2009: Top 30 Prospects: #20 - #11

Tuesday, October 06 2009 @ 08:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Gerry

Today we look at the prospects rated at 20 though 11.

20. Eric Thames, OF
Born November 10, 1986. Selected in the 7th round of the 2008 draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2007
20
NCAA
200
9
5
0
16
36
5
2
.320
.381
.415
2008
21
NCAA
182
11
8
13
35
30
11
1
.407
.513
.769
2009
22
RK
21
3
0
0
3
5
0
0
.286
.360
.429
2009
22
A+
195
24
15
5
21
40
1
1
.313
.386
.487

A 2008 draftee who didnít play last year because of injury, Eric Thames got his feet wet in the Gulf Coast League before going straight to Dunedin and turning in a very respectable campaign as a corner outfielder. Thames hit .318 with a .386 on-base percentage and a .487 slugging. Most of his slugging came from gap power, as he hit 15 doubles and 5 triples compared to only three home runs. Despite the number of triples, Thames doesnít have plus speed and was only 1-for-2 in stolen base attempts.

A lack of home run power isnít new to Thames. He led Pepperdine in RBI in 2007 without hitting a single homer. However, he launched a number in 2008 as he improved his draft stock after being offered 5th round money to sign with the Yankees after being a 37th round selection in the past yearís draft. He dropped because of a quad muscle injury that kept him out of action for 3-4 months and there were concerns over how thatíd affect him long-term. He seems to have recovered at least most of his ability and looks like he could have been a very astute draft pick by the Jays.

Thames has a short, compact swing and excellent bat speed, but a very weak arm. He has one of the better bats in the system, but there is a significant question of how he profiles as a major leaguer if he doesnít display more power and is forced to LF or DH because of defensive issues.

19. Sean Ochinko, C
Born October 21, 1987. Selected in the 11th round of the 2009 draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2007
19
NCAA
191
5
0
7
21
50
2
5
.277
.371
.414
2008
20
NCAA
136
6
0
4
3
25
0
1
.272
.308
.404
2009
21
NCAA
234
15
0
9
20
35
2
2
.333
.395
.513
2009
21
A-
186
19
0
6
16
26
1
0
.323
.380
.522

As many Bauxites probably know, Sean Ochinko was the R. Howard Webster award winner at Auburn as the teamís most valuable player. That award capped quite a 2009 for Ochinko, as he won the College World Series, was drafted, won a teamís MVP award and met the President.

Ochinko was drafted out of LSU in the 11th round of the 2009 draft and had a very strong season for the Doubledays. Ochinko hit .324 with 6 homers and 32 RBI. He was the teamís player of the month in August and put up a .324/.382/.527 line over the season to lead the Doubledays in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The right-handed hitter finished second in the NY-Penn League in batting average and, with a .924 mark, was also second in OPS..

In Seanís other major 2009 accomplishment he was a starter for the 2009 College World Series champion LSU Tigers along with fellow Toronto draftee Ryan Schimpf. Ochinko, starting at first base, batted fourth for the Tigers in the final game of the best-of-three series and went 4-for-5 with three singles and a home run and 3 RBI in LSUís 11-4 victory over Texas. He started for the team consistently throughout the tournament and usually hit anywhere from fourth to sixth.

He spent much of the past season at LSU at first base, with fifty-seven games there as opposed to only six at catcher. However, Ochinko, who split time at the two positions during his freshman year, does prefer to catch and played there primarily in high school. The Jays appear to be giving Ochinko the chance to stick as a catcher, as he split time almost evenly between catcher, first and DH for Auburn. He allowed 19 stolen bases on 24 attempts and had five passed balls, but didnít make an error. When he starts next year depends on how aggressive the Jays want to be with him and whether they want him to spend more time behind the plate Ė in which case he might stay at the level below Jimenez Ė but he should reach Dunedin by the end of the year.

