Tuesday, February 27, 2007

AL South Draft Review

Stolen from the Cooperstown blog, here is the draft review, part one of eight. Numbers provided include scouting budgets, round and selection of each pick, age, and my projection of a players' best ML season (AVG/OBP/SLG for hitters, IP/ERA/WHIP for pitchers).

AL South

Kansas City ($3m C, $4m HS)

1/26 Larry Walker (19, RP) -- Not a great first round pick, but not a terrible one either. His 81/50 combo makes him an RP who can go quite often, or a guy who could work in a 6MT. He does appear to struggle with lefties, but he has very good control. With just two effective pitches, it remains to be seen if he will top out as a very good ML setup man, or something less.

2/69 Rick Reid (18, 1B) -- Reid should become a very good major leaguer in a few years. He may not quite make it to all-star status, but he will probably get a solid ten-year career in with his solid numbers and excellent eye.

3/101 Max Plata (21, 2B) -- Plata went back to college for his senior year.

The Royals grabbed a couple other 1B/DH types in Bob Bailey, Gerald Hughes, and Don Greenwood, all of whom (save maybe Greenwood) could become serviceable MLers.

Tampa Bay ($10m C, $0m HS)

1/27 Lance Jennings (20, RP) -- Jennings looks to have all the makings of a very nice ML setup man. Excellent control, tough against righties and solid against lefties, a superb heater and an outstanding hook. The only possible question mark is his propensity to give up fly balls. Barring any unforeseen problems, Jennings should be a quality guy in the pen from about Season 6 through Season 17.
(75 /2.75/1.15)

2/70 Juan Sanchez (21, 2B) -- Sanchez is a speedy 2B with a suspect glove. He doesn't have the glove to play CF either, or the arm to play RF or 3B, so he may turn into an LF/1B type. If that is the case, his numbers don't look nearly as good. However, if he can stay at 2B, maybe for a team that doesn't give up a ton of ground balls to the right side, he could turn into a productive big leaguer.

3/102 Diego Johnson (19, 2B) -- Johnson is unsigned at this time.

The Rays made a decision to forego HS players this year, and end up with a crop of 19-22 year olds that could help them sooner rather than later. They went with several more 2Bs in later rounds, but all seem to have one flaw or another. We'll all be shocked if Tampa's ownership is still in place after say, S8, as they continue to make moves to win now, future be damned.

Texas ($4m C, $4m HS)

1/25 Denny Daniels (21, C/DH) -- Daniels doesn't look to have what it takes to be a major league catcher. Never mind that, as he will have no trouble finding a way into a big league lineup. A prototypical DH, Daniels already has great power and projects to be one of the most prodigious sluggers of all time. Not just a big swinger, Daniels has a decent eye and hits for contact very well. Durable and healthy, and already nearly ready to be in the bigs after three years in the Big Ten, this Michigan Wolverine could put up 500 HRs or more by the time he hangs them up.

2/68 Robert Mann (19, SP) -- Mann's selection was a head-scratcher among GMs. While he seems made to pitch in the bigs, he's got just one problem--he can't get guys out. He has decent stuff but hitters seem to eat him up, especially lefties. He is, however, off to a good start, allowing just one run in 9.2 innings in two starts. Rangers' scouts must've seen something they liked during his one season at Western Wisconsin Technical College.
(won't make it to ML)

3/100 Harry Whitaker (20, RP) -- Whitaker brings excellent control and speed to the table, along with a nice fastball. He gets guys out, but could have trouble in hitters' parks, as he gives up more than his share of fly balls. He will be a solid big leaguer for years, but it remains to be seen if he will be a closer or a setup guy.

4th-rounder Karim Amaro could be a serviceable ML 1B one day, but he won't hit for a ton of power, something most like in their 1B/DH types. Daniels is clearly the key to Texas' S3 draft class.

Memphis ($11m C, $10m HS)

1/14 Moose Bryant (21, 2B) -- Bryant is unsigned.

1/35 Junior Saenz (18, SS) -- There is a lot to like about Saenz. He is projected to be a solid ML SS defensively, while putting up solid numbers with the bat. He hits for contact well and has some speed. He won't be an all-star, but he will be a solid big leaguer for several years.

2/57 Brendan Nixon (18, CF) -- Nixon is also unsigned.

3/89 Pascual Carrasco (18, RF) -- Carrasco has some nice facets to his game, but others that make him flawed, possibly fatally. He has nice range and an excellent arm defensively, with a shaky glove, so he'll either be an excellent 1B or a bad 3B/RF. He has a great eye and could hit for average, but lefties own him. It's hard to imagine Carrasco in an everyday major league role except under the most perfect circumstances.

With two of their top three picks unsigned, the grade is incomplete on the Blues draft class.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Week 2 Power Rankings

Here we are 70+ games into Season 3 of the GAP, and guess who's number 1? Yeah, it's still the A's, but not by a whole lot. There are more than a couple teams on their heels, and by Week 3, they could very well be dethroned...


