All 30 MLB Teams' Biggest Surprise, Disappointment from the Farm System
As the minor league season gradually winds down and speculation about whom may be September call-ups runs rampant, it’s time to reflect on each organization’s minor league season.
More specifically, it’s time to take a look at which players were the biggest surprises and disappointments in 2012. For some teams, their most surprising prospect is a player who was omitted from preseason rankings, but has already made a case for favorable consideration headed into the offseason. For others, it’s a prospect who elevated their prospect status after breakout campaign in 2011.
Similarly, each team’s most disappointing prospect is more often than not a player who has struggled to live up their respective hype or failed to build upon an impressive 2011 season.
So, here is a look at each team’s most surprising and disappointing prospect of the 2012 season.
Atlanta Braves: RHP Zeke Spruill and RHP Julio Teheran/3B Brandon Drury
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Surprise: Zeke Spruilli
2012 Stats (AA): 8-11, 152.2 IP, 3.66 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 2.26 GB/FB, 5.95 K/9, 2.53 BB/9
At 6’5”, Spruill isn’t the strikeout artist that many would expect. Rather, he’s a sinkerballer with two average secondary pitches who’s finally enjoying a breakout season at Double-A. The 2008 second-round pick has been consistent all season while shooting up the the Braves’ rotational depth chart.
Disappointment: Julio Teheran/Brandon Drury
2012 Stats (AAA): 7-7, 114 IP, 5.05 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 1.3 HR/9, 6.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
One of the top minor league pitchers in 2011—not to mention one of baseball’s top pitching prospects headed into the 2012 season—Teheran has regressed considerably this season at Triple-A. His aggressive fastball command has led to him being overly-hittable, as his strikeout totals have quickly deteriorated. Without a quality breaking ball, the right-hander has struggled to make the improvements necessary for a spot in the team’s big league rotation.
2012 Stats (A-): .229/.272/.325, 27 XBH (5 HR), 46 RBI, 66 K/19 BB (112 G)
After raking in the Appalachian League last season and winning the batting title, the 19-year-old is in the midst of a shockingly bad follow-up campaign. He’s consistently made weak contact all season at Low-A Rome, flashing only gap power on occasion.
Headed into the season, it seemed as though he may emerge as one of the Braves’ top position prospects. Instead, he’s become another young player in search of offensive consistency.
Washington Nationals: 3B Matt Skole and OF Destin Hood
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Surprise: Matt Skole
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .283/.429/.566, 48 XBH (27 HR), 94 RBI, 120 K/94 BB (106 G)
If you’re a fan of three-true-outcome players, then Skole is your guy. A fifth-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech in 2011, the 6’4” left-handed hitter turned in a monster season (27 HR, 94 RBI, 94 BB) at Low-A Hagerstown, so it’s no surprise that he was recently promoted to High-A. While his numbers in the low minors have been impressive, his real challenge will come against more advanced pitching relative to his age.
Disappointment: Destin Hood
2012 Stats (RK, AA): .234/.299/.328, 24 XBH (20 2B), 5 SB, 81 K/24 BB (85 G)
A second-round selection out of high school in 2008, Hood has been repeatedly lauded for his athleticism. However, the right-handed hitter’s baseball skills have been slow to develop. Now 22 years old, he struggled with the jump to Double-A this season and has had multiple stints on the disabled list with wrist and groin injuries.
Miami Marlins: RHP Jose Fernandez and C J.T. Realmuto
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Surprise: Jose Fernandez
2012 Stats (A-, A+): 13-1, 124 IP, 1.81 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 0.1 HR/9, 10.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
With all of the great pitching prospects surging through the minor leagues, I believe that Fernandez has been the most impressive this season. If I had to cast a vote today for minor league pitcher of the year, he would be the recipient. He has all the ingredients to be a future staff ace with an arsenal of plus pitches and advanced command well beyond his years.
Disappointment: JT Realmuto
2012 Stats (A+): .251/.318/.346, 22 XBH (8 HR), 45 RBI, 12 SB, 58 K/36 BB (111 G)
A shortstop who was converted to catcher after he was drafted in the third round in 2010, Realmuto had a breakout season in 2011 both behind the plate and with the bat. This season, while his defense has continued to improve, his production has tailed off as he’s developed a hitch in his swing and, in turn, lost considerable bat speed. He hasn’t driven the ball with as much consistency, though his plate discipline remains respectable.
