Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 Predictions Review: Lower-Level Breakout

Back in March, we polled the Rays blogosphere for predictions about the 2010 season in the minors. Now that it's October and the minor-league season is in the rear-view mirror, it's time to take a look back and laugh at stupid things we all said. The panelists were: Cork Gaines from RaysIndex, Tommy Rancel then of DRaysBay, now at The Process Report, FreeZorilla from DRaysBay, Jason Collette from DockOfTheRays and The Process Report, Ricky/RZ from DRaysBay, and Jake Larsen, Doug Milhoan, and Kevin Gengler from RaysProspects.

Today we'll look at who we selected to have a breakout season at a lower level of the system. You can view the original post with our explanations here or check out the CliffsNotes version below...

Cork: Kyle Lobstein
Tommy: Matt Sweeney
FreeZo: Jason McEachern
Ricky: Alex Colome
Jason: Jason McEachern
Jake: Hector Guevara
Doug: Tyler Bortnick
Kevin: Ty Morrison


Kyle Lobstein finished strong down the stretch for the Hudson Valley Renegades in 2009, but couldn't translate that into success in 2010. His K/9 fell from 9.1 to 7.8 while his BB/9 rose from 2.8 to 3.3. While his ERA was nearly identical, his second-half numbers were better: A 77-27 K-BB in 80.2 IP vs. 51-27 K-BB in 67.1 IP. He's a flyball-heavy pitcher, and his 14 HRs allowed in 148 innings is actually a little low for the number of flyballs allowed. If there is a silver lining it's that he was healthy the whole year, and his 148 innings pitched ranked 4th in the league. His stuff hasn't come all the way back to what it was when he was a top HS arm, but he's very athletic which could help him get it back. Verdict: No breakout.

Matt Sweeney was covered in the upper-level breakout post as well, so I won't re-hash my comments. To Tommy's credit, he did say that health was the key for Sweeney, and injuries certainly played a part in his rough 2010 season. Verdict: No breakout.

Jason McEachern was a favorite of mine going into the 2010 season, though it was FreeZo and Jason Collette who tabbed him here. As one of the younger players in the Midwest League, he never got on track and struggled to a 5.68 ERA. His K/BB rate, 5.17 in 2009, fell to 1.58. He got hit hard, allowing 10.7 hits per 9 innings as well as 20 long balls. Lefties particularly gave him problems, hitting .328 off him. He'll be back with Bowling Green in 2011. Verdict: No breakout.

Alex Colome, selected by Ricky, is the closest thing we have to a winner here. While he had a nice season, including 118 strikeouts in 114 innings with Bowling Green, it sort of seems like he could've been better given the reports on his stuff. He was dominant at times, though, including a brief time with Charlotte, and his walk rate improved from 2009. Verdict: Not a breakout, but a nice season.

Hector Guevara was one of the youngest players in the Appalachian League, and it showed early on. He hit .179 and .211 in his first two months with Princeton, but closed strong by hitting .295 in August. He showed plus contact skills, striking out only 31 times in 64 games, and also stole 9 bases. His discipline and power were somewhat absent, not uncommon for a player his age. Verdict: No breakout.

Tyler Bortnick rebounded from a slow start to put up a line with Bowling Green that was almost the same as his 2009 line with Hudson Valley. He hit .303 in BG (.300 in HV) and finished with an .859 OPS there (.856 in HV). He showed a good eye at the plate, drawing 68 walks against 77 strikeouts, and also stole 41 bases between Bowling Green and 12 games with Charlotte. Verdict: No breakout, but a very nice season.

Ty Morrison was another member of the slow-start club. In April, he hit .129/.156/.161. He rebounded in May and June before sinking again in July, but rebounded again in August. In May/June/August, he showed off his potential: he hit .296 with 30 extra-base hits (including 5 of his 6 home runs). His walk total progressed throughout the year: From just one in April, 5 in May, and 8 in June to 12 in July and 14 in August. He also stole 58 bases while being caught only 10 times. Verdict: No breakout, but showed some promise.

