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2013 Prospects in Review: Left Field

No one really stands out among left fielders in 2013

Ty Morrison will have to bounce back from injury in 2014
Ty Morrison will have to bounce back from injury in 2014
Jim Donten

Center Field
Right Field

This week, I'll continue the position wrap-ups by finishing off the outfield. You can check out the previous entries with the links above.

Left Field

The left field profile is very similar to last week's right field. Hitting and hitting for power are typically key attributes, but the big difference is arm strength isn't as important. Less athletic players usually wind up here if they can't continue playing the positions they did as amateurs.

Two top 30 players were left fielders this year, and they may not be back. Because of down performance and injuries, their status is up in the air for next year. There were a few other players I found to be pretty intriguing among those that weren't ranked going into the year. I don't know if they're top 30 players, but I have changed my views on some.

18. Todd Glaesmann (22 Y.O. at Double-A)
529 PA, .240/.289/.378, 4.9 BB%, 20.8 K%, 11 HR, 42 XBH

After only hitting eight career home runs from 2009 to 2011, Glaesmann finally tapped into his raw power in 2012 with 21 homers between Bowling Green and Charlotte. His walk and strikeout rates remained roughly the same as previous seasons, but he even batted .285 across those two levels.

It turns out that might've been fueled by a high BABIP. In 2013, he was closer to the player he was prior to 2012. Although his walk and strikeout rates were still roughly the same, his OPS dropped 162 points, and he only hit 11 home runs. His average dropped down to .240 as his BABIP plunged over 50 points. The report going into the season indicated he should hit for a good average (BA, $), but that has hardly materialized during his professional career. With his power potential and defensive ability, it wouldn't be wise to throw in the towel on Glaesmann, but he has to work to show 2012 isn't just an outlier in his career.

30. Ty Morrison (22 Y.O. at Double-A)
80 PA, .211/.275/.268, 7.5 BB%, 23.8 K%

Like Glaesmann, Morrison restored some of his stock with a good 2012 season. He started the year repeating Charlotte, and with improved numbers across the board, he was quickly promoted to Montgomery. He was able to continue making better contact than he had in the past, and his OPS there was actually three points higher than it was in Charlotte.

Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to build on that campaign in 2013, playing in just 17 games before going down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. His arm was never strong in the first place, so the biggest affect that will have on his game is probably just the missed at-bats. He should be ready to play in 2014, and I expect he'll start as a 23 year old back with Montgomery.

Ismel Antunez (22 Y.O. at Short-Season Class A)
12 PA, .222/.417/.222, 25.0 BB%, 33.3 K%, 2 SB (100%)

After playing just three games with Hudson Valley, the 22 year old Venezuelan Antunez was released. It had been two years since he played regularly, splitting time between the Venezuelan Summer League and Gulf Coast League in 2011. In his 80 career stateside games, he didn't hit any home runs and wasn't an efficient base stealer at all.

Willie Argo (23 Y.O. at Class A-Advanced)
359 PA, .308/.404/.420, 12.0 BB%, 21.2 K%, 37 SB (88.1%)

At one point, Argo was actually considered a top 100 prospect in the 2011 draft, but he had a down season at Illinois and returned for his senior season. After starting the season in extended spring training because of a hip injury, he was added to Charlotte's roster in May and had an impressive season. He was third in the Florida State League in steals and did it very efficiently. He knows to walk to get on base to use his speed, but despite his career .300 average, making enough contact to utilize it further is in question.

He doesn't really have power, so he'll need to focus on cutting down those strikeouts and putting the ball in play. He should have the athleticism to play center field, but in his first two pro seasons, he's had to defer to Andrew Toles with Princeton and Kes Carter with Charlotte.

Jason Bourgeois (31 Y.O. at Triple-A and Majors)
391 PA, .290/.343/.368, 7.9 BB%, 9.7 K%, 22 SB (78.6%) (minor league stats only)

Bourgeois spent some time in the majors for the sixth straight season with the Rays becoming his fifth franchise in those six years. He's an okay minor league player who can play all three outfield spots, put the ball in play, get on base a bit and steal some bags. He elected to hit free agency at the end of the season, and he'll try to catch on with another team in 2014.

