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Minor League Players of the Week (ending July 11). Names like Peter Bourjos (LAA), Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM), and Clint Robinson (KC) should start becoming familiar to your lexicon, well at least the first three for sure.  I’m nearly a week late and several [million] dollars short, but, as we all now know, fCliff Lee and Mark Lowe were traded to the Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matthew Lawson. Without going into full analysis, I don’t buy Beavan’s high groundball rate; Lueke, at best, could be a decent bullpen option when he is healthy; Lawson is depth for the Mariners’ farm system. Grey likes Lee in Arlington more than I do. I don’t buy a fly ball pitcher thriving in Texas, even if he is The Adverb. Enough rambling, most of you have read the followup debates on this trade, hopefully you enjoy this column as much as the last.  On a completely random side note, both of the following players for this Scouting the Unknown share a birthday.

Michael Pineda | RHP-SP | Seattle Mariners | DOB: 1-18-89 | 6’5” | 250 lbs | B/T: R/R | 2005 signed out of the Dominican Republic | SEA #7 ranked prospect according to Baseball America; #6 according to Keith Law | MiLB Player Page

With the aforementioned Cliff Lee trade, there are rumors of Pineda getting called up; doubtful but nevertheless, newsworthy. I pegged Pineda for this week’s column before this trade happened; I’m on a roll picking players (thanks Travis Wood, Dan Hudson, Andrew Cashner). He throws an 88 to 94 mph fastball with some sink. He has “good armside run” which is tough on right handed batters according to Baseball America; there is also a 86 to 91 mph cutter; depending on your source, his changeup has, “advance feel,” (Baseball America) is, “very good,” (John Sickels) or, “needs to develop changeup” (Keith Law); slider is still a work in progress. Those are the basics, here is what I wrote about Pineda in the Mariners off-season Minor League Review series, “I will let Marc Hulet (of FanGraphs) do all the work here because he did an awesome job describing Pineda. He looks like an unheralded stud in the making.” This is me quoting me quoting someone else. Guess I’ll have to have some numbers speak for me.

2010 Stats: 9.6 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 99 1/3 IP | 2.72 ERA | 2.64 FIP | 1.09 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 7.5 H/9 | .302 BABIP | 43.5 GB% | 21.6 LD% | 30.7 FB% | 3.4 Hr/FB%

Career Stats: 8.6 K/9 | 2.1 BB/9 | 364 1/3 IP | 2.22 ERA | 3.03 FIP | 1.07 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 7.6 H/9 | .291 BABIP | 46.5 GB% | 15.8 LD% | 33.9 FB% | 4.6 Hr/FB%

Hulet’s report was positive, Baseball America’s was positive, Sickels’ was positive, and even Keith Law was positive by pushing him to his number 25 ranked prospect on his mid-season updated Top 25 Prospect Rankings. However, he essentially said that his fastball is good but he needs to improve his off-speed offerings, which is code for potential that hasn’t been proven. Statistically, he has thrived at each level. Before his last start in the PCL, Pineda was annihilating opposing batters. Posting good strikeout and walk rates, Pineda shows plenty of positive upside. He was able to only throw 44 innings in 2009 because of elbow soreness; this caused all my sources to downgrade his overall ranks to enter the season. Looks like this concern has gone the way of the dodo bird for talent evaluators and the 24 hour news hype has started. The “unheralded prospect” phrase was dropped often; I’d tend to agree, except with more reservation than the hype is starting to build. Progressing from a ground ball pitcher to a fly ball pitcher works well at Safeco, but giving up line drives (21.6%) at a high rate will become an issue too. Could he be a Matt Garza? Possibly, but he needs to develop more than just a fastball to stay in the starting rotation. If he cannot get his slider to work and consistency from his changeup, he’ll be helpful in hold situations and maybe as a closer. I think he’ll see a September call-up and an invitation to spring training in 2011. Don’t expect him to be solid contributor until mid-2011 or later.

