Hot Prospects for 2000, Alex
The 1999 regular season is winding down for the minor leagues, so now's as good a' time as any to take a look at the guys who were too young to be called "prospects" when the year began. Next year, these guys will be in everyone's top 50. This week, the pitchers:
This Mike Meyers is not the Brewers' situational lefty. Nor is he the creator of Austin Powers. But opposing batters might just start referring to him as Doctor Evil if he continues to befuddle them at his current pace. The 21-year old right-hander began the season with Daytona, the Cubs high A-ball club in the Florida State League. There, he compiled a tidy little record of 10-3 with an ERA of 1.93. He struck out 122 in 107 innings while allowing only 68 hits and 40 walks. Obviously in need of a greater challenge, the Cubs promoted him to their AA club in West Tennessee. Since the promotion, he is 3-0 with an even better 1.80 ERA! And to prove his record isn't a fluke, he's struck out 33 batters in just 20 innings (3 starts), while allowing just 19 baserunners (13 hits, 6 walks). Although he has 4 pitches, he doesn't have one that's overpowering. But his location and command are apparently very good. Except for his age, it would not be hyperbole to describe him as another Greg Maddux in the making.
For the past three seasons, the Phillies have developed one serious pitching prospect a year. In 1997, it was right-hander Carlton Loewer. Last year, it was lefty Randy Wolf. This year's 19-year old Brad Baisley is probably the best of the three. The 6' 9" right-hander started rather unremarkably last year at Rookie League Martinsville, going 3-2, ERA 3.58 in 27 innings. However, this year, especially of late, he has been dominating. Overall he's just 10-7, with 110 Ks in 147.2 innings. But early season struggles have masked his outstanding performance. Since May 23, he's 7-2, with a 1.73 ERA and in 103.2 innings, has 82 Ks and has allowed only 105 baserunners. Baisley possesses an outstanding curveball and a 92 MPH heater which should gain 3-4 mph velocity as he matures.
The Astros have a fine history of developing hard throwing pitchers. From JR Richard to Billy Wagner, they always seem to have one or two guys who can really bring the heat. Lefty Wilfredo Rodriguez will be the next one. This 20-year old lefty was signed out of Venezuela in 1996. Back then, he topped out at around 84 mph. He's grown up considerably, now reaching 98 mph occasionally. He has a solid curveball, an improving change-up, a deceptive delivery and solid command and composure. He's 14-7 with an ERA of 2.91 at Kissimmee, the Astros high A team in the Florida State League. In 148 innings, he's struck out 141 batters, holding them to a .199 batting average and allowed only 165 baserunners, 61 via the base on balls. Count on him starting next year in AA and getting at least a look in the Astros new stadium by next September.
I'll conclude with a fast starter. Mike Bynum was drafted by the Padres this year in the supplemental first round as a compensation pick for losing Ken Caminiti to free agency. The 21-year old southpaw out of University of North Carolina was the 49th pick overall. The pre-draft scouting reports on him said that "had a good a good feel for pitching and a tireless work ethic". Sounds a lot like a blind date who has a great sense of humor, yes? Reports on Bynum went on to say that he had an above average fastball (89-91 mph), an outstanding slider and occasional bouts with wildness. His 41 walks in 85 innings in his final collegiate season were a testament to that. However, someone forgot to show Bynum his scouting report, as he has been nothing short of awesome so far in the professional leagues. The Pads started him at Rookie League Idaho Falls, where he went 1-0 in 3 starts. While that's not too spectacular, his ERA of 0.00 in 17 innings, while striking out 21 batters and only allowing 11 baserunners, is. They promoted him to high A Rancho Cucamonga to see if that would provide him with more of a challenge. It has, but not that much more than the Rookie League. He's 2-1 in 5 starts with an ERA of 3.08, which would be good for 3rd best in the league if he had the innings to qualify, and is holding batters to batters to a league low .216 batting average. In 26.1 innings, he's allowed only 30 baserunners (only 8 by walks - so much for control problems) and struck out 29. Bynum, like Rodriguez, will probably start next year in AA and a have looksee with the big club next September.
Next week: the hitters