Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros ’
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.
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. On Tuesday, we looked at 2010.
Today, we turn our attention to 2011.
The 2011 Draft had some noteworthy storylines, ranging from two UCLA Bruins being selected in the first three picks to two Oklahoma pitchers being taken in the top seven. The Rays punched up their farm system with a league-high 10 picks in the first and sandwich rounds, starting with Taylor Guerrieri at No. 24 and finishing with James Harris at 60. But with only one full-time Major Leaguer among its ranks thus far, the book on the Class of 2011 still largely remains to be written.
- Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh (2013: Triple-A Indianapolis) – The 6-foot-4 right-hander has shot up the Pirates’ ladder and should be expected to make his Major League debut within the next few months before taking a more permanent role in the rotation next season.
- Danny Hultzen, Seattle (2013: Triple-A Tacoma) – The southpaw got Mariners fans excited by going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA through his first four starts in the hitter-happy PCL this season. But he’s been shut down ever since with a rotator cuff strain and tendinitis.
- Trevor Bauer, Arizona (2013: Triple-A Columbus, MLB Indians) – Bauer was shipped to the Indians system as part of the deals that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati and Didi Gregorius to Arizona last offseason. He’s played the role of spot starter at the Major League level this season, going 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts for the Tribe but hasn’t shown enough consistent command (11-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 1/3 innings) to earn a more permanent spot.
- Dylan Bundy, Baltimore (2013: injured) – MLB.com’s No. 2 prospect has yet to take the field due to elbow stiffness but has been cleared to begin throwing again. He will not undergo surgery.
- Bubba Starling, Kansas City (2013: Class A Lexington) – The Royals were slow to bring the center fielder along by not allowing him to make his full-season debut until this year. He’s struggled at the plate so far, batting .206 with a .649 OPS in 49 games for Lexington.
- Anthony Rendon, Washington (2013: Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse, MLB Nationals) – Rendon, who turns 23 on Thursday, tore up the Eastern League (.319/.461/.603) and even earned a promotion to The Show when Ryan Zimmerman hit the DL. He made a short stop in Syracuse but is back in the big leagues — this time as a second baseman — due to Danny Espinosa’s recent injury.
- Archie Bradley, Arizona (2013: Class A Advanced Visalia, Double-A Mobile) – At 7-1 with a 1.18 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 12 starts between two levels, the 20-year-old right-hander has made a case to claim the best statistical season by a pitcher in the Minors thus far.
- Francisco Lindor, Cleveland (2013: Class A Advanced Carolina) – The reviews on the 19-year-old’s defense have always been high, but he looks like he’s taking the next step forward at the dish (.306/.375/.427) so far with the Mudcats.
- Javier Baez, Chicago (2013: Class A Advanced Daytona) – The Puerto Rico native has a lot of pop in his bat for a shortstop, although that’s not necessarily where he’ll stick given Starlin Castro’s place there for the Cubs. Through 51 games at Daytona, 33 of his 59 hits have gone for extra bases. He’s walked, though, just 23 times in 577 career plate appearances.
- Cory Spangenberg, San Diego (2013: Class A Advaned Lake Elsinore) – Spangenberg finds himself back in the Cal League after a concussion and hitting woes kept him from having a solid first full season. He’s improved in his second trip with the Storm however — his OPS is nearly 150 points higher — and his speed continues to be his calling card.
- George Springer, Houston (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi) – The University of Connecticut product could be the game’s next big thing, given his start to 2013. His 17 homers in the Texas League lead all Minor Leaguers, a hopeful sign for any Astros fan desperately looking for one.
- Taylor Jungmann, Milwaukee (2013: Double-A Huntsville) – Jungmann has yet to take off and, with a 4.78 ERA in 10 starts with the Stars, will need more seasoning before he or the Brewers can even entertain any thoughts about a promotion.
- Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (2013: Class A Savannah) – The Mets have taken a similar approach to the Royals with their 2011 first-rounder, allowing Nimmo to finally make his full-season debut this season. He missed nearly a month in May, however, with a hand contusion and a back issue.
