This article is part of our John Sickels' Column series.
Trade Analysis and Prospect Notes
Orlando is a 22-year-old outfielder from Brazil, hitting .262/.308/.408 with 28 steals in 37 attempts for Class A Winston-Salem before the trade. With 22 walks against 97 strikeouts in 451 at-bats, Orlando's plate discipline looks pretty weak. He's rated as a good defensive outfielder due to his speed, but it may be difficult for him to show much pop at higher levels unless the strike zone judgment improves substantially. He's not a terrific prospect, but getting him in exchange for a pitcher the Royals picked off the scrap heap is a reasonable return. Orlando rates as a Grade C prospect.
A third round pick out of Oregon State in 2006, Buck suffered through elbow problems but finally succumbed to Tommy John in August, 2007. He came back less than a year later this June, going 1-5, 3.55 in 50.2 innings between Class A South Bend and Class A Visalia before the trade. Although his 28:11 K:BB ratio is unimpressive in terms of strikeouts, he's kept the ball down with a 1.98 GO:AO ratio, and the fact that he's effective at all this soon after surgery is a testament to his powers of recuperation and his intense drive to succeed. Buck's velocity is average, but he knows how to pitch with his slider and changeup, and getting further away from the surgery could boost his velocity again. He's a Grade C prospect right now, but has the ability to improve that.
Some Additional Prospect Notes
Brandon Wood's weird season continues. He's been on a tear the last month, hitting .394/.460/.869 in his last 27 games for Triple-A Salt Lake, with 12 walks and 23 strikeouts in 99 at-bats. This is more than double his walk rate the rest of the season, as he seems to be taking the need to control the strike zone more seriously. Now hitting .297/.367/.605 with 28 homers in 347 at-bats for Salt Lake, Wood will have to prove he can maintain the zone against major league pitching, but he has to get a chance to do so. Fantasy owners who have remained patient with him are faced with a dilemma. Wood's future depends as much on what the Angels front office and manager decide do to as it does his own performance. Will they commit to him and give him real playing time, letting him adjust even if there are some initial problems? Or will they give him some September at-bats here and there, but pull the plug again if he struggles for any length of time? Will he be traded this winter? I wish I had better advice for you other than "wait and see," but it is the best we can offer at this point. Wood's upside remains enormous, but the risks are still substantial.
David Price finally lost a game on Wednesday, allowing seven hits and three runs in four innings for Triple-A Durham. He did fan six, and this start is probably just a brief bump in the road. Consensus among baseball folk is that Price will be promoted in time to be eligible for the post-season roster, helping for the stretch run, likely used in a relief role. In the long run he will be a starter, probably as soon as April 2009. At this point, I think the only thing that could derail Price from major league success would be injury. That doesn't mean he will have immediate dominant success. But everything you want a young pitcher to have, Price has in droves: velocity, movement, command, intelligence, mound presence, great statistics. It is a complete package.
Cincinnati prospect Drew Stubbs had a nice Triple-A debut on August 13th, going 2-for-4 with a home run and double for Louisville against Toledo. Before being promoted, he'd hit .315/.400/.402 in 26 games for Double-A Chattanooga. The former University of Texas outfielder is an excellent athlete, but is still working out his skills on the baseball field. His power is still in the developmental stages: he's physically strong and has hit 30 doubles this year, but just six homers. His plate discipline is erratic; sometimes it is very good, and his walk rate is reasonable, but he'll lengthen his swing at times and go through long strikeout phases. Stubbs is a terrific defensive outfielder and would be useful in the majors as a reserve due to his glove and speed (30 steals this year), but if the power can develop more he has a shot as a regular.
Article first appeared 8/14/08