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Christian Friedrich | LHP – SP | Colorado Rockies | DOB: 7-8-87 | 6’4” | 218 lbs | B/T: R/L | 1st rd pk #25, 2008 from College | COL #2 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page

After thoroughly dominating Class High-A (California League) in 2009, Friedrich has fallen on hard times at Class Double-A (Texas League). He was the Top Prospect at High-A California last year and had the second highest strikeout rate in the minors (12.0 K/9). Throwing a low 90’s fastballs that top out at 95 mph, a 12-to-6 curveball that John Sickels calls “nasty,” a short and hard slider (or cutter if you’re reading Keith Law), and a newly acquired changeup – never threw one until he became a pro. The breaking balls have been called, “emerging plus pitches,” and, “advanced,” his changeup is called average, and he needs to locate his fastball better. Law describes his 36th ranked prospect’s throwing motion as long, and at times he drops his elbow. He goes on to say that Friedrich does a good job of staying on top of the ball. Had left elbow inflammation in 2009, but scouts weren’t worried about long term effects. This year, on July 18, he was hit in his pitching elbow by a batted ball. His upside, according to Keith Law, is a number three starter or a fringe number two; Sickels says he’s in the Mark Mulder/Barry Zito mold. This year his numbers are:

2010 Stats: 8.7 K/9 | 3.9 BB/9 | 73 1/3 IP | 5.28 ERA | 4.36 FIP | 1.60 WHIP | 1.1 Hr/9 | 10.4 H/9 | .368 BABIP | 42.5 GB% | 23.6 LD% | 30.5 FB% | 12. 7 Hr/FB%

Career stats: 11 K/9 | 3.4 BB/9 | 241 IP | 3.66 ERA | 3.46 FIP | 1.30 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 8.4 H/9 | .345 BABIP | 44.9 GB% | 17 LD% | 33.5 FB% | 8.8 Hr/FB%

Not what everyone was hoping. The Rockies were really cautious with Friedrich after he came off the elbow inflammation DL stint at the end of last year. Scouts and analysis says he was ready for Double-A, but the Rox didn’t push him there, waiting until the upcoming season for the promotion. Well, maybe he was ready, but his numbers show a pitcher who is struggling. He’s been working on changing his mechanics at the time of his injury. His BABIP has been high his entire career (.319 in 2009 at High-A when he was dominating). However, his strikeout rate has dropped dramatically at Double-A (nearly 3 fully strikeouts per nine innings), his walks have increased (by half a walk per nine innings) and his home run rate has nearly tripled (.4 Hr/9 to 1.1 Hr/9) while his flyball percentage dropped from 38 percent to 30.5 percent (increase in line drive rate hasn’t helped). There are some concerning numbers being produced this year, but how many of them are attributed to a small sample size and out-of-wack advance metrics and how many are attributed to his true talent and adjustments that haven’t been made? He’s a young lefty that may need more time at Double-A and not a late season call-up like all three of my sources were thinking he’d receive. His ETA would be next summer if that was the case, and a possible late season call-up this year, if the Rox are trying to instill some kind of confidence in their young pitcher. Still has a lot of upside, maybe this was his outlier year.

Eric Hosmer | 1B | Kansas City Royals | DOB: 10-24-89 | 6’4” | 215 lbs | B/T: L/L | 1st rd, pk #3, 2008 from H.S. | KC #5 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page

You’d think the Royals would have a good team with Mike Montgomery and Mike Moustakas getting praise in recent weeks. Hosmer’s stock had crashed, according to Baseball America, but has rebounded nicely this year. Last year he had trouble seeing the ball well and was diagnosed with astigmatism. To complicate his season more, he had a hairline fracture on right hand knuckle causing his finger to swell so much that he couldn’t grip the bat properly. In August (2009), he had laser eye surgery to fix the astigmatism since the contacts and glasses weren’t helping. Blessed with outstanding raw power, a balanced swing with quick wrists, and good feel for the strike zone. Keith Law calls him an, “elite hitting prospect.” He also has a plus arm – not quite as helpful at first base; his defense is adequate but he’s not as athletic as one would assume, since he has heavy feet and below average speed. Playing first base, he just needs to hit for our purposes here. Let’s see if that has happened this year:

2010 Stats: .351/.424/.575 | 393 AB | 54 XBH | 14 Hr | .224 ISO | 13/1 SB/CS | 46:50 K:BB | .368 BABIP | 50.3 GB% | 14.2 LD% | 35.5 FB%

Career Stats: .298/.383/.471 | 781 AB | 85 XBH | 20 Hr | .173 ISO | 16/3 SB/CS | 138:106 K:BB | .335 BABIP | 55.9 GB% | 13.8 LD% | 30.2 FB%

HQ, this is Bravo Company, the Royal units have overtaken our position and we have to retreat. Hosmer was recently promoted to Double-A to take over Mike Moustakas’ position in the lineup. A few quoted Double-A managers are saying they’re glad they didn’t have to face Hosmer and Moustakas in the same lineup (see: MiLB article). The Royals High-A affiliate (Wilmington) plays like Petco (Moustakas struggled here too).  Hosmer struggled in 2009 for a brief stint, but this year he’s slashed .354/.429/.545 with seven homers in 325 ab-bats. To put that into perspective, he has hit seven homers in 72 at-bats at Double-A (Texas League – Northwest Arkansas). His BABIP has influenced his ratio stats – but half his season has been played in a spacious park too, which would lead one to belief his ratio stats would plummet. His ground ball rate fell by eight percent at Double-A (42.6%). His flyball rate is improving, which means a potential for more home runs. The steals – I don’t know what to think of them yet, seems like a fluke (13 of those are at High-A). One more thing of note, as a left handed batter, he has struggled against lefties for his career (.272/.320/.384 vs LHP; .305/.402/.508 vs RHP).  However, this year there isn’t much of a splits difference (hitting better against lefties actually average-wise, and slugs .007 better against RHP).

