Saturday, January 5, 2008
Those That Missed The Cut Pt. 1
The following is a brief rundown on the prospects THAT did not make my Top 25. Questions, comments, and criticism are welcome. I’m going to attempt to have the Top 25 done by the time ST rolls around, but…no guarantees. The following list isn’t in any specific order. Ages listed are “baseball ages” for the 2008 season.
Eric Duncan, 1B, 23 In Duncan’s time in the Yankee minor league system I have ranked him as the 3rd (‘04), 1st (‘05), 2nd (‘06), and 10th (‘07) best prospect in the organization. While Duncan’s high initial rankings were due in part to the Yankee system being terrible, I think that knowing what I know now, I would not have ranked him as high. 2007 was the same old story for Eric. He drew a good amount of walks and didn’t strike out too much, but an inability to hit for average killed his overall numbers: .241/.323/.389. I’m at the point where I don’t believe Duncan will ever learn to do that and his power, on base skills, and defense aren’t strong enough to make him worthwhile unless he can his average up a lot. The Yankees seem to have soured on Eric as well, leaving him unprotected for the Rule V draft, where no one picked him up. It can no longer be said that “Duncan is so young, players his age are normally in [insert favorable minor league level here]” and being what he is, a “slugger” who has trouble providing offensive value due to an inability to turn quality ABs into quality outcomes, I could not leave him in my top 25.
Chris Garcia, RHP, 22 If he can somehow get healthy and stay that way, Garcia has the ability to make me look stupid for leaving him off. However, having missed time due to TJ surgery and then a knee injury while rehabbing, which followed a ‘06 where he also struggled with injuries…I’m beginning to think Garcia just won’t stay healthy enough for long enough to show why some talent evaluators felt he had more ability than Phil Hughes.
J.B. Cox, RHP, 24 Cox could also make me look foolish, but in my defense, he was one of the last guys cut. I’m confident that he will be back to some level of “normal” this year, but a guy coming off an injury whose projected future ML role is 7th inning guy didn’t strike me as someone I wanted in the top 25.
Tim Norton, RHP, 25 This one really hurts. Norton had filthy stuff. Great low to mid 90s fastball and developing splitter. While the Yankees were using him as a starter, he seemed destined for the bullpen as a shutdown reliever. Unfortunately, 5 starts into his ‘07 he had to undergo shoulder surgery, which is not something I tend to be forgiving with.
Brett Gardner, OF, 24 I think this is the one I’m going to get the most hate for, but…I just don’t see it. I’ve gone over his stat lines numerous times, I’ve seen him play, and I just don’t get the Brett Gardner love. Last year I said he could be “the player that everyone thinks Scott Podsednik is” in ranking him 16th and now I think he might just be the real Scott Podsednik. He is not Jacoby Ellsbury. Brett MAY be just as fast and while they may provide equivalent baserunning value, that’s about the only area where they are comparable. Instead of making him a standout defender, Brett’s speed helps him to be a good one due to his making his share of poor reads on the ball. In addition, at the plate, while Jacoby is never going to hit for much power, he has far more than Brett and that is going to help Jacoby’s skills translate to the major league level. Brett walks a good amount now, but major league pitchers are going to knock the bat out of his hands rather than walk him. He also strikes out way more than a player of his skill set should, but has made progress in that regard. Overall, Brett Gardner is REALLY fast and may one day use that to turn into a 5th OF or something, but that’s not enough.
Steven Jackson, RHP, 26 Jackson is a sinkerballer who gets his share of groundballs, but makes far too many mistakes, leading to an elevated home run rate. Outside of his sinker, 88-92, Jackson didn’t demonstrate much in the way of secondary pitches. He’s looking like a one pitch guy, which eliminates him from being a starter long term, and his one pitch isn’t dominant enough to make him a great reliever, at this point.
Alberto Gonzalez, SS, 25 I really like Alberto Gonzalez. It was really tough for me cut a guy from the top 25 who I believe is a really good defender with a developing bat. For the Yankees he could be one of the league’s best backup infielders and on another club he may be a league average SS. I believe that whatever the Yankees did to Gonzalez when he was demoted to AA, it worked because he has been a very different player since then, making a huge cut in his K rate while upping his walk rate. This lasted through his AA time, his return to AAA, and is now carrying over in the winter leagues. Of course, if that improvement isn’t real he’s just a good glove who can’t hit and that’s not worth much.
Steven White, RHP, 27 White has a good fastball, in the low 90s, but it’s not a great fastball. He has decent, if inconsistent, secondary pitches. His control isn’t great. I think he could be Luis Vizcaino, a serviceable reliever, but not much else. He has no long term future starting.
Colin Curtis, OF, 23 Curtis looks like Brett Gardner without the speed. I wanted to believe there was more there last year, but it seems the scouts were correct in writing him off as a ‘tweener. He has time to change this evaluation, but it’s always scary when a guy who lacks power is promoted and proceeds to see good offensive numbers turn into terrible ones due to an increase in strikeouts and decrease in walks.
