Prospects to Watch Part II
This is the second of three prospects entries on D-blog, you can check out the first one here.
If a player is on a Spring Training roster, and appears on two of the Top 100 (or 101) lists posted by Keith Law, Kevin Goldstein and Baseball America, we’re giving you a heads up.
Check out those three lists for yourself here:
Next week, I’ll reprint the entry from the Spring Training edition of D-backs Insider featuring Arizona prospects, perhaps with a quick look at how our players are doing so far.
Colorado Rockies (March 14 in Hermosillo, March 31 at Hi Corbett)
Christian Friedrich – LHP
Goldstein: 22 – – – Law: 36 – – – BA: 33
The Rockies drafted this tall (6-4) lefty in the first round of the 2008 draft, and then he dominated his first full season of pro ball, posting a 2.41 ERA at two single-A levels in 2009. Friedrich struck out 159 batters in 119 2/3 innings. He may be reassigned before March 31, so you might not see Friedrich, who is probably looking at a 2010 debut if crushes Double-A. Law on Friedrich: “Friedrich has four pitches and misses bats with both his tight, almost-12-to-6 curveball and his cutter, while his fastball sits in the low 90s and his changeup is nearly an average pitch.”
Jhoulys Chacin – RHP
Goldstein: NA – – – Law: 48 – – – BA: 71
Chacin got his first taste of the Majors in 2009 when the Rockies needed some bullpen help and he struggled a bit. But at Double-A and Triple-A in 2009, he was excellent, going 9-8 with a 3.21 ERA. Depending on what the Rockies need and what they’re plan is for Chacin’s development, he could probably help the big league club in the bullpen today, and then perhaps ease into the rotation as the need arises. Law on Chacin: “His calling card is his excellent command, which carries across all three pitches, as well as plus control. His ability to locate within the zone has helped him carve up minor league hitters even in tough pitching environments.”
Kansas City Royals (March 19 in Tucson, April 1 at Surprise)
Mike Moustakas – 3B
Goldstein: 79 – – – Law: 69 – – – BA: 80
Mike Moustakas’ star has dipped a bit since he was the second pick in the 2007 draft (behind David Price, ahead of Josh Vitters, Matt Weiters, Matt LaPorta, Jarrod Parker, Madison Bumgarner, et al) because he just hasn’t shown the kind of plate discipline you’d hope a player would develop at this point. The power is there, hitting 38 home runs and 61 doubles over the last two years at Single-A and High-A, but the .297 on-base percentage he posted in 2009 isn’t going to cut it.
Aaron Crow – RHP
Goldstein: 54 – – – Law: 87 – – – BA: 40
As you can see from the rankings, there is a little bit of disagreement on Aaron Crow, partly because no one is quite sure what his long-term role will be. He’ll be given a chance to start, but could wind up being a closer down the road. Goldstein on Crow: “He’s lanky, wiry-strong, and an excellent athlete who maintained his stuff deep into games during his college career. He pitches with a bit of a nasty streak, and seems to relish pitching inside.”
Los Angeles Angels (March 17 in Tempe)
Hank Conger – C
Goldstein: 81 – – – Law: 52 – – – BA:
Conger can be a fun player to watch, since you’re not going out to a Spring Training matchup to see him call a good game. You want to see him hit and this switch-hitting catcher can do that. He had a hard time staying on the field until last year (he played 87 games in 2007 and 73 in 2008), but he certainly hit in 123 Double-A games in 2009, batting .295 with 11 home runs and 20 doubles. Law on Conger: “The best-case scenario on Conger is that he’s an offensive catcher who hits in the middle of a lineup with power and some patience while helping control the opposition’s running game.”
Trevor Reckling – LHP
Goldstein: 92 – – – Law: 77 – – – BA: NA
The Angels’ eighth-round pick in 2007 has gotten it done at every level of the minors, posting a 2.99 ERA in 342 2/3 innings. He doesn’t turn 21 until late May, so the Angels will be in no mad rush to get him to the big leagues, but he was terrific at Double-A last year, going 8-7 with a 2.93 ERA. Goldstein on Reckling: “Both his power breaking ball and highly advanced changeup project as true big-league out pitches. He’s a fantastic athlete for his size, and he fields his position well.”
Los Angeles Dodgers (March 13 in Tucson)
Most of the Dodgers’ best prospects are in the lower levels of the minors, so you’re not going to see them in Spring Training unless you’re hanging out on the back fields. The non-roster invitees in this camp are a lot of old names — Eric Gagne, Justin Miller, Ramon Ortiz, Josh Towers, Jeff Weaver, Angel Berroa, Brian Giles. There’s nobody you’ll be telling your grandkids you saw in big league camp.
The best prospect in camp is probably outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who Law ranks as the sixth-best prospect in the system.
Milwaukee Brewers (March 28 in Tucson, April 1 at Maryvale)
Alcides Escobar – SS
Goldstein: 19 – – – Law: 54 – – – BA:
After the team traded J.J. Hardy to the Twins in the offseason, Escobar now has the shot to start for the Brewers after making pretty good contact (.304 average) in 38 games in 2009. The fact that the Brewers intend to play him every day is a good thing, since the D-backs don’t play them until the last week in Spring Training. Many prospects who have been invited to camp aren’t necessarily around that late in the month. Goldstein on Escobar: “He’s developed into a good line-drive hitter who uses all fields and can occasionally drive balls into the gap. He has enough speed to produce 30-40 stolen bases annually.”
It looks like you’ll need to wait another year to see second base prospect Brett Lawrie.