Every Thursday throughout the season, Minor Impacts takes a look at some of the hottest minor league players that could have impacts at the Major League Level in the near future. With the end to the minor league season less than a month away, many of the players we’re looking at now will be making their impacts in early-to-mid 2010. Some of the players we’ve educated you on before their promotions include: Vince Mazzaro, Andrew McCutchen, Gordon Beckham, Alex Avila, Brian Matusz, Marc Rzepczynski, Jake Fox, Nolan Reimold, Daniel Bard, Bud Norris, and Mat Latos.
Brian Bogusevic: Pitcher-to-hitter conversions have been pretty trending over the past few seasons and Bogusevic’s switch received a lot of attention last year. Things have quieted down in that regard in 2009, but the talented outfielder just keeps plugging along for Houston in triple-A. He currently has a line of .278/.354/.374, which is extremely encouraging considering that this is his first full season as a hitter. The biggest disappointment to this point has been his lack of power, something that was a strength of his in college. Currently, his ISO is just .098. However, he is hitting for a decent average, he’s stolen 18 bases in 21 tries and he’s taken his fair share of walks (10.2 BB%). Bogusevic, a left-handed hitter, does struggle against southpaws with an OPS of just .650. The 25-year-old has the potential to be a solid regular center fielder, but he probably won’t be a star.
Josh Bell: Entering the 2009 season, the Baltimore Orioles organization had a problem. Incumbent third baseman Melvin Mora was getting older and his numbers were beginning to slip. As the season now nears its end, nothing has changed in that regard. However, the club now has a replacement, something that was sorely lacking at the beginning of the season. Bell, 22, has responded to the trade by hitting .364/.442/.682 in 44 double-A at-bats with Baltimore. Overall, he’s hitting .304/.393/.519 with 15 homers and 32 doubles in 378 at-bats. Bell is also showing a solid approach at the plate with respectable strikeout and walk rates.
Michael Taylor: The Philadelphia organization is probably pretty happy with the way the trade deadline turned out. The club received veteran Cliff Lee in a trade and he’s been lights-out in the National League. The club also managed to hang on to most – if not all – its top prospects. One of those prospects – Taylor – has shown the potential to be an impact player at the MLB level once a spot opens up for him in the outfield. After hitting .333/.408/.569 in 318 double-A at-bats, Taylor moved up to triple-A where he is hitting .282/.359/.491 in 110 at-bats. Overall, he has 20 homers and 21 steals, as well as a strikeout rate below 20 K%, which is excellent for a hitter with 20-25 home run potential.
Lucas May: With some questions surrounding Russell Martin (especially concerning his lack of power), the incumbent No. 1 catcher in Los Angeles, the Dodgers organization may need to look for a replacement sooner rather than later. Having basically given catching prospect Carlos Santana away to the Indians (a terrible decision, even at the time), the club must hope that May can continue to build off of his 2009 season – a year in which the 24-year-old catcher repeated double-A with respectable results. The right-handed hitter is currently batting .281/.374/.427 with six homers in 199 at-bats. May was converted to catcher in 2007 and he’s still a little rough around the edges defensively, but he’s the best in-house option that the club has at double-A or triple-A.
Danny Dorn: Cincinnati outfield prospects like Todd Frazier and Chris Heisey get a lot of ink, but Dorn has quietly put together a respectable pro career. A former 32nd-round pick out of Cal State Fullerton in 2006 as a senior, the left-handed hitter slugged 20 or more home runs in both 2007 and 2008. His power numbers have been muted a bit in triple-A Louisville this season (His ISO is still .184), but Dorn still has the potential to provide some pop off of a big-league bench. A poor defensive player, Dorn could also be a valuable platoon player in the American League as a designated hitter. He has hit just .197/.239/.394 against southpaws in his career, but he has a line of .293/.358/.475 against right-handers.
Neil Walker: It’s hard to believe that Walker was once the pride of Pittsburgh. A native of Pennsylvania, the former catcher was drafted with the club’s first-round pick in 2004 out of an area high school. Things really began to go downhill for Walker when he was unable to stick at catcher and moved to third base, where he provides below-average offense for the position. He’s been unable to maintain a respectable average or show the patience at the plate necessary to succeed in triple-A, let alone the Majors. Currently, he’s hitting .256/.306/.472 with 12 homers in 309 at-bats. Still only 23, a change of scenery may be the best thing for this former top prospect.
Jose Vallejo: Rumored to be headed to Houston as part of the loot in the Pudge Rodriguez trade, this Rangers second base prospect is having an off season. After hitting .292 with 11 homers and 42 steals in 2008, Vallejo has slumped to .245/.290/.316 with just two homers and 10 stolen bases in 392 at-bats split between double-A and triple-A. Fortunately, he’s still just 22 years old and is a solid buy-low risk, especially for an organization that is attempting to rebuild its farm system from virtually nothing.