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12/08/2005 -- Reflecting on Royals SS Jeff Bianchi 
What are your thoughts on 2nd Rd. pick Jeff Bianchi SS from KC ?  He hit over .500 in high school and was     hitting over .400 in rookie ball when he got hurt last year.  Looks to me that he can move quickly through the system with no real SS prospect ahead of him.



Phil of Baseball Examiner:

Thanks Steve,

            While Rookie Ball stats are often not very indicative of future success, Jeff Bianchi did have a very nice debut in the rookie level Arizona League.  With him, the Royals didnt go for just a signability pick as they have so often in the past.  Though there were still many players left in the draft with more impressive skills, Jeff is a solid talent.  In the system there are several SS prospects closer to the Majors but none with overwhelming skills. 

As a hitter, Bianchi is advanced for his age and has shown the ability to make contact and draw walks.  Listed at 6 ft and 175 lbs, Jeff does not posses imposing size and likely will not hit for big power in the majors.  He likely will develop into a solid doubles hitter with a good average, which is sometimes undervalued.

In the field, Bianchi is a solid shortstop who will make all the routine plays.  His arm and athletic ability are just average which could mean a move to second base down the road.  Like most SS prospects he will likely be given every opportunity to remain at short.

Bianchi will have his work cut out for him.  Because he does not have any one overwhelming skill, he will have to prove himself at every level.  He will likely not be rushed with Angel Berroa still a few seasons away from big money and a few defensive minded prospects ahead of him.  In the end Jeffs performance will determine how he progresses and he could end up with a career similar to David Eckstein.


10/30/2005 -- Comparing Two Relief Pitchers 

Gary Majewski of the Nationals and Chad Qualls. Which one would you pick in a fantasy keeper situation.  

Mel O


Phil of Baseball Examiner:

Thanks Mel for your question.

These two pitchers are a nice comparison as they pitched nearly identical innings and games.  Both are relatively young, Gary is 25 and Chad is 27.  Both throw in the low 90s.  Both have shown that they can get batters out at the major league level.  So who would I pick?  In a keeper league I would take Chad Qualls and here is why.

First and probably most important is that fact that Qualls is a ground ball pitcher and Majewski is more of a fly ball pitcher.  In 2005 Qualls had a 2.48 ground ball to fly ball ratio while Majewski had a 1.23.  This is a good indicator of future success and I would want a relief pitcher that is more likely to induce a double play over a guy who is more likely to give up a sacrifice fly.

Secondly, Chads WHIP has been better throughout his short career. Chads career WHIP is 1.22 while Garys career WHIP is 1.40.  This is more an indicator of effectiveness than ERA where Gary holds the edge in career ERA of 3.11 to Chads 3.36. 

Speaking of ERA, in the end ERA is more a measure of team and situational success than personal effectiveness.  This brings me to my final reason to choose Chad over Gary.  In 77 games, Chad inherited 41 runners allowing 11 or about 27% to score.  Gary in 79 games inherited only 27 runners allowing 7 or about 26% to score.  While they both allow about the same percent of runners to score, Chad was setup with greater possibility of failure. Taking this into account, Chads performance was better than Garys despite a slightly higher ERA.

I think that both pitchers should have decent careers in the Majors. But based on the numbers each have put up so far, I think that Chad Qualls has the best chance to maintain his success as well as the possibility of being even better.


8/7/2005 -- GerbDude returns with more talk about his Red Sox and "Manny being Manny"


Thank you Theo and Co. for the worst weekend ever! The talk that Manny Ramirez might be traded was as nervous as a Michigan vs. Ohio State football game (Nov. 19). Why would you think about breaking up Big Papi and Man-Ram? He may have asked but you tell him "ok, I will try" and just say to him "Manny, I am still trying" and soon enough Manny will ask to stay. Even though you never picked up a phone. They still might try to trade him in the offseason and I understand the money Boston will save but you can't sign .300-40-140. When I was watching Baseball Tonight and they said Manny was pinch hitting I said to my self he was going to get the game winning hit somehow. Manny did, than he went through the door in the Monsta. After all it is Manny being Manny. Yankees Suck.


7/27/2005 -- Stephen Head, 2005 2nd round pick of the Cleveland Indians


What's your thoughts on Stephen Head's future with the Indians ?  I know he has Garko & Aubrey ahead of him but Garko seems more like a DH and Aubrey is injury prone.  Thanks,




Chuck: Thanks for your latest entry, Steve.


