Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 AB4AR MiL Season Preview: Low-A Charleston

While the Major League boys resume their regular season activity tonight in the Bronx, we're still a day away from the Minor League season kicking off.  I meant to cover these previews over the weekend, but obviously that didn't happen.  With no game action to review from last night, now seems like as good a time as any to preview the four big MiL affiliates.  We'll start off this morning with Low-A Charleston, which has seen most of last year's big talent contingent graduate but still boasts a respectable group of prospects.

We'll start in the infield, where two of the last three Yankee 1st round draft picks find themselves repeating the Low-A level after subpar seasons in 2012.  Dante Bichette, Jr. and Cito Culver will man the left side of the infield, both trying to get their offensive games on track and re-establish themselves as legitimate Major League prospects.  They'll be joined on the right side by Greg Bird, making a full-time transition to first base, and 2012 draft pick Rob Refsnyder, who's doing the same at second.  Behind the plate will be fellow 2012 pick Peter O'Brien, who will get a chance to really showcase his skills as a more polished college catcher.

The starting rotation is headlined by the returning Jose Campos, who is fully recovered from last year's elbow issues and should serve as the staff ace as he starts to work his innings count back up.  Behind him as the #2 starter will be Rafael DePaula, at long last making his US debut.  Both Campos and DePaula have top-of-the-rotation stuff and could be in line to move quickly to High-A Tampa if their stuff proves to be too much for this level of hitting competition.  Don't sleep on lefty Daniel Camarena either.  I profiled him back in January as a future prospect to watch and he should work his way into the rotation at some point thanks to his plus command.

The rest of the roster is filled out with fringe guys and organizational depth, and there's little prospect value in the outfield or bullpen.  Later in the season, expect to see some of the other high-profile 2012 draft picks like Ty Hensley and Austin Aune get bumped up to this level, likely after the first round of promotions in the summer.  There's a lot of intrigue and a lot of uncertainty with almost every big name on the Charleston roster.  If they can all stay healthy and improve upon their 2012 performances, this team could be just as strong as last year's.

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