The Triple-A All-Star Game is what it is, with a few outstanding prospects sprinkled among the middle-aged veterans and the guys who are there because every team is guaranteed one representative. (Sound familiar?) The best prospects in the game included outfielders Austin Jackson (Yankees) and Drew Stubbs (Reds), and especially shortstop Alcides Escobar, who is generally regarded as J.J. Hardy's heir apparent in Milwaukee.
How did those guys look? You got me. I'm no scout, and about all I noticed from my seat in the stands is that Stubbs is really, really fast (but you already know that, if you pay attention to such things). From where I was sitting, I came up with one comment and one question ...
Question: Do you know that Charlie Haeger is still only 25 years old? I guess I write about Haeger every year, and I guess I'll keep writing about him every summer until he hangs up the spikes. Which I continue to maintain might not happen for quite some time, considering that Haeger (in case you missed this earlier) is only 25 years old and throws mostly knuckleballs.
As you know, knuckleballers tend to mature late, so it's a bit worrisome that Haeger's best work came when he was 22 and 23 while pitching for the White Sox's Triple-A club in Charlotte. Since then, his strikeout rate has badly deteriorated. Haeger currently pitches for the Dodgers' affiliate in Albuquerque, and it's not likely that he's anywhere near the big club's radar screen. Let's not give up on him yet, though; Tim Wakefield didn't win his first game in the majors until three days before his 26th birthday. And just look at him now.*
* On the other hand, 28-year-old knuckleballer Charlie Zink -- who some years ago I foolishly tried to anoint as a top prospect -- seems to have cratered this season, with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts.
Comment: Thanks to a BP fastball, Haeger gave up a couple of runs. His successor on the mound, Nashville's R.J. Swindle, has been hammered in a couple of quick trials in the majors (first with the Phillies last season, then with the Brewers this season). But he's left-handed and he throws a pitch I don't think I've ever seen before, a sidearm curveball that clocks around 50 on the radar gun. You really have to see it to believe it, and I hope you get the chance (you should, based on Swindle's numbers anyway).