Topps has just released its 2013 August Player of the month awards, selecting one player from each league (player, parent club, league):
OF Tyler Moore, Nationals, International
Moore earned this nod by hitting four home runs with a .339 average, four home runs and 20 RBIs in the month of August. The 26 year old first baseman and outfielder was demoted in June after hitting .151 with a .478 OPS to start the major league season. He’s had tremendous success since, posting a .979 OPS in AAA and hitting .365 at the show after he was promoted in August. Just last year Moore hit 10 home runs in 171 at bats as a rookie, and with the Nationals possibly exploring trade options for current 1B Adam Laroche, he could be in the team’s 2014 plans.
OF/IF Eric Campbell, Mets, PCL
Never a powerful hitter, Campbell was selected for his average and his on base talents. The outfielder hit .355 while getting on base at a .474 clip in the month of august, allowing him to hit .314 with a .435 OBP for the entire season. Already 26, Campbell has never played in a major league game, but with an uncanny knack for getting on base and the ability to play both first and the outfield, he could have an outside shot at next year’s major league roster.
OF J.C. Linares, Red Sox, Eastern
After hitting only two home runs through his first 182 at bats, Linares joins this list for a surprising display of power. The 29 year hit six home runs with a .368 average and 25 RBIs in the month of august, while getting on a base at a .416 clip. After defecting from Cuba at 25, Linares was picked up by the Red Sox but has bounced around their minor league system ever since, playing well albeit not amazingly. Still, athletic, with above average defensive chops in the outfield, and a mediocre bat, the 29 year old Cuban could have short career as a good 4th or 5th outfielder.
P Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks, Southern
Finally, an elite prospect joins the list. Bradley was ranked by us as the #12 prospect in baseball coming into the year, and only improved his stock with a great season, capped off by a stellar august. The 21 year old righthander went a perfect 6-0 with a 1.24 ERA in the month of August. It was the capstone on a brilliant season that saw Bradley win 14 games, posted an ERA under 2.00, and struck out 162 batters in just 155 innings. With a solid April and May in AAA, the former first round pick could be in the majors by next June.
OF Randal Grichuk, Angels, Texas (tie)
Randal Grichuk holds the unique distinction of having been taken 24th overall in the 2009 draft, one spot before Mike Trout. Being selected directly before a runner up MVP can lead to some high expectations, but Grichuk struggled mightily in his first tour of AA. The 21 year old was hitting under .250 with few walks and only 15 homers before a monster August salvaged his season. Girchuk hit .304 with 7 home runs in August, bringing up his average to .256 and his home run total to 22. Still, his 92 strikeouts and only 28 walks are not indicative of high on base ability, and Girchuck may be in trouble going forward.
OF Kyle Parker, Rockies, Texas
Like many of the other members of this list, Parker is a former first round pick. Drafted out of college back in 2010, Parker has had success in each of his three minor league seasons, hitting at least .285 with a minimum of 21 home runs at each stop. The 23 year old almost missed the .285 mark this year, but salvaged his season with a .330 average and 5 home runs in August. The plate discipline is the only major hurtle left for the powerful outfielder, although he has flashed even that in the past, posting a .415 OBP in A+ ball last season. The Angels have a crowded outfield as it is, so its not inconceivable that Parker could be traded for pitching before next summer, when he should be major league ready.
2B Taylor Featherston, Rockies, California
Standing only 6’1 and a lean 185 pounds, Featherston is the ideal size for a middle infielder, and could conceivable supplant 2B DJ Lemahieu in the Rockies starting lineup within the next couple seasons. After an August that saw the 23 year old hit a Tony Gwynn-Esque .385 with four home runs and a 1.117 OPS, Featherston finished off the year with 13 homers, a .292 average, a .342 OBP, and an .826 OPS. The on base ability could use a little work, as he has only 30 walks against 110 strikeouts this year , but otherwise his offensive and defensive game is strong, and he should graduate to AA in 2014.
