Couple of interesting items from Baseball America.
First, this is from the transactions last week:
Atlanta BravesSigned: RHP Wes Alsup (Joliet (Northern)), LHP Nick Lobanov
A Tennessee-Martin product, Wes Alsup signed on with Joliet of the independent Northern League after finishing school. He str-uck out 21 and walked 19 over 26 1/3 innings for the JackHammers, finishing with a 2.05 ERA in 22 relief appearances.
The Twins released Nikolay Alekseyevich Lobanov, a 21-year-old Moscow native, in spring training ’09 and he hasn't pitched in affiliated ball in the past two years.
And, today, BA released the top 10 prospects from the Independent Leagues. Wes was #2.
2. Wes Alsup, rhp, Joliet (Frontier)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt: 205.
Alsup is the kind of player independent league baseball was made for—a relatively raw pitcher who needs innings more than anything.. Alsup pitched less than 50 innings in his college career, so 30 innings this summer with Joliet was the kind of on-the-job training the big righthander needed to refine his game.
He may be raw, but even with a relatively unrefined delivery Alsup was one of the Jackhammers' best relievers. He had a 2.05 ERA in 26 innings during the regular season while holding opponents to a .161 average against.
After being home schooled for most of his high school career (he played high school ball as a senior), Alsup played briefly for Belmont University as a freshman, transferred to junior college and then missed much of the next two seasons because of Tommy John surgery and the recovery from that surgery.
Alsup finally got on the mound more consistently this year as a redshirt junior. He earned the role of being UT-Martin's closer and when he was on the mound, he was quite effective. He led the Ohio Valley Conference with seven saves while going 1-0, 4.24 in 22 innings. But he had to be shut down a couple of times with a stress reaction in his arm. Instead of returning for a senior season (he had been granted an extra year by the NCAA because of medical hardship), he opted to go pro, signing with Joliet in late June.
Alsup showed the same plus stuff with Joliet that he had displayed at UT-Martin, but he also reminded observers that he's still quite raw. Alsup touched 97 at his best in college ball this spring, so he has premium velocity, and he was consistently sitting 92-94 mph day in and day out with Joliet. He also has sharpened his 84-86 mph slider, which proved to be a viable second pitch.
As you would expect with a pitcher with less than so few innings of experience (less than 100 innings in his college career), Alsup struggles to repeat his delivery and maintain a consistent release point. He strained a lat muscle that made it difficult for him to keep the ball down with Joliet, but he pitched through the injury and maintained his effectiveness despite struggles with his command.
The biggest question mark for Alsup is his health. If he can stay healthy and work with a pitching coach to improve the consistency of his delivery, his stuff is good enough to get affiliated hitters out.
"I think he'll pitch in the big leagues someday," Joliet manager Chad Parker said.
I think I am most interested in Pastornicky out there.
Freeman will hit. I hope he kills it in the AFL, but I think he is ready for the bigs.
Speaking of Freeman, he is the only Brave to qualify for the top 20 IL prospects (Minor did not have ehough IP). Check out the list of the first 8. It's as strong list, but I think it says something that BA has Freddie ahead of Jennings and Alvarez. I added a couple of comments on Freeman from the write up.
1.Carlos Santana, c, Columbus Clippers (Indians)2. Jeremy Hellickson, rhp, Durham Bulls (Rays)3. Aroldis Chapman, lhp, Louisville Bats (Reds)4. Jesus Montero, c, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees5. Freddie Freeman, 1b, Gwinnett Braves6. Zach Britton, lhp, Norfolk Tides (Orioles)7. Desmond Jennings, of, Durham Bulls (Rays)8. Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Freeman generates excellent raw power with his bat speed and the leverage in his swing.
“He struggled early, like any 20-year-old would,” Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said. “But he continues to impress us with his offensive production. He has really made some good offensive adjustments. He has a great understanding of the game.”
No...but I think Freeman is really underrated.
I think Hosmer will get ranked ahead of him, which I understand. Maybe even Morrison.
I think it's more of a stretch, but some might rank Belt and Singleton ahead of him too.
Did I forget anyone?
Lots of Q&A from John Sickels' site. This is about a week old.
Q) Rank Em Based on their future for over the next 5-8 years.Zach Britton, Randell Delgado, Shelby Miller, Matt Moore, Lamb Lyles
A) Moore, Lamb, Miller, Delgado, Lyles, Britton
Q) Would you make this trade? Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Freddie Freeman for Adrian Gonzalez
A) ?? Well I don’t know what you mean here…do I do this if I am the Padres? Help yes. Do I do this if I am the Braves? Probably not….I think Freeman is going to be pretty darn good, and a lot cheaper than Adrian
Q) Of the Braves you listed yesterday (Beachy, Dunn, Freeman, Hanson, Heyward, Hicks, Kimbrel, Medlen, Minor, Jurrjens, Venters), who outperformed your own expectations the most?
A) Oh boy….Beachy, who I knew nothing about pre-season….Venters was a lot better than expected….Minor reallly turned things on quickly.
Q) higher upside:arodys vizcaino or jarred cosart?
A) Hmm…….i’ll still go with Vizcaino, but it is close.
Q) If you had the first pick to start a Major League team with... .. and the universe of all baseball players are available, who would you pick (and a quick why, if you have time)?Note: You’d be starting from scratch, meaning that existing contracts don’t apply anymore.
A) yeah I think i’d go with Albert (Pujols). However, I would strongly consider Jason Heyward too….looking ahead to what he will be like in five or six years, it would be tempting.
Q) Tyler Pastornicky: What did the Braves get in trading for him? Can he be an ML starter?
