Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Atlanta Cheese Grits Top 10 Prospects

The Cheese Grits are in Year 2 of their rebuilding phase. During that time, the GM has spent a lot of effort attempting to assemble a core of players that will be ready to compete by Season 10-11. Let's take a look at the fruits of that effort:

1. Jamie Yoshii, ss : Jamie was signed as an 18 y.o. International F.A. out of Okinawa, Japan. Jamie is a defensive wiz with amazing range and a cannon for an arm. He won the AA AL Gold Glove Award in Season 7 and has been named to 2 Minor League All Star teams and won a Silver Slugger Award. Jamie's bat projects to be above average at the big league level, but with only average power. Jamie has great baserunning instincts as well. With the trade of Placido Camacho, he has inherited the Big League SS job in Season 8, making the jump from AA.

2. Felipe Espinosa, SP: Felipe was just acquired in the Season 8 offseason for the aforementioned Camacho from the Cleveland MooseDawgs. Felipe is just 21 y.o. and brings a wicked sinker/slider combo that results in a lot of strikeouts. Felipe has posted back to back 200+K seasons in the minors, which is rare in my experience. An IFA, Felipe has been named to 2 minor league All Star Teams and even won the Gold Glove in Season 7 at AA. Felipe projects as a #2 starter. Felipe is already at the AAA level and should crack Atlanta's rotation in Season 9.

3.Sherman Roosevelt, 2b: Sherman has played 2b in the minors, but projects as a RF at the Big League level. Sherman has a whip of a bat, capable of hitting for power and average. He was acquired in a trade with the Helena Hashies before Season 7 in a deal for 2 veteran relievers. Sherman will start Season 8 at the AA level after posting a .991 OPS at High A ball. He projects to start for Atlanta in RF in Season 10.

4. John Carter, SP: John Carter is a solid SP prospect who was acquired in a trade for SP Carlos James. Carter has an excellent fastball and complimentary curveball. He has a 37-11 career minor league record and was named the High A Cy Young Award winner for the AL in Season 7 after going 19-3 with a 2.76 ERA. He is durable and has solid L/R splits. He projects as a #3-#4 starter for Atlanta in season 10.

5. Tim Morton, 1b: Morton is your prototypical power hitting 1b. He is 21 y.o. and will spend Season 8 in AA after posting a 1.065 OPS in 3 minor league seasons. Morton was drafted by the Cheese Grits with the 24th overall pick in the Season 5 draft. He won't hit for as much average against RHP, but he crushes LHP and projects to a 75 power rating. He should start at 1b in Season 10 for the Grits after Willie Reagan's contract expires.

6. Frank Cunningham, SP: Frank is a big, strapping 6' 2" RHP who spent last year in rookie ball after being drafted #15 overall out of Macomb Christian HS in MI. Frank is a very strong and durable pitcher who should eat up a lot of innings. He projects to have pinpoint control and a good fastball. His projected splits are only slightly above average so he may project as a rotation innings eater, but not a #1 type starter. Given a good defense behind him, though, he could be quite successful. He projects to hit the bigs in Season 12-13.

7. Kevin Martin, LHRP: Kevin Martin is a bullpen horse who projects as a fine setup man in the Majors. Kevin has topped 100 IP from the bullpen in each of the last 2 seasons. Marin was signed by the Washington Generals as an IFA before being dealt to Atlanta in the Carlos James deal. He is durable with good stamina for a RP, and is a dominating GB pitcher. We should see Kevin in the Atlanta bullpen in either Season 8 or 9. He will start Season 8 in AAA.

8. Dusty Nation, LF: Dusty Nation has one of the best names in Hunter World. He was drafted as a 2B in the Supplemental 1st Round by Atlanta in Season 5. It was quickly determined that Dusty's future was in LF, where he is an above average defender. Nation has great power potential and has hit 29, 37 and 33 HR's the past 3 seasons. He is durable and has a solid eye at the plate. Nation will start Season 8 at AAA with an eye towards a late season callup and the full time LF job in Season 9.

9. David Molina, SP: David Molina was an IFA signed by Cleveland in Season 4 and subesequently dealt to Atlanta in Season 5 in a trade for Cesar Montanez. David has made two All Star Teams and the AL High A Cy Young Award in Season 6. He is 63-16 in 4 minor league seasons with an ERA of 3.49. He is highly durable but is limited to just 3 pitches. Molina projects to a #4-#5 starter for Atlanta. He's projected to hit the big league club in Season 9 after spending Season 8 at AAA.

10. Sam Rodgers, 2b: Sam was taken by Atlanta with the 27th overall pick in Season 6 out of Westover HS in NC. He's still just 20 y.o. and will spend Season 8 at High A. He projects as a durable, solid defender with decent pop, a good eye and above average splits. He should be a solid Major league starter for Atlanta by Season 11.

Honorable Mention:
Jerome Burke, C
Lon Howard, CF
Jerome Moore, LHRP
Amp Gibson, 2B
Cookie Guzman, SP
Manny Garciaparra, SP
Hector Leon, SP
Sean LaRue, RF
Ed Carr, 3B
Victor Benitez, C

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