Minor Achievements: Notable Rookies
Some tidbits from around the minors:
I previously wrote about Carlos Gomez of the Mets. The guy is currently in Triple-A New Orleans, batting .419 with six doubles, two triples and six steals. His K/BB ratio is a tolerable 3/6, and, I'd probably say he has Carl Crawford potential. He isn't quite as fast as Crawford, but he could steal 40-50 bags if it all comes together, and the guy has more power potential than the Devil Rays star. Keep watching him.
I'm not a huge fan of Devern Hansack (29-year-old rookies aren't my "cuppa"), but he has solid stuff and is 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP at Triple-A Pawtucket. When you whiff 20 in 10 2/3 innings, you get my attention, my friend! He could be up as soon as the Red Sox need another arm.
Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers is dealing in the Pacific Coast League with a 3.27 ERA, a 19/3 K/BB ratio and a 1.18 WHIP in 11 innings. With his combination of stuff, command and guts, he could be huge really soon.
Giants shorty right-hander Tim Lincecum is doing even better than Gallardo, with 12 shutout innings, a 17/5 K/BB ratio and a 0.92 WHIP with Triple-A Fresno. If you can do that in one of PCL's California ballparks, you can do it in San Francisco.
Dewon Day, remember the name. He's at Double-A Birmingham in the Southern League. A 6-foot-4 righty reliever, he has 16 whiffs in 5 2/3 innings. That's not a typo. Last season, he had 63 whiffs in 47 2/3 innings. He has a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. He has had some control issues in the past, but he is exactly the kind of guy who can come up at midseason and flat own. Need this year's Pat Neshek?
Travis Buck, OF, Athletics
A good spring pushed up the timetable, as I figured Buck would come up in August. Some say Buck has the potential to develop into a 20-homer guy, and I concur because he has the youth, plate discipline, swing and athleticism to do so. He's a driven player, and at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he has a big enough frame to add some meat and potatoes and start driving the ball. The other thing is Buck's line-drive pop. The man had 39 doubles in 338 at-bats last season (that projects to 69 over a 600 at-bat season). As a player matures, some of his doubles usually turn into taters. Buck might not develop into a base stealer à la Lawton, but the other pieces are in place, and it's not as if Buck couldn't steal 20 bases if he learns good technique. He has the speed to be an asset once he gets on base.
Chase Wright, LHP, Yankees
A 6-foot-2, 190-pounder, Wright came to my attention the old-fashioned way: Evan, one of my deep keeper league mates, grabbed him a few days ago. I like Wright (in retrospect) despite his mediocre stuff (he tops out at 90 mph, though his off-speed stuff is good). Wright had a 183/94 ground ball/fly ball ratio in the Florida State League last season, and check out his ability to keep the ball down: one homer allowed in his last 133 2/3 minor league innings! He mainly works with a two-seamer (a sinking fastball) and his off-speed stuff, hence his ground ball tendencies. It's going to be a hard slog for Wright to turn into another Jimmy Key, but in AL-only leagues, I'd roll the dice on this guy for my bench, especially with his getting a spot, albeit temporarily, in the Yankee rotation.
Felix Pie, OF, Cubs
Coming into this season, Pie (pronounced Pee-yay) had a 438/164 K/BB ratio. That's why his nine walks and five whiffs spurred me to write about him this week even before his call-up. Pie is a young pup -- just 22 years old -- and if his plate discipline holds, he could really be special. You'd throw out that Brian Jordan comparison and go with Baseball America's of Carlos Beltran. Pie's baserunning judgment is awful, but he is a potential 35-steal man and could eventually bat .300-plus with 30 homers. In order for these things to happen, Pie mustn't bulk up too much, and he must continue working the strike zone. Still, I think it's safe to assume his potential peak will be a notch or two below Beltran, who was a more polished performer at a younger age.
A couple of weeks ago, I gave a shout-out to ESPN partner Perfect Game and my friend, former Astros front-office guru David Rawnsley. David has seen just about every pro prospect worth a glance over the last few years, and this week, I'd like to present some of his analysis.
Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun High School (Sugar Valley, Ga.)
Comparable to: Cliff Lee
Says Mr. Rawnsley: "Smoker is a strong-armed southpaw who pitches in the low 90s and tops out at 94 mph. His out pitch is a power curveball, and he throws a straight change and a split change. He is one of the most polished and most competitive prep pitchers in the country, and has won numerous national championship games over the past four years pitching for the East Cobb Astros program. He is committed to Clemson, but is a likely first-round pick."
Other scouts have been raving about Smoker's breaking ball. Apparently, it is separating him from other prep lefties in what is shaping up to be a superb 2007 draft class. If you like your power southpaws, and you like 'em young, Smoker's definitely someone to go after.
David Srinivasan writes about statistics and the minors for ESPN.COM, if you have questions, suggestions or just wanna talk about PGP, please e-mail him at Srini@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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