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Farm Report Card – Part III

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on May 29, 2006

I'll combine the final two parts into one since I'm a day late on part three.

When Yorman Bazardo came to the M's in return for Ron Villone, the first two scouts I asked about him said three words each.

"He's Esteban Yan."

At this point, the M's would be lucky if he turned out to be any better than Yan.

His velocity has been 88-92 for the entire duration of his Mariners' career, which is down 4-6 mph from the pinnacle of his prospect status with the Marlins.

His most recent start resulted in his removal, due to elbow soreness.

Command/Control: B-

Pitch Development: C-

Overall Development: C

Stock: Down

Ryan Feierabend was cruising along with satisfactory results until a two-inning, nine-run hiccup last week.

He returned Monday to go two shutout innings but was removed with an undisclosed injury.

Feierabend has fanned 6.2 per nine innings and walks just 13 batters all year, but again he's getting hit quite a bit. He's allowed 57 hits and eight home runs. At some point, the 20-year-old is going to have to start getting outs more efficiently.

Command/Control: A-

Pitch Development: C

Overall Development: C+

Stock: Holding

Oswaldo Navarro is duplicating in Double-A what Asdrubal Cabrera is doing in Tacoma – drawing walks and competing at the plate in every at-bat.

The one difference is the reason why Navarro began the year a level below that of his fellow countrymen: strikeouts.

As a table setter, Navarro's 30 strikeouts are a bit alarming, though his 29 walks help bring ignorance to the empty at-bat syndrome.

He's a fantastic defender – right there with Cabrera – so anything he does above average with the bat is a plus.

Defense: A-

Offense: C+

Development: B-

Stock: Slightly Up

Stephen Kahn has been written about quite a bit between Prospect Insider, the Seattle P-I and other online sources, so I'll keep it simple.

Kahn has three weaknesses, all three correctable, but he'll need marked improvement in all areas before reaching the bigs.

1. His command goes on vacation far too often for a late-inning reliever. As he gets challenged in the high minors his location will become much more critical as he'll learn he can't just blow everyone away.

2. Throwing strikes with his breaking ball will become necessary in Double-A. He's capable, but he throws his curve as an out pitch and tries to get hitters to chase it rather than catching them looking.

3. His fastball has good velocity but it's pretty straight and the better minor league bats will start hitting that pitch all over the ballpark. He may need to toy with a third pitch, perhaps a split-finger, or add a two-seam fastball to keep hitters from sitting dead red.

Command/Control: C-

Pitch Development: C-

Overall Development: C+

Stock: Holding

Mark Lowe continues to receive promising reports as a multi-inning relief option. One scout suggested recently that he may be in the bigs in two years with his two above-average pitches.

I'll go further and say that if he develops an above-average curve or slider to go with his improving change and 91-96 mph fastball, he may get another look as a starting pitcher down the road.

Lowe has shown plus command and a ferocious approach to his short stints from the pen.

Command/Control: A

Pitch Development: B

Overall Development: B+

Stock: Rising

Robert Rohrbaugh is turning out to be the most valuable of the pitchers drafted on the first day last June. The left-hander missed some time with a back injury but has been on a rampage ever since returning from the DL.

He's never going to be a big strikeout guy but he has plus command and has pitchability that ranks right up there with the Travis Blackley's of the world at the same stage of development.

Rohrbaugh uses a fastball in the 87-90 range to set up a curve, slider and change. His changeup is fast becoming his best pitch, but his slider maybe his most important, particularly when facing lefty bats.

Command/Control: A-

Pitch Development: C+

Overall Development: B-

Stock: Slightly Up

Emiliano Fruto is a reliever for one reason and a potential starter for four others. He's blessed with a 90-93 mph fastball with late life, a plus change that rivals any in the organization and a plus curve ball that is fastly becoming his out pitch.

He's built like a 4×4 but is relegated to relief work due to conditioning questions. He's listed at 6-2 and 230 pounds but may be closer to 250.

Until he stays in shape for extended time, he'll be at the front of a long line of capable bullpen options in the M's system.

Command/Control: C+

Pitch Development: B-

Overall Development: B-

Stock: Holding

Wladimir Balentien (top, left) is a total enigma… unless you ask roving hitting instructor Glenn Adams.

"He's just a habitual offender," said Adams. "He's come a long ways and has a long ways to go but some of his progress goes unseen in the stats. He's starting to understand what his job is at the plate."

Balentien still swings for the fences a lot, as evidenced by his 60+ strikeouts, but he does rank third in the Texas League in homers, fourth in RBI and sixth in slugging percentage.

He's hitting .266, which is a solid mark for a power bat at the Wolff, which favors pitchers a tad bit.

