Oakland hasn’t wasted any time making moves this offseason, bidding $17 million to win the exclusive negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, trading Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks to the Royals for David DeJesus, and now spending $800,000 to sign 16-year-old prospect Vicmal De La Cruz out of the Dominican Republic.
Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that De La Cruz is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound, left-handed-hitting outfielder who “scouts said … had some of the best all-around tools of any prospect from this year’s international signing class.”
BA also has some footage of De La Cruz hitting.
Last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Dustin Ackley, had modest numbers this season, hitting .267 with a .368 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage in 134 games.
However, his season totals were dragged down by an awful first month that saw him hit just .147 in April and as a 22-year-old in his first pro season Ackley was very young and inexperienced to be making the jump directly to Double-A (and then Triple-A).
And now he’s crushing the ball in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .429 with four homers, six doubles, 17 RBIs, 22 runs, and twice as many walks (17) as strikeouts (8) through 14 games.
Opinions are mixed on how much power Ackley will develop, but the consensus seems to be that he’s a potential .300 hitter and combined at Double-A, Triple-A, and the AFL he now has a 77/92 K/BB ratio that shows excellent plate discipline and control of the strike zone. Ackley moved to second base as a pro after playing first base and the outfield in college, so ultimately his defense may determine how quickly he arrives in Seattle.
Cubs prospect Brett Jackson headed to the Arizona Fall League last week after being limited by a right ankle injury while playing for Team USA in the Pan American Games qualifying tournament, but now the 2009 first-round pick has been hospitalized with a bacterial infection in the same leg.
He appeared in just four games for the Mesa Solar Sox before being shut down with what Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports is “cellulitis with an abscess in his shin, which is similar to a staph infection.” He’s expected to be released from the hospital today, but won’t return to the AFL.
Jackson, who played in the Futures Games at Angels Stadium during the All-Star break, hit .297 with a .395 on-base percentage and .493 slugging percentage in 128 games split between high Single-A and Double-A this season, smacking 58 extra-base hits, stealing 30 bases, and drawing 73 walks at age 21. He’s among the top center field prospects in baseball.
As a member of the Scottsdale Scorpions’ “taxi squad” Bryce Harper is only allowed to play twice a week in the Arizona Fall League, but the No. 1 overall pick still managed to make a big first impression in his debut.
Harper went 3-for-8 in his first two games, including a bases-loaded ground-rule double that Bill Mitchell of Baseball America reports “would have left the yard in most ballparks.”
According to Mitchell attendance at Harper’s two games were about double the usual AFL crowds and he put on his usual power display in batting practice. Harper turned 18 years old last week, which makes him the second-youngest player in AFL history behind Mets prospect Fernando Martinez in 2006.
Once upon a time Indians right-hander Adam Miller was an elite pitching prospect, ranking as high as 16th on Baseball America‘s annual list in 2005 and cracking BA‘s top 100 in five different years.
Unfortunately he’s missed all of the past two seasons while undergoing four different surgeries on his right middle finger and Miller is now simply trying to get back on the Indians’ radar at age 26, with MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writing that he was clocked as high as 94 miles per hour in a recent instructional league appearance.
If he can avoid another setback Castrovince speculates that Miller will be invited to the Indians’ big league camp in spring training and could even claim a spot on the Opening Day roster. He last pitched at Double-A in 2008, but the former first-round pick posted excellent numbers prior to the finger problems derailing his career and is definitely someone to root for.