The first-half All-Stars from the Single-A California League.
With the California League’s All-Star game in the books, the season’s first half has shuffled off this mortal coil. After a down year for top-end talent last year, the league has been defined thus far by significantly more “wow” talent, mostly concentrated among the top rungs of pitching staffs far and wide. Below you’ll find the complete All-Star rosters for reference, and then we’ll get into the league’s best and most interesting fantasy prospects.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Viewing the Cal League's first-half standouts through a fantasy lens.
Yesterday the California League All-Star roster was announced for the upcoming Cal-Carolina League All-Star Game at Lake Elsinore. On paper it’s the weakest crop by a good bit in the three years I’ve been covering the league, but there are certainly still plenty of fantasy-relevant names littering the roster that bare some discussion. Let’s take a look at some of them, and then I’ll follow it up with some notes on a few of the more notable non-All Stars from around the league as well.
Travis Demeritte, 2B, Texas Rangers (High Desert Mavericks) – Demeritte is a prototypical boom-or-bust fantasy prospect, with the latter the more likely outcome. He frequently loses his mechanics with wild swings from the heels, and after taking the Cal League by storm in April the book has gradually circulated on him and pitchers have been much more successful at keeping him in the yard and off the bases of late. He’s got a ton of strength and bat speed though, and the ability to provide a useful power-speed combination at a shallow position, though it’s likely to come with a low AVG. He’s in the conversation to be a top-150 dynasty prospect at this point, but it’s a high-risk profile and managers would do just as well to move Demeritte now if they’re able to before Double-A pitchers sink their teeth into him.
Find out who's worth watching on every team in the California League.
With action underway (if not postponed) throughout the minor leagues, we are happy to bring you these guides to the players you should be watching in each league throughout the minor league season. Throughout the week the Prospect Team will bring you a league or three per day, with every team covered, and every Top 10 prospect noted. We'll also provide reports on guys who couldn't crack the Top 10s, but are well worth your time anyway. Other pieces in this series:
Its players are a long way away from the majors, but that hasn't stopped an upstart league on the fringes of organized baseball from recruiting a new generation of boys of summer.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
As a new season dawns, Geoff looks at how baseball went west in the first place.
As Yogi Berra might say, we'll have all year to discuss the season. This week takes us in a different direction. Come, step into my TARDIS, as we examine the origins of professional baseball in each of the NL West cities.
Red Sox minor-league pitching coach Bob Kipper recalls his major-league playing experiences.
Before he became a highly-regarded minor-league pitching coach, Bob Kipper lived the dream that he now helps others pursue. The 46-year-old erstwhile left-hander spent eight seasons in the big leagues, and while his record was humble—27-37 with a 4.34 ERA and 11 saves—he considers himself privileged to have simply earned the opportunity. Taken eighth overall in the 1982 draft by the California Angels, Kipper was traded to Pittsburgh three years later and logged the bulk of his 247 career appearances with the Pirates. He has been a pitching coach in the Red Sox organization since 1999, and he spent the 2010 season mentoring hurlers in Double-A Portland.
What went right (and wrong) on last year's Top 11 lists.
Arizona Diamondbacks No. 1 Prospect: Jarrod Parker, RHP (52nd overall) What Was Said: “...If he comes back 100 percent, he's an All-Star.” Analysis: As expected, Parker missed the entire year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but by all accounts, his recovery has been a success, as he's pitching to live hitters in the instructional league and already touching the mid-90s with his fastball. A lost year is never good for one's development, but for Parker, everything post-surgery has gone as well, if not better, than expected. Two Through Eleven: First baseman Brandon Allen (second) had an interesting season at Triple-A Reno, slugging 25 home runs and drawing 83 walks in just 107 games, but a .261 batting average in a hitter's paradise still leaves a lot of questions. Top 2009 pick Bobby Borchering (third) really didn't get going at Low-A South Bend until the end of the season, but at least he saved his prospect status. Shortstop Chris Owings (fourth) was the best player on the South Bend squad before foot issues cut his season short. Outfielder A.J. Pollock (fifth) missed the entire year following elbow surgery, while fellow flychaser Keon Broxton (sixth) had some of the best tools in the Midwest League and led the minors with 19 triples, but also hit just .228 with 172 strikeouts. A pair of slugging 2009 draftees, outfielder Marc Krauss (seventh) and third baseman, at least in name, Matt Davidson (eighth) both impressed with the bat in their first full seasons, but lefty Mike Belfiore disappointed (ninth) in his. Converted outfielder Leyson Septimo (11th) still has insane velocity for a southpaw, and still has no idea where it's going. Sleeper: Thick righty Josh Collmenter continued to succeed at High- and Double-A but the lack of a true out pitch caught up to him in the Pacific Coast League.
Taking a trip through the California League, looking at the stadiums, surrounding areas, teams, and hot dog ratings.
California has been home to professional baseball for over 150 years. The move of the Giants and Dodgers from New York actually dramatically diminished the vibrant baseball scene in the state, as it lessened the importance of the Pacific Coast League and the farm system that fed PCL teams. In 1941, the California League was established. The league is in the High-A classification and has 10 teams-the Modesto Nuts, Stockton Ports, and San Jose Giants in Northern California, the Visalia Rawhide and Bakersfield Blaze in the Central Valley, and the Lancaster Jethawks, High Desert (Adelanto) Mavericks, Inland Empire (San Bernardino) 66ers, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and Lake Elsinore Storm in the Los Angeles area.
The league's stadiums range from post-World War II projects such as San Jose Municipal Stadium to state-of-the-art facilities with major-league worthy sky boxes, roving waiters, and enclosed restaurants and bars. Moreover, although statistics are normalized to counteract the effects of different stadiums, the features of different minor-league parks are largely unknown and not quantified. In this edition, three parks--Stockton, Lake Elsinore, and High Desert-are profiled, along with the towns and front office executives that make these clubs unique. Five parks and franchises-San Jose, Inland Empire, Modesto, Rancho Cucamonga, and Visalia-will be featured next week.
The ten worst defenses in the minors, and the pitchers that learned to hate going to the office because of them.
While going about the business of minor league player evaluation, I think we can sometimes forget that baseball is a team game. Often in the minor leagues, it seems a game between eight players that will never make it, and the one blue-chip player you came out to the ballpark to see. Scouts are able to watch a game with blinders that allow them to focus on one player's individual skills, independent of the other players around him. This is what separates amateur-talent scouts from the average baseball fan, but in statistics, we try to do this by accounting for context. What league was the player in, relative to his age? Was he consistently dominating? What type of environment was the player hitting or pitching in?