Today's post is the fifth of this series of ten. Hard to believe that we've already made some series progress in getting through this. However, many of you might notice that there is (or, if you're quick in getting to this, there will be) a FanPost with my abbreviated top-30. Well, I decided to do this, after a recommendation from Jim, because people had told me that it was hard to have discussion without knowing who exactly was ranked ahead of those listed.
So I've anticlimactically posted the top-30 now with shortened blurbs, and will use the rest of these posts as a way to help provide some more insight on the guys listed. Hopefully this winds up being better for everybody who is interested in the list
Today we crack into the top-30, and also begin shortening the posts as we inch closer to the reports on the truly highly-regarded prospects. Two relief arms that could (unlikely as it may be) see time on the big-league club begin the list, followed by a top-10 prospect from a year ago whose stock his fallen dramatically. Two Missoula starters follow, and Corby joins in again today to give his spiel on one of these young starting arms. Unfortunately, though, Google Docs' failure throughout this week means that I once again couldn't get this to Wes on time. Sorry again, Wes.
26 - RHP Bryan Shaw - 11/8/1987 - 22 years old - Highest Level: Double-A - IHSB's '09 rank: HR
Acquired by the D-backs in the 2nd round of the 2008 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - AA: 33 games (13 GS), 101 1/3 IP, 4.26 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 75:43 K:BB, 4 HR, 54.7% GB-Rate.
Video link (@ college)
Shaw hadn't put up hugely impressing numbers coming into 2010, coming of off a decent, but not dazzling, season in the pitcher's wasteland that is known as the Cal League. Further, his short, 5'10" frame means it's relief-or-bust for Shaw, despite starting this year in the rotation (Shaw was moved to the ‘pen when Wade Miley joined the BayBears from Visalia).
This year, though, Shaw's fastball/slider combo clicked and generated a solid number of swings-and-misses for the BayBears, making him a legitimate candidate to join the bullpen as soon as 2011 for the D-backs if needed, though the HR/FB rate of 4.3%* is worrisome. His AFL stint was impressive, as he posted a 6:2 K:BB in 7 1/3 innings of relief against some stiff competition.
There isn't closer material in Shaw's stuff, but there's plenty of probability and a set-up man ceiling here. For a team that needs a ‘pen makeover, that's a great piece.
27 - RHP Bryan Woodall - 10/24/1986 - 23 years old - Highest Level: Double-A - IHSB's '09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs in the 21st round of the 2008 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Hi-A: 29 games, 37 2/3 IP, 2.15 ERA, 1.63 FIP, 51:10 K:BB, 1 HR, 63.4% GB-Rate / AA: 15 games, 24 1/3 IP, 3.70 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 25:3 K:BB, 2 HR, 55.7% GB-Rate.
Woodall appeared out of nowhere in 2010 by utterly destroying the Cal League for the first half of the season. His stat line for the Rawhide featured almost mythical rates in strikeouts, walks, and ground-balls. After refusing to allow an earned run for over a month, Woodall was named a Cal League All-Star
The D-backs promoted him to Double-A, where Woodall continued his stellar work. His ERA inflated some, but his rates for the BayBears largely stood up just fine against those he posted for the Rawhide. After the year, Woodall was sent to the AFL, where he posted a 4:1 K:BB ratio in 6 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs.
Woodall's best offering is his curveball, which certainly has been a swing-and-miss offering in the minor leagues, and he has good sinking action on his fastball. Woodall's ceiling, unfortunately, is probably in the seventh inning due to his fastball topping out in the low-90's. Nonetheless, he could be yet another piece the D-backs use to try to revamp their bullpen as early as Opening Day 2011.
28 - 3B Ryan Wheeler - 7/10/1988 - 22 years old - Highest Level: Double-A - IHSB's '09 rank: #5
Acquired by the D-backs in the 5th round of the 2009 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Hi-A: 113 games, .284/.340/.404, 25 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 98:35 K:BB, .327 wOBA, .341 BABIP*. /
AA: 19 games, .254/.315/.433, 3 2B, 3 HR, 16:5 K:BB, .326 wOBA, .263 BABIP*.
Video link (with Keon Broxton and Paul Goldschmidt)
While Wheeler isn't as prolific of a prospect as he was a year ago, he isn't a guy to give up on just yet. Sure, it would be great if he could have maintained his trend of walking more often than he struck out, but a couple of bad months at Hi-A doesn't completely diminish all of the marvelous work of 2009, particularly after he just finished the year with a power surge at Double-A. He's been knocked down quite a bit, but at just 22 years old and out of A-ball, Wheeler has plenty of time to develop into a big-league contributor.
