Oct 032012

As semi-predicted yesterday, three Hagerstown Suns were named to the Baseball America Top 20 prospects for the South Atlantic League — Brian Goodwin (#8), Alex Meyer (#10) and Matt Skole (#19).

All three were promoted from the Sally League, with one leapfrogging to the Eastern League after just 58 games played, another making the jump after 18 starts, and the last getting the call so late that it managed to disappoint fans of both Hagerstown and Potomac, but only after enraging just about the rest of the frequent commenters here first.

Highlights from the scouting reports that accompanied the list…
A hamstring injury that knocked him out for five weeks was the only thing that stopped Goodwin in the SAL. His plus power potential and speed make Goodwin at least a 20-20 candidate once he reaches the majors, though he’s still learning how to read pitchers. His short stroke and disciplined approach should allow him to hit for a high average as well. Defensively, he’s a quality center fielder with solid arm strength.

Meyer battled inconsistency but also dominated at times in his pro debut, lowering his ERA in each of his three months in the SAL, the performed even better after a promotion to High-A. The 6’9″ Meyer has a lot of moving parts, which makes maintaining his mechanics a challenge. When he’s in sync and maintains a consistent release point, he works downhill with a 93-97 mph FB and a wipeout slider in the mid-80s. He also shows some feel for a changeup that could become an average third pitch.

Matt SkoleThe league MVP, Skole led the SAL in homers (27), walks (94), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging (.574). Managers tabbed him as having the best strike-zone judgment in the league after watching him use his disciplined approach to pound pitchers with consistency. While Skole was old for the league, his strength and bat speed give him legitimate power. Almost all of his value is tied up in his bat, however, as he’s a well below-average runner and subpar defender at third base.

Goodwin and Skole, of course, are among the Nats’ Arizona Fall League contigent while Meyer was shut down in late August and should start 2013 with the Harrisburg Senators, along with fellow P-Nat Nathan Karns.

The Carolina League is next up (Friday), with the Eastern League scheduled for next Tuesday (non-spoiler alert: look for Goodwin to get named to the E.L. list, too) and the International League on the 12th.

Oct 022012

Like two years ago, the first couple of 2012 league Top 20s from Baseball America — Gulf Coast League, New York-Penn League — have been sans Nats.

That will most likely change with tomorrow’s Top 20 for the 2012 South Atlantic League, with Brian Goodwin, Alex Meyer and Matt Skole as good possibilities to make the list.

However, there was a mention in the BA chat held yesterday, which I’ll pass along:

Ben (Leland Grove): Did any of the Doubledays come close to making this list?

Aaron Fitt: As our college readers surely know, I’ve been a Tony Renda fan for a long time, and he was in the mix for a spot on this list. He’s an undersized second baseman who did not stand out for his performance in his pro debut, but he has an innate feel for his barrel that I think will carry him through the minors. He also made great strides defensively this summer, though he has a few more things to clean up in order to become an average defender. Brett Mooneyham had an encouraging debut, but he’s got to smooth out his delivery in order to harness his potential — I think there’s a lot of risk there. Robert Benincasa and Derek Self are a couple of college relievers who pitched very well this summer; both have polish, tenacity and solid stuff (working in that 90-93 range with solid-average sliders), and I think both could move quickly. And Estarlin Martinez is an interesting sleeper with some power potential — certainly a guy to keep an eye on.

The Doubledays, as you’ll be shocked to learn (no, not really), were one of the oldest teams in the New York-Penn League. This is a function, of course, of the organization’s tendency (philosophy?) towards collegiate players. It’s disappointing, of course, when there were two candidates (Martinez, Narciso Mesa) that put up stronger numbers than the four OFs that were tabbed, but two were younger and two were recent high-price/high-profile draftees — and let’s not forget BA’s tendency to favor youth and money spent when it comes to prospects.

