Results tagged ‘ Daniel Corcino ’
After Miguel Sano was promoted to Double-A on Sunday by the Minnesota Twins, it brought to mind several other prospects who deserve a promotion due to their dominance at their current level. Below, you’ll find ten prospects who need or deserve a bigger challenge:
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
When you see that 2.97 ERA, some would say that isn’t as dominant as what guys like Dylan Bundy or Archie Bradley have posted over the last two seasons; however, Stephenson has been absolutely dominant over his last six starts, posting a 0.98 ERA, a 0.65 WHIP, and a 50:5 K:BB over 36.2 innings. That is redefining dominance. Stephenson has now made 20 starts for Low-A Dayton and the only thing holding him back from a promotion seems to be the fact that he would be heading to the California League if he was promoted to the next level. The Reds could challenge him and see how he does, they did put Tony Cingrani there in 2012 (where he dominated), or move him straight to Double-A next year, similar to what they did with Daniel Corcino in 2012. Regardless, Stephenson looks like the Reds new top prospect, posting numbers that would make Cy Young winners blush.
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Blame it on the four home runs that Baez hit on June 10th or blame it on the fact that his numbers are absolutely insane for a middle infielder…truly, you can blame it on the fact that Starlin Castro looks like a lost puppy, but the Chicago Cubs need to move Javier Baez up to Double-A. Certainly, Baez isn’t perfect. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired and he has made 26 errors in 56 games for Daytona, but what he lacks in harnessing moving balls, he makes up for with his tremendous bat speed, power, and overall skills when he actually connects. In eight June games, Baez is hitting .500/.559/1.167 with five home runs and 15 RBI. He’s on fire and he has the talent to be moved quickly. Baez needs to be challenged in Double-A and the Cubs need to see how he handles advanced pitching to help determine whether he could stay at short or move to an outfield corner.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
The only thing dumber than the Yankees still having De Paula in Low-A at this point, is the fact that society didn’t find a way to stop Kanye West and Kim Kardashian from procreating. De Paula has dominated all season for Charleston, and at the age of 22, he is a man among boys in the Sally League. His 13.8 K:9 is absurd and his mid-90′s fastball is nearly unfair to the over-matched teenagers and organizational depth cesspools of the lower minors. With Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda nearing the end of the road, it is time for the Yankees to be aggressive with another prospect. De Paula needs to be moved to Tampa (High-A) as soon as possible, and, due to his stuff, early dominance, and age, an attempt at Double-A shouldn’t be out of the question.
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
It isn’t very often that a 19-year-old in his first full season of professional ball would get moved up a level by July, but the No.2 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft is creating quite a stir in the prospect world. His power, speed, and plate discipline are beyond his years and Buxton appears to be ready for and worthy of a different challenge. The Twins are typically very patient and slow with their prospects, but they’ve already promoted Sano and their major league team (28-33) continues to tread water.
Preston Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
The Astros are in a pretty miserable place when it comes to their ability to contend, but they seem to have a tremendous rebuilding plan in place and their recent drafts and trades are perfect examples of what Jeff Luhnow has taken to Houston. They appear to have a nice player in their 2012 7th round pick, a senior signing out of Florida that is showing an excellent approach at the plate in High-A. While Lancaster is a notorious hitter’s paradise, as is most of the California League, the plate discipline, gap power, and consistency (.328 vs. LHP, .307 RHP) are impressive, and he would be a nice addition to Double-A, where he could join…
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
Springer is also worthy of a promotion within the Houston organization and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is wearing an Astros’ jersey by the end of the 2013 season; however, with Justin Maxwell coming back from his injury, a promotion to Triple-A is likely Springer’s first stop. The 36 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases show the tools that he possesses, but his long swing could continue to cause outrageous strikeout totals, especially once he reaches the show. The No.11 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of UConn will be an asset to the Astros at some point.
Cesar Puello, OF, New York Mets
There are four simple words why Puello needs promoted: The Mets Offense Sucks. The slugging right fielder has been on fire over the last ten games, hitting .463/.500/.976 with three doubles, six home runs, 17 RBI, and five stolen bases. There is one issue that may become huge within his development: he was listed on the Biogenesis documents; however, the time it will take between appeals and court cases will make that an unlikely scenario in harming his prospect status, which is getting more impressive with each swing.
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Call me Captain Obvious but the Rays would be a better team by plugging Myers into a lineup that has won 11 of their last 16 and are slowly creeping up the AL East standings, even while their ace, David Price, is recovering from an extended absence due to tricep soreness. After struggling with his plate discipline in the early part of the season, Myers has improved his numbers in June (albeit in just 10 games), while increasing his power, having hit four home runs in just 41 at-bats this month. With seven players with 25 or more RBI already this season, who would go to make room for Myers? Myers will make an impact at some point this season, regardless of the current roster’s success.
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
Alcantara is another good middle infield prospect within the Cubs organization. He is playing second and short in Double-A right now, but regardless of where he ends up, Alcantara will provide a little punch and speed for the rebuilding lovable losers. After having success at every stop during his minor league career, Alcantara should move up to see how he can handle Triple-A pitching, getting him that much closer to helping a starved Cubs lineup.
Carlos Pimentel, RHP, Texas Rangers
This is Pimentel’s third season in Double-A and he appears to finally mastered it, this time as a starter, after pitching well in a relief role in 2012 for Frisco. Still just 23 years old, Pimentel looks like another solid prospect again for a Rangers team that seems to always be in need of pitching help, whether due to ineffectiveness or injuries on the major league roster. Pimentel is posting excellent strikeout numbers and appears to be very difficult to hit. At 6’3″, 180 pounds, he has the frame to be a useful body in Texas, and he deserves a look in Triple-A before he gets a spot start of a longer look in Arlington.
With the season underway and some fans already looking forward to next year, even this early, it is a good time to look down on the farms for some names that you should get to know. Everyone knows who Wil Myers, Dylan Bundy, and Oscar Taveras are at this point, so these are players performing at elite levels who may not be household names…yet.
