Baseball Instinct is gearing up for the start of the 2012 Minor League Baseball season. The rosters for each team are trickling in with some major surprises and some really exciting matchups. Taking a look at the Sally League first we have some serious talent and depth with the O’s and Red Sox as well as the Yankees flashing numerous top names. All in all we have over 40 names to keep an eye on… to start the season. Let’s take a look.
South Atlantic League
Baltimore Orioles – Delmarva Shorebirds
Dylan Bundy, RHP – Uber prospect Bundy will get his first taste of pro ball and the Shorebirds fans will get a treat. For as long as he’s there. Which may not be all of 2012.
Parker Bridwell, RHP – Less heralded but still a great arm. Breakout candidate and will probably move to High-A with Bundy around midseason.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP – A young lefty with a low 90s fastball. Room on the frame and a rough work of secondaries. Yet he’s tough to hit already.
Zach Davies, RHP – A project based on his size but he’s just out of High School and if he can add to his frame his fastball that tops out at 90 could see the added life needed to compliment a solid set of secondaries.
Gabriel Lino, C – Advanced approach at the plate for a youngster. Should have above average power. A lot of work to become a professional catcher but will have the solid frame for it.
Glynn Davis, OF – The fastest player in the whole system, Lino has a wiry frame and is really a rough prospect. But if he can develop he has top of the scale speed that is an elite tool.
Nick Delmonico, 3B – A classic lefty swing, but bat speed might not be enough to become a true power hitter that the frame says he could. Probably a better bet as a LF long term because he doesn’t have the range to handle 3B. Though he does have the arm.
Jason Esposito, 3B – The range to handle SS and the arm for it too. But not at a high level. The O’s will look to see how much power he develops and if the power comes he can stick at 3B. That power becoming true Corner Infielder power is a long shot.
Colorado Rockies – Asheville Tourists
Will Swanner, C - Swanner has premium power and over a full season could hit 30 HR this year. He’s still a project behind the plate. But has the arm for the position. Health will be key in 2012.
Rossell Herrera, 3B – Former SS, moved to 3B because of teammate Story. He’s a switch-hitter but clearly better from the left side. great hand-eye but raw approach.
New York Yankees – Charleston Riverdogs
Dante Bichette, Jr., 3B Yankees – Bichette has taken his bat and answered what questions there were about him making the pro transition. I don’t think he’s long for the Sally League and expect him in the FSL by midseason and leaving 3B to Austin.
Jose Campos, RHP - Campos is starting with a new organization after coming over from Seattle. It’s not an aggressive assignment and he’ll be given the time to develop that he needs. Could be the gem of the trade.
Gary Sanchez, C - Sanchez looks to get himself back on track. He’s a highly touted prospect and has plus power that could begin to flourish in 2012. He’s a step behind the more refined J.R. Murphy now so C is all his.
Mason Williams, OF - Williams was a breakout prospect in 2011 but we already knew he was the best taken by the Yankees in 2010. The contact ability is there, plate discipline needs to be refined and he’ll be a top of the order threat.
Tyler Austin, 3B/1B – Young and powerful. He’ll shift to 1B to accommodate Bichette but we think he has the range and arm for 3B long-term as well.
San Francisco Giants – Augusta Greenjackets
Kyle Crick, RHP – Beast frame, raw talent. Crick is a full time pitcher for the first time in his life. He hits 97+ on the gun and has more in the tank. If the Giants give him the time get refined he’s got high level innings eater starter upside or closer stuff.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP – Great frame, low 90s fastball. Needs to be refined but he’s not a bigger name already because of four guys named Bundy, Bradley, Hope and Fulmer that were just a step ahead of him in the Oklahoma 2011 HS draft class. Sleeper. He probably won’t be for long.
Chuckie Jones, OF – Very raw Linebacker. Well, he has the size and the raw power is high end. Third year and he to step up and use his high end tool set. One to watch.
Miami Marlins – Greenboro Grasshoppers
Jose Fernandez, RHP – Top draft pick, big frame with an advanced pitch mix. He could dominate the Sally and make his way to the FSL by midseason.
Austin Brice, RHP – First taste of full season ball, but he’s been dominant when his mechanics are in sync. He’s got the size and the stuff for a mid rotation starter. Yet he’s still raw and unrefined. With mid 90s heat there with the frame he’s a name to watch.
Adam Conley, LHP – The main lefty in this rotation. He gets the fastball into the high 90s when working short stints but works 92-94 as a starter. His changeup flashes plus which makes me think he’s going to be pushed as a starter. If he can refine that along with his sinker he could be a successful mid rotation type.
Jose Urena, RHP – Another fireballer with room to grow. He has a mid to high 90s fastball and his secondaries, while inconsistent can make him unhittable. Can he refine them enough and in enough time to remain a starter?
Washington Nationals – Hagerstown Suns
Alex Meyer, RHP – Monster frame and one of the top rated HS pitchers before attending UK with mixed results. The stuff is there and he’s just a few tweaks from becoming an elite pitching prospect. With AJ Cole gone to Oakland, Meyer is my favorite Nats prospect on the mound.
Brian Goodwin, OF – Goodwin is potential future CF with plus speed and some average pop. He’s got the all around tools, but has yet to turn them into any professional skills. He should spend all of 2012 in the Sally.
Texas Rangers – Hickory Crawdads
Will Lamb, LHP – Mid 90s fastball from the left side. Poor mechanics and a cross body motion are a red flag, but with his 180 lb frame he has more velocity there. Probably best suited for the pen and has the mind set for it. Will remain a starter… for now.
Jorge Alfaro, C – High end talent. Raw in every facet. He has the tools to be a plus catcher defensively… but it will take 3+ years to get near there. His bat has potential but 54 K’s in 160 AB is scary.