New York Mets: RHP Michael Fulmer and OF Cesar Puello
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Surprise: Michael Fulmer
2012 Stats (A-): 7-5, 102.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 8.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 (20 GS)
Overlooked due to the success of Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Dylan Bundy and Jose Fernandez, Fulmer—who was drafted in the late first round after all of the aforementioned prospects—has been dominant this season at Low-A. With a plus fastball and slider, his changeup continues to progress and suggests that the 19-year-old right-hander may be another frontline starter to emerge from the 2011 draft class.
Disappointment: Cesar Puello
2012 Stats (A+): .251/.317/.396, 20 XBH (2 HR), 14 SB, 53 K/5 BB (53 G)
A toolsy outfielder needing to make big strides in 2012, Puello has had a down season for High-A St. Lucie. All of the tools and athleticism are still present, but he’s struggled to both make consistent contact and refine his poor plate discipline. Furthermore, the outfielder has spent time on the disabled list this season with a broken hamate bone in his left hand, as well as a hamstring injury in late July.
Philadelphia Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan and RHP Brody Colvin
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Surprise: Adam Morgan
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 6-10, 136 IP, 3.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 0.5 HR/9, 10.0 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 (23 G)
Omitted from most preseason Phillies prospect rankings, that likely won’t be the case headed into the 2013 season.
Morgan, 22, has pitched exceptionally well at two stops this season, demonstrating advanced command and the ability to limit base-runners. His command continues to be impressive, as the left-hander makes an early case for a September call-up next season.
Disappointment: Brody Colvin
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 6-8, 124.4 IP, 5.05 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 (27 G)
Even though his overall arsenal has been impressive this season, the results speak for themselves. His command has been shaky all season, especially in regards to his secondary offerings. Still, the Phillies aggressively promoted him to Double-A at the end of the July, which isn’t always a wise move for a 22-year-old with command issues.
Chicago Cubs: 2B/3B Gioskar Amaya and OF Brett Jackson
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Surprise: Gioskar Amaya
2012 Stats (SS): .321/.402/.529, 23 XBH (11 3B), 12 SB, 48 K/28 BB (58 G)
After an impressive professional debut last season as an 18-year-old, Amaya has only built upon the success with a strong follow-up season at Short Season Boise. He makes lots of hard contact and even exhibits surprising power for his size. With plus athleticism and range in the field, he’s logged time at shortstop, second and third base this season, though it’s undecided where he profiles best in the major leagues.
Disappointment: Brett Jackson
2012 Stats (AAA): .256/.338/.479, 49 XBH (15 HR), 27 SB, 158 K/47 BB (106 G)
MLB: .182/.234/.318, 3 XBH, 23 K/3 BB (12 G)
Yes, Jackson has reached the major leagues. However, he’s now 24 years old and struggled overall this season at Triple-A despite the respectable power and speed numbers. As expected, his strikeout rate has been magnified since his promotion to the major leagues.
Milwaukee Brewers: OF Khris Davis and RHP Wily Peralta
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Surprise: Khris Davis
2012 Stats (Rk, AA, AAA): .359/.458/.627, 28 XBH (15 HR), 46 RBI, 56 K/32 BB (69 G)
Davis sure can’t hit, but his defense is suspect and he’s a bit of a base clogger. Still, he’s mashed his way to Triple-A this season, and given his hot bat, I wouldn’t rule out September call-up.
Disappointment: Wily Peralta
2012 Stats (AAA): 6-10, 130.2 IP, 4.75 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 (25 GS)
After taking a huge step forward in 2011, it seems as though Peralta was destined to join the Brewers rotation at some point during the 2013 season. However, his command has been shaky all season and he’s been too hittable in the Pacific Coast League. He’s pitched better as of late, but still hasn't progressed this season as hoped.
Cincinnati Reds: LHP Tony Cingrani and 3B Sean Buckley
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Surprise: Tony Cingrani
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 10-4, 131.1 IP, 1.51 ERA, 0.997 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 (23 GS)
Armed with a plus fastball-changeup combination, many believed Cingrani’s success would fade as he reached higher levels. Well, that hasn’t been the case, as the 23-year-old southpaw has continued to dominate despite the early-season promotion to Triple-A.
