Every MLB Team's Most Unimproved Prospect
Teams expect their top prospects to get better in each progressive season as they work their way toward the major leagues. However, there are some prospects who end up stalling out, either as a result of an injury or an inability to adjust to a new level.
The 2011 season saw a number of prospects stagnate with their performances. For a player to be considered for this list, they needed to be one of the team's top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering the 2011 year.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Marc Krauss
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The Arizona Diamondbacks believed that Marc Krauss was ready to handle Double-A in 2011 after his impressive performance in High-A ball. He struggled throughout the year.
After hitting over .300 at High-A, Krauss managed to hit just .242 in AA. Krauss was also unable to cut down on his strikeouts.
Atlanta Braves: Matt Lipka
A first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2010, Matt Lipka managed to impress in the 52 games that he played in Rookie ball after he was drafted. He did not see the same level of success in 2011.
Lipka struggled both offensively and defensively in High-A ball. He batted just .247 on the year and was caught stealing 14 times in 42 attempts.
Defensively, Lipka struggled so much at both second base and shortstop that the team moved him to the outfield for the fall instructional league.
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Baltimore Orioles: Wynn Pelzer
Throughout his career in the minor leagues, Wynn Pelzer has had an ERA of around 4.00. That trend continued in 2011, but he had some issues this past season.
Pelzer had the highest walk rate of his career and he walked 5.5 batters per nine innings. His strikeout rate also dropped to 7.4 K/9. The Orioles moved him to the bullpen in the minors, and he was able to start to improve there.
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Boston Red Sox: Stolmy Pimentel
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2011 was a lost year for Stolmy Pimentel. The Boston Red Sox thought that he was prepared to handle Double-A hitters and they were wrong.
Hitters went off on Pimentel and he lost nine games and had a 9.12 ERA in 15 Double-A starts.
He was moved back down to High-A ball and he pitched better, but overall, it was a disappointing season for Pimentel.
Chicago Cubs: Hayden Simpson
The Chicago Cubs were expecting a lot from Hayden Simpson after they selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Simpson made his professional debut in 2011, and it did not go according to plan.
He struggled mightily in A-ball and then he did even worse in Rookie ball. Simpson ended the year with a 1-10 record, a 6.27 ER, 1.77 WHIP and a bunch of questions about what went wrong for him this year.
Chicago White Sox: Jared Mitchell
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Jared Mitchell missed all of the 2010 season after he underwent ankle surgery, and the Chicago White Sox were eagerly waiting for his return to the field. He was the 55th-best prospect in the game prior to 2010 according to Baseball America.
Once Mitchell was back on the field, his struggles were apparent. He saw his batting average dip to .222 and his on-base percentage drop to .304.
Pitchers were able to strike out Mitchell 183 times in 477 at-bats. Mitchell struggled on the base paths and was caught stealing six times in 20 attempts.
Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Lotzkar
Kyle Lotzkar is supposed to be one of the more promising young arms in the Cincinnati Reds system. However, in 2011, he did not perform like one.
Pitching in High-A ball, Lotzkar had a very mediocre year. He had a 4.32 ERA in 14 starts, and he also managed to pitch just under five innings per appearance.
Cleveland Indians: Nick Weglarz
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An injury cost Nick Weglarz most of his 2011 season, but it did not go very well when he was on the field.
The Cleveland Indians had hoped that they could get Weglarz back up to Triple-A at some point during the year, but it was not an option.
Weglarz played just 41 games for the Indians and he struggled the whole time. He batted just .172 and it seemed as if his power was zapped.
Colorado Rockies: Tyler Matzek
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Entering the 2011 season, Tyler Matzek was one of the most exciting pitching prospects in baseball. Once the season ended, there were questions of if he was still even one of the Colorado Rockies' top prospects.
Following a strong campaign at A ball, the Rockies promoted Matzek to High-A to begin the 2011 season. Matzek imploded there and lost all of his control. He walked 46 batters in 33 innings and had a 9.82 ERA.
