Results tagged ‘ Oakland A’s ’
While the season isn’t quite so young anymore with roughly 100 games remaining, the early season surprises and the small sample sizes that went along with them aren’t nearly so odd. Who is legit? Who will fall off? Who is still surprising?
Surprise, surprise. When you look at Iglesias’ career .257/.307/.314 line in four minor league seasons, and then you look at this:
Iglesias’ success would still qualify as a small sample, given his 83 plate appearances, but considering his struggles in the minors, especially his .202/.262/.319 line at Triple-A in 2013, his production is absolutely incredible. His likelihood to maintain this success is slim to none, unless, of course, Iglesias was just bored playing in the minor leagues. The 23-year-old appeared to be nothing more than organizational depth or a glove-based defensive replacement as recently as a month ago. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Not many guys have their best seasons in their mid-30′s without “the cream” or “the clear”, but that is exactly what Cuddyer is doing this season:
Cuddyer is on pace to shatter his career highs in OPS, AVG, and OBP, while posting productive numbers across the board. The Colorado lineup has been tremendous this season, leading to their current 2nd place ranking in the NL West standings. With Cuddyer’s ability to fill in for the oft-injured Todd Helton at first base and solidifying one of the most productive outfields in baseball, along with Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, he continues to be a valuable, under-appreciated asset to fantasy teams and “real-life teams” alike.
What appeared to be a super-productive May has continued into June:
Brown is a superstar and his early-career parallels to Braves outfielder Jason Heyward have finally reached fruition. If you take at look at his overall numbers, below, you can see how unproductive he was during the first month of the season:
Can pitchers make adjustments to make him an afterthought again in Philadelphia? It appears highly unlikely, as Brown looks like an All-Star, who is capable of reaching 30-35 home runs this season, while pacing an aging Phillies’ lineup.
Donaldson has always had a solid, gap-power approach at the plate, posting a career minor league line of .275/.365/.470 over 2,302 plate appearances. That game has finally transitioned to the big show, as his overall line shows:
With Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie, Donaldson is giving the A’s a somewhat formidable lineup to team with its young pitching, and at 38-27 and in 2nd in the AL West, Oakland will once again be a threatening team down the stretch.
At no point during his time in the minor leagues did Corbin appear to be on the same track as Tyler Skaggs or Trevor Bauer for Arizona, a top-tier starting pitcher. Corbin seemed to have back-end stuff after posting a career 3.78 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 430.2 innings. Then, the 2013 season happened:
Corbin has dominated in several starts this season and remains unbeaten after 12 starts. While he doesn’t possess shutdown, strikeout stuff, Corbin keeps the opposition off-balance and looks like the 2013 version of Wade Miley, the Diamondbacks lefty who has struggled mightily this season, but posted a 16-11 record and 3.33 ERA in his rookie season in 2012. He’ll eventually lose a game, but Corbin should continue to solidify himself as, at least, a mid-rotation starter, capable of becoming a Tom Glavine-like winner if he maintains his success, something that could be very challenging when he is pitching half of his games in the thin, desert air in Arizona.
Something clicked for Locke when he reached Triple-A Indianapolis within the Pirates organization. After posting a career 3.92 ERA over 629 innings prior to reaching Indianapolis, Locke posted a 2.44 ERA over 170 innings there before struggling in brief auditions in Pittsburgh in both 2011 and 2012. The 2013 season has been quite different, though:
Locke, like Corbin, doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, and, unlike Corbin, he flirts with disaster, at times, due to command. While Locke still does a solid job of keeping runners off of the base paths when he is throwing strikes, it isn’t wrong to wonder if he could succumb to another Pittsburgh flop, as the team remains without a winning record since 1992. It would be nice for the organization to have a veteran arm to rely on once Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are ready for Pittsburgh, and with A.J. Burnett dominating and potentially becoming trade fodder, Locke could be that guy. If he doesn’t improve either his walk rate or strikeout rates, though, he could be heading towards a drastic decline over the rest of the 2013 season.
