Welcome to the second weekly installment of Scouting the Unknown [StU]. Since this is still the beginning of StU, there is an abundance of hidden, hype deserved prospects. Due to the overwhelming list of prospects one may analyze, any requests would be welcomed, but I cannot promise I will designate an article to them. The goal is to locate hidden/non-ESPN hyped prospects. Everyone knows about Wieters, Price, Hanson, etc.
Last week I got a request to look at Madison Bumgarner [AKA – Mad-Bum], and luckily he was on my radar. Along with Mad-Bum, Desmond Jennings of the Rays will be looked at today. Enough with the frivolous formalities, onto the show!
Madison Bumgarner [Mad-Bum] – SP - San Francisco Giants – A and AA (2009)
Though he has no anal fissures, plenty of batters wish they took their Pepto Bismol when facing this hulking lefty. Standing at 6′ 5″ with a 10.1k/9 and 1.5BB/9 in 188 2/3 innings, this young left projects to be Tiny Tim’s partner in crime with better control. Matter-of-fact, most scouts say that if Lincecum wasn’t on the Giants, that Bumgarner would be the ace. Born in ’89, this 19 year old has already seen a promotion from A ball to AA about a month ago (with another young, promising pitcher named Tim Alderson). College recruiters and minor league managers both claim he’s a mature and humble young man (though this has little importance to fantasy baseball, it is nice to see non-egocentric talent).
Mad-Bum has a plus fastball and depending on what site you want to believe, it ranges from 92-99 mph. It has been this pitch that has allowed him to succeed since being drafted 10th overall. His change-up has been improving every day and according to his A-ball pitching coach, has been his biggest improvement. Back when he was drafted, MiLB’s scouting report mentioned that his breaking pitches were lacking, but this was due to his father not allowing him to add stress to his young stud’s elbow. Kudos to daddy! However, this has inhibited his ability to throw a slider or a curve. The slider is better, but they are both junk ball pitches now.
Having similar numbers to Rick Ankiel (when he still pitched), CC Sabathia, and pre-Tommy John’s Francisco Liriano, this young lefty could see stardom as soon as ’10 or ’11. He just reached AA, and seeing the way the Giants handled Tiny Tim, I would envision something similar. San Fran is not in a hurry to rush up their pitching because, well, the Giants are awful. There is good news though, this past spring, he was a late cut and faced a Dodgers lineup that included Manny Ramirez that went down swinging. A late season/September call up could be in line if he continues to pitch like an ace.
Desmond Jennings – Tampa Bay Rays – OF – AA
No fancy, or rather disturbing nickname for Jennings. As the 5th ranked prospect in the Devil Rays farm, he compares well to possible future teammate – Carl Crawford. A speed demon in the field, and a conniving thief on the base paths, in his last full[er] season he stole 45 bases (in 99 games). He was caught 15 times for a success rate of 75%, which isn’t great, but still pretty stellar as that can improve with practice. This year the ratio stands, or rather, runs at 17:4.
As a stand out, two sport athlete in college (JuCo All-American honors at Wide Receiver) the only knock is his health. His stellar 2007 season was cut short by a left knee injury (meniscus tear) and his 2008 season was decimated by a back injury and later a left shoulder injury. Finally healthy again, D-Jen has posted a 10% BB and 15% K rates with a .366/.433/.586 line all in AA.
Speed is his key asset, but with marginal power potential. So far this season, he is proving many skeptics wrong. However, a torrid .409 BABIP has helped fuel the majority of this year’s stellar performance. (A short disclaimer worth mentioning is that his career BABIP is .325.) As minor league player of the month for the Rays organization this past April, if he keeps this progress up, we could see him in September. With Carl Crawford reaching the end of his deal, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Rays trade him and plug D-Jen into the outfield. His true potential won’t be seen for a few more years, but tracking this prospect could reap benefits when he is called upon.