2014 Top 10 Prospects Index
We are ranking the Top 10 Prospects in each organization in preparation for the 2014 season. Here is a listing of the Top 10s we have already unveiled as well [...]
Baseball America's Daily Dish
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
It's been quite a challenge for Braves lefthander Brady Endl this season.
A 10th-round pick out of Wisconsin-Whitewater last year, Endl jumped from pitching just 29 innings at Rookie-level Danville--where he went 2-3, 2.79--to high Class A Myrtle Beach this season.
And while he started off strong, including a 2-1, 0.84 stretch in May, he's struggled with his command at times--particularly with controlling his changeup, a pitch he started throwing this season.
Still, Endl pitched well enough to earn Carolina League all-star honors, and was impressive in that appearance--against the toughest part of the Cal League's lineup.
Over his one inning of work, Endl struck out Angels' second baseman Howie Kendrick, allowed a base hit to left by Angels' shortstop Brandon Wood, walked Royals' outfielder Billy Butler, then got Giants outfielder Eddy Martinez-Esteve to ground into an inning-ending double play.
But since then, Endl is in the middle of his toughest experience as a pro. He's lost three straight outings and has given up 11 earned runs in just nine innings in July.
Endl features an 88-91 mph fastball that tops out at 92, a slider that eats up lefties, curveball and the brand new change.
Drafted as a reliever, Endl unexpectedly made the high Class A rotation this season for the Pelicans. He was slated to fit in a piggyback starting role with Jose Ascanio, but an injury forced the righthander to remain in extended spring training and opened a door for Endl. This season, Endl is 5-6, 3.59 in 93 innings.
We recently caught up with the 23-year-old lefthander from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, to talk about coming out of Whitewater, his changeup and his offseason job as a teacher.
On coming out of Wisconsin, not exactly a hotbed for baseball: "Any time you're coming from a Midwest state or somewhere where it's a little colder, you're kind of at a disadvantage as far as scout attention goes. But we've had some guys drafted out of our conference before, so that helps. Whitewater's program is definitely growing, and it's gaining more attention. Still, the area as a whole isn't exactly a factory by any means."
On his developing changeup: "It's my worst pitch. It's something I obviously have to develop, and I'm working really hard on working that pitch in during games. I throw maybe a handful of them during the game. It's just something I have to get used to throwing and get more comfortable with. It's been a process. "
On moving from the bullpen to a starting role: "It went from going to having virtually no routine to being highly disciplined about what you do each day. In the pen, you learn to get ready really fast. The phone--OK, we didn't have a phone in Danville, we used two-way radios--so the two-way radio would go off and I'd get ready in a hurry. You'd get maybe a dozen pitches before you had to go in. Now, you know what you're supposed to do each day. But each role has its positive and negative points--I just want to pitch."
On his first full season in the Carolina League this year: "I just try to work ahead, get strikes on the outside corner and keep the ball down. I've struggled with command sometimes this year--giving up too many walks. I can't stand walking people. I've had some rough outings, but I've had some good outings too where I was hitting my spots. I just try to take something from every outing--good or bad--and learn from each one."
On his offseason gig as a substitute teacher: "I teach whatever. In Wisconsin, if you have a four-year degree, you can be a substitute teacher. I have my degree in finance, so I jumped at the chance to do that. I teach anything from first grade to high school. It's a challenge. It can get a little weird, since it's such a small town and everyone knows everyone. It's funny to hear kids calling me 'Mr. Endl.' "
• It wasn't his best outing of the season, but it certainly was impressive. Coming off earning the save for the World team in the Futures Game, Orioles lefthander Adam Loewen was dominant in a 9-2 high Class A Frederick win over Wilmington last night. Loewen, the highest-drafted Canadian ever, went seven shutout innings allowing just four hits. He struck out seven and walked two. On the season, Loewen is now 3-6, 4.27 and stands second in the Carolina League in strikeouts (99), but still leads the circuit in walks (61). Keys' second baseman Nate Spears went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, and is now hitting .313/.366/.450 in 278 at-bats.
