What a week! The MLB Draft and Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton were promoted to the majors.  After weighing my options, I decided on a few prospects that might take a little longer to reach the majors, with the pitcher the closest to making “The Show.”  (I contemplated names like Freddie Freeman, Peter Bourgos, Eric Hosmer, Stolemy Pimental, Lonnie Chisenhall, Zach McAllister, Brett Lawrie, and Christian Friedrich for those of you who are curious).

Mike Minor | LHP-SP | Atlanta Braves | DOB: 12-26-87 | 6′ 3” | 200 lbs | B/T: R/L | 2009 1st rd. pick 7; from College | ATL #4 ranked prospects according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page

Many experts considered the Braves drafting Minor with the seventh overall pick as an “overdraft.” He is hoping to prove them wrong. Poised with four pitches, Minor throws a plus changeup, a 86 to 91 mph fastball, a slider and curve that are “works in progress.” He mixes speeds well with his fastball, which helps him keep hitters guessing. Shows good command, ability to locate his pitches and has good control. His frame suggests he could add two to three MPH. When he “lights” up the radar gun, he is throwing between 92 and 93 MPH, but his pitch becomes flat and wild. Scouts say his changeup is “outstanding,”and it’s, “[his] best offering.” Baseball America calls him a savvy pitcher with middle of the rotation potential and John Sickels says he has a small margin for error.

2010 Stats: 12.9 K/9 | 4 BB/9 | 63 2/3 IP | 3.68 ERA | 3.06 FIP | 1.18 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 6.6 H/9 | .313 BABIP | 46.2 GB% | 13.9 LD% | 29.1 FB% | 10.9% Hr/F

Career Stats: 12.5 K/9 | 3.2 BB/9 | 77 2/3 IP | 3.13 ERA | 2.80 FIP | 1.09 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 6.6 H/9 | .323 BABIP | 45.5 GB% | 14.4 LD% | 29.9 FB% | 8.9% Hr/F

After signing last summer, Minor threw 14 innings at Class-A in the South Atlantic League. In this brief stint, he simply dominated his opposition and posted a 10.9 K/9 without walking a batter. Yes, this is a small sample size and not much should be taken from this. With an entire offseason where most scouts and experts essentially ignored him – Keith Law left him off his Top 100 Prospects list and his Top 10 Prospects in the Braves organization list.  Minor has responded by leading the minors in strikeout-to-walk ratio of 91:28 in 63 2/3 innings. However, this increase in strikeouts has come at a cost in command. In a Q & A chat with Keith Law a questioner asked, “[Minor] is striking guys out like crazy … [is] he doing anything differently, or is it more a function of being more polished than the guys he’s facing? Was he ever supposed to be a big K guy?” To which Law responded, “Throwing harder – a good 2-3 mph harder – with the accompanying drop in command. The questions are: Can he improve his command without giving up the newfound velo? And can he maintain the velo for a full season? If the answers to both are ‘yes,’ his ceiling would jump to that of a [number two] starter.” Well, I’m a sucker for high strikeout starters when playing fantasy baseball, and I know Grey is.

His home park environment at Double-A in the Southern League isn’t necessarily a hitter’s park, but it isn’t Petco either. This year, it’s playing more pitcher-friendly than in the past, which shows in his Home/Away splits (2.37 home ERA and 5.61 away ERA). Another interesting split, although logical, right-handed batters are hitting .241 causing a 5.10 ERA while left-handed batters struggle hitting only .130 and causing a 0.84 ERA. The positives, he has posted a 1.12 GO/AO (46.2 GB%) this year, has a fairly normal BABIP (.313) and a home runs per fly ball percentage of 10.9%, his FIP suggests he is pitching without much, if any, “luck” and has experts eating their words. Sounds like the Braves have found another great pitching prospect.

Mike Trout | CF | Los Angeles Angels | DOB: 8-7-91 | 6′ 1” | 200 lbs | B/T: R/R | 2009 1st rd. pick 25; from High School | LAA #3 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page

With much poking and prodding from frequent commentators, this year’s biggest riser – in terms of prospect stock – has flooded the prospect blogsphere with comments like “… might end up in Top 10 (and not just organizational) … [P]otential superstar.” Okay, maybe that’s just Keith Law. Baseball America says Trout possesses a plus bat with good speed and strength, leading to a potential of average power and a line drive swing; plus-plus speed (3.9 seconds from home to first); ability to make quick refinements and adjustments at the plate; good plate discipline; above-average range in center with good instincts. John Sickels says he’s a polished hitter; excellent athlete; has a decent throwing arm; controls the strike zone well; power is coming; and is a fast learner. Keith Law finished his scouting report by saying he has strong walk and contact rates, but “wraps bat slightly before swing and front leg side gets a little soft on contact but his pitch recognition and bat speed compensate for this deficiency … fringy arm.” Now that you have the good and the bad in terms of scouting information, here is how his tools have played out in the minors.

