2011 MLB Amateur Draft | First Basemen Review

Welcome back to the 2011 draft “in-season” review. We started the series last fall, but took a break from it to present to you our top 10 lists and, of course, our Baseball Instinct 360° top prospects list for 2012. In this series we’re taking a look at players from the 2011 draft who signed and got into game play in 2011. We’ve separated the High School players from the College players and compiled which players had the best season statistically. This ranking if you will, isn’t based on tools or skill set, nor is it a projection into the career these players may have. It’s purely a spotlight on those players from the past draft that grabbed our eye statistically.

I love these types of articles. I get to get my stat geek on. I’ll take a look at a guy like Adam Eaton, OF Diamondbacks (2010 draft round 19 pick 571), who had a great 2010 debut, got on our radar like these players, we investigated him closer, and he followed up 2010 with a solid 2011 campaign. Or perhaps a kid like Brandon Drury, 3B Braves (2010 draft round 13 pick 404). He didn’t have a statistically impressive debut in the GCL, but in a short-supply class of high school players, coupled with the fact that he’s from my region in the Pacific Northwest, he made the “keep an eye on” list for me. As with Eaton, a fantastic 2011 campaign and now both players are on our top 360 list.

We jump back into things with a look at the First basemen. As with the other articles, there was no short supply of silky sweet statistical goodness from the college players, however, the high-school players were in short supply.

The High School First Basemen

Tampa Bay RaysJohn Alexander, 1B Tampa Bay Rays 4/25/1993 Round: 8 Pick: 270

The Glendora (CA) High school grad hit .314/.321/.549, with HR-2/3B-1/2B-4/RBI-11/R-4 in 51 at bats in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. He’s pretty raw, but has some good power potential there. He has nice balance and gets his weight transfer through the strike zone as he twists his body the way you would hope for a potential power hitter. The sample size is small, but there might be something here. Let’s keep an eye on him. He should provide adequate competition for the Rays against Jeff Malm and Cameron Seitzer (who we will get to shortly) at a position pretty devoid of organizational depth. He should get a good dose of New York-Penn League ball in 2012 with the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Chicago CubsDan Vogelbach, 1B Chicago Cubs 12/17/1992 Round: 2 Pick: 68

This big kid (6’0″ 250 lbs) can hit the ball a ton. He hit .292/.370/.542, with HR-1/2B-3/RBI-6/R-4 in 24 at bats. He also had a 2/2 K/BB rate over just 6 games in the Arizona Rookie League. With the recent addition of 1B Anthony Rizzo and the drafting of Vogelback, Trevor Gretzky, and Paul Hoilman (who we will also get to in this article), the Cubs now find themselves with a lot of promise at the position. Obviously it’s been beat to death that Vogelbach’s conditioning will be key. He’s got the skill set to be a great player if he can get the weight in check. I can’t wait to get to see him with our NWL specialist Bart Klett in 2012. He should start out with the Boise Hawks, but could move quickly to the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest league, where our specialist there, Dave Reiffer will get a 1st hand look. One way or another, we will have your Vogelbach fix for you in 2012. He recently made our Baseball Instinct 360°.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimJackson Whitley, 1B Los Angeles Angels 9/5/1992 Round: 13 Pick: 405

Great. That’s what you’re thinking, right? Just what the Los Angeles Angels need; another 1B prospect blocked by Albert Pujol’s big butt. If you thought that at this point, just wait until we get to the end of this article. Whitley hit .265/.365/.370, with 3B-4/2B-8/RBI-23/R-16/SB-3 in 146 at bats. He also had a 44/23 K/BB rate over 40 games in the Arizona Rookie League. It’s not often that I see a big left-handed high school hitter (6’3″ 220 lbs) who creates the kind of torque in his hips that Whitley does. He does a very nice job of getting those arms extended, while swinging through the ball smoothly. Barring injury, the road to 1B stops with Pujols. It really borders on the absurd to ri-damn-diculous line. You have Mark Trumbo and eventually Kendry Morales at the Major League level. Kole Calhoun is a solid 1B, who made the transition to the OF and ran rough shot through the California League. That still leaves C.J. Cron, Frazier Hall, (two more guys that we will get to below) and Whitley as a powerful group of prospect 1B. Whitley is likely to open 2012 in Rookie Pioneer League with the Orem Owlz, which is actually the Angels Low-A short season team. There’s no reason for the Halo’s to rush him, and if the bat is as good as it looks he will either find himself at another position or on another team.

