All 30 Farm Systems' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year
With the 2012 minor league season now complete and the playoffs under way, it’s time to take a look back at some of the top performers within each organization.
What better way to do so than by recognizing each team’s position and pitching prospect of the year?
Here is a look at each team’s top prospects from the 2012 season.
A+ = High-A
A- = Low-A
A = Single-A
AA = Double-A
AAA = Triple-A
RK = Rookie
Atlanta Braves: J.R. Graham and Tommy La Stella
RHP J.R. Graham (22 years old)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 12-2, 148 IP, 2.80 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 (26 GS)
Although Graham doesn’t have overpowering stuff by any means, the 22-year-old right-hander is adept at pitching to contact and allowing opposing hitters to get themselves out.
2B Tommy La Stella (23 years old)
2012 Stats (RK, A+): .299/.389/.466, 34 XBH (22 2B), 59 RBI, 13 SB, 25 K/40 BB (90 G)
Considering that he’s 23 years old at High-A, La Stella’s offensive production is to be expected. However, if he can repeat the success at a higher level to open the 2013 season, expect him to start moving quickly.
Washington Nationals: Alex Meyer and Matt Skole
RHP Alex Meyer (22)
2012 Stats (A-, A+): 10-6, 129 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 (25 GS)
Meyer dazzled in his professional debut this season, piling up strikeouts while eliminating any serious concerns about his command. He seems poised to be the next big-time strikeout artist and power arm to soar through the Nationals’ system.
3B Matt Skole (23)
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .291/.426/.559, 56 XBH (27 HR), 104 RBI, 11 SB, 133 K/99 BB
A 6’4”, left-handed hitter out of Georgia Tech, Skole put up monster offensive numbers in his first professional season. While such production is somewhat expected from a 23-year-old in A-ball, he still demonstrated impressive power and on-base skills, as well as the ability to consistently drive in runs.
Philadelphia Phillies: Tyler Cloyd and Darin Ruf
RHP Tyler Cloyd (25)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 15-1, 167 IP, 2.26 ERA, 1.006 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (26 GS)
After a breakout season in 2011, Cloyd built upon his success this season, pitching his way to the major leagues after beginning at Double-A.
1B Darin Ruf (26)
2012 Stats (AA): .317/.408/.620, 71 XBH (38 HR), 104 RBI, 102 K/65 BB (139 G)
Winner of the Joe Bauman Trophy for the most home runs in the minor leagues, Ruf was on pace for a mediocre season until he exploded for 20 home runs in 31 August games. It’s uncertain if or where he fits into the Phillies’ long-term plan, but what he’s done this season (especially this past month) is pretty amazing.
Miami Marlins: Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich
RHP Jose Fernandez (20)
2012 Stats (A-, A+): 14-1, 134 IP, 1.75 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (25 GS)
After a torrid start to the 2012 season at Low-A, Fernandez didn't slow down in dominating at High-A following a midseason promotion. As a 20-year-old, the right-hander already possesses advanced command of three pitches and has the makings of a No. 1 starter. In my opinion, he should be the 2012 minor league pitcher of the year.
OF Christian Yelich (20)
2012 Stats (A+): .330/.404/.519, 46 XBH (12 HR), 20 SB, 85 K/49 BB (106 G)
One of the top hitting prospects in the minor leagues, Yelich’s hit tool continues to impress as his power gradually develops. With the graduation of so many top prospects to the major leagues this season, the 6’4”, left-handed hitter has the potential to be a top-10 prospect entering the 2013 season.
New York Mets: Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores
RHP Zack Wheeler (22)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 12-8, 149 IP, 3.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (25 GS)
Although Matt Harvey may have stolen the spotlight this season thanks to his success in the major leagues, Wheeler has been the organization’s top pitcher—in his first full season with the Mets. He was promoted to Triple-A when Harvey reached the Show, so expect to see him at some point in 2013.
3B Wilmer Flores (21)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .300/.349/.479, 50 XBH (18 HR), 75 RBI, 60 K/38 BB (130 G)
It may have taken him three-and-a-half seasons to graduate from A-ball, but it was worth the wait. Flores has made impressive strides this season, especially at Double-A, as his power has finally emerged.