Oct 012012

For better or worse, this is where the Nationals have decided to cultivate its teenage talent. The trend of getting younger has leveled off as well. The average bat was 18.1 years old, just as it was in 2011; the average arm was 19.0 years old, a shade older than last year’s crew, which was 18.9 years old.
The team, however, finished third in its division with a mark of 38-32 (.543) — its best finish since 2008, when the DSL Nationals1 won the league.

As referenced in the comments, there’s only so much that we can glean from the DSL. It is, after all, just box scores and stats. We obsess over player ages while simultaneously doubting them in light of countless scandals that are a byproduct of that obsession (not to mention abject poverty, but let’s steer clear of socioeconomic discussion, like the NCAA does despite pretending otherwise).

One of the imperfect measures we do have is seeing how many of the DSL Nationals advance to the GCL. Four position players and seven pitchers advanced to the GCL from 2011 to 2012, similar figures to the 2010 to 2011, which were four and six respectively. As one might expect, the progression beyond that hasn’t been as good: just two of the non-Smiley 2010 DSL Nationals that have made it to Auburn or Hagerstown (Narciso Mesa, Wirkin Estevez). There’s hope for the last Bowden class (the 2009 DSL Nationals), which includes Estarlin Martinez, Wander Ramos, and Pedro Encarnacion.

Following the format from the past two years, let’s take a look at how the team did vs. the league averages…
HITTING (GPA = Gross Production Average)


Offensively, the DSL Nationals were the fifth-best in the DSL, with much it coming from speed — directly, in the way of stolen bases (3rd best); indirectly, in the way of doubles (2nd best). They were slightly above average in terms of walks, and slightly below in terms of strikeouts. The pitching, as you’ve probably guessed, was bad, 28th out of the 35-team DSL and the defense was league-average at .952, with the catchers throwing out 42% of the would-be thieves (vs. 38% for the league).

Using 100PA as the cutoff, here’s how the 2012 DSL Nationals broke down, with the primary player at each position listed under “G” and total games played “GP” (e.g. Raudy Read played 44 of 68 games played at catcher). Fielding percentage is for the primary position played for the starters while the bench and utility guys players have their numbers combined. Folks interested in seeing the full team and its stats can click here.

Space prohibits me from including this in the graphic, but I’ll point out that eight of the these 13 guys had OBPs that were at or above the league average. Leading the pack was speedster Rafael Bautista, who got on base at a .419 clip and led the league in stolen bases with 47. Raudy Read showed an unusual amount of power, hitting nine home runs and 16 doubles in his sophomore season. The 18-y.o. Read was one of three regulars to surpass .400 in slugging percentage, with 19-y.o. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz leading the way at .490, Read second with a .441 mark, and 17-y.o. Randy Novas a show at .421.

This brings me to the most notable name not listed here: Thomas Alvarez, an 17-year-old American who grew up in New York, presumably born to Dominican parents, and returned to the D.R. to go pro. He was signed for $40K in June and played sparingly throughout the season, putting up a line of .222/.391/.444 in 18 games. Not much else can be found, so it remains to be seen whether this is someone we’ll hear from again or whether he’ll be the 2012 version of Dionicio Rosario.

On to the pitchers, listing the Top 12 in terms of innings pitched…
As aforementioned, the pitching was substandard this year, perhaps even worse when you stop to consider that so many 20-year-olds carried the load. Maximo Valerio, who turned 17 in late July, was the bright spot with slightly better than league-average numbers in his first season. It’s hard to envision more than a couple of these pitchers making it to the GCL next season, though as stated last year, most draft gurus will caution against getting too excited about summer-league players. And I’ll repeat: This is where I’ve made a lot of my mistakes in picking players to watch, which brings us to the…

For the second straight year, my #1 picks (Diomedes Eusebio, Gilberto Mendez) moved up to the GCL. Yay! And for the second straight year, I had one of my Top 5’s get released (Rosario). Boo!

