Showing posts with label Minor League Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minor League Awards. Show all posts

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Chuck Knoblog Minor League Awards: Best Breakout Candidate

And the Knobby goes to...
Austin Romine, C, 19, Low A Charleston
Austin Romine was a second-round pick in the 2007 draft. In his first year of full-season pro baseball, he was solid, with a .778 OPS in a pitchers park, in a pitchers league. He was a highly-regarded prospect coming out of high school, and the main reason he got so little publicity this year is that he spent this season in Jesus Montero's rather large shadow. The two split catching and DH duties. He has a good contact rate, and a decent walk rate, which should improve. Considering his 35 extra base hits in a pitchers park, his .437 slugging percentage should improve. Next Romine should be in a more hitter friendly league, and has a good chance at putting up an OPS over .800. Romine does not have the ceiling of Jesus Montero, but could become the Yankees' catcher of the future if Montero is moved to first base.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Chuck Knoblog Minor League Awards: Hitter of the Year

And the Knobby goes to...
Jesus Montero, 19, C, B:R T:R, Low A Charleston
When Jesus Montero was signed out of Venezuela as a sixteen year old, he was the cream of the international free agent crop. Now, three years later, Montero is arguably the second best catching prospect in just his first year of full season ball. Thus far, Montero has been everything we believed he could be as a hitter. This year, he torched the Sally league to the tune of a .326/.370/.491 (.863 OPS) with a ridiculous 52 extra base hits (34 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR). Keep in mind, he did all this in a pitchers park. When the Riverdogs travelled to Greensborough, a hitter's park, Montero absolutely crushed the ball. Jesus posted an 84.2% contact rate, very good for a power hitter, and a 6.6% walk rate. That is obviously a little low, but considering Montero is just nineteen, that is a solid rate. Also, consider that Montero's walk rate steadily improved as the season went on, and should continue to improve to the point Montero becomes a very well-rounded hitter. Now, the defense. I have never seen Montero play, so I will not comment on his defense. I have heard very different reports on his fielding abilities. Some say he will never stick as a catcher, some say he is destined for first base. However, most of these reports say he does not have a future at catcher because he is 6'4", 225, and not because he lacks athletic ability. While the size is an issue, there are guys his size that can still catch, like Joe Mauer, or the top catching prospect in baseball, Matt Wieters. Basically, only time will tell, but Montero's bat will play at any position. Next year he will start in Tampa, and my guess is he stays there all year, regardless of how he does.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Chuck Knoblog Minor League Awards: Pitcher of the Year

And the Knobby goes to...
Zach McAllister, 20, RHP, High-A Tampa
Z-Mac was a 3rd round pick out of High School in the 2006 draft, and has really broken out this year. He started the year in Charleston, where he excelled in ten starts. He had a 2.45 ERA in 62.1 IP, with 7.65 K/9, 1.16 BB/9, .43 HR/9, 8.52 H/9 and a 1.07 WHIP. After his promotion to Tampa, he made 15 appearances, 14 starts. In 88.2 IP in Tampa, Zach had a 1.83 ERA, 6.29 K/9, 1.32 BB/9, .61 HR/9, 8.49 H/9 and a .98 WHIP. While Z-Mac is not the prospect that Dellin Betances is or Phil Hughes/Joba was, he has put up astonishing numbers this year. The strikeouts are the reason he is not a top prospect, but while he does not have elite strikeout numbers, McAllister's K rates are still solid, and the lack of walks and ability to prevent the long ball are major plusses. McAllister does not have dominating stuff, he is a sinker/slider guy. He does not have the highest ceiling in the system, but could easily become a solid number three starter one day.

Disclaimer: A lot of guys were up for consideration here, especially in the low minors. This was by far the hardest decision of any award I have given out so far, and I think Mark Melancon deserves and honorable mention.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Chuck Knoblog Minor League Awards: Most Improved Player

And the knobby goes to...
Dellin Betances, 20, RHP, Low-A Charleston Riverdogs
Betances is a huge righty with a huge ceiling. He stands 6'8", 245 lbs, and has been a highly touted prospect since he was signed to a way overslot million dollar signing bonus as an eighth round pick in the 2006 draft. Everybody around baseball knew that Dellin had a chance to be a great player one day, but like many tall pitchers, he took more time than others to show that potential. From the start of his professional career, Dellin has had the ability to strike out batters, but he had a lot of trouble with walks. Last season, though he only pitched 25 innings in the Gulf Coast League due to injury he had 6.12 BB/9. It's tough to call a player in just his first year of full season ball the most improved player, but the early part of this year compared to the rest has been night and day for Betances. Dellin's BB/9 this season in Charleston is 5.49, which is bad. However, let's look a little deeper. In April and May, Betances had a 6.55 BB/9. Since then, with a short DL stint mixed in, he has a 2.83 BB/9. Besides walks, Dellin's other numbers have been stellar. In 82 IP, he has a 3.62 ERA, 6.04 H/9, .99 HR/9, 10.32 K/9, 1.28 WHIP. Next year Dellin should start the year in Tampa, and I would assume he will spend the whole year there. Considering his size, I do not think the Yankees will fast-track him, but I expect big things from Dellin next year, as he is now starting to show indications that he may reach his ceiling as an ace.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Chuck Knoblog Minor League Awards: Biggest Disappointment

Today we have the second and least prestigious in our series of six Chuck Knoblog Awards (Knobbies).
Biggest Disappointment: And the Knobby goes to... Alan Horne, 25, RHP, AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre
Coming into this year, big things were expected from Horne. Last year in AA Trenton, Horne had a 3.11 ERA with 165 Ks in 153.1 IP, winning him the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year award. This year was expected to be another step forward for Horne. If all went well, Horne was expected to see time in the majors. However, that did not happen. Horne is the biggest disappointment not because of performance, but because of injuries. Horne threw just 39 innings between Tampa and Scranton this season, and recently received treatment on a torn rotator cuff. In his limited time, Horne had an ERA of 8.77 with 30 Ks and 27 BBs. This was basically a lost season for Horne, who should continue next year in Scranton. If he makes a full recovery, it is possible that Horne can see major league time tomorrow, but there is a relatively long way to go.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Chuck Knoblog Minor League Awards: Biggest Surprise

Well, since the minor league season is over at some levels, and the playoffs are starting at others, I have decided to give out my minor league awards. There will be six in total, and each will be announced over the next six days, the first one coming today:
Biggest Surprise:
And the Knobby goes to.......
Wilkins De La Rosa, 21, LHP, High-A Tampa
De La Rosa is a converted outfielder in just his second year of pitching. Last year in the GCL, he pitched 24.0 innings with a 2.63 ERA. Good numbers, but nobody was really expecting De La Rosa to do much this year, and nobody really considered him a prospect. Position player to pitcher conversions rarely work out, but so far, De La Rosa has pitched very well. He began this year in Low-A Charleston, and threw 90.1 innings to the tune of a 2.29 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, 10.96 K/9, 3.89 BB/9, .2 HR/9 and 5.98 H/9. He was then promoted to High-A Tampa, where he continued to pitch well. In 16.1 IP, he had a 1.10 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, 8.27 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, 0 HR/9 and 6.61 H/9.


Next Years Outlook: De La Rosa will likely begin next year in Tampa with a possible promotion to Trenton later in the year. His mid-nineties fastball is already good, he just needs to develop his secondary pitches. De La Rosa has a long way to go, buthe probably has the highest ceiling of any lefthander in the Yankees system.