Futures Game Preview: The World Hitters

This is a continuation of my series reviewing the Futures Game rosters. Yesterday, we looked at the pitchers on the American squad. Now, we have the hitters they will face in Anaheim.

Chun Chen | C | Cleveland Indians | Age 21 | Low-A (Sally)
.314 AVG / .373 OBP / .539 SLG | 15 BB / 33 K | 215 PA

The Indians have been quiet players in the Asian market for awhile, but now they really have a symbol for the hard work in Chen. After two years in short-season ball, where Chen posted high walk rates and solid CS% numbers but little else, the Taiwanese is enjoying a very good full season debut. Chen has gap power and the defensive skills to stay behind the plate — given the positional adjustment that comes with, the Futures Game will be a nice coming-out-party for his prospect status.

Wilin Rosario | C | Colorado Rockies | Age 21 | Double-A (Texas)
.274 AVG / .328 OBP / .475 SLG | 13 BB / 42 K | 197 PA

Like Chen, no one questions Rosario’s ability to stay behind the plate — he’s posted a CS% above 40% in every season of his career. His offensive skills are still fairly raw, but he has some power in the bat, with the potential to hit about 15-20 home runs annually. Most likely, he’s a back-up catcher that provides the ability to hit lefties and provide some good defense.

Yonder Alonso | 1B/LF | Cincinnati Reds | Age 23 | AA/AAA

.245 AVG / .324 OBP / .368 SLG | 29 BB / 44 K | 293 PA

In my series on first-round picks, it was definitely clear that by the time Double-A rolls around, the good players usually separate themselves from the busts. This doesn’t bode well for Alonso, who has never posted an ISO above .194 at any level. Given his defensive limitations, his highly regarded prospect status is waning. He’s one I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Reds trade in a deadline deal.

Alex Liddi | 1B/3B | Seattle Mariners | Age 21 | Double-A (Southern)
.290 AVG / .359 OBP / .467 SLG | 24 BB / 64 K | 288 PA

After a .345/.411/.594 season in the bizarro world of High Desert (California League) last season, I thought Liddi might have an awful season in a tough West Tenn environment this year. But he’s held his own, and the reports are much better than the non-prospect tag I would have put on him when I saw the guy in 2007-2008. His road mark last year was .308/.351/.498, so he’s establishing himself as someone who will hit in that range. I look forward to see him in batting practice to see what projection might be left in that bat.

Brett Lawrie | 2B | Milwaukee Brewers | Age 20 | Double-A (Southern)

.300 AVG / .361 OBP / .497 SLG | 26 BB / 65 K | 319 PA

It seems like this was a season of many Low-A to Double-A aggressive assignments, and Lawrie is certainly handling his own in Huntsville. The question is never his bat and always his defense, and it will be a talking point in Anaheim, as he’s the only second baseman on this roster. Lawrie could stand to add a little more patience, but his overall hitting mechanics are very good for second base — the question is whether they’d be enough for left field.

Pedro Baez | 3B | Los Angeles Dodgers | Age 22 | High-A (California)
.277 AVG / .318 OBP / .398 SLG | 5 BB / 19 K | 89 PA

Probably the weirdest selection to the World roster, as Baez offers no great track record, prospect status, or even a unique country to add to the Countries Represented number. He’s a guy that has the potential to put on a show in batting practice, but he’s also a long-shot to make the big leagues. However, we don’t know a ton, because he’s been injured very often in his career.

Luis Jimenez | 3B | Los Angeles Angels | Age 22 | A- / A+
.303 AVG / .348 OBP / .488 SLG | 15 BB / 35 K | 268 PA

Another player coming off injury, as Jimenez missed the 2009 season after a breakout in the Pioneer League the previous season. It seems that he’s a third baseman in name only, and will face the one-win WAR negative adjustment that comes with a move to first base. He’s neither patient or powerful enough for that, so I don’t see a bright Major League future. He will be the hometown boy in Angel Stadium, however.

Pedro Ciriaco | SS | Arizona Diamondbacks | Age 24 | Triple-A (PCL)
.243 AVG / .264 OBP / .389 SLG | 7 BB / 37 K | 254 PA

Getting a roster together for the Futures Game is no easy team, as some teams will restrict a majority of their players, and in some places, you don’t have a lot of options. This is how someone like Ciriaco makes the team, as he isn’t the Future for the Arizona organization by any slice of the imagination. Hopefully the manager will realize this, and we’ll see the more exciting option (see below) for the majority of the game.

Hak-Ju Lee | SS | Chicago Cubs | Age 19 | Low-A (Midwest)
.271 AVG / .337 OBP / .340 SLG | 23 BB / 42 K | 279 PA

On this weak and relatively unexciting World offense, Lee is the one to watch. After a very slow start in his first 3 weeks, Lee is hitting .280/.355/.352 since April 26. His patience is a good sign, and Lee is already an excellent baserunner. His defense is flashy and exciting, but still mistake-prone. We’ll likely hear varying reports on his power potential, but he’ll be striving for average, if anything. This has been an excellent first half for the South Korean.