A tremendous athlete, Wood is finally showing the skills that made him such a highly regarded young player when he came up with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 and thrived. Things hadn’t gone so well the last couple of seasons, but things are back on track in 2013:
Not only has he been effective on the mound, but Wood could be one of the Cubs’ best hitters, having posted a .910 OPS with two home runs and seven RBI in just 26 at-bats – they should pinch-hit for the struggling Starlin Castro with him! With Wood and Jeff Samardzija around in the rotation, the Cubs have a couple of solid arms to build around…if they could just figure out a way to get rid of that now awful Edwin Jackson contract. Like Locke, Wood has spurts of control issues, but he is leading the NL in hits per nine and could well be on his way to establishing himself, along with Samardzija, as a dominant arm on the constantly rebuilding Cubs squad.
I know he’s looking all nimbly bimbly right now, going 5-for-8 with two home runs and five RBI after two games, but all of the Bo Jackson and greatest player ever stuff about Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig should probably stop. Many players have had great games, great starts, and nice stretches, only to fade into their typical, normal-guy kind of existence – like Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes after Opening Day of 1994.
Certainly, Puig is a physical specimen. Comparing him to Jackson seems normal due to photos:
Puig is listed at 6’3″, 245 pounds.
Jackson was listed at 6’1″, 220 pounds.
They both appear to be finer looking versions of what a man should look like than I am, but Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval have proven that physique doesn’t guarantee success at the major league level.
When compared to other former Cuban stars, Puig and Cespedes appear to have plate discipline skills that make other Cuban bats like Juan Miranda, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, and Kendry Morales look like Domonic Brown in the month of May (zero walks in 109 plate appearances for those of you who missed the joke, there). It tends to be unheard of for the plate discipline of Cuban imports to be so…present.
For now, Puig is full of potential. He’s 22 years old, strong, athletic, and a special talent – which led to his seven-year, $42 million deal prior to swinging a bat in the states; however, give him some time to adjust. The man only had 262 plate appearances in the minor leagues, and while he did put up an impressive .328/.405/.611 line with 14 doubles, six triples, 13 home runs, and 21 stolen bases, he was just the No.76 prospect in baseball (according to MLB.com) prior to the 2013 season.
All of the absurd physical comparisons after two games are nuts. As a Cincinnati native, I remember Glenn Braggs playing for the Reds when I was growing up. He was so strong he broke bats in half when he swung and missed.
He was a career .257/.322/.405 hitter in 2,609 plate appearances. Muscles and athleticism don’t equal success. Bo Jackson was an amazing athlete that couldn’t make consistent contact. While he was hurt while he was making a significant improvement in his baseball abilities, it doesn’t change the fact that being ripped doesn’t necessarily mean that you can rip the cover off of a baseball.
Last year, the Seattle Mariners finished 75-87, last place in the AL West, a spot that they have held for seven of the last ten years. What are the Mariners doing to build a contender?
The club is loaded with pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer, and James Paxton, and they have collected some fine offensive prospects, like Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, and Brad Miller along the way. With Jesus Montero being added last season and the ascension of Dustin Ackley to the majors, you would think that the Mariners were building for a run in 2015.
However, that can’t be the case after the club has traded for Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, both free agents after the 2013 season. While the club gave up John Jaso to get Morse and Jason Vargas to get Morales, the Mariners left themselves with some question marks.
With Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Blake Beaven penciled into the rotation, the club may have to rely on Hector Noesi, Hultzen, or Paxton in the rotation to start the year. Noesi was 2-12 with a 5.82 ERA for the M’s in 2012, Hultzen was just 1-4 with a 5.92 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts in 2012, and Paxton would be jumping to the majors from Double-A. While Vargas isn’t close to being considered an ace, the Mariners will have a tough time replacing the 217 innings and 3.85 ERA that he provided last year.
After trading Jaso to Oakland, the Mariners only have Jesus Montero at catcher. Montero, who turned 23 in November, caught in just 56 games in 2012, throwing out 17 percent of base runners and posting a -8 Rtot (runs below average that he was worth defensively). While his bat has great potential, Montero is not an everyday catcher at the major league level.