- Jose Fernandez, Miami (2013: MLB Marlins) – The first member of the Class of 2011 to become a full-time Major Leaguer, Fernandez has been one of the few bright spots for the Fish this season and remains a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year, despite having never previously pitching higher than Class A Advanced.
- Jed Bradley, Milwaukee (2013: Class A Advanced Brevard County)
- Chris Reed, LA Dodgers (2013: Double-A Chattanooga)
- C.J. Cron, LA Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
- Sonny Gray, Oakland (2013: Triple-A Sacramento) – The A’s only pick in the first or supplemental rounds, Gray was merely OK (4.14 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) in his first full season in the Texas League a year ago, but the right-hander is trending up once more after a solid start (2.40 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in 10 appearances) with the River Cats.
- Matt Barnes, Boston (2013: Double-A Portland)
- Tyler Anderson, Colorado (2013: Class A Advanced Modesto)
- Tyler Beede, Toronto (2013: did not sign, Vanderbilt) – Beede was the highest selected player who elected not to sign in 2011. The Auburn, Mass., native instead chose to play at Vanderbilt, where he went 14-0 with a 2.20 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 98 1/3 innings and was named a Golden Spikes Award finalist Tuesday. He will be draft eligible next season.
- Kolten Wong, St. Louis (2013: Triple-A Memphis) – The University of Hawaii product forms just one part of a very strong Cardinals system and has performed admirably at each step up the ladder. He’s already garnered a handful of honors — Texas League All-Star, Futures Game selection, AFL Rising Star — and should join Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez in making his Major League debut by this September at the latest.
- Alex Meyer, Washington (2013: Double-A New Britain) – Meyer moved to the Twins organization last offseason in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Nationals. He’d be the top prospect in the system if not for stellar sluggers Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. As it stands, the 6-foot-9 titan is MLB.com’s No.38 prospect and remains part of a promising future for those in Minnesota.
- Taylor Guerrieri, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Joe Ross, San Diego (2013: Class A Fort Wayne)
- Blake Swihart, Boston (2013: Class A Advanced Salem)
- Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati (2013: Class A Dayton) – The Reds chose to bring the right-hander along slowly, not allowing him to make his full-season debut until this year in the Midwest League. He did not perform well out of the gate, going 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA in five April starts but has since shown flashes of dominance. He was 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA in May for the Dragons.
- Sean Gilmartin, Atlanta (2013: Triple-A Gwinnett) – The left-hander advanced to Triple-A in his first full season and finds himself back there once again, where he’s been mostly solid. At 23, it’s still early in his professional development, and plenty of time remains for him to pitch his way into the already logjammed Atlanta rotation.
- Joe Panik, San Francisco (2013: Double-A Richmond) – Panik has shown an ability to hit for average and reach base at every level, and that’s continued in the Eastern League where he’s batting .286 with a .375 OBP.
- Levi Michael, Minnesota (2013: Class A Advanced Fort Myers)
- Mikie Mahtook, Tampa Bay (2013: Double-A Montgomery) – The tools are there for the Rays’ No. 11 prospect, even if the results necessarily haven’t been quite yet. The LSU product is batting just .240 for the Biscuits this season, but he’s shown some pop as well as speed. Of his 53 hits thus far, 24 have gone for extra bases, including seven triples.
- Jake Hager, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte)
- Kevin Matthews, Texas (2013: injured) – The left-hander has yet to pitch in 2013 due to an impingement in his left shoulder.
- Brian Goodwin, Washington (2013: Double-A Harrisburg)
- Jacob Anderson, Toronto (2013: Unassigned in Blue Jays Org) – The 20-year-old outfielder couldn’t muster anything in the way of results (.194/.271/.304, 72 strikeouts in 191 at-bats) with Rookie-level Bluefield last year. As such, the Jays held him back from making his full-season debut this year and will look for him to grow in the short season once more before a trip to Lansing is considered.
- Henry Owens, Boston (2013: Class A Advanced Salem) – Owens, a lanky left-hander, showed some promising signs at Class A Greenville last year especially in the strikeout department, where he collected 130 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings. He seems to have taken another step forward in 2013, where he is 3-2 with a 3.53 ERA and 62 K’s in 51 frames. The southpaw could be in Double-A before his 21st birthday in July.
