Double-A Pitching Report And The Prospect Injury Watch

I got a chance to watch the pitching matchup between Double-A Reading’s Gio Gonzalez and Altoona’s Matt Peterson on Thursday thanks to MiLB’s game streaming. As a prospect guy in the Northwest, I don’t get many opportunities to scout some of the teams and players and this new feature is going to be great, cheap at $19.95 for the season.

Gio Gonzalez

The camera coverage isn’t bad and I was able to get a good feel watching the pitchers from the behind-view. Gonzalez pitched seven shutout innings allowing five hits (one double) and a pair of walks while striking out seven. He’s now gone 12 scoreless innings with seven hits and a 13/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

There have been some negatives reports on his attitude, or more specifically, his cockiness, but he’s a definite prospect. He’s also prone to the flaw of many young power southpaws, as he can get out of sync easily. But that wasn’t in evidence much on Thursday. He reminds me a little of Oliver Perez at the same age. They’re similar in stature and fastball, Perez tended to overthrow at times and I saw the same trait in Gonzalez. But I loved his curveball and suspect the team will need to convince him to be a little less concerned with velocity and utilize the curve more efficiently at the major league level or risk injury. I see the same upside however with all the negatives of the former Padres prospect attached as well. A solid top-100 prospect on the move up, but behind Cole Hamels for ultimate upside.

Matt Peterson

Peterson is less exciting than Gonzalez and has struggled since coming to the Bucs in the Kris Benson deal. He first hit Double-A back in 2003 and should have advanced by now, and is old for the level at 24. His velocity fell into the high 80s from 93 mph, and the walk totals increased dramatically suggesting mechanical issues.

But his velocity was back on Thursday from my viewpoint, at least 90 mph. I liked his curve more and thought the changeup was outstanding, routinely inducing weak ground balls. Another shutout performance has him at zero for two starts and 11 innings, while the two-hit performance leaves him with just five on the season with six strikeouts and a walk.
He’s not a blow-you-away type of pitcher, and has a fair bit to prove in 2006, needing a strong start and a promotion to re-enter the prospect picture in Pittsburgh. We’ll reassess his chances after he makes it to Triple-A assuming he continues his strong campaign and the coaches can keep his mechanics in line.

Injury Update
Brian Dopirak

Dopirak will miss six to eight weeks after Tuesday’s surgery to repair a broken right foot, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The paper also discussed his spring training and status as one of the team’s top prospects, but I don’t see that coming to fruition. He’s had the single season of success in 2004, and then regressed in 2005. Now hurt and unlikely to ever handle a switch to the outfield, the club will eventually move him. Despite the top-drawer power potential I don’t think his discipline is enough to consider him a major prospect at this time, and still prefer Ryan Harvey for the big bat in the Cubs organization.

Justin Upton

Farm director A.J. Hinch said Upton, who has been slowed by a shoulder injury, will begin playing in extended spring training games on Friday, the Arizona Republic reports.

Hinch said Upton will play at least a week’s worth of games before making his debut at low Single-A South Bend. A. J. Hinch, the former A’s catcher who couldn’t hit a lick, forgot about him.
Upton will begin his career as a centerfielder. He should handle the switch from shortstop without difficulty. He initially profiles better than his brother offensively, and he should become a five-tool force. Still a top prospect despite the position change.

Dan Quon

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