Top 100 Prospects
Prospect season never ends at Baseball America, but the Top 100 Prospects list is the natural demarcation line from one season to another. All of our countless conversations with scouts, […]
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein and Chris Kline
Expected to go in the third-to-fifth round in last year’s draft, Cubs second baseman Eric Patterson fell to the eight round due to questions about his approach and his selection of an agent, Scott Boras. The young brother of Cubs’ outfielder Corey Patterson received fourth-round money ($300,000), but signed too late to begin his pro career. Through 10 games at Low Class A Peoria, Patterson is making up for lost time.
While the Chiefs are just 2-8, Patterson has been one of the bright spots in the lineup, batting .429-2-5 while leading or being tied for the Midwest League lead in runs (12), hits (15), total bases (24) and stolen bases (10). He’s recorded multi-hit efforts in each of his last five games, going a combined 11-for-18 with eight runs scored.
“Every part of his game has been great,” Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said. “He’s using all fields, showing patience, bunting for hits, turning the double play well and showing great instincts on the basepaths.”
Many scouts who saw Patterson at Georgia Tech were frustrated at his desire to try to power the ball and wanted him to focus more on being a leadoff man who can take advantage of his plus speed. Patterson has certainly taken to the leadoff role for the Chiefs, with 10 walks and .574 on-base percentage.
At 22, Patterson is slightly older than most of his Midwest League peers, but the Cubs’ plan was to simply get Patterson acclimated to the grind of professional baseball.
“We just wanted him to get his feet wet and get adjusted to playing every day,” added Fleita. “He’s experiencing baseball on this level for the first time, and we just want him to get his 140 games in.”
• The Pirates still have some big arms in their extended spring camp, including righthander Bryan Bullington and lefthander Tom Gorzelanny. Bullington, the club's No. 1 pick in 2002 out of Ball State was shut down in spring training with shoulder fatigue, but was back throwing bullpens regularly and is scheduled to take the mound against live hitters this week. Gorzelanny, a second-round pick in 2003 out of Triton (Ill.) Junior College, was also shut down with some elbow tenderness this spring. "We backed him off a little bit," farm director Brian Graham said. "We're just trying to get him back in a natural progression, being cautious and go from there." Bullington is slated to head to the rotation in Triple-A Indianapolis and Gorzelanny to the rotation in Double-A Altoona, hopefully by the end of the month.
• A prospect showdown Sunday in West Virginia featured the Power’s Mark Rogers, the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 draft, against Mets second-rounder Gaby Hernandez and Hagerstown. The Suns righthander won the duel, throwing five hitless, scoreless innings while striking out seven. Hagerstown pitching coach Shawn Barton said that while Rogers was throwing harder, in the mid-90s range, Hernandez had much better command of a 90-92 mph fastball. “His curveball wasn’t as sharp as it can be, but he changed speeds real well and had a good changeup with a little sink and fade,” Barton said. Rogers went four innings, striking out six and walking three while giving up two runs. Hard-throwing righty Josh Wahpepah went four scoreless in relief as the Power rallied to win 3-2 on a three-run walk-off homer by Carlos Corporan.
• Acquired from the Tigers in the Kyle Farnsworth deal, former first-round pick Scott Moore is off to a nice start for high Class A Daytona, batting .281-3-10 with 10 walks. It’s the second year in the Florida State for Moore, who hit just .223-14-56 for Lakeland in 2004. “He was only 20 years old last year and he did a good job maintaining a positive outlook,” said Fleita. “He learned more from that year than he will in any other year he plays--and you won’t find a harder worker.”
• Dallas McPherson’s minor league career may be coming to an end. Sent to Triple-A to begin the year in order to get himself into shape after suffering a back injury in spring training, McPherson homered on both Saturday and Sunday for Salt Lake and is tied for the Pacific Coast League lead in RBIs with 14. The Angels promoted the 2001 second-round pick out of The Citadel to Los Angeles/Anaheim on Monday morning.
• Among the California League batting leaders last year before a stress fracture in his back shut him down in July, Athletics outfielder Andre Ethier is picking up where he left off at Double-A Midland. A 2003 second-round pick out of Arizona State, Ethier has put together back-to-back games of three hits, homering in both, and is batting .471-3-7 in nine games.
