Thursday, December 15, 2005

Class A Charleston River Dogs

Our Quest for the 2008 Roster continues today in Charleston, South Carolina, home of the Class A River Dogs. They tied for second in the South Atlantic League Southern Division, and were tied for the third best record in the league.

The story here starts with 24-year-old first baseman Ben Jones. To perform any analysis, I’m obviously going to have to list his statistics.

AgeABAvgOBPSlgIso-DIso-POPSAB/SO
24475.288.364.455.076.167.8194.36


Those are quite good numbers in anybody’s book, especially the isolated marks. The monkey wrench here is that he’s 24 in A ball, meaning he’s probably physically superior to a lot of the players there. He’ll surely move to Trenton or maybe even Columbus for 2006, which could even his numbers out. If he can handle the pitching there, he may have a future. But I just have a feeling that he’ll be overmatched at higher minor league levels and fizzle out of view.

Also playing first base for Charleston this year was 23-year-old Cody Ehlers. Checking in at 5’11”, 190 pounds, he is a far cry from Jones’s 6’3”, 196-pound frame. This would be problematic in the eyes of most scouts, but if we’ve learned anything from Moneyball it’s that players should not be judged by their physique unless it is an evident problem (if he can’t see his penis, for example). For now, we’ll look at performance rather than bodies (and penises).

AgeABAvgOBPSlgIso-DIso-POPSAB/SO
23324.278.387.426.109.148.8135.4


There’s little not to like about Ehlers if you can put his frame aside. His average was far from terrible, and when attached to an OBP 109 points higher, it looks quite better. Combine that with a decent isolated power number and a relatively low strikeout rate, and you have a guy that we should definitely check up on regularly. I just hope he’ll make his way to Trenton next year rather than Advanced-A Tampa.

Next up on the list is Tim Battle, a 20-year-old outfielder who is only on the list because of his age. Plus, he racked up quite a few at bats, meaning a more meaningful sample size. But mostly because of his age.

AgeABAvgOBPSlgIso-DIso-POPSAB/SO
20525.259.335.455.076.196.7902.69


His strikeout rate is especially troubling, but since he’s only 20, he gets half a pass on this one. Obviously that rate will have to drastically improve if he is going to advance. On the brighter side, he mashes the ball, as evidenced by that .196 isolated power mark. Given his age, he should be on the watch. Figure for him to end up in Tampa this year.

The problem with the rest of the group is a diminished sample size, but just to squeeze one more player, I’ll mention 22-year-old outfielder Edwar Gonzalez.

AgeABAvgOBPSlgIso-DIso-POPSAB/SO
24294.286.319.456.033.170.7755.44


Discipline, discipline, discipline. The more I research minor league players, the more I realize that overcoming a free-swinging demeanor is not any simple task (which makes me wonder about Robinson Cano, but that’s for another day). Yet, it’s still possible to be a quality player without posting an astronomical OBP, so there is still hope for Gonzalez, considering his power numbers combined with a doable strikeout rate. I’ll add him to the list, but he has to be the little brother that takes all the abuse. It’s only fair.

Now comes the question of pitching, which isn’t exactly a strong point in the Yankees system. Other than Phil Hughes, who departed for Tampa mid-season, there isn’t really a bright spot as far as starters go on this staff.

Chase Wright is a 22-year-old lefty, the Yankees third round pick in the 2001 draft. He’s not quite a strikeout pitcher, fanning 6.88 per nine, and yes he does have some control problems – 4.31 per nine. From Baseball America:

A third-rounder in 2001, the Yankees Chase Wright often has had problems finding the plate as evidenced by his 166 walks in 251 innings entering this season. He has 44 walks in 87 innings this season, so the control problems aren't improving that much. The lefthander, however, had one of the best games of his pro career Monday. The 21-year-old allowed one run over eight innings while fanning seven to improve his record to 6-3, 4.67 for low Class A Charleston.


Not really counting on much here. One guy I do want to talk about, though is T.J. Beam, a 6’7” 25-year-old righty. The guy has some serious gas, striking out 11.77 per nine while walking only 2.72. Only two pitches that left his hand found the bleachers, and his WHIP was just a hair over one. Chances are, he’ll begin the season in Double-A, and will be in Columbus before long. Bullpen help? This one is promising.

Nine guys yesterday, another six today. Fifteen Yankees are now on the Quest for the 2008 Roster, and we still have Staten Island, Tampa, Trenton, and Columbus to go. I know you’re on the edge of your seats, Yankees fans, not satisfied until you have seen every decent prospect in the Yankees farm system hyperbolized.

(And not to keep harping on the subject of penises, but if you misspell the word and right click on it for suggestions, it will never suggest the word “penis.” Trust me, I tried every remotely close spelling. Nothing. What, are the people at Microsoft homophobic or something?)