The College First Basemen

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimC.J. Cron, 1B Los Angeles Angels 1/5/1990 Round: 1 Pick: 17

Cron hit .308/.371/.629. He also had HR-13/3B-1/2B-5/RBI-41/R-30 in 143 at bats. He put up a 34/10 K/BB rate in 34 games for those previously mentioned Orem Owlz. Clearly, Cron was not challenged, as this was just a get your pro-feet-wet stop after a full college season with Utah. So what to do with Mr. Cron? He’s unlikely to be very fleet-footed in the outfield, nor is he likely to shift to 3B. And you can be quite sure that he’s not going back to catcher, where a shoulder injury pretty much ended that route. Cron’s future will be dictated by his bat and how Trumbo works out at 3B and if Morales can stay healthy enough to man DH. The bottom line is that SOMEBODY is getting traded. Cron’s stock is going to get inflated right away as he will undoubtedly make his 2012 debut for the Inland Empire 66ers in the Hi-A California League. He could be in the AA Texas League with the Arkansas Travelers very quickly.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimFrazier Hall, 1B Los Angeles Angels 6/3/1988 Round:16 Pick: 495

There’s little more I can say of the log jam in L.A. Hall hit .355/.391/.574, with HR-9/3B-2/2B-19/RBI-46/R-44/SB 1 in 228 at bats. In addition, he had a 46/13 K/BB rate in 62 games for those Orem Owlz. Hall looks an awful lot like Mark Trumbo with the same build. He’s certainly got some power potential there and if he can develop some patience at the plate, he could become somewhat of a force there. I can’t even begin to fathom what the situation would be if he and Cron develop to their potential. That speculation is safe for another day, for now the question is where does he start out in 2012? Will they challenge him right away and send him to the Arkansas Travelers of the AA Texas League? Or will they start him slowly with the Cedar Rapid Kernels of the Low-A Midwest league. My guess is, with the fact that he will be almost 24 when the season starts, the Angels will push him to see if he too will become another valuable trade chip.

O’koyea Dickson, 1B Los Angeles Dodgers 2/9/1990 Round:12 Pick: 374

Dickson recently made our Baseball Instinct 360°, after hitting .333/.402/.603, with HR-13/3B-1/2B-10/RBI-38/R-33/SB 1 in 189 at bats, while posting a 44/19 K/BB rate over 48 games for the Ogden Raptors in the Rookie Level Pioneer League. Defensively, Dickson’s range factor of 9.45 and fielding % of .988 put him in the same defensive class as Albert Pujols and Joey Votto. It remains to be seen if he starts out with the Great Lake Loons of the Midwest League or if jumps right into action with the Hi-A California League Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2012. While Angelo Songco and Scott Van Slyke can play 1B, they are both likely to remain outfield platoon players. Barring a Prince Fielder signing, keep an eye on Dickson. He could challenge for the 1B job in L.A. in a couple of years.

Houston AstrosChase Davidson, 1B Houston Astros 1/14/1990 Round: 41 Pick: 1240

The end-of-draft after thought made our Baseball Instinct 360°. He hit .327/.417/.630, with HR-11/3B-2/2B-13/RBI-44/R-33/SB 8 in 165 at bats, while posting a 53/24 K/BB rate over 44 games. All but 1 of those games came with the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League. With good hitting and on base skills, plus with fellow Astros’ 1B Jonathan Singleton heading to Double-A, Davidson should enjoy similar High-A Cal League success in 2012.

Kevin Patterson, 1B Toronto Blue Jays 9/28/1988 Round: 30 Pick: 919

Patterson hit .302/.388/.568, with HR-10/3B-2/2B-11/RBI-32/R-27/SB 3 in 169 at bats, while posting a 53/23 K/BB rate over 48 games between the GCL and with the Vancouver Canadians of the NWL, where he spent about 2/3’s of his season. He was a college senior with impressive raw power, passable defense at 1B, and big hole in his swing. There’s not much competition in the Blue Jays system at 1B with David Cooper and Mike McDade about the extent of it. However, it’s an uphill road for Patterson with few tools and not much of a skill set. He could get a shot with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays in the FSL fairly quickly in 2012, but he’s got to cut down on the strikeouts or he’s going to get killed by the pitchers there. Our own Tom Belmont should be able to break down his mechanics once he sees him in person.

Arizona DiamondbacksJonathan Griffin, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks 4/29/1989 Round: 21 Pick: 634

The 6’7″ 250 pound Orlando, Florida native hit .295/.355/.532, with HR-18/2B-12/RBI-59/R-47/SB 4 in 278 at bats, while posting a 77/29 K/BB rate over 71 games with the Missoula Osprey of the Rookie Level Pioneer League. His power potential is amazing and extremely raw for a college player. He’s pretty one dimensional and is going to strike out a ton. He’s got an uphill battle, but if he can keep the k’s under 30% while blasting 30+ HR a year, he would make a very intriguing prospect. Which, given the likely opportunity of seeing the High-A California League with the Visalia Rawhide in 2012, we should know right away if the power will translate against more advanced pitching.

