This week’s StU is looking at Bill Bavasi and laughing at his face, and wondering if Chris Davis can manage to reach enough ABs to destroy Mark Reynolds strikeout record or if Mister Smoak can push Davis into the abyss and let Reynolds hold his title.
Acquired in the fleecing of former Seattle Mariners GM Bill Bavasi for Eric Bedard, Tillman seemed to be an afterthought. I am still trying to comprehend that trade, let alone giving up two top prospects (Adam Jones and Tillman), a decent reliever and two fillers for a starting pitcher just after he finished having a career year. Praise Jesus/Allah/any deity of your choice, that Mr. Bavasi is gone. Nevertheless, the Orioles are soaking in some young talent. They have the top prospect, according to the majority of sources, in Wieters, a young stud budding in Markakis and aging veterans like Roberts, Mora, Huff, and Sherrill. What they lack is a major league worthy rotation. With Tillman and his partner in crime Brian Matusz (who was just drafted in 2008 and is supposed to make it to the majors within the next couple of years), the rotation may be fixed from within.
I am not going to say that the Orioles have a chance at contending in that division because Chris Tillman may be more hype than reality (plus, the Yankees and Red Sox won’t let it happen). Remember Daniel Cabrera? I sure do. Remember the hype? The 100 mph fastball? The lack of control? Tillman may not have a 100 mph fastball, but he does have a 91-95 mph fastball with some late movement, but its his curve that the scouts drool over. He throws the curve in the mid 70’s and it’s his strikeout pitch. However, he lacks a reliable change-up and consistent control and this is why he isn’t major league ready. This year, his numbers are better and I am assuming he has been consistently working on that change-up, and with the Orioles going nowhere and needing pitching, we may have to wait to see his game until September. Nevertheless, here is what he has done the last 3 years since A ball:
’07 [A] 33 IP, .27 (1) HR/9, 3.55 BB/9, 9.27 K/9, 3.55 ERA [2.81 FIP], 1.27 WHIP, .337 BABIP, 55.1 LOB%
’07 [A+] 102 2/3, 1.05 (12), 4.21, 9.2, 5.26 [4.43] 1.51, .340, 58.6
’08 [AA] 135 2/3, .66 (10), 4.31, 10.22, 3.18 [3.41], 1.33, .315, 77.1
’09 [AAA] 60, .6 (4), 2.70, 10.05, 2.55 [2.78], 1.17, .320, 71.9
Baseballcube.com ranks players attributes on a scale of 0 to 100 such as power, patiences, k-rate, control, etc, and his ratings are:
Control: 26 (as compared to Mad-Bum and Alderson’s 100 and 97)
K-Rating: 98 (Mad-Bum and Alderson: 98 and 84)
Efficiency: 47 (Mad-Bum and Alderson: 100 and 100)
Those are a ton of numbers, but hang in there. As the Cube states, the strikeouts are there and the control is the issue. The last three years proves that with the numbers. Other than this year, his lowest BB/9 has been an even 4. That is a little scary, only for the fact that Daniel Cabrera had similar minor league numbers. I am not saying that he is the reincarnation of Cabrera, but that is a possibility, unless he harnesses his control. Also, BABIP has been unfriendly to him, which makes me think that having a better defense behind him might help us see some better peripheral numbers. But the key operative word here is might, and that is a awfully large might!
He is ranked higher than Tommy Hanson, but rankings are frivolous if the results beg to differ. After doing the research, I am holding a lot of reservations for this lanky kid. He may have good mechanics, a plus curve, great mound presence, but this year’s control seems to be the outlier. How many players reach AAA and cut their walks in half? Few.
He may not reach the majors and be a #1 starter, but definitely a middle of the rotation because he limits the homers, has a stellar k-rate, and the mechanics to have moderate success. Picture the success Kevin Slowey has had in the majors with the control of a rookie Lincecum. That is essentially what Tillman is as of now. That isn’t anything to be embarrassed over, but the hype surrounding Tillman may not be as warranted. In fantasy leagues this year, I would hold off and let the rookie nookie suckers bite.
Imagine this, up to bat is catcher Matt Wieters and on deck is Justin Smoak. These two guys were just teammates during high school. Maybe there’s something in the water…?
Playing for his hometown college, South Carolina, Smoak rose in their all-time home run hitter list to second by hitting 62 with only Rafael Palmeiro ahead of him. That is some nice company, even with the steroid hoopla. In 739 ABs in college, Smoak produced a line of .334/.449/.658. Those are stellar numbers. Calling him country strong would seem a bit presumptuous and lacking creativity, how about Sumac strong (That’s tree strong. Lame yes, even if I am making a play on his name which isn’t even pronounced like Sumac)? You may want to object and claim that they use metal bats, but he played in some games in the Cape Cod league during the summer and had mild success. Even more, the scouts are claiming that the swing is legit and so is the power.
The Cube gives him these ratings:
His swing is praiseworthy, and several sites back up claims on his stellar swing. One amateur scout for the Rangers said that he has a great swing because his hands move together with his body producing a short, solid swing with few holes (his plate coverage is great). His hips and hands rotate simultaneously which is where all that power comes from. So the swing is legit, the power is there, he walks (and runs) like he’s at a retirement center and strikes out like your average power hitter (151 BB to 107 K’s in college).
The only downside is his fielding as he is quite the klutz, or more just a roaming troll. He’s at best an average fielder (and that may be stretching it), and his sloth like speed restricts his range. Nothing the great ole DH can fix. Speaking of DH, have you seen the one man wrecking crew, I mean the one man migraine inducing player named Chris Davis? Smoak may get his spot… but then again, I hear the Rangers want Davis to break Mark Reynolds’s strikeout record (*sarcasm).
On a serious note, Smoak really only has about 200 minor league AB under his belt. So most stats are just there for looking at and not seriously analyzed because the sample size is too small. However, if his college numbers translate, we may have a similar player to Mark Teixeira who is projected to hit 35-40 homers a year with decent average. A few scouts claim he may have reached his potential and is a player who is a “get what you see” kind of player. Nevertheless, I would love to have a player who can hit 35-40 homers and not destroy my team.
He may get a look at this year with Chris Davis struggling mightily. However, I think Peter Gammons hype and talk about Smoak reaching the majors and thriving latter this year is a bit optimistic, it may be a reality in September. Why make a player of this caliber arbitration eligible earlier than you have to? Fantasy wise, he is a dark horse for ROY in 2010.