Results tagged ‘ Detroit Tigers ’
By Ashley Marshall
It includes nine batters — eight position players and one DH — assembled into a batting order. Like real-life lineups, mine includes players with high on-base percentages and good speed at the top of the order, the most productive hitters in the heart of the lineup and a mixture of power, discipline and speed in the lower third.
1. Micah Johnson, 2B
2. Anthony Aliotti, 1B
3. Ryan Mount, 3B
4. Matt McBride, RF
5. Josh Phegley, C
6. Jordan Lennerton, DH
7. Corey Dickerson, LF
8. Joe Sclafani, SS
9. Rico Noel, CF
• Micah Johnson (Kannapolis Intimidators, White Sox) does everything you want a leadoff hitter to do. He hits for average and draws walks, and when he gets on base he runs. A lot. No Minor Leaguer at any level or any position stole more bases than Johnson in May (27). Part of the reason that he had so many chances to victimize battery mates was a .446 OBP, crafted via a .357 average and 17 walks in 28 games for Kannapolis.
• Anthony Aliotti (Midland RockHounds, Athletics) had a huge month for Midland, batting an even .400 in 29 contests. He flashed some power (six homers and 10 doubles), gave the RockHounds some production (24 RBIs) and showed patience at the plate (22 walks). His 72 total bases ranked third in the Minors in May, while his 18 extra-base hits fell two shy of the lead league.
• Arguably the hottest hitter in the Minors last month, Ryan Mount (Rancho Cucamonga, Dodgers) has been crushing the Cal League. He hit a Minors-best .460 in 23 games for Rancho Cucamonga and had a .500 OBP. He had a career-high 15-game hit streak from May 3 to May 19 and he recorded 14 multi-hit games in total, including a 5-for5 outing in Lake Elsinore. With five homers and 16 extra-base hits, only Norfolk first baseman Travis Ishikawa and Rochester outfielder Chris Colabello had a better OPS than Mount’s 1.289.
• Matt McBride (Colorado Springs, Rockies) tied for the Minors lead with 11 homers in May and he ranked first with 31 RBIs in 25 games. He saw time as a right fielder, a catcher and a DH, but his versatility was matched only by his output. He went deep in three straight games against Iowa and Omaha, and he had a pair of two-homer games — one a six-RBI game, the other a five-RBI game. Making his tally even more impressive is that he struck out just nine times over that span.
• Josh Phegley (Charlotte, White Sox) hit .356 with seven homers, 10 doubles and 19 RBIs in just 22 games in May. No full-time catcher had more total bases (65) than Phegley, who raised his average 62 point from April and more than doubled the number of extra-base hits (18) from the previous month (eight).
• Jordan Lennerton (Toledo, Tigers) was one of the few players who had a slugging percentage over .600 and an OPS over 1.100 for the month of May. The secret to those numbers? He hit .387, smacked seven homers and drew 21 walks. His average ranked eighth in the Minors in May, while his 43 hits were two short of the lead across all levels.
• While Cameron Flynn led the Minors with a .551 on-base percentage in May, Corey Dickerson (Colorado Springs, Rockies) led the Minors with 82 total bases. He hit for power (five homers, eight doubles) and he showcased elite speed (seven triples). Add a .375 batting average, 18 RBIs and the ability to swipe the occasional base, and you can see why he’s a perfect choice for that No. 7 spot. Only his discipline (seven walks in 127 plate appearances) stop him being a leadoff-type hitter, but his power and production stop him from slipping any lower.
• Joe Sclafani (Lancaster, Astros) put together a nice month that saw him bat .357 with a .488 OBP. He’s not a guy that will hit for power (just eight extra-base hits in 26 games), but at this spot in the lineup it’s more about reaching base and setting the table for the guys at the top. He walked more than he struck out (23:15), he stole eight bases in 10 tries and he scored 24 runs. His on-base percentage ranked 10th in the Minors this month.
