FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch – 05/25/12

A.J. Cole, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Current Level: A
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 3rd (Washington)
Current Value: Diminished

After a successful 2011 season in low-A ball, Cole was one of the prospects packaged up in a deal between Washington and Oakland that saw Gio Gonzalez head to the Nationals. Cole, a 20-year-old starting pitcher, was originally assigned to high-A ball to start the 2012 season but he’s since been moved back down to low-A, where he spent the ’11 season. The right-hander posted a 7.82 ERA in 38.0 innings in the California League. He walked just 10 batters but allowed 60 hits and seven home runs. In his first start back in low-A, Cole gave up eight runs (five earned) on 12 hits in 5.0 innings. Clearly the struggles in Stockton messed with his head so it may be some time before he irons out his game. Despite the hiccup in his career, Cole remains healthy and has a high ceiling. He’s just going to need a little longer to develop than expected.

Anthony Gose, CF, Toronto Blue Jays
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 1st
Current Value: Looking Up

Gose, 21, is among the Top 5 youngest players in the Pacific Coast League so you can excuse him for getting off to a slow start in 2012. The uber-toolsy outfielder has raised his batting average up to .272, along with a wRC+ of 101, after finishing April with a .216 average, 33 Ks in 24 games, and an OPS of .583). He’s hitting .337 in May with 10 extra base hits and is a perfect 9-for-9 in steals. On the down side, the left-handed hitter is batting just .146 versus southpaws and his strikeout rate is still around 23%. Gose will probably always strike out a lot but he has the chance to be the best defense outfielder in the game (a bold statement), steal 40-50 bases and provide a little pop. Toronto fans will be forever bitter over losing ace Roy Halladay but that trade* with Philadelphia has a chance to go down as the spark that helped ignite another run of playoff-caliber Blue Jays teams – if both Gose and Travis d’Arnaud reach their immense ceilings.

*Gose was not directly acquired in that deal (He was with the Phillies organization at the time but they refused to include him) but fellow outfielder Michael Taylor was, who was flipped to Oakland for 1B/3B Brett Wallace, who was later sent to Houston for Gose (who had gone from Philly to Houston in the Roy Oswalt deal).

John Hicks, C, Seattle Mariners
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: NR
Current Value: Underrated

Danny Hultzen‘s battery-mate at the University of Virginia, Hicks was selected three rounds after the Mariners’ first round pick from the 2011 amateur draft. The catcher did not move behind the plate on a regular basis until his final year of college but he’s made nice strides and could develop into an average receiver in time. He receives top marks for his leadership and he has an above-average arm that results in excellent caught-stealing rates (44% for his career so far). An aggressive hitter, Hicks has a nice line-drive swing and has hit above .300 in his career but his 2012 numbers have been aided by his environment (high-A California League). He projects to be an average to slight-above-average hitter for a catcher (The bar is low). The Mariners organization has struggled to develop catchers in the past but Hicks, 22, is quietly becoming a prospect to watch.

Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 2nd
Current Value: Diminished

I ranked Lee very aggressively on the Top 100 list prior to the 2012 season and he’s let me down a bit. The South Korea native has all the ingredients to make an all-star shortstop – speed, excellent hand-eye coordination, line-drive swing, strong arm, plus defense – but he’s struggled at double-A. Still quite young for his league, the 21-year-old Lee has been painfully inconsistent and is swinging-and-missing a lot more than usual. The left-handed hitter has also struggled to hit southpaws (.536 OPS vs LHP, .650 vs RHP). Lee needs to slow the game down and get back to basics; he’s been pressing lately and his numbers have been even worse in May. Because he’s so young there is no need to panic just yet.

Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
Current Level: A
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 5th
Current Value: Underrated

There is probably no other team in baseball that is as embarrassingly rich at the shortstop position than the Texas Rangers, who already features an all-star-caliber, young shortstop at the position at the big league level in Elvis Andrus. The organization also has Jurickson Profar, Luis Sardinas and Odor who was drafted as a shortstop but has moved to the keystone due to the depth ahead of him. The Venezuela native is holding his own in low-A ball with a wRC+ of 119 at the age of 18. He handles the bat extremely well and has a strikeout rate of just 15.7%. Odor is also showing surprising pop with an ISO rate of .195 and six home runs in his first 40 games. He has a chance to be an above-average fielder at second base.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


14 Responses to “FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch – 05/25/12”

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  1. AL Eastbound says:

    Jays fans will be bitter that Roy had to leave due to managements failure to contend with him however the trade made sense at the time.

    Saying that I think the Jays have a brighter future for the foreseeable future.

    Of course at writing the entire AL East is .500 or better.

    Doh!

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  2. Owen G says:

    Marc, in your opinion should the Rangers have waited to move Odor? With an 18 year old I would have thought the focus was on value rather than depth.

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    • Ross says:

      Owen, The Rangers see his bat as the key to his value, and obviously his ability to succeed against older competition certainly doesn’t hurt. However, they don’t see him as a SS long term (scouts agree), and while yes, you don’t move players off premium positions until they prove they can’t handle it, Roogie would be in the AZL if they wanted him at SS. They have Sardinas at SS and need him to be on the field as he’s been hurt a majority of his career so far.

      Also remember the name Luis Marte, SS who should be playing for short season Spokane.

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  3. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Jurickson Profar. Rougned Odor. Are we sure the Rangers don’t sign their shortstops based on having crazy names?

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    • Big Jgke says:

      C’mon, if that were true we all know what org Xander Bogaerts and Andrelton Simmons would be playing for.

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  4. The Mighty Tim says:

    LOL

    Lee has been one of the most overrated prospects since he was a Cub. The only reason he’s on any top prospects list is the presumption that Friedman is infallible and he took Hendry to school in the Garza trade. Face it, AF got pantsed in the deal. It’s even worse than the Halladay trade …

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  5. Juan Chapa says:

    You never know with prospects. The Phillies obtained Halliday, Oswalt,
    Lee, and Spence. Yet the prospects they gave up have yet to reach
    the major league level. They did not need Halliday, or Lee for that
    matter. The prospects they gave up could have been used to rebuild
    the team. However, hind site is 20/20. They probably should start
    rebuilding. Keep Hamels, Howard, Pence, and Rollins, trading everyone
    else for prospects that are close to the major league level. Of course
    they should keep this low-keyed, because when the other teams find
    out, their trades will become more difficult. They erred in signing Lee,
    twice. Now, Hamels may walk away, and the team will be left mostly
    with grey beards (except for Worley, another story since he’s on the
    D.L.). They may be able to buy time, signing one or two power
    hitters, and slowly call up their young players. Oh well, when it rains
    it pours!

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  6. Dave Silverwood says:

    I know a scout who feels Gose is a year away from totally being noticed—thanks

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  7. Taylor says:

    Don’t forget drabek was also part of the halladay trade. And he is in the majors right now. Needs to work on his control but holding his own as a 4th starter with upside to be a number 2/3. Halladay is starting to look like he is on a steady decline.

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    • Pandora says:

      Not a Jay’s fan at all but seriously? Not sold yet? Yeesh…

      Some people just aren’t convinced until the arbitration years.

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  8. Pandora says:

    This of course in response to the “It’s even worse than the Halladay trade …” comment.

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