It has been quite a week in baseball. All this Jeter coverage is getting old, especially when that is all EPSN talks about, which coincidentally means all media outlets will too. While somehow this passed me by – Madison Bumgarner debuted in the majors last night throwing 5 1/3 innings of 2 run ball while having a 4:1 K/BB ratio (all in 76 pitches) against the offensively challenged Padres. Brandon Medders eventually blew the lead in the seventh to spoil the win for Mad-Bum. I wrote about him back in June; guess I was right about the late season call-up after pitching brilliantly all season. However, as the Giants also called up Buster Posey earlier this September, they might be playing more for now then they are for years down the road. On a positive note, Bumgarner has only pitched 136 2/3 innings this year (including last night), which is actually 4 2/3 innings less then last year (maybe they were planning this all along? This is one of those things that make you go “hmm”). Also, this year, Bumgarner has seen his K/9 go from 10.4 in 2008 to 6.3 in 2009 between A+ and AA and he walks one more batter per nine (1.3 to 2.3 BB/9). Just so you know. Oh, and Desmond Jennings recently got compared to Carl Crawford while the world went C-to-the-RAZY over his 7 for 7 day. Though I beat them to the punch, by about oh, three months.
On a separate note, being the uber nerd that I am, I decided to look at how many players from each team I have talked about and which teams I have missed (CLE, MIL, NYM, TOR, COL, WAS, LAD, SEA, LAA, DET if your curious). I did this first to see if I only talked about the top teams according to farm ranking, in short, yes, yes I did. In all fairness, some of the lower ranked teams had already called their top players up, or they don’t have an immediate impact player to talk about (for example, name a Washington National player not named Strasburg that isn’t already in the majors you would like to know more about). With this said, I am going to try and finish the year talking about some of the other teams (that I failed to mention so far) prospects that were on their roster during this past winter. If there are any objections, speak now. I would love to hear recommendations from those teams, please shoot them my way via comments (ps, I am writing about CLE and SEA today).
Lastly, if you are interested in seeing Marc Hulet’s (a respected prospect and minor league writer) “players to watch” in the Arizona Fall League this year (by team(s)), this is an ideal link for you; or you could just go to MiLB’s page here. Oh, and for your enjoyment, I just found a minor league split-stats page for, well, minor leaguers. It’s pretty nifty if you ask me. Ok, coffee has been pounded and on with the (relatively) unknown.
Phillippe Aumont | RP (SP) | Seattle Mariners | DOB: 1/7/89 | 6-7 | 220 lbs | Bats/Throws: Left/Right | SEA #3 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
The Cube: Oddly, Phillippe does not have any Cube ratings, see for yourself.
Maybe the Cube doesn’t like Canadians; those ethnocentric infidels. No, but seriously, Aumont is Canadian. Why you ask is this important? First, when hockey is your dominate sport nine months of the year, baseball tends to be overlooked (especially in Quebec – his home province – or more specifically Hull, Quebec, Canada). This directly lead to his relative lack of baseball experience and development as there was no high school baseball team. Secondly, he had to travel great distances for scouts to even see him throw a ball by playing on traveling teams. Somewhere along his playing after traveling long hours a few Mariner scouts said, “WOW!” and he was drafted in the first round with the eleventh pick in 2007.
Yes, the scouts said more than that. Like how he has a 90 to 95 mph fastball that has heavy sink and slight horizontal movement; a curve with a tight bite; and height that is ideal for a pitcher. Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, his ball has a lot of deception. However, he hasn’t always stayed on top of the ball resulting in poor command (career 3.5 BB/9). Also, some have noted that his straight and stiff left leg during his landing will cause arm and upper body stress. Time proved them right, last year he was shut down for some elbow soreness which eventually lead him to becoming a closer in 2008, and consequently this year too. Actually, he is being primed to be a closer because he is having difficulty developing a third pitch. One site I read compared his potential (right after the draft) to players like this:
Well before I say more, here are his numbers:
08 (A) 8.1 K/9 | 3.1 BB/9 | 8/15 GS/G | 55 2/3 IP | .6 HR/9 | 2.75 ERA | 1.168 WHIP | 2 SV | .282 BABIP | 3.58 FIP
09 (totals) 10.4 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9 | 0/44 GS/G) 51 IP | .7 HR/9 | 3.88 ERA | 1.33 WHIP | 16 SV
09 (A+) 9.4 K/9 | 3.2 BB/9 | 29 G | 33 1/3 IP | .8 HR/9 | 3.24 ERA | 1.08 WHIP | 12 SV | .263 BABIP | 3.53 FIP
09 (AA) 12.2 K/9 | 5.6 BB/9 | 15 G | 17 2/3 IP | .5 HR/9 | 5.09 ERA | 1.81 WHIP | 4 SV | .436 BABIP | 3.6 FIP
For his career, he averages 9.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, albeit in only 106 2/3 innings. To make a conclusion right now would be difficult from such a small sample size. The control still seems to be a huge issue, but the talent is definitely there. Reminds me of Carlos Marmol, almost identical actually (Marmol’s career averages: 9.2 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 473 2/3 IP); although Marmol was a starter until the majors. At only 20, Aumont has plenty of time to develop into a productive, or adequate, major league pitcher whether or not the control comes. However, he may be deemed a bust because he was drafted to be a starting pitcher who could eat innings and be a mainstay in the top of the rotation. The way the Mariners are treating him would be to groom him as a late innings bullpen guy. Not a great way to spend a top draft pick. Although, if, or when, he makes the majors that view may be different as many draft picks (including top picks) never produce at the major league level.
