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Bernie On The Scene: NL Youngsters to Watch

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

Last week, I wrote the first of two articles on prospect players that had an opportunity to get some time with their parent big league club this season.

This week I'm taking a look at National League players. The list is not all-inclusive.

I want to concentrate my comments on their fantasy value as opposed to the value they may have to their organization.

ADRIAN CARDENAS - IF - CHICAGO CUBS - 6-0, 200#

Cardenas is a former first-round pick of the Phillies in the 2006 first-year player draft. He was traded to Oakland in 2008 in a multiple player trade that yielded Joe Blanton. He was released by the Athletics and signed by the Cubs this past offseason.

Cardenas played for a prominent baseball high school in Florida. He has a career minor league average of .302 over parts of seven seasons and covering 3,084 plate appearances. That's a large sample. It's also an appropriate number of appearances prior to being called to the big leagues.

With Chicago this September, Cardenas is hitting a very empty .183 in 62 plate appearances. He has walked five times and struck out 11 times. Cardenas has no home runs, two RBI and six doubles. This year was his first exposure to major league pitching.

I saw Cardenas this week in Arizona. He's only 24 years old, so he still has time to mature physically and as a hitter.

I did not see any one particular tool. I think eventually he will be able to catch up with breaking balls, but he is totally overmatched at the plate by high quality pitching.

Even though the Cubs are woefully weak offensively, I see no fantasy value in Cardenas for next season.

JOSH VITTERS - 3B - CHICAGO CUBS - 6-2, 200#

Yikes, it seems I have been writing about Vitters for years on this site. Come to think of it, I have. Believe it or not, he is still only 23 years old.

Vitters was to be the heir apparent when Aramis Ramirez left in free agency. It didn't happen. Instead, the Cubs turned to that hitting machine named Ian Stewart to take over their third base position. How did that work out? Before getting hurt (as usual) Stewart hit a robust 201 in 202 plate appearances.

Back to Vitters. I still like him. He hit .304 this season at Triple-A Iowa, which is not California even though it's the Pacific Coast League. He also had 17 homers, 32 doubles and six triples with six stolen bases.

When I saw him this week he looked very comfortable and confident at third base. That's something I didn't see in spring training.

The Cubs will likely try to find a way not to play him, but I'm betting they will concede and realize he can hit. So far, he's hitting a very empty .113 in 105 plate appearances with the parent club.

You may want to avoid him next season until you see that he can hit breaking balls. He has struck out 33 times in limited duty. I'll watch him in spring training. I think he will be a late bloomer, but maybe not for next year.

BRETT JACKSON - OF CHICAGO CUBS - 6-2, 210#

Jackson is similar in career path to Vitters. Jackson is only 24 but he's been around a while. He was the Cubs' first-round pick in 2009.

Unlike Vitters, Jackson did not have a good minor league season. He, too, played at Triple-A Iowa where he hit regressed by 41 points from his 2011 Triple-A average of .297. He hit 15 homers, 22 doubles and a surprising 12 triples in 467 plate appearances.

At Chicago, he hit only .174 after his callup. He had four home runs, but he did walk 20 times in his 135 plate appearances.

The Cubs have lots of outfielders, but none better than Alfonso Soriano. He has more time on his contract. Watch Jackson carefully in spring training. It is time for him to be in the mix. I don't think he is ready for a full-time role, and that will impact his numbers if he makes the club out of spring training.

DAVE SAPPELT - OF - CHICAGO CUBS - 5-9, 195#

Sappelt came to the Cubs in the Sean Marshall trade. Of the young Cubs outfielders, Sappelt is the one I probably like best. He's a bit older than Jackson at 25.

While at Triple-A Iowa, Sappelt hit .266/7/54 in 550 plate appearances. He walked 36 times and only struck out 73 times. He does make contact, can run, having stolen 15 bases. He had 26 doubles and seven triples. Sappelt also plays good defense.

Somehow, I get the feeling the club is going to give Sappelt a chance. If they do, he may give you a nice late-round outfield selection. Especially in keeper leagues.

STEVE CLEVENGER - C - CHICAGO CUBS - 6-0, 195#

This is a guy the Cubs kept around as a back up catcher and rarely let him play. I like him much more than the Cubs like him. In fact, I know plenty of scouts that would like to have Clevenger on their own club.

This season, he hit .202 in 214 plate appearances covering 68 games. He had only one homer and 16 RBI. He has a better bat than those statistics show. His career minor league average is .309 covering parts of seven seasons. Clevenger doesn't have much power, but he will hit for average and make good contact. In 2,050 minor league plate appearances; Clevenger struck out only 203 times. He doesn't walk much either.

