Considered a reach as the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Hunter Dozier tore up the lower levels of minor league baseball. And with the Kansas City Royals organization lacking a true big league caliber starter at the hot corner, Dozier has a chance to move quickly. However, a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals saw his numbers fall dramatically from .295/.397/.429 to .209/.303/.312. Are the top-100 prospect’s upper-level struggles a sign of things to come, or a blip on the radar as he makes adjustments?
After winning the Texas League batting title, excitement surrounds second baseman Odubel Herrera as he heads into a Rule-5 eligible off-season. However, the top-20 Rangers prospect resides in a system filled with upper-level middle infielders including big-league starters Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor and defensive specialists Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto. A successful return from a recurring shoulder injury by Jurickson Profar would further clog Herrera’s path to the big leagues. Will the Frisco RoughRider be able to separate himself from the pack or will he need to find his way to another organization for an everyday job?
After declining Alex Rios’ option for 2015, does waiting on Double-A Frisco RoughRider Nick Williams to develop make sense? The Texas Rangers have a hole to fill in the outfield and the best MLB options are a struggling Michael Choice, or former minor league free agents Jake Smolinksi and Jim Adduci. This leaves Texas to choose between signing or acquiring 2015’s starting right fielder, or flipping a coin from within. As the club works to identify a replacement, does the organization need to take a wait and see approach with Williams and Nomar Mazara (ROTOscouting Report) on the horizon?
In Year one A.M. (After Mo) the Yankees’ bullpen did not miss a beat. In Year two, 2014 draftee, Jacob Lindgren, needs to chip in and keep the ship afloat. The 2013 season saw failed starting pitching prospect, Dellin Betances, author one of the greatest relief seasons of all time. In doing so, he stakes a claim as closer of the future. Adam Warren, former back of the rotation starting pitching prospect, improved on a solid 2013 major league debut as a reliever. And David Robertson, after years of serving as the setup man for Mariano Rivera, was excellent in his first year as the team’s closer. Unfortunately for the Yankees, as quickly as Robertson established himself as closer, free agency may find him in another uniform next season. As the Yankees consider what to do with Robertson, Lindgren looms large.
Ray Black is a relative unknown in prospect circles. Who wouldn’t be after missing two seasons with Labrum surgery and its lingering effects? Entering 2014, the right-handed pitcher was finally healthy and able to pitch his first innings as a professional. The results? 35.1 innings and a 71/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And with just 16 hits allowed, his WHIP was a miniscule 0.93. Now 24, is Black a fast riser capable of replacing a key piece in the veteran laden Giants bullpen?
Keury Mella entered 2014 as a prospect with helium, but a June injury put the breaks on a successful season with the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League. Behind a big fastball, the San Francisco Giants prospect posted a 2.79 FIP in full season baseball with strong strikeout (8.55/9) and walk (1.76/9) rates. Upon returning from injury, the organization had the right-handed pitcher rehab and finish out the season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes where he dominated. Entering 2015, will Mella’s stuff translate to a successful California League stint and cement him as a top prospect in the Giants system?
Was Orioles prospect Chance Sisco the best pure hitter in the South Atlantic League in 2014? After batting a lowly .249 in 13 April games, the left-handed hitter never hit below .321 in a subsequent month, peaking at .404 in June. Overall, his .344 batting average paired beautifully with a .406 on base percentage and .448 slugging percentage. At 19, this level of offensive production is unheard of from a catching prospect. In fact, the top high school catcher in Sisco’s draft class, Reese McGuire, managed a .262/.307/.334 line in the same division. Does the 2013 second round pick’s outstanding offensive performance match his present set of skills?
For years, the Colorado Rockies have searched for a suitable starter opposite star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. In 2014, the quest failed again as DJ LeMahieu slugged under .370 and reached base under 32% of the time for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, prized shortstop prospect Trevor Story slashed .200/.302/.380 following a mid-season call-up to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, creating worry he will go the way of so many other Rockies middle infielders. Will the former first-round pick turn things around or is he destined to be yet another mishap up the middle?
In over 1,000 plate appearances, Indians centerfielder Michael Bourn has a .675 OPS and 33 stolen bases — disappointing considering his 12 million per year price tag. And with two years left on the deal (three if the vesting option kicks in), Cleveland is stockpiling centerfielders in the hope of promoting from within. In 2012, Tyler Naquin was drafted 15th overall. Clint Frazier went 5th in 2013. Bradley Zimmer fell to the 21st pick before being scooped last June. With a glut of top outfield prospects in the minor leagues, can Zimmer push to the front of the line and establish himself as the Indians centerfielder of the future?
Yasmani Grandal a breakout season from journeyman Rene Rivera has left the San Diego Padres strong behind the plate. After hitting .225 with Double-A San Antonio in 2014, doubts persist concerning top prospect Austin Hedges. Is the top-50 prospect going to hit enough to start at the MLB level, or will the top defender be relegated to back up duty?
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