A) probably a backup MI with speed. Excellent guy to use as a pinch runner…good utility infielder.
Q) Do you find yourself liking or gravitating toward a certain type of skill set in a prospect (or even ML ballplayer)? Evaluated as either an indicator of success or a personal preference, for both pitchers and hitters.For example, I love position prospects with great plate discipline, like Logan Morrison over Chris Carter. I hate high-walk, high-K pitchers (my fear of Oliver Perez-clones reigns supreme).
A) I am aware of my biases. I used to be too focused on walks for hitters above all, but now i see that it isn’t the walks that matter, but walks within the context of everything else….the BB/K/AB ratio is what you have to look at, not just BB. I’m also increasingly drawn to player who don’t strike out very much, especially if they combine low strikeout rate with power.I have a weakness for “scrappy second basemen who play above their tools.”
For pitchers, i love strikeouts strikeouts strikeouts, especially if there are grounders involved too. What I HATE are guys who supposedly have great stuff, but who have low strikeout rates. I am very suspicious of players who supposedly throw hard and have great stuff, but who can’t get guys to swing and miss. Strikeouts are fascist, yes, but I want my pitchers to be fascist.
AFL UPDATE through 5 games:
1B - Freddie Freeman: 1 for 15 (1 hit was a double)
2B - Tyler Pastornicky: 4 for 9 (all singles)
OF - Cory Harrilchalk: 4 for 14 (1 triple)
RP - Michael Broadway: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 1 BB
RP - Kyle Cofield: 1 IP, 1H, 1 ER
RP - Cory Gearrin: 3 IP, 1 H, 3 K, 0 BB
SP - Erik Cordier: 1 GS, 2.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 K, 2 BB
Hmmm. Good thing all these guys are not on the same team.
From a story about A's prospect Michael Taylor, after a win in the AFL:
'Tyler Pastornicky (Braves) collected three hits and two RBIs, while former first-round pick Grant Green (Athletics) contributed an RBI groundout. Cory Harrilchak (Braves) was 3-for-5 and scored a run.
"I've been impressed with his polish," Taylor said of Pastornicky. "He looks like he takes good at-bats and he was squaring balls up and made some smart defensive plays and got some big hits. He should do pretty well here."
Another Braves prospect, Cody Gearrin (1-0), got the win in relief after yielding one hit over two scoreless innings. Starter Carlos Hernandez (A's) tossed three shutout frames and Dodgers farmhand Javy Guerra struck out one in a hitless ninth for the save.'
Drop Gonzalez and give Pastornicky the job, if he can play the position at a high level. He likely won't get any better at fielding than he is now.
Here's Sickels' Top 20 for the Braves. It is very deep and screams that we should trade some minor league arms for hitting. I am higher on Bethancourt and Salcedo and more cautious on Lipka and Perez. My top 6 matches John's exactly, but I think it is fairly obvious, marking a clear drop off that is not seen in the grades. John also seems ready to give more credit to Cunningham and Simmons than I am.
1) Julio Teheran, RHP, Grade A: Second only to Hellickson and Chapman in my view.
2) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Grade A-: Great Triple-A performance at age 20 is rare. You can make a case for a pure Grade A.
3) Mike Minor, LHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. I think he can be a number two starter. Right on the edge between those two grades for me.
4) Randall Delgado, RHP, Grade B+: Can also be a number two guy if all goes well.
5) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Grade B: Would also be a B+ if not for health concerns, but that's enough for me to hold him back a notch.
6) Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Grade B: You can make a B+ case if you don't mind giving that high a grade to relievers. Future closer.
7) Matt Lipka, SS, Grade B: Lots of projection in this grade, but I like the athleticism.
8) Carlos Perez, LHP, Grade B: Great power sinker, but small sample size and some command issues mean I won't go higher than this without more data.
9) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Grade B-: Finished product, can be a number four starter or a very good reliever.
10) J.J. Hoover, RHP, Grade B-: I've been a big Hoover supporter since he was in junior college. I think he can be a durable inning-eater.
11) Andrelton Simmons, SS, Grade B-: Excellent defense and I think the bat has a chance to improve.
12) Michael Dunn, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Should be a valuable reliever, needs to lower the walks.
13) Todd Cunningham, OF, Grade B-: Borderline C+: 2011 will tell us a lot; can his power increase?
14) Edward Salcedo, SS, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Extremely difficult to grade and rank. Grade A tools, Grade D skills, could be a superstar but also has a high chance to be a bust given his hacktastic approach. You could put him as high as number nine depending on what you emphasize as an analyst.
15) Christian Bethancourt, C, Grade C+: Like Salcedo, there is high bust potential here, especially offensively, but he's very young and has all the tools, especially on defense.
16) Scott Diamond, LHP, Grade C+: Could be a very nice number four starter.
17) Steven Kent, LHP, Grade C+: Aggressive ranking, but Australian lefty could break out huge in 2011.
18) Mychal Jones, SS, Grade C+: Not likely to hit for average, but does other things well.
19) Benino Pruneda, RHP, Grade C+: Relief sleeper, good stuff, great K/IP rate, only small size keeps him from being noticed.
20) Joe Leonard, 3B, Grade C+: I can't say I'm hugely impressed yet; defense is rough, needs better strike zone judgment.
21) Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Grade C+: Love the K/BB ratios.
22) Adam Milligan, OF, Grade C+: Love the power potential, but strikes out a lot and health problems have slowed his development.
23) Paul Clemens, RHP, Grade C+: Numbers don't stand out on the surface, but I think he could be a sleeper.
24) Dave Filak, RHP, Grade C+: Interesting small college guy, need to see at higher levels.