**Oakland first base/outfield prospect Sean Doolittle is 9-for-36 (.308) with two doubles, a triple, three walks, and six strikeouts so far for Triple-A Sacramento. I think he is one of the more fascinating players to track this year. In college at Virginia, he was described as a Mark Grace clone, a guy who would hit for average, get on base, play great defense, but not provide as many homers or as much pure power as the normal first baseman/corner outfielder. But last year he hit 22 homers and 40 doubles between the Cal League and the Texas League, at the expense of a higher-than-expected strikeout rate, including 54 whiffs with just 17 walks in 201 at-bats in Double-A.. Can Doolittle find a better balance this year? It is too soon to know, of course, but I like the aggressive promotion to Triple-A.
**Cardinals outfield prospect Daryl Jones broke out in 2008, and has maintained his momentum in '09, going 8-for-21 (.381) in six games for Double-A Springfield, with two doubles, a homer, two steals, three walks, and three strikeouts. It is early obviously but the fast start is good to see, and Jones looks like a tools player who has developed his skills very well. His balance of tools and skills continues to remind me of Ray Lankford.
**Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez is 6-for-29 (.207) with two homers, seven walks, and six strikeouts in nine games for Lynchburg in the Carolina League. He's controlling the strike zone well and has knocked the two bombs, and I imagine the batting average will rise given the small sample size we currently have. Still. . .Pirate fans might start getting nervous at some point. It has been over a year since Alvarez has truly lived up to his potential in the field. . .he wasn't at his best at Vanderbilt last spring due to injuries, and he is still working some rust off. At this point I'm not concerned. If he's still muddling along in July, then perhaps there is a deeper problem.
**Seattle pitching prospect Juan Ramirez has given up just one run in his first 11.1 innings for High Desert in the Cal League, winning both of his starts. He's given up just four hits and has a 2.33 GO/AO ratio, but on the other hand his 4/5 K/BB ratio is less than impressive. Sample size, etc. . .don't want to make a big deal out of two starts, good or bad, but the K/BB will need to improve. Ramirez gets his fastball into the low 90s consistently, hitting 95-97 at times, with sinking action. His slider and changeup still need work, perhaps reflected in the low strikeout rate so far this year. High Desert is hell on pitchers, and if he continues to do well it will be interesting to see how quickly the Mariners push him to Double-A.
**Off-Topic. Someone asked me about my thoughts regarding the upcoming Star Trek pseudo-reboot movie. I was a Star Trek fan before I was a baseball fan, so the show has been a big part of my life. I've even been a semi-regular contributor to the Star Fleet Battles Trek-based universe, writing battle scenarios and fiction pieces, including two books of background for role-players. So you can see I'm quite the geek. I prefer the Original Series, particularly the first two seasons, to the shows that came after it, though DS9 was great and TNG had its moments. I hated Voyager, and Enterprise was just starting to get good when it was cancelled. I'm trying to keep an open mind regarding the new movie, and will review it when it comes out. So far I can say that I don't like the new Enterprise, either the exterior or the interior, but that the uniforms look great, the acting seems like it will be good, and there looks to be lots of action. It's too early to know how the characterizations and plot will pan out, and how they will balance "canon" and "a fresh approach."
**Speaking of movie reviews, I'm working on an OT piece reviewing two Nazi-themed movies I've recently seen, Valkyrie and Downfall.