Top 50 Prospects: July Checkup (Part Two)

Now that we’re into the second-half of the season, it’s time to check in on my top 50 prospects to see how they’re doing in 2004. Yesterday I looked at the top 25 and today I’ll cover prospects 26-50.

- The Top 50 Prospects of 2004 (1-25)
- The Top 50 Prospects of 2004 (26-50)
- Top 50 Prospects: April Checkup (Part One)
- Top 50 Prospects: April Checkup (Part Two)
- Top 50 Prospects: July Checkup (Part One)

26) Dustin McGowan, Toronto Blue Jays

Things started out very well for Dustin McGowan this year. He began the season at Double-A New Hampshire and was 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA after four starts. Then McGowan started to get hit quite a bit, giving up 11 earned runs in his next two starts to push his ERA up to 4.06. And that’s where it all ended. After experiencing elbow soreness, McGowan underwent Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in early May. He is expected to miss the remainder of this season and a good chunk of next year.

2-0 with a 4.06 ERA and 29-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31.0 AA innings

27) Guillermo Quiroz, Toronto Blue Jays

Guillermo Quiroz started slow, hitting just .241 in April and .258 through May 5, when he went down with a broken hand. Quiroz returned to the field about two months later and has stayed healthy ever since, but his overall numbers haven’t improved much. He’s walking at about the same rate as he did last season and his Isolated Power (.171) remains good, although significantly down from last season (.236). Still, a 45-point drop in batting average is tough to ignore, although certainly he should be given some slack for the injury.

.237/.335/.408 with 18 RBIs and 17 runs in 47 AAA games

28) Scott Hairston, Arizona Diamondbacks

With the Diamondbacks struggling and veterans flocking to the disabled list, Scott Hairston‘s ascent to the big leagues was sped up just a bit. After hitting .313/.375/.565 in 28 games at Triple-A Tucson, Hairston was called up to replace Roberto Alomar in Arizona’s lineup. He has now played on a regular basis for about two months, appearing almost entirely at second base, with a few innings in the outfield thrown in. Hairston has shown plenty of power, with 22 extra-base hits and a .188 IsoP in 207 at-bats, but he has walked just 11 times compared to 47 strikeouts. Still, a 24-year-old second baseman slugging .449 in his first taste of the majors is outstanding.

.313/.375/.565 with 20 RBIs and 29 runs in 28 AAA games; .261/.298/.449 with 13 RBIs and 26 runs in 58 MLB games

29) J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee Brewers

Just like with McGowan, J.J. Hardy‘s 2004 season started well and ended early. Hardy was hitting .277/.330/.495 through 26 games at Triple-A Indianapolis when he had to shut things down in mid-May to have season-ending surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. Hardy had apparently been experiencing problems with his shoulder dating back to last season. This time, his shoulder popped out of the socket on a checked-swing, similar to what happened to Richie Sexson. He should be ready for the start of next season and may even play in the Arizona Fall League.

.277/.330/.495 with 20 RBIs and 17 runs in 26 AAA games

30) Delmon Young, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Delmon Young‘s 2004 season is a year that would be really nice if it weren’t coming from last year’s #1 overall pick. Young is hitting .296/.348/.496 in 95 games at Single-A, with 16 homers, 17 doubles and 10 stolen bases. On the other hand, he’s not dominating the competition (he doesn’t rank among the league’s top five in batting average, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage or OPS) and his strike zone judgment (26 non-intentional walks and 87 strikeouts) has been awful. Still, he’s 18 and he’s putting up some pretty big power numbers, so the walks can wait.

.296/.348/.489 with 83 RBIs and 61 runs in 95 A games

31) Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

Another pitcher bites the dust. Adam Wainwright‘s 2004 season began very well, as he was 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA after his first four starts at Triple-A Memphis. Then things started rolling downhill. Wainwright went 2-4 with a 7.08 ERA in his next eight starts and then, after experiencing soreness and a lack of velocity, found that he had a torn ligament in his pitching elbow. Wainwright has gone with rest over surgery and is expected to return to the mound at some point this season. He hasn’t pitched since June 7.

4-4 with a 5.37 ERA and 64-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 63.2 AAA innings

32) Khalil Greene, San Diego Padres

If you heard anything about Khalil Greene before this season, it was that his bat was for real and he would maybe hold his own defensively. His rookie year been totally the opposite, as Greene has struggled offensively while dazzling Padres fans with his glovework. Greene got a lot of attention during the first month of the year, as he hit .300/.368/.456, but his offense fell to .220/.308/.319 in May and .262/.340/.381. He’s picked it up again in July to bring his season totals to a respectable (especially for a rookie) .263/.346/.401, but even those numbers are inflated a little bit. Greene has drawn a seemingly impressive 38 walks in 373 plate appearances, but nine of them have been intentional. Still, considering his age, inexperience, and the ballpark he’s playing his home games in, it’s a pretty good rookie year.