29 - LHP Patrick Schuster - 10/30/1990 - 19 years old - Highest Level: Rookie - IHSB's '09 rank: Also of Note
Acquired by the D-backs in the 13th round of the 2009 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Rookie: 15 games (15 GS), 76 2/3 IP, 3.76 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 60:34 K:BB, 3 HR, 50.6% GB-Rate.
The fabled thrower of high school no-hitters has put up some impressive numbers for the Osprey in 2010, beginning with his solid ground ball rate, which helped keep all but three balls inside the park. Unfortunately, he also received help from a low HR/FB rate of 4.3%*, which will regress up. This inevitable HR/FB regression means that while his K-rate, slightly above seven per nine innings of work, is solid, Schuster's walk rate of over four per nine innings could use some work.
Schuster's delivery involves a lot of moving parts, and thus is difficult to repeat perfectly, leading to difficulties controlling the baseball. As more advanced hitters start getting more balls in the air, those walks are going to have to be cut back, whether by perfecting his current delivery or by changing and simplifying it. However, any lefty with a serious chance to be a starter will be given plenty of time and opportunities to develop, and Schuster will likely be handed a spot in South Bend's Opening Day 2011 rotation.
30 - RHP Kevin Eichhorn - 2/6/1990 - 20 years old - Highest Level: Hi-A - IHSB's '09 rank: Also of Note
Acquired by the D-backs in the 3rd round of the 2008 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Rookie: 13 games (13 GS), 74.2 IP, 4.94 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 71:15 K:BB, 12 HR, 49.0% GB-Rate / Short-Season A: 1 game (1 GS), 6 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 5:3 K:BB, 0 HR, 47.4% GB-Rate / Hi-A: 1 game (1 GS), 5 2/3 IP, 6.35 ERA, 1.44 FIP, 5:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 17.4% GB-Rate.
Eichhorn is a rather intriguing prospect now that he's finally healthy and throwing. The difference, and problem, between us having Eichhorn and any 20-year-old newly-selected college arm from the 2010 draft is that Eichhorn has already burned three years on his minor league control clock. This means that he has to be close enough to the majors in three years that we are comfortable putting him on the 40-man roster, or else he can be snagged in the Rule 5 Draft and could later become a minor-league free agent.
As far as production goes, Eichhorn misses plenty of bats, though he should as a 20-year-old who had all but a handful of his 2010 starts in Rookie-ball. He's filled out a bit over the last couple of years, and can now regularly get his fastball into the 90's, but it isn't a plus pitch. HR/FB% really haunted him this year, and that will sort itself out to help regress Eichhorn's FIP and ERA to more dominant levels.
Still, the bottom line and the point that you can't help but go back to with Eichhorn is that he was a man amongst boys in 2010. So, we truly do need to see him throw well at South Bend, where he'll likely begin 2011, before we can start being bold about his future. Suffice it to say that 2011 is going to be an important year for Eichhorn.
Corby: This was the first year I got to view this kid for an entire season and I must say I continue to be impressed. When Kevin came to Missoula in 2008 he looked every bit a high school kid. But despite his smaller frame and boyish looks, he held good command of the mound the two times he pitched that year and this carried over into 2009. It was such a shame to lose him. We really could have used his arm against Orem in the Championship game. Probably didn't help that Keon Broxton got hurt just before the end of the season.
This year Kevin was a staple in the Osprey rotation, finishing second in Ks (71 Ks, 8.6 K/9) and leading all starting pitchers in WHIP (1.27). His fastball picked up a few extra MPH (I believe he sat in the 90-92 mph range, also I think we have a slow gun) which was strongly encouraging since this was his first year back from Tommy John. He still maintained very good command of his pitches and from my perspective his change-up was even better than I recall from 2007/2008.
I will also add that the Osprey struggled at times to produce hits and thus his ERA suffered, likely by at least a point. His future is bright, despite the fact he's technically been in Missoula three years. But I'd prefer to think of it this way: he's basically where we'd want him to be had he been drafted out of college instead of high school. This was the first year he didn't look like a high school kid, having gained some weight and sprigs of facial hair.
That's all for today's post. I'll get in Wes' stuff later if sends it to me, or else he could post it in the comments like he did a couple of weeks ago.