30 Shades of Hot: Take Notice of These Scorching Players

Over the last month, some players have inflated their production to incredible levels. With all of the excitement from the NBA and NHL Playoffs, the Supreme Court, and…the Women’s World Cup…perhaps you’ve missed it. Below are some players who are getting back on track or having career seasons.

Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt for MVP?  Courtesy: USA Today
Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt for MVP?
Courtesy: USA Today

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Last 30 days: .394/.525/.713, 6 2B, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 15:27 K:BB, 5 SB

You could argue that Goldschmidt has been the best player in MLB this season, even though he ranks 3rd in WAR (4.3) behind the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (5.1) and the Indians’ Jason Kipnis (4.6). Goldy has compiled a .354/.473/.654 line to go along with 15 doubles, 20 home runs, 60 RBI, and a league-leading 59 walks (17 intentional). While the Diamondbacks sit at 35-37, they are just 4.5 games out of the Wild Card hunt. Goldschmidt will continue to be pitched around as the primary source of fear within the Arizona lineup.

Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Last 30 days: .354/.381/.770, 14 2B, 11 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB

Frazier is the Reds’ Ambassador for the upcoming All-Star Game in Cincinnati, utilizing his friendly personality and love of Frank Sinatra to become a beloved figure in Reds Country. He is becoming a beloved figure around baseball, especially fantasy circles, due to his incredible power outburst over the last month. Frazier has been the 4th most valuable position player in baseball (based on WAR, 4.1), as he has become an asset not only for his bat, but his slick glove at the hot corner.

Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

Last 30 days: .333/.416/.818, 3 2B, 15 HR, 30 RBI, 5:13 K:BB

“Prince Albert” has found the stroke that made him such a force in his Hall of Fame worthy time in St. Louis. After averaging “just” 25 home runs, 91 RBI, and an .810 OPS in his first three seasons for the Angels, many thought the days of 40 home runs, 121 RBI, and 1.037 OPS, his average year in 11 seasons with the Cardinals, were long gone. Pujols currently leads the AL in bombs (23), and will continue to be a part of the two-man wrecking crew that the Angels have with him and Mike Trout in the order.

Giants' 2B Joe Panik - career year or start of something special?  Courtesy: goldengatesports.com
Giants’ 2B Joe Panik – career year or start of something special?
Courtesy: goldengatesports.com

Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants

Last 30 days: .336/.405/.542, 10 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 12:12 K:BB, 2 SB

Panik likely wasn’t on your list of players who could post a .300/.400/.500 season, but he has been that player over the last month, and very good over the entire season. Panik’s .310/.380/.463 line, 19 doubles, six home runs, and 141 wRC+ (2nd among second basemen in MLB) aren’t all that different from his .296/.365/.403 line over his minor league career, yet, he has nearly reached each of his season-long projections that were set forth by Steamer and ZiPS. His 2.8 WAR has allowed him to show more value than the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Kolten Wong, Brian Dozier, and Jose Altuve. Panik was a first round pick out of St. John’s University in 2011. At just 24, he has shown himself to be quite productive, and, if all else fails, he has a slick glove at second.

Justin Turner, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Last 30 days: .361/.418/.639, 6 2B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 11:7 K:BB

Based on 190 plate appearances, Turner is the 15th most valuable position player in MLB (2.9 WAR). He is having an excellent month, while continuing to shine in the opportunities that he is provided, which are coming in bunches since the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe. While Corey Seager continues to mash in the minors, it is likely Jimmy Rollins at short who is more likely to be replaced than the do-it-all Turner. A career .260/.323/.361 hitter over his first five seasons (2009-2013, 926 plate appearances), the 30-year-old third baseman has hit .334/.400/.526 triple-slash over 512 plate appearances since the start of the 2014 season, with 33 doubles and 17 home runs.

Yovani Gallardo, RHP, Texas Rangers

Last 30 days: 2-0, five starts, 0.87 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 31 IP, 26:10 K:BB, .193 BAA

Gallardo looked like a lost cause early this season, posting a 4.05 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in his first five starts for the Rangers. With the way that the ball flies out of Arlington, it was only a matter of time before the Mexican hurler’s numbers would look even worse. However, that hasn’t been the case. Since May 1st, Gallardo has a 2.51 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 61 innings, including his impressive run of starts over the last 30 days. While the velocity and strikeout totals continue to dip, Gallardo is finding more success by cutting back on his curve and increasing the use of his slider and change. We’ll see if he can continue to stay hot as Texas heats up.

