Chicago White Sox – 2016 Organizational All-Stars – Pitchers

chicagowhitesox

No sooner than Frankie Montas hit my radar, he was traded to the Dodgers during the hot stove season in 2015. But before getting to the White Sox, he belonged the the other color of  Sox. The Boston Red Sox dealt him to Chicago in another 3-team deal back in 2013. The 23 year-old jumped on the UTRMinors pages in 2014 when he vaulted from the AZL to HiA Winston-Salem and became a UTR-OAS at the end of the season. He was the only spotlight in a hodgepodge of arms for the Sox, with exception of a  19 year-old Luis Martinez who glimmered his way into the OAS Top 5. With Montas gone to LA, most of those listed in 2014 faded away, which opened the door for a talented group in the 2015 edition. The spotlight transferred over to Jordan Guerrero, who I missed on as a “One to Watch”prior to the 15′ season. But I recovered in making our readers aware by writing a blurb on the then 20-year old who was tearing it up at LoA Kannapolis. Now 22, Guerrero spent 2016 cutting his teeth  in the Double-A Southern League with Birmingham. He’s a command specialist waiting to blossom; and I still consider him a safe buy to stash in a deep league roster. I could go on to mention the others making the UTR-OAS in 2015, but you’ll see that most grace the Top 5 below. Oh…and Frankie Montas?….my radar was dead-on calibrated, as he made his MLB debut with the White Sox in 2015, and probably would have continued in LA, had he not gotten derailed by an off-season surgery in early 2016. The extraordinary circumstances of his injury may have frightened the Dodgers, as they moved him to the Oakland Athletics in August 2016.
 
Internationally for the South-siders, it was tough to find a DSL pitcher within my spreadsheet . In fact, only three were listed out of the 30+ pitchers tracked over the last 3 seasons respectively. In 2014, Kevin Escoria and Jadier Rocha were named Organizational All-Stars, but their development has slowed. 2016 International Watch was Jhoan Quijada, who made his U.S. debut, but saw limited action, mostly out of the bullpen.
 
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Scores/TPS
 
1. LHP Tanner Banks – 20 / .121
  • 24 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 18th round – 2014
  • Banks had a solid season, especially after his June promotion to Winston-Salem. He drops from my UTR radar, as he turned 25 in late October and hopefully will move on to a more age appropriate level in 2017. Though he rose to the top within my system, I believe it’s too late and I project him as organizational filler.
2. RHP Zachary Thompson– 17 / .095
  • 22 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 48th round – 2011
  • YES!…it’s so awesome to see a draft pick at the lowest level make the list. And even better when it’s in back-to-back years. Just a few days ago, Hudson Belinsky at Baseball America was asked about the 6′ 7″ righty during the White Sox Top 10 chat session. Some reports state that he has a big fastball and should be groomed in the bullpen.
3. RHP Thad Lowry – 17 / .145    “Take a Flyer”
  • 21 years old – (HiA Winston-Salem / Double-A Birmingham)
  • 5th round – 2013
  • Lowry didn’t a move an inch from last season to 2016. Well, OK, he received a late season promotion. But he remained ranked 3rd as a White Sox UTR-OAS and just saw one tick chopped from his 2015 TPS (.146 score). Another big righty at 6’4″, Lowry shows promise with a low-90’s fastball with sink, a nice change-up and improving curveball. Though the Double-A numbers were a small sample, they were something to build toward 2017, as Lowry will sit at 22 years-old for the whole season.
4. RHP Jordan Stephens – 17 / .079   “Solid Stash”
  • 23 years old – (HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 5th round – 2014
  • Stephens had TJ surgery during his time at Rice University and the White Sox handled him slowly in 2015. He only saw 17.2 innings of work over 11 appearances, with one start. He came on strong in 2016 by skipping over LoA Annapolis and throwing 141 Double-A innings, putting up seasoned numbers. He had 155 strikeouts over that workload and had the top K/9 rate (9.89) amongst all qualified HiA pitchers. This also translated into the second-best K/BB differential at 18.8%. Watch for his command to develop further, which means he won’t be too far away from Chicago.
5. RHP Luis Martinez – 15 / .085
  • 21 years old – (LoA Kannapolis)
  • International Free Agent- 2013
  • After Martinez was named a UTR-OAS in 2014, he fell off the radar scope the following year. He repeated at Kannapolis in 2016 and got back on track…and here he is again. Keep a close eye on yet another huge right-hander (6’6″ – 190 lbs) for the Sox.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Factors Score/TPS
 
1. RHP Taylore Cherry – 8 / .093
  • 21 years old – (LoA Kannapolis / HiA Winston-Salem)
  • 32nd round – 2015
  • Cherry was considered a project coming from the UNC Tarheels. Inconsistency was the mark on his scouting report, but he’s blazed through four levels since his pro debut with no issues. He throws a mid-90’s fastball with a ton of sink and comes after hitters with a side-arm delivery. He did wane toward the end of the season, but he should be continued to be watched if your deep league values relief pitchers.
2. RHP Matt Foster – 6 / .059
  • 21 years old – (AZL White Sox / Pioneer Great Falls)
  • 20th round – 2016
  • If you’d like to track Cherry in the upper levels of the White Sox, try to keep a close eye on Foster. Drafted out of the University of Alabama, Foster had an outstanding pro debut, and led the White Sox minor league system in saves (11). Prior to transferring to the SEC, Foster was absolutely dominate as a starter at Gulf Coast Community College. In 16 starts, the right-hander posted an 11-4 record with a 2.03 ERA and struck out 111 over 105.2 with only 26 walks. His success continued when the Crimson Tide moved him into the bullpen full-time.
3. RHP Matt Cooper14 / .062
  • 24 years old – (HiA Winston-Salem / Double-A Southern)
  • 16th round – 2014
  • Cooper’s Factor Score above indicates that of a starting pitcher, and just missed being ranked #5. But Cooper made more relief appearances than starts and he gets mentioned as a relief pitcher only because my limited spreadsheet entries. Plus, the White Sox system was weak from the bullpen. Cooper was mentioned last season, but this year holds more clout, as he could have easily made both lists, which is a UTR-OAS rarity.
Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Pitchers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Minnesota Twins Organizational All-Stars – Hitters

  • C – A.J. Murray – 23 yo
    • 2.62/.631 combined  – PAG/APPA  (LoA Cedar Rapids – 3.03/.681;  HiA Fort Myers – 2.18/.569) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .238/.319/.380;  .619 OPS;  25 doubles, 10 home runs;  

Looking through the system, I’m proud to say that former 2014 Organizational All-Star Mitch Garver is a step away from reaching the majors. He didn’t light the scoreboard on fire, but he posted a two-level PAG/APPA of 3.06/.729 for Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester this season. In addition to Garver, it’s interesting how consistent the production was at the catching position. The only exception was 2016 – 2nd rounder Ben Rortvedt. The 5’10” – 190 pounder out of Verona HS (WI) debuted in the Gulf Coast League, then saw a late-July promotion to Rookie League Elizabethton, posting a combined 1.52/.442, which was far below the 2.62/.656 P/A average between all other catchers. Comparing the law of averages next to overall production, I had to take into consideration that 2015 – 14th rounder A.J. Murray came close to matching Garver’s production. The 6’2″ – 215 lb. draftee out of Georgia Tech had a 51-game pro debut for Rookie Elizabethton. He batted .264 with 11 doubles and four home runs. This season he stayed consistent over two levels and ranked among the system leaders in extra bases.  

  • 1B – Zander Wiel – 23 yo
    • 3.54/.798 – PAG/APPA  (LoA Cedar Rapids) 
    • 2016 stats:  .259/.333/.459;  .792 OPS;  27 doubles, 19 home runs

It’s one thing for a hype-deserving prospect Jim and I discuss to be buried underneath several top prospects once they become a pro. But for a kid to have suffered that same fate as an amateur? No worry. It’s old hat for 2015 draft pick Zander Wiel. The 6’3″ – 230 lb. righty came to the Twins organization from a 2015 Vanderbilt team that boasted three #1 draft picks in shortstop Dansby Swanson (ARI), starting pitchers Carson Fulmer (CWS) and Walker Buehler (LAD). In his final season with the Commodores, Wiel led the team in RBi’s (68) and tied for the team lead in homers (15). After the draft, Wiel never got a chance to gain traction. He started his pro career for Rookie Elizabethton; and after only two games, Wiel suffered a broken left hand on an errant pitch versus the Burlington Royals (KC), missing an entire month of action. In only 13 games that season, Wiel posted a PAG/APPA of 2.46/.711. This year, he was rewarded with a promotion to LoA Cedar Rapids; and a chance to show off the power and athleticism the Twins were hoping to see in his rookie year. He didn’t disappoint. Wiel not only led the Cedar Rapids in several offensive categories, he led the entire organization (Triple-A, down) in RBi’s (86), total bases (230) and tied for the system lead in triples (8) with Double-A Chattanooga’s Zach Granite and extra-base hits (54) with Triple-A Rochester’s Adam Walker.  I see a well-deserved promotion to HiA Fort Myers for Wiel in 2017; and if you’re in a dynasty league that allows you to house a deep amount of minors, take a no-risk, high reward flier on Wiel. 