• Maybe all the extra hitting is paying off, or maybe it's just the impact of Stephen Head. Whatever it is, high Class A Kinston's offense--which was hitting just .162 over the last five games--broke out of the funk in a 4-1 win against Salem. Salem lefthander Ryan Rodriguez held Kinston hitless for seven innings in an 11 a.m. game Monday, and afterward manager Luis Rivera ordered an impromptu batting practice session--in the rain. "It was an early game," Rivera told the Kinston Free Press. "We had plenty of time; nobody had to go nowhere, and even if they had to go, they had to wait. If it takes some extra BP, that's what it's going to take." But having Head, the Indians' second-round pick this year out of Mississippi, in the lineup certainly doesn't hurt. In his high Class A debut, Head went 2-for-4 with a double. In just 37 at-bats at short-season Mahoning Valley this year, Head batted .432-6-14.
• After a brief stint in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in which he hit .341 in 41 at-bats, Ryan Braun is now getting a shot in low Class A. The fifth overall pick this year by the Brewers is off to a rocky start for West Virginia. After going 1-for-4 last night, the third baseman is now 4-for-19 with four strikeouts and no walks for the Power. He hit .388/.471/.726 with 18 homers and 23 steals at Miami to earn Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year honors and was recently named the first team third baseman on the Jewish all-america college baseball team.
• Chris Getz, on the other hand, is a 2004 college draftee who is having little difficulty in the South Atlantic League. The Michigan product has hit safely in nine of 10 games so far for Kannapolis. Taken in the fourth round by the White Sox, the 21-year-old is hitting .390/.490/.537. What might be most impressive though is that he has seven walks and no strikeouts.
• A 2004 third-rounder out of Coral Park (Miami) High by the Twins, Eduardo Morlan is breezing through the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The 19-year-old combined with Alexander Smit (another 19-year-old) to throw a one-hitter against Pulaski. Morlan did not allow a hit while fanning nine over seven innings while Smit fanned four over two innings. Morlan is 2-0, 0.82 on the season with 30 strikeouts and six walks in 22 innings. Opponents are hitting .085 against him. "He's got an overpowering fastball at 92-93 miles an hour," Twins farm director Jim Rantz said. "Even with a power fastball, he's learned this year that location is important."
• The best middle infield combination in the minors was at it again Wednesday night. Angels shortstop Brandon Wood extended his minor league home run lead by blasting his 30th of the year in high Class A Rancho Cucamonga's 12-7 loss at High Desert, while second baseman Howie Kendrick became the minor league batting leader by raising his average to .380 with a 4-for-5 night. On the season, Wood is batting .299/.364/.660 in 344 at-bats, while Kendrick is at .380/.417/.635 in 271 at-bats.
• Brad Sullivan, a 2003 first-round pick by the Athletics out of Houston, made his return to the California League last night, allowing two runs (one earned) over four innings, walking six and striking out three in high Class A Stockton's 8-7 loss to Visalia. Sullivan made three starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League after recovering from shoulder and back problems, as well as offseason surgery to alleviate headaches stemming from a childhood car accident.
• With Andy LaRoche promoted to Double-A, outfielder Matt Kemp has picked up the slack as the primary run producer for the high Class A Vero Beach. Kemp homered for the third time in four games last night, but it wasn't enough as the Dodgers lost 3-2 to Clearwater. In his last 18 games, Kemp has totaled eight home runs and 21 RBIs to go along with season totals of .284/.323/.588 with 18 home runs inn 243 at-bats.
• Cardinals second-round pick Nick Webber was a closer at Division II Central Missouri State this year, but he's thriving in the rotation at short-season New Jersey. The righthander fired six shutout innings last night, allowing three hits and striking out seven in a 4-0 win over Hudson Valley. In five games for the Cardinals, Webber is 2-1, 1.71 in 21 innings.
• We reported yesterday on lefthander Joe Saunders' hot streak in the Texas League in yesterday's Daily Dish, and it seems the Angels were taking notice as well, as the 2002 first-round pick was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake after last night's game.