Projected California League (A+) Prospect Team

source: sportslogos.net

 

The California League is one of the best offensive leagues in minor league baseball. Last season the California League ranked 2nd in league OPS behind the Pacific Coast League in minor league baseball. A new batch of arms will once again face the trials and tribulations that the league has to offer and a new group of hitters will receive the benefit and also the doubt that comes with having great seasons in the league.

Once again, the sources I will use for the prospect rankings are:

 

Position Players

 

C Max Stassi, Stockton Ports (Oakland Athletics)

2011 Statistics (A+ Stockton): 139 Plate Appearances .231/.331/.331/.662 8 XBH 16 BB-22 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: N/A

Another in a line of professional baseball players in the Stassi family, Max was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by the Oakland Athletics and was signed to a then record $1.5 million signing bonus. Stassi’s first full season came in 2010 when he hit .229 with a .690 OPS in 465 plate appearances in single-A. However, a shoulder injury hindered Max to just 31 games in high-A in 2011. When he’s going strong, Max projects to have at least average power and has shown good patience at the plate. He’s struggled to hit for contact, though, and can get pull happy at times. Stassi struck out 145 times in 2010 and struck out 22 times in 139 plate appearances in 2011. Defensively, he moves well behind the plate. In 2010, Stassi threw out 34% of attempting base stealers. Max will likely return to the California League in 2012 where he’ll still be age appropriate at age 21.

 

1B C.J. Cron, Inland Empire 66ers (Los Angeles Angels)

2011 Statistics (Rookie): 159 Plate Appearances .308/.371/.629/1.000 19 XBH 10 BB-34 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: N/A

Taken with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Los Angeles Angels, C.J. Cron made his pro debut in the rookie league. Cron overmatched the league as he hit a homerun in nearly every ten plate appearances on average. C.J. is ready for high-A and could rake in the California League in 2012. C.J. was named a first team All-American by nearly every college publication in college in 2011. He batted .434 with a 1.320 OPS for the University of Utah. Cron has very good power and has the ability to hit for average. In terms of a hitting package, Cron is a complete prospect. As a first baseman, however, his value begins and ends with his hitting. Cron is not fast and defensively he won’t embarrass himself, but he also won’t likely win a Gold Glove either. Cron will likely begin in the California League in 2012 and is far enough along in development to put him in line for a quick rise through the Angel’s system.

 

2B Cory Spangenberg, Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres)

2011 Statistics (A Fort Wayne/A- Eugene): 330 Plate Appearances .316/.419/.418/.837 21 XBH 45 BB-57 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Baseball America (#78), Baseball Prospectus (#58), MLB.com (#81)

When the Padres selected Cory Spangenberg with the 10th overall pick they probably believed they were getting their leadoff hitter of the future. His debut did nothing to admonish that thinking. Spangenberg hit .384 with a .545 on base percentage in 121 plate appearances in short season A-ball and followed that up with a .286 average and .345 on base percentage in 209 plate appearances in single-A. Spangenberg is a very disciplined hitter and projects as a top of the order bat. He uses plus bat speed to hit for contact and has plus speed. In 72 games in 2011, Spangenberg stole 25 bases in 33 attempts. He isn’t as strong defensively at second base as you would think, but he is developing there nonetheless. In his first full year in professional baseball, he is likely to begin in the California League, which could lead to a big season.

 

3B Adam Duvall, San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants)

2011 Statistics (A Augusta): 510 Plate Appearances .285/.385/.527/.912 56 XBH 59 BB-98 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: N/A

An eleventh round pick in the 2010 draft by the San Francisco Giants, Adam Duvall had a very nice first season in professional baseball. A Louisville alum, Duvall hit .285 with 22 homeruns and 56 total extra base hits in single-A with 59 walks (11.6%) and 98 strikeouts (19.2%) in 510 plate appearances. Duvall hit .321 with a .548 slugging percentage and .962 OPS at home in 2011. All of that while playing his home games in a difficult hitter’s park. Duvall has a good bat and has shown good plate discipline. It remains to be seen which position he’ll end up playing as he mostly played second base in 2010, but played third base in 2011. Duvall could move up to the California League in 2012 and have a big season as he moves into a better stadium and league for hitters.

 

SS Billy Hamilton, Bakersfield Blaze (Cincinnati Reds)

2011 Statistics (A Dayton): 610 Plate Appearances .278/.340/.360/.700 30 XBH 52 BB-133 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Scout.com (#70), ESPN (#64), Baseball America (#48), Baseball Prospectus (#22),  MLB.com (#34), John Sickels (#57)

One of the better middle infield prospects in the game, Billy Hamilton looks to be a fixture in the middle infield in the future in Cincinnati. Drafted in the 2nd round by the Reds in the 2009 draft, Hamilton made his full season minor league debut in 2011. Known as one of the fastest players in minor league baseball, Hamilton stole 103 bases in 123 attempts in 135 games on the season. Hamilton doesn’t have a lot of power though. His speed supplements that though and his patience at the plate is a tick above average. In 2011, he walked in 8.5% of his plate appearances and struck out 21.8% of the time. Defensively, Hamilton has good range, but his arm may force a move to second base in the future. A move up to the California League should help Hamilton’s power, but he’s never going to be a big homerun hitter. Still, another 100 steal season may be within reach from minor league baseball’s most dangerous base stealing threat.

 

LF Domingo Santana, Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros)

2011 Statistics (A Lexington/A Lakewood): 467 Plate Appearances .287/.362/.471/.833 49 XBH 32 BB-135 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: N/A

The classic power hitting prospect, Domingo Santana brings a lot of power when he comes to the plate. One of the players that Houston acquired in return for Hunter Pence, Santana posted monster numbers (.382 average and 1.109 OPS) for single-A Lexington after the deal, albeit in a small sample size (76 plate appearances). At the plate, Santana brings plus-plus raw power and solid contact ability. He is a very undisciplined hitter, however, so it will be interesting to see how he handles upper level pitching. Santana won’t turn 20 until August, though, so he has time on his side. In the outfield, Santana has improved, but is still not great. He has a very strong arm, however, so the tools are there to at least be a productive defensive outfielder. With time and development, Santana has potential, but he has a lot to work on still and has yet to truly show the production.

 

CF George Springer, Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros)

2011 Statistics (A- Tri-City): 33 Plate Appearances .179/.303/.393/.696 4 XBH 2 BB-2 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Scout.com (#33), ESPN (#60), Baseball America (#59), Baseball Prospectus (#49), MLB.com (#84), John Sickels (#55)

An athletic outfielder selected by the Houston Astros out of the University of Connecticut with the 11th overall pick of the 2011 draft, George Springer will likely be playing alongside Santana in 2012. Springer has the ability to do a lot on the baseball field. Keith Law said he “was one of the toolsiest college position players that I’ve ever come across.” He has a strong 6 foot 3 inch, 205 pound frame, and is very gifted with tools. He showed good power in college with a .608 slugging percentage and 12 homeruns in 66 games. The next highest on the team was 6. He has very good bat speed and good discipline. Springer has very good speed as well, as seen by his 31 steals in college in 66 games.  Defensively, George has a chance to be a star with a strong arm and very good range in centerfield. In terms of ability, it’s hard not to project George Springer to be a star. Production will be the test of how far he gets.

 

RF Rymer Liriano, Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres)

2011 Statistics (A+ Lake Elsinore/A Fort Wayne): 580 Plate Appearances .298/.365/.465/.830 52 XBH 53 BB-108 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: #48

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Scout.com (#100), ESPN (#40), Baseball America (#49), Baseball Prospectus (#52), MLB.com (#60), John Sickels (#54)

After beginning the season in high-A, Rymer Liriano was demoted to single-A Fort Wayne in 2011. The move was made after a brutal start for the Lake Elsinore Storm, but it also opened the door for a big season for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. In 2012, Liriano will get another shot at the California League and likely with a lot more confidence after the dominant performance in single-A. Liriano brings a lot to the table. He has great bat speed and good power. He showed better plate discipline in Fort Wayne then he had shown previously, and he has plus speed. Liriano hit 30 doubles, 8 triples, and 12 homeruns in 519 plate appearances for Fort Wayne and stole 65 bases in 85 attempts. He batted .319 with an .882 OPS as well. Liriano walked in 9% of his plate appearances and struck out 18.3% of the time as well. Both were improvements on his career 7.9% walk rate and 28.3% strikeout rate before his single-A resurgence. Defensively, Liriano has a very good arm in right field and projects as an above average defender in right field.

 

DH Telvin Nash, Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros)

2011 Statistics (A Lexington/Rookie): 332 Plate Appearances .274/.380/.488/.867 32 XBH 43 BB-105 K

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: N/A

The third Houston Astro’s hitter to make this list, Telvin Nash should be hitting in the middle of a good lineup in Lancaster. A 3rd round pick by the Houston Astros in the 2009 draft, Telvin made it to full season ball for the first time in 2011 and made it a very nice debut. Nash has very good raw power and good discipline at the plate. He can have trouble from getting pull happy and a swing that could get eaten alive by pitchers at the upper levels. Still, the raw power and discipline does show some potential for now. Nash doesn’t bring a lot to the table outside of his bat, however, so his value will always lie in the bat. He will need to cut down on the strikeouts though to be successful at the next level. Telvin Nash, 21 years old, could take advantage of the California League in 2012 though.

 

Starting Pitchers

 

RHP Taijuan Walker, High Desert Mavericks (Seattle Mariners)

2011 Statistics (A Clinton): 6-5, 2.89 ERA, 96 2/3 IP, 69 H, 39 BB, 113 K, 1.12 WHIP

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: #23

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Scout.com (#77), ESPN (#24), Baseball America (#20), Baseball Prospectus (#14), MLB.com (#18), John Sickels (#15)

Taken 43rd overall in the 2010 draft, Taijuan Walker flat out dominated in his first full season of professional baseball. Pitching in the single-A Midwest League, Walker struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings and gave up just 6.4 hits per nine innings. He kept the ball in the ballpark and limited his walks to a comfortable number for a raw pitcher that was 18 years old for most of the season in single-A. Walker is just beginning to refine his pitching as he was a two sport star in high school. Still, Walker will pitch mid-90s with his fastball, which already is a plus if not plus-plus pitch. His secondary stuff is still developing, but he already has shown tremendous improvement for a pitcher so young and raw. His curveball has definite plus potential and his changeup is still in the works. Walker has the potential to join Felix Hernandez at the top of Seattle’s rotation in the future, but should face a challenge in the California League in 2012, especially with his home starts coming in High Desert.

 

RHP A.J. Cole, Stockton Ports (Oakland Athletics)

2011 Statistics (A Hagerstown): 4-7, 4.04 ERA, 89 IP, 87 H, 24 BB, 108 K, 1.25 WHIP

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: #30

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Scout.com (#76), ESPN (#33), Baseball America (#57), Baseball Prospectus (#60), MLB.com (#88), John Sickels (#52)

The centerpiece of the Gio Gonzalez trade this past offseason, A.J. Cole had a strong first full season. Cole flashed great control in his first year as he walked just 2.4 batters per nine innings and struck out 10.9 per nine innings. Known for his arm strength, as he’ll sit mid-90s with his fastball, A.J. Cole’s fastball is the foundation for a repertoire that has question marks in it. Cole’s curveball has potential, but is too inconsistent at this point. His changeup also needs to improve as left handed hitters hit .325 with an .814 OPS against him. Cole will join the group of starting pitchers staring straight in the eye of the hurricane, which is the California League.

