Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Minor League Breakdown: The Hitting Prospects

(Note: Bumped back to the top since it was a busy weekend. Originally published 8/5.)

After looking at the pitching prospects in my last breakdown (nearly a month ago) I’m going to take a look at the Rays hitting prospects today. I'm very sorry for the long interruption in my posts. My summer holidays in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, Seattle, Portland), including my second live MLB game (a dominant Jeremy Hellickson performance in Safeco Field paired the excitement of watching Desmond Jennings play and also sum dumb base running), are to blame for that. Anyway, here is my breakdown of the Rays minor league hitting prospects.

Overall Impressions

Other than in my last hitting prospects breakdown, now also the short season ball numbers tell us a lot. Overall I have to be pleased by the performance of the hitting prospects in the system. The top 15 pre-season hitting prospects diminshed a bit with a .263 - .353 - .763 - .329 (AVG - OBP - OPS - wOBA) line, but nevertheless the Rays finally have some very intriguing hitting prospects. Some already help the big league club (Jennings, Chirinos, ...), some are close behind (Canzler, Guyer, ...), some enter the upper levels soon (Bortnick, Lee, ...) and some, while still in the lower levels, could finally provide the Rays with above average power potential (Dietrich, Malm, Vettleson, ...).

(Click in image for larger view)

Hitting prospects stats overview

4 prospects on the rise

  • Jeff Malm … Scouts praised Malm for his advanced bat and enormous power potential when being drafted. And while I was very concerned after his first showings in the GCL and after Bailey and Glaesmann being promoted to Bowling Green over him, he this season shows what scouts saw in him. The power is there (.272 ISO, 11 HR's in only 182 PA's), the plate discipline is okay (BB% of 11.0; K% of 20.3) and he makes good contact for a power hitter.
  • Drew Vettleson … The 1st supplemental round pick looks very good. The bat is as advertised and I can’t wait to see him performing in full season ball next year. His AVG – OBP – OPS – wOBA stat line since my last breakdown is a fantastic .349 - .420 – 1.032 - .452.
  • Derek Dietrich … You can really see the progress here. His approach at the plate really improved since the last breakdown. After having a BB:K ratio of 16:66 at the last breakdown he has a ratio of 15:28 since then. Additionally, he shows power (8 HR, 19 Xtra base hits in last 154 PA’s) and good contact (.303 AVG). Overall he has a stat line of .303 - .390 - .973 and a wOBA of .396 since my last breakdown.
  • Robinson Chirinos … His bat has finally come alive since mid May. And while Jose Lobaton sadly got hurt as soon as he was promoted to the bigs, Chirinos seems to use his chance to conquer Jaso/Shoppach for a roster spot.

I’m sorry for not mentioning other very well performing players like Tyler Bortnick (NEEDS A PROMOTION!!!), Oscar Hernandez (Doug is watching him closely in his series of posts), Cameron Seitzer and Taylor Motter (ALSO IN NEED OF A PROMOTION), Russ Canzler (has to get a chance in the bigs in September) and Desmond Jennings (finally up for good).

4 prospects falling

  • Justin O’Conner … I’m really concerned now with his bat. He has contact problems and strikes out way too much. His stat line over the last 108 PA’s was .141 - .213 - .455 with a wOBA of .214.
  • Joshua Sale … You can see glimpses of the power potential which made him even being rumored as a top 10 pick last year. Unfortunately, reports which suggested that his bat is not as advanced and which said that he sometimes looked lost at the plate in XST are true. It's way too early to give up on him, though. He has only had 148 PA's in his professional career so far.
  • Cesar Perez … Advertised as a third baseman with enormous power potential he received a signing bonus of 1 mio. $. As it is with most 16/17 year olds they are still very raw at the plate. Nevertheless, the Rays were aggressive and played him in the GCL with 17 years of age. Sadly, Perez, hasn’t showed anything so far. His ’11 stat line is an abysmal .118 - .169 - .288 with a wOBA of .150.
  • Prep ’11 draftees so far … While the sample sizes are small and it’s their first pro experience: Nearly all of the high drafted prep position players struggle with some heavily struggling (Grandon Goetzman, James Harris Jr.). And while Johnny Eierman, Riccio Torrez and J.D. Davis (nearly signed) haven’t played yet I really hope for Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Goeddel and Trevor Mitsui to sign.


All of the stats provided above are excluding the stats from the previous day. I preferrably use 3 sources for the stats. Click on each stat for its explanation:


  1. tyler bortnick needs a promotion? i think his performance over the last few weeks proves he should stay exactly where he is.