18. Darin Mastroianni, OF
Born August 26,1985. Selected in the 16th round of the 2007 amateur draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2007
21
A-
230
11
4
3
36
42
20
10
.287
.391
.409
2008
22
A
325
10
4
3
31
77
30
1
.228
.302
.311
2009
23
A+
231
11
2
0
37
38
32
7
.325
.426
.390
2009
23
AA
247
10
2
1
39
45
38
8
.271
.372
.340

Mastroianni was drafted by the Jays after coming off a banner season with Southern Indiana in Division II where he was named the 2007 Great Lakes Valley Conference's Player of the Year and was also selected to the league's first all-star team at second base.  He made a nice transition to professional baseball later that year with a solid debut in Auburn where he flashed his speed and batting eye while moving to the outfield.  The 5-foot-10, 195 pound right-handed hitter encountered his first struggles at the pro level in Lansing last season when his .253 average in April represented his high water mark. His walk rate dropped nearly 5 percent from the season before and his strike outs went up over 5 percent. However, he didn't lose his ability to steal bases as he was caught just once in 31 attempts. 

Despite having a rough time of it in the state of Michigan, Mastroianni found the Sunshine State to be more to his liking.  He sharpened his batting eye by regaining the 5 percent drop in his walk rate from Lansing, made more contact by cutting his strikeouts by over 6 percent and hit the ball harder as his line drive rate shot up 10 percent.  That helped Mastroianni earn a berth in the Florida State League All-Star Game in June in Fort Myers.  He was called up to New Hampshire after that and he had a rough patch for the latter half of June and all of July when he tried to get his batting average to the .210 mark.  However, his bat came around in August when he hit .314 and followed that up with a .357 September.  Mastroianni's on-base percentage stayed over .400 for the final two months of the season.  His stolen base total with Dunedin and New Hampshire was 70 to give him 100 steals in just 116 attempts over the past two seasons.

Mastroianni has also proven to be good defender as he made no errors in 166 chances this season while picking up 10 outfield assists, including four in one game with the Fisher Cats to set a team record.  He is said to make accurate throws with a quick release and utlitizes his speed well in chasing down fly balls from center field.

The Jays haven't been afraid to challenge Mastroianni in the past and they may do it again by sending him to the Pacific Coast League to start off 2010.  If things go according to Hoyle, he may get to roam the new turf at the Dome next season.

17. Bobby Bell, RHP
Born August 26, 1985. Selected in the 18th round of the 2008 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2008
23
A-
19
0
27.2
4.88
0.00
0.00
12.69
0.98
2008
23
A
2
0
3.0
0.00
0.00
0.00
12.00
0.00
2009
23
A+
42
10
96.1
6.17
0.47
2.05
10.46
2.43

Motivated by his absence from last year's top 30 list, Bobby Bell followed up his eye-popping 2008 campaign with another excellent year, this time at Dunedin. Now, nobody expected him to replicate his 2008 K/BB ratio of infinity, but there is nothing to complain about here in terms of performance. The hit rate, homer rate, walk rate and strikeout rate are all fantastic.

Bell transitioned to the starting rotation midway through the year, and continued to dominate. If he can keep up the pace with a full-time switch to the rotation in 2010, he will ascend the prospect ladder very quickly, but until we see continued success out of the rotation in the high minors, we need to temper our expectations - hence the #17 ranking.

16. Gustavo Pierre, SS
Born December 28, 1991. Signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009
17
Rk
174
10
4
4
3
45
8
5
.259
.272
.431

Gustavo Pierre will celebrate his eighteenth birthday just after Christmas, he played this season as a 17 year old.  Pierre was also recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had in 2008.  It is hard to be judgemental about a 17 year old playing professional baseball for the first time in the US.  Pierre obviously held his own and the only criticism of him is his lack of walks.  In that regard he is living up to the old saying about players from the Dominican "you don't walk off the island".  Pierre is good size for a shortstop, he is listed as 6'2" and 183 lbs, and he might not be finished growing.  Pierre should go back to extended spring training next season, and might get to Auburn for the second half, but projecting eighteen year old players is difficult. 

