2014 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects: The 25th Edition
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SCOUT’S VIEW: Frisco Trio
John Danks, lhp; Thomas Diamond, rhp; Edison Volquez, rhp
The Rangers can see their future rotation just down the road in suburban Frisco, home of their Double-A affiliate. Righthanders Thomas Diamond and Edison Volquez and lefthander John Danks all started the year in the high Class A California League before making the big jump to Double-A.
With the trade deadline approaching, clubs were sending scouts in to see the Frisco team and assess which of the D-V-D trio. We talked to two, and they couldn’t agree on the top player. None of the three is lighting up the Texas League--Danks (2-5, 4.91) and Diamond (1-2, 6.00) just lost their last starts, while Volquez (1-3, 4.06) has been inconsistent. One of the scouts picked Volquez while the other picked Danks, a 2003 first-round pick, ahead of 2004 first-rounder Thomas Diamond. The scout who picked Danks broke down all three.
"There's no question Volquez has the best fastball velocity and the best life on his fastball. I saw him 93-95 mph with movement, and he has a good changeup. Diamond doesn't quite have the deception in his delivery in the start where I saw him. He just wasn't as good as Volquez. He is a young guy who knows how to pitch, though. I could see him as a No. 3 or 4 starter who eats innings, but there's not enough there to say he's a frontline starter. He's got some feel. I had his fastball up to 94 mph, but it was straight. His breaking balls were OK, and with his arm slot, he really should stick with the slider and make the curve his fourth pitch. I saw some sliders at 84-86 mph, it could be pretty good. It should be his pitch of choice.
"The guy I was most intrigued with was Danks. He's drop-and-drive in his delivery right now, so he left his fastball up and wasn't able to pitch downhill. He showed arm strength, he was up to 93 mph, and the most interesting thing was he has a 70 changeup (on the 20-80 scouting scale) right now. He didn't have that pitch in high school as far as I understand, and now it's his best pitch. His curveball was erratic but I saw some that were pretty good. Now you're talking about a lefthander with arm strength, with a plus-plus pitch, a potential plus pitch in his curve and a potential plus fastball. So that’s why I’m intrigued."
• It's been a while since we mentioned him, as he was a part of the Braves' youth movement in the big leagues, but third baseman Andy Marte had a great night Monday at Triple-A Richmond in a 7-6 win against Durham. Marte went 3-for-6 with a double and a homer--both against Devil Rays righthander Jason Hammel in his Triple-A debut. Hammel, a 10th-round pick in 2002, allowed four earned runs on five hits. He struck out three and walked two in 5 2/3 innings. Hammel went 8-2, 2.66 in 81 innings at Double-A Montgomery after spending the beginning of the season in extended spring training recovering from a broken arm. Bulls right fielder Delmon Young went 2-for-6 with two singles.
• This season has been a roller coaster for Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman. After battling through April hitting .192, Kotchman turned it on in May (.324) and June (.323), but is back scuffling again this month, hitting just .200 in 60 at-bats. "He's been in an off-again, on-again funk," Angels manager of baseball operations Abe Flores said. “I'm not overly concerned because I think it's something he will come out of. The laws of percentages say he's going to turn it around for the rest of the season."
• Triple-A Indianapolis first baseman Brad Eldred went deep again--his sixth homer in the last eight games--in a 4-3 win against Syracuse. "I don't worry about his home runs," manager Trent Jewett said. "I just want him making consistent hard contact and the home runs will come. He's been getting more comfortable and having batter at-bats. The home runs will be there if he continues to have more consistent, quality at-bats."
• White Sox lefthander Daniel Haigwood earned his first Double-A win at Birmingham Monday, as the Barons defeated Jacksonville, 3-2. Haigwood, a 16th-round pick in 2002 out of Midland High in Batesville, Ark., allowed a run on five hits and struck out eight--including Joel Guzman three times and Andy LaRoche and Russ Martin twice each--over seven innings. Haigwood went 8-2, 3.77 with 84 strikeouts in 76 innings this season at high Class A Winston-Salem before being promoted. Haigwood missed the entire 2003 season following surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. His fastball is fringe average, topping out at 91 mph this season. His best pitch is his curveball and his changeup--with dramatically improved depth--is part of the reason he's had so much success this year.