2010 Stats: .373/.450/.560 | 209 AB | 21 XBH | 6 Hr | .187 ISO | 28/4 SB/CS | 33:25 K:BB | .427 BABIP | 43 GB% | 14.5 LD% | 41.9 FB%

Career Stats: .363/.436/.526 | 388 AB | 36 XHB | 7 Hr | .173 ISO | 41/6 SB/CS | 67:47 K:BB | .429 BABIP | 45.8 GB% | 15.6 LD% | 38.3 FB%

Historically, the Angels Class Single-A home park has played fairly neutral, if not more pitcher friendly than anything else. Nevertheless, Trout has pushed aside any obstacle that his hitting environment could have – the Midwest League isn’t necessarily hitter friendly – and has slashed his way to an impressive .373/.450/.560 line. What’s not so nice about his slash line is his higher-than-Mitch Hedberg batting average on balls in play (.427). Beyond this one point, his plate discipline looks great, his steals are beyond impressive – good success rate, high number, etc. – hits plenty of extra base hits, and his type of hit percentages (ground balls, line drives, and fly balls) are looking fairly nice for that “average power” ceiling the scouts are talking about. His Home/Away splits are nearly even, his lefty/righty pitcher splits are nearly even and I have nothing but praise to sing. I would expect a midseason promotion to Class High-A and his first real test at Double-A in 2011. The Angels are probably going to need his help sooner rather than later. I could see him posting an average of .300 with 15 homers and 45 steals in his prime. Sounds a bit like Jacoby Ellsbury to me too, or maybe that’s Carl Crawford I’m hearing. Either way, if he’s on waivers in your dynasty league, jump on him.

  1. Mr2Bits says:

    Would you drop Jenrry Mejía for Mike Trout in a dynasty league? Jenrry is rolling up to 50IP which forces me to roster him on my active squad. Not really sure if he has shown what I need to make that move.

    Here is my roster if I should drop one of these for him I’m open to it
    Dayan Viciedo – 3B
    Jenrry Mejia – SP
    Jacob Turner – P
    Casey Kelly – P
    Adeiny Hechavarria – SS

  2. Sean Field says:

    Grey, I followed your advice and sold high on Strauss.My proposed trade was Straus for Lester, approximately 3 weeks ago. After Straus 12th strikeout, I went to cancel the trade and the owner had already accepted and is now pending…Did I get enough bang for my buck? Whos a better pitcher from now untill the end of the year, Lester or Straus?

    12 team league, non keeper

  3. Killing Machine says:

    Gray or anybody,

    Going forward Carlos Lee or Adam Jones?

  4. Stephen says:

    @Mr2Bits: I’d pull that with the pitchers you already have.

    @Sean Field: I think it’s fair.

    @Killing Machine: I’d go with the veteran Lee.

  5. Mr2Bits says:

    @Sean Field:

    Lester as Strauss will be on IP restriction all year and wont be able to go deep to get you the win in tight games. Lester is good for and average of 2.5ERA/6-10ks/7IP

    Don’t let his 14k against the worst hitting team in baseball last night get you too moist. Not saying he will suck but Lester has a proven track record

  6. brad says:

    Stephen: What do we know about Jose Tabata?

  7. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: What are your thoughts on Tim Beckham? I own him on my dynasty league roster, and have read up about him with some people labling him a bust. The dude is like 21 years old….I don’t know, what do you think about him?

  8. Steve says:

    Media sub-editors will have a field day when Minor makes the Majors.

  9. uncdrew says:

    hahaha. Just saw an ESPN caption that Strasburg was only started in 68% of leagues.

    Did they just admit that a third of their leagues are abandoned come June each year?

    That cracks me up.

  10. BSA says:

    Well my team is riding some rookie nookie for a bit with Stanton last night and Tabata tonight. Both showed impressive first nights – no crazy Bruce stuff from Stanton – which I think works in his favor. As far as Tabata goes – I like that he slid in and did what his numbers said he would do.

    Talk to me next week when the pendulum swings.

    Stephen – nice write up on Tabata.

  11. barker says:

    what about arrieta should he be rostered in 20 team leagues

  12. Stephen says:

    @BSA: Ha. I will be back. Promise.

    @barker: In a 20 team league, yeah, someone should be on his wagon. I just wouldn’t start him versus the Yankees on Thursday. I am actually hoping to roster him after getting rocked by the Yanks. But I’m pessimistic with any rookie pitcher, or any pitcher for that matter versus the Yanks. I benched Brandon Morrow’s stellar outing versus the Yankees in my 20 team league. So, there is that.

    In short, Arrieta should be owned by someone. If you have the free piece, it should be you.

  13. Bring Back Pluto says:

    Stephen, do you prefer Minor or R. Delgado for fantasy purposes?

