FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch – 06/13/12

Jordan Danks, OF, Chicago White Sox
Current Level: MLB
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: NR
Current Value: Static

Danks was a top amateur prospect while in high school but he told teams he would not sign because he wanted to play college ball at the University of Texas. John Danks‘ little brother followed through on his promise (It wasn’t the usual negotiation ploy) and he had a solid but unspectacular college career. After being drafted by the White Sox, Danks also had what can be best described as a decent minor league career but he struggled with strikeouts and a low batting average. The 25-year-old outfielder is a plus defender and a very good athlete but, despite his solid 2012 numbers in triple-A, his overall ceiling is limited to that of a fourth outfielder. He should still carve out a respectable career but Baseball America once ranked him as the 37th best draft prospect in 2005, ahead of the likes of Austin Jackson, Chase Headley, Matt Garza, Jeremy Hellickson, and Tim Lincecum.

Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 2nd
Current Value: Increasing

Hamilton, 21, had a breakout 2011 season and he’s been even better in 2012 at the high-A ball level. The shortstop posted a wRC+ of 120 with 103 stolen bases last year. This season he currently has a wRC+ of 149 with 73 steals in 61 games. Hamilton only has 79 hits on the year. Along with the speed, his batting average is up to .315, he’s walking more (12%), his strikeout rate is down (21.8 to 16.5%) and he’s hitting for more power (.124 ISO). In other words he’s improved in almost every category. The prospect is probably still one to two years away from reaching the Majors but it appears safe to say that he’s going to be one of the most exciting players that baseball has seen in a long time.

Alex Meyer, RHP, Washington Nationals
Current Level: A
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 4th
Current Value: Increasing

Firing on all cylinders, Meyer threw 6.0 shutout innings on Tuesday night in low-A ball. The right-hander was the Nationals’ first round selection during the 2011 amateur draft (23rd overall). Although he was selected out of the University of Kentucky, Meyer was considered raw for a college pitcher so he began ’12 in low-A ball. As a result he’s old for the league and his numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. Even so, the hurler has posted solid numbers with just 51 hits allowed and 68 strikeouts in 65.1 innings of work. He’s shown slightly above-average ground-ball numbers. Meyer’s walk total is slightly above average but it has gotten better over his past five starts. Meyer has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter.

Josh Rutledge, SS, Colorado Rockies
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 11th
Current Value: Static

Rutledge enjoyed a very impressive first full season in pro ball in 2011 (wRC+ of 142). The infielder, though, was playing in the California League so his numbers may have been inflated. He’s held his own at the double-A level in 2012 with a wRC+ of 119. He’s actually showing just as much power while hitting .291 but his walk rate is down from 7.8 to 4.7%. Rutledge, 23, projects to develop into a solid player with the ability to hit .280-.300, slug 15 home runs and steal 15-20 bases. He’s a so-so fielder at shortstop with average-at-best range so he may end up at second base – especially given that Troy Tulowitzki is manning the position at the big league level. Rutledge is about one year away from reaching the Majors.

Keyvius Sampson, RHP, San Diego Padres
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 11th
Current Value: Down Slightly

Sampson enjoyed a very good 2011 season when he posted a 2.90 ERA in 118 low-A innings. Skipped over high-A ball to open 2012 in double-A, the right-hander has struggled to find his footing against more advanced hitters. The 21-year-old hurler currently sports a 6.18 ERA and his results have been getting worse, not better. He’s striking out a lot of batters (62 in as many innings) but he’s also walking a lot of hitters (37 walks). On the plus side, Sampson, 21, is not giving up that many hits (56) and left-handers are hitting just .202 (right-handers hitting .276). The right-hander still has good stuff so this is likely just a hiccup and his No. 3 starter ceiling remains intact. He’s likely a year-and-a-half to two years away from helping San Diego.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect and rookie analysis. He also operates AstrosBall.com and can be reached via email at: marchulet@astrosball.com, or follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

22 Responses to “FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch – 06/13/12”

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  1. Josh says:

    Man 79 steals in 61 games! Good grief, we must be talking supa-fast!