Johnny Eierman (20 Y.O. at Rookie/Princeton)
111 PA, .228/.278/.446, 6.3 BB%, 26.1 K%, 4 HR, 12 XBH

Eierman was one of the best athletes in the 2011 draft, and the Rays took him in the third round. He got a $550,000 signing bonus, more than twice the slot value for his pick, but his talent hasn't resulted in any game production. Including an absurdly large leg kick, his swing needed a lot of work. That resulted in him starting consecutive seasons in extended spring training, and he still hasn't played in a full-season league.

Although it was another poor season, he did show some of the power potential that was promised two years ago with 12 extra base hits in 111 plate appearances, but his athleticism has been missing in action. The last two years, he's almost entirely played a corner outfield spot instead of shortstop or center field, and he didn't attempt a single steal in 2013.

Marty Gantt (23 Y.O. at Class A)
496 PA, .267/.339/.391, 9.3 BB%, 22.2 K%, 19 SB (86.4%)

23 year olds having good seasons in the Midwest League is not uncommon, but Gantt's season is one of the best success stories in the organization this year. Without fully formed fingers on his right hand, he was able to post a .730 OPS, above the MWL average. He has very little power, but he does have decent on-base skills and the speed to steal some bases. He may not have the tools to be a major league hitter, but his athleticism and work ethic are good to have around the organization.

Granden Goetzman (20 Y.O. at Short-Season Class A and Class A)
300 PA, .203/.237/.317, 3.7 BB%, 21.7 K%, 23 SB (74.2%)

Groin and back injuries limited Goetzman to 136 plate appearances in his first two seasons, but with the exception of a brief DL stint in June, he was healthy in 2013. Unfortunately, his performance in 300 plate appearances wasn't good at all. He struggled in about a month's worth of action with Bowling Green, but things didn't get any better with Hudson Valley starting in June.

Billed as a potential five tool talent, the hit and power tools were nowhere to be found, and his poor plate approach didn't help matters. He was still able to display effective base running though. The success rate of drafted hitters that go to extended spring training in consecutive years isn't good at all, but perhaps Goetzman deserves some slack for now because of the injuries.

Clayton Henning (19 Y.O. at Rookie/Gulf Coast League)
112 PA, .260/.339/.323, 10.7 BB%, 32.1 K%, 10 SB (83.3%)

Henning was a pretty unheralded signing in the 2012 draft, but he was able to open some eyes in last year's instructional league season (Baseball Prospectus $). He's beyond raw at the plate, but the former high school football player's speed impacts the game on the bases and in the field. While it's a positive that he's able to try to wait for his pitch, he strikes out far too often at this point and still needs a ton of work. He has the bat speed to make solid contact and develop some power down the road if he can improve pitch recognition. With a BABIP over .400, he may not bat .260 again unless something clicks.


via Jim Donten

Kyeong Kang (25 Y.O. at Class A-Advanced and Double-A)
471 PA, .264/.365/.479, 14.9 BB%, 25.7 K%, 16 HR, 47 XBH

Four years ago, Kang was a Futures Game participant, sharing the field with International teammates including Brett Lawrie, Starlin Castro and Carlos Santana. He had a .880 OPS as a 21 year old with Bowling Green that year, but his career has stalled at the next two levels since. A roster crunch had him starting 2013 with Charlotte, but he made it to Montgomery after Morrison got injured and spent the rest of the season there. Kang, a left-handed bat, didn't show the wild platoon splits he had in the past, especially when it came to his walk and strikeout rates.

His 16 homers led all Rays minor leaguers, but he appears to be scheduled to hit minor league free agency this off-season. His power against righties is a useful skill, but his left field-only profile and questionable hit tool will remain as barriers as he tries to advance.

Hunter Lockwood (20 Y.O. at Rookie/Princeton)
258 PA, .243/.295/.451, 6.2 BB%, 29.5 K%, 9 HR, 25 XBH

As an amateur, there was never any question that Lockwood had power. He led the DFW Metroplex with 17 home runs as a high school senior, and he was second in the Big 12 in homers with 11 his freshman year before transferring. The Rays signed him in the 11th round, moved him out from behind the plate where he was a poor defender, and sent him out to Princeton where he continued hitting for power.

