Many of the game’s top young hitters, such as Jurickson Profar and Xander Bogaerts, have begun to breakout of their respective early season funks over the last week. Meanwhile, outfielder Wil Myers appears poised for a promotion to the major leagues in the near future.
Right-handers Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler haven’t fared as well, as they both have battled command issues and struggled to execute pitches at the Triple-A level.
On the injury front, top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy is slowly working his way back from a minor elbow issue that has persisted since spring training, while sweet-swinging Christian Yelich (heel) finally returned to action for Double-A Jacksonville over the weekend.
Here’s an updated look at the stocks of Prospect Pipeline’s top 10 prospects after the first three weeks of the minor league season.
1. Jurickson Profar, SS/2B, Texas Rangers
2013 Stats: .213/.351/.404, 4 XBH (2 HR), 3 SB, 13/10 K/BB (13 G)
After missing several games with an injury to his left side last week, Profar turned in a breakout performance on April 16 as he was 3-for-5 with a triple, home run and three RBI. Over his next three contests, the 20-year-old switch-hitter was 0-for-10 until homering as part of a 1-for-5 performance on Sunday.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats: .283/.313/.391, 3 XBH, 2 SB, 5/2 K/BB (12 G)
Taveras has swung the bat well in the early going of his first taste of Triple-A, but has yet to really catch fire like he inevitably will. He’s begun to showcase more power over his last four games, as the 20-year-old outfielder is 5-for-16 with a double and a home run.
3. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats: N/A
Plagued by elbow and forearm tightness/soreness since the end of spring training, Bundy has yet to throw a pitch in the minor leagues this season. However, the good news is that his 2013 debut may not be far away.
According to the latest report, the unanimous top pitching prospect will throw from 75-to-90 feet today in extended spring training with the goal of throwing off a mound next week. Hopefully this marks the end of the right-hander’s early season injury woes, though it’s safe to assume that the organization will be extra cautious with their phenom.
4. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: .304/.406/.429, 4 XBH (HR), 12 RBI, 17/11 K/BB (15 G)
Although Myers has been hitting for average and reaching base at a favorable clip, the 22-year-old outfielder had experienced an unexpected power outage to begin the 2013 season. Well, the drought is finally over, as Myers jumped the yard for the first time on Saturday.
Currently riding a six-game hitting streak during which he’s 7-for-22 with five RBI, Myers is nearing a promotion to the major leagues with his new organization.
5. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats: 22 IP, 1.64 ERA, .165 BAA, 25/14 K/BB (4 GS)
After a shaky first start of the season on April 4 in which he allowed four earned runs on five hits (two home runs) and four walks over five innings, Walker has not allowed an earned run over his last three starts. During his current scoreless stretch, the 20-year-old right-hander has allowed eight hits over 17 innings with 17/10 K/BB.
Considering he’s repeating Double-A after he spent the entire 2012 season at the level—as a 19-year-old, nonetheless—Walker seems poised to bypass Triple-A entirely en route to the major leagues. It’s not that he wouldn’t benefit from additional exposure at the more advanced level, but, in reality, how much good could come from pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League?
6. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats: 16.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, .226 BAA, 14/11 K/BB (4 GS)
Cole’s numbers may look solid on paper; however, the 6’4” right-hander’s performance tells a different story. With three above-average-to-plus-plus offerings, he should be dominating Triple-A hitters; his stuff is simply that good.
But instead Cole has been merely average at best, as his command has been inconsistent while struggling to put away opposing hitters. Yes, he’s still been difficult to barrel; however, the fact that he’s walked 11 batters over his last 12.1 innings leaves something to be desired.
7. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats: 18.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, .282 BAA, 21/12 K/BB (4 GS)
Like Cole, Wheeler is yet to dominate at the Triple-A level as both his stuff and future projection would suggest. Coming off his best start of the young season on April 14 (5.1 IP, 3 ER, 8/0 K/BB), the right-hander labored through 4.1 frames on Friday, as he ultimately allowed four earned runs on three hits and six walks. Although he’s still missing bats at a favorable rate (21 in 18.1 innings), Wheeler’s shaky control and command will need to improve before there’s any talk of a promotion to the major leagues.
8. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: 15 IP, 3.60 ERA, .200 BAA, 17/6 K/BB (3 GS)
After a pair of outstanding starts to begin his career in the major leagues, Fernandez, 20, was touched up for the first time on April 18 in a highly anticipated matchup against the Reds’ Tony Cingrani (who was making his first big league start). The Marlins’ top prospect was ultimately out-dueled, as he allowed five earned runs on six hits and four walks over four innings.
Considering his overwhelming success against the Mets and Phillies, getting hit around a bit by the Reds is actually beneficial toward his overall development, as it should help teach the youngster the importance of making adjustments.
9. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats: .266/.338/.313, 3 XBH, 21/7 K/BB (15 G)
After an ice-cold start to the 2013 season for Double-A Portland, Bogaerts has finally begun to heat up at the plate over the last week. Through his last six contests, the 20-year-old is 10-for-23 with three doubles, four RBI and 7/4 K/BB. The fact that he’s yet to jump the yard this season—something that he did 20 times in 2012—isn’t overly concerning, as his power should emerge as his timing improves and he becomes more comfortable at the plate.
10. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats: .167/.231/.167, 8/1 K/BB (3 G)
After missing the first several weeks of the season while recovering from a heel injury sustained toward the end of spring training, Yelich, who boasts arguably the sweetest left-handed swing the minor leagues, returned to the field over the weekend.
Don’t read too far into the fact that he’s fanned eight times in 12 at-bats, as it’s customary for any young hitter to swing through countless pitches while regaining their timing at the plate, especially in the wake of a sizable layoff.