1. Oakland Athletics (48-24) LW 1

To say the A's are less than impressive lately is a bit of an overstatement, but a 13-2 loss to the last place Padres and an 11-5 loss to the sub .500 Dodgers in the last week have caused quite a stir in Oakland as of late. Butch Brede (took the loss to the Padres) has been heard murmuring of early retirement, and Oscar Nunnally still has over a month before he's ready to even take BP. As long as they hold the best record in the league, they'll stick at the #1 spot, but things just don't seem as bright as they used to in Sunny California for the Athletics.

2. San Francisco Giants (46-26) LW 2

Playing the Mounties sure lifts the spirits of a team coming of a tough interleague battle with the AL West. The Giants felt pretty good taking 5 of 9 against the A's, Mariners and Angels, but are sure happy to be back in the NL, where their staff can finally take a breather. Clarence Cooke might be the happiest to be back in the NL as he shut down Vancouver with 8 strong shutout innings this afternoon. Cooke is again on pace to hit 20 wins with a sub 3.50 ERA, and even possibly an All-Star start.

3. Charlotte Dukes (45-27) LW 8
The resurgent Dukes have won 19 of 25, and suddenly look like serious title contenders. The pitching staff has been brilliant of late, as Clint Stephenson threw 7 shutout innings against the Rays while Frank Stockton (who's struggles have been well documented in Charlotte) rebounded in a 6 inning, 3 ER win versus the powerful Royals. No longer will the Dukes fly under the radar, as this team is finally on the map.

4. Boston Red Sox (44-28) LW NR

Like the Dukes, the Sox have been on fire as of late, winning 18 of 22, and the only reason they aren't ranked higher than Charlotte is due to a relatively weak schedule during the streak (although they did recently sweep the Cubs). Their rise to greatness came in a recent 13-3 whipping of Chicago, pinning 9 runs on young stud Rich Allen. The Red Sox enjoy an extremely balanced attack, as Raul Santana, Stuffy Everett and Jesse House are all having career years.

5. Minnesota Twins (45-27) LW 9

Another team on a big hot streak as of late, the Twins have won 18 of 24, including sweeps of the Phillies, Senators and Blues, plus taking 2 of 3 with the Royals, Angels and Mets. Scooter Spehr is off to a hot start so far, going 9-1 with an ERA just under 4.00, topping it off with a 7 inning, 1 ER win early this morning versus Philadelphia. Chuck Hoover and Teddy Rivera lead a balanced attack for the Twins, and are looking to lead someone other than the Indians to an AL East title for the first time in the short history of the GAP

6. Chicago Cubs (43-29) LW 3
The injuries keep piling up in Chicago, but somehow the Cubs are keeping it together. This time it was starting SS Jerry Boudreau and Setup man Louis Riley. The good news is, if this team can survive for another couple weeks, they should both come back around the same time and provide a spark for the depleted Cubbies. In positive news, early MVP polls point to Larry Charlton, who continues to defy skeptics and seems to be getting better with age. The 32 year old gap hitter has been compared favorably to a combination of Todd Helton and a young Mike Piazza, and is proving why with a .372 Avg and a 1.036 OPS so far in Season 3.

7. Houston Astros (44-28) LW 7
The NL South should be extremely enjoyable to watch down the stretch, as both the Astros and Dukes look poised to be in it till the end. Charlotte looks to hold the better lineup, but only the Giants have a better pitching staff than Houston. Kerry Sinclair is only 4-0 in 13 starts, but his 1.34 ERA and .199 OAV have generated whispers of "Rocket" in Minute Maid Park. Luis Lira has been Mr. Reliable thus far, averaging over 7 innings per start, and holding opponents to a .257 average. If the Astros can keep up their strong pitching, they should keep pace with Charlotte all season.

8. New York Mets (43-29) LW 4

This team is obviously hit or miss lately, and my best guess is that they sorely miss Bosco Jefferson. At times they look amazing, for example, in a 9-0 shutout against the Yankees early this morning. But 3 shutout losses versus the Indians and Yankees in the last week point to some glaring issues with the reigning NL East Champs. The offense just isn't quite there, and unless they plan to win alot of 2-0 games down the stretch, this team could be in some serious trouble. They have the talent in Turner Davis, Eugene Betemit and Ted Hogan, but they are going to need to turn it up, and soon.

9. Atlanta Braves (41-31) LW 10
The Braves continue to slowly warm up and are starting to look closer and closer to midseason form. The bullpen has been dynamite thus far, as Pedro Diaz, Hamlet Perkins and Donald Xaio all hold ERA's under 2.00 and Zephyr Bennett is right behind them with an ERA of 2.55. It helps when you have guys like Malachi Carson and Ricardo Castro (a combined 16-7 in 31 starts) pitching 7 strong innings every 5th day too. The Braves are only 2 games behind the NL East leading Mets, and could overtake them any day. This team looks built for the postseason, and is definitely one of the scariest October nightmares.

