Posts Tagged ‘Drew Storen’

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

Brian Bruney Strikes Fantasy Gold

December 14, 2009

Saturday night was the deadline for teams to tender players with less than six years service time contracts. There were a lot of quality players who were non-tendered contracts that night.

One of those players who was non-tendered a contract was Mike MacDougal of the Washington Nationals. MacDougal, by default became the Nationals’ closer last year after original closer Joel Hanrahan was ineffective.

Bruney could be the Nats closer in 2010

MacDougal picked up 20 saves and had a respectable 3.60 ERA in 50 games for the Nationals in 2009. However, his one-to-one strike out to walk ratio and hip surgery in October was probably the reason he was not tendered a contract.

Now that MacDougal is gone for now (the Nationals could still bring him back), the Nationals need a closer for 2010. Enter recently acquired Brian Bruney.

Bruney was acquired from the New York Yankees for a Player To Be Named Later (Jamie Hoffmann) and now stands to be the Nationals’ closer in 2010. As scary as that seems, there is nobody else in Washington right now who even remotely looks capable of closing games.

Bruney needs to limit his walks and of course, stay healthy in order to be effective for the Nationals. For a guy with decent stuff, Bruney walks way, way to many batters.

Bruney for his career has averaged 6.2 walks/9 innings. It’s hard to rely on a guy who goes to a 3-2 count on every batter and almost walks as many as he strikes out (8.9 K’s/9 for his career).

However, that is what the Nationals might have to do in 2010.

The Nationals gave their bullpen 58 save opportunities last year, which ranked towards the bottom of baseball. I don’t think the Nationals will rush Drew Storen to the majors, so Bruney should have the opportunity to save between 25 and 30 games in 2010.

Bruney went from afterthought with the Yankees, to a fantasy option in 2010. Draft Bruney as a low-end, number two closer in most fantasy formats.

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

Which MLB Teams Have The Best And Worst Farm Systems?

December 4, 2009

It’s that time of year again.

It’s the time of year when Baseball America reveals which teams have the best farm systems and the worst. Baseball America also does an update of their rankings around the spring time.

If there is one good thing (amongst many) about the end of the Steroid Era in Major League Baseball it’s that there has been a re-emphasis by teams on the development of young players and improving their minor league system.

Teams have gone from trading young players like hot cakes in the 90’s to holding on to them for dear life in the late-2000’s. With the economy in a rut and free agent spending down, teams are holding on to draft picks and their own talent more than ever.

Back in the 90’s, GM’s for the most part didn’t care about giving up a first-round pick in order to sign a Type A free agent. Now, that is not the case.

Here are the teams that Baseball America has ranked as having the done best job of developing and holding on to their prospects and the worst job of developing and holding on to their prospects.

Five Best Farm Systems

1. Rangers: Neftali Feliz has a special arm and could still be an impact starting pitcher, but if he’s not, he has already shown the ability to be a shutdown reliever. The Rangers’ pitching depth remains impressive, as lefty Martin Perez earned top prospect honors in the low Class A South Atlantic League in his first full season.

Texas’ top signed draft pick, right-hander Tanner Scheppers, showed premium stuff in the Arizona Fall League, and the system has power lefties in Kasey Kiker and Robbie Ross. Texas lacks depth in terms of hitters, but switch-hitting first baseman Justin Smoak isn’t far away from being able to help a lineup that needs it.

Davis leads the Rays farm system

2. Rays: Talk about top-heavy. Every system would love to have two big league-ready right-handers like Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson, who both have stuff, command and success at the upper levels. And neither of them is even the Rays’ top prospect — that honor goes to five-tool center fielder Desmond Jennings, whose only issue is durability.

In between Triple-A and low Class A, the Rays are a bit thin, but they have a bevy of power arms at the lower levels, led by left-hander Matt Moore.

3. Giants: San Francisco has two elite talents in catcher Buster Posey and left-hander Madison Bumgarner, both of whom should contribute to the major league club in 2010.

The Giants also have depth, despite the uncertain status of slugger Angel Villalona, who was stripped of his U.S. visa after an off-season murder charge in his native Dominican Republic. San Francisco has shortstop options, some solid bats (such as outfielder Thomas Neal) and solid depth, but it’s really about the stars.

4. Phillies: Philadelphia had the depth to trade for Cliff Lee and still have a top-flight farm system. Outfielder Michael Taylor has hit .333 over the last two seasons, rocketing to Triple-A, and fellow outfielder Dominic Brown has better tools, though he’s still a bit raw.

Righty Kyle Drabek, son of the former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, has three above-average pitches to go with excellent athletic ability. Beyond their Big Three — all of whom have performed at Double-A or above — the Phillies are bursting with young power arms, toolsy Latin American infielders and athletic outfielders, such as Anthony Gose.

