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April 18, 2014 6:11 am

Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, April 17


Jeff Moore

Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon.

Mac Williamson, OF, Giants (San Jose, A+): 2-4, 3 R, 2B, HR. We know Williamson has power. The question is whether he will hit. There’s some serious swing-and-miss to his game, but thus far in a repeat of the California League, he’s controlling the strike zone better than he did last year.

Zoilo Almonte, OF, Yankees (SWB, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. I’m almost afraid to mention Almonte because I talked about him a lot this winter, but a pair of home runs is a day worthy of any update. With the injuries the Yankees have already put up with, Almonte is just a pulled hamstring or tweaked quad away from being called on for big-league duty.

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April 10, 2014 6:00 am

Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, April 9


Jeff Moore

Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Royals outfielder Brett Eibner and Red Sox lefty Henry Owens.

Hitter of the Night: Brett Eibner, OF, Royals (Ohama, AAA): 5-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Eibner is on the fringes of prospect territory these days as a 25-year-old who hit .243 in Double-A last year, but what he can do is hit for power, and when he cuts down on the swings and misses, he can really be an impact player. It just hasn’t happened nearly enough at the upper levels of the minors to this point.

Pitcher of the Night: Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
The 21-year-old Owens kept his ERA at 0.00 on the young season with his second straight nine-strikeout performance. When he’s being consistent with his mechanics, Owens generates tremendous downward plane that is difficult to square up and features two potential plus off-speed pitches.

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Not every prospect gets scouted on their best day, and not all performances have a positive takeaway.

“Baseball is my stereo, and the deplorable mania of doubt exhausts me, and I doubt about everything, even my doubts.”  -- Gustave Flaubert

When promising physical tools and on-the-field production arrive on the scene at the same time, documenting the events and making an evaluation is relatively painless; when I see a pitcher throwing an angular fastball at 94 mph and it cruises by a swinging barrel with explosive life, my hand doesn’t strain when it puts a plus sign next to the velocity reading in my notebook. When I watch Kyle Hendricks locate a deep arsenal for eight innings, or Nick Tepesch carry the bulk of the weight of a no-hitter by showing a plus fastball/cutter combo, I get to sit comfortably in my seat, secure in my knowledge that what I’m seeing is legit, as the scouting and the production are kissing on the lips and I’m a creepy voyeur armed with a stopwatch and a smile. But what happens when the performance and the scouting aren’t compatible?

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The Royals aren't just stacked with talent at the upper levels of their system; the lower tiers also offer plenty of promise.

These are sad times for me. I’m back from my 35-day odyssey to Arizona: Back from watching baseball for seven hours per day (~245 total hours of baseball?), back from eating in chain restaurants, back from wearing shirts that I bought in Target because I didn’t mind if they spoiled from exposure, back from a reality that was part fantasy and part nightmare. I’ll produce a day-in-the-life article at some point in the not-so-distant future about the utter banality of my day-to-day existence during spring training, but first I’d like to express what makes today a sad day. (Before that, I’d just like to point out that I used seven hyphens in the previous sentence.) I’m sad because this will probably be my last article that focuses on the Kansas City Royals system, at least for a few months. I feel like a crack addict whose dealer just got busted. Sure, I can make it through the tough times by turning to other systems (Rangers, Yankees, Braves, etc.), but the Royals are the premium designer drug of choice, and I already have the shakes just thinking about the withdrawal. Have you noticed that I make an unhealthy amount of drug references in my articles? Moving on.

As promised, here is Part Two of the “Embarrassment of Riches” saga that I started last week. I wanted to make this a 10-part series that went 40 players deep, but the people who run Baseball Prospectus are smarter than I am, and they rightfully denied my request to turn the site into a Royals prospect blog. I still think “Royals Prospectus starring Jason Parks” would be a great site, but what do I know? Without further delay, here is a casual 300-word breakdown of prospect Brett Eibner, and snapshots of three additional low-level prospects to keep an eye on in the upcoming year. I’ll update their progress after the season, but until then, you will have to get your Royals fix from another source. These are sad days.

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BP's in-house guru takes his shot at projecting how team's top picks go next week.

1. Washington Nationals: This is now a no-brainer. Over the course of the spring, we've slowly gone from "Will they take Harper?" to "Will they sign Haper?" to "How much will they pay Harper?" He's going No. 1, and you could even end up seeing a creative deal that, on paper, gets him more than Stephen Strasburg received.

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