Showing posts with label Zach Britton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zach Britton. Show all posts

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Post All-Star Break Prospects to Watch

I have been asked by a couple of readers for lists of prospects to look for in the second half of the season. Apparently you guys want to know both the prospects that should be up soon and the prospects that will be making cameos before making their impacts next season. I am nothing if not obliging.

Impact Call-Ups to Expect
(in no particular order)

Dominic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies - At two levels, he has already surpassed his high home run total. He doesn't have the discipline of Jason Heyward or the power of Michael Stanton but he is in their class as a prospect. Brown has often been compared to Daryl Strawberry and that is a very good comparison. He has 30-plus homerun power and he has the speed (if not the skills) to steal 20 to 30 bases annually. He has solid plate discipline (for a 22-year old and should draw enough walks to provide strong on-base percentages. He does strikeout a bit but more in the power hitter range than the outrageous (Mark Reynolds) range. Brown is waiting for something to happen in the Phillies outfield, whether that is Jayson Werth* being traded or Raul Ibanez being benched has yet to be determined.

*For some reason I keep reading that Jayson Werth is having a bad season. That is simply not the case. The only real difference (at least in a negative sense) between 2010 and 2009 is the homerun pace. Otherwise he is batting for a better average, getting on base and slugging just as much. His teammates are collectively having an off year due to injuries and slow starts and slumps and that has slowed his Runs and RBI pace. But Werth was a .382 wOBA player in 2009 and is at .376 so far in 2010. He may not be having the perfect fantasy season but his real baseball season is just fine.
Brett Wallace, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays - One of my favorite hitting prospects, Wallace is showing improved homerun power. He is a disciplined hitter, although his patience seems to have slipped just a bit. He should eventually hit for high averages, with very nice OBAs, good power (say 20-30 homers annually), and provide zero speed. Lyle Overbay is still in the way at first base. Overbay's sub-par season has not helped the Blue Jays in their attempts to move him. The Jays are also trying to move Jose Bautista (selling high, just as you would) which would also open a spot, though Travis Snider may get the first opening.

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
- Hellickson has everything you want to see in a pitching prospect. He wins. He induces strikeouts. A large chunk of the flyballs he allows are of the harmless infield variety. When you subtract the infield flies from the other variety he induces more groundballs than fly outs. He has excellent command (3.55 K/BB) and is just 23-years old pitching in the International League. He should already be in the majors.

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins
- He induces groundballs on almost 60 percent of the balls put into play. He induces strikeouts at nice rate and his improving changeup promises that that rate can improve even further. With the Twins appearing reluctant to part with their better prospects in a trade for pitching, Gibson looks like a nice option down the stretch.

Jerry Sands, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Right now, no one is talking about Jerry Sands, but all he does is hit. He hits for average (batting .319/.422/.636 at two levels) and he hits for power (27 homers in 332 at-bats). He draws walks and makes pretty good contact for a slugger. This 25th-round pick from the 2008 draft looks unstoppable right now. The Dodgers could certainly use an unstoppable slugger in their lineup. Who couldn't?

Thomas Diamond, RHP, Chicago Cubs
- He was left for dead by the Rangers. Okay, they sacrificed his place on the roster for a fresher crop of prospects. This is all to the Cubs benefit. He looks exactly like the talented rotation starter he was expected to become a few years ago. He is still just 27-years old. The Cubs have absolutely nothing to lose by promoting him into the major league rotation.

Brock Bond, 2B, San Francisco Giants
- Bond is not the type of player that usually gets put on fantasy-oriented prospect lists. But his .417 OBP in 4 seasons is exactly the style of player the Giants need at the top of their lineup. If they make the move watch him get on base and score runs like crazy.

Cameo Appearance Only
(the real impact will come in 2011)

Michael Pineda, RHP, Seattle Mariners - He pitches in the high 90's. He has three plus or better pitches and he has the ideal power pitcher's body. He will also graduate into the best pitchers park in the American League. The hype is growing. He induces strikeouts, groundballs and infield flies. He has excellent command and is going to challenge Felix Hernandez for his throne atop the Mariners rotation.

Blake Beavan, RHP, Seattle Mariners
- He has become more of a pitcher and less of a hard thrower since being drafted by the Rangers. He was one of the prospects sent to the Mariners in the recent Cliff Lee trade. He does not strike out batters at the rate we fantasy owners like to see but he can still toss it past a batter when he needs to. He survives with incredible command and by inducing a ton of groundballs and infield flies. He should look spectacular behind King Felix and Prince Pineda some day.

Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays - A spring wrist injury and slow start probably conspired to keep Jennings from contending for American League rookie of the year in 2010. He has the tools and is developing the skills to be the perfect replacement (or complement) to Carl Crawford. If I ran the Rays, I'd toss B.J. Upton out on his butt and let Crawford, Jennings, and Ben Zobrist man the outfield for the next ten years.

Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles - I have expressed my great man-love for Zach Britton many times. He has a 65.8 percent GB rate this season and that isn't even a shocking number for him. He strikes out batters at a decent rate (enough to know he can deceive batters). Baseball America has pushed him into their mid-season Top Ten Prospects. The 2011 rookie of the year, you heard it here first.

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals - Many fantasy analysts were jumping off the Moustakas band wagon after a couple of not bad but disappointing seasons. He has roared back into their hearts. He was contending for the Texas League Triple Crown and has already pushed former phenom Alex Gordon out of the Royals infield. The Royals are getting it together.

Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds - The Cuban lefty is impressive but has not developed as quickly as some expected. He has the raw stuff to blow it past any batter but lacks the finesse and command necessary to dominate in the long term. I think it was a mistake to start him at Triple-A. I think a quick journey from the lower minors as the Nats did with Stephen Strasburg would have been the better move. It would have built his confidence and given him a chance at Strasburg-like hype. The Reds have moved him to the bullpen (it seems like a short term move but that's hard to say) to speed his advancement and for possible help in a late season playoff run. Don't let the cooling of the hype turn you off, he's still going to be very good.

Chris Carter, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics - Carter hasn't hit for average this season but his power is top shelf. However, thanks to a nice hot streak he has dragged his slash to .241/.350/.504 with 23 homers in 365 at-bats. Most prospect junkies thought Carter would be up by now, but apparently the Athletics want to see improvement in his plate discipline first.

You Will Not See Them in 2010 But DAMN!
(Damn = Drooling Already so Make Note)

Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels - He has all the tools, and is developing the skills to become one of the great ones. He has a .353/.445/.519 slash with 45 steals (just 11 cs) and developing power. Grab him now while you still have a prayer of getting him on the cheap.

Aaron Hicks, OF,Minnesota Twins - The tools are way ahead of the skills at this point. But this potential Torii Hunter clone is going to put it together very soon.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
- The Royals system is getting stronger and stronger. Hosmer has more power than his numbers may suggest and he even steals a few bases to go with his awesome batting average. Dayton Moore is doing something right at least.

Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians - When you watch him swing you get the sense that he could be the next Chipper Jones but the numbers aren't there yet. He is an excellent player to stash in deeper farm systems.

Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle Mariners
- He has 18 homers and 18 stolen bases in 332 at-bats. Franklin has probably surpassed Carlos Triunfel as the Mariners' shortstop of the future. Can you hear the pigs in space like reverb on that?

Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves - Every prospect analyst in his right mind is drooling all over Teheran's tools. He has the potential to be as good as any pitcher out there.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Baltimore Orioles Fantasy Report

The Baltimore Orioles are very close to re-emerging as a force in the American League East. They have the core of a solid lineup in place. The offense is led my right fielder Nick Markakis (.293/.347/.453) and features several emerging young hitters. Matt Wieters will catch and although he did not look like it in 2009 could be the best hitter on the team. Adam Jones, the center fielder who constantly frustrated the Seattle Mariners with his injuries and uninspiring performances, was arguably one of the best hitters in baseball for the first two months of the season. Left fielder Nolan Reimold led the team with a .365 wOBA (of players with at least 140 at-bats) and an .831 OPS. Veteran second baseman Brian Roberts continues to be a steady presence in the lineup providing surprising power and steals in bunches. Luke Scott (.229 ISO) enjoyed his first season in the AL very much, providing power from multiple positions(but mostly DH).

The 2009 rotation fronted by names like Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Berken, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, and Rich Hill was largely a disaster. None of these guys were very successful but they won’t need to be in 2010, which is when a highly touted group of pitching prospects is expected to have a major impact on the future of the Baltimore Orioles. Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton should debut in 2010. These names should be on the long-term radar of fantasy owners searching for the next Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, or Brandon Webb.

