Matt Skole with Georgia Tech at the 2011 ACC baseball tournament (Photo Credit: Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE)

2012 Fish Watch: NL East - May Edition

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 NL East for the first time.

Atlanta Braves (S2S 2012 Braves Team Prospect List)

C – Evan Gattis (25) – Braves 2010 23rd Round Pick

Reasoning – I wrote about Gattis when he got promoted to Double-A at the end of April, but it was his 2011 season and his back story that got him on the radar to begin with.

2011 – Rome (A): 0.322/.386/.601, 24 2B, 2 3B, 22 HR, 2 SB, 25 BB and 53 SO in 377 PA
2012 – Lynchburg/Mississippi: 0.336/.417/.714, 12 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 1 SB, 16 BB and 20 SO in 163 PA

Notes – Gattis has hit 0.274/.348/.581 with 5 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 6 BB and 8 SO in 16 games since joining the Mississippi Braves. He’s not dismantling Southern League pitching to the extent he took apart the Carolina League, but he has successfully made the transition to Double-A. He’s not overmatched and I expect him to continue to get better as he adjusts.

3B – Kyle Kubitza (21) – Braves 2011 3rd Round Pick

Reasoning – Kubitza was a guy that intrigued me heading into the 2011 draft and his debut performance only amplified that.

2011 – Danville (Rk): 0.321/.407/.475, 16 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 9 SB, 24 BB and 38 SO in 190 PA
2012 – Rome (A): 0.239/.361/.444, 8 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 8 SB, 32 BB and 58 SO in 216 PA

Notes – Kubitza got off to a good start hitting 0.280/.404/.573 in April but hit just 0.213/.336/.351 in May. He’s currently mired in a 5-35 slump.

RHP – J.R. Graham (22) – Braves 2011 4th Round Pick

Reasoning – Not many 2011 draft picks had a better debut effort than Graham. That alone makes him a prospect to keep tabs on in 2012 and the Braves thought highly enough of him to send him to Lynchburg instead of Rome.

2011 – Danville: 1.72 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 52 H, 13 BB and 52 SO in 57.2 IP
2012 – Lynchburg (A+): 2.37 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 52 H, 13 BB and 41 SO in 64.2 IP

Notes – He’s given up 2 HR this year, something he didn’t do in his time with Danville, but he’s also dropped his H/9 and BB/9. He made 6 starts in May and had a 1.94 ERA with a 23-5 SO-to-BB in 41.2 IP.

Miami Marlins (S2S 2012 Marlins Team Prospect List)

LHP – Charlie Lowell (21) – Marlins 2011 6th Round Pick

Reasoning – Lowell was born in St. Charles, Missouri and attended Wichita State University. The big bodied lefty was also the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the year.

2011 – GCL Marlins/Jamestown: 16.20 ERA, 2.70 WHIP, 5 H, 4 BB and 6 SO in 3.1 IP
2012 – Greensboro (A): 4.67 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 41 H, 30 BB and 52 SO in 52.0 IP

Notes – Lowell finished April with a 6.38 ERA and 17-15 SO-to-BB in 18.1 innings pitched. Things went much better for him during the month of May with a 3.74 ERA, 15 BB and 35 SO in 33.2 innings.

RHP – Austin Brice (19) – Marlins 2010 9th Round Pick

Reasoning – Brice pulled off a somewhat rare feat by allowing fewer hits than walks issued in last season. That’s not completely unheard of but he did so while keeping his ERA under 3.00 and he struck out more than a batter per inning. According to Baseball America, his walks are not a byproduct of wildness, but rather an inability to harness his stuff.

2011 – GCL Marlins (Rk): 2.96 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 32 H, 33 BB and 55 SO in 48.2 IP
2012 – Greensboro (A): 4.36 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 34 H, 27 BB and 55 SO in 43.1 IP

Notes – His current 2012 statline reveals a slight decrease in the walk rate which is a good sign. In his last 18.0 innings, things are looking even better as he’s walked just 5 while striking out a whopping 28. For the month of May he put up a 1.67 ERA in 27.0 IP.

