Sea Dogs TV? Favorite Sea Dog and EL Top Prospects
The Nationals have proven over the past year that they are more than willing to spend what it takes to become a top contender. The question now is whether all their heavy investments will pan out. Especially since a good chunk of their spending came in the draft, in order to get young talent. The depth in the system isn’t quite there, but the Nats definitely have some names that jump off the page, like these:
Bryce Harper, OF – Everyone around baseball has known about Harper since Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Chosen One” as a 16-year-old in 2009. With that kind of hype, Harper could be billed as the LeBron James of baseball. At just 18, if the talk turns to truth, Harper will almost assuredly be in Harrisburg. The only question might be how long he’ll stay.
Derek Norris, C – After injury issues the past two seasons, Norris hopes a move to Harrisburg will keep him healthy in 2011. When on the field, he’s an offensively gifted catcher, with tremendous plate discipline. He still needs work on the finer nuances of catching, but his arm strength and accuracy are big weapons in holding down would-be base stealers. Barring further injury, Norris’ rise to the majors could coincide with Stephen Strasburg’s return.
Sammy Solis, LHP – He doesn’t have the physical attributes that stand out like some of the other prospects in the system. However, Solis will eat up innings the way Kobayashi gobbles hot dogs. He features three pitches: a devastating changeup, solid fastball and knuckle-curve, all of which he can throw for strikes. Threw just two innings last year after getting drafted, but could get a taste of Double-A if his first half goes well.
New Britain Rock Cats – Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins
The Twins are one of those organizations that appears to focus more on their own business than the business of others. Not surprisingly, that approach leads to a lot of homegrown talent, some who stay (Joe Mauer) and some who go (Johan Santana). There’s another crop on the way soon, although there might be a slight gap at the Double-A level.
Liam Hendricks, RHP – A former Aussie Rules Football player prior to signing with the Twins, Hendricks sports a four-pitch mix with a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. All can be thrown for strikes, but none is a pitch that he can rest his laurels on. He pitched to a sub-2.00 ERA last year between Low-A and High-A, and will look for those results with the Rock Cats in 2011.
, RHP – Another solid arm that Minnesota hopes to add to its future rotation, Wimmers is similar to Hendricks in that his stuff is all very good, just not great. He gave up virtually nothing in his four starts last season after getting drafted. However, the Twins patience may keep out of New Britain for this season, unless Wimmers forces his way up.
Angel Morales, OF – Although patient so far, the Twins are waiting for Morales (drafted in 2007) to really make the leap and become an impact player at the higher levels. He’s very athletic and has a good bat, but there are holes in his swing that he’s not learned to protect or eliminate. If his numbers start to improve during his second year in Advanced-A, a promotion to New Britain could be in the cards.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays
Our rivals in the Eastern League the Fisher Cats have relied on the strength of their pitching the past couple of seasons. Headlined by Kyle Drabek last year, the Toronto organization now looks to some of their position prospects to pan out.
Deck McGuire, RHP – One can never have enough pitching, and McGuire is the next big name to come through the organization. The ACC Pitcher of the Year in 2010, McGuire did not play after getting drafted and will likely debut at a lower level. However, his maturity and polish could necessitate an early promotion to Double-A.
Anthony Gose, OF – Fans last year will remember Cats leadoff man Darin Mastoianni and his prowess on the basepaths. Gose is in the same mold and will steal his fair share of bags. Though he was thrown out a bunch last year as well (32 times), he still managed more than enough thefts (45) to be problematic. He still needs some work at the plate both average and power-wise, so he probably won’t start in New Hampshire, but could easily earn a promotion with some solid production.
Travis D’Arnaud, C – One of the better all-around catchers to come through recently, D’Arnaud could be the everyday backstop for New Hampshire in 2011. He’s got a solid bat and will for average with a little bit of power. His throwing arm is strong but could use some work on his accuracy. If he’s not plagued by back problems again, he’ll be challenging former Fisher Cat J.P. Arencibia for the starting Toronto job very soon.
