- No. 75 Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 210 pounds
Born: Sept. 23, 1988 (Age 24)
2013 MLB Stats: .249/.301/.444, 23 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB, 33 BB, 123 K, 125 G, 525 PA
Heading into 2013: It seemed likely the Padres would trade away Chase Headley, creating room for Gyorko, but the team was also preparing him to play second base. If the position change didn’t stick, there seemed to be a great chance Gyorko would spend much of his season in Triple-A. There were also major concerns about whether he could hit for power at Petco Park, or if his gaudy numbers were just the result of the PCL.
This season: Gyorko spent the entire year with San Diego, adjusting to the new position quite nicely. Though he needs to get on base more frequently and make contact more often, Gyorko has been one of the bright spots for San Diego this year, leading the team with 23 home runs and 63 RBIs. Headley also remained a Padre, though he had a year plagued by ineffectiveness and injury.
Looking ahead: No matter what ends up happening with Headley, Gyorko has established himself as a regular with the Padres. He really flashed his power at the end of the year, slugging 15 homers over the last two months.
Stock: Even, but he has graduated from prospect status.
- No. 74 Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 190 pounds
Born: Oct. 2, 1989 (Age 23)
2013 Triple-A Stats: .222/.317/.333, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 10 BB, 21 K, 22 G, 82 PA
2013 MLB Stats: .192/.259/.338, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 9 SB, 24 BB, 84 K, 81 G, 281 PA
Heading into 2013: The Twins traded away both Denard Span and Ben Revere, creating a huge hole in center field. Instead of seeking a free agent to fill in for a year or two, the team decided to fill the opening internally. With Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson the only other candidates, the job was Hicks to lose.
This season: An impressive spring training landed Hicks the Opening Day center fielder gig for Minnesota. Things did not go well. Hicks struck out in 84 of his 313 plate appearances for the Twins (26.8 percent). On the plus side, he did hit eight home runs and swiped nine bases in a half season and played fantastic defense.
Looking ahead: Hicks has been an up-and-down prospect his entire professional career up to this point. With great speed, an elite arm and some pop, there’s still a lot to like about him. It is discouraging, however, that he decided to go against the recommendation of the team and not play winter ball.
Stock: Down, but he has graduated from prospect status.
- No. 73 Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 180 pounds
Born: June 3, 1991 (Age 22)
2013 Double-A Stats: 3-2, 2.34 ERA, 11 GS, 57 ⅔ IP, 11.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.02 WHIP
2013 Triple-A Stats: 5-4, 3.74 ERA, 15 G (14 GS), 77 IP, 9.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.47 WHIP
2013 MLB Stats: 0-1, 3.52 ERA, 3 G, 15 1/3 IP, 6.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.24 WHIP
Heading into 2013: The hardest-throwing starter in the minors, Ventura entered the season as Kansas City’s top pitching prospect. He made just six starts in Double-A in 2012, making it appear likely that he’d spend the entire season in the minor leagues.
This season: Ventura had little trouble in Double-A prompting the Royals to call him up to Triple-A a couple months into the season. He continued to pitch well in Omaha,posting a 3.74 ERA in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. With injuries creating a hole in the back of the rotation, the team turned to Ventura to help them make a playoff push, and he performed very well in his debut.
Looking ahead: With his build, it’s not clear whether his future will be in the rotation or the bullpen, but either way Ventura figures to be a dominant force. The biggest question is how much can his slight frame handle? He’s held up quite nicely up to this point, and figures to spend the majority of 2014 in the Royals’rotation.
- No. 72 Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds
Born: Dec. 1, 1988 (Age 24)
2013 Triple-A Stats: 3-1, 1.14 ERA, 5 GS, 31 ⅔ IP, 9.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.04 WHIP
2013 MLB Stats: 10-8, 3.96 ERA, 27 GS, 152 1/3 IP, 7.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.24 WHIP
Heading into 2013: A former 24th-round pick, Straily was never considered a top prospect, but his 11.2 K/9 in the minors last season grabbed a lot of people’s attention. Despite the fact he made seven strong starts for Oakland down the stretch, Straily was no lock to land a rotation spot heading into the season.
This season: Straily completely blew away minor league hitters, showing he had no business pitching in Triple-A. In five starts for Sacramento, Straily posted a 1.14 ERA and averaged 9.4 K/9. He’s had mixed results for Oakland this season but ended with a spectacular September, posting a 2.10 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while averaging 7.8 K/9.
Looking ahead: Complimented for his mechanics and makeup, Straily looks to be a good bet to have a solid career as a back of the rotation starter. Quite the find for Oakland.
Stock: Even, but he has graduated from prospect status.
- No. 71 Clayton Blackburn, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 220 pounds
Born: Jan. 6, 1993 (Age 20)
2013 High-A Stats: 7-5, 3.65 ERA, 23 GS, 133 IP, 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.10 WHIP
Heading into 2013: Another sleeper, Blackburn had dominated the minors after being drafted in the 16th round by San Francisco. After posting a 2.54 ERA and 9.8 K/9 in ‘12, he was a prospect to watch heading into the season.
This season: Moving to the Cal League, a dip in his overall numbers was to be expected. He also gave himself a very high standard to live up to. He added over a run to his ERA and doubled his walk rate from 2012. Still, he finished in the Cal League’s top five in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.
Looking ahead: It would seem Blackburn’s performance could have garnered a promotion at the end of this season, but you can’t argue with the Giants’ recent success with developing starting pitchers. We’ll learn a lot about him next season when he faces Double-A opposition for the first time.