Another Thursday, another episode of IHSB's Top-50 Prospects List (/cue standard introduction). Now, I'll be the first to admit that this list is not perfect - far from it, as a matter of fact. I'll also be the first to admit that I probably have some pretty serious disagreements with what I imagine is the general perception of the industry (this obviously being because I have little idea what the perception of the industry is).
But if you want a feel for some of the more obscure names we have down on the farm, or a few extra details on your favorite prospect or two, I think this will be the place for you to go. Also, hopefully it will serve simply as a place where the general state of the system, or any players of interest, can be discussed, preferably ad nauseam, because I love prospects discussions.
The rest of the foreword nonsense, plus the actual prospect fun, after the break.
As per my Formatting Survey FanPost, this is going to be broken up into ten (subject to change) installments. The first post was "Part 1: Falling Off the List (a.k.a. Where I Messed Up Last Year)," which was put up a week ago to begin my off-season vindication.
Today's post is "Part 2: Missing the Cut," a few players in the system that landed just outside of the top-50 on the list, vaguely within the 51-60 region - this will be the shortest post, since I have small-ish blurbs written about them rather than large anecdotes.
Thankfully, though, Zephon has joined up with me and provided a little extra insight on the guys here. The plan then is for him to have his own prospect-by-prospect countdown at some point during "Part 3: The Top-50." This section will begin next week, with the first of two posts listing ten prospects each, #41-50 and then #31-40. Following these two posts will be posts of five prospects each, #26-30, #21-25, #16-20, #11-15, #6-10, and finally #1-5.
Part 2 - Missing the Cut:
RHP Andrea Pizziconi - 10/4/1991 - 18 years old - Highest Level: Short-Season A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs as a Free Agent in September 2009.
2010 Stats – Rookie: 4 games, 9 1/3 IP, 6.75 ERA, 4.81 FIP, 5:4 K:BB, 1 HR, 41.2% GB-Rate / Short-Season A: 13 games (6 GS), 39 2/3 IP, 1.59 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 22:15 K:BB, 4 HR, 47.2% GB-Rate.
IHSB: The D-backs’ first foray into the European market produced mediocre rates backed up by fantastic results at the Short-Season level, and also dabbled in Rookie-ball. Pizziconi is going to really need to improve headed into next year, though given his incredibly young age, he has plenty of time to do so.
Zephon: I was very happy to see the Diamondbacks enter the European market. I don't really know all that much about Pizziconi, but a quick glance at his numbers shows that the 18-year-old has some promise. 50 IP really isn't enough to make any real judgment, so this guy is a wait-and-see for me.
RHP Rafael Rodriguez - 9/24/1984 - 25 years old - Highest Level: MLB - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs in Dan Haren trade in July 2010; Signed by Los Angeles Angels as Free Agent in 2001.
2010 Stats - AAA (LAA): 37 games, 50 1/3 IP, 3.04 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 30:15 K:BB, 5 HR, 52.1% GB-Rate / AAA (ARI): 10 games, 13 IP, 9.00 ERA, 6.51 FIP, 7:6 K:BB, 3 HR, 58% GB-Rate / MLB (LAA): 1 game, 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 1:2 K:BB, 0 HR, 83.3% GB-Rate / MLB (ARI): 2 games, 2 2/3 IP, 6.75 ERA, 7.70 FIP, 2:1 K:BB, 1 HR, 50.0% GB-Rate.
IHSB: Rodriguez is a Quad-A caliber reliever acquired in the Dan Haren trade. He works with a sinker and slider, neither of which are plus, though the slider is the better of the two and had some nice tilt in his brief exposure to the big leagues this year. Unfortunately, he cannot miss a bat, and does not have good enough control to compensate for it, which will create issues for even the most ground-ball oriented of pitchers. Strangely, Rodriguez was not brought back up as a September call-up.
Want a Rafael Rodriguez Fun Fact?! I knew you did. Back in 2005, Rafael Rodriguez was ranked the ninth-best prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America (link). Who was he ahead of? Try Matt Garza, at #10. The list was headed by Carlos Gonzalez (#1) and Homer Bailey (#2). It's the little things in life that are the most amusing.
Zephon: I have no idea why Dipoto wanted this guy. He's a AAAA reliever who just doesn't miss enough bats to be a successful major league reliever. I don't think he even deserves to be in the almost-Top-50.
RHP Miguel Pena - 9/18/1990 - 20 years old - Highest Level: Short-Season A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs as a Free Agent; debuted at D-backs' affiliate in 2008 (cannot find further details).
2010 Stats - Short-Season A: 15 games (15 GS), 75 2/3 IP, 3.45 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 47:32 K:BB, 2 HR, 61.2% GB-Rate.