• Rico Noel (San Antonio, Padres) would serve as a great secondary leadoff hitter because of his speed. He hit .326 and drew 16 free passes, giving him a terrific .436 on-base percentage. Once on base, he stole 17 bags in 22 attempts in 28 games for San Antonio. With guys like Mount and McBride providing the power in this fantasy All-MiLB team, having the balance of a fleet-footed center fielder like Noel in the No. 9 spot is a blessing most teams would love to have.
By Ashley Marshall
With the 2013 MLB Draft starting Thursday, we thought we’d take the next few days to run down how some of the more intriguing picks out of the top rounds from the last few Drafts have fared. On Monday, we looked at 2009.
Today, we turn our attention to 2010.
The 2010 Draft had a little bit of everything, both at the time of the event and — retrospectively — in the three years that have passed.
While Bryce Harper, a highly touted outfielder from a junior college in Southern Nevada, made the most news, the Draft stands out for several other reasons.
Two right-handers taken inside the first 15 picks chose to attend college rather than sign with a Major league team. One — Karston Whitson — missed the entire 2013 college season with a shoulder injury while the other — Dylan Convey — may never have a pro career after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
The Draft also saw a toolsy young shortstop called Manny Machado draw comparisons with Alex Rodriguez and baseball’s current No. 5 prospect Taijuan Walker selected 43rd overall as the Mariners only pick as compensation for the loss of Adrian Beltre.
Eight first-rounders from this Draft class have already made it to the Majors, while four others are ranked inside MLB.com’s Top 100.
- Bryce Harper, Washington (2013: MLB Nationals)
- Jameson Taillon, Pirates (2013: Double-A Altoona)
- Manny Machado, Orioles (2013: Baltimore) — A two-time Futures Game selection, Machado has played almost one-third of his total professional games in the Majors. The shortstop — the first one drafted by the O’s in the first round since 1974 — appeared in 51 regular-season games with the Orioles in 2012 and he’s currently hitting .327 with 30 RBIs in 57 contests this year. He’s the only high schooler from the 2010 first round to make the Majors so far.
- Christian Colon, Royals (2013: Triple-A Omaha)
- Drew Pomeranz, Indians (2013: Triple-A Colorado Springs) – Acquired by the Rockies as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal in 2011, Pomeranz is one of only two left-handers from the first round of this Draft class to reach the Majors. He is 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 26 big league starts over two seasons, numbers that are part of why he’s back at Triple-A Colorado Springs again this year. In 11 2013 PCL games, he is 6-1 with a 4.26 mark.
- Barret Loux, D-backs (2013: Triple-A Iowa) — The D-backs opted not to sign Loux due to injury concerns, but he signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers on Nov. 18, 2010. Last November, he was dealt to the Cubs for former teammate Jake Brigham.
- Matt Harvey, Mets (2013: MLB Mets) — Few rookies have ever made the impact that Harvey has this year. In 12 starts with the Mets, the right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA. The North Carolina product — who went 20-10 in the Minors — showed glimpses of this potential in 10 starts in 2012, but nobody expected the level of production he’s given the big club in the first two months of the season.
- Delino DeShields, Astros (2013: Class A Advanced Lancaster)
- Karsten Whitson, Padres (2013: none; Draft eligible) — Whitson turned down a $2.1 million signing bonus to attend the University of Florida. He went a combined 12-1 in 33 games between 2011 and 2012, but he missed the entire 2013 collegiate season with a shoulder impingement. He may draw interest from teams in this year’s Draft, but he is not ranked in MLB.com’s Top 100 Draft prospects.
- Michael Choice, Athletics (2013: Triple-A Sacramento)
- Deck McGuire, Blue Jays (2013: Double-A New Hampshire)
- Yasmani Grandal, Reds (2013: MLB Padres)
- Chris Sale, White Sox (2013: MLB White Sox) – Of all 50 first-rounders from 2010, none have posted a greater WAR than Sale (12.2). He posted a 1.93 ERA in 21 games in 2010, and he saved eight games the following year. Converted to a full-time starter last season, Sale went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 30 games, striking out 192 batters in as many innings en route to finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting. This season, he’s 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA in nine starts.
