Thursday, April 19, 2012

In the Minors - National League Position Player Prospects

It is always interesting to take a look at the minor leagues this time of year.  Much like the major leagues, the minor leagues are filled with hot starts, cold starts and everything in between.  We get excited about players and down on players over 30 at-bats and 10 innings pitched.  Of course, auction season is just about over, so we need something to get excited about, right?  So, today, we will take a look at a random sample of hitting prospects and see what kind of start each is off to this season.

Bryce Harper

Harper is off to a bit of a rough start at Syracuse, hitting .245 with no home runs and one stolen base.  The sample size is pretty small, however, so it is hard to draw any specific conclusions.  Moreover, Harper is usually the youngest guy on the field by about four years, so we can take the slow start with a grain of salt.  The Nationals say the Mike Morse injury (another 6 weeks now) will not affect Harper’s time-table.  Time will tell; if the Nationals begin to fade a bit, Harper will be up to stay.

Anthony Rendon

I would put up Rendon’s stat line, but those 6 plate appearances before going down with another injury really do not tell us much.  More disturbing than the fact Rendon will be out six weeks is the fact that he suffered his fourth significant injury in the past few years (shoulder, right ankle fracture, right ankle ligaments, left ankle fracture).  The question for Rendon is: can he be healthy?

Nolan Arenado

The only question with Arenado is whether the Rockies will call him up straight from AA in June, or whether the team will promote him to AAA first.  Arenado is hitting .364 with a seven/five K/BB ratio.  If it were me, I would leave him right where he is and let him continue to develop the momentum he has had since pitch one this season.  Arenado is on the fast track to Coors Field; there is no reason to derail him.

Yasmani Grandal

Grandal is hitting .500 for Tucson, but only has 15 plate appearances.  We will take a closer look at Grandal later in the season, since he should, barring an injury, be in the minors for most of the year.

Anthony Rizzo

Now here is someone who could have an impact in the majors sooner rather than later.  While Rizzo struggled last year in his MLB debut, he does have major league experience and he is mashing AAA pitching.  Of course, the fact the Cubs are 3-8 is not Bryan LaHair’s fault.  You could, however, move him to the outfield and let Rizzo play first base, replacing the struggling Marlon Byrd.  The downside there, however, is that Byrd plays centerfield, and it makes more sense to bring up Brett Jackson.  Ultimately, the Cubs should get what they can for LaHair and install Rizzo at first base full time; we will see how long it takes to accomplish that.

Brett Jackson

Speaking of Brett Jackson…how about that nearly 33% strike-out rate?  This is pretty consistent for Jackson; this is not just small sample size.  The Cubs cannot be happy that he is not making progress in this department, though it is still very early in the season.  If Jackson were hitting like Rizzo, we would already be hearing the Byrd rumors.  With Jackson just playing so-so, however, the whispers should be inaudible at this point.

Gary Brown

This is probably not the start Gary Brown, or the Giants, wanted to see.  I did not run the major league equivalency for these numbers because we can all agree they stink.  The only positive to take here is Brown is not striking out much.  Since he is not doing much of anything, well, there is something to be said for consistency.

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