2015 South Atlantic League All-Stars (North Division) – UTR Hitters

  • Catcher
    • Arturo Rodriguez – Greensboro Grasshoppers (MIA)  –  23 yo  –  2015 – Int. FA signee
      •  After spending his first three seasons as a pro playing in the Mexican League, the 6’0″ – 235 lb. righty suited up on American soil and so far the results have been positive. Despite batting .300 this season, (.327 in his career) Rodriquez is known as a defense-minded catcher, noted by his career .994 fielding percentage between catcher and first base. Behind the plate, he sports a 29 percent caught-stealing rate; a tick below his career mark of 33 percent.
    • Brett Austin – Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS)  –  22 yo  –
      • The 6’1″ – 210 lb. switch-hitter was drafted in the 4th round in 2014 out of North Carolina State.
    • Jose Trevino – Hickory Crawdads (TEX)  –  22 yo  –
      • The 2014 – 6th rounder out of Oral Roberts University (OK) was my UTR Organizational All-Star.  As I stated in my Trevino OAS bio, he won’t supplant Jorge Alfaro as the top catcher in the Rangers system. That doesn’t mean Trevino is a pushover. One of several great aspects of Trevino’s game is his defensive skills don’t limit him to behind the plate. He was a shortstop in college and has played third base and second in the pros, but Texas will give him every chance to succeed as a catcher. Trevino can swing the bat too. His 9 home runs rank third in the league while his 35 RBi’s sit within the top five.  He may never hit for high average, but he supplies gap power with some home run pop, yet needs to work on his pitch recognition and plate discipline as he ascends.
  • First Base
    • Rhys Hoskins – Lakewood Blue Claws (PHI)  –  22 yo  –
      • The 6’4″ – 225 lb. beast falls into the *asterisk column of UTR due to his draft status (5th round in 2014 out of Cal State Sacramento), but he’s producing in gobs nonetheless. A true UTR sleeper.
  • Second Base
    • Stephen Wilkerson – Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL)  –  23 yo  –  2014 – 8th round out of Clemson
      • I’m a little surprised that Wilkerson wasn’t re-assigned to repeat the New York-Penn League after his 2014 pro debut. He hit a putrid .190 with 42 strikeouts and 12 extra-base hits in 60 games for Aberdeen.  Nonetheless, the 6’1″ – 195 lb. Georgia native was promoted to Delmarva and his bat has shown great improvement batting .296 and drawing 10 more walks (24 in 43 games) than he did all last season (14 in 60 games).
    • Eddy Alvarez – Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS)  –  25 yo;
      • As much as I’d love to highlight the former Olympic Silver Medalist (2014 – Speed Skating), he no longer UTR-qualifies due to his age.
  • Third Base
    • Grant DeBruin – Hagerstown Suns (WAS)  –  24 yo  –
      • DeBruin went un-drafted after a collegiate career for the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He’ll turn 25 years old in late June, which will make him no longer UTR eligible.
    • Jomar Reyes – Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL)  –  18 yo;  –  2014 – International FA signee
      • It’s hard to fathom that a teenager barely four months into his 18th birthday carries the physical size larger than some quarterbacks in the National Football League.  I love the 6’3″ – 225 lb. righty, and he has the skills to become one of the top Orioles prospects hitting prospects in very short order. He has immense power potential that can play in any corner spot on the diamond. Too bad his prospect ranking eliminates him from UTR contention. A fun kid to watch; and if he’s available in any dynasty leagues you find yourself in, scoop him up.
  • Shortstop
    • Malquin Canelo – Lakewood Blue Claws (PHI)  –  20 yo;  –  2012 – International FA signee
      • The wafer-thin Dominican comes to the ballpark with one glaring tool: highlight reel defense. Some scouts say his defense could play in the majors now, but that doesn’t mean his bat isn’t improving. Canelo is a four-time UTR Hitter of the Day choice and is batting .65+ points higher (.311) than his career average (.265) coming into this season.
  • Outfield
    • Luke Tendler – Hickory Crawdads (TEX)  –  23 yo;  –  2014 – 29th round
      • I have to say that it feels pretty darn good when Jim and I study statistics for “our” kids, narrow down our choices, then make our final selections for the UTR Organizational All-Stars. We’ve done this internally for years, but this past off-season is the first we’ve ever published such lists. The former North Carolina A&T alum was one of my UTR OAS outfielders for Texas, who [also] was one of the select few that headed into the 2015 season as a “One to Watch” prospect. He didn’t let us down, as he came out of the 2015 gates smoking hot, locking in several UTR HOD mentions. However, as one of the most general laws of physics states, “What goes up, must come down.”  It pains me to see how hard Tendler’s season has crashed. After batting .356 with 17 extra-base hits and 18 runs scored in April, Tendler has collected 34 hits in May and June combined with only seven extra-base hits and 15 runs scored.  Maybe the All-Star game (and break from regular season action) will give the 5’11” – 190 lb. lefty a chance to catch his breath and clear his mind. You can come back and do it kid. We’re rooting for you.
    • Carlos Tocci – Lakewood Blue Claws (PHI)  –  19 yo;  –  2011 – International FA signee taking a spot in the Phillies top 5 prospect rankings for the last two seasons which disqualifies him as an Under the Radar prospect.
    • K.J. Woods – Greensboro Grasshoppers (MIA)  –  19 yo;  –
      • The  2013 – 4th round draft choice out of Fort Mill HS (AL) doesn’t UTR qualify due to his draft status. I like him though, as it looks like 2015 could be considered a bit of a breakout season for the 6’3″ – 230 lb. lefty.
    • Conor Bierfeldt – Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL)  –  24 yo;  –  2013 – 29th round
      • The 6’2″ – 220 lb. Western Connecticut State draftee will probably never compete for a batting title, but Bierfeldt does supply solid gap power and enough home run pop to expect between 10-15 homers a season. Right now though, I’m not sure I see enough to consider Bierfeldt a threat to break a major league camp anytime soon. Plus, he’ll no longer qualify as a UTR next season, as he turns 25 years old on April 2nd.
    • Elvis Escobar – West Virginia Power (PIT)  –  20 yo;  –  2011 – International FA signee
      • I guess you could say that Escobar is having what you would call a slow and methodical climb up through the ranks. He’s batting a career high .291 this season and has collected nearly as many doubles (14, in 62 games) than he did all of last season (17 in 93 games) with Short Season Jamestown and LoA West Virginia.
  • Designated Hitter
    • Austen Smith – Greensboro Grasshoppers (MIA)  –  23 yo;  –  2014 – 33rd round
      • The former Alabama draftee had a promising debut for the Gulf Coast League squad batting .288 with seven home runs and 34 runs batted in, in 47 games. It was a minor surprise to see the 6’4″ – 240 pounder receive a promotion directly past Short Season Batavia right to LoA Greensboro.  Despite the promotion and rather slight dip in production, Smith is more than holding his own. He’s nearly doubled his extra-base output this season (12- 2B, 11-HR) compared to 2014 (5-2B, triple and 7-HR). He heads to the All-Star break ranking second in home runs and sits within the league’s top 10 in slugging percentage and OPS.
This entry was posted in 2015, 2015 League All Star Games, Hitters, June. Bookmark the permalink.

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