10. Seattle Mariners (40-32) LW 6

They nearly slipped off the radar this week, and that's just what this team is showing so far in Season 3. They look to be barely holding on, and could totally fall apart at any second. Wes White has looked eerily human thus far, with a pedestrian 3.72 ERA, and it may be partly due to the team trading away staff ace, and best friend of White's Brandon Freeman to the Tigers. The team is going to desperately need Harry Wilfredo and Alfonso Guardado to step it up if the Mariners want to return to the postseason.

Dropped from the rankings: KC Royals (LW 5)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Career Pitching Totals

I wanted to take a look at career pitching stats of some of the top pitchers in our league. I have ranked them by career ERA with a min of 400 career IP(if I have missed any, let me know and I can update it). The stats were taken this afternoon and do not reflect the PM2 cycle.

Pitcher (ERA, Record, Win %, WHIP, IP)
1. Greg Stewart - CLE (2.62, 55-13, .809, 1.04, 593)
2. Bosco Jefferson - BOS (3.02, 35-16, .687, 1.20, 420)
3. Jake Payton - PIT (3.08, 38-27, .585, 1.16, 642)
4. Fergie Joseph - SF (3.17, 30-15, .667, 1.26, 414)
5. Hector Guerrero - CLE (3.22, 37-22, .627, 1.20, 552)
6. Kirk Strittmatter - FLA (3.30, 29-22, .567, 1.22, 463)
7. Bob Wall - CHA (3.32, 30-20, .667, 1.28, 490)
8. Nick Alexander - TB (3.35, 43-23, .652, 1.19, 618)
9. Malachi Carlson - ATL (3.36, 33-17, .660, 1.19, 444)
10. Brandon Freeman - DET (3.43, 35-10, .875, 1.22, 466)
11T. Cliff Simms - NYM (3.44, 42-19, .689, 1.18, 594)
11T. Willie Santana - TB (3.44, 39-16, .709, 1.29, 539)
13. Tony Hudler - KC (3.46, 41-20, .671, 1.26, 593)
14. David Ayala - NYM (3.54, 32-23, .582, 1.14, 440)
15. Eugene Parkinson - OAK (3.55, 41-12, .782, 1.23, 445)
Honorable Mention - Castro ATL (3.57), Hyun CHC (3.57), Buchanan DET (3.60), Cooke SF (3.79)

I'm sure that I missed some. I didn't really write this to highlight Stewart, because the only credit for his success that I can claim is that I signed him to an extension during arbitration and I think everybody would have done that. What I was hoping to accomplish is to highlight pitchers that don't otherwise get much credit. They are the guys that are listed 4-7 and Santana.

Joseph - Here is a guy that had a tremendous first season (15-6, 3.04, 1.24) but did not make the all-star team. During season 2 he had injury problems that limited him to 136 IP. This season he is posting strong numbers again.

Guerrero - Working in the shadow's of Stewart, he has put up great numbers. He was not great during season 1, but still posted commendable numbers. He followed that up with a Cy Young worthy season after that (18-7, 2.62, 1.18), but was overshadowed by Stewart. And this season he has only pitched better. Was named to the All-star team in season 2.

Strittmatter - He seems to be lacking run support. Despite his 2.78 ERA and 1.11 WHIP last year, he was only able to manage 14 wins during his 34 starts. During the other two years, he has posted very good, but not phenomenal numbers.

Wall - Made the all-star team during season one, but only finished the year with an 11-8 record despite a 3.20 ERA. Went a disappointing 11-11 during season 2 with a 3.60 ERA, but has started off strong during season 3 with an 8-1 record.

Santana - Despite a nearly identical ERA and a better winning percentage he has lived in the shadow of Nick Alexander. Though a little tough to call him underappreciated with two all-star appearances, he was a strong contributor to the Rays playoff appearances. This year he has struggled, but is sure to turn it around says GM Boggs.

Friday, February 23, 2007

100 Career Home Runs

A little strange: KC Royals Jose Mota and Artie Rizzo each hit their 100th homerun today, in the same inning of the same game. Here is the GAP 100 HR Club, and those closing in:

