The 32nd Team

Even more prospect scouting reports

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2005 2004 2003

Starting in 2003, it has been an annual tradition here at to present what we like to call The 31st Team, a collection of all the scouting reports that are written for but don't quite make it into the Prospect Handbook. Trades can cause reshuffling, and sometimes we just change our minds and revise our lists.

This year, as a premium for those who buy the Handbook directly from us, we included a No. 31 prospect to accompany the Top 30 lists we put together for every team. Eighteen of those 30 players were pulled off the cutting-room floor, and we created 12 new reports to complete that project.

So that's what has become of The 31st Team, which no longer will exist as an feature. But don't despair! We still have more bonus material to offer. There are still 17 extra reports that didn't make it into the Handbook or the premium, so we present the first edition of . . . The 32nd Team.

Nine of the 17 members are White Sox farmhands. Phil Rogers, who wrote the White Sox Top 30, provided us with a few extra reports in case GM Kenny Williams had his typical offseason of trading prospects for veterans. Williams instead went in the other direction, dealing Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez for six youngsters who pushed players off the original Top 30.

Alex Burnett, rhp, Twins
Born: July 26, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Huntington, Calif., 2005 (12th round). Signed by: Dan Cox.
Burnett has evolved from a potential power pitcher to a grinder who could become an innings-eating workhorse or a versatile middle reliever. He spent most of the 2008 season as a 20-year-old in high Class A and already has shown his durability, logging 299 innings combined the last two seasons. He showed he can carry his best stuff through a full season when he threw six shutout innings to beat Dunedin in the Florida State League playoffs. Burnett hit some 94s and 95s on radar guns in high school, but he's not that guy anymore. He sits at 89-91 mph with his heater, touching 92 consistently, and he has learned to cut it and run it in on righthanders. His changeup, which has similar movement, and his mid-70s curveball are solid-average pitches. His slider is fringy but he keeps it down, giving him four usable offerings. He pounds the zone, throwing 60 percent first-pitch strikes according to Twins officials. Burnett will head to Double-A in 2009.

Justin Cassel, rhp, White Sox
Born: Sept. 25, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: UC Irvine, 2006 (7th round). Signed by: Joe Butler/Danny Ontiveros.
Like former White Sox first-rounders Lance Broadway and Kyle McCulloch, Cassel lacks the velocity that paves the road to the big leagues for others. But that's all he lacks, and his high-80s fastball didn't stop him from leading the Southern League with a 3.11 ERA last year. He's smart and has tough competitive makeup, the same skills that helped his brother Jack to the big leagues as a pitcher and his brother Matt to 21 touchdown passes in 2008 as Tom Brady's understudy with the New England Patriots. Cassel's fastball is a natural sinker that induces ground balls, and both his curveball and changeup are solid pitches. He excels in preparation and understanding how to pitch. Whether he has enough stuff to succeed against major leaguers remains to be seen, but he has earned a shot against Triple-A hitters this season.

Javier Castillo, 3b, White Sox
Born: Aug. 29, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Signed: Panama, 2002. Signed by: Miguel Ibarra.
Castillo is a late bloomer. He didn't earn a visa until his third pro season or get past Class A until his sixth, but he has made major leaps forward the last two years, in part because of a newfound interest in conditioning. He was headed for minor league free agency but the Sox re-signed him shortly after the 2008 season, wanting to take a long look at him in Triple-A. He shows signs of hitting for average but may not have the power necessary to play a corner-infield spot. He has pop to right-center but hasn't shown the bat speed to pull the ball. He has below-average speed but isn't a liability on the bases. Originally signed as a shortstop, Castillo has developed into an athletic third baseman with good range and hands. He has played some first base and may ultimately be a big league extra. Castillo will play in the World Baseball Classic for Panama and start the season at Triple-A Charlotte.

Luis Domoromo, of, Padres
Born: Feb. 4, 1992. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Signed: Venezuela, 2008. Signed by: Yfrain Linares/Felix Feliz/Randy Smith.
One of three Latin American prospects to receive a seven-figure bonus by the Padres in 2008, Domoromo signed for $1.25 million, the fifth-highest bonus of the international signing period and the second-highest paid to a Venezuelan position player. A lefthanded hitter, Domoromo stands out with his bat speed and power. He's a strong pull hitter and also showed power to left-center field in instructional league. International scouts raved about his line-drive stroke and his ability to stay back on offspeed pitches—but they weren't optimistic that he'd develop into more than an average hitter. Though he's athletic and strong, Domoromo's other tools are less refined. He's confined to an outfield corner by limited range and is a fringe-average runner. His arm is average. The Padres were impressed by his composure and makeup. Like Jonathan Galvez and Rymer Liriano, San Diego's top international signs from 2007, Domoromo figures to begin his professional career in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.

