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This is the first in a series of reviews of the farm affiliates' 2004 seasons. In the series, the focus will be mainly on the teams, as Jordan will be preparing his top 30 prospect summary shortly with details on most of the guys you want to know about.

Pulaski, Virginia is the home of the Blue Jays rookie level affiliate in the Appalachian League. The players consist mostly of 2004 draftees (with a few 2003 and 2002 draftees), and Latin American prospects. That, plus Chi-Hung Cheng, the very young Taiwanese pitching prospect. Pulaski plays in beautiful Calfee Park and drew 755 fans per game (most teams in the Appy league draw between 700 and 1100 fans per game).

Pulaski finished the season 40-27 in second place, 1 and 1/2 games behind division winner Danville. With 435 runs scored in 64 games, the P-Jays led the league in scoring by almost a run per game over Danville. Centerfielder Yuber Rodriguez, and first basemen/DH Nick Thomas and Charlie Anderson, swung the big bats. The team led the league in walks, one walk per game more than any other team, and had the dubious distinction of also leading the league in strikeouts (by 1). The team's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was .333 compared to the league's .315; as a result, the club finished 3rd in the league in batting average at .269 despite a sad 61/615 HR/K ratio. The pitching, led by Cheng, Jordan Timm and Adrian Martin, was fine, as well, posting a league-leading 3.79 ERA. The Jays did make 88 errors in 67 games, leading to 54 unearned runs. Young players will make errors.

Pulaski prospects

Before we begin the players, I should explain a few things about the statistics cited. I have cited player, team and league BABIP data. This data is capable of a number of interpretations. Hitters may have higher or lower BABIPs than expected due to non-average speed, line drive ratio or luck. Pitchers may have higher or lower BABIPs due to line-drive ratio, ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies, defence or luck. We do not have the statistical data for the minor leagues, as we do for the majors, to say any more than this.

Yuber Rodriguez-CF

Yuber Rodriguez, who will turn 21 on November 17, is a fine defensive centerfielder, with a good power/speed mix. He took a solid step forward this year hitting .306/.394/.506, and was an Appy League All-Star. He ranked 4th in league in runs above replacement player, with a league EQA of .313 and a Major League EQA of .190. He struck out 70 times in 285 plate appearances, and homered 8 times. He will have to reduce his K rate or increase his HR rate to be a successful hitter at higher levels. This year, he relied on his extra-base sock and his speed (perhaps with some luck) to produce a .382 BABIP, but this will be very difficult to sustain as he moves up in the system.

Nick Thomas-1B/DH/OF

Nick Thomas will turn 22 on Groundhog Day, 2005. He's hit well in Pulaski for 2 straight seasons, this year going .280/.411/.466 with a pleasant 42/50 W/K ratio in 241 plate appearances. He was ninth in the league in RARP, and also had a league EQA of .313. As a big-bopping 1b/dh, he's going to have bop a little more to succeed. He's in a squeeze, however, with Chip Cannon and Joey Metropoulos from Auburn in line for jobs. He probably will get a shot in Lansing (the Jays new low A affiliate in the Midwest League) in 2005.

Charlie Anderson-1B/DH

Charlie Anderson will turn 23 on February 10, 2005. He hit .311/.429/.523 with a solid 29/39 W/K ratio in 185 plate appearances. He's very much a longshot to make it because of his age and developmental level, but for now, he's earned a shot at a higher level.

David Hicks-1B/DH

Can you say positional glut? David Hicks, who will turn 23 on November 22, 2004, started the season in Auburn. Playing time was difficult to find for him because of Cannon and Metropolous, so he was sent to Pulaski, where he found himself in the same situation with Thomas and Anderson. He hit .306/.409/.433 with a 20/27 W/K ratio in 159 plate trips.

Chi-Hung Cheng-LHP

Chi-Hung Cheng will turn 20 on June 20, 2005. His repertoire features a sharp curve that had Appy League hitters chasing, and a fastball in the mid-high 80s. He led the league with 74 strikeouts in 60 innings. He walked 37 batters, plunked 4 and threw 5 wild pitches, so his control is an early issue. He allowed 4 homers. His first step will be to work on his strength, so that his fastball has a little more zip. Still, with his age and all those strikeouts, he's the most likely to succeed from this class, and his promotion to Auburn for the playoffs is an indication that the organization is pleased with his debut season. Incidentally, he went 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA. His opponents' BABIP was .307.

