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I'm Going To Talk About The Minor Leagues For A Minute

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Kevin Goldstein covered the NL West farm systems for Baseball Prospectus today, and had a few interesting things to say about our minor leaguers.

Defensive whiz Chin-Lung Hu keeps on hitting (.348/.387/.491), but his performance baffled one scout who recently saw him. Noticing no difference in his approach or swing, and no reduction in a bad tendency to inside-out balls, the scout wondered if both last year (.254/.326/.334) and this year were a bit fluky, with the truth falling somewhere in between.

The numbers agree with this assessment. Hu only hits line drives in 12.5% of his plate appearances, yet he has a BABIP of .386. When you regress him back to his natural .245 BABIP, his numbers crater to .217/.267/.360. Hu was classified as a no hit shortstop coming into this season, and that's what he still is.

Former first-rounder Blake DeWitt (.220/.257/.335) has done nothing since a mid-season promotion to Double-A last year, and last year's impressive start now looks very much like a Vero Beach-created anomaly. After a tough 2006, Travis Denker is back at second base and mashing at .355/.418/.533; his scouting reports draw the occasional comparison to Marcus Giles after initially being written off as too small in previous years.

This year was probably Dewitt's last chance for his performance to measure up to his tools, and he's done nothing with it. Even adjusting for balls in play doesn't help much. His BABIP jumping from .235 to .270 would only give him five extra hits, and would bump his average to a mere .250. DeWitt isn't striking out much, just 21 in 173 at bats, but he just isn't making solid contact. If his glove won't play in the middle infield, his time as a top prospect is over if he doesn't turn it around fast.

Denker is a nice story this year. After dropping off the map last year, he's come back with a strong start in the first two months of this year. He's slightly over performing his balls in play stats, but his adjusted line of .280/.358/.458 with a strikeout every 7.13 at bats is still very solid for a middle infielder. If he can survive a promotion to AA by the end of the year, he'd be a notable prospect once more.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been touching 97 mph and striking out nearly 13 batters per nine...