Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
9-for-16 (.563), 3 XBH (HR), 2 SB, 2/2 K/BB (4 G)
Byron Buxton, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, has opened his full-season debut on an absolute tear. In addition to homering in the second game of the year, the toolsy outfielder has amassed multiple hits in three of four games played, including a 4-for-5 performance with a double and triple in the series finale against Beloit on Sunday.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
6-for-20 (.300), 3 XBH (HR), 8 RBI, SB, 4/2 K/BB (4 G)
The No. 1 overall draft pick last June, it’s scary to think that Carlos Correa is only 18 years old. Playing for Low-A Quad Cities, the immensely talented shortstop turned in a monster performance against Kane County on Saturday. At the dish, he was 4-for-7 with a double, home run and five RBI.
Mitch Walding, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
6-for-11 (.545), 2B, 4 RBI, 1/5 K/BB (4 G)
One of my favorite sleeper prospects headed into last season, Mitch Walding struggled to the tune of .233/.326/.308 over 69 Short-Season games.
But you know what? I’m standing by my prediction for the upcoming season. While the emergence of power may still be a few years away, Walding appears poised for a breakout season in Low-A.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers
7-for-17 (.412), 2 HR, 2 SB, 5/1 K/BB (4 G)
One of multiple highly regarded Texas Rangers’ prospects to open the season in Low-A, Lewis Brinson projects to have five above-average-to-plus tools at maturity, but he is understandably raw in all facets of the game.
Still, the 6’3”, 170-pound outfielder turned plenty of heads over the weekend by hitting safely in all four games against Greensboro and jumping the yard on back-to-back days (Saturday and Sunday) to conclude the series.
Roman Quinn, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
6-for-18 (.333), 3 SB, 4/1 K/BB (4 G)
A player likely to move up every prospect list over the course of the season, Roman Quinn may very well be the fastest player in the minor leagues not named Billy Hamilton.
In his professional debut last summer in the Short-Season New York-Penn League, the 5’10” switch-hitter paced the league in triples (11), stolen bases (30) and runs scored (56). Making his full-season debut for Low-A Lakewood, Quinn has picked up where he left off last year with six hits and three stolen bases through his first four games.
Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
1-for-12 (.083), 3/1 K/BB (3 G)
One of the more intriguing prep hitters in the 2011 draft class, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Josh Bell a well-over-slot, $5 million bonus as a second-rounder. However, just 15 games into his professional debut for Low-A West Virginia, the 6’4” switch-hitter suffered a knee injury that required season-ending surgery.
As a result, Bell has fallen behind the developmental curve, especially as it relates to his plate discipline and pitch recognition. While his .083 batting average through the first three games of the season is a small sample—and somewhat expected following the massive layoff—his need to make up for lost time puts additional pressure on his once-promising bat.
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
1-for-12 (.083), 7/2 K/BB (4 G)
Ever since the Kansas City Royals made Derek “Bubba” Starling the fifth overall selection in 2011, the now-20-year-old’s prospect stock has been sliding steadily in the rankings.
While his tools still rank among the best in the minor leagues, the 6’4” outfielder remains a model of inconsistency, especially at the plate.
More specifically, he’s struggled to make in-game adjustments from at-bat to at-bat; Starling repeatedly bars his front arm and rushes both his load and weight transfer. In turn, the right-handed hitter struggles to make a favorable point of contact, as his bat drags through the zone on the same plane regardless of pitch location.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
1-for-13 (.077), 7/2 K/BB (4 G)
Other than Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins, Joey Gallo is arguably the only other hitter in the minor leagues with true 80-grade power. He emerged as a rookie-level sensation in his professional debut last summer, as the 6’5”, left-handed hitter shattered the Arizona League record with 18 home runs in 43 games (1.169 OPS).
Considering his penchant for the three true outcomes (home run, strikeout and walk), Gallo may endure periods in which he struggles to make contact. At the same time, he’ll also go on home run binges as if he were a character out of a Matt Christopher book.
Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, New York Yankees
2-for-16 (.125), HR, 7/1 K/BB (4 G)
The son of the former mullet-sporting Colorado Rockies outfielder of the same name, Dante Bichette Jr. posted an impressive .947 OPS in his professional debut in 2011, but saw his OPS drop nearly 300 points during his full-season debut the following year in Low-A.
Repeating the level once again this season, the third baseman is off to another slow start after a 2-for-16 opening series. While he’s bound to post better numbers in his second tour of the level, the deterioration of the 20-year-old’s plate discipline over the last year is becoming increasingly disconcerting.
Charlie Tilson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2-for-18 (.111), 4/0 K/BB (4 G)
Selected by the St. Louis Cardinals as an over-slot second-rounder in 2011, Charlie Tilson missed the entire 2012 season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Possessing top-of-the-order potential thanks to a knack for contact and plus speed from the left side, the 21-year-old is in desperate need of significant professional experience.