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 prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.