Nearly a year ago, I wrote my first Scouting the Unknown raving about Andrew McCutchen and Neftali Feliz. A lot has changed since then besides three hundred some odd days. There are weekly SportsCenter updates on phenom Stephen Strasburg (ignoring Drew Storen who will be called up before him); weekly grumblings about keeping Buster Posey in the minors from MiLB dot com; Mike Leake made the transition from facing college hitters to mowing down Major League hitting; Carlos Santans annihilating Triple-A pitching; Jeremy Hellickson continues to dominate Triple-A while Jesus Montero is flailing away in the same league and Starlin Castro skipped Triple-A altogether in a surprise May 7th callup. Those are just a few headlines that spring to mind.

With more and more national media attention on the Minor Leagues and prospects in general, I am starting to feel the pinch of trying to target prospects on the verge of getting called up while still writing about the prospects that are going to be hyped up next year. Most knowledgeable fantasy baseball players know Strasburg, Chapman, Carlos Santana, Montero, Matusz, Bumgarner, Hellickson, Jake Arrieta, Starlin Castro, Yonder Alonso, Tyler Flowers, Pedro Alvarez, and, of course, Mike Stanton. But what about Jerry Sands, Carlos Peguero, Kyle Gibson, Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery, Alex Torres, Kyle Weiland, Julio Teheran, Peter Faste, Eric Hosmer, Juan Francisco, and Lonnie Chisenhall? Although I may not get to all of the above names, they are guys you’re going to want to follow. Furthermore, I am going assume some of the bigger names are known. I will probably just give opening blurbs about the top prospects.

Starting from the same foundation is extremely important to reduce confusion (if there is still confusion after the foundation was built, the comments are a pretty good place to clarify). Every player’s name is linked to their Baseball-Reference page for full stats and their MiLB dot com page to find articles and awards. The Cube’s rating guideline is found here so those numbers aren’t too confusing.

Andrew Cashner | SP | Chicago Cubs | DOB: 9-11-86 | 6′ 6” | 210 lbs | B/T: R/R | Drafted 1st rd, #19, 2008 | CHC #4 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010)
The Cube: Control (38) | K-Rating (71) | Efficiency (88) | vs. Power (79)
MiLB.Com Player Page

Primarily a closer for Texas Christian University, the Cubs drafted Cashner with the intention of making him a starter. While at college, he was typically seen throwing between 96 to 98 mph, and at times touching 99 mph, combined with a slider that was in the mid-80s with hard break – almost like a curveball – and a nonexistent changeup. When he transitioned into pro ball (2008), he struggled with his command, posting a 10.4 BB/9 rate in 20 innings. Although he racked up a 8.6 K/9 ratio, his track record of poor command was confirmed. The following season was a different story. Instead of walking everyone, he posted a 3.8 BB/9, but a disappointing 6.7 K/9 between High-A (42 IP) and Double-A (58 IP). The good news, he gave up only two home runs all year, posted a 1.18 WHIP and an ERA of 2.60 (3.65 FIP). Currently, his career and 2010 stat lines looks like this:

Career Line: 7.9 K/9 | 4.4 BB/9 | 162 1/3 IP | 2.99 ERA | 3.79 FIP | 1.27 WHIP | .2 Hr/9 | 7 H/9 | .276 BABIP | 47.5 GB% | 16 LD% | 32 FB%
2010: 10.3 K/9 | 3 BB/9 | 42 IP | 2.57 ERA | .98 WHIP | .2 Hr/9 | 7 H/9 | .265 BABIP | 2.67 FIP

Aided by a low Batting Average on Balls in Play (.276 BABIP) for his career, it would be expected to see his ERA and FIP increase at higher levels. However, the complete opposite has happened so far. This could be due to a small sample size. Either way, after walking 23 batters in 20 innings during the 2008 season, he has walked 56 batters in 142 innings since (about 3.6 BB/9), while regaining his strikeout rate this year. In his first 42 innings in 2009, he had a 3.2 BB/9 and then posted a 4.2 BB/9 at Double-A. It will be interesting to follow him to see if this happens again. If it doesn’t, I would submit that in 2009, it is due to him building up stamina. Currently, he is showing better control in each progressive year. Although the sample size is fairly small, he is showing why he was taken in the first round. In the offseason, Baseball Prospectus interviewed Cashner, he noted that during the 2009 season he was a strict pitch count, saw great improvements to his changeup, and worked on his delivery mechanics.

