16 MLB Prospects Who Have Played Themselves from Untouchable to Expendable
I have written a lot this season about all of the great prospects throughout Major League Baseball. It is very exciting to see some of the top prospects such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lonnie Chisenhall get promoted to the majors in recent weeks.
Unfortunately, there is a flip side to this. There have been some highly touted prospects who have had miserable 2011 seasons.
In doing so, they may have removed the "untouchable" label and made themselves expendable. This by no means assumes these players will not have great careers. This simply shows who may have hurt their prospect value.
Here are 16 quality prospects who have had down years.
Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals
2011 minors stats: 2-4, 5.83 ERA in 15 starts, 65 K, 46 BB, 1.55 WHIP
Before you get ready to lynch me, Royals fans, take a look at the numbers. It is clear that Montgomery and his developing arm have not yet found the command necessary to be a major league pitcher.
He has plenty of time to fix that, so there shouldn't be much concern. If this lack of command keeps up, though, Montgomery may just be another average lefty.
Yordy Cabrera, SS, Athletics
2011 minors stats: .254 batting average, .319 on-base percentage, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 19 BB, 59 K
Cabrera's numbers really aren't as bad as many others on this list, but the K/BB rate caught my eye, as did an on-base percentage that, for a projected top-of-the-order guy, should be higher.
He's going to be very good, and the 20-year-old certainly has room to grow. His defensive position is still in question, and with his eye still developing at the plate, his value is questionable.
Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies
2011 minors stats: 0-5, 10.71 ERA in 13 starts, 61 BB, 47 K, 2.60 WHIP
The top Rockies prospect, Matzek has shown tons of promise as the future left-handed ace in Colorado. But this year, there has been plenty of reason to be concerned. He has been very erratic and has shown very little ability to command the strike zone.
He's got great stuff, but right now, it looks like he is still fighting to find his form. This can't continue for long before the Rockies need to be very worried.
Jared Mitchell, Outfielder, White sox
2011 minors stats: .219 batting average, .284 OBP, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 94 K
Chicago's big outfield prospect Jared Mitchell has played himself from top prospect to strikeout king in the course of the year.
Mitchell, who has great power and is a really good athlete, has struck out in over 35 percent of his at-bats, an awful rate that must be improved upon if Mitchell is ever to truly be an impact player in the majors. He just is not hitting the ball hard often enough to be considered a top prospect.
Drake Britton, LHP, Red Sox
2011 minors stats: 1-7, 7.19 ERA in 14 starts, 34 BB, 38 K, 1.60 WHIP
There are a lot of left-handed pitchers on this list, but that's just pure coincidence. Highly touted lefties are just not having great years in the minors.
Britton, a big-time Red Sox prospect, is an example of a kid with terrific stuff who just hasn't quite harnessed it yet. His pitches are very hittable, as shown by a high WHIP and a resulting high ERA.
Anthony Gose, Outfielder, Blue Jays
2011 minors stats: .249 average, .346 OBP, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 71 K, 35 SB
Gose is a terrific prospect, and honestly, his 2011 season hasn't been all that bad. But there are several concerning numbers when you look at him.
For one, he is striking out a lot. That's never a good sign when a guy gets punched out in 27 percent of his at-bats in the minors.
There's no doubt that Gose can become the great outfielder everyone predicts him to be. He has to lower the strikeouts and get on base more, and he will be excellent. But untouchable? Not really.
Andy Oliver, LHP, Tigers
2011 minors stats: 5-5, 4.21 ERA in 13 starts, 71 K, 33 BB, 1.38 WHIP
2011 majors stats: 0-1, 6.52 ERA in two starts, 8 BB, 5 K
Oliver is considered the second-best pitcher in the Tigers system behind Jacob Turner. He has seen time in the majors this year, which means that Detroit thinks highly enough of him to consider him ready.
But in all honesty, Oliver really hasn't shown a whole lot beyond the fact that he can be an average middle-of-the-rotation starter. If he doesn't start dominating the minors, he might be relegated to that status.
