We’re almost through the first round of the Touch’em All Series as we push through Double-A. We take focus on the Southern League were lesser knowns like former top Marlins prospects Jake Smolinski is raking and youngster Andrelton Simmons turning things around and proving he’s the Braves future at SS. So let’s delve into some performances and see what we come up with. Here’s the Southern League.
The Hottest Hitters
Matt Davidson 3B Diamondbacks – age 21 – Davidson is the youngest player really mashing in the SL. He’s hitting .317 with 9 doubles and 5 HR while walking 20 times against 23 strikeouts. That’s a 15.9% walk rate at an advanced league for his age. The power is there and if continues to develop at this rate he’ll make us look really good for making him the top position prospect in the Dbacks system. Because he after all the best chance they have at a stud 3B.
Andrelton Simmons SS Braves – age 23 – Simmons narrowly missed starting the season in the Bigs when he tore it up in Spring Training. But he needs a little more polish offensively and after a slow start has begun hitting the ball on the screws. He’s up to .319 with 6 doubles and 2 triples while stealing 6 bases. He’s struck out just 10 times and has walked 9 times. in 94 AB. We’ve never projected him to have much game power so he’s staying within his game. His glove is outstanding and major league ready. In short order his bat will be playable as well.
Jake Smolinski OF Marlins – age 23 – He’s hitting .385 with 9 doubles and 2 triples while striking out 11 times and matching that with 11 walks in 65 at bats. While he’s being helped with a high BABIP at .463 it’s still an impressive start for a player who was once a top prospect for the Marlins. His AVG will drop as the BABIP normalizes and notably he isn’t hitting for any power. He’s pretty much relegated to LF so he’ll need to start thumping. But it’s a skill that has never materialized.
Alfredo Marte OF Diamondbacks – age 23 – A less heralded prospect, Marte has hit .287 with 6 doubles and 7 HR while driving in 22. He is striking out at a high rate with 20 K’s in 101 AB. But the power is a real tool and his BABIP is low at .297. So there is some upside here to the AVG especially if he can become a little more patient at the plate and work into better hitters counts.
Tyler Saladino SS White Sox – age 23 – He has one of the highest walk rates in the league at 18.1% and that’s driving his rise as a prospect. That isn’t an ability easily taught and he’s taking full advantage of it. His OBP is .409 and he’s hitting at a .289 clip with 3 doubles, 2 triples and a HR with 9 SB. If can continue to work counts and get on base, use his speed to move station to station he could be a solid top of the order hitter and his defense so far has been solid with just 5 errors through 27 games.
Jared Mitchell OF White Sox – age 24 – Mitchell is coming back from two lost seasons and making noise in the Southern League after hitting just .222 with 183 strikeouts in High-A last year. One would think he had no business being promoted, yet he’s hitting .313 with 7 doubles, 5 triples and a HR with 6 SB in 96 AB. Where does the turn around come from? Well he’s walking at nearly twice the pace and cut the K’s by almost 10%. With that said he has a high BABIP of .424 so there could be some trouble in the future if the new-found discipline isn’t real. But quite the bounce back thus far.
Jake Lemmerman SS Dodgers – age 23 – Lemmerman has seems to have made his adjustments to the SL after struggling in a small sample in 2011. He’s hitting .320 with 6 doubles, a triple and 2 HR with a .398 OBP. He’s walked 7 times to 19 strikeouts. The K rate is up there at 22.9% and his BABIP of .412 might mean some regression is in the cards. Let’s this is one we’ll keep a close eye on. He doesn’t have a spot on the big club with Dee Gordon locking down the SS position. So he may need to handle the transition to 2B.
Kyle Russell OF Dodgers – age 26 – Russell is making his third round of the SL but this time he seems to have caught on. He’s hitting .313 with .203 IsoP. His K rate while better than it was in 2010 and 2011 is still near 25%. Too high to sustain and he has a .419 BABIP with a 26% Line Drive rate. So he’s crushing balls and they are finding their spots to land. But he will need to keep up the high walk rate at Triple-A to become a regular with the Dodgers. He has the power. Always has. But he’s 26 and needs to make it happen now.
Nick Franklin SS Mariners – age 21 – Franklin isn’t off to a scorching start, but’s hitting .290 with a .140 IsoP powered by 7 doubles and 2 HR. He’s putting up a nice walk rate with 10 and just 15 K’s. Remember that he’s just 21 years old and still developing. He raked in the AFL and it’s probably just a matter of time before he catches a hot streak in the Southern League.
The Notable Nots
Marc Krauss OF Diamondbacks – age 24 – Krauss has had some ups and downs in his career. He’s relegated to LF/1B/DH type and he’s not adding the power needed to be that type of player. Krauss is hitting just .255 with a 25.8% K rate. But he is having a bounce back after a dreadful 2011 season where he hit just .242 and struck out 123 times. Well his K rate is still up there but his bb% is 16.7% and his IsoP has jumped to .256. He still has work to do but he’s heading in the right direction.
Hak-Ju Lee SS Rays – age 22 – Lee is the top SS prospect for the Rays but he’s scuffling out of the gate in 2012. Still holding down SS, his bat is suffering from a low BABIP at .280. Driving his average down at .230 with very little power and a low OBP. That takes away his game speed and if he can’t get on base he isn’t a very useful offensive player. Expect the BABIP to turn around for him. But he’s not an All-Star in the making at this rate. The Rays may need to look deeper into the system for their future.
Scooter Gennett 2B Brewers – age 22 – Gennett isn’t showing the same hitting ability and growing power that he did in 2011. His BABIP is a little low at .300, but what’s really taking its toll is the low walk rate which we pointed out may eventually become an issue for him. We still love his ability and overall game as a solid utility player or better, but it’s going to take him time to adjust level to level.
Junior Lake SS Cubs – age 22 – Lake hasn’t had an official at bat yet this season, in case anyone has wondered why the 2011 breakout player and AFL All Star hasn’t been in the news. He’s in extended Spring Training now and has played the past few days getting back into game shape. He’s gone 3-17 at the dish while playing SS well. He still needs to shake off some rust and make sure the back is 100% before he joins his Cubs teammates in the SL.
That’s the Southern League bats to date. We’re going to jump right into the pitchers of the SL next, the Draft Preview 26-50 is almost ready for press and the highly anticipated 360 degrees of Baseball Instinct prospects list is updated and will be run this week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.