P Jake Cose, White Sox, Carolina
Tall and lanky, Cose used his 3/4-sidearm delivery to shut down A ball as a 22 year old before earning a promotion at the beginning of June to A+ ball. Cose got shelled in his first month, allowing a 7.09 ERA over 5 starts with more walks than strikeouts, and had a mediocre 3.93 ERA in July. August, however, may have been enough enough to earn Cose a 2014 promotion to AA. The righthander went 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA and a .182 opponents average. Still control was a problem, as he walked 20 in just 38.1 innings, and his inability to command his pitches may ultimately result in a move to the bullpen.
OF Byron Buxton, Twins, Florida State
The consensus top prospect in baseball turned August into arguably his best month of the year, as he epitomized an ideal leadoff hitter. The 19 year old Georgia Native was dynamic, hitting .402 with a .523 OBP, and 16 stolen bases. After being taken 2nd overall in last year’s amateur draft, Buxton has had a standout year, hitting .334 and being listed as the #1 overall prospect on both Baseball America’s and ESPN’s midseason prospect lists. A future gold glover in center, Buxton should be roaming Target Field Grass by 2015.
3B Joey Gallo, Rangers, South Atlantic
Gallo is one of the most enigmatic players in baseball, and there is a significant divide among scouts over his major league future. On the positive side, the side of those who believe that Gallo could be a 40 homer masher in the majors, is Gallo’s August. The 6’5, 19 year old third baseman leveraged his 6’5 frame into 12 home runs and a surprising .305 average, bringing his season total to 40 across two levels. On the other side are the scouts who point out that Gallo still managed to strike out 30 times in just 78 August at bats, and racked up 172 strikeouts and a .251 average on the year. Indeed, he may never make enough contact to play every day in the majors, but there are very few, if any, 19 year olds who can hit 40 home runs in a season, and Gallo’s upside is conceivably Ryan Howard.
OF Conor Bierfeldt, Orioles, New York-Penn
Drafted as a senior in the 29th round of the 2013 draft, Bierfeldt is not a man who you’re likely to see on many premier prospect lists, but he made the most of his first professional opportunities in the New York-Penn League. Bierfeldt managed a .345/.441/1.108 slash line with five home runs in the month of August, contributing to an overall stat line of .264/.351/.862 in 231 at bats. His potential isn’t high, but there are enough tools here to possibly project a future fourth outfielder.
OF Kevin Encarnacion, Cubs, Northwest
Already 21 years old and in his fourth professional seasons, Encarnacion is a bit too seasoned for short season ball, and he showed it in August. The young outfielder hit .370 with five home runs and a .433 on base percentage in the last full month of the season. This was part of a complete stellar year, as he posted a .997 OPS in the Northwest league. He’ll move up to full season ball next year where his talents will be fully tested.
1B Matt Dean, Blue Jays, Appalachian
Just 20 years old and still playing in rookie ball, Dean is still very raw, but his bat has proven to be real. The first basemen hit .396 with three home runs and a 1.014 OPS in August, en route to an overall slash line of .338/.390/.909. Dean is too young to make a true projection, but his smooth swing could make him a top hitting prospect going forward.
OF Daniel Rockett, Royals, Pioneer
Taken in the 9th round of 2013 draft, Rockett has hit very well and played a competent centerfield in his first taste in pro ball. His .352 average and six home runs in August helped contribute a season state line that features 11 home runs, a .311 average, and an .882 OPS. Rockett would have been selected earlier in the draft had it not been for a prior arrest, so he has more potential than a typical 9th round pick and could rise quickly through the Royals’ ranks.
P Pete Kelich, Padres, Arizona
38th round draft picks are not supposed to succeed at any professional level, but no one told Kelich this as the 22 year old righthander utterly dominated the Arizona league in his first professional season. He went 7-1 with a 1.40 ERA through 58 innings, but most astounding was his peripherals. Kelich struck out 69 batters and walked only one for the entire year, which meant his FIP was only 1.11. August was the highlight of his wondrous season, as he recorded 5 wins against no losses and posted a miniscule 0.33 OPS.
OF Rafael Bautista, Nationals, Gulf Coast
Bautista is a toolsy, young, athletic center fielder in the Nationals system. In August, Bautista behaved like the leadoff hitter he is, batting .325 with 16 stolen bases and a .360 OBP. The 20 year old Dominican was even better on the year, stealing 26 bases and getting on base at a .400 clip. He is still incredibly raw, but he could be a top outfield prospect in a couple years.