If you didn’t notice, last week there was an announcement for my Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects. Drop a comment or two here regarding it, if there’s questions, omissions and the like. Now onto this week’s Scouting the Unknown.
He fell in the 2009 draft because of a stress fracture he suffered while pitching at Missouri; Keith Law saw him as a top 10 to 12 pick talent before the injury. Throwing a heavy 91 to 92 MPH sinking fastball, a good changeup (considered his best pitch) and a sharp slider, Gibson has proven his naysayers wrong this year. His four-seam fastball runs up to 94 mph, the changeup has good fade, and his slider, albeit inconsistent, has “sharp movement” and “good depth.” Towering on the mound at six-feet-six-inches, Gibson throws with a great downward plane keeping the ball on the ground. Although he lacks a true “out-pitch,” he has a stellar repertoire of pitches that he commands well with great control – very much a stereotypical Minnesota Twins pitcher. A fairly polished college pitcher with a number one starter upside.
2010 Stats: 7.8 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 130 2/3 IP | 3.03 ERA | 3.12 FIP | 1.15 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 8.1 H/9 | .302 BABIP | 56.9 GB% | 17.3 LD% | 22.4 FB% | 7.1 IF/F% | 6.8 Hr/FB%
After mastering Class High-A in seven starts, he continued pitching well at Double-A in his last 15 starts. The strikeouts may have dropped by nearly a fully strikeout between his promotion from Class High-A (8.3 K/9) and Class Double-A (7.5K/9), his control improved (2.5 BB/9 and 2.2 BB/9 respectfully), while maintaining his home run rate (.4 Hr/9); his BABIP jumped 46 points (.274 to .314) and a drop of ten percent on his ground balls (63.9 GB% to 53.7 GB%) during this same time frame. He threw 106 1/3 IP in his last year at college and while 130 2/3 innings this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish the year at Double-A. It would be great from a fan’s perspective to see him in September, but the Twins don’t typically promote aggressively. The Twins have another strike-throwing, pitch to contact pitcher rising in their minors – except this one keeps the ball on the ground (cough Scott Baker cough). Promising upside to anchor a solid major league team staff alongside Francisco Liriano. Expect him to compete to make the opening day roster in 2011. A September call-up would be pleasant, but don’t expect one to occur.
Want to know reason why the Braves signed Troy Glaus to a one-year contract? Freddie Freeman. Turning 21 in a little over a month, Freeman has consistently hit the ball well with his “sweet, fluid swing.” He currently displays doubles power, but scouts believe this gap power should, and will translate to more home runs (seems to be happening this year). He is an aggressive hitter but isn’t a free-swinger. Keith Law said before the season started that he doesn’t use his trunk well – his swing is in his arms; other scouts note that he generates good bat speed and has power potential to all fields. Compared to Mark Grace, except with more power, Freeman fields his position with an admirable passion (above-average fielder) and should hit for decent average and moderate power. Let’s take a gander at his numbers this year at Triple-A (International League).
2010 Stats: .298/.362/.500 | 366 AB | 42 XBH | 15 Hr | .202 ISO | 4/2 SB/CS | 69:36 K:BB | .330 BABIP | 47.7 GB% | 21.8 LD% | 30.2 FB%
Career Stats: | .295/.358/.464 | 1485 AB | 148 XBH | 47 Hr | .169 ISO | 11/13 SB/CS | 246:126 K:BB | .327 BABIP | 46.3 GB% | 17.4 LD$ | 36.2 FB%
First, Law made mention that he doesn’t have a platoon, but his slash line versus left-handed pitchers is .258/.304/.398 as compared to right-handed pitchers .320/.388/.547; there is definitely a splits difference that should be noted. His moderately high ISO (.202 ISO) is starting to show his power potential while keeping his strikeout-to-walk ratio within a sustainable range. Still hits a lot of ground balls (47.7 FB% in 2010 and 46.3 GB% for career) to sustain a high home run rate, but he is making solid contact (21.8 LD%) leading to doubles. Scouts differ on his power potential, 20 to 25 home runs or 30 to 35 homers. I’ll take the middle ground and say his upside is Justin Morneau (25 to 30 home runs) with a solid average (.285 to .315). He also needs to work on his platoon splits. Slowed by a sore wrist in 2009, his 2010 season is inspiring more faith and excitement for the upcoming year and for a September call-up. His first extended major league playing time, not just a debut, is opening day 2011 (think Heyward) or the next Troy Glaus injury.