Braves' RHP Williams Perez - will the league catch up to him?  Courtesy: foxsports.com
Braves’ RHP Williams Perez – will the league catch up to him?
Courtesy: foxsports.com

Williams Perez, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Last 30 days: 4-0, six games (five starts), 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1 save, 32 IP, 20:15 K:BB, .219 BAA

Who? Unranked by Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com prior to the season, the 24-year-old has moved quickly through the Atlanta system since reaching full season ball in 2013. He jumped to Triple-A to start the season and made five starts before joining the Braves bullpen. He made all of two appearances before he joined the rotation – minus a random save opportunity on June 13th. In his seven starts, Perez has a 2.14 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. While the walks would need to come down for him to become a more valuable option, Perez has youth and results on his side to this point.

Nate Karns, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Last 30 days: 1-1, six games (six starts), 2.65 ERA 1.26 WHIP, 34 IP, 31:12 K:BB, .238 BAA

Karns has stepped up to take on a major role while the Rays battle health issues that have landed Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, and Drew Smyly on the disabled list for extended time this season and Matt Moore continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old late bloomer, drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, had shown some impressive strikeout skills in the minors (10.3 K:9 over 449.1 minor league innings), but, though he hasn’t reached those numbers to this point, he has certainly shown that he can get major league hitters out. Over 15 starts, Karns has a 3.28 ERA and 1.22 WHIP to go along with his 8.2 K:9. The Rays continue to have a process to maintain success, even after losing Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers from their front office. Karns, acquired by Friedman and Company in February of 2014, looks like a solid, long-term option for the Rays.

 

 

 

 

2015 Season Previews: San Francisco Giants

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

San Francisco Giants

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 84-78 (3rd in NL West, 9th in MLB)

Manager: Bruce Bochy (667-629 in eight seasons with San Francisco, 1,618-1,604 in 20 seasons overall)

Top Three Players: C Buster Posey (6.1), LHP Madison Bumgarner (3.5), 1B Brandon Belt (3.3)

Bounce-back Player: RHP Matt Cain

Since the start of the 2013 season, Cain has gone 10-17 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 274.2 innings and 45 starts. Over the previous four seasons, Cain had gone 55-35 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 882 innings and 131 starts. The last two seasons, Cain has been on the disabled list four times and he has had two surgeries (bone chips removed from his right elbow and right ankle surgery to remove bone spurs). He was never on the disabled list prior to the 2013 season. Some people may think that the 30-year-old right-hander will be a bust after signing his mega-extension, but Cain has had some bad luck the last two seasons with his health, and he has still shown an ability to keep the opposition off the bases, despite the inflated ERA. Look for Cain to be a solid 1B to Bumgarner’s 1A as he returns to form in 2015.

Susac has the tools to be a big producer...if he gets a shot Courtesy: USA Today
Susac has the tools to be a big producer…if he gets a shot
Courtesy: USA Today

Fantasy Player to Watch: C Andrew Susac

Even with Brandon Belt at first base, it doesn’t seem like a smart investment to have your best player at such a vulnerable position in the midst of a nine-year, $164 million contract. For that reason, and that fact that Belt would be an offensive upgrade in a corner over Gregor Blanco, you should keep an eye on Susac, a second round pick in 2011 out of Oregon State. Susac is a slugger with solid on-base skills, while providing a strong arm and solid, but not elite, defense behind the dish. While he is unlikely to log 400 at-bats in San Francisco, possibly even 200 in 2015, there will come a time when Susac is catching and Posey will be manning first base or another position, and this 25-year-old will be worth rostering.

Offseason Overview: The defending world champions lost their star third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, to the Boston Red Sox via free agency, but they did sign OF Nori Aoki and 3B Casey McGehee…Is that enough? The Giants held tight across the board, and they hope to survive with their very good rotation until Hunter Pence returns from his broken forearm to help the offense score some runs. Why fix what has been working? Sandoval was good but not great, and they’ll benefit from the on-base skills from Aoki at the top of the order. That was a sneak-good signing, and the pitching is still there to be competitive.