The pros:  keeps the ball in the park, regained his strikeout rate and continues to lower his walk rate, fairly good ground ball to fly ball percentages (47.5 GB% | 32 FB%). The cons:  career stat line boosted by a low BABIP; small sample size on the command problem, plays for the Cubs. OK, the last con is a low blow. However, recent history isn’t on their side. Either way, with the surprising callup of Starlin Castro, a starting rotation held together by the Wrigley Field mortar, and a fan base that is forever impatient, the prospect that is getting compared to Kerry Wood may be called up sooner than anyone thinks. After throwing six solid innings at his Triple-A debut last week, if you lost out on the Strasburg sweepstakes, your eyes should start to gravitate towards Cashner.

Jose Tabata | RF | Pittsburgh Pirates | DOB: 8-12-88 | 5′ 11” | 215 lbs | B/T: R/R | Signed 2004 – Venezuela | PIT #2 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010)
The Cube: Power (33) | Batting (81) | Speed (72) | Contact (76) | Patience (44) Player Page

It feels like Tabata has been mentioned for years – it could be that he was playing Single-A at age 17. Signed by the Yankees in 2004, Tabata was labeled a power hitting right fielder for the Bronx Bombers for many years to come. However, a lack of maturity on Tabata’s part foiled that plan. The Yankees were fed up with his antics in 2008 – and needing help immediately – traded him, along with Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Daniel McCutchen to Pittsburgh for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. Over the last two years, Tabata’s scouting report hasn’t changed much. He has quick, strong wrists and a compact swing, which should translate his current gap power into homer power. Currently, he possesses slightly above average speed, but with a thick lower half — when his body matures his speed will be below average. His defense works better in right field were his strong arm plays well. In a pinch, he could cover center, but only for a couple more years. As with most young hitters, he tends to chase breaking pitches but current trends show improvement in this area. Sickels calls him a “skilled contact hitter … with line-drive power to all fields … projects to be a .285 to .300 hitter in the majors.”

Career Line: .297/.365/.404 | 1779 AB | 124 XBH | 28 HR | .107 ISO | 281:156 K:BB | 98/30 SB/CS | .340 BABIP | 57.7 GB% | 14.3 LD% | 27.7 FB%
2010: .321/.382/.423 | 137 AB | 9 XBH | 2 HR | .102 ISO | 21:12 K:BB |17/2 SB/CS | .385 BABIP | 64.3 GB% | 15.2 LD% | 19.6 FB%

After taking a look at his minor league numbers, I am appalled that everyone is writing off this 21 year old prospect. Prior to the 2007 season, Baseball America ranked him the 27th ranked prospect in the whole game. The next year he dropped to 37th. 2009? 75th. This year? No one is even talking about him. He was 19 in 2007. 19! There were several reasons why he kept dropping, but none of them would warrant a complete removal of his name from top prospect lists. Shoot, Carl Crawford posted similar minor league numbers as Tabata (see Crawford’s minor league numbers here). Although Tabata will never steal 50 bases, 30 may not be out of the question.

