Welcome to our first ever UTRMinors.com “Ones to Watch” installment; sort of! You’re probably asking yourself, “Why the “sort of!?!?”
As some of you may have already read in previous posts, Jim and I, for the last six years (20o9-2014), have kicked off the minor league baseball season with what we call “Breakout Hitters/Pitchers of the Year” choices. This all began over at MLBDepthCharts.com (now RosterResource) and we hope to continue the same success we had with MLBDC to our efforts here at UTRMinors. We started by choosing players from each National League club then added the American League starting in 2014. Over the years we’ve been rather successful with our choices.
Now, I use the word ‘success” rather loosely because that’s why Jim and I decided to change the ‘Breakout” feature to “One’s to Watch” (or OTW as you’ll get used to seeing) this season. After looking down through our past lists, here are a just few of the kids we’ve hit on over the years: former Astro and current Detroit Tiger outfielder J.D. Martinez (2010 Astros Breakout selection), SF Giants Brandon Belt (2010 Breakout), former Diamondbacks and current White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and current Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (my 2012 STL Breakout P.O.Y) Several of Jim’s pitchers include: current Milwaukee Brewers #3 starter Wily Peralta (2009 mention), current Philadelphia middle reliever Justin De Fratus (2010 Breakout), current Cincinnati Red swing-man Tony Cingrani (2011 mention), current SD Padres set-up man Kevin Quackenbush (2012 Breakout) and Atlanta Braves’ Shae Simmons (2013 Breakouts). And as we reviewed our respective lists, we see names scattered from the last 2 to 3 years that are still in the minors. These players could be used as examples during next years OTW introduction, as we continue to improve our processes and better hone our radars in choosing those on the cusp of a MLB roster spot.
So then, why the switch from “Breakout’s” to “Ones to Watch?” Jim and I felt that the term ‘breakout’ had this sense of urgency to it. Choosing a player to breakout during a chosen season was like playing the lottery even though we felt we had enough quantitative data to back our claims. Unfortunately we’ve had our fair share of misses as well. But hell, even professional scouts and expert prospect prognosticators miss the boat on even the most highly rated kids. However Jim and I wanted to take the pressure off and simply expand the perimeters of the “breakout.” I mean, isn’t Tigers OF J.D. Martinez proof that my predicted breakout back in 2010 was a little off? His minor league stats gave me the indication that he had it in him to become an eventual major league regular. The player development process takes time; and so we usher in the “Ones to Watch” era. Much like our breakouts, these are kids we feel you should bookmark, add to deep deep dynasty league scout teams or for the most hardcore fantasy players team notes. One thing you might notice with our upcoming lists are kids who were also tabbed OAS picks within their respective organizations. These might be very deep level kids who’s 2014 garnered enough attention to be an OAS pick, yet not enough attention in our opinions to miss several 2015 preseason expert lists; or quite simply, kids who scored heavyweight TPS or PAG scores during their 2014 campaign.