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Archive for the ‘Scouting the Unknown’ Category

Check out my article over at Razzball.
Hope you enjoy.

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Back with the ever so thrilling Scouting the Unknown (or STU as I like to call it).  However, because it is the off-season there will be a few more ‘larger’ names thrown into the mix.  It will be more Scouting the Unknown about lower tier/overrated players.  Sure, its a cop out, but you tell me 3-4 new players that no one is looking at this off season… who was? … Fair enough and you thought I was crazy? Silly you!

Onto the plan…:

Mat Gamel (BREWERS)– Gamel has proven at each step he has taken he’s ready.  2008 was a brilliant year for this young slugger hitting .329 96/19/96  (Ave R/HR/RBI) in a little over 500 AB.  Not to shabby for a 22 year old in Double-A.  He did play in 5 AAA games with very little success, maybe it was his bum elbow.  Over at ScoutingBook.com they say he is, “A polished pro hitter, Gamel has all-fields line drive swing with developing power.”  Due to his defense, which is suspect to say the least, he may not be even in the mix for a while,  that is unless they want to see if he can hit like Braun and dismiss all defensive liabilities he will provide!  I would expect to see him during a late May–early June call up.

*For a wonderful article on Matt LaPorta, Mat Gamel, and Chris Davis here is an excellent article. ps- Matt LaPorta hit .167 in winter ball…

Blake DeWitt (LAD)– Sure he started all season, but why?  He only hit .268/.344/.383(Ave/OBP/SLG) with 45/9/52.  To put that into perspective, Carlos Gomez hit .258/.296/.360 with 79/7/59 plus 33 steals.  Sure Gomez was at that top of the order- for about 6 weeks.  Nevertheless, DeWitt should be inline for a DeMotion.  Those numbers, especially at 3B is pitiful, no horrendous is more like it.  If he was a catcher I would put up with it, but 3B? Are you kidding me? Are you… wait never mind.  His minor league numbers say it best- .280/.333/.446 and 277/61/270 in over 1900 AB.  That doesn’t look any better.  You are now looking at maybe a .012 improvement in his average, and at a season total of 60/16/65.  Nothing to look at here.

Cliff Lee (CLE)– I am sure you are wondering why Cliff Lee made this list…(refer up about, oh say 4 inches) OVER… RATED…!!! *chirping in the outfield, crickets whittling on their violins*  Easily a career year, 1.5 ERA less than his average, and .2 WHIP less than his career average too.  Sure he has always had a great winning percentage, but his numbers have never shown that he could dominate like he did last year.  Even his best year in the minors (2003) didn’t translate into big league success.  At age 30 he is past his prime (even for pitchers), and I would avoid him like the plague.  Just remember the year Bartolo Colon had after his CY Young…? Yea me either (he hasn’t had a full season since (2005)).  Don’t ever draft a historically late round pick… Yeah, I know, I am bitter because he should not have been so good last year.  It was a fluke beyond all flukes.  Like the Falcons beating the Vikings in ’98!

Hopefully this will tide you over for the next few days.

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Due to travels, and other various unplanned events, here is my delayed report on some ‘spects.

Chris Davis- At the time of deciding, before time ran away, he was my desire to write this. By now we all know what he does: mashes like the bash brothers, and strikes out like Adam Dunn. Oh, and that is probably who he’ll end up like. Here is an excellent detailed scouting on him if you’d like.

So instead of focusing on Davis, I found another player I would like to catch up on.

Steven Pearce- was drafted in the 10th round out of the University of South Carolina in 2004 by the Red Sox, but in 2005 he was drafted in the 8th round by the Pirates. Right now he is a 25 year old outfielder who, like Bruce, went from High Class A ball to Triple-A ball last year earning him Topps Minor League Player of the Year, and MiLB.com‘s player of the Year as well. While showing power, patience, and promise Pearce was given an invite to Spring Training. Before and even during spring training this Pirate was touted as a possible RoY candidate. Mentioned along with Colby Rasmus, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, etc. He struggled a bit during the last few weeks of Spring Training and the Pirates sent him down to Triple-A to start the season.

