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Afternoon Notes, May 26, 2010

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Afternoon Notes, May 26, 2010

**Tigers pitching prospect Charles Furbush is blowing away the Florida State League: he's 3-3 for Lakeland due to lack of support, but with a 2.73 ERA and an amazing 80/10 K/BB in 56 innings, just 42 hits allowed. All of his component ratios are excellent. Drafted in the fourth round out of LSU in 2007, Furbush missed all of '08 following Tommy John surgery, but came back to post a 93/32 K/BB with a 3.96 ERA for Lakeland last year. He has average fastball velocity according to the most recent reports I have, but his slider and changeup have been outstanding this year, and everything is firing on all cylinders. Furbush is repeating the league, and has nothing left to prove at this level: he deserves to move up to Double-A as soon as possible.  I gave him a Grade C in the book this year, and would certainly move that up to C+ right now, but he's 24 and I want to see higher level performance before boosting the grade further.

**One of my favorite prospects is Twins right-hander Adrian Salcedo. He was dominant in the Gulf Coast League last year (1.46 ERA, 58/3 K/BB in 62 innings), and scouts love his projectability: he's 6-4 but just 175 pounds, and his velocity (already 89-94 MPH) should pick up as he fills out. His control was superb last year, and both his curveball and changeup are promising. The Twins held him back in extended spring training, but he was activated last week and sent to the Florida State League, a heady assignment for a 19 year old, skipping two levels, which tells you how much the Twins like him. He's made two starts so far, pitching nine innings total, allowing 11 hits and seven runs, with a 7/3 K/BB and a 1.71 GO/AO. Obviously we need more data and the sample is too small to mean much now, but I love this guy.

**I got a lot of crap from Braves fans for giving Cody Johnson just a Grade C+ in the book this year, and even that grade I felt was rather generous. His power potential is outstanding, but his lack of offensive polish and a very high strikeout rate are red flags for me. Playing for Double-A Mississippi this year, Johnson has hit 10 homers in 43 games, with an overall line of .245/.321/.496, with 15 walks and 60 strikeouts in 139 at-bats. He's played 43 games, and any time someone's strikeout rate exceeds once per game by such a large margin, I get nervous. Johnson also has an especially large platoon split. He kills right-handers at a .287/.336/.602 clip, but is helpless against lefties at .097/.275/.129, striking out in more than half his at-bats. The outlook for his future remains the same: he's only 21 and still has time to adjust, but what I wrote in the book remains valid "exceptional power potential but a high risk of failure."

**Cedric Hunter was a big disappointment last year in the Texas League, the Padres outfield prospect hitting just .261/.294/.331 in 131 games for San Antonio. Returning to the Missions this year, he's shown a bit more life in the bat, hitting .298/.344/.415, including .333/.374/.448 on the road. His home park is a difficult hitting environment. Back when Hunter was a high school outfielder in Georgia, I was very high on him and thought he could be a future batting champion due to his quick swing and ability to make contact . He's flashed these abilities at times and keeps his strikeout rate low, but his power hasn't developed and he's looked more and more like a tweener. At age 22 he still has time to figure things out, but he is sort of the mirror-image of Cody Johnson in terms of strengths and weaknesses. If you could stick Hunter's head on Johnson's body, you'd have one hell of a hitter.