Disappointing 2011 Prospects: AL Central

Earlier this week, we began the series looking at the top disappointing prospects — who appeared on the preseason top 10 lists — for each American League East organization. Today, we’re continuing with the AL Central.

Cleveland Indians
FanGraphs 2011 Top 10 Prospects
Decreased Value: Levon Washington, OF

Washington was a high pick out of both high school and junior college and I was far from impressed with him both times. His 2011 season gives me even fewer reasons for optimism. The infielder-turned-outfielder showed some pretty big holes in his game while posting just a .311 wOBA in 298 at-bats in low-A ball. He hit .218, showed little power (as expected) with an ISO of .097 and struck out way too often (25.4 K%). Washington did walk at an impressive clip (14.0 BB%) but didn’t do much when he got on base (15 steals in 21 tries) even though speed is supposed to be his main weapon.

Chicago White Sox
FanGraphs 2011 Top 10 Prospects
Decreased Value: Josh Phegley, C

You could definitely choose former No. 1 pick Jared Mitchell for this spot but he’s going to be on the White Sox Top 10 list (it’s still a very weak system) so I’ll wait and write about him then. Instead, I’ll pick on Phegley. I gave the catcher a mulligan for his ’10 season because he battled a rare blood condition that threatened his baseball career. The good news is that he not only came back but he reached triple-A. Unfortunately, he posted a .297 wOBA in double-A and then produced a triple-slash line of .253/.337/.380 in 79 triple-A plate appearances. His raw power has yet to develop in-game (.126 ISO in AA). Although he threw out 43% of base runners, his defense behind the plate remains a big question mark thanks to his receiving skills and lack of mobility.

Kansas City Royals
FanGraphs 2011 Top 10 Prospects
Decreased Value: Chris Dwyer, LHP

Prior to the start of the season many were calling the Royals 2011 collection of minor league prospects the best ever. Well, it should still be pretty good in ’12 but injuries and promotions have taken a big toll on the system. There were also some disappointing performances as with Dwyer. He did show good durability in 2011 with 141.1 innings at double-A, along with a solid strikeout rate of 8.02 K/9. Unfortunately, his walk rate sat at 4.97 BB/9 and he posted a 4.49 FIP (5.60 ERA). In 99.1 cummulative innings against right-handers, he walked 63 batters. The organization may want to consider moving the southpaw to the bullpen, much like it did with another disappointing minor league pitcher who was also taken in the 2009 draft – Aaron Crow. The No. 1 draft pick (12th overall) took to the bullpen role like a duck to water and the organization could almost build an entire bullpen out of this draft class with the likes of Crow, Dwyer, Louis Coleman, and Patrick Keating.

Minnesota Twins
FanGraphs 2011 Top 10 Prospects
Decreased Value: Alex Wimmers, RHP

There may have never been a more night-and-day start and end to a season for any pitcher. In his 2011 debut, Wimmers walked all six batters that he faced and then spent three months in extended spring training. The Twins’ 2010 No. 1 draft pick returned to high-A ball to end the year and closed out the season with a seven-inning no-hitter (minor league doubleheaders are always seven innings per game). Considering how the year began, Wimmers made a great comeback and finished the year with a 4.65 FIP and walk rate of 4.87 BB/9. An admirable recovery, yes, but you still expect a lot more from a No. 1 draft pick.

Detroit Tigers
FanGraphs 2011 Top 10 Prospects
Decreased Value: Daniel Fields, OF

The curious case of Fields really makes me wonder what’s up with the player development plan in the Tigers organization. The infielder-turned-outfielder was inexplicably rushed to high-A with nary an at-bat in rookie, short-season or low-A ball despite the fact he began the 2010 season as a teenager. When he was drafted, no scout that I know of confused him with an advanced prep player – especially considering that he was also learning a new position. Well, Fields posted a .329 wOBA at high-A in ’10 and then repeated the level again in ’11 and regressed even further: .297 wOBA. He doesn’t hit for power (.106 ISO) and doesn’t run (four steals) and doesn’t hit for average (.220). His lack of development is on the Detroit front office, and he joins a long list of disappointing top talents that includes Rick PorcelloCale IorgJeremy BondermanAndrew MillerCameron Maybin (who’s finally turning things around the further he distances himself from the organization).

Up Next: The AL West



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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Michigan Matt
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Michigan Matt

You mean the Jeremy Bonderman that posted an xFIP- below 100 in each year before his injury?

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