Saturday, October 17, 2009

Isaac Hess on Baseball America's Top Indy Prospects List

Isaac Hess, who pitched most of the 2009 season with the Victoria Seals, was named by Baseball America as one of the top prospects in independent baseball. Hess was ranked as the sixth best prospect in independent baseball.

Here is Baseball America's assessment of Isaac Hess:

At this point Issac Hess may be the most "known" independent league prospect out there. A member of the top 10 list last year, he's been signed by affiliated clubs twice in the past year (by the Padres and Red Sox), but both times concerns about his artificial hip (a result of a childhood condition) meant he never threw a pitch in affiliated ball.

There's little doubt about his stuff—he has an 89-91 mph fastball, a solid breaking ball and an excellent changeup. In affiliated ball he profiles more as a lefty arm out of the bullpen where his changeup would give him the ability to retire both lefties and righthanded hitters.

Hess this year managed to go three-for-three on independent league championships. After winning back-to-back Frontier League titles with Windy City, a midseason trade to Calgary helped him win his third ring in three years with a Golden League title. Along the way, he did everything he could to eliminate any concerns about his durability. He led the Golden League in strikeouts and finished second in the league in innings pitched. He also threw an inning in the Golden League all-star game on one-day's rest in an attempt to prove that his hip isn't a hindrance. That paid off in a contract with the Red Sox, but it also may have played a part in his diminished numbers over the second half of the season—he gave up five or more runs in five of his last eight starts after not giving up that many runs in any of his first 11 starts.

The full prospect list can be found here.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America conducted an on-line chat on independent league prospects. Here is a brief exchange from that chat on the subject of Isaac Hess:

Roy (Phoenix): We can put a man on the moon but we can't figure out a way
for Isaac Hess to play Organized Baseball? That just doesn't make sense to me.
Can't you people find some do-gooder lawyer out there who can make this happen?

J.J. Cooper: It's tough. In fact there is a lawyer working pro bono to try
to help Hess out on this very topic. The concerns teams have revolve around the
possibility of Hess making a claim that his hip was injured by pitching. And
there appears to be no way that Hess can craft an air-tight waiver that
acknowledges he's aware of the risk. The best hope for now seems to be if Hess
can get an insurance policy that would cover any potential lawsuit down the road
(even if Hess doesn't plan to every sue anybody). On the mound, there's little
question that he's shown that he deserves a shot.

The full text from the on-line chat can be found here.