Aaron Altherr, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Altherr is a big, raw prospect who seems to be putting everything together this year in the Florida State League. He was nowhere to be found on MLB.com’s top 20 list for the Phillies prior to this season, while John Sickels, of minorleagueball.com, had Altherr in the “others” section as a player to watch. Considering what he was before this season, it is pretty shocking that the 6’5″, 190 pound outfielder has jumped to the numbers that he is putting up in 2013, but he was clearly a toolsy guy prior to this year. His lanky frame still had impressive speed and gap power, so as he continues to mature physically, Altherr could become an even more intriguing prospect. Given the nature of how the Phillies handled Domonic Brown, however, you have to wonder if they’ll handle a player similar is size with varying talent in the same manner.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
The strikeout totals are stupid, and so is the fact that the Yankees have De Paula in Low-A ball at the age of 22. Domination doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what De Paula has done this season, and another guy that MLB.com left unranked, but came in as the Yankees No.13 prospect at minorleagueball.com, has flown up the prospect rankings in the early going of the 2013 season. De Paula was signed in November of 2010 out of the Dominican Republic and he has been handled with baby gloves ever since. In a recent Baseball Prospectus chat, Jason Parks had this to say about the Yankee right-hander:
“ Powerful build; arm speed is near elite; fastball can work 91-95l touch even higher; huge life; misses barrels; shows plus potential with both hard, power curve and changeup; command profile could push him to the ‘pen down the line, as could secondary development. He’s a big time arm.”
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
I had a hard time buying into Archie Bradley, even with high rankings from MLB.com (No.24) and Baseball America (No.25) prior to the season. It had a lot to do with the 84 walks that he posted last season, as I like to see that a pitcher can harness his stuff before I consider him elite. However, this time I was way off, as the hits per nine (5.8), K per nine (10.1), and home runs allowed (just six in 136 innings) goes to show the type of stuff and dominance that Bradley possesses. A 95 mph fastball with sink and a strikeout pitch in his curveball have allowed Bradley to post a 63:16 K:BB in 42.2 innings in 2013, and he has already been bumped up to Double-A at the tender age of 20. He was highly touted for a reason and he seems to have found the command necessary to become one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
It’s tough being a middle infielder in the Rangers system these days. With Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler signed to long-term deals and Jurickson Profar waiting in Triple-A, the Rangers have created a logjam of talent in their system that will either waste away or get traded away. It also isn’t very fair for the guys who aren’t Profar to have to try to put up numbers comparable to his to be taken seriously. Which leads us to a very impressive young player. Odor was just 18 last season when he put up a .714 OPS with 37 extra-base hits and 19 stolen bases in full season ball, and he has improved his stats in the early going this season. Not only that, his running game is much more solid, having stolen 11 bases in 12 attempts after being gunned down 10 times in 29 attempts last season. His ceiling isn’t nearly that of Profar’s, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid major leaguer.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Franco has a lot of potential that is not obvious to his game yet, which is shocking when you consider he currently sports an .887 OPS as a 20-year-old in High-A. A third baseman with an excellent arm and solid glove, if Franco continues hitting the way that he has while showing improved plate discipline, the Phillies could have a superstar in the making. Franco doesn’t strikeout in bunches and he appears ready to turn some of those 32 doubles from last season into home runs this year. As he continues to mature, he will be a player to keep an eye on.
Carlos Contreras, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have been all over the place in their handling of Contreras since signing him prior to the 2008 season out of the Dominican Republic. While they finally seemed to have figured out that he should start, Contreras finally seems to know how to pitch now, as well. He is putting it all together for a very bad Bakersfield team in the California League, and while the league is a hitter’s paradise, Contreras has been pretty dominant. He has a .179 batting average allowed to go with his 52:13 K:BB in 42.1 innings. He has a fastball that sits 92-96 and seems familiar with pressure after being a closer last season. We’ll see if he can maintain this production, but he looks like a live arm in the Reds system, which they need with Daniel Corcino pitching so poorly at Triple-A this season.
Jake Buchanan, RHP, Houston Astros
Houston has an interesting method of developing their pitchers, using tandem starting pitching at all minor league levels this season. Jake Buchanan is not one of the club’s brightest stars, nor is he expected to become one, but he really seems to enjoy how the Astros are doing things this year. A 0.93 ERA and 0.64 WHIP over 48.1 innings is pretty impressive, as is the .163 batting average allowed. With the major league roster looking like a mediocre Triple-A team, and a starting rotation with a 6.31 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, and .309 batting average allowed, it doesn’t hurt to know that Buchanan is having success in the minors for a team so desperate for pitching help. The 23-year-old could get a jump to Triple-A in the coming weeks to see if he can produce similar statistics there before getting a shot in Houston.
Aroldis Chapman has impressed many this spring with his 2.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 8 innings, as he continues to be stretched out for the purpose of becoming a starting pitcher. Or is he? Who really knows at this point, the Cincinnati Reds certainly don’t have any idea what they are doing. Certainly, prior to giving three-years and $21 million to Jonathan Broxton to become their closer this winter, they should have had an idea of where they were going to put “The Cuban Missile”, the rotation or the bullpen.
Chapman was absolutely dominant in 2012, posting a 15.3 K/9 with a 1.51 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and a 122:23 K:BB over 71.2 innings. A one-time starter for the Cuban National Team, the Reds have flirted with the idea of returning him to the rotation a couple of times, falling in love with his fastball and brilliance out of the bullpen, instead, while basking in the glory of having all of their starters healthy (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake) for the entire 2012 season.
With those same five guys back for the 2013 season and Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino reaching the upper levels of the Cincinnati Reds minor league system, the Reds are still debating as to how to handle their flame-throwing lefty, with less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day at Great American Ballpark.
For the Cincinnati Reds, the potential that Aroldis Chapman has as a starter seems to be the enticing factor in the thoughts and decision-m aking of the upper management, while the dominance that he has shown as a relief pitcher is overlooked.
That way of thinking isn’t terrible, it has happened many times in recent seasons…
Daniel Bard went from a dominant Boston Red Sox relief arm (2.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 150:54 K:BB over 147.2 innings in 2010 and 2011, combined) to an afterthought in a devastatingly disappointing 2012 season for the Saux. Bard was moved to the rotation, where his potential was greater, getting 54 innings over 10 starts and posting a 5.33 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and a 32:36 K:BB. After going to Triple-A Pawtucket to work on his release point, he posted an even worse 18.71 ERA, 3.23 WHIP and a 4:6 K:BB over just 4.1 innings. Needless to say, Bard won’t be starting any games for Boston in 2013, and he may not have a spot in a very deep Boston bullpen to start the season.
Neftali Feliz was one of the top relief pitchers in baseball from 2009 through 2011, posting a 2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and a 164:56 K:BB over 162.2 innings, while saving 74 games for the Texas Rangers. With those fantastic numbers, how great would he look pitching every fifth day, providing the Rangers with 200-plus innings instead of the 60 to 75 that he was giving as their closer? In 2012, Feliz went to the rotation and did pretty well. For whatever reason, he was brought out of the bullpen for one outing on April 25 against the New York Yankees, four days after tossing 119 pitches in a complete game loss to Detroit, and then the wheels came off. Not right away, though, as he did manage four starts with a 3.32 ERA and 1.38 WHIP before being shut down due to Tommy John surgery, which he didn’t even undergo until August, which will cost him the entire 2013 season, as well. When he returns in 2014, the Rangers will have other starters coming up through their impressive minor league system, which may allow Feliz to move back to the bullpen, taking over the closer role for the aging Joe Nathan.