The Cubs can give him a gift and trade him or let him go somewhere he can get some at-bats. He will be competing with Welington Castillo and Anthony Recker. I like Clevenger better than both.

ADAM EATON - OF - ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS - 5-8, 185#

Eaton has made a tremendous impression on the D-Backs' brass. So much so that Chris Young is feeling the footsteps.

Eaton has speed to burn. He knows how to bunt. When he learns how to take a base on balls he'll be more dangerous.

He has the ability to put the bat on the ball and drive the gaps with surprising pop. Defensively, however, he isn't Young. But he's more than adequate.

Look for Eaton to take a prominent role next season. I think he makes a good low-end outfield option. If your league values extra-base hits, he can help. He has two triples and three triples since coming to the D-Backs. He's hitting .259/2/5 with two stolen bases and three caught stealing. I like his future in fantasy.

A.J. POLLOCK - OF - ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS - 6-1, 195#

Pollock is less a sure thing for next season than Eaton. The club still has the aforementioned Chris Young, Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel, Justin Upton and the unknown Tyler Graham as outfielders. Too many.

However, Young and/or one of the others may be traded. Because of his value, I would trade Kubel for a shortstop, if possible.

Be careful with the 24-year-old Pollock. He hit .318/3/3 for Triple-A Reno this season. For the D-Backs, however, he is at .244/1/7.

Proceed with caution, but the club likes Pollock. He has a lot to offer. You should monitor him during spring training. I'll help you with that.

RYAN WHEELER - 3B - ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS - 6-3, 235#

Wheeler is currently in a third-base platoon with Chris Johnson. That situation may remain next season. The D-Backs like both players, but Kirk Gibson deploys a platoon in some positions. Wheeler is the left-handed bat.

Wheeler is capable of hitting the gaps, but I'm not sure he squares up enough pitches to be a real home-run threat.

He is hitting a soft .231/1/10 and it may not be enough to keep him on the big league roster next season. The D-Backs know they need a bigger bat at third base and Kevin Towers may go find someone else to play along with Johnson. It wouldn't surprise.

I wouldn't jump to take Wheeler off the draft board until he shows he's a legitimate major league player. He's only 24-years old.

TYLER CORBIN LHP, TYLER SKAGGS LHP, WADE MILEY LHP, TREVOR BAUER RHP

I have written extensively about each of these D-Backs pitchers. I just want to review my thoughts here.

Corbin has good stuff and he knows how to pitch. He has to grasp the command of his pitches on a more consistent basis. He has ability, but he's still learning the ropes. He fades after five innings and it's something he has to work on.

Skaggs may be the least developed at this point in my opinion. I'm very concerned about his inability to throw strikes consistently. He falls behind in counts and comes in with pitches that get too much of the plate. He'll be very good, but I think he still needs lots of work.

Miley is the best of the bunch in my opinion. Put simply, he is a pitcher. He throws strikes. He mixes up his pitches and uses a very solid repertoire. He's polished and mature on the mound. Miley is the guy I would target in my fantasy draft. The best is yet to come. I don't think he'll regress.

Bauer made a terrible impression in the clubhouse in his first stop at the big league level. He acted like he was a seasoned veteran with all the answers. Truth be told, his command was lousy. He couldn't find the plate most of the time. When he's good, he's very good. When he's bad, he's very bad. Walks will kill your WHIP. He will, however, give you strikeouts. I'm not sure he breaks camp with the club. Where does he fit when Dan Hudson returns?

DIDI GREGORIUS - SS - CINCINNATI REDS - 6-1, 185#

Gregorius spent his season at Triple-A Louisville. I saw him play in spring training. Let me tell you, this is a guy to watch.

He only hit .243 this past season with 10 doubles, three triples and six home runs. He's only 22 years old, and he has no chance to stick this coming season. But he can play.

Gregorius and Zack Cozart form the Reds' future shortstop depth. The team would rather have speedy Billy Hamilton playing in the outfield -either center or left.

In eight big league games covering 21 plate appearances for Cincinnati this September, Gregorius is hitting .300. I like his future. Keep an eye on his progress.

Note: I am often asked about the aforementioned Billy Hamilton. The Reds are moving him to the outfield beginning in the Arizona Fall League. I see him refining his skills next season in the Minor Leagues. A late 2013 call to the big club is possible.

DENIS PHIPPS - OF - CINCINNATI REDS - 6-3, 210#

Phipps is a big, strong, right-handed hitter that is an offense first player.

He completed his seventh season as a minor league player in the Reds' system. He hit only .221 at Triple-A Louisville.

