Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This idea came to me last night when I heard on the radio that the Salt Lake Bees, the Angles' Triple A ballclub, began the season 21-1, the best start ever in the minors. Aside from the fact that this scares the living shit out of me as an A's fan, it got me thinking about how we talk plenty of MLB here on LSWTF.com, but we don't really cover much except when I cover my protege Jason Donald who is currently batting .333 for the Phillies Double A farm club the Reading Phillies.
That being said I bring to you today my top twenty playing prospects in the minors right now. I went through the stats of the various minor leagues and came up with twenty two prospects who are playing amazing ball right now, and some you may not have heard of.
Trevor Cahill, SP, Stockton Ports, High A , Oakland A's
4-0 in 6 starts 2.25 ERA 48 strike outs
Trevor Cahill is off to a tremndous start which appears to be a continuation from last season when he was 7-0 in his last 9 starts of the season. He was a low A all star last year, and looks to be on his way to being a High A all star this season. If he can keep his level of strike outs per nine inning average that he had in low A (10.16) you may see him in the majors sooner rather then later.
Pablo Sandoval, C, San Jose Giants, High A, San Francisco Giants
.436 44/101 15 doubles 7 home runs 1.299 OPS
I do believe this is the one Giants prospect I have on the list, and if I'm SayHey I'm excited by this kid. He was on fire in 2005, disappeared in 2006 and had a decent season in 2007, but this year he looks to be back on track. He's already 4 home runs away from his total last season and the way the Giants are playing it may not be long before this kid sees some major league action.
Jim Negrych, 2B, Lynchburg Hillcats, High A, Pittsburgh Pirates
.414 46/111 9 doubles 22RBI .995 OPS
Negrych has progressed each season he has played in the minors, at least so far. He's on pace to crush the amount of RBIs he made in the 07 season, and he's almost already reached his double total as well. This is a bright spot for the Pirates who have seen many prospects, but they seem to falter as they rise. Negrych appears to be getting better with each challenge. I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish the year on their double A club.
Thomas Hanson, P, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High A, Atlanta Braves
3-1 7 starts 0.90 ERA 6 runs allowed 49 strike outs
Hanson and two other pitchers coming up should have much better records then they do, but apparently they have zero run support what so ever. When you're averaging less then a run a game, you shouldn't have any losses. You can bet that if Hanson keeps pitching the way he has so far this season he's going to skyrocket through the Braves farm system. He's won the Carolina League's pitcher of the week two consecutive weeks this year already. If he reaches ten games and he's still not getting run support, I'd look to move him to double A if I were the Braves.
Antonio Bastardo, P, Reading Phillies, Double A, Philadelphia Phillies
3-0 7 starts 1.24 ERA 5 runs allowed 51 strike outs
Another pitcher who has had zero run support, and has allowed fewer runs then Hanson. The Phillies though have already moved Bastardo, which is an AWESOME name, to Reading from their High A team and it didn't phase him one bit. He won the Florida League's pitcher of the week his last week before he was moved to Double A and may be on the fast track to help that Phillies rotation before the season ends if he keeps pitching this well.
Chris Valaika, SS, Sarasota Reds, High A, Cincinnati Reds
.377 49/130 9 doubles 7 home runs 1.011 OPS
This kid has been tearing up the minors ever since the Reds drafted him in 2006. I could list all his various achievements, but then would take up all the space I have to talk about this kid. When moved from Low A to High A last year his average dropped fifty points, but it looks like he finally got into the grove of things to begin this year. I get this feeling that many in the Reds organization feel that this kid could be their best infield player since Barry Larkin.
Ryan Tucker, P, Carolina Mudcats, Double A, Florida Marlins
2-1 7 starts 0.89 ERA 4 runs allowed 39 strike outs
Yet another player who cannot get run support. The man has started seven games and has only allowed 4 runs, that is ridiculous numbers right there. I'm frightened to look at who their offense is on that team, if there is any. He had an ok year last year, but he was only drafted in 2005 so things are looking up. It's got to be frustrating to allow so few runs and only have two wins to speak for it.
Daryl Thompson, P, Chattanooga Lookouts, Double A, Cincinnati Reds
2-1 6 starts 0.72 ERA 9 runs allowed 3 earned runs allowed 42 strike outs
This might sting Jim Bowden in the future. Thompson, who grew up in La Plata, Maryland, was drafted by the Expos in 2003 and was dealt to the Reds as a part of the Austin Kearns Felipe Lopez trade. Since then he has won Pitcher of the Week in each League he has played in at least once. Another pitcher on this list not getting the adequate run support needed, any judging by the only 3 earned runs allowed, not enough defensive support either.
Bud Norris, P, Corpus Christi Hooks, Double A, Houston Astros
3-0 6 starts 3.00 ERA 40 strike outs
Taken in the 2006 draft, Norris has already made the double A level and is arguably the best pitcher in the Texas League, though Jamie Garcia has an argument as well. he jumped up from Low A to High A last year and began this year in Double A so it will be curious to see if he jumps to Triple A sometime this season as well. If that happens, he very well make the rotation or bullpen this time next year for the Astros.
Jesus Guzman, 2B, Midland Rockhounds, Double A, Oakland A's
.375 51/136 7 doubles 6 home runs .988 OPS
Ah, the heir apparent it may seem to Mark Ellis. The one thing that stands out to me about Jesus is his ability to rake being just 165 pounds. He's already been the Texas League's Player of the Week two weeks this season, adding onto the Post-Season All Star nomination that he received last year. The best thing about this kid though is his high average when he has runners in scoring position, that helps a Billy Bean club out immensely.