- Dylan Covey, Brewers (2013: none; Draft eligible) — Convey chose to attend the University of San Diego rather than going pro after being diagnosed with diabetes days before the signing deadline. In his sophomore year at college in 2012, he went 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA while holding opponents to a .247 batting average over 81 1/3 innings. He had just a 5.05 ERA in 16 appearances this spring for the Toreros.
- Jake Skole, Rangers (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
- Hayden Simpson, Cubs (2013: released) – Released at end of spring training, Simpson hasn’t pitched this year. For his career, he sports a 6.42 ERA over 30 starts and 26 relief appearances with Chicago’s Minor League system. He did not pitch professionally the year he was selected after suffering from mononucleosis, and he never lived to the promise of the Cubs only first-round pick that year.
- Josh Sale, Rays (2013: suspended) – Sale has not endeared himself to Tampa Bay. In August he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for methamphetamine and an amphetamine. He came off the restricted list and was added to the roster of the Charlotte Stone Crabs, but before he had a chance to make his season debut he was suspended indefinitely for throwing two quarters at a dancer in a strip club and then posting about it on Facebook.
- Kaleb Cowart, Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
- Michael Foltynewicz, Astros (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi)
- Kolbrin Vitek, Red Sox (2013: Double-A Portland)
- Alex Wimmers, Twins (2013: Double-A New Britain; injured) — Wimmers missed most of 2012 with a right elbow injury, and he has not pitched in 2013. A two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Year at Ohio State, he has pitched in just 19 games in his professional career.
- Kellin Deglan, Rangers (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
- Christian Yelich, Marlins (2013: Double-A Jacksonville)
- Gary Brown, Giants (2013: Triple-A Fresno)
- Zack Cox, Cardinals (2013: Double-A Jacksonville) — Acquired by the Marlins from the Cardinals in July, Cox originally improved his Draft stock by 20 rounds after going to the University of Arkansas instead of signing with the Dodgers in 2008. He saw time at Triple-A Memphis last summer before being dealt to the Marlins for Edward Mujica last July. He’s been with Double-A Jacksonville since the trade.
- Kyle Parker, Rockies (2013: Double-A Tulsa)
- Jesse Biddle, Phillies (2013: Double-A Reading)
- Zach Lee, Dodgers (2013: Double-A Chattanooga)
- Cam Bedrosian, Angels (2013: Class A Burlington)
- Chevy Clarke, Angels (2013: Class A Burlington) – Los Angeles took outfielder Clarke one pick after they selected pitcher Bedrosian, who grew up just 50 miles from Clarke in Georgia. Both 21 years old, they have been teammates in the Arizona and Midwest Leagues together and they both started 2013 a bit behind schedule in Burlington.
- Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Cito Culver, Yankees (2013: Class A Charleston)
- Mike Kvasnicka, Houston (2013: Disabled list in Twins Org) – Drafted by the Astros as a catcher, Kvasnicka struggled in his first two years of pro ball when the organization tried him at third base and as a corner outfielder. The 24-year-old was traded to the Twins — the team that tried to sign him in the 31st round of the 2007 Draft out of high school — in March, but surgery to repair a broken hamate bone has seen him sidelined this season.
- Aaron Sanchez, Toronto (2013: Class A Advanced Dunedin)
- Matt Lipka, Atlanta (2013: Class A Advanced Lynchburg) – A shortstop at McKinney High School in Texas, Lipka has transitioned to the outfield. He tore his hamstring last summer, and that limited him to 199 at-bats in 2012. Back with the Hillcats for a second year, he’s looking to get back on track. He’s already hit for the cycle this season.
- Byrce Brentz, Boston (2013: Triple-A Pawtucket) – Overlooking the fact that Brentz hit .198 in his rookie year in Lowell, he batted .298 with 47 homers and 170 RBIs across four levels over the past two years. A hitter through and through, Brentz — who moved from left field to right without any issues — is already on pace to better his 2012 power numbers from Double-A Portland this year in Pawtucket.
