40.) Nate Bumstead, Starting Pitcher, Oneonta (SS-A)
Bumstead after being drafted just this past summer made quite a first impression for the organization. In 11 games (9 starts), Bumstead dominated the competition, with an ERA just over 2, and a WHIP just over 1. Even more impressive from the 32nd round draft pick was his 5 to 1 K:BB ratio, striking out 75 batters in just 57 innings. Bumstead has wild mechanics and tops out in the high 80's, but it's hard to argue with production like Bumstead's. The key will be for him to have a repeat performance over the course of a full season against more advanced hitters next season.
39.) Danilo Sanchez, Catcher, West Michigan (A-)
Much like a number of other teammates, Sanchez wasn't very highly regarded entering the year. While he was a bit old at 23 for the Midwest League, Sanchez developed into the team's most productive hitter, sitting in the 3-hole for much of the 2nd half of the season, including throughout their playoff run on the way to the Midwest League championship. For the year, Sanchez hit .294 with 8 Home Runs (not bad, especially considering the big park and just over 300 at bats). But again, Sanchez will have to continue to prove he can hold the regular catching job on a full time basis, as well as move steadily up the ladder, as already being a bit old for his level.
38.) Dallas Trahern, Starting Pitcher, GCL Tigers (R )
The Tigers got a pleasant surprise in Trahern – after being expected to attend Oklahoma, he had second thoughts after their pitching coach was fired, and Trahern instead elected to sign with the Tigers. Trahern, who would have been a 4th or 5th round pick had he let it be known he'd sign with a club, put up outstanding numbers in the GCL, with a spectacular ERA of just 0.59. Trahern has plenty of promise, but it's also important to remember he had a very small sample size (just 6 starts) and is still extremely young. Nevertheless, another good season from Trahern (likely at Oneonta) and he'll find himself shooting up the board rather quickly.
37.) Anderson Hernandez, Shortstop, Erie (AA)
Hernandez entered the season viewed as an all-defense, no-offense player. Hernandez used the friendly confines of Jerry Uht Park to his advantage, and had a career year offensively. Hernandez still strikes out far too much and doesn't have enough patience, but his offensive improvements for the year (split between Lakeland and Erie) are reason to have hope – especially with his sporting an OPS over .700, after failing to get to even .600 in 2003. Hernandez's defensive skills will give him plenty of opportunities, but he can make the most of them if he can keep hitting.
36.) Roberto Novoa, Relief Pitcher, Erie (AA)
Novoa, who had a pair of appearances with the Tigers in 2004, impressed at many levels, seeing occasional struggles due to a loss of velocity – although that could very well be attributed to overuse, even though he had been a starter up until his move to the bullpen this season. Despite Novoa's lost velocity, he impressed the Tigers, especially in his second stint in September. Assuming he has a good spring, Novoa will probably find himself back in the Comerica Park bullpen full time next season.
35.) Stephen Young, Second Base, GCL Tigers (R )
Another recent draftee of the Tigers, Young will now be competing with Harvard grad John Birtwell as the smartest player in the organization, as Young recently graduated from Princeton where he was a 4-year star for the Tigers. In his first taste of pro baseball, Young impressed, batting .281 in 42 games in the Gulf Coast League. Young also has very good patience at the plate (walking 22 times while striking out just 17 in 153 at bats), leading many to believe Young could very well be ready for full season West Michigan next season.
34.) Josh Rainwater, Starting Pitcher, Oneonta (SS-A)
Rainwater, after being one of the higher draft picks in the 2003 draft, had a so-so 2nd season of pro baseball. After attending extended spring training, Rainwater spent the season at Oneonta, having his share of struggles. Though his ERA and strikeout numbers weren't bad, Rainwater went 0-6, and struggled with his control at times. However, Rainwater's live arm will allow him plenty of leeway, and the fact that he's only 19 (and won't turn 20 until around Opening Day next season) means he'll be given plenty of opportunities to forget his struggles in '04.
33.) Jay Sborz, Starting Pitcher, GCL Tigers (R )
Like Rainwater, Sborz was selected in the '03 draft directly out of high school. However, unlike Rainwater, Sborz was kept in the GCL for a second straight season to work on his command. Unfortunately, his inconsistencies continued as he continued to show impressive flashes at times, but struggling to keep the ball over the plate at others. Sborz is a big righty with a power arm, but this 2nd round pick will need to start producing if he hopes to be highly-regarded within the organization.
32.) Andrew Kown, Starting Pitcher, Oneonta (SS-A)
Kown came into the organization and impressed in just a handful of starts. Kown won just 1 game, but sported a 2.75 ERA, and a K:BB ratio that approached 3 to 1. The 21-year old Kown will be just another one of the pitchers the Tigers are anxious to see perform in a pitcher's park for an entire season come 2005. Assuming Kown does get the nod with the Whitecaps, Kown could emerge as a quick mover with his solid control and impressive strikeout numbers.
31.) Cristhian Martinez, Starting Pitcher, West Michigan (A-)
After an up-and-down rookie year in 2003, Martinez emerged in 2004, impressing at Oneonta before quickly getting the call up to West Michigan. Likewise, Martinez was equally impressive for the Whitecaps, with a 5-2 record and 2.44 ERA. Martinez doesn't have the strikeout ability of guys like Sborz and Rainwater, but Martinez also has kept his composure on the mound, and had a WHIP just barely above 1 for the season between Oneonta and West Michigan. Martinez could be looked at to head the Lakeland staff in 2005, but with his impressive 2004, a jump all the way to Erie might not be out of the question.
Check back Wednesday for the 3rd part of the 5-part series, when we debut the 30 through 21 prospects in the organization.