Joba Chamberlain…what might have been for the one-time dominant reliever for the New York Yankees. After coming up in 2007 and posting a 0.38 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 34:6 K:BB in just 24 innings in 2007, the Yankees moved the powerful right-hander from the bullpen to the rotation on June 3, 2008, before moving him back to the bullpen September 2, when he came back from a stint on the DL due to shoulder tendinitis. He was solid over 12 starts, posting a 2.76 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 65.1 innings with a 74:25 K:BB. After returning from his shoulder injury, though, Chamberlain posted a 2.38 ERA over 11.1 innings with a 14:3 K:BB. That didn’t stop the club from trying him in the rotation again in 2009, this time making 31 starts and amassing 157.1 innings while posting a pedestrian 4.75 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. Chamberlain was moved back to the bullpen in 2010 and wasn’t nearly as dominant as his first go-round there, posting a 4.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and a 77:22 K:BB in 71.2 innings. However, since the start of 2011, it has all been downhill for the big righty. He had Tommy John surgery in June of 2011, he broke his ankle while recovering from that and missed most of the 2012 season, and now, heading into his contract walk year, Joba Chamberlain wants to start, but seems to be on the outside looking in to the Yankees rotation.
The reason that teams will want to move young, successful, dominant relief pitchers to their rotations lies in the results of those like Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox. After dominating out of the bullpen in 2010 and 2011 (a combined 2.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a 111:37 K:BB in 94.1 innings), the White Sox moved Sale to the rotation in 2012. He didn’t disappoint even the harshest observers, posting a 3.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a 192:51 K:BB over 192 innings. The issue now is whether or not Sale’s elbow can handle the rotation, as jumped from 71 innings in 2011 to the whopping 192 in 2012, while missing a couple of starts with “shoulder fatigue” in late-July and early-August, and he was rail thin, standing 6’6″, 168 pounds last season. Chicago seems to have faith in him, though, as Robin Ventura named him the Opening Day starter and the team extended him for five-years, $32.5 million already this spring.
Some other converts from the bullpen to the rotation (or even flip-flopping during their careers) include: C.J. Wilson, Ryan Dempster, John Smoltz, Derek Lowe, Adam Wainwright, Pedro Martinez, Mark Buehrle, and Brett Myers. While some of those names aren’t very…attractive…they did have some success in the rotation during their careers and there are a couple of Hall of Fame pitchers there.
Potential is a scary thing in sports. It is why players get several opportunities before finally being shipped off to become Triple-A depth. It is why roster spots are wasted on Rule 5 draft picks. It is why teams go over slot recommendations to land their draft picks. It is why teams risk injuries to their superstars to see if they can get a little more out of them. You don’t see the Atlanta Braves trying to get more out of Craig Kimbrel, do you? Why should the Cincinnati Reds try to get more potential out of Aroldis Chapman when they know what they have: the second best reliever in baseball (next to Kimbrel), who is nearly a lock to close out the game when you have the lead in the 9th inning.
For every Chris Sale, there is a frayed elbow ligament and a Joba Chamberlain or Neftali Feliz story…and Chris Sale is no sure thing to repeat. Pete Schourek won 18 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1995 at the age of 26, throwing 109 more innings than he did in the 1994 season, and he followed that up with elbow and shoulder injuries before being out of baseball at the age of 32.
Which do you prefer: Domination or Potential?
Spring training is an exciting time for baseball nerds. We get to hear stories about how so many players are in the greatest shape of their lives, while we count down the days until meaningful games begin. The position battles are the most interesting things to watch over the next several weeks, and while it seems like there aren’t a lot of battles to grasp onto, here are a handful that I know that I am going to monitor.
The Cleveland Indians Rotation:
With the additions of Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka on minor league deals, the healing elbow of Carlos Carrasco, and the acquisition of Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the club has gone from having very little pitching depth to a possible abundance. It would be safe to assume that new manager Terry Francona has Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Brett Myers penciled into the first three spots, while youngster Zach McAllister has a leg up on the No.4 spot, though it isn’t guaranteed. The possible battle for one spot between four solid arms is definitely an intriguing battle.
The Detroit Tiger Left Field Job:
When the Tigers signed Torii Hunter to a two-year deal, they created a logjam of corner outfielders. Andy Dirks seems to have the best shot at the every day job, but he still has Brennan Boesch, Quentin Berry, and youngster Avisail Garcia who could steal some at-bats over the course of the season, while prospect outfielder Nick Castellanos could also push for at-bats later in the season. With Victor Martinez returning from an ACL injury, the DH spot is on lockdown. The Tigers could look to make a deal for a veteran relief pitcher, as Bruce Rondon looks like the potential Opening Day closer after 52 appearances over three minor league levels in 2012. We’ll see if a club decides they could use some offensive help, especially if any PED suspensions come down from MLB from the Biogenesis case out of Florida.
The Toronto Blue Jays Second Base Job:
Gone is Kelly Johnson, who signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, and added were Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis. The Jays are absolutely loaded this season and the club will take advantage of a Alex Rodriguez injury and a re-tooling Boston Red Sox club to make a run at the AL East title. Bonifacio is a speedster that can play several positions. He posted a .360 OBP in 2011 and stole 30 bases in just 64 games in 2012 for the Miami Marlins. Izturis can’t really play short or third well anymore and he doesn’t do any one thing incredibly well, but he is 32 years old in 2013 and the Jays could expect about 30 doubles, 6 to 8 home runs, and 10 to 15 stolen bases over 450 to 500 at-bats. The club is in a great position with this “problem”.
The Atlanta Braves Third Base Job:
Well, Chipper Jones is gone and the Braves don’t have a third baseman for the first time since 1995. Atlanta added Chris Johnson as an extra part in their mega-deal with Arizona for Justin Upton and the right-handed hitting, 28-year-old brings a little bit of power with his career .746 OPS. He could be battling Juan Francisco, a powerful, left-handed hitting, soon-to-be 26-year old who has struggled to make consistent contact in his career, posting a 121:22 K:BB in 361 career at-bats. He has a lot of potential, but he is on the weak side of a platoon and doesn’t have a track record to rely on to this point. It will be a sad day in Atlanta without Larry Jones running out there, but the club should be prepared after dealing with all of Jones’ injuries over the years.