San Francisco GiantsBen Thomas, 1B San Francisco Giants 6/3/1989 Round: 34 Pick: 1047

Thomas hit .327/.363/.504, with HR-7/3B-2/2B-15/RBI-46/R-30/SB 3 in 226 at bats and posted a 41/14 K/BB rate over 59 games pretty evenly divided between the Rookie Level Arizona Giants and the NWL Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. He’s a top-heavy, 6’1″ 240 pound guy, with 30 HR potential. He’s another really raw college stick with trouble managing the plate. He’s likely headed to the Augusta GreenJackets of the Low-A Sally League in 2012, where perhaps our own Aaron Bentley can take a look at him.

Chicago CubsPaul Hoilman, 1B Chicago Cubs 2/11/1989 Round: 19 Pick: 579

I may have seen Hoilman as much as any player that I scouted in person in 2011. He plays solid defense and has the kind of power that you would like to see from your 1B. He’s a very smart player, but he does have a gaping hole in his swing. He hit .252/.383/.512, with HR-17/2B-13/RBI-44/R-46/SB 2 in 246 at bats and posted a 105/49 K/BB rate over 71 games for the Boise Hawks of the NWL. He hit 39 HR in 2012 between East Tennessee St. and Short-Season ball. He may have a stop over with the Peoria Cubs in the MWL to work on the swing, but should find his way to the Daytona Cubs of the FSL some time in 2012. Tom will get look at him once he does.

Detroit TigersDean Green, 1B Detroit Tigers 6/30/1989 Round: 11 Pick: 347

“Mean” Dean Green hit .341/.395/.520, with HR-7/3B-2/2B-19/RBI-44/R-33/SB 1 in 246 at bats and posted a 35/18 K/BB rate over 65 games with the Connecticut Tigers of the NYPL. He had a BABIP of over .400, so expect some of those balls to stop dropping for hits. This 6’4″ 240lb guy will need to make some adjustments and fine tune that power stroke if he’s to advance very far in the Tigers’ organization. We look forward to seeing what he has to offer as Dave will get a good look at him with the West Michigan WhiteCaps in the MWL in 2012.

Tampa Bay RaysCameron Seitzer, 1B Tampa Bay Rays 1/11/1990 Round: 11 Pick: 360

Another blood lines player, Seitzer is the son of former Royals 3B Kevin Seitzer. He hit .285/.407/.498, with HR-11/2B-14/RBI-42/R-30/SB 6 in 221 at bats and posted a 46/43 K/BB rate over 64 games for the Princeton Rays in the Appy. He doesn’t strike out a ton, has a polished bat, and can get on base pretty frequently, which is impressive for a 1B, but lacks a high power potential. I’m not sure a move to the outfield is in the cards for Seitzer, though he does strike me as someone who could adapt. Still, there may be some more power in there with a full season transition from less-potent metal bats. He certainly has the right plate approach for a jump to Charlotte Stone Crabs of the FSL, however the Rays may opt to give him a little more time to tap into some more power with the Bowling Green Hot Rods in the MWL. Either Tom or Dave, depending on the league will get to see the younger Seitzer for us.

Honorable Mentions:

Nick Ramirez, 1B Milwaukee Brewers – 8/1/1989 – Round: 4 Pick: 131 – .271/.305/.496 HR-11 SB-0 240AB

Zach Wilson, 1B New York Yankees – 8/6/1990 – Round: 21 Pick: 659 – .256/346/.457 HR-10 SB-0 234AB

Richard Espy, 1B Kansas City Royals – 10/30/1989 – Round: 15 Pick: 456 – .318/.391/.489 HR-7 SB-2 233AB

Gary Apeliam, 1B St. Louis Cardinals – 9/22/1990 – Round: 27 Pick: 830 – .298/.343/.502 HR-8 SB-3 225AB

Harold Riggins, 1B Colorado Rockies – 3/6/1990 – Round: 7 Pick: 228 – .279/.416/.460 HR-8 SB-1 215AB

Jesse Wierzbicki, 1B Houston Astros – 11/24/1988 – Round: 24 Pick: 730 – .265/.358/.444 HR-5 SB-3 162AB

Jordan Ribera, 1B Colorado Rockies – 12/22/1988 – Round: 21 Pick: 648 – .242/.320/.404 HR-5 SB-2 161AB

Aaron Westlake, 1B Detroit Tigers – 12/27/1988 – Round: 3 Pick: 106 – .250/.316/.379 HR-3 SB-1 124AB

Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon for more Prospect coverage. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our top 360 prospects for 2012. Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at mailbag@baseballinstinct.com.

Other articles in this series:

2011 MLB Draft | Third Basemen

2011 MLB Draft | Second Basemen

2011 MLB Draft | Shortstops Part 1

2011 MLB Draft | Shortstops Part 2

2011 MLB Draft | Shortstops Part 3

2011 MLB Draft | Catchers

2011 MLB Draft | First Basemen

Closing in on 25 years of following the greatest game in the world very closely. I can remember as a kid how excited I was when a player that I had watched in the minors make his major league debut. The same holds true today. We designed Baseball Instinct with that in mind; getting you the fan excited to get out and see the see the stars of tomorrow - today!


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