Posted by: portersprospectreport | September 8, 2008

Recent MLB Call Up #8—Scott Elbert and James McDonald

What a crazy past few days this has been!  My computer battery died, then my AC adapter fizzled out.  While I wait for replacements, I am forced to tap out my posts on my stone aged desktop, with 10 gigs of molasses in the hard drive that had been relegated to being an expensive hood ornament for a desk I never use.  Combine that with the beginning of the NFL season and an urgency to capture the last few remaining rays of Washingtonian sun and you have my excuse for the two day hiatus from the blog.

Nonetheless, I remain dedicated to the task of bringing you the top 10 MLB debuts from the last couple of weeks and will give you a double feature from the #8 slot with two young arms from the surging L.A. Dodgers, Scott Elbert and James McDonald.

Scott Elbert

Watch his AFL performance

Watch his AFL performance

I recently wrote about Elbert in one of the daily minor league reports a couple of weeks ago.  Elbert, of course, is recovering from last season’s shoulder surgery and has been cast primarily as a reliever this season.  Elbert has tossed only 2.2 innings in 5 outings with the Dodgers striking out 5 and allowing 3 earned runs.  I will hold true to my convictions that he will be a power reliever for the Dodgers instead of a starter.  Elbert will not factor into the Dodgers’ post season plans as he is slated to go to the Arizona Fall League to pitch.  I would definitely keep a close eye on how he is used there as it will be a prime indicator of the Dodgers’ intentions for 2009 and beyond.

 

James McDonald

MLB debut coming soon

MLB debut coming soon

Here’s a guy that I haven’t written much about.  McDonald was the selected as a draft and follow pick in the 11th round of the 2002 draft.  The Dodgers originally slated him as a two way player, jettisoning him between the mound and the outfield for a couple of seasons before focusing his development as a pitcher.  McDonald stepped out in a big way in ’07 after a mid-season promotion to AA Jacksonville where he went 7-2 with a 1.71 ERA and 64 K in 52 IP.  This season, McDonald continued his ascention this season compiling a 7-4 record with a 3.26 ERA and 141K/141IP.  McDonald has plenty of things working for him with an athletic 6-5 195 lb. frame and three MLB quality pitches including a curveball that rivals that of fellow Dodger phenom Clayton Kershaw.  He hides the ball well in his delivery which gives his 88-93 MPH fastball good late life and his changeup has the potential to be a plus pitch.

At this point, it seems that the only thing that McDonald really lacks is experience.  One other area of concern to me is his low 0.56 GO/FO ratio.  As McDonald’s change continues to develop, it may become a pitch that he can use to induce more ground outs.  Finally, his inconsistent strikeout numbers causes me to raise an eyebrow.  This indicates, that his stuff is not yet consistent as he fools hitters one start and draws a lot of contact the next.  MLB hitters will pounce on mistakes, especially through the middle innings after they have seen him for an AB or two.

All told, he reminds me of Michael Bowden; a talented pitcher with good command and the ability to rack up strings of 6-7 innings on a regular basis.  Like Bowden, McDonald’s future is as a solid mid-rotation starter who can win 12-15 games every season.  Unlike Bowden, the hype for McDonald is not nearly what it could or, perhaps, should be.  McDonald has yet to have a card issued by a major manufacturer, but keep your eyes peeled for late 2008 offerings (Bowman Sterling?) and early 2009.

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