I've finally managed to find a night where I can get started on a piece at eleven without work the next day to finish in time for my 3 a.m. bedtime, so it's time for another Hatchlings Report. And, because pretty much everybody, and by everybody I mean everybody and especially the ladies, has wanted it, I've decided to not only to do the usual five prospects, but to add Kangaroo Trent to the mix, so that everybody can get an idea for what the guy has done in his startling nine years in the minor-leagues. He was not put on the Scout.com top-50 prospects list for the D-Backs (credit to them for the rankings of the 11-15 guys), but was instead placed on their list of players beyond the top-50 for players who fell out of that list due to concerns of age, injuries, or both. Also appearing on that list are fellow big-leaguers Rusty Ryal (who will find himself in one of these pieces if he plays well) and Esmerling Vasquez (who will also likely be covered at some point). The top-50 prospects covered in this write-up will be RHP Matt Torra, SS Reynaldo Navarro, RHP Trevor Harden, RHP Bryan Augenstein, and 2B Taylor Harbin.
#15 (was ranked #6 according to Baseball America in 2006) - RHP Matt Torra. Born June 29, 1984. 25 years old. Drafted in the Sandwich round in 2005 (31st overall) by Arizona. The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 92 / K-Rating: 74 / Efficiency: 82.
2009 Stats: AA-Mobile
AA-Mobile - 23 games started, 144.0 IP, 4.06 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 91 K, 26 BB (3.5:1 K/BB ratio), 5.7 K/9IP, 1.6 BB/9IP.
2008 Stats: Split between AA-Mobile and AAA-Tucson
AA-Mobile - 13 games started, 79.0 IP, 2.85 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 50 K, 12 BB (4.2:1 K/BB ratio), 5.7 K/9IP, 1.4 BB/9IP.
AAA-Tucson - 13 games started, 1 game in relief, 78.1 IP, 4.71 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 46 K, 19 BB (2.4:1 K/BB ratio), 5.3 K/9IP, 2.2 BB/9IP.
2007 Stats: Hi-A Visalia
Hi-A Visalia - 28 games started, 158.2 IP, 6.01 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 137 K, 43 BB (3.2:1 K/BB ratio), 7.8 K/9IP, 2.4 BB/9IP.
2006 Stats: Mid-A South Bend
Mid-A South Bend - 7 games started, 25.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 20 K, 5 BB (4:1 K/BB ratio), 7.2 K/9IP, 1.8 BB/9IP.
2005 Stats: Low-A Yakima
Low-A Yakima - 2 games started, 3 games in relief, 10.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10 K, 4 BB (2.5:1 K/BB ratio), 9.0 K/9IP, 3.6 BB/9IP.
For a piece of humor, The Baseball Cube had Torra's record in 2009 at Mobile at 711-0 (close - 7-11), with 144 saves (correct total... of innings pitched), with 163 innings pitched (correct total... of hits allowed), 565 hits allowed (I have no idea whatsoever), 65 runs allowed with 21 earned (80 runs allowed with 65 earned), a 1.16 ERA (derived from the 163 IP and 21 ER), a 3.47 WHIP, 4 K (no idea), and 1 BB (if only...). No joke is really necessary there... But onto the serious stuff, after the season he put up last year, I'm simply confused/slightly peeved as to why he repeated AA to begin this season. You can't do much better than a 2.85 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in AA (he's kept his WHIP constant this season, suggesting some of the ERA increase may just be bad luck), and he fared extremely well in a decent number of starts in the tough PCL - certainly well enough to warrant starting in Reno this season. His walk rate is unheard-of good. He hasn't had any significant injury setbacks since his torn labrum in 2005. Heck, I can't blame Torra for not duplicating last season's numbers - it's gotta be a letdown to be unnecessarily repeating AA. He was on Scout.com's surprise assignments list at the start of this season for not being in Reno. The organization didn't have room on the AAA roster for more starters, but they didn't because of the fact that they signed two veterans to that AAA roster in Seth Etherton and Travis Blackley when they already had and Yusmeiro PetitBilly Buckner as spot-starter options who were better than Etherton or Blackley, and neither of the two have been in the majors this season. Major-league veterans are nice, but when you have good prospects (Torra was picked 31st overall for crying out loud - imagine if we did this to Miley...) who have proven