I’m very confident this will happen again, particularly among the pitchers; hence, the honorable mentions to a pair of 17-year-olds with good peripherals in tiny sample sizes. Valerio and (ugh) J-Rod get the nods because of usage and age, the rest because they’re either lefthanded (Gomez), and/or throw strikes (Silvestre), or have the earmarks of an injury gamble (Ruiz).

Top 5 Batters
1. Raudy Read
2. Randy Novas
3. Osvaldo Abreu
4. Rafael Bautista
5. Jose Marmolejos-Diaz

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Maximo Valerio
2. Hector Silvestre
3. Jefry Rodriguez
4. Elisaul Gomez
5. Raul Ruiz

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Jorge Berrio, Jonathan Aquino

Sep 282012

Not much in the way of news this week, but in yesterday’s transactions post from Baseball America, the Arizona Fall League assignments were made official:
• RHP Aaron Barrett
• RHP Paul Demny
• CF Brian Goodwin
• RHP Cole Kimball
• SS/3B Jason Martinson (taxi)
• RHP Ryan Perry
• 3B/SS Anthony Rendon
• 3B Matt Skole

The biggest change, of course, is the swapping of Christian Garcia and Cole Kimball, who has apparently healed enough from the injury that cut short his rehab tour in early to start throwing again. The 27-year-old is attempting to come back from rotator cuff surgery and could be potentially pitching to keep his spot on the 40-man roster.

When I last saw him, he looked like a shell of his previous self: his fastball like your weird uncle’s wardrobe (stuck in the 80s) and his command, which has never been mistaken for Jordan Zimmermann’s (subject of a prospect retro by John Sickels), even worse. Taking chances on hurt pitchers is what has netted the Nats pitchers like Garcia and Ryan Mattheus, though you could make the argument that Kimball was hurt in the first place when the Nats pushed him (and Adam Carr) in the AFL in the fall of 2010.

Most folks, of course, are curious regarding a rumored position switch of Anthony Rendon to second base. There are two other 2Bs on the roster of the Salt River Rafters (Tyler Bortnick, Diamondbacks; Carlos Sanchez, White Sox) and while one of them is a 25-year-old that appears to be a Rule 5 tryout (Bortnick), it’s only speculation at this point.

Matt Skole and Brian Goodwin will join Rendon as the position players assigned by Washington, with Jason Martinson serving as this year’s taxi squad player, eligible to play twice a week. Bryce Harper (2010) and Zach Walters (2011) served in this capacity over the past two fall campaigns.

Ryan Perry presumably will continue his transition to starting from relief while it appears that Paul Demny is doing the opposite, based on his removal from the Harrisburg Senators rotation in August as well as his struggles all year long (insert obligatory reference to youth and hard-throwing here). Aaron Barrett, who is not Rule 5-eligible, will continue to refine his stuff after posting a 3-2/2.09/0.92 pitcher’s line (if it doesn’t exist, then I’m coining it) with 17 saves in 2012.

The 2012 season begins on Tuesday, October 9th with Salt River hosting the Mesa Solar Sox.

Sep 232012

A little bit of a lull here, with not quite enough material for a full-fledged post or even a hold-me-over “Morning Reading.” But I’m going to be away for a few days, so I think it’s best to put something up here until I have a better news peg.

My friend Shawn attended the tour at Municipal Stadium, which is a rather bold move. Not because it’ll threaten the extension of the PDC — once Lexington signed with Kansas City, Hagerstown became the last man standing in the South Atlantic, all but ensuring that Washington will renew since it’s extremely unlikely the Nationals will leave for the Midwest League — but because it boxes them into new stadium or bust. (For those interested in some of the details of what’s known as the affiliate dance, Bluebird Banter had a story about it last week).

