Deeper Mixed LeaguesJair Jurrjens, RHP, Atlanta BravesJair Jurrjens
is a 22-year-old from Curacao who came over from Detroit in the Edgar Renteria
trade with Gorkys Hernandez
. He has two above average fastballs and a change up with good arm speed and sinking action. His command is also good and he has an athletic body. Jurrjens struggles with his curveball and his delivery is long. While he changes speeds well, he also leaves pitches up in the zone.
However, durability is his major concern, as he has a lot of effort at his finish and has already established an injury history. Jurrjens has a chance to be the number five starter for Atlanta this year, but because his opposing batting average is likely to hover around .290, it could be ugly times for those involved. He may actually provide some nice win upside now, but likely needs more time in the high minors to make his ratios acceptable.Brandon Jones, LF, Atlanta Braves
Plain and simple, if Brandon Jones
glove was where his bat currently is, he'd likely move up onto the first list, and possibly to the top of it for 2008. He's the complete package, with great bat speed, above average power and batting average ability. His power is also projectable and because of improved plate discipline, could continue to grow. While his speed is average, he has great base instincts, and has the ability to possibly steal 15-20 bases annually. While his arm is strong, he still has accuracy issues.
Left field is still up in the air in Atlanta next season, and while Matt Diaz
's bat is pretty special against lefties (and none too shabby against righties), and he has a better glove, there's no doubt that Jones is the Braves preference for the future. If Jones gets extended time there, he could be a Rookie of the Year darkhorse. As it stands now, he'll probably start the year off at Triple-A Richmond while Diaz starts in left for the Braves, though all it will take is a small slump by Diaz to give Jones a shot. Monitor very closely. If it turns out that the Braves carry Jones with the team to start the season, his value increases substantially, and he moves up into the top list.Chris Volstad, RHP, Florida MarlinsChris Volstad
was a 2005 first-rounder, and a tall one at that. Standing in at 6'7", Volstad's largest problem is that he gives up too many hits considering his above average stuff. He pitches to contact due to a below average change-up, mainly because of a failure to repeat his arm speed. He retooled his curveball to induce more grounders, which also tends to inflate the hit rate.
Because Volstad is known for his impeccable poise and ability to take in instruction, it stands to reason that he may learn to get around his high hit rate. His body is very projectable, and it's not like Florida's current pitching staff is reliable health-wise or quality-wise. But because he's so new to the upper levels, this could be some time away. He'll likely start 2008 at Double-A Carolina, and if he can start missing more bats, he'll likely see a mid-season call-up as a fifth starter. What that means, however, remains to be seen for this year.Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
An extremely projectable pitcher, Carlos Carrasco
has two electric fastballs, a 72-78 mph curve and the best change-up in the Phillies system. Impressive command and arm action, it stands to reason that because he can repeat his ¾ arm delivery that he should stay relatively injury free. One concern is that he does pitch with effort, which could wear him down early in games. He also struggled after his promotion, leading to command/hr rate woes as well as struggles with runners on base. However, he still projects as a power ground ball pitcher, and he is still quite young for how far he's progressed. The question that remains is will he be able to solve his inconsistency?
While it is unlikely that Carrasco is called up this season, there is a remote chance that he gets bullpen work down the stretch for a playoff run. Whether or not Philadelphia wants to toy with that inconsistency in pressure filled games remains to be seen. There is also the small chance that Adam Eaton
does not work out, and if Carrasco is dominating the Eastern League, he's given the opportunity. He could definitely move up this list, and has a bright future ahead of him as one of the best young arms in the game.