Check back tomorrow for a review of our "most overhyped" predictions!


  1. Ty Morrison- All along, I felt he should have been in Hudson Valley this past season.He's young and he could have had a chance to develop with those more his age. If he did well, then move him up. (and HV sure could have used him!)

  2. I think that is a fair assessment of Bortnick.

    Comparing him to the rest of the MWL - he had the 7th highest OPS which was the highest OPS for any middle infielder as everyone above him was either a corner infielder or corner outfielder. Blake Smith, a second rounder for example, had an .852 OPS in the MWL.

    Bortnick did not put up Mike Trout numbers (nobody did) but he out-performed almost every other guy in that league who was drafted higher and in almost every category. Based on the fact he was "only" a 16th rounder, one could argue he "brokeout" given that slot number.

    He also added about 10 points to his fielding percentage from Hudson Valley to almost .970 and I believe he will continue to improve in that area as he continues to get his reps in pro ball. After the slow start in April, he hit about .340 or higher for the rest of his tenure in the MWL. Of course we cannot overlook April, but .340 for June, July, and August are arguably breakout numbers.

    Thanks for picking him Doug and thanks for your analysis Kevin.

  3. Bortnick has had a couple of nice seasons. From an age appropriate stanpoint, is he truly a prospect? I think so but time will tell. The days of daddy ball are over. He does not need a shrill, he only needs to continue to produce at the higher levels. You should be proud of everything he is accomplishing, but please, give it a rest.

  4. Anonymous - I could have posted as Anonymous well but seems like a cowardly and self-serving approach, frankly.

    Rather than taking cheap shots, why don't you offer something constructive or not be so cowardly and post your name so we can take our shots at you? Was there something I posted that was not factual? You've made the daddy-ball criticism before, why don't you give it a rest or otherwise skip my posts the next time you see them. Is free speech still allowed in this country?

    Figuring I would get a shot directed at his age, that is specifically why I mentioned Blake Smith who was a 2nd rounder by the Angels last year. Almost the same age, it illustrates the double-standard between high picks and low picks like Bortnick. No one ever seems to mention age when a high pick is involved. Everyone finds reasons to knock low rounders however. Ian Kinsler was a 16th rounder - is he any good?

  5. Daniel, don't mind him.

    I will continue to believe for your son till he fails to produce for more than one year.I will always root for him too. Next year, I hope they have him do Port Charlatte the first half, and if he plays well, a mid-season promotion.

  6. Anonymous II - thank you for your kind remarks and support.

    Look, if any of the forum managers here like Kevin, Doug, or Jim feel like I am unfair or over-the-top biased toward my own, I'll quit posting here.

    My son is not the only one I have posted on. I have posted on Chris Murrill several times, Ty Morrison several times, Mark Thomas several times, Alexander Colome several times, Albert Suarez and others that I have seen play. You won't see me ripping anyone here. If someone (e.g., a parent of a player) has issue with what I have posted, they'll know right where to find me.

    I don't care for the Anonymous posting feature here because people say things they wouldn't normally say if they were face-to-face in my opinion.

    To be honest, I think the age approriate comment was fine. The daddyball, shrill and other pejoritive comments are unnecessary. Nobody is being forced to read my comments. Please skip over them next time you see my name.

  7. why wasnt that wrigley kid on this breakout list?

  8. Daniel, don't worry for a second, you've never said anything inappropriate. And we appreciate the insight you have provided about your son and other players on many occasions.

    As far as anonymous comments, we balance the good and bad. Luckily we've had very few nasty comments over the years. Comments like the 'daddy ball' thing are more swipes than actual attacks so we let those go. If it became an issue we would end them. Compared to what I've seen on other sites folks here are much better behaved. And those sites don't allow anon comments! So I guess my point is if someone wants to say something nasty they'll register a name and do it anyway.

