Expos Prospects 2-10
Age: 20. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 170. Drafted: HSMoore, Okla., 2001 (3rd round). Signed by: Darrell Brown.
Background: Hinckley came on strong as a high school senior before the 2001 draft, emerging from obscurity to become a third-rounder. After a lackluster debut, he led the short-season New York-Penn league in ERA and innings last season.
Strengths: Hinckley already touches 94 mph and sits in the low 90s, and some scouts project him to add more consistent velocity as he fills out his lean frame. He works with a low-stress arm action and delivery, allowing him to command all his pitches. He generates good sink, and his 79-82 mph changeup is an effective pitch against righthanders. Hinckleys curveball, a 74-78 mph bender with tight rotation, already is a plus pitch and should get better. He also has the best work ethic in the organization.
Weaknesses: Hinckley just needs to add strength and innings. He showed improvement in all areas of his game last year, doing a better job of pitching inside and improving the overall quality of his stuff. He learned to channel his intensity so he wouldnt overthrow and cost himself control and life with his pitches.
The Future: The Expos envision Hinckley developing into a frontline starter. Hell make his full-season debut at Savannah in 2003.
3. Josh Karp, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Drafted: UCLA, 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Pat Puccinelli.
Background: The sixth overall pick in 2001, Karp signed for $2.65 million and made his pro debut last year. He needed just seven starts at high Class A Brevard County to earn a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. He missed a month with shoulder tendinitis, but returned to represent the Expos at the Futures Game.
Strengths: When everything is working for Karp, some scouts grade out his raw stuff equal to that of former Pacific-10 Conference rival Mark Prior. He has a prototypical pitchers body and three plus pitches: a 91-94 mph fastball with good life, a tight downer curveball and a circle changeup. He has a balanced delivery and a quick, easy arm action.
Weaknesses: The Expos have urged Karp to use his fastball more. Hell have to find a way to battle lefthanders after they hit .331 against him in Double-A. He needs to improve the consistency of all his pitches, as he sometimes loses his mechanics and then overcompensates.
The Future: Montreal plans to take it slow with Karp, who struggled in the Arizona Fall League while sick with strep throat. He could return to Double-A to begin 2003.
4. Zach Day, rhp
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSCincinnati, 1996 (5th round). Signed by: Steve Chandler (Yankees).
Background: Day spent his first full season in the Expos system after coming over from the Indians in a July 2001 trade for Milton Bradley. After starting the season with Triple-A Ottawa, he beat the Blue Jays to become the first pitcher in big league history to win his debut on his birthday.
Strengths: Day threw his fastball in the 87-90 mph range early last season, but in September he was working out of the Montreal bullpen and pumping 93-97 mph four-seamers with outstanding arm-side action. He also did an excellent job of changing planes by mixing in a heavy 88-92 mph sinker, a plus 79-83 mph curveball and an improving changeup. Day has a strong pitchers body, and the Expos also praise his demeanor and intelligence.
Weaknesses: Occasionally, Day will fly open with his front shoulder in his delivery. When that happens, he loses command and leaves his pitches high in the strike zone.
The Future: With his strong performance in Montreal, Day earned the right to compete for a spot in the rotation. He could become a No. 1 or 2 starter, though he also could be their closer of the future.
5. Seung Song, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Signed: Korea, 1999. Signed by: Ray Poitevint (Red Sox).
Background: Song entered 2002 as Bostons top prospect and pitched in the Futures Game for the second consecutive year. But after coming to Montreal in a trade for Cliff Floyd, he finished the summer under the care of the Expos medical staff. Trying to impress his new organization, he overthrew in his first start and missed the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury that didnt require surgery.
Strengths: Song has uncanny command of two plus pitches: a 90-94 mph fastball with arm-side tail and a 77-78 mph curveball. His changeup is effective. He has a good idea how to pitch, mixes speeds and throws strikes. His arm stroke is a bit long, but he maintains his release point and does a good job of hiding the ball.
Weaknesses: Song puts a lot of stress on his shoulder with his corkscrew delivery. The Expos addressed it before he began to rehabilitate his injury. He also had elbow problems before the trade.
The Future: Song could form a devastating one-two punch with Josh Karp in Double-A. Barring any more health problems, Song could make his big league debut after the all-star break.
6. Darrell Rasner, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Nevada, 2002 (2nd round). Signed by: Keith Snider.
Background: After taking Clint Everts in the first round, the Expos focused on college players for the rest of the 2002 draft. Rasner set Nevadas single-season win mark with 14 as a freshman in 2000, and two years later he had claimed Wolf Pack career records for victories (28), strikeouts (302) and innings (341). After signing for $800,000, he allowed two runs or less in six of his 10 pro starts, including back-to-back one-hit outings.
Strengths: Rasner gets heavy sink and run on his 90-94 mph fastball. He complements it with an 84-85 mph slider with good tilt. He also throws a circle changeup and a 75-77 mph downer curveball. Rasner is a physical pitcher. He has an athletic frame with a strong upper half and wide shoulders. His balanced delivery includes a quick arm action, plus good follow-through and extension.
Weaknesses: Rasner scuffles with his command because he has an inconsistent release point. When he keeps his front side closed, hes able to throw strikes with greater ease.
The Future: Look for Rasner to jump on the fast track in 2003. With a good spring, he could open the season in high Class A.
