MLB Prospects Update: Hottest, Coldest Hitters at Every Minor League Level
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier today, I wrote about two pitching prospects from each minor league level (Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, Low-A)—one doing really well and one doing really poorly. With the MLB draft coming up on Thursday, expect some movement. A handful of picks from each team have a chance to go straight to full-season ball and corresponding promotions and demotions will occur.
Here are eight hitters who are putting themselves in one of those aforementioned categories with their recent play.
Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
Season stats: .281 BA, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 12 2B, 2 3B, 27 BB, 64 K, 3 SB in 53 games
A slow start all but eliminated all the "When will Wil Myers be promoted" talk. Now, he's quietly put himself back in line for a big league call-up with 21 hits in his last 58 at-bats, including six homers and 22 runs batted in despite going hitless against top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole in today's game.
The 22-year-old, who had a huge 2012 season while with the Royals' organization (.314 BA, 37 HR, 109 RBI between Triple-A and Double-A), could be the starting right fielder in Tampa Bay by the end of the month.
Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants
Season stats: .205 BA, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 14 2B, 2 3B, 14 BB, 58 K, 6 SB in 56 games
Considered to be on the fast track to the majors after the Giants took him with the 24th pick in the 2010 draft, he did nothing to temper those expectations after putting up huge numbers in the High-A California League the following season (.925 OPS, 53 SB).
But his Double-A numbers in 2012 (.731 OPS, 33 SB) weren't what you'd hope for from a top prospect. Now the 24-year-old has been overmatched in his first season in Triple-A. He was terrible in April (.535 OPS, 1 SB in 4 attempts), slightly less terrible in May (.692 OPS, 5 SB) and is currently mired in a 1-for-17 slump with no walks and five strikeouts.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
Season stats: .306 BA, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 12 2B, 5 3B, 30 BB, 46 K, 5 SB in 49 games
While some scouts think Bogaerts will be a third baseman in the major leagues, others think he'll be able to hold his own as a shortstop—he has yet to play a position other than shortstop or designated hitter in the minors.
The bottom line is that he's going to be in the majors because of his bat at one of those spots. Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks should be paying attention, because it could be at their expense by sometime in 2014.
The 20-year-old Bogaerts, who hit .306 in April but didn't homer, had five homers in May and is now off to a 6-for-10 start in June with three consecutive multi-hit games. In his last eight games, Bogaerts is 14-for-27 with three homers, four doubles, 10 runs batted in and nine walks.
Nick Ahmed, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Season stats: .152 BA, HR, 13 RBI, 5 2B, 15 BB, 38 K, 6 SB in 58 games
Shortstop was obviously a top priority for the Diamondbacks' offseason. They acquired Cliff Pennington, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed in separate trades. Pennington was more of a stop-gap until Gregorius was ready, and Ahmed was supposed to give the team a potential long-term solution with upside.
With the way Gregorius has played since arriving in the majors, "shortstop of the future" could be a useless term in this organization. The way Ahmed has played, it probably doesn't matter.
The former second-round pick of the Braves is coming off of a strong season in High-A Lynchburg (.728 OPS, 40 SB). But it's been a different story in the Double-A Southern League, where he's hitting just .152 with one homer and six stolen bases. And that's after collecting four hits in his last 12 at-bats.
Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Season stats: .335 BA, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 13 2B, 5 3B, 14 BB, 28 K, 3 SB in 49 games
There's not much question whether Rosario can hit enough to get to the majors. He's hit at every level, including a recent assault on Florida State League pitching when he had 14 hits in 24 at-bats during a run of six consecutive multi-hit games.
He's playing every day at second base after spending most of his early career in the outfield. If he can handle the position, which many think he can do adequately, the 21-year-old could be the answer to the Twins' lack of second base production within a year or two.
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
Season stats: .191 BA, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 11 2B, 3B, 15 BB, 74 K, 8 SB in 52 games
The top-ranked prospect in the Rockies' organization coming into the season, Story is one of the rare players to struggle once they get to the very hitter-friendly California League. It's especially rare after crushing the ball in the pitcher-friendly South Atlantic League (.872 OPS, 18 HR, 15 SB).
Only 20 years old, it's not uncommon for a player who is young for a league to struggle upon first arrival. Struggling this badly in the Cal League, however, has to be a huge concern for the Rockies and considered a setback for the farm system.
Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies
Season stats: .348 BA, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 18 2B, 32 BB, 46 K, 14 SB in 54 games
The best thing that can happen when one prospect (Trevor Story) struggles and isn't coming close to meeting expectations is when another prospect at the same position completely obliterates expectations and rockets up the prospect charts.
In 2012, Herrera was a light-hitting third baseman/shortstop who posted a measly .543 OPS in 63 Low-A games. Fast-forward one season, and Herrera is a 20-year-old switch-hitting shortstop who is on pace for 20-plus homers and 30-plus stolen bases in the same league.
Just don't expect him to be in the league long enough for him to do it. He's 14 for his last 32 and could either join Story or switch places with him in the Cal League.
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
Season stats: .207 BA, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 8 2B, 3B, 16 BB, 58 K, 7 SB in 50 games
A tremendous athlete with superstar potential, it was no secret that Starling was a raw talent who was far away from the majors. While he showed off his skills in the short-season Appalachian League in 2012 (.856 OPS, 10 HR, 10 SB in 53 games), the holes in his game are being exposed in full-season ball.
The 20-year-old, who was taken fifth overall in the 2011 draft, is striking out once every three at-bats. And while that is actually a worse rate than last season, he's not getting away with it at this level. His athleticism and talent has gotten him this far. It will be interesting to see if he can make the proper adjustments and move up the ladder.
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