  • 2B – Luis Arraez – 19 yo
    • 3.32/.735  – PAG/APPA  (LoA Cedar Rapids) 
    • 2016 stats:  .347/.386/.444;  .830 OPS;  165 hits, 31 doubles  

The second base landscape for the Twins in 2016 provided one of those situations where a prospect’s bat, despite his primary position, is too good not to have in a lineup.  2015 – 3rd rounder Travis Blankenhorn was drafted out of Pottsville HS (Pottsville, PA) and the Twins immediately tabbed him as a third baseman. In the following round, the Twins took Grainger HS (Rutledge, TN) prep star Trey Cabbage, also a third baseman. Both prospects, known for their bat-first profile, found themselves sharing a dugout this season for Rookie Elizabethton. In order to maximize their offensive potential, Blankenhorn was shifted to second base, while Cabbage manned the hot corner. It worked as Blankenhorn batted .297 with 9 home runs and 29 RBi’s in 34 games. Cabbage struggled a bit, but still flashed the tools that has the organization excited moving forward. So, the race came down to Blankenhorn and my final choice, 2013 international free-agent signee Luis Arraez. The 5’10” – 155 lb. lefty is not only a natural second baseman, but an absolute hitting machine. He’s a career .337 hitter and Arraez actually tied fellow second baseman (and major leaguer) Brian Dozier for the most hits in the entire organization (165) this season. Arraez debuted for Minnesota in 2014 posting a 3.55/.815, which earned him a 2014 Organizational All-Star nod. He saw a bit of a production dip in 2015 for the GCL Twins (2.63/.644), but this season, the Venezuela native tied for 2nd (with Cleveland catcher Francisco Mejia) in the Midwest League in batting and Arraez’s 211 total bases ranked fifth. 

  • 3B – Victor Tademo – 16 yo
    • 3.53/.896  – PAG/APPA  (Dominican Summer League) 
    • 2016 stats:  .311/.388/.429;  .817 OPS;  16 doubles, 21 stolen bases  

In Luis Arraez‘ bio above, I mentioned 2015 draftees Trey Cabbage and Travis Blankenhorn as a few of the Twins top third base prospects. Jim and I thrive when a system has one, not to mention more, prospects that draw all the attention away from kids like 6’1″ – 170 lb. Venezuelan third baseman Victor Tademo. In his professional debut with the Dominican Summer League Twins, Tademo had as good a start as you could ask for. He led the DSL squad in runs scored (42), doubles, stolen bases, and ranked second in hits (55), batting, on-base percentage, Slugging and OPS.  Not bad for a 16-year-old kid. I know it’s extremely early to anoint Tademo a certified prospect. Even Jim and I know that’s a hefty weight to place upon a kid’s shoulders coming off his first season as a pro regardless of age. But, boy, it does give you something to be excited about when you see this kind of production from a prospect so young. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Twins assign him to the DSL for another season. If I were in control of the organization, I’d press the gas a little and hope for equal success at a higher level. I’d love to see Tademo begin 2017 in the Gulf Coast League. And if does, and he parallels his 2016 production, the Twins suddenly have a savory sweet prospect log jam at third base. 

  • SS – Nick Gordon – 20 yo
    • 2.83/.664  – PAG/APPA  (HiA Fort Myers) 
    • 2016 stats:  .291/.335/.386;  .721 OPS;   23 doubles, 19 stolen bases  

Not really sure I need to say much other than when you have the natural talent and the bloodlines like Nick Gordon, you have all the makings of a major league star. Gordon is on the fast track to Minnesota and could possibly see Target Field as early as late 2017, but most likely, 2018. A few other shortstop prospects that finished high on the list were international star signee Wander Javier. In fact, he’s the shortstop I’m most excited to see develop. Javier has an extremely high ceiling with huge raw power; and scouts say he possesses the defense to stay at the position. Another prospect I considered was 2015 – 10th rounder Sean Miller. The University of South Carolina draftee posted a two-level PAG/APPA of 2.55/6.10 (LoA Cedar Rapids/HiA Fort Myers). The thing that could boost Miller’s organizational stock is his ability to play all over the infield logging time at second, third and short. Despite listing Javier and Miller, Gordon is the future here. 

  • LFJaylin Davis – 21 yo
    • 3.75/.889 combined – PAG/APPA  (Rookie Elizabethton – 5.42/1.250;  LoA Cedar Rapids – 3.37/.803) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .255/.341/.523;  .864 OPS;  16 home runs, 14 doubles.   

There’s definitely no shortage of outfield prospects within the Twins system. Alex Kiriloff, a 2016 – Plum HS (Pittsburgh) draftee leads the way, with former Diamondback prospect Daniel Palka and 2015 – 9th rounder (Maryland) LaMonte Wade also sitting inside several current Twins top prospect lists. Well, I believe another is on his way to the outfield prospect party. Minnesota drafted 6’1″ – 190 lb. Jaylin Davis out of Appalachian State University even though Davis missed his entire junior season with a non-throwing shoulder injury. The Twins were confident and assigned him to Rookie Elizabethton; and in 12 games with the APPY League Twins, the 24th rounder registered an astounding 5.42/1.250 PAG/APPA. This prompted the organization to promote the righty to LoA Cedar Rapids. In only 52 games with the Kernels, Davis still led the team in slugging percentage (.469), ranked third in home runs (9) and OPS (.808). Davis’s combined 14 home runs ranked behind only fellow UTR OAS Zander Wiel (19), outfielder Daniel Palka (21) and Adam Walker (27) for most in the system from Triple-A down. It would surprise me to see Davis missing from Minnesota top prospect lists this spring. But on the flip side, we here at UTRMinors will be more than glad to be one of the few driving the Davis bandwagon. 

  • CF – LaMonte Wade – 22 yo
    • 3.40/.771 combined – PAG/APPA  (LoA Cedar Rapids – 3.39/.728;  HiA Fort Myers – 3.41/.858) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .293/.402/.438;  .841 OPS;  8 home runs, 14 doubles;  54:44 BB:K ratio   

In Jaylin Davis‘s OAS bio above I mentioned that 6’1″ – 190 lb. LaMonte Wade as one of the top outfielders in the Twins system; and in my centerfield breakdown, he came out on top. But the race was closer than I thought it’d be. Now, let me get it straight though. Wade is one of those sleeper, semi-stud prospects. He doesn’t have any true standout tool. He just gets the job done every time he takes the field. This season he logged a near 60/40 split between LoA Cedar Rapids and HiA Fort Myers and posted a higher PAG/APPA after his mid-June promotion to the Miracle roster. One thing that clearly stands out in Wade’s arsenal is his ability to get on base. He led all Twins minor (and major) league regulars in On-base percentage this season (.402); and in 156 career minor league games, he carries a career OB% of .409. It helps when you’ve drawn 21 more walks than you’ve struck out (101:80) too. The only knock on Wade is that I’d like to see him steal more bases. A few other centerfielders that were on my OAS radar are Tanner English, however he spent time in Triple-A with the Red Wings. Another kid who made a good impression was the DSL’s Humberto Maldonado. The 6’3″ – 200 lb. 18 year old posted a hopeful 3.06/.762 PAG/APPA in his debut and could possibly see his way to this coming spring’s “Ones to Watch” list.

  • RF – Alex Kirilloff – 18 yo
    • 3.18/.754 – PAG/APPA  (Rookie Elizabethton) 
    • 2016 stats:  .306/.341/.454;  .794 OPS;   7 home runs, 9 doubles   

Fairness is theoretically the primary factor in creating our lists. And as proud as I am that a youngster drafted from Plum HS in Pittsburgh, a school merely two hours west from where my partner Jim and I grew up, there really wasn’t a right fielder in the Twins system who registered nearly as prominent a season as 2016 – 1st rounder Alex Kirilloff. When comparing all right fielders within the system, the 6’2″ – 195 lb. lefty posted the highest batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS in the system, let alone the highest PAG/APPA. Kirilloff is a supreme athlete who possesses a compact swing that produces substantial power and has a plus-arm strength. It’s easy to root for a semi-local kid; and the Twins, as well as fantasy leaguers, will soon realize he may be ready for the big time sooner than we think. If you’re in a dynasty league that hasn’t held their minor league draft yet, place Kirilloff high on your list. He’ll be worth both the high pick and the wait. 

Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Hitters | Leave a comment

2016 Kansas City Royals Organizational All-Stars – Hitters

  • C – Meibrys Viloria – 19 yo
    • 4.60/1.031  – PAG/APPA  (Rookie Idaho Falls) 
    • 2016 stats:  .376/.436/.606;  1.042 OPS;  28 doubles, 6 home runs;  .969 Fld%, 34% CS% 

What a great catching problem to have. You’ve got All-Star Salvador Perez as the face of the organization, former 1st rounder Chase Vallot and this years UTR OAS catcher Meibrys Viloria in the fold. Most prognosticators would place Vallot, a 2014 draftee out of St. Thomas More HS (Lafayette, LA) at the top of the minor league catching ranks. He’s a 19-year-old producing in LoA where over half of this year’s hits went for extra-bases (.507). However, the 6’0″ – 215 lb. Vallot’s season took a big back seat to fellow 19-year-old Meibrys Viloria. The native of Columbia debuted in 2014 logging time in two levels. While with the DSL, he posted a 3.06/.783, then moved on to the Appalachian League where he posted a 2.46/.627 in 13 games for Rookie Burlington. He stayed with the (Burlington) Royals in 2015 and batted .260, scored 20 runs, drove 16, but logged not a single extra-base hit. This season, however, Viloria exploded. He spent all year with Pioneer League Idaho Falls and proceeded to lead the league in batting, doubles and RBi’s (55), which was plenty enough to garner him the Pioneer League Most Valuable Player. As much as Viloria’s season excited me, it’s his follow-up that has me intrigued. I expect Viloria to begin 2017 with LoA Lexington. The drastic difference between his 2014-15 and this season isn’t a red flag, but a glimpse at what he’s capable of. 

  • 1BSamir Duenez  – 20 yo
    • 3.35/.798 combined  – PAG/APPA  (LoA Lexington – 3.22/.768;  HiA Wilmington – 3.63/.864; AA Northwest Arkansas – 2.86/.678) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .284/.336/.438;  .774 OPS;  33 doubles, 13 home runs;  26 stolen bases.

In our inaugural Organization All-Star series back in 2014, then-21-year-old Ryan O’Hearn was deemed the first ever Kansas City Royals OAS first baseman. A well-earned distinction after posting a prodigious 4.75/1.038 PAG/APPA for Rookie League Idaho Falls that season. The 2013- 8th rounder out of Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, TX) has made a steady climb through the prospect ranks, and after the 2016 season, O’Hearn is now firmly supplanted inside the Royals top 10. However, on his heels is another young kid that I actually mentioned in O’Hearn’s 2014 UTR OAS profile, 20-year old Venezuelan Samir Duenez. The 6’1″ – 195 lb. lefty debuted in 2013 and recorded a 47-game PAG/APPA of 2.85/.673 in Rookie Arizona League. The following season he struggled after receiving aggressive promotions to Pioneer League Idaho Falls and then LoA Lexington. Despite the dip in production (2.33/.624), he received kudos for holding his own as an 18-year-old playing against competition nearly 4 years his senior. Duenez stayed in LoA Lexington in 2015 and produced nearly the same level of production as he did the previous year (2.37/.604). Scouts said he possesses good bat speed, great contact skills and his power will eventually come with experience. Well, he seemed to figure it out this season posting career highs in slugging, OPS, stolen bases and extra base percentage. Duenez ended the season with 14 games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas; and I expect him to spend all of 2017 there. Another solid season could help cement his status as the next top first base prospect in the system. 

  • 2B – Gabriel Cancel  – 19 yo
    • (3.37/.820) PAG/APPA   (Rookie Burlington)  
    • 2016 stats:  .291/.346/.494;  .840 OPS;  18 doubles, 5 home runs. 

The situation I ran into here is the reason Jim and I developed the pre-season Breakouts/Ones to Watch feature. I really had a hard time deciding who to pick here. Do I go with Esteury Ruiz, a 17-year-old who logged a stellar debut season in the DSL? Or do I look to 19-year-old Gabriel Cancel, who excelled in his sophomore season for Rookie Burlington? Even though Jim and I created metrics that help sift out top performers, we still rely on conventional stats/wisdom to help make our picks. Well, I don’t normally do this, but I’m giving readers a bonus. I’m choosing Cancel as my UTR OAS; and you’ll see the 6’0″ – 150 lb. Ruiz on the pre-season Royals 2017 UTR “Ones to Watch” list.  Cancel, a 2015 – 7th rounder from Padre Anibal Reyes Belen HS (Hatillo, PR) debuted in the Arizona League last season. He registered a 34-game PAG/APPA of 2.74/.620 while committing 13 total errors in a 60/40 split between shortstop and second base. When Cancel was drafted, several scouts said he’s “more tools than production” and questioned whether his hit tool would play. Well, I think it played this year, and quite well actually. The 6’1″ – 185 lb. Cancel led all Royals regular second baseman (HiA down through the DSL) in doubles (18) home runs (5), extra-base percentage (.480). He also improved his BB:K rate. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Cancel receive an aggressive assignment to LoA Lexington next season. 

  • 3B – Manny Olloque  – 20 yo
    • (4.12/.895) PAG/APPA   (Rookie Idaho Falls)  
    • 2016 stats:  .330/.378/.489;  .867 OPS;  18 doubles, 8 home runs. 

Let’s face it, Hunter Dozier is the future at third base for the Kansas City Royals. However, you all know how we work it here. I love Dozier just as much as the next guy, but the job at hand is to raise that prospect floor; and that’s exactly what the 6’2″ – 170 lb. Manny Olloque did this season. The 2014 – 16th rounder out of Torrence HS (CA) made his pro debut for the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League and posted a 25-game PAG/APPA of 2.56/.790. Some might categorize his 2015 a lost season. He saw only 18 games of action due to a thumb injury and logged a 1.44/.394. But this year, the 6’2″ – 165 lb. Dominican shot out of a cannon collecting hits in 15 of his first 20 games of the year. He finished the season in the Pioneer League top five in hits (91), doubles, runs scored (54), ranked second in RBI’s (53)  – behind the aforementioned Meibrys Viloria –  and total bases with 137. As great as Olloque’s bat was this season, the opposite was true as a defender. Twenty-five errors won’t cut it at the lower levels and Olloque will have to do much more with his bat if his defense doesn’t improve.  

  • SS – Nicky Lopez  – 21 yo
    • (3.89/.852) PAG/APPA   (Rookie Burlington)  
    • 2016 stats:  .281/.393/.429;  .821 OPS;  35:30 BB:K ratio

Nicky Lopez is the kind of UTR OAS prospect that doesn’t necessarily make me shake my head, but certainly forces me to think of that “what if” scenario. Each off-season when I list all my positional prospects, lump them together by position, I do a tale-of-the-tape if you will. But of course, on top of my stat list is PAG/APPA. And despite the fact that 2013 free-agent signee Marten Gasparini (Italy), Dominican-born Jeison Guzman and Ricky Aracena in the top prospect fold, it was Lopez, a 2016 – 5th rounder out of Creighton University (Omaha, NE) who led the PAG/APPA way. So, here’s the rub. Nicky Lopez is a 21-year-old playing in the Appalachian League. Does that matter to me? Hell no. Pound-for-pound the 5’11” – 175 lb. lefty outproduced those I mentioned above this season. He led the APPY League in runs scored (54), triples (5) and ranked second in stolen bases (24) and walks. I can’t sit here though and say I couldn’t give a shit about how old a player is in the minors. Jim and I usually gauge a player’s age working backwards, as 25 years old is our cutoff. Therefore, Lopez entering 2017 as a 22 year old possibly in LoA Lexington. Lopez is proof that you just can’t write off a kid because of his age. I’m really rooting for him. 

