that just sweep across the plate, while he's never gotten much velocity separation from his average changeup. He's lowered his walk rate at a slow but steady pace, yet is still an inefficient pitcher who averaged just under 100 pitches per six innings in 2011. He's hardly bad, he's just frustrating because he's not better. There's no obvious reason for his stagnation. We can talk about the age ranges for when players peak, but nothing is absolute, and some hit their apex early, and some late. Still, all I can think about right now is watching that 20-year-old in September of 2003 and thinking I was witnessing something magical.


October 20, 2011

20

The World Series is a wonderful, thing, but here's a reminder that once the post-season ends, prospect ranking season begins. Once again, I'll be talking to scouts and various front office officials to rank each teams Top 20 prospects, with in-depth scouting reports on the Top 11 for each team. Last year, I began doing the teams in draft order, and that will continue this year. Thus, here's the order.

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Kansas City Royals
  6. Chicago Cubs
  7. San Diego Padres
  8. Pittsburgh Pirates
  9. Florida Marlins
  10. Colorado Rockies
  11. Oakland Athletics
  12. New York Mets
  13. Chicago White Sox
  14. Cincinnati Reds
  15. Cleveland Indians
  16. Washington Nationals
  17. Toronto Blue Jays
  18. Los Angeles Dodgers
  19. Los Angeles Angels
  20. San Francisco Giants
  21. Atlanta Braves
  22. St. Louis Cardinals
  23. Boston Red Sox
  24. Tampa Bay Rays
  25. Arizona Diamondbacks
  26. Detroit Tigers
  27. Milwaukee Brewers
  28. Texas Rangers
  29. New York Yankees
  30. Philadelphia Phillies

I love doing these lists, and based on our traffic figures, you sure love reading them, so enjoy the World Series, and once it's over, you'll see how the Astros have improved through trades, and then get 29 more lists with scouting reports as the off-season rolls on.


October 18, 2011

10

Off days in both Venezuela and the Dominican, so a quickie . . . 

  • Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (AFL: Rafters): 3-for-5, HR (1), R, 3 RBIs. 15 RBIs in nine games (yes, I know it's not an important stat, but sometimes numbers can just be cool, no?).
  • Matt Dominguez, 3B, Marlins (AFL: Saguaros): 3-for-4, 2B, HR (2), R, 6 RBIs. Hoping to build some momentum to competing for big league job next year; but that was the case last year at this time, no?
  • Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Braves (AFL: Saguaros): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. Best start of three for 2011 first-round pick; offers more assurances than upside.
  • Grant Green, OF, Athletics (AFL: Desert Dogs): 3-for-5, 3B, 2 R. Hitting well, but this experience is all about his development in the outfield.
  • Robbie Grossman, OF, Pirates (AFL: Solar Sox): 2-for-4, HR (4), 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 K, CS. Trying to prove he has to tools for a corner, and doing a good job of it so far.
  • Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Blue Jays (AFL: Desert Dogs): 4-for-4, 3 3B, R, 4 RBI. Was 2-for-24 heading into the game; best case scenario is still every day plus defender who hits eighth.
  • Dixon Machado, SS, Tigers (AFL: Rafters): 2-for-3, 3B, 2 R, BB. 19-year-old Venezuelan is among youngest players in the league. Plus defender with questionable bat.
  • Joe Mahoney, 1B, Orioles (AFL: Solar Sox): 3-for-5, 2 2B, HR (1), 2 R, 3 RBI, K. Beast (6-6, 240) of a human who needs to prove he can stay healthy and hit for power; 12 total bases in two games.
  • Jefry Marte, 3B/1B, Mets (AFL: Javelinas): 2-for-3, HR (2), 2 R, 3 RBI. 20-year-old is a bit of a bat in search of a position; home runs in back-to-back games.
  • Jean Segura, SS, Angels (AFL: Scorpions): 2-for-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI, CS. Trying to make up for lost 2011 regular season, like Green this is more about his defensive than offensive development.

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