Friday, April 29, 2011

Season 1 Amateur Draft Review - First Round

The inaugural amateur player draft was held on Thursday, April 21st and featured 17 position prospects and 15 pitching prospects selected in the first round. The Yankees kicked off the draft with an unconventional first overall pick, a relief pitcher, Barry Harding. Harding, a high school prospect out of Haines City, Florida, does project to be a lights out closer but the announcement of his name as the first overall pick still "wowed" many in the room.

After Harding went first the next nine picks slightly skewed to pitching with a run on left handed starting pitchers at picks 6, 7, 9 and 10. The best rated position prospect, high schooler Pascual Vargas was taken 4th by San Francisco. There seemed to be more value placed on younger prospects this season, with 20 of the 32 first round picks used on high school prospects. There were some quality players taken this season but their impact likely won't be felt until Season 5 or 6.

#1 Yankees: Barry Harding, Haines City HS, RP

Harding was the first name announced in the For Life league, and will be the future closer in Pinstripes for a long time to come. As a lefty, his potential splits look to be killer, combine that with pin point control and triple digit velocity and the recipe for the perfect relief pitcher is there. Many in the Bronx will question taking a relief pitcher #1, but with his ratings, sign ability, and health, Harding was a very safe, solid, pick.


#2 Royals: David Martin, Wayne County CC, C/DH

Martin is the definition of a slugger. Great eye, contact, power, and righty splits will make Martin the terror of the AL for a long, long time. He will never develop into a good catcher behind the plate, but any deficiencies on defense will be more than made up for at the plate. Worst case scenario Martin DH’s and puts up monster stats anyways. If he has any weakness at the plate, the lefty will only be good against lefties, not outstanding like he will be vs. righties.


#3 Cubs: Diego Ramirez, Baylor University, SP

The Hispanic-Canuck blood mix may not seem like a good fit for a ballplayer, but Ramirez is an ace. He was the Cubs #1 target, and when he fell in their laps at 3 the front office could not wait to call his name. Diego, a southpaw, will be a work horse in Wrigley. Ramirez has all the makings of a future Cy Young winner. The one knock early is he does not have dominating pitches, but his velocity, control, and splits should make up for that. It will not hurt that he is a ground ball pitcher, in a hitter friendly division in terms of ball park.


#4 Giants: Pascual Vargas, Liberal HS, SS/3B

Vargas may just be the best overall player in the draft. He is the definition of a 5 tool player, with good speed, power, contact, arm and glove. The only major knock on Vargas will be his durability. He will never be an ironman, but when he is in the lineup he will be a solid all-around player.


#5 Rangers: John Takada, Sherburne HS, CF

The early reports on Takada all indicate he will be a fantastic leadoff hitter to go along with great defense patrolling the outfield in Arlington. Takada also has a little pop to go along with his fantastic eye, and should be a great bat for years, especially in the Rangers home park. Takada has good speed, but his base running skills are lacking, which may hinder his effectiveness in the SB department.


#6 Mariners: Vladimir Rodriguez, Hesston College, SP

Vladimir was the 2nd south paw starter taken in the top 6, and he looks like a fantastic option for the Mariners. Some in Seattle would argue they had a bigger need for a bat, the M’s took a fantastic starter who will put up all-star numbers in Safeco. The only two negatives for Vladimir are a low velocity, which is more than made up for with a good ground ball and three very good pitches, and a shaky health rating. If he manages to avoid the DL he will be an anchor for a very good rotation.


#7 Rays: Bubbles Malone, Portsmouth HS, SP

He has a funny name, and humongous ears, but Bubbles is a solid right handed starter and will be a great addition for the Rays. He does not have the stamina to be a 200+ inning workhorse, but with fantastic stuff, especially against righties, Malone will be an effective 6 inning starter.


#8 Mets: Bernie Torres, Holyoke CC, 2B/COF

The early reports on the “mighty midget” Torres are he is a solid #2 hitter but not a real game changer. He has fantastic patience at the plate, and is a good base runner, but Torres will not provide much pop, and does not look like he will develop into a stud 2B with the glove.


#9 Angels: Slim Evans, Ideal HS, RP

After legally changing his name and dying his hair to match the famous rapper, Slim took to the mound in the hopes of becoming a big leaguer. The lefty, Slim, truly is an intriguing prospect, he does not have the stamina to be a starter, but has fantastic stuff and could be an anchor in the pen.


#10 White Sox: Branch Wellemeyer, Coleman HS, SP

Another stud lefty pitcher taken by a Chicago team, the Sox are hoping Branch can outshine #3 pick Ramirez. The young sinker baller has a long way to develop, but if he reaches his potential he will be an absolute steal at 10. IF teams do manage to get on base Branch will be a double play inducing machine.


#11 Minnesota Twins: Buddy Washington, Peabody HS, SP

 At #11 overall Washington becomes the top pitching prospect in the Twins system. Only 18 years old, his sinker has already been dubbed "big league ready" and only projects to get better. What the team is most excited about, though, is his control, which they project to be among the best in the league. The ability to bounce back quickly in between starts and a clean health record are the cherry on top.


#12 Philadelphia Phillies: Ernie Mantei, Manatee Community College, SP

The sixth starting pitcher and fifth lefty taken, the Phillies took a flyer on the injury prone Mantei. The hard thrower has shown only average control thus far in his career but has the ability to get quick outs if he pitches to contact with this plus sinker. He also features a plus change up and and a serviceable slider.