There are two examples of their everyday lineup that I have found:
C: Montero C: Montero
1B: Morse 1B: Smoak
2B: Ackley 2B: Ackley
3B: Seager 3B: Seager
SS: Ryan SS: Ryan
LF: Ibanez LF: Morse
CF: Gutierrez CF: Gutierrez
RF: Saunders RF: Saunders
DH: Morales DH: Morales
Example one is eliminating Justin Smoak from the equation. Smoak has over 1,200 at-bats and has a career slash of .223/.306/.377 line, but he is just 26 years old and he posted a .341/.426/.580 in September, showing a glimpse of what he can do when he is healthy, and he has battled a thumb issue for the last couple of seasons.
Example two eliminates Raul Ibanez from the lineup. Ibanez has had great success in Seattle, having played 10 of his 17 seasons with the Mariners, but at the age of 41, he may just be a situational talent.
The Mariners could really use a catcher. If the club was able to deal Smoak to Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway, the Mariners could then move Montero to DH, Morales to first, and Morse can play left field. The Red Sox only have Mauro Gomez at first base right now, so the deal would make sense for both clubs, as the Sox have David Ross and whatever catcher they don’t trade to roster.
The M’s could also rush Mike Zunino, who was the top college player in last year’s MLB draft. Zunino could take over at catcher, allowing for the same moves with Morales and Morse as above, while the club could keep Smoak around in case of an injury. Zunino had 51 at-bats in Double-A last year, so he could use some more seasoning in the minors, but he could be a better option behind the plate than Montero already.
Regardless of the moves at catcher that the Mariners could make, the additions that the club has made have not been stellar.
Morse has a powerful bat but he has issues making contact, having posted a 223:52 K:BB while hitting 49 home runs over 928 at-bats over the last two seasons. Turning 31 years old in March, Morse has two seasons with a WAR over 1.0 (1.2 in 2010 and 3.1 in 2011), so one has to wonder if his 2011 season (with 31 home runs and a .910 OPS) was his peak.
Ibanez is not a player that a rebuilding team needs. His age and declining skills limit his potential.
Morales rebounded nicely after missing nearly two years due to injury, posting a .787 OPS. In 2009, Morales posted a .924 OPS and he had an .833 OPS in 2010 prior to his celebratory injury. Is the drop in production due to his injury, timing issues due to being away from the game, or pressing to hit at the levels that he did in 2009? Can he reach those numbers when he is playing half of his games in Seattle?
Add in the interest that the Mariners have in Justin Upton and the supposed offer (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush) that they made, and the team seemingly has no long-term or short-term direction. The Mariners pitching, as it stands, is questionable at best. If the team is rebuilding, why would they offer two of their top five prospects instead of cashing in on any of their veterans that have value, even Felix Hernandez?
While John Jaso and Jason Vargas aren’t superstars, you have to wonder if the club would have been better off with the two players still on their roster. While they wouldn’t have made many moves to improve upon their last place finish from 2012, the Mariners wouldn’t have question marks all over the field like they do right now.
