August Scouting Notes

I haven't done one of these in a while so I'm due.  Just wanted to jot some notes on players who have been called up recently who could have an impact on real and fantasy baseball races.

Scott Kazmir
I still shake my head when I think that the Mets thought they'd be better off long-term with Victor Zambrano than they would with Kazmir.  There are probably half a dozen lefties in the majors that can throw 95+ and the Mets traded one away for a guy with elbow troubles and control problems.  Anyway, after watching his start against Seattle, I still like his long term prospects, but I'm not convinced that kazmir will be an ace right away.  In fact, I see him as a 5-inning pitcher for the immediate future.  Sure, he'll get his share of strikeouts, but he throws lots of pitches because he doesn't locate particularly well yet and he doesn't have the kind of frame that would allow him to handle pitch counts too far above 100.  Another obstacle for this season is his schedule.  His remaining starts are tentatively against Detroit (twice), Oakland, New York, Boston, the suddenly resurgent Blue Jays and Kansas City.  Other than the latter, that won't be easy.  If I had him in a keeper league, I'd trade on his hyped value now for what I needed and then try to re-acquire him sometime next year or in 2006.

Calvin Pickering
Pickering never got an decent chance to prove himself in Baltimore, and then had a struggle with injuries and perception the last two years to get back to where he was.  This year, he posted a monster season in AAA Omaha - .314 with 35 homers - and was given another shot at the bigs when Ken Harvey went down.  I'm a big believer in guys who've been around a while
who finally show dramatic improvements in their AAA numbers (a la Gary Matthews Jr.) so the Pickering we're seeing now could be the real deal.  I don't know how eager the Royals will be to sit Harvey or Mike Sweeney once Harvey returns, but if Pickering keeps hitting the way he is now, they'll have to consider it. 

Ryan Church
It's just the slight facial resemblance, but Church reminds me of Will Clark.  His swing isn't as smooth as Clark's, but it appears he generates more bat speed.  Both guys had a good eye for balls and strikes and neither guy was a threat to steal.  My guess is that Church sticks with the Expos and becomes a solid .300 hitting outfielder with 15-20 home run power.  The Expos should give him a chance to show what he can do for four plate appearances a game from here on out.

Freddie Guzman
Known for his phenomenal speed, Guzman is also a very good outfielder.  That defense should keep him in the line-up down the stretch even if he struggles at the plate, because frankly, he can't struggle any worse than Jay Payton has.  Still, Guzman showed a good eye for balls and strikes and hit for decent average at two levels this season.  And yes, he stole 65 bases this year so far after stealing 90 last year.