With the 863rd pick in the draft, the Mariners selected outfielder Brandon Haveman, an outfielder from Purdue.
While Seattle’s 29th-round pick continues to terrorize Rookie-ball pitchers, his selection and subsequent assignment to the Appalachian League in June didn’t have quite the same impact as a handful of high school players taken at the top of the draft.
Remember, the Appy League is the domain of Orioles righthander Matt Hobgood (taken fifth overall), Astros shortstop Jionvanni Mier (21st) and Mariners catcher Steve Baron (33rd). It also served as home to Braves righthander Julio Teheran and Seattle shortstop Gabriel Noriega, a pair of 18-year-old international talents who pulled down high six-figures bonuses in ’07.
So with Appalachian League season winding down today, it seemed appropriate to take a look at a handful of the league’s top performers, players who have gotten their pro careers started on the right foot. But while these late-round ’09 draft picks were among the most productive players in the league, they may not factor highly—if at all—in our end-of-season prospects lists. The reason: their advanced age means that their tools may not develop much further. In other words, they may be as good now as they’ll ever be as pros.
Still, it’s better to hit (or pitch well) than not. And there’s nothing like a strong performance out of the gate to garner attention.
Pulaski LF Brandon Haveman (Mariners)
Age: 23. Drafted: 29th round, Purdue
At 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, he’s built along the lines of Brian Roberts, and the Mariners intend to try Haveman at second base in instructional league. The lefthanded hitter earned raves for his approach at the plate (18 walks, 25 strikeouts in 48 games), his ability to hit to all fields and his tick above-average speed. Haveman is batting .346/.409/.543 with nine doubles and five homers, and he ranks fifth in the league in average and third in both on-base and slugging.
Bristol LF Brady Shoemaker (White Sox)
Age: 22. Drafted: 19th round, Indiana State
The top hitter in the league, the righthanded-swinging Shoemaker leads all Appy Leaguers in on-base (.426), slugging (.585), doubles (21) and extra-base hits (30). He’s hitting .351, but he trails the current batting champ (more on him in a second) by two points. The slim deficit means that a few hits today could secure the batting title for Shoemaker, who caught the eye of opposing managers. One praised him for his opposite-field power, his ability to consistently drive the ball and his steady effort. Another labeled the 6-foot, 200-pound outfielder as a “now-body guy,” but someone with great hitter’s hands and the best present hit tool in the league.
“The ball has a different sound coming off his bat,” Princeton manager Jared Sandberg said. “He found the barrel most of the time, and he understands the strike zone as well. He’s going to have to hit as he moves up, but he has ability to do so.”
Danville 1B Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg (Braves)
Age: 21. Drafted: 16th round, Nova Southeastern (Fla.)
A physical 6-foot-2, 235-pound righthanded hitter who employs an open stance, Spanjer-Furstenburg was born in South Africa, where he played cricket and rugby as a youth. But he grew up in Florida, attending Coral Glades (Fla.) High and Florida Atlantic for two years. He’s made a smooth transition to pro ball in a deep, talented Danville lineup, earning league player of the year honors for batting .353/.406/.539 with eight homers and 52 RBIs in 61 games.
Early in the year, Sapnjer-Furstenburg flirted with a .400 average, topping out at .413 on July 29. He’s cooled since then, but still could win the league’s batting title. While he doesn’t run well and is limited to first base, he offers a disciplined approach at the plate (16 walks, 37 strikeouts) to go with solid hitting and power tools. If he carries power into next season, look for the strong first baseman to move quickly.
Danville LHP Matt Crim (Braves)
Age: 22. Drafted: 21st round, The Citadel
The Appy League’s pitcher of the year for his 10-2, 3.18 showing over 11 starts, Crim is 6-foot, 195-pound lefty who throws strikes and keeps the ball on the ground. While Crim doesn’t rank among the top handful of league pitchers in anything except wins, his raw stuff, clean arm action and command (48 strikeouts, 10 walks) are enough for him to continue as a minor league starter.
Crim ranges from 86-91 mph with his tailing fastball, a pitch that makes him difficult for righthanded batters to square up. For evidence, check out his 3-to-1 groundout-to-airout ratio and his five home runs allowed over 68 innings. At his best, his changeup and breaking ball rate as a tick above-average, and he throws strikes with both offerings.
Princeton RHP Scott Shuman (Rays)
Age: 21. Drafted: 19th round, Auburn
Despite his modest draft status, Shuman has a chance to move more quickly than any member of the Tampa Bay’s ’09 draft class. A reliever with a slinging, low three-quarters slot, he has fanned 29 batters while walking nine in 22 Appy League innings, sitting at 95 mph and touching 97 with his sinking fastball. The pitch features boring, tailing action, getting in on the hands of righthanded batters, and Shuman’s quality mid-80s slider gives him a weapon to the other side of the plate. He’s converted all three of his save chances and has allowed just four runs (two earned) for an 0.82 ERA.
Seven Up, Seven Down
It’s Tuesday, so that means it’s time to present the top seven and bottom seven full-season minor league clubs through games of Monday, Aug. 31. You can view last week’s ranking here. The G LEFT category simply denotes scheduled games remaining. The G LOST signifies canceled games, contests that are not scheduled to be made up this week, during the season’s last gasp.
|TOP 7 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
|NO||TEAM||W||L||PCT||LEAGUE||LVL||ORG||G LEFT||G LOST|
|5||Brevard County||76||46||.623||Florida State||HiA||Brewers||6||12|
|7||Fort Myers||79||53||.598||Florida State||HiA||Twins||6||2|
If they win out, Akron, Sacramento and San Jose all could finish with 96 wins. The rest of the teams here could max out at 95 wins. No minor league team last year won 90 games; Myrtle Beach finished with 89.
|BOTTOM 7 MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS|
|NO||TEAM||W||L||PCT||LEAGUE||LVL||ORG||G LEFT||G LOST|
And the worst case scenarios . . . losing all remaining games could leave Binghamton and Buffalo, both Mets affiliates, with 89 losses. The others here could range from 86 to 88 losses if they lose out. Fittingly, a pair of Phillies affiliates last season lost a minor league-leading 89 games. And just like the Mets this year, the clubs were Triple-A (Lehigh Valley) and Double-A (Reading) affiliates.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog