Welcome back to this lovely little series we have going on here at DMike Trout or Paul Goldschmidt. Or, we can laugh at who struggled this year and stamp them as busts, calling for their head on the proverbial chopping block.Bay where we're going to figure out which of the young, blossoming players in the minor leagues performed well this season and is guaranteed to become the next
Either way, since the minor league season is now over, there's no better time than the present to look at who was the best at each position. As I've stated before, we are going to stratify all the minor league players by position, then whoever played the most games at each position at each level will be nominated. There could also be another player added in if they could reasonably be argued for over someone else who played more games (for example Boog Powell, who played very well cumulatively this year but didn't spend enough time at each level to be nominated by our method). Even then, there will still be a guy or two we'll just miss. We apologize in advance and feel free to blast us in the comments for it.
In the spirit of all this, please vote only once. It'll give a better result of everyone here's opinion of the players.
Hak-Ju Lee (96 games, .220 batting average/.303 on-base percentage/.304 slugging, 69 hits (19 XBH), 3 home runs, 33 runs, 27 runs batted in, 20 for 23 in stolen base attempts, 9.7% walk rate, 29.2% strikeout rate in 360 plate appearances for Triple-A Durham)
Lee has really struggled to find himself since his freak knee injury that took him out for the season just a couple games into the 2013 season. Since then, he hasn't looked like the shortstop of the future we were all hoping for when he was acquired before the 2011 season. His speed that made him a top 100 prospect has been wavering, but it flashed some this year with 20 steals. He isn't as quick as he once was, but it's better than last year. On the other hand, his strikeout rate increased by more than 5%. It transferred over to his batting average which was far below par.
(78 games, .274/.363/.415, 82 hits (29 XBH), 4 home runs, 49 runs, 41 runs batted in, 2 for 5 in stolen base attempts, 9.5% walk rate, 16.7% strikeout rate in 347 plate appearances for Double-A Montgomery)
The No. 5 prospect in the system per mlb.com had a positive season in terms of getting on base with a good batting average and on-base percentage. The plus hit tool continues to show, and he even flashed some power. He isn't known for his speed, so the fact he was caught stealing more than actually stealing a base doesn't surprise me. He broke his wrist a couple months into the season, and he had to miss more than a month and a half. Even then, his hitting didn't suffer, and he still seems like a strong candidate to break into the majors soon.
Willy Adames (106 games, .258/.342/.379, 102 hits (34 XBH), 4 home runs, 51 runs, 46 runs batted in, 10 for 11 in stolen base attempts, 11.8% walk rate, 27.0% strikeout rate in 456 plate appearances for Class A-Advanced Charlotte)
Before being shut down in late August with an elbow injury, Adames played very consistently for the entire season. His production change from last year to this year was negligible in most regards. His walk rate increased compared to last year, but so did his strikeouts. Like Robertson, Adames isn't exactly a speedster, but going 10 for 11 in stolen base attempts isn't bad at all. He could get you a stolen base on a offspeed pitch fairly easily.
Cristian Toribio (111 games, .239/.270/.366, 89 hits (27 XBH), 8 home runs, 38 runs, 39 runs batted in, 12 for 20 in stolen base attempts, 3.8% walk rate, 20.0% strikeout rate in 395 plate appearances for Class-A Bowling Green)
Toribio got his chance to play full-season baseball and certainly experienced some growing pains. His walk rate went from below average to downright awful. At the same time, he struck out at the same level, hurting his ability to get on base effectively. His plate discipline was really challenged by this new tier of pitchers. His power showed up, but like most of his game, it was significantly hampered the inability to get hits. One thing to note though; Toribio was expected by some scouts to end up moving over to third because he couldn't handle shortstop, yet he played every game at short this year. This is a good sign for his defensive profile.
Michael Russell (63 games, .257/.365/.382, 62 hits (22 XBH), 50 runs, 20 runs batted in, perfect in 22 stolen base attempts, 9.5% walk rate, 18.4% strikeout rate in 283 plate appearances for short-season Hudson Valley)
Russell was the Rays' fifth-round pick out of North Caorlina in 2014, and he showed them enough to like that they assigned him to the New York-Penn League this year as opposed to one of the rookie leagues. When I first looked at his stats, the main thing that jumped out to me was the stolen-base percentage. 22 stolen bases in 63 games; this is a player that when he gets on base, he is dangerous. When he got on base (which was a far above-average number of times), he used his speed to score. He got on base 103 times between walks, hit-by-pitches, and hits, and he scored 50 times. That is someone I would want on base in crunch time.
Peter Maris (63 games, .267/.356/.321, 64 hits (9 XBH), 1 home run, 33 runs, 29 runs batted in, 6 for 12 in stolen base attempts, 12.3% walk rate, 13.3% strikeout rate in 285 plate appearances for rookie-level Princeton)
Peter Maris played exactly like the slap hitter he is: lots of singles, and not a lot of power. That was evident in his .321 slugging and .054 ISO. He signed out of UC Santa Barbara this year and went to the Appalachian League. He knows how to get on base and walked a lot this season. Meanwhile, the strikeouts were kept to a level you hope to see from a young player. If it stays that low, he'll be okay. The stolen bases weren't where you hope to see from a guy who really only hits singles though. Getting that up would be a benefit if he wants to succeed.
Adrian Rondon (43 games, .166/.256/.234, 24 hits (9 XBH), 3 runs, 11 runs batted in, 0 for 2 in stolen base attempts, 10.4% walk rate, 34.8% strikeout rate in 164 plate appearances for GCL Rays)
I sure hope how Rondon is playing is based on his age and not on his ability because if it is the latter, oh boy. Let's give em the bad news first, doc. He struck out a whole lot, more than a third of the time. I'm sorry, but if he keeps playing like that, he'll be out the door fairly quickly. Like so many other players, the strikeouts have really hampered his ability to hit. Scouts like his raw tools, but they're certainly that: raw. I'll give him leeway this year since he just turned 17 in July, but if he puts up a performance like this next season, it'll certainly raise some questions about his status as a top-10 prospect in the system.
- Catcher: Justin O'Conner
- First Base: Jake Bauers
- Second Base: Kean Wong