Posts Tagged ‘Andrew McCutchen’

MLB Network Announces Top-50 Prospects In Baseball

January 28, 2010

Last night, MLB.com announced their top-50 prospects in baseball through a special on the MLB Network. While there were few surprises on their list, there were a couple of players that caught my eye.

No. 8: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates. When the Pirates promoted Andrew McCutchen to the major leagues last season, Alvarez became the jewel of the Pirates’ farm system. The Pirates really need Alvarez to become the player they think he can be.

No. 24: Tim Beckham, Tampa Bay Rays. Beckham was the No.1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. As a matter of fact, Alvarez was the No.2 pick in that draft.

The Rays took a chance on the less polished Beckham and he struggled somewhat in his first year of professional baseball. Beckham is only 19, so he has plenty of time to figure things out, but 2010 is a big year. The Rays could have drafted Buster Posey.

No. 28: Casey Kelly, Boston Red Sox. Kelly and the Red Sox organization were faced with a big decision in 2009. Where was Kelly going to play full-time moving forward? Shortstop or pitcher? Kelly is now a full-time pitcher and it was the right decision.

Kelly had a 2.05 ERA in 95 minor league innings last year. He could be in the Red Sox starting rotation by 2012.

No. 30: Yonder Alonso, Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are going to be faced with an interesting decision a year or two from now. Alonso is a first baseman and the Reds already have a star in waiting at first in Joey Votto.

Alonso isn’t as athletic as Votto, so I suspect Votto will be moved to the outfield. A broken bone in Alonso’s hand limited his power in 2009, but this guy can rake. Once he figures out how to hit lefties, he will be good to go.

No. 40: Drew Storen, Washington Nationals. Not only is Storen fun to follow on Twitter, but he is also on heck of pitcher. Stephen Strasburg is getting all the hype, but Storen isn’t far behind him.

Storen is being groomed at the Nationals’ closer of the future. He could be their closer by 2011.

The Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals led the way with four players in the top-50. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets (Ike Davis could have been on this list), and St. Louis Cardinals were the only teams not to have a player in the top-50.

You can find MLB.com’s complete list of top-50 prospects here.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Ryan Church

January 13, 2010

Here is what I wrote about Church when he was released by the Atlanta Braves in December:

“When Church was traded to the Mets from the Washington Nationals along with Brian Schneider for Lastings Milledge before the 2008 season, I thought it was a good deal for the Mets. In his first 43 games, Church made it look like a great deal for the Metropolitans.

In those first 43 games, Church hit .315 with nine home runs and for the first time in Omar Minaya’s tenure with the Mets, it looked like he pulled off a steal of a trade.

Then the night of May 20 against ironically the Braves happened.

Church slid in short stop Yunel Escobar’s knee at second base and suffered a concussion. It was Church’s second concussion in less than three months.

The Mets of course in typical Mets fashion made things worse by inexplicably making Church fly to Denver in the high altitude right after the second concussion.

Church hasn’t been the same since.

I am guessing the Braves release Church and Church shouldn’t have a problem finding a job with another team. His lifetime .813 OPS versus right-handed pitching should make him an attractive option as a left-handed hitter off the bench/forth outfielder.”

Not only did Church find a job with another team, but he might have the opportunity to start in 2010.

Church is headed to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Church to a one-year, $1.5 million contract today. Church can earn another $1.32 million in incentives if he reaches a certain amount of plate appearances in 2010.

While I have my doubts as to whether or not Church can ever regain his form prior to his concussions, he should be able to nail down a starting job in Pittsburgh. He should start for the Pirates in right field flanking Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge.

If Church can nail down the starting job, this will  allow the Pirates to play Garrett Jones at first base–at least against right-handing pitching. This move essentially ends the Pirates pursuit of Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock.

Who does Ankiel–and for that matter Scott Boras–think he is? He is a fringe starter in baseball and he is asking for a two or three year deal? He will be waiting for a long time if he thinks he is going to get that.

