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The SnakePit Hatchlings Report: Brandon Allen and Cole Gillespie

As promised, my Hatchling Report work is not quite finished, as I still have to cover the prospects acquired by the Diamondbacks via trade this summer, as well as Rusty Ryal, who was not on the list of top-50 Diamondbacks prospects, but who has been called up to the majors and has been off to a rousing start in the major leagues, setting himself up to possibly take over the starting second-base job in 2010.  So, as I have two nights left in the Valley of the Sun before going to Wisconsin and then off to South Bend, I'll split up the work and cover what is admittedly the more intriguing pair IMO tonight, in Brandon Allen and Cole Gillespie, before moving on to Ryal and Roque Mercedes tomorrow.

1B Brandon Allen (ranked #4 in CWS system in 2009 according to Baseball America).  Born January 12, 1986.  23 years old.  Drafted in the 5th round in 2004 by the Chicago White Sox.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 94 / Speed: 55 / Contact: 12 / Patience: 43.

2009 Stats: Split between AA-Birmingham, AAA-Charlotte, and AAA-Reno (currently in Reno)

AA-Birmingham - 62 games, .290 BA, .372 OBP, .452 SLG, .824 OPS (average Southern League OPS: .713), 47 K, 30 BB (1.6:1 K/BB ratio), .162 ISO, 17.3% K-Rate, 11.1% BB-Rate, .335 BABIP.

AAA-Charlotte - 15 games, .262 BA, .262 OBP, .377 SLG, .639 OPS (average International League OPS: .723), 13 K, 0 BB (RatioFAIL), .115 ISO, 21.3% K-Rate, 0% BB-Rate, .319 BABIP.

AAA-Reno - 34 games, .348 BA, .427 OBP, .697 SLG, 1.124 OPS (average Pacific Coast League OPS: .758), 21 K, 16 BB (1.3:1 K/BB ratio), .349 ISO, 14.2% K-Rate, 10.8% BB-Rate, .343 BABIP.

2008 Stats: Split between Hi-A Winston-Salem and AA-Birmingham

Hi-A Winston Salem - 89 games, .279 BA, .372 OBP, .527 SLG, .899 OPS (average Carolina League OPS: .727), 83 K, 41 BB (2.0:1 K/BB ratio), .248 ISO, 23.1% K-Rate, 11.4% BB-Rate, .344 BABIP.

AA-Birmingham - 41 games, .275 BA, .358 OBP, .614 SLG, .972 OPS (average Southern League OPS: .742), 41 K, 19 BB (2.2:1 K/BB ratio), .339 ISO, 23.8% K-Rate, 11.0% BB-Rate, .286 BABIP.

2007 Stats: Mid-A Kannapolis

Mid-A Kannapolis - 129 games, .283 BA, .337 OBP, .483 SLG, .820 OPS (average South Atlantic League OPS: .735), 124 K, 39 BB (3.2:1 K/BB ratio), .200 ISO, 22.3% K-Rate, 7.0% BB-Rate, .340 BABIP.

2006 Stats: Mid-A Kannapolis

Mid-A Kannapolis - 109 games, .213 BA, .257 OBP, .382 SLG, .639 OPS (average South Atlantic League OPS: .706), 126 K, 22 BB (5.7:1 K/BB ratio), .171 ISO, 30.2 K-Rate (!!!), 5.3% BB-Rate, .267 BABIP.

2005 Stats: Rookie-level Great Falls

Rookie-level Great Falls - 66 games, .264 BA, .366 OBP, .472 SLG, .838 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .774), 69 K, 32 BB (2.2:1 K/BB ratio), .208 ISO, 26.2% K-Rate, 12.2% BB-Rate, .325 BABIP.

2004 Stats: Rookie-level Bristol

Rookie-level Bristol - 58 games, .205 BA, .280 OBP, .314 SLG, .594 OPS (average Appalachian League OPS: .727), 60 K, 16 BB (3.8:1 K/BB ratio), .109 ISO, 29.9% K-Rate, 8.0% BB-Rate, .282 BABIP.