- Zach Cone, Texas (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
- Brandon Martin, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Larry Greene, Philadelphia (2013: Class A Lakewood)
- Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston (2013: Triple-A Pawtucket, MLB Red Sox) – A breakout spring led to calls from Red Sox Nation to have Bradley on the team’s Opening Day roster, and the outfielder indeed found himself in the lineup in Game 1, only to be optioned back down in mid-April after struggles and inconsistent playing time necessitated the move. After a successful turn with the PawSox, he’s back up with the big club now due to Shane Victorino’s trip to the DL, and the former South Carolina star hit his first Major League home run Tuesday night.
- Tyler Goeddel, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Jeff Ames, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Andrew Chafin, Arizona (2013: Class A Advanced Visalia, Double-A Mobile)
- Michael Fulmer, New York Mets (2013: DNP) – Like fellow Oklahoman Bundy, Fulmer has yet to take the mound this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in March.
- Trevor Story, Colorado (2013: Class A Advanced Modesto)
- Joseph Musgrove, Toronto (2013: Unassigned in Astros Org) – The 6-foot-5 right-hander was traded to the Astros as part of a 10-player deal last July. He’s pitched in only 41 2/3 innings in the pros since being taken in 2011 and hasn’t made his official Astros organization debut yet, although that will come when short-season leagues start soon.
- Keenyn Walker, Chicago White Sox (2013: Double-A Birmingham)
- Michael Kelly, San Diego (2013: Class A Fort Wayne)
- Kyle Crick, San Francisco (2013: Class A Advanced San Jose) – Crick’s stellar 2012 campaign in Augusta vaulted him to the top of the Giants’ prospect list entering 2013. Three starts into this season, however, he developed an oblique injury and has been sidelined ever since. He’ll bring a plus fastball and solid slider to the California League when he does return.
- Travis Harrison, Minnesota (2013: Class A Cedar Rapids)
- Dante Bichette Jr., New York Yankees (2013: Class A Charleston) – The name alone garnered some attention in 2011, and an MVP season in the Gulf Coast League only added to that. But Bichette hasn’t been able to put it together at the Class A level, which he is repeating this season. Even so, he’s posted just a .623 OPS through 53 games with the RiverDogs — a number that is 30 points lower than the one he put up in 2012.
- Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
- Dwight Smith Jr., Toronto (2013: Class A Lansing)
- Brett Austin, San Diego (2013: did not sign, NC State) – The Padres couldn’t lure the Charlotte native away from a scholarship at NC State. The catcher/outfielder just helped lead the Wolf Pack to the Super Regionals, where it will take on Rice.
- Hudson Boyd, Minnesota (2013: Class A Cedar Rapids)
- Kes Carter, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte)
- Kevin Comer, Toronto (2013: DNP, Unassigned in Astros Org) – Like Musgrove, Comer was part of the Blue Jays movement to take young high school arms that would be projects but could be big-time prospects if everything ironed out. Also like Musgrove, Comer was sent to the Astros and has yet to make his debut with the organization.
- Jace Peterson, San Diego (2013: Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore)
- Grayson Garvin, Tampa Bay (2013: injured)
- James Harris, Tampa Bay (2013: Unassigned in Rays Org)
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 Jake Seiner
Interviewing for game stories can be a fun process. The thousands of players and coaches spread across the Minor Leagues supply a never-ending chain of unique perspectives on the national pastime. The game story isn’t always the best place for block quotes and expanded thoughts, so once a week, I’m hoping to come here with a look back at some of the more interesting conversations I stumble upon with Minor League players and coaches. Here’s a look back at some quotes from the past week that I hope you’ll find of interest.
Corpus Christi manager Keith Bodie on Astros prospect and MiLB home run leader George Springer (Springer, Santana slug off the Hook):
“He does a lot of good things. He came up here last year at the end of the season in August and he was not able to do those things. He’s made adjustments at this level to have success, and he needs to continue to make certain adjustments at the plate for the way people pitch him.
“There are certain locations where people will throw to him, and he has trouble getting to those points, but he’s made adjustments to hit some pitches he’s been getting after they got him out a certain way. He can come back and make those adjustments. You mature as you go through it, and it’s a slow process at times, but he’s doing a good job of doing it.
