It's that time again; that time to look back and laugh at how bad all of our pre-season predictions were. Today we'll tackle the issue of upper-level breakouts, although to be fair to all the panelists... was there really an upper-level breakout guy (eligible was any prospect will full-season experience)? Matt Moore exploded from great to elite, but he doesn't really fit in with the spirit of the question. Probably the most correct answer is Hak-Ju Lee, though he faded badly down the stretch, or Tim Beckham, who didn't so much break out as maintain his production at higher levels. Or perhaps Alex Cobb, who held his own in the majors? At any rate, here's what the Rays' blogosphere thought before the season (original post with full explanations here):
R.J. Anderson (now of BaseballProspectus) chose Tim Beckham, which was as close to correct as anyone. He "gamble[d] that his supposed hard work and flashing of tools will be greeted with much-needed success backed by improved plate discipline" which didn't completely happen -- his walk rate fell from 2010 -- but his tools did earn better reviews in 2011.
Jason Collette (also now of BP, DRaysBay, and everywhere else) chose Joe Cruz. And this is where the flushing toilet sound effect goes. Cruz got battered for 11 starts in Montgomery before going on the DL with a shoulder injury. He returned late in the season but didn't find much more success in Charlotte. Overall, he allowed 52 earned runs in 61 non-GCL innings.
FreeZorilla (of DRaysBay) went with Ty Morrison, saying "[h]e could really catch national attention this year." Ehhh not so much. Morrison started the year hurt and tried to make up for lost time by swinging at everything, walking 11 times and striking out 67 in 67 games for Charlotte. He hit .264 with very little power, and his stolen base efficiency also took a hit.
Cork Gaines (of RaysIndex) pegged Tim Beckham as the guy, thinking "we will see enough offensively and defensively to once again believe he can be the Rays shortstop of the future." Which seems half-true, the future is looking brighter, though he may get pushed by Hak-Ju Lee.
Kevin Gengler (that would be me) also picked Ty Morrison. See FreeZo's for the stats, but here's the money quote from me: "Morrison will take over as the top center field prospect in the system, and I think one of the top three hitters overall." Frankly I'm just glad I didn't pick Scott Shuman.
Erik Hahmann (of DRaysBay) went with Chris Archer, whose control and command failed to take a step forward (5.3 BB/9 in 2011 vs. a 5.2 career number). Combine that with some BABIP regression and voila, an ERA nearly two runs higher. His plus stuff is still there, but he's shown little ability to consistently harness it.
Jason Hanselman picked Matt Sweeney, saying it was a make-or-break season for him. Well... it broke. Sweeney hit .154/.262/.282 in Charlotte and seems pretty cooked as a prospect.
Jake Larsen went with Robinson Chirinos, but his numbers took a big step back from his last two years with the Cubs. Jose Lobaton had the better statistical season at Durham, and while Chirinos should have a big-league future, Lobaton is in the majors right now and Chirinos isn't.
Mike Lortz (of Bus Leagues Baseball) both hit and missed on Tim Beckham. Hit: "I also think this is year he breaks double digits in homeruns (12-15?)" (A late-season surge got him to 12) Miss: "I think he will be an all-star at Montgomery, and among the leaders in walks and OBP. He’ll also probably hit around .300." (Walk rate took a step back; hit .271).
Doug Milhoan (of RaysProspects, of course) tabbed Albert Suarez, though a spring knee injury extended well into the season and limited him to 29.1 innings. His stuff was good enough to be added to the 40-man roster, but Suarez hasn't been able to stay on the mound with 133.1 career innings over four seasons.
Tommy Rancel (of FanGraphs and ESPN 1040) went with Alex Torres, who had a good news/bad news season leading the International League in both strikeouts and walks. His groundball tendencies help cancel out some walks, but "effectively wild" seems to be his control upside at this point.
Steve Slowinski (of DRaysBay) hopped on the Chris Archer bandwagon. While neither he nor Torres improved their control, Torres was able to maintain his high strikeout rate while Archer's tumbled from 9.4 to 7.9 from 2010 to 2011.