Deep Sea Diving: Hot Starts From Lesser-Known Prospects

Like father, like son? Probably not, but you never know... via brettkiser.files.wordpress.com

You'll be hearing a lot about Tyler Goeddel, and rightfully so. He leads the Rays' system in OPS three weeks in despite being 19 years old and in the Midwest League (a notoriously tough league to hit in, particularly in April). And we're all excited by Felipe Rivero, who tops the system leaderboards in innings pitches (21.2) and earned runs allowed (that would be zero). But let's put dreams of next year's top 10 list aside for this week and take a look at some hot starts from the depth of the system, the guys who weren't dotting this offseason's lists.

1B Cameron Seitzer - The son of Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, Cameron seems like a chip off the block. Dad walked more than he struck out in a 12-year big league career, and Cameron has that box checked with Bowling Green so far (eleven walks, nine strikeouts). Seitzer has an identical .904 to his debut with Princeton last season, though he's relying much more on OBP than SLG this year. An 11th-round pick out of Oklahoma last year, Seitzer is hitting .297/.420/.485 in 77 games as a pro.

The thing Cameron can't do that Kevin did is play a position other than first base, where his below-average power isn't as big a deal. Seitzer shares a roster with Jeff Malm, and it's Malm who has played elsewhere to get both bats in the lineup. After hitting 16 home runs in 2010, Seitzer knocked only four out last spring with the new college bat standards. The eleven with wood with the P-Rays last year was a nice surprise, but he's a line-drive, gap-power player with below-average athleticism, a bad combination. His lack of a power ceiling hurts, but if he continues to hit for average and draw walks, he could carve out some type of role in the majors. But that's getting ahead of ourselves, as he's a college draftee playing younger competition.

CIF/COF Henry Wrigley - With five home runs, Wrigley has the early-season lead in the Rays system. After hitting 25 homers combined in his first four seasons, Wrigley has hit 21 and 17 the last two, respectively. He's been able to drive in runs, but the power has never come with an ability to hit for average (.255 career BA, best season was .270) or get on base (career OBP under .300, 23 walks in 118 games last season). He's only hitting .267 in 2012, but he's nearly halfway to last year's walk total, drawing eleven so far. Of course, it's his third tour around the Southern League and he's not exactly about to bump Longoria, but there seems to be some later-career development here. His power spike came in his age-23 season, and at least so far this year, he's doing a better job of getting on base. His ceiling is maybe a Russ Canzler-type, but Canzler got a cup of coffee. So I'll bump up Wrigley's shot at making the majors from 0% (where I was at this time last year) to 5%. It's not much, but it's something. Maybe the Wrigley Truthers at RaysProspects knew something I didn't.

IF Cole Figueroa - This might be pushing it just a tad, as Figueroa did get a bit of consideration for some top 30s, though he wasn't actually placed by any of the four writers at RP. He was the fourth wheel in the Jason Bartlett trade, and the only one who sternfan hasn't demanded be removed from the bullpen at one point or another (Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Gomes). Primarily a second basemen until this year, Figueroa has slid over to 3B in his second deployment with the Biscuits to accomodate Tyler Bortnick. He's always had a solid approach and hit for contact -- a career .293/.391/.399 hitter -- but he's showing some power this year with two home runs (career high: five), five doubles, and a triple. Not that his .516 SLG% is sustainable, but even a slight bump helps his chances at perhaps becoming a utility infielder down the road. It's only his age-25 season (and barely; he doesn't hit 25 until June 30th, which is b-ref's cutoff), so while a crowded infield at Durham relegated him back to double-A, it's not a disaster. He's sure-handed, can play anywhere in the infield, makes contact, and even has a little speed -- great ingredients for a utility man.

RHP Jake Floethe - Historically speaking, the Rays' college pitchers taken in the 6th-10th rounds haven't done much. A sampling since 2003: Billy Buckner, Brian Henderson, Greg Reinhard, Mike Wlodarczyk, Shane Dyer, Devin Fuller, Merrill Kelly. The only one to make the majors from that group, Buckner, didn't sign with the Rays (and has a negative WAR anyway). So it's understandable to typecast Floethe as another low-ceiling college arm. His pre-draft scouting report doesn't do much to counteract that: 91-93 with some sink, average slider, show-me change-up. 21 innings in the Midwest League don't change anything, but he's making it all work pretty well, with a 1.71 ERA, a 16-2 K-BB rate, and a 1.76 GO/AO. And if Floethe does just turn into another organizational arm, hey, at least you got a Mike Wlodarczyk reference dropped on you out of the deal.

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