*Syracuse outfielder John-Ford Griffin went 2-for-4 Thursday, hitting his 22nd home run and driving in 3 guys. Griffin was a 1st round pick by the Yankees out of Florida State back in 2001. At the time, he was considered a possible Paul O'Neill clone. He was traded off to Oakland on '02, and then to Toronto in '03. His '03 and '04 campaigns in Double-A were disappointing, to the point where he fell off a lot of prospect lists entirely entering '05. He hit .279/.361/.461 in '03, then .248/.330/.454 in '04. He did knock 22 homers last year, but at the expense of a higher strikeout rate and a lower batting average. Previously, scouts had been concerned that Griffin wasn't developing enough home run power, but adding extra homers actually reduced his production last year because of the hit in his other numbers. Griffin faces a make-or-break year in '05. Right now, we have mixed results: .262/.350/.485, definitely better than last year, enough for him to get a promotion for September perhaps, although not enough to restore his reputation totally. Injuries have hurt his defensive ability, and right now he likely profiles best as a reserve bat/platoon player. He needs to get hot at the right time in order to force his way into a job. I think he is capable of Matt Stairs-like numbers down the road, but he could also get stuck as a Quadruple-A "failed top prospect" if he doesn't take advantage of whatever chance he gets.
*Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect Javon Moran went 2-for-5 for the Sarasota Reds in the Florida State League on Thursday, raising his batting average to .332 on the year. On the year, he's at .332/.382/.400 with 13 steals. A fifth round pick out of Auburn in '03 by the Phillies, he was traded to the Reds last year as part of the Cory Lidle trade. Moran is very fast, and is a good defensive outfielder despite a weak arm. He lashes line drives around the field, and has shown a good knack for hitting for average. But he has key weaknesses, namely a lack of power (just 8 extra base hits this year) and a low walk rate. Moran MIGHT have some Juan Pierre in him; we'll know more when he faces Double-a pitching. I put him at the tail end of my recent Top 50 prospects list for my newsletter, but I must have been hallucinating that day and he won't be on the August list. He's interesting, but he's hardly one of the best hitting prospects in baseball, not yet at least.