Just Missed It: Beyond the Top 50 - Part 2
Vince Faison, OF
Faison is a former first-round draft pick by the San Diego Padres. He was acquired last off-season in a six-player trade. Faison was injured for much of the season and had just 116 at-bats. He posted a .302 average and hit six homers. If the toolsy outfielder can stay healthy and can begin to put it together, he could see his stock rise some next season. Faison has a shot to begin the year with Triple-A Tacoma, depending on how crowded the outfield is out of spring training.
Matt Hagen, C/1B
Hagen has unlimited raw power but can't seem to make enough contact to hit .250 or better or stave off the strikeout fest. Hagen hit 21 home runs in 2003 in the pitcher's haven of the Midwest League but managed just nine last season with the 66ers. The M's are flirting with the idea of converting Hagen into a catcher but his bat must improve for the 25-year-old to stay in baseball.
Dustin Delucchi, OF
One of the nice surprises in the M's system has been Dustin Delucchi. He uses his excellent plate discipline to boost his overall value as a leadoff hitter. He is a scrappy player who can lead a team at the plate and in the field. Already 26, he has a tough road to travel if he is ever going to make it big. However, he has the will and a good base to work from. Delucchi will fight for a spot in Tacoma this spring.
Ryan Anderson, LHP
"The Space Needle" is trying to make it back, again. After numerous surgeries the enormous upside is gone but the big league potential isn't. He is said to be healthy enough to get back on the mound in a game this spring. The M's have decided to convert him to a reliever to help with the fatigue factor, at least for the time being. If he can regain some of his stuff and stay strong, he just may make it after all.
Paul Fagan, LHP
Fagan was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 amateur draft. The lefty posted a 5.07 ERA in 60.1 innings for the Arizona League Mariners. He struck out 57 in those 60.1 innings but also walked 29. He will be just 20 this season so time is on his side. He could turn a few heads in 2005.
Jeff Flaig, 3B
Flaig was the M's second round choice in the 2003 draft but has not yet lived up to his potential. He was compared by many to Troy Glaus due to his offensive potential but a shoulder injury has limited Flaig. He has been a disappointment thus far due to the injury but given time, his prospect status could skyrocket.
B.J. Garbe, OF
Garbe was acquired from the Twins for C Pat Borders on August 31. He hit just .201/.283/.278 in 2004 while in the Twins organization. The former fifth overall draft pick is not much a prospect any more. He never managed to turn his outstanding tools into performance. The future is bleak for Garbe unless he can somehow reach down and bring back the skills that made him a top draft pick.
Luis Oliveros, C
Oliveros began the season as the top catching prospect in the system but his regression and Rene Rivera's improvement changed that. Oliveros hit just .229 with four homers in 2004. The most troublesome number from 2004 was the jump in his strikeouts. He is a solid defensive backstop and still has a chance to return to his 2003 form.
Troy Cate, LHP
Cate is an interesting case. He has just an 84-87 MPH fastball and his secondary offerings aren't outstanding but he has solid command of each. He has walked just 76 batters in his 328 professional innings. He was enjoying success in Single-A Inland when the M's decided to challenge him in San Antonio. He was unable to maintain any level of success, posting a 6.35 ERA. If he can adjust to Double-A hitters, Cate may have a future but it will be difficult with a limited arsenal.
Cibney Bello, RHP
Bello had a decent season in Everett and if he continues to progress in Wisconsin in 2005, could push closer to breaking into the top 50. Relievers don't typically make quick surges in prospect status but if Bello improves his command and takes a step forward, the right-hander could be on the bubble.
Brandon Perry, LHP
Perry came into 2004 looking to pick up right where he left off in 2003. His first year in pro ball, Perry posted a 2.55 ERA in Peoria and a 1.29 ERA in a short stint with the Everett Aqua Sox. In '04, Perry was touched for 22 earned runs in 28 innings and walked 17 batters. Armed with solid stuff highlighted by a 90-mph fastball and a decent slider, Perry can get back to form and be a factor in 2005. Still just 20-years-old, the southpaw still has a chance to be solid.
Nibaldo Acosta, RHP
Acosta was a horse in 2004, leading the Timber Rattlers in innings pitched. Acosta has average stuff and wins with command and smarts out on the mound. Look for the soon-to-be 22-year-old to start his 2005 season in the California League where the hitters will challenge Acosta's style. He will have to display even better control as he learns to get outs in a more comptitive league.
Kenly Chang, RHP
The 22-year-old followed up a solid first season in pro ball with a lackluster season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Better command with the fastball and pitching with more confidence would allow the right-hander to pitch with more agression. Allowing 70 hits in 63 innings is a product of leaving the fastball over the middle of the zone and fearing the idea of walking hitters. Chang has decent stuff that suits his relief role well and if the Nicaragua native sharpens his command he can be an effective middle reliever.
Hyung Cho, 2B,
Cho is similar at the plate as fellow middle-infield prospect Juan Gonzalez, without the speed to steal 30 bases. Cho has virtually no power and relies on making a lot of contact to get on base. With a future as a reserve, Cho must continue to develop defensively at second base as well as shortstop. Cho has a good eye at the plate, striking out only 16 times in 141 at-bats.
Chad Fillinger, RHP
Fillinger has the arsenal to be a solid setup man or closer. His 90-93 mph fastball and solid slider miss enough bats to be effective at the back end of the bullpen. Command has been an issue for Fillinger, however, as the Santa Clara University product surrendered 47 hits in just 33 innings of work. With just 10 walks allowed, it appears that Fillinger finds the plate when he needs to but in the meantime, leaves too many pitches in the hitting zone.
Justin Ruchti, C
Ruchti's game is defense and it may be good enough to carry average offensive skills all the way to the majors. The problem is, the Rice grad has yet to display average offensive ability, hitting just .235 in 100 career games, and lacks power. With the glove Ruchti is solid in all aspects and is probably the best in the system at working with pitchers at in-game adjustents.
Juan Sandoval, RHP
A durable starter, Sandoval made 27 starts in 2004, throwing 168 innings. At 24, Sandoval is primed for a breakthrough in Double-A and his solid command and four-pitch arsenal could make for a successful 2005. The right-hander could also be a strong middle relief candidate with the Missions.
Juan Done, RHP
Done, 24, is probably running out of time with the M's organization, but has spent a year at each level since signing with the club prior to the 2001 season. Done issues too many free passes and will not get away with such control problem in Triple-A without suffering a double-digit ERA. The 5.34 mark he posted in '04 was a sign that his stuff may have staled out in th Texas League.
Darwin Soto, RHP
Soto was a minor league Rule 5 selection last winter and the former Padres farmhand was a solid addition to the Inland Empire bullpen. The Dominican native posted a 3.21 ERA and recorded 10 saves for the 66ers in 42 games. Soto gets it done with command and smarts and not with a 95-mph heater but should be effective with San Antonio in Double-A in 2005.
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