.263/.346/.401 with 36 RBIs and 43 runs in 95 MLB games

33) Josh Barfield, San Diego Padres

Last year’s California (A) League MVP, Josh Barfield has struggled at Double-A Mobile this season, hitting just .244/.314/.430 in 100 games. Barfield led all of minor league baseball in extra-base hits with 68 last year and he’s once again hitting plenty this year, with 16 homers, 18 doubles and two triples. However, he’s just not hitting any singles. His Isolated Power (.186) and Isolated Discipline (.070) are actually right where they were at last year (.193 and .052), but his batting average is down nearly 30% and he hasn’t hit above .260 in any of the four months thus far.

.244/.314/.430 with 69 RBIs and 63 runs in 100 AA games

34) Jesse Crain, Minnesota Twins

After a spring training in which he was the talk of Minnesota (well, except for that Joe Mauer guy), Jesse Crain started the season at Triple-A Rochester and has yet to make his major league debut. Crain hasn’t been quite as dominant as he was last year, but he’s been damn good. In 40 games, Crain has thrown 49.2 innings with a 2.54 ERA, 63-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .208 opponent’s batting average. After a slow start, he is 1-0 with seven saves, a 29-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an 0.81 ERA since the end of May. If Crain isn’t throwing key innings in September, I’ll be shocked.

3-2 with a 2.54 ERA and 63-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 49.2 AAA innings

35) Michael Aubrey, Cleveland Indians

After abusing Single-A pitching to the tune of .339/.438/.550, the Indians promoted Michael Aubrey to Double-A Akron, where he’s struggled so far, hitting just .259/.357/.345 in 16 games. He has been out since July 7 with a hamstring injury. For the year, Aubrey has a .336 batting average, 28 extra-base hits and 35 walks in 76 games.

.339/.438/.550 with 60 RBIs and 34 runs in 60 A games; .259/.357/.345 with 8 RBIs and 4 runs in 16 AA games

36) Travis Blackley, Seattle Mariners

After going 17-3 with a 2.61 ERA at Double-A last season, Travis Blackley started this year at Triple-A Tacoma and went 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA before the Mariners called him up to the big leagues. Blackley has been awful for Seattle thus far, going 1-3 with a 10.38 ERA in five starts, while giving up 28 hits and 20 walks in 21.2 innings. Blackley’s performance for the Mariners has been discouraging, but it’s worth remembering that he doesn’t turn 22 years old until November and has had nothing but success in the minors.

7-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 63-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 85.2 AAA innings ; 1-3 with a 10.38 ERA and 12-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 21.2 MLB innings

37) James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers

After a sub par 2003 season that many people (myself included) wrote off to a sore wrist, James Loney has continued to struggle this year. Loney is hitting .245/.323/.345 in 69 games at Double-A Jacksonville and has also missed time with another injury, a broken finger he suffered early in the year. He has just four homers and 12 doubles in 269 at-bats and a completely punchless Isolated Power of .097. Loney has a lot of physical tools and potential, but he’s going to have to put it all together and get results soon.

.245/.323/.342 with 28 RBIs and 30 runs in 69 AA games

38) David DeJesus, Kansas City Royals

While biding his time waiting for the inevitable Carlos Beltran trade, David DeJesus hit .315/.400/.518 in 50 games at Triple-A Omaha. Once Beltran was shipped to the Astros, DeJesus took over as Kansas City’s centerfielder. He has struggled, hitting just .208/.288/.264 in 36 games.

.315/.400/.518 with 16 RBIs and 38 runs in 50 AAA games; .208/.288/.264 with 9 RBIs and 16 runs in 36 MLB games

39) Clint Nageotte, Seattle Mariners

Clint Nageotte pitched 80.2 innings with a 4.46 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma before the Mariners called him up. Since coming to the big leagues, Nageotte has struggled, going 1-4 with a 6.85 ERA in 23.2 innings. More discouraging than the high ERA at Triple-A or the struggles in the majors is Nageotte’s continued strikeout-to-walk ratio deterioration …

YEAR     SO/BB
2001      3.74
2002      3.15
2003      2.34
2004      1.80

40) Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox

The Greek/Jewish God of Walks hit just .266/.350/.403 in 38 games at Triple-A Pawtucket before he was called up to the Red Sox to sub for Bill Mueller. Kevin Youkilis has hit .292/.396/.454 in 42 games with the Red Sox, drawing 21 walks in 154 plate appearances. He’s been involved in a lot of trade rumors and he’ll be an everyday player somewhere next year. So far at least, his doubters have been silenced.

.266/.350/.403 with 18 RBIs and 25 runs in 38 AAA games; .292/.396/.454 with 20 RBIs and 26 runs in 42 MLB games

41) Franklin Gutierrez, Cleveland Indians

Franklin Gutierrez, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Milton Bradley trade this offseason, hit .309/.377/.478 in 66 games at Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A this month. He has struggled thus far there and has a total of just five homers in 276 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A, after smacking 24 homers last year.

