Minor League Baseball Update - Minor League All-Stars
This column will run every Monday, and will focus on minor leagues. I also hope to answer your questions, as many as I can, in this weekly column. Please send your questions to the email address at the bottom, and I will do my best to answer them.
Since we did not have the email address up till this week I will focus on minor leaguers in this abbreviated column.
It is the time of year for All-Star Games, at least in the low minors. So, I wanted to take the time to point out some of the top fantasy performers from the first half in Low-A at each position.
C Jesus Montero – Yankees (Charleston) 19 Y/O
.309 AVG. / 7 HR / 47 RBI / 44 R / 1 SB
Catcher was the closest race in the Sally League. Jonathan Lucroy has had a huge first half, but Montero wins out due to being three years younger. Montero is the catcher of the future for the Yankees. He has improved considerably this year and should be ready to take over the catching duties for the Yanks when Jorge Posada’s contract ends after 2010.
1B Frederick Freeman – Braves (Rome) 19 Y/O
.289 / 9 / 48 / 30 / 2
First Base was one of the weaker positions for long-term fantasy value in the Sally League. Freeman beats out Miles Durham based on age and Angel Villalona based on performance (though Villalona still projects as the better bet long-term).
2B Everth Cabrera – Rockies (Asheville) 21 Y/O
.288 / 3 / 22 / 48 / 47
Cabrera has come from out of nowhere to be one of the biggest reasons for the Tourists outstanding success. He swiped 47 bases while only being caught 6 times. Cabrera may or may not develop into more than a utility infielder, but he has one thing going for him, you cannot teach speed.
SS Yamaico Navarro – Red Sox (Greenville) 20 Y/O
.290 / 6 / 42 / 38 / 2
Short was another fairly weak position in the Sally that came down to age. Navarro I a solid offensive player that the Sox hope will develop into a more significant run producer. Navarro may have to learn to hit enough to man 2B since the Sox already have Jed Lowrie ahead of him at Short.
3B Darin Holcomb – Rockies (Asheville) 22 Y/O
.331 / 9 / 53 / 44 / 5
Holcomb is another Tourist player that has had a great first half. Holcomb is also another fringe prospect just because of his advanced age. However, if he continues to hit he may still prove to be an asset for the Rockies down the road.
LF Michael Taylor – Phillies (Clearwater) 22 Y/O
.361 / 10 / 50 / 40 / 10
Taylor has been simply spectacular the first half. He is not considered a top prospect due to his age, but he is very advanced at the plate. To go along with his league leading average he also has a .441 OBP. The Phillies are set with Pat Burrell in left, but if Taylor can handle a likely second half promotion he could be a valuable trade piece.
CF Michael Mitchell – Rockies (Asheville) 22 Y/O
.319 / 3 / 27 / 49 / 28
Mitchell is another traditional leadoff hitter. He hits for a good average, solid OBP, and a 28/4 stealing to caught stealing ratio. Another prospect who is a little old for the Sally League. He may still develop, but for now he looks like a solid fourth outfielder.
RF Jason Heyward – Braves (Rome) 19 Y/O
.329 / 7 / 31 / 48 / 10
The jewel of the Sally League, Heyward is one of the top ten prospects in baseball. A true five-tool player he looks to have a long and outstanding future in the Braves OF.
Right-handed Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin – Rockies (Asheville) 20 Y/O
/ 1.98 ERA / 104.2 IP / 93/28 SO/BB / 1.01 WHIP
Chacin has been one of the best pitchers at any level this year. He has been nothing short of dominant. The Rockies hope Chacin will develop into a dominant right-hander in the new more pitcher friendly Coors Field, and he is well on his way to fulfilling their hopes.
Left-handed Pitcher Madison Bumgarner – Giants (Augusta) 18 Y/O
/ 1.96 / 64.1 / 74/10 / .98
Bumgarner was one of two pitchers taken at the top of the Giants draft in 2007. He is a hard-throwing lefty who has been almost as dominant as Chacin. He projects as a top of the rotation starter in a great pitchers park for the Giants.
Relief Pitcher Dan Otero – Giants (Augusta) 23 Y/O
/ .33 / 27.0 / 26/4 / .96 / 18 SV
Otero has been dominant in the first half. While there are several strong relievers in the Sally League Otero’s .33 ERA is just too strong to pass up. He has a chance to help the Giants bullpen sometime next year.
