Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scott Thorman community project at Minor League Ball

Just thought I would direct your attention to a relevant piece over at John Sickel's site, minorleagueball.com.

Scott Thorman Community Projection

For what it's worth, I'd say that Thorman will have a similar career path to Adam LaRoche. LaRoche was surprisingly given the starting job, at least against right-handers, in 2004 after a solid 2003 in both Greenville and Richmond. Scott Thorman had an all-star season in Richmond last year and looks to be given the same job Adam did in '04. Craig Wilson may serve as the "Julio Franco" to Thorman while he develops into a full-time player.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Major league and minor league swap

The Braves and Pirates finally completed the on again, off again LaRoche for Gonzalez deal but the surrounding players were somewhat surprising. It was widely believed that Schuerholz was holding out for a second quality player in the deal. A few of the names included Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, and Chris Duffy. It seems they finally came to an agreement which sent one of the Pirates top prospects, Brent Lillibridge, to Atlanta for a marginal prospect in Jamie Romak.

Since this is a minor league blog I'll cover the minor leaguers involved more than LaRoche and Gonzalez since every other site will have their opinions on those players.

Brent Lillibridge was drafted out of Washington University in 2005 and has been rated as the third best prospect in the Pirates organization by John Sickels.

Strengths: He hit over .300 with an OBP over .400 last year in low-A and high-A, his speed is very good with 53 steals last year, he works the count well as seen with his 87 walks, his defense has been said to be even better than his offense, and being a college player he should advance through the system quickly.

Weaknesses: His power took a somewhat significant hit upon his promotion to high-A. He hit 11 of his 13 home runs in low-A. He has been slightly older than his competition at every level thus far. Other than that he really doesn't have any other weaknesses right now.

Follow this link to see what John Sickels has to say about Lillibridge in his 2007 prospect book: Book Excerpts

Now on to Jamie Romak, whom the Braves gave up along with LaRoche in exchange for Gonzalez and Lillibridge.

Jamie hasn't gotten much attention as a prospect but is still young (20 years old) and has some power potential. He is sometimes considered a "moneyball" player because he hits for low averages with high OBP's and has power. Last year in Rome he hit .247 with 16 homers and a .369 OBP. He also struck out 102 times to go with his 59 walks. And that's only in 348 at-bats so he needs to cut down on the k's.

Obviously the Braves like Lillibridge a lot because they took the difference between Lillibridge and Romak when they have been wanting major league contributors. The Braves are probably thinking that Lillibridge is pretty close to the majors, given his age while the Pirates are getting the slugger they have been coveting and a young power bat in the minors.

I don't feel comfortable declaring a win for either side in this deal. It seems that both sides are pretty happy with it for the most part and a lot if it depends on a couple of guys in the low minors.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Baseball America Releases Their Top 10

This is it:

1.Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
2.Elvis Andrus, ss
3.Matt Harrison, lhp
4.Brandon Jones, of
5.Van Pope, 3b
6.Eric Campbell, 3b
7.Scott Thorman, 1b/of
8.Jo-Jo Reyes, lhp
9.Joey Devine, rhp
10.Yunel Escobar, inf

There are really no surprises on this list except for Van Pope at #5. The rest of the guys round up most of the well known Atlanta prospects. Van Pope is surprising not because I don't think he should be there (that's exactly where I would have him on my list), but because he is ahead of players such as Campbell, Devine, and Escobar who are much more hyped. Eric Campbell thought of by some people as the #1 prospect in the Braves organization and yet here he is one spot below Van Pope. The article does not give any reasons for the rankings but they do list Pope with the best infield defense and arm which adds to his value.

We also see yet another list with Yunel Escobar as the 10th best prospect. I guess people are scared away by his age and lack of development time but others seem to really like him. If I had to choose I would agree with those who list him as #10 although his sophomore slump could be attributed to his first full season of professional baseball in America.

There are a lot of tools at the top of the list with Elvis Andrus 2nd and Brandon Jones 4th. Brandon Jones is once again listed as the top athlete in the system and Andrus would lead the list of those with greatest potential if there was such a list. Andrus played much of 2006 in single-A as a 17 year-old with mixed results but obviously has immense untapped potential.

The fact that there are 2 starters and only 3 pitchers on this list further emphasizes the shortage of upper level arms in the system. Harrison is a well liked prospect but he doesn't have much star potential. The good news is that our crop of young arms in the low minors is more promising than ever.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone and may 2007 be a better year for Atlanta than 2006.

Also, please check out the prospect profiles as I will be periodically updating them with full stats from the 2006 season with updated projections. I will also be replacing Chuck James, Scott Thorman, and Matt Wright so let me know who you want to see on the list.
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