Australia’s top 10 young prospects
One of the more interesting overseas blogs that keeps an eye on things here in Australia is myworldofbaseball. Now that Spring Training is well under way and the minor leaguers are reporting for work he has this to say about some of Australia’s top prospects this coming season:-
Australia got the support of major league baseball to begin their own baseball league over the winter. It was a great opportunity to expose many of their players to major league scouts. The Minnesota Twins tend to be the king of signing Australian players. While none of the below has any guarantee of reaching the major leagues, they are being exposed to professional baseball and that is sometimes half the battle. Below is the list of the top ten players from Australia toiling in the minor leagues.
1. Liam Hendricks RHP (Twins) – Liam has missed a lot of time because of knee and back issues. Fortunately for him, none of his injuries have involved his arm. The 2010 season saw him relatively healthy and he was dominant in A ball, keeping his overall ERA between the two levels to below 2.00. His command was impeccable, walking only 12 batters in over 100 innings of work and he keeps the ball in the park. His fastball stays in the low 90s, but with his command that is solid average. Liam also has a curve, slider and change.
2. James Beresford SS (Twins) - James has shown that he has a solid bat, hitting .404 in the Australian League and .297 for Low A Beloit. He does seem to lack power and his stolen base efficiency was poor last year, stealing 14 bases in 28 attempts. You could save the effort and flip a coin to determine his success rate in stolen bases. He has all the tools needed to be a success at short defensively. The bat will be the key to his promotion.
3. Luke Hughes 3B (Twins) – Danny Valencia made a splash in his rookie year with the Twins. That leaves Luke Hughes, who plays the same position as Danny, with a move to the outfield or hope for a trade to another team lookiing for a third baseman. Luke has yet to play over 100 games in a season, injuries being a fate he has been unable to dodge. When healthy he can hit for good power. His defensive skills are not nearly as sharp as Valencia so he has to earn the position with a more consistent bat.
4. Stefan Welch 1B (Mets) – Welch hasn’t really shown the power to fill the first base position. He certainly isn’t going to yank the first base job from Ike Davis. He did club seven homeruns in just 40 games in the Australian League, a vast improvement with his eight homeruns in 133 games in the Florida State League, with parks that are not friendly to power hitters. On the down side he hit only .201 in the Australian League, whiffing 42 times in 40 games. He is 6′3″ and only 175 so at some point he will fill out and the power numbers should improve.
5. Corey Adamson OF (Padres) – When the Padres signed Corey to a six figure contract in 2008 they described him as a five tool player. In two years covering over 200 at bats he has yet to club one over the fence. So power does not seem to be a tool that is showing itself. Ike Davis took some time to develop his power, so perhaps Corey just needs more at bats to put the barrell of the bat on the ball on a more consistent basis. He did strike out 51 times in 50 games and was only three for ten in stolen base success rate, but he is still a teenager struggling against college level players. Myworld will give him some slack.
6. Mitch Dening OF (Red Sox) – The trade of Reymond Fuentes opened the future center field job to Dening, but he is probably still third on the depth chart. He doesn’t have the power to play the corner so if he is to avoid the tag of a fourth outfielder he will have to prove his worth in center. Unfortunately, he does not have the burner speed to steal a lot of bases or show tremendous range. Myworld doesn’t see him avoiding the fourth outfielder tag.
7. Brendan Wise RHp (Tigers) – Brendan has an opportunity to find himself in the Tiger bullpen in 2011. He had a successfull season last year, combining for a 1.87 ERA between AA and AAA. The opposition hit only .240 off him, but his walk to whiff ratio was poor (23/40 in 77 innings pitched). Except for his first year he has always worked out of the bullpen. While he is used as a closer in Australia he doesn’t have the dominanting stuff to be a closer in the major leauges. His fastball resides in the low 90s. The best he can expect is to pitch in setup.
8. Rory Rhodes 3B (Twins) – At 6′7″ you would think Rory would be a pitcher. Somehow he finds himself at third base. He has yet to hit a homerun in his two years in the minor leagues, which covers over 200 at bats. He did slug five homeruns in 111 at bats in the Australian League. Expect him to move to first base or the outfield at some point. The Twins signed him for $220,000, so they certainly saw something in his skills they liked.
9. Jarryd Sullivan RHP (Pirates) – The Pirates have assigned a scout to look at players from Australia and Jarryd is one of the first results of that venture. His fastball is not overpowering at this point, Jarryd relying more on location to get hitters out. He had a 7/16 walk to whiff ratio in 38 innings with the opposition hitting him at a .288 rate. He didn’t give up a run in his five appearances in the Australian League, with his command not as sharp (3/7 walk to K ratio in seven innings) but the opposition average at .154. It was a smaller sample size so not much can be said about the results.
10. Drew Naylor RHP (Phillies) – Naylor is one of the few older pitching prospects that the Phillies haven’t traded for another ace in their rotation. It will be difficult for Naylor to crack the Phillies rotation with all the studs they have traded for and at 25 his time is now. He was rather unimpressive in AA with a 12-10, 4.63 numbers. His fastball hits the low 90s and his secondary pitches (curve and change) are not swing and miss type of pitches so he will need to survive with location.