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Bernie On The Scene: Short Hops

Bernie Pleskoff

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

My most recent articles included players that were on the Futures Game squads of both the United States and the World teams. I took a look at hitters and pitchers in separate articles.

I want to provide some short information regarding players that either weren't on the rosters for the game or players that I didn't include in those articles.

Beginning next week I will return to offering in-depth profiles of one player each week until the end of the regular season.

Reymond Fuentes, OF, SD

There are certainly people who criticize the Padres for trading superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez as opposed to paying his price for stardom. Considering the return in the deal, I'm not among those critics. I believe the Padres made a good trade that offers some hope for their future. Gonzalez could not alone change the culture of the franchise. The club did not win with him. They didn't have enough quality big league players.

Fuentes was one of the pieces of the trade. He came to the Padres along with Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, a pitcher and first baseman respectively.

Fuentes is an exciting, former first-round center fielder with the ability to change a game with his electric speed. He cannot only steal bases at will, he can chase down flyballs in the outfield with outstanding first step-quickness. That will allow him to save games for his pitchers in the massive outfield at Petco Park. He is an outstanding defensive outfielder.

Of course, Fuentes has to put the bat on the ball and hopefully hit pitches on the ground to make the speed work in his behalf since he doesn't have much power.

Fuentes is currently at High-A Lake Elsinore and is a couple seasons away from beginning a major league career. As a pure athlete, Fuentes is among the best in the Padres' system. He is someone to watch and target as he makes his way through the minors.

Liam Hendriks, RHP, MIN

Hendriks is an Australian pitcher the Twins believe will be able to pitch in their rotation. In a rather thin organization, I think Hendriks has a chance to be a quality big league pitcher. In fact, I like him more than I like highly touted Kyle Gibson. Gibson is further along in his development, and Hendriks has had both knee and back problems in his history. A year ago he was removed from the Futures Game roster after having an appendectomy.

Hendriks has a complete arsenal of pitches that include a fastball, a slider and a cutter. He has outstanding command and control and he should be able to keep his team in games. While Hendriks throws strikes, he is more a pitch-to-contact type guy than a strikeout pitcher, but he will play well at Target Field in Minnesota where home runs are rare.

After the Futures Game this season, Hendriks was promoted to Triple-A Rochester. He has given up some hits against higher quality hitters, but he's on the move in the organization. Keep an eye on Hendriks as a back of the rotation starter that could be effective in the future. He won't be a star, but he'll win some games if the Twins can score some runs. That will be key, as Hendriks will give up runs himself.

Jarrod Parker, RHP, ARZ

Parker was the first-round draft pick of the D-Backs in 2007 out of Norwell, Indiana. He was a high school product who they felt could be the focal point of their rotation for years to come.

He had a nice beginning to his career, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2009. He returned for the instructional league in 2010, throwing his fastball in the mid-90s range, often hitting the high-90s.

Parker has very good fastball command, but it's his slider that will take him to eventual stardom. Mixing in that knee buckling pitch at about 10 or 12 miles per hour less in velocity is the key to Parker's success. He is learning how to pitch and he's making outstanding progress.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Parker make a start or two for the Diamondbacks at some point this season. However, it is more likely we will see Parker in the rotation next year. He can really be a great compliment to pitchers like Ian Kennedy, Dan Hudson and Joe Saunders. He'll rack up his share of strikeouts, but I am always wary of pitchers in the very hitter friendly Chase Field. Be aware but don't be worried, he should be able to keep the ball down and he'll learn to adjust to the situation. Just be cautious and don't overpay.

Trayvon Robinson, OF, SEA

Robinson may have been next in line to come to the Dodgers and try to stick as their full time left fielder. He would be an outstanding compliment to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Instead, the Dodgers decided to trade him and now he's in the Seattle organization playing at Triple-A Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League. Unfortunately, when he does make the big club, he'll be playing in a graveyard for hitters at Safeco Field.

Robinson has a nice blend of power and speed. He isn't a huge presence at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, but he can hit the ball out of the park. This season he has really blossomed as a hitter, taking the ball deep with regularity. It should be remembered that the Pacific Coast League is a hitting paradise. Until he was traded, Robinson played for Albuquerque where he had a chance to show off his power and speed. I'm surprised, however, that he doesn't have more stolen bases up to this point in the season.

