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Beware Lake Monsters

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The Starting Rotation of the Vermont Lake Monsters in the New York-Penn League was Chock Full `o Prospects this year. By reader request, let's take a look.

Adrian Alaniz, RHP
Went 8-2, 2.39 in 60.1 innings, with a 62/8 K/BB ratio, allowing 42 hits. Drafted in the eighth round this year out of the University of Texas, Alaniz has a very pedestrian fastball at 85-87 MPH. But his curveball is outstanding, he has a decent changeup, and he throws strikes. Note exceptional ratios across the board. Because he lacks the best fastball, we need to see if he can sustain this against better competition, but I imagine he will make short work of A-ball and the real test will come in Double-A. That test could come as soon as next year since he will turn 24 in the spring. Probably a Grade C/C+ right now.

Glenn Gibson, LHP
Went 4-3, 3.10 in 12 starts with a 58/15 K/BB in 58 innings, 47 hits allowed. 19 years old, fourth round pick in 2006 out of high school in New York. Tall projectable lefty with an average fastball but a very good changeup and curveball, also has a nice feel for pitching that he probably got from his dad, former major leaguer Paul Gibson. I like Gibson and I think he has a bright future. I'd rate him a C+/B- right now.

Cole Kimball, RHP
Went 3-6, 4.20 in 64.1 innings, with a 72/40 K/BB ratio, allowing 52 hits. I like the K/IP ratio but his other numbers were less impressive, especially the high walk rate, and he was repeating the level. Age 22, was drafted in the 12th round out of Centenary College in 2006. His arm strength is very good, as he can hit 93 MPH, but his secondary pitches are still weak and his control gives problems. Grade C with higher potential.

Hassan Pena, RHP
Went 4-5, 4.25 in 59.1 innings, with a 36/33 K/BB ratio, allowing 55 hits. 22 year old Cuban defector signed in 2006 as a 13th round pick from Palm Beach CC. Pena has a live arm and can hit 92-93 MPH, but his control needs work, and I also don't like the low strikeout rate. I'd assess him as a Grade C prospect with higher potential at this stage, as the component ratios are not impressive overall.

Colton Willems, RHP
Went 3-2, 1.84 in 58.2 innings, with a 31/26 K/BB, allowing 55 hits. Just 19 years old, Willems was drafted in the first round in '06 out of high school in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Projectable at 6-3, 180, Willems is still working on making his stuff consistent. He can hit the mid-90s but not always, and command of his secondary pitches comes and goes. The ERA looks great but the components aren't the best and his transition to short-season ball should prove most interesting next year. I'd go with Grade B- right now with potential to raise that greatly.

Jordan Zimmerman, RHP
Went 5-2, 2.38 in 53 innings, with a 71/18 K/BB, allowing 45 hits. Drafted by the Nationals in the second round this year, the 21 year old Zimmerman was an NCAA Division III star for Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and continued pitching brilliantly as a pro. Note his outstanding K/IP and H/IP marks. He has a 90-94 fastball, a very good slider, and has made strides with his curve and changeup. I love the K/IP ratio. Probably rate him as a Grade B right now.

I'd rate them Zimmerman, Willems, Gibson, Alaniz, Kimball, and Pena right now.