The past few weeks of prospect land have been dominated by the 2013 draft as well as the recent call-ups of 2012 draftees such as Mike Zunino, Michael Wacha and Kevin Gausman (who has since been demoted).
This all begs the question – how are the other 2012 draftees of note performing and will any of them be a factor for us through the remainder of the 2013 season?
On the prep side of things, we are not going to get any help this season, but it should be noted that #1 overall pick Carlos Correa is more than holding his own as an 18-year-old in full-season A-ball, showing advanced plate discipline, pop, and speed all from the shortstop position. In other words, Correa is a potential star, particularly if he remains at short.
Outfielder Byron Buxton, 19, is not holding his own. The righty is dominating at full-season A-ball, showing blazing speed (29 stolen bases in 300 plate appearances), power (8 dingers), and the ability to get on base and make contact with an overall .344/.431/.561 slash. Buxton is a potential .300/25+/30+ guy. While players like Correa and Buxton will not be helping this year and probably not next year either, they are both huge chips whose respective organizations will be inclined to move at a faster rate than one level per year.
Speaking of accelerated arrivals, Addison Russell, who was signed fairly quickly with the A’s last year and has already played at four levels of professional ball, is faring rather well for an 18-year-old in A+ ball with a .249/.332/.467 slash. A righty, Russell is striking out about a quarter of the time but he is not a hacker. If he can stay at short, he has 20-plus home run potential, though it remains to be seen if he can hit for a good enough average.
Shifting gears to the college ranks, Andrew Heaney got a late start this year with the Marlins due to a strained lat muscle but has pitched well in four starts in A+ ball with an 11+ K/9. Heaney is a hard-thrower for a lefty and has three pitches already of plus potential. He may get a promotion to Double-A later this season.
Tyler Naquin does not get Zunino’s press, but the lefty was indeed the second college hitter selected in the draft. The Indians' outfielder has been playing well in A+ ball with a .311/375/.468 slash. The plate discipline skills projected of him, however, have not been overtly apparent with a mediocre 23% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate. However, he did show those skills last season and has shown a bit more power than expected, so by no means write him off yet. Naquin is a potential .290s or better hitter with 15 to 20 HR per season power and 20-plus stolen base talents.
The Giants are taking a very slow path with Chris Stratton. The 6’0” right-hander is 22 years old and has made 11 starts for A-ball with a nearly 10.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Stratton profiles as a number three type pitcher with a good fastball and slider and looks like he needs more of a challenge.
Marcus Stroman may be someone who gets a call-up this year. The 5’9” righty out of Duke served a 50-game drug suspension but is already back at Double-A. His 4.15 ERA is mostly the result of a single outing earlier in the year when he allowed seven earned runs and two homers in one inning of work. Stroman has not allowed more than two earned runs in any other start and has an overall 10.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The former Blue Devil has three plus pitches including a change and could project as high as a #2 starter for the Jays. There has also been some speculation, however, that he could end up in relief. The Jays used him exclusively as a reliever after signing him and right now we may simply be seeing an effort to get the righty some innings after missing so much time. Regardless, Stroman is on the fast track.
James Ramsey is also on the fast track. The Cardinal has already been promoted from A+ ball to Double-A. The 23-year-old is something of a tweener in the power and speed departments but is far from one in the plate discipline department, drawing walks at high rates and making frequent contact. In A+ ball, he smoked the competition with a .361/.481/.557 line. Long-term, he could be the Cardinals' left or center fielder and could hit .300 with 15-15 or better potential. In other words, he’ll be an upgrade over Jon Jay and could give the Cards a formidable, inexpensive outfield alongside Oscar Taveras.
Supplemental first-rounder Kevin Plawecki has lived up to his billing as an offensive catcher. Plawecki has advanced contact-making/walk-drawing skills and has been hitting .314 with a .390 OBP and .494 SLG for Single-A Savannah. Plawecki has enough defensive skills to stay behind the plate, so it will be interesting to see how quickly the Mets advance him given the presence of Travis D’Arnaud, who has an even higher ceiling than Plawecki, in their system. Regardless, the former Boilermaker is dominating his current level and is in need of a promotion.
Finally we come to Travis Jankowski. The outfielder out of SUNY Stony Brook has lived up to his billing as a fairly disciplined speedster with 45 stolen bases in 298 plate appearances. The lefty, however, is devoid of power and has a .358 SLG to go along with a .288/.365 line. It will be interesting to see how Jankowski adjusts to Double-A when the Padres move him up. Speedsters of Jankowski’s ilk need to make contact in excess of 90% of the time in order to be successful at the MLB level and 82% of the time at A+ball is not likely to cut it. His speed, however, should at least keep him on your radar.
If you have any questions on prospects I have not covered, please feel free to ask as always!
Rob Leibowitz has been playing fantasy baseball for over twenty years and has been writing as an analyst for 15 years. You can find his columns “The Diamond Exchange” and “The Prospector” here at Mastersball.com. A member of Tout Wars since 2001, you can follow him on twitter at @Rob_Leibowitz.