145 - Wally Hunter (Cha) 29/LF (510)
130 - LaTroy Franco (Cle) 31/LF (432)
127 - C.C. Hutton (Oak) 28/1B (494)
126 - Dario Selby (Cle) 31/3B (406)
120 - Carlos Campos (Mil) 28/C (413)
118 - Jimmie Iglesias (Mil) 30/1B (496)
116 - Charlie Wirth (Ana) 24/C (566)
115 - Max Jiminez (Tex) 21/C (686)
110 - Chris Baker (Pit) 33/2B (280)
110 - Ivan Bechler (SF) 32/1B (372)
108 - Edwin Casey (CWS) 28/1B (469)
107 - Allan Hamilton (Oak) 31/2B (364)
103 - Trevor Valdez (Tor) 30/LF (392)
102 - Douglas Diaz (Cin) 28/CF (422)
100 - Jose Mota (KC) 24/DH (597)
100 - Artie Rizzo (KC) 33/1B (288)
99 - Ricky McIntyre (NYY) 29/3B (398)
99 - Jose Bocachica (Tor) 26/DH (418)
98 - Harry Fox (Hou) 28/3B (402)
98 - Oscar Nunnally (Oak) 29/C (319)
96 - Joe Warden (Det) 28/LF (452)
96 - Victor Parra (ChC) 26/3B (443)
94 - Clyde Valentin (Oak) 31/RF (296)
94 - Pedro Segui (Phi) 33/2B (282)
92 - Tori Valentin (Was) 27/3B (355)
90 - Yannick Reboulet (Tex) 28/LF (372)
90 - Victor Nieves (Tor) 29/3B (358)

Current team, age, position, and the last number in parentheses is a projected total using Bill James' Favorite Toy. It factors in age and last three seasons to project a career total. Since we only have 2.4 years in, I had to project an S3 total using stats-to-date, then plug in the numbers.
Let me know if I missed anybody. Guys who have split their 100+ among multiple teams probably got missed by me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

AL South Reigns Supreme

Led by the Kansas City Royals' 222 wins, the AL South holds division bragging rights in the GAP. Despite all the chirping going on from North and East owners, well, they say the numbers don't lie:

Rk Lg Div.. WPct .W. .L.
1. AL South .532 815-717
2. AL West. .523 801-731
3. NL South .522 799-733
4. NL North .505 773-759
5. NL West. .497 762-770
6. AL North .490 750-782
7. NL East. .482 738-794
8. AL East. .450 690-842

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Prospect Report Vol. V -- SHORTSTOP

AAA – Ugueth Herrera (21) Houston Astros

Barely edging out Yankees top prospect Luther Callaway, Herrera projects to be one of the best young Shortstops in recent memory. Not only is he a solid overall defender, but he can flat out smash the ball. Herrera is on the cusp of hitting the majors, although his debut could very well find him somewhere other than SS until he hits his potential. Look for Ugueth in Houston come September callups.

AA – Domingo Sosa (20) Houston Astros

This spot once belonged to Cardinal Damion Scarsone, but his recent promotion and move to 2B gave Sosa the coveted spot of top AA Shortstop. Sosa hasn’t quite hit the ball as expected, but then again, he’s only appeared in 39 games (and 53 RBI in 39 games ain’t too shabby). His .311 average is sure to rise as he adjusts to the American game, and he is absolutely going to be a stalwart in the Astros organization for years to come (even if it ends up at 3B).

HiA – Al Martinez (20) Pittsburgh Pirates

A power hitting dynamo, many overlook the defensive prowess Martinez brings to the table. Sure, he’s hit 90 HR and knocked in 327 in only 243 career games, but at the raw age of 20, he is also already one of the better fielding SS’s in the minors. Look for Martinez to rocket up the ranks and hit the big time in a couple years. (He has recently been promoted to AA)

LowA – Omar Carrasco (19) St. Louis Cardinals

Any international signed for under $10 million is considered a steal nowadays, but when Carrasco was signed, he seemed to be receiving a fortune. Although he was recently promoted to High A, Carrasco spent the first part of the year at Low A, and simply raked the ball. Between the two, he has hit .379 with an OPS of 1.148 in 43 Season 3 games. With the inherit ability to smash to ball to all fields, Carrasco is going to be a superstar when he hits the majors in 2 to 3 seasons.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Week 1 Power Rankings

Okay, so it's 50 games into the season, so it's not really week 1. But the early season rankings seem to be inflated by easy early season schedules and blatant luck, so I waited until the Cubs were really on fire to get the first rankings out there (I kid...of course...). Numbers 1 and 2 are right where they left off, but #3 is where things start to get interesting...


1. Oakland Athletics (36-14)
Who would have ever dreamed of the A’s atop the rankings? Unlike last season, where Oakland had to rise from the depths (a whole couple games under .500), they have dominated from the start in Season 3. What is really amazing here is how they have continued to reign despite the devastating injury to star DH Oscar Nunnally. The A’s are proving they’re loaded and ready for anything that might and will happen.

2. San Francisco Giants (33-17) The reigning World Series Champs started right where they left off, and it all begins with Ivan Bechler. At 32, Bechler is like a fine wine, continuing to improve as he ages, hitting .349 with 20 HR and 60 RBI in only 50 early season games. As much as Arizona and Los Angeles have improved, San Francisco is proving they are the class of the West, and are aiming at a return trip to the Series.