Here are some guys who have been playing extremely well since the All-Star break:
Buster Posey, C, Giants
.443/.485/.705, 7 2B, 3 HR, 18 RBI in 61 AB
David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
.468/.583/.702, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 47 AB
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics
.423/.461/.718, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB in 71 AB
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
.424/.513/.667, 4 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBI in 66 AB
Mike Trout, OF, Angels
.394/.463/.775, 5 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 5 SB in 71 AB
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies
.381/.394/.683, 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB in 63 AB
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins
.300/.402/.657, 1 2B, 8 HR, 19 RBI in 70 AB
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Reds
.321/.387/.768, 5 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 18 RBI in 56 AB
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
.384/.444/.753, 6 2B, 7 HR, 15 RBI in 73 AB
Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds
12 G, 11 SV, 11.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 24:2 K:BB
David Price, LHP, Rays
3-0 in 4 starts, 1.91 ERA, 28.1 IP, 36:8 K:BB
Jason Vargas, LHP, Mariners
4-0 in 4 starts, 2.00 ERA, 27 IP, 14:10 K:BB
Ben Sheets, RHP, Braves
3-0 in 3 starts, 0.50 ERA, 18 IP, 15:5 K:BB
Back before the humidor, the Colorado Rockies were capable of padding their stats by launching balls out of Coor’s Field through the thin air in their 81 home games. We saw Dante Bichette become a force and Mike Hampton became a pitcher who didn’t matter anymore, along with Denny Neagle. Today, there are still some hitter-friendly ballparks, but you’ll see some of the guys below taking advantage of some home field love below.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
.405/.507/.793, 18 2B, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB, 28:24 K:BB in 116 AB at home
.331/.468/.529, 12 2B, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 26:31 K:BB in 121 AB on the road
Votto has been an absolute freak in 2012, posting an MVP-like .367/.468/.658 line. It doesn’t really matter where he is this season, the Reds new franchise player is unstoppable.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies
.382/.441/.733, 6 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, 29:13 K:BB in 131 AB at home
.288/.344/.508, 9 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 5 SB, 24:10 K:BB in 118 AB on the road
CarGo is still taking advantage of the thin air in Denver despite the humidor. He is an excellent all-around player on his own, but he may not be capable of substantial numbers without the Coor’s Field effect.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians
.371/.389/.743, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 4:1 K:BB in 35 AB at home
.125/.125/.125, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 3:0 K:BB in 24 AB on the road
It is only 59 at bats, but the Indians could have the power bat that they need for the middle of their order…when they play at home. Chisenhall doesn’t turn 24 until October and he has a bright future, but he has some flaws, especially with plate discipline and left-handed pitching. But…hey, he can hit at home!
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
.350/.385/.570, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB, 19:6 K:BB in 100 AB at home
.326/.409/.484, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 SB, 22:13 K:BB in 95 AB on the road
Trout has been more than anyone expected since finally getting his opportunity with the Angels. You can’t call anything about his game weak, he is clearly an excellent hitter, runner, and he is a well above average outfielder, too.
Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants
.338/.389/.451, 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 7 SB, 20:11 K:BB in 133 AB at home
.261/.289/.410, 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB, 21:6 K:BB in 134 AB on the road
San Francisco’s home park is not typically thought of as a hitter’s paradise, but Pagan really thrives there. He has better power numbers and run-production on the road, but he is also not as patient. Either way, Pagan is a beast at home in 2012.
R.A. Dickey, RHP, New York Mets
6-0, 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 52.1 IP, 54:13 K:BB in 7 home starts
5-1, 2.89 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 46.2 IP, 49:8 K:BB in 7 road starts
You can’t say Dickey without smiling and the Mets wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the NL East without the 37-year-old Cy Young front-runner.
Chris Capuano, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
5-0, 1.57 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 46.0 IP, 46:13 K:BB in 7 home starts
3-2, 4.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 40.1 IP, 34:18 K:BB in 7 road starts
Capuano has dominated at Dodger Stadium, but has been about as good as his career statistics outside of that. Capuano is struggling mightily in June with a 4.24 ERA…since when is that awful?…but when compared to his dominating April and May, his 1-1 record in April seems so pedestrian. Don’t jump ship on him yet!
Tom Milone, LHP, Oakland A’s
5-1, 0.99 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 19:8 K:BB in 6 home starts
2-4, 7.42 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 43.2 IP, 33:16 K:BB in 8 road starts
Milone may have the worst home-road split in baseball, but he has been fantastic at home. You have to wonder which pitcher he is and whether he will even things out by being absolutely horrible and really good…maybe even just decent when he is at home or on the road. The soft-tossing lefty is just 25, so we have time to see what he really is.