Fans of other teams or ones too young to remember may forget just how much financial muscle the Orioles can muster. It was not that long ago that the Orioles had one of the highest payrolls in baseball. They can hang with the big boys in the AL East when they judge that it is once again time to reach into the wallet for that missing slugger or ace starter. This is very important. Unlike the Tampa Bay Rays or Minnesota Twins who struggle to hang on their talent past their arbitration years , the Orioles can go dollar for dollar with almost anyone.

Fantasy Focus

Nick Markakis, OF
Before the 2009 season, Nick Markakis signed a six-year, $66.1 million contract. Then he had a disappointing season. It happens a lot. Players try to justify the money they are earning and become more aggressive and slip out of the game that won them the contract in the first place. You can see it pretty clearly in his stats. His walk rate went down quite a bit. He was swinging at more pitches out of the zone, and fewer pitches in the zone. The result is a drop in almost every meaningful stat. On top of this, he was probably a little unlucky as well. His BABIP dropped to .323 in 2009, which is only high when not compared to Markakis’ previous career average. Even his defense suffered. This is a player out of sorts. Fortunately, Markakis is such a talented and disciplined hitter than even when he not focused he is capable of producing decent stats.

The 2010 season should see a resurgent Markakis kicking butt in the American League East. His tools, patience, discipline, and pitch recognition are too high to predict anything else. He has good (not great) speed and can steal 10-15 bases if the desire is there. He has good power that has not yet peaked. His homerun totals may never be very high but I expect his HR/FB to return to their normal levels and that should be enough to push his homerun total back into the 20-25 area even if nothing else changes. However, just a small improvement in his FB rate might have him surpassing 30 homers as has been predicted for Markakis in the past. At his 2009 fly ball rate and a 12 percent HR/FB rate 600 at-bats would leave him just a fraction short of 30 homeruns. Fantasy owners should be very careful not to believe that they have seen the best of Markakis. He is just reaching what should be his peak years. Unless there is an injury that we do not know about I am much more comfortable predicting a career year than another down season.

Matt Wieters, C
One of the big stories of 2009 was the wait for Matt Wieters. The Orioles wisely as it seems, sent Wieters back to the minors to begin the season to cries of “cheap bastards” and worse from those believing they did so solely to save a few bucks and delay arbitration another season. As it turns out, Wieters did not dominate in the fashion of his 2008 season. He was producing, especially relative to his position. His late May promotion did not come with the offensive explosion that many fantasy owners were awaiting. For the season, he produced at about the level of the average major leaguer, which from the catcher position is super. It just is not what a fantasy owner is looking for out of his stud, catching prospect.

Wieters has shown signs of being a highly disciplined hitter. I expect him to improve in almost every area in 2010. His walk and contact rates should edge closer to his minor league levels as he gains experience. He is a linedrive hitter who rarely swings at pitches out of the strike zone. I also have to imagine that a more confident Wieters will manage a better HR/FB than the 8.4 percent mark produced in 2009. The Orioles have worked hard to keep from putting immense amounts of pressure on their young catcher. That should pay off for fantasy owners very soon.

Searching for Sleepers

Josh Bell, 3B
Josh Bell became an Oriole via the Los Angeles Dodgers by being the primary return in the George Sherrill trade. There is a strong possibility that he begins the 2010 season as the starting third baseman. Oddly, it seems his development as a switch hitter is going to be a major factor in the decision. Bell is extremely good from the left side of the plate facing right-handed pitchers. According to, Josh Bell hit .340 with 19 homers in 315 at-bats as a left-handed hitter, and .198 with one homer in 131 at-bats as a right-handed hitter in 2009. Most reports say his mechanics are fine from both sides of the plate though ESPN’s Jason Grey has said he can “get a little big” swinging from his heels on the right-handed side.

There are those that believe that Bell should abandon switch-hitting and become a left-handed batter. This is the possibility most likely to send Bell to the minors (assuming he has a strong spring and the Orioles do not make a huge move to fill the position). In this scenario, the Orioles would be unlikely to allow Bell to adjust to seeing left-handed pitching from the left side in the majors. Fortunately, those closest to the Orioles believe they are happy with Bell as he is and want to see him continue to switch hit. The belief there (and here) is that Bell can develop enough as a hitter from the right side to be an asset.

