Monday, January 14, 2013

2012-2013 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: Those We've Lost

 (From #1 in our hearts to negative WAR in Seattle.  So long, sweet prince)

Before we jump into this year's AB4AR Top 30, it's only appropriate to look back at the guys from last year's inaugural Top 30 who fell off the list.  That's right, people.  I'm teasing you with some prospect foreplay before getting to the main event.  You know you love it.

As I stated last night, last year's list was admittedly full of some big misses on my part, and some of those misses have been corrected by not having them re-appear on this year's list.  But there were also some guys who played their way off the list, some guys who were let go by the organization, some who were traded away, and one who graduated to the Majors with a solid rookie season.  There was high turnover from last year to this year, with 9 players from the first Top 30 failing to make this year's edition.  After the jump, check out who those players are, what led to their dismissal/removal from this year's rankings, and what's in store for them in 2013.

Branden Pinder- RHRP, AA Trenton (2011-2012 Rank: 29th)

The fact that he didn't manage to stay in the Top 30 this year doesn't necessarily mean Pinder had a bad year.  His 2.79 ERA/2.92 FIP and 67 K in 69.0 IP were very good, and he continued to show the potential to be a factor in the Yankee bullpen as early as 2014.  But his numbers in High-A Tampa this past season weren't as eye-popping as his 2011 debut numbers, and when his 2011 debut counterpart Mark Montgomery's were it's hard to keep moving Pinder up the ladder.

Kyle Roller- 1B/DH, High-A Tampa (11-12 Rank: 28th)

I thought Roller had potential as a future DH or bench bat for the Yankees based on his polish as a college hitter with some power and his already advanced ability to work counts and draw walks.  But after putting up a .365 wOBA in 60 games at High-A last season, he spent the entire 2012 season in Tampa again and didn't dominate the way a college hitter repeating a level should, hitting .266/.357/.471, good for a .378 wOBA.  Roller has some offensive skill, but seems destined for a career as organizational depth, likely to start this season in Trenton.

George Kontos- RHRP, SF Giants (11-12 Rank: 24th)

The highest ranking of the 4 relief pitchers to crack last year's Top 30, Kontos was traded for backup catcher Chris Stewart before he even had a chance to make an impact in the 2012 Yankee bullpen.  While it's hard to say the Yankees will regret that move given the amount of bullpen depth they have, Kontos made the questionable trade look even worse by posting a 2.47/2.80/3.25 tripleslash with 9.07 K/9 in 43.2 IP in San Fran.  He also got himself a championship ring, so kudos to him.

Rob Segedin- 3B/OF, AA Trenton (11-12 Rank: 17th)

Segedin was another college hitter I was probably too high on based on small sample sizes.  He opened the 2012 season repeating High-A and raked to the tune of a .293/.359/.445 slash line (.366 wOBA).  But for the second straight year, Segedin struggled to repeat that success once he was promoted, posting just a .248 wOBA in 182 PA for Trenton.  He doesn't hit for much power and doesn't have a defined position, so like Roller, Segedin looks to be settling into a career MiL role.

Brandon Laird- 3B, Houston Astros (11-12 Rank: 15th)

It's a shame that Laird didn't pan out once he hit the higher levels, because he would have had a prime opportunity to earn third base reps this year.  His sluggish 2011 in Triple-A continued through 130 games there again in 2012, until the Yankees DFA'd Laird right before roster expansions in September.  He was picked up by the Astros, hit .257/.297/.371 in 17 games with them, and as horrible as they are he has a chance to win a bench job there this season.

Graham Stoneburner- RHRP, AA Trenton (11-12 Rank: 14th)

Stoneburner's reasons for falling off the list from a spot in the top half might be the saddest.  He struggled through an injury-plagued 2011 season only to have the same problems creep up on him in 2012, to the point that the Yankees have now scrapped using him as a starting pitcher and used the end of this past season to start his transition to the bullpen.  Stoneburner still has plus stuff, but at age 25 it's starting to get late for him to turn his career into something meaningful.  If he can stay healthy in 2013, he is an intriguing relief prospect.

D.J. Mitchell- RHSP, Seattle Mariners (11-12 Rank: 12th)

An AB4AR favorite, Mitchell was unable to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster and lost a lot of his prospect luster with a pedestrian year in the Triple-A rotation.  He had pitched to a 5.04 ERA/3.96 FIP in 85.2 IP before being part of the trade package that brought Ichiro to New York.  Mitchell did pitch to a 4.15 FIP in 8 starts for Seattle's Triple-A affiliate, with K and BB rates worse than what he had done in SWB, and he'll likely open this season as part of the rotation in Triple-A Tacoma again.

David Phelps- RHSP, New York Yankees (11-12 Rank: 8th)

Without a doubt the greatest success story of last year's AB4AR Top 30 class was Phelps, who parlayed early injuries and poor performances in the Yankee pitching staff into opportunity after opportunity to showcase his skills.  Phelps got plenty of work as a middle reliever, long reliever, and a starter, and overall his 3.34/4.32/4.01 slash and 96 K in 99.2 Major League IP were a very good debut for a guy who wasn't expected to contribute much.  Phelps will enter 2013 with a chance to steal the 5th starter job from Ivan Nova, and one way or another I think we'll be seeing plenty more of him.

Jesus Montero- C/DH, Seattle Mariners (11-12 Rank: 1st)

The crown jewel of any and every top Yankee prospects list last year, The Jesus was shockingly traded away last January as part of the Michael Pineda deal, a deal that the Yankees find themselves on the losing side of early.  The only reason they aren't already big losers is because Montero's full-season debut in 2012 didn't match up to the fireworks he created in his 2011 cup of coffee.  Montero hit .260/.298/.386 in 553 PA with 15 HR, and over the course of the season was worth -0.2 fWAR because of his poor defense.  Those questions about his future behind the plate are only going to get louder, but from a Yankee standpoint it would be nice to still have his right-handed bat around.

** Coming up tomorrow- the guys who just missed the cut. **

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