“All the good players that, you hope when they get to the big leagues, like with [Mike] Trout or other special players when they’re in Double-A at this point in their life, he’s a special player. When you’re watching somebody who possesses those attributes and skills, namely the speed and the power, the sky is the limit for players like that, plus he plays a premium position.
“He has the opportunity to show you those skills not only on base, but he covers so much ground in center field and he can throw. He’s an exciting player — he has a chance to be a perennial All-Star. The sky’s the limit.”
Bodie on the way 20-year-old Domingo Santana has handled Double-A:
“He’s 20 and in Double-A, but his talent is appropriate for this level right now. I don’t think that he’s too young for the level. His skills play at this level. He’s also learning to make adjustments, and with his age, it’s more about getting him his experience. Skill and talent will play no matter where you’re at. There are some young players in the Major Leagues right now that people think are young, but their skills and talent can play, and he’s typical of that type of player.
“He makes things look easy in the outfield. He has a great throwing arm. He has plus speed, and it doesn’t always look like he’s going anywhere, but he covers a lot of ground. He has tremendous bat potential. He has power, and he makes hard, solid contact. He needs to learn to command the strike zone, and he will eventually, but right now he’s just inexperienced.
“Those things come with playing and experience. He’s going to be another plus player. It’s an exciting thing to look in the crystal ball for the Houston Astros right now and see the guys on the horizon.”
Portland’s Nick Natoli after ending a hectic travel day with a five-hit game (Sea Dogs’ Natoli delivers in a pinch):
“Being a utility guy, I’m kind of used to it. I did a little of it last year. Today was a little different. I woke up at 4 a.m. for a flight from Virginia to Detroit, and I had a two-hour layover there. I’ve been up for quite a while today. Days like these, you just glide through them. I figured I’d be playing. That’s usually how it goes. You have to have fun with it. I got up and it was a long day, long process.
“Last night, I was in bed around 12:30. We were supposed to play in Frederick this weekend, so I was going to go home to see my family and my girlfriend. I was laying in bed at 12:30 last night, and I got a call saying I needed to be in the airport, or at the clubhouse at four, to the airport by five. We were at home in Virginia, and I was going to travel the next morning. I had to catch a 6 a.m. flight. At the time, it was kind of frustrating.
“It’s nice moving up and playing at Double-A and helping out, but at 12:30, when you’re sleeping or ready to go to bed and about to go see family…”
The Cubs’ Kyler Burke on transitioning from the outfield to starting pitching (Cubs’ Burke continues conversion):
“It was a big transition going from the outfield. It’s almost a completely different lifestyle, especially as a starting pitcher. I went from starting 130 games to starting 20 something. The biggest adjustment is just the mentality of being a pitcher. It’s a little bit of a different routine. I think I’m kind of starting to figure all that out. I’m trying to go out and work hard every day.
“It was definitely a tough decision. We kind of talked about it mutually. It wasn’t something where they said, ‘You need to be a pitcher now.’ It was a mutual thing, and it was definitely tough because I’d worked hard for 4 ½ years to try to be a hitter. I think it was a good move, and I think things are going in the right direction.
“I think it was a little bit of both. The upside, I think, just baseball in general, there are fewer left-handed pitchers. It’s a commodity in any organization. That was a big part of it right there. It was kind of a timing thing where we had a bunch of outfield guys in the system and everything that went into the decision of doing the conversion.”
Atlanta’s Alex Wood on pushing teammate J.R. Graham to adopt the spike curveball (Wood produces “best start I’ve had”):
“J.R. and I talk every day about different kinds of stuff. His fastball, he can run it up there a little higher than I will, but we’re kind of the same pitcher except that he’s right-handed and I’m left-handed. He kind of has the same deal as I have had up until this year where he’s trying to figure out that breaking pitch he can throw all the time for a strike, and not just as a put-away pitch. I was able to pick up my spike curve from Jonny [Venters] and Craig [Kimbrel], and I had kind of been hinting at him, ‘Try it out, see how you like it.’