  • LF – Cal Jones  – 18 yo
    • (3.10/.695) PAG/APPA  (Rookie Arizona League)  
    • 2016 stats:  .232/.306/.348;  .655 OPS;  4 home runs, 7 stolen bases

I’m not going to lie. When scanning through all the positions in each organization, we sometimes hit a patch of pure UTR gold, but other times, we dig and dig, but come up short. Thus is the case with those playing left for the Royals; minus one. Let’s take a took. University of Richmond draftee Tanner Stanley‘s numbers were very good this season in Rookie Idaho Falls (4.14/.861), but the 2015 – 36th rounder totally fell off the rails (1.64/.478) when he hit LoA Lexington. Twenty-four year old Luke Willis, a 2015 – 30th rounder out of George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) posted great numbers this season, but he’s a year away from UTR disqualification. So, for me it comes down to 2015 draftee Roman Collins and 2016 – 6th rounder Cal Jones. The Florida Atlantic alum, Collins logged time at two levels this season, registering a 2.76/.648 PAG/APPA for LoA Lexington and HiA Wilmington. But this is a time where I, too, can use age as a factor in my decision, which leads me to 6’0″ – 175 lb. Cal Jones, who posted similar, but higher PAG/APPA totals than 21-year-old Collins. A verbal commit to the University of Alabama, Cal Jones was drafted out of Dadeville HS (Camp Hill, AL) for his supreme athleticism and blazing speed. During private workouts for the Royals at Kaufmann Stadium, Jones clocked in 6.3-6.4/60 times and clubbed a couple of homers. Jones is a tremendous athlete, as he played wide receiver and quarterback for Dadeville, receiving several offers from small small colleges, but chose the baseball route. I suspect Kansas City will promote Jones to either Rookie Burlington or Idaho Falls to start 2017. 

  • CF – Khalil Lee – 18 yo
    • (4.10/.905) PAG/APPA  (Rookie Arizona League)  
    • 2016 stats:  .269/.396/.484;  .880 OPS;  9 doubles, 6 triples

In going through the Royals UTR OAS left field list, it was initially difficult finding that one standout. I can’t say the same for centerfield. Anytime a prospect concludes a season with a PAG score of 4.00 or above, he’s a no-brainer to make the list. Such is the case for uber-athlete Khalil Lee.  The 5’10” – 180 lb. lefty came to the organization the reigning Virginia (state) Baseball Player of the Year as a two-way player. Lee had a commitment to Liberty University prior to signing with Kansas City. The interesting thing about Lee is depending on what organization drafted/signed him, there’s a good possibility you might have seen him on my partner Jim’s UTR OAS Top Starters list. Not only did Lee log a .471/.634/.941/.1.575 slash line at the plate in his senior season for Flint Hill HS (Oakton, VA), he also was the the Huskies top pitcher going 7-0, a 0.33 ERA with 87 punch-outs to only 3 walks in 42 innings. With stats like this, what did the Royals have to lose? Kansas City immediately shifted Lee full-time to the outfield; and all he did was lead the Rookie Arizona League in runs scored (43), triples, total bases (88) and ranked in the AZL top 10 in home runs, RBi’s (29) and walks (33). I’m not sure if Lee will stick in center, and it’s hard to say where he may begin 2017 (either Rookie Burlington or Idaho Falls). But boy-of-boy, regardless of where he plays on the field and at what level, he could be one of the more exciting Royals prospects to watch moving forward.

  • RF – Yeison Melo – 20 yo
    • (3.76/.835) PAG/APPA  (Rookie Idaho Falls)  
    • 2016 stats:  .324/.355/.477;  .832 OPS;  91 hits, 20 doubles, 5 home runs.

There’s a rather lengthy hierarchy in right field inside the Royals system. Top hitting prospects Hunter Dozier, Jorge Bonifacio, Ryan O’Hearn, Anderson Miller (and even Khalil Lee above) have been linked to playing right field in the future. And in pure UTR form this makes it easy to openly discuss 6’1″ – 180 lb. Yeison Melo. Signed in early November of 2013, the Royals assigned the young Dominican to the Dominican Summer League. Melo spent his first two seasons as a pro there and recorded a combined 2.98/.715 PAG/APPA. Now, I’ll plead ignorance, but with a freshman season of 2.86/.709, I’m surprised Melo didn’t receive a promotion to the AZL in 2015. I’ve seen lesser production  bumped to higher levels, but I digress. It is what it is. This season, Melo spent all year with Rookie Idaho Falls. Along with his 134 total bases, he proceeded to rank within the Pioneer League top five in hits, doubles and RBi’s (53). I have a gut feeling the organization may test Melo with a 2017 assignment to LoA Lexington. I believe if he maintains or exceeds his career 2.98/.763, he may find himself on the way to a few mainstream top prospect lists. 

 

 

Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Hitters | Leave a comment

2016 Detroit Tigers Organizational All-Stars – Hitters

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  • C – Arvicent Perez – 22 yo
    • 2.32/.593  – PAG/APPA  (LoA West Michigan) 
    • 2016 stats:  .303/.320/.391;  .712 OPS;  16 doubles, .987 Fld%, 43% CS% 

From a pure baseball standpoint, I have to say how good it was to see Tigers catcher James McCann become the staple behind the plate the organization was hoping for. Despite his career batting average of .244 in 228 major league games, he has some pop and provides the much-needed defense for the position (.995 Fld% and a 45% CS rate). This leaves room for several kids in the system to grow. Top catching prospect Grayson Greiner made a huge leap forward in the organization touching three levels in 2016. He posted a 91 game PAG/APPA of 2.58/.668 from HiA all the way to Triple-A Toledo. Since you already know that once a prospect hits Double-A and beyond, we no longer tab them as UTRs, which gleefully leads me to Arvicent Perez. The 5’10” – 180 lb. righty debuted in the Venezuelan Summer League and in two combined seasons (2012-2013) logged a 2.15/.657 combined PAG/APPA. Not anything to wow you. The following year Perez reached two levels and in 41 games saw an overall increase in his production with a 2.76/.819 PAG/APPA in the Gulf Coast League and (an aggressive move to) LoA West Michigan. To this day questions remain over a 2015 in which the organization wants to forget. Perez bottomed out scoring a 38 game P/A of 1.50/.393.  Although he struggled in 2015, this season, Perez saw his batting average back and he brought power too. All this while steadily improving his already high-caliber defense. Perez has the skill-set to bypass Greiner, and could quite possibly unseat McCann in the future. 

  • 1BJose Quero – 17 yo
    • 3.27/.804  – PAG/APPA  (DSL Tigers) 
    • 2016 stats:  .335/.459/.425;  .884 OPS;  6 doubles, 2 home runs;  .985 Fld%

It’s stat lines like those within the Tigers minor league first base vector that re-enforce my decision to create the PAG/APPA metric. Now, the list of future first base candidates within the organization admittedly isn’t the best grouping I’ve seen, but there are some fundamental bright spots. Namely Will Maddox. The 2014 – 18th rounder out of the University of Tennessee logged his first season of pro ball and led the Midwest League in hits with 173, while his 28 stolen bases ranked fifth. Maddox can’t be ignored, but at 24 years of age, he’s eight months away from being removed from UTR consideration. As is the (same) case for HiA Lakeland’s Ben Verlander (24 yo.); and has been the case for teammate, 27-year-old Wade Hinkle, who was one of the Florida State League leaders in extra base hits this season. So, this leads me to trusting the peripherals. This points me to 2015 – free agent signee out of Venezuela, Jose Quero.  Now his peripherals don’t scream future first baseman, but there’s definitely something to build upon when a 17-year-old kid led all organizational first baseman in batting, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. Interestingly, the 6’0″ – 190 lb. lefty drew 36 walks in 55 Dominican Summer League games. The aforementioned Maddox? Drew 32 free-passes in 127 games. Quero is a long way away, but definitely worth watching as the older first base guard within the system begins to thin itself out. 

  • 2B – Joey Pankake – 23 yo
    • 2.68/.649  – PAG/APPA  (HiA Lakeland) 
    • 2016 stats:  .215/.283/.370;  .653 OPS;  10 doubles, 15 home runs;  .985 Fld%

Pankake’s future in the organization could be that of a super utility player, as he’s played all over the diamond since his days at South Carolina University, where he began as a shortstop, then shifted to third base in his junior season. Upon being drafted in the 7th round in 2014, Pankake started his pro career splitting 2:1 time share between third base and shortstop. But in 2015 he made the full-time move to the keystone where he’s posted better defensive numbers on the right side of the infield versus the left. However, we all know the fantasy game isn’t based on the glove. The 6’2″ – 185 lb. righty’s offensive game has been as balanced as a marionette. In his 2014 debut, Pankake posted a 3.02/.723 PAG/APPA with Short Season Connecticut. In his sophomore season, he earned a promotion to LoA West Michigan, and despite hitting career highs in several offensive categories, his (pound-for-pound) production dipped to a 2.79/.670 PAG/APPA. This season is where the crookedness hit the stat line. Although his batting averaged dipped close to the Mendoza line, Pankake displayed his mid-range power with 15 home runs, which usually is evident when a kid slugs as many doubles as we’ve seen to date. Although he needs to polish his overall game, I think Pankake’s path is clear to Detroit. But a possible 2017 assignment to Double-A Erie will prove whether Pankake is for real or not.  