Reading Phillies – Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies
For a team that comes into the season boasting four top end pitchers on its major league team, you’d think the Phillies have minimal needs from their minor league staffs. You’d be wrong. There’s another solid crop of pitching talent on its way, and although most of it will be at the lower levels, a few guys will push their way to Reading.
Brody Colvin, RHP – Colvin survived a couple early shellings to finish with a 3.39 ERA with Low-A Lakewood last year. His fastball is his chief weapon, generally sitting in the low to mid-90s, he can also ratchet it up to 97 on the gun. It’s complimented with a curveball and a changeup. The mechanics may need some more work in terms of consistency, but his stuff could force a move to Double-A.
Phillippe Aumont, RHP – Now that his role is settled as a reliever, the Phillies hope Aumont can improve his location. He was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle, and though they got Lee back, Philly hopes that Aumont can help stabilize what has been their weak link over the years. Aumont relies on a hard, diving sinker and an upper-90s fastball. He could start the year as Reading’s closer.
J.C Ramirez, RHP – Another component to the Lee deal, Ramirez also has underperformed since joining the Phillies’ organization. He managed to stick with Reading last year, although did not put up terrific numbers in the second half of the season (5.45 ERA in 78 IP). He’ll get another shot in 2011, and may end up moving to the bullpen for a quicker track to the majors.
Richmond Flying Squirrels – Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants
Now the poster child organization after winning a World Series in 2010, it’s a wonder what’s left of the Giants system after so many homegrown guys were needed to win the trophy. Though the names moving up probably won’t have the same impact as guys like Lincecum, Posey and Bumgarner, there’s still some talent to be had for the Giants.
Francisco Peguero, OF – MVP of the California League (Advanced-A) playoffs in 2009, and helped San Jose to another title last year. Peguero’s got plenty of speed and power, leading to Vladamir Guerrero comparisons, especially because he could afford to be a lot more patient at the plate. That patience could be tested this year as he moves into Double-A for the first time.
Ehire Adrianza, SS – A wizard with the glove, Adrianza, like Boston’s Jose Iglesias, is already a major league caliber shortstop. He’s got a great first step and can throw accurately, even on the move. The one thing holding him back is his offense. He’s a switch hitter and doesn’t really excel from either side, getting pull-happy at times. He should be a regular with Richmond in 2011.
Charlie Culberson, 2B – Culberson jumped back into high-level prospect status with a terrific 2010 at Advanced-A San Jose. He hit .290 with 16 homers and 71 RBI. Part of the major improvement was his increased willingness to take pitches. That approach coupled with his already solid swing, could lead to more big things with Richmond.
Trenton Thunder – Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees
It won’t delight Sox fans, but the Yankees organization does bring along some top prospects every now and then. While, it seems like more often they’re trade bait, occasionally New York does bring in some homegrown talent.
Dellin Betances, RHP – The New York native is the closest the Yanks have to a young arm that might be ready to contribute in the rotation. Betances has a mid-90s fastball and an above-average curveball with sharp break. He also mixes in a changeup which is still a work in progress. He still needs to work on his mechanics as he tends to get out of line and lose command of the plate, but all eyes are sure to be on him with Trenton this season, hoping he can move up soon.
Manny Banuelos, LHP – Turning just 20 years old this month, Banuelos has good velocity (low 90s) for a smaller pitcher (5’5, 155lbs). He’ll likely spend the entire 2011 season with Trenton working on his secondary pitches. His curveball and changeup need consistency, and Banuelos needs to show he can handle a starter’s workload.
Adam Warren, RHP – Warren pitched well down the stretch for the Thunder last year and will start 2011 in Trenton as well. He relies almost exclusively on his fastball which has decent velocity and has good command. However, he probably won’t go too far until he develops and polishes his secondary pitches.