Ozzie Martinez | SS | Florida Marlins | Age 22 | Double-A (Southern)
.313 AVG / .408 OBP / .396 SLG | 39 BB / 33 K | 325 PA

He’s punchless, there’s no way around that. But Martinez has now bought into exercising patience at the plate, and when teamed with good contact skills, it leads to something like a .313 average and .408 on-base. The slugging isn’t ever going to come, and in Florida, neither is the shortstop position. He’s probably a utility infielder in the end, but there’s worse options out there for your vacant SS position.

Gorkys Hernandez | CF | Pittsburgh Pirates | Age 22 | Double-A (Eastern)
.250 AVG / .326 OBP / .320 SLG | 26 BB / 65 K | 291 PA

I feel like Hernandez has been around forever, but here he is, just 22 years old and in his second tour of Double-A. Hernandez is the pride and joy of the TotalZone defensive system, and it’s starting to seem more and more like his value might only lie there. The power isn’t coming, and he strikes out too much to sustain a high-and-empty batting average. He’s a fifth outfielder, and we’re starting to see that being traded twice wasn’t a coincidence.

Carlos Peguero | LF/RF | Seattle Mariners | Age 23 | Double-A (Southern)
.299 AVG / .388 OBP / .523 SLG | 32 BB / 83 K | 304 PA

Peguero going tit-for-tat with Mike Stanton for the minor league home run lead was fun in April, but it didn’t seem sustainable given his strikeout rate. His walk rate is commendable, and I think he might be able to hold down the strong side of a platoon some day. But it has to be mentioned that since May 3, Peguero has just six home runs and a .254/.359/.400 batting line. He should put on a batting practice show, however.

Francisco Peguero | CF/RF | SF Giants | Age 22 | High-A (California)
.276 AVG / .299 OBP / .427 SLG | 5 BB / 46 K | 235 PA

We’re getting late into this article, and it’s getting frustrating to continually portray pessimism with this roster. But I just can’t have a lot of faith in a guy with five walks in 235 plate appearances, and nine home runs in about 1,000 stateside plate appearances

Eury Perez | CF/RF | Washington Nationals | Age 20 | Low-A (Sally)
.257 AVG / .303 OBP / .308 SLG | 11 BB / 40 K | 240 PA

And for that matter, I’m beginning to think the U.S. vs. World structure of the Futures Game is getting stale. It’s probably time to break into American and National League teams, while still weighing diversity when choosing the rosters. Perez is just another guy that the American outfielders can play shallow, and a guy that left his patience in short-season ball.

Wilkin Ramirez | OF | Detroit Tigers | Age 24 | AA/AAA
.240 AVG / .303 OBP / .515 SLG | 24 BB / 97 K | 287 PA

A familiar face to the Futures Game, and a guy currently sporting a 1.203 career big league OPS (in 13 plate appearances). Ramirez is adding centerfield to his resume this year, so he’ll be a nice fourth outfielder option capable of playing all three spots. Ramirez strikes out too much to be a regular, but he has enough other skills to work in the Majors: power, a bit of patience, versatility, and, well, power.

Will be back on Monday with the world pitching staff, and hopefully, a rosier outlook.

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6 years 21 hours ago

Regarding Alonso, a few things to consider:

1) He was never expected to have elite power, more of a high AVG/OBP, Youkilis type. Youkilis never really slugged in the minors and only broke .200 ISO in his age 29 season.
2) He broke a hamate bone June of last year, an injury which tends to rob people of power for a year.
3) He’s been playing some LF in addition 1B, which can’t be helping any.

That said, with Votto entrenched at 1B and Alonso not taking particularly well to LF, I would not be the least disappointed if he was part of a package which landed the Reds an impact player for the 2nd half.

6 years 20 hours ago

His name is Chun-Hsiu Chen, not Chun Chen. You don’t say Chien Wang, but Chien-Ming Wang, right? “Chun-Hsiu” is his first name, you don’t break it.

E Dub
E Dub
6 years 19 hours ago

I like the idea of moving away from the World vs. U.S. format as well, Bryan. Rick, well said on Alonso. He’s definitely been an enigma as Bryan writes, but points 2 and 3 are especially well-taken and are what came to my mind while reading his capsule above. Can’t help wondering how things would look right now if the Reds had had the fortitude and moxie to take Smoak instead. And yes, I fully expect Alonso to be part of a trade for relief help in the second half, though he’s not exactly drivign his value up at the moment.

5 years 11 months ago

Isn’t it pretty obvious that orgs did not let some of their prospects go to this game? Wilmer Flores? Yamaico Navarro even. Miguel Montero (yes, he’s been there before, but that’s not unprecedented). The list goes on of international guys who can make up that roster. There are more international players than ever to make up a solid roster, not less. The question is why aren’t they at this game?

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5 years 10 months ago

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Rebbeca Fixari
4 years 9 months ago

I’ve a cockroach on my pillow. Wanna see it?