  • 3B – Jorge Ynirio – 18 yo
    • 2.54/.698  – PAG/APPA  (DSL Tigers) 
    • 2016 stats:  .267/.356/.397;  .753 OPS;  15 doubles, 2 stolen bases

One of the joys of the UTR model is seeing hitters/pitchers we promote here ascend through the minors and make some/several major publication prospect lists. Detroit third baseman Zach Shepherd is a good example. Coming of his 2014 debut season, I tabbed him a Tigers Organizational All-Star. This season he sits within the Tigers top 20 at MLBPipeline.com as well as Baseball America’s previous two Prospect Handbooks. This helps assure that Jim and I are on the right track. Now, if the 6’3″ – 185 lb. Shepherd carries this earned distinction, our job is to keep digging; and I didn’t have to dig far to find recently-turned 19-year-old Jorge Ynirio. The 5’11” – 170 lb. teen brings incredible athleticism to the organization. He debuted in 2015 posting a 27 game PAG/APPA of 2.07/.629 for the DSL squad. This season in a repeat of the level, he improved on all fronts highlighted by his .457 extra-base percentage. Scouts say he has a loaded bag of tools and his athleticism will help sort them out. The third base OAS race also gave heavy consideration to fellow Dominican Luis Laurencio, who brings big natural power and a canon arm to the field. Both Ynirio and Laurencio have plenty of work to do defensively, but the bats will be quite the intriguing follow. 

  • SSIsrrael De La Cruz – 19 yo
    • 2.75/.722  – PAG/APPA  (GCL Tigers) 
    • 2016 stats:  .247/.344/.337;  .681 OPS;  3 doubles, 6 triples;  22 stolen bases

Detroit offers up a nice bevy of shortstop prospects throughout the minors; and sorting through it wasn’t easy. Top shortstop prospect Dixon Machado made his major league debut in 2016, eight years after his pro debut in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2009. Next up is 2015 – 14th rounder A.J. Smicox, who some say his future defensive position depends on how well he can hit. Then we have three-time draftee Daniel Pinero. First, the huge 6’5″ – 210 lb. Canadian was drafted by Houston in 2013, but didn’t sign. He was then taken by the Tigers in 2015 out of the University of Virginia, but chose to stay in school. The Tigers called again in 9th round of this years draft and he was assigned to the GCL, then headed to the Connecticut of the New York-Penn League. He led all UTR-qualifying shortstops in batting with an overall seasonal .271 average.  Chad Sedio, a 2016 – 27th rounder out of Miami of Ohio (OH) posted a combined 2.84/.700 PAG/APPA over two levels (GCL/SS Connecticut). He also led all all shortstop prospects with a .400 extra-base percentage. However, despite falling ever-so-slightly behind in PAG/APPA, the OAS nod goes to toolsy Isrrael De La Cruz.  The 6’0″ – 150 lb. Dominican debuted in 2014 and ran a 47-game PAG/APPA line of 2.64/.721. He repeated the DSL in 2015 and logged strikingly consistent numbers in comparison with his debut. This season, in a promotion state-side to the Gulf Coast League, De La Cruz, again, maintained his consistency, and led all short-season prospects in stolen bases. I think De La Cruz needs challenged with an aggressive assignment (possibly to either Short Season Connecticut or LoA West Michigan) to see if he can sustain his consistency or better yet, improve his overall line.

  • LF – Christin Stewart – 22 yo
    • 3.77/.889 combined  – PAG/APPA  (HiA Lakeland – 3.80/.894;  Double-A Erie – 3.63/.870) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .255/.386/.517;  .903 OPS;  24 doubles, 30 home runs;  22 stolen bases

I’ve made it clear to readers of UTRMinors that I’m not a huge fan of rankings. Saying one player is better than this player is a huge matter of preference. Stats should play the biggest part, not simply draft stratus or player potential. But rankings do exist, therefore, I’m putting this out there.  2015 – 1st rounder out of Tennessee Christin Stewart should be the #1 prospect in the Tigers system. In a 3-level pro debut, the 6’0″ – 205 lb. lefty rolled out a combined PAG/APPA of 3.47/.815 that began with six games in the Gulf Coast League, 14 games with Short Season Connecticut then concluding with LoA West Michigan. The Tigers felt his performance at LoA was enough to challenge him with a 2016 Opening Day assignment to HiA Lakeland; and he didn’t disappoint posting a career high 3.80/.894 PAG/APPA in 104 games. Stewart received a much-deserved promotion to Double-A Erie in early August and never slowed down. In his final 24 games of the season he posted a 3.63/.870. His numbers continue to climb as he ascends through the minors; and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Stewart could reach Comerica Park in 2017. 

  • CF – Juan Ramirez – 17 yo
    • 3.63/.775  – PAG/APPA  (DSL Tigers) 
    • 2016 stats:  .297/.408/.396;  .804 OPS;  12 doubles, 5 triples;  7 stolen bases

I’ll continue the top-prospect narrative and say that sitting beside my opinion that Christin Stewart should be Detroit’s #1 prospect, is another top outfielder in Derek Hill. Do I think he’s as good as Stewart, no. No I don’t. However, Hill, a 2014 – 1st rounder out of Elk Grove HS (Elk Grove, CA) certainly belongs in the top organization prospect discussion. But Hill wasn’t my choice, mostly because we here have the luxury of mixing production with potential (in that order of course), and 5’9″ – 160 lb. Dominican Juan Ramirez achieved the production to earn him my OAS choice. I know he’s a 17-year-old coming off his debut season, but he posted the top PAG/APPA score among organizational center fielders including Hill. The lefty swinging Ramirez ranked third in the DSL in triples and his 39 walks (to only 21 Ks) ranked second only to Mets middle infielder Andres Gimenez‘ 46. The Tigers love Ramirez because of his budding power, powerful lower half and strong arm in the outfield. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ramirez either begin 2017 back in the DSL or with the Gulf Coast League squad. Either way, he has the potential to be an exciting player. 

  • RF – Mike Gerber – 24 yo
    • 3.36/.789 combined  – PAG/APPA  (HiA Lakeland – 3.46/.812;  Double-A Erie – 3.15/.757) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .276/.345/.466;  .811 OPS;  30 doubles, 18 home runs;  8 stolen bases

 

It will be interesting to see what the Tigers organization does with the major league portion of their outfield. Left fielder Justin Upton is on the books until 2021, however, centerfielder Cameron Maybin and (former UTR) J.D. Martinez are in the final year of their contracts. So, what direction do the Tigers go? I’ve discussed top outfielders Christin Stewart and Derek Hill, but next in line is Mike Gerber. The 2014 – 15th rounder out of Creighton University (Omaha, NE) was a UTR 2014 Organizational All-Star after his 2-level pro debut for Short Season Connecticut and LoA West Michigan. The 6’0″ – 190 lb. lefty spent all of 2015 with the White Caps, logged a 3.37/.780 PAG/APPA and led the Midwest League in total bases (240), while ranking within the league’s top 5 in hits (150), doubles (31), home runs (13) and RBi’s (76). This season, the Illinois-native picked up where he left off beginning the season for HiA Lakeland, and finishing with the Double-A Sea Wolves. With the collection of skills Stewart and Hill have, I believe Gerber could be equally as valuable. Despite playing more games in right field, Gerber is a plus-defender in all outfield positions, which could make the organizations decisions about the current major league portion a little easier to make. 

Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Hitters | Leave a comment

2016 Cleveland Indians Organizational All-Stars – Hitters

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  • C – Francisco Mejia – 20 yo
    • 3.75/.862 combined  – PAG/APPA  (LoA Lake County – 3.92/.907;  HiA Lynchburg – 3.50/.799)  
    • 2016 stats combined:  .342/.382/.514;  .896 OPS;  29 doubles, 11 home runs;  .988 Fld%, 43% CS

I ran into this “problem” a few times when penning the A.L. East OAS. Sometimes Jim and I run into a position where there’s just too much space between the top prospect and the UTR kids we attempt to justify. It’s difficult to choose a kid or kids who have a ton of ground to make before they even show up on the UTR radar. Thus is the case with catching corp of the Cleveland Indians. Next to Tampa Bay’s Brett Sullivan, the 21-year-old Dominican Mejia had as good a season as any catching prospect I’ve covered since the inception of this website. How can you deny a catcher who had a hit in 50 consecutive minor league games? One of the top prospects in the defending American League champions stable, Mejia has all the skills to become an everyday major league catcher. 

