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Some Book Excerpts

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Here are some book excerpts to give you a feel for how I write, with bits of humor mixed in with the information and analysis. Note that the actual comment in the book includes statistics for the last two seasons, as well as grades (if any) from previous books. However I can't get the formatting to look right on the website, so I'll just reproduce the text.

Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Bats: L    Throws: L     HT: 6-5     WT: 195   DOB: April 20, 1988

 Belt was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, from the University of Texas. He signed too late to play professionally, but will probably make his 2010 debut at the low-A level. Belt is a big guy with a big wingspan, and considerable power potential. Scouts say his swing doesn't fully translate his strength into power, and indeed he never dominated college pitching, though his performance was pretty solid overall. He works counts and controls the strike zone well, which helps, but he's vulnerable to pitches inside. Belt has a good bit of athleticism and looks like a fine defender to me. I'm not sure how the bat is going to develop, and we need to see what he does against pro pitching before going higher than a Grade C, but I think he has some breakout potential once he gets comfortable.

Joe Benson, OF, Minnesota Twins 
Bats: R     Throws: R    HT: 6-1   WT: 205     DOB: March 5, 1988 

Joe Benson's tools have never been in doubt. A second round pick out of high school in Illinois in 2006, he's an exceptional athlete with good speed and strength. He was also very raw when drafted, and had significant problems with contact and strike zone judgment at the lower levels. He made progress correcting these flaws in 2009, raising his walk rate at Class A Fort Myers and boosting his power production slightly despite a park/league environment that's tough on hitters. He was just 21 last year, so he's still in a good spot on the age curve and the progress could be real rather than noise. His range and throwing arm are above average, giving him defensive value as well. I have been rather skeptical about Benson in the past, but I think he made real improvements last year. Let's see if he can maintain the enhanced walk rate in Double-A. He missed a month of playing time after punching a dugout wall and breaking a hand, but the injury had no ill-effect other than making people wonder about his emotional control. Grade C+.

Sean Black, RHP, New York Yankees
Bats: R     Throws: R     HT: 6-3   WT: 185   DOB: April 23, 1988 

Black was a seventh round pick last June out of Seton Hall. He is a good athlete and has a live arm, hitting 93-95 MPH on his best days, and he usually throws strikes. However, he wasn't consistently successful in college, struggling to develop his curveball and changeup. He posted an excellent 1.62 ERA and threw strikes in his pro debut in the New York-Penn League, but his K/IP ratio wasn't very good, reflecting the need to improve his secondary pitches. It may take some time, but I think Black has development potential, and the Yankees seem like a good fit for him. Grade C.

Jiwan James, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Bats: S    Throws: R     HT: 6-4     WT: 180   DOB: April 11, 1989 

SLEEPER ALERT!!! James was drafted in the 22nd round in 2007, out  of high school in Williston, Florida. Originally a pitcher, he performed poorly in rookie ball (7.72 ERA, 14/15 K/BB in 33 innings, 45 hits) and was converted to the outfield in 2009. James was considered a third round talent in high school due to his amazing athleticism, but he fell to the 22nd round because of his University of Florida commitment. Although his numbers in the New York-Penn League last year weren't terrific, his OPS was actually slightly positive at +5 percent in a pitching-oriented league. He has excellent power and speed potential, and the Phillies think he could develop similarly to Domonic Brown. I'm not sure why, but I think they might be right about this. The little voices in my head are telling me to pay close attention to this one, that he could be one of the toolsy guys who turns into something. There is nothing objective in the numbers leading me that direction; it's a subjective thing. The little voices in my head also tell me to eat Nutter Butters for breakfast. For now we will go with a Grade C given his rawness, but he's definitely worth keeping a close eye on, and I'll stick a sleeper alert tag on him.