“Really, when you throw it, the grip itself helps you get on top of the ball without really trying to. For hard throwers like him and me, it helps us both out. He kind of started messing with it, and then his last start, it was probably the best his curve or slider — I’m not sure what he calls it — but it was the best it’s been. It was a good step in the right direction for him, and I know he’s itching to get back out there and throw it some more.”
Wood on trying not to think about when/if he’s promoted:
They haven’t said anything to me. It’s my first full year, and probably the hardest thing is just telling myself to take it a day at a time and trust in the Braves. I try to tell myself — and I write it down after most of my starts — just take it a day at a time and keep throwing well. Whatever happens, happens. Whenever that day comes to go to Gwinnett or to Atlanta, that’ll be the right time for me. I’m trying to get better and learn every start out. That’s my goal right now for sure.
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.
By Jake Seiner
Interviewing for game stories can be a fun process. The thousands of players and coaches spread across the Minor Leagues supply a never-ending chain of unique perspectives on the national pastime. The game story isn’t always the best place for block quotes and expanded thoughts, so once a week, I’m hoping to come here with a look back at some of the more interesting conversations I stumble upon with Minor League players and coaches.
Bits and pieces of these quotes may have appeared over at MiLB.com, but when you’re trying to dig into somebody’s back story, sometimes it’s most helpful to hear it all straight from the source. In that spirit, here’s a look back at some quotes from the past week that I hope you’ll find of interest.
Corpus Christi’s George Springer on jumping from Class A Advanced to Double-A last year:
“The game is a lot cleaner and smoother because the talent level is obviously better. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just one of those things where the experience of the players and their talent — the game speeds up and you have to learn how to slow it down.
“You slow it down and don’t try to do too much. You just have to get your pitch to hit. The [pitchers] in this league are good. If they make a mistake and I don’t hit it, the count swings in their favor. As a hitter, that’s not a spot where you want to be.
“I think it’s a thing that comes from experience. You have to understand who you are as a player. Understand how other teams will attack you and play you. You have to know the strike zone as a hitter and know what it is you’re trying to do. All that has to be made up before you step into the box.
“You focus in on getting a good pitch to hit, and that helps you slow the game down. It’s just one of those things where, with experience, things will slow down. You go out and attempt to slow it down by just slowing it down, strange as that sounds.”
Springer on learning to steal bases in pro ball:
“There’s stuff that happens out there you notice. Guys might do a certain thing if they’re going home or if they’re coming over, but a lot of times you just have to be smart about the count and the situation and how they’re going to attack the hitter. It’s one of those things where you have to pick and choose your time to run, and don’t hesitate if you do.”
Savannah manager Luis Rojas on Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki:
“I didn’t get to see him play last year. As time goes along, and he transitions into pro ball and everything, it’s all about how you take it mentally. Coming from college like he was, right now, he just needs to be more comfortable. He’s been with the organization for almost a year now. His abilities are coming out naturally because he’s more comfortable right now. He’s a good hitter, and his leadership is outstanding. He’s a natural leader, and you need that behind the plate as a catcher. He runs the pitchers really well. Everybody listens when he talks. He’s pretty mature for the level he’s playing right now. I think you’re looking at a future star. He’s showing that right now on a daily basis.”
Rojas on Plawecki dealing with Savannah’s Latin American pitchers:
“The Latin pitchers that are here, they were all with Kevin in Brooklyn last year. He knows their strengths and weaknesses and he knows the actions on their pitches. He can rank their pitches, and knows them well and knows how to communicate with them. It’s just easy for him. There haven’t been any issues with that. He handles it really well. It’s helped that he was with them last year, and in the future with new guys, he won’t have any issues. He finds a way to communicate. He’s even picking up some Spanish.
“It’s extremely important. He’s going to have to catch pitchers from Latin American countries, from Venezuela and Puerto Rico and so on. That skill is really a plus for him. It’s good that he has it in his repertoire.”
Plawecki on dealing with Latin American pitchers:
“Last year, the whole rotation in Brooklyn was Latin. I took some Spanish in high school, but I’m by no means fluent. I know a little here and there to get me by and communicate with those guys in certain situations. It’s important for me to build a relationship with them and it’s important for them to feel comfortable with me back there.