His 25 extra base hits led the Appy League, and the outfield is a better fit for him defensively, although he still has work to do. Plus power from the right side of the plate isn't terribly common, and the Rays will have to work on his plate approach and cutting down on his swing so he can continue to tap into it.

Taylor Motter (23 Y.O. at Class A-Advanced)
239 PA, .290/.359/.419, 9.2 BB%, 12.1 K%, 20 SB (71.4%)

Motter happened to end up grouped with the left fielders, but his defensive versatility is what makes him such a good minor league player. He appeared in five or more games at five different positions with Charlotte, and it couldn't have been more if a hamstring injury didn't limit him to 66 games.

He's a good athlete with a patient approach, and he cut down on his strikeouts to improve his contact rate. His power isn't good enough for a regular corner outfielder, but it's more adequate for someone who can play just about every position. He'll be 24 next year with Montgomery and look to provide value all across the diamond.

Jiminson Natera (21 Y.O. at Rookie/Gulf Coast League)
18 PA, .214/.389/.286, 16.7 BB%, 33.3 K%

Natera was released just a couple weeks into his second career stateside season. In his first go-around in the GCL, he batted .247 and slugged .401, but he struck out in an absurd 36.2% of his plate appearances. That continued a trend of high strikeout seasons that began in the Dominican Summer League. He didn't have the bat or power to make up for all the strikeouts though and ultimately never hit enough for a corner outfielder.

Brett Nommensen (26 Y.O. at Class A-Advanced)
17 PA, .467/.529/.533, 11.8 BB%, 11.8 K%

Nommensen had become a veteran with the Stone Crabs, spending parts of the last three seasons there. In early May, after being placed on the disabled list twice, he was released by the Rays after playing only five games. He batted .270 in the organization with a career walk rate over 11%, but he never had the power necessary for a corner outfielder.

Jose Paez (19 Y.O. at Rookie/Gulf Coast League)
195 PA, .236/.284/.352, 4.6 BB%, 24.6 K%, 9 SB (60%)

In 2012, Paez was named the Most Valuable Player for the Venezuelan Summer League Rays by the organization. In his first trip to U.S. ball, his .636 OPS was below the league average, but he was only 19 years old. That's a far cry from his 2012 stats in the VSL when he batted .364 with a .966 OPS. The stadium down there is known for inflating offensive numbers, and that appears that it could be the case here. His walk rate was nearly cut in half, and his strikeout rate rose by nearly 10%. Another seaso in the GCL is probably in order here.

Steven Tinoco (25 Y.O. at Class A-Advanced and Double-A)
147 PA, .185/.247/.230, 6.1 BB%, 19.0 K%

Tinoco personified the organizational soldier role in 2013, playing in only 46 games across two levels. He never got in a rhythm and posted the abysmal .476 OPS. His versatility is what keeps him in the organization though, and a player that can play all four corner positions isn't bad to have off the bench when a prospect needs a day off. He has made three appearances on the mound in consecutive years.

Elias Torres (21 Y.O. at Rookie/Princeton)
150 PA, .256/.324/.383, 6.0 BB%, 18.7 K%

Like Paez, Torres was also making his stateside debut after playing in a Caribbean summer league. He's a bit older though, and the Rays assigned him to Princeton instead of the GCL. His plate approach seems pretty average, along with the rest of his game. His power seems a bit below average for a corner spot, he didn't make a lot of contact, and he wasn't on an asset on the bases either. It's hard to see where Torres goes from here as an older player.

Erick Vasquez (19 Y.O. at Rookie/Gulf Coast League)
136 PA, .179/.243/.220, 5.1 BB%, 30.1 K%, 5 SB (83.3%)

In the same international signing period that the Rays signed Yoel Araujo, they also nabbed Vasquez for $100,000. BA's report from the time ($) noted he had some power but needed to adjust his swing. Half of that was clear in 2013, and it wasn't that he has power. He continued to struggle making contact, and his strikeout rate would suggest that he may not have been ready for this level. He did steal five bases efficiently (after stealing 24 last year in the VSL), but that's not expected to be a part of his game moving forward.

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