5. Indians: Cleveland has traded many of the key players from its 2007 playoff team. That’s cold comfort to Tribe fans, but many of the prospects acquired in those trades now give the Indians one of the game’s top farm systems.

The organization’s top arms, right-hander Jason Knapp and left-hander Nick Hagadone, both were trade pickups, with Knapp coming from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal and Hagadone from Boston as the key piece in the Victor Martinez trade.

Catcher Carlos Santana, acquired from the Dodgers for Casey Blake, is a switch-hitting offensive force who was the MVP of the Eastern League in 2009, and 2008 first-round pick Lonnie Chisenhall reached Double-A in his first full pro season.

Five Best Worst Systems

26. Nationals: They have the best prospect in the game in No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg, plus solid talents in catcher Derek Norris, right-hander Drew Storen and shortstop Danny Espinosa. Beyond that, though, the Nats have very little help, especially at the upper levels, which is a pity considering the state of the big-league roster.

27. Diamondbacks: Years of conservative drafts have left Arizona painfully short on athletes, especially up the middle of the diamond. Plus top prospect Jarrod Parker, a right-hander drafted third overall in 2007, will miss next season after having Tommy John surgery.

28. Blue Jays: Toronto would be No. 30 if not for last summer’s Scott Rolen trade, which brought needed pitching talent from the Reds. Toronto’s top hitters, such as infielders Justin Jackson and Kevin Ahrens and catcher J.P. Arencibia, had poor seasons in 2009, and the Jays also failed to sign three of their first four draft picks this year.

29. Cardinals: Ranked eighth last spring, St. Louis traded away both star power and depth in 2009 in acquiring Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. What’s left is a bunch of role players and 2009 first-rounder Shelby Miller, a promising right-hander but a prep pitcher who has yet to play a full season.

30. Astros: Houston has added solid talent in its last two first-rounders, catcher Jason Castro (2008) and Jiovanni Mier (2009), as well as ’08 supplemental pick Jordan Lyles, a promising right-hander. But the Astros’ system is full of holes — it hasn’t produced a team with a winning record since 2007.

If you look at the five worst farm systems, the one that really sticks out to me is the Nationals. When you are bad on the field and perhaps have just as bad farm system–then you have a major problem.

What this tells me is that it is imperative that Strasburg, Storen, and perhaps Bryce Harper pan out. If not, this team could start spinning their wheels like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.

Not surprised to see the Astros on this list. The Astros are one of the few teams in baseball, who still operate like it is 1998–bloated contracts at the major league level and very little emphasis on player development.

All team rankings and prospect information is courtesy of Baseball America, via SI.com.

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

Preview: Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

November 7, 2009

Update: Josh Vitters has been scratched from tonight’s game. Baltimore Orioles’ 3B prospect Josh Bell will replace Vitters on the East roster. Bell was traded to the Orioles in the deal that sent George Sherrill to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bell is expected to compete for the Orioles’ starting third base job in spring training and is a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2010.

Original Post

Here is what I wrote back in June after I had just done a recap of the major league draft:

“Here is my suggestion for Bud Selig in order to give the draft some juice. Unless you are a real die hard baseball, other than Stephen Strasburg, you don’t know 99 percent of the players drafted in the first round.

“The MLB Network should show a high school or college “Showcase Game of the Week.” Once a week broadcast a game that features a projected first round pick. This will allow fans to get to know some of the players their team is interested in. I think this will really help the draft.”

Major League Baseball and the MLB Network has followed my suggestion–to an extent. Since we are there is no high school or college baseball to showcase right now, the MLB Network has decided to do the next best thing.

Tonight at 8:15 ET, the MLB Network will televise the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game. This is exactly what I was talking about when I suggested the MLB Network show a rising stars game for high school and college players.

This is really great for the game of baseball.

This will allow fans a chance to see some of the future stars of the game. How often do casual fans get to see their teams top prospects play before they reach the major leagues?

Now that the MLB Network is televising this game, who should you be looking for? Here are 10 players in tonight’s game that you should keep an eye on.

East

1. Buster Posey, C

Organization – San Francisco Giants

Arizona Fall League Stats – .218/.317/.364 in 14 games

Posey was called up by the Giants in September, but for reasons only known to the Giants organization he didn’t play much. In seven games, Posey only hit .118 with the big club.

Don’t be fooled, this guy can hit. All signs point to Posey being the Giants’ starting catcher in 2010.