3. Chicago Cubs (31-19)
The surprise of the league so far, this “rebuilding” project has been anything but. The “lovable losers” did just that, they lost 3 starting pitchers to trades and free agency over the offseason, then lost career wins leader Edgardo Pena to a season ending injury this week. Add all this to the loss of previous closer Cooper Hoffman in a trade and current closer Lee Winn to shoulder surgery, this team was not supposed to win 15 of 19 and 31 of 50 games to start the season. But the resurgence of Larry Charlton and Brady Hall along with the superb pitching of Louie Foster and Rich Allen have really brought the Cubs together to prove a formidable force in the NL North.

4. New York Mets (30-20) They would be up a ranking if not for a recent sweep at the hands of the Cubs, but don’t let that fool you. The Mets consider a 30-20 record to be a “slow start” and to have only the league’s 4th best ERA seems to be a point of concern. The loss of reigning Cy-Young winner Bosco Jefferson in the offseason hurt the rotation, but the Metropolitans should be fine, especially with the continued dominance from Ralph Ryan, David Ayala and Cliff Simms. This is still the best pitching team in baseball, and I’m sure they’re eager to prove it.

5. Kansas City Royals (31-19)
One of the other big surprises so far, the Royals have run out to an impressive 4 game lead in the AL’s most competitive division. They have always been a high-scoring experiment, but it seems this is the year they have really put it all together. The key to their success lies in all-everything Theodore Haney, who is still on 21, but leads the majors in Runs Scored and is up there in HRs and RBI. If he can bring up his average, we could have another one for the record book, this time as the youngest player to take MVP honors in the short history of the GAP.

6. Seattle Mariners (30-20) The Mariner’s season seems the same as always, as they continue to play very impressive baseball, but also continue to reside in the AL West, where 100 wins insures nothing more than a Wild Card berth. Wes White continues his dominance over everyone, saving 10 of 10 with a non-existent ERA of 0.00. All they need is to start hitting, and this team could climb up the rankings and into…second.

7. Houston Astros (30-20)
If the first 50 games is any forecast, it’s going to be a dogfight in the NL South in Season 3. The Astros and Dukes (and to a lesser extent the Marlins and Cardinals) all agree that this is anyone’s game. The Astros might have the advantage due to the best team ERA in the GAP. Leading the charge is journeyman Kerry Sinclair, who holds a microscopic ERA of 0.57 in 9 starts, and Closer Chuck Rigdon, who is 5 for 5 in save chances with an ERA of only 1.31.

8. Charlotte Dukes (30-20)
Charlotte seems to finally be putting it all together this year, as they challenge the Astros and the rest of the NL South for superiority in Season 3. Second year man Wallace Lowe has simply dominated thus far, with a 6-2 record and a 2.14 ERA in 10 starts. There is reason to watch this year in Charlotte, as the lineup hasn’t even come close to reaching it’s potential, hitting only .267 so far. If the Dukes’ bats warm up a bit, this could be a sleeper team in the playoff race.

9. Minnesota Twins (29-21) Another surprising team in the rankings, the Twins have taken control of the once Tribe-dominated AL East. This is a solid team from top to bottom, ranking near the middle in hitting and near the top in team ERA. They are led by 25 year old Charles Kim (5-3 2.52 ERA) and 27 year old Vincenzo Cunningham (13-15 saves 2.16 ERA), and could end the 2 year reign the Indians have held in the division.

10. Atlanta Braves (28-22)
They may be #10 right now, but it is a common assumption that the Braves will be more than contending come the playoff race. It’s only a third of the way through the Season, and a 28-22 record is no reason for Braves fans to panic. The key would be getting Rookie Joaquin Cairo started. His 2-4 record and 7.29 ERA will have to come back to Earth sometime, and that will probably be the day the Braves really get started.

Prospect Report Vol. IV -- THIRD BASE

AAA – Denny Brinkley (20) San Francisco Giants

Probably the best international bargain in the Great American Pastime. With a signing bonus of only $6.3 million in Season 1 (albeit from the White Sox), Brinkley is the definition of “money well spent”, as he is looking to be a superstar, and could be that in a couple years, especially with a career average of .323 and an OPS of 1.008, almost all coming at the highly competitive AAA level.

AA – Kevin Watson (23) Chicago Cubs

Watson barely edged out A’s 3B Damian Takada for the AA spot, mostly due to the career season he’s having so far this year. Thus far, Watson is hitting a combined .351 between HiA and AA, and has scored 58 runs in 51 games. He is projected to take over the hot corner in Chicago in a year or two, and could provide the spark opposite Victor Parra that Cubs Management has been dreaming of.

HiA – Pedro Guerrero (18) Tampa Bay Rays

He could play virtually any position with his skill set, but for now, 3B is where the Rays need him. Guerrero is definitely a stud in the making, as he projects to be one of the best players in the game (even if that is 4 years down the road). In his first season, the 18 yr old dynamo has hit a modest .312 with 5 HR and 30 RBI in 32 games. His calling card, however, will always be the record $23.2 million bonus he received to sign with the Tampa Bay club. Hopefully his stats will soon speak for themselves.