IHSB: Pena was one of the most consistent starters in the Bears’ rotation, and it’s easy to see the key to his success with a simple glance at his stat line. He doesn’t miss many bats, even in Short-Season ball, but Pena absolutely feasts on inducing ground balls from hitters. If Pena refines his control a little bit, he could be a ground-ball oriented version of Joe Saunders – low rates, but solid results and lots of innings consumed.
Zephon: How have I gone without hearing about this guy? Yeah, he walks a few too many batters and doesn't miss enough bats, but that ground-ball percentage is very nice.
OF Adam Eaton (blast you, Auto-Tag!) - 12/6/1988 - 21 years old - Highest Level: Short-Season A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs in the 19th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Rookie: 68 games, .385/.500/.575, 14 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 44:35 K:BB, .459 wOBA, .455 BABIP*. / Short-Season A: Joined for playoffs, zero regular season games.
IHSB: BABIP certainly helped Eaton out, but an OBP over .500 (and SLG of .575) is no easy feat. The real tests will be whether or not Eaton can keep up solid numbers in full-season ball, and whether or not he can play center field. If he can man center field, he’s a serious prospect, but if he needs to move to a corner, he is going to have to adjust to BABIP regression really well. Similar to the team’s aggressiveness in the past with the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Eaton could be given an everyday gig at Visalia in 2011.
Interesting factoid: despite playing in just 68 games for the Osprey, Eaton was hit by nineteen pitches. It sounds to me like someone is crowding the plate a li’l bit.
Zephon: An incredible debut season, but I want to see what he can do at a higher level, as he was a little old for Rookie-ball. I have a feeling BABIP is going to bite him in the ass next year. The amount of HBPs reminds me of the insane amount Carlos Quentin had throughout the minors.
3B Matt Helm - 9/1/1990 - 20 years old - Highest Level: Low-A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: Also of Note
Acquired by the D-backs in the 7th round of of the 2009 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Rookie: 32 games, .230/.302/.425, 7 2B, 5 HR, 50:9 K:BB, .310 wOBA, .362 BABIP*. / Low-A: 65 games, .210/.270/.275, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 85:15 K:BB, .250 wOBA, .329 BABIP*.
IHSB: The D-backs lured Helm away from college baseball with a significantly above-slot bonus, but Helm hasn’t wowed in the low minors. He displayed his power in Rookie-ball after struggling in full-season ball, so there is hope, but development is going slowly. Helm’s potential is far above what this slot would indicate, but he needs to be putting his bat where his bonus is – that’s an awful K:BB rate for anybody at Rookie-ball.
Zephon: Probably one of the biggest disappointments this year was Matt Helm's performance in Low-A. With the signing bonus he had, I expected a lot better from the home-grown product. He did do a little better in Rookie-ball, but that strikeout-to-walk ratio leaves a lot to be desired. There's still hope, though, as he is young.
RHP Bryan Henry - 2/15/1985 - 25 years old - Highest Level: AA - IHSB’s ’09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs in the 12th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - AA: 32 games (14 GS), 100 2/3 IP, 3.49 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 58:26 K:BB, 7 HR, 35.7% GB-Rate.
IHSB: Henry had a nearly identical season (not a nearly identical statistical line) to Kyler Newby‘s year – mediocre as a reliever and good as a starter. The notorious quick-worker has been playing in the Pan-Am games this off-season with the likes of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, and is likely will start 2011 at Triple-A. Henry doesn’t do anything well enough (miss bats, get grounders, limit walks) to be a serious prospect, though. Potential swingman, nothing more.
Zephon: I don't think there's much I can add to what IHSB has already said.
OF Evan Frey - 6/7/1986 - 24 years old - Highest Level: AA - IHSB’s ’09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs in the 10th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - AA: 131 games, .286/.373/.356, 23 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 89:67 K:BB, .330 wOBA, .342 BABIP*.
IHSB: Frey repeated Double-A with some success, but still profiles as a backup outfielder if anything. Doesn’t have enough pop in his bat to be an everyday player, and his plate discipline won’t be of much use if pitchers aren’t afraid of getting hit hard. It’s a shame that Frey’s prospect outlook would be so much different if he were right-handed and could man second base.
Zephon: Frey is excellent defensively, but he just doesn't have the offensive skill set to be an everyday outfielder in the major leagues. Perhaps he could be a solid fourth outfielder, pinch-runner (he is very fast), and defensive specialist, but I don't see much more of a future than that.
* Certain stats from minorleaguesplits.com, including all minor-league GB-Rate figures for pitchers, and some BABIP figures.
** Major-league GB-Rate figures from fangraphs.com.
*** FIP calculation is ( ( (3*BB) – (2*K) + (13*HR) ) / IP ) + 3.2