BA Chat Highlights BluGrass Baseball

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Travis Wood

The wonderful staff at Baseball America held its last “Prospect Hot Sheet” chat of the season Friday and it wasn’t without relevant BluGrass Baseball questions.  Check out those questions and answers plus more here, but I’ve provided a sampling of them below.

Steven (Kentucky): Who's will be the better ML pitcher...Robbie Ross or Christian Friedrich?

  • Ben Badler: Friedrich. Ten more strikeouts yesterday in the playoffs for him, by the way.

Brandon (Utah): Is Ryan Strieby now a better prospect than Cale Iorg?

  • Ben Badler: I think Strieby’s always been a better prospect than Iorg.

MIKE (PAINTSVILLE,KY): Where do you see tim beckham playing at in 2010

  • Ben Badler: Playing shortstop for high Class A Charlotte, but there are a lot of questions about whether he’ll remain at shortstop long term. He looked a lot thicker this year compared to when I saw him in the Appy League last year, and I know a lot of scouts who have seen him this year who have similar concerns about his ability to remain in the middle of the diamond.

Adam (NYC): Can you shed some light on the enigma that is John Shelby Jr.? What type of ceiling does he have with the White Sox? He seems to be up and down with his ability to play his tools, one night being electric and the next night looking lost.

  • Ben Badler: He’s got speed, but the bat has a long ways to go.

Mitch Dowden (Pickering, LA): Well it seems that Jason Castro will be in the top 100 but who else will join him? Possibly Jordan Lyles?

  • Ben Badler: Castro, Lyles and Jio Mier are all top 100 candidates. I saw Tim Beckham in the Appy League last year and saw Mier there this year. Beckham had more bat speed, but Mier had a better approach at the plate, was a better defender and a faster runner than Beckham.

Ted (new york): Ok, if your prospect of the year isn’t Travis Wood, why not? And while we’re on the topic, when does he join the cincy rotation and is he a #2 or #2 starter?

  • J.J. Cooper: Because our prospect of the year is based on prospect status combined with their production and the context of the season. Wood had a great season, but even with that, it’s hard to find scouts who see him being more than a back-end of the rotation starter. And with Cueto, Harang, Arroyo and Bailey already in Cincinnati (plus Edinson Volquez coming back from TJ at some point next year), Wood doesn’t have an easy path to a spot in the Reds’ rotation next year. That being said, I would expect to see him start in Cincinnati some next year.

Larry (Texas): What is the story on Logan Ondrusek. He rose through three levels for the Reds. Seems to be pitching pretty well this year. There is no information on him other than he is pitching extremely well and that he is pitching in the AFL.

  • J.J. Cooper: The move to the pen was a good one for him. He simplified his selection of pitches and focused on blowing away hitters with a 93-94 mph fastball that he can cut. He could be a part of the Reds’ future big league bullpen.

BluGrass Baseball Awards: Bowling Green Hot Rods

Minor League Baseball

Kang, Kyeong 7905(Priddy).jpg

The Hot Rods finished 2009 at the bottom of the South Atlantic League Southern Division, and had more wins than only two teams in the league. The Hot Rods finished second-to-last in batting in the league and finished four from the bottom in team-ERA, but the team wasn’t lacking for prospects. We looked at the Legends’ batter and pitcher of the year Tuesday, so today we’ll look at Bowling Green’s.

Offensive Player of the Year — OF Kyeong Kang

  • Kang didn’t lead the team in home runs or RBI, and he just missed qualifying for the league batting race. Kang, the first South Korean to be selected in MLB’s amateur draft, didn’t make his 2009 debut until May 12 so he only appeared in 89 games.  So why exactly was he the offensive player of the year? Well, there wasn’t a lot of competition, and Kang made up for lost time with his second-half performance.  The outfielder’s season highlight was being selected to the Futures Game, but he also batted .307 with a .390 on-base percentage and team-high .880 OPS.  In the second half of 2009, Kang batted .328 with four home runs and 26 RBI with a .940 OPS.
  • 2008 MLB first-overall draft pick Tim Beckham was Kang’s chief competition for the award.  Beckham held his own during his first full professional season, batting .275 with five home runs and a team-high 63 RBI, but his two-month slump to the tune of .245 batting average in June and July lost him the war.

Pitcher of the Year — LHP Matthew Moore

  • Just as in Lexington the pitching award was much more competitive that the offensive one. Matthew Moore led the minor leagues with 176 strikeouts, he ranked second on the team in wins (8) and innings pitched (123).  Moore was even better in the second half of the season with a 5-2 record and 2.91 ERA in 13 games.
  • Chris Andujar led the team in wins (10) and ERA (2.70).  His 2.70 ERA was fourth-best in the South Atlantic League, and if he hadn’t spent 14 games in the bullpen he might have taken the award from Moore.

Beckham on BA’s Prospect Hot Sheet

Minor League Baseball

Tim Beckham

Baseball America ranked Bowling Green shortstop, and Tampa Rays top prospect Tim Beckham number eight on its “Prospect Hot Sheet.” Beckham extended his hitting streak to 11 games Friday night and was 12-24 (.500) with four doubles and six runs scored on the week.  According to BA “Overall, Beckham’s first season has been a success.”

