Top Prospect Recap 16-20: Miller Graduates

Sep 3, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) scores the winning run past Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (3) in the eight inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won the game 4-3. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

#20 – Mike Zunino, catcher, Seattle Mariners

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 220

Born: March 25, 1991 (age 22)

2013 MILB Stats (Triple-A Tacoma): .227/.297/.478, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 0 SB, 17 BB, 66 SO, 52 G (229 PA)

2013 MLB Stats: .214/.290/.329, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 16 BB, 49 SO, 52 G (193 PA)

Heading into 2013…Zunino was clearly the most advanced player from the 2012 draft as he tore up High-A after he signed and reached Double-A just two months into his professional career. A powerful hitter and a more than capable receiver behind the plate, he was expected to become a big league star as soon as the summer of 2013.

Now that the 2013 season is over… The Mariners front office has wreaked of desperation long before Robinson Cano and Jay-Z ever entered the picture. Bereft of a catcher, they called up Zunino after just two months in Triple-A, despite the fact that he was hitting .238 with a .303 OBP there. The results were predictable as a player who struggled in the minors proceeded to struggle in the majors, failing to show either on base ability or significant power during his time at Safeco Field. Adding injury to insult, he missed six weeks after a fracturing his hand on July 26th.

Looking ahead….Last year was a lost season for Zunino, but he’s too talented to be written off. If there is even a drop of sense left in the Seattle front office, they will start him in Triple-A next season, but it’s looking increasingly likely that Zunino will report to Spring Training as the expected major league catcher.

Stock: Down

#19 – Christian Yelich, outfielder, Miami Marlins

Height/Weight: 6’4″, 189

Born: December 5, 1991 (age 21)

2013 MILB Stats (with Double-A Jacksonville): .289/.365/.518, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 5 SB, 26 BB, 52 SO, 49 G (222 PA)

2013 MLB Stats: .288/.370/.396, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 10 SB, 31 BB, 66 SO, 52 G (273 PA)

Heading into 2013…Yelich looked like the cliched five-tool outfielder after playing great defense and putting up stellar numbers across the board in High-A in 2012. It would be interesting to see how aggressively Miami pushed their former first round pick as he was only 21 and had yet to play a game above High-A, but certainly looked talented enough to reach the majors in 2013.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Yelich got to Miami in July and did his best to give credence to the five tool tag. He did everything – hitting .288, getting on base 37% of the time, swiping ten bags, and even knocking out a few home runs. The power will come as he fills out, and while fangraphs listed his defense in the outfield as costing the Marlins five runs over the course of the season, advanced defensive metrics are notoriously unreliable over short sample sizes.

Looking ahead….Yelich proved himself in 2013 and he’ll start in either left or center next year for the Marlins.

Stock: Up

#18 – Danny Hultzen, left-handed pitcher, Seattle Mariners

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 200

Born: November 28, 1989 (age 23)

2013 Stats (Triple-A Tacoma): 4-1, 2.05 ERA, 6 GS, 30.2 IP, 7 BB (2.1 BB/9), 34 K (10.0 K/9), 0.848 WHIP

Heading into 2013…The second most talented of Seattle’s pitching prospect trio, Hultzen was close to the majors and knew how to miss bats but needed to harness his command as he had a 9.9 K/9 in 2012, but a 5.4 BB/9.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Hultzen looked to have greatly improved his control and be on the fast track to the big leagues after he set off the 2013 season with a 2.78 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just six walks over four starts, but then went down with a shoulder injury. He tried to make a return in June and then September, but ultimately wound up undergoing surgery in October.

Looking ahead….The Mariners have already announced that the surgery will keep Hultzen out for the entire 2014 season. Shoulder injuries are generally much more difficult for pitchers to return from then elbow ones, and while its still to early to tell, this could jeopardize Hultzen’s entire future.

Stock: Down

Sep 10, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller (40) pitches to Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

#17 – Shelby Miller, right-handed pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 195

Born: October 10, 1990 (age 22)

2013 MLB Stats: 15-9, 3.06 ERA, 31 GS, 173.1 IP, 57 BB (3.0 BB/9), 169 K (8.8 K/9), 1.206 WHIP

Heading into 2013…Miller had been on the prospect radar as a future number one starter for years, and while his first tour of Triple-A was rocky, he settled down towards the end of the season. He was a good bet to join the Cardinals rotation.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Miller broke camp as the Cardinals number five starter and promptly unequivocally proved why he had been acclaimed for so long. Over his first 12 starts he went 9-3 with a 1.91 ERA and 81 strikeouts in just 75.1 innings. He was effective for the remainder of the season and finished third in the Rookie of the Year award balloting

Looking ahead….Miller has established himself as one of the best young pitchers in baseball and could take the next step to being one of the best pitchers – period – in all of baseball.

Stock: UP!

#16 – Tyler Skaggs, left-handed pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 195

Born: July 13, 1991 (Age: 22)

2013 MILB Stats (Triple-A Reno): 6-10, 4.59 ERA, 19 G (17 GS), 104 IP, 39 BB (3.4 BB/9), 107 K (9.3 K/9), 1.218 WHIP

2013 MLB Stats: 2-3, 5.12 ERA, 7 GS, 38.2 IP, 15 BB (3.5 BB/9), 36 K (8.4 K/9)

Heading into 2013…Skaggs has great stuff and had pitched well at every minor league stop, and while he struggled in a a handful of starts at the Major League level in 2012, 20 year olds aren’t really expected to succeed in their first few starts at the show. While he was unlikely to start 2013 in the Arizona rotation, he was on call should an injury arise.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Skaggs met his first resistance in the minors in 2013, as his 4.60 ERA was over a full run higher than it had been at any other season. He was no better in the majors, either, as he got lit up to a 5.12 ERA and 1.6 HR/9 in seven major league starts. That being said, his inflated home run rate is unsustainable and his peripherals were good in both the majors and minors.

Looking ahead….Some fans may have lost their faith in Skaggs, but the Diamondbacks front office certainly hasn’t. Nor should they as his arsenal and potential are far better than his stats may indicate. The Diamondbacks rotation is currently full, so he should start next season as he started this one, biding his time in Triple-A until a spot opens up.

Stock: Down

Topics: Seattle Mariners, St. Lo, St. Louis Cardinals

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