Saturday, July 14, 2012

Midseason Prospect Fallers

Friday, I looked at the five prospects that made the biggest jump in John Sickels' mid-season Top 120 rankings. Today, I'll look at the five biggest drops.

Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Royals. Now #101. Preseason #38
Cuthbert came into the season highly regarded by some because of his solid numbers as an 18-year-old against older competition in Low-A ball. So far this year, he's been terrible at High-A Wilmington. I actually got to see Cuthbert earlier in the season and came away unimpressed. He looked stockier than the 6'1", 190 that he's listed at and didn't look all that athletic. He also was swinging down on the ball a lot. Sure enough, a look at the splits shows that Cuthbert's GB% is at 56%. His numbers have improved somewhat so far this month, but the overall picture shows that he can't be regarded as a top prospect right now. In leagues with shallow farm systems, it's time to look elsewhere - at least for now.

Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees. Now #82. Preseason #45
Banuelos has been sidelined since late May with an elbow injury. I keep reading the same report - that it isn't serious - but his timetable has been pushed back at least once and it's not clear when exactly Banuelos will pitch again. He's only 21 years old, but even minor elbow issues are enough with a pitcher to give one pause. At the very least, we have to reserve judgment with Banuelos for now.

A.J. Cole, RHP, A's. Now #52. Preseason #86
Remember all of the folks who thought that the A's took the Nationals to the cleaners on the Gio Gonzalez trade? I pointed out at the time that none of the prospects that the A's got were top shelf and that the most highly regarded one - Cole - was still a teenager at the time he was acquired. Now 20, Cole hit the wall in High A ball and was demoted to A-ball. His velocity is down, and Sickels noted that Cole has had difficulty pitching out of the stretch. None of this is a deal breaker, but Cole can't be regarded as as much of a sure thing the way he was this past winter.

Michael Choice, OF, A's. Now #87. Preseason #53
Choice destroyed California League pitching last year, but has struggled this year upon his promotion to Double-A. His power numbers are down big time. Given Choice's lack of a broad base of skills, he's going to have to get at least some of that power back if he hopes to get a starting opportunity down the line. Choice might still make it, but now it looks like his timetable has been pushed back to late 2013 or 2014. For what it's worth, Choice has been on fire this month.

Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals. Now #6. Preseason #35
I wrote about Miller fairly recently, so no need to rehash that write up here. He still has amazing potential, is very young, and could still be an ace down the line. It does look like he's not going to be up this year, though. At 21, the Cardinals have no reason to rush him.

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