LowA – Harry Cruz (19) Cleveland Indians

While the big club is struggling, the minor league system for Cleveland is thriving, especially with prospects like Harry Cruz. A 4th round pick in the Season 2 draft, this Jersey boy has enjoyed great success in about one full season’s worth of action. He’s hit .352 with 26 HR and 149 RBI in 126 games between Rookie and Low A ball. Although he is obviously still raw, watch for Cruz to explode on the scene within 3 to 4 years.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Prospect Report Vol. III -- SECOND BASE

Second Base might be the most crowded position in the GAP, with a collection of prospects that would make Billy Beane drool. On Base Percentages are well over .400 and the collective OPS is known to sky past 1.000. Watch out in a couple years, as these guys fight for All-Star and Silver Slugger positioning, and look to power some very promising organizations.

AAA – Norm May (23) Arizona Diamondbacks

Highly regarded as one of the better prospects in all of the Great American Pastime going into Season 1, May has not disappointed. Working his way up the ladder in Arizona, May has a career OPS of 1.065 and has 332 RBI in only 282 career games. His most impressive stat, though? 187 walks and a career OBP of .419, making him one of the most versatile players in the GAP, as he could sit nearly anywhere in the D-backs lineup when he finally gets the call.

AA – Jim Jacome (21) Chicago White Sox

The “Bad Guys” first round pick in Season 2 has paid instant dividends, smacking the ball wherever he plays. Chicago is having a hard time deciding on a level for him, simply because wherever he lands, he just seems a little too talented to be there. This shouldn’t last too long as Jacome could very well see the big leagues by Season 4, especially if he keeps up his .338 minor league average.

HiA – John Mahoney (20) Charlotte Dukes

The up and coming Dukes are probably the major’s biggest surprise this year, and their farm system isn’t too shabby either, especially with prospects like John Mahoney. This future all-star is one of the better line drive hitters in the minors, holding an impressive career average of .368 with 199 runs scored in 206 career games played. He’s still pretty raw, but given a couple years, Mahoney could become a solid leadoff man for a stacked Charlotte squad.

LowA – Pat Taylor (20) Cleveland Indians

They may be in the cellar of the AL East, but the people of Cleveland have a lot to look forward to with a stacked system and a devoted GM. The most exciting prospect has to be Pat Taylor, who is lined up to be one of the best utility men once he hits the majors. Taylor has power to all corners of the field, and a batting eye unmatched by anyone in the league. This former Season 2 first round pick has torn up Rookie and Low A ball in an equivalent of one full minor league season, hitting .331/.441/.578/1.019 and scoring 129 runs in 117 games.

Tomorrow: 3B!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Prospect Report Vol. II -- FIRST BASE

Today is the first basemen of the future, and the Padres seem to take the cake with half of the entries. Some of these guys are familiar names, as they've been seen in international bidding, but others may be new to some. Check for the second base update tomorrow.

AAA – Al Bonilla (22) San Diego Padres

$12.3 million seemed outrageous for the first true international GAP prospect, but spending has increased over the first couple seasons, and it looks like right about where he would have landed for today. Bonilla was immediately thrown into the fire at AAA, and has flourished since day one. Al has been a terror at the plate, holding a career OPS of 1.127 and smacking 88 homers in only 221 career games. Season 3 looks to really be his breakout year, as he has already compiled a .385 avg with 18 HR and 48 RBI thus far.

AA – Joey Norman (22) Chicago Cubs

Norman, a Season 1 first rounder out of Central City, IA, was one of Vancouver’s prized prospects for the first couple seasons, but ended up in Chicago during the Season 2 playoffs in a blockbuster deal. Norman has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the minors, and should be hitting the majors by next season. He holds a career OPS of 1.065 and is hitting .348 so far between High A and AA in Season 3.

HiA – Don Atkins (20) San Diego Padres

A steal as a 6th round pick in the Season 2 draft, Atkins has made the most of his time in the Padres system, blasting 37 HR and 145 RBI in only 109 career games. Atkins is still 2 or 3 years off from seeing the big club, but he should be an impressive cleanup hitter when his time comes.

LowA – Damaso Morales (20) St. Louis Cardinals

Admittedly, Cubs management didn’t quite know what they were giving up when they traded Morales during the 2nd GAP playoffs. An early international prospect who was paid only a $2.1 million bonus, Morales has been nothing short of spectacular when given the opportunity. Through the same amount of games as Atkins, Morales holds a career average of .365 with 38 HR and 146 RBI. Even more impressive is his career OBP of .459 and OPS of 1.211. Oh yeah, he’s only 20 years old...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Prospect Report Vol. I -- CATCHER

Everyday for the next couple weeks I'm going to release another positional prospect report. It will detail one player per position/per level for positional players and 5 SPs and 4 RPs per level. Here are who I consider the best Catcher prospects at each minor league level:

AAA - Torey Camacho (24) Arizona Diamondbacks

One more year should be all it takes before “Macho” Camacho finally hits the big show. He has decent power for a gap hitter, but his real strength lies in his pitch calling. D-Back’s management has never seen a youngster call a game quite like Camacho, and that could be the edge Arizona needs in a crowded NL West.