Chicago Cubs: Frank Del Valle and Anthony Rizzo
LHP Frank Del Valle (22)
2012 Stats (A+): 5-5, 99.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 (22 G; 15 GS)
If it isn’t obvious by my selection as Del Valle of the organization’s pitcher of the year, the Cubs' minor league pitching situation is rather bleak. However, the 22-year-old has been one of the few bright spots with a 1.01 WHIP in nearly 100 innings.
1B Anthony Rizzo (23)
2012 Stats (AAA): .342/.405/.696, 43 XBH (23 HR), 62 RBI, 52 K/23 BB (70 G)
Although he was promoted to the major leagues in late June, Rizzo was still the organization’s top hitter in the minor leagues this season. With an adjustment to his swing and an improved, opposite-field approach, the left-handed hitter primed himself for everyday duties at first base in Chicago.
Cincinnati Reds: Tony Cingrani and Billy Hamilton
LHP Tony Cingrani (23)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 10-4, 146 IP, 1.73 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 (26 G; 25 GS)
SS Billy Hamilton (21)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .311/.410/.420, 112 R, 38 XBH (14 3B), 155 SB, 113 K/86 BB (132 G)
Always highly regarded for his insane speed and athleticism, Hamilton shortened the gap between his natural talent and baseball skills this past season. He improved his contact rates and plate discipline, while using his speed to be an absolute menace on the basepaths. The switch-hitter broke Vince Coleman’s 1983 record of 145 stolen bases, finishing the season with 155.
Milwaukee Brewers: Tyler Thornburg and Hunter Morris
RHP Tyler Thornburg (23)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 10-4, 112.2 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 (21 GS)
Thornburg shot up the organizational depth chart this season with strong performances in Double-A and Triple-A and made his major league debut in mid-June.
1B Hunter Morris (23)
2012 Stats (AA): .303/.357/.563, 74 XBH (28 HR), 113 RBI, 117 K/40 BB (136 G)
A left-handed power hitter, Morris amassed a whopping 74 extra-base hits this season while proving to be a consistent run-producer. His impressive campaign definitely warrants consideration for an audition for first base during spring training.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jameson Taillon and Alen Hanson
RHP Jameson Taillon (20)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 9-8, 142 IP, 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (26 GS)
Taillon had his share of ups and downs this season but finished strong with a promotion to Double-A. The right-hander remains one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
SS Alen Hanson (19)
2012 Stats (A-): .309/.381/.528, 62 XBH (16 HR), 35 SB, 105 K/55 BB (124 G)
A switch-hitter, Hanson is arguably the top breakout prospect in all of the minors this season, demonstrating an impressive blend of power and speed for an up-the-middle player.
Houston Astros: Mike Foltynewicz and Delino DeShields
RHP Mike Foltynewicz (20)
2012 Stats (A-): 14-4, 152 IP, 3.14 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 (27 GS)
Repeating Low-A, Foltynewicz dominated as he should have, improving his strikeout and ground-ball rates while demonstrating the ability to work deep into games.
2B Delino DeShields (20)
2012 Stats (A-, A+): .287/.389/.428, 44 XBH (12 HR), 101 SB, 131 K/83 BB (135 G)
Also repeating Low-A to begin the year, DeShields has had one of the best under-the-radar seasons in the minor leagues. He quietly eclipsed 100 stolen bases—overshadowed by Billy Hamilton—while vastly improving his on-base skills.
St. Louis Cardinals: Trevor Rosenthal and Oscar Taveras
RHP Trevor Rosenthal (22)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 8-6, 109 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 (20 GS)
A down season for Shelby Miller seemingly opened the door for Rosenthal, who made the jump from Double-A to the majors in mid-July. With a sinker that works in the upper 90s, the right-hander is arguably the top pitcher in the Cardinals’ loaded system.
OF Oscar Taveras (20)
2012 Stats (AA): .321/.380/.572, 67 XBH (23 HR), 94 RBI, 10 SB, 56 K/42 BB (124 G)
One of baseball’s top prospects, Taveras has the makings of a future superstar as he possesses excellent contact skills, plate discipline beyond his years and emerging power.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Magill and Joc Pederson
RHP Matt Magill (22)
2012 Stats (AA): 11-8, 146.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 (26 GS)
Lost in the mix behind names like Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Garrett Gould, Magill has been excellent at Double-A this season thanks to improved command and, in turn, a higher strikeout rate.