The Washington Nationals Catching Job:
Kurt Suzuki was once a very consistent performer, averaging 14 home runs and 67 RBI per season from 2009 to 2011 before totally crashing and burning in 2012, seeing his OPS drop all the way to .605 over 405 at-bats between Oakland and Washington. With Wilson Ramos coming back from an ACL injury, Suzuki could get the every day job for the first month or two of the season, and with solid producers around him in the lineup in Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, and Jayson Werth. Ramos was outstanding in 2011, hitting 15 home runs and posting a .779 OPS at the age of 23. Can he regain his form and confidence after a leg injury? How long until Ramos is a real factor in the position battle?
The Cincinnati Reds No.5 Starter Job:
The sky is the limit for Aroldis Chapman if he is able to transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation. After posting a ridiculous 122:23 K:BB in just 71.2 innings in 2012, Chapman could, potentially, reach 200 strikeouts by averaging 13 K:9, which is still lower than his 14.1 K:9 career average. He could, legitimately, be the clubs best starter, even with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos in front of him in the rotation. However, Mike Leake is still in the picture and the Reds could leave Chapman in the bullpen for part of the season to limit his innings before stretching him out. If that is the case, could Chapman then pull a Kris Medlen in 2013 and go on to post a 0.97 ERA while going 9-0 in 12 starts for the Braves after joining the rotation on July 31. Leake, who posted a 4.58 ERA over 30 starts in 2012 after posting a 3.86 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 2011, is very athletic and is a very good rotation filler, but with Chapman, Tony Cingrani, and Daniel Corcino coming up behind him, he could be a long-relief pitcher or trade bait as early as this spring.
The St. Louis Cardinals No.5 Starter Job:
With Chris Carpenter‘s continued neck issues, which could force him to miss the entire 2013 season, the Cardinals are suddenly lacking pitching depth, as they lost Kyle Lohse to free agency this winter, although he does remain unsigned. In their place, Lance Lynn, who was fantastic before hitting a wall last August, looks like the No.4 starter, but the Cardinals look to have an interesting battle between Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, and, postseason superstar, Trevor Rosenthal. Miller has top-of-the-rotation stuff and could be the team’s ace in the next couple of seasons, while Rosenthal’s triple-digit fastball could be dominating out of the starting rotation. If the club wants to continue to develop Miller and Rosenthal, though, Kelly was solid in 2012, posting a 3.74 ERA over 16 starts, and he doesn’t turn 25 years old until June, so it isn’t like he is a veteran option, either. With Carlos Martinez, another top-of-the-rotation type of prospect on the way, the Cardinals seem to have the depth to overcome their current “shortage” of pitching.
Certainly there are many other battles that will come about due to injuries, suspensions, or additional free agent signings, but these seven look like the biggest as spring training gets underway.
Are there any battles you’re interested in watching over the next couple of months?
Below you’ll find the top 100 prospects in baseball. The top 25 have a short write-up and their career minor league statistics. I am not a major league scout, I am just a baseball fan/nerd who follows all levels. If someone is missing, feel free to make your opinions known in the comments section, but be prepared to get mocked for being a troll!
1) Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers, SS
Profar is the perfect blend of raw power, speed, and on-base skills, and it is all packed into a 19-year-old excelling in the upper levels of the minors. There are rumors that he could be called up to help the Rangers down the stretch, but it would be a shame to have him come off of the bench considering he is probably one of their top five players when he arrives in Arlington. It will be interesting to see where the Rangers work him in with Andrus and Kinsler around.
2) Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles, RHP
It will be interesting what Bundy can do when the O’s take their chains off and let him loose. He just recently reached the sixth inning in a start for the first time. He is well on his way to becoming an ace, and he could reach the Majors by the middle of next year.
3) Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays, OF
For whatever reason, Myers was “blocked” in Kansas City by Jeff Francoeur. The Royals moved the slugging outfielder in the James Shields trade, immediately becoming one of the Rays cornerstone players. He should be the starting right fielder in 2013, with Desmond Jennings in center and Matt Joyce sliding over to right. His right-handed bat fits nicely in the middle of the order, as he and Evan Longoria will sandwich Ben Zobrist.
|AA (2 seasons)||AA||134||488||82||136||34||2||21||79||13||68||129||.279||.369||.486||.855|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||22||84||19||31||7||2||5||18||2||9||18||.369||.427||.679||1.106|
|A (1 season)||A||68||242||42||70||19||1||10||45||10||48||55||.289||.408||.500||.908|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||99||388||66||118||15||5||24||79||2||45||98||.304||.378||.554||.932|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||58||205||28||71||18||2||4||38||2||37||39||.346||.453||.512||.966|
4) Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals, OF
He has been called the next Vladimir Guerrero…as long as his knees don’t deteriorate late in his career, that would make Taveras a near Hall of Fame player. Taveras is a hitter, pure and simple. He may only get better as he matures, which makes him a huge asset for the Cardinals moving forward. He could force management’s hands and get a shot at an everyday job in the spring of 2013.
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||60||241||40||73||14||3||8||45||9||13||46||.303||.342||.485||.828|
|A (1 season)||A||78||308||52||119||27||5||8||62||1||32||52||.386||.444||.584||1.028|
|AA (1 season)||AA||124||477||83||153||37||7||23||94||10||42||56||.321||.380||.572||.953|
|FRk (1 season)||FRk||65||237||35||61||13||8||1||42||9||28||36||.257||.338||.392||.731|
5) Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox, SS
I have him higher than most, but give me a 19-year-old who can post these numbers any day of the week. Bogaerts is still playing shortstop, but he will end up at third base or be forced elsewhere due to the presense of Will Middlebrooks. Powerful, young, projectable frame. Bogaerts will be a total offensive monster.
6) Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians, RHP
For all of his poor warm-up practices, the fact remains that Bauer has an elite arm. He has trouble with command, but he posts ace-level strikeout potential. Moving to a pitcher’s environment in Cleveland from Arizona should make dynasty fantasy geeks drool at his potential. The Indians stole him by getting him for Didi Gregorius, Lars Anderson, and Tony Sipp. He’ll be their No. 1 starter sooner than one may think.
|AA (2 seasons)||AA||8||2||.800||3.18||12||12||65.0||53||26||23||3||34||86||1.338|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||5||1||.833||2.85||14||14||82.0||74||28||26||8||35||97||1.329|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||0||1||.000||3.00||3||3||9.0||7||3||3||1||4||17||1.222|
7) Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates, RHP
Cole still has more stuff than impressive results at this poing in his career, but the stuff could be so dominant, that you have to hold out hope that he figures things out. For a guy who can throw a 90 mph change and curve while topping out in triple-digits with his fastball, you would expect more dominance in his strikeout totals. If he figures it out, he could be #2 behind Profar on this list.
8) Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners, RHP
The Mariners pushed Walker by having him skip the dreaded California League, allowing him to thrive without being destroyed by the thin air and small parks of High-A. Having just turned 20, Walker has posted some solid numbers. He has top of the rotation stuff and will be a nice addition to the Mariners rotation in the coming years. He isn’t Felix Hernandez and won’t come close to him, but how many pitchers can?
9) Danny Hultzen, Seattle Mariners, LHP
Hultzen may just be what he is right now and nothing more, but that is still good. He will throw strikes and toss a lot of innings while having some great success. The college arm will be ready by next season and he could get a look early in the spring, but he will settle in nicely among a group of solid young arms that the M’s are developing. With the Jason Vargas trade, his arrival may have just been pushed forward a bit.
10) Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates, RHP
Taillon has been hyped with very little as far as results. He has looked pretty good for a 20-year-old in High-A, but if he is an ace like others say he is, you have to expect more. He is coming along nicely, but he could be more of a mid-rotation arm than an ace. He still has time, though.
11) Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds, OF
Hamilton was moved off of shortstop due to Zack Cozart’s success in his rookie season in 2012, and with Drew Stubbs gone and a one-year rental of Shin-Soo Choo, Hamilton should be ready for 2014. His speed is game-changing and he increased his on-base skills tremendously in 2012. He will be entertaining to watch, even if he gets on at a .320-clip in the majors. He looks like he will be better than that, though.
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||112||449||80||124||19||13||2||35||62||39||103||.276||.336||.390||.726|
|A (1 season)||A||135||550||99||153||18||9||3||50||103||52||133||.278||.340||.360||.700|
|AA (1 season)||AA||50||175||33||50||4||5||1||15||51||36||43||.286||.406||.383||.789|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||82||337||79||109||18||9||1||30||104||50||70||.323||.413||.439||.852|
12) Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals, RHP
Miller has fallen out of favor with the Cardinals organization due to conditioning and other issues which continue to go unannounced. He has struggled in 2012 in the Pacific Coast League, which is notoriously a hitter’s league. He still has a bright future, but he could be someone who gets dealt if he continues to upset the Cards, who practically gave away Colby Rasmus due to his “issues.”
|A (2 seasons)||A||7||5||3.69||26||26||107.1||102||54||44||7||35||142||1.276|
|AA (1 season)||AA||9||3||2.70||16||16||86.2||72||28||26||2||33||89||1.212|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||11||10||4.74||27||27||136.2||138||78||72||24||50||160||1.376|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||2||3||2.89||9||9||53.0||40||20||17||2||20||81||1.132|
13) Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves, RHP
There were rumors that Teheran’s breaking ball wasn’t up to par. There are also rumors that his attitude was shaky due to being sent to the minors. Whatever went on with him in 2012, it is cause for concern. His numbers in Triple-A were pretty awful, and his brief opportunities in Atlanta haven’t gone well, either. Teheran is still a top-flight prospect, but due to this bump in the road, he may not have what it takes to be an ace. He still has some work to do.
|A (2 seasons)||A||3||5||2.92||14||14||77.0||65||28||25||3||21||73||1.117|
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||3||3||3.68||13||13||58.2||54||29||24||4||11||56||1.108|
|AAA (2 seasons)||AAA||22||12||3.75||51||50||275.2||269||127||115||23||91||219||1.306|
|AA (1 season)||AA||3||2||3.38||7||7||40.0||29||15||15||2||17||38||1.150|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||4||4||2.98||10||10||63.1||56||22||21||6||13||76||1.089|
14) Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals, RHP
Martinez is compared to Pedro Martinez due to his electric stuff and his size. Between the comparisons of Martinez and Oscar Taveras, the Cards have a couple of potential Hall of Famers, huh? Martinez’s strikeouts were down a bit in 2012, but he was 20 and pitching in Double-A, putting up some impressive numbers. He could return to Double-A in 2013 to start the season, but he’ll be someone to watch closely in coming years, as he has ace potential.
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||5||5||4.33||17||17||79.0||78||43||38||2||40||82||1.494|
|A (1 season)||A||3||2||2.33||8||8||38.2||27||10||10||1||14||50||1.060|
|AA (1 season)||AA||4||3||2.90||15||14||71.1||62||27||23||6||22||58||1.178|
|FRk (1 season)||FRk||3||2||0.76||12||12||59.0||28||8||5||1||14||78||0.712|
15) Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks, LHP
Skaggs overtook Trevor Bauer as the club’s future ace, which made dumping Bauer due to his odd techniques a bit easier. He has command of his pitches and has posted incredible numbers the last two seasons. The Diamondbacks have solid depth at starting pitcher, but Skaggs should get a look in 2013.
|A (1 season)||A||9||5||3.29||23||18||98.1||91||38||36||7||25||102||1.180|
|AA (2 seasons)||AA||9||5||2.69||23||23||127.1||108||47||38||12||36||144||1.131|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||0||0||1.80||5||2||10.0||9||4||2||0||2||13||1.100|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||4||2||2.91||9||9||52.2||49||22||17||4||16||45||1.234|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||5||5||3.22||17||17||100.2||81||39||36||6||34||125||1.142|
16) Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets, C
D’Arnaud missed time due to a torn PCL that he suffered in late June. His strikeout rate was pretty alarming, but the power numbers and on-base totals were pretty impressive, still. D’Arnaud could be an offensive force for the Mets, who snagged the catcher from Toronto trade. J.P. Arencibia‘s presence ahead of him, and, for some reason, the re-signing of Jeff Mathis for two-years, $3 million (throwing away money?), made d’Arnaud expendable in Toronto, and David Wright better be praying that d’Arnaud establishes himself quickly because the Mets look awful outside of Wright and Ike Davis.
|A (2 seasons)||A||142||546||83||142||43||1||15||76||8||46||85||.260||.323||.425||.748|
|AA (1 season)||AA||114||424||72||132||33||1||21||78||4||33||100||.311||.371||.542||.914|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||41||141||18||34||3||0||4||20||4||4||23||.241||.278||.348||.626|
|A- (1 season)||A-||48||175||21||54||13||1||4||25||1||18||29||.309||.371||.463||.833|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||67||279||45||93||21||2||16||52||1||19||59||.333||.380||.595||.975|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||71||263||36||68||20||1||6||38||3||20||63||.259||.315||.411||.726|
17) Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins, 3B
28 home runs at the age of 19 with a drastic improvement in his walk rate is all that you need to know about Sano. He does strike out a lot, but that is typical of power hitters, especially those that are this young. Minnesota fans should be excited about Sano, although he is probably two to three years away.