“I can bounce ideas off them and feel comfortable talking to them about what I see. There’s no reason to treat them differently than other guys just because I can have English conversations with some guys.”
Plawecki on the development of his swing:
“I’m just making sure my hands are on time and I’m in synch with my lower half. When I get in trouble is when I start lunging. I need to let the ball travel, let it come to me. I get too overanxious. I’m trying to limit that. It’ll happen. That’s baseball. It’s just important for me to let the ball travel and keep a consistent swing and consistent approach and get consistent results. That’s what I think is improving. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and let the rest take care of itself.”
Corpus Christi’s Asher Wojciechowski on piggybacking into a no-hitter in progress:
“That’s never happened to me. I’ve never come into a perfect game. That was a new experience there. David [Martinez] did a great job and worked really fast, and before I knew it, I was in the game. I knew the situation and just wanted to continue what was going on but not think about it too much. It was definitely a new experience coming into a perfect game.”
Wojciechowski on what’s led to his 18 scoreless innings to begin the year:
“I think so far this year I’ve been able to throw quality strikes and attack the zone and work quickly and mostly just throw quality strikes and not make too many mistakes. That’s been the key so far to this early start. Things are working out.
Wojciechowski on what he considers “quality strikes”:
“That means just staying at the bottom of the zone, staying out of the middle part of the plate and mixing my pitches well. Staying out of the middle of the plate and up in the zone. I’m elevating when I need to, but I’m mostly just staying down and staying on the corners and also pitching to contact. Quality strikes are down in the zone, so I’m working fast and getting ahead of hitters.”
Salem pitching coach Kevin Walker on right-hander Heri Quevedo, who’s making his stateside debut at 22:
“This is his first year from what I know. I haven’t seen any stats on the guy, but seeing what he has, his stuff is very impressive. It’s his first year of pro ball, and for his first real taste of pro action, it’s a good sign.
“I saw him a few times in Spring Training. I actually don’t know how he got over here, but his stuff is good enough to play at this level. He’s been piggybacking for us, and this was his third piggyback. His stuff is good and his arm is really live. He has a smooth, easy arm action, and the fastball really jumps out of his hand and he has a really good slider that jumps out of his hand.
“He’s throwing 92-96, and can play at 94-95, with easy arm action. The ball just gets on hitters really quick. He’s real smooth, and the ball just takes off late in the zone.
“I am surprised by his polish. A couple of times in his last couple outings, he’s tried to nibble or do too much and walked batters. This outing, he got back to letting his stuff play in the strike zone. This outing, I think, opened his eyes that he’s good enough to pitch here, pitch up in the zone. His first couple outings, like anybody here, he didn’t know what to expect and he worked around the strike zone too much and put himself in bad situations. He trusted his stuff and was poised today.”
Tacoma catcher Mike Zunino on calling games in Triple-A:
“You have to know what they want to throw in certain counts. I have to stay one pitch ahead. I’m just talking with the pitchers, laying out what we want to do. You build a foundation in the gameplan so we know what we want to do and how we want to do it.
“You realize what guys do in certain counts. You have guys who do a lot of hitting in certain counts, because that’s what guys like to do. They have their tendencies and their go-tos. You learn with each pitcher, and that takes time. It’s a process. Once the season gets going, that’s when you get in a groove with the pitchers. You figure out what guys can throw what pitch in any count and you build from there. You go out and gameplan and use the scouting report on hitters.”
By Brendon Desrochers
We’re barely a week into the season, but let’s take a brief look at which prospects (those ranked in MLB.com club top-20s) are leading statistical categories (through games of Thursday, April 11):
Total Bases, Home Runs, RBIs and Slugging: Mike Zunino (SEA) with 27, 4, 17 and 1.038
Albuquerque’s Scott Van Slyke is the Minors’ leader in total bases with 32 and slugging at 1.143 (and the venerable Mike Hessman leads with five homers), but Zunino, the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall, is off to a strong start with three doubles a triple and the four home runs in six games (and he is the Minors overall leader with those 17 RBIs). As noted in the first Fantasy Focus, the Florida product and 2012 Golden Spikes Award winner may not be long for the Minors. His bat may be ready already.
