The Second Opening Day – Double-A

Double-A Eastern League

NEW HAMPSHIRE    AB  R  H BI
Curtis Thigpen C       4  2  1  2   2B

The second round pick in 2004 is a player I like to be a decent hitting catcher and stay one, a rarity these days with so many organizations steering away from creating another Mike Piazza. Catchers are unpredictable but I like his athleticism in combination with a mind to play the position. I think his current gap power will develop into 15-20 home runs at the major level combined with a good average, and strong pitch recognition skills. He’s the catcher of the future in the organization, but shouldn’t be a factor this season, and it would take a remarkable performance for it to happen at the beginning of 2007. Other than that, who could not like that name in a catcher?

Pitching Line Of Note

NEW BRITAIN                           IP  H  R  ER  BB SO HR
Glen Perkins (L,0-1)                  5   2   2   2   1   7   0

The 2004 first-rounder had a rough time in his first look at Double-A in mid-season last year, but it was his first full tour of pro ball. Some like to speak on his difficulties as being the better class of hitter not being fooled, but I don’t agree. Any time workload increases by 33 percent to an all-time high, a tiring effect will be represented in the numbers. And a short rest produced a solid Arizona Fall League, so I’m dismissing that assessment as a reach. The Double-A test is trying at the best of times, without a taxing workload in someone who really isn’t as athletics as many of his peers. I expect it go smoother from this point on. 

Double-A Southern League

WEST TENN          AB  R  H BI
Eric Patterson 2B    4  1  3  2    3B
Brian Dopirak 1B     3  0  1  0
Luis Montanez LF     3  1  1  0

Of the three noted above, I like Patterson to have the better career. He’s less prolific than his older brother Corey was, but they have similar tools and Eric has the better approach and eye at the plate.
Dopirak needs a big year in 2005 to prove his one season wasn’t a fluke. This will silence his detractors, a club which I’m a member of.
Montanez was a third overall pick in 2000 as a high school shortstop. He was terrible but came into his own once they moved him to the outfield. He could actually have a career if he continues the pace he set last season.

Pitching Line Of Note

BIRMINGHAM                   IP  H  R  ER  BB SO HR
R Liotta                           5   6   1   1   2   2  0
Not to bad from Liotta but as noted in a prior entry, I think this will be par for his career, giving up too many hits and nibbling without a dominant out-pitch. He’s a decent pitching prospect, just not a great one in my opinion, a view not shared by everyone. 

Double A Texas League

CORPUS CHRISTI   AB  R  H BI
J House C               4  1  1  1   HR

J.R. House is attempting a comeback at Double-A with the Astros. Yes, really. And he’s catching and hit his first home run of the year.
If he can stay healthy he can hit, no question. At age 26, it seems unlikely yet it’s not really, as many at the position emerge later. And the Astros could use his bat if he can stay healthy and put some numbers on the board in the minors. Strange as that seems, it’s still a possibility. If he can stay healthy. Did I mention if he can stay healthy? If only..

Genetics Watch

SAN ANTONIO (Mariners)AB  R  H BI
Michael Garciaparra 2B   4  0  0  0
FRISCO (Rangers)
Jake Blalock LF               3  2  2  1  Home run
TULSA
Joe Gaetti DH                7  2  2  2

The young Garciaparra is now playing second base and actually started to hit in 2005, at roughly the same age his older brother began to show skills with the bat. With Nomar it was a rare explosion that I can’t project for Michael. But I thought it was worth noting even if I don’t believe it can come to fruition.

Blalock is now 22 and has never come close to matching his older brother’s stats. Now reunited by organization with his brother, it isn’t likely to change, but one never knows. Sometimes the real player shows up late, and he does have genetics on his side.

Joe Gaetti is the son of Gary Gaetti, the long time Minnesota Twin third baseman and 19-year major league veteran. I actually owned him in a fantasy league a very long time ago when he hit 35 home runs. Joe, a 12th round college pick in 2003 exploded in 2005 as an overage 23-year-old in high Single-A posting a 1.023 OPS in a full season. As an overage college player who has but one year of success, his window is small but a same showing at Double-A will make him a part of the prospect landscape. But there are questions with a swing-and-miss approach and a loopy motion similar to his father’s, who had a long but inconsistent career. 

Dan Quon

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