(5-5 in last ten games; 51-33 overall)
Despite the complete freefall of the Diamondbacks, they’re
still just three games out of first place, which means we are still unsure as to
whether the plethora of big name prospects at Tucson
will be showing up in Arizona
this year or next. That said, there has been
some stagnation. After a great start, shortstop Stephen Drew hit
just .224 in June with one home run, and is at
.283/.340/.443 overall. Outfielder Carlos Quentin (.285/.410/.470)
continues to reach base like a machine, but the power (7 home runs in 281
at-bats) is a disappointment. There is good news on the mound, however, as
2005 draftee Micah Owings excelled in a surprisingly aggressive opening
day assignment at Tennessee,
and is 4-0 in his first four Pacific Coast League starts. The former
two-way star at Tulane is also batting .316/.308/.500 at the plate with 11 RBI
in 38 at-bats. Meanwhile in the bullpen, reliever Tony Pena–the
former Adriano Rosario who was a highly-publicized age-gate/buscando
story a couple of years back–has a 0.89 ERA in 17 games with six saves,
thriving now that he’s out of the rotation and can focus on his fastball/slider
While the Smokies averaged fewer
than four runs per game in June, there is some good news in the form of
resurgent corner infielder Jamie D’Antona, who starred with Quentin and Conor Jackson in the California League two
years ago but has done little since. After hitting just nine home runs in
144 Double-A games entering the season, the former Wake Forest
star is batting .278/.362/.488 with 12 long balls. Now if only outfielder
Jon Zeringue (.217/.289/.310), who hit just .192 in June with exactly one
extra-base hit, could also find his stroke. On the mound, righthander Garret
Mock has always owned some of the best stuff in the organization, and his
performance might be finally catching up after quality starts in six of his
last seven outings.
High Class A Lancaster
As hot as Carlos Gonzalez has been, shortstop Mark
Reynolds has been even hotter, batting .336/.422/.660 while leading the
California League in home runs (21) and RBI (71). At 23, Reynolds is a
little old for the league, and few scouts see him staying at
shortstop or maintaining this level of production as he moves up. With
lefty Matt Chico and righty Matt Green moving up to Double-A,
there is almost nothing left pitching-wise, as evidenced by a 6.36 team ERA in
June. Righthander Kellen Raab’s
numbers almost look like a mistake, with a 7.86 ERA in 16 starts while allowing
a whopping 139 hits in 79 innings. That’s a .392 opponent average.
Low Class A South Bend (8-2; 42-35)
Outfielder Justin Upton‘s numbers aren’t bad at
.278/.346/.410, but everyone expected more. We thought he’d have more
than five home runs in 234 at-bats, we thought he’d have more than eight stolen
bases, we thought we’d be wondering about a promotion to the California League
by now. 23-year-old catcher Frank Curreri
got some big money as a late pick, and he’s not without skills, batting
.285/.411/.415. At the same time, he’s been injury prone and is well
behind the development curve. You always have to root for a 50th-round
draft pick, and reliever Kyler Newby,
the team’s final pick in 2004, is the new closer for the Silver Hawks, with a
1.47 ERA in 10 games and 26 strikeouts in 18.1 innings.
One easy way to lose 11 of 14 games is to bat .211/.289/.295
as a team in the Northwest League. At least third-round pick Cyle Hankerd
(.358/.414/.453) is holding up his end of the deal.
Jason Neighborgall continues to flash the incredibly
frustrating combination of some of the best raw stuff in the minors, and
absolutely the worst control. In 4.1 innings, Neighborgall has struck out
seven, but he also has a 14.54 ERA thanks to ten walks and eight wild pitches.
Springs (3-7; 34-50)
(.291/.357/.592) has been the best performer on a pretty bad team, but he’s
blocked by Todd Helton and as a nearly 27-year-old one dimensional
slugger, he doesn’t have much trade value… not that the Rockies
aren’t trying. The best prospect on the team now is catcher Chris Iannetta, who had a huge half-season in Tulsa and is
6-for-21 with a home run and three walks so far at Triple-A. In his last
five starts for Tulsa, righthander Ubaldo
Jimenez gave up just one run and 10 hits in 32 innings, but his debut with
the SkySox lost that momentum, as the 22-year-old Domincan gave up six runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings.
It’s been a tough run for the system’s top two prospects of
late. Third baseman Ian Stewart (.261/.339/.452) continues to just
be pretty mediocre, as his regressing ratios are becoming a concern.
YEAR LEVEL AB/HR AB/BB
2004 Lo-A 16.8 7.7
2005 Hi-A 25.6 8.4
2006 AA 52.2 10.9
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki
is also in a funk, batting just .217 in June to drop his season averages to
.275/.346/.463. After batting .332/.418/.605 last year at Modesto, outfielder Joe
Gaetti continues to hit (.298/.378/.548), but
he’s nearly 25 years old and limited to left field. With Jimenez moving
on, the most interesting arm might be Panamanian closer Manny Corpas, who has a 0.98 ERA in 34 appearances and a 35/4
K/BB ratio thanks mostly to excellent command of a low-to-mid 90s fastball.