There is concern that Robinson has been striking out way too often. That concern is legitimate. He has begun to really swing for the fences and it has changed his game. However, I'm still surprised that Robinson is still playing minor league baseball when he could likely be helping the big club in Seattle. Certainly they are still starved to get men on base and score runs. I think Robinson might be able to drive in a few.

Eric Farris, 2B, MIL

During the last Arizona Fall League, scouts expected Brett Lawrie to show up as a second baseman from the Brewers. That didn't happen. Instead, Farris staffed the position and Lawrie was later traded to the Blue Jays. Now Farris is on the big league roster as a fill-in for the injured Rickie Weeks.

Ferris, a Loyola Marymount graduate, hurt his knee in 2009. That injury slowed him down a bit, but he is still an efficient and effective offensive and defensive player. He is primarily a singles hitter that will bunt on occasion. Don't look for much power from Farris, because he will disappoint you in that area. He has excellent baseball instincts and he's the type of player that will work himself until he improves.

When I saw Farris in the Arizona Fall League, I was impressed with the fact he made every at-bat count. He knew how to work pitchers and he was a very difficult out. During that fall he hit .351 and he showed an ability to be patient at the plate with good pitch recognition.

I think Farris will hit for average and steal some bases, but I'm not sure he'll be more than a utility player in the big leagues.

Brandon Laird, 3B, NYY

Laird is another hitter I saw play in the Arizona Fall League. He has some ability to put the bat on the ball and make things happen. He has occasional pop in his bat, but he is more a line-drive gap hitter than one for pure power. He will probably hit about .270 in the big leagues if he continues to develop his pitch recognition, plate coverage and selectivity. I like Laird because he puts the ball in play. For a third baseman, Laird is a good option for playing time going forward. The problem? Alex Rodriguez is still viable in New York.

If Laird is to play for the Yankees in the major leagues, it will likely only be as a big league backup going forward. He may also see some time in the outfield. Otherwise, he has to get traded, but he's valuable to the Yankees right where he is at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre

Laird played outfield in the AFL and he played well. I'm not sure the Yankees see him as an outfielder for the major league club. His range and arm strength aren't overwhelming, and even at third base the weakest part of his defense is his arm strength.

I think Laird can play. He needs a place to show that he can hit, but that won't happen much in his current situation. Even though Rodriguez is out, Laird only saw one game at the big league level before he was returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Grant Green, CF/SS, OAK

It would appear that Green's career might be in transition. It's important to note that Green is now playing center field for Double-A Midland in the Texas League. Green was the first-round draft selection of the A's in 2009. At the time he was selected, the club was looking for him to be a top-notch defensive shortstop. Now they see him as a potential offensive center fielder.

His defense hasn't turned out to be exactly what the A's had in mind at the time he was drafted. His range and arm strength aren't up to the standards of most outstanding major league shortstops; he is a tad below average. However, he does have the ability to hit for average and for power, both attributes that play well in CF. Green has adequate range and he is learning how to chase down flyballs with efficient and effective routes.

When I have seen Green hit, I noticed that he relies heavily on his hands and arms rather than using his entire body in his swing. That's fine, but I think he's cheating himself of some much-needed torque in his swing by not employing his trunk and legs to the degree he is capable.

The A's have an investment in Green and I'm not sure he is finished playing short. We'll have to wait and see how he does in his new role as an outfielder. It must be remembered that many, many players change positions once big league coaches take over their development. Green is a good athlete, and that's the common ingredient for those that make a successful transition.

Casey Kelly, SP, SD

Kelly, like Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes was part of the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Kelly may have been the focal point of the entire deal.

Kelly is currently pitching at Double-A San Antonio. He is a pitch to contact guy with the ability to induce ground balls from hitters.When I saw Kelly in the Arizona Fall League, he had an agreement with his former club, the Red Sox, to try his hand at shortstop one last time before a determination was made about his position going forward. He didn't hit that well in the AFL, and now he's pitching permanently.

He has a wide repertoire of good pitches that include an above average fastball, curve and changeup. He is still only 21 years old, so his maturation as a pitcher continues.

Kelly is a good athlete and he has the ability to make adjustments on the mound. If I have any real criticism of his pitching, I would say that at times he gets far too much of the plate. When he does try to nibble at the corners, he loses concentration and command. Overall, his stuff is good enough for him to compete once he harnesses his control and command.

