Prospect Reviews: Midseason Review – AA, High-A, and Low-A


Yesterday, I went over the prospects currently in the Majors and AAA that I reviewed back in January and how their seasons have progressed to this point. Today I’ll be focusing on the players at the levels below AAA.

Note: Each of these players are listed under the level that they are currently at, but will include their stats at all levels. All statistics are through Saturday’s games, and courtesy of Baseball Reference.

AA

Jenrry Mejia (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 2 0 0 0 2.70 3.1 5 2.400
Majors 30 0 2 0 3.25 27.2 17 1.590

Mejia was finally sent down to the minors to be lengthened out to start after his appearance on June 2oth. Of course, in standard bad luck fashion, Mejia was injured in his second start down at AA, and has been shut down from throwing with no return date set as of yet. He strained his right posterior cuff, which seems like it would be pretty bad for a pitcher. However, his name is still being mentioned in potential trade talks that the Mets are having, and I am wondering if he could still be moved despite the injury.

Jordan Lyles (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 15 6 5 0 2.60 22 85 1.168

Lyles was recently named to Baseball America’s midseason prospect All Star team, and has pitched extremely well so far this season. Back in May I wrote that I thought he might get a cup of coffee with the Astros’ AAA affiliate at the end of the season, but I think that the prospect might be better served by staying at AA the whole season through, and starting 2011 at AAA. He won’t turn 20 years old until after the season this year, and still looks like he has a very good chance of being with the big club at the start of 2012. One of the few high level prospects in the system for the Astros.

Trevor Reckling (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 2 1 0 0 2.45 7.1 10 0.818
AAA 14 4 7 0 8.53 69.2 46 2.139

The numbers tell the story so far for Reckling, who struggled so much with the Pacific Coast League that he was sent back to AA on June 27th. I am wondering if the initial struggles led to some confidence issues for him, as his walk rate at AA ballooned completely out of control (50 walks to 46 strikeouts). While his walk rate has never been super low, this was high even for him. Hopefully he will be able to clean himself up in AA and return to AAA before the end of the season.

Christian Friedrich (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 12 1 5 0 5.34 64 57 1.531

Looking at Friedrich’s numbers, he’s been a bit homerun prone compared to his previous years, especially when you consider that he gave up only 3 in 14 starts in the hitter friendly California League, but has already given up 8 in just 12 starts in the Texas League. The strikeouts are down, but are still a very solid 8 per 9 innings. I wrote back in May that he had missed more than a month of starts with an elbow injury, so this could definitely be causing him some trouble still.

Martin Perez (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 15 3 4 0 5.46 64.1 68 1.617

Perez is still having a bit of a problem with the walks, as he is now at 4.81 per 9 innings for the season. Looking at his FIP (3.97) tells me that he’s probably due to get a few more breaks and overall lower some of these numbers back into the range we all expected of him during the preseason. One thing I am liking is the fact that on the season his groundball rate is at 50%, as I think that if he can translate that with his strikeout rate he will continue to excel long-term. His name has come up briefly in trade rumors for the Rangers, but I think they would be better served keeping him than moving him for a short-term rental, even if it would help them this season.

Kyle Drabek (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 17 8 8 0 3.20 107 80 1.224

Drabek is fresh off of throwing a 9 inning no-hitter for New Hampshire last week, but his ERA doesn’t tell the whole story. His FIP is at 4.19 on the season, and at least part of that is related to the 45 walks he has issued already this season. He only issued 5 more walks in 50 more innings last season, so that raises some concerns for me. He isn’t brutally far away from his career rate of 3.4 per 9 inning, but it leads me to believe that there could be a regression of sorts here. The Blue Jays have exactly no need to hurry him, so I think he’ll spend the whole season down at AA, and start next year at AAA.

Brett Lawrie (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
AA 83 .295 .358 .473 53 6 41 22

Lawrie has hit pretty well so far, and the speed is something I really like to see out of him.  He has been making errors at 2B at around the same rate as last season, but that’s not a huge surprise considering he is still learning the position really. He’s been mentioned as a player that the Mariners would love to acquire from the Brewers, but unless the Brewers get back prospects for a different position I am not sure how exactly the Mariners are going to go get Lawrie.

Chris Withrow (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 16 3 4 0 4.69 80.2 76 1.500

Withrow’s numbers haven’t exactly been making anyone talk him up so far this season, but there is hope for the season. In June, he posted a 3.44 FIP over 29 innings with 28 strikeouts, but a disconcerting 17 walks. So far in July his FIP is 1.85 (small sample size of course). The key that I see is that his homerun rate appears to be normalizing, as his HR/FB rate is at 8.8% for the year, but was up over 12% coming into June. Look for him to be left at AA through the season, and if he pitches well in August potentially getting a call to AAA.