  2. Am I missing something?

    Last 10 games of Tyler Bortnick: .290 AVG, .511 OBP, .930 OPS, 10:5 BB:K ratio (!!!!), 4 SB, 0 CS

  3. Wait what? Bortnick has hit well his last few games. Not just that, he has hit well for the whole season.

  4. The first 2 comments seem like baiting.

  5. I don't know what you people are complaining about. They aren't going to talk good about anyone who isn't one of their "top" prospects. They find a way to slam or not mention anyone that wasn't drafted high. Most bias website ever. It should be call RAYS "TOP PROSPECTS"

  6. I mean you have 3 guys from HV up there and one of those guys has only played in 1 or 2 games. What is your thought process behind that? Why break down his hitting on only 2 games? That is pointless. But I forgot he was picked in the supplemental round so you automatically put him up. THATS RIDICULOUS

  7. I'm embarrassed to be calling myself the same name as the 2 Anonymouses before me... Ease up on these writers, please. While I don't always agree with everything written, I do respect them and their written info. I check this site often, and am thankful for the game updates, trades, promotions, etc. If you don't like RP, please go elsewhere.

  8. @The next to last two anonymous: I'm sorry that you think we see it that way. I - for my part - and I know Doug and Kevin do it the same way look at ALL the minor league players in the Rays system. I'm especially fond of Tyler Bortnick (despite him being selected in the 15th or so round) and some other late round draft picks (e.g. Kyeong Kang, Marquis Fleming). It's not AT ALL about their draft status but the reasons behind them being drafted that high. We here always look at players who have the ability to help the MLB club in the long run.

    For my analysis I wanted to look at the progress over the year and thus I can't change the selected players that much during the year. It's very time consuming to get the stats of the players together and that is why I can't put more players in it. I've selected the players I want to look at (about 75-80 so far ... can't be all "top prospects") BEFORE THE SEASON. Thus, only adding players who others wanted to have included (e.g. Wrigley) or who performed very, very well (e.g. Riefenhauser, Voigt). In short season ball I stuck with my players from before the season while being well aware (and rooting very much for) of a Matt Rice, Gerardo Olivares, Parker Markel, ... .

  9. But maybe these comments are a good starting point for next year: I could ask the readers before the season which 30 hitters and pitchers I should follow and then later add up to 15-20 (overall) according to performance and draft. How would that be ... would you guys like that?

  10. I don't understand why taking a young player out of a situation in which he is performing very well and sending him to a different team in a different city is appealing or necessary. There are some young guys having exceptional seasons and letting them continue to do that where they are seems to be very logical.

    In September the callup situation may change that, but for evaluative purposes allowing them to continue in a positive environment.

  11. The Rays said it lots of times before and I belief in that as well. The players have to be challenged in their development. They have to be pushed to their limits in order to develop. This means for me that - if they can't learn anything anymore at a certain level - they should be promoted. Of course, you have to look at every player individually.

    So, looking at Bortnick:
    It's not like Tyler Bortnick would have been pushed over Port Charlotte. He already has 116 games in Port Charlotte. And from what I see he is ready for a promotion and he can learn much more in Montgomery now. Comments from his dad here on the site even are more in the direction of Tyler being frustrated to not having been called up yet.

    Cameron Seitzer and Tayler Motter:
    The same thing applies here. They would learn much more in HDV or even in BG right now.

    But, I also agree with you. You shouldn't push the prospects too fast (if you want to see what happens than: Check out the Mets). That is why I love the Rays for not promoting Hak-Ju Lee during the season. He still has things to learn at A+. It's early enough for him to play in Montgomery next season.

  12. I would like to read more about drafted players of each and every round to see how they measure up to top prospects. I think it would be an interesting read, to compare where each player is at on performance level.

  13. Last Anon, I'm working on 8 posts right now that are sort of what you're talking about. Not exactly, but you can sort of get to what you are talking about from them. I'm off to mow now, they should start posting this evening.

  14. I think an additional point about promoting players is the need to look at their ages. Bortnick is not a young player in relation to the FSL. He is 24 years old which is usually the age for players at AA or AAA even.

    In his case, as pointed out, it is not a question of skipping a level. He has enough experience at High A to indicate he is ready to be tested in competition with older players-that is players his own age. The Rays are very conservative about promotions, which I think is a good policy, but unless they have Tyler working on something specific that he can do more effectively in Port Charlotte, I think it is time for him to be moved up.

