Archive for October 31, 2011

2012 First Round Analysis: Does Carlos Gonzalez Belong Among The Top 12?

We all know who the clear-cut first round selections are.  It’s obvious that players like Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols and a handful of others are going to be among the Top 12 selected on draft day.  The questions really start to come in around pick nine or ten as things start to become extremely borderline.  In this series of articles we will take a look at all of the options for the tail end of the first round of your draft and try to determine who should be selected and who we should wait until the second round to select.

We all know how talented Carlos Gonzalez is, but injuries have continued to handcuff him.  While the overall numbers were impressive, he was limited to 127 games and has gained the unenviable label of injury risk.  Does the upside outweigh the potential problems?  Let’s take a look:

2011 Statistics
.295 (142-481), 26 HR, 92 RBI, 92 R, 20 SB

The Case For Him
Outfield is not as deep of a position as it once was.  The number of potentially elite players at the position can basically be counted on one hand.  In all honesty, there’s Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista, who basically belong in a class by themselves.  You have Carlos Gonzalez, who is right there, along with Justin Upton and maybe Andrew McCutchen.  Is there really anyone else who you can consider borderline “elite”? Read more

2012 Outlook: Can Mike Leake Emerge As A Viable Option?

Mike Leake is an intriguing player to look at since he has a career path followed by very few players.  How often does someone really jump from the draft to the Major Leagues without spending an inning in the minor leagues?

The answer is very, very rarely.  While Leake was finally forced to spend all of 7.1 innings at Triple-A in 2011, he continues to mature and develop at the Major League level.  Clearly, skipping the minors has not affected his performance in the least:

12 Wins
167.2 Innings
3.86 ERA
1.17 WHIP
118 Strikeouts (6.33 K/9)
38 Walks (2.04 BB/9)
.269 BABIP 

Granted, there was a little bit of luck involved in his 2011 performance, but not enough to really make us pause with concern.  Where he really thrived was in his control, a marked improvement over his 3.19 BB/9 in ’10.  Without a minor league track record to compare it to, it’s hard to say who the real Mike Leake is. Read more

Prospect Report: Will Brad Peacock Be The Next Young Stud For Washington?

A 41st round draft pick in 2006, it has been a slow climb through the Nationals system for Brad Peacock.  The journey culminated in 2011 when he made three appearances (two starts) in the Major Leagues going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  Once an afterthought, we now have to consider him a potential option in the Nationals’ rotation.

Peacock split time in Double & Triple-A last season, posting a 2.39 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 177 K in 146.2 innings.  It was the first time since 2007 (39.1 innings) that he posted an ERA under 4.00.  So, the question is if his success last season was simply an aberration or was it that he finally realized his full potential.

Of course, the numbers do not always live up to a pitchers upside.  Things actually started to turn for Peacock in 2010 when he saw his strikeout rate improve significantly with 148 Ks over 142.0 innings of work.  Throw in solid control (47 walks) and you could tell that things were starting to click despite his 4.50 ERA. 

Prior to the 2011 season, despite his previous struggles, Baseball America ranked him as the team’s tenth best prospect.  They talked about his fastball, which had increased in velocity and topping out at 96 mph.  We saw it during his brief cup of coffee in the Majors in 2011, averaging 92.7 mph on his fastball. Read more

2012 Outlook: Why Geovany Soto Should Not Be Drafted As A Starting Catcher

Geovany Soto exploded onto the scene in 2008, hitting .285 with 23 HR and 86 RBI.  Since then?  Fantasy owners have treated him like a viable option in all formats and all he has done is disappoint for three straight years. 

His 2011 campaign could be the worst of the bunch, as you can see by looking at the numbers:

421 At Bats
.228 Batting Average (96 Hits)
17 Home Runs
54 RBI
46 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.310 On Base Percentage
.411 Slugging Percentage
.280 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Maybe he was pressing to try and prove his value, but the biggest issue was an increased strikeout rate.  Last season he posted a 26.2% mark.  Over his first three full seasons he was at 21.5%, 19.8% and 21.4%, so it is a clear indication of why his average was so poor.  Read more

Post Hype Sleeper: Can Cliff Pennington Realize His Potential In 2012?

There were many who believed that Cliff Pennington would be a breakout superstar in 2011, and why not?  He had stolen 29 bases in 2010 and with a 21.5% line drive rate there was reason to believe that he could translate his talents to a significantly better average (.250 courtesy of a .296 BABIP in ‘10).

Many saw him as a late round alternative to top names such as Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, with his potential to swipe over 30 bases and hit near the top of the A’s lineup.  Unfortunately things did not quite go as planned as Pennington posted the following line:

515 At Bats
.264 Batting Average (136 Hits)
8 Home Runs
58 RBI
57 Runs
14 Stolen Bases
.319 On Base Percentage
.369 Slugging Percentage
.314 Batting Average on Balls in Play

He actually did a better job in hitting the ball on a line, posting a 24.8% line drive rate.  However, while his BABIP was realistic, with that type of line drive rate to go along with his speed you could easily see him capable of maintaining a much better rate and therefore a better average.  Read more

Can Bud Norris Take The A Step Forward Next Season?

It was well reported that Bud Norris would likely be a solid, low-end source of strikeouts heading into the 2011 season.  Low-end was a perfect description for him when the year came to a close, though the numbers were more than enough to make him intriguing once again as we head into 2012:

6 Wins
186.0 Innings
3.77 ERA
1.33 WHIP
176 Strikeouts (8.52 K/9)
70 Walks (3.39 BB/9)
.294 BABIP

Having posted a 9.25 K/9 over 153.2 inning in 2010 and 9.50 mark over his minor league career, we all know that the 26-year old Norris (he’ll turn 27 prior to the start of the 2012 season) can maintain or improve upon his 2011 strikeout number.  That’s not going to be an issue.  The question is if the other numbers can either be replicated, or improved upon, to make him a more viable option. Read more