#13 Oakland Athletics: Dave Reames, Lawrence University, DH/1B

A safe pick here in the 13th slot, the A's opted for a college senior who still has room to improve. Reames, who figures to fit in more as a DH than a 1B, already has big league power but will need a season or two in the minors to improve his plate discipline before he can truly be effective. Although not projected to be a great hitter for average, Reames has already shown a flash of his potential in 18 games at the rookie league level, hitting .378 while bashing 9 homers.


 #14 Atlanta Braves: Jaime Trammell, Mainland HS, SP

A nice selection at fourteen, Trammell continues the run on lefty starting pitching. Like Mantei, Washington and Wellemeyer before him, he also features a plus sinker and the ability to consistently get groundball outs. Although he doesn't pack the same velocity that some of the other pitchers do, the pinpoint control he showed in school is a major plus and a big reason why the Braves were high on him. The main drawback on Trammell is his history of skipped starts. A strict pitch count may help keep him fresh enough to throw every five days, or perhaps simply getting him away from Trump Plaza may prove to be the cure.


#15 San Diego Padres: Russell Crawford, Melrose-Mindoro HS, 2B

Drafted as a second basemen, some scouts doubt Crawfords ability to get it done defensively at second base, suggesting instead that he move to the outfield. Whatever the Padres decide, Crawford will bring a steady bat to the plate with him, with strong plate discipline to boot. If he does pan out at second Crawford's ability to get on base will make him a great value at the position.


#16 Toronto Blue Jays: Angel Sanchez, Bethany Christian HS, SS

Baton Rouge born Angel Sanchez was the Blue Jays top pick. While he mainly played shortstop for Bethany Christian High School, Sanchez projects more to third base at the pro level. The main attraction for Sanchez is not his fielding chops, though, as he projects to be the type of power hitting third baseman that most teams would love to have. His struggle with discipline at the dish may have hampered him from being a top 10 pick, but I'm sure Toronto is very happy to get him with the 16th overall pick.


#17  Los Angeles Dodgers: Marshall Olson, Rogers HS, RF (Unsigned)

Before the draft it was well known that slugging prospect Marshall Olson had many offers to play football at the Division 1 level, but that didn't stop the Dodgers from drafting him 17th overall. Now Olson will have to decide which sport he loves best. If he chooses baseball he is projected to develop into a top power hitter who can play either of the corner outfield positions.


#18 Detroit Tigers: Olmedo Guardado, Sheridan College, P

The Tigers had to be happy with Guardado falling to them at 18. The twenty year old projects to be a very solid relief pitcher and will probably be capable of spot starting for the Tigers. His current velocity already puts him up there in big league territory and scouts believe he will develop into one of the leagues premier fire ballers. He will need to work on his marginally effective change up and curveball if he hopes to keep big league hitters off balance, though.


#19 Knights: Buzz Cole, Hostos CC, SP (Unsigned)

Buzz had questions marks surrounding more than one aspect of his game, the biggest being his sign-ability. It looks like the hard throwing lefty will be returning to his Community College for another year. If he does sign, his stuff will be dynamic but his control will be awful.


#20 St. Louis Cardinals: Pat Chong, Chilton County HS, SS

Almost all of Chong's tools project him to be a big league shortstop. Almost. There are doubts as to whether or not Chong has the fielding acumen to play the position as a pro. Instead, he projects to be an elite fielding third or second baseman. At the dish Chong is no slouch and many in the Cardinals organization hope he will be a guy who can hit at the top of the lineup.


#21 Arizona Diamondbacks: Vernon Turner, University of Nebraska - Kearney, SP

Turner put up solid numbers for Division II Nebraska-Kearney but struggled with his command at times. As a pro the DBacks hope Turner can settle down and he should be aided by four plus pitches including a stellar fastball and changeup. Curiously, Turner added a knuckeball to his stable of pitches with very limited success, DBacks brass will need to convince him to drop the pitch and keep the ball in the yard.


#22 Chicago Cubs: Kent Stewart, Georgia College & State University, C

Their second pick of the first round yielded the Cubs catcer Kent Stewart. With three years of college under his belt Stewart has the experience to step in and contribute to the Cubs immediately if necessary. Although lacking power he hit for a high average at the Georgia school and is expected to translate this same success in the pros. Behind the dish he has a cannon of an arm but has yet to develop the pin point accuracy his new coaches want to see.


#23 Florida Marlins: Michael Lombard, Seminole State College, 2B

Tulsa born Michael Lombard blossomed into a top second baseman during his time at Seminole and should see an unobstructed path to the same position for the Marlins. He is a threat on the basepaths with great speed and good instincts, but will need to improve his skills in the batters box to maximize his potential. He did show flashes of power in college and has steadily developed his plate discipline.


#24  Milwaukee Brewers: Gorkys Delgado, Rockwall Christian Academy, LF (Unsigned)

The Brewers hope to sign the 18 year old out of Mesquite, Texas, but he has said he will take the time to weigh the many baseball scholarships he currently has on the table versus jumping to a pro career. The corner outfield prospect has a few tools at the dish that the scouts like; gap power, plate discipline and speed. Although his defensive tools aren't the best, his arm accuracy is suitable for an outfield position.