Brett Lawrie | 2B | Milwaukee Brewers | DOB: 1-18-90 | 5’11” | 200 lbs | B/T: R/R | 1st rd, 16th pk, 2008 from H.S. | MIL #2 ranked prospect according to Baseball America; #2 according to Keith Law | MiLB Player Page

Quoting me from the Brewers Minor League Review, “The only question about Lawrie from scouts, farm directors and analysts is “What position should he play?” Lawrie is the top power hitting prospect for the Brew Crew, even more than Mat Gamel. At the end of the season, he was given a call up to Double-A where he struggled, slashing .269/.283/.308 in 52 AB. Given his age and small sample size, this brief appearance shouldn’t worry anyone. His stick is solid, with 30 homer potential, he should also hit for decent average (.275 to .290) as he has a good eye at the plate, but does become pull conscious, which can cause prolonged slumps.” Other snippets from more recent sources, he struggles with changing speeds; he’s an intense, aggressive, and a “one-speed” player (read: a fiery competitor). His position may not stay at second base, with most predicting a move to right field where his arm would play well, although some reports are saying his defense is coming along better than anticipated, almost up to Dan Uggla standards. His swing has Keith Law describing it as, “A classic left handed swing, but from the right side with tremendous rotation and raw power.” He has an extremely quick bat and strong hands. Lastly, his speed is average, even with a stocky football player build. How is his second professional season going?

2010 Stats: .295/.359/.473 | 353 AB | 40 XBH | 6 Hr | .178 ISO | 24/9 SB/CS | 78:38 K:BB | .364 BABIP | 46.7 GB% | 11.6 LD% | 41.7 FB% | 11.6 IF/F%

Career Stats: .283/.349/.453 | 777 AB | 77 XBH | 19 Hr | .170 ISO | 43/22 SB/CS | 162:74 K:BB | .337 BABIP | 44.7 GB% | 13.2 LD% | 42.1 FB% | 12.5 IF/F%

Not an absolute masher yet, he has hit 23 doubles with 11 triples this year displaying gap power and his speed on the base paths. The extra base hits are there, he is taking an extra base, but his slash line is inflated with a high BABIP (.364). Also a little disheartening, an 11.6 line drive percent. With how many extra base hits he has, especially the triples, I’d guess the official ballparks scores are calling some line drives fly balls. Also of some concern, he is striking out at a 22 percent clip. Nothing catastrophic, just something to keep your eyes, or in my case an eye, on because he is an aggressive hitter. Lastly, he has been hitting primarily in the one and two slot in the line up and a few games hitting as the number three hitter.

If you clicked the link back to the Brewers Minor League Review, you’ll noticed my future predictions of Lawrie, if not, “As we all know, with Rickie Weeks often injured, [his call-up] could be sooner rather than later. Still don’t hope for anything more than a September call-up this year or, more likely, a June call-up in 2011.” If he tries to improve his second base defense, scouts say Lawrie reminds them of Jeff Kent. Yeah, that’s high praise.

  1. JG_isms says:
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    the comment “and he never gets so cold where you decide to search out Michael Young’s home address and pay him a visit. *knock, knock* Is Michael home? Okay, I’ll wait.” is effin hysterical ! glad I wasnt drinking something at the time of reading….

  2. Quintero says:
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    Stephen, please correct this ranking for fantasy starters, most of them are players you wrote about before:

    First tier: Hell Boy, Friedrich, Martin Perez
    Second tier: Julio Teheran, Minor, Chapman, Pineda
    Third tier: Cashner, Mike Montgomery, D-Hudson

    I left Mejia, Kyle Gibson and single-A pitcher out of it.

    Cashner is a strange pick because he is a RP right now, but he has chance to get back starting.

  3. Ryan says:
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    Advice time: Is it time for me to drop pelfrey, or is he worth hanging on to? Waiver choices include: Myers, Cecil, kazmir, clippard, garcia, bumgarner, bonderman, hunter, arroyo. (i think that’s enough)

  4. Stephen says:
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    @Quintero: This is kind of tricky because of when they’ll be coming up. I’ll order them in preference of owning them.