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||107||415||81||121||32||7||24||78||7||33||120||.292||.347||.576||.922|
|A (1 season)||A||129||457||75||118||28||4||28||100||8||80||144||.258||.373||.521||.893|
|FRk (1 season)||FRk||20||64||11||22||2||1||3||10||2||14||17||.344||.463||.547||1.009|
18) Mike Olt, Texas Rangers, 1B/3B
Olt arrived in the Majors to showcase his power at the corners in 2012, though he didn’t get much of an opportunity. He was rumored in potential deals for the Rangers, but they may be better off keeping him and putting him at first base. He is ready to mash, like the Rangers needed more offense…
19) Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins, 1B
Yelich is a pure hitter, much like Oscar Taveras. While Yelich has posted solid speed numbers, he appears to be an intelligent runner than a true burner. An excellent hitter with surprising power for a stick figure, Yelich will move quickly to fill a suddenly disturbing Miami Marlins 25-man roster.
|A (2 seasons)||A||128||484||75||152||34||1||15||79||32||56||108||.314||.387||.481||.869|
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||7||28||3||10||1||1||0||3||1||2||7||.357||.400||.464||.864|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||106||397||76||131||29||5||12||48||20||49||85||.330||.404||.519||.922|
20) Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs, SS
Baez could be a force at short for the Cubs. Just drafted in 2011 out of high school, the Cubs have already moved the youngster to High-A ball, having started the 2012 season late due to concerns about the weather. Regardless, he will continue moving quickly, especially if he keeps hitting like he has.
21) Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins, RHP
If you missed the Futures Game, you didn’t see how big Fernandez is already. The guy has a monstrous frame that makes him look like he could step right into a Major League rotation. His results are impressive to this point and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Marlins rush him next year.
22) Zack Wheeler, New York Mets, RHP
Wheeler was acquired from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran in 2011. He was a talented arm at the time and has established himself as the Mets top prospect since being acquired. Wheeler could still refine his command before he is a finished product, but he has the ceiling to be a top of the rotation starter.
|A+ (1 season)||A+||9||7||3.52||22||22||115.0||100||50||45||7||52||129||1.322|
|A (1 season)||A||3||3||3.99||21||13||58.2||47||27||26||0||38||70||1.449|
|AA (1 season)||AA||10||6||3.26||19||19||116.0||92||46||42||2||43||117||1.164|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||2||2||3.27||6||6||33.0||23||13||12||2||16||31||1.182|
23) Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers, 3B/OF
The Tigers have moved Castellanos to the outfield due to Miguel Cabrera occupying third base. Castellanos is an interesting talent. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t really walk much, while his power numbers are lagging. However, he is just 20 and his 32 doubles show that there is power in there somewhere. If Castellanos beefs up a little, that will help the power numbers, and then he can help the Tigers
24) Gary Brown, San Francisco Giants, OF
Brown’s 2011 numbers were likely the product of the California League, but he still showed solid speed and glimpses of power in Double-A in 2012. His 32 doubles and 33 steals show his potential. Since the Giants have thrived with a lack of pow er production since Barry Bonds left San Francisco, Brown could contribute as a speedster at the top of the order by 2014.
25) Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians, SS
For a team with such a terrible offense, Indians fans sure do love this slick fielding slap-hitter. Lindor is young and has gap power, but he isn’t as valuable to the Tribe as current shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera because he can’t produce runs like Cabrera can. However, Cabrera is only signed through 2014 and Lindor should be ready by about the same time that Cabrera is leaving town. Lindor is a switch-hitter and has very good on-base skills. If he gets bigger, Lindor could become a more valuable offensive weapon. As it stands, he is a solid leadoff or No. 2-hitter.
26) Bubba Starling, Kansas City Royals, OF
27) Carlos Correa, Houston Astros, SS
28) Brett Jackson, Chicago Cubs, OF
29) Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks, RHP
30) Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays, RHP
31) Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros, 1B
32) Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles, RHP
33) Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, 2B/3B
34) Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners, C
35) Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees, C
36) Tyler Austin, New York Yankees, 3B/OF
37) Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, 3B
38) Martin Perez, Texas Rangers, LHP
39) Cody Buckel, Texas Rangers, RHP
40) Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies, SS
41) Jon Schoop, Baltimore Orioles, INF
42) Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, RHP
43) Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners, SS
44) Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres, 3B
45) Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs, OF
46) Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox, RHP
47) Jake Marisnick, Miami Marlins, OF
48) Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers, RHP
49) Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins, OF
50) Mason Williams, New York Yankees, OF
51) Justin Nicolino, Miami Marlins, LHP
52) George Springer, Houston Astros, OF
53) Michael Choice, Oakland Athletics, OF
54) Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics, RHP
55) Daniel Corcino, Cincinnati Reds, RHP
56) Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds, LHP
57) AJ Cole, Oakland Athletics, RHP
58) James Paxton, Seattle Mariners, LHP
59) Kolton Wong, St. Louis Cardinals, 2B
60) Addison Russell, Oakland Athletics, 3B
61) Alex Meyer, Minnesota Twins, RHP
62) Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins, OF
63) Avisail Garcia, Detroit Tigers, OF
64) Kyle Zimmer, Kansas City Royals, RHP
65) Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins, 2B/OF
66) Rymer Liriano, San Diego Padres, OF
67) Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics, RHP
68) Albert Almora, Chicago Cubs, OF
69) Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves, C
70) Cheslor Cuthbert, Kansas City Royals, 3B
71) Manny Banuelos, New York Yankees, LHP
72) Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers, 3B
73) Jackie Bradley, Boston Red Sox, OF
74) Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins, RHP
75) Matt Davidson, Arizona Diamondbacks, 3B
76) Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates, SS
77) Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners, SS
78) Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates, OF
79) Trevor May, Minnesota Twins, RHP
80) Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals, RHP
81) Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays, RHP
82) Taylor Guerrieri, Tampa Bay Rays, RHP
83) David Dahl, Colorado Rockies, OF
84) Dan Vogelbach, Chicago Cubs, 1B
85) Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers, OF
86) Miles Head, Oakland Athletics, 3B
87) Wilmer Flores, New York Mets, SS
88) Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres, C
89) Zack Cox, Miami Marlins, 3B
90) Ryan Wheeler, Arizona Diamondbacks, 1B/3B
91) Hak-Ju Lee, Tampa Bay Rays, SS
92) Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers, OF
93) Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks, OF
94) Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins, OF
95) Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates, OF
96) Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers, OF
97) Kaleb Cowart, Los Angeles Angels, 3B
98) Mike Montgomery, Tampa Bay Rays, LHP
99) Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres, LHP
100) Zach Lee, Los Angeles Dodgers, RHP
When the Cincinnati Reds signed Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal on Wednesday, it did a couple of things. It solidified the back end of the bullpen for 2013, the same ‘pen that finished 2012 as the best in baseball, and it opened the door in moving Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation.
