StrategyApril 14, 2009

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Future Rookies: Early to Rise

By R.J. White

Minor-league baseball is underway, and Future Rookies is here to keep you up-to-date on the goings-on of MiLB. Today we’ll review the players I featured last week, touch on a few players that have started off hot, and give you a couple more top prospects to watch out for this season. As always, you can e-mail questions or comments to or post in the Article Discussion thread (link at end of article).

Now Available!

As noted in yesterday’s Mail Call, Gordon Beckham is now in the Yahoo database. After a huge year at the University of Georgia, Beckham excelled in limited time in Single-A at the end of 2008. He’s seeing the ball very well during the first week, turning in a .444/.500/.556 line in 18 early at-bats. He might rise to Triple-A sometime this season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting for Chicago on Opening Day 2010.

Featured Add – Hitter

Gaby Sanchez, 1B, FLA, Age 25, Triple-A

2008 AA478701792176970.314.404.513.917
2009 AAA20515004.450.450.6501.100

Sanchez was the early favorite to win the starting first base job for the Marlins, seemingly in a battle with Dallas McPherson for the other corner infielder spot opposite Jorge Cantu. As it turns out, Florida sent Sanchez down and designated McPherson for assignment, giving the third base job to the “Sultan of Speed,” Emilio Bonifacio. But with no track record of success for Bonifacio in the majors, there’s still a good chance we’ll see Sanchez sooner or later. I’ll also point out that Cantu could fail to repeat his impressive 2008 and find himself on the bench in place of Sanchez.

So how good is Gaby Sanchez? He was fantastic in Single-A in 2006, with a 1.050 OPS in nearly 200 at-bats. After a solid line in High-A in 2007, he broke out in Double-A, turning in the .300/.400/.500 line that general managers drool over while surprisingly adding 17 stolen bases. His 70/69 K/BB ratio foreshadows the ability to hit for a high average in the majors due to a selective plate approach. Though he hasn’t taken any walks yet, he’s off to a great start in his first 20 at-bats. If the Marlins predictably fall out of the NL East race quickly, Sanchez could see some time in Florida and could succeed immediately.

Hitter Performance Review (as of 4/12/09)


Matt LaPortaAAA8412001.625.6671.5002.167
Brett WallaceAA15426023.333.524.7331.257
Andrew McCutchenAAA18301232.278.381.444.825
Alcides EscobarAAA17301134.294.400.353.753
Kyle BlanksAAA15312024.267.389.533.922

Other Yahoo-available Hitters Review

Nolan Reimold and Mat Gamel are raking early on, with Reimold smacking two home runs and adding a stolen base in his first 13 at-bats and Gamel scorching the ball to the tune of a .563/.600/.938 line in 16 at-bats. Lars Anderson, Kila Ka’aihue, and Max Ramirez have all started slow.

Featured Add – Pitcher

Junichi Tazawa, SP, BOS, Age 23, Double-A

2009 AA5.01.801.00017

I almost wrote about Tazawa in the first column but ultimately deciding against it, feeling he was a little too far away from the majors and had too many pitchers ahead of him on the Boston depth chart. If his first start is any indication, I might have sold him short. His only blemish on the night was a two-out double to Brett Pill that scored a run. He might have actually proved that he already belongs in Triple-A, but the Red Sox are likely to take it easy with him, as they have no immediate need in the rotation.

Pitcher Performance Review (as of 4/12/09)


Tommy HansonAAA4.10.001.150210
Michael BowdenAAA4.20.000.86025
Jeremy HellicksonAA5.00.000.60013

Other Yahoo-available Pitchers Review

Chris Tillman and Derek Holland made my initial Featured Adds but hadn’t pitched as of Sunday. Neither had Wade Davis and Jarrod Parker. Brian Matusz was average in his first start, with two earned runs in 4.2 innings, including four strikeouts and two walks. Neftali Feliz was his normal wild self, hurling four scoreless innings despite six walks. Carlos Carrasco impressed with six strikeouts and no walks in six scoreless innings, and the Phillies should need him in the majors at some point this season.

Non-available Player Notes

Josh Reddick (BOS, AA) homered in three consecutive games for Portland. He’s blocked on the depth chart, but he also flashed power last year and could be a trade target. Cody Johnson (ATL, A+) opened the season with a three-game homer streak. Jake Arrieta (BAL, AA) shined in his first start, striking out eight in four innings while allowing two walks and one hit. Madison Bumgarner (SF, A+) posted five strikeouts and no walks in six innings of two-hit ball. Gregory Infante (CHW, A) turned in the start of the week, with six innings of no-hit dominance, highlighted by 11 strikeouts.

Minor League Non-Rookies

Ian Kennedy dominated for six innings in his first Triple-A start of 2009, racking up 11 strikeouts while not walking a batter. The Yankees added pitching in the offseason, but injury concerns remain and Kennedy will get another opportunity in New York if he continues to excel. Charlie Morton had an amazing 12 strikeouts in his six innings. He could fill Tom Glavine’s spot in the rotation if Glavine’s arm doesn’t hold up. Chris Perez notched a save and hasn’t allowed a hit in three innings. Don’t forget about him, as the St. Louis closer job looks to be up in the air. Brandon Wood’s only three hits so far are a triple and two home runs, and Erick Aybar isn’t exactly taking the American league by storm.

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R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
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