Not all prospects worth following can be found on our top 30 list. Some are rising, and others, once noteworthy, have to work to get it back. We have chosen five of each.
The 6-3, 190 lb third baseman best tool at this point is his bat. One scouting director compared Fuenmayor to a 'thicker version of Chipper Jones' in a Baseball America article while an international scouting director compared Fuenmayor to Kendry Morales. At this point you're not going to see a lot of power but given his size and age you'd expect it to develop. With the glove Fuenmayor reportedly has soft hands, but an erratic arm. Given his tools expect Fuenmayor to climb the top 30 list over the next few years. (P)
Breaking the trend of 2006 draftees/signees on the “Rising” list is Michael MacDonald. Some may ask why Macdonald rates behind David Purcey and Ismael Ramirez, among others, who also pitched at New Hampshire without noticeably better stats. The answer is that MacDonald doesn’t have the high end potential they have, which one can see from his age and strikeout totals. However, MacDonald’s pitched at four levels in three years and has produced solid, if unspectacular, numbers at each stop. This year MacDonald dropped his BB/9 rate by almost a walk, which was a crucial step forward for the 24-year-old.
It’s tough to survive in the majors with a K/9 ratio under 5 and MacDonald’s ratio will likely fall as he faces tougher competition. But, one need only to look in the AL East to see a pitcher who not only survives, but is successful with few strikeouts. Chien-Ming Wang uses his sinker, and sometimes his slider or four-seamer, to induce groundballs, which is how he manages to be so successful with a K/9 ratio of about 3. Wang’s a rarity with his GB/FB ratio of 3, but he proves it is possible to succeed with miniscule strikeout totals. MacDonald’s a groundball pitcher with a 2.26 GB/FB ratio, so that is a good sign. The difference between MacDonald becoming a major leaguer as opposed to someone who bounces around in the high minors for several years is whether he can further refine his sinking pitches or improve his strikeout totals (or at least keep them steady) upon his promotion to Triple-A. (T)
Brandon Magee was picked by the Jays in the fourth round of this years draft. Magee reported to Auburn after the draft and made eleven starts and also started game one of the playoffs. Magee held batters to a .254 average with 51 hits allowed in 52.1 innings. Magee allowed only one home run. Magee is tall and thin and features a mid-90's fastball, a slider and a change. Magee has the tools to be a major league pitcher, his first full season in 2007 will be interesting to follow. (G)
Left handers have been especially tough for Pettway. His OPS against LHPs this year was an ugly .553, while his OPS against RHPs was .824, helped in part by his Reed Johnson-like ability to take one for the team - 13 HBP in 2006. (P)
At the end of last year Ryan Houston was put onto the 40-man roster ahead of names like Jamie Vermilyea, Davis Romero and Robinzon Diaz. This was probably partially due to his strong year in New Hampshire and partially due to the fact that the front office likely felt Houston would be more likely to be selected than some of the other names, as he could make the jump to the big leagues more easily than others. This proved to be an accurate assessment as Vermilyea was selected, but was returned to Toronto when Boston felt he couldn't stick in their bullpen.
Houston, 26, spent all but 5 of his innings in Syracuse this year. The team likely hoped he could refine his breaking stuff and make strides towards becoming a valuable right-handed middle reliever. In a mid-season interview pitching coach Rick Langford said, "We are working on getting him over the top to get a good tilt on his fastball, more of a downward plane. He needs a more consistent breaking ball, sometimes it stays up, again it's just a matter of consistency." Houston 's fastball has been clocked at 95-mph and a sharp, reliable breaking ball would make him a candidate to become an MLB set-up man.
However, Houston didn't make the stride forward this year. He had a more difficult time at Triple-A, allowing just over a hit an inning and although he struck out 59 in his 55 frames, he also allowed 32 walks. Another troubling stat is that he allowed 10 unearned runs, giving him an Runs Against Average of 5.24. With 40-man roster space always at a premium in the offseason, I would be very surprised if he isn't removed before the Rule-V draft. Houston has a fairly good chance of making the big leagues at some point in his career, but it might well be with another organization. (T)
Sergio Santos came to the Jays in the Glaus/Hudson/Batista trade. Santos had been a minor league star in the Diamondbacks system until he hit AAA in the Pacific Coast League as a 22 year old in 2005. The Jays put him back in AAA, this time in the International League, in 2006 but the results were no better, even allowing for the less favourable hitting environment in the IL. Santos' batting average declined 25 points, his OBP went down by 34 points and his slugging was down by 68 points. In addition Santos struck out 96 times in 481 at-bats. Santos is prey to the slider away. Finally Santos made 27 errors at Syracuse and could move off shortstop to third base next season with Manny Mayorson probably moving up to AAA. (G)
The Depth Chart below shows the probable destinations for the top 30 prospects at the beginning of next season.
|Pos||AAA-Syracuse||AA-New Hampshire||High A-Dunedin||Low A-Lansing|
|SP||Josh Banks||Eric Fowler||Chi-Hung Cheng||Kyle Ginley|
|SP||Ty Taubenheim||David Purcey||Billy Carnline||Shane Benson|
|SP||Ismael Ramirez||Kyle Yates|
|RP||Jamie Vermilyea||Paul Phillips|
|RP||Davis Romero||Po-Hsuan Keng|
|C||Curtis Thigpen||Robinzon Diaz|
|1B||Chip Cannon||Joey Metropoulos|
|2B||Ryan Roberts||Anthony Hatch|
|RF||Dustin Majewski||Travis Snider|
Notes: Francisco Rosario is out of option years.
Yohermyn Chavez will start the year in Auburn.