Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
Back in January and February, I reviewed 30 minor league prospects, and made some predictions. With the season over at the Minor League level and nearly over at the Major League level, I figured now was a great time to look back at how I did.
Carlos Santana (CLE)
I predicted back in January that Santana would spend the majority of the season in AAA, and would post the following line: .285/.400/.520 – 25 doubles, 25 homeruns, 95 rbi (AAA). How did his numbers end up looking? .316/.447/.597 – 13 doubles, 13 home runs, 51 RBI (AAA), and .260/.401/.467 – 13 doubles, 6 home runs, 22 rbi at the Majors. And that was only in approximately 100 games total as he suffered that season-ending knee injury blocking the plate. I think that had he stayed in AAA all year, he would have clearly blown through these numbers, and could very well have reached some of these numbers in the Majors as well.
Mike Stanton (FLA)
I thought that Stanton would spend the full season down at AA, believing that the Marlins would not rush to move Stanton too fast and start his arbitration clock too soon. I forgot that the Marlins only sort of concern themselves with the arbitration clock. They were looking for some power, and called him up straight from AA. My prediction for him back in January: .265/.355/.500, 27 hr, 90 rbi (AA). His actual AA numbers: .313/.442/.729, 21 hr, 52 rbi in just 53 games. And also .241/.317/.500, 20 hr, 51 rbi in the Majors. I think that the strikeouts remain a huge concern for Stanton, but the power is most definitely legitimate.
Shelby Miller (STL)
Miller was a very difficult prospect for me to review at the time, simply because he had hardly any innings pitched as a professional. I predicted back then that he would post the following line in the minors: 5-3, 3.50 ERA, 70 IP, 75 K, 35 BB. I didn’t predict a level, and find it a bit odd that I didn’t. His actual line at Single-A: 7-5, 3.62 ERA, 104.1 IP, 140 K, 33 BB. Clearly, both John Sickels and Baseball America knew what they were seeing with him.
Michael Pineda (SEA)
Pineda really profiled to me as a potential candidate for growth, and to me seems to be one of my best calls. I thought he would post the following: 8-5, 2.70 era, 150 k/35 bb, between High-A and AA. Much too conservative, as the Mariners started him at AA and he earned a midseason move to AAA. His AA line: 8-1, 2.22 ERA, 78 k/17 bb in 77 IP. His AAA line: 3-3, 4.76 ERA, 76 k/17 bb in 62.1 IP. I think he’s going to start next season in the Mariners’ rotation.
Buster Posey (SFG)
I thought that Posey would start the season in the Majors, and it appears that the Giants may end up regret not doing so. My prediction: .280/.370/.500 – 20 homeruns, 75 rbi. His actual numbers: .321/.369/.516, 15 homeruns, 62 rbi in 98 games. So another prediction where I was too conservative. In my opinion, Posey’s one of only two candidates for the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Jesus Montero (NYY)
I figured that Montero would start the season in AA, and eventually make his way to AAA during the season. The line to go with that: .330/.385/.530, 25 homers, 90 rbi. What actually happened was that the Yankees sent him to AAA, and while he got off to a slow start, ended up finishing his season pretty strong: .289/.353/.517, 21 homers, 75 rbi. I think that he’s likely to be with the big club next season providing he can get regular playing time at catcher.
Derek Norris (WAS)
Norris missed a lot of time this season due to a wrist injury, and clearly this prediction wasn’t going to happen as a result: .280/.410/.500, 22 homeruns, 80 RBI. The wrist injury appears to have sapped him some, as he hit .235/.419/.419 with 12 homeruns and 49 RBI. I think that next season he will start the season at AA, and it is very telling that the Nationals have already converted top pick Bryce Harper to the outfield.
Eric Hosmer (KC)
I wrote back in January that it was too early to give up on Hosmer, and that the Lasik procedure he had during the offseason could help him. Whether or not it did, my prediction ended up a bit underwhelming: .275/.380/.480, 15 homeruns, 70 rbi (A/High-A/AA) He actually hit well over .354/.429/.545 with 7 homeruns and 51 rbi at High-A, and then continued the excellent hitting at AA with a .313/.365/.615 line and 13 homeruns and 35 rbi. He seems likely to start 2011 in AAA, and could see a call up during the season at some point.
Jordan Lyles (HOU)
After reviewing Lyles during the offseason, I really, really liked what I saw out of him. My prediction: 9 – 6, 3.40 ERA, 150 IP, 165 K, 40 BB (Split between High-A and AA). He did end up splitting time between AA and AAA this season, posting a 7-12 record with a 3.57 ERA, 158.2 IP, 137 K, 46 BB. Clearly a more impressive performance than I had originally envisioned. I think he will spend a majority of 2011 at AAA, as the Astros are really unlikely to compete significantly next year.