Johermyn Chavez, Outfielder, Mariners
2011 minors stats: .221 batting average, .292 OBP, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 17 BB, 71 K
A very good prospect in the Mariners system, Chavez has been largely unimpressive so far this year in Double-A Jackson. He has shown, above all, a poor eye at the plate. While drawing only 17 walks all year, he has struck out 71 times, a ratio that no one wants to see.
Chavez has shown flashes of power and has lots of talent, but the big hurdle he has to clear is developing that major league eye.
Carlos Perez, LHP, Braves
2011 minors stats: 4-6, 5.18 ERA in 15 starts, 33 BB, 76 K, .295 OBA, 1.61 WHIP
This kid is only 19 years old, and he looks young enough to have just passed through the Pokemon phase. But man, can he throw the ball.
Right now, I suppose calling this season a concern is a little ridiculous. He'll improve his command and become a better pitcher for it. But right now, he's getting beat up a little bit by class-A hitters. He's got to get better.
Mark Rogers, RHP, Brewers
2011 minors stats: 0-3, 13.50 ERA in six starts, 25 BB, 13 K, 3.00 WHIP
Rogers, who is the top prospect in the Brewers system, has had a horrific 2011. He has dealt with lingering injuries, and that is something that will really hurt his value in the long run.
Aside from that, he has been very erratic this year. His command is off, and part of that may be due to some mechanical tweaking to avoid future injuries. Regardless, he's not an untouchable prospect any more, and if he doesn't improve, he might fall into that "average" category.
Jose Iglesias, Shortstop, Red Sox
2011 minors stats: .225 average, .264 OBP, 16 RBI, 9 BB, 33 K
Iglesias, the top prospect in a deep Red Sox farm system, has had a very disappointing 2011 to date. He has not shown the top-of-the-order ability to get on base.
Of course, his defense is his strongest attribute, and that will be his most valuable asset. But in order to keep him from turning into the next Yuniesky Betancourt, Iglesias really needs to improve his bat.
Yorman Rodriguez, Outfielder, Reds
2011 minors stats: .232 batting average, .306 OBP, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 17 SB, 73 K
Like many of the other talented young hitters on this list, Rodriguez is having some difficulty with his eye at the plate. He is just 18, so this isn't a huge concern yet, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on (no pun intended) over the next few years.
He is a tremendously skilled player, but he really won't be able to keep the "top prospect" label for long if he doesn't improve his approach at the plate. The steals and extra bases will come, but he has to make contact first.
Delino DeShields Jr., 2B, Astros
2011 minors stats: .197 batting average, .285 OBP, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 26 BB, 71 K
DeShields is the son of former major leaguer Delino Sr. and plays much like his father. He is very fast, a good defender and has some surprising pop at the plate. Actually, for Junior, the pop has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal 2011 campaign.
The top offensive prospect for Houston, DeShields must become more disciplined at the plate. He is chasing pitches out of the zone and has high strikeouts, low walks and an awful average to prove it.
Charlie Culberson, 2B, Giants
2011 minors stats: .255 batting average, .293 OBP, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 13 BB, 73 K
Culberson is a very good second base prospect that a lot of people in San Francisco are excited about. But just like many other people on this list, Culberson has a major flaw right now—his eye. His awful 73 K/13 BB rate is something that absolutely must be improved.
He'll be a fine second baseman, but without plate discipline, he becomes just another mid-tier prospect.
Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers
2011 minors stats: 4-4, 7.28 ERA in 9 starts (17 app.), 61 K, 39 BB, 1.87 WHIP
Martin is the top pitching prospect in a relatively thin Dodgers system, and there is little reason to be hopeful about him, especially given his performance this year. He has proved to be very hittable, and at 22, he does not have as much growing left to do as some other prospects on this list.
Martin's fastball command looks to be spotty, and that's what he must focus on if he is to make it to the next level.
Cesar Puello, Outfielder, Mets
2011 minors stats: .239 batting average, .292 OBP, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 56 K, 10 BB, 12 SB
The speedy outfield prospect is a very interesting specimen, as he resembles a wild horse more than a young baseball player. Puello plays wildly, and his horrific 5.6 K/BB ratio and spotty defense exhibit that.
Regardless, he's going to be a very fun player to watch. Because of his erratic play and lack of any type of plate discipline, though, his value really isn't that high despite being one of the top Mets prospects.