#25 Pittsburgh Pirates: Farmer Wagner, Troy Buchanan HS, CF

With the 25th pick the Pirates may have had the steal of the first round. The youngster has the athleticism and skills and projects to a fine everyday center fielder for the Bucs. Add in developing instincts on the base paths, big league bunting ability and patience at the plate and you may well have a perennial All Star once he sees the big leagues.


#26 Cleveland Indians: Sam Dickerson, Canton Public HS, RP (Unsigned)

The Indians opted to take a shot at the high school graduate despite his large draft bonus demand and repeated statements that he's headed to college. Regardless, the kid projects to have what it takes to be a top closer in the ML and, at the age of 18, already possesses big league velocity. Dickerson excels at keeping hitters off balance with a great four seamer and a knee buckling hook. Dickerson will definitely need to go through a maturing period whichever decision he makes - in his time at Canton he had a few run-ins with team staff as well as the local authorities, though no charges were ever pressed.


#27 Washingtion D.C. Nationals: Neifi Flores, Woodsville HS, CF

A step below fellow center field prospect and #25 pick Farmer Wagner, Flores should fill the position adequately for the Nats. Like Wagner he has the foot speed and instincts to make him a constant threat if he's on. In his time at Woodsville High Flores had a tough time against lefties but scorched righties and showed decent power. Flores also proved to be very durable in his four years at the school, never missing a game.


#28 Montreal Expos: Tony Rogers, Palo Verde HS, RP

Rogers dominated hitters in California as a high school senior and should be a part of the Expos bullpen for Season 5. Whether or not he will be the closer, only time will tell, but Rogers has the stuff necessary to make a push for the spot. Pitch command, a flaming four seamer and a slider with enough movement to fool the hitter has helped him reach this point in his career and there's no reason to believe they won't continue to do so.


#29 Boston Red Sox: Timo Young, Kerman High HS, 2B (Unsigned)

 Coming out of high school as second baseman, Young will likely see a conversion to the outfield in the Red Sox organization. A speedster with some base running skill, Young was successful in reaching base as a high schooler more because of his eye at the plate as opposed to his hitting skills, though he did show some power. If he can find his way to the Sox big league lineup he will likely hit towards the bottom and will need to utilize his speed to stay in the show.


#30 Houston Astros: Brace House, Boaz HS, LF

Health concerns likely dropped House to the bottom end of the first round but the Astros are excited to have him. House was a men among boys as a high school senior, relentlessly punishing opposition pitchers with raw power. Although he didn't hit for average scouts say didn't seem to be concerned because of his potential to improve in that area and because of unusual patience at the plate for an 18 year old. While House hasn't had any major injuries, he failed to play a complete season in any of his four years at Boaz High School.


#31 Cincinnati Reds: Angel Bennett, New Mexico Highlands University, 1B

Three years experience at the small DII school was enough for Bennett to be a first round pick. A first baseman for his entire career, Bennett has the power you seek at the corner position, although he strikes out at a higher than average rate. A rare tool for a first baseman to possess, Bennett is one of the speedier players taken in the first round, although his base running skills are still raw.


#32 Baltimore Orioles: Miguel Molina, Old Town HS, RP

The Yankees opened the draft by selecting a relief pitcher and the Orioles closed out the first round by doing the same. Molina showed impeccable command as a senior and, while lacking the velocity the other first round relievers have, was able to get out hitters with a four seamer and a plus slider. He seems destined to make a nice setup or situational pitcher but don't be surprised if he challenges for the closer spot in Season 5 or 6.

Friday, April 15, 2011

International Free Agent Update #1, Season 1

A look at some of the more notable IFA's signed so far this season. Thanks to the owners who participated!


Horacio Vincente - P - Philadelphia Phillies - $22M

At 18 years old Vincente is added into a Phillies minor league system already deep with pitching talent.  On the signing and past controversy surrounding the lefty pitching prospect Phillies owner jonboynky had this to say: "Like so many other teams, the Phillies Latin American operations are based in San Pedro de Macoris. With Vincente playing in neighboring Boca de Soco, we had our eye on this kid since he lead the Dominican to the Little League World Series title at the age of 10. Naturally, we were a bit concerned about his ethics during the age scandal when it was reveled that he was really 14 at this time. Nonetheless, the combination of his 4 seam fastball, along with his forkball and change up is very unique amongst teenagers. The Phillies felt that he was worth the risk in investing over $22M in this kid."

Vincente projects to have impeccable control and will likely mow down left handed hitters. The combination of his velocity and the ability to induce a ground ball should make him a go to guy if he ends up in the bullpen. His projected stamina puts him right on the line between a starting pitcher and a spot starter/long reliever role, so it wouldn't be surprising if he becomes an elite late inning guy. "While Vincente is currently being used in a starting role, it is quite likely that once he reaches the bigs he could end up at the premier set up man in the league," jonboynky confirmed. "We think we could get 150 innings a year out of the pen for him and he could really cut games down to 6 innings for the opposition."

"As it stands right now, Horacio is probably still four years away from making his ML debut," jonboynky asserted when pressed for Vincente's debut date.


Norberto Martin - C/DH - Arizona Diamondbacks - $15.1M

"He (Martin) automatically becomes the top hitting prospect in my minors," lomac gushed over his newest international free agent acquisition, catcher Norberto Martin. Not only does Martin immediately become the best position player in the Dbacks minor league system, but he may be the best catching prospect in the entire league. Not only does he project to hit for average, but lomac describes him as a future "on base machine". Don't sleep on his defensive skills, though, as Martin should be able to play the position adequately and has already shown that he may be an above average pitch caller behind the plate.