• It was the Adrian Gonzalez and Brandon Watson show Monday night in New Orleans. Gonzalez, the Oklahoma first baseman and 2000 No. 1 overall pick, went 4-for-5 with his 13th homer and three RBIs to raise his season line to .306/.368/.493 for the Rangers affiliate. Watson, a Zephyrs outfielder, was 4-for-4 with his 20th stolen base and is now hitting .367/.417/.446 for the Nationals’ Triple-A club.
• A third-rounder in 2001, the Yankees Chase Wright often has had problems finding the plate as evidenced by his 166 walks in 251 innings entering this season. He has 44 walks in 87 innings this season, so the control problems aren't improving that much. The lefthander, however, had one of the best games of his pro career Monday. The 21-year-old allowed one run over eight innings while fanning seven to improve his record to 6-3, 4.67 for low Class A Charleston.
• Koby Clemens, the eighth-round choice of the Astros in June, made an unspectacular pro debut for Rookie-level Greeneville of the Appalachian League. The oldest son of Roger Clemens went 0-for-3 with a walk and also made a throwing error as the Astros fell to the Kingsport Mets 7-2.
• Righthander Trey Shields didn't get much work at Alabama this season, and his arm looks fresh for short-season Vancouver. The Athletics' ninth-round pick threw just 18 innings in 2005 for the Crimson Tide despite having what the school's own website describes as "an outstanding fall (practice)", and he's rounding into midseason form in the Northwest League. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder threw six hitless innings in a 5-2 win against Tri-City last night for his first pro victory. "He's throwing solid average to a tick above (in terms of velocity) with a very good slider," A's scouting director Eric Kubota said. "With his size, we think there's still more stuff in there. Our area scout, Steve Barningham, did a nice job staying on him and also getting him signed."
• While Dallas Braden has not been the dominant force he was in the California League, the Oakland lefthander is still finding a good amount of success at Double-A. Braden allowed two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings last night, getting the win and improving to 9-3, 2.87 as Midland topped Tulsa 9-2 in the lone Texas League game Monday night. With 15 wins overall, the 2004 24th-round pick out of Texas Tech was four more wins than any other active minor leaguer.
• After wowing the big league club with his defensive prowess during spring training, Giants centerfielder Clay Timpner has also been getting it done with the bat of late. Timpner went 3-for-5 last night in high Class A San Jose’s 12-6 loss to Lancaster on Monday, and with seven multi-hit games in his last nine contests, the 2004 fourth-round pick out of Central Florida has raised his averages to .300/.347/.430 in 377 at-bats with 30 stolen bases and a minor-league leading (tied) 10 triples.
• Two days after Twins righty Anthony Swarzak made his Florida State League debut, fellow righty Jay Rainville joined him. The 2004 supplemental first-round pick out of a Rhode Island High School, Rainville got the win in high Class A Fort Myers 3-2 win over Brevard County, allowing one runs on six hits over six innings and striking out five. Like Swarzak, Rainville began the season with low Class A Beloit, where he went 8-2, 3.77 in 16 starts.
• Taking one of the empty rotation slots at Beloit was 19-year-old righty Eduardo Morlan, who blew through the Appalachian League, going 2-0, 0.82 in four starts while striking out 30 and allowing just six hits in 22 innings. The 2004 third-round pick was tagged for five runs on six hits (including two home runs) over three innings in his first Beloit start, a 10-3 loss to Southwest Michigan.
• After a pair of appearances in the New York-Penn League in which he allowed only one hit over six innings while striking out 10, the Cardinals promoted supplemental first-round pick Mark McCormick to low Class A Quad Cities. The former Baylor ace will make his Midwest League debut Thursday against Fort Wayne.