By Mark Cooper
In January I was invited to participate in The Devil’s Rejects, a very deep keeper league in its second year of existence. Each week I’ll update you on how I’m managing my team, the PSU Pride, and bring you along as I scout and rate players.
Last week I was supposed to finish my critique of the Futures Game. Alas, I got a little excited about some prospects I had scouted and chose to write about them instead. You’re supposed to finish what you started, so here is my critique of the U.S. team. My opinion of the World team can be found here: http://rotoexperts.com/article2062.html
JARRED COSART, PHI, A: This is a Fantasy column so I won’t talk about Cosart’s relationship woes. Google that for yourself. As for his prospect status, Cosart, 21, continues to impress with stuff that Baseball America has described as “electric.” A few years ago I took part in a dynasty league in which the name of my team was “Sweet Swingers and Electric Arms.” Doing a search using the terms “Baseball Prospect” and “Electric Arm” would have likely uncovered Cosart. In 2009 and 2010 he struck out more than a batter an inning and gave up few hits. However, his 2011 looks a bit underwhelming. He’s still giving up few hits, but his walks are up and his strikeouts are down. While I would prefer to scout Cosart in person, I have no choice other than to look at his 2011 numbers and say that something appears to be amiss. 60-eight strikeouts in 92 innings simply does not make a No. 1 starter.
KYLE GIBSON, MIN, AAA: I’m not sure whether the Twins know how to draft or know how to develop pitchers. Whatever the case, Gibson, 23, is a top pitching prospect for the Twins, which is reason enough to pay attention. His fastball isn’t his primary weapon, which is why he doesn’t project as a No. 1. According to Baseball America, Gibson’s floor — and this is a pretty glowing statement — is a No. 3 starter. His slider, change, command/control and delivery all grade as above-MLB average. His Triple-A numbers show that he needs more seasoning. Nevertheless, he’ll likely be up sometime this season.
MATT HARVEY, NYM, AA: Going into 2011 the knock against Harvey, according to Baseball Prospectus, was that he was too inconsistent. The returns are still early, but it appears that Harvey, a first-round pick in 2010, may have silenced some of those critics. He was arguably the top pitcher in High-A before getting promoted to Double-A. That he is now struggling could mean that Harvey, who has front-of-the-rotation stuff, was dominating younger competition. No matter, he still remains a pitcher to watch and will likely crack many postseason Top 100 lists.
SHELBY MILLER, STL, AA: There are a lot of things here that get me excited. Miller, 20, didn’t stumble despite a midseason promotion to Double-A. He also happens to be from Texas, and if you’ve been a faithful reader then you know I have an affinity for pitchers from the Lonestar State. I am also confident that Dave Duncan, who salvages journeymen hurlers, will have no trouble developing a prized prospect like Miller. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein wrote recently that Miller needs to tweak his arsenal to project as a “true ace.” With no tweaking, Goldstein thought Miller’s floor was Matt Cain. That’s pretty good.
MATT MOORE, TB, AA: BA’s J.J. Cooper, no relation, said in a recent chat that he would prefer Moore, 22, over any SP prospect because “(he) is going to be a star.” He leads the minors in strikeouts almost every year, and he can command three plus pitches. Publications have described his arm as “electric.” The Rays’ wealth of pitching borders on ridiculous.
BRAD PEACOCK, WAS, AA: Prior to 2011, Peacock profiled as a reliever. However, because of improvements this season, particularly better fastball command and a more deceptive delivery, some think he could pitch in the middle of a rotation. The 23-year-old is 10-2 at Double-A, with 129 strikeouts and 23 walks in only 98.2 innings. I’ve read in numerous places that Peacock could be called up by September. As an aside, RotoExperts colleague Mike Rathburn scouted Peacock during Sunday’s Futures Game and came away impressed.
DREW POMERANZ, CLE, A: BA says he could become a frontline starter if he improves his changeup, his control and his command. I have to overlook those shortcomings because Pomeranz is left-handed – I have an affinity for southpaws — and because he was considered by most to be the top college pitcher in the 2010 draft. A lefty with a plus curve and a plus fastball that touches 95 mph? That’s a lot to like. He still has work to do, as he’s walked 32 in 77 innings at High-A.
TYLER SKAGGS, ARI, A: Some say Skaggs’ floor is a No. 3 while others think it’s near the back of a rotation. All agree, however, that he could be a frontline starter if he improves his changeup and fastball, both of which lag behind his curve, which is considered the system’s best.