- Taylor Lindsey, LA Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
- Noah Syndergaard, Toronto (2013: Class A Advanced St. Lucie) – Acquired by the Mets in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in December, the 6-foot-6 prep right-hander is looking to build on his 2012 successes with Lansing. Syndergaard has the stuff to record a strikeout per inning in the Florida State League (59 in 57 2/3 IP), and there’s every chance he can post a sub-3.00 ERA (currently at 2.81).
- Anthony Ranaudo, Boston (2013: Double-A Portland) – LSU has seen one of its players drafted in the first round each year since 2009. Ranaudo went 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in the Eastern League last year, but he’s 6-1 with a 1.48 mark this year at the same level.
- Ryan Bolden, LA Angels (2013: Unassigned in Angels Org) – Drafted as an 18-year-old out of Madison Central High School, Bolden has spent each of the past three years in the Arizona League. The right fielder hit .187 in his rookie year but saw his average drop in each of the following two seasons. He has not played yet in 2013.
- Asher Wojciechowski, Toronto (2013: Triple-A Oklahoma City) – Acquired by the Astros in part of a 10-player deal with the Blue Jays last July, Wojciechowski is looking to build on a 2012 season that saw him go 9-5 with a 3.09 ERA between two organizations. After six superb Texas League appearances to start 2013, he was promoted to the RedHawks of the PCL.
- Drew Vettleson, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte) – He spun three no-hitters as an ambidextrous pitcher in high school, and he turned down a commitment to play for Oregon State University to play with the Rays. Now a right fielder, Vettleson set a Bowling Green franchise record with 139 hits in 2012.
- Taijuan Walker, Seattle (2013: Double-A Jackson) – MLB.com’s No. 5 prospect was a Southern League midseason All-Star and a Futures Game selection last year. Still just 20 years old, he’s repeating the league after going 7-10 with a 4.69 ERA there in 2012, and early signs are that he’ll make his way up to Triple-A by the end of the year.
- Nick Castellanos, Detroit (2013: Triple-A Toledo) – A third baseman in high school, the Tigers felt Castellanos was more suited to the outfield in order to help the big club in the near future. MLB.com’s No. 20 prospect finished third among all Minor League players in 2012 with 172 hits and he’s on pace to set new career highs in homers and RBIs in the International League this year.
- Luke Jackson, Texas (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach) – Jackson did not start pitching until ninth grade, but that did not stop the Rangers from drafting him 45th overall out of Florida’s Calvary Christian High School. The right-hander is repeating the Carolina League where he’s 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 23 walks in 46 innings.
- Seth Blair, St. Louis (2013: Double-A Springfield)
- Peter Tago, Colorado (2013: Unassigned in Rockies Org) — Ranked 17th in the Rockies Top 20 prospects, Tago has not pitched in 2013. He walked more batters than he struck out in each of his first two years in pro ball, and his poor debut in Asheville in 2011 saw him reassigned to the Northwest League in 2012
- Chance Ruffin, Detroit (2013: Double-A Jackson)
- Mike Olt, Texas (2013: Triple-A Round Rock) – Of the eight first-rounders from the 2010 class to reach the Majors so far, none were drafted later than Olt, a supplemental pick for the loss of free agent Marlon Byrd. His big 2012 season — including 28 Double-A homers — saw him promoted to Texas, but he’s struggled in his time in the PCL, batting .139 with five extra-base hits in 20 games. He recently missed a month with vision problems, which may now be resolved.
- Tyrell Jenkins, Cardinals (2013: Class A Peoria)
By Sam Dykstra
Last week, we took a look at the surprising batters of the start of the 2013 season in the Minor Leagues. Now, it’s time to look at the hurlers they’ve faced.
International League: Jose Alvarez, LHP, Toledo – Alvarez has shown promising command in the past — he led the Southern League by allowing just 1.66 walks per nine innings last season — but that hasn’t necessary led to the best results. He went 6-9 with a 4.22 ERA for Double-A Jacksonville a season ago. So when the Tigers signed him as a free agent in the offseason and put him at Toledo for his Triple-A debut, they probably weren’t hoping for more than rotation depth for the Mud Hens. Instead, Alvarez has a case for best IL starter at this early juncture. He ranks in the league’s top three in ERA (1.98, second), WHIP (1.01, third) and strikeouts (55, third). The command hasn’t gone anywhere either. His 1.48 BB/9 also ranks third.
