Ask BA

As if we needed any evidence that the demand for major league pitching far outstrips the supply, this week we’™ve seen the Astros sign Roy Oswalt to a five-year, $73 million contract and the Padres give up one of the better catching prospects in the upper minors (George Kottaras) for a month of David Wells. Barry Zito has to be dreaming happily of free agency this offseason.

    Do major league scouts pay any attention to the Little League World Series, or are the kids just too young to project what their skills will be like by the time they graduate high school? Is there more interest in kids from other countries because they can be signed at 16?

    Jason Wright
    Forest Park, Ill.

Wondering if someone is already zeroing in on Columbus, Ga., ace Kyle Carter or 6-foot-8, 256-pound Saudi Arabia first baseman Aaron Durley? It’™s safe to say their names are in the deep recesses of the minds of scouts who may have to try to sign them a few years from now, but no team goes to the time or expense to cover the Little League World Series in person.

Jason correctly surmises that there would just be too much guesswork involved attempting to project what a 12-year-old would be like as a big leaguer. There are several Little League World Series participants who have gone on to become major league all-stars, including Dwight Gooden, Boog Powell, Gary Sheffield and Jason Varitek, but being able to foretell that success would be impossible.

Incidentally, Varitek is one of two players to appear in the Little League World Series, College World Series and World Series. The other is Ed Vosberg.

    With Joe Koshansky absolutely tearing it up the past two seasons, has he put himself in the top tier of Rockies prospects? How about the top tier of baseball prospects?

    Andrew Watt
    Newport Beach, Calif.

The Rockies have one of the game’™s most loaded farm systems, so Koshansky probably won’™t crack the upper half of our Colorado Top 10 when we unveil it this winter. I don’™t see him making our 2007 Top 100 Prospects list either, though he shouldn’™t be too far removed from making the cut. But he’™s definitely a legitimate prospect.

Koshansky has taken a while to attract believers in his talent. He led Virginia in victories and homers as a two-way star in 2003, yet went undrafted. The Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year as a senior in 2004, he signed that June for $40,000 as a sixth-round pick. While he hit 50 homers in his first 198 pro games, there still were doubts. He batted just .234 in the short-season Northwest League, and last season he did almost all of his damage in the South Atlantic League at age 23, ancient for someone in low Class A. Furthermore, 25 of his 36 SAL homers came at Asheville’™s cozy McCormick Field, and he hit just .227 with 11 homers on the road.

But Koshansky has proven he’™s for real in 2006. Making the jump to Double-A, he has hit .289/.377/.539 with 31 homers and 108 RBIs in 128 games. In addition to his obvious lefthanded power, he draws his share of walks and is a good defender. He has struggled against southpaws this season, but didn’™t a year ago, so it’™s too early to call him a platoon player. The worst thing he has going for him is that he plays first base, and Todd Helton’™s contract (which has five years and $90.1 million remaining) means that position won’™t open up in Colorado in the foreseeable future.

    Can you give us some info on Twins righthander Yohan Pino? He has gone 13-2, 2.02 for low Class A Beloit, but I haven’™t heard much about him.

    Bruce Norlander
    Bloomington, Minn.

Pino made our Twins depth chart in the 2006 Prospect Handbook, but otherwise I didn’™t hear much about him either. After signing out of Venezuela in 2004, he went 19-3 in two years of Rookie ball, so his career record now stands at 32-5.

Though he’™s just in his first year of full-season ball and his third as a pro, Pino is 22. Lanky at a listed 6-foot-3 and 158 pounds, he’™s not overpowering but throws strikes (97-18 K-BB ratio in 89 innings) with a four-pitch mix. His fastball has average velocity and he locates it very well, and he keeps hitters off balance with a slow curveball.

Pino’™s projection isn’™t as gaudy as his numbers, but he could sneak into the back of a big league rotation or serve as a useful swingman. Though the Twins are loaded with pitching prospects, they’™ll try to accelerate his development next season.

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