Of all of the ridiculous stats Brandon Allen has accumulated over his brief time in Reno, perhaps the most mind-boggling one of all is that, through 34 games, his ISO is higher than his batting average (admittedly by one point, but he did the same thing by a larger margin in '08 with AA-Birmingham when his low BABIP killed his batting average but high home run total spiked his slugging percentage).  Now, a home run in exactly every 11 at-bats may not be completely sustainable, but we have to start to realize that small sample-size excuses are starting to fade.  The guy is 132 ABs into his stay at Reno as compared to just 61 in Charlotte, so those excuses might start being shifted from explaining why he has been so good to instead why he was not so good in the International League.  The most encouraging sign for me that Allen is legitimately improving and going to be a valuable piece for us in the majors is that his K/BB ratio has steadily improved since ballooning in 2006 in his first season out of rookie-ball (with the exception of his 13:0 ratio in Charlotte that we can pin to the fact that it was just 15 games and 61 ABs).  That, and his Reno explosion, while assisted by an unheard-of HR spree, is not assisted by BABIP, so it's not as unsustainable as would be expected.  Slate Allen in as the starting 1B everyday in 2010, a ridiculous feat considering that two years ago he started the season in Hi-A (this is a testament to the White Sox's pushing him through the minors at a fast pace once he broke through Mid-A and didn't stop producing at any level).  He's just better than Josh Whitesell, both in Reno this season and in long-term potential for this franchise.  The kid has played six season in the minor-leagues, but will be just 24 years old next season, as he came out of HS at age 18, and is going to get a lot better.  If the K's can continue to diminish and BB's keep increasing, he'll be special.


OF Cole Gillespie (ranked #5 in Brewers' system and #107 in MLB in 2009 according to, ranked #9 in Brewers' system in 2009, #5 in Brewers' system in 2008, and #8 in Brewers' system in 2007 according to Baseball America).  Born June 20, 1984 (best birthday of the year - my birthday  :-P).  25 years old.  Drafted in the 3rd round in 2006 by Milwaukee.  The Baseball Cube ratings - Power: 86 / Speed: 72 / Contact: 52 / Patience: 95.

2009 Stats: Split between Hi-A Brevard County*, AAA-Nashville, and AAA-Reno (currently in Reno)

Hi-A Brevard County* - 12 games, .349 BA, .431 OBP, .605 SLG, 1.036 OPS (average Florida State League OPS: .684), 11 K, 7 BB (1.6:1 K/BB ratio), .256 ISO, 22% K-Rate, 14% BB-Rate, .438 BABIP.

AAA-Nashville - 75 games, .242 BA, .332 OBP, .424 SLG, .756 OPS (average Pacific Coast League OPS: .758), 56 K, 31 BB (1.8:1 K/BB ratio), .182 ISO, 21.0% K-Rate, 11.6% BB-Rate, .282 BABIP.

AAA-Reno - 27 games, .325 BA, .448 OBP, .542 SLG, .990 OPS (average Pacific Coast League OPS: .758), 17 K, 19 BB (1:1.1 K/BB ratio), .217 ISO, 16.7% K-Rate, 18.6% BB-Rate, .369 BABIP.

*Started 2009 in Hi-A Brevard County for rehab assignment.

2008 Stats: AA-Huntsville

AA-Huntsville - 131 games, .281 BA, .386 OBP, .472 SLG, .858 OPS (average Southern League OPS: .742), 102 K, 75 BB (1.4:1 K/BB ratio), .191 ISO, 19.0% K-Rate, 14.0% BB-Rate, .331 BABIP.

2007 Stats: Hi-A Brevard County

Hi-A Brevard County - 129 games, .267 BA, .378 OBP, .420 SLG, .798 OPS (average Florida State League OPS: .713), 95 K, 72 BB (1.3:1 K/BB ratio), .153 ISO, 18.2% K-Rate, 14.1% BB-Rate, .314 BABIP.