Pacific Coast League: Chris Dwyer, LHP, Omaha – Being that he’s the Royals’ No. 16 prospect, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Dwyer has found success this year with the Storm Chasers. But at the same time, it kind of is. Due to command issues, the 25-year-old left-hander never really got it together at the Double-A level — 5.60 ERA in 27 starts in 2011, 5.25 ERA in 17 appearances last season — and the ERA was only worse (6.97) in a nine-game stint with Omaha last year. But he didn’t allow more than two runs in his first six starts of 2013 and tossed eight innings of one-run ball on Thursday to give him a 2.83 ERA through nine outings. If he can return to his early form and continue to refine his command, Dwyer has a chance to meet the potential the organization first saw in him.
Eastern League: Warwick Saupold, RHP, Erie – After signing out of Australia last year, Saupold worked mostly out of the bullpen for Class A West Michigan and Class A Advanced Lakeland with ERAs of 2.79 and 3.77 respectively at each stop. But as the saying goes, the biggest jump in Minor League Baseball is making that move from Class A Advanced to Double-A ball, and that jump became more treacherous for the 23-year-old as he would begin his first full year as a starter on American shores. Still, he’s held his own in the Eastern League, going 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA — fifth-best in the circuit — with a 1.20 WHIP in his first nine starts for the SeaWolves.
Southern League: Spencer Arroyo, LHP, Birmingham – Since being selected by the Phillies in the 31st round of the 2008 Draft, Arroyo is already in his second organization and has yet to find big-time success at the full-season level — until now. After putting up a 4.59 ERA and .280 opponents batting average with the Barons last season, the 25-year-old has brought both numbers down to 2.10 and .208 through nine starts this year. In fact, he’s only gotten better as the season has progressed. In four May starts, the southpaw is 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA.
Texas League: Jake Buchanan, RHP, Corpus Christi – There was a chance Buchanan would be good for the Hooks this season — he was a Cal League All-star in 2011, and we even named him an Organization All-Star the same year — but no one thought he’d be this good. The 24-year-old has flourished in the Astros’ piggybacking system, hasn’t allowed an earned run since April 26 (six appearances, 27 2/3 innings) and leads all Minor Leaguers in ERA (0.84) and WHIP (0.73). He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in an outing yet this season, so he’s been spared from facing Texas League lineups a third time through. But you still have to like the results as they stand on paper.
California League: Daniel Winkler, RHP, Modesto – Since being taken by the Rockies in the 20th round of the 2011 Draft, Winkler has had a penchant for the strikeout — his 136 punchouts ranked second in the Sally League last season — but it hadn’t necessarily translated into results (4.46 ERA, 1.37 WHIP). The 23-year-old seems to be coming into his own for the Nuts this season, however. His 2.61 ERA ranks third in the circuit while his 0.89 WHIP is right up there at the top. And yes, his 58 strikeouts (in 51 2/3 innings) rank second.
Carolina League: Taylor Hill, RHP, Potomac – There was ample reason for excitement when the P-Nats started the year with Robbie Ray and Taylor Jordan — Washington’s No. 10 and 17 prospects respectively — in their rotation. But Hill, who owned a 4.91 ERA between Class A Hagerstown and Potomac last season, has been right there with them and has often been better. He ranks first in walk rate (1.18 BB/9), tied for first in WHIP (0.99), second in ERA (2.31) — behind only Jordan (1.24), who is now with Double-A Harrisburg — and third in wins (4). He’s also thrown the only solo shutout of the Carolina League season. That’s the kind of stuff that commands attention at any level.
