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April 1, 2009 at 8:10 PM

2009 Prospect Previews: Watch List Part II

This installment of the Prospect Previews series is a continuation of the Watch List, highlighting some of the newer/ rehabilitating prospects within the organization while giving an outlook on some of the things to expect in the upcoming season.

Austin Bailey

Position: Starting Pitcher
2008 Team: Greenville Drive
2009 Projected Team: Extended Spring Training/Greenville

2009 Outlook: Bailey suffered a shoulder injury last season to his labrum and only pitched 4.2 innings with the Greenville Drive in 2008. With an exploding fastball in the low 90’s and a hard breaking slider that falls off the table, his repertoire was impressive last spring prior to his injury, which led to him breaking camp in full-season baseball. After an extensive rehab, Bailey is back on the mound and throwing this spring and will most likely stay back in Florida to continue to build arm strength prior to joining the Greenville Drive. Look for him to continue his aggressive approach, attacking hitters once he gets more and more comfortable on the mound. Prior to his injury, Bailey’s change-up was beginning to round into form and show some potential as another weapon for him. One of the main things to look for is how that pitch is going to come along after suffering his injury. His command and control should also come back around after he shakes off some of the rust. Standing at 6’1’’ and 195 pounds, Bailey has the frame to add a little more life to his fastball, but again, this is something that hinges on how well he can come back from his injury. 2009 looks to be a new beginning for Bailey and a season of getting his comfort level back to push his development back to where it was at the start of last season.

Tyler Yockey

Position: Outfield
2008 Team: Gulf Coast Red Sox
2009 Projected Lowell Spinners

2009 Outlook: This outfield prospect features high power potential from the left side of the plate. Yockey attacks the ball with an uppercut swing and generates a lot of lift through the ball, while finishing around his back with his follow through. He’s pretty adept at using his lower body at this stage in his development and can turn on pitches well. With a lot of extension, the ball arcs off his bat when he makes solid contact. Look for Yockey to man a spot in the outfield for the Lowell Spinners in 2009. One of the main things to watch for is whether he is going to be able to make enough consistent contact to tap into his strong power potential. Yockey struck out with great frequency in the GCL after signing last season, and this is an area of needed improvement for him to be successful going forward. A raw hitter overall, Yockey’s plate discipline and patience are also target areas for improvement. His command of the strike zone reflects his stage of development, but this is a skill that should improve with more and more at-bats against professional pitching. Yockey has the skills to become a power threat, but look for 2009 to be a season of honing his approach to tap into that potential down the road.

Roman Mendez

Position: Starting Pitcher
2008 Team: Dominican Summer Red Sox
2009 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners

2009 Outlook: After spending his first season of professional baseball in the DSL, Mendez has a strong chance of bypassing the GCL and starting the 2009 season with the Lowell Spinners. This hard throwing right-handed starting pitcher sits 92-94 MPH and can dial it up to 96 MPH when he reaches back with his fastball. The pitch has shown good life and projects as an above-average pitch for him down the line. Mendez struck out close to a batter an inning in 2008 while also limiting hard contact. Standing at 6’2’’ and 180 pounds, he has some room on his frame to fill out and possibly add some more zip to his fastball. Because he is on the light side, he will need to put on weight to be able to hold up over the course of a full season’s workload. Look for Mendez to work on the command of his fastball in 2009. Like a lot of young pitchers, he’ll face the same adjustments moving up the ranks in regards to keeping the ball down and pitching to spots rather than trying to just throw balls by batters. Another main area to watch for is the development of his secondary offerings, which he didn’t feature all that much in 2008. Turning nineteen years old in July of this season, Mendez is a young and raw arm looking to begin his transition to the United States. He has a lot of upside, but also a lot of development in front of him. This season should prove to challenge him, and he will be working towards making a full-season roster in 2010.

Ryan Colvin

Position: Pitcher
2008 Team: Greenville Drive
2009 Projected Team: Extended Spring Training/Greenville Drive

2009 Outlook: Colvin began the season strong with the Greenville Drive, but hit a rough patch and was initially shut down with shoulder tendinitis in July. After further tests, it was found that he had a Bankhart Lesion in his pitching shoulder and he underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season. Featuring a fastball that tops out around 94 MPH, he’s often able to overpower batters. Colvin also can run his fastball when he throws it across the seams, which allows him to be effective against left-handed batters. A hard, breaking slider and a developing change-up round out his arsenal of pitches. Look for Colvin to continue his rehab back in Florida after teams break for the full-season schedule, with the possibility of getting back into game action sometime in July. He’s been making good progress in his rehab and will begin a throwing program in the coming weeks. 2009 will be a season of getting back to the mound for Colvin and developing the arm strength to make his return. Expect Colvin to throw some rehab innings and then rejoin the Drive when he is at full strength. One of the main areas to watch for when he makes it back to game action is further development of his change-up. Once he gets his feel back for the pitch, it should regain its deception and continue to be an improving offering that he can work into counts to keep batters off-balance, complimenting his fastball and slider. Colvin has had some tough luck since joining the organization, and last year’s injury was a setback in what was looking like a break-through season for him. 2009 will prove to be a challenging year of rehab for Colvin, but one which should see the pitcher return to action and resume his development within the organization.