The SnakePit Hatchling Report: Prospects 46-50

Since I've officially run out of marketable, potentially trade-able players to write about for my deadline reports, I've decided to next move on to looking at prospects' seasons in hopes of establishing just how far along the kids are in the system, who the surprises are, who has stalled, and who continues to perform on schedule in their ascent into the big-leagues.  So, I'm making use of my brother's membership to Scout.com. While not stealing in any way from them, I'm using their rankings as a reference, to simply identify in some vague order, the top prospects in the Diamondbacks' system, create my own analysis on them with as many stats as I can find from previous years and compare them to their current production to try to rate how they're progressing through the minors.  [If there are somehow issues with this that I am informed of, I'll delete these ASAP and apologize in depth in order to avoid a lawsuit over a fan-blog post...  :-) Honestly, I don't know (and am probably worrying about absolutely nothing), and am not trying to make anybody mad.]  But, for now, today's write-up will be on the following prospects: RHP Josh Ellis, RHP Bryan Henry, LHP Thomas Layne, C Ed Easley, and RHP William Spottiswood, five guys drafted in 2007.

#50 - RHP Josh Ellis.  Born August 7, 1984.  24 years old.  Drafted in the 11th round in 2007 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 37 / K-Rating: 90 / Efficiency: 22.

2009 Stats: Split between AA-Mobile and AAA-Reno (currently in AA)

AA Mobile - 15 games in relief, 25.2 IP, 1.75 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 30 K, 6 BB (5:1 K/BB ratio).

AAA Reno - 15 games in relief, 19.1 IP, 7.91 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 19 K, 6 BB (3.2:1 K/BB ratio).

2008 Stats: Split between Hi-A Visalia and AAA-Tucson.

Hi-A Visalia - 39 games in relief, 63.2 IP, 2.40 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 63 K, 19 BB (3.3:1 K/BB ratio).

AAA Tucson - 2 games in relief, 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, .33 WHIP, 4 K, 0 BB (Let us all hope you aren't expecting anything here).

2007 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula

Rookie-level Missoula - 24 games in relief, 36.0 IP, 6.50 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 43 K, 29 BB (1.5:1 K/BB ratio).

Josh Ellis has always been able to strike batters out, but the issue with him has always been his penchant to walk batters.  However, in his third year in pro-ball, at AA (suitable for his age, although for a college relief pitcher, AAA would be nice), he has drastically reduced his walks, while still being able to put batters away.  This trend has led to some recent success, as he hasn't allowed a run since June 28 (5 games, 10 IP).  Granted, he did start the year at AAA after faring well in a cup of coffee there at the end of last season, and got absolutely shelled due to his inability to strike out batters at that level, a slightly higher walk rate, and the fact that the PCL is a massive hitters league.  Nevertheless, the improved numbers from Hi-A to AA do suggest that he's improving, and the walk rate diminishing at the proper level of competition suggests that he's figuring out his biggest issue on the field.

 

#49 - RHP Bryan Henry - Born February 15, 1985.  24 years old.  Drafted in the 12th round in 2007 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 97 / K-Rating: 61 / Efficiency: 99.

2009 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 29 games in relief, 63.2 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 57 K, 10 BB (5.7:1 K/BB ratio).

2008 Stats: Mid-A South Bend

Mid-A South Bend - 29 games in relief, 6 games started, 90.0 IP, 3.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 51 K, 18 BB (2.8:1 K/BB ratio).

2007 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula

Rookie-level Missoula - 12 games started, 58.0 IP, 5.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 41 K, 12 BB (3.4:1 K/BB ratio).

The supposed control-and-efficiency contact artist is learning to strike guys out in Hi-A this season, and it's probably best that he keeps this trend up, as many of his other numbers don't lend to continued success if he can't miss bats.  The starter-turned-reliever has a Groundout/Flyout ratio on the season is .90:1, so he isn't a Chad Qualls-type.  The numbers possibly suggest a Jon Rauch comparison - a guy who relies on fly-ball outs in order to retire guys with stuff that will get only the occasional strikeout, and relying on command to jam guys and get awkward swings to force them to hit the ball weakly.  He appears much more comfortable in the relief role after being a starter at Florida State, and the 10 walks in over 60 innings is fantastic.  He won't frustrate you with free passes, but perhaps needs a slight bit of luck to get outs.  Is also 24 in Hi-A ball, and would need to earn a promotion to AA by the end of the year, and perform well there, in order to continue to have serious prospect value.

 

#48 - LHP Thomas Layne - Born November 2, 1984.  24 years old.  Drafted in the 26th round in 2007 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 71 / K-Rating: 44 / Efficiency: 64.

2009 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 25 games in relief, 3 games started, 62.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 38 K, 25 BB (1.5:1 K/BB ratio).

2008 Stats: Mid-A South Bend

Mid-A South Bend - 22 games in relief, 13 games started, 115.0 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 71 K, 43 BB (1.7 K/BB ratio).

2007 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula

Rookie-level Missoula - 16 games started, 79.2 IP, 4.63 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 66 K, 23 BB (2.9:1 K/BB ratio).