    First Tier: Hellickson, Friedrich, Teheran, Perez
    Second Tier: Minor, Cashner, Kyle Gibson, Montgomery/D-Hudson
    Third Tier: Chapman, Montgomery/D. Hudson, Mejia

    Perez is having a terrible year, as is Chapman. Montgomery is better than Daniel Hudson but plays for the Royals; you can’t trust them to do what’s right. Mejia is going to be yanked around like Joba. Gibson is a homeboy. If Perez continues to struggle this year and Minor thrives, I’ll be pimping him like Hellickson. Friedrich, although struggling a little this year, has great stuff (same can be said about Perez), but the Rockies don’t have the same about of pitching depth as the Braves, or Texas. Hopefully this is helpful.

  5. Stephen says:
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    Keith Law’s blog has a great article about The Futures Game. One thing of note about Lawrie, “running to first in 4.15 seconds, which was good for a 55/60 running grade”

    Here is the link for you ESPN Insiders: http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog?name=law_keith&id=5370966

    Has some great prospect snippets.

  6. peter says:
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    Lawrie’s “big” build? All those XBH not leaving the yard? Maybe Billy Butler can give him advice on where to get a bro for his moobs.

    Good roundup, Stephen.

  7. Stephen says:
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    @peter: Ha.

  8. Quintero says:
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    @Stephen: You are the man. Preference of owning them is great way to put this, will stick to it next time. Always exciting to know what do you think about these players. Thanks a million.

    Wait, Kyle Gibson is a homeboy? Are we going to get a StU issue about him with highly bias? Bias or not, looking forward!

  9. Stephen says:
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    @Quintero: You’re welcome. Hopefully you look around and seek other opinions too because I am not the fairy tale mirror on the wall. Also, sometimes my preference is swayed by my ability to trade them for higher than they’re worth because of their hype (Perez). Just so you know.

    Gibson is a homeboy because he is a Minnesota Twin; I’m a Twins fan.

  10. Quintero says:
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    @Stephen: Cool cool. Didn’t have a chance to draft Perez. Someone who read Keith Law a lot took him early.
    Forgot that you are a Twins fan, my bad, but, since now we talked about this, do you think the turf/grass switch would help Morneau being “relatively health” for the second half? He said that himself before getting kneed. I read it somewhere and if this is true then we might find a trade target here…

  11. Stephen says:
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    @Quintero: For fantasy purposes, Keith Law might be a bit miss leading; having players ranked higher and lower depending on the whole prospect and not the 5×5 categories.

    No worries on forgetting that I’m a Twins fan. There are weeks I would forget that too. Morneau is the ultimate media hype child, if he played in New York everyone would rip him. Okay, maybe I’m bitter. I’ve noticed a trend, and any avid fantasy player should have noticed by now, you play Morneau in the first half of the season and trade to get a PASBT player by mid to late June (see: Career monthly splits – http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/7063/splits;_ylt=Aq4JAsJXZLBoPVbqmXQaAKyFCLcF?year=career&type=Batting).

    I don’t think Morneau is going to be a get option down the stretch, and I don’t necessarily think the field surface will make him play better either. Call me bitter, call me scorned, but Morneau sits positively in the the local media’s eye because he’s a Twins player (same with Joe Mauer and his ungodly contract for a non-power hitter).

  12. Willie Norwood says:
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    Stephen, I’m also a Twins fan and as a result have too many Twins on my roster. Here’s hoping Morneau recovers from his knee to the noggin. I’m also hoping that Delmon continues to figure things out. Is he going to help me or hurt me this year? It’s a keeper league, so he has the potential to help or hurt me for another 3 years after this one. . .

    I also have Denard Dawg and Liriano. Not sure how I feel about their prospects either.

    Twins prospect question: we have 8 man prospect rosters, and Aaron Hicks is taking up space on mine. I read one comp that linked him to Carlos Gomez. Is that his upside? If so, he’s fired.

  13. Sos says:
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    Posey or santana in a keeper?

  14. Stephen says:
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    @Willie Norwood: Wrong CarGo – Carlos Gonzalez would be more accurate.

    P@Sos: Personally, in a 5×5 – Posey.

  15. Quintero says:
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    @Stephen: Cool, thanks. Guess I’m thinking too much about buy low while people selling low on him…

    @Willie Norwood: In 5×5 with four OF spots, Delmon is not a bad option and he would continue to progress. I like Span in OPS or OBP league very much but in standard 5×5 his value is pretty average. Liriano is fine…I guess…

  16. Adam says:
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    Missed Dan Hudson’s outing. Numbers didn’t look too good. Any thoughts on how short the leash is on him? If not Hudson in place of Peavy, then who?

