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*
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