Trevor Reckling (LAA)
I really thought Reckling would do better than he did, but I did mention that the control issues concerned me. My prediction initially: 11 – 8, 3.35 era, 170 innings pitched, 155 strikeouts, 55 walks. His actual numbers: 7-13, 6.42 era, 148 2/3 innings pitched, 108 strikeouts, 85 walks. He started the season at AAA, and was actually demoted to AA to finish the season. This was a completely lost season for Reckling, and until he can prove he won’t walk so many batters, he’ll probably remain at AA.
As we approach the Major League All-Star break, I’ve seen quite a few of the prospects I reviewed back in January who have already made an impact in the show.
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.
Carlos was called up on June 11th, and has continued to hit at a torrid pace ever since. I wrote back in mid-May that I thought he would be called up sometime after the expected Super-Two deadline, and that is pretty much exactly what happened. Over at FakeTeams, I ranked Santana as my 5th best catcher for the remainder of the season, and I think that’s probably pretty accurate. He’s going to continue to hit for an excellent average, and the power looks legitimate, even if there is some minor regression. At the end of last season, I owned the rights to both Carlos Santana and Buster Posey in my 14-team keeper league. During our minor league draft, I traded Posey for Ryan Westmoreland and a draft pick towards the end of the draft. That pick? Used to take Michael Pineda.
Stanton was called up on June 8th, in a much quieter debut than the other major rookie on that date, Stephen Strasburg. Stanton hasn’t quite shown the power in the Majors that he did in his minor league career to this point, but that was probably asking a bit much of the rookie. The 3 stolen bases to this point seem a bit out of place, as he only had 8 total in his 4 minor league seasons, but that could just be a fluke. I think that realistically he’s going to continue to experience some growing pains, and until the strikeouts get a bit more under control (33 so far in only 78 at bats), he’s going to continue to struggle.
Posey was called up on May 29th, but strangely it was to play 1B for the most part. The Giants’ main concern was to get the top prospect’s bat into the lineup, and not worry too much about having him catch immediately. He has been playing nearly every day, but has only just now started to catch every day with the trade of former starting catcher Bengie Molina to the Giants. I will be interested to see how he continues to hit now that he will be catching every day, and it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on the pitching staff. Posey has been widely touted for his ability to work with a pitching staff, but until it actually happens there is always the chance of something going wrong.
Heyward is currently on the disabled list for the Braves, after a thumb injury that occurred late in May apparently, but did not sideline him until late June. This is probably at least a part of the explanation as to why Heyward struggled so much in the month of June. He was the prohibitive favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award after the month of May, but if he is out for an extended period of time, this race could pretty easily get away from him with as many good rookies as there are this season.
Castro has been a bit of an enigma to this point in his Major League career. It was a big surprise that he was called up when he was, but it was thought he would be able to adapt pretty easily despite being only 20 years old. His average has been solid, but not amazing. But his power seems to have disappeared entirely, and his speed is not far behind it. The part that really concerns me about Castro is the fact that in 50 games, he already has 11 errors. Granted, you can’t get errors on balls you don’t make a play on, so this partially could be the reason he has so many. It seems unlikely to me at this point that the Cubs would send him down to improve, as the Cubs are going nowhere this season.
Matusz, it was hoped, would help to lead this team’s pitching staff this season along with veteran Kevin Millwood. Unfortunately, the Orioles’ offense and defense forgot to help with that. Matusz has a league worst 9 losses this season, but there are signs of hope. He has a strikeout rate of 6.83 per 9 innings, and his FIP is lower than his ERA (4.25 vs. 4.90), so there does appear to be hope for Matusz. Until this team starts hitting like they mean it, it’s probably going to be some tough-luck losses in the future for Brian Matusz.
Jennings has missed some time this season due to an injury, and it appears that the Rays are extremely unlikely to call him up this season. The Rays have done well with their starting outfield of Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Ben Zobrist, and have had both Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez fill in as necessary. Jennings still looks like an elite prospect, and seems like to be up at the start of the 2011 season, as Crawford is still a free agent at the end of the season and seems unlikely to be resigned due to money concerns. I still think Jennings is an elite prospect, although I am wondering how long until the power comes.
Back in January, I wrote that I thought the best thing for the Yankees to do with Montero would be to continue to leave him in the minors and allow him to develop as a catcher, so that they could use him as the long-term replacement to Jorge Posada following Posada’s eventual retirement. At this point, I would say that they need to figure out a different position for him long term. Montero is probably not ever going to be an elite caliber catcher, and with the Yankees having 3 excellent catching prospect also in the minors (Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy) in addition to Montero, they can probably work on letting him hit and just assume he is likely to end up either in the outfield or as a DH.