"I don't see him being on the big league club until sometime in S3 or the start of S4," admitted lomac. He then pointed out that the top talent already on the big league club will all still be under the age of 30 when Martin figures to be on the opening day roster. He also added that while Martin could be an everyday catcher, the idea of him DH'ing isn't out of the question. 


Yovani Mujica - P - Florida Marlins - $14.8M

 A product of Venezuela, 18 year old Yovani Mujica has "elite reliever" written all over him. "The one part of Mujica's repertoire we absolutely love is his velocity. His 4-seam FB and slider are going to be impossible to touch once his reaches his potential," noted rootgargle. Mujica doesn't have any glaring weaknesses and the number of innings he can pitch due to his durability may be the biggest question. He also has trouble getting the opposition to groundout, but this point may be moot because of his plus velocity.

Even with questions about his durability Mujica will provide a dynamic option for rootgargle, as he projects to have the stamina to fill any of the relief roles. "I can see Mujica coming into games as a LR option, possibly setting up our closer later on in games," said rootgargle.

Don't look for Mujica anytime soon, though, "I don't think you'll see him for quite a while. He needs to get experience against other minor league clubs. He's 18, which means he's still quite raw. However, we love his makeup. He'll do whatever it takes to get to where we want him to be."


Raul Roque - 2B - Charlotte Knights - $14.7M 

The first owner to openly criticize 22 year old second base prospect Raul Roque also happens to be the owner that signed him. If you ask tropicana he'll tell you that everything went according to plan. The result; the best dollar for dollar IFA signing this season. "He might be the best hitter in my organization RIGHT NOW," beamed tropicana. For a team that currently ranks near last in almost every major offensive category Roque may just be what's needed. At his current ratings Roque could make an impact on any team in the league. The scary thing is that he still has room to grow. At 22 years old how much he will improve has been a subject of debate. Some teams even passed on Roque because of injury concerns, but tropicana, calling the issues "relatively minor warts", made it clear he is not worried. 

As far as on the field play, and in particular what position Roque will be best at, tropicana stated he felt confident that the 22 year old could play second base for the Knights, "I would actually have no problem playing him at 2B if I could get some decent range growth." He then added, " I think 2B (defensively) is the most overrated defensive position in baseball, both real and in HBD."

On when Roque will be at a big league park near you, "It'll be hard to keep that out of the majors for long if we continue to be close to contention."


James Matsuzaka - COF/1B/DH - San Francisco - $17M

"His potential as a middle of the order hitter was clear from the first look," said kcden in his conference call announcing the signing of the 18 year old Japanese position prospect. Matsuzaka immediately becomes the best position prospect in the Giants system. He projects to be a solid middle of the order guy, capable of 25+ homeruns a year (although the number may drop given his future home park) while hitting for average.

His offensive potential isn't in question, though. "There is some disagreement in the organization over where he will end up in the field. Some of the scouts think he can hack it at 2B; but I think its clear he is a corner outfielder at heart," admitted kcden. What really hurts Matsuzaka from a fielding standpoint is a relatively weak arm and questionable accuracy, which may pigeonhole him to left field or first base. 

The fans in San Francisco will have to wait a few years to catch a glimpse of Matsuzaka, though, "We expect him to spend at least three years in the minors devoloping his skills and durability, but once he hits the bigs, we expect a big impact," stated kcden.


 Alex Feliz - 2B - Cincinnati Reds - $3.2M

A decently developed 19 year old second baseman prospect. His health and durability may cause him to lose about 20-30 games a season but he should still be able to make an impact at the big league level. Feliz is a bit of a free swinger but not only has the skills to get on base with some consistency but to make teams pay with his speed on the basepaths.

 Joseph Tanaka - P - Texas Rangers - $4.3M

At first glance this sum paid by willsauve may look to be a little high, but take a deeper look and you may find a nice value signing here. While Tanaka may not be as effective against righties as you'd like to see his velocity, coupled with the movement on his pitches, and his ability to induce ground balls will likely make up for it. Look for Tanaka to be a dependable setup man for the Rangers.

 Maicer Andujar - P - Chicago White Sox - $3.9M

Andujar likely has what it takes to be a part of Chicago's future ML plans as a long reliever or setup man. His projected control is probably his best asset, and while he won't blow his fastball passed most hitters, it features enough movement to challenge most ML hitters.

 Miguel Guerrero - P - San Diedo Padres - $2.4M

Guerrero will give jying98 a nice option as either a long reliever or back-end starter when he reaches the bigs. He already has shown the ability to get the ground-out, if his control can develop as projected he could be an effective starter.

 Rigo Jimenez - P - Anaheim Angels - $2.1M

In Jimenez rounders likely has a guy who can float between the ML and AAA levels when needed or serve full time as a secondary long relief option or spot starter at the ML level. His curveball and slider will need to greatly improve if he wants to find himself with a bigger role in the bigs.

Friday, April 8, 2011

S1 NL North Predictions

By Jefepwnzer

NL North

Milwaukee Brewers

Starting 9: Milwaukee will feature an average at best offense in Season 1. Center fielder Pedro Pulido, third baseman Lyle Long and catcher Keith Stevenson are dependable bats but there isn't much support for them. Pulido, Long second baseman Edgar Crespo all have power, which may be the only way the Brewers push runs across the plate this season.

