keyboard_arrow_uptop

Not sticking to one league this time, let’s go around the
country to see what scouts are saying about some of the top prospects in the
game… and some not so top prospects as well.

  • We start in Oklahoma, where one scout recently caught the
    Rangers’ 1-2 punch of Edison Volquez and John Danks playing for the
    Triple-A Redhawks. The 23-year-old Volquez has a 3.21 ERA in 21 starts,
    and has limited Pacific Coast League batters to a .203 average, giving up
    just 86 hits in 120.2 innings while striking out 130, including a
    season-high 11 in his last start on July 28th before going on
    the disabled list with a strained calf muscle. “It’s going to come
    down to how much conviction you have that he can be a Pedro Martinez-lite
    kind of guy,” said the veteran scout. To earn that status, the
    Dominican righthander will need to throw more strikes, as he’s handed out
    a league-leading 72 free passes. “It remains to be seen as to
    whether he’s going to have the command and durability to be a
    front-of-the-rotation kind of guy,” added the scout. “You can’t
    not like him; it just comes down to how much you like him. He’s
    very athletic and was touching 97 mph with good life, and threw a plus
    changeup and a solid breaking ball.”
  • The 21-year-old Danks has a 5.90 ERA in eight starts and has
    surrendered 10 home runs in just 39.2 innings, but the scout still walked
    away impressed, feeling that the former first-round pick still has
    adjustments to make, as he’s been moved aggressively through the Texas system. “He’s just not going to be ready in the next year or so,” said the
    scout. “He’s sitting at 91 mph, but it’s straight and often up, so
    he’s throwing a ton of fly balls and that’s where the home runs come
    from. But the velocity is good, he’s got a strikeout curve and an above-average
    change. I really like him.”
  • Before missing three weeks with a serious ankle sprain, Cleveland outfielder Trevor Crowe was having a breakout campaign in his full-season
    debut, batting a combined .328/.442/.462 across three levels, including 52
    walks in 253 at-bats and 38 stolen bases. One scout who saw Crowe before
    the injury saw a player he had no problem with projecting as a major
    league contributor. “He can fly, and he’s a solid center fielder with
    an above-average, accurate arm,” said the scout. “There are
    certain guys out there, and Crowe is one of them,” the scout added.
    “You see them walk up to the plate and the way they carry themselves
    and go about their business and handle the strike zone and swing the bat– they just look like big leaguers.”
  • While Crowe was the 14th overall pick in last
    year’s draft, the Tribe took San Diego high school outfielder John
    Drennen
    with their next pick, 33rd overall. While Drennen
    has already had his 15 minutes of fame after taking Roger Clemens
    deep in The Rocket’s first rehab start of the year, one scout sees more
    good things ahead, but warns that Drennen is more of an average hitter
    than a real power threat. “He really can hit,” said the scout
    about Drennen, who is batting .317/.406/.456 in 78 games, and has 12 hits
    in his first 11 games for High Class A Kinston. “Everything they
    throw up there, he hits–I think he’s a .300 hitter in the big leagues
    and put a 70 [on the 20-to-80 scouting scale] on his bat.” Despite
    the home run that was a constant fixture on ESPN for 24 hours, the scout
    projects Drennen as no more than a 15-20 home run hitter in the big
    leagues, and also felt that the center fielder would eventually need to
    move to a corner outfield spot. “He throws ok and he’s an average
    runner with barely enough range now,” the scout added. “I have
    a lot of trouble thinking he can stay there.”
  • Another Indians farmhand, 2004 third-round pick Scott
    Lewis
    had logged just 21 innings as a pro entering the 2006 season due
    to a variety of injuries, but the 22-year-old lefty has had an outstanding
    year at High Class A Kinston, leading the minor leagues with a 1.41 ERA in
    89.1 innings, while allowing just 66 hits and 18 walks and striking out an
    even 100. One scout who recently evaluated Lewis saw a pitcher for whom
    the stats did not match the stuff. “He doesn’t have what you’d think
    he’d have based on those numbers,” said the scout. “His
    fastball is 87 mph but he’s striking guys out with it and has a big curveball.” The scout was not convinced that Lewis’ repertoire would work at the upper levels, however. “He gets tons of swings and misses on
    balls outside the zone–more advanced hitters might be laying off those
    pitches.”
  • To the west coast we go, where one scout recently caught
    the Lancaster JetHawks and outfield sensation Carlos Gonzalez. The
    20-year-old Venezuelan is batting .310/.367/.566 and when he
    ranked as the No. 3 corner outfield prospect in the minors
    this week,
    I wrote about how all scouts use the word ‘easy’ when describing Gonzalez–and this evaluator was no different. “He has a real easy swing
    and he never panics at the plate or rushes things,” said the scout, “He
    has a lot to like–he almost reminds me of Carlos Beltran.”
    At the same time, the scout has some concerns about Gonzalez’ approach. “I’m
    not ready to anoint him yet,” he joked. “He’s got holes
    both in and away because he tries to pull the ball too much–he’s got some
    adjustments to make.” The scout does have one piece of unsolicited advice
    for Arizona, however, concerning their young prize. “He has great instincts
    defensively and is very good going back on balls–why not try him in center field?
    I know Chris Young is pegged there for the future, but they could always
    move Gonzalez back.”
  • The current center fielder at Lancaster is 22-year-old Chris
    Rahl
    , and the 2005 fifth-round pick is batting a nifty .343/.374/.530
    and leads the minor leagues with 147 hits. The scout, however, was not
    impressed with what he saw. “He’s a fringy guy for me–those are
    way inflated numbers,” he said. “He has no power, no plate
    discipline, he’s just OK in center–I know he’s on a roll, but I’m not
    jumping on that bandwagon.”
  • The scout was equally uninspired by JetHawks second
    baseman Emilio Bonifacio, despite his impressive .320/.371/.435
    line. “He can fly, no question about that,” said the scout
    about the 21-year-old Dominican who leads the California League with 44
    stolen bases. “But he has too many strikeouts for a speed demon and
    he’s not a great defender, so there’s no versatility there. If you can’t
    project him as an everyday guy, he’s fringe, because he can’t play on the
    left side of the infield.”