Max Ramirez, C, Frisco Rough Riders, Double A, Texas Rangers
.390 39/100 6 doubles 2 triples 7 home runs
The best thing about Ramirez, at least for the Rangers, is that he has played third base as well. He was selected to play in the Futures Game last year, but it could be interesting as the Rangers have a few catchers in the system in front of him. He was already traded in his career before when the Indians acquired him from the Braves as part of the Bob Wickman trade. So far in the minors he's been a consistent high two hundreds to low three hundreds hitter, which is great for a catcher. I expect they Rangers will use him as trade bait in the future.
Thomas Hubbard, 1B, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, Double A, Seatlle Mariners
.371 39/105 9 doubles 5 home runs 1.079 OPS
This lefty, hailing from Richmond, Virginia, has been tearing up the Southern League for the Diamond Jaxx and was already Player of the Week this season. He had an eleven game hit streak last year, including 34 multi-hit games. We was the star of the team last year, and looks to be that way this year, which is interesting. I can only assume he hasn't moved up to Triple A cause they want him to work on his power. He's an older minor leaguer (born in 82) and needs something to happen sooner rather then later if he wants to see the show before he's too old.
Mike Carp, 1B, Binghamton Mets, Double A, New York Mets
.350 41/117 8 doubles 6 home runs .976 OPS
I would say that the Binghamton Mets are the look of your future New York Mets, but David Wright isn't exactly old. The Mets have two phe-nominal prospects at their corners, and where the third baseman (coming up next) is hitting better right now, Carp may have a faster track to the majors due to Delgado's age. Already has a Player of the Week award this season, the only knock on him has been lack of production against lefties. The good news is, so far this year he's actually hitting better against lefties.
Dan Murphy, 3B, Binghamton Mets, Double A, New York Mets
.358 43/120 22RBI 60TB
This good sized third baseman is still relatively new in the minors, only being drafted in 2006 from Jacksonville University. Along with Carp, they form an intense corner duo for Binghamton. Showed promise in High A last year and has started this season off batting very well. He has a good mixture of doubles, triples and home runs so far, though I would like to see his OPS get a bit higher. Not sure where he fits into the Mets plans, but could be tasty trade bait.
Ryan Feierabend, P, Tacoma Rainers, Triple A, Seattle Mariners
3-1 6 starts 1.70 ERA 27 strike outs
The kid saw some time in the majors last season, and where he didn't excel at starting, he was damn near shut down coming out of the bullpen. I imagine the Mariners would rather him develop into a starter for their rotation, but if another team needed a middle reliever to make a playoff run I could see them dealing for Feierabend. Having a 1.70 ERA in Triple A is impressive, since most of the players are on their way or have played in the majors.
Lance Broadway, P, Charlotte Knights, Triple A, Chicago White Sox
4-1 6 starts 1.10 ERA 23 strike outs 8 runs allowed
Baseball America listed him as the White Sox third best prospect entering the season and had the Best Curveball of their prospects. He played some for the White Sox towards the end of last season, including 8 strike outs his first start for them. Not sure why they didn't bring him up to the club full time yet, but they may like their rotation the way it is right now and want to give him a bit more time to prepare for the majors. If Jose Contreras continues to falter as the season goes on, you could see Broadway called up and given a shot to earn his spot for next season.
Mike Aviles, SS, Omaha Royals, Triple A, Kansas City Royals
.344 43/125 14 doubles 55 triples 6 home runs
Last year he was Kansas City's Minor League Player of the year to go along with being Omaha's player of the year. He can play shortstop, second and third base. He was killer last year and looks to be that way this year, so for the life of me I cannot determine why Kansas City hasn't called this kid up to take over for Tony Pena Jr. at shortstop. Putting him next to Alex Gordon would give the Royals a great portion of that infield that I don't think I've seen since they were contenders.
Matthew Brown, 3B, Salt Lake Bees, Triple A, Los Angeles Angels
.402 47/117 3 triples 7 home runs 1.179 OPS
The star of the impressive Bees finds himself in a situation that is interesting. The Angels have already called up Brandon Wood to be their third baseman. They have no need for a designated hitter, so what to do with Matthew Brown? He's getting to that age where they need to determine if he's gonna stay with the club or he's delicious trade bait. Now with the ages of some of their people in LA, they could keep him in Salt Lake this year and see if any retirements happen in the offseason to move him up.
Jamie D'Antona, 3B, Tuscon Sidewinders, Triple A, Arizona Diamondbacks
.406 43/106 13 doubles .973 OPS
The Demon Deacon is a good contact hitter who batted three hundred last year and is doing very well in Tucson so far this year. He more or less is competing with Mark Reynolds to make the Diamondbacks. Where Mark Reynolds isn't hitting that well average wise, he does have 7 home runs. D'Antona isn't a power hitter, he's the guy who bats near three hundred every year, has a good stash of doubles, maybe a few triples, but not many home runs. He's perfect for a small ball team, though he needs to learn some patience and draw more walks.
Terry Tiffee, 3B, Las Vegas 51s, Triple A, Los Angeles Dodgers
.460 58/126 19 doubles 1.186 OPS
The former Twins prospect is now in Las Vegas playing for the Dodgers affiliate and is having a career year so far. I don't care who you are, batting nearly five hundred after thirty one games is DAMN impressive. Problem is is that the Dodgers are pretty set in their infield. Now if Tiffee keeps this play up through the month of May, then you'll see some teams knocking on the Dodgers door to give this kid a chance in the majors. He's another of one of the older prospects who appears to have finally put the pieces together. He played in the majors on and off for the Twins from 04-06, but didn't play that well. This part is going to hurt Dews, he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles last year and then signed with the Dodgers in the fall. No doubt if he had stayed with the Orioles and was playing like this Angelos would have him on the field as I type this.