they can pitch at the AAA-level, it's got to be a huge disappointment to demote the guy for the sake of adding a 32-year-old AAA pitcher currently posting an ERA over 5 (that would be Etherton). Just a simply horrible decision. Nonetheless, Torra was a mid-season Southern League All-Star, and should be in AAA ASAP. He was also Rule 5 eligible, as he was left off of the team's 40-man roster, and still has yet to be added to that roster (Bobby Korecky? Doug Slaten? Pedro Ciriaco - good prospect, but who was going to keep him in the majors for a full season? Luke Carlin? Heck, even Augie Ojeda?). Heck, we even left a slot open on the 40-man roster so that we could choose to pick someone from another team in the Rule 5. Which we did - 2009 bust C James Skelton. I don't quite know why the team was so down on Torra after a good season in '08 when they were willing to promote him after a bad season in '07, but it appears they've now put him down on himself. I'd remedy that quickly and get him to Reno with a lot of friends for run support in Allen, CY, Colorado Springs away games, etc., so he can get back on track to be a rotation option at some point in 2011, since the organization already killed his chance to do so in 2010 (which we could sure use now).
#14 (ranked #10 according to Baseball America, was ranked #9 according to Baseball America in 2008) - SS Reynaldo Navarro. Born December 22, 1989*. 19 years old*. Drafted in the 3rd round in 2007 by Arizona. The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 25 / Speed: 85 / Contact: 23 / Patience: 13.
*Age not certain with Puerto Rican prospects - D.O.B. is according to Puerto Rican papers.
2009 Stats: Mid-A South Bend
Mid-A South Bend - 97 games, .250 BA, .302 OBP, .327 SLG, .629 OPS (average Midwest League OPS: .703), 66 K, 22 BB (3:1 K/BB ratio), .077 ISO, 17.6% K-Rate, 5.9% BB-Rate, .306 BABIP.
2008 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula
Rookie-level Missoula - 72 games, .258 BA, .323 OBP, .385 SLG, .708 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .777), 77 K, 25 BB (3.1:1 K/BB ratio), .137 ISO, 24.4% K-Rate, 7.9% BB-Rate, .341 BABIP.
2007 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula
Rookie-level Missoula - 60 games, .250 BA, .274 OBP, .283 SLG, .557 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .760), 41 K, 6 BB (6.8:1 K/BB ratio), .033 ISO, 18.8% K-Rate, 2.8% BB-Rate, .301 BABIP.
Navarro starts off on a weird note with the personal info because he was drafted, but yet is a prospect from Puerto Rico, having been born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and having attended the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. I don't know if this means it's more likely that his birth certificate information is more likely to be accurate or not, but it was worth noting in case someone else does. As far as his production is concerned, it's pretty much about Navarro's ability to get on base and utilize his speed. He has 33 stolen bases in 48 attempts (68.75%) so far in the minors, and for someone who is only 19, one can only imagine that that percentage is only going to go upwards as he learns the more intricate art and reads involved with stealing bases. His athleticism and speed also give him the potential to be a dazzling defensive shortstop. Also encouraging is the fact that he seems to be progressing in terms of limiting his strikeouts and raising his walks, as evidenced by the dramatic drop in K-Rate and increase in BB-Rate from '07 to '08, and his ability to keep the ratio steady from '08 to '09, despite jumping from rookie-ball to everyday duty in Mid-A (walks are down, but surprisingly so are the strikeouts). This shows that Navarro is beginning to learn a bit better command of the zone, and after a likely repeat in Mid-A to start next season, could make the jump to Hi-A in 2011, or sometime mid-season if he dazzles. Having any 19-year-old playing marginally well in Mid-A is always a great sign, and Navarro fits that mold. If he continues to progress through the system, he could (best-case scenario) be a prospect similar to Alcides Escobar - limited power, high contact, great speed/stolen base ability, great defense. Obviously, though, it's going to be a very long time before we see Navarro sniffing around the majors.
