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Double-A Transition Monitor, June 13, 2005

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Marlins prospect Scott Olsen

Double-A Transition Monitor

*Scott Olsen at Double-A Carolina: Marlins lefty prospect is 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA through 12 starts, with an 80/25 K/BB ratio in 70 innings, 62 hits allowed. His ERA is up a bit from his career 2.90 mark in A-ball, but his component ratios remain strong, with no deterioration in K/IP or K/BB. The only real slippage is in his home run rate; he's given up 5 homers, compared to just 8 all last year and 4 the year before. But geez, 5 homers in 12 starts is hardly a worrisome ratio. He's doing fine, in other words, solidifying his status as one of the best LHP prospects in the game. He still doesn't get that much attention, but his ratio set is strong in all categories and I really don't see any reason why he shouldn't be considered an outstanding prospect. He throws strikes, and he is not a soft-tosser.

*J.P. Howell at Double-A/Triple-A/Majors: I want to write about Howell today, since he was scheduled for this edition of the Double-A Transition Monitor. However, he got promoted to Triple-A, and then to the Show, during our week of draft coverage. I'll go ahead and mention him anyway, because hey, it is my blog, and I set the rules. Anyhow, he pitched great in his first outing for the Royals, holding the D-backs to a run, 4 hits, and 2 walks in 5 innings of work, fanning 8. Just a year out of college, Howell is the latest candidate for the "southpaw strike thrower" slot in the Royals rotation. Can he avoid the dark fates of predecessors Chris George and Jimmy Gobble? A good sign is his strikeout rate, which has remained very good even after he left A-ball. . .he fanned 25 in 23 innings after his promotion, 33 in 28 innings if you count the Major League start. His overall K/BB in his last 28 innings is 33/10, very solid.

*Steve Shell at Double-A Arkansas. The Angels right-hander spent two years pitching for Rancho Cucamonga in the California League, then moved up to Double-A this year at age 22. He is 3-4, 4.84 in 13 starts, with a 54/30 K/BB in 71 innings, 81 hits allowed, including 12 homers. Last year his K/BB was 190/40 in 165 innings, so there has been significant deterioration this year, marked by a large increase in walks and a decline in strikeouts. His H/IP is off, too, and more than you'd expect just by the switch in leagues, so it looks like he's having real adjustment problems. The Texas League can be rough on pitchers, and no member of the Arkansas rotation has an ERA better than 4.09, so there is no reason to panic at this point. But Shell has work to do, and any hope that he could contribute in the Show late this year should be set aside.

*Jason Hirsh of Double-A Corpus Christi. I saw the Astros prospect pitch last month and was impressed. His season has gone reasonably well so far: 4-5, 3.50 ERA, 65/21 K/BB in 75 innings, 59 hits, 5 homers allowed. His ratios are similar to, if not slightly better than, what he posted last year in the Class A Carolina League. The main question for Hirsh still is his future role: is he a starter or a reliever? This depends on the development of his changeup, which can be inconsistent. So far, it has not hurt him much this year, although his 3.50 ERA is actually the worst among the regular Corpus Christi starters. He's holding his own, but it's a long shot for him to contribute before mid-2006.