Thursday, June 16, 2011

Still on the Farm: A.L. Edition

It's been a big week for A.L.-only Rotisserie/fantasy players when it comes to minor leaguers. Mike Moustakas was called up last week and Dustin Ackley will be in a Mariners uniform for tomorrow's game against the Phillies.

I wrote about Moustakas as part of my Gearing Up column last Friday and will write about Ackley tomorrow. Today, I thought I'd look at five premier A.L. prospects, see how they're doing, and guess at what their timetable is.

Brett Lawrie (AAA). Age 21. 223 AB, 51 R, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 11 SB, 354/415/677.
Considered a very good prospect by most entering 2011, Lawrie's bat has exceeded the expectations of even his most optimistic supporters. It seemed like the Jays were on the verge of promoting him before Lawrie got hit by a pitch and broke his hand. He's at least two to three weeks away from returning to game action, but unless the Blue Jays are in the thick of the race they might be conservative with him. His defense is still an open question to be polite about it, so while Lawrie's bat may seem Major League ready he might not be up until September.

Desmond Jennings (AAA). Age 24. 245 AB, 47 R, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 12 SB, 282/377/469.
Jennings had a down year in 2010 that was due to a wrist injury that sapped his power. The power is back this year and there is a good deal of speculation that Jennings will be up Post All-Star. His upside is probably as a 20/20 player, but that might be generous. I have to admit that I'm not a big Jennings fan. His plate discipline is good, but the MLE of that batting average could be .250 and Jennings doesn't have the kind of big time power bat that will eliminate the pain of that average. If Jennings does make it up this year he could wind up in some kind of job share, so keep that in mind as well.

Jesus Montero (AAA). Age 21 209 AB, 20 R, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB, 292/338/421.
I haven't been paying close attention to Montero's numbers of late so I just assumed that he was ripping the cover off of the ball at AAA based on the way some Yankee fans/bloggers have been clamoring for a call-up. However, these numbers aren't good even for a 21-year-old at AAA. There are also a few other warning signs here. First, Montero is sliding in the wrong direction; his 194/306/323 slash line in June isn't earning him a call up. He hits a lot of ground balls for a power hitter so while everyone is expecting big time power; I'm not, at least not right away. I'm not writing Montero off permanently. He's a 21-year-old playing the toughest position on the diamond and is still very young for his league. I do believe that the drumbeat for his immediate call-up is premature, though, and that the Yankees probably are going to leave him on the farm until September.

Mike Trout (AA). Age 19. 213 AB, 50 R, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 23 SB, 329/431/559.
Trout is best prospect in baseball not named Bryce Harper, though given what Trout has done so far as a professional I wouldn't laugh in your face if you said you preferred Trout. His downside right now looks like Andrew McCutchen, keeping in mind the difficulty of trying to figure out how a 19-year-old is going to look in the Major Leagues. Some think that the Angels are going to be tempted to promote Trout this year, but given that he doesn't turn 20 until August it seems far more likely they'll wait. A July promotion to AAA and a legitimate shot to make the Angels out of Spring Training in 2012 seems like the fast track for Trout.

Lonnie Chisenhall (AAA). Age 22. 232 AB, 39 R, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 0 SB 250/342/392.
Chisenhall doesn't play for a Yankees affiliate like Montero does so there isn't quite as much speculation about if or when he'll be called up. But there is a good amount of speculation, which is puzzling when you look at the numbers. To be fair, a recent slump knocked Chis' numbers down from where they were, but a 734 OPS at AAA doesn't make my heart go all a' flutter, even when the in-house option in the Majors is Jack Hannahan. Chisenhall is out of the line-up due to a minor injury but also because he's on a "mental break." Like Montero, I don't think Chisenhall will be up any time soon. Unlike Montero, while I don't think this is a make-or-break year for Chis, I do think that if his numbers don't improve, his ranking has to be downgraded at least somewhat.

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