Monday, June 9, 2014

Catching Up With The 2014 AB4AR Top 30

(Do it, Luis.  Do the damn thing.  Courtesy of

The completion of the draft marks an unofficial checkpoint of sorts for the Minor League season.  With a fresh crop of players ready to join the organizational ranks, start their pro careers, and insert themselves into the prospect conversation, the timing is perfect to look back at the crop of pre-existing prospects and gauge how they've performed over the first few months.

The 2013-2014 edition of the AB4AR Top 30 was released on the final week of January.  A lot has happened to those 30 players since then, some good, like Rob Refsnyder's Double-A breakout, and some bad, like Jose Campos' Tommy John Surgery.  Here's a quick check-in on all 30 prospects to see where they sit and how they're trending towards the second half of this season.

30) Shane Greene (Currently at Triple-A)- Earned a promotion to the SWB rotation after spring camp, but injuries and role shuffling precipitated by an early-season call up have slowed his momentum.  Has pitched to a 6.57 ERA/3.52 FIP split in 38.1 IP at Triple-A.

29) Refsnyder (Double-A)- Hitting .342/.385/.548 (.415 wOBA) in his first year at the Double-A level and has been an absolute tear for the last month or so.  Early-season offensive MVP of the system.

28) Ben Gamel (Double-A)- Has a .705 OPS and .323 wOBA in his return trip to Trenton.  Not drawing many walks or hitting for power, but improving his overall contact rate.

27) Jordan Cote (Low-A)- Graduated to the full-season leagues but converted to a reliever, Cote has given up 13 ER and struck out 18 in 22.0 IP over 12 appearances for the RiverDogs.

26) Miguel Andujar (Low-A)- Also bumped to the full-season leagues at age 19, Andujar has struggled to adjust to better competition (.618 OPS in 230 PA) while still showing his plus natural hitting tools (improving BB rate, sub-20% K rate).

25) Angelo Gumbs (High-A)- .288 wOBA and a 24.3% K rate in his return trip to this level.  His lack of real hitting skills has really been exposed.

24) Bryan Mitchell (Double-A)- Had his routine disrupted by a random call-up as well, but has pitched pretty well in 9 starts (4.37 ERA/2.51 FIP, 40 K in 35.0 IP).

23) Vidal Nuno (Major League Rotation)- Won a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, and has pitched out of the rotation since late April.  Has a 5.33/5.05/4.27 tripleslash in 52.1 IP.

22) Luis Torrens (Low-A)- Didn't hit much in 34 PA (.154 BA) but did draw a lot of walks (6) before going down with a shoulder injury.

21) Abi Avelino (Low-A)- Continues to show good natural hitting skill in his first year of full-season ball.  Has a .294/.349/.387 slash line in 131 PA with 11 SB and was playing good defense before getting hurt.

20) Gosuke Katoh (Low-A)- Would have been better served getting another year at Staten Island.  Has been overwhelmed by Low-A pitching (.287 wOBA, 35.4% K rate).

19) Ramon Flores (Triple-A)- Starting to show off a little power in his first year at Triple-A with 5 HR and a career best .447 SLG while still maintaining strong K and BB rates.  May have been moving into position for a call-up before he suffered a knee injury last week.

18) Zoilo Almonte (Triple-A)- Has hit for power at Triple-A (8 HR in 38 games).  Hasn't hit at all when called up to the Majors again (9 K in 19 PA).

17) Mark Montgomery (Triple-A)- It's starting to look like he'll never reach the level of promise he once showed.  He's striking plenty of guys out at Triple-A and he's also walking a ton.  Command just might not be there.

16) Luis Severino (Low-A)- Has a sub-3.00 ERA and FIP in 12 starts for Charleston.  With 56 K and only 11 BB in 56.1 IP, I have to imagine he's ticketed for a late-summer promotion to Tampa.  He's establishing himself as one of the best pitching prospects on the team.

15) Ty Hensley (SS Staten Island)- Fully recovered from his hip surgeries, Hensley has been throwing since the winter and is on track to start the summer season in the Staten Island rotation.

14) Greg Bird (High-A)- Lost a few weeks early in the season due to recurring back problems.  Since coming back, he's been a little hot and cold at the plate, with a .252/.341/.405 line in 129 PA.

13) Nik Turley (Triple-A)- Hurt his shoulder early in ST and hasn't come back since.  He's been removed from the 40-man roster and stuck on the 60-day DL.  As far as I know, there's no timetable for his return.  He may not even be throwing in Tampa yet.

12) Jose Ramirez (Major League Bullpen)- Suffered a ST injury of his own, but has come back from it pretty well.  He's finally been moved to a full-time relief role and he struck out 13 in 10.2 IP over 5 Triple-A appearances before being called up the Major League 'pen last week and making 2 appearances there.

11) Aaron Judge (Low-A)- If Refsnyder isn't the organizational offensive MVP, then Judge is.  Owns a .315/.417/.502 slash line in 254 PA and has shown much better natural hitting ability than first reported.  He should probably be at High-A Tampa now.

10) Campos (High-A)- Was put on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft, then got shut down and scheduled for TJS after another elbow problem.  Out until summer of 2015.

9) Ian Clarkin (Low-A)- A recent rough outings have sullied his stat lines, but Clarkin has shown plus stuff (32 K) and command (8 BB) in his first 32.2 innings of full-season experience.

8) Manny Banuelos (Double-A)- Has had his innings closely monitored in his first season back from TJS.  In 29.1 spread over a dozen High-A and Double-A appearances, he's given up 12 ER and struck out 31 batters.  Overcame a recent bout of shoulder fatigue to pitch 3 innings last night.

7) Eric Jagielo (High-A)- Hit 10 HR and had a 10.7% BB rate before hitting the DL a few weeks ago.  Haven't heard when he's coming back, but it seems like his hit and defensive tools aren't as advertised.

6) Rafael De Paula (High-A)- Strikeouts aren't the problem for him in his return to this level.  He's got 66 in 52.1 IP.  He also has 25 BB, but that's an improvement over last year so the team should keep developing him as a starter.

5) Mason Williams (Double-A)- His star is really starting to fade.  Only has a .595 OPS in 252 PA and has lost playing time both for injury and supposed attitude problems again.

4) Slade Heathcott (Double-A)- Had offseason knee surgery and missed all of ST.  Was working his way back into game shape and hitting .182/.250/.242 for the Thunder before recently being shut down and returning to the doctor to check on the surgically-repaired knee.

3) Tyler Austin (Double-A)- Missed some more time early because of the pesky wrist injury.  Has been coming around lately since returning to action though, with 10 H, 8 R, 5 RBI, and 4 BB in his last 10 games.

2) John Ryan Murphy (Major League Bench)- Got called up to replace Frankie Cervelli as the backup in April and has played pretty well in the role.  His bat has cooled down considerably in the last few weeks, but he's still managed a .296/.320/.371 slash in 56 PA.  Has looked very good behind the plate too.

1) Gary Sanchez (Double-A)- Another "good but not great" campaign thus far for the young catcher.  He's hitting .251/.329/.417 (.339 wOBA) in 225 PA, and that's after a recent 5-10 game surge.

So that's how the latest AB4AR Top 30 has faired so far.  Not a terrible year for the organization by any means, but certainly not one you'd call great either.

If you're wondering, yes I've already started working on next year's rankings and yes I have an idea of where players from this weekend's draft would fit in.  Right now I've got 4 draft picks penciled into the 2014-2015 top 30.  DeCarr would come in around 12-14, Lindgren 15-18, Montgomery 20-24, and Foley 28-30.

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