Stephen Head is off to a great start with his professional debut as a second round pick out of the University of Mississippi. After hitting 6 homers in 37 at-bats with a .432 average in Rookie ball, Head was promoted to a league more suited for his level of competition. In his first two weeks at Kinston, in the high-A Carolina League, Head has continued his success by hitting .354/.404/.521 in 48 ab.


It's an interesting mix of 1b prospects that the Indians have. Of course, Travis Hafner is their guy right now. If he proves enough to them that he's their guy and the Indians lock him up long-term, this discussion will be moot. However, when arbitration time comes for Hafner and Cleveland has a viable option with Ryan Garko (Triple-A), Michael Aubrey (Double-A) or Stephen Head, Hafner could be made expendable for a cheaper route.


Head has good power, but Garko's may be nearly as good or a touch better. Aubrey is a better pure hitter than Head. But as Steve alluded to, Aubrey has missed time this year and missed one-third of last season. Cleveland's first-round pick in 2003, Aubrey has yet to remain healthy in either of his two full seasons.


I have skepticisms about what Head may be as a big leaguer. I view his realistic high-end potential to be similar to Ben Broussard. If he gets squeezed out and his bat fails to demand its presence as a major league hitter, Head could turn out to be a career cleanup hitter as a Triple-A veteran.


In my mind, Aubrey is my guy. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt with his injuries. His quality bat and defense earn my favor. But if Aubrey continues to have issues with injuries or he fails to hit .300+ with at least 15-20 HR, the other guys who offer more power could be more productive. In that case, it's possible that Garko (from the right side) & Head (from the left side) could offer Cleveland a platoon at the position until one of them proves worthy of being put in the lineup every day.


7/25/2005 -- San Diego Padres 2005 1st round pick, Cesar Carrillo


How fast do you think 18 pick Cesar Carrillo will move up in the system and are there any sleepers in the draft that I should look for?



Chuck of Baseball Examiner:


Thanks for your questions, Ellen.


For those who don't know, Cesar Carrillo was drafted 18th overall by the Padres in June. At the University of Miami, Carrillo didn't suffer his first loss as a Hurricane until the end of his college career. It is said of Carrillo that he is rather polished and was assigned to high-A Lake Elsinore upon signing.


In his first 3 starts, Carrillo has a 14-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12 1/3 innings with a 2.92 ERA. They're only letting him go about 4 innings per start, but it's not due to ineffectiveness. He didn't pitch for several weeks between Miami's exit from the NCAA Tournament until his professional debut. With only about 5 weeks left in the minor league season, I expect he'll remain at Lake Elsinore for the regular season. If Padres management wants more innings out of him, Carrillo could pitch for any affiliate that makes its league's playoffs.


It's possible that Carrillo could start next year in Double-A, a rather advanced level for a player's first full-season experience. Depending on his success and advancement, a September callup for his major league debut is a possibility. It's more likely that, if he remains healthy, a target of mid-season 2007 could be when he joins the Padres staff for good.


Concerning any sleepers in the draft, it's certainly difficult to know who will produce and advance beyond the scouts' expectations. But I'll try anyway...


For sleepers from the Padres draft class, keep on eye on 7th round pick Will Venable. He's got good blood and good brains. His father Max was a major leaguer in the 1980s and he has a Princeton education. The 22-year showed success against mostly younger competition in 59 at-bats in Rookie ball but has struggled in his first two weeks in short-season A Eugene.


Also watch the Padres' 6th round pick, Neil Jamison, who was a closer at Long Beach St. Drafted as a senior, Jamison will turn 22 next week. Though it's not expected that he will continue to be a closer, he has been productive at Eugene and could still be an effective set-up man in the big leagues. In 15 relief appearances, Jamison has allowed 15 hits in 17 innings with an 18-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

7/13/2005 -- When will Fernando Cabrera be Cleveland's closer?
Do you think Fernando Cabrera will be Cleveland's closer next year ?  I can't imagine them signing Wickman again.  Thanks,


Phil of Baseball Examiner: Thanks for the question Steve.

Fernando Cabrera is probably in line to be Cleveland's closer next year, though it might not happen until closer to the second half of 2006.  History shows that most closers are groomed in the bullpen at least a year before they are put into the closer position.  Also, with Cleveland likely to be a contender entering the season, they may be inclined to go with a veteran rather than take a risk on someone unproven. It is still possible that they re-sign Wickman as well, though he would probably have to take a large pay cut, to be the mentor for Cabrera.

