With the season just about here, there were a bunch of prospects sent down who we can expect back soon. Here are my thoughts on a few of them.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Red Sox, OF): Lost the battle of center field to the somewhat resurgent Grady Sizemore, and Boston still has Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino and then Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes. And, actually Carp had pretty good numbers last year, and Gomes is just one of those charmed guys. The real thing here is I am just not sold that Bradley is the second coming of anything, and though I do think Sizemore will hurt himself, I think Nava ends up in center field. Not sure why, since Bradley has a nice resume, but just think he is one of those guys who will not measure up to our expectations. At least not yet.
Jake Marisnick (Marlins, OF): Kind of a National League version of Bradley, but a loser to the very good and young troika of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. Marisnick had a great spring (.432-0-4, with four swipes) but was probably not going to be the everyday play the team would like, so down he goes. Marisnick does strike out more than Bradley, but, the Marlins fourth and fifth fly chasers are not as good as Boston's. I think Marisnick could be a nice acquisition down the line, although I also think that over the long haul, Bradley will be bettter.
Michael Tonkin (P, Twins): At 6'7", 220 pounds, Tonkin made it to the Show last year after going 2-4, 3.47 at Double-A New Britain and then Triple-A Rochester, followed by 11 very good Target (0-0, 0.76) innings. 36 minor league saves along with 366 whiffs over 358.6 innings. Lying in wait should something happen to Glen Perkins (I am thinking trade, not injury). Definitely a closer of the future, and he won't get much better in the Minors it seems.
Wilmer Flores (2B, Mets): Signed as a 16-year-old, out of Venezuela, Flores now has five years of pro ball experience, and played full-time at Las Vegas last year, hitting .321-15-86 with 36 two-baggers. Flores has played third in the Minors, but with that David Wright guy at third, second is Flores' future. Not much reason to think he cannot handle second base, irrespective of the presence of Daniel Murphy, who is probably more of a utility guy than Flores. Flores is prone to the whiff, but he has great power potential for a middle guy.
Matt Davidson (3B, White Sox): A first-round selection in 2009, Davidson hit .280-17-84 at Triple-A Reno--with 32 doubles last year, and culled a .308-2-6 line this spring. He does strike out like a power hitter (243 walks to 616 whiffs) but a minor league .803 OPS is pretty good, and Davidson is likely just waiting his turn. That turn should come shortly where the Sox (who traded Addison Reed to Arizona during the off-season) really just have Conor Gillaspie in the way.
Caleb Gindl (OF, Brewers): Gindl is sort of under the radar, but he did log 132 at-bats in Milwaukee last year, going .242-5-11, with 20 walks to 25 strikeouts. Gindl, who at 5'9", 210 is of the fireplug ilk, hit .295-11-51 at Nashville during the rest of last year, and the left-handed hitter does not have that many folks ahead of him should there be a failure in the outfield. Keep an eye on him.
Rubby De La Rosa (P, Red Sox): Was great with the Dodgers, then swapped for Adrian Gonzalez, then needed Tommy John surgery, but is now a year removed from that. 313 minor league punch outs over 313.3 minor league innings, and Boston has some older starters. I can see De La Rosa ramping it up and earning major rotation time.
Billy Burns (OF, Athletics): Has played in 265 minor league games, and has 125 steals, 148 walks and just 143 strikeouts. Burns hit .310-0-3 with 10 swipes--and lead spring training in that last number--scoring 12 runs and logging a .375 OBP. Keep an eye on this guy, especially with the Athletics outfield being good, but a bit on the injury-prone side, among Craig Gentry (hurt now), Coco Crisp (hurt every year), Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring pull waiting to happen) and Josh Reddick (hurt last year). I get the feeling once Burns get a chance, he will be hard to send down.