Thomas Layne has been shooting up rankings of D-Backs prospects since the start of the season, and for good reason - he's pitched extremely well.  While the strikeout numbers are pretty mediocre, and the walks seem worrisome, one must also take into account his fabulous 2.92 Groundout/Flyout ratio.  His long-term starting chances aren't great though, for a few reasons.  First, in the three games he has started this year in Hi-A, he has pitched moderately effectively, but only for a combined 14 innings.  Second, Layne has a very distinct lefty/righty split against him, which would make starting difficult.  Righties hit for an average .158 higher than lefties hit, and his ERA is 1.36 higher against righties than it is against lefties (I wish I had OPS splits, but alas).  So while he has pitched this year like he has potential to get out right-handers moderately well with his ability to keep the ball in the park, I wouldn't count on him to face some of the best right-handed bats in the game and have to go through the order three times.  He has the downside of being a solid LOOGY, pretty solid for a 26th round pick.

 

#47 - C Ed Easley - Born December 21, 1985.  23 years old.  Drafted in the Sandwich round in 2007 (61st overall) by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings: Power: 60 / Speed: 6 / Contact: 46 / Patience: 47.

2009 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 80 games, .216 BA, .329 OBP, .291 SLG, .620 OPS (average California League OPS - .755), 60 K, 42 BB (1.4:1 K/BB ratio), .074 ISO, 17.9% K-Rate, 12.5% BB-Rate, .267 BABIP.

2008 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 118 games, .247 BA, .313 OBP, .339 SLG, .649 OPS (average California League OPS - .752), 106 K, 42 BB (2.5:1 K/BB ratio), .081 ISO, 24.1% K-Rate, 8.5% BB-Rate, .307 BABIP.

2007 Stats: Low-A Yakima

Low-A Yakima - 33 games, .250 BA, .319 OBP, .419 SLG, .738 OPS (average Northwest League OPS - .730), 30 K, 9 BB (3.3:1 K/BB ratio), .169 ISO, 22.6% K-Rate, 6.8% BB-Rate, .236 BABIP.

Easley certainly hasn't lived up to expectations in repeating Hi-A just two years after being a Sandwich-round pick out of college, or at least in doing so without seeing an increase in production across the board rather than his Snyder-esque numbers.  His batting average is significantly down, partially due to over-regression of BABIP, which can be expected to pick itself back up from the .267 mark so far this season.  Even with this, an increase in walks has led to an increase in his on-base percentage.  Yet, his slugging percentage and ISO are also down for the second consecutive season (although the 2007 Yakima numbers are largely due to a small-sample-size HR spree), leading to an overall dip in OPS.  However, there's also a lot to like in what Easley's done.  The strikeouts/K-Rate are down, and he's already matched last season's total for walks in 38 fewer games, so there are surefire signs of progress, and his numbers can expect to be picked up throughout the rest of the season.  He's only 23, too, so there's still time for him.

 

#46 - RHP William Spottiswood - Born April 24, 1985.  24 years old.  Drafted in the 25th round in 2007 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings: Control: 97 / K-Rating: 90 / Efficiency: 100.

2009 Stats: Split between Hi-A Visalia and AAA-Reno (currently in Hi-A)

Hi-A Visalia - 16 games in relief, 26.1 IP, 3.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 22 K, 4 BB (5.5:1 K/BB ratio), 4 saves.

AAA-Reno - 15 games in relief, 23.1 IP, 4.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 13 K, 11 BB (1.2:1 K/BB ratio).

2008 Stats: Mid-A South Bend

Mid-A South Bend - 44 games in relief, 64.0 IP, 2.11 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 58 K, 16 BB (3.6:1 K/BB ratio), 13 saves.

2007 Stats: Low-A Yakima

Low-A Yakima - 26 games in relief, 43.1 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 45 K, 8 BB (5.6:1 K/BB ratio), 10 saves.

Billy Spottiswood is a strikeout pitcher, racking up ridiculously high totals as a reliever/closer in Low-A, Mid-A, and now Hi-A, as well as traditionally getting fairly high Groundout/Flyout ratios.  However, an aggressive promotion to AAA earlier in the year for Spottiswood led to issues with walks and a decrease in strikeout numbers, to be expected after a jump from being in Mid-A last season.  His overall ERA wasn't bad in AAA at 4.63, but with a .70 Groundout/Flyout ratio, a 1.2:1 K/BB ratio, and just 13 K in over 23 innings, it's hard to imagine that that moderate success would continue (although it's nevertheless impressive that he fared ok in the hitters-haven PCL, unlike Ellis, who is now a leve above Spottiswood).  Instead, he was put back on a steadier path through the minors at Hi-A Visalia, and has amped up his K/BB ratio to the extremely high levels of 2007 in Low-A (as well as 7.6 K/9 IP), after the ratio took a dip in 2008 in Mid-A.  Spottiswood has the stuff and is young enough to have an impact in the majors, but he has to learn how to use his stuff to strike out higher-level hitters, and to throw strikes against better competition.

 

That's all for the first five.  I was originally going to do these in batches of ten until I realized just how much effort and time these really take.  That way, though, I'll be able to write these for the next few weeks, possibly up until I go back to school, successfully killing the rest of my unwanted summer days.  Hope this is informative.

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