Brown is a player who is vaulting himself to the top of prospect rankings with his amazing performance down at AA. Clearly, if he can continue a majority of the pace he is on so far, he looks like he will be a perennial 30-30 threat with a high batting average. There have been rumors that the Phillies may try to move Jayson Werth to help improve other areas of the team and insert Brown into the everyday RF job, but that seems a bit rushed. I would like to see the Phillies leave Brown down at AAA for the rest of the season, and give him the opportunity to win the RF job out of Spring Training in 2011.
Hudson has done everything that the White Sox had hoped and more, but unfortunately no one in the starting rotation is really pitching all that badly. The White Sox are correct to leave him down there starting if that is what they hope to use him for long-term, and at some point he is likely to get a shot. It would help if the Sox would fall out of the race, but Hudson could potentially be moved for a short-term piece if they think they still have a chance to win it all this season. I’m not sure where that would come from, but stranger things have happened.
Carter has been a bit of an enigma so far at AAA. The power is still there, although not to the same extent has it had been in AA. The batting average is clearly not where he was in AA, but with the amount of strikeouts that he normally racks up, this isn’t that much of a surprise. The concerning part to me is two fold – He hasn’t even attempted a stolen base this season after trying 19 times with 13 successes. Also, the strikeout rate has gotten worse, as he already has 94 strikeouts in only 81 games. The A’s don’t have a place to play him right now at the Major League level, and realistically, he’s not shown that he’s ready for it either. If the A’s were in the heat of the pennant race, they might have brought him up to provide some pop to the lineup, but since they aren’t, I don’t think he sees Oakland this season except when he passes it in his car.
Alonso has become the subject of some trade rumors for the Reds, as he realistically should be a first baseman at the Major League level. Unfortunately, that position is manned by a potential MVP candidate in Joey Votto, and looks like it will be for quite some time. The Reds have been trying him in the outfield, but it appears that may be at least somewhat affecting his ability to hit at AAA, as he has struggled so far.
Pineda came into the season as a bit of an unknown, but is now rocketing up the prospect rankings for a lot of the experts as he continues his excellent performance from last season. He’s earned a promotion to AAA recently, and the poor performance overall by the Mariners makes me wonder if he may see a September call-up. The strikeout numbers have been dominant, with over 1 per inning so far at both levels. This one is really making me look pretty good so far in my keeper league.
Tomorrow, the rest of the prospects down at AA and below.
Today, I’ll continue looking at the prospects I reviewed during the offseason, and how they are progressing to this point. All statistics are through Monday’s games.
Mike Stanton (FLA): 28 games, .340/.481/.854, 15 HR, 33 RBI, 28 R, 1 SB, 28 walks, 32 strikeouts
Stanton has torn up AA, and is currently leading the minor leagues in homeruns. There has been talk that with some of the outfielders in the Majors struggling, that Stanton will be called up as soon as the Super-2 date passes. Clearly, he has nothing else to prove at AA even at this point. I wrote in January that I thought he wouldn’t be up until mid-2011, but with ownership expecting this team to compete, Stanton is probably going to be up very soon. And he’ll be some fun to see when that happens.
Michael Pineda (SEA): 6 starts, 32 1/3 IP, 2-0, 2.23 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 40 strikeouts, 9 walks
I reviewed Pineda mostly because I thought that he was interesting, as he put up very good statistics for a pitcher in the extremely hitter-friendly California League. Now in the Southern League, those numbers appear to not be a fluke. I wrote that I thought he would be up late in 2011 or to start 2012 most likely, and I think that’s probably still right. The Mariners have a lot of reasonably good pitching between Pineda and the Majors, and they can wait to allow him to develop. Remember he’s only 21 years old this season.
Christian Friedrich (COL): 3 starts, 16 IP, 0-1, 2.81 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 16 strikeouts, 4 walks
Friedrich picked up right where he left off at the end of last season, and is striking out a batter per inning with excellent control. Of concern is the fact that he has missed time this season, having a stint on the 7-day DL with left elbow soreness. Since he throws left handed, this could be of real concern long-term. His last start was on April 19th, almost a month ago now.
Martin Perez (TEX): 6 starts, 25 2/3 IP, 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.442 WHIP, 29 strikeouts, 15 walks
The strikeouts remain excellent, but the spike in walks is a bit worrisome to me. I think he should be able to improve on that and return to the form he has shown at previous stops. The Rangers appear committed to him being a part of their starting rotation long term, which bodes well for them. I thought back in January he wouldn’t be up until late 2011 at the soonest, and I think that’s probably still his timetable.
Domonic Brown (PHI): 25 games, .333/.388/.632, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 17 R, 3 SB, 9 walks, 20 strikeouts
Widely assumed to be the replacement should Jayson Werth leave via free agency after this season, Brown has hit very well so far at AA. He spent part of last season at AA, so I could see him getting a promotion to AAA by around the All-Star break. A very solid prospect, and most of his numbers are within range of his career norms to this point.
