Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Rays Prospect Predictions: Upper-Level Breakout

Every year here at RP, we send a survey around to Rays bloggers around the net to get their predictions on the upcoming season. This year's panel: Steve Slowinski, Jason Collette, rglass44, and mr. maniac from DRaysBay, John Gregg from Rays Digest, Tommy Rancel from ESPN Florida, Sandy Kazmir from OTTOTD, and Doug, BurGi, Scott, and myself from RaysProspects.

Today's question: Who among the upper levels will have a breakout year in 2012? For this question, consider any player with full-season experience.

Steve Slowinski: I'm very excited about watching Enny Romero's progress this season. Scouting reports give him glowing reviews, and he certainly has the upside of being one of the Rays' top three prospects as early as next year. His fastball is already dominant (92-97mph), and his main struggle to this point has been with consistency with his rotation -- much like Matt Moore's early struggles in the minors. While Romero is certainly no Matt Moore, and he will likely take a few more season before reaching the majors, Romero could jump up prospect lists this season after flashing his dominant stuff in Double-A. And if he gains consistency this year with his rotation -- thereby improving his command and the effectiveness of his off-speed pitches -- he could immediately become the Rays' next top prospect.

Jason ColletteWilking Rodriguez. I still love the arm even if it has taken some time for him to the point where he is at now.  His strikeout rate was nearly a full strikeout per nine above league average and while Midwest League hitters made contact with 59 percent of the pitches they swung at, they only connected with 52 percent of the ones that Rodriguez threw. The Rays see enough there to add him to the 40 man roster which gives me faith Rodriguez is heading in the right direction.

mr. maniac: Rays' fans have been waiting for Tim Beckham to break out for several years now. I think the year is finally coming (99% chance I am wrong). The bat speed and power have been there this spring. Hopefully he can fix his contact issues and continue to get more aggressive, which will lead him to a .280/.340/.430 line with improved defense.

rglass44Tim Beckham. This will be the first year he'll be starting a level where he ended the year before. Throw in the favorable hitting conditions for right-handers in Durham, and I think he'll be getting quite a bit of love come next prospecting season.

John GreggEnny Romero --- All the signs are there for a 2012 breakout. He has arguably the best stuff in the system, improved his K/9 rate for the third straight season and will be pitching in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. If he can make strides towards improving his command this season, then he has a chance to be the system's top pitcher going into 2013. 

Tommy RancelChris Archer - Obviously the results were not favorable, but Archer's stuff and makeup are still intact. I think he has the tools to remain as a starter; however, even if the command and changeup do not come along as quickly, his fastball and dominating slider could make him an impact arm in the bullpen as soon as September 2012. 

Sandy KazmirAlex Torres is like a girl at a party that looks fine from 20 feet away, but as you get closer she turns her head and you see that she has a giant pimple on the other side of her face.  Still, your eyes gravitate to southern locales and you quickly forget about the eyesore perched on her cheek.  You realize that in a week that pimple will be gone, but the rest of the package will still be mint so you put in the work and hope that you're catching her at a moment of vulnerability when you swoop in.  The pimple in Alex's case is his utter inability to control his fastball due to the insane amount of movement he generates out of his violent motion, but he's got ass for days when it comes to what he can do with his change up, breaking ball, and wild heater.  The hope is that this is the year that his pimples heal and he can turn a tantalizing skillset into Gio Gonzalez or Jon Sanchez.

BurGiEnny Romero. He will finally make strides in controlling his pitches which makes him more consistent and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball along with his excellent stuff.

Doug Milhoan: RHP Albert Suarez has only pitched 89.2 innings the past three seasons due to injuries and rehabbing. Expect a strong start in Charlotte with a promotion to Montgomery and a top 10 ranking entering 2013.

Scott GrauerMikie Mahtook. Sure, he hasn’t actually officially played in a full-season league yet, but he had a nice month in the AFL in November. He’ll start with Charlotte this year, and it won’t be long before he shows he’s deserving of a promotion to Montgomery. The Rays won’t need to worry about who their third outfielder will be once Upton leaves next season because Mahtook’s ETA is very soon.

Kevin Gengler: I'll hop aboard the Enny Romero bandwagon. He struck out 140 in 114 innings for the Hot Rods last season and should be able to take over the organization strikeout crown with Matt Moore graduating. Romero has struggled with control and command, but he did have eleven starts with 2 or fewer walks (though he wasn't exactly working deep into games). He had periods where he spotted the ball well, and his 2010 BB/9 with Princeton of 2.3 points to an ability to get it over consistently. As Steve mentioned, comparisons to Matt Moore would be unfair, but Moore had a 3.1 BB/9 in 2008 with Princeton and a 5.1 mark the next year with Bowling Green. Moore's control and change-up both developed far better than most, so expecting Romero to follow his path would be foolish, but Romero does have potentially dominant stuff.

15 comments:

  1. Enny Romero has looked good this Spring, I would definitely agree there. Among position players John Shelby has been impressive, as has Torrez.

