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Looking around the jumbled mess of the internet, I found this rather interesting article over at FanGraphs detailing the bust rate of minors league players relative to their letter grade given by scouts. The grading scale was based upon Baseball America. It is short, interesting, and it pertains; so go read it. Secondly, Jason Heyward was named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America on last Friday. I talked about him here and Grey talked about him here. Keep your eye on him next spring because the Minor League Player of the Year usually is in the majors by the next year (it was with Wieters, Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Delmon Young, and you get the point); whether it is to start the season, or by the middle of the season, he’ll be up sooner rather than latter.

Josh Lindblom | SP/RP | Los Angeles Dodgers | DOB: 6/15/87 | 6-5 | 220 lbs | Bats/Throws: Right | LAD #4 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
The Cube: Control (96) | K-Rating (85) | Efficiency (95)

He transferred twice while in college, and during his last transfer when he went to Purdue, he switched from a starting pitcher to their closer. This caused his draft value to drop the following year. The Dodgers swooped in and drafted Lindblom in the second round. The Dodgers wanted to stretch him back out into a starter and they did that in 2008. He didn’t pitch that much in 2008 because of his career innings and that he had to be stretched back out. However, this year he started 14 games (11 in AA), but he pitched out of the bullpen in 17 games at AAA. This could be for a few reasons, though I am speculating as I didn’t find any article detailing the switch back. The first reason I can think of is to keep his innings down but allow him to work on his pitches all year. Secondly, the Dodgers want him in the closer role (I doubt it). Lastly, there is no third option.

Lindblom possesses a fastball that can reach 96 mph when he pitches out of the bullpen, but it stays around 89 to 94 mph when he starts; a slider with a fair amount of lateral movement; a splitter that induces a good share of ground balls and strikeouts; and a change-up that he rarely uses (as of spring 2008). He has a striking command of the mound, a smooth delivery, but his high arm slot makes it easy for batters to pick up the pitch. On a praiseworthy note, Peter Gammons during spring training said of Lindblom, “Best young arm I saw all spring in Arizona.” Here are his stats:

08 (totals) 9.8 K/9 | 1.3 BB/9 | 34 IP | .5 HR/9 | 2.12 ERA | .71 WHIP | 9/9 GS/G
(A) 10.24 K/9 | 1.24 BB/9 | 29 IP | .62 HR/9 | 1.86 ERA | .62 WHIP | 8/8 GS/G
(AA) 7.2 K/9 | 1.8 BB/9 | 5 IP | 0 HR/9 | 3.6 ERA | 1.2 WHIP | 1/1 GS/1
09 (totals) 7.7 K/9 | 2.4 BB/9 | 96 1/3 IP | .7 HR/9 | 3.83 ERA | 1.19 WHIP | 14/34 GS/G
(AA) 7.22 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 57 1/3 IP | .63 HR/9 | 4.71 ERA | 1.2 WHIP | 11/14 GS/G
(AAA) 8.3 K/9 | 2.77 BB/9 | 39 IP | .69 HR/9 | 2.54 ERA | 1.18 WHIP | 3/20 GS/G
As SP 7.67 K/9 | 2.18 BB/9 | 95 IP | .66 HR/9 | .98 WHIP
As RP 8.92 K/9 | 1.24 BB/9 | 36 1/3 IP | .25 HR/9 | 1.05 WHIP
Career .269 BABIP

He has performed well in both roles (starter and reliever) and could be used out of the rotation as soon as spring 2010. He has above average control (2.1 BB/9 for career), above average strikeout rates (8.2 K/9) but he has only pitched in 130 professional innings. If the Dodgers want to use him as a starter, his innings should be severally limited. If he makes the team as a reliever he could help all you, MR. Bs (Middle Reliever Believers). Realistically, the Dodgers are going to make him a June call up to save on arbitration and his innings. He looks like he could be an adequate number three starter or top of the line closer or end of the bullpen-type pitcher.