C Jordan Newton – Tigers (Western Michigan) 22 Y/O
.313 / 2 / 25 / 21 / 4
Catcher is the weakest position in the Midwest. Newton is the best of a bad bunch, and his career is as most likely a backup at best.
1B Ian Gac – Rangers (Clinton) 22 Y/O
.300 / 17 / 52 / 46 / 1
Gac is a big-time power prospect. The Rangers are loaded with prospects at first after drafting Justin Smoak in the first round. Gac is probably going to need a trade in order to get a chance. However, if he gets in the right situation he has 30+ homer potential one day.
2B Eddie Colina – Mariners (Wisconsin) 20 Y/O
.290 / 1 / 26 / 32 / 5
Colina is one of the better young players in the Midwest League. He has solid offensive upside and is at a premium position. Seattle is getting close to needing to rebuild and Colina could be a significant piece of their future plans if he continues to develop.
SS Renny Osuna – Rangers (Clinton) 22 Y/O
.359 / 3 / 41 / 50 / 8
Osuna is a very good hitter with excellent on-base skills. The Rangers hope is that he will develop into a solid number two hitter. He needs to continue to develop, but even at 22 he still has time.
3B Brandon Waring – Reds (Dayton) 22 Y/O
.270 / 13 / 43 / 38 / 1
Waring can hit for power at any level. The question is whether or not he will have the on-base skills to make it as a major leaguer. Juan Fransisco has already passed him, so he probably needs a trade to have a chance.
LF Andrew Lambo – Dodgers (Great Lakes) 20 Y/O
.291 / 8 / 46 / 32 / 0
Lambo has been one of the biggest risers in the first half of this year. He has solid offensive upside for both average and power. The offensively starved Dodgers could use a player like Lambo if he can continue to develop.
CF Ben Revere – Twins (Beloit) 20 Y/O
.413 / 1 / 26 / 31 / 10
Revere is a player the Twins are counting on to develop. He is not traditional leadoff hitter because he lacks outstanding speed (though scouts said the same thing about Jacoby Ellsbury.) However, he can flat out hit, and should develop into an excellent player and a solid fantasy contributor.
RF Moises Sierra – Blue Jays (Lansing) 20 Y/O
.273 / 6 / 24 / 31 / 10
Sierra has a chance to be an excellent all-around player if he develops. He is solid at an age appropriate to the Midwest League. If he continues to develop and his on-base skills get better I see as an Alex Rios type, which the Blue Jays could dearly use.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Craig Italiano – A’s (Kane County) 23 Y/O
/ 1.09 / 66.0 / 76/32 / 1.11
Italiano is another prospect that is slightly above the preferred age for a player at Low-A, but numbers do not lie. He has the potential to make an impact for the A’s down the road. More than likely he will be a middle-reliever for the A’s, because they are loaded with far better starting pitching prospects that are more advanced. Italiano’s hope of remaining a starter all the way to the majors probably would rest on a trade.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Jonathan Kibler – Tigers (Western Michigan) 22 Y/O
/ 2.17 / 74.2 / 64/14 / .76
Kibler has been dominant in every major pitching stat except ERA, where he has been merely outstanding. Kibler is a solid pitching prospect that projects as a back of the rotation starter but could end up a middle-reliever. He will probably be able to help the Tigers down the road, and I would expect it to be in a greater capacity than as a lefty specialist.
Relief Pitcher Cody Crowell – Blue Jays (Lansing) 22 Y/O
/ 1.22 / 37.0 / 58/16 / 9 SV
Crowell could move up in the second half and the Jays hope he can establish himself further. He is a lefty with overpowering stuff. Crowell is the rare type of left-handed reliever who can dominate batters from both sides of the plate, as his strikeout numbers would attest. He draws comparisons to Billy Wagner, and the Jays hope he can become that type of reliever.
That does it for our wrap up of the Low-A mid-season players of the year at each position. It is an unusually weak year offensively for the level, with very few top-tier talents performing to their ability. Josh Vitters (Cubs), Justin Jackson (Blue Jays), Andrew Cumberland (Padres), Mike Moustakas (Royals), and Joe Benson (Twins), are failing to perform up to expectations. The leagues make up for it somewhat with a good deal of players who have very high ceilings, but only Ben Revere and Jason Heyward fall anywhere near the “Can’t Miss” label with the bat. The pitching side has a few top tier prospects, led by Madison Bumgarner and Jhoulys Chacin who have the chance to be top of the rotation pitchers.