We’ve already seen him in action in a high profile setting in the post season but he still qualifies as a rookie and that’s why MLB.com choose Matt Moore as the top prospect in baseball. In 2011, he dominated at every turn he made and he finished the minor league season with 210 strikeouts against 46 walks in 155 innings. It’s been a long time coming for this 2007 draft pick who also has proved his mettle in a few major league games including his post season start.
He won’t turn 23 until June and this is why the Rays have been so successful. Moore was an eighth round pick who could turn out to be the ace of the staff. The Rays thought so much of him that they locked him up through 2016 with team options through 2019. This kid is going to be fun to watch.
Dae-Eun Rhee led the team with 117 strikeouts and he walked 43 in 127 2/3 innings. He was hittable though and he finished with a 4.02 ERA and just an 8-7 record but eight wins led the team as well.
Aaron Kurcz had a very nice 91 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings in 2011. He did walk 34 though and the Cubs can’t decide whether to start him or bring him out of the pen. He did have a 3.28 ERA which was one of the better marks on the team.
Jeffry Antigua struck out 81 and walked only 18 in 83 1/3 innings. He also started and pitched out of the pen and he had an impressive 2.92 ERA. Home runs were a problem though and he gave up nine.
Brian Van Kirk led the team in OPS (regulars only) with an .879 mark. He didn’t do anything one thing particularly well and he didn’t lead the team in anything else but he was very reliable. His 17 home runs were third on the team and his 89/50 strikeout to walk ratio was solid enough. He was particularly good against lefties with a .325 batting average.
Brad Glenn led the team with 26 home runs. He also drove in 80 but he didn’t show much patience with 123 strikeouts and just 30 walks. Still, he was good for an .833 OPS.
Brad McElroy led the team with 31 stolen bases and his 63 runs were third on the team. He doesn’t strike out much and there’s not a lot of power but this guy could make a solid table setter down the line.
Justin Bour led the team in just about everything in 2011. He finished with 23 home runs, 85 RBIs and an .813 OPS. He also was very durable and played 133 games. He does have a pretty extreme platoon split though. He hit .311 against right handed pitching but just .182 against left handed pitching.
Matthew Cerda posted an impressive 71/71 strikeout to walk ratio in 2011. That was good for a .394 OBP and while he doesn’t have much power, he could turn into a nice table setter for the Jays going forward.
Michael Burgess was second on the team with 20 home runs but he hit just .225. He did draw 60 walks though. Still, the all power thing means his OPS is going to be perpetually dragged down because of that low on base percentage.
Stockton had their share of quality hurlers. Here were the best of the best in 2011.
Robert Gilliam – Gilliam led the team in innings pitched (164 1/3), strikeouts (156), walks (48) and wins (12) despite sporting a 5.04 ERA and a mediocre ground ball rate. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Gilliam moves up. If he can keep striking guys, he’ll be okay but for a strikeout pitcher, his hit rate (.263 batting average against) may get him into trouble.
Daniel Straily – Straily was a lot like Gilliam (pitched a lot of innings for Stockton and racked up some strike outs) but he finished with a much nicer 3.87 ERA. This was due in part to Straily giving up only ten home runs versus Gilliam’s 24. Still, he should be set for a solid showing in Double-A.
Anthony Huttenlocker – This reliever struck out 60 and walked only 12 in 69 innings. He was 4-0 and he sported an impressive 1.83 ERA. Good stuff by this left hander who gave up only three home runs.
Scott Shuman was 0-4 with a 4.70 ERA but he stuck out 86 in 51 2/3 innings. The problem is, he also walked 59. If this kid can ever get that control taken care of, he could be beast because he held hitters to a .159 batting average.
Alexander Colome led the team with nine wins and he struck out 92 in 105 2/3 innings. His 44 walks were on the high side but he held hitters in check and even held his own in limited time at Double-A.
Sergio Espinosa had a 1.95 ERA and he struck out 33 and walked only seven in 37 innings. He wasn’t quite as good when he was bumped up to Double-A but he held his own. He’s on the older side but he’s lefty so there might be a future for him.
Tyler Bortnick led all regulars with an .860 OPS due in large part to an exceptional 67/79 strikeout to walk ratio. He also stole a team high 43 bases and while the power isn’t there he was second on the team with 34 doubles. He’s a little older so I don’t know if he’s the second baseman of the future but he bears watching in Double-A next year.