 

15. Brian Dopirak, 1B
Born  December 20, 1983. Signed as a minor league free agent in 2008. 

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2007
23
A+ 347
17
0
23
23
91
1
1
.277
.325
.490
2007
23
AA
78
1
0
1
3
19
0
0
.218
.247
.269
2008
24
A+
409
25
2
27
47
100
0
0
.308
.382
.577
2008
24 AA 87 6 0 2 2 10 1 1 .287 .297 .425
2009
25
AA
328
29
1
19
35
75
1
3
.308
.374
.576
2009
25 AAA 218 13 1 8 13 44 0 0 .330 .366 .509

The 6-4, 230 pound right-handed slugger from Tampa, Florida is knocking on the door of the major leagues.  Dopirak turned in an outstanding 2009 season that saw him reach AAA Las Vegas and he made a strong case for a promotion to the big club.  However, the only time he spent in Toronto during the month of September was during the club's second last home game of the season when he picked up the R. Howard Webster Award as the club's top player at AA New Hampshire.  The one-time number one prospect of the Chicago Cubs who was derailed by ankle injuries revived his career when he returned to Dunedin in 2008, where he starred at the high school level.  Dopirak enjoyed a comeback season in Dunedin last year when he made the Florida State League All-Star game and earned a promotion to New Hampshire. 

In his second stint with the Fisher Cats this season, Dopirak earned a berth in the Eastern League All-Star Game and he was named the DH for the Eastern League's Post-Season All-Star Team despite the fact he packed his bags for Las Vegas in mid-July.  At the time of his promotion, he led the Eastern League in home runs, RBI (68), doubles, extra-base hits (49) and slugging percentage (.579).  Dopirak still wound up as the Eastern League's top slugger when his adjusted slugging mark was .548 after taking into account the number of hitless at-bats he needed to qualify.  Dopirak s big highlight with New Hampshire came in early May when he had a five hit night and eight RBI; thanks to two homers, two doubles and a triple.  He endured a power drought in July by going 20 games without a homer but he ended that streak emphatically when he belted two homers and drove in seven runs in one game for the 51's.

Though Dopirak struck out about 20 percent of the time in 2009, he drew walks at a near 10 percent clip in New Hampshire which represented about an 8 percent increase from his brief stint with the Fisher Cats in 2008.  However, his walk rate dropped by four percent in Las Vegas.  On the flip side, his isolated power remained above .200 in AA and was over .290 in the months of May and June when he clubbed 7 homers in each month.  His ISOP fell to .179 in AAA but his line drive rate went from 16 percent in AA to 27 percent in Las Vegas.  His BABIP lines were .350 and .386 respectively with New Hampshire and Las Vegas.

Dopirak's bat will have to carry him to the bigs because his defence is said to be limited.  He had a brief stint in the outfield with Dunedin in 2008 but he remained at first base in '09 where he made 13 errors in the field.  Dopirak will likely begin 2010 back in Nevada but if he can duplicate his AA success to AAA the second time around, Dopirak should be able to earn a call-up to Baseball North.

14. Justin Jackson, SS
Born December 11,1988. Selected in the first round (45th overall) in the 2007 amateur draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2007
18
R 166
1
1
2
20
44
7
4
.187
.274
.241
2008
19
A
454
26
6
7
3
19
17
8
.238
.340
.368
2009
20
A+
249
12
1
0
39
87
0
0
.213
.321
.269

The son of former major league infielder Chuck Jackson, the 2009 season was one to forget for the 6-foot-2, 175 pound right-handed hitter as his "Jays shortstop of the future" title is being challenged by Tyler Pastornicky.  An Ashville, North Carolina high schooler who was a teammate of current Marlin Cameron Maybin, Jackson struggled at the plate and in the field in his first taste of the Florida State League before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in July.  Jackson also missed time in May with the wonky shoulder before he was shut down for good.  It was in May when Jackson had his best month when he hit .367/.450/.490 in 60 plate appearances.  Other than that, he hit just over a buck-fifty in April and July and hit just .217 in June, albeit with a .360 on-base percentage.  It's been said Jackson has good bat speed but his swing remains long and loopy.  His power dried up as he put up a goose egg in the home run column, down from the seven he hit with Lansing in 2008.  Jackson did bump up his walk rate nearly two percent from last season to 13 percent but his strike out rate nearly reached 30 percent once again.  When he did reach base, he showed off his base stealing skills by swiping 17 bags in 21 tries. 

Defensively, Jackson has the goods and is projected to be an above average to plus fielder with good range, hands and footwork according to Baseball America but he does tend to be lackadaisical at times.  The latter statement proved to be true as he made 18 errors with Dunedin and committed 26 the year before with Lansing.

Jackson still has time to get things together as he is expected to begin his second straight season in Dunedin.  If all goes well, he's projected to be an above average shorstop who can hit 15 to 20 homers a season if he fills out and develops power.  However, it's expected he'll need about two to three more seasons to develop before reaching the bigs.