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  2. byron says:

    Can wRC+ be inflated by league? Isn’t it scaled to league average? Or are all the minor leagues scaled to major league average?

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  3. guesswork says:

    Of course, much like Rutledge in 2011, Hamilton is playing in the Cal League. The speed is obviously very legitimate, but are the other improvements real or league related?

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  4. Romogenized Melk says:

    Billy Hamilton only has 73 steals. I know because check his page everyday and daydream.

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  5. Jayjay says:

    No Adam Lind update today? Hottest prospect around.

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  6. Butters says:

    Hamilton = Dee Gordon + 75 steals?

    Of *course* Hamilton’s numbers are inflated by the Cal League. (By the way, wasn’t that .700 OPS last year a disappointment, after his .840 the year before, rather than a “breakout”?)

    Hamilton basically hit .400 in April, with a .200 ISO; since then he’s back to the same old punchless .275-.285 hitter we’ve come to expect — except for the increase in walks, which is holding steady at a real nice rate.

    When do the Reds wise up, and move that Ferrari to centerfield?

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    • byron says:

      wRC+ is adjusted by ballpark and compared to league average. I don’t know if all that’s true for minor leagues. That’s why I asked above. If it is, then no, the league can’t inflate that stat, which was the one Marc intelligently used instead of something unadjusted.

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      • Marc Hulet says:

        wRC+ in the minors is adjusted for league but not ballpark in the minors. 100 is average.

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      • byron says:

        So then, no, your correct use of wRC+ cancels out any inflation his league might have given him. He legitimately performed quite a bit above average offensively.

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    • Sam says:

      Its been rumored that depending on how the Zack Cozart experience goes, Hamilton could end up with 2B as an aging Phillips moves to the OF.

      Also, center field is a more injury hazardous position

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  7. Smack says:

    I like both Hamilton and Anthony Gose as future impact players but get the sense that Gose is undervalued based on his environment. Gose is 1 month olderand in AAA. I wonder how he would be performing in A+ or conversely how Hamilton would perform in AAA.

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    • rotofan says:

      Not sure how anyone playing in Las Vegas in the PCL can have a stat line that under-states his value. Playing there is a hitter’s wet dream.

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      • Smack says:

        I should have said level instead of environment so it was not misinterpreted. Hamilton also plays in a hitter friendly environment but facing pitchers two levels below. My comment was simply that Gose is undervalued in comparison to Hamilton because of the difference in levels.

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    • Sam says:

      Ya, that’s what the Blue Jays did with Travis Snider and that worked out great.

      Goes would be better off experiencing success rather than middling around. Hitting is a mind-set as much as it is physical.

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  8. Reuben says:

    Any word on Hamilton’s fielding? Last I heard, he was getting better, but experts were still thinking he could move to CF.

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  9. Josh Rutledge is holding his own at Double-A, just not excelling but all three High-A Modesto hitting studs from 2011 – Rutledge, Nolan Arenado and Kent Matthes have production that is down. Arenado is also being challenged to the point that has MLB ETA and Stick has been slowed down to 2013. Matthes, returning from a late-season injury from a year ago has failed to even hit .200.

    Rutledge has work to do to make more contact and find his extra-base ability again but he was far better in the second half of 2011 than he was the first so if he can duplicate that feat again he could start next spring in Triple-A and be considered the future 2B of the Rockies.

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  10. Pinstripe Wizard says:

    I watched Rutledge play all three years at Alabama. The guy just doesn’t walk. His contact rate being down is a bit confusing, but I would think that it’s probably because he chases too many pitches. At Bama, he had a habit of chasing pitches down in the zone. Assuming that he still does that, it makes sense that his walk rate, contact rate, and XBHs decreased. Once he starts laying off those low pitches, all of those things will increase accordingly. I never really thought he had the arm to stay at short in the show anyway. I think he can be at least average defensively at second. A move to second also increases his offensive value.

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    • Guru says:

      I watched Rutledge at Alabama and the past three years in the minors and I’ve seen him throw runners out at first 10-15 yards into the grass. I think his arm strength is more than capable to stay at short. The reason 2nd base is in the picture is because he’s not going to take Tulo’s spot and that’s where he’ll play if he stays with the Rox.

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