Church is a career .272 hitter with 51 home runs and a .345 OBP in six seasons with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Mets and Braves.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Marlins’ Chris Coghlan Wins National League Rookie Of The Year Award

November 16, 2009

My preseason NL Rookie of the Year pick: Cameron Maybin

NL Rookie of the Year winner: Chris Coghlan

At least I got the team right.

According to ESPN.com, Florida Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan has been voted National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Coghlan received 17 first-place votes and 105 points overall. Philadelphia Phillies’ pitcher JA Happ finished second with 94 votes.

Coghlan led all National League rookies in average with .321, hits with 162, doubles with 31, OBP with .390, and his finished second in OPS with .850.

Chris Coghlan

Coghlan hit his way to the NL ROY

Coghlan used a torrid second half to win this award. In the second half of the season, Coghlan led all of baseball in hits with 113 and hit a ridiculous .372.

I have no problem with Coghlan winning this award. Was Coghlan’s defense great in left field? No, it wasn’t at all. Could a compelling case be made for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen? Absolutely.

But these awards are 90 percent based on offense. And offensively, Coghlan had the best year. If I had a vote, I would have voted for Coghlan too.

Coghlan becomes the third Marlin to win this award. Hanley Ramirez won the award in 2006 and Dontrelle Willis won the award in 2003.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Is Andrew Bailey The American League ROY?

August 28, 2009

The other night, my friends and I were at dinner (Five Napkin Burger in NYC is very good) and we were talking about the Rookie of the Year candidates in both leagues and who would win the awards. It’s a pretty interesting debate considering there are a lot of great rookies in baseball this year.

In the National League, we talked about JA Happ, Andrew McCutchen, Colby Rasmus, Garrett Jones, Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler, and Casey McGehee. The NL is chalk full of rookie talent this year.

However, when it came to the American League we all kind of looked at each other with that blank stare similar to one we used to have in spanish class back in high school. My friend Justin said it has to be Andrew Bailey right? My first thought was Bailey is having a very good season, but there might be a better choice.

Bailey has been all A's for Oakland

Bailey has been all A's for Oakland

Once I looked deeper into the numbers, I have realized there might not be a better choice than the Oakland A’s closer. His biggest competition will come from Elvis Andrus, Gordon Beckham, and fellow pitcher Rick Porcello. David Price and Matt Wieters will get some votes as well because voters will look at the names instead of the numbers.

Out of the above group of players, Andrus figures to get the most first-place votes. He has had a decent year offensively (.266 with 24 SB’s and seven triples) and defensively, Andrus has already established himself as one of baseballs top fielding shortstops. Andrus also plays on a contending team which is a factor in Andrus’ advantage as well.

Amongst all the qualifying shortstops in the AL, Andrus ranks last in batting avg (.266), last in runs scored (52), last in hits (94), sixth in OBP (.331), and tied for first in SB’s (24).

I am not sure if those numbers will win him the award.

Bailey on the other hand, has really stood out amongst the games best relievers and closers all year. He ranks third in closers ERA (1.93), second in WHIP (0.91), first in strikeouts (75), third in games (55), and eighth in saves (19).

It’s the months of August and September where awards are won and Bailey has really turned it on in August. He is five-for-five in save opportunities, opponents are hitting .069 against him, and he has a 0.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.

I know it’s hard to compare closers versus position players, but if I had a vote, I would vote for Bailey. Despite playing on a bad A’s team, he has had a great season, has been a stud at the end of games, and I think it should be recognized.

Pittsburgh Pirates Have A Star In Andrew McCutchen…

August 12, 2009

There are three keys to a small market team’s long-term success:

1. They need to draft well. It all starts with the draft. Every now and then they need to hit a homerun with their first round pick .

2. They need to get back quality players when they trade their star players. This might be the most important. If a team trades one of their star players, the players they get in return have to pan out.

If a small market team gets three players for one star player and none of those players contribute – then that team is just spinning their wheels.

3. They need some luck. Listen, every team needs some luck in order to win. But a small market team even more so.

They need that 11th round draft pick to pan out (Corey Hart, Brewers) or they need that throw-in in a trade to become a solid contributor (Jason Bartlett, Rays).

