The SnakePit Hatchlings Report: #26-30

So after some massive internet failures the last day and a half where I had to go to the far corner of my brother's room (the far corner of the house) to just barely pick up a neighbor's signal that I never use in order to have Facebook open in fifteen minutes, I'm finally back online and itching to do another Hatchlings Report.  Sorry to those of you who were astounded by the fact that I didn't post for two entire consecutive evenings.  Shocking, but there's your explanation.

So, in return for your patience, I'll likely have one more post later tonight to go along with this one to get down to the top-20 for the weekend.  The prospects for this piece are RHP Bryan Shaw, C John Hester, C Rossmel Perez, OF Cyle Hankerd, and RHP Billy Buckner.  As always, credit for the list goes to Scout.com.

#30 - RHP Bryan Shaw.  Born November 8, 1987.  21 years old.  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2008 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 82 / K-Rating: 85 / Efficiency: 92.

2009 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 19 games started, 4 games in relief, 94.1 IP, 4.48 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 83 K, 34 BB (2.4:1 K/BB ratio), 7.9 K/9IP, 3.2 BB/9IP.

2008 Stats: Split between Rookie-level Missoula and AA-Mobile

Rookie-level Missoula - 10 games in relief, 17.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 17 K, 7 BB (2.4:1 K/BB ratio), 8.8 K/9IP, 3.6 BB/9IP.

AA-Mobile - 11 games in relief, 22.1 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 16 K, 6 BB (2.7:1 K/BB ratio), 6.4 K/9IP, 2.4 BB/9IP.

Through two professional seasons, Shaw hasn't quite lived up to his billing as a second-round pick after three years at Long Beach State, but his '09 numbers are at least a little more reassuring than his '08 numbers, which dropped his ranking in the organization down to #30.  The ERA isn't amazingly encouraging, but his WHIP, K/9, and BB/9 are all good or managable, which may suggest that he has some positive regression headed his way in the last few months of the season if he can keep those numbers in the neighborhood of where they are now, especially with his 1.95:1 GO/AO ratio.  If he does see the ERA start to drop, I'd imagine he'd be on the fast-track back up through the system, possibly at AA next year at 22 years old, plenty young enough for the level - especially because he already had some success at that level in '08.

 

#29 - C John Hester.  Born September 14, 1983.  25 years old.  Drafted in the 13th round in 2006 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 79 / Speed: 53 / Contact: 34 / Patience: 31.

2009 Stats: AAA-Reno

AAA-Reno - 78 games, .333 BA, .375 OBP, .545 SLG, .920 OPS (average Pacific Coast League OPS: .757), 56 K, 16 BB (3.5:1 K/BB ratio), .212 ISO, 19.0% K-Rate, 5.4% BB-Rate, .396 BABIP.

2008 Stats: AA-Mobile

AA-Mobile - 92 games, .268 BA, .302 OBP, .475 SLG, .776 OPS (average Southern League OPS: .742), 78 K, 16 BB (4.9:1 K/BB ratio), .207 ISO, 24.2% K-Rate, 5.0% BB-Rate, .317 BABIP.

2007 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 79 games, .263 BA, .316 OBP, .424 SLG, .740 OPS (average California League OPS: .770), 64 K, 22 BB (2.9:1 K/BB ratio), .161 ISO, 20.1% K-Rate, 6.9% BB-Rate, .305 BABIP.

2006 Stats: Rookie-level Missoula

Rookie-level Missoula - 56 games, .271 BA, .370 OBP, .490 SLG, .860 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .738), 52 K, 27 BB (1.9:1 K/BB ratio), .219 ISO, 23.7% K-Rate, 12.3% BB-Rate, .336 BABIP.

Well, this is interesting.  The biggest question for Hester is precisely how much of that immense increase of production after the jump from Mobile to Reno is attributed to that equally immense jump in BABIP, which is all but certain to depreciate over the second half of the season and next season, when the D-Backs may call on Hester to back-up Miguel Montero in the event of a Chris Snyder trade.  Further, it'll be interesting to see how much of his raw power boost is due to the hitter's-league nature of the PCL (Colorado Springs, anybody?).  However, there's no denying that Hester's breakout is a great sign, as catchers are immensely valuable commodities and productive ones are all the better.  After making the jump from AA to AAA this season, the fact that his numbers went up shows that Hester is headed in the right direction, and if he continues to improve, he'll be a servicable backup next season.

 

#28 - C Rossmel Perez.  Born August 26, 1989.*  19 years old.*  Not Drafted - Signed out of Venezuela by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - No ratings.

* Age not certain as with all Venezuelan prospects - D.O.B. is according to Venezuelan papers.

2009 Stats: Mid-A South Bend

Mid-A South Bend - 70 games, .286 BA, .353 OBP, .337 SLG, .690 OPS (average Midwest League OPS: .701),

2008 Stats: Split between the Dominican Summer League and Rookie-level Missoula

Dominican Summer League - Statistics Not Available.

