If you check out our College Blog, you’ll see that John Manuel has a note about Oregon bringing back its baseball program in 2009 after dropping the sport in 1981. Ducks athletic director Pat Kilkenny told the Associated Press that Oregon State’s back-to-back College World Series championships had nothing to do with the decision, but I find that hard to believe. Without the Beavers showing that it was possible to make college baseball viable in the state, I doubt that Oregon would have resuscitated its program.
- The Futures Game obviously has showcased several future major league stars. But how many exactly have gone on to the major league All-Star Game? Three 2005 Futures Gamers already have done so: Francisco Liriano, Russell Martin and Justin Verlander.
Mark L. Peel
Arlington Heights, Ill.
One-third of the 66 players selected for the 2007 All-Star Game were former Futures Gamers. Josh Beckett, Prince Fielder, J. J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Martin, Justin Morneau, Jose Valverde and Verlander all made their first midsummer classic appearance. Fourteen repeat all-stars had Futures Game experience: Miguel Cabrera, Francisco Cordero, Carl Crawford, Victor Martinez, Brad Penny, Jose Reyes, Alex Rios, Francisco Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Grady Sizemore, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley and David Wright.
Though the Futures Game started only in 1999, it already has spawned 39 big league all-stars. The 17 others are: Lance Berkman, Hank Blalock, Mark Buehrle, Robinson Cano, Adam Dunn, Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles, Ryan Howard, Liriano, Felipe Lopez, Jose Lopez, Joe Mauer, Mark Mulder, Aramis Ramirez, B.J. Ryan, Vernon Wells and Barry Zito.
Soriano (1999), Reyes (2002) and Sizemore (2003) all were named MVP of past Futures Games.
- After the Rockies took Chris Nelson ninth overall in the 2004 draft, he had an outstanding first season (.347/.432/.510) in Rookie ball, but he has struggled the next two years, especially with his plate discipline. BA ranked him 19th in the Colorado system in the 2007 Prospect Handbook. His 2007 overall numbers don’t look great on the surface (.268/.350/.441), but he has improved his plate discipline significantly each month this year, and it has culminated in a .347/.414/.673 start in July. What are the scouting reports on him? Has he moved his way back into Colorado’s Top 10? Do you think he’ll end up starting in the majors or just be a utility guy?
Nelson is making some progress after two lackluster years in low Class A. He’s still just 21 years old, so he’s young for Class A. His numbers don’t jump out in the hitter-friendly California League, but his approach has gotten better and he’s showing quick hands and gap power. He also has average speed and the instincts to swipe a few bases.
Defensively, Nelson doesn’t show the power arm he had before undergoing Tommy John surgery prior to his senior season in high school. He has average arm strength but probably not enough to make plays from deep in the hole. That may necessitate a move to second base, especially with Troy Tulowitzki in Colorado. Nelson has good hands and he has made just 18 errors in 87 games after leading the South Atlantic League with 41 miscues in 2006.
Nelson probably won’t be a star, but he can be a solid big league regular. The Rockies still have a lot of depth in their system, so if he’s going to crack our Top 10 list this year, it probably will be right at the end. More likely, he’ll fall in the 11-15 range.
- I heard on the radio that Phillies outfielder C.J. Henry no longer is going to play baseball. What do you know about this?
Reports that Henry will leave the Phillies are premature. He comes from a basketball family, as his father Carl twice led Kansas in scoring, spent a season in the NBA and played for several years overseas. His mother Barbara also played for the Jayhawks, and his younger brother Xavier is one of the nation’s top hoops prospects in the rising high school junior class. C.J. would have been a recruited walk-on for the Kansas basketball team had he not signed with the Yankees for $1.75 million as the 17th overall pick in 2005.
Henry has a long, mechanical swing, and the reports on him in 2005 were that he’d have to make some adjustments as a pro. He has struggled to do that, and he’s hitting just .172/.237/.349 with nine homers, 31 RBIs and 11 steals in 70 games at low Class A Lakewood this year. Philadelphia acquired him in the Bobby Abreu trade last July. After playing shortstop in his first two pro seasons, he has moved to third base and most recently to left field in 2007.
But while his baseball stock is diminishing, Henry isn’t giving up just yet. He did tell the New York Times that he still can beat Xavier in basketball playing one-on-one, and that he might join him on a college basketball team in 2008-09 (when Xavier would be a freshman) if baseball hasn’t worked out. Because his original bonus contract provides for eight semesters of tuition at $15,000 per semester under baseball scholarship’s plan, C.J. would be a free recruit for a college basketball program.