Casey Kelly (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 15 1 3 0 5.05 62.1 55 1.652

Kelly is another prospect who isn’t pitching as badly as the numbers indicate. So far, he has had BABIPs of .389 (April), .366 (May), and .379 (June), but FIPs of 2.47, 4.66, and 3.52 respectively. With the exception of the month of May (4.33 per 9), his walks have been pretty much under control, and the strikeouts remain right around 8 per 9 innings. He’s going to see some growing pains undoubtedly as he continues to adjust to only pitching, but I think he’ll be just fine by the end of the season as well. The Red Sox have no opening for him in the rotation any time soon, so I am wondering if he could be moved potentially as the key piece to acquire a short-term player.

High-A

Derek Norris (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 43 .243 .408 .375 28 4 22 4

Norris missed substantial time with injuries early on in his season, but has not hit quite at the same level as was expected back in the preseason. The one number that really jumps off the page to me is his OBP (.408). For the season, he now has 37 walks to go against 36 strikeouts, an excellent rate. He’s going to start hitting better with a walk rate like that. It is also telling to me that the Nationals announced that Bryce Harper would start his professional career as an outfielder, and with Norris being their most advanced catching prospect essentially locked in. He probably won’t be up until 2012, but if he is a solid offensive catcher and an excellent defender, that will definitely be enough.

Eric Hosmer (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 80 .351 .428 .548 46 7 48 11

Apparently the Lasik worked. Hosmer has been hitting everything he sees, and I have to imagine that he’s going to be moved up to AA at some point in the next month. Even his walk-to-strikeout rate has improved over his previous seasons (41/33 so far). Hosmer seems likely to be much higher up in the rankings at the end of the season.

Tony Sanchez (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 59 .314 .416 .494 31 4 35 2

For some reason, I thought Sanchez would have shown more power at this point, but the batting average and on base percentage are both really nice regardless. Interestingly, his caught stealing rate is only at 15% on the season. I am wondering if that could have something to do with the idea that only the real speedsters are generally allowed to run in the minors, and as such are going to show that much more success. Overall, I think he will probably see a little bit of time at AA before the season is out, but there is no real reason for the Pirates to rush him.

Jaff Decker (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 41 .229 .315 .401 15 5 23 2

Decker missed time earlier in the season with a hamstring injury, and I am wondering if there are some other parts of that injury that may still be affecting Decker’s hitting.  He also appears to be very impatient as well, as he has struck out 49 times in only 41 games, but also only walked 18 times. He should be destroying the California League offensively, but he will probably stay down there for the rest of the season and potentially start next season there as well if his hitting doesn’t improve.

Jacob Turner (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
A 11 2 3 0 3.67 54 51 1.148
A+ 2 0 0 0 8.59 7.1 7 2.045

Turner was recently promoted to High-A, after pitching pretty well in the Midwest League. The control has been excellent, with 51 strikeouts against only 9 walks there. He is still only 19 years old, and I think he’s going to spend the rest of the season at High-A. That still seems pretty advanced to me for a player as young as him.

Low-A

Shelby Miller (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
A 13 2 3 0 4.20 49.1 65 1.338
AAA 51 .246 .283 .365 17 4 28 3

Miller has been dominating the Midwest League, striking out almost 12 batters per 9 innings. Back in May, I wrote that I thought he would spend the full season at Low A, but I think that if he continues to pitch as well as he has to this point, he’ll get a call to either High-A or AA. The interesting thing at this point is that his name is also being bandied about in trade rumors, as he is considered to be the highest upside prospect in the Cardinals’ system right now.

Aaron Hicks (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A 76 .260 .372 .407 50 5 34 11
AAA 3 2 0 0 2.37 19 26 0.842

Hicks is repeating the Midwest League, after only playing part of the season in 2009. His slugging percentage and on base are both higher than last year, but not substantially. He had a poor month of May, but both April and June have been solid months where he posted OPS higher than 800 in each of them. I’m not entirely sure what happened in May, but I want to see what he does in July before just assuming he is back.

Finally, a last word about the 30th prospect I reviewed, A.J. Pollock (Writeup) of the Diamondbacks. Here’s what I wrote back in May:

Pollock was to start the season at High-A, but injured himself trying to make a sliding catch in the outfield. The diagnosis was a fractured growth plate in his arm, and will miss at least half the season. Look for him to spend the remainder of this season at Single-A when he does return from the injury.

As of today, he still has not made his debut for the season,

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