A.J. Burnett, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
4-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 42.2 IP, 36:9 K:BB in 6 home starts
3-2, 7.18 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 22:15 K:BB in 5 road starts
Burnett is 6-1 with a 4.02 ERA in his last 9 starts for the Pirates, but he has a split that has rivaled Milone’s terrible home-road split. Burnett’s inconsistency is well documented in his 14 year career, and it is more of the same this season. You could argue that some of his stats would make him an asset at the trade deadline, but as teams look at his production on the road, they will be scared off.
Zack Greinke, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
4-0, 1.08 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 41.2 IP, 52:8 K:BB in 6 home starts
3-2, 4.96 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 45.1 IP, 43:12 K:BB in 8 road starts
Greinke will be a rich man when he signs this winter as a free agent. With that being said, his splits are just not very good in 2012. Clearly, Greinke is dominant at home. Maybe Greinke has some issues pitching on the road that go back to his anxiety disorder that he had earlier in his career. From 2009-2011, Greinke had a 29-8 record and a 2.99 ERA in 49 starts and a 13-20 record and 3.72 ERA on the road in 45 starts. The 2012 stats fall in line with his last 94 starts prior to this season, so he is and will be dominant at home.
You should all know who Anthony Rizzo, Dylan Bundy, and Zack Wheeler are at this point, but some guys are still flying under the radar. That is what this post is all about. If you are in a fantasy baseball keeper league or you just want to keep up on prospects, here are some guys to look out for.
Daniel Rosenbaum, LHP, Washington Nationals
7-2, 1.94 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 88 IP, 55:14 K:BB
Rosenbaum, 24, has been consistent for parts of four minor league seasons since being selected in the 22nd round out of his hometown Xavier University in Cincinnati in the 2009 MLB Draft. He has a career 25-16, 2.27 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 440.1 IP, and a 343:116 K:BB. He may not post incredible strikeout numbers to be a sexy prospect, but he keeps the ball in the park (just 15 HR allowed in his 440.1 career innings) and he keeps his team in games. As a left-hander in Double-A for the Nationals, he could become excellent trade bait near the deadline, when Washington collects pieces for their playoff run.
Alfredo Marte, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
.289/.364/.569, 16 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 5 SB, 40:16 K:BB in 204 AB
Marte, 23, leads the Double-A Southern League in OPS, .932, over fellow D-Backs prospect Matt Davidson. He wasn’t among the top 20 prospects in the system according to John Sickels, but he has been productive this season after suffering through an injury shortened 2011, in which he hit .289/.338/.455 in 277 at bats. He has improved his strikeout rate, his power is up, and Chris Young is only guaranteed a job through 2013, as his 2014 option has a $1.5 million buyout if Arizona doesn’t want to pay him $11 million. Marte may not be hyped, but production eventually opens eyes, and he has been very productive in 2012.
Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
8-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 75 IP, 71:24 K:BB
Thornburg, 23, could provide the Brewers with the help they need in the rotation if or when the team starts dealing their pieces for the future as they fall farther out of contention. With the failure of Manny Parra and the struggles of top prospect Wily Peralta, the pitching rich Major League roster could be very, very thin if the Brewers do become sellers. Thornburg could be a huge part of the team’s future with his career 19-7 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 269:93 K:BB in 235 innings. Even ranked as the Brewers number two prospect, he flies under the radar.
Barret Loux, RHP, Texas Rangers
11-0, 2.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 62:24 K:BB
Loux was the sixth overall pick by Arizona in the 2010 MLB Draft, but when the Diamondbacks chose not to sign him due to injury concerns, he signed with the Rangers, like they needed more top-level prospects, for $312,000. Loux has stayed healthy to this point, producing a 19-5 record, 3.42 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 189:58 K:BB in 176.1 innings. With Yu Darvish suffering from arm fatigue and Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz suffering from shoulder woes, Loux could be called on this season as the Rangers continue to battle for the AL West crown.