It was expected that he would just continue to keep raking and would be shortly called up along with Longoria, and like Braun last year. Except Nate McLouth broke out (like he was destined to do), Xavier Nady kept his career trend to start hot up, and Jason Bay actually showed up this year, while Pearce started the season colder than Scrooges’ heart. Those players, and his fellow teammate Nyjer Morgan was hot while he was cold delayed his eminent recall (in 2007 in 68 AB he went .294/.342/.397). His number this year in Triple-A looks poor due to an awful April. But since then all his peripherals have improved with each month.

Just last week he was given a call-up on July 2nd, only to be sent back down on July 8th. Not much of a chance for him to show the League what he can do. In 1561 minor league at-bats he hit .295/.364/.530 with 75 homers and 131 doubles. Each level he rose in 2007 his ave/obp/slg fell, but all stayed relatively high. With the trade deadline looming and the Pirates destined to be sellers, look for Bay and/or Nady to be traded to let Pearce and Morgan get an extend look at what they can provide.

I could see Pearce coming up in August to stay have something similar to:

200 AB .285/.365/.425 or 25 R, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 3 SB

It’s nothing to write home about but if he can finish the season strong up in the Majors we could see him being a starter by next spring.

Denard Span- Since 2005 he was touted as the heir apparent to center-field when Torii Hunter either retired, signed else where, or was traded. Now that Torii Hunter signed a 5 year $90 million contract, and Johan Santana’s trade brought in Carlos Gomez, Span was put on the back burner. At age 24, this lefty has finally been given his first real shot in the major (spring training tryouts count at heart) after 6 years in the minors now that Michael Cuddyer is hurt and on the DL. He has been given a chance to play right field on an everyday bases and has provided excellent coverage until Cuddyer returns. Right now (as of 6-11-2008 ) he’s .359/.468/.469 in 64 at bats while provide above average defense.

It is amazing how the Twins can continuously lose their star players and replace them from within their farm system. Matter of fact, they have several that are on their way up that I will look at in the off-season. Looking at his minor league career totals, and this years numbers he is due for a drastic fall to earth. He is a career .287/.355/.358 hitter. Most young hitters it takes time for them to develop good plate discipline, but Denard has shown excellent bat control with a BB:K ratio of 210-356 in 2095 at-bats. However, he never showed any sort of power, not even gap power. In all those at bats he only had 67 two baggers, and 10 home runs. A nice sign thouse is that 47 of those doubles and 8 of those homers came in the last 3 years; 31 doubles and 6 homers in Triple A. It is nice to see that the power is developing, but at age 24 he wont develop much more power.

What value does he have then if he cannot hit for anything resembling power? Good question. He did steal 116 bases, but only at a 66% clip. Surprisingly his success rate fell each level he went up. Not a great sign because it shows that he either is consistent at getting poor reads, or he didn’t learn to pick up the pitcher better (aka same thing). Fantasy wise he is a poor option, but resembles a Juan Pierre or Willy Taveras with the speed of say Torii Hunter on the base paths. His defense is fairly decent (range is above average due to his speed, and arm is average at best), but with Speedy Gonzalez covering center field known as Carlos Gomez, he (Denard) will be resorted to playing a corner outfield spot. However, he cannot hit at what a corner outfielder should. I don’t expect the Twins to keep him much longer, but I could see him developing into reliable 4th outfielder.

*I am on family vacation next week, leaving on Saturday, so the next report might be delayed, or canceled.

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Starting today, and continuing on Saturdays, I am going to pick to young(er) players and give a brief in-depth (oxymoron, but just hold on for a second) scouting report. It isn’t that I know every single player, but I am going to look at some minor league numbers (probably not minor league sabermetric stats, but I might throw some of their major league saber stats in there), and see what you should expect from their history. This hopefully will switch some things up so it isn’t just the same things posted every day (that and I want the weekends to be a bit different than the daily routine). So without further ado, here’s my introductory “Scouting the Unknown”

Brian Buscher- Grab yourself a Busch and relax, here is one can-of hype Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer (the Twins TV announcers: hall of fame pitcher (Bert) and his side-kick) can’t seem to talk enough about. The Twins acquired Brian in 2006 via the Rule-5 draft from the San Francisco Giants (they sure seem to like the Giants farm system *cough Liriano, Nathan, Boof *cough), and he is a 27 year old left handed hitting third-baseman.