High Class A Modesto (2-8; 36-43)
It’s a non-descript team with a non-descript record.
Outfielder Matt Miller (.303/.363/.472) is the team’s top hitter, and
was the South Atlantic League MVP last year, but he’s a fringy prospect at best
thanks to his age and limited defensive skills. The Rockies
system has more raw-armed pitchers than most, and righthander Franklin
Morales is the poster boy for them, as he has more than a strikeout per
inning with 88 in 82.2 innings, but also has 47 walks, 10 hit batters and 13
Low Class A Asheville (6-4; 42-39)
Outfielder Dexter Fowler has the best tools in the
system and has returned after missing more than a month with an ankle injury,
and that’s good news: he leads the team in OPS at .310/.382/.495 in what is
that system’s breakout performance of the year. Shortstop Chris Nelson–the team’s top pick in 2004–has rebounded nicely from last year’s nightmare to
hit .280/.344/.441. 2005 first-round pick Chaz
Roe joined the rotation in mid-May, but he’s been hit hard in eight starts,
giving up 49 hits in 42.2 innings with a 4.22 ERA.
Short-Season Tri-City (6-8)
Righthander Shane Lindsay just keeps rolling along,
as the 21-year-old Aussie has 25 strikeouts in 16 innings while allowing just
Outfielder Kevin Clark (.250/.375/.350), a
sixth-round pick last June, has tons of raw power, a good feel for the strike
zone, and a long swing (14 Ks in 40 AB).
Vegas (4-6; 42-42)
With all the injury fill-ins at the big league level, there
isn’t much left to talk about here, although infielder Willy Aybar may
have a bit of big league-itis, going 4-for-32 (.125) since his return.
The same might be true for first baseman/third baseman/left fielder/we don’t
know where to put him Joel Guzman, who is 12-for-50 with 15 whiffs since
coming down. Lefthander Greg Miller had some minor control issues
at Jacksonville that have become major ones with the Stars, as the former top
prospect has given out 17 free passes in 17.1 innings.
In a bit of a domino effect, the Jacksonville
roster has been raided by Las Vegas
as they’ve lost their players to the major leagues. The best position
prospect still around is slick-fielding shortstop Chin-lung Hu, who has slumped to .261/.333/.322. After
that, we’re stuck talking about guys like Brad Cresse
and Craig Brazell. Closer Mark
Alexander has a 0.77 ERA in 30 games with 55 strikeouts in 35 innings, but
he’s a weird one who pitches semi-backwards–using a nice slider to keep
hitters off balance when he throws his average heater.
High Class A Vero Beach (3-7; 29-49)
Second baseman Blake DeWitt is having a strange season
in that he’s coming into his power with six home runs in his last 15 games, and
he’s drawing walks at an unprecedented rate, yet he’s also batting .213 in his
last 25 games and .266/.343/.409 overall. Also on the strange front is
injury-plagued first baseman Cory Dunlap, who has a .223/.402/.415 line
thanks to 39 walks and seven home runs in 130 at-bats. On the pitching
side of things the Dodgers have another elite arm coming up with power lefty Scott
Elbert, who has allowed three runs in his last six outings while striking
out 13.5 per nine.
Low Class A Columbus (5-5; 42-39)
At .285/.442/.556, 2005 third-round pick Sergio Pedroza is positioning himself as a future Three True
Outcomes hero. In 277 at-bats, Pedroza has 17
home runs, 64 walks and 79 strikeouts. As a player coming out of a big
time college program (Cal State Fullerton), Pedroza
needs a stronger challenge. Jonathan Meloan didn’t join the Catfish until late May,
but the 2005 fifth-round pick has
been ridiculous as the team’s new closer, allowing four hits in 17.1 innings and
striking out 33.
One of the top high school pitchers in Maryland state history, 2005 13th-round
pick Steven Johnson has been missing bats left and right with the
Raptors. After whiffing nine in 4.1 innings in his first start of the
year, he whiffed eight in six one-hit innings in start number two and had a
career-high 10 in seven shutout innings on Sunday.
Rookie-Level GCL Dodgers (9-2)
2006 first-round pick Clayton Kershaw made his season
debut last week, striking out three in two shutout innings.
Yes, Jack Cust is still
around, and yes, he can still rake, as evidenced by his .292/.458/.528
averages. No, he’s not a prospect, especially in a national league
organization, where gloves are also required. Paul McAnulty
(.321/.410/.538) and Jon Knott (.266/.337/.525) are two more good hit/bad field options. Sent over from Boston when the Sox reacquired Doug Mirabelli, reliever Cla
Meridith has a 1.39 ERA in 24 games and looks
every bit like a future middle reliever. Meanwhile, we have to wonder if
former first round pick Tim Stauffer, who has allowed 115 hits in 95
innings while striking out 51, will ever end up to be even that.