Kyle Drabek (TOR): 7 starts, 40 IP, 4-3, 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 41 strikeouts, 21 walks
Drabek has pitched fairly well to this point, but the walks are a concern. He had previously been posting strikeout-to-walk rates of around 3, but is just under 2 so far this season. The Blue Jays will give him lots of time to develop, as they have an excessive amount of pitching at the Major League level, to the point of having starters who can’t seem to break into the rotation. I think he will probably more likely be up with the team in 2012 than 2011 at this point.
Brett Lawrie (MIL): 31 games, .256/.329/.416, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 19 R, 6 SB, 13 walks, 42 strikeouts
I have been a bit surprised by the performance of Lawrie. The speed appears to be legitimate, and I think that he could end up being a 20-20 2B in the Majors someday. The plate discipline remains a bit of a challenge, but if he can improve that somewhat I could see him getting a late-season promotion to AAA. Realistically, they should leave him in AA until he shows some of that in my opinion.
Chris Withrow (LAD): 6 starts, 27 2/3 IP, 1-2, 7.48 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 24 strikeouts, 15 walks
Withrow has not been particularly good to this point, and the control really seems to be showing as a huge problem. He’s never been a particularly accurate pitcher, generally posting strikeout-to-walk rates of around 2. He’s going to need to improve on that before being considered for a promotion. I would have to think that he is going to spend the entire 2010 season at AA, and if doesn’t show improvement in his control could possibly start 2011 there as well.
Casey Kelly (BOS): 6 starts, 20 2/3 IP, 0-2, 3.48 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 21 strikeouts, 7 walks
Kelly seems to be taking to the change to pitching only, striking out a batter per inning. I think that the Red Sox leave him down at AA all season, letting him further refine his excellent skill set. I wrote that I thought he wouldn’t be up until 2012 midseason, and unless there becomes a need in the rotation, I think that will remain true. They have all 5 starters under team control until at least then: Lackey (2014), Beckett (2014), Matsuzaka (2012), Lester(2013), and Buchholz (2014) all under contract or control until then.
Yonder Alonso (CIN): 29 games, .271/.397/.417, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 19 R, 4 SB, 19 walks, 16 strikeouts
Alonso has been splitting his time between 1B and LF for the Reds AA team, and I have to imagine that at a certain point he’ll stop playing 1B entirely. The Reds have Joey Votto holding down that position in the Majors, and unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. He’s hit well to this point, and I think he may end up getting promoted to AAA at some point during the season. The Reds have shown that they are not averse to promoting someone to the Majors if they think they are ready to contribute (Mike Leake), so when Alonso is ready, the Reds will move him up.
How Acquired: International Free Agent (2006)
2008 – Wisconsin (Midwest League – Mariners A) – 26 games
2009 – High Desert (California League – Mariners High A ) – 10 games
Baseball America – #10 (SEA-2009)
Project Prospect -#167 (Overall-2009)
Baseball Prospectus – Unranked (SEA – 2009)
John Sickels – #5 (SEA-2009)
Pineda posted a very strong campaign in 2008, as an 18-year-old in the Midwest League. Compiling an 8-6 record with a 2.87 FIP and 1.95 ERA, he looked destined to continue his excellent performance in 2009. However, an elbow injury derailed him for a majority of the season, and was only able to pitch about 30% of the season in 2009. Despite this, he built on his performance in the Midwest League with another strong showing, this time in the hitter friendly California League.
The key to Pineda seems to be his excellent control. In 44 1/3 innings in 2009, he only walked 6 batters, while striking out 48. This really bodes well for his continued success in my opinion. Pineda throws a low 90’s fastball, and also has an above-average slider and changeup as well. He also appears to be very confident in his ability to throw all 3 of these pitches.
I find it very interesting that he really has not been on the receiving end of any high rankings, only receiving a ranking even as high as #5 once (Sickels). Granted that he is extremely young still, and is probably 2-3 years away at best, I still really like the control he has already shown at 2 different levels. I think that when some of the major websites bring out their rankings for the 2010 season, Pineda will jump on the Mariners lists. This will be partially due to his skills and stats, but will also be helped by the thinning out of the system from the Cliff Lee trade.
While he is still very young, I really like Pineda and think that his future is really bright. I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do next season, having recovered from his injury at this point. I think that he is going to at least start next season back at High-A High Desert, and could very well see some time in AA by mid-season.
Prediction for 2010
8-5, 2.70 era, 150 k/35 bb
2012. Possibly late season 2011, but 2012 will be when he sticks.
Tomorrow’s Prospect Review – Buster Posey (C) – SF