Hak-Ju Lee was second on the team in OPS with .832. He had eleven triples and he finished second to Bortnick with 28 stolen bases but he was caught 14 times. Like Bortnick, a lot of his OPS comes from batting average so it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep this level of hitting as he moves through the ranks.
Mark Thomas led the team with thirteen home runs but he hit only .237. He’ll be 24 and with just a .299 OBP it’s hard to tell if he’ll make it but there’s definitely some pop to his bat. He just has to make contact more often.
Nestor Molina led the team with 115 strikeouts and he was 10-3 with a 2.58 ERA. He also had a really nice showing in five starts at Double-A so this guy looks like a keeper. Oh yeah, and he just turned 23 and he walked only 14 guys.
Deck McGuire struck out 102 in 104 2/3 innings and he finished 7-4 with a 2.75 ERA. Fly balls are an issue but this kid still has some time to develop.
Wes Etheridge was the team’s closer and he struck out 38 and walked only 7 in 47 2/3 innings. He saved 32 and he finished with a very nice 1.89 ERA. This is an extreme ground ball pitcher. He had 3.57 ground balls for every fly ball with Dunedin in 2011.
When it comes to Stockton hitters, one guy rose above the rest but he wasn’t the only guy who had a nice season. Here are a few hitters that were tops on the team in 2011.
Michael Choice – the team’s top prospect, Choice belted 30 home runs, drove in 82 and he drew 61 walks. That was good for an OPS of .918 over the course of a solid season for Stockton. It’s going to be fun to see this kid move up the ladder.
Anthony Aliotti – Aliotti was second on the team with 80 walks and a .392 OBP in a solid season. He was second to Choice amongst the regulars with a .788 OPS and but his big problem is, he’s a firstbaseman without a lot of power.
Connor Crumbliss – Another solid OBP guy, Crumbliss drew a team high 96 walks and he was second on the team in runs with 75. His .404 OBP was nice but he showed even less power the Aliotti. Still, you can’t argue with a guy who walks 96 times and only strikeouts out 85.
Jeff Beliveau – The top reliever on the squad, Beliveau struck out 69 with 13 walk in 57 innings. He oddly gave up seven home runs though and fly balls are an issue. He finished 6-1 and this was after he was lights out in Dayton.
Ryan Searle – Probably the best of the starters, Searle finished with a 3.51 ERA and a 5-3 record. His rates weren’t that great and he had 66 strikeouts and 43 walks in 84 2/3 innings.
Jeff Stevens – Another hard thrower, Stevens struck out 52 and walked 16 in 41 2/3 innings. he finished 3-0 with a solid 2.59 ERA. Oddly he was death on left handed hitters and he held them to a .152 batting average against.
With the hitters, the Fisher Cats also had their share of solid pitchers. Here’s the best of the lot.
Joel Carreno – The ace of the rotation, Carreno only went 7-9, but he struck out 152 in 134 2/3 innings. His solid performance eventually led him to the big leagues where he had a solid finish in the Jays pen. Walks are a concern (he had 68) and while his batting average against is .208, he gives up a lot of fly balls so he could have a rough transition to the big leagues.
Reidier Gonzalez – Gonzalez is more of a pitch to contact pitcher and it’s a little surprising that he went 8-3 with a 3.36 ERA. He did it while having a .292 batting average against and he struck out just 52 batters in 99. He only had 27 walks and two home runs though. He was hammered in five starts for Las Vegas so it’ll be interesting to see if his luck holds out in the PCL.
Nestor Molina – Molina only made five starts, but he gave up just one earned run in 22 innings with a 33/2 strikeout to walk ration. This was after a very solid season with Dunedin. This kid is only 22 (soon to be 23) and he looks to be a keeper.
It’s a stressful time for Minor league baseball players right now, as every MLB off-season is. Minor leaguers are looking to catch their break and get swept up by a Major league team. Major league managers are closely scouting what they’ve got available for big hitters and promising pitchers in the Minors. Everyone’s looking for something that will fit what they need for the 2012 MLB season. Well, now that the 2012 MLB regular season schedule is up and tickets are listed, franchises are looking to sign their next big name so their stadium seats can fill up and sell out.
