2013 was supposed to be a breakout year for Trevor Story, who was coming off of an exciting 2012 campaign at Low-A Asheville where hit .277/.367/.505 with 18 HR and 15 SB. That line, combined with the fact he was stepping up to the hitter-friendly environment of the Cali League, made for some serious hype last spring – hype which his on-field performance couldn’t match. Story ended 2013 with a forgettable .233/.305/.394, 12 HR, 23 SB line. He’s out to repair his image in 2014, though. In a repeat assignment at High-A Modesto, the 21-year-old SS/3B is hitting .306/.394/.516 with 9 XBH (1 HR), and 11 SB in 71 PA.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers – Odor owns one of MiLB’s most promising hit tools, and that aspect of his game has been evident ever since he stepped on a professional diamond. His game power, on the other hand, hasn’t drawn the same praise throughout the 20-year-old’s development. But since Odor arrived at Double-A late last season, exciting long ball potential has begun to reveal itself – in 44 games at Frisco dating back to last August, he’s knocked 9 homers.
Micah Johnson, 2B, White Sox – After capturing the fantasy community’s attention in 2013 by swiping 98 bags across three levels (A-, A+, AA), Johnson, age 23, is off to a superb start at Double-A Birmingham, hitting .356/.433/.542 with 2 HR and 3 SB through his first 15 games.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates – With Springer now in the bigs, Greg Polanco is looking like the best stash left in the minors, in front of guys like Oscar Taveras and Javy Baez thanks to what appears to be a clear path to playing time in Pittsburgh. It’s tough to debate the readiness aspect, too – the 22-year-old continues to rake at Triple-A, batting .439/.475/.667 through 14 games.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays – After a rough start last weekend, during which he walked 4 batters and plunked 3 more in just 4 innings of work, Sanchez tossed a clean outing on Friday, whiffing 6 and allowing only 6 baserunners through 6 IP. The 21-year-old is supremely talented, bringing true front-end potential to Toronto, so it’s a relief to see him quickly shake off the tough outing.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals – The Nationals will monitor Giolito closely in his first full season back from TJ surgery. Through three contests so far at Low-A Hagerstown, the 19-year-old has tossed just 13 IP, allowing 3 runs and whiffing 15 along the way.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – In his first taste of upper levels baseball, Bryant is expectedly holding his own: .286/.455/.643, 4 HR, 3 SB through 14 games. The 22-year-old’s production has been steady to this point, but I’m anxious to see how the hype around him inflates once he catches his first heater at Double-A.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers – Speaking of heaters, Pederson continues to mash at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .436/.551/.800 with 5 HR and 5 SB through 15 games. It’s truly a shame that there’s no opportunity for him in LA just yet.
Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox – Betts, too, is off to a blazing start, hitting .417/.463/.646 through his first 12 games at the Double-A level. The 21-year-old has the unfortunate distinction of being stuck behind Dustin Pedroia on Boston’s depth chart for the foreseeable future. For that reason, don’t be surprised if his name pops up in trade rumors later this summer.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians – Bauer’s bounce-back campaign is continuing on the right track at Triple-A Columbus, where he’s allowed just 1 run over 12 IP while posting a 18/3 K/BB. After being plagued by a 1.58 WHIP and a K/BB ratio at just 1.45 in 2013, it’s encouraging to see the 23-year-old hitting his spots in the early season.
Jesse Biddle, RHP, Phillies – Biddle tossed a gem at Double-A Reading on Friday, allowing just 3 baserunners through 7 IP while striking out 11. I’m anxious to see how his offspeed stuff fares versus experienced bats at the Triple-A level, and we could get the opportunity to do so soon, provided the 22-year-old’s hot start continues.
Jon Singleton, 1B, Astros – Jon Singleton’s pop is noted, but his approach and pure hitting ability are skills that often go overlooked. He hasn’t played a full season’s worth of ballgames since 2012 at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he hit .284/.396/.497 in 131 contests. So far in 2014, Singleton is doing his best to remind folks of his all-around offensive skill set, posting a line at .343/438/.762 with 6 HR through his first 15 games at Triple-A.
Aledmys Diaz, SS, Cardinals – The much publicized Cuban defector has begun his stateside career at the Double-A level where he’s hitting .333/.340/.583 with 2 HR and 2 SB through 13 games. I’ve been cautious about touting Diaz, mostly because I simply haven’t seen enough of him, but it’s difficult not to get excited about the early results.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds – Following a terrific 2014 debut at Double-A Pensacola (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K), Stephenson has struggled to find the strike zone. In two outings since then, his K/BB reads 3/9 and 8 runs have crossed the plate against him.