Here's a pre-Christmas update on prospects that have been traded over the last two months. There are a few additional guys we'll cover in our next mailbag.
Evan Rust, RHP (D-Rays to Cardinals in Tino Martinez trade)
Rust is a 25-year-old right-hander, signed as an undrafted free agent out of St. Mary's College in 2000. He posted 12 saves with a 2.96 ERA in 2003, split between Class A and Double-A. His combined K/BB was decent at 61/25 in 70 innings. Rust has fair stuff, including a 88-92 mph fastball with sinking action. His slider is decent but not wonderful, and he doesn't have the superior-type stuff that scouts prefer in a major-league closer. He projects as a middle reliever.
John-Paul Davis, 1B (D-Rays to Cardinals in Martinez trade)
The D-Rays drafted Davis in the 22nd round in 2001, from Arkansas Tech. He hit .284 with 16 homers and a .378 OBP in 2003, split between Class A and Double-A. He can hit fairly well, but he is limited defensively to first base, and he doesn't hit quite enough for that position. He is a right-handed hitter, which will make it more difficult for him to get a major-league job.
Mike Nannini, RHP (Cubs to Marlins in Derrek Lee-Hee Seop Choi trade)
Nannini was originally drafted by the Astros in the supplemental first round in 1998. He was traded to the Cubs in 2002 for Tom Gordon. His fastball is mediocre at a consistent 88-89 mph. His curveball and changeup are very good and he has excellent command, posting a 158/47 K/BB ratio in 154 innings this year for Double-A West Tennessee. Scouts worry that Nannini's mediocre fastball will preclude him from big major-league success, but he has a good feel for pitching and could emerge as a Brad Radke-type starter.
Jorge de la Rosa, LHP (Boston to Arizona to Milwaukee)
One of Boston's few actual prospects, de la Rosa went to Arizona in the Curt Schilling trade, then on to Milwaukee in the Richie Sexson trade. He has a live left arm, with a 90-94 mph fastball. His curveball and changeup are sometimes mediocre, sometimes very good, and he's made strides in improving his control. He posted a 2.98 ERA with a 119/48 K/BB ratio between Double-A and Triple-A in '03. He could begin the year in the Milwaukee rotation.
Mike Goss, OF (Boston to Arizona in Curt Schilling trade)
Goss was drafted by the Red Sox in the 11th round in '02 out of Jackson State University. He is a speed demon and swiped 29 bases this year at Class A Augusta. But he hit just .245, didn't show much plate discipline and lacks power. A left-handed hitter, he has good athleticism and speed, but at this point doesn't really know how to play baseball.
Chris Capuano, LHP (Arizona to Milwaukee in Richie Sexson trade)
Capuano was selected in the eighth round in '99 out of Duke. He missed 2002 with Tommy John surgery, but recovered successfully and pitched well in '03. His fastball is average at 88 mph, but his curveball, slider, and changeup are solid pitches, and he throws strikes. He appeared in nine games for the D-Backs at the end of the year, posting a 4.64 ERA. But this was deceptive; his component ERA, what you'd expect his ERA to be considering his K/IP, H/IP, and K/BB ratios, was much better at 3.45. He is a major sleeper for 2004 and could be one of Milwaukee's best pitchers.
Bobby Korecky, RHP (Philadelphia to Minnesota in Eric Milton trade)
Korecky was drafted in the 19th round in '02 from the University of Michigan. He posted 25 saves in Class A this year, with a 2.26 ERA and a 46/9 K/BB ratio in 60 innings. The K/BB was excellent, but his strikeout rate was mediocre for the Florida State League. Korecky's fastball is average at 89-90 mph, but he has a good slider and a deceptive delivery. He projects as a middle reliever at the major-league level.
Adam Wainwright, RHP (Atlanta to St. Louis in J.D. Drew trade)
One of Atlanta's best prospects, Wainwright instantly becomes the best player in the thin St. Louis minor-league system. A tall right-hander with a 92 mph fastball, Wainwright looks to be a durable and consistent starting pitcher. He can place his curveball and changeup at any spot in the strike zone. His 128/37 K/BB in 150 innings in Double-A was impressive, along with his 3.37 ERA. He could use a half-season in Triple-A to put the finishing touches on his game, but could see significant action in The Show in '04. He projects as a rotation anchor down the road.
Yhency Brazoban, RHP (Yankees to Dodgers in Kevin Brown trade)
From the Dominican Republic, Brazoban was originally an outfielder. He didn't hit much against advanced pitching, so he converted to the mound in '02 due to his strong arm. He hits 95 mph and improved his slider in '03. He was very effective in Class A, but was hit hard after an ill-advised promotion to Double-A. He needs another year to figure out the finer points of mound work, but could develop into an overpowering middle reliever or closer.
Brandon Weeden, RHP (Yankees to Dodgers in Brown trade)
The Yankees drafted Weeden in the second round in 2002, out of high school in Oklahoma. He is somewhat raw, needing to improve his slider and changeup. His fastball is solid at 92 mph, with more velocity possible as he matures. Weeden posted a 2.58 ERA in short-season ball in '03, and should move to a full-season league in '04. He will need a better changeup to thrive as a starter, but could be a closer down the road.
Sandy Nin, RHP (Toronto to Colorado in Justin Speier-Mark Hendrickson-Joe Kennedy trade)
Nin went from Toronto to Colorado as part of the three-way deal between those two clubs and Tampa Bay. From the Dominican Republic, Nin features a fastball clocked as high as 95 mph at times. He also has a decent slider and his command is excellent. He walked just 19 guys in 131 innings this year at Class A Charleston, posting a 2.89 ERA. Despite his velocity, he struck out just 87, so it remains to be seen how he'll hold up at higher levels. He may be better off in the bullpen.
The 2004 Baseball Prospect Book is almost finished, and we remain on schedule for shipping the first week of February. If you've ordered, you will be receiving a Top 50/50 Prospects List and a Player Grade List via e-mail before Christmas, to help with fantasy draft planning. If you haven't ordered and are interested, check Johnsickels.com for details.
John Sickels is the author of the 2004 Baseball Prospect Book, which can be ordered only at his Web site, johnsickels.com. He is also the author of Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation, which will be released just before Christmas by Brassey's. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com.