FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch

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

Hamilton is running away with the title of ‘Most Exciting Player’ in the minors. The Reds speedster has 18 steals (in 22 tries) in as many games. He’s using his speed to get on-base too; he’s hitting .405 from the left side and has beaten out a few infield singles. Hamilton also clearly understands that it’s important for him to get on-base to take advantage of his speed as he’s walked 11 times, which has allowed him to score 18 runs. The 21 year old is definitely being aided on offence by the potent California League but he should see double-A in the second half of the season. After making five errors already this year (and 39 last season) it’s his defense that might hold him back a bit. Current Reds Zack Cozart is more consistent and more of a proven commodity but he cannot match Hamilton’s upside.

Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 2nd
Current Value: Looking Up

If you’re a Red Sox fan there hasn’t been much to get excited about at the big league level this year. However, there are some good stories developing on the farm, lead by Mr. Middlebrooks at triple-A. The third base prospect is hitting .371 in his first 18 games. Middlebrooks, 23, is also second in the league in home runs behind minor league veteran Brad Eldred and continues to show more power with each new season. Incumbent big league third baseman Kevin Youkilis is currently in manager Bobby Valentine‘s doghouse and is also in the last year of his contract with Boston (although he has a team option). If the meltdown in Boston continues through the first few months of the season the veteran’s name could pop up in trade talks, opening the door for Middlebrooks.

Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Current Level: A-
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 2nd
Current Value: Monitor Closely

Rosario made the unusual switch this past off-season by moving from the outfield to second base. He’s struggled early at the keystone but patience is a virtue and the change has not hindered the prospect’s development with the bat. He’s currently hitting more than .300 in 19 games and has more walks than strikeouts (12-11). However, the left-handed hitter is struggling against southpaws with an OPS of just .628 (.970 vs RHPs). After hitting 21 home runs in 67 advanced-rookie level games in 2011 Rosario has just one this year but the 2011 tater total was aided by his league and home ballpark. He’ll very likely spend the entire year in low-A.

Shawn Tolleson, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 12th
Current Value: Monitor Closely

Tolleson has been nearly unhittable in 2012. He’s allowed just four hits (and no walks) in 8.0 innings. He has also struck out 15 batters. Tolleson is currently repeating double-A which is a bit of a surprise given that he posted a 1.62 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 38 games. It could be that the Dodgers want to keep the fly-ball pitcher out of the Pacific Coast League and its homer-happy ballparks. The organization already has a very impressive and talented young bullpen at the big league level with the likes of Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra and Josh Lindblom so Tolleson could be eased into a high-leverage role at the big league level.

Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 1st
Current Value: Looking Up

The 20-year-old Yelich got a late start to the year but is hitting .429 in eight games in high-A ball. He’s showing an advanced approach so far with seven walks and six extra base hits. The left-handed hitter is absolutely crushing right-handed pitchers with a .583 batting average (7-for-12) and five walks. Yelich should be MLB ready right around the time current left-fielder Logan Morrison starts to get expensive and the prospect offers a more well-rounded game, including better defense in left field (He’s currently playing CF in the minors).

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

11 Responses to “FanGraphs Prospect Stock Watch”

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  1. Aaron says:

    dont you mean MIAMI marlins?

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  2. Preston says:

    I have a hard time imagining the Red Sox trading Youkilis, or not exercising his option.

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  3. Greg says:

    Middlebrooks with another homerun (likely as you were writing this piece). Number 9 on the season.

    Also worth noting is that his K-rate and BB-rate are dramatically better this season than they have been in the past. He has 7 walks and 12 Ks in I believe 83 plate appearances (through the 7th inning in today’s game).

    That’s good for a 8.4% BB% and a 14.5% K%. For context those numbers were 5.6% and 25.0% respectively across A (short rehab stint), AA, AAA and AFL combined last year.

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  4. kingstephanos says:

    Some pundits (Cameron, Dave etc.) are not sold on Middlebrooks due to holes in his swing, though his walks and strikeout totals are even this year. Would it be too hyperbole to think that the 3B’s floor has risen significantly in 2012?

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  5. Colin says:

    “aided on offence by the potent California League ”

    When did they change it to the Canadian League?

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  6. Cm says:

    “Hamilton is running away with the title of ‘Most Exciting Player’ in the minors. ”

    Dylan Bundy says, “Not so fast in your pronouncements.”

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  7. dukestreetking says:

    This Canadian is a big fan of “Sliding” Billy Hamilton. Both the 19th century star and the current incarnation.

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