Other than Hamilton, I think the Reds player I am personally highest on is right-handed pitcher Daniel Corcino. He is still in development with the club. Track him very, very carefully. I think he has a huge future with the club.

MATT MCBRIDE - 1B - COLORADO ROCKIES - 6-2, 215#

This was clearly another Indians blunder. McBride was included in the package to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez. Even though the weakest position in the Indians' organization is first base.

Other than Pomeranz, McBride is the guy I personally hated to lose in that deal.

McBride has to learn to hit top quality pitching. He has a powerful bat and an ability to drive the ball. He had the following season at Triple-A Colorado Springs: .344/10/87 in 467 plate appearances.

He has had 81 big league plate appearances with the Rockies. Here is his line now: .205/2/11.

If the Rockies feel they can abandon using Todd Helton as their regular first baseman next season, McBride has a chance to stick. He's another player to watch.

CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH - LHP - COLORADO ROCKIES - 6-4, 215#

If I wasn't convinced pitching in Coors Field is a nightmare before, I am now. I have watched Friedrich, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White all scuffle. Big time.

The only hope for pitching in Coors is throwing sinkers every pitch. The ball not only flies out of the park because of the altitude, it flies in a wind tunnel created in right-center field.

Above High-A ball, Friedrich was fairly mediocre. He had a couple years with ERA's at 5.00 and above at Double-A. At Triple-A this year, he managed to bring the ERA down to 3.00 in 30 innings of pitching.

I don't trust his stuff and I don't trust his home park. He'll be in the mix for a starting role in Colorado next season. I'll pass, thank you.

Drew Pomeranz - LHP - COLORADO ROCKIES - 6-5, 240#

I don't think anyone in America was more bullish on Pomeranz than me.

Then he was traded to Colorado. All bets are off. I'm not sure he can ever be a consistent winner in Coors. He throws too many fastballs up in the zone. He also pitches on a team that will once again impose severe pitch/inning limitations on starters next season. They won't be as severe as this season, but they'll exist. Why should that concern us? Because pitchers won't ever learn how to get out of trouble - a very important aspect of pitching. They won't have enough pitches to right their own ship.

Here are Pomeranz's numbers this season:

Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs - 50.2 IP, 2.31 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 50:21 K:BB and two home runs allowed.

In Colorado, 96.2 IP, 4.93 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, 83:46 K:BB and 14 home runs. (13 vs. RHB and eight on the road.)

Alex White - RHP - COLORADO ROCKIES - 6-3, 215#

Please allow me to establish something right off the bat, so to speak.

I am not, have never been and never will be an Alex White fan.

I didn't fancy him in college, with Cleveland and especially not with Colorado.

He's a breaking ball pitcher with a tendency to hang too many breaking balls. He can have a good game and then two bad ones.

Here are his numbers this season:

Triple-A Colorado Springs: 60.2 innings pitched, 3.71 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 45:23 K:BB, three home runs given up.

Colorado: 98 innings pitched, 5.51 ERA, 1.684 WHIP, 64:51 K:BB with 13 home runs given up. (nine vs. right-handed hitters and 10 at home.)

TYLER CHATWOOD - RHP - COLORADO ROCKIES - 6-0, 185#

Chatwood came over from the Angels and felt the impact of Coors. His ERA between his starts for the Angels and for the Rockies went from a bad 4.75 over 142 innings pitched to a putrid 5.43 in 64.2 innings pitched. His WHIP went from 1.669 to 1.655. His hits and walks were virtually the same for both clubs. He gave up 14 homers for Los Angeles and nine in Colorado. He went from 0.9 HR/9IP to 1.3. That isn't so significant.

The numbers suggest he was the same pitcher in both parks. Almost identical walks, strikeouts, WHIP and home run ratios. But he's giving up more than a half a run more with Colorado. Why? The outfield is so huge that a single in Anaheim might very well be a double in Coors. A few of those along the way and the ERA will inflate-not the WHIP.

Bottom line: humidor or no humidor-a pitcher has less chance of success pitching half his games in Coors than anywhere else in the National League. No Rockies pitchers for me.

Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco both had considerable playing time last season and are not listed here due to that fact. Both are fine hitters and I wouldn't hesitate to draft either.

TYLER PASTORNICKY - SS - ATLANTA BRAVES - 5-11, 190#

I was looking forward to having Pastornicky on one or two of my teams this season. He had a rough, rough start and then he got hurt.

He only had 188 plate appearances and he hit .243/2/13. He stole 2 bases in 2 attempts.

Andrelton Simmons will challenge him again for the SS job in Atlanta.

