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Part II: Interview with Alex Eisenberg of Baseball-Intellect

About three weeks ago, I had a chance to converse with Alex Eisenberg, who's in charge of Baseball-Intellect, focusing scouting young prospects and analysis of player's mechanics. If you want to check out Part I of that interview you can do it right here. With that, I bring you Part II of that interview, which focuses on some prospects that you've probably read in Ray's AFL updates.


TROR: Give me one prospect from each league that you think aren't being talked about or rated highly enough.

Alex: Oh man...I can't limit it to just one.

I don't know where other publications will rate these players, but here are some guys that under the radar, sleepers, and/or aren't household names.

- Nick Hagadone, LHP, Cleveland Indians - He's highly regarded, but people sleep on him.  He's coming off TJ surgery and he's a bit old for his level, but he's a lefty with plus stuff who misses bats, keeps the ball on the ground...command is a bit of a question mark, but it projects to be solid enough.  The Indians are being very conservative with him.  He could be a front of the rotation starter or a multi-inning reliever out of the bullpen.

- Ryan Westmoreland, CF, Boston Red Sox - Not sure he'll be underrated, but he's not a household name.  He's got an excellent blend of power and patience and the Red Sox are extremely high on him.  Durability is a concern as he suffered a fractured clavical, just a year after tearing his rotator cuff.

- Zach Stewart, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays - He'll be the Blue Jay's No. 1 prospect, so he won't be underrated but he's also not a household name.  Potential No. 3 starter or top flight set-up man...two plus pitches, ability to miss bats and get ground balls.

- Paul Demney, RHP, Washington Nationals - Not a lot of buzz surrounding Demney, but he's a sleeper.  I don't think he'll be highly rated by other publications, but we'll see.  Two good pitches (fastball and curve), but he's inconsistent.  Could be a power arm out of the bullpen, but might be able to stick as a starter if he can improve his change-up and command.

- Fautino de los Santos, RHP, Oakland Athletics - Once a top-50 prospect, he fell off the face of the earth after undergoing Tommy John surgery.  He came back briefly and his velocity was reportedly excellent.  He was a potential front of the rotation starter before going down with an injury, but some felt he might be better suited for the bullpen.  Given his age, it wouldn't surprise me if the A's try to fast track him to the majors by putting him in the bullpen.

- Chris Nelson (SS, Colorado Rockies), Jarek Cunningham (INF, Pittsburgh Pirates), Ivan De Jesus Jr. (SS/2b, Los Angeles Dodgers) - All were injured for most of 2009, all will be underrated because of it.  Cunningham is the biggest wild card of the group because he's the least experience, has only experienced success in Rookie League ball, and has the most questions about his defense.  But he's an excellent athlete and offers a lot of projection.

- Allen Webster (RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers) - Haven't seen him, but there is a lot of buzz surrounding him.  Projectable, but already has good fastball velocity, good breaking ball and he throws strikes.  He's somebody who could rise up prospect lists very quickly.

- Zach Britton (LHP, Baltimore Orioles) - Extreme ground ball pitcher with an ability to miss bats. Velocity increased over the past year and he's working on being better able to command his better stuff.  Has a slider that has also developed well over the past year.  He projects as a potential No. 3 or 4 starter.

TROR: Building on that, name one batting and pitching prospect in the AL that you think makes the biggest impact in 2010, and what about for the National League?

Alex: Again, I'm going to break the rules and name a couple for each league:

AL Hitters

- Justin Smoak (1B, Texas Rangers) - Despite a pretty poor Triple-A debut, he's still an elite prospect

- Brett Wallace (3B/1B, Oakland Athletics) - I don't see him as highly as others, but he can still rake and he's an excellent pure hitter

- Desmond Jennings (CF, Tampa Bay Rays) - Prototypical lead off hitter could be Carl Crawford's replacement.

AL Pitchers

- Zach Stewart - Mentioned him earlier, should have an immediate impact if he starts out in the bullpen

- Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis (RHP, Tampa Bay Rays) - Davis gave us a glimpse of what he can do late in the season.  Hellickson doesn't have the raw stuff of Davis, but he commands his pitches extremely well and he has an excellent feel for pitching.

- Hector Rondon (RHP, Cleveland Indians) - Quality pitching prospect with a solid repertoire of pitches that he commands well.  He should compete for a rotation spot out of Spring Training this year.

NL Hitters

- Jason Heyward (RF, Atlanta Braves) - The obvious choice as he's the best prospect in baseball.

- Buster Posey (C, San Francisco Giants) - The other obvious choice, a top-5 prospect that is major league ready now.

NL Pitchers

I don't see many potential impact pitching prospects that are ready in the NL.

Stephen Strasburg, but will the Nats be more conservative with him? Jaime Garcia perhaps, but he's coming off TJ surgery though he looked pretty good in his return last year. Daniel Schlereth, a hard throwing lefty out of the bullpen with Arizona is another one. There just aren't many impact guys right now.  I see a lot more talent at the lower levels.

Madison Bumgardner is another guy that could make an impact, but his stuff needs to return to what it was prior to last season.

TROR: Thanks for your time, Alex.

Obviously Alex mentioned some of the major prospects that are going to be talked about as making immediate impact at the Major League level in 2010, but hopefully he re-affirmed some beliefs on those guys, and also touched on some guys that maybe haven't been talked about as much. It's a good primer for getting an idea of what kind of pitcher these guys are if you weren't familiar with them already, as well. Thanks again to Alex, and go check out his site if you haven't already.