Al's Ramblings

Friday, January 02, 2009

(1/02/2009 07:20:00 PM) - Al


1. Alcides Escobar--He never hit before this year, but has been considered the SS of the future for the past 2-3 seasons...that should tell you what you need to know about his glove, which is considered superb. His .363/.434 AA numbers at the age of 21 compares to JJ Hardy's production there at 20 (.367/.428), so while he may never develop the HR power, he would seem to assuredly be a starting SS capable of .350/.425 numbers. Simply put, he'll be the SS in MIL by Opening Day, 2010, at the latest, barring injury of course.

2. Mat Gamel--The fact Mat ranks behind Alcides is all the proof you need of how much the Crew loves Escobar. Gamel is a hitter of great skill, summed up by when Don Money was asked if a comparison to Hall of Famer Wade Boggs was accurate...Money quickly stated Gamel has more power than Boggs. A lefty with a sweet swing, his .395/.537 AA line at 22 is mind blowing, even moreso when you look at what Ryan Braun did at the same level at the same age (.367/.589). I see more of a Overbay type, but he'll also be in MIL soon. His defense at 3B is below average, though improving, but if necessary, he'll hit enough to play LF/RF or 1B.

3. Angel Salome--All you need to hear about this guy is one thing...he outhit Gamel last year. .415/.559 in AA at 22 is astounding, and this seems to get overlooked. He's not as athletic as Mat, has an odd frame (5-7, 200), and is raw behind the plate. That said, he can hit, and is said to have a rocket for an arm, while still working on his footwork and other skills. I can't see him not being up by '11 at the latest, and will probably split time with a veteran in '10.

4. Brett Lawrie--Has not played yet due to an Olympic commitment, but while his position is unsure, he was probably the best hitter in the draft...stop me if you've heard that before, as the same was said about Braun and Matt Laporta. I doubt if he'll catch in the majors, but his bat may well be ready far ahead of his glove regardless. May well be in Appleton next year.

5. Jeremy Jeffress--He should probably be either #3 or #8, so I'll split the difference. Off field issues, and the fact 20 year-olds who throw 100 mph are doomed to have arm trouble aside, the kid struck out over 11 per 9 innings, and only gave up 7 home runs in 94 frames last year...add in the prior mentioned velocity, and he's the best pitching prospect this team has seen since Ben Sheets.

6. Cutter Dykstra--It's difficult not to see a bright future for a kid fresh out of high school that walked 26 times in 170 AB's versus mostly college draftees. He's 5-11 and has room to fill out, and while he is a CF for now, has been mentioned as a 2B possibility. .367/.438, mostly in high rookie ball, one can easily imagine him developing more power, especially with his plate discipline. For those of you nearby, should spend 2009 in Appleton.

7. Lorenzo Cain--Finally seems to be breaking out at 22, putting up .360/.460 splitting time between high A and AA. For comparison sakes, Tony Gwynn Jr. was 22 and at AA when he went .370/.338...since Tony Jr. looks to be a reserve, it's easy to see Cain as an everyday contributor at some point. Also, he is now removed from the shadow of Mike Brantley, who was lost in the Sabathia trade, along with Matt Laporta.

8. Caleb Gindl--Only 5-9, he'll have to prove himself more than others along the way, and will probably be thought of as a 4th OF until he shows otherwise. Tough not to be impressed by a .388/.474 low A line at 19, regardless of his height.

9. Brent Brewer--2nd round pick and outstanding athlete, Brent is playing SS but is unlikely to stay there. Just a .307/.330 line in a year split between low and high A at 20, but his tools are hard to ignore; great speed, raw power, and able to field and throw enough to end up anywhere. I expect a breakout in '09, and the Crew will probably keep pushing him.

10. Jake Odorizzi--High draft pick last year, nice debut in limited work in Arizona. Near perfect frame for a young pitcher, he is years away, but a fine work in progress.

FYI, if they were still with the team, I'd have Brantley (.395/.398 at AA at 21) 4th and Laporta (.386/.539 at AA at 23) 6th. Mike got on just under 40% of the time despite being very young for his level. Matt did not do anything wrong, but others simply moved past him in '09...also, he is probably limited to 1B or LF.

You could probably make a case for 5-7 others, as I see quite a drop off after the top eight. If not for the CC trade, I'd say #10 would be as good as any team. Of course, there's nothing wrong with using your kids to bring in veteran talent to put the team in the playoffs.

1/02/2009 07:20:00 PM

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