Daily Archives: July 8, 2011

Team USA: Preview of the 2011 MLB All-Star Futures Game

Friday, July 8, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):  With the World Team roster covered here on the Reports, we now bring you the potent line-up of Team USA. They are highlighted by standouts Mike Trout (LAA) [named to the squad but just called up to the Angels] and Bryce Harper (WAS).  Team USA also boasts an electric mix of pitching arms, including Shelby Miller (STL) and Jacob Turner (DET).

 

PITCHERS

Jarred Cosart – RHP –Texas – PHI –Clearwater Threshers – A – Florida State League

Jarred sits in the mid 90s and has touched 99 in some starts.  This is his second straight year at the Futures Game, although he did not pitch last year.  He has average command, as witnessed by his 36 walks in 92 innings, but if he can improve upon that, many scouts see him as a frontline starter.

 

Kyle Gibson – RHP –Indiana – MIN –Rochester Red Wings – AAA – International League

Gibson has the look of a middle of the rotation innings eater.  His fastball has late sink, which gets him a ton of ground balls.  With better defense as he moves up, and his ability to throw strikes, he could be a fairly useful 3rd starter.

 

Matt Harvey – RHP –Connecticut – NYM –Binghamton Mets – AA – Eastern League

Harvey pretty much carved up the Florida State League earlier in the year, but in 3 starts in AA, he has not been able to get past the 5th inning.  He strikes a lot of guys out, and doesn’t walk many.  As he matures and makes adjustments, he should succeed. He is expected to fast track to the Mets rotation, possibly as early as 2012.

 

Shelby Miller – RHP –Texas – STL –Springfield Cardinals – AA –Texas League

Ranked as the 4th pitcher in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, Miller has been skyrocketing through the ranks, as he got to AA before his 21st birthday.  Miller has struck out 119 batters in 91 innings, while his WHIP sits at 1.10.  His fastball usually sits in the low 90s with sink and run.  He also possesses an above average changeup and a good curveball.  Miller has all the tools to win a Cy Young Award someday.

 

Matt Moore – LHP –Florida – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League

Moore is rated 3rd overall on BA’s list, and has top of the rotation stuff.  He led the minor leagues in strikeouts in both 2009 and 2010, collecting 384K in 267 IP between High-A and AA.  Moore has picked up where he left off, with 125 K already this season.  His best pitch is a curveball from a low ¾ arm slot.

 

Brad Peacock – RHP –Florida – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League

Another pitcher who seems to finally have put it all together, he has 129 K and hitters have a paltry .179 average against him.  Peacock is wiry and should fill out to increase his velocity.  I see him as a mid rotation guy with a good fastball and breaking ball and decent change.

 

Drew Pomeranz – LHP –Tennessee – CLE –Kinston Indians – A –Carolina League

Pomeranz sits at 92 with his fastball, with good command.  His breaking ball can be a plus, although it is inconsistent.  He keeps the ball in the yard, and due to his large workhorse type frame, he could be an innings eater at the  number 2 or 3 spot in a rotation. 

 

Tyler Skaggs – LHP –California – ARI –Visalia Rawhide – A –California League

Skaggs has gained 15 pounds over the offseason, which has allowed him to raise his velocity a couple notches.  For a lefty who throws from a ¾ slot, he has surprisingly little movement.  His changeup has improved this year, which makes me believe his ceiling could be as a number 2 starter, but most likely settles in the 3-4 range.

 

Tyler Thornburg – RHP –Texas – MIL –Brevard County Manatees – A –FloridaState League

This 3rd rounder in 2010 has simply overmatched his competition so far this year.  With an ERA under 2.00, and opponents hitting under .200 against him, even after a move up to the Florida State League, Thornburg has the tools to succeed.  He has a good fastball and a power curve while his changeup needs time to develop.  If it doesn’t, a career in a setup role is possible.

 

Jacob Turner – RHP –Missouri – DET –Erie Sea Wolves – AA – Eastern League

Turner has a heavy fastball with late life that sits around 93, touching 95.  He has a sharp, but inconsistent curveball, which if he polishes, could be a devastating combo out of the pen.  For a guy who just turned 20 playing AA, Turner has pitched very well with a K:BB ratio at 2.7:1.  Opponents have also only hit .233 off of him.

 

CATCHERS

Devin Mesoraco – C –Pennsylvania – CIN –Louisville Bats – AAA – International League

Catchers with 25-30 homerun power are so rare that they often get moved to first base or even the outfield.  Mesoraco’s defense is average at best, so the move does seem likely in a few years.  Mesoraco walks a fair amount and is a doubles hitting machine, which makes me think he will be an above average regular by 2013.

 

Austin Romine – C –California – NYY –Trenton Thunder – AA – Eastern League

Romine hasn’t wowed anyone with his bat, but has shown steady improvements from year to year.  In his second year of AA he has raised his average, OBP and OPS.  He has a cannon for an arm and quick feet, although his receiving isn’t quite ready.  He could be a solid regular in a few years if the Yankees give him the chance.

