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‘Round the Minors – 4.27.06

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on April 26, 2006

Taking a look around the minors at the top prospects in the game, there have been some very interesting results thus far.

A few can't-miss talents have struggled some, while others are doing their thing.

The top prospect in the game is Tampa Bay's Delmon Young (right), a five-tooler who has no weaknesses.

Young, 20, is slugging just .397 after posting a .531 SLG his first three seasons as a pro. He's yet to homer, and get this… Young threw his bat at an umpire on Wednesday after he was ejected for arguing a called strike three. He tossed the bat at the mid-section of the umpire as he barked at him. He's certain to be suspended for awhile for this – and it will delay his route to the majors.

Diamondbacks shortstop prospect Stephen Drew, a consensus Top 10 prospect, is tearing the cover off the ball in the PCL. He is aided by a sever hitter's park in Tucson, but his .325/.368/.600 line is still mighty impressive.

Drew, a left-handed hitter, is the D-backs shortstop of the future after the club moved last June's top overall pick Justin Upton to center field before he ever played a pro game.

Drew will see time in the bigs this season, and it could be very soon. He's very polished and can do everything. His six homers and 16 RBI lead the Sidewinders.

Speaking of Upton, he made his pro debut last week against the M's Midwest League affiliate in Wisconsin. He went 2-for-14 for South Bend but has three hits in his last four at-bats and has three steals. He's expected to move quickly, depending on his transition to center field, though he does have some experience playing the outfield.

He's hitting .278/381/.333 in his first five games.

LA Angels second base prospect Howie Kendrick entered this season with a career .359 average over four seasons. Well, apparently he wasn't satisfied with that and went out and hit .386 in his first three week in Triple-A. The Angels called up Kendrick Tuesday and he went 0-for-4 in his first start on Wednesday.

He'll probably never see the minors again, barring injury or a long struggle – but I wouldn't bet on that. Who wants Adam Kennedy? Anyone?

And Kendrick wasn't just hitting for average down in Salt Lake. At the time of his call-up, he was slugging .586.

Staying with the Halos, 1B/DH Kendry Morales and SS Erick Aybar are having seasons on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Morales is slugging just .378 and has a 13-1 K/BB ratio to boot. He's a man without a position so his bat is all he has.

Aybar is hitting .346/.393/.500 with 19 RBI and six steals while playing solid defense. He's a tremendous athlete whose baseball skills are endless. I like Aybar more than Kendrick because he brings plus speed and plus defense to a premium position. Kendrick isn't going to swipe many bases and is an average defender.

LAA's best pitching prospect Jered Weaver has had a solid start to his season, going 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA and 26 Ks in 23 innings. He's walked just four batters and has displayed much better stuff than he did a year ago. If Bartolo Colon is out for extended period of time, the 6-foot-7 Weaver is ready to help.

The Dodgers are another loaded farm system and it all starts with RHP Chad Billingsley (left) who is sporting a 2.21 ERA in the PCL, despite his home stadium being a big time hitter's park. Billingsley, 21, has allowed 15 hits in 20 1/3 innings and struck out 25 batters. He's the best pitching prospect in the minors and is less than a year from helping the Dodgers.

Russell Martin, perhaps the best catching prospect in the game and a teammate of Billingsley's, is hitting .296/.409/.426 with an impressive 11-7 K/BB ratio. He has moderate power potential but with catchers offense is the last thing to develop since the emphasis is greatly on their defense.

Martin will be the Dodgers backstop in 2007.

LAD's best offensive prospect is Joel Guzman, who's playing both first base and left field. The former shortstop outgrew his natural shortstop position and at 6-4 and 240 pounds, has all the raw power of a 40-homer type.

He's hitting .325/.345/.538 with four home runs, but has a terrible 21-2 K/BB ratio to clean up a bit. He's still a year from becoming a regular at Chavez Ravine, but he draws a lot of comparisons to Juan Gonzalez.

Braves catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia started off slowly but has picked it up of late. The soon-to-be first baseman is hitting .500 over his past five games and is at .258/.370/.484 with three homers for the year.

With the presence of Brian McCann, a superior defender, Atlanta is likely to slide Saltalamacchia to first base to keep his switch-hitting bat in the lineup everyday, both as he develops and after he is promoted to the bigs.

There are two blue-chip third baseman in the minors, both currently playing in Double-A Texas League. Alex Gordon (right) was the Royals' top pick last year, the second overall selection, and is lighting it up in Wichita. Gordon, 22, is hitting .321/.386/.577 with eight doubles and four home runs. He's even stolen five bases, but he does have 18 ks to just eight walks.

As soon as the left-handed hitter cleans that up a bit, he'll head off to the big leagues, and he may skip right over Triple-A Omaha. KC's current third baseman Mark Teahen is not a road block for Gordon.