Throughout his career, his BABIP has always been a tad high (.340), but this just may show a knack for hitting (Ichiro has a career .358 BABIP). Pittsburgh acquired him in 2008, Tabata has posted a 82:52 K:BB in 599 at-bats. This isn’t overly impressive, but the strikeout totals show a contact driven hitter who has improved on his lower minor ratios. If I were to make a comparison, it would be BJ Upton with more contact and less power, Carl Crawford with less speed, and Denard Span. With Jeff Clement and Steve Pearce currently struggling to man first base, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Garrett Jones shift to first with Tabata being called up to play right field. Need some more speed in your outfield? Didn’t drafted The Dread Pirate? Grab his twin brother, Jose Tabata.

  1. GopherDay says:

    Interesting summation on both players.

    After only this year getting into a dynasty league with deep (15 player) minor league rosters, I have really started to make closer looks at these young dudes.

    15 minor leaguers, times 14 teams = 210 minor leaguers!!

    Anyhow, someone just dropped Aaron Crow, and I scooped him up almost immediately, but has there been any word on him lately? I read somewhere that some Minor League ‘Pert said he is turning out a lot like Hochevar…But I don’t know.

    Just FYI, here’s my roster:
    C Buster Posey
    C Chris Iannetta
    C Tony Sanchez
    1B Chris Carter (A’s)
    SS Tim Beckham
    OF Jaff Decker
    OF Ryan Kalish
    SP Matt Moore
    SP Simon Castro
    SP Mike Minor
    SP Mike Montgomery
    SP Zach Britton
    SP Alex White
    SP Arodys Vizcaino
    SP Nick Hagadone

  2. GopherDay says:

    Whoops…Swap out Kalish with Crow….Thats who I dropped.

  3. NF says:

    Grey (or anyone else for that matter),

    Does razzball have a mobile web address? I’d like to read razzball on my old pos phone, but the main site is too big to load.

  4. dude says:

    Stephen, good stuff, thanks a lot.

  5. uncdrew says:

    What is the latest on Stanton? The guy who grabbed him two weeks ago finally grew tired of it and dropped him. I need me some Eithier replacement (currently have Luke Scott).

  6. Maybe you should read up on Tabata more. The reason why people have written him off is because he is probably at least 4 years OLDER than they thought he was. If he hadn’t lied about his age he probably would have never been considered a prospect at all. Most of what he did was really only so impressive because he was supposed to be the youngest at each level he played at.

    Also, the reason why the Yankees traded him – he left in the middle of a game and tried to quit baseball.

    His wife, about 20 years older than him, is also a convicted kidnapper. Something he supposedly knew nothing about.

  7. Stephen says:

    @uncdrew: I would grab him if you can afford the roster space. Don’t drop Luke Scott for him. Who do you have that you believe is expendable?

    @dude: Thanks.

  8. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: I hear you, so you would drop Iannetta for Kalish? (He is still available).

    Pre-season I traded Nick Johnson for Iannetta…Sucks for sucks and hurt?

    Buck has done a marvelous job holding off the catching duties for my squad in the meantime.

    We have our yearly MLB draft soon, so I’m hoping Posey gets the call up so I can have an open slot. It kills me because there is so much talent out there!!

    Thanks for the Help Stephen!

  9. Stephen says:

    @GopherDay: It’s fair to hold onto Iannetta. If you’re looking further down the road, I’d take Kalish.

    “It kills me because there is so much talent out there!!” I feel the same way when thinking about all the minor league players. Too bad that philosophy killed my main 20 team fantasy league, but helped my other leagues (RCL and friends league).

  10. Black Beard says:

    Any idea when we can expect the June call ups to take place? Specifically interested in Posey and Santana. Thanks!

  11. Stephen says:

    @Black Beard: oooh, fortune-telling. My tarot cards say Santana in early June and Posey … oh his reading isn’t as clear – late June. Those are my guess-imates.

  12. Matt says:

    In the same vein as the first comment here. It is also my first year doing a Dynasty lg Although its kinda easy pickens due to owners just playing to play. neways heres my lineup currently for this year. Im keeping my eye on other like:Luis durango, Jay Jackson and Jacob turner, All who’ve ive heard great things about.
    Also hard to asses value as a minor leaguer. Im having trouble dealing Montero(yankees) Maybe because hes hitting .230 but i dont think owners care about that.