Florida State League: D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Fort Myers – Make what you will of the wins stat for pitchers, but nobody has done a better job than Baxendale of compiling them as a full-time starter in the Minor Leagues this year. He’s a perfect 7-0 for the Miracle through nine starts, but none of those wins have been of the vulture variety. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any start en route to an FSL-best 0.94 ERA, and that comes from being nearly untouchable (0.78 WHIP, .166 opponents’ average). Coming out of the University of Arkansas, Baxendale was a breakout candidate after sliding to 10th round last June, but this is at a different level.
Midwest League: Brandon Sinnery, RHP, South Bend – Sinnery has been one of the feel-good stories of the early 2013 season. I recommend reading my colleague Jake Seiner’s story on his journey to affiliated ball, but here’s a quick Sparknotes version. Undrafted out of the University of Michigan, the right-hander moved onto two separate independent league teams before catching the eye of the D-backs, who signed him and sent him to the Midwest League this season. He’s thrived ever since, putting up a 2.25 ERA and 1.07 ERA over eight appearances (six starts).
South Atlantic League: Jake Cose, RHP, Kannapolis – The 2011 27th-rounder was OK (4.38 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) in his first pro season as a starter in the Appalachian League a year ago, but he seems to have taken things to a new level in 2013. He’s maintained a 1.61 ERA — second-best in the Sally League — thanks to an ongoing run of four straight starts, spanning 24 2/3 innings, without having allowed an earned run. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has also struck out 46 batters and walked just 16 in 44 2/3 total frames while holding batters to a .211 average.
Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 42-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Kourage Kundahl: If you’re Cincinnati, how do you handle Billy Hamilton? Develop further in Double-A Pensacola, or put him on the AAA fast track?
If I’m Cincinnati, I would start Hamilton at Triple-A Louisville next season. He did enough at Pensacola in 2012 with his bat (.286 .AVG, .406 OBP and 36-43 BB-K in 50 games) to prove that he is ready for another challenge. The International League will present that challenge. The 22-year-old switch-hitter has work to do at the plate — making his swing more fluid would be a start — if he and the Reds want him to be more than a base-stealer. (Remember, to be a good base-stealer, you need to be able to get on base consistently.) So will Hamilton start ’13 in Louisville? The only way, I think, he could be held back for more seasoning at Double-A is if Walt Jocketty and Co. are unimpressed with the shortstop-turned-center fielder’s acclimation on defense. Hamilton is learning his new position in the Arizona Fall League, however, and he obviously has the athleticism and the baseball smarts to be, at least, an average defender. There’s no reason he can’t work on that part of his game at Triple-A, one level below the bigs.
Mike Squier: Could I get your complete analysis of Tyler Collins in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system? What are the chances of him getting to the bigs? His strikeout-to-walk ratio, plus 20 stolen bases — interesting…
Collins is definitely a guy that deserves to be talked about more following his 2012 at Class A Advanced Lakeland: .290/.371/.429 and, as you mentioned that 58-64 BB-K ratio and 20-for-23 success rate on the basepaths. I am high on Collins’ bat, as his swing is not unlike his stature: short, but powerful. It’s hard to argue with his production, too. Where my enthusiasm declines: Collins is, at most, an average defender in left field and, despite that 20-steal total, is very likely a 10-to-12 steal guy when he gets to the bigs. And that was your other question, wasn’t it? His chances of getting to the bigs? I would put them very high because of that bat, his one standout tool. He will be able to hit Major League pitching, though we might differ on how well and how often he goes deep. From the reports I have read, Collins will hit some home runs but should be considered more of a gap-to-gap hitter. This is all starting to sound familiar. Andy Dirks 2.0?
J.P. Schwartz: Who are your top five overall prospects for 2013 and why? Thanks.
Below is my top five, though I preface the list with this: Rankings, as much as you and I might love them, are very subjective and often poorly defined. Are we talking about, for example, the five Minor Leaguers who have the highest ceilings, the five Minor Leaguers with high ceilings who are most likely to reach them or some combination of the two? And is a player further along in his development ranked ahead of a player that is, say, only a year into his career? Every so-called expert weighs these things differently. Let me tell you that I am ranking players with high ceilings who are almost certain to reach them, and I should also add that I show a subjectivity toward position players. (That there are three pitchers in my top five — and seven pitchers in MLB.com’s top 10 — shows just how many elite pitching prospects there are knocking on the door of the bigs.)
