Banner Day for Top Prospects
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on April 7, 2006
The M's weren't the only club to get big time performances from their top prospects on Thursday night; the crop of blue-chippers that are still in the minors had a nice 2006 debut, including a couple of professional debuts that demonstrated their prowess right off the bat – literally.
Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew made his Triple-A debut and went 2-for-5, homering in his first AB. Drew is expected to make his major league debut sometime this season, and probably at shortstop now that the club has decided to move top pick Justin Upton to center field before he ever plays a game in a pro uniform.
Los Angeles Angels masher Brandon Wood also homered on Thursday night, and added a double for the Arkansas Travelers, the Angels' Class AA affiliate in the Texas League.
LA's prospect force was just getting started, however. Howie Kendrick, the club's second baseman of the future, made his Triple-A debut and went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a stolen base.
The Angels shortstop of the future is Erick Aybar [Wood will likely slide to third for the long term] and the athletic, speedy infielder went 3-for-5 with three RBI, but committed three errors. Someone I know likes Aybar's future better than Wood's, so keep an eye on him. I disagree, though I like Aybar a ton, but if it happens, I'll drop the name.
Colorado's Ian Stewart, clearly among the top offensive prospects in baseball and the Rockies future at the hot corner, went 2-for-6 with a double and a triple in AA. Stewart, a left-handed power hitter, may not spend much time in the minors this year. He's a few healthy months from Coors Field and the start to a Hall fo Fame career.
Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies' first round pick a year ago, went 2-for-7 with two doubles in that marathon game last night against the Royals' AA affiliate in the Texas League.
Two of the top catchers in the minors took the donut last night, and tallied four strikeouts. Russell Martin (LAD) and Jarod Saltalamacchia (ATL) each went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Salty allowed two steals against him and gunned down a runner. He may be moving to first base at some point, especially with Brian McCann ahead of him on the depth chart – and McCann is really good.
Alex Gordon, last year's No. 2 overall pick, had two hits in seven ABs, doubling and homering while striking out three times. His teammate Billy Butler, the man without a position, went 4-for-8 with a double and a couple runs scored.
The game's top prospect the past two years, Delmon Young, went 2-for-5 with an RBI and B.J. Upton had two hits and did not committ and error at shortstop. Amazing.
The Dodgers righthander Chand Billingsley went five solid innings in Las Vegas (AAA) last night, allowing two earned runs, walking two and fanning three. Billingsley is the game's top pitching prospect, now that both Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano are in the bigs.
The New York Mets have a pair of top 20 prospects – Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey. Milledge played right field for Norfolk and went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Pelfrey, a righthanded pitcher, went five shutout frames for Advanced-A St. Lucie in the Florida State League. Pelfrey, a 2004 draftee, walked just one and struck out six. He'll probably see Double-A before the all-star break and could be in the bigs by September.
Pirates lefty Tom Gorzelanny went four shutout innings for Triple-A Indianapolis, allowing just one hit and fanning eight. Gorzelanny, 23, has a chance to team with Zach Duke and hand Pittsburgh a formidable rotation in 2007.
Houston's best prospect, righthander Jason Hirsch, went 4.1 strong last night, giving up just two hits and striking out five for Triple-A Round Rock.
Minnesota's best prospect, if you ask me anyways, is lefthander Glenn Perkins. Perkins was the choice the Twins got when Seattle signed Eddie Guardado… ugh. The 22-year-old went five innings last night, striking out seven against just one walk in Double-A.
For those who don't think Tampa Bay has any pitching, think again. Righthander Jason Hammel fanned seven in five scoreless innings last night in Triple-A Durham. He allowed just three hits. He'll be pitching against A-ROD before you know it.