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  2. I like Castillo, the ewitch-hitting cathcher who hit 330 for Bowling Green.

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  3. No matter how many years we do this I never seem to get the rules correct. I thought "breakout" meant player who wasn't already highly rated as a prospect.

    Since Enny Romero is #3 on the RP list and #8 on BA, I didn't consider him. Same with Archer (RP #8, BA #3), Torres (RP #4, BA #6), and Beckham (RP #9, BA #7). And Mahtook hasn't played anywhere, so I didn't count him.

    Therefore, Collette and I should be immediately declared co-winners before the season even begins. :)

    To the Romero supporters, don't expect a huge advantage when he moves up to the Florida State Lg this year from the Midwest Lg. It used to be that the Midwest was a much higher scoring environment and the FSL was more favorable to pitchers. But with new teams and stadiums, there is actually more offense now in the FSL, at least in 2011, when FSL had higher league runs/game, ERA, hits/9, HR/9, WHIP, batting avg, OBP, SLG, and OPS. It won't be a huge difference, but worth remembering when comparing Romero to prospects from the past.

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    1. But isn't it true that some players are rated highly as prospects because of pedigree or tools or hints at possible high ceilings although their performance to date has been less than stellar or flawed in some way? I tend to think these are the most likely to have a "breakout" in the sense that suddenly their full promise is matched by their performance.

      So, for example, if Archer develops a usable off-speed pitch and cuts his BB rate to around 3/9 while getting his K rate over 9/9 we could say he has broken out.

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    2. That's a good point, Robert. But how many are there? By that I mean highly rated (top 10-ish?) prospects who haven't had a good year performance-wise and have played in full-season ball? Beckham I suppose. Guess we'll just move the argument to the definition of what is a good year (or two). But I like the way you describe performance matching talent as a breakout.

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  4. Ha, it's definitely up to interpretation, Doug. I guess us Romero-supporters think he'll rocket into the top 50 (or even 25) prospects.

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  5. When do u think the next minor league cut will be? Do u think they will cut sometime this week or wait until the last day of camp? It will be interesting to see who they releases.

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  6. Rumor has it that there was a cut this morning.

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    1. John Shelby, but I haven't seen it confirmed yet. The AA and AAA outfields are too full if you move some of the guys from Charlotte up. If Guyer starts in MLB due to a DL that would open another spot at Durham, but still too many.

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    2. Stacy Long is reporting this, and he is on-site. Waiting for "official" confirmation could be a long wait -- the Rays have yet to "confirm" Sunday's reassignments on their "official" website.

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    3. Per Stacy and Joe Davis, Shelby has been released. I updated the depth chart and also moved Fuld to the DL as word now is he could player "later this season". That should move Guyer up and leave 2 final decisions: last bullpen guy between Badenhop and Gomes and MIF between Brignac and EJohnson. If Briggy goes DL that is done, and Gomes could go down to Durham to build velocity or possibly start on the DL. Things are more set than in past years at this point.

      Oh, and none of the DL's will be official until final rosters are set, no hurry and someone else could be injured in the mean time.

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    4. Honestly I don't think we need to keep all the AAAA guys down there in Durham this year. We don't need all that depth when he have guys that should be promoted. Kang, Figuero, Wrigley, and O'Malley should all get their shot at Durham before we keep some of these other guys (Coon, Feliciano, Salazar).

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    5. Amen to that, bvert38. Let's hope they reward the guys that have worked their way up thru the Rays' system - if they've earned a shot, they deserve to see their hard work pay off.

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  7. Ha, so much for my evaluation of Shelby! I have been in the northeast for a few days attending a funeral, should be back over tomorrow to see how things are going.

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  8. I like the idea of picking breakout players from those who are under the radar or guys not getting a lot of love on the prospect lists.

    For position players I think Cody Rogers could be in line for a break out year this year. He obviously has some holes in his swing and strikes out way too often but the tools are there for him to be a legit prospect. He has 20 home run potential, can steal some bases, and play all three outfield positions. I could also see Ty Morrison and Todd Glaesmann put their tools together this year and get back on the prospect map.

    For pitchers I kind of had a hard time, as I'm not as sold on some these starters as some of you are. But I do like some of the relievers that are under the radar, especially after watching some spring training games. I like what Dane De La Rosa is doing this spring. Obviously he is old, but sometimes those big guys just develop late and he may be one of them. He looks like he is pitching with a lot of confidence and I think he will help the big league club down the stretch and secure a spot in the 2013 bullpen by the end of the season. I also like Ryan Reid, I think this is the year he breaks out and becomes a contender for a bullpen spot. Scott Shuman has big time potential if he can control his pitches as he's got great stuff I think he will take a step forward but 2013 will be his ultimate "breakout" year. As for starters Andrew Bellatti is kind of under the radar and I think he will continue to pitch well and maybe start to get some love as he has put his off the field issues behind him.

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