 

 

INFIELDERS

Nolan Arenado – 3B –California –COL –Modesto Nuts – A- California League

This big, strong third baseman has decent feet and an average arm, so I see him being Todd Helton’s replacement in the future.  He has a power bat that should develop even further as he matures.  Arenado doesn’t strike out much and walks enough to have a decent OBP, so his bat will suffice at any position.

 

Tim Beckham – SS – Georgia – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League

Although he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of his number 1 overall selection in the 2008 draft, he has shown enough skill to keep moving up the ladder.  Every year, his numbers have improved, and I believe he is close to a breakout.  He is still a plus defender which will keep him in the big leagues for a very long time.

 

James Darnell – 3B –California – SD –Tucson Padres – AAA –Pacific Coast League

Darnell just got called up to AAA after dominating Texas league pitching.  His defense is simply average, and may have to move to a corner outfield.  However, his bat is his plus tool, as he has shown even more improvements from his 2010 season in which he struggled.  He already has 19 home runs, and has walked 52 times as opposed to only 48 strikeouts, so his approach at the plate is advanced.

 

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B –Delaware – ARI –Mobile Bay Bears – AA – Southern League

Goldschmidt has unreal power potential.  He has been a solid hitter at every level, but has taken his game to another level this year.  He already has 25 HR and 77 RBI, and he walks a ton.  This guy could be in a big league uniform as early as this September, but more than likely will be sometime in 2012.

 

Grant Green – SS –California – OAK – Midland Rock Hounds – AA –Texas League

Green profiles as a true shortstop with slightly above average hands and arm, with the ability to produce good numbers offensively.  He hit 20 HR last year in high-A, and the move to AA this year has stunted his power, but he still walks and gets on base at a good clip.  He isn’t flashy but he gets the job done and could be one of the better regular shortstops in the league.

 

Jason Kipnis – 2B –Illinois – CLE –Columbus Clippers – AAA – International League

This former center fielder shifted to 2B, where his lack of range still limits him to being only an average defender.  However, his bat will keep him in the big leagues for many years.  His numbers have improved every year, despite moving up a level.  He walks at a good rate and has some pop.  Doesn’t have a high ceiling, but what you see is what you will get.

 

Manny Machado – SS –Florida – BAL –Frederick Keys – A –Carolina League

Machado is still thin, but looks like he could fill out, in which case a move to third would be warranted.  He has a plus arm and solid footwork to go along with his very soft hands.  Although he has struggled a bit since being called up to high-A, he has the IQ to really succeed at the plate.  He takes pitches and isn’t afraid to hit with 2 strikes.

 

Will Middlebrooks – 3B –Texas – BOS –Portland Sea Dogs – AA – Eastern League

Middlebrooks has had a slow ascent through the minors, and with continued production, he could get a look at the big leagues by next year.  He is a solid defender at third, with a good bat.  Needs to work on discipline as his K:BB ratio is at 59:18.  Could be a regular in the big leagues by 2013.

 

 

OUTFIELDERS

Gary Brown – CF –California – SF –San Jose Giants – A –California League

Brown has absolutely blazing speed, with a very good bat.  He has stolen 35 bags, but also been caught 14 times, so he must learn to choose his spots more wisely.  Brown also shows the ability to hit for power, stroking doubles in the gaps consistently.

 

Bryce Harper – RF –Nevada – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League

By now, everyone knows the legend of Bryce Harper, and he has lived up to the billing.  He dominated the Arizona Fall League as a taxi squad player, and showed enough early in A-ball to warrant a call-up straight to AA.  The fact that Harper could even surpass people’s expectations is astounding, and I believe he could be a September roster addition for the Nationals.

 

Wil Myers – OF –North Carolina – KC – Northwest Arkansas Naturals – AA –Texas League

Myers moved from catcher to outfield in the fall of 2010, and this move should pay off for him in the long run.  He is aggressive at all times, and he is extremely raw still.  He lost part of the season due to an infection from a cut, so he is just rounding into form now.  AA has been tough for him, but his tools will shine in the long run.  One of the favorites of the Reports, keep an eye on this kid.

 

Matthew Szczur – OF –New Jersey – CHI Cubs –Peoria Chiefs – A –Midwest League

Szczur has tremendous speed and he covers a lot of ground in the outfield.  He hits well for average, but hasn’t quite developed his power yet.  This could happen as he matures.  He walks at a decent clip, and has the ability to steal a ton of bases, so he could be a mainstay near the top of the Cubs line-up.

 

**Mike Trout – CF – New Jersey – LAA –Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – MLB

As I began writing this, it was reported that Trout had been recalled to the big league team, and no replacement has yet been named.  Trout does everything well, and many people were very excited to see him play alongside Harper.  He may not offer as much power as Harper, but he might be one of the fastest players in the big leagues. 

 

Many people will be disappointed that Trout and Harper won’t be playing alongside each other in the Team USA outfield in the Worlds Game, but there is so much talent at this year’s event that nobody will leave Chase Field disappointed.  MLB`s ability to showcase not only current talent, but future stars, highlighted by this year’s fanfest events, make the MLB All-Star Weekend festivities the best of any of the major sports.  Get ready for an explosive Futures Game this Sunday, as the youngsters duel for the spotlight and the chance to make the major leagues one day soon.

 

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Futures Game, preview of the World Team.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

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