As we discussed earlier this year, events in Wilmington, NC and Lynchburg, VA bear watching. Wilmington has approved the lease for a new stadium, but not the means to pay for it, which goes to the voters in November. The Braves have reportedly promised to help with City of Lynchburg replace the Hillcats, which of course creates an opening. Kinston did not replace the Indians with a collegiate summer league team, so it doesn’t take too much imagination to envision a scenario where one or both of those cities could be a destination for the franchise to be moved — especially if they have two full years to work on it.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Sep 202012

For the past three seasons, a lot of the excitement of the Nationals farm system has been the presence of “generational talents” like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, and now lies in the Draft Class of 2011: Alex Meyer, Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin, Matt Purke and Kylin Turnbull, which, amusingly has been pictured on the header graphic for the Auburn Doubledays since last summer despite only one of the five ever setting foot on Falcon Field (on a rehab stint, no less).

There’s buzz about Rendon switching over to 2B during the AFL, with the not-so-subtle implication that he’ll be sending Danny Espinosa packing or to the bench. If Goodwin rakes in Arizona next month, I’d expect the same kind of talk with the more astute folks acknowledging that Eury Perez might make the club first, then step aside.

After that? It gets fuzzy fast.

The point, as I touched upon in “The State of the Nationals Farm,” is that the era of sure-fire, fast-rising replacements is coming to an end and the system is shifting gears towards (what we hope will be) producing a steady stream of players that may or may not play for Washington. Before you start scrolling down and berating me for not mentioning Alex Meyer, Nathan Karns, et al: The rules are always different when it comes to pitchers (see: Bundy, Dylan).

Which brings me to my biggest dilemma regarding the 2013 watchlist: How to handle folks that stalled or underperformed in 2012.

I made a conscious effort last year to be be more selective than in 2010, which reduced the overall number of guys from 89 to 69. A lot of this came from being more aggressive with cutting off older players, guys that were hurt, GCL gambles, and Rule 5 pickups. I still made some mistakes, particularly in the DSL, which I can live with because ignoring them entirely — as some prospect gurus would prefer, though mainly out of despair of being unable to answer questions about them — deprives us of some of the fun of being able to say “I had my eye on this guy before even he made it to Low-A,” not to mention the chance to make up a nickname like “Orange” or “For The Weekend” 😉

So while I don’t have a set number in mind, I will do my best to make sure it’s above 50 — but I’m not terribly likely to rank them 1 to 50-something since that only leads to pointless arguments about why X is #Y instead of Z.

Graduating from the 2012 Watchlist are Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, and Tyler Moore. As I wrote last year, I don’t think serves much purpose to name who’s probably going to come off the list. I’d like to think most are fairly obvious, though I have some tough choices to make for the 2013 list when it comes to pitchers coming back from surgery and/or injury. I may even need to create a new category or two (*hint*).

Sep 182012

Last week, the Nationals released the rosters for the Fall Instructional League (a.k.a. Instrux), which were broken down by pitchers and position players. Like much of the minors offseason, inferences are often drawn because the information is sparse and/or one-sided. As noted the past two years, the invites can often be categorized as follows:

1. Young
2. Changing roles or position
3. Working on a specific skill/pitch

No. 1 is, of course, relative. Nine of the 28 position players invited, for example, are 21 or younger; twelve are 23 or older. No. 2 is always interesting, especially when the player has risen to the full-season minors. Justin Miller is indeed being tried at catcher per Byron Kerr’s article on Saturday while lumbering big man Kevin Keyes is going to try to find a home at first base.

No. 3 of course is arguably the most important and obviously the most nebulous. Here, I can’t blame the club for holding its cards close to the vest, on the off chance that the weakness isn’t obvious. My guess is that this is especially true of the short-season guys where not only are sample sizes smaller, the odds of a scout having seen it are lower for the same reason. As noted two years ago, scouts aren’t keen on Instrux because the tinkering and experimenting can obscure the very things they may be looking for — a pitcher not throwing a given pitch in favor of working on another, for example.

In years past, getting an invite was a sign that the player was moving on up, but it’s not the guarantee it used to be. In 2010, all but one of the position-player invites moved up in 2011. Seven of the 2011 invitees did not. Perhaps that’s an anomaly, but I tend to think that with fewer opportunities at the top of the ladder as well as the struggles of Potomac and Harrisburg, we could see the same thing next spring. It’s become clear that the Rizzo front office has no qualms about using free agents to plug holes, even at the AA level.

