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Prospect Performance Review: April

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (66) throws the ball during spring training against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (66) throws the ball during spring training against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

As the calendar flips to May, it's a good time check in with the system's top prospects. It's been a rough start for some affiliates (Durham just snapped a 13-game losing streak and sits at 7-18, Montgomery and Charlotte are below .500) but let's zero in on the pre-season top 10 as rated by BaseballAmerica:

1. Matt Moore (Tampa Bay Rays) - Slow starts are nothing unusual for Moore and while he isn't getting shelled, those expecting repeats of ALDS game 1 every five nights are disappointed. He seemed to find his fastball command over the last start, and it's worth noting that he's pitched against the Red Sox, Tigers, and Angels so far, and it wouldn't be a huge upset if those wound up as the AL's top three offenses. Upcoming starts against Seattle and Oakland can't hurt.
Stock: Holding steady

2. Hak-Ju Lee (Montgomery Biscuits) - He shrugged off a bout of the chicken pox to come out gangbusters with Charlotte last year. It's been a different story in 2012, off to a .248/.315/.327. The good news is that he's had multiple hits in five of his last six games and is hitting .333/.364/.476. Lefties are eating him up to the tune of a .143 BAA (4-28), but he's getting the bat on the ball against them with only six strikeouts.
Stock: Down ever so slightly - Not drawing conclusions after a month, or even two months taking into account his finish with Montgomery last season, but there are some issues. Then again, maybe he keeps ripping off multi-hit games and just happened to have a cold streak to open the year.

3. Chris Archer (Durham Bulls) - Archer is holding opponents to a .221 batting average, sports a 1.53 GO/AO, and has 20 strikeouts in 24 innings. The problem is we knew Archer was capable of those numbers, but his control and command needed improvement. Instead, they've seemingly taken a step back to open 2012, with 20 walks, 19 hits, and 18 runs in five starts. He's young and athletic and that's great, but at some point he needs to get the ball over the plate.
Stock: Down - The Rays have already sent one top-10 prospect struggling with control to the bullpen, and Archer will be next if he doesn't show some signs of improvement.

4. Taylor Guerrieri (Extended Spring Training) - Sure, it's disappointing to see 2011 high school pitchers Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, and Jose Fernandez dominating low-A while Guerrieri is back in Charlotte. But the Rays are conservative with their prospects, and it would've been almost shocking to see Guerrieri open with Bowling Green.
Stock: Holding steady

5. Alex Colome (Montgomery Biscuits) - The right-hander made just two starts with the Biscuits before going on the shelf with an oblique strain. He's in Charlotte working his way back and should return to the Biscuits rotation in mid-May.
Stock: Holding steady

6. Alex Torres (Durham Bulls) - After leading the International League in strikeouts and walks in 2011, the Rays were probably looking for a step forward in the control department in his second go-round. What they probably weren't looking for was a 10.38 ERA with 21 walks in 17.1 innings. They recently announced that he'd be making the switch to the bullpen, and there's a very good chance that's permanent. He hasn't really made any strides with his control since coming over from the Angels and he has a much better chance helping the big league club in relief.
Stock: Down

7. Tim Beckham (Durham Bulls) - Beckham has played in just 13 games, sidelined since April 19th with a left wrist injury. Not much you can do with a 54 AB sample, so I'll just mention that he was 11-39 (.282/.370/385) vs. RHP and 0-15 (.000/.063/.000) vs. LHP.
Stock: Holding steady

8. Enny Romero (Charlotte Stone Crabs) - Enny Romero is off to what can best be described as an Enny Romero-ish start. He's holding opponents to a .221 batting average with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks in 23 innings. After a 5.4 BB/9 last season with the Hot Rods, some improvement in the walks column would be nice, but he's been Roy Halladay compared to Torres and Archer.
Stock: Holding steady

9. Drew Vettleson (Bowling Green Hot Rods) - The only 2011 first-rounder to make Bowling Green (as Josh Sale and Justin O'Conner were kept in XST), Vettleson is off to a nice start: .303/.361/.427 in 89 ABs, with eight walks and only twelve strikeouts. The nit to pick with Vettleson is that he's kind of a tweener right now: Probably not athletic enough to play center field, but without the classic power from a corner guy. He's still got development left, obviously, so it's not a huge problem now, but worth keeping an eye on.
Stock: Up - Always nice to see players hit well in April in the Midwest League.

10. Mikie Mahtook (Charlotte Stone Crabs) - No complaints with the .286 batting average. Eight walks and 13 strikeouts in 77 ABs isn't bad. But where, oh where, is the power? Mahtook wasn't fazed slightly by new college bats that suppressed power last spring, knocking 14 HR on his way to a .709 SLG with LSU. But only three of his 22 hits with the Stone Crabs have gone for extra bases, two doubles and a triple. It's a league and park that suppress power (team leaders in HR: Acosta, Torrez, Wunderlich, all tied at one), but still.
Stock: Holding steady - But keep an eye on the power.