Now, with that being said, Fernando's second half could change all that.  He was lights out in AAA and has been strong in his first few appearances in the Majors.  If he proves that he is ready by season's end and Cleveland has a hard time signing an inexpensive veteran closer in the off season, the job could be his starting in 2006.


6/23/2005 -- Looking at the catching situation with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks
Thanks for calling me a monster :-).  What are your thoughts on the LA & Arizona future catching situations ?  Looks to me that Russ Martin should be in LA within a year, am I correct ?  Is Miguel Montero as good as him numbers show or is he just a product of a cozy Lancaster environment ?

Phil of Baseball Examiner: Thanks for the questions Steve. 

Russ Martin is the catcher of the future for the Dodgers and with the way he has been playing, the future could become the present soon.  As for being in the Bigs in a year, it is very possible but not certain.  Despite the catching at the Major League level being less than desirable, LA has no reason to rush Martin with Dioner Navarro ahead of him in AAA.  Martin is clearly the better prospect, however it is likely that the Dodgers would promote Navarro first and allow Martin to progress through the system.  It would probably take a collapse or injury to Navarro and strong performances by Martin for him to be the starting catcher before the All Star break in 2006.

As for Arizona, their catching depth is probably the best in the NL West.  Their catcher of the future for now is Chris Snyder who won the Big League starting job over Koye Hill.  Snyder, Hill and Phil Avlas were the best the Diamondbacks had to offer entering the season but the play of Miguel Montero may have changed that.

Off to a blistering start in hi A, Montero has opened some eyes.  With 21 homers to go with his .360 batting average, Montero has owned A ball an is ready for AA.  Montero, who will turn 22 in July, is not old for his league but he is not young either.  Also, entering this season he had only played 115 games above rookie/short season ball.  With all that said it is hard to say if he is for real or just benefiting from his surroundings.  I would like to see him carry his success to AA and on into next season before labeling him a star prospect but his numbers so far are hard to ignore.  With continued success he could push his way into the Diamondbacks' future plans.


6/2/2005 -- Comparing & contrasting the top college closers available in next week's draft



I like your contrasting the skills section.  Could you please compare & contrast Hansen, Devine & Cox ?





Baseball Examiner:


Steve is a Baseball Examiner Reader Forum monster!


As part of our draft preview, we compared and contrasted some of the top prospects at certain positions where we compared the top two catchers, the top two third basemen, a couple of the best college shortstop prospects and the top two high school bats. We didn't cover the top college closers. We will now.


Craig Hansen (St. John's), Joey Devine (North Carolina St.) and J. Brent Cox (Texas) are widely considered the top college closers in the 2005 draft. One thing that college closers typically have in common is that it takes them less time to groom in the minor leagues.


In 2003, three first round picks were closers in college, Chad Cordero from Cal-St. Fullerton, Ryan Wagner from Houston, and Rice's David Aardsma. Wagner and Cordero made their major league debut before September had passed while Aardsma was on the major league roster for Opening Day 2004. Last year, University of Texas closer Huston Street was selected in the supplemental first round by the A's and he began the 2005 season in their bullpen. The first player to reach the majors from the 2002 draft was Kevin Correia, a Giants fourth-round selection out of Cal Poly.


Anyway, this year's top candidates for quick risers from college closer to major league bullpen are Hansen, Devine and Cox. Let's take a closer look:


Craig Hansen

We'll start with Hansen because he's the best of the three. His fastball ranks as one of the best in the draft, touching 97 mph. His slider even goes in the upper 80s. He's said to have the great makeup required of a major league closer. Teams could ask him to develop his changeup to in order to use him as a starter, but that would slow his development. He should be a top-10 pick in the draft, even been discussed as a possible option for #1 overall because of his major league readiness. It seems like his association with Scott Boras won't be as much of a factor as it would for most of the other Boras advisees.


Joey Devine

Devine's fastball is nearly as effective as Hansen's. Baylor's Mark McCormick is the only starting pitcher to surpass their radar gun readings, but McCormick has been much more erratic and comes with more red flags of caution. However, Devine comes with a red flag himself. His arm angle below three-quarters makes his sweeping slider very effective, but the mechanics could be a concern for scouts. Based on their primary two pitches, Devine's stuff doesn't rank much below Hansen, but he doesn't have the third-pitch potential like Hansen's changeup does. Expect Devine to go in the supplemental first round.