The Verdict: Well, it isn’t an even year, so the Giants can be written off as champions, since they’ve won in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Maybe next year, they can continue on with their pattern. The 2015 season will be quite interesting. They’ll hope to get some value out of the two-year, $35 million deal they gave Tim Lincecum after his horrific 2012 and 2013 seasons, and they’ll look for continued dominance by Bumgarner, who had one of the most historical performances in baseball history down the stretch and in the playoffs last season. The Giants continue to coast with what they have, adding aging pieces in areas of need, continuing to watch Posey and Pence carry a very average (or worse) group of hitters. If they were able to add something more than what they did this winter, perhaps they could have been capable of repeating, but they’ll settle into the middle of the NL West with another above .500 record, preparing to pounce on some free agents after the 2015 season.

Time for a Change

It is time for the Cincinnati Reds to a make a change. Dusty Baker needs to go.

On the heels of another postseason defeat, one in which Baker’s decision-making was quite questionable, this is the time to make a change.

Baker2Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty said that “He’s signed for another year,” but he also said, “we’ll sit down in the next couple of weeks and evaluate and try to see what we can do to improve things.” What seems like a vote of confidence is sort of a broad, vague, we’ll have to see type of statement.

Certainly, the Dusty Baker-era in Cincinnati hasn’t been terrible. The team has made the postseason three of the last four seasons, winning 90 or more games in those three seasons; however, in three of Baker’s six seasons, the Reds have had losing seasons. Does Baker have what it takes to get this club over the hump?

The issue with Baker is that he can’t separate himself from his players. He seems to enjoy being the cool dad figure in the clubhouse, focusing so much on the relationships that he overlooks the obvious. Like this:

The problem with this statement is that Baker can’t get into Johnny Cueto’s head. Does Cueto really thrive in playoff environments? I guess this is Baker’s proof: Cueto had started two games in the playoffs in his career prior to last night and he had a 1.69 ERA. The only problem is that he lasted all of 1/3 of an inning before he was removed from last season’s NLDS start against the San Francisco Giants with an injury, and his only other start was a five inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. Was Cueto the answer as the starter in the one-game playoff?  Nevermind the 130 days that Cueto spent on the DL this season. Nevermind that Mike Leake was available and he didn’t pitch on Tuesday, despite being 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA over four starts against the Pirates in 2013. Baker went with his horse, Cueto, who had pitched all of 12 inning since June 28.  It isn’t as if Dusty Baker is very aware of the use of statistics, instead flying by the seat of his pants to make decisions. “All I know is that my eyes see plays and see things that save games,” this was a quote from Baker when discussing Darwin Barney and Brandon Phillips as Gold Glove worthy second basemen from the Chicago Sun Times; however, his eyes didn’t seem to save him on Tuesday night.

 More importantly:

Bonds1Baker may be respected across the game for his leadership, but he has only led one team to a World Series, and that was in 2002, in his 20 years as a Major League manager. One could even question whether Baker actually makes any decisions that have led to success. After all:

Great players don’t always make great teams, but it certainly helps. Does anyone out there think that the Oakland A’s would have won the AL West this season with Baker at the helm?

Regardless of where Baker could or should have been, he doesn’t belong in Cincinnati going forward.

The Reds have a window with their current club, the 2015 season (after which Mat Latos, Cueto, Ryan Ludwick, Sean Marshall, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon are free agents) likely it, and after the club lost the final six games of the season, including the Wild Card game against Pittsburgh, while showing very little effort in losing twice to the New York Mets before being swept in a three-game series at home against the Pirates to end the regular season, it is fair to wonder if Baker has the leadership skills necessary to motivate the Reds to play hard and get over the hump.

When Ryan Ludwick questioned the fans and their effort last week as a way to spin the Reds’ apparent lack of motivation, saying:

“I might be be calling (fans) out. But I’m calling them out in a positive way. We want loud and energetic. It’s like a natural Red Bull. We need every positive aspect we can to keep this thing going.’’

You’re telling me that in the middle of a playoff race, men playing a game and making millions of dollars can’t motivate themselves? There was no one stepping up and saying anything to fire the group of men up within the clubhouse?

This isn’t just a one-time call as a Cincinnati native, overreacting to the failure of another lost season. This is a continuation of failures that continue to go unnoticed by so many. All of the times that Ryan Hanigan started over Devin Mesoraco. All of the times that the No.2 spot and No.4 spots were juggled. All of the times that Jay Bruce and Joey Votto were split up in the lineup because they’re both left-handed, instead of utilizing their skills back-to-back in the middle of the order. All of the times that Aroldis Chapman would pitch three or four days in a row and then not pitch for a week. It has been apparent for some time that this wasn’t working.