.309/.377/.478 with 33 RBIs and 37 runs in 66 AA games; .148/.179/.279 with 3 RBIs and 4 runs in 7 AAA games

42) David Bush, Toronto Blue Jays

David Bush began this year in the shadow of Dustin McGowan, but has vaulted ahead after McGowan went down with the injury. Bush had a 4.06 ERA and 88-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 99.2 innings at Triple-A Syracuse, before being promoted to the Blue Jays at the beginning of July. He has done very well in four starts with Toronto, going 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings, and has probably pitched his last minor league game.

6-6 with a 4.06 ERA and 88-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 99.2 AAA innings; 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 14-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27.0 MLB innings

43) Gavin Floyd, Philadelphia Phillies

For the third straight year, Gavin Floyd‘s pitching has been far better than his won-loss record. After going 18-18 with a 2.87 ERA in 2002 and 2003, Floyd is 5-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 19 starts at Double-A Reading this year. Floyd still isn’t racking up huge strikeout totals, but batters are hitting just .212 off him and he has given up only five homers.

5-6 with a 2.61 ERA and 92-to-42 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 110.1 AA innings

44) Justin Huber, New York Mets

As Mike Piazza continues to hop back and forth between catcher and first base, his eventual replacement behind the plate, Justin Huber, is putting together a very nice year. Huber hit .271/.414/.487 in 70 games at Double-A Binghamton, hitting 11 homers and 16 doubles while walking 46 times, and was promoted to Triple-A last week.

.271/.414/.487 with 33 RBIs and 44 runs in 70 AA games; .250/.400/.333 with 2 RBIs and 1 run in 4 AAA games

45) Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners

I left Jose Lopez in my top 50 despite his struggles offensively last year, and he’s rewarded me with a big season in 2004. Lopez is hitting .297/.345/.502 in 72 games at Triple-A Tacoma, smacking 12 homers and 19 doubles in 269 at-bats. He still isn’t walking (15 in 72 games), but he continues to control the strike zone, striking out in only 10.4% of his at-bats.

.297/.345/.502 with 36 RBIs and 38 runs in 72 AAA games

46) Gabe Gross, Toronto Blue Jays

Gabe Gross finished last season by hitting .264/.380/.456 in 53 games at Triple-A Syracuse and he has essentially duplicated those numbers back there this season, hitting .286/.371/.445 in 95 games. The Isolated Power and Isolated Discipline are both down and the batting average is up, but the end result is just about the same solid-but-unspectacular numbers. Gross should make his debut with the Blue Jays very soon.

.286/.371/.445 with 41 RBIs and 47 runs in 95 AAA games

47) Jason Stokes, Florida Marlins

Jason Stokes had a monster year in 2002 and struggled mightily last season. This year, he’s sort of splitting the difference, putting together a “nice” year at Double-A Carolina.

            OBP      SLG
2002       .421     .645
2003       .312     .448
------------------------
AVERAGE    .367     .547
------------------------
2004       .335     .527

The good: 19 homers, 20 doubles and a .262 IsoP.
The bad: .265 batting average, 24 non-intentional walks in 79 games, strikeout in 32.7% of his at-bats.

.265/.335/.527 with 66 RBIs and 50 runs in 79 AA games

48) Matt Riley, Baltimore Orioles

Ouch. After years of injuries and horrific pitching lines, Matt Riley put together a very nice season between Double-A and Triple-A in 2003 and had me optimistic about his chances for success in the majors this year. It just hasn’t happened. Riley started the season in Baltimore’s rotation and his first two starts were excellent, but he then fell apart. For the year, he is 1-3 with a 8.39 ERA in 34.1 innings with the Orioles, and was sent back down to Triple-A. He’s been extremely good at Triple-A, going 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts.

1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 21-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18.0 AAA innings; 1-3 with a 8.39 ERA and 36-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34.1 MLB innings

49) Joel Zumaya, Detroit Tigers

Joel Zumaya was the one sort of “flier” I took with my top 50 list, mostly because he intrigued me with his strikeout numbers and lack of hype. So far this year, he’s been good but not great, with a 4.27 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 105.1 innings at Single-A Lakeland. The strikeouts are nice and batters are hitting just .222 off him, but Zumaya has also walked 55 batters and served up 10 home runs. Still a very intriguing prospect.

6-7 with a 4.27 ERA and 92-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 105.1 A innings

50) Adam LaRoche, Atlanta Braves

Adam LaRoche was hitting just .264/.284/.417 when he went down with a separated shoulder at the end of May. He missed all of June, returned on July 3, and has hit .286/.388/.429 since coming back. For the year, his numbers are poor, but he appears to be slowly beginning to control the strike zone, with 10 walks in July after five walks in all of April and May.

.255/.310/.397 with 19 RBIs and 24 runs in 59 MLB games

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