2015 Carolina League All Stars – UTR Hitters

Since we’ve highlighted the west coast dugout, let’s head east to see what UTR hitters the Carolina League All-Stars bring to us. Remember, if you haven’t taken the time to read over our previous All-Star features, it’s easy.  Go to the UTRMinors homepage and hover your mouse over the “2015 All-Star Game UTR’s” link. There, you’ll see a drop down of all the 2015 All-Star lists we’ve completed and what we’ve said about this year’s All-Stars.   Let’s get right to it shall we…..

  • Catcher
    • Spencer Kieboom – Potomac Nationals (WAS)   –  24 yo;  –  The 6’1″ – 230 lb. draftee out of Clemson has never been found guilty of bringing a supremely high octane bat to the ballpark. However, he’s always held his own batting a career .286 in 2+ minor league seasons (missing all but four games in 2013). He’s the “defense first/bat second” type of player who carries a .996 fielding percentage and 41% caught-stealing rate with him up through the ranks. Fantasy-wise, not your first choice, but for the real-life manager? I’d want him on my team.
    • Omar Narvaez – Winston-Salem Dash (CWS)  –  23 yo;  –  An international signee out of Venezuela by Tampa Bay, Narvaez was dangled in the Rule 5 draft and selected by the White Sox prior to the 2014 season. Another less than stellar hitter (much like All-Star teammate Kieboom), Narvaez is playing in his seventh season and has yet to reach Double-A, yet has always displayed great acumen behind the plate posting a .987 fielding percentage and has caught 43% would be base stealers.
  • First Base
    • Nellie Rodriguez – Lynchburg Hillcats (CLE)  –  21 yo;  –  The 6’2″ – 225 lb. George Washington HS (NY) draftee’s statistical resume proves that being a middle round draft pick (15th rd – 2012) doesn’t always equal “organizational filler.” Rodriguez exploded onto Cleveland’s UTR Org. All-Star list last year due to his Midwest League leading 22 homers and 234 total bases with Lake County.  So far this season the New York, NY native is on pace to eclipse those numbers at a higher level mind you, which could seriously elevate his overall prospect status within the Indians system.
    • Sam Travis – Salem Sox (BOS)  –  21 yo;  –  I highlighted Travis, a 2014 – 2nd rounder out of Indiana University, as a Red Sox Organizational All-Star in 2014 after a stellar 2-level pro debut with SS Lowell (NYPL) and LoA Greenville (Sally Lg.). Travis’ overall numbers this season parallel those he posted last year, but the power is coming; and he hasn’t sold out his batting average much either. He currently leads the Carolina League with 69 hits, ranks within the top 10 in doubles, batting average and total bases. Travis has the chance to be incredibly good and the top overall bat in the Boston system within the next few years.
  • Second Base
    • Jeff Kemp – Frederick Keys (BAL)  –  25 yo;  –  A 2013 – 33rd round pick is the draft pedigree Jim and I drool over, but it’s Kemp’s age that disqualifies him from UTR contention.
    • Ramon Torres  – Wilmington Blue Claws (KC)  –  22 yo;  –  As I said in my 2014 Organizational All-Star piece about the rail-thin switch-hitter, he doesn’t have loud tools, but gets the job done both with the glove and the bat. He’s buried within the Royals middle infield depth charts as “average across the board”, but as a 22 year old, he still has time to grow, even if he’s in his sixth year in the organization.
  • Third Base
    • Drew Dosch – Frederick Keys (BAL)  –  22 yo;  –  There isn’t a thing I dislike about Dosch. He falls into that category where a college injury mixed with an organizational leap of faith could end up reaping huge rewards down the road.  Now I’m not saying Dosch could equal the possible investment return of say, the Nationals drafting  Tommy John survivor Lucas Giolito or the Blue Jays taking RHP Jeff Hoffman, another Tommy John victim, last season.  However, on the hitter side, the knees play an integral part in a hitters swing mechanics. Which is why the Orioles feel they may have gotten the steal of the 2013 draft by taking the 6’2″ – 200 lb. Dosch in the 7th round (Youngstown State).  Dosch’ stock fell due to suffering ACL damage to his right knee right before the draft. He debuted in 2014 ranking within the Sally League top 10 in runs scored and total bases. This season, he’s cranked out 34 RBi’s and should continue to climb up Orioles prospect boards.
    • Trey Michalczewski – Winston-Salem Dash (CWS)  –  20 yo;  –  The switch-hitting, multi-athlete star out of Jenks HS (OK) was an easy choice as a White Sox Organizational All-Star in 2014.  The 6’3″ – 210 lb. beast is one of those kids where his athleticism alone is worth its prospect stock, yet he’s not just a great all-around athlete.  The kid can downright rake at the plate. He appears to hit better vs. lefties (.314) than righties (.259), yet five of his six home runs this season have come against right handed pitching.  His defense could use a little work (10 errors / .939 Fld%), but Michalczewski’s calling card is definitely his bat.
  • Shortstop
    • Johan Camargo – Carolina Mudcats (ATL)  –  21 yo;  –  The rail-thin Panamanian was signed in July of 2010.  A career .290 hitter with over 1000 at-bats, Camargo is a likable player who can poke and prod hits out of a pitcher. He’s a great defender, however, with uber-prospect Jose Peraza destined to take over at second base soon and short stop Ozhaino Albies passing the switch-hitting Camargo on the systems depth chart, Camargo could eventually become trade bait. 
  • Outfield
    • Tucker Nathans – Frederick Keys (BAL)  –  26 yo;  – Nathans doesn’t UTR qualify due to his age.  
    • Luigi Rodriguez – Lynchburg Hillcats (CLE)  –  22 yo;  –   Cleveland’s other All-Star representative named Rodriguez made his way to this year’s All-Star game by leading the league in home runs while also ranking in the Carolina League top 10 in runs scored, hits, triples, RBi’s, SLG%, OPS and total bases.  At 5’10”  and only 160 lbs., I’m simply waiting for him to either pack on some pounds and continue hitting or run totally out of gas. But the Dominican Republic native sure is fun to watch.
    • Mark Zagunis – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (CHC)  –  22 yo;  –  Even though most of the (much deserved) catching prospect love goes to 2014 – 1st rounder Kyle Schwarber, it’s Schwarber’s bat that scouts and prognosticators feel will embed him into future Cubs lineups for years to come, as his defense behind the plate is a work-in-progress.  Zagunis, on the other hand, could be the C/OF prospect who claws and scratches his way into future regular catching duties at Wrigley.  Other than a minor lack in power and continuing to learn the nuances of catching, honestly put folks, there isn’t a single hole in Zagunis’ game.  The 2014 – 3rd rounder out of Virginia Tech is amongst the league leaders in hits, runs scored, on-base percentage (as he leads the league in walks) OPS and total bases. I love Zagunis; and he could be that perfect, off the radar prospect who’s buried in a loaded system that could help the keen minded fantasy owner looking for a super sleeper prospect.
    • Bradley Zimmer – Lynchburg Hillcats (CLE)  –  22 yo;  –  2014 – 1st round draft pick out of the University of San Francisco.  A Stud prospect.
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