7. Claudio Vargas, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995. Signed by: Pablo Lantigua (Marlins).
Background: Considered one of the Marlins top pitching prospects, Vargas was shellacked in his first taste of Triple-A in 2002. Florida included him in the July trade that brought Cliff Floyd back to Montreal. Vargas pitched better after a demotion to Double-A, but he wasnt as effective at that level as he had been the year before, when he ranked second in the Eastern League in strikeouts.
Strengths: Vargas has unlimited potential and one of the best arms in the system. His prototypical pitchers body and quick arm help him generate an overpowering 94-97 mph fastball and a power curve. Both have the potential to be plus major league pitches. His fastball is fairly straight but can be deceptive at times.
Weaknesses: Vargas needs to refine his delivery so he can throw more strikes. He also must improve the consistency of his curveball and utilize it more often. If hes going to remain a starter, hell have to come up with a better changeup.
The Future: The Expos havent decided whether Vargas long-term role is in the rotation or bullpen. Hell give Triple-A another try in 2003.
8. Chris Young, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-10. Wt.: 255. Drafted: Princeton, 2000 (3rd round). Signed by: Dana Brown (Pirates).
Background: Expos scouting director Dana Brown signed Young for the Pirates as an area scout. Pittsburgh paid Young $1.65 million to buy him away from a potential NBA career after he was an all-Ivy League performer as a basketball center. He fell somewhat out of favor with the new Pirates regime, which included him in a deal for Matt Herges in December.
Strengths: Young added velocity to his fastball after having arthroscopic elbow surgery following the 2001 season, throwing 93 mph last year. He has the potential to throw harder, though his inability to do so frustrated the Pirates. His long arms and legs create plenty of deception in his delivery.
Weaknesses: Young is looking to develop a good second pitch. He scrapped his slider last season in favor of a curveball, and hes refining his changeup. He needs to clean up his mechanics and throw on more of a downhill plane to take full advantage of his height.
The Future: Young didnt make his pro debut until June 2001 because he was working toward his Princeton degree. The Pirates made him repeat low Class A, and hes ready to move up a level in 2003. Hes going to be a long-term project.
9. Scott Hodges, 3b
Age: 24. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HSLexington, Ky., 1997 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Mike Berger.
Background: Hodges weight dropped from 220 to 178 in six weeks and he missed the last 51 games of the 2001 season because he had colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine. That came on the heels of a breakout 2000 performance. He didnt regain that form last year as he continued to return to full health.
Strengths: Hodges has a smooth, compact lefthanded stroke and above-average bat speed. Hes an aggressive hitter but makes decent contact, driving the ball hard from gap to gap. He projects as a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat with plus power. Defensively, he has a strong and accurate arm and solid hands.
Weaknesses: Hodges still hasnt regained all his strength and wore down in the second half last year. He needs to do a better job of not lunging at pitches. His range is just adequate at the hot corner. Hodges has drawn criticism at times for his lack of hustle, but he has improved in that area.
The Future: The Expos would love to dump Fernando Tatis, but his $6 million salary makes that difficult. After gaining Triple-A experience, Hodges should be ready to take over for Tatis in 2004.
10. Larry Broadway, 1b
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Duke, 2002 (3rd round). Signed by: Dana Brown.
Background: Broadway is a product of Wellington (Fla.) High, where he played with Pirates first-round picks Bobby Bradley and Sean Burnett. Broadway began his career at Duke as a two-way player before an elbow injury made him a full-time first baseman. After displaying tremendous pop with wood bats in the Cape Cod League in 2001, he didnt hit as well with aluminum last spring.
Strengths: Broadways best tool is his bat. He has a smooth lefthanded stroke with natural loft that produces top-of-the-scale raw power, which he showed off with a mammoth homer in his first pro at-bat. He has the ability to hit the ball a long way without making sweet-spot contact. He moves well for a big man, and his arm and hands are solid.
Weaknesses: Broadway has made strides but must refine his approach at the plate. He relied on pure ability in college. He missed time at short-season Vermont because of a pulled muscle in his back.
The Future: The Expos system desperately needs power prospects, so Broadway should be put on the fast track. Hell open the season with one of Montreals Class A affiliates.
Best of the Rest
Lefthanded pitching continues to be a strength of the system. In addition to Mike Hinckley, the Expos have liked Eric Good, Luke Lockwood, Rich Rundles, Chad Bentz and Josh Girdley for a couple of years. Now theyre getting excited about a new wave of southpaws that includes Ben Dequin, Jon Felfoldi, Tyler Kirkman, Brett Nyquist, Pierre-Luc Marceau and Mike OConnor. Nyquist, a 13th-round pick in the 2002 draft, may have the highest ceiling in the bunch. The 6-foot-8, 210-pounder has increased his velocity from the 70s as a high schooler to 89-90 mph. If he improves his delivery, he could throw even harder.
Righthander Rob Caputo made the most progress of any pitcher in the organization in 2002. By the end of the season, he had moved from the bullpen to the rotation in low Class A and was topping out at 96 mph.
Montreal staggered on the international front in 2002, signing only a handful of players and disbanding its Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer league club. But two 2001 signees had strong starts to their careers.
Jose Contreras, a slick-fielding shortstop from Venezuela, showed everything but power in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. Outfielder Rogearvin Bernadina, a native of Holland, flashed solid tools across the board in the GCL.Back to page one.
The Top 10 Prospects lists are based on players' projected long-term worth and on discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of Opening Day 2003.
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