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FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch – 05/17/12

Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Current Level: A-
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 3rd
Current Value: Improving

Cecchini, 21, is a left-handed-hitting third baseman who has hit very well since turning pro last year. He’s currently batting .301 with 14 steals in 16 attempts. He was a fourth round pick out of a Louisiana high school in 2010 and his power has yet to develop as expected with just one home run in 34 games. He’s showing good gap pop, though, with 13 doubles. He’s struck out a bit too much with 32 Ks and he has an OPS of just .524 against southpaw pitchers. Cecchini should spend the entire year in low-A working on the finer aspects of his game and will likely move fairly steadily through the system. If everything clicks, he could be a very successful big league player but patience is definitely required. Garin’s younger brother Gavin is set to become a first round draft pick during the 2012 amateur draft on June 4.

Christian Colon, SS, Kansas City Royals
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 8th
Current Value: Improving

The fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft, Colon’s first full pro season in 2011 was a disappointment. Given an aggressive assignment to double-A, he hit just .257 with almost no power (.086 ISO rate). Colon, 23, is back at double-A for 2012 and has been showing some signs of life with a .317 batting average and six steals in seven attempts. He has a triple-slash line of .317/.364/.453 in 37 games. He rarely strikes out (9.0 K% in 2011, 8.4% in ’12). but he also doesn’t walk much because he makes so much contact. Colon has hit .412 in the last 10 games. The right-handed hitter has been creaming southpaws with a .385 batting average and .995 OPS. There are some questions about the infielder’s ability to stick at shortstop and he could eventually move over to second base. If he continues to show improvements he could eventually over take Chris Getz and/or Johnny Giavotella.

Charlie Leesman, LHP, Chicago White Sox
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 11th
Current Value: Underrated

Leesman, 25, has done a nice job of turning himself into a legitimate prospect. A former 11th round draft pick out of Xavier University, the southpaw has posted decent numbers as a starter throughout the minor leagues. He has a big, strong pitchers frame and has been very durable in his career, pitching at least 148 innings each of the past three years. His control is below average, though, and holds him back from realizing his full potential. Six of his last seven starts have been very good at the triple-A level. With a slightly-above-average fastball for a lefty, Leesman produces above-average ground-ball rates and could become a solid big league reliever focusing on his heater and one other pitch (He also throws a cutter, curve and changeup). Chicago doesn’t have a ton of high-ceiling talent but it’s seen quite a few improvements among its collection of B- and C-level prospects.

Brad Miller, SS, Seattle Mariners
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 15th
Current Value: Inflated

A product of Clemson University, Miller was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He hit .414 in 14 low-A games in his pro debut last year and was assigned to the high-A California League in 2012. The 22-year-old shortstop has enjoyed playing in the offense-oriented league. He’s hitting more than .300 and 23 of his 48 hits have gone for extra bases, including seven over the wall. He’s swinging and missing a lot – with 36 Ks in 38 games, but he’s also taken 24 free passes. Miller is a perfect 8-for-8 in steals, showing a well-rounded game. Some cautions: Miller never showed this kind of power profile in college and his defensive shortcomings could force a move to second base – He’s also not likely to move Dustin Ackley off the keystone at the big league level.

Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 10th
Current Value: Inflated

The 41st selection during the 2009 amateur draft out of a South Carolina high school, Owings produced solid numbers in 2009 and 2010 but he hit a wall in high-A ball last year. I ranked him as the Diamondbacks’ fourth best prospect in 2011 but he slid to 10th in 2012. A poor approach at the plate did him in; he struck out 130 times and took just 15 free passes in 521 at-bats. With only line-drive power, the K-rate was far too high. His plate rates haven’t improved much at all this year. His walk rate is up from 2.7 to 4.8% and his strikeout rate has also risen from 23.4 to 28.7%. The big difference in his numbers has been his BABIP rate, up from .305 to .408. As a result, don’t believe the hype just yet. Owings’ new power numbers are a little more believeable although he is playing in a very potent league. After hitting just 11 homers in the same league last year, the 21-year-old infielder already has eight – as well as 11 doubles. The move up to double-A will be huge for determining Owings’ true prospect value.