September 27, 2010
Monday Ten Pack
The minor league postseason is coming to an end. Here are 10 notable performances:
A fourth-round pick in 2009, Ceciliani kind of fell off the radar when he was held back for extended spring training, but he moved back into the spotlight with a dynamic .351/.410/.531 showing for the Cyclones during the regular season. A plus-plus runner with true center field skills, the 20-year-old Oregon native kept it up during the playoffs, going 9-for-19 with four walks and four stolen bases. His 2011 full-season debut is among the most anticipated in the system.
Michael Choice, OF, Oakland Athletics (Low-A Kane County)
The 10th overall pick in June, Choice's pro debut was more than impressive, as he slugged .284/.388/.627 for short-season Vancouver, mashing eight home runs in 102 at-bats; at the same time, he had a whopping 43 strikeouts across those same ABs. The good news for the Athletics is that they have had almost no major power at the major league level this season, so Choice will help out eventually. The bad news, obviously, is the Ks.
Dominguez was Florida's first-round pick in 2007, the same year the Marlins found uber-rookie Mike Stanton in the second round. While the pair were teammates for most of their pro careers, Stanton burst into the majors this year, while Dominguez remained stuck at Double-A while hitting a so-so .252/.333/.411. After leading the Suns to the Southern League championship while slugging three home runs in eight games, many feel Dominguez is primed for a big 2011 that will have him eventually teaming with Stanton once again.
Few prospects in baseball took a bigger step forward in 2010 than Hosmer, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft who hit .338/.406/.571 across two levels. In just nine games for the Naturals, Hosmer pounded out six home runs while driving in 12, slugging .857 in the process. The one concern about first base prospects is that they have to project as middle-of-the-order run producers to even be legit, and many think Hosmer will greatly exceed that and land in the big leagues at some point next year.
Jared Hoying, OF, Texas Rangers (Short-season Spokane)
A 6-foot-3 outfielder with good raw power and at least average speed, Hoying has the athleticism to achieve more than most 10th-round picks, but everything about his game looks wrong thus far. Both his swing and his fielding have a considerable amount of funk to them. Still, he earned Northwest League MVP honors with a .325/.378/.543 line, and he reached base 12 times in five playoff games, going 7-for-16 with five walks. Like many young players, Hoying has a disturbing amount of swing-and-miss in his game, but the Rangers feel they might have found a diamond in the rough.
Former Oriole Terry Crowley is the only player drafted out of Long Island University to reach the big leagues, but Jones has a shot at becoming the second. A fourth-round pick in 2009, Jones has the tools to rival nearly any player in the system. His .269/.355/.432 regular-season line showed a good approach, real power potential, plus speed—but an ability to look utterly foolish when exposed to quality breaking balls. Helping to lead the LumberKings to the Midwest League finals, Jones hit .356/.491/.600 in 11 post-season games, including three home runs and nine stolen bases, and he's exactly the kind of player who could put up some monstrous numbers at High-A High Desert in 2011.
After batting .307/.386/.492 while spending the majority of his full-season debut season at Double-A Akron, Kipnis has generated more buzz than any player in the system. He accumulated 14 total bases in four playoff games, and while he played at DH in deference to incumbent second baseman Cord Phelps (who had a breakout year of his own), most think it will be Phelps deferring the big league second base job to Kipnis in the end.
In one playoff start, Lynn struck out 16 batters in seven innings. It's pretty remarkable—he has average velocity and had an ERA of over 4.50 this season in the minors. Many now think he could provide St. Louis with some much-needed rotational depth in 2011.
After hitting just .163/.180/.244 in 22 games for the Mariners after arriving in the Cliff Lee deal, Smoak went back to Triple-A, stopped pressing and started hitting again. In eight playoff games for the Pacific Coast League champs, Smoak reached base an astounding 22 times, going 11-for-26 with 11 free passes. His power and patience are still big league-worthy, and Seattle hopes a fresh start in 2011 will be the key to his finally finding some success in the majors.
Trout was the story of the minors in the first half, but he went from amazing to simply very good following a mid-season move to the California League. He hit .306/.388/.434 in 50 games for the Quakes. In the playoffs, he scored 12 runs in 11 games while hitting .367/.415/.653 with three home runs. He's a fascinating prospect who could develop in a number of directions over the next few years, but all of them end with him as a big league All-Star.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .