The Braves have one of the most exciting prospects in baseball. The Devil Rays have one of the most exciting prospects in baseball. The Blue Jays have one of the most...disappointing offenses in baseball.
The Braves should be looking to the Big Apple for their toughest competition. The Devil Rays' plan to sign B.J. Upton is another bad idea. And the Blue Jays have another top pitching prospect. All that, plus much more news from Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Toronto in your Thursday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Are Johnny Estrada's numbers for the Braves indicitive of his true ability? What did the Devil Rays' young players contribute to their 12-game winning streak? Is there something behind the good months that several Blue Jays pitchers have enjoyed? This and more news from Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Toronto in your Thursday Prospectus Triple Play.
Estrada's line on the year is .333/.387/.502, which is largely out of line with the rest of his career. He's put up similar numbers in only two previous seasons: back in '97 in the short-season NY-Penn League, and last year at Triple-A Richmond. Estrada's value this season is built largely around his batting average and singles-hitting abilities. His ISO of .169 is solid but not especially strong, and he's not showing much plate discipline.
Atlanta's deal for J.D. Drew looks good, and but John Thomson hasn't lived up to hopes. Speaking of Drews, will the Devil Rays have a shot to draft J.D.'s little brother? And Toronto's large crop of top prospects are off to a mixed start in 2004. All this and much more news from Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Toronto in your Thursday Prospectus Triple Play.
Just the Way They Drew It Up: Your copy of BP 2004 calls the trade of J.D. Drew to Atlanta this past off-season "unwise" and "uninspired" from the Cardinals' standpoint. That's perhaps a little strong given the results we've seen thus far, but the Braves have the edge in the deal right now, and it's possible that gap will widen as the season progresses.
Are the Kids Alright?: Rays fans may know that B.J. Upton and Delmon Young ranked eighth and 31st, respectively, on this year\\\'s Top 50 Prospects List. Rays fans may also be wondering how they\\\'re faring so far. As always, we\\\'re built to please...
Upton is toiling for Double-A-Montgomery of the Southern League, and thus far the shortstop is hitting like a house afire. In 70 plate appearances, Upton has drawn nine walks and put up a line of .344/.429/.525. Sample-size concerns abound, but what\\\'s encouraging, even in the early going, is that Upton is showing power. Prior to this season, he\\\'d drawn walks and hit for a career average of .297, but the second overall pick of the 2002 draft had yet to show the power stroke he\\\'d displayed as a prep in Virginia. He\\\'s still appears to be terribly error-prone (nine in 13 games thus far in 2004 after recording 56 last season), but on balance he\\\'s faring very well for 19-year-old in the high minors.
As for Young, he\\\'s off to a less encouraging start in the Sally League: .237/.247/.355 in 77 plate appearances. Those numbers are ugly, but it\\\'s early. Still, Young\\\'s drawn only a single walk against 76 at-bats, which is troubling to say the least. The thing to keep in mind is that, other than a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, this is the first professional stop for Young, and the Sally League is a fairly high starting point for a high-school trained ballplayer. It\\\'s far, far too early to begin casting aspersions at his promise.
The Wright Stuff?: One of the interesting Brave subplots this year was how Jaret Wright would respond to making his first start in almost two years, and how he'd react to further instruction from the impregnable coaching chops of Leo Mazzone. So far, the results have been a mixed bag. That's progress; prior to coming to the Braves late last season, Wright's bag was most decidedly unmixed in recent seasons.
The Braves improved their staff with a couple of nice trades. Despite an excellent spring, Grant Balfour isn't the Twins' current fifth starter. And Jose Cruz Jr. has begun the season on a good foot in Tampa Bay. All this and much more news from Atlanta, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay in your Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Good Arms: The Braves made a flurry of trades in the ending weeks of spring training to bolster their pitching staff. Among the goodies received were Juan Cruz and Chris Reitsma. Both players are on the good side of 27 and have shown flashes of very strong pitching in the past. After struggling in the Reds rotation, Reitsma posted an impressive 10. Adjusted Runs Prevented (ARP) in 66.2 innings out of the bullpen. He'll give the Braves a very solid means of preserving leads for John Smoltz. Cruz may establish himself as a dominant reliever this year, but if he bombs, he'll fall into obscurity faster than The Verve Pipe. The real Juan Cruz hasn't shown up in the big leagues yet, and this could be the year we find out what he's made of. PECOTA gives him nearly equal chances of breakout and collapse, so Cox is wise to employ him in low-leverage situations until Cruz establishes his level of expected performance.
The Braves may have Hung Jaret Wright out to dry. The Twins need to find room for their 7,529 outfielders. The Devil Rays have pitching issues. These and other news and notes in this Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
He's Back... Pop quiz: which one of these players is not like the others?
The Braves may be handcuffing themselves by carrying Eddie Perez. The Twins could find a second-base solution in Michael Cuddyer. The Devil Rays have had a much tougher time developing pitchers than hitters. These and other news and notes in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Sweet Memories: Sometimes people keep mementos of lost friends and relatives. You might save Grandpa's favorite chair or a letter from a friend. It can be healthy to reflect on the good times you've had with a loved one.