#13 - RHP Trevor Harden. Born September 1, 1987. 21 years old. Drafted in the 14th round in 1008 by Arizona. The Baseball Cube ratings - No Ratings.
2009 Stats: Split between Mid-A South Bend and Hi-A Visalia (currently in Visalia)
Mid-A South Bend - 6 games started, 37.2 IP, 2.39 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 31 K, 7 BB, (4.4:1 K/BB ratio), 7.4 K/9IP, 1.7 BB/9IP.
Hi-A Visalia - 15 games started, 81.1 IP, 4.54 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 55 K, 22 BB (2.5:1 K/BB ratio), 6.1 K/9IP, 2.4 BB/9IP.
2008 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula
Rookie-level Missoula - 6 games started, 6 games in relief, 42.1 IP, 1.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 64 K, 11 BB (5.5:1 K/BB ratio), 13.6 K/9IP, 2.3 BB/9IP.
Well, talk about a pleasant surprise. The D-Backs nabbed Harden out of New Mexico Junior College in the fourteenth round (!), only to have him utterly destroy Pioneer League hitters in 42.1 innings last season at age 20 (one year below the average age of Pioneer League players). 13.6 K/9IP is nothing to shake a stick at. Whatever scout found this kid should get him a raise - he throws 93 with an effortless delivery that doesn't have the violence responsible for injury concerns for Scherzer and Schlereth, and is just 21 and faring well in Hi-A after demolishing Mid-A hitters in six starts at South Bend to a 1st-half-Haren-esque sub-1 WHIP of 0.93 before earning a promotion. Since arriving in Hi-A, Harden has had a few more hiccups, as his walks have increased (although not by much) and strikeouts have decreased, but his overall numbers are nothing close to concerning for someone of his age at his level, especially in the ridiculous hitter's California League. Harden is far from a short-season wonder as many may have worried - this kid is legit. Could try out AA to start next season at just 22 years old (after all, the next guy did pretty darned well at Mobile this season after having slightly better numbers at Visalia at age 21).
#12 - RHP Bryan Augenstein. Born July 11, 1986. 22 years old. Drafted in the 7th round in 2007 by Arizona. The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 98 / K-Rating: 74 / Efficiency: 92.
2009 Stats: Split between AA-Mobile, AAA-Reno, and MLB-Arizona (currently in Reno, order of progression: AA-MLB-AAA)
AA-Mobile - 6 games started, 34.2 IP, 0.78 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 31 K, 6 BB (5.2:1 K/BB ratio), 8.0 K/9IP, 1.6 BB/9IP.
AAA-Reno - 7 games started, 1 game in relief, 36.0 IP, 5.50 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 29 K, 7 BB (4.1:1 K/BB ratio), 7.3 K/9IP, 1.8 BB/9IP.
MLB-Arizona - 2 games started, 11.1 IP, 7.94 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 4 K, 4 BB (1:1 K/BB ratio), 3.2 K/9IP, 3.2 BB/9IP.
2008 Stats: Split between Mid-A South Bend and Hi-A Visalia
Mid-A South Bend - 13 games started, 87.1 IP, 0.94 WHIP, 2.16 ERA, 69 K, 9 BB (7.7:1 K/BB ratio), 7.1 K/9IP, 0.9 BB/9IP.
Hi-A Visalia - 9 games started, 44.0 IP, 3.89 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 30 K, 5 BB (6:1 K/BB ratio), 6.1 K/9IP, 1.0 BB/9IP.
2007 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula
Rookie-level Missoula - 2 games started, 8 games in relief, 21.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 16 K, 7 BB (2.3:1 K/BB ratio), 6.8 K/9IP, 3.0 BB/9IP.
