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Double-A Transition Monitor: Brett Lawrie, Alex Cobb

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Double-A Transition Monitor

Brett Lawrie, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers: We've talked a lot about Brett Lawrie this year, and his final numbers for Double-A Huntsville are impressive for a 20-year-old in Double-A: .285/.346/.451, 36 doubles, 16 triples, eight homers, 47 walks, 118 strikeouts, 30 steals in 43 attempts, 554 at-bats. His home/road splits were close to even, but he did have a pretty sharp platoon split, just .266/.326/.415 against right-handers but .336/.399/.546 against lefties. Lawrie did seem to wear down a bit as the season progressed; he had an .832 OPS in the first half but just .736 in the second. Scouting reports praise his bat speed, and anticipate that his homers will increase as he matures. He's got some issues with aggressiveness, but plate discipline was one of his strengths as an amateur and I'm not worried about it at this point given his age. I think he'll make any necessary adjustments.
     The main question for Lawrie remains defense. He doesn't look like a second baseman, with a thicker lower half, and a lot of scouts still see him as an outfielder eventually, but he's got quickness about him and runs quite well. His arm is above average. He's not reliable at this point on defense, with a fairly high error rate and some issues with the double-play, but his range isn't that bad and his range factors were actually above average this year, granted the problems with range factor especially in the minors. We'll see what TZR says when it comes out. Personally, I do think he'll end up in the outfield eventually.
     Overall, his transition was successful and I still see him among the elite prospects in the game.

Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays: It is easy for pitchers to get overlooked in the arm-rich Tampa Bay Rays organization. One possible example is 22-year-old right-hander Alex Cobb.  Drafted in the fourth round from high school in Vero Beach, Florida, in 2006, Cobb has moved one-step-at-a-time through the Rays system, in accordance with organizational philosophy. 2010 was his Double-A transition and it went well: 2.71 ERA, 128/35 K/BB in 120 innings, 120 hits, 1.55 GO/AO. All component ratios were solid or better for context.
     Cobb's best pitch is a big-breaking curveball. His fastball is OK at 88-91, but he locates it well and picks up grounders. He also has a decent changeup. He's not spectacular and doesn't have the blazing stuff of Matt Moore or the complete stuff/command package of Jeremy Hellickson. But his track record is quite solid, he had no problems handling Double-A, and we could see him sometime in the majors late next year. He could also prove to be useful trade bait. I can see him becoming a good fourth starter if his command and ground ball tendencies hold up.