2. Josh Vitters, 3B

Organization – Chicago Cubs

Arizona Fall League Stats – .360/.385/.460 in 12 games

The former No. 3 pick in the 2007 draft has been tearing up the Arizona Fall League. Vitters should be ready to take over the starting third base job in Chicago once Aramis Ramirez is done with his contract after the 2011 season.

3. Grant Desme, OF

Organization – Oakland A’s

Arizona Fall League Stats – .373/.453/.827 in 18 games

That sound you just heard was Desme just breaking another window. In just 18 games, Desme has 10 homeruns in the Arizona Fall League. Desme has “light tower power” and for those of you think he is a typical A’s “Moneyball” player–he is not.

In the minor leagues in 2009, Desme had 42 SB’s,

4. Starlin Castro, SS

Organization – Chicago Cubs

Arizona Fall League Stats – .433/.462/.550 in 17 games.

The Cubs might have a star on their hands with Castro. The 19-year-old non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic is currently leading the Arizona Fall League in hitting. He is also tied for third in SB’s with five.

Watch for Castro tonight. He might be the most exciting player on the field.

Castro also played in the Future’s Game in July.

5. Drew Storen, P

Organization – Washington Nationals

Arizona Fall League Stats – 0.93 ERA, nine K’s, and two saves in 9.2 IP

Not only does Storen do a good job of updating his Twitter page, but he also might be the future closer for the Nationals. If the East is leading in the ninth inning, look for Storen to close out the game.

West

1. Jason Castro, C

Organization – Houston Astros

Arizona Fall League Stats  –.143/.260/.214 in 11 games

Ready or not, here Castro comes to the Astros. Because the Astros no established catcher in their organization, Castro might be rushed to the majors in 2010.

Castro hit .300 with a .826 OPS in the minor leagues in 2009.

2. Yonder Alonso, 1B

Organization – Cincinnati Reds

Arizona Fall League Stats – .275/.298/.375 in 13 games

Alonso was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2008 draft and if he is going to play in Cincinnati, he is going to have to learn to play another position. I don’t think Joey Votto is going anywhere for a while.

Alonso had a .838 OPS between Rookie and Single-A in 2009.

3. Dustin Ackley, OF

Organization – Seattle Mariners

Arizona Fall League Stats – .300/.378/.375 in 11 games

The No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft is someone to watch tonight. The former Tar Heel star has all the tools to be a star in the majors.

I have gone on record in saying that Ackley would be the best player to come out of the 2009 draft.

4. Jordan Danks, OF

Organization – Chicago White Sox

Arizona Fall League Stats – .333/.378/.485 in 18 games.

The White Sox have done well with one Danks at the major league level, so why not give another Danks a try. Jordan is the younger brother of White Sox LHP John Danks.

Danks made the jump to Double-A in 2009 and while he didn’t tear up Double-A pitching (.243 avg), he could get his shot with the big club in 2011.

5. Tanner Scheppers, P

Organization – Texas Rangers

Arizona Fall League Stats – 3.00 ERA and nine K’s in nine IP.

Scheppers was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, but decided to go back to college. While in college, Scheppers tore his rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder.

With doubts about his health, Scheppers slipped to the 44th pick in the 2009 draft. Now healthy, Scheppers is showing everyone why he was on the highest regarded pitchers in the draft.

Conspicuous by his absence on this list is Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg was supposed to start this game for the East squad but was scratched because of a strained neck muscle.

The Reds and the Cubs have the most players in this game with four.

You can view the complete rosters for both teams here.

Recapping The 1st Round Of The 2009 MLB Draft….

June 10, 2009

Other than Bud Selig being the worst public speaker of all-time and the awkward Zack Wheeler interview where he admitted he knows nothing about the San Francisco Giants, I thought the MLB Network did a very good job of producing the 2009 MLB Draft.

Here is a recap of the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft….

1. Washington Nationals – Stephen Strasburg, RHP. If this guy doesn’t pan out, he will be the biggest bust of all-time.

2. Seattle Mariners – Dustin Ackley, 1B. Ackley will play the OF for the Mariners and in my opinion, he will be the best player in this draft.

3. San Diego Padres – Donvon Tate, OF. Super athletic. Has a full ride to UNC to play football.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Sanchez, C. John Hart said there are hitting concerns with Sanchez. Not something you want to hear about your forth pick.

5. Baltimore Orioles – Matt Hobgood, RHP. The first surprise of the draft. Many didn’t have Hobgood going this high. Reminds John Hart of Brad Penny. Somewhere Alyssa Milano and Eliza Dushku are smiling.

6. San Francisco Giants – Zack Wheeler, RHP. Don’t the Giants have enough pitching? My pick to be the second best player in this year’s draft. My only concern is that is wind up is very similar to Rich Harden’s.