AA - Max Baez (20) Cleveland Indians

You won’t find a better pure Catcher in the entire GAP than Baez. Comparisons to Joe Mauer might not even do him justice, as Baez has earned his nickname of “The Natural” in just a few short years. He’s only 20 years old, but could see the majors as soon as next year.

HiA – Bobby Ray Dixon (21) Oakland Athletics

For a signal caller, Dixon is merely average, but as a power hitter, he is well above that. Bobby Ray has a knack for crushing RHP, and it all stems from his presence in the batter’s box. A’s scout Ralph O’Connor put it best, “He may not be too physically imposing, but Bobby Ray doesn’t back down to anyone.” His most famous moment came in Season 2, when he was plunked in the head in a game against Seattle and went on to hit 2 HR’s in his next two AB’s.

LowA – Juan Juarez (19) Toronto Blue Jays

Although he’s only played one game, Juarez could very well be the best Catcher/DH prospect in the entire GAP (yes, even challenging “Mighty” Max Baez). At only 19, this Venezuelen natural is ready to take on the GAP with excellent power to all fields and a batting eye rivaling Barry Bonds. Don’t look for this kid to be at Low A for too long.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The 85 Club

Few players attain the elusive overall rating of 85 or higher. As GAP’s season 3 has gotten underway, the Reds’ SS Andres Mieses and the Cardinals’ SS Barry Clayton are now at 84, and with a bit of diligent effort are poised to join this prestigious club. The current members of the Club are:

96 Cliff Simms, SP, New York Mets
90 Brian Snyder, SS, San Francisco Giants
90 Chuck Hoover, 2B, Minnesota Twins
89 Tom Buchanan, SP, Detroit Tigers
88 Douglas Diaz, CF, Cincinnati Reds
88 Joe Warden, LF, Detroit Tigers
88 Todd Linebrink, SS, Oakland Athletics
88 Danny Taylor, SP, New York Yankees
88 Harry Wilfredo, SP, Seattle Mariners
88 Greg Stewart, SP, Cleveland Indians
87 Clyde Valentin, RF, Oakland Athletics
86 LaTroy Franco, LF, Cleveland Indians
86 Mark Moore, 3B, Atlanta Braves
86 Clarence Cooke, SP, San Francisco Giants
86 Wilton Chang, SP, Chicago White Sox
85 Joe Linden, 2B, Atlanta Braves
85 Nick Alexander, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
85 Nipsey Morris, C, New York Mets
85 Brandon Freeman, SP, Detroit Tigers

Oddly enough, 10 of these 19 players have not made the All-Star team in GAP’s first 2 seasons, and only 3 members of this fraternity (the Tigers' Freeman and the Indians’ Stewart and Franco) appeared in both All-Star games. Seven others (Simms, Alexander, Cooke, Linebrink, Moore, Valentin and Morris) had one All-Star appearance in the first 2 seasons.

These players certainly don’t make their mark on the defensive end of the game, as the only Gold Gloves in this group went to SS Moore and C Morris in season 2.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Profile: Cleveland Indians

It's fun writing about my own team, but probably pretty boring to read. Instead, I'm going to go through and profile each of the AL teams. (If hatt wants to do something similar in the NL, that'd be cool.) Today, I'll kick things off with the Cleveland Indians:

Steady As She Goes
The philosophy for whboone and the Indians, from Day 1 of the GAP on, has been consistency. With payroll budgets of $83m, $80m, and $83m, the Indians refuse to sacrifice the future to win now. They've been able to make the moderate payrolls work, with two AL East titles in two years. All the while, they've been commiting millions to scouting, training, and medical, ensuring that the pipeline that is the minor leagues will continue to fill future openings.

Over The Hump
84-78 got it done in a weak division in S1, so the first-round playoff exit was no surprise. But in S2, the Wahoos put up an impressive 101-61 mark, winning the division by 31 games. They earned a bye, but the en fuego Texas Rangers bumped them off en route to a World Series appearance.

Cleveland has started out slowly this year, at 7-7. However, the division appears to remain weak, and they are just one game out after two weeks. Could this be the year Cleveland gets over the hump and wins a playoff series, or more? Let's take a look....

Any discussion of the Indians' personnel has to begin with one LaTroy Franco. The 31-year-old lefty from Texas has two All-Star appearances, two Silver Slugger awards, and an S1 MVP. In his MVP season, he put up a .312/.400/.740 with 62 HR, (121 XBH), 179 RBI, and 35 SB in just 40 attempts. He slipped a tad in S2, down to a 980 OPS with 50 HR and just 94 XBH, and 22 steals in 33 attempts. Is this the beginning of the end for the Cleveland LF? He's got 6 HR in 14 G this year and 6/6 SB, with a 1007 OPS, so while he may not return to MVP form, he remains a formidable keystone in the lineup.