Disappointment: Sean Buckley
2012 Stats (A-): .235/.298/.377, 32 XBH (10 HR), 54 RBI, 127 K/29 BB (102 G)
After posting a .923 OPS in the Pioneer League in his professional debut in 2011, Buckley hasn’t come close to posting similar power numbers this season at Low-A. A lot of swing-and-miss has emerged in his game, which has led to poor contact rates and a lack of consistency in driving the baseball.
Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco and C Tony Sanchez
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Surprise: Gregory Polanco
2012 Stats (A-): .328/.393/.520, 136 H, 45 XBH (15 HR), 81 RBI, 40 SB, 62 K/43 BB (109 G)
A highly toolsy and athletic player, the 6’4” outfielder has enjoyed an all-around impressive season. His baseball skills have finally caught up to his athleticism, which makes his future even brighter than previously considered. However, the left-handed hitter was placed on the disabled list on August 18 after spraining his ankle.
Disappointment: Tony Sanchez
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): .243/.327/.388, 31 XBH (23 2B), 75 K/35 BB (92 G)
Since the Pirates drafted him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2009, Sanchez has struggled to move through the Pirates’ system as expected. There have been off-the-field issues to go along with a lack of adjustments at the plate and on defense, even though he’s still reached Triple-A this season.
Houston Astros: 2B Delino DeShields and SS Jonathan Villar
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Surprise: Delino DeShields
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .297/.398/.430, 140 H, 100 R, 38 XBH (10 HR), 86 SB (16 CS), 116 K/74 BB (119 G)
Repeating the year at High-A, DeShields has had one of the best bounce-back seasons in all of baseball. Due to Billy Hamilton’s record-breaking season, the 20-year-old’s quest for 100 stolen bases has flown under the radar.
Disappointment: Jonathan Villar
2012 Stats (AA): .261/.336/.396, 20 XBH (11 HR), 39 SB, 87 K/35 BB (86 G)
He’s still only 21, and all of the tools and athleticism are still there, but Villar hasn’t put everything together yet. The upside certainly is still there, but he hasn’t shown the improvement as hoped. Furthermore, he suffered a broken throwing hand after he punched a door in clubhouse during a game on July 13.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Trevor Rosenthal and RHP Shelby Miller
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Surprise: Trevor Rosenthal
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 8-6, 104 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 (19 GS)
MLB: 4.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 (5 G)
With a sinker that reaches the upper 90s, it’s no surprise that Rosenthal has ascended through the Cardinals’ system so quickly. He was promoted from Double-A to the major league bullpen in July and is now starting at Triple-A Memphis.
Disappointment: Shelby Miller
2012 Stats (AAA): 9-9, 118 IP, 5.19 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 1.7 HR/9, 10.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (24 GS)
In any conversation about disappointing seasons, Miller’s name is sure to come up. For most of the season, his velocity was down and he simply wasn’t getting away with pitches up in the zone—especially in the hitter-friendly, unforgiving Pacific Coast League.
Game reports have his velocity back in the mid-90s as of late, and he’s posted a ridiculous 38 K/1 BB rate over his last 35.2 innings. But after such a lackluster season, a strong finish can’t negate what’s already happened.
Colorado Rockies: 3B Sam Mende and OF Tim Wheeler
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Surprise: Sam Mende
2012 Stats (A-): .281/.344/.462, 47 XBH (35 2B), 58 RBI, 20 SB, 79 K/26 BB (98 G)
A 31st-round draft pick in 2011, Mende is a defense-oriented third baseman—or so everyone thought. This season, he’s been a doubles machine with surprising speed and a knack for stealing bases. Playing alongside shortstop Trevor Story, they are one of the more promising left side of the infield duos in the low minors.
Disappointment: Tim Wheeler
2012 Stats (AAA): .288/.348/.390, 26 XBH (2 HR), 5 SB, 60 K/27 BB (76 G)
In 2011 at Double-A, Wheeler batted .287/.365/.535 with 33 home runs and 21 stolen bases. So, where’s the power gone? He missed a little over a month after suffering a broken hamate bone in his right hand, so that may be part of the explanation.
Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Alfredo Marte and RHP J.R. Bradley
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Surprise: Alredo Marte
2012 Stats (AA): .284/.359/.537, 44 XBH (20 HR), 67 RBI, 65 K/31 BB (98 G)
Due to the fact that he’s 23 at Double-A, Marte flew under most people’s radar headed into the 2013 season. However, after posting consistently strong power numbers over the first half of the season, Marte found himself starting for the World Team in the XM Futures Game. His power is very real; now he must continue making consistent contact headed forward.