Pitching staff: Diego Carrasco and Jamey Ransom should prove to be two solid arms for the Crew for this season. David Iwazaki can hold his own in the later innings and can be trusted with closing games late. From top to bottom, though, Milwaukee's staff is at best average and may have trouble preventing most opponents from scoring.

The future: Reliever prospects Howie Hollins and Kenneth White top the Brewers list of pitching prospects. If he reaches his projections Hollins could be a fringe starter if Milwaukee ends up needing an impact arm in the rotation. Kiki Lee is another exciting prospect who looks to be able to play a number of positions while possessing a solid bat. He has speed as well, but will need to fully develop his base running skills if he wants to be a top base stealer.

Chicago Cubs - 

Starting 9: One of the top hitters in the league, first baseman Geraldo Romano heads a Cubs offense that may struggle to score runs this season. He will get decent support from Nipsey Holzemer but it looks to be a two man show for the Cubs. Center fielder Bob Richard provides the elite speed that most teams wished but may not get on base consistently enough to prove effective. 

Pitching staff: Santos Gonzalez and Roger Baker are two of the more promising young pitchers in the game, Santos will likely be the ace of the staff this season. Unfortunately for Chicago there is a drop-off in talent after the youngsters as far as starting pitchers go, and the Cubs success will likely go as these two go. If rookie Lyle Bell can address his control issues he could be one of the best relievers in the league. Even if Gonzalez and Baker are able to produce magical seasons there's just not enough pitching talent in Chicago for the Cubs to be successful this season.
The future: Neftali Pena has a future as a lights out closer and should make his debut no later than Season 3. Jerry Walsh will likely prove to be a dependable starter once he hits the bigs and will be a major upgrade over some of the current starters. 

Montreal Expos -

Starting 9: Alving Morales brings a number of tools to the Expos offense, not only figuring to hit for average but also to be a major threat on the basepaths. He is joined by Billy Ray Rocker and slugger Grover Lesher as the top bats on the team. Beyond these three, though, the rest of the Expos offense average at best. 

Pitching staff: Montreal's saving grace may be their top three starting pitchers. Preseason Cy Young candidate Eduardo Amaro, Wilton Shea and Hawk Cummings are one of the strongest trios of starting pitchers in the game. Amos Buckley should be a dependable long reliever and closer Jamie Stokes should be a rock in the 9th. Overall this is the strongest pitching staff in the division and may be able to makeup for the lack of talent in the order for Montreal.

The future: The Expos have a bevy of relief prospects in their system in addition to SP prospect Reagan Green. The collection of relief prospects here should mean an airtight bullpen for Montreal.

Cincinnati Reds - 
Starting 9: Three top end hitters lead the way for the Reds in Season 1. Jin-Chi Jiang, Pepper Combs and Tsuyoshi Chen should produce most of the offense in Cincinnati. Chen and Combs are both true catchers so finding playing time for both may be a tough proposition. It's likely that one of them will have to spend some time at first base in order to squeeze both into the lineup. Robbie Swann has power and should provide good support on an offense that is arguably the best in the division. 

Pitching staff: Subject of much controversy during Spring Training, Michel Santos is your pre season NL Cy Young favorite and ace of the Reds staff. Teddy Henderson is capable of logging many effective innings as the #2 in the rotation. Backing the starters is a strong closer in Bert Workman, who will likely have plenty of opportunities to get the save when Santos or Henderson pitch. 

The future: As if having Santos and Henderson weren't enough, the Reds can look forward to David Rios and Brook Dodd being part of the rotation. Nash Flanagan is a top third base prospect who projects to have plus power. Don't be surprised if he makes an appearance late in Season 2, with an assured debut in Season 3.

How they will finish - The Reds and Expos should have a good battle for the division this season. The pitching in Montreal is better from top to bottom than that of the Reds, while the Reds offense is better than the Expos overall. This is probably the toughest division to call. Whoever finishes runner up will likely earn a wildcard spot.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

S1 NL East Preview

By Jefepwnzer

NL East

New York Mets -

Starting 9: Catcher Carl Porter leads an average Mets offense into Season 1. He should have no problem getting on base consistently but is where the production will come from after that is a good question. Emil Wilfredo will launch his share of bombs but doesn't figure to hit for average. Rookie Stan Dunston has a nice upside but shouldn't be expected to contribute much this season. They key to scoring runs this season for the Mets may be how often Francisco Rivera gets on base, he's a threat to steal whenever he gets a chance and could set the table for Porter or Wilfredo to drive him in. 

Pitching staff: Rookie Ray Rowand is the Mets best bet for pitching success on an otherwise below average rotation. There's not really a go-to option for the Mets and it wouldn't be a suprise if they struggled mightily on the hill this season. If the they can take a lead into the late innings, though, they should be set with Ken Allen and Miguel Valverde in the bullpen.

The future: Troy Berger and Johnny Hall should one day solve part of the problem with the rotation. In particular, Hall should prove to be a reliable piece of the rotation when he hits the bigs. Catcher Deacon Daniels and 1B Tommy Pence are bright young prospects but Daniels may be blocked for a few years by current catcher Carl Porter.

