Mar 29, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar throws out San Francisco Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie (not pictured) during the ninth inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Minor League Player of the Year Candidates

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Opening Day is upon us and there is no better time for me to make my maiden post for Seedlings to Stars. Minor League Player of the Year is a tricky award in that the best minor league player doesn’t always win the award. In order to win the award the player must be good enough to dominate every league that he plays in that year, but inexperienced enough to spend most if not all of that season in the minor leagues. Immediately this eliminated players like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Trevor Bauer in my mind as they all look to be major league bound before the All-Star Break. That being said I will now present my top five favorite candidates, in order, to win 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.

1. Jurcikson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers

2012 Opening Day Assignment: Frisco RoughRiders (AA)

Rationale: The Rangers are certainly pushing Profar by moving him to AA without a stop at High-A Myrtle Beach. The Rangers have never been afraid to challenge their top prospects and historically it has worked for them as well. All the reviews that I have heard from Arizona indicate that Profar is more than ready for AA despite his young age of 19. Profar is a legitimate five tool player with plus or better tools in every category. Profar’s power is the last of his tools to fully develop but giving his age it projects to fill out as he matures physically. Profar’s still raw power will be helped out by spending a majority of the season in the hitter friendly Texas League.

Projected 2012 Stat Line: .302/.415/.515 21 HR 82 RBI 30 SB

2. Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers

2012 Opening Day Assignment: Frisco RoughRiders (AA)

Rationale: Olt has light-tower power, combined with the fact that he is healthy and schedule to play in the extremely hitter friendly league of Texas League could lead to some serious home-run totals. Olt has some of the best useable power in the minor leagues and is improving his hit tool as well. Olt plays average to above average defense as he has quick reactions to make up for his lack of speed. If Olt’s hit tool can play above average like it is projected, he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.

Projected 2012 Stat Line: .285/.400/.530 34 HR 101 RBI 1 SB

3. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

2012 Opening Day Assignment: Bradenton Marauders (A+)

Rationale: The #1-1 from 2011’s draft looks to be on the fast track to the major leagues after some impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League. Cole should have no problems handling the Florida State League with his absolutely devastating fastball that runs up to the plate in the upper 90s. Cole’s change-up is already a plus pitch that he uses as a deceptive pitch and not just as a change of pace. Cole also features a cutter and a slider as well that grade as above average and slightly above average respectively. Cole’s biggest hindrance will come with the innings limit the Pirates are likely to put on their most prized possession.

Projected 2012 Stat Line: 120 IP 2.85 ERA 1.15 WHIP 11 W 127 K  37 BB

4. Wil Myers, RF, Kansas City Royals

2012 Opening Day Assignment: Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)

Rationale: Myers biggest benefit will having a full season of being healthy. This is Myers’ second year at Northwest Arkansas after struggling last year. His struggles stemmed from a knee infection that came when Myers had to get stitches to repair a cut on his knee he obtained from falling in the parking lot outside of the stadium. Despite coming back to Double-A for a second year Myers is only 21 and showed scouts in the Arizona Fall League why they should still believe in him. Myers has great bat speed and hits the ball to all fields and his swing leads to natural power. Myers’ doesn’t have a lot of speed, it is average at best, but he is a smart base runner. The former catcher isn’t the smoothest with his routes in right-field, but his plus arm helps makes up for the lack of range. If Myers can pick up where he left on in Arizona last fall, he will be due for a quick promotion to Omaha.

Projected 2012 Stat Line: .320/.415/.490 22 HR 90 RBI 15 SB

5. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

2012 Opening Day Assignment: Beloit Snappers (A)

Rationale: Sano has incredible power and hit 20 home-runs last year in just 66 games at Rookie level Elizabethton. Sano has shown an above average to plus hit tool thus far in his career, but has recently started a tendency to strikeout more often as well. Sano will never be mistaken for a slick-fielding third-baseman as he as almost already outgrown the position and will have to move to a corner outfield spot at some point in the future. It will be interesting to see whether Sano slows down over the grind of a full season, or if he can keep the pace up. Sano would also be best served to control his swing more and let his natural power provide home-runs rather than loft his swing like he did at times in 2011. Despite being in the pitcher friendly Midwest League Sano should have another big year in 2012.

Projected 2012 Stat Line: .280/.360/.550, 33 HR, 96 RBI, 7 SB

Honorable Mentions: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles, Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox, Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies, Rymer Liriano, RF, San Diego Padres, and Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals.

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Think I missed someone who could win Minor League Player of the Year? Let me know in the comments below, or you can follow us on Twitter @Seedlings2Stars and myself  @ScottKeltnerS2S . You can also keep up to date with all things S2S by liking our Facebook page.

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Tags: Beloit Snappers Bradenton Marauders Frisco RoughRiders Gerrit Cole Jurickson Profar Kansas City Royals Miguel Sano Mike Olt Minnesota Twins Minor League Player Of The Year Northwest Arkansas Naturals Pittsburgh Pirates Texas Rangers Wil Myers

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