Unfortunately, with no box scores released, the stories are few and far between from the FIL. There are 14 games between Friday, September 21 and Wednesday, October 10, according to this schedule I found online. We hope to have some dispatches towards the end from one of our commenters (TBRfan).

As always, I’ll do the best I can to keep the site populated until the AFL starts up. A review of the 2012 Watchlist is probably next up, and affiliation swaps are already starting to trickle out — the only drama is whether or not the Nationals will renew its PDC with Hagerstown, which is taking the unusual step of opening up Municipal Stadium to the public to demonstrate why renovation might not be an option in its quest to build a new stadium downtown.

Sep 162012

We’re in awards and accolades season now for the minors, as three Nationals farmhands were named to Baseball America’s 2012 Classification All-Stars.

Corey Brown was named as one of the AAA outfielders after posting a line of .285/.365/.523 with 25 HRs in 126 games for Syracuse. He was also named to the International League’s postseason All-Star team, and the far less prestigious “Good Bat” for Syracuse from NationalsProspects.com. Brown was acquired in a December 2010 trade with Oakland for OF Josh Willingham, along with Henry “Where’s The Strike Zone?” Rodriguez.

Matt Skole got the nod for the Low-A third baseman from the Durham, N.C.-based publication, hitting .286/.438/.574 with 27HRs in 101 games for Hagerstown and .314/.355/.486 in 18 games for Potomac. He was also the South Atlantic League MVP and 3B for its postseason All-Star team, this site’s “G” for the Suns hitters for 2012, and the Nationals Minor-League Player of the Year. Skole is a repeat customer, winning the BA accolades as the SS-A third baseman in 2011. He was the Nationals 5th Round pick in the 2011 Rule 4 draft out of Georgia Tech.

Robert Benincasa is the surprise winner as the relief pitcher of the year for short-season A with relatively modest numbers of 2-0, 3.09 with 3 saves and a WHIP of 1.29 over 23⅓ innings for the Auburn Doubledays. He’s currently in Florida for the Nationals Instructional League, and came to organization as a 7th Round Pick this past June out of Florida State.

Sep 142012

As suggested in the comments, it does appear that the Washington Nationals minor-league system is about to enter a new phase. Take a look at a lineup from earlier this week:

Werth, RF
Harper, CF
Zimmerman, 3B
LaRoche, 1B
Morse, LF
Desmond, SS
Espinosa, 2B
Suzuki, C
Gonzalez, P

Four of those nine were directly developed by Washington, two more were acquired by trades of minor leaguers — all of those six are 29 or younger. We could go up and down the roster, but I’ll cut to the chase: The D.C. nine are young, homegrown, and appear poised to begin a run for postseason glory for the next several seasons. The Nationals are starting to draw comparisons to the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians of the 1990s, which, in terms of the minors’ goal of developing major leaguers, is a pretty high compliment — never mind the simplistic, talk-radio retort of reducing that success to the number of rings won.

But enough about the top of the pyramid. You’ll get plenty more of this from the mainstream media (at least on the four days between the day before, of, and after the local NFL team plays) and the national media, which is giving the Nationals the flavor-of-the-week treatment with the Atlanta series with broadcasts on MLB Network, Fox and ESPN tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday.

There’s a lot of talk about Washington entering Phase Two, which really applies to the parent club more than the minors, in my opinion. I tend to look at the minors progression like this:

1) The Nationals go all-in on H.S. picks, start to clear out the system that had been put on autopilot in 2002
2) College picks are used heavily to fortify the ranks while the Nationals use their first-round picks to get generational talents
3) The Nationals spend heavily on the final draft before the new CBA kicks in, cash in on some of the returns of #1 and #2 for a SP
4) ???