Josh Bell just became more dangerous as the season and the post season passed. He was a monster in the AFL. He posted an Isolated Power of .281 (for reference Alex Rodriguez has a career ISO of .271) after the trade, during 114 at-bats at double-A for the Orioles. On the season, he slashed .297/.370/.538 with 35 doubles, 2 triples, 20 homeruns. He also received a very favorable projection from theThe Bill James Handbook 2010. He probably will not be much of a sleeper come draft season but he is an incredibly talented prospect that is worthy of fantasy attention even as a rookie.

Zach Britton, LHP
He has not received as much attention as Matusz, Tillman, Arietta, and even Brandon Erbe but Zach Britton may outperform them all. Nothing attracts me to a pitcher like the combination of strikeouts and inducing groundballs. In the last three seasons, Britton has GB rates of 64.5, 63.8, and 65.0 percent and K-rates of 6.36, 6.96, and boosted it to 8.42 in 2009. His rates are only getting better as he increases levels, which is a very nice indication of his development. His walk rates do show room for improvement, but are not high enough to be a major problem. I keep looking at him and thinking Brandon Webb. I like this guy a lot.

Best Team Blogs for the Baltimore Orioles:

Orioles Hangout -

Camden Crazies -

Oscar Salazar 3B 17 31 13 0 0 2 4 6 2 4 0 0 0.419
Nick Markakis OF 161 642 188 45 2 18 94 101 56 98 6 2 0.293
Michael Aubrey 1B 31 90 26 7 0 4 12 14 5 10 0 0 0.289
Matt Wieters C 96 354 102 15 1 9 35 43 28 86 0 0 0.288
Brian Roberts 2B 159 632 179 56 1 16 110 79 74 112 30 7 0.283
Jeff Fiorentino OF 24 64 18 1 0 0 8 8 8 16 2 0 0.281
Nolan Reimold OF 104 358 100 18 2 15 49 45 47 77 8 2 0.279
Adam Jones OF 119 473 131 22 3 19 83 70 36 93 10 4 0.277
Ty Wigginton 1B/3B 122 410 112 19 0 11 44 41 23 57 1 2 0.273
Felix Pie OF 101 252 67 10 3 9 38 29 24 58 1 3 0.266
Melvin Mora 3B 125 450 117 20 0 8 44 48 34 60 3 3 0.260
Chad Moeller C 30 89 23 8 1 2 6 10 7 16 0 0 0.258
Luke Scott DH 128 449 116 26 1 25 61 77 55 104 0 0 0.258
Cesar Izturis SS 114 387 99 14 4 2 34 30 18 38 12 4 0.256
Aubrey Huff 1B 110 430 109 24 1 13 51 72 41 74 0 6 0.253
Gregg Zaun C 56 168 41 10 0 4 23 13 27 30 0 0 0.244
Robert Andino SS 78 198 44 7 0 2 31 10 15 47 3 3 0.222
Lou Montanez OF 29 82 15 5 0 1 5 6 5 16 0 1 0.183

George Sherrill 0 1 2.40 42 0 20 3 41.1 3 13 0 39
Brad Bergesen 7 5 3.43 19 19 0 0 123.1 11 32 2 65
Cla Meredith 0 0 3.77 29 0 0 0 28.2 3 12 0 17
Danys Baez 4 6 4.02 59 0 0 2 71.2 8 22 2 40
Koji Uehara 2 4 4.05 12 12 0 0 66.2 7 12 0 48
Jim Johnson 4 6 4.11 64 0 10 6 70 8 23 2 49
Mark Hendrickson 6 5 4.37 53 11 1 2 105 16 33 2 61
Brian Matusz 5 2 4.63 8 8 0 0 44.2 6 14 0 38
Brian Bass 5 3 4.90 48 0 0 0 86.1 11 44 6 54
Jeremy Guthrie 10 17 5.04 33 33 0 0 200 35 60 1 110
Dennis Sarfate 0 1 5.09 20 0 0 0 23 3 14 0 20
Chris Tillman 2 5 5.40 12 12 0 0 65 15 24 4 39
David Hernandez 4 10 5.42 20 19 0 0 101.1 27 46 3 68
Matt Albers 3 6 5.51 56 0 0 4 67 3 36 3 49
Jason Berken 6 12 6.54 24 24 0 0 119.2 19 44 0 66
Chris Ray 0 4 7.27 46 0 0 3 43.1 8 23 0 39
Rich Hill 3 3 7.80 14 13 0 0 57.2 7 40 1 46
Adam Eaton 2 5 8.56 8 8 0 0 41 9 19 1 28