What a week for the prospect watchers among us, as over the past cycle of days the 2011 influx of top young players has begun, starting with the Royals Eric Hosmer. The Royals first round selection in the 2008 draft, and third player taken overall, Hosmer made it for only three Rookie League games that year, going .364-02, but what a harbinger. The first baseman struggled over his first full pro season, split between the Midwest and Carolina Leagues, with .241-6-59 numbers, but in 2010 it all came together. Hosmer went .338-20-86, with 43 doubles and 59 walks to just 66 strikeouts, good for a .406 OBP again split, this time between the Carolina and Texas Leagues. This year, assigned to Omaha, Hosmer went a wicked .439-3-15 over 26 games, and with Kila Ka'aihue struggling, was promoted to Kaufman. I am actually surprised the team advanced him that quickly this year, but this is a team now on the move, with seemingly a lot of good young players, and years in the advent, and Hosmer will be the first baseman. I also think of him as an American League Brandon Belt. So, if Hosmer struggles a little at first, fear not. He will be very good.
On Saturday, needing a spot start, the Braves brought up one of the most anticipated arms--that of Julio Teheran--to pick up the slack. Just 20-years old, from Cartagena, Colombia, Teheran has made just 49 professional starts, however his 16-14, 3.04 mark, over 229 innings is more than impressive. Just 229 hits with 70 walks (1.12 WHIP) to 289 strikeouts, Teheran has already returned to Triple-A Gwinnett, after allowing three runs, four hits, and a pair of walks over 4.2 innings. I have to think in most ultra leagues both players have been on reserve lists for a while, but if your league rules are such that a major league appearance makes the player eligible for your reserve list, think hard about grabbing Teheran. He will be back, probably by next season, and everything about him looks promising.
Then with Marco Scutaro ailing, and needing some infield depth, the Red Sox brought up 21-year old Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias to fill in. Last year was Iglesias' first pro one, and he started at the New York-Penn League and went .350-0-7 over just 13 games before moving on to Double-A Portland where over 236 at-bats the shortstop was .285-0-13. Iglesias began 2011 in Pawtucket, going .253-0-4 over his first 29 games, and his discipline--17 walks to 74 whiffs--needs work. And, with just one full pro season under his belt, the Red Sox would not start the Major League contract clock ticking so quickly if they did not think Iglesias was part of the team's near future. He too should be on everyone's radar, though again this could be a short Major League stay.
Feeling the outfield pain, the Twins brought their future lead off hitter in Ben Revere up to similarly fill a void. Revere has absolutely no power, with just four big flies over 371 minor league games, but he does carry a .386 OBP, and has scored 226 runs, while stealing 153 bases over the same spread. Revere also has 473 hits, a .326 average, and 117 walks to 134 strikeouts, mean he is a run producer of the highest order. Revere had a September latte last year (.179-0-2), and at 23 is on the cusp of belonging at The Show, but as with his mates above, the former first rounder (2007) is in the mainstream plans of his team in the near future. Depending upon how all these players do, that future could be now.
Logan Forsythe was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Pads, and he has climbed the corporate ladder moving up a level each year since then, assembling career totals of .279-18-114 over 273 games, culminating with .291-4-15 numbers at Tuscon this season. Forsythe has a great eye as his 198 walks to 245 strikeouts (.408 OBP) suggests, and though the third sacker's time at PETCO could also be short this time, keep a long term eye on him as well.
Looking at one more youngster, do keep an eye on Arizona's David Hernandez. Acquired as part of the Mark Reynolds spoils (and it looks like the DBacks sent their third baseman off at just the right time)-Hernandez was a 15th round pick of the Orioles in 2005, the right-hander went 28-27, 3.84 over 102 minor league starts (109 games), with 621 whiffs over 536.2 innings, with 471 hits and 225 walks. In the bigs, he is 14-18, 4.38, however within that total, he is 2-0, 1.74 this season in a relief role.
Moving up the age and experience bracket, Tom Gorzelanny in 2007, was a 24-year old hot arm, going 14-10, 3.88 with the terrible Pirates. And then he struggled with the Bucs for another year-and-a-half (9-10, 6.55) before going on to Chicago (11-11, 4.44) before landing anew with the Nationals. This year, much like Kevin Correia with the Bucs, Gorzelanny has turned it around, going 2-2, 2.87 over six starts and 37.2 innings (21 hits, 29 whiffs, and 13 walks). Makes one wonder what the righty could do if on a solid team, and it is hard to expect those numbers to continue, however, at 28, Gorzelanny is still young, and now in his prime.
It is hard to imagine Todd Helton, who likely has not graced this space since 1997 when he was an up-and-comer, but the Colorado first sacker, who has declined in skill the last few years (not to mention health). This year, though, Helton is enjoying a renaissance at age 37, hitting .313-3-15 over his first 28 games. God forbid Helton is in the free agent pool out there anyway, as it just seems wrong, and with good, and improving numbers, Helton seems to be making one of those end of career statements, showing what a quality player he can be.
After being handed the second base gig in Detroit last year, and then going .224-3-14 over 48 games, Scott Sizemore found himself back at Toledo, where he spent the rest of 2010 regaining his stroke, hitting .298-9-37. Sizemore, now 26, started this season back with the Mudhens, going .408-2-15 before returning to Comerica, and regaining his second base spot. Sizemore has hit .316-0-3 over his first five games back, but it looks like this time Sizemore is back to stay.