Since it is the beginning of the season, what better time for some quick predictions on which players are going to have big seasons that push them into the spotlight and who are going to slip prospect wise. Fill your predictions in the comments.
Greg Garcia – Garcia played both middle infield positions last year and is probably pushed more to short by Kolten Wong’s solid position at second in Springfield. In over 250 PAs in Palm Beach, (a pitcher’s league) he hit for a wOBA+ of 122. He’s already 22, and should improve his numbers in the Texas league especially with his ability to get on base and enough speed to add triples to his attack.
Xavier Scruggs – Scruggs gets overwhelmed by another slugging first baseman who was promoted over his head, but Scruggs has done nothing but put up good numbers. It is hard to get recognized as a prospect at first base, but Scruggs is a solid one. He had an OPS of .833 and a wOBA+ of 117 in a full year at Palm Beach. He still strikes out too much and needs to walk more, but his power has always been there. He’ll get noticed for his numbers in Springfield as well.
Hector Hernandez – I’ve always believed in Hernandez ever since I saw this video when he was drafted. (I mean, look at that hook!) He’s maintained a solid 8.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through his minor league career so far and has been moved along without rush as a high school draftee out of Puerto Rico. He should continue his solid results as he moves up the ladder and will get more attention as he does so.
Seth Blair – I hate to pick on the guy, but he was a high draft pick who has presented some really bad numbers in his first season of action. Blair will be moving up to Palm Beach after a 6.8 BB/9 season (with 14 HBP, 11 Wild Pitches and 2 balks) in Quad Cities. He’s obviously having serious problems focusing on his mechanics and approach that made him so successful in college. I am rooting like hell for the kid, I just do not think that the odds are stacked in his favor.
Ryan Jackson – Ryan Jackson’s hype machine is off the charts right now for good reason due to his defense. However, Jackson’s offense was underwhelming last year with a wOBA+ of 98 (below average). If we could push Jackson’s stats right up to the majors he would be fine, but unfortunately, that is not how it works. I am skeptical that his bat will hold up in AAA. I hope it will, but a down offensive season will hurt Jackson’s prospect status.
Maikel Cleto – After being totally jerked around by the Cardinals organization last season, using him at four levels including cannon fodder for the major league team, Cleto has been moved (permanently?) from starter to reliever in Memphis. He can still throw 100 MPH and strike out players with a 9 K/9 rate last year across his minor league levels, but his walk rate was up to 4.3 BB/9. With his STL appearances and 100 MPH fastball, he has been garnering attention, but until he completes a solid season in one spot and lowers his walk rate, his prospect moon is bound to wane.