Miles Head, 1B, Oakland A’s
.382/.434/.706, 22 2B, 6 3B, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB, 52:23 K:BB in 262 AB
Do you think the Red Sox regret the trade for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney yet? Josh Reddick’s breakout 2012 is one thing, but when you look at the minor league leaders, Miles Head’s name is all over it. Head hit 22 home runs over two levels as a 20-year-old in 2011, and while the California League helps inflate numbers, it doesn’t take away from the potential that Head has shown. He is a couple of years away still, but the A’s have to be excited about what they have here, especially with Daric Barton and Kila Ka’aihue struggling so mightily before Brandon Moss took over at first base recently.
Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
6-2, 1.45 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 91:17 K:BB
A 9-4, 1.58 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 125.2 IP, 171:23 K:BB in 26 starts since being selected in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Rice University isn’t enough to get Cingrani hyped like other prospects, but he will get there soon if he keeps this up. The Reds started Cingrani in the California League, even though they had other top arms, like Daniel Corcino, skip the hitter paradise. He responded with a 5-1 record and 1.11 ERA, with a 71:13 K:BB in 56.2 innings. He is now in Double-A and has pitched well in three starts. Cingrani can’t be traded until August, but he could be a “player to be named later” as a trade chip, or he could be a fixture in the rotation by this time next year. A lefty that hits the mid-90′s with his fastball is a nice asset, either way.
Jackie Bradley, CF, Boston Red Sox
.363/.485/.535, 26 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 16 SB, 38:51 K:BB
Bradley was one of the best players in college baseball at the University of South Carolina, leading the team to a title in 2010 before injuries ruined his 2011 season. He was still the 40th overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft. His excellent skills have returned with his health. Bradley looks like a potential star leadoff hitter for the Red Sox, and he is ready for Double-A, having posted the numbers above in High-A. He isn’t going to hit a lot of home runs, but he will get on base in other ways, and he could be a nuisance on the basepaths.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
.258/.330/.500, 10 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 6 SB, 59:25 K:BB in 236 AB
Ozuna can hit the ball far. He also strikes out a lot, but he is improving on those numbers this season. As a 20-year-old, Ozuna had 28 2B, 5 3B, 23 HR, and 17 SB in 552 at bats in 2011. He doesn’t have Mike/Giancarlo Stanton power, but the Marlins have a couple of great outfielders in High-A Jupiter in Ozuna and Christian Yelich.
Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees
.330/.406/.656, 19 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 14 SB, 56:27 K:BB in 218 AB
This is Austin’s first attempt at full-season ball. Needless to say, it is going well for the 20-year-old outfielder. Sickels had Austin ranked as the ninth best prospect in the Yankees system, but it has been quiet for the youngster to this point. Austin was said to have an advanced bat for a high school draftee, and he looks to be putting it all together.
It is early and top prospects are adjusting, like Bryce Harper and his current .222/.276/.333 slash in Triple-A, while guys you’ve possibly never heard of are posting some eye-popping numbers. Here is a look at some of those guys performing well early on.
Brad Miller, SS, Mariners, High-A
.371/.463/.914, 13 for 35, 12 R, 3 2B, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 9/6 K/BB
Miller is a lefty swinging college bat out of Clemson. He is playing the whole season at the age of 22, and he should be advanced and hitting well, but the California League may result in Miller becoming a legend. Miller is now hitting .398 in 88 professional at bats, so he is someone to monitor this year, even if he has Nick Franklin ahead of him in the Mariners system at short.
Alen Hanson, 2B, Pirates, Low-A
.412/.474/.824, 14 for 34, 11 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 6/4 K/BB
Henson is a long way off, but he has a solid eye and solid speed, while seemingly spraying the ball all over the field. He is a switch hitter and he looks like he could be a potential leadoff hitter for the Bucs down the road. Neil Walker is under team control until 2017, but if he becomes too expensive through arbitration, Pittsburgh could toss the job Henson’s way in 2015.
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins, Low-A
1-0, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11 IP, 5 H, 18/4 K/BB
Fernandez is a known name as the Marlins first round pick from 2011. The youngster from Cuba is a high upside arm that turns 20 in July. He could be a fast mover in the Marlins system, especially if he keeps pitching like he has in his first two starts.