Time to take a walk back to that dreaded first half of the season to dig up Bryan Augenstein as one of the many fifth-starter options that tried and failed (although once again it's worth mentioning that Augenstein was unnecessarily sent out for the seventh inning of a game where he had gone six and allowed three runs. He gave up two runs and got one out in the seventh - one he allowed, one was inherited and let score by a reliever - without that, his ERA is a much more pleasant, although still not good, 6.55, but what else are you going to expect from a AA guy?). Really, the biggest reason Bryan Augenstein failed in the majors is that he didn't pitch like Bryan Augenstein. His strikeout numbers plummeted, his walks doubled, and he gave up a long-ball (a rare occurence even in the hitter-friendly PCL). Given that he was 22 years old, it's safe to say that he'll be back in the majors unless injuries get the best of him. However, that's become quite a legitimate concern. Despite having a build and delivery that would seem to prevent injuries from setting in, Augenstein has yet to pitch since July 12. The last info I've heard on his injury is that he was suffering from dead-arm symptoms, and he had a one-inning relief appearance on the twelfth that was supposed to be three or so innings long and test his arm strength. However, he pulled himself from the game after one inning, went on the 7-day disabled list, and hasn't appeared since. My bet is that we've shut him down as a precaution, although I can't really find confirmation of this anywhere. But it would certainly make sense to protect a 22-year-old who just this season was completely dominating AA (0.66 WHIP?! - so much for Hi-A to AA being the most difficult promotion). He'll be back in Reno next season, as he has nothing left to prove in Mobile, and we'll likely see him in the majors for good within the next three seasons if all goes well medically after a season which, although hilighted by a bad cup of coffee in the majors, was fantastic in terms of his ascension through the system.
#11 - 2B Taylor Harbin. Born February 13, 1986. 23 years old. Drafted in the 8th round in 2007 by Arizona. The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 80 / Speed: 59 / Contact: 88 / Patience: 9
2009 Stats: Hi-A Visalia
Hi-A Visalia - 110 games, .266 BA, .309 OBP, .419 SLG, .728 OPS (average California League OPS: .758), 76 K, 22 BB (3.5:1 K/BB ratio), .153 ISO, 15.8% K-Rate, 4.6% BB-Rate, .292 BABIP.
2008 Stats: Mid-A South Bend
Mid-A South Bend - 133 games, .276 BA, .314 OBP, .414 SLG, .728 OPS (average Midwest League OPS: .694), 78 K, 26 BB (3:1 K/BB ratio), .138 ISO, 13.6% K-Rate, 4.5% BB-Rate, .302 BABIP.
2007 Stats: Split between Rookie-level Missoula and Mid-A South Bend
Rookie-level Missoula - 63 games, .276 BA, .341 OBP, .477 SLG, .818 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .760), 38 K, 20 BB (1.9:1 K/BB ratio), .201 ISO, 14.4% K-Rate, 7.6% BB-Rate, .289 BABIP.
Mid-A South Bend - 3 games, .214 BA, .214 OBP, .286 SLG, .500 OPS (average Midwest League OPS: .696), 2 K, 0 BB (RatioFail), .072 ISO, 14.3% K-Rate, 0% BB-Rate, .250 BABIP.
Between Harbin, Mark Hallberg, and Pedro Ciriaco, you've got your three candidates for second-baseman of the future, with Ciriaco looking like a likely-to-reach-the-majors guy, as he's set to hit AAA next season, and Hallberg just slightly below Ciriaco in that regard, as he'll likely repeat at Mobile next year, as he's having a lackluster season there this year. However, Harbin has the higher ceiling offensively of the trio, and is a better fit long-term if he can pan out, as he's an actual second-baseman, whereas Ciriaco's marvellous defense is better-suited for the more difficult shortstop position, where Stephen Drew is firmly entrenched, and Hallberg also started his career at SS. However, Harbin might be ready just around time Drew potentially hits free agency, allowing Ciriaco or Hallberg to move the SS and letting us allow Drew to go elsewhere and spend the money necessary to keep him on other needs. As for Harbin's production this season, he's been able to keep his Mid-A numbers from '08 fairly steady across the jump to Hi-A despite a slight BABIP drop, although with the help of the California League's hitter-friendliness. The top area Harbin could use some improvement is getting back to his '07 Missoula BB-Rate, as his patience at the plate has taken a massive dip since his time in the Pioneer League. He's going to need a more advanced approach if he wants to survive in AA, and the ability to take walks and take more advanced secondary pitches for balls is a good indicator of that.
