Upcoming: Transactions will be published later today, and stay tuned for posts about Prospects on the Move, the Prospect Injury Report and top major league rookies, all of which will be available on the Prospects Blog later this week.
The impact of the 2005 draft—particularly its first round—continues to reverberate through the big leagues. Consider the 10 players who, four years out, already have established themselves as regulars of import: Justin Upton (first overall), Alex Gordon (second), Ryan Zimmerman (fourth), Ryan Braun (fifth), Troy Tulowitzki (seventh), Mike Pelfrey (ninth), Jay Bruce (12th), Chris Volstad (16th), Jacoby Ellsbury (23rd) and Matt Garza (25th).
And that list does not include prep outfielders Cameron Maybin (10th), Andrew McCutchen (11th) and Colby Rasmus (30th), three talented youngsters who will seek to establish themselves this season. Nor does it include Joey Devine (27th), who has dominated as a big league reliever, but who cannot seem to stay healthy.
Nearly one year out, the quality of the 2008 draft’s first round appears to be similarly stout. And with the ’09 draft fast approaching, it feels like an appropriate time to take stock of the class of ’08. Here we’re considering performance during the month of May, only, with the caveats that, 1) it’s a long season, and 2) it’s still quite early, in career terms, for all these prospects.
Position players are listed first in a table, followed by pitchers. Players are sorted by draft order. Stats are through Monday, May 25. Isolated power (ISO) counts triples as doubles, while walk-to-strikeout ratios exclude intentional walks. Contact rate (CT) scales a batter’s strikeouts to his at-bats, with an 80% contact rate being average. Ages are as of Sept. 1, 2009—or roughly the end of the minor league season. As always, an asterisk (*) denotes a lefthanded batter/pitcher, and a pound sign (#) is a switch-hitter.
Five ’08 first-rounders did not make the cut, either because they did not sign (Aaron Crow, Gerrit Cole) or because they have not yet played this season (Jemile Weeks, Aaron Hicks, Anthony Hewitt).
|’08 DRAFT FIRST ROUND: POSITION PLAYERS IN MAY|
|PLAYER, POS, ORG||AG||LVL||LGE||G||AVG||OBP||SLG||CT||ISO||BBK|
|Tim Beckham, SS, TB||19||LoA||SAL||21||.346||.396||.494||75%||.123||0.38|
|Pedro Alvarez*, 3B, PIT||22||HiA||CAR||21||.247||.333||.506||71%||.259||0.33|
|Eric Hosmer*, 1B, KC||19||LoA||MWL||19||.254||.390||.397||78%||.143||0.86|
|Buster Posey, C, SF||22||HiA||CAL||22||.253||.326||.410||82%||.157||0.47|
|Kyle Skipworth*, C, FLA||19||LoA||SAL||15||.125||.169||.214||52%||.089||0.11|
|Yonder Alonso*, 1B, CIN||22||HiA||FSL||21||.351||.429||.541||84%||.189||0.83|
|Gordon Beckham, SS, CWS||22||AA||SL||16||.317||.333||.533||90%||.217||0.17|
|Jason Castro*, C, HOU||22||HiA||CAL||24||.282||.413||.459||78%||.176||0.79|
|Justin Smoak#, 1B, TEX||22||AA||TL||20||.297||.418||.432||75%||.135||0.74|
|Brett Wallace*, 3B, STL||23||AAA||PCL||21||.302||.358||.384||78%||.081||0.21|
|Brett Lawrie, 2B, MIL||19||LoA||MWL||23||.280||.368||.413||80%||.120||0.60|
|David Cooper*, 1B, TOR||22||AA||EL||24||.253||.294||.358||81%||.105||0.33|
|Ike Davis*, 1B, NYM||22||HiA||FSL||20||.260||.356||.390||76%||.117||0.58|
|Reese Havens*, SS, NYM||22||HiA||FSL||20||.182||.323||.325||84%||.143||1.00|
|Allan Dykstra*, 1B, SD||22||LoA||MWL||22||.267||.456||.480||74%||.173||1.25|
|Lonnie Chisenhall*, 3B, CLE||20||HiA||CAR||22||.363||.463||.638||80%||.263||0.81|
Who’s Hot: Indians first baseman Beau Mills won MVP honors in the Carolina League last year. With his performance in May, Lonnie Chisenhall is angling to make it two MVPs in two years for the Tribe. Though his home run total (eight) is only half that of league leader Cody Johnson, Chisenhall is a much more complete player. He’s batting .317/.404/.537 on the year, and his indicators in May all are strong. Chisenhall is tops here in isolated power, and he ranks among the leaders in terms of contact and batting eye. One area for concern: He’s amassed 15 errors already at third base . . . Yonder Alonso got off to a slulggish start in the Florida State League, batting .227/.302/.453 in April, but it’s been a different story in May. All his indicators are pointed in the right direction—and toward a promotion to Double-A . . . Playing in a tough league (Southern) and in tough ballpark (Birmingham) hasn’t slowed Gordon Beckham down a bit. Despite missing time with a strained abdominal muscle, he’s maintained an elite contact rate (90 percent) and isolated power mark (.217). His batting eye appears to be poor, but it breaks down as one walk and six strikeouts. He’s much closer to .50 on the season . . .Tim Beckham’s performance alone last year in the Appalachian League didn’t merit the top spot in our postseason ranking, but his tools and aptitude impressed everybody who saw him play. Well, he’s batting .313/.358/.433 this year and is looking a whole lot more like a No. 1 overall pick. He’s picked up his game considerably in May, though his 11 errors on the season highlight how difficult the transition to pro ball can be for a middle infielder.
