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Pebble Report: A grab bag of prospect stuff

I've got a lot on my mind as far as stuff to write about, so some of this stuff might make its way into posts with more detail later down the road, but I just wanted to put out some bullet points:

- Matt Eddy makes a survey of sources of talent for each team's top thirty prospects list, and the breakdown helps demonstrate what I was trying to explain on Saturday about how the Rockies are doing a good job of drawing talent from several sources. This list is still somewhat meaningless and would be better if Eddy weighted or ranked each team's groups, for instance the Yankees college talent is vastly superior to the Astros despite being outnumbered in their top thirty 14 to 12.

Here's a Rockies specific example. Both the Rockies and Giants have twelve college players and six high schoolers. I haven't received my prospect handbook yet, so I'm going to have to guess who those prospects are based on others' evaluations (mostly Sickels) but here's my best reckoning:

Giants high schoolers:

*Tim Alderson
*Madison Bumgarner
*Nick Noonan
*Wendell Fairley
Clayton Tanner
Charlie Culberson

Rockies high schoolers:

*Ian Stewart
*Dexter Fowler
*Chris Nelson
*Chaz Roe
Jayson Nix
Eric Young Jr.

Note that the most developed Giants prospect out of their group (Culbertson) was in the South Atlantic League last season, still four levels from MLB play, while the least developed Rockies prospects (Nelson, Roe and Young) were all a level above that. Three of the Giants four best high schoolers (all came from the July draft) have a grand total of five professional innings under their belt. Given the attrition rate as prospects climb ranks, two or three seasons down the road and the Rockies still could be in better shape.

Giants college players

John Bowker
Emmanuel Burriss
Nick Pereira
Ben Copeland
Adam Cowart

Honestly, I'm probably going to pull my hair out trying to figure out the other seven, but needless to say, they aren't that great.

Rockies college players:

Greg Reynolds
Casey Weathers
Brandon Hynick
Seth Smith
Joe Koshansky
Brian Rike
Michael McKenry
Corey Wimberly
Keith Weiser
Will Harris
Cory Riordan
Lars Davis
Connor Graham
Bruce Billings
Daniel Carte

I figure it's twelve of that group, the first seven are a given. It's hard for me to explain just how vast this gulf is between the two systems, but let me try. The Giants best four year collegiate prospect, Bowker (#9 at BA), would be roughly equivalent to Koshansky who ranks somewhere in the teens on our list. Burriss and Wimberly are speedsters nearly equal in value considering that Burriss is a much better defender, but Wimberly' contact skills are closer to big league worthy at the plate. Burriss ranked as the Giants tenth best prospect at BA, Wimberly's in the 20's in our system. After that, Pereira's similar to Alan Johnson, who doesn't even make our top thirty. The other nine collegians from the Giants wouldn't even crack our top fifty.

A good hint, btw, of which systems are strongest would be to look at those with zeros in the Rule 5 and minor league FA columns. It's a signal that the systems are already stocked and don't need to go looking over others' scraps to fill their top ranks, but I'm going to mention a couple of guys in a minute in our system that probably rank in our top fifty.

It will be interesting to watch how the Braves, Brewers and Angels adapt their prospect acquisition strategies following the demise of the draft and follow with the last collective bargaining agreement. All three teams, and to some extent the Padres as well, made adept use of the rule.

- Okay, I went overboard on that, but you should expect that by now. Next, I wanted to point out a few sleeper prospects that didn't get any attention at all in our PuRPs voting that maybe you should be aware of. This list will encompass only players not mentioned on any ballot with our recent voting but I'll also try to avoid guys we talk about at least some of the time like David Christensen or Daniel Carte:

Chris Frey, 24 years old, CF, Tulsa - One thing I should make clear. Sleepers that we don't mention but are this high in the system are almost certain to not have ceilings greater than bench players at the MLB level, so you should look for skills that are usually needed in bench roles. Left handed outfielders that can cover a lot of ground and play solid defense at all three positions qualify. Frey's contact rate improved this season and while he has no power to speak of, he does hit enough doubles to keep defenses back and well enough against RHP's that it seems that somebody should have use of him. Given our lack of defense otherwise, if Willy Taveras and/or Cory Sullivan get severely injured, Frey could be in a Rockies uniform this year.

David Patton/Jon George, 23 year old RHP's, Modesto - The Rockies have no shortage of right handed relief prospects, and these two might be easy to overlook, but they remain really interesting to me. Patton suffered from an unusually high BABIP at his home park (after an unusually low one in Asheville in 2006) in a league where you'd expect him to have worse numbers on the road. He's got very nice K/9 and GB rates throughout his minor league career but remains mercurial. He flopped in Hawaii this fall, for instance. I can't put him out of my mind as somebody worth keeping tabs on, though. I originally thought we got George just because his father was with the organization, but it turns out the kid can pitch and it wasn't just nepotism. He's got some seriously nice GB rates, and while he lacks a real out pitch, he hasn't allowed much damage since embracing the philosophical differences our organization has from those of the Reds. I'd probably rank George the number two minor league free agent in the system after Edwin Bellorin.

Lars Davis, 21 years old, C, Tri-City - Lars is easily the most overlooked Rockies prospect here at Purple Row. Not one of us had him on our ballot, yet I know he's in BA's top 30 and he has as much potential to be something as anybody we drafted and signed in 2007 outside of Casey Weathers. A dud of a showing in Tri-City fueled our hesitancy, but we would have been wise to remember that he also had a season with the Illini and taking into account both leaves a pretty favorable impression for this offensive oriented catcher.

Juan Nicasio - 20 years old, RHP, Casper - Nicasio had a 64% groundball percentage and the second best WHIP among Casper starters to Jhoulys Chacin. He doesn't walk a lot of people and doesn't give up a lot of homeruns. Because of the high GB rate, he was affected greatly by Casper's shaky defense and Pioneer League groundskeeping in 2007, making his raw RA look worse in projections than it should be. This is one case where it could be wisest to look at the ERA as a better measure, but for a groundball pitcher he needs to cover his own position better. I hope he takes lessons from Chacin, who's an excellent fielder for a pitcher.

Angelys Nina - 18 years old, 2B, DSL - Nina and Ricardo Ferrer will lead next season's contingent from the Caribbean to Casper, a couple of pollsters here at Purple Row mentioned Ferrer, but this talented second baseman wasn't on anybody's lists. Considering how harsh the Rockies' Dominican facility normally is on young hitters, maybe it would be wise to take notice. Nina's numbers were comparable to those put up by Hector Gomez a couple of years ago. Gomez was a year younger when he did it and is only eight months older than Nina now, but Nina also outperformed Jonathan Herrera and Everth Cabrera's best seasons there at more comparable ages.