Chris Marrero | 1B | Washington Nationals | DOB: 7/2/88 | 6-3 | 210 lbs | Bats/Throws: Right | WAS #3 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
The Cube: Power (90) | Speed (1) | Contact (34) | Patience (46)

Per request of Glenn Gulliver’s Travels, here is Washington’s top hitting prospect (with Michael Burgess a close second). Having spent most of 2008 on the disabled list with a broken fibula from catching his cleat in the dirt while sliding home, he bounced back this year hitting extremely well. He started rookie ball at age 17, which is the same age Vitters started rookie ball. However, Marrero has played in a league higher than Vitters at each age jump, performing far better at each level. Marrero is projected to hit 20 to 25 homers with decent average and above average plate coverage and average plate discipline. He is a below average runner and defensive range at first base, but does have a good arm and soft hands – which serve little worth if he cannot get to the ball. Scouts, managers and team reps rave about his work ethic and have high hopes. Here are his stats:

06 (R) .309/.374/.420 | 81 AB | 0/.111 HR/ISO | 23.5 K% | 9 BB% | .403 BABIP
07 (totals).275/.338/.484 | 484 AB | 23 HR
A .293/.337/.545 | 222 AB | 14/.252 HR/ISO | 17.6 K% | 5.9 BB% | .302 BABIP
A+ .259/.338/.431 | 255 AB | 9/.173 HR/ISO | 24.7 K% | 11.1 BB% | .338 BABIP
08 (A+) .250/.325/.435 | 289 AB | 11/.203 HR/ISO | 21.5 K% | 8.9 BB% | .279 BABIP
09 (totals) .284/.358/.452 | 489 AB | 17 HR
A+ .287/.360/.464 | 414 AB | 16/.176 HR/ISO | 23.4 K% | 9.2 BB% | .312 BABIP
AA .267/.345/.387 | 75 AB | 1/.120 HR/ISO | 24 K% | 9.6 BB% | .339 BABIP
Career:
Against LHP .300/.386/.462 | 327 AB | 13 HR
Against RHP .269/.333/.458 | 970 AB | 37 HR

The Nationals have not produced a top hitter since Ryan Zimmerman back in 2006. They have had talented players in their system, they just don’t pan out. Marrero is by far their best power hitting prospect and, at only age 21, he still has time to produce. He should start in AA to open the 2010 season and possibly move up to AAA by the middle of June and get a chance to show himself to the world by September – assuming he doesn’t get injured or struggle with the jump to AAA. However his promotions go, he still strikeouts too much for a hitter to have an average over .275 and his plate discipline is adequate – nothing spectacular, but nothing awful – and his ISO has been average too. He isn’t the sexy power hitter like Mike Stanton, the all round player like Heyward, or even the hitting scarce position prospect like Carlos Santana. However, he reminds me of Kyle Blanks did this year before he went down with an injury. He has the potential to be the Nationals starting first baseman by 2011.

From Around The Web

  1. Mark says:
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    It’s interesting you use the names Young, Gordon, Bruce, and Wieters. Has any of them really done much of anything? Talk about failing to make the grade those guys (so far) are the cover boys. While I think there’s still time for Wieters, I don’t know how the other guys are going to turn it around. Bruce is a poor man’s Adam Dunn.

  2. Stephen says:
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    @Mark: Gordon and Bruce have another year before you can label them bust, and even then that is pushing it for being so young. Speaking of young, Delmon is only 24. Look at how long Nelson Cruz took to not be a Quad-A player. He is 29 and didn’t play a full year in the majors until this year. They may be bust as the next great player in the league, but their value isn’t removed.

  3. Lines says:
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    Dear Joel Pineiro,

    The Marlins? Really? Of all the teams to whom you could give up 4 runs in 4 innings, you chose the Florida fucking Marlins? Not cool, dude. Not cool at all. That bike you wanted for your birthday? You can forget it. And that Nerf Bow & Arrow? Not a chance. You need to think long and hard about how your actions affect other people before you pitch like that. You think about it, and when you’re ready, you can rejoin my rotation. But not a moment sooner.

    Regretfully,
    Lines

    PS – 2 fucking strikeouts? Dan Uggla’s on the Marlins! He’d strike out twice if they were hitting off a batting tee! Fuck!

  4. Stephen says:
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    @Lines: Without a doubt, you made my day full of the snuffles and clogged sinuses immensely better. Clearly, Uggla forgot where the tee was.

  5. and1mcgee says:
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    Cueto scratched for tomorrow. Maloney starting in his place. Cueto sent home sick… whatever that means.

  6. Lines says:
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    @Stephen – Glad I could help. Hope it doesn’t take anything away that it was actually 5 innings, not 4, and my anger towards Pineiro was mitigated by getting a save from Leo Nunez out of the deal.

  7. Lines says:
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    Dan Uggla still sucks, though.

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