Here are some of the best-looking prospects still playing in the AAA Pacific Coast League after the recent wave of major league promotions.
OF Alex Gordon and 1B Kila Ka’aihue (both 26, Royals)
Neither Gordon nor Ka’aihue are exactly “prospects,” since they are now both 26 years old. However, both are really too good to be playing in the PCL as I write this.
The Royals, the rocket scientists of MLB, have soured on Gordon, and are now trying to convert him into an outfielder at the AAA level.
New Royals manager Ned Yost was quoted yesterday as saying the Royals don’t plan to call up Gordon and his 1.148 AAA OPS to the majors until the Royals can find a place for him to play every day.
This begs the question; who exactly do the Royals (a team that’s nine games below .500, in fourth place in their division, 9.5 games back of first place, and has no real chance of making the post season unless both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander are seriously injured, and the entire Twins’ roster dies in a plane crash) have that’s too good for Alex Gordon to take his place?
No one that I can see.
Ka’aihue (I’ll call him KK) isn’t as good a player as Gordon, and he’s stuck behind Billy Butler, who is two years younger. Still, he can hit with power and get on base.
The Royals need to move David DeJesus and Jose Guillen, who are playing well enough that they might actually get something of value in return, and call up Gordon and KK to take their places on the major league roster.
Catchers J. P. Arencibia (Blue Jays) and Josh Donaldson (A’s)
These two 24 year old catchers are getting close. Arencibia has an .878 OPS, and Donaldson an .844.
Donaldson got a cup of coffee from the A’s earlier this year and didn’t hit (he went 4-for-26). He’s slumping right now (hitting .194 in his last ten AAA games), but still looks very promising.
Arencibia is red hot right now (.385 batting average and 1.261 OPS in his last ten games), and I would expect him to be the first player on this list promoted to the majors. He’s got a lot of power and hits for a decent average.
My only concern is that he is not a patient hitter. Arencibia has only 15 walks to go with 45 strikeouts so far this year, and has had even worse ratios in prior minor league seasons. Still, a catcher with power is a valuable thing.
2B Brock Bond (Giants) and 1B Mark Trumbo (Angels)
I’ve lumped these two together because they’re both 24 years old, and neither seems to get much respect from the teams that control them.
Bond has no power to speak of, but he’s young and his .420 on-base percentage is the fifth highest in the PCL. Middle infielders who get on base have value, yet I can’t remember the last time anyone in the Giants organization said anything to the effect that Bond is a great prospect.
I suspect Bond’s defense isn’t very good, because this is the second year his offensive abilities have been pronounced. He led the Eastern League in batting average (.333) and OBP (.429) in 2009.
Mark Trumbo has 15 HRs and an .860 OPS, but the Angels didn’t feel the need to promote him, even since they learned that Kendry Morales will be out for the year.
His faults are more obvious to me, however. He has only 13 walks and 54 strikeouts in 235 AAA at-bats this year.
He isn’t likely to have an adequate OBP for a first baseman at the major league level at this point. It’s definitely something he’s got to work on, because the power is there.
1B Chris Davis (24, Rangers)
After having played his way out of the majors, Davis is hitting well at AAA Oklahoma City, where he has a .900 OPS after 45 games. He needs more time in AAA to find his stroke again, but he’s still young enough that he could be back in the major leagues for good by 2011 and still have a successful major league career.
A few other position players who deserve mention here are C Hank Conger (22); 3B Brett Wallace, C Jason Castro, and 1B Chris Carter (23); 3B Matt Mangini, 2B Eric Sogard, and CF Luis Durango (24); and LF Chris Lubanksi (25).
However, they all look to need more time at AAA before they’ll be ready.
Here are the PCL’s most promising starters who haven’t yet received the call.
RHP Jay Jackson (22, Cubs)
He’s only 3-5, but has a 2.90 ERA and a 3:1 K/BB ratio.
LHP Madison Bumgarner (20, Giants)
Bumgarner is now 7-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 2.4:1 K/BB ratio. Madison was simply awful his first two starts of the PCL season, but has had an ERA right around 2.00 in his eleven starts since then. Everyone in San Francisco expects that Bumgarner will be pitching in majors before the September call-ups and perhaps as early as the All-Star Break.
LHP Michael Kirkman (23, Rangers)
He’s 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA and leads the PCL with 70 Ks. However, he’s also second in the PCL with 41 walks allowed, which means he still needs to work on his command before he’s major league-ready.
RHP Brandon Dickson (25, Cardinals)
At age 25, Dickson is starting to push it as a prospect. However, he’s having a fine year for Memphis, going 7-3 with a 2.93 ERA and a better than 2:1 K/BBs ratio.
Dickson was undrafted out of college, and this is by far the best season of his career to date. Still, he isn’t old yet, and he’s performing well at the highest level of the minors, so he’s got a shot.