Categorized | Mark Timmons




After struggling to hit in Double-A last year, Hu batted a combined .325 with 40 doubles and 15 homers between that level and Triple-A in 2007. He also won the MVP award at the Futures Game and made his major league debut in September.A plus defender at shortstop, Hu has great hands and range, good actions and a plus arm. He’s an above-average runner and an energetic all-around athlete.

As good as Hu’s numbers were this season, his offensive approach remains unrefined. He tends to pull off the ball with his inside-out swing. Because he steps in the bucket, scouts had questions about how he’d handle more advanced pitching–though he does have more strength than his 5-foot-9 frame suggests.

An aggressive batter, Hu likes to take the first fastball he can handle and put it in play, and he struck out just 51 times in 517 minor league at-bats. His approach leaves him vulnerable to streaks and slumps, however, and unless he cleans up his mechanics, he projects to hit about .260 in the majors.

The Dodgers always believed Hu would hit, and the diminutive Taiwanese’s offensive game turned the corner this year following his lackluster showing in a half-season in Jacksonville in 2006. His .325 average ranked third in the minors among full-season shortstops and he took home Futures Game MVP honors before earning promotions to Triple-A and eventually the majors.

His outstanding defensive package–with the arm strength, footwork and hands of a Gold Glover–is his calling card, but he has honed his approach and become a tough out at the plate. Hu has gap power, consistently centers the top half of the ball and uses the whole field well. He’s a slightly above-average runner.

“He’s a good shortstop who has the blend of tools and baseball player,” a third scout scout said. “He’s not going to just be a scratch guy at the plate and I really liked his defense.”

After a dominant season in 2006, Meloan spent the first half of 2007 as Jacksonville’s closer before climbing to Triple-A and the majors. Managers rated him the league’s best reliever and he has the makings of a valuable late-inning man in the big leagues. Meloan has two speeds–hard and harder–and a tenacious attitude. He works primarily off an 89-94 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider that has touched 89. He also has feel for a curveball and changeup, but his slider and above-average command are his ticket.

Meloan attacks both sides of the plate and pitches ahead in the count. His delivery is rigid and lacks fluidity, but he has shown resilience since arm soreness arose shortly after he was drafted in 2005.

Arm trouble prompted the Dodgers to move McDonald from the mound to the outfield shortly after they signed him in 2003. But the experiment was short-lived after McDonald hit .226 in Rookie ball in ’04-’05. He took huge strides this season, and his 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings ranked fourth among full-season minor leaguers.The son of former National Football League receiver James McDonald, he has athleticism to spare and a loose if imperfect arm action that offers some deception. His fastball ranges from 88-92 mph and he has a knack for locating it. His curveball and changeup are inconsistent, but both have potential to develop into plus offerings.

“What he has in his favor is deception,” Gardner said. “From the dugout, you wouldn’t think his fastball was all that great, but when you get to the plate, our hitters said it got on top of you quickly and was hard to hit.”

A rehabbing Pedro Martinez met Baez’ excellent raw power up close and personal when he served up a two-out, three-run homer to him in August. Baez has a smooth, strong stroke with outstanding leverage that produces plus power to all fields. He also established himself as the top defensive third baseman in the GCL.Signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic just before his 19th birthday in March, Baez impressed Dodgers brass so much that they immediately brought him over for the last month of spring training. He handles balls on the inner half of the plate well, but he struggles mightily with soft breaking balls away and pulls off badly. He’ll need to tighten his strike zone to truly unlock his full potential.

Baez has exceptional tools defensively, where his lateral movement allows him to get to balls on either side and he also charges balls well. He has one of the strongest infield arms in the Los Angeles system.

Lambo would have gone earlier in the 2007 draft is clubs hadn’t worried about his makeup. He got kicked out of his first high school and he turned scouts off with his immaturity in predraft interviews. Los Angeles decided it couldn’t pass up his bat in the fourth round, and it continued to speak loudly in his first season as a pro as he finished third in the GCL in batting (.343) and second in on-base percentage (.440).The Dodgers compare Lambo’s hitting style to that of James Loney because he has a sweet lefthanded swing that produces consistent hard contact and should allow him to hit for a high average. As a bonus, Lambo has more power than Loney had at the same stage of his development.

“He plays much older than he is, and you forget how old he is,” a scout from an American League club said. “He’s confident, and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he gets his hits every day.”

A natural first baseman with plus defensive tools, Lambo played the majority of the season out of position in right field. He has a fringe-average arm and below-average speed.

Several area scouts who covered Gallagher as a Pennsylvania high schooler thought he wasn’t ready to handle professional pitching, but he proved otherwise. He held his own in the Pioneer League, showing a good grasp of the strike zone and opposite-field power.His swing tends to collapse on the backside and he’s raw in many phases of the game, but his instincts should improve now that he’s focused full-time on baseball after playing basketball and football in high school. Gallagher has good hands but doesn’t move well at third base, which could lead to a move across the diamond to first base in the future.

Ortiz’ raw power ranked with anyone’s in the Pioneer League and he hit 11 homers, up from two in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League a year ago. Most of his pop comes to the pull side at this point, but with his size and strength, he should develop home run potential to all fields.His swing is solid, but he’ll have to do a better job of working counts as he moves up the ladder. Ortiz is a well below-average runner but managers praised his defensive abilities at first base. His soft hands are an asset.

Here’s an interesting link.

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

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