Touch’em All: Top MLB Hitting Prospects – New York/Penn League
For some players, the short season leagues, like New York/Penn League, serve as the first step in their professional careers in baseball. So it is pretty exciting to be able to bring this information and analysis to you, the reader, at a player’s earliest stages of development. Players were selected for this list with age appropiate-ness to level, draft position, performance, and physical tools in mind. So let’s get started!
Jordan Smith OF Indians (21) – Though not drafted out of high school, Jordan’s exceptional year at Division II St. Cloud State earned the 6’4” 205 lb outfielder a 9th round selection by the Cleveland Indians in 2011. Smith is currently hitting .338 with 52 hits, 15 doubles, 1 triple and 3 stolen bases though no home runs to date in 158 at bats. In college, he set high marks with his power, which hasn’t translated yet to wooden bats. What has translated is his advanced approach in the batter’s box where he’s walking more than striking out (19/16 BB/K). Converted to the outfield from 3b as a pro, the kid also shows good athleticism and a good glove. At this early stage, the lack of power isn’t that big of a concern because Smith makes enough contact that it should develop naturally as he adjusts. By all reports, too, this is a great kid with a great family and terrific make-up.
Dean Green 1B Detroit (22) – Played three seasons in Oklahoma State. At the end of this junior year, most thought he’d be drafted by a major league team, and he wasn’t. But the college had redistributed his scholarship money, sending Green to Division II Barry State for his senior year. There, Green dominated, hitting .400 with 19 homers and 77 RBI and leading Detroit to snatch him up in the 11th round in 2011. This is a big kid at 6’4” 255lbs who is now hitting .350 with 49 hits, 9 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, 11 walks, 24 strikeouts, and a .403 OBP in 140 at bats. But don’t expect Green to keep hitting that high. His babip is over .400 which indicates that he’s getting way lucky right now. When the balls he puts in play stop falling in for singles, that batting average will drop. His power stroke will be his bread and butter for advancement since he most likely won’t move from first base defensively.
Daniel Muno 2B New York Mets (22) – As a senior at Fresno, Muno set a school record by drawing 200 walks in his career there, so yes, Muno knows how to get on base. But with hitting .331 with 44 hits, 12 doubles, 2 triples, with 2 homers and all the while walking 28 times, and only striking out 25 shows dominance at this level. The 2011 8th round selection should be expected to move to Low A ball next season. With Muno’s skills at working a count and putting the bat on the ball, he projects out to be a good #2 hitter. In the field, he moved from his drafted position (shortstop) to 2b where his arm plays better and so does his 14 extra base hits in 35 games.
Jeff Malm 1B Tampa (20) – Drafted in the 5th round in 2009 out of high school, Malm got his feet wet professionally in 2010 in Rookie Ball Princeton by setting the bar low with a .220/.296/.310/606 line. Possibly a result of switching to wooden bats from high school aluminum. But, alas, Malm has put it together with some power in 2011. Currently, his line reads .286/.401/.540/941, plus a tremendous .254 ISOP. The 6’4” 225lb. slugger features a good throwing arm (low 90s fastball) but doesn’t have the athleticism to play an outfield position. So, like Dean Green, his power development at higher levels is crucial. But unlike Green, Malm is only 20 years old and has a lot more projection left in him. Watch this kid.
Tony Wolters SS Cleveland (20) – Just about every report that I read on this kid used the same one phrase to describe him. “Baseball Rat”. Chosen in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft our of high school, Wolters signed too late to show his stuff then. Right now, he’s hitting a cool .307 with 55 hits, 8 doubles, 3 triples, 14 stolen bases, 1 home run and a .392 OBP, along with walking 20 times and striking out 30. The young 20 year old (he just had a birthday), shows good athleticism and above average base running ability with a top end bat at a premium position. You excited yet?
Garin Cecchini 3B Boston (20) – In 2010, the Red Sox grabbed Cecchini and his (what some call, and by some I mean Tom Belmont) first round talent in the 4th round due to sign-ability concerns. His career got off to a rocky start as he missed the 2010 season with a knee injury. Now, in 2011, he’s set to miss 4-6 weeks due to a wrist fracture from being hit by a pitch. In between, Garin has wowed everyone by hitting .298 with 34 hits, 12 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 home runs, walking 17 time but only striking out 19. Cecchini has plus power potential (.202 ISOP) to all fields and has also surprised with his speed on the base paths, leading some to talk about the development of 5 tools. He’ll be back for the Fall Instructional League. Let’s see if he can stay healthy enough to reach this potential as a Top Prospect in our opinion as evidenced by his placement at #70 on our preseason Top 100 Prospects List.
Thanks again for reading this article and making www.BaseballInstinct.com your place of baseball info and analysis. Check back soon to find the NY/Penn top pitchers list. We also have more profiles on the way of top prospects as they get promoted.