Here’s the top ten Rays prospects as picked by Baseball America
1) Matt Moore LHP
2) Hak-Ju Lee SS
3) Chris Archer RHP
4) Taylor Guerrieri RHP
5) Alex Colome RHP
6) Alex Torres LHP
7) Tim Beckham SS
8) Enny Romero LHP
9) Drew Vettleson OF
10) Mikie Mahtook OF
Here’s the Top Ten Prospect list released by Baseball America
1) Travis d’Arnaud C
2) Anthony Gose OF
3) Jake Marisnick OF
4) Daniel Norris LHP
5) Justin Nicolino LHP
6) Aaron Sanchez RHP
7) Noah Syndergaard RHP
8) Deck McGuire RHP
9) Drew Hutchison RHP
10) Asher Wojciechowski RHP
Matt Moore. I could have finished my column with that name but Moore is the stud in the organization. He went 8-3 with a 2.20 ERA and 131 strikeouts and 28 walks in 102 1/3 innings. His batting average against was .187 and he’s only 22. Stud.
Marquis Fleming – With 104 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings. Fleming was one of the best relievers out of the pen. He walked 42 though and that’s a little high but he was able to limit the damage with a .204 batting average against.
Matt Bush – Bush is another hard thrower with 77 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings. Oddly, hitters belted him for a .251 average. The former top pick has bounced around and he’ll now be 26. It’ll be interesting to see what the Rays do with him in 2011.
With only a handful of guys who played more then 90 games for the Smokies, there weren’t a lot of big number stats compiled. Still, here are the best few hitters on this past season’s squad.
Ryan Flaherty – Out of players with more then 80 games, Flaherty led the team with a .907 OPS. He was second with 14 home runs and he had a very nice 55/40 strikeout to walk ratio. Flaherty is 25 but now that Aramis Ramirez is out of the fold, Flaherty could get his shot.
Rebel Ridling – Ridling finished with a team high 20 home runs and his 79 runs also led the team. He was right behind Flaherty with a .887 OPS and he’s having a very nice showing in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Steve Clevenger – an interesting catcher, Clevenger walked 35 times and struck out 39 times. He doesn’t have a lot of pop but a .295 average helped prop up his .812 OPS. He’s having a tough time in the Dominican Winter League but he raked in 25 games when he was pushed to the PCL.
New Hampshire won their division and when you look at some of their offensive standouts, you can see why. Here’s a look at the best of the best.
Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud raked all season long. He led the team in home runs (21), RBIs (78) and OPS (.914). Oddly, he hit better against left handers but 20 of his 21 home runs came off of right handed pitching.
Mike McDade – McDade led the team with 37 doubles and he was right behind d’Arnaud with 74 RBIs. McDade is a solid switch hitter but he did a lot better while hitting from the left side of the plate. He didn’t draw many walks (28) so hopefully he can work on his batting eye going forward.
Moises Sierra – Sierra was second on the team with 18 home runs and he led the team with 81 runs. He struck out 93 times but he did draw 39 walks and that all equated to a .778 OPS. He’s having a tough time in the Dominican Winter League though but he’s only 23. There’s some time for him to develop further.
Jermaine Mitchell was promoted pretty quickly but when he was with the Rockhounds, he, well, rocked. He belted 15 doubles, 13 triples and 10 home runs in 74 games and he finished with an impressive 1.042 OPS. He was also second on the team with 67 runs despite the limited time with the Double-A affiliate.
Michael Spina led the team with 75 RBIs and he was second on the team with 32 doubles in 129 games for Midland. He had a solid .803 OPS and he also led the team with 70 walks.
Adam Heether led the team with 13 home runs and he did it while striking out just 72 times. His OPS was .786. So the Rockhounds didn’t have a ton of home run talent, but they definitely have some power and it’ll be interesting to see what these guys can do when the get to the PCL.
Montgomery finished in the bottom half of the standings but they had their share of hitting standouts. Here are the best hitters on the team this past season.
Stephen Volgt – Volgt had a solid .301 batting average and that helped push his OPS to the top of the hitters who played in more then 75 games. He had 13 home runs and a solid 51/30 strikeout to walk ratio.
Henry Wrigley – Wrigley led the team in home runs (17), doubles (34) and he was second to Volgt with 84 RBIs. Oddly, Wrigley was much better against right handed pitching then left handed pitching so we’ll see if this carries over as he moves up the ladder.
Tim Beckham – Beckham led the team with 82 runs and his 15 steals were second on the team. He also had his share of walks with 39. He could turn out to be a nice offensive shortstop, similar to what Reid Brignac should have been.
