With the constant influx of new talent, new names, new statistics, it can be easy to lose sight of a prospect who’s fallen from grace. A little more than a year ago, in their 2012 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America ranked Joe Benson as the #2 overall prospect in the Twins organization. Benson was coming off a 2011 in which he hit .285/.388/.495 with 16 homers at Double-A New Britain, finishing the year with a call-up to the big club and a spot on the 40-man. He was on the fantasy radar before injuries delayed his 2012 debut, but he hasn’t been relevant since then. Across four levels in 2012, the former 2nd round draft pick managed a line at .202/.288/.336. And after watching him hit .192/.256/.285 through 43 games at Triple-A Rochester this season, the Twins had seen enough and released Benson to make room for P.J. Walters. The Rangers claimed him have assigned him to Double-A. At 25 years old, there’s still a glimmer of hope for the toolsy outfielder, but that will fade quickly if the horrendous hitting continues.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Twins fans might be in for a frustrating year at the big league level, but trust me, the future is bright in Minnesota. No other organization can boast such a high-profile pair of hitting prospects as the Twins can with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Sano, who boasts raw power unmatched by any other minor leaguer, is simply on fire. The 19-year-old is hitting .370/.429/.765 with 9 homers in 91 trips to the plate with High-A Fort Myers. Meanwhile, Buxton, the 2nd overall pick last June, is having no trouble with his first taste of full-season baseball, batting .400/.524/.662 with 3 homers and 8 stolen bases through 82 PA. I went over my Byron Buxton fantasy the other week, in case you missed it. Judging by tools alone, these two are among the most exciting talents in baseball. The fact that they’re backing up their tools with such serious production on the field only vaults their stock to new heights — I’m talkin’ top ten overall for both. 2016 can’t arrive soon enough for Twins fans.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Jorge Soler was off to a great start at High-A Daytona, batting .435/.519/.739 with 2 homers through his first six games. The was promising news for the Cubs, who inked him to a nine-year, $30 million contract last summer. The 21-year-old Cuban is not a cost-controlled prospect — there’s an opt-out clause that would make him eligible for arbitration after three years service time, but both sides would be thrilled if it came to that. In any case, there’s incentive for the Cubs to develop him quickly in order to make sure the bulk of those nine years are spent at the highest level. Chicago was smart to make such a long-term investment in Soler — it gives them a little developmental cushion — but they’re still trying to avoid unnecessary setbacks. Things were going well in that department up until Wednesday, when Soler decided to brandish a baseball bat as he sprinted toward the opponent’s dugout following a benches-clearing incident. The league suspended him five games, which isn’t a huge setback, but the Cubs are reportedly investigating the matter further and could tack on more time. I doubt it’ll come to that, but the ordeal still raises some major character concerns. Let’s hope this was an isolated incident and that the new regime in Chicago doesn’t enable such behavior as the old group did with headcases like Carlos Zambrano.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (19) | 2011 (13) | 2010 (6) | 2009 (22) | 2008 (15)
2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] AL Central
AAA: [72-72] International League – Rochester
AA: [75-67] Eastern League — New Britain
A+: [60-75] Florida State League – Fort Myers
A: [77-63] Midwest League – Beloit (Cedar Rapids beginning 2013)
Arizona Fall League Players — Peoria Javelinas
Logan Darnell (LHP); Kyle Gibson (RHP); Caleb Thielbar (LHP); Michael Tonkin (RHP); Evan Bigley (OF); Nate Roberts (OF)
Chris Parmelee (1B/OF); Brian Dozier (SS); Liam Hendriks (RHP); Cole De Vries (RHP); Sam Deduno (RHP); Pedro Florimon (SS); Darin Mastroianni (OF)
The Run Down
There are certainly other teams in the discussion, but when evaluating the most improved farm systems in baseball over the past year, Minnesota needs to be considered near the top. Owning the #2 pick in the draft is always a nice way to bolster a club’s young talent, but the Twins went beyond that in 2012, as impact talents lived up to hype, and forgotten prospects returned to form. And they continued improving into the offseason, adding big-ceiling starting pitchers in Alex Meyer from Washington and Trevor May from Philadelphia. The Twins shipped out MLB outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere in order to acquire those arms, but with capable outfield prospects pushing through from the minors this year, the added pitching depth seems like a smart move. Do take note of this system as there’s plenty to be excited about in terms of the fantasy game, and certain prospects should be making their impacts this year.