BA also includes Louisville starting pitcher Travis Wood and EKU alum Christian Friedrich in the “In The Team Photo” of the Hot Sheet.  BA’s Connor Glassey responded to a question about Friedrich in the Hot Sheet chat by saying he thinks Friedrich should rank in the top 10 of 25 prospects in baseball following the season.

Monday Links: Bowling Green Loses Again

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

beckham

With their sixth straight loss the Bowling Green Hot Rods fell eight games out of first place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division.  Check out the Hot Rods’ dwindling playoff hopes and other storylines in some Monday morning hot links:

Saturday Links: Louisville Offense Explodes

Minor League Baseball

Chris Heisey

The Bats put on an offensive clinic and the Legends lost their 12th game in a row.  Check out those stories and more in Saturday’s hot links:

Game Time Notes

Minor League Baseball

Travis Wood

Louisville Bats @ Lehigh Valley IronPigs

  • The Bats will send minor-league ERA leader Travis Wood to the mound tonight against the IronPigs.  Wood has a 1.14 ERA between Carolina and Louisville.  Travis is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts for Louisville with 13 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched.  Wood is finally cashing in on the talent that caused Baseball America to rank him as the third best prospect in the Reds organization in 2006 behind Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce.  Wood has struck out 116 in 137 innings on the season, and opponents are only batting .191 against the lefty.
  • The Bats picked up their 2,000th win since returning to Louisville in 1982 on Sunday.  Louisville was a charter member of the National League in 1876, and the city has had a professional team in all but 20 years since.
  • Bats’ slugger Kevin Barker launched his 22nd home run of the season Monday.  Barker’s 22 home runs are second most in the International League, and his 65 RBI rank fifth in the league.  Barker is batting .321 with three home runs and 10 RBI in eight games in August.
  • The IronPigs will try and earn their first win of the season against Louisville with LHP Brian Mazone on the mound tonight.  Mazone is 1-4 with a 5.16 ERA for Lehigh Valley on the season and is 1-5 with a 6.31 ERA in 20 games this season between the IronPigs and Albany of the AAA Pacific Coast League.  Mazone took the loss in his last start after allowing five runs in four innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Thursday Links: Beckham’s Big Day

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Tim Beckham

Tim Beckham didn’t waste any time showing his promise after being named BluGrass Baseball’s top prospect among Kentucky minor leaguers.  The star shortstop was 4-5 with a grand slam in Bowling Green’s loss to Hagerstown Wednesday.  Beckham’s 52 RBI are third most in the Tampa organization.

  • Here’s the recap of Bowling Green’s 8-5 loss from the Hot Rods’ official Web site.
  • The Bats never came to play after an 1 1/2 rain delay and lost 2-1 to Buffalo.
  • The Legends’ first game of the homestand was rained out Wednesday.  Lexington will play a doubleheader against Lake County today to make up the missed game.
  • CBS Sports has a Q & A with Bowling Green pitcher Matt Moore.
  • Justin McGill at the Cadiz Record in Trigg County has a interesting story about the Legends’ role in the Lexington sports scene.
  • Eric Lindsey at “Cat Scratches” breaks down the home run numbers at Cliff Hagan Stadium last season.  (You have to scroll toward the bottom through the football news to see that post)
  • At first glance this story doesn’t have a lot to do with Bluegrass Baseball, but it’s a very interesting read.  The New York Times investigates MLB’s use of DNA testing to verify Latin baseball player’s age.  I link it here because these players could easily end up in Lexington or Bowling Green in the next couple of years, and the Times quotes a professor from the UofL School of Medicine.

BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects (Final Rankings)

Minor League Baseball

Christian Friedrich

In the final segment of the BluGrass Baseball Top Prospects series I’ll give you my personal top 10 prospects of both Kentucky schools’ alumni and Kentucky minor leaguers.  We’ll do this Letterman style with a countdown from 10 to one of each list.

Top 10 Prospects (Kentucky Alumni)

