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: Chris Coghlan, LF/2B
A college third baseman and minor league second baseman, Coghlan moved to the outfield at the MLB level in ’09 to help fill the void after rookie Cameron Maybin showed that he needed more seasoning. Coghlan hit well: .321/.390/.460 in 504 at-bats. However, he lacks the power to be an impact corner outfielder, so he would be helped by a trade of veteran second baseman Dan Uggla. Although he stole just eight bases in 13 attempts, Coghlan has stolen 30+ bags in the minors. He posted a 2.3 WAR in ’09 but his -14.5 UZR/150 took a bite out of his ’09 value.
The Riser: Brad Hand, LHP
The 19-year-old Hand had a respectable first full year in pro ball. He allowed 130 hits in 127.2 innings of work. Hand walked too many batters with a rate of 4.65 BB/9, but the southpaw posted a strikeout rate of 8.60 K/9. After not allowing a home run in his pro debut in ’08 (47.2 IP), Hand gave up 12 in ’09 (0.85 HR/9), which is a reasonable rate. He ended the year well by limiting hitters to a .160 average in August. The southpaw will likely move up to high-A ball in ’10, and he will look to improve the command of his secondary pitches.
The Tumbler: Kyle Skipworth, C
An ’08 first round draft pick, Skipworth’s bat has wilted in pro ball. On the positive side, he’s still just 19 years old, so he has time to get things going. In low-A ball in ’09, Skipworth hit .208/.263/.348 with an ISO of .140 in 264 at-bats. He walked just 18 times (6.4 BB%) while striking out an eye-popping 34.5% of the time. Catchers often suffer from low BABIPs and Skipworth has been no different after posting rates of .259 in ’08 and .289 in ’09. The left-handed hitter batted just .091 versus southpaws, albeit in just 44 at-bats. Defensively, he threw out just 20% of runners attempting to steal.
The ’10 Sleeper: Daniel Jennings, LHP
With a low payroll, the Marlins club will always be looking for cheap relief options, and Jennings, 22, has positioned himself well for a shot in 2010. The southpaw pitched at three levels in ’09 and topped out in double-A. He spent the majority of his time in low-A and allowed 42 hits in 49.1 innings of work. Jennings handled left-handed and right-handed batters equally well, although he posted a much higher strikeout rate against same-side hitters. He posted an excellent strikeout rate at 9.85 K/9 and showed OK control with a walk rate of 3.83 BB/9. On the season, Jennings allowed just one home run in 62.2 innings.
Bonus: Jeff Allison, RHP
The former jewel of the system is still trying to salvage his career after a struggle with drugs. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Allison was highlighted as a potential breakout candidate in ’09. The right-hander showed solid control and posted a walk rate of 1.94 BB/9 in high-A ball. His strikeout rate, though, was 4.59 K/9 and his plus fastball of old is still MIA. Regardless, Allison posted a 4.21 FIP and allowed 151 hits in 139.1 innings. He also allowed 13 homers (0.84 HR/9). Now 25, Allison has a shot at reaching the Majors in 2010 or 2011 as a middle reliever.
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