2015 Midwest League All-Stars (Western Division) UTR Hitters

  • Catcher
    • Jacob Nottingham – Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)  –  20 yo  –  (2013 – 6th round)
      • What more can I say about Nottingham that I haven’t already. In my opinion, he could be without a doubt the highest climber on Houston Astro prospect lists this up-coming off-season. Nottingham hasn’t “burst onto the scene” as some might initially suspect though.  His production shows he’s been on a steady incline since his 2013 debut, and did I suspect another productive season of growth? Yeah I did, but even I didn’t think the young backstop would pour it on this strongly. He’s at or near the top of the Midwest League leaderboards in most all power categories as a catcher which makes him all the more special. Nottingham has work to do on his defense, however, the sky’s the limit for this kid.
    • Carlos Leal – Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)  –  23 yo;  –  (2014 – 34th round)
      • It’s kind of cool to find a kid on not just this All-Star team, but any All-Star squad who was drafted in a mid-30th round, comes from a Division II school, was a catcher, then upon being drafted was immediately converted to pitcher, be unsuccessful in the attempt, then converted back to behind the plate. The Delta College (MS) draftee is currently batting over .300 (.308) and it’s definitely no secret that he has a good arm from behind the plate. Some of Leal’s throws to second have been clocked in the triple digits so he could be a real fun prospect to watch moving forward.
  • First Base
    • Trey Vavra – Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN)  –  23 yo;  –  (2014 – 33rd round)
      • Boy, talk about keeping it in the family. The 6’2″ – 185 lb. slugger’s brother Tanner was drafted by the Twins in the 30th round in 2013, while their father Joe is a bench coach for the Twins major league squad. Maybe these bloodlines are why Trey has always hit, and hit very well. The Florida Southern draftee currently ranks third in the Midwest league with a .346 average, which isn’t that surprising. The right-hander finished fourth in batting and on-base percentage last year in the Appalachian League (Elizabethton) while also leading the league in doubles with 20.
    • Marty Herum – Kane County Cougars (ARI)  –  23 yo;  –  (2013 – FA signee)
      • When you look at the 6’3″ – 215 lb. Herum’s stats, they might not jump out at you, but when you consider Herum wasn’t even drafted, it adds a bit of a brighter shine to his overall statistics. Herum is trying to become only the third draftee, but first-ever hitter, out of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater to make it to the majors. Right-hander Gene Brabender compiled a career 35-43 win-loss record from 1966 to 1970 pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, the old Seattle Pilots (1969) and the 1970 Milwaukee Brewers; and more recently (and notably), Bob Wickman, who logged 15 seasons for six different teams amassing two All-Star nods, 267 saves and a career 63-61 record. In Herum’s third season, he presently ranks second in the league in hits (80) and ranks in the top 10 in RBi’s (39) and total bases (108).
  • Second Base
    • Mott Hyde – Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)  –  23 yo –  (2014 – 26th round)
      •  Hyde was recently promoted to HiA Lancaster.
    • Andrew Daniel – Burlington Bees (LAA)  –  22 yo;  –  (2014 – 11th round)
      • The 6’1″ – 195 pound righty had a strong pro debt for Rookie League Orem in 2014 batting .340, ranking second in hits (88), doubles (20), third in runs scored (49) and had 132 total bases. This season, the former San Diego University draftee ranks within the leagues top 10 in doubles (16) and offers the  kind of overall production you’d want out of your every day second baseman.
  • Third Base
    • Nick Tanielu – Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)  –  22 yo;  –  (2014 – 14th round)
      • If this year’s All-Star game appearance is anything like last year for the former Washington State Cougar, he’ll have to clear some more space on his mantle. The 5’11” – 215 lb. righty brought home the 2014 New York-Penn League All-Star MVP award after a 3-3 performance in a game that ended in a 1-1 tie.  This is Tanielu’s first taste of full-season ball and he’s making steady progress given the jump in levels from 2014 to 2015. I’m still a bit perplexed however. Not so much regarding Tanielu’s All-Star selection, but more so those who weren’t. Namely Burlington’s (LAA) Zach Houchins, Dayton’s (CIN) Gavin LaValley or Peoria’s (STL) Danny Diekroeger.
    • Cody Regis – Kane County Cougars (ARI)  –  24 yo;  –  (2014 – FA signee)
      • The Diamondbacks signed the lefty slugger as a non-drafted free agent out of UCLA shortly before the start of the 2015 season; after going un-drafted in 2013 and posting a bountiful career for the Bruins. So far, Regis is holding his own for Kane County, however, I’m going to temper my enthusiasm as Regis is on the brink of no longer qualifying for UTR.
  • Shortstop
    • Oscar Mercado – Peoria Chiefs (STL)  –  20 yo;  –  (2013 – 2nd round)
      •  Even though Mercado finds himself either vacant from or near the bottom of several Cardinal prospect lists, the Gaither HS (FL) draftee is UTR ineligible due to his draft status. He has all the tools though, but his all-around game needs plenty of refinement.
    • Yairo Munoz – Beloit Snappers (OAK)  –  20 yo;  –  (2012 – Int. FA signee)
      • The young Dominican signed for $280K and the Oakland Athletics are starting to see what could become a solid return on their investment. After Munoz sophomore season, he was batting .215 with only 14 extra-base hits and an on-base percentage below .300. In 2014, however, the 6’1″ – 165 lb. righty broke out and was named a UTR Organizational All-Star. He batted .298 and collected more doubles than he had extra base hits in his first two seasons. He’s a budding star in the Oakland system and one of the better young shortstop prospects in the entire minors.
    • Jake Yacinich – Burlington Bees (LAA)  –  22 yo;  –  (2014 – 8th round)
      • Even though this is Yacinich’s second year as a pro, it’s technically his first. Six games into his debut season last year for Rookie Orem, the 6’2″ – 195 lb. lefty season abruptly ended after suffering a fractured right foot as the result of a baserunner sliding into Yacinich at second base. It was expected that the University of Iowa draftee would begin 2015 back in Orem, but an aggressive assignment to Burlington was in order and he’s held his own batting over .300.
  • Outfield
    • Caleb Adams – Burlington Bees (LAA)  –  22 yo;  –  (2014 – 10th round)
      • Probably the three most notable big leaguers to come from the University of Louisiana Lafayette are former Yankee lefty pitcher Ron Guidry, current Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar and Brewers star catcher Jonathan Lucroy.  Can Adams do the same?  An All-Star appearance doesn’t hurt, and here’s a crooked number for  you.  If you read my Midwest League Eastern Division Hitters piece, you probably detected that Adams isn’t the only U of LL alum in this very game, as Bowling Green’s Jace Conrad also calls himself a former Rajin’ Cajun.  Despite having a little fun here, Adams can play. He’s made meritable improvement from last season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move to HiA before seasons end. glove defender so his bat will have to carry him. After all that though, he’s got the game skills to take over this All-Star game.
  • Designated Hitter
    • Sandber Pimentel – Beloit Snappers (OAK)  –  20 yo;  –  (2011 – Int. FA signee)
      • The 6’3″ – 220 lb. Pimentel is a physical specimen who looks the part of a potential star. After three seasons in the Dominican Summer League he was promoted state-side this season and is posting promising numbers, His stats may look rather parallel, but given the fact he’s facing much more advanced pitching, he’s making big hefty progress. He’s got a lot of bat from the left side, displaying plenty of power this season (10 home runs). He’s also an ample defender with a strong arm, smooth hands and average-to-above defense in both the infield (first base) and outfield.
This entry was posted in 2015 League All Star Games, Hitters, June. Bookmark the permalink.

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