• Giants outfielder Eddy Martinez-Esteve had a game for the ages Sunday night, going 5-for-6 with four doubles and his first home run of the year as Class A San Jose walloped Lake Elsinore 14-4. It was the third straight multi-hit game for Martinez-Esteve, who is now hitting .382 on the season. Fellow outfielder Nate Schierholtz has also recorded three consecutive multi-hit efforts of his own.
• Devil Rays righthander Jeff Niemann, the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, made his pro debut on Saturday for High Class A Bakersfield. On a pitch count of 55, Niemann allowed one hit and one run in 3.1 innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Niemann, whose debut was delayed once by a rain delay and twice by leg soreness, took the loss in a 6-3 defeat to Visalia.
• Mets first baseman Brett Harper is off to a big start for high Class A St. Lucie in the notoriously power-deprived Florida State League. After hitting a career-high 16 home runs in 2004, Harper has hit a league-leading six long balls in 10 games for the Mets.
• B.J. Szymanski Update: The Reds 2004 second-round pick out of Princeton was placed on the disabled list at Low Class A Dayton with a strained right knee, but the prognosis is overall positive as he’ll miss just 2-4 weeks after having a minor procedure to remove a bone chip.
• It's always tough to top an outing when you hit for the cycle, but Triple-A Columbus first baseman Mitch Jones went deep three times Sunday, including the game-winner in the 12th inning of an 8-7 win against Charlotte. Jones went 4-for-6 with four RBIs, topping his performance when he hit for the cycle Friday.
• Although Triple-A Durham shortstop B. J. Upton has gotten it going a little bit, at one point this weekend, he had more errors (8) than hits (7). Upton now has 11 hits in as many games played, and is batting .244/.320/.289 with no homers and just four RBIs in 45 at-bats.
• Double-A Binghamton righthander Brian Bannister has owned Eastern League hitters. Bannister, a seventh-round pick out of Southern California in 2003, delivered his third start without allowing an earned run on Saturday. In three starts for the Mets, Bannister is 3-0 and only allowed eight hits in 16 1/3 innings. He's struck out 23 and walked only four. Bannister works his fastball in the 90-92 mph range, with a 12-to-6 curveball, average changeup and average slider.
• Orioles righthander Hayden Penn has been as good or better than Bannister in the EL, though he only has one win to show for it. Penn, whose fastball touches 94 and best pitch is a plus changeup, has allowed two earned runs, struck out 26 and walked five in 16 innings for the Bay Sox. Penn was a fifth-rounder out of Santata High in Santee, Calif., in 2002.
• Double-A Carolina lefthander Scott Olsen remains untouchable in the Southern League. Through his first 10 innings, Olsen is 2-0, 0.00 with six hits allowed, 14 strikeouts and one walk. His fastball averaged 92-94 mph in those two starts, topping out at 96.
• Keeping in the untouchable tip, Dodgers lefthander Derek Thompson put up double-digit strikeout numbers Friday against Mississippi, whiffing 11. While he's given up five earned runs in 12 innings, he's struck out 20 and walked three during that span. Thompson, 24, was disappointed when he was sent back to Double-A this season, but might not be in Jacksonville much longer.
• Class A Kinston third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has been on a tear, going 9-for-13 over a three-game span and upping his overall numbers to .464/.516/.929 with two homers and six RBIs in 28 at-bats. Kouzmanoff, a sixth-rounder out of Nevada in 2003, was shut down at the end of spring training with back soreness. The injury was unrelated to the back problems he encountered in the Arizona Fall League when he fell down the dugout steps in Peoria, Ariz., while going after a foul ball.
• Meanwhile, Kouzmanoff's teammate Jeremy Sowers cruised through his second professional start, allowing a run on five hits and striking out six in six innings of work. Sowers, the Indians’ first-round pick out of Vanderbilt last year, is 2-0, 2.25 in 12 innings.
• Shortstop Chris Nelson has been out of the low Class A Asheville lineup due to a pulled left hamstring. The ninth overall pick last year out of a Georgia high school has played in just five games and is 2-for-18 so far.
• After losing the series opener 4-3 on Thursday, Rome routed the Columbus Catfish in a weekend series, scoring 39 runs in the next three games. Rome rapped 34 hits in the last two games, including a solo homer by outfielder Steve Doetsch, just the third home run of the season for the Braves’ low Class A affiliate. The series did nothing to snap 2004 second-round pick J.C. Holt out of his slump, however—Holt’s hitting just .133 and has 18 strikeouts in 45 at-bats.
Contributing: John Manuel.