Sunday, October 12, 2008

Farm Report: Outfielders

I'll try to be more concise, this time, since there are more players on the list. Other prospect lists are starting to trickle out and it's less likely I'll tell you something you haven't read elsewhere, but for those who are not chasing down every syllable on minor league prospects, this might give you a decent overview.

One thing to remember here, after the top name on the list, there isn't a clearly defined pecking order when you look at stats alone. Among all positions this is probably the one that's most dependent on reports from scouts and "project-ability" of tools.

1. Travis Snider - 21, 5'11" 230, 2006 1st round

What can I say about Snider that hasn't been said? He's so good he may well be in Baseball America's Top 5 next year, certainly the top 10. He's a solid average corner outfielder who's come up through the system playing a good RF. He has a ton of power in his bat and he has "intangibles" that scouts call "off the scale" in terms of drive and leadership. The Jays have an interesting situation in that he was not over-matched in a late season call up and the temptation surely exist to go with him as a member of the team next year. But the more prudent course would be to patch for a year and then bring him up for good in 2010. Along with that, there is the question of who is going to be the DH, long term. A player with Snider's intensity should be in the field.

In my opinion, Adam Lind is likely going to be our 1B if he's here for years to come, Snider will be in LF, and Cooper, if/when he arrives, is your DH. In any case, the Jays will have to work it out soon because Snider's minor league career is almost over.

ETA: depends on other roster movements.

2. Eric Eiland - 20, 6'0" 200, 2007 2nd round

To really understand the excitement about Eiland, you need to look back to a previous Jays prospect. As a 19 year old in low-A ball this year, Eiland posted an OPS of only .640 and didn't hit a single HR. This other fellow, as a 20 year old in low-A ball, posted an OPS of .650 and hit only 2 HR. He also had a much worse walk rate - but then, as now, everyone understood the tools were there. That player was Alex Rios. Eiland is slightly shorter, more filled out, but also has a better eye at the plate and much better base-running skills (he was caught once in 24 stolen base attempts this year). I've not seen a bad scouting report on his skills yet, all he needs is time and work. He probably doesn't have the quite power potential of Rios, though he has good bat speed and won't be a singles hitter. He has the potential to be a solid lead-off hitter, perhaps in a similar vein to Johnny Damon, at his best.

ETA: as soon as 2012 if he learns well.

3. Johermyn Chavez - 20, 6'3" 220, signed as UFA in 2005

I might get some negative feedback on this one because Chavez had an awful season by any standard this year. But this is a guy who was playing at 19 and who opened last year as a top 10 prospect in the Jays system on more than one respected list (Baseball Prospectus had him #7, John Sickels #8, for instance) and I simply don't see that he's played himself out of prospect status.

Chavez was decent in April and July and McDonald-esque otherwise. But he's rated to have impressive power potential and good all around hitting skills. He's not as impressive defensively and LF is where he has to play with the glove. All that said, this is a crucial year for Chavez and he definitely needs to turn a corner in his second stint in Lansing.

ETA: 2013, probably in the second half.

4. Eric Thames - 22, 6'0" 195, 2008 round 7

Rank Thames, and the two which follow, in any order you choose. At this point, until we see them in pro-ball more extensively, there are only marginal differences. Thames was a guy that many considered a real steal in the 2008 draft. A guy who some projected to go as high as the first round, he tore a quad muscle shortly before the draft and scared many teams away. He missed the entire 2008 pro season as a result and so the Jays will not see him on the field in their system until the spring. Given his age relative to others here, it seems important he get off to a strong start.

Thames grades out above average in every tool except his arm, which is said to be definitely left field caliber. His power potential is still developing, but he has an excellent swing and great bat speed and most see solid power from him and, like Eiland, he's an excellent runner.

ETA: a "normal" progression would take 3-4 years but it seems likely Thames is a candidate for an aggressive promotion plan. Call it sometime in 2012.

5. Marcus Brisker - 19, 6'4", 192, 2008 6th round

Drafted 4 rounds after the man who follows him on this list, Brisker got out of the gate far faster. Brisker closed hot with an OPS of .862 in August (a small sample) to bring his overall OPS past .700. Brisker has good speed and a good eye at the plate for his age but is very raw. He has time though, and he got off to a good start.

ETA: 2014

6. Kenny Wilson - 19, 6'0" 165, 2008 2nd round

Wilson is an example of an odd drafting pattern for the Jays of late. Picks in the second or third round some consider to be reaches, picks in the 4th round or later widely regarded as steals. Wilson did nothing (save have a nice run in the last ten games) to make you feel comfortable about him as a second rounder, but, like Brisker, he's very raw and young. Wilson's best tool is his speed, he stole 25 bases having only made it as far as first base 54 times. He doesn't project to have a lot of power and you might be thinking of him as a Juan Pierre-type CF except that he doesn't have a true CF arm.

I think that the odds are pretty good that at some point Wilson will be a trading chip more so than a guy you can expect to see patrolling the outfield for the Jays.

ETA: 2014-2015

7. Ryan Patterson - 26, 5'11" 205, 2005 4th round.

This (2008) was the year Patterson was supposed to step up and for the most part, he didn't. He spent the full season at AA (which was not the plan) and had mixed results. What we do know is that he rakes against LHP (how well I can't tell you since MiLB.com has AFL stats on the player profile instead of the full season) and that he is one of those "high intangible" guys the Jays love. In short, Patterson has a pretty decent chance of being another Reed Johnson. But he's probably never going to be much good against a righty.

ETA: 2010

Next time: Starting pitchers

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Check out the hot start by Jays 2B prospect Brad Emaus in the Hawaii Fall League.

WillRain

1 comment:

eyebleaf said...

Nice look at the outfielders. I'm starting to believe that Snider deserves an every day shot next season. Longoria did it in 2008, I think Snider can do it in 2009.

And I'm eagerly anticipating the starting pitchers farm report. Thanks for doing this. Y'all are rudeys.