BakerThe Cincinnati Reds lack leadership and it all starts with the manager. Look how far the Cleveland Indians have gone this season with Terry Francona taking the reigns. Ignoring numbers and flying by the seat of your pants in decision-making leads to tremendous failure, and that is the way that 95-percent of teams have finished their seasons when Dusty Baker has managed them. While intelligent managers like Joe Maddon adapt to the changing game, Dusty Baker allows his teams to fade, he loses leads, and he has no true way of defining how he can make a difference as a leader. If you throw enough crap at a wall, eventually some of it will stick.

It’s time for the crap to leave Cincinnati. It’s time for an intelligent leader. Fire Dusty Baker.

What If: ARod Ruined MLB’s 2013 Season?

This.

Alex  RodriguezSure, it’s a home run in a game that may appear meaningless, but every game that Alex Rodriguez plays in 2013 that helps the New York Yankees in any way could destroy the integrity of the entire 2013 Major League Baseball season.

After Rodriguez broke Gehrig’s grand slam record, the Yankees went on to beat the San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum 5-1 on Friday night in New York. The Bronx Bombers are now 22-18 (.550) with Alex Rodriguez after going 59-55 (.518) without him, and depending on the results of the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers games tonight, the Yankees could be just 2.5 games out of the Wild Card after tonight.

Of course, the Yankees have had a little help late this season, getting solid production from Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano in the second half, but Rodriguez and his seven home runs, 18 RBI, and 126 wRC+ shouldn’t be ignored, it is certainly more productivity than they were getting from their other third basemen, who combined to post a gross .208/.251/.283 line over 453 at-bats while compiling just 128 total bases in 114 games. Rodriguez has 56 total bases in 40 games and 142 at-bats.

The Yankees have a lot of teams to catch and with two games against the Giants, three against the Rays, and three against the Houston Astros, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could make a last minute push to playoff pay dirt.

But should Alex Rodriguez have been responsible for any of those wins, which he clearly has been, then how can Major League Baseball and Bud Selig sleep at night?

The information that the league apparently has against Rodriguez and the BioGenesis investigation was enough to suspend him through the 2014 season, but after allowing an appeal, which was necessary with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the league was forced to allow him to play until the appeal could be heard. Considering the resources that are available to the league, contacting and solidifying an arbitrator for a hearing was within reason well before today…hell, the league should have been on the phone and had a hearing set roughly ten minutes after the suspension was handed out on August 5.

After watching Matt Kemp lose out on the NL MVP in 2011 due to another BioGenesis product, Ryan Braun, and all of the hoopla surrounding Braun’s bastardizing of the entire process and system that goes along with testing and collection, MLB can’t afford another player impacting the validity of a 162-game marathon due to their impression on the outcome of 40 to 50 games that they shouldn’t have been a part of to begin with…not when it is a single player, who could have easily just been suspended.

SeligAlex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds have tarnished the record books with their use of performance-enhancing drugs, but the players who don’t have enough personal worth to be successful with their own god-given gifts don’t have to be capable of making it all about them forever. Selig should have manned up weeks ago for the integrity of the game. Alex Rodriguez shouldn’t play another game in 2013 and his suspension should be upheld immediately because you can’t go back in time to fix something that has already happened. Winning 22 games with Alex Rodriguez in the lineup or acknowledging any of the 21 runs that he has scored this season are already examples of opposing teams being wronged by a policy, a policy maker,  and a player that don’t have the testicular fortitude to do what is right for the game that they are there to serve, protect, and love.

Either be consistent by upholding a policy that was put in place to protect the integrity of the game or allow the league to be pushed over by the strongest players union in professional sports. You can’t really have it both ways. If Selig wants to change things, he needs to get Rodriguez off the field immediately.

Get to Know: Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts2The Boston Red Sox called up their top prospect, shortstop (or future third baseman, depending on who you ask) Xander Bogaerts. The slugging infielder is getting the call as Boston has limped through August, going 8-9 heading into Monday night’s game in San Francisco, the day after finishing off a four-hour marathon against the New York Yankees in Boston. There isn’t much that can help a team going across the country without much time for rest, but if anything can spark the Red Sox, it is one of the game’s premier prospects.

