Aug 17th, 2009
By John Norris
Tonight’s the big night! Will I get Fernando Cortez’s autograph? The man who gave me the finger for heckling him last time Montgomery was in town. I’ll let you guys know in the games thread tonight on Soxtalk.
I’ve been getting a lot of requests about various players so I’ll try to cover as many as possible. I’ll start off talking about some of the relief prospects in the system. 40-man roster member Clevelan Santeliz is an intriguing talent. He’s your typical Latin American pitcher with a herky-jerky delivery, think K-Rod, who I would classify as being effectively wild. I’m not 100% sure about his pitches, but if I had to guess I’d say he throws a 4-seam fastball, slider and a splitter or sinker. His fastball ranges from 93 to 102, according to the gun at Regions Park. The slider is 80 to 85 and the splitter/sinker is 89 to 92. He definitely has the talent to be a Major Leaguer, justifying the 40-man roster placement. In addition to all that, he has a hot head, class clown personality, being only a few weeks shy of turning 23. He’s generally the lead prankster. He also serves as the gateway guy if you want a broken bat. When I got him to sign his 2009 Barons card, he told me “I hate this f***ing picture.” He much preferred his 2008 Barons card that was an action shot instead of a head shot like the 2009 card.
Lucas Harrell and Brian Omogrosso are also talented pitching prospects. Although Harrell is a starter, I believe his future is in relief. Both pitchers seem to have fragile arms, Harrell already having his shoulder rebuilt and Omogrosso suffering from a torn labrum, tumors in his pitching hand and Tommy John surgery. So, relief work would suit them well to limit the wear on their arms. Omogrosso has a hard fastball and a wicked slider, a good combo for a late innings reliever. His delivery is almost exactly the same as Bronson Arroyo’s. Harrell has the repertoire to be a starter, but he tends to not attack hitters enough and not trust his stuff and his defense. I believe that changing his role to a reliever would force him to focus on getting outs and help his confidence. He could still be valuable as a swing man a la D.J. Carrasco.
I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Henry Mabee. Although already 24, he throws a hard fastball 95 to 97, a high 70’s curveball and a high 80’s splitter. As long as he keeps the fastball down, hitters are frozen. He has a large frame and I’m eager to see what he can do next season possibly splitting time between Birmingham and Charlotte.
I was probably the one person to have Christian Marrero ranked highly in my midseason top 25 or at all. Marrero was a draft and follow that signed in 2006 who has exceeded expectations. He’s an impressive hitter, able to hit to all fields. There is really nothing negative to say about him. He plays solid defense in RF, LF or 1B. He has good speed, capable of getting a triple on a hit deep into the corners. He hits for a high average and has solid power. His home runs are high, majestic shots to right or right center that carry. I can’t really think of a player to compare him to but I definitely think he’s a player that should be on everybody’s radar.
Although he’s struggled in his short time in AAA, Stefan Gartrell is also a highly talented player. He’s been criticized for striking out a lot, but that alone doesn’t tell the story. He is an extremely patient and selective hitter, always looking at 4-5 pitches at least, if not more. He has tremendous power to all fields. He can bomb it to dead center, find a jet stream and hit one that carries over the right field wall, or square one up perfectly that’s like a cannon shot over the left center wall. He certainly takes what he’s doing seriously as he’s not happy when he strikes out. He’s also another guy who works hard to hone his skills by spending extra time in the batting cage. Defensively, his only issue is routes to fly balls. It’s not that glaring of a problem, just more of an adventure. By the way, pronounce his name correctly, it’s STEF-UN.
I know a lot of people have been concerned with Jordan Danks’ progress lately. He has definitely struggled recently to just make consistent contact. If his wrist is still bothering him, that would explain the problem. We all know how important the wrist is for a hitter. He could also be hitting a wall as this is his first full year as a pro and he’s spent most of the season here in Birmingham. That’s no easy task for a young player to succeed at such a tough, tough level. He may need some more time in AA next year, but that’s no reason to panic. He has always been solid defensively, he has a lot of range and speed to cover plenty of ground. He still is an impressive hitter. He strikes the ball hard and can hit to all fields. He sees a lot of pitches, so patience isn’t a problem for him. So, once he’s back to 100% health next season, he should have a breakout year.
Daniel Hudson is the real deal. Ed Collari of the Winston-Salem Dash and the numbers agree with me. Even though he wasn’t as dominant in the Carolina League as he had been in the Southern League. He’s a stud and an ace in the making. He keeps hitters completely off balance by throwing all of his pitches at any time in the count. They just never know what’s coming. I can imagine years from now people talking about Hudson and wondering why so many teams passed on him in the 2008 draft. He has a large frame, he’s all of the 6′4″ and 220 pounds he’s listed at. That may benefit him to stay healthy. My only concern with him is his throwing motion. I worry about his elbow because he seems to put a lot of stress on it when he throws. Watch the Charlotte game on Wednesday on MiLB.tv to see what I mean. Hopefully I’m just digging too deep, but I’d keep that in mind for the future.
As usual, I’ll be taking requests on Soxtalk for next week’s edition of JPNese.