SINCE THIS IS our first “Week in Review” for the Florida State League, we’ll expand our reach in order to get you caught up in baseball’s most-difficult High-A circuit.
Playing in the Florida State League means toiling in a very hot sun in ballparks with Major League dimensions. But don’t feel too bad for these prospects, since their clubhouses likely will be the best they’ll see until the day they make their debut in The Show.
Enough of that. On to the highs and lows to date:
Peter O’Brien (Tampa) – The 23-year-old catcher and third baseman split 2013 between Charleston and Tampa, swatting 22 home runs along the way. He picked up where he left off to start this season. He is tied for the league lead with four home runs and second with a 1.041 OPS. After striking out 134 times in 2013, O’Brien seems to be getting more selective. He’s on an 84-strikeout pace.
Viosergy Rosa and Terrence Dayleg (Jupiter) – Neither of these guys are considered top prospects in the Miami Marlins organization but they are doing their best to force their way into the conversation. Rosa, 24, overpowered the South Atlantic League a year ago to the tune of 23 home runs. The reason the Marlins were underwhelmed was his .252 batting average. In his first 13 games in High-A, Rosa is batting .383 with a league-leading 1.044 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. His batting average is merely second-best in the FSL thanks to Dayleg, who is batting .392. Wonder why you haven’t heard of Dayleg? He’s 26, ancient for the FSL, and he’s in this third season with Jupiter. Call it the Stephen Vogt Career Plan. Everything clicked for Vogt at a similar age while playing for the FSL’s Charlotte Stone Crabs. He eventually made his big-league debut in his late 20s.
K.C. Hobson (Dunedin) – The Blue Jays kept Hobson in Low-A Lansing for most of three seasons before finally promoting him to Dunedin in 2013. Despite swatting a career-best 19 home runs, he batted just .215, earning him a return to the FSL for 2014. So far, so good. Hobson leads the league with 18 runs batted in and a .313 batting average.
Matt Boyd (Dunedin) – The Blue Jays plucked Boyd out of Oregon State in the sixth round as a college senior. As such, he was considered an advanced, low-ceiling but safe bet to advance rapidly through the system and perhaps bolster the back end of the Jays’ rotation. He is as advertised. Three starts into his first full professional season, Boyd has yet to give up a run. He is 3-0 with 13 hits allowed in 17 innings. He has struck out 16 while walking just two.
Josh Hodges (Jupiter) – Good thing the Hammerheads have the league’s two hottest hitters because they also are home to the league’s coldest pitcher. On the surface, it was a minor surprise Hodges is repeating at Jupiter. He made 22 starts with the team last year and finished with a 3.60 ERA in 132 innings of work. Peripherals, though, highlighted a low strikeout rate (5.7/9 innings) and an unusually high number of unearned runs hinted the ERA was a mirage. This season is out to a disastrous start for Hodges: 0-2, 11.48 ERA and 28 hits allowed in 13.1 innings. He also has just five strikeouts. You’ll see more from him below.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Hodges gets the call for this one as well. In a 13-3 loss to St. Lucie on April 10, Hodges lasted just four innings, surrendered 13 hits and 10 runs (nine earned).