Central Processing: 2009 Prospect Reviews (2s)

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Back on September 18th, I published my 2009 Prospect Reviews of the number 1 ranked prospects for each AL Central team.  Today I present to you the 2nd, and long overdue, post in the series.  This edition will cover the #2 prospects, according to the Baseball America 2009 Prospect Handbook.  So lets get to the reviews of Dayan Viciedo, Matt LaPorta, Ryan Perry, Eric Hosmer, and Ben Revere.

Chicago White Sox:  3B/OF-Dayan Viciedo (3/10/1989)

The White Sox signed Dayan as a free agent in December of 2008 after he defected from Cuba in May.  He was given a 4 year ML contract which guarantees him $10 million.  Viciedo possesses a ton of raw power but at 5’11 and around 240 pounds, he has below average speed.  He has the instincts and plenty of arm to play 3B, but his size limits his range.  Coming into the season there were questions about his conditioning, but he has slimmed down from around 260 pounds to 240 pounds in the last year and a half which is certainly a positive sign.

Dayan spent 2009 playing for the Double-A Birmingham Barons in the Southern League and hit 0.280/.317/.391 with 12 HR, 5 SB, 23 BB, and 89 SO in 504 AB.  For a power hitter, you’d expect to see a better SLG.  You’d also expect better numbers overall for a guy with the amount of international experience that Viciedo has.  That is, at least, until you consider that he spent the year playing in Double-A as a 20 year old while also adapting to professional baseball in the states.  The average age of hitters at his level in 2009 was 24.3 years making him over 4 years younger than most of his peers, and playing in a new country and culture has to take some getting used to.  He didn’t take the league by storm, but he wasn’t a complete bust either.  He showed enough to be named a Southern League All-Star, and was selected to play in the Futures Game.  Viciedo came out of Cuba with the reputation of a being a free swinger willing to chase balls out of he zone and considering he struck out 3.9 times for every 1 walk he drew, that assessment seems to be completely accurate.

The White Sox assigned Viciedo to the Arizona Fall League and he hit 0.333/.350/.556 with 1 BB and 6 SO in 18 AB while there.  He played his last AFL game on October 19th and was shut down with inflammation in his throwing arm on the 26th.  With Gordon Beckham at 3B and Carlos Quentin in LF, Viciedo’s immediate future with the White Sox figures to be at DH.  Early indications are that he may have a shot at that role as early as 2010.  The team could also move Beckham back to SS and Alexei Ramirez over to 2B to make room for Dayan at 3B but it would be counter productive for Ozzie Guillen and GM Ken Williams to distrupt their infield to such an extent.  Viciedo would probably be best served with some more time in the minors, but the team clearly would like to have him contributing in the majors as soon as possible.

2009 Assessment:  Held his own

2010 Projection:  Triple-A Charlotte with possible mid-season call-up

Cleveland Indians:  OF-Matt LaPorta (1/8/1985)

Matt LaPorta was drafted in the 1st round (7th overall) by the Brewers out of the University of Florida.  He was the key piece in the trade that sent C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee.  LaPorta’s strengths include above average power and solid plate discipline.  He played 1B in college and has shown good instincts in the OF, but his below average speed, range, and arm suggest he may be best suited to play 1B long term.

After joining Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate in Akron, he hit just 0.233/.299/.350 with 2 HR, 4 BB and 12 SO in 60 AB.  Still he showed enough in the Brewers’ system, before the trade, to merit his #2 prospect status.  This year, with Triple-A Columbus, LaPorta hit 0.299/.388/.530 with 17 HR, 42 BB, and 56 SO in 338 AB.  He also made his ML debut and hit 0.254/.308/.442 with 7 HR, 12 BB, and 37 SO in 181 AB during his time in Cleveland.  While playing for the Indians, he played 10 games at 1B, 10 games in RF, and 29 games in LF.  They are admittedly small sample sizes, but his UZR/150 numbers suggest that LF is his worst of the 3 positions.  At 1B his UZR/150 was 8.9 while his UZR/150 was -8.7 in LF and 15.4 in RF.  LaPorta brought a 0.4 WAR to the Tribe in 2009 and seems poised to have a long and successful career.  His time in the minors should be at an end as he has nothing left to prove there.

2009 Assessment:  Solid Triple-A season and respectable ML debut

2010 Projection:  Entire season with Cleveland

Detroit Tigers:  RHP-Ryan Perry (2/13/1987)

The Detroit Tigers spent their 1st round pick (21st overall) in the 2008 draft on University of Arizona RHP-Ryan Perry.  Capable of hitting triple digits with his fastball, he has already justified the lofty draft status and the $1.48 million it took to sign him.  His arsenal includes a four-seam fastball that sits in the high 90s, a two-seam fastball in the mid-90s, a slider in the high 80s, and an untested changeup.

In 2008, Perry got 2 innings of work in for the GCL Tigers in rookie ball and didn’t give up a hit, run, or walk while striking out 4.  He then jumped to High-A Lakeland where he threw 12 innings with a 3.86 ERA.  He gave up 15 H, 5 ER, 7 BB and struck out 12.  2009 saw Perry on the Tigers’ opening day roster and he didn’t disappoint.  He provided Detroit with 61.2 IP with a 3.79 ERA, 1.524 WHIP, 56 H, 38 BB, and 60 SO.  He also spent some time in June and July pitching for Triple-A Toledo and threw 13.2 IP with a 2.63 ERA, 1.244 WHIP, 13 H, 4 BB, and 12 SO while there.  Perry needs to continue to refine his control, but he’s already shown the ability to succeed at the ML level.