    If he were 20 or 21, I would be glad to see him kept at High A, but keep in mind he is 24. If he keeps moving one level at a time, he won't reach the majors until he is 27. In other words, he will just be getting acclimated to the majors, and unless he is Albert Pujols or Joe DiMaggio, he will be working out his mistakes during the inevitable learning process, just when he should be entering his prime.

  15. I have a hard time believing any of us, who see the team and players sparingly, have a better grasp of what a player has to learn at each level than the Rays' staff. The Rays do go slow with players, and I understand the frustrations, but more players have been ruined by playing above their level than by allowing them to spend extra time at a level where they are successful. I don't buy into a player not having any more to learn at any level, there is always something to be gained by playing in games against competition. Erring on the side of caution is not generally the most popular way, but it has plenty of logical basis.

  16. I am glad to see Stephen Vogt playing so well in AAA. But, this is nothing new- he has been playing well at every level. In my opinion, he is one of the top hitters in the entire Rays organization. I would not be surprised to see him called up in September, especially with the Rays not in contention for any playoff spots.

  17. Jim, I absolutely agree with you both about the Rays approach to promotions and their superior grasp of what players need to learn at each level. It is implicit in any comment I make that I recognize and admire their intelligent planning.

    That said, there is no conversation without dissent. If all we are to do is accept decisions without question, what is the point of posting anything? The Rays are not infallible, and no matter how respectful we may be of their processes, we may question their decisions.

    In the case of Bortnick, aside from the argument that they know what they are doing, what other argument is there for him to remain at high A? His age? His performance? The competition? The status of 2B prospects ahead of him? All seem to suggest, no demand, that he be promoted. I would be interested to know what anyone sees that indicates he ought to stay in the FSL.

  18. Well, it looks like the Hudson Valley Renegades are pretty much going to be out of the playoffs- AGAIN. Every season,around this time, our goal seems to shift from playoff hopes to settling for hopes of ending the season with a winning record. How sad that such a fan-supported team like the Renegades hasn't even made it to any playoff/postseason games since 1999. Please, Tampa Bay, give us a little more help in 2012. Thank you for your attention.

  19. Robert, my feelings on Bortnick are that the guys playing middle infield at AA (Beckham & Figueroa) both are having solid seasons and I don't see displacing either of them or using Tyler in a rotation with them as a good option. Taking AB & reps from any of the three is probably not what is best in the big picture, so unless one of the Biscuits' MI are injured or moved up it seems to make sense to leave things as they are.

  20. I get tired of hearing all of the Tyler Bortnick hype. Yes he is a good player but he is all you guys talk about. I am sure the reason that he is not promoted is because there is not a space for him in AA in the middle infield.

  21. "How sad that such a fan-supported team like the Renegades hasn't even made it to any playoff/postseason games since 1999. Please, Tampa Bay, give us a little more help in 2012. Thank you for your attention."

    It's not just HV, I don't think Princeton's made the playoffs in a decade either.

  22. Perhaps the Rays are unwilling to sacrifice playing time for either O'Malley or Figueroa, although I think Bortnick is probably the best of the three prospects. But there is nobody at Durham who is a serious middle infield prospect, and as both Figueroa and O'Malley are doing well at Montgomery, one or both could be moved there without blocking anybody.

    In any case, as Jim pointed out, the Rays have earned the benefit of the doubt, but given his age and performance I think Tyler needs to be challenged at a higher level. I don't think it has anything to do with hype. Nor is it impatience, as it might be labeled were we talking about a pitcher.

    Actually, I don't know what to expect out of Tyler Bortnick. Maybe he is destined to become a super utility player of the sort Maddon seems to love, kind of like Zobrist before he settled in as a 2B/RF. Maybe his tools and skills will fail him once he reaches AA. It is just that given his age and performance, I don't think the Rays will be able to judge until he is competing against players his own age, and that will never be so long as he is moved one level each year.

  23. Whoever does the depth chart it is off. Olivares hasn't played a game since probably the beginning and July. And Lyerly has been starting after since he got back from his injury which has been for about 3 weeks now. Also, Matt Rice is usually the main catcher with either Hollway or guillen as the DH.

  24. TIM BECKHAM was promoted to DURHAM...HAK-JU-LEE was promoted to MONTGOMERY. Will Dietrich be next???

  25. Selfishly I would like to see Dietrich stay in BG a little longer, I am in TN and hoping to see the Hot Rods play this week. But we'll see!