  • 1BBobby Bradley – 20 yo
    • 3.73/.853  –  PAG/APPA  (HiA Lynchburg)
    • 2016 stats:  .235/.344/.466;  .810 OPS;  23 doubles, 29 home runs;  .988 Fld%

After lengthy consideration, I decided to include another top prospect on this years Indians OAS. I took a pensive approach with the addition of the 6’1″ – 225 lb. lefty slugger Bradley due to several factors. The first was because of his insane level of production in 2016. Bradley’s 29 homers ranked 2nd in the organization behind AAA’s Jesus Aguilar‘s 30, but his 102 RBi’s led the entire organization. The other reason was to prove that you simply must never overlook a kid’s production no matter the level, no matter the age, no matter the draft status. Bradley burst onto the professional scene in 2014 and in 39 games posted a gargantuan PAG/APPA of 5.36/1.188. And we here awarded Bradley with a 2014 UTR OAS honor. But shockingly, the 3rd rounder was absent from most major top prospect publications heading into the 2015 season. Why???? Bradley responded in 2015 with a two-level (LoA Lake County/HiA Lynchburg) PAG/APPA score of 3.87/.899. I guess this was enough for the majority of analysts to be convinced that Bradley finally belonged with the Indians elite prospects. Along comes 2016, and it was business as usual for Bradley. He ranked within the Carolina League top 5 in runs scored (82), led the league in home runs, RBi’s and walks with 75.  Now, if you’re feeling a bit of a jaded tone within my Bradley write-up, you’re very perceptive. I touted Bradley back in 2014 simply based on one thing: his production. We here don’t require wait-and-see, because numbers push who makes our lists, not projection. So, for those who were willing to add Bradley to their minor league rosters directly after reading our work here at UTRMinors, bravo to you. You grabbed (at the time) a no-risk future high-reward impact bat long before those who waited until major publications added Bradley to their prospect lists. My sincere condolences to all those fantasy owners who are missing out on what really drives a kid to the majors. Production. 

  • 2B – Samad Taylor – 17 yo
    • 3.19/.756  –  PAG/APPA  (AZL Indians)
    • 2016 stats:  .293/.359/.397;  .755 OPS;  .961 Fld%

One thing the Indians aren’t short on is infield prospects. In fact, nearly half of MLBPipeline’s current Indian’s prospect list contains an infielder. Two of those kids are sitting side-by-side: 2015 – 4th rounder out of Clemson, Tyler Krieger and Mark Mathias, a 2015 – 3rd rounder from California Polytechnic State University (or Cal Poly for short). Both Krieger and Mathias provided all the Indians could ask for in potential first-level second baseman. Both hit for average, showed incredible pop, (Mathias clubbed 39 doubles in HiA) and Krieger logged 30 extra base hits and 21 stolen bases across two levels (LoA Lake County and HiA Lynchburg). Therefore, in routine UTR fashion, we’re here to promote the floor. Samad Taylor helps me do that. Although 20-year-old Wilbis Santiago posted slightly higher peripherals, he posted lower PAG/APPA numbers than Taylor coming off a repeat of the Dominican Summer League. Taylor, a high school shortstop, bypassed a commitment to the University of Arizona and started his pro career in the Arizona League. The 2016 – 10th rounder out of Corona Senior HS (CA) came to the system with reports of having “quick feet, good hands and surprising pop for a kid 5’10” – 160 pounder.” He didn’t light the AZL leaderboard on fire, but for a 17-year-old beginning his career state side, there’s a lot to like here. Cleveland could challenge Taylor to bring his plus-speed and good contact skills to Short Season Mahoning Valley in 2017.

  • 3B – Henry Pujols – 17 yo
    • 2.50/.614  –  PAG/APPA  (DSL Indians)  
    • 2016 stats:  .168/.295/.337;  .632 OPS;  .893 Fld%

It’s common to hear among fantasy participants in leagues where minors play an important part say that certain prospects are, “too far away.”  For one, this is the reason Jim and I created UTRMinors. To create a landscape where, even though the wait may be long, even the youngest of kids are within reach. This is the case with 17-year-old Dominican Henry Pujols and the Cleveland Indians third base situation. It’s common knowledge that we stick to our “HiA and below” criteria for the most part, but we have to look at the majors, Triple-A and Double-A to see how clogged or clear a path is for a prospect.  Pujols has a long, long way to go, and although he posted a horrid .168 batting average, when he did hit the ball, he hit it hard and far. Nearly 60 percent of his hits went for extra-bases. I’ll agree that 2016 – 2nd rounder Nolan Jones is for real. The Holy Ghost Prep (Philadelphia, PA) star had a mediocre debut, but pound-for-pound, I put my UTR money on Pujols. It’s a long shot, but the 6’3″ – 195 lb. teenager has the size and the obvious power to make the third base race interesting.  

  • SS – Yu-Cheng Chang – 20 yo
    • 3.64/.832  –  PAG/APPA  (HiA Lynchburg)  
    • 2016 stats:  .259/.332/.463;  .795 OPS;   30 doubles, 13 home runs;  11 stolen bases

Back in 2014 when I chose the aforementioned Bobby Bradley as an Organizational All Star, he joined teammate Yu-Cheng Chang as the only two Arizona League players to make my list that year. What had me perplexed however is that Chang ranked 13th in Baseball America’s 2015 Prospect Handbook, but Bradley wasn’t?? It is what it is and both 20-year-olds find themselves firmly planted within the current Cleveland Indians top 10 prospects list. Chang improved on all offensive fronts in his second season of full-season ball; and a portion of me simply put him on this list because of affirmation that PAG/APPA works. But, let’s face it though. As long as Cleveland superstar Francisco Lindor is manning the shortstop position, everyone else behind him is a distant second and will be for a long, long time. Luckily for the Indians, Chang possesses the skills to make a successful shift to third base, which we could see in 2017 if Chang takes the next step in Double-A Akron.

  • LF – Oscar Gonzalez – 18 yo
    • 3.68/.950 combined  –  PAG/APPA  (Arizona League – 3.75/.968;  SS Mahoning Valley – 1.00/.250)  
    • 2016 stats combined:  .297/.340/.554;  .894 OPS;   10 doubles, 8 home runs

With every choice Jim and I make for our OAS lists, we truly trust our own metrics. They are the first set of criteria we use despite comparative numbers sometimes falling short. Take for example 2011 – free-agent signee Anthony Santander out of Venezuela. The kid absolutely killed it this year for HiA Lynchburg; and in my humble opinion should have won the 2016 Carolina League MVP award instead of teammate Bobby Bradley. Another solid comparison to this year’s OAS choice Oscar Gonzalez, is 2016 – 11th rounder Andrew Calica. The UC-Santa Barabara draftee posted a combined 3.94/.912 PAG/APPA in 50 games for Short Season Mahoning Valley and LoA Lake County. But when it comes to pure peripherals in the fantasy game, the 6’2″ – 180 lb. Dominican Gonzalez logged the best “per game” numbers. When you take his 2016 APPA score and translate it to full season ball, you’re looking at a possible 500+ point fantasy player folks. I’ll temper my enthusiasm. He’s known more for his defense with a strong arm and has the potential to strongly increase his home runs. I think he starts 2017 with Short Season Mahoning Valley with a possible promotion to LoA Lake County as a 19 year old. 

  • CF – Gabriel Mejia – 20 yo
    • 3.42/.758 – PAG/APPA  (SS Mahoning Valley)   
    • 2016 stats:  .322/.378/.375;  .753 OPS;   28 stolen bases. 

I could have followed the pattern (so far) in choosing current Cleveland Indians top prospects as OAS’ but, even though I love 2014- 6th rounder Greg Allen as much as the next guy, I’m sold on the 5’11 – 160 lb. Dominican Mejia. Now, Allen spent 3/4 of the 2016 season in HiA where he posted a 3.98/.831 PAG APPA before he received a late-July promotion to Double A. In 37 games for Akron, his numbers dipped a tad, logging a 3.49/.741 PAG/APPA. Not bad when Double-A is considered the ultimate litmus test for prospects. Once Allen hit Double-A, he no longer sat within the UTR scope. As for Mejia, he spent all season at Short Season Mahoning Valley and not only led the Scrappers, but the New York-Penn League in hits (85) and stolen bases. Although he’s a speed demon and lacks power, he has skills to build upon while working to fill out his rail thin frame. I’d like to see Mejia promoted to LoA Lake County and hope he can come closer to the 72 bags he swiped in his 2014 pro debut while with DSL Indians. 

  • RF – Connor Marabell – 22 yo
    • 2.96/.749 combined – PAG/APPA  (LoA Lake County – 3.14/.748;  HiA Lynchburg – 2.49/.649)   
    • 2016 stats combined:  .298/.346/.461;  .807 OPS;   45 doubles, 7 home runs. 