OF Joc Pederson (20)
2012 Stats (A+): .313/.396/.516, 48 XBH (18 HR), 70 RBI, 26 SB, 81 K/51 BB (110 G)
The Dodgers’ top position prospect had an impressive season at High-A, as the left-handed hitter emerged as a legitimate power and speed threat.
San Diego Padres: Adys Portillo and Jedd Gyorko
RHP Adys Portillo (20)
2012 Stats (A-, AA): 8-11, 126.2 IP, 3.34 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 5.0 BB/9 (26 GS)
Hampered by control problems throughout his young minor league career, Portillo took a step in the right direction this season. He stopped worrying about his velocity and the compulsion to blow it by hitters, focusing on commanding his fastball and developing his offspeed pitches instead.
2B Jedd Gyorko (23)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): .311/.373/.547, 58 XBH (30 HR), 100 RBI, 95 K/51 BB (126 G)
After leading the minor leagues with 192 hits last season, Gyorko thrived following an early-season promotion to Triple-A—all while learning a new position (second base).
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trevor Bauer and Adam Eaton
RHP Trevor Bauer (21)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 12-2, 130.1 IP, 2.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (22 GS)
Although he still has some command issues to iron out—as was evident in his four big league starts—Bauer has still turned in a remarkable season in the minors by dominating at both Double-A and Triple-A.
OF Adam Eaton (23)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): .375/.456/.523, 198 H, 59 XBH (47 2B), 44 SB, 76 K/59 BB (130 G)
One of the top hitters in the minors this season, Eaton was recently named both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A). He was promoted to the majors earlier this week and has seemingly raked his way into the Diamondbacks’ long-term plan.
San Francisco Giants: Clayton Blackburn and Adam Duvall
RHP Clayton Blackburn (19)
2012 Stats (A-): 8-4, 131.1 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 (22 GS)
In his first full professional season, the 19-year-old right-hander has emerged as arguably the top pitching prospect in the Giants’ weak system. That’s not a knock on him, though. He was superb command for his age and could move quickly a la Madison Bumgarner.
3B Adam Duvall (24)
2012 Stats (A+): .258/.327/.487, 58 XBH (30 HR), 100 RBI, 116 K/47 BB (134 G)
Sure, his average isn’t exactly impressive, and the 116 strikeouts leave something to be desired, but his power at High-A this season stands out among the Giants’ lackluster crop of position prospects.
Colorado Rockies: Edwar Cabrera and Kyle Parker
LHP Edwar Cabrera (24)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 11-5, 129.2 IP, 3.05 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (21 GS)
Despite two rough starts for the Rockies in late June and late July, the left-hander turned in his best minor league campaign to date, posting a sub-1.00 WHIP while issuing only 35 walks in nearly 130 innings.
OF Kyle Parker (22)
2012 Stats (A+): .308/.415/.562, 47 XBH (23 HR), 73 RBI, 88 K/66 BB (102 G)
The Rockies’ 2010 first-rounder made impressive strides at the plate this season, raising his OPS by 126 points while severely cutting down on his strikeout totals.
New York Yankees: Brett Marshall and Tyler Austin
RHP Brett Marshall (22)
2012 Stats (AA): 13-7, 158.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 (27 GS)
Partially due to the struggles and injuries of Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the Yankees system was seemingly devoid of a legitimate pitching prospect this season. However, Marshall quietly turned in a strong season at Double-A.
OF Tyler Austin (21)
2012 Stats (RK, A-, A+, AA): .322/.400/.559, 58 XBH (17 HR), 80 RBI, 23 SB, 98 K/51 BB (110 G)
Considered a fringe prospect headed into the season, Austin established himself as a legitimate top-50 overall player thanks to his impressive production (and speed) at numerous levels.
Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes and Xander Bogaerts
RHP Matt Barnes (22)
2012 Stats (A-, A+): 7-5, 119.2 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (25 GS)
Barnes' immediate success took everyone by surprise. His breaking ball has been consistent all season, which made him especially successful at Low-A to open the season (26.2 IP, 0.34 ERA, 14.2 K/9).