I started to attach dates to those numbers, but there’s obviously some overlap and as you can see with #4, it’s not necessarily clear what the next progression is. I’d like to think that it means more American-born high schoolers are infused into the system, especially with the large group of 22-24-year-olds in the system, but I’ve yet to see a thoughtful analysis of how the new CBA is really affecting the HS pipeline. I doubt the knee-jerk reaction of “all the elite talent will go to college instead” will turn out to be true or even mostly true. But if the Nationals can continue their post-Smiley success with the likes of Wander Ramos and Estarlin Martinez, that might not be as big a problem as some folks fear.

What people think has been on my mind, too. The success of the parent club hasn’t engendered the kind of patience that I’ve been hoping for (and preaching). When I first stumbled upon Brian Oliver’s Nationals Farm Authority, there was a significant (and rather annoying) group of folks that were there only to advocate for the replacements of the 100-loss editions of the Washington Nationals. Thankfully they have largely gone away from sites like this, but the impatience, while muted compared to that cacophony, still echoes.

I’ve been hinting at it for some time now, but the next few years are going to be a test for fans of Washington minors. There’s been a lot of excitement because there has been a run of top-rated picks that were on their way to Washington. That flow is going to slow because there just isn’t the room at the top anymore. It doesn’t mean that the machine stops, but it should mean that expectations should be adjusted. Yes, that means more patience, but it also means a realization that some of the guys won’t make it to The Show wearing a Curly “W” — two of my favorites since this site launched, for example, now wear a Gothic “A.”

I’d like to think the organization is headed towards a mode where they continue to draft and develop talent regardless of current need. For example, Anthony Rendon and Matt Skole appear “blocked” by Ryan Zimmerman. But third base has been “taken” since 2006 and could be unavailable until 2019. But it’s foolish to assume that will happen. Players get hurt, their skills diminish, etc. The Boston Red Sox had a comparable situation 25 years ago at third base with Wade Boggs, but over the next five years his eventual replacement (Scott Cooper) and three others (John Valentin, Tim Naehring, and Jeff Bagwell) were drafted and came up to the majors, three for Boston and one for Houston in a trade that gets brought up nearly every July, and usually without mentioning all four left-side infielders.

In my opinion, a situation like that is true success in the minors — generating a steady stream of players that can play in the majors. It might not be all for the parent club, but if an organization creates depth it can keep the players it needs, and deal the ones it doesn’t. Plus, as we’ve seen all year long, doing this enables a team to withstand some injuries and build a bench that can fill in and push the starters.

What remains to be seen is whether the Nationals can do this without the benefit of top draft picks, which was a sneer about Tampa Bay when the Rays made a similar, sudden ascent in 2008. It wasn’t true then and the success since has further proven that knock wrong.

Without spoiling too much of the forthcoming season reviews, it does seem that organization’s strength has shifted from developing pitchers to developing position players. In that respect, the comparison to the Braves falls woefully short. But it’s also not uncommon — a lot of organizations have this dilemma.
As Earl Weaver famously said: “Nobody likes to hear it, because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same — pitching.”

The trick, of course, is to figure out how to get the mojo back on producing arms while continuing to produce the bats. I suspect that’s what we’ll be discussing a lot over the winter.

Sep 132012

Continuing where we left off yesterday, here’s the rundown of the position players that will participate in the Florida Instructional League, a.k.a. “Instrux.”