Defense: C-

Offense: C+

Development: C

Stock: Holding

Justin Thomas is putting up fantastic numbers in the Midwest League, with the exception of his latest outing, and really belongs in Inland Empire.

He ranks second in the system in strikeouts and is first in innings pitched, but has the advantage of the ballparks and league conditions in Wisconsin.

It's difficult to say where Thomas really is in his development at this stage.

He has shown a consistent 89-92 mph fastball, decent change and good breaking ball, but it's against hitters with little professional experience.

He'll hit the Cal League by July and then we'll see what Thomas is all about.

Command/Control: B

Pitch Development: B-

Overall Development: B-

Stock: Holding

Bryan LaHair has been among the most impressive bats in the system this season but has yet to break through into the top 10 because he lacks ideal power for the first base position and is athletically incapable of playing anywhere else.

LaHair is covering the plate well, limiting his strikeouts and putting good wood on the fastball down in San Antonio, but is having problems versus left-handed pitching.

He's destroying righties to the tune of a .377/.445/.600 with all six of his home runs, but has seven hits in 35 ABs versus southpaws. [Hargrove would have a field day with those splits]

Defense: B

Offense: B+

Development: B

Stock: Rising

– Michael Garciaparra

Defense: B-

Offense: B-

Development: B

Stock: Rising

– Jose Escalona

Command/Control: B

Pitch Development: B+

Overall Development: B

Stock: Rising

– Eric O'Flaherty

Command/Control: B

Pitch Development: B+

Overall Development: B+

Stock: Slightly Up
– Shawn Nottingham (right)

Command/Control: B

Pitch Development: B+

Overall Development: B

Stock: Rising

– Edgar Guaramato

Command/Control: B-

Pitch Development: B

Overall Development: B

Stock: Holding

– Julio Santiago

Command/Control: B

Pitch Development: B-

– Overall Development: B

Stock: Holding

Michael Saunders

Defense: B-

Offense: C-

Development: C-

Stock: Down

– Luis Valbuena

Defense: C+

Offense: C-

Development: C-

Stock: Slightly Down

– Jeffrey Dominguez

Defense: B

Offense: B

Development: B+

Stock: Rising

– Ron Garth

Defense: C+

Offense: B

Development: B

Stock: Rising

Organizational Grade:

March: C-

One-Third: C-


31 Responses to “Farm Report Card – Part III”

  1. 1996Coug said

    Am I the only one who gets the feeling that Bavasi and crew are around only to get us through the draft and they’ll be sent packing after? I like these updates, Jason. But it’s a little sobering to realize there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about other than Clement or Jones. Every one else seems like they could could break either way. >

  2. Dave Cairns said

    Thank sfor the insight into the depths of the system Jason.

    The same question I have asked you a few times, along with the guys mentioned used to sit one – Ryan Rowland-Smith …

    RSS seems to have fallen off the face of the earth since the lead up to the WBC and that was in February, it is now June (close enough).

    Any idea on his status, please ?

    He was in AA last year and surely would have been amongst this review had he been around this year.

  3. T Shot said

    Can we nickname Rohrbaugh ” Robert the Rampager” ?
    You’ve been “Rampaged”!!!!

    Good stuff keep it up….

  4. johnb said

    I don’t know if management will hold Bavasi completely responsible or not. They won’t let him go until the Fall if they decide to go that route. Serves no purpose dumping him now. Hargrove’s imminent demise really isn’t tied to Bavasi.

    Everyone has to remember that Bavasi’s first year was really put together with Pat Gillick as they made the transistion of power. To put it all on his head is a little too much.

  5. MatthewCarruth said

    Bavasi has done a decent enough job. I’d rate him somewhere in the 10-15 range of GMs in the game. He’s not the problem. Gillick/Mattox were the big problem, this team finally getting through that. Now the problems are Hargrove and the coaching staff.

  6. Re: RRS

    He’s in Peoria still and the only thing I can dig up is that he has not had surgery but that it hasn’t been determinded for sure in either direction whether he will need surgery or not.

    I expect him to pitch a little in live games before they deem it necessary for him to go further tests.

  7. J said

    Heard any news on us signing some of the DFEs? I know the information should be out there, but I haven’t been able to find it.

  8. Yeah, the M’s said it may be a pretty dry year for DFE’s. Didn’t get any top names, but I’ll ask later this week when I talk to the club again.

  9. J said

    Sort of seems like it might be. They have a couple of decent “names” in Russell and Holdzkom (though I can’t say I’m impressed with Holdzkom’s decision to abruptly stop playing at Salt Lake CC) and a projectible guy in Lindren, but otherwise it’s a bunch of guys who were at best mentioned as also rans (except maybe Contreras, who fell off badly). Some of them put otgether some nice lines, but getting a good grip on this kind of competition is difficult.