2006 Stats: Rookie-level Helena

Rookie-level Helena - 51 games, .344 BA, .466 OBP, .548 SLG, 1.014 OPS (average Pioneer League OPS: .738), 34 K, 41 BB (1:1.2 K/BB ratio), .204 ISO, 15.0% K-Rate, 18.1% BB-Rate, .381 BABIP.

Yes, the BABIP in Reno is high, but if you expect him to fall all the way back to his numbers from Nashville, think again.  Both the fact that his BABIP in Nashville was actually low and due for some regression upwards, as well as the fact that he's finally getting over the injury that plagued him at the start of the season, forcing him to start out in Hi-A, have been two huge factors in Gillespie finding his groove (in a big way) in Reno.  It's pretty easy to see why Gillespie was such a highly-regarded prospect before he got hurt.  He's got a lot of pop in his bat and has high on-base percentages because of his good ability to draw walks.  He's fairly old for a prospect, and will be 26 midway through next season, but he's a guy who can provide some big-league value as a fourth or fifth OF as soon as next season.  Truly, our OF saga for next season gets even more complicated by Gillespie's absolute tear as of late, and the D-Backs are left with a mess to sort out in their "8 OFs, 3 Cups" dilemma.  Just like the D-Backs' having two starting catchers, it's a great problem to have.  Not too bad for a guy who was thought to be the second-best piece received in the Felipe Lopez trade.  Expect to see him in September, and if he makes an impression, it's definitely bye-bye Eric Byrnes, and Gillespie could chase Trent Oeltjen or Alex Romero out of a roster spot next spring, as he has a higher ceiling than either of them (but no accent).


Hatchling Bites

AAA-Reno - Cole Gillespie continues to be awesome, going 1-4 with a 3-run HR, but Daniel Cabrera is the real story here.  Not, however, in a good way.  In the way that he gave up six earned runs in one inning of work off of three walks and four hits.  Reno couldn't recover from that suckitude, despite Seth Etherton's seven solid innings of 2-run relief.  Reno wound up losing 8-3 to Albuquerque.  Chris Young and Eric Byrnes each went 1-4 with a double and a strikeout.

AA-Mobile - Tom Layne was just short of a quality start, going 5.2 innings and allowing 3 ER, but Roque Mercedes and Abe Woody each put forth crappy relief performances, each going 1.1 innings, with Mercedes giving up one earned and Woody giving up two earned.  Offensively, Cyle Hankerd and Bryan Byrne each had two hits, and Ricardo Sosa smacked three singles of his own.  Chris Rahl's two-RBI triple was the biggest blow the BayBears recorded on the night.

Hi-A Visalia - Crappy pitching was the story for Visalia tonight, with Josh Collmenter (5 IP, 4 ER), Bryan Shaw (2 IP, 3 ER), and Bill Spottiswood (2 IP, 2 ER) all having poor nights.  Konrad Schmidt had a good night, going 3-4 with a walk, a double, and a two-run homer, driving in two and scoring twice.  Ed Easley went 2-4 with a walk, a double, 1 RBI, and 2 R.  Ollie Linton went 2-5, scoring once and driving one in himself.

Mid-A South Bend - Randy Rodriguez gave up nine runs through 3.2 IP, and the SilverHawks mustered just six hits, three of which were hit by A.J. Pollock, who was one of the two runners to score off of Reynaldo Navarro's two-RBI double in the eighth, when the game was well out of hand.  South Bend lost to West Michigan 9-2.

Low-A Yakima - 15 hits by Yakima and a 10-3 lead in the middle of the third withstood some Eugene rallies, and Yakima won 10-7.  Amongst a plethora of good performances by the Bears, Gerson Montilla's 3-5 evening with 4 RBI, 2 R, and just a double short of the cycle stood outs, as well as Brent Greer's three-hit, two-RBI night.

Rookie-level Missoula - Aside from a crappy night on the field, in which the Osprey's four unearned runs in the ninth were way too little, way too late against the Orem Owlz, ending in a 9-4 loss, Bobby Borchering also still had not managed to report to the team for the game, leaving very little to be excited about.  Ender Inciarte, David Nick, and Raywilly Gomez each recorded three hits in the loss, though.