7. Atlanta Braves – Mike Minor, LHP. As soon as this pick was made Harold Reynolds said throw stats out the window. What? Projects to a back of the rotation starter. Always good to hear with the #7 pick in the draft.

8. Cincinnati Reds – Mike Leake, RHP. The Reds have drafted well recently and it looks like they hit another HR with Leake. I like the ASU pedigree.

9. Detroit Tigers – Jacob Turner, RHP. Perhaps the most upside of all the high school pitchers in this draft.

10. Washington Nationals – Drew Storen, RHP. The future closer for the Nationals.

11. Colorado Rockies – Tyler Matzek, LHP. The only reason he lasted this long is because of signability issues. Matzek is asking for the moon. Matzek is probably the poster child for what is wrong with the current draft system.

12. Kansas City Royals – Aaron Crow, RHP. Good pick by the Royals. Crow was drafted last year in the first round by the Nationals but did not sign.

13. Oakland A’s – Grant Green, SS. Many thought Green would go to the Royals at 12. Frank Marcos describes him in the same many described Dustin Pedroia.

14. Texas Rangers – Matt Purke, LHP. John Hart, who is a special adviser to Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels thinks this is a great pick by the Rangers. Shocker there.

15. Cleveland Indians – Alex White, RHP. All of a sudden UNC is becoming a baseball powerhouse. White might be in the Indians’ bullpen next year.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks – Bobby Borchering, 3B. The best high school hitter on the board, projects to be a #3 or #4 hitter. He might move over to first in the future.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks – AJ Pollock, OF. MVP of the Cape Cod League. Good pick by the Diamondbacks. This pick was compensation for the Dodgers signing Orlando Hudson.

18. Florida Marlins – Chad James, LHP. Another young pitching stud for the Florida Marlins.

19. St Louis Cardinals – Shelby Miller, RHP. Sounds more like my accountant than a flame throwing pitcher. Frank Marcos and John Hart love this pick for the Cardinals.

20. Toronto Blue Jays – Chad Jenkins, RHP. Pitched at Kennesaw State University. Where exactly is that? This kid is a big boy.

21. Houston Astros – Jiovanni Mier, SS.  High school SS who will take some time getting to the majors. Good glove, little bat.

22. Minnesota Twins – Kyle Gibson, RHP. There are some injury concerns with Gibson, who had a stress fracture in his pitching forearm. If not for that injury, he would have been a top five pick.

23. Chicago White Sox – Jared Mitchell, OF. Mitchell also plays football at LSU. Just a ridiculous athlete. Already has the biggest neck I have ever seen for a baseball player.

24. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Randal Grichuk, OF. Good hitter, who John Hart describes as a grinder.

25. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Michael Trout, OF. Trout was the only player to show up to the studio for the draft. My guess is that if Trout wasn’t from NJ (MLB Network is in NJ) he wouldn’t have been there. Frank Marcos compares him to Craig Biggio.

26. Milwaukee Brewers – Eric Arnett, RHP. Draws comparisons to Marlins’ pitcher, Josh Johnson. Good athlete who used to work out with the University of Indiana Basketball team.

27. Seattle Mariners – Nick Franklin, SS. Steady ballplayer, who can switch-hit. I like what the Mariners have done in this draft.

28. Boston Red Sox – Reymond Fuentes, OF. John Hart loves this pick and thinks Fuentes is a future leadoff hitter. Fuentes has blazing speed and is the nephew of Carlos Beltran.

29. New York Yankees – Slade Heathcott, OF. Classic Texas name. Reminds me of former University of Texas QB, Major Applewhite. Lefthanded hitter, who has tremendous tools.

30. Tampa Bay Rays – LeVon Washington, 2B. Classic Rays’ player. Great speed, great athlete and has a great glove. He needs to grow into his body because right now he looks like a stick figure.

31. Chicago Cubs – Brett Jackson, OF. This is Harold Reynold’s #1 hitter in this draft. Which means that he will never reach the major leagues.

32. Colorado Rockies – Tim Wheeler, OF. Wheeler played at Sacramento State University. I didn’t even know that was a school. How much is Wheeler loving life right now? He gets drafted in the first round and has a chance to hit in Coors Field.

So that concludes the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft. I love the four minutes between picks. Makes everything just go so smoothly.

Here is my suggestion for Bud Selig in order to give the draft some juice. Unless you are a real die hard baseball, other than Stephen Strasburg, you don’t know 99 percent of the players drafted in the first round.

The MLB Network should show a high school or college “Showcase Game of the Week.” Once a week broadcast a game that features a projected first round pick. This will allow fans to get to know some of the players their team is interested in. I think this will really help the draft.