Chase Wright, LHP, 25 Wright has an average fastball and slightly above average change, but his control and command of all his non-change pitches leaves a lot to be desired. As a result, he is consistently behind in the count and this leads to predictable pitching sequences, which could one day lead to him doing something historic, like giving up a lot of homers in a row or something. The lack of command and control also makes Wright a less than ideal candidate for a bullpen role, so he doesn’t seem to have much of a big league future unless he can learn to command his very average stuff.
Kevin Whelan, RHP, 24 Thanks to a pretty good fastball and splitter combo, Whelan will always have supporters. Unfortunately, his control left him too frequently last year for him to put up the numbers he could/should have. I do wonder how his numbers would have looked if he were limited to just 1 innings more frequently. He’s a guy that I wouldn’t be surprised to see jump back on to the 25 next year.
*To Be Continued*
I agree that the situation is f’ed up, but the players and their union don’t have a say in choosing the commissioner. It might be nice if they did, but I doubt the owners want to give up that lever of power.
Besides, from a labor standpoint, it is a bit unreasonable—“not only do I want a say in my salary and working conditions, I want to choose my boss!”
I am still beating a dead horse from the previous entry, but this thing really bugs the hell out of me. Donald Fehr obviously cannot dictate to the owners who they will choose to represent them, but he should be more vocal in defending the players interests (individually as well as collectively) with respect to this PED witch hunt.
In defense of Ray Whelan, his control issues were most significant in the early part of his season at AA Trenton, and in small part due to Yankees pitching guru Nardi Contreras’ retooling of his mechanics. His control did improve towards the end of the season and he remained as unhittable as ever. Even considering his early-season struggles his final line at Trenton - a 2.98 ERA, only 34 hits in 54 innings with 68 strikeouts and only 2 HRs allowed (and, yes, 42 BB) - clearly points towards a dominant talent. His late-season numbers (1.14 WHIP and .151 BAA in the last month of the season) should make Whelan one of the Yankees most hopeful bullpen candidates for 2008.
I note that Ross Ohlendorf’s omission here means that he will make your list of top prospects. Like many here, I was favorably impressed by Ohlendorf’s pitching arsenal when he joined the Yankee bullpen late last season, but his “stuff” has never translated into such strong results on the field. Whelan boasts a mid-90s fastball, wicked splitter, and a slider that Contreras think may become his best pitch - AND has translated this repertoire into missed bats and low BAA’s throughout his minor league career.
The only reason to omit Whelan from a list of 25 Yankee prospects is if you don’t think Whelan’s mechanical overhaul was related to his late-season improvement in control. He’s already proven himself to be a dominant force on the mound, and I think he can contribute to the major league squad at a high level in 2008.
Whelan should be treated very gently. His stuff is oh so nasty. Guidry couldn’t throw strikes at that age either. I’m for letting him throw regularly and not having pitching coaches try to reinvent him every month.
I also think its kinda cool that the Pittsburgh Steelers are letting a great actor like Don Cheadle coach the team tonight. He has put on a few pounds, but I’m sure its him.
Do you have links to your previous rankings?
It’s hard to complain about who’s not in the top 25 when you don’t know who IS in the top 25. However…
I’m higher on Gardner than most. I don’t think his lack of power - at the age he is at - is much different than that of several other players of his style. That is, great speed good on base. I’m not going to look up the numbers again, but I don’t think he was that much different than Knoblauch or Lofton at that age. No, I don’t see him being as good as those players, but…I can see him being at least a solid 4th OF’er, perhaps being a league average starter for a few years at his prime. I can’t complain about a 4th OF’er being placed out of the top 25 though…
Whelan I think has a chance to be a solid set-up man for several years. Top 25? I think for a reliever you would hope top 25 would be closer level, and I don’t know if Whelan can do that, so him being out is OK.
Finally, Eric Duncan…this is a big year for Duncan I think. He’ll start in AAA again, and he could end up anywhere in between back at the top of the prospect list, penciled in as the 2009 starter, to sent back down to AA. I still think he has a solid chance to be a good Major League player, but if he doesn’t make real progress this year, it won’t be for the Yankees for sure.
Merry New Year everyone. Here’s to a grand ‘08.
Hard to quibble with a list of guys not in the Top 25…though I probably would have included Whelan and Gardner in mine. I just think Whelan has too much impact potential not to be.
Steven Jackson you could have left out of the top 45 and I wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. Other than that, look forward to seeing your list.
“I am still beating a dead horse from the previous entry, but this thing really bugs the hell out of me. Donald Fehr obviously cannot dictate to the owners who they will choose to represent them, but he should be more vocal in defending the players interests (individually as well as collectively) with respect to this PED witch hunt.”
CT Yankee, I think we are actually in complete agreement on this.
Previous entry: It's been a while...
There are currently 28 visitors who are not logged in.
There was a record 320 simultaneous visitors on October 23, 2012 at 5:17:14 pm.
Logged in users: winfieldfan