Perhaps a better overall player is Rockies' third baseman Ian Stewart. Stewart, 21, is hitting .300/.374/.563 with 15 extra-base hits including 11 doubles, two triples and two bombs.

Most scouts see Stewart, also a lefty bat, as a 40+ homer guy at Coors Field with the ability to hit .290+ and play good defense at third.

His Tulsa Drillers teammate is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, whom the Mariners were 12 hours from selecting with their third pick in last June's draft.

T2, 21, is also swinging the bat well, hitting .313/.384/.484 with 10 extra-base hits. He's homerless, however, and from what I have seen of him personally, he's likely to outgrow the shortstop position.

For now, he can certainly play there and is very good defensively. I think after three to five years in the majors, Tulowitzki moves to right field, since third base will be occupied by Stewart.

And a prospect update without mentioning Brandon Wood would make zero sense. Wood hit 58 home runs last season between Rancho Cucamonga and the Arizona Fall League and is slugging .619 in the Texas League right now. His six homers are among the league leaders, but he leads the circuit in strikeouts as well. His 31-8 K/BB ratio is one reason to let him develop in Class AA all season.

He's still playing shortstop but is certain to move to third and become part of the best young infield in the game with Casey Kotchman, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, with Jeff Mathis catching.

That doesn't even include Dallas McPherson, who is likely to make the switch to the outfield if he isn't traded.

The Angels are stacked.

Photo Credits –

Delmon YoungGetty Images

Chad BillingsleyLos Angeles Dodgers

Alex GordonWichita Wranglers

Brandon WoodArkansas Travlers

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24 Responses to “‘Round the Minors – 4.27.06”

  1. Goose said

    The Angels are gonna be scary in about 3-5 years.

    Which sucks for us.

  2. I’m not convinced.

    Vlad is leaving his prime and is signed thru 2008 with a 15 mil option for 2009. I doubt he’s worth that three years from now.

    They are still void of pitching and Weaver isn’t Felix, so they’ll need an ace. Colon’s deal is up after 2007 and he certainly isn’t getting any better – or younger. He’ll make 14 mil in ’07, too, and is obviously an injury concern ashe keeps eating his way to the Wall of Shame.

    Escobar is a FA after this season… Lackey is about to become more expensive… They need a legit center fielder because Erstad sucks on both sides and is a FA at season’s end.

    Garret Anderson is only going to decline from here on out and is grossly overpaid at 23 mil in 07-08.

    Long story short, they have to maximize what they do with these prospects because they aren’t that good right now and the help they have coming is going to intervene with these long-term deals they have.

    KROD is also going to get more expensive. And remember, LAA spends dough, but they dont spend 100 mil.

    They’ll have pretty serious SP issues and their best players are aging – and very expensive.

    It’s nice to have all those prospects, but they’re better off dealing Morales, Kendrick and McPherson for some pitching. But they won’t. Stoneman isn’t as good as I thought he was.

  3. Dave Cairns said

    Jason

    Just saw a report on mlb.com that Delmom Young has been suspended indefinitely for throwing a bat at an umpire.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060427&content_id=1421241&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb&partnered=rss_mlb

    If I did that in mylocal league in Australia I would be thrown out of baseball for life instantly.

    This is not the first time Young has been in trouble for this sort of thing

  4. Willmore said

    Curiously, this mentions a ban by the International League. Now, the Devil Rays also suspended him for some minor time period (couple of weeks I think). First, do the punishments run consecutively or concurrently ? Second, can he go down to AA or the Majors and International League suspension will not count ?

  5. They havent decided how long it’s going to be for yet. They just have no doubt he’s going to get a suspension thus the “indefinite” tag.

    He’s likely to get at keast 30 games.

    Getting suspended for life is idiotic. He threw a bat at the umpf rom 20 feet away – a well-protected umpire who took the bat in the chest without one ounce of pain.

    Young is 20, clearly immature and deserves a big suspension. But it’s not like he was trying to specifically hurt the ump. If he wanted to do that he would have just swung at him while he was still in the box.

  6. dnc said

    Saw this on BA. What an opportunistic jerk Hubler is:

    Minor League Baseball is not releasing the names of any replacement umps, nor is it allowing any of its teams to do so. Chris Hubler, a striking umpire who works as a crew chief in the International League, released a statement on the incident that named the replacement umpire and uses the Young incident to try to advance the striking umps’ cause.

    “The incident . . . is unfortunate to say the least,” the statement said. “In most of my dealings with Delmon in the past, he has handled himself in a respectful, professional manner . . . I can only hope this does not tarnish the career of such a fine, young prospect. Furthermore, I would speculate the whole incident could have been avoided had properly trained, professional umpires been officiating the game.”