 

13. Andrew Liebel, RHP
Born March 22, 1986. Selected in the third round of the 2008 draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2008
22
A-
7
1
14.2
11.66
1.23
1.23
11.66
3.68
2009
23
A+
27
27
156.0
8.94
0.75
2.42
6.81
3.63
2009
23
AA
2
2
13.0
6.92
1.38
1.38
8.31
2.08

Andrew Liebel just finished his first full pro-season and he made it to AA.  His numbers in Dunedin were good and in only two starts in AA he improved most of those numbers.  However Liebel is considered a possible number 4/5 pitcher because he does not have outstanding "stuff" and he relies on his command and mixing his pitches to succeed.  Liebel throws four pitches, none of them outstanding.  Baseball America noted that Liebel drew comparison to Ian Kennedy the Yankees pitcher who has been trying to break into the major leagues for a couple of seasons now.  That is likely Liebel's fate, to take a few years to master his craft so he can pitch in the major leagues.  Liebel will likely pitch in AA next season, at some stage, and could get a taste of the major leagues in 2011.

12. Johermyn Chavez, OF
Born: January 26, 1989. Signed as a non-drafted amateur free agent in 2005.

Year Age Level AB
2B
3B
HR SB CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
2006
17
R
105
9
0
0
1
2
.276
.371
.362
2007
18
R
176
12
2
6
7
2
.301
.389
.494
2008
19
A-
402
20
2
7
9
5
.211
.272
.323
2009
20
A-
508
22
6
21
10
6
.283
.346
.474

Repeating a level is often the kiss of death for a lot of prospects - and it also clouds excitement around any success that they might have. Such is not the case with Chavez, however. Although he repeated low-A Lansing in 2009, the Venezuelan outfielder was just 20 years old, still young for the league. Keeping in mind that the league average line is .256/.329/.373, Chavez hit .283/.346/.474 with 21 homers and 89 RBI.

His .191 ISO was impressive for his age (.200+ is considered slugger potential) and he showed improvements with his plate rates: His walk rate increased from 5.9 to 7.3% in one year, and his strikeout rate dropped from 31.8 to 27.0%. Chavez hit for a better average against southpaws in 2009 but he hit for more power against right-handers. On the downside to his numbers, his line-drive rate was just 10.3%. Chavez was second in the league in homers, fourth in RBI, fifth in runs scored, and 10th in ISO. Defensively, he has shown improvements and with the promotion of Moises Sierra to Dunedin, Chavez slid back to right field in 2009 where he showed off a strong arm.

11. Brad Mills, LHP
Born  March 5, 1985. Selected in the 4th round of the 2007 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2007
22
A-
6
2
18.0
4.50
0.00
3.00
10.50
2.00
2008
23
A
15
15
88.1
7.88
0.33
3.11
10.21
2.55
2008
23
A+
6
6
33.1
6.80
0.54
3.26
9.52
1.05
2008
23
AA
6
6
32.2
6.71
0.56
3.35
8.94
1.10
2009
24
AAA
14
14
84.1
8.88
0.64
3.75
7.71
4.06
2009
24
MLB
2
2
7.2
16.43
4.69
7.04
10.56
14.09

 The Jays had quite a haul of left-handed college pitchers in 2007, with Marc Rzepczynski and Brett Cecil already established in the major league rotation. Brad Mills, though, was actually the first one to get there, after pitching at 3 levels in 2008, and having a fine start to the year in AAA. Unfortunately for Brad, his 2 starts for the Jays didn't go well, and soon after missed some time with injury.


A cursory glance at Mills' minor league numbers screams classic power pitcher - lots of walks and strikeouts with a low hit rate. However, Mills is not, in fact, a power pitcher, so it may be difficult for his skill set to work in the major leagues. He will need to sharpen his command, and work on keeping the ball down if he is to avoid the gopher ball. Mills is obviously a fast learner, as evidenced by his rapid ascent to the major leagues (some of that may be attributable to the fact that he was a 4-year college player). Brad is likely bound for the Las Vegas rotation in 2010, and we'll be keeping close tabs on him, as he could very well be a major contributor to the big club very soon.

Check back tomorrow for prospect numbers 10 through 1.

36 comments



https://www.battersbox.ca/article.php?story=20090925110453771