Disappointment: J.R. Bradley
2012 Stats (A-): 6-8, 105.2 IP, 6.13 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 1.3 HR/9, 4.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 (24 G)
Repeating Low-A South Bend for a second season, Bradley, 20, simply hasn’t made adjustments. After going 6-16 with a 4.98 ERA last season, the right-hander hasn’t improved his command or found a more efficient way to attack hitters. Luckily, he’s still young, so he has time on his side.
Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Matt Magill and LHP Chris Reed
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Surprise: Matt Magill
2012 Stats (AA): 10-6, 127.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 (23 GS)
With all the former high-round draft picks—specifically pitchers—in the Dodgers’ system, Magill’s strong season at Double-A continues to be overlooked. A 31st-round draft pick in 2008, the right-hander’s posted excellent strikeout totals while improving his command relative to 2011. He’s quietly put himself ahead of guys like Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Allen Webster and Garrett Gould on the rotational depth chart.
Disappointment: Chris Reed
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 1-7, 65.2 IP, 3.84 ERA, 1.25 BB/9, 8.6 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (17 G)
The former Stanford closer and a 2011 first-rounder, Reed’s transition to starting pitcher hasn’t been as smooth as anticipated. The Dodgers keep aggressively moving him along, but his command and efficiency are ongoing issues, as well as his ability to attack hitters early in the count.
San Diego Padres: RHP Adys Portillo and OF Donavan Tate
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Surprise: Adys Portillo
2012 Stats (A-, AA): 7-10, 112 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 7.3 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 (23 GS)
Regarded as a hard thrower who lacked command headed into 2011, Portillo, 20, has quickly developed into one of the more promising arms in the Padres’ loaded system. He’s scaled back his velocity in favor of command this season, and the results have directly led to his promotion to Double-A. He’s not a polished arm by any means and will have to refine his command even further at the higher level.
Disappointment: Donovan Tate
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .237/.353/.283, 12 XBH (10 2B), 20 SB, 104 K/53 BB (92 G)
After multiple injuries and a drug-related suspension, Tate is yet to demonstrate that made him a first-round selection of the Padres in 2010. His power is virtually non-existent, and while his speed remains a prevalent, his on-base issues don’t allow him to showcase it with consistency.
San Francisco Giants: RHP Clayton Blackburn and OF Gary Brown
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Surprise: Clayton Blackburn
2012 Stats (A-): 7-3, 116.1 IP, 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 (20 GS)
After posting a ridiculous strikeout-to-walk rate in his professional debut in 2011 in the Arizona League, the 19-year-old right-hander has opened a lot of eyes this season with 127 strikeouts and only 17 walks at Low-A. He’s surprisingly polished given his age and command a legitimate four-pitch mix. Look for Blackburn to be towards the top of the Giants’ prospect rankings headed into the 2013 season.
Disappointment: Gary Brown
2012 Stats (AA): .282/.348/.394, 40 XBH (31 2B), 32 SB (16 CS), 76 K/36 BB (122 G)
After posting a .925 OPS with 53 stolen bases last season at High-A San Jose of the hitter-friendly California League, Brown was bound to regress with the jump to Double-A. After a painfully slow start to the season, he’s rebounded over the last two months to post decent overall numbers. But had he transitioned to Double-A with no problem, I believe he’d be in San Francisco already.
Boston Red Sox: OF Jackie Bradley and RHP Anthony Ranaudo
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Surprise: Jackie Bradley
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .318/.427/.484, 53 XBH (40 2B), 61 RBI, 24 SB, 83 K/82 BB (122 G)
Drafted as somewhat of a gamble in 2011 after missing the latter half of the season with a broken wrist, Bradley has proven to own some of the best plate discipline in the minor leagues. He made quick work of High-A pitching before a midseason promotion to Double-A, where’s he’s continued to get on-base at a high clip.
He doesn’t possess a lot of power, but his on-base skills and speed give him the potential to hit at the top of the Red Sox order at some point in 2013.
Disappointment: Anthony Ranuado
2012 Stats (AA): 1-3, 37.2 IP, 6.69 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 6.5 BB/9 (9 GS)
After a strong season in 2011 that included several trips to the disabled list, Ranuado never got things going in 2012 and has hardly even pitched this season. After experiencing extreme command issues over his first nine starts this season, the Red Sox placed the right-hander on disabled list on July 5 with shoulder fatigue and he hasn’t pitched since.
New York Yankees: OF Tyler Austin and RHP Dellin Betances
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Surprise: Tyler Austin
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .322/.403/.567, 50 XBH (16 HR), 68 RBI, 21 SB, 84 K/46 BB (95 G)
Austin has a gone from a sleeper prospect to arguably a top-50 prospect this season thanks to a strong first half at Low-A. His consistent power has been unexpected, and his stolen base total a pleasant surprise.
Disappointment: Dellin Betances
2012 Stats (AAA, AA): 6-8, 127.1 IP, 6.29 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 6.8 BB/9 (26 G)
After seemingly putting things together last season, a season in which he made his major league debut, Betances has fallen apart this season to the extent of a demotion to Double-A. He simply cannot repeat his mechanics, something that I have to imagine is pretty difficult when you’re 6’8”.
Next stop: bullpen.
Baltimore Orioles: 2B/3B Ty Kelly and RHP Parker Bridwell
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Surprise: Ty Kelly
2012 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): .333/.433/.467, 35 XBH (10 HR), 60 RBI, 62 K/71 BB (117 G)
Absent on nearly every Orioles’ prospect ranking headed into the season, Kelly’s bat and defensive versatility has carried him through three levels this season, and now he has a chance to be a September call-up. The 24-year-old’s best defensive position is second base, where he has received the most playing since the promotion to Triple-A Norfolk.
Disappointment: Parker Bridwell
2012 Stats (A-): 4-9, 104.1 IP, 6.30 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 (21 G)
A highly-touted athlete coming out of high school in 2010, Bridwell is still young with time to refine his command—and he’ll need to. After allowing 15 home runs and 56 walks in 104.1 innings this season, the right-hander has been extremely hittable and has struggled to consistently get ahead of hitters.
Toronto Blue Jays: LHP Sean Nolin and RHP Deck McGuire
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Surprise: Sean Nolin
2012 Stats (A+): 9-0, 86.1 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (17 G)
Because “The Big Three” of Sanchez, Nicolino and Sydergaard have captured all the attention in the prospect realm, Nolin hasn’t received the credit that he deserves. He’s been essentially flawless at High-A, demonstrating advanced command of multiple pitches as well as an understanding on how to get out opposing hitters. The left-hander was recently promoted to Double-A.
Disappointment: Deck McGuire
2012 Stats (AA): 5-14, 128 IP, 6.26 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 (25 GS)
After finishing his strong 2011 season at Double-A, the large right-hander began the year at the same level hoping to improve his command. That hasn’t exactly been the case, as McGuire’s been far too hittable and lacked the command he showed in 2011. This may ultimately turn out to be a lost season for the 2010 first-rounder.
Tampa Bay Rays: LHP Blake Snell and INF Tim Beckham
Surprise: Blake Snell
2012 Stats (Rk): 5-1, 47.1 IP, 2.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 (11 GS)
One of the Rays’ many first-round picks in 2011, Snell is a tall lefty who throws a heavy sinker. Logging his first professional experience this season, the 19-year-old’s command has been especially impressive, as well as his ability to attack hitters low in the zone.
Disappointment: Tim Beckham
2012 Stats (AAA): .253/.326/.349, 14 XBH (4 HR), 58 K/26 BB (60 G)
After a strong finish to the 2011 season, it seemed as though Beckham—the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008—may finally turn the proverbial corner. And then he received 50-game suspension in May for a second positive test for a drug of abuse, another detour on his unimpressive rise to the major leagues.
Cleveland Indians: SS Ronny Rodriguez and RHP Dillon Howard
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Surprise: Ronny Rodriguez
2012 Stats (A+): .269/.306/.454, 38 XBH (16 HR), 61 RBI, 6 SB, 78 K/17 BB (112 G)
While Rodriguez has all the tools to be an impact shortstop, he’s still an incredibly raw work in progress. He has impressive power for an up-the-middle prospect, but is also a free swinger lacking plate discipline. He has the arm and range to stick at shortstop, though he tends to rush his throws
Disappointment: Dillon Howard
2012 Stats (Rk): 1-6, 36.2 IP, 5.65 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (10 G)
The 2011 first-round bonus baby still has the potential to be a frontline starter with three above-average pitches. However, his command this season has been a major disappointment, as he’s been unable to put away opposing hitters while ahead in the count. He’s tried to be too fine with many of his pitches, which has led to 51 hits allowed in only 36.2 innings pitched.
