August 16, 2008
Scouting Notebook, Part 2
We first tipped you off on Carlos Santana as an up-and-comer in the Dodgers system in Late may. He had firmly established himself as a true prospect by the time the trading deadline arrived, finishing up with a .323/.431/.563 line at High-A Inland Empire before being shipped to the Indians in the Casey Blake deal. The West Coast scouts saw him as an everyday big-league catcher at the time, and he's been even better since the trade, slugging .367/.441/.600 in 15 games for High-A Kinston in a much tougher offensive environment. One scout who recently saw Santana in the Carolina League agreed with the assessment of his bat, while also showing optimism for his defensive work. "I know he came here with the reputation of an offensive catcher, but he's not [just] that," said the scout. "He has a lot of work to do back there, but that's where his ceiling is, and he receives okay and has a plus arm." The scout was surprised at Santana's athleticism, grading him out as an average runner who had no problems with the stick. "He hits the ball hard in every at-bat," continued the scout. "He's definitely really interesting."
The scout who was impressed with Santana had equally good things to say about Kinston first baseman Beau Mills. Last year's first-round selection is batting .291/.375/.494 for the K-Tribe, with an even more impressive .329/.401/.551 line since the All-Star break. Drafted as a third baseman where he was well below-average with the glove, the scout noted that even at first base, Mills is problematic. "He has pretty good numbers and at the plate he really grew on me each time I saw him," said the scout. "Defensively, it's not as good," he continued. "He gets his feet tangled and his reactions aren't good and he's lunging a lot-just nothing looks easy for him defensively."
While we're on bat-only types, Cardinals first-round pick Brett Wallace is having little trouble adjusting to professional baseball since signing quickly after getting picked 13th overall in June. Currently hitting a healthy .350/.428/.529 in 37 games for Low-A Quad Cities, Wallace drew some impressive comparisons from a scout who recently sat down to watch the River Bandits. "He can really swing it- I'm sure that's not some kind of huge revelation," joked the scout. "He almost reminded me of a left-handed Billy Butler," he continued. "His body is not very good, but he's a better athlete than Butler. I'm not sure he's a big power guy, but he's going to hit a lot of doubles." Currently playing third base during his pro debut, multiple scouts have relayed below-average defensive scores for both Wallace's range and arm, and this scout was no different. "The question really is where he'll play."
The state of pitching prospectdom in the Rangers system is truly impressive, both in terms of depth and talent. In the wake of the great leaps forward taken by guys like Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland, some of the others have been lost in the shuffle, including 2007 first-round pick Michael Main. Main missed the first half of the season recovering from a rib-cage injury, but he's been impressive since his return, with a 2.25 ERA in six starts for Low-A Clinton while recording 28 strikeouts in 28 innings and limiting opposing batters to a .221 average. A scout who recently saw Main noted plenty of good in the here and now, combined with a good amount of room for future improvement. "The stuff is there, but it needs to be refined," explained the scout. "I saw him up to 94 mph on the fastball with good life, and his curveball is a real downer with a pretty sharp break. His delivery is solid and he's aggressive, and really he's got everything you want to see in a kid his age." As for the improvements Main needs to make, the scout felt that Main would perfectly capable of reaching them. "He's so athletic and thin and lean-there's not a lot of pitchability right now, but I can see it coming. You add the physical maturing that's clearly still to come, and he could really turn into something."
Going into the draft, everyone knew that San Diego supplemental first-round pick Jaff Decker was a kid with an advanced approach, but this is getting ridiculous. Currently with the Padres' Rookie-level Arizona squad, Decker is batting .348/.534/.513, with the high (to put it mildly) on-base percentage the result of 44 walks in just 115 at-bats. Against left-handers, he's drawn 12 walks in 22 at-bats, and when leading off an inning he has a .731 on-base percentage, going 7-for-11 while drawing 11 free passes. This being said, the Padres are clearly working on their plate discipline, and their team total of 260 bases on balls is almost fifty percent higher than any other team in the league, and gives them a team on-base percentage of .396.
From the where are they now files: Kit Pellow, the 34-year-old slugger who had cups of coffee both with the Royals and the Rockies earlier in the decade, just completed a triple crown season in the Mexican League, batting .385/.459/.730 with 34 home runs and 107 RBI in 103 games. Finishing second in the home-run race was former big-leaguer Ruben Rivera, with 25.