Future Forty Updated
With the M’s taking a sabbatical for a week, we can continue to focus on the minor leagues, where actual games are being played. So, to kick off the minor league season, we resume the monthly updates of the Future Forty.
Since I expect this to be the main discussion point, let’s get this out of the way early – yes, I have Carlos Triunfel rated as an Elite Prospect despite one professional baseball game. Statistical analysts will laugh at a ranking that places Triunfel in a tier ahead of Adam Jones, but I’m okay with that. Triunfel has the talent to justify the ranking. With all due respect to Adam Jones, Triunfel is the best prospect in the organization. His bat is special in a way that Jones’ isn’t, and while he obviously has no experience in professional baseball, there’s a balance that needs to be struck between performance and potential. Triunfel’s potential is so high that the balance point for him is significantly further towards the elite end of the scale than it would be with lesser talents.
Yes, this is an aggressive ranking, but it’s one I’m going to stand behind. Jones is a very nice prospect, but Carlos Triunfel is the one guy in the organization who could walk away with an MVP award or two. He’s got that much physical ability, and the scouts who watch him play can’t stop talking about how good he can be. Carlos Triunfel, folks – he’s really good.
Also, if you want to know just how uninteresting the High Desert roster is, consider that they have exactly one member of the Future Forty on their team, and it’s a relief pitcher who probably will be in Double-A before too long. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is the only prospect of consequence the Mariners sent to the Cal League, and for good reason – High Desert’s ballpark is a joke, and the games played there barely resemble baseball. The scores from their opening weekend games with Inland Empire: 9-7, 18-11, 11-6, and 15-11. Four games played, 88 runs scored. Only two more years until the M’s can get away from that ridiculous experience.
Don’t look now, but Matt Tuiasasopo is hitting the baseball. After one of the most miserable seasons in prospect history, Tui is repeating Double-A by spending the summer in West Tennessee and looks to be trying to put 2006 behind him as quickly as possible. In the first four games of the year, he’s 6 for 13 with 3 doubles, giving him a nifty .462/.533/.692 line. Compare to last season’s Double-A experience, where he had five extra base hits in 62 games. Tui has battled two huge weaknesses at the plate so far; a total lack of power and poor pitch recognition. If he really is learning how to drive the ball, that’s going to be a legitimate step towards fixing the issue that nearly derailed his career last year. It’s just four games, but it’s the best four game stretch of Matt Tuiasasopo’s baseball career. So that’s something.
I’ve got Brandon Morrow’s current rating as a 4. Other players I’ve assigned a 4 rating too include Jeff Clement, Ryan Feierabend, Bryan LaHair, Jon Huber, Yung-Chi Chen, and Jake Woods. They’re all in Tacoma. I’m just saying.
I left Michael Garciaparra on the Future Forty even though he was designated for assignment last week, because I expect him to clear waivers and remain in the organization. The upside just isn’t very high with Little G, and I don’t see another team using a 40 man roster spot on him.
And finally, as an overview for what kind of shape the organization is in, I’ll continue to point out that Wisconsin is probably the most talented team in the minor leagues, as they have 10 members of the Future Forty on their roster, six of whom have potential ratings of 7 or higher. The upper levels of the system aren’t very good, but there’s a lot of high ceiling talent hanging out in the Midwest League.