1. Wil Myers: He is most natural hitter in the Minor Leagues. From talking to him, opposing pitchers and the Royals, I get the sense that Myers can make up his mind whether he wants to his .330 with some power and some strikeouts or .300 with more power and a lot more strikeouts. Either way, he was the best offensive player in the Minors in 2012 and, barring an Opening Day nod in Kansas City, will be again in 2013. I also like the fact that Myers adds value not only with his versatility, but also his deftness at playing any outfield position as well as third base.
2. Jurickson Profar: No. 1 on a lot of others’ charts, I have Profar a step below Myers despite the fact that he plays a premium position (shortstop) at a potentially gold glove-caliber level. Why then? Well, Profar is still 19 and, in my mind, a ways off from being a star in the Majors. He could probably be an above-average Major Leaguer tomorrow, which is why I don’t disagree with the Rangers promoting him late last season, but he’s not as far along his career path as Myers, who could star tomorrow. One other thing I like about Profar: Like Manny Machado, he seems to play “up” to his level of competition. Not all prospects are like that.
3. Dylan Bundy: At 19 and in his first season, Bundy not only got to Double-A, but to the Majors. And I’m not sure it will be long before he’s back for good. The right-hander has as much or more stuff and poise of any Minor League pitching prospect. And as long as we’re talking ceilings, Bundy is very sure to reach his. Ironically, that is also my only qualm — and many scouts’, too — with the Orioles’ ace of the future. Is he peaking now? How can he get any better? He’s a workout fiend and, at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, isn’t going to change his body as he ages (he turns 20 in eight days, by the way). How good will be when he can no longer pump his fastball up to triple digits? Those questions explain why Baltimore was so intent on Bundy improving his secondary pitches, particularly his changeup, this year.
4. Gerrit Cole: Because I’m working in New York City and not at a Minor League ballpark near you, I tend to place a greater emphasis on a prospect’s actual production than other scribes. It’s a more data-driven, on-the-surface way of looking at things, but I don’t have the scout’s eye that tells me that a guy with an ERA over 5.00 is a better prospect than a guy sporting an ERA sub-3.00. Which bring me to Cole, who happens to projectable and productive. He was consistently strong, if not stellar, in 26 starts in 2012. (He was the No. 1 overall draftee in 2011 but didn’t pitch that season.) I would expect him to be in the Majors by next June.
5. Jose Fernandez: Some won’t have this Marlins farmhand among their top 25 prospects for 2013, let alone their top five. And, to be honest, I can’t understand why. His 1.75 ERA at Class A and Class A Advanced this year shows that, at age 20 and in his first full season, he was facing inferior competition. That won’t be the case when he begins next year at Double-A Jacksonville. Based on where I have him ranked, of course, I expect him to excel there as well.
Josh Pfaffle: Do you think Nick Franklin can make the Mariners roster next year and produce?
Next year, yes. To start next year, I’m not sure. Franklin is a strong prospect, but he hasn’t yet proven his bat against Triple-A pitching: .243/.310/.416 in 64 games at Tacoma last year. I have little doubt that he can, but that’s not the only obstacle to clear before he joins the Mariners. After playing mostly shortstop at Double-A Jackson, the 21-year-old switch-hitter started playing more second base at Tacoma and is playing there almost exclusively in the Fall League. If Seattle’s brass deems him a better defensive fit there, a decision will have to be made about him or incumbent Dustin Ackley.
Josh Pfaffle: How do you think the Mariners prospects will affect the big league team, and how far are they away? Do you see James Paxton or any other prospects getting traded for a proven bat?
That Big Three — starting pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Paxton — needs at least another half-season (and, likely, a full season or more) of development in the Minors. That leaves Franklin, who would need to catch fire in Spring Training to make the Opening Day club, and catcher Mike Zunino, who is probably another full season away, too. So as far as the M’s elite prospects making a difference, I would expect them to make a significant impact — but not before the 2014 season. And, by the 2015 season, watch out. Sluggers like Brad Miller and Stefen Romero should be in Seattle by then, too. Their presence — and continued emergence — would lessen the pressure to deal away Paxton or one the organization’s other top pitching talents. There is a lot to be excited about if you’re a Mariners fan.
