It's been a long journey so far, this minor league All-Star series of ours. There have been ups and downs, certainly, but it's all been for a good cause; trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully this series gives you all something to rest your hat on as the season winds down.
So far, we've looked at the catchers, first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, and third basemen. This time around, we'll see who had the best seasons out in left field. I'll reiterate the rule about only voting once considering we had someone skew the results on the shortstops. If you do know how that happened, let Scott or myself know.
Editor's note: Seriously, I just want to know where this came from. I'm not looking to ban users or report someone to the Internet Police.
Eugenio Velez (56 games, .272 batting average/.336 on-base percentage/.371 slugging, 58 hits (15 XBH), 2 home runs, 23 runs, 22 runs batted in, 15 for 19 in stolen base attempts, 8.5% walk rate, 18.6% strikeout rate in 236 plate appearances for Triple-A Durham)
Velez is a weird inclusion for this poll. He performed about where you would hope for a journeyman who has seen MLB time in the past. He swiped bags fairly well while getting on base a fair amount of time. However, at the end of June Velez was cut by the team and he ended up joining Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League.
Joey Rickard (117 games, .321/.427/.447, 127 hits (38 XBH), 2 home runs, 62 runs, 55 RBI, 23 for 29 in stolen base attempts, 14.4% walk rate, 15.6% strikeout rate in 480 plate appearances for Class A-Advanced Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham)
Rickard was our extra nominee for this position as he went through three levels but didn't get enough time at any level to get the most games at a position. Consider him the second Triple-A option if that tickles your fancy. Rickard ended up winning baserunner of the year for the Rays minor league system after scoring 62 runs and going 23 for 29 in stolen bases. He also tore up Triple A, hitting .360 in 29 games after joining Durham Aug. 3. Rickard will probably start next year in Durham again, but this a guy who could see the majors soon with the strides he's making.
Tyler Goeddel (123 games, .279/.350/.433, 132 hits (39 XBH), 12 home runs, 68 runs, 72 RBI, 28 for 37 in stolen base attempts, 9.0% walk rate, 18.4% strikeout rate in 533 plate appearances for Double-A Montgomery)
Goeddel spent all year in Double A but that isn't to say he performed badly. He is still two years younger than the average Double-A player, so there isn't a need to rush him. Not only that, he improved his performance compared to previous years in several stats, including his slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), home runs, and extra-base hits. While this isn't quite "breakout" material, it is still significant improvement. Goeddel is ranked No. 26 in the system by mlb.com. I can foresee that ranking improving over the offseason.
Granden Goetzman (93 games, .240/.292/.322, 79 hits (20 XBH), 3 home runs, 38 runs, 34 RBI, 16 for 19 in stolen base attempts, 6.4% walk rate, 18.4% strikeout rate in 358 plate appearances for Class A-Advanced Charlotte)
Due to injuries, Goetzman has really struggled to play a full season at any level, causing him to move up the chain slowly. He missed the first month of the season again this year and has still struggled to find his form at the plate. The raw tools are there, but outside of a strong 12 games in 2012 with Princeton and first half at Bowling Green last year, he hasn't really shown any of them. The only skill he could show off was his speed with 16 stolen bases. At least he didn't have his putrid strikeout rate from his stint in Charlotte last year. Goetzman will have to find some way around his plaguing injuries or the future of his baseball career could look very slim; just ask Ryne Stanek.
Bralin Jackson (116 games, .274/.337/.356, 113 hits (25 XBH), 3 home runs, 45 runs, 41 RBI, 14 for 30 in stolen base attempts, 8.1% walk rate, 18.5% strikeout rate in 455 plate appearances for Class-A Bowling Green)
Jackson had more success getting on base compared to Goetzman but had a lot of similar stats otherwise. However, for his first year playing a full season of baseball, he performed pretty well. Any drop in his stats could easily be attributed to the ups and downs of a full year as they were negligible at best. I will say though the amount of times he was caught stealing is a bit intriguing. Was it simply bad luck? Was it the increased competition level? Or was his speed just not good enough at this level?
Joe McCarthy (49 games, .277/.362/.337, 51 hits (9 XBH), 0 home runs, 24 runs, 21 RBI, 18 for 21 in stolen base attempts, 8.5% walk rate, 10.8% strikeout rate in 213 plate appearances for short-season Hudson Valley)
Ah, my favorite part of these articles; the players who just got drafted. So hopeful, so much potential; my favorite to try to build on. McCarthy was a fifth-round pick for the Rays out of Virginia. He profiled with plus speed that showed with 18 stolen bases. He also has above-average raw power, but he struggled to harness it with no home runs and only 9 extra base hits. Scouts have said he needs to incorporate his lower body into his swing; hopefully this offseason provides him the opportunity to do so. He should be fighting for a spot in Bowling Green come next spring, so the game power showing up would help a lot. Either way, his minor league debut could've been a lot worse and he has something to build on.
Landon Cray (57 games, .259/.363/.376, 53 hits (15 XBH), 2 home runs, 31 runs, 25 RBI, 2 for 4 in stolen base attempts, 13.8% walk rate, 9.7% strikeout rate in 247 plate appearances for rookie-level Princeton)
Cray was the 18th-round pick in this year's draft for the Rays, but as I've said before, the presence of two rookie teams for the Rays to send players to allows those mid-to-lower round players to get a chance. Cray performed above average overall with a 110 wRC+. The main thing I would note here is that his walk rate is significantly higher than his strikeout rate.
Miguel Hernandez (39 games, .207/.236/.304, 28 hits, (10 XBH), 1 home runs, 11 runs, 12 runs batted in, 8 for 14 in stolen base attempts, 3.5% walk rate, 23.1% strikeout rate in 143 plate appearances for the GCL Rays)
Hernandez has always had a high strikeout rate, but the dip in his walk rate is new. He drew an average amount of walks last season, but this year he was unable to get the free pass. Of course, a low walk rate and high strikeout rate leads to a poor on-base percentage. I've iterated that point a bunch in this series and you guys are probably tired of hearing it by now. There were some flashes of power to be sure, but it was inconsistent. The fact that they promoted him from the DSL to the GCL does give him some sign of life though. He is just 19 years old, so he has a chance to move up the chain. Another GCL year would do him some good though.
- Catcher: Justin O'Conner
- First Base: Jake Bauers
- Second Base: Kean Wong
- Shortstop: ???
- Third Base: Richie Shaffer
With last week's shortstop shenanigans, we are asking readers to manually choose a shortstop in the comments. If 280 people want to vote for Michael Russell again, please do. Your choices are Hak-Ju Lee, Daniel Robertson, Willy Adames, Cristian Toribio, Michael Russell, Peter Maris and Adrian Rondon.