Five Cups of Coffee

Several notable baseball prospects have earned a some playing time in the major leagues since my last assessment of the September callups. I’d like to introduce you to five prospects that are worth watching during the final week of the regular season.

The following projections were developed via FIPro, a projection system that accounts for park and league effects of past and future contexts, while considering comparable minor leaguers’ development.

Devern Hansack

Boston Red Sox | Position: RHP | DOB: 02/05/1978
Hansack is older than the typical prospect because he was pitching in Nicaragua after the Houston Astros cut him three years ago. A Red Sox scout spotted him at an international tournament nine months ago, and since then Hansack led the Portland Sea Dogs to the Eastern League championship and earned a promotion to Boston.

2006   AA  3.26 
2007  AAA  4.10 
2008  MLB  4.61       
2009  MLB  4.57

Hansack’s list of comparable pitchers at age 28 consists of unspectacular journeymen, but his projection is as good as it is on the strength of his baseline performance in the Eastern League this year. Hansack uses four pitches and consistently demonstrated above-average command this year. He will probably pitch out of the bullpen if he ever makes it to the major leagues again, and his projection suggests he could be useful in a limited role.

Philip Humber

New York Mets | Position: RHP | DOB: 12/21/1982
New York’s first round pick from the 2004 draft made his major league debut in the ninth inning of yesterday’s game versus the Nationals.

2006   A+  2.37
2006   AA  2.88 
2007  AAA  4.28 
2008  MLB  4.78       
2009  MLB  4.61

Humber has made a successful recovery from Tommy John surgery and could be an important part of the Mets pitching staff over the next few years. He is talented enough to outperform the above projection, but it’s difficult to inspire an above-average short-term forecast with only 35 innings pitched against Double-A competition. If Humber stays healthy and impresses the organization enough to earn a full-time role with the Mets, he could be a sleeper candidate for next year’s Rookie of the Year award.

Pat Misch

San Francisco Giants | Position: LHP | DOB: 08/18/1981
Misch pitched a scoreless inning of relief in his major league debut last week.

2006   AA  2.26
2006  AAA  4.02 
2007  MLB  4.38  
2008  MLB  4.30       
2009  MLB  4.54

Misch has always had outstanding command, but he gained velocity on his fastball this year, and has been able to use his excellent changeup more effectively. The 25-year-old could contribute league-average innings at the back of the Giants rotation as soon as next year.

Miguel Montero

Arizona Diamondbacks | Position: Catcher | DOB: 07/09/1983
Miguel Montero experienced a remarkable breakout season when he launched 26 home runs during the 2005 season. He has continued to play well in the Southern and Pacific Leagues this year and earned a promotion to the Diamondbacks two weeks ago.

2006   AA  .270 .362 .436 
2006  AAA  .321 .396 .515 
2007  AAA  .284 .349 .444 
2008  MLB  .273 .332 .427        
2009  MLB  .271 .332 .422

Montero’s list of comparable players at this stage of his career includes big league regulars such as Ronny Paulino and Ramon Hernandez. Montero has continued to improve behind the plate and develop more patience in the batter’s box, but he struggles against left-handed pitching. He could be a useful part of a platoon with the Diamondbacks as soon as next year.

Juan Morillo

Colorado Rockies | Position: RHP | DOB: 11/05/1983
The Rockies promoted Morillo last week and he made his major league debut on Sunday.

2006   AA  4.62 
2007  AAA  5.15 
2008  MLB  5.38       
2009  MLB  5.23

Morillo is best known for possessing a fastball that can reach 100 mph. The 22-year-old walked five or more batters per nine innings for the fourth year in a row, however. The Rockies say Morillo is getting more consistent, but Morillo never put together two starts in a row where he walked fewer than five batters in a game during the final two months of the Texas league season.

The Rockies decided to give him a cup of coffee anyway. Morillo’s first big league start was a disaster. He walked three batters, hit another batter, and surrendered a grand slam before recording the first out of yesterday’s game versus the Braves. Morillo’s electric arm will always earn attention, but his projection suggests his persistent control problems will prevent him from becoming even an average major league pitcher before age 25.

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