Rookie-level Missoula - 43 games, .243 BA, .323 OBP, .299 SLG, .622 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .777),

Any time you have a 19-year-old catcher in Mid-A, you've got to be happy about it, and Perez is a good one.  Was sent to Rookie-level Missoula after supposedly dominating the DSL, although the only stat I found that was proof of this was his .469 OBP, which I'd say is pretty sufficient evidence of dominance.  He had adjusted to playing in America this year fairly well, posting an OPS just below league-average as a catcher, and also supposedly handles himself well behind the plate.  Will likely be 20 years old in Hi-A next season - to put perspective on this, the three catchers who have played in Hi-A this season (aside from Chris Snyder's rehab stint) are 23-year-old Ed Easley, 25-year-old Konrad Schmidt, and 23-year-old James Skelton (demoted from AA).  The future's bright for this kid if he can stay healthy and not hit any major snags in development (although those are giant if's for a catcher...).

 

#27 - OF Cyle Hankerd.  Born January 24, 1985.  24 years old.  Drafted in the 3rd round in 2006 by Arizona.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 63 / Speed: 6 / Contact: 55 / Patience 39.

2009 Stats: AA-Mobile

AA-Mobile - 101 games, .273 BA, .349 OBP, .401 SLG, .750 OPS (average Southern League OPS: .712), 65 K, 30 BB (2.2:1 K/BB ratio), .128 ISO, 17.7% K-Rate, 8.2% BB-Rate, .313 BABIP.

2008 Stats: AA-Mobile

Note: Played in the 2008 Hawaiian Winter League, putting up a line of .318/.392/.545 and was named Offensive Player of the Year.

AA-Mobile - 123 games, .245 BA, .291 OBP, .333 SLG, .624 OPS (average Southern League OPS: .742), 67 K, 21 BB (3.2:1 K/BB ratio), .088 ISO, 14.7% K-Rate, 4.6% BB-Rate, .277 BABIP.

2007 Stats: Hi-A Visalia

Hi-A Visalia - 103 games, .285 BA, .368 OBP, .422 SLG, .790 OPS (average California League OPS: .770), 60 K, 35 BB (1.7:1 K/BB ratio), .137 ISO, 14.3% K-Rate, 8.3% BB-Rate, .315 BABIP.

2006 Stats: Split between Low-A Yakima and Hi-A Lancaster

Low-A Yakima - 54 games, .384 BA, .424 OBP, .519 SLG, .943 OPS (average Northwest League OPS: .691), 54 K, 13 BB (4.2:1 K/BB ratio), .135 ISO, 23.6% K-Rate, 5.7% BB-Rate, .491 BABIP.

Hi-A Lancaster -18 games, .369 BA, .474 OBP, .800 SLG, 1.274 OPS (average California League OPS: .763), 9K, 8 BB (1.1:1 K/BB ratio), .431 ISO, 12.3% K-Rate, 11.0% BB-Rate, .333 BABIP.

Played through a wrist injury in 2007 at Visalia, then destroyed the Hawaiian Winter League in 2008 after a disappointing season at Mobile with a low BABIP suggesting he deserved better, and was assigned to repeat Mobile again this season.  In his second season in AA with positive regression of BABIP, he's seen improved results aside from a higher K-Rate.  Hankerd isn't too old for his age at AA, but it would have been nice if he had made a more difinitive push for an assignment to AAA next season than what we've seen.  However, with the Southern League being brutally pitcher-oriented this season, it's hard to imagine him not being in Reno in 2010 at 25.  Next year will be a big for Hankerd, and if he plays well, he may end up as a big-league fourth or fifth outfielder as early as 2011.

 

#26 (Ranked #8 according to Baseball America) - RHP Billy Buckner.  Born August 27, 1983.  25 years old.  Drafted in the 2nd round in 2004 by Kansas City - Acquired in Alberto Callaspo trade.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Control: 59 / K-Rating: 80 / Efficiency: 46.

2009 Stats: Split between AAA-Reno and MLB-Arizona (Currently in AAA-Reno)

AAA-Reno - 11 games started, 2 games in relief, 68.0 IP, 3.71 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 63 K, 37 BB (1.7:1 K/BB ratio), 8.3 K/9IP, 4.9 BB/9IP.

MLB-Arizona - 7 games started, 3 games in relief, 40.2 IP, 8.63 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 33 K, 15 BB (2.2:1 K/BB ratio), 7.3 K/9IP, 3.3 BB/9IP.

2008 Stats: Split between AAA-Tucson and MLB-Arizona

AAA-Tucson - 20 games started, 1 game in relief, 116.1 IP, 4.95 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 69 K, 43 BB (1.6:1 K/BB ratio), 5.3 K/9IP, 3.3 BB/9IP.

MLB-Arizona - 10 games in relief, 14.0 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 11 K, 4 BB (2.8:1 K/BB ratio), 7.1 K/9IP, 2.6 BB/9IP.

2007 Stats: Split between AA-Wichita, AAA-Omaha, and MLB-Kansas City

AA-Wichita - 3 games started, 1 game in relief, 19.1 IP, 4.66 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 13 K, 6 BB (2.2:1 K/BB ratio), 6.1 K/9IP, 2.8 BB/9IP.