The opportunity to see what Chapman can do as a starter is very enticing, but due to his success in the bullpen the last couple of seasons, you have to wonder if this is the right decision. One could even mention the fact that the 2012 Cincinnati rotation did not miss a start and all five men are supposed to be back in 2013.
So, while some fans may question Chapman’s move to the rotation, you now have six starting pitchers, a gluttony in baseball, capable of pitching well above average…if healthy. What do you do now?
Johnny Cueto is the ace. 28-14 with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP since the start of 2011, with his peripheral stats showing positive tendencies. In 2012, Cueto finally reached 200 innings in a season, and while there were some bumps in the road toward the end of the season, he posted a 1.35 ERA over his final three starts of the season. He is the anchor of this rotation and is signed through 2015.
Mat Latos was the huge acquisition prior to the start of 2012. It cost the Reds a pretty penny as far as their future, but Latos showed his worth, finishing 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He proved that he could pitch anywhere, even after moving from San Diego’s spacious Petco Park to Great American Ballpark. Latos is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and his 41 wins prior to the age of 25 will surely drive up his price. Luckily, he is under team-control through 2015, giving the Reds an Ace A and Ace B option for the next three seasons.
Bronson Arroyo is the crafty veteran of the group. In Arroyo’s three best seasons in Cincinnati, he is 43-31 with a 3.62 ERA and in his three worst seasons, he is 34-38 with a 4.68 ERA. Considering he has been around for seven seasons, which pitcher is he? Arroyo thrives on being able to mix his offspeed arsenal in with his fastball, changing speeds and leaving batters guessing. With power pitchers surrounding him in the rotation, it is possible that Arroyo will be able to capitalize on his stuff, dropping in his loopy curve and average fastball to one more successful season in Cincinnati. He turns 36 years old in February and reaches free agency after the 2013 season.
Homer Bailey has been driving Cincinnati fans crazy since 2007, never capitalizing on his stuff and potential…until 2012. Bailey finally put it all together and went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA, tossing a career high in innings with 208. His masterful seven inning, ten strikeout start against the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS was one for the ages, and he will probably receive a huge amount of support the first time that he toes the rubber at GABP in 2013. Bailey turns 27 next May and he is team-controlled through arbitration until reaching free agency in 2015.
Mike Leake is just 25 years old and he doesn’t reach free agency until 2016. Leake is a rare breed, a player who is in the majors without ever having played in the minors, a pretty short list of players can say that. He has a career 28-22 record and a 4.23 ERA over 83 games and 485 career innings. Leake wasn’t very impressive in 2012, posting a 4.58 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. His stuff is very similar to Bronson Arroyo‘s, in that he thrives on location and changing speeds. He could very well become the crafty, mid-rotation starter that Arroyo is upon Arroyo’s eventual departure.
However, are any of these pitchers worth booting from the rotation? How would Bailey do as a setup man, being able to throw his fastball at increased velocity for short outings? Should Arroyo or Leake be removed from the rotation to step in as a long-man, possibly shadowing Aroldis Chapman every fifth day to limit his innings throughout the season? Or, are one of these pitchers trade bait now? Could the team upgrade in centerfield or find a leadoff man by including Leake in a deal for someone like Denard Span?
The Cincinnati Reds have a good problem right now, but if they started the season tomorrow, they probably won’t be using a six-man rotation. How do you see this, realistically shaping up?
Chapman has made 137 appearances in his brief major league career, all of them out of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. He has posted a ridiculous 212:69 K:BB in 135 career innings, allowing just 68 hits and compiling a 2.33 ERA and 14.1 K:9 in those 137 appearances.
What more could Chapman do, though? Could he dominate in the same way as a starting pitcher?
Chapman started four games in spring training prior to the 2012 season. He compiled a 1.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 15:1 K:BB in 15 innings. While it was a small sample size, the focus on location and being smart with his pitch count may have led to his increase in strikeout rate (44.2% in 2012 vs. 34.3% in 2011) and his dramatic decrease in his walk rate (8.3% in 2012 vs. 19.8% in 2011). Chapman’s average fastball also dropped from 98.1 in 2011 to 98.0 in 2012, which isn’t as dramatic as the drop from 99.6 in 2010.
Chapman started 13 games in 2010 when he was coming up through the minors, but he was brought up for the 2010 postseason push, making 15 appearances out of the bullpen in September and another two in the NLDS loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He then “started” three more games in 2011 in the minors, but those were games that he was in the minors working on his command issues, not legitimate starts to develop arm strength or to stretch him out.
Ryan Madson is coming back from Tommy John surgery and the Reds could sign him at a discount, hoping that he returns to his 2011 form. Madson, after all, posted a 2.89 ERA over 329.2 innings with a 314:97 K:BB from 2007 to 2011 before missing all of the 2012 season.
The Reds could also try to sign Jonathan Broxton, whom they acquired from the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline in 2012, now a free agent, as well. Broxton posted a solid 2.82 ERA over 25 appearances for the Reds down the stretch. While he doesn’t strikeout nearly as many as he used to (a K:9 of 13.5 in 2009 but just 7.0 in 2012), he is also not issuing as many walks, posting a career best 2.6 BB:9 in 2012.
So, the Reds could have other external options at closer, while possibly handing over closer duties to in-house candidates J.J. Hoover, Logan Ondrusek, Sean Marshall, Nick Massett, or Jose Arredondo. While some fans may worry about how some of those mentioned would handle stressful situations, you never know until they are given the chance.
If Chapman were to move to the rotation, the Reds would have Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, and Mike Leake to work around him. Could the club shop a starter for a leadoff hitter if they go ahead and count on Chapman, or could they move Leake to closer? Maybe his off speed junk would confuse opposing hitters late in the game?
