It is early and top prospects are adjusting, like Bryce Harper and his current .222/.276/.333 slash in Triple-A, while guys you’ve possibly never heard of are posting some eye-popping numbers. Here is a look at some of those guys performing well early on.
Brad Miller, SS, Mariners, High-A
.371/.463/.914, 13 for 35, 12 R, 3 2B, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 9/6 K/BB
Miller is a lefty swinging college bat out of Clemson. He is playing the whole season at the age of 22, and he should be advanced and hitting well, but the California League may result in Miller becoming a legend. Miller is now hitting .398 in 88 professional at bats, so he is someone to monitor this year, even if he has Nick Franklin ahead of him in the Mariners system at short.
Alen Hanson, 2B, Pirates, Low-A
.412/.474/.824, 14 for 34, 11 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 6/4 K/BB
Henson is a long way off, but he has a solid eye and solid speed, while seemingly spraying the ball all over the field. He is a switch hitter and he looks like he could be a potential leadoff hitter for the Bucs down the road. Neil Walker is under team control until 2017, but if he becomes too expensive through arbitration, Pittsburgh could toss the job Henson’s way in 2015.
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins, Low-A
1-0, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11 IP, 5 H, 18/4 K/BB
Fernandez is a known name as the Marlins first round pick from 2011. The youngster from Cuba is a high upside arm that turns 20 in July. He could be a fast mover in the Marlins system, especially if he keeps pitching like he has in his first two starts.
Cody Buckel, RHP, Rangers, High-A
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 10 IP, 4 H, 16/3 K/BB
Buckel has only thrown 111 2/3 innings but he now has a 145/31 K/BB. He is another chip in an absolutely loaded Rangers system. He’ll be 20 in June, but he seems to be picking up where he left off from last season when he posted a 2.61 ERA and 120/27 K/BB 23 games (17 starts).
Andrew Chafin, RHP, Diamondbacks, High-A
2-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 11 IP, 5 H, 18/2 K/BB
The California League eats pitchers for breakfast, so when a guy dominates there, like Tyler Skaggs did last year, you need to take notice. Chafin is a college arm, so he’ll be 22 this year, and he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed the entire season. The Kent State product was the 43rd pick in the 2011 draft and he does seem to have the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, with a plus fastball and slider. If he develops his change, he could become much more.
A.J. Griffin, RHP, Athletics, Double-A
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.36 WHIP, 11 IP, 2 H, 16/2 K/BB
Griffin is 24, a 2010 13th round pick out of San Diego by the A’s. In 2011, Griffin pitched at four levels, finishing with an 11-7 record, 3.47 ERA, 160 2/3 innings pitched, and a 156/32 K/BB. Not overly impressive until you look at his splits. He was impressive early on, posting a 9-3 record, 2.71 ERA, 122 2/3 innings pitched, and 128/19 K/BB between 20 Low-A and High-A starts. He didn’t fare as well at the higher levels (2-4, 5.92 ERA), which is why he’s back in Double-A this year. He has solid breaking stuff and very good control, so he could be a back-end starter, possibly a Joe Blanton-like innings eater.