Now as we all know, the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last 17 years haven’t done any of the above. For the most part they have been a terrible drafting team (look at their first round picks for the last 20 years, just terrible), they have very rarely gotten quality back for their star players (Brian Giles for Jason Bay being an exception), and they have been very unlucky.

Sooner or later, you would think the Pirates luck has to change. Well, I think in terms of drafting – it has. In 2005, the Pirates drafted OF Andrew McCutchen with the 11th pick in the first round of the draft. Four years later and now firmly entrenched as the starting centerfielder for the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen as star written all over him.

McCutchen should be a star for the Pirates

McCutchen should be a star for the Pirates

I know McCutchen is only 246 AB’s into his major-league career, but I like everything about this kid. He can run, he can hit, he can hit for power (hit three HR’s in one game already this year), and he can play defense.

McCutchen has the look of one of those players that can beat you in four or five different ways. Those players don’t come around too often.

Last night against the Colorado Rockies was a perfect example. Though McCutchen only got one hit, he helped the Pirates beat the Rockies with his eyes and his legs. He walked three times, saw 25 pitches (most in the game), scored three runs, and swiped three bases last night. If he is not hitting homeruns, he is beating a team in other ways.

McCutchen is batting .293 with seven HR’s, 32 RBI, 43 RBI, and a .359 OBP in 59 games. After all these years it looks like the Pirates have finally found their franchise player.

Andrew McCutchen Shines In His Debut…

June 5, 2009

One of the main reasons the Pirates traded CF, Nate McLouth was to make room for super prospect and fellow CF, Andrew McCutchen. Why the Pirates didn’t just move McLouth to RF so they could have an outfield of Morgan, McCutchen and McLouth is beyond me. But I guess that is for a different post.

Back to the matter at hand. McCutchen made his major league debut yesterday against the Mets, and it couldn’t have gone any better. McCutchen went 2-4 with three runs scored, one RBI, a walk, a stolen base and saw a team high 19 pitches in his five plate appearances. I would say that is one heck of a day.

McCutchen had a nice debut

McCutchen had a nice debut

McCutchen is about 5-11 and 175 lbs, so he is not as wiry as let’s say Rockies CF, Dexter Fowler. However, he is just as fast and looks like a player who will develop more power with age. If you want to ask me for a comparison? How about a righthanded Curtis Granderson with a little more speed.

Here are some other facts about Andrew McCutchen…

Age – 22

College – None. Went to Fort Meade High School in Florida

Drafted – 11th pick of the first round of the 2005 Draft

Minor League Stats

2006 Single A: .291 with 15 HR’s, 62 RBI, 22 SB’s and a .356 OBP in 114 games

2006 Double A: .308 with three HR’s, 12 RBI and a .379 OBP in 20 games

2007 Double A: .258 with 10 HR’s, 48 RBI, 17 SB’s and a .327 OBP in 118 games

2007 Triple A: .313 with one HR and five RBI in 17 games

2008 Triple A: .283 with 9 HR’s, 50 RBI, 34 SB’s and a .372 OBP in 135 games

2009 Triple A: .303 with four HR’s, 20 RBI, 10 SB’s and a .361 OBP in 49 games

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: #18 out of the 100 best prospects in baseball

Analysis: “Andrew McCutchen has been rushed. Repeat after me: He … has … been … rushed. This isn’t a criticism of the current regime in Pittsburgh, as the rushing all took place before Neal Huntington could even get a catalog to pick out new drapes for his office, but they inherited a player who had arrived in Triple-A before his 21st birthday despite posting a .710 OPS in Double-A, a level he reached after the Pirates skipped him right past high-A. He’s been rushed, I say. The good thing is that he has survived this hazing and even performed well in several areas, notably his plate discipline.

McCutchen has strong wrists and forearms and makes hard contact, but doesn’t get his lower half involved at all and thus hasn’t hit for the kind of power he’s capable of producing. He has great bat speed and has hit for average while making plenty of contact. He’s a 65-70 runner but had an uncharacteristically sloppy year as a base stealer; he’s a plus glove in center but could use a little work on routes. The power should come — he’s too young for us to assume that it won’t — and the new regime in Pittsburgh has a much better player-development protocol in place.”