J. Brent Cox

Cox doesn't throw as hard as either Hansen or Devine. His fastball at about 90 won't blow any major league hitters away, but it does set up his best pitch which is a hard slider. Cox is less likely to develop into a closer than the other two. But nonetheless, Cox has legitimate stuff to soon be a big league relief pitcher and should be a solid middle reliever or set-up man. He could go as early as the supplemental first round or possibly the second round.

6/2/05 -- Dodgers 2b prospect Delwyn Young gets some props from his cousin

Thanks for ranking my cousin Delwyn Young in your top 2nd baseman prospects.

Let me give you some insight from spring training in Vero Beach. The Manager and G.M. (Tracy and Depodesta) had a meeting with him. They said, "kid, we know you can hit". "Your bat can get you to the big leagues, but your glove will keep you there". He told them that he used to pray that the ball would not be hit to him, but now he feels much more confident out there. They are always keeping a close eye on him to see how his defense is developing. Also, everyday in spring training I would show up and see either Jerry Royster or Dave Anderson working out with Delwyn in the infield. Anyway, spring training was a blast just witnessing all of this stuff with him being on the 40 man roster.


Now he's in Jacksonville hitting .288 with 8 homeruns, and he hasn't even gotten warmed up yet. Also, his defense is greatly improved. Watch what he does the 2nd half after the all-star game. If he doesn't get traded, and if the major league club keeps slumping, there is an outside chance that he could get called up at the end of the year.

Elgin U. Young


5/28/05 -- Steve, a loyal Baseball Examiner reader, inquires about some second base prospects



1) Do you think the Angels 2B of the future will be Alberto Callaspo or Howie Kendrick or someone else ?

2) Your thoughts on Josh Barfield's demise and whether he's still considered Loretta's successor ?


Thank you,




Chuck of Baseball Examiner:


Thanks for your latest questions, Steve. We do this for people like you who are as interested in following prospects as we are.


1) I'd say Alberto Callaspo is the frontrunner for the Angels' second baseman of the future. Callaspo was ranked #9 on our Top 15 Shortstops list before he returned to 2b at the beginning of this season. His range and athleticism make him a very good defender. His bat control and speed make him a possible 1 or 2 hitter in the lineup.


When making the Top 10 Second Basemen list, Howie Kendrick was only an honorable mention. He hit for a ridiculously high average (.367) but his walk total of only 12 in 313 at-bats at low-A made me wonder if his approach at the plate would get him overmatched at a higher level.. I wanted to see him duplicate that kind of offensive output this season. He's hitting .373 in high-A. I'm starting to think his offensive potential might be for real. But I still see Callaspo as the ultimate answer. Besides, Callaspo will get there first and it will be his position to lose.


A couple Angels shortstops that may play a future role in the 2b picture include Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood. At least one or both could be in the mix for possibilities at second base or center field, if neither lands the shortstop job.


2) Though Padres' second baseman Josh Barfield has been a bit disappointing, he's still considered to have the best bat in the system. I think he can be a decent big league hitter, but I don't necessarily think it will be as Loretta's successor because I see him moving to left field.


Some of the reason for disappointment in Barfield's bat is due to the fact that he tore it up in the high-A California League in 2003, which is the most hitter-friendly league in the minors. I think his great numbers (.337/.389/.530) inflated his potential a bit as he followed it up last year with .248/.313/.417 in Double-A and through 170 Triple-A at-bats this season is hitting .247/.301/.341. Which year appears to be the aberration at this point?


But at only age 22, he can even repeat Triple-A next year to truly find himself as a hitter and still be 24 as a big league rookie in 2007. So it's not hopeless for Barfield yet. But I'm sure starting to be concerned.



5/12/05 -- Red Sox fan Gerb-Dude takes opportunity to crack on Yankee fan

Don't you think it is funny that when the Yanks don't play like a two hundred million dollar team they are considered old and over the hill?


Watch, when they win eight out of ten and A-Rod is not seeing Varitek's glove up close or running with his arms "wildly" they are suddenly a veteran and experienced two hundred million dollar team. Then Yankee fan will be back.


You have been warned!


5/3/05 -- TALLSICILIAN88 offers some NCAA Division II talk

Last year, 2 pitchers from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) went in the 7th (Randy Dicken, Toronto) and 8th round Evan Englebrook, Houston) from Shippensburg U. Each year this conference has a few pitchers drafted fairly high. Best prospects this year are Lee Maclintock (Shippensburg U) and lefty Blake Barbini (Lock Haven U).