 

RHP Zach Lee, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Los Angeles Dodgers)

2011 Statistics (A Great Lakes): 9-6, 3.47 ERA, 109 IP, 101 H, 32 BB, 91 K, 1.22 WHIP

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: N/A

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: Scout.com (#59), ESPN (#41), Baseball America (#62), Baseball Prospectus (#70), MLB.com (#45), John Sickels (#75)

Viewed as one of the most un-signable players in the 2010 draft, Zach Lee surprised everybody by signing after the Los Angeles Dodgers shocked everybody by drafting him in the first round (28th overall). Lee, a star quarterback in high school, had a very solid first season in the minor leagues. Lee controlled the ball well as he gave up just 2.6 batters per nine innings. Lee sits low 90s with his fastball, but can hit mid-90s on occasion. His changeup helped him allow left handed hitters to just a .229 batting average and .632 OPS against him on the season. He also uses a curveball and slider in his mix as well. Lee looks like he has the size and arm to be a part of the top of the Dodger’s rotation in the future.

 

RHP Daniel Corcino, Bakersfield Blaze (Cincinnati Reds)

2011 Statistics (A Dayton): 11-7, 3.42 ERA, 139 1/3 IP, 128 H, 34 BB, 156 K, 1.16 WHIP

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: #75

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: ESPN (#54)

Signed in 2008 out of the Dominican Republic, Daniel Corcino displayed an outstanding ability to dominate single-A hitters with power and command in 2011. His best pitch is a low-90s fastball that can reach mid-90s. He mixes in a slider and changeup that can both get different grades depending on who you talk to, although both show promise no matter who you talk to. Left handed hitters hit just .228 with a .628 OPS against him on the season. Batters in the first inning hit just .149 against Corcino, who gave up just 1 run all season in the first inning. However, he struggled in the second and third innings. He comes in at a slight frame of 5 foot 11 and 165 pounds listed, but there’s nothing slight about how his season went in 2011. Now he’ll face a big test in 2012, but if he can refine his secondary pitches more he could be a big part of the future in Cincinnati.

 

RHP Keyvius Sampson, Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres)

2011 Statistics (A Fort Wayne): 12-3, 2.90 ERA, 118 IP, 81 H, 49 BB, 143 K, 1.10 WHIP

Seedlings to Stars Top 100 Rank: #62

Other 2012 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: John Sickels (#82)

Another arm in the San Diego Padre’s deep farm system, Keyvius Sampson was selected in the 4th round of the 2009 draft out of high school. It would be difficult to top the season he had in 2011 when Sampson more than held his own in the Midwest League. Sampson struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings and gave up just 6.2 hits per nine innings. After his first start in full season ball, Sampson must have felt like it was all downhill from there. Keyvius threw six perfect innings on April 7th against South Bend, including ten strikeouts. It was his first and only double digit strikeout performance of the season, although he had three starts with nine strikeouts. Both left handed and right handed batters hit under .200 with an OPS under .600 against him on the season. Keyvius offers both a plus low-90s fastball and plus changeup, but lacks the third pitch at this time to make him a future front line starter. He should at least be a solid starter though, but could end up in the bullpen where he could truly be dominant.

 

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Topics: A.J. Cole, Adam Duvall, Bakersfield Blaze, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Billy Hamilton, C.J. Cron, Cincinnati Reds, Cory Spangenberg, Daniel Corcino, Domingo Santana, ESPN, George Springer, High Desert Mavericks, Houston Astros, Inland Empire 66ers, John Sickels, Keyvius Sampson, Lake Elsinore Storm, Lancaster JetHawks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Max Stassi, MLB, Oakland Athletics, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Rymer Liriano, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, San Jose Giants, Scout.com, Seattle Mariners, Seedlings To Stars, Stockton Ports, Taijuan Walker, Telvin Nash, Zach Lee

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