Prospect Thoughts, Notes, and Projections – 5/20

Here is the latest batch of thoughts, notes, and projections. To see where these players fit among the other top prospects in baseball, visit our ongoing Hardball Times Top 100 Fantasy Prospects.

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Gordon Beckham / SS / Chicago White Sox / Double-A / 9/16/86 / ETA: 2010 / High: #20 / Low: #25 / This Week: +3
2009 Thoughts:
I anticipate a full year of minor league ball, to good results. A September call-up could be in the cards.
Average Year Projection:
.289 / .362 / 17 HR / 37 2B / 5 3B / 77 RBI / 88 R / 64 BB / 106 SO / 8 SB / 3 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.301 / .377 / 22 HR / 40 2B / 7 3B / 84 RBI / 95 R / 70 BB / 99 SO / 11 SB / 3 CS
Notes:
5/11/09 – I really like his makeup. He doesn’t look like it, but Beckham is a pure ball player. He will be one of those pesky, tough outs, a la David Eckstein and Aaron Miles. But unlike those two, Beckham has some real pop in his bat, especially for a shortstop. Look for a typical season to net J.J. Hardy-esque stats, except Beckham should churn out a better batting average, better plate discipline, and more speed. In other words, a very good fantasy shortstop.

Carlos Santana / C / Cleveland / Double-A / 4/8/86 / ETA: 2011 / High: #21 / Low: #39 / This Week: +11
2009 Thoughts:
Anticipate a full season at Double-A Akron, and another series of stats similar to his 2008 season.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/18/09 – There are numerous catchers that post breakout numbers every year, before failing to replicate their performance the following season. I was a bit skeptical of Santana heading into the year, and thought that he might fit that category. His poor start to the year seemed to indicate so. But he has had a great May, especially from a plate discipline perspective. He has 23 walks compared to just 16 strikeouts, and plenty of pop in his bat to make him an exceptional prospect. I will not doubt Santana any longer. However, I do doubt his short-term major league playing time, as he is blocked behind the plate by Victor Martinez, and even blocked at DH by Travis Hafner. I have 2011 listed as his estimated time of arrival, and it pains me to do so. But, as it turns out, a lot of catchers don’t become big league regulars until they’re 24 or 25. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m really starting to question the way Cleveland is using their top prospects lately.

Tim Alderson / SP / San Francisco / Double-A / 11/3/88 / ETA: 2011 / High: #22 / Low: #38 / This Week: +16
2009 Thoughts:
Look for a full, successful year at Double-A Connecticut.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/18/09 – I had him way too low on my list initially, and have set out this week to right that wrong. Alderson is yet another top prospect in what has become a great Giants’ farm system. I was surprised to see him start the year in San Jose. And after a sluggish start there, it looks like a promotion to Double-A Connecticut officially got his season underway. He doesn’t possess the pure velocity of Bumgarner, but he does have a better secondary pitch than his teammate. His curveball continues to develop, and the strikeouts against good competition look like they will follow suit. His fastball may only sit in the low-90s, but there are plenty of pitchers with similar fastballs that have developed into elite starters with the help of a great secondary pitch. With continued Double-A dominance, a rise into the Top 10, among the other ace caliber starters, is not out of the question.

Michael Stanton / OF / Florida / Advanced-A / 11/8/89 / ETA: 2011 / High: #20 / Low: #23 / This Week: -2
2009 Thoughts:
The young man should get a shot at Double-A sometime this summer, but Florida won’t rush him too fast, for various reasons.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/11/09 – Everyone’s excited about this kid’s potential, and rightfully so. But I pride myself on being a realist; maybe in Stanton’s case I’m being a pessimist. His strikeouts are a huge concern. He takes some walks, but I would like to see more. Maybe that will come with age. He has one of the most powerful bats in the minor leagues, but there are very obvious holes in that swing. Those holes will be exposed in Double-A. Frustration and prolonged struggles could follow. On the other hand, he’s a very hard worker with the ability to adjust. Bottom line, it’s hard to gauge Stanton at this point. Invest cautiously.

Logan Morrison / 1B / Florida / Double-A / 8/25/87 / ETA: 2011 / High: #22 / Low: #24 / This Week: -2
2009 Thoughts:
A small wrist fracture will keep Morrison out of the lineup until June, but it’s probably one of those injuries that will linger longer than that.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/11/09 – I have never been a believer in Morrison’s home run power, but his 2008 season can’t be ignored. At this point he looks like a slightly better version of Casey Kotchman, but he has only had six career Double-A at-bats, so I’m craving more data. I obviously love his ability to hit from gap to gap and for a high average, thus the Kotchman comparisons. My crystal ball tells me that Morrison’s wrist injury will result in a lost season and a fall from the top of many top prospect lists. I’ll try to keep things in perspective. He’s a good hitter, plain and simple.