Player Pos. Age 2012 Team(s) 2011 Invite Notes
Spencer Kieboom C 21 AUB N 5th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Clemson, Kieboom was touted as a glove-first, bat-second backstop but surprised on both counts with 9PBs and .362OBP, plus a knack for hitting with RISP.
Craig Manuel C 22 AUB N 10th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Rice, where he was a three-year starter, Manuel split time with Kieboom and produced very similar numbers. Not a lot of power, but bats lefthanded and makes contact.
Adrian Nieto C 22 GCL, HAG Y Power and patience both dipped from ’11 to ’12 in his third season with the Suns, but a career-high 78 games played.
Raudy Read C 18 DSL Y Made strong improvements in offense in his second DSL season (.493 OPS to .765).
Pedro Severino C 19 GCL Y Repeated the GCL with slight improvement to offensive production and moderately better defensive numbers.
Wilmer Difo SS 20 GCL Y Two-time watchlister but first-time at instrux, Difo repeated the GCL without much statistical improvement.
Cutter Dykstra 2B-SS 23 HAG N Rebounded from poor showing at High-A in ’11 but returned to Low-A to do it, though he showed much better judgment on the basepaths.
Ricky Hague SS-2B 23 HAG N Offensively very streaky, but proved the doubters wrong about his ability to handle 2B, adding to his versatility.
Jeff Kobernus 2B 24 HBG Y Was on pace to match or beat his ’11 production in nearly every category before a pitch to the ribcage ended his season.
Mike McQuillan UT 22 GCL, AUB N 33rd Rd. Pick in ’12 out Univ. of Iowa, McQuillan hit his way out of the GCL and was Auburn’s leadoff man at season’s end.
Stephen Perez SS 21 GCL, AUB N Injuries limited the 8th Rd. Pick in ’12 out Univ. of Miami to just 28 games and could force a repeat at Auburn.
Shawn Pleffner 1B 23 AUB N Injuries delayed the debut of the Nats 26th-Rd. Pick in ’11 until this year, when he became an NYPL All-Star for Auburn.
Tony Renda 2B 21 AUB N 2nd Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Univ. of California, the knee-jerk comp is to Dustin Pedroia though he’s yet to show that kind of power.
Adrian Sanchez 2B 22 POT Y Gave up switch-hitting and finished the season strong, but needs to work on his defense and baserunning
Matt Skole 3B 23 HAG, POT Y Like Aaron Barrett, Skole is in Viera for some fine-tuning before heading out to Arizona for the AFL.
Zach Walters SS 23 POT, HBG, SYR Y Walters hit well at A+ and AA and struggled some at AAA, but the next challenge is cutting down the E’s (29).
Billy Burns OF 23 HAG Y Learned to switch-hit last fall, and improved his production across the board in ’12.
Destin Hood OF 22 AUB, HBG Y Injuries curtailed his 2012 after a breakout 2011 season, nearly a sure bet to repeat AA.
Hayden Jennings OF 19 GCL Y 6th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Evangel Christian Academy HS in L.A., Jennings is generally praised for his speed and defense, but is a project with the bat.
Kevin Keyes OF 23 POT Y Tremendous power, serviceable defense, but whether he can learn to hit for average and cut down the K’s are the big questions for ’13.
Estarlin Martinez 1B-OF 20 AUB Y Martinez appears to be settling into LF but still plays 1B, which is progress because most folks are worried about the D, not the O.
Narciso Mesa OF 20 AUB Y Made a quantum leap on offense, albeit in a small sample of 31 games going from .559OPS to .791OPS.
Brandon Miller OF 22 AUB N A catcher in college, but strictly played OF for Auburn, where injuries limited the 4th Rd. pick in ’12 out of Samford to just 29 games.
Justin Miller OF 23 HAG N Miller earned a watchlist spot with a strong ’11 in Auburn, but the production fell off in his first full season.
Randolph Oduber OF 23 POT Y Oduber has the tools in the outfield, but has struggled to stay healthy enough to play there consistently the past two seasons after terrific debut in 2010.
Caleb Ramsey OF 23 HAG Y A ‘tweener that continues to pleasantly surprise, developing some pop while slicing his K rate nearly in half.
Steven Souza OF 23 HAG, POT Y Despite another position change (1B to OF), the longtime farmhand broke out in ’12 with career highs in nearly every offensive category, finishing 3rd in the organization with 23HRs.
Michael Taylor OF 21 POT Y Taylor faded in August, but showed flashes of brilliance on both offense and defense in his second full season in the outfield.