A couple updates on players I get questions about.
Jake Blalock, OF, Clearwater Threshers (Philadelphia Phillies)
Hank's little brother is hitting .295/.379/.414 in 120 games for Class A Clearwater in the Florida State League, 20 doubles, 11 homers, 57 walks, 92 strikeouts, 10 steals in 11 attempts. Last year, he hit .271/.350/.449 in the Sally League, with 40 doubles and 16 homers. I was thinking that the large number of doubles he hit last year was a precursor of more home run power to come, but that hasn't panned out exactly. His strike zone judgment is about the same as last year, and he's added 24 points of batting average, helping his OBP, but overall this hasn't been a breakthrough season. He's 22 now, and should be moving up to Double-A next year on schedule. Will '06 be different? What will we see here, slow growth? Stagnation? Or the big breakthrough? My guess: slow growth.
J. Brent Cox, RHP, Tampa Yankees (New York Yankees)
Drafted in the second round this year, Texas Longhorn hero closer J. Brent Cox is having little difficulty with pro hitters so far. In 12 games for Class A Tampa, he's thrown 19.2 innings, allowing 16 hits, a 3.20 ERA, and a 21/5 K/BB ratio. A reader asked me recently if Cox could follow in Huston Street's footsteps and be ready to contribute in the Show within a year of being drafted. That sounds a bit aggressive to me. Cox is really good, but he doesn't throw quite as hard as Street, and I don't think he's quite as polished as Chad Cordero (another rapid college-to-major-league-bullpen guy) was at the same point. That said, Cox is certainly an advanced college-trained pitcher doing well in his pro debut. He should begin in Double-A next year. It wouldn't surprise me to see him contribute in the bullpen in the second half of '06, but '07 is probably a better bet. He hasn't closed yet for Tampa, but I'm not convinced he has to be limited to a setup role in the long run. He has enough stuff to close if his command is good, which it usually is.