    Another reason we allow is because players, family, and others in the org comment here and may not want their names or contact info public. Anon allows them to participate too while protecting their privacy.

    If it becomes a problem we'll kill anons, but I really don't think it would stop those types of people, who we've been so lucky not to attract anyway.

    Now back to Tyler, I will disagree on this one. He didn't make the BA Top 30 and he was our #15 hitter prospect. As Kevin said he followed up 2009 with similar numbers in 2010, but in FULL season ball. That's a big deal to me. Going from an amateur schedule to short season is a jump, but going to full season is a big jump. Maintaining the bat plus the nice SO and BB rates, good defense, etc. over almost double (125 vs. 65) the number of games is a big deal to me. All while playing as a middle infielder - highly skilled, physically demanding.

    I don't see any way he doesn't move up on our top 15 hitters and make BA's top 30 (even with all the 2010 draftees who will make it solely on projection).

    To me that perfectly fits the definition of 'breakout'. Of course since I'm the one who picked him I'm sure we'll here from an Anonymous poster "no more dougy ball". :)

  9. Re Wrigley. This is a review of predictions made PRIOR TO the 2010 season, and no one picked him. If this was a REVIEW OF the 2010 season, Wrigley would certainly be in the picture. Congrats to him on a fine season.

  10. Daniel, your remarks are a great addition to the site. It was nice to hear a first hand account of what was happening in Bowling Green. Everyone can read a box score and statistics, but you provided the insight that could only be seen by attending a Hot Rods game. So many of the affiliates lack the ability to have someone from the site watch a game in person, it is nice to hear what is happening on the field. Thank you for that and by all means keep it coming.

    As for Big Wrigs...he has definatly proven he has broken out. He finished strong last seasona and it continued through this season. Look for him to get some props in the rankings for next season.

  11. Daniel's comments are some of the most insightful on this site and he's always answered questions and discussed Tyler's teammates as well. His participation is a blessing for those trying to get better coverage of the less covered low-level teams.

  12. That is awefully nice of all you guys to say those things.

    I'll give you guys my breakout guy for next year and his name is Albert Suarez and he is coming back from TJ surgery. Every time I saw him pitch it was always about 93-94 mph on the stadium radar guns. Moreover, I have met the young man and he is impressive physically but even better, he is an outstnding young man personally. His English skills are coming along fine but he is a kid who wants it really bad and is willing to pay the necessary price.

  13. Hey Daniel. Can you tell me the velocitys of the fastballs of Colome, Lobstein, and Wilking Rodriguez?

    I also have another question. Since you have a son playing for the Rays in the minors, how have they treated Tyler throughout his career? What I'm trying to say is have you enjoyed your son signing with the Rays more than you expected?

  14. Colome was a 95-96 guy last year at HV and seemed perhaps a few mph slower this year. He was hurt somewhat by the long ball this year and needs to develop his other pitches. Pro hitters can hit 96 and above when they know it is coming.

    Wilking is a 93-95 guy. Similar to Colome, he needs to work on his other offerings to prevent people from sitting on his FB imo.

    Lobstein is a young kid with good size. I don't recall him throwing extremely hard (perhaps 85-89) but when I saw him pitch he was effective when he kept the ball down and threw his various pitches for strikes.

    Keep an eye on Suarez. He cruised 93-95 coming off TJ surgery and may be ready to breakout this year.

    The Rays have been a good organization for my son because his style of play fits theirs. They have treated him well although I would be lying if did not tell you that it is frustrating (on my part) grinding one level at a time when the production says otherwise. We have enjoyed the signing because of his love for baseball and thrilled it has continued. Thanks for asking.

  15. Thanks Daniel.

    Nice to know Wilking is still throwing hard. As far as polish, who would you rank farther up? Which of the two do you think is the better pitcher now?

    Also, I will watch out for Suarez. I took McGee a while to get back on track.

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