In the race for the right field UTR OAS choice, it came down to only two candidates: 2016 – 1st rounder Will Benson and my ultimate choice, 2015 – 25th rounder Connor Marabell. I’ll admit, Benson had a unique debut for the Arizona League Indians. Despite batting only .209 in 44 games, the 6’5″ – 225 lb. lefty posted a 3.57/.853 PAG/APPA. This is mostly due to his whopping .576 extra-base percentage, 10 stolen bases and 31 runs scored. But, this is UTR. We look to raise the floor, not brag about the ceiling. The 6’1″ – 195 lb. Jacksonville University draftee Marabell debuted in 2015 for Short Season Mahoning Valley. He posted a weak 1.77/.439 PAG/APPA in 61 New York-Penn League games, but rebounded in his sophomore season. He received a surprising promotion to LoA Lake County and then a late-July move to HiA Lynchburg. Between Lo and HiA, Marabell combined to slug 45 doubles which ranked second in all the minors behind Colorado’s Brian Mundell

 

Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Hitters, Performances of the Day | Leave a comment

2016 Chicago White Sox UTR Organizational All-Stars – Hitters

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  • C – Zack Collins – 21 yo
    • 3.41/.811 combined  – PAG/APPA  (AZL – 0.67/.182;  HiA Winston-Salem – 3.64/.856)  
    • 2016 stats combined:  .244/.396/.435;  .831 OPS;  6 home runs, 33:46 BB:K;  1.000 Fld% 

In the seven years that we here at UTRMinors have tracked low-level minors, sadly the Chicago White Sox have preserved their spot among the dregs of ‘top-prospectdom.’ Recently, studs like Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer made their mark on the big league club, but unfortunately that leaves only a select few kids to carry the load of the system. But as always, there’s hope in the annual draft and that’s exactly what Zack Collins brings to the table. I’ll reiterate that this is an annual All-Star list. Not a ranking. I’m still very high on 2015 UTR OAS catcher Seby Zevala. He raked to the tune of 4.74/1.129 PAG/APPA in his pro debut in the Arizona League. This year, however, his PAG/APPA plunged (2.82/.649) after a promotion to LoA Kannapolis. This leaves Collins atop this years list. The 6’3″ – 220 lb. University of Miami draftee brings power from the left side and was touted as one of the purest bats in the entire 2016 draft. Despite going errorless in his first 39 games as a pro, some scouts aren’t sold on him sticking behind the plate. We’ll see. I predict a full year back at HiA Winston-Salem. 

  • 1B – Anthony Villa – 22 yo
    • 2.59/.671  – PAG/APPA (Rookie Great Falls) 
    • 2016 stats:  .249/.364/.383;  .747 OPS;   15 doubles, 35 RBi’s;  20:38 BB:K ratio,   1.000 Fld% 

When the White Sox signed Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu to a $68 million dollar contract in 2013, it was a smooth transition, as Paul Konerko and his great career was coming to a close. Abreu has been nothing short of amazing, winning Rookie of the Year, finishing 4th in MVP voting, earning an All-Star nod and winning a Silver Slugger Award all in 2014. Not a bad debut huh? With Abreu signed through the 2019 season, this allows us more time to sort through the minors. I could have gone the safe route and chose 2015 – 6th rounder Corey Zangari. He has colossal power and a canon for an arm (as a former third baseman), but the strikeouts are alarming, whiffing 176 times in 110 games this season. This leads me right to the 6’3″ – 220 lb Villa. The 2016 – 19th rounder out of St. Mary’s College Of California (Moraga, CA) showed off his own power clubbing 15 doubles, three home runs and 35 RBi’s in 59 games for the Voyagers. Villa isn’t the sexiest prospect, but he has power, he draws walks and committed zero errors at first base. He should see a promotion to LoA Kannapolis or quite possibly HiA Winston-Salem. 

  • 2BToby Thomas – 22 yo 
    • 2.63/.643  – PAG/APPA (HiA Winston-Salem) 
    • 2016 stats:  .269/.321/.409;  .730 OPS;   33 doubles, 7 home runs 

Even though Jim and I focus on the lower level prospects, the not-so-highly noted kids, our ultimate goal is to see players we (and we only, at the time) tout make it to the major leagues. The White Sox second base situation is intriguing. Not so much in the first -level statistical vain, but more so in the, “Who’s going to ultimately grab the 2B job by the horns” sense. For the last three seasons, 2009 free-agent signee Carlos Sanchez has manned the keystone, but his production has been nothing more than mediocre/poor at best. In 201 major league games, he’s posted a 1.79/.524 PAG/APPA. Would you want a guy on your fantasy team who averages only [a little more than] a point per day? Not me. So, the question is, “Do the White Sox sign a free agent or dive into the organization?” Who knows, but current White Sox top 30 prospect and 2014 Organizational All-Star Jake Peter and this year’s OAS choice Toby Thomas are running amazingly neck-and-neck for the future at second base. Peter posted a combined PAG/APPA of 2.67/.641 for AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte this season. Thomas, a 2014 and 2015 “One to Watch choice, posted a 2.63/.643 for HiA Winston-Salem. I’ll be honest and would place Peter ahead of Thomas on the second base vector, but the 2013 – 21st rounder out of Pensacola Junior College (FL) shouldn’t be ignored. In 99 combined games (at LoA and HiA) last season, Thomas logged a 2.32/.602. In other words, Thomas’ improvement this year proved he belongs in AA Birmingham in 2017. Sure, Thomas needs to outperform the hitting machine that is Jake Peter, but hey, anything is possible. 

  • 3B – Brady Conlan – 22 yo
    • 3.18/.720  – PAG/APPA (Rookie Great Falls) 
    • 2016 stats:  .281/.321/.431;  .751 OPS;   15 doubles, 8 home runs 

The situation surrounding White Sox and third base has somewhat of an even slotted feel/look to it. First you have 2-time All-Star Todd Frazier, obtained in a three-team trade in mid-December. Then you have top prospect Trey Michalczewski, who spent all of 2016 in AA Birmingham where he posted a 2.67/.643 PAG/APPA in 134 games. And next up, in prime UTR fashion is 2016 – 24th rounder Brady Conlan. Again, the OAS series isn’t a hierarchy of talent. If it was, maybe I’d place fellow organizational mate Ramon Beltre ahead of Conlan. But, Beltre, statistically, did not have the season that the 6’1″ – 205 lb. Conlan did. In his debut season, the right-handed slugger pounded out 24 extra-base hits to Beltre’s 15. Regardless of his production, Conlan will have his detractors based on the fact he was a 22-year-old playing in the Pioneer League. (The “age/level” argument). But he had a good year with Rookie League Great Falls. Nothing fancy, but a good year. 

  • SSMitch Roman – 21 yo
    • 3.57/.830  – PAG/APPA (Rookie Great Falls) 
    • 2016 stats:  .332/.392/.418;  .810 OPS;   26 stolen bases

Approximately a month ago I was in a conversation with a few friends about the 2016 N.L. Cy Young race. Of the pitchers discussed, Jon Lester was the main focus. Mainly because of his ability, or inability, to hold runners on base. The main point of the argument was aside from the fact that Lester gives up a fair share of stolen bases, he still won 19 games and posted a 2.44 ERA. This reminded me of White Sox freshman shortstop Tim Anderson. The 6’1″ – 185 lb. righty strikes out at an alarming rate. To put it in perspective, in 22-year-old organizational mate Max Dutto‘s pro debut, he drew 14 walks in 32 games for Rookie Great Falls. In 99 games for the major league club, Anderson drew 13 free passes. But despite the K’s, Anderson still provides power, speed and is a career .301 hitter (combining minors and majors.) I like Ditto, but this year’s OAS Mitch Roman, another 2016 draftee, posted a nice line at Rookie Great Falls. He came from Wright State University boasting good contact skills, above average defense and plus speed. Roman finished the season ranked second in the Appalachian League in steals and within the Pioneer League top 10 in runs scored (52) and hits (85).

  • LF – Nick Basto – 22 yo
    • 3.18/.741 combined – PAG/APPA (HiA Winston-Salem – 3.46/.796;  AA Birmingham – 1.83/.455) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .288/.364/.443;  .807 OPS;   31 doubles, 12 home runs. 

When researching Basto’s stats, it made me scratch my head. Sometimes when someone  struggles so much to start their career, they generally stay planted in the low minors until they figure things out. The 2012 – 5th rounder out of Archbishop McCarthy HS (Southwest Ranches, FL) embarked on a rather unique path. In his first two seasons combined (with Rookie Bristol, Rookie Great Falls and LoA Kannapolis) the 6’2″ – 210 pounder posted a putrid 1.77/.467 PAG/APPA. In 2014, the organization surprisingly promoted Basto to HiA Winston-Salem (after 9 games in the GCL) where he batted .263 with 14 doubles and seven home runs. The promotion/demotion yo-yo continued when Basto began 2015 in LoA Kannapolis. In 42 games, he hit a meager .217 with 3 home runs and 18 RBi’s. Yet again, he got the call to HiA Winston-Salem to close out the season, and posted a .203 batting average with 18 doubles and seven home runs. This season added to the bewilderment, but the results were pleasing. He remained in HiA to start 2016 and in 106 games logged a .308 average, clubbed 27 doubles and ranked seventh in the Carolina League in home runs (12) and total bases (195). Once Basto received a promotion to AA Birmingham, he no longer qualified for UTR. Hopefully Basto earned his way to a full season in AA, but with his track record, who knows. I just hope he hits well enough to stay, or simply be, relevant. 

