Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prospect Spotlight w/Reggie

Back in the glory days of Sports Talk radio in the mid-90s, we would sometimes try to make White Sox fans sound even more like complete morons than they really are. Before the days of caller ID, and thus before spoof, we would call a radio program repeatedly with different personas. Much of the background can be found. Our accents were key to characters like HP Bob, Jorge from LA, Christian, Tutti, Milk, Roheet, & Balfro, whom we described in our “What’s Up with Yonder Alonso?” post.

One time, I’ll never forget, Reggie from Gurnee called in as a Sox fan. This was during the apex of Cal Ripken fever, merely weeks before he’d break Lou Gehrig’s record. Cal was bringing people back to the game of baseball, with everyday class, signing autographs until everyone was satisfied, being available for the media, for the fans, for his team, and for Baseball.

So, Reggie called in with what appeared to be a bit of slur in his speech, but passion in his voice. He wanted to vent at the media for – in his words – “Why everyone gotta always talk about ‘When Cal Ripken gonna break the streak? When Cal Ripken gonna break the streak?’ Why is no-one talkin’ about Frank Thomas, best player eber?”

Often times, our craziest outbursts would result in getting hung up on and having the last 5 seconds of our call dropped from the broadcast. On this blessed evening, though, the hosts decided to have a go at it. One of the guys shrieked, “Cal Ripken is single-handedly bringing fans back to baseball. He’s signing kids’ autographs for hours before and after every game!”

Reggie would have none of it, “I don’t think they should want him autograph! He no good, no more.”

Cal wasn’t really playing at his Hall of Fame peak, being 34 years old and presumably not on EPO. Still, he was in the midst of the 4.1 WAR season. The train sort of went off the track when Reggie started whining that not enough people talk about Harold Baines and Jack McDowell, who “everyone knows is the best pitcher ever!”

We got to the point where one of the hosts calmly, took a step back, and softly stated, “This is the most insane rhetoric I’ve ever heard.”

He was right. Reggie didn’t have a wobbly leg to stand on. Frank Thomas had just won his 2nd consecutive MVP award, which is voted on by the media.

As nonsequitorial introductions go, I’m pretty comfortable with that anecdote. We’re here to take a quick peek at another highly anticipated baseball prospect to get a grasp of how excited we should be for his debut & career. Today’s guest will be Toronto Blue Jays farmhand, Catcher, J.P. Arencibia.

We heard a couple of years ago that this guy was another version of the truth. A power hitter who wears the tools of ignorance will be valuable to some team, much like any left-hander who can basically throw strikes.

J.P. was the 21st overall pick in the 2007 draft, which when talking catchers will always be thought of as the Matt Wieters draft.

Since becoming a professional, he’s actually shown more power than in college. 27 HR's in 2008, 21 HR's in 2009, and 29 HR's already this year! We are here for the power, and it's trending very nicely for the Blue Jays. A common calamity that prospects suffer from, strikeouts, also afflicts Arencibia. His strikeout percentage coming into this year, by year and level…

2007 Low A: 22.5%
2008 High A: 17.6%
2008 AA: 20.0%
2009 AAA: 22.8%

This year in AAA, he’s improved his strikeout to a still to 18.7%, but his BB% is, albeit a career high, still only 7.8%.

Interestingly, looking at his Minor League Splits has shown that he hits lefties better in odd years, with better results versus righties in even years.

Staying on the very nice Minor League Splits website, we see that Arencibia’s stat line, adjusted for park effects and luck is a robust .316/.370/.633. His Major League equivalent numbers project 19 HR's, but a more pedestrian line of .251/.296/.488.

It looks like he could be a good catcher, but not an overall offensive force no matter where you play him. Maybe he's as good as Buster Posey. I don't think he'll be as good as Carlos Santana. Maybe Matt Napoli can be a comparable player, but that’s just a gut feeling. Who knows? Maybe he can be like Gary Carter and get inducted into the Hall of Fame like the other Expo, who’s going in today, Andre Dawson.

Congratulations, Andre. You’re the best. We can’t wait for the speech, from a man of few words.

No comments:

Post a Comment