Who’s Not: It’s hard to imagine a first-round pick getting off to a worse start than Kyle Skipworth—especially for someone taken sixth overall. We detailed him in last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, but with his poor start to the season, his career average has dipped below .200. He’s batting just.194/.247/.321 in 72 career games. A lefthanded batter, Skipworth this season has gone 2-for-26 against lefties and has hit just .148/.203/.259 in 15 home games, in one of the friendliest venues in low Class A . . . David Cooper tore up A-ball last year after signing, but the California native has scuffled through a cold spring in the Eastern League, batting .246/.303/.345 on the season with an uncharacteristically poor batting eye. New Hampshire coaches are working with Cooper to help him generate more power, but expect his average and on-base percentage to improve quite a bit as the season wears on . . . After briefly pacing the Florida State League in home runs earlier this month, Reese Havens has fallen on hard times. He’s making a ton of contact (84 percent), while showing a strong batting eye (an even 1.0), but in May he’s batting just .182 and slugging just .352. His luck is bound to even out.
|’08 DRAFT FIRST ROUND: PITCHERS IN MAY|
|Brian Matusz*, BAL||22||HiA||CAR||2.88||25.0||1.60||12.2||2.9||0.7||4.25||1.12|
|Ethan Martin, LAD||20||LoA||MWL||7.02||16.7||1.50||10.3||6.5||0.5||1.58||1.92|
|Andrew Cashner, CHC||22||HiA||FSL||2.45||11.0||2.33||9.8||5.7||0.0||1.71||1.91|
|Josh Fields, SEA||24||AA||SL||27.00||0.7||0.00||13.5||27.0||0.0||0.50||6.01|
|Ryan Perry, DET||22||MLB||AL||1.54||11.7||0.77||8.5||3.1||0.0||2.75||0.94|
|Christian Friedrich*, COL||22||LoA||SAL||3.22||22.3||1.13||12.5||3.6||0.4||3.44||1.34|
|Daniel Schlereth*, ARI||23||AA||SL||0.90||10.0||2.00||9.0||6.3||0.0||1.43||1.30|
|Carlos Gutierrez, MIN||22||HiA||FSL||1.17||23.0||4.20||6.3||4.3||0.0||1.45||1.13|
|Casey Kelly, BOS||19||LoA||SAL||1.27||28.3||2.14||6.4||1.9||0.0||3.33||0.67|
Who’s Hot: With a Gibsonian ERA of 1.12—which, oh by the way, paces the South Atlantic League—Casey Kelly has established himself as the hottest of the hot pitchers. While his strikeout rate has not been elite, Kelly’s stinginess with walks and home runs is a most encouraging sign, especially for a player taking his first stab at pitching as a pro. He played shortstop, exclusively, last year in short-season ball . . . Ryan Perry deserves special credit for jumping straight to the big leagues this season, where he’s shown dramatic improvement in May. He boasts an 11-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio with just seven hits allowed in 11 2/3 innings this month. His corresponding totals in April: 7-to-10 and four hits in 7 2/3 innings . . . Brian Matusz has flat-out overmatched Carolina Leauge batters this season. His 60 strikeouts rank first in the league and his strikeout-to-walk ratio in May (4.25) easily takes top honors here. He’s a prime candidate for a second-half promotion to Double-A . . . Though far from overpowering, Carlos Gutierrez has quietly put together one of the better seasons among first-round pitchers. He’s covered for a low strikeout rate for now by limiting baserunners and inducing a healthy number of groundballs.
Who’s Not: He signed with the Mariners during spring training this season, so Josh Fields had no previous pro experience before debuting in Double-A this season. His strikeout rate (15 in nine innings on the year) has been strong, but his control has been erratic (nine walks). He’s even blown two of three save chances for West Tenn. And now Fields hasn’t pitched since May 5 because of what the Mariners have dubbed dead arm . . . Like Casey Kelly, the only other first-round prep pitcher to sign last year, Ethan Martin did not pitch last season. Unlike Kelly, Martin has posted an overpowering strikeout rate (45 in 36 2/3 innings), but with much less control, especially in May when he’s walked 12 in 16 2/3 innings.
Seven Up, Seven Down
We present the top seven and bottom seven minor league clubs through games of Monday, May 25. The carrot (^) indicates a team that did not appear in last week’s ranking.
Why seven teams? It may not be as comforting to us as numbers ending in five or zero, but this way we encompass all the teams playing at the extremes. That is, all the clubs with .700 (or better) winning percentages are included, as are all clubs at .300 (or worse).
|TOP 7 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
|2||Brevard County||27||11||.711||Florida State||HiA||Brewers||W4||6-4|
|6||Fort Myers^||28||14||.667||Florida State||HiA||Twins||W4||7-3|
Dropped Out: West Michigan, .651; Visalia, .622.
|BOTTOM 7 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
|7||New Orleans^||16||28||.364||Pacific Coast||AAA||Marlins||W1||2-8|
Dropped Out: West Virginia, .386.
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