A note – The league historically produces uneven results. The parks are the same used in Spring Training Grapefruit League action. They are big for the level, some cavernous (Tampa Bay’s replicates the Yankees’ home park dimensions). Big for the level means oversized based on the mean age for high Single-A players. Power hitters out of the college ranks usually hit more, while the younger power kids can struggle. It’s the opposite for pitchers. Solid pitching prospects usually fare better, even when their control suggests their ERA should take a bigger hit.
Cole Hamels SP Phillies – Hamels leads the league in strikeouts with 24 in 15 and two-third innings, a 1-1 record in three starts that produced a 1.72 ERA on 12 hits and four walks.
Can anyone ague with the statement he’s the best left-handed pitching prospect in the low minors? It’s not reflected in the prospect lists as his past two seasons have been marred with injuries, pitching a total of 35 innings through the period, but that doesn’t alter the fact the statement is arguably true. Now 22, his stay in high Single-A should be short. His Double-A test later this year will be significant. He’s lost development time on his secondary pitches although he has three plus-pitches at present. Control and walk totals could be the result after losing so much time, but the talent is just as likely to surface and handle the test. He’s still a year-plus away and the one thing that needs to be resolved is the health issue. Hopefully it’ll be a season without any further delays.
Kevin Slowey SP Twins – Slowey gets the early stat nod for posting a 23/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 and a third innings with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP while allowing one home run.
The Twins second round pick in 2005 from the college ranks projects well, but perhaps not great. He posted an 84/8 K/BB ratio in 72 innings at low Single-A Beloit last season, a walk rate of less than one per start. His trademark is control and he’s a good size at 6-3, 190 pounds. He’s not a soft-tosser either working at 90-91 with his fastball, but his three-pitch repertoire is currently average; nothing truly stands out except the control. He could wind up eclipsing many of the first round picks if the Twins can refine and further define the breaking pitches as the ability to throw strikes and spot the ball will get him to the majors.
Cody Ehlers 1B Yankees – Ehlers, an 11th round pick in 2004 as a fourth year college player, is leading the FSL in home runs with five and RBI with 19.
He’s old for the level at 24, had never hit with this kind of authority, profiling more toward Doug Mienkewitcz than Albert Pujols, a good defender with no speed, known for his strike zone judgement more than power potential. He gets a mention here for the fast start, but he’ll have to do a whole lot more at higher levels, and quickly as his time prior to this season has been inauspicious.
Ryan Patterson Of Jays – Patterson has four home runs for Dunedin thus far, posting a 9/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a .347/.373/.653 performance.
The 22-year-old is the Jays fourth round pick in 2005 from LSU. His fall in the draft was likely a combination of being undersized for a corner outfielder and a lack of athletic tools. His main weapon is a bat however, and he projects for both average and power. I like him more than most thinking he’s the Jays’ second best position prospect at present behind only Adam Lind. Another of the college position players the FSL currently features that should be moved to Double-A during the year. I don’t see him faltering at this level.
Tyler Greene SS Cardinals – Greene leads the league in strikeouts with 21 through 11 games, a period in which he has six hits, none for extra bases.
The Georgia Tech shortstop was a late first round pick in 2005, although scouts disagree on his upside. Some believe he doesn’t have the bat or the leather for the majors. His first glimpse of pro ball in 2005 did little to dissuade his detractors, and the early results are not good. In fairness the sample here is miniscule and slumps happen, but a 22-year-old is not supposed to falter at this level. Look for better going forward but remember he’s a risk in some good baseball minds.
Mike Ferris 1B Cardinals – Ferris is second in the league with 35 total bases through 13 games. He’s hit four home runs and posted a 14/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The second round pick in 2004 fell flat on his face since turning pro. He’s a little bulky, far shy of gifted athletically and needs a big year. Another college player, he’s now 23 and needs to get through this level immediately. His power is legitimate although the only reason he warrants mention is the fast start.
The big hitting thus far has come from unusual sources save for Patterson. The other Ryans, Braun (Brewers) and Harvey (Cubs), are struggling at present and I’ll wait for one of them to get hot before writing them up.