Okay, it’s more of a blog post than an awards show, but it’s still really effing prestigious. Well, maybe it’s not prestigious either, but no one watches sports award shows anyway, and I think we can all agree that the ESPY’s would be much better if it were simply a short-form blog post. I’ll be digging into team-by-team 2013 previews in the coming weeks, so what we have for you here is one last look around the 2012 Minor League Baseball action. Enjoy.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Last Wednesday, I joined Rudy and Nick for the Razzball Baseball Podcast. On the show, we counted down my top 15 prospects, but truth be told, I was fully prepared to discuss my top 20. So, with the MiLB season winding down and all, I thought now would be a good opportunity to put the entire list out there in written form. This is a preliminary ranking — I’ll roll out more official and specific ranks during the off-season, once the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to gather more intel. Please keep in mind that this list is limited to prospects still in the minors prior to September 1st call-ups. Also, in the interest of not being too farsighted, I included only guys who’ll be making their impacts within the next year or two (which is certainly a matter up for debate). Anyway, my top 20:
1. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers – Current Level: MLB Age: 19 – Five-tool shortstop projects to go 20/20 annually, and he’s certainly gifted enough to do more.Please, blog, may I have some more?
I don’t often interest myself with indie league baseball, but with this whole 50-year-old Roger Clemens comeback ordeal, I just had to watch. And from what I witnessed, Clemens was good. He allowed just one baserunner (a hit) over 3.1 IP, striking out two, showing good command of a fastball in the mid-upper-80s. After watching the outing, there’s no reason to believe that Clemens couldn’t be as effective as Jaime Moyer was when he pitched with the Rockies this year. A sideshow type return to the bigs seems plausible here — scouts from the Astros and the Royals were reportedly in attendance. Of course, my cynical mind wonders how, after five years away from the game, a 50-year-old man can compete at a major league level. I can’t help but think The Rocket’s return is PED-fueled — and it’s not like there’s no precedent with this guy. Clemens has an enormous ego. That’s no secret. The past five years have been brutal on his legacy, and a “legitimate” return to the majors could go a long way in repairing his image. I’m not familiar with the PED testing policy employed by the independent Atlantic League, or if there is one at all. And obviously this is purely speculative thinking. But, c’mon. Doesn’t it seem a little fishy?Please, blog, may I have some more?
Carlos Martinez | RHP, Cardinals | Born: 9/21/1991
The Cardinals entered 2012 with a couple of aces-in-the-making within their minor league ranks. Both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez were viewed as five-star-type pitching prospects, very near to the can’t-miss variety. Well, we know now that Triple-A has been quite the learning experience for Miller — his struggles have been so severe of recent that the Cards are skipping his turn in the Memphis rotation so he can work on mechanical issues. With Miller’s development reaching a lapse for the first time, St.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Perhaps Bryan LaHair isn’t quite the slob I thought he was. Through 110 PA, LaHair is batting .359/.455/.717 with eight homers and it no longer looks as if he’ll be simply stepping aside to make room for top prospect Anthony Rizzo. If Rizzo is to arrive this season, the Cubs are going to have to find a way to build a lineup that accommodates both players. LaHair made 14 appearances at OF last year, one so far this year, and slotting him permanently at a corner OF post would appear to be the move. With other players (Soriano) complicating the matter, though, it might take another trade from the Cubbies to make space available. Meanwhile, Rizzo’s OPS at Triple-A Iowa sits at 1.077 and with every game that passes, it becomes clearer that he’s too advanced for minor league ball.Please, blog, may I have some more?
I don’t think I saw an organizational ranking all off-season that didn’t have the White Sox dead last. Not that they deserve to be ranked higher – the Sox simply refuse to spend big money in the draft, and their presence in the Latin markets has been lacking of recent. The first month of the 2012 baseball season, however, has brought a bit of good news to the Southsiders, as former top prospect Jared Mitchell has reemerged as an elite outfielder in Double-A. Mitchell, who had a rough go at High-A in 2011 after missing all of 2010 with an ankle injury, has posted a .962 OPS through 28 games with Birmingham. He’s gathered 13 XBH and 6 SB within 120 PA. Mitchell’s hot start is greatly encouraging for a system in need of a boost.Please, blog, may I have some more?