Friday, October 3, 2008

Durham Prospects - BA International League Top 20

Three Rays check in:

Wade Davis at #3:
Davis works quickly, and his power curveball is his out pitch, topping out in the low 80s and featuring true 12-to-6 break. He dominated righthanders in Triple-A, but lefties fared better as Davis worked to improve the consistency of his changeup and cutter. Both have the potential to be average pitches.
Reid Brignac at #4:Reid Brignac
Once regarded as an offensive-minded infielder, Brignac was a unanimous pick by the managers as the IL's top defensive shortstop. He has plus range, hands and arm strength, and he committed just 12 errors in 92 games. He still can hit, too, allowing him to profile as a quality starter on a contending ballclub.

Brignac shows solid plate coverage and a willingness to go with the pitch, though he's susceptible to hard stuff up and in because he has a little lift to his swing. His strike-zone discipline regressed this year and he was inconsistent, but he still projects as a .280 hitter with average power. He has good athleticism and average speed.
And Jeff Niemann at #16:
Because he's a deliberate worker who can't warm up quickly, and because he does not control the running game—just two of 33 basestealers (6 percent) were caught on his watch—Niemann's future is as a starter and not as a reliever. He projects as a No. 3 to 5 starter, and it remains to be seen whether he'll get that chance with Tampa Bay.
I'm surprised that people are still as high as they are on Brignac, considering he hasn't hit all that well since his 2006 season. The reports on his defense are definitely promising, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him as a part-time starter at SS for the Rays when next year starts.


  1. Brignac is a shock, that high after his worst year offensively. Good defensive SS's last a long time in MLB, even if they swing a banjo. The thing that disappoints me is that I thought he could be a good defensive SS AND a good offensive player based on performance and age/level. Now I don't know. Brignac's BA/OBP/SLG:

    2005 (A): .264/.319/.416
    2006 (A+):.326/.380/.557
    2006 (AA):.300/.355/.473
    2007 (AA):.260/.327/.433
    2008 (AAA):.250/.298/.412

    Trending down. A .298 OBP? Yikes, thats not going to cut it. A look at his 2008 AAA home/away splits is interesting:

    HOME: .288/.337/.494
    AWAY: .219/.263/.344

    What to make of this? Durham is not THAT big of a hitters park.

  2. From the chat:

    Q: JAYPERS from IL asks: I'm a bit surprised David Price didn't even get a mention in your introduction. Had he pitched enough innings to qualify, would he have ranked above Bruce for the top spot? Also, what are your thoughts on Maddon's decision to give him the last bullpen slot in the playoffs, as opposed to seasoned veteran Troy Percival? Can the kid handle the pressure, in your opinion? Thanks, Matt.

    A: Matt Eddy: Yes, Price would have claimed the top spot had he qualified, despite a wholly mediocre showing in Triple-A. I tried to focus the intro on pitchers who missed the list by 1 or 2 starts. Price compiled just 18 IL innings.

    Matt Eddy: It would seem to behoove the Rays to get Price into a low-leverage, left-on-left situation against, say, Thome or, ahem, DeWayne Wise before asking him to do too much in the playoffs. But Price's inclusion on the roster, at Percival's expense, means one more power arm at full strength, and it may have the side benefit of sparing Rays fans from a few of the Percival's tightrope-variety saves.

    Q: Ben from Leland Grove asks: In your scouting report, you said it remains to be seen whether Jeff Niemann will get the chance at a regular starting spot with Tampa Bay. Since their rotation is set for the forseeable future, why do you think Andrew Friedman decided to keep him around, rather than dealing him before the trade deadline?

    A: Matt Eddy: Niemann's name was bandied about in trade-deadline rumors involving Jason Bay. That never materialized, but don't be surprised if his name surfaces again this off-season. Conventional wisdom states that teams are better positioned to get full value after the season because, theoretically, more teams are in play.

    Matt Eddy: And not to criticize the Rays for their handling of Edwin Jackson because he rewarded their faith, but the man went 5-15, 5.76 in 31 starts in 2007. If ever there was going to be a time for Niemann to step into the Tampa Bay rotation, it sure seems like 2008 would have been the season.

    Q: Ben from Leland Grove asks: Fernando Perez has made a loud splash since getting the call. Did he get consideration for this list, and with Crawford now healthy, what will his role likely be?

    A: Matt Eddy: As easy as it is to root for a player like Perez, he still needs to refine his approach at the plate and his routes in the outfield to profile as a regular. He's quite strong from his natural, right side (.301/.354/.486), but he'll need to continue to refine his approach from the lefthanded batter's box. Looks like he's got his foot in the door for an extra outfielder gig next season.

    Matt Eddy: He has game-changing speed, though, and he dramatically improved his stolen-base percentage in 2008, from 64 percent in '07 to 78 percent this season.

    Q: Todd from Chattanooga asks: JB's the man - however would Longoria have taken this spot if he had qualified? Thanks

    A: Matt Eddy: You better believe it.

    Q: Kyle from Middletown asks: Who was the better prospect for their two years at the top of the list, Delmon Young or Jay Bruce? Who do you think will have a better career?

    A: Matt Eddy: At this point in time, I'd take Bruce. In his four months in the big leagues — in fewer than one-third the at-bats — Bruce has nearly equaled Young's career total for home runs. It's 21 to 26 in favor of Young. Both players earned full-time jobs at age 21, and when you consider that their non-hit tools are similar, I'd take the guy who's performing.

    Q: Steve Dakota from Orlando,Fl asks: Wade Davis or Matt Garza, long term?

    A: Matt Eddy: As with Bruce vs. Delmon, give me the guy who'd doing it in the big leagues. I take Garza.

    Q: Deywane from Memphis asks: So between Jay Bruce, David Price, and Evan Longoria you would rank them Longoria, Price, Bruce. Is this how you would have ranked them last year also?

    A: Matt Eddy: That's the order I'd go with. Would I have done the same last year? Honestly, no. But I did give serious consideration to running Longoria up to No. 1 a year ago, ahead of Bruce.

    Q: Aaron from Media, PA asks: What did you think of Reid Brignac's development this year? Will his power continue to develop? Do you see him being more than a league average shortstop?

    A: Matt Eddy: To your last two questions: yes and yes. It's the reason we ranked a player with a sub-.300 OBP at No. 4. It's just going to take a little longer for Brignac's bat to develop than we previously thought. After his strong '06 season in the Cal League, he appeared to be on the fast track because of his offensive potential. Turns out, it's his glove that will get him to the big leagues, after which his bat will catch up.

    Matt Eddy: Keep in mind that before he went up to St. Petersburg, Brignac was leading the IL in doubles. The power is there, and it will only grow.