TYLER THORNBURG, MIL, A: BA compares Thornburg, 22, to Tim Lincecum because of his height and his delivery. Thornburg has a long way to go before he’s Lincecum, though. It appears as if Thornburg’s curve is his only plus pitch. His fastball lights up the radar gun, but it has no life, and his change is still a work-in-progress. He has remained in the rotation at High-A Brevard County, where he was recently promoted, though he appears destined for the bullpen.
JACOB TURNER, DET, AA: Last year the Tigers challenged Turner, then 19, with a midseason promotion to High-A. He shined, striking out 51 and walking only 14 in 61 innings. He was expected to begin 2011 back in High-A but instead was moved up to Double-A, where he continues to hold his own. His fastball is already a plus pitch, and his curve and change show promise. Most scouts agree that he has the stuff to front a rotation. BP called him a “flamethrower” and the “jewel” of Detroit’s system. Turner walked only 23 in 115 innings last year. BA said he has a higher ceiling than Rick Porcello.
DEVIN MESORACO, CIN, AAA: He was a prospect darling a few years ago, then struggled and was probably cut in most leagues. He broke out again in 2010 by batting .302/.377/.587. His swing is a bit long and his defence needs work. BA says he has plus power and will hit for a solid average. He’s farther along than 2010 first-round pick Yasmani Grandal and will be an asset at catcher as long as his defence allows him to stay behind the plate.
AUSTIN ROMINE, NYY, AA: Take what you’ve read about Romine and put it through the Yankees’ filter. After all, even the worst Yankees’ prospects are overhyped simply because they wear pinstripes. The truth is that Romine could be used as trade bait considering the Yankees appear poised to keep Jesus Montero at catcher despite his defensive shortcomings. His game appears to be more well-rounded than Montero’s. However, Montero has the makings of a star, leaving Romine nowhere to play.
NOLAN ARENADO, COL, A: He hits for a high average, gets on base and last year had 41 doubles. He may need to walk more, though that has yet to affect his production. Scouts see Arenado, 20, as a middle-of-the-order hitter. He could be forced to move to first, though, because of what BA describes as below-average speed and poor range.
TIM BECKHAM, TB, AA: Aaron Boone and Rick Sutcliffe hinted during Sunday’s Futures Game that Beckham profiled as a backup infielder. I didn’t hear their reasoning, but according to BA, Beckham isn’t athletic enough to remain at short and his bat isn’t big enough for third. Don’t forget, though, that Beckham was taken with the first pick of the 2008 draft, so he’ll be given multiple chances. He’s being advanced one level a year, which seems normal for a position player taken out of high school. However, he has yet to impress at any stop. I have a feeling on this one, but I can’t call Beckham a bust just yet.
JAMES DARNELL, SD, AAA: The opinion that Darnell doesn’t have the defence to play third is almost universal. However, if by some chance he stayed at the position he could see himself on multiple All-Star teams. What’s not to like? The 24-year-old hit .333 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs in 76 Double-A games before a recent promotion. More important, Darnell continues to show an uncanny ability to get on base (.434). Prospects like Darnell, with such an advanced knowledge of the strike zone, are simply few and far between. His bat will still play in the outfield but wow … if he could only stay at third.
PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, ARI, AA: How big his bat will be when he gets to Arizona is the question. Assigned to High-A in 2010, Goldschmidt hit for average (.314) and power (35 homers), and he got on base at a .384 clip. Some would say that was expected since Goldschmidt was a college product. In 2011, Goldschmidt was bumped up to Double-A, where his numbers continue to look like something out of a video game. In 308 at-bats, he has 25 homers and 78 RBIs and continues to get on base (.434). What’s more impressive is that Goldschmidt has cut down on the strikeouts. In 2010, he had 161 strikeouts and 57 walks in 525 at-bats. In 2011, he has 72 strikeouts and 63 walks in 308 at-bats. Some scouts don’t think Goldschmidt can maintain these numbers in Arizona. A fellow RotoExperts colleague and I both thought Goldschmidt looked small while playing in Sunday’s Futures Game. On a related note, GM Kevin Towers said recently that Goldschmidt could be called up near the All-Star break.
Because I am so long-winded, I will critique the other eight players from the U.S. team next week.
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