OF – Jesus Solorzano (21) – Signed out of Venezuela as a NDFA on June 29th, 2009

Reasoning – Solorzano had a fine 2011, his first in the states, and showed improvement over his previous two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. A toolsy, athletic prospect he seemed like a perfect selection for this list.

2011 – GCL Marlins: 0.299/.355/.454, 13 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 18 SB, 13 BB and 30 SO in 214 PA
2012 – Not Yet Assigned

Notes – Still waiting for Solorzano’s 2012 debut.

New York Mets (S2S 2012 Mets Team Prospect List)

LHP – Darin Gorski (24) – Mets 2009 7th Round Pick

Reasoning – Gorski made my post-season FSL All-Star rotation as the #3 starter. In that profile I wrote, “It was quite a stunning season given the two years that preceded it but also because he’s never been regarded all that highly as a prospect. In Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook he wasn’t even listed in the team’s minor league depth chart let alone cracking their Top-30 Mets list. Not surprisingly he also didn’t get a mention in John Sickels 2011 Baseball Prospect Book and had the look of just another organizational arm.”

2011 – St. Lucie (A+): 2.08 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 109 H, 29 BB and 140 SO in 138.2 IP
2012 – Binghamton (AA): 4.63 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 41 H, 24 BB and 41 SO in 44.2 IP

Notes – One of the things that helped Gorski to his breakout season in 2011 was a significantly improved walk rate – he cut it almost in half from 3.4 to 1.9. This season the walks are up again (4.8 BB/9) but he’s kept his H/9 and SO/9 within shouting distance of his previous seasons. All things considered he’s managed to tread water while getting a taste of Double-A for the first time, but he needs to get his walk rate back down to a reasonable level to maximize his potential.

OF – Travis Taijeron (23) – Mets 2011 18th Round Pick

Reasoning – The Mets were one of the organizations that I struggled to come up with three guys that were somewhat off the beaten path but did something that piqued my curiosity. When I stumbled upon Taijeron’s debut season I knew he’d be a part of this project.

2011 – Brooklyn (A-): 0.299/.387/.557, 13 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 22 BB and 64 SO in 225 PA
2012 – Savannah (A): 0.285/.394/.543, 14 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 28 BB and 60 SO in 221 PA

Notes – The above stat lines match up well with each other since they represent almost the same sample size. Despite moving up from the NYPL to the South Atlantic, Taijeron has hit more 2B and HR while slightly increasing the BB and slightly cutting the SO. In 103 AB during the month of May he hit 0.311/.393/.563.

OF – Brandon Nimmo (19) – Mets 2011 1st Round Pick

Reasoning – How could I omit the first ever 1st round pick out of the state of Wyoming?

2011 – GCL Mets/Kingsport (Rk): 0.211/.318/.368, 2 HR, 6 BB and 14 SO in 44 PA
2012 – Not Yet Assigned

Notes – Just waiting for the start of rookie ball and short-season leagues later this month to get my Nimmo fix.

Philadelphia Phillies (S2S 2012 Phillies Team Prospect List)

RHP – Julio Rodriguez (21) – Phillies 2008 8th Round Pick

Reasoning – Rodriguez was my choice for the #4 starter on our 2011 postseason FSL All-Star team. I’m a huge fan and believe that the under-appreciated righty will have success in the majors.

2011 – Clearwater (A+): 2.76 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 102 H, 56 BB and 168 SO in 156.2 IP
2012 – Reading (AA): 2.91 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 45 H, 26 BB and 49 SO in 52.2 IP

Notes – From May 2nd to May 19th Rodriguez had a run of four consecutive starts where he did not give up an earned run. In those 23. innings, he allowed 15 hits and 11 walks while striking out 22. His last two starts have been a much different story with 8 ER in 9.2 IP. The walks and hits are up and the strike outs are down but he’s not overmatched and he’s young for the level so there is no reason to worry.