At the age of 20, Xander Bogaerts has established himself as one of the top sluggers in the minors, and the fact that he can handle shortstop is what makes him an even more intriguing item. The last two seasons have been outstanding for the Aruba-born, prospect:

Year Age Tm Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 19 2 Teams A+-AA BOS 127 532 476 71 146 37 3 20 81 5 44 106 .307 .373 .523 .896 249
2013 20 2 Teams AAA-AA BOS 116 515 444 72 132 23 6 15 67 7 63 95 .297 .388 .477 .865 212
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2013.

Bogaerts3The plan is for Bogaerts to play three to four times per week, sharing time at third base and shortstop, likely becoming a regular against left-handers at short, with Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew. Bogaerts’ improved approach at the plate this season, even through his advancement into Double and Triple-A, shows a lot of maturity, and while he is unlikely to become Miguel Cabrera, who was a shortstop in his earliest years within the Marlins’ system, he could make a very similar impact to what Manny Machado provided for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, only likely more offensive-minded improvements for the Saux than defensively.

Solid gap power, a lineup full of veterans, and very little pressure in becoming “THE GUY” right away could lead to a pretty impressive introduction to the majors for Bogaerts. He is definitely a player to watch over the rest of the season and if you weren’t familiar with his name already, you’ve probably been in a coma and we’re all glad that you’re doing better.

My Prediction:

Bogaerts is going to be a superstar, especially if he stays at shortstop. He has impressive power and a solid approach that will allow him to post All-Star caliber numbers from an up-the-middle position; however, he isn’t going to be a true masher like Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. Think 20-25 home runs in his best seasons but with over 30 doubles and an OPS over .840. Even moving to third base, Bogaerts is a star.

This is a special talent and there is a reason why he wasn’t included in any deals at the deadline. The Red Sox new management will be hanging onto this type of talent going forward, creating a new group of “idiots” to compete in the AL East. With Mike Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury headed towards free agency, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Bogaerts become a fixture in the heart of the order when spring training breaks next season.

For fantasy nerds, he needs to be snatch up immediately in all leagues and if you’re in a keeper league, he’s been long gone and the next several weeks will only make it harder to acquire him.

Bogaerts1Enjoy the future of the Boston Red Sox.

 

Lincecum-ing Around?

Lincecum2Tim Lincecum won back-to-back Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009 and was an All-Star four consecutive seasons (2008-2011), but in 2012, it all fell apart. Two things happened in 2012:

1) Lincecum was getting big-time money in the first year of a two-year, $40.5 million contract (he did earn $14 million through arbitration in 2011), and…

2) Lincecum’s fastball dropped from 92.3 miles per hour in 2011 to 90.4 miles per hour in 2012 (FanGraphs)

We could add that a third thing happened, as well: Lincecum was absolutely lit up, as he posted a 5.18 ERA over 186 innings and 33 starts before being relegated to a relief role (where he pitched very well) in the postseason. He had just 13 quality starts in his 33 tries (39 percent) and his home run rate, which had never been higher than 9.9 percent, ballooned all the way up to 14.6 percent.

The first two months (11 starts) were about the same for “The Freak” in 2013, as he posted a 5.12 ERA over 65 innings, with just three quality starts. However, something changed in June.

Since June 1, Lincecum has started 12 games and posted a 3.35 ERA and eight quality starts, including a no-hitter on July 13 against San Diego. If you take away his start against Cincinnati the next time out, when he allowed eight runs in just 3.2 innings, due to Lincecum throwing 148 pitches in his no-hitter, his ERA would have been just 2.54.

Lincecum’s strikeout rate has improved, as he has an 82:22 K:BB in 78 innings over this time, a 9.46 K/9 rate, and after having just one double-digit strikeout game in 2012, he has three this season, all in the month of July. While his strikeout rate, even when he was struggling in 2012, never dropped below 9.00 over 9 innings, it is fair to wonder if Lincecum has learned how to pitch with the stuff that he has now as opposed to trying to overpower the opposition with a weaker fastball.