Matzek was sent back down to A ball, where he pitched better but still suffered with control issues, which had been a concern throughout his career.
Detroit Tigers: Daniel Fields
When a team has a player repeat a level, they are looking for him to improve on his previous performance. The Detroit Tigers were hoping that Daniel Fields could improve on his past season at High-A ball.
As a 20-year-old, Fields posted a .220/.308/.326 slash line, which is worse than what he put up the previous year. He was able to improve his discipline on the base paths.
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Houston Astros: Mike Foltynewicz
Given the current state of the Houston Astros, they will be depending on a lot of their young talent to make them relevant again. One of the players they thought they could count on was Mike Foltynewicz.
That did not prove to be true in 2011. The Astros placed the 19-year-old in A ball and thought he could handle it. Turns out that Foltynewicz was not ready for this level; he had a 4.97 ERA and saw his strikeout rate drop sharply.
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Kansas City Royals: Chris Dwyer
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Chris Dwyer was supposed to be one of the up-and-coming pitchers who could soon find himself in the Kansas City Royals' rotation. Those plans have been stalled a bit after his 2011 campaign.
Dwyer was one of the Royals' top pitching prospects at Double-A, but he was not able to perform. He struggled throughout the year and did not take any steps forward. Dwyer had a 5.0 BB/9 rate and a 5.60 ERA.
Los Angeles Angels: Hank Conger
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The Los Angeles Angels kept Hank Conger in the majors for most of the year, but he did not get to play that much. He got 177 at-bats in the majors and 100 at-bats at Triple-A.
Conger still has a bright future ahead of him, but 2011 could almost be considered a lost year. He could have used more at-bats to improve his game so he would be ready to be a starter in 2012.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Ethan Martin
Coming into the 2011 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers knew that one of the things Ethan Martin needed to work on was his control. He did not see an improvement in this area.
Martin had a 6.2 BB/9 rate between High-A and Double-A. The Dodgers had hoped that Martin could be a starter, but they turned him into a reliever in order to try to help his development.
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Miami Marlins: Kyle Skipworth
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A number of people have began to wonder if Kyle Skipworth is a bust. He was selected with the sixth overall pick by the Marlins in 2009 and he has failed to live up to expectations.
In 2011, Skipworth took yet another step backwards. He saw his batting average drop off precipitously and saw his strikeout total rise. His on-base percentage sat at an atrocious .273. Skipworth also struggled behind the dish.
Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Rogers
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Baseball America considered Mark Rogers to be the best prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization prior to the 2011 season. After the year ended, it is certain that they will not come to that same conclusion for the 2012 season.
Regardless of the level, Rogers struggled. Between 13 starts at Triple-A, High-A and Rookie ball, Rogers had a 9.34 ERA, 2.21 WHIP and a 8.5 BB/9 rate.
Minnesota Twins: Kyle Gibson
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Kyle Gibson had a rough year in 2011. He had the worst season of his career while pitching in Triple-A, but he did make some minor improvements. The problem was that he was very hittable all year.
Gibson's season ended early when he suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. It will be interesting to see what type of pitcher he is when he returns.
New York Mets: Fernando Martinez
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Could the New York Mets' most unimproved prospect really be anyone other than Fernando Martinez? He has struggled to improve for the past few years as a result of injuries.
The injury bug struck once again and Martinez was limited to just 60 games at Triple-A. While his numbers were decent, they don't mean anything if he is unable to stay on the field.
New York Yankees: Andrew Brackman
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Andrew Brackman was a two-sport star at N.C. State, but he struggled with baseball once he was in the New York Yankees minor-league system.
The Yankees were so disappointed with his 2011 performance that they declined his option and made him a free agent.
Brackman spent the season at Triple-A and had control issues throughout the year. This resulted in a 7.0 BB/9 rate and a 6.00 ERA on the year. The Yankees tried to make him a reliever, but this did not solve his problems.