2B – Carlos Alonso (24) – Phillies 2010 32nd Round Pick

Reasoning – A late round pick out of the University of Delaware he makes this list primarily as a result of Nathaniel’s write-up in the Phillies TPL. “Alonso walked nearly twice as much as he struck out in Low-A this year, with a 13/25 K/BB in 48 games. He was 23, so he’s squarely in deep sleeper territory, especially since he’s just an average defender at second who isn’t much of a threat on the bases and whose power is mostly to the gaps”

2011 – Williamsport/Lakewood: 0.322/.436/.425, 12 2B, 2 HR, 2 SB, 28 BB and 15 SO in 212 PA
2012 – Clearwater: 0.318/.390/.449, 5 2B, 3 HR, 1 SB, 9 BB and 13 SO in 125 PA

Notes – Alonso is proving that last season wasn’t a fluke, and he’s been getting better. He hit 0.329/.413/.500 with 3 HR during the month of May and is 14-36 in his last 10 games.

3B – Cody Asche (21) – Phillies 2011 4th Round Pick

Reasoning – Born in O’Fallon, Missouri he stuck to his Midwest roots by playing collegiate ball at the University of Nebraska. He struggled at the plate in his professional debut but his pre-draft scouting report suggested that he could develop into an intriguing power bat.

2011 – Williamsport (A-): 0.192/.273/.264, 11 2B, 2 HR, 24 BB and 50 SO in 268 PA
2012 – Clearwater: 0.354/.376/.474, 11 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 6 SB, 8 BB and 27 SO in 202 PA

Notes – What a difference a year makes! Asche has already equaled his 2B and HR totals from last season while playing 21 fewer games at a higher level. He hit 0.363/.376/.522 during May, but the 17-3 SO-to-BB is a little worrisome.

Washington Nationals (S2S 2012 Nationals Team Prospect List)

OF – Kevin Keyes (23) – Nationals 2010 7th Round Pick

Reasoning – Keyes struggled in his pro debut back in 2010 but showed significant improvement last season while moving up from the short-season NYPL to the SAL.

2011 – Hagerstown (A): 0.263/.336/.510, 22 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 6 SB, 32 BB and 80 SO in 342 PA
2012 – Potomac (A+): 0.185/.261/.377, 10 2B, 6 HR, 2 SB, 12 BB and 42 SO in 165 PA

Notes – Keyes got off to a terrible start with just 10 hits in 71 at bats during the month of April. He’s was slightly better in May with a slash line of 0.227/.268/.400 but the little momentum he generated last season seems to have vanished.

RHP – Cameron Selik (24) – Nationals 2010 22nd Round Pick

Reasoning – Selik gave up just a single earned run in five starts in the South Atlantic League last year and augmented that with a 30-3 SO-to-BB in 29.0 IP. He wasn’t nearly as good in the Carolina League but still effective and he already had my attention by that point anyway. Of course playing college ball with the Kansas Jayhawks helped him onto this list as well.

2011 – Hagerstown/Potomac: 3.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 114 H, 29 BB and 82 SO in 120.2 IP
2012 – Potomac: 3.68 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 20 H, 3 BB and 34 SO in 22.0 IP

Notes – The Nationals have moved Selik to the bullpen full time this year and his SO-to-BB rate has returned to the realm of ridiculous. He pitched to a 6.00 ERA in 9.0 April innings but has since started to adapt. In 13.0 innings during May he allowed 3 earned runs, walked 2 and struck out a whopping 23.

3B – Matthew Skole (22) – Nationals 2011 5th Round Pick

Reasoning – His younger brother Jake was a 1st round pick of the Rangers in the 2010 draft but Matt has more power potential. The elder Skole also has great patience at the plate and he put that on full display in the NY-Penn League after he signed. His 23 2B last season led the league.

2011 – Auburn (A-): 0.290/.382/.438, 23 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 42 BB and 52 SO in 319 PA
2012 – Hagerstown: 0.305/.453/.571, 11 2B, 12 HR, 50 BB and 55 SO in 234 PA

Notes – Skole has been consistent through the first 2 months of the season. He hit 0.321/.441/.538 in April and followed that up by hitting 0.293/.462/.596 in May. He continues to draw walks and is currently 2nd in the South Atlantic League in HR, OBP and OPS.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Austin Brice Brandon Nimmo Cameron Selik Carlos Alonso Charlie Lowell Cody Asche Darin Gorski Evan Gattis J.R. Graham Jesus Solorzano Julio Rodriguez Kevin Keyes Kyle Kubitza Matthew Skole Miami Marlins New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies Travis Taijeron Washington Nationals

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