Pierre: Andrew, I have the No. 9 pick in my Dynasty League Rookie Draft. All the players who made their debut in 2012 are available. What’s your top 10 list? Harper, Cespedes, Middlebrooks, Machado, Olt, Profar, Darvish, Harvey, Bauer, S. Miller, Bundy, Skaggs, M.Perez, Odorizzi, etc…
Let me say first off, Pierre, that I’m no fantasy baseball expert. I have suggested to my editor that we start a fantasy baseball advice column at MiLB.com, so that could be an addition to our prospects coverage by Opening Day 2013. That said, I’ll try and help you out now. I’m guessing that Mike Trout, who made his Majors debut in 2011, is not available, or you would have included him in your list. So we’ll leave him off mine, too. I’m also assuming prospects who have yet to appear in the Majors (like, say, Wil Myers) aren’t eligible in your draft, so we’ll stick to prospects who made their MLB debuts in 2012. Here’s my list, in order:
- Bryce Harper
- Manny Machado
- Jurickson Profar
- Dylan Bundy
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Yu Darvish
- Matt Harvey
- Shelby Miller
- Will Middlebrooks
- Tony Cingrani
Reena (from Tucson): Which player this year has surprised you the most by excelling as a player? Who do you see as a breakout star?
I would zero in on Tyler Austin (Yankees) and Dan Straily (A’s). Here are the blurbs I wrote about each player’s “Breakout Prospect” bid for our annual MiLBY Awards coverage:
Austin, a 13th-round draftee in 2010, reached Double-A the week of his 21st birthday during his first healthy season. He hit 14 homers in 70 games, including six in one seven-game stretch, with Class A Charleston.
Straily, a 24th-round draftee in 2009, pitched at three levels, finishing in the Majors. The K’s were his calling card, as he led the Minors most of the year.
As far as identifying the next breakout star, it’s very difficult to pick out a guy who goes from nothing to something in such a short span. Austin and Straily, in all honesty, weren’t on my radar entering last season, and I’m not in the minority on that one. Who’s on my radar entering next season? I’ll give you a hitter and a pitcher: Max Kepler (Twins) and Josh Bowman (A’s), guys I’ve written about on this site.
Editor’s note: Lost and Found is an offseason series in which one underrated prospect from each of the 30 MLB clubs will be discussed in a short, snappy post. This edition features a prospect who was traded on Tuesday.
Lost: Josue Marcelo Carreno (you will more often see him referred to as Marcelo Carreno) signed out of his native Venezuela at 16. He registered sub-3.00 ERAs in Venezuelan Summer League play in 2008 and 2009 before recording 4.00-plus ERAs his first two seasons stateside.
2010: 4.76 ERA and a 59-to-33 K-to-BB ratio in 64 1/3 IP spanning 14 GS at Class A Short-Season Connecticut
2011: 4.55 ERA and a 115-to-41 K-to-BB ratio in 124 2/3 IP spanning 24 G at Class A West Michigan
Found: Carreno, who sports a fastball-curveball-changeup mix, returned to the same level and accomplished two things: He walked 13 fewer batters in 14 2/3 more innings. While that may not sound like a lot, it is for a hurler like him who must pitch to contact to get outs.
2012: 3.23 ERA and a 119-to-28 K-to-BB ratio in 139 1/3 IP spanning 27 GS at Class A West Michigan
So Carreno was lost, now he is found. Now, about the
Tigers’ Cubs’ returns: Word on the street is that Carreno tops out as a No. 3 starter and bottoms out as a middle reliever. Either way, Chicago is getting a future Major League pitcher. Given that we’re talking about a 21-year-old who has yet to pitch at the Class A Advanced level, however, I would stretch the space between his ceiling and his floor a bit more. Look for the righty to begin 2013 at Daytona, in the Florida State League.