Cody Buckel, RHP, Rangers, High-A
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 10 IP, 4 H, 16/3 K/BB
Buckel has only thrown 111 2/3 innings but he now has a 145/31 K/BB. He is another chip in an absolutely loaded Rangers system. He’ll be 20 in June, but he seems to be picking up where he left off from last season when he posted a 2.61 ERA and 120/27 K/BB 23 games (17 starts).
Andrew Chafin, RHP, Diamondbacks, High-A
2-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 11 IP, 5 H, 18/2 K/BB
The California League eats pitchers for breakfast, so when a guy dominates there, like Tyler Skaggs did last year, you need to take notice. Chafin is a college arm, so he’ll be 22 this year, and he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed the entire season. The Kent State product was the 43rd pick in the 2011 draft and he does seem to have the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, with a plus fastball and slider. If he develops his change, he could become much more.
A.J. Griffin, RHP, Athletics, Double-A
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.36 WHIP, 11 IP, 2 H, 16/2 K/BB
Griffin is 24, a 2010 13th round pick out of San Diego by the A’s. In 2011, Griffin pitched at four levels, finishing with an 11-7 record, 3.47 ERA, 160 2/3 innings pitched, and a 156/32 K/BB. Not overly impressive until you look at his splits. He was impressive early on, posting a 9-3 record, 2.71 ERA, 122 2/3 innings pitched, and 128/19 K/BB between 20 Low-A and High-A starts. He didn’t fare as well at the higher levels (2-4, 5.92 ERA), which is why he’s back in Double-A this year. He has solid breaking stuff and very good control, so he could be a back-end starter, possibly a Joe Blanton-like innings eater.
The Washington Nationals acquired LHP Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A’s on Thursday, sending four prospects to Oakland in return for the 26-year-old starter. Gonzalez has been a pretty solid starter for the A’s, compiling a 38-32 record and 3.93 ERA in 89 starts since 2008, including a 31-21 record and 3.17 ERA over his last 55 starts (2010-2011). Gonzalez can still be wild, posting a league-leading 91 walks in 2011, but he makes up for it with solid strikeout rate, including 197 in 202 IP last season. You may wonder if he’ll be a superstar outside of pitcher-friendly Overstock.com Stadium (where Oakland plays for those of you who don’t follow terrible marketing ploys). The last two seasons, these are his home/road splits:
Home: 18-8 record, 212 IP, 2.63 ERA, 189/95 K/BB
Road: 13-13 record, 190 2/3 IP, 3.78 ERA, 179/88 K/BB
Gonzalez is moving to what has been a pitcher’s park in Washington and it’s not like a 3.78 ERA isn’t solid, but he had a much better split at home in Oakland.
In return, the A’s received these four Minor Leaguers, with career stats shown:
These four are truly a great return on Gonzalez by A’s GM Billy Beane. Peacock (#2), Cole (#4) and Norris (#10) were all ranked in the top 10 prospects list of the Nationals organization by Baseball America. Peacock and Milone both saw some starts in D.C. last year and are Major League ready. Norris is an intriguing prospect at catcher, looking like a Mike Napoli-lite with his big powerful swing and low average (pre-2011 Napoli, of course). Cole is very young but he has a huge ceiling. His K-rate last year was very good and he’ll probably be tested by the A’s to see what they have. At 6’4″, 180, he has a nice frame and his already solid results and ability could continue to improve. It’s a lot to give up, as these four are truly tremendous prospects, but after the Mat Latos deal, it looks like this will be the cost of cost-controlled, young starting pitchers this offseason.
This deal solidifies the Nationals rotation, creating three aces at the top in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez. With John Lannon and Chien-Ming Wang rounding out the rotation and Matt Purke and Alex Meyer on the way still in the prospect wing, the Nationals are suddenly a team to be reckoned with. It will be interesting to see if this acquisition will lead to a push to sign Prince Fielder, which would put the Nats into a contending role in a suddenly exciting NL East, with the Nats, Phillies, Braves and Marlins developing nice rosters to compete. They still have the Mets to point and laugh at, though.