Dayton Moore (KC’s GM) may be making some weird major league decisions (like not having Alex Gordon and Kila Ka’aihue playing in the majors until recently), he has done a great job of making a top minor league system. Hosmer has the potential to help out next spring, and hopefully they don’t pull a Kila-esque (use your Robert De Niro voice) move on Hosmer, we’ll be seeing him sooner rather than later. Think of a 20 to 25 homer potential with a .300 average – a Billy Buttler without the moobs. That’s his immediate major league upside. His peak years hopefully would produce more counting stats.

From Around The Web

  1. peter says:
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    Great – another nice 1B prospect buried in KC’s affiliates. Where does Moore expect to play all of these guys?

  2. dude says:
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    Stephen — I need a stopgap with Glaus gimping and slim NL-only pickings available. Should I pick up Allen Craig or Ross Gload over Brett Wallace? Not a keeper league.

  3. Jeff says:
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    Hosmer is definitely no blazer, but how can 13 SB’s be fluky? I believe he’s 13/14 to boot.

  4. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @peter: Pessimism has to end somewhere. Maybe Moore will learn how to get rid of unnneeded pieces (i.e. Jose Guillen, Yuniskey). Value is usable at all levels.

    @dude: Wallace, Craig, Gload

    @Jeff: He does have 13 steals in 14 attempts. However, he had 3 last year and his speed has been called below-average with “slow feet” from Baseball America. He may get 5 to 7 a year, but not 15. He has 11 steals at High-A this year, 2 at Double-A. I just don’t see the steals translating. Also, he his his 8th homer at Double-A last night.

  5. joey says:
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    Homer stole 28 straight bases in high school & has 6 or 7 triples this year alone. 13/14 in stolen bases does not equal slow feet. Someone dropped the ball on that one.

  6. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @joey: That’s great to hear, I’ll readjust my thoughts on him then too, just not all the way to be a 20/20 type player. Maybe 10 to 12 stolen bases a year would be reasonable.

  7. Carlos Z has slurpees says:
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    sonofabench–scott baker has dominated the rays this year.

  8. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    Exciting news, J.P. Arencibia (C – TOR) has been called up by the Blue Jays. With tons of homer power, this should be exciting for those of you who lost Santana or have another filler in there.

  9. YourMom'sBoyfriend says:
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    D. Moore’s going to trade Butler here pretty soon. Perhaps to a team that needs a bat and doesn’t necessarily have 1B in the system ready (I’m looking at you Tampa) for another arm (would a Butler for M. Moore work?).

    Hosmer is the 1B of the future. Kid’s got some serious skills and MUCH more power than Butler. Mous, however, is the future face of the franchise. Kid’s got some serious skills.

    I’ll tell you what, Dayton learned how to put together a farm system in Atlanta. Nothing else, but that’s in tack.

  10. YourMom'sBoyfriend says:
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    in tack? jesus…intact…sorry, it’s early here.

  11. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @YourMom’sBoyfriend: I knew what you were saying. It would be said seeing Moore trade Billy Butler. I think he’d be great cheap DH. He definitely would retain more trade value than some of their other “MLB” level talent. A Butler for (LHP – TB) Matt Moore would be a beginning foundation for a trade, yet I’d hope for more.

    Moustakas should get every Royals fan drooling over their media program in the next couple of years with Hosmer finding a little corner here and there (think Mauer and Morneau in Minnesota).

    If Dayton only learned how to put together a solid farm system in Atlanta, the Royals should be set. A good farm system makes a team competitive if they can sustain a high level of excellence in the minors.

  12. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    Here’s a great article on the Royals farm system by Joe Posnaski at Sports Illustrated: http://joeposnanski.si.com/2010/08/01/diary-of-a-losing-team-hope/

    “Now, finally, I hear again and again from people all over baseball that the Royals have one of the best minor league systems in baseball. I asked Keith Law to give me three adjectives to describe the Royals’ minor league system — and you know Keith is tough. He offered ‘Loaded. Exciting. Left-handed.’ Sounds about right to me.”

  13. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    Also, Stephen… Why do you hide your identity with just your first name? Seems like, and take this as a compliment, you could start your own fantasy baseball scouting blog. It could turn a hobby into a part time gig.

  14. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @IowaCubs: Thank you for the quote and article. I loved the ending especially the bold phrase that I added, “the big league team HAS been an embarrassment and, even more than that, no fun to watch. But with this flurry of trades and with hope for more deals and moves, it feels like something substantial has happened. It feels like the Royals are finally ready to stop treading water, finally ready to pull back the curtain on the real play. I’m excited. Genuinely excited.” Not often you hear that about the Royals.

    re: first name – I have a last name, but have kept it hidden like all other Razzball writers in their author section. You have Grey Albright, Rudy Gamble, Smokey, and … Stephen Horn (not the lawyer either).

    re: My own blog – Thank you for the compliment, that is an awesome comment to hear. I’ve toyed with the idea, sometimes in a very serious manner and other times more whimsically. I rarely think I could acquire a solid readership. To write the articles I currently crank out once a week take about 2 to 4 hours. The Team Minor League Reviews in the off-season take about 5 to 7 hours each. Since I have graduated (in a non-writing focused degree – social work) in May, I feel like I have the time, but struggle not just become another failed blogging site. Maybe in the next couple of weeks there will be a new fantasy baseball minor league scouting blog.

  15. Pops says:
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    ETA on Hosmer?

  16. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Pops: I’d say Mid-Summer 2011 at the earliest. More likely that a September call-up would be his first major league experience barring injuries and assuming the kid takes another step in his progression.

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