If you’re looking for talented and promising pitching then you’ve come to the right place. This organization can certainly challenge the Rays for the best pitching prospects in the American League East (if not the entire league). The club has recently graduated Chris Tillman, Jason Berken, Brad Bergesen, and David Hernandez with mixed success.
At just 21 years of age, Tillman has the highest ceiling – that of a No. 1 if all goes well – of the quartet. The right-hander posted a 6.10 FIP in 12 big league starts in ’09 but it was a year of learning, which he should be all the stronger for in 2010. Bergesen is a back-of-the-rotation warrior with modest stuff, a promising sinker and good ground-ball rate (50%). Hernandez flashes some of the nastiest stuff on the staff but his below-average command led to negative values on all his pitches (including the 93 mph fastball). Berken is most likely a long-term reliever and fringe Major Leaguer.
Ready to contribute full-time in 2010 is Brian Matusz, who made eight big league starts in ’09 but managed to hold on to his rookie eligibility. The lefty could rival Tillman for the No. 1 man in the rotation within the next few years. The club also has some promising arms in Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, and Brandon Erbe. Kam Mickolio and Troy Patton have potential, as well, and the former has a shot at being the club’s closer of the future.
At the plate and in the field, the club acquired a promising third baseman from the Dodgers last season in Josh Bell. He should be ready to take over the position from Miguel Tejada by 2011, if not sooner. Across the diamond we find Brandon Snyder, a sweet-swinging first baseman (and former catcher) with fringe-average power for the position. The minor league hitting depth is not as impressive as the pitching, but the club does have some promising, young players in the Majors.
Matt Wieters has the potential to be an absolute star behind the dish and the 23-year-old hitter posted a .330 wOBA in his 96-game debut. He has much more to offer. The club also has an exciting, young outfield with the likes of Nolan Reimold (age 26), Adam Jones (24), and Nick Markakis (26). The slick-fielding Michael Aubrey is already 27 but he’s appeared in just 46 MLB games and could be a late bloomer thanks to injuries.
The club nabbed some interesting prospects in the ’09 draft in shortstop Mychal Givens and left-hander Cameron Coffey. The club toed the line a bit in ’09 (at least by going inexpensive in the first round before collecting quite a few over-slot players) after spending big dollars on Matusz and Wieters in recent years.
The organization has done a nice job of drafting in recent years, especially in the pitching department and when the organization was not afraid to spend a little money. Players like Bell, Jones, and Tillman were brought in through smart trades. General manager Andy MacPhail continues to entrust scouting director Joe Jordan (entering his six season) and farm director David Stockstill (third) with overseeing the club’s young flock of players. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?