Luke Jackson, RHP – Plus fastball but mechanically inconsistent. Right now he’s just raw talent, but repeating the Sally will give him an advantage and psyche is very important at this stage in development. High upside, low floor.
Chicago White Sox – Kannapolis Intimidators
Keenyn Walker, OF – Plus Plus speed, though repeating the Sally because he didn’t make the adjustments at the plate. He doesn’t have much more than gap power, but even that wasn’t there in 2011. Will need a big bounce back 2012. This type of tool set can fade and fall behind quickly.
Kevan Smith, C - Mature college catcher with power to all fields. He has the bat but is still learning to be a professional catcher.
Name to watch: Rangel Ravelo, 3B
Philadelphia Phillies – Lakewood BlueClaws
Aaron Altherr, OF – A big OF with elite power potential that really hasn’t surfaced yet. His lanky frame will add more weight and that should unlock some of the power.
Names to watch: Lino Martinez, LHP, Ervis Manzanillo, LHP
Houston Astros – Lexington Legends
Tanner Bushue, RHP – Bushue was a high level prospect and hasn’t seen the projected velocity spike. He has the best curve in the system and if his fastball catches up he’ll jump back to top prospect status. Time is running short despite his age.
Delino Deshields, 2B – Elite speed, but struggled to make the adjustments as a hitter. Possibly humbled he’ll repeat the level and should turn on the power while upping the average. He’ll see High-A before long.
Pittsburgh Pirates – West Virginia Power
Josh Bell, OF – Slight of hand and the pocket full of cash and the Pirates have one of the highest upside bats in the minor leagues. Bell gets his first taste of pro ball in full season and despite his age he might be in the FSL by July as well. Plus Plus power potential.
Nick Kingham, RHP – Young, low to mid 90s FB and an advanced changeup. He needs to upgrade the curveball but he as the tough part down already with good mechanics and a good feel for pitching. Big frame says he’s a starter. Workhorse potential if he can uptick the FB as he matures.
Jose Osuna, 1B – Teenager with plus power. He’s going to be a stretch in the OF although he has the arm for it. His defense at 1B should be more than average though. If he develops the projected power he will have the bat for it too. He has an advanced approach for a teen and already flashes the power.
New York Mets – Savannah Sand Gnats
Mike Fulmer, RHP – Oklahoma product. Has premium velocity and the secondaries to match at times. He’ll need to ease his mechanics which currently use a little to much upper body. But he has the frame to transition that power to his lower half. #2 upside.
Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B - Power and an inability to make consistent contact. He’s steps behind some of the other talent in the system but should make it to the FSL in 2012. If he’s ever able to use his power consistently he’ll need to make some adjustments to his current hitting mechanics and his appraoch.
Cam Maron, C – Somehow still a relative unknown. But he skips the NY-Penn and heads to full season. Polished hitter and developing more power. We’re early on this one but we see a Top 100 prospect and the best catcher in the system. Others will soon see it as well.
Domingo Tapia, RHP – A big righty with mid to high 90s gas. His command wasn’t stellar last season, but if he can improve his mechanics he has a very high upside as a high K rate workhorse.
Atlanta Braves – Rome Braves
Brandon Drury, 3B – We’re high on Drury, but 2012 will be the proving ground on if his plus plus hit tool can sustain the walk rate he generated in 2011. He’s going to need to become more patient as pitchers can expand the zone. High upside.
Carlos Perez, LHP – This is going to need to be a bounce back year for the lefty. He has to get the fastball back into the 90s to be successful. We think it’s a mechanical flaw that caused it. But we can’t fix it ourselves. So this is a flier on talent not an indication of guaranteed success in 2012.
Kyle Kubitza, 3B – Another 3B prospect for the Braves, he’s not as high end as Drury, but he also has a high floor.
Boston Red Sox- Greenville Drive
Garin Cecchini, 3B – Possibly the highest level hit tool in the entire system. We think his bat is special and we haven’t kept that a secret. Major Breakout Alert.
Matt Barnes, RHP – This is probably a low starting point for Barnes. He’s not long for the Sally and his advanced stuff will be too much for Low-A hitters. The big test will come at High-A to see how much time he’ll need before he’s knocking on the door to Boston.
Brandon Workman, RHP – He handled this league well in 2011 and his name on the roster is a bit surprising. He should move quickly this time and might bypass High-A altogether.
Blake Swihart, C – Top draft pick, defense is highly rated, how well the bat translates will determine how good he can be. We like him, but have our resolutions about his bat being major league caliber.Wait and see.
Henry Owens, LHP – Advanced command for his age with a low 90s FB from the left side and a few breaking balls with an above average changeup that needs refinement. As a lefty he’ll be given more time to advance and if he can reach that mid 90s level he’s becomes an elite prospect.
Kyle Stroup, RHP – Stroup is a big kid, mid 90s fastball with a more advanced changeup than breaking ball. His size indicates innings eater. But he’ll need to concentrate on the secondaries to get there.
Jose Vinicio, SS – Aggressive assignment. The young SS has the tools but is as raw as they come in the system at SS. If he survives this assignment he’ll be better for it in the long run. He swings it from both sides and has speed and pop even though he’s just 150 lbs right now.
Ryan Westmoreland, OF – Once the top prospect in the system. Hopefully we’ll get to see him back on the field. 2 years is a long time in development years. But he had a special tool set and could still be major leaguer some day.
Well that’s the initial look around the Sally League. We’ll be taking a look weekly at each league to find the players that are breaking out and making a name for themselves so be sure to check back daily. LIKE us on Facebook and be first in line for some upcoming surprises.
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