This is part two of a four-part series in which we’ll look
at which players saw their stock rise and fall the most in each organization.
We continue today with the American League, and the bad news. Disappointments come
in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be related to performance, or
injuries, or both.
After an impressive pro debut, 2005 first-round pick Brandon
Snyder couldn’t keep his average above the Mendoza line (.194/.237/.340) in
his full-season debut at Low Class A Delmarva, and didn’t look much better at
short-season Aberdeen. The nightmare ended with rotator cuff surgery in August
that will force him to miss the first part of the 2007 season.
Honorable Mention: After missing all of 2005
recovering from shoulder surgery, outfielder Val Majewski struggled
through a .260/.344/.381 season at Triple-A Ottawa. Entering the season with
34 saves and professional ERA of 1.96, the O’s decided to see if lefty Dave
Haehnel could do the same as a starter. After a 6.22 ERA for High Class A
Frederick, the answer is a resounding No.
Boston Red Sox
When the Red Sox drafted Craig Hansen with one of
their first-round picks last year, he was expected to be a bullpen fixture by
now. Instead he’s bouncing between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket while not
pitching especially well at either location.
Honorable Mention: 2005 supplemental first-rounder Jed
Lowrie hit .328/.429/.448 in his pro debut, but he limped to the finish
with High Class A Wilmington at .262/.352/.374. Outfielder Luis Soto
got a second crack at full-season ball and hit just .230/.267/.354 in an
injury-plagued year with Low Class A Greenville.
Chicago White Sox
Last year, lefthander Ray Liotta led the Sally League
with a 2.26 ERA and was even better after a promotion to High Class A
Winston-Salem, with a 1.45 ERA in eight starts. As well as things went last
year, they were equally awful in 2006, as Liotta had a combined 5.89 ERA in 28
games, including an 8.08 mark after getting demoted back to the Carolina League.
Honorable Mention: After leading the Southern League
with a .331 batting average last year, outfielder Jerry Owens never got
going at Triple-A Charlotte, batting .262/.330/.346 when the team could have
used a first-half alternative to the struggling Brian Anderson. Which
leads us to the point that big time prospect Chris Young is now patrolling
center field for Arizona while Javier Vazquez has an ERA approaching five.
After batting .308/.349/.513 in his pro debut, including six
home runs in his first ten games, 2005 second-round pick Stephen Head
never got on track at High Class A Kinston, finishing at .235/.319/.377.
Honorable Mention: Righty Fausto Carmona split
time between Triple-A Buffalo and Cleveland, but struggled in getting hitters
out at both places. The injuries continued to add up for first baseman Michael
Aubrey, who played in just 14 games after appearing just 28 times last
Which number are you going to believe when it comes to 2005
Florida State League MVP Brent Clevlen? The .379/.419/.862 line in 29
big league at-bats? Or the .230/.313/.357 line at Double-A Erie in 395
at-bats? Go with the sample size.
Honorable Mention: After a solid full-season debut in
2005, toolsy outfielder Jeff Frazier hit just .228/.279/.346 at High
Class A Lakeland. Third baseman Kody Kirkland slugged a career-high 22
home runs at Double-A Erie, but he also hit just .217 and had 167 strikeouts
against only 26 walks.
Kansas City Royals
Shortstop Chris McConnell entered the season with a
career batting average of .333 in 107 games, but his full-season debut
necessitated a search for something lower than the Mendoza line, as he hit just
.172/.254/.201 for Low Class A Burlington.
Honorable Mention: Shortstop Jeff Bianchi now
has a career batting average of .414 as a pro. He also has played just 40
games, none of them outside of the Arizona Rookie League, and he’s a
19-year-old with a chronic back problem. Sure, High Desert is a nightmare for
pitchers, but million-dollar draft-and-follow Luis Cota couldn’t keep
his ERA under seven.
Los Angeles Angels
Catcher Jeff Mathis was finally handed the keys to
the car and he promptly went out and crashed it into a tree, going 4-for-39
(.103) in 12 games and finding himself back at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he hit
a respectable but not mind-blowing .289/.333/.430. Like Casey Kotchman and Dallas
McPherson, time is starting to run out.
Honorable Mention: Mark Trumbo is looking more
like an actual 18th-round pick, as opposed to an 18th-round
pick who got a $1.425 million bonus after hitting .220/.293/.355 for Low Class
A Cedar Rapids. Two years ago, righty Steven Shell led the California
League with 190 strikeouts. After putting up a 4.56 ERA in the Texas League
last season, the downward spiral continued with a 6.16 mark for Triple-A Salt
Entering the year generally regarded as the best pure hitter
in the system now that Jason Kubel in the big leagues, third baseman Matt
Moses struggled in the big jump to Double-A, batting just .249/.303/.386.
He’ll likely get another year to enjoy New Britain and its surroundings.
