We’ll take a quick break from previewing the top impact rookies for 2009 to take a look at some of the prospects that were sent down to the minor leagues in recent days. This post will touch on some of the pitchers that are near-MLB-ready, while a later post will look at the hitters.
Brett Cecil (Toronto) had an impressive spring and almost made the club despite having just been drafted in 2007. The former college reliever was also slowed by arm problems early in 2008 and had a strict pitch count for much of the season. Now a starter, the southpaw will begin the year in Triple-A to work on his fastball command, but he could surface before long with the likes of Matt Clement and Scott Richmond still in the mix for the Jays starting rotation. He has above-average stuff – including an 88-93 mph fastball – for a lefty.
Jose Ceda (Florida) was acquired in the off-season from the Cubs for reliever Kevin Gregg. Although still raw, Ceda was considered a long-shot candidate for saves in the Florida bullpen for 2009. A sore shoulder has kept the hard-throwing right-hander from pitching in game situations this spring. The 22 year old struck out 42 batters in 30.1 Double-A innings in 2008.
Teammates Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman (Baltimore) are arguably the top two pitchers in the Orioles system but both were reassigned to the minor league camp and will open the year in either Double-A or Triple-A. Given the state of the big club’s starting rotation (Adam Eaton, Danys Baez, etc.), both pitchers could be in the Majors by May or June. Arrieta, 23, allowed just 80 hits in 113 High-A innings in 2008. Tillman, 20, allowed 115 hits in 135.2 Double-A innings in 2008. Both have the ceiling of No. 2 starters at the Major League level. David Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A after appearing in just one spring game (and one inning) in which he walked two. He could see his first MLB action as a long man in the bullpen at some point in 2009, although he could also get a shot at starting. Hernandez allowed 112 hits in 142 Double-A innings in 2008.
With the veteran starters pitching well, the Cardinals felt comfortable sending down pitching prospects Jess Todd and Mitch Boggs. Todd, a reliever-turned-starter, struggled a bit this spring by allowing nine hits in 6.1 innings and will likely begin the year in Triple-A. He’s the clubs best starting pitching prospect, so he could make his MLB debut before too long if Chris Carpenter‘s injury woes pop up again, or if Joel Pineiro and/or Todd Wellemeyer start pitching like their old selves. Boggs’ ceiling is below that of Todd’s but he also has more MLB experience, after making eight appearances in 2008. That said, he allowed a 7.41 ERA at the MLB level. He’s battled shoulder problems this spring so he’ll get that sorted out in Triple-A.
Wade Davis and Mitch Talbot (Tampa Bay) both received a demotion to Triple-A, thanks to the club’s depth in the starting rotation (Who would have said that two years ago?). Davis is considered the club’s brightest pitching prospect (not named David Price) and could be the first starter called up if injuries strike. Talbot is a little under-the-radar as a prospect, but he’s won 26 games in the past two seasons at Triple-A and has little left to prove in the minors. The 25-year-old hurler is a little too hittable, though, and is probably a long-term reliever at the MLB level.
Although technically no longer a rookie, Ian Kennedy (New York AL) has fewer than 60 innings pitched at the Major League level and he was sent packing with a veteran-heavy rotation (plus Joba) already established. Kennedy is quickly falling out of favor in New York and he did not help himself this spring with a 5.91 ERA in four games. He was also out-pitched by fellow youngster Phil Hughes who survived the cuts, although the latter has been struggling with his control.
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