Since Brian has been recalled this year, the twins have been 13-2, and he has been getting some timely base-hits. Key word here is base hits. He has only two doubles and a homerun, which happens to be a trend that he had in the minors too (career minor league SLG% of .404). However, since joining the AAA affiliate he has improved his slugging by over 100 point over his career totals (.514 this year). Though at age 27 he is primed and ready to go as he has had a chance to mature into his body. In 337 AAA at-bats he has 15 homers. Nothing super impressive, but it hasn’t translated through to the majors yet (3 homers in 133 at-bats). His ‘high’ slugging and OBP right now are inflated due to his high batting average. As the scouting report gets out on him his numbers will fall even more.

Brian has a .280 career minor league average with a .349 OBP in 1995 at-bats in the minors. Nothing spectacular, but serviceable .As of June 24 (the last up to date sabermetric tables out, so there are 5 games missing where he went 5/17)) he has a BABIP or .375, LD% of .293, but a contact rate of .941. With only four strike outs in 50 at-bats he is whiffing at half the rate he was in the minors. I would expect him to have his average fall because of his BABIP, but his contact rates says it could stay near the .285-.290 range. Though with a fly-ball percent of .412, and a groundball percent of .29, he could see a lot more of his contacted balls fall into leather.

With what the Twins have to offer at Third-base, aka nothing (Mike Lamb), he should get the majority of the at-bats until he slumps hardcore. I don’t think he is a legit fantasy option, unless he keeps his hot-streak going because there are better options to place in your 3B slot (like Keppinger, Kouzmanoff, Jose Bautistia (who has had a better last month than Brian). However, in the last month he was rated at 248th best player in Yahoo games. Whatever value you take for that he has been hot of late, but don’t expect similar numbers throughout the rest of the year, unless of course you are looking for a singles hitting third-baseman.

Jonathan Sanchez- Here is what Rotoworld just said about him after his start today; “He’s given up exactly seven earned runs in three different starts, but has also surrendered three or less earned runs in his other 14 starts.” That was of course after he went seven, k’ing six, and walking only one. He has been up since April, and now people are jumping on his bandwagon, and I am waiting for the axle to shatter (I am bitter as you will soon find out why). It isn’t that he has no talent, or that his track record says different. It is for the same reason why there is such a thing call a pitch count. If you believe in that young pitchers should only increase their total amount of innings pitched from year to year until they are fully developed by 15-25 innings then you should be wary of Jonathan Sanchez pitching the rest of the year.

In 2006, at age 23 he pitched in 95 innings between AA, AAA, and the MLB. In 2007, he pitched in only 75.6 innings. In the low minors he was a starting pitcher. However, as he progressed through the Giants system they switched him over to a reliever. In 2005, the year before his move to the bullpen, he pitched 125.3 innings. This season he has worked in 95 innings and might be nearing a period were he gets dead arm, or that the Giants might be thinking about letting him take longer rests between starts like Lincecum did last year. That or the Giants shut him down for the season. If you look at Lincecum’s last month of work for 2007, you will notice an extreme difference then when he first started. So bare in mind, that Sanchez could be posting some awful numbers soon (mid July at the earliest, but for surely by August).

His minor league line was impressive with 252.1 innings, 9 homers allowed, 333 strikeouts and 98 walks (for a K/BB of 3.4), and ERA of 3.42 and a WHIP of 1.19. In 2005 his k-rate dropped upon reaching the majors, which is typically expected of rookies. But now after his third season up in the majors, and his first that he has started here, he has been impressive. His control problems haven been any worse than teammates Matt Cain, and has just four more than Tim Lincecum after this game (Cain, Lincecum, and Sanchez have 307 strikeouts, and they are the only 3 team mates in the top 15 in total k’s with the Reds Volquez and Harang as the only other teams in the top 15, that’s pretty impressive).

I had him for the first one he had when he faced the Brew Crew, and at that time I was reading that he would be sent back down, but he has proved me wrong. I gave up on him right then and there and he has come back to bite my ass. As a jealous owner, I wish I would have kept him and I have been waiting all year for him to just bomb, though he hasn’t helped out in WHIP, but his ERA keeps dropping with each good start. And really you own him for the K’s, not the wins that he Giants somehow find, or the crippling walk inflated WHIP. You have been warned, pawn him off ASAP!

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