    C Carlos Ruiz, Phi C *
    1B Prince Fielder, Mil 1B *
    2B Robinson Cano, NYY 2B *
    3B Casey McGehee, Mil 2B *
    SS Everth Cabrera, SD SS *
    OF B.J. Upton, TB CF *
    OF Andrew McCutchen, Pit CF *
    OF Carlos Gonzalez, Col LF *
    UTIL Andruw Jones, CWS DH *
    UTIL Jack Cust, Oak RF *
    SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Col SP *
    SP Clayton Kershaw, LAD SP *
    SP C.J. Wilson, Tex RP *
    SP Clayton Richard, SD SP *
    SP Homer Bailey, Cin SP *
    SP Gio Gonzalez, Oak SP *
    SP Bud Norris, Hou SP *
    RP Ryan Perry, Det RP *
    RP Madison Bumgarner, SF RP *
    RP Clay Hensley, Fla RP *
    RP Craig Kimbrel, Atl RP *
    Bench Rick Porcello, Det SP *
    Bench Brian Matusz, Bal SP *
    Bench Stephen Strasburg, Was SP *
    Bench Buster Posey, SF C *
    Bench Aroldis Chapman, Cin SP *
    Bench Pedro Alvarez, Pit 3B *
    Bench Desmond Jennings, TB LF *
    Bench Michael Stanton, Fla RF *
    Bench Justin Smoak, Tex 1B *
    Bench Jesus Montero, NYY C *
    Bench Domonic Brown, Phi RF *
    Bench Jeremy Hellickson, TB SP *
    Bench Andrew Cashner, ChC SP *
    DL Jordan Zimmermann*, Was SP *
    DL Travis Snider*, Tor LF

  13. Matt says:

    Also im suffering with ” The more you know the tougher it is” with minor leaguers in Dynasty Lgs!

  14. Black Beard says:

    @Stephen: I know, I know. Figured I’d ask though. Thanks for the estimates.

  15. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: Alright thanks Stephen!!

    Don’t know if you follow the MLB draft beforehand, but I’ve got to draft players from there June 9th, and I don’t know squat about them except for Bryce Harper!!

  16. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Stephen: keeper league,i really dont need either this year so out of santana and smoak who would you want,i have victor catching lee and gonzalez at 1st and c.i,thanks and great updated post

  17. sean says:

    @Stephen: re: Tabata: I think Span is a bad comparison. Span mans center and has 25-30 steal speed. Not really sure how Tabata is going to find a starting position. He doesn’t have enough power to be a corner outfielder, and he doesn’t have enough speed to be a center fielder.

    5’11″/215 is pretty stocky for anyone not an NFL running back. If he’s not carrying the bulk of that in his upper body, he may truly become a man without a position.

  18. sean says:

    @Stephen: Any update on the Pirates’ plans for Pedro Alvarez? I know that LaRoche started sort of warm, but he’s sporting a 16/3/8/.254/0 line. Is June a decent possibility, or are we looking at September?

  19. joe from point pleasant says:


    The league im in allows 2 roster spots for minor leaguers and I have needs at SP and 3B. I am looking to pick up a minor league player that will make an impact ASAP. The two guys im looking at right now are moustakas and cashner.

    What are their ETA’s? and who do you think has a better shot of contributing this year?

  20. I like Tabata too. Impressive looking upper-body strength should translate into improved power as he fills out. Definitely on the radar.

  21. Deanjello says:

    What do you guys think of this trade?

    I get: Lester, Victorino
    Give up: BJ, Rasmus, Straburg, Ian Stewart

  22. Elbert says:

    if you had to pick one, which 2 of the 3 would you choose to keep going forward: Aaron Harang, Brett Myers & Jeff Francis?

  23. Howie Met Your Mother says:

    I can get Carlos Pena for Smoak. Is it worth it?