SS Xander Bogaerts (19)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .307/.373/.523, 60 XBH (20 HR), 81 RBI, 106 K/44 BB (127 G)
After blasting 16 home runs as an 18-year-old at Low-A in 2011, Bogaerts has managed to significantly boost his prospect stock with his performance this season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Chris Archer and Drew Vettleson
RHP Chris Archer (23)
2012 Stats (AAA): 7-9, 128 IP, 3.66 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 (25 GS)
Archer has enjoyed his best season since 2010 thanks to improved command down in the zone. All of his ratio statistics this season are close to his career best, so it’s no surprise that the Rays called him up for two starts in June.
OF Drew Vettleson (21)
2012 Stats (A-): .275/.340/.432, 139 H, 44 XBH (15 HR), 69 RBI, 20 SB, 117 K/51 BB (132 G)
Although he still has room to improve his plate discipline, Vettleson flashed an intriguing blend of power and speed this season, his first full one as a professional. He lacks consistency, but the foundation for a big league outfielder is in place.
Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy and Ty Kelly
RHP Dylan Bundy (19)
2012 Stats (A-, A+, AA): 9-3, 103.2 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (23 GS)
After tossing 30 scoreless innings, allowing only five hits and two walks and fanning 40 batters, Bundy became an overnight sensation—the kind that receives consideration for a September call-up in his first full season. Having already reached Double-A with no signs of slowing down, expect him to be in the Orioles rotation for a majority of the 2013 season.
IF/OF Ty Kelly (24)
2012 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): .327/.425/.467, 42 XBH (11 HR), 70 RBI, 72 K/79 BB (133 G)
Everything came together this season for the 24-year-old, who finished the season at Triple-A after beginning it at High-A Frederick.
Toronto Blue Jays: Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud
RHP Noah Syndergaard (20)
2012 Stats (A-): 8-5, 103.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 (27 G; 19 GS)
A case could be made for any of Low-A Lansing’s “Big Three": Syndergaard, LHP Justin Nicolino or RHP Aaron Sanchez. However, I’m going with Syndergaard.
C Travis d’Arnaud (23)
2012 Stats (AAA): .333/.380/.595, 39 XBH (16 HR), 52 RBI, 59 K/19 BB (67 G)
Despite only playing 67 games due to a season-ending knee injury (torn PCL), d’Arnaud still turned in the best offensive season among the Blue Jays’ position prospects.
Chicago White Sox: Charlie Leesman and Trayce Thompson
LHP Charlie Leesman (25)
2012 Stats (AAA): 12-10, 135 IP, 2.47 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 (26 GS)
He’ll never “wow” anyone, but Leesman is a crafty left-hander who simply knows how to pitch. In his first season at Triple-A, he posted his best statistical season since entering the White Sox’s system in 2008.
OF Trayce Thompson (21)
2012 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): .253/.328/.482, 62 XBH (25 HR), 96 RBI, 21 SB, 166 K/55 BB (136 G)
A highly impressive, raw talent with serious strikeout problems, Thompson improved in all facets of the game this season, especially after the All-Star break. After beginning the season at High-A, the toolsy outfielder was recently promoted to Triple-A, completing an impressive breakout season.
Minnesota Twins: Liam Hendriks and Oswaldo Arcia
RHP Liam Hendriks (23)
2012 Stats (AAA): 9-3, 106.1 IP, 2.20 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (16 GS)
Being winless in the major leagues through 15 starts hasn’t prevented the Australian right-hander from excelling at Triple-A this season.
OF Oswaldo Arcia (21)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .320/.388/.539, 61 XBH (17 HR), 98 RBI, 107 K/51 BB (124 G)
Speaking of breakout seasons, Arcia posted career highs in every offensive category, as he was finally healthy enough to complete a full season. Boy, what a difference it made.
Cleveland Indians: Chris Seddon and Jared Goedert
LHP Chris Seddon (28)
2012 Stats (AAA): 11-5, 123 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 (20 GS)
Seddon is not a prospect. However, his strong season at Triple-A allowed him to return to the major leagues for the first time since 2010 with the Mariners.
3B Jared Goedert (27)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): .311/.373/.502, 47 XBH (19 HR), 77 RBI, 92 K/48 BB (121 G)
OK, so he’s not much of a prospect either. But Goedert has still enjoyed arguably the best offensive season among all the Indians’ position prospects.