When your pitcher that led the team in innings finished with a 7.08 ERA, you know your pitching stars are going to be few and far between. Still, here were the guys to keep an eye on going forward that posted solid numbers for the Rockhounds in 2011.
Ethan Hollingsworth was one of the more effective starters. In 94 2/3 innings, he finished with a 3.61 ERA but he struck out just 66 versus a nice 23 walks. For Midland he kept the ball down and induced a ground ball well more then half the time. He’s a pitch to contact guy though and a right hander at that so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of success he has at the big league level.
Trey Barham had a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings although he’s a lot like Hollingsworth. Pitch to contact and he gets his share of ground balls. He only gave up five home runs in 61 innings which is nice. He’s also 26 now so he’s well past prospect status.
Neil Wagner was the hard thrower with 53 strikeouts (and just 13 walks) in 37 1/3 innings. He finished with a 3.38 before he was sent to Sacramento. He also gets a lot of ground balls but he also has the strikeouts to go with them. He’s also older (he’ll be 28 in January) so he’s hardly a prospect anymore but he’s a solid guy to have in the pen.
John Sickels put out his list of the Blue Jays top 20 prospects and unfortunately there’s no A players. Topping the list is Travis D-Arnaud with a B+ rating. This could be the Jays catcher of the future Sickels even said he could have been an A.
Number two is Nestor Molina. You’d think he’d be a catcher but he’s the top pitching prospect in the system. Sickels talks about how he’s underrated in the system. Jake Marisnick (OF), Noah Syndergaard (RHP) and Justin Nicolino (LHP) round out the top five.
Kevin Goldstein released his list of the top eleven Cubs prospects and it’s an interesting one. Topping the list is outfielder Brett Jackson, the Cubs first round pick in 2009 and the only five star prospect. Jackson split time between Double-A and Triple-A and while he’ll probably start the season back in Iowa, there’s a good chance that Jackson will be with the Cubs before the end of the first half.
Number two and the lone four star prospect is shortstop Javier Baez. The Cubs first round pick in 2011, Baez played in only five minor league games and he doesn’t turn 19 until December 1. He’ll play for Peoria next year and he’s well away from his big league debut but this is a guy worth watching.
Wellington Castillo (C), Dillon Maples (RHP) and Mat Szczur (OF) round out the top five. Castillo is close to big league ready and he could be the backup catcher in 2012.
The Las Vegas 51s had their share of hitting stars in 2011. Here are the best of the best.
Brett Lawrie – Despite playing just 69, Lawrie led the team in home runs with 18. Throw in six triples and 24 doubles and it all adds up to a 1.076 OPS. Of course Lawrie got it done for the Jays too and this guy is going to be a stud for years and he and Bautista are going to scare AL East pitchers while they’re on the field for the Jays.
David Cooper – Cooper led the team with 96 RBIs and he hit .364 in 120 games for the 51s. He also had 51 doubles and nine home runs in a really good season. That all adds up to a .974 OPS. This is the PCL so numbers are inflated but those are some really nice numbers.
Adam Loewen – Loewen led the team with 83 runs and he was right behind Cooper with 46 doubles. He was also second on the team with 85 RBIs. He hit .306 and his finishing OPS ended up being .884.
The Bulls had another nice year and while they’re mostly known for their pitching, the Bulls had their share of solid hitters as well. Here were the best hitters on the 2011 team.
Russ Canzler – Canzler led the team in just about everything. He hit 18 home runs, drove in 83 and he scored 78 runs. With his home runs came 40 doubles and that was all good for a .930 OPS in 131 games. He also led the team with 67 walks. Of course Canzler is blocked by Evan Longeria so it’ll be interesting to see what the Bulls do with Canzler.
Brandon Guyer – Guyer was almost as good as Canzler, he just didn’t play in as many games. He had fourteen home runs and he was tied with Canzler with 78 runs. He struck out less then Canzler, but he also walked less and it all worked into a .905 OPS. He does have some speed and he finished with sixteen steals and five triples. Guyer struggled with the big league club but he should compete for an outfield job with the Rays next year.
Dan Johnson – Johnson is no longer a prospect but he’s turned into a Four-A player. Still, he had a solid season with thirteen home runs in 93 games. He did walk 58 times and struck out just 65 times which was a nice rate and he finished with an .842 OPS.
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