Jonathan Galvez, ss, Padres
Born: Jan. 18, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Randy Smith/Felix Francisco.
Though they received more attention for signing Adys Portillo, Luis Domoromo and Alvaro Aristy in 2008, the Padres signaled their intention to bid competitively on premium Latin American talent a year earlier. In 2007, they inked a pair of Dominican talents, Galvez and outfielder Rymer Liriano, to six-figure bonuses. Galvez, who received $750,000, has alternately been referred to as Jonathan Spraud. A high-energy athlete with strong wrists and forearms that help him generate bat speed, he has a sound line-drive swing with power potential. Like most young hitters, he often chases breaking balls out of the zone, but his pitch recognition and patience are advanced for an 18-year-old. Galvez is wiry strong now, and he projects to fill out and develop above-average power for a middle infielder. Because of a long, funky arm action, Galvez may have to shift to second base down the line, despite his solid hands and arm strength. An average runner underway, he gets out of the box slowly and doesn't project to be a stolen-base threat. Galvez showed enough in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in his pro debut to earn an assignment in the United States in 2009.

Stefan Gartrell, of, White Sox
Born: Jan 14, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230. Drafted: San Francisco, 2006 (31st round). Signed by: Adam Virchis.
Despite being one of the best players in University of San Francisco history, Gartrell went largely unnoticed until the White Sox spotted him playing behind Aaron Poreda as a senior in 2006. He went undrafted as a college junior and signed for $1,000 as a 31st-rounder. Gartrell is making scouts look silly as a pro, playing as a Double-A regular in his second full season. He's an excellent athlete with size and strength who's still raw as a player. He led the Rookie-level Appalachian League with 46 walks in 2006, but he has had trouble with pitch recognition and has yet to match that total since. He gets himself out at times, though he also flashes interesting power when he's going well. Gartrell has average speed and good baserunning instincts. He's not as sound as a defender on the outfield corners, though he has solid range and average arm strength. Gartrell was making progress in the Arizona Fall League before separating his left shoulder trying to make a catch. He'll probably open 2009 back in Double-A but could advance to Triple-A before the season is over.
Lucas Harrell, rhp, White Sox
Born: June 3, 1985. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—Ozark, Mo., 2004 (4th round). Signed by: Alex Slattery.
Harrell ranked as the White Sox's No. 9 prospect after the 2006 season, but he had shoulder surgery that offseason and missed all of 2007. He started to return to form in the second half of 2008, holding his own in a playoff rotation at Double-A Birmingham and following with a promising stint in the Arizona Fall League. His AFL numbers weren't good but that was largely the result of two bad outings, not an overall struggle. At times he shows better velocity (93-95 mph) than before his injury (90-92 mph), giving him a power fastball to go with a good sinker, and his changeup remains a plus pitch. He still needs to improve his slider, but he did Boldmake strides with his control last season. The White Sox have been patient in keeping him on the 40-man roster but he needs a solid wire-to-wire performance in 2009 to make himself more than a possible trade chip.

Steven Hensley, rhp, Mariners
Born: Dec. 27, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Elon, 2008 (4th round). Signed by: Rob Mummau.
Elon's career wins and strikeouts leader, Hensley became the program's highest-drafted player ever. The Mariners took him in the fourth round in June—one round higher than lefty Brad Pinkerton went to the Angels in 2001—and signed him for $233,000. Hensley's pro debut was cut short at the end of July when he partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He opted to rest and rehab the injury rather than go under the knife, and Seattle expects him to be ready for spring training. Hensley pitches aggressively with his 88-93 mph fastball and average slider. His changeup, which he didn't use much in college, showed plus potential as a pro. He also throws a curveball, but it flattens out, as do his other pitches when he drops his high three-quarters arm slot in his inconsistent delivery. Elbow injury aside, Hensley is a top competitor who could develop into a durable innings-eater or a middle reliever.