  10. Holdzkom has come up and maybe Lindy, too, but nothing serious.

    Of course, it’s a low-key thing DFE’s so I probably won’t find out until everyone else does.

    That is odd about Holdz… didn’t read that til today.

  11. Dave Cairns said


    Thanks for the RRS update.

    Great detective work as usual.


  12. Knuckles said

    Ok, I hate to sound like an idiot (since I do it far too frequently in conversations involving anything other than beer), but what is a “DFE”?

  13. DFE stands for Draft, Follow, Evaluate.

    Draft and Follow is the basic term used.

    When a team drafts a player they hold his rights until either that player appears in class at a 4 year U or until May 30 of the following year.

    Many times, Prep draftees will attend a 2-year JC as showcase to both the team that drafted them the previous year and teams for the upcoming draft.

  14. Knuckles said

    Thanks, Jason. That’s what I figured you were talking about, but wasn’t sure. And you answered the other question I had regarding the draft and follow types, so I appreciate that as well.

  15. anytime.

  16. eknpdx said

    Jose Escalona
    Command/Control: B
    Pitch Development: B+
    Overall Development: B
    Stock: Rising

    Too early for a scouting report? I recall you and JfromSeattle talking about him.

  17. It’s only early because it’d be 100% based on 1-2 scouts due to my not having seen him ever.

  18. Jerry said

    It looks like the M's didn't sign Holdzkom, but did get two others signed:

    "Other 2005 draftees who will give it another shot (the old junior college try?) next week include RHP Jonathan Holdzkom, Lincoln's brother, who was taken by the Mariners in the 15th round (the M's did sign DNFs Travis Scott and William Brown in the last couple of days)."

    Click Here For Link

  19. Andren said

    Jason, I’m curious to your thoughts about Michael Wilson. He seems to be ripping it up lately at I.E. Does he project well? Could he be moved up to AA before the end of the year?

  20. He could move up but he doesn’t excite me much at all. He’s 23 in A ball.

    I’d much rather look at Tui’s line since he returned from injury. He’s been hitting with more punch.

  21. StandinPat said

    I know Wilson’s a little old for A ball, but doesnt the fact that this is only his 2nd year in the pros cut him a little slack? I dotn expect any propsect that old in A ball to turn into a superstar, but couldnt he still project as being an avg MLB regular by 25-26?

  22. J said

    Not bad. Will Brown was one of the best pitchers they had, stats-wise, and Scott was their best hitter by a sizable margin. Stats can only tell you so much, but I can’t complain about having them.

  23. Pat,

    Wilson was drafted in 2001. This is his FIFTH season as a pro, and his THIRD year with a full-season affiliate.

    He spent the second half of 2001 and 2002 with the rookie team in Peoria.

    He’s somewhat interesting, but until he performs like this versus better competition, I’m not that excited.

    Re: DFE’s — they got those two for super cheap, too. Pretty good gets.

    J, if you shoot me what ya have on those two, I’d love to use it on the show next week. Be cool to be able to say “Joseph Yencich” on the air.

  24. J said

    I’ll dig up what I can on the two. I have a little information to go on right now, but I’m sure I could find something more.

  25. That’d be great.

    BTW… Everett starts up in 3 weeks. Shweet!

  26. J said

    I know, I’m stoked, but I’ve been stoked for a while, with the prospect of a Halman/Lo/Graterol outfield setup.

  27. And Eddy may get re-assigned from Wis, too.

  28. Jerry said

    J and Church,

    Speaking of Everett, is there any information about who will be on that roster yet?

    In particular, has there been any information about Huang getting himself to the US and possibly joining the rotation there. We could use a pleasant suprise in the farm system, and he is a good candidate.

    Also, will Uhlmansiek be in Everett this year? I would imagine so unless he has had a health setback.

    With the M’s sucking this bad, one more minor league club to follow will be nice.

  29. J said

    No real info, but I’m guessing the rotation will include Uhlmansiek, Zapata, Vega, Beus, and someone else, at least initially. Beus probably gets ‘penned once the draft returns start coming in, and I suppose there’s an outside chance that Eddy Fernandez or Huang or Will Brown sneak in there.

    Infield probably includes Jr Hargrove, Zorn, Guzman, and Bonilla to start the season, with Jair Fernandez catching, maybe splitting time with Travis Scott, depending on how they decide to use him. Danny Santin might show up at some point too, but I haven’t heard anything about him.

    The infield’s a little weak, and the pitching is in question, but the outfield and the catching should be solid.

  30. I’ll shoot out an email in two weeks to get a preview of the roster.

  31. Erik said

    Good to see Robert Rohrbaugh doing well. He’s from my hometown. They actually had a write up about him today in the newspaper about how he’s coming back from his injury. Sounds like he’s doing well and pitching even better than before.

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