Chicago White Sox: RHP Andre Rienzo and RHP Nestor Molina
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Surprise: Andre Rienzo
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 7-1, 85 IP, 2.12 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 (15 GS)
Rienzo was off to a strong start this season before testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs and subsequently missing 50 games. However, the Brazillian right-hander picked up where he left off and has since been promoted to Double-A. He’s been tough to square up while posting favorable strikeout-to-walk rates at multiple levels.
Disappointment: Nestor Molina
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 4-10, 108.2 IP, 4.89 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 (20 G)
Acquired this offseason in the deal that sent closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays, Molina’s effectiveness has lacking this season, as he’s surrendered 144 hits in a little over 100 innings. He still doesn’t walk too many hitters, but he’ll need to be efficient with his command in various counts.
Minnesota Twins: RHP Jose Berrios and OF Joe Benson
Surprise: Jose Berrios
2012 Stats (Rk): 2-0. 4 SV, 25.2 IP, 0.70 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 15.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 (10 G)
The Twins' 32nd overall draft pick in 2012 out of Puerto Rico, Berrios has flown under the radar, as so little was known about him leading up the draft. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Berrios has a plus fastball with the potential for a plus breaking ball and changeup as well. His command and polish has been a big surprise, as the lanky right-hander has carved his way through Rookie leagues this season.
Disappointment: Joe Benson
2012 Stats (Rk, A+, AA, AAA): .202/.288/.336, 22 XBH (6 HR), 13 SB, 81 K/30 BB (76 G)
After reaching the major leagues as a September call-up in 2011, Benson had the potential to quickly return to the Show with a strong start to his 2012 minor league campaign. However, facing major contact issues and a wrist injury, the toolsy outfielder has struggled mightily this season overall, as he continues to work on his plate discipline at Double-A.
Detroit Tigers: RHP Bruce Rondon and OF Daniel Fields
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Surprise: Bruce Rondon
2012 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): 1-1, 28 SV, 48 IP, 1.31 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11.6 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 (47 G)
Only 21 years old, there’s a strong chance that Rondon may serve as the Tigers’ closer as early as 2013. He’s ascended three levels this season thanks to a blazing 100-plus mph fastball and is poised for a September call-up. He’s made huge improvements with his command this season, which has made him a quick riser through the Tigers’ system.
Disappointment: Daniel Fields
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .256/.314/.355, 20 XBH (13 2B), 19 SB, 69 K/25 BB (77 G)
Despite his contact issues and non-existent power, the Tigers aggressively promoted Fields to Double-A this season with the hope of presumably jump-starting his bat. As expected, he’s struggled since the promotion, as his on-base skills have deteriorated along with his bat. He’s only 21 years old, but the left-handed hitting outfielder will need to make significant improvements to his plate discipline.
Kansas City Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura and LHP Mike Montgomery
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Surprise: Yordano Ventura
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 3-7, 95.1 IP, 3.78 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (20 GS)
Despite being only 5’11”, 140 pounds, Ventura boasts a fastball that can reach triple digits with ease, as well as the makings of a plus breaking ball and changeup. The starter for the World Team in the XM Futures Game, Ventura has arguably emerged as the team’s top pitching prospect after Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Zimmer.
Disappointment: Mike Montgomery
2012 Stats (AAA, AA): 5-9, 132.2 IP, 5.70 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 (24 GS)
In his second straight season at Triple-A Omaha, Montgomery—who many thought would be an active member of the Royals rotation at this point—has endured an even greater regression in 2012. Unable to put away opposing hitters and demonstrating sub-par command, the left-hander received a midseason demotion to Double-A, where he’s still yet to right his ship.
Los Angeles Angels: 3B Kaleb Cowart and OF Chevy Clark
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Surprise: Kaleb Cowart
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .291/.374/.481, 51 XBH (15 HR), 14 SB, 95 K/61 BB (119 G)
Over the course of the 2012 season, Cowart has gone from a prospect with concerns about his plate discipline and rawness to arguably the top prospect in the Angels’ system—he’s even garnered consideration as a top-50 prospect with his success as both Low- and High-A. Everything about his game has drastically improved and he now shines in a depleted Angels system.
