There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.
The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’
The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.
The Graduate: Kole Calhoun, OF: The Angels looked like they were going to have an impressive trio of outfielders in 2013 but injuries and an unexpectedly bad season by big ticket free agent Josh Hamilton put the kibosh on that projection. Given more playing time than expected, Calhoun has been a strong offensive performer in 2013 and the left-handed hitter has even held his own against southpaws. In a modest number of at-bats, he has produced the second highest slugging percentage on the team — behind Mike Trout but ahead of Mark Trumbo, who has more than 30 home runs.
The Riser: Jose Rondon, SS: The organization has a few intriguing shortstop prospects and Rondon is perhaps the most interesting — although he’s still quite a ways away from realizing his potential. Just 19, he showed some skill with the bat and is more advanced than a lot of Latin America players his age. He walked 30 times in 68 games and struck out just 31 times while maintaining a batting average of almost .300. He’s not overly physical but 22 of Rondon’s 81 hits were two-baggers. He should move up to full-season ball in 2014 and is someone to keep an eye on.
The Tumbler: Kaleb Cowart, 3B: Cowart entered 2013 as the Angels best player by a long shot. Unfortunately, he wilted under the spotlight and posted an OPS of .580 as a 20-year-old third baseman in Double-A. A switch-hitter, the Georgia native was far more successful from the right side of the plate than the left, which is the opposite of what we typically see from young switch-hitters. Cowart will likely return to Double-A in 2014.
The 2013 Draft Pick: Hunter Green, LHP: A fringe-first-round talent in the draft, the Angels were lucky to get the young southpaw with the 59th pick in the second round. Hunter struggled with his control during his pro debut and walked 16 batters. Because he was so raw in his debut, he’ll probably open 2014 in extended spring training unless he sets the world on fire in March.
The Sleeper: Eric Stamets, SS: Stamets entered pro ball in 2012 with the reputation for being a strong-glove, no-bat contributor. Since turning pro, though, he’s shown enough aptitude with the bat to project as a second-division starter at shortstop. At worst, he could be a solid platoon/part-time infielder thanks to his ability to cream left-handed pitchers (.354/.414/.500 in 130 ABs). He should move up to Double-A to begin 2014.
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