Andrelton Simmons - SS - ATLANTA BRAVES - 6-2, 170#

I think the Braves' brass might be split on which of the two shortstops gets the job coming out of spring training.

Simmons had 178 plate appearances this season and hit .290/3/19 while converting his only stolen-base attempt. From the statistics, it appears Simmons has the better bat. However, he may also have the better glove. That will be a telling factor.

Of the two, I favor Simmons to get the job next year and keep it. But beware - Paul Janish looms as well and there may be others.

MARWIN GONZALEZ - 2B/3B/SS - HOUSTON ASTROS - 6-1, 195#

Gonzalez saw most of his playing time at shortstop for Houston, although he also played third base and second base at times.

As a shortstop, he isn't a bad hitter. He has a little bit of gap/doubles pop. He hit .234 in his major league debut with 13 doubles in 219 plate appearances.

With Houston moving to the American League West, we should remember they'll have one additional bat in the lineup every game. That may make some Houston hitters more valuable.

Gonzalez came over from the Cubs, where he hit well in their minor league system. He won't offer much for your club, but he could be a very, very late-round bench option.

BRANDON BARNES - OF - HOUSTON ASTROS - 6-2, 205#

Barnes has some promise. He had an outstanding season for Houston at two levels. He hit a combined line of .321/12/69 with 21 stolen bases in 27 attempts at Double-A and Triple-A before being called up.

For Houston, Barnes hit only .213/1/7 with one stolen base in two attempts covering 101 plate appearances.

Watch his progress in spring training as the Astros prepare to move to the AL West. He could be a factor in their thinking for a bench role.

DALLAS KEUCHEL - LHP - HOUSTON ASTROS - 6-3, 210#

Keuchel is a finesse pitcher with low upside. I don't think he will prosper against big bats like the Angels, Rangers, A's and Mariners will bring to the plate. As a major league pitcher, he threw 85.1 innings and had an ERA of 5.27. His WHIP of 1.547 won't help you either.

Stay away unless you are in an NL-only league when breathing is a primary characteristic of the last guy on your bench.

DARIN RUF - OF/1B - PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - 6-3, 220#

I am often asked if Ruf is for real? Why not? This is a guy that hit 38 home runs at Double-A Reading this season. Last year at High-A Clearwater he hit only 17. During his Reading season he also struck out 102 times.

In 11 games for the Phillies he has hit .355/3/9.

We know that he is primarily a first baseman by training. However, he has played some games in the outfield both at the big league and minor league levels.

Here's the important part for me. The Phillies need an outfielder. Badly. Ruf isn't going to play first base for Philadelphia next season. We know that, but he sure can be penciled in to compete for an outfield job.

This is a guy I'm watching very closely. I think he can make a good transition.

TYLER CLOYD - RHP - PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - 6-3, 190#

Cloyd has made a good impression on the club. They need a fifth starter to step up - especially another righty to balance the left-handed starters.

Cloyd started six games and threw 33 major league innings. He had an ERA of 4.91 with a WHIP of 1.212. Those aren't spectacular numbers. However, he struck out 30 while walking only seven. The problem? He gave up eight home runs in those six games he started. That's an issue. Especially pitching in the Phillies' bandbox ballpark.

BROCK HOLT - SS - PITTSBURGH PIRATES - 5-10, 170#

I like this guy. Here is what he did this past season at Triple-A Indianapolis: .432/1/7 in 106 plate appearances. At Double-A Altoona he hit .322 in 432 plate appearances. Those are very telling numbers. His career minor league batting average is .317 over 1,620-plate appearances.

So how did he do on the bigger stage? At Pittsburgh he hit .297/0/3.

We're getting a picture here of a batting average guy. I like that. I always need one of those, especially at shortstop. Here's the problem: this past season he made 25 errors in 455 chances. He made four in 64 chances in Pittsburgh. That's a real concern.

Spring training will be tryout camp for shortstops in Bradenton. I'm not all in yet on Holt, but he can hit for average.

Starling Marte - OF - PITTSBURGH PIRATES - 6-0, 180#

It's a question of how the Pirates will blow this - not if they will blow it.

Marte is a prime prospect. Is he ready for major league baseball? By my plate appearance standards, he is. He's had 1,994 looks at pitchers in the minor leagues. He's played over parts of six seasons at every classification. He hit .286 this year at Triple-A Indianapolis and .282 at Double-A Altoona. He hit 12 homers, 12 doubles, 13 triples and stole 21 bases.

I think he will be the Pirates' left or center fielder next season. Don't be surprised if the team moves McCutchen to left. That's how good Marte is on defense.

I will draft Starling Marte if I have the chance.

