Tyler Goeddel is off to a hot start with the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Jesse Piecuch/MiLB.com)
I think eleven games is enough to make definitive statements about how the year for prospects will go, don't you? No? Well, here's a look at two hot and cold starts from the depths of the minors anyway.
All stats through Sunday 4/15
3B Tyler Goeddel, Bowling Green - Pop quiz: After Taylor Guerrieri's $1.6M bonus, who got the most money from the Rays in last June's draft? No, it's not Mikie Mahtook, and it's not the third 1st-rounder, Jake Hager. It was California high schooler Tyler Goeddel who pocketed a $1.5M bonus. That's a good way to stand out. Hitting .406/.457/.688 is even better. He's had multiple hits in four of the Hot Rods' eight games so far, including a 4-6 performance with two home runs on Sunday. It goes without saying that 35 PAs is a miniscule sample size, but Goeddel's season started out positively by simply being assigned to full-season ball with no pro experience, the only high school draftee to do so under the current Rays regime (also consider that 2010 first rounders Josh Sale and Justin O'Conner remain in extended spring training). Here's a pre-draft scouting report on Goeddel from BaseballAmerica:
His defense at the hot corner has gotten nice reviews from Hot Rods radio man Hank Fuerst and he has the arm, athleticism, and actions to stick there if the Rays so desire. On the hitting side, his home runs may have been aided by a strong wind blowing out, but it's obviously still a good sign that he's hit for five extra-base hits of 13 hits overall.
Tyler has a gangly and projectable 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame. He's also a well above-average runner, athletic enough to play third base, though his speed may be best utilized in center field. Goeddel has above-average arm strength and shows intriguing tools at the plate. He takes aggressive swings with bat speed, and his bat head stays in the hitting zone for a long time. Scouts have to project on Goeddel's power, but it's not hard to envision him hitting for at least average power as he adds muscle to his frame.
LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, Charlotte - A 20th round pick in 2010 from Chipola JC, Riefenhauser was the surprise of the Bowling Green staff last season, posting a 2.31 ERA while striking out nearly a hitter per inning. He struggled toward the end of the season with the Stone Crabs, but has gotten off to a good start with them in 2012. Moved from the rotation to a long relief role, he's struck out 11 and hasn't issued a walk in 7.2 innings. As was the case last season, he's been death on lefties, who are 1-10 with 6 strikeouts against him. He's likely to get at least a few starts this season, but he could move quickly as a reliever if needed. He obviously has potential as at least a LOOGY, but needs to make improvements against RHBs (who are hitting .400 against him in the early going).
RHP Chris Archer, Durham - His first start was pretty nice -- two hits, one run, eight punchouts in 6 IP -- but he's going to need to string together many more like that for his line to recover from start #2: 2.2 innings, five hits, nine earned runs, six walks, two strikeouts. It doesn't matter how good his stuff is if he has no idea where it's going, and he's simply not a viable option to help the big-league club out with clunkers like this. Last season, Archer had a whopping 18 starts where he walked at least three hitters, and eight where he walked at least five. His fastball/slider combination is as good as any on a pure stuff level, but sooner or later he's got to throw strikes consistently with them.
SS Hak-Ju Lee, Montgomery - Lee made waves last April with a torrid start, but 2012 has seen a continuation of his late-season struggles with the Biscuits. He's started the year 9-45 with his only two extra-base hits being doubles. With his slight frame, there are concerns about his ability to handle advanced pitching, and in his first 35 games at double-A, he's hitting .193/.274/.290. There are some on-base skills there, plus he's stolen seven bases and played solid defense, but it's never good when you're straddling the Mendoza line. Also of note: He struck out 72 times in 97 games with Charlotte, but he's whiffed 32 times in his 35 games with the Biscuits.