Does 10 prospects per team only whet your appetite? How does 30 sound? If you want the more of in-depth information you're finding here on three times as many players, Baseball America's 2003 Prospect Handbook is for you.
1. Jesse Foppert, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 210. Drafted: San Francisco, 2000 (2nd round). Signed by: Doug Mapson.
Background: Not drafted as a high school infielder, Foppert barely pitched in his first two years at the University of San Francisco. When his Harrisonburg, Va., team in the Valley League needed pitchers in the summer of 2000, he was persuaded to get on the mound. To say that turned out to be a good move is a massive understatement. After a solid junior year for the Dons, he went in the second round of the 2001 draft and led the short-season Northwest League in ERA during his pro debut. Foppert was even more dominant during his first full pro season in 2002. He reached Triple-A, where he was rated the Pacific Coast Leagues No. 1 prospect, and led the minors by averaging 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Strengths: For starters, Foppert has a textbook delivery. He has a smooth motion, looking as if hes barely working, and the ball still jumps out of his hand. Foppert has a mid-90s fastball that was clocked as high as 99 mph when he started at Double-A Shreveport in 2002. The fastball has so much life to it that he was getting enough swings and misses that he barely had to go to his other pitches at Double-A. Hitters cant lay off his splitter, his second-best pitch, when it dives out of the strike zone. He made nice strides tightening up his slider last year. Fopperts mound presence and poise also left a positive impression. He handles the bat well for a pitcher and went 6-for-19 (.316) with three doubles last year.
Weaknesses: Foppert is still developing a changeup and began working on a curveball in instructional league. He still needs to tweak his command; throwing more strikes would allow him to reduce his high pitch counts, the main reason he averaged less than six innings before start last year. He faded in August under the wear of his first full season.
The Future: A nonroster invitee to big league camp, Foppert probably wont win a spot on the Opening Day roster and could use more time in Triple-A. If he picks up where he left off, he could force the issue of a promotion very quickly. Easing him into the majors in a long-relief role also could be a possibility.