With all that said, I would optimistically say he would be a late season call up in 2010, eventually battling for a roster spot in 2011 and getting called up midway through the summer. My pessimism ventures to say he won’t have a legit roster battle until 2012. A good comparison if he stays a reliever would be Marmol. I am sure there are other comparisons, but he would be the biggest name I can think of that everyone would recognize.
Carlos Santana | C | Cleveland Indians | DOB: 4/8/86 | 5-11 | 188 lbs | Bats/Throws: Switch/Right | CLE #1 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
The Cube: Power (83) | Speed (30) | Contact (65) | Patiences (94)
Leaving all musician jokes, puns, and terribleness behind, Santana is often compared directly to Victor Martinez and one can assume this is why they were willing to part with their aging veteran. Why so much praise and hidden hype surrounding him? First off, he is a relatively young catcher that can rake. “Young” here is meaning more than his 23 years of age would suggest. What I mean is he has only been catching since 2007. Before that he played third base and the outfield for the Dodgers. Sometime in 2006, the head-trust of the Dodgers decided to make a similar move that resulted in Russell Martin becoming a catcher. Consequently, Santana has only been catching for three years – so his hype is bumped up because he hasn’t taken the same physical tole as other catchers his age (like using the Latin age trick, but in a positive way; and it’s legit because he is from the Dominican Republic). The Dodgers, in midst of a playoff run (more specifically a wild-card race) in 2008, traded Carlos Santana to Cleveland in return for Casey Blake sans actually paying him (Blake) because Cleveland picked up his tab. This was a large determining factor for Cleveland to acquire Santana and one that the baseball world universally says will cripple the Dodgers catching position for years to come.
Prior to the 2009 season starting, only Matt Wieters ranked higher than Santana overall for catchers. Depending on ones’ value of defense and offense at the catching position, Buster Posey can be thrown into the mix (if you value defense more from your catcher than Posey may be ranked higher than Santana). Santana’s defense is definitely a comical event on most days. He struggled with 20 passed balls in 67 games in 2008 and countless errors. Even this year his defense only improved marginally (in numbers). He struggles going glove side down and away while also having difficulties blocking balls in the dirt. His accuracy throwing out runners is also slowly become more proficient. However, with a rocket of an arm, amazing plate discipline, 20 to 25 homer power, good average, and smart base running he is still an amazing prospect. To save time and several added years of stats, I am only going to show his stats since changing positions to catcher:
07 (A) .223/.318/.370 | 292 AB | 7/.147 HR/ISO | 15.4 K% | 12 BB% | 40:45 BB:K
08 (totals) .326/.431/.568 | 463 AB | 21 HR | 18.3 K% | 19.2 BB% | 89:85 BB:K
08 (A+ LAD) .323/.431/.563 | 350 AB | 14/.240 HR/ISO | 16.9 K% | 16.5 BB% | 69:59 BB:K
08 (A+ CLE) .352/.452/ .590 | 150 AB | 6/.238 HR/ISO | 22.9 K% | 16 BB% | 20:24 BB:K
08 (AA CLE) – had only 8 AB while suffering a minor groin strain
09 (AA) .290/.413/.530 | 428 AB | 23/.241 HR/ISO | 19.4 K% | 17.4 BB% | 90:83 BB:K
His splits against lefties/righties, RISP splits are as follows:
LH – .331/.452/.614 | RH – .269/.391/.487 | RISP .273/.451/.485
After struggling in his first year as a catcher, he started to rake in 2008 earning him the Carolina League MVP, and this year he was the Eastern League MVP. As the 2009 campaign progressed, he actually got increasingly better. Stellar walk rates offset the unattractive strikeout rate, good average, and… Well, I could keep raving about his numbers; I feel like a broken record. I definitely think a Victor Martinez clone would be appropriate (except for the height gap). He may get an extended look this spring and a mid-season call-up if he can handle AAA pitching – this is assuming his defense improves noticeably. My bold prediction is he makes it up in July 2010. While hiding away in Cleveland’s farm system might actually be a blessing in disguise for the fantasy world, this hiding may only last until ESPN jumps on others’ (I am looking at you Brad Evans) bandwagons and hype machines. Until then, for you deep keeper leagues hopefully the opportunity isn’t too late. For everyone else, get those waivers ready.