Disappointment: Chevy Clark
2012 Stats (A-, Rk): .225/.318/.343, 26 XBH (9 HR), 18 SB, 112 K/41 BB (113 G)
The Angels’ first-round selection in 2010, Clark’s baseball skills are yet to catch up to his overall toolsy athleticism. With major pitch recognition and plate discipline issues, the switch-hitting outfielder struggled to open the season at Low-A Cedar Rapids and received a midseason demotion to Rookie-level Orem. He’s shown improved plate discipline, which has led to more hard contact, but he still has a long, long way to go.
Texas Rangers: SS/2B Leury Garcia and RHP Neil Ramirez
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Surprise: Leury Garcia
2012 Stats (AA): .284/.331/.390, 22 XBH (9 3B), 29 SB, 71 K/20 BB (86 G)
Overshadowed by playing on the same team as baseball’s No. 1 prospect, Jurickson Profar, it’s easy to overlook the improvements made by Garcia this season. He’s demonstrated an ability to reach base with more consistency as well as use the entire field, but more importantly, he’s vastly improved his defense at both middle infield positions. Don’t be surprised if he’s potentially traded this offseason while his value is at an all-time high.
Disappointment: Neil Ramirez
2012 Stats (AAA, AA): 7-11, 110.1 IP, 6.53 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 (24 GS)
In 2011, Ramirez posted a 3.12 ERA and 10.9 K/9 over three levels, reaching Triple-A down the stretch of the season.
With a clear chance to reach the major leagues in 2012, the right-hander’s struggles have been baffling. He’s failed to string together consistent starts and even received a demotion to Double-A where the improvements have been few and far between.
Oakland Ahtletics: RHP Dan Straily/3B Miles Head and RHP Brad Peacock
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Surprise: Dan Straily/Miles Head
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 8-6, 138.1 IP, 2.60 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (22 GS)
MLB: 1-0, 17 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 (3 GS)
Drawing little consideration as a legitimate pitching prospect headed into the 2012 season, Straily has emerged as one of baseball’s top young arms thanks to continued dominance at both Double- and Triple-A. With a three-pitch mix of above-average to plus offerings, the right-hander has dealt his way to the major leagues and seems to be lock on a rotation spot over the remainder of the season.
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .337/.398/.603, 60 XBH (22 HR), 79 RBI, 111 K/36 BB (108 G)
Acquired this offseason in the trade that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston, Head has been one of top hitters in the minor leagues this season as the A’s try to find him a natural position on the infield. He absolutely destroyed High-A pitching to begin the year, and he received a promotion to Double-A towards the end of the June.
However, the bulky right-handed hitter has been on the disabled list since the end of July after getting hit by a pitch in the head.
Disappointment: Brad Peacock
2012 Stats (AAA): 11-7, 123 IP, 5.71 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 1.0 HR/9, 9.4 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (25 G)
Acquired in the offseason deal that sent Gio Gonzalez to the nation’s capital, Peacock reached the major leagues with the Nats at the end of the 2011 season. After posting mediocre numbers in Triple-A this season, the right-hander was passed on the organizational depth chart by Straily.
A fly ball pitcher, Peacock’s up-in-the-zone approach has been exploited this season, as he’s allowed 135 hits in 123 innings in the unforgiving Pacific Coast League.
Seattle Mariners: 3B/SS Brad Miller and UTIL Vinnie Catricala
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Surprise: Brad Miller
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .333/.409/.505, 54 XBH (14 HR), 63 RBI, 23 SB, 95 K/66 BB (122 G)
When the Mariners drafted Miller, it was no secret that his bat outweighed his fringy defense. Well, that’s still the case, but his advanced hit tool, plate discipline and speed have still been a welcomed surprise.
After raking at High-A for most of the season, the left-handed hitter hasn’t missed a beat since a July promotion to Double-A. His bat could have him in Seattle in the near future, but where he fits defensively remains in question.
Disappointment: Vinnie Catricala
2012 Stats (AAA): .233/.297/.349, 31 XBH (9 HR), 76 K/34 BB (111 G)
A pure hitter who posted a 1.021 OPS between High-A and Double-A in 2011, it seemed as though Catricala may break camp with the Mariners after a strong spring training. However, he’s struggled to post similar, strong offensive numbers at Triple-A this season—in the Pacific Coast League nonetheless.
He’s still an overall polished hitter, but his current campaign has been nonetheless disappointing. Like Miller, it’s difficult to determine at what position Catricala will be in the cleanest fit in the pros.