Leader Board Notes – Triple-A Pacific Coast League

Dustin Moseley SP Angels – Moseley has been profiled in this blog as a forgotten prospect, and he gets a second mention for beginning the year 3-0 in three starts for Triple-A Salt Lake. In 17 innings he’s posted a 1.59 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a 17/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Numbers similar to these for an extended period could revive his former prospect status, although he projects lower than Ervin Santana.

Three young closers, Jonathon Broxton (Dodgers), David Aardsma (Cubs), and Merkin Valdez (Giants) each have a pair of saves, while Aardsma and Broxton have been lights out, neither having given up a run. Aardsma has been called up for a stretch in the major league bullpen, while the Dodgers have wisely resisted making the move thus far, even though their bullpen has suffered a couple of major injuries. As mentioned, Broxton isn’t ready but his 0.83 WHIP and 10/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio through six innings is an indicator of his talent and stuff.

Chad Billingsley SP Dodgers – Billingsley is tied with Edison Volzquez for second in strikeouts with 19 behind Kyle Denny’s 20. I guess it wouldn’t be a stretch to call the 21-year-old the best pitching prospect not in the majors at present with Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Francisco Liriano breaking camp with their respective teams. He doesn’t throw as hard  — able to touch the mid-90s but usually working 92-93 – but I think he scores higher in the other aspects. I expect him to have some difficulties this season, the PCL test can be brutal for young pitchers at times, especially those who could use further development in the area of control. I keep coming back to Billingsley being similar to Roy Halladay in many ways, although it’s differing enough to avoid the comparison.

Reynel Pinto P Marlins – Pinto leads the league in walks posting a 14/14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three starts, 14 and two-third innings. His stuff is good enough it hasn’t hurt him that much as he’s 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA.  I mentioned him in my first blog entry as being more likely to become a left-handed specialist in the majors because of the control issue. His early line makes this observation look prophetic, but the numbers against the skills leading into the season suggested it, and his previous times in the PCL produced a K/BB ratio exactly the same.

Justin Leone 3B Padres – Leone had a monster spring training campaign and it’s carried over to Triple-A as he leads in most of the important stat categories with a .489/.558/ 1.000 performance, seven home runs and 18 RBI in 12 games. The 29-year-old journeyman is one of those players that makes the PCL a pitchers nightmare, but he’s a dead fastball hitter that is exploited by major league pitching. He gets a notation here because of who he plays for and the unlikelihood that incumbent third baseman, Vinny Castilla, will stay healthy a full season at his age.

Trailing Leone in RBI are the two brothers, Wily Aybar (Dodgers) with 17 and Erik (Angels) at 16. I’ve mentioned I like Wily more than many who believe he’s at best a utility guy, but I think a power spike  — possible at his age and skill-set — playing second base in the minors could have him as a candidate long term. I don’t consider him in the same category as Howie Kendrick but he is out-performing him in the PCL at present. Both are tearing it up but Aybar’s got the early lead with a .423/.475/.712 performance and four home runs.

Erik needs a good year as a sold infield prospect in an organization that has a couple great ones. He may be auditioning for another team with Orlando Cabrera signed through 2008 and Brandon Wood lower in the minors but coming. The one thing he’s not done as well as his brother is take a walk and this season is no exception with an 8/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11 games. Look for a trade this year if everything goes well.

Dallas McPherson 3B Angels – McPherson leads the league in strikeouts with a ******** 26 through 12 games. That number is huge even for him and he’s hitting just .213 with a home run. The 25-year-old has always been consistent with his inconsistencies. He should go on a tear around May 1 and it’ll probably be a long one. David Wright was also prone to this in his minor league career as well as a host of major league All-Stars early in their career. It’s not that indicting by itself, the strike zone issue is usually the last hurdle in development for these types, but it’s not a great signature either. He’s still probably in the mix for infield/DH time this year, the question that remains is whether the club trades him as well, preferring Chone Figgins defense at third base, or move Figgins permanently to centerfield with Darin Erstad moving on after this season. The latter seems the more likely, but the Angels are the big-market team in the AL West and could choose to get a big name centerfielder to match.

Justin Huber 1B Royals – Huber has begun to warm and is tied for second in home runs with teammate Aaron Guiel, behind the aforementioned Leone. The fact he has only seven RBI on the year is a more an indictment on the organization and Omaha, than his ability. We’re sure to hear the free the prospect speeches in short order for Huber. He’s at a solid .359/.479/.769 through the first 13 games, and Mike Sweeney is nicked up and struggling at present. I’ve mentioned I don’t think Huber is a huge first base prospect but he is a good one and could help the club’s anaemic hitting the next time Sweeney heads to the DL.

Dan Quon

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