Neftali Feliz / SP/RP / Texas / Triple-A / 5/2/88 / ETA: 2010 / High: #23 / Low: #25 / This Week: -1
2009 Thoughts:
Unless his arm gets under control in a hurry, Feliz may stay at Triple-A Oklahoma City for the rest of the year. We could see some bullpen appearances as well, which is a sight that Feliz owners will frown at.
Average Year Projection:
184 IP / 3.68 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 13 W / 11 L / 191 SO / 173 H / 68 BB
Prime Year Projection:
198 IP / 3.27 ERA / 1.22 WHIP / 15 W / 9 L / 222 SO / 183 H / 59 BB
Notes:
5/17/09 – His endurance and control are starting to come around. Texas would love to use him as a starter, even though I think he would be at his best coming out of the bullpen, eventually as their closer. Ultimately, we all have to face the fact that he will be pitching in Arlington, which will hinder his chances to produce elite numbers in the majors. I like him but am skeptical of his control, poise, and situation. He has the unbridled talent to prove me wrong, though.

Kyle Blanks / 1B/OF / San Diego / Triple-A / 9/11/86 / ETA: 2010 / High: #24 / Low: #26 / This Week: -1
2009 Thoughts:Blanks should spend the entire year in Portland, as there is no reason for rebuilding San Diego to use up his service time.
Average Year Projection:
.275 / .352 / 20 HR / 30 2B / 1 3B / 91 RBI / 80 R / 69 BB / 124 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.287 / .387 / 26 HR / 34 2B / 2 3B / 101 RBI / 88 R / 79 BB / 113 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Notes:
5/18/09 – Blanks is one of my personal favorite all-around bats in the minor leagues. His Triple-A strikeout rate is a bit concerning, but his sweet swing will play in the big leagues. The problem is that he will bring that sweet swing to Petco Park, one of the more extreme pitcher’s parks in baseball, and has the team’s best position player, Adrian Gonzalez, standing in his way at first base. He is starting to get a feel for left field, but former top prospect Chase Headley is currently blocking that position as well. It’s a convoluted situation, and San Diego has never been opposed to leaving top prospects in the minors until a spot opens up naturally. Stay tuned.

Colby Rasmus / OF / St. Louis / MLB / 8/11/86 / ETA: 2009 / High: #26 / Low: #27 / This Week: -1
2009 Thoughts:Humble beginnings emanating from a prized prospect have ruined the reputations of countless players throughout the years. I don’t expect a breakout later this year after his slow start, but his reputation remains strong in my eyes.
Average Year Projection:
.272 / .354 / 17 HR / 39 2B / 5 3B / 81 RBI / 94 R / 77 BB / 114 SO / 11 SB / 3 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.285 / .376 / 23 HR / 42 2B / 7 3B / 86 RBI / 105 R / 89 BB / 103 SO / 16 SB / 4 CS
Notes:
5/19/09 – His .300/30 HR/30 SB potential has taken a hit over the last two years, but, to a degree, his bat is playing at the major league level, especially recently. He has hit two home runs and driven in five RBIs over the last four games, but he has a long way to go in order to make up for his poor start. His dynamic set of skills has yet to show itself, but time is certainly on his side. Over the long haul he may fly under the radar, but by the time he hits age 25 or 26, his five tool potential may be fully on display. A good long-term investment.

Carlos Triunfel / SS/3B / Seattle / Double-A / 2/27/90 / ETA: 2011 / High: #18 / Low: #28 / This Week: -8
2009 Thoughts
Triunfel will be shelved for the rest of the season due to a broken fibula and a damaged ligament in his ankle. Ouch.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/5/09 – I caught some criticism for aggressively putting an “injured shortstop that won’t stay at shortstop” very high up on my list. But that’s how much I love this kid. I wanted to give him his due. I’m sure he will slide down this list as the year progresses, but I am very high on this kid’s ability to be an elite fantasy shortstop in the major leagues. That’s right, I do think he will stay at shortstop. He won’t be anything more than average defensively at the position, but that’s of little concern to us. All we care about is his bat and his speed, and he lots of both.