  14. Stephen says:

    @Bring Back Pluto: Minor is much closer. Delgado will be getting pimped in 2 years.

  15. Stephen says:

    @Bring Back Pluto: Meaning, I like them both. Just that Minor is closer to the majors.

  16. barker says:

    drop colvin for arrieta — just picked up tabata yesterday

  17. pat says:

    what do i do with nolasco? give him a chance?

  18. Stephen says:

    @barker: Colvin is what you’re hoping Tabata will do but with more steals. I’d say no.

    @pat: Yes, give him a chance.

  19. Adam says:

    Thanks for Minor and Trout. I’ve looked forward to your thoughts on them. Any thoughts on Dan Hudson (8-2, 3.86, 77 K, 65 IP, for AAA)? Can he get a call-up with the White Sox this year?

  20. Stephen says:

    @Adam: One of those starters will go on the disgraceful list. I’d imagine Hudson to be the one to be called up. He has rebounded nicely from his early season struggles.

  21. Adam says:

    Alex Liddi (Peguero’s teammate, who I said was providing protection in that lineup) made the Prospects Hot Sheet with the comment that his bat will carry him to the big leagues. Maybe Seattle’s prospects bode well for the future?

  22. Stephen says:

    @Adam: I think this year was kind of a turning point. Liddi and Peguero weren’t expected to play like they have this year. If the Mariners are still out of contention by the trading deadline, do you think they will trade Lee? If so, they could restock their farm system (like the Phillies did). Speaking of the Lee trade, Aumont was recently placed on the DL.

  23. Adam says:

    @Stephen: Lee will definitely be traded for a couple prospects. The only problem is that he’ll be a one year rental for whoever wants him, and teams might be reluctant to give up too much (like my Mets). Seattle has too many table setters and no one to drive them in, so I doubt they’ll contend. Aumont has a history of injuries and I’d be surprised if he ever makes it.

  24. Adam says:

    I need your help with Alex Gordon’s future. He’s raking right now, but in a hitter’s league. If you had to make a prediction for 2-3 years ahead, will he be:
    a) irrelevant
    b) a boring (arguably solid) .265, 20 hr guy, or…
    c) an electric .300+, 30+ HR stud

  25. Stephen says:

    @Adam: He is playing in the PCL, but he is a legitimate big league hitter, as is Kila Ka’aihue. The Royals are, well, royally screwing over a few minor league hitters. Gordon could be the next Michael Cuddyer. Boring but 20 to 25 homers with a .275 average. He probably wont be the 30 homer with a .300 average that everyone thought, but there is a possibility that he could do 25 homers with a .300 average. He’ll be a double post-hype sleeper. I like him, he should just get traded – preferably to the Twins.

  26. Adam says:

    @Stephen: Agreed. I’m curious, besides fantasy, do you also invest in any prospects via baseball cards? If so, I’d love to shoot some ideas back and forth with you.

  27. Stephen says:

    @Adam: I invest in prospect handbooks (Baseball America and John Sickels currently) and an obscene amount of time with the minor leagues (or obscene when I consider how much information there is that I am missing too). However, I never really got into sports cards. With I was a bit younger I bought a few boxes of football cards – I actually have two complete sets of the series that I bought. For whatever reason, I never found it extremely interesting. I liked all the stats and remembering all the players, but I just didn’t have a community where trading happened or would ever happen.

    Nevertheless, I am still interested in hearing these ideas.

  28. Adam says:

    @Stephen: Well, it’s like any other investment and the marketplace is ebay. I simply try to buy low and sell high. For instance, right now everyone is infatuated with Strasburg, Heyward, and Stanton. So all the money is flowing into their cards (e.g. Strasburg’s rookie is up to $35, his autographed rookie, which is an actual card you pull from a pack, is over $400). So, as people spend all their money on that, there’s little money (i.e. demand) left for other worthy prospects. I try to find overlooked guys (like Alex Gordon right now) and buy a bunch of their stuff for cheap. Sometimes, the investment pans out quickly if hype begins and the crowd flocks. For me, I hit on a prospect every now and then, but it’s mainly a hobby just like fantasy. I would throw some ideas, but it’s tough if you’re not familiar with the specific cards and brand names.

  29. Steve says:

    @Stephen: In a keeper, grab a cheap Desmond Jennings or a cheap Pedro Alvarez?

    It’s a 3 x OF league, and I already have Pence ($14) Car-Go ($10) and Stanton ($5) as relatively cheap keeper OF options for next year. It’s 10-team and we keep 6.

    My current 3B is Stewart who will be $10 to keep next year.

  30. Stephen says:

    @Adam: Makes sense. Maybe I’ll look in to the hobby when I have a bit of extra cash.

    @Steve: Keep just 6 players? Is there any other restrictions? Alvarez for power, Jennings for speed. Personally, I’m going with Alvarez as Jennings has more health concerns (injuries in the past and all his value is tied to his speed).

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