  • CF – Alex Call – 22 yo
    • 3.49/.757 combined – PAG/APPA (Rookie Great Falls – 3.93/.791;  L0A Kannapolis – 3.24/.734) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .308/.394/.445;  .839 OPS;   20 doubles, 6 home runs;  14 stolen bases.  

Centerfield has always been looked upon as the one position where a player has to posses nearly all the elements that make up the prototypical player at the position. So, when choosing the White Sox OAS center fielder this off-season the choice was rather obvious. In my humble opinion, the 6’0″ – 185 lb. Call has it all. The Ball State University draftee hit the ground running after being taken in the 3rd round of this years draft. He batted a career .351 for the Cardinals; and in 2015 batted .303 for the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod League. The White Sox assigned Call to Rookie Great Falls and he never stop hitting. In 27 Pioneer League games, he batted .308 with 19 walks to 18 strikeouts, four stolen bases and committed only one error. Call received a mid-July promotion to LoA Kannapolis posting an identical .308 batting average, but his power began to show, slugging 17 doubles and 3 home runs. He also went errorless in the outfield and stole 10 more bases. Despite fellow organizational mates Adam Engel, Tyler Sullivan and Hunter Jones leading the system with 31 swipes this season, I believe Call has the skills to steal much more. Overall, there just really isn’t anything to dislike about Call. He may not have any seriously loud tools. He just does everything really well. He could see a possible promotion to HiA Winston-Salem to start next season. 

  • RF – Aaron Schnurbusch – 22 yo
    • 4.42/1.003 – PAG/APPA  (Rookie Great Falls) 
    • 2016 stats:  .357/.471/.542;  1.013 OPS;   14 doubles, 6 triples, 6 home runs;    

These are the exact kinds of prospects we here at UTRMinors are drawn to. In his professional debut, all the 28th rounder out of the University of Pittsburgh did was lead the Rookie Pioneer League in walks (47) and earned Pioneer League top 10 honors in batting, runs scored (53), hits (85), triples, RBi (44), on-base percentage, OPS and total bases (129). But it’s the 6’5″ – 235 lb. lefty’s pedigree that has us intrigued. Schnurbusch was a two-way player at Johnson Country Community College (KS) before transferring to Pitt for the 2015 season. In his two years at JCCC, he batted .363 with 74 RBi and 66 runs scored. In 2014, as a starting pitcher, he led all Cavalier starters with a 12-2 record, a 2.42 ERA while striking out 102 batters in 107.3 innings. He transferred to Pittsburgh in 2015, making a full-time shift to the outfield despite appearing twice on the mound (where he went 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA). In his two seasons as Panther, he batted .259 with 32 extra-base hits, 64 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. Schnurbush will have to fight for every bit of prospect attention, but with his two-way capability, he could be a nice wild-card prospect moving forward. 

Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Hitters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tampa Bay Rays – 2016 Organizational All-Stars – Pitchers

tampabayrays

Tampa Bay pitching probably has the best collection of UTR’s in the AL East., as a nice balance has been mentioned over the last two seasons. As we review the starters that I’ve listed, only two pitchers were drafted above the fifth round (Brent Honeywell and Blake Snell). The 21- year-old RHP Honeywell was a UTR-OAS the last two seasons and just barely missed making it for a third year in a row. He had an outstanding season splitting time between HiA and Double-A in 2016 and has never seen his TPS over .090 in 279.1 innings. This indicates that Honeywell is living up to the 2nd round pick  billing and was the obvious pick for the Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Last year I tagged Blake Snell with “ASAP Roster Add” and hopeful that readers took heed. Snell was placed into the Rays rotation for a spot start on April 23rd. The 23-year-old lefty threw a two-hitter over 5 innings, struck out six and issued only one walk. He was sent back to AAA-Durham, then called back to the majors in mid-June. He remained in the Rays rotation for good, but did display some inconsistency with his command (5.2 BB/9). Expect better things from Snell in 2017. Another two-timer was  Jacob Faria (“Legit UTR/Solid Stash”) who was also the 2014 “One To Watch”. The 10th round pick in 2011 started at AA Montgomery and finished strong at AAA Durham. There’s a lot to like about Faria, who should see a mid-season call-up with the Rays. The most true UTR that I liked from 2015 was Jamie Schultz. The right-hander had another strong season where he copied his K/9 rate of 11.2 [again] in 2016. A few other names just off the scope are Henry Centeno, Hunter Wood, and Adrian Navas. Navas has been on my radar the last two seasons and was my 2016 “One To Watch” pick. The 20-year-old held his own with Short-Season Hudson Valley this season and should continue to be tracked.
 
As the upper levels are solid for the Rays, the International side was a rather disappointment. 2015 ‘Watch’ Resly Linares spent the season with Appy League Princeton and put up OK numbers in his U.S. debut. Angel Yepez had his full season with LoA Bowling Green cut short after two starts with a apparent injury. A quick study of my Rays spreadsheet doesn’t show much improvement in Latin America. 
 
 
 
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score/TPS
 
1. RHP Jose Mujica14.5 /.114
  • 20 years old (LoA Bowling Green)
  • International Free Agent – 2012
  • Mujica was ranked #30  on the Rays prospect list to start the 2016 season. The big- bodied right-hander should see his stock rise with his outstanding finish in August going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. He struck out 23 in 26 innings without issuing a single walk. Reports indicate, with the Rays pitching depth, Mujica could be expendable, as he is eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
2. RHP  Benton Moss – 16/ .103
  • 22 years old  (HiA Charlotte)
  • 6th round – 2015
  • Moss was just off my scope at the end of the 2015 season. I thought he might stay that way because the Rays aggressively assigned him to HiA Charlotte after 14 appearances (10 starts) in his pro debut at Short-Season Hudson Valley. Various sources state that he’s being groomed for a move to the bullpen.
3. RHP  Greg Harris – 16/.090 “Take a Flyer”

  • 21 years old  (HiA Charlotte / AAA Durham)
  • 17th round (LA Dodgers) – 2013
  • Harris is one of a few UTR pitchers that pre-dates UTRMinors.com. The right-hander was garnering mentions since his debut in 2013, back when Marc and I were providing content to another site. Things took off for Harris after he was sent to Tampa Bay where the mentions piled-up into a #2 Factor Score ranking as a 2015 UTR-OAS. At only 21-years-old this past season, Harris looked strong and sipped a cup of coffee with AAA-Durham in September.
4. LHP Michael Velasquez – 16/.100
  • 20 years old (LoA Bowling Green)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • Velasquez proved to be hittable in 2016 (133 hits in 113 innings), but TPS loved him enough to place him in the top five. Even though he threw most of his pitches in the hot zone, his periphials were strong: a 4.04 K/BB ratio with 113 K’s and 28 BB’s.
5. RHP Genesis Cabrera – 13/.108
  • 19 years old – (LoA Bowling Green)
  • International Free Agent – 2013
  • So many pitchers could have occupied the last spot. I already mentioned Navas, Centeno, and Hunter Wood above, but figured to bury another name within this blurb. Of all the middle-of-the-pack arms sitting within my spreadsheet, Travis Ott (25th round-2013) really shined the best, and is the front-runner for the 2017 “One to Watch’ list. Cabrera posted pedestrian numbers this season in his first full season.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Factor Score /TPS
 
1. RHP Fernando Baez – 11/.049
  • 24 years old – (LoA Bowling Green)
  • International Free Agent – 2009 (St. Louis)
  • The Rays picked up Baez from the Rule 5 draft in December 2015. Prior to the 2014 season, I predicted Baez to breakout as a relief pitcher, but he was thrown into a starters role with Short-Season State College. I wrote that Baez had upside, but I just didn’t know where that would lead him. The Rays shifted him back to the bullpen and they should be very happy with the results.
2. RHP Ian Gibaut – 6/.077
  • 22 years old – (LoA Bowling Green / HiA Charlotte)
  • 11th round – 2015
  • Gibaut backs up his successful 2015 debut with another strong season. He was my Rays #1 TPS ranked relief pitcher last season
3. RHP Diego Castillo – 5/.087
  • 22 years old – (LoA Bowling Green / HiA Charlotte)
  • International Free Agent – 2014

 

Posted in 2016, 2016 Post Season Organizational All-Stars, Articles, Pitchers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment