The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.
Today we cover the players representing the AL East for the first time.
Baltimore Orioles (S2S 2012 Orioles Team Prospect List)
3B – Jason Esposito (21) – Orioles 2011 2nd Round Pick
Reasoning – The Kansas City Royals picked Esposito in the 7th Round of the 2008 draft and offered him a signing bonus in excess of a million dollars. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to convince him to forgo his commitment to Vanderbilt and he wound up being the only one of their first 10 picks to go unsigned. Kansas City still walked away from that draft with Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Johnny Giavotella, John Lamb and Greg Billo but Esposito would have been a nice addition to their haul.
2011 – Vanderbilt University
2012 – Delmarva (A): 0.259/.340/.335, 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 SB, 18 BB and 35 SO in 191 PA
Notes – Esposito finished the month of April with a line of 0.221/.330/.256 but has shown signs of life in May hitting 0.298/.352/.417. All in all he’s off to a pretty good start.
RHP – Bobby Bundy (22) – Orioles 2008 8th Round Pick
Reasoning – He’s Dylan’s big brother, gets completely overlooked, and I’ve written about him before.
2011 – Frederick (A+)/Bowie: 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 127 H, 42 BB and 113 SO in 136.0 IP
2012 – Bowie (AA): 5.26 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 51 H, 17 BB and 33 SO in 49.2 IP
Notes – The Eastern League chewed him up at the end of last season (9.60 ERA in 15.0 IP) so while this years stat line isn’t very impressive, it’s an improvement. In six of his nine starts this season he’s allowed at least four earned runs with the worst being a 4.2 inning, 7 ER outing on May 15th. His best start this year was a 6.0 inning, 2 hit shutout back on April 11th and he’s had other positive starts. He’s not going to set the world on fire like his little brother but I continue to believe Bobby will settle in as a #4/#5 workhorse starter once he reaches the majors.
C – Gabriel Lino (19) – Signed out of Venezuela as a NDFA on December 14th, 2009
Reasoning – Lino has the raw ability to develop into an excellent defensive catcher that can handle all aspects – mental and physical – of the position. He also has some power potential in his bat and of course I love following the career paths of catchers.
2011 – GCL Orioles (Rk): 0.282/.371/.462, 9 XBH, 8 BB and 13 SO in 89 PA
2012 – Delmarva (A): 0.214/.275/.317, 9 XBH, 9 BB and 44 SO in 138 PA
Notes – His performance this year in the SAL shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Lino just turned 19 a week ago and is one of the youngest players in the league while learning the most demanding position on the field. He’s struggled mightily in May (0.113/.167/.145) but had an excellent April (0.313/.375/.484).
C – Christian Vazquez (21) – Red Sox 2008 9th Round Pick
Reasoning – Did I mention I love the position of catcher? Based on what Vazquez did in the South Atlantic League as a 20-year old last year, he was the easiest selection of the three Red Sox I picked for this series.
2011 – Greenville (A): 0.283/.358/.505, 27 2B, 3 3B, 18 HR, 43 BB and 84 SO in 444 PA
2012 – Salem (A+): 0.228/.306/.283, 4 2B, 1 HR, 14 BB and 39 SO in 145 PA
Notes – Apparently he didn’t pack his power before heading to Salem, but outside of that things were looking good at the end of April (0.286/.373/.381). May has been more of a struggle for the young backstop as he’s hit 0.172/.232/.188 with one 2B in 16 games this month. Vazquez has struck out twice in six of his last seven games (13 total) and walked just once in that span.
LHP – Manuel Rivera (22) – Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA on July 2nd, 2006
Reasoning – This is one of guys Nathaniel mentioned in his Red Sox TPL as a sleeper so Rivera’s inclusion here is a tip of the cap to my pal Stoltz (who is now writing a regular column for Beyond the Boxscore if you want to check it out).
2011 – Greenville/Salem: 3.91 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 102 H, 33 BB and 106 SO in 117.1 IP
2012 – Salem: 5.20 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 30 H, 12 BB and 21 SO in 27.2 IP
Notes – Without question, Rivera has hit a bump in Salem. He made two starts at the beginning of the year and the second one was a 6.0 inning, 5-hit shutout. Of course that followed up a start that he failed to get out of the first inning (0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB). He’s been pitching out of the bullpen since his shutout start but has been consistently given 3.0 innings of work each appearance.
RHP – Keith Couch (22) – Red Sox 2010 13th Round Pick
Reasoning – Couch isn’t going to light up the radar gun or wow anyone with visibly outstanding stuff, but he understands how to pitch and maximizes what he has to get hitters out. His arsenal is average but he throws strikes and his feel for the craft of pitching is decidedly plus.
2011 – Greenville: 3.54 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 145 H, 19 BB and 123 SO in 137.1 IP
2012 – Salem: 3.77 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 42 H, 9 BB and 40 SO in 43.0 IP
Notes – Couch has value in the pen and the rotation and Salem is using him in both this season. In his last 3 outings he’s allowed 6 H, 1 ER and 3 BB while striking out 7 in 12.1 IP.
As an aside – I just realized that all three Red Sox prospects I picked for this have been teammates the last two seasons.
P – Pat Venditte (26) – Yankees 2008 20th Round Pick
Reasoning – He went to Creighton and pitches with both hands.
2011 – Trenton (AA): 3.40 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 80 H, 31 BB and 88 SO in 90.0 IP
2012 – Scranton/WB (AAA): 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11 H, 6 BB, 12 SO in 13.0 IP
Notes -Venditte is often viewed as a curiosity instead of a legitimate prospect, but he’s gotten results at every level and survived the transition to the upper level of the minors when few expected he would. He was proving up to the challenge of Triple-A in April but landed on the 7-Day DL May 2nd and hasn’t pitched since.
OF – Ravel Santana (20) – Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA on November 17th, 2008
Reasoning – Santana has a chance to develop into a legit five-tool player with better than average skills across the board. His strong performance in the GCL – as he transitioned to life in the US – was very encouraging.
2011 – GCL Yankees (Rk): 0.296/.361/.568, 11 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 10 SB, 17 BB and 40 SO in 185 PA
2012 – Not Yet Assigned
Notes – Waiting for the start of rookie ball in June.
1B/RF – Tyler Austin (20) – Yankees 2010 13th Round Pick
Reasoning – Very few players hit the 0.300/.400/.500 slash stat plateau but that’s exactly what Austin did in his first full season.
2011 – GCL Yankees/Staten Island: 0.354/.418/.579, 26 XBH, 18 SB, 15 BB and 39 SO in 201 PA
2012 – Charleston (A): 0.299/.361/.649, 14 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 10 SB, 15 BB and 48 SO in 194 PA
Notes – In 22 April games Austin hit 20 XBH including 9 of his 13 HR on the season which resulted in a staggering 0.828 SLG. His numbers have come back down to earth a bit in May but if he can up his walk total in the coming months another 0.300/.400/.500 season is a very real possibility.
SS – Brandon Martin (18) – Rays 2011 1st Round Pick (Supplemental)
Reasoning – Martin has at least average tools across the board with a great deal of upside. Still very raw he could develop into a standout defender at short and also wind up as a middle infield bat that doesn’ t need to buried at the bottom of a lineup.
2011 – GCL Rays: 0.255/.386/.340, 2 XBH, 5 SB, 7 BB and 12 SO in 57 PA
2012 – Not Yet Assigned
Notes – Martin figures to get things going in June when the rookie ball leagues start up.
OF – Joshua Sale (20) – Rays 2010 1st Round Pick
Reasoning – Sale was one of the best high school hitters available in the 2010 class – and a personal favorite of mine – so the extent of his struggles last season caught me completely off guard. Heading into this season Baseball America left Josh off their Rays Top-30 which strikes me as a rare drastic overreaction on their part. Every prospect deserves a mulligan for a bad season. Josh Sale just happened to get his out of the way in season number one.
2011 – Princeton (Rk): 0.210/.289/.346, 11 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 4 SB, 23 BB and 41 SO in 239 PA
2012 – Bowling Green (A): 0.366/.491/.805, 3 2B, 5 HR, 2 SB, 10 BB and 8 SO in 55 PA
Notes – We have liftoff! In his first 15 games against Midwest League pitching, Sale already has more home runs (5) than he hit last season. The slash stats speak for themselves.
1B – Cameron Seitzer (22) – Rays 2011 11th Round Pick
Reasoning – He was born in Overland Park, Kansas and is the son of Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. Reasons enough to keep tabs on his development in my book but his discipline and advanced approach are also feathers in his cap.
2011 – Princeton: 0.285/.407/.498, 14 2B, 11 HR, 6 SB, 43 BB and 46 SO in 268 PA
2012 – Bowling Green: 0.282/.377/.374, 12 2B, 19 BB and 21 SO in 151 PA
Notes – The jump to full season action hasn’t slowed Seitzer down. He’s still looking for his first HR of the season but does have a dozen doubles with five of them coming in his last ten games. In that same stretch he’s hitting 0.343/.439/.486 with 5 BB and 4 SO.
SS – Christian Lopes (19) – Blue Jays 2011 7th Round Pick
Reasoning – Lopes has made more than his share of appearances in showcase events as an amateur and at times was considered to be a potential 1st round talent but lackluster seasons during his last two years of high school drove down interest. The Jays landed him in the 7th round and may have one of the steals of the 2011 class, effectively buying low on the talented middle infielder.
2011 – High School (CA)
2012 – Not Yet Assigned
Notes – Just waiting for his professional debut …
OF – Michael Crouse (21) – Blue Jays 2008 16th Round Pick
Reasoning – Raw but athletic prospect, Crouse has been brought along slowly in pro ball. He put together a solid campaign last season flashing power and speed to the extent that some evaluators may have underestimated his tools and overall upside.
2011 – Lansing (A): 0.261/.352/.475, 26 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 38 SB, 44 BB and 113 SO in 421 PA
2012 – Dunedin (A+): 0.194/.306/.311, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 SB, 16 BB and 34 SO in 121 PA
Notes – The slash stats look rough so far but he’s slowly picking things up at the plate and has hit 0.258/.395/.419 with 6 BB and 9 SO in his last 10 games. He’s still striking out too much but the increased BB% over last year is nice to see.
RHP – John Stilson (21) – Blue Jays 2011 3rd Round Pick
Reasoning – A Big-12 product Stilson has the stuff and intangibles to be a standout at the front of a rotation or at the back of a bullpen. The only reason he fell to the 3rd round were concerns about his delivery and mechanics. Stilson’s combination of potential and risk make him one of the most “watchable” prospects in a system loaded with pitching talent.
2011 – Texas A&M University
2012 – Dunedin (A+): 2.75 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 38 H, 16 BB and 34 SO in 39.1 IP
Notes – Now 10 starts into his professional career, all signs are positive. His last start – a 5.0 inning, 1 hit, 1 run effort – was the best of his season and it included a career high 6 SO.
Topics: Baltimore Orioles, Bobby Bundy, Boston Red Sox, Brandon Martin, Cameron Seitzer, Christian Lopes, Christian Vazquez, Gabriel Lino, Jason Esposito, John Stilson, Josh Sale, Keith Couch, Manuel Rivera, Michael Crouse, New York Yankees, Pat Venditte, Ravel Santana, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Tyler Austin