Oakland Athletics: Max Stassi
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Shoulder injuries are a very serious issue for a catcher. Max Stassi had been limited to playing DH for the Oakland Athletics Single-A team before he underwent season-ending surgery.
This could be classified as a lost season for Stassi as he played just 31 games, none of them behind the plate. Stassi had some struggles at the plate, but they could be explained by his injury.
Philadelphia Phillies: Domonic Brown
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There is a lot of pressure on a player when he is considered to be a top five prospect by Baseball America. Domonic Brown started the year in the majors for the Philadelphia Phillies once he returned from a hand injury, but he wasn't ready for the big leagues.
Even when he was in Triple-A, Brown did not achieve at the level that was expected of him. Many talent evaluators believe Brown took a step back in 2011.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Tony Sanchez
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A great performance in High-A ball in 2010 led Baseball America to rank Tony Sanchez as baseball's 46th-best prospect.
The young Pittsburgh Pirates catching prospect struggled to repeat his level of performance in Double-A.
Sanchez saw his batting average drop to .241, and his on-base percentage fell to .340. He had a decent season, but the Pirates were expecting him to take a big step forward in 2011.
San Diego Padres: Simon Castro
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The San Diego Padres thought that if Simon Castro put in a few good months at Triple-A, he could help their major league team before the end of the year. Castro only lasted six starts at Triple-A and had a 10.17 ERA.
He was sent back down to Double-A and he began to regain his form. Castro pitched much better in Double-A, but this was certainly not what the Padres expected his 2011 trajectory to be.
San Francisco Giants: Charlie Culberson
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Plate discipline is an issue for many young players, and Charlie Culberson did not escape this problem. He saw his walk total decrease and his strikeout total increase in 2011.
The San Francisco Giants prospect also saw his on-base percentage drop below .300. Culberson will likely repeat Double-A in 2012, and he has a lot to prove.
Seattle Mariners: Mauricio Robles
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The Seattle Mariners entered the 2011 season with a number of impressive pitching prospects, but now they are concerned about one of them. Mauricio Robles started his season late as a result of an offseason elbow surgery.
Once Robles got on the mound, it did not seem like much went right for him. He made 10 starts between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. Robles had serious control issues that contributed to his 8.91 ERA.
St. Louis Cardinals: Seth Blair
Being a first-round pick comes with certain expectations. Seth Blair did not live up to those expectations after an outstanding college career at Arizona State University.
The St. Louis Cardinals were confident in Blair and decided to start him off at A-ball. While he posted a winning record, Blair struggled mightily with his control and was fairly hittable.
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Tampa Bay Rays: Justin O'Conner
At just 19 years old, Justin O'Conner still has a lot of time to turn things around. He is one of the more heralded prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays system, but he had a very rough year in 2011.
O'Conner repeated Rookie ball, but he struggled. O'Conner impressed with his power, but his plate discipline was miserable. He struck out 78 times in 178 at-bats and only had a .157 batting average on the year.
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Texas Rangers: Chris McGuiness
The top prospects in the Texas Rangers' farm system all had incredibly impressive seasons. There is a reason why they are considered to have one of the best systems in the game.
Chris McGuiness was considered by Baseball America to have the best strike-zone discipline amongst Rangers hitters. He struggled at the plate in 2011 and batted just .214.
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Toronto Blue Jays: Kyle Drabek
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Kyle Drabek was the centerpiece of the Roy Halladay deal. Now, the Toronto Blue Jays are wondering if he will ever develop into the ace they were expecting him to become.
Drabek struggled in the majors and was just as bad, if not worse, when he was demoted to Triple-A. He needs to work on a number of things in the offseason.
Washington Nationals: Derek Norris
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There is no doubt that the power is there for Derek Norris. He has demonstrated that throughout his minor league career. However, he has struggled with other parts of his game at the plate.
Norris hit just .210 and struck out 117 times in 334 at-bats at Double-A. The Washington Nationals were hoping Norris would resolve his strikeout issues, but that is something he must continue to work on.