Checking On Recent Former Lookouts Who Are Rated Top Major League Prospects

Right-Handed Pitcher Zach Lee Is Number One.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - by Tim Evearitt
- photo by Tim Evearitt

During the Hot Stove League season, while serious baseball fans hunger for news while they wait for baseball trades, free agent signings, and the opening of Spring Training, let’s look at MLB.com’s ratings of some recent members of the Lookouts. 

 For as long as anyone can remember, prospect ratings for Major League baseball has been dominated by the Baseball America tabloid. Recently, MLB.com (a subsidiary of Major League Baseball) has begun rating the top 20 prospects of each ML team.

Whereas, MLB.com’s ratings are fairly current, the Baseball America prospect ratings are released in late Winter and early Spring, and then appear in subsequent issues of the tabloid. For example, during his successful 2012 season, Lookouts pitcher Matt Magill, who was unrated, entered the MLB.com ratings during the season and is now the Dodgers No. 8 prospect. Until Baseball America releases their Dodgers prospect ratings for 2013, we must wait to learn if Magill is in Baseball America's top 10. In the Spring, Baseball America also publishes in book form their top 30 prospects for each Major league team. 

Each of the players listed below played for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2012. As most know, the Lookouts are the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pitcher Zach Lee, Dodgers, No. 1

A football standout who was signed away from quarterbacking at LSU, Lee showed a more advanced feel for pitching than many anticipated during his first season of pro ball. He has a plus fastball that can touch the upper 90s. His curve also shows glimpses of being a plus pitch, and he’s worked on a slider, giving him another outstanding breaking ball. Lee has shown a good changeup and can command all four pitches. He gets high marks for his makeup and competitiveness.

After starting the season in High A ball, Lee was sent to extended spring training to work through a lingering groin issue. He returned to High-A Rancho Cucamonga at the beginning of June and was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga on June 25. After a shaky start, Lee made adjustments and finished well.

2-3 at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. 4-3 at  Double-A Chattanooga.

Pitcher Chris Reed, Dodgers, No. 3

Reed flew under the radar for a while as Stanford’s closer, but his plus fastball started getting noticed, and the Dodgers nabbed him in the middle of the first round. Although he relieved in college, the Dodgers, like many teams, think Reed can start. That’s because he has a very good three-pitch mix that he commands well. He can get his fastball up to 96 mph out of the bullpen with good arm-side run. His power slider gives him enough to excel in relief, but he also has a changeup that could be a future plus pitch as well. With fairly good command, it remains to be seen how he’ll do in a starting role, though the early returns were positive in 2012. After posting a 3.09 ERA in seven starts at Rancho Cucamonga, Reed was bumped up to the Double-A Lookouts in early June.

Outfielder Joc Pederson, Dodgers, No. 4

Sometimes a player has to take a little step back to take a bigger one forward. Pederson struggled in full-season ball to start the 2011 season but absolutely tore up the Pioneer League when he was sent down. There, he showed the hitting tools that made him an over-slot sign in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft, and that success carried over into the 2012 season as well. Pederson looks like he’ll have the ability to hit for average and power from the left side, with a very good approach at the plate. He’s a basestealer more because of his instincts than his pure speed, and he should settle into an outfield corner spot as he moves up. Pederson has all the tools to be a very good hitting outfielder, and it looks like they’re all coming together for him after his slow start.

Pederson played most of the 2012 season at Rancho Cucamonga hitting .313 in 110 games. He came to Chattanooga at the end of the regular season to play for the Lookouts against Jackson in the Southern League Division playoffs.

Pitcher Chris Withrow, Dodgers, No. 6

Lookouts’ fans are familiar with this 23-year old right hander. He has spent the past four seasons in Chattanooga serving mainly in the starting rotation

Withrow’s pure stuff and arm strength are still as exciting as when he first came out of the Texas high school ranks in 2007. He has a plus fastball and will show a plus curve. His changeup is still a work in progress, though it has improved. He made strides in 2011 but still struggled with his command. If he can throw strikes more consistently, he still has the stuff and is young enough to develop into a Major League starter. If not, he does have a power arm that would work out of a bullpen.

His 2012 season was hindered by injuries. His debut was delayed by an abdominal injury, and he landed on the DL again with a strained lower back at the beginning of June. He returned to action on June 28, pitching solely in relief after beginning the season as a starter, but a shoulder injury ended his season in early September.


Matt Magill, Dodgers, No.8

The Dodgers have never shied away from drafting and developing young arms, and Magill is no exception. The SoCal 22-year old is tall and has shown a feel for pitching, albeit inconsistently at times. He’s not the pure arm-strength guy Los Angeles often covets, but he can run his fastball into the low 90s, with a very good slider and a decent changeup.

With the move up to Double-A in 2012, Magill’s strikeout rate went up, as did his groundout rate. So did his walk rate, however, and Magill will have to continue to refine his command to have prolonged success at the highest level.

Magill was 11-8 in 26 starts for the Lookouts.


Allen Webster, Red Sox, No. 6

Webster spent parts of the 2011, 2012 season pitching for the Lookouts until he was part of a three-way trade that resulted in his acquisition by Boston.

Webster stood fifth in strikeouts and seventh in ERA in the Southern League when the blockbuster deal that sent him from L.A. to Boston in August of 2012 was announced. Though he posted a good strikeout rate in 2012, Webster’s fastball is better at eliciting groundballs than swings and misses. He throws it into the mid-90s, but the heavy sink has allowed him to post some of the better groundout-to-airout ratios in the Minors. Both his breaking ball and changeup have the chance to be above-average pitches as well, and he’s shown the ability to command all three, with a good feel for pitching, especially considering his age.

In the past, scouts saw Webster as a middle-of-the-rotation type, but his command wasn’t as sharp in 2012, leading some to think he might be destined for the bullpen.

6-8 with Chattanooga and 0-1 with AA Portland

Ethan Martin, Phillies, No 8

Martin still possesses the raw stuff that made him a Dodgers first-round pick back in 2008. He has a plus fastball and curve, and he’s continuing his work on a changeup. More than anything, his lack of command has been his worst enemy, though he showed some progress with that in 2012. If he can continue to improve there, he might be able to remain a starter, something the Phillies will work on after getting him from the Dodgers along with Josh Lindblom in the Shane Victorino deal.

8-6 with Chattanooga and 5-0 with AA Reading

--- Portion of article from MLB.com


- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt

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