Prospect ranking season is here. Top 10 lists will be arriving shortly and in preparation for that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The series is back for a second year.
The Graduate: Gordon Beckham, SS/3B
Despite beginning ’09 in double-A, Beckham made a solid run at the Rookie of the Year award in the American League. The shortstop-turned-third baseman hit .270/.347/.460 with an ISO of .190 in 378 at-bats. The right-handed hitter showed a respectable walk rate at 9.8 BB% and a solid strikeout rate at 17.2 K%. Impressively, he did a nice job handling breaking balls as a rookie. Beckham struggled a little bit in the field at third base, but he showed good value with his bat and posted a 2.1 WAR. He could move back to shortstop in 2010.
The Riser: Santos Rodriguez, LHP
Obtained from the Braves in the Javier Vazquez deal, Rodriguez could turn out to be a steal. The hard-throwing reliever has a 90-95 mph fastball, as well as a slider and change-up. In ’09, he allowed just 18 hits in 27 innings of work in rookie ball. The 21-year-old was old for the league but he got three games of experience in low-A ball before the year ended. He needs to improve his control after posting a walk rate of 5.67 BB/9 but his strikeout rate was excellent at 14.00 K/9.
The Tumbler: John Shelby Jr., OF
A former infielder, Shelby has made a successful conversion to the outfield but his bat has taken a step back. He hit just .243/.323/.402 in 428 double-A at-bats. He did show some power with an ISO of .159 (down from .215 in ’08). Shelby Jr. also has some speed and he swiped 30 bases in 39 attempts. He made some strides in his walk rate, which rose from 4.7 to 10.3 BB%. It wasn’t a terrible year for Shelby Jr. but he took hits in both his power and his on-base numbers; he needs to get on-base more consistently to take advantage of his speed. At 24 years of age, time is not on his side.
The ’10 Sleeper: Brent Morel, 3B
With Beckham playing the hot corner in the Majors and prospect C.J. Retherford continuing to perform better than expected, the White Sox suddenly have a lot of depth at the position. Toss in Morel and you can begin to forget the disaster that was Josh Fields. The right-handed hitting Morel had a nice year at high-A in ’09 by hitting .281/.335/.453 in 481 at-bats. He posted an ISO of .173 and stole 25 bases in 34 attempts, giving hope that he could one day become a 15-15 player at the MLB level. Morel will probably never show 20+ home run power consistently but he could develop into a solid Bill Mueller type third baseman.
Bonus: Aaron Poreda, LHP
In the ’08 series, this former No. 1 draft pick was highlighted for a breakout in ’09. Instead, the left-hander had an up-and-down year that saw him make his MLB debut and get traded to the San Diego Padres. Poreda struggled with his control in 14 big league games, and posted a walk rate of 8.78 BB/9. Despite pitching as a starter in the minors, all of his appearances came in relief for both the White Sox and Padres. He’s probably better suited to working out of the bullpen going forward, in the hopes that he’ll become more consistent. It will also allow him to focus on his fastball, which is his best pitch.