  • #10) RHP Chaz Roe — Colorado Rockies — Roe’s star has dimmed slightly since the Rockies selected him with the 32nd pick in the 2005 draft.  Roe had a significant hitch in his delivery coming out of high school that scared many scouts.  Following a strong season in 2007 at high A Modesto Roe was ranked the 10th best prospect in the Rockies system by Baseball America.  He struggled between Modesto and Tulsa in 2008, but has rebounded in 2009 with a 3-2 record, 3.08 ERA in 11 starts at Tulsa.  Opponents are batting only .208 against Roe.
  • #9) 3B Chris Dominguez — Oakland Athletics —Dominguez is the first 2009 draft pick to appear on this list and does so because of his plus power.  BA said his combination of power, speed and arm strength was as intimidating as any player’s in the draft.  Dominguez’s chief weakness is his ability to hit breaking balls and he’ll have to prove that he can adjust to professional pitching.  So far, so good for Dominguez with a .293 average, seven home runs and 19 RBI in his first 19 professional games.
  • #8) RHP Trystan Magnuson — Toronto Blue Jays — Magnuson bottomed out during Toronto’s experiment in converting him to a starter after he closed at Louisville.  Trystan was 0-9 with a 5.40 ERA in 24 starts in 2008, but he has excelled since moving back to the bullpen in 2009.  Magnuson is old (24) for the high A Florida State League, but opponents have been no match for him in the pen.  With a 4-0 record, 2.98 ERA and .246 opponents batting average Magnuson could be in line for a promotion soon.
  • #7) LHP James Paxton — Toronto Blue Jays — Paxton hasn’t pitched in a single professional game; he hasn’t even signed his contract.  If we assume he does sign with the Jays before the August deadline Paxton ranks this high on the top prospects list based solely on his high ceiling.  He was one of the youngest juniors in the country (21), is left handed, and has thrown as hard as 97 mph.  That combination could be lethal if he lives up to his talent in professional ball.
  • #6) OF Collin Cowgill — Arizona Diamondbacks — You can’t start a professional career much better than Cowgill did in 2008.  He finished the season as the short-season Northwest League leader in home runs with 11.  The interesting part of that statistic is he only played in 20 games in the league.  At 5’9 Collin will always have to outperform his stature.  If he reaches his potential he could be a second or third place hitter with a high on-base percentage and above-average power.  Collin has been on the DL for high A Visalia since June 15.
  • #5) OF John Shelby — Chicago White Sox — Shelby has struggled in 2009 at AA Birmingham with a .237 average, seven home runs and 38 RBI in 87 games.  Despite the struggles Shelby still represents one of the best power/speed combinations in the White Sox’s organization.  His 17 stolen bases this season show his speed hasn’t suffered any.  If Shelby can adjust to more advanced pitching he could turn into a plus defender in the outfield who could bat near the top of a major league lineup.
  • #4) 1B Ryan Strieby — Detroit Tigers — No Kentucky minor leaguer has been more consistent than Strieby.  Ryan has improved his batting average, home run and RBI totals in each season of his professional career.  While he has moved up the minor leagues Strieby has only improved and 2009 might be his best season yet with a .305 batting average, 17 home runs and 53 RBI in 76 games for AA Erie.  Strieby has been an all-star in each of the last three seasons and could become a middle of the lineup power/RBI threat for Detroit.
  • #3) LHP Robbie Ross — Texas Rangers — Ross signed too late to make his professional debut in 2008, but the he has lived up to his second-round hype in 2009.  Through seven starts for short-season Spokane, Ross is 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA.  In 35.1 innings Ross has 48 strikeouts and just 8 walks.  Opponents are batting just .231 against Ross.  Robbie is still young (20) and will be given every chance to move quickly up the Rangers’ farm system.  Ross featured a mid-90s fastball and impressive secondary pitches coming out of Lexington Christian Academy and could develop into a front of the rotation left-handed starting pitcher.
  • #2) OF Ben Revere — Minnesota Twins — When you lead the minor leagues with a .379 batting average and flirt with .400 for much of the season, rankings like this one come your way.  Revere has cooled a little in 2009 but is still holding his own with a .312 batting average at high A Fort Meyers.  The Lexington Catholic product has blazing speed as evidenced by his 33 steals in 89 games this season.  Ben almost never strikes out (just 33 in 343 at-bats in 2009) and has all the tools to develop into an all-star lead-off hitter in the future.
  • # 1) LHP Christian Friedrich — Colorado Rockies — With bookends Roe and Friedrich, the Rockies are the second organization with two prospects represented on this list.  Christian is an EKU alum with the best curveball in the Rockies’ system according to Baseball America.  Friedrich also features a low 90s fastball and a slider and changeup.  He has been lights out in 2009 with a 5-3 record and 2.11 ERA between low A Asheville and high A Modesto.  BA highlighted his sometimes spotty control as Friedrich’s principle weakness, but with 96 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 76.2 innings Friedrich has figured that out.

Hit the jump for the top ten prospects currently playing for Kentucky minor league teams.

Three Untouchables In The Bluegrass

Minor League Baseball

Jordan Lyles

Baseball America has released the most telling illustration of some of the current talent found in the Bluegrass State.  John Manuel has compiled a list of all the prospects in the minor leagues that he has deemed “untouchable” by their respective organizations.  Of the hundreds of minor league baseball players, only 13 were deemed completely untouchable by Manuel.  Of those 13 prospects, three are currently playing in Kentucky.

The teenage duo of Ross Seaton and Jordan Lyles was marked as the only untouchable prospects in the Houston Astros system by Manuel.  Seaton and Lyles are the aces of the Lexington Legends rotation.  Lyles ranks third in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts and Seaton ranks fifth in ERA.  The teammates represent the future for the abysmal Houston system that was ranked last among all 30 teams in organizational talent by Baseball America following the 2008 season.

Bowling Green also features an “untouchable” prospect in 2008 number-one overall pick SS Tim Beckham.  Beckham is the Rays top prospect and is the likely cornerstone of the Rays’ farm system.  Manual argues that trading Beckham who the Rays just paid a $6.15 million bonus would make no sense for the cash-strapped Rays.

Check in later today to find where Seaton, Lyles and Beckham rank on the BluGrass Baseball composite top prospects list.