Then…you have the reasons for concern. One name jumps out for the transition from closer to starter: Neftali Feliz. In his first 154 appearances in the majors, Feliz saved 74 games and posted a 2.55 ERA over 162.2 innings with a 164:56 K:BB. The Texas Rangers then tried to move him to the rotation in 2012, trying to get the most out of their 24-year-old star, but it didn’t go well. Feliz lasted all of eight games, seven starts, and 42.2 innings before being shut down with elbow soreness in May before having Tommy John surgery on August 1.
The Reds have Chapman under team control until after the 2016 season. Is it finally time to see how much he could dominate over 170 to 200 innings, or is he too important at the end of games? Reds fans were, at times, terrified when Danny Graves or Francisco Cordero came out to close games, but, with Chapman, things seemed safe.
Chapman is a fantastic talent, and even if he “only” throws 95 miles per hour as a starter, he still has the stuff to make opposing hitters look foolish. However, are those 32 starts and abundance of innings more valuable to the Reds and their $25.25 million investment than the 70 games that he finishes?
After watching, or not watching, what happened to Neftali Feliz, the Reds should probably keep him in the closer’s role. He has dominated there and there isn’t anything saying Chapman is guaranteed to become Justin Verlander as a starting pitcher. It isn’t like the Atlanta Braves are thinking about moving Craig Kimbrel to starting pitcher this offseason. Some pitchers are designed for certain roles. Chapman has proven that he is a lockdown, shutdown closer. Keep him there and keep your bullpen, which was best in baseball (based on their 2.65 ERA), intact.
With the respectable rotation of Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Arroyo, and Leake, the Reds can afford to keep Chapman in that role. And with Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino ready to step into the rotation from the minors, there really isn’t a reason to tamper with the makeup of what worked so well in 2012.
These are guys who you should keep an eye on as they advance to higher levels in the Minors in 2012. You may know some of the names, you may not…that’s why you’re reading this anyway. There are reasons why I name these guys: achievement based on age at current level, advanced plate discipline, doubles power (which may or may not become homerun power as a player matures), and position value.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa: Lee is a speedy middle infielder. He may not ever hit for power, though he has 37 XB hits this year, he will play well with what the Rays do with speed and their lineup. Hell, they found value in Sam Fuld! Lee made it to Double-A this season at the age of 20, and the South Korean can play. He could get a taste by the end of next season if he plays well in Montgomery.
Joseph Terdoslavich, 1B, Atlanta: The Braves should probably move him off of first with Freddie Freeman firmly entrenched there in Atlanta, but you have to take note of what Terdoslavich has done this season. He is a little old for his level (High-A, turns 23 on 9/9) but he was a college bat. Terdoslavich is a switch hitter who smashed 52 doubles, 2 triples, and 20 homers in the Carolina League, which has been a pitcher-friendly league for years. His plate discipline isn’t spectacular, especially for a more advanced hitter, but it’ll work if he hits like that. As he continues adjusting to wood bats, he could become an offensive force. He just has to hurry it up a bit based on his age.
Daniel Carroll, OF, Seattle: You certainly need to take the California League as a grain of salt when you rank players coming out of there. It’s like a wiffle-ball league in your backyard as a kid, the ball just goes out, you just want to see how many homers you can actually hit. Carroll isn’t a homerun hitter, though he did hit 18. He is interesting even though he struck out 157 times. He interests me because he is just 22, he had 20 doubles, but he took 88 walks and stole 62 bases. His gap power and speed combo could play amazingly well in Seattle. They won’t get Ichiro-in-his-prime type of numbers from Carroll, but he could be an asset if he gets moving through Seattle’s system.
Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego: When you look for potential power guys, this is one that could make you drool. At the age of 20, Liriano had 30 doubles, 8 triples, and 12 homers while stealing 65 bases and posting a .383 OBP. He could become useless in Petco but you have to wonder if that speed and gap power could make him an asset there, much like Carroll for Seattle. Liriano did his damage in Low-A this year, though he did get a taste of the California League. He could put up ridiculous numbers in a full season there next year and improve his prospect status. He is definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis: Adams skipped High-A and went on to dominate Double-A in 2011, posting a .300/.357/.566 slash with 23 doubles, 32 homers and 101 RBI in the Texas League. A left-handed hitter, Adams is probably a bit too large (6’3″, 230 lbs) to move to the outfield, so he is one to monitor if the Cardinals do lose both Berkman and Pujols to Free Agency. He just turned 23 and he was a college bat, so he is what he is right now. He’s an intriguing prospect for a team that may need a long-term solution at first.
Grant Green, SS, Oakland: If you’ve been living in a cave in Afghanistan, you may not know who Green is. He isn’t the “Moneyball”-type of player that Oakland used to stash, but he is productive, ripping 33 doubles and 9 homers in the Texas League. He’ll be 24 for all of next season and he’ll be in Triple-A to start the year. It will be interesting to see how Oakland handles him with Cliff Pennington doing a solid but not spectacular job at short this season, and Jemile Weeks looks like a solid addition at second.
Scott Van Slyke, 1B, L.A. Dodgers: Why should you watch a 25-year-old, Double-A first baseman? Because James Loney made $4.8 million this year to be a waste of space and Frank McCourt may actually do something smart and not give him a raise in arbitration. If the Dodgers do that, Van Slyke could get a shot. He posted a .345/.427/.595 slash at Double-A where he was repeating after spending just 65 games there last year. His 45 doubles, 20 homers, and a 100/65 K/BB in 130 games was very impressive. I know my dad would love to root for another Van Slyke, so we’ll see if or when he gets a shot.
Daniel Corcino, RHP, Cincinnati: A 5’11″ right-handed Dominican pitcher…not named Johnny Cueto…Sure. He turned 21 in August and posted a 156/34 K/BB in 139 1/3 innings this season for Low-A Dayton. He could go to Bakersfield in the California League next season, which could destroy his confidence and abilities, but if he does well, we’ll know that he is a legit prospect. They could just send him to Double-A, too, though.
Trevor May, RHP, Philadelphia: May is 6’5″, 215, built to be an innings-eating machine for a team that doesn’t really need more studly pitchers. He pitched the whole season at the age of 21 in High-A, posting a 208/67 K/BB in 151 1/3 innings pitched. His overall 10-8 record and 3.63 ERA shows that he can improve, but he has stuff that could make him useful to someone if the Phillies don’t need him.
Chad Bettis, RHP, Colorado: Bettis pitched great this season in the California League and his career 2.70 ERA over 236 2/3 innings and 240/58 K/BB shows that it wasn’t a fluke. He was a 2nd round pick out of Texas Tech in 2010 and he should continue moving up the Rockies system to become a solid #3 starter. He could become more if he does what he did this year in the upper levels.