Lincecum1As recently as July 13, there were reports that Lincecum could have been traded to the Detroit Tigers and converted into a reliever, which may have obliterated his earning power as he hits free agency after the 2013 season. Luckily for him, and the Giants (who are reaping the benefits of his sudden effectiveness thanks to their patience), that trade didn’t happen. Considering Lincecum only has one regular season appearance out of the bullpen (4 IP, 4 BB, 4 K in 2008), that could have been a risky mid-season assumption for success. Clearly, his 2012 postseason (when he made five appearances over 13 innings with a 0.69 ERA and 17:2 K:BB) was a factor in the rumors, but the San Francisco Giants appear to be holding out hope that Lincecum will decline a qualifying offer so that they can get a draft pick for their former ace.

Whatever the background or reasons are for Lincecum’s success recently, it is definitely a positive for him as he heads towards being a free agent. He could very well earn a multi-year deal after looking like a lost cause just a couple of months ago. Stars doing what they do best is good for baseball, and Lincecum was a beloved figure in the Bay Area, with good reason, due to his success (and the team’s success) during his tenure there. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that the Giants re-sign Lincecum, especially with Matt Cain looking a lot like the 2012 and early-2013 version of Tim Lincecum, outside of a few solid recent starts.

Minor League Report, 8/8

I haven’t done one of these in quite some time. When I search minor league stats, I look for strikeouts and WHIP leaders out of guys with solid frames out of pitchers, solid plate discipline and gap power and speed out of hitters. I am not a scout that can go to games, but I tend to find some pretty interesting talent on numbers alone. It worked for Billy Beane, right? Here is a list of some players to get to know or keep an eye on based on their production.

Domingo Leyba, 2B/SS, Detroit Tigers – Dominican Summer League

Year Age Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 17 DOSL DET 50 220 177 44 62 15 8 4 31 16 8 32 24 .350 .451 .593 1.044 105
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

At just 17, Leyba has shown a fantastic approach with solid speed and gap power in one of the lowest levels of minor league baseball. While he is quite a long ways away from making an impact in Detroit. Leyba is tied for 2nd in the DSL in total bases and if he can maintain this type of production as he rises up through the minors, he could become quite a fantasy baseball asset.

Miguel Castro, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays – Dominican Summer League

Year Age Lg Aff W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 17 DOSL TOR 3 2 4.87 8 3 20.1 16 13 11 1 11 0 20 3 1.328 7.1 8.9 1.82
2013 18 DOSL TOR 5 2 1.36 11 10 53.0 40 14 8 0 12 0 71 5 0.981 6.8 12.1 5.92
2 Seasons 8 4 2.33 19 13 73.1 56 27 19 1 23 0 91 8 1.077 6.9 11.2 3.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

An 18-year-old that is 6’5″, 190 pounds putting up a 12.1 K/9 is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Castro isn’t that much older than his counterparts in the DSL but he is certainly making a mockery of them. When he signed, he reportedly had a low-90’s fastball, a solid slider, and a changeup, so with a frame that could fill out with existing decent stuff, Castro could be another solid arm in the Blue Jays system.

Devon Travis, 2B, Detroit Tigers – High-A: Florida State League

Year Age Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 NYPL DET 25 107 93 17 26 2 2 3 11 3 1 8 10 .280 .352 .441 .793 41
2013 22 2 Lgs DET 106 465 406 73 148 23 2 10 61 18 3 44 45 .365 .434 .505 .939 205
2013 22 MIDW DET 77 339 290 55 102 17 2 6 42 14 3 35 32 .352 .430 .486 .916 141
2013 22 FLOR DET 29 126 116 18 46 6 0 4 19 4 0 9 13 .397 .444 .552 .996 64
2 Seasons 131 572 499 90 174 25 4 13 72 21 4 52 55 .349 .419 .493 .912 246
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Say what you want about 5’9″ players not cutting it physically, but Jose Altuve has proven the stereotype wrong. Travis has hit very well in the lower levels, as he should have being a collegiate player out of Florida State. However, his impressive gap power, solid speed, and plate discipline could lead to continued success as he climbs the organizational ladder. The Tigers don’t seem to hang onto the players that they continue to churn out, instead trading them for major league talent, but Travis looks like he could become valuable wherever he ends up.

WinkerJesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds – Low-A: Midwest League

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 Billings PION Rk CIN 62 275 228 42 77 16 3 5 35 1 3 40 50 .338 .443 .500 .943 114
2013 19 Dayton MIDW A CIN 103 449 387 62 108 16 5 16 74 5 0 56 67 .279 .374 .470 .844 182
2 Seasons 165 724 615 104 185 32 8 21 109 6 3 96 117 .301 .400 .481 .882 296
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Winker, who doesn’t turn 20 for another week or so, has done a great job at the dish since he was drafted in the 1st round (49th overall) in the 2012 MLB draft. He has a very good approach with solid power to all fields and good plate discipline. One knock on him is his inability to drive the ball against left-handed pitching, as he has just four extra-base hits in 83 at-bats against them in 2013, but he hasn’t been overmatched, posting a .277/.381/.398 line against them. Winker could very well take Jay Bruce‘s spot in Cincinnati in 2016 if the team was to decline his 2017 option, if he doesn’t force an earlier callup to play left field prior to that.

Daniel Winkler, RHP, Colorado Rockies – Double-A: Texas League

Year Age Lg Aff W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2011 21 PION COL 4 3 3.92 12 12 57.1 64 31 25 6 19 0 65 1 1.448 10.0 10.2 3.42
2012 22 SALL COL 11 10 4.46 25 25 145.1 152 80 72 16 47 0 136 22 1.369 9.4 8.4 2.89
2013 23 2 Lgs COL 12 5 3.01 23 23 134.1 88 52 45 16 40 0 157 9 0.953 5.9 10.5 3.93
2013 23 CALL COL 12 5 2.97 22 22 130.1 84 48 43 15 37 0 152 9 0.928 5.8 10.5 4.11
2013 23 TL COL 0 0 4.50 1 1 4.0 4 4 2 1 3 0 5 0 1.750 9.0 11.2 1.67
3 Seasons 27 18 3.79 60 60 337.0 304 163 142 38 106 0 358 32 1.217 8.1 9.6 3.38
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

When Tony Cingrani and Tyler Skaggs went through the California League, they posted results similar to what Winkler has this season. Does that mean that Winkler will be a similar prospect or produce similar results? Probably not, but the Rockies need some consistent arms and their system is full of unfriendly ballparks. For that reason, Winkler’s statistics are pretty impressive. He appears to work inside (look at all of those HBP!) and his improved stinginess in allowing base runners shows that he may have turned a corner.

BlachTy Blach, LHP, San Francisco Giants – High-A: California League

Year Age Lg Aff W L ERA G GS GF IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 22 CALL SFG 11 3 2.64 19 17 1 112.2 109 35 33 7 14 0 103 1 1.092 8.7 8.2 7.36
1 Season 11 3 2.64 19 17 1 112.2 109 35 33 7 14 0 103 1 1.092 8.7 8.2 7.36
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Blach hasn’t received the kind of hype that fellow California League teammates Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn have received in San Jose, but he probably should. A 5th round pick last year out of Creighton, this is Blach’s professional debut, and he has done a tremendous job in a tough pitching environment, while showing amazing control and command. While his ceiling may not be as high as his teammates’, Blach appears to be the same type of prospect that Danny Hultzen was prior to his shoulder woes: he is what he is…so he’ll move quickly.

Zach Borenstein, OF, Los Angeles Angels- High-A: California League

Year Age Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 20 ARIZ LAA 31 136 113 21 31 6 4 2 21 12 1 17 21 .274 .397 .451 .848 51
2012 21 MIDW LAA 79 327 293 42 78 25 3 11 50 13 5 27 60 .266 .339 .485 .824 142
2013 22 CALL LAA 89 364 324 64 112 19 7 23 82 4 5 29 68 .346 .399 .660 1.060 214
3 Seasons 199 827 730 127 221 50 14 36 153 29 11 73 149 .303 .375 .558 .933 407
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Brandon Wood was once a superstar, power prospect in the California League, so one could wonder if what Borenstein has done in the 2013 season is a product of the league or improved skills. His plate discipline is solid considering his apparent power stroke and he isn’t running as much (since he is jogging around the bases), so it’s hard to decide whether he should be brushed aside. With Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton around, Borenstein could make a push for left field if Peter Bourjos doesn’t lock down a roster spot in the next two years. At 22, Borenstein could be on his way to establishing himself as a legitimate prospect or solid organizational depth, it just depends on who you ask. I say he’ll work his way into the Angels’ plans.