MATT CARPENTER - 1B - ST. LOUIS CARDINALS - 6-3, 200#

Carpenter got a look last season, but he's still considered a rookie. The Cardinals have played him in 113 games this season. In his 336 plate appearances, Carpenter hit .295/6/45. A very solid season.

He's a prototypical left-handed hitting first baseman.

Allen Craig and Lance Berkman still loom as potential players to take time away from Carpenter next season.

SHELBY MILLER - RHP - ST. LOUiS CARDINALS - 6-3, 195#

Although he has always projected as a starter, Miller worked out of the bullpen for the Cards this season. He threw 7.2 innings, giving up eight hits and two walks. He struck out nine and walked only two.

But Miller's future should be in the rotation. He started 27 games at Triple-A Memphis in the Pacific Coast League. His ERA was a high 4.74 and his WHIP was an equally high 1.376. He walked more than 3.0 BB/9IP and 10.0 K/9IP.

But I'm really concerned about Miller. He may have regressed. We'll have to see how the 21-year-old performs in Jupiter this spring.

ANDY PARRINO - SS - SAN DIEGO PADRES - 6-0, 180#

Parrino saw lots of playing time this season after a brief time up with the Padres last year. He hit .214/1/6 for the major league club.

Parrino hit over .300 last year and during his time this year for Padres minor league Tucson club. But it must be remembered that the ball really flies in California - where many of the PCL clubs are located.

Everth Cabrera is well liked as the starter in San Diego. Be very careful about thinking Parrino will take over. I don't think so. Not yet.

CASEY KELLY - RHP - SAN DIEGO PADRES - 6-3, 195#

In my many previous profiles of Kelly on this site, I have mentioned I thought he was far too hittable. I have always been concerned that he gets too much of the plate. I still have that concern.

So far with the Padres, Kelly has thrown 29 innings. He's given up 39 hits. He has an ERA of 6.21 and a WHIP of 1.690. Those numbers do not surprise me. He has walked only 10 while striking out 26.

YASMANI GRANDAL - C - SAN DIEGO PADRES - 6-2, 210#

If you have followed my work, you know that I've been bullish on Grandal for a long, long time.

He had a heck of a good season this year, hitting .302/8/36. He was part of the major deal between San Diego and Cincinnati that brought Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, and Edinson Volquez to San Diego for Mat Latos.

I think you can draft or pay for Grandal at auction with confidence that he will hit for average and grab some RBI for your team as well.

Yonder Alonso - 1B - SAN DIEGO PADRES - 6-2, 240#

Alonso is a professional line-drive hitter. He doesn't get cheated at the plate. He won't hit too many homers (.273/9/61 this year) but he will put the bat on the ball. His outs will be loud and off the barrel of the bat.

I think he'll only get better. His work ethic is off the charts. I wouldn't hesitate to grab him -especially in an only league.

HECTOR SANCHEZ - C - SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS - 5-11, 225#

Sanchez can hit. In fact, he's a .292 career major league hitter over parts of six seasons. The problem is he's playing behind an MVP quality catcher in Buster Posey.

Sanchez has some pop in his bat. He has hit three homers and has 34 RBI so far this season in 225 plate appearances.

In a league where two catchers are used, Sanchez has value. Posey will play some first, yielding the catching position to Sanchez.

BRYCE HARPER - OF - WASHINGTON NATIONALS - 6-3, 215#

Harper is everything we thought he would be. In his first season he hit .270/20/59 with 18 steals. He wasn't Mike Trout, but who is?

STEVE LOMBARDOZZI - 3B/SS/OF - WASHINGTON NATIONALS - 6-0, 195#

Lombardozzi can play lots of positions for the Nationals. His potential multiple position eligibility is attractive.

Lombardozzi has hit well so far in his first full season in Washington. He has a line of .274/3/27 with five stolen bases. He does make good contact.

Because he puts the bat on the ball and most everything is in play for him, I think Lombardozzi is a good low-end fantasy option.

THESE GUYS WEREN'T RECALLED, BUT I'M WATCHING THEM:

OSCAR TAVERAS - OF - CARDINALS
Power, speed, bat control = he has it all

KOLTEN WONG - 2B - CARDINALS
He could be the team's second baseman next season. He's a good player.

CHRISTIAN BETHANCOURT - C - ATLANTA BRAVES
I have not heard good things about Bethancourt's attitude this season. However, I've seen what he can do with the bat.

MATT SZCZUR - OF - CHICAGO CUBS
A very solid player - I look for him to make some noise next season. Like him a lot.

Follow me during the Arizona Fall League on Twitter @BerniePleskoff.