It’s been more than a week since the minor league season got underway so let’s check in with some of the top prospects in each of the National League West organizations. I’ll be focusing pretty heavily on hitters in the early going since most pitchers have only made one or two appearances. (All stats prior to Sunday’s results).
As if Brandon Allen didn’t have enough of a hill to climb in Arizona. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt just missed my Arizona Top 10 list but he’s working hard to prove that it was a mistake on my part. In nine double-A games, he’s hitting .357/.514/.929 and has five homers. He’s also walked more (nine) than he’s struck out (seven). Outfielder A.J. Pollock missed all of 2010 with an injury but the organization was aggressive with him and jumped him to double-A for ’11. He’s currently hitting .324 with just two strikeouts in 34 at-bats. Top prospect Jarrod Parker has made just one start in double-A and he was roughed up; keep in mind that he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery so inconsistency is to be expected. Catcher Rossmel Perez is a sleeper prospect for the D-Backs. He’s repeating high-A ball but is still just 21. He’s hitting .360 with six walks and just three strikeouts. He hasn’t had an extra base hit in eight games, though. Corner infield prospect Bobby Borchering is struggling in high-A ball with an average of just .088 in nine games. He’s struck out 12 times with just one walk.
There are not a ton of prospects in the Dodgers system that truly get me excited but the club has two interesting prospects in triple-A: shortstop Dee Gordon and outfielder Jerry Sands. Gordon, just 23, is currently hitting .333/.370/.429 in 42 at-bats. He still needs to make adjustments at the plate, though, as he has 13 strikeouts and just two walks. Sands is hitting .400 and has five homers in 10 games. A lot of things went wrong with the organization’s pitching prospects in 2010 and things are not looking good early on in ’11 – although both Ethan Martin and Allen Webster are getting hit around in the potent California League. Martin has a 13.50 ERA in two starts, while Webster has an 8.68 ERA in as many starts. Unfortunately all four starts have been bad. Fellow pitching prospects Garrett Gould (six hits in 11.0 innings) and Zach Lee (12 Ks, 1.00 ERA in 9.0 innings) are both off to nice starts in the low-A Midwest League.
Outfielder Charlie Blackmon could be in Colorado before you know it. He plays solid defense and is currently hitting .289 with four homers and five walks in 10 games. He`s done nothing but hit throughout his entire pro career. Rex Brothers, a 2009 draft pick, is already working out of the triple-A bullpen. The southpaw has six strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work and has been inducing a lot of ground balls. Fellow `09 draft pick Tim Wheeler, an outfielder, is hitting well in double-A with a triple-slash line of .324/.429/.647 in nine games. Keep an eye on Juan Nicasio who has 13 Ks and zero walks in 10.0 innings of work during two starts. In high-A, Chad Bettis has 12 Ks and four walks in 10.2 innings of work. Former No. 1 draft pick Tyler Matzek is struggling with a 9.95 ERA and eight walks in 6.1 innings (over two starts). The club’s top pick in the 2010 draft, outfielder Kyle Parker, is off to a solid start with a .357 average in nine games.
Low on offense, the Giants’ double-A affiliate is led by second baseman Charlie Culberson and his .268 batting average. He’s struck out 11 times in 10 games and has yet to take a walks. Eric Surkamp is taking advantage of the favorable environment in double-A and has a 2.00 ERA through two games. He’s struck out 15 batters with three walks in 9.0 innings. Clayton Tanner, another young starter, has struggled on the young season with a 7.00 ERA in 9.0 innings. He’s given up 13 hits and four walks. The high-A hitters are having a much better time of things in the potent California League. Catcher Tommy Joseph has a triple-slash line of .340/.373/.574 in 11 games. Gary Brown, a 2010 top draft pick, is off to a fast start with 10 steals in 14 tries. He’s currently hitting .318/.434/.364 in 44 at-bats. He’s hit just one extra base hit (a triple) but has walked seven times with just six Ks. Young starting pitcher Zack Wheeler has survived the league and has a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 11 batters with just four hits and four walks allowed. A former big-ticket Latin signee, Rafael Rodriguez is struggling with the bat in low-A ball. Still just 18, he’s hitting .229/.270/.286 in 10 games. On the positive side, he’s struck out just twice.
Acquired in the off-season from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is on fire with 16 RBI and a .390 average in nine games at triple-A. Logan Forsythe appears recovered from a sluggish 2010 season and is currently hitting .306 with 11 RBI and 11 runs scored. He also has seven walks in eight games. Not surprisingly for the Pacific Coast League, the hitters are hot but the pitchers are not. Simon Castro has a 9.90 ERA in two starts. He’s given up 13 hits and six walks in 10.0 innings. Another trade acquisition, Casey Kelly has a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings but has struck out just three batters at double-A. The double-A club has seven batters hitting more than .350. James Darnell is batting .514 in nine games; He has six doubles and eight walks with just one strikeout. Jaff Decker is currently hitting .366 with 11 of his 15 hits going for extra bases. He also has 11 walks and nine Ks. At high-A ball, the organization has yet another offensive-minded club. Jedd Gyorko is hitting .341 in 11 games. He’s walked eight times with just five strikeouts. Third baseman Edinson Rincon has a triple-slash line of .333/.429/.556 in 36 at-bats. Catcher Jason Hagerty is hitting .306 but has struck out 12 times in nine games, while walking just once. Pitcher Keyvius Sampson is on fire in low-A ball. He has yet to give up a run in two starts. The right-hander has given up two runs and one walk with 19 Ks in 11.0 innings.
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