Eddy Martinez-Esteve as a Florida State Seminole
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF, San Jose Giants
I caught some flak this spring for rating Eddy Martinez-Esteve so highly in my book, as a Grade B and on the outskirts of the top 50. There were two basic beefs. Some people complained that I wasn't paying attention to how bad his glove is. Other said that even his bat was overrated, that his swing was too long and would not play well against pro pitching. So far, the latter criticism has not held up. Martinez-Esteve is hitting .336/.442/.603 through 36 games for San Jose, showing power, batting average, and strong plate discipline (24 walks already). I think his bat is going to be just fine at higher levels. The defense issue is still unclear; he has been limited to DH this year due to off-season shoulder surgery, and we still don't know how things are going to pan out on defense. But the bat, I have no real doubts about.
Andy LaRoche, 3B, Vero Beach Dodgers
One player I have never had a particularly good intuitive feel for is Andy LaRoche. Drafted by the Dodgers in the 39th round in '03, LaRoche had second or third round talent, but had to be bought away from college and scared most teams off. The Dodgers got him for $1 million. After erratic but promising performance at the lower levels last year, LaRoche is on fire in '05, hitting .344/.384/.643 thus far for Vero Beach in the Florida State League. He has 11 homers in 37 games, not an easy thing to do in that league, which is usually tough on power hitters. I'm not sure how sustainable this will be at higher levels, given his shaky plate discipline (9 walks, 25 strikeouts in 166 plate appearances). I would give LaRoche at least another couple of months at Vero Beach before considering a promotion to Double-A. What I like: power production in a difficult context, also good defensive reports. What I worry about: the very low walk rate, strike zone judgment inhibiting his batting average and OBP at higher levels.
Ty Taubenheim, RHP, Brevard County Manatees
One of the best pitchers at the A-ball level this year has been Brewers prospect Ty Taubenheim. Drafted in the 19th round in '03 from Edmonds Community College in Washington, Taubenheim is a 6-5, 200 pound RHP. His fastball is not overpowering, but he throws strikes and changes speeds well. He was used as a closer last year in the Midwest League, but moved to the rotation this year and has thrived, going 6-0, 1.62 in 7 starts, with a 30/9 K/BB in 50 innings. What I like: his command, K/BB, strong record of pro pitching so far. What I worry about: his raw strikeout rate is relatively low, and he may have some "hit-luck" on his side this year, giving up just 31 hits so far. We need to see what he does at higher levels.