Kangaroo Trent Oeltjen - Born February 28, 1983. 26 years old. Not Drafted - Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2001 by Minnesota. The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 29 / Speed: 86 / Contact: 67 / Patience: 19.
2009 Stats: Split between AAA-Reno and MLB-Arizona (currently in Arizona)
AAA-Reno - 106 games, .300 BA, .358 OBP, .505 SLG, .863 OPS (average Pacific Coast League OPS: .757), 95 K, 29 BB (3.3:1 K/BB ratio), .205 ISO, 21.4% K-Rate, 6.5% BB-Rate, .369 BABIP.
MLB-Arizona - 3 games, .400 BA, .400 OBP, .900 SLG, 1.300 OPS*, 0 K, 0 BB (SuperRatioFail), .400 ISO, 0% K-Rate, 0% BB-Rate, .294 BABIP.
2008 Stats: AAA-Tucson
AAA-Tuson - 127 games, .317 BA, .357 OBP, .466 SLG, .823 OPS (average Pacific Coast League OPS: .792), 68 K, 24 BB (2.8:1 K/BB ratio), .149 ISO, 15.2% K-Rate, 5.4% BB-Rate, .354 BABIP.
2007 Stats: AAA-Rochester
AAA-Rochester - 97 games, .238 BA, .303 OBP, .340 SLG, .643 OPS (average International League OPS: .728), 44 K, 10 BB (4.4:1 K/BB ratio), .102 ISO, 17.3% K-Rate, 3.9% BB-Rate, .283 BABIP.
2006 Stats: AA-New Britain
AA-New Britain - 112 games, .299 BA, .378 OBP, .411 SLG, .789 OPS (average Eastern League OPS: .703), 58 K, 36 BB (1.6:1 K/BB ratio), .112 ISO, 13.3% K-Rate, 8.2% BB-Rate, .342 BABIP.
2005 Stats: Hi-A Fort Myers
Hi-A Fort Myers - 98 games, .287 BA, .369 OBP, .396 SLG, .765 OPS (average Florida State League OPS: .715), 77 K, 26 BB (3:1 K/BB ratio), .109 ISO, 21.0% K-Rate, 7.1% BB-Rate, .357 BABIP.
2004 Stats: Hi-A Fort Myers
Hi-A Fort Myers - 90 games, .278 BA, .337 OBP, .352 SLG, .689 OPS (average Florida State League OPS: .703), 61 K, 18 BB (3.4:1 K/BB ratio), .074 ISO, 17.8% K-Rate, 5.3% BB-Rate, .335 BABIP.
2003 Stats: Mid-A Quad Cities
Mid-A Quad Cities - 123 games, .298 BA, .371 OBP, .384 SLG, .755 OPS (average Midwest League OPS: .680), 57 K, 37 BB (1.5:1 K/BB ratio), .086 ISO, 11.3% K-Rate, 7.4% BB-Rate, .329 BABIP.
2002 Stats: Split between Rookie-level Elizabethton and Mid-A Quad Cities
Rookie-level Elizabethton - 54 games, .298 BA, .363 OBP, .391 SLG, .754 OPS (average Appalachian League OPS: .743), 34 K, 16 BB (2.1:1 K/BB ratio), .093 ISO, 14.7% K-Rate, 6.9% BB-Rate, .339 BABIP.
Mid-A Quad Cities - 10 games, .240 BA, .321 OBP, .280 SLG, .601 OPS (average Midwest League OPS: .688), 2 K, 3 BB (1:1.5 K/BB ratio), .040 ISO, 7.1% K-Rate, 10.7% BB-Rate, .261 BABIP.
2001 Stats: Split between Rookie-level Gulf Coastand Rookie-level Elizabethton
Rookie-level Gulf Coast Twins - 45 games, .321 BA, .387 OBP, .418 SLG, .805 OPS (average Gulf Coast League OPS: .654), 16 K, 14 BB (1.1:1 K/BB ratio), .097 ISO, 10.8% K-Rate, 9.5% BB-Rate, .352 BABIP.