Kelly should be able to pitch well in the spacious environment of Petco Park in San Diego. However, that space may also yield some long doubles in the gaps. Look for Casey Kelly in 2012 as the Padres become more serious about allowing their prospects to move to the big leagues.

He should be an outstanding addition to the Padres' staff and to your fantasy league team within the next couple of years.

Upon Further Review - I stick to my original opinion

With the big league season half over and the minor league season having only the month of August remaining, it's time for me to share some of my general thoughts about prospects. Again, these are strictly my opinion based upon my review of several prospects:

Domonic Brown, OF, PHI - I have issued warning after warning for the past two-and-a-half years about Brown. I have indicated it will take him quite a while to adjust to major league pitching. His swing is long and his plate discipline is short. I issue the warning again. Be careful with Dom Brown. Ultimately, I think he'll get there, but it will take more minor league seasoning and more patience and discipline on his part. I'm not a huge fan.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, SD - My concern about Rizzo continues. The Padres have been desperate for hitting, and thus, they promoted him too soon. He really struggled at the big league level and is now hitting again in Triple-A Tucson, where he just completed an outstanding week with the bat. In time, he will adjust and be able to hit major league quality pitching. Remember, it usually takes two-to-three big league seasons for a hitter to adjust. Don't give up totally on Rizzo, but he still needs work.

Jerry Sands, OF/1B, LA - See Anthony Rizzo.

Mike Trout, OF, LAA - He has scuffled for the Angels, but that was to be expected. He's back in Double-A now and he's still learning the game. There was no way he could hit big league pitching with so few minor league at-bats. He'll continue to get better and better and better. He's the real deal regarding contact hitting and speed. An outstanding baseball player, Trout will have an All-Star career. Just not yet.

Jesus Montero, C, NYY - I don't get it. The Yankees won't promote him to the big leagues and they won't trade him or Austin Romine for the pitching help they need. Montero is still a good bat, but he's not having a good season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I'm holding on to him in my keeper league where I have him two more years. I wish I could tell you if and when he'll be playing somewhere in major league baseball, but I just don't know. I've recently heard he may be called up to New York, but I'll believe it when I see it and I hope to see it soon. He's still a good hitter in my book.

Jenrry Mejia, RHP, NYM - He has had Tommy John surgery and that takes a year of recovery. Even then, we have no idea if the Mets' flamethrower will return to being a flamethrower. Proceed with caution.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, KAN - He's the Royals' prospect I have always liked the most.

However, I like most of the Royals' drafted prospects. He's having an outstanding rookie year and he's the exception to my reasoning about hitting prospects needing time to develop. He has outstanding eye-hand coordination, makes good contact and centers the ball extremely well, and he has yet to struggle. It will happen at some point. Maybe later this season or perhaps next season. Hosmer is an outstanding player and one you can draft with confidence.

Aroldis Chapman, LHP, CIN - I still think he's the closer for the Reds in 2012 or sooner, and I think he's going to be "lights out." I was concerned about his adjustment from Cuba to the United States taking a toll on him emotionally and mentally. I think that time has past. I think you can draft him with confidence in 2012.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, CHW - I still believe. The White Sox obviously don't, or at least Ozzie doesn't. I like his power, his contact and his ability to change games. I hope they trade him or one of the other outfielders to create an opportunity for him.

Brandon Beachy, RHP, ATL - I was very high on him on these pages and I still am.

He's a control pitcher with ability, so I think he'll have some clunkers like any other pitcher, but I really like his approach to pitching.

Ryan Lavarnway and Devin Mesoraco, C, BOS/CIN - I'm high on both. They just need their chances. Those chances wil come in 2012. Buy with confidence and be patient.

Midseason Watch List

There are a few guys I'm watching carefully that could be sleepers for future drafts. I share them with you now:

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARZ - maybe not a sleeper anymore. Paul Bunyan.

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, ATL - still a couple years away, but now is when you watch

Matt Szczur, OF, CHC - pure hitter with speed is a few years away

Billy Hamilton 2B/SS, CIN - this guy can fly-eventually will have huge SB totals.

Jared Mitchell OF, CHW - has ability and has recovered from ankle injury

I will have a list of these type players at the conclusion of my articles from now until the end of August.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and on in the Opinions section.