Here's a quick look at Royce Ring, who was traded from the White Sox to the Mets as the main prospect in the package for Roberto Alomar:
Ring, 22, was drafted by the White Sox in the first round in 2002, out of San Diego State. He was the 18th player picked overall.
He pitched well in his pro debut, posting a 3.21 ERA in 24 games between the Arizona Rookie League and the full-season Carolina League, with a 31/11 K/BB in 28 innings. This year, pitching at Double-A Birmingham, Ring has a 2.52 ERA, 19 saves, and a 44/14 K/BB in 35.2 innings.
The 6-foot, 220-pound lefthander has an explosive fastball, clocked as high as 96 mph, though 91-93 readings are more usual. He has a sharp breaking ball that keeps left-handed hitters off-balance, and he has a changeup that's good enough to use against right-handers.
Although he is a southpaw, he does well enough against righties to be a regular closer, which is how he has been used so far. Think the Twins' Eddie Guardado with better peak velocity. Ring is aggressive and confident, other traits managers and coaches look for in a bullpen anchor.
Command is occasionally a problem for him, and he'll have to prove he can throw strikes consistently at higher levels. He's perhaps a half-year away from being ready to substantially help in the majors, although a rebuilding team like the Mets could push him to the Show more quickly than that.
Overall, Ring is one of the most promising relief prospects in the minors today.
John Sickels is the author of the 2003 Baseball Prospect Book, which can be ordered from his Web site, JohnSickels.com. His biography of Bob Feller will be published this fall by Brassey's. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com.