Detroit Tigers: Adam Wilk and Nick Castellanos
LHP Adam Wilk (24)
2012 Stats (AAA): 7-11, 149.2 IP, 2.77 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 (24 GS)
While he’s yet to make a similar impact in the major leagues, Wilk has been excellent at Triple-A this season and possesses the best control of any pitcher in the Tigers' system.
RF/3B Nick Castellanos (20)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .320/.365/.451, 46 XBH (10 HR), 57 RBI, 118 K/36 BB (134 G)
After batting .405/.461/.553 in 55 games at High-A to begin the season, the 20-year-old was promoted to Double-A, where success hasn’t come as easily (.264/.296/.382 with 76 strikeouts in 79 games). Still, it’s a remarkable season for one of baseball’s top up-and-coming hitters.
Kansas City Royals: Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers
RHP Jake Odorizzi (22)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 15-5, 145.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 (26 G; 25 GS)
One of the top pitchers in the minor leagues this season, Odorizzi is poised to join the Royals rotation in 2013 after an impressive season (his best) in the upper minors.
OF Wil Myers (21)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): .314/.387/.600, 69 XBH (37 HR), 109 RBI, 140 K/61 BB (134 G)
Recently named the 2012 Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America, Myers has relentlessly mashed all season, as he finished his impressive campaign with the second-highest home run total in the minor leagues.
Los Angeles Angels: Nick Maronde and C.J. Cron
LHP Nick Maronde (23)
2012 Stats (RK, A+, AA): 6-4, 99.2 IP, 2.26 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 (20 G; 18 GS)
With the Angels dealing right-handers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena to the Brewers at the trade deadline, Maronde essentially merits the honor by default. However, that’s not to say he hasn’t been excellent, beginning the year in High-A and ascending to Double-A.
1B C.J. Cron (22)
2012 Stats (A+): .293/.327/.516, 61 XBH (27 HR), 123 RBI, 72 K/17 BB (129 G)
The 2011 first-rounder amassed the most RBI (123) of any minor league hitter, which isn’t as impressive considering that he’s 22 years old in a younger league. Still, the early return on the slugger was impressive and offers a glimpse of what’s to come.
Texas Rangers: Cody Buckel and Jurickson Profar
RHP Cody Buckel (20)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): 10-8, 144.2 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 (26 G; 23 GS)
The undersized right-hander’s four-pitch mix and excellent command have made him a fast riser through the Rangers system, especially after posting a 1.31 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 13 starts at High-A to begin the year.
SS Jurickson Profar (19)
2012 Stats (AA): .281/.368/.452, 135 H, 47 XBH (14 HR), 16 SB, 79 K/66 BB (126 G)
The youngest player at Double-A for the majority of the season (and now in the major leagues), Profar demonstrated all the signs of a future superstar as he improved in every facet of the game at a level beyond his years.
Oakland Athletics: Dan Straily and Miles Head
RHP Dan Straily (23)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 9-7, 152 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 (25 GS)
The minor league strikeout leader this season (190 in 152 IP), Straily reached the major leagues at the beginning of August after beginning the season at Double-A. The right-hander has gone from a pop-up prospect to arguably Oakland's top pitching prospect.
3B Miles Head (21)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .333/.391/.577, 63 XBH (23 HR), 84 RBI, 130 K/39 BB (124 G)
Acquired by the A’s as part of the trade that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston, Head has been a force at the plate. The bad-bodied right-handed hitter posted a 1.149 OPS through 67 games at High-A before a midseason promotion to Double-A Midland.
Seattle Mariners: Danny Hultzen and Brad Miller
LHP Danny Hultzen (22)
2012 Stats (AA, AAA): 9-7, 124 IP, 3.05 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 5.4 BB/9 (25 GS)
Although his performance since reaching Triple-A has been a disappointment and may prevent him from reaching the major leagues this season, his overall body of work in 2012 was as expected from the No. 2 selection in the 2011 draft.
SS Brad Miller (22)
2012 Stats (A+, AA): .334/.410/.512, 62 XBH (15 HR), 68 RBI, 23 SB, 105 K/74 BB (137 G)
Miller has proven that he can hit at every level thus far while exhibiting equally impressive plate discipline and instincts on the bases. However, his defense is messy at shortstop, so it’ll be interesting to see at which position he ultimately sticks.