Nathan Jones, rhp, White Sox
Born: Jan. 28, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Northern Kentucky, 2007 (5th round). Signed by: Mike Shirley.
Jones has some of the best stuff in the White Sox system but never has been able to find the strike zone, not even with a GPS or a group of Sherpas leading the way.  Because of his wildness, Jones worked only 82 innings in three years at NCAA Division II Northern Kentucky, but that didn't deter the White Sox from drafting him in the fifth round in 2007. He has gone just 2-11, 5.72 while splitting time between starting and relieving in pro ball, but Chicago dreams of what he might do if he could add polish to a deadly pair of pitches. He has gained velocity on his fastball as a pro, working in the mid-90s and hitting 99 mph at times last season, and his knee-buckling curveball gets scouts buzzing even more. Hitters fall down trying to escape curves that break over the plate for strikes, though he often has trouble locating his breaking ball. He has no feel for a changeup, so he's probably going to wind up as a reliever in the long run. Scouts don't like his delivery or arm action, and he missed seven weeks during the summer with a strained shoulder. The White Sox will send him back to low Class A as a starter in 2009 to get him as many innings as possible.

Tyler Kuhn, ss, White Sox
Born: Sept. 9, 1986. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 185. Drafted: West Virginia, 2008 (15th round). Signed by: Mike Shirley/Phil Gulley.
Not so long ago, the White Sox system was devoid of middle-infield prospects. But recent drafts have changed that, creating competition within the organization. Chicago selected Gordon Beckham eighth overall last June, and several other college picks have shown the potential to get to the big leagues as utilitymen, if not regulars. That group includes Sergio Miranda, Greg Paiml and Dale Mollenhauer from the 2007 draft, but Kuhn's ability to hit separates him from the pack. A 33rd-round pick by the Indians in 2007, Kuhn returned for his senior season at West Virginia and ranked eighth in NCAA Division I with a .424 batting average. Signed for $1,000 as a 15th-rounder, Kuhn broke into pro ball by earning all-star honors in the Pioneer League, where he hit .375/.424/.570 to help Great Falls win the championship. He makes easy line-drive contact and is one of the best hitters in the system. He won't hit many homers but he has gap power, average speed and good baserunning instincts. Kuhn's range and arm strength are average for a shortstop. He sometimes forces the action, trying to make difficult plays that instead result in errors, and may profile better as a second baseman. Kuhn could reach high Class A in 2009, possibly to open the season.

Alex Liddi, 3b, Mariners
Born: Aug. 14, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 176. Signed: Italy, 2005. Signed by: Wayne Norton/Mario Mazzotti.
The lone Italian position player in the minor leagues, Liddi has struggled through two years in low Class A since ranking fifth in the Arizona League batting race at .313 during his promising 2006 debut. He has batted just .240/.306/.365 in 249 games for Wisconsin, but the Mariners think his opposite-field swing and the winds at Fox Cities Stadium have cut into his production. Other MWL observers criticize him for not making the necessary adjustments. Lean and athletic, Liddi shows impressive strength and power to center and right-center field. He often looks like he's feeling for the ball, but his smooth swing gives him the chance to hit for average as he matures. He's an average runner. He has a plus arm, soft hands and enough agility to make plays at third base, but he could outgrow the position. Liddi receives uniformly high marks for his work ethic, but he would do much to reassure his believers by playing well in high as a 20-year-old this year.

Levi Maxwell, rhp, White Sox
Born: Dec. 22, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: West Virginia, 2007 (18th round). Signed by: Mike Shirley.
Maxwell was so inconsistent in college that he pitched just 116 innings in four years at West Virginia. He turned down a free-agent offer from the Angels after going undrafted in 2006, then signed for $20,000 as an 18th-rounder in 2007. He relieved in his pro debut and blossomed once he got a chance to start for low Class A Kannapolis last year. He worked 140 innings in his first full pro season, leading the South Atlantic League with 15 victories and never losing consecutive starts. He relies on a low-90s fastball and has the best control among Chicago farmhands. The key for him as he advances will be improving his slider and changeup. Maxwell will move up to high Class A in 2009.

Greg Paiml, ss, White Sox
Born: Aug. 30, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Alabama, 2007 (15th round). Signed by: Warren Hughes.
A former batboy, clubhouse assistant and grounds-crew worker for the Birmingham Barons, Paiml could join his hometown team as its shortstop this season. He's a baseball rat who has risen quickly in pro ball despite lacking overwhelming tools. He's more of a ballplayer than an athlete, impressing with his instincts and his skills more than his bat, arm or speed. He played four years at Alabama, never hitting more than .284 with the aluminum bat, but has made strides as a hitter since signing as a 15th-round pick. He can be overpowered at the plate but is a good situational player, advancing runners and playing a small-ball game. He has an average arm, which will probably force him to move to second base, but he was the primary shortstop for a playoff team at Winston-Salem after being promoted from Kannapolis in late May. He profiles as a utility player but can't be ruled out as a big league regular if he continues to adjust to advanced pitching.