  7. Haha. That’s preposterous. The umpire made a call, it appeared to be at least a decent strike three call and the rest was Delmon’s doing.

    What an idiot.

  8. dnc said

    Trying to take advantage of the situation and spin it as the umps fault is low. But releasing the dude’s name is just shameless.

  9. Willmore said

    By the way, Tui went 4-4 today. No extra-base hits, but still, shows something.

  10. Willmore said

    Oh yeah, and Julio Santiago had a good start – 5IP, 2R, 1ER, 5H, 2BB, 7K.

  11. Tui has been the most disappointing prospect. No pop at all. Lot’s of dinkers.

  12. Willmore said

    Well, for one thing, it’s still early in the season. For another thing, not everyone expected him to breakout like Wood.

  13. It’s probably time to get the goods on Tui’s first month…

  14. Dave Cairns said

    Jason

    I am just leaving work on Friday afternoon. Yes we get to Friday afternoon in Australia before you do.

    Just a reminder for you can you see if you can find out the future of RRS over the weekend please ?

    A Snelling update would be great too. There does not seem to any news sources from Extended ST.

    Have a good weekend, I am envious making a living out of watching baseball (I wish).

    Cheers Dave

  15. Willmore said

    Dave, I wouldn’t envy Jason. He has to endure smelly sportswriters, daily supplies of Ramen and watching … minor league baseball. Ugh.

    Seriously, that is a pretty good way to make a living, even if it doesn’t pay much at first.

  16. marc w. said

    Dave,
    I was going to ask you something…where did the remarkable deference towards officials/umpires in Australia come from? You mentioned that you’d be banned for life for doing what Delmon did; I don’t doubt it. A friend of mine played basketball in Australia a few years back and almost got a year suspension (and a revocation of his work permit) for creating a threatening atmosphere for an official. Didn’t touch him, didn’t say anything, probably just glared.
    Note: this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a striking difference. I thought Robbie Alomar probably should’ve got more than 10 days for spitting on an ump…

    Looking forward to the Tui write-up, Jason. What an enigmatic prospect – lots of power in the AZL, and then nothing. That K:BB ratio better start turning around as well.

  17. Willmore said

    How about a switch to a bigger bat? I want at least 1 or 2 of our prospects to come up swinging some giant Paul Bunyan-sized club. It just looks so cool.

  18. marc w. said

    by the way, if anyone hasn’t seen the Delmon Young incident, there’s a video up at youtube:

    That’s more than a little flip as some have put it…looked like that bat was coming in (from off screen) at a pretty good clip. Yes, the ump has a chest protector and is fine. But it doesn’t appear to be a silly, exasperated toss – he fired that thing at the ump.

  19. Willmore said

    Wow. That was a pretty hefty toss. If it had hit the ump on the face, with his face protector off, he would have lost some teeth.

  20. JH said

    Dave,

    If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to talk to you a bit about baseball in Australia. I’ll be spending some time there this December as part of a fellowship project I’m working on and it would be nice to have someone with knowledge of local baseball to point me in the right direction.

    My email address is jhelfgott @ gmail . com.

    Thanks a lot

    -JH

  21. Dave Cairns said

    In response to Marc W.

    I know of 4 guys playing C grade amateur baseball in Sydney this last summer season who were mouthing of at the umpire in Spanish and thought no one else knew what they were saying. One of the handful of people watching spoke Spanish and told the umpire what was going on, their club threw them out and banned them for life.

    I also played on a seniior team asa junior where a teammate punched another teammate when he tagged up on a fly ball and was standing on first when the guy who hit the fly ball got to 1st. He was suspended from baseball by the league for 10 years. The most stupid thing I have seen in baseball.

    Marc W. says
    I was going to ask you something…where did the remarkable deference towards officials/umpires in Australia come from? You mentioned that you’d be banned for life for doing what Delmon did; I don’t doubt it. A friend of mine played basketball in Australia a few years back and almost got a year suspension (and a revocation of his work permit) for creating a threatening atmosphere for an official. Didn’t touch him, didn’t say anything, probably just glared.
    Note: this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a striking difference. I thought Robbie Alomar probably should’ve got more than 10 days for spitting on an ump…

  22. Dave Cairns said

    JH

    I have emailed you

    Thanks Dave

  23. To get banned for life for saying something, anything at all, is preposterous.

    Even if he told the ump he was going to hunt the umps family down and kill them one by one… banned for life?

    C’mon, sticks and stones, dudes.

  24. Mike Mullen said

    Does anyone know how I can listen to AZL Anges games live? I can’t find any lins. I found them last year. Where did they go? Please help if you can.

    Thanks,
    Mike

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