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: Jean Machi, RHP: A 31-year-old rookie, Machi was finally at the right place at the right time to earn a permanent big league role. The right-hander significantly improved both his command and control over the past two seasons and that helped him flash three weapons with his low-to-mid-90s fastball, slider, and splitter. Given the improvements he’s shown, Machi looks like more than a one-year wonder. His story is all the more impressive when you consider he actually left the U.S. to play baseball in Mexico for the 2011 season.
The Riser: Edwin Escobar, LHP: Acquired in a minor trade with Texas in early 2010, Escobar has been an absolute steal. The southpaw is now one of the most promising arms in the Giants system and could see the Majors by the end of 2014 — which is amazing considering he spent three seasons in short-season ball before blowing through both A-ball levels in less than two years. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter with three average-or-better offerings.
The Tumbler: Gary Brown, OF: The 24th overall selection during the 2010 draft, Brown’s pro career has been a disappointment — save for the 2011 season that he spent in the offense-boosting California League. The outfielder’s offense completely fell apart in Triple-A during the 2013 season and he posted a .660 OPS with 135 strikeouts in 137. That latter stat is not something you want to see from someone whose best tool is their foot speed. Already 25 years old, he’s still not ready for the Majors.
The 2013 Draft Pick: Ryder Jones, 3B: The Giants’ second-round pick from the 2013 draft, Jones had an outstanding pro debut at the plate, which helped to justify his decision to turn his back on a Stanford scholarship. He hit more than .300 and his mature approach suggested that it wasn’t a fluke. He went deep just once in 2013 but he has the raw power potential to hit at least 15 home runs in a full season.
The Sleeper: Stephen Johnson/Steve Okert/Ian Gardeck: While speaking with a contact last winter, he lumped these three hard-throwing relievers together when discussing their potential. All three hurlers held their own in Low-A ball but each member of the trio needs to improve their command and control to realize their full potential. They were also old for their league in 2013 so look for at least one of them — perhaps Johnson, who might have a slight edge on his development — to jump on the fast track in 2014.
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