Barbini plays on a sub par team in a tough confrence and has incredible movement with his fastball and an unhittable changeup. He also has 8 pickoffs and has held batters to alow batting average. He has beaten nationally ranked D2 powerhouses such as Cal of PA, Shipp U, Clarion, and Indiana of PA. He lost to Regis U 3-2 in Florida holding them to 4 hits with 8k's.


Just some info on small college players for you....



5/3/05 -- What about Red Sox prospect Anibal Sanchez?



Was Sanchez considered for your top 20 righthanders ?  What's your opinion of him.






Chuck of Baseball Examiner:


Good question, Steve. Since I put together the righthanded pitchers list, I'll field (take the blame for) this one.


I did consider Anibal Sanchez when I was putting together the RHP list, though I didn't give him much more than a passing glance. My reasoning at the time was that he didn't have much of a track record for success. Sure, he did pitch very well last year in the short-season-A New York-Penn League (76 IP, 43 H, 29 BB, 101 SO, 1.77 ERA), but he did so at age 20. It's still a bit young for the NY-P considering all the former collegians who play at that level, but with foreign-signed players it's difficult to get a good grip on evaluating a guy's performance until he establishes a strong track record.


Even with American high school players we at least know what the scouting community thinks of a player as it relates to the draft. With the foreign born players, there is no draft status to fall back on. And who really ever knows their true age? So, it's easy to be skeptical of foreign-signed players in short-season leagues until proven otherwise in a full season league.


Well, I'm being proven otherwise. The first pitching line I saw from Sanchez this season impressed me. The second dominating pitching line made me wonder if I should have included him. With each awesome performance he continues to put together, I'm more and more convinced that he did belong.


If I were to do the list today, Sanchez would definitely be represented, likely around the 10-15 range. By the way, we do plan on revisiting our lists mid-way through the season and evaluate how the players have performed this year and how we might update our rankings.


In his first four starts this season, Sanchez has allowed only 14 hits and one walk with 35 k's in 20 innings. And that's after skipping a level to high-A ball. He looks to be on the fast track to the majors. And being a Red Sox minor league pitching prospect, that likely means he'll soon be included in a trade for a veteran. That's just the way the Red Sox do things.



5/3/05 -- Father of a Texas high school shortstop seeks draft advice


I found your list of the top 30 prospects and really enjoyed the info shared. But where can I go to find out more info of potential prospects, specifically high school guys?


My son is a shortstop from a high school in Texas. He is being visited with several scouts and trying to get a feel as we know nothing about nothing.


He has turned enough heads and have recd enough pro info / player Q / medical info to muddy up the water. This idea of answering what round would you sign in? is difficult w/out knowing more about the draft itself.


Thanks so much.


Baseball Examiner's response


4/9/05 -- Tom M. silences boos for Mariano


3/27/05 -- Jim "Doc" Sabin  picking up Big Mac


As a lifelong Yankee fan, it is always wonderful to see Mr. Rivera come in when the "game is on the line". This opening series with the BoSox has made some Nyorkers anxious; ESPN has even gotten into the mix, wondering if Mariano has finally reached his peak. Hey, let's all relax, and not give General George any more anxiety than he already has: Rivera is still "the guy". His two blown saves only makes us realize that the league has more talent than ever, and that, yes Yankee fans, the Red Sox are indeed for real: last year was just not a bad dream!
So, enjoy next week's series at Fenway: Mr Rivera still has a few "quality saves" left in him.


Big Mac took one for the sport

There are some things in life that you just know youre never going to have to do.

I know, for example, that Ill never have to worry about being nervous in my first major-league at-bat. I know I wont have to worry about the media crush that comes with being the president of the United States. more



3/3/05 -- Dwaine comes to Griffey, Jr.'s defense



I just can't understand why Chuck has to expect the worst on Griffey Jr. (see "What's Up With Chuck", Feb. 26 entry). He is one of the most likable people in the game. He always works hard to rehab and then gets hurt because he is giving everything he's got. It just doesn't make sense that Chuck would bash Griffey Jr. with his sarcastic attitude toward his past injuries. There is nothing I would enjoy more than seeing Griffey Jr. healthy and smiling again. He is someone that obviously enjoys the game and plays hard everyday.




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