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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More BA Top 20's

Belatedly, first, about the Midwest League, containing exactly one Angels prospect, Rafael Rodriguez:
Rodriguez ranked 14th on this list two years ago, then got sidetracked by a tender elbow that restricted him to seven starts in 2004. His violent delivery was the culprit, and when he toned it down this season he stayed healthy and pitched a career-high 146 innings.

There are similarities between him and Francisco Rodriguez, who's no relation. They have the same build and comparable stuff, though Rafael pitches with less intensity. His out pitch is his mid-80s slider, which is saying something considering he also has a 90-94 mph fastball.

If he can't refine his changeup, he'll also wind up in the bullpen. Rafael tries to challenge hitters with his fastball up in the zone too often, which led to rough outings following his promotion to high Class A.

In the Sally League, BA puts two Dodger prospects in the list, with Scott Elbert taking first place:
Scott Elbert: The Dodgers sent Columbus both of their 2004 first-round picks, Elbert and third baseman Blake DeWitt, and SAL observers were impressed with both. Elbert finished the season in such strong fashion—he went 5-1, 1.96 in his final 12 starts—that he earned top billing on this list as an athletic lefthander with quality pitches and enough control to dominate with them.

As the year progressed, Elbert showed increased ability to harness his 88-93 mph fastball and his power curveball with plenty of depth. His curve doesn't have 12-6 break and sometimes has more sweeping action like a slider, but it's a swing-and-miss pitch that locked up even experienced hitters.

His changeup made great strides and is average at times. One American League scout saw command issues with Elbert's secondary stuff and a mechanical breakdown that left him leaving those pitches up in the zone, but the consensus was that he has the athletic ability to refine and maintain a sound delivery.

“He made quick bats look like palm trees through peanut butter,” Greenville manager Chad Epperson said. “He had velocity, mound presence and composure. Early in the year he started to open his shoulder a little, but he cleaned it up, and if he stays in his delivery he has a very bright future.”

Blake DeWitt: DeWitt didn’t put up flashy numbers in his first full pro season. Instead, he earned the respect of SAL managers by grinding his way through the season, never letting the game get the better of his pretty lefthanded swing.

DeWitt lets the ball get deep and trusts his hands, allowing him to sting line drives to all parts of the park, though he still needs to learn to pull the ball more. He showed the ability to make adjustments, such as better recognizing breaking balls, allowing him to bat .312 over his final 47 games before a late promotion to high Class A. His defense at third base, a new position for him as a pro, wasn’t consistent, and one scout mentioned a move to second base could be in his future.

“I liked his approach and I liked his swing,” an AL scout said. “He has hands that work, but the power always will be a little suspect because of his size.”


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