What a week! The MLB Draft and Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton were promoted to the majors. After weighing my options, I decided on a few prospects that might take a little longer to reach the majors, with the pitcher the closest to making “The Show.” (I contemplated names like Freddie Freeman, Peter Bourgos, Eric Hosmer, Stolemy Pimental, Lonnie Chisenhall, Zach McAllister, Brett Lawrie, and Christian Friedrich for those of you who are curious).
Many experts considered the Braves drafting Minor with the seventh overall pick as an “overdraft.” He is hoping to prove them wrong. Poised with four pitches, Minor throws a plus changeup, a 86 to 91 mph fastball, a slider and curve that are “works in progress.” He mixes speeds well with his fastball, which helps him keep hitters guessing. Shows good command, ability to locate his pitches and has good control. His frame suggests he could add two to three MPH. When he “lights” up the radar gun, he is throwing between 92 and 93 MPH, but his pitch becomes flat and wild. Scouts say his changeup is “outstanding,”and it’s, “[his] best offering.” Baseball America calls him a savvy pitcher with middle of the rotation potential and John Sickels says he has a small margin for error.
2010 Stats: 12.9 K/9 | 4 BB/9 | 63 2/3 IP | 3.68 ERA | 3.06 FIP | 1.18 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 6.6 H/9 | .313 BABIP | 46.2 GB% | 13.9 LD% | 29.1 FB% | 10.9% Hr/F
Career Stats: 12.5 K/9 | 3.2 BB/9 | 77 2/3 IP | 3.13 ERA | 2.80 FIP | 1.09 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 6.6 H/9 | .323 BABIP | 45.5 GB% | 14.4 LD% | 29.9 FB% | 8.9% Hr/F
After signing last summer, Minor threw 14 innings at Class-A in the South Atlantic League. In this brief stint, he simply dominated his opposition and posted a 10.9 K/9 without walking a batter. Yes, this is a small sample size and not much should be taken from this. With an entire offseason where most scouts and experts essentially ignored him – Keith Law left him off his Top 100 Prospects list and his Top 10 Prospects in the Braves organization list. Minor has responded by leading the minors in strikeout-to-walk ratio of 91:28 in 63 2/3 innings. However, this increase in strikeouts has come at a cost in command. In a Q & A chat with Keith Law a questioner asked, “[Minor] is striking guys out like crazy … [is] he doing anything differently, or is it more a function of being more polished than the guys he’s facing? Was he ever supposed to be a big K guy?” To which Law responded, “Throwing harder – a good 2-3 mph harder – with the accompanying drop in command. The questions are: Can he improve his command without giving up the newfound velo? And can he maintain the velo for a full season? If the answers to both are ‘yes,’ his ceiling would jump to that of a [number two] starter.” Well, I’m a sucker for high strikeout starters when playing fantasy baseball, and I know Grey is.
His home park environment at Double-A in the Southern League isn’t necessarily a hitter’s park, but it isn’t Petco either. This year, it’s playing more pitcher-friendly than in the past, which shows in his Home/Away splits (2.37 home ERA and 5.61 away ERA). Another interesting split, although logical, right-handed batters are hitting .241 causing a 5.10 ERA while left-handed batters struggle hitting only .130 and causing a 0.84 ERA. The positives, he has posted a 1.12 GO/AO (46.2 GB%) this year, has a fairly normal BABIP (.313) and a home runs per fly ball percentage of 10.9%, his FIP suggests he is pitching without much, if any, “luck” and has experts eating their words. Sounds like the Braves have found another great pitching prospect.
Mike Trout | CF | Los Angeles Angels | DOB: 8-7-91 | 6′ 1” | 200 lbs | B/T: R/R | 2009 1st rd. pick 25; from High School | LAA #3 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page
With much poking and prodding from frequent commentators, this year’s biggest riser – in terms of prospect stock – has flooded the prospect blogsphere with comments like “… might end up in Top 10 (and not just organizational) … [P]otential superstar.” Okay, maybe that’s just Keith Law. Baseball America says Trout possesses a plus bat with good speed and strength, leading to a potential of average power and a line drive swing; plus-plus speed (3.9 seconds from home to first); ability to make quick refinements and adjustments at the plate; good plate discipline; above-average range in center with good instincts. John Sickels says he’s a polished hitter; excellent athlete; has a decent throwing arm; controls the strike zone well; power is coming; and is a fast learner. Keith Law finished his scouting report by saying he has strong walk and contact rates, but “wraps bat slightly before swing and front leg side gets a little soft on contact but his pitch recognition and bat speed compensate for this deficiency … fringy arm.” Now that you have the good and the bad in terms of scouting information, here is how his tools have played out in the minors.
2010 Stats: .373/.450/.560 | 209 AB | 21 XBH | 6 Hr | .187 ISO | 28/4 SB/CS | 33:25 K:BB | .427 BABIP | 43 GB% | 14.5 LD% | 41.9 FB%
Career Stats: .363/.436/.526 | 388 AB | 36 XHB | 7 Hr | .173 ISO | 41/6 SB/CS | 67:47 K:BB | .429 BABIP | 45.8 GB% | 15.6 LD% | 38.3 FB%
Historically, the Angels Class Single-A home park has played fairly neutral, if not more pitcher friendly than anything else. Nevertheless, Trout has pushed aside any obstacle that his hitting environment could have – the Midwest League isn’t necessarily hitter friendly – and has slashed his way to an impressive .373/.450/.560 line. What’s not so nice about his slash line is his higher-than-Mitch Hedberg batting average on balls in play (.427). Beyond this one point, his plate discipline looks great, his steals are beyond impressive – good success rate, high number, etc. – hits plenty of extra base hits, and his type of hit percentages (ground balls, line drives, and fly balls) are looking fairly nice for that “average power” ceiling the scouts are talking about. His Home/Away splits are nearly even, his lefty/righty pitcher splits are nearly even and I have nothing but praise to sing. I would expect a midseason promotion to Class High-A and his first real test at Double-A in 2011. The Angels are probably going to need his help sooner rather than later. I could see him posting an average of .300 with 15 homers and 45 steals in his prime. Sounds a bit like Jacoby Ellsbury to me too, or maybe that’s Carl Crawford I’m hearing. Either way, if he’s on waivers in your dynasty league, jump on him.