  24. artie says:

    El Caballo e back-o. Another Jack-o.


  25. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: Thanks Stephen! Your very detailed responses are awesome!! The links are very helpful!

    Another thing I’ve found kind of helpful is’s prospect preview thing…I’ll go look at the top picks from a mock draft and then go read up on them.

    Hopefully I get the #1 pick and can just grab Harper!

  26. Buddo Chezuski says:

    Stephen, what are your thoughts on Kyle Blanks at this point? I drafted him in the 20th round of a keeper league in which players only advance 1 round per year so if he were to turn it around there could be some decent value. I’m torn whether I should drop him and pick up an OK guy off waivers that could help right now at UTIL or keep riding it out with him on my bench

  27. Adam says:

    This world needs a Carlos Peguero scouting report. His numbers are up there with Stanton. I’d love to hear your thoughts on his high K’s, great protection batting leadoff for West Tenn, and OF competition within Seattle’s farm system. Does he have a big league future like his numbers indicate or will the aforementioned aspects hold him back??? Thanks!!

  28. Stephen says:

    @GopherDay: I’ll look into that MLB Player preview. Thanks for the heads up.

    @Bronx Baseball Daily: There are those concerns too, however, until it’s proven you can make light of his Latin 21 age. However, the most recent Baseball America seemed to place the age issue as a back burner problem – more like they aren’t worried about it.

    @Buddo Chezuski: You might want to punt Blanks if you can’t afford to hold him on your bench. His k’rate is ridiculous and he is nothing but a drain to your team if you are playing him. In 12 team leagues – even keeper like you said – at this point in the season you can’t start him. I think the long term he plays well, but he probably needs to refine his batting approach to become more successful in the long run.

    @Adam: I thought about him for this week. Peguero will be next week. I can almost promise that.

  29. Stephen says:

    @Bronx Baseball Daily:
    “Maybe you should read up on Tabata more. The reason why people have written him off is because he is probably at least 4 years OLDER than they thought he was. If he hadn’t lied about his age he probably would have never been considered a prospect at all. Most of what he did was really only so impressive because he was supposed to be the youngest at each level he played at.

    Also, the reason why the Yankees traded him – he left in the middle of a game and tried to quit baseball.

    His wife, about 20 years older than him, is also a convicted kidnapper. Something he supposedly knew nothing about.”

    The behavior concerns you mentioned while he was playing with the Yankees seem to have gradually disappeared while playing for the Pirates. He has started to mature out – assuming he is 21. If we assume he is older, even if he’s 25, he still has value to play in the majors. However, the Yankees traded him because they wanted immediate help, he was their top prospect (or in the top three) and the NYC media hype helped their case.

    I am not trying to be a Tabata apologist, just that his skills that are observable are showing he is going to be major league appropriate.

  30. Adam says:

    One more I’d love to see… Mike Trout (.373, 5 HR, 20 SB), praised for his work ethic, growing some pop, seems to get a multi-hit game every day.

    Thanks for Peguero — looking forward to it.

  31. Stephen says:

    @Adam: I swear your reading my mind/journal-notes.

  32. Pirate Jesus says:

    Kaz Matsui on waivers! There is a God!

  33. Matt says:

    Thx for the help Stephen. Btw i was excited for this article as i picked up cashner on a whim a week ago( kazmir-dropped)

  34. Adam says:

    One more not mentioned — Mike Minor (overlooked because he’s 1-3, but his last 4 outings produced 40 K in 24 IP, not to mention he adjusted against a formidable West Tenn lineup that previously beat him — 2 hits, 1 BB, 11 K in 8 IP — it’s these comeback performances that show a pitcher’s true worth)

  35. Stephen says:

    @Adam: You truly are reading my notes. He’ll probably be later down the road though. I’m looking at some of the higher leveled players.

  36. Stephen says:

    “… higher level players first.”

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