Andrew Aplin, OF, Houston Astros – High-A: California League

Year Age Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 2 Lgs HOU 68 304 268 57 84 13 7 7 38 24 10 28 38 .313 .386 .493 .879 132
2012 21 NYPL HOU 44 196 164 38 57 9 5 4 25 20 7 24 22 .348 .441 .537 .978 88
2012 21 CALL HOU 24 108 104 19 27 4 2 3 13 4 3 4 16 .260 .287 .423 .710 44
2013 22 CALL HOU 111 523 437 91 123 29 5 8 92 20 6 74 53 .281 .381 .426 .806 186
2 Seasons 179 827 705 148 207 42 12 15 130 44 16 102 91 .294 .383 .451 .834 318
A+ (2 seasons) 135 631 541 110 150 33 7 11 105 24 9 78 69 .277 .365 .425 .790 230
A- (1 season) 44 196 164 38 57 9 5 4 25 20 7 24 22 .348 .441 .537 .978 88
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Meet the future leadoff hitter for the Houston Astros…maybe. Aplin is not really repeating High-A, having spent all of 24 games in Lancaster last season, but being a 5th round pick out of Arizona State last season, he appears ready to take his place as a decent prospect in the Houston organization. Certainly Aplin’s power is inflated in Lancaster, but the plate discipline is a thing of beauty for stat geeks like Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow. While Aplin may never be an All-Star caliber player, he appears to have enough skills across the board to be useful, especially for a team that may be very good in about three years.

SemienMarcus Semien, 2B/SS, Chicago White Sox – Triple-A: International League

Year Age Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 20 SALL CHW 60 262 229 35 58 15 2 3 26 3 4 22 53 .253 .320 .376 .696 86
2012 21 CARL CHW 107 487 418 80 114 31 5 14 59 11 5 55 97 .273 .362 .471 .833 197
2013 22 2 Lgs CHW 112 515 422 96 123 26 5 16 50 20 5 87 69 .291 .417 .491 .908 207
2013 22 SOUL CHW 105 483 393 90 114 21 5 15 49 20 5 84 66 .290 .420 .483 .903 190
2013 22 IL CHW 7 32 29 6 9 5 0 1 1 0 0 3 3 .310 .375 .586 .961 17
3 Seasons 279 1264 1069 211 295 72 12 33 135 34 14 164 219 .276 .376 .458 .834 490
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

At 22 in Triple-A and having hit the way that he has since making his professional debut late in the 2011 season, it is shocking that Semien hasn’t gained more attention, especially since he appears capable of handling shortstop (though he will likely end up at second base). Semien has very good plate discipline and surprising pop for a middle infielder. For a White Sox team that could be headed towards a quick rebuild, he could become a very useful bat by the middle of next season, as he could play second while the resurgent Gordon Beckham plays third. Regardless of where Semien plays, his stats prove that he shouldn’t be as overlooked as he appears to be.

Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs – Double-A: Southern League

Year Age Lg Aff W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2011 21 2 Lgs TEX 2 2 2.02 21 1 35.2 24 8 8 0 6 0 38 0 0.841 6.1 9.6 6.33
2011 21 NORW TEX 2 2 1.93 20 0 32.2 20 7 7 0 4 0 36 0 0.735 5.5 9.9 9.00
2011 21 TL TEX 0 0 3.00 1 1 3.0 4 1 1 0 2 0 2 0 2.000 12.0 6.0 1.00
2012 22 2 Lgs TEX,CHC 6 8 2.99 25 24 147.2 140 57 49 11 18 0 123 7 1.070 8.5 7.5 6.83
2012 22 FLOR CHC 1 0 4.24 5 4 17.0 17 8 8 3 3 0 11 1 1.176 9.0 5.8 3.67
2012 22 CARL TEX 5 8 2.82 20 20 130.2 123 49 41 8 15 0 112 6 1.056 8.5 7.7 7.47
2013 23 SOUL CHC 10 3 1.85 21 21 126.1 107 34 26 3 26 0 101 5 1.053 7.6 7.2 3.88
3 Seasons 18 13 2.41 67 46 309.2 271 99 83 14 50 0 262 12 1.037 7.9 7.6 5.24
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Hendricks was acquired in the Cubs deal with the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster last season and he has established himself as a useful part in the future plans of the Chicago Cubs. While he doesn’t have a tremendous ceiling, Hendricks hardly walks anyone and gets his fair share of strikeouts, though he isn’t dominant. If Hendricks is able to continue to pass on the free passes and maintain his impressive WHIP totals in the majors, he could become a very good mid-rotation starter for the constantly rebuilding Cubs.