AAA-Omaha - 15 games started, 12 games in relief, 104.2 IP, 3.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 83 K, 26 BB (3.2:1 K/BB ratio), 7.1 K/9IP, 2.2 BB/9IP.

MLB-Kansas City - 5 games started, 2 games in relief, 34.0 IP, 5.29 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 17 K, 16 BB (1.1:1 K/BB ratio), 4.5 K/9IP, 4.2 BB/9IP.

2006 Stats: Split between Hi-A High Desert and AA-Wichita

Hi-A High Desert - 16 games started, 90.0 IP, 3.90 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 85 K, 47 BB (1.8:1 K/BB ratio), 8.5 K/9IP, 4.7 BB/9IP.

AA-Wichita - 13 games started, 75.2 IP, 4.64 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 63 K, 39 BB (1.6:1 K/BB ratio), 7.5 K/9IP, 4.6 BB/9IP.

2005 Stats: Split between Mid-A Burlington and Hi-A High Desert

Mid-A Burlington - 11 games started, 60.1 IP, 3.88 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 60 K, 17 BB (3.5:1 B/BB ratio), 9.0 K/9IP, 2.5 BB/9IP.

Hi-A High Desert - 17 games started, 94.0 IP, 5.36 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 92 K, 46 BB (2:1 K/BB ratio), 8.8 K/9IP, 4.4 BB/9IP.

2004 Stats: Rookie-level Idaho Falls

Rookie-level Idaho Falls - 5 games started, 2 games in relief, 30.0 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 37 K, 4 BB (9.3:1 K/BB ratio), 11.3 K/9IP, 2.5 BB/9IP.

Now that is a lot of stats.  The biggest pattern I could find amongst this is a very simple and very obvious one - when Buckner limits his walks, he pitches well.  When he starts giving guys free bases, the wheels begin to fall of a little.  His time in the majors this year seems to leave a bit of a rotten taste in people's mouths, but I tend to think it's less horrible than the numbers would suggest.  Yes, he did have three truly awful starts, May 27 against San Diego (5 IP, 5 ER - he had gone 5 IP and allowed just 2 ER, then allowed 1 ER without getting up a walk before Clay Zavada came in and let two inherited runners score), June 9 against San Francisco (5.2 IP, 8 ER), and June 14 against Houston (5 IP, 6 ER - Buckner loaded the bases in the sixth while getting no outs, Boyer came in and let two inherited runners score).  But in each of those he lasted into the fifth inning to at least give the team a fighting chance, and in the San Francisco start he went 5 innings and had allowed 5 runs before being sent back out to the wolves in the sixth, and got just two outs while coughing up three runs when he had no business still pitching.  On a similar, if not worse, level is his June 20 start against the Mariners.  I remember this start distinctly because I was out bowling on my birthday while watching the game on the TV over by the bar.  Buckner had escaped a pretty serious jam in the sixth inning, having kept his shutout intact, but was clearly gassed.  Clearly.  I was watching the game in between times when I had to bowl and conversing with people I hadn't seen in a year, and I could still tell.  Any manager in baseball should have known that six shutout innings from Billy Buckner on the road against an American League team was a blessing, and not tried to stretch it.  But Hinch made a remarkable gaffe and sent Buckner back out for the seventh.  He didn't retire a batter amongst the four he faced (that's right, Hinch kept him out there for four batters), all of whom came around to score on Clay Zavada.  He should have had 6 IP and 0 ER put in the books for his effort, and instead was stuck with 6 IP and 4 ER.  So with those two starts, he was thrown into horrendous situations and ended up with an extra .2 IP and 7 ER where he was completely spent.  Subtract those from his 36.2 IP and 32 ER as a starter, and you're left with 36 IP, 25 ER, and a 6.25 ERA, which is much better than the 7.85 ERA he has as a starter this season, and was about as good as we had gotten from our fifth starter spot up until Petit's 14 scoreless inning streak.  That, plus a little bad luck on inherited runners scoring, and the fact that he is just 25 and threw a complete game shutout in his last AAA start all suggest that we shouldn't give up on Buckner as a potential solid fifth starter.

 

On an extremely-disheartening note, the D-Backs have shut down star prospect RHP Jarrod Parker for the rest of the season as a precaution due to "elbow tightness," and he'll reportedly have the elbow examined to make sure there isn't a more serious problem.  This is the second minor injury he's had this season, and likely drops his likelihood of contending for a rotation spot next season, as the organization will likely want for him to have more than just a handful of AA starts before hitting the show.  This likely spells AAA for Parker next season.  All we can hope is that these injuries are just a result of an increase in innings and Parker getting used to the workload, not a sign of future maladies.

 

Another Hatchlings Report in the books, as the prognoses continue to get better and better as we climb up the rankings, with Shaw and Perez both paying solidly for being so young in their levels, Hankerd set to hit AAA next season, Hester set to hit the majors next season, and Buckner having played much better in the majors than his numbers would suggest.

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