Philadelphia Phillies - 

Starting 9: Philly may have even more trouble scoring runs this season than the Mets will. After solid hitters Albert Carrasco and Jamie Cho there really aren't too many options for New York. If he can find any kind of consistency, Sandy Gragg may help out Carrasco and Cho, but even with his help this lineup will struggle.

Pitching staff: Top to bottom this is one of the worst in the league. Any lead gained by the offense will likely be unsafe as there isn't a dependable starter or reliever to shut down the opposition. 

The future: Luckily for the Mets the answer to their pitching problems already exists in their minor league system. Lonny Redondo and Galahad Farrell head a handful of promising pitching prospects, it's just a matter of time until New York has one of the more dependable staff's in the league. Luther Cairncross and Jason Karnuth are stud position prospects who will provide runs for the aforementioned Redondo and Farrell to work with.

Pittsburgh Pirates - 

Starting 9: Unlike divison counterparts New York and Philly the Pirates will not have a problem pushing runs across the plate this season. Second baseman Joey Lockwood is not only the best all around hitter on the team but is also a threat on the basepaths. Youngster Frank Hawkins may not hit for average but possesses the raw power and patience at the plate to make him one of the most feared homerun threats in the division, if not the NL. 

Pitching staff: Complementing the offense is a capable rotation and a solid bullpen which inlcudes lights out closer Maicer Granados. Alex Guaradado is one of the more exciting rookie pitchers this season and will likely be the opening day starter for the Pirates. Protecting leads shouldn't be a problem for this staff.

The future: Don Wang and Willie Ozuna will one day provide depth to the pitching staff and make it that much stronger. Ozuna in particular will make a nice setup option for current closer Granados. In the field Anthony Hogan is an exciting prospect who projects to play a number of positions while hitting for average and could develop into one of the best base-stealers in the NL.

Washington D.C. Nationals - 

Starting 9: The Nats offense will go as rookie Jesus Cairo and Randy Taylor go. This is not necessarily a bad thing as they look to be consistent producers. Jared Orr deserves a mention as well. While he may not be nearly as good as Cairo or Taylor he should find himself on base consistently and could score a lot of runs if he hits in front of them. The rest of the lineup is passable and should get the job done in D.C.
Pitching staff: Tito Ellenwood and Reggie Perry are two solid parts of a solid rotation in Washington. However, the team lacks a dependable closer and their pitching depth is lacking. This is somewhat offset by a couple of LR's who can throw a lot of innings, but they'll really need to record a lot of outs to prevent fatigue from being an issue over the course of the season. 

The future: As if they needed any more starting pitching depth the Nats system includes a trio of future SP prospects lead by twenty one year old Pedro Planco. Position prospect Jumbo Cooper is a lot like the Pirates top prospect Anthony Hogan; capable of playing many positions, a solid all around bat and a threat on the basepaths. It should be fun to watch these two super prospects compete in the same division here in a couple seasons. 

How they will finish: Top to bottom the Pirates look like the class of the East. Their offense is easily the best in the division and they appear to have enough pitching to carry them through the long campaign. The Nationals shouldn't be overlooked but their lack of pitching depth may hurt them, in addition to not quite having enough offense to win the division. The Mets and Phillies will battle to stay out of the basement and it wouldn't be surprising to see both of these teams with a top 5 pick.

Washington D.C.
New York

Monday, April 4, 2011

S1 NL South Predictions

By Jefepwnzer

NL South

St. Louis Cardinals -

Starting 9: The Cards will bring the good wood to the park everyday and should have little trouble pushing runs across the plate. Leading the way is top first baseman Wayne Rhodes, possibly the best hitter in the entire league. Some combination of Paxton Carpenter, Joshua Palmer and Takumi Chiba will be tasked with getting on base in front of Rhodes and Clay Austin, who may be one of the best hitting catchers in the game. Although he doesn't possess a great bat, center fielder Karim Palmeiro is one of the more rounded players you'll find at the position.

Pitching staff: Stan Barrett will likely occupy the #1 spot in the rotation to start the season. Dean Zimmermann, Zachrey Broadway and Carl Randall are capable starting pitchers and should be able to keep the games they start within striking range of the offense. Zimmermann in particular should be a very solid in the second spot of the rotation. Miguel Rodriguez and newly promoted Steven Pagnozzi should combine for a good 1-2 punch at the backend of the pen. 

The future: St. Louis has plenty of depth at pitcher in their farm system. Ellis Buddie, C.J. Kramer and Matty Canseco are legitimate starting material, although the system lacks a true lights out closer prospect. Not quite as deep in the field, the Cards minor leagues have a couple of exciting players to watch for in SS/3B prospect Dan Wilhelm and LF Skip Beirne. Overall there are a lot of bright spots in the Cards system and the future looks bright in St. Louis. 

Atlanta Braves - 

Starting 9: Willis Leonard and Norberto Alvarado are the only two sound hitters on an offense that figures to be just below average. There is hope that youngsters Duke Diaz and Larry Henley can hit the ball consistently in support of Leonard and Alvarado. After these four, though, there is a dropoff in quality which will likely bog down the offense.

Pitching staff: The Braves have a very dependable rotation and project to have three good options for long relief/setup. The main question will be whether or not they can close games out as there is a glaring lack of a dependable closer on the team. Consistency at the closer spot may have to come from one of the three LR options.