Adrian Martin-RHP

Adrian Martin turned 20 on September 2, 2004. This swingman walked 12 and struck out 51 in 56 innings, and allowed 2 home runs. He's young and he has succeeded in rookie ball. We'll see how he does at a higher level next year. Martin went 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA, with an opponents' BABIP was .364.

Jordan Timm-LHP

Timm is a 6"6", 230 lb. lefty, who will turn 24 on January 15, 2005. He's got fine off-speed stuff and good control, but not much of a fastball. He led the Appy League in ERA at 2.67, and struck out 53 and walked 12 and gave up 8 longballs in 60.2 innings. His opponents' BABIP was an even .300. Succeeding at age 23 in the Appy League will not push you to the top of the prospect charts, but it would not surprise me if Timm makes it to the Show or close to it as a lefty reliever.

It was a solid year for Pulaski. The team performed well, and a few individual players took their first baby steps towards a possible big-league job.
Minor Leagues Year in Review-Pulaski Blue Jays | 9 comments | Create New Account
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Craig B - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 09:42 AM EDT (#31990) #
A very fine review, Mike. Thanks.
_Mylegacy - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 10:24 AM EDT (#31991) #
Excellent work Mike.

Yuber, Rosario, the Romero's etc. show the importance of young latinos in the organization. Not to mention Chacin and Quiroz.

I hope JP continues to scout agressively in the Caribbean. We can use these good young kids.
_MatO - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#31992) #
Nice work Mike. I would have added Edward Rodriguez to the list. His high ERA may be misleading. His peripherals aren't any worse than Martin's and he gave up no HR's. It might indicate that he was very unlucky. Add to that his age and the fact that it was his first year away from the Dominican I think he might be a prospect.

Nick Thomas actually was more of a DH/OF this year (only 3 games at 1st). I think the OF is the best course for him considering the supply of players at 1B. I think he had some injury issues this year which may have forced him to play DH more.
_R Billie - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#31993) #
I think Rodriguez has the best ceiling of any pitcher in Pulaski. Once he fills out and starts spotting his pitches consistently he has a chance to be a force. I guess minor league spring training will decide where he goes in 2005 but I hope he makes it to Auburn as a long reliever at least.
Mike Green - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 01:31 PM EDT (#31994) #
Thanks MatO and RBillie for your comments. Here is the very short version of events on Edward Rodriguez, who I know relatively little about.

He turned 20 on June 10, and threw 36 innings in Pulaski this year, mostly in relief. He struck out 36, walked 13 and plunked 6, threw 9 wild pitches and allowed no homers. It's a small sample, but it looks like he had control issues, despite the modest walk total.

It's certainly possible that he's a better prospect than any of the Pulaski pitchers, but from the numbers and the description of stuff that I've read elsewhere, I'd have Cheng ahead of him. In addition to Rodriguez, I did not mention Aaron Tressler, who went a fine 30 innings, walking 11 and striking out 41. It's hard to say much about 30 innings of work.
_jim854 - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 03:54 PM EDT (#31995) #
Good work, Mike! I really enjoy reading about the prospects on the farm.

In fact, according to the Sports Weekly, Chi-Hung Chen is the only member of the Pulaski Blue Jays to lead the Appalachian League in any category. I am looking forward to him playing in Lansing (maybe) next year.

Thanks again for a fun read.
Mike Green - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#31996) #
Jim854 and others, thanks. And if you want to see the real deal, check out Jordan's prospect summary.
_R Billie - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#31997) #
Rodriguez has a chance to pitch into the mid-90s with his fastball as he develops and has decent supporting pitches. He has a tall lanky frame and is a skinny guy so he can fill out further.

I think Cheng as well but I think only his curveball is better than Rodriguez. He doesn't have the height or raw arm strength that the latter pitcher has though he has a slight edge in age still. Cheng would probably rate a 3rd or 4th round pick in the North American draft while Rodriguez would probably have gone in the 1st or 2nd rounds.

That doesn't mean Rodriguez is going to be the better pitcher but he is well equiped for success.
_R Billie - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#31998) #
I think Cheng as well

That should read I like Cheng as well. Cheng is a pitcher, not a philosophy.
Minor Leagues Year in Review-Pulaski Blue Jays | 9 comments | Create New Account
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