Each weekday during the minor-league season, FanGraphs is providing a status update on multiple rookie-eligible players. This particular Prospect Watch feature will focus on prospect notes from around the minors — focusing on both top prospects and sleepers.
Recently, I wrote about the Diamondbacks’ intriguing third base prospect Brandon Drury. He’s not the only young player worth monitoring at the hot corner. Jake Lamb‘s bat has woken up after a slow start to the 2014 season at the Double-A level. He’s now up to a triple-slash line of .307/.385/.545 and the left-handed hitter is producing a .900+ OPS against both left- and right-handed pitching.
Of his 62 hits to date, 21 of them have gone for doubles and another seven have gone over the fence. Lamb has been steadier on defence than the aforementioned Drury (who’s currently one step behind in High-A ball with an .884 OPS). The off-season trade of yet another third base prospect Matt Davidson has helped to clear some of the log jam at third base. Drury is due to be added to the 40-man roster this November (to protect him from the Rule 5 draft) while Lamb doesn’t have to be added until after the ’15 season despite being one step ahead on the depth chart.
Both top pitching prospects Jon Gray and Eddie Butler continue to pitch well at the Double-A level. Gray has a 3.86 ERA in 10 starts but the fly-ball-heavy approach (39 GB%) is a little worrisome considering his home ball park will be in Colorado once he reaches the Majors. Butler, on the other hand, has been a little bit more durable while producing his 2.49 ERA in 11 appearances. He’s also utilizes the ground-ball a lot more effectively (47 GB%).
Shortstop prospect Trevor Story entered the 2013 season as one of the top prospects in the system but he fell on his face at the High-A ball level before rebounding a little bit at the end of the season to pull his OPS up to .700. He returned to the same level in 2014 and it’s been a totally different, er, story. The infielder is now slashing .323/.410/.543 through his first 43 games and a promotion should be in the near future. Story doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2015 season so the Rockies have some time to figure out exactly what the club has with the 21-year-old prospect.
With the 2014 amateur draft just a day away, all eyes are on the new crop of draft picks. The Dodgers’ ’13 draft class, now in the rearview mirror, is off to a slow start. The club’s top pick — college pitcher Chris Anderson, selected 18th overall — has been roughed up in High-A ball. The right-hander has produced a 5.96 ERA with 56 hits and 27 walks allowed in 48.1 innings of work. To be fair, though, he’s been pitching in a league that favors hitters in most parks.
Another former first round pick, Chris Reed has enjoyed his season in Double-A. The 24-year-old right-hander has allowed just 54 hits in 70.2 innings of work, although he’s struggled at times with his command and control. The lefty may not be far from his first big league promotion and he has to be added to the 40-man roster by November of this year, anyway, to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
Corey Seager, who I ranked as the club’s top prospect enter the 2014 season, is having another outstanding year. Just 20, the infielder is hitting .342/.395/.584 in 49 games at the High-A level. The youngster has generated a lot of pop. Of his 69 hits, 21 have gone for doubles, two for triples, and eight for home runs. Once he tightens up his control of the strike zone, Seager could be a monster — which is good news for his overall value since he’s likely to eventually shift from shortstop to third base.
The Padres’ top pitching prospect has had a rough go since his promotion from Double-A to Triple-A in May. The right-handed Matt Wisler struck out 35 batters with just six walks and a 2.10 ERA in six starts at the lower level before the promotion. Since then, in another six appearances, he’s struck out 22 hits with 11 walks and a 7.18 ERA. He’s also allowed 37 hits — including five home runs — in 26.1 innings. Double-A hitters went deep just twice in 30.0 innings.
A seventh round draft pick of the Padres in 2013 out of a California high school, Jake Bauers — not to be confused with Jack Bauer of ’24’ fame — had a solid but unspectacular debut in 2013. He then opened the 2014 season in extended spring training before earning a promotion to Low-A ball in later April. Just 18 years of age, the left-handed-hitting first baseman is hitting .357/.440/.557 through 33 games. Impressively, he’s struck out just 17 times in 115 at-bats and has a 1.293 OPS against southpaws.
It’s been an ugly season for the development of some of the Giants’ most talented arms, which doesn’t bode well for an organization that leans heavily on the development of its pitchers:
Adalberto Mejia, ranked 3rd overall: 6.15 ERA with 52 hits in 45.1 innings, 10/38 BB/K
Martin Agosta, ranked 5th overall: 10.55 ERA with 35 hits in 21.1 innings, 17/16 BB/K
Joan Gregorio, ranked 7th overall: 6.75 ERA with 27 hits in 22.1 innings, 13/27 BB/K
Chris Stratton, ranked 10th overall: 5.09 ERA with 53 hits in 53.0 innings, 22/49 BB/K
Kyle Crick (1st overall) has pitched OK in Double-A but the 21-year-old hurler has seen his control take a step backward with 26 free passes in 34.0 innings while also dealing with injuries. Clayton Blackburn (8th overall) allowed 52 hits in 42.1 innings before hitting the disabled list.
Edwin Escobar (2nd overall) has had the most success of the pitchers in the Top 15 ranking. Even so, the left has allowed 73 hits in just 65.1 innings to go along with a 4.82 ERA.
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