Once or twice a week I’ll be running box score lines from the lower minors. It’s something I’ve done for the better part of this decade, a write of my thoughts as I look over the box scores. It’s the only method to effectively keep tabs on all the prospects coming up, and much of what I write gets transferred to and from my database of minor leaguers. Many of these will amount to nothing but the only way to successfully get a jump on next year’s prospect list is to follow the work, and much of it will be documented here, stat lines, stat analysis, and scouting notes.
A glimpse of low Single-A on Tuesday with many below the 300-depth line.
Travis Wood P Reds– Wood had a big day on Tuesday for low Single-A Dayton getting the win for a five-inning shutout allowing four hits and a walk while striking out 10. He had a rough introduction to the Midwest league in the opener but has posted a 15/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight and two-third innings thus far.
The Arkansas high school product — chosen in the second round last year by the Reds — is a prospect of note. A southpaw who can routinely control a mid-90s fastball is a rarity, and his changeup currently profiles as his best pitch. The main issue right now is development of secondary pitches as he’s primarily a two-pitch at this point of his young career, with a curveball that’s lagging behind. I hope to get a decent scouting report on his development later in the season. The 19-year-old shouldn’t struggle at this level, but will need time here likely moving to high Single-A at some point in the year. He should be on your watch list as somebody who could rise to a top-50 list in 2007, but like all pitching prognostications in the young, there is the caveat. He won’t get beyond Double-A and Triple-A without hitting a wall, in dire need of a breaking pitch, something the Reds are working on at present.
Jacob Butler OF Blue Jays– Butler hit his first home run for low Single-A Lansing on Tuesday going 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of strikeouts. He’s gone 5-for-19 with 11 total bases to begin the year, along with a 5/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a stolen base.
He was chosen 236th overall in 2005 out of the University of Nevada, and posted a .924 OPS through 66 games last season, his first year of pro ball. Despite his lowish pedigree I think he’s somebody to pay close attention to as a potential strong bat coming up. He’s 23 years old this season and should dominate the level and move quickly.
Cameron Maybin OF Tigers– Maybin went 1-for-4 with a run scored on Tuesday for low Single-A West Michigan. The outing lowered his early batting average to .429.
The 19-year-old is probably the toolsiest player in the low minors and possibly in the top five in all the minors. He’s young for the level but I suspect he’ll get through it without pause. The real test for him will be later, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rise to the top 10 of most prospect lists with a good year, one I’m projecting him for.
Eduardo Baeza P Diamondbacks – Baeza picked up his first win of the year for low Single-A South Bend allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out a half-dozen. He’s now posted a 13/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11 innings and two starts this season.
Honestly I don’t know a great deal about him. He was a 47th round pick in 2004, 1400th overall, out of the junior college ranks. He pitched in the Pioneer League for Missoula
posting some eye-popping numbers from the pen. In 25 appearances and 40 innings he had a 2.25 ERA with 50/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio on 31 hits and four wild pitches. I didn’t look for him last season when he pitched in my region of the world, and don’t have a decent scouting report at present. If anyone would like to fill me in, I’m all ears.
Ryan Crew SS Brewers– Crew went 3-for-4 on Tuesday with a pair of doubles for low Single-A West Virginia.
Crew is a late round pick in 2005 (40th round) out of the University of Texas. He posted a .900 OPS in the 58 games in the Pioneer League last season, similar to his 2005 collegiate total of 1.004 in 58 games as well. Did I mention he was also used as a reliever in college? He’s another to watch this season but don’t get your hopes too high. He obviously has the arm, some power, and a good command of the strike zone, but he needs to move quickly turning 23 this summer, and unlikely to come close to the same defensive prowess as current Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy. Expect a move to third base at some point, possibly to the outfield if he’s able to continue hitting at the higher levels, with Ryan Braun, last year’s first round pick, the premier third base prospect in the organization, one of the best at the position in all of baseball at present.
Jeff Van Houten OF Marlins– Van Houten went 2-for-3 on Tuesday for low Single-A Greensboro with his second home run of the year and a stolen base.
A 13th rounder from 2005 out of the University of Arizona, he’s a slugger with potential but is 23 and needs to make his mark quickly. I expect him to make a dent in his first year of pro ball, but he’ll need to show better command of the strike zone if he’s to rise and succeed at Double-A in the short time frame required for consideration as a legitimate prospect.
David Hernandez P Orioles – Hernandez allowed three unearned runs on Tuesday for low Single-A Delmarva. In five innings he yielded two hits and a pair of walks while striking out seven, and now boasts a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings with a 14/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The 20-year-old was a 16th round pick by the Orioles last summer out of junior college, and might be the late pitching sleeper of the draft class. He got to 93 mph with his fastball last year and has a slider that projects as a plus pitch, both thrown with a loose and fluid motion. He’s a project without a doubt but the high strikeout rate bodes well early with the development of secondary pitches still necessary for him to maintain it at the higher levels. Somebody I’ll be keeping close tabs on this summer.