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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Jesse Foppert

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 7/10/80, Age: 22, Height: 6’6’’, Weight: 210, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Giants -Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2000 Draft (U. of San Francisco).  2002 Stats: (AA - Shreveport) 3-3, 2.79 ERA, 61 IP, 44 H, 3 HR, 21 BB, 74 K; (AAA - Fresno) 3-6, 3.99 ERA, 79 IP, 71 H, 12 HR, 35 BB, 109 K. 2003 Stats: (AAA - Fresno) 0-0, 1.80 ERA, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 HR, 0 BB, 9 K; (Maj. - SF) 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 7 IP, 8 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 6 K.
   Jesse Foppert is the latest impact pitching prospect to break into the major leagues, picking up his first big-league start just a few days ago. A consensus top 10 prospect, Foppert has a diverse arsenal to throw at hitters, starting with a fastball that is typically in the 91-94 mph range. He has reportedly thrown as fast as 99 mph, but when I watched him the other night he was actually in the 88-91 mph range, which is a minor cause for concern. His splitter is a second plus pitch, and has proven to be an excellent pitch with which to generate strikeouts. He also has a slider (above average), a curve (average), and a changeup (developing). He is clearly dominant much of the time, with fantastic strikeout rates (better than 9.0 at all 3 levels prior to this season) at every step of his relatively brief pro career to this point. However, his walk rates border on problematic (between 3.0-4.0), and his HR rate at Fresno last season (1.37) was disturbing for a pitcher with his stuff, and he was at 0.9 HR/9 in 2001 as a 21 year old in Rookie ball, a level that he truly should have dominated as a high-level prospect, so the issue is not a new one for him. His mechanics are very sound, and except for some fatigue last season, Foppert has not had any health issues to this point. Since he was an infielder all through high school and was lightly used his first few years of college, his arm has probably seen less abuse than most, which should work out to his benefit in the long run. The slight velocity loss, the HR proneness, and having control issues are minor yellow lights regarding the status of Jesse Foppert, who is legitimately one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
    His first start in San Francisco notwithstanding, Jesse Foppert has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues right now. With the Giants in perennial contention, they may not be extremely patient with him this year if his control issues persist, so he could find himself back in the bullpen, or even back in Fresno at some point this summer. That will prove to be a temporary situation, if it comes to pass in the first place, because Foppert is one of the future anchors of the Giant rotation (along with Kurt Ainsworth and Jerome Williams, the latter of which I tend to like at least as much as Foppert). The Giants have basically revamped on the fly to add another 3-5 years onto their window (or as long as Barry sticks around to bash his way into the record books), but the kids are going to play major roles in that philosophy. Two of the comparables that I found for Foppert are Andy Benes and Kevin Appier: solid workhorses with long major league careers, very durable, high K rates…in other words, aces, but not hall of famers. That is my prognostication regarding Jesse Foppert. I think the top four in the SF rotation for 2005 will be Williams, Foppert, Moss, and Ainsworth, which has the potential to be a dominant front four for some time to come. Just to clarify, I am not of the opinion that Jesse Foppert is the best pitching prospect in baseball - just a very good one.


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