2009 Assessment:  Excellent debut

2010 Projection:  Tigers bullpen with the potential to be a closer

Kansas City Royals:  1B-Eric Hosmer (10/24/1989)

The Royals used their 1st round pick (3rd overall) in the 2008 draft on 1B-Eric Hosmer from Florida’s American Plantation HS.  He was the most advanced and talented HS bat in the draft and possesses excellent bat speed and top of the chart power potential.

Things were looking good as he made his 2008 debut with Idaho Falls and hit 0.364/.533/.545 in 11 AB.  His season was cut short when he was caught up in the Pedro Alvarez contract dispute and was not allowed to play the remainder of the season.  With the Alvarez matter resolved, big things were expected of Hosmer but the results were disappointing.  Eric started the year out in Low-A with the Burlington Bees and held his own hitting 0.254/.352/.382 with 5 HR, 44 BB, and 68 SO in 280 AB.  He showed excellent plate discipline and OBP for a power prospect, but the power itself was absent.  Instead of letting him continue his development with the Bees, the Royals gave him an expected promotion to High-A Wilmington.  He hit just 0.206/.280/.299 with 1 HR, 9 BB, and 22 SO in 97 AB.  He was clearly in over his head and then to top things off, he lost time at the end of the year with eye problems.  He eventually had lasik eye surgery in late August to correct a stigmatism.

2010 will be a huge season for Hosmer.  He will have to prove that his struggles this season were a result of being pushed too aggressively, a result of the vision problems, or a combination of both.  I’m not worried about the lack of SLG at this point since power is always the last tool to fully develop and the vision problems were certainly a factor in this as well.

2009 Assessment:  Disappointing season due to vision problem and over aggressive promotion

2010 Projection:  Double-A Wilmington Blue Rocks

Minnesota Twins:  OF-Ben Revere (5/3/1988)

Revere was taken by the Twins in the 1st round (28th overall) of the 2007 draft out of Kentucky’s Lexington Catholic HS.  As soon as the selection was made, critics were out in force and few people outside of the organization thought that the Twins had used their pick wisely.  From the moment he made his professional debut, Revere has been proving the critics and doubters wrong.  He is blessed with top notch speed, has good gap power, excellent plate discipline, and a good concept of the strike zone to top it all off.  Defensively he has a below average arm, but outside of that projects to be an excellent defensive CF.

Revere hit the ground running, literally, when he made his 2007 debut with the GCL Twins in rookie ball.  While there he hit 0.325/.388/.461 with 21 SB, 13 BB, and 20 SO in 191 AB.  It was an impressive start to a career but it was just glimpse of what he would do in 2008 for the Low-A Beloit Snappers.  With Beloit, he hit a stunning 0.379/.433/.497 with 44 SB, 27 BB, and 31 SO in 340 AB.  His 0.379 average led the minors and helped him win the Midwest League MVP Award.  This year, Revere spent the entire season with the Fort Myers Miracle in the High-A Florida State League.  He hit 0.311/.372/.369 with 45 SB, 40 BB, and 34 SO in 2009 and was named to the mid-season and post-season FSL All Star teams.

2009 Assessment:  Rousing success

2010 Projection:  Double-A New Britain Rock Cats

Summation:

Based on their performance leading up to this season, including this season, and in future seasons, I would rank them in the following order:

  • Ben Revere-MIN:  He has had a great deal of success everywhere he has gone, is regarded as the best hitter in the Twins farm system, and has improved his BB rate while decreasing his SO rate every season.  It looks like Revere will carry on the excellent CF tradition of the Minnesota Twins when he reaches the majors.
  • Matt LaPorta-CLE:  He is on the verge of big things.  Don’t know if LaPorta will turn into a superstar player, but he’s certainly going to be very good for a very long time.  An argument could certainly be made for LaPorta to be at the top of this list, but my personal preference gives Revere the edge.
  • Ryan Perry-DET:  Perry has had the most ML success, but his role as a reliever and sporadic control issues keep him solidly behind LaPorta and Revere in my book.  That said, I anticipate that Ryan will have a long and productive ML career.  If the Tigers give him a shot to close games and he has success in the role then his value certainly increases, but for now he gets the 3rd spot.
  • Dayan Viciedo-CWS:  He did “ok” in his first season but his aggressive, free swinging nature are working against his chances to have a lot of success in the majors.  It doesn’t help his case that very few Cuban defectors have lived up to the hype.
  • Eric Hosmer-KC:  At this stage, the other four prospects really leave Hosmer in the dust, but all is not lost.  Eric the youngest of these five players, and the eye problems can excuse away some of the lackluster results in 2009.  The Royals also didn’t do him any favors with the oddly timed promotion from Burlington to Wilmington.  He has proven the least of these 5 players and also has the most questions surrounding him heading into 2010 which result in his 5th place ranking.
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Tags: AL Central Baseball Ben Revere Chicago White Sox Cleveland Indians Dayan Viciedo Detroit Tigers Eric Hosmer Kansas City Royals KC Matt LaPorta Minnesota Twins MLB Royals Ryan Perry

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