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 Collette: Wilking 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.
rglass44: Tim 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 Gregg: Enny 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 Rancel: Chris 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 Kazmir: Alex 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.
BurGi: Enny 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 Grauer: Mikie 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.