Scouting Reports On Top 30 Prospects For July 2
Putting together a ranking with scouting reports on the top July 2 players is one of the most fun and challenging projects we do. I know general managers, team presidents […]
Baseball America's Daily Dish
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
The Tigers have to be pleased after finally getting righthander Justin Verlander in the fold. Detroit broke off talks after it drafted Verlander, the No. 2 pick overall last year out of Old Dominion, before finally getting the $4.5 million guaranteed contract signed in October.
And this season, the Tigers are quickly seeing returns from the 6-foot-5, 200-pound righthander. In 79 innings at high Class A Lakeland, Verlander was 8-2, 1.71 with a 95-18 strikeout-walk ratio. He regularly pitches in the mid 90s with his fastball, complemented by a hammer curve and a changeup that is giving him a legitimate third option.
He was dominant in his last outing against Fort Myers on Saturday, whiffing 10 in seven innings and only walking one.
We caught up with a veteran scout who broke down his perceptions of Verlander, who is leading the Florida State League in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
"He is outstanding," said the AL scout, who saw Verlander three times. "He was 96 (mph) with kind of a sweeping curveball--it wasn't as strong as what it was advertised to be, but it still had some heavy, downward action. Still, it looked like he needed to tighten it more.
"He pitched at 95-96 early, then curbed that velocity back to 91-92 in the second and third innings each time, I think more to get more of a rhythm than anything else. But then he pumps it back up to 95-96 the rest of the way. He's got a real quick arm, and it can sometimes get away from him early. But he shows the aptitude to make that adjustment easily, and was just as effective in the low 90s as he was at 95-96.
"The changeup was good, but his arm action can tend to get a little slow and that's to be expected since he hasn't thrown it much. But he dominates with good location on his fastball and drops that curveball in there, throwing both pitches consistently for strikes. I like him a lot. He's got the arm, the heart and the head to do some very, very great things for that organization."
• The error train continues to roll for Triple-A Durham shortstop B.J. Upton. While he made a few spectacular plays over the weekend--including ranging to his left to get to a Ryan Howard ground ball behind second base and making a throw from his knees--Upton committed two more errors Saturday on routine balls, bringing his season total to 26. The Devil Rays shortstop is still hitting, however. In 253 at-bats, Upton is batting .292/.379/.415 with five homers and 27 RBIs.
• Speaking of Howard, the Phillies first baseman is hitting in bunches since being sent back down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He is currently riding a 16-game hit streak, and is 29-for-61 (.475) over that span.
• While we're on the D-Rays, second baseman Fernando Cortez was promoted to Durham over the weekend. Cortez went 5-for-15 in his first three games as a Bull. The ninth-round pick in 2001 batted .333/.410/.392 in 219 at-bats at Double-A Montgomery this season.
• Double-A Bowie righthander Chris Ray was called up to the big leagues today. Ray, a third-round pick out of William & Mary in 2003, rolled off 15 consecutive saves this season. In 33 innings, Ray had a 1.10 ERA with 37-6 strikeout-walk ratio. Eastern League hitters were batting just .131 against him.
• Also on the promotion tip--though not as dramatic as Ray's--the Indians promoted outfielder Brad Snyder to Double-A Akron. Snyder, a first-round pick out of Ball State in 2003, was hitting .278 with six homers in 209 at-bats at high Class A Kinston. He homered in his first game with the Aeros, going 2-for-5 in a 6-2 win against Altoona.
• High Class A Frederick lefthander Adam Loewen continues to improve. Known for his widely documented control problems, Loewen tossed his first walkless game of the season Friday night, while striking out eight. On the season, Loewen is 2-3, 2.69 with 46 walks and 71 strikeouts in 67 innings.
• With fellow PCL second baseman Rickie Weeks being called up to the majors, Josh Barfield is playing like someone who wants to be there soon too. With two more hits yesterday, the Padres prospect is now 21-for-48 in June with two homers and is hitting .289/.335/.396 on the season for Portland.
• With six innings of three-hit ball yesterday, Cha Seung Baek is continuing to piece together a solid season at Tacoma. The Korean righthander is now 4-2, 3.26 with 38 strikeouts and 10 walks in 50 innings for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate.
• Between Troy Patton, Hunter Pence and now Jimmy Barthmaier, it is an embarrassment of riches at low Class A Lexington. While Patton is working on a 31-innning scoreless streak, Barthmaier threw six shutout innings yesterday to extend his personal scoreless streak to 19 innings while lowering his ERA to 1.77. In the process, he fanned eight and allowed just three baserunners.
• The tandem rotation in West Virginia has had little success thus far, but yesterday it worked to perfection. Yovani Gallardo threw five scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season and Mark Rogers came on and threw four more scoreless innings to earn his first save. Rogers lowered his ERA to 4.11 and has 48 punchouts in 35 innings on the season.
• The one knock on Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew entering the 2004 draft was that scouts had rarely seen him swing a wood bat. Those concerns have been all but obliterated in just six games at high Class A Lancaster. Drew, the 15th overall pick last year who signed just prior to the signing deadline, has gone 10-for-24 with two home runs and four walks for the Jethawks, adding nine runs scored and eight RBIs.
• Mets third baseman Shawn Bowman, who established himself as a prospect last season by hitting .255-18-66 at low Class A Capital City, is recovering from a miserable start at high Class A St. Lucie that saw his batting average sitting at just .145 on May 26th. A 2002 12th-round pick out of a Canadian high school, Bowman has come alive of late, going 16-for-36 with five home runs in his last 10 games, raising to .209/.277/.381 in 215 at-bats.
• The amount of great pitching in the Florida State League lately is absolutely staggering, so let us review the weekend of four 2004 first-round picks in bullet point form:
--Mets righty Philip Humber picked up his first professional win on Saturday, allowing one unearned run on four hits over seven innings in St. Lucie’s 6-1 win against Jupiter on Saturday.
--Dodgers righty Justin Orenduff pitched seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight in Vero Beach’s 10-0 win over Brevard County on Sunday. Orenduff is 5-3, 2.24 in 12 starts, allowing just 35 hits in 60 innings, while striking out 81.
--Twins lefthander Glen Perkins struck out a career high 14 over seven innings on Saturday, allowing one run on three hits in Ft. Myers’ 2-1 loss to Lakeland.
--Tigers righthander Justin Verlander (see above) recorded his fourth double-digit strikeout game on Saturday night, whiffing 10 in a seven inning complete game.
• Sleeper alert! Devil Rays catcher John Jaso is on a roll at low Class A Southwest Michigan. A 2003 12th-round pick out of Southwestern (Calif.) Junior College, the 21-year-old lefthanded hitter has gone 16-for-34 with six home runs in his last ten games and is batting .339/.383/.602 in 186 at-bats on the season.
• The Royals placed lefthander Matt Campbell, the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft out of South Carolina, on the disabled list at low Class A Burlington with a sore shoulder. Campbell was 1-5, 4.14 in 59 innings for the Bees.