Back in May, I wrote a Courtney Hawkins fantasy. You can read it here. At that point in time, Hawkins was at High-A Winston-Salem knocking homers at a good rate, but he was struggling to make contact, striking out more than 50% of the time he stepped to the plate. Near the end of the writeup, I said this: “The Sox must be thrilled with the huge power Hawkins is showing, but if the K’s continue at this rate, they’ll need to consider bumping him down the ladder to a level where he can more easily focus on approach and pitch recognition. There’s plenty of time for him to improve in that regard, and for fantasy baseball purposes, I truly hope he doesn’t go the way of the Donkey. Either way, though, he’s a fascinating dude to follow.” So here’s our Courtney Hawkins update, almost four months later: .182/.252/.407, 19 HR, 9 SB, 38% K-rate in 95 games at High-A. In other words, the whiffs continued, and the White Sox never demoted him. Hawkins is an extraordinary athlete with enormous upside, and I rarely am one to question a team’s development strategy, but it bothers me that the Sox have allowed their 19-year-old prized prospect to struggle so severely all season long. He won’t be ready for Double-A next spring, and I’m beginning to worry that this 1st rounder might never realize his potential.
Lewis Brinson | OF, Rangers — Let’s keep the Courtney Hawkins theme going with another 2012 1st round pick who plays outfield and strikes out 38% of the time. Brinson is having his swing-and-miss troubles at Low-A Hickory, where his line on the year reads .234/.316/.428, 20 HR, 21 SB. In general, this sort of all-or-nothing production does not bode well.
Lucas Giolito | RHP, Nationals — Giolito was arguably the highest upside arm drafted in 2012, but elbow concerns caused him to slip to the middle of the first round where the Nats drafted him at 16th. He tossed only 2 IP in 2012 before being shut down for TJ surgery. Well, it’s been a long trek back for Giolito, but he’s now looking like the premium prospect that Washington originally drafted. After performing quite well through 8 starts in complex league play, the 19-year-old has been bumped up to Short-season Auburn, where on Wednesday he tossed 5 innings of scoreless baseball in his NYPL debut.
Maikel Franco | 3B, Phillies — Franco continues to mash at Double-A Reading, drilling 4 homers in his last 6 games. Through 58 games at Double-A the 20-year-old is hitting .330/.354/.545 with 12 homers. He should make for a nice fantasy 3B, perhaps as soon as next summer.
Jonathan Gray | RHP, Rockies — The 2013 3rd overall pick continues to kill it at High-A Modesto. Gray struck out 10 in 5 frames on Tuesday, boosting his K/9 mark to 13.3. Through 3 California League outings, the 21-year-old has a 0.95 ERA and a .074 WHIP.
Eddie Butler | RHP, Rockies — When Gray was promoted to Modesto a few weeks back, the Rockies moved Eddie Butler to Double-A Tulsa in a corresponding move. Butler, age 22, has handled the transition as well as can be imagined, allowing only 1 run through 4 starts while whiffing 18 and walking only 2. Too bad these guys have to pitch at Coors when they surface.
Tyler Glasnow | RHP, Pirates — The Bucs love their big-bodied pitchers and at 6-foot-7, Glasnow fits the mold. The 20-year-old has been outstanding the entire year at Low-A West Virginia, but he’s doing some of his best work in the month of August — 32 K’s in his last 14 IP.
Miguel Almonte | RHP, Royals — Commenter Daniel asked my thoughts on Miguel Almonte, and I thought I’d oblige… mostly due to the fact that Almonte is particularly intriguing. The 20-year-old has been steady throughout the year at Low-A Lexington, based mostly on the merit of his fastball/change combo. Both offerings are plus pitches, and they’ve steered him to an impressive line in his full-season debut: 3.16 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.8 K/9. Almonte’s breaking ball is a work-in-progress, but if he can improve in that department over the next couple seasons, he’ll be oozing with front-end potential.