Rookie-level Elizabethton - 9 games, .033 BA, .032 OBP, .067 SLG, .099 OPS (average Appalachian League OPS: .697), 6 K, 0 BB (RatioFail), .034 ISO, 20% K-Rate, 0% BB-Rate, .042 BABIP.
*Does anybody know the average MLB OPS this season? Not that it's super-important for analysis or anything, but I'm mostly curious now that I couldn't find it (in a feeble attempt at searching for it at 3 a.m.)...
So this was just absolutely too much effort... But anyhow, it was actually really interesting to see a couple of major trends in Oeltjen's career, the first being those ridiculous BABIP's that seemed to consistently rise through the minors. After the Reno BABIP I did I was immensely worried for Oeltjen's future, but it seems like he uses his speed very well to get on-base, and whatever type of ball he hits tends to allow him to reach base more often than not. The Reno number is his highest, but not by nearly as much as I'd expected. Further, it seems like his big slump year in the Twins' system before they cut him was largely due to a sharp drop-off in his BABIP (which would also explain why he went on to destroy the ball in the Olympics for Australia right after that season). The next trend I noticed that was disturbing, but helpful, was his ability (if it can be called this) to get hit by pitches. To go with 213 career walks in the minor-leagues, he also has 110 HBP's, making his OBP's solid despite his seemingly horrendouswalk rates. During two different seasons in the Twins' system, he was hit by a pitch 20 times. Another stat that is clearly worth bringing up is his career minor-league stolen base rate - he's 166-238 (.697) in career stolen base attempts. The home runs don't appear to be something that are likely to continue at such a torrid pace, of course, but Oeltjen appears to be capable of being a fourth or fifth outfielder given his last two monster seasons at AAA for the D-Backs.
On a sad but remarkable note, 1B Brandon Allen's on-base streak ended at twenty-five games on Saturday (August 8). Tonight though, he went 1-4 with his eleventh home run since joining Reno, in just 123 PAs. His line is still .315/.392/.667 in a more significant sample size. OPS still over 1.000 - have to be impressed that he's kept it up to an extent.
OF Cole Gillespie still is struggling to get in a groove in AAA-Reno... sort of. His batting average is .217, but his full line is .217/.385/.350 for a respectable OPS of .735. One of the most confusing lines I've ever seen. 16 walks in 76 PA's, and with just 16 K's.
RHP Billy Buckner had another great outing for Reno, going seven shutout innings with 10 K's, 4 H, and 2 BB, lowering his ERA to 3.29. Making things interesting for next year's rotation. I could see Buckner sneaking past Petit and being fourth until Webb returns now that Jarrod Parker appears to be out of the picture for 2010's rotation.
RHP Barry Enright went six shutout to get a win for Mobile. Enright's ERA dips below 4, to 3.98.
OF A.J. Pollock had yet another good game in South Bend, hitting out of the leadoff spot. He went 2-4 with a double, a triple, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 RBI, and 1 SB. If he keeps this up this torrid pace, I might not get a chance to see him when I go back to school in two weeks.
RHP Ryan Cook threw six innings and allowed one run, scattering 4 H, 3 BB, and 4 K's in earning the win for the SilverHawks. His ERA drops to 3.46.
Yakima LHP Daniel Taylor threw seven dominating shutout innings, giving up just 2 H and 1 BB while notching 10 K's. The Bears won 5-0, and Taylor's ERA fell to 4.67.
Missoula 1B Paul Goldschmidt's last ten games: 17-37, .459/.545/.811, 7 doubles, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 6/7 K/BB, and a stolen base for good measure. He was named the Pioneer League Player of the Week.
A good Hatchlings Report for today, as all of the prospects covered appear to be progressing as expected or faster than expected - as long as the organization is letting them do so (admittedly I got on a bit of an angry rant in that Matt Torra section...). Just ten more and then I'll cover the '09 draft picks of note, as well as anybody else you all want to hear about (I'll be taking suggestions). Wow. Check that publishing time. Yikes........ :-P