Hector Rondon / SP / Cleveland / Double-A / 2/26/88 / ETA: 2010 / High: #29 / Low: #30 / This Week: +1
2009 Thoughts
His immediate future is shrouded in mystery, as the Indian organization has shifted him to the bullpen in order to presumably get him ready for a roll in the big league pen. He won’t possess much big league value, though, if he does indeed spend some time with the big boys.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/19/09 – I loved what Rondon was showing as a Double-A starter. He was putting the whole package together and producing the stats to back it up. Someone in the Cleveland front office must have a screw loose, though, as they are playing more radical prospect games; this time with their best young pitcher. Rondon has been shifted to the bullpen as a way to get him to the majors faster, and he hasn’t adjusted well. I hope the shift doesn’t have a long-term negative effect on the young man, as he has all the tools to be an ace. In many circles he is supremely underrated right now. Strike now before the national media catches on.

Pedro Alvarez / 3B / Pittsburgh / Advanced-A / 2/6/87 / ETA: 2010 / High: #28 / Low: #30 / This Week: -2
2009 Thoughts:
Alvarez is a young man who was supposed to be fast-tracked to the majors. Instead, a poor start has kept him in Advanced-A Lynchburg. Whatever Alvarez’s problems are, expect him to put them behind him as the year goes on, and anticipate a Double-A Altoona finish to a strong summer.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/20/09 – I love the walks he’s drawing and the home runs he’s parking, but every other part of his stat line makes me go “blah.” He should be dominating the Carolina League. So, what’s the problem? His swing simply doesn’t look as crisp or fast as it did during his pre-injury period last year at Vanderbilt. The injury he suffered was a broken hamate bone in his right hand, one of those notoriously tough injuries to come back from. If I was to guess, I would say it’s the injury that is slowing him down. I’m hoping a strong summer puts his promising career back on track.

Brett Lawrie / 2B/3B/OF / Milwaukee / Single-A / 1/18/90 / ETA: 2011 / High: #31 / Low: #38 / This Week: –
2009 Thoughts:
I assume that the Brewers will play it safe with their young star and keep him in Single-A Wisconsin this season, much the same way that they handled Caleb Gindl in his first full year.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/20/09 – I love Lawrie’s swing, plain and simple. He has lightning quick wrists and thunder in his bat. He makes it look so easy. He reminds me so much of Mike Moustakas, and he could see a similar rise up my prospect board. The trick will be finding a permanent position for him to play, and even that won’t be very hard. His footwork looks a bit awkward at second base, but there is certainly time to clean it up. Personally, I think he fits best at third base, where his strong arm can be showcased. Either way, we’re looking at another potential superstar slugger coming up through Milwaukee’s farm system.

Brian Matusz / SP / Baltimore / Advanced-A / 2/11/87 / ETA: 2011 / High: #32 / Low: #39 / This Week: +7
2009 Thoughts:
Baltimore is taking it slow with their prized pitcher, but Matusz will face Double-A competition before the year is up.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Notes:
5/20/09 – I can’t believe Matusz isn’t pitching for Double-A Bowie. His mechanics have been questioned in the past, so maybe Baltimore is trying their best to make sure he has success while he adjusts his delivery. I haven’t seen enough of him to know if that’s the case, though. I’ll make sure to catch up on everything Matusz when he is promoted; as Double-A is the best current test for a player of his caliber. His fastball is average, but his full repertoire is outstanding, including a potentially potent slider, curveball combination.

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Comments

  1. Keith said...

    Nice writeup. RE: Rondon, that was a shortlived experiment, he’s already back to being a starter. He started last night and his numbers look good considering the way CLE yanked him around in the past two weeks:

    5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO

  2. chuck said...

    la porta called up to sit on the bench. val buena (??) plays almost full time, but cant hit his weight.  time to blow up this team and bring up all the kids for some on the job training.  brantley, santana, rondon…  they all need to play in the majors NOW.  hafner, de rosa, delucci, et al are not getting the job done. time to look to the future.

  3. battlekow said...

    I’m not saying Lawrie’s definitely going to be promoted, but he’s a cut above Gindl in terms of his prospect status. Also, the fact that Cutter Dykstra has been moved to 2B but has already proven himself at Helena has to be considered. All told, I think Dykstra gets bumped back up to Wisconsin after getting some game experience at his new position at Helena, and Lawrie gets a concomitant promotion to Brevard County.

  4. Joe said...

    Matusz should be up by next year, not 2011.  They’re giving him the Wieters treatment, but he’s so polished an big league ready that he will definitely not be in the minors for another whole season or 2.  Probably will be called up next June or July

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