Honorable Mention: 2004 first-round pick Trevor
Plouffe saved his season by hitting .299 after August 1, but his final line
of .246/.333/.347 still leaves much to be desired. Fellow 2004 first-rounder Kyle
Waldrop‘s inability to miss bats (87 Ks in 155.1 IP) remains a big concern.
New York Yankees
After batting .313/.365/.427 at short-season Staten Island, the Yankees thought 18-year-old shortstop Eduardo Nunez had the
skills and the makeup to handle a jump to the High Class A Florida State
League. After batting .184/.223/.340 in 37 games at Tampa, things didn’t get
much better at Low Class A Charleston, where he hit just .227/.278/.294.
Honorable Mention: Eric Duncan bombed out at
Triple-A Columbus (.209/.279/.255), and one strong month at Trenton couldn’t
save his final line, which finished at .234/.330/.405. Now that he’s a first
baseman, 2007 could be a make-or-break year. Tim Battle hit a miserable
.133/.184/.188 in 36 games for High Class A Tampa and now has 459 career
strikeouts in 356 games.
2005 first-round pick Cliff Pennington got off to a
miserable start at High Class A Stockton, going just 8-for-78 in (.108) in April
and needing a 3-for-3 night on June 19 to bring his average over .200 for the
first time. Unfortunately, his season line of .203/.302/.277 would be his
final numbers there, as a severe hamstring strain cost him the majority of
season other than ten days of rehab in the Arizona League.
Honorable Mention: The injury bug decimated the
Athletics system this year, as good or better prospects like Daric Barton,
Travis Buck, Javier Herrera, Craig Italiano, Danny
Putnam and Richie Robnett all missed big chunks of the season. The
big prize in the Tim Hudson deal, lefty Dan Meyer continued to stink
before going under the knife for shoulder surgery.
The third overall pick last June, catcher Jeff Clement
was pushed to the Double-A Texas League and got off to a nice start, batting
.288/.386/.525 in 15 games. In May he underwent surgery to clean up both a
knee and an elbow, and when he returned, he was inexplicably bumped to
Triple-A, but inexpicable promotions were pretty common with the Mariners this
year. At Tacoma, Clement hit .257/.321/.347 with only four home runs in 245
at-bats, and why the organization puts their prize catcher at Triple-A in his
first full season when Kenji Johjima is in his first year of a three-year
contract is beyond me.
Honorable Mention: Third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo
hit .306/.359/.379 for High Class A Inland Empire, but just .185/.259/.218 in
62 games with Double-A San Antonio–and he smashed just two home runs all
year. Remember when Clint Nageotte led the minor leagues in strikeouts
thanks to a plus fastball and one of the best sliders around? Neither of those
exists anymore as the 25-year-old righty had a 5.74 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma in a
disappointing return to a starting role.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
First baseman Wes Bankston finally reached Triple-A
in his fifth year, and while he hit nearly .300, his .297/.333/.441 line shows
that he lacks the secondary skills to give the organization an upper-level
prospect at the one position where they need it the most.
Honorable Mention: It’s hard to call a young, toolsy
outfielder who hit .293/.401/.488 at Triple-A a disappointment, but Elijah
Dukes‘ ability to control his emotions declined once again, as a variety of
issues limited him to just 80 games. The Rays thought they had a steal in 10th-round
pick John Matulia last year; after batting .196/.271/.216 in the
Midwest League, and not improving much at short-season Hudson Valley, they
don’t think that anymore so much.
As the main prospect that came over from the Yankees in the Alex
Rodriguez trade, we know two things about shortstop Joaquin Arias.
Number one: scouts love his athleticism and his tools. Number two: He’s still
not a very good baseball player, as evidenced by a .268/.296/.361 season at
Triple-A Oklahoma while leading all Pacific Coast League shortstops with 24
Honorable Mention: Considered a big part of the Alfonso
Soriano deal, righthander Armando Galarraga couldn’t stay healthy,
and even when he was he had a 5.01 ERA in 70 innings. 2005 Second-round pick Johnny
Whittleman‘s full-season debut at Low Class A Clinton was a .227/.313/.343
Toronto Blue Jays
After reaching Double-A in his first full season last year,
southpaw David Purcey‘s control problems went from bad to worse, as he
compiled a 5.53 ERA in 28 starts thanks in part in 81 free passes in 140
Honorable Mention: Righthander Josh Banks had
an amazing 145/11 K/BB ratio last year, but Triple-A hitters were more than
happy to mash Banks marginal stuff in the strike zone, as the former
second-round pick had a 5.17 ERA and gave up 35 home runs. 2005 first-round
pick Ricky Romero‘s detractors wondered if he could get it done at the
upper levels without plus velocity. His ERA in the High Class A Florida State League: 2.47. His ERA in the Double-A Eastern League: 5.08.
Tomorrow: NL Leap Forwards