Wilfrido Perez, lhp, Orioles
Born: Aug. 12, 1984. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 145. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2003. Signed by: Carlos Bernhardt.
Perez didn't make it out of short-season ball in three years as a starter, struggling with his stamina—which isn't hard to understand given his small frame. He worked more in relief when he got to low Class A in 2007, and the role suited him so well that he worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 2008. His performance earned him a spot on Baltimore's 40-man roster after the season. Perez puts up good strikeout numbers with a curveball that's a major league out pitch, as well as a good changeup. His fastball is fringy and touches 90 mph, though it shows better life now that he's coming out of the bullpen. While he would seem to profile as a lefty specialist, Perez actually has been more effective against righthanders. They batted .192 against him last season, while lefties hit .253. His stuff probably is what it is at this point, so Perez's biggest area of emphasis is sharpening his command. He's no more than a middle reliever, but if his pitches remain effective at higher levels he could be someone who can work multiple innings and does more than just match up with lefties.

Juan Silverio, ss, White Sox
Born: April 18, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Victor Mateo/Dave Wilder.
High expectations greeted Silverio after the White Sox gave him a $600,000 bonus to sign in 2007, but he was a major disappointment in his pro debut in 2008. The two men responsible for signing him—senior director of player personnel Dave Wilder and scout Victor Mateo—were fired as part of a Dominican bonus-skimming scandal, causing some to wonder if he was really worth the investment. Silverio does have raw tools, starting with bat speed and arm strength, and given that he was the second-youngest player in the Appalachian League last summer as a 17-year-old, he deserves a mulligan. The ball jumps off Silverio's bat when he makes contact, but that happens infrequently because he lacks pitch recognition and flails against breaking balls. His pull-conscious approach also does him no favors. Silverio is a below-average runner and may have to move off of shortstop. His range, hands and throwing mechanics all would have to improve for him to stay at short. His ability to make adjustments will determine if he ever advances beyond Rookie ball.

Kanekoa Texeira, rhp, Yankees
Born: Feb. 6, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Drafted: Saddleback (Calif.) JC, 2006 (22nd round). Signed by: Danny Ontiveros (White Sox).
The Yankees acquired Texeira in the Nick Swisher trade with the White Sox in November, and he adds to the New York's middle-relief depth. A 22nd-round find in the 2006 draft, Texeira has opened eyes with his wicked slider in pro ball. He has shown a durable arm during two pro seasons, developing into a potential big league setup man. He had 20 saves at high Class A Winston-Salem in 2008 before a promotion to Double-A, where he primarily set up minor league save leader Jon Link. Texeira combined for a 1.33 ERA at the two levels, holding hitters to a .205 batting average. His slider breaks sharply and dives toward the knees and ankles of lefthanders, and he has yet to give up a homer to a lefty as a pro. His fastball generally parks in the high 80s but can move into the low 90s at times, and when he misses, he misses down. He has worked on a changeup and a slow curve as a third pitch. The Yankees expect him to anchor their Double-A Trenton bullpen in 2009.

Nik Turley, lhp, Yankees
Born: Sept. 11, 1989. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—North Hollywood, Calif. (50th round). Signed by: Stewart Smothers.
The Yankees were disappointed to lose out on their first-round (Gerrit Cole) and second-round (Scott Bittle) picks in the 2008 draft, but they tried to compensate by handing out six-figure bonuses to four players selected after the 10th round. That included $125,000 for their final choice, 50th-rounder Turley, who had committed to Brigham Young. He's a tall, sturdy-bodied lefthander with room for projection and solid present stuff. Turley has an 88-91 mph fastball that he throws on a nice downhill plane. He also has fringe-average breaking ball that New York hopes to hone into a true curveball. Since signing, he already has picked up a changeup that the Yankees say has average potential. Turley remains raw even though he's a Southern California product, as he needs to tone up his body and gain consistency with his delivery. He has natural athleticism that allowed him to make quick improvements in instructional league. He has a shot to make the low Class A Charleston rotation out of spring training in 2009, but more likely he'll head to extended spring training and then to short-season Staten Island.