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: Jarred Cosart, RHP: Cosart was one of those rare prospects that actually posted better (superficial) numbers in the Majors than in the minors– although he still lacks consistency with both his command and control. The 23-year-old hurler should see his strikeout rate take a step forward once he starts pitching ahead in the count and commanding his fastball. His raw ability — combined with a never-quit mentality — has allowed him to battle without his best stuff and succeed despite the inadequecies.
The Riser: Asher Wojciechowski, RHP: Wojciechowski battled inconsistencies while a member of the Jays organization and, while he still has his moments, the right-hander has been less Dr. Jekyll and more Mr. Hyde as an Astro. He’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster by the November deadline to be protected from the annual Rule 5 draft. It’s a little surprising that he didn’t get a September call-up but he also saw a rather large bump in innings over 2012. If he realizes his potential, Wojciechowski has the ceiling of a durable No. 3/4 starter.
The Tumbler: Rio Ruiz, 3B: Ruiz’s season was by no means terrible. He’s listed here mainly because the system had so few disappointments and there weren’t many options to choose from — which reflects positively on the Astros’ minor league development staff. Ruiz, 19, got off to a slow start to the 2013 season but he saw his OPS improve with each subsequent month. This third baseman is loaded with potential but he may be somewhat of a slow mover as he works to put everything together.
The 2013 Draft Pick: Austin Nicely, LHP: The scouting department had a healthy budget in 2013, which allowed some money to be spread around in the later rounds. Nicely, taken in the 10th round, looked headed to the University of Virginia (which helped develop the top lefty pitching prospect in the minors, Danny Hultzen of Seattle) but was bought out of his commitment for more than $600,000. He struggled with his control after turning pro but the raw potential is there for the projectable southpaw.
The Sleeper: Andrew Aplin, OF: Aplin isn’t a big guy and he doesn’t have loud tools but he gets the most out of his abilities and he produced respectable numbers in 2013 while playing his first full pro season in High-A ball. The 22-year-old outfielder plays good defense, runs well, hits both right- and left-handed pitching from the left batter’s box, has a good eye and makes consistent contact. At worst, Aplin should develop into a solid fourth or platoon outfielder.
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