Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BD Hot Stove: AL West Prospects | Baseball Digest

It's only a matter of time before Mike Trout is shredding MLB pitching

BD Hot Stove: AL West Prospects | Baseball Digest

It’s time for the Hot Stove to switch over the Junior Circuit to take a look at the top prospects in the American League. Let’s begin with the AL West, which produced the last two AL Rookie of the Year Award winners (Neftali Feliz, Andrew Bailey). In fact, the West has produced 44% (11/25) of the AL winners since 1985.

Mariners: Seattle is doing their best not to rush Dustin Ackley to the major leagues, but considering the Mariners’ horrendous 2010 season, it’s easier said than done. The 2nd overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft (U of NC) played 82 games at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A for 52 games. His average was pedestrian – .267, but Ackley drew 75 walks and slugged .407. Ackley’s season wasn’t done though; he went on to the Arizona Fall League and was named MVP after putting up a remarkable .424/.581/.758 split. His numbers included four home runs, 26 walks, 10 doubles, 19 RBI, and five stolen bases.

Ackley, the #5 prospect in the bigs according to, is destinted to play 2nd base for the Mariners. The question is whether it will be this year or next year.

Rangers: Having a stud left-hander at the top of the rotation helped Texas reach the World Series for the first time last season. The Rangers hope Martin Perez can be that guy some day. Signed out of Venezuela in 2007, Perez made a big splash on the scene in rookie and ‘A’ ball, but has yet to master the Double-A level. The soon-to-be 20 year old has nasty stuff, but doesn’t have complete command as of yet (101 K’s, but 50 BB in 99-2/3 innings last season).

ESPN’s Keith Law had this to say about Perez last summer, “He’s stumbling a little, especially with control, although one brutal outing on June 18 spiked his ERA by a run. If Texas dangled him in a trade, they could probably name their price, given how good he is and how highly regarded he is by other clubs.”

Perez has a four-seam fastball that is from the low- to mid-90′s, a sharp breaking curve, and a good changeup. Jason Parks of Baseball Times compares Perez to a mix of Johan Santana and Greg Maddux. Texas should be so lucky.

Athletics: Grant Green said “no thanks” to the San Diego Padres when they made him their 14th round pick out of high school. Green wisely waited and became the 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft by Oakland out of USC. The 6’3″ shortstop made an immediate impression last year in his first full season in the minors. Playing for Advanced ‘A’ Stockton, Green smacked 20 home runs, drove in 87 runs, hit .318, slugged .520, and scored 107 runs. Some naysayers point to the fact that the Cal League’s hitter-friendly environs aided Green and that his low walk (38)/high strikeout counts (117) are a better indicator of his ability. Green will have the chance in Double-A this season to prove them wrong.

Green’s defense, however, is a concern to all who have scouted him, and there’s every reason to believe that shortstop will not be the position he plays if and when he makes it to the majors.

Angels: The last prospect the Hot Stove will take a look at today is the best prospect in all of baseball.Mike Trout is ranked as the #1 guy by, Baseball America, and others. Drafted out of Millville (NJ) High School (25th overall) in 2009, Trout has torn up opposing pitching in his two seasons in the minors. Just 19-yrs old, the outfielder has a .344 career average and .915 OPS. Last season, in addition to hitting .341 at ‘A’ and Advanced ‘A’ ball, Trout drew 73 walks and showed some developing power (10 HR). Oh, and the kid is fast, too…he stole 56 bases, which aided him in scoring 106 runs.

Trout is 6’1″, 217 lbs, and has the build of a more veteran player. MLB Fanhouse’s Frank Piliere had this to say about the centerfielder’s swing, “Many young hitters struggle to learn to trust their hands and they continue to lunge at off-speed pitches. That hasn’t been an issue for Trout and, in fact, it’s a strength. Trout showed me that he was able to lay off some tough pitches, and if a pitcher came in the zone with a breaking ball he was able to lay back and use his hands very well. He isn’t just staying back and hitting singles to right field either. He’s driving the ball with authority into the gaps on these pitches.

In other words, Trout is not a guy you have to worry about being a pure fastball hitter as he moves up the ladder. He has the luxury of excellent bat speed, plus a calm approach and demeanor at the plate, so that he can trust himself to still be able to turn around the fastball if he gets it. There aren’t many players out there that profile as pure high-average hitters, but he is one of them. From what I saw in Peoria, Trout has the look of a perennial .300 hitter, and given his speed, he is a potential batting title contender. With his feel with the bat head, plus bat speed and good pitch selection, I could also see him developing into a 25-homer threat.”

The question is not whether Trout can play Major League Baseball, the question is how soon he will arrive.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

Alfredo Aceves has signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, reportedly worth $650K with another $100K available through incentives. Aceves had been non-tendered by the Yankees in December after breaking his clavicle while riding a bicycle. The Red Sox also signed lefty Dennis Reyes to a minor league contract.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays are interested in moving Juan Rivera and his $5.25M salary. Rivera was acquired as part of a package from the Angels in the Vernon Wells deal. The Jays already moved Mike Napoli who was also picked up in the trade.

The Mets signed veteran left-hander Casey Fossum to a minor league deal.

Once a highly touted prospect, 1st baseman Ryan Shealy has inked a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.

The Pirates’ Ross Ohlendorf beat the team in an arbitration hearing and will earn $2.025M this season.

The Yankees added veteran right-hander Luis Ayala to their compilation of minor league pitchers. The Giants did the same with Elmer Dessens.

1 comment:

  1. Luis Ignacio Ayala was pretty good this year in the mexican winter league, and went on to play in the Caribbean Series, he pitched very very very well for México who won the series facing Puerto Rico, República Dominicana and Venezuela.

    He was so good that Caribbean Series MVP, Jorge “el chato” Vázquez (yanks minor leaguer and hit two homeruns to give México two games, one of them went to the parking lot), gave his trophy to Luis Ignacio Ayala, because Vázquez said he and his teammates felt that Ayala did a pretty good job shutting down their rivals.

    Jorge Vázquez monster shot:

    Jorge Vázquez other shot, in the 9th inning vs Dominican Republic: