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Prospecting: 7-8-9

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Off the Charts at On Deck "Corpus Christi, Here I Come . . ."

  • Josh Anderson Was at the Ryan Camp; In Sickels' book

.282 BA/.329 OBP/.355 SLG  at AA Corpus Christi in 2005; 79K/29BB/1HR w/ 524 AB
Although he didn't dominate the Texas League in quite the same fashion as the Roadrunner had, Josh Anderson definitely plays the same game as Willy Taveras.  Sickels says that Anderson is "one of the fastest men I've ever seen on a baseball field," but is furthermore "sometimes a bit sloppy" in the outfield.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio is exactly backward for someone with little power, but there's reason to hope for an improvement, given the tools.  

Anderson was rated ninth in the Astros chain by Baseball America last year, but has fallen off for 2006, due to a campaign at Corpus Christi that was far from a disaster but still represented something of a decline in star power.  Anderson had actually compiled an OBP of .402 at Lexington in 2004.  Given an average outfield arm, and the ten career home runs in three professional seasons, he's going to have to get the onbase back into that area to have a chance to advance.  Look, there's no denying these pure speed guys are a lot of fun to watch; but how come none of 'em these days know how to take a walk?

  • Josh Flores Was at the Ryan Camp; In Sickels' book
        Number Ten on
    Baseball America's list
.335 BA/.384 OBP/.520 SLG at Rookie Greeneville in 2005; 57K/16BB/8HR w/ 248 AB
.278 BA/.316 OBP/.389 SLG at A Lexington in 2005; 4K/1BB/0HR w/ 18  AB

Like the caption says, On Deck's all over this guy, giving him the highest rating of any hitting prospect with more than a couple 2005 at bats.  But I'm not necessarily sold on On Deck's system, which overrates very young players who find success.  I mean, it's not a bad thing to dominate the Appalachian League, but it may just be indicative of a player who hasn't found his ceiling yet.

Take Flores, for example.  His eight homers led Greeneville, and was good enough for ninth in the Appy League, but he's 6'0"-195: he projects more as (you guessed it) a speed guy than as a power threat.  And not that I'd want my power hitter striking out 57 times for every 16 walks, but a ratio like that is more excusable for a guy  you can picture putting the ball on the tracks at M-squared.

Maybe I'm wrong here.  Certainly Baseball America has Josh Flores at number ten on their list.  Maybe as Flores matures, his power does, too, and we see him among the home run leaders in the Sally League this year, and in the Carolina League in '07.  But failing that, Flores will need to acquire some discipline to get to Round Rock, let alone Houston.

  • Eli Iorg Was at the Ryan Camp; In Sickels' book;
        Number Five on
    Baseball America's list
.333 BA/.391 OBP/.565 SLG at Rookie Greeneville in 2005; 27K/9BB/7HR w/ 138 AB

Given his age when has drafted (22), his pedigree as son of a former major-leaguer, and the fact that he spent four years as a bigtime-college Tennessee Volunteer, the fact that Iorg did well at Greeneville is probably not a surprise, and you wonder if the somewhat protracted contract negotiations kept Iorg from starting a notch higher, at Tri-City.

Once again, the K/BB ratio is out of wack, but given the higher power ratio, and the lineage, you're less worried somehow.  Still, Eli will need to stop swinging at shit in the dirt at some point.  

At any rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Iorg were assigned to High A Salem to start the year, and Sickels thinks that a fast promotion to Corpus Christi might even be warranted.  He goes on to call Iorg a good defensive outfielder with a strong arm.  

  • Charlton Jimerson Was at the Ryan Camp
.259 BA/.317 OBP/.442 SLG at AA Corpus Christi in 2005; 145K/29BB/16HR w/ 425 AB
.304 BA/.292 OBP/.348 SLG at AAA Round Rock in 2005; 7K/0BB/0HR w/ 23 AB

Does the leastest with the mostest.

Baseball America still has him as the Best Athlete and both Best Defensive Outfielder and Best Outfield Arm, but man, the strikeouts.  It was interesting talking to Greg Rajan last year about Jimerson, when he said that Sean Berry, the Astros' roving hitting instuctor, had said he wasn't "concerned" about Jimerson, and I gotta wonder why the hell not.

I was always a bigger defender of Richard Hidalgo than I should have been, because of the advantages the rocket in Reeshard's right shoulder gave the Astros from his position in right.  But Jimerson won't be piling up any outfield assists at Minute Maid, not when he's struck out 315 times in his last 253 games, not when  he's walking 6 times a month.  

Certainly, there's a power aspect to his game, but it's just not enough.

Jimerson spent most of September with Houston last year, soaking up a September callup without an at-bat, and with but a single defensive appearance.  Regardless of his stats this year, it's likely that another September callup will come, and this one with more than a few defensive innings.  But a greater role is very unlikely, as it is very unlikely that Jimerson can change his offensive game at this late date.

  • Jordan Parraz In Sickels' Book
.262 BA/.310 OBP/.369 SLG at Short A Tri-City in 2005; 45K/12BB/5HR w/ 282 AB

Sickels identifies Parraz as another guy whose best tool might be his arm.  Parraz had pitched when he was in junior college, supposedly employing a 95-mph fastball, and still may find that he needs to fall back on his moundwork to stay pro.  For now, I'm sure the Astros will let their third pick in the 2004 draft take another crack at raising the BA/OBP/SLG suite at Lexington this summer.

  • Hunter Pence Was at the Ryan Camp; In Sickels' Book
        Number Six on
    Baseball America's list
.338 BA/.413 OBP/.652 SLG at A Lexington in 2005; 53K/38BB/25HR w/ 302 AB
.305 BA/.374 OBP/.490 SLG at High A Salem in 2005; 37K/18BB/6HR w/ 151 AB

Considering that a Hunter Pence baseball card numbered to 25 is currently at 27.00 on eBay, and that a Charlton Jimerson card numbered to ten can be had at the same online trading post for five bucks, perhaps the eBay method of prospect identification has some merit.  Call it the "invisible hand."  

Pence does appear to be the real deal, and is the one outfielder in the organization that I would bank on at this moment.  The question might be whether or not the Astros try to change Hunter's unorthodox batting stance the first time he goes into an extended slump, and then of course whether or not that would be a good idea. But so far, so good, no?

  • Luke Scott In Sickels' Book
.286 BA/.363 OBP/.603 SLG at AAA Round Rock in 2005; 96K/43BB/31HR w/ 398 AB
.188 BA/.270 OBP/.288 SLG at ML Houston in 2005; 23K/9BB/0HR w/ 80 AB

I had this whole thing written about Luke Scott the Human Interest Story, about his struggles last year, and how he drew on his faith to overcome,  but sheesh, it got a little out of hand, so I'll just say this.

Luke Scott has power.  

He had as many homers as Hunter Pence at a higher level, and he hit a ball as deep to Minute Maid's center field (and off Chris Carpenter, no less) as anybody last year.

We know he can take an important walk; he showed that in the eighth inning of the Chris Burke game.  

Sickels thinks Scott could hit .250 with twenty homers over a full season in the majors.  I'd add that he'd probably whiff 130 times, too, but the walks would be respectable as well.

Right now, though, it appears as if he has no chance at all to make the Opening Day roster.  Which is kind of a shame:  Scott will be 28 in June, and is running out of time, quick.  The power is as legitimate with Scott as it is with anyone in the organization, and you'd hate to see it go to waste in the PCL.