Catcher George Kottaras is still the team’s top
statistical performer at .278/.395/461 despite a tough June in which he hit
.198 with just four extra-base hits. It’s a miserable offensive team that
averaged just under four runs per game in June.
Acquired from the Rangers, former big-budget signing Vince Sinisi (.256/.330/.367) is still a left fielder who
doesn’t hit much. Lefthander Sean Thompson has given up two
earned runs over 21.1 innings in his last two starts, but as an undersized guy
who depends on a plus curveball, his future is likely in the bullpen.
High Class A Lake Elsinore
While enormous catcher Colt Morton (.242/.391/.431)
has reduced his strikeout rate dramatically, it’s had no effect on his average,
and his power (five home runs in 153 at-bats) has dipped significantly.
Third baseman Chase Headley has had a steady full-season debut at
.274/.367/.432, but he’ll need to tap into some power or hit for an higher average to take advantage of his on-base skills to
bake it as an everyday player at the hot corner. Manny Ayala
starred in the Golden League last year, and while the Padres delve into the indy leagues like no other team,
Ayala is unique in that he’s just 21 years old. Pitching out of the
Storm’s bullpen, he’s allowed just 14 hits and four walks in 21.1 innings.
Low Class A Fort
Wayne (5-5; 37-41)
While a number of nagging injures has limited catcher Nick
Hundley to 17 games since June 1, he sure has hit when he’s in the lineup,
batting .403 with eight home runs in 67 at-bats, and .295/.377/.513
overall. As impressive, but like Hundley a little old for the league is
outfielder Will Venable, who is batting .331/.411/.482 under the
tutelage of hitting coach Max Venable, his father. 2004
first-round pick Matt Bush is back after missing the first half of the
season with a broken ankle and batting .273/.400/.333–which does seem like
some kind of progress.
First-round pick Matt Antonelli
(.326/.483/.395) has scored 11 runs in 13 games thanks in part to 13 walks
in 43 at-bats and six stolen bases.
Rookie-Level AZL Padres (5-4)
Supplemental first-round pick Kyler
Burke (.256/.318/385) and third-rounder Cedric Hunter
(.282/.383/.385) form one of the more athletic outfield combinations in the
I’m throwing my support once again behind Freddie Lewis,
who has moved back to center field and is batting .264/.381/.454. As you
can see by the numbers, Lewis is loaded with secondary skills, and he’s also
the best prospect in an otherwise yawn-inducing lineup. After a
blistering first half in the California League, righty Nick Pereira was
jumped all the way to Fresno
with predictable results (5.82 ERA). Meanwhile, Merkin
Valdez continues to see his stock tumble with a 6.30 ERA coming out of the
bullpen. Yes, that really is former No. 1 overall pick Matt Anderson
also pitching in the bullpen. No, he hasn’t
gotten any better (8.79 ERA).
disappointing season–in which he hit just .272/.324/.446 in 27 games–is basically over before it even began after surgery
on his left shoulder in late June. He’s not the only disappointment for
the Defenders as outfielder Nate Schierholtz (.234/.293/.318) hit just
.137 in June for a team that went 7-21 while scoring a grand total of 66
runs. Despite a couple of major league looks, first baseman Travis
Ishikawa (.245/.315/.438) hasn’t exactly deserved them.
High Class A San Jose (7-3; 48-32)
The team is winning despite a prospect-less offense, as the
one real prospect on the team is the disappointing Marcus Sanders
(.213/.302/.265) who is out with in injury. The pitching staff features
arguably the best bullpen in the minor leagues, and while no one is
a significant prospect, Darren Sack (0.63 ERA), Nathan Pendley (0.90), Brian Anderson (1.13) and Justin
Hedrick (1.27) have combined to allow 69 hits in 131 innings while striking
out 170. It’s like the Nasty Boys plus one.
Low Class A Augusta (7-3; 47-34)
As a fourth-round pick last June, outfielder Ben Copeland
(.286/.360/.413) has come on with the warm weather, batting .400 in his last 13
games. More good news on the mound, as fifth-round pick Dan Griffin
had a 1.86 ERA in five June starts with 30 strikeouts in 29 innings. At
6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Griffin
has a low-90s fastball and knows how to use his height to his advantage.
Staying on the dominant-yet-fringy reliever tip, closer David Quinowski is a small lefty who has given up just 24
hits in 47 innings.
Supplemental first-round pick Emmanuel Burriss (.208/.333/.271) has struggled while everyone
waits for recently signed first-round pick Tim Lincecum
to show up.
Rookie-level AZL Giants (8-1)
19-year-old shortstop Sharlon
Schoop hit for the cycle on Sunday and is
18-for-36 with eight walks and zero strikeouts in 10 games.
Thank you for reading
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