Batting Average and On-base Percentage: Byron Buxton (MIN) at .500 and .565
Van Slyke also leads the Minors in average at .570, but the precocious Buxton, MLB.com’s No. 19 overall prospect, is 10-for-20 with a double, triple, two home runs and two stolen bases in five games. His three walks give him the edge in OBP at .565 (Billy Burns of Potomac leads the Minors among all players at .640). Like Zunino, Buxton too was featured in the first Fantasy Focus, and though the second overall pick from the 2012 Draft won’t turn 20 until December, the potential five-tool center fielder already has Twins fans drooling.
Runs Scored: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) with 10
His 51s teammate Josh Satin and Tacoma’s Alex Liddi have 11, but it’s still been a strong start for the Minors’ top catching prospect. He’s drawn seven walks and reached base six times via base hit, which has given him the chance to score those 10 runs. With the way John Buck has been hitting for the Mets, though, d’Arnaud may be in Vegas for a few months longer.
Doubles: Maikel Franco (PHI) with 5
Eleven Minor Leaguers share the doubles lead with five, but Clearwater’s Maikel Franco is the only one of the 11 to rank in his organization’s top 20 prospects. The 20-year-old Dominican third baseman is rated 11th in the Phillies organization, and he’s had four doubles in his last three games (plus two homers and seven RBIs in his last two games). Perhaps this is the year that the raw pop Franco’s always showcased in batting practice will consistently make appearances in live action.
Hits: Xavier Avery (BAL) with 13
Avery is three hits behind High Desert’s Kevin Rivers plus Satin and Van Slyke overall, but his start is impressive nonetheless. He has four doubles and two steals to go with the 13 hits and .351 average for Double-A Bowie. The 23-year-old outfielder got into 32 games with the postseason-bound Orioles last year but still qualifies as a prospect and ranks seventh on the Orioles’ list. Avery continues to strike out a bit too much for a player without much power — he has 10 in 37 at-bats — but at least the Atlanta native has shown a consistent ability to draw walks, even earning a free pass in 10.3 percent of 107 plate appearances in Baltimore.
Profar, as we know, is the complete package as a prospect. Despite starting just 6-for-24 with a double, his eight walks show a mature approach and respect from PCL pitchers and managers. How and where Profar becomes a Ranger for good — especially with the big deal Texas just handed Elvis Andrus — is one of the season’s intriguing subplots.
Grossman came to the Astros from Pittsburgh when Wandy Rodriguez was sent north. The outfielder is known almost entirely for his patience. He became the first player since Nick Swisher to have 100 walks and 100 runs scored in a Minor League season when he achieved the feat with Bradenton in 2011. He has more power and less speed than Reggie Willits, but he profiles similarly to the Angels’ fourth outfielder of years past.
Strikeouts: Jared Mitchell (CWS) with 15
Mitchell is another patient hitter, but he hasn’t been able to battle out of deep counts this season as his 5-for-34 (.147) performance and strikeout total indicate. He does have five walks and three steals this season, but Mitchell’s .213 average in 155 at-bats for Charlotte between this season and last is poor. Though it’s early in this season, at age 24, time is running out for Mitchell to live up to his 2009 first-round billing.
Stolen Bases: Cory Spangenberg (SD) with 9
Another first-round pick (No. 10 overall in 2011), the second baseman has enjoyed his time with Lake Elsinore of the California League, batting .323 and stealing those nine bases without being caught. He has three more than you-know-who and has shown he’s completely recovered from the concussions he suffered last season. His speed will play at any level, and his doubles power could work in PETCO Park, even post-reconfiguration.
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%)
Jarred Cosart, the Astros’ No. 4 prospect and baseball’s 76th-ranked farmhand overall, wasn’t just shipped from Philadelphia to Houston in the July 2011 deal involving All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence — he was also sent home. The Texas native, as a result of the trade, has played for five different Minor League clubs. He has also perhaps played for his last. Cosart, a 22-year-old right-hander, could win a spot in the ‘Stros’ five-man rotation during Spring Training. If his days in the Minors are in fact over, here are the five names he wore across his chest, in a gallery.
Click on any of the pictures to start the slideshow.