Minor League Notes, July 26, 2010
**A couple of people have asked lately for my take on Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen, just promoted to the majors a few days ago. He's looked great in his first two major league games; two innings, zero hits, zero runs, zero walks, four strikeouts. His minor league numbers before his promotion were tremendous: since moving up to Double-A, he threw 27 innings for Chattanooga, with a 50/17 K/BB and just 14 hits allowed. The walks were higher than ideal, but his K/IP and H/IP ratios were exceptionally good, providing statistical confirmation of the stuff seen by scouts: 94-98 MPH fastball, good slider. The development of his secondary pitch has been notable this year; it was pretty raw last season, understandable since last year was his first year on the mound. Jansen's rise has been very rapid, and sometimes guys like this take a big step back just as quickly. I gave him a C+ in the book and would raise that to at least a Grade B now, maybe a B+.
**Another reader asks me about New York Mets outfield prospect Sean Ratliff, currently hitting .340/.372/.614 in 37 games for Double-A Binghamton. He'd hit .275/.331/.432 in 57 games for Class A St. Lucie before his promotion in June, and the reader wonders if his superior performance at Binghamton is a breakout. Ratliff was a fourth round pick in 2008 out of Stanford. The book on him in college and the low minors: excellent power potential from the left side, but hyper-aggressive at the plate and unable to handle good breaking stuff. He fanned 141 times in 496 at-bats last year in A-ball, with just 31 walks, stats which fit the scouting report perfectly. Despite the .340 mark in Double-A this year, his BB/K remains unimpressive at 7/33 at Binghamton, 24/99 overall on the season in 375 at-bats. On paper at least, it looks to me like he's getting lucky right now with the BABIP. That said, Ratliff has solid tools, including a plus throwing arm and decent running speed. He doesn't have to become a walk machine, but even a marginal improvement in his pitch selection could go a long way towards making him successful.
**With Alberto Callaspo shipped off to Anaheim and Alex Gordon definitely an outfielder, Mike Moustakas is the front runner to open 2011 as the Royals third baseman. He's off to a cold start his first two weeks at Omaha, hitting .220/.231/.380 in his first 13 games. He's shown some pop with two doubles and two homers, but his plate discipline has been dismal with one walk and nine strikeouts so far. Sample size is an issue of course, but check out the platoon split: 2-for-22 against lefties (.091), 9-for-28 (.321) with all of his extra base hits against right-handers. "A little overmatched right now" is what I've heard from a PCL source. I hope to get to see him play in person sometime in August.
**One of my favorite sleeper players entering 2010 was Carlos Ramirez, a catcher drafted by the Angels out of Arizona State last year in the eighth round. He got off to a very slow start this season, making it look like the gaudy numbers he put up last year in the Pioneer League (.376/.500/.638) were a thin air illusion. He hit just .226 in April and .117 in May. But he's been much more effective the last few weeks, hitting .375/.462/.661 in his last 17 games. He's maintained fair plate discipline throughout his trials, and while his overall line at .232/.350/.394 isn't exciting, I still think he's a prospect. His defense helps. Although scouts don't like his pudgy body, he's thrown out 42% of runners this year, has given up just three passed balls and four errors in 58 games, and has participated in 11 double plays, all very good numbers for a catcher at this level.