Order of Protection
Don't think Franco has to carry his lineup, however. The Cleveland batting order brings plenty of protection for Franco. Yorrick Rowand, Dario Selby, and Raul Carrara all do their share of damage on offense. Rowand, a 30-year-old CF, is not a slugger (17 HR in 1256 AB) but has stolen at least 70 bases in each of his first two seasons. Selby, 31, has played a little RF, 1B, and DH in his three seasons, and is one of the most underrated players in the GAP. He ripped 55 HRs in S1, and then led Cleveland with 56 more dingers in S2 when his power rating peaked at 101. He's off to an even-better start this year as his career OPS of 942 is dwarfed by the 1119 he has in the early going in S3.

Carrara, meanwhile, is one to watch. At just 21, he is in his third ML season, platooning in RF. He mashes RH pitching, but struggles against the lefties. After two solid seasons in the low 900s (OPS) and an average of 27 HRs, he is out to an 1119 start, 6 HRs in just 43 ABs.

Eminem Probably Hits Better Than MM
Michael Martin is another one to watch, but for a different reason. whboone seems committed to this guy, with 361 ABs last year and all 14 starts at 1B this year, but he just can't get it going. He has solid ratings (55 58 56 64 63), but his 789 career OPS leaves a lot to be desired, especially from a first baseman. Even worse is the 747 he has this year, .245/.339/.408. For a first baseman. Ugh.

GAP Greg Stewart or Real-Life Dave Stewart?
Ace Greg Stewart was the highest-ranked pitcher (#3 overall) on jakaitis' S2 GAP Player Ratings. Along with that accolade, Stewart has two all-star appearances and the S2 AL Cy Young Award. He's 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA already this year. His 0.85 WHIP is jaw-dropping, and his 26 K in 29.1 IP is impressive as well.

Let's compare his Cy Young S2 to the RL Dave Stewart's best year (1990):

Record - Greg 25-4, Dave 22-11
ERA - Greg 2.90, Dave 2.56
WHIP - Greg 1.13, Dave 1.16
IP - Greg 245, Dave 267
K - Greg 237, Dave 166

Greg holds up pretty well. The GAP's best Montanan is worthy of taking on the nickname from his namesake, so we'll call him "Smoke" Stewart from now on.

Smoke and Mirrors
The rest of the Indians pitching staff leaves a bit to be desired. SP/LR Lonny Lowry is off to a nice start, posting a 1.47 ERA through 18.1 innings, and setup man Del Nakajima has been solid again, with a 1.25 WHIP in 7 appearances. But 37-year-old Yorrick Brand, who took over closing duties last year, has struggled mightily. He converted 28 of 31 opportunities in S2, with a 2.16 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. This year, in his last three appearances, he has failed to retire a batter while giving up 5 earnies. He has an ugly 45.00 ERA and 7.00 WHIP.

Hitch Up the Wagner?
The Indians and whboone have to be anxious to let Kevin Wagner loose. In over a thousand MILB ABs, the 22-year-old RF has an OPS of 1095. He might not be quite ready (939 OPS in AAA last year, 833 out of the gate this year), but it won't be long. He hits lefties well, so he could be a platoon answer to Carrara for a long time.

Random thoughts about the Royals

We're 14 games into S3 of the GAP. First, a glance at the standings. It's oddly satisfying to see the Rangers 7 games behind my Royals in the early going. Don't get me wrong, sergei is a great guy, and an asset to the GAP. I thought he had a contender in S1, but his squad wobbled all the way to a 71-91 finish. Last year, I thought I was going to only have to get by the Rays to win the AL South, but sergei's boys came out of nowhere.

Speaking of the Rays, "Big Nick" Alexander is looking at a two-month stint on the DL. Tampa Bay will need to keep it close over the next 60 or so games to make a run in the second half.

I'm thrilled to get off to a hot 11-3 start, of course. I don't have a .786 team, but I have the GAP lead in runs scored, at 115. I've done it without my .300/20/100 SS, Clark Hardy, who is about to come off the DL. 24 y/o Michael Cedeno (1092 OPS) has filled in awfully well at 2B, with Jose Silva moving to SS. Silva has struggled, so it will likely be him going to the bench when Hardy gets back. 23 y/o 3B Pedro Jose (1029 OPS) has stepped in nicely as well, and of course, my boy Theo Haney is putting up a 1078 OPS at just 21 years of age.

My younger players have to keep it up, as I have no cap room to pick up any vets. I'm paying S1 FA signees Rizzo and Hudler a combined $38,300,000 this year (and next). My two rookie SPs, Vosberg and McCartney, are a combined 3-0 with 2.74 and 4.58 ERAs. If they can keep it up, and Faulk and Hudler keep doing their thing, I might be able to wire-to-wire this thing.