Ask BA

I’m just about all charted out when it comes to the 2010 draft, but I posted one more on our Draft Blog. This time, I compared the top 50 bonuses vs. the top 50 slots. It should come as no surprise that the slots are out of touch with reality—this year, they were out of touch by 37 percent.

    Many bloggers and non-professional analysts suggested that Stephen Strasburg's mechanics could result in injury, a claim which BA (among others) didn't agree with. In light of his recent injury, has there been any re-evaluation of what constitutes a healthy delivery? Mark Prior too was noted for his perfect mechanics, which obviously didn't turn out to be perfect.

    Sean O'Neill
    Boston

The story here isn’t that Strasburg had perfect mechanics and then got hurt. Unlike with Prior, no one suggested that Strasburg had a flawless delivery that would keep him healthy. He doesn’t throw with a lot of effort, so there were no major red flags, at least not for the many scouts we talked to about him. (I covered a lot of this ground in a 2009 column
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The story here is that every pitcher is at the risk of injury. That’s just the nature of pitching. Throwing a baseball is an unnatural motion, and there’s no such thing as a perfect delivery that can guarantee a pitcher won’t get hurt. Teams are devoting more time and money to keeping pitchers healthy, and to no avail. Almost every pitcher is going to sustain an injury at some point, and the cause isn’t always easy to pinpoint.

Did Strasburg need Tommy John surgery because of his mechanics? Because 68 big league innings and 55 more in the minors over a combined five months constitute the most stressful workload he’s ever had? Because he came back too quickly from shoulder stiffness a month earlier? Because he did something funny to his elbow throwing a changeup on the pitch he got hurt? Because a young arm just can’t handle the stress of throwing upper-90s fastballs and high-80s curveball? Because he was unlucky?

I could predict doom and gloom for any number of the game’s best pitching prospects, and I’d be right more than I wanted—because pitchers get hurt.

    Royals prospects Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers each have had great seasons. Each was a little different in what they did, where they did it, and they're one year apart from each other in age and pro experience. How would you rank them in terms of who had the best season and who's the best long-term prospect (assuming Myers moves to right field, like most believe)? I can see a case for ranking them in any order.

    Chuck Pattison
    Lenexa, Kan.

Moustakas, Hosmer and Myers are three of the best hitting prospects in baseball. Combine them with all the young arms the Royals have amassed, and Kansas City has the game’s best farm system and, finally, some real hope for the future.

I agree that with the two criteria Chuck has mentioned, you could line them up in any order. As prospects, I would rank Moustakas first, followed by Hosmer and Myers. Moustakas has the most power of any of them, and they’re all going to be playing positions where power is at a premium. He also has proven himself at a higher level of the minors and is close to major league-ready. Hosmer and Myers do control the strike zone better.

None of them will contribute much defensive value, as Moustakas will be an average third baseman at best (and may have to move), while Hosmer will play first base and Myers likely will wind up in right field. If Myers was a lock to stay behind the plate and be a solid defender there, I’d be very tempted to rank ahead of the other two.

To me, Myers’ season has been the most impressive. He has hit .310/.423/.496 with 79 walks as a 19-year-old in two difficult Class A hitting environments. By comparison, as 19-year-olds in Class A, Moustakas batted .272/.337/.468 and Hosmer put up .241/.334/.361 numbers.

After Myers, I’d give Moustakas’ 2010 performance (.321/.370/.614 between Double-A and Triple-A) the edge over Hosmer’s (.341/.407/.573 between high Class A and Double-A). Moustakas destroyed Double-A for an 1.100 OPS, though again, Hosmer has controlled the strike zone better.

    What do you think of Blue Jays outfield prospect Eric Thames? How soon do you see him getting to the majors and what kind of impact do you think he'll have?

    Scott Davis
    Kitchener, Ont.

    I've heard nothing about New Hampshire's Eric Thames this year, despite his impressive numbers in Double-A. I'm guessing some of this has to do with the fact that he's a left fielder/DH, so I assume his defensive potential is limited, but it's hard to argue with a productive bat. Will Thames crack BA's Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects list and does he have a chance at the overall Top 100?

    Stephen Blackmore
    Guelph, Ont.

Thames’ season is more impressive than his prospect status. Fully healthy after battling quadriceps injuries since the Blue Jays made him a seventh-round pick in 2008, he’s hitting .290/.372/.529 and ranks sixth in the minors with 101 RBIs.

However, he’s not easy to project as a regular on a big league contender. Thames’ strength and power stand out, but he has an aggressive approach that leads to a lot of strikeouts, and he may not hit consistently enough to be an everyday player in the majors. His speed and defense are fringy, so his bat has to carry him.

The Blue Jays have been on a mission to add prospects since Alex Anthopoulos took over last fall. They traded Roy Halladay, spent $11.6 million on the 2010 draft and have been aggressive on the international market, paying $10 million for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and $2.8 million for Venezuelan righthander Adonis Cardona. Thames has boosted his stock since we rated him Toronto’s 18th-best prospect in the 2010 Prospect Handbook, but that influx of talent will prevent him from moving up much in next year’s book. I don’t see him making our Blue Jays Top 10 and he won’t crack the overall Top 100. If he keeps hitting like he has this year, he could make it to Toronto by mid-2011.

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