    Where do you go for quick updates for call-ups, promotions, etc.? Any chance you can start a weekly/daily column with an overview of current promotions (and possible fantasy impact in the MLB, predictions, etc. via bullet points… nothing too fancy or time consuming for you)? Thanks again!

  17. Adam says:
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    @Willie Norwood: I’d stick with Delmon and Liriano. Delmon is coming into his own and justifying his former top prospect status. Plus, I noticed they’re batting him third. With nice protection, I expect a similar if not better second half.

    Liriano has shown flashes of brilliance like the Francisco of old. His two worst outings were against Detroit, so hopefully they were just minor blips against a team that figured him out. He’s got the stuff though, so barring any nagging injury, I’d stick with him.

  18. Stephen says:
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    @Willie Norwood: Sorriy I missed the MLB Keeper picks. The commentors did a good job of deciding who I’d take too.

    @Adam: That’s a good idea. I usually use MiLB and Rotoworld. When I was using Twitter, that was a good place depending on who you were following. That’s a great article idea; Grey is usually able to cover all the big(ger) prospects getting called up to the majors though. I am on vacation next week, I’ll toy with the idea of a quick Saturday post like that. Thanks Adam.

  19. Willie Norwood says:
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    @Stephen:
    If Hicks is CarGonzalez instead of CarGomez, that works for me.

    Here’s another lengthy question that I had on a different thread, but this seems like a better place for it.

    We have 29-man major league rosters, and 8-man minor league rosters. Chapman is on my major league roster because I added him for a buck at the end of our auction. At the time, it looked like he might be up sooner rather than later. He’s still sitting on the end of my bench. If I cut him, someone else could add him to their minor league roster, where he can be stashed until he crosses the 50 IP threshold. In other words, they could probably stash him for the rest of this year and all of next year without taking up a roster spot on their major league roster. I could keep him on my major league roster next year at a minimal price, but he would take up one of my 8 keeper slots. Is he all hype? If I cut him, will I regret it later? I know it’s mostly guesswork, but what are the odds that he’s a top 30 SP by 2012 or so?

  20. Adam says:
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    This question is posed to anyone on the board… where can I find a competitive dynasty league, with minor league drafts, etc. (hopefully for cash prizes, entry fees)? Are there any public leagues/web sites out there for loners who have no prospect-savvy friends?
    Thanks for any guidance

  21. Stephen says:
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    @Willie Norwood: Your initial reasoning for having Chapman was completely valid; you also weren’t the only person thinking along those lines. With that being said, is it possible to trade him for a minor league player or a more valuable major league player. Your trading points should be his future potential. This is if you don’t want to keep him.

    Although he is being paid a lot of money, Chapman has a plenty of refinements to make, but beyond his hideous 5.6 BB/9, he could make a splash in the bullpen this year. Don’t quote me on that, but the Reds need pitching help. For a statistical player comparison, Ubaldo Jimenez would be a good player. Jimenez had a lot of walks at Triple-A (5.2 BB/9) and a mediocre strikeout rate (7.6 K/9). Chapman is walking a few more batters (5.6 BB/9) but his strikeout rate is superior (10.8 K/9). Personally, if you have invested the money, I’d hold onto him or sell him for immediate needs. It would be nice to just stash him on your minor league roster where he belongs. Is there a reason you can’t move him to your minor league roster like others could if you dropped him?

    @Adam: I don’t know where to find a dynasty league like that. I haven’t been able to find one where they let randoms in.

  22. Willie Norwood says:
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    @Stephen:

    Re: Chapman. There’s the rub. I can’t just demote him. I need to waive him, and if every other owner passes on him as a major league player, then they all get a crack at him to add to their minor league rosters. Someone would surely do that, as they would only need to cut a Ben Revere or a Lars Anderson. I think Chapman will be worth keeping, but if he’s great in 4 years rather than 2, I should think about cutting him.

    Thanks for all of the feedback, by the way.

  23. Stephen says:
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    @Willie Norwood: If you want immediate greatness, cut him and hope for the best.

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