Archive for June 29th, 2008

The Best and the Brightest: Prospects Who Are Friggin’ Awesome In The Majors, Part 2

Many of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects continue to see steady playing time in the major leagues; unofficially, I count 40 who have gotten themselves into a game this season.  Some, like Geovany Soto, have performed admirably for long stretches at a time; others, like Homer Bailey, got a shot but proved that they weren’t quite ready for The Show.

In keeping with the tradition started in early May, I’ve run through the game logs of every Top 100 prospect who has played in the majors this season and highlighted the best outings (one caveat: players are only allowed one entry on the list).  The first seven are holdovers from the previous list, in chronologial order; the bottom three are newcomers, the best prospect games since May 9.

Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs): March 31 – 3-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Johnny Cueto (Reds): April 3 – 7 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 10 SO
Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox): April 22 – 3-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 RS
Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks): April 29 – 4.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 SO
Geovany Soto (Cubs): April 30 – 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS
Carlos Gomez (Twins): May 7 – 4-6, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 RS
Joey Votto (Reds): May 7 – 3-4, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 RS

Evan Longoria (Rays): May 24 – 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS
Jay Bruce (Reds): May 31 – 3-5, HR, RBI, 3 RS, walk-off homerun
Ian Stewart (Rockies): June 13 – 2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 RS

I’m still not sure what will happen with these as the season progresses.  If the interest is there, we might put it to a vote at the end of the year and determine the best Major League Performance By A Top 100 Prospect, or something of that nature (I like the idea of year-end awards, now that I mention it…).  Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

I Say They Promote Him Now…Can’t Hurt, Can It?

It’s been a good weekend for guys named Collin.  The ones with two L’s, anyway.

Earlier, we learned that Washington Nationals prospect Collin Balester will make his major league debut on Tuesday (fact: he will be the first Collin in major league history, and only the third variant of the name Colin).  Today, MiLB.com points out the torrid start being enjoyed by Collin Cowgill, Arizona’s fifth round pick in this year’s draft. 

An All-American at Kentucky, Cowgill is hitting .267 with six homeruns and 18 runs batted in through his first eleven games with Yakima (Low A-Northwest League).  The latter two numbers lead the league, although his 1.100 OPS is only good for third, trailing Bobby Verbick (1.232) and the incredibly named Rebel Ridling (1.141), both of whom are hitting over .400 and thus have significantly higher on-base-percentages.

If this keeps up, we can expect to see Cowgill listed as one of Arizona’s top prospects next season.

Now Pitching For The Washington Nationals…

I want to give Collin Balester a nickname so badly, I can taste it.  And not just any nickname – it needs to be a GOOD nickname.

Don’t ask me why this needs to happen.  If you do, I won’t have a good answer for you.  It’s just something about the name – Collin Balester – that screams, “Please bestow upon me a shortened name by which the masses may come to know and love me!”

Big Red?  Unoriginal.  Ballin’?  Maybe.  The Baler?  So dumb I can’t even believe I just typed it.  Radio?  Possibly.  The Last Expo?  Has potential.  None of the above?  Likely.

Anyway…Balester, a member of the Montreal Expos’ last draft class prior to the big move to Washington and the 85th ranked player on Baseball America’s preseason prospect list, was named as the Nationals’ starter for Tuesday’s game against the Florida Marlins.  He earned the trip to The Show over the last month, winning five consecutive decisions for AAA Columbus.  Overall, he was 9-3 with a 4.00 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 78.2 innings.

Last season, Balester allowed 12 homeruns in 150.1 innings between AA Harrisburg and AAA Columbus; thus far in 2008, he has allowed 14 homeruns in 78.2 innings.  I’m not sure if this is an area of concern or not – most of the longballs came in May (9 in 33 innings), so maybe it was an isolated issue that has since been corrected.  Just thought I’d mention it in case the bug bites again at the major league level.  He did have some problems of a mechanical nature back at the start of the 2006 season:

“I started out slow. I was trying to work on a couple of mechanical things. They were working out a little bit, but I was leaving the ball up a lot and kind of getting hit around the park,” he said. “Then I started to go back to how I was pitching before and I felt good, I got the right attitude. I went on a roll. The numbers didn’t show, but I felt that I worked hard and got through adversity.”

And while we’re quoting old articles to explain what Balester is all about, how about this one, from the same March 2007 piece as above. 

“I have no fear. I will challenge anybody. I’m not afraid to fail. Failure is not a thing I’m scared of,” Balester said. “I will challenge a guy inside. I’m just not afraid. I pitch to contact. I’m not trying to strike out anybody. I’m trying to keep my pitch count low and go deep into the ballgame and help my team to win.”

Maybe my first thought for a nickname, which I didn’t even bother to include above, wasn’t so bad after all: The Balls (with all due respect to both Ron Burgundy and AJ Daulerio, of course).