The future: Currently without a strong closer option at the big league level the Braves can look to the future and uber-closer prospect Clarence Sanders. Currently in AA, Clarence could make his first appearance in late S2 and should be a full time big leaguer by S3. Although there aren't any stud position prospects in the minors, Atlanta can count a handful of future ML players who should form a solid core. 

Florida Marlins - 

Starting 9: Arguably the best offense in the NL South will belong to the Fish in S1. Shortstop Vinny Baez may be the best all around player in the league and is one of the cornerstone of the Marlins lineup. First baseman Diory Jose will challenge the Cardinals Wayne Rhodes for title of best first baseman. John Cheung, Spike Schmidt and rookie Woody Drew all bring dependable bats to the park and should not be overlooked.

Pitching staff: Will Granderson could compete for the NL Cy Young if he is able to throw strikes consistently this season. Behind him are a handful of youngsters, including two rookies, who will need to bring their A game if Florida hopes to win many games. Quentin Eaton, Jordan Meyer, Banana Maas and Martin Scholl form a solid bullpen and closing out games this season shouldn't be a worry for the Marlins.

The future: Hayes Leary, Tony Urbina and Seop Mori will one day push the current youngsters in the bigs for spots in the rotation. In the field Joe Bush is easily one of the top prospects in the NL and could make his debut late in S3 or in S4 if he develops well.

Houston Astros - 

Starting 9: The 'Stros offense should be productive this season and especially capable of pounding left handed pitching. Vicente Chavez is yet another stellar first baseman in the NL South and Cap Valentine is one of the top catchers in the league. They are supported by a handful of guys who may not hit for the best average but should bring some pop to the lineup. 

Pitching staff: Dennis Charles is the best SP option for Houston but the main concern will be how many innings he can effectively throw. Behind him aren't the best collection of starters but they should prove to be dependable. The bullpen is without any true LR option and instead it will have to be a patchwork of relievers holding the lead in the late innings. Luckily for the Astros they can count four solid relief options in their pen, including Luis Cortes and Archie Duncan.

The future: Brighter days may be ahead for the Houston rotation. A number of SP prospects reside in the minors currently. However, all of them may already be fully developed and the question looks to be not if they're ready, but when they will they be needed at the ML level. Position-wise there not any superstars in the Astros system, but a few guys who can one day prove to be everyday players at the big league level.

How they will finish: The Cards would appear to be the most well rounded team in the NL South. If Florida's rookies can perform well consistently they will likely challenge the Cards for the division title. Atlanta lacks the offense needed to compete and Houston's opening day rotation will have trouble over the course of 162 games.

St Louis

S1 NL West Predictions

By Usfbully

NL West

Colorado Rockies:

Starting 9: Colorado is a pure hitter park, and this team has a player or two that will put up eye popping numbers thanks to playing 81 games at home. Hughie Patterson has a good eye and big pop, but is a huge health risk. Hugh Faulk is a DH on an NL roster, but if he finds a way into the lineup he should be a solid hitter. Moises Vincente is going to be a phenomenal leadoff man, and will be pretty good in center as well. Health may be an issue with this club.

Pitching: The reason why the league is buzzing about the Rockies is their arms, and they are going to need them. Colorado has 4 potential #1 starters in: Alfredo Vazquez, Trevor Seneca, Tony Solano, and Clem Ennis. Playing where they play will inflate their numbers, but they should have the best rotation for a long time. A downside to their pitching is a relatively weak pen.

The Future: Colorado has a decent system, led by future shortstop Babe Farrell. Babe should be a good all-around player in a couple of seasons. David Albaladejo is difficult to say, but the Dominican has a big bat. He probably won’t have the range to play short, but is no slouch on one of the corners. The Rockies pitching prospects look good as well. Shigetoshi Chang is a hard thrower and will be able to go back to back nights. Nick Ryan has all world stuff, but with limited durability will probably be a save situation only closer.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Starting 9: The Dodgers are going to be begging for runs in Season 1. There is not much offensive talent on this squad but Wes Clayton should be an OK table setter and Ryan Butler has upper deck power at 1st Base. Dennis Osborne is listed at AAA right now, but has a big league contract and should be a good do it all player for LA.

Pitching: The Dodgers staff is weak. They are going to be scrambling for starters to get innings completed. Landon Perkins and Gustavo Gongora will make a good right left combo out of the pen.

The Future: Jamie Jang is an ML ready 1B/LF who will be a solid line drive hitter. Jang is lacking the home run power, however. Elvis Gaetti is a switch hitting platoon player that has decent wheels and can play ok defense. The Dodgers do have a handful of future ML pitchers. Most notable is Miguel Mota. At 25, he is probably going to be on the starting rotation to start the season. Keith Walters has some room to grow and will be a solid #2.

San Diego Padres:

Starting 9: Continuing the theme found out west, the Padres have some limp bats. Pascual Canseco will get on base but will struggle scoring with the hitters he has behind him.

Pitching: The Fathers don’t have much in terms of pitching, but a spacious park will help them out a little. Danys Cervantes has impeccable control and will lead the Padres pitching staff. The aging Hersh Cooper will be a solid #2 on this staff.

The Future: Tim Murray stands 6’6 and might be the tallest outfielder in the near future. He has some room to grow, but is already a solid do it all hitter. Chipper Marion may not be the best behind the plate, but he will be a great hitter when he reaches the bigs. Gus McGriff is a young arm that will find his way to San Diego. If his stamina develops he will be a Cy Young contender pretty much every year. Gustavo Encarnacion is another young pitcher that needs to develop his stamina, but he will be a very good starter if he reaches his potential.

San Francisco Giants:

The Starting 9: The Giants might have the biggest bats in their division. Jacob Duensing will swing at anything, but when he makes contact it will be solid. Vincenzo Weathers has gargantuan power and will be good at 1st or in Left.

Pitching: The Giants have good pitching as well, but their best player is waiting to be resigned. Joseph Park is an ageing ace, but if the Giants retain his rights it solidifies their rotation. Roger Kane will be a dominating arm out of the pen.

The Future: Yorvit James is a left handed slugger, but is probably best suited as a DH or a pinch hitter. James might be ready for the majors now. The future pen looks good for San Fran, Alan Rice and Brutus Miller will be two solid relievers.

How They Will Finish:

Colorado has the best overall roster, right now, but they are going to be rolling the dice as some of their best players have major health issues. It will be tough for the 4 Aces to last a 162 game season with a weak pen. If San Francisco decides to spend some money and resign Park, they will become the odds on favorite to win the division. I am going to guess that they do.

San Francisco
Los Angeles
San Diego

Friday, April 1, 2011

S1 AL North Predictions

By Jefepwnzer

AL North

Chicago White Sox -

Starting 9: The Pale Hose will enter Season 1 with an offense very much capable of scoring runs, especially via the homerun. Leading the charge will be preseason MVP candidate Jumbo Starr and star catcher Enrique Coronado. These two should be one of the more productive duo's in the AL should any of their teammates be able to consistently get on base in front of them. James McKnight, who will most likely DH, and Nate Ferrara should provide sound support behind Starr and Coronado. 

Pitching staff: Whereas this team can score runs there looks to be little chance they can protect them. AN over-the-hill staff (eight pitchers 33 and older) figures to be one of the worst in the entire league. Terry Gardner and Tino Pan are the best options on an otherwise very weak rotation. Along with promising rookie reliever Benito James there are a couple of mediocre relievers who are capable of holding and saving games if they get the chance. 

The future: A handful of reliever prospects will one day form an elite bullpen. However, a lack of a true SP prospects will probably ensure a few tough years for Chicago's pitching staff. Theodore Yount and Ramon Lee will provide more power to the lineup in the future, although Yount may be blocked until S3 as both the catcher and DH spots are currently locked up.

Detroit Tigers -

Starting 9: Walt Cota and Paul Smith may be the best top of the linup combo in the league and will set the table for slugger Wilfredo Candelaria. Kory Durrington and Bernie Villafuerte should provide two more viable options in a respectable lineup.

Pitching staff: The starting rotation for the White Sox won't wow you but should be fairly dependable. Johan Kotsay should be the opening day starter and fellow veteran Eugene Allen are solid top of the rotation options. Shutting down opposing clubs in the late innings should be the task of rookie Paul Wilkerson and veteran Max Cordero. Overall this is a well rounded staff and should be capable of keeping the team in most games. 

The future: Sammy Pascual is the future ace of the club and Del Macdougal will add depth to the future rotation. Doug Davis should one day compete for the batting title although lacks the power projections you would like to see from a DH/1B prospect.

Minnesota Twins -

Starting 9: This average at best offense will be lead by shortstop Tim Fisher. When facing lefties the Twins will have some nice power options in Bailey Fonville and rookie Gary Martin. However, it does not look like there is enough talent in this offense to produce consistently. 

Pitching staff: It could be a long season in Minnesota - their staff from top to bottom projects to be one of the worst in the entire league. Bill Tam will most likely start the season atop the rotation though he lacks the stamina to be a truly effective starter. The best bet in the bullpen is Einar Hernandez, though you'd think his number of opportunities to save games will be limited by the lack of talent in the rotation.

The future: Unfortunately for the twins there is not a lot going on in their minor league system. Turk Weber is one of the best prospects in the game and Teddy Marquis may one day be one of the best power hitting catchers in the league. There is work to be done here in the farm system if Minnesota is to compete anytime soon.

Toronto Blue Jays -

Starting 9: Pushing runs across the plate may be the toughest job in Toronto this season. Nick Benjamin is the only player capable of getting on base consistently and Tom Burton is likely the Blue Jays best power option. After these two, though, is a real lack of talent. If Benjamin and Burton don't hit consistently it's tough to see Toronto winning many games. 

Pitching staff: The best bet for the Jays to win games is if the offense can provide just a bit of run support for preseason Cy Young favorite Landon Norton. Artie Ryan and Trevor Huff should fill out the top three spots of the rotation. Donn Pierre can close games out when provided the opportunity although the team lacks a clear setup guy.

The future: Toronto's minor league system has pitching depth, lead by future All Star Ichiro Kondou. The more exciting pitching prospect for the Jays may be Johnny DuBose, the twenty two year old is currently at AAA and could see action in the ML this season if needed. Saul Romero is Toronto's best position prospect and should inject a good amount of power to the lineup when he's ready in three or four seasons. 

How they will finish: If Detroit can get consistent pitching they are the best bet to win the AL North. However, if the Blue Jays can find the offense to back their top three starters they could prove to be a legitimate challenger in the division. Minnesota and Chicago will likely not play a big part in the final standings.